C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


UT trips over 30 power spots
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The electricity department of the Chandigarh administration has identified at least 30 “sensitive” spots in the city where power lines are witnessing an additional load which can cause power tripping, unscheduled cuts and fluctuation in voltage.

A detailed report has been prepared on these spots needing transformers because of overload on account of undisclosed connections or additional demand. "In both cases, the department has to install new transformers," a senior official said. Certain areas identified for change in transformers include Sectors 22-B, 22-C, 25, 30, 36, 46, 56, Milk Colony, Dhanas, Indra and Bank Colonies and Mani Majra.

In the last financial year (2006-2007), more than 42 transformers were added or replaced in the city, including Sectors 34, 35, 36 and 37. "The department has ordered an additional transmitter at every station which is 80 per cent loaded. At least 16 km of wire has been laid," chief engineer V.K.Bhardwaj said.

Senior officials say increased load every year leads to regular upgradation of the supply infrastructure. The demand for electricity during the peak season in 2000-2002 was 176 MW. The peak demand in 2006-2007 was 272 MW, which is expected to be 320 MW this year. The projected demand during peak hours in 2015-16 is seen as 600 mw against the estimated supply of 404 MW.

The situation assumes greater importance because the Centre has given a clear warning on overdrawal of power from this year onwards. Till last year, the administration frequently received warning letters from power suppliers. In fact, the UT power supply was severed from an important feeder last year. To make overdrawal rules more strict, the charges for unscheduled power have been increased from Rs 5.70 per unit to Rs 7.75 per unit this year.

Giving details of the supply, Bhardwaj said the NHPC, the NTPC, the BBMB and NPCIL contributed approximately 253 MW of power to the city. In addition, the city got some share from the unallocated quota of the government. UT’s share had been decreased from six per cent to five per cent out of this quota.

The administration had tied up with the PTC for 10 MW power supply during May and June. Adani Enterprises Limited would be another key supplier this summer.

The UT had set up two new transformers at Sector 18 and Mani Majra. ThePhase I and II transformers in the Industrial Area had been upgraded.

It is pointed out that a majority of AC users do not announce the increased power demand. The department will charge a fine of Rs 500 per Kilo watt for Phase III domestic users and Rs 750 for commercial and industrial connections.

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City gets on with safe sex
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Chandigarh is getting on with safe sex, indicate official data on distribution and consumption of condoms. Over the past six months, a whopping 95,420 condoms have been distributed through the 22 condom vending machines (CVMs) installed at prime locations across the city.

Also, more and more people are buying condoms instead of going in for free ones. Of the 87, 420 condoms provided by the Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society (SACS) between 2006 and 2007, 40 per cent were bought.

As for CVMs, it’s not just the slum dwellers that are accessing condoms to practice safe sex and keep the HIV virus at bay. The largest condom use has been reported from the CVM installed at the gents’ washroom at Fun Republic, which is frequented mainly by the elite.

The next is the CVM at the Sukhna Lake, which sold 8,068 condoms since the machine was installed in October last. The other CVMs that top the list of condom sales include the one at the public convenience near Neelam Cinema, Sector 17 (7,753 condoms), the CVM at Sector 22 public convenience opposite ISBT (7,592 condoms) and the CVM at the public convenience near the bridge market, Sector 17 ( 6,836 condoms).

The maximum sale has been that of Ustad condoms - the cheapest variety (Rs 5 for four pieces). Following Ustad is Moods, available in two varieties, costing Rs 10 and Rs 15 respectively for three-piece packaging each.

A lot of condoms are also being supplied through the social marketing network, wherein each condom costs 40 paisa. Over 2.92 lakh condoms have been supplied at this cost between 2006 and 2007. “These have been distributed through 14 targeted intervention projects. We have 353 condom depot holders, who supply condoms through the social marketing net. We started this practice because people are known to use condoms they pay for,” says Rekha Gupta, condom promotion officer, SACS.

Free distribution of condoms, however, continues to target the very poor segments. Between 2006 and 2007, five lakh condoms were freely distributed. The total condom supply in Chandigarh through all three sources - CVMs, social marketing and free distribution, between 2006 and 2007, was 8, 87, 420.

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First-of-its-kind condom bar at Chandigarh
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Corporation (CITCO) is all set to do a Thailand in Chandigarh. Coming out openly in support of safe sex as a major solution to the rising HIV incidence, the corporation today inspired a unique project — the first-of-its-kind condom bar in India. The bar is driven by data that 90 per cent HIV transmission is happening through the sexual route, mainly casual sex and that 50 per cent infections are surfacing among the 15 to 24 
year-olds.

