C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Sand Mafia
Contractors evade royalty worth crores
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 24
Royalty worth crores of rupees on ‘minor minerals’ particularly sand, is going down the drain in Punjab, thanks to well-established, politically influential and growing nexus between influential sand mafia and certain officials in Patiala and surrounding areas.

The Punjab Minor Minerals Concession Rules 1964 specified that sand used for earth filling of residential and commercial plots, roads and other places was a ‘minor mineral’.

The rules stipulated that people lifting and utilising sand, even from private agricultural lands, would have to pay royalty at the rate of Rs 5 per ton to the government. But ironically, these rules have virtually remained on paper as hardly anyone lifting sand from privately owned fields was complying with them due to a combination of laxity on the part of officials concerned and political influence yielded by sand contractors.

Trade sources revealed that sand contractors made farmers agree for lifting sand from their fields after paying them a meager and one-time amount of Rs 30,000 to Rs 45,000 per acre. After their agreement, they excavated hundreds of tons of sand from a field resulting in five to 10 feet deep pits. Although excavated sand was sold further and was used for ‘earth filling’ of plots and roads but the state exchequer suffered a huge loss as neither any royalty was paid to the government by such contractors nor any prior permission was sought from the geological department of the department of mines.

Sand excavation was going on at a large scale around Patiala and Rajpura townships but the authorities were seemingly sleeping over the loss of the state exchequer and no action was being taken against the defaulters or people indulging in theft of royalty. Sand was also being excavated on a large scale at Bhawanigarh and Vazidpur.

What was more interesting was that although the mining officials were authorised to recommend punitive action - imprisonment of upto two years and a fine of upto Rs 25,000 - against defaulters but no action has been taken against anyone so far.

Even as the director, department of industries, had formed district-level task force teams with DCs and SSPs as their members with an objective for stalling the large-scale sand royalty theft, still no corrective or preventive action has been in sight for a long time anywhere in the state.

When contacted, district mining officer Amarjit Singh said major problem faced by his department was that of shortage of staff. “We don’t have requisite staff for stopping of the theft of revenue”.

Official sources pointed out that that efforts of the department to plug revenue loss went haywire as political or bureaucratic interference stood a hindrance whenever officials tried to check tractor-trailers laden with sand.



Lord Rama’s Abode
Asma Jahangir assures to assess ‘threat’ to structure
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 24
The United Nations’ special rapporteur on religion or belief Asma Jahangir has assured the Culture and Heritage Conservation Initiative, a heritage body engaged in conservation of religious heritage structure at Ghu-Ram, the ‘abode of Rama’ at ‘Ghuram’ near Pehova, that she would take stock of the situation in respect of alleged threat to existence of the ‘holy structure’ at the place.

The Culture and Heritage Conservation Initiative has been seeking the intervention and help of the United Nations (UN) in its ongoing initiative to help save the ‘Ram-Setu’ and Ghu-Ram, which it described as priceless religious heritage monuments, not only of a particular religion but of the entire humanity.

Citing the Patiala state gazette, published in 1904, the organisation contended that ‘Ghu-Ram’ was in fact the “nanihal” (maternal home) of Lord Rama and it was believed that Lord Rama was born at the place - now known as Ghuram.

Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, convener of the initiative, alleged that the SAD-BJP combine was doing nothing to save the ‘holy structure’ at the place. “We are seeking intervention of the UN because the threat is real and serious,” he said.

“In a telephonic conversation, Asma Jahangir, who was currently on a visit to India, has agreed to give us a personal hearing on the issue, which involved the religious sentiments of millions of believers in Sri Ram and Ramayana,” said Dr Randhawa.

He said the heritage body undertook a comprehensive research to geographically identify places related to Lord Rama of Ayodhya as described in ‘Valmik Ramayan’ and ‘Puranic’ literature.

The research with the help of satellite imaging of Indian sub-continent perfectly matched the descriptive geographical details of various mountains, rivers and sites related with Ramayana including ‘Ghu-Ram’ and ‘Ram-Setu’, as recorded by ‘Brahm Rishis’ in ‘Puranic’ literature through divine vision and knowledge.

