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Coop scam comes to fore
Society kept charging higher interest on short loan
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Nadiali (Mohali), January 5
A cooperative scam in the recovery of short-term loans from farmers of 11 villages in Mohali district has come to light.

Running into lakhs of rupees, the Nadiali Cooperative Agri Service Society has allegedly “fleeced” farmers by charging higher interest rates.

Farmers, who had taken short-term loans, continued to pay the instalments at a rate of 11 per cent against a much lesser rate of interest charged by the state cooperative bank.

The loans extended to members were for short term and had to be returned within six months.

While the cooperative bank fixed the rate of interest for crop loan at 7 per cent with effect from April 2006, Raghbir Singh, secretary of the Nadiali cooperative society, who has been holding the charge for the past 12 years, kept charging higher interest since 2005 illegally. The society had been charging interest at 13 per cent.

The secretary could not be contacted for comments. The chairman of the Punjab Cooperative Society, Jasjit Singh Bunny, who has marked an inquiry into the matter following a complaint by villagers, was also not available for comments.

Sources in the Punjab registrar’s office said the deputy registrar, Ropar, RS Mann, had marked an inquiry into the matter. Though the contents of the inquiry could not be ascertained, but sources said irregularity on part of the secretary had been established.

It could not be ascertained if the extra amount charged from the villagers was lying in the accounts of the society.

The villagers had further alleged that the secretary was charging Rs 8,000 to issue a passbook. “While issuing a new passbook, he asks for old passbooks. Certain overhead expenditure has also been shown,” Manphool Singh, a resident of Nadiali village, said.

The society covers Bakarpur, Kandala, Dharamgarh, Rurka, Alipur, Nadali, Safipur, Matra, Jagatpura, Cheoheri and Bari villages. It is not the first time that the society has been embroiled in a scam. In 2005, a similar scam had been unearthed.

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Red Cross runs into losses
Commercial ventures its undoing
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The UT Red Cross Society seems to have gone astray from its basic objective. Putting the welfare of the poor and the sick on the back burner, the society has been indulging in commercial ventures, but without much success.

Its flagship Sahayta project for selling forms at the Registration and Licencing Authority (RLA) here seems to have landed it in the red with cumulative losses to the tune of Rs 4.92 lakh for the year ending March 2008.

Information gathered by a resident, RK Garg, under the RTI revealed that the expenditure for 2007-08 was Rs 72 lakh as compared to an income of only about Rs 56 lakh. This was in sharp contrast to the expenditure of Rs 24.75 lakh and income of Rs 67 lakh during 2006-07. The figure for 2005-06 was Rs 24 lakh and Rs 56 lakh, respectively.

The Rs 4.92 lakh loss was surprising in the light of Rs 15.83 lakh and Rs 42.81 lakh profit for 2005-06 and 2006-07, respectively. The payment of “lease for the sale of printed forms” amounting to Rs 35.33 lakh by the Red Cross to the authorities concerned from 1997 to 2006 seemed to be behind the loss of Rs 4.92 lakh.

This loss was despite the fact that the society was earning profit through its other commercial venture of running night shelters. While the night shelters earned a profit of Rs 6.35 lakh in the year ending March 2006, the profit jumped to Rs 10.29 lakh the next year. For 2008, the society recorded a profit of Rs 9.84 lakh.

Sources said the commercial ventures virtually defeated the objectives of the society which included maternity and child welfare, besides nursing, ambulance and welfare services.

Youth and junior Red Cross in colleges, holding of annual camps, helping the disabled, prevention of diseases and provision for positive health are the other objectives of the Red Cross. (To be concluded)

What’s Going On?

A sum of Rs 2 lakh has been lying in the “suspense” account of KL Kothari for the past at least three years.

n Rs 1.81 lakh is outstanding in the name of the Directorate of Family Welfare Bureau for the family welfare clinic project for the past three financial years.

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Chief Commissioner’s Post
Now, residents join chorus
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The demand for the restoration of Chief Commissioner’s post got a shot in the arm today with 46 residents welfare associations affiliated with the Federation of Sector Welfare Associations (FOSWAC) coming out openly against the “Governor-cum-Administrator” system in Chandigarh.

