C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Dangerous Designs
Most houses unsafe for children
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
A fortnight ago, fashionable housing proved how costly it could be. Two children of Sector 20, Panchkula, leaned over their “unprotected” bedroom window and fell to death. No responsibility was fixed as none knew whom to blame - family members or the house designer who had not provided window guards

Fall to death
The probe into the death of two sisters after they fell from a bedroom window of their Panchkula flat has yet to begin. Why: The SDM is too busy.

In private housing societies in the tricity, childproofing is absent. Even basic safety tips like “high-parapet balconies”, steel bar window guards and high railing staircases are invisible. A survey reveals several other disturbing elements. The practice of providing windows two and a half feet above the ground is passé. Most houses have huge windows akin to French window, rising from the floor, often bare, fitted with glass, a deadly feature indeed.

V.P. Arora, former chief architect of Chandigarh describes modern housing designs as unmindful: “People are compromising safety for fashion. Most designers are aping designs of European countries that have dull skies. They need windows for light. We don’t need big windows; we are a tropical country with natural light.”

For Child’s Sake

* Houses must have window guards, secure window locking system
* For open railings on balconies/terraces, plastic guards and netting are must
* Push heavy furniture to the wall using straps
* Child gates at top of staircase; pressure-mounted style for bottom
* Children choke on window blind cord wraps; replace these with shades
* Childproof locks on ovens and stove knobs
* Never store water in the open

Government housing is comparatively safer. Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) flats (three and four-storey) have grilled windows and high-parapet balconies. “Our parapets are three feet, three inches high. No window starts from the floor. The minimum distance is two feet, three inches.

“The other day I was at a friend’s house in Sector 20 in Panchkula. The balcony parapet on his fifth floor house was one feet high. I was terrified,” says a an architect with CHB, which started designing houses with guarded (grilled) windows in 1995.

Private houses are terribly unsafe, says M.N. Sharma, Chandigarh’s first chief architect. “With higher storey bedrooms becoming a norm and apartment living a fact of life, children constantly run the risk of falling from windows. Suction-cup window stoppers and steel window guards are a good defence.”

Architects warn that parents should not mistake window screens meant to keep insects out for window guards. “These screens can’t hold the weight of a child. Like baby gates, they can only stop toddlers. For older children, you need a better defence mechanism,” says a practicing architect, ruing the clients’ lack of vision.

Childproofing may well remain a dream unless houseowners start choosing children’s safety over aesthetics.



PM Visit: Men in mufti patrol PU campus
Ramanjit S. Sidhu and Gayatri Rajwade
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
Police personnel have been stationed at the entry gates of Panjab University and the gymnasium hall where Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to inaugurate the university’s diamond jubilee celebrations on October 1.
A special team from the PM’s security office is expected here tomorrow. Details will be discussed with the visiting team and security arrangement finalised thereon
— A.S. Ahlawat

With a week to go for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Chandigarh to inaugurate Panjab University’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations on October 1, security has already been tightened.

Security personnel in plainclothes are patrolling the campus and keeping a watch on those coming to the university.

Hostels will be checked thoroughly prior to the VVIP visit and all incoming vehicles searched. There are two head constables, eight constables and two guards on duty besides those assigned on beat duty.

The gymnasium hall has been painted, refurbished and locked.

Each one entering the premises has to sign in a register.The Hall is to remain locked until the premises are inspected by the PM’s security, probably on September 28.

According to SSP A.S. Ahlawat, in charge of the security for the visit, a special team from the PM’s security office is expected tomorrow. Details will be discussed with the visiting team and security arrangement finalised thereon.



Moga student’s body found in Sukhna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
The decomposed body of an 18-year-old student of a Moga-based polytechnic was found floating in the Sukhna Lake here this morning. Though no suicide note was found, the police ruled out any foul play. The deceased has been identified as Ravinder Sidhu, a resident of Nahan in Himachal Pradesh. He was a IInd year student of electronic and communication stream. His family told the police that he had left for home from Moga on Sunday evening.

Someone noticed the body floating and informed the police at 9 am. The police found a wallet on the body and contacted the family. The body has been shifted to the Sector 16 Government Multi- Speciality Hospital and the post-mortem will be conducted tomorrow.

