C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Get ready for Kalam snarls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
Elaborate security arrangements have been made ahead of President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s visit to the city tomorrow.

Chandigarh Police personnel have been deployed along all routes to be used by the President’s motorcade during his engagements here, officials said.

Over 800 personnel of the police and two companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in the city, SSP Gaurav Yadav told Chandigarh Tribune here tonight.

After arriving here at 9.50 am, the President will review the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet at the airbase here. After this, he will deliver the convocation address at Panjab University and attend two functions at the PGI.

Senior officials claimed that the police had tried to put road users to least inconvenience. It would allow traffic on only one lane of the route. The city had been divided into several sectors, each of which would be manned by a DSP.

The PGI will hold its 28th annual convocation tomorrow. President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will be the chief guest, while union minister of health and family Welfare Dr Anbumani Ramadoss will preside over the function.

At least 301 students will be awarded degrees, while six students will be honoured with medals for meritorious performance. Dr Ramadoss will also inaugurate the School of Public Health (SPH). 

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He’s got them robed in
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
One of the oldest convocation costumiers of the country will help President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam don the velvet black and golden robe tomorrow. Pioneers, the 75-year-old tailoring unit of Anil Kumar Mehta, the grand-old-man of convocations in India, has till robed every President of the country for convocations.

Over a thousand students of the PGI and Panjab University will slip into graceful black robes tomorrow to receive their degrees in the presence of the President during the annual convocation functions of the two institutes.

Between the two of them, Pioneers and University Costumiers have supplied convocation robes during each convocation of Panjab University for the past 75 years, including some that took place before the university was partitioned along with the country.

The Pioneers have stitched robes for various Presidents, the Duke of Edinborough, former US president Dwight Eisenhower and former UN Secretary General Hu Thant. “I started going to convocations with my father in the late fifties. As a 10-year-old, I met Jawaharlal Nehru at a convocation in 1958 where my father helped him fit into the robe specially stitched for him,” recalls Nanda.

Nanda’s father Asa Nanda started Pioneers at Anarkali Bazaar in Lahore when such robes were in great demand during all formal ceremonies associated with universities and colleges.

But, what began as a flourishing business for Gyan Chand Sehgal of the University Costumiers in Lahore, is now just a side business that he runs from a small shop in Darya Ganj, New Delhi.

“Now convocations are being phased out all over the country. There was a time we supplied robes to universities in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar also,” said Deepak Sehgal. 

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Protest plan foiled

Chandigarh, March 6
The police today arrested top leadership of the UT Type 13 Joint Action Committee for apprehension of breach of peace during the visit of President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, to the city tomorrow.

According to sources, the police action came to foil the attempt of committee members to show black flags to the President on their demand for proprietary rights of Type 13 houses. — TNS

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Deep Home in deep trouble
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
About two months after the Chandigarh State Consumer Commission slapped a fine of Rs 20 lakh on owners of Deep Nursing Home, Sector 21, here for negligence leading to the death of a patient, the UT Police has registered an FIR in the matter.

According to available information, an FIR has been registered at the Sector 19 police station against Dr Kanwarjit Kochhar and her husband Dr Gurdeep Singh Kochhar, both owners of the nursing home, for causing death of a person and giving and fabricating false evidence during judicial proceedings.

Both Sections are cognisable offences and the doctors can be arrested without arrest warrants.

The case pertains to the death of Mohali-resident Charanpreet Kaur, 32, in December, 2005. In his complaint, her husband Manmeet Singh had alleged that on December 19, 2005, Charanpreet came to the nursing home with a severe backache. She was admitted three days later as she was in the advanced stage of pregnancy, She gave birth to a child, who died soon after birth. The next day, Charanpreet also died. Manmeet Singh accused the nursing home of negligence, leading to the death of his wife. He also alleged that the nursing home was inadequately equipped to handle emergencies.

He alleged that when his wife went into trauma and started bleeding profusely, the doctors at the clinic did precious little, even delaying her shifting to the PGI. He also alleged that no doctor accompanied the patient to the PGI.

In its order, the consumer court had ruled that Charanpreet had died due to lack of caution by the doctors. The order also said that it appeared that Charanpreet was already dead when taken to the PGI and the same done only to “dump the body” there .

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Death: Sarthak under scanner

Panchkula, March 6
The Education Department of Haryana today sought a report in the fire incident at Sarthak Government School, Sector 12-A, which resulted in the death of six-year-old Aman Luthra .

Joint Director Tilak Raj visited the school to put together the sequence of events that led to Aman's death. Director of Secondary Education Anil Malik said the department would initiate action on the report of the official deputed for the same.