He maintained that this research work could even help resolve the religious conflict of ‘Ram Janam Bhoomi - Babri Masjid’.

Meanwhile, addressing a prayer meeting and demonstration of people from different faiths on ‘Ghu-Ram’ and ‘Ram-Setu’ issues, Kamal Pal, pastor of Central Methodist Church, Patiala, said all places of worship and heritage monuments belonged to the entire humanity irrespective of these being identified with a particular faiths, and their protection was the responsibility of all fellow human beings. He appealed to the UN, centre and Punjab governments to protect and conserve such monuments. Pastor Prabhu Charan also addressed the gathering.



Kharar MC passes Rs 17-cr budget
Tribune News Service

Kharar, March 24
The Kharar municipal council passed its Rs 17.11-crore budget unanimously for the fiscal year 2008-09. With this, the MC has earmarked Rs 15.25 crore for development purposes, Rs 2.19 crore for establishment and Rs 67 lakh for contingency.

The major development projects in the MC limits will include municipal stadium, two community centers and a solid waste management and treatment plant.

The proposed expenditure on development would include Rs 13.17 crore for non-committed development and Rs 2.08 crore for committed development.

Taking a decision over the traders’ opposition to house tax, the house was of the opinion that new assessment be shelved and tax be taken as per assessment of last year.

This year, the MC had levied tax even on self-occupied property, which drew ire from the trader community. The traders had even gone to the extent of holding bandh on March 21 and raising slogans.

Executive officer S.K. Gulati said the decision of house would be sent to the government. He added that he would recommend that the government imposed tax as per the Punjab Municipal Act.



Villager’s Death
Doctors, chemists observe bandh
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, March 24
Residents had to face a tough time and great inconvenience today as all private nursing homes, clinics, ayurvedic, unani, homeopathic doctor's clinics and chemist shops in Bassi Pathana and other towns of district Sirhind, Amloh, Mandi Gobindgarh and Khamano observed a complete bandh in a protest against the ransacking, unlawful seizure and threatening of the owners of Bawa Nursing Home by the relatives of deceased Nirmal Singh.

The doctors and chemists of the district held a protest meeting and submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner and SP (H) demanding immediate action against the culprits.

They termed the incident as an assault on medical profession. Though the DC assured full co-operation and security to the nursing home owners but the protesters did not pay any heed to the deputy commissioner's request to open their clinics and shops.

Dr O.P.S. Kande, chairman, action committee, alleged that certain people made calls to Dr N.S. Bawa on his cell demanding Rs 10 lakh for a compromise lest his surgeon son would be killed. The telephone numbers had been traced.

In a memorandum submitted to the deputy commissioner, the IMA has demanded immediate action against those who threatened the owners of Bawa Nursing Home and security for the latter.



Rs 1 lakh looted from liquor vend, one hurt
Our Correspondent

Ambala, March 24
Six persons, armed with swords and iron rods, looted a liquor vend located close to the Haryana-Punjab border on GT road in Ambala city in broad daylight today. They took away around Rs 1 lakh after injuring an employee of the vend.

Sonu, employed with the vend, sustained injuries on his head and was admitted to the local civil hospital. He informed that today around 2 pm, one of his colleagues was sleeping and he was having his lunch when four-five persons came there in a vehicle.

Without making any inquiry, two of them attacked him with swords and snatched the bag containing Rs 1 lakh from him. He said all the robbers were carrying sharp-edged weapons. However, the robbers could not be traced till reports last came in.



Baseball has bright future in India: Justine
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The number one sport in the USA, baseball, has a bright future in India, feels Justine Siegal, founder and president of Women’s Baseball League (USA). Justine who supervised a clinic for budding baseball players that was held at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 23, recently was all praise for local sportspersons for showing the results during the camp.

“I am very impressed the way they (the local players) show enthusiasm to learn the nuances of the game. Being a fast game, accurate and fast throws play a big role in it. As the youth here is stout and strong, he/she is fit to play baseball,” said Justine, who has served as an IBAF coach at the World Children's Baseball Fair in Japan last year.

