C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Chain snatchers on the prowl
Four incidents in Chandigarh, Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Defying the “intensified patrolling” and anti-snatching nakas across the city, snatchers continue to target gullible people in the city without any fear. Nothing else can explain the rise in incidents of snatchings in the city as miscreant on motorcycle snatched valuables from two women in various parts of the city this afternoon. Similarly, two snatching incidents were reported in Panchkula.

Deep Shikha of Shimla reported to the police alleging that two unidentified youngsters riding on a black motorcycle snatched her gold chain from near Shastri Market in 22. However, in the process, the chain was snapped and the miscreants managed to take away the locket. Giving description of the miscreants, she told the police that they were wearing black clothes and black helmets.

Similarly, two unidentified motorcyclists riding a black Bajaj Pulsar motorcycle snatched a chain of a woman in Sector 41. The complainant, Anju, told the police that she was sitting outside her residence when the incident took place. The description of the youngsters she gave resembled with that of those who were involved in Sector 22 incident.

Two separate cases have been registered in the Sector 17 and 39 police stations in Chandigarh. Similarly in Panchkula, Raj Rani of Sector 9 reported that two unidentified persons snatched her gold chain today. She was sitting outside her residence when the incident took place. In another incident, Shanta of Sector 15 lodged a complaint that her gold chain was snatched in Sector 15 by two unidentified persons. She was walking on road when the miscreants pounced upon her.

Two cases have been registered in Panchkula in this connection.



Fire-fighting system failed: PCA
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
A day after a major fire gutted the fourth floor of the Punjab Cricket Association, it admitted that the stadium had “some shorcomings” in its fire-fighting system.

The stadium’s fire-fighting system failed to operate during yesterday’s fire in which hundreds of workers had a providential escape.

Learning a lesson from yesterday’s fire, the authorities have now planned to install advanced fire-fighting system at the premises.

Besides, some of the staff members of the association will also put under special training to cope with emergency situations, say PCA officials.

The fourth floor of the main building of the stadium, which houses VIP AC Lounge and commentary box, was completely gutted in the fire that broke out yesterday afternoon here. The building was under renovation process.

On the failure of their fire-fighting system as well as the inefficiency of their staff to deal with such emergency situations, Colonel S.S. Gill, general manager (retd), Projects, admitted that there were some shortcomings.

“We are aware of the shortcomings but all loopholes will be plugged as we are contemplating to install more advance fire-fighting system. Apart from that, fire retardant material will be used in insulation of air-conditioned ducts”, said Gill.

Some staff members would also be trained to deal with such situations, added Gill.

On the estimated loss, being suffered due to fire, PCA CEO Brig G S Sandhu (retd), said the loss was yet to be ascertained. “However, the survey by the insurance team has been done. They have also videographed the site. Besides, the officials of the PCA are also scheduled to meet tomorrow to assess the estimated loss.

To check the damage on the building due to fire, the PCA’s structure engineer will also come.

Keeping in view of the coming Indian Premier League, starting from April 18, the PCA officials said the renovation work got setback due to the incident, the stadium would be readied before March 31, the deadline set by the authorities.

At least, seven IPL matches would be held at the stadium.



Autorickshaw overturns, driver killed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
An autorickshaw driver, Shamsher Singh of Sector 37, was killed after his vehicle overturned when he lost control over his vehicle while negotiating a turn, late last night.

According to the police, the 39-year-old victim was alone in his vehicle when the incident took place.

He was taking a turn from a slip road near gurdwara in Sector 37 when he lost control over his vehicle. He was rushed to Sector 16 Government Multi Specialty Hospital where he was declared dead.

The police initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code in this regard.



Medical tourism can wait; basic healthcare first
Amar Singh languishing for four months
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
It’s painful to see old, ailing people languishing for medical attention in a city that never tires of flaunting its healthcare and social justice policies.

Come to think of it -- there are close to 60 voluntary organisations in Chandigarh and at least 15 helplines to support people in need of care.

But for some reason, none of them has managed to spot the 70-something Amar Singh, who has been living at the Sector 30 bus stop, adjacent to CBI office, for about four months.

Alone and incapacitated, he can barely move; so he lies in a corner all day, awaiting help.

Today -- after several months -- two people came to see him and offered financial assistance.

Two doctors also came after reading about Amar Singh’s plight in The Tribune yesterday; the piece was about poor public healthcare in Punjab, and it began with Amar Singh’s life story.

