C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Chill spells kitchen trouble
Veggie prices up by 30 pc

Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
The plummeting mercury has sent the tomato prices soaring. In the past two days, the prices of most seasonal vegetables have gone up by 25 per cent-30 per cent.

Tomatoes being sold for Rs 15-Rs 20 a kg yesterday, were sold for Rs 20-Rs 25 a kg today. Cauliflower prices too have shot up by Rs 5 kg: from Rs 15 a kg yesterday to Rs 20 a kg today. Bitter gourd and lady’s finger earlier priced at Rs 40 a kg, now cost Rs 50 a kg.

Price per kg

Tomato: Rs 20-Rs 25

Cauliflower: Rs 20

Bitter gourd: Rs 50

Lady’s finger: Rs 50

Traders say the prices have shot up because of intense cold and rains. Also, fresh stocks of vegetables have not yet reached the market, thus creating a shortfall in supply.

The prices of mushroom have shot up from Rs 150 a kg to Rs 200 a kg. But this surge in prices is not on account of weather but the increase in demand for mushroom during the ongoing marriage season. “We expect the mushroom prices to touch Rs 250 a kg ,” informed a trader in Sector 26.

The soaring price has upset many a household budget. Says Dolly Kapoor from Sector 45: “With the prices of milk and milk products, eggs and poultry also rising, the common man is left with no option but to stick to dal-roti alone.”

One may take solace in the fact that while the vegetable prices are soaring, those of fruit have remained stable.

Pomegranate, apples, grapes, oranges and bananas are being sold at the same price as last week.



Fresh snow in Shimla renews cold wave
Patiala coldest at 2.5 degrees
Tribune News Service

A mother and her child keep warm from chilling cold by wrapping themselves in woolens at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh.
Fighting the elements: A mother and her child keep warm from chilling cold by wrapping themselves in woolens at Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh, on Sunday. — Photo by Vinay Malik

Chandigarh, February 3
With Shimla receiving snow for the third time in 10 days, the day temperature in the city plummeted, renewing the cold wave. Mild showers through the night ensured people remained indoors.

Although the maximum temperature in the city dropped by 4.4 degrees compared to yesterday, the night temperature rose a little from 2 degrees to 4 degrees. It was still three degrees below normal, indicating that winter was nowhere near retreat.

Met office said the fresh spell of cold in the plains was partially due to the severe cold in Kufri, Fagu and Narkanda which received the season’s first major snow along with the higher altitude areas which have so far recorded 80 cm to 100 cm of fresh snowfall due to western disturbances.
A girl walks in the rain with an umbrella.
A girl walks in the rain with an umbrella. — Photo by Pradeep Tewari

While Shimla was under 12 cm to 14 cm of snow today, Jakhoo, Kufri and Fagu received 20 cm to 30 cm of snow.

Meanwhile, rain lashed the city and other areas of Punjab and Haryana, bringing cheer to farmers. The city had received 0.8 mm rainfall till 2 pm.

The met office here reported light to moderate showers in Punjab and Haryana, where ground frost had played havoc with crops, particularly vegetables and sugarcane. The rain which is expected to lift the ground frost is considered to be beneficial for wheat, the main crop of the region.

However, despite a rise in night temperatures, the minimum in most parts of Punjab and Chandigarh remained 2 to 5 degrees below normal, while in Haryana these were above normal, barring Ambala.

Patiala, which received 1.4 mm rainfall, turned out to be the coldest place in the region, recording 2.5 degree minimum temperature, five degrees below normal.


Hema Malini in new role
Chief patron of baseball fed
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Hema Malini interacts with baseball players in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Hema Malini interacts with baseball players in Chandigarh on Sunday. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, February 3
Adding glam to the sport of baseball, yesteryear’s ‘Dream Girl’, Hema Malini, has donned the cap of chief patron of the Women Baseball Federation of India. The star is now all set to promote the game in the country.

As a first step, baseball will form part of the content of her next film project, expected to be released in April. “In the script, the leading actress, played by my daughter Esha Deol, plays football. Now I am thinking of changing the game to baseball”, says Hema.

At Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 23, today, she said sports was a great unifying factor and “we must promote sports.” A special baseball match was held by the Women Baseball Federation at the school grounds today, especially for the Bollywood star to acquaint her with the game.

Admitting that she knew nothing about baseball, Hema Malini showed a keen interest in understanding the rules of the game from federation president Deepak Joshi.

