C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Admn ignoring us, Cong men to Rahul 
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
Perturbed over the alleged indifference of the Chandigarh administration, the local Congressmen today aired their grievances to AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi alleging that the ruling Congress was being treated as an opposition by the administration. The local party workers today utilised Rahul’s brief stopover in the city to highlight the “anti-people” policies of the administration and its “indifferent” attitude towards the elected Congress representatives even as the UT was administered by the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre.

After formal welcome of the AICC general secretary by president of the Chandgarh Territorial Youth Congress (CTYC) H.S. Lucky and mayor Pardeep Chhabra, Congress spokesman Amarjit Sethi took the centrestage alleging that the UT administration had adopted anti-Congress stance.

Sethi alleged that though the administration acquired land at exorbitant prices (ranging between Rs 7.5 lakh and Rs 18 lakh) it was being allotted to big developers at throwaway prices. Out of the concessional land allotted to them, the developers were selling bungalows and flats for a price as high as Rs 6 crore, he said, apparently hinting at the Prideasia project of the Parshvnath Developers at the IT Park here.

The party also alleged that the Scheduled Caste population was a harassed lot in the city due to non-issuance of SC certificates. The rural residents, who have built houses on their own lands outside the ‘Lal Dora’ were being also threatened with demolitions, they added.

Last week, a meeting of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) had decided to approach UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the "failure" of the administration in redressing the grievances of the people and "inaccessibility" of the top UT functionaries to public in general and Congress leaders in particular.

Assuring that he would take up various issues with the ministries concerned, Rahul Gandhi promised to look into the working of the administration.

The assurance of Rahul Gandhi that he would look into the working of the administration has sent a wave jubilation among the local Congressmen.

Earlier, Rahul was received at the airport by a member of the Congress Working Committee Iqbal Singh and CTCC president B.B. Bahl.



Rahul: Not averse to becoming PM
Interacts with students of Punjabi University
Attar Singh and Ravi Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 22
All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Rahul Gandhi, on a three-day tour to the state, interacted with the students of the Punjabi University, here today.

It was perhaps for the first time that Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, admitted that he was averse to becoming the prime minister in near future. To a query by a girl student, Rahul said, “My options of becoming the prime minister are still open.”

Speaking on anti-terrorism laws, Rahul said that POTA had been rendered almost ineffective. He said that TADA was more effective than POTA.

He admitted that politics had been polluted by the scourge of corruption. “Corruption has become a way of life in modern day politics and we all have to find a way out to put an end to this,” he added.

Speaking on the Indo-US nuclear deal, the AICC general secretary said it was in the interest of the power-starved country. “Once the nuts and bolts of the deal were in place, there would be no paucity of electricity in the country and this would lead to rapid industrialisation,” he said.

The soft-spoken Congress leader kept his cool despite being bombarded by various types of questions by inquisitive students.

When asked about some “inefficient” politicians like Bollywood star Govinda, Rahul said that his party had only given ticket him and it was up to the people to judge whether he was an effective politician or not. He said the Congress was not at fault in giving tickets to film stars since it was a common practice among all political parties.

While the politician in Rahul Gandhi held the centrestage, not even a single Congressman was present inside the hall where the 90-minute-long question-answer session took place. Even media was barred from entering the hall.

Sensing an opportunity, Rahul Gandhi exhorted students to fill up forms and become members of the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), the student wing of the Congress party.



Road show that never was 
People gathered to meet Cong leader return disappointed
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
The Congress workers and people who had gathered in large numbers to meet AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi during the proposed road show at Hallo Majra were a dejected lot as most of them even failed to have a glimpse of him.

The heavily-guarded cavalcade of the VVIP sped past the motley crowd assembled to greet their leader on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway. The local Congress leadership and the police had made elaborate arrangements for the road show in which the AICC general secretary was reportedly expected to mingle with the crowd for only about two-three minutes due to tight schedule. However, the Special Protection Group (SPG) sleuths had asked the Congress Seva Dal activists to stand in the first row of the barricaded area to keep the crowd away.

Chaos on road

Rahul Gandhi's visit to the city put the commuters to inconvenience as the police stopped the traffic for several minutes on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway. Scores of vehicles in Rahul Gandhi’s cavalcade tested the patience of the motorists on the busy road between 10.30 a.m and 11.30 a.m.

