C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


CJI asks universities to improve quality
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, today called upon university students to dedicate themselves to the best traditions of discipline, character building and national integration. Delivering the 55th annual convocation address at Panjab University here today, Mr Justice Sabharwal asked the students to reflect and promote, along with national unity, the economic renaissance of the country.

“Just as during the freedom movement every university student was a nationalist at heart, even so, every university student today must be an integrationist at heart, whatever be his or her field,” he said.

Exhorting universities to retrieve the lost glory of the historical image of Nalanda and Takshshila, Mr Justice Sabharwal said the universities should multiply their quantity and substantially improve their quality. He said there was a need to look afresh at almost every aspect of education be it governance, research, curriculum, quality of teachers, interface with industry, funding and the role of NGOs in the promotion of a knowledge society.

Reflecting the upbeat mood of the nation, Mr Justice Sabharwal said, “While there is so much in our times that distresses us, let there be no mistaking the fact that we are living in historic times. We have transformed the backward benighted agricultural India that it was prior to the Independence into a modern industrialised nation in the world”.

Stating that the 21st century primarily belonged to science and technology, Mr Justice Sabhawal pointed out that a National Knowledge Commission had been set up by the government which was expected to formulate a comprehensive plan of action on sharpening the nation’s knowledge edge, its use and dissemination and to bring to the forefront India’s bulk of traditional knowledge.

He, however, cautioned that if scientific and technological developments were not translated into schemes for the relief of vulnerable sections of the society, these very developments would get discredited. “Deprived people will turn desperate people and the peaceful evolution of society will then become a casualty,” he said.

Quoting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Chief Justice of India said, “We cannot afford to just do things better, we must do them differently. The challenge before us in economic, education, social and education policy is to think out of the box. We must think anew, afresh and ahead.”

Stating that the aim of education was to make a person fit to face the basic challenges of life, Mr Justice Sabharwal stressed the importance of keeping education in tune with the times. “In this age of globalisation and information technology where revolutionary changes are taking place in each and every field of activity, not to talk of education alone, the very existence of an institution is at stake until and unless strict measures of updating its knowledge, syllabi and courses of reading are adopted,” he said.

Mr Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Science and Technology and Ocean Development, was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Laws (honoris causa) while Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Literature (honoris causa) on the occasion.

As many as 719 students received degrees, medals and prizes. While the degrees were given by the Vice-Chancellor, the awards and the prizes were given away by the Chief Justice of India. Most of the recipients of degrees and medals and prizes were girl students. Out of the 493 students who received their degrees, 335 were girls while out of the 226 medal winners, 185 were girl students.



PGI given Rs 20 crore for stem cell research
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Even as New Delhi witnesses the country’s largest demolition drive, the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, is all set to come to the aid of regulatory authorities, monitoring unauthorised constructions.

According to the Union Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Kapil Sibal, a five crore DST project — to be implemented by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) — would use technology by which “even a single unauthorised brick that is laid would be monitored and recorded for action.”

Talking to media persons at Panjab University here, where Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him during the university’s 55th annual convocation, Mr Sibal said the project would be implemented within one year and had been designed in collaboration with the National Academy of Science, Russia.

“We would be using satellite imagery, videography with over 60 cameras and sensors. These would be connected to an alarm system and make possible day-to-day monitoring of violations and illegal constructions,” he said, adding that this system would also help MCD manage traffic, crowds, pollution and garbage collection.

Stating that the Centre has planned to set up a food technology park in Haryana, Mr Sibal said there was a need to make farmers aware of the demands and needs of foreign markets. He said details of the project would be worked out following consultations with the Haryana Chief Minister whom he would be meeting tomorrow.

Stating that he wanted Punjab to become the hotbed of research in nano-biotechnology, Mr Sibal said a pharma-nano centre was being set up at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER), Mohali, besides the proposed bio-technology park to be established in the state. He added that the PGI, Chandigarh, had been given a grant of Rs 20 crore for stem cell research.

