C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Alcohol-laced beverages land Mocha in soup
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
In a shocking incident, the UT Excise Department today found employees of Mocha Coffee, a popular outlet in Sector 26 here, mixing alcohol in beverages being served to their customers.

Frequented by youngsters, the outlet, a franchise of Mocha outlets, serves a wide variety of coffee and flavoured hookahs.

At the time of the raid, the hospitality staff in the outlet’s pantry section was found mixing intoxicants in the beverages ordered by customers, mostly youngsters, said excise and taxation commissioner R.K. Rao.

“We conducted the raid as we had some definite information. Bottles of alcohol were found at the outlet,” he said. A number of youngsters below 25 years were found there. The supervisor of the café, Vyomesh Kumar, was arrested.

Bottles of rum, wine and whiskey were found in the outlet, which does not possess an excise licence. As per the law, even a bar licencee is not allowed to serve liquor to persons below 25 years. To verify the customers’ age, the excise department took away their identity cards.

Meanwhile, it has been learnt that more such outlets in the city were also being checked.

Till late evening, the café was being searched for other intoxicants. An excise official said alcohol was mixed with Irish Coffee that was served to the customers. A sample of tobacco being used in the hookahs was also taken to check the nicotine level and presence of any other intoxicants. The samples would be sent to the laboratory for testing.

After the seizure, the police took the bottles into custody and a case under Section 61 of the Excise Act was registered against the outlet’s owner. Various other violations of the law were being checked.



Ultimate Dilemma
Two teachers hired against same post
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
Officials in the education department often go to any length to get their favourite teachers hired through influence or “sifarish”. Students are the ultimate sufferers in all this.

In a bizarre turn of events, perhaps for the first time in the history of the department two teachers have been appointed by the vocational wing against the same post and told to teach alternative months.

Hardly had the first teacher established a rapport with students than she was told to vacate the post for next month. Reason: A “chosen one” had been adjusted against the same post.

Shaista was appointed to Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 32, against part-time teacher for textile designing and printing on July 17 by the department.

Barely a month into her appointment i.e. on August 13, Gurjeet Kaur Marwaha was hired against the same post on similar terms and conditions.

The department ordered that both would teach alternative months and would be paid accordingly.

They have been hired to teach for a maximum period of 60 hours every month @ Rs 60 per hour or a maximum of Rs 3,600 per month.

School principal Anil Sharma admitted that the arrangement was not in the interest of students.

“What can I do? Vocational heads in the department have made the arrangement. It always takes time to establish an understanding between teacher and students. How will they do justice to students in such an arrangement. It is beyond anyone’s comprehension. The ultimate sufferers are students.”

Parents of the students rued that the school had been facing a shortage of fine arts teacher and the principal had brought this to the notice of the authorities concerned on numerous occasions but in vain.

“They have sent a teacher for the subject for which a teacher is already there.

Our immediate concern is for 26 children of fine arts in class XI and XII who are without a teacher. With the appointment of this teacher, the department has disturbed another class too,” said Sharma.



Free bus service in Mohali?
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, September 15
At a time when everything has to be paid for and anything that is given for free comes as a bait for prospective customers, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is considering a proposal to start a free bus service in the town.

Although such a service for public may sound unusual in the state, the authorities are keenly pursuing the prospects. The authorities are studying a similar service in Ahmedabad and feel that free bus service may soon become a reality here.

During a recent visit to Ahmedabad, a team of GMADA officials learned about the Ahmedabad Urban Development Authority entering into an agreement with M/s Selvel Media Services (P) Ltd to provide free bus service on certain routes.

A copy of the agreement executed between the two was procured as GMADA wanted to explore the possibility of providing a similar bus service in Mohali.

A meeting to discuss various issues related to the proposal was held at the office of chief administrator (GMADA) Krishan Kumar on September 10.

Additional chief administrator, chief engineer, DTO, executive officer of the municipal council and divisional town planner also attended the meeting.



One more gastro death
Rahul Das
Tribune News Service

Ambala, September 15
One more person died of suspected gastroenteritis, taking the death toll to four even as the number of patients hospitalised went up to 67.

Virender Kumar, a resident of Teli Mandi, died today. His family members said he was suffering from diarrhoea.

Deputy commissioner, Ambala, Mohammad Shayin visited different areas, including Old Aloo Godam, Khatik Mandi, Balmiki Basti and Teli Mandi, to take stock of the situation.

Mohammad Shayin said the diarrhoea patients would be treated free of cost.

“If there is further requirement, then patients can be accommodated in the Army rest house, which is adjacent to the civil hospital,” he said.



