C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Hot Millions office, lockers sealed
Owners of the fast food joint were showing an annual income of Rs 15 lakh in the returns and evading huge taxes

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The income tax department (investigation wing) reportedly seized Rs 30 lakh during a two-day search operation conducted on a leading fast food chain, Hot Millions. The companies corporate office in Sector 17 and 12 bank lockers belonging to the owner have also been sealed.

The raids began at 8 am on Wednesday and continued till yesterday afternoon. Income tax sleuths searched 11 outlets of Hot Millions, including those at North Park and Panchkula, besides the residential premises of the owners.

The lockers would be inspected later and the extent of income concealed would be known after the seized documents and valuables were scrutinised, deputy director income tax (investigation) Praveen Siddhartha said. Account books of the company and documents relating to unaccounted income had also been seized.

The sources said the owners were showing a nominal annual income of Rs 15 lakh in income tax returns and thus evading huge taxes.

Meanwhile, simultaneous raids conducted on a UT builder’s house revealed unaccounted income of Rs 30 crore, which was deposited in his account and that of his wife at a bank here. On being asked about the money, builder Prem Lal Midha fainted. He was not been able to explain the source of his income. 



Sept rain breaks 5-yr record
Tribune New Service

A car makes its way through a waterlogged road in the Industrial Area, Chandigarh, on Friday. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, September 19
Incessant rain in the city threw life out of gear today. The city received the highest rainfall for a single day this month at 60 mm. The city also received the highest rainfall for the first 19 days (September) in the past five years. Met officials said the rain was due to convective clouds. “These clouds are formed due to low pressure in the area,” a Met official said.

The maximum temperature was recorded at 23 degree Celsius, 10 degrees below normal while the minimum was 22.4 degrees, one degree above normal.

Knee-deep water on roads disrupted traffic at various places and several vehicles broke down. The worst hit were commuters on the Madhya Marg as traffic was held up on all roundabouts.

Youngsters chill out in the rain in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Friday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tiwari

In the absence of a proper drainage system, residential localities, including those in Sectors 11, 15, 22, 24, 25 and 30, besides slum areas, were the worse affected. Basements in some markets were submerged and household articles were damaged as water entered houses.

City, Mohali schools closed today

With the Met department predicting rain for another two days, all schools and colleges of the city will remain closed tomorrow, except those conducting exams, according to a press note by Sanjay Kumar, education secretary. However, teachers and staff members will be on duty.

Mohali DC Rahul Bhandari said government and private schools in the district would also remain closed tomorrow.



Water crosses danger mark in Sukhna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Following incessant rains in the catchment area, the water level in the Sukhna Lake today crossed the danger mark forcing the authorities concerned to open all the three radial gates at the regulator end.

It was for the second time this year that the water level touched the danger mark of 1,163 feet. Though officials claimed that the water was being released in a controlled manner to avoid flooding downstream, the low-lying areas near the ‘choe’ have reportedly been inundated.

Officials said this information had been given to the Haryana and Punjab irrigation departments.



Rain snaps road links
Tribune News Service

A flooded road in the Industrial Area, Mohali, following heavy rain on Friday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, September 19
Incessant rain that lashed the region today left behind a trail of destruction, disrupting traffic and snapping several road links in the urban and rural areas of the district.

The vital road link between Chandigarh and Mullanpur was closed to traffic by the district administration, as swollen Jyanti Majri choe was flowing over the Mullanpur bridge.

Officials did not rule the possibility of the bridge being damaged if the level of the water did not fall. The Patiala ki Rao, passing though Naya Gaon and UT area, was also swollen.

The district administration has asked people living in low-lying areas to shift to higher areas.

Mayor Ajitpal Singh Kohli inspects waterlogged streets after incessant rain in Patiala on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Damage to property was reported in Zirakpur, Banur and Kharar also. Some reports of power failure were also received.

Due to heavy downpour in the evening, the Chandigarh-Ambala and Amritsar-Ambala railway track was flooded.

The trains leaving the Chandigarh railway station, including the Shatabdi Express, were delayed by 25 minutes.

Road traffic on the Chandigarh-Ambala, Chandigarh-Patiala and Chandigarh-Ropar highway was also disrupted due to poor visibility caused by heavy downpour.

Flooding of areas in Landhran and Jagatpura villages was also reported.

Bassi Pathana: Incessant rain threw normal life out of gear in the town today, as rainwater entered houses in almost all parts of the town.

In the main bazaar, rainwater entered shops and damaged goods, causing huge loss to traders.

Residents alleged that the local municipal council had failed to make adequate arrangements for the drainage of rainwater.

They said elderly and children were the worst affected. The residents urged the administration to make arrangements for the drainage of rainwater and provide basic amenities.



Rs 250 cr in UT kitty, but development nil
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The much-debated conversion policy of the administration for the industrial area, which ended after three years yesterday, has made the authorities richer by about Rs 250 crore. But it has left the industrial area poorer as far as civic amenities are concerned.

Even as industrialists pay the conversion fee through their noses, the revenue earned by the administration has gone to the consolidated fund of India as no public account was created by the administration for the conversion fee amount.

With the Centre dilly-dallying on the UT's request for a separate public account, the industrial area will have to wait for some more time for development.

In the meantime, the civic amenities are going from bad to worse in the industrial area dubbed “industrial and business park”. The potholed roads give motorists and two-wheeler riders a bumpy ride and the sewerage is far from satisfactory.

With about 147 plot owners going in for conversion, mostly in Phase I, the pressure on civic amenities is set to increase with the coming up of shopping malls and office complexes. Water and power will bear the brunt of the increased demand in the years to come.

“The sorry state of civic amenities will give a bad name to the city and put a spanner in the emergence of the city as the next destination for MNCs and the corporate world,” M.P.S. Chawla, president of the Chandigarh Industrial Association, said.

