C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Mid-day meal scheme goes haywire on Day 1
Food reaches after recess; no utensils to serve food in schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The modified mid-day meal programme that re-started today in the city’s government schools was full of glitches.

The programme which was to start during the lunch break in all 60 model and non-model schools in rural and colony areas for students of classes I to V, proved to be a flop as at most of the places the cooked food reached well after the recess and at places where it did reach in time there were no utensils to serve it in.

At Government Model Senior Secondary School, (GMSSS), Sector 45, which was the supply centre for other schools, cooked food arrived much later than the scheduled lunch time (between 11 to 11.30 am). The cooked meal was served to the students only in the afternoon as plates, spoons and bowls were not provided and the school authorities had to buy paper plates.

A host of other problems were also faced by heads of different schools. Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, the school Principal, Mr Sham Lal, said there were as many as 1,200 students in classes I to V in the school and it was difficult to serve food to all of them in just half an hour. He added that within the next few days, the school would have separate recess timings for senior classes to avoid chaos and confusion. He, however, added that since it was the first day, there were bound to some problems and things would fall in place slowly.

One of the school teachers said it was very difficult to keep the senior students away and the entire school routine had been disturbed because of the programme. According to him staff from other schools that had come to collect food from the centre, came on rickshaws with open plastic buckets and stuffed the chappatis in dirty plastic bags. Even sitting arrangement was a problem in most of the schools, and children were made to sit on dirty floors inside the school corridors.

At Government High School, Sector 46, the in charge admitted that all other school activities had come to a halt and no new admissions could be made today and the teachers on duty could not take classes. One of the teachers said they would now ask the students to get their own utensils for the food but then there would be chances of these getting stolen. Today authorities had to serve the food to the entire school, due to low attendance in the primary wing.

Principal of another school said, on the condition of anonymity, that there were a lot of practical problems in the smooth implementation of the entire scheme and these had been overlooked by the authorities. He added that if the food was served unhygienically like today in monsoon season then children would fall ill. Keeping the school premises clean and proper cleaning of the dishes had to be taken care of and more teachers would have to be put on duty and this may affect the teaching process in the school.

Meanwhile, DPI (Schools), who was not in the city today, said there were bound to be some logistic problems on day one and keeping in mind the massive scale on which the scheme had been started, some time would be required to make the whole system work smoothly.



Students’ worst fears come true
Confusion over BA (III) philosophy exam date
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
For Daljit Singh, a student of BA (III) at Government College, Sector 46, here, the day began with a student’s nightmare coming true. Relaxed in the knowledge that his Philosophy I examination was scheduled for April 28, Daljit was home this morning when he read in the newspaper that the examination had been rescheduled to be held today and the college had been trying to contact the candidates in order to inform them.

He rushed to the college without any preparation for the examination, reaching almost two hours late. He was allowed to take the examination but he barely managed to answer one full answer.

Another student sailing in the same boat was candid enough to admit that his friends ‘‘helped’’ him through this nightmare and the invigilators reportedly chose to look the other way while this ‘‘help’’ was being given.

Panjab University had preponed the date of the examination from April 28 to April 17. ‘‘Notices to colleges informing about the change were sent well in time and the private candidates were notified through letters,’’ said a PU Examination Branch employee. However, staff posted in city colleges was busy calling up the candidates even a day before the exam and admitted that some students could not be contacted.

Though there were no written complaints received by the PU Examination Branch regarding the confusion at the various examination centres, sources added that a reality check of the situation would only be possible on April 28 when candidates who have still not received the information land up to appear for the examination.



Five dupe truck dealer of Rs 60 lakh
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 17
At least five persons claiming to be from Sonepat district in Haryana took a city-based truck dealer for a ride and duped him of Rs 60 lakh by ‘‘purchasing’’ six trucks by furnishing forged documents.

Giving details of the case, sources in the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Chandigarh Police said the accused furnished forged documents giving fake names and addresses to ‘purchase’ the trucks. The fraud was detected when the truck dealer, Swami Auto care Private Limited, Plot Number 5, Phase I, Industrial Area, tried to get the remaining amount.

Sources said Mr Harish Kumar, the truck dealer, in his complaint alleged that the accused had approached him in the third week of February this year to purchase 14 Eicher-2016, Jumbo trucks. The estimated price of each truck was Rs 10 lakh.

