C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

General launches Green march
Tribune News Service

n UT to plant 1 million saplings
n 25,000 to be distributed free
n Special drives in schools

Chandigarh, February 18
Setting a target for plantation of one million trees during the current year, UT administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (Retd) today launched an afforestation programme, planting a sapling of Krishan peepal and releasing Green Chandigarh Action Plan-2008 at an impressive function in the foothills of the Shivaliks here today.

Besides planting one million saplings in the UT, 25,000 saplings of shrubs will be distributed free by the forest department. Distribution of as many as 15, 000 saplings of ornamental, flowering and fruit trees by the horticulture wing, plantation drives in schools, colleges, residential colonies, villages and hospitals, herbal gardens and protection of existing trees and replacement of dying diseased trees forms part of the green plan.

General Rodrigues talked of the need for a partnership with the people to check environmental degradation and to ensure sustainable and equitable development.

He said the Chandigarh administration had launched over 200 programmes to strengthen development infrastructure and for improving the quality of life of its people, supported with an effective monitoring system to avoid slippage.

This process of fast growth and socio-economic development demanded people's active participation. He said the administration and the public must work together to achieve the goals.

General Rodrigues said a world-class aquarium was being set up near the Sukhna lake as part of the strategy to add eco-friendly features in the Sukhna catchment area.

He asked the teachers and students to build a mass movement and to take a leadership role in planning, implementation and monitoring of these programmes on their own initiative for which the administration would provide help and support to facilitate the process.

General Rodrigues said Chandigarh had a green cover in 35.6 per cent of its total area and there was need for further expanding “our endeavour and scope for making the city more green.

Pradip Mehra, adviser to the Administrator, emphasised on the need for increasing forest area and undertaking massive plantation on un-utilised and left-out patches.

He underlined the role of educational institutions in generating awareness for this campaign.



Burglars break into Sector 30 bank
But flee without cash
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Burglars made an attempt to break into the strong room of the State Bank of India in Sector 30 here last night. Though the burglars spent considerable time in the bank premises, gaining entry after breaking open the locks of the rear door, no loss of cash was reported by the bank authorities, said the police.

Sources in the police said spot inspection revealed that burglars may have conducted a reconnaissance of the bank premises.The incident came to light when the bank staff came in the morning and saw the rear door shutter broke open.

A steel almirah placed in the cashier’s compartment was broke open There were only ledgers in it. The police reached there with teams of forensic experts and crime branch officials to inspect the spot.

A police officer said the thieves knew that they could not open the strong room door as it was fitted with an alarm. So they went into a bathroom which has a common wall with the strong room and tried to break the wall, but failed to do so.

The CCTV cameras installed in the banks proved to be of no help. A police officer said the lights were dim, so the cameras could not capture the images. The thieves scaled the rear wall and fled. SHO Jagir Singh said forensic experts were called for spot inspection.



Cell watch for Rs 5
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 18
It’s a unique business. Shopkeepers outside the Punjab and Haryana civil secretariat are charging Rs 5 from visitors to “keep their mobile phones in their custody.”

Since visitors are not allowed to carry cell phones inside the building, some enterprising shopkeepers thought of make money by offering them a solution to their problem. To keep the phones in “their safe custody,” they charge the visitors Rs 5 for each set.

Keeping phones in cars is not without risk. There are instances when these have been stolen. Also, hundreds travel by bus to visit the secretariat from places in Punjab and Haryana and have no place to keep the mobile sets.

“We have come in a group of eight from Mohali. It is more expensive to keep the mobile sets with these shopkeepers than to travel by bus,” said Mukhtiar Singh.

“The administration should make arrangements so that the visitors’ can deposit their phones with an official free of cost free,” said Albel Singh, another visitor.



Refund money, forum tells builders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum today directed Mehta Builders of Sector 46 to refund Rs 75,000 to a Sector 49 resident. The builders were asked to pay Rs 2,100 towards litigation cost to the petitioner.