The industrial area was being ignored by the administration even though it contributed crores of rupees as taxes annually, complained Rajiv Gupta, general secretary of the Federation of Small-Scale Industry.

It was only recently that the MC spared a thought for the development of the industrial area and passed a budget of Rs 11.5 crore for the construction of roads and streetlights, besides beautification. Official sources, however, claimed that the matter regarding the creation of a public account for the conversion fund was being pursued with the Centre. Even minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal had been taking up the matter with the Centre on a regular basis.

The issue of “diversion” of city funds to the consolidated fund of India is likely to hot up in the run-up to the general election. Chandigarh is likely to contribute a revenue surplus of about Rs 600 crore to the consolidated fund this financial year.



17-year-old gangraped, tortured
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 19
A 17-year-old girl from a well-off family was reportedly raped and tortured by five persons, including a girl, on September 16. Though a case has been registered by the police, no arrests have been made so far.

The victim, a resident of Sector 15, is a student of Class XII. In her statement to the police, she alleged that four youths, in connivance with her former schoolmate, abducted her and took her to a village in Punjab, where she was raped.

The accused girl abetted the crime by helping the youths overpower her, she said. She also said they burnt her body with cigarette butts.

Though she has identified the girl and one of the youths, she does not know their address, police officials said.

In the complaint, the victim claimed that she met her former schoolmate in Sector 12-A when she was going on her scooter. The accused girl asked her to accompany her to Chandigarh as she had some urgent work and asked her sit in her car. The victim agreed and parked the scooter at a nearby temple.

They reached the Tribune chowk, where a Balero was parked, and both vehicles proceeded towards a village in Punjab where she was raped.

Later, she was dropped at the housing board chowk near Panchkula. She reached home and informed her parents.



Smart driving card system a non-starter
Police fails to procure card readers
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The smart card operating system for transport applications (SCOSTA) smart driving card launched by the UT administration some five years back has failed to deliver the desired results in the absence of card readers.

According to sources, the administration has failed to procure the specific card readers required to view the data stored in the micro chip. “In the absence of the card reader, the smart card is nothing but a plastic tag serving little purpose,” said sources.

SCOSTA is a high-security feature operating system developed by IIT, Kanpur. According to experts, the smart card with an enhanced memory from 1 KB to 4 KB has a micro memory chip and the its data is available in an encrypted form which rules out the possibility of any kind of tampering.

Fake registration?

In a recent incident, the traffic cops seized a registration card of a three-wheeler after being caught for a traffic offence. Later, the card was found to be fake as the chip showed the owner as Manjit Kaur of Palsora and the vehicle as TVS Victor bike (CH-03 R 7053).

Moreover, the traffic cops hardly know about the microchip on the card. For some, the microchip stands for the map of Chandigarh while for others it testifies the genuineness of the card. Some say if the surface of the chip is rough, it is genuine, otherwise fake.

But the flaw with it is that the data on the cards can only be read by specific handheld card readers which the Registering and Licensing Authority, Chandigarh, is finding difficult to obtain. It is important for the Chandigarh police to procure these handheld devices because without it they can neither read the history of offences committed by a driver nor feed information about any fresh traffic violations into the smart card based driving licence in the city.

SSP Traffic H.S. Doon admitted that the police was yet to procure the card readers. “The purpose of introducing the high-tech cards gets defeated till we get sufficient readers for it. The matter has been brought to the notice of administration. We have already submitted a request in this regard,” he added.

The administration, under the traffic education-cum-enforcement drive, had initiated to introduce the high-tech cards to update vehicle registration database so that current address of all registered vehicle owners should be readily available.

Chandigarh Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC) was entrusted with the task of procuring and printing the card and the Registering and Licensing Authority was to make available the necessary software ‘Sarathi’ to the Chandigarh police for entering challan history in the driving licence of the offender.



Don’t act as consumer panel, NGOs told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Placing a judgment on record by a lawyer in the Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum might invite trouble for a parallel NGO. The forum has forwarded the order of the NGO to the Home Secretary seeking appropriate directions in this regard.

The copy of order was also sent to the secretary, department of Consumer Affairs, Food and Pubic Distribution, Union Territory, Chandigarh, for information and necessary action.

Taking note of a judgment placed on record by the counsel, the forum headed by Jagroop Singh Mahal observed: “The counsel for the petitioner has referred to an order pronounced on December 28, 2007, issued by the Consumers Forum, Chandigarh, Karuna Sadan, Sector 11, directing the director, Nehru Hospital, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, to refund the petitioner the whole amount paid by her for the treatment along with Rs 10 lakh as compensation for mental agony harassment.

The forum observed, “It appears some person is assuming itself the powers of the consumer forum and passing illegal orders which cannot stand the scrutiny of law. It not only amounts to harassment to the consumers and service providers, but brings a bad name to the consumer forum. Such illegal orders, which were never passed by this forum, can be easily treated by a common man to have been passed by this forum, causing them mental tension and harassment. Passing such misleading and illegal orders is not fair on the part of the self-styled consumer forum.”

The petitioner, Damyanti Chopra, a resident of Sector 15, stated that she was operated upon on May 22, 2007, for total knee replacement at PGIMER and was discharged on June 8, 2007. She remained under follow-up during the period from June 16, 2007, to October 24, 2007, and had been taking medicines as per the doctor’s advice (post-operational measures). She alleged that despite having medicines and carrying following the advice, severe pain in the right leg with other complications continued to persist.

Later she was advised to undergo a surgery for revision urgently to avoid major complication. It was alleged that there had been negligence and deficiency in service on the part of the department of ortho, unit-II, PGIMER, Chandigarh, which necessitated revision.

The PGI argued that the petitioner was not cooperative and in spite of advice, she sat crossed legs immediately after two days of the surgery. On her visit on June 16, 2007, her wound was found to be completely dry with healthy suture line and her wound site was found to be wormed without any discharge.



Sinusitis can affect vision: Doctor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Those who feel that sinusitis (common cold) is a simple problem and needs no treatment are mistaken. This simple problem could turn into chronic sinusitis and, if not treated for a long time, could affect vision, said head of ENT department, PGI, Prof A.K. Gupta.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Prof Gupta said that chronic sinus cases were on the rise mostly due to fungus and bacteria in environment. Out of 2,000 patients, 600 cases were of chronic sinusitis reported in the PGI out-patient department. In most cases, vision had started becoming hazy to such an extent that recognition of objects was badly affected. “If the irritation of the throat and nose persists for a long time then one should not ignore the signs," he said.

RHINOCON-2008 starts today

The 21st annual conference of the All-India Rhinology Society “RHINOCON 2008 - An Endoscopic Sinus Surgery Fiesta” is being organised on September 20-21 at PGIMER. Senior faculty members from abroad are coming to attend this academic event. The major events scheduled for RHINOCON-2008 are, live surgeries, cadaveric dissection workshop, panel discussions, interactive session, paper and poster presentation.

Also facial pain, nasal discharge and blockage, persistent dry cough, sneezing, headaches, running nose and change of voice should warn a person that they need treatment for sinus," he added. If one is prone to chronic sinusitis, they should avoid cigarette and cut down their alcohol intake. "Smoking and regular alcohol intake can lead to swelling in the sinus membranes," said Dr Gupta.

All patients, who were prone to chronic sinusitis, were operated on an emergency basis under magnified endoscopic visualisation through nose. Care was taken not to injure the eyeball, muscles and nerve, or there would have been a permanent loss of the eyeball, squint or visual loss respectively, said Dr Gupta.

Post-operation, all patients recovered their vision in less than 24 hours, he said. Nasal polyps were swelling, arising in the nose, in people of all ages and genders. They caused loss of smell, nasal block, headaches, snoring, repeated sniffing, coughing, reduced hearing, ear discharge and altered the shape of face in growing children.

Dr Gupta pointed out that surgery was mandatory for larger polyps whenever required as there was a high risk of the polyps encroaching into the eyes, sinuses, brain and consequent loss of vision and loss of consciousness. He expressed concern that the number of patients had risen to about two to three cases a week. These patients reach the ENT specialist on an emergency basis after being referred by an eye specialist, a neurologist or other specialists.



Another feather in ICCR director’s cap
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
M.M. Sharma, regional director, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), has added another feather in his cap. The eminent art and culture administrator has been posted as the first secretary of the Indian High Commission at Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, and director of the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Cooperation.

Credited with the revival of ICCR activities in the region, Sharma's posting is expected to give a fillip to Indian art and culture in the West Indies, which boast of close cultural links with India.

Sharma was instrumental in reviving the "Horizons" series of the ICCR, aimed at giving a platform to local performing artistes in the region. ICCR, the cultural arm of the ministry of external affairs, supports artistes in two ways. First, it sends cultural troupes to foreign countries under various cultural exchange programmes. Second, the "Horizons" series promote those performing artistes who cannot be send abroad for varied reasons.

In fact, it would be second overseas posting for Sharma who had earlier held senior administrative posts at the ICCR headquarters in Delhi. Earlier, he was the head of the Indira Gandhi Centre at Mauritius.

"My endeavour would be to promote rich Indian cultural heritage in the West Indies which has sizeable Indian population," Sharma told The Tribune here today.

In an era when the world has become a global village, cultural diplomacy assumes more importance as it goes a long way in making a country a super power, he said, adding that he would try his level best to promote Indian culture as per the ICCR mandate. More cultural exchanges, including festivals of India in the West Indies and other neighbouring regions, would be planned for better people-to-people contact, he added.



Death of Bull
MC staff set deadline for withdrawal of case
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 19
Employees of the municipal council today gave a three-day ultimatum to the police authorities to withdraw a case registered against their colleagues, failing which they would go on strike.

The employees held a gate rally and said it would become difficult for them to work in the field if cases were registered against them on false charges.

They demanded the cancellation of the case registered against council employees at the earliest.

Civic body employees said if the police failed to take any action within three days , they would strike work. Employees of other civic bodies in the district would follow suit, they added. Thereafter, the protest would cover the entire state.

Another memorandum was given to the district authorities today, a copy of which was given to the SSP. The SSP has asked SP (city) Varinder Pal Singh to inquire into the matter.

Varinder Pal Singh said council employees had met him today and he had told them that further action would be taken only after a post-mortem report of the dead bull was received. It was important to ascertain the cause of death, he added.

Employees had held a dharna yesterday in protest against the registration of a case by the police against their colleagues who were engaged in a drive to catch stray animals. SDOs and JEs had also participated in the protest.

A 21-member joint action committee was formed to chalk out a future plan of action if demands of the council employees were not acceded to. The protesters also demanded action against Shiv Sena activists who had allegedly abused council employees and tried to block vehicles moving out of the council office in Sector 68.

Civic body employees said they should be given a police force on a permanent basis because they had to face the wrath of public while removing encroachments and catching stray animals.

Some employees of the civic body were booked by the police on September 17 under Section 429 of the IPC on a complaint lodged by residents of Lambian village. They had had alleged that a stray bull was tortured by employees as they tried to load it on to a vehicle. The animal died later.



Setting up of CCTV cameras mandatory in Sector 35 market
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
In a bid to step up security in Sector 35 market, the local police has made it mandatory to install CCTV cameras at the entry gates of hotels, pubs, discotheques and restaurants.

The owners of these outlets have also to intimate in prior to the police about the parties and functions. Besides, they have to maintain proper record of the people staying in their hotels.

These instructions were issued to the businessmen by DSP (South) J.S. Khaira during a meeting here today. SHO, Sector 36 police station Davinder Sharma was also present.

