C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Zirakpur builder shoots himself
Tribune News Service

The blood-stained vehicle in which Vikas Singhal shot himself on Sunday.
The blood-stained vehicle in which Vikas Singhal shot himself on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, April 29
Forty-year-old Vikas Singhal, a builder from Zirakpur, allegedly shot himself with his licenced 7.65 mm gun here today. Though the reason for the suicide is not known, police sources said a setback in business was the most likely reason for the same.

Sources said two of his projects, Gulmohar City and Gulmohar Extension in Dera Bassi, had been grounded after the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCC) rejected the change of land use following an interim order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Family sources said Vikas with his wife Rita Singhal left for Mountview this morning around 10 am and returned in the noon. After that he dropped his wife at their Sector 6 residence and asked the driver to take him to his head office of Raglan Properties in Zirakpur.

“On reaching the Sector 8 lights point, he asked me to take him back. When we reached the house, he had a word with his servant standing outside, without getting off the car. He then asked me to take him to Zirakpur,” said Sonu, the driver, Singhal’s driver since the last three months.

On reaching the Sector 8 lights point the second time, Sonu heard a noise behind him. “I called Sir on the intercom, thinking our car had been hit by a stone. When there was no response, I pulled over the car. I found him bleeding from the temple and a gun in his hand,” he said.

The driver rushed him back home. The family took him to the General Hospital, Sector 6, where he was declared “brought dead.” A post-mortem was conducted in the evening.

The father of the deceased, LD Singhal, a former chief engineer of Punjab, said his son never discussed business with him and he lived separately in Sector 2. “I can only suspect that it was something to do with his business.

He was a self-made man. He was among those chosen for an award in the field of construction recently. Vikas would visit me occasionally but we did not discuss business.”

The police has recorded the statements of family members and initiated inquest proceedings.

Vikas is survived by his parents, wife and two daughters aged eight and 13 years.



Realtors in panic
Pradeep Sharma

Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, April 29
Recession in the real estate market and cancellation of the change of land use (CLU) of residential projects by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) seem to have claimed its first victim- Vikas Singhal- who committed suicide today.

Singhal’s death, who was a name to be reckoned with in the Dera Bassi-Zirakpur belt, has sent shock waves among builders and investors. The CLU of two of his major residential projects had recently been cancelled by the PPCB. Builders said the CLU imbroglio had hit real estate developers hard.

With demand outstripping supply in the wake of the construction of thousands of multi-storeyed flats, the builders are facing hard times. “With change of guard in Punjab and the Parkash Singh Badal government yet to clear stand on the mega project policy, the builders are in a state of anxiety,” a top builder said.

Sources said another worry for the builders was that property prices had failed to pick up after the 2005 boom.

The builders are pinning hope on the new Punjab government for revival of real estate. “The government should work out a formula to end the CLU imbroglio so that such unfortunate incidents do not recur,” Sunil Bandha of the Zirakpur-based ONS Developers.



Fire Ravaged
‘I am finished’
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 29
A night after the fire at a slum in Saketri, villagers today arranged for food and water to the slum-dwellers. While they cooked food for the children, the elders were given meals prepared at Mata Mansa Devi temple.

The Sakteri Bachao Morcha gave a sack of rice, flour and potatoes to each of the affected families. “I think they will be able to take care of themselves in the next three or four days.

Till then, this ration will suffice,” said Saketri sarpanch Mohan Singh.

The secretary of the Red Cross who visited the spot said they would arrange for a cycle, two blankets and a tent for each family.

She said each family had suffered a loss of Rs 7,000.

A wailing Chandravati, sitting around the remains of her jhuggi, said: “I had buried Rs 40,000 by selling three goats and working hard to be able to save money for my daughter’s wedding.

“I was to leave for my village on May1. Now, everything has been reduced to ashes. I am finished.” Mangal Singh moved around the area with burnt notes in a plate while Ram Sarup, running a shop of essential items within the cluster, said: “I sold my land back home to set up this shop.

“Today, I am penniless, having lost goods worth Rs 25,000 in the fire. Where will I go and who will compensate me for my loss?”

A mother with her 11-day-old child sobbed inconsolably, stating her medicine worth Rs 2,000 was destroyed.



Loss could have been contained
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

A slum-dweller shows damaged clothes bought for her daughter’s wedding that were burnt in last night's fire at Saketri.
A slum-dweller shows damaged clothes bought for her daughter’s wedding that were burnt in last night's fire at Saketri. — Tribune photo by Malkiat Singh

Panchkula, April 29
The district’s only fire station is ailing for the want of staff and it reflected very poorly in their response to yesterday’s fire in jhuggi clusters at Saketri. The villagers’ only grouse was that the fire brigade arrived very late, resulting in the gutting of the entire cluster and repeated calls to the fire station failed to elicit any response.

