C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Flesh Trade in Mani Majra
Hotelier, Uzbek woman held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
The Chandigarh Police busted a flesh trade racket in Mani Majra with the arrest of five men and three girls, including a 26-year-old Uzbekistan national. They were operating from a hotel in the Motor Market.

It was the first time that a foreign girl had been arrested for flesh trade, the police said.

The accused are the owner of Hotel Chander Palace, 42-year-old Deepak Sharma of Mohali, his brother Amit Sharma of Phase XI, their friend Rohit of Panchkula, his employee Surendra of Sector 4 in Panchkula, and his friend Vikas Kumar of Zirakpur.

Among the girls were a 26-year-old Uzbek, a 19-year-old from Mani Majra and a 21-year-old from Kolkata.

Deputy superintendent of police (Central) S.S. Randhawa said a decoy was sent to Deepak Sharma, hotel owner. The latter, along with his accomplices, demanded Rs 10,000 from him.

The accused were distributing the marked currency notes among themselves when a police team along with members of the non-official advisory committee notified by the administration swooped on them.

A case under the Immoral Trafficking Act, 1956, has been registered in this regard.

Deepak told mediapersons he entered the trade about seven month ago. He was in the hotel industry for the past over 20 years. Before opening his own hotel four years back, he worked as general manager with several prestigious hotels in Sector 35.

He said Rohit arranged for foreign girls, mostly from Russia and its neighbouring countries. He had bought the hotel on a10-year lease. He paid Rs 75,000 per month as lease money. Unable to meet the expenses, he entered the flesh trade to earn “extra” money.

Among his clients were businessmen from Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab and Haryana, who paid anything between Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 for a night for a foreign girl.

Thirty-three year old Rohit, a graduate in commerce, owns a stone crusher near Chandi Mandir. He came in contact with “Kareena” who provided “foreign girls on demand”. He said he had talked to her on the phone but not met her. He was paid Rs 10,000-Rs 15000 per day for supplying girls.

The Uzbek girl took Rs 7,000 per day from him and the charges for lodging and food were paid by the customer. But the girl claimed she had nothing to do with the trade. She said she was a student and had arrived in India on May 22. The police said it had informed the Uzbekistan embassy about her arrest.

The girl from Mani Majra said she was “pushed” into the trade by Amit. Her father was dead and her mother a housewife. She said she took Rs 1,000 per day. The girl from Kolkata claimed she was married to Deepak and her aunt had forced her into this “profession”.

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Breakthrough
Kajheri killers seen near Bihar village
*Village head alerts UT cops
*Second team on way to nab them
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
All three persons suspected to be involved in the Kajheri triple murder case have been sighted near their native village in Bhagalpur district in Bihar. The Chandigarh Police has sent a four-member team to the village.

SHO of the Sector 36 police station inspector Ishwar Singh Mann said an assistant sub-inspector, a head constable and two constables had left for Marwa, the native village of the suspects on Saturday.

Sources in the police said the village head of Marwa called up the police on Friday, informing that the three suspects, Rajiv Kumar, Santosh Kumar, alias Soni, and Amit Kumar, were seen hiding near the village. Soonafter, a team was sent to the village. Another standby team had been constituted to bring back the accused in case the suspects are nabbed.

The police is in touch with the local police in Bihar for assistance in this connection. Sources said the team, which was sent soon after the murder came to light on May 14, contacted the villagers and was told that one of the accused, Amit, was wanted in several cases in Bihar too and he avoided coming to the village due to an old feud.

The police had received information last week that the accused could possibly be hiding in a jungle near their village.

On May 14, a prosperous diary farmer of Kajheri village, 72-year-old Sucha Singh, his wife Balbir Kaur (68) and their servant Chhotu (31) were found brutally murdered at their residence. Sucha Singh’s Rajiv Kumar and Santosh Kumar, alias Soni, along with their acquaintance, Amit Kumar, have been missing since the gruesome killings. Robbery is cited as the reason behind the murders as cash and jewellery was found missing from the house.

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Collector rates up by 30 pc
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
The Chandigarh administration has increased the collector rates by 30 per cent.

The revised rates for this year will come into force from tomorrow. While there is an average increase of 30 per cent on the rates of land, an increase on construction charges on floor prices for the purpose of stamp duty is 10 per cent.

The approximate value of a residential plot was Rs 19,200 per sq yard (as per the 2005 collector rates). Now the rates has been fixed at Rs 24, 960 per sq yard. The value of agricultural land has been assessed at Rs 48, 80,000 per acre against last year’s Rs 28,80,000 per acre.

