C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Unauthorised ads hit GMADA revenue
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 5
A large number of unauthorised advertisement boards have sprung up in the town cutting into the revenue of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) and the municipal council.

Taking advantage of the plan of the GMADA and the civic body to beautify the town by handing over the maintenance work of green belts to private parties, who would be allowed to put up their advertisements, some private agencies have put up advertisement boards without taking any permission from the authorities concerned.

The unauthorised display came to the notice of GMADA officials, who then discussed the problem with the president of the council, Rajinder Singh Rana. The GMADA then suggested to the civic body that all private agencies be asked to write on each board the name of the agency, which had authorised it to display such boards in order to expose the companies which had gone in for unauthorised display of advertisement boards.

Rana said though he was not aware which agencies had put up the unauthorised boards, it was very much possible that some persons would have taken advantage of the plan. He said the council would provide a list of the pockets handed over for maintenance work to private agencies to GMADA and receive a similar list from the authority in order to find out about the unauthorised boards. Such boards would be immediately removed and fines imposed on the agencies for using the government land without permission.

Various companies responsible for the upkeep of the green belts have gone in for an advertisement campaign with a vengeance through signboards and hoardings much to the annoyance of the residents. It appears as if a competition has begun among private parties to beat each other in the number of advertisement boards fixed in the green belts.

Rana said the green belts outside market areas were with GMADA and the authority had allowed the advertisers to put up so many boards, while the civic body had given permission for putting up boards in triangles, some green belts and certain slip roads.



College students beat up traffic cop, held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The police arrested two occupants of a car for assaulting a traffic police constable, who booked them for reckless driving. The accused, identified as students of a Ropar-based private college, were in an inebriated condition when caught.

According to police sources, the incident took place at around 1 am today when constable Surinder Singh signalled to stop an overspeeding Maruti Alto car (HR-54-1510) at a picket set up in Sector 8, here. The driver sped away the car. The constable pushed a moving barricade to stop the speeding car, but the car hit the barricade and sped away. In the process, Surinder Singh saved himself by jumping out of the car’s way.

ASP (Central) Madur Verma was also present on the spot. The police chased the miscreants in the ASP’s vehicle and intercepted them. The miscreants roughed up constable Surinder Singh in the presence of the police.

Verma said the miscreants had been identified as Mandeep Singh of Ambala and Maninder singh of Gurdaspur. Two teenagers were also accompanying them, but they were let off as no offence was established against them. Both Maninder and Mandeep were students of a private college in Ropar. One of the accused is a law student and had his exam today.

A case of reckless driving and obstructing a government servant from discharging his duty has been registered against the accused. They were, however, released on bail.

The is the second incident in less than a fortnight when a traffic policeman has fallen a prey to the rowdy motorists. On November 25, a motorcyclist assaulted constable Mahinder Singh on duty, when he issued the motorcyclist a ticket for jumping a red light. The motorcyclist had not only assaulted the cop but also removed his turban in the fracas. 



SDO nabbed for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 5
The Patiala vigilance bureau today nabbed sub-divisional officer (SDO) of Punjab pollution control board when he was trying to accept illegal gratification of Rs 8,000.

The vigilance DSP, Anil Kumar Sharma, said SDO, Avtar Singh, was arrested when he was allegedly taking bribe from Raj Kumar Chhabra, the owner of a rice sheller at Bhawanigarh.

The vigilance team nabbed the SDO in the presence of government witnesses Sharanjit Singh and Jasbir Singh, both employees of PWD (B&R), Patiala. The shadow witness was Tara Chand, a resident of Rajpura. A case has been registered by the Patiala vigilance bureau.



Car theft by Kashmiri youths
Cops suspect terror links
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
Theft of a car by three Kashmiri youths in the wee hours on December 2 has alerted the Punjab Police.

Not taking the things for granted, cops are trying to ascertain the whereabouts of a youth who has landed in a Jalandhar hospital after being involved in a road accident at Maksudan, Jalandhar, on the day of the theft.

One of the youths driving the stolen Maruti Alto car (DL 2C AC 3796), owned by Arnav Saha, a resident of Phase 3B 1 here, rammed the speeding car in to a stationary truck. While two of the youths, Shauquat Ali and Zonaid Mohammed, were injured in the accident, the third accomplice escaped. After the accident, the damaged vehicle was found on the roadside with two of the injured.

