C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


The rot in City Beautiful
* Councillors fear contractors * MC afraid of workers’ union * Officials want dual system to end
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

It stinks all the way

How the system works

The councillor of areas in which sanitation is privatised is required to give a certificate to the contractor at the end of every month. This report is taken into account while releasing the payment of the contractor.

A “satisfactory” report means payment is released without hassle.

An “unsatisfactory” report payment is withheld.

If no report is received from the councillor, it is assumed that the work of the contractor is satisfactory and payment is given. 

KamleshMayor, Kamlesh: We have forwarded the file to the Commissioner for action against those responsible for releasing the payment of contractors despite unsatisfactory reports by the Medical Officer Health. It only shows that the people in the Audit section are taking their work rather casually and don’t apply their minds to reports they receive.

MP SinghMC Commissioner, MP Singh: I have held a meeting of the sanitation contractors and asked them to adhere to the terms and conditions in their contract. Any laxity on their part would not be tolerated and we could terminate their contracts if the need arises. I have suggested that payments to contractors should be withheld according to the shortfall in the number of men employed.

Chander Mukhi SharmaChairman, Sanitation Committee, Chander Mukhi Sharma: The solution lies in outsourcing. In whichever wards the performance on the sanitation front is found wanting, we would be able to get the area cleaned by outsiders and would have the right to deduct the amount spent from the payment being made to the contractor. 

Chandigarh, July 4
The city is going to the dogs quite literally. Sanitary conditions are deteriorating every day with those entrusted with keeping the “City Beautiful” tag intact busy passing the buck. Councillors want power sans responsibility, officials are looking for scapegoats and, in this clamour for control, sanitation has become a casualty. It is virtually nobody’s baby.

Be it areas where sanitation is privatised or sectors managed by the Municipal Corporation, the story is the same wherever you go: mounds of garbage dot the city and its disposal doesn’t seem a priority at all.

With 300 metric tonnes of garbage to be disposed of, it stinks all the way. The work force of 1,900 men don’t seem to make a difference to cleanliness in the city.

Councillors, who have been accused of issuing “satisfactory” certificates to sanitation contractors despite insanitary conditions in their respective areas, claim, “If we don’t, we run the risk of being framed by the contractors. They can allege we have asked for bribe in lieu of a satisfactory report. It is that easy and everybody would believe them”.

If it is scare of fabricated cases that is keeping the councillors from discharging their duties judiciously, in corporation-managed sectors councillors and officials of the corporation are living in mortal fear of the workers’ union.

“We can’t afford to point out that sanitation is not taken care of. The MC employees are organised in a union and any action against non-performers can translate into threats of all kinds for us. There have been incidents of union members causing harm to complaining councillors. A police report in this regard is there to lend credence to this theory,” a councillor said.

A former Mayor of the MC, Mr Subhash Chawla, during whose term the concept of privatising sanitation was introduced, says, “The idea was to have a clean and green city. Our mission failed after the contractors employed fewer workers than was laid down in the contract to meet their costs and earn profit. Consequently, the door-to-door collection of garbage didn’t take off and things went haywire”.

Mr Gian Chand Gupta, also a former Mayor and BJP councillor, adds, “I was against the proposal of councillors issuing certificates to contractors. I believe all these are ‘corrupt practices’ introduced to meddle in the affairs of the government. This power should be withdrawn especially since the ‘satisfactory certificate’ of the councillor has hardly any value”.

Councillor Surinder Singh who has not sent his report for the past three months, said, “The councillor is between the devil and the deep sea. A satisfactory report to the contractor belies the ground reality while a truthful report can mean all kinds of bribery charges against us. We have nowhere to go and nobody to turn to. The contractor, anyway, gets his amount whether or not the report is received. The whole exercise is futile”.

Adding to this, Mr Balraj Singh, maintains, “I was not happy with the work of the contractor in my area and asked him to pull up his socks. He cleaned up the entire area to my satisfaction. He earned his certificate as far as I am concerned. However, I agree that the report should take into account the work done in the entire month rather than what meets the eye around the time that certificates are to be issued”.

The sanitation debate continues endlessly. No solutions are in sight whether a Congress-led corporation or BJP-headed corporation takes over the reins in the city. 



Don’t avoid knee surgery, advises expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Don’t shy away from surgery when bones are involved, especially knees, says one of India’s top knee replacement surgeon, Dr Ashok Rajgopal, who is credited with having successfully completed over 9700 arthroscopies and 3000 Total Knee Arthroplasties not only in India but also abroad.

