C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


SDM’s brush with road rage
Youths smash windscreen of car, three held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
SDM (East) Abhishek Dev and his wife had a harrowing time late last night following an incident of road rage when three youngsters in their mid-20s smashed the windscreen of the car the couple was travelling in on the road separating Sectors 9 and 10.

The SDM, an IAS officer, alleged that the youth had threatened to kill him. He alleged that his wife sustained injuries from the broken pieces of the windscreen.

Acting on the complaint, the police has registered a case of wrongful restraint, causing injuries, damaging property and criminal intimidation and arrested Amrinder Singh and Jagwinder Singh, both residents of Sirsa, and Damanjit Singh, a resident of Sector 8.

The accused, all of who are unemployed, have been remanded in judicial custody. Amrinder Singh is believed to be a law graduate.

In his complaint, the SDM alleged that he was driving his Honda City Car (PB-08-AH-0635) around midnight. A Fiat Palio (PB-10-BB-7807) overtook their car and then stopped midway ahead of his car without any warning. As a result, the SDM’s car banged into the rear of the Palio.

Narrating the incident, the SDM said one of the occupants of the car began hurling abuses at him. Before he (SDM) could react, another youth came out of the car with a baseball bat. He directed his fellow driver to block the way of the SDM’s car and at the same time smashed its windowpane with his bat.

Shocked at the incident, the SDM’s wife started calling the police.

Meanwhile, the man holding the bat shouted at the SDM saying, “No one can save you from me. I will kill you.” He also tried to drag the SDM out of the car, but the latter immediately started his car and drove off. The assailants tried to block his way but he managed to dodge them, said a police official.

The SDM then moved towards the Rose Garden roundabout (Matka Chowk) and saw in the rear view mirror of his car that the assailants were chasing him. They took a U-turn and moved towards Sector 9 on seeing a police vehicle. Seeing the violation, the police gave chase to the offenders and the SDM, too, followed them in his car.

The police tried to stop the offenders, who, instead dodged the police and drove in the inner market of Sector 9. However, the miscreants managed to give them the slip on the road separating Sectors 8 and 9. In the process, the SDM’s wife informed the police control room about the incident.



Former cricketer assaulted

Chandigarh, June 26
Former Ranji player and cricket coach Rajeev Nayyar was assaulted by unidentified persons near his residence in Sector 35 early this morning.

The police said the assailants intercepted Nayyar’s car, dragged him out and attacked him with hockey sticks and baseball bats. He sustained injuries on his head, legs and chest. 

Nayyar, in his early 40s, was on his way to a gym in his Maruti Swift car. He was rushed to the PGI where his condition is stated to be out of danger. The SHO of the Sector 36 police station, Anokh Singh, said a passer-by informed the police at 5.30 am that a man was lying injured near his car in Sector 35. The police reached the spot and found Nayyar writhing in pain. The police said Nayyar had a dispute with his landlord, Shubash Sharma, who is a property dealer. Preventive action had been taken against both the parties in the past.

The SHO said they were yet to record Nayyar’s statement as doctors had not declared him fit for the same. He said that Subhash was not in the city for the for the past one week. A case under Sections 323, 34, and 341 of the IPC has been registered against unidentified persons. DSP (South) Vijay Kumar said Nayyar had a dispute with his landlord. He had been staying in the house for the past 18 years. — TNS

Figures in Guinness Book

Nayyar’s name figured in the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest stay at the wicket in 1999 when he batted for 1,015 minutes and scored 271 against Jammu and Kashmir. He broke Hanif Mohammad's record of 970 minutes at the wicket, who had scored 337 runs against West Indies in 1957-58. He also captained the Himachal Pradesh team and retired in 2008.



Unique way to pamper guests
Outstanding amount not recovered since 1983
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
When it comes to pampering guests, the UT administration seems to be literally following the old saying - “Atithi Devo Bhava” - meaning guests are like God.

No wonder, the UT’s hospitality department has not cared to recover a pending amount of Rs 9.3 lakh from its “guests” who used the services of the UT guesthouse in Sector 6 for the last 26 years - from 1983 till March 2009.

This despite the fact that the provisions laid down in the guesthouse manual say that all charges payable on account of rent and loss due to breakages need to be paid before an occupant checks out of the guesthouse. The rules don’t provide credit facility to occupants of the guesthouse.

