C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


MC Poll
Canvassing hots up, local issues skirted
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 27
As the campaigning for the Panchkula Municipal Council elections to be held on March 30 is to end tomorrow, leaving nothing to chance, political heavyweights of all parties, not only from Haryana, but also from neighbouring Punjab, are camping in the city to ensure victory at all costs.

After all, the stakes are high for the ruling Congress in Haryana, which wants to gain power in the local body here. Since it is the constituency of deputy chief minister Chander Mohan, he is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the party gets a clear majority this time.

It is not without reason that Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, too, descended here to seek votes for the party.

Though this is the second elections to the local body, it is the first time that all three major political parties are fielding candidates on party symbols.

Hooda, who addressed a public meeting in the city, along with his deputy Chander Mohan and party president from the state Phool Chand Mullana, harping on the development in the state during his three year regime sought the votes for the party candidates.

Reminding of development works at Panchkula carried out in the past, the Chief Minster did not forget to promise that Panchkula would be developed to be number one city in the country as well as the state is poised to gain this status. Two ministers A. C. Chaudhary and Mange Ram Gupta also addressed the gathering.

On the other hand, INLD leader Abhay Chautala is campaigning for the party candidates. Not to be left behind, the BJP has got all its star power together for these elections. Right from state party chief Atam Parkash Manchanda, and its two ministers from neighbouring Punjab - Tikshan Sud and Master Mohan Lal - the BJP candidates have their leaders’ full support. Almost all prominst leaders of the party in Haryana, including former ministers Shashipal Mehta, Ram Bilas Sharma, former MP Ratan Lal Kataria, former Union minister I D Swami, addressed the public meetings throughout the day.

It is another matter that the local issues were relegated while national as well as state issues were taken up at all the press interactions or public meetings. Though candidates claimed to solve the local problems in their manifestoes, none of the parties or candidates have, however, raised the issue of stray animals, defunct streetlights, poor condition of roads and parks or sanitary conditions in the city - which is all that a municipal councillor can ensure for voters during the public meetings.

It seems that each party is keen to woo the voters and treat these elections as a litmus test to gauge their popularity. 



MC goes soft on tainted officials
l Two paid parkings raided and large-scale irregularities, including overcharging, fake parking slips, detected. 
l 42 sweepers were found absent on March 24 by a team of the sanitation committee. Besides, the attendance registered were also found tampered with. In both cases, no action has been taken.

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MC) is allegedly going soft on tainted officials. At least two recent cases of gross irregularities by the staff have failed to move civic body officials into action bringing the credibility of the MC authorities under a cloud.

In fact, in one of the cases, the irregularities at the paid parkings of the Sukhna Lake and the Fun Republic, the report by mayor Pardeep Chhabra to the commissioner has been awaiting action for the past over a week. On March 16, Chhabra, along with MPS Chawla, nominated councillor, had raided the two paid parkings and detected large-scale irregularities, including overcharging, fake parking slips, and violation of labour laws.

The involvement of the junior engineer concerned and the management of the Aman Security Service was alleged in the malpractices. With the expiry of the contracts, the Aman Security, under the supervision of MC officials, was running the parking lots for the civic body.

Chhabra claimed that he had recommended strict action against the guilty so that such incidents were not repeated as "they affected the credibility of the corporation among the public". However, it was up to the commissioner to take the action, he added.

In the second incident, 42 sweepers were found absent on March 24 by a team of the sanitation committee headed by RC Jakhu, a nominated councillor. Besides, the attendance registered were also found tampered with.

At one of the meetings of the House of the corporation, the then commissioner R.K. Rao had gone on record saying that strict action, including the registration of the FIR, would be taken against officials found involved in any malpractices.

Chawla and Jakhu wondered why the MC officials were fighting shy of taking action, including police action, against the guilty officials and the security agency. Meanwhile, the matter is likely to come up at the House meeting tomorrow. In fact, a section of the councillors is of the view that a vigilance inquiry should be ordered so that it acted as a deterrent against any future malpractices.



Promotion rules vague for MC, Admn
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
It seems the UT Administration and the Municipal Corporation are following different set of rules for promotion. For, the MC had followed the Engineering Service Rules, Punjab, 1965, for promoting sub-divisional officers (SDOs), which the Punjab government had already repealed.

