C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Administration to form panel on college fee, funds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Chandigarh Administration today decided to form a committee to examine all issues regarding the fee and different funds charged by the colleges of the city, giving the first indication of resolving the issue with the college students.

The committee will “dispassionately” examine the structure of tuition fee, admission fee and the different funds at present being charged by different colleges. The need for rationalisation of funds will also be examined by the committee, a press note issued by the Administration said.

The decision was taken after the local MP, Mr Pawan Bansal, and a delegation of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) met the UT Administrator, Justice OP Verma, separately.

Taking up cudgels on behalf of the protesting students, Mr Bansal sought the intervention of the Administration on fee-hike issue and apprised Justice Verma of the demands of the students. Activists of the ABVP submitted a memorandum regarding the fee structure in various colleges, pointing out the variation in fee being charged by the colleges.

Meanwhile, expressing solidarity with the students of government colleges fighting for a rollback of the decision to hike-fee by the UT Administration, students of all city colleges, government and private, refrained from attending classes for the third week running.

College campuses wore a deserted look though there was a little activity outside the campuses. A few students, however, did report at colleges in the morning after reading in newspapers that the indefinite strike was over. They were turned away from the gate and urged to keep away from their classes by members of the College Students’ Council which kept a vigil outside the college campuses despite the cold.

Members of the co-ordination committee, comprising college students and formed by the Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC), also went round the city to ensure that no classes were held at any college.

The president of Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26 here, Sandeep Verma, said colleges would remain closed till the demand for a rollback of hiked fee was met by the authorities.

“Students of the private and government colleges began a joint protest against the overcharging of funds and fee as well as the demanded a rollback by the UT Administration. Though we have been assured of action as far as our demand of the university looking into the issue of different fee and funds being charged by private colleges is concerned, we will not leave the government college students midway. No classes will be held till the UT Administration decides in favour of the students,” he said.

A meeting of the presidents of the college students’ councils was also held at the university where it was decided to continue the protest till the Administration gave a favourable response.


Genesis of college fee imbroglio
P. P. S. Gill and Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Why do students go on strike over fee and fund structure either in the universities or their affiliated colleges in Punjab or Chandigarh? Who should determine the fee structure—the government or universities or colleges? Can there be a uniform fee structure for all colleges? Does the determination of fee structure by the government tantamount to infringement of the autonomy of the universities? Do colleges follow the fee structure recommended by the universities?

If there cannot be straight answers or simple solutions to these questions, there also cannot be a uniform fee structure for all colleges, located in urban, semi-urban, kandi and rural areas.

After stiff resistance by the students and Akali-BJP front, the Punjab Government was forced to withdraw its May 13 notification on fee and on fund restructuring on July 22. While Panjab University had rejected that notification, Guru Nanak Dev University and Punjabi University had accepted it. Under the notification, the annual fee at the undergraduate level (arts, commerce, science) ranged from Rs 4,000 to Rs 13,000. An undergraduate arts student was to pay Rs 8,500 to Rs 11,000, a commerce student, Rs 9,000 to Rs 11,000 and a science student, Rs 10,500 to Rs 15,000.

As the Punjab University had termed the notification ‘illegal’ and ‘infringement’ on the universities’ autonomy, it refused to enhance admission fee and tuition fee to Rs 500 per annum and Rs 500 per month, respectively, as stated in the notification. Consequently the university revised the fee structure for its 122 affiliated colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh, on October 28 effecting a hike of only 20 per cent in only admission and tuition fee and no increase in funds operational from the academic session of 2004-05.

Now the university’s proposed hike ranges from Rs 150 to Rs 170 per annum. The enhanced fee structure, as approved by the university, is as follows:

At present, at the undergraduate level, Panjab University’s affiliated colleges are charging Rs 5,580 to Rs 7,180; whereas, the new prescribed annual fee will be Rs 5,730 to Rs 7,334.

Will the private-aided colleges abide by the university directive? Aware of violation of the prescribed fee structure by the affiliated colleges in the past, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof. K N Pathak, has constituted a committee to go into fee structure embroglio in all affiliated colleges and also determine if the funds charged from students are legal or illegal or required.

The committee will also discuss the issue of non-payment of gratuity to teaching and non-teaching staff and also status of 1,500 unaided posts, since 1981. As their salary and gratuity is not in the ambit of the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme, these are met out of funds collected from students.

In the semi-urban, kandi and rural colleges, fee structure is on the lower side than in the urban colleges, That is in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala. This is because facilities for students are claimed to be more than in the colleges in the backward areas. If the number of students in these urban colleges is more, so is the staff strength. In the next 2 to 3 years, at least 40 per cent staff in these urban colleges will retire. That will involve payment of over Rs 30 lakh, as gratuity by the managements of the private colleges. This heavy sum, therefore, is collected from students.

Panjab University Syndic and Senator, Prof Charanjit Chawla, says,‘‘If Haryana can pay gratuity, Rs 3.5 lakh to a retiring teacher and Rs 2 lakh to a non-teaching employee, why can not Punjab? Since Punjab does not pay, hence the high-cost funds charged from students. The share of higher education to GSDP was 2.2 per cent in Punjab and around 3 per cent in Chandigarh, as against the Centre's recommendation of 6 per cent, he added.

