C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

5 days gone, BSNL Nets services — partly
Government and public sector employees have been unable to draw their salaries. Pensioners are also hit.
Rajmeet Singh & Amrita Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, July 4
After five days, BSNL was finally able to restore broadband and Net services in certain parts of Mani Majra, Panchkula and Mohali this evening, officials claimed. Broadband services to Sector 17 and neighbouring areas are yet to be restored.

Officials claimed they had been able to restore most landline connections in the northern sectors, except a few. “We have been unable to restore 8,000 connections.We will have to lay fresh lines,” said Naresh Sharma, BSNL GM (Chandigarh area).The situation in the southern sectors was comparatively better. Due to link failure, government and public sector employees were unable to draw their salaries. Pensioners were also affected. Clearance of cheques has been abysmally slow due to poor connectivity.Anxious customers could be seen queuing up at different banks as alternative lease lines from private operators were comparatively slow.

A number of persons were unable to submit their service tax as the State bank of Patiala refused to accept returns due to poor link failure. Tomorrow is the last date for filing of returns and the central excise has not made any alternative arrangements to collect the same.

At the petrol filling stations, people faced problems in using ATMs and petro cards as card reader machines were not functioning. Serpentine queues could be seen at ATMs at public sector and private banks in the commercial area.

Railway reservation lines have started to function but the speed is slow and few opted to get their reservations done. Most of those travelling by Shatabdi Express preferred on-the-spot booking, said station superintendent, RK Dutta.

Meanwhile, PCO and STD owners complained that they should be compensated for their losses. “We had initially thought that it would take only a few days. However, it is been five days already and we are suffering huge losses.We should be compensated,” stated a PCO owner.

There are clear indications that lack of responsibility on part of the local administration, the municipal corporation and the BSNL led to the accident.

Enquiries reveal that if the local administration and the municipal corporation had regularly inspected the, loss incident losses could fhave been curtailed. — TNS



Banks, BPOs turn to alternatives

Chandigarh, July 4
Upset over the BSNL’s inability to put back the services on track, a number of corporate houses, financial institutions and BPOs have started looking for alternative service providers.

It seems the BSNL had no back up plan in place. Corporate houses, banks, BPOs and even government organisations is learnt have now started making alternative arrangements.

Talking to TNS, Tata Indicom Punjab circle marketing head Rajiv Rana said they had received a number of enquiries. “Indeed, people have approached us.

We are introducing a product for small Internet connectivity tomorrow.We have also witnessed a spur of sales for postpaid connections. Also, many financial institutions have approached us and our technical teams are in touch with the banks.”

A senior official of Connect and Rupesh Kumar Singh, head, corporate communications, Reliance, also confirmed that their business had increased . “We are getting lot of enquiries for broadband connections, especially for the wireless data card, which is in demand as also the USP card for desktop computer which can help one connect to the internet. Many banks, corporate houses and even media organisations have approached us.”

A senior Hutch official said many hadhave shifted over to Hutch. However, Spice refused to comment, claiming no network problem was faced by its subscribers because of the fire. Airtel officials stated that it was too early to comment. 



For cops, fire not a burning issue
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Five days after the fire at the Sector 17 telephone exchange of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), the Chandigarh Police is yet to initiate a probe into the matter.

So far, the possibility of sabotage is not ruled out. Central intelligence agencies are looking into this aspect. Expensive electronic equipment was gutted in the fire. Apart from private subscribers, the exchange was catering to the district administration of different states, significant defence establishments, the Army, para military forces and the police, said sources .

Considering the importance of the matter, probe should have been initiated by now, said a senior official.

However, police officials maintained they were awaiting reports by experts from BSNL’s engineering wing and also from the fire department to begin with the probe. As there had not been a formal complaint from the BSNL till date, they could not proceed in the matter.

The police has so far recorded two daily diary reports (DDR) about the fire that broke out in the exchange in the wee hours of June 30, damaging almost the entire system.