In fact, at the executive committee meeting here, FOSWAC pleaded for participative governance and making sure that functioning in the Chandigarh administration was transparent and democratic.

A resolution for the restoration of the post of Chief Commissioner was also passed at the meeting.

Stressing the need for strengthening participative democracy based on the model of “bhagidari” scheme of the Delhi government, the executive members stressed that in Chandigarh also the administration should involve resident welfare associations in all important decisions.

FOSWAC chairman PC Sanghi, questioning the very basis of the mega projects, pointed out that there was a need for real development in terms of need for construction of proper parking facilities, underpasses and flyovers with a view to improving civic amenities and bettering the existing infrastructure in the city especially in southern sectors before planning the mega projects.

“Do we need these kinds of projects? Who decided that we need these kinds of projects? Was the Union Government or any democratically elected body involved in these mega projects?” were the questions raised by Sanghi at the meeting.

“We must deliberate as to why city residents were not taken into confidence before planning such major projects wherein thousands of acres of land of Chandigarh had been allotted,” Sanghi asserted.

“While the administration was going all out for the mega projects, the public transport system was going from bad to worse. While the metro or the mono rail project might take years to complete, the existing public transport system must be improved and the frequency of buses on all routes be increased,” stressed MS Malhi of Sector 34 Resident Welfare Association.

Meanwhile, Hitesh Kumar Puri, president of Sector 43 welfare association, wanted transparency and accountability in the functioning of the administration and officials’ easy accessibility to public representatives and office-bearers of the welfare associations.

DP Singh, secretary of Sector 38 welfare association, and GS Ahluwalia from Sector 32 welfare association, questioned the very utility of the projects like film city, amusement park and warehousing complex.

On the contrary, these projects will bring in a lot of traffic in the city and disturb not only the planning but also the well being of the city. “Chandigarh was not made for bearing a heavy every day commuting/floating population. Open land should be left for the future planned development and growth of the city,” they claimed.

The members also expressed their concern about the delay on part of the administration to accord approval to 52 amendments and need-based change in CHB flats, cheap houses and industrial workers houses.

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Stray dog bites judge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
District and Sessions Judge KK Garg was bitten by a stray dog here today.

According to sources, the judge had gone to attend a langar organised by District and Session Judge Kewal Krishan in Sector 24 when a stray dog bit him on the leg.

The judge was taken to Government Hospital, Sector 16, where he was given first aid and anti-rabies vaccine.

Interestingly, if bitten by stray animals, the victims can claim compensation from the state for negligence. Law of Torts, published in 1897, provides aid to victims of such negligence on the part of the state.

According to the law, such incidents are due to breach of duty. It states: “After plaintiff has shown the defendant owed a duty to him, the plaintiff to succeed in a claim for negligence, has next to show that the defendant was in breach of this duty.”

The menace of dogs and monkeys has risen in the past few years. On an average, 15 persons fall prey to dog-bite everyday. The figure for a year, stands at over 5,000. The figures for previous years show that the number is more or less the same, indicating that the authorities have failed to deal with the menace.

Sources in the municipal corporation said there were about 8,000 stray dogs in the city and the civic body had failed to check this nuisance.

The sources said there was a proposal to construct a dog pound with a capacity to accommodate 5,000 canines and they were looking for a site for the purpose.

Dr Harminder Singh, an anti-rabies expert, said the rabies virus could infect any warm-blooded animal. He said a rabid dog would have a frothing mouth, would not bark and keep itself confined. It would bite anyone coming near it.

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Truckers’ Strike
Little impact on Day 1
Sheetal Mahajan and Harpreeti Bassi

Chandigarh, January 5
The city faced minimal impact on the first day of the nationwide truckers’ strike as most trucks laden with goods delivered their consignment early this morning, before the strike came into effect. The supplies were adequate but for a short period only.

With truckers joining the strike, the pinch would be felt from tomorrow, experts said.

Traders of the vegetable and fruit market claimed that current supplies would not last for more than two to three days and the city would soon be hit with the shortage of food and other essential commodities.

