C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Allottees to pay service tax to CHB
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Hundreds of allottees of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) flats will now have to pay service tax to the board. After being asked by the Central Excise and Taxation Department to pay service tax of Rs 10 crore on the rental income from the leasehold property, the CHB is now issuing demand notices to the allottees to pay the tax.
Flats of the Chandigarh Housing Board in Sector 51, Chandigarh.
Flats of the Chandigarh Housing Board in Sector 51, Chandigarh. Tribune Photo: Vicky Gharu

Officials in the CHB said though the amount to be charged as tax was being worked out, the demand notices were being issued to 2,500 allottees of the flats being constructed under the General Housing Schemes in Sectors 51 and 63.

Though the projects are running behind schedule, the allottees will have to pay the money on account of service tax. “The agenda on charging the service tax from the allottees has already been approved at a recent meeting of the board of members of the CHB”, said a senior official of the board.

The tax liability of the CHB has been calculated from 2012 onwards on all the ongoing projects. The houses constructed for the economically weaker section (EWS) and the one-room tenements constructed under JNNURM have been exempted from the tax, meaning that the tax liability will be put on allottees of the general housing schemes.

The notification issued by the Central Excise and Taxation Department states that all lessees of commercial property auctioned since July 1, 2007, are bound to pay the service tax at the rate of 12.36 per cent per year on the lease money/ground rent charged by the Estate Office. But in case of the CHB, the tax liability has been worked out on the ongoing projects.

Sources in the CHB said Rs 4.80 crore had already been paid to the Central Excise and Taxation Department and remaining amount of Rs 4.80 crore would be deposited by June 2014.

The Excise Department has been issuing notice to the Estate Office, MC and CHB for clearing the pending dues, to be recovered from lessees on account of the service tax. According to the guidelines issued by the Centre, owners of leasehold commercial properties auctioned by the Estate Office and those who have converted industrial sites into commercial have to pay the service tax. 



Kajauli Waterworks pipeline damaged
  All four piplines shut down temporarily; evening supply to be affected today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Residents of Chandigarh and Mohali will soon water crisis as the pipeline carrying water from the Phase I and II at the Kajauli Waterworks has been damaged.

Taking precautionary measures, all four piplines bringing water from Kajauli Waterworks have been temporarily shut down.

Officials said the evening water supply on Monday would be severely hit owing to the damage in the pipelines of the Kajauli Waterworks on Sunday.

The delivery valve in one of the pumping sets of the Kajauli Waterworks, learnt to be 30 years old, burst this evening. It led to the damage in all the four pipelines. The supply of water through the four pipelines of 20 MGD each was stopped to start the repair work. The officials stated that the reserves would be sufficient to ensure regular supply of water to both Chandigarh and Mohali in the morning, but the evening supply might be hit until the repair work was over.

The bursting of the valve was detected in the evening after which the team of the Chandigarh MC and the Punjab Public Health reached Kajauli Waterworks for the repair work.

Superintending Engineer (public health) RC Diwan, said "The water pumps have been waterlogged and efforts are being made to fix the problem".

Official sources stated that the Chandigarh and Mohali could plunge into major water crisis due to the problem, as the Kajuali

Waterworks is the only source of water supply in both the cities. A major water crisis had hit the city as well as Mohali, in August last year, bringing life to a standstill. Due to a similar damage in the Kajauli Waterworks pipeline, several sectors of Chandigarh and areas of Mohali remained without water for over a week. 

80 MGD of water is supplied

The four pipelines (Phase I,II,III, IV) at Kajauli Waterworks of 20 MGD each supply a total of 80 MGD of water. Out of this, 70 MGD of water is supplied to Chandigarh and 10 MGD to Mohali. The valve in one of the pipelines burst, forcing the authorities to stop the water supply in all four pipelines. 



Fake IPS officer took Rs 3 lakh bribe from 3 aspirants
 Had promised them job of ASI in UT police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Posing as an IPS officer in the city for the past one month, Ravi Kant, arrested in a cheating case yesterday, had allegedly taken Rs 3 lakh as bribe from three different candidates aspiring to be recruited into the Chandigarh Police. Investigations by the UT police crime branch into the case revealed that Ravi Kant took Rs 3 lakh each from the aspirants belonging to various districts of Haryana. He promised them the job of an ASI in the UT police and took the money. One of the aspirants is from Riwari.
Distributed sweets among cops
Ravi Kant

Posing as an IPS officer, Ravi Kant had also distributed sweets in the police circles last month saying that he had become the father to a son.

Ravi Kant was produced in the court today and remanded to two-day police custody. Sleuths of the crime branch have also recovered certificates and other documents from the possession of Ravi Kant. The documents, including matriculation certificates, belonged to the candidates who had allegedly paid money to the accused.

Police officials said they had contacted the three aspirants and they confirmed that they had given bribe to the fake IPS officer as he had assured them a job each. The police said this was just a tip of the iceberg and the accused had taken money from many aspirants.

“He took money from aspirants and promised them a job in the Chandigarh Police. We are investigating all aspects,” said DSP (Crime) Satbir Singh.

The UT police had on Saturday arrested Ravi Kant posing as an IPS officer who not only lived in the city for the past one month, but also duped many others in the city. Later, on being suspected by another UT officer, a trap was laid and the fake IPS officer was nabbed by the Chandigarh Police. The accused turned 18 only yesterday, when he was nabbed, the police said.

