C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Land-grab:
Charges framed against Cong MLA
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Ten years after allegations of land-grabbing were levelled against the Congress MLA from Kotkapura, Ripjit Singh Brar, a local court today framed charges against the legislator.

Judicial magistrate (first class) Atul Marya framed charges against the MLA under Section 11 of the Public Premises Act. The MLA is accused of illegally occupying SCO 346-347 in Sector 34 here.

A case was registered against Brar on January 7, 1997, in Chandigarh. He had reportedly purchased a showroom in an auction on April 23, 1990, and deposited the earnest money for the SCO, but defaulted on the instalments.

Later the auction was cancelled and the occupation of the commercial property was declared unauthorised by the estate officer. The premises were sealed on September 12, 1996.

Meanwhile, during a routine check, Avtar Singh, SI (enforcement), discovered that the seal of the SCO had been broken. He alleged that Brar broke the seal and forcibly occupied the SCO. Later, the MLA was booked under the Public Premises Act. The defence counsel claimed that after the case was registered, the challan was submitted by the police in the absence of his client.

He also said the summons were served on Brar at the wrong address. He was declared a proclaimed offender in March 2006. “As soon as Brar came to know about it, he furnished a bail bond of Rs 50,000 before the ilaqa magistrate on August 26,” his counsel added.

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Tribune Special
City greens wither; unplanned concrete blooms
Life in future tense
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
What goes up comes down, and Chandigarh shows just how. In July this year, the city was riding the crest of popularity with a CII survey stating that its GDP had doubled in five years, beginning 2001.

Less than four months later, the city seems to have fallen from grace, with another survey indicating that people would rather live in Shimla than Chandigarh. It seems Chandigarh has lost its vision and squandered most of its marks of quality that set it apart in the first place.

It is no longer the planned, futuristic city it was meant to be, having thrown away some of its best features, including planned development. For those who have seen the city’s decline, the survey comes as no surprise.

“It’s an eye-opener for the UT administration,” says Surinder Bagha of Saakar Foundation. “The city is just not effectively connected, either by air or rail. Public transport is almost nil. The downfall was imminent given the extent of haphazard growth and depleting entertainment avenues. Malls can't replace open-air theatres, which there are none. Also, we have allowed cramped tenements to come up within the city whereas the vision was to have planned habitation,” he says.

Official data adds more gloom to the picture -- one thirds of the city’s population lives in slums and the number is rising. Says O.P. Alagh, a retired army man: “We did not settle here to see slums, traffic and unplanned concrete. The city does not have half the greens it used to. Now, we spend most of our time in Shimla, where we have a house.”

A huge problem is the absence of a revised master plan to take care of the changing needs of society. Chandigarh is yet to conduct a traffic survey to solve its parking problems, which affect all . At 70, Harveen Sidhu, finds it impossible to negotiate the roads as traffic has grown at a mind- boggling pace, increasing accidents and damaging environment.

H.S. Johal, a horticulturist who supervised most of the plantation work in Chandigarh, explains: “We got the best architects to design the city, but paid no attention to landscaping. The Capitol Complex is lying wasted; Sukhna’s silting problem is a result of total neglect of landscaping.

“The lake had a catchment of 7000 acre which, if landscaped, could have prevented the silting in the Sukhna. Even today, Patiala ki Rao and Sukhna Choe together have a catchment of 3,000 acre which can be converted into a beautiful green. But none is interested.”

Another main deterrent is the rising cost of land, about Rs 5,000 per sq yard. Planner Jeet Kumar Gupta reasons: “Land cost has eliminated the middle class which is shifting to “lesser areas for living”. The North-South divide in terms of infrastructure is evident. Planning standards are being compromised.

“Recently, the administration allowed change of land use to industry. The most disturbing thing is the policy of rehabilitation of slum-dwellers.Time is not far when Chandigarh will become one big slum,” he warns.

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Dhillon, supporters heckle law dept chairman
Complaint filed with police
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, Nov 27
The issue of admission to Brinder Dhillon in the department of laws, Panjab University, is getting more muddy. Brinder allegedly barged into the office of the chairman of the department today, along with SOPU leader Harpreet Multani, and threatened him for not issuing him a roll number for the exams.

His supporters reportedly damaged the chairman’s car and broke the number plate.

