C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


De-silting work under lens
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The UT administration has installed CCTV cameras to check any congestion of machinery and equipment during de-silting work on 72 acres that have dried up at the regulator end of the Sukhna Lake here.

Four cameras were installed today -- two each at the entry and exit points at the regulator end -- to keep a check on the number of trucks going in and out carrying silt.

Officials say that two more cameras would be mounted atop poles to monitor the work. Movable cameras would monitor the dry patch.

The cameras, costing between Rs 25 to 30 lakh, have been taken on rent for Rs 40-50,000 a month.

The move is also aimed at keeping a record of the process of reviving the dying lake in the form of CCTV footage, which would be catalogued for official record.

Both Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar and Home Secretary Ram Niwas will be able to view the footage in their offices.

The Finance Secretary, who also heads the engineering wing, said: “We hit upon the idea to keep a tab on the work since a lot of machinery and equipment, besides manpower, is involved and requires to be monitored.”

Sources in the engineering department said more machinery would also be pumped in to speed up the work before the monsoon sets in.

For now, two hydraulic excavator, five excavators (JCB) and 44 dumpers/trucks/trolleys are being used to de-silt the lake.

The sources said since it became difficult to quantify how much silt had been taken, officials were keeping track of where all the silt was being used in the city.

The UT administration is facing an uphill task of removing 80 lakh cubic feet of silt. Though the officials have maintained that the task would be accomplished within three to five years, it is expected to take longer.



Get moving fast: HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today indicated it was, on the face of it, not averse to the idea of developing a cafeteria at Sukhna Lake, but insisted that efforts need to be doubled for preserving the water body.

As a public interest petition came up for hearing, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Jasbir Singh asked the Chandigarh Administration to consider the feasibility and desirability of increasing the number of personnel and machinery at the lake, keeping in view the monsoon.

The directions followed after an amicus curiae (friend of the court), Tanu Bedi, told the Bench that they had just about a month to act before the onset of monsoon. She said the dry season would last another month and the need of the hour was to carry on with the process of de-silting on a war footing.

The Bench was told that at stake was the ecology around the catchment area as the construction activity was damaging it and the area had seen massive deforestation. Agreeing that the flow of silt had registered a decrease, she said steps to control the flow of silt in the catchment area had resulted in preventing the water from seeping in.

The Bench was also asked to make Punjab and Haryana parties in the on-going case as the catchment area fell in both states. She also pointed out at a letter written to the court, saying that money was being spent on the cafeteria while it should have gone for carrying out the de-silting work. Chief Justice Mudgal said all development was not bad. “Lets not get obsessed with the way it was, but lets take steps to preserve it,” he stated.

Justice Jasbir Singh verbally asked counsel for the UT administration to explain where would the lake receive the water from. The Bench was told that the possibility of wet dredging damaging the flora and fauna, and affecting migratory birds could not be ruled out.



Salaried class faces higher tax liability from next year
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The city’s salary earners should brace themselves for paying increased taxes once the ongoing census exercise is completed and the headcount officially declared. The reason: the union territory’s population is expected to cross the one million mark thereby putting salary earners in a higher tax bracket, especially those who provided housing facility by the employer.

Judging by the pace in which the city’s population has risen exponentially from 451,610 in 1981 to 642,015 in 1991 to 9,00,635 in 2001, it appears to be a foregone conclusion that the population will exceed a million when the census figures are out next year.

The relevant tax is covered under the subhead ‘Perquisites’ of the Income Tax Act, with the specifications given under rule 3 of section 17(2) of the IT Rules. According to the existing provisions, employees living in rent-free accommodation in towns with a population of up to a million were adding 7.5 per cent of their income to their total remuneration for calculating their tax liability, with those in cities with a population of up to 2.5 million adding 15 per cent.

The salary component includes basic pay, dearness allowance, bonus and the taxable portion of the income.

Says income tax consultant Rohit Jain: “The raised tax limit applies to government, semi government and even private employees under chapter 4 of the IT Act, 1961. It will be more specific to government employees who are provided furnished accommodation”.