“As a patron of the federation, I should know all about the game,” said the star who enjoys watching cricket matches. “Both my daughters are sportspersons. Esha used to play football before venturing into Bollywood while Aahna is very good handball player,” said Hema with pride.

On promoting baseball in the country, the star said she would try to be present at every main event. “ I will remain in touch with the federation officials. I will be most willing to assist them in whatever way I can.”

An excited Deepak Joshi said: “The sport is not too popular here. With a celebrity like Hema Malini taking over the reins, the game is bound to get a major boost.”



No Info Officer
CIC seeks comment in 15 days
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has sought comments from the office of the UT Administrator on the matter pertaining to absence of central public information officer (CPIO) in the said office.

The order was issued on a complaint of local resident Hemant Goswami who stated that the Administrator’s office, despite being a public authority, had no CPIO. Nor had it made proactive disclosures as prescribed under Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act.The matter was earlier highlighted by the Tribune.

The complaint by Goswami states that there is no provision for acceptance of RTI application in the UT Administrator’s office. “We desired to see details of information as prescribed under Section 4(1)(b) from the office of UT Administrator but the same was not available anywhere. There was no disclosure about the Administrators office under Section 4(1)(b) even on the website of the Chandigarh Administration,” it adds.

The complaint assumes significance as it makes a vital point pertaining to information on “life and liberty”. The RTI Act under Section 7(1) stipulates that any information pertaining to life and liberty and guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution should be supplied within 48 hours.

The complainant had intended to seek from the UT Administrator’s office information regarding the announcement he made on remission of sentences of prisoners undergoing imprisonment in the jails of Chandigarh. Since the issue affects “life and liberty” of those whose sentence has been reduced, those who have been released and those who have not, the matter needed urgent response under RTI. “But that was not possible as the Administrator’s office has no provision for accepting RTI applications,” the complaint mentioned in his letter to the CIC.

The CIC has now directed the office of the Administrator to give comments on the issue within 15 days from January 25, the date of issue of the letter. Interestingly, it has addressed its letter to the CPIO, office of UT Administrator. Therein it has also asked for “clear justification for denial of information,” adding: “The commission would like to draw your attention to Section 20(1) of the RTI Act which prescribes severe penalties on the CPIO personally for (a) refusal to receive an application for information; (b) delay in providing information beyond the stipulated time as specified wider sub-Section 7(1) of the Act; (c) denying the request for information with mala fide intent; (d) knowingly giving incomplete information; (e) destruction of record which was the subject matter of the request and (f) obstruction in any manner in furnishing the information.”



Now, schools to remain shut till Feb 6
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
The UT education department today extended holidays for junior classes (up to Class V) for three more days till February 6 in the wake of unrelenting cold conditions. The order is for government as well as private schools in the city.

Schools in Panchkula will also remain closed for junior classes till February 6. The UT middle standard examination starting from February 4 will be held as per the schedule.

Although the maximum temperature in the city dropped by 4.4 degrees compared to yesterday, the night temperature rose a little from 2 degrees to 4 degrees. It was still three degrees below normal, indicating that winter was nowhere near retreat.



J&K cops book local resident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
Jammu and Kashmir police crime branch has registered a case under Section 420-B, IPC, against local resident Rajan Bansal and Harinder of Jammu.

Srinagar residents Mohammad Zubair Khan and C.A. Khan had made a complaint, alleging that they had paid lakhs of rupees to the accused who promised to send them to Canada for jobs. But neither were they sent to Canada, nor was their money returned. The accused reportedly run two offices, one at Jammu and the other at Pinjore.



Manavjit’s family declares wildlife trophies
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
While the CBI inquiry into the alleged poaching charges against Khel Rattan awardee Manavjit Sandhu is yet to initiate, fresh information reveals the family’s listed wildlife treasures.

Recently obtained under the RTI Act, the detail of wildlife article disclosures made by Manavjit’s parents - Gurbir Singh Sandhu and Surinder Sandhu - show their wildlife possessions. Whereas Gurbir Singh Sandhu, a former international trap shooter, has declared 25 wild boar tusks/teeth, one mounted head of wild boar and two antlers of sambhar, Surinder Sandhu has declared two shahtoosh shawls.

Not all is well with these disclosures, however, as they came three days after the cut off date given by the government of India in the amnesty scheme it announced to allow owners of wildlife articles the last chance to make disclosures. The Centre declared the scheme in April 2003 under the declaration of wildlife stock rues 2003 (Wildlife Protection Act, 1972).

