C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Brokers dupe first-time investors
Accounts of many go in debit
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Those who want to strike gold through trading in shares, beware of the unscrupulous practices adopted by brokers to increase their brokerage.

A large number of first-time investors are being cheated of their shares or money, with the brokers investing on their behalf and causing them losses.

A number of investors alleged that they were first convinced by the brokers to put in their money or shares in the company pool account.

Though it is mandatory that the broker or his relationship manager inform the investor and seek his permission before trading in shares on investors’ behalf, the brokers failed to do so. As a result, the accounts of the investors went in debit.

This practice of asking people to trade through the company pool account is being encouraged by brokers, as they get additional brokerage on trading on their own.

Sonali, a resident of Sector 35, who had opened a trading account with Unicon Securities, Sector 9, was shocked when her trading account went in a loss of Rs 10,000.

“I had opened a demat account and a trading account at the company. I was advised that if I kept shares in personal demat account, trading would be time- consuming. They asked me to transfer my shares worth Rs 1.50 lakh in company pool account, in addition to depositing Rs 15,000,” she said.

She alleged that without her written consent, the broker started day trading through her shares, and even indulged in speculation. As a result, her account became nil in just five months.

“Now, I have been visiting the broker, but he denies any malpractice. Though I was not given any contact notes after they traded in my account, it was only after I confronted them about the losses and threatened to take legal recourse that they sent me a bundle of contact notes,” she said.

Sonali has lodged a complaint with the police, the branch head of Unicon Securities, Kapil Bedi, said he was not authorised to redress complaints or speak about the matter. He gave reference of a senior official in Delhi, Anjali Mukhreja. Inspite of repeated calls, Mukhreja, did not take the call.

Sonali is not the only investor to be so duped. Ashwani Dubey, a resident of Sector 29, was duped of Rs 10,000 in a similar fashion by another brokerage firm in Sector 9. “After I raised the issue, the relationship manager was dismissed from service,” he said. 



Pathania Case
Angry kin hold protest; rubbish cop theory
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17?
The family of Angrez Singh Pathania today denied police theory that Pathania was homosexual and the murder was a result of this.

They alleged that the police had concocted the theory to conceal the fact that Pathania was killed for money.

Protesters assembled in Dhanas at 5 pm and shouted slogans against the police till 7 pm. They threatened to intensify the stir if the police failed to conduct a fair probe into the case.

His family members told mediapersons that a gold “kara” of Pathania and cash was missing and the police was trying to hush-up the matter.

Punam Sharma, a local leader, said they would give up until the matter was
properly investigated.

The protesters stated that Pathania was kind-hearted and had devoted his life to social causes. They also criticised the media for sensationalising the issue.



UT website can put you in a mesh
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Don’t be “misled” by information on the central public information officer or the appellate authority on the official website of the Chandigarh administration.

You can’t be too sure about designated officials to whom the RTI applications are addressed. Strange, but true. Retired employees or those who have long been repatriated to their parent state still figure in the list of the CPIOs.

While updating the names of the designated officials, the information technology (IT) department has not changed the name of some.

“The responsibility of getting the names updated lies with the department concerned. The IT department updates information only after receiving data from the departments,” said an official.

In the urban planning department, M.L. Arora is mentioned as senior town planner-cum-CPIO.

After retiring last year, he is now re-employed with the municipal corporation. Balvinder Saini, who had returned last year as chief architect, Punjab, is mentioned as the appellate authority in the department.

P.S. Shergill is mentioned as controller, weights and measures-cum-CPIO. Last year, his place was taken over by Vandana Dasodia.

Interestingly, he is mentioned as the appellate authority for the transport department. This means the same official can work as a CPIO and as the appellate authority.

For the UT engineering department, Yogesh Gupta, superintendent engineer, municipal corporation, is mentioned as CPIO.

He was sent to the municipal corporation four months back. The information of the estate office was updated only a few days back.



At last, chill thaws
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Mercury continued to rise for the seventh day in a row with the day temperature today touching a high of 25.6 degrees.

The night temperature in the city also registered an increase-from 4.6 degrees on February 10 to 10.6 degrees today.

The mercury showed a marked rise during the day with the sun shining bright in most parts of the region.

The Met department has, however, forecast snow in the high reaches and light to moderate rain in other parts of Himachal Pradesh. Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are likely to see a partly cloudy sky.

