C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Firing in tavern, one hurt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
An argument over drinking led to firing at Mani Majra tavern, seriously injuring 22-year-old Vijay from Indira Colony here late tonight. In a quick reaction, the police arrested the accused and seized a weapon.

Vijay, who is battling for his life at the PGI here, and his friend Vinod were drinking together at the tavern when they entered into an argument over some minor issue. Enraged over Vijay's remarks, Vinod went to his residence at the Indira Colony in Mani Majra and allegedly brought a double-barreled gun. Even as the duo clashed, Vinod fired at Vijay injuring him seriously.

The police said the incident, which took place at around 10 pm, spread panic in and around the drinking place with the people running helter-skelter. Even as police was informed, the accused fled towards Chandigarh. Ultimately, he was nabbed in Sector 25 and the weapon was seized from him.

Meanwhile, Vijay was being operated upon at the PGI. A case of attempt to murder and under the Arms Act has been registered.

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City to house more five-star hotels
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Coming of the information technology (IT) and emergence of the city as the favourite spot for conferences and conventions have made the city as the destination next for the hotel industry.

Buoyed by the never-before occupancy levels, at least two big players, Uppal’s and Park Plaza group, are going to invest over Rs 200 crore in the next one year to establish high-end hotels in the city.

More big brand names are looking for suitable space in or around the city to exploit the huge supply-demand imbalance, reveal sources in the hotel industry.

The administration is planning to auction a five-acre site for a five-star hotel in Sector 29, adjoining The Tribune. At present, the total availability in the city is around 3,000 rooms.

“ The demand for quality rooms has tremendously increased and there is always demand from the high-end users”, said Manish Uppal, managing director of the Uppal Group. The group is going to start construction on a three-acre plot in Sector 35 here.

Gurmeet Singh, who is looking after the repair work at site of Park Plaza hotel in Sector 17, said the group would be providing 130 quality rooms by the next year. “We expect that the occupancy rate to touch 80 per cent. The city is certainly growing as far demand for room is concerned”, he added.

Sources in the hotel industry reveal that it is not that the occupancy is 100 per cent around the year. The investment in the hotel industry can also be from the real estate angle as the land cost in the city was rising.

Investment apart, at this point of the year, the high-end and budget hotels are reporting 100 per cent occupancy. Auspicious marriage period, the Indian Cricket League (ICL) tournament, a series of medical conferences at the PGI, All-India Mayors’ Conference and ongoing PHL hockey tournament are some of the significant events happening around this time of the year.

“The availability of rooms in the high elite hotels like Mountview and Taj is always limited. But there is always availability of rooms in the budget hotels and it will be wrong to say that there is scarcity of rooms”, said Manmohan Singh Kohli, president of the Chandigarh Hoteliers Association.

A number of budget hotels are coming in sector 43. The problem arises when a number of events are simultaneously held.

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Illegal rehri markets sit on prime land
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Several acres of prime commercial land in the city continues to be occupied by unauthorised rehri markets even as pucca booths to house these markets are ready and lying vacant due to one reason or the other.

In certain cases, half the market has been shifted to the pucca booths while the other half continues to operate from the dirty shacks located on expensive real estate all across the city, particularly in Sectors 8, 46, 40, 41, 11, 18 and 7.

In all these sectors and many others, the pucca markets were constructed on the space where the rehri markets were located originally. And till the time booths were under construction, the rehri markets were relocated to vacant spaces on a temporary basis. However, even after completion, the pucca booths kept lying vacant for a couple of years. Now, the rehri markets continue to function from the places where they were temporarily relocated as well as from the pucca booths.

The administration cannot get its own land vacated that was given to rehri wallahs to run their trade on goodwill basis till the pucca markets were being constructed.

Reason: The process of allotting pucca booths to rehri wallahs is plagued by various controversies that are difficult to sort out and had been lingering on, said sources in the administration. The most common is the fact that original rehri wallahs sold off their licences at a premium to speculators who were sure of getting pucca booths by just buying out the eligible ones. The sale was done on the general power of attorney basis. The existing rules do not permit allotment of booths to these general power of attorney holders.

Also, when the administration, through a notification in 2002, decided to hike the monthly rent of pucca booths from Rs 2,500 to Rs 7,500, this was contested by rehri wallahs.

This was done as several shopkeepers in regular markets had repeatedly complained to the administration that rehri wallahs, who were allotted pucca booths in lieu of rehris, indulged in cost cutting in sales, sources said. 

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Glitch hits rly reservation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
It was an endless wait today for those in the queue at the railway reservation counters at the Chandigarh railway station and at the Sector 17 Inter-State Bus Terminus.

A snag in the computerised reservation system was responsible for the harassment. The problem, which developed at around 1 pm, could not be rectified by 6 pm.

