C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Damage Control
PU to foot Eva’s medical bill
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Eva Rai, a first-year pharmacy student who was electrocuted on the Panjab University campus yesterday, woke up this morning after more than 14 hours of unconsciousness.

Doctors attending on her at Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, took her x-rays and suggested that she be kept under observation. She remains in the ICU.

Meanwhile, the university authorities took damage-control measures, with the vice-chancellor promising to give to Eva’s family financial aid needed for her treatment.

V-C Dr R.C. Sobti visited Eva in the hospital early this morning when he learnt that her condition was serious. He promised to reimburse her medical bills, while giving Rs 1,000 for immediate expenses. Director of Social Welfare Naval Kishore said: “We will get a survey done of all electricity poles on the campus and take necessary measures to ensure students’ safety,” he told this correspondent.

The authorities have posted a hostel attendant at the hospital for Eva’s help.

Two PU students were electrocuted yesterday by wires hanging from an electricity pole close to Kasturba Hall hostel. One of them was discharged from the Sector 16 hospital this afternoon.

The pole was immediately repaired last night after the news of the accident. Hostel warden Dr Archana told TNS: “I was not aware of this problem. Technically, the pole is not under our hostel jurisdiction. But had I known about live wires, I would have got the pole repaired.”

Girls in the hostel, however, said the issue had been reported.

At the hospital, Eva’s aunt, Isha Sethi, broke into tears. “Eva lost her father some time back. Her mother, who is in Rampur Bushair, is down with viral and can’t come,” she said.

Many of Eva’s hostel friends, however, visited her at the hospital.

At around 11.30 pm, Eva was taken to the critical care unit after she developed cardiac complications. 



Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
In a unique gesture, members of the Assamese Welfare Association today initiated a cleanliness drive at the Rock Garden.

Braving incessant rain, the members, including women and children, cleaned the garden for over six hours amid curious onlookers. "It was the third phase, which was the dirtiest as functions are held here,” said a member of the association.

The spirited “cleanliness brigade” went about their task unmindful of the rain and questioning glances. “The main purpose of the drive was to create awareness about cleanliness among visitors. "The sanitation staff alone cannot keep the premises clean. A small gesture can go a long way in shaping public perception about sanitation,” said association president Deepa Moni Bora.

Madhumita Tmuly, general secretary, claimed that the association, registered in April this year, would take forward today’s initiative to other places of tourist attraction.



In Basta
60 witnesses, yet cops are clueless
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Even after a lapse of 32 months and examination of over 60 witnesses, the Chandigarh Police is yet to solve the blind murder of 74-year-old Sundri Agnihotri, a retired joint director of the education department, Himachal Pradesh. She was brutally done to death in the drawing room of her Sector-21 house on December 25, 2004.

The investigation into the killing has hit a roadblock, even after a re-examination of the suspects involved. The case is with the crime branch.

The murder came to light when the victim’s husband, V.K.Agnihotri, saw his wife lying motionless on the floor.The body was covered with a quilt and the victim’s throat was slit. A piece of rope near the body indicated that the victim had been strangled. Agnihotri called the doctors from a private hospital, who declared the victim dead. The matter was reported to the police in the evening. Soonafter, the victim’s servant, Prakash Lakra, and his family members were found missing.

In February this year, in the columns of the Tribune, Col R.K. Agnihotri, the victim’s son, pointed out serious lapses in the probe and alleged that “superficial investigation, a weak follow-up, mindless interrogation and absence of professional investigative acumen” was why the police had failed to crack the case.

The IG, in a communication to the newspaper, said the police was making all efforts in the case and directed his officials to inform Colonel Agnihotri about the case progress.

The police said the analysis of the DNA profile of the plastic strip with which the victim was strangled could not yield any result. No record of incoming or outgoing calls from the landline telephone installed at the victim’s residence was found. The fingerprints lifted from the spot and hair samples did not match with that of suspects. The victim’s missing mobile phone could not be traced.

