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Mystery shrouds death of cop
Tribune News Service

A jinxed sector?

Sector 39 has seen several incidents of the suicides of the government officials, including a senior IAS and an IPS officer and even a murder of the policemen in the past. A couple of weeks ago, a senior Punjab IAS officer A.S. Chhatwal found hanging at his official residence. Over a year ago a senior IPS officer had also shot himself to death at his official residence. A security guard was shot dead by his colleague last year in the circuit house; besides this, two policemen had also committed suicides in the past in the sector.

Chandigarh, November 2
Mystery shrouds the death of Bal Mohammad, a constable in India Reserve Battalion (Punjab Police), who was found shot dead in a park behind the Punjab Circuit House in Sector 39, here, in the wee hours today. He was in his late thirties.

The police is exploring possibilities, including suicide, accidental fire or some foul play behind the death. The bullet hit the deceased in his chest and pierced through the body, ripping apart his back. The police called Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory (CFSL) experts to examine the spot to unravel the mystery behind the death.

The body was found lying on a bench placed under a thatched shed in the park at around 1.45 am. The self-loading rifle (SLR) belonged to the deceased constable was lying between his legs while his body was reclining on the bench. An empty shell, suspected to be fired from the SLR, was found lying a distance of about three feet on the left side of the body.

Some bullets were also found lying under the feet of the deceased while an empty magazine, along with some utensils, was lying on another bench in front of the cop.

The death came to light at when head constable Harmail Singh, the contingent in charge, called up Bal Mohammad on his mobile phone at 1.30 am as his (Mohammad’s) duty was scheduled to change at 2 am.

When Bal Mohammad did not reply to his repeated calls he went to look for him and saw Mohammad reclining on the bench. When he realised that the latter was no more, Harmail Singh informed the superiors, who further reported the matter to the police.

Though no suicide note was recovered from either the body or the deceased’s room, the SHO of the Sector 39 police station, Janak Rana said circumstantial evidence suggested that it was a suicide.

The victim’s brother, who reached the spot from their native village, Bara Pind in Ropar district, however, claimed they did not find anything amiss with him, when he visited them two days ago.

Expressing doubts over the suicide theory, a forensic expert said, there is less likelihood of one shooting himself in the chest to commit suicide. The length of the weapon is another factor, which contradicts the suicide theory.

Moreover, the deceased was wearing shoes, which also makes it doubtful as to how the trigger was pressed.

About the magazine and bullets found scattered on the spot, the DSP (Crime) KIP Singh said it was normal as in some cases a bullet remains lodged in the chamber even after a magazine is removed.

Bal Mohammad is survived by his wife, three daughters and a son. The police shifted the body to the Sector 16 Government Multi-Specialty Hospital for a post-mortem, which would be conducted by a board of doctors. Meanwhile, the police has initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code in this connection.

HS Doon SP (Traffic), officiating in the absence of SSP SS Srivastva, who is on leave, said so far it seems to be a case of suicide but they would wait for the CFSL reports to clear doubts over the death.



Hide facts — What a way to tackle dengue
Unconfirmed reports say the number of dengue patients has crossed 1,000 and malaria 30,000 this year
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
With dengue and malaria cases being reported from the town as well as other parts of the state, the local municipal and health authorities have failed to either sensitise or penalise people generating the conditions leading to breeding of mosquitoes.

The vector-borne disease programme office of Haryana is being looked after by an officiating director and his deputy , reportedly, seldom attends the office.

However, the officials concerned have devised a novel method to tackle the problem. The best way to get rid of the problem is not to disclose the number of patients suffering from the disease, they believe.

Whenever efforts were made to know about the number of patients suffering from dengue in the state, the officials asked to contact others.

When the director-general, health, Dr Avinash Sharma, is questioned, the director suggests to visit the office of the director (malaria) to know about it. But officials at this office refuse to divulge details, saying that they have been instructed by the director-general not to disclose anything, especially to the media.

“We have been instructed not to disclose the figures to the media”, said Dr A P Sodhi, deputy director, malaria programme, when contacted by the reporter on the phone on October 17 as he was not available in his office.

When he was informed that the director-general had asked the reporter to contact him, Sodhi asked the reporter to come to the office after two days again. But despite several visits, Sodhicould not be contacted in his office .

Dr O. P Mittal, director, Laboratories and Family and Welfare Programmes, now the officiating director, malaria, when contacted last week, also refused to speak on it saying that he was not allowed to disclose the figures.