Talking to The Tribune, BS Dhillon, chief commissioner of income tax (northwest region), said: “The increase shouldn’t make a big difference to city residents. The excellent amenities available in the city make it worth paying a little more. Also, despite paying more tax on account of perquisites, employees will still be saving a considerable amount on account of rent-free accommodation, going by the market rates prevailing today”.

The Finance Act, 2009 had scrapped the fringe benefit tax with effect from April 1, 2009 and employers were supposed to bear the burden. The change, which resulted in restoration of taxation of ‘perquisites’ provided by employers, was made applicable from April 2009 onwards.



Using ambulance to sneak out of hostel
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
A major reshuffle of the staff of hostels on the Panjab University campus is now under way. While varsity officials cited the “lackadaisical” attitude of certain employees as the rationale behind the move, sources close to the PU health centre indicated the actual problem was the failure of the present hostel staff in identifying “false” medical complaints by hostellers during night hours.

In an emerging trend on the campus as observed by health centre officials, hostel residents have been calling for ambulances at night on the pretext of “stomachache” or “bodyache” just to slip out of the hostel. They are then referred to the Government Multispecialty Hospital in Sector 16.

The students, who are mostly girls, then manage to escape for a few hours and call for the ambulance to be dropped at their hostel. Ironically, a compulsory attendant, posted at every hostel to “guide” the student, is absent on most occasions, said a doctor at the PU health centre, requesting anonymity.

“The trend is disturbing and the staff can be easily lured by the students,” the doctor added. Not only this, health centre officials said the number of students who complain of nausea and vomiting is at an all-time high due to excessive consumption of alcohol.

Incidentally, there is no system of communication between the PU health centre and the university administration to keep a check on the health status of its students, especially hostel residents.

These and certain related facts have caught the attention of the dean of students welfare’s office, which is now restructuring the appointment of staff as a precautionary measure in each hostel in a bid to avoid problematic situations for the authorities.

Confirming the reports of the reshuffle of hostel staff, PU dean of students welfare Naval Kishore said, “We are working on the overhaul of the hostel staff after we received certain complaints and will soon prepare a report on the matter to effect a reshuffle.”



Cop thrashes woman colleague
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
High drama was witnessed at the Punjab Civil Secretariat, Sector 1, here when a Punjab Police head constable allegedly thrashed a woman colleague and slightly tore the collar of her kameez (shirt) following an altercation over an armchair.

Both the police personnel reached a compromise at the Sector 3 police station after about four hours of negotiation.

According to sources, the incident occurred around 10.30 am at VIP gate No. 2 of the secretariat where both the head constables Balwinder Kaur and Jaswant Singh were deployed.

The problem broke out when Jaswant Singh had gone to drink water from a cooler and in his absence, Balwinder Kaur took his armchair. There was only one armchair. Three other chairs in the security cabin were without an armrest.

When he returned, he asked her to vacate his chair. Since the two were not on good terms, an argument ensued, which soon turned violent.

Refusing to part with the chair, Balwinder said the chair was not assigned to him. Jaswant, on the other hand, accused her of deliberately grabbing the chair to instigate him.

On hearing about the altercation, Balwinder’s husband -- head constable Sukhwinder Singh -- immediately reached the spot. The trio then had a clash, during which Jaswant Singh allegedly pushed Balwinder following which her shirt got torn.

Later, Balwinder alleged that Jaswant picked up the chair and tried to hit her husband, but other police personnel had intervened.

The matter was reported to CISF officials posted there, who then reported the matter at the police station concerned.

Balwinder alleged that Jaswant, who was on good terms with her, had stolen blank cheques from her purse and had been misusing them. He had been claiming that she had given the cheques in lieu of a loan she had taken from him.

Jaswant, on the other hand, accused her of being a habitual complainant. She owed him Rs 3 lakh, which she reportedly refused to return. Jaswant said she was levelling false allegations to implicate him and had herself torn her shirt.

The SHO of the Sector 3 police station, Mahavir Singh, said the matter was resolved amicably after Jaswant apologised.



No freeway at Daria village
Panchayat levies entry tax on villagers
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The levy of “entry tax” at Daria near the Chandigarh railway station by the panchayat has snowballed into a major controversy with villagers up in arms against “financial exploitation” and demanding a high-level probe into the case.

