C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


IIT-JEE: Abhinav Garg placed third
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Swati Ganeti shows victory sign after she topped the IIT entrance examination- 2008.Varun Singla, who stood second in the exam being congratulated by director of Lakshya Institute in Patiala on Friday.
TOP SLOT: Swati Ganeti shows victory sign after she topped the IIT entrance examination- 2008; and (right) Varun Singla, who stood second in the exam being congratulated by director of Lakshya Institute in Patiala on Friday. Tribune photos by Rajesh Sachar

Chandigarh, May 30
Around 90 students have managed to get through the IIT-JEE. A total of 9,000 candidates had appeared for the test in the city and the three toppers are from the city.

Abhinav Garg secured the third position in the all-India ranking. Abhinav, who was in Delhi in connection with the international maths olympiad to be held in Spain, was not available for comments. “It is unbelievable, but he was focussed” his family said.

Archit Gupta came next on the merit list, clinching the fourth place in the all-India ranking and the second place in Chandigarh. “I never expected it. I thought I would make it near the 400th rank,” he said. He had scored 86.6 per cent in Class XII examinations. A positive attitude, relaxed preparation, regular hardwork and determination worked for him. “Coaching institutions also help prepare for competitive examinations because you need a planned input instead of a broad outlook,” he said.

Ish Dhand stood third in the city and got the 22nd rank. “Self study and attentiveness are enough to make a mark for yourself. Coaching at various institutes brings a lot of stress and leads to wastage of time, energy and money,” he said.

“Stay disciplined, but keep an mind open. I never restricted myself to the prescribed syllabus and kept reading general books on physics. Stick to the basics,” he added.

Some of the other successful candidates are Anupam Dev Goel (26th rank), Nitin Aggarwal (46), Vishu Mahajan (71), Rajat Gupta (75), Saurav Mahajan (90), Aseem Garg (112), Sahil Singla (123) and Anant Vidur Puri (210).



World No Smoking Day
Hooked to hookah
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh , May 30
While the world is observing World No Tobacco Day, hookah remains an inextricable part of Haryanvi culture.

VVIPs visiting the state are honoured with a hookah. Sonepat residents presented a hookah to Congress president Sonia Gandhi during her road show in 2004 for the Lok Sabha elections. The Haryana CM, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, accepts hookahs during his visits to various parts of the state.

It is another matter that while receiving a hookah, if the CM mentions the ill-effects of tobacco consumption, it could improve the life of residents of the state, where more than 90 per cent of men in some areas like Rohtak are at a risk of lung and mouth cancer due to smoking.

Panchayats usually socially boycotts offenders by pronouncing the punishment, “hookah-pani band”.

“The side-effects of tobacco are reduced because it gets diluted in water before the smoke is inhaled,” Mam Raj, an octogenarian at Salola near Shazadpur in Ambala district, says. “My father and grandfather enjoyed a long life and they smoked hookah,” he adds.

Madan Lal, a resident of nearby Kanjala village, says, “I used to fill the ‘chilum’ of a hookah for my father who used to sit for hours in the ‘baithak’ and now my son does the same for me.” Meanwhile, babus born and brought up on hookah culture and settled in the city beautiful have never taken the ban on smoking very well.

Enter the 30 bays building housing Haryana education departments or the state secretariat in Sector 17 and most employees will be seen smoking even as they work.



It is No Smoking Day today

Introducing telephone helpline for habitual smokers is another step being taken by the Chandigarh administration to observe “World No Tobacco Day” tomorrow, almost a year after the city was declared the first “smoke-free” city in the country.

Giving details, Dr Savita Malhotra, head of the department of psychiatry at the PGI, said: “If a person wants to quit smoking, they can easily seek professional help of a counsellor on helpline. Tele-counselling can help curb the urge and create an aversion to smoking,” she added.

Health secretary Sanjay Kumar, also chairperson of the tobacco control cell, said the toll-free number would help those who did not want to disclose their identity but wanted to take help of experts.

Meanwhile, the tobacco control cell that was set up by the administration to check smoking at public place today launched a week-long campaign to commemorate the “World No Tobacco Day” under which a series of awareness programmes in the form of street plays are planned, depicting the ill-effects of tobacco.

With tobacco use among men and women widespread across India and all sections of society, data available till 2004 indicates that there are around 240 million tobacco users aged 15 years and above.

In fact, overall tobacco use increases towards the centre, the North and East of the country.

In Haryana, the prevalence of smoking among males is around 40 per cent and chewing tobacco is 8 per cent whereas corresponding figures for Punjab are 14 per cent and 9 per cent, respectively.

It has been estimated that 55.8 per cent males in the age range of 12-60 years currently use tobacco.

Among men, the prevalence of smoking and the use of smokeless tobacco are roughly similar.

Among women, smoking is low in most areas due to social unacceptability, but is somewhat common in parts of the North, East, North-East and Andhra Pradesh.

Overall, 2.4 per cent women smoke and 12 per cent chew tobacco. Tobacco use is higher among older age groups compared to the younger age groups.

Dr Malhotra said: “The tobacco cessation clinic receives around 600 cases from the region every year, out of which a little over 10 per cent are adolescents between the age of 15 and 20 years.”

The rising trend of cases coming within this age group is worrying doctors. Earlier, cases from people aged 20 years or more are reported, but now 15 years old are being treated at the clinic, said doctor at PGI.

Nonetheless, it is estimated that two in every 10 boys and one in every 10 girls use a tobacco product and initiation to tobacco products before the age of 10 years is increasing, as per the national data. Current non-cigarette tobacco use (13.6 per cent) is three times more common than current cigarette smoking (4.2 per cent) among the young.

In spite of above health hazards, tobacco users are unable to give it up. As little as 3 per cent of those who try to quit, succeed in abstaining for as long as a year, using willpower alone. On the other hand around 30-40 per cent of those who embark on a course of treatment succeed in quitting or reducing consumption significantly.

