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Tricity aglow in Diwali razzmatazz
Crackers worth Rs 4.5 crore to dazzle in city
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Despite the anti-cracker campaigns initiated by various NGOs and educational institutes, firecrackers worth more than Rs 4.5 crore are set to go up in flames across the city on Diwali. Cracker-sellers, till date, had witnessed a rather lukewarm response to their items. However, reports from different markets this evening said the rush had increased several times. The crowd is expected to be maximum before noon tomorrow, Lakhwinder Singh, a cracker-seller said.

Over 450 fireworks-sellers are licensed to sell crackers in the city and on an average, each retailer has procured crackers worth Rs 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh and are hopeful to sell the whole stock. Going by the figures, the sale of crackers is expected to be over Rs 4.5 crore.

The figures are likely to be higher than the projected number as a number of firecracker sellers were doing so without a proper licence.

Rajesh Singh, a cracker-seller in Sector 15, said he had bought crackers worth Rs 1.25 lakh for sale, out of which he had already sold the stock worth Rs 50,000. “The sales are expected to go up on the last day when crackers are sold at discounted rates,” he said.

Gurmeet, another fireworks seller in Sector 26, said he had bought crackers worth Rs 1.5 lakh and was hopeful of selling 75 per cent of the stock by Wednesday evening. “Every year, I am able to sell more than one lakh worth stock out of my kitty,” Gurmeet Singh said.

Many residents believe they can’t do without crackers on Diwali. Lajwant Singh, a resident of Sector 37, said it’s good to see the night-sky filled with beautiful firework displays, constant sounds of bombs being blown. Crackers are an integral part of the festival and bursting crackers has become a ritual, which everybody follows.

With a wholesale cracker market in Kurali, many people from Chandigarh are also reporting to be visiting the place in the neighbourhood to purchase crackers at discounted rates that certainly adds up to the cost of crackers that are burst on Diwali.

Residents were even visiting Panchkula to purchase crackers at discounted rates. Shyam Lal Bansal, a Panchkula-based wholesaler, said they were expected to sell crackers up to worth Rs 70 lakh.



City roads jampacked
Tribune News Service

Shoppers make their way through an overcrowded road in Sector 18, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, October 25
Diwali eve saw rampant traffic jams all over the tricity, forcing commuters to move at a snail’s pace. The situation was worst in sectors known for festive shopping, including sectors 17, 19 and 22, where visitors had a tough time driving through the market places. Most market places remained jampacked throughout the day and parking was a big problem.

As expected, city roads witnessed chaos during the evening, mainly on Madhya Marg, Dakshin Marg and inner roads of Sectors 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 26. Attempts made by commuters to evade traffic by taking parallel roads turned futile as the congestion on these roads also affected the traffic moving on the other roads of the city.

Chandigarh being the favourite destination for shopping among residents of Panchkula and Mohali, the connecting roads to the city also witnessed heavy traffic. Encroachments along the road by shopkeepers and absence of proper parking only made it worse.

There was no parking space in most market places and the chaos is expected to worsen tomorrow. “Public transport is a better option for those coming to the markets because finding a place to park your vehicle is impossible. Even though we issue challans for wrong parking, people still park their vehicles on the road,” said a senior traffic police officer.

Despite traffic police personnel having been deployed on main roads, massive traffic jams were witnessed near the Housing Board lights, Sector 26 and the roads leading to southern sectors.

”Due to insufficient parking, commuters park their vehicles on the roadside, causing traffic congestion in the city. The apathetic approach of the administration and ineffectiveness of the traffic police are the main reasons behind this chronic problem,” said a commuter who was stuck in a traffic jam near Sector 22.



Sky shots in limelight
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The whacky sky shots are ruling the roost in the fireworks purchase for Diwali set for tomorrow. The special package of as many as 1,000 sky shots, worth Rs 10,000, is the costliest cracker available among the available variety in the local markets, followed by 500 sky shots priced at Rs 7,000.

According to cracker-sellers, sky shots are the major attraction available on the stalls, which are a perfect combination of fun, sound and brightness during the celebrations. “This season cracker stalls have a huge variety of sky shoots available, starting from Rs 500 to Rs 10, 000, which is the costliest one and gives an entertainment for at least 10 minutes,” said Manish a cracker-seller at the Sector 26 market.

