C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Over 70,000 hooked to drugs in city: Study
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The recent expose by The Tribune on the open sale of Scheduled-H drugs in the Ramdarbar area seems to be just the tip of the iceberg, as over 70,000 people between the age group of 15-24 in the city have some or other kind of addiction.

The epidemiological survey on the prevalence of alcohol and drug dependence in rural and slum population of Chandigarh, which was conducted by the department of psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, reveals that the “preferred” substances of abuse are alcohol, cannabis and nicotine in that order.

According to doctors, the number could be much higher since a lot of addicts using prescribed Scheduled-H drugs and substances like to get a kick.

The survey, which was published in 2007, showed that in urban slums, 10.7 per cent of population was dependent, while in rural areas only 3.12 per cent were found dependent. As per the survey, the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse among females was 45.6 per cent and 54.4 per cent males out of a sample size of 3000 individuals (1500 from rural areas and 1500 from slum colonies).

“Drug and alcohol abuse is becoming an area of concern as this is increasing, while traditional moorings, social taboos, emphasis on self-restraint and pervasive control and discipline of the joint family and community are eroding fast,’’ Dr Chavan said.

He said the pace of de-addiction was not slow, but de-addiction alone was not enough, as the rehabilitation of such people had to be done necessarily by their families with social support in order to prevent them from getting addicted again.

As per data available with the de-addiction centre, PGI, almost 2000-2500 patients come for treatment every year and about 300-400 of them are admitted. About 150 patients admitted per year in the GMCH-32.

However, the PGI has planned to implement “roadmap project” through nodal agency to tackle the menace of drug abuse in Chandigarh and surrounding areas, said doctors. According to PGI doctors, they will educate the people in various ways.



IDBI manager gets 1-yr jail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the manager of IDBI Bank to undergo an imprisonment of one year for not complying with the orders pronounced by the forum.

The complainants, residents of Sector 35, Pardeep Tayal and wife Renu Tayal, had filed a case alleging that they had obtained a housing loan of Rs 13,00,000 on which they were liable to pay an interest of 7 per cent per annum that was to be reviewed at the end of three years from the date of final disbursement. 

The bank alleged to have reviewed the interest prior to that which was alleged to be an unfair trade practice. The forum had pronounced the orders on September 3, 2008.

It ordered that the change of interest notified by the bank will have no effect on the rate of interest and the same would be changed from April 10, 2007. The forum asked the bank manager to be imprisoned for one year and imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on the bank.



Delay in Payments
GMADA notices to defaulting promoters
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 26
With promoters of mega housing projects in Chandigarh’s periphery defaulting on payment of external development charges (EDC), hundreds of investors and the end-users are in tizzy. They apprehend that the delay in the payments by the promoters could land the projects in trouble.

While the promoters are citing global meltdown and recession in the real estate industry, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has issued notices to the defaulting promoters.

Information sought under the Right to Information Act (RTI) has revealed that the defaulting amount of the projects in the area of the GMADA runs in over Rs 233 crores. 

Among the promoters, who are delaying the payments, were Unitech Pvt Ltd (Rs 18 crore), Country Colonisers (Rs 33 crore) and EMAAR MGF (Rs 48 core). Due to court cases, the GMADA has not issued notices in case of Bajwa Developers and Janta Land Promoters, Rs 55 crore and Rs 60 crore, respectively.

Another builder, Puma Realtors was also defaulter. Other promoters-- Ansal, TDI and Pearl-- have reportedly paid the charges. GMADA officials said issuing notices was a regular exercise for the authority. “Since roads and other services had to be provided to the promoters by the authority, land had to be taken from the former. 

The land cost would have to be adjusted in certain cases.” The promoters claim that global meltdown has spelled doom for them. A large number of employees had been shown the door, confirmed the sources.

Citing economic slowdown, the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Association India and the National Real Estate Development Council have recently submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister seeking reduction in government charges, External Development Charges (EDC), licence fee, change in land use, moratorium of EDC payment, increase in the period for payment of the EDC and waiver of penal interest on delayed payment of EDC installments.

Though the Cabinet has allowed certain waiver, the same has not been notified. An official said once the relaxation was notified, the promoters would be able to pay the dues over a extended period.