While the villagers, in a representation to the UT Administrator, alleged that illegal entry tax had been imposed without taking into confidence village residents, sarpanch Gurpreet Singh claimed that this had been done according to rules and the money would be spent on the development of the village.

On April 15, the panchayat imposed the entry tax at the rate of Rs 50 per tractor-trailer and Rs 40 per truck. Similarly, car/jeep owners were asked to shell out Rs 20 per entry while rehri owners were supposed to pay Rs 10. Likewise, cycle owners were required to pay Rs 5 per trip.

Alleging that the tax had been imposed by the sarpanch to favour his associates, who “cooperated” with him during the elections, the representation alleged that the interests of the poor had been sacrificed by the panchayat. “Even guests are not spared and those not paying the tax are not treated well,” it added.

“There is no such entry tax in any village of Chandigarh. Moreover, the panchayat has sufficient resources for development works and there was no need to impose the tax on people,” the representation claimed.

Refuting allegations, Gurpreet Singh claimed that at a meeting of the panchayat representatives with senior UT officials on May 7, 2009, the panchayats were authorised to levy local taxes to mop up resources for the development of villages. The levy of “entry tax” at Daria was nothing new as this practise had been in existence for several years during the tenure of earlier panchayats, he said, adding that the tax was collected only from persons indulging in commercial activity in the village.

Claiming transparency in the award of the contract, the sarpanch said the contract had been awarded for Rs 7.95 lakh and the contractor had already deposited half of the amount for the first six months. “Every penny would be accounted for and spent on the welfare of the villagers,” he added.

Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar said the administration would get the matter examined to verify the allegations.



MC turns blind eye to fire safety norms
Not sealed even a single restaurant till date 
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
A major fire at Barbeque Nation, the multi-cuisine restaurant in Sector 26, early on Sunday morning due to a short circuit would have singed hundreds had it taken place during the peak business hours.

Remaining a mute spectator to the possible tragedies, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation does nothing more than issuing notices. Despite a clear provision of sealing the premises of repeated violators, nothing concrete has happened on ground. The fire department has not sealed even a single restaurant in the city for violating fire safety norms till date.

Officials confirm that drives to check fire safety norms more than often end midway.

As per the Fire Act, it is mandatory to install fire safety measures in restaurants and keep them in proper working order round-the-clock. A survey of restaurants in the city by the Tribune team showed that a majority of them were sans the mandatory installations.

During a survey of the restaurants, particularly in Sectors 26 and 35, it was found that a majority of fire extinguishers were removed from the place of actual installations as shown in the ‘no objection certificates’. A large number of extinguishers in this category are lying in unseen places and a majority of them had expired.

A visitor to a restaurant in Sector 35 said: “The fire extinguishers spoil the décor of the restaurant forcing the owners to dump them in unnoticeable places.”

Atamjit Singh, a retired town planner visiting a restaurant in Sector 7, said: “I find it interesting to note that an owner spending crores on making the interiors more attractive does not bother to spend even 5-10 per cent towards the safety of the premises against an accidental fire.” He added: “Even in restaurants showing the installed fire-fighting apparatus, the staff is very inadequately trained to handle the gadgets. The staff think that the job ends with information being passed on to the fire department.”

A watchman posted in Sector 35 said: “I have the list of all the emergency numbers, including the fire department and the police. After my appointment, I was given a special lecture on the telephone numbers and all possible contacts in case of an emergency like fire. However, I received no training on handling the fire-fighting equipment.”

The LPG cylinders stored in the open without caring for the safety norms is a danger in the waiting, as often these are placed next to the exit points in the backyard.

When contacted, MC Additional Commissioner-cum chief fire officer PK Sharma said: “We serve frequent notices to the defaulter restaurant managements. The fire department is recruiting more staff which will help checking the fire safety norms, particularly in the markets.” 

