C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Coldest day in 16 years
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The day temperature today fell drastically to settle at 9 degrees below normal. The maximum day temperature was 12.8 degrees — the lowest recorded in 16 years. It was in 1992 that the day temperature had plummeted to 12.6 degrees. The Met department said the persisting cold wave laced with rains and snow in Himachal was bringing chill to the city.

Fog disrupted road and air traffic all over the region, including Chandigarh, where the morning visibility was less than 50 metres. With nil visibility, all aero flights bound for the city were cancelled. Schools continued to be closed; markets and places of entertainment wore a deserted look as people stayed indoors.

Strangely, the minimum temperature rose one degree above normal to settle at 8 degrees, a jump of 3.2 degrees from yesterday. The night temperatures rose at several places in Punjab, the minimum dipping to 2.1 degrees at Amritsar, which was the coldest place in the plains followed by Bathinda.

The night temperature, however, rose in Ludhiana, Patiala, Halwara and Pathankot, respectively, which recorded 5.1, 7.7, 6.4 and 9.6 degrees, respectively. In Haryana, the minimum temperature rose to 4.9 at Narnaul, 6.3 at Ambala, 6.7 at Hisar and 7.4 degrees at Karnal.

The mercury dipped to 0.1 degrees in Shimla. Conditions could worsen if it continues to rain and snow in upper reaches of Himachal.



Getting the better of grief...
They join hands to save lives
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
On February 5 last, Ramnik and Jaideep Sekhon’s son died in a tragic car crash at the rotary dividing Sectors 3 and 4. The site was pitch dark. None of the six occupants of Honda City could see the roundabout ahead.

The speeding car rammed right in, killing three promising youths on the threshold of their careers. It was not their time to die, but Karam Sekhon, Gurjesh Virk and Arjun Bhardwaj, all under 30, couldn’t navigate the killer rotary, whose tear-drop shape is a designer’s blunder.

A year later, the rotary retains its “fatal” reputation. One of the affected families today emerged from their suffering to see if they could save others. For Ramnik Sekhon, the journey from the Sector 8 house where she lives to the Sector 3 roundabout has taken a year.Today, she joined her husband and 50 others in a candlelight vigil that had only one message: “Arrive safe”.

“We have endured so much; we want to help others who might land in a similar situation. The idea is to hammer home the point that road safety is vital. The administration needs to secure its rotaries, people need to remove plantations from blind turns; police need to have emergency care in place.

“My son died on way to hospital. It took an hour to transport him from Sector 3 to Sector 16. The distance did not merit one hour, but the rescue team lost time in opening the car. They had no equipment to cut open the window glass and save trapped victims,” recalls Ramnik, barely managing to hold back her tears.

“ I can’t come to terms with the fact that the administration had not cared to ensure light in the darkest spot on the widest, low-traffic road where people tend to drive fast, she says.

“The rotary had no reflectors, lights or cat’s eye,” recalls Jaideep Sekhon, pointing towards faults in road engineering.

Together, the Sekhons now wish to form a group to talk about road safety.Their primary concern is helping the families of accident victims cope with trauma and telling them where to find help.

Ramnik, who has with her 20 people - some who have lost their dear ones on the road - willing to join hands to save lives.

They held a vigil at the Sector 3 rotary, which continues to consume lives. Last Friday, a 21-year-old motorcyclist was killed in an accident at this very spot.



Film Fest
No large crowds, yet a draw
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The second Chandigarh film festival did not attract large crowds, but it did attracted serious audiences. Unlike last time when free passes went waste, ticketed shows did the festival a lot of good this year.

Occupancy at the films screened during the festival was only 10 per cent, with the Shyam Benegal selection comprising “Zubeida”, “Bhumika” and “Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose: The Forgotten Hero” clearly scoring over the rest.

Naturally, Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Corporate” and “Traffic Signal” was no match to Benegal’s authentic parallel cinema which got the most discerning audiences. Showing at the foreign films also remained poor.

But that’s not to say the going was not good. It was great, says J.S. Jolly, senior vice-president, business operations, Fun Republic. “Weather spoilt the show, with occupancy at every commercial showing at Fun Republic also remaining low,”he explained.

A flat rate of Rs 70 a ticket for any film showing at the festival this time helped lift the spirit of the event, occupancy apart.



