C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Estate Office slaps violation notice on Himachal Bhavan
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Charged with misusing its premises by letting it out to the public for hosting parties, the Estate Office has slapped a case for violation of contract conditions on the Himachal Bhavan, Sector 28.

It has asked the Himachal Bhavan authorities, which comes directly under the Himachal Government, to either pay a fine of Rs 50,000 or submit an affidavit to the Estate Office, stating that it adheres to the terms and conditions of the allotment letter.

The affidavit should also specify that they will desist from offering services over the counter to the public through advertisement, though holding of private functions by employees is not seen as any violation.

Sources in the Estate Office said the state government was yet to respond to the notice and failure to reply could even invite resumption in the days to come. An official of the department said the conditions laid down for Himachal Bhavan clearly stated that it would be used for activities of a community centre.

“It is allotted for use by the Himachal Government officials and employees of its various departments. Contrary to this, the Himachal Bhawan, a couple of years back, offered rooms for occupancy and its banquet hall and restaurant for hosting of private parties to the public through an advertisement,” the official added.

This advertisement came to the notice of the then Deputy Commissioner, who initiated proceedings and the case has been on since then. A number of similar notices were issued to other bhavans under Section 8-A of the Capital Act and warnings were given to the authorities running these bhavans, asking them not to hold exhibitions or examinations to generate funds for their upkeep.

Subsequently, all bhavans in the city holding private functions only with a view to earning money were barred and exhibitions stopped. While Lajpat Rai Bhavan was allowed to host exhibitions only by social help groups, Panchayat Bhavan was found to have permission for holding exhibitions of all kinds in its contract. Marriage functions by the public in other bhavans was disallowed.

At present, another case of sub-letting of premises has caught the eye of the Estate Office officials. They maintain that the subletting of premises by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan authorities for running an astrology course could land them in soup and invite violation of conditions notice. 



Three health zones proposed for Chandigarh
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
During the second phase of the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) Programme, Chandigarh will witness a major overhaul in the area of healthcare.
The idea is to achieve the target of 100 per cent institutionalised deliveries over the next five years. Currently, 80 per cent deliveries in Chandigarh take place in hospitals.

The city’s maternal mortality rate is 57 per hundred thousand live births. It is to arrest this rate and improve the available facilities for mothers and children that health experts from Chandigarh, with PGI’s Dr J.S. Thakur as the technical expert, prepared a comprehensive project implementation plan for Chandigarh under the RCH-II.

The city has received Rs 5 crore grant for the implementation of the plan, which was approved by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on June 29.

Following the approval, the authorities in UT will have to start work on upgrading of the existing medical institutions in the city. For the first time, it has been proposed to fix the exact population which a particular medical institution is supposed to cover.

As per the plan, all civil dispensaries in Chandigarh are proposed to be upgraded as urban health centres, with special emphasis on the civil dispensary of Maloya, which will acquire the status of a primary healthcare centre offering facilities of delivery.

The city is proposed to be divided into three health zones (central, east and south) and each zone will be medically covered by a community health centre. As of now only the civil dispensaries of Sector 22 and Mani Majra have the facilities of health centre. The one in Sector 45 will also be revamped as a health centre and it will cover the population of the eastern health zone.

Furthermore, a two-tier health system has been suggested, with referral facilities at the following levels: urban health centres will refer cases to community health centres which will further refer them to PGI/GMCH-32 or General Hospital, Sector 16.

Dr Thakur today told The Tribune that during the first phase of the RCH the slum population of the city could not be covered as comprehensively as it should have been. To plug that loophole several suggestions have been made in the current report.

We have mooted the idea of decentralisation of administrative and financial powers to medical institutions and of private-public partnerships in terms of provision of medical institutions and of private-public partnerships in terms of provision of medical facilities. A feasibility study in this regard is to be conducted. We have also proposed a community-based health insurance scheme for the slums.”

Another proposal is to have a cadre of link volunteers for slum areas. Called “Aasha”, the cadre will comprise workers who will act as a link between the community and medical institutions. They will monitor pregnant women, ensure their hospital visits and immunisation of their newborns against measles.

