C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

4-laning of Zirakpur-Parwanoo road
Contract awarded to JP Group
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

  • The project entails
    Pinjore-Parwanoo bypass
  •  A BOT project, it will cost Rs 295 crore
  •  The construction period will be 30 months
  •  Acquisition of land may pose problems

Chandigarh, September 1
Travelling to Shimla, the queen of hills, is soon going be a smooth affair, with the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) awarding the contract for the four-laning of the Zirakpur-Parwanoo stretch of National Highway 22.
The Rs 295-crore project, which entails the construction of the Pinjore-Kalka-Parwanoo bypass, has been awarded to Jaiprakash and Associates on a built-operate-and-transfer (BOT) basis. It will have a concession period of 20 years, including a construction period of 30 months, sources said.

NHAI project director K.P. Sharma told the Chandigarh Tribune today that the process of land acquisition was at "advanced stages". Once the cutting of trees and the shifting of water and electricity lines are accomplished, the project will hit the ground, he added.

Sources said the project involved four-laning of 28.690 km and six-lane structures, such as bridges, grade separators, flyovers and underpasses. Out of this, 11.250 km are on a new alignment for a combined bypass for highly congested towns of Pinjore and Kalka in Haryana and Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh.

The proposed bypass, which will reportedly take off from near Mallah, just before Yadvindra Gardens in Pinjore, will meet the NH-22 near Parwanoo.Earlier, the NHAI also mulled on the four-laning of the Zirakpur-Shimla highway. However, given the heavy volume of traffic on the Zirakpur-Parwanoo stretch, it was decided to take up this road first and the Parwanoo-Shimla road will be taken up later, the sources asserted.

Besides shortening the travel time on the road, the four-laning will also save fuel of thousands of commuters who travel on the road daily.

In the wake of stiff opposition from authorities of the Western Command at Chandimandir, the bypass had run into rough weather. The Western Command had contended that the alignment of NH 22 be shifted and the highway be constructed along the Ghaggar river, behind the Chandimandir cantonment.

However, besides cutting of trees, the acquisition of land for the prestigious project may pose problems for the NHAI as the width of the four-laned road is 45 metres in urban areas and 60 metres in rural. 

If the experience of the acquisition of land for the Zirakpur-Ambala stretch is any indication, a fresh round of confrontation between the NHAI and hundreds of residential and commercial owners in Zirakpur, Pinjore, Kalka and Parwanoo seems to be in the offing.



Braveheart foils snatching bid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
Displaying exemplary courage, a Maloya resident foiled an attempt by two unidentified motorcyclists to snatch his mobile phone near his village.

Sarhind Kumar of Maloya, an employee with a Mullanpur-based private engineering college, alighted from the institute’s bus near Dadu Majra Colony Bridge and started walking towards Maloya. On the way, he came across two motorcyclists and hitched a ride from them. The motorcyclists dropped him near a temple in the colony and asked for his mobile phone “to make an urgent call”. No sooner had he given his cell phone than they sped from the place.

On this, Sarhind raised an alarm and chased the miscreants. On seeing him running after the miscreants, some people joined him and helped him nab the miscreants. However, during the commotion, the miscreants managed to gave a slip to the crowd, leaving behind the registration certificate of their motorcycle (PB-27-B-3896) and the battery of the mobile phone.



Custodial Death
Nod to polygraph test 
Tribune News Service 

Chandigarh, September 1 
Judge R.K. Singla here today gave nod to hold polygraph test of sub-inspector (SI) Narinder Singh, allegedly responsible for the custodial death of 21-year-old youth Anil Kumar at the Mani Majra police station. 

The polygraph test will also be conducted of constable Hartinder Singh, who had arrested the victim and will be acting as a witness.

Meanwhile, the judge extended the police remand of the accused till the next hearing on September 3.

The defence lawyer was not present and a junior lawyer gave arguments on his behalf.

During his arguments, the defence lawyer said, “No further interrogation is required as documents are on record and the facts are clear form the complaint.”

In response, the public prosecutor (PP) said that documents on record were not required and interrogation of the accused is the need of the hour to know the facts.

Further, the PP pointed out that Narinder had lied to the family of the deceased, as he told them that he had met with an accident.

