C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

No high-rises in Sector 2-5: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
In an order aimed at preserving Chandigarh's architectural ethos, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that multi-storey apartments or additional covered area will not only be an"assault" on the city's character and heritage, but will also put hard-to-sustain pressure on the northern sectors: from Sector 2 to Sector 5.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, has directed status quo on a property in Sector 4 where "multiple flats" were to come up.

Taking up the matter, the Bench has ruled: "The Sectors from 2 to 5 are prime sectors of Chandigarh. Often, as a misnomer in common parlance, they are called posh or elite sectors of Chandigarh.

"The reason is simple to find. These sectors have an unhindered landscape of Shivalik Hill as background. Le Corbusier had a vision of a clear skyline and landscape for Chandigarh. Therefore, the first block of Sectors 2, 3, 4 and 5 contain big plots of four and eight kanals, and also low construction.

"In the second block of Sectors from 7 to 11, third block of sectors from 12 to 19; and thereafter fourth and fifth block onwards, as the number of sectors increase, the density of population also increases".

Expressing understanding of the city's character and culture, the judges have observed: "Sectors 2, 3, 4 and 5 have been planned for less population limited to about 1,000 for each sector. It is for this reason that these are the only sectors not to be further divided into sub-sectors A, B, C and D as other sectors have been".

Substantiating their point of view, the judges have quoted the UNESCO World Heritage Centre website on urban and architectural work of Le Corbusier in Chandigarh and have also quoted from "Architectural Review" by Antoniou Jim.

In their detailed order, they have added: "Le Corbusier had built Chandigarh as planned city marvel and had a vision and a concept. He had taken into consideration various factors; landscape, skyline and self sustained natural ecology.

Therefore, if multi-storey apartments or more covered area is permitted, not only will it assault the character and heritage of the city, rather Sectors 2,3, 4 and 5 will not be able to sustain pressure of increased population, if multiple apartments are allowed to mushroom in these sectors".

Referring to the case in hand, the judges have said the house in dispute is situated in Sector 4. The petitioner claims to be the owner of 50 per cent of the house and in possession of a part of the plot measuring 3,948 square yards, which is not partitioned.

The Judges have added:"We fail to understand as to how the plot could have been sub-divided and on that basis permission could have been given for construction by the Chandigarh administration".

The case will now come up for further hearing on February 27.



Reliance Power share at Rs 900 in grey market
Special counters set up for demat account
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
There has been an overwhelming response to the initial public offering (IPO) of Reliance Power in the tricity with over 15,000 new demat accounts opened. Trade analysts say that there was a sudden rush among investors to open a demat account, just before the IPO was announced.

According to information from bankers and traders in the tricity, the number of persons applying for a demat account had increased manifold for the past 10 days. “Ever since the news of the IPO was announced, anybody who had extra money was keen to invest. Other than the regular investors in the share market, thousands of persons opened their new demat accounts. In fact, the rush to open new accounts has continued and special counters have been set up by the banks and traders,” says Dilip Kumar of Balaji Enterprises.

Interestingly, the black market, too, is abuzz ever since the IPO has been announced. According to unconfirmed reports, traders are offering Rs 900 per share. It is also alleged that letters are being sent to the regular investors in the share market, offering them a premium of Rs 8,000 (for 225 shares), in case the Reliance Power shares are allotted to them.

Anticipating the huge rush of investors, banks in the tricity had made provisions to ensure that the demat account is opened within a few hours and the customers get their demat numbers the same day.

Usually, it takes at least two days for a new demat account to be opened. Some of the banks are also offering the facility of a demat account along with a new savings account for their customers.

Brokers in the tricity say that 95 per cent of the investors are applying for maximum shares that can be applied for (225 shares). The company has offered its investors to make a part payment for the shares, and most of the people are making a part payment and applying for the shares at the rate of Rs 450 a share.



Cocky JEs stall transfers
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Engineers in the city have become so powerful that their postings have become a matter of “pressure” and “sifarish”. So much so that the orders of the Chandigarh administration to move more than 12 JEs are in abeyance since the past one month.

The JE’s have managed to pull the strings to remain on their existent postings: in some cases the JEs have been at the posting for more than 10 years.

The JE are associated with every kind of work in the city, be it recarpeting of roads, fresh constructions or maintenance of government houses.

Sources in the administration said Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) guidelines clearly stated that a post involving public dealing could not be held by an official for three years at a stretch.

But in Chandigarh the JEs have been carrying on in the same division that comes directly under an XEN-level official.

The administration realised the extent of the clout of the JEs , when the orders issued on December 14 to shift at least 12 of them were not implemented. The administration is mum on the issue.

In Chandigarh, almost all postings of JEs are considered “good.” But just the engineers are so well-ensconced in their present postings that moving out to a new division under a new XEN seems to them a “bad” idea.