The imposter claimed he had come to Chandigarh on training from Delhi. Kant was arrested while he was going in his Safari car with a police sticker on it and he was also wearing a police uniform. On being asked, he failed to produce any proof with regards to being an IPS officer. The DSP said Kant had visited the office of Deepak Saharan, DSP (traffic police), where he told Saharan that he was an IPS officer of 2009 batch and had come to Chandigarh for training in the UT police. After meeting Ravi Kant, Deepak became suspicious and informed senior police officials. Following the complaint, a trap was laid to arrest Kant by the crime branch. 



TET examination ties up city traffic in knots
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Traffic snarls were witnessed at Dakshin Marg and other main roads of the city in the evening, as thousands of candidates were in the city to appear for the Haryana Teachers Eligibility Test (HTET) today. The exam was conducted at various centres across the city.

A major traffic jam was witnessed at the Tribune roundabout in the evening leading to the Sector 32 GMCH roundabout and to the Sectors 33 and 34 roundabout. The jams were also witnessed on the roads dividing Sectors 29,30 and 20 and 21. There was heavy rush on the Udyog Path leading from the Industrial Area to the ISBT, Sector 17.

The Chandigarh Traffic Police had a trying time managing the jams that literally choked the city. The jams were witnessed around 5.30 pm and it was only after 6.30 pm that there was free flow of traffic.

The jams were also witnessed near the railway point on the road leading to Panchkula in the evening. Serpentine queues of vehicles were seen on the roads with the traffic police on their toes to manage the chaos.

“In the evening it took me more than an hour to reach Panchkula from Sector 34. Our plans for a fun-filled family outing on a Sunday were disrupted owing to the chaos,” said Manish Khanna, a city resident. 



Accident victim dies at GMSH, Sector 16
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
In yet another hit-and-run case, a 40-year-old woman riding pillion on a scooter died after she was hit by an unidentified vehicle last Friday night. The woman, Savinder Kaur, succumbed to her injuries at the Government Multi Specialty Hospital, Sector 16.

She was riding pillion on the Honda Activa scooter being driven by her 18-year-old son, Manjot Singh, on the road separating Sectors 43 and 52. The mother and the son duo were returning home after paying obeisance at the gurdwara when the mishap occurred.

The scooter of the duo was hit by a speeding car when Manjot lost balance and fell on the road. Savinder was then crushed under the wheels of a vehicle.

There was heavy traffic on the road and Manjot could not note down the number of the vehicle nor could he ascertain the make of the car. He took his injured mother to the hospital in an auto-rickshaw and did not inform the police.

The deceased was a resident of Sector 41 and was a housewife. Savinder is survived by her husband, her son Manjot and a six-year-old daughter. The police have registered a case of causing death due to negligence under Sections 304 A of the IPC at the Sector 36 police station. 



Mystery shrouds man’s death in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 2
A 32-year-old man, who was the lone bread earner of his family, was found dead under mysterious circumstances at his residence in Beer Ghaggar of the Chandimandir area today.

The doctors conducting the postmortem said that the chances of poisoning could not be ruled out. The victim, identified as Nanhe Ram, was dropped by his two friends last night and in the morning, he was found dead.

Dr Sunil Gambhir, forensic expert at General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, said, "The possibility of poisoning can not be ruled out.

The death could also be due to excess intake of alcohol. The exact situation will be known after the viscera report is out."

Ram who was working at the Motor-market in Mani Majra is survived by his wife and four children. Inspector Arvind Kumar, SHO of the Chandimandir police station, said, "We got the communication from General Hospital. The exact situation will be known after the postmortem report is out." Sources said Ram had gone out with his friends and since he was in an inebriated state, he was dropped by his two friends. When he failed to respond to his family members this morning, he was rushed to General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, where he was declared brought dead.


51st Bn CRPF celebrates 45th Raising Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The 51st Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) celebrated its 45th Raising Day here today, with several events being organised to commemorate the occasion. The Battalion was raised at Ajmer in 1969.

Besides a sainik sammelan, a medical camp and a ‘Bada Khana’ were held on the unit premises. Other events included a volleyball match, fete, tambola and cultural programme.

Currently commanded by Commandant MP Bahuguna, the Battalion moved to Chandigarh in 2009 and is undertaking guard duties at the Punjab Raj Bhawan, residence of the Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, and Burail Jail, besides manning check posts along the city’s periphery and undertaking other law and order duties.

The unit has been adjudged as the Best Operational Battalion of the North-Western Sector for 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Since its raising, the Battalion has served across the length and breadth of the country, including counter-insurgency environment in Jammu and Kashmir and the north-east. It has also been adjudged as the Best Operational Battalion in the north-eastern region. 



Visually-impaired play navigators at ‘Blind man car’ rally in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The second edition of the “Blind Man Car Rally” was flagged-off by Dr Sukhchain Singh Gill, Senior Superintendent of Police, from the Institute of Blind, Sector 26, here today.

The visually-impaired students of the institute participated in the rally as navigators. The initiative was taken by the Round Table India, a voluntary organisation.

The rally saw participation from 50 people.

Upon completion of the rally, Danish Gill and his navigator Rakesh won the first prize, while Atul Nandwani and his navigator Anju Bala came second. Kanwaljeet and his navigator Anuj Sharma stood third.

The top three winners were awarded a cash prize of Rs 10,000, Rs 8000 and Rs 6000, respectively. They were adjudged on a normal TSD (time/speed/distance) format. After passing through the city for nearly 50 km, the rally concluded at the institute.

