C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Farmers unleash terror in city
l One dead, 80, including 34 cops, hurt
Protest against PSEB privatisation turns violent
l Police trucks torched, private vehicles damaged
Tribune News Service

Vehicles of Chandigarh and Punjab police, which were set on fire by an irate mob.
Vehicles of Chandigarh and Punjab police, which were set on fire by an irate mob.

Chandigarh, September 8
A protest by the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Employee Joint Forum against the privatisation of the board today led to violent clashes between the police and the protesters, leaving one dead and over 80 persons, including 34 police personnel, injured.

At least six vehicles, including two police trucks, were torched and many others damaged by the protesters in the violence that was unprecedented in the city.

A cop, who was injured by an angry mob, being consoled by a farmer.
A cop, who was injured by an angry mob, being consoled by a farmer. Tribune photos: S. Chandan

The lone victim of the violence, Jagdev, a farmer from Chanarthal Khana in Bathinda district, died after he reportedly fell from the roof of a private bus and came under the wheels of a trailing bus. While the police described Jagdev’s death as “purely accidental”, BKU activists claimed that the 25-year-old farmer fell down after the cops attacked the vehicle and beat those sitting on the roof. The two seriously injured were identified as inspector Nityanand of the UT police and Shobha Singh of Mohali district.

While Nityanand reportedly sustained head injuries, Shobha Singh’s suffered a deep cut on his neck and unconfirmed reports said his chances of survival were bleak. Both are undergoing treatment at the PGI.

Even as thousands of protesters started gathering around Sector 17 here this afternoon, the police had a tough time in controlling the unruly mob that wanted to march in protest in the sector to register their protest.

The trouble started around 4.15 pm when the BKU activists tried to break the police cordon at the roundabout of Sector 16 and Sector 17, near the cricket stadium.

Though the police used water cannons and also lobbed teargas shells to prevent the crowd from proceeding, all its efforts proved futile in front of the surging crowd and within 15 to 20 minutes, the BKU activists were in command.

What followed then was the total anarchy with lathi-wielding activists attacking policemen beating them up mercilessly. Some policemen, who tried to run away from the spot, were chased by them on the streets of Sector 17 and Sector 16.

The crowd then torched police vehicles and also some private two-wheelers that were parked in the vicinity of the stadium. They overturned a Maruti car and also broke windowpanes of passing vehicles.

It took almost 45 minutes for the police to regroup themselves and launch a counter offensive. What followed was a virtual “tit-for-tat” policy, with policemen cracking their lathis on the BKU and employee union activists and shattering the windowpanes of the buses hired by them.

According to police officials, 30 personnel, including a DSP and two inspectors, were injured. The condition of inspector Nityanand, who sustained head injuries, is stated to be serious. SP City, Madhur Verma, was also injured in the clash.

Talking to newsmen, IG SK Jain said the 90 teargas shells were lobbed to control the crowd. Claiming that the police had made all possible arrangements, he denied that permission was given to either of the organisations to hold a rally in the city. He claimed that the rallies were illegal and violated the orders of both the Supreme Court and the High Court.

He said 40 persons had been arrested on charges of attempt to murder, unlawful assembly and damaging public property.



Anarchy on City Roads
Admn, police blamed for failure
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The protest by farmers and PSEB unions today held Chandigarh to ransom for over two hours this evening. As the area around Sector 17 turned into a virtual battle ground between the violent protesters and the police, the common man was at the receiving end, with thousands of commuters and motorists caught in traffic jams.

Roads were choked, as the protesters started converging on Sector 17 on foot after parking vehicles at the specially created parking lots in Sector 25 and 35. Roads witnessed chaos, as the city police was clearly unprepared to handle such a huge rush.

It was a harrowing time for the motorists and commuters, with the traffic police having a tough time in regulating the vehicular traffic. As the protest turned violent, a large number of panicked motorists took U-turn, further aggravating the situation.

Seeing the situation going out of control, scores of motorists abandoned their vehicles on roads. Heavy downpour during the violent clashes only added to the chaos on the roads. In fact, the nightmare for the residents did not end even after the violent clashes and protests stopped.

Meanwhile, residents were up in arms against the inconvenience caused to them. “The police should have stopped the protesters on the outskirts of the city to avoid harassment,” an agitated MPS Chawla, chairman of the Chandigarh Citizens Council said.

Ajay Jagga, spokesman for the Income Tax and Sales Tax Bar Association, Chandigarh, came down heavily on the administration and the police for allowing a protest at the centre of the city.



Easy liquor aggravates situation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Areas around many liquor vends in Sectors 15, 16, 17, 21, 22 and 24 here virtually became open-air bars today, as members of the farmers and PSEB union, who were here to participate in a rally, indulged in disorderly drinking on the streets.

Never before had anyone thought that easy and cheap availability of liquor in the city could pose such a big threat to the security of local residents. Absolute scare hit people as thousands of activists in huge groups flocked liquor shops in most sector markets. So much so that most of the vends went completely out of stock within minutes.

Cocking a snook at the law-enforcing agencies, a large number of activists from both the forums could be seen with whisky and beer bottles in their hands, roaming around drunk in many markets of the city.

The drastically increased sale at these vends left more and more activists absolutely drunk on roads, putting the safety of the local public at huge risk.

