C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


ITBP man dies in blast
Grenade goes off at firing range, 9 injured

Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 2
An ITBP man was killed and nine others seriously injured when a hand grenade went off prematurely during a training session at the Naraingarh firing range, near here, today.

It was the second such incident in the past two months. On March 13, three CRPF personnel were killed in a similar incident at the range.

The deceased has been identified as havildar Om Parkash Sangwan (41), a resident of Mahendergarh district in Haryana.

A court of inquiry has been constituted, the additional deputy inspector-general (training), P.S. Papta, said. Recruits were practising the hurling of grenades when a grenade went off as soon as it was hurled into the air.

The injured were shifted to the PGI, where Om Parkash was declared brought dead. The condition of the injured is said to be stable.

The ADIG said around 300 personnel from the ITBP training centre at Bhanu had reached the range near Bhud Mandloi village of Raipur Rani in the morning. A batch of 140 personnel were training when the accident took place.



Death knell for Sukhna
Tribune News Service

Admn hasn’t given up

The UT administration says it has been doing much to slow the ageing of the lake. Officials believe that every year, lakhs of cubic metres of silt is being mechanically removed. “From the mid of May this year, the administration has planned to carry out the mechanical removal of silt with a dragline and pork lain,” the secretary engineer, Sanjay Kumar, said.

He said since the administration was concerned about the problem, it has been pursuing the case of administrative approval for the Rs 72-crore desiltation project with the Centre. The UT chief engineer, S.K. Jaitley, said machinery had been sought from the BBMB, the Army and neighbouring states to carry out the silt removal exercise.

Beginning of the end?

  • The spread area of water has reduced from 228 hectare metres to 148 hectare metres
  • The average flow of water into the lake from 1958 to 1978 was 7,370 acre feet while in 1999 it was 1,870 acre feet. In 2006, it was only 736 acre feet. It has further fallen this year.

Chandigarh, May 2
Official apathy and global warming is spelling doom for Sukhna Lake. Days are not far when comedian Jaspal Bhatti would do a retake of 1985 when he played cricket on the parched bed of the lake.

It is a matter of concern for city residents and experts who are seeing the artificial lake gasping due to the steep fall in water level.

The lake has been declared the 11th wetland of the country. Ever since the rain-fed lake was formed in 1958 by harnessing Kansal, Ghareri and Nepli choes, the lake has been aging fast. Experts say that either due to scanty rain or less flow of water downstream, the spread area of the water in the lake has reduced from 228 hectare metres to 148 hectare metres.

Sample this dismal picture. The average flow of water into the lake from 1958 to 1978 was 7,370 acre feet while in 1999 it was 1,870 acre feet, which was 25 per cent of the average of 20 years. In 2006, it was only 736 acre feet, which is 10 per cent.

Prof M.S. Johal, department of zoology, Panjab University, says there is urgent need to save the ecology of the lake.

As per official figures, soil erosion has reduced from 160 metric tonnes per hectare per annum to 5.6 metric tonnes over the years. Every year, lakhs of cubic metres of silt is being mechanically removed even after “shramdan” was officially discontinued in 2002.

But still the lake is dying. The authorities have closed almost half of the area of the water body for boating. “Boats are in the danger of getting stuck due to the falling water level,” an official at the lake confided.

The latest figures show that the pondage capacity has reduced from 1074.4 hectare metres to 513.28 hectare metres. At present, the water carrying capacity of the lake is 47.78 per cent. But the lake will never fill to its maximum level, says S.P. Malhotra, a former chief engineer in the Haryana irrigation department.

He puts the blame on water-consuming schemes upstream for the less flow of water into the lake. Soil conservation and afforestation schemes in the catchment of the lake are water consuming. This may well be the beginning of the end of the lake,” he says.



‘Silt a boon for boating’
Tribune News Service

Wild growth on the dried-up Sukhna bed in Chandigarh
Wild growth on the dried-up Sukhna bed in Chandigarh. — Tribune photo by Karam Singh

Chandigarh, May 2
S.P. Malhotra, a former engineer-in-chief of Haryana Irrigation Department, who has submitted a five-point action plan for the water and silt problem of Sukhna Lake, is still waiting for a reply from the Chandigarh administration.

A wooden model proposed by him was displayed before a four-member committee headed by the UT chief engineer on February 14.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Malhotra said there was no need to propose Rs 50-crore project for desiltation of the lake.

The silt is a boon for boating activity. At the time when the depth was not enough for boating, heaps of silt caused the depth of water to increase at the un-silted places.

On the Rs 50-crore desilting project, he said there was no guarantee that the project would not become fructuous for want of water because the water supply to the lake was not ensured and desilting would not generate any water.

A large area would be required to store the excavated silt and the machinery to be deployed for dredging would disturb the peace and tranquility.





A problem of plenty at High Court
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Punjab and Haryana High Court is striving hard to do justice to its new judges. Though six advocates are expected to be sworn in as judges sometime this month, the infrastructure still needs to be elevated.

In an attempt to create additional space for courtrooms and other facilities, the HC has initiated the process of shifting eight branches to the second floor of two showrooms in Sector 19.

The staff, however, fears it will affect efficiency. In 1990, some branches were moved from the court premises, but had to be shifted back to the court building in larger public interest and efficiency, the staff said.

Bar members apprehend the action may still not be able to solve the problem completely. Out of the eight courtrooms proposed to be constructed, only about half have direct access to the judges’ gallery.