As regards the day temperature, the city recorded the highest day temperature today at 25.6 degrees and Ambala 23.6 degrees.

In Ambala the night temperature was 9.2 degrees as against 7 degrees recorded yesterday and Patiala 9.7 degrees.



Sanctuary gets new board; parrots no relief
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Even though the UT wildlife department today installed a fresh board recognising the wildlife protected status of the Chandigarh City Bird Sanctuary in Sector 21-B, the birds are still to get respite from the bright lights.

The authorities put the board displaying regulations for visitors to the sanctuary that the area was governed under the Wildlife Protection Act after The Tribune highlighted this issue.

A visit to the sanctuary in the evening revealed that bright lights on high poles had still not been switched off. As per Section 27 of the Act, visitors are allowed in the park from 6 am to 8 pm.

“At least, the authorities can switch off the lights on high poles in the evening if they cannot remove them,” says Harman Sidhu, a bird lover.

Inderjit Singh, a resident of Kharar, came all the way to the city to visit the sanctuary. He said it was the breeding season for parrots and they would hatch their eggs in a month or so.

As the life pattern of these birds have been disturbed due to bright lights, they would not be able to feed their chicks properly and would be forced to leave their habitat. This would result in a disaster as thousands of eggs would not be hatched.

He said he had been keeping parrots as pets for over 20 years and knew about their behaviour and nature.

Some visitors to the park were of the view that the lights workd as a deterrent to anti-social elements. The lights were installed following demands by visitors. Mayor Pardeep Chhabra said he would take up the issue with the authorities concerned.



RTI Fee Hike
Farmers join hands with rights activists
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The Chandigarh Sanjha Morcha, a farmers’ action group, yesterday joined with other rights activists in the city against the RTI fee hike.

In a press note, morcha spokesperson Jyotii Subramanian said the RTI Act ensured a more transparent bureaucracy and the administration by this act of fee hike was undermining its own recent decision of making its functioning transparent.

By taking it beyond the reach of the common man, the authorities were making a mockery of this right.

Retorting to the administration’s contention that the fee hike would check frivolous seekers, she said this was debatable as what was frivolous for the administration, may be a matter of concern to the public.

And the public had a right to know the most “frivolous” activity of the administration as it was being undertaken by using public resources and the administration was accountable to the public.

Farmers had been actively seeking information about land acquisition, allotments and auctions in the city under the RTI and the fee hike would deter the poorer among them from taking recourse to this for justice. The morcha would be joining other rights activists in their demand to reverse the decision.



RTI fee hike may be rolled back
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Under severe criticism from all quarters for the sudden and unwarranted hike in fee under the Right to Information Act, the UT administration may well be considering a rollback.

Sources said the issue was being debated in top circles and the procedures to be followed for such a hike being looked into.

Already, the finance department has been asking why its consent was not taken before increasing the fee structure intimated to the public by way of a press statement issued on February 14.

The department officially wrote to the planning officer asking him to clarify whether or not its consent was needed for an amendment of RTI rules involving the fee hike.

The timing of the hike, sources say, is being seen as “bad” considering recent reports on the absence of public information officer in the UT administrator’s office and the matter pertaining to UT officers’ foreign travel details.



Southern Sectors
UT plans major demolition drive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) is planning a major demolition drive in the highly-encroached southern sectors where people have constructed additional storeys, illegally occupied government land and changed structures of several houses to affect their load bearing capacity.

The drive will come close on the heels of the one in which the CHB cleared 30,000 square feet of encroached area in the Sector 39, a VIP area. This is the first time that the CHB has cleared such a massive area in one go.

“This area had never been earlier cleared of encroachments,” said a top CHB official, adding that in Sector 39-B, the CHB cleared 158 houses of encroachments. “This was a tough area being high income group and VIP residents,” sources said.

Earlier this month, 180 houses on the ground floor in Sector 51 were also cleared of encroachments, making this month’s demolition drive the most rigorous in recent times.

“We are now looking at southern sectors which are full of old settlements and massive encroachments,” said a CHB official.

Intensive drives are being made possible due to the availability of police force for the purpose.

Also, residents are better prepared to face demolition drive teams due to the CHB’s initiative to hold public meetings before going in for the removal of encroachments.



