C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


City population crosses million mark: 10,54,686 and counting
l Just 1.5 lakh increase in 10 years! l Second highest density per sq km at 9,252, l Slips in literacy rate from sixth to eighth l Third most skewed gender ratio at 818 
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

The under-construction structure.
The under-construction structure. Tribune photo: Vinay Malik

Chandigarh, March 31
The ‘City Beautiful’ is turning ‘city decaying’. The literacy rate has fallen from the country’s sixth highest to the country’s eighth. The gender ratio remains skewed as ever, the country’s third worst (slightly better than being the country’s second worst in the 2001 census); and it continues to have the country’s second highest density per sq km.

Along with that, the city has entered the million-plus citiy club, with the total population now officially pegged at 10,54,686. The decadal growth since the 2001 census of 9,00,635 works out to be 17.1 per cent, which, however, is below the national figure of 17.64 per cent.

The city’s skewed gender ratio stands at 818 females per 1,000 males, with a total 5,80,282 males and 4,74,404 females, according to provisional figures released today.

Labourers have a look at the site.
Labourers have a look at the site. Tribune photo: Vinay Malik

With a comparatively higher standard of living, Chandigarh has the second highest per sq km density of 9,252; below that of the National Capital Territory, which has a density of 11,297.

The marginal increase in literacy figures is, however, notional. Although the city has a literacy rate of 86.43 per cent, which is up from 81.9 per cent in 2001, it has slipped from the sixth position to the eighth at the national level and is now fourth among union territories, with Lakshwadeep (92.28 per cent), Daman and Diu (87.07 per cent) and Puducherry (86.55 per cent) ahead of it.

The 2011 census figures puts the figure of male and female literacy at 90.54 per cent and 81.38 per cent, respectively, which is in contrast to 86.1 per cent male literacy and 76.5 per cent female literacy recorded in the 2001 census.

Commenting on the provisional figures, an official said the figures represented snapshots of the population at the time of enumeration and there could be slight changes in the figures.



City’s salaried class faces higher tax liability
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
With the union territory’s population having crossed one million according to the census figures released on Thursday, city residents will now have to pay higher income tax.

Under the population specific provision of the Income Tax Act, 1961 it is clearly specified that employees living in rent-free accommodation in towns with a population of up to a million were adding 7.5 per cent of their income to their total remuneration for calculating their tax liability. Chandigarh will now be covered under the provision of cities having a population of more than a million and less than 2.5 million. Here the income tax department will be required to add 15 per cent of assessees’ income to their total remuneration for calculating their tax liability.

The raised tax limit applies to government, semi government and even employees of private organizations under chapter 4 of the IT Act. It will be more specific to government employees who are provided furnished accommodation. The salary component includes basic pay, dearness allowance, bonus and the taxable portion of income.

The population figure of 1,054,000 quoted by the census department will have the city covered under the subhead ‘perquisites’ of the Income Tax Act, with the specifications given under rule 3 of section 17(2) of the IT rules. This provision applies to cities with a population of over one million.

It may be mentioned here that the development is part of the Finance Act, 2009 that had scrapped fringe benefit tax with effect from April 1, 2009 and employers were supposed to bear the burden. The change, which resulted in restoration of taxation of “perquisites” provided by employers, was made applicable from April 2009 onwards.

The city’s population has risen from 451,610 in 1981 to 642,015 in 1991 and to 900,635 in 2001.

Sources close to the income tax department said residents should not have a reason to complain about paying a little extra in taxes because living conditions in the city were among the best in the country.



Safety measures were ignored
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
The tragedy could have averted had proper safety measures been taken at the construction site.

Preliminary investigations reveal that the team of officials of the building branch of the UT estate office have found that no prescribed safety measures were taken during deep digging at the site.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, a member of the team said during digging of more than 15 feet deep earth, the contractor was supposed to have used a scaff-folding (a kind of shuttering to protect earth from caving in). “But that was not there at the site,”said the official.

Prescribed safety norms ewquire soil, which comes out while digging, be dumped at least 50 metres from the site. If the removed soil is dumped near the edges of the pit, the chances of the earth caving in increase manifold due to the dead load (weight pressure of the soil) on empty space.

The official maintained that violation of this norm was evident at the site as the soil was being dumped near the edges of the pit. The norm forbidding deep digging at a 90-degree angle was also not followed, he added. “It is the responsibility of the architect to issue such instructions to the contractor while handing over drawings,” said the official.