Talking to mediapersons, the father of the deceased, Pawan Kumar, said Ravinder called home on Sunday evening before leaving Moga. When he failed to reach home, the family contacted his friends in Moga but they had no information on him. Pawan Kumar, a clerk in State Bank of India, Nahan, said Ravinder was good in studies and never complained about anything. The police has initiated inquest proceedings.



DRDO a life-saver at high altitudes: Controller
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
“The Indian troops face great physical challenges at high altitudes. This is where the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) steps in to their aid and helps save their lives,” said Dr W. Selvamurthy, chief controller of the organisation, while delivering a lecture at the PGI today.

For providing products, which include disease diagnostic kits, ready-to-eat food and life-support systems, a company pays royalty to the DRDO, he added.

Dr Selvamurthy also talked about high-altitude pulmonary oedema bag that has helped treat patients at altitudes up to 8,000 feet.

Describing the basic functions of DRDO, Dr Selvamurthy said: “We play a major role in setting up recruitment standards for cadets, based on their physical and psychological makeup. The standards are revised after every 20 years, according to the changes in growth pattern and social setup.”

“We also determine the weight that an individual can carry and the time period up to which a soldier needs to be stationed in extreme conditions,” the chief controller said.



Sisters’ fall: SDM too busy for inquiry
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 25
After the initial hullabaloo on safety norms being flouted in housing societies, everything seems forgotten merely a fortnight after two sisters fell from the window of their flat in Shital Cooperative Group Housing Society (GH-73), Sector 20, here.

The interest shown by the district administration in carrying out an inquiry into the accident has “died down due to other pressing engagements” in the district.

HUDA is yet to finalise findings of a survey to identify faulty buildings. On its part, officials of the society are convening a general house of the members to deal with the issue of violations.

Deputy commissioner Rajinder Kataria had asked SDM Saket Kumar to conduct an inquiry into the accident, while HUDA was asked to identify building violations.

When contacted, Kataria said he had been busy with making arrangements for organising the state-level sports meet.

“We have been busy and I don’t know the status of the inquiry,” he said.

Officials of HUDA, meanwhile, said their survey in the 100-odd housing societies spread over Sector 5 in Mansa Devi Complex and Sector 20 was still underway.

“Our JEs are conducting the survey and we have identified about 12 societies which have major violations. We haven’t been able to visit all societies but will prepare a report on the basis of the big ones that we have visited. The errant societies will shortly be served notices,” a HUDA official said.



Stone of office block laid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
Adviser to UT administrator Lalit Sharma today laid the foundation stone of an additional building for UT offices in Sector 9 today.

The new tower block will be spread across 1.56 lakh sq ft, including the basement and machine room.

Offices of the administration are currently located in various sectors of the city, which results in inconvenience to general public.

The construction of the additional building will help reduce the shortage of accommodation for government offices and bring various departments of the administration under one roof for easy liaison and smooth functioning, according to a press release.

The building will be constructed in two phases. In the first phase, seven-storeyed tower block building, including the basement, will be constructed with a covered area of 19,265 sq ft on each floor.

The building has been planned to accommodate various UT offices like controller legal metrology, directorate of social welfare, excise and taxation department, assistant registrar of cooperative societies, deputy commissioner-cum-agricultural census commissioner, assistant labour commissioner, secretary state agricultural marketing board and block development and panchayat officer.

A separate entry has been planned to take care of physically-challenged persons.

The first phase of the building will cost Rs 9.39 crore and take around 18 months to build.



Work on Rohtang tunnel to start next year
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
Work on the ambitious Rohtang tunnel will commence during the next financial year beginning April, 2008 and would be completed by 2013.

Disclosing this on a visit to the proposed tunnel site in Manali, the minister of state for defence M.M. Pallam Raju said the project, costing over Rs 1,300 crore, would be completed about an year earlier than envisioned.

Speaking on the occasion, Lt-Gen K.S. Rao, director-general border roads (DGBR) informed that eight joint venture firms, in partnership with a foreign company, have been short-listed for the project.

The tenders for the project are being scrutinised by the Ministry of Defence and a decision would be taken shortly, according to a statement issued here today.

