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Car rams into autorickshaw
3 school kids, driver hurt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Three schoolchildren escaped with minor injuries in a road accident after a car rammed into the autorickshaw carrying them at traffic lights point on the road dividing Sectors 36 and 37 here early this morning.

Kritika
Kritika

The car dragged the autorickshaw to a distance of about 50 ft before coming to a halt. Both vehicles were badly damaged. Vinayaka Gupta of Class VI, Kritika Kalia of Class VIII and Pushpam of St. Anne’s School in Sector 32 as well as the autorickshaw driver, Ajay of Colony No.5, were rushed to the Sector 16 Multi-Speciality Hospital. They were discharged after first-aid.

According to eyewitnesses, the accident took place at 7 am when a Honda City car (CH-03-R-2835) driven at high speed, rammed into the autorickshaw (CH-03-M-2578).

Vinayaka
Vinayaka

The car was coming from the Batra Cinema road while the auto from Sector 37. The auto was reduced to mangles with the impact of the collision. Its engine came off and it broke into parts. The fuel tank was burst.

The car went out of control and climbed on to the footpath near a police assistance booth. The front portion of the car was badly damaged. The auto driver fell unconscious while the children fell on the road.The police reached the spot at 7:07 am and shifted the victims to the hospital in an ambulance.The traffic police, which begins work at 8 am, reached there soonafter.

Vinayaka, who was in shock, could not figure out what had happened. She suffered a nasty cut on her right arm and received two stitches and an internal hip injury. Kartika and Pushpam sustained minor injuries on the face.

The auto driver injured his hands and feet and had a head injury too. 

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Mauled by Malls - II
Mandatory provisions given the go-by
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service 

Chandigarh, July 7
The explosion in the number of vehicles in the tricity notwithstanding, the Chandigarh administration has been doling out concessions to developers of multiplexes, not making it mandatory for them to make provision for adequate parking area in proportion to the area covered by these multiplexes in the Industrial Area here.

Once commissioned, these multiplexes would trigger not only traffic chaos but also make these inaccessible to emergency services, including fire.

While multiplexes are nearing completion, there are no signs of parking facilities at any of the three complexes. Against the norm of parking space for three cars for every 1,000 sq ft of covered area, the administration has approved building plans of three multiplexes where only skeletal parking facilities would be available.

For example, Fun Republic, the first multiplex of the city, has parking facilities for 300 cars in the 90,000 sq ft complex. But the Centra Mall in Phase I, measuring 1,O2397sq ft, will be able to park only 100 cars. Similarly, another mall in the area will have a provision for parking of 100 vehicles in the new complex with a covered area of more than one lakh square feet.

Sunita Monga, chief architect, said: "We are aware of the parking problems likely to emerge at multiple shopping centres. Sites have been identified for special parking in Phase I and II.”

Centra Mall is approximately in a one-acre (1,02397 square feet) corner plot. It shares a boundary wall with a German company alliance, Groz Bekket.The company has repeatedly highlighted the problem it expects to encounter once the multiplex becomes operational. There is a main road in the front and on its right side, which obviously cannot be theparking site.

An industrialist said” " First they said that they would make parking in resumed buildings. These people don’t quit their properties easily and the matter is often pursued for a long time on courts. Even is they do make parking places, do you expect people to walk long distances to the mall, especially in case of inclement weather? ”

In front of the multiplex is a mangrove, which cannot be touched. Shortage of parking space can be better understood in the background of the venue having at least 60 commercial sites and four theatres. The building plans show a double basement. The basement, according to the plan, will have space for 53 vehicles and another 53 are expected in the lower basement. There will be hardly any space available for the visitors to the multiplex.

The sanctioned building plans show at least 1,007 seats in the four theatres.The fourth floor measuring approximately 20,000 square feet is meant exclusively for the food court. So one can expect a rush.

Before allowing conversions, the administration should have ensured adequate and connected parking areas before approving building plans of these multiplexes. 

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PU Syndicate Decides
Internal assessment (correspondence) goes
*
Admission date extended till July 16
 
*
Seats for cancer-afflicted 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
The syndicate at its meeting at Panjab University today, decided to do away with internal assessment for undergraduate courses in correspondence studies in view of the demand by students. It is also considering whether internal assessment is required for other colleges at the undergraduate level.

A decision was also made on the report by R S Grewal (law department) on the issue of some of students being given 0 marks on internal assessment by two teachers of the evening studies programme. Another committee has been constituted to investigate the matter.