However, despite audit objections year after year, as disclosed under an information sought under the RTI Act by a city resident, RK Garg, it was yet again pointed out in the audit report of the last fiscal that Rs 9.3 lakh were still pending from officials of the UT administration, Punjab and Haryana. Inexplicably, the department has declined to furnish a reply to the queries raised in the audit.

The hospitality department made a blunder by paying the electricity bill twice for the same period amounting to Rs 2,95,026. That’s not all, the department even paid a penalty of Rs 28,550 due to wrong payment. The audit report points out that the confusion emerged in the absence of maintenance of register for exercising control on payment of rent rates and taxes by the department.

Interestingly, as per the audit report, the department has paid Rs 1,37,343 as service charges at a rate of 5 per cent to a registered co-operative marketing-cum-processing society which the audit report terms as “unjustified and irregular”. Incidentally, the hospitality department has been receiving its supply of kitchen raw material from this society.

The audit report points out that there is nothing on record to show that the department has to pay 5 per cent extra as service charges to the society.



Youths open fire at police
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 26
Panic gripped the crowded Sector 7 market when a group of car-borne youths, suspected of snatching, fired shots at a police team from Mani Majra here this evening.

According to sources, the police team headed by SHO Dilsher Singh, had been pursuing the suspects from Sector 29 in Chandigarh. The suspects violated traffic rules before entering the Sector 7 market from the B-road. They then fired gunshots and gave the police team the slip. No one was injured in the incident.

The sources said the incident occurred around 9.45 pm and the Hyundai Accent car that the accused were using bore a fake registration number plate.


Terror Threat
More teeth for UT’s quick reaction team
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Admitting that the city was “on the terrorist radar”, the UT administration today announced the strengthening of the quick reaction team (QRT) of the Chandigarh Police.

The administration in a press release issued today said it had decided to increase the present strength of the QRT, which was constituted after the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack to counter any terror attack here.

A senior police officer in the Chandigarh Police said a QRT had earlier been constituted during the days of terrorism in Punjab in the late 1980s.

“Chandigarh has been on the radar of terrorists. Recently, disturbing reports have come in hinting at the presence of some suspected terrorists in the neighbouring states. This prompted us to increase the strength of the QRT commandos and equip them better,” the SSP was quoted in the release.

On the other hand, UT SP (traffic and security) HS Doon, who currently holds the temporary charge as SSP, today said there was no specific information of a terrorist attack in the city.

He, however, added that they were exercising extra caution during the Commonwealth Games Baton relay in the city.

The release further stated that the commandos were being strengthened with manpower and equipped with latest firearms.

The UT administration has decided to not only increase the strength of the QRT from 45 to 100 commandos, trained on the pattern of the National Security Guards (NSG), but also arm them with latest sophisticated weapons to stop hi-tech terrorists from having the better of them in a given situation,” the release added.

The commandos will be provided with two armoured vehicles costing Rs 50 lakh each.

They will be armed with 100 AK 47 assault rifles, 100 MP5 pistols and night vision devices.

The commandos will also be provided with special kits currently available with NSG commandos.

The QRT personnel were being trained in making dynamic entry into a building; dealing with active shooting situations; rescuing entrapped hostages and residents in the custody of armed people; coping with cases of vehicle and bus assaults; and a variety of special threat and high-risk incidents besides bomb detection, the press release said.



Price Rise
A life far more expensive
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
The hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and LPG has come as a shock to the common man. A cross section of the people The Tribune talked to said this would upset their monthly budget. They said the hike would hit every section of the society. This would also have an effect on the other sectors like transport, commodities, industry, trade and business, they said.

Since the petroleum products are used in every sector, the impact is going to be widespread. The industry maintains that it will further add to the input costs, which will have to be passed on to the consumer.

Anirudh Aggarwal, who owns a rolling mill, observed that the hike would have a direct impact on the cost of production. “Diesel bills for generators are already too high as we have to generate our own electricity during power cuts and now with this hike, the bills are going to rise further, pushing up the cost of production,” he said.

The farming sector will also be equally hit since the generators used by the farmers run on diesel only and an increase in the diesel prices means increased input costs. The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has already opposed the hike saying it will hit the farmers who are not able to get the desired value of their produce. A BKU spokesperson said they would launch an agitation against the fuel price hike.