And soon as liquor hit most brains, utter hooliganism and rowdiness took over most areas. Without an iota of hesitation, while some openly mixed drinks in market corridors in broad daylight, others uttered abuses at passersby.

Alok, a shop-owner in Sector 22 market, said, “This is for the first time that the easy availability of liquor at every nook and corner in the city has hit the authorities. Liquor bottles are everywhere, in almost every hand. Even the air smells of liquor. The scenario is plain scary. We had women and children coming inside the shops looking for safety.”

The scene became absolute mess, with many breaking liquor bottles on the roads and loudly yelling gibberish. It became literally impossible for city residents to even walk around openly, as most of them hurriedly rushed home.

Paramjeet Kaur, a city resident, said, “I have never felt this afraid and threatened in this city. This is just obnoxious. There are drunken men all around ogling and uttering nonsense.”

Parul, a university student, said, “As I was hastily trying to get my scooty out of the Sector 22 market parking, a couple of men, uttering all sorts of abuses, surrounded me. I managed to get way, just in time.”



3 students, PGI doc test positive for swine flu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Two students of Bhawan Vidyalya, Sector 27, and one of the DPS, Sector 40, have tested positive for swine flu.

They had apparently contracted the infection from their classmates, who had earlier tested positive for the H1N1 influenza.

UT Nodal Officer for swine flu HC Gera said Class IX-C of the DPS and Class X-B of Bhawan Vidyalya have been suspended for a week following the orders of UT Education Secretary Ram Niwas.

When questioned about the reason of not closing the schools, Education Secretary, Ram Niwas said this would be done immediately if any more cases were reported from the schools.

The education department has also asked the other students of these classes sections and teachers to confine to their homes.

However, according to officials of the health department, while the education department might claim to have done the needful, it skipped a major step of informing them and getting other students of this school screened.

“Suspending one section is not enough because these students might have come in contact with other students during school functions, assemblies or even tuitions. So, screening of students was must, but we were not even informed, said health officials.

Meanwhile, a PGI doctor from the orthopaedic department tested positive for swine flu, even after finishing the five-day course of Tamiflu. He is the third PGI doctor to have contracted swine flu.

Earlier, a doctor from the medicine department and junior resident from another department also tested positive for the H1N1 influenza.

Two more persons from Panchkula and Shimla with symptoms of swine flu reported in the PGI today. “Their samples have been sent for testing to the PGI lab,” said HC Gera, UT Nodal Officer for swine flu.

A youth from Shimla was admitted to the hospital while a 37-year-old person from Panchkula has been home quarantined, said Gera.



Italy eager to assist Indian SMEs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
India and Italy should explore the possibilities of bilateral trade in the fields of agro-processing, dairy processing, renewable energy, pharmaceutical research and education. The two countries can explore forging joint ventures in these sectors.

This was stated by Italian Ambassador to India Roberto Toscano, during an interactive session organised by the PHD Chamber here today. He said the small and the medium enterprises (SMEs) which are the backbone of Italian and Indian corporate setup, are ready for more cooperation. “Italy is prepared to address the special needs of the SMEs in India. To increase trade between both the countries, the potential companies should form an association,” he said.

The Ambassador said Italy was prepared to help India in promoting tourism by giving technology and complete equipment needed to upgrade tourism. “Education cooperation is the perfect ground for long term cooperation, “he added, saying that it was generally perceived that Italy was more of a fashion, cultural and design hub. But it is equally important in latest applied science, renewable energy and advanced technology.

Satish Bagrodia, president, PHD Chamber, said we need to accelerate our efforts for the growth of bilateral economic cooperation, particularly in view of the current economic scenario.


Now, MC moots hike in water tariff
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
After a proposal of imposing house tax, the Municipal Corporation is all set to give another shock to the city residents by proposing a hike of 100 per cent in water tariff.

MC officials have prepared a detailed proposal to increase water tariff, which would be tabled in the next House meeting of the corporation.

In the last House meeting, MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria had informed the House that they would have to table the agenda on increasing water tariff soon.

According to the proposal, water tariff for up to 15,000 units would be increased from Rs 1.75 to Rs 3.5 per unit. Between 15,000 and 30,000 units, the tariff would be Rs 7 per unit instead of Rs 3.5 being charged now. The tariff charged from institutions would be increased from Rs 9 to Rs 18 per unit. While for commercial establishments, it would be increased from Rs 11 to Rs 22 per unit.

Officials said the MC plans to increase the water tariff to meet the operational and maintenance charges borne by the corporation at the users end.

Talking about the existing tariff, official said the corporation was recovering only around 60 per cent of the total expenditure incurred by it.

Officials said the MC was spending Rs 70 crore as maintenance expenditure, a loss of more than Rs 15 crore annually. Official said another reason of loss in cost recovery was non-installation of water meters in colonies and villages of the city. The authorities are not getting clearance on the proposal of installing meters in colonies and villages at their own cost and recovering it later by adding it into the water bills of the residents.

Referring to the two projects being undertaken under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission, official said that the corporation would have to increase water tariff to ensure proper maintenance of the projects.

Official said that earlier also, the councillors deferred the proposal in the House on increase in water tariff. But this time, the House will have to clear the proposal, otherwise it will affect on the release of grant from the Centre for various projects.