A resident of Sector 49, Sunita entered into an agreement with the builders for purchasing a flat for Rs 9.75 lakh in February 2006. She paid Rs 5,000 on account of booking of the flat, which was in the name of R.S. Bajaj.

Later, a sum of Rs 75,000 was given to the spouse of R.S. Bajaj as premium. Sunita said according to the contract, the builder was to start construction immediately after the agreement. After waiting for the construction to start for some time, Sunita sought a refund from the builders. But this was declined.

Though the forum served notice to the builders through a newspaper but no reply was filed by them. The forum headed by Jagroop Singh Mahal said: “We are of the opinion that despite having received the amount from the complainant, the builders retained the same and did not carry out any construction at the site, which tantamounts to unfair trade practice.



Several UT officials have ad hoc charge
Fallout: Important projects being delayed
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
From top to bottom, officials in various wings of the Chandigarh administration are holding ad hoc charge.

Be it the UT engineering department, the MC, the estate office, the CHB or CITCO, important projects are being handled by officials working on current duty charge (CDC).

The causality is that certain important projects are getting delayed as officials with little experience are handling the projects.

Even the top posts in the MC, UT engineering department and the CHB are being held on an ad hoc basis.

For the last over two months, the work of the MC commissioner is being looked after by the DC-cum-estate officer, R.K. Rao. It is well known that both departments require different officials, but the administration has failed to get a new commissioner.

In case of the CHB which has been entrusted with the work of underpasses and mass rapid transit system, the work of the chief engineer is being handled by G.C. Rosha, an executive engineer. The UT engineering department does not have a regular chief engineer.

Sources said in the engineering wings of the MC, engineering department and the CHB, several officials are working on current duty charge.

Many have been holding the charge for a long period in violation of service rules of the administration.



Airport expansion shrinks facilities
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Expansion work on the terminal building at the Chandigarh airport is putting passengers to great inconvenience.

Passengers complain that the sole source of drinking water in the building, a water cooler, is ill-maintained. In the toilets on the first floor, there is no water in the taps.

“With the number of flights touching eight, the we have to handle 400 passengers daily as against the 200 earlier. The facilities must be upgraded as the Airport Authority of India earns a lot of revenue from passenger traffic,” said a passenger.

After closure of canteen on the first floor for renovation, passengers complain about limited items being sold from a make-shift kiosks on the ground floor. At the kiosks, no mineral water or cold drink is available.

Talking to TNS, Suneel Dutt, airport director, said they were hopeful that the upcoming terminal building would make the passengers more comfortable. He said the target was to complete the building by April.

On being brought to his notice that mineral water was not available, he directed the contractor to do the needful. Regarding the parking problem, he said as of now there was little space for the same.



Water scheme to save MC Rs 4.25 crore
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Water conservation is going high-tech in the city. In a unique initiative, the MC is set to commission a Rs 20-crore computerised project for the conservation of water with the objective of providing water supply round the clock.

Installed under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission of the ministry of urban development, the system --SCADA--will go a long way in saving water and resources of the civic body. The project is likely to save about Rs 4.25 crore for the civic body, sources told The Tribune today.

They said the project would provide electromagnetic flow meters, besides providing sluice valves with actuators.

In addition, remote terminal units would be provided in all water works and over 200 tubewells in the jurisdiction of the civic body.

Flow of any pump in the water works and tubewells would be known at the click of the mouse by the staff sitting at the centralised office at the MC office in Sector 17, the sources said.

Mayor Pardeep Chhabra claimed that the project was the result of efforts by minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal to bring world class technology to the city.

The new system would optimise peak hour requirements and save about Rs 1 crore through conservation of energy and reduction in wear and tear.

The human error during the operation would be eliminated and there would be reduction in unaccounted water from 3 per cent to 5 per cent. This would result in the saving of 2 million gallons per day of water per year, saving the MC Rs 1.6 crore.

