C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Fog hits rail, road traffic
Tribune News Service


  • Trains drivers asked to be on alert.

  • Buses and cars on highways move slowly. Thousands of daily passengers delayed.

  • Foggy conditions will continue.

  • Construction activity slows down.

  • Halwais and soup sellers do brisk business. 

Chandigarh, December 17
On the first foggy day of the winter, one of two flights to the city was cancelled, trains were running slow and road traffic was disrupted This also signalled the start of foggy conditions, an annual phenomena, in these parts of the country.

The Director of the local Meteorological Department, Mr S.C. Bhan, said foggy conditions were likely to continue. City residents woke up this morning to find a dense fog cover. The visibility was no more than a few metres in the morning. However, it improved by 10 am to 100 metres. The fog lifted around noon and had started re-settling by 4 pm. Fog normally lifts when the sun gets brighter and then re-settles as things get cooler, Met officials explained.

The Indian Airlines plane could not land in the city while Jet Airways managed to land its flight. Sources explain that the Indian Airlines plane is much bigger in size and it needs greater visibility. Instrument-aided landing facility does not exist at the local airport. 

Tips for safe driving

  • Yellow lights mounted on the vehicle at a height not more than one feet from the earth surface.

  • Cheaper option is to use yellew-coloured transparent paper available with stationery shops.

  • Keep lights on low beam.

  • High beam could lead to formation of wall-like feeling in front of the driver, hampering visibility.

  • Don’t close all windows of car. Leave a small space open. The same applies for the glass covering of the full face helmet.

  • To avoid moisture on the wind screen use heater , if available in the car.

  • Use emergency indicators, especially at night as this will enable others to see you.

  • The golden rule is to drive slow and closer to the edge of the road.

Even night landing facility is for the exclusive use of the Air Force and no commercial flights are allowed night-landing facilities.

The Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala Division, Mr Keshav Chandra said train drivers had been put on red alert and told the reduce speed for all trains. Depending upon the on-the-spot assessment of the driver, the speeds could be as slow as 30 km per hour or even slower, he added. Trains would depart at their usual timing but can be delayed en route, he said adding that this was a natural phenomena and they could do nothing about it.

Among the trains running late were the Shatabdi by about 30 minutes and the Sadbhavna Express (Chandigarh-Lucknow) by about three hours.

On highways vehicles moved slowly and inter-state buses ran behind schedule. Daily passengers who go to nearby towns for work or come from other places got delayed in reaching offices. Schoolchildren waited in dense fog for their school buses.

In the city, halwais making samosas and pakoras reported brisk sales. Hot gulab jamuns and gajrela were in demand. Roadside soup sellers also had a good day.

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

On the safety front, the use of yellow lights has been advocated by experts. The scientific reason is that water particles (fog) glow in a white light. The yellow light does not cause the glowing effect.


PU students suffer evaluation blues
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
A student of MA (English) at Panjab University was shocked to see 11 marks in one of the papers. She applied for re-evaluation. She knows through her “sources” that her marks have increased to 42. She had passed. She cannot do anything because she is not supposed to know her results before a formal declaration and her case has been referred to a third examiner.

Many more students belong to this category. Two more secured 23 and 22 marks in the original evaluation. In the re-evaluation they secured 57 and 44. The matter is pending with a third evaluator. They are waiting for no fault of theirs. A student said: “either the first or the second evaluator is wrong and what is the guarantee for the third evaluator’s marking”.

Nearly six months after the commencement of the current academic session, a sizeable number of results of undergraduate and post graduate classes for the previous session at the university and affiliated colleges are not yet declared.

Students dissatisfied with their original marks apply for re-evaluation. In the process if it is detected that the difference of marks between the first and second evaluator was more than 15 per cent, the case is referred to a third examiner.

A senior official of the examination branch said: “In case of a big difference in the two results (original and re-evaluation) the process will naturally take more time” but he admits that “ultimate sufferers are the students and for no fault of theirs”.

In MA (English) alone, more than 100 students applied for re-evaluation as a teacher of the university department had pointed out inconsistency in the evaluation. Students also staged a dharna. A student said even evaluators involved in marking where big differences existed should also be questioned.