Singh had no idea why help was pouring. He said, “I heard someone had written something about me in a newspaper. Please write again today. Maybe someone will take me to a hospital. Also please get me a blanket. I feel very cold.”

Disabled in an accident 16 months ago, Amar Singh is in desperate need of medical help and care, but none of the hospitals in the city have offered any help. The problem is money, which many NGOs in the city have in plenty.

The Chandigarh Social Welfare Department funds several voluntary organisations for the purpose of helping the poor and needy.

The Chandigarh Social Welfare Board is yet another funding agency. The Indian Red Cross Society has funds available for the care and support of poor patients like Amar Singh.

The society can also arrange free medicines and medical treatment for such people. If that was less -- there are four old age homes for the destitute in this city, now selling its medical tourism potential.

Perhaps there is a need for doctors to move out of air conditioned conference halls and first ensure basic healthcare for the needy.

The city’s bus stops and other open spaces are full of old, ailing people like Amar Singh. What’s lacking is Good Samaritans.



Zirakpur gets Rs 85 crore for development
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, February 10
The centre government has sanctioned a grant of Rs 75 crore for planned and overall development of Zirakpur while the Punjab government has released Rs 10 crore for the same. This was disclosed by Punjab cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh while handing over cheques for the amount to president of Zirakpur NAC at a function here today.

Capt Singh said although Punjab's share accounted to almost Rs 7.5 lakh, it was contributing more for accelerating growth in the area. He said this grant would be used for ensuring 100 per cent supply of potable water and sewerage facility to residents of the town.

He said till date projects for more than Rs 91 crore had been sanctioned for the town after the SAD-BJP assumed power. He said besides the above projects, work was on full swing for Dhakoli power sub-station and upgrading of Bhabat sub-station.

He said although Zirakpur was establish just a few years back, its NAC, under the leadership of Narinder Sharma and his team, had succeeded in providing basic amenities to the residents. He said now when SAD-BJP combine was in power, there would be no shortage of funds for development and the city would witness tremendous growth.

He said after the release of today's grants, works would be undertaken on a war footing and efforts would be made to complete them within this financial year. He said besides potable water and sewerage projects, works for constructions of about 15 kms of road would also be taken up.

Zirakpur NAC president Sharma thanked the minister for the grants and demanded that a college, hospital and stadium be set up in the town. He disclosed that eight projects for drinking water and sewerage were inaugurated today and work on water tanks would start soon. NAC vice-president Manisha Malik and presidents of the local welfare associations also spoke.



Burglary at cop’s house
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Thieves struck at the house of a police officer in Sector 42 Police Colony here last night and decamped with articles worth about Rs 2 lakh.

It is learnt that the thieves broke open the house of sub-inspector Diwan Singh, in charge of the Sector 61 police post, as the family had gone out of station. The incident came to light when Diwan Singh reached home and found the locks broken. The house was ransacked and jewellery, clothes and some foreign currency worth about Rs 2 lakh was found missing.

The police said though the exact loss of the articles missing was yet to be ascertained, the rough estimate was said to be around Rs 2 lakh.

Diwan Singh said he went to Amritsar on Saturday after his one of his relatives met with an accident there. He came back this morning and found that the house was burgled. Interestingly, two station house officers of the Chandigarh Police are immediate neighbours of Diwan Singh.



Nod to panel suggestions on KC theatre
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The administration has agreed to the recommendations of the expert committee on relaxations in the architectural controls that can be offered for converting the local KC theatre into a multiplex.

The relaxations will take into account adherence to the special character of the site that was envisioned by Le Corbusier as a building of special architecture, viz shell architecture.

The committee comprising senior architects, including some former chief architects of UT, has suggested 10 per cent extra floor area ratio (FAR), ground coverage and height. Apart from the recommendations of the committee, legal opinion had also been sought by the administration.

Ashok Kumar, managing partner of the KC, said the matter was under consideration of the administration and he had not received any intimation in this regard.

Sources in the administration said that after getting the nod of the administration, the management of the KC theatre would be asked to submit the plans according to the new norms.

The norms would not apply to any other application received under the conversion into multiplex category.

Approximately five years after the local KC theatre applied for conversion into a multiplex, the administration has rejected at least nine plans submitted by the KC management. One of the proposals was a unique structure designed by an architecture firm from Australia.

The structure has a specially designed dome, fit to house enough commercial and film screening infrastructure which was not possible in the original theatre complex.

Allotted in 1978, the theatre had become functional in 1982. The total area of the site is approximately 1.5 acres. 