According to cracker-sellers, whether it’s a middle-class family or an elite class, everyone was specially interested in the sky shots, depending on the family budget. “The 1,000 sky shots are a definite show-stopper which are burst by people in the end to mark the conclusion of the celebrations. The sky shots show lines of colours. These shoot up in the air and blast, sprinkling small colourful stars. The sight is awesome,” said Rajesh Singh, a cracker-seller.

“With normal crackers this time, we have a large variety in sky shooters and particularly 1,000 sky shots worth Rs 10,000 are in demand for their long-lasting effect,” said a cracker-seller.

Other costly cracker is “Anar” that costs Rs 1, 000 for a single piece, while a small “Anar” is available in the market at the price of Rs 30. “This one is huge in size and goes high in the sky making different sounds,” said a stall owner.

Bharat Bansal, a Panchkula-based cracker wholesaler, said with a day to go for Diwali, they had sold all sky shots. “This year we had fireworks with ‘500’ sky shots which got sold like hot cakes as everybody is interested in sky fireworks which are long lasting and enjoyable,” said Bansal.

Another costly item put on sale includes “laddi” that ranges from Rs 200 to Rs 3, 000 depending on the number of crackers fixed together.



Close shave for shoppers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Diwali shoppers had a close shave at a cracker market near the Housing Board chowk in Mani Majra this evening when a short-circuit led to a fire in a stall.

Angry mob and shopkeepers pelted stones at a fire tender and broke its front mirror. Shopkeepers alleged that the shop was gutted as the stand-by fire-tender reacted late. Two firemen Balwinder Singh and Kulwinder Singh, who were deployed in a stand-by fire-tender, had a tough time facing the anger of the shopkeepers.

Crackers, amounting to more than Rs 1 lakh, were gutted in the fire. A short-circuit in the generator, especially installed by a group of shopkeepers at the venue, was said to be the reason behind the fire. Nobody was injured in the incident.

The incident occurred at 6.50 pm. Two fire-tenders were rushed to the place to control the fire. Before the arrival of the tenders, a stand-by tender placed at the venue was engaged in the activity of dousing flames.

MC station fire officer SK Gosai, reacting to the fire incident, expressed his unhappiness and said it was sad that the shopkeepers, instead of cooperating with the firemen, created hurdles for them in doing their duty.

A fire official stated that there were at least 40 cracker shops set up at the site and a majority of them had violated fire safety norms imposed by the department.

The official said naked electricity wires in shops were hanging and there was no sand bag arrangements made by the owners.

In fact, no proper parking arrangements had been made by the owners near the shops.



City residents to shell out more for power from April ’11
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
City residents will have to pay extra money on their electricity charges from April 2011. These charges will be levied as part of the arrears to a government notification issued in July. The development follows the rejection of an appeal filed by the Chandigarh Administration before the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission for the State of Goa and Union Territories.

In the review petition, the Administration had sought that the arrears on the increased power tariff should be levied from July 16 onwards. The rejection of the review petition means that local residents will have to shell out the electricity tarriff arrears from April 1 onwards.

The order, passed by Dr VK Garg, chairperson, and RK Sharma, a member, has strongly said that "the Commission takes a serious note of the non-implementation of its tariff order".

The Chandigarh Administration, in its review petition, had contended that "law provides that as per Sections 62 and 64 of the Electricity Act, the tariff should be made applicable from the date of the tariff order dated July 16”. In clear terms, the commission said it "finds no merit in the contention of the petitioner as neither Section 62 nor Section 64 constitutes bar to retrospective charging of a tariff order". The commission has quoted an order of the Apellate Tribunal of Electricity, dated February 8, 2011, passed in the case of Chhatisgarh State Power Distribution Company limited versus Chhatisgarh Biomass Energy Developers Association.

It has been pointed out in the order that for the existing connections, if the payment is made after the due date, the consumer is liable to pay additional charges on belated amount at the rate of 2 per cent per month. However for disconnected consumers, additional amount at the rate of 10 per cent per annum on the outstanding amount shall be charged.

From back date

The money will be levied as part of the arrears to a government notification issued in July.



Eco City leaves Aerocity behind
Over 1.25 lakh applications received for 840 plots
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 25
The Mullanpur Eco City is all set to break the record of Aerocity. With applications for plots in Eco City closing today, around 1.25 lakh applications were received for 840 plots by various authorised banks, said sources in GMADA. In addition, around 3,500 applicants have applied online.

