C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

UT needs to get its Act together
* Administrator’s office has no info officer
* Queries processed by dept CPIOs
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Two years after the Right to Information (RTI) Act was passed, the office of UT Administrator does not have its own central public information officer (CPIO). Queries addressed to the highest office of the UT are being processed by CPIOs in different departments.

The appaling fact came to light on January 15 following a letter from the office of the home secretary to Livleen Singh, who had in December last sought information under the RTI from Administrator/Governor House, Punjab.

The letter from superintendent home (designated as CPIO in the home secretary’s office) reads: “Your application dated December 20, 2007, addressed to the office of the UT Administrator/ Governor House, Punjab, has been received by the undersigned as no central public information officer stands appointed exclusively for the office of Administrator, UT, Chandigarh.”

Going by the RTI Act, UT Administrator’s office qualifies as a public authority, being a constitutional office created under Article 239 of the Constitution. Section 2 (h) of the Act defines public authority as “any authority ….or institution of self-government established or constituted by or under the Constitution.” Considering this, the UT Administrator’s office needs an independent CPIO.

Also, this office is yet to make proactive disclosures under Section 4(1) (b) of the RTI Act which requires any public authority to publish details like powers, functions and duties of persons working under the office, decision-making processes, important documents held et al.

The UT administration, however, has a reason for not having a CPIO for the Administrator’s office. Vivek Atray, director, public relations, when contacted, said there was no requirement for a CPIO for the Administrator's office as no official records were maintained at this office.

“ The UT Administrator signs the files and the records are kept by respective departments. Queries under the RTI addressed to the Administrator are, therefore, marked to CPIOs in respective departments and processed by them,” said Atray.

About non-publication of proactive disclosures by the Administrator’s office, a senior UT official said these disclosures had been made by the office of the Punjab Governor.

But it is argued that the Administrator’s office must make proactive disclosures because the Administrator has executive powers and he approves projects undertaken by the Administration.

Given this, information regarding policy decisions taken and approved by the Administrator in his capacity as public authority need to be published under the RTI Act.



Kalka residents get stay on removal of ‘encroachment’ from SC
4-laning hits speed bump
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 27
The preparation of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to remove “encroachment” on the national highway along the Kalka road has come to a standstill with the Supreme Court of India ordering stay on recovery of possession.

Acting on a special leave petition filed by Kalka residents seeking directions against the pulling down their properties, the apex court has ordered stay on recovery of possession. The orders were issued by the bench comprising Justice S H Kapadia and Justice B Sudershan Reddy on Friday.

The judges on the petition filed by Suresh Kumar Mittal and others versus the Union of India and others also observed that “Issue notice” limited to the question as to why the matter should not be remitted to the high court for fresh consideration. The orders are returnable within three weeks.

The executive engineer, Construction Division (NH) PWD Border and Roads, Panchkula, had issued notices to hundreds of people in Kalka to remove “encroachments” by December 13, after which the residents challenged the decision in the high court. The residents also organised rallies, dharnas and hunger strike protesting against the proposed demolition of alleged encroachments.

In fact, the Central Government had awarded the contract for the four-laning of this stretch of road to ease the traffic on the busy road which is proving to be a motorists nightmare. The Rs 295-crore project, entailing the construction of the Pinjore-Kalka-Parwanoo bypass as a part of the four-laning, was awarded to Jaiprakash Associates on a built-operate-and-transfer (BOT) basis in September last year.

The project involves four-laning of 281.69 km and six-lane structures, such as bridges, grade separators, flyovers and underpasses. Out of this, 11.250 km are on a new alignment for a combined bypass for highly congested towns of Pinjore and Kalka in Haryana and Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh. The proposed bypass, which will reportedly take off from near Mallah, just before Yadavindra Gardens in Pinjore, will meet the NH-22 near Parwanoo.