As the bar opened, a rustic Kalagram stood transformed from a humble food joint to a hyped-up platform for HIV awareness programme. For once, awareness efforts moved out of government's closed doors into private domain, where the vulnerable population actually lives.

CITCO did well to get Pooja Thakur, the HIV + president of Chandigarh Network of People Living with HIV, to inaugurate the bar. She did her job well, helping the objective of de-stigmatising the condom.

Bold and shocking though the step may sound. It has potential was evident at start. By the time the day was done, all male and female condoms kept at the bar for free supply were gone. Those who wanted the condoms had flicked them, never mind the anxious onlookers.

“That’s the idea,” said Sonia Trikha, project director, UT State AIDS Control Society, who supported the effort which raised many eyebrows. The initiative took off amidst fears of Bajrang Dal activists vandalising Kalagram. That apart, the bar looked happy with its design, crafted to promote condoms. As bartenders served snacks and drinks, condom-laced murals and paintings told their own story. Even the table pads said something. They read: “Don’t just get on, get them on. Protect yourself and others.”

The most visible slot in the bar was the condom bench, where CITCO made provision for free male and female condoms, being provided privately for the first time. In near future, however, the condoms will cost to ensure people are using them. Today’s supply was arranged by SACS and Hindustan Latex, which has installed condom vending machines in Chandigarh.

For his part, CITCO MD J.S. Bir appeared confident of the project’s value. He said it has been designed for vulnerable populations of semi-urban areas around Kalagram. “We also want to give women an informed choice. Let us accept that promiscuity and unsafe sex exist and let us talk solution. Denial is not the answer. We aim to facilitate HIV awareness in this area. Here people have low paying capacities. The location of the bar has thus been carefully chosen,” he said.

While the project takes time to show results, CITCO plans to hold an annual Ms and Mr CITCO contest at Kalagram. All NGOs working in HIV sector in the region have been invited to identify potential participants, irrespective of their HIV status.

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Allotment site shifted; prices raised
Mohali Heights investors cry foul
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Investors in Mohali Heights project, being promoted by Dubai-based real estate major Emaar MGF, have accused the developer of allotting plots at will, without a public draw of lots.

Though the promoters deny the allegations, they have also been accused of seeking applications, saying that the project would come up in Sectors 98 and 105 of Mohali. The company now claims that the project is first being developed in Sectors 105, 108 and 109. They have also been accused of increasing the rate of plots by Rs 1500 per sq yard.

Investors alleged that though originally they were told that the plots were located in Sectors 98 and 105, later they were offered plots in Sectors 105, 108 and 109. In a complaint to the Punjab Chief Minister and the vigilance chief, these investors have alleged that most of the company officials were allotting plots in Sector 105 to a ‘chosen few’, while other investors were being allotted plots in Sectors 108 and 109.

A company spokesperson, however, said there was no requirement or obligation, legal or otherwise, to hold a draw of lots for allotment. “However, the allotment has been done independently on a purely random basis.” she said

Since plots in the integrated township were mostly sold off through property dealers in the city and neighbouring Mohali, investors are now up in arms against property dealers for lack of transparency on part of the company.

A leading property dealer, requesting anonymity, said he had got at least 50 investors for the project, and they were now gunning for him, after the change in site and increase in rates of plots.

“The company had not mentioned the rate of property in the brochures and had not encashed the cheques initially submitted by investors (at the rate of Rs 10,000 per sq yard). They later claimed they had not entered into an agreement to sell the plots at the above mentioned rates, and thus revised the rates to Rs 11,500 per sq yard,” he said.

Another property dealer who had booked a number of plots for Emaar MGF, said that there was no written commitment on the part of the company with the investors on the project site or the cost. “The original site and rates were mentioned when the expression of interest (EOI) was invited. But when the actual bookings were made, the investors were not told about the sectors and were told that the rate of plots was Rs 11,500 per sq yard,” he said

The company spokesperson admitted that initially all prospective allottees had applied for plots to be developed by the company in Sector 105. The EOI clearly stated that the present EOI document would be considered for allotment in subsequent sectors to be developed by the company.

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Way paved for hotel next to Taj
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Chandigarh administration has finally paved the way for the construction of a new hotel at the James Plaza hotel site in Sector 17. The site is located adjacent to the Taj.

The new hotel will come up within a year. At present, a dilapidated building stands at the site.