While students are more inclined towards cigarette smoking, bidi smoking is no less common with 12.5 per cent students in India smoking it. In Himachal belt, 2.4 per cent women smoke on a daily basis and 12 per cent used tobacco frequently.

Other forms of tobacco consumption, including pan masala, zarda and khaini, can cause cancer not just of the respiratory tract such as mouth, pharynx, larynx, trachea and lungs but also oesophagus, stomach and other vital organs of the body. “However, as compared to Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the number of people taking pan masala, zarda and khaini in this region is small,” said Dr Mattu. Various treatment modalities are available to help patients quit the use of tobacco . This includes psychological therapies like self-help tips, behavioral counselling, brief interventions and cognitive behavioural therapies. Medication can be used to relieve withdrawal symptoms in tobacco users when trying to quit.

Police drive up in smoke

The initial euphoria of making the Chandigarh “smoke-free” seems to have died down as the number of challans issued to offenders has gone down by around one-third as compared to the figures of last year.

The UT police challaned 1,255 under the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Distribution) Act-2003 in 10 months last year, while the figure has dropped to around 200 challaned so far this year.

Earlier, the police used to take no time in issuing challans to offenders. However, the drive has fizzled out now, with the police not even bothering to warn those having a puff at a public place.

City residents too feel that smoking at public place is no longer a hassle for the police. The police often ignores those smoking at public place.

Rattan Kapoor, a resident of Sector 21, said: “Smoking seems to be no longer an offence any more. People are seen smoking freely, something that was earlier dealt with sternly by the police.”

Aman Behl, a Sector-11 resident, asserted: “I used to travel miles to find a safe place to smoke but now I feel safe to smoke anywhere at will. Even the police does not object to smoking in Sector 17.”

Quoting from the figures available, police stations like Sector 36, 39 and Industrial Area have not even challaned even a single person in the past five months.

Book on how to be a quitter

According to figures available, around 10-15 per cent girls and 20 per cent boys smoke in the city, says a study conducted years ago. Now the number has gone up. Doctors point out two major factors for this: peer pressure and role models like actors.

“Seeing movies and their favourite actors puffing away on screen, youngsters are getting hooked to smoking,” says Dr S.K. Jindal, head, pulmonary medicine, PGI.

While people in the USA and Britain are giving up smoking, in India 3,000 persons die every day because of it.

Out of the total 17 lakh cancer cases in the country, 8 lakh are due to use of tobacco.

Kicking the butt

  • One can get rid of smoking provided one is determined to do so
  • Set a quit date — prefer any auspicious day
  • Remove all articles that may remind you of cigarette
  • Best to opt for a “cold turkey” fashion — a total quit in one attempt. Slow reduction is not a very successful
  • Take the help of counsellor

(Courtesy “Quit Smoking Why and How” by Prof S.K. Jindal)

Smouldering facts

  • India is the third largest producer of tobacco in the world
  • One-third of global deaths due to tobacco occur in India
  • One million people die from tobacco-related diseases
  • Of all tobacco-related cancers, 75 per cent are found in oral cavity, pharynx and larynx, while 15 per cent are found in lungs
  • Daily, over 55,000 children below 15 years of age are first-time users of tobacco in India
  • One cigarette takes away 5.8 minutes of one’s life

Passive Smoking

According to doctors, kids exposed to passive smoking are at increased risk of catching infectious diseases. Children exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke increase their likelihood of developing a range of infectious illnesses, not just respiratory illness. Also, a prolonged exposure of a non-smoker to smoking by others can also cause problems like cough and precipitation of an acute attack in an asthmatic individual, warn doctors.


  • Tobacco users have increased in age group of less than 15 years
  • Success rate is very poor, as only 20 per cent quit smoking
  • Women in rural area are more used the tobacco
  • Non-cigarette tobacco use (13.6 per cent) is three times more common than cigarette smoking (4.2 per cent) among the young

(Inputs from Anuja Jaiswal and Mandeep Puri)



CBI arrests SDO, JE on graft charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The CBI arrested A.K. Dadwal, SDO (electrical), Gyan Chand, a JE, and Ramesh Chand from the office of the MC on the charges of taking bribe from a contractor here this evening.

The CBI caught Gyan Chand and Ramesh Chand while allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 30,000 from Tarlochan Singh, the complainant.

Tarlochan Singh, a contractor, recently undertook the installation of streetlights in Sectors 37, 38 and 42. Sources said the duo took the money from the complainant on behalf of Dadwal. Dadwal claimed that he was innocent and that he had been implicated in a false case.



Whistleblower victim of sabotage?
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

SDO A.K. Dadwal (left) with CBI officials in Chandigarh on Friday.
SDO A.K. Dadwal (left) with CBI officials in Chandigarh on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, May 30
With the arrest of SDO A.K. Dadwal, prime witness in the infamous engineering department kickback case, by the CBI here, the investigating agency today turned the heat on the whistleblower.

However, the timing of arrest of the official, credited with exposing irregularities in the engineering wings of the MC and the UT, has raised several questions about the intention of the vested interest in getting the case sabotaged at a crucial stage.

In the backdrop of rumours over the past few days that Dadwal, who is also a witness in the vigilance probe against former UT chief engineer K.K. Jerath, may be framed by the CBI, the allegations of vested interest trying to weaken the cases seems to carry much credibility.

Recently, Dadwal had deposed against accused in the engineering department kickback case, including former SE K.B. Sharma, XEN Harsh Kumar and SDO Gurpreet Singh and three middlemen. He had also been deposing against Jerath in one of the cases against him.

Sources said while the top brass of the administration wanted the Jerath and Sharma cases — that brought much embarrassment to administration — to reach its logical conclusion, technocrat-politician nexus was allegedly trying to derail the cases by “intimidating” whistleblowers like Dadwal.