Varsity review panel cancels admission
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
In a decision that may result in embarrassment to Panjab University, the committee constituted to review the admission of a girl student in MCA, has decided to recommend to the syndicate to cancel the admission.

The committee, at its meeting today, unanimously decided to ask the syndicate to cancel the admission. Speaking on the matter, G.K. Chatrath, chairman of the committee said: “ We were under the impression that she should be able to complete the three-year MCA within the stipulated time as per the regulations. But it was found that her’s was a case of re-admission. She was given admission in the department in 2004.

“Accordingly, she was to complete the course in 2009, but given the fact that she was re-admitted in January 2008, there is no way she can complete the course in the given time. So the committee has recommended cancelling her admission”.

The girl student was got admission in MCA in 2004-2005 and after completing one semester of the course, left it mid-way. She was re-admitted in the second semester after the syndicate at its meeting on January 8 approved the admission.

The committee comprising Chatrath, Ashok Goyal, A.C. Vaid, Akhtar Mehmood, Naval Kishore, Rabindernath Sharma took today’s decision. Dharinder Tayal and Tarsem Bahia were conspicuous by their absence.



Encroachment poses threat to commuters
Niti Dhani

Chandigarh, February 5
Encroachment by a few residents in Sector 44-B, mainly lawyers, has become a nuisance for the rest.The encroachment poses a serious threat to the lives of commuters as it obstructs vision.

When questioned on the matter, area councillor Harjinder Kaur said: “I am not aware about the encroachment. If any, these will be removed.”

Making matters worse, the sector is plagued with the problem of broken roads and poor functioning of streetlights. Drain water in potholes outside some houses is a major concern for the residents.

The road outside Divya Public School, dotted with potholes, is a nightmare for students and parents.

Jasbir Kaur, a sector resident says: “Its been more than six months since these potholes were repaired. Because of these, we hesitate to drive at night.”

On maintenance of roads, Harjinder Kaur said: “Since a few residents had filed a case against the municipal corporation in court, maintenance of roads could not be undertaken. Now that these residents have withdrawn the case, upgrading will be done soon.”



Art commission proposal shelved?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The proposal to set up an urban art commission in the city seems to have been shelved. According to the mayor, Pardeep Chabbra, the UT home secretary, Krishna Mohan, today stated that there was no move to form the commission and the administration could take up the pending work on its own.

This was discussed at the monthly coordination meeting of the UT and the MC. A decision to set up an art commission had been taken at a special meeting of the administrator’s advisory council last year.

The ministry of home affairs had directed the administration not to sanction or finalise any project until the constitution of the commission. The commission would have the power to reject or modify any plan that affected urban aesthetics. Residential complexes and plans of private buildings would have also come under the purview of the commission.

According to the Mayor, the home secretary was reacting to an issue raised by him. He stated that members of the association of marla houses had applied for need-based changes. “I took up their issue at the meeting today and the home secretary said they had been holding on to various decisions because of the urban art commission,” Chabbra said.

However, a spokesperson for the UT stated that they had not received any communication on the commission from the Government of India and denied that the home secretary had made any such statement.

The committee also discussed various other issues. It was decided that the Sector 38 (west) would be transferred to the UT and Sector 34-A and B will be transferred within three months.



IAF mulls repair units for heavy aircraft
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Search on for new Jaguar engine

The IAF is looking for new engines for its Jaguar strike aircraft. “The aircraft need engines which give it more thrust. Rolls Royce, which manufacture the aircraft’s present engines, and Honeywell are among the possible companies to be awarded the order,” Air Marshal Nayyar said. Though inducted in the late 70s, the production line at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is still open and a few aircraft were manufactured recently.

Chandigarh, February 5
The IAF is examining the feasibility of setting up repair and overhaul facilities for its IL-76 strategic freighter within the country. At present, these aircraft are sent to Russia for major overhaul.

Revealing this, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command, Air Marshal Gautam Nayyar, said the increase in the number of IL-76 platforms after induction of aerial refuellers and the soon-to-be-inducted Phalcon AWACS was the rationale behind setting up those overhaul facilities.

“The Phalcons are very sensitive platforms and it would not be prudent for the Air Force to send them abroad for overhaul,” he said. Both IL-78 refuellers and the Phalcons, of which three are expected to enter service initially, are based upon the IL-76 aircraft. The IAF has six IL-78 refuellers with a proposal to induct another six. The IAF operates one-and-a-half squadron of IL-76 aircraft.