Chairman Shashi Sharma had to call security personnel, who in turn called the police. Sharma has given a written complaint against Dhillon, saying that he forcibly entered his room and that his behaviour was threatening and intimidating.

It all started at 10.30 this morning. Dhillon forcibly entered the chairman’s office and started questioning him about his roll number to which the latter replied that the department had already written to the controller of examination and the VC’s office seeking guidance in the matter.

Not satisfied, Brinder allegedly used foul language against the chairman. When the chairman tried to leave, Brinder stood in front of his car and threatened to immolate himself. Meanwhile, a handful of Brinder’s supporters raised anti-chairman slogans outside the department.

When contacted, the chairman said: “It seems that these elements are being patronised and instigated by top functionaries of the university and they will have to take the blame for any untoward incident on the campus.”

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Tenant Row
Four boys booked for eve teasing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Four youths staying as paying guests today allegedly manhandled Sunita Sharma (27), a resident of Sector 8, after a brawl.

She alleged that the youths had been teasing her for the past six months. “They used to pass comments and whistle at me, but today they crossed their limits. While teasing me, one of them caught hold of my hand and that fuelled my anger,” she said.

The SHO of Sector 3, Ram Gopal, said a case of eve teasing had been registered.

Sunita and her husband said they had tried to resolve the matter a number of times, but to no avail.

Her husband Sunny Sharma, who is a consulting engineer, said, “As I returned from work, my wife was being teased by them. I could not bear any more so I decided to lodge a complaint against them.”

A case has been registered against Harish Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Gauri Shankar and Chaman.

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Expert sceptic about success of N-deal
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
With the Left parties climbing down in their position on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the chances in favour of the deal have increased.

However, this does not change the overall odds in favour of the deal, which continue to remain negligible.

Notwithstanding the consequences of the nuclear deal, India’s foreign policy towards the United States will continue to remain focussed on a better political and strategic partnership irrespective of government change in India or the US, feels political scientist Achin Vinaik.

Vinaik, a distinguished scholar, writer and professor of International Relations and Global Politics at the University of Delhi was in Chandigarh to talk about the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Talking to The Tribune about his perceptions on the issue and the way things were shaping in light of the different stands taken by the national political parties, the political scientist said in his personal point of view the Indo-US nuclear deal was not in the interest of India and he opposed it in every manner.

Explaining the Indo-US nuclear deal in a common man language, he divided the deal into three parts and took four positions on the subject.

According to him the three parts of the deal are - the political and strategic partnership between India and the US, the second part pertaining to nuclear weapons and lastly the civilian use of nuclear facilities.

“The Congress considers the deal to be very good from all three perspectives, which I strongly contest on all three counts,” he said.

Explaining the position of the Left, he said the CMP and its allies are the hardest critics of developing a political and strategic alliance with the US.

The Left has lightly opposed the part of the deal that discusses nuclear weapons but it doesn’t insist that this part be scrapped. With regard to the third part dealing with civilian use of nuclear power, the Left parties have not opposed it specifically.

He said there are other independent minds that don’t see anything wrong with the deal but feel India is paying too high a price.

The BJP, however, has not taken any position on the issue but was opposing the deal just for the sake of opposing it, being the party in the Opposition.

Vinaik said the Left parties that were initially hiding behind the scientists had to come out in the open once there was a vertical split among the latter in favour and against the deal.

Giving out details about the current position of the deal, Vinaik said, “the 123-agreement has been initialled and will now go to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for looking at the India specific safeguards. Then it has to be cleared by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) by consensus. Even if one member vetoes it, the deal cannot go forward. Finally the agreement will be put to the US Congress for a “yes” or “no” vote. Only after the Congress ratifies it, the agreement will be signed by both the countries.”

Looking at the fact that only the 123-agreement has been initialled yet, the agreement has a long way yet.

In the meantime, if the US Presidential elections start and Democrats come to power, they will not want the deal to go through, he said.

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Engg feasibility study okayed
Mass rapid transport system
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Over eight years after the Chandigarh administration conceived the idea of building a mass rapid transport system for the city and adjoining townships of Mohali and Panchkula, the authorities today decided to conduct an engineering feasibility study to find out the most suitable form of transport.

A decision to conduct a fresh survey was taken at a meeting of a special body set up by the union ministry of urban development.