And the vested interest was using investigating agencies like the CBI and the vigilance to nail upright officials.

When contacted, additional CBI SP Mahesh Aggarwal claimed that the agency’s case against Dadwal and others was “quite clear” and there was no question of any pressure from any quarters.

It is not the first time that an “upright” official had been trapped by the investigating agency.

Recently, K.S. Sharma, an official of the food and supplies department, was trapped by the vigilance.

The arrest of Sharma was condemned by a cross-section of society and a large number of people had rallied around Sharma in the district courts vouching for his innocence.



Undertake integrated nutrient management, farmers told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Young Indians (Yi), an arm of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), brought together “AGROMAX 2008”, a conference focussed on the need to make balanced nutrition a national imperative to solve the country’s food crisis and poor agricultural productivity.

The conference engaged young Indian farmers from seven states of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir — all part of the CII-Yi-Aries Agro Limited National farmers Network.

The conference highlighted diverse and thought-provoking techno-commercial issues through speakers and participation that will define the role that the crop nutrition industry can play in maximising agricultural productivity.

Dr D.K. Das, an expert in chelated micronutrients from Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya, said the challenge of increasing agricultural productivity from their current dismal levels in a cost-effective and environmentally safe manner required that farmers selected the global best practices in nutrient supplementation.

“These chelates reduce the amount of fertilizers being applied to the soil by around 80 per cent, reduce cost of application and show yield increases of 25 to 30 per cent, on average”, he added.

Dr M.S. Kang, vice chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University, said the primary cause of problem of imbalanced nutrition was the “rampant overuse of major fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) along with a corresponding under use of secondary (calcium, magnesium and sulphur) and micronutrients (zinc, iron, manganese, boron, molybdenum, copper)”.

He urged farmers to undertake integrated nutrient management as part of their crop management practices.

Two panel discussions were held during the conference. Progressive farmers from Punjab and Haryana shared personal experiences on how the economics of their farming activities had been enhanced by using right quantities of plant nutrients at the appropriate time.

The conference was instrumental in also bringing together thought leaders from the agribusiness industry, agronomists from global fertilizer companies, agribusiness students, government officials and key scientists from across India, among others.

Over 200 members of the CII-Yi-Aries Agro Limited Young Indian Framers Network were in attendance at this flagship knowledge dissemination programme.



Heated arguments mark MC meeting
Proposal on new contract for sanitation work discussed
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 30
Opposition councillors launched an attack against the president of the municipal council over the failure of the civic body to tackle issues relating to sanitation, tehbazari, stray cattle at a meeting held here today.

Heated arguments were witnessed between opposition councillors and council chief Rajinder Singh Rana. Councillors objected to the pick and choose policy adopted by council employees while removing illegally parked rehris as well as fruit stalls on roadsides. Mohanbir Singh Shergill said when he intervened to ask a tehbazari clerk why a biased approach was being adopted while removing encroachments, the clerk failed to pay any heed.

Amrik Singh alleged that a tehbazari clerk had taken Rs 3,000 from a kiosk owner, but failed to give any receipt. The president asked the councillor to give the complaint in writing. It was also pointed out that fruit sellers were illegally using roadsides for sale of fruit but the civic body failed to remove them.

Baljit Kaur said she had been bringing the problem of stray cattle in her ward to the notice of the council authorities, but nothing was done to tackle it. She said she would have to stage a dharna if no action was taken.

When the proposal relating to a new contract for sanitation work came up for discussion, Kharar MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu, who is an ex-officio member of the civic body, said a committee comprising three councillors from the ruling group and two from opposition, be constituted to work out the new terms and conditions so that state of sanitation could be improved in the town.

Harpal Singh questioned the president as to why the civic body had failed to provide sewerage connections in Matour village despite repeated requests. He said the work was pending for the past six months and people were facing problems.

The MLA and president said various development works in the town suffered due to the alleged interference of the cooperation minister. Estimates for development works worth crores of rupees were stayed by the department of local government. The charge, however, was refuted by Harmanpreet Singh, who said the president was allegedly shirking responsibility by passing the blame to the minister.

The newly installed mike system in the meeting hall of the civic body failed to work properly leading to a lot of confusion.



Haryanvi saang fest a draw
S.D. Sharma

Panchkula, May 30
The week-long Haryanvi Saang Festival being organised by the department of public relations and culture affairs and NZCCC at the Indradhanush auditorium proved to be a big draw on the second day today.

After the usual delayed start, saang director Sheonath Tyagi started the saang 'Jaimal-Fatte' with an invocatory bhajan recital. Structured in the royal Rajput dynasty rule of Raja Sawai Singh of Jodhpur, the saang progressed to reveal the dispute between royal cousins Jaimal and Fatte with regard to the precious articles which they had jointly won in the war of Kabul-Kandhar.

The popular saang sculpted by legendary folk playwright Pandit Mange Ram covered many fictional episodes of romance without any historical authenticity.

As many as six suitably attired male artistes, playing female roles, enraptured the crowd with dance spells interspersed with mimicry in the crude rustic form.

As per the practice, the narrator director normally plays the lead role irrespective of his age or personality. Forty-two-years old Sheonath Tyagi played Jaimal while 22-years-old Joginder played his mother Rani Baha Kaur. Sanjay, Vinod, Raju, Sonu, Sant Ram and Mukesh played major roles. The folk music repertoire augmented the performance.

Earlier, chief guest Captain Ajay Singh, irrigation minister, Haryana, lighted the traditional lamp. Director public relations K.K. Khandelwal, along with Pardeep Kasni and B.S. Ballara, welcomed the chief guest. Parbhat Singh, editor, Bhaskar, and Ram Dev Bhatti were the guests of honour.