“It was a wonderful feeling to participate in the rally. One feels responsible when asked to navigate the way. Though it was difficult, we managed to win. It was a team effort,” said Rakesh, who won the first prize.

Anuj (18), a visually-impaired student, said, “For the first time, I guided the driver on the road.”

MP Singh, secretary to the Governor of Punjab-cum-UT Administrator, was the chief guest. He gave away prizes and trophies to the winners and their navigators.

The Chandigarh Round Table donated Rs 50,000 to the Institute of Blind for the welfare of visually-impaired students.



Bhola’s drug case
Mohali police seeks trial via video-conferencing
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 2
In the wake of security threat, the Mohali Police have moved an application in the local court requesting it to hold video-conference in the ongoing trial of drug lord Jagdish Bhola.

Inspector Navin Pal Singh Lehal, the SHO of the police station under which the courts complex falls, confirmed that he had moved an application in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge (senior division) PP Singh requesting to hear the case through video-conferencing so that Bhola could depose from the jail itself.

“I can’t reveal the details but there are some security concerns if Bhola comes here to attend the court hearing. On Friday, I moved an application in the court requesting that the case be heard through video-conferencing," said Lehal.

Notably, the next hearing in the case is scheduled for tomorrow.

When asked whether or not Bhola would turn up in the court tomorrow, Inspector Lehal said he too was not aware. “I think the court would decided on my application tomorrow," said Lehal.

Meanwhile, Congress MLA from Mohali Balbir Singh Sidhu said the request for holding video-conference in the Bhola's case could be an attempt of the Mohali Police to prevent him from speaking to mediapersons. “Bhola had already hit the Punjab Government hard by naming Bikram Singh Majithia in the drug case. After that, the police were trying hard to keep him (Bhola) away from the media. He had already announced that he would expose more Akali ministers in the case," said Sidhu.

Notably, the Punjab Police did not bring Jagdish Bhola to the court here during the last hearing on January 20.



Manita crowned Miss Fresher
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 2
A cultural function was organised at the Ampar Professional College of Nursing, Zirakpur, during the freshers’ party, “Rubaru 2014”, on Saturday. Students presented various cultural items on the occasion. The Students Nurses Association of the Amar Professional College of Nursing, Zirakpur, organised the freshers’ party.

Principal Shama Lohumi welcomed the invitees.

The event was graced by the presence of guest of honour Janail Singh, former Controller of Examination, Punjab School Education Board, and guest AC Sharma, PCS, Additional Secretary, Health, Punjab. They also distributed prizes among the nursing students who excelled academically.

Mr and Miss Fresher competition was the centre of attraction. Forty-eight students took part in it.

Manita, post-basic nursing student, was crowned as Ms Fresher, while Manvir Singh, BSc nursing student, was declared as Mr Fresher. Director Manoj Sharma extended gratitude to all dignitaries.



Sessions judge inspects children’s home

Panchkula, February 2
District and Sessions Judge RK Sondhi along with Chief Judicial Magistrate-cum-Secretary Sunil Chauhan, DLSA, Panchkula, visited the Children’s Home ‘Ashiana’ in Sector 16 here on Saturday. The sessions judge interacted with the children and inspected the premises.

A release issued by the DLSA stated that the team was not satisfied with the cleanliness at the facility. Sondhi was informed that the Ashiana had not received grants from the last three years from the department concerned. He also inspected the project Ananada wherein children from slums are educated. Cleanliness in the dining hall was not found up to the mark. “Though some renovation work is underway at the children’s home, it was no excuse for compromising with the cleanliness aspect,” stated the release. — TNS



750 examined at medical camp in Lohgarh
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 2
Over 750 patients were examined at a free ayurveda camp at Lohgarh village on Saturday. It was organised under the guidance of district ayurvedic officer Dr Suman Sharma.

Chief Parliamentary Secretary NK Sharma inaugurated the camp. Free medicines were provided to the needy patients. The team of doctors included Ajay Bharti, Usha Sharma, Bhartbhushan, Indubala, and Yashveer. 



GMADA to hold draw of lots on Feb 20
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 2
Upon completion of development works in Aerocity, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) will hold the draw of lots for residential and commercial plots on February 20.

GMADA chief administrator AK Sinha said work on all roads, water supply, storm water and sewerage pipelines, re-charging wells and street lighting had been completed at the site in Aerocity.

GMADA has spent a total sum of Rs 280 crore on these works and their maintenance for the next five years.

“Upon completion of all development works, the draw of lots for 4,000 applicants will be held at GMADA’s office on February 20. The possession of plots will be given to the successful applicants within a month.”

“We are also launching a new residential scheme in Sector 65, wherein we will invite sealed bids as applications for a total of 48 plots of different sizes,” added Sinha. The scheme was launched in October 2010. 



Display of advertisements
Civic body works out dues of Rs 6 cr against company
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation (MC) has worked out dues of nearly Rs 6 crore against Selvel Media Service Private Limited for displaying advertisements on the toilets allotted to it for maintenance.

In 2007, the company was awarded a five-year contract to maintain 86 toilets in the city at the cost of Rs 8,000 per toilet per month with an annual increase of 10 per cent. The amount grew to Rs 12,000 per month by the time the contract expired.