If this is not sorted out, at least four judges will have to access courtrooms through public corridors.

Even the staff of some sitting judges is not in accordance with the requirement. The effect of the shortage will be more pronounced once the judges are sworn in.

The HC has a record number of 43 judges, which will increase to 49 following the elevation of the advocates. Only one judge is scheduled to retire this year. The sanctioned strength has been increased from 40 to 68.

Sources say another problem is that of accommodation. The Chandigarh administration has earmarked sites in Sectors 24 and 19 for the construction of houses for judges. But the completion of the construction is likely to take about 18 months. Some judges are putting up in their own houses.



Sector 63 Housing Scheme
Flaws in CHB design blueprint
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Allottees of one-room dwelling units (EWS) under the Sector 63 scheme of the CHB will have no privacy.

The CHB seems to setting new standards in faulty planning and design if one goes by the “defective designs” of its 1,976 flats. Touted to be the state-of-the-art complex, poor architectural designs are bound to upset the allottees.

Virtually bereft of sunlight, the allottees of the four dwelling unit blocks in the EWS category will have a common window.

Large-scale differences in other specifications in all categories makes the project doomed from the very beginning, sources said.

This is not the only defect in the project, whose design has been outsourced by the board for better sunlight and air.

One of the bedrooms in category A flats does not have an entrance and is surrounded by a dressing room and toilet. This would mean that placing a double-bed here would be difficult. Also, the dining area has an adjoining toilet.

Even as allottees are supposed to pay a large sum of money for category B flats, these would have a limited dining area.

Sources said the design makes a provision for a kitchen measuring only 9.9 ft by 6 ft for category C flats.

The dressing room is in an area measuring 4.4 ft by 2.7 ft.

“With gross technical errors, this is bad planning at its best,” Surinder Bahga, principal architect, Saakaar Foundation, said.

However, the CEO of the CHB, Amar Nath, claimed that different specifications had been made keeping in view the functional requirements of flat owners while keeping the covered area identical.



Small is beautiful
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Chandigarh residents are going the metro way for their housing needs. The response to the general housing scheme of the CHB in Sector 63, a majority of applicants have applied for one-room and one-bedroom apartments.

The response is a departure from the earlier schemes when two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments caught the fancy of investors and end users.

Though the category-wise data is being compiled by Axis Bank, which is coordinating the scheme for the CHB, a random survey of applications has revealed that one bedroom and EWS dwelling units are a hit with applicants.

Sources said the high cost of dwelling units could be one of the reasons for applicants wanting smaller flats. While a category ‘A’ three-bedroom flat with an area of 1,424 sq ft will cost about Rs 39.57 lakh, the category B two-bedroom flat with an area of 1,075 sq ft is priced at Rs 29.14 lakh.

A category ‘C’ one-bedroom flat with an area of 684 sq ft will cost Rs 17.15 lakh and a category ‘D’ one-bedroom flat with an area of 340 sq ft is priced at Rs 5.66 lakh.

Another factor for the poor response to bigger flats is the fact that applicants had to pay the entire amount in white. Since the amount was large, there was not much scope for speculation by investors, A.K. Sharma, a Chandigarh-based property observer, said.



UT, Haryana to hold joint demarcation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The Chandigarh administration and Haryana Government today decided to undertake a joint demarcation of the boundary between Chandigarh and Panchkula.

The area adjoining the IT habitat being developed by Parsavnath in Chandigarh IT Park runs parallel to the inter-state boundary.

The demarcation would be carried out next week. The decision was taken at the first inter-state meeting of senior officials of the UT and Haryana at UT secretariat here.

The UT has also offered to construct road up to Industrial Area, Phase II, Panchkula, after the neighbour constructs flyover to give road connectivity.

A number of decisions to improve the road connectivity between the two cities were taken.

The issue of transport network and integrated development was also discussed at the meeting.

The UT also sought regulated planning of the periphery as declared under the Periphery Act.



Roads bear the brunt of stand-off
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 2
The stand-off between crusher-owners and the mining department is set to deprive Panchkula residents of good roads for a few more months.

Roads in Panchkula, as well as in other parts of district, are in dire need of repair but the mining department and crusher-owners have locked horns over the issue of reserved price of bid for quarries, leading to alleged shortage of raw material.

In fact, the administration could not allott the repair work on roads worth Rs 4.57 crore. The roads to be repaired include those in Sectors 19, 8, 7, 6 and Pinjore and Kalka. But the contractors have expressed their helplessness in carrying out the work saying that it would not be possible for them to carry out the job as the crusher-owners have doubled the prices of material to double during last one month.

First it was the code of conduct imposed due to municipal elections in the month of March and now the price factor has delayed the work. In case the work is not started it would be delayed till the rainy season is over, said officials in the municipal committee of Panchkula.

On the other hand, the crusher-owners alleged that they had no stock with them as the mining in the district was halted at the start of last month when the contract for it expired on March 31.

“In fact this is an annual phenomenon but the problem has been aggravated this year as the mining department has increased the reserve price of quarries in the district to almost double,” said R P Singh, a crusher-owner.

The reserved price for all the quarries was fixed at Rs 72 crore, up from the Rs 36 crore last year, he said. In addition, the contractors were asked to procure the no-objection certificate from environment and pollution department as well although it was required only in case of major mining in other states, he added. Because of these factors no one was willing to bid for quarries, said Singh.