Better transport for tricity on cards
Land for trauma centre allotted in Sector 53: Adviser
Tribune News Service

Adviser announces

  • Athletics-cum-football stadium in Sector 56
  • 7 more Gram Sampark Centres in villages
  • 66 KV substation in southern sector
  • Infrastructure at GMSH-16 to be upgraded
  • Attendance scholarship for girls hiked

Chandigarh, January 27
In the coming months, residents of the tricity can look forward for an integrated transport system in the region.

Hinting at an integrated approach to the future transport needs, UT adviser Pradip Mehra, while addressing a gathering at Republic Day, here said the administration as well as state governments of Punjab and Haryana were jointly working on these lines. The architectural and environmental considerations would be definitely kept in mind while finalising the metro project.

Several initiatives on the front of education, sports, infrastructural facilities were listed by the adviser in his speech. The administration has commenced work on 170 new projects. On greening the city, the city has planned to plant 1 million tree programme.

There is good news on the sports front. After successful organising the one-day International Cricket match between India and Australia, the sports department plans to build a new athletics-cum-football stadium with all state-of-art-facilities in Sector 56 and with a seating capacity of 40,000 spectators. Indoor provisions for basketball, volleyball, judo and wrestling would also be provided in this stadium.

For the better governance, the IT department has announced seven more Gram Sampark Centres in Palsora, Dadu Majra, Hallo Majra, Khuda Alisher, Daria, Mauli Jagran and Maloya villages. The sampark centres in Sectors 26, 32 and 34 have been proposed and new services like payment of BSNL bills, payment of the LIC premium, school fees collection and tubewell booking, especially for rural citizens, would also be incorporated this year.

The adviser said apart from upgrading the infrastructure at the Government Multi Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, land for a regional trauma centre has been allocated in Sector 53.

For the better traffic management, eight underpasses at different important intersections have been planned. The Sector 17 was being made a no-vehicle zone and new parking areas were being created.

In a significant decision, the administration has decided to start many new schemes from the new academic session for schedule castes and girl students. The attendance scholarship being given to girl students of the general category had been increased from Rs 30 per month to Rs 250 per month for a period for Class 1st to 5th.

The tuition fee of Muslims, Christians, Other Backward Classes, Handicapped, ward of freedom fighters, ex-serviceman, widows and divorces having family income below Rs 1.5 lakh per year had been exempted.



Tricity schools closed today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
All government and private schools in Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali will remain closed tomorrow.

This was announced at Republic Day functions organised in the tricity yesterday. However, YPS Mohali will remain open, according to official sources.



Gandhigiri at Burail jail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
For inmates of Model Jail, Burail, this Republic Day was a bit different. Waking up to Gandhian thoughts, they enrolled for a unique project that seeks to trigger positive changes in their character. Called Gandhi Peace Exam, the project was launched by Mr Justice Permod Kohli of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Developed by Maharashtra-based voluntary organisation Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal, the unique and innovative project has been replicated in many jails across the country. Most recently it was launched at Patiala Jail, where the results, claim organisers, were heartening. In Chandigarh, however, local factors will influence the success of the project. And the organisers - Chandigarh police, Yuvsatta and Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal - are aware of the challenges and are geared for them.

To begin with, the month-long programme will involve distribution of autobiographies of Mahatma Gandhi among the inmates. This initial step will be followed by orientation lectures on Gandhian thoughts by Yuvsatta volunteers and weekly shows of internationally acclaimed films on Gandhi like “Gandhi” by Richard Attenborough, “Lage Raho Munnabhai” and “Do Aankeh Barah Hath” by V. Shantaram.

At the end of the programme, an objective-type Gandhi peace exam will be organised to test the insight prisoners have gained into the life and philosophy of Gandhi. Awards will be given to the best among them.

Talking about the initiative, N.P.S. Randhawa, superintendent, Burail jail, said the project would help the rehabilitation programme for inmates. “It is based on the Gandhian thought of hate the evil, not the doer,” he added.

