C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Six-fold rise in chickenpox cases
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
If the figures are any indication, there is a sharp rise in the incidence of chickenpox in the city. Compared to merely 112 cases reported last year (January to June), there has been a phenomenal increase of 644 per cent with 834 cases in the corresponding period this year.

Though officials of the health department admit to the increase in chickenpox cases, they attribute it to improper compilation of last year’s data.

Nevertheless, this trend appears to be in sync with the spurt in chickenpox cases in other northern states, including Delhi, where the cases have gone up from 2,000 to over 3,000 cases this year.

The reason for this is the humid weather conditions prevailing in the north. Doctors say though the chickenpox virus usually thrives in the spring season, highly humid weather conditions have provided it a conducive environment to spread.

“This year, city hospitals have recorded 834 cases compared to 112 cases last year,” says Dr Rajinder K. Sharma, assistant director, health.

According to the integrated disease surveillance report, 59 per cent patients were children, 32 per cent women and 9 per cent men. Last year, the prevalence was found more among men.

“There has been an increase in such cases thanks to the humid weather. We are getting five to six cases every week,” says Dr Geeta Garg, senior lecturer at the GMCH-32.

About 22 cases were reported in the paediatric department of Government Multi-speciality Hospital-16 in June alone. Dr Sadbhawna Pandit, head of the department, said: “As the disease is communicable, people should take precautions. People need to be educated on how to stop the disease from spreading further.”

Mayor Pardeep Chhabra said though he wasn’t aware of the increase in the incidence of chickenpox, necessary steps would be taken in this regard. 

Treatment: The incubation period of the disease is 14 to 21 days. Among males above 13 years of age, complications can result in inflammation of testes that may lead to sterility. The patient must be kept in complete isolation until the blisters dry up. If diagnosed early, the disease can be controlled to a large extent. Those who get chickenpox develop immunity against the virus. If they are inoculated, the virus flares up.

Symptoms: Chickenpox is highly infectious. Rashes on the body mark the onset of the disease. The virus attacks about two days before these a ppear. Prior to that a patient may get nausea, fever, painful muscles, headache and loss of appetite. 

Precaution: Doctors advise against eating out and drinking only boiled water. Parents must ensure that children are not exposed to sudden change of temperature to keep chickenpox at bay.



False ceiling collapses in High Court
Furious, judge orders notices to UT depts
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
A false ceiling collapsed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court while Justice Mahesh Grover was holding the court this morning.

Those present in the courtroom had a narrow escape as a portion of the false ceiling came crashing down right on the dais. Over 50 persons were present when the incident occurred. Shocked at the collapse of the ceiling, Justice Grover directed the issuance of a notice to the UT chief engineer, along with the SE and the executive engineer of the public works department.

A notice was also directed to be issued to the SE and executive engineer of the public health department. They have been asked to “show cause as to why proceedings for contempt of court and registration of a case of criminal negligence not be initiated against them”.

The judge stated in his order that the incident showed “sheer negligence of the officers/officials of the engineering department who were called, but had no plausible explanation”. The judge has also observed that substandard material was used.

Justice Grover sits in a Division Bench with Chief Justice Vijender Jain, but was holding the court alone as the Chief Justice was out of station. At about 10.30 am, when he was hearing arguments, blocks of the false ceiling came tumbling down.

The proceedings came to a standstill as panic gripped those present inside the courtroom. For a moment, it appeared the whole ceiling would come down. Fearing the worse, lawyers and litigants started moving out of the room.

The incident left Bar members and litigants shocked and apprehensive as all courtrooms have similar ceilings.

A team of UT officials came to the spot in the afternoon and started pulling down the false ceiling, which, according to High Court sources, was installed about six months ago. It is not clear if officials plan to remove the ceilings in all courtrooms — over 50 in number — or devise some way to ensure such a thing doesn’t happen again.

None of the officers The Tribune contacted were willing to comment on the issue. The chief engineer, S.K. Jaitley, could not be contacted.

Meanwhile, the order forwarded to the court registry for necessary action draws the picture of neglect in the courtroom. It reads: “The whole row of blocks on both sides is visibly unsettled and is threatening to come down”.

The order adds: “An examination of the facade of the ceiling shows substandard work. The grooves in which the slab rests are extremely weak and small. As a result (of the collapse), the entire court work was stalled, resulting in the wastage of time of the court and obstruction in the dispensation of justice.”

Elaborating, the judge added: “The proceedings were disrupted and I had to discontinue my work for the fear that continuance of work was not safe and falling slabs could possibly injure someone.”

The matter will be taken up by the High Court again on July 10, when administration officials will file their replies.

Not first such notice

This is, perhaps, the second time that a notice has been issued to the authorities concerned for disruption of work due to poor maintenance and improper infrastructural facilities. Justice T.H.B. Chalapathi of the High Court had in the late 90s issued a notice to the adviser to the UT administrator following power failure.



Asheema Case
Kin see police bias, block road
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 7
High drama was witnessed at the district courts complex when relatives of Asheema, who allegedly committed suicide yesterday, blocked the way of prisoners’ van ferrying the accused to Ambala Jail after they were sent to judicial custody here today. The relatives alleged that the police was biased and lenient.

The relatives put the body on the road to block the way of prisoners’ van when Asheema’s husband Atual, along with his parents and brother, was being taken to Ambala. They alleged that the police acted as sympathisers to the accused and failed to prepare a case to procure their police remand. They also alleged that the accused were given a VIP treatment at the police station after their arrest yesterday.