“The steps have been taken keeping in view of the recent bomb blasts in New Delhi and the forthcoming festive season. This will help the police to keep a tab on every visitor,” said Sharma.

The main market lane of Sector 35, having famous food chains, hotels, pubs, is one of the most happening places of the city even during the nights. “Notices will be put up in the parking areas advising people not to leave valuables in the parked vehicles”, said Sharma.

Over 30 businessmen attended the meeting. “All these businessmen have been directed to follow the instructions immediately”, added Sharma.



Minister for reforms in jails
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 19
Administrative reforms are being brought about in jails to provide better facilities to prisoners in Punjab, said Hira Singh Gabria, minister for jails, tourism and cultural affairs at a ‘Meet the Press’ programme organised by the SAS Nagar Press Club here today.

He said the Punjab government had chalked out an important programme to bring about the required changes. He also said that jail inmates would now be provided awareness about Indian culture and also about various religions.

The minister said it was decided that a direct telecast of Sri Guru Granth Sahib’s 300th Gurta Gaadi celebrations would be made available from Hazur Sahib and other religious places to prisoners. The aim was to help the inmates become better citizens. The programmes would be telecast from October 29 to November 3. Preachers and ‘raagis’ would also be asked to perform in prisons.

It was also decided to hold yoga and special training camps in jails, keeping the health of prisoners in mind, he added.

Gabria said that three new jails were being constructed in the state. These would be located in Kapurthala, Faridkot and Nabha and each would accommodate 3,000 prisoners. Four thousand barracks were also being constructed in old jails at a cost of Rs 201 crore.

The minister, who was welcomed by the club president M.P. Kaushik, announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the club. A vote of thanks was proposed by general secretary Darshan Singh Sodhi.



Traders in fix over availability of paper bags
Say consumers will have to shell out more

Himani Chandel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
In the wake of the proposed ban on the polythene bags, the shopkeepers are in a fix about the availability of paper bags, as these are not manufactured in the city at all.

Besides this, they would also have spent three to four times more for purchasing these bags. “There is not even a single unit in the city which produces paper bags. Large amount of paper bags is brought from Delhi. It would take a long time for the polythene-manufacturing units in the city to start production of paper bags as well,” said J.P.S. Kalra, general secretary, Sector-17 Market Association.

Various trader associations of the city had made it clear that the cost of jute and paper bags would have to be borne by the consumers. Thus, the cost of the jute and paper bags will leave a hole in the buyers ‘pockets.

“After the ban on polythene bags, the demand for the paper bags will automatically go up and so will their prices. The consumer will ultimately have to bear the burden,” he added.

Also, the city’s vendors and hawkers, who are not aware of the reason behind the ban, are worried about their daily earnings. “Without polythene bags people would not come to us for buying anything and we don’t know from where to get these paper it’s difficult for us to afford these bags as they are much higher in prices,” said a roadside hawker.

As per administration’s notification anybody found with polythene, will not only invite a heavy fine, but also a trial under the Environment Protection Act. This decision was taken after it was found that the ban on the manufacture, sale, storing, import, transportation and use of polythene or plastic carry bags of thickness less than 30 microns and of size less than 8”x12”, had not worked out well as expected. The 45 manufacturing units, which were making polythene bags, plan to shift their base to nearby areas.



Hands-on cadaveric dissection demonstrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The department of otorhinolaryngology, Postgraduate Medical Education and Research, organised a continuous medical education on endoscopic sinus surgery and hands on cadaveric dissection today.

It was a prelude to the 21st annual conference of the All India Rhinology Society, which is being held on 20th-21st September. This day-long affair was packed with a series of lectures by experts in the field of rhinology.

The highlight of the event was hands on cadaveric dissection wherein Prof. Ashok K. Gupta demonstrated the art of endoscopic sinus surgery and its various applications in the field of rhinology.

This was followed by dissection done by 72 students in three batches, wherein, the training residents carried out the dissection under the guidance of various authorities in field from USA, UK, Belgium, Malaysia, Nepal, Oman and India. It is for the first time that hands on cadaveric workshop in rhinology with micro-debriders were held in this part of the country.

In addition to this, there was a surgical session in which Dr D.C. Mehta from USA demonstrated the art of balloon sinuplasty, which as per him is an ideal surgical technique to be carried out in cases of minimal sinus disease.

Prof. V.K. Sakhuja, dean, PGIMER, Chandigarh, inaugurated the session and stressed on organising such training sessions more frequently for the interest of trainee residents.



New session at GMCH
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The new academic session of the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, was inaugurated today by Prof J.S. Bajaj, professor and chairman, National Academy of Medical Sciences. Welcoming the new batch of undergraduates, professor Bajaj, exhorted them to strive and achieve the highest goals and follow the principles of the profession as envisioned by eminent medical teachers.

Professor Bajaj served as a member (Health), Planning Commission, Government of India, in the rank of minister of state and steered the development of national policy and plans for population stabilisation, environmental and public health, nutrition and medical education. He joined the faculty of the AIIMS in 1966, and subsequently occupied the Chair as professor and Head of Medicine.

Earlier, the GMCH director-principal, Dr Raj Bhadur, welcomed the students and asked them to consider the institute as an extension of their homes and be part of it. The function was also attended by a PGI director, Prof K.K. Talwar, a former director-principal, GMCH, prof and faculty members.



Rural Health Mission
Officials discuss execution of programmes
Our Correspondent

Mohali, September 19
A state-level meeting of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Punjab, was held here today to discuss key issues regarding the implementation of various programmes in Punjab.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Satish Chandra, secretary, health-cum-mission director, NRHM, and was attended by officers of the state headquarter and state programme management unit as well as officers of the district programme management units.

The objective of the meeting was to orientate district-level officers to effectively implement ambitious NRHM programmes in their respective districts. Issues related to management of various components of the NRHM, especially human resource, financial and monitoring issues at the district level, were discussed at the meeting.