However, when his attention was drawn to the fact that his deputy was never available in the office, “I too could not meet him for the past many days,” he replied. “I have asked him to explain his position in writing but his reply was yet to be received, he said. Dr Sodhi, however, when contacted today on the phone, asked the reporter to visit the office tomorrow.

Still unconfirmed reports suggest that the number of dengue patients has already crossed 1,000, leading to deaths anywhere in double digits and the number of malaria cases is not less than 30,000 this year in the state.

While the situation in Gurgaon was the worst in the state with the number of dengue cases is more than 500, it was equally bad in Panchkula where 85 suspected cases have already reported at different hospitals.

A total of 53 cases have already been found positive. Last year, only 14 cases were reported from the district. The district also witnessed a rush of malaria patients with 136 cases of malaria.

Not only the lack of will on the part of the authorities, the resource crunch also hit the efforts of staff.

The district has been allocated a meagre Rs 1,10,000 for insecticide spray to control dengue and malaria.

The municipal authorites also failed to take action against the poeple who have accumulated the used tyres and empty containers on their roof tops or other places in the town.

According to the World Health Organisation, the hidden sites of aedes' (the mosquito responsible for dengue) breeding are unused tyres, said Dr Pankaj Garg, senior consultant, Fortis, Mohali.

In Sector 11, Panchkula, there has been a spurt in dengue cases in the past two weeks. Anil Goyal, a manager in the LIC, was admitted to the PGI last week with low level of platelets. Kulraj Sharma, a chartered accountant, had all of his three kids suffering from dengue.

However, the authorities have failed to identify the breeding ground in the automarket behind the main showrooms in Sector 11, Panchkula.

On the roofs of several workshops, there are heaps of tyres lying in the open along with loads of waste materials like broken utensils and drums. Rainwater in these items is the perfect place for the aedes mosquito to breed and spread dengue.



Rape case
Two accused get bail
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 2
Even before the police could identify all the accused in the rape of a 17-year-old girl, one of the two accused arrested in the case has managed to get bail.

Aman Ahuja, a resident of Sector 10, was arrested by the police on September 21, when the victim informed the police that he used to rape her and even made a porn movie on her.

The victim, a student of Class XII in a local school, was allegedly raped and tortured by five persons on September 16.

The girl in her complaint lodged with the police alleged that four youth, with the connivance of a girl, abducted her from the town and took her to a village in Punjab.

However, the victim could not furnish the names and addresses of the accused, except one Jatin and girl Chhavi. Later the police arrested Aman when during investigation the victim named him as a former accomplice of the accused of rape.

The victim, when contacted, said Aman and Jatin used to blackmail her on the basis of a movie made on her in a hotel at Mani Majra.



Cricketer’s Accident
Compromise between Ishaan and local youths?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Even after a lapse of 24 hours, the police failed to take cognizance of yesterday’s late-night accident involving ICL cricketer Ishaan Malhotra and two local youths.

Despite the fact that one of the injured, Jasleen Singh, sustained serious head injury, the police seems to be playing down the incident, terming it a minor accident.

The parties too seem interested in reaching a compromise. Talking to The Tribune, the SHO of police station, Sector 3, Har Sahai Sharma said, “It was not a big accident as the side of Ishaan’s sports bike just touched the bike being ridden by youths, Jasleen and Vikram Singh. Unfortunately, Jasleen, who was riding the bike, lost balance and received injuries, while Ishaan and Vikram escaped with minor scratches.”

It seems that the youths did not want to lodge a complaint against the cricketer, the police official added. Both Jasleen and Vikram perform kirtan in Sector 8 gurdwara.

Vikram said the statements would be given only after consulting the general secretary of the gurdwara. “I don’t want to comment till general secretary of the gurdwara comes.”

When asked whether they were thinking of reaching a compromise with the cricketer, Ishaan too held that he had talked with the mother-in-law and wife of Jasleen, and had offered to support the treatment of Jasleen. “I think they are not contemplating filing any police complaint,” said Ishaan.

According to police sources, the accident occurred last night around 9.30 pm in front of the Sector 8 gurdwara. Ishaan was coming on his Yamaha sports bike (HR17-4980) from Sector 8 market towards the gurdwara, while Jasleen and Vikram, riding a Bajaj Discover motorcycle (PB11-5013), were taking a turn to the right side to enter the gurdwara.