The accused were brought to the court of Justice Madhu Khanna in the morning. As soon as the judge sent the accused to judicial custody, the relatives had heated arguments with the police officials standing outside the court alleging that they were biased and did not plead for police remand. The police did not prepare the case properly due to which they were sent to judicial custody before any investigation in the case could be done, they alleged. Later in the afternoon, they brought the body and put it on the road near the court complex.

Denying the allegations, the police said the family was asked to collect the dowry items yesterday itself, but they refused. Even today, the family did not provide the list of items to the police, said the police.

However, after much persuasion and assurance from SP Sandip Khirwar that the police would plead for the remand of the accused tomorrow, the relatives agreed to lift the blockade.

Meanwhile, the police has got the postmortem report according to which the deceased had severe head and chest injuries.

Meanwhile, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has asked the SP to ensure that the investigation in the case is conducted fairly so that justice is done.



Nagla Land Row
DC refuses to hand over revenue records
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 7
Its takes a bureaucrat to show another bureaucrat his place.The DC of SAS Nagar, Rahul Bhandari, has in a letter to joint development commissioner HIS Grewal stated that the latter is not authorised to call for revenue records since the district collector is the custodian of the records.

He was responding to an order issued by Grewal for today, summoning revenue officials of SAS Nagar with the revenue records of Nagla village in Dera Bassi.

Bhandari pointed out to the officer that he was joint development commissioner under the Village Common Land (Regulation) Act, 1961, and not the Punjab Land Revenue Act 1887. He also said in case there was a problem with the revenue record of the village, the same should be explained in writing so that the matter could be probed.

Interestingly, Grewal was DC, SAS Nagar, when Bhandari was joint development commissioner. Grewal issued the summon orders on July 4 while hearing an appeal filed by the village panchayat fighting for the ownership of 233 bighas of shamlat (common) land. The panchayat has filed an appeal against Bakhsish Singh and others, who claim ownership of the land.

Grewal noted in his orders that counsel for Bakshish Singh (individual claimants) had alleged that the revenue records had been tampered with by the then Dera Bassi circle revenue officer (CRO) Tarsem Singh Mittal who is now posted at Ludhiana.

Summoning Mittal with the records, Grewal ordered that the patwari halqa Nagla, kanungo halqa Nagla, circle revenue officer Madan Lal and naib teshildar Paramjit Singh appear before him today.

Grewal forwarded a copy of the orders to the village panchayat of Nagla and to a renowned businessman of the area, said sources.

The 233 bighas of the village shamlat land was ordered to be divided by collector-cum-divisional deputy director JS Brar in January 2007.The panchayat failed to appeal against the orders within the stipulated 90 days following which the ownership was transferred in the name of the individual claimants who further sold off their portions to local businessmen and promoters.

However, the then ADC (development) Ajoy Sharma took up the case and noted: “Though the collector does not have a right to determine the share of the proprietors, yet the collector declared the petitioners as owners as per their share in the petition. And based on this order, mutation of the tabdil malkiat was entered in the name of the proprietors and within a few days the land was sold to some bigwigs. This shows that this was a big and well-planned fraud...”

The ADC’s noting were forwarded to the government and Brar was suspended. Bhandari, who was then development commissioner, ordered a stay on Brar’s orders following an appeal filed by the panchayat.

Interestingly, Grewal had as DC given the nod to reviewing Brar’s orders. The review was recommended by the then circle revenue officer T.S. Mittal who has been now called to respond to the allegation of tampering with the records. 


Need to raise awareness on drug abuse: Dua
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune H.K. Dua inaugurated a three-day exhibition on “Drug abuse in today’s society” at the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research here today. The exhibition was oraginised to commemorate the 45th Founder’s Day of the institute.

Dua stressed the need for creating awareness regarding problems associated with drug abuse.

Asserting that the need of the hour was to reach maximum number of people, particularly the illiterate, and sensitise them on staying away from drugs, he said the masses also needed to be made aware of helping those who had fallen in the trap of drug addiction.

He hoped that the exhibition would help create such awareness among people.

“Around 200 million people all over the world use various illicit drugs, including amphetamine type stimulants (ATS), cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opiates and sedative hypnotics. Consumption is reaching alarming levels, especially among young people,” said a doctor at the PGI.

The exhibition will remain open till July 9.

The exhibition is targeted at patients attending the OPD, their relatives, PGI staff, Panjab University employees, as well as the youth in general and students from schools and colleges in particular.

Trained staff from the DDTC will answer queries of public and guide those in need of professional help.

Posters at the exhibition have been designed in English, Hindi and Punjabi languages.

PGI director Prof K.K. Talwar, DDTC officer-in-charge and head, department of psychiatry, Prof P. Kulhara, other functionaries of the institute, zonal director of Narcotics Control Bureau Saji Mohan, former director-general, Indian Council of Medical Research, Prof N.K. Ganguly and councillor Dr Amrit Bolaria were amongst those who attended the inauguration.

As part of the celebrations, a function was held in Bhargava Auditorium in the evening where union minister of state for housing and urban poverty alleviation Kumari Selja was the chief guest.

In her keynote address, she said institutes like PGI were instrumental in providing quality healthcare to the common man at subsidised rate.

Professor Talwar traced the growth of the institute from 1963.