Garbage Plant Mess
Show-cause notice to MC, Jaypee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Acting on the interim report of the expert committee on garbage plant, the UT administration has served a show-cause notice on the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation and Jaiprakash Associates Ltd (Jaypee).

They have been given 15 days to explain what steps they are taking to ensure that the foul smell emanating from the garbage processing plant is contained speedily.

Disclosing this here today, an official spokesman said that Jaiprakash Associates Ltd had been asked to segregate the waste of slaughter houses at the plant and hand it over to the MC for disposal. The vegetable waste should be handed over to the MC for preparing compost. The company has also been directed to use inoculants on the stored garbage daily to minimise stench.

The company has been directed to explore the possibility of converting the present furnace at the plant into fluidised bed furnace as recommended by the Pollution Control Committee and submit its report within a fortnight.

The plant authorities should, in consultation with the Central Pollution Board and the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee, conduct analysis of the volatile organic compounds (VOC) and other parameters at the earliest. Also, the plant authorities should submit detailed design and specifications of the hot air generator and rotary dryer to the pollution committee within a week’s time. The secondary burning of the gases at more than 1,000 degrees Celsius be also commenced to kill VOCs.

In its letter to the MC, the administration has directed the civic body to use bags of specific colour, other than colours meant for bio-medical wastes, for the collection of meat waste from different parts of Chandigarh and transport them in a separate vehicle to the slaughterhouse bio-methanation plant for further processing.

The MC has also been directed to ensure that the waste meant for land filling be compacted and covered at the end of each working day with soil to avoid odour nuisance.



House tax opposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Even before the proposal of imposing property tax in Chandigarh is to be tabled in the general house meeting of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, various political parties have started condemning it on the plea that there was no need for imposing any new tax, as the corporation had huge amount of unspent funds lying with it.

State president of the BJP Kamla Sharma and state general secretary Sanjay Tandon, in a press statement, termed the proposal of imposing property tax by the Congress-ruled municipal corporation as a treachery with the city residents. They said the local Congress MP and Union Minister Pawan Kumar had promised during the Lok Sabha elections, held in May 2009, that no property tax would be imposed in Chandigarh but as per information, the agenda to this effect is likely to be placed in the next meeting of the house of corporation.

The BJP leaders said there was no paucity of funds with the Congress-ruled MCC, as crores of rupees were deposited in banks. The developmental projects could be easily undertaken with these available funds lying with the corporation. They said the corporation was collecting huge amount of money with the setting up of paid parkings in the city. As per their information, the rates of water would also be hiked in the near future.

Ajay Jagga, president, Janta Party, Chandigarh, has strongly condemned the move of imposing taxes and termed the present house of municipal corporation as tax corporation. He lashed on the house for its failure to get funds from the Consolidated Fund of India as provided under Article 243-X of the Constitution of India. He also opposed the proposal of the councillors to visit foreign countries on the pretext of studying their systems, which is putting a burden on the residents’ pocket. He said if the plan of imposition of taxes was not withdrawn, the matter would be taken to legal forums.



Bed and Breakfast scheme
Erring operators to get notice
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Even as the Chandigarh Administration has decided to scrap the bed and breakfast scheme, more trouble seems to be in store for the erring operators.

With UT Administrator SF Rodrigues giving his nod to the scrapping of the scheme, the administration has decided to tighten the noose around those operators, who violated the terms and conditions of the virtually defunct scheme. Two operators had already been issued show-cause notices by the Estate Office following indictment by an inquiry committee of the administration.

Officials said more defaulting operators would be issued show-cause notices by the Estate Office for violating various terms and conditions and "misusing" residential premises for commercial gains.

In the true Indian tradition of “atithi devobhava” (guest is God), the administration had opened a new chapter in social tourism by launching the bed and breakfast scheme intended to provide affordable homely accommodation to tourists about a year back.

However, not caring two hoots for various provisions of the scheme, certain operators turned the scheme into a commercial venture. Even a committee under CITCO general manager AK Malhotra found large-scale violations, which eventually led to its premature death. Now the administration was toying with the idea of re-launching the scheme in a new avatar.

The violations included over-charging, renting of more rooms than permitted and tie-ups with corporate sector for the renting of accommodation.

Tourism Secretary Ram Niwas, while confirming that the administrator had ordered the scrapping of the scheme, said strict action would be taken against the defaulting operators.

Under the Estate Office rules, the violation such as the misuse of the residential property for commercial purpose could attract resumption of property.

What was the scheme

The bed and breakfast (registration and regulation) Ordinance 2007 allowed people to offer their houses to guests through a system of registration by a prescribed authority. The condition was that there should be adequate space to house the guests. The owner should be able to provide quality food prepared under hygienic conditions and proper sleeping arrangements for the guests.



Tuk-tuk service to begin today
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The much-publicised “tuk-tuk” service, the radio auto-rickshaw, will finally hit the roads from tomorrow as the service will be flagged off from Sukhna Lake.

With this, the city would have the privilege to be the first place in the country to introduce 24X7 LPG-driven radio auto service.

These LPG-driven beauties can be caught by dialling a special four-digit number and the charges would be counted from “doorstep to destination”.