Sources in the MC said the MC commissioner had promoted three diploma-holder junior engineers, two degree-holder junior engineers and a head draftsman as SDO vide order number 2246 on March 13, 2008. Interestingly, the authorities concerned followed the Punjab Service of Engineers Class-II, (PWD) (Branches and Roads) Rules 1965, which the Punjab government repealed on October 14, 2005. The state government had implemented new rules in place of these rules.

According to information, the Administration has so far not been able to drafts its own set of rules for engineering cadre. The Administration had drafted rules for engineering cadre a few years back, but it was not able to finalise these. The authorities are following these draft rules for the promotion of engineering cadres. The UT Administration is following different sets of rules for promotions of engineering cadres by following the drafts rules while the MC authorities are following the Engineering Service Rules, Punjab, 1965.

Sources further said UT employees were governed by the Punjab Service Rules as per the Central Government notification of January 13, 1992. Similarly, after the formation of the MC in 1996, the MC authorities decided to follow the Punjab Service Rules, 1965 at its house meeting held on September 18, 1997. In the meantime, the administration drafted rules for engineering cadre and fixed 60 per cent quota for direct employment for SDO and 40 per cent on the promotional basis. The authorities fixed a quota of 25 per cent for diploma-holder junior engineers, 13 per cent for degree- holder junior engineers,  2 per cent of  drawing cadre.

As per the draft rules of the Administration and the new rules of Punjab government enacted on October 14, 2005, the promotion quota for junior engineers to the rank of SDO was fixed at 40 per cent while as per the Engineering Service Rules, Punjab, 1965, there was 35 per cent quota for it.

When asked, secretary, Municipal Corporation, P.K. Sharma, maintained that the Administration had not repealed the rules and the promotions were done after taking approval of the authorities concerned. The mayor Pardeep Chhabra, however, said he would look into the matter.



Arrest warrants against UT DSP
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 27
The chief judicial magistrate, Panchkula, has issued arrest warrants against Jagbir Singh, a DSP with Chandigarh Police.

The warrants were issued on the basis of a complaint filed by a resident of Ludhiana, Ajmer Singh Dhillon, who alleged that the cop in connivance with the Panchkula Police forcibly evicted him from House no. 340, Sector 17, here, despite the stay orders from the court against dispossession from the house.

The complainant had entered into an agreement with Rama Rani, who was the power of attorney holder of the house owned by VK Bhardwaj. The complainant was then given the possession of the house.

Meanwhile, the VK Bhardwaj allegedly entered into a parallel agreement with a Panchkula resident, Sham Lal Aggarwal, who got the property registered in the name of Vikas Dhaiya. Ajmer Singh again went to the court and got a stay on dispossession Disobeying the court order, the Chandigarh Police DSP, in connivance with Panchkula Police, threw Ajmer out of the house.

On the basis of the complaint, the court also issued the arrest warranats against Vinay , Vikas, Sukhbir Singh, a residents of Sector 39, Chandigarh . 



Rice variety awaits basmati status
Farmers, millers suffering losses in Punjab, Haryana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The failure of the Central government to notify PUSA 1121 as a basmati variety is causing huge losses to paddy growers and rice millers in Punjab and Haryana. Consequently, this rice variety is also losing a large chunk of the foreign market.

This variety is being grown commercially for the past three years, and now occupies over 50 per cent of the total area under paddy cultivation. With its elongated and non-sticky grain, good taste and cooking properties, it is attracting many local as well as international buyers.

Sources said that last year, this variety fetched Rs 50,000 to Rs 55,000 per acre to farmers, which is much higher than prices for other prevailing basmati varieties. Since this variety requires less water, does not lodge and the yield is 1.5 to two times more as compared to other available basmati varieties, it has proved to be a boon for farmers in the two states. PUSA 1121 has also made a diversification process within the paddy cultivation, with numerous advantages.

Besides the farmers, rice millers and exporters, too, have benefited as this variety has less breakage during milling and an all-time high sale price.

Vijay Setia, president of the All-India Rice Exporters Association, said although a subsidy (approximately Rs 20 per kg) was being imparted by the European Union on basmati varieties, PUSA 1121 had managed to capture a large market without any financial support or subsidy.

“In spite of the steep price hike during the current season, customers from Iran have shown a great response to this rice variety. As a result, farmers have got the best price for their produce,” he said.

He stated that PUSA 1121 was awaiting notification as a basmati variety for the past year. “So far the name 1121 looks incomplete and labelling one of the best Indian rice variety as non-basmati is causing confusion in the minds of interested buyers. In the present scenario, PUSA 1121 needs immediate notification as basmati so that the entire European market is open for it and the country can earn more foreign exchange,” he said.

Setia said the chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana should take up the matter with the Central government in the interest of the farmers.



Graveyard issue may open a Pandora’s box
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Demands for de-notification of graveyard and a cremation ground in Mani Majra is all set to open a Pandora box in the general house meeting of the municipal corporation tomorrow.

Even as the demand for giving additional land to a graveyard for Muslims in Mani Majra is gaining ground, the issue has taken another dimension with the Hindu community of the area seeking de-notification of cremation ground demolished by the UT administration in the same area in 2005.

Nominated councillor Arshad Khan, who is going to table an agenda seeking release of additional land for the graveyard before the scheduled general house on Friday, said in the wake of increase in Muslim population the present area under the graveyard was inadequate. Khan said according to a rough estimate registered Muslim population in the city was around 60,000 and if the unregistered population were included the figures would soar to 80,000. Therefore, the present area of the graveyard was not enough to accommodate such a huge population even if there are less than one per cent deaths in a year.

The issue for additional land erupted in February this year, when the MC was digging the land besides the graveyard for laying a road. Feroz Malik, general secretary of the Muslim Welfare Committee, said after some graves surfaced during the digging the work was stalled after they took up the issue with the authorities, who promised an early solution to the problem.

Similarly, Ram Bagh Swarg Dham Sewa Society, Pocket, Mani Majra, in a representation to the UT advisor on March 11 sought de-notification of cremation ground claiming it to be 150 years old and spanned in an area of ten kanals and 18 marlas. The cremation ground was demolished on February 28, 2005.

Mayor Pradeep Chhabra said both the communities had met him demanding lands for a graveyard and cremation ground. He added that he would look into the matter and take appropriate action after taking views of the area councillors.



Illegal parking creates chaos in Sec 35
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
With the closure of Sector 35 rotary, an increasing number of people are illegally parking their vehicles on the main road, thereby giving a hard time to traffic police officials.

In order to smoothen the flow of traffic, UT engineering department had permanently closed the small rotary of sectors 34 and 35 about a month ago. Sources in the engineering department said existing roundabout was causing hindrance in the movement of traffic.

However, now people usually park their vehicles on the main road and the traffic police have no option but to tow away these vehicles. According to sources, around five to seven vehicles are towed away daily. The offenders have to pay a fine of around Rs 500, which includes 300 for the offence (parking at no parking zone) and 200 for towing charges.

“This has become a headache for us. Being a traffic hazards, we have no choice but to lift the vehicle which again is degenerating the image of police,” said a traffic cop.



Foundation stone of high-level bridge laid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
UT finance secretary Sanjay Kumar today laid the foundation stone of a high-level bridge on National Highway 21, passing between sectors 42 and 53 here.

The UT engineering department is scheduled to complete it within a year. The ministry of road transport and highway has accorded administrative approval amounting to Rs 3.46 crore for the construction of this high-level four-lane single span bridge, downstream of the choe.

At present there is a four-lane minor bridge here. The upcoming bridge will harmonise with the six-lane bridge and allow smooth traffic flow. With the completion of the bridge, a long pending bottleneck on this road will be cleared.



P’kula MC Poll
Police stages flag march
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 27
Even as there are three days left for the polling of much-hyped municipal council elections, a Panchkula police taking no chance staged a flag march thorough the city today.

Another flag march in the city will be taken out tomorrow to instil confidence while 39 polling booths in the city were declared as hyper sensitive and around the same number of booths were found to be sensitive.

Though there was no chance of any disturbance during the election process, the police has geared up to tackle any exigency, said superintendent of police Sandip Khirwar. A total of 98 polling booths would be set up in 31 wards for which 185 candidates were contesting the election.