“I was not over-speeding as it was not possible to run bike on high speed when you are about to take turn,” said Ishaan, who claimed that the speed was not more than 60 km and he was going to hotel Taj after having his dinner in the Sector 8 market.

“All of a sudden, a motorcycle took a right turn and stopped in the middle of the road, seeing my approaching bike. I applied breaks and fell down,” said Ishaan.

On the other hand, Vikram claimed that they had blinked an indicator and driving the bike at a high speed by Ishaan was the reason of the accident.

Meanwhile, doctors treating Jasleen at PGI, said he developed a blood clot in his head. “The clot can result in a critical condition,” he said.


Victims of ’84 riots await relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Even after 24 years of 1984 riots in Punjab, the victims have not been provided relief or any compensation by the UT administration.

Though many of them had written to the government of India several times wherein it was mentioned that the report of Justice Nanavati Commission of inquiry into 1984 riots to release an ex-gratia amount of Rs 3.5 lakh in each case of death during the riots, a large number of them had not received the grant.

Talking to the TNS, president of Pantak Vichav Manch, Baljit Singh Khalsa said, “There are 3,000 victims of 1984 riots who have not been provided relief. We are not expecting any punishment to be pronounced by the court to the miscreants of the massacre. But the government can at least provide us with the compensation.”

Elaborating on the riots, Baljit narrated, “I had a flourishing business of transport till the fateful year. My taxis were set on fire by few miscreants and my residence in Sonepat was also burnt to ashes. I had nothing left with me and am staying with my brother in Chandigarh. Though I have opened a PCO in Sector 40 but have got no compensation as such.”

Harmohinder Singh had a similar story to tell. Presently, a successful businessman, Harmohinder said, “I was well settled in Dehradun and had no plans of moving out. But the anti-social elements burnt my shops because of which I had to shift to Chandigarh.”



Qualifications of govt staff can be ‘disclosed’
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The educational qualification of a government employee, especially if it is acquired while in service, cannot be a purely personal matter and can be disclosed under the Right to Information Act (RTI), the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) has ruled.

Disposing of a petition filed by an army officer, Lt- Col Pavinder Ahluwalia, seeking details about the legal qualifications of another Lt-Col from the Judge Advocate General’s Department, the CIC has held denial of this information by the Army on the grounds that it was exempted under certain provisions of the RTI Act, was unjustified.

Stating that for jobs in the government, clear educational qualifications were laid down, the CIC observed that the number of degrees, diplomas and certificates that a government employee possessed at the time of joining the service or later in service, were facts that were fully in the public domain.

The petitioner had sought information regarding the acquisition of a law degree by the officer, including the name of the college, the year of his joining the law course, the name of the university and whether permission was required and granted for joining the course while in service.

The CPIO at the Army Headquarters had denied the information on the grounds that it was exempt under Section 8(1) (j) of the RTI Act “being personal information, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or it should cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual”. The First Appellate Authority also rejected the appeal filed by the petitioner.



More youths going in for breast surgery
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Seventeen-year-old Arvind (name changed) is obese and he loves to swim. But he doesn’t do so as he hates to take off his shirt in public. It’s not the flab on his tummy that bothers him but the glandular overgrowth on his breast is the real reason for his embarrassment.

There are many more like Arvind, who feel in a similar manner. According to experts, enlarged breasts commonly caused by the hormonal fluctuation of puberty. But in some cases, there is a glandular overgrowth on breast due to some hormonal imbalance or excess fat due to obesity that embarrassed a person but it can be reduced either by removing fat or glandular tissues.

According to the experts, breasts are also a focus for men with male breast reduction or “gynaeconmastia”. As per figure available with the PGI, nearly 40-50 males (majority are of 13 to 19 years of age) underwent surgery in a year to reduce the size of their breasts.

“Adolescent boys are willing to resort to surgery to fix problems with their bodies,” Dr RK Sharma, plastic surgeon, PGI, said.

"Looking good is the primary factor for today’s male, irrespective of the age. With financial power in hands and awareness about the treatments available, they are ready to find some quick fixes to his flabby, saggy imperfections,” adds Dr KM Kapoor, cosmetic surgeon, Fortis Hospital, Mohali.

Dr Kapoor said the treatment of gynaecomastia usually entails a combination of tumescent liposuction contouring and direct removal of excess glandular breast tissue which is too fibrous to be removed and shaped by liposuction technique alone. It is easier to treat the condition in men who are close to ideal body weight.