A senior Examination Branch official said results of all major examinations had been declared. The university conducts examinations for over a lakh student each year so quoting odd cases of delay was not fair.

Dr Mukesh Arora, a fellow of the university Senate, who had put forward over 10 such cases this month said the claim of the Examination Branch that all results had been declared was unfounded. He gave examples of roll numbers 1130 of B Com I, 2114 of MA (Geography), 38321 and 40241 of MA (English) and 37296 and 36989 of MA II (Hindi), besides others, which lay pending.

He said the result of a candidate was declared after more than two years when the case was highlighted by him. Instead of the blame game, the university officials should sit together, accept the loopholes and make attempts to improve the system, he suggested.

A senior examination branch official said evaluation was a compulsory duty for university teachers and those of affiliated colleges.

This was officially communicated by the University Grants Commission and even the university Senate. “Despite, clear instructions, the examination branch was unable to find evaluators for papers. One set of examination papers have been returned by four evaluators. Is it our fault?”, he asked.

Mr Ashok Sachdev had pointed out in the Senate at least six cases showing glaring mistakes of the Examination Branch. He showed documents of a result card which was completely blank and result of economics of a student who appeared in English.

Principal Tarsem Bahia pointed out that the result of the additional paper in computer science started by nearly 10 colleges in the last academic year had not been declared by the university. “These are being declared tomorrow”, the university official added.


City hockey umpire for Olympics
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
International hockey umpire Satinder Sharma of Chandigarh will officiate in the men’s hockey tournament at the Athens Olympics to be held from August 13 to 29, 2004. He is the first hockey umpire from Chandigarh to have earned this distinction.

Satinder is among the 14 umpires selected for the prestigious event while three more will be selected after the men’s Olympic qualifying tournament to be held from March 2 to 13, 2004 in Madrid.

A State Bank of India (SBI) employee at Panjab University, Satinder has officiated in major international hockey tournaments, including the senior men’s World Cup held in Kuala Lumpur in February 2002, Champions Trophy held in Cologne in August 2002 and the Busan Asian Games in September 2002.

Satinder also officiated in the men’s junior World Cup at Hobart in October 2001, which was won by India. He also officiated in the Champions Challenge Hockey Tournament in Kuala Lumpur in December 2001.

A former student of Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, Chandigarh, Satinder is also on the world panel of the Federation International de Hockey (FIH).

Satinder will also officiate in the men’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Spain, next year.Back



Two thieves caught in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 17
Following a spate of daylight thefts in the city, it was a neighbour’s alertness which led the police achieve its first success in nabbing the criminals. The police caught two thieves red-handed in a Phase 3B2 residence in the evening today while they were busy ransacking the house.

The thieves who had been inside the house for over an hour before they were caught, were spotted in action by an alert neighbour, Mr Karnail Singh Sekhon, serving as an inspector in the Commando Complex here. At one point, Mr Sekhon also guarded the house, which had thieves inside, to prevent them from running away, while waiting for the police to arrive.

The thieves had reportedly entered the house sometime at dusk, while its owners were away to visit their relatives at Raiyya. The owners of the house who are still out of station have been informed.

Mr Karnail Singh told Chandigarh Tribune that his neighbour, Mr Sukhbir Singh who lives in house number 1396 with his wife had gone to visit his in-laws at Nijjer village, Raiyya, this morning at about 11am. ‘‘Me and my wife are both working and we were also out till 5 pm. When we returned, we heard strange sounds coming from inside the house. First we ignored these presuming that the family is back. But later when the sounds became more peculiar, I decided to check. I opened their main gate silently and peeped inside. Only one light was on in the house and I saw two cleanshave men inside a room going through the cupboards.’’

“I called the police immediately. In the meantime I took out a sword and decided to keep a watch outside the house till the police arrived. But the thieves had no idea as to what was happening outside. They were taken unawares, ’’he added.

More than 10 policemen reached the spot and surrounded the house. ‘‘They were posted at all possible exit points so as to ensure that the thieves are caught,’’ said Mr Karnail Singh.