Sources in the administration said the crusher-owners have created an artificial shortage as a pressure tactic against the administration.

Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Rajinder Kataria who ordered closure of the quarries a few month back, after illegal mining was noticed in these quarries, again caught some vehicles going out of area with the material, illegally. The administration which has videographed the stocks has initiated the action against these crusher-owners.

In a survey of April 23, it was found that there was sufficient stock at all screening and washing plants.

Sources in the administration said the powerful lobby of the mine contractors even approached the Haryana chief minister against the ‘highhandedness, of the deputy commissioner, but to no avail.

Sources said during the survey it was found that majority of the crusher-owners were violating the pollution control norms and now it would be ensured that they follow the rules. Even the shifting of the site of crushers is on the anvil so that there is no pollution near residential areas.



Fire at marketing unit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Crockery and electric appliances worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in a fire which broke out at G.M. Marketing in Phase 2 of the Industrial Area here this evening.

This is the second fire in two consecutive days. The fire broke out around 6.15 pm. The entire area was engulfed in thick smoke. There was panic as workers tried to save the stock.

Those present said the fire broke out due to a short circuit. The fire brigade took 30 minutes to reach the spot and eight fire engines were used to control the fire.

Fire station officer S.K. Gosain said the fire engines reached the spot promptly. The reason for the spread of the fire was poor judgement and confusion. The firemen took around two hours to control the fire.



Poor coordination, admits fire officer
Mandeep Puri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Not learning anything from yesterday’s fire incident, lack of coordination among members of the fire department delayed operations.

Those present at the plot alleged that it took 40 minutes for fire engines to reach the spot. Moreover, the engines were half empty.

Also, they opened all water engines at the same time, resulting in the wastage of huge amount of water. The sub-fire officer admitted to poor coordination.

The mayor, Pardeep Chhabra, said, “Very soon the MC will come up with guidelines for people on how to react and act in case of fire. People need to be guided on how to react during the crucial time before fire engines reach the spot.”



‘Missing’ girl appears in Mohali SDM’s office
Our Correspondent

Kaddu along with her father Amrik Singh and mother Charanjit Kaur in Mohali
Kaddu along with her father Amrik Singh and mother Charanjit Kaur in Mohali on Friday. — A Tribune photograph

Mohali, May 2
The 15-year-old girl who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances from Patiala SDM Gurmeet Singh’s house in Phase X appeared before the Mohali SDM, here today.

The girl, Kaddu, who worked as a domestic help in the house of Gurmeet Singh, was accompanied to the SDM’s office by her parents and a Chandigarh resident Tarlochan Singh, who had kept the girl in his house till he contacted her parents.

The girl told the SDM that she had left the house where she worked because she was allegedly abused and beaten up.

Tarlochan Singh said he found the girl crying in Sector 22, Chandigarh. He said the girl did not give adequate details about her parents and to the place she belonged. However, he took her to his house and later traced her parents.

Meanwhile, Mohali SDM Raghbir Kaur Khaira told mediapersons that the statement of the girl was recorded and she was sent for a medical examination. She said action in this regard would be taken under the Child Labour Act.

The parents of the girl, who live in a village near Talwandi Sabo, had come to Mohali looking for their daughter after they got to know that she had left the house of Patiala SDM.

However, SDM Gurmeet Singh said the entire story of disappearance of the girl was concocted to exploit him.

He said the parents of the girl had told him over the phone that they were in touch with Kaddu for the past many days. He added that since yesterday he had received 14 phone calls where demand for money was allegedly made to settle the matter. Gurmeet said he had evidence in this regard and he would be prosecuting the parents of the girl for unnecessarily defaming him.

Gurmeet further said a police employee Paramjit Singh, who was working in Mohali and belonged to the same village from which the girl hailed, had allegedly got the girl employed elsewhere.

He said the girl was taken away from his house by her father more than 10 days ago. Moreover, the person who had kept the girl in his house for so many days after he found her in Chandigarh did not inform the police, which again raised suspicion, said Gurmeet.



Priest succumbs to burns
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The priest of Kajheri village who was set on fire by a group of eight persons two days ago succumbed to his burns at the PGI early this morning.

In his statement before the magistrate, the priest had alleged that Pinki along with other members of the village had set him on fire. He was admitted to the PGI with over 70 per cent burns.

The family of the priest, members of the priests’ association and villagers protested outside the temple demanding the arrest of the accused.

The body of the deceased kept lying in a vehicle for a some hours and the police had to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.

The agitators insisted that the body would not be cremated till the police arrested the accused.

DSP Jaswant Singh and DSP (traffic) Jasbir Singh Cheema brought things under control after giving an assurance that the police would do everything to nab the accused.

“Raids were being carried out to catch the accused. The investigation agencies are trying to know the whereabouts of the accused. A fair inquiry would be made in this matter,” said Cheema.

The body of the deceased was handed over to the family members, who later took it to their native village in Jind for cremation.

According to SHO Devinder Sharma: “We are investigating the case and action would only be taken after the investigation is over. Those involved in the crime will be arrested.”



‘We feel unsafe’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
In the absence of proper norms set by the Chandigarh administration, members of the Bevalya Poojak Parishad have expressed fear for the lives of priests following the setting of a priest on fire inside a temple at Kajheri village. With around 180 temples and over 300 members, the organisation believes that priests are at the mercy of temple committees, which throw them out whenever they wish.