A modern man is ready to spend and answers Dr Sharma, “Men who come to us are ready to spend anything between Rs 10,000-50,000, once they are convinced about a treatment and the effect it is going to have on them.”



City has highest vehicular density
UT moots strict parking norms
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
With the city having the highest vehicular density in the country, the Chandigarh administration has proposed strict parking norms for different categories of buildings with a view to use the existing parking space in an optimum manner.

In fact, the building bye-laws notified by chief administrator-cum-finance secretary Sanjay Kumar recently made it compulsory for the two kanals and four kanals commercial buildings to have two equivalent car space (ECS) per 100 sq m of the built-up area. And for one acre and above plots, four ECS per 100 sq m of the built-up area has been proposed.

Keeping in mind the parking chaos outside the schools, 20 per cent of the total plot area would be devoted to parking on the surface. In addition, 33 ECS per acre of plot would be created in the basement.

For the nursing homes, the norms are three ECS per kanal of the plot area and on pro rata basis thereafter.

While the mandatory norms for the multiplexes/malls have been pegged at four ECS for 100 sq m, for the cinema halls that ha ve been converted into the multiplexes, it would be four ECS for 100 sq m for one acre and above. However, for the plots under one acre the management would provide two ECS for the 100 sq m.

Similarly, for hotel sites, one ECS for every three rooms would be mandatory while for the commercial area, including restaurant, banquet and conference halls, four ECS per 100 m would have to be provided.

According to the byelaws for the institutional sites and IT park, two ECS per 100 m would be applicable for area less than one acre. However, for area above one acre, four ECS per 100 sq m would be needed.

In the backdrop of the parking problems in the residential areas, the buildings on one kanal or above shall have parking facilities equivalent to one ECS per floor of the building with the condition that no vehicle belonging to owner and tenant would be parked outside the building.

The owners of the existing buildings, who want to avail the benefits of additional volumetric control through the amended bye-laws, shall be granted the benefit only if they upgraded the parking facilities, the bye-laws warned.



Hired beggars a common scene in city
These children earn from Rs 75 to 100 per day, but get
just 30 per cent of their earning and the rest
70 per cent is pocketed by their gang leaders
G. S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Mind it, begging has taken the shape of “full-time profession” in the city. So, next time you come across a child asking for alms, shed away all sympathy.

For, this child might be part of an “organised gang” having hundreds of such children on its roll.

Investigation by The Tribune team revealed that these children earn from Rs 75 to 100 per day, but get just 30 per cent of their earning and rest 70 per cent is pocketed by the gang leaders. Remember Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Traffic Signal”.

Looking at their massive presence at almost all the traffic signals, it appears that it is not the “migratory birds” who prefer to come to Chandigarh seasonally but “migratory beggars” too.

Coming from places like UP and Bihar, they find this place to be conducive for their “profession”. They also pose accident threat as they just run in all directions when the signal turns green.

In the absence of any strict action against these organised gangs, they flourish their “business” and causing utter nuisance to residents, besides being a liability on the city.

Be it Sector 22 market, bus stand, Sector 17 market, cinema halls, parking lots, railway station or any of the red-lights in the city, these small “professional” kids can be seen everywhere. They dress up as shabby as they can; they touch feet, throw all kinds of tantrums, and drop tears, and murmur in a helpless voice and ask for money.

Sources in police department also confirmed that a larger chunk of small children belonging to slum colonies, generally broken homes, fell easy prey to the front-runners of this profession. These children gather in a specified colony falling in slum areas like colony No 5, Ram Darbar, and are ferried to their designated places in “cab”, they said.

While the youngest of the gang members are let off and told to gather money, the mid-operatives, who act as liaison between the children and the gang leaders and are referred to as “bara bhai”, generally work in the same area as roadside vendors.

The moment these children make some money, these mid-operatives immediately come and collect the same from them.

The practice is evident near Neelam Cinema in Sector 17, at Aroma Chowk in Sector 22, Sector 35 and at Press Chowk in Sector 18, where the gang works in a perfect manner. Small children seek alms while the elder girls, who are mid-operatives, work in the guise of roadside vendors selling pranthas, cigarettes, posters etc and keep an eye on them.

To top of all, here, the beggars are choosers too. Give them a 50-paisa coin, and they would ask for a bigger denomination, the embarrassment one faces in front of others.

