C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

No hoarding at liquor vends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Henceforth, liquor contractors will not be allowed to use huge hoarding and banners to lure customers. The advertisements, apart from being an eyesore, violate the terms and conditions of licence given by the excise department.

Those running liquor vends have been told they have to follow a uniform pattern as laid down by the department. The side walls of the make-shift vends will have to be painted in white, said an official.

Licencees have been taking hefty amounts from liquor companies to allow them to advertise their brands. The Chandigarh administration today categorically told the contractors that no hoarding would be allowed in the makeshift vends.

Sources said signboards at liquor shops would be according to specifications of the Estate Office and the excise and taxation commissioner. The vendor at no time would be permitted to advertise the sale of liquor.

Excise officials at a meeting held with the liquor contractors told the latter that no licencee would be allowed to sell liquor below the minimum retail price (MRP). Two more inspectors have been deputed by the administration to challan those violating the terms and conditions for grant of licence.

The licencee have also been asked to set up the newly designed ahatas by April 30.

Licencees have been taking hefty amounts from liquor companies to allow them to advertise their brands.



Tobacco vendors thrive on young clients
Nasha at stone’s throw from schools
G. S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
In utter disregard of prohibition orders, cigarettes and tobacco products are being sold near school gates-thanks to the indifference of the administration towards the growing menace.

What law says

The Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 2003,

  bans direct and indirect advertisements of all tobacco products;
bans the sale of tobacco products to minors
bans the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products within a radius of 100 metres of educational institutions.
Tobacco vendors boast of a regular clientele from schools, which includes teachers.

A survey of educational institutions, especially schools, revealed astonishing facts. These tobacco vendors boast of a regular clientele from schools, which includes teachers. A vendor, surrounded by kids, was found sitting pretty, bang opposite Sector 18 Government Girls Model Senior Secondary School.

“I sit from 8.30 am to 2.30 pm. School-children buy cigarettes, pan masala or gutka from me. We cater to the teachers too. Most students seek goods on credit and more often than not, we comply,” were the comments of these vendors.

The “service” is even better opposite the school gate of Government Model High School, Mani Majra. A barber who runs his business from the footpath opposite the school gate, provides ‘hard-hitting smoke’ too, but at a price.

On a tip-off, this correspondent asked the man for ‘something special.’ He agreed to the “supply” when offered handsome money. But as he learnt of the identity of his “ client”, he turned rude. “Mind your own business? Don’t waste my time and get lost,” he shouted.

Shops were noticed opposite GMSSS, Mani Majra, and some being run from houses adjacent to the wall of Kendriya Vidyalaya-29. Here, some vendors reportedly sell ‘stuff’ while ostensibly running juice, chana kulcha or tea stalls.

The situation was found the worst near the gates of schools on the outskirts of the city. There are vends displaying gutka packets and other tobacco products at a walking distance from the gates of GSSS, Karsan, GHS, Mauli Jagran, GHS, Kajheri, and schools at Colony No 4, to name a few.

‘Prohibition warnings’ are painted in bold on the boundary walls of almost all 109 government schools, informing the ban on the sale of cigarettes or tobacco products within the 100-metre radius of the school. Yet, shops and kiosks located a mere few steps from the schools openly offer the banned products to the students.

Officials in the education department said special teams had been formed to carry out surprise checks around educational institutes, especially schools, to check the menace.



Sarthak principal back
Geetanjali Gayatri/TNS

Panchkula, April 11
She's back as principal of Sarthak Model School, Sector 12-A. Reinstated within a gap of 10 days of her suspension for alleged negligence in the fire incident that led to the death of Aman Luthra, principal Madhvi Shrivastva joined office and proceeded on leave.

Two teachers, however, continue to be suspended. Five teachers who were charge-sheeted have sent their replies to the Haryana education department. The suspended teachers are likely to be reinstated shortly with dust settling down on the matter. Sources in the school said while the principal continued to frequent the school even during suspension, those in the office of the district education department confirmed that Shrivastva had proceeded on leave after giving in her joining report.

Action was taken against the principal and teachers for alleged negligence following the death of six-year-old Aman Luthra who succumbed to her burn injuries, received during the annual function of the school.



Quick Buck
Student steals, sells friend’s mobike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Unable to meet the cost of a lavish lifestyle, a student of a local private college allegedly stole the motorcycle of his friend and sold it to a Sector 15 resident at a throwaway price. However, his “luck” ran out and he landed behind bars after seven months of the crime.

Priyank Malik was arrested last night for stealing the motorcycle and the vehicle recovered from Rahul Prabhakar of Sector 15, who runs a gym in Sector 38. The accused are in their early twenties.

Investigating officer Pradeep Singh said in September last year, Sudhir Kumar, a student of B.Com at DAV College, Sector 10, lodged a complaint with the police that his Hero Honda Karizma motorcycle had been stolen. Sudhir had purchased the motorcycle in 2005 for Rs 78,000. Both Sudhir and Malik lived in the college hostel then.

