C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC elections may be advanced to Oct
Election panel factoring in MCD polls next year
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The UT administration is likely to advance elections to the Chandigarh municipal corporation by two months from December as scheduled to October this year. According to sources, preliminary discussions between officials of the administration and the state election commission for the National Capital Territory and the union territory of Chandigarh were held in the city earlier this month.

Considering that elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) are scheduled to be held early next year, the election panel said it was finding it difficult to hold elections simultaneously to the Chandigarh MC.

Holding elections to the civic body in New Delhi is a massive electoral exercise. There are currently 272 wards in the MCD and a proposal to increase that number to 408 in next year’s elections had already been cleared by the Delhi cabinet.

The election commission would require at least six months to prepare for the MCD elections, including delimitation of wards and preparation of the voters list. A similar exercise will have to be done for the Chandigarh MC, whose current wards numbering 26 are set to be increased following the proposed delimitation. “Obviously the election commission can’t take up two electoral assignments simultaneously. That’s the reason the Chandigarh MC polls could be held by October”, the sources added.

The sources, however, contended a consensus needed to be worked out on the issues with various stakeholders - the UT administration, the political parties and the election commission. One view was that October was otherwise a “pleasant” month to hold the elections rather than in chilly December.

Even if the elections are held in October, the newly elected councillors will take oath of office with effect from January 1, 2012 along with polls to elect the city mayor.

Crucial meeting today

The move to have early elections to the Municipal Corporation (MC) in October/November comes up for heated discussion at the meeting tomorrow, as councillors, cutting across party lines, say that they were not taken into confidence. The matter was discussed at a meeting held at the UT Guest House on April 29 under the chairmanship of the state election commissioner Rakesh Mehra and attended by Deputy Commissioner Brijendra Singh, who is also acting as the Commissioner of the MC.

Political fallout

If the Chandigarh MC elections are held earlier than scheduled it would entail a reduced tenure of about seven months for current mayor Ravinder Pal Singh. Polls in October would mean the election “model code of conduct” would come into effect by August, giving about two months to the Congress party-ruled civic body to undertake development projects.


  • Elections to Municipal Corp of Delhi scheduled to be held early next year may necessitate advancing Chandigarh MC polls
  • Consensus with political parties has to be worked out
  • Proposal already doing rounds of administrative circles



Workers’ stir hits patients hard at GMSH-16
Not paid salary for long n 100 rounded up; bailed out later
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
Hundreds of patients were held to ransom at Government Multi-speciality Hospital, (GMSH), Sector 16, for over six hours today as 150 contractual employees, including ward boys, ward attendants, security guards, sweepers went on a strike yet again, which turned ugly this afternoon, with over 100 employees being arrested and eventually bailed out.

The employees abandoned work and shouted slogans demanding timely salaries and immediate release of arrears even as chaos ruled the scene both at the emergency and OPD.

“My son fell from a scooter and sustained serious injuries. I brought him here in an auto, but on reaching the hospital, I learnt about the strike. I had to take the auto driver’s help to put him on a stretcher and take him inside. The doctor their kept on calling for a ward boy, but nobody turned up,” said Suman Garhia, a resident of Mauli Colony.

“Strike has become a usual feature here. Ward boys, who were supposed to be on duty, went on a strike. My husband, who is admitted here complained of breathlessness, but there was nobody to help him. I had to rush and get the nurse, who was attending to some other patient,” said Anjum.

The employees marched towards the office of Medical Superintendent. The protesters tried to push their way to the office, but the police arrested a around 100 persons, including 78 men and 22 women, under the Preventive measures. They were later bailed out.

Recent strikes by contractual workers at GMSH - 16

  • February 3, 2011, strike by contractual workers
  • February 3, 2011, strike by OT technicians
  • March 16, 2011, strike by contractual workers

We are not insensitive but what about our lives? We don’t get our salaries in time, our arrears have not been released so far. Following our strike in March, we were assured of action, but nothing happened. We have families to feed. Sonu, union leader

The issue is not between us and these employees, but between their contractor and them. As per norms, we have nothing to do with their salaries or arrears, but we will talk to the contractor. Hospital authorities



CBSE Class XII result by May 23, Class X by May 25
6,000 students opted for school-conducted exam in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which had intended to declare the class X result on May 20, is now expected to do so by May 25, while the class XII result would be declared by May 23.