Quashing the orders of the finance secretary, who, while exercising the powers of the Chief Administrator, had rejected the appeal of the allottee company, James Hotels (P) Ltd on March 7, 2007, the court of the Adviser to the Administrator restored the site.

As a rider, the owners have been asked to complete the building within a year, failing which the site would be resumed.

The extension fee to be charged by the estate office to restore the site comes to around Rs 2 crore. The market value of the hotel site, however runs to several crores, said sources in the finance department.

On March 7, 2007, the Chief Administrator had rejected an appeal of the company against a previous order of the assistant estate officer (AEO) to cancel the lease on the ground of non-completion of the building within a stipulated period. In the quasi judicial order, the Chief Administrator had observed that the allottee continued to violate the provisions of the law by withholding payment of dues and non-construction of the building for the past 18 years. The site has been resumed twice in the last 22 years.

Opinion varies

Sources in the administration said though the case of the James Plaza hotel relates to non-construction of building, the cases of restored site being probed by the vigilance relate to non-payment. The restoring of commercial and residential properties at rates less than the market value could attract audit objections, said an official. 

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Kanwaljit behind arrests: MLA
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 2
Launching an attack on cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Congress MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu today described the arrest of two Mohali municipal councillors yesterday as part of a “devious plan to have a civic body dominated by SAD-backed councillors.”

Sidhu, who represents Kharar in the assembly , alleged at a press conference here that a false case had been registered against the two Congress-supported councillors at the behest of Capt Kanwaljit Singh. No inquiry into the matter was made before registering the case. He alleged that SP (City) had personally gone to the police station to ensure that the case was registered.

Rishiv Jain, senior vice-president, and Gurmeet Singh Walia were booked by the police on charges of using force with the intent of outraging a woman’s modesty, criminal intimidation and wrongful restraint on a complaint made by Kuldeep Kaur Kang, councillor from ward number 28.

The MLA demanded that the police should cancel the case and carry out a probe into the matter. He said if this was not done, he would be compelled to take up the matter with senior police officials. He said the councillors would approach the court so that legal action was taken against the guilty.

He said that only an argument had taken place among councillors and nothing objectionable had happened. It was unfortunate that grave charges had been unnecessarily levelled against elected representatives of the civic body.

Sidhu alleged that even during electioneering Capt Kanwaljit Singh had been telling councillors here that the “face of the council” would change if SAD-BJP came to power.

Sidhu further alleged that Capt Kanwaljit Singh was using the services of a Congress leader to break away Rajinder Parsad Sharma from the ruling group. 

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Man found dead; kin blame tenant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Brij Lal, a 70-year-old man, was found dead near his residence in Mauli Jagran this morning.The police said prima facie it appeared that the man had died after falling from the roof.

The death came to light at around 5 am when someone noticed the body lying in a small plot adjacent to the house. There were injury marks on the victim’s head, chest and limbs. Blood oozed out of his nostrils. He was lying face down.

The police said Brij Lal went to sleep on the terrace of his neighbour’s house.

He was not keeping good health and might have fallen over the parapet.

Mewa Lal, the deceased’s nephew, expressed suspicion that Brij Lals tenant Rajesh Pandey could be behind the death as the latter wanted to “grab” the old man’s house.

But Pandey claimed that Brij Lal had made a power of attorney in his favour after taking Rs 3.65 lakh from him, saying that the property would be transferred to him (Pandey) after his death. He also claimed that he was staying in the house for the past over 18 years.

Brij Lal’s neighbours told TNS that Pandey often quarreled with the old man and that he had been a tenant for less than a year.

In charge of Mauli Jagran police post sub-inspector Bhupinder Singh said forensic experts were called to examine the spot.

Suicide

A watchman of the Government Polytechnic College, Sector 10, today, committed suicide by hanging himself from a fan at his residence in the college premises.

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Bag sends cops in a tizzy

Chandigarh, May 2
There was panic in the parking lot outside the deputy commissioner’s (DC) office in Sector 17 this afternoon following a false bomb alarm.

The police said it received information at 1.25 pm that a bag was lying abandoned outside the DC’s office. A police teams reached the spot and summoned a bomb disposal and a dog squad.

The experts searched the bag only to find tattered clothes and a camera. In the meantime, Ralia Ram, a beggar, came along, claiming that the bag belonged to him. — TNS

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11 years on, retiree yet to get dues
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Dharam Pal Verma has been making rounds of the offices of the administration, municipal corporation and the health department to get his dues for the past 11 years.