The syndicate also took serious note of Guru Gobind Singh College for Women, Sector 26, not seeking affiliation for three courses-advertising, business and event management. It , however, decided to let the 86 students enrolled in the courses to continue.

It was decided that one seat in every department would be reserved for the cancer-afflicted. Also the last date for admissions was extended from July 9 to July 16.

The syndicate approved the appointment of Dr Mohsin Ullah Khan as Rajiv Gandhi chair-professor and Dr RS Kler as professor of Swami Sarvanand Giri PU Regional Centre, Bajwara, Hoshiarpur.

It was decided that students with a 3-year diploma in engineering from recognised state boards of technical education would be eligible for admission to the 2nd year of the 4-year B.E. degree at Swami Sarvanand Giri PU Regional Centre, Bajwara, Hoshiarpur. 

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BSNL too little, too late
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Even after eight days of the fire in the Sector 17 telephone exchange which virtually crippled the telecom services in the region, the public sector telecom behemoth Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited(BSNL) is yet to get its act together.

With the restoration of the services taking its own time, BSNL customers, including landline and internet users, are at their wits' end. Besides, with leaselines yet to be set right, the functioning of the banking industry is in a shambles.

In fact, the worst sufferers seem to be internet users. The devastating fire had "corrupted" the user names and passwords of a number of internet users virtually cutting them from the rest of the world. With the internet helplines yet to be functional, the users are a harassed lot.

Sources said the banking transactions in the MICR house manned by Punjab National Bank had been affected adversely with the clearance of cheques worth over Rs 1,000 crore being held up. In fact, the staff of Haryana Raj Bhavan are yet to get their salaries due to snag in the leaselines. Similarly, a section of the pensioners of the Punjab government are yet to get their salaries.

Banking sources said the speed of the alternative leaselines of the private telecom providers was "too slow" to cope with banking requirements of the general public.

Chief general manager (telecom) of the Punjab circle Rajendra Singh conceded that there were problems in the restoration of leaselines. However, the mobile and broadband services had been restored to a large extent. These services, including the landline service, were expected to be fully restored by tomorrow, Rajendra Singh claimed.

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Born on 7-7-7

Chandigarh, July 7
At least 35 couples were blessed with babies on the auspicious 7-7-7.

The birth of 11 children was reported from the PGI till the afternoon while Governenment Multispeciality Hospital, (GMSH), Sector 16, had 16 babies. Similarly, eight babies were born at Government Medical College and Hospital, (GMCH) Sector 32, by afternoon.

While Rajni and saroj Kumar of Mohali were blessed with a son at 00.50 am at GMCH, Punam and Subhash of Chadigarh had a daughter at 11.05 am. At GMSH, Shabha and Arun of Burail village in Chandigarh had a son at 00.57.

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Heart-to-heart
A blessing on the blessed 7/7/7 day
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
It was as if she was looking for a reason to celebrate this auspicious day. And Hasina, the 13-year-old slum child, suffering from rheumatic heart disease, was reason enough for her.

“I have led a very lonely life. It’s my pleasure to bond with someone in some way, on a day so rare. Today is the seventh day of the seventh month of 2007. I am told it’s a blessed day,” said a beaming Sanyukta Khanna, who, at 91, is the oldest among inmates housed in the old-age homes in Chandigarh.

A resident of Satya Sai Old Age Home in Sector 30 for eight years, Sanyukta, in a rare display of generosity, today donated Rs 10,000 -- her bit -- for Hasina’s surgery. And for several reasons, she stands out among scores of donors, who came forward for the cause of the child, featured in these columns yesterday.

To begin with, Sanyukta is herself at an advanced stage of breast cancer. She is also suffering serious cardiac complications. And while most other donors come from complete, happy families, that have care and affection to show, Sanyukta carries on her slender shoulders the burden of a painful past.

A firebrand social activist of her times, wife of a successful former bureaucrat in the Rajasthan Government and a celebrity in her own right, she now leads a nameless life, with no family support worth the name. Her husband and only son have been long dead. Her grandsons are busy leading their lives in Europe.

Back in Chandigarh, she is all by herself; her dignity being her only companion. “Glory of the past is like a sweet memory, which stays by my side all the time. I was the first woman to discard the veil (purdah) in Rajasthan, as also to drive a car in that orthodox society,” Sanyukta recalls with pride. At one time, she was working closely on several social projects with Maharani Gayatri Devi at Jaipur. She was also heading about 50 voluntary organisations in Rajasthan.