The cavalcade of the Congress leader made its way from the airport to the PHD House for a meeting of the Youth Congress office-bearers' of Chandigarh and Haryana.

Rahul sped past the venue of the road show as he waved at the waiting crowd. An office-bearer of the Congress Seva Dal, who collected a couple of memorandums, handed over them to the SPG sleuths accompanying the VVIP.

Meanwhile, the people gathered at the venue expressed their unhappiness over not being given an opportunity of meeting the scion of Nehru-Gandhi family. “If he did not want to meet the general public, the party should not have organised the road show,” said Om Pal Chavar, general secretary of the All-India Safai Mazdoor Congress.

“The organisers should not have invited residents to road show if Rahul was not supposed to meet them,” said a Muslim leader.

When contacted, president of Chandigarh Territorial Youth Congress (CTYC) H.S. Lucky said the road show was not in the AICC general secretary’s itinerary. “Since Chandigarh unit of the CTYC was given a slot of one hour, Rahul accepted the memorandums in his car due to paucity of time,” he added.

However, the SPG sources claimed that in the backdrop of recent bomb blasts in New Delhi, the VVIPs was been advised against mingling with the crowd.



Gandhigiri by cops
Violate traffic rules, get gifts
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
After failing to tame “indisciplined” city drivers, the traffic police now proposes to reward them for their violations. Call it “gandhigiri”, inspired by Munna Bhai or an overambitious step, traffic police personnel will give “token gifts” instead of challans to violators.

Figures available with the traffic police shows that despite heavy challaning, the violations are on the rise. And only recently, the city witnessed its first road-rage death, a result of traffic rule violation by some inebriated youths.

A perusal of the statistics of the challans revealed that in 2006, the police issued 1,16,900 challans against 1,31,000 in 2007 while till September 15, this year the men-in-white have issued 1,08,973 challans. The traffic police has realised over Rs 2.68 crore this year against Rs 2.47 crore last years.

H.S. Doon, SP (Traffic and Security) told TNS that such steps would help in educating the people to follow the traffic rules. He said his men would give away token gifts to motorists at the traffic lights. The motorists indulging in red-light jumping, not wearing seat belts or crossing the zebra lines would be given away gifts to make them aware that they had committed an offence. “I hope the idea will work to improve the road sense among motorists. I will go to some points to educate the road users,” added Doon.

Sources in the police said though exact data of incidents of road rage is not readily available, on an average two or three minor incidents occurred every day in the city. Drivers losing cool over minor accidents is common. In most of the cases migrant labourers and rickshaw pullers are the victims.



Son of transport officer held
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 22
The case of the gangrape of a 17-year-old girl has taken a new twist with the arrest of the son of an assistant district transport officer here today. The investigations bring shocking revelations that the victim was being raped since July last year by the accused.

The victim, who was under depression due to her disturbed family circumstances, had come in contact with these youths and later when she refused to toe their line, they allegedly exploited her. They threatened her that they had prepared a CD of her and it would be distributed in public in case she did not oblige them.

Two of the youths Aman and Jatin seduced the girl in July last year, said sources. Later when she resisted the exploitation, she was blackmailed by threats that she would be exposed in public, added the sources.

After school hours, they used to pick the girl in a car and go to a desolate parking lot near the Vishal Mega mart in Sector 5.

The exploitation of the victim would have continued had her parents not noticed the injury marks that she bore when she returned home on Wednesday. She then narrated the harrowing tale of sexual exploitation to her parents.

While Aman, a resident of Sector 10, was arrested by the police from his residence last night, another accused Jatin is still at large, said the sources. In addition to them, at least three other accused, including a girl, have not yet been arrested.

Aman, who was sent to police custody by the local court, is doing his BSc as a private candidate.



Venugopal set to join tricity hospital
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
In what may prove to be a boon to cardiac patients in the region, renowned cardiac surgeon and former director of AIIMS P Venugopal is all set to join a leading private hospital here. The hospital has various branches all over India.

According to highly placed sources, Dr P Venugopal is likely to join in one of the leading multi-specialty hospitals in the tricity by the end of this week. His arrival is expected to give a fillip to the existing cardiac care facility in the city and lead to major competition among the hospitals.