Pinki, an eight-year-old girl belonging to Indira Colony, confessed that after her mother had deserted her, she, along with her three-year-old brother Radhe, was being looked after by the “bara bhai” who gave her back Rs 20 to 25 daily.

Eight-year-old siblings Shiva and Pinky do not beg but earn by the brother playing drums and pinky performing acrobats.

They said they ended up earning Rs 50 to 100 per day. They said the policemen harassed them, but not those who gave money.



Illegal sale of LPG cylinders
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, November 2
In the absence of a home delivery of LPG cylinders in the UT villages, a Sector 8-based distributor has been illegally carrying his operation from a park in a residential locality in the sector.

Residents of the locality alleged that the illegal practice has not only caused inconvenience to their children, who cannot play, but also has posed a grave risk in the case of fire.

As per the rules, the LPG cylinder cannot be kept in a large quantity in an unprotected area surrounded by the residential area. Even godowns of the LPG cylinders are constructed at the outskirts of the city.

In this case, one of the gas agency is openly flouting the rules with impunity in the absence of any action against them.

Consumers complained that they were also subjected to harassment as it was not sure whether they would get a refilled cylinder even after waiting for over six hours.

When officials of the gas agency were contacted, they said, “Sometime back the officials of the company talked to the customers and decided that the consumers will get the refill cylinders from the office.”

A harassed consumer, Ujagar Singh of Khuda Ali Sher, said, “The distributor is not delivering the cylinders in the villages, but the city-based residents are easily getting the delivery at their residence.”

A senior official of the Chandigarh administration said, “These types of activities are against the building bye-laws and a proper action will be taken against the law violators.”



CITCO has miles to go and promises to keep
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
“Promises are made to be broken” might be a cliché but it fits the working of the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation Ltd (CITCO), if the semi-completed upgradation work at Hotel Parkview is any indication.

After it was unable to meet the earlier deadline of August 31 for completion upgradation of Hotel Parkview in Sector 24, the CITCO has failed to keep the promise of meeting the next deadline that had been fixed at October 31.

If the employees of CITCO are to be believed, it was decided at a Board of Directors meeting held in March last that the Hotel Parkview in Sector 24 would be readied in its new ‘avatar’ by October 31. But it could not be done by the due date.

The employees alleged that this unwarranted delay has caused loss to the tune of lakhs. Hotel Parkview has a history of earning massive profits and they (employees) are the ultimate losers. They also demanded the need to impose a ‘penalty’ on the contractor who has been entrusted with the task of upgrading the hotel.

With an infrastructure of 66 rooms and with additional 24 new rooms for budget accommodation, the reopening of this hotel has eagerly been awaited to help meet the requirements of domestic and budget tourists.

The matter of its ‘reopening’ was discussed in a joint meeting of representatives of employees and the CITCO management on September 4. At that time it the view was that the time limit to finish construction may be fixed, so as to avoid unprecedented losses.

On the other hand, the management agreed that work was expected to be completed by October 31 but the deadline was fixed for November 30 by which time, everything would be done. “The date of completion of the job in the tender was fixed as November 30. By that date, the work would be completed. We never announced the completion date officially as October 31”, said Amit Talwar, the Chief General Manager of CITCO.

Nevertheless, Kashmir Singh and Yashwant Singh, Chairman and President of CITCO Workers Union, respectively, alleged that the timelimit for construction of both Hotel Parkview and Hotel Mountview was decided in their joint meeting with the management and October 31 was the date given by the management. They also alleged that the management is shielding the contractor despite his “incompetence” in completing the project on time.

“It was unanimously decided in the meeting that work at Hotel Parkview would, under any circumstances, be completed by October 31 and there would be no further delay in it. It was also decided in the meeting that if the contractor failed to meet the deadline, he would have to face action and a penalty would be imposed on him for the delayed period. But, thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the management, till date, nothing has been finalised on the issue yet”.

Besides, major upgradation work pertaining to the addition of another 66 rooms to Hotel Parkview, will make it the biggest hotel with 170 rooms in Chandigarh. With an average occupancy of 88 per cent, this hotel is being seen as largest ‘budget hotel’ in the region having scripted profits of Rs 1.59 crore for the financial year 2007-08.

The CITCO’s drive to upgrade the facilities in Hotel Parkview also falls flat because the renovation work is being done on first and second floor only and the third floor would be kept semi-finished.

The activities would come to a halt when work on the third floor starts. Experts believe that finishing should always be started from the top floor downwards to avoid spilling over of construction wastage.