He added that the Department of Meteorology was being modernised in a big way and that he had proposed the merger of the department with the Department of Ocean Development to make a Department of Earth Sciences. The minister also stressed the need for setting up a national commission for solar energy.

“We have to make the benefits of science reach the most needy. Science is of no use if it is not affordable and accessible,” he said, adding that the most expensive technology does not have to be either the best technology or the one most needed.

Mr Sibal pointed out that following the success of an experimental project in Lakshwadeep, where one lakh litres of potable water was generated from sea water using the temperature differential method, the government would now set up similar plants with capacity of one million litres in Tamil Nadu.

Mr Sibal said talks were on with Iceland to set up an International Institute of Earth Quake Precursors which would help predict tremors at zero and sub-zero scale. “Iceland is the only region where the tectonic plates are moving away from one other. Everywhere else they are moving towards one another. There earthquakes can be predicted with a high level of accuracy even half an hour in advance,” he said, reiterating that an advanced tsunami-warning system would be in place in India by September, 2007.



PU topper takes degree after 53 years
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The 55th annual convocation of Panjab University brought with it a touch of the university’s glorious history when Mr Chandra Mohan, a 1953 batch student of Punjab Engineering College (PEC), received his engineering degree and a gold medal on the occasion today.

Mr Mohan, the founder father of Punjab Tractors Limited, Mohali, is now the Chairman of the Board of Governors of PEC, now a deemed university.

Stating that he had not been able to take his degree all these years, Mr Mohan pointed out that he had topped his batch of Bachelors of Science in Engineering-Mechanical. “That is what Bachelors in Engineering was called then. I passed it in first division with Honours. I have also got the gold medal today for topping the university,” he said proudly showing his degree.

The yellowing piece of paper which is years old had been stored by the university waiting for the student to collect it. “It was a miracle that it was found after all these years,” he said. Mr Mohan’s degree is signed by the then Chancellor of the university, the Punjab Governor, Mr C.P.N. Singh. The degree is dated December 1954, and was issued from Solan (Simla Hills) where the university was functioning from.

Also to make a mark at the convocation was Gaurav Moudgil, a student of Civil Engineering branch of PEC, who stood first in all branches of engineering taken together.

Three students from Thailand were awarded PhD degrees at the convocation. “We have done our Masters from Thailand, but decided to come to India for a higher degree,” said Saran Nakrob, who did his Bachelors and Masters in Musicology from Thailand. Saran has been in the university for over five years. “I was followed here by other Thai students Thanchant Yaiba and Chattra Charanjag. They too have got their PhD degrees in education today,” said Saran, adding that many other Thai students were studying in various colleges across the city.

Earlier in the day, the Chief Justice of India, Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal had inaugurated the University Institute of Legal Studies. Prof. K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, had extended a warm welcome to Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice D.K. Jain and other judges of the High Court, including Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Mr Justice K.S. Garewal, Mr Justice Hemant Gupta, Mr Justice Surya Kant, Mr Justice S.S. Saron, at the inauguration ceremony.

Dr Pathak informed that the institute had been started in fulfilment of persistent demand from people in and around the city and the popularity of the course. The institute will have a moot court room, conference/seminar rooms, a state-of-the-art library with computer lab and Internet facility in addition to classrooms and faculty rooms.

Dr Lajpat Rai Munger, an NRI, who had recently donated over 10 acres in Hoshiarpur for the establishment of a regional centre of the university, was also honoured on the occasion.



Information denied despite RTI Act
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Twenty-seven-year-old Ritu Karol is a harassed person today. Even after three months of running from pillar to post to seek details about certain selections made against the post of Junior Draughtsman in the UT Engineering Department, she has failed to get a satisfactory reply from the officers concerned.

All that she is seeking is information about the selections from the Information Officer, under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Contrary to the provision of the Act, which guarantees the information sought by the applicant, the officers have not supplied the particular information she has sought. “ If they can not provide the information, they should be honest to give in writing the same”, she told Chandigarh Tribune.