GMADA had received around three lakh applications for 4,000 plots in Aerocity. “Compared to Aerocity, Eco City has broken the record even though stringent eligibility conditions had been enforced this time,” said a senior GMADA official.

Around two lakh applications were sold to the banks by GMADA. Till late this evening, the banks were compiling information and are expected to officially convey the figure in a few days. Though officially GMADA officials were tightlipped about the funds generated by the scheme, sources said around Rs 3,500 crore alone had been collected by way of earnest money. The figure could go up after all the information pertaining to the money collected as earnest money is provided to GMADA.

The scheme had opened for one month from September 21 and was extended to October 25. This time GMADA has announced that it will hold the draw of lots within one month of the closing of the scheme. The draw would be held on November 30. Accordingly, GMADA would be refunding the earnest money within a few days from the date of the draw.

This time around, GMADA officials have been particular about mentioning the date-wise schedule of the entire process. The banks should have no problem in refunding the earnest money to applicants soon after the money is credited back in their accounts.



Keep safe for a cracking Diwali
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Sometime simple words like “better to be safe than sorry” can encapsulate ideas that even long sentences cannot. So this age-old adage should be the motto of all those who love to burst firecrackers, as being safe this Diwali means many more happy occasions for them and their families.

Though a little precaution and safety is must for all, it is paramount for all those who enjoy bursting crackers. Doctors say most burns may be superficial and can heal by dressing, sometimes they can be deep and may require reconstructive surgery. “Simple precautions can help avoid such ugly burns,” says cosmetic surgeon Dr KM Kapoor, Fortis Hospital, Mohali.

“In case of a burn injury, hold the injured part in running tap water till the burning sensation subsides. Don’t apply creams or ointments. Cover the part with sterile gauze and bandages. Consult a doctor immediately,” says Dr Kapoor.

“Eyes are vulnerable and can easily sustain injury due to a firecracker. If there is a burn injury to the eye, cover it with a sterile cotton pad and go to a hospital,” says Dr Jagat Ram, ophthalmologist at the PGI. However, in case of a penetrating injury, eyes shouldn’t be washed, he advises.

With all the smoke in the air, Diwali time can be harrowing for those suffering from respiratory ailments. “The fumes from fireworks can aggravate the condition and doctors advise that those suffering from asthma and other respiratory ailments need to be extra careful,” says Dr SK Jindal, head of pulmonary medicine department of the PGI.

Dr Meenu Singh, Professor in Advanced Paediatric Centre, PGI, says: “Fireworks are one of the provoking factors for childhood bronchial asthma, particularly in children between 6 and 12 years of age and it has now been established that 20 per cent of people without any prior history of respiratory ailments develop symptoms of coughing, wheezing and breathlessness especially during Diwali.”

According to experts, firecrackers contain 75 per cent potassium nitrate, 15 per cent carbon and 10 per cent sulphur and when they are burnt, harmful gases like sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, manganese and even cadmium are released, irritating the delicate airways of the lungs and worsening the condition of people with asthma, COPD, IPF, bronchitis or any other respiratory ailments.

During Diwali, the level of sulphur dioxide in the air rises phenomenally and is sometimes 200 times above the safety limits prescribed by the World Health Organisation. Dr Meenu says: “Every year on Diwali, around 10-15 asthma patients come to the OPD and require emergency treatment due to aggravation of their asthma.”

“Though it is difficult to completely avoid the smoke emitted from firecrackers during Diwali, asthmatics should stay away from these completely. Also asthmatics should be prepared with inhalers and adhere to their prescribed medicines strictly,” she adds.

“Lighting firecrackers can lead to health hazards and can cause mishaps. Children seem to be particularly vulnerable during Diwali since they are most enthusiastic about lighting them,” says Dr RS Bedi, president of the city chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Children should be made aware of the dangers associated with firecrackers if adequate precaution is not taken.

“Make sure a responsible adult, whom the children listen to, is present when they are lighting firecrackers. Warn children against igniting crackers holding them in their hands.”