The following PGI employees were honoured with awards by the chief guest in recognition of their contribution to the institute: Pala Ram (sanitary attendant), Kalsa Ram (animal attendant), Kamla Devi (hospital attendant), Sukhdev Singh (hospital attendant), Jarnail Singh (electrician), Tejinder Singh (refrigeration and air-conditioning), Mohan Singh Bhandari (junior lab technician), Arun Kumar Verma and Ashwani Kumar Sukla (clerks), T. Dolkar, and Amilia, Sweeta Dass (LDC).



Care group to find alternative energy source
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
A care group of officers comprising secretary to Governor, finance secretary and UT chief engineer has been constituted to find alternative source of energy and promote the solar power concept as a long-term solution to energy problem.

While announcing this, UT Administrator Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd) said the municipal corporation had been asked to study the scope of generating electricity from cow dung and organic manure for agriculture.

Hearing public grievances at the UT secretariat here, the administrator asked senior officers of the administration to further strengthen the public grievances mechanism in their respective organisations and improve service delivery system to benefit people.

He also told them to be easily accessible to public to help the needy find appropriate answer to their problems.

Laying special emphasis on develop strategies for empowerment of women and people in distress, General Rodrigues called for instituting counselling services in public dealing offices to extend necessary guidance and advice to the needy who were ignorant about the procedures to find remedial measures for their problems.

He sought strengthening of the counselling services by experts and social activists at the empowerment centre, Sector 19-D. A helpline has already been started at the centre.

On the housings sector, the chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board was asked to examine the feasibility of setting up a low-income scheme in the southern sectors.

For the second consecutive time, the administrator expressed concern over the growing number of complaints in different cooperative societies. The deputy commissioner was asked to expedite the issue within a week and initiate legal proceedings against defaulters and offenders.

Reacting to the demand of a Chandigarh Transport Union deputation for amending the order on reserving seats for women in CTU buses, the administrator asked them to give an undertaking to the effect that the CTU staff must undertake that seats would be vacated by male passengers for women when required.

He also took stock of the work on different components of education city and asked for a detailed report. He emphasised the need for strengthening public-private partnership in this project.



55 new bus shelters for city soon
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
The municipal corporation is set to provide 55 bus queue shelters across the city soon. The state-of-the-art shelters will be constructed by private parties on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis.

The all-steel shelters will be designed to prevent rainwater from seeping through, a perennial problem with old structures. The newly designed shelters will have 140 sq ft of advertisement space and will be quipped with timetable of buses plying on the route, a guide map of the city and the logo of Chandigarh.

The shelters will have a ramp for the convenience of physically challenged persons and will have a railing in front of them. The corporation has decided to do away with fast food kiosks in the new shelters, as they have been found to be a source of nuisance. The kiosks built in the earlier shelters created congestion in the shelters.

A senior officer in the corporation said: “The shelters will be set up on the Jan Marg, the Shanti Path, the Sarovar Path and at Mani Majra and the city will be divided in eight groups.

The estimated cost of constructing these shelters will be around Rs 8 lakh.

Sources in the municipal corporation said the design of the shelters will be finalised shortly, following which the authorities will start tendering process.

Private parties will operate the shelters for a period of five years after which these will be handed over to the corporation.

City mayor Pardeep Chhabra said: “Soon after getting the designs of the shelters, the work on tendering will be started. The new shelters will be an improved version of those built earlier in the city.”



UT, Punjab police lock horns over FIR
Mandeep Puri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Even 24 hours after the alleged kidnapping of Mukerian-based Co-operative Bank Manager Sumit Gupta, no FIR has been registered either by the UT or the Punjab police as they have locked horns over the issue of the jurisdiction of the case.

While the Chandigarh police is trying to wash its hands off the case on the plea that Gupta’s cell phone had indicated his location in Mohali, the latter claims that the mobile phone was last operational in the area of Sector 52.

As a result, no case has been registered and Gupta’s wife, Neeru, who arrived in the city this evening, has been camping at the Sector 43 police post.

Though, Gupta’s family members are sure that he has been kidnapped and suspect the hand of a bank employee, the UT police officials are unwilling to confirm it.

According to SSP S.S. Srivastava, the matter was being investigated and teams had been formed to work on different theories. On the question of registration of an FIR, he said: “We’ll decide tomorrow.”

Neeru said her husband had called her from his mobile phone around 4 pm, informing her that he was being forcibly taken away in an Ambassador car from the ISBT, Sector 43. She said he had come to the city to meet his bank MD.

She said she had subsequently informed the Punjab police, which in turn got in touch with their UT counterparts.

Though Neeru had not received any ransom call, she suspected the kidnapping to be the result of personal enmity.

She alleged that her husband had recently had a tiff with a “daftri” of the bank and ever since had been “tense” and “depressed”.

“He had warned me that if anything were to happen to him, the ‘daftri’ should be held responsible for it,” she claimed. Police officials said they were verifying the claims.

Neeru said Sumit had left his residence around 9.30 am for Mohali. “Around 10.10 am he called me and said two unknown persons had been following after he left the house,” she said, adding that when she called him up at 12.15 pm to check on his wellbeing, he sounded tense.

“He called me up later and said he was fine and was about to reach Chandigarh,” she said.

Police officials, who have scrutinised Gupta’s mobile phone records, said he had called Vinod Kumar, the owner of an STD booth in Sector 37, to enquire about the address of the managing director. Later, he had given a call to the MD’s personal secretary.

At 4.02 pm, he made the last call to his wife, officials said. Since then the mobile phone has been kept switched off.



