C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Booming illegal flats stretch resources
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Even as the Administration claims to have a pro-active role in managing the affairs of the city, thousands of illegal flats have been constructed on open spaces and terraces of the existing blocks of flats. Besides endangering the structural safety of the existing buildings, these illegal flats have increased the demand for electricity, water and caused a shortage of already shrinking parking space.

The people, who built these illegal flats, are collecting rents and some have their extended families staying in the space as water and power connections have been procured. In the past, two surveys have been carried out by the Chandigarh Housing Board -- that originally built the blocks of flats -- but no action was ever taken thanks to political interference and pressure exerted by various quarters.

The entire belt of CHB flats in the southern, areas like sector, 47, 46, 45, 44 and 43, is plagued by this problem. The CHB is aware of the occurrence of illegal flats rather its field staff just “missed the construction” all these years. These flats have come up where common services like overhead water tanks are normally placed.

The original flats constructed by the CHB have three storeys - one on the ground and two on top of that. Unscrupulous residents have added one of their own. Builders of these illegal flats are those who were allotted the top floor of the CHB flats. As per CHB rules, the terrace and the staircase is “common area” and cannot be secured or blocked by any of the occupants. Normally, there are six flats in a block -- two on the ground floor and two each on the first and the second floor.

Reshma, a resident of Sector 45, said this had added to the water shortage and put pressure on the electricity supply while a growing number of four wheelers has choked the parking space.

Sources in the Chandigarh Administration said this was like making a mockery of the law and demands of allowing certain “need-based” changes in CHB flats. Illegal floors could not be allowed under any pretext forwarded by the owner. An official admitted that this was more of “ greed” based changes and not “need” based.

Some 900 notices were issued about three years ago but action was ever taken.



Carnival rolls in old, familiar ways
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Students of Government College of Art take part in a procession.
Students of Government College of Art take part in a procession.

Chandigarh, November 24
Chandigarh Carnival is back with its baggage. As always, most of the stalls seem to have been lifted from a storeroom and placed where they were last year.

This year, however, UT Administration has put up a layout plan at the entrance to tell visitors which stall is where. Inside the Leisure Valley stand old, familiar stalls. There’s the senior citizens corner, complete with a mike and a make-shift stage to facilitate elders who love to sing (and youngsters who want to), Friends of Children Corner to help children think smart, Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi corner where one naqaal has been performing for ages and so on ….

There also is the much-loved “Citco da vehra” and other food stalls - favourite haunts at the Leisure Valley, which looks “not bright enough for a place hosting a carnival”. For some reason, the show lacks the “carnival lustre” (read Goa) and doesn’t quite manage the visitation it should. This year though, the Leisure Valley grounds were carpeted to prevent dust - a problem that spoilt the show in the past. Also, Eiffel Tower replica was allowed to stay where it is.

Kashmiri artistes wait for the chief guest before the inauguration of the carnival.
Kashmiri artistes wait for the chief guest before the inauguration of the carnival.

In general, the carnival remained predictable as always, with the inaugural remaining a usual affair - with only bureaucrats (adviser Pradip Mehra opened the show) and participants around to cheer one another; residents were far and few though they started to pour in later. They headed straight for stuff the carnival normally offers — a puppet show, camel rides, theatre performance, Aim and Win corner, and “educative” stalls manned by people from Chandigarh Traffic Police, State Legal Services Authority, British Library, ITFT et al.

Highlights of the show included a Canadian pavilion, a section by Haryana Tourism (UT’s partner state for the carnival) and artworks by special students, whose creations were prominently displayed at Bal Kriti - a lovely corner put up by UT Education Department. It features works by schoolchildren.

Artistes from Haryana perform during the Chandigarh Carnival at Leisure Valley on Saturday.
Artistes from Haryana perform during the Chandigarh Carnival at Leisure Valley on Saturday.

Not too far away from here, theatre person Rajiv Mehta’s group was busy presenting theatre. He managed to hold the visitors with his “humble, comic productions” which, he says, attracted 60,000 visitors at a show in the USA! Only he could have guarded against some dialogues being delivered, like this one — “Kyun? Tu raja ke paas kyun nahi jaana chahta? Kyunki usko AIDS hai?” UT AIDS Control Society, which spends crores to de-stigmatise AIDS, would not like this, nor would volunteers working to mainstream people living with HIV.

Students of Blind Institute, Sector 26, take part in a clay modelling competition.
Students of Blind Institute, Sector 26, take part in a clay modelling competition. — Tribune photos by Pradeep Tewari

Rest is fine so long as the show goes on.