A visit to the fire station revealed that though there are two fire brigades available, there is only one driver available at any given time. The fire station is functioning with just 14 staff members, including two drivers who have to be spread out over three shifts.

During the Navratra mela, the drivers, Sukhdev Singh and Tarsem Kumar, are forced to be on duty round-the-clock. “Our area of operation extends from Kalka all the way to Raipur Rani. There are days when we are very hard pressed and the advent of summer and subsequent forest fires only worsen our plight,” remarks a driver.

Since there are only three people on duty in the three shifts of seven hour each, only one fireman can accompany the fire brigade on any operation. “One drives the vehicle, the second one accompanies him while the third one sits at the fire station to attend to calls. Since no staff is available, we have no choice but to attend to the more urgent complaint first. Also, sometimes, in a crisis, we hold the driver back even if his shift is over,” an employee explains.

In times of emergency, when nothing works, the staff relies on Chandigarh for help.There are times when the fire brigade is also called in from Ambala to bail them out.

While there are only two drivers at the disposal of the fire station, two new truck chassis have been standing at the premises, exposed to the vagaries of the weather. While the smaller one was meant to be used for VIP duty, the bigger one was to cater to the needs of the district in case of a big fire. As of now, they have not been fabricated to be used in times of need. Station fire officer R.P. Dhull was not available for comment all through the day.

Consequently, in case of an emergency, the residents will have to just count on luck, hoping there would be a driver available during hours of crisis.



Football coach seriously hurt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
In a freak accident, a former football coach of Sector 44, St. Joseph’s School, was seriously hurt when a jeep allegedly driven by youngsters in an inebriated condition collided head-on with his scooter in Sector 15 here tonight. Two out of the three occupants of the jeep fled after the accident.

The victim, Sewa Singh Bawa, is in his late twenties, was coming from Sector 15 on his Kinetic Honda (CH-03-A-7362) while the Mahindra jeep (PB-58-7785 was coming from the opposite direction.

The police said the jeep was at high speed and it toppled after the mishap before coming to a halt. Bawa reportedly sustained head injuries his condition was stated to be critical. The jeep was coming from the wrong side, said the police.

The victim was rushed to the Sector 16 hospital from where he was referred to the PGI.

The police has arrested Rajbir Singh of Faridkot. He is said to be a student of a private engineering college in Landran.

SHO of the Sector 11 police station inspector Puran Chand said the identity of the person driving the jeep was yet to be ascertained. Efforts were on to trace the accused. He said Rajbir was drunk. He would be taken for a medical examination.



Matter with law ministry

Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The controversial issue of conversion of industrial plots into commercial plots, without obtaining the approval of the Central Government, has reached the Union Law Ministry.

On a missive from the CAG, the Home Ministry has referred the matter to the Law Ministry for its opinion. The CAG has pointed out that the conversion policy notified by the Chandigarh Administration was in contravention of the Central Act, Capital of Punjab (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952.

The conversion policy —2005 was notified without seeking prior approval of the Centre.

Sources in the Home Ministry reveal that as per the CAG’s report, the conversion of the industrial plots into commercial plots was resulting in loss of crores of rupee to the state exchequer.

Though CAG had objected to the opening of personal ledger account (PLA) for utilising the money collected from the applicants under conversion policy, officials in the administration had claimed that the Finance Ministry has allowed the administration to use the money after creating a special public fund.



Swedish NRI passes away
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Skylark Ishwaran Singh Chadha, International Development Adviser to the World Bank and UNICEF among many other international bodies and a Swedish NRI, died of a heart attack here yesterday. He was 62.

He is survived by his daughter, Jubeeza and wife Damini Chadha. Both of them live in Sweden. However, Sky Chadha had been living in Chandigarh for the past several years.

He was cremated today in the presence of family members and a large gathering of friends and followers. Antim ardas and bhog will take place on May 2 at Sector 8 gurdwara. Sky Chadha was also associated with the World Bank, UNDP, UNICEF, ADB, and several other international finance and development organizations.

Currently he had been busy giving shape to his dream house "Leisure Retreat" in Sector 10, Chandigarh.



Bengali new year celebrated at Yavanika
S.D. Sharma

Panchkula, April 29
The open air Yavanika theatre complex was literally transformed to a home, away from the home, for the Bengali community here, as the three-hour musical bonanza brought alive the pristine Bengali heritage for the sizable crowd which kept swelling till the end.

The specially crafted event to commemorate the “Bengali Nav-Varsh 1414”, organised by the Bangiya Parishad, Panchkula, was also aimed at creating awareness and educating the younger Bengali generation of their rich cultural heritage.