The December 14 order was preceded by another order on December 6 when three JE-level officials were transferred. On December 14, the administration transferred two JEs back to their original place of posting.

Now the order of December 14 is under abeyance. Though no written instructions have been issued to hold back the transfers, the JEs have not joined their new offices, and their seniors remain silent.



Rs 5 lakh theft at Hotel Taj
Ring ceremony goes awry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A ring ceremony at Hotel Taj in Sector 17 here went awry after thieves decamped with jewellery amounting to lakhs belonging to the girl’s family here today. The police is trying to nab the culprits on the basis of television footage obtained from CCTV cameras installed at the hotel.

Promod Bhardawaj, a businessman from Nakodar near Jalandhar, had come to Chandigarh for the ring ceremony of his daughter Nikita at Hotel Taj. The would-be-groom,Yogesh Sharma, is from Panchkula. His family is in furniture business.

The family from Jalandhar reached the hotel at 12 noon and checked in for the function. Within minutes, a bag containing gold and diamond jewellery mounting to over Rs 5 lakh was found missing from a chair in the banquet hall. The diamond ring for the ceremony was in the stolen bag.

Besides the diamond ring, the bag contained a diamond set, two gold sets, a gold chain and two bracelets. “I kept the bag on the chair as I moved to greet relatives and found it missing soon after,” said a shocked Promod Bhardawaj.

Even as the police registered a case of theft, an official spokesperson of Taj Hotel, Iticka, feigned ignorance about it, dismissing it as a ‘mere rumour.’ PRO said the hotel was not responsible for any theft that may occur at private parties. “The guests should take care of their belongings.”

Even as the police registered a case of theft and were investigating the case, the official spokesperson of Taj Hotel, Iticka, feigned ignorance when asked about the theft. As the Tribune called this spokesperson, the pro said she doesn’t know of the incident at all as was on an off and will soon enquire. After enquiring, the pro said she has talked to the hotel authorities and the theft was a ‘mere rumour’. When informed that a case has been registered, the pro said the hotel is not at all responsible for any thefts that may occur in private parties.



HUDA’s hotel project fails to take off
No bidder turns up for auction
Arun Sharma 
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 16
The ambitious plan of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) to attract big investments in the city fizzled out when no one turned up for bidding at its much publicised auction of eight acres site for a 24-storied five star hotel here today.

The intending bidders were supposed to deposit Rs 5 crore to participate in the auction of the freehold plot, the reserve price of which was Rs 260 crore.

HUDA officials reached the venue of auction at the Inderdhanush auditorium in Sector 5, near the hotel site, at 11 am only to see empty chairs, as no bidder turned up throughout the day. Having waited for four hours, the estate officer, HUDA, Panchkula, Monica Malik, at 3 pm decided to defer the auction for indefinite period.

Besides being the biggest site of its category in the tri-city, it has the permissible built up ground area of 30 per cent of the plot area as well as a height of 75 metres.

Asked why bidders did not turn up, the estate officer expressed her inability to figure out the reason.

“Big business houses, including major players in the hotel industry, were informed about the auction and the proposed site in advance to elicit their interest in the project,” said Malik. “Even NRIs with interest in the hotel industry were sent brochures containing information about the site plan and conditions of auction,” she said. We would try to figure out the reason behind the blank response to the auction from the hotel industry as well as real estate companies, she added.

Property watchers in the city, however, believed HUDA failed to get any response because of lack of professional approach.

“HUDA officials were expected to act in a professional manner to present this multi-billion project to elicit the interest of the investors, which they obviously failed to do,” said Kamal Jindal, a real estate consultant in the city.

They should have taken into account another hotel site at Mohali, which reportedly has with better prospects and is near the Chandigarh airport, he said. There is all probability that the intending bidders might prefer to go for the 11.24 acre multi-purpose site at Mohali, which has a reserve price of Rs 544 crore, added Jindal.

HUDA should have gone in for an aggressive marketing of this mega project, said B.K. Sanghi, another property watcher. Though the price was not on the higher side, inadequate publicity could be the major reason for the poor response, he added.



Govt not too keen on metro rail for tricity
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Even as the governments of Punjab, Haryana and the Chandigarh administration are keen on having a metro-rail based rapid transport system for the tricity and beyond, officials of government of India seem hell-bent upon having a high capacity bus service rather than a metro; without realising how a bus service would be useful on existing city roads like the Madhya Marg or Dakshin Marg. Or, how will this ease traffic congestion. Sources in Punjab Government and Chandigarh administration have separately confirmed to the Tribune that GOI officials have been insisting on a high capacity bus service and have been relegating metro rail to the background.

Even after the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana and the advisr to the UT administrator made their preference known - that they would like to have a metro-rail system - the government of India officials said it will be considered. Officials here do not want to speak on it openly, however, sources said this charade has been played a few times before. First a demand is raised for a metro rail system by the authorities here. The same is then rejected by Delhi-based experts after a few months and the high capacity bus system is again suggested.