Under the National Building Code Part-IV, restaurants need to have:

n Fire extinguishers as per IS 2190

n Wet riser: If building is more than one storey

n Sprinkler system: If covered area is more than 1500 sq m or seating capacity is of more than 1,000 persons

n Automatic detection system: If sprinkler is not provided

n Illuminated exit signs

n Manual call points

n Emergency light with battery back up, emergency power supply to meet the requirement of fire safety facilities and smoke venting 


Admn swallows ‘slumdog’ term
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Stung by media criticism about the use of the term “slumdog” for slumchildren in a health survey, the UT administration was forced to swallow it’s own words and has today regretted for inadvertently hurting any feelings of any section of the society.

It is often said that a word once out from mouth or in print has no turning back, but that’s not the case with the UT administration, as they have ‘press notes’ as a way out: “Use of the term “slumdog” in a health survey issued by the UT administration had no negative connotation and did not mean any disrespect to slumchildren, or anyone else. Committed to improving the slums, the administration never meant to hurt their sentiments,” a press release claimed.

Yesterday, the administration had claimed that the slum children studying under the Alternative Innovative Education (AIE) centres had better eyesight than the children of the other parts of the city. It said, in the health survey of children studying in the AIE centres, conducted by the Health Department of the UT administration only 3.27 per cent of those living in slum areas against 8-10 per cent of those coming from the urban areas, were found to have refractory errors.

“The health examination of AIE children was done to identify and diagnose medical, dental and eye ailments”, said Dr Paramjyoti, programme officer, School Health Programme, Chandigarh. The survey was undertaken in the light of such common occurring ailments as malnutrition, anemia and worm infestation. Special attention was paid to children having acute medical condition.

As many as 6,852 students of 88 AIE centres were medically examined. The teams carried out complete eye check-up of children for refractory errors and other eye ailments. Only 224 children (3.24 per cent) were found to have refractory errors.

Commenting upon the findings, Dr Paramjyoti said: “It is a matter of further study and I think it may be due to less exposure. They go to school late, view TV less, and eat whatever their mothers give them coated with mother’s affection and love.”



MC told to remove hoardings

Zirakpur, April 26
The Zirakpur Municipal Council president Narinder Sharma has asked the MC officials to remove the encroachments and hoardings along the roadside.

A resolution was passed at an MC meeting led by MC president Narinder Kumar Sharma and other councillors present at MC office here today.

During the meeting, NK Sharma said they got the complaints from the councillors and residents about the encroachments and have taken a strict note of the encroachment at Pabhat village, Baltana-Panchkula road and Kalgidhar road would be removed soon. He had asked the sanitary inspector to remove heavy vehicles like trolleys and trucks from the road side.

Sharma also stated that the local bodies department had sent the letter of new building bylaws. He said the new building bylaws were notified. — TNS



Councillors decide to stage walkout 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Councillors of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation have decided to stage a walkout from the Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) meeting scheduled for tomorrow till the authorities give satisfactory reply to their queries raised in the General House meeting a month back.

F&CC members unanimously decided that before taking up any development agenda in the committee meeting, the officials would first have to reply to all the queries.

Alleging the carelessness of the authorities, the members asked the horticulture department to submit a reply by tomorrow as to how Shivalikview Hotel was using the green belt adjoining to the hotel site without paying any tax to the MC.

The members pointed out that the management of the hotel was collecting booking money of the green belt, which belongs to the MC. They asked the department concerned to inform the committee whether the hotel management had taken permission from the MC for booking the site. Opposition councillors alleged in the pre-F&CC meeting here today that the officials were not following the directions of House for the execution of the developments works. BSP councillor Jatinder Bhatia raised the issue as to why the authorities had commenced development projects in Sector 17 with their departmental staff, which was earlier allotted to AK Sood, who had been blacklisted from the MC for next five years. 



Recession blues still haunt Sector 17 
Major brands shut their shops, move to other sectors 
Pradeep Sharma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Recession may be on its way out, but in the prime commercial centre of Chandigarh - Sector 17 - the recession blues continue to haunt multinational companies (MNCs) and big corporates.

If the recent flight of certain big companies from the sector is any indication, the recession trend continues unabated leaving the landlords and companies on tenterhooks. A footwear MNC, a garment MNC and a major Indian garment store have shut their outlets this month, indicating that Sector 17 is not the only preference for the major brands.