Hookah lounges violate norms, serve youngsters
Niti Dhani

Chandigarh, Feburary 17
Despite the placard ‘People below 18 not allowed’ put up outside all hookah lounges in the city, some of them are still violating norms and serving hookahs to youngsters.

Earlier in August 2007, Mocha in Sector 26 was raided for using alcohol in some of its coffee flavours and beverages.

However, despite this owners of these lounges are openly flouting norms. Sheesha (hookah) is used for smoking herbal fruits containing 0.05% nicotine.

Some of the known hookah lounges are Mr Beans, Mocha, Coppa Mocha and Smog. Within five years these bars have gained immense popularity and youngsters from the city have taken a fancy for the hookah.

Sadly, even school going children are in the grip of this trend and are being served hookah in violating of rules.

Sheesha is served in 30 fruit flavours such as plum, mango, lemon, blue berry, apple, mint, grape and many more.

The cost of small sheesha ranges from Rs150 to Rs 200 and large sheesha from Rs 250 to Rs 325, depending on the flavour.

During the ‘happy hours’ sheesha is sold for Rs100. Madhav, a class X student, said: “I first came to this place out of curiosity. Initially I did not like sheesha but after a few trials I got hooked onto it.”

“Everyone uses sheesha, it’s a trend and I must be a part of it,” added
another student.

Dr Suryakant medical officer in the food and supply department said: “I am not aware about it; if something like this is taking place we will take stern action.”

On the other hand, the owner of one of the lounges said: “We have no information about this.”



Anthology of poems released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Director of Haryana Punjabi Sahitya Akademi, CR Moudgil today released ‘Fakiri ramjaa’, an anthology of poems written by Ravi Bhangu.

Speaking on the occasion, Moudgil reiterated the Akademi's commitment to promote good Punjabi literature and upcoming writers in Haryana.

The Akademi under the guidance of Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is promoting Punjabi language all over the state.

Several prominent writers, including Sham Singh, were present at the function organised by the Writers Club.



Admn plans Kalka bypass to avoid demolitions
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 17
Much to the relief of hundreds of Kalka residents facing demolitions of their shops and houses, the district administration has decided to go ahead with the alternate bypass route.

The Kalka sub-divisional magistrate has already submitted the feasibility report to the deputy commissioner in this regard.

The Kalka SDM stated that a road from Khadi Ashram, Pinjore, touching Bitna, Tipra, Bhairaon Ki Sair villages, and Balaji temple could be used as an alternative route to reach National Highway near Parwanoo barrier.

However, it would require overcoming a few bottlenecks as some land on the way belonged to the public and a small patch belonged to the Himachal government.

Panchkula deputy commissioner Rajinder Kataria, who asked the SDM to conduct a survey of the route, said the administration was mooting the idea of going ahead with the plan, as it would help in saving hundreds of families from starvation.

Moreover, numerous families were facing the threat of being rendered homeless as they lived in houses built on their shops in the market.

The road, if constructed, would remain useful even after the bypass was built by the NHAI to decongest the roads in the area, he added.

In fact, the route was suggested by Kalka residents after the National Highway Authority of India issued notices to more than 250 people asking them to remove the alleged encroachments on the highway.

Protesting against the notices, the residents also staged dharnas and held rallies in December last before challenging the notices in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The NHAI was in the process of constructing the Pinjore-Kalka bypass along with widening of the Zirakpur-Parwanoo National Highway.

The Kalka residents also offered to hand over the public land to the district administration free of cost as the landowners were ready to donate it voluntarily and they were even ready to cooperate with the administration in overcoming the problem regarding Himachal land in the area, he said.



70-year-old hit by bike; killed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 17
Seventy-year-old Rampati was killed by two persons riding a motor cycle on NH-22 today.The police said both were under the influence of liquor.

The accused, Sunni ram and Bheem Singh, told the police they were returning from Morni Hills when they hit the old woman.

This is the third death in Panchkula in the last four days. A cyclist was killed when he was hit by a car at the Sector 16 roundabout on Thursday. On Friday, a car belonging to a VIP hit a scooter, killing one person.



Multi-storeyed parking for mini secretariat soon
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 17
Parking woes at mini secretariat and district courts complex is expected to be over in the near future as the district administration has decided to build a multi-storeyed parking on the land being used to park vehicles near the court complex.

A committee headed by Haryana chief secretary Promila Issar has already approved the proposal put up by the district administration in this regard during a meeting held on January 31.