Tenders were invited for the work again. Three companies applied for it but only two qualified for the job. Finally, the Selvel Media Service won the contract for a whopping Rs 8.92 crore.

This time, the maintenance cost was Rs 17,303 per toilet per month with an annual increase of 10 per cent.

However, the hike of Rs 5,000 per toilet raised many eyebrows followed by opposition from several municipal councillors.

After councillors objected to the awarding of contract to the Selvel, it was discovered that the company had not paid the fee for displaying advertisements for the last over five years.

MC Officer on Special Duty (OSD) AK Dhadwal prepared the dues pertaining to the company for displaying advertisements on toilets and connecting passages.

Sources said as per the Chandigarh Advisement Control Order 1954, around Rs 2.62 crore had been calculated as fee for displaying advertisements on 28 connecting passages and Rs 3.28 crore for displaying advertisements on 46 toilets.

Confirming the development, Dhadwal said the matter would be brought to the knowledge of senior officials for further action.

Sources said the advertisement fee for displaying advertisements on 40 more toilets was yet to be calculated.

Records of contract seized

CBI officials on Saturday seized the records related to awarding of a five-year contract for maintenance of toilets to Selvel Media Service Private Limited at the cost of Rs 17,303 per toilet per month. The CBI acted on the basis of a complaint alleging irregularity in the allotment of the work to the company.



MC proposes to spend Rs 598 cr in 2014-15
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The Municipal Corporation (MC) will table a budget of Rs 598 crore before its Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) on February 4. Once approved by the F&CC, the budget will be presented before the MC's General House. On getting the House's nod, it will be sent to the UT Administration for the final approval.

The proposed budget has a provision of Rs 35 crore for construction of community centres and a multi-level parking in Sector 17. Besides, Rs 6 crore have been proposed for providing LED lights in parks and on city roads.

In the budget, the MC proposes to spend Rs 80 crore on maintenance of roads and parkings in the city markets. The MC plans to re-carpet about 300 km of the 1564-km road network in the city during the next fiscal.

Rs 5 crore will be spent on developing and maintaining parks and green belts in the city. Another Rs 5 crore would be used to provide facilities such as roads, footpaths and landscaping in various villages falling under the MC limits.

For strengthening the city's sewerage system, the civic body will be spending Rs 20 crore.

The city has been provided with an underground Storm Water Drainage (SWD) system, which is reportedly not sufficient to drain rainwater in case of downpour. The MC has proposed to spend Rs 7.5 crore on strengthening the system. 



JD(U) promises to create new state of Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
While the two major political parties, the Congress and the BJP, are still undecided over their candidates for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, the local unit of the Janta Dal (United) today listed creating a new state of Chandigarh in its election manifesto.
President of the local unit of Janta Dal (U), Surinder Bhardwaj, addresses mediapersons in Chandigarh on Sunday
President of the local unit of Janta Dal (U), Surinder Bhardwaj, addresses mediapersons in Chandigarh on Sunday. 
A Tribune photograph

By creating a new state under Articles 2 and 3 of the Constitution of India, the city residents can dream of getting their problems resolved, which are otherwise not possible under the bureaucracy-controlled Chandigarh Administration, said Surinder Bhardwaj, president of the local unit of the Janta Dal (U).

Bhardwaj, who was unanimously decided as the party candidate for the Chandigarh seat, said the campaign would be against the unprecedented corruption and scams involving Congress men.

The main plank of the party in the election for the Chandigarh seat will be "Mission apna Chandigarh".

Areas of Kurali, Banur, Rajpura, Kharar, Lalru, Dera Bassi, Panchkula, Barwala, Morni, Pinjore, Kalka and Baddi, falling in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh could be included in the new state.

The party claims to have collected one lakh signatures on a "Public document" sponsoring its demand for creating a new state of Chandigarh. The document was handed over to UT Administrator and Punjab Governor Shiv Raj Patil.



Owing to poor visibility, all flights cancelled, 14 trains delayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Owing to poor visibility, air and rail services was severely affected in the city today. While all the flights scheduled for departure and arrival at the Chandigarh Airport stood cancelled, 14 trains were delayed by several hours.

The cancellation of flights continued for the third consecutive day and the situation is likely to remain similar on Monday.

According to the Met Department, the weather in the city will remain generally cloudy with a possibility of thundershower, which will further reduce the temperature.

Trains coming from the states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and Haryana were delayed as a thick blanket of fog engulfed the region.

As per official information, the trains that were delayed included the Barmer-Kalka Express which reached late by one hour and 50 minutes, the Himalayan Queen (31 minutes), the New Delhi-Una Jan Shatabdi (42 minutes), the Sai Shirdi Express-Kalka (three hours), the Una-New Delhi Jan Shatabdi (37 minutes), the Unchahar Express (eight hours and 25 minutes), the Lucknow-Chandigarh Sadbhavna Express (two hours and 10 minutes), the Kalka Mail (six hours and 55 minutes), Amb Andaura-Ambala (32 minutes), the New Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi Express (one hour and eight minutes), the Dibrugarh-Chandigarh Express (13 hours and 52 minutes), the Paschim Express (two hours and 30 minutes), the Ekta Express (31 minutes) and the Ambala-Kalka Shuttle (47 minutes).