The situation is expected to get from bad to worse if the strike goes on indefinitely, as is being proposed.

Even though the city will face shortage of supplies of other goods, the supply of LPG, petroleum, milk and milk products would not be affected.

Operators of trucks and mini trucks are on an all-India strike to press their demands, including reduction of Rs 10 per litre in price of diesel.

Traders also said prices of vegetables could shoot up if the strike continued for more than a day. Due to fear of indefinite strike and consequent shortage of vegetables, people might start storing food in panic, which would further aggravate the problem.

Trucks across the country went off road following a strike call given by the All-India Motor Transport Congress (AIMTC).

Officials of the transporters’ body said they were forced to take the step after their talks with the transport officials of the central government failed and the government was unsuccessful in taking any action regarding their demands.

Truck operators claimed that the cut in diesel prices did not match the huge decline in global crude oil prices, which had fallen to 2004 levels, leaving a lot of scope for the government to further reduce the prices.

They also said even though the rubber prices had reduced by almost 60 per cent, the tyre prices remained the same.

The number of trucks on various national and state highways in the region was stated to be negligible. A large number of trucks were seen parked by the roadside at 
various places.

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Traders protest deployment of admn staff
Harpreeti Bassi and Sheetal Mahajan

Chandigarh, January 5
Even as the Grain Market Association organised a dharna in protest against the manning of entry and exit points to the grain market by officials of the Chandigarh administration, the latter has justified the decision saying that the new system has reduced pilferage and malpractices, besides increasing the quantity of commodities at the market.

Representatives of the Chandigarh Beopar also joined the protest organised by traders under its joint action committee. “The checkpoints will hamper the flow of traffic in the already congested market and also put general public to inconvenience,” said Bhim Sein, vice-president of the BJP Trader Cell.

Digvijay Kapoor and Brij Bhushan, senior leaders of the vegetable and fruit market, said the agitation would continue till the checkpoints were removed.

“The administration has cast aspersion on the integrity of elected members of the market committee,” said Market Committee chairman Devinder Singh Babla.

Meanwhile, the administration in a press note issued here claimed that the system was put in place after a decision to this effect was taken at a review meeting of the administration.

The meeting was held to discuss the details of certain complaints made to the administration by some representatives of the Sabzi Mandi regarding pilferage and malpractices at the mandi.

The entry points were being manned under the supervision of senior officers of the administration. The details of vehicles carrying goods like vehicle number, commodity brought by the producer and its approximate quantity were being recorded in a register.

The aim was to regulate and cross-verify the arrival of fruits and vegetables to the mandi, which form the basis of the market fee accruing to the Market Committee and to plug the leakages in the system.

Efforts had been made to ensure that public was not inconvenienced and smooth inflow of goods was maintained.

A comparative assessment of the average per day arrival for the first four days of January with that of December reveals a marked increase in the arrival of various fruits and vegetables at the mandi.

The average per day arrival of potato has shown an increase of 69.78 per cent, onion by around 20 per cent, and tomato by 55 per cent.

The percentage increase is more pronounced in case of vegetables like cabbage, carrot and radish, which have recorded an increase of 134, 133 and 136 per cent, respectively.

The arrival of garlic has also shown an increase of 129 per cent and cauliflower 80 per cent. The arrival of peas has increased from 290 quintal per day in December to 365 quintal per day in January, showing a percentage increase in arrival of up to 25 per cent, while that of brinjal and green chilly by 16 and 13 per cent, respectively.

The biggest increase, 446 per cent, has been seen in the arrival of apple. Increase has also been recorded for kinnou and cheeku, both of which have seen a jump of 119 and 163 per cent, respectively.

The comparative assessment shows a significant increase in the arrival of both fruits and vegetables since the introduction of the system of recording the arrivals at the market.

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Doctors to go on strike from January 13
A Correspondent

Panchkula, January 5
Medical services in General Hospital, Sector 6, is likely to be paralysed from January 13 with doctors deciding to boycott OPDs indefinitely in protest against the pending demand of pay hike.