He also questioned as to why the blood stains were removed from the place where Anil Kumar had fallen.



Over half of Army’s field ranges non-operational
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
More than half of the Army’s field ranges are out of bounds for training activities.Of the 92 field firing ranges (FFRs) across the country, as many as 52 remain non-operational because they have not been re-notified by the respective state governments for use by the Army. This has had an adverse impact on operational training as armoured manoeuvres and artillery firing was restricted.

Non-availability of ranges has increased the pressure on available ranges. At present, 40 notified and 12 acquired FFRs are available to the Army for training. Acquired ranges are those where the Army owns the land, while notified ranges are those where the land is made available to the army by state governments for specific periods of time.

According to information released by the Ministry of Defence on August 29, the state governments are insisting on payment for the cost of compensatory afforestation (CA) and net present value (NPV) for re-notifying the FFRs, since the use of forestland as FFR has been classified as a non-forestry activity by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). Compensation is to be paid in accordance with the Forest (Conservation) Act and the Supreme Court order issued in this regard in October 2002.

Under the Manoeuvre Field Firing and Artillery Practise Act, state governments are empowered to notify ranges in their jurisdiction. It is only after the range is notified and the concerned area is cleared of civil population that firing practice can be undertaken.

The MoD had requested the MoEF in August 2005 to take up the matter with the concerned authorities in the various states for immediate re-notification of 19 FFRs without pre-payment of CA and NPV so that the Army could conduct its necessary training and field firing.

The MoEF had stated in October 2005 that for the purpose of compensating or restricting possible adverse impact on environment, CA was being insisted upon under existing guidelines and rules framed under the Forest (Conservation) Act. The provisions of the Act would be applicable only on the actual impact area of the FFRs and not the entire area.

MoEF had advised the Army authorities to place the case of FFRs for exemption from payment of NPV before the Expert Committee constituted by the Supreme Court. This, according to the MoD, has been done and the case is being pursued.

Notification of FFRs has been a regular point of discussion during civil military liaison conferences between the army brass and the state government officials. There have also been instances where the total land area for notified FFR has been drastically reduced.

Some time ago, a comprehensive three-year study undertaken by a special task force under the directives of the Parliament's Estimates Committee had recommended that to meet the Army's "bottom line requirement", six ranges in various parts of the country be "acquired on priority". It had also recommended a long-term notification of 14 FFRs in various commands for a minimum period of 25 years.



Relief from unwanted phone calls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
Harassed subscribers can now get rid of the unwanted telemarketing calls as the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has launched the "national do not call registry".

According to a press note issued here today, the landline and the WLL subscribers may contact the toll-free number 1500 and inform their request for getting registered in the registry.

The subscribers can also submit written request at the customer care centres of the Punjab circle of the BSNL for getting registered.

The customers also have the option of directly feeding their request in the customer care portal of the BSNL http://portal.bsnl.in/bsnlcca/login.aspx.

All mobile phone subscribers such as cellone and excel can register with the registry by sending following SMS to 53733: NDC space ACT.



Hitch-hiking rides around the world
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
It was on January 1, 2003, when Ludovic Hubler stuck out his thumb in Strasbourg, France, for the first time and since then this twenty-something has been hitch-hiking across the world, learning the lessons from the best school, “the school of life”.

With his means of transport ranging from sitting behind ice breakers in the Antarctica to riding on a camel, sitting atop a donkey in the Sahara and even sailing boats across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Ludovic has travelled across six continents and over 150,000 km without spending on travel. He is now trying the experience the Indian way for the past five months.

In Chandigarh to interact with the students of Government College, Sector 46, Hubler talked of this “most cherished dream” animatedly today.

“It all began at the age of 16 when my over-protective mother would not let me travel alone. I decided that not only would I travel all over the world, I would hitch-hike it,” he smiled.

So armed with a laptop, a handycam, clothes just enough for a week and, of course, a world map, Ludovic is still at it.

But he is not your average hitch-hiker. He is one smart cookie. “I usually look for a ride at gas stations. This way I can choose whom to go with,” he says.

Having criss-crossed through most continents, his travel tales have a local flavour that only comes from delving deep into its culture. “It was only after staying with a Muslim family in Mauritania that I learnt to burp. I was told it was disrespectful to the meal and the experience if one did not,” he laughs.