“People in India tend to shy away from surgery”, he observed in an interaction with TNS here today. “This is quite understandable but in a large number of cases, surgery is the only solution. A delay will only worsen the condition because the damage to bone structure will continue. Hence, earlier the surgery, the better it will be for the patient”.

Dr Rajgopal says that there is no way to stop or reverse the knee problems which come with aging. Therefore, the research all over the world is to somehow slow down the damage. A new area of treatment being explored is the use of stem cells. But this is still at an experimental stage. But he was confident that in another decade and a half, genetic engineering will be widely used to control, if not totally eliminate the knee problem.

He also cautions that knee replacement surgery should not be undertaken at ordinary nursing homes. “Infection is the biggest nightmare for a knee surgeon. Therefore, it should be done only where all precautions to preclude the possibility of infection have been undertaken.

Dr Rajgopal also conducted a Continuous Medical Education(CME) programme total knee replacement at Fortis Heart Institute and Multi Speciality Hospital, Mohali which was attended by over 70 surgeons of Chandigarh and the surrounding towns. The highlight of the CME was a knee joint replacement surgery of Mrs Surjeet Kaur, a patient hailing from Moga, which was shown live on closed circuit TV at the hospital. He also briefed the delegates about the latest innovation in the field of knee joint replacement surgeries. Mr Daljeet Singh, CEO, Operations, Fortis Heart Institute, Mohali, Dr Alok Raj, Vice President, Projects Fortis, Noida, Dr Gurbir Singh, Medical Superintendent, Fortis Institute, Mohali, were among those who attended. According to Mr Daljeet Singh, Dr. Rajgopal who has recently joined Fortis, Noida, will head the Centre of Excellence in Orthopaedics.

According to Dr Rajgopal, knee problems occur as early as 30-35 years and the risk increases with age and more commonly develops in women over 40 who are five times more likely to have this problem than men. Most of the Osteo-Arthritis patients in India who seek knee replacement are in the advanced stage of the disease, with a high degree of deformity but treating such cases has its own research related advantages and the effects of the treatment is dramatic which changes the complete lifestyle of the patient.

There are many factors that can lend to this problem which can range from mild to very severe. Although age is, indeed, a risk factor, research has shown that knee problem is not an inevitable part of aging, and that a variety of factors like obesity, joint injuries due to sports, work related activity or accidents, sedentary lifestyle may lead to the disease. Research clearly shows that getting on a good strength and flexibility programmes can reduce the risk of the injury. Cardiovascular training in the form of cycling, running, swimming or machines improves endurances.



Verma, CM express grief 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Punjab Governor Justice O.P. Verma (retd) and Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today expressed profound grief and sorrow over the sad demise of 22 persons who were killed and 11 others injured in a bus mishap near Zira in Ferozepore district .

In separate condolence messages they have expressed their heartfelt sympathies with the members of the bereaved families and prayed to the Almighty to give strength and courage to bear this irreparable loss and grant peace to the departed souls.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister has directed the civil and police administration to tie-up with the health authorities to extend the best possible medical treatment to the injured, besides making adequate arrangements to hand over the bodies to next of kin at the respective destinations.

The district administration has been directed to provide an immediate relief of Rs 10,000 and Rs 2,500 for the deceased and injured, respectively.



24 Cadet Instructors to be recruited
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
The National Cadet Corps has launched a drive to overcome deficiencies of Girl Cadet Instructors (GCI) in the organisation, which has been affecting activities of girls' battalions.

According to NCC sources, 24 GCIs will be recruited over the next few months. Being an ex-NCC cadet and possessing the C-Certificate is mandatory requirement.

Sources said that the deficiency of GCIs in the NCC was significant. The Chandigarh NCC girls battalion, for instance has just one GCI against the authorised strength of three. Similar situation prevails in other girl's units.

"When girl cadets are sent on the camps or other outdoor training activities, they have to be accompanied by GCIs," an officer said. "We have lady associate NCC officers, but being regular teachers in schools or colleges, they have other commitments too. As a result, activities suffer," he added.

The NCC is also inducting more whole time lady officers (WTLO) and a separate cadre for such officers is coming up. it is significant to note that now only WTLOs are posted as administrative officers in girls' units. According to available information, 17 posts of WLTO in the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh NCC Directorates are being filled through departmental examinations while another 68 are being filled through direct 



My Budget

I don’t have high expectations from this Budget although it is being crafted by economists like Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Mr P. Chidambaram. Just one Budget is not enough to stem the rot that the country, particularly the youth, faces today. As a fresh computer engineer, I would obviously expect the Budget to suggest measures that are employment-centric.