However, the only need is to provide them with proper exposure and more chances to play, said Justine. On coaching part, she was of the view that there are coaches, who know the basics. “I am not saying that here the coaches have no basic knowledge. They lack in experience and exposure like the players,” said Justine, who is an assistant coach for her college's baseball team.

She completed her master's degree in sport studies at Kent State University (OH) where her research focused on socio-psychological aspects of women's baseball. She has also participated in the Cleveland Men's League.

On the promotion of the game in the country, Justine said, “Firstly the game should bring to the schools so that the children can understand the rules and regulations of it. Moreover, we are going to organise some top class tournaments, including women’s world cup in the city this year,” said Justine.

Her husband Patrick Mcclauley is also president of Central Ontario Baseball League at Canada while her 10-years-old daughter Jasmine is a budding baseball player.



Local rallyist gears up for Oz tour
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Local motor rallyist Sunny Sidhu, who brought accolades by clinching overall championship in the Desert Storm Rally recently held at Rajasthan, is all set to participate in the internationally acclaimed Gascoyne Off-road Challenge to be held in Australia in October this year.

“Gascolyne motor rally attracts top class rallyists across the world, thus is a big challenge for every rallyist. We are preparing our team to participate in the event”, said Sidhu, who seemed quite confident to make a mark at the international event.

“I am quite confident of my driving skills as well as perfect coordination with my navigator Kamaldeep. So, it would not be surprise if we win in Australia. We will take along four vehicles (gypsies) there”, said Sidhu, who has also clinched top honours in the Desert Storm Rallies in 2004, 2005.

Besides this, he is eight times winner in SJOBA Thunderbolt Motor Sport Championship. In 2003, Sidhu showed his dominance in the sport by securing topmost position in the one of the toughest motor rallies of the country-Raid-de-Himalaya.

Apart from Sidhu, another local team consisting of H.S. Bawa and Yogesh finished first in non-modified category and fourth in overall championship.

Though the experienced rallyist is determined to be a part of the international rally, the enormous expenditure is little worrisome. “According to a rough estimate, we have to dish out around Rs 1.5 crore to take part in the rally.

To bear such a huge amount, we are looking forward to sponsors”, said Sidhu while maintaining that money is always a big issue in the sport.

“For participating in any rally, the participant has to spend over Rs 10 lakh whereas the prize money is very less in comparison. The rallyists are driven by passion”, said Sidhu, seeking government support for the sport.

“At least the government should recognise it as a sport”, summed up Sidhu.



Tennis: Param Pun moves to second round
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Param Pun beat Paramvir S. Bajwa (6-2) in the first round of boys’ under-10 in the 4th L.D. Kapoor Memorial Tennis Championship that started at YMCA, Sector 11, here today.

The other budding players, who made into the second round were Parth Rastogi, third seed Nihit Rawal, Santbir Singh, Rishabh Sharda and Param Pun.

In the boys’ under-12 age category first round, Ankit Malhotra beat Chetnya Mittal in one-sided match at 6-0. Anubhav Gupta got the better of Rijit Kansal 6-5 (7-4) in the toughest match, which lasted for over one hour. Santbir Singh, Aditya Vermani, Paramvir Bajwa, Bir Gurman and Yogesh Dahiya moved to the next rounds.

Earlier, Amitabh Singh, MD, The Fort Ramgarh, declared the tournament, which saw a total of 150 participants in various age categories of boys and girls, open.


Boys (under-10) first round: Parth Rastogi beat Anubhav Gupta 6-0; Nihit Rawal beat Shrome Kapoor 6-0; Santbir Singh beat Ravsehaj Singh 6-0; Rishabh Sharda beat Simran Banipal; Param Pun beat Paramvir S. Bajwa 6-2.

(Under-12) first round: Ankit Malhotra beat Chetnya Mittal 6-0; Santbir Singh beat Nihit Rawal 6-0; Aditya Vermani beat Sanwal Preet Singh 6-3; Paramvir S. Bajwa beat Sanjog Singh 6-4; Bir Gurman beat Param Pun 6-4; Parth Rastogi beat Ketan Sood 6-3; Yogesh Dahiya beat Lakshay Sofat 6-2; Anubhav Gupta beat Rijit Kansal 6-5(7-4).