Other important health programmes like reproductive and child health, immunisation, Janani Suraksha Yojna and other health indicators were also discussed and reviewed.

Satish Chandra emphasised the need to strengthen the programme through awareness generation among masses and regularly monitoring the initiatives taken under the NRHM.

He further directed district programme managers to effectively implement and review the progress of the NRHM in their districts. He stressed the need for holding regular meetings of district health societies formed under the chairmanship of deputy commissioners.

Prominent among those present during the meeting were assistant director-cum-state immunisation officer Dr V.K. Goyal, NRHM state programme manager Dr C.L Bhatia and assistant director and state TB control officer Dr P.K. Bansal.



‘Jugaad’ Jeeps in new avatar
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, September 19
The great Indian ‘jugaad jeeps’ have got a newer and modern avatar, this time they are not only catering to the requirements of the villagers, but also to the “prosperous” youngsters, especially the university students.

The process starts with a purchase of old jeep chassis from the scrap markets or army scrap auctions. Then an old engine is purchased from Mayapuri market in Delhi. These engines, which are aimed at boosting performance and making the vehicle more fuel-efficient, come in various brands like Toyota, Nissan and Isuzu.

The most popular one is the Toyota 2-C Turbo. The engines reach the Delhi market from the Kandla port in Gujarat.

The mechanics in Mani Majra, and Industrial Area of Chandigarh, are fitting these engines. Mostly the chassis and engine are taken to special workshop in Dabwali or Moga. These places have thriving jeep assembly industries.

The jeep is refurbished and a new body is fabricated (as per owner's specification). Finally, the vehicle is equipped with unusually broad tyres.

All these changes come at a heavy cost, approximately Rs 1.5 lakh. This includes Rs 45,000 for jeep chassis and engine, Rs 40,000 for a new body, Rs 20,000 for paint, accessories etc and another Rs 40,000 for tyres.

The popularity of these vehicles can be gauged from the fact, that the market at Mandi Dabwali, a small town at Punjab Haryana border, sells around 200 jeeps every month.

The men who give shape and life to the machines are nothing less than ustads for the jeep lovers. The order to retrofit the jeeps runs in to several months. “I am a great lover of jeeps and own a jeep, which I have modified according to my needs," said Robin Brar, a student of Panjab University.

Such jugaads have “admirers” among adventurous farmers. Several Punjab's politicians are also known to possess a fleet of open jeeps. Retrofitted jeeps are illegal in the eyes of law. Adventure and thrills apart, there are concerns about the legality of the vehicles.

These vehicles don't have any registration certificates, and are not covered under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, because the engine is not company fitted. Also requirements like seat belts etc are missing in these vehicles. “We are running this business for past few years and till now nobody has asked us anything. These jeeps are safe and their demand is very high," said Ashok, a mechanic from Mani Majra.

But the Chandigarh Traffic police is doing nothing to check such vehicles. The fine of alteration in any motor vehicle is Rs 3,000. J.S. Cheema, a deputy superintendent of the traffic police Chandigarh, said, “Basically these open or assembled jeeps are banned, and those who are not having their registration documents of their vehicle, we impound those vehicles immediately and a special drive to check these vehicles will start in a short time.”



Scant regard for law
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Miffed at the apathetic attitude of the police, city residents, particularly slum dwellers, seem to be taking to the streets in a bid to get their problems resolved.

Nothing else can explain this better than the rising number of incidents where people have resorted to pelting stones and ransacking police stations, besides assaulting the men in khaki.

Sources in the police said the police had faced the ire of the residents twice this year. In 2007, there were seven such incidents.

The sources said such incidents only occurred in cases of gross violation of rights, police inaction or perceived shielding of accused involved in heinous crimes.

On September 15, a group clash between two parties at Mauli Jagran took a violent turn outside a police post in the locality. Some persons belonging to a party not only attacked the other party with stones and sticks, but also did not spare the police. Some pelted the police post with stones, forcing the police to run for cover. Additional force had to be called in to defuse the situation.

According to residents of the area, gheraoing the police post was not a big deal as the fear of police action seems to be the last thing on their minds.

Last year, the Mani Majra police station also faced the wrath of a mob following the death of an Indira Colony resident in police custody.

Similarly, the industrial area police station was surrounded by a mob from Colony Number 4 following suicide by a resident at the police station in July this year.

People kept throwing stones at the police station late into the night until they were assured of fair investigation into the matter by the top brass of the police.

In other parts of the city also such violent agitations are becoming common. In September and November 2007, the Sectors 3 and 26 police stations, respectively, faced violent agitation leading to the registration of cases of rioting and assault on public servants.

A senior police officer said lack of stern action against the unruly mob was resulting in the rise of such incidents. He said the police should invoke provisions of the Property Act in such incidents, which would prove as a deterrent.

Under the Act, the accused was liable to pay for damage to property.

According to Dr B.S. Chawan, head of the department of psychiatry, GMCH-32, people from the slum areas are frustrated due to “equal treatment” and it makes them temperamental. Moreover, they have strong emotions and share close community relations with one another. If the need arises, they do not give a second thought before standing up for one of their kind.



‘Umeed’ for special children
Himani Chandel

Tribune News Service

Ajay with his mother Urmila Verma at their residence in Sector 46, Chandigarh.

Chandigarh, September 19
The life has changed for Ajay, a 20-year-old mentally challenged boy, since the day he has realised his worth. He is working with a recently inaugurated ice cream parlour in Sector-17. The job has given him a life that he had never thought of even in his dreams, independent and confident. He handles the entire counter on his own and efficiently delivers to the expectations of the customers.

Ajay now keeps his head high with dignity and pride. “I was very irritable before I had joined this job. I always used to get angry at every second person I met. I remained at home most of the time as I had no friends at all,” said Ajay.