The operation of tubewells would be computerised and there would be no need to engage any outside agency to maintain them. This would entail a saving of Rs 2.6 crore annually, a senior official claimed.



Sector 47 waterless for 3 days
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Days after the city remained without water for a few days due to the replacement of delivery header and machinery for the water supply scheme for Phases I and II, parts of Sector 47 are without water since three days.

Residents of the economically weaker section of the society, Sec-47, are without water. In spite of complaints to MC, the problem remains. According to B.K. Dhawan, SDE, there was a blockage in waterpipe, which was difficult to locate it.



Students can do summer jobs in US
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
If you are a regular student enrolled in any graduate or postgraduate course and thinking what to do in the coming summer vacations, you can get a temporary summer job in the USA.

Under the US government’s programme “Work and Travel”, regular students can work to a maximum of four months in the USA and would be able to earn enough money to live in that country and pay for their trip.

This was announced today by Taurus International, which is promoting the programme in the northern region.

Col Kulwinder Singh, managing director of the company, said, “The student has to be a regular one at a college (not a correspondence course student), above 18 years and with good English language skills.”

The programme is of the Department of State, US government, and is open to regular college students from across the world to do temporary jobs during their summer vacations from May to August.

The students would go on pre-arranged jobs in the retail, hospitality, entertainment, tourism and other fields. 



Housing Scheme
Eligibility of staff on deputation challenged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Taking up a petition challenging the provisions that allowed employees on deputation to UT to be eligible for self-financing housing scheme, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed a stay on the clause related to the provision.

The Bench, headed by Chief Justice Vijender Jain, issued the directions on a petition by Hardayal Singh Rawat.

In his petition against the board through its chairman, the petitioner had earlier sought directions for quashing the eligibility criteria for self-financing housing schemes.

The petitioner stated as per the provisions, employees on deputation with the UT administration had been made eligible for the scheme.

On the other hand, several others like the petitioner, who remained employed with the Haryana civil secretariat, were not eligible.

As per the provisions, only regular employees of the Chandigarh administration, its board, corporation, Punjab and Haryana High Court employees and employees on deputation with the UT administration, had been held eligible to apply.

This, the petitioner said, was in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.



Book on career in aviation industry out
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The union minister of state for finance, Pawan Kumar Bansal today released the book ‘Winning Strategies- Serving with a Smile’ during a function held at Hotel Taj, here today. The book, an authentic and rich treatise on a career in aviation and hospitality management, is a book by Sapna Gupta, the founder-director of Air Hostess Academy.

The event coincides with the celebration of a decade of flying success of AHA academy. Bansal hailed the devotion of Sapna Gupta and Akash Gupta for providing job opportunities to thousands of trainees during the last one decade.

Sapna said she started her academy with only three girl students and a peon in a rented office at Lajpat Nagar, Delhi, in 1997. Today, they have 35 training centres.

“Through this book I wish to share my twelve years of experience, challenges and how to turn failures into success,” she said.



Sports comes to rescue of special children
Mandeep Puri

Mohali, February 18
That sports can make a real difference in the lives of children with special needs is evident at the sports camp, underway at Shivalik Public School here. Many such children, who could not walk properly earlier, are now leading a normal life. Around four years ago, Maninder Singh could not have even dreamt about leading a normal life because he could neither speak nor walk properly. But after he took to skating in 2003, 16-year-old Maninder things improved considerably for him. “You can see the change in my life. I am very confident now,” said Maninder, adding that he went to Shimla alone to participate in a skating competition last year.

Similar, is the case of basketball player Akashdeep. “Only my game is responsible for what I am today. I can play the basketball like normal player. During the starting days, I could not even hold the ball properly,” said Akashdeep, who took to the game three years ago. “Sports being the only way to rehabilitate these special children, we look to teach them different games, including athletics, table tennis, basketball, badminton and cricket. Recently, we have started with a cheese game ‘voccee’. Apart from playing games, these children are into a number of vocational skills, including block printing, which is also a source of recreation for these students,” said Reena, a special educator, who is making a difference in the lives of around 75 children.