Dr Venugopal recently embroiled in a controversy following the tussle with the union health minister.

In a controversial move, he was removed in November, 2007, from the post of the AIIMS director after the government passed a legislation limiting the tenure to a maximum of five years or till the age of 65. He fought back and was reinstated after completing 49 years of service in May, 2008.

Meanwhile, the post of director of AIIMS fell vacant after Dr P Venugopal retired on July 2, 2008. PGI director KK Talwar is considered to be the strong contenders for the post. Interestingly, there is a similarity between Dr Talwar and Dr Venugopal as both are from the same department.

He performed India's first heart transplant in 1994.


Ram Niwas likely to join today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
The union territory Chandigarh's long wait for its full-time home secretary is finally over. Ram Niwas, a Haryana-cadre IAS officer of the 1985 batch, is expected to take up his union territory assignment by tomorrow evening following the receipt of a communication from A.K. Singhel, director, Secretariat of the Appointments Committee of the Union Cabinet, to the Haryana government and the union territory today.

Singhel has informed the two governments that the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the appointment of Ram Niwas as home secretary of Chandigarh for three years.

Now the Union ministry of home affairs will notify Ram Niwas's appointment. The notification is likely to be received here by tomorrow afternoon, after which Ram Niwas is likely to join as home secretary.

After Krishan Mohan was repatriated to Haryana in March last, the post of UT home secretary became the subject matter of intense lobbying by bureaucrats. The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) returned a panel of three officers sent by Haryana on the ground that the officers had indulged in lobbying.

Haryana sent another panel of four officers, Ram Niwas, R.R. Jowel, Anil Kumar and R.P. Chandra. Though the name of Ram Niwas was recommended by the UT as well as the MHA, the final clearance took a long time to come because of "complaints" filed against the officer by interested quarters. The "complaints" were referred back to the Haryana Vigilance Bureau, which gave clearance to Ram Niwas more than once.

Ultimately, a writ petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against his appointment. Dismissing the petition, filed as public interest litigation, the High Court imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the petitioner for filing frivolous litigation.

Ram Niwas was 11th in the list of successful IAS aspirants in 1985. Sources say 19 of his 21 annual confidential reports are "outstanding". 



PM to contest from city?
Chandigarh being dubbed as safe bet for Manmohan 
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
With the city being dubbed as a “safe bet” for the Congress, the name of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is doing rounds from the Chandigarh Parliamentary constituency.

Though the Congress high command is yet to set the process for the selection of candidates in motion, a section of the local Congress and the high command seems to be "favourably inclined" to the candidature of the economist-turned-Prime Minister.

It is argued that Manmohan Singh, who owns a house in Sector 11 and had a stint as a teacher at Panjab University here, enjoys goodwill among a cross-section of society, particularly the educated class. This, coupled with his clean image and the authority he enjoys by virtue of his being Prime Minister, should stand him in good stead in winning the comparatively "safe" Lok Sabha seat.

A Congress leader, on condition of anonymity, said Manmohan Singh's nomination from Chandigarh would put an end to the faction-fighting in the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee(CTCC) and bring the city on the national political scene.

However, the nomination of Prime Minister from Chandigarh would pose some practical problems for the high command as it will be hard for the party to ignore the claims of three-time MP and minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal, who has nursed the constituency over the years. The high command will have to spare a thought for the "rehabilitation" of Bansal before finalising any other name from the local seat.

Meanwhile, reacting the reports, former union minister and BSP candidate from Chandigarh Harmohan Dhawan said Manmohan Singh had the dubious distinction of being the only Prime Minister, who had lost the Lok Sabha election. If he wanted to taste political waters here, he was most welcome, Dhawan added.



Gujarat MC team in city 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
A delegation from Bhavnagar municipal corporation, Gujarat, visited municipal corporation, Chandigarh today. The delegation comprised of five members, led by Kamal Dave, chairman road and building construction committee, Bhavnagar MC.

The delegation was on a study tour to learn the best practices of engineering projects and sanitation system in the city. They visited garbage-processing plant and various parks, including Shanti Kunj.