ERCA beat APJ academy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Maintaining their winning spree, the host Edmund Rice Cricket Academy (ERCA) beat APJ, Kharar, by 13 runs in a league match of the Under-12 Challenger Trophy Quadrangular Cricket Tournament being played at St John’s High School, Sector 26, here today.

Put in to bat first, ERCA muster meager 88 runs in the stipulated 20 overs. For APJ, Tushar picked up 3 for 17 while Amritveer and Taranpreet took two wickets each.

Chasing the target, APJ succumbed to the fine bowling of Pratul (3 for 10), Pranjay (3 for 15) and Chetan (2 for 21) and were all out for 75 runs in 18.2 overs.

Sahil showed some resistance with 18 runs.

In the second match between YPS, Mohali, and Sri Sri Cricket Academy, DC Model, the former got the better of later by 36 runs.

Riding high on unbeaten knock of 46 by Aaryan, YPS team put on a total of 126 runs in the allotted 20 overs.

In reply, Sri Sri team gave up on 90 runs in the allotted overs. Chirag was the highest scorer with an unbeaten knock of 27 runs, while Shivam chipped in with 17 runs.

Brief Score

ERCA: 88 for 7 in 20 overs (Akhil 30 n.o, Vaibhav 27, Tushar 3 for 17, Amritveer 2 for 12, Taranpreet 2 for 11).

APJ: 75 all out in 18.2 overs (Sahil 17, Pratul 3 for 10, Pranjay 3 for 15, Chetan 2 for 19).

YPS: 126 for 4 in 20 overs (Aaryan 45 n.o, Abhaas 19, Yuvraj 19, Rizul 1 for 14).

Sri Sri Cricket Academy: 90 for 9 in 20 overs (Chirag 27, Shizam 17, Abhimanyu 3 for 9).



Ashish emerges champion
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 24
Ashish Kapoor from Patiala emerged champion in the singles event in the 35+ Masters’ category while Rakesh Bhrany from Amritsar finished runners up in the Punjab State Masters’ and Veterans’ Tennis Championships at Phase VI here yesterday.

In doubles, Rakesh Bhrany and Jasbir Singh Sadana from Amritsar won the title trailing Ashish Kapoor and Jaswinder Singh to second position.

The other results:

45+ (singles): 1 Jasbir Singh Sadana (Amritsar), 2 Harish Saini.

(Doubles): 1 Jasbir Singh Sadana and S.J.S. Randhawa, 2 Rashpal Singh and M.S. Gill.

55+ (singles): 1 S.J.S. Randhawa, 2 A.K. Kaushal; doubles: 1 S.J.S. Randhawa and H.V. Birla, 2 A.K. Kaushal and R.S. Saggu.



Dainik Bhaskar lift inter-media trophy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Dainik Bhaskar lifted the Airtel-CPC Inter-Media trophy beating Indian Express by four wickets at Sector 16 Cricket Stadium here today.

Batting first, IE team set a target of 160, scoring 159 for 7 in allotted 25 overs.

DB team achieved the target in 23.4 overs.



Colorectal cancer
Sedentary lifestyle to blame
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
Sedentary lifestyle and high-fat, low-fibre diet are primary reasons for colorectal cancer, which kills over 6.55 lakh persons all over the world every year.

The month of March is being viewed as colorectal awareness month. Colorectal cancer is cancer of large bowel (colon) and back passage (rectum) and includes cancerous growths in the colon, rectum and appendix.

According to Dr J. S. Sekhon, medical oncologist, Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, diabetes, inflammatory intestinal conditions and alcohol are the major causes of the disease. Although colorectal cancer can strike at any time, the risk increases substantially with age.

Some symptoms

  • Blood or mucus in stools
  • Change in normal bowel habits (diarrheoa or constipation)
  • Pain in abdomen or rectum
  • Feeling of strain in rectum
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Constant tiredness

In addition, people who have a history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or chronic ulcerative colitis, are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Physical inactivity and nutritional factors such as a high-fat and low-fibre diet may also increase the chances of developing colorectal cancer. However, the type of treatment will depend largely on the stage of the cancer. The three primary treatment options are surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

For patients whose colorectal cancer has not spread to other parts of the body (i.e. liver or lungs), surgical removal of the cancer is a standard treatment approach, Sekhon informed.