“But now I feel happy while serving people. I have also made friends, including my friends in the parlour and the regular customers,” he said. “It is good to see him happy as he is a very sincere child. He comes at eleven in the evening on his own,” said Urmila Verma, Ajay’s mother. “He has also won prize in cricket matches,” she added.

Ajay was trained in the Government Institute for Mentally Retarded Children (GIMRC) in Sector 32. He was put to work as a part of initiative taken by ‘Umeed’, a project that has brought ray of hope to a number of similar children. Umeed is a joint venture of association of parents of mentally challenged children and the GIMRC.

The project, Umeed, which was awarded by the President on the World Disable Day as the ‘most innovative project for children with special needs’ last year, has become a major success in the city. This project, which is now two and a half years old, has provided jobs to almost 30 mentally challenged children. The first kiosk opened for these children was a juice bar in front of Sukhana Lake.

“We have opened ‘Umeed’ kiosks which are specially dedicated to these children at Sector 34, Sukhna Lake, Rose Garden, Manimajra, the Central Housing Board office in Sector 9 and Central Library, Sector 17, and planning to open one in Rock Garden, the District Court area and one at the DC office in Sector 17,” said Dr Chavan, joint director of the GIMRC and chairman of Umeed.

Though initially the project started with the sole aim to provide confidence to the children by generating employment for them, it has also proved to be monetarily rewarding for all these children. “The total money collected through various outlets is being divided to parents and children, keeping 20 per cent of the total earnings as the project expenditure,” added Dr Chavan.



Pleasing the media

It was a classic case of good intentions gone awry. A rap from the chairman of the national commission for SCs, Buta Singh, during a review meeting and later at a press conference last week for “shoddy” work on the welfare of SCs in the city, prompted the administration to placate the press. While Buta Singh and other commission top functionaries had lunch at the UT Guest House, the media was given special treatment in the form of an elaborate buffet at Hotel Shivalikview.

A section of the media saw it as an attempt to “buy-off” the otherwise friendly city press. It was another matter that a major section of the media put the administration on the mat the next day.

Once bitten, twice shy

When controversies brew, city principals make all efforts to save their skin. A particular principal, who hit the headlines for the alleged biased unilateral election in her college, is usually being accompanied by a photographer just to ensure that if protesters are hurt, she can prove her engagement elsewhere.

In a maze

The GMADA authorities are yet to find a way to put a piece of land sandwiched between Madanpur village and the HIG complex in Mohali’s Phase 2 to good use. Wild growth and the occasional tossing of garbage in the plot by villagers over a wall separating the plot from Madanpur have made it a source of nuisance.

Various plans were drawn up by PUDA (now GMADA) to develop the land, including the opening of a library and the creation of a beautiful park, but these have come to naught. Earlier, there was a small pond in the area, into which sewage from Madanpur village entered. Following demands by flat owners, the pond was filled up with earth by the authorities and a wall was built to cut off the residential complex from the village. People are still waiting for GMADA to create pleasant and healthy environs.

Lost in time

DAV College, Sector 10, needs to update its data. As per information, S. Marriya is still the principal of the college whereas it’s been almost a year since B.C. Josan took charge as principal. An invitation card for a freshers’ party at the college mentioned the principal’s name as S. Marriya. Mind it Josan!

Contributed by Smriti Sharma, Pradeep Sharma, Sumedha Sharma, Kulwinder Sangha and G.S. Paul



Two doctors to attend world conferences
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 19
Dr Rajeev Trehan, a doctor at General Hospital, Sector 6, will present two research papers at the World Congress of Psychiatry to be held between September 20 and 25 at Prague, Czech Republic.

The research work had been carried out by Dr Trehan, an MD in psychiatry, during 2005-07 at PGIMS, Rohtak.

The work relates to the common psychiatry problem, attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), in children.

He will present papers on “Impact on parents of having a child with ADHD” and “Burden and coping strategies in families with a child with ADHD”.

Similarly, Dr Sanjay Bansal, a local private practitioner, has been invited to participate in the FDI World Dental Conference to be held at Stockholm, Sweden.

The four-day conference, to begin from September 24, will focus on latest developments in dental care like implants, full mouth rehabilitation, preventive dentistry and cosmetic dentistry.

Dr Bansal had also attended the world dental conference organised at Las Vegas, USA, last year.



Naat Utsav concludes
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 19
The fifth Gursharan Singh Naat Utsav-2008 concluded on a social awakening note with the staging of two Punjabi plays ‘Janam’ and ‘Tamasha Moteyan Da’ at the Randhawa auditorium here yesterday.

The three-day theatrical bonanza was organised by Suchetak Rang Manch and NZCC in association with PAC and DPR, Chandigarh. The theatre festival was a salutation to theatre stalwart, Gursharan Singh’s, deological stand on social issues and reformation was eloquently expressed in all the plays.

Heralding a relentless crusade against social evils, playwright Gursharan sculpted the play ‘Janam’ based on a popular short story ‘Kallan’ by Sarvmeet Singh. The protagonist, Shibu, belonging to the backward class, remains deeply and faithfully devoted to the patriarchs of higher caste.

Ideals., the conflict that runs throughout the play also generates a satirical situational comedy while debating the socio-cultural issues. Of late, realisation comes to Shibu, who rediscovers himself with an identity of his own on his 50th birthday. Actors Malkit Singh Rauni (Sarpanch and police officer), Aman Khaira (Mejjo and Thanedarni), Iqattar Sahota (Shibu) and Jarnail Singh (Pandit) excelled in both the plays.



Residents oppose axing of trees, shrubs
Tribune News Service

Trees and shrubs axed in Sector 48 in Chandigarh. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, September 19
Residents of the GBS Workers’ Cooperative Society, Sector-48, Chandigarh, are irked over the cutting of flowering shrubs and other plants in their society, allegedly by its president.