Extra floor in buildings
Jain's statement kicks up row
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The statement of allowing one extra floor in the city by BJP candidate candidate from Chandigarh Satya Pal Jain has kicked up a row in local political circles, with his Congress and BSP opponents dubbing the move as “nothing but a farce aimed at destroying the basic character of the city".

"The move smacks of total lack of understanding of the basic character of the city and would spoil the city at a time when Chandigarh is line for UNESCO's heritage city status," Congress candidate Pawan Bansal said here today.

Saying that various contestants for the local seat should not get into "competitive politics" by promising moon to the voters, Bansal said he favoured low-rise buildings in the northern sectors. In fact, several areas, including the industrial area, were having high-rise buildings, which were enough to cater to the entertainment needs of the city," he added.

Terming the move as "utter populism", BSP candidate Harmohan Dhawan said across the board decision to allow additional floor would destroy the basic character of the city. However, selective need-based extra floors on such buildings such as single storey booth, bay shops and marla houses would go a long way in meeting extra space requirements of the residents, Dhawan added.

Earlier, while terming housing as the major issue in the city, Jain had today promised that his party would allow the construction of additional floor in all residential and commercial buildings in the city in case it was voted to power. 

"The permission to construct additional floors was the need of the hour as population and people's needs have increased manifold in the city which was conceived by Le Corbusier for a population of 3-5 lakh," Jain said.

In fact, Jain seems to have taken a cue from the permission granted by the Chandigarh Administration to the rehabilitation colonies to construct additional floor. Congress candidate Pawan Bansal had been claiming credit for this decision apparently aimed at wooing the colony vote bank.

When asked whether the proposed move would not tinker with the basic character of the city at a time when the city was vying for UNESCO's heritage city status, Jain claimed that some parts of the city were already having additional floors.

Jain pointed out that several buildings in various sectors of the city, including those constructed by the Chandigarh Housing Board, already had four storeys. Proper guidelines will be framed by an experts committee to ensure that safety and other requirements are met, he hastened to add.


Satire on social evils
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, March 26
Entertain unlimited, punches and peels of laughter was what the relished at the Tagore theatre as the Rajasthan Parishad celebrated its 60 years of existence and in service of the community.

Led by Surender Sharma, the comedy poets brought into focus the problems and evils ailing the society. The corruption in politics, import of terrorism from Pakistan, religious bigotry and unfair treatment by elected leaders touched the heart of poets and their enunciations were their outburst on the prevailing decline in ethical values, political and social system.

Perturbed at the deterioration of morality and communal harmony, especially hitting at temple issue, Surender Sharma remarked: “Lahoo tha Hindu ka, Allah sharminda raha; marra Musalmaan to Ram kahan zinda raha”.

Earlier, Dr Sita Sagar commenced the sammelan with an invocatory laudation of Maa Saraswati and later she read out an emotional poem on Holi. Thereafter, Neeraj Puri regaled the audience with his satire on fatness and and TV cahnnels. 

Dr Vinay Biswas was equally impressive with his indepth philosophical and serious poetic renditions. Sampat Saran offered critical analysis of Indo-Pak acrimonious dialogues ending always in fiasco.



Pay more for wrong parking
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Motorists leaving their vehicles at unauthorised places, get ready to pay more, as on the recommendations of the Chandigarh police, the UT Administration has enhanced the towing charges for wrong parking in the city.

The towing charges for two-wheelers has been doubled, while for others it will be enhanced from 25 per cent to 50 per cent.

The traffic police will also hire six cranes/recovery vans from private parties to lift the vehicles found parked at unauthorised places. Sources said the administration ordered that 50 per cent of the enhanced towing charges would be given to the owner of the vehicles while the rest of it would be deposited into the government exchequer.

Sources in the traffic police said with the turning of large number of parking areas into the paid parking lots and the burgeoning population of vehicles in the city is leading to a chaos in the parking lot.

Citing figures, a traffic police officer said, as many as 3,533 motorists were booked for wrong parking, wrong side and taking wrong turns since January 1 to March 15. The police had booked over 33,000 motorists last year. A substantial number of motorists among these were booked for wrong parking. As per estimates around 40 vehicles are towed away every day.