“The city has been divided in to 10 zones and every zone will have three wards and one executive magistrate, along with one inspector and sufficient supporting staff, will remain present in all zones,” said Khirwar. Around 700 police personnel would remain on duty on the date of polling, he said.



Keralites unhappy with Railway budget
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 27
Members of the Malayalee Samjam, Mohali, have expressed their disappointment that their demand of increasing the frequency of the Kerala Sampark Kranti Express train running from Chandigarh to Kocuveli (Kerala) has not been met with in the Railway budget.

There has been a manifold increase of tourist flow to both the destinations after the introduction of this train but the less frequency of the train has been a real trouble to the Keralite community as well as the tourists.

“Chandigarh has been totally neglected by the ministry in the budget by not providing sufficient train links to other major cities especially to those in southern states. The recently announced Garib Rath from Nizzammudin-Goa and the Amritsar-Kocuveli Express could have been either extended up to Chandigarh or routed through Chandigarh to bring the city into the mainstream train route of the country,” stated president of the samajam Benny Thomas.

“We have been demanding action ever since the inception of this train and were hopeful that this budget would solve our problems,” he added.



Parents given tips on healthy cooking
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
To teach parents how to cook nutritious food, Chitkara International School held a special cookery show as part of the school's orientation programme on its premises here yesterday.

The Show was conducted by Aditi Mehrotra, a well-known dietician.

The dietician gave a number of creative ideas and tips to the parents on how to inculcate good eating habits at home and a practical demonstration was also given to them on how to cook and create a variety of quick, healthy and delicious food.



Recarpeting roads at night

It is a good sight to see the internal roads of southern sectors being recarpeted. But this has resulted into avoidable traffic chaos and traffic jams. There is no policing of the traffic where the jams are taking place.

For going to Sector 43 from Sector 34 one has to go to sector 22/35 round about and then sector 36/35 round about and turn for sector 43 at attawa chowk in case you want to avoid traffic.

Chandigarh corporation provides the recarpeting information to the traffic police well in advance, this can be disseminated to the general public through radio/news paper, the work should be planned in such a manner that it does not hamper the flow of normal traffic. This work can be carried out at night when the traffic flow is not much.

J.S. Bhalla, Chandigarh

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PU gives final nod
Diploma in Hindi, Punjabi journalism soon
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
Finally, there is a reason to cheer for those students who wanted to pursue journalism in regional languages. Panjab University is going to start the proposed postgraduate diploma in Hindi journalism and postgraduate diploma in Punjabi journalism from the academic session 2008-09. The diploma would simultaneously start in the university as well as the affiliated colleges of PU. The faculty of arts in its meeting held today gave it a final nod. With this, the students will have new openings in media without having a language barrier.

To start with, each of the language diplomas will have 15 seats. Though there is an entrance test recommended by the board of studies, the modalities are to be worked out.

Also, for the first time, journalism and mass communication would be introduced as elective subjects at undergraduate level. A PhD programme in journalism and mass communication is also being introduced in the department from the new academic session. In the pipeline is a diploma in advertising and public relations (evening session) to be introduced in the department in the session 2008-09 subject to an approval of syllabus by the board of studies.

Similarly, if the board approves the syllabus, the masters’ degree in journalism and mass communication will have semester system instead of the present annual system on the lines of other universities.

With an aim to reorient social sciences as per the needs of the industry, the faculty of arts has recommended the promotion of field based studies particularly in term papers and project reports. “The aim is to develop applied areas of social sciences,” said Prof B.S. Ghuman, dean, faculty of arts and chairperson, department of public administration.

Also, to increase the employability and skill formation of the students in social sciences, student internships, which was earlier not there in many departments has been recommended.

All the recommendations will be presented in the next meeting of academic council for further consideration.



From Colleges
CIHM releases ‘Cater Craft’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
“To encourage tourism, new projects like Multimedia Film City, Theme-cum-Amusement Park and Aquatic Park will be there in the city, which will also enhance the job opportunities for the students of hospitality and tourism sector,” said the UT home secretary Krishna Mohan during annual day function of Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management (CIHM), Sector 42-D, here today.