The committee was set up after the administration expressed its urgency to the Centre to chalk out a roadmap for a mass rapid transport system.

RITES, a central government body, had conducted an initial survey and suggested a rail system for the city.

The today’s meeting suggested to work on five main corridors across the tricity and study a light rail transit (LRT) system, currently operational in 60 cities across the world.

The concept of having an underground metro rail system was rejected as it carried a price tag of Rs 350 crore per km to construct.

The LRT system will largely run at the ground level, as overhead rail can spoil the aesthetics of the city.

The Centre will bear the cost of conducting the new study, which will look into various funding options.

A steering committee comprising representatives of Punjab, Haryana and local administration will be involved in the process.

The history of developing a fast transport system to ferry people across the tricity is chequered.

The past seven years has seen numerous studies to work out the best possible mode of transport system.

In 2000-01, the administration went on to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) for carrying out a detailed project report (DPR) regarding the proposed tram project for Chandigarh and Panchkula. BHEL offered to handle the project on turnkey basis.

It was later rejected as the administration found it impractical to run trams on the roads that were already congested.

Also, Craphts Consultants Limited of Faridabad was asked to chalk out a comprehensive transport plan. They suggested a dual-model mass transport facility with urban buses and an elevated monorail system costing around Rs 7,000 crore. This was also rejected.

Around two years ago, officials started looking into the viability of the integrated monorail transport system for the tricity.

Metrail India, a company headed by former cabinet secretary Zafar Saifullah, in its proposal claimed that the system did not need any power as it ran on battery packs, which were constantly charged through noiseless generator placed on each coach.

This proposal also died down.

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Registration of Flats
Co-op societies join protest against HUDA
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 27
The recent notification by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) asking the members of the cooperative house building societies to get their apartments registered after paying stamp duty threatens to snowball into a major controversy.

Close on the heels of the Haryana Group Housing Federation opposing the decision, other cooperative societies are joining the protest alleging that HUDA was violating various rules and regulations governing the apartments.

Under the Cooperative Act, the ownership of the land and the superstructure vested with the society and individual members did not become owners of the dwelling unit as per the model bylaws of the respective societies, claimed Sanjay Suri, secretary of the Kendriya Vihar Apartments, Sector 14.

Even in the conveyance deed of land given to the cooperative group housing societies, it was nowhere mentioned that any further stamp duty was to be paid to HUDA. Therefore, asking for any stamp duty or registration of deed was illegal, he asserted.

B.K. Sanghi, president of the federation, said the possession of land continued to be with the societies. So when the sale of land does not take place in any further transfer of share to any new member, where does the payment of stamp duty come into picture, asked Sanghi.

Meanwhile, even as per HUDA policy being followed till date, the transfer of flats has been taking place by a procedure set out for it which involves registering the new members through an L-68 form to the registrar, Cooperative Societies. And once registered, the allottees pay specified amount to HUDA so that their name is registered against the said flat/apartment.

Residents alleged that while the present government had rolled back house tax of house owners, it has come down heavily on the lower middle and middle class to which most of the apartment owners belonged. This amounts to discrimination in the eyes of law as this sets different parameters for two individuals who have equal rights under the law, Suri added. 

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Mohali to be top IT destination: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 27
Acting president of the Shiromani Akali Dal Sukhbir Badal today stated that construction of the six-lane express highway from Mohali to Jalandhar would begin in the next six months. He also announced the establishment of a pragati maidan in Mohali to showcase Punjab as a trade and investment destination.

Sukhbir Badal was addressing a gathering during the launch of Reva patrolling cars for the Mohali police here today. He said Mohali would soon overtake Chandigarh and Panchkula in development. “Give us three years and you will see wonders. Mohali would be the top IT and business destination in North India,” he said.

Badal said the metro rail project would join Mohali, Chandigarh and Panchkula. “The single biggest contribution of our government to the state would be the Mohali international airport,” he said.

Badal later flagged off six Reva cars donated by the Emaar MGF Group and N.K. Sharma Group of Companies to the Mohali police. SSP, SAS Nagar, R.S. Khatra, said these cars were battery driven and did not cause any pollution. 

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Governor underscores community policing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Emphasising on the need to support the community policing system, the UT administrator, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today exhorted people to play a pro-active role in creating harmony in society.