The accused, Raj Singh, Jai Chand, Prakash Chand, Sanjay Kumar and Dharmendra, all claiming to be residents of Panchwati, near Shiv Mandir, Samalkha, in Sonepat district in Haryana, told him that they wanted to purchase trucks on loan. The accused reportedly told the truck dealer that they had taken a loan from a Karnal-based financier, Sri Ram.

Further in his complaint Mr Harish alleged that the accused purchased the first truck from his agency on February 21 this year by paying 15 per cent of the price of a truck as down payment. For the rest of amount they furnished forged documents of loan. By adopting the same modus operandi, the accused took away as many as six trucks from Swami Auto Care, between February 21 and March 3. The fraud was detected when the auto dealer failed to recover the money.

Sources in the EOW said after the auto dealer reported the matter to the police they carried out investigations in this regard.

During investigations the names and the addresses of the accused as well as the documents furnished by them were found to be fake. A case of cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code has been registered in this regard.



Driving around Matka Chowk an ordeal
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Commuting on city roads is nothing less than an ordeal for so many motorists on days of dharnas and rallies following the failure of the Chandigarh Police to comply with the directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, ordering free flow of traffic.

Every time the road meandering its way to the Matka Chowk is blocked by the cops to prevent the protesters from marching ahead during the rallies, the traffic converges at the Press Chowk resulting in traffic jams and blockades.

Even today the motorists had to wait for good 20 minutes with feet shifting between the accelerator and the brake pedals for covering less than 200 metres due to a jam caused by a protest at the Matka Chowk. Among the sufferers were hungry and thirsty school students.

Though senior police officers refuse to comment on the issue, the sources in the police headquarters admit that the residents are forced to suffer in the absence of a concrete plan to tackle the problems posed by the protesters.

They agree that the residents going to Sector 17 and other places in the chowk's vicinity are almost always caught unawares as the road leading to the rotary remains "out of bounds" for the traffic virtually throughout the year, even though it runs parallel to the city's downtown.

Quoting rough figures, the sources say on an average 800 dharnas and over 150 processions are taken out every year. A majority of them are organised around the Matka Chowk. They add that the Chandigarh Police can easily guarantee almost normal flow of traffic by allowing the protesters to remain on one side of the road, while allowing the motorists to commute on the other. In any case, they can make announcements on the radio regarding road blockades the way it is done in Delhi. But even this is not done.

The sources add that at one point of time the feasibility of shifting the venue of the protest from Matka Chowk to the "Open-hand monument" near Punjab Civil Secretariat was considered by the UT Administration. But the idea was dropped due to "security considerations".

The sources assert that another suggestion for shifting the venue to some other place on the city's outskirts was also taken into consideration by the authorities.

The idea was to stop the protesters at a point earmarked for the purpose on the city's border and to allow only a handful of representatives to enter the city for submitting representations to the authorities concerned.

But the recommendation did not find favour with members of different political parties. Otherwise also, several senior functionaries of the UT Administration were of the opinion that the decision would go against the right to protest guaranteed under the Constitution. As a result, the proposal could not be implemented.



Liquor vend impasse ends
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 17
After much protests and controversy over a liquor vend in Sector 18, the district administration and officials of the Excise and Taxation Department today reached a compromise to solve the problem being faced by residents.

Senior officials of the Excise and Taxation Department along with the Sub Divisional Magistrate, today held a meeting with the residents and decided to construct a boundary wall separating the liquor vend from the residential area. The officials also assured that the location of the liquor vend would be changed from the present site next year. This was stated by Mr Ram Prakash, vice-president of the Nagar Sudhar Sabha.

The structure of the illegally-opened liquor vend on the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) land on the busy Chandigarh-Panchkula road in Sector 18 was removed by the irate residents on Sunday morning.



Passing through

Mr Ashutosh Chaddha, Education Manager, Intel India
Mr Ashutosh Chaddha, Education Manager, Intel India

What is the Intel Education programme?

The programme envisages sustained professional development of teachers for information and communication technology integration, through face-to-face training and also by using Edusat network and post-training implementation support. Our trainers conduct training workshops in schools and institutions where computer labs. are available. The trainers of Intel also provide curriculum for both Master Trainer(MT) and Master Trainer to Participant Trainer(MTPT). For broadcast through the Edusat network, Intel will develop and record the broadcast content for the training programme by June 1 next.

How many states are using the Intel Education programme?

The programme is now being run in 14 states where Intel has launched this programme. The programme is being successfully run in Punjab where we have trained 400 teachers, and in Chandigarh, where we have trained 15,000 teachers. In Chandigarh, our Master Training Club, Koshish, is quite active. Ever since the programme was launched five years ago, we have trained about 5. 30 lakh teachers all over the country, and hope to train another five lakh teachers in the next three years.