According to Dr Varinder of General Hospital and also the joint secretary of the Haryana Medical Civil Services Association (HMCSA), almost 50 doctors would go in for a complete boycott of OPDs and emergency services. Wards will also be affected at the hospital, says Dr Varinder.

The decision was taken at a meeting held at the PGI, Rohtak, by the representatives of HMCSA yesterday.

The meeting held under the leadership of Dr Vijay Dahiya, president of HMCSA.

Dr Dahiya said the doctors working in the government hospitals would not work till their salary would not be same as that of their counterparts in Punjab and Himachal Pardesh. They will continue their strike unless their demand met.

Dr Devinder said, “Post-mortem and clinical tests would also be affected at the hospital.” Another doctor of the hospital said they would also submit mass resignations, if required.

Further explaining their demands they said the Haryana government has failed to fulfill its promise of making the pay of Haryana government doctors equal to the other states. Even the Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda had given an assurance in this regard last year and the financial department had also approved the proposal of a pay hike for the doctors, but the decision was kept pending till the implementation of the sixth Pay Commission in the state.

The members of HMCSA were satisfied with the positive response of Hooda, but now as the government is playing games with us, they will have to bear the brunt.

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Salman Khan in city for shooting
A Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 5
After a series of successes with ‘Namaste London’, shot in the city beautiful, Vipul Shah is all set to embark on his new venture again with ‘London dreams’.

After a long gap, ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ duo of Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan will be seen together. Asin, whose performance was appreciated in ‘Gajini’, will be playing the lead protagonist in the movie. The movie also stars Om Puri and Manoj Pahwa. The movie is being shot at the outskirts of Chandigarh. The area was all flooded with the viewers who had come to have a glimpse of their favourite stars.

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DRDO clones to replace Swedish rocket launchers 
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Army will be replacing its Swedish-origin Carl Gustav rocket launchers with indigenous lightweight clones developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The indigenous rocket launcher, developed by DRDO’s Armament Research and Development Establishment is said to be about 50 per cent lighter than the 14 kg Carl Gustav Mark-II launcher presently in service with the Infantry.

The barrel of the weapon has been designed and developed using hybrid-composite technology, used for the first time in the country. The barrel, which is this weapon’s, largest and prime component is made from carbon-epoxy lined with steel. The lighter weapon weight results in reduced fatigue, enhanced mobility and ammunition carrying capacity, thereby improving combat efficiency.

The manufacturing technology has also been established for the first time in the country. Mount brackets, furniture items and carrier systems have been designed and developed using advanced lightweight engineering materials technology, a DRDO in-house journal has claimed.

The 84-mm Carl Gustav rocket launcher is a standard infantry weapon issued at the platoon level and is highly effective in anti-personnel, bunker-busting and anti-tank roles at short ranges. It has also been used to good effect in built-up areas in counter terrorist operations.

The man-portable, shoulder-fired weapon is recoilless and is operated by a two-man team. It can be fired from standing, kneeling and lying positions. It can fire versions of the Carl Gustav are in service with a large number of armies around the world as well as special forces like the British SAS, US Navy Seals and the US Army Rangers and the Indian National Security Guards.

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Ecological crisis should not be ignored: Expert
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
“The financial meltdown facing the world cannot be viewed in isolation from the social and ecological crises. Something needs to be done on a war footing to deal with the ecological crisis; else an irreparable harm would be done to the world. People and nations have to come together to check ecological erosion in a war-like situation as the governments are not doing enough for ecological erosion that has a far more serious consequences for the world as compared to the financial and social crises”.

Explaining the gravity of the situation as to how financial crisis was leading to a social and that in turn was worsening the ecological crises, Susan George, president on the Board of Transnational Institute, Amsterdam, said the only way out of the situation was to form a movement of sorts that would pressurise governments to take effective remedial steps to save to world from a deepening ecological crisis.

Delivering a lecture at The Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), Susan suggested that the financial meltdown that was now being felt in India as much as in other parts of the world had resulted from various interrelated issues.

Terming globalisation as an illogical term, she said globalisation meant only free capital movement. Therefore, on the social level, globalisation had not helped in eradicating poverty and inequality, but at the same time no country had been spared from the financial crisis. What the world does not realise is that the ecological crisis has much more serious consequences as compared to any other. The social crisis is worsening the ecological crisis; as the poor will do anything to survive - cut trees, exploit natural resources, etc, she said.