Marla Houses
Panel allows changes in building bylaws
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Applying a uniform yardstick, a committee of building bylaws has recommended that houses governed by frame control be allowed additional room of up to 150 sq yrd in the rear courtyard, subject to payment of certain amount of composition fee.

There are several houses (governed by frame control) in old sectors wherein no room is allowed in the rear courtyard. Currently, a room in the rear courtyard of marla and one-kanal houses is allowed.

Similar relief has also been recommended in houses above one kanal. The height of the additional room will be 9 ft.

An effort has been made to bring parity in the phase I and phase II sectors.

However, the committee has not recommended relaxing the Rule 20 that could have allowed more covered area in the rear courtyard.

Earlier, it had been proposed that a 10-foot-wide room be allowed after leaving a gap of 7 ft from the covered area.

The Chandigarh Marls/Flats Houses Residents Welfare Association has been demanding deletion of Rule 20.

Sources said the committee was in favour of balcony in the front and rear after leaving a gap of 3 ft on both sides.

The norm of 10 per cent natural light for the basement has been relaxed to four per cent.

“This relaxation is not acceptable to us”, said Surinder Pal Chauhan, president of the Marla Houses Welfare Association.

The recommendations will come into force once approved by the administrator.

After six years, the Chandigarh administration is going for major changes in the archaic building bylaws governing commercial, institutional and residential buildings across the city.

With focus on need-based changes, amendments to rules are being made keeping in mind the futuristic growth of the city.

A committee, comprising officials of the engineering department, urban planning, estate office and other experts, is holding meetings on the subject.



Pilot’s Murder
Father alleges bias in probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Expressing apprehension over the direction of the investigation by local agencies being influenced in the case of the death of Flt Lt Anubhav Rao, his father Prof Ram Kumar has sought that the matter be handed over to a central agency to ensure fairness and impartiality.

“We have sent a representation to the President in this regard, along with copies to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Defence Minister and the Supreme Court,” Professor Kumar told mediapersons here today. “We have also raised the issue with the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh as well as the state’s director-general of police,” he added.

A fighter pilot, Flt Lt Rao was reportedly killed in a road rage incident near Kasauli on April 11. According to reports, he was allegedly stabbed by a local lawyer, H D Tanwar, who was later arrested by the police. The pilot had died from profuse bleeding while being taken to Command Hospital, Chandimandir.

Professor Rao claimed that that though the local police was investigating the incident, the direction of the investigation seemed to have been influenced because as per witnesses, Ahubhav was stabbed by a knife, whereas the accused had surrendered a simple screwdriver, the size of which did not tally with the injury on the body of the deceased.

He alleged that the local bar was in favour of the accused and none of the lawyers was ready to take up the case against their colleague. Tanwar had moved a bail application and his case was scheduled to come up for hearing at the Sessions Court in Solan tomorrow.



Out on bail, man dies in accident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Rakesh Sexena (30) succumbed to his injuries after he jumped from a wall of MLA hostel, Sector 3 here this morning. An iron rod holding the fencing reportedly pierced his stomach.

Sexena, a postgraduate, was a drug addict and was arrested for stealing a Kinetic Honda’s battery from Sector 20 on May 27. Though he was bailed out yesterday, he was admitted to Government Hospital, Sector 16, following a head injury, which he received after fainting in the police custody.

He escaped from the hospital last night and was reportedly under the influence of drugs. He slipped while trying to jump off the wall of the hostel and died on the spot.

Father of the deceased N.K. Sexena told The Tribune that his son tried to escape from the hospital even in the evening, but did not succeed due to his presence. The father bolted the door of the ward from outside, but he managed to flee from the window of the toilet.

“On finding his bed vacant, I immediately informed the authorities and kept looking for him till 3 am. The unfortunate news from the police at about 9 am came as a shock to me,” lamented his father.

Sexena did a diploma in marketing and worked for about one and half year as a marketing executive in a local newspaper. N.K. Sexena works as a fertiliser officer in Punjab. His younger son, who is also a drug addict, is missing since four years and the family is not sure if he is still alive.



Saheli Angan opens centre for adolescent girls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Saheli Angan, a centre for adolescent girls, inaugurated its centre at Dadu Majra colony. The centre is managed by the Society for Social Health (SOFOSH), Chandigarh. While inaugurating the center, Former city mayor and Chandigarh social welfare board chairperson, Lalit Joshi said, "At Saheli Aangan we aim at strengthening the self confidence in girls by training them to be self independent in their lives."

Saheli Angan offers several short-term courses in toy making, stitching, embroidery, cooking and beauty courses. Also, regular counselling sessions on several adolescence related problems like depression, stress and sexual reproductive health are held on a regular basis. Preeti, a Class IX student said, "Coming here has been very helpful. With some talent, we feel more capable and definitely happier."

More than 70 girls have already been enrolled with the centre. The girls and their parents enthusiastically participated in the function. Also as a part of commemoration of 'World No Tobacco day', Arjun Kamboj, director of Jan Shikshan Sansthan, Chandigarh, addressed the function educating the participants about the physical, psychological and financial hazards of tobacco in any form. In the end an awareness rally was arranged and other social issues were resolved. The chief guest flagged of the rally.



Now, school bus operators approach admn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
A recommendation of the UT secretary transport to allow extension to CTU busses that are not roadworthy has opened a Pandora’s box for the Chandigarh administration.

After the claim of the CTU that their 1999-model buses, in spite of having completed eight years of run or 5 lakh km, were roadworthy, the Chandigarh School Bus Operators Welfare Association has approached UT administrator S.F. Rodrigues seeking extension in the life span fixed by the administration for school buses.

It claimed that the court had not fixed the age or life span of vehicles of 15 years and the state transport authority was not clear on the matter.

In Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, buses are auctioned on the completion of 7 lakh km, whereas school buses do not even cover more than 2.5 lakh km in their span of 15 years. Besides, state transport buses cover up to 600 km daily and on the contrary, school buses do much less mileage.

Though the yardstick for the state transport undertaking and private school bus operators are different, the administration can certainly review the matter as in case of the CTU buses, it added.

“If CTU buses after running for eight years can be roadworthy, why can’t school buses be roadworthy as they are better looked after by operators”, said a private school bus operator.



Free cardiac check-up camp
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The rising rate of cardiac patients in India calls for urgent attention. According to the World Heath Organisation report there are at least 9,50,000 people in India who die of heart diseases and strokes every year. However, only 15,000 people had been operated for such diseases in the country last year.

Measuring the gravity of the situation, Max Deviki Devi Heart and Vascular Institute today organised a free cardiac check up camp in Chandigarh. Dr Inderjit S. Virdi, senior consultant and chief of cardiothoracic and vascular surgery (CTVS), and Dr Smita Mishra, consultant, paediatric cardiology, from the hospital were present here to provide free consultation to patients. Various tests like ECG, Echo and blood sugar random were conducted free of cost for the people of the city.

According to Dr Virdi, “The staggering number of patients who suffered from heart diseases is increasing at an alarming rate, but the biggest worry is that there are many, who due to lack of funds, could not go through the treatment.”

He further added that, “Need for increasing specialised services and the training of next generation surgeons is of paramount importance.” The magnitude of the problem is severe in India as compared to its western counterparts because the number of youngsters suffering from cardiac problems is much higher here, Dr Virdi noted.

Whether it is food habits, lifestyle or genetic making, the bottom line is that the problem is acute.



Allotment of Booths
Shopkeepers seek govt’s help
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 30
Shopkeepers of Janta Market in Phase III-B 1 have appealed to the Punjab Government to intervene so that justice, which was allegedly being denied by officials of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) while making allotment of pucca booths, is done.

President of the market Devinder Singh said the market had got reduced to ashes by a fire that broke out on June 1 last year. He added that GMADA was to hold a draw of lots for 378 booths on June 15 which was postponed because of the fire. Later, the shopkeepers under the leadership of cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh met Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who directed GMADA officials to hold a draw of lots for all 378 booths. In spite of this, GMADA authorities were allegedly not allotting booths to 56 shopkeepers even when they had the required proof.



Fire dept inspects restaurants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The fire department of the municipal corporation today carried out an inspection and awareness drive regarding fire safety norms in restaurants and discotheques of the city.

A team of fire department officials, along with chairman of the fire and emergency services committee M.P.S. Chawla, conducted inspection of fire safety systems installed in various restaurants, including Swagat, Noddle Bar, Aerrizzona, and in the old books market in Sector 15.

The team also issued notices after finding sprinklers and water hose missing from the premises.

Also, the team found out that while fire safety equipment was installed, the staff had no knowledge of operating it, putting the lives of the visitors at risk.

Meanwhile, the fire department also gave training to the staff of TD Mall and Hotel Shivalikview.



GPA transfer: Extension deadline sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
A delegation of the local unit of the BJP, Chandigarh, led by its president Kamla Sharma, today met the chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) and presented him a memorandum demanding the extension of June 4 deadline for the GPA transfer policy.

According to a press note, the delegation also demanded that the need-based changes carried out by the people in their houses should be regularised and the notices issued in the connection be withdrawn.

The delegation also demanded that a new comprehensive housing scheme be formulated for the middle-class people.



Scrap Electricity Act-2003

The Union government under NDA regime has passed the Electricity Act-2003, under which all states were asked to dismantle the existing electricity boards and accordingly, some of the states like Orissa, Haryana, Rajasthan etc have corporatised the State Electricity Boards.

Several state governments, including, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Chhatisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand have been demanding relief from dismantling the SEBs as the functioning of these boards is much better than other SEBs where dismantling has been done.

Under these extenuating circumstances, it is proved that the state governments are not ready to implement this act, which is detrimental to the interests of the country.

Since power is in the concurrent list, the decision should be left to the states to prepare the roadmap for power sector reforms and instead of dismantling, the working of SEBs should be improved.

S.K. Khosla, Chandigarh

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Prospectus rates exorbitant: Students
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
University education is going out of reach of the common student. With each passing year, leave aside tuition fee, even the cost of prospectuses is mounting out of proportions.

Sample this: Panjab Univeristy’s prospectus for B.Ed correspondence course in 2007 was priced at Rs 700 for general category and for SC/ST candidates, it was nearly Rs 350.

This year, the same prospectus is priced at Rs 1,100 for general category students and nearly Rs 550 for SC/ST candidates.

Similarly, prospectus for admission to MPhil/PhD courses, which came for Rs 1,000 in 2007 for general category and Rs 500 for SC/ST category, is costing Rs 1,500 this year for general category and Rs 750 for SC/ST category students.

Similarly, there has been an increase in the prices of prospectuses for other courses such as BA, LLB (hons), MBA (biotechnology), which till last year were priced at Rs 1,300 for general category and Rs 650 for SC/ST candidates and Rs 1,100 for general students and Rs 550 for SC/ST candidates, respectively.

Moreover, for OCET prospectus, a student had to shell out Rs 1,500 despite the fact that the university announced to lower the price by Rs 200 as there was no provision to return the money to those who purchased it during the first three days of the sale.

Owing to such high pricing of prospectuses of various courses, there is a great resentment among the students, who see it as big deterrent in their academic careers.

“The university is fleecing us and taking higher education out of our reach. Let alone seek admission, we cannot even apply to all courses of our choice since the rates of the prospectus are exorbitant,” says Priya, a graduate.

“Since we are not aware of all the options that are available, we need to go through the booklets to know the plus points of any course. But the sky-high prospectus prices limit our choice when it comes to filling up the forms,” says Rohan, another student.