The educational institutions often cite two reasons to justify enhancement in fee and funds ‘‘financial crisis’ and ‘inflation’. Is the upward revision of fee structure the only alternative? While the admission and tuition fee go into the government treasury, funds are retained by the colleges to provide academic infrastructure and also to pay salaries to teaching and non-teaching staff. The universities collect a small percentage of the prescribed funds and charge examination fees. This is one reason why wide disparity in the fee and fund structure in colleges for the past 40 years.

After the Punjab Government, for the first time, had issued a notification on May 13, the Chandigarh Administration had followed suit on July 2, enhancing fee and fund structure. Unlike Punjab, the Chandigarh Administration had not rolled back its notification. Hence, the boycott of classes in the city colleges.

Except Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, no other private-aided college in the city has implemented the Chandigarh Administration’s notification. Today, that college is charging Rs 8,500 to Rs 9,200 per undergraduate student, per annum.

Professor Chawla says,‘‘Only the state universities can decide the fee and funds to be charged by the affiliated colleges, under Clause 10 of the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme. The two notifications were thus illegal. There was not a ripple when the Panjab University decided to effect 10 per cent hike in fee and fund structure, every year in 1999. Look at the storm now created by the two notifications.’’

There are 230 government and private-aided colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh. While 51 government colleges are in Punjab, four are in Chandigarh. There are 172 private colleges in Punjab, seven in Chandigarh. Under 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme, Punjab gives Rs 57 crore to 172 colleges and Rs 82 crore to 51 government colleges. The student strength is much higher in private colleges (two lakh). 


Good deal awaits PEC employees
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
Important safeguards are being put in place by the Chandigarh Administration before a final notification is issued on the status and service benefits of teachers and employees of Punjab Engineering College (PEC), besides deciding upon the future of the real estate of the college valued at about Rs 200 crore. The PEC has been given the status of a deemed university and all these matters need to be decided.

Well-placed sources said teachers and employees would get a better deal than what was given to the municipal corporation employees. The retirement age might be enhanced from the present 58 years to 60 years. The formula being worked out for PEC was that the employees and teachers would keep on getting all benefits they were entitled to as government employees. The Administration would carry out the notification to ensure that nobody’s pay was reduced and no service benefits were withdrawn. This would mean increments in salary, dearness allowance and other benefits. There are a total of 1000 employees and teachers, including about 250 faculty members.

As in the case of MC employees, at PEC all post-retirement benefits like pension, gratuity and provident fund management would be handled by the office of the Accountant-General and not pass onto the hands of the society which had been formed to manage the affairs of PEC. The Administration had tied up with the Government of India to keep on providing grant-in-aid for salary of teachers and employees. The wage bill of the PEC was close to Rs 15 crore per annum. By no yardstick could PEC be self-sufficient to generate that kind of money within the first few years of having got the status of a deemed university.

The main concern was the status of the 146-acre campus which by estimates was valued at nearly Rs 200 crore.

The Administration had kept a check that not an inch of land could be leased to anyone without the permission of the Administration which would continue to have ownership control over the real estate. For maintenance, the Chief Engineer would get the work done.

The society which would run PEC comprises officials of the Administration thus the control over financial resources would not be relinquished even as there would be total academic freedom for the college to decide the curriculum. Among those who comprise the society are the Adviser, the Home Secretary, the Finance Secretary, the Joint Secretary, Finance, and the Director Joint Secretary, Technical Education.Back


Resumption notices served on 19 schools
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 17
The Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has initiated resumption proceedings against 19 schools here for violating the terms of land allotment.

Officials in the Estate Office confirmed that notices had been issued to these schools for upgrading their levels without obtaining permission from HUDA. A survey conducted by the HUDA authorities recently showed that most of the schools allotted sites for a nursery school or primary school had been upgraded to high school level or senior secondary level and middle schools and high schools to higher secondary level, by seeking direct affiliation from the state education board or Central Board of Secondary Education.

The HUDA rules specify that the site meant for a nursery school or a primary school cannot be upgraded as it is tantamount to misusing the site for the purpose other than what it has been allotted for. The education board granting affiliation to these schools is supposed to get a no-objection certificate from HUDA before the affiliation is granted — a practice not being adhered to.

Though the schools have now been issued notices, it is alleged that HUDA has issued notices to these schools several times, but no further action (resumption of sites) has been done.

Senior officials in the HUDA admit that their hands are tied when it comes to initiating any action against defaulting schools.

“Most of the schools have a former bureaucrat on its Board of management or enjoy political patronage, which ensures them cover. But this time, we will initiate proceedings against them,” says a senior HUDA official.

Sources in the District Town and Country Planning Department say there are 51 nursery school sites, 50 primary school sites and 18 high school sites in Panchkula, Panchkula Extension and Mansa Devi Complex. While the size of a nursery school site is 800 square metres, a primary school site is one acre and a high school site five acres.

However, a number of primary schools have come up on sites having areas adequate only for nursery school and in some cases, for creches.