Susan suggested that since ecological upheaval was moving too fast and governments were not doing enough, “there was an urgent need for new economic tools and international economic tools where banks and government were forced to safeguard the environment. She suggested that people should come together with a will, cooperation and consciousness to build a broad kind of alliance to pressurise their governments to save the plant from destruction.

Earlier in the day, Prof Paul Wallace, professor emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Missouri-Columbia, USA, spoke about importance of closure following violence. He gave the example of Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRCs) in healing the victims of violence. About the terrorism in Punjab, he said that though, violence had ended closure in the real sense was yet to come.

Dr. Pramod Kumar, Director, IDC, Prof. Randhir Singh, renowned political theorist, Prof. G.S. Bhalla, professor emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and many others participated in the three-day IDC’s inaugural lecture series that started at the institute today.

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Devotees throng gurdwaras
A Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 5
The birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, was observed at the city gurdwaras, today. Langars were also organised in various parts of the city.

Devotees in large numbers thronged to pay the obeisance and seek the blessings at the city gurdwaras. A huge crowd was seen at Gurdwara Nada Sahib, as more than 1,00000 devotees reached there to get the blessings.

Guru Gobind Singh was the son of 9th Guru Teg Bahahdur and his birth anniversary is a solemn occasion to remember their teachings and sacrifices. It is a day to re-dedicate to the ideals of the equality, brotherhood and compassion as optimised by Guru ji.

Guru ji is remembered and honoured as the creator of Khalsa Panth. Guru ji fought various fights against the tyranny of Mughal emperors.

Bhupinder Pal Singh, manager of Gurdwara Nada sahib said, “This Gurdwara belongs to the 10th guru and that’s why a large number of devotees come here. Even the doors of gurdwara were opened early, today.” The traditional markets were also set up at all the gurdwaras and were over crowded. The Kirtans and Akhand Path ceremonies were organised at the gurdwaras.

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IT raid on Taneja Developers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
A team of income tax officials from Delhi raided the official premises of Taneja Developers and Infrastructure Limited (TDI) at Sectors 15 and 22 here today.

Abhishek Garg, assistant director of income tax (investigation), said the raid was conducted across India. According to sources, the group has big projects in Delhi, Chandigarh and Mohali. Several teams comprising more than 100 officials and supporting staff conducted the raid under the supervision of Delhi income tax officials.

The raiding teams were reported to have questioned some key staff members of the group. During the raids, which were continuing till the filing of this report, entry and exit from the premises had been restricted and telephone calls barred.

While the officials refused to comment, sources in the department revealed that the raids were initiated on the basis of specific information that these groups were reportedly fudging accounts and returns that were grossly disproportionate to their sources of income.

The officials seized a large number of incriminating documents, details of financial transactions, computer data and account books, which were being processed to arrive at the amount of concealed income so that additional tax liability, if warranted, could be raised against the defaulting firm.

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Paras mall gets partial relief from MC 
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, January 5
The local government department has given partial relief to Zirakpur’s first shopping mall-cum-multiplex, Paras Down Town Square.

While giving partial occupation certificate to the promoter of the shopping mall, the local government has given six months’ time to fulfil the pending norms, failing which the Zirakpur MC would withdraw the partially completed permission.

The Chief Town Planner had written a letter to the Municipal Council for issuing a partial occupation certificate after depositing the fee as per rules and regulations for all changes or internal deviations made from the original sanctioned plan during the execution of work.

In a letter, it is also mentioned that this partial occupation certificate is only valid for six months. The company will have to take care of proper arrangements of fire protection and environment-related conditions also have to be operational, as per the conditions.

However, the MC officials stated that it was also clearly mentioned to the mall-concerned authorities that revised map related to parking norms must be clear from the Municipal Council in the given time for getting the completion certificate.

If the company could not clear the pending norms within six months and fail to get the completion certificate from the Municipal Council, the partial occupation certificate would be cancelled automatically, added MC officials. They also stated that the MC would not responsible for any damages.