The Mohali police and Jalandhar police, while not ruling out terrorist links of the thieves, is ascertaining whether the occupants were carrying some contraband or some arms. The angle of the car planned to be used in some terror attack is also being probed. A police official said it had been seen that terrorists also resort to stealing vehicle to fulfil their nefarious designs.

SHO, Maksudhan Police, said one of the youths, Zoniad Mohammed, has stiches on his tounge and was not in a position to talk. His second accomplice, Sauquat Ali, escaped from a private hospital, Jalandhar. This escape of Sauquat has further raised doubts in the mind of the police. Its owner has identified the stolen car, said a Mohali police official.

The owner of the carsaid he had noticed the theft on the morning of December 2 while he was going to drop his daughter for her school bus. About four hours after the theft was noticed, he received a call from his friend who got a call from the Jalandhar police about the car being involved in an accident. A visiting card of Saha’s friend was in the car.



Vehicle Tax
9-seat vehicle owners to pay Rs 1,000 per seat
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 5
Now owning a nine-seat vehicle or above will be a dearer proposition for owners in Punjab.

To check pilferage of motor vehicle tax by operators of commercial vehicles who ply their vehicles as private vehicles, the state transport department has decided that the owners of nine-seat vehicle and above will have to pay Rs 1,000 per seat as the tax.

The tax would be charged irrespective of the fact whether the vehicle was registered as a private vehicle or commercial vehicle. This means that the owners of the nine-seat private vehicle would have to pay Rs 9,000 annually as the vehicle tax.

The decision primarily affects the vehicles like Tavera, Qualis and other such vehicles pitched in the passenger segment. The provision is applicable from the nine-seat vehicles to 14-seat vehicles, said an official in the transport department.

Reacting to the orders, the operator of the nine-seat vehicle said the government had done this with a view to help the mini bus operators whose business was being badly affected by a new range of vehicles in the category.

The nine-seat vehicles and above are in high demand in the rural and semi-urban stretches across the state and in the neighbouring states. Recently, the transport department had slashed the entry tax and relaxed the payment schedule for the operators who plied their vehicles on a contract basis. The decision applied to the vehicles plied on the contract carriage permits on all-India tourist permits. The tax fixed on a quarterly basis for motor cabs was Rs 3,000 while for maxi cabs the amount was Rs 6,000.



City boozers’ paradise
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
It seems every Chandigarhian is having a Patiala peg daily. If figures regarding liquor consumption in the city are any indication, every city resident, irrespective of sex, age and caste, is consuming a mindboggling 1.5 pegs per day sending parents and citizens in a tizzy.

This "boozy" development may ring alarm bells for the city having the highest per capita income but the situation is worse than it appears on the face of it as these figures are available for whisky only. If the figures for the wine, beer and country liquor are added the situation would be grim making Chandigarh as "most-inebriated" city in the country.

Industry sources said on an average 3.35 lakh cases are sold in the city every month.This works out to be around 40 lakh bottles per month and about 1.34 lakh bottles every day. “If we equally divide this huge quantity among 12 lakh people in the city taking an average of 13 pegs in a bottle, about 1.5 drinks are taken by every citizen, including children and women.

With the city flush with affluent sections of society, including politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen and corporate sector employees, the consumption of whisky is arguably on the higher side. This coupled with lower prices than the neighbouring Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and a large floating population further adds to the consumption level.

In fact, there are widespread allegations that due to lower rates, there is rampant liquor smuggling from Chandigarh to the neighbouring states. The fact that a large number of periphery people, mostly government employees, consume liquor in the city cannot be disputed.

Meanwhile, the high consumption has shocked the residents and social organisations. Terming the high consumption level as "disturbing", social activist Rajesh Sharma said there was a need to launch a mass movement against liquor consumption, particularly among the youth.

With the exercise for the new excise policy for 2009-10 being initiated shortly, the Chandigarh will have to take a look at all these issues, including the increasing liquor vends in the city.



Power Shutdown

Power supply will be suspended on Saturday to parts of Village Kishangarh, Farm Houses and Bank Colony from 10 am to 3 pm


Finance dept refuses to clear tourism bills
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
What could prove to be a major setback to the Chandigarh Tourism department’s soaring ambitions of making its forthcoming events grander then ever before, the finance department has refused to clear its long pending bills worth around Rs 1.70 crores on grounds of lack of “prior approval” of the budget.

