C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


IAS officer commits suicide
Chhatwal was disturbed over a domestic issue and was under depression
Suicide note says no one should be held responsible for this step
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
A 1986-batch IAS officer of Punjab Avinash Singh Chhatwal allegedly committed suicide at his official residence in Sector 39, here this evening. Chhatwal was posted as secretary, science and technology and was also commissioner, NRI affairs.

The 48-year-old officer was said to be in a state of depression. He has reportedly left a suicide note stating that no one should be held responsible for his death. Friends close to the family said Chhatwal was apparently disturbed over a domestic issue.

According to the police, the incident came to light at 8.30 pm, when Chhatwal’s wife, Dolly, came back home from Ludhiana. She enquired about Chhatwal from their domestic servant Ashu, who told her that he had gone to sahib’s room around 8pm and found it locked from inside.

She went upstairs and knocked at the door. When her repeated calls went unanswered, she called the guards, who broke open the door. They found Chhatwal hanging from the ceiling-fan hook with a nylon rope. They lowered Chhatwal. Meanwhile, his next-door neighbour, UT finance secretary Sanjay Kumar, also reached there. They rushed Chhatwal to the PGI.

UT SSP S.S. Srivastva, while briefing mediapersons outside Chhatwal’s residence, said Chhatwal’s brother Manpreet Singh Chhatwal, who is posted as SDM at Amritsar, had come to meet him. They had lunch together around 4.30 pm and Chhatwal went to his first-floor room. Quoting the suicide note recovered from the room, Srivastava said the officer was under depression over some family issue and had said he was taking the step on his own and no one should be held responsible for it.

The police called the dog squad and experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) to examine the spot. Chhatwal battled for life at the PGI for over two hours and was declared dead at 10.30 pm. Chhatwal was also an MBBS doctor.

He is survived by his parents, two brothers, a sister, his wife and a daughter. His parents retired as teachers and live in Khanna. His daughter did her MBBS from Pune and is doing an internship at the Government Hospital Sector 16. She was recently married to a city-based doctor.

Chhatwal’s body has been kept in the PGI mortuary and would be given to the family after post-mortem tomorrow.



Face of the state for NRIs

The news of A. S.Chhatwal’s suicide has sent shock waves among the state’s bureaucracy. A host of bureaucrats, including the Punjab chief secretary R.I. Singh and principal secretary to the Chief Minister D.S. Guru, both close friends of Chhatwal waited anxiously along with the family in the PGI emergency. 

The entrance to the PGI emergency and internal roads were blocked with a line of VIP vehicles on both sides. An eerie silence prevailed at his residence in Sector 39 where the Chandigarh police was deputed with orders that no one be allowed inside. One of Chhatwal’s close friends said things could have been different had he attended office today. “He was to chair a meeting at 12.30 pm today and had postponed it for tomorrow as the government declared today a holiday,” he said. Friends said Chhatwal was a soft spoken and warm-hearted person and seemed to take life’s troubles in his stride. “He was a very good officer and his death is a grave loss to the state,” said finance minister Manpreet Badal. Born on June 24, 1960, A.S. Chhatwal, one of the most brilliant officers of the Punjab Government, joined the government in August, 1988, and served as a DC in Gurdaspur, Sangrur and Amritsar. He remained on deputation to Delhi from 1999 to 2004 and worked as private secretary to former Union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa before joining as chief administrator, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), and later served as MD, PIDB and MD, PAIC. As commissioner, NRI affairs, Chhatwal was the face of the state for Punjabis settled abroad and had successfully organised NRI sammelans in the state.



‘Lop-sided’ policy comes under a cloud
UT adopting different yardsticks for allotment & renting out grounds 
Pradeep Sharma & Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
The allotment policy of the Chandigarh Administration regarding the renting of the exhibition grounds for organising fairs has come under a cloud. With administration's two wings-the estate office and the municipal corporation of Chandigarh (MCC)-adopting different yardsticks for the allotment of the grounds, lack of coordination between them has come to the fore again.