In some cases, higher secondary schools have come up on land for running a primary school. In blatant violation of building bylaws, these schools have expanded their buildings by adding floors and leaving little open spaces.

Also, two schools have come up in Industrial Area. The District Town and Country Planning Department informed Chandigarh Tribune that they had not earmarked or allotted any school site in Phase I or II, Industrial Area.

These schools have also been granted affiliation by the education board. A few primary schools in the township are also running in two-room sets, and have been affiliated to the state education board.



Hit by cow, girl riding scooter hurt
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 17
Another case of an accident involving stray cattle has come to light in, which a 19-year-old girl, Savneet, was injured on Friday.

The victim, a resident of Sector 41 here, was returning home on her Kinetic Honda when a cow came in front of the vehicle in Sector 36. She applied brakes but the cow rammed into the vehicle. She sustained injuries on her head and bruises on her body.

Mr H.S. Mokha, father of Savneet, said, ‘‘She was taken to the General Hospital, Sector 16. She had sustained an injury on the rear of her head.

We thought ourselves to be lucky, when the cops told us that a girl (Promila of Sector 25) had died in an almost similar accident the same morning”.Back

Speaking out
Community help mooted for tackling cattle menace
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
It is a menace affecting everyone’s life in the city. As residents drive down the roads, there is a constant fear of a charging cow or a bull.

Fed up of politicians and the municipal corporation, a cross-section of residents feels strongly that the problem could be contained by an active community participation.

“People from all walks of life should own social responsibility,” Dr K.S. Raju, a nominated councillor, said. Mr Manjeet Singh, a private contractor, said: “Politicians should rise above political aspirations and create a public opinion to force the local Administration to act”.

Dr Raju said the heads of stray cattle was managed by certain people who remained out of picture. Mr Didar Khan, a social activist, said the Administration and the municipal corporation should convene a meeting of the gram panchayats of villages and of neighbouring villages in Punjab and Haryana. Social activists and NGOs, and panchayats should be persuaded to look after 10 to 15 heads of cattle each. Some incentives could be given to the panchayats, he said.

Coming forward to own responsibility of looking after the cattle provided sufficient land was given by the Administration, Mr Vijay Singh Bhardwaj, spokesman of the Punjab and Chandigarh unit of the VHP, said there was ‘gau char’ land in every village. The administration should lease out sufficient land in the border areas, he said, adding that the VHP would generate funds at mandirs to look after the stray cattle.

Mr Satya Pal Jain, a former MP, said it was the responsibility of the corporation to round up stray cattle. “The Mayor can not run from the responsibility by saying that the staff was not ready to transport the cattle outside the city. We would neither allow the deaths of cow nor see residents being killed by them”, he said. The problem of shunting out the stray animals could be sorted out with the neighbouring states. He demanded that the Administration should earmark 100 acres to set up a gaushala on the outskirts of the city.

A human rights lawyer, Mr Arunjeev Singh Walia, said the death of a 23-year-old girl was not an isolated incident. It was the duty of the corporation to check the cattle menace. After discussing the matter with other members of the Lawyers for Human Rights International, Mr Walia said the organisation would seek legal remedy to the menace. He said it was the duty of the state to protect the life of every resident. “If the people are aware of their rights they could take the local authorities to task”, he said.

Meeting on cattle menace today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Mayor, Mr Subhash Chawla, has called an all-party meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue of cattle menace in the city. Mr Chawla said all major political parties would be given a forum to give their suggestions on controlling the menace.

The Commissioner, the Medical Officer of Health and officers concerned of the corporation would be present at the meeting. Mr Chawla said in light of the death of a 23-year-old, it had become necessary to do the needful.

He said another meeting with the Residents Welfare Association would be called.

He said issues like catching the stray cattle, shortage of space in the cattle pond and gaushala and shunting out of the cattle would be discussed.Back


It’s time now for e-tutoring
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
After successfully launching and implementing technology aided learning in classrooms, DAV Public School, Sector 8, has moved on to bigger things.

Next in line for this computer-savvy school is the initiative of getting the concept of e-tutoring to the city.

Dabbling in use of technology beyond the portals of the school to reach out to the students, the institution has been chosen as a pilot school for the e-tutoring project.

“This will help us to extend the scope of technology to teach students beyond school hours. The teachers would be the focus of the training which will be imparted over two months. Its success is not doubtful, especially since most students have computers at their homes,” explains Principal Sarita Manuja.

“We were keeping a tab on developments in technology and are aware of online education and virtual classrooms happening as a part of alternative education the world over.

With e-tutoring being a new concept in education as far as India is concerned, we have caught
on to the idea and have decided to be pioneers in this experiment,” she informs.

“With the teachers and students taking very well to use of technology for teaching, my challenges increased. I had to give them something new when this programme came our way. No school in India had taken any initiative with regard to e-tutoring and we thought of testing the waters,” Ms Manuja adds.

“This is a worldwide programme and the concept of e-tutoring has picked up in advanced countries and has been very well received by the students and the public. Trained in this concept, my teachers will be able to compete with teaching community at the international level,” she asserts.