The tales abound. “While looking for a ride across the Atlantic Ocean to go to Brazil I went with a couple who agreed to take me only if I travelled with them for three weeks to some smaller islands first. However, the trip was a disaster because the couple started to fight and broke up and they decided to go right back to where we had begun,” he laughs.

However, living with locals has its advantages and inconveniences. He has had to devour everything from spiders to snakes to grass hoppers and even scorpions.

Big houses, small tents, broken rooms, garages and even porches on cold winter nights have taught him adaptability. “One should not generalise about people, there are many who are willing to take you in their homes and a vast majority of population are very warm and friendly,” says this people’s man.

He has met them all - drunk drivers, pistol-wielding drivers, cocaine snorting ones, et al especially in Colombia and Costa Rica.

As for his family, it’s the internet zindabad! “ I found cyber cafés even in tiny village in the middle of the Sahara. I keep in touch with my family and friends through emails and webcams,” he explains.

His journey has also become a window to the world for the cancer patients of a hospital in France who keep checking his website for the latest on him.

He plans to finish his journey on January 1, 2008, after travelling to Pakistan, Russia and the Middle East. At the end of the day what brings him immense satisfaction is that his journey has helped him to discover himself and know that the world is a better place to live in.

“I was a local thinker but my journey has made me a global thinker”. With a hope to have ‘one planet, one border, one people’, he moves on to his next destination, his muse, the Dalai Lama at Dharamsala.



Neerja Bhanot awards nominations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
The Neerja Bhanot Pan Am Trust has called nominations for the Neerja Bhanot Awards-2007.

The awards, constituted in 1990, are given annually in the memory of Neerja Bhanot, the brave 23-year-old Indian airhostess who gave up her life saving the lives of hundreds of other passengers on board a Pan Am flight hijacked at Karachi airport on September 5, 1986.

Nominations can be sent to Harish Bhanot, managing trustee of the trust at 3727, Sector 46, Chandigarh.

The last date for the receipt of nominations is September 30, 2007.



LIC plans to go ‘paperless’ 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
Taking a giant leap in providing single window service to its policy holders, the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) plans to go “paperless” with the commissioning of its state-of-the-art enterprise data management system (EDMS) for digitising its 280 million policy records.

The project, which would get underway in the Chandigarh division in December, will be completed in 2010 all over the country and make the largest financial institution of India as the only insurance company to offer all services under one roof, Mahendra Kumar, senior divisional manager of the Chandigarh division, said here today on the occasion of LIC’s 51st anniversary.

In fact, cashing in on the boom in the credit card and health insurance sectors, the LIC has decided to enter these two sectors to tap market potential later this year, he said, claiming that corporation’s health insurance would have certain unique features.

Hemant Buch and J.C. Goel, marketing manager and manager (sales), respectively, informed that the corporation had earned an amount of Rs 244 crore as the first premium income as on August 15, 2007, in the current financial year, the target for which was RS 765 crore.

At the national level, the LIC recorded a new business of Rs 15,137 crore as part of the first premium income by August 15 with a growth rate of 36 per cent over the corresponding period last year. During this period, the corporation sold 1.32 crore new policies.

As part of the expansion plans, the Chandigarh division plans to open three new offices at Zirakpur, Sirhind and Sunam, Mahendra Kumar said, adding that unit linked insurance policies (ULIPs) contributed a lion’s share to the total income of the corporation.

Answering a question about the entry of the private sector players in the insurance segment, he claimed that their entry had actually helped the LIC to perform better in all spheres of its services.



  It is a political conspiracy, says Ramnik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
Congress leader Ramnik Sharma, who was arrested after a CCTV camera was recovered from the bathroom of a paying guest accommodation given to two girls at his residence in Sector 38-C, here, alleged today that he was made a scapegoat of a political conspiracy.

Although Ramnik refused to name the persons behind the ‘conspiracy’, he asserted that as he belonged to a well-known political family, which has its clout in Batala, someone was trying to tarnish the family name, fearing that he might some day contest elections from the constituency.