Ms Karol said , "If the department is clear on the appointments, why they are reluctant to disclose the details of the interview marks sheet of all six candidates for the post of Junior Draughtsman. If they provide information about other related issues, they can also give details of the marks sheet".

Her quest to seek the information started after not being selected to the post in September 2003. "I have already filed a case in the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) against the selections which I apprehend are wrong”, she said.

Then the Right to Information Act, 2005, was notified and the respective Information Officers were appointed. Beginning from November 14, 2005, Ms Karol has written over five letters to the officer on different counts. She even met the UT Finance Secretary, Mr S.K. Sandhu, who directed the Chief Engineer to supply the relevant information.

The Information Officer, Executive Engineer (C.P. IV), while replying to letter dated January 10, 2006, did not give information about the following points: Interview marks sheet of Yashpal Gupta, Gurjeet Kaur, Harpreet Kaur, Manjeet Singh, Ritu Karol and Pradeep Sharma and rule of architect assistantship.

She claimed that under the provision of the Act, such information could not be denied. “The papers provided by the department show several discrepancies in the selections. The Act demands transparency in the functioning of the government departments. This does not appear to be the case in the case of the Chandigarh Administration”, she retorted.

She said she would seek legal recourse and claim damages from the officers concerned under the Act.



UT starts licensing for liquor shops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
In a major development, the Chandigarh Administration today introduced the licensing system for liquor shops in the city against the existing practice of auction from the forthcoming financial year (2006-07). Liquor prices are likely to fall with the implementation of the new policy. It will also lead to more liquor shops in the city.

The shopping area of the city in Sector 17 will have the maximum number of shops under the new scheme, including seven IMFL shops and one country liquor shop.

Mr S.K. Sandhu, Finance Secretary, said the scheme would be introduced from the forthcoming financial year. The number of shops selling IMFL had increased to 150 and those selling country-made liquor had increased to 65. Earlier, there were a total of 78 shops in the city.

Interested parties had been asked to apply till February 20 and the final list of those selected would be made public by March 15, he said. Mr Sandhu said the administration would give preference to companies in the allotment of shops. The applicant company should have a PAN issued before March 2005.

Mr Sandhu informed that customers would be expected to pay 22 per cent as VAT on the purchase of commodity. “The policy of licensing is being followed in the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The UT has made a comparative study at a number of places. In case, a shop has more than one applicant the allottee will be decided by a draw of lots. One person will be kept on the waiting list at all the spots”.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr R.K. Rao, Deputy Commissioner, said, “The size of the premises of the ahatas with shops selling IMFL have been fixed to accommodate minimum eight tables with the sitting capacity of 40 persons. The provision for air conditioning, toilets, crockery and cutlery of good standard have also been made mandatory”.

The applicants had been asked to deposit a bank draft worth Rs 10,000 (non refundable\non adjustable) with the application. The excise duty on country liquor and IMFL had been fixed at Rs 10 and Rs 15 per litre, respectively. Excise duty on beer would vary between Rs 3 and Rs 6 and wine would cost Rs 4 per bottle.

Mr Rao said there would be no change in the working hours of liquor shops and bars. The dry days would be observed as earlier. An applicant, whether company or an individual, can apply for more than one shops, however, shall be allotted a maximum of four shops, two of country-made liquor and two of IMFL.

The administration has increased the bar licence fee in clubs. The clubs having up to 1,500 members will have to pay Rs 90,000 per annum, those having 1,501 to 2,500 members will pay Rs 1.80 lakh per annum, and those having more than 3,500 members will pay Rs 7.20 lakh annually.