In his inaugural address, chief guest Mr Justice Kohli said the power of patience and positive thoughts could help people tide over the trickiest of the circumstances. “Propagating the reading of Gandhi autobiography is a good start to reform persons who strayed from the path of goodness due to varying circumstances in life,” he said. He later distributed autobiographies of Gandhi among the first batch of 50 inmates.

On the behalf of organisers, he also presented photo frames of Gandhi and Gandhian literature to K.K. Garg, district session judge, R.S. Attri, additional session judge, and N.P.S. Randhawa.



Security Lapses
RBI to banks: Get your act together
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Laxity in security arrangements at banks, especially those located in rural areas in the region, has led to a spurt of bank heists. Security gadgets installed at these banks have not been tested for years, CCTVs have not been installed at currency chests of banks and sanctioned strength of security guards is not maintained.

Police patrolling near the banks is necessary, but majority do not maintain registers where entries by police patrol parties should be made on a regular basis. In many branches, where private security is employed, police verification of the security men’s antecedents have not been done.

Taking a serious note of these security lapses, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has cautioned the banks to get their act together.

These issues were discussed at length at the state level security committee meetings of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh held recently.

The banks were asked to go in for CCTVs as it is effective in identifying miscreants, installing of the cameras inside currency chest strong rooms /vaults so that activities inside these rooms can be monitored.

The banks have also been pulled up over non-functional security gadgets and hotline. In most of the banks in Punjab, where dacoities have been reported, security gadgets were not used at the time of the incident.

The RBI has now advised the banks to train their staff in these security gadgets and mock rehearsals be conducted to check the reaction time of the police and staff.

In many branches, audit is not conducted on a regular basis. Generally, the banks have to send a request to the Fire Department, requesting them for a fire audit. In many cases the bank has failed to do so and fire audits have not been done for years.



Satire on foeticide marks Republic Day celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
After unfurling the tricolour at the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the Republic Day celebrations, Chief Justice Vijender Jain on Saturday announced the continuation of crusade against female foeticide and drug addiction.

A satire to foreground the maladies of female foeticide, drug addiction and other social evils was also presented by three High Court advocates Ranjivan Singh, H.S. Dhillon and B.P. Singh Gill. They were attired as ‘bhands’.

Chief Justice Jain also stressed upon the need for adequate manpower for expeditious disposal of cases. He said justice could be delivered speedily only if there were adequate numbers of officers to man our courts. The Chief Justice was also appreciative of the government for increasing the sanctioned strength of the High Court from 53 to 68 Judges.

The flag unfurling ceremony was followed by the national anthem by students of Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 36, Chandigarh. After Indo Tibetan Border Police jawans gave the ceremonial salute, students crooned patriotic songs.

Tiny tots baby Ritu Raag Kaur and Jasleen Kaur performed "Na mummy Na" based on a poem on female foeticide by Dr Gurminder Sidhu. The Chief Justice also gave away certificate of appreciation to the presiding officers of the mobile courts of Punjab and Haryana besides awarding certificates of appreciation others participants.

The National Flag was also hoisted by Mohinder Singh, accountant general, Haryana, during the 59th Republic Day celebrations at the office of accountant general, Haryana, yesterday. The function was presided over by Jagbans Singh, accountant general (audit). He distributed prizes to the winners of various competitions organised on the occasion.

Meanwhile, Kamla Sharma, BJP president, Chandigarh, unfurled the National Flag in the party office, Sector 33, Chandigarh. Ex-MP Satya Pal Jain and other state office-bearers were present.



Martyrs’ kin honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Mayor Pardeep Chhabra unfurled the National Flag on the occasion of 59th Republic Day at the municipal corporation office yesterday.

The mayor highlighted the achievements of the MC and also emphasised on the future focus of the MC.

“The elected representatives of the people are working for the progress of the city and its people. Chandigarh is exploring its potential day by day and is attaining an international recognition and the support of people is necessary to realise all its dreams,” he stated.

Meanwhile, he honoured the families of the martyrs of the city, who sacrificed their lives while defending the Indian borders.