Officials of the Paras Build Call Pvt Ltd, the promoters of the project, claimed that the mall would be open to public in third or fourth week of January, though the exact date was still not final, officials added.

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Councillors seek probe against MC chief
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 5
Zirakpur MC president NK Sharma’s statement against the Punjab cooperation minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, for allegedly interfering in the corporation’s functioning kicked off a political storm today.

Joining the bandwagon, the councillors of the SAD-BJP today went a step ahead by demanding a vigilance probe into the alleged embezzlement of funds in development of a park at Bhabat village and other irregularities committed by the MC president.

NK Sharma, who is regarded as a loyalist of Sukhbir Badal, had yesterday criticised Capt Kanwaljit Singh for commenting on SAD’s president. Addressing a press conference, five councillors, Gurmukh Singh, Harpreet Singh, Manisha Malik, Hardev Kaur Mangat and Paramjit Kaur Sodhi, alleged Sharma had amassed the property as a known source of income.

They also criticised him for interfering in the party affairs and said he had expelled by party president Sukhbir Singh Badal for his anti-party activities. They further alleged NK Sharma had betrayed Capt Kanwaljit Singh.

The councillors also opposed the construction of a Golf course at Gazipur village by Narinder Sharma and said he was doing so to help some of his friends.

Singing in support of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, they said the minister had saved the residents from demolition of their structures. When contacted, the MC president said he was ready for any kind of vigilance inquiry. 

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Workshop on road safety for bus drivers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
As part of the ongoing 20th Road Safety Week, the Chandigarh Traffic Police today organised a workshop for bus drivers to sensitise them about road safety.

Over 200 drivers from Punjab Roadways, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation and Haryana Roadways attended the workshop at CTU Depot in Phase I, here.

During the workshop, a free medical camp was also organised by a Sohana-based private hospital.

A conference on road safety and school area traffic management for school principals was also held at Traffic Auditorium, Sector 29.

UT SP (traffic) HS Doon and DSP (traffic) JS Cheema delivered lecture on road safety and distributed literature on traffic rules and regulations.

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Mega Projects: BJP mum for time being
Let UPA clear stand first, says Jain
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Even as the clamour for an independent inquiry into the controversial mega projects of the Chandigarh administration, in the wake of alleged irregularities, gets louder, the local unit of the BJP has preferred to keep mum on the issue for the time being.

Quizzed on the party’s stand, senior leader and former MP Satya Pal Jain said the UPA government must first clear its stand on the issue. “Minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal, UT administrator SF Rodrigues and adviser Pradip Mehra are part of the same establishment and it is surprising that the UPA had been turning a blind eye to the diametrically opposite stands taken by these functionaries publicly,” Jain said.

“The BJP would clarify its stand on the mega projects after the UPA government, which directly governs the UT, clears the air on the issue. For the time being, we will not comment on these projects,” Jain, who is tipped to be the party candidate from Chandigarh for the Lok Sabha poll, said.

The UPA government should either scrap the projects or order an inquiry if it smells a rat, he said.

On Congress allegations that the BJP was siding with Rodrigues as they were his brainchild, Jain said he did not hold brief for anybody.

However, Jain was quick to demand enhanced land compensation on the Punjab pattern for farmers, little realising that hundreds of acres of land had been acquired for the mega projects for peanuts. He also ridiculed the statement of Bansal seeking a compensation of at least Rs 4 crore per acre, saying what stopped the UPA government, of which Bansal was a minister, from enhancing the compensation.

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Ontario govt keen on working with Punjab: Minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
“The Ontario Government in Canada has introduced various schemes to make younger generation suitable for competitive world,” said Harinder Singh Takhar, Minister of Small Business and Consumer Service, Ontario, here today.

Talking to mediapersons, Takhar said the Ontario government was giving $ 1,500 per month to students to learn marketing and sales skills during their vacation.

“For the purpose, we short-list 400 students from over 4,000 high school students,” he said. They had started a Global Age Programme for university students from last year, he added.

“If any company lays off their employees, the government gives $ 2,800 per year for a period of two years,” he said.