“But those were sunshine days when everything was working out well. Ever since my husband passed away, life has been revealing its bitter side,” says the otherwise cheerful lady, whose brother stays in this very city.

After her husband and son died, she started staying with her brother in Chandigarh. All he offered was the annexe in his three-kanal Sector 9 house, on rent.

“Finally, Sanyukta was fed up with the life of indignity. She saw the advertisement of our old age home and called us. Since that day, she has been with us. No one comes to see her,” said A.K. Ummat, founder-trustee of the old age home, who also donated Rs 10,000 for Hasina’s surgery, due t be held on July 11 at the PGI. Funds for the operation are still short. Donors can send the cheques favouring the Youth Technical Training Society to room number 13, Karuna Sadan, Sector 11-B, or call 2747329.

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Rich-poor gulf in way of India becoming superpower: Expert
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh July 7
The government has a social responsibility to provide health care and education infrastructure to all in the country and this is must also to sustain the pace of growth which India has achieved during the recent years. This was stated by Dr G. K. Chadha, member, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, here, today.

Dr Chadha, a visiting fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK, and professor of economics and vice-chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, was here to attend the Institution Foundation Day of the PGI. Expressing concern over the gap between different sections in society, the professor said India could become an international superpower competing with US and China only if the disparity of growth between the rural poor and urban rich decreased.

The world is unipolar today and in the next six years it would be bipolar with two super powers, including China and USA, and by 2025 India would be able to join them making the globe tripolar provided we could set up substantial public institutes to supplement the needs in the education and health care sectors, claimed Dr Chadha.

About the disparity among the urban as well as rural population, Dr Chadha said the per capita expenditure on education in the top 5 per cent people in urban India comes to 40.48 per cent against a mere 0.33 per cent by the 5 per cent people in the bottom income group. Similarly 45.99 per cent of total expenditure on health care from comes from just 5 per cent people in the top income group and just 0.48 per cent is the contribution of 5 per cent people on the bottom.

The situation in the rural area is grimmer as 39.07 per cent of the total expenditure is made by top 5 per cent people against 0.46 per cent by 5 per cent on the bottom. In health care also, the top 5 per cent people spend 50.41 of total expenditure in rural areas against 0.48 per cent by 5 per cent people on the bottom, added the economist. 

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PM honours 2 Chandigarh scientists
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
A senior Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) scientist, hailing from the city, has been honoured for outstanding and innovative contributions in the design and development of indigenous armament system for a strategic programme of national importance.

Dr S. K. Vasudev was conferred the DRDO's award for performance excellence, which carries a prize money of Rs 10 lakh, by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi today, scientist, has been honoured for his innovative contributions while heading a team for the design and development of indigenous, state-of-the-art armament systems.

Currently working as director of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in Delhi, Dr Vasudeva has spent about 30 years at the Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) here, which he had joined in 1971 as armament scientist.

In 2001, he was chosen to lead “programmes of national importance for defence preparedness”. He has all along been associated with all major trials of armaments.

In recognition of his achievements, he has already received several DRDO awards, including ones for his contribution to “Pokharan-I” experiments; “Path-breaking Research Awards” from the Union Ministry of Defence for contribution to “Pokharan-II” and “Shakti” experiments, along with “Scientist of the Year” award for 2002.

In 1980, he was deputed to attend a warhead technology training course in West Germany. He has also worked at Swedish Detonics Research Laboratory, Stockholm.

Another scientist posted at TBRL, Tusharkanti Raychaudhuri was honoured by the Prime Minister for the development of critical specialised technologies required for the production of gas-filled three-electrode trigger spark gap switch. He was among the 10 recipients in the DRDO Scientist of the Year Award.

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Irregularities
Presiding officer, judge advocate warned 
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
In an unusual development, the Army has issued a warning to the presiding officer and judge advocate for certain irregularities in the conduct of proceedings during an ongoing general court martial (GCM) which was trying a Major at Tibri for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman officer.

In his orders read out in open court, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 15 Infantry Division, Maj Gen K.M.S. Shergill, the court’s convening authority, warned the judge advocate, Maj A.K. Panwar to ensure correct interpretation of legal provisions. The judge advocate is the legal adviser to the court.