The cut-throat competition, initial investment, overhead expenditure and general recession are the major reason for certain big brand leaving the prime sector, JPS Kalra, general secretary of the Sector 17 Traders’ Association, said.

Till a couple of years back, Sector 17 was the Mecca for major corporates, particularly garment and footwear companies, with monthly rentals touching the all-time high of around Rs 20 lakh per month. However, the recession took its toll with at least a dozen companies closing their operations on the plea that business in the “high-rental” area was not a viable option.

Sources said a majority of those closing down their shops were franchisees or having minimum guarantee arrangements with the landlords. Under the minimum guarantee concept, the companies paid a minimum amount per month to the landlord in lieu of space.

However, these two concepts gave way to the revenue-sharing concept under which the landlords and the companies had financial stakes.

Major brands prefer Sectors 22, 34, 35 and Mani Majra markets that are emerging as major competitors to the Sector 17 market. With building-friendly bylaws, lower rents and ample parking space, the non-Sector 17 markets were a new hit with the corporate sector. This, coupled with affordable advertising campaigns in the local media and excellent connectivity within the city, were the other factors that scored in favour of other markets.

Why other markets?

n Lower rentals and ample parking space

n Better connectivity within the city

n Inhabitation of the southern sectors (Sector 47 onwards)

n More covered area under new building bylaws 



Threat to Fauna
Parrots losing home to e-Sampark centre!
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Thousands of parrots of the Sector 21 bird sanctuary will loose their home as the UT Administration has proposed to construct an e-Sampark centre in the sanctuary.

Sources said the administration has decided to construct an e-Sampark centre in the bird sanctuary adjacent to a tubewell located there.

An ardent bird lover, Harman Singh Sidhu, a resident of Sector 21, had taken up the issue with Advisor to the UT Administration Pardip Mehra and submitted a representation on March 23 to save the trees and birds. Harman in his letter asserted that parrots and 
other birds were very sensitive to any kind of disturbance to their habitat or any activity in that area.

UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar said the e-Sampark centre would be constructed at the said site, but at the same time they would ensure to cause minimum damage to the natural habitat of the birds.

“We will also try our best to make as much adjustments as possible not to disturb the birds. We are constructing 11 new e-Sampark centres in the city this year,” he told The Tribune.

“I developed a close association with the birds after I met with an accident almost 14 years ago that confined me to the bed for the rest of my life. I have been watching these birds for these many years leaving their homes in the morning and returning back in evening”, said Harman.

Harman in his letter also pointed out that the birds had earlier also been displaced from another cluster of trees, when the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh had installed high-rise lights in the park. Though the lights were finally removed but the damage had already been done.

Another resident, JC Verma flayed the authorities for their indifferent attitude saying there was no point left in declaring the park as a bird sanctuary, if the authorities did not want to maintain it.

“Every now and then they come out with a proposal to ruin this habitat of the birds. There was a pond in the sanctuary, which had dried up due to non-supply of water. Now they are cutting down trees to make space for the e-Sampark centre. Trees in the open ground adjacent to the sanctuary are also axed after being declared dead, while not paying attention to the fact that the birds had made holes in those trees to live”, lamented Verma.

“If the parrots are disturbed again, Chandigarh as a city, would be a big loser as they are our heritage and unique to the city. Extensive damage would be caused to the flora and fauna of the city due to this wrong planning”, said another resident of the area, while suggesting the authorities to look for an alternate site with better road connectivity and ample parking space.

The Chandigarh Tribune had highlighted the issue of installing high-rise lights in the sanctuary on February 17, 2008 after which the authorities replaced them with low-height lights. 



Encroachments galore in Mohali
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, April 26
Encroachments on greenbelts and public parks are increasing by the day in the town with offenders indulging in violations and irregularities with impunity.

As the GMADA authorities have failed to take deterrent action, offenders have turned not only greenbelts adjoining their houses into areas of private use but have also grabbed parts of public parks. Such encroachments numbering 97 are spread across various sectors. The situation is said to be the worst in Sectors 59, 60 and 71.

While parts of some parks have been encroached upon for growing vegetables, others are being used as lawns. Dhobis have also put up their jhuggis in some green areas while security personnel of senior government officials have put up tents in others.