Hospital staff found absent, disciplinary action sought
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 18
All 10 doctors, class four employees and half of the paramedic staff was found absent from the Kalka hospital near here today.

Panchkula civil surgeon Kamla Singh, who was on a surprise visit to the hospital, marked the staff absent and ordered disciplinary action against them.

The civil surgeon reached the hospital at 9.10 a.m. and was surprised to find that out of 10 doctors posted at the hospital, none was present even as the opening time of the hospital was 9 a.m. Only one of the class four employees was found on duty while 11 were absent. However, eight out of the 15 paramedic staff members had joined their duties in time.

Later, the civil surgeon visited the Pinjore hospital where all the staff members were found present.

There were numerous complaints about staff being absent from duty or coming late, said the civil surgeon. The health department authorities have decided to increase the frequency of visits in the rural areas to check truant employees, she added.



Mohali In Mess
City of dreams or urban slum?
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 18
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal are selling Mohali to the world as the city of the metro, international airport, Central University and what not. But its residents know that the truth lies elsewhere.

The township is fast becoming an urban slum with no one seemingly bothered even about the state of the basic facilities.

Motorists coming from Chandigarh to Mohali know the real story. Most vehicles that enter into Mohali land into wide potholes, which are now the hallmark of Mohali. “We come to know we have entered Mohali the moment our car starts rattling,” said Sukhi Batra, a Phase 3BI resident.

And it is not just one or two specific roads which have long outgrown their lives. Almost every road within the township is dotted with potholes. For two-wheeler drivers, these can be death traps at night in the absence of streetlights.

What is worse than the condition of the roads is the sheer apathy of various agencies who are responsible for the repair and maintenance of roads. Nothing can exemplify this better than a road cave in outside the Punjab School Education Board office here. This cave in took place almost six months back but has not been repaired till date.

Since the road cave in was about four feet wide, it was posing a danger to those who parked their vehicles near it. Having requested both the municipal council and the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA), the board officials got a small wall built around the cave in.

“I have to get my scooter’s axle repaired every third day. I drive on Mohali roads everyday and I think the administration has completely failed in its job,” said Arun Puri, a Phase IV shopkeeper.

Shravan Gupta, a chartered accountant who works in Phase VIII, said the potholes on the roads were causing frequent accidents. “One tries to avoid them by taking a last minute left or right turn and bangs into those coming from behind,” he said.

“The internal roads dividing Phases IV and II and Phases 3B1 and 3A are in real bad state. Don’t GMADA and MC officers or the DC travel on these roads everyday and know for themselves how bad the situation is?” questioned Romi Singh, a Sector 64 resident. But the thick-skinned bureaucrats obviously do not travel on scooters!

When confronted with a question about the state of roads in Mohali’s Industrial Area recently, Sukhbir Badal said, “We have given this town an international airport, what more can you want?”



District admn to build houses for employees
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 18
In order to provide relief to its employees from tremendous hike in house rent in the city, the district administration has planned to build houses for them. Six-acre land is being earmarked in Sector 21 for the purpose.

“In fact, increase in land prices in the region has resulted in sharp rise of house rents making it difficult for the middle class employees to afford it,” said Panchkula deputy commissioner Rajinder Kataria.

Land prices during the past four years had increased manifold so had rents in the city, he said. Now the employees bearing the brunt of this hike would either have to compromise with their living standards or fall in the trap of unfair practices to meet their housing requirements, said the deputy commissioner. So considering all the facts, the district administration had proposed to build houses for the employees. Haryana chief secretary Promila Issar, giving the nod to the proposal, had even given directions for the preparation of a plan in this regard, said Kataria.