A period of 180 days from April 18, 2003, was granted for making disclosures and owning possession of wildlife articles. The objective is to ascertain if these objects have been inherited or purchased and acquired after 1972 when the ban on hunting was imposed.

The date for declarations ended on October 14, 2003, but Manavjit’s parents made the disclosures on October 17, 2003, like several others in Chandigarh. Interestingly, Manavjit’s own application for disclosure arrived in time on October 14, 2003, along with Shriya’s. Both declared two shahtoosh shawls each.

Another interesting point pertains to addresses from where disclosures were made.

While the shooter’s parents declared their items from house number 3012-A, Sector 39-D, Manavjit declared his possessions from a house in Sector 8.

It may be mentioned that the CBI is to investigate the case of poaching under the wildlife Act allegedly involving Manavjit. The case was recommended for investigation to the CBI by the UT administration after it received an inquiry report from the UT wildlife warden.

When contacted for details of investigation, Ishwar Singh, chief wildlife warden, UT, said: “You can’t expect me to remember details of the case. I am not following it on a personal level.” 



Sewage plant encounters delay
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, February 3
Lack of proper implementation strategy by PUDA (now GMADA) and a lackadaisical approach to getting court stay orders on land vacated in time, have brought to a halt the operationalising of the town’s first sewage treatment plant (STP) set up in Sector 83.

The casual approach of authorities concerned has not only inordinately delayed the functioning of the Rs 20 crore STP, it has also hampered the pace of work on the treatment plant in the absence of a proper approach road.

Most part of the work on the STP, having a capacity of 10 million gallons a day (mgd), has been completed while the remaining part is nearing completion. The project was scheduled to be completed by August 15 last year, but got delayed as there was no proper road in the area to carry material and equipment to the construction site. However, keeping in view the pace of work on providing sewer connectivity to the STP, officials estimate that the project may not become functional this year.

At present, untreated sewage from various parts of the town was falling into a choe near Sector 67, thereby creating environmental problems.

According to sources, administrative approval for extending sewer line from Sector 67 to Sector 81 had now been granted and tenders were being floated for giving work order. The completion of work was likely to take about 10 month’s time. However, work on laying the sewer lines from Sector 81 to 83 is nearing completion.

It is learnt that a railway line crosses from near Sector 81 and as such a sewer link in that area has to be provided by the Railways. Though correspondence with the Railways for providing the connectivity was going on for the past about one year, it was only last month that GMADA got a letter in which it was stated that the plan had been approved and the authority was asked to deposit Rs 4,96,36,452 for the work.

Sources said that untreated sewage from industrial sectors 72 to 75 was being dumped in a nullah near Lakhnour village. As these sectors have been developed by the PSIEC, the sewer link from this area to the STPs had to be provided by the same agency. But no work had so far been started in this regard.

Around 23 acres of land for setting up of the STP was acquired by PUDA in Manouli village. The work for the Rs 20.30 crore project was allotted to Messers Envirocontrol India Private Limited, Surat, on February 15, 2006. The company was asked to complete the project in less than 18 months.

The work was allotted on a turnkey basis and maintenance was to be done by the company for a period of five years.



Misbehaviour by SSP, DSP
PHRC seeks report from Punjab govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
Taking up a petition filed by a Panchkula resident, alleging that the SSP and DSP, SAS Nagar, misbehaved with him, the Punjab Human Rights Commission has asked the Punjab government to report on the matter.

The complainant, Ranjit Singh, a resident of Kona village in Panchkula, had filed a complaint against SSP, DSP, Mohali, and Sawan Colonizers for misbehaving with him. The complaint stated that he had executed an agreement with Sawan Colonizers to sell his land measuring seven kanals seven marlas for Rs 76.44 lakh. The colonisers had paid an earnest money of Rs 10.42 lakh for three kanals six marlas on August 28, 2007. They assured Ranjit to pay the remaining amount by September 2007. This deal was signed in the presence of Sanjeev Kumar, a friend and witness of the complainant. The company, however, did not pay the remaining amount. Thereafter, Ranjit filed a complaint before the office of sub-registrar, UT Chandigarh.

He also filed a civil suit in the court of civil judge Chandigarh alleging that Sawan Colonizers took the assistance of SSP and DSP Mohali who called him to the SSP’s office on January 18 and forced him to sit there through the day without any justification. He further alleged that the officers also abused him. The DSP also allegedly pressurised Ranjit to pay Rs 35 lakh or he would be booked in a false case of cheating.