He was speaking at the Sector 17 police station. He presented the ISO 9001: 2000 certification award to the police station for its performance.

“It is our duty to be vigilant in our localities and inform the police about any wrongdoing by anti-social elements to take urgent corrective measures,” he said.

General Rodrigues also asked police organisations to maintain microfilm records and create a data bank with online facility to bring transparency in the system.

He also stressed the need to improve the quality of counselling at women’s cells and police stations.

S.K. Jain, IGP, said modernisation of policing was the top priority as it would ensure transparency and accountability.

Sectors 3, 36 and 26 police stations were awarded the first, second and third rankings, respectively, by Altuf, an NGO. The NGO had conducted a survey during the visitors’ week held recently by the police.

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Bus commuters caught in ticket queues
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Commuters wishing to travel on the Chandigarh-Moga route by bus have been having a harrowing time for some time owing to long queues at the ticket sale counter at the ISBT, Sector 17.

After 4 pm, the Ludhiana counter witnesses long queues of commuters waiting for their turn to get tickets.

During a survey, Chandigarh Tribune found over 75 persons lined up in front of a counter from where tickets for Ludhiana, Moga and Ferozepore were being issued.

“I have been standing in the queue for over half an hour but it will take at least 15 minutes to get my ticket,” rued Prithpal Singh, a businessman from Ludhiana, who comes to the city twice a week.

Another commuter Santokh Singh from Ludhiana, who too comes to the city regularly, said: “The situation worsens after 6 pm when the queue swells to 200 persons. While the counters selling tickets to other stations remain near-empty, this counter teems with commuters.”

Contrary to the claims of roadways employees present there that buses left to these stations after every five minutes, commuters said the span between the timings of two buses was over half an hour.

According to Harish Kumar, another commuter, the Chandigarh depot, which monopolises evening timing on the route, takes over five buses out of the fleet to ply these on office routes, resulting in the shortfall of buses on outstation route.

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Special stamp released on 1/4 GR anniversary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
A wreath laying ceremony to pay homage to martyrs and release of a special first day cover and commemorative stamp were among the events organised to mark the sesquicentennial celebrations of the First Battalion of the Fourth Gorkha Rifles (1/4 GR) at Chandimandir today.

The GOC-in-chief Western Command, Lt Gen T.K. Sapru, who is also the Colonel of 4 GR, along with serving and retired officers and JCOs laid wreaths at the unit’s quarter guard.

A number of British officers were also present.

Addressing a sainik sammelan, General Sapru appreciated the achievements of the battalion and said the unit had distinguished itself in both world wars as well as the Indo-Pak wars, winning a number of battle honours and gallantry awards.

The Gorkhas, he added, had also proved their mettle by successfully conducting various operations against militants in Jammu and Kashmir and the North East.

The sammelan was also addressed by Brig Y.P. Sethi (retd), senior-most CO of the unit, Lt Gen Vijay Madan, senior-most retired officer and Maj Dicky Day, president of the British chapter of 4 GR Officers Association, who had flown in especially for the occasion.

The Colonel of the Regiment was given an impressive guard of honour. General Sapru, along with the chief postmaster general, Haryana circle, P.R. Kumar, released a commemorative stamp and first day cover stamp.

Kumar said eight lakh commemorative stamps would be circulated. A sesquicentennial trophy of the battalion was also unveiled. 

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Where traffic lights are part of road chaos
Satinder Pal Singh

Chandigarh, November 27
Even as the Chandigarh traffic police has installed trafficlights at the rotary near the Inter-State Bus Terminus, Sector 17, traffic jams continue to test the patience of commuters there. In fact, the installation of trafficlights has only aggravated the problem.

Frequent snarl-ups are commonplace at the junction, as motorists find it hard to manoeuvre through the bottlenecks on roads leading to the rotary.

At times, motorists are seen stranded in snarl-ups for up to 15 minutes.

Vehicles get caught up at the trafficlights as signals change at fixed intervals.

The situation at the exit of the ISBT gets even worse as buses coming out of the terminus line up one after the other to compound the problem.

The buses end up blocking the way of other vehicles in front of the bus stand.

The slow-moving traffic, including rickshaw and bicycles, also contributes to the gridlock.

The police used to regulate traffic at the junction during peak hours. However, the installation of trafficlights has only aggravated the problem.