187 anganwadi workers held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
The Chandigarh police today arrested 187 anganwadi workers along with their president Usha Rani for trying to barge into the office of director, social security, women and child development, Punjab, in Sector 34 here this afternoon.

Earlier, the agitating workers from across Punjab gheraoed the director’s office protesting against the non-fulfillment of their long pending demands.

The irate protesters were demanding immediate release of their pay withheld for the past several months, TA/DA and other financial benefits, increased amount of rent to be paid to the owners of the buildings housing the anganwadis and refraining from irregular recruitments.

Earlier, hundreds of anganwadi workers and helpers began assembling in front of the director’s office at around 10 am, among which, 51 workers began indefinite fast. The workers shouted slogans against the indifferent attitude of the authorities.

Led by Usha Rani, the workers blocked the entrance of the office at around 2 pm and did not allow anyone to enter the office premises.

Worried by the strength of the protesters, the police remained on its toes and the officers were seen placating the protesters, who refused to relent.

Taking to The Tribune, Harjeet Kaur, general secretary of their association, alleged that they had already informed the UT police about the plan of action and wanted to handover the memorandum to the director, but the message was not delivered to the authorities. “ It was a silent protest, but the police themselves created such an atmosphere forcing us to seize and enter the office of the director”.

While the anganwadi workers dubbed the police action as “repressive” and “unwarranted”, the police said the protesters violated prohibitory orders following which the workers were taken into preventive custody under Section 107/51 of the CrPC.

Drama was also witnessed at the Sector 34 police station where the anganwadi workers were taken. The jampacked police station witnessed large number of workers shouting slogans against the Punjab government and Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal.



CTU driver bitten by snake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Chandigarh Transport Undertaking driver Jagir Singh was bitten by a venomous snake after he had gone to answer the nature’s call at the transport’s depot No. 2 toilet here this morning.

The incident happened around 6.30 am when Jagir reported for work at the depot.

“It was pitch dark in the toilet. I was washing my hands when the snake bit me on my left hand. The hand turned blue and swelled,” he said.

Jagir was taken to the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16.

“Toilets at the depots are in shabby condition. Due to lack of hygienic and inadequate lighting, it’s always dangerous to go there. But there is no other option,” rued Jagir Singh.

“The surrounding area of the depots is full of wild growth. Besides thousands of used tyres dot the depot, which attract reptiles and other animals. We have apprised the authorities of the problem in the past but to no avail,” said a member of the CTU staff.

Jagir Singh was under observation at the hospital till the filing of the report. 



Transferred XEN takes along plum projects
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Certain officials are indispensable for the UT engineering department. So, while obeying the UT administrator’s order to reshuffle officials sitting on sensitive posts, a transferred official in public health has taken along plum projects along with his new posting.

“This is a novel way of adopting the CVC guidelines and at the same time accommodating favoured officials by allowing them to continue to handle important projects,” said a senior official.

Sources revealed that while deciding on distribution of work in the public health wing, some important projects like works in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, judicial academy, water lines, sewerage, storm water disposal, public health store, entrepreneur development building in IT park have been transferred to public health division No. 8 along with XEN A.K. Duggal.

This ensures that the official continues to handle the same important projects even after the reshuffle.

These works were already with Duggal when he was earlier posted at division No. 7.

XEN V.K. Arora, who has been transferred from division No. 8 to division No. 7, will handle new works in education, sports, arts and culture.

The orders were passed on July 3 by superintending engineer, project public health circle, Chandigarh.



Power cuts a routine in Panchkula
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 7
Despite tall claims made by the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN), residents of the township continue to bear the hot and humid weather without power. Over the past three days, unscheduled power cuts, ranging from two to six hours, have become the order of the day.

Though the UHBVN officials say that they are in the process of increasing the installed capacity in the town and thus enhance power availability, residents claim that the power situation in the city has only worsened. Frequent trippings and repeated technical snags leading to a complete breakdown has irked the residents.

“Though there is no scheduled power cut, the supply is erratic and goes off for half an hour every three to four hours daily. Till three years ago, power supply in Panchkula was good, but now it has become erratic,” says Neeraj Sharma, a lawyer and resident of Sector 4.

C.B. Goel, a local industrialist and former president of the Haryana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCCI), says, “Power supply to the industry is worse than to domestic consumers. For the past three days, no power was available to the industry and this was restored only today afternoon. With cost of captive power generation shooting up because of the hike in diesel prices, the industrial production has come down.”

Meanwhile, officials of the UHBVN contend that there is adequate availability of power in the township. Says T.K. Sharma, executive engineer, UHBVN, “We had installed a new transformer of 16 MVA at the Industrial Area substation to increase the availability which developed a technical snag three days back. This led to a power crisis for the past three days. However, we have made arrangements for supply through alternate sources and the transformer will be re-commissioned in another two months. Besides, we are in the process upgrading our substations in Sectors 3 and 10, which will ease out the problem in future.” 



Mohali power officials ‘helpless’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 7
Yesterday’s rain brought relief from power cuts in Mohali which has been facing a power crisis for the past five days.

Power was cut for about four hours yesterday and five hours today. Even though residents have been complaining about the cuts, electricity officials have expressed their helplessness, saying that directions for the cuts were given from Patiala as the demand had gone up due to the humid weather. Amrik Singh, a councillor from Phase XI, said residents were upset about the unannounced cuts. He said though the board authorities had failed to provide adequate power, they had raised power tariff and that,too,from back date.