By this time the whole neighbourhood and people from the market. had gathered.

‘‘The two had come inside from the back gate by breaking the lock and climbing the outer wall. There was a complete mess in the house with every cupboard broken and the goods of the house thrown around. They must have spent good two hours here. But nothing has been stolen,’’ added Mr Karnail Singh.

The police authorities could not be contacted to know the identity of the thieves.


Tribune Impact
Police removes ads from beat boxes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Chandigarh Police today started removing advertisements illegally displayed on beat boxes while the Municipal Corporation considered issuing notices to recover its fee leviable on these advertisements.

SSP Gaurav Yadav today instructed all DSPs and SHOs to get advertisements removed from the beat boxes in their respective areas as per an October 30 order of the Inspector General of Police.

The action has followed The Tribune yesterday pointing out that the advertisements displayed on beat boxes, parking sign boards and at other places were in violation of October 30 order of the IGP and the Advertisement Control Order. The report had also said the most of the advertisement booking companies had not paid any amount to the corporation.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Corporation today started a survey of beat boxes in Sectors 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29 and 30. and found out around 70 beat boxes with advertisements displayed on them.

An official spokesman of the corporation said the survey would be completed tomorrow and it had to be decided how to recover its fee from the advertisers who had been using the advertisement space, in some cases for years.

The spokesman was not in a position to tell if the notices would be issued to the police, sponsors, advertisement booking companies or the advertisers themselves.

The notices would be issued after the survey is completed through out the city. The survey, however, has not included advertisement displayed on pickets, parking boards and cones being used by the police.

The official spokesman of the corporation said on an average 50 square feet of space on a booth has been used for advertisement purpose and its fee would be around Rs 3700 per month per beat box.

He said it has to be recovered.

The survey of the MC found that between 40 and 80 square feet of space has been used for advertisement on each of the 70 booths surveyed today.

Reliance, Connect, PNB, LIC, Amartex, among others, had advertised on the beat boxes surveyed today.

Sources in the police said if the police were to provide so many booth boxes, parking boards, umbrellas for the police, it would have to spend a hefty amount and the Traffic Police would be the worst hit as it. An official in the MC said it may have to seize the beat boxes for violation of norms.


Stage set for liquidation of Punjab Recorders
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 17
The stage is set for the liquidation of Punjab Recorders Ltd. Mohali, a Rs 3.5-crore subsidiary of Punjab Infotech Limited, which formally closed down yesterday.

Following the voluntary retirement and the retrenchment of all its employees, the basic hurdle in the process of winding up of the company has now been overcome. The hundred odd employees of the company, majority of them aged between 40 to 45 years, have been rendered jobless and there seems to be no chance of the company’s revival.

Other than a loss in terms of jobs, with the closing down of this company, the state has also lost its virtual monopoly in north India in the manufacture of certain components of T-72 defence tanks of which orders worth Rs 4 crore are said to be still pending with the company.

Located at B-99, Phase-VIII Industrial Area here, Punjab Recorders was established  in 1977 as a subsidiary of Punjab State Electronics Development and Production Corporation Limited, with the objective of manufacturing defence products.                  

The report submitted by the disinvestment commission had noted that since the company manufactures defence equipment, it gets assured order from the Ministry of Defence. “However, the yearly turnover of the company is very low at Rs 2.70 crore. It generated a nominal profit of Rs 3.84 lakh and its net worth stood totally eroded on account of accumulated losses of Rs 97.51 lakh. The company has no viable plans. There is, therefore, no chance of the revival of this company.”

Even the management’s viewpoint noted by the commission had said it was the single source supplier of certain components for the T-72 main battle tanks. “The Defence will also be deprived of services and spares if the company is closed down.”

However the commission’s appraisal of the management’s viewpoint noted that the past performance of the company with a marginal profit under protective environment is no guarantee of its ability to cope with future competition in the market. ‘The commission, therefore, recommended that the staff of the company should be immediately given VRS or retrenchment compensation by Punjab Infotech Limited and the High Court should be approached for the appointment of a liquidator to wind up the company.