Members of the Environment Society of India, a non-governmental organisation, said it was unethical to axe trees without the permission of the authority or area residents.

“Nobody has the authority to cut plants and trees as legal action could be taken against them,” said president of the NGO S.K. Sharma.

The president of the society was not available for comments.




Allahabad Bank launches new schemes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Resource mobilisation has emerged as a big challenge for banks in view of tight monetary policy forcing the financial institutions to raise funds at high cost, said general manager of Allahabad Bank P.K. Anand

He was addressing a meeting of the bank officials from Chandigarh and Ludhiana zone here on Wednesday evening. He said that incentive schemes had been launched for mobilisation of savings bank and retail term deposits for bank employees.



Panel to check programme code violation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Chandigarh administration has constituted a district monitoring committee to look into the violation of programme and advertising code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995.

While the district magistrate will be the chairman of the committee, the SSP, director, Public Relations, principal of Government College for Girls, Sector 11, head of mass communication department of the Panjab University Mohanmeet Khosla, journalist Manish Tiwari, an NGO representative, Ramneek Sharma, psychologist Bhavneshwar Sharma and sociologist Mohinder Kaur Teja will its members.



Girl succumbs to injuries

Panchkula, September 19
A 17-year-old girl, who was injured in a road accident here yesterday, succumbed to her injuries at the PGI, Chandigarh, today. The victim, identified as Sushila, had received injuries when a scooter and a van had a head-on collision in Sector 15. Badly injured Sushila was taken in a critical condition to the General Hospital, from where she was referred to the PGI. — TNS



Patrolling on national highway

Heavy traffic and bad maintenance of roads on the national highway-21, is perhaps adding to the misfortunes of commuters. It seems to be an accident-prone zone, especially till Ropar, the situation is really bad.

Commuters on personal vehicles are at a high risk. This area comes under Punjab police, but instead of continuous patrolling on the national highway, the police is busy making money by setting up nakas.

One can see multiple accidents on this death prone area. Considering the increasing number of causalities the police has to take immediate steps to control the over speeding vehicles.

Opinder Kaur Sekhon, 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



MCM scuffle reaches police
Victim formally lodges complaint

Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Notwithstanding the efforts of the principal of the MCM DAV, Sector 36, Dr Puneet Bedi, to brush under the carpet yesterday’s fiasco, where a student was bashed up by a group of fellow girls outside the college gate, the matter reached the police with the victim, Priyanka, lodging a formal complaint today.

Accompanied by her brother and some other students, from the Geeta group, which had vehemently opposed Bedi’s presidential nominee in the now cancelled elections, Priyanka alleged that instead of taking action against the girls who had bashed her up, the principal had directed her to “abstain” from attending the college and talking to the media. “I am shocked at her attitude. Her ‘favorite’ students manhandled me and she asked me not to call police and assured action. But today, when I reached I was asked to avoid college for another 3-4 days”, she said.

She also expressed surprise at Bedi’s claims that she won’t take action, as the incident had happened outside the college gate. “If that was the case why didn’t she call the police yesterday,” she questioned. Surprisingly, while Bedi continues to be “unavailable” for comments and college authorities are in a denial mode, Jyoti, one of the accused, admitted that there was a fight. However, she maintained that the principal would take no action, as on previous occasions too she had refused to intervene in incidents occurring outside the campus gate.

Even the UT administration, in light of recent student election’s row, has reportedly taken strong exceptions to the principal’s role in the incident. Speaking to The Tribune, Raji P Shrivastava, director Higher Education, UT said, “A principal cannot shun her duty just because the incident happened outside the gate.”

She said the matter could have been resolved by prompt action based on prima facie facts. “I have discussed the matter with her and advised her to take immediate corrective steps”, she added.

Shrivastava said, earlier “outside elements” were being blamed for the escalation of the problems but this incident is college’s responsibility. “I have advised her to depute four teachers to investigate the matter impartially and ensure that justice prevails”, she said.

Repeated efforts to contact the principal for her comment proved futile. Meanwhile, the police has not registered any case and has called both the groups tomorrow for recording their statements.



Wings of freedom
Girls move from catfights to ‘dadagiri’ now
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Girls ganging up together and bashing another girl on the college campus tearing apart each other’s clothes… Group of ‘ likeminded’ girls browbeating their fellow hostel residents over their food habits, dressing style… Girls turning into ‘dadas’ and setting the rules for others…

These are just some of the instances that one gets to hear these days from college going students. Recent incidents of violence, volatility in one of the most prestigious college for girls in the city wherein almost the whole college was divided among two groups favouring their own candidates for contesting in students’ elections and there were repeated spats among the supporters of the two groups, has shaken the city’s academia and has shocked everyone.

If not more, these incidents are certainly indicators of a new trend, i.e. hallmark of males, violence and ‘dadagiri’ trickling down among girls on campus especially in hostels.

“Girls were never so violent, at least I haven’t seen during my tenure as a warden. Yes, catfights and arguments in residents were common over some issues but given the magnanimity of incidents that are happening around these days, it’s a complete role reversal”, said a warden of a local college hostel.

“Girls have taken over boys nowadays when it comes to ganging up and bully others. If so many girls of same age groups will stay together it is natural to have difference of opinion. But coming out of their cocoons suddenly and asserting things like this are recent occurrences”, said a PU warden on conditions of anonymity.

Probing reasons for such behavioural changes among girls, one would find that there is not single cause behind it. In fact, family backgrounds, feudal system, both superiority and inferiority complexes and unexpected independence, all contributes towards this recent change. Unlike in the past, when boys would boast of their influential family backgrounds and look down upon others and also bully them for the same, has gradually seeped in equally among girls, who come from rich families.