Red beacon: MC Commissioner shows the way

Army officers pay tribute to martyrs at Chandigarh War Memorial in Bougainvillea Garden, Sector 3, Chandigarh
Army officers pay tribute to martyrs at Chandigarh War Memorial in Bougainvillea Garden, Sector 3, Chandigarh. Tribune Photo: Pradeep Tewari

Setting an example for other UT officials, Municipal Corporation Commissioner VP Singh has got the red beacon on his official vehicle removed. However, it seems not many officials in the UT paid heed to the Supreme Court order.

Appease all policy

A senior Congress leader seems to have perfected the art of appeasing not only different factions of the party but opponents too. After stirring up the coup against the sitting MP, Pawan Kumar Bansal, and holding parleys with two other contenders for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, the leader made it a point to call upon Bansal and explain his position. All the while, he also kept on meeting a BJP leader, who is a frontrunner for the Chandigarh LS seat.

BJP workers make best use of technology

As BJP workers clashed with each other in a meeting convened by the Chandigarh unit of the party to seek views of the workers on the party's candidate for LS seat, some workers were seen busy recording the ugly fight scenes on their mobiles. Interestingly, the recordings were later forwarded to journalists on Whatsapp and social networking sites. Instead of maintaining discipline, these workers were more interested in spreading news about the clash.

Pawan Bansal’s name conspicuous by absence

When former deputy Mayor and youth leader HS Lucky filed his application at the Congress Bhawan, Sector 35, seeking ticket for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, his supporters were raising slogans in his favour. The supporters also raised slogans in his favaour when he was delivering a speech. The supporters of sitting MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, who were also present, remained silent. A Congress leader said in the last 15 years, it was perhaps for the first time that Bansal's name was not part of the slogans raised in the Congress Bhawan.

PGIMER doctors in catch-22 situation

After discussing at length the merits of cadaver donation and the shortage of bodies for research purpose at the PGIMER before the media last week, a PGIMER doctor encountered a question that gave jitters to the entire faculty of the institute. The query was how many PGIMER doctors have pledged their body for donation. All doctors present at the press conference were embarrassed when the doctor conceded that so far, none of them has pledged to donate his or her body.

Announcer gets flak

During a match at the Hockey India League (HIL) being held at the Hockey Stadium, Mohali, when someone from the stage announced "Jide naal sohni kudiyan bethiyan ne, oh v rola pa deyo (Those having beautiful girls sitting next to them should also cheer aloud). Though the request hardly drew response from the spectators but it surely did embarrass and annoy the parents, who were accompanying their daughters at the stadium.

Akali leaders embarrassed

The senior Akali leaders of the district faced embarrassment during the protest held against the Congress on Friday, as the party activists, including certain youth leaders, started pushing each other to get themselves clicked by photojournalists. A minor scuffle between the supporters of two groups ensued. "Both the groups wanted to take the credit for the protest. For them, seeing their pictures in newspapers was more important than the protest," said a senior Akali leader at the protest site.

Contributed by Rajinder Nagarkoti, Amit Sharma, Ritika Jha Palial, Deepankar Sharda and Akash Ghai



Beggars at road intersections a threat to motorists in city
The problem of begging continues unabated in and around the city. Beggars can be seen approaching drivers and passers-by for alms on major road intersections, giving a tough time to the commuters. The police seem to be least bothered about the issue and no efforts have been made to check the peril. These beggars do not have any identity proof. The rising number of beggars in and around the city is contributing to the rampant increase in crime. We take stock of the problem
Deepankar Sharda
Tribune News Service

A family of beggars getting ready for the day at Sector 22; and (right) a child seeks alms from a motorist at a traffic light point of Sector 21-22 in Chandigarh.
A family of beggars getting ready for the day at Sector 22; and (right) a child seeks alms from a motorist at a traffic light point of Sector 21-22 in Chandigarh. Tribune photos: Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, February 2
The problem of beggary has assumed stupendous proportion. Notwithstanding the Beggary Act, beggars adopt different modus operandi to operate at different traffic junctions and commercial centres in the city.

Operating in an organised manner, groups of beggars act as salespersons and usually resort to criminal activities. The increase in the number of beggars, especially children, around the city, is a cause of worry. It is also raising the fear of children being pushed into beggary for organised gangs.

A survey by the Chandigarh Tribune team revealed that begging is not only restricted to seeking alms but it is also developing as a well-organised racket.

Some Bangladesh natives, who are active in small groups and target people at various markets, provide their workers with small items to sell at busy roads. The leaders of the groups collect the earning from those beg or sell items and act as “agents” for their superiors.

There presence not only causes harassment to the visitors, but they also try to distract the attention of motorists to help their fellows to steal expensive items from cars parked in the parking lots.

A member of a begging gang said a majority of these beggars were living in the periphery areas of Mohali and Chandigarh and many of them speak Bengali and hide their original names.

A sudden increase in the number of beggars has also led to a competition in their own business.

Two years ago, there were only two or three groups of beggars. Of them, one belonged to a particular community and others were migrants from other states and the most notorious were Sansis.

As per rough estimates, there are around 80 families who are into the begging business. One such group of beggars was tracked down to shanties near the railway bridge at Jagatpura.

“We were into the business of collecting garbage and earn money. Male members of our family do the same business. Some of them goes to various light points and ask for alms while others opt to go for pheris (rounds) along with children," said Romila, a resident of a village.

Modus operandi

The groups, including children and females, mainly perform their duties during evening hours. Their target spots around famous eating joints. A survey in Sector 35 revealed that a family, including children, after taking a round of the market sit outside a few shops and starts begging.

