C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Coldest Christmas in 6 years
Tribune News Service

Devotees light candles at the Sector 19 church to celebrate Christmas in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
Devotees light candles at the Sector 19 church to celebrate Christmas in Chandigarh on Tuesday. Tribune photo: pradeep tewari

Chandigarh, December 25
The city celebrated the coldest Christmas in the last 6 years today with the maximum temperature recorded at 11.1 degrees Celsius. The records of the Met Department revealed that the maximum temperature was 11.1 degrees Celsius today while the minimum temperature was recorded at 7.5 degrees Celsius.

The coldest day of the month so far is December 22 on which the maximum temperature was recorded at 10.3 degrees Celsius, the lowest in the last five years.

Director of the Met Department Surinder Pal Singh said the foggy conditions were likely to continue in the next 48 hours.

Tips for safe driving
Yellow lights should be mounted on a vehicle at a height of not more than one foot from road
Cheaper option is to use transparent yellow paper on lights
Drive at low beam
High beam could lead to the formation of a wall-like screen in front of vehicle, hampering visibility
Don’t close all the windows completely. Leave a small space open. The same applies to the glass coverings of full-faced helmets.
To avoid moisture on the wind screen, use heater
Use emergency indicators, especially at night as this will enable others to spot your vehicle easily
The golden rule is to drive slowly closer to the edge of road

The city residents woke up to a foggy morning today with visibility reduced to a few metres. However, it improved to 100 metres by 10 am. Fog normally clears when the sun gets brighter and then resettles as weather gets colder, the Met official explained.

He said the chances of improvement in the foggy conditions were expected by December 28 as the western disturbances in the area would ease by then.

Meanwhile, owing to extreme cold weather, shops making ‘samosas’ and ‘pakoras’ reported a brisk business. Hot ‘gulab jamuns’ and ‘gajrela’ were much in demand. Roadside soup stalls had a good day.

Construction activities will slow down in the coming few days as labourers cannot work to their full potential and the settling of concrete takes more time.

On the safety front, the use of yellow lights on vehicles has been advocated by experts. The scientific reason behind its use is water vapours in fog glow in white light while yellow light does not cause the glowing effect on these.



Trains delayed, flights grounded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
A thick layer of fog, which engulfed the tricity region, especially during the morning hours, affected normal life today. Transportation was badly affected. All the 16 flights, which take off from the Chandigarh domestic airport, were cancelled due to poor visibility. Many trains were delayed by two or four hours while the long-route trains were delayed indefinitely due to the foggy weather.

Air traffic was disrupted due to poor visibility conditions. No flight could land at the airport. Senior officials said for the past three days, the visibility conditions at the airport had not been up to the set air traffic norms, forcing the authorities not to allow landing and take-offs at the domestic airport.

Sources stated that there were at least 16 scheduled flights to Delhi, Mumbai and other destinations, which could not take off today amid dense fog. The officials said if there was no improvement in the visibility conditions, then the flights would be cancelled tomorrow as well.

Meanwhile, all the trains were running behind schedule. The Howrah Kalka Mail had not left the station till the filing of this report. Its schedule time to leave the station is 3:05 am. All the other trains were delayed by two or four hours. The morning Shatabdi, Himalayan Queen and Unchahar Express were delayed by two hours. On highways, vehicles moved slowly and inter-state buses were running behind schedule. Motorists moved with their headlights on in the morning hours.



Who says PU is cash-strapped
Rs 18.5 lakh spent on renovation of VC’s house
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
Panjab University, which till a few years ago was going through a financial crunch, seems to have filled its coffers. It is evident from the fact that the university has spent over Rs 18.50 lakh on the makeover of the Vice-Chancellor’s (VC) residence, H-1, after former VC vacated the official residence situated on the PU campus. Interestingly, the university has spent a huge amount on interior decoration at the house with Rs 3.41 lakh spent on modular kitchen, Rs 1.74 lakh on curtains and carpets and Rs 2.68 lakh on a sofa set, bed boxes and a centre table, etc.

Information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act has revealed that around Rs 18.50 lakh has been spent on the interior and exterior makeover of the Vice-Chancellor’s residence after the former Vice-Chancellor, RC Sobti, left the university.

Soon after Sobti vacated the house in August, the university started the renovation of the house for the new Vice-Chancellor, Arun Grover, who had assumed charge on July 22.