Hit-and-run case
CTU mechanic killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
In a hit-and-run case, a 35-year-old man was killed in a road accident near the housing board chowk, Manimajra, last night. He was rushed to the PGI, where doctors declared him dead.

The victim has been identified as Sunil Tiwari, a CTU mechanic and resident of Sector 10, Panchkula. The accident took place at around 10 pm when a vehicle hit the victim’s motor cycle. His head was injured severally in the mishap.

A case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC has been registered against the unidentified driver.



Info panel ‘shielding’ erring officials
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh Sahib,September 15
The State Information Commission (SIC), constituted to check the violation of the Right to Information Act (RTI) by government officials and to penalise erring bureaucrats, has itself been accused of shielding officers who have failed to provide information under the law.

G.S. Swadeshi, a retired government official, has alleged that the commission, instead of penalising the officials of the Sirhindi-Fatehgarh Sahib municipal council who had withheld the information sought by him, had refused to take action against them.

Swadeshi stated that the council took over four years to approve the building plans of the house that he wanted to construct.

Disheartened by the unprecedented delay, he sought information from the council under the RTI asking them to explain the delay in approving the building plans.

He said in spite of repeated attempts, the council did not provide information for at least five months and even the answers that were finally given were unsatisfactory.

He decided to approach the SIC seeking action against the council officials who allegedly withheld the information.

“Though the information I asked for was to be provided within the stipulated 30-day period, the council took five months in violation of the RTI,” he said.

After holding several hearings into the case, the SIC refused to penalise the council officials on grounds that the complainant was not present for the last hearing and it was presumed that he was satisfied with the information provided to him.

Swadeshi, however, claimed that he could not attend the hearing due to some exigency and in spite of having informed the SIC in advance, this was not taken into account by the commission.

While he asked the commission to reconsider its decision, the SIC asked him to file a fresh petition in this regard.



Diamond jubilee of Western Command 
Tributes paid to martyrs
Tribune News Service

Buglers sound the last post to pay tributes at the Veer Smriti war memorial marking Western Command’s diamond jubilee at Chandi Mandir on Saturday.
Buglers sound the last post to pay tributes at the Veer Smriti war memorial marking Western Command’s diamond jubilee at Chandi Mandir on Saturday.— Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, September 15
A solemn memorial-cum-wreath laying ceremony and the Army Commanders’ conclave marked the commemoration of the diamond jubilee of the Western Command at Chandimandir military station today.

It was on this day 60 years ago that the Western Command was established in Delhi.

Wreaths were laid at the Western Command war memorial, Veer Smriti, by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt-Gen Daljeet Singh along with Jammu and Kashmir Governor, Lt-Gen S.K. Sinha (retd), Punjab Governor, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) and several former Western Army Commanders.

Both governors had served as the Western Command chiefs.

The memorial service commenced with religious teachers from different faiths chanting prayers for the eternal peace of the departed souls.

The somber notes of patriotic songs like “Deh Shiva Var Mohe” and the classic “Aye mere watan ke logon” resounded amid the serene environment of the war memorial.

As floral tributes were paid to the fallen soldiers, a ceremonial guard reversed arms while buglers sounded the Last Post followed by the Rouse.

A large number of officers and other ranks attended the ceremony.

Several formations commanders based in different parts of the region were also present.

Later, as many as nine former Army Commanders, including General Sinha, General Rodrigues, Lt-Gen H. Kaul, Lt-Gen R.K. Gulati, Lt-Gen H.B. Kala, Lt-Gen Vijay Oberoi, Lt-Gen Surjit Singh, Lt-Gen S.S. Mehta and Lt-Gen S. Pattabhiraman along with their wives attended the conclave.

An audio visual presentation was screened, showing the evolution of the Western Command since its raising.

A coffee table book, pictorially showcases the history of the Western Command, was also unveiled.

A special first day cover to mark the diamond jubilee was released by General Sinha.

On the occasion, the Army also honoured K.L. Dutta, who had served as the personal assistant to the first chief of the Western Command soon after it was raised.

Its first Indian chief Lt-Gen (later Field Marshal) K.M. Carriappa rose to become the first Indian commander-in-chief of the Army.



Health ministry to open 3,000 blood storage centres
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Dr Debashish Gupta
Dr Debashish Gupta

Chandigarh, September 15
The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) is all set to ensure wider accessibility of blood for people across the country.

To achieve this target, which is one of the priorities under the National AIDS Control Policy (NACP III), the health ministry has decided to open 3,000 blood storage centres at the level of community health centres. Every capital city will also have model blood banks, each equipped to cater to 20,000 units of blood annually.