On the other hand, the local architect of the project, Vinod Joshi, said the job of the architect was to approve the building plan, which had been done. “We have nothing to do with the construction part as it has to be supervised by the structure engineer,” he said.

Two companies, one from Ludhiana and the other from Delhi, are collaborating on the project. The chief architect and structure engineer of the project are from Delhi. The plan envisages four pits of 50 feet each.



4 die in wall collapse at mall site
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Four labourers were killed and seven critically injured after a 20-feet wall at a mall under construction in Industrial Area’s Phase 1 caved in here this evening.

The accident occurred while the labourers were constructing a wall in the 40 feet deep pit where the foundation for a multiplex was being laid. The UT administration sealed the mall and ceased further construction following the incident.

The police control room received a call at 5.30 pm about the wall collapse and a team of the police, fire brigade as well as doctors from the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital (GMSH) in Sector 16 were pressed into service. Four fire tenders were rushed to the spot for rescue operations.

A total 26 labourers were working at the site at the time of the incident and 15 were trapped in the debris as the wall collapsed. While four of them managed to rescue themselves on their own, the remaining were trapped in the mud and were pulled out by a team of the fire brigade.

They were initially rushed to the Mukut Hospital in Sector 34, following which they were taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32.

Four labourers succumbed to their injuries on arrival at the hospital while six others were admitted in a critical condition. One of the dead labourers was identified as Raju. The names of the remaining three were still unknown. All of them hailed from remote districts in West Bengal and Bihar.

Municipal corporation additional commissioner-II Lalit Siwach, MC joint commissioner Kamlesh and DSP Jaswant Khaira were some of the officials who reached the spot and inspected the rescue operations.

The UT administration announced that it would bear the expenses of treatment of the labourers admitted to the hospital.

3 booked for causing death due to negligence

The police have booked the general manager of Ahluwalia Contractors, site engineer Anurag and the supervisor in a case of causing death due to negligence under Section 304-A of the IPC. A case was registered at the Industrial Area police station.

Rod went through victim’s body

Leading fireman Jagtar Singh said it was heart-rending to see so many labourers trapped in the debris and struggling to come out. “An iron rod had swept past his shoulder and he was soaked in blood and trapped in mud. We immediately rescued him and rushed him to the hospital. Unfortunately, he could not survive,” he said. 



Breaking News
UFO crashlands in fields near city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
In a startling development an unidentified flying object said to be carrying “aliens” crash landed near Zirakpur in the early hours of Friday morning. Estimated to be the size of five cargo ships, this elliptical object that emitted an “intense white light encircled the fields before it went down with a thud. No one is believed to have been killed or injured and the area has been cordoned off by a large contingent of the Punjab police that has been rushed to the site.

Right after the crash, radio signals were severely disrupted with cellphones going off the air for several minutes. Experts from the department of space and the Atomic Energy Commission, sleuths from the Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) and crack commandos of the army’s special forces are believed to be on their way to the site.


UFOs or unidentified flying objects have been sighted in the past too. Ranging from several yards to maximum 200 metres in diameter, they seem like a flying saucer that spins on its axis. The sightings are usually accompanied by a brilliant flash of light. The Area 51 in Nevada, United States, a central component to UFO folklore, reportedly conducts storage, examination and reverse engineering of crashed alien spaceships.

Why do they come?

Scientists say extraterrestrial organisms have long been zeroing in on future landing zones. They repeatedly conduct a recce of their selected spots. Another school of scientists firmly believes aliens are after “tritium”, a “wonder” element that is a precursor of their growth and has amazing healing properties. Tritium is abundantly available in the earth’s crust. The Sahnewal crash is though being attributed to the Supermoon phenomenon.

Top government officials said the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), the US space agency, had been informed and senior scientists were expected to arrive at the scene soon.

The Bureau of Paranormal Research & Extra Terrestrial Activities in Denver, Colorado immediately released reports of some “alien spacecraft” signals being detected in the area of the Indian subcontinent. A bureau team is expected to arrive in the city in a special jet on Thursday.

First reports received from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) said the recent Supermoon activity could be the reason behind “pushing” the UFO towards the earth. "The moon’s gravitational pull, which was the biggest in nearly two decades only last week, is likely to have waylaid the spacecraft," said T Rangarajan, who heads ISRO’s special projects cell.

Noted scientist Yash Pal said the UFO could probably be a “reconnaissance ship” and that there could be more such UFOs on the way. "The size of the ship that crashed in Punjab is small. It means it's an offshoot vehicle. The mother ship could be nearby," he warned.

However, Pal did not comment when asked whether the world should be bracing itself for the kind of “alien invasion” that was portrayed in the Hollywood film ‘Independence Day’.

A defence ministry official said: “We don’t have any expertise or role in respect to UFOs. Neither are we aware of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms”. The Indian Air Force, which has specialized electronic intelligence aircraft, declined to comment.

The sighting of the UFO was confirmed by a farmer who, along with his son, saw a “very luminous” object in the sky nearly an hour after midnight. Daljit Singh, 45, and his son Maninder, 17, who have been living in Zirakpur for the past 15 years, said their first reaction was that it was a “shooting star”.

“Maninder saw it first and even tried to snap it on his mobile," says Daljit, claiming there were two distinct “lights” and, as they moved in the northwest direction, one of them got “extinguished on its own”. 

Some scholars are relating it to the 2012 phenomenon that comprises a range of eschatological beliefs that cataclysmic events will occur on December 21, 2012, which will mark the end of the world. Scenarios posited for the end of the world include the earth's collision with a passing planet or an invasion by aliens.

The Tribune team is thankful to stalwarts of the sci-fi genre James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, without whose creative legends this piece could not have been possible.  
HAPPY FOOLS DAY folks! Hope you enjoyed the fiction.


India-Pak encounter
VVIPs, stars leave a mark at PCA Stadium
Visitor’s book logs most illustrious guest list thus far
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 31
The PCA Stadium has never had it so good. And it is now permanently etched on record. The high-profile India-Pakistan World Cup semi-final match, which saw the presence of a galaxy of celebrities comprising two Prime Ministers, the nation’s top politicians, business tycoons, Bollywood actors and actresses and key former cricketers, is now recorded in the form of a “gift” which the PCA will forever cherish.

Notwithstanding being absorbed in the charged game, the distinguished guests found time to pen their comments in the visitor’s book at the PCA.

“It was a fantastic experience at Mohali. Was like homecoming, Keep it up PCA”, wrote Mukesh Ambani, the business honcho who was accompanied by his wife, Nita Ambani, who wrote “India go World Cup 2011”.

An interesting comment came from Union Minister Praful Patel, who while appreciating the PCA for hosting hundreds of charged fans without much trouble, said managing the big event and that too with so many VVIPs and VIPs had been commendable.

“It is a historic moment for Punjabis and the PCA in particular. We are weighed down by thrilling comments of the visitors,” said PCA spokesperson Sushil Kapoor.

Appearing to be careful about his words at the beginning of the match, Pakistan Cricket Board chairman Ijaz Butt was terse in saying “Lovely day for a good game”. His counterpart, Shashank Manohar, chairman, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), wrote that he had great hopes from the Indian squad.

Bollywood star Aamir Khan wrote “Best wishes!”

Business tycoon and Member of Parliament Vijay Mallya seemed totally bowled over by the game as he wrote: “My finest and most exciting cricketing experience at a wonderful stadium”.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and his wife Sunanda, too, were all praise for the stadium.

“What a wonderful occasion. Always wanted to come here at the PCA,” wrote Ness Wadia, another business tycoon.

Others who spared time to pen their comments were Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, Member of Parliament Anurag Thakur, Punjab Transport Minister Master Mohan Lal, Punjab former Congress minister Partap Singh Bajwa and International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Haroon Lorgat. 



Residents bear the brunt
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 31
The mouth-watering semifinal tie between India and Pakistan spelled misery for those living in the vicinity of the stadium as they once again had to go through the ordeal of facing inconvenience at the hands of the police and fans.

As the queues outside the stadium started to grow, fans started knocking at their doors, requesting them to keep their belongings that were not allowed inside the stadium.

“We kept waiting for the fans to turn up and collect their belongings until late in the night,” rued Amarjeet Singh, who lives a few metres from the stadium.

For Mohinder Kaur, a retired Punjab government employee, said it was like a day-long curfew for them. “Since I was unable to get the police pass, I preferred to stay indoor,” she said.

On the other hand, Rajpeet Kaur, who lives just next to gate No. 12 of the stadium, was lucky to get a police pass.

However, Arjun, who lives nearby in Phase X, said during the match the noise of music and fans hampered his studies.

Residents were also peeved at the presence of policemen all over the residential area. However, this time the police removed the barricading on the road soon after the match.

The garbage left by fans around the stadium was also being cleaned.



Suspension of 11 councillors
Oppn to approach admn against Mayor’s decision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Accusing MC Mayor Ravinder Pal Singh of flouting the MC Act by suspending all 11 opposition councillors from the House for a fortnight and backing out from his statement to make required amends during the mayoral election meeting held on January 1, the opposition councillors have decided to submit a representation to the UT Home Secretary, who is also the in charge of local affairs, tomorrow.

During the House meeting on March 29, the Mayor suspended the opposition councillors from the House for 15 days for unruly behaviour and misbehaving with the marshals.

Whereas, under the MC Act, the Mayor has powers to suspend a councillor under Section 62 (2) only if the latter indulges in a disorderly manner.

A warning has first to be issued to the councillor and if the councillor repeats the act again, he can be suspended for 15 days, states the Act. However, the councillors were suspended from the House without being issued a warning.

The opposition will also take up the issue of Mayor’s recommendation to UT Administrator Shiv Raj Patil to terminate two nominated councillors — Dr AP Sanwaria and Pallav Mukherjee — from the House for their involvement in local party politics.

The opposition councillors will impress upon the Secretary, local government, that there is no provision in the MC Act that empowers the Mayor to take any action against nominated councillors.

In the representation, the councillors will also highlight the backing out of the Mayor from his own statement given in the February House meeting that all editing demanded by the opposition councillors in the minutes of the mayoral election meeting will be incorporated.



Harbhajan visits Sohana gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 31
Soon after wining the semifinal match at the PCA Stadium, Harbhajan Singh accompanied by his sister Sandeep Kaur payed obeisance at Singh Shahidan Gurdwara, Sohana, around 1 am.

Due to security reasons, he was brought to the gurdwara in the vehicle of the Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police Gurmeet Singh.

Quoting Harbhajan, gurdwara president said the star promised to bring the entire team to pay obeisance at the gurdwara after winning the final.



Mohali MC budget: Not much development in sight
Increase in expenditure this year is less than Rs 3 cr
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 31
The Mohali Municipal Corporation has proposed a budget of Rs 44.64 crore for the year 2011-2012.

The proposed budget, which is 20 per cent higher than that of last year, will be sent to the secretary, department of local government, for approval.

The last year’s balance that has been carried forward is about Rs 4.50 crore. The corporation plans to spend Rs 32.51 crore on development works, including original and committed works. A sum of Rs 14.91 crore has been proposed as expenditure on establishment and Rs 1.66 crore has been proposed for contingency works.

Last year the council had proposed a sum of Rs 29.60 crore for development works. The increase in development expenditure this year is less than Rs 3 crore and as such not much development is expected from the local body once again.

Even though the council has been given the status of a corporation, nothing has so far been done to increase the revenue of the civic body.

The expenditure on establishment this year has gone up by over Rs 4 crore. Last year the amount spent on the staff was less than Rs 10.75 crore against Rs 14.91 crore proposed this year. The amount of Rs 1.66 crore proposed as contingency fund this year is slightly higher than the last year’s figure of Rs 1.50 crore. 



Removal of Turban
Arrest guilty cops: Religious bodies
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 31
The issue of removal of a Sikh agitator’s turban by an SHO of the Mohali police, following a cane charge during a recent dharna by the Rural Health Pharmacist Association, has snowballed into a major issue with a number of religious outfits today demanding the arrest of police officials responsible for hurting the religious sentiments of the community.

The incident took place on March 28 when agitating members of the association, while they were marching towards the PCA stadium, were cane-charged by the Mohali police.

Issuing a warning to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, the religious bodies, including the Youth Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani), Kalgidhar Jatha, Guru Asra Trust and the All-India Sikh Students Federation, while holding a rally at the Amb Sahib Gurdwara demanded a public apology from them and immediate arrest of the police officials.

Later, the agitators marched towards the Phase 7 traffic- light point in violation of Section 144 of the CrPC imposed near the Amb Sahib Gurdwara in Sector 62. Chaos prevailed on the road leading to Phase 7 as the agitators squatted on the road for over half an hour.



Soon, GMADA to have its own logo
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, March 31
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) will soon have its own logo and the best designer will be given a prize of Rs 2. 5 lakh.

Budding designers have been called to design the logo that matches with the vision and mission of the development authority.

As many as eight entries have already been received and the authorities are hoping to get at least 100. Entries received by April 15 will be considered for the contest. A committee is being constituted that will select the best design based on its originality and the representation of the authority’s vision and mission.

The GMADA authorities desire that the logo should work well in a variety of applications from stationery to digital media, clothing, outdoor banners, commemorative items, etc. The judging will be based on how it looks in colour and even in black and white.

Every participant has been allowed to submit one design. In case a separate design in Punjabi format is conceptualised, only then an additional design will be allowed. The designers will have to explain the rationale for the logo design, colour choice and tag line along with the entry form.

All the participants will also have to warrant that the designs submitted by them are the original works of the authorship, the use or possession of which by GMADA shall not infringe any right, title or interest of any party (including without limitation trademark, patent, copyright, moral rights, trade secrets or other proprietary rights).

The development authority, however, has reserved the right to modify the winning design of the competition. The winning design may not be the final GMADA logo.



Jarnail Singh retires

Chandigarh, March 31
Jarnail Singh, Additional Director, Punjab Information and Public Relations Department, today retired on superannuation after putting in 35 years of distinguished service. During his tenure, he worked in various capacities in Punjab and with the UT Administration. He worked with four successive CMs of Punjab for about nine years and also the Governor of Punjab for five years as Joint Director, Press. He also served the Chandigarh Administration for over 10 years.

Lauding the services of Jarnail Singh, Director, Information and Public Relations, Punjab, DS Mangat, described him an outstanding officer who always discharged his duties with utmost dedication, sincerity, honesty and professional commitment. He was given a warm send off by the Punjab Public Relations Officers' Association .— TNS



AIE centres take new leap
Will now impart special training to underprivileged children after admission
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Having realised the education dreams of over 15,000 underprivileged children till date, the Alternate Innovative Education centres bid an adieu to the city education scenario today.

Running under the aegis of Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan, these 199 odd centres which have for almost eight years served as preparatory schools for ‘non-school starters’ to get them into mainstream education, will now transform into special training centres, as specified under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act.

In addition to preparing underprivileged children for admission to schools under the EWS or RTE reservations, these centres will now provide post-admission special training to such children to bring them academically on a par with other students in a class.

“The AIE centres have helped us get many children in the 8-14 age group. As per directives of the RTE Act, we will now have centres with special training facilities. It will be more organised or will be like mini schools which will not function with educated teachers,” said DPI (S) Sandeep Hans.

While the department has decided to start these centres, it is yet to work out the modalities. Meanwhile, with the RTE specifying bachelor in education as the minimum qualification of a teacher at these training centres, over 50 volunteers were rendered jobless today as their contracts ended. While they demanded an extension, the department refused to do so. But it assured that teachers that it would try to adjust them as per their qualification.



841 walk away with degrees
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, March 31
MCM DAV College, Sector 36, held its 39th annual convocation today. The college has accomplished the rare feat of having 841 fresh graduates and postgraduates this year, of which 688 first division holders were awarded degrees on the occasion. 

Around 27 students received degrees in MA English, 33 in MA sociology, 222 in BA (honours), 214 in BA, 72 in BCom (honours), 58 in BCom, 49 in BCA, 47 in postgraduate diploma courses, 26 in BSc MFT and 93 in BSc (vocational, food science (medical and non-medical).

Geeta Bhukkal, education minister, Haryana, was the chief guest. Bhukkal announced a special grant of Rs 5 lakh to the college.

Principal Dr Puneet Bedi read out the annual report and highlighted the academic and co-curricular achievements of the college.



A glimmer of hope for slum kids
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
In a noble gesture, the Theatre Age Group today honoured around 20 slum kids studying in various city schools. These children have been promoted to the next class.

The theatre has been supporting these kids by helping them achieve their academic dreams.

Zulfiqar Khan, director of the group, said, “With the help of local residents, we have been trying to fulfil the dreams of these kids. Over the years, we have seen some of them achieving success, which has inspired us to carry on with our endeavour.” The group honoured students of classes VI, VII, VIII, IX and XI.



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