On the issue of compensation, he said,:" We are looking at the various options of awarding compensation to the aggrieved family. An amount of Rs 98,000 has already been given to the parents as cost of treatment." — TNS

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Cheque bounce
Shetty faces probe

Chandigarh, March 6
After doing nothing for over a year despite receiving numerous complaints, the UT Police has finally initiated a probe against Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty in a cheque bounce case.

Chandigarh SSP Gaurav Yadav is learnt to have directed DS (Crime) Om Prakash to hold a thorough probe into the matter and take appropriate action.

This follows the direction by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 21 to the SSP to probe the matter and take action. Owners of city-based Empire Stores have sought action against Shetty for his involvement in a cheque bounce case. In his complaint, Subhash Gulati, owner of Empire Stores, has alleged that a cheque for Rs 10 lakh issued by Hyundai India Telecom Limited (HITL), Chennai, was not honoured by the bank. — TNS

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Teacher abducts student
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
Son of a Haryana IAS officer and a teacher of Sector 22-based government school allegedly abducted a student of Class X last evening.

The police has booked the accused, Sunil Kumar, a Hindi teacher of Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 22, under Section 366-A of the Indian Penal Code on a complaint filed by the victim’s father. Police teams had been sent to various places in Punjab and Haryana.

The girl’s family has alleged that the teacher had been inducing their daughter with gifts. They had intervened but in vain. They lodged a “missing person” report after the girl failed to reach home last night. 

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DTH halts cable tariff hike
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
In spite of the hike in subscription rates by most pay channels, cable operators here have decided not to pass on the hike to the consumers. Thanks to the stiff competition from the direct-to-home entertainment service providers-Dish TV and Tata Sky-cable consumers can heave a sigh of relief.

Sources informed TNS that a 10-15 per cent hike in subscription charges of all pay channels is expected during the month of April. While a new channel is being included in the bouquet of Star TV, the other paid channels are increasing their subscription charges. The cable subscription, which varies from Rs 175 - Rs 325 per month in the tri-city, may not be increased.

“This will be the first time that the subscription charges are not being increased after the hike is announced by the pay channels. With the direct-to-home entertainment service providers gathering a strong foothold in the region - thanks to their aggressive marketing and competitive pricing - the cable operators in the tri-city have to keep the subscription under control,” said Rajeev Gupta, a Panchkula-based cable operator.

Cable operators say that already the subscription charges paid by them to the various pay channels (Star, ZEE, Sony, Espn- Star Sports, Sahara, B4U, Neo Sports, and Zoom) besides the copyright charges are Rs 404. 71 per connection per month. They are negotiating with the channels to increase the number of connections rather than increasing the subscription rates per connection.

Dish TV, which has a subscriber base of 1. 60 million across the country, is one of the fastest growing DTH service, as it adds about 1.20 lakh subscribers each month. Both Dish TV and Tata Sky (the other major DTH operator in the region) have launched its services in the city at a monthly subscription price of Rs 300, besides the installation charges and charges of hardware. Special packages for a three-year subscription are also being offered.

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A shining example for rural youth
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
Dr T.S. Kler, director of interventional cardiology and electrophysiology at Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi, will receive honorary degree of doctor of science (D.Sc) from Panjab University at its annual function tomorrow. President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will deliver the convocation address.

Born on August 1, 1953, in non-descript Amargarh village, now part of Fatehgarh Sahib district, Kler did his elementary education from local schools. After doing his pre-medical from A. S. College, Khanna, he joined Medical College, Patiala. He did his postgraduation from the PGI Chandigarh.

Kler went to the UK to get the membership of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP). In spite of a lucrative career option abroad, he came back to India in 1989 and joined the institute.

Kler is a shining example for the rural youth. He has many firsts to his credit. He established the first state-of-the-art electrophysiology department in India at the institute and pioneered the implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) in April 1995. He was the first doctor to implant biventricular pacemaker in April, 2000, and then a combo device (combination of ICD and biventricular pacemaker) in 2002.

Kler has been helping various institutions in India and abroad in developing expertise, especially in the field of electrophysiology. He was the first doctor to start the radiofrequency ablation (RFA) programme in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Kler has done ICD implants in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

He organised the first Indo-Pak Heart Summit in Amritsar in 2004. The Kisan Yojana, providing concessional treatment to heart patients from rural areas at the Escorts Group of Hospitals, is his brainchild.

Kler has a keen interest in teaching and research in cardiology. He has trained more than 50 cardiologists from India and abroad. He has more then 150 publications in national and international journals to his credit.