According to PSEB officials, the demand for power in the Mohali circle was 5.5 MVA, but the supply to domestic and commercial areas was about 20 per cent less than the demand.

Though daily power cuts were not being imposed on the industry, it had to face a weekly shutdown as the supply to this sector was 14 per cent less than the demand.

Power board authorities said about 40 new transformers had been installed in areas where the transformers were overloaded. The domestic load had increased by 14.62 per cent as compared to last year whereas the commercial load had increased by 15.71 per cent and the industrial by 11.52 per cent. In the Mohali circle, 500 new transformers had been installed this year, out of which 400 were put up in the agricultural sector.



Ample power, but breakdowns common
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Though the UT power department is not imposing rotational power cuts, breakdowns are becoming a daily phenomenon in various parts of the city.

A senior official said with increase in humidity, the use of air-conditioners went up, causing breakdowns.

However, there is no shortage of power. Under long-term agreements with generation centres, the city is receiving 120 MW to 150 MW of power at various times. Against last year’s demand for 265 MW, the demand this year was less due to early monsoon. This year, the demand was around 235 MW. 



Update voter's list by July 15, DC tells officials
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 7
Mohali deputy commissioner Rahul Bhandri has said updating the voter’s list will be permissible only up to July 15 .

The deputy commissioner, who held a meeting with representatives of various political parties and officials engaged in the preparations for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, said the draft publication of the voter’s list bearing photographs was done on July 2 and the work of updating and making corrections would be carried out till July 15. Claims and objections would be entertained between July 15 and 23, data would be collected till August 28 and the final publication of the voter’s list would be done on August 30.

Bhandari said the residents, who could not get their votes made, could fill form No. 6 and submit documents relating to the proof of residence before July 15. Similarly, form No. 8 should be filled for carrying out corrections in the voter’s list and for change of address, form No. 7 should be filled and given before the specified date.

He said even if a voter had a photo identity card, his name in the voter’s list bearing photographs was a must for casting vote in the general elections. He said if the Lok Sabha elections were not held this year, then only persons completing 18 years by January , 2009, will be able to get their votes made.

He further said persons who did not have voter’s photo identity cards could get these made by providing photos and required documents to booth-level officers.

He said recognised political parties would be provided copies of the voter’s list free of cost and these could be obtained from tehsildars concerned. It would also be available with other officials.



Online social communities, a virtual reality

During the past two-three years with the increasing number of web-based (online) social network sites (SNSs) and the success of MySpace and Facebook, cyworld, Orkut, YouTube and Bebo, on account of their affordability and reach, urbane youngsters in the country with no active profiles on social network communities have integrated these sites into their daily routine.

In India, Yaari.com, DesiMartini and BigAdda (Anil Ambani’s group) are some of the websites targeting the ever-increasing Internet population. Despite pumping in of Rs 50 million, the bigadda could acquire a sort of fresh lease of life with the introduction of Amitabh Bachchan’s blog (blogs.bigadda.com/ab) on it. YouTube and MySpace both have just set up their dedicated Indian sites. But these SNSs should not be confused with social news network sites such as Instablogs.com, nowpublic, newsvine and Merinews which are complementary to the print media.

Compared with the West, Internet take-up in the subcontinent may not be high. Outside the main cities, relatively few homes have computers, and broadband is being rolled out at snail's pace and is pitched primarily at the corporate sector. But the MNC players are dazzled by the sheer numbers involved in India. As far as the percentage is concerned, it's certainly low at present but in terms of absolute numbers, more people are online in this country of billion-plus than the population of some developed countries.

Social networking can be traced back to its simplest form, emailing contacts. The more contacts you have, the more people you can reach when you forward a massage or a picture. The more people have your contact email, the more emails you will receive. Slowly and steadily, people become more accustomed to forums and chat rooms, participating and engaging in certain dedicated topics.

But it was still un-cool to go online and talk about your favourite video game, or movie, or fictional character or even sports. Chat rooms opened a new horizon in interacting with your friends, family and strangers. From social networks’ members to individual bloggers, from casual surfers to hardcore developers, from teenagers to businessmen, the online social networking changed our daily life.

A few years ago, an average guy or a girl would run into a situation that he/she would consider an interesting story to share, this person would contact his/her buddy and share that story and maybe over the weekend the story would be told again between a bigger larger group in a coffee shop or hangout. These days, an average blogger or community member will run into the same event and the first thing that pops in his/her mind is blogging or posting it.

Our online interaction with others became more and more the primary method of contact: with a single click, you can share your story with a hundred people, whether they are interested or not. In real life, you wouldn’t walk to a person who is wearing the same shirt you are wearing and tell him “let’s be friends”, but online you can pick any person you like and just click “add” and voila, you just made a new friend.

Although online socialisation made it easier to get in contact with people you would never have the chance to meet personally, it also altered the definition of contacts and friends. Anyone can be friends with 4,000 people on his network, can have a 1,000 contact on his messenger, but in real life this same person can be someone you would never consider befriending anybody. Social networking can bring you more business or new contacts that shares your interests even traffic to your own profile or blog, and for some it may bring comfort and love.

But social networking can also pave new roads to murders, thieves and rapists. In real life, you won’t go on a bus telling someone you suspect to be a criminal where you live or where you hangout, but in cyber world sharing these information makes you more popular.

No one can deny the power of the Internet, the good side and the dark side.The Internet brought resources and information right to you computer screen. It made it easier to stay connected with your friends and family. It even gave you an outlet to express yourself without your world’s restrictions.