Notably, the bus system has been rejected for Delhi and Bangalore as the planners could not find enough space on existing roads there. However, if the bus has to run on existing roads then what is the use, asked an official.

The bus technology has been in use in Bogota, the capital of Columbia in South America, and Government of India authorities picked up the idea from there. Government of India officials believe that the bus system is cheaper than the metro rail. But the purpose of the metro rail is to connect areas like Baddi, Parwanoo, Dera Bassi, besides Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali. How can a bus system operate then?

The only advantage is that the bus system is cheaper. While the metro costs an astronomical Rs 100 crore per km to construct, the bus system works out to just Rs 6 crore to Rs 10 crore per km. Special buses are available for about Rs 35 lakh each. The cost of travel is also considerably lower. However, the drawback is that buses operate on exclusive bus-ways, using one or two lanes in each direction.

These lanes can run in the middle of the road or along the service roads. Where will planners find these bus-ways is, then, the big question!



Fire Dept flouts own rules
Gives extension to station fire officer

Amrita Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Fire Department of the Municipal Corporation seems to be unaware of its own rules, framed within the organisation.

An office order of the MC’s fire and emergency service says the period of ad hoc promotion of Madan Lal Sharma, station fire officer, Sector 17, has been extended for six months from January 26. The order has been issued on January 9 and is in complete violation of its own orders.

The MCC had passed a resolution at its meeting on September 18, 1997, that separate seniority of the employees of each department who have been transferred to the Municipal Corporation will be maintained. According to the decision of the MC, separate seniority lists in respect of employees taken from the Notified Area Committee, Manimajra, and the erstwhile Chandigarh Fire Service (CFS) were prepared. Further as per the decision, the employees taken from the Market Committee were placed at the end of the tail.

Accordingly, it was also decided if any promotional post transferred from the CFS falls vacant, it will be filled from the feeder cadre of transferred employees from the CFS only and similarly in case of the NAC if any promotional post falls vacant, it will be filled from feeder cadre of employees transferred from the NAC.

The MC and NAC cadre have no post of station fire officer or of a chief fire officer. However, for the past more than one year an employee of the MC cadre has been holding a post of station fire officer, Sector 17, which is against the rules. The post of Madan Lal Sharma, station fire officer was initially extended last year in May and then again extended last week for six months from January 26 this year.

Employees of the Fire department are upset on this move. The employees stated that the post should rightly go to an employee of the CFS cadre. “Rules are being flouted without any one taking note of it, we are facing shortage of staff and are being denied our rightful promotion,” stated an employee.

The UT administration accorded approval for filling the posts of leading firemen and sub fire officers by promotion in the fire and emergency service wing of the MC.

The policy was framed on November 28, 2006, which was approved later. It was proposed that a separate seniority list in each cadre, promotion to the next grade, case of personnel of the fire and emergency service wing should be framed.



Citco meeting likely to be rocky
Employees write to UT adviser against agenda items

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The January 21 meeting of board of directors of Citco may be rocky, considering Citco employees have written to the UT adviser against items on the meet's agenda.

Top item is the upgradation of the post of chief liaison officer, UT Guest House, Delhi. The post is being held by Naseem Khan Dureja, who, employees claim, is likely to be benefited out of turn. The employees say that in one of the earlier meetings too, Dureja’s case had been included as part of the supplementary agenda; the objective, they claimed, was to benefit Dureja.

The matter could, however, not be discussed due to resentment from Citco employees. This time, the employees feel, Dureja’s post is sought to be upgraded to “indirectly benefit” him. The representation to UT adviser has been signed by Citco union employees, including president Yashwant Singh and general secetary Baldev Raj. It also has signatures of those Citco officers, who claim to have been superceded by Dureja. Citco managing director J.S. Bir allayed the fears of employees, saying, "The upgraded post will be filled on merit. A committee headed by UT adviser will take the final decision," he told The Tribune.

Citco employees are also representing against the second agenda item pertaining to release of 1986 arrears to a terminated Citco foreman Chandulal. Bir, however, said the BOD had decided to drop the item as the case was sub judice. Interesting is the third agenda item regarding end to the system of offering free breakfast and dinner to those staying at hotel Shivalikview. The hotel management has been giving these facilities to beat competition from Sector 35 hotels which have lesser room rents and more freebies. In the agenda, it has been argued that provision of free food is a burden on Citco’s resources, sources said. Bir said the BOD decision in the matter will be final.



District admn complex at Sanetta
Residents up in arms
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
Members of the Phase IV Residents’ Welfare Association today strongly opposed the establishment of the district administrative complex (DAC) at Sanetta village.