Kler is scientific adviser to many international organisations, including Boston Scientific, Medtronic, Guidant and St. Jude, all based in the US.

He has received many national and international awards in the field of medicine. He was awarded Life-Time Achievement Award by President Kalam in 2006 at the World Congress of Preventive and Clinical Cardiology. A Padma Bhushan recipient for his contribution in development of electrophysiology, Kler has been made founding president of the newly formed Heart Rhythm Society of India.

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BSNL ‘Disconnecting India’
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Lalru, March 6
"Connecting India", the much-touted slogan of the public sector telecom giant Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) seems to have gone for a toss in the Lalru area. A large number of telephone connections here have been lying out of order for the past several weeks snapping their link with the outside world.

However, repeated complaints to the authorities concerned seemed to have fallen on deaf ears."Even as new private telecom players come up with new attractive packages, the government-run telecom giant is yet to wake up from slumber to provide even the basic telephone services," alleges Yash Pal, a resident of Lalru Mandi whose telephone had been "dead" for the past about one month.

In fact, for Sat Pal, a resident of the nearby Alamgir village, the telephone bell had failed to ring for the past about three months. With no other telecom player ready to provide landline services in the rural area, Sat Pal is at the receiving end of the telecom giant's monopoly. His agony is compounded as the signal of his mobile phone was not available in certain parts of the Lalru area.

Pradeep Kumar of Lalru alleges that the BSNL authorities were resorting to unfair trade practices as far as providing services was concerned. While the BSNL charges monthly rental from the subscribers, the telecom link remains disrupted for weeks together, another subscriber says threatening to move the consumer court.

Sources allege that the four-laning of the Ambala-Chandigarh highway was behind the snapping of the telecom link in Lalru and its adjoining villages. The four-laning of the highway entails a lot of digging along the road which may have damaged the underground cable network, the sources allege.

BSNL sources claimed that effort were being made to rectify the faults. However, they failed to commit any deadline.

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HIV positive faces medical apathy
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
Freshly detected with HIV, 18-year-old Deepak is losing his zeal to live. And HIV positive status is not the only cause for his distress. A greater cause is the indifference of medical practitioners who, he says, made him wait outside the PGI emergency for hours while he kept writhing in pain.

He had been rushed to the PGI emergency on February 15, with severe pus formation in his left leg. Prior to that, he had tested positive for HIV at Manimajra Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre for HIV. He was brought to Manimajra dispensary with the complaint of excruciating pain in the left leg. Within a few hours, his HIV positive status had been determined.

Some days later, Deepak’s condition worsened and his wounds started to putrefy. On February 15, the pain became unbearable and he was brought to the PGI emergency where he lay unattended for many hours. Overload at the emergency was one dominant reason. It finally took the intervention of members of Chandigarh Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS (CNP +) to get the doctors to look at the patient’s card.

Mr Nawendu Jha, coordinator of the network, confirmed to The Tribune today, “Deepak was brought to the emergency at 2 pm but till about 5 pm, no one had attended to him. Finally I along with Network President Pooja Thakur went to the emergency and requested the doctors to attend to Deepak and administer him a dose of painkillers. The doctors, on seeing Deepak’s slip, referred him to Orthopedics Department. When we requested them to give him some respite from pain, they told us to mind our own business.”

The saga of Deepak’s suffering did not end here. Despite being referred to Orthopaedics Department, he had not been admitted there till 10 pm. Finally, Deepak’s mother had to again seek the help of CNP +. Mr Jha even called up the Head of Orthopaedics Department that night, but he was not at home. “For the entire night, Deepak was lying outside in the cold, unattended and in pain. He was admitted the next morning and operated upon the next night,” said Mr Jha.

Soon after, the boy was discharged although he still seems to be in dire need of medical attention. He can’t even walk as his legs have been severely infected. Lodged at the Community Care Centre, Khuda Alisher these days, he is now battling suicidal thoughts while his family is battling poverty.

“Even the Community Centre people are telling us that they won't keep Deepak for long. I don't know how will I manage when Deepak is discharged. Where we live in Panchkula slums, there are no proper toilets. And my son can't even walk. I wish I had the money to buy him treatment and care. There are so many NGOs working in HIV sector but none has come to our aid,” said Darsha, who wants to know where all the funds being sent for the treatment and care of HIV infected persons are going.

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Women activists honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
In an effort to work towards woman empowerment, the Municipal Corporation today inaugurated a women resource centre at the mayor’s official residence. Jean Rodrigues, wife of the Governor of Punjab and UT Administrator, inaugurated the centre on the eve of International Women’s Day.