The fire caused massive losses as almost all telephone, lease lines, the Internet and mobile phone services transmitted were disrupted, much to the inconvenience of not only the subscribers, but important government agencies too.

SHO of the Sector 17 police station inspector Kulwant Singh Pannu said they were in touch with the fire department and the BSNL engineering wing. He said the police did not have the expertise to ascertain the cause of the fire. Hence, they had to wait for reports by both departments to begin a probe.



50 acres cleared of encroachers
School buildings sealed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 4
Cracking down on encroachments in Mansa Devi, the district administration today launched an offensive against the violators and secured over 50 acres of land from near the shrine complex, here today.

In the operation, which began at 10.30 am under supervision of SDM Varinder Dahiya, the encroachers were given time to remove their belongings before the crackdown began. The demolition took place in the presence of heavy police deployment.

Illegal dharamshalas, schools, farmhouses and cattle sheds were also targeted by the anti-encroachment team. Schoolchildren, attending classes, were also asked to leave.

While the boundary walls of various constructions were demolished, locks on the doors of the dharamshalas and schools were replaced and the buildings taken into possession.

The SDM said the Supreme Court had passed an order in favour of the administration, rejecting the claim of the encroachers. The order had come four months back, but the drive was organised now after the order was well-studied.

A resident of Mansa Devi did try to argue with the team against demolishing his structure, maintaining that he had a stay from the lower court where his case was going on. However, after he was unable to produce any papers for the same, the team went ahead and continued the demolition. The protester maintained that the lawyers of the district administration, who were present at the site, were aware of his court case and the stay order, but chose to keep quiet.

The drive continued till around 2 pm, after which the entire land was taken into possession by the administration.



Students to go the healthy way
G. S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
In a major decision, the central board of secondary education (CBSE) has decided to implement Comprehensive School Health Programme in institutions affiliated to it.

Under the programme, health clubs would be set up in schools with stress on overall well-being, mental and physical, of students. The programme would focus on safe school environment, greater physical fitness, nutritious snacks in school canteen and emergency care in case of illness or injury.

The board has directed all heads of schools to implement the programme.

The health manual will be made available to the schools by August 2007.The manual would deal with early detection and treatment of chronic diseases and encourage healthy lifestyle. It would also deal with tobacco and alcohol-related problems.

Advocating this programme, the director, public instructions, SK Setia, said: “This programme is an activity-oriented health education curriculum. Health clubs would act as nodal centres for creating an ‘enabling’ environment in schools.This would further help in ensuring an ambience of wellness and nurturing preventive healthcare measures.”

“We are now more prone to health threats or diseases related to distorted lifestyles. Unhealthy eating habits, like more intake of fast food and eating out regularly, are rapidly growing .This creates major health problems. The programme would create awareness among the students from childhood and they would be self-conscious about their health.”

Meanwhile, the ministry of health and family welfare (MOHFW), government of India, has launched a website www.healthy_india.org exclusively on healthy living.This site explores physical activity in schools, hygiene in school canteens and wrong eating habits among children.



Poor kids to get fiscal help
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
The Chandigarh administration has introduced a scheme to provide financial assistance to dependant children of widows and destitute women.

To extend financial assistance to such children, who are fatherless or whose parents have died, the Financial Assistance to Dependant Children of Widows and Destitute Women Scheme has been launched under which financial assistance of Rs 200 per month per child up to two children in a family will be given.

Children of widows and destitute women under 18 years of age who have been deprived of parental support or care by reason of death, continued absence from home and whose mothers are getting pension from the social welfare department under the Financial Assistance to Widows and Destitute Women Scheme will be eligible for financial assistance.

In cases where both the mother and father of child have died, the assistance would be provided to the legal guardian provided that the child/children is/are not in receipt of family pension from any state/central government.

Such children who have been given institutional care by government/NGOs would not be eligible for the financial assistance.

Applicants desirous of availing financial assistance may apply to the director, social welfare, Chandigarh administration (Town Hall Extension Building , 3rd floor, Sector 17-C, Chandigarh). The forms are available in the office of the social welfare department free of cost.