Dr Debashish Gupta, national programme officer, blood safety division, NACO, today told The Tribune that these blood storage centres would be opened at the level of first referral units where maximum demand of blood surfaces.

In Chandigarh to chair a two-day regional review meeting on blood safety in the 10 northern states, which concluded today, Dr Gupta said the blood storage centres would finally be linked to an unbreakable blood supply chain.

For this, NACO has provided 500 refrigerated vans for transport of collected blood units, he said. One van would cater to six storage centres.

Under the NACP III, the blood safety component of HIV is being monitored in a big way and the primary targets of the programme include improvement in blood unit accessibility, its volume and quality.

To increase the volume of blood, NACO has directed the states to have one blood bank in every district.

“We plan to have 39 blood banks in 39 districts of the recently carved out states like Uttarakhand, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

Besides, our focus under the NACP III will be improvement in voluntary blood donation,” Dr Gupta said, referring to early 1990s when only 10 per cent of the blood collected in India was through voluntary donation.

The percentage now is 56, but needs to be taken to 100.

The voluntary blood donation movement is pegged on the fact that voluntary blood is safe.

Those indulging in high-risk behaviour will normally not donate blood voluntarily.

“Infections through transfusion need to be minimised and for that we need to train blood bank staff, besides ensuring compliance with blood safety standards at the blood banks. We have been receiving reports of money exchanging hands at the time of blood donation. Professional blood donation is still a reality and we have to act fast to curb it,” Dr Gupta admitted.

Under the present regulation, it is mandatory for the blood banks to certify before issuing the blood to anyone that the blood being issued is tested and is found free from five infections - HIV, Hepatitis B virus, Hepatitis C virus, VDRL (sexually transmitted infection) and malaria. In case of professional blood donation, however, proper screening can’t be ensured.

Yet another objective of the NACP III is blood component separation, which is yet to come of age in India. Just about 20 per cent of the licensed blood banks with NACO are equipped to separate blood components, which continue to be wasted.

The ministry of health has now decided to upgrade more medical colleges in the country for the purpose of blood component separation.



MC onslaught on trees continues 
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, September 15
Less than a month after the Chandigarh municipal corporation drew flak for laying sewers alongside the Sector 27-28 dividing road at the cost of trees growing in the area, another similar situation has come to light in Sector 30.

This time, Arjun trees, growing parallel to the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) complex in Sector 30, are bearing the brunt of a task being undertaken by the MC’s public health wing. The entire row of precious herbal trees has become vulnerable due to the digging work being undertaken parallel to the row of greens. Although the trees are not being axed, they are being weakened due to direct damage to roots.

Last time, too, Chandigarh Tribune had highlighted how while laying sewers in Sectors 27 and 28, labourers had dug six-feet deep and six-feet wide parallel to the row of Arjun trees, affecting their roots. Horticulturists had expressed deep concern over the project saying that damage to roots was sure to weaken the trees to the extent that the trees would not be able to survive the next storm. The work had been halted following public outcry.

At the CSIO, now, it’s the same situation again, where scores of full-grown Arjun trees await destruction due to improper planning and execution of a public health job. Last time, the life of as many as 82 Arjun trees was at stake. It may be mentioned that Arjun trees take about 60 years to reach maturity and no amount of replacement plantation can substitute the loss of dense cover they provide.

Horticulturists, when contacted, today said roots of the trees needed to be protected at all costs. It was through the roots that trees derived their nutrition. Damage to roots would cause starvation among trees which would fall in due course of time.



Mansa Devi shrine area cleared of encroachments
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 15
In a joint anti-encroachment drive, the Haryana Urban Development Authority and the PWD (B&R) department today cleared encroachments around the Mansa Devi Shrine complex, here today.

The drive, undertaken as a part of the exercise to spruce up the complex for the forthcoming Navrata mela, saw demolition of unauthorised rooms apart from the sheds erected to extend area of the shops and ‘pharis’.

At 10.30 am, HUDA enforcement staff, led by five JEs, and an SDO of the PWD, arrived for operation clean-up in the area. Though DC Rajinder Kataria had warned the shopkeepers about today’s drive, the enforcement staff again gave them time to clear the encroachments. The drive finally began around noon after the shopkeepers had cleared the area of their possessions.

However, when the drive did get underway, the staff had to face resistance from traders who had constructed unauthorised rooms. Arguing, they maintained that they had not been informed about the drive and had not been given enough time to dismantle their sheds. Meanwhile, the JCB razed down three rooms amidst heavy police deployment. This was followed by bringing down as many as 50 extensions of tin sheds made by shopkeepers to encroach upon public land.