Accompanied by his family, relatives and neighbours, Sharma, while addressing mediapersons, said the police did not make any efforts to inquire in detail the issue before initiating action against him. “The police raided my house and I was put on a media trial, tarnishing my image irreparably,” said Ramnik.

“If I am proved guilty, I should be publicly executed. Why am I being portrayed as a hardcore criminal and a sex-maniac by TV channels, which went on saying whatever they wanted to without hearing my side of the story? The media never gave a thought to what my family has been undergoing. My sons have not eaten anything for the past two days and are afraid of going to school now,” a visibly upset Ramnik said.

Bharti, Ramnik’s wife asked why the police did not question them before seizing the equipment. “Did they check to see if the camera was functional when they seized it?” she asks.

The family also alleged that the girl’s parents, along with a group of unidentified students, barged into their residence armed with revolvers.

“We have full faith in our son. He can not doing such things,” Ramnik’s father Surinder Sharma and his mother Sharda Sharma said.



  Hotel owner’s son booked 

Chandigarh, September 1
Chandigarh police has booked Rohit Bajaj, son of Sweety Bajaj, the owner of Solitaire hotel, Manimajra for kidnapping, rioting and causing injury. The FIR was registered at Sector 3 police station following a complaint of Sidharth and Noshant, two Sector 44 residents, who alleged that late last night, they were kidnapped by Rohit Bajaj and some others, thrashed and then dumped in Panchkula. SHO of Sector 3 police station, while confirming the case, said that the accused were absconding and no arrests had been made so far.

The incident, complainants alleged, took place late yesterday night on the dividing road of Sector 3 and 4 in Chandigarh. They stated in the complaint that while they were driving an Ascent, the accused and his colleagues were in a Santro. SHO Ram Gopal said that the problem started when there was a collision between the two cars on the dividing road of Sector 3 and 4.

The complainants alleged that after a minor problem the accused kidnapped them ant took them away towards Panchkula. They claimed they were beaten up and then dumped. The police recovered the Ascent from the site of alleged collision in Sector 3 and 4, while the other car was traced in Panchkula. — TNS



  144 motorists challaned

Chandigarh, September 1
The Chandigarh Traffic Police booked 144 motorists for violating traffic rules, here today.

A spokesman of the traffic police said they collected Rs 9,700 as fines. Seventy-nine motorists were fined for over-speeding, 11 for driving two-wheelers without wearing helmets; five school bus drivers were booked for not wearing proper uniform, besides 48 other miscellaneous challans. — TNS



  Race for UT chief engineer hots up
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 1
With just two months left for UT chief engineer V.K. Bhardwaj to retire, the race for the top post has begun.

The Chandigarh administration has already initiated the process of screening the cases of the UT cadre engineers. The home department has written to the secretary engineering to prepare the cases of eligible candidates before the same are sent to the UPSC for regular promotion.

A report from the UT vigilance department was also being sought, sources said.

Among the UT-cadre engineers, Kishanjit Singh and S.K. Jaitley, who were promoted as superintending engineers by the UPSC in February 2005, are serious contenders for the post.

In the given circumstances, sources in the administration do not rule out the possibility of the top brass asking for a panel from Punjab.

“If the administration can bring an engineer on deputation from Haryana, it can repeat the same in case of the UT chief engineer,” an official said. In the past, when Puranjit Singh retired as UT chief engineer in 2003, the eligible candidate had quoted a Supreme Court judgment, which stated that if an eligible superintending engineer was available in the UT cadre, then a deputationist cannot be a chief engineer on permanent basis.

A senior official said once the names were finalised, the administration would hold a departmental promotion committee (DPC) meeting, after which the cases would be forwarded to the UPSC for appointment on a regular basis.

In official circles, it is being waited to see who would be given charge in case the UPSC failed to make an appointment by November 30. Till then, the administration could give the charge of the top post to the senior-most and eligible candidate. The officials deny any move would be taken to give extension to the present chief engineer, who retires on November 30.



  Mansa Devi board holds review meeting  

Panchkula, September 1
Fifth review meeting of the Standing Committee of Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board to discuss about ongoing works and plans held at Mata Mansa Devi temple complex, here on Thursday.

The matter of review were as preparation of gold and silver coins, review of development works of Dharmshala-Luxmi Bhawan, Staff house-Shanti Kunj, ceremonial gate, additional tube well and boundary wall.