It was proposed that multi-storeyed building be built for the employees and HUDA had already been asked to do the required spadework. In addition to it, a letter had also been sent to the chief architect office to prepare drawings and maps for the houses, said the deputy commissioner. However, the number of houses would be determined only after the drawings of the plan were prepared, he added. 



Tribune employees bereaved
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 18
Sunita (50), wife of Parmod Bansal, executive with the circulation department of The Tribune died here yesterday after a brief illness. She is survived by a daughter. The chautha and uthala will be held at Shanti Sneh Mandir, Sector 5, Mansa Devi Complex, on February 20 from 2 pm to 3 pm.

Om Parkash, brother of Nanak Chand, supervisor (Fire department), The Tribune, died after a brief illness today. The ‘rasam pagri’ will be held on February 29 at 2284/1, Sector 19-C, Chandigarh, from 3 pm to 4 pm.



Reduction in subsidies flayed

Mohali, February 18
Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, member of the All India Congress Committee, today condemned the move of the Punjab government to reduce subsidies.

She said the SAD-BJP government had made various promises with the people of the state prior to the elections.

But now the government was going back on its promises, she claimed. — OC



Stop ‘free’ lunches, dinners

CITCO’s decision to discontinue the practice of offering complimentary dinners to its guests, which resulted in wastage of funds, is indeed complimentary. Not only in CITCO, but almost in every government undertaking such lunches/dinners are served at the cost of public exchequer.

For instance, in every monthly meeting of the municipal corporation, Chandigarh, lunch is provided not only to the councillors but even staff members and mediapersons. The councillors for whom this facility is actually provided get a daily allowance for attending the meetings.

In one of the recently held functions, Rs 30,000 was spent on refreshments. Ironically, the UT administrator stayed there for not more than fifteen minutes and did not take even a glass of water, but everyone else enjoyed the refreshment! Such functions have become a routine affair and need to be stopped immediately to channelise the tax-payers’ money for other development works.

S.K. Khosla, Chandigarh

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‘Officiating’ principals still on tenterhooks
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
All hopes of ‘officiating’ principals of government colleges in the city fizzled out once again after the Departmental Promotion Committee meeting — scheduled for the first time on February 12 — was postponed indefinitely.

Notably, it’s been about a decade that many government colleges are running without regular principals. As a result, at the time of retirement ‘officiating’ principals are being issued certificates stating ‘retired as a lecturer’ and not even as ‘officiating’ principal. Many of them have served for as long as fifteen years in a row, but have still been deprived of the benefits that a regular principal gets.

The DPC meeting was a first-ever attempt to regularise them but, according to sources, due to non-availability of ACRs (annual confidential report) till the last moment, the meeting was called-off.

This has led to great resentment both among the serving as well a retired ‘officiating’ principals, as they have been denied their rightful claim. “Most importantly, officiating principals are unable to participate in activities of various university bodies such as the faculties, boards and even senate elections. Consequently, they sometimes fail to safeguard the interests of the institutions,” asserted one of the principal.

It is also for the first time that the education department has circulated a continued list of seniority of all the lecturers working in various government colleges of arts, science and commerce stream.

When contacted, director of higher education department Raji P Shrivastava said the meeting was postponed by the UPSC.

However, he said: “All the ACRs have already been sent. Now the meeting is rescheduled for February 26.” 



Chemical engg dept gears up for annual fest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The department of Chemical Engineering, Panjab University, is all set to hold their annual fest - Cyanide - from February 19 to 22. The theme of this year’s fest is ‘no smoking’.

In the run up to the fest, students of the department held a road show today. The show commenced from the department of chemical engineering and passed through various colleges of the city, including Government College, Sector 11, Government College for Girls, Sector 11, DAV College, Sector 10, Government College of Arts, Sector 10, Punjab Engineering College, Sector 12 and culminated at the Student Centre, Panjab University.

Later, the students also staged a street play at the Student Centre. Ironically, during the road show, many students were found riding two-wheelers and that too without helmets!



From Schools & Colleges
Workshop on enterpreneurship
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
A one-day workshop on entrepreneurship, sponsored by the director of industry, UT administration, was organised by the placement cell and department of commerce of the Government College, Sector 46, here today.

The workshop, held on the college campus, was afforded technical support by the Regional Centre for Entrepreneurship Development. Principal of the college Dr K.S. Saluja welcomed the resource persons and explained the importance of entrepreneurship in the economic development of the country.


A three-day seminar based on the national curriculum framework 2005, was inaugurated at the State Institute of Education, Sector 32, here today. S.S. Dahia, SIE director, inaugurated the plenary session. He stressed that the teacher should link experiences of the child to real life while teaching in class.

Special checks

A special checking drive of private recognised schools by teams from the education department will be initiated from today. The team will make sure that 15% reservation has been provided for economically weaker sections, along with other norms that have been laid down for schools. S.K. Setia, DPI Schools, said a public notice has been given to leading newspapers regarding the 15% reservation for economically weaker section, but many schools have not responded till now. He added that recognition of some schools is overdue and there are lots of other objections that are pending.

Educational tour

Students that formed a part of the fifth educational tour for rural students organised by the NGO, Awareness Mission that reached Chandigarh today. The NGO is led by Ram Dayal, a serving sub-inspector in Chandigarh police, who had lost his limbs in an accident during a UN peace-keeping mission in Kosovo. Around 120 students from class 9th to 12th hailing from four villages in Hoshiarpur district will be a part of the two-day tour.

Farewell party

Saurabh Raj and Manveen were crowned Master Shishu Niketan and Miss Shishu Niketan respectively during the farewell party organised by students of class 11th of Shishu Niketan Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 22, here today.



From Schools & Colleges
‘Rendezvous with Mothers’ at Hallmark School
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 18
Hallmark School of Education put up a ‘Rendezvous with Mothers’. The programme started with a welcome note by co-ordinator Preetaj Sidhu followed by a lecture by counsellor Reeti on the ‘Seven Standards of Effective Parenting’.

The school had organised an orientation session with VLCC wherein they gave tips on personal grooming.



Man acquitted after 9 years of trial
Careless probe cited as reason
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Taking note of careless investigation by the police, judicial magistrate (first class) A.S. Shergill today acquitted Neeraj Kumar after nine years of trial.

A resident of Panchkula, Neeraj, was booked for stealing a two-wheeler.

The court observed: “The carelessness of the investigation can be seen from the fact that the prosecution has not led material evidence on record in the shape of producing and proving the motor cycle was stolen and the number plate fake. In the absence of the same, the prosecution case has remained doubtful, whose benefit directly goes to the accused.”

According to the prosecution, Rohit Ghai, a resident of Sector 43, got a complaint registered in 1999 that his Suzuki Shogun was stolen from the parking near Kiran Cinema. A case had been registered.

After a few days the investigating officer received information that a person was using a motorcycle with a fake number. Subsequently, he received information that the stolen motorcycle had been impounded by the traffic police.

The court stated that the fake registration number plate had not been produced on record in the court.



Former judge moves HC on makeshift helipad
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s former judge, justice Ajit Singh Bains, today moved the court for the removal of illegal and makeshift helipad and other encroachments in Rajindra Park.

The helipad in the park, which is the starting point of Leisure Valley in Sector 1, is used by the Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana.

In his petition, taken up by the Bench of Chief Justice Vijender Jain and Justice Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, Justice Bains also sought directions to the Chandigarh administration to open inner roads of Sectors 2 and 3.

He contended that the roads had been blocked by constructing walls and gates in the name of security as the residences of the Chief Ministers and other ministers were located there.

The helipad, he submitted, was unauthorised and violated norms of civil aviation safety.

He said a makeshift residential accommodation had been built for the security staff and the area had been converted into a washing station for motorcycles and other vehicles.

After the preliminary hearing, the Bench issued notices for April 24 to the administration and the MC.



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