Cooler nights and nippy air mark onset of winters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
With monsoon having prolonged its stay in city, the winter season has not only knocked city doors at the right time but the increasing difference in day and night temperatures confirms normality of ‘season’s cycle’.

“Nowadays, while day temperature is generally around 30°C it falls up to 12°C at night. The delay in retreat of monsoon has ensured a normal onset of this season,” Chattar Singh, director of the meteorological department, Chandigarh, said.

While the difference might seem normal to the department, city inmates are finding it hard to cope with and have pulled out all woollens from their closets.

“I am generally in my cottons during the day but have to slip a sweatshirt or pullover in evenings. It has also disrupted my schedule of morning and evening walks as the lake is foggy at times.” Ritu, a regular at Sukhna lake, said.

“There were speculations of winters being delayed and more chilly, however, they are almost here but the disparity between day and night temperature is a problem. While we spend our days in AC, nights are spent cocooned in warm blankets.” Sheraz, a sector 45 resident, said.



Kannada Rajyostava celebrated
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 2
The Kannada Sangha celebrated the foundation day of Karnataka, Kannada Rajyostava, at a function here today.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Punjab cooperation minister, was the chief guest at the function held at the Pracheen Kala Kendra in Sector 71.

The Kannada Sangha demanded a piece of land from the government for the construction of a temple. The chief guest assured them that the demand would be fulfilled. A cultural function was also organised on the occasion.

The Kannada Sangha has been organising blood donation camps and distributing medicines and clothes in old-age homes and orphanages.



Hry Roadways staff harsh with Ambala couple
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The much-hyped claim of Haryana Roadways of a ‘happy and safe journey’ fell flat with an elderly couple approaching city police against the staff of the roadways bus for their rude behaviour.

Ruing over the misbehaviour of driver and conductor of the Haryana Roadways bus bearing registration number HR58 8860, Ambala cantt-based Anil Kumar Mehta said: “The driver and conductor not only abused me in front of all the passengers, but also forced me and my wife to get out of the bus midway.”

Mehta, who is an auditor in local audit department, Haryana, was going to Ambala cantt along with his wife Suman Mehta.

“Around 5.55 pm, we took the bus from Labour Chowk, Sector 20, after the conductor confirmed that the bus will stop at Ambala on its way to Delhi. But when we asked for the tickets, the driver said as the bus would not stop at Ambala, we would have to get down immediately. I requested him to drop us at Zirakpur so that we could get the bus to our destination. Getting enraged, both the staff members started abusing us and forced us to get down of the bus at Sector 29,” said Mehta.

Mehta also brought the matter into the notice of K. K. Kalsan, general manager, Chandigarh depot of Haryana Roadways.

“I will look into the matter, and if found guilty, an appropriate action would be taken against the driver and the conductor,” said the general manager.

Meanwhile, the couple also lodged a written complaint at police station, Sector 31, against the staff members.



Minister promises old age home at Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 2
The decline in moral values has become a challenge for society and hence, it is everyone’s responsibility to make efforts to restore traditional values, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Punjab cooperation minister, said here today.

The minister, who was speaking at a function organised at Shivalik Public School by the Senior Citizens Association, said today about 40 per cent of the population fell in the age group of 15 to 39 years.

People in this age group were slowly beginning to adopt an indifferent attitude towards the elderly. Therefore, it was necessary to make efforts to once again shift the focus to the traditional values.

The minister gave an assurance to the association that an old age home would be set up in the town by the government. He announced a grant of Rs 51,000 to the association from his discretionary funds.

Association chairman and former chief secretary PH Vaishnav said there was a need to set up a state-level body for the benefit of senior citizens.

Vaishnav said local organisations were making efforts to better the lot of senior citizens but no wave had been created in that direction.



Resolve pay issue of soldiers, minister urges PM
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 2
Punjab Defence Services Welfare Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh today demanded intervention by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in resolving the pay issue of defence personnel as faulty recommendations of the 6th pay commission had generated much anguish in the armed forces.

Addressing a gathering of ex-servicemen from five districts here today, the minister said soldiers were fighting on double fronts as India was facing internal and external threat, but their morale had come down drastically after the faulty recommendations by the 6th pay panel which had removed the equality which armed personnel shared with their civil counterparts.