President of the association Ajaib Singh Tung said during a press conference today that the DAC would be 15 km from Mohali. He said the residents, religious organisations and NGOs in the township would lodge a strong protest against the move.

The members announced that a meeting of the local municipal councillors and other representatives of the town would be called and a deputation would meet the Punjab Chief Minister in this regard.

Sources added that the shifting of the DAC to the village had not found favour with the judges serving at the judicial complex here. The judicial complex would also be shifted to the site at Sanetta.

It would be inconvenient for the hundreds of visitors to the court to travel the distance every now and then.

Sources added that certain vested interests were insisting on the establishment of the centre at the village as it was at a stone’s throw from a multinational real estate group, which was coming up with an integrated township.



Commercial sites under hammer
Auction to fetch PUDA Rs 17 cr
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
The auction of commercial sites at Urban Estate, Patiala, held here today evoked a good response.

PUDA had offered 29 booth and six SCO/SCF sites for disposal through open auction.

All the sites are at a prime location on Patiala-Rajpura road. SCF sites with reserve price of Rs 40,000 per square yard fetched Rs 75,000 to Rs 80,500 per square yard. The size of the SCO site is 367.25 square yard and the total price of one SCO site comes to Rs 2.90 crore. The total revenue that would come from the auction is more than Rs 17 crore.

As provided in the terms and conditions, 10 per cent of the total bid price is required to be deposited at the fall of hammer whereby PUDA today received Rs 1.70 crore.

Besides this, 15 per cent of the total bid price is payable within 30 days of the auction.

However, booth sites offered for auction did not evoke an encouraging response. Patiala additional chief administrator M.S. Narang said bidders from Rajpura, Patiala, Ropar, Mohali, Chandigarh, Sangrur, Panchkula and Fatehgarh Sahib participated in the auction.



Fauji Beat
Gen Panag’s posting raises eyebrows

Northern Army Commander Lieut-Gen H.S. Panag had an interview with defence minister A.K. Antony on January 5. This raises two important issues. One: Should an Army Commander seek an interview with the defence minister? Two: Is General Panag’s posting from Northern to Central Command justified?

Under the rules, when a junior is not satisfied with the verdict of his senior, the former has every right to seek an interview with the next senior. In this case, the Northern Army Commander was not satisfied with the decision of Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor; hence he was justified in asking for an interview with the defence minister for the redressal of his grievances.

If one goes by the practice that has generally been followed in the past, General Panag’s posting to the Central Command is not justified for more reasons than one. Since he is retiring by the end of this year and has done less than a year in his present appointment, he should have been allowed to retire from the Northern Command. Lieut-Gen P.C. Bhardwaj, who is to relieve him, is not in the run for the Army Chief’s appointment; hence he should have been posted to the lesser important Central Command to replace Lieut-Gen O.P. Nadrajog who retires on January 31. The untimely posting of General Panag has raised many eyebrows especially in the wake of his firm handling of the tent scam.

Medicine crunch

Some Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) patients from Ludhiana have reported that their polyclinic issues medicines only on 8th and 9th of every month. A few patients from Muktsar have also complained that their polyclinic does not issue medicines to them. Patients from some stations in Himachal Pradesh have also come up with the same complaint.

After the procurement system was streamlined last year, the availability of medicines has never been less than 90 per cent of the demand at any time. But in most cases, the officers-in-charge of polyclinics do not send their six-monthly forecast of medicines required by them to the senior executive medical officer (SEMO) in time. In the absence of which, timely procurement cannot be done by him. Since the administrative and functional control of the polyclinics rests with the station commanders, it is for them to ensure that the polyclinics under them do not fail to demand the medicines well in time.

Rajauri public school

Students of the Army Goodwill Public School, Rajauri, being trained in horse riding
Students of the Army Goodwill Public School, Rajauri, being trained in horse riding.

With a view to providing modern educational facilities to children from remote areas of Rajauri and Punch districts of J&K, Army Goodwill Public School has been set up at Rajauri under Operation Sadhbhavna. It is the first institute of its kind that the Army has started and it is affiliated with the CBSE.

It is a day-cum-residential school from classes VI to XII with spacious and well-furnished classrooms, modern laboratories, audio-visual aids, arts and music rooms and a centre for computer learning. The school has a well-equipped gymnasium, a library, medical treatment room and a cafeteria. There are fully furnished and separate hostels for 105 boys and 45 girls with automated kitchen. The teaching staff is well-trained and motivated. People of Rajauri have shown great interest in this institution with 390 students taking admission in the first academic session of the school.

— Pritam Bhullar



VIP visit: Commuters a harassed lot again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A visit by a VVIP once again caused inconvenience to city residents. Thousands of office-goers were a harassed lot as the convoy of vice-president Hamid Ansari resulted in traffic jams twice here today.