What are your plans for the future.

We have just launched the programme in Haryana. We now propose to launch this programme in Himachal Pradesh .

— Ruchika M. Khanna



Chandigarh Calling

Photo by Vinay Malik Getting ready for summer

Having waved a happy send-off to the winters, the city residents are atop the merry go-round of sweltering summers. Harsh summers may not be very pleasant, but the present weather is a virtual treat to the senses. Watermelon, melon and mango are now selling ate the roadsides. The heady fragrances from different flowers hugging each other, the cool breeze at night caressing the warm days and yes, lots of socialising doing the rounds. Lots of colour is being seen sprinkled on the streets as well. From protective dressing for that bone-rattling chill, people are moving to more sprited, stringy dresses—capris, spaghettis, T-shirts, flowing skirts and halter tops in bright hues. Added to it all, there are those lush lawns sprinkled for that paradise-like feel. Seems like a feast of all that is beautiful is laid out.

VIP fixation

We city people do have a VIP fixation. Though we talk endlessly about how VIPs abroad are given equal treatment when it comes to traffic bylaws, we do a volte face when it comes to our homegrown VIPs. Sight a red-light car and we stop on our own, to make path for the privileged, even if the traffic light says it otherwise. This is what happened at the Sector 20 and 21 crossing the other day. A sleek car with a red light on top, hesitantly stopped when the light went red, but other cars which were given the green signal to move on, refused to budge till the VIP passed. Judging the crowd’s mentality, the driver decided to oblige them and sped away breaking the traffic rule. A drawing-room talk on social liberation is one thing, but when it comes to reality, one can safely say old habit dies hard.

Heart warming

The City Beautiful has been known for being the region’s education hub for long. With a bevy of excellent colleges sitting pretty in its kitty, the city can boast of many students who are excelling in their respective fields. But, there are some students who are already dabbling in teaching. Yes, like the Mass Communications student Sumit Narula from Punjab University who’s working as a teacher in an NGO being run by Zulfikar Khan. This young boy had a burning desire to do something for the slum kids. And so, started teaching these kids at 24-model school from 2.00 pm to 6 pm daily. And guess what, not only have these students passed but have scored a whopping scores [75 per cent and above]. Sumit’s received a great sense of achievement through this noble service. If more youngsters in the city take up such service to the society, instead of wasting their energies on frivolous things, our city would have much more than a beautiful appearance—a beautiful soul.

Soulful show

The exhibition ‘A legacy of building peace’ at Government Museum and Art Gallery based on the life and works of three great men, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Daisu Ikeda, is proving very popular among the educational institutions of the city. Already, 60 schools have already sent their consent to witness this exhibition among. The exhibition is ideal for the youth who will be inspired to do great things.

US scholarship

Jayshal Sood, who had completed his Masters in Mass Communication from Panjab University with a first division, has got admission in Syracuse University, New York, in MS Broadcast Journalism programme with a scholarship in $10,000. He is the first student from the department to get this scholarship for which there are applicants from all over the globe. The course starts in early July and concludes in August next year. Jayshal came to know about this scholarship from the internet and , of course, it was then hard work to get it. Well done, Jayshal!

Contributors: Anandita Gupta, Parbina Rashid, Sunil Minocha & Nirupama Dutt



Mohali DC, officials take charge minus offices
SSP functions from car
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, April 17
The new district administration is going through teething troubles even as the Deputy Commissioner and other senior officials took charge without their offices ready for use in the PUDA building in Phase I here today.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, functioned from the office of the SDM . Mr A.S.Miglani, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) , Mr Parminder Pal Singh , Assistant Commissioner (General) , Mr Nachattar Singh Brar , Assistant Commissioner(Grievances),Mr Sandeep Hans , SDM , and other officers had to share the same room with Mr Tejveer Singh.

The SSP , Mr Naunihal Singh , has been reportedly functioning from his car for the past 10 days . He had taken over the charge of the new district on April 7 . The SSP has been mobile all these days taking rounds of various areas of the district to get personally acquainted with the area under his jurisdiction . Moreover , he has no office so far where he can meet members of the public.

Chaos prevailed when a large number of riot-affected persons thronged the office to meet the new Deputy Commissioner . Different groups of the riot-affected persons barged into the room the moment they got permission to enter. Even the security personnel on duty outside failed to do much.