“The traffic police has to sometime step in and regulate traffic in spite of the presence of trafficlights at the junction, which is a testimony to the fact that trafficlights have failed to serve the purpose,” says Joginder Singh, a commuter.

Auto-rickshaw drivers compound the problem by stopping their vehicles to drop and pick passengers at the rotary.

And all this happens right under the nose of the traffic police, which has apparently been turning a blind eye to the practice.

DSP (traffic) Jaswant Singh Khaira said the lights were functioning properly and had helped in regulating traffic.

“As the load of traffic is more at this rotary, traffic jams are commonplace here. The problem is being looked into.”

He added that challans were being issued to auto-rickshaw drivers flouting the rules. Those found picking up and dropping passengers at the rotary would also be booked, he added.

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Admn’s flowery dream withers
Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
The UT administration’s project to hang potted plants on electricity poles has ended up as an eyesore. All that is left of this project are rusted hangers.

Around 350 plants were hung on the poles along Madhya Marg, Jan Marg and Himalaya Marg. However, soon after the April heat, there was confusion over the watering of plants which led to the administration removing the plants.

No one, however, did anything about the hangers. Recently, the poles were painted but the hangers were given a miss, making them stand out. Officials say that the onus of maintaining the hangers and poles is with different agencies.

The watering work had been assigned to a private agency but due to no fixed system, the plants started withering and were removed.

Vivek Atray, director, tourism, stated that the potted plants would be put up again shortly. “We will put them again in December and remove them in April. Similar ideas in other cities have been taken note of and the horticulture department has been given the idea,” he said.

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Land Acquisition
Farmers seek PM’s intervention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
UT villagers have sought the intervention of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to amend the land acquisition policy of the Chandigarh administration.

They alleged that they were being displaced after being given peanuts in the name of land compensation.

President of the Pind Bachaoo Committee Angrez Singh Badheri said the land was further sold at exorbitant rates. The rehabilitation policy being drafted by the rural ministry should be made applicable to the land being acquired in the city.

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Letters
Check misleading programmes

Occult practices in the name of astrology have become a regular feature on many TV channels. Programmes depicting these mystical practices are being televised too often.

This is an attack on the sub-conscious minds of the gullible youth. It can ruin many a life. Such programmes not only create a negative impact but also encourage many anti-social elements. In my opinion, such misleading programmes should be checked.

Capt Malvinder Singh, 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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Bag containing Rs 15,000 stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
Harpal Kaur, a resident of Mani Majra, has filed a complaint with the police that her bag containing cash Rs 15,000 and a driver’s license were stolen from her shop today.

A case under Section 380, IPC, has been registered.

Vehicles stolen

The police has registered a complaint of Daleep Singh in which he has said his Boxer motorcycle (CH03D-6865) was stolen from the parking of the Sector 34 gurdwara on November 23.

A case under Section 380, IPC, has been registered at the Sector 34 police station.

In another case, Sanjay Kumar of Sector 40 complained that someone had stolen his car (CH-03L-0570) from outside his house last night. The police has registered a case under Section 379, IPC. 

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Scribe assaulted at wedding
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, November 27
Neil Bhalinder Singh, a correspondent with the Punjabi Tribune, was allegedly assaulted last night during a wedding he had gone to attend.

He informed the police that he was leaving the venue of the wedding when he was surrounded by at least six persons who started beating him and crashed empty bottles on his head.

He was seriously injured and rushed to the Dera Bassi hospital.

He was told by the other guests at the wedding that the person who attacked him included Gurmeet Singh, a government school teacher.

A case has been registered and the police is investigating the matter.

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Facets of communication discussed at CII
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 27
The Pune-based Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication organised a youth knowledge event at the CII here yesterday. The focus was on “Communication: The next big thing”.

The event, titled Footprints-2007, was part of a 12-city series and was addressed by tourism and public relations director Vivek Atray, My FM station head Richa, Wizcraft Delhi head Arpita Gandhi, former BBC broadcaster Col Hatter, former revenue commissioner of Haryana K.C. Sharma, regional editor of Dainik Bhaskar, Uttam Sengupta, theatre personality Neelam Man Singh, and Symbiosis International University dean, Prof Ujjwal K. Chowdhury.

Sharma urged media aspirants and students to work towards creating media as an agent of change in society.

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