The order stated that the court’s presiding officer, Col Rupinder Singh is equally and personally responsible for the correct conduct of proceedings. All relevant transactions have a bearing on the case and are required to be recorded in the proceedings, the GOC directed.

The convening authority’s orders come in response to a petition moved by the accused’s defending officer, Lt Col Mukul Dev before the higher authorities. He had raised several allegations which included that he was not allowed to move to the trial location and nor was he allowed to inspect the court record as entitled.

He had also alleged that submissions and statements of the defence were not being recorded and several provisions of Army Rules were not being complied by the court, thereby suppressing the defence.

He had also pointed out that he was issued a caution by the court on a complaint by the complainant women officer without his comments being sought on the matter. He had further alleged that the judge advocate was tainted and lacked basic knowledge of law.

The GOC observed that the absence of the defence counsel and defending officer had prejudiced the defence. He also directed the court to record precisely and in sequence the transactions taking place during the trial.

The convening authority also set aside the caution awarded to the defending officer by the presiding officer, observing that the action of the court was illegal and against the principles of natural justice. The GOC warned the presiding officer to be more careful while dealing in such matters.

On the issue of the allegations against the judge advocate, the GOC observed that the GOC, 12 Corps, has already taken action against him in a case pertaining to irregularities in recruitment. He, however, deferred the matter to the deputy judge advocate general, Western Command, to deal with this issue.

Meanwhile, the court, on objections raised again by the defence, admitted to the proceedings of the trial being tampered with. The court directed that the original page (No. 5) as well as the tampered page (5-A) would both be placed on the record.

The original page did not contain the charges against the accused and the defence had objected as to how the accused was arraigned when the proceedings did not reflect any charges against him.

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Train to Amritsar has few takers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
The direct train between Chandigarh and Amritsar does not have many takers. It seems that the railway board has failed to gauge the expectations of the people while starting the train on a trial basis from July 1.

Sources said around 100 passengers boarded the eight-coach train daily from Chandigarh. The link express, which has eight coaches, joins the Hardwar-Amritsar Jan Shatabdi at Ambala for onward journey to Amritsar.

A senior official of the northern railway said it was too premature to comment on the success of the train.

The train starts from Chandigarh at 4.45 pm and arrives at 12.15 pm. Due to wrong timings, a similar train between Kalka and Amritsar had failed earlier. Ideally, the train should start early in the morning and return by night as most of the rush was of tourists.

J.S. Bhogal, a member of the Zonal Railway Users Consultative Committee, said no initiative had been taken by the Akali government in Punjab to promote the train. He said since Amritsar had been declared a heritage city, a special train should be run between Amritsar and Chandigarh. Two trains should run between Chandigarh and Patna and Chandigarh and Hazoor Sahib.

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Demolition drive hits motorists 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Commuters and motorists on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway were an inconvenienced lot following a demolition drive along the highway undertaken by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for acquisition of land to carry out the four-laning project of the Zirakpur-Ambala highway.

A team of the NHAI and local administration officials launched the demolition drive as part of the acquisition project for four-laning of the Zirakpur flyover.

Following a warning by the authorities concerned, a large number of shopkeepers could be seen demolishing their encroachments from shops. Though the authorities had announced the diversion plan for motorists, in the absence of adequate publicity, scores of motorists and commuters took to the highway, creating a traffic jam.

The authorities want the four-laned road to be 45 metres as per the NHAI guidelines. Shopkeepers’ request for reducing the road width to 40 metres had been rejected by the authorities.

The area MLA, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, visited the town and assured a delegation of shopkeepers that he would take up their demands with the authorities concerned.

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Rain just a trace
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Hot and sultry conditions continue as rain skipped the city and most other parts in the northwestern metereological zone. Except a few places in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana, no rain was recorded anywhere in the region. The city, which witnessed above normal rainfall in June, has been recording below normal rainfall for this part of July. Last night, it recorded a trace.

However, by June 26 Chandigarh had received 172.4 mm rainfall — 76.6 mm above normal. This figure was more than the rainfall recorded in June 2004, 2005 and 2006.

Good overnight showers were reported from Rohru, Palampur and Pandoh in Himachal and Hisar in Haryana, which respectively recorded 22.7 mm, 7.5 mm, 1.0 mm and 0.7 mm downpour throughout last night.

The absence of rains had led the mercury to hover above the normal mark at many places, including Chandigarh.The city recorded the maximum temperature at 35.4 degrees celsius.