“We have an educators forum called Koshish, comprising schools and individuals. For their benefit, we are holding a demonstration to create awareness on how e-tutoring can benefit the students and teachers, raising the standard of education in the process. This concept being new, will need a little more convincing,” adds the Principal.


2 Guards’ Raising Day celebrations
Tribune News Service

The then President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, with officers of 2 Guards
The then President, Dr Rajendra Prasad, with officers of 2 Guards during a visit to the unit’s officers’ mess in 1954.

Chandigarh, November 17
One of the oldest regiments of the Indian Army, 2 Guards (1 Grenadiers) is celebrating its 225th Raising Day from November 21-23 at its location in the Punjab Sector. Chief of the Army Staff, Gen N.C. Vij, is scheduled to attend the celebrations in November.

The celebrations will include a guard of honour, a special sainik sammelan and a “barakhana” for all ranks. In addition several intra-unit sports competitions and a variety entertainment programme is also being organised.

Presently commanded by Col B.B. Vats, the battalion traces its history to 1778 when it was raised by Capt James Stewart at Mumbai as an ad hoc Grenadiers battalion by taking two Grenadiers companies each from the three sepoy battalions of the erstwhile Bombay Army.

Immediately on raising, the unit saw active service with the British forces during their advance to Pune. It fought the Maratha forces at Karla and Telegaon, where Capt Stewart was killed and the unit suffered heavy losses, but the men displayed great gallantry. Encouraged by the ad hoc unit’s performance, the Bombay Government decided to make it a permanent regiment by officially raising the 1st Grenadiers Battalion on November 12, 1779.

During 1783-84, the Grenadiers participated in the heroic defence of Mangalore alongside the Black Watch, following which the badge of the White Horse of Hanover and the Battle Honour Mangalore were conferred upon the regiment. The siege of Bharatpur, battle of Hyderabad and operations against Waghers of Gujarat were the next campaigns before the Grenadiers marched to Kandahar in March, 1880, during the Second Afghan War, where it won the Battle Honour Kandahar, 1880 and Battle Honour, Afghanistan 1878-1880. From 1885—1887 the unit took part in operations in Burma, winning another battle honour and then went to Aden in 1901. A part of the unit also served with the Somaliland Field Force from 1902—1904, where two officers, Lt G.M. Rolland and Lt H.A. Carter were awarded the Victoria Cross.

Renamed as 101st Grenadiers, it won Battle Honour East Africa 1914-16 during the First World War and in 1918 took part in the famous Ghurabeh Hills raid, north of Jerusalem, adding battle honours Egypt, Palestine, Gaza, Megiddo and Nablus to its Colours. Later, it was rechristened as 1st Battalion of the 4th Bombay Grenadiers. During World War-II, the Grenadiers were stationed in Persia and they returned to India in 1946 being redesignated as 1st Battalion of the Indian Grenadiers.

During Partition, the battalion escorted a large number of refugees and in June 1948, captured the Gurais valley in J&K. It moved to Delhi and on August 1, 1952, was reorganised as 2 Guards.

In December, 1994, it assumed a new role when it was converted into a mechanised infantry battalion.


ITI Principal dies after scuffle with thief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Principal of the Industrial Training Institute (ITI), Sector 28, Mr Shivdev Singh, died tonight here at his residence in Sector 27 while preventing a thief from stealing petrol from his scooter parked outside his house.

Forty-three-year-old Shivdev Singh suffered from hypertension. He is believed to have died of a heart attack following the incident.

According to the police, Shivdev Singh spotted two thieves fiddling with the petrol tank of his scooter. He instantly caught hold of one while the other ran away. Trying to break away from his hold, the thief pushed Shivdev Singh who immediately collapsed. By this time the neighbours had gathered at the scene. They caught the thief who was handed over to the police. He was identified as Mohammad Parvez. Shivdev Singh was rushed to the GMCH-32, where he was declared “brought dead.”

Mr Shivdev Singh is survived by his wife and a 12-year-old son. His parents, who are in Andaman-Nicobar Islands, have been informed. They are expected to reach here tomorrow. Mr Shivdev Singh, a successful academician, had received appreciation from the Chandigarh Administration for his performance of election duty in the last parliamentary elections.


Bindrakhia’s neighbour remembers him
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 17
Surjeet Bindrakhia was one of the many Punjabi singers who had made Mohali his home. Singing for many years now, Bindrakhia’s career as one of the top singers in Punjab was cut short today following his death.

Married to Preet Kanwal Bains 12 years ago, it seemed that his wife brought good luck with her when he gained popularity with his album ‘Munda ki mangda’. Mr Amardeep Singh, his fan and neighbour, recalls that Bindrakhia shifted to Mohali some years ago and for him it was dream come true. ‘‘I could not believe that I would be living next door to my favourite singer,” he said.

Now taking care of his house in the absence of the family members, who left for village Bindrakh this morning, Mr Amardeep Singh informed that his fans and friends had been visiting the house, trying to confirm the news. ‘‘Everyone is shocked. People have been calling from the USA and England, wanting to know what happened to him,’’ he added.