The alleged favouritism shown by the Estate Office to a brother of Pardeep Chhabra, mayor of the municipal corporation of Chandigarh (MCC), in alloting a ground in Sector 34 for a Rs 1.7 lakh has brought under sharp focus the role of the VIPs in influencing the allotment.

Sources said the "ambiguity" governing the allotment rules were the reasons behind current controversy surrounding mayor's role.The estate office, which controls four exhibition grounds, including the exhibition ground in sector 34 which in the eye of the storm, rents out the grounds on daily basis on first-come-first-serve basis. While Rs 15,000 per day is charged for Sector 34 ground, the parade ground in sector 17 is rented for Rs 45,000 per day.

On the other hand, the MCC auctions the grounds. While there were no takers for Sector 17 circus ground, the one in Sector 34 fetched a whopping Rs 5.5 lakh raking up current controversy.

In the run-up to the new year during the festival season, there is usually a scramble for the exhibition grounds among the exhibitors to rake in moolah.And it is a common knowledge that various pulls and pressures are in operation for the allotment of the grounds during this season.

In fact, the controversy has provided political fodder to Congress' bete noire-the BJP-ahead of the Mayoral poll on January 1 and the Lok Sabha polls subsequently. Reacting the mayor's threat of a defamation suit, the BJP today claimed that it had relevant documents to prove the allegations in a court of law. The BJP also claimed that the MCC had written to the DC office on June 15,2007, opposing the allotment of the site.

Even as the BJP demanded a judicial probe into the matter, Chhabra tried to come clean on the issue claiming that no pressure was exerted on the DC office by his office in the allotment of the ground to his brother. While conceding that the policy governming the renting out of the ground was "flawed" official sources said the anomaly would be removed. In fact, the administration was seized of the matter and efforts were being made to bring about transparency in the allotment rules.



PGI strike called off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
After getting a written apology from assistant professor of the urology department, who allegedly slapped a senior resident doctor, the Association of Resident Doctors (ARD) called off their strike today. Over 800 resident doctors went on an indefinite strike after Dr Santosh Kumar refused to apologise to Dr Sanand who was allegedly slapped by him in front of OT technicians and other staff members last Wednesday. Doctors had stopped working in OPDs causing immense problem to patients who came to hospital this morning.

The PGI administration has forwarded a report of enquiry committee to the health ministry for disciplinary action against Dr Santosh as the committee has found him guilty of physical assault and abuse. 



Overriding safety
Most fatal accidents in the city involve two-wheelers, especially motorcycles 
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Over 40 per cent of victims of fatal accidents in the city are two-wheeler riders. This, despite the fact that the Chandigarh Traffic Police has booked the highest number of two-wheeler riders driving without helmets this year. The violation seems to continue unabated taking toll on city roads.

A study of road accidents conducted by the accident cell of the Chandigarh Police till October 16 this year revealed out of the total number of 122 persons killed on the city roads in various accidents, 50 were riding two-wheelers. The figures do not include the 152 two-wheeler riders, grievously injured in mishaps.

According to a traffic police officer, motorcyclists were the most vulnerable lot amongst the two-wheeler riders, as a large number of those killed and injured were found to be travelling on motorcycles. Out of the 50 persons killed, 27 were riding motorcycles while 89 motorcyclists were seriously injured in road accidents this year.

Explaining the reason behind the large number of victims of road accidents being the motorcyclists, the police said youngsters prefer motorcycles for their speed and easy manoeuvrability. Most of the accidents are results of test drives at break-neck speed and wide roads in city. A couple of years ago, a youth died while taking a test drive of a motorcycle. A few days ago a mechanic in Sector 48 motor market was killed while taking a test drive of a motorcycle.

