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The Punjab International Film Festival (PIFF), earlier scheduled from February 13 to 15, will now be held from March 20 to 22 at Mohali.

This change has been necessitated due to Stardust Awards being organised on February 15 in Mumbai.

Many Bollywood celebrities invited for the festival are also planning to attend the awards. Dev Anand, who will be honoured by a Lifetime Achievement Award by PIFF, is being given the similar honour by Stardust Awards.

Hi all. It has been a long time since I wrote on the city. But all these months, your city had been growing left right and up. Those of you living abroad away from your home, would like to know that the Uppal’s Centra Mall is open. Remember the Pasco Motors in Industrial Area? Right in front of the Modella, as you entered the Industrial Area Phase 1. It now features an all new Centra Mall and the four-screen PVR cinema had its opening yesterday.
Two months back we had the DT Cinema in the IT Park area, and at Zirakpur, you will soon have the Paras Down Town Square, which again shall have four screen ADLabs screens to satiate the entertainment-hungry populace.

With every passing day, the Union Territory of Chandigarh is adding more real estate projects to its kitty. These property projects are coming up on the bordering areas if the city and act as a connecting link between the city and its neighboring area. Many private property developers are exploring options to foray in the city’s real estate segment.

Real estate developer Emaar MGF Land has just launched an integrated township for Mohali. The township spread over 3,000 acres will have independent houses prices between Rs 36 – 38 lakh respectively. These villas offer Andalusian, Mediterranean and Spanish architecture for its users.

Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) has launched some of the most promising projects recently. The CHB tied up with Parsvnath Developers Limited to develop a housing complex near the Rajiv Gandhi IT Park. Parsvnath has built another mega project in collaboration with CHB. Named as Parsvnath Prideasia, this residential township will come up amidst Sukhna Lake, golf course, and an upcoming five star hotel. It has saleable residential area of 38.5 lakh sq ft and a commercial area of 2.7 lakh sq ft.

Another real estate developer, Omaxe, has a premium project called Omaxe Greens along the Dera Bassi Road. Omaxe Greens has 652 spacious apartments in 11 housing blocks.

Property developer, Ansal Properties and Infrastructure Ltd has built residential units along the Kharar-Landran Road in Chandigarh. These apartments are located strategically near the Mohali Golf Course and the IT institutes.

Besides residential real estate, the hospitality industry is also doping good in Chandigarh. The Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) has announced to set up a five-star hotel on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway. The corporation is in talks with Hilton, ITC, Marriot and Radisson groups to set up this project.

With the establishment of Rajiv Ghandi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP), Chandigarh has not only come up on the national map but also on the international one. Within a single year Infosys, Virsa, Net-Solutions, Taurusagile, and IBM are a few international IT companies which have established their units here.

Rajiv Ghandi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP) is a major step in bridging the gap between high levels of educational facilities in Chandigarh but not sufficient employment opportunities especially in the knowledge sector.

The Phase I of RGCTP has already been accorded Special Economic Zone (SEZ) status by Ministry of Commerce, Government of India. The UT administration has also approved the Rs.12 crore Entrepreneur Development Centre (EDC) to be constructed over an area of about 1.5 acres at Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park (RGCTP), Phase-I.

Seeing the huge demand for both commercial and residential land by the IT companies set up in the RGCTP, 250 acres of land has been developed under Phase II. Out of this 123 acres have been reserved for a Tech Habitat under Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in order to provide residential facilities to professionals working there. The remaining land has been developed for the use of IT companies such as Wipro, Tech Mahindra, eSys Technologies Ltd., and Bharti Airtel Ltd.

With huge demand pouring in from various sectors across the world, another 270 acres of land has been planned for development under the Phase III of the RGCTP. This land is under acquisition, which is likely to be completed by January 2007 after which further allotments will be undertaken as per the policy.

Keeping in view the huge demand for the residential property and the appreciation in the prices in the last one year, big national developers and colonisers like Westend, TDI, Ansals, MGF, Omaxe have penetrated into the tri-city. In commercial segment DLF has developed state of the art commercial building for the companies to set up operations in the technology park.

Chandigarh along with Ahmedabad, Indore, Kolkata and Nagpur comes under the Tier III cities category in India which is expected to emerge as major centres for the offshoring activities by IT companies over the next five years.

Following RGCTP, there is another Hardware Park being planned to set up in Industrial Area Phase III in Chandigarh near Moli Jagraon close to the railway station. Though it may take several years to come into its real shape, it will surely boost the industrial development in Chandigarh.