Malik reportedly told the police that he would often borrow Sudhir’s motorcycle. He got a duplicate key of the motorcycle prepared and stole it. As he was in need of money, he sold the motorcycle to Prabhakar for Rs 9,000.



ITBP officer suffers bullet injuries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Assistant Commandant with the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force Ajay Kumar was admitted to the PGI late last night with gunshot wounds. He is posted at the ITBP Basic Training Centre in Bhanu near Ramgarh in Panchkula district.

Doctors attending on him said that he had sustained two bullet injuries on his chest.

He was brought here at midnight in serious condition.

The cardio-vascular surgeon who operated upon him said the bullets had pierced Ajay’s left lung near the heart.

Inquiries revealed that no FIR was registered either at the PGI police post or Ramgarh. The ITBP authorities are tight-lipped abut the incident. No officer was available for comment.



CBI videographs Forest Hill Resort premises
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The CBI videographed the premises of the Forest Hill Resort here today. The exercise was carried out in the presence of the patwari and tehsildar. The team carried out measurement of the area and recorded the irregularities at the premises.

The construction of the Forest Hill Golf Resort was embroiled in a controversy in 2003-2004, following reports that officials had allegedly connived with the owners to circumvent forest and environment laws and allowed construction of a golf course and a club house.

Several top Punjab politicians, bureaucrats, police officials and other influential persons were given honorary membership of the resort free of cost, allegedly to get clearance for the project.

Among those given free membership were former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, several of his ministers and aides, judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and several top IAS and police officers.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered the closure of the club. It was partially opened by an order of the Supreme Court.



NACO to airlift non-available ARV drugs from Bangalore
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Faced with an emergency situation caused by non-availability of a vital antiretroviral (ARV) drug type at ART centres across the country, the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) has decided to get them airlifted from the suppliers at Bangalore. The organisation has been attributing the unavailability of the drug to delayed supply by the drug supplying company in question.

The twin drug combination of Stavudine 40 mg, administered to people living with HIV/AIDS who are above 60 kg in weight, has been out of stock of State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) across India for more than two months.

The problem has been severe in Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal where the proportion of 60 kg plus patients is higher than at other locations.

And since the drug combination in question is administered to existing patients, its regular supply is critical for their good health. Simply said, a break in medication can embolden the HIV virus, which can then develop resistance to drugs, thus negating the entire treatment strategy which thrives on drug adherence.

Also unavailable for long has been the Stavudine 40 mg three-drug combination administered to new HIV/AIDS patients, who have not yet been strictly put on the ARV regime.

Irregular supply of this drug type and combination is not seen as very worrisome because it is not prescribed to existing patients.

Meanwhile, under pressure from patients who have been returning without the drug from the ART centre at the PGI, Chandigarh SACS, Chandigarh, has sent its representative to Delhi today to fetch the emergency stock by hand. Sources in NACO confirmed the move and said the stock would be personally handed over to the Chandigarh SACS representative.

The supply at Chandigarh is thus expected to be restored by tomorrow.

The rest of the stock of drugs will be acquired through regular procurement process from the drug company in question. But a stop-gap arrangement is already being worked out at NACO to fill the supply gap at ART centres in India.

It may be mentioned here that the supply of ARV drugs at ART centres was interrupted despite local SACS sending repeated reminders about the shortfall to NACO. Until last year, SACS were procuring the drugs locally in case such shortfall arose.

But soon NACO issued a circular warning SACS against such procurement, for apprehensions of quality control.

Right now, NACO only supplies those ARV drugs to patients which have cleared the various levels of quality control prescribed by it.



Wular will be cleared of willows to make way for water
Ministry evolving legal provisions to conserve wetlands
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) is in the process of formulating a draft policy for regulating the use of 94 valuable wetlands of the country. The move follows the commitment of the National Environment Policy 2006, which sought to evolve a legally enforceable regulatory mechanism to prevent wetlands from degradation.

The ministry has also sanctioned a project which will, for the first time since wetland conservation began in 1987, map and inventoried the wetlands. The project provides for the preparation of state-wise wetland atlases and creation of digital database with respect to each wetland on the ministry’s list.

A major intervention of the ministry in North India concerns the Wular Lake in Kashmir. Completely taken over by willows planted two decades ago, the lake hardly has any water left. The ministry now plans to uproot these willows for impact assessment. “It’s a sensitive issue as many stakeholders have to be consulted. But it is the only way to save Wular, considered the largest wetland of Asia,” said S. Kaul, director, ministry of environment and forests, here today to attend a regional convention on wetland conservation. Interestingly, in terms of size, Wular is already facing competition from Loktak wetland of Manipur, spread over 386 sq km.