But when you spend more time on making your online profile attractive rather than working on your real profile, then you’ve lost grabs on what is real and what’s not. When you take pride in your 1,000 online contacts and never actually have real friends in your life, then you’ve missed the point.

When you would spend hours commenting on strangers’ blogs seeking popularity, yet never carry one good deed to a complete stranger in your real-life community, you are forgetting what being human really means.

anilM is an editor with Instablogs; anilM@instablogs.com <mailto:anilM@instablogs.com>



Embassies rigid on adoption: Lawyer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
“The adoption of a stringent approach by major embassies in India, while dealing with applications for taking up children, is causing hardship to childless non-resident Indian couples,” feels lawyer Ranjit Malhotra.

Back in city after attending an annual conference on immigration law held from June 25 to 28 in Vancouver, Malhotra said: “In terms of inter-country adoption, all major embassies in India are more than stringent in dealing with adoption applications.”

The refusal rates are very high. There is no room for compassion. The hurdles are almost insurmountable, causing a lot of hardship to childless NRI couples.

The conference was organised by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Malhotra was the only speaker from the country.

He asserted there had been a growing demand for a general law of adoption, enabling any person, irrespective of his religion, race or caste, to adopt a child.

As such, there was now a clear case for overhauling the existing adoption law in India. Also, legal and ethical issues arising out of surrogacy arrangements warranted serious consideration. As of now, there was no legislation here looking at surrogacy arrangements, he added.



Admn enhances allowance for decorations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
The Chandigarh administration has enhanced the monthly allowance for various decorations. The allowance for Paramvir Chakra has been enhanced to Rs 10,000, for Ashok Chakra Rs 7,000 and for Sarvotam Yudh Seva Medal Rs 6,000.

For Mahavir Chakra and Kirti Chakra the allowance has been enhanced to Rs 5,000 each.

For Uttam Yudh Seva medal, Vir Chakra and Shaurya Chakra the new allowance is Rs 4,000 each, while for Yudh Seva Medal it is Rs 3,000 and for Sena/Nau Sena/Vayu Sena Medal Rs 2,000.

For Mention-in-Dispatches, PVSM 1971, AVSM 1971 and VSM 1971 the allowance has been enhanced to Rs 1,000 each.

The administration has also fixed lump sum one-time cash grants to future gallantry awardees.

For Paramvir Chakra it is Rs 5 lakh, for Ashok Chakra Rs 2 lakh, Mahavir Chakra Rs 4 lakh. For Kirti Chakra, Vir Chakra and Shaurya Chakra it is Rs 1 lakh, Rs 3 lakh and Rs 50,000, respectively.

The awards will apply only to future winners of these awards and the previous cases will not be re-opened.

These amounts will be given lump sum to future awardees only once and they will not be entitled to any other benefits.



Doctor bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
City-based doctor Ravinder Chadha’s father Charan Dass Chadha passed away today at 7.30 am at his Sector 16 residence.

Charan Dass had a mild heart attack 15 days back and was suffering from some minor ailments, said Dr Chadha, a former physiotherapist of Indian cricket team.

The cremation took place at 5.30 pm at cremation ground, Sector 25. The bhog ceremony will be held from 3 to 4 pm on Thursday at Arya Samaj temple, Sector 16.



Parking at railway station

PIL filed by a city-based advocate seeking directions to the railway authorities to ensure that contractors were stopped from charging parking fee at railway station is laudable. People should not be harassed for using the public road.

There is no parking facility available in the pre-dawn hours regardless the fact that there are at least three trains that arrive between 3 am and 6 am. Also, railway authorities have totally shut down the parking area on the Panchkula side of the station. Apart from causing inconvenience to the Panchkula residents, this causes heavy rush in the main parking area. Authorities should make proper arrangements for parking at railway station.

Rajesh Krishan, Chandigarh

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



High cut-off stretches nerves of college students 
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
A day prior to the admission process, the merit lists for the cut-off percentage for different streams have been displayed at various colleges today.

Regardless of achieving good marks in the exams, the unprecedented high cut-off percentage is going to stretch the nerves of the students as they will not get admissions in their desired colleges. This gives a setback to their confidence as well as career.

Professional courses like BCA, BBA, BTech (IT) and engineering are becoming dream courses these days. Because of the rising popularity, these courses experience a greater rush. And it finally leads to large applications for only few seats.

DAV College, Sector10, which can accommodate 80 students only in BCA course, has received more than 1000 applications. Similarly, around 1000 forms are in line for 120 seats in BBA I and 800 forms for 80 seats in BCA I.

The cut-off for BCom I in UT pool at DAV College is 82.2 per cent while in general category it is 90.2 per cent. In BSc biotch (hons) and BSc informatics (hons), the cut-offs have been scheduled as 83.8 per cent and 71.2 per cent, respectively.

Last year, at DAV College, the students scoring 90 per cent and above in the general category and 87.4 per cent in the UT pool got admission to BCom.

To tackle with high demand, the colleges have stuck to high cut-off percentages, which further leads to the frustration of students.

The cut-throat competition for various courses can well be imagined, if one goes by the cut-off list declared by SD College-32. The cut-off figure for BCom (grant in aid) is 97.8 per cent without mathematics and 93.8 per cent with mathematics for general pool. In UT pool, it is 89.2 per cent with mathematics and 93.2 per cent without mathematics. In B.com, self- financed course, the cut-off in general pool is 96.3 per cent without mathematics and 92.3 per cent with mathematics. In UT pool, it has been fixed as 88.7 per cent without mathematics and 84.7 per cent with Mathematics.