Simultaneously, the PWD (B&R) staff cleared encroachments on their side of the road while taking away the 25-odd ‘pharis’ to discourage the vendors from returning.

DC Kataria, who visited the spot along with SDM Saket Kumar, issued a stern warning to the shopkeepers to stay within their shop limits and restrain from encroaching upon public land. He asked HUDA officials to fence the area that had been cleared and ensure regular follow-ups.

In the drive that carried on till about 3 pm, the enforcement staff also cleared encroachments in the corridors of booths allotted by HUDA. The biggest violator here was a ‘dhaba’ owner who had extended his area up to 20 feet. The staff took away three LPG cylinders. The shopkeepers were warned to keep off HUDA land, failing which their items and ‘parshad’ would be seized.



Bhakhra main line closure
Ban to check water misuse
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 15
In the backdrop of the Bhakhra main line closing for repairs from October 10, the Department of Public Health has imposed a ban on watering of lawns, gardens and washing of vehicles for a 15-day period.

Three flying squad teams have been constituted to check the misuse of water and these have been authorised to take action in case of violations. Water usage would also be checked at common stand posts, general toilets and government institutions.

Executive engineer Avtar Singh Kalsi today said during the closure of the Bhakhra main line there would be shortage of drinking water in Mohali as it supplies as much as 72 pc water to the township.

He added that while the Bhakhra main line would be was closed, the MCC would lift 50-60 mgd of raw water from the canal bed by installing pumping machinery and erecting temporary power grid at its own level. Out of the water lifted, Mohali would get only 5-7 mgd water daily. To supplement the available quantity of water, 10 of the 55 discarded tubewells would be made functional. He said the department would try to provide water for six to eight hours daily during the time of crisis. 



Zero tolerance against corrupt cops: SSP

Chandigarh, September 15
In the wake of arrest of several policemen by the CBI on corruption charge, new senior superintendent of police S.S. Srivastava today advocated “zero tolerance” approach against such officials with a view to making the city “crime-free”.Addressing a crime review meeting here today, the SSP warned police officials against indulging in corruption. “Strict action will be taken against any police official found guilty of corruption,” Srivastava warned.

The police officials were directed to chalk out a strategy to tackle drug-related crime, and cases of snatching and motor vehicle theft in the city. The SSP emphasised that organised crime like gambling, drug peddling and bootlegging should be curbed at all costs. — TNS



Docs struggle to normalise Virk’s BP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The blood pressure of former Punjab DGP S.S. Virk is yet to be brought under control even after five days of his admission to the PGI. Doctors treating him said the stress could be one of the reasons behind the problem.

The former DGP was arrested by the Punjab police on Sunday and was admitted to the Civil Hospital, Mohali. The authorities referred him to the PGI the next day after his blood pressure shot up.

The working of his heart needs to be assessed in addition to bringing his blood pressure under control, said the doctors at the PGI. Virk will undergo thallium stress test as well as CT scan for the stone in gall bladder at the PGI, said sources.

The test is conducted to assess the functioning of the heart and condition of arteries supplying blood to the heart. The test will be carried out after Wednesday, as the hospital is expected to receive nuclear material required for the test by then, the sources added.



Lawyers, villagers participate in tree plantation drive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
More than 250 lawyers and villagers, led by Justice Surya Kant, Justice Mahesh Grover, Justice Rajesh Bindal of Punjab and Haryana High Court, and Hawa Singh Hooda, advocate-general of Haryana, took part in a tree plantation programme at Khuda Ali Sher village in Chandigarh today.

Organised by Asia Pacific Jurist Association, Yuvsatta and Gram Panchayat, Khuda Ali Sher, over 150 saplings of indigenous varieties like neem, peepal, banyan, asoka were planted at Ambedkar Stadium and other places in the village.

Speaking on the occasion, Justice Surya Kant quoted poet William Wordsworth, “It’s my belief that every leave breathes” and to promote our well-being, he said, we should protect the lives of trees. Wherever possible, we should make every effort to plant and protect trees. To this end, we, individually and with the help of others, should respect and protect the Earth’s amazing web of life, its soil, water, air, plants and living creatures, we all have to act as trustees of our planet he said.

Addressing the villagers present on the occasion, Hawa Singh Hooda stressed that trees can live without men but men cannot live without trees. Global climate change, fluctuating temperatures, extreme weather patterns and decreasing rainfall is all because of dwindling tree resource, he added.