It is learnt that the matter has been taken up seriously by the Executive Engineer of the horticulture wing of GMADA HS Dhaliwal, who wrote a letter to the Estate Officer about a week ago requesting him to take action against persons, who had been misusing public parks. Residents turned a deaf ear when junior officials asked the encroachers to stop misuse of the green areas.

As per a survey carried out by the horticulture wing, 25 greenbelts and parks were being misused in Sector 59, 19 in Sector 71, 17 in Sector 60, seven in Sector 64, six in Sector 65, five in Sector 70, three each in Sectors 53, 54 and 69, two each in Sectors 63, 68 and 56 and one each in Sectors 61, 55 and 48 - C.

In one case, a resident of Sector 69 had encroached about 75 per cent of the park and had grown vegetables there. In Sector 70 and 59, residents had encroached upon the entire green belt adjoining their houses.

In Sector 71, two residents had turned a part of the park into concrete floor while in Sector 65 a part of the park had been covered with tin roof. In other parks as well, more than 20 ft of the park area had been encroached upon.

Balbir Singh , Estate Officer, said that he had received the letter from the horticulture wing and would ask the enforcement wing to remove the encroachments in various greenbelts and parks in the town.



Power shortage irks residents of Kalka, Pinjore
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 26
Even as sufficient power supply is available for residents here, the other parts of this district including Kalka, Pinjore, Raipur Rani and Barwala were facing severe power cuts.

There is about 4 to 5 hours power cut in the main towns but the situation is worse in rural areas where the people have to face 10 to 12 hours power cut.

Satish Kumar, a resident of Batauli village in Raipur Rani said that he had attached an additional battery with the inverter but that too was of no help, as it did not get the required power supply for getting charged properly. He said that his daughter who was appearing in the BSc II exams did not get enough time to prepare for exams as there was power cuts during the nights too.

Madhusudan Gupta of Azad Medicos at Pinjore said that he had to buy 10 kg of ice daily to keep life saving drugs in the icebox, as the refrigerators were not functioning properly due to poor power supply.

Rakesh Jolly, XEN, said that they have taken up the matter with the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to get the land cleared from the Forest Department for setting up 220 kv sub-station in Mallah village under the World Bank scheme. He said presently the land was under litigation with the Forest Department.

He said that there was also plan to upgrade the 66 KV sub-station to 220 KV near Mallah village. He said the case was with the Planning Department and it was likely to be completed by next year, which would help in easing the situation.

Kalka MLA Pardeep Chaudhary said there was a proposal to set up a 120-KV sub-station near the Doon Village about three years back but the project was yet to see the light of the day. He said that the Congress government led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda had failed to provide round-the-clock power supply to the people in the state. He said that people were fed up with the false promises made by the Congress and were ready to throw it out of power in the next assembly elections.

Jolly said that work on the 220 KV station in Madanpur village was going on a war footing, as the work had already been awarded to a private company Asea Brown and Bowery Ltd. He said after the completion of this station the power situation in Raipur Rani and Barwala blocks would improve considerably. 



Oustee opposes laying of sewer
GMADA says it has clearance
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 26
Family of an original oustee of Chandigarh is fighting a losing battle with the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) to save his land in Sohana village that had been allotted to him following its displacement in 1950’s.

The immediate threat oustee Dr Sher Singh faces is not from another acquisition, but from wayward laying of a sewer being laid by the Engineering Department of GMADA close to the structure he had raised after seeking permission under the Periphery Control Act in 1976. For the past few days, the octogenarian has been knocking at the doors of GMADA officials to lay the sewer line in such a fashion that his structure was not damaged and his adjoining 2-kanal land was saved.

Sunil Kansal, Executive Engineer of GMADA, said the sewer line was being laid after getting clearance from the legal branch of GMADA. Another GMADA official claimed that the sewer line was being laid in a wayward manner as the structure of the oustee was coming in the way of the sewer line. The Senior Law Officer, Harmel Singh, said the land through which the sewer line was being laid was free from all legal encumbrances.