The parishad, established in the 1992, says the members of the organisation are feeling unsafe after what happened at Kajheri village.

Organisation president Ayodhya Shastri said though the organisation had been around for the past 15 years, the administration had done nothing for the welfare to priests.

“The administration has not laid down any norms for us. It is the temple committee that decides the rules and regulation for a priest.”



Election code sours anniversary celebrations
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 2
The grand plans made by the SAS Nagar administration to celebrate the 285th birth anniversary of Jassa Singh Ramgarhia in Mohali on May 5 have gone for a toss.

The Punjab State Election Commission has reportedly decided not to allow the celebrations in view of the model code of conduct that is in force for the forthcoming zila parishad and block samiti elections.

Though officially nothing has been communicated to the SAS Nagar administration, sources in the commission said the function would not be allowed to be held.

A letter written by SAS Nagar deputy commissioner H.I.S. Grewal to the commission to seek its approval for the function has been curtly sent back by the commission with the remark that the request regarding the celebrations should be sent by the government and not by the deputy commissioner.

The state-level massive celebrations were announced by cabinet minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh and were to be organised by the district administration in collaboration with the Maharaja Jassa Singh Ramgarhia Samagam Committee. The minister had even declared May 5 as a holiday in the district. The holiday, said sources in the commission, was likely to be allowed.

Arrangements for the celebrations are, however, continuing at a feverish pitch in Mohali. Over 30,000 persons from across the state have been invited to attend the function. Printed invitation cards state that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would be present along with the entire cabinet. A massive tent in Phase VIII Dassehra grounds has already been put up.

“We have paid Rs 5 lakh to the tent man,” said president of the committee J.S. Bhullar adding that Rs 15 to 20 lakh had already been spent on the show. “The administration was to collaborate with us in the arrangements. The administration was to get the pandal and stage work done and also provide official support. But nothing has been done. We met the DC two days ago and he plainly refused to cooperate saying the model code of conduct was in place,” said Bhullar.

Bhullar added that the announcement to hold the function was made more than a month ago when the elections were not even announced. “We have gone from home to home and have been gathering funds ever since the DC refused to cooperate. We have called 30,000 people on the promise made by the district administration. We would be the ones to suffer humiliation if adequate facilities are not in place. Now all the arrangements are our own and it is not a government function anymore,” he said.



Youth prefer Internet to print media: Dickenson
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Technology is changing the face of the US media with Internet replacing print media for information dissemination among the younger generation, veteran American journalist James Richard Dickenson said here today.

“Newspapers are gradually losing readers to Internet as it is the primary source of news for about 50% of the persons up to 30 years of age,” Dickenson said during an interaction with members of the Chandigarh Press Club.

In fact, to face the onslaught of information technology, major newspapers, including the Washington Post and the New York Times, have come up with news portals for the internet users.

This coupled with the reduced advertisement tariff had forced the major newspapers to reduce overseas bureaus with a view to cut production cost, the scribe said.

Dickenson agreed that the US media was indulging in the trivialisation of the US presidential election coverage particularly the role of pastor Rev Jeremiah.

Even though major issues, including the changing role of the US as world power, sorry state of its economy and ideological issues took a back seat, the media was obsessed with trivial issues probably due to their political value, he asserted.

Predicting a win for Barack Obama, Dickenson said he dreamt of a new future for the country.



Rly component facility at Baddi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Global leaders in on-board systems for railways, Faiveley Transport, has set up its facility at Baddi, with an investment of Rs 50 crore.

This is the second facility to be set up by the company in India.

A press note said the new unit would increase company’s manufacturing capacity by 50 per cent, besides introducing new products like automatic coupling systems, air-conditioning, pantographs and door systems for the Indian Metro market.

The new facility will provide employment to 150 personnel and generate indirect employment to over 1,000 persons.

The company also hopes to generate foreign exchange through export of goods to the tune of Rs 20 crore.

Various Indian Railway manufacturing units like Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala; Chitranjan Locomotive Works, Diesel Locomotive Works and various freight wagon production units located in North and East India will be served by Faiveley from this new facility.

The project is conceived over three phases and by the time it is complete, will generate annual business of Rs 250 crore.

The company has a unit in Hosur, Tamil Nadu, which is engaged in design and production of various railway braking systems and coupets for Indian Railway.

In the last fiscal, the group had a sales turnover of Rs 147 crore and an order intake of Rs 166 crore.



Pay panel a farce, say ex-servicemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Terming the recommendations of the Sixth Pay Commission a mockery, a section of ex-servicemen here have said that the review committee set up is not acceptable to them as it comprises only bureaucrats.

A statement issued by the All-India Defence Brotherhood here today said bureaucrats did not understand the problems of defence personnel and hence they would not get any justice.

The statement said the commission had treated the soldier as unskilled labourer and his status had been degraded.

The military service pay of Rs 1,000 per month recommended by the commission for jawans should be at least Rs 3,000.

Further, middle-rung officers had been ignored as 15-20 per cent increase in pay was hardly any benefit in view of the current inflation trend.

Also, the promise of one-rank-one pension had not been implemented.

The statement also termed the policy of having two categories of widows — war widows and insurgency widows — as unfair.



BJP bandh evokes poor response
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The nationwide bandh called by the BJP to protest against price rise evoked a poor response in the city here today.

Shops, commercial establishments and markets remained closed in most parts of the city and its suburbs in response to the bandh, which was also supported by the Shromani Akali Dal.