In BBA I and BCA I, the cut-off percentage is 89 per cent and 79 per cent, respectively. In BSc honours, biotechnology and bio-informatics, it has been as high as 91.66 per cent.

Last year too, SD College-32 led the race, where the cut-off for BCom was 94 per cent for general category and 90 per cent for the UT pool having over 80 per cent quota. For BBA, BCA and BSc (biotech), the cut-off was 90 percent and above while for BSc (bio-informatics), it was 85 per cent.

Among the government colleges of the city, the average cut-off, last year was around 70 per cent for BCom, BBA and BCA courses for UT pool. This time it is at higher side. At Government College for Girls-42, the BSc biotech (hons) has cut-off percentage fixed at 77.6 per cent for UT pool but 90.6 for general pool. For BSc (biotech elective), it is 68 per cent in UT pool and for general pool it is 83.8 per cent. For BCA, 81 per cent is for UT pool and 87.2 per cent for general pool. For BCom, it is 88 per cent for UT pool and 95 per cent for general pool. For BSc (computer Science), 67.8 per cent has been fixed for UT pool while it is 80.8 per cent for general pool.

At MCM DAV College for Women-36, the cut-off for Bcom, according to merit list, is 94.4 per cent for UT Pool and 96.6 per cent for general pool. Previous year, the college had 90 per cent as the cut-off for BCom. Those scoring 80 per cent and above were able to get admission in BCA while for BSc (food science) and BSc (microbiology) the cut-off was 75 per cent. For BSc (medical and non-medical) it was around 65 per cent.



No seats for OBCs in city
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Thousands of students belonging to other backward classes (OBC) and aspirants for admission to various colleges of Chandigarh would be deprived of their constitutional right to get admission under the 27 per cent reserved quota in the ongoing academic session 2008-09.

Reason: administration could not put into practice the reservation of stipulated quota of seats for them.

Admission brochure named as ‘A Headstart with College Education in City Beautiful’ has been a non-starter for the OBC students. This brochure, which is applicable to all government colleges of the city, does not speak about the reservation status of students belonging to OBC categories. Same was the case with brochures of all private colleges.

College authorities confirmed that they had already kept aside the seats for the OBCs well in advance but in the absence of clear-cut directions from the administration they had withheld the move. The circumstances cropped up apparently due to the dithering tactics either on the part of the Chandigarh administration or PU to implement the reservation quota for OBC category. PU, in its syndicate meeting held in June, had decided that the OBC reservation policy would be implemented in a phased manner spreading over three years.

The decision came in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold 27 per cent reservation for OBCs (minus the creamy layer) and the directions of the ministry of human resource development.

The arrangement had, reportedly, been spread as seven per cent reservation to be implemented instantly, followed by another seven per cent in 2009 and 13 per cent in the next year.

Till date, there is no sign of its being implemented whereas the admissions to various colleges have been scheduled to started tomorrow onwards.

The OBC Forum, Chandigarh, has submitted a memorandum to UGC chairman and the Chandigarh administration asking them why were they being refused of their lawful rights. The reply is still awaited.

Officials of the education department, when contacted, retorted the move saying the reservation clause for OBC was not applicable to Chandigarh colleges. “Actually, this quota is applicable to the centrally funded institutes.

The colleges here are affiliated with PU, which does not command a central status till now. So, the issue has been kept pending in connivance with the administration officials in a recently held meeting,” said an official.

On the other hand, PU officials, preferring anonymity, told that PU too had withheld the issue.



Class XI Admissions
General seats in science full at three schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Fifth day of centralised counseling for Class XI saw that all the seats were lying vacant in general health care course, which had been newly introduced in vocational stream from this session in GMSSS-32. The counseling was underway at GMSSS-10 here.

A total of 792 students were reported to be admitted today. All seats under general category for information technology had also been filled with a cut-off 64.6 per centage for GMSSS-37, 64 per cent for GMSSS-18, 63.8 per cent for GMSSS-23, 61.8 per cent for GMSSS-32, 62.2 per cent for GMSSS-22 and 62 per cent for GMSSS-33. Along with this, ample seats were still available in most of the schools in humanities and vocational streams.

Admission-seekers thronged the schools in which seats to science streams were still left. Meanwhile, three schools, GMSSS-10 (cutoff 64.6 per cent), GMSSS-8 (cut off 62.6 per cent) and GMSSS-22 (cut off 63.6 per cent), announced the closure of admissions in the science streams for general category. Only a few seats were now available in science at GGMSSS-18 and GMSSS, Dhanas. Counseling also ended for commerce stream in the general category for GMSSS-23 (cut off 61 per cent), GMSSS-46 (cut off 60.4 per cent), GMSSS-32 (cut off 62.4 per cent), GMSSS, MHC (cut off 63.6 per cent) and GMSSS-22 (62 per cent).



PU Notes
Interview schedules for admissions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Interview for general category in MA Part-I (psychology) for the session 2008-09 will be held on July 10 from 9 am to 5 pm. The interview for reserved category and NRI category will be held on July 11 from 9.30 am to 5 pm in department of psychology at PU.

PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION: Interview for admission to MA Semester-I (Public Administration) will be held on July 10 at 10 am in department of public administration, Arts Block 3 at PU.