The programme, inordinately delayed, commenced with “vedic satoram” presented by Parul Mita Roy. The organisers relied on an audio visual capsule which featured the architects of Bengal whose merited contributions in different spheres of life had made them the pioneer path makers.

Ably coordinated by Shakuntlka Sen and Shelly Bhattacharya, the audience watched in reverence the sterling role of heroes like revolutionary father of renaissance, Dr Raja Ram Mohan Roy, saints for communal harmony, Ramakrishan Paramhans and Vivekand, freedom fighters Neta ji Subhash Chander Bose and KhudiRam Basu, scientist J.C. Bose, litterateurs B.C. Chatterjee and R.N. Tagore, thespians Utpal Dutt, cine doyens Satyajit Ray, S.D. Burman, Hemant Kumar and Uttam Kumar, economist Amartya Sen, sportsmen Mihir Sen, Samresh Banerjee and Sourav Ganguly as also Dr B.C. Roy, the maker of modern Bengal.

“We want our progeny to keep emotionally attached to our roots,” said Rajiv Kundu, the patron.

Pallavi Ghosh, Anu Das, Sayantan Ghosh and Rytham presented dance numbers on Rabindera sangeet. Artists of Bangiya Parishad-35, led by music composer Debanjan Halder supported by vocalists Vaishali, Kajri Das and Bablu, presented group songs penned by Qazi Nuzrul Islam legendary poet of undivided Bengal.

Parishad president Aich welcomed the audience. Sumanto Ghosh and Rajiv Kundu also spoke on the occasion.



Transformer not installed
Power cuts leave Highland residents sweating
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, April 29
It is proving to be harsh summer for the residents of Highland society on the Zirakpur-Kalka highway here.

With the power supply playing hide and seek, the residents are sweating it out in the sweltering heat with the PSEB authorities preferring to look the other way.

In fact, the root cause of the power problems seems to be PSEB’s failure to install a transformer in the colony. This was despite the fact the transformer had reportedly been sanctioned by the authorities concerned sometime back.

However, the lower level officials here seem to be dragging their feet on the issue of the installation of the transformer, allege residents of the society. When installed, the transformer would go a long way in streamlining the power supply, which was currently in a sorry state.

Residents alleged that even as the unscheduled power cuts had made their lives miserable, no thought was being spared to streamline the power supply. Repeated representations to the board had fallen on deaf ears.

In fact, the complaint centre at Baltana is working without a telephone for a long time putting the complainants to lot of inconvenience. The residents alleged that there was nobody to attend to the complaints after 10 pm.

Meanwhile, officials claimed that efforts were being made to install the transformer.



ITBP holds disaster management training
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
A 24-day training programme on disaster response and management was organised for South Asian countries by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) at its campus near Ramgarh this month.

Mid-level officers from central police organisations like the Border Security Force, Central Police Reserve Police Force, Central Industrial Security Force and the ITBP were among the 25 participants in the programme. Representatives from foreign countries included those from Nepal and the Philippines.

The programme was conducted in collaboration with the Nepal-based National Society for Earthquake Technology and the Programme for Enhancement of Emergency Response, USA.

The programme was conducted at ITBP’s National Institute for Training in Search, Rescue and Disaster Response located near Ramgarh. The thrust area of the programme was “mechanical response to collapsed structures”.

Search and rescue in collapsed structures, extraction of humans, re-erection of structures and shelters were among the topics which formed part of the training curriculum.



Stop Setu Samundram project: Swami
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Shankaracharya of Puri Swami Nischalanand Ji Maharaj today urged the government to immediately stop the Setu Samundram project in Tamil Nadu in public interest.

Addressing a congregation at Baba Balak Nath Temple in Sector 31 here, he alleged that the Rs 2,427 crore project would cause irreparable loss to the cultural and architectural heritage of the country by destroying "Ram setu" connecting India and Sri Lanka.

Suggesting an alternative, he said the government should go in for the construction of a canal by removing useless sandy hills of Mandapam village near Dhanushkoti in Tamil Nadu. This would reduce the cost of the project, besides safeguarding the environment, he added.

Earlier, while welcoming Shankaracharya, Swami Budh Nath termed him as the crusader, who devoted his entire life to the safeguard of the Hinduism.



Former Air Marshal bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Kulwant Kaur, wife of Air Marshal R.S. Bedi (retd) and president of the Air Force Association (North Zone), passed away here today after a brief illness.

She had been actively involved in the welfare of ex-servicemen as well as families and widows of the deceased personnel.

She had also been associated with the Blood Bank Society, Chandigarh, for the past 30 years and motivated people to donate blood.