Complimenting the CIHM for its good performance, Mohan said, "It is a matter of pleasure that the institute is coming up so well and all the students are getting good placements and quality education.” He also congratulated the institute for its upgradation to the degree level.

In his address, principal, CIHM, S.K. Saluja highlighted the major achievement, academic performance and other activities performed at the institute during the current academic year.

On the occasion, students presented a welcome song, saraswati vandana, Punjabi dance and foot tapping Bhangra, which were applauded by the audience.

Later, the chief guest also released 'Cater Craft,' annual magazine of the CIHM.

MoU signed: Aryan School of Business signed a MoU today with London Institute of Management Education (LIME), London, under which the local school would offer chartered management courses. According to this MoU, Aryans School of International Studies (ASIS), would offer CMI courses in the region from June onwards.

MEETING: GGDSD College Teachers’ Union today held a general body meeting in which annual report on the activities of the union for the year 2007-2008 was presented by the union’s president Prof Rakesh Mehta. The finance secretary of the union Prof M. P. Sharma presented the statement of accounts.

Later, the entire house unanimously resolved to further strengthen the union and unanimously re-elected the same team for the third consecutive term. President: Prof Rakesh Mehta, vice-president: Prof H.K. Khanna, secretary: Prof Anil Parti, joint secretary: Madhu Sharma, finance secretary: Prof M.P. Sharma.



Computer science to be an elective subject now
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, march 27
Under the policy of expanding the choice of subjects for the students, the education department of Chandigarh administration has decided to introduce computer science as one of the elective subject under the academic stream in class XI from the session 2008-09.

In the first step, the subject would be introduced in 12 government model schools, including Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 10, Sector 16, Sector 18, Sector 19, Sector 21, Sector 32, Sector 33, Sector 35, 
Sector 37, Sector 40, Sector 46 and Modern Complex, Manimajra.

According to S.K.Setia, DPI(S), the schools got preference as these schools have already high-tech computer labs. “Expert computer faculty will teach these subject provided by the DOEACE very shortly” said Setia while maintaining that it would be an independent elective subject under the academic stream as per guidelines prescribed in the senior secondary curriculum guidelines for the session 2009-10.

He further added the heads of the schools, where this subject has been introduced, are directed to apply online to the director academics, CBSE, New Delhi, on its website www.cbse.nic.in <http://www.cbse.nic.in/> immediately for approval of computer science as an elective subject under the academic stream on payment of requisite fee for the subject as prescribed by the CBSE, New Delhi. 



400 teachers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The Vocational Teachers’ Association, Haryana, held a protest in front of the office of the Industrial Training and Vocational Education, Sector 17, here today.

Around 400 employees headed by Dr R. Bharati demanded the transfer of the entire system. Around 31 centres have been transfered to the education department from a total of 78. The association has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Haryana. 



Firm asked to pay Rs 2,027 as compensation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 27
The district consumer disputes redressal forum has directed Whirlpool India Ltd, Mani Majra, to refund Rs 2,027 to a resident of Sector 30. The company has also been asked to pay Rs 500 as costs of litigation.

The petitioner, Madan Lal, stated that he had purchased a Whirlpool refrigerator for Rs 9,800 with a warranty of one year. Madan added that he had made a payment of Rs 2,027 for extended warranty for 48 months. He alleged that the refrigerator went out of order in June 2007. Thereafter he complained to the company and although he visited the company’s office several times his refrigerator was not repaired.

Following this, an official of the company checked the refrigerator and told the petitioner it can be replaced after paying a sum of Rs 7,450. Madan stated that the price of the new refrigerator was Rs 16,325 whereas he had paid more.

In response to the petition, the company denied that the refrigerator carried a warranty of five years. They added that the money taken after replacement of the refrigerator was genuine. It was argued that there was no difference in the price of the new refrigerator and money the taken from Madan. The company added that the cost of second refrigerator, including transportation charges along with Rs 7,450 was taken from the petitioner. It was stated that the service plan was meant only for the old refrigerator and cannot be given on the new refrigerator nor the amount can be refunded.

Meanwhile, the forum headed by Jagroop Singh Mahal stated: “No free service was given to the petitioner against this plan. When the company did not render any service they are not entitled to retain the fee.”



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