When contacted, Prof S.S. Bari said, “All prices are estimated by the publication department. Moreover, the increase is due to the hike in the cost of printing material. Also, this time the university has not hiked the tuition fee at all.”



Deemed Varsity Status
GMCH in no mood to give up
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, has not lost the hope of becoming a deemed university, even as the ministry of family health and welfare has turned down the proposal on two earlier occasions.

Now, with a view to making selection process quicker, the Chandigarh administration has sent a representation again to the central government to set the ball rolling for the grant of deemed university status to the college.

Currently, the GMCH has to depend on the ministry for creation of posts. A doctor cannot even be appointed directly.

GMCH director-principal Dr Raj Bhadur told Chandigarh Tribune that due to dependence, cases had been pending since 2003. “Around 100 posts are waiting to be filled and we are just waiting for approval from the centre,” he added.

However, once the GMCH gets deemed university status, it will be free to make decisions on its own.

It will have its own board of directors regulated by the UGC Act. GMCH authorities will be able to appoint doctors according to the prescribed rules of the Union Public Service Commission directly.

They will also get relief fund to run the institute directly from the HRD ministry.

Enquiries revealed that the administration had sent a reminder last year, too, seeking sanction of deemed university status to the GMCH on the pattern of Punjab Engineering College.

However, without paying heed to the proposal, the union HRD ministry asked it to think it over again.

A GMCH-32 professor said: “A deemed university is granted autonomy and it has to abide by UGC norms.

There are numerous criteria that have to be met, including the induction of students on an all-India basis.” However, the GMCH-32 is not on a par with other deemed universities.



City Concerns
Central University Status for Panjab University

Panjab University teachers, under the banner of PUTA, are on a relay strike demanding Central University Status for the premier institution.

They claim the status of a Central University will automatically draw in critical improvement and enhancement to the availability of finances both for research as well as for teaching and learning.

They point out that the 'status' will also allow the institution to take added advantage of the experience and skills of its faculty whose age of superannuation would be raised from the present 60 to 65 years. This would be in addition to other substantial benefits for the teaching, research and related faculties.

Curiously though, the Punjab Government continues resisting Panjab University's move to a central status. No one wants to be quoted on this, but the real reasons for the opposition appear to be political rather than academic.

The Tribune had invited views from its readers on the subject and the response has been overwhelming. While most of the readers, not surprisingly from the teaching community, are of the view that such a status will turn things around at university, there are few who think that it’ll benefit only the teachers and not the students.

This is the last lot of letters from readers on the issue.

Only way to overcome financial crunch

In the entire north-west region comprising J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab, Chandigarh is the most important city and PU the best performing institution. I, therefore, feel that PU has the right to be accorded central university status. It will help the university to come out of the present financial crunch and also help teachers and students in achieving academic excellence with greater research facilities at disposal.

The students too will have better job prospects as a degree from a central university carries more weight.

The PU fraternity has adopted a very noble way of protest.

While on protest, the university work has not suffered. When bank/railways employees go on strike paralyzing public system, the government yields to their demands.

The staff and students of PU have been protesting peacefully for more than six weeks now, but it does not seem to bother the government.

Prof A.K. Agarwal, PU, Chandigarh

Central status must to strengthen research

PU is no exception to the increasing trend among universities to spend an overwhelming part of its budget on salaries rather than academic and relevant activity. The Plan expenditure for strengthening PU’s academic and research compares poorly against the Non-Plan expenditure on salaries, pensions, fuel charges, electricity charges etc.

According central university status to PU will mean substantial additional funds with 25 per cent of its recurring budget for promoting academic and research activities; improving the quality of teaching and research;better use of PU infrastructure and increase in retirement age of the faculty to 65.

The fee charged from students will also be less. Enhanced monthly stipend will be awarded to research scholars.

Prof R.K. Singla, PU, Chandigarh

No way to treat fourth oldest varsity

The fourth oldest university struggling for funds, being torn between stake-holders and tossed around by callous politicians and directionless babus in the HRD, as PU faculty, students and millions of alumni watch helplessly is ,indeed, a sad story.

One often hears that PU has barely a few months’ salary to pay to its faculty and is in no position to recruit fresh staff or refurbish its buildings. Had central status been accorded to the university, it would have got ample money in the Eleventh Plan. That the government is refusing 100 per cent funding to the university is atrocious.

That the central government with Dr Manmohan Singh as its head needs approval of the state government is also a joke.

That the BJP accepts the "political issue" excuse of the Punjab Government is sheer hypocrisy.

Prof Arun D. Ahluwalia, Chandigarh

Why dissociate from Punjab?

PU was created in lieu of Panjab University at Lahore. Most people associated with it are from Punjab. It functioned smoothly during the leadership of Dr Suraj Bhan, Dr R.C. Paul and Dr Kapoor. It is still one of the best six universities in India.

Instead of fighting for central university status, we must work hard to improve its standards and insist on more aid from the state government rather than be dissociated from it.

Most educational institutions in Punjab are affiliated to the university. Punjabiat is part of Panjab University, please.

Dr Vijay Sharma, PU, Chandigarh

More funds only way out

I have had an opportunity to look at the budgets of various prominent institutes of Chandigarh in connection with a research project. At present Plan budget of PU is 13 per cent of the total budget whereas that of the PGI and IMTECH is 200 per cent and 300 per cent, respectively.

The reason is simple. Both the PGI and IMTECH are centrally funded and flushed with funds.

The minister of HRD in the previous government upgraded Allahabad University to central university. Within five years the budget increased by more than 500 per cent.

Moreover, when the Punjab Government refuses to honour its contribution to PU budget, the university has little option but to knock at the door of the Union Government.