These patients are also offered ‘adjuvant’ (additional) chemotherapy, the aim of which is to kill cancer cells that may have spread to other parts of the body but are too small to be detected. Radiotherapy is often used in addition to surgery and chemotherapy to reduce the chances of the cancer striking back.

“Despite improvements in chemotherapy treatments, the available options remain unsatisfactory to patients. They prefer oral therapies as opposed to the standard intravenous therapy to reduce the period of hospitalisation," Sekhon stated.

Doctors say the best way to prevent colon cancer is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Colorectal cancer can be avoided by regular healthy food, which is rich in fibre, along with fresh vegetables and fruits. Since some colorectal cancers cannot be prevented, detection of the disease at an early stage is the only way to reduce the causalities, the doctors added.



Seminar on management of spinal disorders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
In its endeavour to introduce cutting-edge technologies in the management of spinal disorders, the department of orthopaedics of Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, yesterday organised a cadaveric workshop on kyphoplasty.

According to Prof Raj Bahadur, director-principal of GMCH, in this technique a fractured spine is restored to its normal height using an innovative technique where an inflatable balloon is inserted through a very small incision. On inflation of this balloon, height of the fractured vertebrae is restored. This restored height is maintained permanently by injecting special bone cement. This technique is especially useful in providing immediate pain relief and restoration of function in patients who have sustained spine fracture due to osteoporosis or some malignancy.

Dr Anand Aggarwal, a leading spine surgeon from UK, demonstrated the kyphoplasty technique to over 30 orthopedic and neurosurgeons from North India. He was assisted by Beatrix Meier from Germany.

Earlier, Prof S.S. Gill, head of the orthopedics department of the PGI, inaugurated the workshop and exhorted the surgeons to apply this state-of-the-art technique for the benefit of Indian population. Prof Raj Bahadur hoped this technique would prove to be a boon for elderly patients who have sustained an osteoporotic spinal fracture.



Medical camp held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
A free medical camp was organised by Jai Ambika Medicose in Sector 32 market here today.

The Union minister of state for finance Pawan Kumar Bansal inaugurated the camp.

Speaking on the occasion, he promised to take up the issue of beautification of the sector 32 market with the authorities. Around 200 persons were examined during the camp.



Two injured in jeep-bus collision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 24
The driver and conductor of a school bus were injured when a Scorpio (CH-04-B-6940) crashed in to it at the Transport Chowk, here this morning. The accident occurred when the driver of the car tried to jump the red light while coming from Bapu Dham colony side. A case under section 279, 337 and 427 of the IPC has been registered at Sector 26 police station.


Arun Kumar Barnwal, a resident of Mani Majra, was injured when a two-wheeler (CH-03-Z-6988) hit him near Shivalik Park in Mani Majra on March 23. Arun was admitted in PHC, Mani Majra. A case under section 279/337 of IPC has been registered at Mani Majra police station.


A man was seriously injured when his scooter (CH-01-D-5187) was hit by Lancer car (HR-48-C-5221) on the dividing road of Sector 32 and 33 on March 23. He has been admitted to GMCH-32. A case under section 279/337 of IPC has been registered at Sector 34 police station.


A three-wheeler overturned near the CTU Workshop, Sector 25, on March 23. Sumitra, a resident of Sector 20, who was inside the three-wheeler was injured in the incident and has been admitted to Government Hospital, Sector 16. A case has been registered.

Drugs seized

Prem Chand Banth, crime branch inspector, on Monday arrested Yakir Mohammad from near the CTU workshop and recovered two kg ‘ganja’ from him. The accused has been taken into custody.


A case has been registered on the complaint of Rajpal Singh, a resident of Sector 29, against the driver of motorcycle (HR-23-B-8990) who sped away after hitting the traffic volunteer Jatinder Singh at the roundabout of Sector 36 and Sector 42 on March 23.



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