However, vehicular movement was unaffected in the city, official sources said, adding that the bandh did not affect the attendance of employees in government offices, banks, other public sector undertakings and educational institutions.

The workers of the Bharatiya Janta Party gathered outside Sector 7 market and asked shopkeepers to close the shutters of shops. Most shopkeepers obliged and closed the shops for a few hours.

Former MP Satya Pal Jain, critised the UPA government for doing little to curb price rise. Calling it a social issue, the former Member of Parliament said the rising prices had left no other option even for the common people but to protest.

The parts of the city that were affected by the bandh were Sector 20,21,23, 37, 38 and Ram Dardar.

In the afternoon, the protesters gathered outside the Sector 17 piazza to form a human chain. The protesters raise slogans against the Centre government.



P’kula BJP leaders oblivious to bandh call
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 2
Albeit the BJP has plans to make the price rise issue their main plank during the forthcoming general elections, as well as the by-elections to be held in the state on May 22, the party’s local leaders remained oblivious to the call for a nationwide bandh by their senior leaders, here today.

Though the party activities were noticed in the adjoining city of Chandigarh, the Panchkula BJP leaders did not know that there was any such call by the leaders. Interestingly, the city is hometown of Haryana BJP president Atam Parkash Manchanda.

The markets and other commercial institutions functioned normally in the city. “We had no information regarding the call at Panchkula and no state leader asked us to prepare for the bandh in the city,” said Sanjay Ahuja, the spokesman of the party.





900 jhuggis razed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
As many as 900 jhuggis were demolished in an anti-encroachment drive carried out in Sector 38 West here today.

An official stated that the jhuggis had come up on 20 acres of land and it was for the third time that the jhuggis had been removed from the area.

The area falls behind the gurdwara in Sector 38 West. The demolition drive was carried out following a report of encroachments given by the task force of the estate office.



Police to go tough on corrupt officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
To encourage transparency, the Chandigarh police has decided to act tough on officials who are involved in corruption.

SSP S.S. Srivastava said the dismissal of these officials would discourage others from indulging in such activities. “In future, if any official is found indulging in such activities he would be dealt with in a similar manner,” he added.

Recently, SI Diwan Singh and constable Jasbir Singh were arrested by the CBI for accepting illegal gratification of Rs 20,000 from Prem Singh, resident of Kajheri village.




Problems at park

The Sector 29-D park, opened to public by union minister of state for finance Pawan Kumar Bansal in the last week of March, is plagued with a number of problems.

The low-lying area of the park emits nauseating stench. There is no provision of floodlights in the park. The footlights installed in the park serve no purpose and those visiting the park, especially women, are gripped by an unforeseen fear of falling prey to chain snatchers or miscreants. In violation of the Chandigarh municipal corporation’s order flashed on a notice board, pet dogs roam about freely along with their owners. Even stray dogs gain entry to the park.

The administration should set the things right.

Shivani Dhiman

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



Scarcity of Books
NCERT needs to set distribution system right
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The new academic session has started for over a month now, but the much talked about "new distribution pattern" for the NCERT textbooks seems to be a non-starter. Consequently, the textbooks of primary to higher secondary classes are yet to hit the stores in Chandigarh.

The city’s main bookstores like Ramesh Book Store-23, Manchanda Book Store-19 and The English Book Shop-17 have still not received NCERT textbooks. Ironically, some unauthorised dealers across the city are selling some of the books, but at a price 15 to 20 per cent higher than the quoted one.

Though, it is making a big hole in parents’ pocket, but they have no other option as the session has already started and they cannot afford to wait any more.

A search conducted at these bookstores today revealed that there was no sign of textbooks for Class XII economics, sociology (Hindi medium), geography, economics and Sanskrit, English, social science; for Class IX social science (English, Hindi medium) and English; for Class X geography, political science, history, civics; for Classes II, III, IV, VII EVS and maths (Hindi medium).

Although the NCERT and CBSE have precise information about the exact consumption of books in various areas, still the distribution pattern is not designed accordingly.

Terming it a chronic problem, some of the agents of the NCERT books in the city told The Tribune that the books were distributed state wise by the NCERT and Chandigarh’s turn came at a later stage. “Since the NCERT is based in New Delhi, its prime focus is always on Delhi. Then this privilege shifts to Haryana. And then comes Chandigarh, better known as “Education Hub”, they retorted.

The problem is that the quota of books for all states is same and the variation in the number of takers is given little consideration. This factor leads to black marketing. "Kalka, Pinjore and Panchkula fall in Haryana and thus the distributors there acquire their stock early. Since the consumption in these areas is low, they sell their stockpile through shops in Chandigarh, but at a higher price," said the agents.

A bookseller said the NCERT had supplied just 300 copies of EVS (Hindi) for Class III against the requirement of 20,000 copies.

With this delay and lapses on the part of the NCERT, the private publishers are making hay by offering books at exorbitant rates. Some of the school principals said because of the unavailability of the NCERT books, they resorted to books offered by the private publishers.



Dollars no longer fancy budding managers
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Prospective managers are no longer nurturing dreams to earn dollars. Most of the city-based students, who belled the CAT this year, are hardly bothered about foreign placements. On the contrary, they find more competition as well as opportunities in the country.

Abhishek Singh and Shobhit, who have got two calls each from IIMs Calcutta and Kozhikode, have made up their minds not to go abroad after completion of their MBA.