Even as the Board officials claim it to be “normal”, sources reveal that the result compilation has proven to be a bit tedious, as over 6 lakh students across the country have opted out of the Board exams and appeared in school-conducted examination, whose figure stands at 6,000 in the city.

While their schools evaluated these students, the grades were uploaded on the central software, as they will be getting their certificates from the CBSE.

“ It is a teething problem. Even though the number of students who had opted for school exams was quite less, still it is our first time. We had little less students, so we thought we might declare the result before class XII. Initially, May 16 was the expected date, which was then shifted to May 20, but now we will be able to do it by May 25 only. Their evaluation has come from schools and we need to compile it all together,” said a senior CBSE official from Delhi.

Meanwhile, the Board has a reason to rejoice, as city school students, though anxious about the results, are stress-free.

“The helpline is getting many calls all about the date of results, but nobody has still approached us for pre-exam stress or depression, which makes grading system a success,” said Madhu Bahal, Principal, KBDAV Sector 7 and counsellor CBSE.

The result will be available on http://cbseresults.nic.in/

Panic grips students

Panic gripped hundreds of class X students on Thursday, with SMSes informing release of results on some websites.

The students, who were unable to access their result, rang up helplines, only to be informed that the result had been put off to May 25.



Cable co vanishes after vigilance raid
Employees fail to appear before police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
A day after the vigilance cell of the UT police conducted raids at Sector 34 where underground cables were being laid allegedly without permission, the cable company did a vanishing act and failed to appear before the police here today.

The police had yesterday raided the place where cables were being laid by Digi Cables for TV and Internet networking opposite the radio station at Sector 34. When asked to show permission to lay cables, the company employees had sought time till today morning and had told the police that they would come to the vigilance cell and show them the permission orders.

However, they failed to appear and the company’s machine was found missing from the spot where the police had conducted the raid yesterday.

The police said they were investigating the matter and no case had been registered so far.

Sources in the Vigilance Cell said, the police has checked records of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation and found that while the company had applied for permission, the MC was yet to grant them permission to lay cables in Sectors 33, 34 and Hallo Majra.

Sources also said laying of the cables without permission followed by the vanishing act of the company employees today may blow the lid of a larger scam, involving officials of the Municipal Corporation as well. The issue is likely to be raised at the MC house meeting tomorrow.



After 25 years, police files chargesheet in housing society fraud
Case which involved a Delhi resident as the prime accused was registered in 1986
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
The UT police today filed a chargesheet in a 25-year-old case of Housing Society Fraud registered way back in 1986. The case, which involves illegal allotment of houses by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) and involves a Delhi resident as the prime accused, was re-opened in September last year by the vigilance cell of the UT police.

The police has also arrested the prime accused in the case, while a co-accused has been declared a proclaimed offender by court.

The case, which was registered in July 1986, was gathering dust all these years and was marked “untraced” by the police in 1988. However, it was reopened following the reopening of another case dating back to 2001, which involved the same accused and had exactly the same modus operandi.

The case was registered after the UT police received information that a house under a scheme meant for economically weaker sections had been illegally allotted to a person named Ashok Kumar, who had impersonated a person identified as Vivek Kumar, who was the actual allottee. It was found that Vivek Kumar had died in an accident in 1982, but his application for allotment remained under consideration with the CHB.

After the draw of lots was held in 1985, Vivek Kumar was allotted a plot, and the CHB officials, in alleged connivance with one Tarsem Lal Verma, allotted the flat to Ashok Kumar who also forged Vivek Kumar’s signatures. He was allotted a house in Sector 41. Tarsem Lal, who recently retired as a gazetted officer with the Ministry of Defence, had prepared forged documents thus helping Ashok procure illegal possession of the house, the police had said.