At Rs 10 for the first km and Rs 8 for the subsequent kms, it would be one of the convenient and safe travelling, especially for kids and lady passengers, as the autos would be fitted with the GPS, which would help in tracing its location. The GPS system would be connected with GSM, CDMA or landline network.

But during late evening hours, between 10 pm and 6 am, there would be 25 per cent extra charges over and above the fare.

Similarly, the waiting charges would be around Rs 30 for an hour. However, there would be no charges for the first 15 minutes, confirmed the officials.

STA secretary Dr Vandana Disodia said, “At present, they have been issued permits for the city only, but soon this service would get started in Mohali.”

The director of the tricity tours and travels, the first operators for the “tuk-tuk” service, Col VS Dhillon said, “Once this service is rolled out, we will introduce many innovative ideas like offering newspapers and even water bottles too.”



Flights suspended as Jet pilots go on leave
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Even as more than 400 Jet Airways pilots went on a mass sick leave today, about 128 flights, along with the flight for Chandigarh-Delhi route, were suspended nationwide. As many as 25 cancellations out of the total 30 passengers, who were to board the flight, scheduled for departure at 2.35 pm were reported by the jet airways officials.

Out of the remaining five passengers who turned up at the Chandigarh airport today, four passengers were accommodated with Air India flight to Delhi at 3.15 pm. One passenger was transferred to the Kingfisher flight, that took off at 3.30 pm. However, the other Jet flight that operates between Chandigarh and Mumbai route did arrive on the city airport today on its scheduled time, triggering in reprieve for passengers.

Till late at night, local Jet Airways officials had no update about any suspended flights in the coming days.

Statement of the official read, “Regrettably, a section of the pilots, who were rostered for operations have resorted to a simulated strike by reporting sick. Jet Airways is taking all steps to minimise the inconvenience to its guests. The airline will make all efforts to operate the maximum number of flights."

Where local authorities envisage normal functioning of both Jet flights from Chandigarh, speculations run high on whether the strike would subside or increase havoc tomorrow.

For any assistance, passengers planning travel with Jet Airways tomorrow can update themselves with latest information about flight timings and delays from the airline’s website and call centres.

As many as 20,000 air passengers all over India suffered inconvenience due to the strike by jet pilots. A total of 380 flights to 63 domestic and overseas destinations fly under Jet Airways. Out of these 113 domestic and 16 international flights were cancelled as a result of the strike today.



Stress on increasing eye donation awareness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The department of ophthalmology in Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, organised the concluding function on eye donation awareness today in collaboration with State Health Society UT Chandigarh on the occasion of National Fortnight on Eye Donation.

Ram Niwas, Home Secretary, UT, Chandigarh, was the chief guest on the occasion. He stressed the need for increasing eye donation awareness amongst the public. “Eye donation can be increased if we can give some incentive to the family members of deceased in the form of appreciation certificate or honouring them at some function,” he said.

He stressed the need for informing the family members of the persons who have pledged for eye donation so that their wish can be fulfilled after death. He advised to bridge the gap of eye donation and eye requirement by partnership between government machinery and NGOs. He appealed to the audience to pledge for eye donation today after he himself pledged for eye donation.

Dr M.S. Bains, mission director, National Rural Health Mission ( NPCB) and Director Health Services UT Chandigarh said that State Health Society, Chandigarh, provides Rs 15 lakh grant for opening of any new eye bank. It also provides Rs 1500 for a pair of eye donation to the eye banks. They also have provision of aid to eye donation centre. He discussed myths about eye donation, which is deterrent for eye donation.

Prof Raj Bahadur, Director-Principal, GMCH, welcomed the chief guest. Prof S Sood, head of ophthalmology department, said the department of ophthalmology, GMCH, actively participated in this campaign and a number of eye donation awareness programmes were organised in various schools of Chandigarh during this fortnight in which students were made aware of various aspects of eye donation by showing slides and movie on eye donation.

On the occasion, Prof Sudesh Kumar Arya, in charge, Cornea and Eye Bank, GMCH, delivered a presentation on eye donation. He said the department performs 100 corneal transplants every year. He said there are about 12 million blind in India, out of which 2 million are corneal blind ( opacification of front glass of eye i.e. cornea or Putli). Every year 40,000 to 50,000 new cases are added to the backlog. Approximately 1,00,000 corneas are required every year to combat corneal blindness in India.

In spite of 80 lakh deaths annually, only 20,000 pairs of corneas are donated annually in India. The main causes for low turnout of eye donation in India is lack of awareness, social taboos and religious myths, apathy and forgetfulness.

“Due to lack of available donor cornea, one has to wait for at least two years for his turn for surgery. Hence it is important to make people aware of eye donation and motivate them for eye donation,” said Prof Arya. This was the purpose of this concluding function.

The programme also included visually disabled children from the Institute for the Blind, Sector 26, Chandigarh, who presented cultural programme related to eye donation on this occasion.

Certificates of appreciation were given by the Home Secretary to Mr Jagdeep, social worker-cum-grief counsellor of Eye Bank GMCH for his contribution in getting the eye donations.

Ramesh Kapoor, senior announcer, All India Radio, was also honoured on this occasion for his contribution in the cause of eye donation.

In addition all faculty of the GMCH, nursing staff, paramedical staff, students and members of various NGOs were present on this occasion and they were motivated to pledge for eye donation.