The country has made rapid strides in the field of industry and industry-related infrastructure in the last decade or so. The so-called globalisation and the opening of the economy has by and large helped mega corporations to establish big projects. This has adversely affected small and first generation entrepreneurs. I would expect Mr Chidambaram to suggest ways and means for self-employment for educated youth. Providing soft loans through nationalised banks shall not serve this purpose. A method has to be evolved wherein the large pool of talent in this country is gainfully merged with the mainstream of industry and economy.

I would also expect some strong decisions for restricting the states in opening new professional colleges and curbing the menace of ‘paid seats’ in privately owned institutions. — Poorav Bhardwaj



“Sunday shopping”: admn, traders to meet on July 7
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Even as the impasse over the “Sunday shopping” in Sectors 17 and 22 continues, the Chandigarh Administration and traders are slated to meet on July 7 again to explore the possibility of “seven-day week” shopping concept.

Even in the wake of the lukewarm response from the shopkeepers, the top brass of the administration seems to be determined to go in for the “Sunday shopping” reportedly with a view to exploiting the tourism potential in the city. The convenience of general public, particularly the working couples, is being advanced as another reason for the implementation of the “Sunday shopping” notification.

In fact, at a recent meeting with the traders’ representatives, the administration officials, including the DC, Mr Arun Kumar, hinted that the administration wanted the shops to open in the two premier shopping centres on Sundays on the pattern of Karol Bagh in Delhi.. While urging the shopkeepers to opt for another “day off” in the week, the officials said the original notification could be amended to grant certain” concessions” to the traders.

It was mooted at the meeting that till the concept takes roots in the city, the shops could open on the second half of Sundays on a “trial basis". Similarly, the new working hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. instead of the current 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. were also discussed at the meeting.

However, the general secretary and spokes person for the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal(CBM), Mr Jagdish Pal Singh Kalra, argued that the shopkeepers and salespersons also needed a weekly off to fulfil their social commitments. Since a majority of the social functions are held on Sunday and government offices and educational institutions are also closed, this was the ideal day for the closing of the markets. In any case, shops selling the essential items were open on Sunday, he argued.

On the other hand, trade union leaders argued that the concept went against the labour laws which guaranteed a “day off “ in a week. It fact, the trade unions had already taken to the streets against the “Sunday shopping” concept.

In May this year, the administration had issued a notification for the implementation of “Sunday shopping” concept. It was later amended making the opening of shops on Sunday optional.

Dating back to 1994, the idea of “seven-day shopping” had an interesting beginning. In a letter to the Chandigarh Administration, the then Punjab Technical Education and Industrial Training Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had suggested that one of the markets in Sectors 17 and 22 should remain open on Sundays on the pattern of New Delhi’s Karol Bagh for the convenience for the general public.

The concept was virtually abandoned till the administration issued the notification allegedly without taking the traders and salespersons into confidence.



PWD staff warn government
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 4
Members of the Joint Action Committee of Engineers and Employees of Punjab PWD (B&R), today warned the Punjab government that in case any of the engineers arrested by the Vigilance Bureau suffered health problems, the state government would be responsible for it.

According to a press note issued by the convener of the JAC, Mr N.K. Aggarwal, the health of two of the arrested engineers was failing allegedly due to third degree methods being adopted by the police to extract information from them.

Members of the JAC alleged that the FIR lodged by the Vigilance Department was based on the record that had been prepared by a disgruntled employee of the bitumen carriage contractor. Mr Aggarwal added that many engineers who had not even been involved in the works carried out had been picked up by the police. In many cases the quantum of the work sanctioned was less than the bribe amount that has been shown in the record procured by the vigilance.

Members of the JAC have demanded the cancellation of the FIR against the engineers and the entrusting of the inquiry to a committee comprising of a judicial officer and a chief engineer. JAC members would be wearing black badges, holding gate rallies at district headquarters and resort to work to rule till a further call is given.



Ex-Food Inspector denies charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
Former food inspector M.K. Sharma has denied the charge levelled against him of furnishing a fake diploma  certificate more than three decades ago  to get a job in the UT Health Department.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he claimed that after serving in the department for 34 years, the department’s decision to charge-sheet him for furnishing a wrong document at the time of his retirement on June 30 was motivated. The former Director Health Services (DHS), UT, Mr Rameshwar Chandra, was also present on the occasion.