The police maintained that the suspects, Prakash Lakra, and his relative, Yaqoob Minz, were subjected to sustained interrogation and a lie-detector test.

But nothing could be found. Besides the duo, the police interrogated more than 55 suspects, including plumber Pramod, carpet seller Ishitiaq, caterers Dalip and Rakesh, electrician Joginder, and one Bhola. Manmari, the maid-servant, and her son, could not be traced. A police official said in the absence of any fresh clue, they could not do much in the case.



Mallika Sarabhai still on a mission
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
There’s fire in her eyes - the fire of desire to mend the wrongs, to seal the wounds, to change the world. For Mallika Sarabhai, the celebrated daughter of Vikram and Mrinalini Sarabhai, art is activism. And she lets it remain that.

“Why should I be either of the two? I would rather be an artist and activist at the same time,” says the lanky Mallika, back in Chandigarh with what she’s best known for -- purposeful theatre.

“Unsuni” is a piece about people who smile in the face of odds and struggle for their space in the sunshine. Based on Harsh Mander’s book “Unheard Voices”, it profiles five people from across India.

“I spent one and a half year trying to find a device to say what I wanted to. It was also challenging to choose characters as the original book has 25 of them. The play is finally structured in the form of five monologues, with people telling their own stories. The element of realism, thus, stays intact,” says Mallika, sitting tall in the studio theatre of friend Neelam Mansingh, on whose invitation she is here.

The play will be presented tomorrow and the day after at the Department of Indian Theatre, PU, at 3 pm and 7 pm.

As regards content, it sounds striking, as Mallika explains: “The play is sensitive as it’s inspired by reality. It is about people who are still alive. We have even performed this piece to people about whom it is. There was one street child, who broke into tears after watching the show. He said he wanted to open a facility to train others like him. That’s the power of theatrical language. It impacts.”To Mallika, thus, “Unsuni” is special, as is Harsha Mander, who has inspired it. “Harsh and I came together post-Godhra riots. He is the IAS officer who resigned due to the Gujarat government’s inaction following the tragedy. We connected immediately,” Mallika says, on how she came in contact with Mander.

At present, the actor-dancer-choreographer is working on another piece titled “Swakranti” (The revolution within). “This one has a lot of digital technology. It was born out of my encounters with RSS radicals, who threatened to kill me. They would throw bombs at my institute, Darpana. All this and more inspires “Swakranti”, which reflects my Gandhian spirit and philosophy,” she says.

At the personal level, Mallika is investing heavily into what she calls “The Unsuni voluntary movement”, where she uses theatre and her website to invite voluntary help for others. “The project is working well. There are people who have offered to teach slum children, schools that have opened parallel institutes for beggars and much else.

The success of this project reaffirms the goodness of man,” says Mallika, who took her Ph.D in management from IIM Ahmedabad, before moving on to explore varied mediums for creative expression.



This policy planner makes music too
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Policy planning and music making do not normally go hand in hand. But for Swapna Mukhopadhyay (60), the eldest and the only woman member of Delhi Symphony Orchestra, both are imperatives for life, because both add purpose to it.

It has, however, not been easy for Swapna, an economist and visiting professor at the National Institute of Finance and Policy, to time find time for her passion and do justice to her profession as well.

In her long career as an academician and consultant to UN organisations, there has hardly been time for music. It’s only now, after more than four decades of professional existence across the world, that Swapna has homed in to the violin.

“I took my first lessons in the violin at school. But it was not easy to pursue the passion, being part of a conservative Bengali family, which was always keen on academic qualification. I was good at studies. Despite trying my best not to top, I always would. No wonder I went farther away from my passion and towards economics,” says Swapna, who did her masters in economics from Calcutta University and her doctorate at the MIT where she had a fellowship.

As she went from strength to strength - heading a human resource mobilisation programme for the UN at Kaula Lumpur, consulting the ILO, teaching at the Institute of Social Studies Trust, and Institute for Economic Growth in Delhi - she carried the violin dream along.