Shattered because of the death, he recalled that Bindrakhia had been keeping well since the time he last came from the hospital in Mohali, where he was admitted for 10 days. ‘‘He was in Silver Oaks Hospital for some ailments but his latest reports, just a week old, showed that he was hale and hearty. I still cannot believe that he is no more,’’ he said.

Some of his popular numbers include ‘Dupatta Tera Sat Rang Da’ (1994), ‘Jadon Yadh Teri Aundi’ (1994), ‘Hai Darhuka’ (1995), ‘Munde Aakhde Pataka’ (1995), ‘Munda Ki Mangda’ (1995), ‘Dil Watte Dil Mangda’ (1996), ‘Sohni Naar’ (1996), and ‘Tauba Tauba Hussan’ (1996).

Meanwhile, members of the Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademy, Chandigarh, expressed grief and shock at the death of Surjeet Bindrakhia. The president of the Akademy, Jaspal Bhatti stated in a press note that Bindrakhia was not part of the pop singers’ race but sang from the heart. ‘‘Punjabiat dripped from his voice and he had a fan following not just in India, but the whole world,’’the press note said.

28-sec chant!

Not many knew that Surjeet Bindrakhia had set a world record for the longest unbroken ‘haek’ (chant) lasting 28 seconds. ‘‘It was in a song of from the cassette munda ki mangda. Known also for the high notes that he would sing in, his singing style was typical and original.


Freedom fighter dies at function
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 17
When 87-year-old freedom fighter-cum-Vice-President of the Chandigarh Freedom Fighters Association, S.R. Sharma, left his house to attend a function being organised in memory of Lala Lajpat Rai at a Sector 15 bhavan, little did his family know that he would never return.

The freedom fighter died due to massive cardiac arrest during the function being attended by the Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator, Justice O.P. Verma. He had retired as assistant librarian from Panjab University in 1976.

As the news about his death spread, freedom fighters from all over the country called up his family to express their condolences. “His life was spent fighting for the country’s freedom and he died during a function organised in honour of another freedom fighter in the presence of the Governor,” his family said. “It sums up his entire life.”

Sharma had remained underground for almost two years in the pre-Partition days and was behind bars for almost the same period at Ferozepore. After Independence, he was honoured with Swatantra Samaan pension. His contribution was recognised by the Chandigarh Administration also. On August 9, he was taken to the President’s residence in New Delhi where he, along with eight other freedom fighters from the city, were honoured.

Today, as he was about to leave, Sharma’s son Nalin requested him not to go. “Please do not go, it’s cold and cloudy outside,” he had told him. “But he left after we went for work. In fact, my father reached the venue by bus. We would have dropped him in a car had he insisted,” he said.

According to eye witnesses, Sharma was listening to the Governor’s speech when he started gasping for breath before collapsing. Realising that something was wrong, the visitor sitting next to him immediately called for help. Gloom descended on the venue as everyone rushed for help.

Reacting fast, the SHO of Sector 11 police station, Inspector Prem Lal Chauhan, called for a vehicle. Within minutes, he was rushed to the PGI where he was declared dead on arrival.

His relatives were informed about the incident. “The news left us shocked,” Nalin said. “He was not suffering from any ailment.” Sharma is survived by his two brothers and three sisters. His cremation will take place on November 18 at Sector 25.Back


PUDA indifference bane of Phase X shopkeepers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 17
The Phase X market shopkeepers are up in arms against the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) for ignoring the market and allegedly causing them losses in terms of fall in the market price of their shops.

While according to some shopkeepers, no maintenance work has been undertaken by PUDA in the part of the Phase X market, which falls just opposite Sylvi Park here, there are others who say the reason the market has not been developed and does not attract many customer is because a large number of small booths are still lying unsold.

“The market block here is the worst developed in entire Mohali. We have paid half a crore each to buy a showroom here, but have not been able to even rent out shops as no one wants to come here for business. The park within the market remains undeveloped and there are weeds and small shrubs growing all across the block. What is PUDA doing with the money that we have paid them?” questions Mr Harpreet Singh, owner of SCF 63 here.

“The market toilet is not used as it has been leaking since it was constructed. In fact someone should tell the authorities that the drinking water pipe is inches away from the toilet pipes and there could be contamination of drinking water”, he added.

The owners of other shop-cum-flats agree with Mr Harpreet Singh. “We have been writing to PUDA for over an year now, but no one listens to us. There are no streetlights in the market and since this block is totally ignored by PUDA, we are in fact losing money each day,” said another SCF owner.

The shopkeepers also pointed that the market rate of shops in this block had fallen due to its not being functional. “We are in the block which is right opposite Sylvi Park, which is one of the most frequented parks of the township. Hundreds of people visit the park each day. They are running a restaurant and a amusement park there while the market is not functional at all. And its not because of the location, but because of its poor condition”, added Mrs Harjeet Kaur, owner of SCF 64.


Parks inspected
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 17
In his inimitable style, the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today came down heavily on officials of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) for ignoring the various maintenance and repair works under their jurisdiction in the township.