After every two hours, a male member collects the earnings from the group in a park behind the main market of Sector 35. At 6pm, the group gets divided into small groups of girls and boys. The boys carry balloons while the girls ask for alms.

When asked, a girl that how much she earns a day, she said, "My Bhaiya (brother) told me to beg for more and more money. He gives me the highest denomination note from it and keep the rest with himself.”

The homeless beggars spend night at the area near the Aroma light point in front of the Sector 22 market.

The Sector 17 Plaza is operated by a single group that also includes young handicapped English-speaking beggars.

Protection money

One of their leaders, of Faiydan village said, “Different groups provide them security money in order to secure their areas. I am not aware about others. But many people residing here pay us money on a monthly basis.”

Lack of police action

In 2003, to crackdown the increasing menace of beggars active at traffic junctions and public places, the Chandigarh Police has launched a special drive by directing Station House Officer (SHOs) to find and arrest them at intersections of commercial area. The order is yet to be implemented.

Their modus operandi was to divert the attention of a lone car driver and pick up a bag or other expensive item from vehicles from traffic junctions.

In 2005, the police arrested five beggars out of which one was acquitted. In 2006, 11 persons were arrested out of which 10 were convicted. In 2007, during a special raid, the police arrested 15 beggars from different parts of the city.

In 2010, Shankar Mehta (Mehto), a Madhya Pradesh resident who was allegedly a beggar, was arrested by the Chandigarh Police. Beggars were arrested under the Haryana Prevention of Beggary Act, 1971, and the Punjab Prevention of Beggary Act, 1971, (extended to Chandigarh).

Bangladesh Natives

A majority of the beggars were Bangladesh natives. Some of them even possess ration cards. Some of them indulge in crimes like stealing bags, purses and other expensive items from vehicles parked in commercial areas. 

Work schedule

In the morning at around 11 am, eight children playing with pebbles were spotted in a Zirakpur-Chandigarh-bound CTU bus (CH01-G-8845). As soon as the bus reached near Hanuman Mandir in Sector 32, three of them stepped out and walked down to their destination, at the Sector 32 market. Later, others stepped down at the main light point of Sector 35. Two of them went to Sector 35-D while others moved ahead to the market of Sector 35-C. After spending almost two hours in the market, the group moved to the Canara Bank roundabout. In the evening, joined by a few senior members they again started their business.



Progressive Punjab Agriculture Summit
Punjab CM reviews preparations
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 2
To review the ongoing preparations for the upcoming Progressive Punjab Agriculture Summit (PPAS), Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today visited the site at the Baba Banda Singh Bahadur War Memorial at Chappar Chhiri village here this evening.

The three-day summit, which will witness over 50,000 farmers from across the country and as many as 10 chief ministers from various states, along with other senior national leaders of different political parties, is scheduled to kick off on February 16.

“The main objective of the summit is to apprise the farmers of various progressive farming-related occupations, benefits of crop diversification and alternative farming instead of traditional farming. Besides, an agenda on several issues confronting farmers and farming in India will also be set in the presence of experts in the business,” said a spokesperson for the CM's office.

While reviewing the preparations, Badal instructed the senior functionary to leave no stone unturned to make the summit successful.

The summit will be held on 135 acres where exhibitions, seminars and technical sessions on various aspects of agriculture would be conduced.

Leading world-class agriculture equipment/machinery manufacturing companies are being invited to display their products in the exhibition so that the farmers could be immensely benefited. Apart from that, nearly 250 livestock will be exhibited, which have won awards/prizes in the national championships during the past five years.

Over 200 GMADA workers have been working on a war-footing to construct new roads at the site and beautification of the area by constructing flowerbeds along the roads.

Five helipads are being constructed at the site. Work on levelling the land chunks for parking and setting up eateries was also on.

Later, Badal also visited the newly-built fruits and vegetables air-conditioned market constructed by the Mandi Board at Rs 50 crore in Sector 65, here.



Proposed hike in power tariff to increase residents' woes

Chandigarh has its own sheen being a unique city as compared to other cities of Punjab and Haryana. One of the reasons for this is comparatively lower power rates. Once the rates are increased, the fascination of residents of the neighbouring states of the city will become a thing of the past. The UT Electricity Department should first exercise its control over the wastage of electricity being misused by higher-ups and power theft. Arbitrarily enhancing the power tariff will not only burden the people, but also make their life difficult.

Ujagar Singh, Chandigarh

UT Admn should follow other states

When governments in Maharashtra and Delhi are subjected to extreme public and political pressures, they have found ways and means to prune the avoidable "add-ons" and are taking effective steps to cut down huge transmission losses, necessary to compute the final tariffs. In such a scenario, the UT Administration is trying to do just the reverse. Instead of following these states to lower the existing inflated tariffs, it is trying to increase the same.

SC Luthra, Mani Majra

Steep hike not justified

Though electricity rates here are much lower in comparison to Punjab, this steep hike is not justified. Recently, based on the self-declaration of the connected load, additional charges had to be deposited by the consumers. Another advance deposit charge (ADC) has been levied on consumers as additional security though certain amount as security was taken at the time of getting new connections.

IPS Anand, Mani Majra

Tariff hike to hit common man

The proposed hike in power tariff is certainly not justified. It will come as a bolt from the blue for the common man. Even, the domestic budget of upper-middle class families will be upset. They will have no other option but to cut down on other domestic expenses.