PGI awareness programme

As part of the ongoing eye donation fortnight programme, an eye donation awareness and screening programme was organised by a team of doctors from Eye Bank, Advanced Eye Centre, PGI, Chandigarh, at the Naulakha Sahib, Fatehgarh Sahib, Punjab.

The team comprising Dr Srishty Rai, Dr Inderpreet Singh, Dr Pawan Malhotra and Dr Amisha examined more than 500 patients. Out of these, more than 30 patients will be treated free of cost for various eye problems causing low-vision at the Advanced Eye Centre, said a PGI spokesperson.



Drive to check polythene bags
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
A day-long drive to check and enforce the ban on polythene bags was conducted in the sub-division (East) of the UT today. The drive was conducted by inspectors of MOH department under the supervision of SDM (East) Niharika Rai, Abhishek Dev and Ashok Kumar, assistant commissioners (under training), for the ban enforcement.

Areas covered during the drive included Sector 26 Grain Market, Manimajra, Raipur Khurd, Daria, Kishangarh, sectors from 18 to 21, sector from 26 to 31, Ram Darbar and Industrial Area.

Around 230 kg of polythene was seized, out of which 92 kg was seized from Daria, 30 kg from Kishangarh, 25 kg from Sectors 29 and 31,16 kg from Industrial Area and 11 kg from grain market.

The UT administration imposed a ban on the use and sale of polythene bags in the city with effect from October 2, 2008.



Accused kept in captivity by Burail jail supdt released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
A day after a local court had issued a contempt of court notice to the superintendent of the Model Jail, Burail, for allegedly keeping an accused in confinement, the accused was released today.

While a notice was issued today, the superintendent did not file its reply till late afternoon.

Later in the evening, the counsel of the accused claimed that even as the accused was released by the court in the evening, the superintendent did not submit any reply.

The court had issued another notice for tomorrow in this regard.

The lower court had issued contempt of court notice to the superintendent of Model Jail, Burail, after he had illegally confined an inmate for more than two days.

This despite the fact that the court had already granted him bail and release orders.

The accused Wasim Chand was arrested in a case of robbery under Sections 392, 34 of the IPC on May 21.

He was kept at the Sector 36 police station. Wasim was granted bail by the court of JMIC on September 3.



Building bylaws violated in Zirakpur
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, September 8
The nexus between politicians and MC officials has brought a number of residential buildings in Baltana under the scanner.

Buildings in Saini Vihar, Ravindra Enclave and Harmilap Nagar have been constructed in violation of building bylaws after getting the building plans approved by the authorities concerned.

According to MC officials, most of the residential colonies in Baltana had come up before the formation of Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat and now the Zirakpur Municipal Council.

They added that before the formation of the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat (MC), all building construction-related matters had been taken up by PUDA. During that particular time, residents had constructed their houses as per their requirements, and PUDA officials did not check the building bylaws.

At present, the buildings are being constructed beyond the allowed areas. MC officials said in 2004, the state government had issued instructions regarding the approval of building plans in unauthorised colonies after taking development charges per square yard.

As a result of the illegal activity, these colonies have been lacking basic amenities. He added that a majority of the builders who developed unapproved colonies under the Zirakpur MC limits had violated the rules right under the nose of the authorities concerned.

A survey revealed that in many colonies like Saini Vihar, Ravindra Enclave, Harmilap Nagar and other small colonies residents had not followed the rules laid down by the town planning department. They had extended their front areas along with additional rooms and other violations. They had constructed houses without leaving much space on the internal roads. Also, ramps had encroached parts of roads in various colonies falling within the MC limits. Today, 90 per cent of the area in Baltana has been developed.

Who is responsible for the violations ?

The regulatory wing of the erstwhile PUDA, then headed by GM (Regulatory), was responsible for checking the illegal construction activity. Apart from issuing notices, the regulatory wing did little to check these violations. Under political pressure of the ruling SAD, no demolition was carried out by PUDA.



Cylinder explodes in sweets shop
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 8
A major tragedy was averted when an LPG cylinder exploded at Uttam Sweets in Sector 14 this morning. However, no one was injured in the blast, but the basement where the mishap occurred was considerably damaged.

There were around 11 employees’ and a few customers in the shop when the incident occurred. Employees of the shop said a commercial LPG cylinder in the kitchen located in the basement exploded after developing a leakage. Although, there was no fire, the false ceiling caved in by the impact of the explosion.

One of the employees said it was at around 12 noon when the workers in the kitchen alerted about the gas leakage. This helped others to rush out of the shop in a jiffy. The leakage was followed by a loud explosion and one employee sustained minor burn injuries on fingers.

The Station House Officer (SHO) of Sector 14 said, “It was because of the gas leakage in the kitchen located at the basement of the shop. As no one was injured, we have not registered any case till now”.

The incident brings to fore the apparent violation of building bylaws by shopkeepers who are using basement as kitchen and storing inflammable material there. A HUDA official confirmed that as per rules, basements can only be used for storage purposes.



Senior citizens plaint registered after 7 months
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 8
It took the economic offence wing of the Mohali police seven months to register a senior citizen’s complaint of cheating and breach of trust against officials of Uppal’s Centra Mall, Industrial Area, Phase 1, Chandigarh.