These pending bills, pertain to events organised by the tourism department in the past few years. Some bills also reportedly pertain to the recently held carnival.

Confirming that the finance department has refused the payment of these bills, finance secretary, Sanjay Kumar said, “We can’t give them so much money. A large chunk of this money was spent even before getting mandatory prior approval of the budget.”

The refusal is sure to put STEPS in major trouble, as according to sources the department has not been allotted any funds under the revised estimates. This obviously might not go down too well with the city residents, who had given an enthusiastic response to the recent carnival.

“Carnivals and functions are welcome but we have to see our budget too. This time also I had made it very clear that certain shows need to be sponsored by private players as we can’t afford so much. The problem has arisen due to overspending by the department without analysing its capacity to spend or seeking an approval. Last time also we had to shut down the tourist helpline as every single call would cost us around Rs 90-150” added Kumar.

According to sources most of the bills are of advertising and printings tasks done during various festivals held over last few years.

However, STEPS officials hold the finance department responsible for the current mess.

An official, on condition of anonymity, said, “We got very less money. It was half of what we expected.”

Meanwhile, Samwartak Singh, director STEPS, claimed that there was nothing like rejection of bills, “I have just taken the charge so can’t comment on older bills. Moreover, they have not rejected or refused to pay any bills but are still scrutinising them. We will be taking up the issue with the finance department soon,” he said.



CHB to clear accounts by December-end
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
While questions are being raised on the unaccounted deposits of allottees with the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) to the tune of Rs 5 crore, the CHB has assured to clear the mess by the year-end.

In a reply to the RTI application filed by H.C. Arora, the public information officer (PIO) of the CHB said, “The amounts have been deposited by the housing board allottees on account of dues towards the CHB. These dues are being deposited with the Axis Bank on behalf of the CHB. In case the allottee (s) does not mention the dwelling unit no./ registration no./ scheme name or other information required to identify their property, the amount deposited by them is booked in the miscellaneous schemes by the Axis Bank.”

Arora further stated, “The bank has been approached to reconcile the miscellaneous schemes account and most of the entries have been cleared. The reconciliation process is going on and it is hoped that the amounts will be transferred to relevant schemes by the end of the current financial year.”

The advocate had filed an application, wherein, he had sought for minute details about the factual position of the unaccounted deposits of the allotees.

With reference to a further query i.e. What remedial steps have been taken by the CHB to ensure that the hard-earned money of the allottees does not travel to unaccounted amounts in the books/balance sheets of the CHB, the PIO specified, “The housing board is trying to trace the properties where allottees have furnished partial information while depositing the amounts with the AXIS Bank. The reconciliation process is going on and efforts are being made to trace the property and book it under the relevant scheme and clear the misc. scheme account.”



Housing units to have new bylaws
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Implying uniform policy, the Chandigarh administration yesterday notified that new building bylaws would be implemented on all type of housing units falling in the jurisdiction of Chandigarh.

This clarification about the modification of the bylaws, which will affect more than 75 per cent of the area and population of the city, came in the wake of confusion being prevailing in the notification of the revised building bylaws for residential complexes.

The notification only pointed out the approval for alterations to be made in marla houses only and was silent about the independent housing units built by the Chandigarh Housing Board in Sectors 43, 46 and 38 (west).

The UT finance secretary-cum-chief administrator Sanjay Kumar, clarified that these revised building laws would be implemented in all type of independent housing units, irrespective of the fact whether they are privately built or by the Chandigarh Housing Board.

The changes and extra spaces will come at a price fixed by the finance department with a provision for compounding fee for the already-made additions and alterations and the existing houses has been given two years time to comply with new bye-laws.

“Safety concerns such as stability of structures and adequate provision of civic amenities, including public health, electricity, air, fire services, were the main criteria for the formulation of the new bye-laws,” Sanjay Kumar said.

“The rules will be same as that of marla houses and the dimensions would be gauged as per the size of the plot as in case of marla or canal houses,” he added.

The increased floor area ratio (FAR), strict parking norms and emphasis on eco-friendly measures such as solar water heating and rainwater harvesting are the highlights of the amended bye-laws approved by Sanjay Kumar.

Bowing to the demands of the residents, the administration has allowed FAR of two for the marla houses less than one kanal with ground coverage of up to 70 per cent.

The houses from one kanal to two kanal will have the FAR of 1.5 and covered area of 50 per cent. The two kanal houses will have FAR and ground coverage of 1.25 and 45 per cent. And for the above two kanal bungalows, the FAR has been kept at one with ground coverage being only 25 per cent.