As per the forecast, moderate to rather heavy rain or thundershowers are likely to occur at many places in Haryana and Himachal, while light to moderate rain or thundershowers will occur at a few places in Punjab in the next 24 hours.

The temperature hovered one degree above normal at Patiala at 38.3 degrees celsius, while Amritsar registered 36.6 degrees declsius. Ludhiana had a maximum of 36.4 degrees, a degree below normal. Ambala recorded 37.8 degrees, two degrees above normal.

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Slum kids’ day out
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
As many as 60 slum children of Bapu Dham Colony and Colony No. 5 were were taken on a sightseeing trip of the City Beautiful.

Child reporter of 'Jugnu' wall newspaper of Bapu Dham Colony, some of whom are students of Government High School of the colony and Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 45, Chandigarh, also accompanied them. The trip was organised by the department of tourism, CITCO, Infosys and Yuvsatta, an NGO working in slums of the city.

The excursion started in the morning from Hotel Shivalikview, Sector 17, on the 'hop-on-hop-off' bus and on the way to the Sukhna Lake, the children saw the story of dinosaurs and evolution of life on mother earth at the Sector 10 Government Museum. After a round of quick refreshments at the Sukhna Lake and the Rock Garden, they were taken to Infosys office in the IT park.

At Infosys, volunteers of 'Prayas', a group working for the socio-economic developmental programme, took them on a tour of the campus, played games with them like musical chairs and engaged the children in antakshari contests and dance competitions.

The trip culminated with a lunch hosted by Infosys. Vivek Atray, director, tourism and public relations, was the chief guest.

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Rakesh Vats’ death mourned
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, July 7
Literary personalities of the region mourned the sudden demise of acclaimed Hindi litterateur and academician Rakesh Vats at a largely attended meeting, organised by the Haryana Sahitya Akademi, here today.

Akademi director Radheshyam Sharma said Vats had enriched the Hindi literary world with his 22 classic publications. Haryana Sanskrit Akademi director Dr R.D. Sharma, Dr Virender Mehndiratta, M.P. Bhardwaj, Dr Jagmohan Chopra, Dr Subhash Rastogi and others extolled the works of Vats. 

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Senior citizens hold symposium

Chandigarh, July 7
The Senior Citizens Welfare Association organised a symposium at the Community Centre of Rajeev Vihar, AWHO Complex, Mani Majra, here today. The theme of the symposium was “To bring some meaning out of life, let’s do something for the society’.

President of the association Amrit Dhingra said the body had decided to launch psychological counselling cells where the services of experienced professionals would be made available to those suffering from depression, grief and estranged relations.

Prominent among those who spoke on the occasion were B.D. Kalia, Dr D.R. Vig and DPI(S) S.K. Setia. — TNS

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Sec 30 goes without power

Chandigarh, July 7
An unscheduled power cut caused a lot of harassment to residents of Sector 30 here late this evening. The power was resumed after over two hours at about 10.30 pm.

The residents complained that the complaint centre of Sector 20, which caters to Sectors 20, 30, 32 and 46, did not respond to their calls. Due to the snag at the Sector 17 BSNL exchange, the number was not operational.

Electricity officials were hard-pressed to answer queries of those who visited the complaint centre. For the past few days, the demand of power has gone up, resulting in fluctuating power supply. — TNS

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Tips for safe driving
Right of way past a parked vehicle

In this situation, when there is a parked vehicle B, car C has right of way. If going forward will cause car C to swerve or slow down, then car A must wait. In car C, make no hasty assumptions, as every car driver A is not a saint! It may be wise for car C to move to the left a little, to be on the safe side, and to make more room for car A. When an opportunity presents itself, it is good driving to help other drivers in this way.

Right of way when there is a parked vehicle.

‘Neither a hare nor tortoise be only drive straight and steady’

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Letters
Preserve City Beautiful image

I agree with Kuldeepak Sharma's views expressed by his letter ‘Monsoon threat’ that the Chandigarh administration and the municipal corporation are never serious about maintaining the roads, especially the inner ones. I have time and again sent e-mails to the mayor and the administration. Once I handed over one such complaint to mayor Harjinder Kaur during a religious function held adjacent to my house recently. I informed her that the inner roads in our sector are in bad condition. Because of uneven levelling and lack any gully between H No. 1215 and 1232, water stagnates on these roads even after the slightest showers. On one of my complaints, the previous mayor had deputed an AE from the public health department, who assured me that at least two gullies of the Letter Box pattern will be provided in a week or so. But nothing has been done so far despite various reminders. When PWD workers carry out repairs on roads , they never bother to ensure proper levelling. Similarly, parks in the sector have been unattended to for years together. It is requested that both the Chandigarh administration and the MC gird their loins to preserve the city’s image.