On the complainant of Kul Bhushan Lal Chopra, a chartered accountant of Phase V here, the economic offence wing has booked five persons - JS Jarry and Sunil Shrivastava of Uppal Housing Limited, New Delhi, and JS Malli, Balwant Singh Arora and Manoj Garg of the company’s Mani Majra branch under Sections 406, 420 and 120-B of the IPC.

Apart from the five persons named in the FIR, Bhushan Kumar Uppal, director of the Uppal Housing Ltd, and other board members who passed the board resolution for sale of the property could also be included during the further course of investigations.

“Even after losing around Rs 1.48 crore, deposited with the promoters of the mall against investment in a shop, I had to run around to register my complaint. I am in a bad financial situation,” said the complainant, adding he had purchased a shop in the mall after being promised that he would get Rs 1,24,875 monthly rent from the tenant immediately after paying the final amount.

The complainant said the mall promoters had stated that the shop had been leased for nine years and the rent was to increase by 15 per cent every three years. The victim paid Rs 1.48 crore for the shop but found that there was no tenant in the shop.



Tribune Impact
PWD carries out repair work on highway
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, September 8
Following the news report in this column on September 6, titled “Potholed stretch bane of motorists”, public works department (PWD) has carried out the repaired work on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway near petrol pump in Zirakpur.

It was highlighted in the report that deep potholes and tanks of standing water on the highway have become a virtual nightmare for lakhs of commuters. The stretch was in bad shape and minor accidents were a routine affair.



Verka’s complaint
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 8
The Verka milk plant management has complained to the district administration that certain private persons were changing the course of the seasonal rivulets adjoining the boundary wall of the milk plant.

The chairman of the plant, Parminder Singh Chalaki, said the action of the private persons would cause damage to the plant. Despite instructions of the district administration, the levelling of the land was going on.



Literacy Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The Adult Education Unit of the UT administration celebrated the International Literacy Day in Government Model High School, Sector 38-D, here today.

Jean Rodrigues, president of the Indian Council for Child Welfare, was the chief guest, who distributed durries to various adult education centres.

She also honoured the learners, preraks, nodal preraks and coordinators for their outstanding contribution in Adult Education Programme in Chandigarh.



Cong observer meets candidates
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 8
Nearly 1,500 Congress party workers, along with aspiring candidates for the MLA’s seat for Panchkula and Kalka, attended the meeting that was held under the chairmanship of the Congress observer, KP Rana, MLA from Nangal, at Devinagar village in Sector 3 here today.

According to information, while there are around 21 aspirants for the Panchkula seat, there are 19 claimants for the Kalka seat. “A unanimous resolution was passed in favour of fielding local candidates for both seats,” said a local Congress leader.

After the three-hour meeting, the central observer met the aspiring candidates along with their supporters separately.

The front-runners for the seat include ex-MC president, Rawinder Rawal, District Congress president, Om Prakash Devinagar, Varinder Walia, Shashi Sharma.



Hunt on to nab baba, wife
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 8
The police has conducting raids to nab Baba Pritpal Singh and his wife Charankamal Kaur, chairman and vice-chairman of the Shiromani Sant Khalsa International Foundation operated from Gurudwara Gur Sagar Sahib near Sukhna Lake, Chandigarh, here today.

The police had registered a case against them for cheating Paramjit Singh, a resident of Rajpura, of Rs 25 lakh.

The police has booked baba and his wife on the complaint of the Rajpura resident that he was duped him of Rs 25 lakh on the pretext of selling him a piece of land at Dera Bassi. He alleged that accused posed Charankamal as Satwinder Kaur of Madhopur, Dera Bassi, owner of 7 bigha land.

Police officials stated, “We are conducting raids to nab Baba Pritpal Singh and his wife Charankamal Kaur”, he added.



Facebook or fakebook
By Anil Maheshwari

Facebook, a popular social networking web site has invited ire of anti-tobacco activists in India for its inability to prevent content in promoting the concept of smoking and showing products and brands associated with promoting tobacco consumption in various web pages and groups on the site. The Government of India has sent a legal notice to the site for violating Indian tobacco control laws. The site, having about 250 million active users and 45 million user groups worldwide, has a policy against paid advertisements for tobacco products on the web site but groups and member pages continue to promote brands and tobacco products, an offence as per Indian laws. However, there are many anti-smoking groups on Facebook as well.

A few months ago, the site was in a soup for allegedly duping online advertisers. Facebook, founded on February 1, 2004, with a updated funding of US $716 million too is also in race with websites to monetise the Internet information circuit, including social media networking sites. With such a heavy investment, it has to earn money like any other business venture. It has a big revenue target this year, $550 million. That is nearly twice 2008 revenues of $280 million.

A big part of that revenue comes from cost-per-click advertising from small self-serve advertisers. And right now, those advertisers are not very happy. They have been complaining of massive click fraud. These are not the standard click fraud complaints that advertisers have levelled against search engines for years. They are alleging that Facebook is recording and charging for clicks that do not exist at all, even from bots.

This online social grid is now facing exodus too though not an alarming speed. It could not command loyalty forever. Even though Facebook is the best engineered social site, its popularity seems to be waning as it has happened with other very popular sites such as Second Life or MySpace. A quitter shut down the account because she disliked how nosy it made her. Another thought the scene had turned desperate. A third feared stalkers. A fourth believed his privacy was compromised. A fifth disappeared without a word.

