C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Lights out in region
A 20-hour blackout was reported from most areas following the squall last evening

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
Heavy rain and hailstorm that lashed the region last night left behind a trail of destruction, disrupting traffic and plunging areas of Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula, Zirakpur, Ambala, Rajpura, Banur and Kharar into darkness.

In many pockets, power failure was for 20 hours. Traffic on the Chandigarh-Ambala, Chandigarh-Patiala and Chandigarh-Ropar highway was disrupted as trees were uprooted. Damage to government and private property was reported from a number of places.

Attributing the breakdown to the trees, officials of the Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab electricity departments said the transmission and distribution network had been hit at several places. As a result, water supply was also affected in various towns of the region.

In Chandigarh, power supply in Sectors 29, 45, 48 and 7, Khuda Ali Sher and Mani Majra was hampered due to the falling of trees and branches on overhead transmission lines. Power was restored only at 4 am at some places. Some houses in Sectors 41 and 29 remained powerless because it was not possible to carry out repair work, Surinder Pal, SDO (operations), Chandigarh electricity circle, said.

Around 20 poles got damaged. At Kishangarh, a 220 KV line remained out of order for over 13 hours, he said.

Panchkula: Some parts of the town were plunged into darkness for 18-20 hours due to the squall. A majority of sectors, including Mansa Devi Complex, had a power breakdown that stretched to 20 hours.

The control room number of the engineering department, a single point contact for immediate redress of complaints, did not respond to complaints.

Mohali: Power supply was suspended in Mohali and Zirakpur on Friday and Saturday. The situation was worst in Phases 10 and 11 and Zirakpur, where the electricity was suspended until Saturday evening.

“There was no power cut, but the power was suspended as the tower that connects the Phabat substation had fallen due to the high velocity winds last night. As a result, power in Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Banur was suspended,” a PSEB official said.

Patiala: Maximum damage was caused in the periphery of the city where power could be restored only by this evening. Residents in the city faced a power cut of around 7 hours, which stretched to over 20 hours at some places.

Y.S. Ratra, chairman of the PSEB, said he did not want to make any comment on these cuts. He said there was no power cut throughout Punjab today.

Rajpura: A 17-hour power cut was witnessed here. The worst-hit areas were Sunder Enclave, Ekta Enclave, civil hospital road, Ganda Kheri and other low-lying areas. Traffic was disrupted on the Patiala-Chandigarh road for more than five hours as trees and electricity poles fell on roads.



Ban on construction, but dept wills otherwise
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 6
The Punjab chief secretary’s order to the local government department to stop illegal construction activity in Nada and Karoran areas that fall in the Naya Gaon notified area committee (NAC), has fallen on deaf ears.

Despite strict instructions to the department and the Mohali district administration to check further settlements, especially in areas bound by the Punjab Land Preservation Act, there is no stopping the land sharks.

Showing areas bound by the Act as residential zones in the Naya Gaon master plan released recently by the Punjab government, has further complicated the issue.

Contrary to the urban housing department’s Naya Gaon master plan that was withdrawn by the government, officials in the local government department have gone all out to accommodate certain influential people whose land has been earmarked as commercial.

A scrutiny of the master plan reveals that the alignment of roads has been made in a manner to accommodate certain persons. While the master plan prepared by the urban housing department had not touched areas under the Act, the local government has earmarked the areas as residential.

As a face-saving exercise, it has been mentioned that the planned development for the area would be subject to the decision of the Supreme Court or the Centre. But the fact is that haphazard construction is going on in the areas earmarked as residential. Due to lack of political and administrative will, no action was being taken, sources in the forest department said.

The sources said in a recent meeting chaired by the chief secretary, it was felt that the opinion of the Punjab advocate-general that the state was competent to repeal the Act, should be kept pending until the outcome of the judicial proceedings in the Supreme Court.

Though the area is regulated by the provisions of the Punjab Capital Periphery Control Act and the Punjab Land Preservation Act, parts of three villages were included to establish the Naya Gaon NAC in 2006, despite objections from the forest department.