The rate of unemployment in Canada was 6.5 per cent and there was no cause for worry even if it went up to 7 per cent, he added.

On effect of global meltdown on Canadian economy, Takhar said if the downslide continued for the next one or two years, Canada and the US would be affected more than India. He said the Canadian government was spending 67 per cent of its annual budget on education and health programmes.

He said the Ontario government was keen on working with India in general and Punjab government in particular and the common areas of interests were fields of power, mines, dairy products and education.

He said electricity transmission losses in Canada were very low and there was a huge scope for cooperation in the field with India, where the losses were extremely high.

He said there was also a 
possibility of mutual cooperation in the fields of medicines and mining.

He said: “Recently, the Ontario government passed a law allowing Indian community to immerse ashes of their relatives at earmarked places or sprinkle these on private land with the owner’s permission.”

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Centre okays Rs 2.73-cr grant for Sukhna’s makeover
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
It is makeover time for the city’s most-famous landmark — the Sukhna Lake. Acceding to the persistent demands of the Chandigarh Administration, the Union Ministry of Tourism has okayed a grant of Rs 2.73 crore for the water body that had been at the receiving end of poor upkeep and silt during the past few years.

The ambitious project, a brainchild of UT Home Secretary Ram Niwas, is expected to infuse a new life into Le Corbusier’s unique creation besides giving a fillip to the tourist inflow in the city. The upgrade of infrastructure at the lake to make it a world-class destination would be taken up on priority, sources said.

During a recent visit to New Delhi, Ram Niwas took up the matter with the tourism ministry officials. Sanjay Kothari, a Haryana-cadre senior IAS, posted as Additional Director General in the ministry, is seen as instrumental in the clearance of the project. Kothari had worked as the UT Home Secretary several years back.

According to the plan, fountains would be installed at the lake.

A new regulator end is also in the offing with the Open Hand monument at the site planned to be displayed in a much prominent way.

A new tourist information centre and a new-look plaza at the lake are other highlights of the project. Aesthetic planning and landscaping to draw more tourists to the scenic spot were the other attractions planned, an official said. In fact, new stalls and shops selling Chandigarh’s memorabilia are also planned.

In the backdrop of poor infrastructure at the lake, the administration had mooted the proposal to turn the water body into a tourist-friendly place. The makeover of the lake was part of the overall strategy of the administration to showcase its tourist spots in a better way in the months to come, the sources added.

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Uphill task ahead of Mayor
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
After donning Mayor’s cap, Kamlesh is now set to woo councillors and keep them happy. To start with, she is organising a luncheon meeting tomorrow. In spite of their party inclinations, most councillors are expected to attend the meeting.

Given this diplomacy, insiders claim it is not going to be a cakewalk for her to keep everyone on her side.

While the opposition is in favour of such a move, as they allegedly hold a grudge with previous Congress Mayor Pradeep Chhabra for keeping them at an arm’s length and delyaing their projects, what seems to be an uphill task for the new Mayor is to keep all Congress councillors together.

The going will be tough especially when Kamlesh herself stayed away from former Mayor Pradeep Chhabra’s office throughout the year except for important meetings.

Though party sources claim that Kamlesh has started making efforts to get him around, it hardly seems to be working.

On whether he would attend tomorrow’s meeting, Chhabra expressed his inability stating that he was in Delhi and would not be able to make it.

Second challenge for Kamlesh will be to have better coordination with officials. For, the friction between Chhabra and MC officials, including MC Commissioner and even UT Administrator, throughout his tenure has been an open secret.

A testimony to this was the absence of Mayor’s name from the invitation card for the inauguration of MC’s garbage disposal plant.

Party insiders claim that leaving behind the past, Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal now wants Kamlesh to strike a chord with MC officials so that all backlog of projects and development works can be cleared and conducive environment for Congress created before the parliamentary elections.

At the same time, Kamlesh will be expected to don the middleman’s cap to improve ties between the Congress and the Balmikis 
who are agitated over the SC certificate issue.

Meanwhile, Congress insiders claim that in spite of internal wrangling, unhappiness among Congress councillors over Kamlesh’s selection as Mayor and their further stand will come out in the open only in the house.