For commercial properties, the collector rate of plots in Industrial Area has been put at Rs 24, 960 per sq yard. The rate of SCO in Sector 17 has been assessed at Rs 2,18,400 per sq yard against the previous rate of Rs 1,68,000 per sq yard.

However, the value of SCO on Madhya Marg, the city centre in Sector 34, Sector 22 and Sector 35 (facing sector 34) has been put at Rs 1,56,000 per sq yard against Rs 1,20,000. Real estate analysts say this is less than the actual market value.They feel the administration should see the occupancy status of a property before fixing the rates.

The collector has not removed disparity while fixing rates for booth in different sectors. “There is a big different in rates of booths in Sectors 31 and 37. There should be at least four categories,” said a resident of Sector 33.

The administration has already reduced stamp duty from 6 per cent to 5 per cent.

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High-tech silos plants for wheat storage
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
For the first time, wheat procured by Food Corporation of India (FCI) from the mandis of Punjab and Haryana will be stored in the state-of-the-art steel silos storage plants at Moga and Kaithal.

These plants have been built by Adani Agri Logistics and have a capacity to store two lakh tonnes of grain each. With both the plants having been completed well ahead of time, the FCI is set to use these silos from the current rabi season on actual utilisation basis.

These plants have been built on a build-own-operate basis by Adani Agri Logistics, after it was awarded a global tender last year. The FCI has reportedly given a 20-year guarantee for usage of these storage facilities and will pay the company at the rate of Rs 200 per quintal per annum.

Under the project, two base depots with a storage capacity of two lakh tonnes of grain each are conceived in Moga and Kaithal. While the first depot at Moga will be linked to three field depots in Chennai, Coimbatore and Bangalore, the one at Kaithal will be linked to Navi Mumbai and Hooghly.

Except for the Navi Mumbai field depot, which has a storage capacity of 50,000 tonnes, all the other four field depots have a storage capacity of 25,000 tonnes each. “This project was conceived at a time of plenty in food grains. It was almost seven years ago that the government had mooted private sector participation via build-own-operate basis for bulk handling, storage and transportation of food grains. Since we were the lowest bidders in the project, we were awarded the contract last year and have now finished with the construction,” said a senior official in Adani Agri Logistics.

The entire handling of food grains - from receiving at base depots, cleaning and drying, storage and transportation to field depots - is carried out in bulk form, thus minimising losses. The project also marks a new era in food grain storage, as envisaged in the Warehouse (development and regulation) Bill, ringing in globally-compliant high-tech storage houses for bulk quantities of grain.

These silos plants have provision for temperature control, moisture control and automatic and outright rejection of any grain below the specified quality (foreign matter and live infestation) standards. The project will help do away with storage of poor quality grains and curb huge wastage in food grain storage.

Senior officials in FCI, Regional Office, Punjab, said that earlier when food grains overflowed in ill-maintained storage houses, it led to huge transit and storage losses, besides burdening the exchequer annually with several crores. “To save storage charges, food grains had to be sold at rates on a par with BPL consumers to third world countries and, in several cases, as fodder. But with the new state-of-the-art steel silos, we would be able to nip the losses in storage, thus improving economies of scale,” said a senior official.

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Be happy without a drink — Al Anon way
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 27
You can be happy without a drink--that was the underlying message of the 11th anniversary celebrations of Samparpan group of Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) here today.

As scores of "sober alcoholics" and their families converged on Little Flower Convent School, Sector 14, happiness and contentment at being a part of life again was in the air. With prayer on the lips and gratitude in the heart, AA members thanked the Almighty for giving them another sober day.

In fact, attending the celebrations was a part of thanksgiving for Ramesh, who had been sober for six-and-a-half years "one day at a time".

“Though I had no family and job when I strayed into one of the meetings in Chandigarh after dialling the helpline (94170-37358), the denial mode made me think that the whole world was pitted against me.

“Starting as a social drinker, I soon reached a point of no return. But I always thought I could control it. Soon it was a hopeless state of mind and body,” said the private sector executive.

“However, the day I uttered the three magic words ‘I need help’ I started walking on the long road to recovery.”

“The recovery was tough but with God's grace and the 12-step programme of the AA, the recovery started happening "one day at a time". Today life is back on track and I am a useful member of the society and the obsession to have that "substance" is no longer there, he added with smile.”