What led police to reopen such an old case

In 2001, another case was registered by the Vigilance Cell of the UT police after Gandherv Sain, a resident of Khuda Lahora, complained to the police that an imposter was residing in the house allotted to him by the CHB in 1982 under the Rural Housing Scheme and that he was the actual allottee. Investigations proved Sain’s allegations true and the police booked Tarsem Lal Verma as accused in the case for forging documents. When Tarsem Lal was arrested, he disclosed that he committed a similar fraud in 1986 too. The police searched old files and the case was reopened after the police moved an application in court.

The case, dating back to 2001 too, was marked untraced as the police failed to gather further clues and could not even track the imposter who was residing in place of Sain. After the police filed the cancellation report, the court of then additional and district judge Raj Rahul Garg rejected the cancellation report and ordered it to be reopened in 2008. On the re-investigation of this case, the UT police stumbled upon Tarsem Verma and arrested him from Delhi and thus found his involvement in the case dating back to 1986, the chargesheet of which was filed today.



Motorcyclist killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
A 25-year-old motorcyclist was killed in Sector 7 here this evening. The victim, Jai Parkash, a resident of Sector 21, was going towards Mani Majra when his bike hit a woman, following which he lost balance. Jai Parkash fell on road and sustained a grievous head injury.

He was wearing a helmet, which was completely crushed in the mishap. He was rushed to hospital in Sector 16, where he was declared brought dead.




Professor RC SobtiSobti gets rank of Col

Professor RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, was conferred the rank of Colonel in the National Cadet Corps (NCC) today at his office for the remaining duration of his office as the VC. Major-General MS Virk, Additional Director General (ADG) of NCC for Panjab, Haryana, HP and UT conferred the rank, saying, “I hope that VC in uniform will further boost the morale of the students to enroll as NCC cadets and motivate teachers to volunteer for selection as Associate NCC Officers.”

DSP gets promotion

Ashish Kapoor, the DSP from Punjab who joined the UT police on deputation last week, was promoted by the Punjab Government to the rank of SP today. Speculation is now rife whether Ashish, whose last posting was as staff officer with the DGP Punjab, will remain with the UT police on deputation as a DSP for three years or will prefer going back to his parent cadre where he will assume a higher rank.

Shera removed

Shera, the Common Wealth Games (CWG) mascot, which was installed at the Verka Chowk in Phase VI, Mohali, has been finally “laid to rest” in the record room of the Phase I police station.

The decision to remove the mascot from the spot was taken after the local administration found that once again someone had damaged the mascot’s tail. Not ready to go through the embarrassment that it faced last year when the mascot was stolen and then recovered, the local administration decided to remove it as the games were over. — TNS


Admn to get richer by Rs 35 crore
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
While any announcement regarding petrol price hike is enough to scare the common man, but for a change this has brought “joy” to the Chandigarh Administration. The reason is with every hike in the prices, the UT Administration becomes richer by crores of rupees.

According to petrol dealers, the latest hike of Rs 5 on petrol price is expected to result in an additional earning of Rs 35 crore to the present revenue earning of over Rs 125 crore.

The income of the administration from various taxes, including VAT, central sales tax and motor spirit tax was around Rs 125 crore in the last fiscal, as they had earned Rs 7.85 per litre on petrol sale when the rate was Rs 47.14 per litre.

With petrol now priced at Rs 64.17 per litre, the UT Administration is expected to earn Rs 10.69 per litre. On diesel, the UT Administration earns Rs 4.25 per litre.

“The hike makes not only the common man uncomfortable, but also causes a dip in sales. But it is the administration and the state government which are in a win-win situation each time,” said office-bearers of the Chandigarh Petrol Dealers Association.

The UT Administration has been charging 20 per cent as VAT on petrol while on diesel the charge is 12.5 per cent, which is the highest in the region as compared to the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

“Why don’t the administration cut down the VAT to bring the petrol and diesel price low? It will not only give some relief to the common man, but also boost the sale of the product,” said Manohar Lal, a government employee.



City diesel dealers set to lose
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
Higher cost of diesel in the city, as compared to its satellite towns Panchkula and Mohali, has cost the local petrol dealers and the Chandigarh Administration dear. While local dealers claimed of losing 30 per cent sale of diesel due to higher rates, the administration is said to have bore a revenue loss of around Rs 7 crore in the last fiscal year.