“Projection/cantilever on the first and second floor of the marla and kanal houses governed by the architectural control, not exceeding three feet from the building line in the front and real courtyard and at least three feet away from either side of the building line 
from the centre line of the common wall will be allowed,” the notification said.

The restriction of having only square and rectangular shaped doors and windows in the residential buildings has been done away with. 



Meeting held to revamp security at secretariat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Ram Niwas, UT home secretary-cum-chief vigilance officer, today convened a meeting regarding revamping of security in Chandigarh at UT secretariat. The meeting was held in the backdrop of the terrorist attack in Mumbai.

The home secretary asked the officials to review the available security resources and directed them to beef up the security at various hotels and other sensitive installations in the city. He directed the police to present detailed project report regarding handling of any emergency in the city beautiful.

He emphasised on the setting up of control room, quick reaction force, specialised commando training and requirement of specialised equipment. He also directed the concerned officers to install CCTV cameras in the main buildings of the city, including hospitals, malls, jewellery showrooms, etc. Metal detectors will also be installed at major structures.

He also reviewed the infrastructure for providing health services during such emergencies, including trauma services, ambulance, availability of beds in the government and private hospitals. He also directed director health services to prepare an inventory of available infrastructure.

Finance secretary Sanjay Kumar, IGP S.K. Jain, GOC, Western Command, Chandi Mandir, J. Chakrawarty, additional commissioner of the municipal corporation P.K. Sharma, deputy commissioner R.K. Rao, managing director of CITCO Niharika Rai, joint secretary home Bhupinder Singh, director public relations and cultural affairs R.S. Verma and director health services M.S. Bains, were also present on the occasion.



Hotels urge admn to set up security task force
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The Hotel and Restaurant Association of Chandigarh held a meeting, in which it decided to urge the UT administration to set up a task force to combat any attack in the wake of the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.

Man Mohan Singh, president of the association, said the meeting was organised to take stock of the situation arising on account of the Mumbai terror attacks. The meeting deliberated on many issues, including requesting the UT administration to set up a task force to combat such situations, asking the security agencies providing security to the hotels and restaurants to train their force to tackle such eventualities. The meeting was held on December 1 at hotel Aroma.

The association also decided to ban arms and ammunition in the hotels, installation of CCTV cameras on the premises of these buildings and holding regular meetings with the security heads of various establishments and the police. They also felt the need of deployment of security after 10 pm around these places and provision of coverage in insurance policies. The association resolved to send the recommendation to the administration for necessary action.



Few takers for Rowling’s new book
Pawan Tiwari

J. K. Rowling’s latest book in city bookstores.
J. K. Rowling’s latest book in city bookstores. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 5
With J.K Rowling’s latest book, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard”, failing to evoke any excitement among city readers, the Potter mania seems to have died down.

While the book has already been declared the best seller by Amazon.com, it didn’t find many takers here on the very first day of its release.

While most of the book owners were unaware of it, others just had five copies each.

“The marketing has not been that strong. So it had hardly any taker unlike other Rowling book. There were no advance booking or prior queries’’, said a bookseller.

“I don’t know about it, Moreover, I am not interested in it”, said a student.

The city people are believed to be bookworm but may be the bad marketing and high price of this book is the reason behind this kind of response this book has got in the city.



Commissioner reviews status of projects

Chandigarh, December 5
The status of major projects approved by the municipal corporation in the recent years was reviewed in a meeting convened under the chairmanship of municipal commissioner Roshan Sunkaria.

The projects of the industrial area, night food street, village developments, were discussed in detail at the meeting.

The issue of recruitment of staff in various departments was also taken up. — TNS



Muslims condemn Mumbai terror attacks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
About 500 Muslim youths of Chandigarh under the banner of the United Progressive Muslim Front met after the conclusion of Friday's congregation for prayer and condemned the criminal act committed by a handful of heinous people in Mumbai on November 26.

They resented the brutal killing of innocent civilians by a few terrorists. Those responsible for these brutal and immoral attacks should be brought to justice. "We extend our condolences to the families of the victims and pledge to remain committed to combating, rejecting and effectively countering the scourge of terrorism in all forms," said United Progressive Muslim Front spokesperson Arshad Khan.