For Usha, who lived through hell with her alcoholic husband for almost 18 years, joining Al Anon, a fellowship of the dependents of the alcoholics was the turning point of her life. “In this wonderful fellowship I was told that my husband was not a bad man but a diseased man, who had no control over his alcohol.

“In Al Anon, I learnt to manage my own life rather than controlling the lives of my husband and children. Today we, including my husband, who had been sober for over three years, live like a normal family and share pleasures and pains of life together,” quipped the grateful member.

It was highlighted that any person--male or female-- having problem with drinking could join the AA and there are no due or fees for its membership. Alcoholics recover by sharing their experience, strength and hope with each other and following the simple 12 step programme.

Whom to contact?

Those desirous of quitting drinking can contact the 24-hour AA helpline--94170-37358 or attend AA meetings held all through the week at several locations, including Chandigarh.

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Dirty environs blot on Mansa Devi shrine
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 27
It is the most revered shrine of the region attracting a whopping 50 lakh devotees annually and has an income that is up by nearly 20-30 per cent every year. And, yet, cleanliness is a casualty at the Mata Mansa Devi shrine with stench from a nearby nallah filling foul smell and filth everywhere.

While the haphazard parking in front of the prasad booths is a big turn off for the devotees, a dustbin and filth at the entrance greet the visitors. A stinking nallah runs right through the road leading up to the shrine. While people from the adjoining hutments use the nallah as bathrooms and washrooms, the rehri and phariwalas as also those selling eatables have no qualms about washing their dirty utensils around the shrine.

A few steps ahead and towards the main shrine, a “beautified” corner with fountains has now become an eyesore. Dirty green stagnant water fills up the pond while parsad lies strewn on the steps and in the feet of devotees who queue up for darshan.

On Sundays, the crowds began pouring early morning. With nearly 50,000 devotees visiting the shrine every Sunday, the langar hall keep bustling with people and hundreds of others awaited their turn to pay obeisance.

While the area around the shrine is constantly swept to keep it filth-free, bang opposite the altar, a hall full of dirt, broken furniture and discarded red dupattas are jarring. The steps just outside the main shrine complex leading out of the Shrine, too, are sticky and soiled, indicating the state of sanitation in the area.

A devotee from Chandigarh, R.K. Garg, particularly perturbed with the state of affairs at the shrine, says, “The Chief Minister of Haryana heads the shrine board, the deputy commissioner is the chief administrator. The doard is not even fund-starved with enough earnings to at least maintain hygiene around the sanctum sanctorum. With this state of affairs, the board must explain where all the money is going.”

While tri-city residents visit the shrine regularly, outsiders, too, throng the shrine especially on weekends. “This is my second visit this year, the first one being when I came during Navratras. The only place to rest is under the shade of the trees for outsiders like us. This time I found a foul smell in the entire area surrounding the shrine and realized it was coming from the nallah which has dirty water. The administration must do something to maintain the sanctity of the place,” says Raghubir Singh, who came from Bathinda.

While long queues to pay obeisance test the patience of the devotees in the scorching sun, taps of drinking water along the steps are missing much to the inconvenience of the devotees. All this despite the fact that the board earned nearly Rs 6.5 crore in the last financial year as offerings made at the shrine.

Sources in the board management say they try their best to maintain cleanliness but heavy rush of devotees sometimes seems too big to manage. Commenting on the nallah, an official adds cleaning it up is the responsibility of the Municipal Council and the Haryana Urban Development Authority. He also adds encroachments in the markets dirt being spread by washing and bathing in the area is not under their jurisdiction.

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Special package for Zirakpur area sought
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, May 27
Calling upon Punjab cooperation minister and Banur MLA Capt Kanwaljit Singh to fulfill pre-poll promises, F.S. Nagra, president of the Commercial Welfare Association, today demanded a special economic package for the godown area, housing warehouses of hundreds of MNCs and big corporates on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur road.

“Only a special package from the state government could help provide basic amenities in the area as the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat has failed miserably to look after the area, which contributes crores of rupees to the state exchequer annually,” Nagra said after his election as the president of the association for a record sixth term.

Serving a veiled ultimatum to the authorities concerned, Nagra threatened that the association was exploring the possibility of filing a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court if the authorities failed to provide civic amenities, including water supply, drainage system and roads.

In fact, the area was proving to be a blot on the face of Zirakpur, one of the fastest growing townships in the region. With the nagar panchayat meting out a step-motherly treatment to the commercial zone, building byelaws violations were continuing unabated posing serious threat to the existing structures, he alleged.

Nagra also sought an amicable solution to the alleged blocking of the entry points of the resort and godown owners by the laying of the drainage system along both sides of the Zirakpur-Ambala highway as part of the four-laning project by the GMR and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

Meanwhile, the following have been elected office-bearers of the association: senior vice-president-Rakesh Bajaj; vice-president-Tarun Bhardwaj; general secretary-Shalinder Verma; secretary-Ram Pal; secretary (finance)-Narinder Arora; and executive members-V.B. Jain, Satish Pandit, Chamkaur Singh, Rakesh Bansal, O.P. Chopra, Ram Parkash Singh, Garish Sapra and Jaspreet Singh.

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Power transmission losses cut
UT saves Rs 21 crore
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
The electricity department of the Chandigarh administration has managed to reduce power transmission losses to 18 per cent, which is half of the national average of 35.5 per cent annually.

The losses in transmission, technically called the AT&C(Aggregate Technology and Commercial) losses, forms an important part of the agenda for the conference of Chief Ministers on power sector issues. The conference is to be held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tomorrow at New Delhi.

The Administrator, finance secretary and chief engineer will represent the UT at the conference.

The UT has been able to reduce the losses by 7 per cent from 2003-04 onwards. A senior official said saving one per cent meant a gain of Rs 3 crore. This means the UT has gained approximately Rs 21 crore during this period.

On the other hand, the figures show that that the UT continues to lose approximately Rs 54 crore annually on faulty power transmission.

The detailed chart prepared by the UT to be submitted at the conference shows that by 2008-2009, the UT will have achieved the loss figures of 15 per cent as recommended by the ministry of power.

In order to curb illegal draw of power, particularly by dwellers in colonies through 'kundi' connections', the administration has framed a policy to release bulk supply at a single point. A contractor will be given the task for further distribution and levying of charges as per the standards set by the department.

The report points out that the enforcement wing of the electricity department and the field staff carried out inspection on 5,133 premises during 2006-07. As many as 512 cases of theft were detected. An amount of Rs 3.10 crore was realised as penalty.

It has also been pointed out that electronic meters are more accurate than the electro-mechanical meters, which are being replaced so that actual energy consumed is recorded and revenue collected accordingly.

There are approximately 2,05,000 connections in the city and at least 92,000 meters have been already replaced with electronic meters.

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Sewerage water in taps
Panic grips Ekta Vihar residents
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, May 27
Residents of Ekta Vihar in Baltana are living in fear of the outbreak of an epidemic. Several days after the sewerage water mixed with drinking water was received in the taps of the locality, the residents are dreading the thought of drinking the water.

In fact, panic had gripped the resident a few days back when they complained of sewerage water getting mixed with potable water. The issue went right up to the level of cooperation minister and Banur MLA Capt Kanwaljit Singh. The residents are still not convinced and the administration has failed to allay the fears, alleged Ajay, a resident.

However, the official explanation for the mess-up was that while laying the water supply lines muddy water from the sewerage lines might have entered the water supply pipes. The punctured sewerage line has been repaired and now no muddy water is being supplied, officials claimed.

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Lift Crash
It was not overloaded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Even as director of health services M.S. Bains today claimed that an inquiry into the lift mishap at Government Multispeciality Hospital, Sector 16, has been marked, a visit to the spot find showed that the authorities are still in the dark about the facts.

An elevator carrying patients and their attendants crashed to the basement on Friday. No one was injured.

According to Bains, the elevator was meant for carrying 12 persons but was carrying 20, as none paid heed to the warning by the operator against overload.

But it seems the lift was meant for 26 persons with a load of 1,768 kg.

There were just eight persons, including the operator, when it crashed, say eyewitnesses. The elevator had reportedly developed a snag a few months ago, which was rectified.

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Letters

Flyover concerns

The construction of the Zirakpur flyover, which is underway in full swing, will help swift entry into the city from Haryana, NCR and Patiala. But has anyone thought about the area under its pillars? Will it become what it is under the Ambala Cantonment Flyover letter - a ghetto, a paradise for hawkers and beggars, a shelter for all the animals of the city, an illegal cab stand, a traffic chaos and a disgusting entry into a city. The authorities concerned need to come up with a feasible plan before the area comes under a political agenda to evict the illegal encroaches. The area should be landscaped with grass, sculptures and trees. Portions of the area can be leased out to business houses for maintenance. The concept can be emulated from Delhi, the NCR and Secunderabad, where the area under a flyover is well kept. It must be ensured that while building an asset for a city, we do not create an eye sore alongside.