The vice-president arrived at 10 am and departed at around 2 pm when the rush from schools is at its peak. Though officials were deployed to divert traffic, people had to go through a lot of difficulty at various places.

A senior police official said the timing of the VIP’s convoy should have been 11 pm to 3 pm, rather than 10 am to 2 pm as this is the peak traffic hour. As Ansari’s motorcade started from the UT Guest House to the Panjab University in the morning, traffic police had to block the road at many places. At various places on the Madhya Marg, the road outside UT Guest House and the stretch from Tribune Chowk to Transport Chowk, traffic came to a literal standstill as the convoy passed.



UT remakes tourism advisory panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The UT administration today reconstituted the Chandigarh Tourism Advisory Committee for one year. UT tourism secretary Krishna Mohan will be the chairman of the committee which will have 25 members.

Among the committee members are principal secretary, tourism, Punjab, Geetika Kalha, secretary tourism, Haryana Keshni Anand Arora, managing director, Citco, Chandigarh's deputy commissioner, senior superintendent of police, the UT’s rural development director, director health services of the UT administration, director tourism UT, director tourism, Himachal Pradesh, officer representing Indian Airlines, Jet Airways/Deccan Airways at Chandigarh, principal general manager of BSNL at Chandigarh, GM (tourism), Citco.



Training programme for councillors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Pardeep Chhabra, mayor, Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, today said the “Centre for Good Governance”, Hyderabad, is organising a training programme on capacity building of urban local bodies under JNNURM for the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.

This programme is being conducted with support from the Ministry of Urban Development, and the Municipal Corporation Chandigarh.

The mayor said this programme would be held on January 17 to 18 and 21 to 22 at institution for the Spatial Planning and Environmental Research (ISPER), Amravati Enclave, Kalka road, Panchkula, for councillors and officers of the Municipal Corporation.

During the training, the councillors and officers would be provided training on JNNURM and related reforms with an emphasis on their role in making JNNURM a success.



Amnesty scheme for ESI staff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The ESI Corporation has approved the amnesty scheme to withdraw the prosecution cases filed against the employees up to December 12, 2007, under Sections 84 and 85 of the ESI Act of 1948 as amended and cases filed under Section 75 of the ESI Act in EI courts.

The period of amnesty is from January 1, 2008, to December 21, 2008, and the cases filed will be withdraw subject to their fulfilling of the following conditions: The entire amount paid in excess to the insured person is refundable in full by him or her to the corporation; undertaking will be given that wrongdoing will not be repeated in future.



CTYC honours mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Chandigarh Territorial Youth Congress today honoured Pardeep Chhabra, mayor, Anju Beniwala and H.C. Kalyan in the presence of the minister of state Pawan Kumar Bansal, president CTYC H.S. Lucky and other councillors, including Devender Singh Babla, and other senior party leaders.

Speaking on the occasion Pawan Kumar Bansal said, “The Congress will ensure all round development of the city”.



Sixth decoration for TA officer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
High Court lawyer and Territorial Army (TA) volunteer, Capt Navdeep Singh, has been decorated with the Chief of Army Staff's Commendation on Army Day. This is his sixth commendation which is the highest number in the history of TA.

He has been commended for his work in the field of welfare of serving and retired personnel. He is also credited with implementation of toll tax exemption for defence personnel on highways.




Nano will test city roads

The great car revolution, sorry small car revolution, which is driving the economy to a new high is here to stay. First Ford Model T in 1912 was followed by Italian Fiat in 1936, Mini in 1960, Suzuki Maruti in 1983 and now Tata Nano in 2007.

All these cars were launched after a gap of almost 24 years. May be this is just a coincidence but the first real Indian car, which stood all-time weather, Maruti 800 though was started with much fan fare in 1983, is still a popular car on Indian roads. But, it never became a peoples car.

But this one-lakh car, Nano, will surely be giving sleepless nights to city planners as people will rush to buy this Tata wonder adding to the pressure on city roads. So, city planners be ready to create more space on the roads and parking lots to retain the modern outlook of City Beautiful.


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57th Panjab University Convocation
Ansari for building future on best elements of past
Tribune News Service

Vice-President and chancellor of Panjab University Dr Hamid Ansari addresses the convocation.Prof R.C.Sobti, vice-chancellor, PU, is also seen in the picture
Vice-President and chancellor of Panjab University Dr Hamid Ansari addresses the convocation.Prof R.C.Sobti, vice-chancellor, PU, is also seen in the picture. — Tribune Photo by Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, January 16
“Panjab University has played a significant role in Punjab’s overall contribution to national life and evoked the youth of the state to seize new opportunities to address the problems at the local, regional and national level and to uphold the banner of their alma mater”, Vice-President and chancellor of the university Hamid Ansari stated this while addressing the 57th annual convocation held on the Panjab University campus here today.