Dr Thakur added, “The volunteers will get performance-based enhancements. For the delivery they will get Rs 75 and another Rs 75 for offering services up to immunisation. They are free to look after as many mothers as they want to.”

To achieve better healthcare in slums it has further been decided that 35 more auxiliary and nursing midwives will be appointed against the existing 53. Some recruitments have already been made in this regard.



Three more retention dams to help save Sukhna
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The UT Administration has added three more silt retention dams in the Forest Area. The Forest Department has also raised the level of at least 10 existing dams.
As planned earlier this year, the dams were erected at Gharidi, Mathewala and Kansal blocks before the commencement of the monsoon.

The department report states that the newly raised structures are functioning properly during of the ongoing rainy season.

Mr Ishwar Singh, Deputy Conservator of Forests and Director, Environment, while talking to the Tribune confirmed the excellent status report of the dams. “This takes the total number of silt retention dams to 186. The dams have come up as a series of structures on the water channels in the forest area of nearly 26 km. At least 100 of the total dams are in operation throughout the year. The water here never recedes beyond 2.5 m.” At least four dams were closed last year because they were totally blocked with silt.

The Forest department has now cleared them. Once the monsoon is over, the department will have a review of all structures and see, if any more dams needed a clearance”, the Deputy Conservator said.

Mr Ishwar Singh said the major chunk of silt from the fragile Shivaliks was retained by the dams. enroute. The problem of silt at Sukhna are largely old deposits, he added.

In a related development the Engineering Department has worked extensively on collecting hydrological data and report on the behaviour of water during the ongoing monsoon. The data will be used in pitching of lake embankments and erecting check dams in future.

The department had announced in April earlier this year that more than 30 lakh cubic silt would be removed from the regulator end of the lake which is the confluence of Nepli and Kansal choes. This would also help in restricting flow of silt from the catchment area of the lake.

As planned earlier, the Engineering Department will construct sedimentary tanks at the confluence points which will be complete by March 2006. Huge quantities of silt will be retained here and prevented from the entering the lake area.



SI remanded in judicial custody
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Sub-Inspector (SI) Sunita Bakshi was remanded in judicial custody by a local court today. Sunita, accused of demanding Rs 2,000 from Sonu through constable Husan Lal at the Mani Majra police station on May 12, surrendered in the court of the CJM, Ms Neerja Kulwant Kalson, yesterday, who sent her to CBI custody for a day.

During interrogation, Husan Lal had alleged that he had taken the money on behalf of Sunita though there is no direct evidence of the police official taking or demanding money.

Subsequently, Sunita went underground and was placed under suspension by the Chandigarh police. Since then the police and the CBI were on her trail.



Passing Thru

Aloke Das Gupta
Aloke Das Gupta, Director, Raga Ranjani, Torrence , California 

An established and busy sitar maestro in the US, why are you keen to perform in India?

My performances in India are my source of sustenance. In fact every NRI artiste wishes to perform before the learned Indian audience to get their approval of his current standing as a performer.

Naive to the intricacies of Indian classical ragas how do foreign audience react to your recitals ?

Raga means colour of a musical form. The audience feels and responds as I create that form through various musical manoeuvers on sitar and applaud when it is embellished in a rhythmic pattern.

Any problem in securing the patronage of organisations or the government for cultural shows?

The American cultural organisations and government are quite liberal for sponsoring such programmes as compared to rich Indians living there. However, they prefer to enjoy functions featuring ‘film stars or Punjabi pop nites.’

Being a musician of eminence how does it help you in your life there ?

People around shower respect on me, which is a compliment to the rich Indian classical tradition of art and makes me and my country proud.

— S.D. Sharma 



Medicine smuggling hits chemists
Sakaar Puri

Chandigarh, July 30
A number of local chemists have been smuggling medicines into the city from Punjab and Haryana for the past few months. This was stated by Mr Amarjit Singh, president of Chandigarh Chemists Association.

He said Value Added Tax (VAT) had not been introduced in the city whereas it was in force in these states. Under VAT the tax on medicines was 4 per cent while in the city it was 8.8 per cent.

Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, Additional Deputy Commissioner, admitted the smuggling of medicines was affecting the revenue of the city.