The MLA had undertaken a public inspection of various parks in the township this evening along with Municipal Council (MC) and PUDA officials. Starting at 6 pm, the MLA had visited six parks by 9 pm, three of which were with the MC and three with PUDA.

Coming to the conclusion that the Municipal Council had fared much better as far as maintenance of parks was concerned while PUDA had failed to provide adequate facilities to the residents, including lighting in the parks, the MLA stated that all that PUDA did was to make money ignoring its other functions in the township.

The MLA has ordered that PUDA should provide him with complete landscape plans of all green belts and parks being maintained by it and assign specific duties to all those employed by the authority to take care of the parks. ‘‘I have called these 70-odd employees to meet me tomorrow,’’ he added.

Starting the inspection from the Fountain Park in Sector 70, the MLA met a group of residents of the sector who apprised him of the other problems being faced by them. The residents complained about the sorry state of roads in the sector and said the large number of areas left undeveloped by PUDA had led to growth in non-uniform patches.

Accompanied by the Estate Officer, PUDA, Mr T.K. Goel, the Chief Engineer, PUDA, Mr Tirlochan Singh, the MC Executive Officer, Mr Harbhagvan Garg, and the SDM, Mr M.L. Sharma, the MLA then visited the Sector 58 industrial belt being developed by PUDA and was shocked to find the place surrounded with heaps of fallen leaves and filth with buffaloes and dogs resting there. The MLA’s inspection of the parks ended at Sylvi park in Phase X.


Follow Lajpat Rai’s path, says Governor
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 17
For observing the 75th anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai’s martyrdom, an year-long programme began today, with Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator Justice O.P. Verma giving a call for realising his dream based on the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. Panjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof K.N. Pathak also spoke on the occasion.

Addressing a seminar organised by the Servants of People Society on ‘Re-visioning India’, Justice Verma said we must follow the path shown by Lalaji to bridge the crucial gap between the common man and the ruling class. He asserted that Lalaji envisioned an India where leaders would live like the common man, eating their food, dressing like them, sometime working with their hands for their living and sharing with them their thoughts, anxieties and troubles.

Lalaji, he said, had visualised India in its social, cultural, economic and political aspects and sacrificed his life for the realisation of his vision. The Governor added that on this solemn occasion, the residents ought to dedicate themselves to the realisation of his vision of a progressive, casteless, classless, democratic, socialist India — where truth alone triumphed.

Speaking about the relevance of Lalaji’s message in today’s context, Justice Verma said it was more relevant today than ever — for the reconstruction of India as a developed nation. Regarding the catholicity of Lalaji’s nationalistic vision, Justice Verma said, “He appealed to his countrymen to rise above the artificial divisions of caste, creed and religion. He felt that every Indian child should be taught in so many words that every human being born in India, or to Indian parents, or who had made India his or her home, was a compatriot, a brother or a sister, regardless of colour, creed, caste or vocation.

Earlier, Justice Verma inaugurated an exhibition of Lala Lajpat Rai’s memorabilia and display of rare books. On this occasion, society’s honorary secretary Group Captain P.S. Soni welcomed the Governor.

Chairman of the society, Mr Onkar Chand, spoke about its activities. Prof S.L. Sharma of Panjab University’s Department of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Development and Communication, Dr Parmod Kumar, also spoke on the occasion.


Alert bus driver averts accident
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 17
An alert driver of a CTU bus saved lives of more than 20 passengers, when the brakes of the bus ‘failed’ here this morning. The driver, Nirmal Singh, rammed the bus into the roundabout of Sectors 16, 17, 22 and 23 to bring it to a halt. 

The bus was coming from Kharar and was going to the ISBT, Sector 17, when the incident took place. None of the passengers received any injuries, said police sources.


Dairy owners to get plots
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Panchayat Department of Chandigarh is carrying forward the process of allotment of plots to bona fide dairy owners to relieve the city of cattle menace and to rehabilitate cattle owners residing within the municipal limits of the city.

The allotment is to take place on November 19, at the site located in Maloya village, a spokesperson for the Chandigarh Administration said today.

The plots are being allotted at the rate of Rs 2 per square yard per month on lease-hold basis in the 5 marla and 10 marla category.

Earlier the department had invited applications from the bona-fide cattle owners and in response to that around 500 applications had been received.

After verification, around 350 persons were found eligible. As some more plots are available, the dairy owners who had not applied earlier, have been requested to come to the site on November 19 and apply there itself.

Their claims will be scrutinised by the staff and if found eligible, they shall also be allocated space in due course.

The process will be supervised by the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Inderjeet Singh Sandhu, and the Land Acquisition Officer, Mr S.K. Setia.


Karnataka Governor to release book on “JP” today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The Governor of Karnataka, Mr T.N. Chaturvedi, will release a book, “India’s Second Freedom: An Untold Saga” by M.G. Devasahayam, Deputy Commissioner of Chandigarh during the Emergency, at English Auditorium, Panjab University, at 5 pm tomorrow. The book deals with the late Jayaprakash Narayan’s detention in the city during the Emergency.