Atul Lakhanpal, secretary-general of APJA, was of the view that every drop of water should be saved to increase the decreasing green cover. 



500 examined at eye camp
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
More than 500 patients, mostly from lower sections of society, were examined and about 100 patients were selected for surgery during a free eye check-up camp at Lakshmi Narayan Dharamshala, Sector 20, here today.

The camp was organised by the Lakshmi Narayan Manav Kalyan Sabha and Sai Tara Ummat Foundation in collaboration with Garewal Eye Institute, Chandigarh.

Free medicines were given to the patients for whom IND-SWIFT Pharmaceutical Company also donated medicines. While Dr Ravi Inder Singh from Mukat Hospital treated the patients for ENT problems, Dr Sonica from Dabur provided general treatment with ayurveda medicines.

Pawan Kumar Bansal, union minister of state for finance, who inaugurated the camp, honoured the participants.



Engineers’ Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
The 40th Engineers’ Day was celebrated today on the premises of the Institution of Engineers (India), Punjab and Chandigarh state centre, Sector 19, to commemorate the 147th birth anniversary of Bharat Ratna Sir Visvesvarya. To pay homage to the towering engineering personality, his statue has been installed on the premises of the institution.

Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, minister of food and civil supplies, consumer affairs and information technology, Punjab was the chief guest on the occasion. Er U.C. Mishra, chairman, Bhakra Beas Management Board, spoke on the life and achievements of Sir Visvesvarya.

Er P.S. Bhogal spoke on the theme of the day i.e convergence of technology for rapid growth. H.C.S. Berry, chairman, Punjab and Chandigarh state centre, welcomed the distinguished guests, Jagman Singh, past president, IET (India), presided over the function.

Shyam Sunder, honorary secretary, proposed the vote of thanks.



PSEB engineers condemn attack on SE

Patiala September 15
PSEB engineers have condemned the manhandling of an additional sectional engineer (SE) of the Patiala circle by a group of workers.

Over 100 engineers attended a meeting here yesterday during which they said engineers of the south zone - comprising Patiala, Mohali, Sangrur and Ropar circles - would join them and strike work from Monday if culprits were not arrested by the police and strict action was not taken by the management against them.

An FIR has already been lodged with the Kotwali police station over the incident.

They raised suspicion over the role of the police after some of the accused staged demonstrations in the town and reportedly met police authorities to pressure them against initiating action.

The attack took place yesterday when some workers opposing the decision of the board management to implement “spot-billing” through contractor, turned off the power of the office of the additional SE/OP, east division, Patiala. — TNS



Comedy of Errors
‘Abandoned’ baby’s father resurfaces
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15 
It was a virtual comedy of errors. Father of a newborn, who left the child at the PGI this morning to arrange for money to pay off the bills, returned in the evening only to discover that the child had been declared ‘abandoned’. Not only this, the police, on being intimated by the hospital authorities, even registered a case in this regard.

It all started when Vinod, father of a newborn, admitted to Advanced Pediatric Centre, here, realised that he was short of money and needed to get back home to Ludhiana to arrange for the same. In his absence, he requested his uncle to attend to the child.

But as things would have it, the uncle “in-charge of the newborn”, sneaked out of the APC block for a stroll, not realising that his return would be impossible in the absence of a visitor’s pass.

Finding no one in attendance of the child, the doctors had no option but to intimate the police of the situation. On the statement of doctors, the police registered a case of wilful abandonment of the child.

The drama, however, was yet to end, with Vinod, the father, resurfacing in the hospital this evening, only to find that he now needed to prove his “relationship with the child.” The police, when last contacted, were still verifying Vinod’s antecedents to establish the veracity of his claim.

Vinod informed the police that the child was born at an ESI hospital of Ludhiana yesterday. As the delivery was premature, he brought the child to PGI while his wife was still in the hospital, said Vinod.



Journalist bereaved

Chandigarh, September 15
Shakuntala Sharma, 84, wife of J.M. Sharma, a former News Editor of The Tribune, died following a heart attack here this morning. The body was cremated at Sector 25 cremation ground. The kriya is scheduled for September 25 at the Arya Samaj mandir, Sector 16, from 2 pm to 3 pm. — TNS



Youth held for minor’s rape
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 15
A 27-year-old youth was arrested for raping a minor girl on the pretext of marrying her here today.The youth had allegedly kept the girl in illegal confinement for around 15 days. The police said on September 1, the accused, a laundry man hailing from Naya Gaon, took the girl to a house in Kansal and kept her there in confinement. The girl, a resident of Sector 40, is reportedly a student of class VII at a local school.



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