The transport sector, the main consumer of diesel, will be the worst hit. The All-India Motor Transport Congress has called an emergency meeting on July 12 to take stock of the situation. The president of the Congress, Charan Singh Lohara, told The Tribune that the leading industrial houses were insisting on decontrolling the oil sector. “There has not been any significant hike in the prices of crude oil so there was no need to hike the prices of fuel in the country,” he said.

At the same time, both industry and economists have warned that the move would fan inflation, which is running at 10.16 per cent, with food price inflation even higher.

"This move shows how insensitive the government is towards the plight of the common man," senior BJP leader Yash Pal Mahajan said.

Rohit Sharma, an employee in the bank, said: “As if the rise in the prices of essential commodities was not enough, the hike in the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas will further increase our monthly expenditure.” Sharma, who owns a two-wheeler, said given the hike in the prices of petrol, his average monthly petrol bill will increase by at least Rs 300.

Sukhjinder Kaur, a college lecturer, observed: “The rich who drive cars will not mind paying a few hundred rupees extra for petrol or cooking gas, but it is the working class that will feel the pinch.”

Ramesh Kumar, an economics teacher in a private college, said: “It is not only the rich who will be affected by the rise in the prices of petrol. It is the middle class and the lower middle class who will be the worst hit as they mainly drive two-wheelers, which run on petrol. Similarly, they will have to bear the brunt of the increase in the prices of cooking gas as well.”

However, a section of city residents justify the government’s move to hike prices of petro products, saying petrol, diesel and cooking gas are already heavily subsidized and government has every right to increase the prices from time to time. Neelaish Gupta, a businessman, said: “Although the hike is not welcome, the government does not increase the prices, it only cut down the subsidy. He said as the income keeps on increasing, the prices of commodities would increase.



Jan Aushadhi outlet at GMCH-32 in July
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
After much delay, the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, has finally started the process for setting up a Jan Aushadhi (people’s medicine) outlet, where generic medicines will be available at half the price of branded medicines.

Though the announcement to set up the outlet was made over a year ago, the process for opening the same has just been initiated and it’s likely to be operational by the first week of July.

This will be the second Jan Aushadhi outlet in the city, the first being at the PGI, which was opened in November.

Generic medicines of popular antibiotics, painkillers and cough and cold medication will be available at affordable prices at the GMCH’s retail counter. For instance, anti-allergic drug Citrizine (10 mg), which is usually sold at Rs 20 per strip by local chemists, will be available at Rs 2.75 at the Jan Aushadhi outlet.

Similarly, a paracetamol strip, prescribed for fever, will be available for Rs 2.45 at the store.

Dr Vipin Kaushal, medical superintendent, GMCH-32, said: “We have got the approval from the union ministry of chemical and fertiliser recently and have tied up with the UT Red Cross to run the shop in the shopping complex of ‘D’ block.”

Sachin Sharma, project manager of the UT Red Cross, said: “We have applied for the necessary drugs licence and once received we will open the outlet.”

He said the outlet was expected to be operational by the first week of July.

On the delay in opening the store, Dr Kaushal said the approval for it was received only a few months ago.

He said they subsequently tied up with the Red Cross and everything now had been put on the fast track.

However, those privy to the process attribute the delay to the indecisiveness of the administration to finalise the location of the outlet.



MC crackdown on dhobis
135 structures removed from service lanes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Under a special drive launched by the enforcement department of the Chandigarh municipal corporation, at least 135 temporary structures of “dhobis” were removed from the service lanes of the city today. In most sectors, service lanes have been encroached upon by local “dhobis”, majority of whom use these to iron clothes.

The drive comes in the wake of a report, “Encroachment in service lanes go unabated”, published in these columns on June 14.

The enforcement department had constituted special teams for all sectors where service lanes existed to remove encroachments.

Sources in the corporation said recently a meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mayor Anu Chatrath and attended by MC Commissioner in which the enforcement department was instructed to remove all kinds of encroachments in service lanes of the city.

During the meeting, it was contended that “dhobis”, being public service providers, should not be considered as encroachers. The officials gave the plea that “dhobis” should be asked to shift from service lanes to some other part of the sector as monsoon was approaching and there was a need to clean the service lanes.

Meanwhile, in another drive conducted late last night, encroachments were removed from various “ahatas” (taverns) of Sector 22.

Officials of the enforcement department said instructions had been issued by the Mayor to conduct such drives as these were creating nuisance for residents residing near these establishments during late night hours.