On April 20, the Engineering Department started land close to his house to lay the sewer line. A visit to the spot revealed that the wayward manner in which the sewer line was being laid would not only push up the costs of the work, it would pose threat to the adjoining structure. The digging work started after the Estate Officer and Senior Law Officer of GMADA visited the spot. “ I have been knocking at the door of the Chief Administrator and Estate officer of GMADA but to no anvil”, he added.

The point of contention between the oustee and GMADA is two kanal of land. While the GMADA has gone in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against an order of the Punjab Housing and Urban Development Secretary, wherein, the oustee had been given back the 2-kanal chunk of land. During the last hearing of the case on March 17, 2010, the court had given three weeks to both the parties to amicably solve the matter. The case is again coming up for hearing on May 3. “ Instead of solving the matter, GMADA arbitrarily started digging the land close to my structure,” said Singh.



Gill’s agenda: Right to contest for golfers
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
For Birinder Singh Gill, who was re-elected the president of the Chandigarh Golf Club here today, getting professional golfers the right to contest in the club elections will be the topmost agenda.

Revealing his roadmap for development of the club during his forthcoming term, Gill said, “My preference is to get the professional golfers the right to contest.”

“This time no stone will be left unturned for the purpose. The issue will be taken up at the EGM (extraordinary general body meeting) scheduled to be held on June 30 where we will try to resume the right to contest for our professional golfers,” said Gill.

“They are experts in their field and have the right to be in the managing committees,” he added.

There are about a dozen of professional golf members, including Jeev Milkha Singh, US Mundy, KS Brar and Simran Singh. But as per the club constitution, they cannot contest the club’s elections. Their right to contest was denied in 1995-96 and it is only with the required amendment in the constitution that their right can be restored. A resolution in this regard was also moved at the yesterday’s annual general body meeting.

Gill also said the overall development of the club was also high on the agenda. This includes the development of an in-house golf academy that came into being last year. In addition, he also favoured the formation of an annual “roll-of-plan” for the golfers. The club also plans to create a social network site on the pattern of “Facebook” to facilitate the members.

“The development of our recently established golf academy is the other project that would be in focus this term. We have top class greens and all facilities, which make our sporting arena one of the best in the country. Now we will equip the academy with all kinds of facilities to get the top class results,” asserted Gill.

On the issue of violation of code of conduct during the elections, Gill said the rules would be amended to give more teeth to the standing committee so that such menace would be dealt effectively in the future. “With required amendments, we would try to give more powers to the members of our standing committee to check the violations effectively,” said the president.



Mercury rises again, touches 39.7° C
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
After a few days of respite from the heat wave, maximum temperature in the city and neighbouring areas of Punjab and Haryana have started rising again.

The city today experienced a maximum temperature of 39.7 degrees Celsius, 2.1 degrees higher than yesterday’s 37.6 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature in the city also rose to 22.8 degrees from yesterday’s 22 degrees Celsius.

“The sky has cleared up and temperature will rise once again,” an official of Met department said. Terming the western disturbances and deficient rains as the cause behind the rising temperature, the Met official said there was only 0.4 mm of rainfall in February and no rainfall in March so far.

In Haryana, the day temperature rose with Hisar having a high of 44.3 degrees Celsius, five degrees above normal. Ambala and Karnal also experienced a hot day, registering respective highs of 40.6 degrees and 40.4 degrees Celsius.

In Punjab, Patiala experienced the day temperature of 42.1 degrees Celsius, four degrees above normal. The maximum temperature in Ludhiana was 41.2 degrees while in Amritsar it was 41.3 degrees Celsius.

The Met department has predicted mainly clear sky tomorrow with maximum and minimum temperatures around 40 degrees and 23 degrees Celsius, respectively.

Days would be partly cloudy in Haryana and Punjab. There is a possibility of dust storm and thunderstorm at isolated places in the region.

Power woes

The city has again started reeling under unscheduled power cuts. The demand for power had gone down following light showers a few days back. However, with the city witnessing almost no rain in the past 72 hours and the mercury rising, the demand of electricity has again increased. City residents also complain of frequent tripping and voltage fluctuation.