“India is growing rapidly and thus providing almost equal opportunities compared to various developed countries. So what is the fun in going abroad?” said Abhishek Singh while celebrating the achievement with other successful candidates, including Mohit Bharti and Vineet Saini.

“Though you get good exposure if work with a foreign-based company initially, but I am not going to settle abroad at any cost. Ethically also, it is not right as our government spends a lot to provide professional as well as higher education,” viewed Abhishek.

“Otherwise also, why would we go outside our country, if we get good packages at home?” echoed Mohit Bharti and Vineet Saini maintaining that fat pay packages are secondary to them. Both of them have got calls from IIM, Kozhikode.

The change in the economic scenario of the country has also caused a change in the mindset of students as well as their parents.

“Earlier, everyone wanted to be either doctor/engineer or civil servant but now, the students are looking at other challenging options that offer big bucks. MBA is the best option for such students,” viewed Dinesh Kumar Gupta, faculty, PaceSetter, a coaching centre in the city.

The number of girls, opting for the managerial career, is also increasing.

“A decade back, only five to six girls would come to us for coaching but now, the number has reached 300. Now, the boy-girl ratio is 60:40,” said Anu Sharma, MD of PaceSetter.

In the coming years, the trend is expected to pick up.



26 budding actors get diplomas
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Those who dream to reach the pinnacle of glory by hard work and dedication and are ready to pay the price for making their aspirations come true and become successful. This held true for every student present on the first convocation of Actor Prepares Acting Institute and Society for Tourism and Entertainment Promotion (STEPS) today.

Most students who got their diploma of acting course from actor Anupam Kher had hopes in their eyes to make it big one day.

Two batches comprising 26 students got diploma for their acting course of six and three months durations, respectively.

During the training, they learned techniques in acting, shooting, direction and production of films.

Seven short films — “Puncturewala”, “Naukari”, “Audition”, “Insurance”, “Football”, “Tum” and “Dancer” — were screened during the convocation.

The short films had been shot in Chandigarh, starring students of the institute. The duration of each film was 3-4 minutes.

“I always thought that joining acting school was fun, but after having experienced the hard work and struggle that one has to put in to produce something good, my views about acting school have altogether changed,” said Karan, a student of second batch, while talking to Chandigarh Tribune.

He had realised that the more one put their emotions into acting, the more one learned about art, he added.

Amit Sharma, a student of first batch, who has also tried his hands at modelling, was more inclined towards doing art films rather than commercial ones.

The audition of Actor Prepares for the next batch will be held on May 16 and 17.

The institute will introduce evening classes during this session to provide an opportunity to the employed to take up such courses.



Acting school was my dream: Kher
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Anupam Kher Chandigarh, May 2
If in the Bollywood industry of $7 billion, any struggler actor complaints of not getting a chance to prove his artistic skills, then it’s the fault of the artist and not the industry, Anupam Kher, a renowned film artist, who was in the city to attend the first convocation of the Actors School, Chandigarh, said.

Kher said 33 years ago, even if an artist thought that he had talent, there was nobody to guide him. But now, there were ample opportunities, if one had screen beauty and acting talent. Now, the film industry had become more professional.

He said after his first break, he realised that the struggling actors should have a platform to impart knowledge about the techniques of the industry and their skill should be polished before entering the challenging world of competition.

From that day, he had a dream to open a school to train the artists, who had potential and zeal to prove their art.

When asked why the villains in the industry had almost disappeared? He replied that society had live criminals, who were performing crime without any fear of law and order. He said when the people were facing crime in their day-to-day life, there was no need of artificial villains.

He justified that most of the villains in the film industry were now performing the role of comedians in this age of stress and tension.

He added that there was more scope in entertaining people by these roles.

He said it was very unfortunate that the glamour sold more rather than talent. There was a very thin line between success and respect.

Kher said his movies like Wednesday, Hawai Dada, Thaana, C-Company and God Tusi Great Ho were in the pipeline.



PUTA to intensify stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Teachers of the department of correspondence studies of Panjab University joined the chain fast on the 26th day today. The chain fast was started on the university campus by the Joint Action Committee to demand central status for the university. Prof Jaspal Kaur Kaang, Dr Swarnjit Kaur, Dr Ram Mehar and Dr Jeesu Jaskanwar Singh and a research scholar Gurdeep Singh from the department of Punjabi also joined them.

The library staff has also found a slot in the fast for May 14 and they will continue the fast in the subsequent weeks.

Meanwhile, looking at the massive response from the PU community as also from outside the campus, PUTA, in its meeting held today, decided to intensify the agitation.

Prof Manjit Singh, coordinator, JAC, said the scorching heat had failed to deter the volunteers from fighting the battle. In view of Rs 50,000 crore debt of the Punjab Government, the Central Government seemed to be the only hope to save the university.



From Schools & Colleges
Students sensitised on eye donation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
D.S. Gurukul College of Education for Women organised an eye donation awareness camp on the college campus at Golumajra village, near Mohali, today. A team of doctors headed by Dr Manjali, senior resident from the department of eye donation, were present.

Dr Manjali informed the college students about the eyes-related problems. Principal of the college Dr Satinder Dhillon talked about the myths and misconceptions regarding eye donation.