Do’s & Don’ts

Avoiding burn injuries

  • Wear cotton clothes, avoid synthetic fabrics
  • Don’t wear loose clothes
  • Keep a bucket of water ready
  • Follow instructions while lighting firecrackers

Dealing with burn injuries

  • Make the victim roll on the ground to extinguish the fire
  • Cover the victim with blankets to douse fire
  • Pour water till burning sensation goes
  • Cover wound with clean cloth
  • Rush victim to doctor

Avoiding eye injuries

  • Use long matchsticks; keep the elbow joint straight while lighting firecracker
  • Do not use glass or metal containers for lighting crackers
  • Ensure other people are out of range

First-aid for eye injuries

  • Open eyelids gently with fingers in good light
  • Wash eyes for about 20 minutes
  • Remove visible foreign body with moist cotton buds
  • Cover the injured eye with eyepads and consult a specialist immediately

PGI eye centre open, OPDs closed

  • The Advanced Eye Centre at the PGI has made elaborate arrangements to meet emergencies on Diwali. Doctors will be on special emergency duty round-the-clock at the centre from October 25 till the morning of October 28
  • All OPDs in the PGI will remain closed on October 26 on account of Diwali. Emergency services will function as usual, an official press note stated.

Emergency Numbers

  • PGI Emergency 2756565, 2746018
  • PGI Advanced Eye Centre 2756117, 9814014464
  • PGI Paediatric Emergency 2755607
  • GMCH, Sector 32 9646121669, 9646121-670



Temporary stalls
15 pc drop in revenue collection
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The municipal corporation has witnessed a 15 per cent decline in the collection of revenue from shopkeepers allowed to set up temporary stalls at various markets in the city ahead of Diwali.

Records suggest that the corporation collected Rs 17 lakh from the shopkeepers for setting up stalls at marketplaces for three days from October 24 to 26, whereas it earned over Rs 20 lakh last year.

The authorities collected around Rs 5 lakh from temporary stalls set up in Sector 17 and Rs 12 lakh from the rest of the stalls in the city.

This year, the MC general house withdrew all stringent norms imposed by the authorities for getting permission to set up temporary stalls during the festival season. Earlier, the authorities used to give permission to set up stalls in a limited area only and the charges were according to the size of the stall.

However this year, the general house decided to do away with the fixed area clause for the setting up of temporary stalls.

The corporation constituted 13 special enforcement teams for three days to challan the violators who had set up stalls illegally.

A senior official, however, said the authorities had themselves encouraged encroachment by not fixing areas for putting up stalls.

A decrease is also expected in the collection of challan amount from illegal encroachments this year.

The official said the enforcement department collected Rs 41 lakh last year by challaning encroachers in marketplaces, Rs 7 lakh more than then fine collected in 2009.

As no area has been fixed for putting up temporary stalls, the enforcement teams are also in a fix on how to go about challaning the encroachers in marketplaces.

Report overlooked

Ignoring the enforcement department report that clearly stipulated a cap on the number of stalls in each market to avoid nuisance during the festival season, the MC authorities allowed unlimited stalls in all markets.



Fire staff, docs to work overtime

Mohali, October 25
Employees of the local fire brigade have been asked to work overtime to deal with any untoward incident in connection with Diwali.

Employees, who normally work for eight hours daily, will now be working for 12 hours at a stretch due to staff crunch. The decision, which came into effect today, would remain enforced till 8 am on October 27. Shyam Lal, assistant divisional fire officer (ADFO), said employees might even be asked to work for 16 hours.

Even at the Civil Hospital, doctors had been asked to work overtime on Diwali. Dr Rajiv Bhalla, SMO, said some doctors, including medicine and surgery specialists, would remain at the hospital till late in the evening. The eye specialist would, however, be available in the hospital throughout the night on Diwali. He said a radiologist and an orthopaedic surgeon would be available on call. In case of a mishap, residents would have to call “108” for emergency services. OC



bomb at ISBT-43
Hoax phone call keeps cops on toes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
A hoax phone call at Government Railway Police (GRP) police station of Ludhiana Railway Station, of bomb at ISBT- 43 kept the Chandigarh police on toes for over three-hours.

The unknown caller informed the GRP police personnel that a bomb had been placed at ISBT-43, Chandigarh, and would explode within one and half hours.

The police said the officials of the GRP, Punjab, passed on the information to the Chandigarh police and a search operation was launched at ISBT-43 for more than three hours.

However, the teams could not locate anything. The search operation was conducted jointly by the teams of the local police, members of anti-terrorist cell, CID wing and the IRB police personnel.

The police officials said the hoax call was received from a cell phone and the police was trying to establish the identity of the caller. Meanwhile, a case under Section 506 and 507 of the IPC was registered at the police station in Sector 36.

The intelligence wing of the Punjab police has also started the parallel probe to identify the caller of the hoax call.



Sweets lose flavour as gift
Raids, spiralling costs, shorter shelf life to blame
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Sweets, which have been integral to the gift culture during the festive season for long, have failed to catch the fancy of residents this year. An array of gifting ideas coupled with recent raids by the UT administration on shops manufacturing sweets under insanitary conditions have upstaged sweets as the major gift this Diwali.

Adverse publicity on account of raids by the administration and short shelf life of sweets are primarily to blame for people shifting to other gifting options, a prominent sweet shop owner says. And a spike in prices due to higher input cost of sweets has led to a further decline in their sale in the run-up to Diwali.

“When I can get other gifts, particularly bakery products, handloom items, crockery products and gift items at half the price of the sweets, it makes sense to skip sweets as a gift item,” says Narinder Sharma, a resident of Sector 35.

Anup Singh, a salesman with a Sector-22 handloom seller, claims the demand for handloom items, including bedsheet sets, towel sets, sofa covers and cushion covers, has registered a sharp increase this year as compared to the previous years. Since the handloom products cater to all budgets, their demand has seen an upswing, he adds.

A survey of different markets in the city over a couple of days revealed that maximum rush was witnessed at crockery shops, handloom outlets and bakery shops and general merchandise stores selling assorted products. This was in sharp contrast to a trickle of customers even at prominent sweets shops in the city. Attractive packaging besides competitive pricing has also lured buyers to other gifts, feels a sweets shop owner, adding that it is becoming difficult to compete with cheaper gift options.

Buyers feel lack of prominent sweets shops in sectors has also accounted for the trend. It is convenient to get other gifts, including chocolate boxes, juice boxes, handloom products and crockery items, than quality sweets.

Also, limited time ahead of Diwali and traffic jams have restricted the movement of shoppers, forcing many to buy gifts from sector markets.

Why non-sweet items?

Since gifts other than sweets, including eatables, have a longer shelf life, these have become the first choice of city residents. Besides non-sweet and inedible items can be gifted several months after Diwali.

Double whammy for sweet makers

It is a double whammy for top sweet manufacturers, who have maintained quality over the years. While the input costs have gone up over the years, the recent raids by the UT administration, under which certain unscrupulous sweet manufacturers have been found making sweets under insanitary conditions, have given a bad name to the industry, resulting in people avoiding even prominent sweet shops.

What a Rs 100 bill can get?

All is not lost for the poorer section of society who want to buy a gift for Rs 100. Photo frames, sceneries, small chocolate boxes, juice boxes and biscuit boxes besides small sweet boxes are some of the gift items that one can easily get in less Rs 100. Scores of sector shops and rehri markets are inundated with people buying such gifts.



Dragon, too, takes inflationary hit
Spews Diwali goods at prices 35 pc higher than last year
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Inflation seems to have cast its spell on Chinese items, which have been not so cheap this Diwali. According to local shopkeepers, all Chinese items have seen around 35 per cent increase in prices this time. Reason: Strengthening of dollar against the Indian Rupee. “A 35 per cent increase has been noticed in the prices of Chinese goods in the wholesale market this year. Many items are being sold more than double the rates of last year in the open market,” says Amit Trehan, who imports items from China. This year, the prices of Chinese decorative lights (“larri”), which have rendered the traditional Indian ones redundant, start from Rs 75 in the main markets of the city.

“Last year, we sold the same for Rs 30. The price of decorative lights increases according to their length and quality,” says Ramesh Lal, a dealer of Chinese items in Sector 22.

Similarly, Chinese sceneries that were available between Rs 200 and 300 last Diwali, are being sold at Rs 500.

Even the prices of Chinese showpieces like statues of Hindu Gods, temple replicas, gift packs and toys related to the festival are higher by 50 per cent this time.

“We have not increased the prices on our own. We, too, get supplies at higher rates,” quips Rattan Singh, a shopkeeper.

While the prices of most Chinese items have seen an sharp increase, imported crackers are an exception.

“There has been a marginal increase in the prices of Chinese crackers as these are not much in demand here due to their unpredictable nature. The prices of Chinese crackers are almost the same as last year,” says Tarsem Lal, a wholesaler in Sector 26.

Most shopkeepers get the Chinese goods from agents in Delhi, Ludhiana and Mumbai and sell these in the open market here.



Chandigarh scan
Rajput Regiment

A number of retired and serving officers of the Rajput Regiment, one of the oldest regiment of the Indian Army, gathered for their 19th annual dinner. Lt Gen (retd) Bhopinder Singh, Lt Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, was elected as the president of the association. Col JS Kang and Lt Col AS Malhi will continue to remain as the convenor and treasurer of the association.

Coaches to train students

National coaches Sarabhjit Singh, Dalip Singh Rana and Balbir Singh will train students of city for the Idea Junior Champions League. The national-level coaches from Punjab sports department visited the participating schools of the city to find potential sportspersons and motivate them.

Anti-cracker week

Government High School, Daria, celebrated anti-cracker week guiding students against the dangers of crackers and also the financial wastage. Principal Saroj Bhasin and Dinesh Shastri oversaw different events, including an awareness campaign, slogan, poetry and essay writing contests being conducted.

Foundation stone laid

The foundation stones of 160 two-bed room flats under self-financing housing scheme-2010 in Sector 51-A, 260 two bed room flats and 216 three bed room flats under housing flat scheme-2008 in Sector 63 were laid on Tuesday by KK Sharma, Adviser to the UT Administrator. The scheme is planned to be executed in eight groups. So far, work on five groups has already started and work on two groups namely 260 two-bed flats and 216 three bed room flats has been recently allotted to the agency and will commence soon. The work on remaining one group has been held up in view of ongoing litigation by the bidders.

Guv greets people on Diwali

On the eve of Diwali, Punjab Governor and the UT Administrator Shivraj V. Patil greeted the people of Punjab and Chandigarh on the auspicious occasion of Diwali and called for strengthening the forces of peace and sustaining higher values of humanity for building a healthy and harmonious society. He also impressed upon the residents to make Diwali noise and pollution free. — TNS

Red Cross celebrates Diwali with PGI patients

As part of Diwali celebrations, the Indian Red Cross Society, Punjab State Branch, distributed wheel chairs, walkers, crutches and blankets to poor patients and fruits to indoor patients of the PGI, a press note released here said on Tuesday. Women social workers of the Punjab Red Cross distributed 387 packets of fruits to the admitted patients of gastroenterology, advanced urology centre, ICU & ENT wards. In his inaugural address, Dr Yogesh Chawla, Director, PGI ,and the chief guest lauded the yeoman services being provided by the social workers by way of distributing medicines and other relief amenities to the poor and needy patients. Brig ABS Brar, secretary of State Red Cross, also spoke on the work done by the organisation.



Widening of Mullanpur-Siswan road gets nod
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 25
With the launch of the Mullanpur Eco City, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has given a go ahead to the much-delayed project to widen the Mullanpur-Siswan road. The clearance has been given after getting a nod from the Union Environment and Forests Ministry, which had put a condition that the Punjab government would give 51.51 acres of land to the state forest department for forestry purpose.

The work on widening of the road that had been abruptly stopped after objection by the forest ministry is expected to resume soon. A senior official of GMADA said all formalities regarding the conditions given by the ministry had been complied with. The ministry has observed that since the state government had diverted the land as “de-listed” land from the provisions of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) 1900 for non-forestry purpose, it had to compensate by giving back an equally chunk of land to the forest department.

While giving clearance, GMADA, the nodal agency behind the road widening, has been asked to bear the cost of the forestation on the land.

In January, the ministry had raised objections after the state government had given a go ahead to the road widening without seeking the mandatory clearances from the ministry. But after Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal took up the case with the Union Environment Minister, the case was taken up in the high-empowered committee headed by then Union Environment and Forests Minister Jai Ram Ramesh.

For widening the 8-km long stretch from the Chandigarh-Mullanpur border near the PGI to Siswan T-junction, GMADA has given the contract to Omaxe, a private builder.Sources in the Punjab forest department said the primary objection raised by the ministry was regarding the change in the alignment of the existing road. About 150 acres of land of Mullanpur Garib Dass, Ferozepore Bungar, Parol, Pharongian, Hoshiarpur, Majra and Sultanpur had been acquired for the purpose.



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