Being the holiday season, there was a huge rush of passengers at the counters when the link was snapped. Chaos prevailed as the reservation counters as the officials could not explain the reason behind the failure and the time by which the reservation would restart.

Many had to return without tickets after hours of wait. The city provides communication link-up to the reservation counters at Dharampur, Shimla, Kalka and Solan.

Devinderjit, who wanted a reservation on Kanpur-bound train, said after waiting for two hours at the reservation counter at the bus stand, he had gone to the railway station only to find that the system was not working there either.

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Passenger satisfaction level low at city airport
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Chandigarh airport is among a number of airports in the country where the satisfaction level in terms of passenger facilities is low.

Chandigarh airport is undergoing a facelift and expansion. It is to be converted into an international airport, for which additional land would be acquired for setting up the necessary terminals and infrastructure.

Citing surveys by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), the comptroller and auditor-general, in its report released this year, has revealed in some services, the ratings were below 70 per cent. This did not measure up to standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Over a two-year period, the AAI had carried out a survey of 40 airports across the country through the Agricultural Finance Corporation.

General comfort, toilets, flight information system and trolley accessibility were focused upon during the surveys. Chandigarh featured low in all these areas. Some major airports like Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, Ahemdabad, Bhopal, Amritsar, Srinagar, Kochi and Pune also fared poorly in the survey.

Toilets and flight information system were the sore points among passengers in most airports, according to the CAG report.

The report also pointed out that newly upgraded terminal buildings and facilities at Pathankot and Gaggal (Himachal Pradesh) were lying idle for want of flights. There was also a delay in upgradation work at the Amritsar airport.

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4 buses impounded for violating rules
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The traffic police today impounded four state transport buses for violating traffic rules and regulations.

According to the police, the buses that were found not plying in accordance with their routes and not stopping at designated places were impounded and the drivers indulging in rash driving were booked. The drivers of the buses created traffic hurdles on roads by flouting the rules and put the others vehicles at risk. 

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SGGSC staff holds dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The members of teaching as well as non-teaching staff of Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, here, staged a dharna on the college premises, against the lenient attitude of the college authorities regarding the bungling of about 1 crore and the denial of restoration of 50 per cent of their dearness allowance.

Dr P.S. Gill, convener told that Joint Action Committee has called upon the management not to fall prey to the sinister game plan of selfish elements and to make a thorough probe into the fraud committed by unscrupulous elements.

Gill also told that when a fraud of Rs 42 lakh was established last year, the principal Dr Kuldeep Singh was transferred to Sikh National College, Qadian, Gurdaspur and Harwinder Singh, an accountant was placed under suspension. “The management had decided to place the principal under suspension too, but the principal challenged the court orders, and further action against him was stalled. We are demanding fresh probe against him and the guilty should be dealt with sternly,” he said.

The JAC demanded to reinstate Professor Gurpreet Kaur against 95 per cent grant-in-aid post, restoration of 50 per cent DA merger to a large section of permanent employees appointed in regular grades, deduction of 10 per cent provident fund on total salary, encashment of earned leave and gratuity in lump sum at the time of superannuation. 

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Shaurya Chakra awardee felicitated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
An officer from Chandigarh, Captain Amarjit Singh, has been decorated with Shaurya Chakra for gallantry during anti-terrorist operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

He is an alumnus of Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, Chandigarh.

A function was held on the college premises to felicitate him.

He was commissioned into the Indian Army in 2004.

During his college days, he was a member of the National Cadet Corps (NCC).

According to the college principal Gurdeep Singh, Amarjit is one of the youngest officers to be awarded the Shaurya Chakra. 

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Workshop on stress management
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
A stress management workshop organised for the UT police personnel concluded at the Police Training Recruiting Centre, Sector-26, here today.

The workshop was conducted by Col Gursewak Singh (Retd), a city-based consultant on stress management and a marriage counsellor. Three sessions were conducted.

The first session was held on December 8, the second was held on December 15 and the third was held on December 22. Over 300 police personnel of different ranks participated in the session.

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Freedom fighter Krishna dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The region has lost Krishna Azad recently, who participated in the freedom movement and was doing social service.

Krishna Azad, who died in Chandigarh, was married to Late Acharya Prithvi Singh Azad, who was a veteran freedom fighter, a former Cabinet minister in the Government of Punjab and also a member of the Constituent Assembly in India.

Born in Gujjarwal district in 1916 to Harnam Singh, who was decorated for his valour by the British Army in the First World War, she was the eldest child with two sisters and two brothers.

When she graduated in 1940 from Government College Ludhiana, there were only two girls in the class of thirty students. After graduation she completed her Bachelor of teachers training.

In Lahore, she along with her husband started a hostel for students from the weaker sections of society.