Painting contest: Cadet Navneet Singh of DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 8, Chandigarh, grabbed the first place while Cadet Gurwinder Singh of GMSSS-16 got the second place in the painting competition held at Sukhna Lake. The third place went to Prabhjot Kaur of Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 36. The competition was organised by the 1Chandigarh Naval Unit NCC, under the guidance of Commander D.V. Singh. The winners were felicitated by chief guest Colonel M.S. Chauhan, Group Commander, NCC Group HQ, Chandigarh.

ANNUAL DAY: Air Force School, 3 BRD, celebrated their annual day at Lecma Hall, AFS Station, here. Air Commodore S.C. Luthra, VSM AOC, 3 BRD, was the chief guest. Principal Kiran Datta read out the school annual report. Tiny tots dressed up colourfully danced to the tunes of various action rhymes. The Hindi play depicting the impact of inflation was highly appreciated. Skit -Tare Zameen Par - conveyed the message to ban child labour.

function: The annual day function of Kendriya Vidyalaya No. 1, Chandi Mandir Cantonment, was marked by a cultural extravaganza by students at Gen Manekshaw Auditorium in Chandi Mandir Cantonment. Chief Guest Maj Gen Rajesh Pant, VSM, CSO, HQ, Western Command lighted the ceremonial lamp. Principal Narinder Mohini presented the annual report. Prizes were given to the students excelling in academics and sports.



Slip-ups galore at PU examination branch
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The examination branch of Panjab University seems to be learning hardly any lesson from its mistakes. As such, lapses have become synonymous with the branch’s functioning at least, when it comes to the department of laws. After the recent incident when law question papers of semester IV were found not to be in accordance with the prescribed pattern with a few questions from outside the syllabus, it was the turn of semester-V students to face the inconvenience today.

Officials of the department of laws were in for a shock today when the sealed envelope containing the question papers of the semester-V Land Laws examination was opened. The envelope mentioned that there were 100 question papers in the envelope whereas actually there were just 20 question papers.

There was a panic among 85 odd students, who had come to appear in the re-appear examination. The officials then tried contacting the examination branch. It was only after an hour that the question papers were sent to the department. This led to a great resentment among the students, who termed it an act of sheer callousness by the conducting branch.

“We come prepared for the examination with a mindset of reaching the hall and start attempting the questions, but with such an incident happening right before the examination, we obviously get distracted,” said a student.

According to sources, the department has already sent a written complaint to the authorities.

Incidents of this kind have become common. On April 26, Rayat College of Law, Ropar, which is affiliated to Panjab University, also faced a similar situation when a sealed envelope, supposedly containing 70 question papers, was found to be having only 20. Since the institute is situated at a distance from the campus, they had to make do with the photostat copies of the question papers to carry on with the exam.

A similar incident took place at the University Institute of Legal Studies on April 26 when the sealed packet, which was supposed to contain 150 question papers, had only 50. R.S. Grewal, director, UILS, said, “We informed the authorities regarding the lapse through a written complaint.”

Joint controller of examinations Varinder Kapoor said, “It’s human to make errors. The moment we got to know about the error, we sent 70 more question papers to the venue. We would inquire into the matter and suitable action would be taken against those responsible. ”



Colleges told not to publish prospectuses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The colleges affiliated to Panjab University (PU)have been asked not to publish their prospectuses for the session 2008-09. The PU vice-chancellor gave this order in the light of pending recommendations by a committee constituted to look into the possibilities of having a uniform fee and fund structure in all colleges affiliated to PU.

The vice-chancellor had constituted the committee in October last year to look into the matter and recommend the revised fee structure. Prior to this, the university used to send fee and fund structure to the colleges till the session 2004-2005. The committee, under the chairmanship of Prof S.K. Kulkarni, DUI, met thrice but was unable to reach any consensus. The committee decided to form a sub-committee to suggest the heads under which the various fee/funds could be collected by the colleges.

The sub-committee met on April 29 and decided to meet again to finally recommend to the main committee. The recommendations of the committee would be sent to the vice-chancellor for his approval.

According to B.D. Budhiraja, dean, College Development Council, PU, the colleges will be informed about the final approval of the vice-chancellor in due course.



Hard time for insurance companies
Simplify hidden conditions: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Cash-rich insurance companies may soon find it tough to get away with mere assurances. Coming down heavily on the companies for dodging the settlement of claims, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked for simplification of hidden conditions.

In a significant judgement that is expected to go a long way in ensuring the payment of insurance claims, Justice Ranjit Singh of the high court has ruled: “In large number of cases, the insurance companies make the affected people fight for getting their genuine claims.”

“The insurance companies in such cases rely upon the clauses of the agreements, which a person is generally made to sign on dotted lines at the time of obtaining policy. This is, thus, pressed into service to either repudiate the claim or to reject the same.”

Justice Ranjit Singh asserted: “There is a need to put a system in place, to ensure that all clauses of the insurance policy are specifically brought to the notice of the persons concerned and they are apprised of all these conditions before they are made to agree to accept such insurance policies”.

Justice Ranjit Singh added: “In fact, all these conditions, which generally are hidden, need to be simplified so that these are easily understood by a person at the time of buying any policy.”

The ruling comes on a petition filed by New India Assurance Company Limited after it was directed to honour medi-claim on the basis of an application filed by widow and children of person insured -Ramesh Chand Yadav.

Taking note of their plight, the Judge ruled: “The children are minor, but respondent-wife would certainly remember the day when the insurance agent would have come to her late husband to persuade him to take a medi-claim so that he is able to look after himself without worrying for finances, if he ever happened to fall sick.