The diesel is cheaper by Rs 1.66 and Rs 1.59 per litre in Panchkula and Mohali, respectively. Due to price variation common man as well as high-volume consumers, including truck, bus operators and factories go to neighbouring states.

In their recent representation to the UT Administration, the Chandigarh Petrol Dealers’ Association has demanded that taxes be brought on par with neighbouring states, claiming that in last fiscal year, there was a loss of 15,534 kilolitre diesel sales amounting to Rs 7 crore (approx) loss in revenue to the UT Administration.

In Chandigarh, the VAT on diesel is 12.5 per cent, whereas in Haryana and Punjab, the tax is nine per cent and 9.68 per cent, respectively.

Besides, 12.5 per cent VAT, there is another two per cent central sales tax as Chandigarh gets its supply from Ambala.

“It’s in UT’s hand to cut down VAT to at least nine per cent. The step will help regain the loss of 30 per cent sales and a chance to earn more revenue due to increase in the sale,” said Amanpreet Singh, general secretary of the Chandigarh Petrol Dealers’ Association.

While Chandigarh is losing business in diesel sales to Panchkula and Mohali, the condition is opposite in case of Mohali as far as the sale of petrol is concerned. Petrol is cheaper by Rs 6.42 in Mohali than Chandigarh. “One can imagine the situation that the sale of petrol is less than 300 kilolitre in Mohali, which has a population of over six lakh,” said GS Chawla, who owns three petrol pumps in Mohali. Chawla said Mohali was losing sale of over 3,000 kilolitres to Chandigarh and the government was least bothered. There is 33 per cent tax on the sale of commodity and despite requests of bringing the local tax structure down no one was ready to pay heed, added Chawla.



Chandigarh Central Excise witnesses fall in revenue
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
With several big companies from the region opting for the Revenue Department's Large Taxpayer Units (LTUs) scheme, under which all taxes are paid at one place, the revenue collection at the Commissionerate of Central Excise, Chandigarh Zone (I), has taken a beating.

The zone comprises of cash-rich business areas of Punjab, including Mohali and Mandi Gobindgarh, Himachal Pradesh and UT, the revenues in form of excise duty and service tax have considerably fallen. While in numbers the collection from excise duty is down by 13 per cent, service tax revenues have also been hit by 10.6 per cent.

In terms of overall collections, the revenue of the Central Excise has increased due to the high growth rate witnessed during the last fiscal, but the collections of the Chandigarh Zone (I) in excise duty collection is down from Rs 166.91 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 144.87 crore, a hit of nearly Rs 22 crore. Similarly, the service tax collection in 2010-11 also declined from Rs 487.53 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 435.70 crore.

Talking to The Tribune, Additional Commissioner Deepak Garg attributed the decline to major companies from this zone opting for LTUs and central registration (paying their service tax through their head offices, instead of their regional branches). Some of the major taxpayers who have done so include Bharti Airtel, Mohali, Spice Telecommunications, Mohali, and the State Bank of India. Together they were contributing Rs 60 crore to the region's kitty.

Similarly, ACC unit (I) and (II), and Ambuja Cement in Himachal have stopped paying excise duty here and have opted for Mumbai.

Both units of ACC have paid taxes to the tune of Rs 42.30 crore up to March 2010 as compared to nil in March 2011. Notwithstanding this decline in revenue, the Anti-Evasion Wing of the commissionerate detected 83 cases of evasion involving duty of Rs 133.25 crore and recovered Rs 20.51 crore during the investigation 2010-11. Though the detection in the last fiscal was up by only one as compared to the preceding year, monetarily there was a rise of almost 310 per cent in revenue collections as the figures of 2009-10 were merely Rs 51.8 crore. Some of the major cases of detection were JP Associates, TVS Motors and Bhawani Castings Limited.

In the audit, 659 units were audited during the last fiscal, resulting in detection worth Rs 211.64 crore and spot recoveries of Rs 12.17 crore. This was 20 per cent higher than the preceding year figures of Rs 10.14 crore.