“But there was never enough time to train well in the nuances of the violin or recall old, pressing melodies. But I kept trying and hoping for peaceful settlement so that I could get on with my passion. It came much later than I had expected,” says Swapna, author of a book titled “The Enigma of the Kerala Women: Field Promise of Literacy”.

Swapna is now finally devoting a lot of time to the violin and is hitting the orchestra circuits more often than expected. Tonight at the Bhargava auditorium in PGI, she gave her first performance as part of the Delhi Symphony Orchestra. And she hopes to hit many more ‘scales’ of performance, with support from husband Badal Mukherjee, who retired as director, Delhi School of Economics.



This water-logged subway is commuters’ nightmare
Rajay Deep

Chandigarh, August 12
Poor drainage system at the subway connecting Sectors 11 and 15 has made it an accident-prone area.

In fact, the tall claims of the UT administration regarding the drainage system have been exposed at the subway. Water logging at the underpass makes every two-wheeler rider turn the vehicle back in violation of the traffic rules.

The subway, meant for public convenience, becomes a cause of traffic violations in the rainy season every year. Reaching the water-logged area, two-wheeler riders take a U-turn which results in traffic chaos on this subway road. Nothing has been done so far to solve the poor-drainage problem, with the authorities concerned turning a blind eye towards the problem.

On the issue of traffic rules violations, Rahul Baghla, a motorcyclist, said, “I do not violate traffic rules but it seems risky to cross the subway in this condition”.

During a visit to the subway, it was found that the area had become like a pond. Water congestion had become a serious problem as two-wheeler riders turn back, causing inconvenience to the vehicles coming from the right direction. Employees of the petrol pump, near the subway, say that water logging in the area has done a great deal of damage also to the underlying road. Regular leakage from the water pipes passing through the bridge also becomes a problem for the users of the subway. A big pothole has been created on the low-lying road due to this leakage.“It is really a careless attitude on the part of the authorities as no corrective step has been taken till now”, said Varun Juneja, a Panjab University student.

Accepting the issue of drainage problem, UT chief engineer V K Bhardwaj said, “We will definitely do something to remove the problem but it will be done only when other subways are designed.”



UT gets more helpful to tourists
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The Union Territory is all set to get a 24-hour tourism enquiry number that would handle queries relating to the timing and facilities offered at tourist places, among other services.

The Department of Tourism has appointed ‘Top Gear’, a local agency, to handle the ‘infoline’, which would handle queries round-the-clock.

Confirming this, director of Tourism Department Vivek Atray said, “We have asked the company to seek a telephone number that can be memorised easily and this number will be announced later this week. The centre will be equipped to handle queries of sightseers from all over the country.”

The centre will address queries pertaining to tourist places including Rock Garden, museums, theatres and art galleries, among others. The enquiry would also help people with information about the bus, train and air services to the city.



Coca Cola workers flay company
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The workers of Coca Cola working under the franchise of M/s Chandigarh Bottling Company demanded the implementation of labour laws in a conference held at Sector 30, Cheema Bhavan, today.

General secretary of CITU, Chandigarh, Ashwani said the company was trying to avoid direct recruitments by appointing the employees through the franchise. He alleged that though the company was minting money by selling flavoured water, it was not even ready to pay minimum wages. He said the Chandigarh Bottling Company had signed a settlement with the union in presence of labour authorities, but they had not implemented the same.

The conference unanimously elected an 11-member-working committee that includes Raghu Nath as president and Des Raj Pathania as general secretary. 



Power trips, so does residents’ patience
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The Electricity Department surely seems to be testing the patience of the residents of Sector 22-B with the regular tripping afflicting the area.

After the residents spent the entire Friday night without electricity, the supply remained erratic today also.

Reacting sharply, residents today ‘gheraoed’ the electricity office in the area and raised slogans against the department. Official sources confirmed that the problem existed in certain parts of the sector.

