C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Danger looms
2 more structures unsafe; 300 paledars to move out
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Day Three

  • Two more structures, similar to the one which collapsed, declared unsafe; orders issued to vacate these
  • Notices issued to booth owners who have unauthorisedly raised construction on rooftops
  • Admin asks arhtiyas to shift business to the Sector 39 terminal market
  • Displaced arhtiyas restart their business from temporary alternative sites
  • A tin shed to replace the collapsed structure after cleaning the debris in the next two days
  • Action plan to be implemented to ensure that such incidents do not recur
  • Relief cheques of Rs 2 lakh for the two bereaved families and Rs 50,000 to the injured released 

Chandigarh, June 12
Lives of those visiting and working at the Sector 26 Grain Market here are still at risk. Pressure of the powerful trader lobby and administrative apathy has increased the risk.

Two days after the tragic death of two persons in the collapse of a concrete shed in the market, a committee of experts today found that many other structures in the market are unsafe and require immediate evacuation. Notices have been issued to a number of booth owners who had raised construction on the roof, according to an official.

Based on the report of the committee, orders have been issued to get two more concrete structures - also being used by marginal arhtiyas for trading of vegetable and fruits - vacated from the traders. The two structures, built around 1957, are located at a short distance from the site of the mishap.

To the utter shock of a team of Chandigarh Tribune, the two dilapidated structures, which now have been declared “unsafe”, have been housing around 300 paledars (labourers who lift sacks of vegetable and fruit). In the late nineties, UT officials had allowed the arhtiyas to get their work force adjusted on the rooftops of the structures.

Living in inhuman conditions in makeshift tin sheds on the rooftops of the two sheds, the workers are exposed to danger. The concrete on the ceiling has started falling and iron rods stand exposed. The area surrounding the structures is insanitary. Complaints of electric shocks due to loose electric wires are rampant “It has not happened in one day. No one listened for years,” said an arhtiya, Deepak.

Now, the paledars are being asked to vacate the rooftops. “We are an integral part of the mandi. The administration should allot us dwelling units near the mandi, otherwise we will be rendered homeless,” said Subash.

Problems are aplenty at the mandi. Poor sanitation and encroachments are galore. B.K. Sood, a trader in the mandi, said problem of rodents making holes under the buildings need to be tackled by effective pest control.

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The all-powerful trader lobby to blame?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Sunday’s incident of a roof collapse at the Sector 26 Grain Market has brought to fore the role of the politically powerful trader lobby in encouraging encroachments, tampering with infrastructure and protecting offenders. There is also evasion of market fee.

It has been established that the burgeoning number of traders, big and marginal, and its pressure on the inadequate infrastructure added to the calamity in which two lives were lost. With little space left, rehri and pheriwalas squat on roads and the space meant for vehicular and pedestrian movement.

Over the years, encroachment drives initiated by different deputy commissioners to clear the public place has met with stiff resistance by the traders. Within no time encroachments are back with a vengeance as officers of the Chandigarh administration watch helplessly. During the tenure of successive DCs - Chattar Singh, Ram Shekher, Arun Kumar and R.K. Rao - drives were launched, but with little success.

After being pushed to the corner for administrative negligence, senior officials admit that political masters play the spoilsport whenever a drive to clean market gains momentum. The chairman of the Market Committee that manages the affairs of the mandi often has affiliations with political parties. Complaints of the staff of the market committee being hand in glove with political parties are also there.

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He survived, but lost his legs
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Commission agent Naresh, who survived the June 10 Grain Market tragedy by a whisker, has saved his life but lost his legs.

In fact, for the philanthropist, who donated fruits to the PGI gurdwara, life came a full circle as the premier medical institute saved his life today during an operation. However, the agony of living with life-long disability will continue to haunt him for the lifetime.

PGI sources said the priority was to save the patient's life. His limbs had to be amputated as there was no other alternative.

He had been saved by the blessings of the needy, whom he was always ready to help in cash and kind, one of his relatives said.

And for members of the Subzi Mandi Arhtiya Association, who were present at the PGI in substantial number, it was a moment of relief that their member had been saved.

“We are with the family in the time of this crisis and will extend every possible support,” Digvijay Kapoor, association president, said.