In his detailed order, the Judge ruled: “I wish to express anguish over the method and mode adopted by insurance companies in somehow declining the claim of claimants, be it under such type of policy or other life insurance claims or those arising out of insurance of vehicles etc.”

“It seems that the insurance companies are only interested in earning the premiums, which are rather too stiff now a days, but are not keen and found to be evasive to discharge their liability.”

Referring to the case in hand, Justice Ranjit Singh ruled: It would be seen that in the present case also, some sort of investigations were conducted from a medical officer to know the causes of diseases, which would not be covered by any condition of the policy, which the parties had agreed to at the time of obtaining the policy.

“Even investigations by private detectors are seen ordered in cases of theft of vehicles etc. All these tactics on the part of the insurance companies are only aimed at somehow finding way and means to decline the claims,” he said.

“This leads to an unwarranted and uncalled harassment of those persons, who either have lost their bread earner or some young persons, whose lives etc. are insured with the insurance companies. This situation must change,” he added.



Consumer Courts
2-yr jail for two HUDA top officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has sentenced chief administrator, HUDA, Gurgaon, and estate officer, Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), Gurgaon, to two-year imprisonment for not complying with its orders. The forum has also issued non-bailable warrants against them.

The forum had directed the estate officer, HUDA, to allot an alternative plot in Sector 21, Gurgaon, to the petitioner, Suresh Kumar, along with a compensation of Rs 1,100 as costs of litigation on July 31, last year.

A resident of Delhi, Suresh was allotted a disputed plot by HUDA. He had already deposited the money for the plot but could not take possession of the same because of the dispute.

The forum also asked HUDA to adjust the amount deposited by the petitioner as costs of alternative plot at an interest of 10 per cent per annum.

Thereafter, HUDA appealed in the appellate court without depositing the mandatory amount.

In reply to the allotment of another plot, HUDA had placed on record letter dated October 19, 2006, written to the chief administrator by the estate officer, HUDA, Gurgaon, wherein it is stated that the proposal for allotment of alternative plot in lieu of the plot earlier allotted was in process and an alternative plot would be allotted in two or three months.

The forum held that nine months had elapsed but HUDA had not complied with the orders.

The forum observed: “Keeping in view the facts and circumstances of the case, all opposite parties have been sentenced to imprisonment for two years along with fine of Rs 10,000.”



Ballot box order of the day
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The ballot box overshadowed court work in the Punjab and Haryana High Court today, courtesy the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association elections.

Hundreds of supporters of the contestants gathered outside the voting counters to woo votes towards their candidates. The path leading to the voting counter was flooded with advocates promoting their candidates. The supporters distributed pamphlets to voters.

Some lawyers stood on tables meant to keep crowds at bay near the entrance of the room where the ballot box was kept and distributed pamphlets of their candidates.

The contestants tried to draw attention of voters till the last moment. Beaming with confidence, the contestants said they were hoping for the best.

The voting was kept under strict surveillance of video cameras in order to avoid bogus voting. A video screen was also installed in the bar room of the High Court to help maintain transparency.

The elections went off peacefully and there were no reports of bogus voting.

The voting began at 10 am and ended at 4 pm.



Khosla elected HC Bar chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Rupinder Singh Khosla was elected president of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association, elections to which were held today. Ambika Luthra was elected joint secretary.

The post of vice-president went to Paramjit Singh Khurana. Harkesh Manuja was elected secretary. Ravinder Singh Randhawa bagged the post of treasurer.

Earlier in the day, over 80 per cent polling was reported during the election.

Talking to the TNS, Khosla said: “When I was the secretary of the bar in 1994-95, I had served to the best of my capacity. I will do the same now. Maintaining the dignity of the Bar tops my priority list. I also plan to take up the problems faced by lawyers like poor parking. The working of the Bar will also be streamlined.”



2 councillors move HC for security
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
Two newly elected councillors of Panchkula Municipal Council Subhash Chander Nishad and Sunita Rani1, owing allegiance to Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), today moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for security cover.

The petitioners asked for issuance of directions to appropriate authorities for providing them with necessary security till the president and the vice-president were elected.

The security has been sought by them in view of alleged apprehension of kidnapping by the ruling Congress leadership, which was allegedly mounting pressure on the elected members.

It was allegedly trying to manipulate majority in the new house, the counsel for the petitioners submitted in the court during the preliminary hearing on their petition.

In this context, the petitioners referred to the recent “kidnapping” of newly elected INLD councillor Gautam Prashad, whose wife Kunti Devi had to move the High Court.



Sec 22 shop penalised Rs 5000
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 2
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked the owner of a Sector-22 shop, Electro Pacific, to refund Rs 150 for overcharging a Sector-32 resident and imposed a penalty of Rs 5,000.

The petitioner, J.S. Banga, had purchased a branded data cable from the shop for Rs 250. He stated that the price was written with a marker on the pack of data cable and the MRP was missing from it.

He stated that on enquiring from another shop near the bus stand, he realised that the data cable was being sold at Rs 120 there. Furthermore, Banga also saw that data cable of the same brand was being sold at Rs 100. The petitioner filed a complaint before the forum. The shop owner failed to appear before the forum.

The forum stated that selling of electric goods without MRP was an unfair trade practice. The forum added that they were of the firm opinion that the shop owner must have removed the price tag to cheat innocent customers.



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