Five clinics raided
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
A team of health department officials took the record of five clinics in its possession during a surprise visit to Kajheri village here today. The team consisted of Dr Balbir Singh, nodal officer, Dr Rajeshwar Rana and Dr Rajiv Kapila.

While three of the medical practitioners handed over their credentials to the team, the other two were issued a notice of seven days asking them to produce their degrees and certificates.

All practitioners claimed they were registered medical practitioners.



Voltage Shock
Gadgets knocked out
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, July 4
The fluctuation in power became a matter of concern for residents of Sunny Enclave as their electrical gadgets, including air-conditioners, refrigerators and television sets were damaged due to the sudden increase in voltage here today. The residents alleged that they had suffered losses due to the same problem a few days ago also.

S.C. Dhull, a bank official, said the voltage increased around 3.30 am and damaged his air-conditoner, a cooler, fans and tubelights. “The two stabilisers installed near the meter were also damaged,” he said.

Similarly, fans and cooler of Harpal Singh were damaged.

Hardev Singh, another resident, said his refrigerator, cooler and fans were affected by the high voltage.

“We have requested the authorities time and again since the residents were suffering losses worth lakhs of rupees but nothing has been done in this regard,” Dhull added.



Customer accuses bank of harassment
Banking on strong-arm tactics
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Private sector banks seem to be resorting to strong-arm tactics to recover their loans. One such “victim” was an HSBC customer, Jaswant Singh Rana, who had taken a personal loan of Rs 80,000 on March 15, 2003, from HSBC Bank.

Little did he know that the personal loan he had taken for a period of five years would later cause him so much harassment. “The last instalment I paid was on July 31, 2006. A bank employee used to take the payment under the collection centre scheme and he then stopped coming,” says Jaswant. Since they were not too clear on their payment process or how much loan was left to be paid, I presumed that the payment was complete and thus the person was not coming for collection.”

Jaswant was, however, in for a surprise when he received a call last week from an employee of the bank threatening him of dire consequences for non-payment of a balance of Rs 20,000.

“The employee misbehaved with me and used abusive language,” alleges Jaswant. He was later called by an employee of the bank and asked to settle the case by making a payment of Rs 8,000.

However, the matter could not be resolved though he had made the payment of the agreed amount. Jaswant had to face embarrassment when a number of his colleagues and neighbours were called by employees of the bank and threatened.

“A bank of such repute is not expected to behave like this with its customers. I was also threatened by an employee posing as a sub-inspector. My neighbours were told that my loan runs into lakhs and they are the gurantors,” he says.

Harassed, he now hopes that the bank will take some action against the erring employees. “HSBC Bank has not only attempted to lower my reputation but has also mentally harassed me.”

Vikram Chopra of HSBC Bank said they had received a complaint yesterday and were investigating the matter.



Apathy parks losses at CTU lots
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Call it laxity or sheer indifference on the part of the authorities, the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) is suffering a monthly loss of over Rs 1.5 lakh for many months now.

The reasons are not far to see: Two parking lots (underground parking and car parking), which used to earn revenue for the department, have been lying unused for months and no one seems to be bothered about it.

The underground parking lot, which used to fetch over Rs 1 lakh per month, has not been used for the past 16 months.

It was vacated from the then contractor in February 2006 on the pretext of carrying out repairs to address the problem of waterlogging in the area.

According to sources, over Rs 4 lakh have already been spent on the repairs.

According to CTU officials, the parking was closed due to repair work, but during a visit, TNS found that no repair work was going on. The garbage piled up at the scene presented a grim picture of neglect.

“The repair work is a mere eyewash. It seems that the authorities do not want to start this parking for some unknown reasons. Over a year has passed, which is more than enough time to carry out repairs for such a minor problem,” said a worker of the scooter/motorcycle parking at the bus stand.

On the other hand, the car parking contract, which ended about six months ago, is still unallotted.