Study: Attitude of public info officers hostile
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The Right to Information Act is now more than two years old but bureaucrats’ indifference to this piece of legislation continues.

This was brought out in a survey of the act’s implementation in eight states.

The study showed that the attitude of the public information officers was apathetic and hostile.

Around 60 per cent of them said they were harassed or denied information, which meant that the information commissions had not sent the right signals down the ladder.

Conducted by Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), the study concluded that while information under the act was accessible to the middle class, the poor and marginalised were kept out of the loop, which was totally contrary to the objectives of the act.

Another survey of 70 government departments in Chandigarh showed that in 90 per cent of the cases, the employees did not know who their PIOS were.

In 76 per cent of the cases the office did not accept RTI applications.

Findings also showed that 70 public offices in Chandigarh did not even display mandatory disclosures and PIOs were not accessible in 40 per cent of the cases.

Even in cases where the Information Commissions took punitive action against officials for not fulfilling their obligation under the act, the fines were slow to be realised.

In fact, an audit report showed that in the two years of the act, penalties added up to Rs 10 lakh but only Rs 2 lakh had been realised.

The Central Information Commission has asked the finance ministry to recover the fines from the officials’ salaries rather than to wait for departmental heads to do so.

The RTI Act has helped serve not only individual grievances but also brought out some changes in the system.

As in the case of Deepankar Jain, who sought the daily progress report of his passport application from the Delhi Regional Passport Office under the act, but did not get it even after three years.

His application to the CIC resulted in the disclosure that his application “could not be found in the passport office.”

Considering that there had been similar cases of irregularity in applications, the CIC asked the head of passport division at the Centre to institute systematised servicing of RTI applications.

While several individuals had benefited from the Act, some had been making use of it to settle scores or stall action against them. One such case that caught the attention of the CIC was that of a Navodhaya teacher, who had sought over 20-year-old records concerning thousands of employees of the school.

The commission directed the school to ignore the teacher’s RTI application.

This followed the disclosure that the teacher, Ramesh Chandra, and his wife, in an effort to stop his transfer, had moved the Central Administrative Tribunal, the high court and the National Commission for Scheduled Castes before taking recourse to RTI.

Terming it as “worst misuse of the act”, information commissioner, O.P.Kejriwal, said, “The present case is an example of the ridiculous length to which a person can take a beneficial piece of legislation and make a mockery of it.”



93,000 kids get polio drops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
As many as 93,100 children below five years were administered two additional drops of polio vaccine during the first day of the pulse polio immunisation campaign here today.

According to a press note, 454 stationary and 93 mobile booths were set up at locations convenient to the people and these were manned by 2100 personnel drawn from the departments of health, education, social welfare and the police.

Director, Health and Family Welfare, Manjit Singh Bains, district family welfare officer Kavita Talwar, district immunisation officer G Diwan and other Health Department officers visited the immunisation booths in different parts of the city and immunised few children.



‘Getting manpower a challenge’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Human resource management is emerging as a major challenge for the Merchant Navy.

Chairman-cum-managing director of the Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) S. Hajara said there has been a decline in the number of candidates wanting to join the Merchant Navy.

“The Merchant Navy is no longer being considered as a lucrative and adventurous career,” he said.

“This could be because with professional advances, ships spend just a few hours at a port which does not give officers an opportunity to go ashore and explore new lands,” he added.



Women Empowerment
Change in people’s mindset must, says Justice Bhan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Justice Ashok Bhan of the Supreme Court of India and executive chairman, National Legal Services Authority, yesterday stressed the need for change in the mindset of the people for empowerment of women and added that mere lip service to refer women as “Durga” would not serve the purpose. Justice Bhan was inaugurating a summit on women empowerment organised by the Haryana State Legal Services Authority and Chandigarh Legal Services Authority at Panjab University here.

He stressed the need for giving social, political and economic rights to women. He said a law had been enforced to give equal share to women in property and added that law would only help them, but the change in society would come with a change in mindset of the people. The women, who constituted 50 per cent of society, should not be deprived of their political, social and economic rights, he added.

Justice J.S. Khehar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and executive chairman, Chandigarh Legal Services Authority, urged the people to keep the women in high esteem. Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and executive chairman of the Haryana State Legal Services Authority (HSLSA), who presided over the summit, described the issue of women empowerment as a global concern and added that Indian courts had contributed to women empowerment through their judgements. Earlier, Justice Bhan lit a traditional lamp to inaugurate the summit. 