After Partition when Krishna Azad moved to Shimla, where her husband was a minister in the Punjab Cabinet, she involved herself in the rehabilitation of the refugees from west Punjab.

She was a member of the Punjab Social Welfare Board and the Punjab Red Cross. In 1951, she started the Arya Kanya Vidiyalya at Kharar and a teachers training institute, which was the first of its kind in the area. She was elected to the syndicate of the Panjab University. She was honoured with Samman Pattra in 1976.

After the death of her husband in 1985, the Congress party offered her a nomination to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, but she declined.

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Axing of Trees
2 truckloads of wood found on road
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The story of theft and recovery of 350 trees from the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP) is getting murkier.

A day after the police went sniffing for the thieves, two-and-a-half truck loads of the stolen wood was found lying abandoned on a road near the IT Park this morning. Fearing police action, the wood was dumped on road last night, believes the police.

However, the 13 residents of Indira Colony, who were arrested for axing 350 trees, today alleged that they were falsely implicated in the case. While being produced in the court, they said the trees had been axed by a contractor and they were told to pick up the leftover tree branches.

The police arrested Shiv Kumar of Indira Colony, another accused, today and recovered wood from his house. He, along with 12 persons, arrested on Friday were sent on judicial custody while the bail plea was noticed on Monday.

Anil Kumar, whose sister-in-law was also arrested, told TNS at courts, “The trees were axed by a contractor for creating space near the IT Park. We picked them to make use of the wood in winters. Thus, the wood was recovered from us.”

Relatives of the accused alleged that the residents of Indira Colony, Manimajra, had started cutting trees more than a month ago. The police had received several calls from people informing them about various house numbers where stolen wood was hidden. Net Ram, a relative of the accused, Lakhan Singh, alleged, “Lakhan Singh was out of station and his son had collected the woods but the police arrested Lakhan. We have tickets to prove that he was out of station.”

A police official said they were surprised in the morning on seeing huge piles of wood lying abandoned on roads. The police called officials from the horticulture department for identification of wood. After confirmation, the wood was shifted to the police station.

Sources in the police said it still seems unpractical to first axe so many trees, then conveniently take them away and again dump them back on road. The role of the horticulture department and officials of the RGCTP needs to be probed. The police had recovered wood of about 100 trees on Friday.

In February, 2005, 1,000 mango trees were stolen from the IT Park and then also the colony residents were accused. However, no recovery was made then. 

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Cable operator fined
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission directed a cable operator to pay Rs 5,000 to complainant Surjit Singh as compensation for deficiency in service. The petitioner stated that he obtained a connection from the cable operator in Sector 40 on payment of Rs 100 in May 2007.

Thereafter, another sum of Rs 100 was paid but no receipts were issued by the operator. Following that, he filed a case in the consumer courts. 

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MC to organise marathon on Dec 25
Triune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
Giving a boost to sports and games in the city, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is organising a marathon on December 25. The run for environment is organised to commemorate Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Various age groups comprising 15, 18 and above 18 years will run a distance of three, five and 12 kilometres, respectively. Men aged 60 and above and women above 55 will also run in a separate group. The runners will start running from Sports Complex, Sector 7, and finish at the Lake Club at Sukhna.

As many as 250 participants (Boys & Girls) in each category shall be registered on first-cum-first registered basis on the December 23 and 24 from 10 AM to 5 PM in the Sector-7 Sports Complex. The enthusiasts are required to produce proof of their age and residence for registration. First 20 positions in each category shall be awarded cash prize in addition to refreshment to all participants, said mayor Harjinder Kaur.

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Peacocks get safe abode in Punjabi varsity
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 22
Peacocks may have been pushed to near extinction in northern India, including Punjab, but much to the delight of pheasant lovers, the campus of Punjabi University, here, is abuzz with population of the glistening blue-breasted national bird.

The Punjab wildlife department has not undertaken any survey on peacock population but it is reportedly on a decline owing to a number of factors such as unmindful use of pesticides and insecticides by farmers and due to indiscriminate killing of the pheasant by unscrupulous poachers and fowlers.

Killing of male peacocks during their mating season has pushed the bird almost to the brink of extinction in Punjab, Haryana, parts of Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat - once known as the breeding grounds of peacocks and peahens. The effect of poaching and killing of peacock, mostly unreported, has been so evident that the bird is not easily visible in the villages of Punjab and Haryana.

But what can be good news for wildlife lovers and environmentalists is that the majestic bird can be witnessed in abundance in the sprawling campus of Punjabi University, Patiala.

The university can be the first in North India to have such a huge population of India’s national bird. In absence of any disturbance or poaching, peacock population has flourished to such an extent that more than 100 birds can be seen hopping around on the campus.

Though morning is the best time to be in the pleasant company of peacocks and peahens, a chance encounter can be had with more than one of them at any given time of the day on the university campus. A few buildings like Waaris Bhawan and a park earmarked for kids have seemingly become alternative ‘homes’ for peacocks who keep moving around freely in the absence of any hindrance.