In-house overhaul facilities would substantially cut down on the aircraft-on-ground time, besides saving foreign exchange. At present, an overhaul cycle in Russia takes about six months and given the age of the fleet, sources said two aircraft are in Russia for major overhaul at any given time. Besides several IL 76s also have to remain on ground for varying periods to undergo regular maintenance and repairs, though the serviceability of the fleet is, at present, not a cause of concern.

The IAF began inducting IL-76 aircraft over 20 years ago and is now looking towards extending their life. The force is also examining the option of replacing the IL-76’s engines with more efficient ones, Air Marshal Nayyar said.

Engine replacement, if found suitable, would be carried out when the fleet undergoes upgrade and life extension at a later stage. The avionics suite would also be replaced to meet future requirements.

Recently, the IAF carried out structural modifications on its IL-76’s rear fuselage, removing the aircraft tail-gun turret. Such turrets are an outdated concept and their removal has enabled aircraft to carry an additional about 1,000 kg load.

Air Marshal Nayyar said the IAF was expecting to sign a contract for the AN-32 upgrade and life extension this year. “The programme is required to commence next year,” he said. A major aspect of the programme would be to strengthen the wings of the aircraft.



Printing press set up at paraplegic centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
In order to a give a boost to vocational avenues available to the inmates of the Army-run Paraplegic Rehabilitation Centre (PRC) at Mohali, a printing press has been set up at the centre.

Copies and registers meant for schoolchildren would be printed at this press, which would subsequently be sold to the Kendriya Vidyalayas and Army Public School, Chandimandir, at competitive prices.

The press was inaugurated by Bina Aul, officiating president, Western Command Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA), today. Speaking on the occasion, she said it was a step in the right direction and the profit that accrued from the venture would add to the earnings of inmates to make them self supporting.

Inmates are already receiving vocational training in knitting with machines, cutting and tailoring, rewiring of wire brushes, candle making and caning of chairs with the underlying objective being earn while learn. The centre also has a computer lab to impart computer training to the inmates so that they acquire basic computer skills.

The PRC is a unique institution of its kind which caters to 100 per cent disabled soldiers hailing from the northern, central and eastern regions of the country. The inmates include paraplegics (having both the lower limbs paralysed) and tetraplegics (having all the four limbs paralysed) as a result of spinal cord injuries sustained while on active military. At present the centre has 38 inmates.



Admn makes way for LPG-driven non-AC taxis
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
After the success of AC taxis in the city, the Chandigarh administration has decided to start low-cost LPG-driven non-AC taxis.

UT home secretary Krishna Mohan said applications for non-AC taxis would be invited and the rate would be Rs 6 per km.

The decision has been taken to contain pollution being generated by the increasing number of autorickshaws in the UT.

The decision will provide a low-fare option to passengers.

Krishna Mohan said all precautions to safeguard the interests of passengers would be taken and non-AC vehicles would be fitted with electronic meter.

The operators would be allowed to keep a fleet of 10 taxis each. The vehicles would be linked through a modern communication system with a control room maintained by the operators.



Panel on IT park constituted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The Chandigarh administration has constituted an empowered committee to deal with issues relating to the development of the IT habitat at the IT park here.

The Chandigarh Housing Board is developing residential, commercial and related infrastructural facilities as an integrated project on 123 acres in collaboration with a private builder.

The UT finance secretary, Sanjay Kumar, will be the chairman of the committee and the chief executive officer, CHB, Amar Nath, member-convener.

The chairman of the CHB, Mohanjeet Singh, the DC, R.K. Rao, the MC chief, chief engineer, chief architect and the chief fire officer have been included as members.

To ensure the smooth and timely completion of the project, the committee will monitor the progress of the project and resolve inter-departmental issues.



AFWWA president visits 3 BRD
Advises soldiers’ wives to lead self-sufficient life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
On a four-day visit to 3 Base Repair Depot (BRD) here, Rachita Nayyar, president, Air Force Wives Welfare Association (AFWWA), Maintenance Command, interacted with the wives of air warriors here today and encouraged them to lead a self-sufficient, confident and stress-free life.

Renu Luthra, president of the local chapter of the AFWWA, apprised her of the various developmental activities being carried out at the station for the welfare of the families of the soldiers and discussed measures for promoting those activities further.