Fire in Sec 8 PCO
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Short circuit in a cabin in SCO 70, 71 of Sector 8 set on fire a photostat machine and other electronic appliances in a PCO here this evening.

Panic was triggered in the adjoining shops after fire was reported from a PCO located in the basement of the SCO. Smoke immediately engulfed the basement making it tough for firemen to enter the premises. Taking no chances the fire department pressed into action services of three fire tenders which reached the spot immediately. The fire was reported around 7.30 pm and it took more than 45 minutes for the three fire tenders to tame it down.

A police team also reached the spot to take stock of the situation. After assessing the spot, the police ruled out any possibility of foul play in the incident.



Man found dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
A body of a man, apparently in his sixties, was found near bus stop in Sector 18 this evening.

The police, ruling out possibility of any foul play behind the death, said no visible injury mark was found on the body. The body had been shifted to Sector 16 General Hospital. The police said the man looked like a beggar.



Dog menace

The population of dogs in Chandigarh is increasing day by day. One cannot walk on roads freely even in the mornings. Although the Animal Protection Society is in existence here, there is no Human Protection Society. I suggest that sterilisation should be started as it is being done in Himachal Pradesh where monkeys are a menace.

Hardev Singh, Chandigarh

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Rs 27,000, jewellery stolen from house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Bhupesh Kumar of Sector 50 reported to the police, alleging that Rs 27,000 and gold ornaments were stolen from his residence between April 28 and 29.

He told the police that thieves entered the house by breaking locks. A case has been registered under Sections 454 and 380 of the IPC in the Sector 34 police station.


A rehri-puller Shobha Chand of Rajiv Colony, Sector 17, Panchkula, reported to the police that a car hit his rehri at Mauli Jagran this morning. Shobha Chand, along with Joginder Singh and Mukesh, suffered injuries in the mishap. They were admitted to Sector 6 General Hospital in Panchkula. The police has registered a case of causing injuries with rash and negligent driving against car driver Prem Nath.

Vehicle stolen

Inder Malhotra of Sector 32-A lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Maruti car (DL-9-CM-7271) was stolen from the Sector 22 market on Saturday. In another incident, Satwinder Kumar of Sangrur filed a complaint with the police, alleging that his Maruti Zen (CH-03-P-8108) was stolen from Sector 15-D during the night of April 27. Similarly, Sanjay Varain of Sector 35-D filed a complaint with the police, alleging that his Hero Honda motorcycle (CH-03-E-5889) was stolen from Sector 8 on Saturday night. Three separate cases of thefts have been registered in various police stations in the city.


Karanbir Singh Mann of Sector 42 reported to the police alleging that an inverter was stolen from his residence on Saturday night. A case of theft has been registered.

Woman succumbs to burns

Seema, 22-year-old married woman, who allegedly suffered burn injuries while boiling milk on stove at her Sector 52 residence late on Friday night, succumbed to injuries in the PGI, this afternoon. The victim reportedly in her statement, recorded with the magistrate, stated that the fire was a result of an accident. She was admitted to the PGI in a critical condition with 100 per cent burns on Friday. Her husband, Ajay Kumar, who works for a private telecom company, rushed to the hospital after the incident.



Car rams into pole
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
In a desperate attempt to avoid collision with a car, driver of a speeding Tata Indica car allegedly rammed his vehicle into an electricity pole near intersection on road dividing Sectors 49 and 50, this afternoon. No one was reportedly hurt in the mishap.

According to witness, the accident took place at around 3:30 pm when the driver of an Indica Car, which was coming from Chandigarh, lost his control to avoid collision with a Hyundai Santro car. The Indica car, which was reportedly driven on high speed, slightly touched the Santro after which its driver failed to manoeuver it and rammed his vehicle into the pole. The other vehicle did not stop.

The front portion of the Indica car was damaged in the mishap and its bumper came off. The pole was uprooted following the impact of the collision.

The SHO of the Sector 34 police station said as no one was injured in the mishap and a DDR No. 24 had been recorded in this regard. The driver of the Indica car had been identified as Ashok Mishra of Sector 67, Mohali.



7 buses challaned, motorists booked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The traffic police has carried out a special drive against buses flouting the traffic rules.

Sources in the traffic police said in all, seven buses were challaned for dropping passengers at wrong places and for not plying on proper routes on Saturday.

Besides this, traffic police officials booked 128 motorists for various other offences.

The police officials used the new public address systems regarding wrong parking, other offences and information on road safety was given to the motorists before issuing challans to those who failed to comply with the rules.

Senior officials of the traffic police maintained that there was a decline in the traffic rules violations on the outer sectors as compared to the previous months.



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