He said Panjab University had emerged as a significant centre for scientific research and had been recognised by the UGC as a ‘University with a potential for excellence in bio-medical sciences’. He also referred to the work being done on the culture of Punjab by the university and acclaimed the work on the representation of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in folk literature.

He stated the challenge of the university education lied in striking a dynamic balance, which builds a future on the best elements of the past.

Earlier, Prof Isher Judge Ahluwalia, chairperson, Board of Governors, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, New Delhi, delivered the convocation address. She said educational infrastructure in Punjab was among the best of Indian states, but learning achievements at primary and upper primary level were among the worst, as revealed by some recent nationwide surveys conducted by the NCERT.

Institutions of higher learning had an important role to play in this process. In fact, they were crucial for building a knowledge base, which in turn was crucial for global competitiveness and provided a basis for sustainable growth and development in the state, she added. “National Institute of Biotechnology, Institute of Nano Technology and Public Health Foundation of India are coming to Punjab. As the Indian government is gearing up to set up 30 new central universities in the country, Punjab must attract at least two central universities in the state”, she added.

Prof R. C. Sobti, vice-chancellor of the university, outlined the achievements of the university over the years. The convocation ceremony conferred D.Litt and Doctorate of Science degree upon Dr Preetam Singh and Yash Raj, internationally renowned film producer and director, G. K. Chaddha, former vice-chancellor, Prof of economics, Jawahar Lal Nehru University and Rajinder K. Pachauri, DG TERI and a Nobel laureate for his outstanding achievements in the field of environment.

Various luminaries of the region attended the convocation. A. R. Kidwai, Governor of Haryana, Pawan Kumar Bansal, union minister of state for finance, Ashwani Kumar, minister of state for industry, S. S. Dhindsa, MP and SAD general secretary, Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Jain, Punjab health minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Punjab rural development minister Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, and Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh also graced the convocation.

However, some expected dignitaries were conspicuous by their absence despite their names having being announced earlier. The guests who could not turn up included Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the Punjab Governor and UT administrator, Gen S. F. Rodrigues.



To progress, Punjabi literature needs to be original: Pritam Singh
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
“Punjabi writings and current literature is like left-over of English and Hindi writings. Unless Punjabi writers bring originality to their work, Punjabi language and literature cannot progress”, said Dr Pritam Singh, renowned academician, who was conferred with honouris causa degree in D.litt by vice-president of India, Dr Hamid Ansari. Talking to the The Tribune, 90 year-old, Dr Pritam Singh, who is the third one to receive the degree after Bhai Veer Singh and Prof Sahib Singh, said, “I am thankful to those who thought my writings were worth the appreciation and conferred upon the degree”.

No resting on his laurels, Dr Pritma, who had more than 50 publications to his credit, including ‘Dr Mohan Singh Dewana’, ‘Sikh Dharam Te Siast’, ‘ Punjab, Punjabi, Punjabiat’, besides others was working on a ten volume ‘ Sikhan Da Chota Mail’ in collaboration with Dr Joginder Singh Ahluwalia based in USA. “We are editing the thousand paged Granth by Bhai Darbari Singh, who was based in Ferozepur,” he said.

Talking about Punjabi language and its growth, he admitted that till the time we did not make colloquial use of the language it couldn’t progress on its own. Lashing out on the governments, he said it was high time for the government to realise its duty of bringing people closer to their roots in Punjab. He added that when Prof Ishwar Judge Ahluwalia ended her speech today with a Punjabi couplet, it drew tremendous response from the crowd by a way of thunderous round of applause.



NZ scholarship for city girl
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Meet confident city girl Mohini, who has been awarded the New Zealand International Undergraduate Scholarship ($25,000), which would entitle her to enrol herself in a three-year degree course in commerce at University of Auckland, starting from March 3.

Funded by the New Zealand government and administered by the ministry of education, New Zealand, in 2004, this scholarship provides financial support by way of international tuition fee for students.

Mohini, who did her senior secondary studies from Carmel Convent School, Sector 9, is the only one chosen from India. When asked what she would like to be, she says, “Definitely, an entrepreneur as I am pursuing studies in commerce.” Among Asian countries, students from China, Korea, Japan and Taiwan would be her classmates in this six-semester course.

The excitement, needless to say, is tangible. “It’s a wonderful feeling to represent one’s country,” said Mohini.

“The students are selected on the basis of their academic merit and overall personality,” said her mentor Punita Singh, a child counsellor at Carmel Convent School, Sector 9.

Heather Ward, deputy high commissioner of the New Zealand High Commission, had recommended her after extensive rounds of interviews held in March 2007, which saw cream of students, all scoring above 90 per cent, competing for the scholarship.

“It was a very difficult decision, but Mohini stands out because we were looking for someone with strong values. These students act as ambassadors of their schools and individual countries, so their overall personalities and their value systems were important to us,” said Heather.