A round of the three-storeyed PUDA building revealed that not a single room was ready for use . Not only was the work going on , even the new furniture and others items could not be been seen anywhere in the building which has to house the offices of senior district officials . The furniture for the office of the Deputy Commissioner , however , reached later.

The Deputy Commissioner said he had held a meeting with senior PUDA officials regarding the on-going renovation work . They had assured to get the rooms of senior officials ready at the earliest. He said hopefully he would be functioning from his own office tomorrow. He said the quantum of renovation work was quite a bit which needed more time.

Mr Tejveer Singh said his immediate priority was to make the office functional . While some officers had been posted here , others still had to be posted . To get the work started some employees had been put on duty here on a temporary basis . Employees from Ropar and Patiala districts would be coming here.The government was also asking the option of employees from other districts as well.

He said he was acquainted with the Dera Bassi area as he remained the Deputy Commissioner of Patiala. Now he would look into the issues related to Mohali and Kharar subdivisions. He said 10 to 15 days were needed to settle down properly and get the office record in place.

The Deputy Commissioner said riot- affected persons had met him today . Compensation to the tune of Rs 2 lakh was to be given to each family.The office of the SDM had received cheques for Rs 17 . 28 crore in this regard . He said a camp would be organised where undisputed cases would be made the payment at the earliest.

The renovation work by PUDA officials is going on at a war footing . The work had started about a fortnight ago and PUDA had prepared estimates to the tune of Rs 1.25 crore to carry out the required changes in the building to make district-level offices functional.



Amend property Act, demand Punjab colonisers
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The Punjab Colonisers and Builders Association has demanded amendments in the Punjab Apartment and Property Act for the planned and regulated development of small towns to cater to housing needs of society.

Addressing a press conference here on Saturday night, Mr Kulwant Singh and Mr Amardeep Singh Hira, president and general secretary, respectively, of the association, urged the Punjab Government to authorise the District Town Planner or the Senior Town Planner, who could approve colonies on up to 10 acres, to grant licences to colonisers to develop colonies on up to 25 acres.

Demanding the doing away of the environmental impact assessment by the Central Government within municipal limits, Mr Kulwant Singh stated that the area within municipal limits was earmarked for residential purposes.

Since environmental clearance was a state subject, state pollution control boards should be the clearing agency for housing projects, he added.

The association vice-president, Mr N.K. Sharma, said each member of the association would adopt one mentally challenged or orphaned child through the Child Relief and You or any other such NGO.

The office-bearers claimed that the association, which had 60 approved colonisers as members,was committed to the implementation of eco-friendly laws and providing state-of-the-art amenities to the public at affordable prices.

They demanded that various housing laws, including those on the issuance of NOC from the Punjab State Electricity Board, be made hassle-free and in consonance with changing trends in the real estate market.

Answering a question about high prices of apartments being built by builders, Mr Anil Chopra, patron, claimed that private colonisers provided better amenities than government construction agencies.

Since prices of land had skyrocketed in Punjab, particularly in Chandigarh’s periphery, the hike in prices of apartments was inevitable, Mr Hira said.

Mr Kulwant Singh claimed that the association was committed to a 10 per cent quota for economically weaker sections of society in mega-projects of over 100 acres.

The association would abide by the government’s price fixation formula for such houses, he added.



Revamp of Central libraries on the cards
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The Chandigarh Administration has planned major changes for the various central state libraries in the city. The libraries are being made handicapped friendly, better lighted, well catalogued and plans are afoot to create a special section of books with large prints and also stock books on tape. Researchers and students can now borrow upto five books at a time instead of the regular two simply on request to the librarian.

Stating this, the Director Public Instruction (DPI), UT, Ms Raji P. Srivastava, added that the aim of the revamping was to improve facilities at these libraries in general and put in some special efforts for the elderly. The Sector 17 Central State Library would have a lift for easier access. The Sector 34 library has been provided with wheelchairs following requests for the same.

“The elderly have far more time on their hands than the young. Yet sadly medical problems afflicting people in their 60s and 70s make reading, especially fine print, very difficult. Hence we are building up a collection of large print books in both Sector 17 and Sector 34 libraries.

There would be special sections in these libraries for such books. The first lot of such books would be arriving shortly, she informed. “We are also planning to introduce the concept of books on tape here in the city. It is a common enough thing in some European nations where books on tapes are listened to in the cars etc. We are still looking for sources for such book-tapes and make these available,” she added.

The lighting and seating arrangements in these libraries have also been improved. The indexing and cataloguing system being used in the libraries too is being upgraded. “Theme based indexing is what we are aiming at,” she said.

“Also we aim to attract more students to the college libraries for which we have planned a system to get feedback from the students once they come back in the new session,” she said. College students would be given survey forms and given the opportunity to list the books and magazines that they think should be available in the college libraries.

Introducing the post of Dean, College Instruction (DCI), the DPI (Colleges) UT, today posted Mr Arun Kumar Angreesh as the city’s first DCI at Government College, Sector 11. One of the senior-most lecturers in the college Mr Angreesh as DCI is expected to assist the college Principal in academic and student affairs. A similar post would be created in other colleges also.



Poultry farmers organise protest march
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Hundreds of poultry farmers from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh today joined hands to hold a massive protest against the alleged apathetic attitude of the government, for trying to save the poultry business from ruin.

The farmers, under the aegis of the Northern India Poultry Welfare Federation, organised a peaceful march from the Sector 22/ 16/ 23/ 17 roundabout to the Matka Chowk. The protesters included poultry farmers, poultry breeders, feed manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, ingredient suppliers and other allies in the region.

They were demanding monetary compensation for the losses incurred by the poultry industry, and lifting of ban on free movement of poultry products from one state to another. The farmers said that the prices of egg had fallen to 82 paise (from Rs 1. 25 before the bird flu scare), and the price of bird had fallen from Rs 20- 22 (before the bird flu) to Rs 2 per bird now.

“There are simply no takers for these products. Though the demand has picked up marginally in these states, but the major demand was in Jammu and Kashmir, which continues to impose a ban on our products,” said Mr Sandeep Awla, a poultry farmer from Guru Harsahai.

Mr Darshan Kumar Singla, president of the Haryana Poultry Farmers Association, said over four crore birds, in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Rajasthan had been adversely affected.

“Most of the poultry farmers have no money to buy feed and their birds face eminent death,” he added.

Mr Mohinder Arora, convener of the Northern India Poultry Welfare Federation, demanded that farmers should also be supplied maize/ bajra/ rice at minimum rates, and that poultry be granted the status of agriculture.

“Extensive consumer awareness programme, too, should be launched so that the bird flu scare is dispensed with,” he said.

The Animal Husbandry Minister, Punjab, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, who later came to meet the poultry farmers, assured them that they would take up the matter with the Jammu and Kashmir Government, for lifting the ban.



Press Club team installed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The newly elected office- bearers of the Chandigarh Press Club were today installed at a special ceremony held at the club. Present on the occasion was well-known Sufi singer, Hans Raj Hans, who enthralled the audience with his Sufi compositions. Earlier in the day, a press conference was also addressed by the singer in which he expressed a keen desire to open a ‘‘sangeet ashram’’ where no fee would be charged from the students. He added that he had also approached the Punjab Government several times with the proposal but in vain.

Talking about his first performance as a six-year- old, Hans Raj Hans said ‘‘growing vulgarity in the recent music albums is a matter of concern and one should focus more on the music and the right notes’’. Discussing Punjabi music, the singer admitted that in recent times not many good Punjabi albums had hit the charts and this was largely due to the increasing commercialisation where the budding singers lack the right training under a ‘‘Ustaad’’.

Accepting the fact that he is equally popular a singer in other countries specially in Pakistan, Hans Raj Hans said he had deep respect for Pakistani compositions and felt honoured to have lent his voice to them. He added that music had gone a long way in fostering peace among the two nations. Recently, the singer has also taken up the cause of female foeticide and drug use among the younger generation in Punjab.

Meanwhile, an award ceremony was also held in the evening which was presided over by the Union State Finance Minister, Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal. The award for best report in investigative journalism was awarded to Ajay Shukla of Dainik Bhaskar, followed by Prabhjot Singh of The Tribune and Kanchan Vasudev, also from The Tribune.

In the award for Best T.V Report Category, the award was given to Satinder Chauhan from Zee News, followed by Jagwinder Patiyal of Star News and Jagmohan Phutela of Total T.V. The award for best front page layout was given to the Times of India. In the best news photographer award category, Vinay Malik from The Tribune was given the first prize followed by Jaipal Singh of The Indian Express and Ajay Jallandhari of the Daily Desh Sewak.



Stage set for Indian Idol-2 finals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
It is an open challenge, a twist to the tale, a hurried change of dates of the grand finale for a final confrontation between the two contestants of Indian Idol 2.

In two special episodes to be telecast on April 17 and 18, before the grand finale on April 22, the finalists-Sandeep Acharya and N.C Karunya came up with the idea of challenging each other and making each other sing the songs selected by them.

Sandeep’s choice for Karunya is ‘‘Ab Mujhe Raat Din Tumhara Hi Khayal Hai...’’ sung originally by Sonu Nigam while Karunya has dared Sandeep to sing Kishore Kumar’s legendary ‘‘Ina Mina Dika...’’.

So what is the catch? Say insiders on the show, Karunya excels in high pitch songs so to sing a soft romantic number will really test his range while Sandeep is just the opposite, so the song selected by Karunya for him will test his voice to the limits.

The finals to be telecast in a glittering gala on April 22 will have Bollywood actor Kajol as the special judge for the event what with the final song for contest being ‘‘Subhanallah’’ from the movie ‘‘Fanah’’ starring Kajol and Aamir Khan and originally sung by Shaan and Kailash Kher.

And with Alisha Chinoy also singing her blockbuster hit, ‘‘Kajrare’’ with Karunya and Sandeep, along with a special performance by the top 12 participants of Indian Idol 2, there is a dollop of glamour in store.



Peepal mistaken for banyan

I refer to the item "Great big banyan tree" in the feature "Chandigarh Calling" (Chandigarh Tribune, April 11). I feel peepal has been mistaken for banyan. Indeed, do we hold nothing sacred any more?

Admittedly, both trees have a lot in common. Both belong to the ficus (wild fig) family and both are epiphytes -- germinating from a seed dropped by a bird into the fork or cavity of any other tree or into a crack in a wall or roof of any structure; even on the pavement as in the instant case.

That is where the similarity ends. The structure, the shape and the colour of leaves, fruit and bark of the two species differs substantially. The overall architecture of the two tree species is so vastly different that it is hard to mistake one for the other. Under favourable conditions, a 30 to 40-year-old peepal's canopy-spread could be up to 10 to 15 m radius from its trunk. In contrast, a banyan under similar circumstances may well grow 15 to 20 subsidiary trunks from its aerial roots and cover up to one acre of ground.

The tree shown growing on the Sukhna Lake walk-way is the peepal, also called the Bodhi Tree. Both theology and ancient Indian history are conclusive that Buddha attained enlightenment under the peepal (Bo) tree at Bodh Gaya. So science reverently named the tree ficus religiosa.

Lt-Gen Baljit Singh (retd)

Plot mania, loan hysteria

It is the sweet desire of every Indian to own a beautiful and comfortable home. To meet this noble desire, various housing boards and development authorities were formed by state governments, PUDA, HUDA and the Chandigarh Housing Board. Their motto was to provide home to homeless at reasonable and affordable cost. To mitigate financial constraints of the common man, banks are coming forward with various loan schemes. But the lust for money by property dealers has made these state agencies and boards to forget the noble cause. Recently, HUDA extended the date for applying for plots despite the fact that the scheme has been over-subscribed. This agency wants to grab funds as much as it can without paying interest. Why is there no clause that only those persons can apply who don't own houses. There are stiff targets by banks to squeeze maximum from the pocket of the lay men. The mania created by property dealers in unending. The Centre, the state government, state agencies, real estate dealers and banks should devise policies to provide homes to homeless and not to make holes in the pocket of middle class families in a systematic manner. After 6 months when the draw for plots would be held, a majority of people would be losing around Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 by way of interest to banks. It would be better if straight tax is imposed on the public but home is provided to only the homeless public.

Balraj Katial

Utter failure on faculty's past

Reading the story you carried in your paper on April 8, 2006, titled "Dejected, student goes berserk", I can't help but thinking that perhaps your newspaper made a mistake in choosing this particular title. Perhaps the story would have been better called "Frustrated Art College can't handle difficult students." We expect college professors to act like professionals; it is a part and parcel of their job description to handle all kinds of students who may or may not behave in "set patterns". After reading the details provided by your newspaper, all I can think of is the fact that the professors and the principal of the college in question have failed to address the special needs of this particular student and they can no longer deal with him. Therefore, they took the easy way out by expelling him.

The student in question did indulge in act(s) of vandalism but expulsion is too strong a penalty for mere vandalism. If a student's needs are not met by such an institution, it is bound to lead to frustration. People tend to speak louder when they are not heard. It is indeed a feature of the Indian educational system that problems are merely wished away. Lecturers and professors compete with their own students and there is no way that professors, lecturers and faculty can be assessed by students. There are no annual reviews and there are seldom any performance evaluations.

It would perhaps be prudent if the whole college faculty is sacked on account of being inefficient and uncharacteristically cavalier in their attitude. The focus of the college should have been on encouraging this young man and focussing his energy in such a manner so he could shine. Instead, they seem bent on labelling him as a psycho. He wouldn't be the first man on the planet to break something in a fit of anger or the last.

Perhaps its time when there was a debate on professionalism in the Indian educational system. Faculty cannot be allowed to disregard student's concerns in such a manner ever.

Shivdeep Singh

Is Chandigarh really beautiful?

In the name of beautification and removing encroachments, the MC is re-carpeting v5 and v6 roads and clearing certain violations done by the people. Rather people have developed the adjoining vacant and waste land around and in front of their houses with labour and by spending hard earned money. This land, if left as it is, shall breed wild growth, reptiles, cattle and stray dogs, resulting in insanitation unhygienic and unaesthetic surroundings. The MC is undoing the good work done by the public in maintaining the area with care and taste. The engineering wing of the corporation is creating nuisance all around ruthlessly. Let the encroachments be removed but by proper notification through press and media and by specific instructions made known. The MC staff comes like dons, cause breakage, spread malba everywhere at their own sweet will, only sparing those who matter and harass others. A state of confusion and uncertainty prevails.

In Sector 37-C, every morning they come and indulge in their wicked action in the name of re-carpeting and go. Let the encroachments be removed once for all at one site. Let the MC undertake to develop and maintain it. Let not the encroachments reappear. The defaulters should be penalised.

I request the high-ups to come out of their cozy rooms, see and then act. Otherwise it shall be all in vain and a wasteful exercise.




Fauji Beat
Are we heading towards conscription?

Gone are the days when the Army was an attractive service. Today, it has almost become the last choice of the youth. This is because the craze for money has surpassed all other considerations of life.

The news that a number of pilots have left the Indian Air Force (IAF) to join the private airlines should surprise no one. This trend was there even earlier, though to a lesser degree. With more private airlines having come into the market, the demand for the pilots has increased manifold. You cannot blame them because the private airlines offer them at least four times the salary than what they get in the IAF.

There is not much demand for the Army officers in the civil market, yet those who are technically well qualified do not miss a chance to get out, if they are offered a lucrative job in the corporate sector. To quote only one such example, a highly rated Major from the Engineers, who had all the chances to rise in the career, left for the USA last year and never returned.

Granted that the government cannot afford to pay the same salary to its employees as the private sectors. But then it should not blame those who leave the Army to pick better avenues in the civil market.

It is time the government woke up to the reality and gave the Army a better rating, restored its lost prestige and met its genuine demands, including higher pensionary benefits. The ongoing neglect of the armed forces is sure to lead the country to conscription.

Jet trainer for IAF

Hopefully, the IAF will get an advanced jet trainer (AJT), Hawk, by mid-2007, after about two decades of its demand for a trainer aircraft having been projected to the government. As per the contract for the British Hawk signed in March 2004, 66 Hawks will be supplied by Aerospace to India. Of which, 24 will be on a flyaway basis and the rest will be manufactured in India.

After years of waiting for the government nod, the IAF had opted for the single engine Hawk in 1991, for it was felt that this trainer would fit better in the structure of our Air Force. Despite knowing full well that the IAF had lost hundreds of pilots and aircraft in accidents because of the absence of a jet trainer, the government continued to delay the decision on its acquisition for years on end. Not only that, almost all the air chiefs in succession have been bringing home the urgency of acquiring an appropriate trainer aircraft to the government. Yet this has had very little, if any, effect on the latter.

India perhaps is the only country in the world that gives the last priority to defence projects and acquisitions. No wonder then that the main battle tank (MBT) and the light combat aircraft (LCA), to name only two, have been languishing for several years.

Kasauli Holiday Home

The Army Holiday Home at Kasauli has four large and 11 small suites. Earlier, the allotment of these suites was done for a period of seven days. But according to a recent order, allotment to the serving officers will be done for seven days and to the retired officers only for three days. This order has drawn severe criticism from the retired officers and their families.

“Why this discrimination towards us? As it is, we are charged double the rates than those charged from the serving officers. Who would like to come to the holiday home from Delhi and other distant places just for a three-day stay? If the idea behind reducing the period of stay is to enable more officers to make use of the holiday home, then the very purpose of this facility has been defeated,” say most of the retired officers.

— Pritam Bhullar



Girl catches fire from stove
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 17
A 10-year-old girl sustained burn injuries after she caught fire from a stove at her Colony Number 4 residence this afternoon.

Ruling out any foul play, the police said the incident took place when the girl was lighting the stove to cook.

Sources in the police said Puja was alone at her home at that time. The neighbours heard her cries and rushed to help her. Seeing the girl engulfed in flames, they called the police. The police took the girl to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, where doctors said she had suffered 80 per cent burn injuries.

She was unfit to give her statement. The police was investigating the case.



Draw of lots for small flats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The Chandigarh Housing Board today successfully conducted the draw of lots for the one and two-bedroom flats, separately, located in Sector 49 here today.

There were a total of 96 two bed-room flats and as many as 135 one bedroom flats. The CHB had received as many as 2,182 applications for the two bedroom and a total of 2536 for the one bedroom flats.

The draw of lots was presided over by Mr S.K.Setia, secretary of the CHB . Mr S.N.Sahay, the chairman, also visited the venue of the draw of lots at the Shivalik View Hotel. The draw of lots was done for floorwise allocation of the flats.



F&CC meeting on April 19

Chandigarh, April 17
Empanelment of architects to certify the built-up areas of commercial, industrial and institutional buildings for the purpose of calculation of property tax will come up for discussion in the meeting of the Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) of the Municipal Corporation on April 19.

It has been proposed that a panel of registered architects/valuers may be constituted for issuing duly certifying the area of property for which the tax is to be paid/deposited by the assessee. This fee will be paid by the owner/occupier of the building to the approved architect/valuer and no financial liability will lie on the MCC. — TNS



Vet pharmacists stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The Punjab Veterinary Pharmacists Union today staged a dharna at the Matka Chowk, Sector 17, to press for their long pending demands.

The employees are demanding that they should be redesigned and entitled to visiting fees and also be permitted to undertake assignments which require treatment.

The employees first staged a protest in front of the office of the Director, Animal Husbandry, in Sector 17 after which they proceeded to the Matka Chowk. As many 2,000 employees participated in the protest. A memorandum was also submitted to the Joint Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Punjab.

The employees further stated that if their demands were not met then they would continue their agitation and from tomorrow they would not do any “extra” work given to them. 



Thugs rob 72-yr-old woman
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 17
A 72-year-old woman from Sector 15 was looted of her jewellery worth lakhs of rupees by a couple this morning.

The victim, Ms Santosh Aggarwal, was going to the temple to offer prayers when a man aged about 45 years asked her the way to the Radha Swami Bhavan. She guided him. Subsequently, a woman accomplice of the man, who was following him, told Ms Aggarwal that the man was a respectable person and had magical abilities.

The old women called the man, while the accomplice asked Ms Aggarwal to hand over her ornaments to the man so that he could show her his magical abilities. The woman handed over her gold jewellery, including two bangles, a chain and a ring to the man.

According to Ms Aggarwal, the man wrapped the jewellery in a paper, put them in a cloth pouch, and cast a spell on it . He then asked Ms Aggarwal to close her eyes and pray. He then handed over the pouch to her and asked her take a round of her house before keeping it in her safe so that her jewellery would multiply in future.

As Ms Aggarwal was about to complete the round, the duo thugs fled from the scene. Ms Aggarwal was shocked when she noticed that the pouch was empty.

The police is investigating the matter.



Computer, scooter stolen
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 17
Thieves decamped with a computer after breaking into factory premises in the Industrial Area. In another incident, eatables and electronic appliances were stolen from a shop in Sector 35. Elsewhere, a scooter was stolen from Sector 15.

Sources in the Industrial Area police station said Mr G.S. Rana, General Manager of Swami Auto Mobile Private Limited, plot number 26, Phase I, Industrial Area, lodged a complaint alleging that a computer was stolen from the premises during the night of April 15. He told the police that thieves gained entry by breaking open the window. A case was registered in this connection.

Theft: Mr Deepak Kumar of Dadu Majra Colony reported to the police and alleged that 10 bottles of cold drinks, 60 small packets of chips, one battery and a telephone billing machine were stolen from his Public Call Office, located in the new local bus stand in Sector 35, during Saturday night. A case has been registered in the Sector 36 police station.

Scooter stolen: Mr Parminder Singh of Sector 15, filed a complaint with the police and alleged that his Bajaj Chetak scooter (PB-42-A-7400) was stolen from the parking lot of Sector 16 General Hospital on Saturday night. A case of theft was registered in this connection.


HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |