C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

Valentine’s Day
Khaki subdues Red
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

A hearty welcome at a discotheque.
A hearty welcome at a discotheque.
A wait in vain.
A wait in vain. Tribune photos by Parvesh Chauhan and Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, February 14
With cops having virtually laid a siege to the city, blocking the geri routes and erecting barricades, the festival of warmth remained cool throughout the day. As khaki overpowered red, clipping cupid’s wings, there was no outburst of sentiments.

“We reached the geri route early, hoping to catch some action, but found only the cops and a couple of forlorn balloon sellers patrolling the streets,” said college student Gagandeep Singh.

“There were hardly any youngsters with cheerful heart-shaped balloons and flowers,” said business executive-cum-former city student Neeraj Sharma. “And, whenever the youngsters tried to celebrate the day by playing the music loud, the police caught up with them ”.

Leaving nothing to chance, the cops barricaded the entrance and exit points of Sector 10 and 11 markets. “If the residents were put to inconvenience and the business of shopkeepers suffered, the cops were least bothered,” said Anil Pal Singh Shergill, an advocate and a resident of Sector 10. The area remained out of bounds throughout the day.

Once the venue of prime time celebrations, even Panjab University was lacklustre. “The couples were either too bored or too scared of the men in khaki,” said students from the English department.

Police personnel try to capture a Shiv Sena worker, who was protesting against the celebration of Valentine’s Day, in Chandigarh on Thursday. Police personnel try to capture a Shiv Sena worker, who was protesting against the celebration of Valentine’s Day, in Chandigarh on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan

The Student’s Centre was crowded, but - as law student Chetan Kumar remarked - emotions were lost in the multitude. “The fun was just not there,” said another student Tanisha.

The “flowers of love” did bloom under camouflage in gardens across the city with Shanti Kunj and Rose Garden taking the lead. Besides this, feelings steamed out of cups of tea at café bars. In Leisure Valley, the situation turned ugly with hooligans passing comments.

Some couples were forced to leave the place. At the Sukhna Lake, however, it was serene love as couples enjoyed each other’s company, away from the maddening crowd.



150 challaned; Sainiks stopped

Chandigarh: The police booked 150 motorists, impounded three vehicles and sealed the geri route in the wee hours.

Arresting 40 activists of the Shiv Sena, including president Ajay Chauhan on charges of breach of peace, the police foiled a rally planned from Sector 22 to the Housing Board lights. The Sainiks, who began gathering in the morning, were carrying rods and swords.

The activists planned targeting Valentine’s revelers in the city. There was heavy deployment near all educational institutions. — TNS

Vigilant police personnel check the antecedents of visitors at Sukhna Lake on Valentine’s Day in Chandigarh on Thursday.
Vigilant police personnel check the antecedents of visitors at Sukhna Lake on Valentine’s Day in Chandigarh on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Manoj Mahajan



Stray dogs also go into pvt hands
Mandeep Puri

Chandigarh, February 14
The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation today took a decision regarding the sterilisation of stray dogs at a meeting of the MC house.

According to the Animal Birth Control Act, 2001, stray dogs should be sterilised and not killed. Keeping this in mind, the MC will soon contact private companies, which will look after the sterilisation of these dogs. Currently, the MC is getting the stray dogs sterilised with the help of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and People for Animals (PFA). These organisations charge Rs 370 per dog for sterilisation. As the capacity of the two organisations is limited, the number of dogs sterilised is much less as compared to their population, which is increasing at a rapid pace. As a result there is difficulty in controlling the stray dog population.

According to Pradeep Chhabra, mayor, Municipal Corporation, “The corporation is planning to give the sterilisation contracts to a number of companies. As of now, the two organisations working for the cause sterilise only about 20 to 25 dogs every month. But now MC hopes the process would be faster with sterilisation of around 500 dogs every month.



Fuel Price Hike
Residents rushed to fill tanks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The hike in fuel prices to be affected from midnight today led to a rush at petrol stations in the city and surrounding townships of Panchkula and Mohali.

Petrol station owners said the daily sale was up by 40-50 per cent in anticipation of the rise in prices. Col S.S. Pathania, proprietor of Pathania Service Station, Sector 34, said most customers, aware that the prices had been hiked, were getting the fuel tanks filled to capacity. City residents are not amused at the price hike.

Deepak Kalsi , a businessman, said the hike would lead to hike in prices of essential commodities and food items.

“At a time when the price of every commodity is going up, the fuel price hike is uncalled for,” he said. The daily sale of petrol in Chandigarh is 2.70 lakh litres and that of diesel 1.80 lakh litres. In Punjab, the daily sale of petrol is 20 lakh litres and that of diesel 78 lakh litres.

With today’s hike in fuel prices, petrol will be costliest in Mohali and cheapest in Panchkula. Diesel would be costliest in Chandigarh and cheapest in Mohali.



Sec 63 housing scheme next week
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The affordable housing scheme for residents of the city will be launched within next week, sources in the Chandigarh Housing Board today said. The scheme, announced some time back, will provide for about 2,000 houses in Sector 63 and will have something for all sections. Such a scheme is coming after 2005-2006 when houses were provided in Sectors 48 and 49.

“This time the designs will be better, the houses will be built by private architects and they will have more green spaces. Layout plans are being worked out along with the cost structure. The scheme is likely to be announced within a week,” said a CHB official.



New strategies to check foeticide on anvil
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Officers of the UT administration today met different stakeholders to discuss strategies for combating the declining sex ratio in the city and invited suggestions to do the needful. During the day-long conference held at the UT guest house, representatives of schools, colleges and religious and social organisations agreed on the need to promote the girl child as an asset as also to address the issue of neglect of the girl child. The discussions focused on gender-based discrimination in all walks of life.

The meeting was held to take stock of the Chandigarh Child Protection Plan that was launched eight months ago. The administration sought the opinion of social scientists, health workers and legal luminaries to ensure that future strategies to help the girl child are broad-based and inclusive. In this context, Sherry Sabberwal from PU sociology department made a vital contribution by advocating a mix of welfare, regulatory and participatory approaches to tackle female foeticide. She spoke of Mary N. Warren's concept of "Gendercide", which refers to deliberate extermination/ serial massacre of a specific gender, and emphasised the need to re-work socialisation practices to ensure respect for girls.

Dr Poonam Goel of GMCH-32 said there was a need to educate people about the health hazards involved in repeated medical termination of pregnancies (MTPs). The most incisive observations came from senior advocate by Anupam Gupta who quoted from Amartya Sen and Gita Aravamudan's works on the subject, highlighting the drastic decline in sex-ratio in India in the past two decades. DPI (schools) S.K. Setia stressed on education to inculcate humanitarian values. For her part, Raji P. Shrivastava summarised the session and said the new programme would be implemented from March this year.

Earlier, Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) made a speech seeking changes in the value system to create a civilised society. He said the UT administration had launched programmes of child protection and reduction in maternal mortality rate besides empowering the girl child and women through vocational education. The upcoming Medicity project would employ several women, he assured.



Jaunt-y babus…
BJP demands probe; UT hikes RTI fee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The BJP has demanded an investigation into the expenditure made by UT officers on their foreign trips. In a press statement issued yesterday, Kehar Singh Koundel, spokesperson, BJP Chandigarh, said the union home ministry should get the matter investigated by a neutral agency. He also asked local MP Pawan Kumar Bansal to take a stand on the issue and said the bureaucracy of Chandigarh should be made accountable to the public. Local MP Bansal, on his part, said he only hoped the bureaucrats followed procedures when on foreign travels and commensurate results from their travels flowed to the city.

UT hikes RTI fee

The UT administration has meanwhile hiked the application fee under the RTI Act from Rs 10 to Rs 50 and cost per page of information from Rs 2 to 10. Procurement of information on CD (per copy) will now cost Rs 200; it earlier cost Rs 50. Information per floppy will cost Rs 100. Cost for samples or models and for inspection of record will be Rs 20 per 15 minutes.

The hike comes in the wake of two recent Tribune reports; while one reported expenditure made by UT bureaucrats on foreign trips, the other highlighted how the UT Administrator’s office had no public information officer. Both news reports were based on information acquired under the RTI Act.

The UT administration has justified the hike saying it is applicable in Haryana and Punjab, though Punjab charges Rs 10 per RTI application.

RTI activists meanwhile challenged the legality of UT’s move saying it is arbitrary as Chandigarh has no legislative assembly. It falls under the central government and must, therefore, follow the central government pattern for charging fees under the RTI Act, they said. The Centre charges Rs 10 per application and Rs 2 per page of information.

Notifying the hike today, the UT administration said a request for obtaining information under RTI (sub-section 1 of Section 6) shall now be accompanied by an application fee of Rs 50. Such fee can be deposited by way of cash against proper receipt, demand draft, bankers cheque or by Indian Postal Order (IPO) payable to the accounts officer of the public authority".



Two more trains via Chandigarh planned
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Northern Railways has plans to have two new trains — one between Una and Haridwar via Chandigarh and the other between Chandigarh and Udaipur.

Also, the run of the Chandigarh-Delhi Jan Shatabadi will be extended to Una while the frequency of the Chandigarh-Kerala Jan Sampark Kranti Express will be increased.

This will be crucial for the link between Chandigarh and other cities. The extension of the Jan Shatabadi till Una will provide for a direct link between Chandigarh and the holy city of Anandpur Sahib besides catering to the tourist segment headed to Dharmashala and Manali. Both are a few hours’ journey from Una.

  • Train from Una to Haridwar via Chandigarh planned
  • Another between Chandigarh and Udaipur on anvil
  • Chandigarh-Delhi Jan Shatabdi to be extended to Una
  • Chandigarh-Kerala Jan Sampark Kranti Express to run twice a week

A survey to ascertain the feasibility of extending the Jan Shatabdi Express has already been instituted. Confirming the development, the divisional railway manager (DRM), Ambala Division, Northern Railways, H.K. Jaggi, said the parameters of extending the facility have to be fulfilled.

By extending the train, passengers from Nangal, Anandpur Sahib, Morinda, Kurali, Kharar and Mohali would be able to board the train. The electrification of the Chandigarh-Morinda track is already in progress, said an official.

The DRM said seeing the increasing popularity of the Chandigarh-Kerala Jan Sampark Kranti, the Railways has proposed to extend its frequency to twice a week.

At present, the weekly train leaves for Kerala every Wednesday and returns every Monday at 4 pm. The train covers a distance of around 3400 km between the city and Kochuveli (Kerala) in 52 hours.

The proposed train between Chandigarh and Udaipur is expected to be introduced in the new time table.



Demolition team stymied, villagers up in arms
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 14
Traffic was disrupted for nearly an hour on the Pinjore-Mallha-Sarahan road by hundreds of residents from the two villages of Pinjore subdivision, near here today. The group was protesting against demolition of alleged unauthorised constructions.

Residents alleged that the district town planner started demolitions without giving any notice to them. People from Bhagwanpur and Bhogpur villages started assembling on the spot as soon as a team of enforcement wing of district town planner reached to demolish 21 shops constructed on the road.

The mob first raised slogans against the authorities and later deflated the tyres of the jeep of the town planner who was present on the spot.

The mob, which sat on a dharna at 1.30 pm, decided to lift the blockade after 45 minutes when the demolitions were stopped. However, the enforcement wing managed to demolish 12 shops by then.

Indian National Lok Dal spokesman from the area Dina Nath Sharma, who was among the protesters, said the demolition was illegal as the shopkeepers were neither served any notice nor given an opportunity to present their case before the authorities.

On the other hand, district town planner (enforcement) Amrik Singh denied the charges and said notices were not only served in advance, they were even pasted on the shops. He added that some of the shopkeepers refused to receive the notices. “Notices were even served in 2006 when the shops were being constructed in violation of Punjab Periphery Act,” he added.



Workers demand regularisation
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 14
Fity-four employees of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) have been camping at the PUDA office here for the past fortnight. The employees claim to be on deputation with the Ludhiana municipal corporation from where they were relieved and asked to join back their parent department.

The employees came to the PUDA office on February 1 to give their joining report, but no one initially agreed to accept it. They, however, managed to get their joining letter entered into the daily diary.

“We were working IAS junior employees with PUDA for over two decades as daily-wagers and 102 of us were sent to the Ludhiana MC office. Following orders in November 2001, 42 were regularised while the same orders were not passed for us,” said Kala Singh, an employee.

These employees were asked to go back to PUDA by MC on January 31, 2008. “We have met the Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in six sangat darshans during the past six months and requested regularisation. Our case is always given the nod by him but those who have to issue regularisation orders do not comply,” said Attar Singh, another employee.

Meanwhile, since February 1 these 54 workers have been camping outside the PUDA office. “We spend the days inside sitting on the floor and when the office closes in the evening, we take shelter in the nearby gurdwara. We will not move from here till we are regularised,” added Attar Singh.