Prof K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, Chandigarh, will be the guest of honour at the function while Mr H.K. Dua, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune group of newspapers, will preside over the function. Mr Satya Pal Jain, former MP, will also speak.


NHRC workshop on bonded labour on Nov 20
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), New Delhi, in collaboration with the Labour and Employment Department, Punjab, will hold a workshop on bonded labour on November 20 at Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Public Administration, Chandigarh, says a press note. 

The aim of the workshop is to sensitise the District Magistrates and other senior officers of the state government towards the problem.


They manned defences even after death

During the Chinese aggression in 1962, a rifle company of 13 Kumaon, consisting of 114 men, under the command of Major Shaitan Singh, occupied Chushul, a post near Rezang La in Ladakh. On November 18, more than 1,000 Chinese attacked this post, resulting in a fierce battle.

Despite being seriously wounded, Major Shaitan Singh continued to direct the battle. He ordered his men not to withdraw and fight to the last man, last round. In the ensuing battle, 106 soldiers of the company, including Major Shaitan Singh fell fighting. For his undaunted courage and supreme sacrifice, Major Shaitan Singh was awarded the Param Vir Chakra (posthumously), the highest gallantry award of the country.

The soldiers of 13 Kumaon created an unparalleled history of bravery and sacrifice in this battle. For, even after three months when the war was over, 96 soldiers, though dead and frozen, were found manning the defences.

System sans accountability

Cases keep coming to notice where the government functionaries, rather than helping the retired servicemen in getting their sanctioned pension and allowances, try to make things difficult for them. Liet-Col P.S. Grewal’s case, which has recently come to our notice, smells of infinite callousness on part of the government authorities.

This officer, while serving with the Army, was awarded Shaurya Chakra in 1964. He went on deputation to the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) in 1968. Since he had applied for pension from the Army, he started getting his pension and the Shaurya Chakra allowance from the Army. During his service with the ITBP, he was promoted as DIG. On retirement from this force in 1984, the officer opted for pension from the ITBP and returned all pension, including allowances that the had received from the Army. Accordingly, Colonel Grewal started getting his pension and Shaurya Chakra allowance from Pay and Accounts Office, Ministry of Home Affairs, vide PPO No. 1615/9-3478 of June 1985.

Colonel Grewal continued to get his Shaurya Chakra allowance, along with his monthly pension, from State Bank of India, Sector 7, Chandigarh, until March 1999. After which, this allowance was stopped. When the officer queried from bank about this, a Ministry of Home Affairs, Pay and Accounts Office (Pension and Misc) circular of May 1997 and the Accountant-General (A&E) Punjab, letter of March 1999, addressed to District Treasury Office, Chandigarh, were quoted. After having failed to get any response from these offices despite his repeated efforts, Colonel Grewal wrote to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, in March this year. But his letter has not been replied.

All offices agree that the officer is entitled to this allowance, yet no one is prepared to take any action to restore this allowance to Colonel Grewal. Who will bring accountability in the Indian system?

Proxy voting

In a democratic set-up, the power lies with the majority. Exercising voting rights by all citizens is, therefore, essential. In the Army, the colonial attitude that “a soldier need not vote” still persists. The negative effect of this is there for all to see. The Army, unlike most other organisations, cannot get even its genuine demands accepted by the government.

Since the defence forces did not evince any interest in exercising their voting rights, the archaic procedure of sending the electoral rolls by units to the Returning Officers, being cumbersome and dilatory, did not work even in cases where the soldiers were keen to vote. Having realised the necessity of voting in the past few years, effort began to be made by the top brass to get the system of voting simplified.

The election laws have been amended by the government recently. All serving personnel can now exercise franchise by proxy. The service voters should first get themselves registered with the respective DEOs/EROs by filling Form 2A. They should then nominate any of their blood relations as proxy by filling Form 13F, which should be countersigned by the Commanding Officer, a First Class Magistrate or a notary. This form should be sent to the Returning Officer concerned by the last date of making nominations. What needs to be remembered is that the nominated proxy is an eligible voter. Another stipulation is that he can act as a nominee only for two elections.

Col. Pritam Bhullar (retd.)


Residents seek additional beat box
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, November 17
The Residents Welfare Association, Sector 38 (West) has demanded an additional police beat box near the sector’s market and installation of iron gates in pocket ‘B’ of the sector. During a meeting with DSP (South), Mr S.S. Randhawa, the SHO, Sector 39 police station, Mr Hardev Singh, and other cops, the association members demanded that the entry of hawkers in the sector should be restricted and the installation of traffic lights or construction of roundabouts in accident prone-areas. The meeting was held as part of the neighbourhood watch scheme.

The issue of the hike in cable connection charges also came up at the meeting. Mr Pankaj Gupta, president of the association in a release issued informed that the members had decided that they would not pay more than Rs 100 per cable connection per month. The members had also decided not to allow any cable boy to climb on their roofs without permission.


Readers Write
‘Give doctors benefit of doubt’

APROPOS of a news report "14 days judicial remand for doctor couple" published in The Tribune on October 27, after the death of a patient, the registration of a case under Section 304, IPC, against the doctors is having a demoralising effect on the medical fraternity.