Panjab government at the moment contributes less than 20 to the budget deficit of PU but can veto any of its decisions. No policy in PU can be implemented without the concurrence of Punjab Government. This is an impediment to its securing central status. Here lies the root of all trouble. Once PU is declared a central university, it will get a fresh lease of life.

A.S. Maharaj, Chandigarh

Upgradation will benefit students

It came to me as a shock to learn that PU is not a central university. As a local student set to enter the realm of higher education, Panjab University remains my choice, but if it does not have funds and a sound future, I shall think of other options.

I have read reports that the centre has expressed its willingness to elevate PU to central university; it only requires a nod from Punjab. I am sure if PU is made central university, it will be able to compete with universities like JNU. Central universities charge less fee and hotel expenses are fairly subsidised.

Nafeesa DAV-15, Chandigarh

PU requirements have grown

Panjab University is a mother institution not only for Punjab, but the whole of North India. It has a long and glorious history with its alumni winning accolades all over the globe. Esteemed personalities, including Dr Manmohan Singh, Nobel laureate Hargobind Khurana, I.K.Gujral and Sushma Swaraj are among its alumni.

With time, the university has grown. The requirements of the university have increased proportionately but funding remains static. PU needs to be supported and its glorious past protected. Established in 1882 in Lahore (now Pakistan), its one of the oldest universities in the country.

It is imperative that it should be included among 'Institutes of national importance' under the Seventh Schedule and granted central university status like Banaras Hindu University (1916) and Delhi University (1921).

Dr Preet Paul Singh, AIIMS, New Delhi

It deserves higher status

One cannot imagine PU not being given national status after being in existence for more than 120 years and serving the country. The university has been an education hub before and after Partition. Started in Lahore and then catering to all northern states itself speaks of its national role. When a university has colleges affiliated across six states, national status becomes a must.

Navneet Singh, Chandigarh

Varsity decline certain sans funds

PU is one of the oldest institutions which has produced renowned scholars. But lately due to shortage of funds or lack of interest on the part of the Punjab Government, the university is in a state of neglect. It is losing sheen by the day. It is high time that central status be given to PU to save it from further decline.

Meenakshi Gaur, Chandigarh

Funds needed to back R&D work

If one looks at the glorious past of PU and its contribution at the national and world level, it becomes an absolute must that the university be accorded central university status. This will ensure more funds and support from the national resource bank.

The university is in need of funds to support the R&D work that is so important to building a modern India. When everywhere else in the world supporting R&D is the biggest agenda for a successful tomorrow, it is a shame that in India (Which claims to have one of the best education systems in the world), a prestigious university like PU is being left to die a slow death.

I believe that such alma mater should not be seen as an instrument to achieving political goals but as a national resource directed towards betterment of national goals.

Manoj Vashisht, Chandigarh

Need for greater statesmanship

The Punjab Government claims that as Chandigarh belongs to Punjab, so does PU. Politically, this seems justified. But why does Punjab want to deprive PU of the flow of funds from the centre for its development? Punjab government does not realise that it is committing a blunder. The government should show greater statesmanship. Not letting PU get upgradation means depriving students of quality education within reasonable cost.

Manjit Singh, PU, Chandigarh

Time ripe for upgradation

Since central to the growth of any university is the quality of its faculty, central status to Panjab University will not only ensure that it retains its eminent faculty, but will also attract the best from outside.

More students will be attracted to it and it will assume a wider all-India character. It will also attract a larger number of students from other countries. This would promote knowledge of various cultures, the hallmark of any university.

Panjab University, if accorded the insignia of a central university, will be a more effective player in the world of academics. It already has a record of consistent growth during the last 126 years and its recent innovative initiatives are commendable.

The university is ripe for upgraded status. The expected liberal flow of funds that ensue will enable PU to actualise its potential to the full which remains constrained at present due to the persistent resource crunch.

Finally, the faculty and students will be obliged to make the university a world-class institution. Punjab has already gone global, with its diaspora scattered all over. Now it is incumbent upon the Government of Punjab to facilitate university to go global through central university status. This will be a win-win situation for both the state and the university.

Gopal Krishan, Professor Emeritus, PU

PU getting too expensive

I have come from Bihar to settle in Chandigarh in the hope that my only son will have good education in the city’s reputed Panjab University. But this may remain a dream with the university charging heavy tuition fee. I am aware that tuition and admission fee in central universities is affordable. I know of a large number of students from Bihar studying in JNU, many with poor economic background. I appeal to all concerned that PU be made a central university like JNU so that bright students from humble background are not deprived of the opportunity to quality education.

S.S. Malih, Chandigarh

Can’t bank on past glory alone

With a large number of new central universities, IIMs, IITs, and IIITs dotting the country where facilities and working conditions are far better than in Punjab, braindrain has already set in. One wonders for how long will PU bask under the shadow of its past glory. Greater academic autonomy, supported with liberal funds, will attract the best brains.

In central universities Rs 5000 per month is given to every Ph.D. student and Rs 3000 to every M.Phil. student. As a result, enrolment of research students in these universities has gone up drastically. In order to attract students of the north-west, it is a must that PU be accorded central university status.

Dr Neelu Kang, Chandigarh




Lawyers join PU stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The voice of the agitating teachers and students from the campus of PU has echoed from the Punjab and Haryana High Court where a large number of PU alumni are practicing lawyers.

Panjab University’s alumni lawyers, Harpreet Singh Brar, honorary secretary, Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, and Deputy Advocate General of Punjab, G.K. Chatrath, and Ajaypal Singh Gill, both fellows PU, joined the chain fast, along with the support from other, Harchand Singh Barsat, former political secretary to CM, Punjab, Harpreet Singh Tinku, chairman, Legal Cell, Dayal Pratap Singh Randhawa, former president, Campus Students’ Council, Harinder Singh Bhullar and Lalit Sood.