  • Floats by Art college students stole the show at the carnival parade. Students only wished there were more people to witness the creations.
  • Chandigarh College of Hospitality, Landran, prepared the cuisine at the Canadian pavilion. Students were proud to host UT adviser and food favourites included yellow pea soup and tomato consomme.
  • Whatever happened to the ban on employing children below 14? For answers, visit Leisure Valley.
  • Some veteran artists complained that the administration paid them only Rs 1,000 for participation, mocking at their experience. They want the administration to properly catalogue and exhibit hundreds of artworks they have created during carnivals in the past.



Bollywood stars spice up carnival
S.D. Sharma

Chandigarh, November 24
The day-long gala activities at Chandigarh Carnival attained a majestic climax with the scintillating musical performances by young Bollywood stars here at Leisure Valley.

The crowd was treated to a variety of dazzling dances, including the improvised ‘Tandav’ by Zenith Dance Ensemble, before the upcoming vivacious and versatile playback singer Akriti Kakar doled out her popular filmy numbers. Sans orchestration, her lively stage performance was indeed a spectacle to the eyes and soothing to the ears. “Since I made my entry to the Bollywood by winning the TVS Sa Re Ga Ma National Talent Hunt-1998 and made two world tours, I feel such contests are the best platforms for those without a Godfather and I wish good luck to Ishmeet Singh and Harshit Saxena, finalists in Voice of India,” she said with a serene smile on her face.

The lead singer and composer Neeraj Girdhar of Bombay Vikings also enthralled the audience with his film and self-composed numbers. His songs from films Bhagam Bhag, Bhool Bhulaiya and Jhoom Barabar had the audience dancing. When he finished a crisp old number ‘Mera laal dupatta malmal ka’, many young girls embraced him in ecstasy.



Workshop on road safety
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Chandigarh Traffic Police today organised a workshop on road safety at Chandigarh Carnival, which got under way at Leisure Valley, Sector 10, here today.

During the workshop, traffic cops displayed modern equipments, including speed radar, alco sensor IV, Lux meter, used by enforcement agency of the traffic wing.

The police also distributed road-safety material to people.

A senior police officer said the police used the carnival as an opportunity to interact with the public and people showed a lot of interest in their endeavour.



Purse, gold chain snatched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Two incidents of snatching have been reported in the city in the past 24 hours. Lalita Kaushik of Sector 46 told the police two unidentified youngsters, riding a black-coloured motorcycle, snatched her gold chain from near her home this afternoon.

She told the police that the miscreants looked to be in their mid-twenties. The pillion rider was wearing a white shirt. In another incident, Surinder Jaiswal of Sector 45 reported to the police alleging that an unidentified motorcyclist snatched her purse containing Rs 12000, a mobile phone, two passbooks, gold tops and other articles from near the dispensary in Sector 45 on Friday afternoon.



Slum kids’ troubled date with star
Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The working slum children associated with the Theatre Age had no starry dreams when they were bundled up in vehicles this morning and transported to Taj for a date with Priyanka Chopra. But they had tiny expectations considering the hosts were big.

It was Spice Telecom’s way of showing corporate social responsibility and they gave the children their promised date - something most of them had never dreamed of. As Sahil, a 10-year-old shoeshine boy from Sector 25 slums, put: “It was great to meet Priyanka. I have taken her autograph and will flaunt it among those who could not make it. I left all my work to be here.”

All 25 children at today’s event shared Sahil’s excitement and shared it enough to not mind the minor lapses which their mentor Zulfiqar Khan was watching. “I am happy for children who had the time of their lives but I would have been happier had the children been served refreshments. Hundreds of Spice dealers were savouring the best of cuisines but my children were only served a glass of water each. Also, I was hoping for some concrete announcement from Priyanka - something that can make a real difference to these children’s lives. May be Spice has plans for the future,” Khan told The Tribune.

Spice, for its part, arranged for the slum children a generous photo opportunity with Priyanka Chopra, the star. All along the autograph signing and photography session, Priyanka was picture perfect. She later asked children what they did and even had one of them - Shalu - sing a song from her film.

On top of all that, she lauded the young ones when she learnt that they worked, studied and did theatre. “It is a moment of joy for me and a pleasure to be spending even a little time with these brilliant children,” said the brand ambassador of Spice who was earlier flooded with flowers; Spice had handed a flower to every child, one of them gathered the courage to ask Priyanka when she will visit his school. “Next time if you call me,” replied the actor, who arrived one and a half hour after the children had been brought to Taj from their Sector 24 School.