Interestingly, peacocks have become so habitual of human movement that they don’t dread people and keep moving around morning walkers and others unmindfully picking their food and grains from well-kempt grassy lawns of the varisty.

“Peacocks have been flourishing on the university campus due to the fact that they are not disturbed by anybody. For their safety, the birds should not have become so fearless but they have turned out to be so. Anyway, they are in ‘safe hands’ in the university,” said Sandip Singh, a university employee.

Surminder Singh, a lecturer, said those who were interested in wildlife of Punjab should visit the varisty campus.

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Letters 
Thermal plant: A distant dream

A few days back a meeting of seven villages, whose land is being acquired for setting up of a thermal plant near Rajpura was held. Land price was quoted at Rs 150 lakh per acre. This price escalation will simply make the project a distant dream and thus must meet its logical end. I think this problem can be solved if the government acquires double the area of land than required. After utilising half of the land for the project, remaining can be distributed among the sellers, preferably through a draw. Since the land surrounding the project will have the highest development, distributed land value will naturally go up to a large extent. This way the land owners will have no difficulty in selling their land.

Kulbir Singh, Rajpura

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15 kg opium seized
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 22
The Patiala police claimed to have made its biggest cache of narcotics this year when they recovered 15 kg of opium from Yadvinder Singh alais Yadu and Washir, residents of Patiala and Rajgarh (UP) respectively, late yesterday evening.

Police inspector Daljit Singh revealed that the accused were travelling in a black Accent car when the cops, acting on a tip-off, stopped them on Devigarh road. On seeing the cops, Gurbachan Singh, father of Yadvinder Singh, managed to flee while Yadvinder and Washir were arrested on the spot and 15 kg opium was recovered from their car.

Gurbachan Singh Gyani is a smuggler against whom, several cases are registered.

A case was registered under the NDPS Act.

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Property dealer found dead
Our Correspondent

Ambala, December 22
The body of Jagdish Saini (50), a property dealer, was recovered from his car near milk plant at Ambala City today morning. The deceased was a resident of Dhulkot village near Ambala City and also dealt in the sale and purchase of vehicles. The relatives of the deceased suspect it to be a case  of murder.

According to information, Jagdish had gone to Jwalaji in his car on Friday morning but did not return till midnight. Today, early in the morning, his relatives were informed on telephone by some unknown person that Jagdish had died of heart attack and his body was being send to Ambala City. After two hours, they again got a telephone call and the caller informed them that Jagdish’s body was lying near milk plant in his car.

The family recovered the body from near milk plant and informed the police. The relatives of the deceased alleged that it seemed to be a cas of poisoning. A case was registered and the body was sent to the civil hospital for postmortem.

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4 held with drugs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The police arrested four persons from different parts of the city and recovered various drugs from them.

Surinder Singh of Manakpur village in Mohali was arrested with 20 grams of smack from Maloya on Friday. In another incident, Deepak Kumar alias Sonu of Badheri was nabbed from Maloya with 17 grams of smack while Mandip Singh of Daun Majra village was held with three grams of smack from the Sectors 55 and 56 rotary on Friday.

Meanwhile, the special crime investigation cell of the Chandigarh police has arrested Dhuruv of Shahpur Colony, Sector 38, with 1 kg ganja from the rotary in the locality on Friday. Four separate cases have been registered.

Vehicles stolen

Shakul Verma of Sector 37 reported that his car was stolen from his residence on December 19. Meanwhile, Rajiv Kakkar of Baltana lodged a complaint that his car (CH-01-V-9768) was stolen from the Sector 46 market on December 16 while A.G. Jain of Sector 47 reported that his scooter (CH-01-7082) was stolen from Sector 22 last night.

Meanwhile, Mathew Alexander of Sector 47-C has reported to the police that his Scorpio car (CH04 - 8467) was stolen from his residence on the night of December 19. Four cases of thefts have been registered.

Cheating

Rama Shanker of Kapoor Service and Petrol Station, Sector 21, lodged a complaint that occupant of a car (PB-08-BA-2153) sped away without paying after getting fuel worth Rs 1,800 filled from his petrol station at around 6.30 am. A case of cheating and theft has been registered.

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‘Invest in MFs for long-term’

Chandigarh, December 22
The Tribune, in association with CNBC TV 18, organised an investor forum regarding investment in mutual funds here today. 

Ronita Mitra, marketing head, ICICI Prudential Mutual Funds, said, “To earn the most from the investment, one should start early and invest in the long-term funds so as to reap the maximum benefit.” 

Jaideep Lunial from Wealth Gyan said a person who invested in mutual funds was expected to gain the same as by investing in real estate. — TNS

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