The question is what has necessitated this shift to smaller townships? The reason for this shift towards tier II and tier III cities is inevitable owing to the increasing demand for workforce and an acute shortage of manpower projected in the coming years. Secondly, with cost advantage being the crucial factor in the outsourcing, tier II and tier III cities provide the straight away edge over tier I cities which include Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi.

Talking about Chandigarh, the advantageous location of this place being the centre to states like Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh makes it a much convenient, accessible and preferred destination for both the employers and the employees. Also the excellent quality of life with a huge base of human resources and infrastructure coupled with the proactive policies of the administration play a very favourable role for such investments.

There is a reasonably good quality of talent pool available in Chandigarh. Due to availability of good number and quality of schools, colleges and the Panjab University, the city attracts young crowd from the surrounding states. Though there are some shortcomings like communications skills specifically in the Voice-based processes and areas where these skills are important but this will not be a hindrance in any way.

The government has taken initiatives on its part. As it has provided several benefits and concessions to the companies who have set up their unit in the RGCTP like the tax rebates which may be availed upto 10-15 years. Or facilities like 100 % electricity back –up.

On the other hand, the negative impacts of a technology park cannot be ignored. The fact that the property rates have appreciated manifolds due to setting up of the technology park is inevitable. Due to sky-rocketed property rates, the common man has been badly hit. As now his pocket does not allow him to buy any property, then let it be a flat or a residential land in and around the technology park. Today a 250 square yard plot costs around 60-80 lakhs which used to cost around Rs. 20 lakh 2 years back.

One of the main reasons of property rates appreciation has been due to the speculation of the market by the property dealers and the investors. All this has resulted into too much manipulation of the real estate prices.

The fact that Chandigarh will emerge as a huge IT hub in the coming years is undebatable. But the question still remains unanswered that will it be able to sustain this development or history will repeat itself as the case happened in Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Property values in Chandigarh and Mohali are expected to rise with internationalization of its airport. According to property brokers, there is a noticeable surge in inquiries for properties around airport in the past three months.

Residential areas like Ram Darbar Colony, Sector 31 and Sector 47 are among the most benefited, Amit Chugh, a property broker informed. He said that an international airport will enable Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) to land on Chandigarh smoothly and therefore we can expect rise in NRI investment.

At present, monthly rentals for apartments in Sector 31 and Sector 47 are from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000 and the capital values for residential plots Rs 1,800-Rs 2,500 per sq. ft. Brokers project a rise of 10 per cent in the capital value in the near term. “Much depends upon the way this project progresses in the future. If everything goes well, like the process of land acquisition and development, property values in adjoining areas of airport will rise substantially,” said a property consultant.

The airport boost

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has planned to bring Chandigarh airport to international standards. It was only on January 05, civil aviation minister Praful Patel laid the foundation of international civil air terminal complex at Mohali. The new airport building will be able to cater to 700 passengers.

The modernization project would also involve construction of apron for remote parking of eight wide-bodied jet aircrafts. According to sources, the State Government of Punjab has been requested to give about 300 acres of land, identified on the other side of runway with independent access from the city side.

A Joint Venture company between AAI and Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) will be handed over the task of maintaining the new airport. The company will also be responsible for the city side development near airport.

City Center Sector 17

The main shopping and commercial centre of Chandigarh is Sector 17. This vast commercial complex is a pedestrian’s paradise with four main piazzas meeting at a ‘chowk’. It provides something for everyone, from hectic business activity to unhurried window shopping and even crowd gazing in the vicinity of the fountain. Air-conditioned showrooms and departmental stores cater to the needs of shoppers. Government Emporia, innumerable shops, eateries, coffee houses, bars and pubs keep the visitor fully engrossed.

The City Centre or Sector 17, as it is popularly called, is architecturally a blend of cuboids building blocks and open spaces. The piazzas livens up in the afternoon with the office crowds out in the open spaces and shopping colonnades to refresh themselves. In the evenings, shoppers and tourists, enjoying ice creams or popcorns, sit on the steps of the “dove of peace” sculpture, where water cascades down from one level to another in geometrically shaped tanks, amidst delightful play of colourful lights.