In an exclusive interview, Kaul said that the ministry was highly concerned about the status of high altitude wetlands, which were under tremendous stress due to global warming and climate change. “High altitude wetlands are considered water towers of the world. All over, we are encountering water level changes due receding glaciers. Our water needs are already being affected. And because high altitude wetlands are the only sources of fresh drinking water, our commitment to their conservation is urgent. We are now ascertaining linkages on how these wetlands are being affected by climate change and how their special needs like grazing problems and pollution issues can be addressed.”

Meanwhile, the ministry is hoping for a hike in budget allocation for wetland conservation. Currently at Rs 30 crore, the ministry is asking for Rs 90 crore in the 11th Five Year Plan. “Money is needed to handle catchments area treatment well. A water body will be healthy only as long as its catchments area is healthy. Moreover, we have added a huge number of wetlands to our conservation list. We started with 10 in 1987. Today we have 94. We are also identifying more Ramsar sites which are currently 25,” Kaul said.

Right now 6, 77, 131 hectares of land in India is under the Ramsar Convention, which requires that these wetlands be protected under the international treaty which India has signed. Of this area, the maximum is in Tamil Nadu (3 8, 500), followed by Jammu and Kashmir (32, 625), Rajasthan (26873) and Manipur (26, 600). Punjab, with three Ramsar sites at Kanjli, Ropar and Harike, has 5684 hectares under the Ramsar convention.



Every year 7, 500 addicts join AA
Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
That alcoholism has reached alarming proportions can be gauged from the fact that more than 7,500 alcoholics join groups of Alcoholics Anonymous, a non-government organisation in the tricity, every year in an attempt to return to normal life.

Group members say that nearly half of them return to booze. "The problem of alcoholism can be gauged from the number of social and government agencies engaged in counselling and de-addiction of alcohol," a member said.

Started as a small enterprise in 1988, the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous has now seven more branches in the city and its vicinity. The group has at least 600 committed members, who returned from the brink of a shattered life.

The groups in the city and vicinity include Welcome Group which meets at Carmel Convent, Back to Basics(Mansa Devi Complex), Disha(Shivalik Public School, Sector 41), Hope (Shivalik Public School, Mohali), Samarpan (Little Flower Convent School, Panchkula), Open Hand (St Anne’s, Sector 32) and Open Hand (Sarvhitkari School. Kurali).

A number of social, medical and government organisations are attached with the AA. Counselling facility at the department of psychiatry, PGI, a refresher course at the Police Lines, a programme at the Institute of Correctional Administration, Sector 26, the Rotary Club, Kharar, and the Nursing College are a few of the major projects being handled by the group.

"Nothing helps an alcoholic better than sharing personal experiences and accepting problems", a member said.

"We are not reformists. We only share our pain with others to show the graveness of the problem," he added.

Symptoms of mild forms of alcoholic hepatitis

Loss of appetite
Nausea and vomiting, sometimes with blood
Abdominal pain and tenderness
Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
Fever /fatigue
Abdominal swelling due to fluid accumulation (ascites)
Mental confusion

(Compiled by Chandigarh Tribune Research Cell)



Info centre of little help

The director of tourism, Chandigarh administration, through a press note a few years ago, had notified through the media that the tourist information centre at the bus terminus in Sector 17 would daily function from 7 am to 7 pm and would only remain closed on national holidays.

The information centre is manned by assistant director, Chandigarh tourism. He does not ensure that the centre remains open from 7 am to 7 pm daily. Several foreign tourists have made complaints in this connection. The administrator may kindly pull up the guilty official.

Narinder Singh, "International", Chandigarh

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Thieves decamp with computers
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 11
Seven computers and a server worth about Rs 2.5 lakh were stolen from a showroom in Phase III B 2 here last night.

Owner of the showroom Gaurav Gulati said the thieves had taken away seven Lenova computers and one IBM server. They had broken three locks to gain entry into the shop.

He came to know about the theft in the morning when another person, who shared the premises, told one of his colleagues that locks of the shop had been broken. A case has been registered.

In another case, Gurvinder Singh of Phase XI complained to the police that he had gone to Delhi on April 7 and when he returned on April 9 he found the locks of his house broken. The thieves had taken away a pistol, 10 live cartridges and gold and silver ornaments.



Rs 809-cr credit plan for Mohali

Mohali, April 11
The annual credit plan for the SAS Nagar district to the tune of Rs 809 crore was launched here yesterday. The plan is for the financial year 2007-08.

Deputy commissioner Harjit Inder Singh Garewal, at a press conference here today, said more self help groups would be created and adequate stress would be laid on women empowerment. He said the pattern of the Gramin Bank, Bangladesh, would be adopted in this regard.

Earlier, the third consultative committee meeting of the SAS Nagar district, was convened by Punjab National Bank. While reviewing the progress of the annual credit plan as on December 31, 2006, Garewal disclosed that banks in the district had disbursed loans to the tune of Rs 542. Under the PMRY scheme. — OC



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