City woman’s murder case cracked
Tribune News Service

Kharar, June 26
The police today cracked the murder case of a woman whose mutilated body was found near Bar Majra village, adjoining the Balongi area of Kharar, on Monday.

The woman was later identified as Nasima, a resident of Sector 56, Chandigarh. She was identified by her husband, an auto-rickshaw driver.

Police officials investigating the case said the accused had been identified as Vahajuddin, owner of a bred shop in the Maloya area of Chandigarh. He was arrested today near Chandigarh.

Vahajuddin had illicit relations with the woman. He decided to eliminate her after he learned that she had developed relations with some other men as well.

The accused offered her a ride in his van and gave her a cold drink spiked with intoxicants. The victim fell unconscious after consuming the cold drink.

The accused then strangulated her and dumped her body after disfiguring her face by repeatedly hitting it with bricks near Balongi.

The police said the case was cracked while recording statements of relatives and family members of the woman.

The accused will be produced in court tomorrow.



40 more low-floor AC buses soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
Buoyed by its all-India second ranking for good occupancy rate, Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) is all set to induct 40 new low-floor air-conditioned buses.

The new air-conditioned buses will have more seats in comparison to the existing fleet of AC buses. The floor of buses can be lowered to touch the road so that those with medical problems can board the bus with ease.

Even those using wheelchairs will be able to board these buses along with their wheelchair, said CTU director ML Sharma.

While 20 buses would reach the city by Monday, the remaining ones would be inducted next month, he added.

According to the ministry of road transport and highway and research wing, Government of India, CTU buses have an overwhelming occupancy rate of 92 per cent.

Currently, the occupancy rate of the CTU buses in the city stands at 87 per cent, while outside of the city it is 63 per cent. The rate keeps varying on day-to-day basis.

CTU charges a fare of Rs 5 for a journey up to 5 km in ordinary buses, while the bus fare for distances over 5 km is Rs 10.

For journey in AC buses, the fare has been set at Rs 10 up to 5 km and Rs 15 beyond 5 km.



Trains rescheduled

Chandigarh, June 26
Northern Railway (NR) has announced change in the timings of the some trains in the Ambala division with effect from July 1.

According to the railway sources, the Lucknow-Chandigarh Sadbhavana Express (2231) will reach Chandigarh railway station at 9.55 am instead of 10.15 am.

Allahabad -Chandigarh Unchahar Express (4217) will arrive here at 10.15 am instead of 9.55 am.

The arrival timing of the Chennai-Chandigarh Express (2687) has been changed from 4.20 am to 4.30 am.

Similarly, the Nangal Dam-Ambala passenger train will arrive here at 5.30 pm instead of 5.55 pm, while the afternoon Chandigarh-Ambala passenger train will now depart from the Chandigarh railway station at 1.35 pm instead of 1.20 pm.

Besides, the Barmer-Chandigarh Express (4888) will arrive at 5 am here instead of 5.10 am. — TNS



Power Bill Collection on Doorstep
Facility to encompass entire Mohali
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, June 26
Mohali power consumers can now pay their electricity bills right on their doorstep, thanks to a new scheme launched by the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd.

Consumers will now be able to hand over payments to power employees visiting their homes for issuing on-the-spot bills.

Payments up to Rs 1,000 can be given in cash and for any amount through cheque. Consumers will be given receipts for the payments received by the employees.

Though the scheme has been launched recently, it will take around a month’s time to become fully effective, as the power corporation is giving a cushion to its employees to settle down with the work of power billing before adding an additional responsibility of payment collection.

According to sources, the work related to on-the-spot billing has been given on contract to KLG Systel. Bank guarantees have been taken from the company by the corporation.

The contractor has been bound to collect at least 15 per cent of the bills on the doorstep, failing which he will be fined. However, if he manages to exceed the target, he will be given an incentive of 20 paise per bill.

Currently, the employees are collecting payments only on the request of the consumer but gradually the latter will be asked to avail themselves of the facility.

The corporation is expecting 99.5 per cent accuracy in the issuance of bills from the contractor and if he fails to achieve the desired results, penalties will be imposed.

On-the-spot power billing was introduced in the town around a year ago by the erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board but was limited only to Phases I to VI of residential and industrial areas. The scheme is now set to cover the entire the town.

It is learnt that a similar contract has been given by the corporation in Ludhiana and Khanna.

The contractor here has been asked to get experienced hands from the two areas to ensure smooth bill collection here.