Site for dog pound ‘inappropriate’
Land to be short-listed in Maloya or Hallo Majra
Deepti Verma and Esha Fotedar

Chandigarh, February 10
The Chandigarh dog pound, which was to be built in Dhanas, is now expected to come up either in Maloya or Hallo Majra. According to sources, the site in Dhanas was found “inappropriate” after it was discovered that a school and a residential area are located on either side of the site.

It is learnt that the municipal corporation has now short-listed a piece of land in Maloya.

Maloya Gram Panchayat owns the land, which is under the authority of Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC). Sources, however, stated that land could also be short-listed in Hallo Majra and nothing was final as yet. A final approval of the site has to be done by the UT administration.

“The land earmarked in Dhanas was one acre and was rejected by the financial secretary. So now we are searching for a piece of land on the outskirts of the city," stated the mayor, Pradeep Chhabra.

The issue was also discussed at the coordination meeting of UT-MCC held this week. Pradip Mehra, advisor to the Administrator, assured the allotment of land for dog pound and disposal of carcasses centre within a week. Currently, the MC is getting stray dogs sterilised with the help of the SPCA (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and PFA (People for Animals). These two organisations charge Rs 370 per dog. But the capacity of these two organisations is limited. The number of dogs getting sterilised is much less as compared to the population of stray dogs, which is increasing at a rapid pace. As a result, there is difficulty in controlling the population of stray dogs.

The MCC is planning to get in touch with some private hospitals for vaccination and sterilisation of the dogs so that the menace created by these dogs in the city can be controlled. The dog pound, the MC hopes, will be a step towards controlling the stray-dog population and keeping dogs in need of care.



Neem oil can be diesel’s substitute: Expert
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 10
As the national conference at Chandigarh Engineering College entered its 2nd day, several technology issues were discussed among experts on the occasion.

The conference ended on a healthy note that technology was and could be used in progressive as well as destructive ways, but in both ways it is affecting the way of living in a big way. The research papers presented today included both from renowned academicians and experts from the industry.

The fast depleting stock of fossil has forced us to look in for alternative energy sources. Dileep Kumar Gupta from BRCM College of Engineering and Technology expressed these views in his talk during the conference “Trends in Mechanical Engineering” at Chandigarh Engineering College. He suggested that neem oil in the form of neem methyl ester can be used as a substitute of diesel in diesel engine. He said NME is a good option because of its availability and good thermodynamic property.

While Anurag Kumar, M. Tech student from IIT Roorkee, expressed thoughts on alternate hydro energy centre.

Another expert Radhey Sham from CEC, Landran, discussed the aspects of nano-technology. He suggested that nano-technology was helping in experimenting in various aspects of living. It offers a variety of applications such as bio-sensors, which makes use of individual molecules for instant medical diagnoses. It also provides smart materials with new property for construction, arrow space and transport.

One of the technical experts who chaired technical sessions during the conference, Prof K.S. Panesar stressed the importance of global positioning system.



Now, babus to have own club
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
In what can add a new air of exclusivity to the city’s status-conscious social circle, the Administration will set up a social club that will be for bureaucrats to wine, dine and enjoy their evenings in exclusive style and with no prying eyes of “private persons”.

The membership will be open for the serving and retired IAS, IPS, PCS and HCS officers and will be located in a prime location in the city. Sources in the Administration said plans had been drawn up and a society would be formed to run the administration of the club on a day-to-day basis.

This society would be headed by the adviser to the UT Administrator and would have other bureaucrats posted with the Chandigarh Adminitsration, Punjab and Haryana. A decision had been made in principle and final shape would be given in the coming few weeks.

Sources said a 4-5 acre site was being scouted in the southern sectors and also in the sectors north of the Madhya Marg. The need for such club was felt as the bureaucracy felt “awkward” at the Chandigarh Club that is primarily has professionals and businessmen as members and in its governing body. At the Golf Club, a person had to be golf player before getting its membership. The defence services already have an exclusive club Defence Services Officers Institute (DSOI) in Sector 36 and another option of socialising at the Western Command headquarters at Chandimandir. Journalists also have their own Press Club in Sector 27.

There are more than 2,500 serving and retired officers living in Chandigarh. The membership will be open to officers of other cadres also and not just be restricted to the Punjab, Haryana or UT cadres. Since large number of Punjabi officers are working in other cadres, they would also prefer to have membership of the club and enjoy the facilities whenever they are around.