While the university spent Rs 2.07 lakh on the furnishing of the house, around Rs 1.25 lakh has been spent on paint, repair of roofs and the replacement of wooden setup. The interior decoration of the house cost the university around Rs 7.84 lakh, which included the money spent on a modular kitchen and wooden cabinets, curtains and carpets, a sofa set, bed boxes, a centre table and a dining set, etc.

The amount spent on electrical fittings at the residence is Rs 7.26 lakh. The amount includes the purchase, repair and fitting of wires, switches, etc. Interestingly, while the university is spending such a huge amount on the VC’s residence, the houses allotted to the non-teaching staff on the PU campus are crying for attention. Deepak Kaushik, president of the Panjab University Staff Association (PUSA) said the exterior of the houses allotted to the non-teaching employees have not been painted for the past over 10 years and no regular maintenance of these houses is carried out. “The roofs of a majority of the houses leak during the rainy season. For the last many years, we have been requesting the PU authorities for the renovation of the houses, but nothing has been done so far,” Kaushik said.



Cong MLA elusive
Panchkula police’s plans to nab him in Shimla fail; house raided in Baddi
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 25
The hopes of the Panchkula police to arrest Congress MLA Ram Kumar Chaudhary, wanted in a murder case, were dashed for the second time today when the MLA did not turn up at Himachal Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh’s swearing-in.

The ceremony took place on the Ridge, Shimla, where the newly elected MLAs of Himachal Pradesh and other dignitaries were also present. Earlier, the Panchkula police had expected Chaudhary’s presence at a meeting of the Congress Legislature party (CLP) on December 22 but he did not turn up there as well.

Meanwhile, the Panchkula police raided Chaudhary’s house in Baddi in the evening today, but he was not present there.

“We had kept a close watch on today’s ceremony but Chaudhary did not turn up there. In any case, we will arrest him soon,” said Assistant Commissioner of police (ACP) Virender Sangwan.

Yesterday, the MLA filed a bail application in a local court, the decision on which has been kept for December 26. A large police force, comprising the Panchkula police, in collaboration with the Himachal Pradesh police, had sealed all the routes to avoid Chaudhary’s escape from Shimla.

On Friday, the Panchkula police had secured arrest warrants against Chaudhary and his three accomplices, Dharampal, Gurmeet and Paramjeet after the inclusion of their names under section 302 (murder) in the Jyoti murder case. Jyoti was found murdered near Sector 21, Panchkula, on November 22. She was reportedly handling Chaudhary’s financial matters during elections. While Gumeet and Dharampal are Chaudhary’s nephews, Paramjeet is his friend. The SIM card dealer, Ashish Kumar, who sold SIM cards to the accused on the basis of fake documents was also arrested.

On Thursday, Chaudhary won elections from the Doon constituency in Himachal Pradesh on the Congress ticket. Buti Ram, Jyoti’s father, had alleged threat to his life, saying that he was offered Rs 50 lakh to settle the case near Hoshiarpur. When he refused to accept the offer, he was threatened that he would be killed.


delhi gang rape
Protesting PU students detained
Were trying to cross barricades outside Governor’s house; later released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
Expressing their resentment against the recent Delhi gang rape case, the students of Panjab University staged a protest outside the Punjab Raj Bhavan, demanding justice for the victim.

The protest march began from the Student Centre at Panjab University with students joining in the march towards Raj Bhavan. As soon the demonstrators reached Matka Chowk, they were stopped by the police; however, they were later permitted to head further under the police vigil.

During the protest, the students also engaged in a tussle with the police personnel while trying to move closer to Raj Bhavan. The students wanted to meet the Governor and submit to him a memorandum demanding immediate action against all the gang rape accused.

When the students refused to move back, the police detained the protestors under preventive measures. Agitated over the police action, the students tried to cross the barricades near the Governor’s house.

While many students preferred to withdraw from the protest, the remaining were taken to the Sector 3 police station.

Students also staged a peaceful demonstration at Sukhna Lake before moving to Raj Bhawan.

Navneet, one of the protestors, said that they just wanted to hand over the memorandum to Governor Shivraj Patil; however, the police forcefully detained the protestors.



Tribune impact
Finally, policewomen attending calls to tricity helplines sound helpful
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula/Chandigarh, December 25
Two days after Chandigarh Tribune reported about the ineffectiveness of the women helplines in the tricity, today the police personnel manning these helplines looked more prompt and active in providing help when this correspondent gave them a call posing as a victim of eve-teasing.