Dr Sandhu said they were expecting an ordinance to be passed to tackle the situation soon. It would act as a law until the VAT was introduced in the city. A plan to raid erring chemists was under consideration, he added.

Mr Amarjit Singh said as those medicines were bought without a bill, spurious and contraband medicines were smuggled into the city along with them. The chemists who were not involved in the practice were forced to sell their medicines at the same rates as in Panchkula and Mohali.

The smuggling of medicines had led to differences among the members of the association.

Mr Suresh Jain, a local pharmaceutical wholesaler, said: “My business is down at least by 50 per cent, as the chemists are getting the medicines at much cheaper rates from other states.”

The association is also planning to meet Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Member of Parliament, in this connection.



Two youths accuse cops of illegal confinement
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 30
Two youths have accused two personnel of the PCR of physical and verbal abuse and illegal confinement, when they refused to pay bribe to them. The incident took place late last night, when Jatinder, a cable operator’s employee, and Lok Bahadur, a watchman, were talking to each other in the Sector 21 market. They say that it was past midnight and Jatinder was about to leave after locking his office, two cops on PCR motor cycle approached them.

“The cops, Satpal and Tara Chand, were in an inebriated condition. They asked us why we were standing in the market, but even after we disclosed our identity, they continued to threaten us. We pleaded with them, and they said only if we give them some money would they leave us off. When we refused, they started abusing and hitting us,” they alleged.

Jatinder says that while Lok Bahadur managed to escape and reach Sector 21 police post, seeking help, he was forcibly taken there. “Even at the police post, we were assaulted by these cops, and subjected to inhuman treatment. In the meantime, we had managed to contact some other shopkeepers, who approached the police post and got us freed,” he says.

They went through a medical examination at General Hospital here today, and have lodged a complaint with the police authorities. Till the time of filing of this report, the police had not registered any case.



Workshop on traffic management
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 30
With an aim to ensure better traffic management, the Superintendent of Police, Mr Balbir Singh, today organised a workshop for traffic personnel posted in the district. The traffic cops were told to ensure that traffic management in the district was in consonance with the traffic management in Chandigarh. The cops were asked to make their presence felt at all major traffic intersections, as their presence acted as deterrent to traffic violators.

The cops were also told about how to salute VVIP vehicles bearing National Flags, and other VVIP vehicles. They were asked to ensure that their behaviour with the general public was polite.

Mr Balbir Singh said though there was shortage of staff in the traffic wing of the police, but he was trying to revamp it. “Complaints about traffic violations have been pouring in since long, but now we propose to ensure better road safety and compliance of traffic rules.” he said.

Among others who attended the meeting were Hemant Kalson, DSP, Manbir Singh, DSP Rajinder Singh, DSP, and Mr Devinder Singh.



School bus operators allege victimisation

Chandigarh, July 30
The Chandigarh School Bus Operators Welfare Association today sought the quashing of an FIR registered in the wake of July 26 PRTC-school bus accident at the Aroma light point.

Addressing a press conference, the president of the association, Mr Manjeet Singh Saini, alleged that whenever there was an accident involving a school bus, rampant challaning by the police followed. In the above accident, the PRTC driver was at fault which could be corroborated from the eyewitness accounts, but the police booked the school bus driver, Mr Saini alleged.

On the pretext of enforcing the Punjab and Haryana High Court guidelines on the safety of school buses, the police “victimised” the bus operators by challaning, Mr Nirmal Singh general secretary of the association, added. TNS



Saplings planted in Tribune Colony
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
As many as 50 saplings of various species were planted in Tribune Colony today as a part of the ‘vanmahotsava’ being celebrated across the country.

The General Manager of the Tribune Group of Newspapers, Mr Sanjay Hazari, lauded the role of the Tribune Colony Committee in working towards creating a clean and green environment in the city. He also planted a sapling on the occasion.

Saplings were also planted on behalf of The Tribune Employees Union by its president, Mr Jagtar Singh Sidhu, and the general secretary, Mr Anil Gupta, Mr Balbir Singh Jandu, and Mr Om Prakash, committee member.



Sharma is Lions Club president
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Maj M.L. Sharma was installed as president of the Lions Club, Chandigarh Greater, for 2005-2006 at a function organised at the Lion’s Vocational Training Centre in Sector 30.