Industrialists protest against rising steel prices
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 14
Shaken by the unprecedented increase in steel prices, industrialists of the region under the aegis of Mohali Industries Association, today took out their ire against Union Minister for Steel Ram Vilas Paswan and the Steel Alliance. A joint action committee formed by Chandigarh Industries Association, Chamber of Chandigarh Industries, Industries Association of Chandigarh and Federation of Small-Scale Industries took part in the ptotest.

Anurag Aggarwal, general secretary of Mohali Industries Association said prices of steel have increased by over 25 per cent in the past one month and are showing no sign of decline. If the prices are not rolled back soon, the small-scale industries in this region would have no option but to close down, as they are incurring huge losses because of this increase.

T.L. Easwar, president, Mohali Industries Association, demanded that the UPA Government should direct the steel companies to reduce steel prices. Pawan Aggarwal, vice-president, Industries Association of Chandigarh, said the small-scale industries have decided not to succumb to this ‘blackmail’. Surinder Gupta, president, Chamber of Chandigarh Industries, expressed solidarity with all the industrialists and said they will take this fight to its logical conclusion.

The industrialists burnt effigies of Ram Vilas Paswan and the Steel Alliance and took out a protest march which culminated in presentation of memorandum to the Prime Minister of India.



207 jhuggis razed to ground
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 14
In a major swoop, an anti-encroachment team of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) cleared an acre of prime land in Phase VI, on the Chandigarh-Mohali border, here today. As part of the drive that lasted over three hours, 207 jhuggis of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Colony were removed.

However, jhuggis falling under UT’s jurisdiction were left untouched. Some residents here tried to protest against the drive showing their ration cards and claiming that they were inside Chandigarh’s boundary, not Mohali. “We have given them enough notices and also time to remove their belongings before initiating the drive,” said GMADA estate officer Sukhvinderjit Singh. “The area vacated today would be fenced and later a boundary wall would be constructed around it,” he added. The EO lauded the support given by Mohali police during the drive.



GMADA goes tech savvy
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, February 14
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is making use of a hydraulic road sweeping machine as part of its sanitation programme in four sectors of the town.

GMADA officials claimed that the authority was the first organisation in the area to make use of an advanced method for carrying out sanitation work in Sectors 66 to 69. They said such a machine had not even been used in Chandigarh so far, although efforts were now being made to go in for the hydraulic machine. The officials added that the road sweeping machine was mounted on a truck and cleaned the area with brushes fixed on three sides. A width of four metres was covered at one time. It has a tank with a capacity of 1,000 litres that sprinkled water before sweeping the road so that dust does not cause inconvenience to residents. Suction boxes on both sides draws in waste.

Earlier, sanitation work in the area had been allotted to a Jaipur-based company by GMADA.

Two drivers are being provided training on how to use the machine. Sanitation work in other parts of the area is being carried out manually by contractors engaged by the municipal council.



Railway station to wear a new look
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
A major upgradation plan for the Chandigarh railway station is on the cards. Already the entrance concourse has been designed at a cost of around Rs 45 lakh. Ultramodern material has been used to give the façade a new look. The divisional railway manager (DRM), Ambala Division, HK Jaggi, and the senior divisional commercial manager, Ambala, Karan Singh, while talking about the upgradation plans at the station said the circulation area outside the station was also being widened.

The area between the entrance and exit was being expanded to accommodate more vehicles. The entrance and exit to the station was also being widened. There was also a plan to have another entrance point to the station.

The entrance from the Panchkula side was also being improved and more user-friendly facilities were being added. The freight loading and unloading area was also being improved.

A number of user-friendly additions at the passenger reservation counters at the station and at the bus stand were being made.



Last day for ‘fancy’ registration numbers today
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 14
In a press release issued today, district transport officer Balbir Singh said the last day for submitting forms for getting registration numbers in the series PB 65 G would be tomorrow. Final decision in this regard will be taken on February 20.

The reserve price for number 0001 is Rs 50,000, numbers 0002 to 0009 Rs 10,000, 0010 to 0100 Rs 3,000 and for 0101 onwards it is Rs 1,000.

Those interested would have to submit a bank draft for half the amount fixed as reserve price for various numbers.



Provide basic amenities

The Tribune special story Jaunt-y babus (February 12) is a startling revelation of facts. The report has exposed how our bureaucrats and senior babus are using the tax payers’ money with impunity while the common man is denied even the basic amenities like sanitation, health, education and even potable water for paucity of funds.

It is high time for serious soul searching.

I hope the efforts of the paper will bring desired results in public interest.