The traffic police has three recovery vans in its fleet, including two small vehicles. Taking in account the large expanse of the city, it was not possible for three vans to cater to the entire city. The towed vehicles are taken to the nearest designated vehicle ponds in Sector 17, 34, and in Traffic Police Lines in Sector 29.

The UT SP (Traffic and Security) HS Doon, told The Tribune that the enhanced towing fee not only act as a deterrent to the violators but would also help the police to clear the roads without wasting time.



Illegal structures razed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
A demolition drive was carried out on Tuesday in the south sub-division to remove illegal and unauthorised construction that had come up recently.

In spite of warnings issued to the violators, the administration had to take action to remove the unauthorised structures. The major structures removed included two “mazars” in Sector 41 and Maloya village. The “mazar” was demolished last month also but had come up again recently.

Besides demolition of the newly-constructed structures, a case was registered against Bhupinder Singh, a resident of house Nos. 2588-89, Sector 52, at the police station-39.

During the drive, 15 unauthorised newly constructed jhuggis on government land near Pandit Colony, Sector 52, were also demolished.

The administration reiterated that no new illegal construction would be allowed in the sectoral and peripheral areas of the city.

The drive was carried out under the supervision of Prerna Puri, Sub Divisional Magistrate (south), along with the staff of the municipal corporation and estate office.



Book on AIDS orphans released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
“Aakhri Adhyaay”, the latest fiction penned by celebrated urdu writer KL Zakir was released by the Haryana Governor, AR Kidwai, here today. The book credits itself to be the first fiction on the AIDS orphans in the entire subcontinent and also exhibits the unexplored humane aspect of the inheritance of this disease.

It’s USP is the characteristic style of the writer to present the misery and pain in a touching yet thought-provoking way.

According to Zakir, he was working on this idea for long and a conference on AIDS orphans, “Children on the Brink”, held in Africa in 2002 got the plot and characters in place.

“This is the outcome of a thought-provoking story that I came across several years ago and it was then that I knew I had to write about it,” he added.

HK Dua, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune, who presided over the function emphasised that news reports could help in conceiving ideas but it was the writer’s sensitivity and involvement that led to such inspirational works.

“A journalist and a writer are quite different from each other. Journalists are called ‘hacks’ because they pen a news report detaching themselves from subjects and keeping objectivity supreme. However, a writer feels and projects the happiness and grief through his work. 

He lives his characters, lends his emotions to achieve the greater good. Journalists deal with AIDS in statistics and at times in individual miseries and a writer like KL Zakir portrays an entire society in his writings,” HK Dua said.

Dua who also happens to be a student of KL Zakir added that he should have invited him to release one of his books but still he wishes that he stands at the same pedestal soon applauding him for his 150th creation.

AR Kidwai said, “There are very few Zakir who have the capability to pen things down so beautifully. I wish he keeps working and keeps presenting the current issues with such a unique perspective.”



Income tax raids on 3 premises
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, March 26
As a part of the nationwide survey operations, the income tax (IT) department surveyed few leading business premises here today. The surveys are being conducted to unearth tax evasion under the supervision of the Income Tax Commissioner (CITI).

Though no official information was available, it is learnt that the IT department staff under the supervision of GS Randhawa, Commissioner Income Tax, conducted raids on electronic metres manufacturer, Avon Meters at Derabassi, Pooja Textiles, Sector 22, Chandigarh, agent of Raymonds and producer, distributor of animation films- Compact Disc India at Manimajra.

The department teams are believed to have checked the account books and other documents related to the sale records.

When asked, Additional Commissioner, Income Tax, range III, Ajay Sharma, declined to divulge details as the operations were still going on.

“Once the department is able to calculate the extent of concealed income by the factory owners on the basis of the information collected during the survey and details of high-value transactions, a survey report will be prepared and due tax liability raised against the business group,” the sources said. 



17.51 pc growth in IT collection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The income tax collection from the north-west region, comprising Punjab, HP, J&K, Haryana and Chandigarh, has registered a 17.51 per cent growth during this year as compared to the corresponding period during last year.

According to officials, the department collected tax to the tune of Rs 9,532 crore till March 19. Last year, total collection in the region was Rs 8,114 crore.

Official sources said this had become possible by clubbing loopholes of tax evasion and through stringent monitoring of tax collection. “The actual tax collection figure so far exceeded the department’s target of Rs 9,314 crore, posting a growth of 2.3 per cent,” said a senior income tax official.