Paver block policy gets go-ahead
Concrete footpaths will be laid in green belts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
Municipal Corporation (MC) will not laid down the paver blocks in the city at their whims and fancies, as the policy has been finalised by the road committee here today. At a meeting chaired by Bhupinder Singh Bhadheri, paver block policy has been approved. As per the policy instead of paver blocks, concrete footpaths will be laid in the green belts of the city from now.

Taking serious note on the issue of laying of paver blocks in the green belts, members said from the health point of view, doctor recommend avoiding walking on paver blocks, as it had direct effect on the knee. The committee decided that from now concrete footpath would be laid at the green belt rather than paver blocks.

As per the policy, six feet paver blocks would be laid on V- 4, V- 5 and V- 6 roads and also in front of 2, 4 and 6 kanal houses, as no parking space is required in front of such houses. For 5, 8 and 10 marla houses, nine feet paver blocks will be laid.

According to the policy, 10 feet paver blocks will be laid near religious places and educational institutes and if any space is left it will be used for parking purpose. The committee also directed the officials that in future only concrete footpaths would be laid in villages and colonies rather than constructing roads in these areas.

Besides, the committee approved 26 works of the paver blocks of various areas at the meeting and renovation of community centre at Sector 21.



City’s north turns monkey zone, residents hesitate stepping out
Problem areas: Sectors 7, 8, 10, 11, 15, 23, PU, PGI
Forest dept sets up cages
Langur owners hired to keep simians at bay
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
Nirmal Ghora, a resident of Sector 7, always scans her outdoors carefully through her heavily grilled front window before leaving her home. She steps out in her backyard of the house with a toy gun so that if there is a monkey she can scare it away.

Like Nirmal, residents of many other sectors also have begun to pause or hesitate before stepping out of their houses due to a perennial monkey menace about which the UT Administration is doing precious little.

Residents of Sectors 7, 8, 10, 11, 15, 23, Panjab University and the PGI are full of endless tales of the continuing monkey menace in their areas. Those affected by the problem have made a number of complaints to the authorities, but officials in the UT Forest Department do not seem to be applying their mind in earnest to solve the problem.

Perched atop buildings, gates, dish antenna, cars, telephone and electric wires, these dreadful monkeys are constantly on the lookout for people carrying eatables and do not hesitate to attack them. At some places, simians have become so daring that they enter houses and help themselves with the eatables available in refrigerators.

Ironic it may seem, but the monkey menace has resulted in people caging themselves in their houses and offices alike to fend themselves of the possibility of their sudden attacks.

Several residents of Sector 8 say a majority of them have stopped making pickles, drying ‘papad’ or clothes on their terrace due to presence of monkeys in the area.

UT Chief Wildlife Conservator Santosh Kumar said in the past three months, the department has set up 15 cages in the city to catch monkeys. Around 40 monkeys, after being caught and tagged, were released in the Nepli and Kansal forest area. He said the department was planning to continue this course of action to handle the monkey menace in the city. Kumar said the land allotment project for monkey rehabilitation was still hanging fire as the UT Administration had not taken final decision in this regard.

Indeed, if there is any category of people who seem to be the biggest beneficiaries of the monkey menace it’s the langur owners who are cashing in on residents’ fears by charging exorbitant amounts ranging between Rs 7,000 and Rs 8,000 per month to scare away macaques. Harpal Singh, a resident of Sector 10, said that for the past over a year, each house is shelling out Rs 200 per month for arranging a langur owner to stay in their area to combat the monkey menace.

Sources in the UT Administration revealed that a proposal was chalked out three years ago by an expert committee to rehabilitate monkeys of the tricity after a public interest litigation was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The High Court had observed that since the UT Administration had already made arrangements of hiring langurs, there was hence no need to seek a rehabilitation centre for monkeys.

speaking out
Living under threat

Nirmal GhoraIn the past three years, I am feeling as if I am residing in a wildlife sanctuary. Every month we have to shell out an Rs 2,000 to fix the damage done by monkeys in our house.”

Nirmal Ghora, a resident of Sector 7

Gurdeep Singh“Monkeys often damage water tank covers to drink water. There is always a fear that we may be consuming contaminated water.”

Gurdeep Singh, a resident of Sector 8

Harjinder Kaur“Neither we nor out house is safe. We have to make our own arrangements to handle the monkey menace as the authorities are yet to find a solution to it.”