In the meeting, a major issue of authorising a person for filing civil suits, appeals, writs, written statements, power of attorney and any other matter connected to CEO was discussed.

The meeting was chaired by commissioner and secretary to Haryana Urban Development Local bodies, Maha Singh. DC cum chief administrator Panchkula, Neerja Shekhar, alongwith many other officials and technocrats was present in the meeting. — TNS



  Employees threatened for asking dues
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 1
Former employees of a company dealing in automobile sales here have complained to the police that the company’s management allegedly threatened them when they asked the company to pay their outstanding dues.

In a complaint made to the SSP they have alleged that when they approached the management regarding their dues, they were told that the company had the backing of a Punjab minister and a senior police officer and as such the former employees could not do much. The former employees had also approached the labour court in this regard.

However, Sanjeev Goel of Goel Motors, who denied the charges, said the employees had allegedly left their jobs about two months ago without any intimation. He further alleged that they had not even handed over things at the time of leaving the company in accordance with rules. He wondered why the employees were leveling allegations such a long time after leaving their jobs. He said the labour court had set September 10 as the date when the dues would be cleared.

Varinder Pal Singh, SP (City), said a complaint had been received and the person in charge of the police post of the industrial area had been asked to inquire into the matter. 



  Development projects face govt apathy
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 1
Expressing concern over the stalling of the development projects in the Morinda assembly constituency, former Punjab minister Jagmohan Singh Kang alleged that projects initiated during the previous Congress regime had come to stand still after the SAD-BJP combine took over power in Punjab. As such public exchequer already spent on the ongoing projects had gone down the drain.

Kang said prominent projects like Institute of Hotel Management, Boothgarh, bus stand and municipal park at Kurali, sewerage works at Kurali, Morinda and NAC, Naya Gaon, veterinary hospital at Morinda, repair and maintenance of link roads and bus stand at Khizrabad were facing the apathy of the government. In addition, 66 kV grid sub stations at Teur and Khizrabad villages, which were sanctioned by the previous government, had also not been constructed. Even the bridge at Siamipur Taprian village, which was completed before the general assembly elections and only approach road on both sides was left to be constructed, had not been completed, he added. 



Begging menace

There were times when beggars did not receive people’s ire but sympathy. But these days they receive anything but sympathy. Begging has turned into a fulltime employment for many. Beggars can be spotted at places like cinema halls, bus stops, traffic lights, parks and shopping centres. They can reach anywhere at anytime and are considered a trouble, especially by the lovebirds.

In our city, most of the beggars have migrated from other states. When they did not find any other work they resorted to begging, thus becoming liability on the city. Here beggars are choosers too. Give them a 50-paisa coin and they ask for a bigger denomination, not to mention the embarrassment one faces in front of others. The administration should check the begging menace that is thriving in the city before the profession turns into business like in metro cities.

Harbinder Singh Chandigarh

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4 women pickpockets from MP held 
Our Correspondent

Gurnam Singh shows his money which was snatched by some women at Phase 3B-2 in Mohali on Saturday
Gurnam Singh shows his money which was snatched by some women at Phase 3B-2 in Mohali on Saturday.—Tribune photo by Vicky Gharu

Mohali, September 1
Four women who allegedly stole Rs 50,000 from a man were nabbed and handed over to the police here today.

According to reports, Gurnam Singh of Durali village had withdrawn Rs 50,000 from an IDBI branch and later went to a shop in Phase III B 2 here to get some documents laminated. One of the women stealthily took out the wad of notes from his pocket and tried to flee.

Harinderjit Singh, SP (HQ), said the women were chased and caught and the money recovered . The police was informed, which soon reached the scene and arrested the women. The accused were accompanied by two children.

He said the four women - Kunti , Mala, Sanjo and Archana — were sisters, aged between 20 and 30. Two of them were married. The two children — Aman and Sonu were aged around six or seven. The SP said the arrested women belonged to Jatkheri village in Madhya Pradesh (MP). After their arrest, they disclosed that they had reached Chandigarh last night.

The SP said that all four women would be produced in a court tomorrow to seek police remand.

A case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC was registered in this regard.



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