Priya Darsh Growar, Mohali

Check misuse of power

The proposed 21 per cent hike in power tariff by the UT Electricity Department is partly justified because it is a necessary evil. To cope with the increasing expenditure, tariff hike will be a last resort. The whole burden should not be passed on to the consumers. The department must check the distribution and transmission losses. The misuse of the power should be checked at earliest. Heavy penalty should be imposed on defaulters. Awareness campaigns to save power are the need of the hour.

Manoj Malik, Chandigarh

Strict action must against guilty

The proposed 21 per cent hike by the UT Electricity Department is illogical, unjustified and illegal. Instead of burdening the residents with such a huge increase, the department should check ‘kundi’ connections and other forms of power thefts. It should take legal action against the guilty. In fact, the residents' welfare associations must take up the matter with the authorities concerned.

RK Kapoor, Chandigarh


Notwithstanding the Beggary Act, begging is increasing fast in the city. Beggars, apart from seeking alms, also act as salespersons to distract the attention of motorists, especially four-wheelers, at traffic junctions. Several cases of thefts, especially breaking the windowpanes of four-wheelers, are attributed to the children who can be seen begging around the city. What needs to be done to curb the begging and rehabilitate the beggars. Write your suggestions along with passport size photographs to openhouse@tribunemail.com. 

Need to regulate supply, load

The Electricity Department recently collected a huge amount in the form of security as per the load from every consumer. Presently, there is a need to regulate the supply and load as per the requirement of the individual commercial establishment. There is also a need to frame a policy for the enhancement of power in shops and industries. The department should enforce strict laws to check power theft, which itself would increase its revenue.

Sukhpal Singh, Chandigarh

Department should take remedial steps

The proposed hike in power tariff is not justified. The department should take remedial steps. Third-party audits should be conducted to see check power is being purchased, transmitted and wasted. To check the power theft, electricity meters should be installed on electric poles, instead of the consumers’ premises. The transmission losses are very high. These should be reduced with new techniques and better infrastructure.

PS Bajwa, Secretary, FOSWAC

UT Admn should find an answer

Rather than preventing losses in distribution and transmission, the department has found an easy wayout to target the consumers. The UT administration should find an answer for this problem without putting an extra burden on the consumers.

Col RD Singh (retd), Ambala Cantonment

Erring officials should pay

The peculiar feature of public departments is that the losses experienced by them due to evasiveness and inefficiency of their staff are conveniently shifted to the end-users, the innocent public. The same is the case with the distribution and transmission losses of the UT Electrical Department. A general principle needs to be emphasised. Erring officials should be made to pay for the losses and in no case the public, directly or indirectly, should suffer.

MPS Chadha, Mohai

Hike to burn a hole in common man’s pocket

These days when most of the political parties are trying hard to woo voters by promising to reduce electricity bills and free water supply in their manifestos, the UT Administration is proposing to hike the electricity tariff by 21 per cent. The hike is illegal, irrational and uncalled for. An additional increase in the power tariff would put an extra burden on the common man's budget. The common man is reeling under the inflation due to rise in prices of essential commodities. For the past many billing cycles, residents have been receiving inflated bills, which are burning a hole in their pockets.

BM Dhawan, Chandigarh

Department must reorganise itself

The step seems more as a cover-up of the department’s inefficient working rather than a systematic planned step. Pensioners will be the worst suffers as they are already reeling under inflation. Moreover, an increase in the tariff cannot be a panacea for the ills being faced by the department. To enhance its revenue, it can adopt various other means. The department must reorganise itself to make it efficient, cut down on its overheads and unwanted costs, plug transmission losses and motivate consumers to cut down on their consumption.

Dr Rajeev Kumar, Chandigarh



CHB housing society seeks sector status from UT Admn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
The CHB Modern Complex Flats Resident Welfare Association, Mani Majra, has demanded permission in granting ownership rights to the pre-2010 GPA holders, regularisation of need-based changes in their flats by the Chandigarh Housing Board and sector status by the UT Administration.

The issues were raised in the annual general body meeting of the association. The apathy of the municipal corporation and security concerns were also discussed.

Chandigarh MP Pawan Kumar Bansal was the chief guest, while city mayor HC Kalyan was the guest of honour.

Justice HS Bhalla, member, Haryana Human Rights Commission and Babu Lal, nominated councillor, were also present. As many as 100 members attended the meeting.

Its patron Amrit Dhingra said for the next term of 2 years, RC Dhawan had been elected as the president, SC Luthra as the general secretary and JC Bhatia as the finance secretary. He authorised the president to nominate the remaining office-bearers.

Tributes paid to AAP leader

To commemorate the birth anniversary of late Santosh Koli, a group of 25 AAP workers took out a peaceful march from the Sector 16 cricket stadium to Sector 17 Plaza. They also lit candles to pay tributes to Koli in Sector 17. AAP leader Koli was seriously injured when a speeding car rammed a motorcycle on which she was riding pillion last year. She later died at a hospital in Gurgaon.

Students of Theatre Age Group during a musical workshop at Government High School, Sector 24, in Chandigarh on Sunday
Students of Theatre Age Group during a musical workshop at Government High School, Sector 24, in Chandigarh on Sunday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Musical workshop

Theatre Age Group, an NGO established by theatre artist Zulfiqar Khan conducted a musical workshop for 51 students. The group currently operates from Govt High School, Sector 24.