BSNL’s new scheme

Chandigarh, December 5
BSNL has launched a special scheme on broadband service for central, state and public sector union employees on Friday.

Under the scheme, they will provide 20 per cent discount on broadband service charges. According to information, serving and retired employees are eligible under this scheme. — TNS



Educational complex

Considering the growing number of private schools in Patiala, it is necessary that we should establish an educational complex on Patiala-Nabha Road or Patiala- Samana Road in which the Punjab state, the MC Patiala or some other private organisations may provide buildings, play grounds, swimming pool, laboratory, library, workshop, community hall or the like and ask all the education institutions to shift to that complex.

If we want proper education for all, such a complex is the first step in this direction.

Dalip Singh Wasan, Patiala

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



Forest games a headache for PU students
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, December 5
Even as students are busy preparing their semester examinations, the Panjab University authorities have permitted the department of forests and wildlife preservation of Punjab to conduct All-India Forest Games and Sports Meet from December 3 to 7 on the campus.

This is not the first time when the authorities have permitted to hold a programme on the campus. LIC had conducted a function on the PU ground last week. Earlier also, during the examinations in November, 2007, two programmes - horse show and 1857 Indian Independence revolt — were organised on the PU campus that disrupted the entire routine of the students.

The organisers are using four grounds of the university. Not only this, they have set up loudspeakers on the campus and are also using mess facility of the hostels.

A few boarders said, “They are creating problems in our studies as they are using loudspeakers also. It seems the university authorities are least bothered about the future of students.”

The residents of boys’ hostel No. 4 alleged there was a party at the botany department day before yesterday night and till late hours they disturbed the hostellers and now these forest games were creating problems.

Traffic jams are common these days in the university and it is difficult to move. It took 15 minutes to this correspondent to reach the main library from the law department.

A few students met the dean, students’ welfare (DSW), Naval Kishore last night to solve the matter, but to no avail. 



School reveals sorry state of UT education department
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Contrary to the UT education department’s tall claims of ensuring quality education to every child, a visit to Government Senior Secondary School, Hallo Majra, is enough to reveal the sorry state of affairs.

The school is housed in the temple complex and has a very few classrooms that too in a dire need of repair. While around 100 students are seated in each of these rooms, most of the classes are held outside in the small courtyard with a high student to teacher’s ratio.

“Building is a major problem with us. Though the department has promised to make the new building soon but it is very tough to adjust till then. Not only the space but the acute shortage of staff is hindering the studies. One teacher attends to over 100 students and with more than 10 classes being held in the small courtyard, distraction is a major problem,” says Sadhu Singh, principal.

It may be noted many a times that ex-DPI (S), UT, S.K. Setia had issued directions to renovate the existing building and provide furniture in the same complex till the new structure was ready at the Kabari market but of no use as almost every single bit of scanty furniture is broken.

“Nobody is ready to pay attention to our problem. We don’t have adequate benches for the students and chairs for the teachers. Every single piece of furniture is broken. We have tried to approach the department but of no use as they don’t pay heed to our problems,” revealed another teacher.



Prayaas observes Disability Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Prayaas, a Rehabilitation Centre for handicapped Children, Sector 38, today organised a function on its premises to mark the World Disability Day. Jean Rodrigue, president, Indian Council for Child Welfare, was the chief guest at the function.

Rodrigue’s wife also inaugurated the Preparatory School for Children with Special Needs in the building of Prayaas. She took a round of the school and appreciated the efforts and enthusiasm of staff working there. Teachers apprised her about the educational, cultural and other related facilities being provided to the mentally retarded children.

Differently abled children from various institutions took part in the function and presented a colourful cultural programme.

The highlight of the celebration was the recognition accorded to the six alumni of Prayaas who had excelled in their lives.

On the occasion, director of the institute, Dr B.N.S. Walia, highlighted the activities and programmes of the institute. He expressed that trained staff and technologies could transform disability into ability. He emphasised on the role of the general public, trusts and NGOs that should come forward and help this section of the society.

Dr Walia informed that a visiting consultant from UK should be conducting workshops for parents of autistic children and for speech therapists on December 6 and 12, 2008. The centre also honoured three NGOs, namely, Chandigarh Senior Citizens Association, Sai Tara Ummat Foundation and Senior Citizens Welfare Association for their financial support to poor children of the Institute.

Director Social Welfare, Amandeep Kaur, staff of the Institute, parents of the special children and other distinguished guests were also present on the occasion. 



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |