C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

MC gives meeting norm the go-by
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 14
The local municipal council is on a high: it is allotting tenders, approving development works of “hand-picked wards” and surging ahead. However, there is one little problem — the House has not met during the past three and a half months and does not plan to do so till November. All works are being approved by the president of the council under special powers vested in her.

Within the faction-ridden House, comprising a divided Congress and councillors of the Indian National Lok Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party, there is a growing perception that the president, Ms Manvir Gill, is shying away from a meeting for “fear of losing her place”.

“The council was formed with a view to addressing grievances of the common man and serve him better. The president, however, is taking things too easy by passing all projects under special powers conferred upon her under Section 35 (B) of the council Act. The Act lays down that the House must meet monthly, but it is not happening. All this is illegal and the Department of Local Bodies should take note,” says Congress councillor S.S. Goel.

The Congress councillors, led by Mr Rajinder Kakkar, have even shot off a letter to the Local Bodies Department seeking an explanation from the president. “The latest we have learnt is that a Rs 8-crore tender has been prepared for recarpeting main roads in the city. We wanted the Haryana Urban Development Authority to carry out this task since the council is not equipped to handle it,” he said.

The BJP councillor from Sector 6, Mr V.K. Sood, said his ward was suffering on all fronts. “You name the problem and we have it in Sector 6. Potholed roads, stray dogs, sanitation, everything is an issue in my ward. To add to that, we have had no meetings in the past to even be able to air our grievances. If the president can choose not to call a meeting for months together, then why have a council at all,” he asks.

While BJP councillors are irked about “no meetings”, the INLD councillors are equally agitated, but do not want to openly come out against Ms Gill.

Reacting to the councillors’ demand for a meeting, Ms Gill said she was under no compulsion to call a meeting. “I may choose not to hold a meeting for a whole year. The Deputy Chief Minister, also a member of the House, has told us to focus on executing development works rather than being bothered about holding meetings. All councillors asking for a meeting are the ones who have never come. We will certainly hold a meeting, but only after the festival days are over,” she said.



Candle in the wind!
Child workers take to roads to secure their rights
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
It was a unique gathering. Assembled in the backyard of Neelam Cinema in Sector 17 this evening was a motley group of children drawn from roads and slums all across the city.

Haggard and hapless, they represented the larger rot of poverty in society. In their hands they bore lighted candles to express solidarity to each other's cause. Almost all of them have lost their jobs to one stroke of someone's pen.

As children, they don't understand the dynamics of a modified Child Labour (Prevention and Regulation) Act 1986. To them it will mean nothing till the time some government officer actually comes home to them, rescues them from their poverty and admits them to school where they can then dream rosy dreams - the kind the new Law promises.

So far, none of their dreams has become a reality. Mahesh, a 13-year-old, who has spent a good part of his childhood cleaning car windows and waiting for a generous driver to fling some change towards him, says, "People don't even acknowledge me now. They say I cannot work anymore. There is some law that has been passed. Earlier I used to make about 20 Rs a day and eat something. Now my pocket money is gone. They say I should go to school, but who will take me? I am so poor."

Like Mahesh, all the 200 children, who held a silent protest in Sector 17 this evening, had fears of different kinds. While some will have to sleep hungry every night, some will no longer be able to buy medicine for their ailing mothers or fathers. Not that they like to work, but there is no escaping work. As Reena, a nine-year-old street child who makes a living by picking rags, says, "My mother wanted to send me to school and she tried very hard, but she did not have any proof of my birth. No school admitted me."

Divested of jobs, the children demanded answers from the Administration of a model city today. They asked for their rights and their dignity. Leading them was Ashok Bector, chairman, Universal Human Rights Organization, which has been demanding a rehabilitation plan for child workers for long.

“Much before this law was passed, we had been pressing the UT Administration to make a plan of action. We had submitted one memorandum to UT Administrator in August this year. We submitted another one to the DC on October 11, a day after the Act was implemented. Our only concern is rehabilitation of displaced children. If they are not cared for immediately, they will end up as beggars or will indulge in crimes. Driven by a rising crime rate, the Administration might perhaps wake up. But it will be too late then,” says Bector, who has done his post graduation in human rights from the Indian Institute of Human Rights, Delhi.

His organization had been planning today’s protest for long. Welfare officers had been deputed to mobilize children on the streets and in the slums to join the silent protest around the Sector 17 Plaza today. And the heartening part of the demonstration was a heavy presence of children, who made innocent queries about their future and asked if the law would take them to school. Their aspirations were writ large on the placards they were carrying.

The placards read: “I want to study. I want to play. Please help me. Please do.”



‘Polio’ case sends Health Dept in tizzy
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, October 14
Close on the heels of a polio case being reported from Chandigarh, a suspected polio case has been ‘‘discovered’’ in Indira Colony. A one-and-a-half-year-old child is suspected to be afflicted with polio despite being administered polio drops at camps regularly.

Sources in the Health Department said the child was ‘‘discovered’’ during routine surveillance in the district by health workers. It is being believed that polio in the child could be the result of a ‘‘wild virus’’ which happens despite taking all doses of immunisation. The authorities are, however, in a tizzy ever since the case has come to light.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr G.P Saluja, however, said that there was no reason to panic. ‘‘The child is only suspected to be having polio. We have sent his stool samples to the laboratory in Kasauli for confirmation. After this, the sample will be sent to an institute in Mumbai for further confirmation. We will just have to wait for the report to come in before declaring that the child is suffering from polio. The report is expected any day now,’’ he added.

Dr Saluja also stated that eight other samples of children suspected to be suffering from polio have been sent and confirmed that the sample of a child from Indira colony was among these. ‘‘We keep sending samples but it is not necessary that they all come out to be positive. The cause for suspecting polio can be on account of a number of other factors,’’ he maintained.

The campaign against polio in Haryana had received a setback with polio making a re-entry in Haryana last month. While one case was reported from Kurukshetra, three fresh polio cases were also reported last month. One case from Faridabad and two cases from Sonepat were reported from the state.



Eco clearance: relief for UT industry
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
The industry in the Union Territory and construction companies at the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park will not have to run to the Ministry of Environment in future for clearance of new projects and extensions in the existing infrastructure.

A majority of the establishments in the Industrial Area and the technology park fall in Schedule B of the ministry which have been exempted from the earlier compulsion of getting permission from the ministry in New Delhi.

Under the new provisions, notified recently, powers have been delegated to the state-level Environment Impact Assessment Committee and the State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC). Members of the SEAC include the Director, Environment, Prof Daljeet Singh, from Panjab University and the Additional Director of the Department of Environment.

All projects or activities listed in Schedule B of the list, including expansion and modernisation of the existing projects, will require prior sanction from the committee.

The development is an important time concession to industrialists who had to go to the national Capital several times.

Construction projects and area development projects having an area span of more than 20,000 square metres and less than 1,50,000 square metres also falls in category B.

Townships covering an area of more than 50 hectares and having a built-up area of more than 1,50,000 square metres also fall in category B. A large part of the industry in the city is in category B and has little potential for category A growth in wake of the recently allowed conversions. This means construction occupies the central space in the city growth and areawise it should remain in category B.

Sources said Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), UT Administrator, had taken up the matter pertaining to delays in projects because of procedural complications while arguing the case at the national level.

The industry and projects in category A require clearance from the ministry. These include mining of minerals, offshore and onshore oil and gas exploration, river valley projects, nuclear power projects, petroleum refining, coke ovens, metallurgical industries and cement plants.

The UT does not have any of these units.



‘Isha, we are with you’
Kin of girl orphaned in accident asked to clear hospital bills
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 14
“Isha get well soon. You are not alone, we are with you” is the message that was sent around the town while setting up a fund here today for the four-year-old Isha, who had lost her parents and brother in a road accident and was presented a medical bill by a local hospital.

The Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who addressed a gathering in the Phase X market area, said the fund was being set up for the girl. It would be put in a fixed deposit and the interest earned would be spent on the welfare of the child.

Donations started pouring in soon after the MLA addressed the gathering. Isha, too, attended the function and was sitting on the dais with her plastered leg.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said the parents and brother of Isha died in a road accident on September 24 while she sustained injuries. She was taken to the Silver Oaks hospital where she was kept for less than two days. Even though no major treatment was given to her by the hospital, her relatives were allegedly asked to pay a medical bill for Rs 9013 to get the child discharged. Isha had to be taken to the GMCH, Sector 32, Chandigarh, and later to the local Civil Hospital, where her fractured leg was plastered.

He said the insensitivity of the hospital could be gauged from the fact that the child was not discharged till all medical dues were cleared even though the hospital was well aware of the tragedy. He said the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) had allotted land to some big hospitals at subsidised rates. As per the allotment policy, big hospitals were to give treatment to needy patients free of cost. He said an inquiry had been ordered at the level of the Secretary, Health, in this regard.

The MLA lamented that no representatives of either the Child Development Council, Punjab, or the Directorate of Social Security and Child Development approached Isha to provide any kind of help.

The boxes for donations for Isha would be kept in various markets and donations would be received till November 14. The donations would then be collected at one point in the Silvi Park on November 14 after which a silent protest march would be held up to the Silver Oaks hospital where Isha would be asked to pay hospital charges out of the donation money.

Dr Akhil Bhargava, MD, Silver Oaks hospital, said the allegations being levelled against the hospital were baseless. He said Isha was brought to the hospital at 11.15 pm on the night of September 24. The condition of the child was critical and she needed immediate attention. Despite nobody being there to take the responsibility of the child, the hospital admitted her to the ICU, did CT scan, X-ray and the required tests.

“We did not stop any job, because of no advance payments”, said Dr Bhargava. A team of doctors and other medical helps paid full professional and personal attention to Isha. The hospital had diagnosed fracture and put the splint for this. But, for the operation we had to take the responsibility certificate from the relatives or friends or any of the guardians, he said.

On the night of September 26, few people came to get the child discharged. They were asked to identify themselves and while footing medical bills they never asked for any discount, which could have been given to them. He said even in government hospitals attendants were asked to clear medical bills before their patients were discharged.



Passing Through

Q: How are medical laboratory technologists equally important as doctors?

A: Skilled medical technologists support doctors by diagnosing the exact disease.

Q: What are your views about the PGI, Chandigarh?

A: The PGI, Chandigarh, is a premier health institute of this region that has been producing a huge number of skilled medicos who achieve fame internationally.

Q: How much does the government plan to spend on the PGI in future?

A: The government has been spending in crores on health and we have no hesitation in granting money to the PGI for projects relating to health of general public.

Q: What do you advise the doctors who have been migrating from the country?

A: After serving and getting training abroad, the doctors should come back and serve their own people in the country.

— Bipin Bhardwaj



Watch out

Jaspal Bhatti Jaspal Bhatti, a renowned stage and film comedian, features in the ‘National Convention on One Year of Right To Information Act’ at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on Sunday. The convention is being hosted by the Central Information Commission.

Bhatti features on the third day of the convention along with Savita Bhatti and Brijesh Ahuja, his co-stars in a 20-minute humourous presentation. The show is scheduled around 12.30 p.m. The convention inaugurated by Dr A.P.J. Kalam, President, on Friday will have Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, at the concluding function tomorrow.



In Town

Famous vocalists Rajan and Sajan Mishra will be in Chandigarh to perform at Shanti Kunj. They took lessons in music from their father Pt Hanuman Prasad Mishra and their uncle Pt Gopal Mishra. They were also fortunate to have learnt from “Gayanacharya” Pandit Bade Ramdas Mishra.

Blessed with melodious voices, the brothers assimilate the essence of the Benaras Gharana very well. Since their first concert when they were in their teens, both have performed with great acclaim in almost all cities of India.



Your magnanimity can save a life
Bipin Bhardwaj

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Hailing from Bagetu, a sleepy village in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh, Vandna (16) has been struggling for life in want of renal transplant for the past one year. Vandna, who was born with only one kidney, suffered a renal failure last year.

A student of Rose Public School, Naya Gaon, Vandna, lives along with her widow mother Sandhya Devi and elder brother Arvinder Sharma (19), in a hutment in Janta Colony, Naya Gaon, adjacent to the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). She developed abdomen pain and approached the PGIMER where the doctors diagnosed her for renal failure.

After treating her for the disease, the family was asked to go in for a renal transplant which cost about Rs 2 lakh.

Sandhya Devi ran from pillar to post to arrange a kidney and even consulted PGI doctor to find Vandna could get a kidney in exchange of her own kidney which she was willing to offer. The doctors told the family that Vandna’s blood group was not matching with her mother’s blood group. Facing disappointment from every side Arvinder decided to save his sisters’ life by donating his kidney.

Vandna had to quit studies due to the ailment while her brother, who was working with a studio in Sector 8, Chandigarh, had to leave the job to assist his mother in looking after his sister.

Extending financial assistance to the family, the management of her school some how managed to arrange some amount for Vandna’s treatment but that was not sufficient.

While narrating the sad tale Sandhya Devi, said the ailment had dragged the family under debt and what-so-ever her husband had left had been spent on Vandna’s treatment.

She said at present Vandna was undergoing dialysis (twice a week) at a private hospital in Sector 16. This cost over Rs 2000 including Rs 950 per dialysis.

The family is in desperate need of financial assistance and donations could be made to Sandhya Devi, House No 1103, Janta Colony, Naya Gaon, Punjab. Donations could also be made through the PGI Poor Patients Relief Fund after contacting Public Relation Officer PGI, at 0172-2756003.



Religious preacher ‘Veerji’ dead
Our Correspondent

Mohali, October 14
Bhai Jasbir Singh Ji Khalsa Khannewale, a prominent religious preacher who was affectionately called “Veerji”, died here this afternoon.

According to the information, Bhai Jasbir Singh suffered a heart attack when he was at Gurdwara Akal Ashram in Sohana. He was immediately taken to Shri Guru Harkrishan Charitable Hospital , but doctors failed to save his life.

Mr Manjit Singh Sethi, a former municipal councillor, said the body of the preacher was kept in a mortuary in Fortis Hospital. The cremation would take place tomorrow. A ‘shok’ march would be taken out from Sohana at midday and after passing through various areas of the town it would reach the cremation ground.

Mr Hardeep Singh, a member of the SGPC, said Bhai Jasbir Singh Ji had a massive following not only in India but also abroad. His death had created a large vacuum.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, OSD to the Chief Minister Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha and Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh mourned the death of the Sikh preacher. They said his death was a big loss not only to Punjab but the entire country.

Condoling his death, Mr Joginder Singh Sondhi, president of the Gurdwara Coordination Committee, said the death had caused a great loss to the Sikh community.

Veerji earlier lived in Khanna, but he later shifted to Mohali. He had got Gurdwara Akal Ashram constructed in Sohana with the help of sangat. With the objective of serving the poor, Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Charitable Eye Hospital Trust, Sohana, was constituted in 1993. A modern and sophisticated eye hospital was set up to serve millions of eye patients of the country irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. No patient, rich or poor, whether he could pay or not, left hospital without proper treatment. Expenses on surgery and medicines are charged from persons who can afford to pay.

Veerji had always been performing nishkam kirtan seva throughout the country for Sikhi parchar. He had also been awarded for nishkam kirtan in 1996 by the Akal Takht. As a true Sikh and follower of Sikh religion, he did not believe in caste. He travelled extensively throughout the country to spread the message of Sikh Gurus.



Housing Problems
A long wait for promised amenities
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, October 14
Residents of Chandigarh Apartments on the Dera Bassi-Barwala road are a harassed lot. Several years after the allotment, the residents are waiting for the promised basic amenities by the builder — Chandigarh Builders and Promoters.

In fact, lakhs spent by the allottees on the purchase of residential and commercial property seem to have gone down the drain in the wake of the lack of basic amenities as a majority of the apartments are lying unoccupied. We are ruing the day we decided to purchase property as the complex is not worth living, alleged Col Ajit Singh (retd), convener of the People’s Voice Group.

One of the oldest apartment complexes in Dera Bassi, the project was initiated in 2000 and was slated to be completed by 2003. However, three years down the line, the basic amenities still eluded the residents, the Colonel alleged.

A visit to the complex revealed that a majority of the residents lacked electricity connections in the absence of a “single-point transformer”. The situation of water supply and the sewerage remains far from satisfactory, a representation by the residents to the Chief Administrator of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) stated.

Road recarpeting had only been taken up now after repeated representations to the builder. However, the area earmarked for the community centre had reportedly been sold off to another builder for the construction of flats, alleged Dr Bir Kamal Singh Pannu.

Demanding a through probe by the PUDA authorities, the representation demanded an immediate stop to the construction of flats on the site earmarked for the community centre. It also demanded the completion of development works within three months.

Meanwhile, the promoters refuted the allegations. Development works were being taken up in a phased manner and the 40-foot road had recently been recarpeted.

A promoter claimed that there were 30 regular electricity connections in the complex. Regarding the sewerage, he said the sewer connection was to be provided by the municipal council.

Claiming that Chandigarh Builders and Promoters were the pioneers in bringing the apartment culture to the Dera Bassi belt, the promoter asserted that the apartments were sold at a nominal price of Rs 5.75 lakh. He refuted the allegations that the space earmarked for the community centre had been sold off, adding that it would be completed as per the layout.



Moonlit Park inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, Union Minister of state for Finance, inaugurated Moonlit Park in Sector 22 today.

The park is spread over 3.64 acres. It gets its unusual name from the fact that it has only white flowers.

Mr Surinder Singh, Mayor, Mr P.S. Aujla, Commissioner, area councillor Pardeep Chhabra and other councillors and officers of the local Municipal Corporation were present.

A spokesperson for the MCC stated that the park was conceptualised after it was observed that the green belt was being used for dumping construction material, malba, etc and for holding Apni Mandi. Three rain shelters and benches had been set up in the park. A sum of Rs 29.44 lakh had been spent on the park, he added.



Major power shutdown today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
The city and the satellite town of Panchkula will have major power shutdowns tomorrow.

According to sources, the parts of Sectors 2,3,10 and 11 will have power shutdown from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Similarly, power supply to parts of Sectors 18,21 and 23 will remain suspended from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Parts of Sector 4,5,7,8,9, New OPD of the PGI and Kaimbala will be without power from 12 noon to 4 p.m. The parts of Industrial Area, Phase I, will be without power from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, in Panchkula, parts of Sector 10,11,12,12-A,14,15,16,17,19,20, Abheypur, Bhudanpur, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) Complex, Haryana Vidyut Parsharan Nigam (HVPN) Complex, Industrial Area (Phase I and II) and the Rajiv Colony will go without power from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.



Office-bearers of bank officer’s body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 13
Mr Vijay Magon and Mr Amar Pal have been unanimously elected president and general secretary of the State Bank of India Officers’ Association, Chandigarh circle, respectively.

Mr B.S. Mangal, Mr Balvinder Singh, Mr Daljit Singh and Mr O.P. Indal have been elected vice-presidents, while Mr M.K. Virmani and Mr K.K. Mehra have been elected deputy general secretaries of the association.

A total of 63 members have been elected office-bearers of the association, which represents 4,500 employees of the bank working in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh. Among others who have been elected are Mr C.S. Nanda, organising secretary, Mr S.M. Aggarwal, secretary (finance), and Mr A.K. Dhingra deputy secretary (finance).



Story session organised

Chandigarh, October 14
A story-telling session for children in the age group of 6 to 16 years was organised at the Lajpat Rai Bhavan, Sector 15, here today.

Organised as part of the birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, Prof Virender Mehndiratta, a former professor of Panjab University, and Ms Poonam Singh, Editor of Preetlari, enlightened the students with their stories. — TNS



Girl commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
Anjana Rajput, a student of BS (IT), allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself at her Sector 25 house here today. The victim was said to be under depression and was being treated at the Fortis hospital, Mohali. A police official said no suicide note was found at the spot.

Cheating case

Two employees of the Sahil International (Canada Tyre), Industrial Area, Phase II, have been booked by the Economic Offences Wing for misappropriating Rs 16 lakh earned from the sale of tyres.

A case under Section 406 of the IPC has been registered against the accused, Narinder and Sashi Bhatia.

7 booked

Seven persons, including a girl, were booked for loitering in Burail area here on Saturday. According to the police, during a routine checking of hotels, the suspects — Hardeep, Lakhwinder, Gurdeep and Harjeet and a girl from Kolkata — were found moving around under suspicious circumstances outside a hotel.

Apart from the five persons, Phirtu Ram and Jahdeesh, owner and manager of the hotel, have also been booked under Section 109 of the CrPC. They were remanded in police custody for 14 days by a local court.



Brisk business at CII Fair
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 14
The CII Consumer Fair at Parade Ground, Sector 17, entered the second day today on an optimistic note with the seven concurrent fairs doing a brisk business and entertaining significant number of inquiries.

The bankers were happy and so were the furnishers. If the mega brand and the Infocom expositions pulled the younger crowd, the consumer and persona played host to all age groups.

The International Arcade, the Thai Pavilion, turned out to be a great attraction for almost everybody. “We are extremely delighted with the customers. The response to the pavilion has been tremendous”, said Mr Tharadol Thoigruang, counsellor, Commercial, Royal Thai Embassy.

All stalls at the Thai Pavilion — be it for jewellery, artificial flowers, bags, furniture or spices — have been major crowd pullers. The Pakistani stall displaying a distinct collections also drew crowds.

Among the prominent visitors was Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister of Punjab.

The event is sponsored by three concurrent sponsors Nokia (Infocom), Godrej (Décor) and Samsung (megabrands). The Tribune Group of Publications is the print media sponsor, Radio Buzz is the radio sponsor and INSCOL hospital is official medicare services providers.



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