Two days ago when this correspondent had make a similar call to the Chandigarh-based helpline reporting that some youths had passed lewd comments at her, the policewoman had said: “When someone just passes comments at you, it is not eve-teasing. It happens only when someone touches you.”

The policewomen at the Panchkula-based helpline, meanwhile, had asked the correspondent to call on the PCR number (100) instead. When asked if any female police personnel would be available there, she told the correspondent to manage with the policemen.

On receiving a similar call, the policewoman at the Mohali-based helpline had told her to ask the youths, “Aapko kya problem hai? Girlfriends aise zabardasti nai banti. (What is your problem? Girls cannot be wooed like this.)”

However, when the same correspondent called these helplines, the policewomen sang a different tune.

“You let us know the time when you pass through that route 20 minutes in advance and a PCR vehicle will reach there,” said the policemen attending the calls at Panchkula women helpline (no 1091) this afternoon. She further said courteously that the call could be made directly to them instead of the PCR number.

When this correspondent made a call to the PCR (no 2760851) in Chandigarh, which was further forwarded to the helpline, the policewoman said: “As soon as you sense any problem, we will send a PCR vehicle and the culprits will be nabbed.”

The call made on Mohali PCR (no 2210358) this evening, which was forwarded to a policewoman, was also replied courteously. “Inform us 10 minutes in advance and a PCR vehicle, with female police personnel as well, will reach the spot.”

Senior police officials in the tricity, meanwhile, told this correspondent that action will be taken against the policewomen who replied the calls on the first day.

Panchkula Deputy Commissioner of Police Parul Kush said: “An inquiry has been ordered to ACP (Headquarters) after the first report featured in the newspaper, and action will be taken against whoever spoke like that.”

UT SSP (Operations) RS Ghumman, said: “We are in the process of taking a suitable action. We are looking for the one who was on duty that day. As there was a Christmas holiday, it will take another day."

Mohali SP (City) Swarandeep Singh, said: “We are training the female police personnel to be courteous and helpful, so that victims of eve-teasing may feel comfortable.”



Women unsafe, Panchkula police caught napping
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 25
While protests are being staged across the nation following the Delhi gang rape case, making the governments and local administrations step up vigil, the Panchkula police was caught napping with not single police personnel found on duty at any of the “risk” points when this correspondent surveyed the city on two consecutive nights.

Around 9.15 pm yesterday as well as day before yesterday, the correspondent found no police personnel near the Sector 8 liquor vend (despite having a PCR shed), Bella Vista roundabout in Sector 2, Sector 5 bus stop, girls’ college at Sector 14, Sector 11 market, Tank Chowk, and Sector 10 bus stop.

The Panchkula Deputy Commissioner of Police Parul Kush said, “The policemen keep patrolling the area. They may not be present at that particular point. We do keep a check on the movement of the police personnel. She further added, “Panchkula is not having a large police force as compared to Chandigarh, but still the best is being done to curb crime.”

Women and girls who have to pass these ‘risk’ points, meanwhile, feel unsafe in absence of any police personnel.

“I come from office by bus and have to walk to the Sector 5 bus stop to take an auto-rickshaw. Only I know how unsafe it is to wait for an auto-rickshaw here,” said a 26-year-old resident of Sector 25.

She further added, “At least a PCR vehicle should be there at such sensitive places, so that the miscreants think twice before passing any lewd remarks at women.”

A 24-year-old girl, who works as a salesgirl at a shop in Sector 7 said, “I don’t feel safe even when I am with a friend. I have to cross a liquor vend daily and the drunk men pass lewd comments. Reaching home safely every night is a challenge in itself for me.”

“If not around the clock, at least during the evening hours, the PCR vehicles can be stationed at such points. After the Delhi gang rape case, the police should have taken stock of the situation,” said another girl, a resident of Sector 15.



secretary-level appointments
UT Admn seeks panel of IAS officers from Haryana govt
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
The UT Administration has initiated the process to fill the two secretary-level posts, which were recently sanctioned by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. To fill one of the posts, the Administration has sought the panel of IAS officers eligible for the appointment from the Haryana government.

An official of the UT Administration said that UT Adviser KK Sharma had written a letter to the Chief Secretary of Haryana asking him to submit the panel of IAS officers for the secretary-level post.