She owes her success to her father M.P. Singh, an IAS officer, and mother Arvinder M.P. Singh, who is a homemaker. “It is they who have instilled the values and culture which helped me achieving this success.



1m jobs await youth, says California dean
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
States need to channel its resources and train its youth in order to ensure that they can get the jobs promised by the Prime Minister in the 11th Five Year Plan.

The region, with a population of approximately 71 million, will get a minimum of 1 million job opportunities, out of 10 million jobs. This was stated by Satinder Dhiman, associate dean , Woodbury University, California, while interacting with mediapersons here today on emerging trends in management and global business opportunities with focus on North India.

Dhiman said in addition to 1 million direct job opportunities, additional half a million youth could be channelled towards entrepreneurship in the Northern India. He said the governments in North Indian states, along with their educationists and planners and policy makers, have to take a holistic view of the present and future management trends in view and impart employability skills to each youth who is getting academic qualification. The corporate sector has to be roped in right in the academic curriculum designing, delivery and placement process as part of academic system.

Dhiman, who had earlier participated in the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas, has also had two rounds of detailed discussions with Punjab Chief Minister to help in the delivery mechanism of the quality and need-based education in Punjab. Today’s initiative was that of the ITFT group, Chandigarh, as part of their corporate responsibility for generating employment for the youth.



From Schools & Colleges
Students get expert advice on nutritious diet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
An interactive power point presentation on health and nutrition for the students of Classes IX to XII was organised today at Sri Guru Harkrishan Model School Sector 38-D, here. Dr Dinesh and Rupinder from the community medicine department, PGI, were the resource persons, who discussed the importance of regular exercise, yoga and stress management. The students were advised to reduce the intake of junk food and to include green leafy vegetables, pulses and fruits in their meals. Problem of weak eyesight was also discussed. Principal Harpreet Kaur stressed on the need for inculcating healthy food habits right from the childhood.

Quiz competition: Experts from the PGI Childline, a national 24-hour emergency service, conducted an interactive session under the child protection programme at GMSSS-32. Geeta from the PGI Childline motivated the students to spread awareness about child rights. Principal of the school Anil Sharma asked the children to pledge themselves to this noble cause and also offered a full spectrum of resources at the school. Meanwhile, TATA Institute organised a quiz competition in the school. The children viewed an inspirational movie, ‘Keepers of Flame’, about the vision of India by J.R.D. Tata. As may as 50 students participated in the quiz under two categories from Classes VI to X and Classes XI and XII. Results will be declared after a week and the winners will participate in the city-level competition in March.

Students shortlisted: As many as 31 students of the college were shortlisted for the final phase of interviews during the placement drive carried out by ICICI Prudential at Guru Gobind Singh College for Women-26. As many as 200 students appeared in the written examination and group discussion. Principal of the college Dr Harinderjit Kaur said the placement cell of the college regularly invited companies for campus placements. Many other companies would also be visiting the college soon, she added.

THE ANNUAL FUNCTION: The annual function of Maharishi Dayanand Public School, Daria, near here, was organised at Kalagram, Mani Majra, in collaboration with the North Zone Cultural Centre, today. The celebrations started with a welcome song. Kids of pre-nursery participated in a fancy dress show and recited rhymes. Primary students performed dances. Students of middle and higher classes presented Haryanvi and Rajasthani dances. Music director H.M. Singh was the chief guest. Ravinder Talwar, director of sports, DAV College Managing Committee, Delhi inauguraged the function.



From Colleges
Students given tips on soft skills
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
International Institute of Fashion Technology (IIFT), Phase VII here, organised a workshop for its students. National motivational speaker and soft skills trainer T.S. Madan conducted a day-long workshop that covered communication skills, speaking and listening skills, personality development. He had earlier conducted a workshop on human relations, goal setting and personality development at the institute.

CAMPUS PLACEMENT: The new academic session of GGSCMT, Kharar, has started with good placement opportunities for the students. The college is hosting three joint campus placements in the first two months of this year. The first move was made with the visit of Lurgi AG, recruiting partner to GGSCMT campus. Lurgi AG is a well-established company which is well known internationally. The placements will be made for the post of graduate engineer trainee. For one year, the students will undergo training during which they will be paid Rs 14,800 per month and after completion of the training, they will be given Rs 3.88 lakh to Rs 4.2 lakh per annum.



563 students get degrees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The 57th annual convocation of Panjab University was held today amidst tight security at Gymnasium Hall. In the first session, Vice-President of India and chancellor of the university Dr Hamid Ansari conferred the DLit and doctorate of science degrees upon renowned academician Dr Preetam Singh, internationally renowned film producer and director Yash Raj, former vice-chancellor and professor of economics at Jawahar Lal Nehru University G.K. Chaddha and Rajinder K. Pachauri, DG, TERI, and a Nobel laureate for his contributions to the field of environment. Pachauri was honoured in abstentia. Prof Ishwar Judge Ahluwalia, chairperson, board of governors, Indian Council of Research and International Economic Relations, New Delhi, delivered the convocation address.