Kanwar S.S. Walia
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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2 vehicles, laptop stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
A laptop and two vehicles were stolen from the city during the past 48 hours.

A Sector 20-based shopkeeper, Samreen Sharma, reported to the police alleging that his laptop was stolen from his shop on Thursday. A case of theft has been registered.

Ranmeet Singh of Sector 15 lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Maruti car (CH-32-(T)-5031) was stolen his residence on Thursday night. In another incident, Amit Thakur of Shanti Nagar, Mani Majra, lodged a complaint with the police alleging that his Bajaj Discover motorcycle (HP-37-5587) was stolen from his residence during the intervening night of the July 5 and 6.

Two separate cases of thefts have been registered in various police stations.

Forgery

Aruna Sehgal of Sector 11 filed a complaint with the police alleging that S.C. Vohra of Sector 37 had taken her SCO No. 74, Sector 30, on rent agreement. He did not vacate the SCO even after its rent agreement had expired and had also stopped paying rent. A case of forgery had been registered against the accused in this regard.

Theft

Vijay Kumar of Sector 41 reported to the police alleging that gold ornaments and money were stolen form his residence on Thursday night. A case had been registered in the Sector 39 police station.

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Education loans remain a distant dream
Vijay Mohan and G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Over the past few weeks, Punjab resident Rupinder Sharma approached four different banks - Punjab and Sind Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Syndicate Bank and State Bank of Patiala - for education loan, but was turned down by all on some ground or the other.

Having obtained the 288th rank in an engineering entrance test, Rupinder, in a representation forwarded to the minister of state for finance, states that he may not be able to pursue this course due to lack of financial resources. He requires about Rs 6.5 lakh for the four-year course, but one of the banks said they could sanction a loan of only up to Rs 3.5 lakh.

Statements made by the union finance minister and tall claims by banks notwithstanding, it is no smooth sailing for students when it comes to getting education loans.

Though almost all public sector banks and several private banking institutions are offering education loans on “attractive terms” for higher studies in India and abroad, the scheme, it seems, does not meet the real aims of easy finance to deserving students as envisaged by the government.

Education loans are more or less beyond the reach of those who are actually in need of funds to meet the high expenses of quality education. At the same time, a large number of applicants, bankers say, are those who do not need money, but seek loans to facilitate visa issuance for going abroad.

As per Reserve Bank of India guidelines and respective policies devised by banks, no security or collateral is required for education loans up to Rs 4 lakh. For loans between Rs 4 and 7.5 lakh, a guarantor is required while for loans above this amount, banks seek security or collateral.

There is another instance where a senior employee of a private company could not get a loan of just Rs 2 lakh and had to dip into his provident fund to meet his son’s educational expenses. Another bank demanded a “provisional receipt” for fee to be paid for a student’s admission before sanctioning a loan. Educational institutions maintain that there is no such thing as a provisional receipt.

“A number of students, who are meritorious and promising and are really in need of finances get left out simply because their families are unable to provide any security or collateral,” Prof S.C. Gupta, director of a city-based coaching centre, said. Though no security is required for loans up to Rs 4 lakh, this amount is totally insufficient for higher education in India as well as abroad,” he added.

Some teachers and parents are of the view that the government policy in this regard is contradictory. “On one hand, the government floats schemes to equip students professionally, but on the other hand, the procedures and conditions are such that the schemes do not really meet the purposes they are designed for,” said Amrita, a local political science teacher.

Banks, understandably, have their own worries. “It is after all public money that we handle and we have to safeguard it,” R.P.S. Kapoor, chief manager with Punjab and Sind Bank, said. “Though we do not seek any security for loans up to Rs 4 lakh, banks cannot sanction loans recklessly,” he added.

Officials of all banks spoken to said almost half of the applicants were those seeking loans for pursuing study courses overseas, particularly, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. “Even though such applicants may be quite well-off and do not require financing, they apply for bank loans as it becomes easy for them to get a visa,” S.K. Sharma, senior manager with the Oriental Bank of Commerce, said. There have even been instances where the bank loans obtained by overseas applicants have been returned even before the course has begun.

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