The master plan has become a bone of contention between the local government and the housing department. The local government has been stating that it should be allowed to plan the areas within the limits of the civic bodies, but the case of Naya Gaon was different due to its proximity to Chandigarh.



Justice in 5 minutes flat
R. Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 6
Prof B.D. Gupta, a 74-year-old resident of Chandigarh who lost his son, a doctor, in a road accident in 1995, is a relieved man today.

Though he is still grieving for his son, who was 23 years old at the time of his death, he is pleased that the judiciary at least got him a compensation.

He got justice in five minutes flat this morning at a lok adalat held in the Supreme Court, ending his 13-year ordeal of fighting the case for compensation --- first at the Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal in Chandigarh and later at the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The lok adalat headed by the Chief Justice, K.G. Balakrishnan, heard Prof Gupta, who pleaded his case himself, and the insurance companies concerned for about two minutes each and instantly ordered a compensation of Rs 12 lakh.

Oriental Insurance Company Ltd and the United India Insurance Company issued the cheques to Prof Gupta.

Prof Gupta retired as a radiologist from the PGI and is associated with Dr Vikrant Gupta Memorial Foundation (named after his son) in Chandigarh. He treats poor patients free of cost. Holding the cheques, he told the Tribune that he was happy that he had finally got justice and did not have to travel to Delhi any longer at this age to fight the case.

Vikrant was killed in a road accident in Tamil Nadu. The tribunal had awarded a compensation of Rs 2.70 lakh in 1998 against a demand for Rs 20 lakh, prompting the victim’s family to go in appeal to the High Court which enhanced it to Rs 11.97 lakh in 2000. However, the insurance companies challenged it in the Supreme Court.



Mediation centre decides first case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
After three months of its inception, the much-hyped mediation centre decided its first case which was pending for the past 14 years.

Giving details of the case, mediator Ashwini Bansal said, “It was a commercial dispute between two businessmen. When I started counselling, both parties were very aggressive. Both had a bitter experience with each other. The complainant even said that he would ensure that the respondent was jailed. The first session was just an introductory one as I didn’t want the parties to get into an argument.”

The complainant, a resident of Sector 22, and the respondent of Sector 19 are into garment business and had indulged in several transactions before the case was filed. In one such business deal, the respondent was supposed to give a cheque for Rs 1.5 lakh to the complainant. The respondent gave a cheque from his friend’s chequebook to the complainant. Thus, a case of cheating was filed against him. The judicial magistrates had sentenced the respondent to two-year imprisonment in 2008. The respondent’s appealed was pending in the additional district and sessions court. Thereafter, the case was sent to the mediation centre.

“The disposal came as a major relief to both parties. After the introductory sessions, I took a few private sessions, wherein both parties narrated their story to me. The complainant said he would compromise only if the respondent agreed to give Rs 15 lakh to him while the respondent claimed that the complainant had already withdrawn the money by using the blank cheques that he had left with him,” said Bansal.



Moderate quake rocks city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.8 on the Richter scale, shook the city and its adjoining areas this morning. No loss of life or property was reported.

Panic gripped the residents, who came out of their houses and offices. “Though the earthquake was of low intensity, it caused scare among the people,” said Ankit Gupta, a resident of Sector 21.

Manoj Kumar of Sector 17 said, “I was planning to take a nap when I saw fans and curtains moving. I asked my family to run downstairs.”



It’s free trips, booze, movies ...
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
Who says there is no such thing as a free lunch? Well, the truth is, there are free movie tickets, parties and even day-long trips to nearby places. At least this is true for students of Panjab University with barely six days to go for the student polls on the campus.

The stringent Lyngdoh committee recommendations have streamlined the process of electioneering for students, but when it comes to wooing voters and garnering their support, student bodies are devising innovative ways to ensure that they have larger support groups than their counterparts. No wonder, one of the student bodies has already taken freshers for day-long trips to nearby places for sightseeing.

According to sources, engineering students and science students of first year have already been taken out by some student leaders “un-officially” for fun tours and get-togethers. Also on the cards are dance parties with booze flowing and unlimited foodstuff and movie tickets -- all free of cost.