Area councillor Pradeep Chhabra said the problem had been brought to the notice of the officials concerned several times, however, to no avail.

The residents of a part of Sector 10-D also complained of regular tripping of power for the past one week. They complained that there was no power for more than three hours on Friday night and the supply remained suspended for more than two hours on Saturday night. 



Hooda on stone-laying spree
Tribune News Service

Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and deputy chief minister Chander Mohan take a round of the Herbal Garden in Panchkula after its inauguration on Sunday.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and deputy chief minister Chander Mohan take a round of the Herbal Garden in Panchkula after its inauguration on Sunday. — A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, August 12
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, who was on a foundation stone laying and inauguration spree, today set rolling as many as eight projects in the city including three office buildings, parks and a community centre.

His visit began with laying the foundation stone of the State Election Commission office building followed by that of the Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency in Sector 17 and that of the Haryana Electronics Development Corporation Limited (HARTRON) in Sector 2.

Hooda said that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed with 10 independent power producers to set up 31 renewable energy power projects so as to generate 697 MW of power with an investment of Rs 3,300 crore.

The Chief Minister, who was interacting with officers of department after laying the foundation stone of ‘Akshay Urja Bhawan' said that these projects would be based on biomass, small hydro units and wind. The renewable energy power projects are likely to be commissioned by mid-2009. These, he said, would be in addition to the steps being taken to increase power generation through conventional methods.

Deputy chief minister Chander Mohan, who accompanied the Chief Minister, said that the department has implemented a special project to install 1489 solar energy based street lighting systems in the districts of Ambala, Panchkula and Yamunanagar.

The Chief Minister also laid the foundation stone of the building of Haryana State Electronics Development Corporation to be constructed over an area of 33,000 sq ft in Panchkula at a cost of Rs 5 crore. This office building will be equipped with a computer lab, training lab and data centre and have all modern amenities.

The Chief Minister, who also inaugurated the extension of the herbal garden set up in Sector 26 at a cost of Rs 45 lakh, directed the officers of Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to prepare a proposal for setting up of a lake along the Ghaggar in Sector 25, 26 and 27 of Panchkula on the pattern of Sukhna lake of Chandigarh.

Earlier, Hooda also inaugurated a community centre at Sector 26 at a cost of Rs 46 lakh.

He also laid the foundation stone of a modern "Nirvachan Sadan" to be constructed at a cost of Rs 2.18 crore. The building will be completed within a year and would house the office of the State Election Commission. The Chief Minister also inaugurated the complex of 280 houses constructed by housing society of PGIMER, Chandigarh in Sector 20 here. 



Limited success in commercial production of aero spares
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
While substantial progress has been made by Air Force establishments in manufacturing critical spare parts for its AN-32 transport aircraft, commercial exploitation had met with only limited success. This has led to the overall effectiveness of the indigenisation efforts being diluted.

The major share of indigenisation of spares for the AN-32 is being done by the Maintenance Command’s Base Repair Depots (BRD) located in Chandigarh and Kanpur.

The BDR in Chandigarh is responsible for overhauling AN-32 engines while the one at Kanpur deals with airframes and avionics.

Audit examination of the indigenisation programme has revealed that till 2006, as many as 3,202 mandatory and automatic replenishment system (ARS) items of non-complex design had been indigenised at Kanpur.

Supply orders worth about Rs 11 crore for 335 lines of spares were placed on various private firms. As on June 2006, of the aforementioned orders placed, 197 lines of spares valued at Rs 3.62 crore ordered during 2003-06 were yet to be received.

Against the indigenisation target of 1,900 spares during 2001-06, the BRD at Chandigarh indigenised 2,011 spares. Audit observed that in 2004-05, 78 orders covering 86 items were placed, out of which 48 orders were yet to materialise.

In 2005-06, 395 orders covering 436 items were placed, out of which 341 orders were still hanging fire.