CHEMICAL ENGINEERING: Interview for admission to ME (chemical) first year, MTech (polymer) first year and MSc (industrial chemistry) first year will be held on July 14 at 10 am. Students are required to bring with them all the original certificates.

DEPARTMENT OF HINDI: Interview for admission to MA I (Hindi) will take place on July 9 at 9 am in department of Hindi. The candidates are advised to attend the interview with all their documents in original.

DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY: Interview/admission test for admission to masters in disaster management and MA I (geography) will be held on July 9 and July 10 at 9 am, respectively.

DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS: Interview for BA hons will be held on July 9 at 9 am in School of Economics for general and reserved categories. Interview for MA (economics) Semester-1 will be held on July 11 for general category and on July 12 for all reserved categories at 9 am.

DEPARTMENT OF CHEMISTRY: Interview for admission to MSc hons (chemistry) first year will be held on July 14 at 10 am in chemistry department.

DEPARTMENT OF BOTANY: Interview for admission to MSc hons (botany) first year will be held on Friday, July 11 at 10.30 am in department of botany.

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: Interview for MA (education) first year will be held on July 9 at 11 am in department of education, Arts Block 2.

DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS: Interview for admission to MSc (statistics) will be held on July 9 in room no. 23 at 9.30 am in department of statistics (Mathematics Building).

DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH: Interview/admission to MA II (English), which was earlier scheduled on July 8 at the department of English, has been postponed till the declaration of the result of MA I (English).

DEPARTMENT OF ANTHROPOLOGY: Interview for admission to MSc hons I (anthropology) will be held on July 11 at 11 am in the department.

EXAMINATION: PU has declared results of following examinations: 1. BE (food technology) Semester 6, May 2008. 2. MA II (education), April 2008. 3. MSc (hons) 2nd Year, Bio-Chemistry, April 2008. 4. BE (telecommunication & IT) Semester 8, April 2008. 5. BE (computer science & engg) Semester 8, April 2008.



SSA teachers protest new contract
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
More than 800 Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) teachers, today held a protest rally on mosque grounds, Sector 20, against the indiscriminate attitute of the administration towards them.

The SSA teachers were fighting against the orders given by the education department regarding nonpayment of vacations period and signing of fresh contract for the month of July. “We have already signed a contract on March 31 for the whole session 2008-09, then where was the logic of forcing us to sign another contract. 



Criminal case against PUSU president closed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Tejpal Singh Cheema, president of the Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), today claimed that he had been falsely implicated in a case of causing injuries, forced detention and outraging modesty of a woman.

Addressing a press conference at Panjab University, Cheema alleged that it was a political stunt against him. Cheema had applied an application under the RTI Act, which revealed that the FIR registered against him on January 9 had been cancelled following lack of evidence.

The complainant went untraced from the paying guest accomodation, in which she was residing, ever since the FIR was registered. Despite repeated attempts, the girl did not come for further action.

ASP Madhur Verma said the case had been closed following lack of evidence.



Booked for drinking, accused acquitted after a decade
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
In yet another example of delayed justice, a decade after Avtar Singh and four others were booked for reportedly drinking at a public place, they were acquitted by a local court today.

Numerous hearings and adjournments, during which five trial judges changed, marked Avtar Singh’s trial that began in 1998. Relieved on being acquitted, he said, “We have suffered for 10 long years for no fault of ours.” Though happy at the prospect of not visiting the court any more, Avtar Singh, a bank employee, is bitter about the role of the police, which, he says, framed him in the case.

“I was arrested merely because the police thought that I was drunk and they slapped a case against me,” he said.

He and a few others were standing in a passage at Sector 22 when “suddenly few policemen came and caught us and booked us on charges of drinking at a public place”.

He rued that while the high and mighty got away with heinous crimes, he and his friends had to undergo harassment for being a commoner. “Go to any police naka at night and you will find a majority of the cops drunk,” he said.

According to the prosecution, Avtar Singh was booked along with Joginder Singh, Partap Singh, Charan Singh, Rajinder Singh, Sanjiv Kumar and Ashwini Kumar under Section 61 (1/14) of the Excise Act. Rajinder Singh Sanjiv Kumar and Ashwini Singh were discharged earlier by the court as their medical examination failed to confirm that they were under the influence of liquor.

They were acquitted due to lack of evidence.



Order against HUDA upheld
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 7
Upholding the orders of the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has directed HUDA to pay Rs 2,000 as cost of litigation for harassing a resident of Gurgaon.

The respondent, R.S. Aggarwal, stated that HUDA informed him through a notice to deposit Rs 10,166, including the principal amount and compound interest.

He deposited the principal amount of Rs 6,310 along with a letter acknowledged by HUDA. He said a case regarding enhanced charges and interest was pending in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He said after acknowledging the receipt of the principal amount, HUDA did not bother to inform him that he had to pay a balance amount of Rs 3,856 as interest and also did not challenge the contents of his letter.

However, after over 11 years, Aggarwal received a notice from HUDA that he had to pay Rs 19,000 as compound interest on the balance payment of the interest.

He claimed that HUDA had charged the compound interest even though it was not authorised to do so as per official guidelines.

In its reply, HUDA failed to produce any instructions that authorised it to charge the compound interest. The forum observed that HUDA remained silent for about 12 years and the amount grew.

The forum asked HUDA to calculate the balance to be paid by Aggarwal on the basis of simple interest.

The commission stated: “The appellant has failed to place on file any instructions or guidelines or regulations authorising HUDA to charge compound interest in such cases. Therefore, we agree with the order pronounced by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum.”



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