As different types of power meters have been installed in various parts of the town, it adversely affects the efficiency of employees.

Once these employees get used to the new system, the bill collection work will start soon after.

Power consumers of areas where on-the-spot billing is being introduced now will see employees carrying small, portable bill-issuing machines.

Appropriate software has been fed into the machines and the bill will be given to the consumer immediately after the reading of the power meter is taken.

The new system, apart from eliminating disputes between the corporation and consumers over meter readings, will lead to timely distribution of bills.

Consumers will get around 15 days to pay their bills.

Earlier, the power consumption data of Mohali consumers was sent to the Regional Computer Centre, Chandigarh, from where the bills were generated after around 15 days. Bills at times used to reach consumers late, giving them little time to clear the dues.



Stress on curbing vector-borne diseases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 26
An anti-malaria camp was organised by the National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme at Palsora village here yesterday.

Dr Amarjit Kaur, senior regional director, health and family welfare, inaugurated the camp. She stress the need for involvement of community in curbing vector-borne diseases and urged residents to play an active role in the prevention and control activities launched by the department.

Dr GC Bansal, assistant director malaria-cum-state surveillance officer (IDSP), Chandigarh, said basic healthcare facilities were available on the doorstep of residents free of cost. Those suffering from fever should get checked at the nearest hospital/dispensary. Also, residents should take precautionary measures to prevent and control water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea and use safe drinking water, he added.

A demonstration on various stages of mosquitoes was also given to create awareness among the masses. He added that the village had been adopted as project foundation village under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

Special activities will be carried out to make it a model village. Councillor Manjit Singh Chauhan highlighted the activities being carried out by the staff during the “anti-malaria month”.

Dr Amarjit Kaur, Dr GC Bansal and the area councillor later flagged off various teams to carry out various activities as part of the camp.

Teams were deployed to educate masses, take anti-larval measures, distribute chlorine tablets and check coolers in the area.

Surveillance teams collected 273 slides from different areas and examined these on the spot. Those suffering from fever were given presumptive treatment for control of malaria.



ZP Polls
Licence holders told to surrender arms
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 26
In view of the enforcement of election code of conduct due to the forthcoming zila parishad elections, the district administration has directed owners of licensed weapons to immediately deposit their arms at the nearest police stations for the elections period.

Talking to The Tribune, Superintendent of Police Maneesh Chaudhary said the general public had been informed to surrender their licensed weapons to avoid any untoward situation during the elections. He said strict action would be taken against those violating the norms.

Chaudhary, however, clarified that security guards of banks and jewellery shops have been exempted from this order.

He said, “Bank managements and jewellery shop owners will have to provide the details of security guards, including their identification, residence proof and the type of arms they possess.”

He said security guards could display the arms only outside the banks or showrooms. He added that they could carry the arms to their homes after covering them properly.

The SP said additional forces would be deployed in and around the sensitive and hypersensitive areas. Additional patrol parties would be pressed into service for surveillance round the clock. The police parties in plain clothes, along with the CID and intelligence, had been asked to be on alert and keep a close watch on suspicious elements.



SAD protests fuel price hike
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 26
The local wing of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) held a rally in protest against the hike in the prices of petroleum products.

The protesters raised slogans against the government and demanded that the hike should be rolled back as it would adversely affect the common man who was already hard pressed due to sharp rise in the prices of essential commodities. The protesters loaded a scooter and a gas cylinder on a cart and took out a procession in different parts of the town.

General secretary of the local wing of the SAD (Urban) Raja Kamwarjot Singh said the hike in the prices of the petroleum products was unjustified. The Central government, which claimed that it protected the interests of the “aam admi” was wrong as the present hike would adversely affect every person, including those belonging to the economically weaker sections.



Chandigarh on radar of terrorists: SSP

Chandigarh, June 26
Chandigarh SSP SS Srivastava said here today that the city has been on the "radar of terrorists".

The Chandigarh administration has decided to induct more commandos in the Quick Reaction Team (QRT) constituted in the wake of the 26/11 attacks.

The UT has decided to increase the QRT strength from 45 to 100 commandos, trained on the pattern of the National Security Guards.

"Recently, disturbing reports have come in hinting at the presence of some suspected terrorists in the neighbouring states following which this decision has been taken," he said.

Srivastava said they would be given two bullet and grenade-proof vehicles worth Rs 50 lakh each. — PTI 



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