The faces in the chairs of the offices have changed, however, the story of the employee, who was first “illegally terminated” and was later given compulsory retirement orders, speaks volumes of the callous handling of the case. Even his dues were “carelessly calculated”.

Dharam Pal Verma, an employee with the Malaria wing, was placed under suspension by the director, health service, on August 24, 1994. Under suspension, he was transferred to the municipal corporation. The commissioner, municipal corporation, terminated his services in February 2, 1996.

On May 12, 2004, the home secretary called the termination orders “illegal and void abnito”. Verma was handed over the compulsory retirement orders on May 12, 2005, by the director, health 
services.

The compulsory retirement order said: "...impose on Dharam Pal Verma, the penalty of compulsory retirement from government service, with immediate effect" on October 6, 2004. Verma contends that in case, his services were terminated from October 2004 onwards then his dues from 1994 onwards needed to be cleared. “If the case was not decided within six months of my suspension, I should have got 75 per cent of my pay which was never given”, he said.

Verma has received appreciation letters for his work and Lieut-General B.K.N. Chhibber, former Governor, had noted on his file that the case be re-examined. Verma also met former Governor O.P. Verma.

He said he neither received the due payment during his suspension period nor did he get any pension benefits. In fact, the necessary entries had not been made in his account for the period he had been placed under suspension.

The administration owed him approximately Rs 15 lakh while only Rs 2 lakh had been paid.

Chandigarh Administration has constituted a committee to look into the case. A senior officer said “we have gone through the details of the case. The matter is pending for a very long time. A final decision is expected within the coming fortnight, maybe earlier. We shall ensure he gets justice.

“We need to check on the details on the period between his termination and later being given compulsory retirement”. 

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Sam’s ‘71 war tactics: Veterans refute Jacob’s claims
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Senior officers, who played an important role in the1971 campaign for the liberation of Bangladesh, today termed as incorrect claims made by Lt Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), who held the number two position in the Eastern Command, that Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s war plans could have denied India victory.

Questioning as to why such an issue was raised now, Lt Gen Depinder Singh (retd), who was then Army Chief, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw’s military assistant and hence had a first hand insight into military planning at the highest level, said that operational orders issued by Army Headquarters to the Eastern Command stated that the whole of East Pakistan was to be overrun or words to that effect. Towns are never motioned as targets in orders and the objective laid down is to defeat the enemy, he added.

All Indian formations, he said, were converging upon Dhaka (then called Dacca) as the intermediate objective from Meghalaya, Tripura and Bengal as it was located half way in Bangladesh from either direction. It was when Indian forces began converging upon Dhaka that Pakistan thought of surrendering, he added.

Reacting to General Jacob’s claim that he had moved three brigades from the Chinese border to take Dakha against the Field Marshal wishes, General Depinder said that at that time there were bigger threat perceptions from the Chinese.

“In such circumstances, there was no question of unbalancing ourselves in the north. Only when it was confirmed that there were no unwarranted moves on the Chinese front were the said brigades moved out,” he said.

On Jacob’s remarks that he had told his field commanders to ignore Manekshaw’s orders, General Depinder said that the Eastern Command was under the leadership of a very fine Army Commander, the late Lt Gen J.S. Aurora. Jacob was then serving as chief of staff in the rank of major general.

As a staff officer concerned more with the administration of command headquarters, Jacob would not have been in a position to issue operational instructions to field commanders, some of whom like corps commander, would have been senior to him, General Depinder said. Field commanders would be reporting to the Army Commander, who, in turn, would be reporting directly to the Army Chief. “In the Army, you don’t disobey orders and get away with it,” he added.

Maj Gen Rajendra Nath (retd), who had commanded a brigade in the eastern sector during the war, said the Army could not have made Dhaka as the initial objective. The objective of 2 Corps at the start of the conflict was to reach the river flowing just west of Dhaka.

“It is as the operations proceed and situations change that objectives are redefined or added,” he said. Initial resistance by the Pakistani troops was fierce.

It was after 4 Corps made rapid progress from the east and reached the river east of Dhaka and a force called Communication Zone came in from the north towards Dhaka that a decision to para drop a force on the outskirts of Dhaka was made. Troops of 4 Corps, under Lt Gen Sagat Singh, crossed the river towards Dhaka.

Execution of all these operations as well allocation of resources could not have been possible without the approval of Army Headquarters, General Nath said.