Mr Rajinder Singh, general secretary, the Punjab Recorders Workers Union, lamented that the company had still not paid salary to the employees for the past one year. “The MD’s salary had been doubled. But we have still not got our provident fund. The hush-hush manner in which the whole thing has been done raises doubts about the transparency claims made by the Disinvestment Commission.” he said. The MLA, Kharar and Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, had also recommended a vigilance probe into allegations of administrative and financial irregularities by Mr Virinder Singh, MD of the company.


PGI’s apex body ratifies Sharma’s suspension
Tribune News Services

Chandigarh, December 17
The PGI’s Institute Body, headed by the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, today ratified the earlier decision taken by Mrs Sushma Swaraj to place under suspension the PGI Director Prof S.K. Sharma, who is already facing an inquiry.

The Institute Body meeting was chaired by the Health Minister in New Delhi today. Sources in the Health Ministry said the meeting of the institute’s apex body was specially convened to take a decision on Prof Sharma’s suspension, ordered by Mrs Sushma Swaraj earlier.

Prof Sharma, had moved court against the decision of the Minister, stating that she in her capacity as President of the Institute had no jurisdiction to pass the order for placing him under suspension. It was on December 11 that the Punjab and Haryana Court had granted a stay on his suspension.

“Since Prof Sharma, had taken the plea that it was only the Institute Body (IB) which was competent to order his suspension, the IB unanimously decided to ratify the decision of his suspension taken by the Minister earlier,” said an IB member.

Apart from deciding the issue of Prof Sharma’s suspension, the status report of the inquiry being conducted against him was also discussed. “A lot of facts have already been collected by the three-member committee, headed by the the Director-General, Health Services, Dr S.P. Aggarwal, but the inquiry is yet to be completed,” informed another IB member.

It was on September 29 that the IB, had ordered an inquiry against Prof Sharma, while directing him to proceed on leave till the inquiry was complete within three months.

It was alleged that Prof Sharma had not followed rules while appointing one of his relatives as a Junior Engineer in the Engineering wing at PGI.

The IB had ordered the inquiry against Prof Sharma after the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC) had recommended that penal action be taken against Prof Sharma for not following the rules in the appointment of a junior engineer.

Apart from taking a decision on the suspension of Prof Sharma, the IB authorised the Health Minister to nominate the members to various bodies like the Governing Body, Standing Finance Committee, Standing Academic Committee, Standing Estates Committee. “Since it is a tradition that the Minister nominated members to various institute bodies, the IB has left the decision to Mrs Sushma Swaraj,” said sources in the Ministry.

The new members nominated to the IB include the AIIMS Director, Prof Venugopal, the SGPGI Director, Prof Kartar Singh, Dr D. Nagraj, Director and Vice-Chancellor, NIMHANS Bangalore, Dr H.L. Goswami, Principal and Dean Government Medical College, Jammu, Dr R.N. Salham, MS, Safdarjung Hospital, Dr R.R. Chaudhary, former Dean, PGI, Mr V.P. Chatterjee, Department of Biological Chemistry, Indian Association of Sciences, Kolkata, Dr S.U. Ahmed, Director, North Eastern Institute of Health Medical Sciences, Shillong, and Dr Tripta Dutta, Delhi.


Principal censured in slapping case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The UT Education Department censured the Principal of Government Model High School, Sector 28, here today for slapping a Class X student of the school during the morning assembly.

The department gave a written warning to the Principal, Mr Subhash Aggarwal, to be careful in future. The action by the department is based on the enquiry reported submitted by the District Education Officer, Ms Rajesh Chaudhary, which was submitted to the DPI (Schools), Mr D.S. Mangat, last week.

Mr Aggarwal had slapped Parul Sharma during the assembly for remaining absent from school during a special class in mathematics. He later claimed that he had done so in a fit of anger after the girl’s father misbehaved with him.

After the intervention of the department and the teachers’ union of government schools, the two parties had arrived at a compromise according to which the Principal apologised to the girl in the presence of the DEO.


NSS project empowers Janata Colony women
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
“Pragati” is progressing with every NSS camp of Punjab Engineering College, making more pickle, generating greater funds and empowering illiterate women of Janata Colony.