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Core group to handle calamities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
The Chandigarh administration has decided to form a 'core group' of senior officials of different departments to handle an exigency like the collapse of a shed in the Grain Market, Sector 26, which resulted in two deaths on Sunday.

Sources said a crucial meeting in this regard would be chaired by the adviser to the UT administrator on June 14. Prominent wings of the administration which would be associated with the core group include the municipal corporation, health and the police.

A comprehensive plan for calamities is one of the subjects which will figure at the meeting. Besides regular training of officials, the administration also plans to follow it up with regular monitoring.

“The UT already has a disaster management committee; only its functioning needs to be reviewed and slight alterations will be made to make it better. We managed such a big mishap within four hours, which shows the functional ability of our work force. Certain aspects definitely need to be improved,” an official said.

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Roof Collapse
No rescue operation, this
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
From amid the ruins of the ravaged structure in the Sector 26 Grain Market, life is once again limping back to normalcy.

Tonnes of debris of the collapsed structure may mean nothing to those who used to run their business at the site, but for the “penniless” in the area, it certainly has opened a new source of livelihood.

Ever since the structure is being demolished and removed from the site, scores of children can be seen searching for leftover vegetables, which have so far survived the vagaries of the weather.

“We are sorting out the better one for selling in the market and the leftover will be consumed in our home,” said Arun.

Meanwhile, life is limping back to normalcy for those whose business had been affected due to the roof collapse.

A senior official said traders had been temporarily relocated to an alternative site.

Once a tin shed was made at the affected site, the traders would be shifted back.

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Shiamak pupils set stage ablaze
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 12
The poise, the spirit and the energy shone through as Shiamak Davar’s Institute for Performing Arts (SDIPA) and the Durga Das Foundation came together for the annual “Summer Funk-2007” at Inderdhanush Auditorium, Sector 5, here today.

The evening was filled with energetic grooves, animated moves and an eager bunch of around 500 participants, from tiny tots to adults, who weaved their magic onstage.

However, it was a special evening for a group of handicapped, visually challenged, deaf and dumb children of Asha School, who gave a scintillating performance on sequences, each one different for its costumes, wiggles, props and music.

The songs were also picked up from a varied setting. So while kids went crazy gyrating on “Pan Banaras” and “Aaj ki raat...” the elder, more mature lot of performers took on the challenge of dancing on latest number “Sajna ji vaari” from Honeymoon Travels.

The energised dancers jived away on charged beats, commanding the difficult prop of flags with elegance and style. The affair of striking presentations went further with the advanced batch presenting a sequence on Punjabi number “Ishq”.

The earthy and natural presentation on “Salame-e-Ishq”, by little ones was particularly interesting.

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Take e-waste threat seriously: experts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Pollution caused from e-waste and used batteries can pose a major health threat if not checked in time, this was stated by experts at the concluding day of the two-day training programme on management of hazardous and electronic waste and used batteries.

The programme was jointly organised by HRD foundation, New Delhi and Punjab Pollution Control Board. The experts expressed the urgent need to reduce and recycle e-waste apart from formulating steps for safe disposal.

Delivering the keynote address, Dr R.S Hamsagar, consultant to World Health Organisation, laid stress on educating children regarding segregation of household waste into biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste in order to reduce garbage load on municipal bodies.

Cautioning about the ill affects of lead acid batteries, Dr Hamsagar stressed that used batteries must be handed over to authorised recycling agencies to reduce the threat to environment.

Inaugurating the training programme, M.P Singh, secretary, Department of Science, Technology and Environment, reaffirmed the commitment of Punjab government to provide clean and healthy environment to the people of the state.

PPCB Chairman, Yogesh Goel said adequate steps are being taken by the PPCB to assure compliance to hazardous waste management rules.

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Bills: Power dept trips, leaves consumers fuming
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Hundreds of electricity consumers in the city are a peeved lot these days over receiving inflated bills for March to May. The added total is in variation with individual addition of the charges under different heads, including energy, fixed, electricity duty, meter rentals and service equipment.

It is common sight to see consumers in disagreement with the staff of e-sampark centres at different places in the city.

Joginder Kaur, a senior citizen, said she received a bill for Rs 1,136. “When I added the different figures individually, as shown in the bill, it amounted to only Rs 1,066.”

She said: “When I approached the e-sampark centre of Sector 10, I was told that the centre could not do anything and that the necessary amendments could be made only by the electricity department. I had to return empty-handed.”

Jaspal Singh, a schoolteacher, also had the same complaint. He said: “I went to a nearby electricity office yesterday and was told that a clarification could be issued only by the head office. When I persisted with my argument, I was asked to come today and now I have been told that I will be required to pay the amount shown against the total.”

The electricity department has accepted the mistake in its bills. “The total shown on the bills is correct. As regards the error, the figure which equals the 'fixed charges' has been deleted from the bill details. We are rightly charging the amount shown against the total. The error will be communicated in next month's bill,” a senior official said.

Navjyot Kaur, a housewife, said the department should at least issue a statement accepting the mistake.

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Sector 38 roads in disrepair
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Even as roads in Sector 38 West have been in deplorable condition for the past couple of years, the authorities concerned are yet to wake up to the inconvenience being caused by these to residents.

Most roads in the Sector have not been recarpeted for the past many years and have been subjected to official apathy. The road connecting Sector 38 to 39 and the main road in the Sector has numerous potholes.

These potholes soon become puddles, which turn into perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Besides, the state of the road makes it more prone to accidents. Residents allege that authorities act in a biased manner when it comes to recarpeting roads.

They say roads in Sectors where VIPs stayed are re-laid even before these start developing cracks, but those in Sector 38 remain unattended to in spite of all the hue and cry residents raise.

Rahul Kumar, a Sector resident, says they have approached the authorities a number of times but the requests seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

The road connecting the city to Punjab, adjoining Sector 38, is also in bad shape.

The inner road that joins the Sector to the main road has blind spots due to tall hedges on both sides. This makes it highly prone to accidents, with an average of three accidents reported every week.

Residents also want the traffic police to put up barricades on the road connecting the Sector to Sector 39, as youngsters often drive their cars at high speed, posing a threat to residents, especially children.

The chief engineer of the municipal corporation had, in an interview to the TNS, stated that all roads constructed five years ago would be recarpeted on priority, but so far nothing had been done in this regard.

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Residents rue supply of dirty water
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 12
Complaints of muddy water being supplied in Phase II were received here today.

Residents said the problem started yesterday and since then they had not been able to use water for their daily chores. They were apprehensive that the quality of water being supplied was bound to lead to diseases if used for drinking purposes. The residents had collected samples of the water being supplied in the area.

Dr J.S. Lamba suspected that severage water must have got mixed up with water supply due to some leakage in the underground pipes and as such the water must have got contaminated. He said going by the colour of water being supplied in the area it not only contained mud particles but there was more than that.

However, officials of the public health department claimed that a sluice valve in the area was not opened for the past two to three years. Now, when it was opened the water supply got affected to due excess silt in the pipeline.

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Capt behind dera row: Bitta
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 12
Chairman of the Anti-Terrorist Front Maninderjit Singh Bitta has held Capt Amarinder Singh responsible for the Dera Sacha Sauda row.

The allegation has been made by Bitta in a letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on June 10. He alleged that the dera row took place because the former Chief Minister had been encouraging the dera to flourish during his tenure.

Bitta alleged that Paramjit Singh Sarna, president of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, was indulging in activities which could revive terrorism in Panjab. He alleged that both Capt Amarinder Singh and Sarna were playing with the sentiments of people.

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BJP workers told to enrol members
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Taking a strong note of senior BJP leaders leaving the party and joining the Congress a few days ago, Sahib Singh Verma, organisational in-charge of the BJP, Chandigarh and Punjab, today asked workers to start a membership drive.

Allegations were also levelled against senior party workers at a meeting of party workers held today.

State and district office-bearers, mandal presidents, present and former councillors attended the meeting.

It was alleged that the party membership had gone down and senior members had been leaving the party.

According to sources, senior leaders expressed displeasure over the way party high command dealt with certain issues.

Leaders alleged that membership copies had yet to be assigned.

Verma asked mandal presidents to enroll new members.

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MC chief charged with misuse of powers
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 12
The president of the local Municipal Council, Rajinder Singh Rana, has been issued a show-cause notice by the principal secretary, local government, on the charges of misusing his powers.

The notice was received by the president yesterday in which it was stated that why the authorities concerned should not take action against him for allegedly misusing powers. The president has been asked to give a reply within 21 days. It has been pointed out that the council chief had transferred three employees of the civic body even when he had no powers to do so. Two clerks, Suresh Kumar and Ashok Kumar, and one peon were transferred.

Moreover, the president kept postponing the opening of tenders for sanitation work for which he was not authorised.

However, Rana said he had not misused his powers. He had transferred the employees from one seat to another within the council and he had the power to do so. He had postponed the tenders to bring about some change in the terms of the agreement to introduce more competition among contractors.

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Jagbans takes over as AG (audit)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Jagbans Singh, an IA&AS officer of the 1986 batch, has taken over as accountant general (audit), Haryana, with effect from June 6.

He will have the audit jurisdiction over all government offices, autonomous bodies, public sector undertakings of the state and all central government offices and central autonomous bodies situated in the state.

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Assault Case
NGOs move human rights commission
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 12
A day after Chandigarh Tribune highlighted the alleged raw deal given by the Mohali police to Harbhajan Singh Punia, a Sector 71 resident, two human rights organisations today moved the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) in this regard.

In their application, under sections 12 and 13 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the Global Human Rights Council and the Human Rights Protection Council demanded a thorough probe into the “false” FIR against Punia and other residents. The application will come up for hearing before the commission on June 14.

The police had booked Punia on the charges of assaulting another sector resident Vaneet Inder Bajwa. This was despite the fact that Punia sustained multiple injuries after he was allegedly assaulted by Bajwa.

Meanwhile, Jasjeet Singh Bunny, in charge of the SAD in Kharar constituency, demanded a fair probe into the incident.

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Club members honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Members of the newly constituted body of the Mohali Press Club were honoured by the All-India Punjabi Journalist Association (APJA) at a function at a Sector 35 hotel.

Addressing the gathering, association president Shingara Singh Bhullar called for unity among the fraternity.

He said it would help journalists assert their right to the freedom of expression.

The general secretary of the society Ajit Sailani honoured all new members of the association by giving away mementos.

The office-bearers are: president - Anil Bhardwaj ; general secretary - M.P. Kaushik; senior vice-president - Lakhwant Singh; vice-president - Sandeep Rao; vice-president - Amardip Saini; joint secretary - Veena Rajput; joint secretary - Sukhwinder Singh; organising secretary - Harbans Singh Bagri; and cashier - Jaswinder Singh Jassi.

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Youth feared drowned

Mohali, June 12
The youth of Phase XI was feared drowned in Hardwar yesterday.

Ramandeep Singh left for Hemkunt Sahib along with 15 friends on June 10 on two-wheelers. The group reached Hardwar yesterday where four youths went for a dip in the Ganga. A strong current swept them away. Three of them were saved but the whereabouts of Ramandeep were not known. — OC

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Letters

Update official websites

The boost introduction of information technology has made the gathering and passing on of information very easy. The world has become a small place now. Sadly, there is still lack of awareness regarding the availability of necessary information. Many email addresses, like that of the DC Panchkula, are defunct. The Mansa Devi Mandir has an email address, but not an internet connection. It is necessary that such sites be updated periodically. Even newspapers and its correspondents should have at least one official email address so that readers have better participation. The system of auto-generation of acknowledgements is very common these days. The same should immediately be introduced in all government and newspaper offices as well.

R.K. Garg
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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Kharar man held for snatching
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
The crime branch of the Chandigarh police claims to have solved several cases of snatching in the city with the arrest of a Kharar resident.

The police has recovered a knife and a stolen Honda Activa scooter from the accused.

In-charge of the crime branch inspector Satbir Singh said following a tip-off a team led by sub-inspector Paramjit Kaur Sekhon arrested the accused from the road separating Sectors 37 and 38 last evening.

The accused has been identified as 20-year-old Manoj Kumar, alias Sahil.

He was riding a Honda Activa scooter (PB 65 B 6134), which he had stolen from Phase V, Mohali, on May 25. Besides, a knife and a gold chain were recovered form him.

He said during interrogation the accused admitted to robbing Gurparkash of Sector 41-D of gold chain on Sunday night near Badheri chowk.

Sources in the crime branch said Manoj told the police that he had carried out 19 incidents of snatching in various parts of the city during the past two week. However, cases had not been registered in some of the incidents.

He was produced before a local court today and was remanded in two-day police custody.

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Cyclist crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
A cyclist was crushed to death under a CTU bus near the railway line in Mani Majra on Saturday night.

The police said the victim had been identified as 48-year-old Muzahidin, a resident of Bapu Dham Colony in Sector 26. He was on his way back home when the incident took place. The bus hit the cycle from the rear following which Muzahidin fell on the road. His head was crushed under the wheels of the bus.

The police said the victim was taken to the PGI, where doctors declared him brought dead.

The bus driver, Gurchet Singh, has been arrested on a charge of causing death due to rash and negligent driving.

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Two Sec 22 shops burgled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
Two shops were burgled in Sector 22 C last night.

The police said Prem Kumar of shop Nos. 44 and 45 lodged a complaint with the police alleging that thieves burgled the two shops after gaining access through ventilators.

They stole Rs 8,000 in cash from a bakery shop, and Rs 10,000 in cash from his shop, besides taking away a bottle of whisky.

A case has been registered at the police station, Sector 17.

Vehicles stolen

Hardeep Singh of Sector 22 C reported to the police that his Mahindra Scorpio (PB 09 7205) was stolen from his residence last night.

In another incident, Ranbir Yadav of Sector 56 lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his scooter (CH 01 Z 3282) was stolen from Sector 22 on Saturday.

Similarly, Lal Chand of Dhanas reported to the police that his scooter (CH 01 T 3429) was stolen from his residence on Sunday night.

Three cases of theft have been registered.

Theft

Baldev Raj of Vikas Nagar, Mauli Jagran, reported to the police that Rs 1,700 in cash and a mobile phone were stolen from his residence on Sunday night.

A case of theft has been registered.

Injured

A motorcyclist, Narinder Singh of Army Flats, Sector 29, was hurt after he was hit by a Jeep (HR 03 7778) at Sector 29-30 trafficlights on Monday.

He was admitted to the PGI. The police arrested the jeep driver, Krishan Kumar of Haryana Panchayat Bhavan, Sector 28, on the charge of causing injuries due to rash and negligent driving.

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Pirated CDs seized

Mohali, June 12
The police has rounded up a shopkeeper from the Phase V market on a charge of selling pirated CDs. According to information available, DSP Hargobind Singh raided the shop and seized pirated CDs. A computer used for illegal purposes was also seized by the police. A case under the Copyright Act has been registered. — OC

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Boy killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Raipur Rani, June 12
A 14-year-old boy was killed after the bicycle he was riding was hit by a tractor-trailer at Shahpur village here today.

The trailer was carrying “bajri”. The boy died on the spot.

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Bottled water costlier
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 12
The soaring mercury has sent the prices of bottled water sky-rocketting. As the demand for bottled water has increased in the recent years, the manufacturers, too, have hiked their prices.

The prices of all brands of drinking water have gone up by Rs 2 - 3 per litre. The Catch bottled water is the most expensive at Rs 15 a bottle, while a majority of brands are now available at Rs 12 a bottle.

Sources in the bottled water trade informed TNS that the demand for bottled water has gone up by almost 100 per cent in the past ten days. As compared to a daily sale of about 1,800 - 2,000 litres of bottled water till a month ago, the sale of bottled water in the tricity has gone up to over 3,600 litres a day.

The maximum temperature recorded today was 43.8 degrees and the minimum temperature was 30.4 °C, ensuring that most of the people remained indoors. In fact, all through the month of June, the maximum daily temperature has remained over 40 °C.

Coupled with the sweltering heat is the fact that there are not very many water kiosks in the tricity. Even water coolers installed by private parties in market places are rarely cleaned, though they provide cold drinking water. With the health and diet-conscious residents swearing by the benefits of having water over aerated drinks, the sales of bottled water is at an all-time high.

Sandeep Kumar, a distributor for Bisleri water, informed that in Panchkula itself, the sale of bottled water had gone up from 600 litres a day to 1,000 - 1,200 litres a day. His views are supported by Parveen Bansal of New Underhill Supermarket in Sector 11, who says that as compared to one case of water that he was selling last month, the sale had gone up to four cases of water a day.

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