Briefing about sanitation system in the city, deputy mayor H. C. Kalyan said recently A. C. Nileson ORG, a top-ranking independent survey agency, had conducted survey of 18 big cities of India, in which Chandigarh had been declared the cleanest city in India in respect to cleanliness of roads, efficiency of garbage disposal, arrangement of dust bins on public places and cleanliness of public toilets.

Bhavngar delegation leader Dave also gave information regarding the functioning of Bhavanagar MC. A team of the Pune MC, led by Arun Khilari, also visited Chandigarh MC today. Sanjay Arora, XEN, gave brief presentation about working 
of MCC.



‘Change criteria for senior citizen status’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 22
Defence Accounts Pensioners Welfare Association has demanded that the PGI, Chandigarh, should treat persons above the age of 60 years as senior citizens, and not at the age of 70 as was being done by it at present.

The association said the PGI was not giving facilities meant for senior citizens to persons of 60 years and above as clarified in the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act 2007. General Hospital, Sector 16, and GMCH, Sector 32, provided senior citizen’s status at the age of 60 years and above.

The association thanked the Punjab Human Rights Commission for starting mobile legal-aid clinic to provide free legal facilities to residents of the tricity, and was also grateful to the municipal corporation, Chandigarh, for extending its support to the project.

It said there was a lack of coordination between GMADA and the municipal council, which led to insanitary conditions the town. Sanitation in Sectors 66 to 69 was taken care of by GMADA, which was in a state of neglect. It said GMADA had failed to carry out fogging in these sectors even when reports of dengue fever were reported from other parts of the town.

The association collected Rs 3,600, and sent it to the Prime Minister Relief Fund for victims of Bihar floods.



Two trawlers collide, traffic hit
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 22
Traffic was disrupted on the National Highway No. 73 when two trawlers had a head-on collision near Nadha Sahib here yesterday night. The drivers of both vehicles were also injured critically.

According to the police, the accident occurred when a trawler bound for Ambala collided with another trawler coming from the opposite side. The drivers Kala, a resident of Rohtak, and Sanjay were taken to a hospital from where they were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

The traffic was diverted towards the road going through the technology park to Ghaggar bridge.

The traffic could be restored on the highway only in the afternoon when trawlers were removed using crane.



Work skills competition begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
There is only one benchmark for skilled workers and that is the world standard. It is mandatory for the industry to provide refresher training to its workers from time to time to ensure that they acquire internationally benchmarked skills.

This was stated by Prithi Chand, director- Technical Education, Chandigarh Administration, while speaking at the inaugural session of the 21 st Regional Work Skills Competition held here today. "The initiative will go a long way in enhancing the competitiveness of the industry”, he said, while urging the CII to consider that the frequency of this annual affair could be increased as it encourages skills development.

Manmohan Singh Kohli, convener, CSR Panel , the CII Chandigarh Council, said this competition was organised with a view to training a large number of people across sectors, in various skills, to meet national requirements for world-class skilled workers. He also highlighted the issue of the shortage of skills and the CII's endeavours towards harnessing the demographic dividend. He shared that the CII also has a vision of hosting the world skills competition in India in 2013.



Onam celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
Onam, the biggest festival of Kerala, was celebrated yesterday by the Chandigarh Malayalee Association at Jat Bhawan in Chandigarh. Punjab cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh was the chief guest at the function.

Kanwaljit Singh said Onam was the most popular festival of Kerela which was celebrated with communal harmony, universal brotherhood and equality.

Traditional dance of Kerala, Thiruvathirakali and group dance were staged and Onam feast was also arranged on the occasion.



2 run over by trains
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
Two unidentified persons in their mid-twenties were crushed to death in two separate incidents on railway tracks in the city and Panchkula in the past 24 hours.

According to the railway police, an unidentified man was crushed to death under the Himalayan Queen near the Kishangarh village level crossing, this evening.

The victim’s body was crushed on the tracks, making it impossible to identify him. A few passers-by informed the gateman, Ram Kumar, who in turn informed the railway police. The victim looked to be a migrant labourer and was wearing khaki trousers and a black shirt.

In another incident, an unidentified migrant labourer’s body was found from the railway track in Sector 19 Panchkula on Sunday morning. The victim’s body was crushed beyond recognition.

He was wearing khaki trousers and a green shirt. No document was found from the body which could help establish his identity. 