The ladies of the station organised a gala cultural programme which included a candle dance sequence with Gayatri mantra followed by Tagore's dance sequence by an AFWWA-run dance school. Hilarious skits were also presented by AFWWA members.

Later, Rachita Nayyar visited 'Prerna', school for underprivileged children being run by 3 BRD AFWWA.



Protest by PSEB employees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The Punjab State Electricity Board Employees Forum held a protest at the rally ground, Sector 25, here today.

Employees said privatisation should be stopped and vacant posts filled. The union said the government was ignoring the interest of the employees and the union had decided to go on strike on February 7. The union said if the government continued to opt for unbundling, the union would further go on a two-day strike. A memorandum was handed over to the officer on special duty to the CM.




Parking blues

We are facing a lot of inconvenience with cars, scooters and buses parked in front and around Aggarwal Nursery, D.A.V. School, Sector 8-C, Chandigarh. Our house number 1195 is just opposite to the school gate. Other houses affected are numbers 1193, 1194, 1196 and 1197.

The problem becomes acute at the opening and closing time of the school, on parent-teacher meeting days and during admissions. People park their vehicles all around the place without realising that it becomes impossible for residents to get out of the house at times. Albeit the school security guard does his best to handle the traffic, people still are indulging in this practice. The administration should look into the matter.

Harbhajan Singh

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PU Mass Comm Dept
HC notice on Khosla’s appointment as chairman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Professor-cum-former head of Panjab University’s Mass Communication Department Dr Sanjay Wadwalkar has again challenged the appointment of Dr Mohanmeet Khosla as the department chairperson-cum-head.

The petition has been filed in less than a month after an earlier petition seeking directions to the varsity and other respondents to consider him for the department chairperson’s post was dismissed as withdrawn.

Terming the appointment as “illegal”, Prof Wadwalkar has asserted that the same was made by the varsity on January 22 after ignoring his rightful claim. Describing himself as the only directly appointed professor in the department, Prof Wadwalkar has added the rules categorically provide that the chairperson’s post has to be given to a directly appointed professor, if available.

In his petition, Prof Wadhwalkar also referred to the advice reportedly tendered in the matter by the university’s legal retainer stressing that a professor could not be made to wait to be designated as chairman or head till the list of lecturers was exhausted.

A professor would have the legitimate right of being considered for such an appointment in preference to a lecturer. As the matter came up for hearing this morning, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Justice Mehtab Singh Gill and Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain issued a notice of motion to Panjab University vice-chancellor, the registrar and the Senate, through the vice-chancellor, besides Dr Khosla for February 29. A notice regarding stay has also been issued.

Prof Wadwalkar had earlier also contended that he was the only eligible candidate in terms of the rules. Quoting the provisions of the university calendar, he had further contended that his claim for the current chairmanship was independent of his previous tenure, when he was a reader in the department. Yet, his claim for the appointment was being ignored in direct violation of provisions contained in the university calendar.



PU Notes
UILS students to attend global conference
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The University Institute of Legal Studies has done the university proud by receiving an invitation to compete in the 54th session of the Harvard National Model United Nations Conference-2008 to be held at Boston, USA, from February 14-17. The department has finalised a team of eight students, including Nitin Gomber, Chitrangada Singh, Shachi Sharma, Angel Sharma, Saurabh Arora, Paramjeet Singh Berwal, Navjosh Singh and Anoop Singh.

Nitin Gomber, a fourth-year student at the UILS, was designated the head of the team. As many as 3,000 delegates from countries all over the world will participate in the conference organised annually by Harvard Law School. The UILS delegation will represent ‘The Gambia’ in the general assembly committees.


The department of geography will organise a national seminar on ‘Human Settlement Dynamics and Population, Economy, Environment Interface’ as a part of the department’s activities under the special assistance programme of the UGC on February 7. The seminar is partially funded by the ICSSR, North Western Region, Chandigarh. Prof G.S. Gosal, professor emeritus, will inaugurate the seminar. Prof S.K. Aggarwal, department of geography, Delhi School of Economics, Delhi University, will deliver the keynote address.


The ABVP (Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarathi Parishad) unit of Panjab University today announced their new panel for the year 2008-2009 during a general house of the unit. Prashant Sharma of the department of laws was declared the president, Sandeep Kajla and Anuj Thakur were announced the vice-presidents, Depinder Saroya was declared the chairman and Dinesh Chauhan of the department of political science was announced the secretary.