Started as an experiment under the aegis of the NSS unit of the college with a view to make women of their adopted colony self-reliant in June this year, the popularity of the project is growing with every passing season with more women coming forward to join the project.

The group comprising seven women from the colony, had started off with four women. This self-help group is presently involved in making mixed vegetable pickle under the supervision of the NSS officers in charge and with the contribution and involvement of the volunteers.

Happiness is writ large on the faces of these women gainfully employed at the college. “It has helped me supplement my family’s income. With three days of work, I earn over Rs 700 which means a lot to my family. I am glad we are getting more and more orders for the pickle,” says Shanti, one of the women involved in the project.

Paid at a rate of Rs 5 per kg, these women were very keen on the assignment.” As soon as the volunteers floated this project, I opted for it since it gives dignity of labour and brings in money without any investment. This being a no-profit-no loss group, the entire earnings are distributed among us after deduction of the cost of raw material,” informs Maya Devi.

While 500 kg of mango pickle was made in the summer months, the quantity has been doubled to 1000 kg with the group having got orders much in advance of “their” pickle season. “Right after the successful marketing of the first consignment of pickle, orders began pouring in. We don’t want any bulk purchases of the pickle but want to spread it in shops all over the city. We are combining their skill and our resources to bring out a hygienic product,” says Aseem Kakkar one of the volunteers.

While the students are involved in buying the raw material and marketing the finished product, teams of volunteers are working with the colony women in cutting, washing, mixing of vegetables and preparing the pickle, ensuring that cleanliness is maintained through the entire process.

The finances for the scheme of micro-credit are coming from the Rs 1 lakh given to the NSS unit by the Commonwealth Youth Credit Initiative (CYCI). Of this, nearly Rs 75,000 has been given to the people of the colony for opening STD booths, running stitching centres and making pickle.

“We took cue from the papad industry of Gujarat and thought of trying it out in the city. The response has been amasing, with the pickle-making project attracting maximum orders. Besides, our core team of 100 volunteers is busy identifying such potential entrepreneurs to link them with viable projects,” explains Dr ML Gupta, Officer Incharge of NSS, PEC.

He adds that the colony residents were eager to join the project since their association with the colony dates back to 14 years when the NSS volunteers first began work there.


Bicycle patrolling loses steam
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The much-hyped Chandigarh police tourist support initiative seems to be losing steam with the bicycle-mounted patrolling policemen having to do with non-functional headlights and hooters while on patrol.

Even the special uniform designed for them on the pattern of the British Police does not seem to be in use. Hooters and headlights fitted on these cycles had not been working for months, a policeman said. The situation becomes difficult when streetlights on the road leading to the Golf Course do not work. He said the street lights on this road generally did not work. At this the policemen have to be content with a torch. The dynamos of the cycles have started damaging tyres and do not work properly.

The uniform provided in February, 2002, was not being used as it was not fit for the summer and no alternative for the hot weather had been provided by the authorities, the policemen said.

There also seems to be a shortage of patrolling staff. The number of personnel patrolling the area between 5 am and 10 pm has been reduced from six to four. The policemen on patrol duty have a task of checking stairs and six parking lots apart from covering a stretch of three km up to Panchkula.

However, the police administration has now approved the overhauling of these cycles. The repair is likely to be completed in couple of days.

A policeman said the cycles had made their task easier and health better. The 3-km stretch could be covered in 10 minutes now, he said.

Those posted at the police post here generally get calls asking them to look for a person who had threatened his or her family to commit suicide.

Apart from keeping an eye on bad elements, the personnel posted here also keep a watch on depressed persons.

The patrolling staff said their presence had been able to instill a sense of security among men and women.


Pick up alluring bells, candles and stars for the bash

Your eager hands have already picked up nice stockings and toys to fill them up. You have also soaked raisins in rum for baking that soft and fluffy cake without using eggs. The driver has also been asked to bring home the Christmas tree. But you still do not know how to decorate the branches and make other arrangements for the grand Christmas bash you wish to throw on December 25.