And our new-age student leaders feel wooing voters with goodies and freebies really works well. “This has been going on for a long time and the fact is that it works. Freshers, who step out from colleges and schools, enjoy their new-found freedom and parties and movies are all they want. We will do anything to ensure our candidates win no matter what. At the same time, we are careful that we don’t flout the code of conduct,” Sarabjeet Singh Gypsy, president of the SOI, said.

Brinder Dhillon, SOPU president, said: “It really works wonders. This is what the students like. They are hardly a few students who vote on issues.” As far as the voting goes, they make their own choices. “We will decide on our own who is a suitable candidate, even if each union treats us to the hilt,” freshers say.



PU Student Elections Special
Election fever yet to grip students
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
Election fever is yet to grip students of Panjab University. Contrary to the previous years, wherein the student bodies sounded the beagle for canvassing immediately after the authorities announced the elections, it is not so this year.

A visit to the campus on Saturday revealed this as the university wore a deserted look with missing campaigners and barely any students. Though it was a holiday, but with elections round the corner and hardly six days left in polling, each day seems priceless. But this was not so.

Meanwhile, search for the Mr Right and Miss Right for various posts by all the students bodies continued today with none of the student parties finalising their candidates yet.

Though SOI (Student Organisation India) in the evening called a press conference but surprisingly, they only announced their presidential candidate. When asked about the other candidates, president Sarabjeet Singh, said we would announce that in a day or two.

Admitting dull electioneering, Sarabjeet Singh said, “The canvassing will only pick up after the candidates are announced. Hopefully by Monday, canvassing will be on in full swing.”

Meanwhile, Indian National Students Organisation (INSO) has also decided that it would declare its candidates tomorrow for the upcoming students council elections. Interestingly, with no classes, the student leaders preferred utilising the time delivering speeches in hostels and garnering their support.

While SOPU leaders campaigned in girls hostels till evening and in boys hostel at night, other were nor behind and went all out to impress the residents with their words. Also, both SOPU and PUSU have put up their tents outside boys hostels to canvass for their parties.

However, the claim of the authorities to remove all the printed material from the campus fell flat as posters were seen doting the boards and walls of hostel number 2 besides others. Yesterday, the authorities had said that any printed material on campus would be treated as a violation of the code of conduct and the students would be booked under defacement Act.

Meanwhile, in the late evening development, SOPU joined hands with NSUI for campus elections. Nitin Goel, president of the NSUI informed that the post of vice-president and joint secretary would be filled by their candidates while SOPU would finalise its candidates for the post of general secretary and president.



Background of former presidents
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, September 6
Although Panjab University has given big names to the Indian politics but for the past few years no student leader from the campus has emerged on the national front.

Especially, after 2001 no politician from the university has got success in politics.

The successful politicians like Pawan Bansal, Satya Pal Jain, Jagmohan Kang and Sushma Swaraj were much involved in the political activities of Panjab University.

Former president, Parminder Jaswal said, “After these elections, I am going to join political party at state level, but right now the focus is on the upcoming elections.”

Those who are struggling

Santokhwinder Singh Nabha (2001-02): No political career, advocate in Panjab and Haryana High Court

Malwinder Singh Kang (2002-04): Senate member of Panjab University

Rajwinder Singh 'Lucky' (2004-05): President district Youth Congress Nawan Shahar, advocate in Nawan Shahar court

Aman Deep Singh (2005-06): General secretary, Punjab Pardesh Youth Congress, property dealer and transport owner

Dalveer Singh 'Goldy' (2006-07): Congress worker, seeking a ticket from Dhuri constituency for MLA, an Agriculturist

Parminder Jaswal (2007-08): Youngest president of PUCSC, M.A. student

Those who got success

Ashwani Sekhri (1980-81): Convener of campaign, committee Punjab Pardesh Congress committee, and former minister of Punjab

Anmol Rattan Sidhu (1981-82): Assistant solicitor general of India, additional advocates general Punjab

Rajinder Deepa (1982-84): Akali leader, contested election of MLA Punjab, but lost

D. P. Randhawa (1998-2000): Former vice-president, Punjab Pardesh Youth Congress, and secretary Punjab Congress Legal Cell. Advocate in Punjab and Haryana High Court

Bhupinder 'Bhupi' (2000-01): Former vice-president Youth Congress Haryana, acting spokesperson, Haryana Pardesh Congress Committee and an Agriculturist


SAD protests against separate Sikh committee
Holds rally, submits memorandum to Hooda

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
The Chandigarh unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) held a protest rally at Plaza, Sector 17, here today, against the alleged interference of the Haryana government in the Sikh affairs.