Satinderpal Singh, an engineering student, told TNS that youngsters perform stunts on their motorcycles on roads during late night hours, when there are no traffic policemen on roads. One can see circles on roads by made such riders by skidding their motorcycles. Moreover, riding a motorcycle on the geri route without a helmet is considered a style statement.

The intensive challaning by Chandigarh Traffic Police to enforce traffic sense also failed to yield desired results. The traffic police booked 1,16,065 motorists for disobeying traffic rules and regulations, till September 30, this year. Out of these, 26,760 were two-wheeler riders booked for not wearing helmets. 


UT seeks probe report from school
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Taking the cognisance of the second case of alleged sodomisation of a hosteller at DAV, Sector 8, UT administration has sought a detailed inquiry report from the school authorities.

While school authorities left no stone unturned to hush up the matter administration is all set to deal with it with an iron hand. “Incidents like this are intolerable, I have directed the Principal to furnish me with all details and if found guilty I will ensure stern action.” Said Samwartak Singh, DPI (S) UT.

It may be noted following the rustication of a Ludhiana-based student for sodomising a room mate, this class six student has also levelled similar charges against him also naming a fellow classmate.

Following this revelation, the parents met the principal but refused to comment.

The incident has enraged many parents who are demanding more action rather than just a report. “I am shocked. This incident calls for a detailed investigation and surveillance of hostel activities by the administration as the school has failed to do so.” said an aggrieved parent.

A parent, on condition of anonymity, alleged that smoking and drinking is common and a detailed inquiry should be conducted to reveal facts. He even claimed that perversion is widespread. Another parent supported his claim and said, “I myself caught my ward with one such video that had been forwarded by a 
hostel mate”.

Most parents expressed concern over the efforts of those at the helm of affairs to push the matter under the carpet. The principal refused to comment on the issue.



Rodrigues flags off mobile clinic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
As part of the Gurta Gaddi Diwas celebrations, UT administrator S.F. Rodrigues inaugurated a mega medical camp and flagged off a fully-equipped AC mobile clinic bus launched by the Sri Guru Granth Sahib Sewa Society at the IMA Bhawan, Sector 35, here today.

Accompanied by Jean Rodrigues, the administrator went round different wards, interacted with members of the medical team and took stock of the facilities being provided at the hospital, which is free for poor patients and run on a “no profit no loss” basis for others.

Addressing the gathering, Rodrigues advocated the need for creating an environment of caring and compassion with focus on partnership and involvement.

In his welcome address, H.S. Sabharwal, general secretary of the society, said the mobile clinic with latest eye and dental equipment would conduct five camps in a week in the rural areas within 40-km radius from Chandigarh.



Home secy visits Burail jail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
UT home secretary Ram Niwas today visited Model Jail, Burail, to review the progress of the ongoing projects on the jail premises. He interacted with inmates of the jail and gave a patient hearing to their grievances.

During the visit, Ram Niwas was accompanied by IG (prisons) Mahabir Singh and DIG (prisons) N P S Randhawa. He examined the development of the ongoing projects, including visitor's room, kennel, female ward, staff quarters, creche and modernisation of the kitchen. He also inspected the facilities being given to the inmates.



PGI Strike
When patients writhed in pain
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Jatin Khanna of Ambala lay unattended in critical state at PGI emergency; Nine-year-old Abhinav (name changed) from Haridwar with a fractured bone awaited surgery in ortho surgery department; Muzaffarnagar Asmi’s operation at PGI’s neurosurgery department got postponed.

This was the fate of most of the patients today as they had to undergo harassment on account of the daylong strike by resident doctors of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER).

Helplessness among patients’ attendants was evident. “What can we do? We have no choice,” lamented Jatin’s relative, who had come to the PGI emergency with the hope that his cousin would be cured.

Jatin had been suffering from dengue and his condition was critical. Emergency doctor refused to treat him and he was told that there was shortage of staff due to strike.