Addressing the gathering after taking over as President, Maj Sharma said the Lions Club, Chandigarh Greater, had been involved in the service of the downtrodden and needy persons of the city. The club, he said was running a multipurpose project at Karsan, where free medical aid, including X ray and various pathological tests, were being provided free of cost to residents. Besides sewing and stitching classes.

He added that the Lions Vocational Training Centre also had a computer centre where there was a provision to offer training to 20 poor students.



Governor: follow Udham Singh’s ideals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
The UT Administrator and Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), today called upon the people to remember the supreme sacrifice of Shaheed Udham Singh and to follow his ideals.

In a message on the eve of the martyrdom anniversary of Udham Singh, General Rodrigues said he was a patriot, who sacrificed his life for the country’s freedom.

He expressed the hope that Udham Singh’s example would continue to act as a beacon and inspire others to serve the nation and work hard for the honour and dignity of the nation, for all time to come. 



PGI Union condemns Haryana police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Office-bearers and active members of the executive body of the PGI Employees Union convened an emergency meeting to condemn the harsh action taken by the Haryana police who resorted to a lathi charge on workers of Hero Honda motorcycle and scooters in Gurgaon.

It was resolved that the guilty police officers and civil officials should be brought to book and dealt with stringently under the law of the land.



Readers write
No check on overcrowded school buses

It appears there is no authority to check over-crowding in school buses in Patiala. One of the best examples is the school bus of Diesel Loco Modernisation Works, Patiala, that ferries schoolchildren of Our Lady of Fatima Convent School. Though as per court orders only 60-65 children can travel in a school bus, more than 90 schoolchildren can be seen travelling in this buse. The school closes at 1.30 pm. However, the schoolbus reaches the school at 2.00 pm and the children have to wait in scorching heat. It is difficult to understand why the owner of this bus is not challaned for violating the set norms?

Dr Vinod Kumar, Patiala

Parking blues

The paid parking system in Chandigarh is useless. Personnel on duty at parking lots don’t write complete vehicle number on parking tickets. Nor they bother to match the number written on the ticket with that of vehicle while a person leaves the parking lot. The complete number, not just numerical part, should be written on the ticket as numerical parts of two vehicle numbers can be same.

Jasleen Singh, Chandigarh

Choked drainage pits

Whenever Mohali gets a heavy downpour, the roads turn into virtual rivulets. Every year plans are chalked out and some work is carried out to improve the drainage system, but the problem remains the same. I have noticed in Phase III and V that most of cemented meshes on the roadside drainage pits are choked with silt and garbage. These are not cleaned regularly. If the authorities concerned, at least, make it a point to keep the meshes clean, the half of the problem would be solved.

Sukhdev Singh Minhas, Mohali

Voter identity cards

The Electoral Registration Officer for the Kharar Assembly constituency deserves credit for his door-to-door campaign in January, 2005, for identifying voters of Mohali who had not been issued identity cards and arranging special camps for the preparation of voter identity cards in February, 2005. But the campaign met with only partial success as many cards contain glaring mistakes, be it particulars of the voters or their addresses. Municipal Council officials took back the defective cards for rectification of mistakes with a promise to return those soon. But those cards have not been returned so far.

H.C. Singh, Mohali



Police caught napping, 5 thefts in a day
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 30
Criminals continue to catch the police napping. On a single day, they managed to steal a laptop and jewellery, besides other things, after striking at five different places in the city. Four were caught by the residents and not the police.

Though officers refuse to comment, sources in the Sector 9 police headquarters say on an average, four cases of theft are registered by the police daily. Less than half of them are eventually solved.

The sources said last year till December, 1,384 cases were registered. The police was able to work out just 627. In 2003, the number of cases registered by the police was slightly less. As many as 1,238 FIRs were lodged in the theft cases. The number of cases solved was more or less the same. Quoting the latest figures, the sources said 640 cases were registered by the police till April 2005.

“The lack of scientific approach and inadequate crime detection facilities are the basic reasons behind the failure of the police to succeed,” admits a senior police officer, adding that fingerprints are often not lifted. The sniffer dogs are also not pressed into service.


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