We are dealing with the human body and nothing can be guaranteed and anything can go wrong anytime. As professionals we try our best to save life but life and death are in the hands of God. I also appeal to the members of the medical fraternity not make tall claims regarding treatment. We should explain all modalities and limitations of the treatment to the patients.

If such a trend continues, doctors will hesitate to attend to emergency and accident cases. The registration of cases under Section 304, merely on the complaint of a relative of a patient, has a negative effect on the medical fraternity.

In case of a complaint, the police should refer it to the committee of medical professionals consisting of representatives of government hospitals and president of the local branch of the Indian Medical Association. If there is prima facie evidence only then should a case under Section 304-A be registered.

The public should understand that complications can occur at any time in spite of the best efforts of the doctors. If the relatives think there has been negligence, they can approach the ethical committee of the Indian Medical Association or file a case under the Consumer Protection Act.

Dr D.S. Jaspal, Ambala City

Misuse of plots

The Chandigarh Administration has from time to time allotted industrial plots in Phase I and II of the industrial areas at heavily subsidised rates. The basic idea as per the policy of the Government of India was to encourage industries, particularly the SSI sector. However, it can be seen that these industrial plots are being converted into commercial centres. Persons with agencies and distribution rights of various products find it lucrative to open their ventures in the industrial area as the cost of the property here is comparatively lower. Even banks have not lagged behind in this race. About half a dozen of them are running from industrial plots.

Every month not more than a couple of applications are received by the Department of Industries for registration under the SSI sector. The Industries Department has been conducting surveys of the plots to see that no activity other than industrial is being undertaken on these plots. Yet it seems that the traders' lobby is strong enough to counter the government's industrial policy.

The government should take back the possession of those plots where commercial activities are being undertaken.

Sant Ram Singla, Chandigarh

Commendable action

It is heartening to note that the DAV Management has taken note of unseemly goings on in its institutions. Admissions with unaccounted donations, overspending and misutilisation of funds in these institutions is common. If financial discipline is enforced, it would achieve its aim of moral uplift of society. Fees charged from students can be halved.

Dr K.K. Dhavan, Chandigarh

More labs needed

Apropos the news report that appeared in The Tribune on October 23, highlighting some of the problems faced by pensioners and other Central Government employees residing in Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Panchkula. There are some more problems which need to be redressed by streamlining the present system. Some more clinical, heartcare and x-ray laboratories need to be set up and more medical stores should be appointed as suppliers of medicines to facilitate the prompt supply of medicines. At present, there is only one authorised store. Separate counters for senior citizens need to be set up in the PGI, the General Hospital and the GMC.

R.C. Katoch, Chandigarh

Blockade menace

Of late people have started blocking roads for ventilating their grievances against the government. Blockades not only create traffic jams but cause inconvenience to commuters who get stuck in the jam and cannot reach their place of work in time. Those suffering from serious ailments cannot get timely treatment.

There are other options available in a democratic set-up for redress of grievances which can be used due to these blockede in a peaceful manner.

T.R. Goyal, Chandigarh


6th anniversary of “Jeev Rakshak Seva” celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 17
People for Animals Chandigarh celebrated the sixth anniversary of its “Jeev Rakshak Seva” (a 24 hour ambulance service) at ‘‘Basera’’ — the PFA hospital-cum-shelter house today. This ambulance service is functional in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali. This ambulance service has rescued around 2500 – 3000 animals per year. This ambulance service was started in 1997 on November 17, by Ms Maneka Gandhi Chairperson, People for Animals.

The Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, Mr Subash Chawla, was the chief guest. 


Toll tax collector shot at
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, November 17
A toll tax collector, Mr Bikram Singh, was wounded after he was allegedly shot at by a car-borne youth here in the late hours yesterday. He was later taken to the PGI, Chandigarh, where his condition was said to be stable.

According to information, Mr Bikramjit Singh asked the Opel Astra car driver to pay the toll tax but another youth sitting in the car started abusing him. While arguing, the youth, who was allegedly drunk and brandished a pistol, fired at Mr Bikramjit Singh. He sustained injuries on his neck. A profusely bleeding Bikramjit Singh was first taken to the Civil Hospital from where he was sent to the PGI. The police is investigating into the incident.


25-yr-old woman commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 17
A 25-year-old married woman allegedly committed suicide here today. According to the information available with the police, the victim, Harjot Kaur, was a resident of Phase 3B2 here and she killed herself by hanging herself from the ceiling.

The incident happened today, barely a day after her husband’s brother’s marriage was solemnised yesterday at a marriage palace in Zirakpur. No suicide note was found.


Missing PCO owner’s body found
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 17
The body of a PCO owner, who was reported missing more than 15 days ago, was brought here today from near the Nirwana bundh area.

According to the police, Jarnail Singh of Kharar had left his home on October 31 after he had a quarrel with his family. On November 1, his scooter and some other belongings were found near the Bhakra canal near Ropar. His family had got a case registered in this regard.

It is learnt that the family got a phone call today which said a body was found floating near the Nirwana bundh area in Haryana.

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