Another patient’s relative complained: “I have been waiting for surgery since Friday but doctors have not showed up. Senior doctors are not able to give time to patients. There is no doctor whom we can approach at the time of emergency,” said Abhinav’s father.

“Who will be held accountable in case a complication arises?,” he said.

“Emergency surgeries were conducted, but several planned surgeries had to be deferred due to the strike. Planned surgeries can be held back for a day or two,” said a source in the surgery department.

According to Dr A.K. Gupta, medical superintendent, only 15 surgeries were conducted today against the regular 50 surgeries.

Although emergency patient care services and blood bank were kept out of the strike, patients suffered as rest of the staff were deputed in different departments.

According to the official figure given by the PGI administration, only 2,850 patients could get themselves examined today - 25 per cent lower than the average of 4,000.



GMADA seeks metro link for peripheral towns
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 20
For the integrated mass transit system in Chandigarh’s periphery, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has sought inclusion of major peripheral towns in the proposed metro project.

Taking up the issue with the Chandigarh administration, the GMADA has pointed that greater Mohali region, comprising peripheral towns like Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Lalru, Banur, Kharar, Mullanpur and Kurali need to be included while chalking out the metro transport corridors.

After being appointed as the nodal agency to watch the interest of the state in the metro project, which has Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh as the other stake holders, GMADA is keen that future growth potential, as projected in the integrated master planning for greater Mohali region ‘2008-2058’, gets a fillip with an integrated mass transit system, including road and metro.

GMADA chief administrator Vivek Pratap Singh confirmed that they were taking up the issue with the authorities concerned.

In its inception report on the comprehensive mobility study submitted to the Chandigarh administration last month, RITES has projected seven corridors. These includes two corridors touching Mohali and Zirakpur. But no mention has been made about the transport needs of the peripheral region.

The Punjab government pointed out that in the Chandigarh Inter-state Metropolitan Region Plan, prepared by the Town and Country Planning Organisation (TCPO), union ministry of urban development, a metropolitan or regional rail shuttle system had been advised for the region.

For the transportation needs, the recommendations had covered the entire Union Territory of Chandigarh and eight tehsils in its immediate periphery — four in Punjab and two each in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

Sources in GMADA pointed out that the heaviest public transport demand corridors were between Mohali, Chandigarh, Panchkula, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Lalru.

The total estimated number of trips distributed between these areas was around 96,000 in peak hour. This was 12 per cent of the 8,21,000 peak hours public transport trips. Several mass transit desire lines in the greater Mohali regional plan area have been projected.

Considering the coming up of the international airport, the proposed Mohali-Phagwara expressway, GMADA expressway and major road linkages to neighbouring states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, more metro transport corridors become imperative.



Kundi connection costs tenant his life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Gheesu Lal, a 20-year-old man, was electrocuted at his rented accommodation in Gobindpura locality in Mani Majra here this afternoon.

He was putting wet clothes on a line on the terrace of the house when the line came in contact with a live wire connected illegally to steal electricity. The police has arrested the victim’s landlord, Darshi Lal, on charges of causing death due to negligence, besides booking him for power theft.

The police said Darshi Lal had been stealing power through kundi connection. He was taking a rent of Rs 1,000 from the victim, including water and electricity charges.

Mani Majra police station SHO Hari Kumar said the incident took place in the afternoon. The victim was taken to the Government Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, where doctors declared him brought dead.

Gheesu hailed from Rajasthan and had been living with his cousin in the house. 



ICFAI students hold protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
Around 70 students of INC (ICFAI National College), Sector 25, of the current MBA batch staged a protest against the authorities today.

The students claimed that at the time of joining the institute, the course was affiliated with ICFAI University, Dehradun. However, around a month back, the college was renamed from INC to INC Adam Smith Institute of Management (ASIM) affiliated to ICFAI University, Tripura. The students alleged that in the middle of the session, the institute started following rules of ICFAI , Tripura, instead of ICFAI, Dehradun.



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