Mr Sharma also expressed his desire to open a consultancy service for the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (PFA), which would be the first of its kind in the city, in either the government or the private sector.



Self-defence training camps end
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 4
The concluding ceremony of self-defence training camps, organised by the All-India Anti- Terrorist Front, was held here today at Government Model Senior Secondary School in Sector 22 A. A large number of participants of the camps and their parents attended the ceremony. The participants demonstrated various skills learnt at the camps.

Mr Mansa Ram Maurya, camp in charge demonstrated techniques of self-defence and his team comprising Mr Raj Kumar, Ms Sandeep Kaur, Ms Meenu Sharma, Mr Mohit Verma, Mr Sohit and Mr Chander Bagga performed the Haiwansandan (a form of Kata; combination techniques of karate ). The participants broke cemented tiles using mind power. Ms Monika Thakur demonstrated how to handle chain-snatchers and eve-teasers.

Viewers praised the role of the Front in imparting self-defence training in the city. The chief guest of the ceremony Col K.D. Pathak (retd) lauded the role of the organisers and taught the people how to face insecure situations.

Mr Rajesh Sharma, president of the Chandigarh State AIATF, informed the gathering about the mission of the front to instill a sense of national brotherhood and to fight the menace of terrorism collectively. He demanded that self-defence sports should be made mandatory in the schools.

Among those present in the ceremony were Mr Rajesh Sharma, Mr Yadwindra Salwan, Ms Kultar Kaur, Mr Naveen, Mr Vikram Chopra; Senior vice-president, Mr Praveen Behal; spokesman-cum-convener of sports wing, Mr Chetan Bedi, Mr Satish Katyal; vice-president, Mr Satinder Pal Sidhu, Mr Mansa Ram Maurya, Mr Raj Kumar, Ms Meenu Sharma, Mr Mohit Verma, Ms Monica Thakur and Mr Lalit Raj. 



Young boy, big dream
Tribune News Service

Rustam Singh with his collection of cartoon characters
Rustam Singh with his collection of cartoon characters. — A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, July 4
At 12 years of age, Rustam Singh is determined to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records with his printout collection of cartoon characters. With already 250 printouts in his hands, he is working hard to reach the 500 mark.

This admirer of Pokemon and Dragon Bollz series, is these days looking for a publisher who could print his collection of 10 short stories, which he wants to be called “Short Scary Stories”. A student of Class VII at St John’s School, Rustam began to author short stories when he was eight years old.

Today when he walked in The Tribune office with the collection of his short stories and cartoon characters, we could have passed him off like any other kid in the neighbourhood, trying his hands at new things. An interaction with him forced us to think otherwise.

Buying time, he explained his mission in life and his plans for the future. “I started off to collect cartoon strips as my friends used to do it in Class IV. As we moved to the next class, they discontinued with it but it became my hobby.”

Encouraged by the fictional element in the stories webbed around the televised version of carton characters, Rustam developed taste for writing short fiction. His mother, Ms Gunbir, a Lecturer in English at Government College, Mohali, helps him in giving the final touches to the text. “My stories revolve around fiction, which has an element of fear,” he added.

His hobby and flair for writing apart, Rustam wants to become a renowned magician and pursue aeronautical engineering.



Khushjiv Singh installed Rotary President
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 4
Rotarian Mr Khushjiv Singh Sethi was installed as President of Rotary Club of Mohali for 2004-05 at a special ceremony held here today. He took over from Rotarian B.S. Khandpur whose term expired on June 30.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, Member Parliament, Ropar, was the chief guest. President Khushjiv Singh unfolded his plans for 2004-05 and introduced his team. He said that the main emphasis would be on the development of the Rotary Vocational Training Centre at Sector 70 Mohali, where presently tailoring and embroidery classes were in progress. We would also be organising medical check up camps, dental camps, eye camps and blood donation camps, he said.

Mr Sethi chose Mr P.J. Singh as the secretary, Mr Balbir Singh as vice president, Dr B.S. Chandhok as president - elect for year 2005-06, Mr M.S. Ratra as joint secretary, Mr Ashok Gupta as treasurer, Mr G.S. Juneja, Mr Surinder Bains, Mr C.P. Kaushal, Mr Hardeep Singh as directors, Club, Vocational, Community and international services. Mr Parvinder Singh would be the ‘Sergeant–at–Arms.’ Past President Manpreet Singh who is the Assistant Governor of RI District 3080 was also present.