Addressing a gathering, Jean Rodrigues called upon the people to contribute in every possible way towards ensuring that the benefits of schemes and policies of the government percolated to the people at the grass-roots level. A seminar on women empowerment was also organised by the Municipal Corporation.

Addressing the gathering, mayor Harjinder Kaur said that family and career counselling would be provided to women at this centre.Vocational training and workshops and seminars on women-related issues would be held. Information on women-centric schemes being run by different departments would also be provide at this centre.

Earlier, Brahm Kumari B.K. Achal didi from the Sector 33 centre of Brahma Kumaris, Sarita Sharma an anganwadi worker, Amrit Brar, an AIG, Jaswant Kaur, president of the Baba Sheikh Farid Blood Donors Association, Anita Shabdish, a theatre personality, Madhu Sareen, a UN representative, Joginder Mukehrjee of the department of psychology from PU, Meena Ghakkar, Priyanka Sharma and Swaran Kaur, sarpanch of Khudajassu were honoured. The centre was donated five computers by the Sikh Woman Forum.

New MC numbers

The telephone numbers of the centralised complaint centre of the municipal corporation have been changed. Complaints can now be registered at 5000632 and 5000633, according to a press note issued by the MC. 

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Langah honoured

Chandigarh, March 6
The 43-B Resident Welfare Association honoured cabinet minister Sucha Singh Langah with a siropa here on Monday. His achievements were also highlighted during the ceremony. — TNS

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Drug-trafficking case: 2 held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
The operation cell of the Chandigarh Police today arrested two persons on the allegations of running an inter-state gang of drug-trafficking.

The accused, identified as Daya Singh and Kamal Singh, both in their fifties, were arrested from Bhiwani following disclosures made by four persons, who were held on Wednesday last while carrying charas. Out of those four, two were students of a local private college.

The police said the accused, held today, were supplying contraband to their peddlers and were the kingpins of drug-trafficking.

Motor cycles stolen

Vibhor Partap Chauhan of Sector 49 lodged a complaint with the police that his Hero Honda motor cycle (CH-03-J-4498) was stolen from DAV College, Sector 10, on Monday. In another incident, Sushil Kumar of NPL, Sector 26, reported to the police that his Enfield motorcycle (CH-03-Q-2911) was stolen from his residence on the night of March 4.

Two cases of thefts have been registered.

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Dairy cooperatives fail to cash in on boom in milk powder prices
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 6
Unable to cope up with the rising demand for milk and its static production, dairy cooperatives in Punjab and Haryana may not be able to cash in on the boom in milk powder prices.

Officials in the two cooperatives said that for the past three years they had been unable to produce any milk powder for retail sale. Though some quantity of milk powder would be produced by the Dairy Development Cooperative Federation, Haryana, and Milkfed, Punjab, it would be mainly for reconstitution of milk to deal with the shortage in the summer months.

Over the past two years, prices of milk powder have increased by almost 250 per cent. Till the government banned the export of milk powder last year, it was selling in the retail for Rs 130 a kg. After the export was banned a few months ago, the price of milk powder produced by the private dairy producers dropped marginally to Rs 110 per kg while price of milk powder produced by some cooperatives has remained stable at Rs 136 per kg. Comparatively, there has been a marginal increase in the price of milk. Both the state dairy cooperatives have increased the price by Re 1 per litre.

Officials in Milkfed, Punjab, said that till three years ago, they were manufacturing enough milk powder for retail sale in the eastern states and in South India. However, with the milk production having reached a plateau, they have not been able to sell milk powder in retail. “All through the last year, milk procurement by Milkfed was hit because of the heat stress in animals and increase in procurement by the private dairy producers. Even this year, the total production is around 11.5 lakh litres, which is a marginal increase of 2 per cent as compared to Mach, 2006. We have almost completed milk powder production for our buffer stock for summers, and if there is any surplus production, we might sell it in the market,” informed a senior official.

On the contrary, milk procurement by the Dairy Development Cooperative Federation, Haryana, has increased by almost 20 per cent as compared to last year. Officials say that the reason for the better procurement in Haryana is the 30 per cent increase in milk procurement rates by the state cooperative. “But we have not decided on producing milk powder for retail sale. Generally, we produce milk powder for reconstitution in the summers when there is a gap between demand and supply. So far no decision has been taken on producing milk powder for retail sale though we might consider it if the production of milk powder exceeds the buffer norms set by the cooperative,” said a top official.

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