Holding banners, the protesters shouted slogans against the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government. “The government should refrain from conspiring against the Sikhs. The nefarious designs to disband the supreme elected body of the Sikhs in the country by forming a separate Haryana Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee by the government would not be tolerated,” said president of SAD, Chandigarh, N.S. Minhas.

The protesters also urged the chief minister to play a balanced and responsible role. “He should dissuade the forces which are bent upon tearing apart the basic fabric of the SGPC. This is a clear-cut violation of the pact between Master Tara Singh, leader of the Sikh community, and former prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru,” he added.

Later, they submitted a memorandum to Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.



Bansal inaugurates green belt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
Union minister of state for finance and parliamentary affairs Pawan Kumar Bansal today inaugurated the 35th community centre in pocket no.7, Manimajra, and the 38th green belt in Sector 45-C and D.

Addressing the gathering, Bansal urged the area residents to take the responsibility of upkeep of the community centre.

Mayor Pardeep Chhabra said that the corporation was also revonating the small community centres by providing big halls in them. He said that multi-purpose amusement equipments for children would also be provided in all the parks and green belts this year.

He appreciated the step of MCC to create space for a library in the community centre, especially for the senior citizens.

The ground floor of the community centre was constructed at the cost of Rs 37.72 lakh. Likewise, the green belt in Sector 45-C and D has been developed on 2.17 acres of land at a cost of Rs 8 lakh.

Earlier, the minister and the mayor planted sapling at the green belt.



PM likely to visit Mohali
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, September 6
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Mohali to lay the foundation stones of two projects linked to biotechnology in Sector 81 after September 15.

However, sources said no date for the foundation stone laying ceremony had been fixed so far. The PM is likely to lay the foundation stones of National Agrifood Biotechnology Institute and a bioprocessing unit.

It is learnt that deputy commissioner Rahul Bhandari, along with additional deputy commissioner Jaspal Mittal, additional chief administrator of GMADA Balwinder Singh, DTP Gurpreet Singh, SP (city) Varinder Pal Singh, SP (security) S.S. Gill, SDM Raghbir Kaur Khaira, tehsildar Shiv Kumar and GMADA officials today visited Sector 81 and surrounding areas to find suitable sites for laying the foundation stones of the two projects. A suitable approach road to Sector 81 has also to be finalised, as it is difficult to have a direct link due to litigation problems going on in connection with some areas.

According to sources, three approach roads were suggested. While two of these routes were through Sector 80, the third route for reaching Sector 81 was after moving on the road dividing Sectors 66 and 67. Small parts of Sectors 76 to 80 were under litigation and it was reported that some area of Sector 81 was also under litigation.

Security aspect for the VVIP has also to be kept in mind while selecting the approach road. Authorities concerned would also have to prepare a site for the landing of a chopper in case the PM arrives in a chopper.

Dr Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone of the Indian Institute of Science here on September 27, 2006. However, the foundation stone was laid on the premises of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research as the proposed site for the Institute of Science in Sector 81 was under litigation.



Karan Katha: A slice of history from Mahabharata
S.D. Sharma

Panchkula, September 6
The Triveni Sahai Samiriti Sansthan Allahabad, presented a slice of history from the epic Mahabharata, in a play ‘Karan Katha’ on the fourth day of the ongoing National Theatre fest at Inderdhanush auditorium here today.

Since the epic had exercised a profound influence on the Indian milieu its mythological characters had been extolled as angels. The play based on Shiva Samant’s Marathi novel ‘Mrityunjya’ depicts the internal psyche of one such character, the great warrior and king Karna, a Pandav but holding allegiance to the Kaurava kingdom.

The director Satyabrata Raut, relied on two characters, king Karna (Shailesh Srivastav) and his alter ego represented by (Ajay Mukherjee). Structured in the royal splendour both the actors attempted to bring alive the element of internal conflict which runs in the mind of Karna, which is pitted against his dormant love for Pandavas and Lord Krishna and the external pressure of committed loyality for Kaurav Duryodhna. Through the light and sound effects and deployment of Sutradhars the play justified the conceptual thought. But some long drawn sequences weakened the pace.

Earlier, the chief guest Ramendra Jakhu IAS, lauded the renaissance of cultural activities in Haryana especially at the Inderdhaunsh catering to the tricity.

Majority of theatre aficionados commuting from Mohali and Chandigarh lamented the inordinate and avoidable delay in the start of plays on all days.



Premchand’s Godan staged to perfection
S.D. Sharma

Panchkula, September 6
The lively and realistic portrayal of Indian peasantry, tyrannised through the centuries and then a life full of tensions and conflicts even after six decades of Independence was presented at the Inderdhanush auditorium in the play ‘Godan’ here on Friday.

The Manch staged the pastoral drama to its highest perfection under the directorial elegance of thespian Vijay Kumar. Superb acting spells by all accomplished actors, brilliant execution of dialogue deliveries, perfect timings of body movements, the chiaroscuro effects and above all the folk music impact of the play. The chief guest, Phool Chand Mulland, paid rich tributes to the literary prominence of legendary Munshi Prem Chand, the creator of ‘Godan’.

Subjecting the original play to aberration and a concise format the director heralded Prem Chand's relent crusades against social evils. The play reveals the travails of the soul of poor farmer rigidity of cast system, orthodox way of living, untouchability, widow marriage and exploitation by moneylenders.

The folk flavour and crisp dialogues, exuding the pastoral life style of farmers of a sleepy village, who in dire adversity retain their cultural ethos. The protagonist, Hori and wife Dhania played by Om Parkash and Rayisa Rashid were the epitome of perfection. The play was suggestive of a better life, as illustrated with the portrayal of their son Gobar. The absorbing spectacle kept the audience in rapt attention and the presentation will be a remembrance of the ongoing National Theatre festival-2008 organised by NCZCC Allahabad and DPR Haryana.



‘Mera Pind’ cast in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
Reliance Communication (RCom) today brought to the city the star cast of Reliance Big Entertainment movie ‘Mera Pind-My Home’. The cast - Harbhajan Mann and Guggu Gill - and director Manmohan Singh were present on the occasion.

Speaking on the occasion, chief executive officer, RCom, Sanjeev Garg said: “Reliance Communications has been associated with various artistes and productions in the past and has been providing benefits of its extensive network for their promotion. RCom will promote caller tunes of ‘Mera Pind - My Home’ via all its channels, including retail touch points like the Reliance World.”

Director Manmohan Singh said that the film crew was elated to be associated with RCom for bringing ‘Mera Pind- My Home’ closer to audiences.



IMA hails move
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 6
The Punjab and Chandigarh unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has welcomed the Punjab government’s move of passing the Protection of Medicare Service Persons and Medicare Service Institutions (Prevention of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill in the state assembly.

Addressing a mediapersons here today, IMA chief Dr Zora Singh said the doctors would now be free to perform their duties without any fear. The Bill provides punishment to offenders indulging in violence against medicare service persons or damage of property in medical service institutions.

Dr K.K. Bansal, Dr B.D. Bajaj, Dr R.S. Parmar and IMA secretary, Punjab branch, Dr Navjot Singh Dahiya were also present.




Improve public transport

Many people believe that the city has best public transportation system, but the truth is that we are really lagging behind and it is high time that we accept this reality.

City badly needs an extensive system of public transportation to commute by rail and bus transit system that allows residents to avoid using their cars in an era of rising oil prices. Particularly, towns like Zirakpur, Panchkula and Mohali should be connected to the major hubs in the city.

It will be more cost effective for government to improve public transportation.

In Europe, it is nice to see fewer cars even in Paris one can effortlessly travel without using a taxi. In Paris, it is the combination of excellent transportation options and peoples’ willingness to do their bit for the environment that has made an effective public transport system.

Rajesh Krishan,

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