“The more dependent we allow ourselves to become to something like Facebook - and Facebook does everything in its power to make you more dependent - the more Facebook can and does abuse us,” a disillusioned user says. “It is not ‘your’ Facebook profile. It is Facebook’s profile about you.”

He is not the lone dissenter. Many seem to have just lost their appetite for it: they just stopped wanting to look at other people’s photos and résumés and updates, or have their own subject to scrutiny. Some quitters seemed shaken, even heartbroken, by their breakups with Facebook. “I primarily left Facebook because I was wasting so much time on it,” says one who has broken his relationship with Facebook.

Is Facebook doomed to become an online ghost town, run by zombie users who never update their pages and packs of marketers picking at the corpses of social circles they once hoped to exploit?

Facebook isn't inherently bad. When used properly-- adding only people you actually know, setting privacy preferences in line with your level of paranoia, and not taking those awful quizzes--it can facilitate communication among friends, and that's a good thing.

A comment on a news item in the New York Times read “Of course Facebook will shrink. These models offer nothing of any real value. They build nothing. They sell nothing. They manufacture nothing. They are like McDonalds Happy Meal toys. Once the novelty runs its course, users will move on to something else. Facebooks' days of netnormous unique visitors are slowly typing to an end. Soon its membership "usage" will shrink. It will become another place where people go from time to time to check if someone new has popped up. That's all. Trying to grow Facebook under its current model is like trying to grow a conference in real-time. After a while everyone just gets tired of walking around the room, nose-rubbing, gossiping and plotting.”

He added a note to netrepreneurs: If your users are not willing to pay for your service (even if it is free it must have that strong of value), then the foundation for your very existence is weak at best. And you will forever struggle to satisfy the masses by growing your free services, until you get to a critical point whereas you just cannot continue to exist for free.

Then trying to convert your spoon fed user base is impossible. They will walk. You will loose followers and ultimately you will fail. Build a valued payable service. It may be smaller, but it will last longer, make you more money and give a lot more back to whatever industry you are operating in.

Will people grow bored with it? Sure. That's the nature of the web. It's the nature of life. At the same time the Internet by its very nature is not private. Moreover, every major technology trend seems to have three phases:

1. Excessive optimism ("It's the answer to everything".)

2. Excessive pessimism ("It's not perfect, and not the answer to everything".) 3. Reality ("Lots of good things about it, but some not so good".)

Just as Moore's Law gave us a model for the technical obsolescence of our computer technology, there needs to be an equivalent for the natural obsolescence of online communities. One rule of thumb that even Facebook cannot escape: none of these online communities have survived more than a few years before the next thing came along and replaced it.

There is a metaphor "Never undress until you die."It meant, "Be mysterious; don't reveal too much about yourself." At least not in public.

With social networking sites, people are always undressing, unpaid and unprompted. In a way, they are a form of pornography.

The writer is an editor with Instablogs.com (anilm@instablogs.com)



DPI (S) on his way out?
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Samwarthak Singh, DPI (Schools), who brought embarrassment for himself and the Chandigarh administration for being “in touch” with one of the accused in the “cash-for-job scam” in the education department may well be on his way out.

With the interviews for the post of teachers still in progress, the Chandigarh administration is actively considering removing him from the sensitive post of the DPI (Schools) as he is the chairman of one of the selection committees. His continuation as the chairman may give rise to allegations in the backdrop of his name being “linked” with Jolly.

Sources said the administration was waiting for the police report in the scam. Any action against Samwarthak Singh would only be initiated after the police report, the sources asserted.

The administration seems to have been caught in a Catch-22 situation on the issue may snowball into major embarrassment for the administration top brass. As a damage control exercise, the administration may take away the charge of the DPI (Schools) from him.

Harsh action such as the chargesheet and repatriation to his parent state of Haryana could also follow if some concrete evidence is found of his involvement in the scam, the sources said.

Home-cum-Education Secretary Ram Niwas asserted that action against any education department official would only be taken on the basis of 
the findings of the police inquiry.

‘No re-think on recruitment’

Terming the recruitment process foolproof and transparent, Ram Niwas said the administration would go ahead with the selections. There is nothing wrong with selections and there is no chance of the process being scrapped, he added



Teachers’ Recruitment
Two candidates move CAT
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
In what could prove to be a setback for DPI (S) Samwarthak Singh, who is claiming innocence in the ongoing UT teachers’ recruitment scam, two candidates have moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), accusing him of issuing interview letters to some applicants even before the declaration of the results.

This comes a day after the call records of the accused Jolly in the scam have well established the links between the DPI (S) and him.

The candidates have moved the tribunal for quashing of the written test held for the posts of masters/mistresses in music and for setting aside the selection process till the outcome of the present application. The CAT has today sought all the records pertaining to the matter and also issued a notice for September 15.

Candidates Saurabh Sood and Satnam Singh, in their application submitted before the tribunal on September 7, have alleged that director, Public Instructions (Schools), without declaring the result of the written test, held on July 18 for the post of issued interview letters to some candidates on August 27, 2009.