Earlier, the department had estimated collecting Rs 10,514 crore but later it was scaled down to Rs 9,314 crore. “Our NWR region is the only region in the country to surpass the tax collection target particularly in view of recessionary pressures hitting several industrial sectors of this region,” said senior income tax official.



1 Timer  
No hope from politicians

We do not have a choice as far as choosing a representative in elections is concerned because eventually we have to vote for one candidate or the other even though all candidates in the fray are not up to the mark.

The only choice left with us is between an evil and the deep blue sea. I have lost the hope in the political leaders of our nation and I’m not excited about voting for the first time.

The rampant corruption and pervasive use of money and power has disillusioned the youth of our country.

Only educated people must be given a chance to represent the masses so that they can work for the betterment of the people.

Strict measures should be implemented so that the entry of undeserving politicians can be checked.

The Parliament must enact a law to the same effect.

Aman Deep Singh



Attack on labour dept staff
Commissioner seeks probe from P’kula DC
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 26
Irked over the manner in which the local police acted and avoided to register a case against the accused, who allegedly attacked staff of labour department on Monday, the Haryana Labour Commissioner, in a communiqué to Panchkula Deputy Commissioner has asked to intervene the matter.

The Labour Commissioner, NC Wadhwa, while talking to The Tribune, said he had written to Deputy Commissioner, Rajender Kataria. The labour inspector and his subordinate were performing their official duty as per the direction of the local administration to keep a watch on the shopkeepers who open their shops on off day and do not allow the employees to avail weekly off. 

“This is the duty of district administration to provide security and as deputy commissioner is the head of administration, so I have asked him to intervene in the matter,” said Wadhwa, adding that, “The matter will be taken up at higher level in case no step was taken in this regard.

In fact it was a double whammy for the officials of labour office here when they were allegedly manhandled by the owner and workers of the CTC Plaza, a shop at Sector 11 when they tried to fine them for opening the shop on an off day. 

The victims were, however, shocked to find the policemen acting as middleman to hammer a compromise when they approached them to lodge a complaint.

Even the instructions of Kataria to take action against the accused proved ineffective. He further confirmed that he got the information regarding the incident, following which asked the police to take action.



Non-branded foreign food items
Health department to act tough
Our Correspondent

Mohali , March 26
The health department will be filing a case against distributors and retailers for supplying and selling ‘non-branded’ foreign food items in violation of the norms.

District health officials had collected six samples of various items from four shops in Mohali and Kharar about a month ago, out of which three were related to chocolates.

It is alleged that the wrappers of these chocolates did not bear the name of the company manufacturing it or other relevant details. These samples had even failed laboratory tests and were not safe on health grounds too. 

The ones that had allegedly failed the test were Kravour Raisen, Max Crunch and Raizint. Samples of an imported energy drink, noodles and oats were also collected by heath officials but these were found to be safe.

Dr SP Surila, district health officer, selling ‘non-branded’ products that did not bear any details about the manufacturer was a crime. As the name of the manufacturer and other details were missing on the chocolates collected by health officials, the manufacturer could not be questioned.

A stern action would be initiated against the distributors and retailers.



MP saves kids with heart problem
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 26
Innocent smile on the angel face of six-year-old Twinkle was hard to miss. Little did she know that it was a second life for her, thanks to donations arranged by Hoshiarpur MP Avinash Rai Khanna.

Twinkle is among the six children, who were operated upon for congenital heart diseases from the donations given by NGOs and philanthropists on the call of the MP. The surgeries were conducted at highly subsidised cost at Grecian Hospital here.

All beneficiaries hail from economically weaker families and their parents could not manage the resources to pay for an expensive surgery costing around Rs 1 lakh.

Dr Pankaj Mankand, an eminent cardiac surgeon from Edinburgh, Scotland, has operated upon Twinkle along with eight-year-old Aniket Rana, both residents of remote villages in Garhshanker.

Avinash Rai Khanna said a many children suffering from this disease had been identified during a health mela conducted in the area a few months ago.



Ban on watering of lawns from April 1
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 26
The water supply and sanitation wing of the department of public health has imposed a ban on watering of lawns during morning and evening supply hours from April 1, in order to meet the shortage of water in the coming months.