Curb indiscipline

I refer to an article “A step forward” by Raveen Thukral appeared in Chandigarh Tribune on September 15,2008.

In view of the prevailing indiscipline in our higher educational institutions, especially during student bodies’ elections, the Lyngdoh committee has made several recommendations. But it has been reported in the media that during the recent Panjab University Student Council elections, there had been a glaring violation of all these recommendations. Leaders addressed the students in classes. Further, to woo the voters, students were taken to movies. Though the elections passed off peacefully as compared to earlier occasions, enforcement agencies as well as the university authorities failed to check these malpractices and these violations continued till the time of elections. Thus, the very purpose of the recommendations got defeated itself.

Thukral has rightly concluded that precious time has already been wasted in taking such small steps. Though, the higher educational institutions are the nursery for political activities, yet indiscipline and hooliganism cannot be tolerated at any cost and needs to be curbed with iron hands. These things proved to be more dangerous and are adopted by our political bigwigs at the time of Parliament and state assembly elections. This is detrimental not only for universities but also for the democracy as a whole. It would be in the fitness of things if strict vigil by the authorities is made so that it may turn out to be a boon for the democracy in future.

S.K. Khosla, 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



Admn steps in to solve MCM DAV row
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
In yet another setback to MCM DAV principal Puneet Bedi’s efforts to resolve the ongoing controversy by allegedly “forcing” a compromise between the girls who clashed outside the college premises last week, the UT administration has decided to take things in its hands now.

The move came after Priyanka, the girl who was allegedly beaten up by a co-student belonging to the ‘rival group’, along with her family members approached the administration to complain against the committee constituted by the college to probe the brawl. She alleged the committee, comprising college teachers, was “pressurising” her for a compromise with the accused girls and drop her demand for action against them.

“These girls bashed me so badly and the principal did nothing and when under pressure from the administration a committee was constituted by her to probe all that they did was to pressurise me to drop the matter,” said Priyanka, adding that this wasn’t acceptable to her.

After the first day of the ‘probe’, Priyanka had raised questions about the conduct of the committee. According to her, neither was any witness questioned nor did anybody try to find out what had happened. She accused the college authorities of ‘forcing’ her to compromise in police station and drop her complaint.

“After I had done that they declared that we had compromised so I was forced to go to the administration.” she said

Raji P Shrivastava, director, higher education, UT, said, “I have apprised the principal of Priyanka’s legitimate apprehensions. I have decided to add a member to the existing committee to observe and ensure an impartial probe. I haven’t received any report from the committee as yet but the principal has asked for some more time owing to the youth festival so they will submit a report on September 29 and then a decision will be taken.”

According to Puneet Bedi, the report of the compromise from the police station came to her and that was when they discussed it with Priyanka. “I welcome the administration’s intervention, as last time also it was after this only the truth came out,” she said.



DPI dons principal's role for a day
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 22
Chandigarh’s high-profile and media savvy DPI S.K. Setia is at it again.

While most of his ambitious projects are yet to take off, Setia is now set to don the cap of principal for a day in various city schools. His mission is to teach the existing principals the way to run schools.

If sources in the department are to be believed, the move hails from his firm belief in city principal’s “inefficiency”, as going by media reports, many times he has credited the poor condition of schools to the lack of efforts on part of the principals.

He had his first stint in his new role on Saturday when he landed in GSSS, Sector 27, and sanctioned Rs 1.5 lakh to solve the problems. With DPI around, all teachers turned up in time and lent a helping hand in cleaning the school and ensuring an ideal environment. Among other things like chairs or beds for medical room, the DPI went all the way to even add Ipods to his list of supplies to distress the teachers between teaching periods.

However, most of teachers in school speaking to TNS have dismissed the entire idea as yet another “thoughtless” ambition as one of the teachers summed it up for all, “See the very fact that he is DPI changes things. Nobody is himself in front of him. Moreover, his ideas mean exceptional workload on the teaching staff. We are happy to have financial grant and the cleanliness, but this can be a day in our calendar but not every day and he needs to realise this.”

Principal, GSSS-27, S. Sikhon refused to comment citing instructions by administration to abstain from media. Even the DPI, who otherwise always obliges the media with his comments, was not interested to speak on his latest venture. 



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