After the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union, the armed forces faced serious problems in procuring equipment and spares from the eastern block through the nineties. A major impetus was given to indigenous production.

Indigenisation of spares is critical to reducing reliance on foreign suppliers. As such, this was an important task to be undertaken in the context of this aircraft, where problems were being faced in sourcing sparse from the original aircraft manufacturer or foreign suppliers, the Comptroller and Auditor-General (CAG) had observed in its latest report.

Noting that the efforts of the IAF and the technology developed did not have the desired impact as the same could not be commercially exploited, the CAG has recommended that indigenisation of spares should be adequately supported with funds and resources as well as followed up with adequate commercial exploitation.



194 complaints redressed at police camp
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
DSP KIP Singh disposed off 194 complaints in a complaint redressal camp organised at Sector 34 police station, here today.

All the Station House Officers of South sub-division along with the complainants, respondents and enquiry officials were present at the camp, which was held from 10 am to 4 pm, for on-the-spot disposal of long pending complaints.

The police personnel said around 500 persons attended the camp and discussed their grievances with the DSP. Among the 194 complaints, 28 were of cheating, 39 of threatening, 47 pertained to harassment, 11 were matrimonial disputes, 12 were assault plaints and six were property-related.



UT sewage flowing into Punjab villages
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Sewage emanating from the city is being ‘passed on’ to the residents of Punjab. The highly contaminated discharge is flowing down towards the villages of Punjab and affects thousands of persons who live downstream the natural seasonal rivulets through which the sewage is pushed out.

It is not that the Chandigarh administration or the Chandigarh municipal corporation lack the infrastructure to treat the sewage. The sewage treatment plants set up at a cost of crores of rupees are either unoperational or working at minimal capacity, say sources.

Pollution Board officials claim that over 70 per cent of the sewage generated from the city was being drained out without being treated. “The delay on the part of the administration to ensure treatment of the entire discharge generated from the city is proving costly for the residents of neighbouring areas in Punjab”, said an official of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

A treatment plant run by the administration at Raipur Khurd is unoperational. A visit to the plant revealed that the machinery was out of order since July 7. The plant, inaugurated in July 2007 by the adviser to the UT Administrator, is meant to treat the sewage generated from all the villages in its vicinity.

The over 20-year old Diggian treatment plant (Mohali) with a capacity to treat 30 MGD of sewage is treating less than 15 MGD due to the augmentation work going on. The municipal corporation plans to increase the capacity of the plant to 45 MGD, which is already a bone of contention between PUDA and the Chandigarh municipal corporation as it was now surrounded by residential and industrial areas, posing health hazards.

Another treatment plant of 25 MGD capacity in Sector 47, adjoining the 3 BRD Air Force station, is yet to be commissioned. Another treatment plant at Raipur Kalan was, however, functional.



Villager electrocuted
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 12
Ramzan (75), a resident of Dabhori village in Ramgarh, today was electrocuted after coming in contact with a live wire. Sources said that Ramzan was out grazing his cattle when he touched a broken high tension wire dangling from a pole. He was found dead by the villagers.



A week gone, damaged road still not repaired
Tribune News Service

A part of the road which caved in at Phase XI in Mohali.
A part of the road which caved in at Phase XI in Mohali. — Tribune photo by Vicky Gharu

Mohali, August 12
Residents of Phase XI here are up in arms against the officials of the public health department who they allege are taking ages to repair a ditch on the B-road that leads into the sector from the main road.

A part of the road had caved in almost a week ago leaving behind a pit measuring 15 feet by 20 feet. The road had to be closed for commuters as it had been rendered unsafe.

Sohan Singh, president of Mohali Citizen’s Welfare Council, Phase XI, stated that the road caved in because of the bursting of the main sewer line. He pointed out that it was the sixth time the road had caved in at this point. “Earlier, this had happened in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2006,” he said.

He added that the fact that the problem happens almost every year shows the apathy of the public health department. “The work is going too slow and the junior engineer on duty says there are no funds,” he said.