The authorities concerned have also imposed a ban on the washing of cars and scooters in the morning and leakage of overhead tanks beyond five days. Leakage in pipe from the main line to the meter beyond five days and installation of a booster on the water meter has also been banned. 

The water connections of consumers violating these restrictions would be disconnected and would be restored only after an affidavit, stating that the misuse was stopped, was given after depositing a fine of Rs 500.



Consumer Forum
Mobile company asked to pay Rs 15,000
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Holding the India Times Shopping and Times Internet guilty of deficiency in services, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the company to pay a compensation of Rs 15,000 to a resident of Panchkula.

The forum also directed the company to refund Rs 20,390 being the price of the mobile set delivered by the company.

The complainant, Shivanand Narain, a resident of Sector 2 in Panchkula, stated in the complaint that after seeing an advertisement published by India Times in the Times of India, he bought a mobile handset priced Rs 20,390. He received the mobile through courier. He was shocked to find that as soon as the SIM card was inserted, the mobile stopped functioning and the software got hanged and did not display anything except the welcome screen. The mobile phone was absolutely unusable.

He reported that he contacted the opposite party, who advised him to return the phone for replacement. The complainant sent the mobile phone to the company through TNT courier. According to the complainant, he said mobile phone was returned with a letter asking him to lodge the claim with another service centre as the product carried manufacturer warranty. According to the complainant, he promptly spoke to the official concerned, but no action was taken on his complaint.



Mahindra Holidays told to pay Rs 44, 283
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India to refund Rs 44,823 to Narinder Jit Singh Bagga, a resident of Sector 40, for inefficient service. The forum has directed the company to cancel his membership of the complainant also.

Bagga had stated in the complaint that an executive of the resorts invited them to their office where he explained them an introductory offer, wherein, four adult members of a family could stay at their resort for three nights/four days at any destination in India and a complimentary tour for two nights trip to Singapore for a couple, for a lumpsum amount of Rs 44,823.

Bagga informed him that due to their son’s examination they could not accept their offer before May 30, 2009. However, the executive said they could avail this offer after that. 

Bagga said he told that they would receive a confirmatory mail after which they would get a free look period for 10 days to accept or reject the offer. As no mail was received, therefore, the complainant sent registered letters in September 2008 requesting for cancellation of membership and refund the money.

But in response Bagga received a letter saying that they were given Club Mahindra’s membership for white season for one bedroom apartment for Rs 2.98 lakh and he never requested or consented for the same.



DAV school exam results
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Pallavi Sharma, a student of Chaman Lal DAV Senior Public School, Sector 1, Panchkula topped the Class VIII, All-India DAV Board exams in tricity, the results for which were declared this evening. 

Pallavi who scored 96.6 per cent marks was an all rounder said school principal Anju Marriya. She was a winner of gold medal during national science Congress held recently.

Students of three Chandigarh based DAV schools came out with flying colours also. Tamana Kwatra, of KB DAV Sector 7 scored the highest position in the city with 96.5 per cent marks and credited her success to constant hard work. 

In all 23 students of KBDAV all 10 from DAV 8 and two students from DAV 15 scored an above 90 per cent.



Convocation at GCG-11
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The 52nd annual convocation of the Government College for Girls, Sector 11, was held here today. Padma Bhushan Dr BN Goswamy was the chief guest on the occasion.

The convocation was inaugurated by the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by Goswami along with the principal.

Dr Goswamy also released the college magazine ‘ABHA’. The magazine showcases a collection of the literary and creative potential of the students in different streams and the achievements of the college.

Congratulating the graduates and postgraduates, Dr Goswamy motivated them to be the agents of change and take charge of their future.

Recalling his school days, he emphasised that today’s world is full of opportunities, so they should make up their mind and put their energy to a constructive use. 



Changed paper pattern shocks students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The CBSE Class XII physical education question paper came as a shock to the city students. Claiming the paper to be designed on an unexpected pattern, the students complained to have been left with ‘no choice’.

“It was shocking. In past there was a choice in the paper and we were supposed to attempt seven questions but this time the paper had only seven questions and all of them were compulsory,” said one of the students.

“The questions were very tough as compared to the past, the board’s decision of not giving any choice in the paper made it difficult, we should have been intimated earlier about this changed pattern,” added another.



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