S.S. Arora, Mohali

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



PU Notes
Research convention: Presentations mark Day 2
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Poster and podium presentations in three broad areas of basic sciences and engineering, health sciences and social sciences and humanities marked day two of the student research convention currently underway at Panjab University.

In social sciences, eight presentations were made on themes ranging from educating the less privileged sections to female empowerment through self-help groups, popularity of South Korean films in northeast India, stock market, quality of life and importance of human resource development in the education sector.

In the basic sciences category, presentations were made on topics like mitigation of selenium toxicity, sediment prediction model for management of land degradation, DNA bar coding of fruit flies, generating electricity from photosynthesis, ecological characterisation of the Harike Wetland and alternative cancer therapy.

In a bid to encourage participants, a parallel session was held in the afternoon where those entries that had not made it to the zonal level were given a podium and poster platform. As many as 30 students presented papers on subjects ranging from e-business, e-governance to women’s perception of TV advertisements and failure of the mid-day meal programme in slums. The final day of the convention will be devoted to a panel discussion on the theme: ‘Research: An ideal interface between academia, industry and society’.


Riti Sharan, a research scholar in the department of microbiology, has been awarded the best poster presentation award during the 5th Indo-Australian Conference on Medical Biotechnology held at National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, from February 11-12.

Her work on stenotrophomonas maltophilia carried out at the department of microbiology under the guidance of Prof S. Chhibber was well appreciated.

Date extended

As per the decision taken at the syndicate meeting held on February 12, the last date for admissions to the department of correspondence studies has been extended till February 29 with special late fee as applicable to the private candidate. Due to extension of the last date, the date for submission of assignments for postgraduate classes has been extended till March 20 instead of February 15.


University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS) organised an intra-department legal quiz today. At least 30 teams participated. Third-year student Abhishek Goyal was the quizmaster. The team of Ashim and Dushyant Bhardwaj stood first. Teachers from the department were the judges. Dr R.S. Grewal, director, UILS, appreciated the efforts of the students.



CTU directed to reinstate conductor
Swati Sharma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Coming down heavily on the “prejudiced” attitude of the divisional manager of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU), the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed him to reinstate the applicant, Ashok Kumar. The applicant worked as a conductor in CTU.

Ashok in his application stated that he was dismissed from service on account of certain allegations for which four different charge sheets were issued against him during 2000 to 2004. Ashok contended that he was not supplied with a copy of any inquiry report before dismissing him from service.

Terming dismissal from service of the applicant as “grave injustice”, CAT observed: “We hold that non-supply of inquiry reports of four charge sheets to the applicant has caused grave injustice to him. The applicant was not able to defend himself effectively more so as the proceedings have been conducted ex-parte. It has certainly caused prejudice to applicant.”

Ashok stated that there was flagrant violation of principles of natural justice and provisions of “Rules of 1965” under which he was proceeded against on alleged misconducts. The applicant rued that the disciplinary authority had passed one consolidated order of dismissal in pursuance of four charge sheets at different points of time for different allegations.

The respondents argued that proper procedure was followed by them before passing the order of punishment. The respondents maintained that the applicant failed to associate himself with the inquiry proceedings in spite of repeated communications; the inquiry officer had no option but to proceed ex-parte against him.

CAT held: “We have found that respondents have acted in a very clandestine manner while proceeding against the applicant. It is undisputed that four charges were issued against the applicant and different inquiry officers were appointed. That means four inquiry reports must have been prepared by different inquiry officers but one single order of dismissal was passed.”

CAT stated: The applicant is directed to be reinstated in service but without payment of back wages on principal of 'no work no pay'.



High Court
10 stenographers’ promotions set aside
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today set aside the promotion of 10 stenographers to the post of section officers in the Bureau of Indian Standards.

Taking up a petition filed by Bureau of Indian Standards Electrical Cadre Employees Union, the Bench, comprising Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Mohinder Pal, also held that a circular dated September 4, 2003, was illegal and void to the extent that it made the stenographers eligible to appear in the Limited Department Competitive Examination for promotion to the posts of section officers.

In its petition, the union had earlier challenged the promotion of Sanjay Kumar Arora and nine others. Claiming that the same was illegal and unconstitutional, the petitioner had added it was also violative of the regulations framed under Section 38 of the Bureau of Indian Standards Act, 1986.

The petitioners had added though the posts of section officers was to be filled from among the assistants, vide the circular even stenographers with three years regular service in the grade were considered for promotion to 13 posts of section officers, along with assistants with similar experience.



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