MMM Kashyap
Baltana

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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Conned in name of religion
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 27
Playing upon the religious sentiments of a shopkeeper dealing in electronic appliances, a con man duped him of a fan on the pretext of donating it to a temple. The matter did not end here. When he reported the matter to the Sector 34 police station, he was turned away by the police saying that “he will get nothing out of it”. 
Shopkeeper Ved Prakash Gupta of B.R. Engineering in Phase II, Industrial Area, told TNS that a smartly dressed man in his 30s came to his shop at around 5.30 pm on Saturday and introduced himself as Vikram of Sector 32. He was clean shaven and came on a scooter. He placed an order for two big fans saying that he wanted to donate those to a temple.

“As he wanted to give the fans in charity, I charged Rs 1,000 per fan instead of Rs 1,100 that I usually charge. The man gave his address and went away saying that he would pay the money on delivery. I sent a rickshaw-rehri puller with the fans on the given address,” said Gupta.

Gupta alleged that the man intercepted Ghanshyam, the rickshaw-rehri puller, near the Sectors 31 and 32 traffic lights point asking him to unload one of the fans at Hanuman Temple in Sector 32. After unloading the fan outside the temple, he asked Ghanshyam to go to his house and take Rs 2,030, including his fare, from his son Manu. He said he would follow him after giving the fan to the temple. At the given address, Ghanshyam was told that no one named Vikram lived there. He then went to the temple and learnt that no fan was given to the temple in charity. Shocked at it, Ghanshyam informed him (Gupta) about the incident.

Gupta said he then asked a florist sitting outside the temple about the man. The florist confirmed that the man did not enter the temple and moved away on his scooter after the rickshaw-rehri puller went away.

Gupta further added that when he reached the Sector 34 police station to lodge a complaint this afternoon, the police officer on duty just turned him away.

The SHO of the Sector 34 police station inspector Prem Kumar Chauhan expressed ignorance about the incident. He however, said he would ask his subordinate about the matter.

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SBoP honours 200 employees
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 27
The State Bank of Patiala has honoured its 200 officials working in Haryana zone in recognition of their excellent performance in the field of personal banking segment and financing to SIB entrepreneurs during a special campaign that ended on January 15, 2007.

Branches at Ramgarh, Ladwa, Jagadhri workshop, Sector 12, Panchkula, Karnal, Ranwar, Tohana, Bhuna, Kanina Mandi, Barwala and Mohindergarh did exceedingly well and mobilised deposits of Rs 74 crore.

S.K. Lal, general manager (operations) of the bank, decorated 88 officials of top 11 branches with medallions and also presented them gold coins. Besides, Lal also honoured 112 more officials from 50 branches for their commendable work for financing to entrepreneurs under SIB segment to the tune of Rs 23 crore.

Appreciating the role and performance of the officials of top performing branches, Lal emphasised upon the field functionaries of the bank to extend best customer service and be friendly, cooperative and helpful in their dealings.

Highlighting the role of SBoP in the development of Haryana, Lal proudly informed that the bank was serving people of Haryana with its network of 145 branches, out of which 92 branches were located in the rural and semi-urban areas.

He further disclosed that the bank had excelled all parameters, benchmarks and national goals set by the government of India. He said the banks’ credit deposit ratio was 80 per cent against national target of 60 per cent, advances to priority sector was 76 per cent of total advances against the national benchmark of 40 per cent and contribution to the agricultural sector was 42 per cent against national goal of 20 per cent.

Lal also informed that the bank had made advances to agricultural, SSI and tertiary sectors to the tune of Rs 1,371 crore against the target of Rs 1,213 crore which worked out 113 per cent of the annual target.

Bank’s advances to weaker section constitute 11 per cent of total advances against target of 10 per cent. Lal said the bank had financed 110,042 families in Haryana under priority sector for gainful employment.

He also informed that the bank had issued 61,735 kisan credit cards for a sum of Rs 34,306 lakh in Haryana and performed well by surpassing targets under PMRY (104 per cent) and under the Swarn Jayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojna (SGSY), the bank had sanctioned loans to the tune of Rs 299.42 lakh against target of Rs 263 lakh.

Sudhiranjan Sinha, deputy general manager and zonal head of Haryana zone, assured that in the time of come, the determination and commitment of the field functionaries of Haryana zone coupled with the redoubled vigour was bound to show more better results.

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