Tribune assistant manager bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Paragu Devi, mother of Ashok Kumar Bhatti, assistant manager, Press, died today at the PGI here after a brief illness.

She was 85. She is survived by two sons and two daughters.

She was cremated at her native village, Jadali, in Solan district today.



No action taken

The condition of roads in Sector-7 is too pitiable to explain. Particularly, the portion of road starting from the entry point of the sector from Fountain Chowk. A few days ago, a school bus broke its axle. Water standing in the pits emanates foul smell, which is a great nuisance to nearby residents. Some untoward incident is also waiting to happen. The residents have been requesting the M.C officials for repairs, but are getting the same reply “estimates have been submitted.”

In spite of repeated requests being made to temporarily fill the potholes, nothing seems to be done by the concerned authorities.

Some positive action should be taken to improve the condition of the roads at the earliest.

J.K. Mago, Panchkula.

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



Checking drive carried out in wake of I-Day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
A special checking drive was carried out at the Inter-state Bus Terminus (ISBT) Sector 17, in the wake of Independence Day, here today.

During the drive, 48 bottles of illicit liquor were seized and a Shimla resident, Bhola Dutt Sharma, was arrested in this connection. During the special checking drive, the police also rounded up 30 persons, who were later released after verifying their credentials.

Meanwhile, Sharma told the police that he was supposed to get off at another station but he fell asleep and woke up only when the bus had reached ISBT. A case under the Excise Act has been registered against him.

Caught stealing

M.M. Sharma of Sector 15 alleged that Bahadur Singh of Khuda Lahora village was caught red-handed while stealing an iron window, an electric box and sanitary material from Tagore Model School on Sunday afternoon. The accused was handed over to the police and a case has been registered.


Varinder Kaur, a resident of Sector 44, alleged that an unidentified pedestrian snatched her gold chain from Sector 44 around 3 pm on Sunday. A case has been registered.

Scooter stolen

Ashwani Kumar Sharma of Sector 18-C reported to the police that his scooter (CH-03-C-7923) was stolen from Sector 17 on Saturday. A case of theft has been registered.


Bhutu Ram, an accountant, Law Bhavan, Sector 37 lodged a complaint with the police that money was stolen from an almirah at the Bhavan on Saturday night. The exact loss is yet to be ascertained. A case has been registered. In another incident, Kaushalya Rani of Sector 38-C complained to the police that her purse containing Rs 7,000 cash, three tolas gold and documents was stolen form her car (CH-03-C-3174), which was parked at sabzi mandi, Sector 43, on Saturday. A case has been registered.

Held for quarrelling

Babu Khan and Manoj Singh of Daria village were arrested for allegedly quarrelling at a public place on Sunday afternoon near Shiv Motor in the village. A case under Section 160 of the IPC has been registered.



Six held for trespass
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The police today arrested a Kurukshetra resident along with five others for allegedly taking forcible possession of a showroom by locking it. The showroom was given on rent to an educational institute. The police said the accused, Narinder Kumar, had a dispute over the property with his relative.

The police said a case of trespassing, blocking the way, theft and criminal conspiracy under Sections 341, 448, 380 and 120-B of the IPC had been registered on a complaint filed by Kailash Sharma, managing director of A.K. Vidya Mandir. The police arrested Narinder Kumar along with his five accomplices in this connection. Their seventh accomplice is still at large.

Sharma told TNS that he had taken SCO 24-25 in Sector 9 on rent from Ashok Kumar and others to run a coaching centre. He took the premises into his possession on July 15 this year and carried out renovation work. He had signed an agreement with Ashok in June and the possession was given much after the stipulated time. The classes were being held in the building since August 1.

“The incident came to light this morning when Hardial Singh, a caretaker of his institute, rang me up and informed that some persons were blocking the way of our employees and had also put locks on the shutters. They were also applying fresh paint on the display boards of the institute,” said Sharma. 



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