But one she was around, the guests broke into mad frenzy. The anguish of a long wait and empty stomach was gone; it vanished behind the dazzle of a superstar and returned only after she was gone. But while she was there, every child was blissful - as one is upon waking from a happy dream. To that extent, Spice had done its job. But Zulkiqar Khan is quite hopeful that the telecom giant’s promise of corporate social responsibility will last beyond today’s starry date.



Expert expresses concern over N-deal faltering
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Stating that the proposed Indo-US nuclear deal was in the country’s larger interests, a top nuclear scientist today expressed serious concern over the possibility of the deal doing through within the requisite time frame.

“Considering the stand of the Left, I would put the chances of the deal to be finalised by March, 2008, to be a little below 50 per cent”, Dr M.R. Srinivasan, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission told The Tribune. “If the deal is not finalised by now, then the process could slip beyond the US presidential elections in 2008. By then there could be fresh considerations and pressures bearing upon the deal,” he added.

He said there were fears in certain quarters that the US could ask for too high a price in terms of foreign policy, but these could be unfounded. He said no country could dictate to another and India was far too big a nation for such matters. He was here to deliver a talk at a seminar on security being organised by Panjab University.

The deal, he said, was important for India as it would open up doors for cooperation in the nuclear field with other advanced countries. “It would give India access to nuclear technology and equipment besides nuclear fuel from a host of sources,” he said.

It is imperative to go in for nuclear power generation because of the economic and ecological fallouts of remaining dependant on fossil fuels, he said. Our own uranium fuel reserves are limited and our reactors are being operated at a lower capacity because of this, he added. India is also facing some difficulty in exploring reserves in the northeast.

He said the nuclear establishment in the country was very clear that long-term energy security requires a big push and in our own nuclear programme moving ahead. The use of thorium as fuel in nuclear reactors rather than uranium was imperative and for this access to imported fuel and technology was required. This, he added, would significantly reduce the time in attaining the desired level of nuclear power generation.

Dr Srinivasan was of the opinion that the provisions of the deal were as good as they could be under the present circumstances and that each side would have to give the other some concession or the other. The provisions of the deal, he added, had in-built layers of protection and the prevailing geo-political and security situation would have to be considered if India decided to conduct its own nuclear test.



‘N-terrorism a growing threat’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Stating that nuclear terrorism is a growing threat with potentially massive and disastrous consequences for all countries, Dr David F Ciampi from the US Homeland Security Defence Coalition said the global structures currently in place today are inadequate for preventing the acquisition of nuclear materials by terrorist organisations.

He said there was great concern among many experts that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and components are increasingly vulnerable to being diverted to terrorist groups, he said while speaking today at a seminar on “Changing dimensions of international security: Implications for India”, organised at Panjab University here.

Pointing out that Al-Qaida and Taliban have a solid foothold in tribal areas of Pakistan and that there was political and ethnic unrest among various factions, he said there was fear that some Pakistani scientists, government officials and military commanders may be helping Taliban and Al Qaeda.

He said constant threat that a radical government may emerge in Pakistan due to a popular uprising was of great concern to everyone and the adverse implications for India should not be underestimated.

Rouge regimes, Dr Ciampi said, must be prevented from acquiring the technical ability to manufacture military grade uranium and plutonium and new aggressive international security systems must be implemented to secure and protect nuclear establishments.

Speaking on India’s shifting security paradigm, Brig Kiran Krishan (retd) said in the new geo-political scenario post 9/11, with a weakened Pakistan and an economically resurgent India in strategic partnership with America, there was a need to realistically assess security challenges facing India.

He was of the view that military threats from Pakistan and China have diminished and rather than a fixation with borders, resurgent India needed to look outward and fashion its security needs and apparatus accordingly.

Lieut-General Kamal Dawar (retd) spoke on the “Dynamics of international terrorism and India’s concern”. He explained the need to wage global war on terrorism under the aegis of U.N Prof. R.N. Swaroop presented a mathematical model of security emphasising on non-military threats to international security.

Vice-Admiral Anup Singh talked about Indian maritime security and delved upon the importance of Indian Ocean, through which majority of international sea trade lanes pass, and India ‘s influence over it. Prof Hari Saran discussed the strategic imperative of India’s maritime security.

Former Punjab DGP P.C. Dogra talked about internal security and the myriad threat to India’s internal security. He asked the government to take concrete steps to emerging threat to internal security from Maoists.



Security beefed up in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Alerted by the serial blasts in Uttar Pradesh, the Chandigarh police intensified security at Model Jail Burail and in the city, besides launching special search operations at hotels and guest houses.