Dera helps destitute get married
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 4
Kumari Suresh, a destitute resident of Sector 23, was wedded to Kumar Ashok of Perch village at Dera Shri Sai Sidh Baba Balak Nath, Behlolpur. Mr Balbir Singh Wadhawan of the dera said her father had died and her mother had turned insane.

Suresh was wedded with enthusiasm. All basic necessities of starting a new home were gifted to the newly weds. Those who helped in the commendable effort include Mr Vijay Kumar, Mr Rajinder Kumar, Ms Gurpreet Kaur and Mr Yash Kumar. Mr Wadhawan said this was a maiden effort by the dera to help the needy. 



Businessman held for duping mobile dealers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 4
The Chandigarh Police has arrested a businessman-turned-trickster who had tricked mobile phone dealers into parting with 35 expensive sets worth around Rs 6 lakh.
Rajeev Kumar of Ambala was arrested yesterday from Sector 10 after a tip-off, the police said here today. He has confessed to having procured two mobile sets each from Sectors 8 and 22 during the past six months. He had duped several mobile phone dealers in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai also.

Rajeev, who according to the police is the son of a former SBI manager and had a water treatment business in Vapi in Gujarat, used to target mobile phone distributors by taking a vacant premises on rent in the their neighbourhood.

He adopted the modus operandi in Sector 8 when he took a cabin in SCO No. 127 and 128 on rent with an advance payment of Rs 1,000. He then asked the owner of Circuit Mall in Sector 8 to show him some mobile phones. He left a fake visiting card in the name of Vijay Mehta from Thane, Maharashtra.

Rajeev told the shopkeeper that he had rented a cabin near his shop. After some time, he called up the dealer asking for a few mobile phones to be delivered at his cabin. The shopkeeper sent a salesman along with some phones. When the salesman delivered the mobile phones, Rajeev asked him to wait for some time in the cabin as his “boss”, who was not there, had to pick one out of them. He made good with the mobile phones leaving behind the salesmen.

Rajeev played a similar trick in Sector 22 to take away two mobile phones. He said the mobile sets taken from Sector 22 were sold only for Rs 7,000.

Rajeev told The Tribune that he went bankrupt in his chemical business three years back and his father disowned him due to indebtedness. To clear the debts, he took to tricking mobile phone distributors.

Rajeev said he used to sell costly mobile phones at half the price in a circle where the same operator did not have any mobile operation rights. He adopted the same trick in Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. Rajeev Kumar (29), father of a son, said he chose mobile phones as they were easier to dispose of.

A large number of people buy mobile phones without bills at much lower price than the market price, making it a lucrative proposition for the trickster. The trickster revealed that he had procured around 32 expensive mobile phones and made around Rs 5 lakh.

SHO Jagbir Singh of police station (North) said a stolen car (CH01 Q 0314) was also recovered from him.

Rajeev spent his ill-gotten money mostly on gambling and drinking. Rajeev had done a diploma in electronics from ITI, Phagwara. He had disposed of a few mobile phones in Ludhiana recently.



Ailing teenager commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 4
Depressed about her ailment, Samina (15), a jhuggi dweller of Colony No.4, committed suicide by setting herself afire on last evening.
Mr Kishore Mohammad, Samina’s neighbour, told the police that she set herself on fire after pouring kerosene on her body. Hearing her shouts, the neighbours rushed to her rescue.

She was rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, where she succumbed to her burns in the evening.

Samina was staying with her mother and took the extreme step in the absence of her mother. The police has registered a case under Section 309, IPC.

Two-wheelers stolen: Three two-wheelers were stolen from different sectors of the city in the past 24 hours.

A Yamaha Motor cycle owned by Mr Gurdeep Singh, of Sector 45, was stolen from the parking area of Hotel Shivalik View on Saturday.

In another a incident, a resident of Sector 20, Mr Peter Bains complained that his TVS Scooty was stolen from the parking lot of the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

Mr Raj Kumar of Burail village, in a complaint to the police, said someone has stolen his scooter from the parking area of the kissan mandi, Sector 45. The police has registered cases.

One killed in accident: One person died and another sustained serious injuries when an Indica car hit them near the Sector 26 petrol station here, on Saturday.

Krishan Kumar, of Power Colony (Sector 28) succumbed to his injuries in the PGI, while Chandeshwar is being treated at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

The police has arrested the car driver for negligent and rash driving. A case under Sections 279 and 337 IPC has been registered.


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