New initiatives planned for the differently abled
Payal Pruthi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
In a scenario where social attitudes are limited and resources scarce, to reach out to more than two crores of persons with disability, the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) has now turned to developing a national framework of action for promotion, facilitation, recognition and networking of inclusive volunteering in the country. With a host of other new initiatives like setting up of a College of Rehabilitation, eventually leading to the University of Rehabilitation Sciences, a certificate course in community-based rehabilitation and parent sensitisation programme through IGNOU, constitution of seven zonal advisory committees and education through distance mode, the council is emphasising largely on information and communication volunteers in the disability sector.

In Chandigarh to attend a two-day workshop on promotion of inclusive volunteering for and amongst the persons with disability organised by Yuvsatta, the RCI and Dev Samaj College of Education, Dr J.P. Singh, Member-Secretary, RCI, today outlined the council's efforts to promote volunteerism in this particular sector and offer a conducive environment by being an advocate for the well being of the disabled people.

Talking about the new initiatives. Dr J. P. Singh said the setting up of College of Rehabilitation would help advance the frontiers of knowledge to the disabled and that it was under active consideration of the Government of India. He informed TNS that an MoU had been signed with M.P. Bhoj (Open) University and more than 1000 teachers would be trained every year to meet the demand of trained teachers for children with special needs.

About inclusive education, under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan , he said the appointment of the special teachers should not only be regularised but also be increased. Also every teacher should be made to undergo a foundation course telling him how to teach the children with disability and this is currently on in a few states. He added that the council had also signed an agreement with the National Council for Teachers Education to include some content related to the education of the disabled in its regular curriculum.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Pramod Sharma, Co-ordinator of the workshop said marginalisation of the persons with disability was primarily due to people's attitude towards them and volunteer efforts were needed to change such attitudes. Mr K. Kannan from the Plan International suggested various ways on how inclusive volunteering could be an important tool to promote mainstreaming.

Dr Vijay Nagpal of Panjab University said volunteering was not possible without selfless commitment.



Bird spotting by students
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
To popularise the concept of bird watching among students, the Environment Society of India (ESI) today organised bird spotting at the Sukhna Lake.

With the emphasis on highlighting the importance of wetlands in supporting flora and fauna, the two-hour event drew 40 students from Yadavindra Public School, Mohali.

The young minds, carrying log books, identification charts and binoculars, fanned out around the lake to spot the feathered guests roosting on the sheets of water and treetops.

A visit to the lake revealed a few species of migratory birds, including the brahminy duck, tufted pochard, pintail, greylag goose, bar-headed goose, pintail, shoveller, dabchick and the grey heron, “holidaying”.

As we entered the rowing channel area, we were greeted by a myriad of noises. A large number of the pintail and the tufted pochards were seen diving in search of food near small islands.

A darter was seen with a fish in its sharp-pointed bill. A colony of the little cormorant, a voracious dark-coloured long-necked seabird with a distensible pouch for holding fish, was seen roosting on dead trees.

The tufted pochard, pintail, shoveller and the coots were recorded in large numbers. The students jotted down 600 tufted pochards, 100 pintails, 100 coots, 100 shoveller, 15 brahminy ducks, 40 little cormorants, 3 dabchicks, 1 darter, 2 graylag geese and 1 bar-headed goose.

In the catchment, the students also noticed a trap to catch birds. They removed the trap and destroyed the nylon thread so that it could not be used again.

“This is actually an interesting event, in which our skills to recognise the birds in their natural habitat were tested,” said Karan Saharan, a Class IX student, who also spotted a pair of spotbill.

Another student, Yuvraj Tiwana, believed: “The event brought us closer to nature. Moreover, it tested our bookish knowledge.”

Mr Jagjit Singh, head of the environment department of the school, said this exercise would sharpen the minds. 



Kalgidhar society residents rue poor civic amenities
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, February 4
Members of the Kalgidhar Enclave Welfare Society here today rued the lack of proper civic amenities in their locality. Despite a number of repeated visits to the office of the Executive Officer, Notified Area Committee, the NAC failed to take any action with regard to the development and provision of basic amenities like water, sewerage and electricity etc., the members alleged.