Though senior police officials denied any link of UP serial blasts with that of any Sikh Terrorists organisations, they confirmed that the security had been intensified in the city, including Model Jail Burail. The UT SSP (Operations) Dinesh Bhatt told TNS that security had been beefed up at vital installations, including Burail jail, in the city following the blasts.

Sources in the police said the Chandigarh police was scrutinising the records pertaining to various Sikh terrorist organisations. The police was also keeping an eye on persons and places named by Paramjit Singh Bheora and Jagtar Singh Hawara, involved in Punjab’s former Chief Minister Beant Singh’s assassination, during their interrogation.

In charge of the operation cell of the Chandigarh police, inspector Vijay Kumar said they were leaving nothing to chance as dreaded terrorists and hardcore criminals were lodged in Burail Jail and in the wake of the present incidents, personnel guarding the Burail jail had been alerted. Among others lodged in the jail were Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh, who had been awarded a death sentence in the Beant Singh assassination case and Lakhwinder Singh, Shamsher Singh and Gurmeet Singh, who had been sentenced to life imprisonment in this case.

During the intervening night of January 21 and 22, 2004, Hawara, Bheora along with their accomplice Jagtar Singh Tara and a Garwali cook Devi Singh tunnelled their way to freedom from Burail jail. Hawara and Bheora were arrested by the Delhi police last year while Tara and Devi Singh are still on the run.

The police had conducted special search operations in hotels, guest houses, market places, bus stands and at the railway station. Police personnel are keeping an eye on persons coming to the city and plainclothes policemen have been deployed at busy places.



CAT: Inquiry against MES joint director to continue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Dismissing the plea of the applicant, Anil Kumar Kohli, MES joint director, Chandimandir, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed the inquiry officer to continue with the departmental inquiry.

Kohli had challenged the holding of two inquiries against him. He was accused of possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The applicant, Kohli, had submitted an application dated November 20, 2003, stating that the charges in the criminal case as well as in the departmental inquiry were similar. He pointed out that two analogous inquiries were likely to cause double jeopardy to him. So, he pleaded before the tribunal for staying the departmental inquiry till the criminal case was disposed of.

A raid was carried out by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) at Kohli’s house in 2003. The CBI had framed charges of corruption and an inquiry was also marked against him by the department.

The CBI booked Kohli for offences under Sections 13(2) read with Section 13(1) (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 and under Sections 109, 193 and 201, IPC. A criminal case was registered against him, his wife and father-in-law.

The case is being tried in the court of special judge for CBI, Hyderabad. The CBI alleged that during January 1, 1997, to January 9, 2002, Kohli acquired assets worth Rs 71,38,324 in his and his wife’s Poonam’s name. A charge sheet was served on him on August 29, 2003. The tribunal observed: “In the present case, the applicant has not placed on record any document before the trial court which can said to be identical to the departmental proceedings.”

A division bench stated that the applicant had not been able to establish as to how his case would be prejudiced if departmental proceedings continue. The bench added that the plea raised by the applicant was redundant and there was no substance in it. The plea was dismissed. 



Booking LPG just an SMS away
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Coming to the rescue of the harassed LPG consumers, the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) has decided to introduce booking though the SMS in 11 of its 22 gas agencies in Chandigarh and Mohali.

The facility has been introduced apparently after repeated complaints by the consumers that the LPG agencies did not respond to the phone calls. In this unique initiative, each of the agencies has been allotted a dedicated mobile phone line.

Last year, the IOC had started the booking facility through the SMS on a pilot basis. However, in the wake of lack of awareness among the general public, the service has failed to pick up momentum.

Once that particular mobile number received the SMS, it would be mandatory on the part of the gas agency to confirm the booking of the gas cylinder, Jagdeep Rana, IOC's area sales manager, told The Tribune.

All the consumer will have to do is to type B followed by the consumer number after leaving a space. If successful, the service will be extended to other agencies in a phased manner.

This year there had been a sudden increase in the consumption of LPG. Besides the increase in the demand, there had been complaints about phone numbers of the LPG agencies being engaged for a long time.



Cops cashing in on violations

Traffic violations have become the norm of the day and cops are cashing in on these. Everyday, we come across cops challaning people for driving without licence or pollution certificate. All policemen are well-educated. Then why do some of them behave like illiterate people? Can penalties discipline the violators? In my opinion, if somebody is driving without a licence, cops should help him in getting it and if somebody is driving without pollution or insurance documents, cops should help him in getting the documents. This will improve the image of the police besides helping people.

Munish Jain, Panchkula

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