Well, you can begin with decorating the house. You can go in for evergreens — plants that do not shed their leaves even in winters. Or else, hang wreaths of holly on the front door. In case you pick up garlands of holly, ivy and fir, remember to hang them indoors.

Bunches of mistletoe can also be purchased from card and gift shops all over the city. You can hang them above the doorways after paying anything between Rs 250 and Rs 450 for the bunches. “Almost all the card and gift shops are selling two to three bunches everyday,” says Ms Raman, owner of a gift shop in Sector 11. Also, do not forget to buy cassettes and CDs of Christmas carols.

Just in case you have not ordered a Christmas tree, go to the market and choose the size according to your need, available space and budget. You can buy a tree as high as nine feet. It is available for Rs 3500. The smaller trees are comparatively inexpensive. A two feet high tree can be had for anything between Rs 400 and Rs 900.

After purchasing the tree, buy decorations. Glittering bells adorned with sparkling stars from China are available for Rs 30 each. Alluring bells that actually ring can also be had after pulling the same amount from your wallet. You can also pick up stars, tiny drums, even candles.

“Lighting is a critical part of decorating your tree,” Ms Raman adds. “For that designer effect, you should add as many lights as you can. Some residents simply toss two to three light strings loosely around the tree, but that is just not enough.”

For creating the effect you see in the magazines, you will need a string of 100 lights per foot of tree. “Buy six strings of 100 lights each if you have purchased a six-feet high tree,” Ms Raman asserts. “The strings are not very expensive. You can buy a string for just Rs 150. They can be used for three to four years, even on Divali and other occasions.”

If your tree is over five feet tall, it is a good idea to get a tree cord. “These handy items are readily available in the market,” says Sector 35-based event manager Dinesh Kumar. “They are green and have sets of plug-ins along the cord.”

The lights, he adds, “will work better if you buy them bundled in small boxes, rather than on plastic racks. Often the wires break or bulbs are pulled out when removed from the rack”.

On Christmas eve, hang up the stockings — old sock, even pillow cases — at the foot of the bed for Father Christmas or Santa Claus to fill them with presents. Mr Kumar adds, “Christmas is both a secular and a religious holiday. Like most families, you too can attend midnight service at church on Christmas Eve or celebrate the occasion in the church on the Christmas morning.” OC


16 structures demolished

Panchkula, December 17
Coming heavily on encroachments by shopkeepers and vendors, the Haryana Urban Development Authorities demolished 16 temporary establishments in Sector 16 market here today. During the anti-encroachment drive, headed by Anirudh Sharma, EO, goods displayed by the shopkeepers in verandahs and other open spaces outside their shops in the market were removed. OC


In-laws held in dowry case
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, December 17
Following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the police today rounded up three members of a family residing in Preet Nagar Colony, here, involved in a dowry case. The trio, including husband of the complainant, have been booked under Sections 406, 498-A and 506 of the Indian Penal Code.

The three — Dinesh Kumar Bhardwaj, his father Ravinder Kumar and mother Urmila — have been booked second time in this case on the complaint of Dinesh’s wife, Mrs Sunita Bhardwaj.

They have been booked by the police after the high court ordered the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Patiala, to take a serious note of her complaint.

In her complaint to the SSP, Mrs Bhardwaj, a resident of house no. 490, Sector 4, Panchkula, alleged that her husband and in-laws started pressurising her to demand a Maruti car and a flat from her parents soon after her marriage with Dinesh in June 2002.

She also alleged that her in-laws and husband also harassed her. She was beaten up in November last year for not fulfilling their demands, the complaint states. The three were booked under Sections 498-A and 406 of the Indian Penal Code and a FIR was registered against them with Lohgarh police post on December 1, last year.

The police had arrested her husband who later was released on bail by a Rajpura court. Later, the case was sorted out after a compromise was reached between parents of the girl and her in-laws and the FIR against the three was also cancelled.

In January, the couple started a new life but after spending a couple of months together, Dinesh and his parents again started harassing her following which Sunita shifted to her father house in Panchkula.

The police has also recovered some goods gifted to Sunita by her parents. 

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