In the second session, PU vice chancellor Prof R.C. Sobti awarded PhD, MA, MSc, M Lib and LLM degrees to 563 students. Out of the 404 students, who received degrees, 285 were girls and out of 159 medal winners, 128 were girls.



UT’s job fest on Jan 19
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Chandigarh administration's department of information technology, in collaboration with the National Association of Software and Services Company (NASSCOM) and department of higher education, will organise an exclusive job fest at Government College for Girls, Sector 11, on January 19. The fest will be for the candidates who took the NASSCOM assessment of competence (NAC) test.

The administration had sponsored around 1,300 candidates for the test. The main objective is to create talent pool for the industry in this region.

The department of information technology through the Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC) had conducted the NAC test on September 9.

Some of the companies which will be participating in the job fest are Dell, Genpact, E2E SerwizSol, EXL, HCL-BPO, IBM-Daksh, Accenture, Infosys BPO and Quatrro.



Identify sites for Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan schools: DC
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 16
Deputy commissioner H.I.S. Garewal has directed the officials concerned to identify six sites for setting up schools under Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan for slum children.

He said a survey should be carried out to set up more such schools. In urban areas, executive officials of civic bodies should be asked to locate sites for schools. He said mid-day meal programme should also be implemented as per government guidelines and officials concerned be intimated for the required funds. He said funds to the tune of Rs 1.38 crore were received for construction of sheds in 230 schools. An undertaking for the construction of sheds should be given so that funds could be released in this regard.

Garewal also directed that administrative officials should be present during medical camps. Welfare schemes of the central government should be implemented in letter and in spirit.



Consumer Courts
ICICI Bank, Premier Motors told to pay damages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-I has asked ICICI Bank and Crystal Lease Financial Company, Sector 7, to pay compensation of Rs 50,000 for deficiency in service to a Mohali resident.

The forum also asked Premier Motors, shop from where the petitioner purchased the car, to pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh and also reimburse him the amount spent for insurance of the car. The opposite party was also directed to pay Rs 5,500 to the petitioner jointly.

The petitioner, Kulwant Singh, has purchased Lancer car on March 2006 from Premier Motors in industrial area after getting it financed from ICICI bank through its direct marketing agent. Kulwant deposited the remaining amount after completing all formalities with the bank. The bank then issued the delivery letter for the car after which the car was delivered. Thereafter, petitioner visited the Premier Motors for getting the sale letter. The motor company asked them to approach the direct marketing agent who asked the Kulwant to deposit another Rs 28,000. He further added that on approaching the motor shop he came to know that the direct marketing agent had deposited the amount late so a penalty of Rs 28,000 was imposed.

Kulwant averred that he had to keep the car in the garage from the date of purchase because he could not drive it without documents. He added that he was not able to drive the car because of callousness of the bank and its agent.

The bank denied retaining any documents of the car. It was stated that the bank did not verify the documents and is also not concerned with the delivery of the vehicle or its documents.

The forum headed by Jagroop Singh Mahal observed: “The procedure adopted by Premier Motors is wrong. When they delivered the car to the complainant, they have no right to retain its papers. Delivery of the car without papers means that it was still in the ownership of the motor company. But it has put unnecessary responsibility on the complainant to get it insured and to maintain it. Now, the value of the car has also depreciated and its model has come down by two years. Thus, the showroom selling vehicle is also liable to pay amount spent on insurance and for depreciation of the model.”

The forum asked Premier Motors to immediately hand over all documents necessary for registration of the car to Kulwant.



HC notice on market panel poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Acting on a petition for directions to the UT administration to constitute market committee in accordance with the provisions of the Punjab Agricultural Produce Markets Act, 1961, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for February 1.

In their petition, elected members of the market committee Des Raj Gupta and Rambir Singh Bhatti said even though the tenure of elected market committee members had lapsed on August 24 last year, the UT authorities were not holding fresh elections.

Describing this as illegal, arbitrary, unconstitutional and without any justifiable reason, the petitioners had added that the authorities concerned were acting at the behest of the ruling party. They were scuttling the democratic process envisaged by the Constitution of India and the Markets Act, the petitioner said, while adding that the Act was applicable to the Union Territory of Chandigarh by virtue of Section 1(2) of the Act.



Man gets 5-yr jail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Rajinder Pal was sentenced five years imprisonment by additional district and sessions judge Raj Rahul Garg today for intoxicating the complainant before robbing his valuables.

A fine of Rs 5,000 was also imposed on Rajinder. The accused has also been sentenced one year imprisonment along with Rs 2,000 as fine. Both the sentence will run concurrently.



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