“After the end of the previous contract, no one is showing interest in it as the authorities have fixed Rs 84,000 as the minimum auction price. The amount is too high for this parking lot,” said a contractor.

Instead of keeping it unused, the officials should bring down the minimum auction price, he added.

Despite repeated attempts, the authorities could not be reached for comments.



Presidential poll: NDA calls meeting

Chandigarh, July 4
As part of its campaign for the presidential poll, the NDA has called a meeting of the MLAs of its constituent parties in the North on July 8 here, BJP leader Satya Pal Jain said today. The MLAs of NDA constituents from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and J&K would participate in the meeting, which would be addressed by BJP national spokesman VK Malhotra and Rajya Sabha MP Arun Shourie. The CM will preside over the meeting. — TNS



Out to explore the Himalayas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
The Chandigarh station saw a flurry of activity this morning with a group of foreigners garnering all attention astride motorbikes. A quick tête-à-tête revealed that this group of 23 Australians is riding through Chandigarh for a “unique” holiday. The aim is “to feel the fresh air and to explore the mighty Himalayas,” explains the organiser of this tour, Amar Sharma of ‘Soul Journeys’, a Delhi-based travel and exploration operation that organises such trips.

Atop 18 500 cc motorbikes, this motley group (the oldest person is over 70 years old) rode through the city this morning and were to stop in Shimla for the night. The 19-day journey takes them to Manali, Leh, Srinagar, Dharamsala and then back to Delhi.

“Motorcycling in India is still considered a mode of transport. But in western countries, it is considered a leisure activity,” says Sharma who organises three or four such trips every year when the high roads to the mountains open.



UT redistributes work among officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
The Chandigarh administration today ordered redistribution of additional work to UT officers.

Raji P. Shrivastava, special secretary, finance, will also look after the work of the child and women development, health and medical education departments. She will be relieving Vivek Atray of the charge of joint secretary, health and medical education.

Bhupinder Singh, joint secretary, home, will look after the work of joint secretary, local government, in addition to his own duties.

Vivek Atray, director, public relations, will look after the work of joint secretary, technical education, and director, technical education, in addition to his own duties relieving S.K. Setia of these charges.

Manjit Singh Brar, director, information technology, will look after the work of the finance branch, secretariat, in the capacity of joint secretary, finance, in addition to his own duties. 



Education dept assures job to widow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
The Chandigarh education department has assured to extend all possible help to a widow of one of its employees after a delegation of the UT Teachers Welfare Association, led by its president Shavinder Singh, met the DPI (S) to submit a request from her side.

The DPI (S) has instructed the officials concerned for the earliest release of ex gratia, other financial benefits and employment to her on compassionate grounds.

“The DPI (S) was kind enough to give a thought for the needy widow of Dr Jagtar Singh who was the only earning member in the family. He has assured us that she will be deputed as library attendant at one of the schools.”

The delegation also included Vijay Kumar, P.S. Brar and G.S. Sidhu.



Suspended, not dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Regarding a news-item headlined ‘Bribe costs SDM’s reader his job’ which appeared in these columns on May 24, it is clarified that Naresh Kumar Gupta, a former reader to SDM (south), has not been dismissed from service by the deputy commissioner-cum-controller, civil defence, R.K. Rao.

It had been inadvertently mentioned that the reader had been dismissed from service. In fact, he had been given an opportunity on May 25 to reply to a show-cause notice as to why he should not be dismissed on the basis of the findings of an inquiry officer.

The reader, who is under suspension, today replied to the show-cause notice. A departmental inquiry was instituted against the reader following his reply to the charge sheet served on him by the administration.

The vigilance case against the reader is still being heard in the district courts.



PU canteen worker found dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
A 47-year-old employee of a Panjab University (PU) canteen was found dead in a tent erected in the building of the Punjab technical education department in Sector 36 early this morning.

The deceased has been identified as Sukhjit of Kangra district. The police has ruled out the possibility of any foul play as no visible injury marks were found on the body.