Several retired officers of other cadres are also residing in Chandigarh, Mohali or Panchkula. Such social clubs for the civil services officers were the done thing when the civil services were established by the British to administer this vast country.

The bureaucracy had done its initial home work on the keenness among the officers for setting up such a club and found that idea had been accepted and endorsed by senior officers.



Refined oil prices up by 10-15 pc
Middle-class houeholds feel the pinch
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Next time you cook your vegetables, fry paranthas or pakoras, your hands will surely tremble as you pour refined oil. With the prices of the quintessential cooking ingredient- edible oil - touching an all-time high, the middle-class household is feeling the pinch.

Over the past two months, the prices of all refined oils have continued to rise, thanks to the global hike in prices of oilseeds. The prices of all kinds of refined oils - groundnut, soybean, sunflower and cottonseed - have increased by 10-15 per cent over the past two months. Trade analysts say that giving the global scenario, the prices are expected to increase by another 5-8 per cent.

Sunil Bansal of Underhill Supermarket, Sector 11, Panchkula, said the prices of all edible oils had been increasing since November. “Though we hear that this hike in prices is a global phenomenon, but each year, just before the onset of winters, the prices of edible oils go up. This is also the time when the consumption of edible oil is high,” he said.

Rahul Sachdeva, an employee in a private engineering college at Dera Bassi, said the entire household budget got upset because of the hike. “Earlier, I would buy my monthly stock of groundnut oil for Rs 240, but now I have to shell out Rs 280 a month. I have now thought of using soybean oil, which is cheaper than groundnut oil,” he said.

In fact, he is not alone. A number of households are now shifting from groundnut oil to cottonseed or soybean oil. The price of groundnut oil has increased from Rs 80 to Rs 93 per kg. In the case of soybean oil, the price has gone up from Rs 60 per litre to Rs 70 per litre, while the price of cottonseed oil has seen a hike of Rs 5 per litre (from Rs 60 to Rs 65 per litre).

Even the prices of mustard oil, which is used more in the winters, has increased by Rs 10 a litre. The price has increased from Rs 62 a litre to Rs 73- 75 a litre now. 



Curb noise pollution

Although there is a law prohibiting the use of loud speakers all over the country, its yet to implemented completely.

I do not mind if the loud speakers are used by the preachers of religious institutions, but the volume should be kept low so that people in the neighbourhood, particularly students, patients and senior citizens, are not disturbed. We should take a cue from the west where loudspeakers are used but at a low volume.

Tarlok Singh, Mani Majra

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Law Moot Court competition concludes
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 10
Surana and Surana International Attorney’s National Corporate Law Moot Court competition concluded today with Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar, emerging as the winning team.

From about 44 participating teams, Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar and National Law Institute University, Bhopal, made it up to the final round, beating Government Law College, Mumbai, and National Law University, Jodhpur in the semi-finals.

Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Vijender Jain was the chief guest for the valedictory function, which was presided over by Justice Mongia.

Eminet judges and lawyers, including Justice Daya Chaudhary, Anupam Gupta, Chitranjan Aggarwal, Prof Gurjeet Singh and Randeep Singh Rai, were the judges at the final competition.

Chief Justice Vijender Jain, said he was very impressed by the Army Institute of Law, Mohali, and it was his third visit in one and a quarter years.

Justice Mongia at Army Institute of Law, Mohali, extolled the importance of sincerity and dedication in the field of law. Encouraging all the winners and participants of the competition, he advised them not to look for shortcuts to success.

Earlier, Principal Dr Anjana Kakar extended a warm welcome to all the guests and dignitaries. Vinod Surana, CEO Surana and Surana, head academic initiative, delivered the vote of thanks.

The results of the moot court competition were as follows: Best Team: Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar; Best Memorial: Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar; Best Student Advocate: Vikram Nayak, Government Law college, Mumbai. Cash prizes worth Rs 5,4000 were awarded to winners under different categories.



Now students can take TOEFL in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The people from north India, particularly J&K, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, would not have to go all the way to Gurgaon to take the TOEFL test. With the conduct of the first Toefl iBT test at Grey Matters, Sector 17, the city has got four big ETS Certified Test Administration Site (CTAS) computer labs.

Sonia Dhawan, director Grey Matters, explained that earlier the students desirous of going to USA, Canada & UK had to go all the way to Gurgaon to give their TOEFL test. But with these four CTAS state of the art labs functioning in the city heart, the pent up demand of the students has been met.



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