Harjinder Kaur, a resident of Sector 8

Barjesh Sharma“Monkeys take away costly eatables from the counter of my shop. The administration just hires langurs to deal with the problem.”

Barjesh Sharma, a shopkeeper in Sector 10

Harpal Singh“We are paying extra monthly tax to reside peacefully in the area by hiring a langur owner to deal with the monkey menace. However, the problem still persists. Whenever the langur owner take an off, we are left to fend for ourselves.”

Harpal Singh, a Resident of Sector 11



Unscheduled power cuts throw life out of gear
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 19
For the last two days, residents in different parts of the town are reeling under unscheduled power cuts, throwing normal life out of gear. The situation worsened in the last 24 hours as the frequency of the cuts ranging from few minutes to two hours has increased, forcing residents to make frantic calls to senior officials of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).

A number of consumers complained that Executive Engineer (Mohali) SS Bhoparai and other officials in the field did not attend to calls from complainants, while those manning the complaint centres expressed their helplessness in addressing their grievance.

Officially, PSPCL officials claim that no power cuts were being imposed.

In some of the residential and commercial areas, the power cut extended from 10 pm on Wednesday night to 7 pm on Thursday night. The worst affected areas was the residential areas of Phase 3B1 and 3B2. “After Executive Engineer SS Bhoparai did not respond to frantic calls from the residents, we had to approach Chief Engineer ML Garg to put forth our grievances,” said Harbans Singh, a resident of Phase 3B2.

For Nirmal Kaur, a resident of Phase V, power cuts mean erratic water supply. During the normal supply hours, the pressure of water reduces during power cuts and those living on the upper floors have to make alternative arrangements. “The Akali government has been claiming that it would be power cut-free summer. The realty is different from the announcements made by politicians,” said Akhil Kumar, a shopkeeper of Phase IV.

In Phase V, Beena Thakur said the area was facing four to five cuts in a day. In the morning, the power went out at 9 am and came back by 11 am, she said.

Sources in the PSPCL said due to burning of a crucial gadget at the 220 KV sub-station, the entire load of Phases I, II, 3B1, 3B2, IV and V had to shifted to another sub-station. “To ensure that the back-up system did not succumb to the increasing load, the load shedding was being done,” confided an official at the sub-station.

The supply from the newly installed 66 KV sub-station in Sector 71 was also affected, as it is dependent on the 220 KV sub-station in Phase 1, Industrial Area. Sources said despite spending crores of rupees on the Sector 71 sub-station, it was not being fully utilised. “The problem further worsened as the feeder-wise distribution of load was not proper and transformers feeding the residential areas were overloaded,” pointed out another official.


  • Unscheduled power cuts affect Phases II, 3B1, 3B2, IV and V.
  • Damage to 220-KV transformer in Industrial Area, Phase I, led to frequent breakdowns in local distribution lines.
  • Newly built 66 KV in Sector 71 not being utilised to optimum capacity.
  • Residents complain that PSPCL officials do not respond to their calls, especially during late hours.

Open House Response

It is just the beginning of summers and residents in Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula are already complaining about unscheduled power cuts. There have been complaints from more than dozen sectors in Chandigarh, besides several places in the adjoining towns. Officials maintain that there is no shortage in power supply. Write your unpleasant experience, if any, with possible suggestions to the openhouse@tribunemail.com



Fire breaks out at Godrej factory
Damages packaging material, machinery
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 19
A fire broke out at Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited in the Phase VIII Industrial Area here this afternoon, damaging packaging material and machinery. No loss of life was, however, reported.

Billows of thick black smoke, which could be seen from quite a distance, came out of the factory soon after the fire broke out in the area where packaging and other material was stacked in racks.

Refrigerators and other machinery were also lying close by, but timely action of fire brigade employees stopped the fire from spreading to other areas, which could otherwise have resulted in a loss running into crores of rupees.

Employees of Godrej factory also tried to douse the fire, but it was beyond their control. Some fire extinguishers of the factory were reportedly not in a working order.

Duni Chand, an employee of the factory, had rung up the fire brigade at 2.40 pm soon after the fire broke out. Sub-fire officer Mohan Lal Verma immediately reached the factory with one fire engine, but asked the fire brigade to send more engines fearing that the flames could spread and create more damage. Later, one more fire engine, one water douser and one fire jeep came.

Even additional divisional fire officer Shyam Lal, who was at the local government office in Chandigarh when the fire broke out, reached the scene. It took about 25 minutes for Verma to bring the fire under control.

No fire brigade employee or that of the factory could tell any reason why the fire broke out or the extent of the loss that Godrej suffered. According to reports, even a fire brigade official had to argue with the gatekeeper to take the fire jeep inside the factory.

Mediapersons stage dharna

Mediapersons were not allowed to enter the factory, but a few managed to go inside along with fire engines. According to reports, security personnel damaged camera of a photojournalist of an electronic media. The mediapersons sat on dharna and also raised slogans against the management. It is reported that the authorities concerned tendered an apology in writing after a senior police official intervened.



Tall claims of MC to remove encroachments fall flat
Zirakpur-Dera Bassi stretch worst affected
Main violators fruit vendors, auto-rickshaw pullers
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, May 19
All roads leading to Zirakpur continue to be encroached upon. Even though these roads are a part of the national highways, hardly any steps have been taken to check violations here.

The worst affected is the Zirakpur-Dera Bassi stretch. With fruit vendors encroaching upon the Zirakpur-Patiala highway, traffic jams here are a common sight. The situation is marginally better on the Zirakpur-Kalka stretch.

With such violations, tall claims of the Zirakpur municipal council of making the area encroachment free have fallen flat on its face. The council has all along been claiming to carry out special drives to check the menace.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has time and again been asking the authorities concerned to make the passage free of encroachments.

Meanwhile, the MC officials stated that they had conducted anti-encroachment drives in the past and removed encroachments. They claimed that they had also impounded rehris of fruit vendors and challaned them. He said the main violators were fruit vendors and auto-rickshaw pullers.

A visit to the area revealed that in the main market vendors had put up rehris along the road, thus occupying a major part of the Zirakpur-Patiala highway and entry point to Zirakpur. It is also learnt that whenever an enforcement team of the MC entered the market, these shopkeepers removed the rehris on their own and later occupied the place again. The moment the enforcement staff left, the encroachers could be seen back on the roadside. Amit, a resident of Zirakpur said traffic jams were a routine affair there. He said, “It seems that the Zirakpur municipal council is in no mood to remove the encroachments.” Talking to The Tribune Mohali Deputy Commissioner Varun Roozam stated that he would ask the SDM Dera Bassi and Zirakpur Executive Officer to check the violations.



Roads at Pabhat in bad shape
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, May 19
For the past many years, roads in Pabhat godown area on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway are in a bad shape. While commuters are facing a lot of inconvenience, the Zirakpur municipal council seems to be least bothered.

Hundreds of heavy vehicles commute on these roads everyday.

Godown owners claimed that for the past nine years they had been filing complaints, but nothing had been done so far.

They said they had even approached the state government and municipal council president, but things remained the same. “Despite paying crores of rupees to the Zirakpur municipal council as taxes, roads have not been re-carpeted,” they added.

They said a few MNC owners were planning to leave the godown as they were facing losses.

They demanded that the council should solve problems on a priority basis.

“We have brought this issue to the notice of MC officials and state government several times, but all our efforts have failed to fructify,” said Amit Jain, president of C&F Association, Zirakpur.

He said, “Roads being the lifeline of any area should be maintained properly.”

A godown owner said in the recent past, many thefts had taken place in the area. He rued that in the absence of streetlights, thieves managed to escape.

An official of the Zirakpur municipal council said an estimate of Rs 90 lakh had been sent for approval to the local bodies department. He said tenders for re-carpeting roads in the area would be floated after getting the higher authorities’ nod. “We hope that the authorities get the re-carpeting of roads done at the earliest,” he claimed.



Panchayat meeting on May 22
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
In a bid to press for their demand of regularising houses built outside “lal dora” (red line), the Pendu Sangharsh Committee, Chandigarh, has called a panchayat meeting on May 22 at Dariya village.