Col J.S. Sodhi (retd), president of the society, which is located on the Zirakpur-Kalka road, Baltana, said, “The condition of essential amenities here is pathetic. There are encroachments, bad roads, non-working street lights, poor sewerage system and the like. The residents here, most of whom are retired officers of the Army and some of them decorated soldiers and gallantry awardees, are living amid worst civic amenities”.

Mr P.P.S. Dhaliwal, area development member of the society, said, “Even as the society has followed all PUDA norms, the electricity department has not put up the electric poles in proper alignment. These poles have been put at larger gaps resulting in sagging of wires”.

At many places the poles do not exist at all and the electric connections have been given by drawing the wires criss-cross over the houses. This has been brought to the notice of the department, but no action has been taken, he said, the condition of the roads is equally pathetic.

The sewerage system has not yet been connected to the main sewerage even after more than one year of its completion with the result the society’s sewerage pipes have been badly clogged for the want of an outlet. The water supply and sewerage department of Zirakpur which forms part of the NAC is not carrying out any maintenance resulting in overflow of filth all over the streets causing grave unhealthy environment, Colonel Sodhi rued.



Road divider causing anxiety
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The divider under construction on the road separating Sectors 24 and 25 is a cause of anxiety to commuters, particularly during the night.

Despite streetlights, last night witnessed several accidents because of insufficient light on the road.

Mr Rakesh Kumar, working for a fast food joint, fell from his two-wheeler when he hit a car in the rear. “The car braked suddenly and I could not halt. I realised it was because of a mound of earth which was not easily visible. I have seen another accident while I was getting up and some had a close shave”, he said.

Mr Harpreet Singh, a student of Panjab University, said, “I have seen several vehicles stuck up and a few which collided since Monday night. I return late from the library. I am surprised at the casual approach of the authorities towards public inconvenience from the past nearly a week”.

The entire stretch showed mud scattered on the road at different places. Certain renovation was being carried on the berms on the side of Sector 25. There were at least a couple of big mounds of earth, which had further reduced the space for vehicles.

It was also pointed out that things were more difficult during the night because a large number of vehicles from the opposite direction were using high- beam lights, which reduced the road visibility. In such a case, a traveller unaware of the changes being done on the road were caught unawares.



CM mulls dist status for Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 4
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is considering the demand of residents of giving district status to Mohali and also to reduce water and sewerage rates.

This was stated by Ms lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, OSD to the Chief Minister, at a function organised by the Citizens Welfare Federation in Sector 71 here.

She said she would make all-efforts to bring about improvements in the town.

Ms Garcha honoured Mr B.S. Tej, president of the federation, who had been made a non-official member of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority for three years.

Mr Tej said he would try to get the problems of residents relating to PUDA solved in the minimum possible time.



Team on a visit to MC

Chandigarh, February 4
A 25-member team of elected councillors along with the Mayor of Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Corporation, Mr Hunumantappa Y. Betagen Karnataka visited the Municipal Corporation Chandigarh (MCC) yesterday.

A spokesman of the MCC informed the delegation was on a study tour to learn the best practices of the MCC. A presentation was also given by Surinder Singh, Mayor of MCC, on the working of the MC including the sanitation system, water works, electricity and other functions of the MCC. Other officials of the MCC were also present on the occasion. — TNS



Three charged with stealing motor cycles, held
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, February 4
The local police today arrested three persons charged with stealing three motor cycles from the Saini Automobiles on the Zirakpur-Ambala road.

According to Mr Shaminder Singh, in charge of the post police here, Baljit Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Rajinder Singh were arrested and the motor cycles recovered from their possession.

The police official said Baljit Singh, who worked at the automobile agency, stayed back at the showroom on the night of February 1. The motor cycles were taken away by the accused after breaking open the rear shutter of the showroom. A case was registered.



3 held on theft charge
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, February 4
The special staff of the Panchkula police nabbed three alleged notorious thieves in their teens. On a tip-off, the police party laid a trap and arrested Raj Kumar (19), Arvind Kumar (18), both residents of Dudrih village and Giri Raj (18) of Ramraj village, in Muzaffarnagar district of Uttar Pradesh.

They had allegedly stolen goods worth over Rs 80,000 from a godown in Sector 21 belonging to BJP leader Sham Lal Bansal.

The accused were presented before Chief Judicial Magistrate Gulab Singh, who sent them to two-day police remand.



Seminar organised

Panchkula, February 4
A seminar was organised by the State Bank of Patiala (SBOP) for discussing problems faced by their officers.

As many as 45 senior managers from various branches in Haryana participated in the seminar. Mr Rajesh Kapoor, Deputy General Manager, and Mr V.A. Ghai, Assistant General Manager, addressed the managers. — TNS



Shops beckon lovers with attractions as
Valentine's Day fever catches on
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
With Valentine’s Day round the corner, most of the companies have come up with special Valentine’s offers. From jewellers to cell phone operators, bakers to florists — everyone is readying to serve the “love birds”.

Airtel has announced the “Fly Your Valentine” contest for its post-paid and pre-paid customers in Punjab. Ten lucky couples from anywhere in India will get a chance to fly to Goa and stay for two nights and three days at the Majorda Beach Resort, a five star hotel in Goa.

To participate in the contest, a customer will have to call 646 or 64625 and answer a set of questions. “The questions are based on romantic themes across the following categories — movies, music, proverbs etc. Each correct answer will get 10 points and the top 10 customers with the highest number of points will be declared winners. The calls are charged at Rs. 6 per minute,” informed Mr Mandeep Bhatia, CEO, Airtel Punjab.

Orra, the branded diamond jewellery boutique in Sector 17 has launched a “platinum couples collection”. Heart-shaped diamond pendants and solitaire rings have been introduced for Valentine’s Day. On every purchase, a free Orra teddy will be given.



Treasure trove of handicrafts, textiles
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
A treasure trove of a fascinating range of art forms and traditional crafts, each unique in style, theme and expression, the LEPAKSHI Heritage Collection, an exhibition-cum-sale of artistic handicrafts and textiles from Andhra Pradesh, was on Thursday inaugurated at Panchayat Bhavan, Sector 18.

Workers from Andhra Pradesh exhibited a variety of products at the exhibition. A rebate of 20 per cent on textiles and 10 per cent on handicrafts was also being offered.

On display and sale were an exquisite range of handicrafts in banajara mirror work, carved wooden handicrafts, crochet lace, leather puppets and lamp shades, cotton durries, woof carvings and kalamkari hand paintings.

An exclusive range of pochampally, kathan, gadwall, dharmavaram silk, chirala, ikkat kalamkari and other dress materials were also available. The exhibition is being sponsored by Development Commissioner (Handicrafts), Ministry of Textiles, Government of India, and will be on till February 12.



Efforts on for unanimity on beopar mandal
chief’s election

Chandigarh, February 4
After years of bitter contest, the election to the prestigious post of the president of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal, the apex body of the city traders, is likely to be unanimous. Even as a crucial general meeting of the mandal for the fixing the date of election is slated for February 12, the top brass of the mandal has intensified efforts to work out a “consensus” for the top post. As a first step in this direction, the mandal has formed a seven-member committee to work out the “unity formula”.

In fact, efforts of the committee members were apparent at a function organised by prominent traders at the Rock Garden on February 1 where Mr Pawan Bansal was felicitated. The committee members utilised the opportunity to know the minds of the senior members and prominent traders about the “unanimous” election to the top post.

Sources said putting up a united front by the traders in the year when the elections to the Municipal Corporation were due would stand the mandal in good stead. Though a non-political body, the mandal has a strong presence in all political parties. It had been a longstanding demand of the mandal that its president should be nominated as a member of the corporation on the pattern of the nominated councillors. TNS


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