The families who were honoured included father of 2 Lt Rajiv Sandhu, MVC (posthumous) D.S. Sandhu, father of Capt Rohit Kaushal (SM posthumous) S.S. Kaushal, father of 2 Lt Anil Yadav (sena medal posthumous) Col H.S. Yadav and wife of Major I.S. Babbar (Kirti Chakra posthumous) Shalini Bhandral.

“This was a befitting tribute and a step in the right direction to honour the families of the martyrs and inculcate spirit of nationalism amongst the citizens,” stated the mayor.

Meanwhile, impressive parades and hosting of the National Flag marked the Republic Day celebrations at the PGI and GMCH here yesterday.

Dr K.K. Talwar, director, PGI, hoisted the National Flag and took salute of the impressive march past by the PGI security staff.



Day temp rises, nights are cold
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
The biting cold partially loosened its hold over the city today, with the day temperature rising by 3.6 degree as compared to January 25, the coldest day recorded this winter. Although a clear and sunny day brought some respite from cold till this afternoon, the chill returned towards the evening to linger well past dusk; night temperature remained a low of 3.6 degree although it rose a little as compared to 3.4 degree recorded on January 25. As for the day temperature, it rose today after many days of constant decline.



Water supply to remain suspended tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Water supply in the city will remain suspended for a few hours on January 29 and 30 due to repair work being undertaken in Mohali for replacement of delivery header and machinery for water supply scheme of Phase I and II Kajauli.

“In order to minimise inconvenience to the public, it has been decided to allow the shutdown on four different days with a gap of a week or so,” stated an MC spokesperson.

The first shutdown is proposed for January 29. As a result, the water supply hours for the entire city on January 29 and 30 will be as under:

Date Supply hours

29.1.08 3 am to 10 am 6 pm to 9 pm

30.1.08 3 am to 9 am 10 am to 12 noon.



Man falls off bus, dies
Tribune News Service

Dera Bassi, January 27
An Uttar Pradesh resident was killed when he fell from a moving bus on Saturday morning here. The incident took place when the victim Soukesh Rai (35) was travelling from Delhi to Chandigarh in a bus. When the bus reached the Dera Bassi toll plaza, Soukesh Rai fell down from bus head long on the road.

Eyewitnesses said the victim fell with a lot of force and seemed to have been pushed from the bus. The bus driver did not realise what had happened and the bus moved on towards Chandigarh.

Injured and unconscious Soukesh was rushed to the Dera Bassi Civil Hospital from where he was shifted to the GMCH Sector 32 Chandigarh. He was again shifted to the PGI where he died last night.



Infant charred to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
In a tragic incident, a six-month-old infant was burnt alive when his quilt caught fire after a burning candle fell on it.

The six-month-old Shubham charred to death at Colony no. 5 on January 25 around 9 pm.

At the time of the incident, the mother of the infant Urmila was away with her three-year-old son to wash clothes at common tap of the colony while her two-year-old daughter and seven-year-old sister Sarojani were at home along with the kid.

According to police sources, the light of the colony went off around 9 pm following which Urmila lit the candle. Then she had to go to wash the clothes as the infant defecated in the clothes. Meanwhile, the candle fell down and the quilt, under which the infant was lying, caught fire.

On hearing cries of Sarojini, the people came to rescue the children.

The daughter and sister of Urmila were saved but the rescuers failed to notice the infant. The matter came to light only after Urmila came. Sarojini also received burns on her hands while all belongings were gutted in the fire.




Ban misuse of LPG

IT is in reference to the news item in Chandigarh Tribune that appeared on January 25 regarding 15-day waiting for LPG supply.

It was said late supply was a usual phenomenon during winter season but I want to add that it is not only due to winter season but other factors also.

First is the misuse of LPG for commercial use and second is the use of gas cylinders in cars. People are using cylinders in the cars which can burst any time due to un-standard kit. It can endanger the lives of car owners as well as passers- bys.