Remarking on the situation, professor of Psychiatry at GMCH-32, B.S. Chavan said, “It’s a natural reaction. Girls have been suppressed in our society for so long, but now they are liberal. Perhaps, in a bid to compensate for all that suppression, they sometimes over react in such situations. Girls with their newfound freedom sometimes think that if boys can break social rules why can’t they. But even our perception has to be changed. When boys break the rules we accept it, and when girls do the same we think it’s wrong. So some rethinking is also necessary on our part.”



AC reading rooms for girls’ hostels soon, says VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
Punjabi University vice-chancellor Dr Jaspal Singh today said their first priority would be to provide girl boarders with a well-furnished air-conditioned reading room in their hostels. This would give them ample time to study and save them the problem of going to the main library.

He said this while addressing students at a welcome function organised by the dean (students welfare) office at the science auditorium here today.

Due to early closing times of girls’ hostels, they could not sit in the library during late-evening hours.

On shortage of accommodation, the vice-chancellor said the problem would be eased out in next three months, as a new hostel would be ready by that time.

He, however, advised students to resolve minor issues at their own level.

Dean (students welfare) Dr Kulbir Singh Dhillon said the university had constituted a students’ welfare council as a representative of entire students community.

Students in the committee were drawn from each department keeping in mind their merit and performance in sports and cultural activities.

Some other committees and wings, he said, had also been constituted, including sexual harassment committee, anti-ragging committee, financial assistance to the poor students wing, students aid fund and scholarships for blind and handicapped students wings.

Special counselling and placements wings had also been formed for quicker absorption of students, he added.

Registrar Dr S.S. Khehra also addressed the students.



Students’ council yet to take oath
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
In a mockery of democratic norms and institutions, the newly elected students’ council of Panjab University, in a complete defiance of the system has reportedly refused to take oath and take charge of the office.

According to sources, the council members are firm on their stand and have vowed not take oath till the ‘kingmaker’ Brinder Dhillon, gets admission to the department of laws.

But if the elections observers are to be believed, history has repeated itself. Interestingly, in the year 2000, when SOPU came in power, on the day of elections itself, after the elections results were declared, there was a clash within SOPU among its leaders. As a result of the in-fighting, the oath taking ceremony, and assuming office was delayed by almost a month.

When contacted, Shashi Sharma, chairman of the department of laws said, “the matter is pending with the DUI and the university authorities.”

According to sources, Brinder Dhillon’s name figured in the FIR, registered against him and two others in the UILS stabbing case. It was Syndicate’s decision to suspend all those whose name figured in the FIR and their entry be banned on campus. It was due to this that he has been denied admission, even though, he has moved his application twice.

According to sources, on the other hand, another student whose name also figured in the same FIR has been given admission to the five-year law course.

However, Sahil Nanda, president of the newly elected council says, “We are in the process of making a list of demands for students. The day we take oath, we will hand over the list to the vice-chancellor immediately”.

The former leaders, however, completely disagree on this situation and the reasoning. They believe that this suggests that for the new council members, it’s their personal equations, which matter more than the welfare of the students.

Malwinder Singh Kang, former PU campus president and PUSU leader said, “Not taking oath for personal agendas would set wrong precedents among students. If they have any issues to settle, they can do them better being in power then being ‘powerless’.

Dayal Pratap Singh Randhawa, former SOPU leader and PU campus president said, “Whatever the reasons may be the university authorities must take initiative and should resolve the issue. At the same time it should not be a loss of an individual student or even the loss to the student community in the shape of a non-functioning of students’ council”.



PU Notes
Donations sought for flood-hit areas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Dr R.C. Sobti, vice-chancellor, PU convened a meeting with the presidents, general secretaries of various staff associations here today to discuss the contributions to be made for the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund for the flood victims of Bihar. It was decided that A class employees will contribute Rs.1000 each, B class employees will contribute Rs.500 each and C class employees will contribute Rs.250 each.

Committee constituted

The vice-chancellor has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of Dr Pirthi Pal Singh Kapur, to make recommendations for an early implementation of the project of construction of Guru Teg Bahadur Bhavan and for the development of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiat. The Committee has been asked to submit its recommendations before October 10. The Bhavan will be a vibrant centre for study of Punjabi culture, history and development of Punjab State and will have departments and Chairs.

Anti-arms campaign

Global week of action for control arms campaign was organised in School of Communication Studies (SCS), Panjab University by Amnesty International.

A report “blood at the crossroads”, making a case for Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) was released by Dr. Mohanmeet Khosla, chairperson, SCS.

A discussion on ‘Role of media in humanitarian crises’ was also held.



Rohan clinches debate title
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, September 19
Rohan Jain of Bhawan Vidyalaya was adjudged winner of the Association of British Scholar’s debate competition for Tata Steel Rolling Trophy organised at Satluj Public School here yesterday.

ABS Chandigarh chapter president D.V. Bhatia was the chief guest, while principal Krit Serai presided over the function.

Fourteen teams from schools of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali participated in the debate on “Sustainable development and climate change”. The judges include environmentalists and members of the ABS.

Ritu Mehta of Satluj Public School, Panchkula, was declared runner-up, while Shreya Khajuria of DAV Public School, Panchkula, finished third.

A consolation prize was given to Akshay Thakur of Mount Carmel School, Chandigarh. The top two winners will represent the ABS chapter at Jamshedpur on September 28 for the mega-final.



Ruskin’s story adapted into play
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 19
Class V students of YPS attended a theatre workshop conducted by Zubin Mehta. The workshop went on for over a month, during which students were taught expression through the medium of theatre.

“The Blue Umbrella,” a short story by Ruskin Bond was the final choice.

“It was amazing to see how a short story was developed into a full-fledged play,” Dr Dhillon, principal, said. “The script, songs and music evolved scene by scene,” the headmistress, Komal Anand, said.

The play would be staged at Moti Ram Arya auditorium, Sector 27-A, Chandigarh, on September 24.



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