The interview letters bearing numbers withheld to protect the identity in the series of DPI-UT-S2-11 (62) 2007 were sent to certain candidates, whereas the result was declared on September 4. Also, the roll numbers of the applicants did not appear in the list of the successful candidates, who were called for the interview to be held on September 8, 2009.

The candidates have further alleged that the entire selection have been undertaken in a pre-determined and biased manner. As per the settled norms, interview letters could not be issued before the declaration of the written test. No detailed marks have also been communicated or published.

Further, it has been alleged that the result of the written test has been intentionally declared at the last moment in order to frustrate the legal and valid rights of the applicants.

It must be mentioned here that both the candidates fulfilled the criteria as per the advertisement issued by the UT education department. However, the Director, public instructions (schools), issued memos dated June 2 to both the applicants communicating that they had been found ineligible for the posts.

The applicants immediately approached him and explained that they had been fully eligible in terms of the advertisement given by the department of education and that their candidature had been wrongly rejected. Accepting the plea of the applicants, DPI (S) issued the admit cards to both the applicants on July 4 for appearing in the written test to be held on July 18.

Later, on September, 4 when the results were declared, the two applicants did not find their names in the list of successful candidates. They were again informed that both of them had been disqualified as they had not possessed the qualifications mentioned in the advertisement.



Drama prevails in DPI office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
A big drama prevailed in DPI office today, when parents of a Class XII students of St Soldier’s School, Sector 28, approached the department, accusing the school authorities of demanding donation for submitting one of her forms to the board concerned.

Amarjit Sarao, the father of the girl, had earlier approached the Home Secretary and submitted an affidavit claiming that the school authorities had been continuously harassing him and demanding Rs 20,000 for sending across one of the requisite forms to the board concerned. “The complaint came to me and I marked an immediate enquiry on the matter,” said education secretary Ram Niwas.

While both the principal and DPI (S) Samwartak Singh could not be contacted for their comments, the sources in the department revealed that the matter had been amicably settled as the principal had denied all allegations and even the girl’s form had been immediately submitted.

Meanwhile, Deputy DEO Saroj Gupta has reportedly been asked to look in to the complaint and verify the truth.



CCET-26 to have regular principal
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Now, the Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology (CCET), Sector 26, will be governed by a regular principal. The Cabinet, New Delhi, has given its nod to sanction the post of regular principal to break the monotony.

Since its inception in 2003, as a “stop-gap arrangement”, it was being looked after by the officiating in charges. Ironically, due to tedious procedure of the UPSC rules, the two other colleges - Government College of Art and Chandigarh College of Architecture - too do not have sanctioned posts of principals for the past over two decades.

Nevertheless, at CCET, the administration has upgraded the post of diploma wing in charge, came into being in 1959, to take care of the main degree wing too.

After the Cabinet’s approval, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has also sanctioned 31 posts of technical wing and 32 posts of non-technical wing too.

Taking it as a start, Prithi Chand, Joint Secretary, Technical Education, said the notification would be received soon. “At last, the long-pending issue has a start with the CCET. The administration has been pursuing with the government for the past many years for the sanctioned post of principal, but now when it has been done, it will certainly improve the organisational composition of the institute”.

The institute is being looked after by Dr BS Pabla, a professor cadre deputationist from the National Institute of Technical Teachers’ Training (NITTT).

On the other hand, Government College of Art and Chandigarh College of Architecuture have been bearing the brunt of tedious procedural lapses to have the posts of principal sanctioned on official grounds.

At present, Manohar Lal and SK Gupta are holding the officiating charge of Government College of Art and Chandigarh College of Architecture. Ironically, it was more than 20 years ago, when the art college had Jagmohan Chopra as regular principal.

DK Kapoor, senior faculty member of the art college, opined that both colleges reflected the culture of the region and efforts should be made to streamline its administrative set up which played an important role to produce finer fallout.



Promotion of lecturers
Clarification sought from Punjab govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
At a mass meeting of teachers held today in Panjab University, addressed by the Vice-Chancellor, it was announced that a clarification had been sought from the Punjab government on promotions of lecturers.

The issue came up after an objection was raised in the Syndicate on recent promotion of lecturers to readers as per CAS (Career Advancement Scheme), which, they claimed, were invalid. The promotions were done as per old guidelines even though the increase in pay scales of lecturers was done as per the new UGC guidelines.

According to the UGC guidelines, the pay scales of the lecturers had been updated recently. But along with the increase, there was a condition to be fulfilled. As per the condition, if the university implements the new pay scale, the criteria of promotion would also change as per the guidelines. For promotion from reader to professor, 100 research points were needed and from lecturer to professor, 400 research points needed, according to the new UGC guidelines.

The VC announced that the clarification had been sought for promotions from lecturers to readers. However, no clarification has been sought for the promotion from the post of reader to professor.



Panel for revival of waste mgmt dept
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Panjab University Vice-Chancellor has formed a committee today to look into the revival of name of the solid waste management department.

The decision was taken by the authorities, following a protest by students of the department in front of Vice-Chancellor’s office. These students had been claiming in the past that their placements had suffered because of the name of the department, which was initially suggested as environment studies and solid waste management.

The committee would consist of university’s student council president Amit Bhatia, general secretary Deepika Thakur and dean student welfare, Naval Kishore.



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