Consumer body condemns power tariff hike
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 26
The Consumer Protection and Awareness Council has condemned the Power Board for hiking tariff, which will prove to be a great financial burden on residents.

NS Gill, president of the association, said here today that a meeting of the council was held to discuss the power tariff hike and there was great resentment among residents as such a hike would adversely affect the common man, who was already hard pressed by the soaring prices of essential commodities.

He said that on the one hand, the Power Board had made life of residents miserable by imposing long power cuts and a hike in power tariff would punish them doubly. The government had promised after assuming power that Punjab would be a power surplus state within three years but the situation was getting from bad to worse. 



Liquor vends shut down

Mohali, April 26
The illegal vends that had sprung up in Zirakpur along Punjab’s border with UT have been closed down.

Last week, the opening of the illegal vends had been highlighted in these columns. The vends had been causing an annual loss of Rs 2.76 crore to the Punjab Excise Department. During the past few weeks (ever since the excise policy for 2010-2011 came in force from April 1), liquor contractors in Zirakpur had blatantly opened 18-liquor vends against the 12 allotted vends by the District Excise and Taxation Department.

Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mohali, Baldeep Kaur, said during a visit to the area she noticed one vend. An action is being taken against the contractor. — TNS



Bank donates ambulance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
The State Bank of India today donated an ambulance to the Indian Red Cross Society. Rita Bhattacharyya, wife of SK Bhattacharyya, managing director and CCRO, SBI, handed over the keys of the ambulance to Ashok Behal, secretary, Indian Red Cross Society.

According to sources, the van will be used for the welfare of the patients, down-trodden people of the society and people affected due to natural calamities. Kavita Sehgal, president and Taposhi Bhaduri, vice-president, SBI Ladies Club, were also present. Behal applauded the tasks of the Community Services Banking being undertaken by the bank.



Census control room
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
For sorting out queries related to house listing, the National Population Register has set up a control room in the Office of Director of Census Operations, Chandigarh, at the Janganana Bhawan, Plot No. 2-B, Sector-19, Madhya Marg.

People can contact the control room dialling the toll-free No. 1800-180-2039 of the directorate, which will remain in operation from 7 am to 9 pm on all days till May 31, 2010, according to a press note issued here today. 



Punjabi journalist honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Mehar Singh Rawel Memorial Charitable Trust today honoured Punjabi journalist Kirat Singh Inqulabi, Editor of Jehlam, Srinagar, at an award function at Vivek High School.

The award carries Rs 15,000 cash and a citation as the best “Punjabi Patrakar”. Besides, Guru Harikrishan Educational Society secretary AS Rawel also presented another Mehar Singh Rawel Memorial Award of Rs 1,100 to Dr Inderjit Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, for securing his PhD on the topic “Giani Dit Singh- Jiwan Ate Vichar” in 2009.



Students apprise DUI of staff crunch
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Students of Danwantari Ayurvedic College, Sector 46, affiliated to Panjab University, today met the Dean University Instructions (DUI) regarding faculty crunch at their college.

Nearly 40 students gathered at the university gate 1 today when security stopped them.

The students then called up a senior university official, who directed the security to permit 10-12 students to meet the DUI regarding their plea.

“All efforts of the students to plead to the college authorities about the staff crunch fell on deaf ears and we now want the university to intervene in the matter,” said a final year student.

Meanwhile, the DUI could not be reached for comments, although director public relations (DPR) Sudhir Kumar said, “The university would make efforts to solve the problem of the students if its in PU’s purview.”



Errors in online form will be fixed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 26
Amidst confusion among students on the process of filling up form for UGC’s National Eligibility Test (NET), the UGC today informed the Punjabi Department at Panjab University that any errors in the online filling up of forms by students could be rectified on the manual form at the centre in PU.

According to sources, the instructions have been given after the New Delhi bureau of the UGC-NET received several calls from students regarding the issue. However, the three key columns filled up by students online regarding their subject, category and test centre will not change.

Meanwhile, the department is getting more than 500 calls each day at the helpline number due to the confusion among students about the procedure of filling the forms, said an official.

The last date for getting a bank challan issued expired on April 26, whereas the final date for submitting the forms is April 30.



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