Dr Komal Singh, department of public administration, and Rajesh Kumar, Centre for Women Studies, also sat on the fast for the day in support of central university status for Panjab University.

‘Instead of dilly-dallying, Punjab government should take initiative to declare PU a central university as it epitomises not only Punjabi pride, but also national pride, said Ajaypal Singh Gill, fellow Panjab University.

G.K. Chatrath, PU fellow, said it was the first teaching university of India and Punjab government should shed its false prestige and come forward to save this prestigious university from severe financial crunch by supporting central status to PU.



PU to start course in community development
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
To create an awareness and understanding regarding the issues pertaining to community development at national as well as global level, Panjab University is starting a MA in community education and development in the newly established department of community education and development from the current academic session.

The basic idea behind this course is to make the students aware about the different facets of community life, theoretically as well as practically. “Community education and development as an independent discipline evolves from the realms of education and social sciences that caters to the socially marginalised, poor, deprived and disadvantaged sections through experts trained for the purpose,” said Dr Manjit Paintal, director, Regional Resource Centre For Adult and Continuing Education, PU.

This two-year masters degree course includes education, practice and community services for preparing the students to work with individuals, regional, national and international institutions.



Varsity results
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The Panjab University has declared the results of MSc (Hons. School) Botany, 2nd semester, M Sc (Hons School) Botany, 4th Semester, BSc (Hons School) Botany, 3rd Year, BE (telecommunication and IT) 4th, 5th, 6th semesters (Diamond Jubilee special chance examination), BE (electrical & electronics) 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th (Diamond Jubilee special chance examination), BE (computer science & engg) 1st, 3rd and 5th semesters (Diamond Jubilee special chance examination), BE (electronics & communication engg) 1st, 4th, 6th semester (Diamond Jubilee chance examination) and MSc (Hons School) (1st and 2nd year annual system).



637 attend MBA fest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Around 637 students from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir attended MBA Fest at Hotel Shivalik View, Sector 17, here today.

The Wg Cdr V.S. Bejoy (retd), director, (CMS), All India Management Association (AIMA), New Delhi, inaugurated the fest. An illustrative presentation on Top 10 Indian B-Schools, Top 10 International B-Schools, types of entrance tests like CAT, MAT, XAT etc, specified websites for MBA, Indian and international, accreditation agencies, eligibility criteria, fee structure etc. was shown to the participants.



No overbooking of air tickets: Panel
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Now, those travelling by air can heave a sigh of relief as the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed the airlines in the country to curb the practice of over-booking of tickets.

Reema Sawhny, a resident of Sector 10 here, had booked two tickets to the USA on an Air India flight. But on reaching the airport in January 2007, she was told by the managing director of the airlines that she cannot board the flight despite having confirmed tickets as the flight was over-booked.

The national commission headed by Justice R.C. Jain observed: “We are constrained to observe that it has become almost a regular practice for most of the airlines to overbook their flights and then deny the passengers boarding at the last moment despite their having confirmed tickets. This malpractice should be curbed forthwith by all such airlines, including the petitioner. The resultant inconvenience and harassment caused to an air traveller are beyond one’s comprehension when he is denied boarding at the last after having reached the airport.” Commenting on the orders pronounced by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum and State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, the National Commission stated: “The deficiency on the part of the airlines was so glaring that the compensation awarded by the district forum and affirmed by the state commission appears to be quirt modest.”

Holding the airlines guilty of deficiency in service, the district forum had directed the regional manager to pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Reema for deficiency in service. Thereafter upholding the orders of the forum, the state commission stated that the Air India is deficient in service by over-booking the flight.



Consumer Courts
BSNL penalised Rs 25,000
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has told Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited, Sector 34, to pay Rs 25,000 in compensation to a Mohali resident with liberty to recover the amount from officials responsible for deficiency in service.

The forum has also directed the telecom company to pay Rs 2,200 as costs of litigation.

The petitioner, Amrik Kaur, stated that the telecom company had allotted a mobile number to her in April, 2007 but she lost the handset on October 23.

After getting a DDR registered with the police, the petitioner requested the telecom company to issue a duplicate SIM card for which a sum of Rs 1,182 was deposited.

She stated to have been assured that the duplicate SIM would be issued and activated within six to seven hours on November 1, 2007.

Amrik asserted that the number was not activated and she instead received a letter asking her to give a request for issuance of second number on her name.

She stated that she had deposited a sum of Rs 50,000 when she had applied for the first number.

In reply, the BSNL denied receiving the sum when the customer had applied for the first number. The telecom company averred that the outgoing facility of the mobile was disconnected due to non-payment of bill.

The forum observed: “The telecom company has unnecessarily delayed the reactivation of the duplicate SIM on false grounds just to grab the priority number of the mobile phone.”



Anuradha Murder
Victim’s siblings depose before court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 30
Harish and Rekha, brother and sister, respectively, of Anuradha, who was brutally murdered, got their statements recorded under Section 164 of CrPC before the magistrate today.

The siblings reached the district courts complex at 10 am. According to police sources, the two told them that Baljinder and Anuradha didn’t share cordial relations.

Rekha was the first to depose before the court. She took two hours to get her statement recorded in the court of judicial magistrate P.K. Lal.

Sources in the police said Rekha disclosed that Baljinder had started torturing Anuradha soon after they got married. Baljinder had a number of extramarital affairs, she said.

Rekha told the police that in a telephonic conversation, Anuradha had informed her that her life was in danger.

Rekha further added that her sister had told her that she should take care of her children should something happened to her.

At 2 pm, the statement of Harish was recorded before the magistrate.

He told the police that Baljinder had fired gunshot at him after Anuradha had a minor altercation with the prime accused a few days before the murder took place.

Talking to the TNS, Rekha refused to disclose the contents of her statement. However, she said: “I am upset as to which way we are heading. I am also worried about the children and their future.”



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