Sources in the Sector 36 police station said the death came to light at around 7 am when someone noticed the body lying in the tent. The police initially believed that the man might have been electrocuted as there was an electricity wire overhead. The police called experts from the electricity department, who said there was no power supply in the wire.

The SHO of the Sector 36 police station, inspector Ishwar Singh Mann, said the body did not bore any burn or electric shock marks on it, indicating that it was not a case of electrocution.

He added that the victim’s family members reached the city and told the police that Sukhjit had suffered a heart attack about a fortnight ago. Thus, chances were there that he might have died because of a heart attack.

The police said the family informed that after the heart attack, doctors had advised Sukhjit not to take drinks, but he did not follow the advice.

A police officer said Sukhjit was seen drinking last night also.

Father of one, Sukhjit was working in the PU canteen for over 10 years now. The body was shifted to the Sector 16 Government Multi-Speciality Hospital.

Meanwhile, the police has initiated inquest proceedings under section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code in this connection. 



Kerosene sale against fingerprints
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 4
To check the pilferage of kerosene in the city, the food and supplies department is planning to ensure that the entire sale of the essential commodity is accounted for though fingerprint verification.

Already fingerprints of 600 ration card holders, both below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL), have been taken. The fingerprint data of 55,000 ration card holders has to be taken.

Joint director, food and supplies department, Ankur Garg said taking fingerprints would ensure that kerosene was given to right persons. Once the data was complete, kerosene would be released only against fingerprint verification.

Since it is not always possible for ration card holders to be physically present to receive the quota of kerosene, other family members of the card holders will be allowed to take the kerosene initially.

But they will be encouraged to give their fingerprints.

The department is also developing a website that will enable consumers to apply online for ration cards.

With the online display of these details, chances of fake ration cards being issued will be eliminated, issuance of duplicate ration cards (against lost or stolen cards) will be facilitated and other departments will be able to instantaneously check the genuineness of any ration card submitted as an identification document.



City-based engineer takes over as Rotary dist guv
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Chandigarh-based environmental engineer and Rotarian Shaju Peter took over as the District Governor of the Rotary International District 3080 on July 1, this year.

As District Governor, he will be leading 74 Rotary Clubs having over 2,700 Rotarians as members in the district, which covers UT Chandigarh, Uttarakhand and parts of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Peter formally received the collar of District Governor at a function held in Panchkula on Sunday and will lead the district for a year. He took over from his predecessor Dhian Chand.

“This year the Rotary world has been given the theme of ‘Rotary Shares’ by the president of the Rotary International Wilfred J. Wilkinson and my aim is to take Rotary to the grassroots to benefit maximum number of people,” says Peter.

An active member of Rotary Club of Chandigarh Midtown, which he joined in 1987, he has served the Rotary in various capacities and has been able to network extensively with Rotarians abroad and under the matching grants programmes of The Rotary Foundation, has been able to finalise 16 major projects worth $115,000.

These include setting up of vitrio retinal surgery by the Rotary Club of Chandigarh at a cost of Rs 16 lakh and setting up of a diagnostic centre for mentally challenged persons by the Rotary Club Midtown at Rs 16 lakh. Apart from this, there are ambulances for Shimla, Panipat and Shahbad Markanda, funeral van for Morinda, computer centres at Ladwa and Dehradun among other projects.

In addition, he has another 12 clubs engaged in implementing various humanitarian projects at a total outlay of $25,000 which include setting up of a computer centre and furnishing of a school in Ambala, polio corrective surgeries in Dehra Dun, mortuary equipment in Hardwar, eye transplant project in Kharar, public toilets in Kurukshetra, sewing centres in Kurushetra, Parwanoo and Rishikesh and an eye collection centre in Yamunanagar.

Peter served as the president of his club in 1992-93 and was adjudged as the best president. Contribution to the Rotary Foundation also increased by over 70 per cent during his tenure, attracting the award for the most improved per capita contribution.

Currently, he is a member of the Board of Studies, ME (environmental engineering), Panjab University, and his outstanding contributions to the waste water treatment have earned him a position in the Who’s Who of Science and Engineering eighth edition, 2005-06. 