 Other Shopping Centers

Auto Centers              Sectors 28, 21
Book Shops                Sector 14, 17, 19, 22
Electronic Goods        Sector 17, 22
Fruits, Vegetables      Sector 26
Furniture                    Sector 34, 7 (Madhya Marg)
Garment, Shoes          Sector 17, 22, 9
Hardware                    Sector 7, 18, 22
Hotels                         Sector 17, 22, 35
Medical Stores            Sector 11, 16, 22
Meat and Fish             Sector 21
Vegetable and Fruit    Sector 19, 20 and 22
Cars and Scooters      Industrial Area

Sukhna Lake  in Chandigarh, India is an artificial lake at the foothills of the Shivalik hills. This 3 km² rainfed lake was created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream coming down from the Shivalik Hills. Originally the seasonal flow entered the lake directly causing heavy siltation. To check the inflow of silt, 25.42 km² of land was acquired in the catchment area and put under vegetation.

In 1974, the Choe was diverted and made to bypass the lake completely, the lake being fed by three siltation pots, minimising the entry of silt into the lake itself.

The creation of the lake was one of the greatest gift from Le Corbusier and the Chief Engineer P L Verma to the city of Chandigarh. To preserve its tranquility Corbusier insisted that it be forbidden to motor boats and the top of the dam (promenade) prohibited to vehicular traffic. The lake is fringed by a golf course to the south, and Nek Chand’s famous Rock Garden of Chandigarh to its west.

Sukhna is an inseparable part of the city of Chandigarh. Le Corbusier had foreseen that the residents of the city would be drawn it for the ‘care of the body and spirit’. The city planners were deeply attached to the lake. So much so that Pierre Jeanneret’s ashes were immersed in the lake in 1970 as per his wishes by his niece.

The lake, which was the venue for the Asian Rowing Championships, has the longest channel for rowing and yachting events in Asia. It also has facilities for other water sports like water surfing, skiing and skulling.

Sukhna is a sanctuary for many exotic migratory birds like the Siberian duck, Storks and Cranes, during the winter months. The lake has been declared as a protected national wetland by the Government of India.

During summers, there are streams of men, women and children from all walks of life offering voluntary service to desilt the lake bed for about three months. This annual ritual has been a regular feature since long ago.

Sukhna Lake is the venue for many festive celebrations too. The most popular is the Mango Festival held during the monsoons when scores of varieties of mangoes are on display. From time-to-time other food festivals, featuring specialities from different Indian States, are also held here, along with cultural performances.

After the partition of British India into the two nations of India and Pakistan in 1947, the region of Punjab was also split between India and Pakistan. The Indian state of Punjab required a new capital city to replace Lahore, which became part of Pakistan during the partition. After several plans to make additions to existing cities were found to be infeasible for various reasons, the decision to construct a new and planned city was undertaken. The city derives its name from Chandi Mandir, a temple of goddess Chandi, located in nearby Panchkula District of Haryana. The word Chandigarh literally means “the fort of Chandi“.

Of all the new town schemes in independent India, the Chandigarh project quickly assumed prime significance, because of the city’s strategic location as well as Jawaharlal Nehru’s (the first Prime Minister of independent India) personal interest in it. Commissioned by Nehru to reflect the new nation’s modern, progressive outlook, Nehru famously proclaimed Chandigarh to be “unfettered by the traditions of the past, a symbol of the nation’s faith in the future.” Several buildings and layouts in Chandigarh were designed by the Swiss-born French architect and planner, Le Corbusier, in the 1950s. Le Corbusier was in fact the second architect of the city, after the initial master plan was prepared by the American architect-planner Albert Mayer who was working with the Polish-born architect Matthew Nowicki. It was only after Nowicki’s untimely death in 1950 that Le Corbusier was pulled into the project.

On 1 November 1966, the newly-formed Indian state of Haryana was carved out of the eastern portion of the Punjab, in order to create Haryana as a majority Hindi speaking state, while the western portion of Punjab retained a mostly Punjabi-speaking majority and remained as the current day Punjab. However, the city of Chandigarh was on the border, and was thus created into a union territory to serve as capital of both these states. Chandigarh was due to be transferred to Punjab in 1986, in accordance with an agreement signed in August 1985 by Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India at that time, with Sant Harchand Singh Longowal of the Akali Dal. This was to be accompanied by the creation of a new capital for Haryana, but the transfer has been delayed pending an agreement on which some villages in southern districts of Punjab, should be transferred to Haryana in exchange and punjabi speaking parts of Haryana such as Jind, Sirsa, Fatehabad, Ambala etc. and Ganganagar of Rajasthan should be transferred to Punjab.

On 15 July 2007, Chandigarh became the first Indian city to go smoke-free[citation needed]. Smoking at public places has been strictly prohibited and considered as a punishable act by Chandigarh Administration.