The parking place at mini secretariat which houses dozens of offices, including that of the deputy commissioner, superintendent and district town planner and the adjoining building of district courts is not big enough to house the vehicles of more than 5,000 people from the city as well as other parts of the district who visit the complex every day.

Moreover, people working in offices in the building and lawyers also need suitable place for their vehicles. The shortage of parking space also led to the demolition of lawyers’ sheds last month following which the lawyers decided to go on strike.

The revenue department had given approval for the arrangement of land for the purpose while a letter had also been written to finance commissioner in this regard so that necessary funds could be arranged, said Panchkula deputy commissioner Rajinder Kataria.



Self-employment programme ends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
A six-day self-employment oriented entrepreneurship development programme based on fruit and vegetables processing concluded at the Government College for Girls, Sector 11, here today.

Certificates were awarded to the trainees by chief guest Vandana Disodia, director of industries, UT administration, on the eve of valedictory session.

She emphasised on the need for self-employment to eradicate unemployment. She assured all assistant technical, financial and managerial support to prospective entrepreneurs.



Western Air Command chief to visit city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
Air Marshal P.K. Barbora, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command (WAC), is scheduled to arrive at 12 Wing, Air Force Station, here on Wednesday on a two-day official visit.

During his visit the Air Marshal would address the personnel of the station and inspect various squadrons and flights based here.

Air Commodore S.R.K. Nair, Air Officer Commanding, 12 Wing, would make a presentation to the WAC chief on various operational and administrative matters concerning the station.

Air Marshal Barbora will be accompanied by Arundhati Barbora, president, Air Force Wives Welfare Association (regional).

During her stay, she would interact with AFWWA members besides visiting the Air Force School, Umeed, for special children and the family welfare center at the station.

Air Marshal Barbora was commissioned as a fighter pilot in June 1970 and took part in the 1971 war. He is a graduate of College of Combat, Moscow and was part of the team that formed the IAF’s first Jaguar Squadron.

He has commanded a MIG-21 Squadron and Air Combat Simulator Unit besides serving as AOC of a premier fighter base. He has held the appointment of air attaché at the Indian embassy in Moscow.



Fauji Beat
Our war heroes remain unsung
Pritam Bhullar

Recently a 20-member delegation of the British Army officers had flown to India to pay homage to 144 British soldiers who were killed in the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1846. This memorial was built by the British Army about 150 years ago.

It was only in February 1975 that the Punjab government constructed a memorial at Ferozeshah near Ferozepur to commemorate the sacrifices made by the brave Punjabis in the Anglo-Sikh wars at Mudki, Ferozeshah, Sabraon and Chellianwala between 1845 and 1849. These wars against the British proved beyond doubt that the Punjabi soldiers were among the best in the world.

The memorial raised over a platform near the banks of the Rajasthan and the Sirhind Feeder canals on the Ferozepur-Ludhiana road was built under the guidance of Dr M.S. Randhawa. Besides weapons used in the Anglo-Sikh wars, four paintings by a renowned painter Kirpal Singh, depicting the battles of Mudki, Ferozeshah, Sabraon and Chellianwala are also displayed in the hall.

But what is missing is the spirit as no homage is paid to the fallen war heroes at this memorial unlike the British. No wonder it is often said: “A nation that does not remember those who laid down their lives for it cannot always remain a nation worth dying for”.

Restore JCOs accountability

In the British Indian Army, the JCOs played a commendable role in administering and commanding sub-units in peacetime as well as in war. But in the post-Partition Army, their importance started declining and a stage came when the officers developed a feeling that the JCOs were not taking enough responsibility. The fault for this lies with the senior officers and not the JCOs as the former do not like that the responsibility be given to them and they make officers accountable for everything. No wonder then that among the casualties in the counterinsurgency operations in J&K and Northeast, there are junior officers and other ranks but hardly any JCOs. The same was the case in the Kargil war.

The JCOs due to their long service and experience can shoulder much more responsibility in units, provided it is given to them. But for this, the senior officers have to change their attitude in restoring the erstwhile accountability of the JCOs to them. Such an attitude will go a long way in improving the efficiency of units, especially now when there is a perceptible shortage of officers.

Dental treatment

Even after five years of launching of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS), not a single dental clinic has been empanelled in Chandigarh and Panchkula. When formalities for the empanelment of a few dental clinics were finalised in July last year, the effort failed because of the faulty working out of treatment rates.