Apartment Act
Implement it, says public

Chandigarh, July 4
The public opinion, sought by the Chandigarh administration, has gone in favour of the implementation of the Chandigarh Apartment Rules, 2001.

Of the 13 replies received by the assistant estate officer, 12 have favored the implementation of the rules. The Chandigarh administration had fixed June 30 as the last date for seeking public opinion.

The applicants have desired that the apartment Act should be implemented, keeping in mind the changing needs of residents and growing size of families.

Sources said the applicants had drawn the attention of the Chandigarh administration towards the planning of southern sectors, which were congested and had higher density of population. The administration’s senior standing counsel had opposed the implementation of the apartment Act.

The counsel had recommended the repeal of the Chandigarh Apartment Rules 2001, so far as residential buildings or properties were concerned.



Tips for safe driving
Crossing another car at a crossroad

Suppose you are intending to turn right off a major road and a car coming the other way is also intending to turn right. The driving rules lay down that you pass behind each other. The expectation from this rule is that even if one of you has to stop to get into position, each should be able to reasonably anticipate that the correct line will be followed.

This basic principle is applied exactly the same way to turn off a dual carriageway. Drivers should pass each other offside to offside, within confines of the ‘safe area’ provided between the opposite directions. If you have to wait before you can join the traffic on the other half of the dual carriageway, always wait in the left hand side of the ‘safe area’ between the two roads.

Courtesy: Safe Driving, compiled by Cdr Swarup J Sarma



Nuisance of encroachments

Encroachments are becoming the order of the day. It seems that the officials concerned are under some kind of pressure. Public is suffering due to his inaction of the authorities.

As the president of the RCS Society Sector 48-A, I had submitted a complaint to the estate officer of Chandigarh on 16.6.04. The estate officer passed orders for removal of the encroachments vide his orders No. 202-Sector-48A/27359 dated 14.9.04. I, then, met the SDO, enforcement, repeatedly but to no avail. Many reminders have been sent to the administration. But our problem still stands and we feel there is no rule of law and the encroachers have an upper hand.Residents of the ground floor houses had fixed iron grills and had occupied the space where installations of the society existed. Other members have been deprived of using such space, which according to the approved building plan, is a common place and is meant for common scooter parking.

Violators need to be punished in order to check encroachments.

Kartar Singh Hothi, 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



Nokia phone thieves nabbed
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 4
The police has arrested two persons for snatching a Nokia mobile phone from an employee working in a shop in Phase X here today.

According to the police, arrested persons were Swarnjit Singh, a resident of Phase XI, and Jaswinder Singh of Phase X. While Swarnjit Singh told the police that he worked in the merchant navy, Jaswinder claimed that he was an engineer. During questioning, they said the mobile phone was to be sold by them for purchase of drugs.

The police said the two went to shop and started looking for some goods. In the meantime, one of them snatched the phone and both fled in an Opel Astra car.

However, the owner of the shop was able to note down the number of the car and the matter was brought to the notice of the police immediately.

Nakas were laid and the police nabbed both before they could make good their escape.



16 held for drinking at public place
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
The Chandigarh police today raided eating joints in a late-night operation in the city. It nabbed 16 people, including staff of two eating joints, for allegedly consuming liquor at a public place.

While 10 persons were caught “red-handed” at a joint in Sector 8, the others were arrested from a food joint in Sector 17.

The police impounded five vehicles during the drive and all those arrested were booked under sections 68, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act. All those arrested during the raid were taken for a medical examination.



Shopkeeper booked

Mohali, July 4
The police has booked a shopkeeper of Phase V and his son on a charge of 

Brij Lal Gupta had taken a shop on rent in the area. Without the knowledge of the owner, he allegedly further give the premises on rent for running a liquor vend.

The owner, Balbir Singh, made a complaint to the police in which he stated that when he tried to question Gupta on the issue, employees of the liquor contractor allegedly misbehaved with him. — OC



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