The tunnel, which would be the highest in the world, will make the strategic Manali-Leh highway an all-weather road. It would also reduce the journey between Manali and Sarchu by nearly 50 km.



Drive to check driving on full beam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
The Chandigarh traffic police has launched a week-long drive to check violation of driving vehicles on full beams.

The traffic police said checkpoints would be set up across the city from 6 pm to 10 pm.

Help will be taken from staff of various police station to assist the traffic police in the drive.

All station house officers (SHO) and additional SHOs will be deputed to check violations.

Besides, they will also be directed to take action against those indulging in voilations like riding of two-wheelers by more than two riders and underage driving.

Today, 313 vehicles were challaned for various offences, according to the police.

Studies have shown that driving on full beam is a major cause of accidents, says a police officer.



Don’t spoil the fun at FR

The UT Administration has decided to resume the first multiplex in the city - Fun Republic - for violation of building plans. The multiplex management has been accused of re-erecting the site with serious violations. On the other hand, the E-city Property Management and Services have maintained that the building is according to the architectural drawings. The violations, which were brought to the notice, have also been removed, they have added. Some years ago, before FR came up, the building was known as Dhillon Theatre. In fact, after the multiplex camp up, many city theatres improved their facilities also. Keeping all this in mind, the UT Administration should give some more time to the group to remove the violations, if any. Also, it is important to question as to why was the multiplex given a clearance certificate in the first place.

Karan, Chandigarh

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280 stolen cases of tea recovered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
The special crime investigation cell of the Chandigarh police arrested a man and recovered 280 stolen cases of tea from Mani Majra in the wee hours today. The cases were reportedly stolen from a warehouse in Burail on Sunday.

The accused is a Bapu Dham Colony (BDC) resident. Another accused, Mintu, who is a body builder, was arrested but managed to flee from police custody.

Sources in the cell said Narinder Kumar, a Burail-based agent of Tata Tea, lodged a complaint with the police that his entire stock of tea was stolen from his warehouse on Sunday night after thieves broke open the locks.

He told the police that as the market was closed on Monday he came to the warehouse in the evening and found the stock missing.

He called the police, which questioned the watchman of the area.

The watchman said he had seen some persons loading the cases on to a truck in the night. On being questioned by the watchman, they told him that they were sent by the owner. They took the stock in three rounds.

The police gathered information and learned that the cases were lying in a plot in Mani Majra.

The police raided the premises and recovered 280 cases. A case has been registered in this regard.


Khusnood of Indira Colony, Mani Majra, reported to the police that an unidentified person entered his house and tried to outrage the modesty of his wife this morning.

The accused thrashed his wife when she raised the alarm. The accused later fled the scene. A case has been registered.

Man held

The local police arrested Shan Mahammad, a resident of Sector 26, on charges of gambling near Government High School, Sector 26, yesterday.

A sum of Rs 550 was recovered from his possession. A case under the Gambling Act has been registered against him. Later, he was bailed out.



Develop infrastructure for long-term
growth: UK minister
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
“Another 20 per cent of UK’s tax money will be used for building capacities in India,” stated UK minister of state for trade and investment Lord Gigby Jones on his visit to the city today.

Stating that India was one of the most tolerant nations with a fabulous history he said India contributed for 2 per cent of UK’s population and 5 per cent of its GDP.

“India is a leader in many ways and UK-India have similar values in a lot of things.”

Adding that they had a lot that they could learn and contribute to each other’s growth.

According to recent figures on India’s foreign trade partners, UK accounts for 2.8% of exports to India and 28.3 % of imports.

Impressed with India's phenomenal growth, Jones said to make it sustainable in the long term, infrastructure development must be a top-priority for India through the various models of public- private partnership.

In addition, India needed to develop an attractive, transparent, legal, regulatory and business environment to attract first class international investment.

Jones who was previously the voice and face of British business as director-general of the confederation of British industry was brought in by Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a specialist to boost UK’s business relations with growing economies like India and China.

Earlier in the day he presented a football to the football team of St. John’s High School, Sector 26, as a mark of friendship between the school children of Birmingham, West Midland, UK.

He also accepted a football signed by the St John’s team, which he will take back to the UK.

“If they can play football together, they can do a lot else also together in the coming years. It is a start,” he further said.



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