There should be a strict law for banning un-authorised use of LPG. This should be covered under non-bailable offence. In this way, the real domestic users of LPG will be benefited with early supply of gas and there will be a decrease in number of accidents due to gas kits.

G.K. Chopra

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



Meeting on Indian School of Business on Feb 6
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
As the Indian School of Business (ISB) in Hyderabad has sent its proposal for setting up another such school in Mohali, a steering committee headed by chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh will meet on February 6 to formally examine the proposal.

As there is all possibility of the acceptance of the proposal, it will be the first institute of excellence to set a shop in the state. The ISB, which has London School of Business, Kellogg School of Management and Wharton MBA Programme in the University of Pennsylvania as its associate schools and has a student exchange programme with 32 MBA institutes in various countries, including USA, South Africa, Germany, China, France, etc., will be a privately funded institution.

Ramesh Inder Singh said it would be set up on the Andhra Pradesh pattern and the government would have no role to play in it except providing land in the Knowledge City in Mohali. He said about 50 to 60 acres would be provided, though demand was for 100 acres.

Sunil Munjal of the Hero Group of Industries and Analjit Singh of Max India Limited, who are on the board of the ISB in Hyderabad, had played a crucial role in convincing the board of directors of that school to set up another such school in Mohali. The school would have world-class faculty and global curriculum. It would be run with donations from individual, corporate and foundations.

At the school there will be three main streams. The Hero Group of Industries will fund the institute of management studies, Max India Limited will fund the healthcare management stream while Bharti Telecom will funded the public policy stream. Following a request by the Punjab government to set up such a school in the state, Prime Minister’s principal secretary T.K.A. Nair had arranged the meeting of the state government’s officers concerned with the top corporate houses, who agreed to fund the project.

Moreover, as an international airport will soon come up in Mohali, there will be no problem for international faculty to teach at the school.



From Schools & Colleges
Patriotic fervour marks R-Day celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
Principal Vibha Ray of DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, unfurled the Tricolour and released balloons in the air. Students presented patriotic speeches, songs, and poems. Patriotic slogans like “Bharat mata ki jai” filled the atmosphere.

KV AFS: Patriotic zeal pervaded KV AFS High Grounds during the Republic Day celebrations. The chief guest Gp Capt R.K.S. Shera, Station Commander, Air Force Station, hoisted the National Flag.

Sacred Heart School: Sacred Heart Senior Secondary School, Sector 26, celebrated the 59th anniversary of India. The National Flag was hoisted by Sister Sebastina, principal of the school. A debate competition “India Shining?” was organised besides regional dances and songs.

Saint Soilder School: Saint Soilder International School, Sector 28, celebrated the Republic Day with the rendition of National Anthem and unfurling of the National Flag.

Shishu Niketan School: The Republic Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm at Shishu Niketan Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 22. Pardeep Chhabra, mayor of municipal corporation of Chandigarh, hoisted the National Flag. A cultural programme was presented by the students of Class VI and VII.

GGDSD College: Principal, staff and students of GGDSD College, Sector 32, Chandigarh, celebrated the 59th Republic Day. Principal A.C. Vaid hoisted the National Flag. A play “Chandan de Olle,” which condemned the craze of a lot of Indians to run abroad in search of greener pastures, was staged.

Govt College-20: In Government College of Education, Sector 20, as many as 100 students and faculty members celebrated the Republic Day.

GCG-42: The Republic Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm by the staff and students of Government College for Girls, Sector 42, Chandigarh.

DAV-10: Parents of martyr Capt Atul Sharma were chief guests on the Republic Day celebrations in DAV, Sector 10.

Govt College-46: Government College, Sector 46, here celebrated Republic Day with an impressive march past by the NCC Army, Navy and Air Wing cadets followed by unfurling of the National Flag by the principal K.S Saluja.