From Schools & Colleges
St Stephen's extends holidays till Feb 10
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The primary school (Classes I to V) of St Stephen's School, Sector 45-B, Chandigarh, will remain closed till February 10. The school will re-open on Monday, February 11 at 8 am.

Transfer: On the basis of the inquiry report so far, the education department has decided to transfer the punjabi teacher

Gyandeep for the time being. According to DPI (S) S.K. Setia, a thorough inquiry will be made by the sexual harassment committee on the basis of which further decision will be taken. Setia said seeing the present situation the department had decided to change the school of the Punjabi teacher within two or three days.

DPS dancers win: Delhi Public School, Chandigarh, emerged winner among eight finalists by garnering maximum votes in an audience poll on Disney Channel. Inspired by Disney Channel’s original movie, ‘High School Musical 2’, My School Rocks celebrated dance and music across eight cities in India. It offered kids a unique nationwide opportunity to participate in teams and express themselves.

Competition: The eco club of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 22, organised a drawing and painting competition and an exhibition on oil and energy conservation as a part of Oil Conservation Week.

Interface: Government College for Girls, Sector 42, organised parent-teacher-student interface. A large number of parents attended the interface. College principal Shush Milka also interacted with the parents. Dr J.S. Raga, dean, College Instruction, coordinated the programme.

Programmes: Various departments of Government College, Sector 11, organised a plethora of activities at different venues. The department of commerce and business administration organised an entrepreneurship development programme in association with the directorate of industries, UT administration. College principal Dr A.L.Gabbi inaugurated the programme. Head of the department Prof hangars shared his views with students on government support and mechanism for the promotion of small and medium enterprises. The departments of Hindi and Punjabi also held a paper reading contest for the undergraduate students.



UK delegation talks of common varsity syllabi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
A meeting between a high-level British delegation led by minister of state for home Liam Byrne and UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) was held today to discuss the university-level syllabi and educational curriculum.

General Rodrigues strongly advocated the need for taking major initiatives to give a boost to collaboration in different areas of socio-economic and human resource development and suggested the setting up of a mission with experts from both sides to institutionalise a responsive mechanism to develop programmes and to harmonise business partnership endeavours.

General Rodrigues told the delegation that the region, including Punjab and Chandigarh, was fast moving ahead in different sectors and we had evolved a responsive and accountable system by refining our processes and procedures and streamlining administrative functioning.

A large number of medical colleges and technical education institutions are coming up in different parts of the state and Chandigarh to produce professionals in different fields to meet the future needs of the agriculture industry and other sectors of the economy.



Consumer Courts
Petitioner told to pay Rs 18,000 to respondent
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed a petitioner, Gurcharan Singh, to pay Rs 18,000 as compensation to one of the respondents Tajinder Singh after the UT Car Point, Sector 7, paid him compensation.

The forum has asked the UT Car Point to pay Rs 30,000 as damages to the petitioner. The petitioner had purchased an Indica car for Rs 2.78 lakh for which a token money of Rs 30,000 was given to the UT Car Point.

Gurcharan Singh was assured by the car firm that a no-objection certificate would be given after the petitioner made full and final payment in February 2006.

The petitioner stated that the deal was signed in the presence of Tajinder Singh who was introduced as the owner of the car. However, the firm did not provide Gurcharan with the certificate and the petitioner was told to make the payment.

The firm said it was playing a mediator’s role between Gurcharan and Tajinder and all transactions took place between them.



Notice to UT SSP, home secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Taking up a petition filed by social activist-cum-convener of People for Animals’ Haryana unit Naresh Kadyan seeking the registration of a case against You Tube, Google and others for posting a “highly objectionable video clip” featuring former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Justice Nawab Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion

The notice of motion to the UT SSP, and the Home Secretary was issued after Kadyan appeared in person before for the court to argue the matter. Taking up the case, Justice Nawab Singh also fixed March 28 as the next date of hearing in the matter.

Faridabad-based Kadyan had earlier also written to the police for lodging an FIR against “You Tube” and others. Rather, he had forwarded a complaint to the Haryana DGP. A copy of the same was also forwarded to the state Chief Minister. They were urged to take action against the Internet site under the provisions of the Information Technology Act for hurting the sentiments of people.



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