Initially, the UT Administration had proposed to fill these two secretary-level posts with officers from the UT cadre, but Punjab and Haryana had opposed the move. Thereafter, the UT Administration decided to fill these posts with IAS officers from Punjab and Haryana cadres.

The MHA had sanctioned the two posts — one post of the additional secretary and another of the additional deputy commissioner — recently after analysing the requirements of the UT Administration. Even the Third Finance Commission in its report had stressed on the need for more secretary-level posts.

At present, Home Secretary and Deputy Commissioner’s posts are reserved for Haryana cadre IAS officers, whereas posts of Finance Secretary, MD CITCO, Special Secretary (Finance) and Municipal Corporation Commissioner are with the Punjab-cadre IAS officers.

The UT cadre officers are holding the posts of Adviser, Chandigarh Housing Board Chairman and Additional Secretary (Home).



Congress MLA opposes imposition of property tax in Mohali

Mohali, December 25
Congress MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu has opposed the imposition of property tax in Mohali. The MLA said he would reject it at the zoning committee meeting scheduled for January 3, 2013.

He said a meeting had been called to discuss the zoning plan of the area falling under the Mohali Municipal Corporation for imposing the property tax. He, along with MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, would strongly oppose the anti-people decision of the government.

The government wanted to use the funds collected through property tax for narrow political interests, he added.

Sidhu said the property tax was being imposed even on vacant plots for which non-construction fee was already being collected by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA). Owners of vacant plots would thereby be hit two-fold by the SAD-BJP government in the state.

He said when there was no property tax levied in Chandigarh, imposing it in Mohali, which was developed on the same lines, would be totally unjustified.

He said by purchasing high-cost land of farmers at rock-bottom prices through the GMADA, the government was spending crores of rupees earned this way on holding ‘sangat darshan’ in districts like Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar instead of using it on the development of Mohali.

The MLA said if the government failed to scrap the anti-people policies, he would be compelled to hold a protest, along with various religious, social public welfare bodies of the town.



Easing traffic flow
GMADA to construct 170-km service lanes
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 25
To decongest the traffic flow on the national highways and check the illegal openings on them, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is all set to construct 170.45-km-long service lanes along the highways passing within its area.

Under the project of about Rs 320 crore, service lanes would be constructed along NH-21 (61-km stretch from Kharar to Nangal), NH-22 (33-km stretch from Zirakpur to Ambala), NH-64 (30.20-km stretch from Zirakpur-Banur to Rajpura), NH-95 (42.25-km stretch from Kharar to Ludhiana (only GMADA area)) and NH-72 (4-km stretch from Ambala to GMADA area).

Giving details, AK Sinha, Chief Administrator of GMADA, said the survey work of the project was entrusted to a Chandigarh-based company last month. It had almost completed the survey work.

“The project will be completed in two phases. In the first phase, we will construct a total of 26.5-km-long stretch (15.3-km from Kharar to Kurali and 11.2-km from Zirakpur to Dera Bassi). The rest of the work will be done in the second phase. As the survey of the area has been completed now, we will begin land acquisition process here soon,” said Sinha.

For the first phase of the project, a total of 157.15 acres of land was required, whereas for the entire project, the total chunk of the land needed was 1,002.97 acres.

On being asked about the deadline of the project, Sinha said there was no set deadline but the project would be completed on a priority basis.

Notably, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently issued directions to close the illegal openings on national highways with immediate effect.

“With the construction of the service lanes, the nuisance will be checked effectively,” said Sinha.



Rare surgery performed at Mohali hospital
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 25
A team of doctors from Indus Super-Specialty Hospital claimed to have successfully performed a rare maxillofacial surgery on a 78-year-old patient, Shiv Kumar.

Giving details, Dr Ritika Khanna and Dr Simer Kaaur said the patient came to the hospital in emergency after his support stick broke, which led his face to hit the downhill road with history of previous hematomas (blood clots) in brain and partial paralysis.

“He suffered frontal bone communicated fracture with supra orbital and infra orbital bone fracture and nasal fractures. Immediate treatment and surgery was performed and open reduction and internal fixation was done,” said the doctors. They said the surgery took five hours.



Youth thrashed in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Harpreet Singh
Harpreet Singh

Mohali, December 25
A 23-year-old youth was thrashed by some unidentified persons at Phase V, Mohali, in the late hours today.