Even pulling out brigades deployed on the northern from against the Chinese, which formed up the Communication Zone, required approval of the Eastern Army Commander and the concurrence of Army Headquarters, he added.

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Follow ethics, journalists told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The administrator has called upon journalists to practise their professional responsibilities objectively and fearlessly, adhering to the ethics of journalism and maintaining high reporting standards.

Media, being an important instrument of social change, needs to play a pro-active role in strengthening democracy and speeding up the developmental process.

In a message on World Press Freedom Day, the administrator, Gen S. F. Rodrigues said the media played a crucial role in moulding public opinion, promoting democratic principles, strengthening social and economic order.

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Drop property tax bill, say villagers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Pind Bachao Committee of villages falling under the MCC limit has sought the dropping of the property tax demand Bill.

In a letter to the Municipal Commissioner, the committee stated that the Bill was not in consonance with the provision of the law. The villages contested that the tax had been wrongly computed and was in excess.

The villagers also contended that as the MCC had not provided any facilities in the villages and thus was not entitled to levy the property tax. Terming the tax as impugned, the villagers demanded that it should be dropped.

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One-room set for the poor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Persisting with its well-established policy to provide appropriate facilities for all sections of population, the administration will construct a suitable number of one-room dwelling units for poor families near Bapu Dham Colony.

A large number of IT companies and professionals have already started functioning in Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Information Technology Park . While the administration is going to establish IT Habitat for professionals to enable them to live in close proximity of their workplace, it has also decided an adequate living area for the poor families who will be providing labour force to the professionals to work as domestic helps, gardeners and washermen.

Accordingly, adequate number of one-room dwelling units will be constructed near Bapu Dham Colony near IT Park and an area in Sector 26-E has been earmarked for this purpose.

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Letters

Traffic woes

The number of vehicles plying on the city roads has increased significantly in the past few years, thanks to the massive penetration of numerous finance companies in the market that offer easy and attractive finance schemes. The one who could have afforded a two-wheeler is otherwise running a four-wheeler today.

Four-wheelers are the major source of growing traffic problems in the city, as a four-wheeler occupies more space, especially when not rationally occupied and often it is not. And if held up in the middle of the road, leads to the survival of the fittest for others, causing great deal of trouble for the aged and lady drivers. One such vulnerable spot is the small roundabout that divides Sector 34 and 35. Be it the morning hours, middle of the day or the evening rush, the roundabout stands witness to the congested traffic. Chaos rules the roundabout most of the time and one can notice a large number of vehicles lined up to cross over. The need of the hour is to equip it with traffic lights, which would not only help free movement of vehicles during rush hour but also help students and office-goers get rid of the daily shift of inconvenience.

Harbinder Singh, Chandigarh

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030

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A clarification
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 2
The Managing Director, HVPN, in a communiqué to The Tribune, today, clarified that the cases of doctors wanting to do private practice would be considered “on merit” and not “favourably” as is mentioned in the report.

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Four workers held for stealing gold
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The local police has arrested four workers of a Mani Majra-based goldsmith on the charge that they stole 400 grams of gold from his shop last month. It also recovered 350 grams of stolen gold from their possession.

The police said jeweller Raj Kumar lodged a complaint alleging that on April 16 he found 400 grams of gold missing from his shop. His craftsman Hari Har along with four other workers disappeared after the theft. A case of misappropriation under Section 406 of the IPC has been registered.

A police officer said following information a team was sent to Kolkata. The team managed to arrest two accused with 250 grams of gold about five days ago. Another police team arrested two other accused from Delhi and recovered 100 grams of gold from them last night. However, prime accused Hari Har was yet to be arrested.

Husband held

The local police today arrested Ram Prashad, husband of Pardeepa who was allegedly set afire by Ram’s aunt for dowry at her Dhanas residence late on Monday night.

The victim was admitted to the Sector 16 General Hospital with 35 per cent burns. The police had already arrested her husband’s aunt Nirmala after registering a case of attempt to murder and dowry harassment on the victim’s complaint.

Proclaimed Offender held

The local police arrested a proclaimed offender (PO), Dhanu, of Mauli Jagran on Tuesday. He was wanted in a case of theft registered against him in 2002. He was declared a PO in March. In another incident, Shyam Lal wanted in a case registered under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act was arrested on Tuesday. The case was registered against him way back in 2002 and he was declared a PO in November 2005. 

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SBP, United India tie up

Chandigarh, May 2
The State Bank of Patiala and United India Insurance Company today jointly launched a group personal accident insurance cover for savings bank account holders of the bank. — TNS

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