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Workshop
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 5
A personality development workshop for the students of economically weaker sections of society from various villages of Punjab concluded, here today, at Continental Institute of International Studies (CIIS), Mohali.

The week-long workshop, which featured intense sessions involving specially designed modules of English speaking and learning, personality development and interactive skills, saw top faculty of CIIS giving tips to the underprivileged students from the Garhshankar area.

The workshop, which was organised with active involvement of the Hoshiarpur Member Parliament and senior BJP leader Avinash Rai Khanna, imparted lessons to 71 students. Avinash Rai Khanna said the workshop had benefitted students in terms of widening their horizons and enriching their personalities.

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Restriction on number of students to be ferried
Admn’s decision unacceptable, say auto drivers
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Though the administration has rolled back its decision of implementing a blanket ban, effective from January 1, on autorickshaws ferrying school children, uncertainty prevails over the number of children to be allowed in an autorickshaw and the life span of the vehicle.

Lifting the ban, the administration has decided to allow five children in a single autorickshaw, but the Chandigarh Mohali Panchkula joint action committee is arguing for at least six children as per a notification of the administration.

“We have the administration’s noting where six children have been allowed in a single autorickshaw. How can they question us if we ferry six children?” Kamla Kant, chairperson of the autorickshaw joint action committee asked.

“All of a sudden, the administration has restricted the number of schoolchildren to five without having talks with us. It is not acceptable to us,” Om Prakash, secretary of the committee, said.

HS Doon, SP (traffic), said the situation would be dealt with as per the relevant sections of the Motor Vehicles Act. “We will allow ferrying of five children in one autorickshaw as prescribed by the Act. Stern action would be taken against those violating the order,” he said.

Vandana Disodia, secretary of the state transport authority (STA), said: “We will allow only those autorickshaws which carry five children and paste pollution certificates prominently on the front screen. All autorickshaws will have to install fare meters certified from the department of weights and measures within a month. We would challan vehicles heavily if these terms are not met with. In case of three consecutive challans, the vehicle would be impounded.”

She said by August, all autorickshaws running on petrol or diesel will have to be converted or get replaced with LPG ones. “The administration is making arrangements for installing additional LPG pumps. The administration is also thinking of tying up with banks for providing finance for the purchase of new vehicles,” she said.

Reacting to the administration’s move, the auto drivers argued that when the STA had fixed the life span of 15 years for an autorickshaw, the decision to phase out vehicles that were not even 15 years old was unjustified. “We have procured information through the RTI in August, wherein the STA has admitted that the life span of an autorickshaw was 15 years. How can it suddenly change its stand?” Kamla Kant asked.

They also said a majority of them were still paying instalments for their vehicles and taking fresh loans would be an extra burden on them.

“We had submitted a memorandum on December 11 and January 1 to the office of home-cum-transport secretary, but it did not respond. We came to know about the development through newspapers only. Hence, there is confusion,” they added.

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Hindi, Punjabi scholars honoured
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
Scholar of Hindi and Punjabi literature, Dr IS Tiwana, former principal PMN College, Rajpura, has been awarded by the Literary Society of India, Gemini Academy, Panipat. He has been honoured for his efforts in the field of literature and his 
valuable contribution for setting up academic utopia as principal.

Besides, Dr Suresh Nayak, head of department, scholar and orator of Hindi from PMN College, Rajpura, has also been awarded by 'Kabir Award' for his contribution in the field of poetry.

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Anshu wins Saraswati Vidya award
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
International Institute of Education and Management (IIEM), New Delhi, presented the National Saraswati Vidya Award to Anshu Kataria, a chairman of Aryan Business School at New Delhi.

GVG Krishnamurthi a former chief election commissioner of India, OP Verma, former Governor of Punjab and Bhishma Narayan Singh former Governer of Tamil Nadu and Eastern States gave away the award.

Kataria has been running three management colleges at Chandigarh-Patiala highway namely Aryans Business School (ABS), Aryans School of Management (ASM) and Aryans Institute of Management and Technology (AIMT).

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