Valedictory function

The valedictory function of the Oil & Gas Conservation Fortnight (OGCF)-2014 was organised by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) through the state-level coordinator (oil industry). Krishan Kumar Handa, state-level coordinator (oil Industry), UT, and senior regional manager, HPCL, was also present along with Danish Ashraf, SDM (east), who was the chief guest.



Grant for women’s hostel reduced to Rs 3 cr
 Earlier, Rs 5 crore was to be granted; proposal to be tabled before Board of Finance on February 7
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
Even as the special committee had drafted a proposal of Rs 5 crore for the construction of a hostel for women research scholars in Panjab University, the grant has been reduced to Rs 3 crore in the final proposal.

‘Helplessness’ on the part of the University’s Finance Department in sparing such a hefty amount in the current year’s budget is cited as the reason for the reduction in the grant.

The proposal will be tabled before PU’s Board of Finance on February 7 for a final approval, following which work will be allocated for the hostel’s construction.

Earlier, the special committee constituted under the chairmanship of Vice-Chancellor Prof Arun Kumar Grover had drafted the proposal.

During a meeting, the Dean Student Welfare (DSW), said, “A grant of Rs 23 crore is required for the construction of the hostel.”

In the wake of the University’s Finance Department unable to spare the hefty amount in the current year’s budget, the DSW was asked by the VC to get an amount allocated in the current year’s budget, with the remaining share being met by other resources.

Confirming that the proposal recommended by the special committee had been sent to the finance department, DSW Navdeep Goyal, said, “It will be taken up during the board meeting.”

The members also suggested that the authorities should look for other resources to get funds for the hostel’s construction.

Sources said the authorities were mulling to seek grant under the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan (RUSA) for the project.

The experts further suggested that the authorities should seek funds from other departments, whose construction funds would lapse in this inancial year.

The hostel will be exclusively for women research scholars of Panjab University. Of the 1,000 research scholars at PU, 600 are women.

The authorities have proposed that of the two hostels, No. 11 and 12, currently in the pipeline, one will be earmarked for the women research scholars.

The hostel will be constructed on 80,000 sq feet area on the southern campus of the university. It will have 300 rooms under two categories.

For senior scholars, the rooms will be cubical with attached washrooms, while for juniors, the accommodation will be shared.



Workshop on theatre and personality development at PU 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 2
A two-day national workshop on “Research Methodology and Personality Development through Theatre” was organised by Panjab University Student Council and Centre for Public Health, PU.

Eminent theatre personality Prof Rani Balbir Kaur was the guest speaker on the first day. She delivered a lecture on “Theatre exercise: In personality development”.

Her discussions centered around the rising incidents of youth committing suicide or suffering psychological problems.

“Theatre can help the youth vent out their stress and anger in the right direction,” she added.

The workshop was coordinated by Himanshu Dwivedi, research scholar, Department of Indian Theatre and Dr Jaideep Kumar, research scholar, Centre for Public Health.

Kirandeep Singh, Surinder Pal, Manveer Singh and Jasbir Singh participated in the workshop. Dr Navdeep Kaur, assistant professor, Department of Indian Theatre, was the resource person on the second day.

This is the first workshop ever organised on theatre for the students of other departments in Panjab University. In feedback, more than 90% students stated that theatre exercise would help them fight stress.



Cultural extravaganza at Hansraj Public School
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 2
Students of Hansraj Public School put up a spectacular House show ‘Cultural Extravaganza’ today. The four houses included Yajur Veda, Atharva Veda, Sama Veda and Rig Veda.

The show opened with an invocation to Lord Ganesha — The Vighnaharta. Plays ranging on various topics such as importance of sports, teaching self-defence techniques to girls and teenage stress were an eye-opener both for the students and faculty members.

Social issues such as dowry and child labour were also discussed during the event. The dance performances included classical, contemporary, western, folk and rustic. The foot-tapping performances kept the audience enthralled.

The students had been practicing for the show from the past one month. School principal Jaya Bhardwaj lauded the students for putting up a fantastic show.

“Hansraj School works for the upgrade and holistic development of its students. The show infused team spirit and sportsmanship among the students,” she added.



Round Square annual general meeting

Vivek High School is hosting the annual general meeting of the Round Square from February 1 to 3. The first-of-its-kind move in UT, Punjab and Haryana, the event has brought together over 80 delegates from premier member schools of the Round Square in the South Asia and Gulf Region, including Armenia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, UAE, Jordan and Turkey, besides regular participant countries such as Australia, England and South Africa.
Members of the Regional Round Square hold a meeting at Vivek High School in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Members of the Regional Round Square hold a meeting at Vivek High School in Chandigarh on Sunday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

The school is a global member of the Round Square, an association of more than 82 schools across the world. The school’s association with the Round Square started in 1999 and became a global member in 2003.

The Round Square organisation holds regional annual general meetings in different four regions — Europe, Americas, Australasia, South Asia and Gulf Region — for strategic planning and discussion on relevant issues.

School principal PK Singh said, “Our school has been a committed member of the Round Square. We are glad to host this event for the city as well as the neighbouring states this year.”

The meeting emphasised on strategic planning for all member schools to adhere to the philosophy of German educationist Dr Kurt Hahn.

CA students celebrate annual day

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), celebrated the Annual Cultural Day — Encore 2014 for its students at SD College, Sector 32, on Sunday. The event saw participation from over 500 CA students. The event was inaugurated by Tanvi Garg, additional deputy commissioner and managing director, CITCO. — TNS



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