“The purpose of the meeting is to chalk out the action plan of our struggle to save the houses, which are built outside ‘lal dora’,” said Gurpreet Singh, president of the committee, adding that all office-bearers of the panchayats of at least 22 villages would likely to attend the meeting.

Gurpreet Singh added that they were protesting in a democratic way. “The UT Administration has sent notice to at least 200 houses in Khuda Lahora. We will not allow these houses to be raged at any cost,” said the president.



Farmers apprised of latest technologies

Mohali, May 19
Farmers should adopt new methods to improve farming. This was stated by Additional Deputy Commissioner Mohinder Singh Kainth at a district-level agricultural camp today.

Mohinder Singh Kainth appealed to farmers to yield their crops according to programme provided by the agriculture department. He said farmers should adopt modern technology. Kainth added that farmers could discuss their problems with experts of the agricultural department. — TNS

FARM TECH Farmers take a look at a paddy sowing machine during the Kisan Mela at Phase VII in Mohali on Thursday
Farmers take a look at a paddy sowing machine
during the Kisan Mela at Phase VII in Mohali on Thursday. Tribune photos Vicky Gharu
A laser-level machine put on a display during the Kisan Mela at Phase VII in Mohali on Thursday
A laser-level machine put on a display during the Kisan Mela at Phase VII in Mohali on Thursday. Tribune photos Vicky Gharu






The Voluntary Health Association of Punjab and Ekal Nari Shakti Sanghathan organised a conference on single women here on Thursday. It was decided that a helpline number -0172-5016299- for single women would be started. Problems facing single women, including widows of HIV patients, cancer patients and farmers who committed suicide and deserted spouses of NRI grooms were discussed at the conference.

Memo submitted

The LIG and EWS Residents’ Welfare Association, Sector 40 C, in a memorandum submitted to Mayor Ravinder Pal Singh Pali highlighted poor civic amenities in the area. Members also sought widening of the V-6 road, re-carpeting, speed breakers, streetlights and bus queue shelters.


Vardhani Verma, a resident of Sector 11 B, alleged that unidentified persons on a motorcycle sped away after snatching her purse containing Rs 1,000, a voter ID and some documents near her residence. A case under Sections 356 and 379 of the IPC has been registered.

Drugs recovered

The police arrested Nita Ram, a resident of Rajju village, PS Chaupal, Shimla district, Himachal Pradesh, from the Housing Board light point and recovered 1 kg and 100 grams of charas from his possession. A case under Section 20 of the NDPS Act has been registered.


The SJOBA Foundation, an alumni association of St John’s School, on Thursday held the inaugural class of Math-O-Matics, a specialised course created by SJOBA Foundation in association with Jamboree, Chandigarh. Math-O-Matics is for students of Classes VIII and IX and its immediate objective is to help the students crack the National Maths Olympiad. After sitting for an entrance test, around 30 students have been admitted in Math-O-Matics.

The coordinator of Math-O-Matics is Amit Sood of Jamboree.

During the year, faculty comprising of senior mathematicians, personality development trainers and other specialists will be taking various sessions of the course.

Booked for noise pollution

Jagjit, a resident of Ramdarbar, has been booked under Section 4 and 5 of the Punjab Instrument Control Noise Act No. 36, 1956, for playing loudspeaker at a park in Sector 46-D last night. The amplifier has been taken into police custody.


BD Sharma, a resident of Sector 49, reported that someone has stolen Rs 46,000, two gold chains, one gold kara, three gold nose pins, three gold rings, one gold earring and one necklace with earrings after breaking the locks of his house four days back when he was out of station.



2,000 qualify AFMC written test
These students will appear for interviews in June
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 19
More than 2,000 students from the region have qualified the written examination or the first leg of the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC). These students will now be appearing for their interviews in June following which the final merit list will be declared.

The test was conducted in the city on May 1 and was delayed by three hours following the cancellation of the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) in some centres.

After the paper leak, AIEEE was delayed by three hours in the entire country. However, a few centres that were playing host to Armed Forces Medical College schedule on the same day had to cancel the examination, which lead to uproar and protest.



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