When contacted the SSP Mohali RS Khatra said he was not aware of the incident and the allegations were false.



Digging grave
Mandeep Puri

Though the UT administration claims that no permission has been given for laying of cable in Chandigarh, this road in Sector 19 bares it all.
Though the UT administration claims that no permission has been given for laying of cable in Chandigarh, this road in Sector 19 bares it all. Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, February 3
The moment you enter Sector 19, there is every chance that you may fall into a ditch owing to the digging being done by a telecom company.

Though the Chandigarh administration maintains that no permission has been given for the laying of cable within the city, a road in Sector 19 speaks otherwise.

The telecom company is laying underground cable within the sector.

Trenches dug up at many places have been left open, posing danger to the lives of people walking during nights.

Also, loose mud has been left on the road where the work has been completed. At certain places, mounds of mud have been left at the corner of the road.

Residents face the risk of getting involved in accidents due to the mud on the road.

“Loose mud has been left on the road, increasing the risk of accidents. There is every chance of two-wheelers slipping or skidding due to the mud. We avoid using stretches where digging is still on or where it has been completed,” said a resident of the sector.



Representation against IG Prisons
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
An advocate has given a representation before the Chandigarh Administration that the IG Prisons, Dinesh Bhatt, is holding two posts. It was mentioned in the representation that Bhatt was holding the post of senior superintendent of police, operations, along with the post of IG, Prisons.

It was stated that according to the jail manual the department of prisons and correctional services shall be headed by the inspector-general of prisons, appointed under the provisions of Section 5 of the Prisons Act, 1894. The manual further stated that IG, Prisons, shall invariably be appointed from amongst the eligible officers of the jail department.



Dog show on February 10
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
The annual dog show will be held on February 10 at Leisure Valley. Last year, rain played spoilsport on the day of the dog show, and organisers are hoping that this year, the sun will shine.

The show is being organised by the Chandigarh Kennel Club this year and is expecting about 350 entries. Last year, around 300 entries had come in.

The competitions will be in the category of best breed, show category, junior handler and best puppy.

The organisers will be introducing a new category of female handling dogs to encourage more women to participate.

People have evinced more interest in the junior handlers category this year. According to Rajat Handa of Animal Kingdom, brand associates for the dog show, around 50 entries have been received in the category.

Last year, the dogs were adjudged according to seven categories broadly based on breeds under toy group, terrier, utility, hound, gundog, working and pastoral.



Sexual Harassment
DPI(S) orders inquiry against teacher
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
Director Public Instructions (Schools), S.K. Setia has ordered an inquiry into the allegations of sexual harassment against a teacher of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 22, here today. DEO Kushinder Sharma has been asked to conduct the inquiry and submit the report within two days. Setia said strict action will be taken against the person whosoever found guilty.

Eight girl students of school lodged a complaint with the school authorities on January 24 that their Punjabi teacher Giandeep Singh, while teaching them his subject, tried to discuss sex with them. He said the sex education was a must for them and tried to touch them on one pretext or other, the students alleged.

The principal of the school, however, conducting an inquiry at school level let the teacher go unpunished. It was also alleged that the school authorities handed over the responsibility to the accused teacher being a TGT, he was not authorised to teach the senior classes.



Cylinder bursts; tragedy averted
Tribune News service

Panchkula, February 3
A major tragedy was averted when a LPG cylinder burst inside house number 1250, Sector 19, here today. Police said the house was being used to pilfer LPG from cylinders. Ten cylinders meant for domestic as well as commercial use were also recovered from the site.

Fortunately it was a mild blast and did not result in a major fire, as many other cylinders were also lying near the spot. It was around 8.30 pm when the police were informed about the incident.

According to the neighbours, around half a dozen people used to visit the house everyday and they avoided contact with locals. Police are yet to identify the owner of the house.



Vendor menace at traffic lights

Vendors selling balloons, match boxes and paper napkins at traffic lights, particularly the ones near Sanatan Dharm Temple in Sector 37, are increasingly becoming a nuisance.

These vendors use all kinds of tactics to sell their products. When car moves, they cling on to the window of the car which is dangerous.

Sometimes, they try to divert the attention of car owners and steal mobiles, purses and other valuable articles lying in the cars. Not only this, the products they sell are substandard and costly.

The cops just act as silent spectators and do not bother to stop these vendors. Will the Chandigarh administrators look into the matter and do something to prevent people from harassment.