The ECHS Central Organisation is sitting on this case since then, least realising that thousands of members needing dental treatment are facing great difficulty. A sizeable number of them have to get costly dental treatment from the private clinics.

In the absence of any dental clinics having been empanelled, the Command Dental Centre is accommodating most of the ECHS patients according to its Commandant Brig K. Ravi Shankar. But the answer lies in the early empanelment of ECHS dental clinics.



Hike in challan rate a good step

Since we are living in a civilized society, certain rules and regulations must be followed. Adhering to traffic guidelines in one such area.

The UT administration’s decision to hike challan rates for traffic violations will definitely discourage violators and will be helpful in regularising traffic. People will fear the heavy penalty that is scheduled to be imposed.

Although it’s a kind of forced discipline, yet it is necessary and need of the hour. In addition, police should take steps to improve road behaviour through a balance of education, encouragement and enforcement strategies.

Police patrolling should be extended, especially in sensitive areas in order to ensure proper checking round the clock.

Different sectors should also come forward and join hands in this direction such as schools, colleges, media and health agencies. Individual road-users should attain greater understanding, awareness and practice of safe behaviour.

Dr Shruti Kapoor, Panchkula



Roof collapse: Report sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
A day after a portion of the roof collapsed at Government Senior Secondary School at Maloya, the education department has asked the principal to report about other problems in the building, so that corrective measures taken as soon as possible.

New boards

To make the city schools more hi-tech, the education department has decided to install hundreds of interactive boards in 31 schools in the city.

According to S.K. Setia, DPI schools, the work has been assigned to RCC and will be completed before the beginning of next session scheduled to start from July 1.



RTI Fee Hike
No intimation on UT Admn’s official website
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 17
In its haste to hike RTI fees, the UT administration has forgotten to update its official website.

It carries no information whatsoever on the recently effected raise, which was intimated to people by way of a press statement issued by the administration on February 14.

But what about those who don’t read newspapers and depend on websites to check their facts?

They might well be better placed as the UT administration website allows people to procure information on old rates.

It still carries the name of former adviser Lalit Sharma and allows people to get information by filing RTI applications at the rate of Rs 10 (revised rate is Rs 50 per application).

This information is incontrovertible as it is contained in the proactive disclosures under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act.

Proactive disclosures have a legal binding and can be used by RTI applicants to actually seek information on old rates.

A press note on the other hand can be challenged in the court of law. And though the administration says it has followed the example of Punjab and Haryana in raising the RTI fee, it is yet to follow the RTI Act in the same earnest as Haryana.

On his recent visit to Chandigarh, central information commissioner had lauded Haryana for effective implementation of the Act despite the fact that the cost of filing an RTI application in Haryana is Rs 50.

The UT administration, on the other hand, is yet to provide updated information under the RTI Act on its official website.

In its proactive disclosure made through 21 pages, it retains stale information which is misleading for the public.

The fee for filing an RTI application is Rs 10; Lalit Sharma is the Adviser to UT administrator; and the information available is only up to July 31, 2007. For the record, Pradip Mehra is the serving UT Adviser.

Moreover, as found out by a recent survey of the offices of UT administration by a city-based NGO, complete information about public information officers is missing from the official website.

It does not have their updated names in most cases; residential addresses of both public information officers and appellate authorities are missing on many occasions.

The worst of all is the fact that the website mentions no public information officer for the office of UT adviser, whose listed salary as per official website is Rs 50,000 a month.

It will not be out of context to quote a judgement in the case of R.K. Garg versus CPIO Mansa Devi Mandir, Panchkula, delivered on January 30, wherein the State Information Commission had directed the concerned institute to follow rules laid down under Section 4 of the RTI Act (Proactive Disclosures) and make fresh information available on the official website - an issue of concern to the Central Information Commission as well.

No wonder its sub-committee on the review of Right to Information Act is pressing the state governments to strengthen official websites.

M.M. Ansari, the central information commissioner and committee member, who was in the city recently had told The Tribune that the updating of website information was a major recommendation of the committee, constituted on October 17 last.

The committee has among its members chief information commissioners of nine states including Punjab and Haryana.

Their job is to review the progress of RTI Act in the two years of its existence and lay down a blueprint for a better future of the legislation.

The committee has already fixed terms of references and will submit its recommendations to Government of India in six months.



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