The victim, Harpreet Singh, who is an employee with DELL, was waiting for his friend near a gurdwara at Phase V when around five persons, who came in Sunny car, started thrashing him.The victim claimed that he was beaten up by hockey sticks. “They (the attackers) left me when they saw a PCR vehicle approaching them," he added. The police has impounded the car, which was left behind by the attackers. Meanwhile, Harpreet Singh was rushed to the local Civil Hospital where he received nine stitches on his head.



Woman commits suicide

Chandigarh, December 25
A 23-year-old newly married woman reportedly committed suicide by hanging herself from a ceiling fan at a servant quarter in Sector 10 today.

Deceased’s husband Anil told the police that his wife, Meena, was under stress since their marriage and never shared her feelings with him. No suicide note was found from the spot.

Police said she took this step while her husband was in the kitchen. The police rushed her to GMSH, Sector 16, where doctors declared her brought dead. — TNS



Christmas spirit wafts through tricity schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 25
A day filled with excitement and joy was witnessed at Guru Teg Bahadur Public School, Sector 15, as the students celebrated Christmas. The day started with carol singing followed by poems, dances, speeches and presentations on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The children presented many colourful items on the occasion.

CRB Public School

CRB Public School, Sector 7-B, celebrated Christmas with great enthusiasm. The school’s building and classes were decorated with buntings, balloons and lights. The students came attired in red and white dresses. Santa Claus arrived and distributed sweets among the children. On the occasion, school principal Sangeeta Mittal motivated the students to do kind deeds and be generous to the needy.

KBDAV School

The ambiance of KBDAV School, Sector 7, was set in a festive mood as 2,800 school students along with 400 Saral Ahsaas students celebrated Christmas. Christmas carols were sung on the occasion. The birth of Jesus Christ was presented through a drama.

Shishu Niketan School

Christmas day was celebrated with great pomp and show at Shishu Niketan Public School, Sector 43. Christmas carols were sung by the schoolchildren. A Christmas tree was decorated on the occasion. The children danced on the carol, “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”. Sweets and cakes were distributed among the children. The children also decorated their classrooms.

St Joseph’s School

A feeling of joy ran through the campus of St Joseph’s Senior Secondary School, Sector 44-D, as the students enjoyed the Christmas celebrations. A story on the birth of Christ, a self-composed poem on the spirit of Christmas and poems on forgiveness and sharing were recited by the students.

DAV Model School

Students of DAV Model School, Sector 15-A, celebrated Christmas with the children of the pre-primary classes. The students sang carols — “Joy to the World” and “Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer”. Devotional songs were also sung. The students presented a dance item. Sweety Bahl, a school teacher, explained the significance of Christmas to the children.

Bhavan Vidyalaya

Panchkula: The spirit of Christmas was celebrated by the students of Class I and II of Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 15. An inter-section fairy tale competition was held. The participants were attired in colourful dresses and delivered dialogues with confidence.

Satluj Public School

A special Christmas assembly was held at Satluj Public School, Sector 4. The celebrations began with the speeches on the life of Jesus Christ. The students sang carols and performed group dances. Santa Claus distributed sweets on the occasion. The special highlight of the day was a nine-feet-tall Christmas tree, which was decorated by the students.

Shemrock Smiles School

Shemrock Smiles Preparatory School, Mansa Devi Complex, celebrated Christmas with great fervour. The school campus was decorated with buntings, ornaments, stars and bells. A big Christmas tree was decorated on the occasion.

Hansraj Public School

Hansraj Public School, Sector 6, celebrated Christmas with great fervour. The school wore a festive look with all classrooms, corridors and display boards decorated on the theme of Christmas. A special assembly was held to mark the occasion. The children from pre-primary section presented a spectacular show. Young artistes presented speeches, Christmas carol, hymns and poems.

Hallmark Public School

Students of Hallmark Public School, Sector 15, celebrated Christmas. Students from senior classes shared food with the junior section students and played games with them. The teachers too danced on the occasion.

Gian Jyoti School

Mohali: The week-long Christmas celebrations ended at Gian Jyoti School, Phase II, yesterday. The entire school wore a red look with teachers as well as students dressed in the bright colour. A special assembly was organised at the school amphitheatre, which was decorated with bells, socks and an enormous Christmas tree.



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