G.K. Chopra, Chandigarh

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



Teachers to go on mass leave tomorrow
Tribune news service

Chandigarh, February 3
To protest against the indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government towards the teachers working in the non-government aided colleges of Chandigarh, members of the Punjab and Chandigarh Teachers Union (PCCTU) have decided to cease work on February 5. They will assemble in front of the office of the DPI (colleges), Punjab, in Sector 17.

“Executive members of the PCCTU, along with 21 teachers working in colleges affiliated to Punjabi University, Patiala, will court arrest in support of our demands,” said Prof Rakesh Mehta, president, Chandigarh District Council of the PCCTU. The union was forced to revive its agitation, as the Punjab Government could not fulfil its assurances made in September last year. They had promised to take some effective measures regarding their problem. The teachers of the affiliated colleges of Punjabi University will go on a mass leave while GND University and Panjabi University will send their delegates to Chandigarh. Rupinder Chatha, secretary, Chandigarh District Council of the PCCTU, Prof N.P. Manocha and Dr Dinesh Talwar, fellows of Panjab University, Uma Joshi, president, MCM DAV College Teachers Union, and Jaspal Kaur, president, Dev Samaj College Teachers Union, have extended their full support to the agitation.



From Schools

Brainstorm: Students of Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, today organised "Brainstorm" for students of Classes VI to XII.

The event comprised a mock examination and counselling sessions by the psychology department of SD College, Sector 32. A health awareness camp was also organised by the State AIDS Control Society and department of blood and transfusion medicine of the GMCH. A medical exhibition was the highlight. The exhibition was attended by more than 500 students.



Info delay: Commission issues show-cause notice
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 3
Taking cognisance of the delay in furnishing information under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the State Information Commission Haryana has decided to issue a show-cause notice to the state public information officer (SPIO) of Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board.

Haryana chief information commissioner (CIC) G Madhavan in the directions issued to the board on Wednesday said why should a penalty of Rs 250, for each day, not be imposed upon SPIO for the delay.

The CIC issued the directions when R K Garg, a resident of Sector 27, Chandigarh, filed an appeal before the Commission pleading that the board did not furnish the information about expenditure incurred during last financial year on the development of Mata Mansa Devi Temple. He also desired to know the amount of money lying unused with the board and its plans for the next two years. In fact, Garg raised the issue of cleanliness at Mata Mansa Devi Temple with the administrator, Mata Mansa Devi Temple, and Haryana Urban Development Authority. Pointing out that a ‘nullah’ running right through the road leading up to the shrine was stinking and was being used for dumping garbage, Garg requested authorities to take remedial measures in this regard. The issue was also highlighted in the Tribune on May 27 last.

However, when no action was taken Garg applied to the board to furnish information about the expenditure incurred on the development of temple and plans for next two years.

It turned out to be a harrowing experience for Garg, who got an unsatisfactory reply on July 30 even after having pursued the matter for more than three months after filing the application on April 20, 2007 in this regard. Garg who filed an appeal with the first appellate authority of the Board on August 28, filed the second appeal with the commission alleging that he did not get any response from the first appellate authority.

The commission, seeking a reply by February 29, issued directions that the department shall take steps to update its website so that it reflects the actual position with regard to expenditure plans for the next two years.



Consumer Court
Power department fined Rs 5,000 for wrong bill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 3
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the Chandigarh electricity department to pay a compensation of Rs 5,000 for issuing a false bill to a petitioner, Jasmail Singh Brar.

The forum directed the department to issue a revised bill, overhauling the account of the petitioner. It further directed the department not to charge rent for the period during which the electricity meter remained defective.

Jasmail Singh Brar, a resident of Sector 44, stated that he had purchased his house from Justice H.S. Bedi and took the possession on November 2, 2003. He said the electricity meter was working in order.

The petitioner averred that he was surprised to receive a bill of average consumption of two months in April 2004. On inquiring about it, he got no response to his query. Thereafter, Brar received bills on the basis of average consumption with a code on it showing that the bill was defective.

Subsequently, the petitioner moved an application for change of the electricity meter in October 2005. The inspector said the meter at the petitioner’s residence was defective and imposed a fine of Rs 56,098 on him. He alleged that the department removed the meter from his house without his permission.

In reply, the electricity department stated that the fine of Rs 56,098 had been imposed on the petitioner as the meter in his house was defective.

The forum headed by Jagroop Singh Mahal observed: “The electricity department cannot deny that it was on the basis of the application of the petitioner that the meter was changed. Thus the petitioner is a consumer.”



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