Patriotic spirit sweeps Mohali schools, colleges
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 27
Enthusiasm marked the spirit of Republic Day at DAV Senior Secondary School, Phase X, where students chanted ‘Jai Bharat’ as principal Jaya Bhardwaj unfurled the Tricolour after a spectacular display of the march past.

Shemrock: Shemrock Secondary School, Sector 69, organised a Republic Day function which was marked by patriotic fervour.

Shivalik Public: Shivalikians got together to celebrate the Republic Day. The school premises were decked up with colourful flags and buntings. Director-principal of the school D.S. Bedi unfurled the National Flag and took the salute at an impressive march past.

Jan Shikshan Sansthan: Jan Shikshan Sansthan celebrated the 59th Republic Day on its campus today. The National Flag was hoisted by Ram Dev, a veteran social worker.

GGSCMT: A small but impressive function marked the Republic Day celebrations in GGSCMT, Karar campus today. Tricolour was displayed on the road to the college and all the vehicles.

Swami Vivekanand Group of Institutes: Swami Vivekanand Group of Institutes, Banur, celebrated Republic Day on the college premises with great zeal and enthusiasm.



‘Change UILS reappear exam system’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
A delegation of the NSUI led by Amarpreet Singh Mann, president, NSUI, PU campus unit, submitted a memorandum to the vice-chancellor demanding changes in the present reappear examination system for the University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS five-year law department).

Under the current system, the students have to wait for a full one year to take the re-appear examination. The NSUI has demanded that the reappear examination should be held in the next semester instead of the next year.

This would save the students from harassment due to unnecessary delay and academic pressure of additional subjects of the next year. This system is already prevalent in the three- year law department. 



PU Notes
R-Day celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 27
An impressive march past, patriotic speeches and songs were the highlights of the Republic Day celebrations at Panjab University here.

Vice-chancellor R.C. Sobti, who took the salute, also flagged off a bus service to Swami Sarvanand Giri Panjab University regional centre, Hoshiarpur, from university campus.

Lajpat Rai Munger, a social worker, had donated the bus.

Meanwhile, Dinesh Sharma, superintendent, single window enquiry, Amara, head mali, Dan Singh, in charge of Prof R.C. Paul Rose Garden, and Vijay Singh, peon, were awarded at the function for their meritorious services.



Demolition of Sheds
Lawyers’ meet: Decision on strike today
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 27
The general house of the District Bar Association will decide on the next course of action here tomorrow. President of the Bar advocate Lalit Gupta said the main agenda at the general house would pertain to filing of criminal cases against the officials of the district administration who were responsible for demolishing the lawyers’ sheds. The house would also decide whether to continue with the strike or not, said the president.

The lawyers at the local courts are on strike since last Monday when the district administration demolished the sheds erected around the courts. The lawyers alleged that the district administration failed to provide them the required number of chambers due to which they were forced to erect sheds on the said land.

Investigations by The Tribune, however, revealed that the lawyers in fact were allotted the land for chambers and they even constructed 113 chambers in a double-storied building. Many of the lawyers at that time decided to stay back in the sheds instead of contributing for the construction of the chambers. Later, it was found that the building was not able to bear the weight of the third storey as the material used in the building was of very inferior quality after which the Bar Association sued the contractor.

This, however, left the building short of 35 chambers and a common room was planned on the third floor.

Even as the practicing lawyers refused to contribute for the chambers, others practicing in the high court were able to get the chambers, said president Gupta. Over 24 lawyers who did not operate from here possessed chambers and many of them even earned lakhs of rupees by selling them to other lawyers, confirmed Gupta.

The lawyers even did not bother to deposit a single penny against the lease amount since the chambers were constructed.

The lawyers were supposed to deposit Rs 50 every month for the chamber but neither the administration ask for it nor the lawyers took any initiative in this regard, said Gupta.

Deputy commissioner Rajinder Kataria refused to comment on the issue. However, he confirmed that the Bar Association was sent a letter in this regard a couple of months back but the administration was yet to receive any reply.



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