He appealed to the Prime Minister to take up the matter which he had earlier taken up with the defence minister of the country.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the SAD-BJP government was taking care of the needs of the ex-servicemen and was committed for their well-being. He said the government had decided to amend law on the pattern of one for NRIs of the state for summary disposal of cases concerning the lands of ex-servicemen.

He said apart from this, status of non-skilled class category for the ex-servicemen recruited by PESCO had been changed to skilled class which would help in an additional income of Rs 800 per month apart from other benefits.

He said to promote the recruitment and for helping the children of ex-servicemen, the Punjab government had opened four training institutes.

He said these centres were providing free training for preparatory exams of different fields, including the NDA and others. He also disclosed that the government had decided to amend the policy for providing facilities to families of the pre-1999 war heroes.

The minister said the government had issued instructions to the deputy commissioners and district police chiefs in the state to respect the ex-servicemen. He said those officials found guilty in this matter would face action. He asked the director, defence services welfare, to appoint deputy director-level officers at the district level for coordination among civil servants for disposal of routine cases of the ex-servicemen.

The minister gave an appointment letter to a widow of war hero, besides distributing cheques for Rs 5 lakh each to 16 families of slained war heroes.

Earlier, Brig Kuldeep Singh Kahlon welcomed the minister and other dignitaries. Among those who spoke on the occasion were Jasjit Singh Bunny, chairman, Punjab State Cooperative Bank, Maj-General CS Panag, Col Bhag Singh, president IESL (P and C), Brig H S Ghuman, former director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, Lt-Col PIS Phoolka, president, SAD ESEL Cell, Punjab.



Common problems in clinical practice discussed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The Chandigarh state branch of Indian Medical Association (IMA) organised a one-day annual continuous medical education programme (CME) on “Common Problems in Clinical Practice” at Dr P.N. Chhuttani Memorial IMA complex, today.

Prof Raj Bhadur, director, medical education and research, Chandigarh administration, inaugurated the CME and delivered a guest lecture on disaster management. He focussed on the preparedness of government agencies, health authorities and almost every organisation to set up a disaster management cell.

Dr Zora Singh, state president of IMA, Chandigarh, apprised the audience of the need of holding such programmes for updating the knowledge of medicine in this era of rapidly advancing technology.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr A.K. Kaushal, secretary, IMA, Chandigarh, highlighted the academic activities of the IMA. Prof Krishna Vij stressed upon the ethical issues and evidence-based medicine. Prof B.S. Chawan talked about the management of critically ill patients, especially those suffering with sepsis.

Dr Alka Sehgal stressed upon the genetic counselling and antenatal screening while Dr P.K. Saha gave an overview of the management of eclampsia. Over 150 delegates attended the workshop.



Engg institute celebrates foundation day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering (IETE) celebrated its foundation day at its centre here today.

The theme for this year was “Information and Communication Technologies for the Common Man”.

In his inaugural address, chairman of the institute’s local centre Dr Pawan Kapur emphasised the use of information and communication technology for rural India's development through a variety of applications in agriculture.

He also talked about the importance of electronics, computers, sensor technology and information technology for the common man in the changing socio-economic environment.

Prof M. Syamala Devi, from the computer science department of Punjab University, and Neelesh Kumar, from CSIO, also delivered presentations. Senior founder member of the institute Col A. J. S. Gill (retd) was also honoured.



4,000 take part in library competitions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
The civilisations which do not take care of books, cannot survive for long. The libraries should take up the preservation and care of rare and valuable documents.

This was stated by Col J S Bala (retd), secretary, Sikh Education Society, Chandigarh, while presiding over the annual prize-distribution function of competitions organised by the Chandigarh Librarians’ Association (CLA) at SGGS College here today. The function was organised by the CLA in collaboration with the library department of the college.

Earlier, Harpreet Kaur Sangha, principal of the college, applauded the efforts of the association to inculcate reading habits at the grassroot level.

General Secretary of the CLA Jaspal Kaur said in today's function, more than 150 prizes were awarded to the winners of the second phase of the competitions. She further said more than 4,000 students from various schools and colleges of the tricity took part in these competitions.

Entries were invited in nine events--collage making, cartoon making, essay writing, handwriting, bookmark making, book-jacket making, caption and slogan writing, and poster making.

The running shields for bagging maximum prizes or for maximum participation were won by Shivalik Public School, Mohali, Government High School, Nayagaon, Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 35, Chandigarh and Dev Samaj College, Sector 45, Chandigarh.



Award for Hemant Goswami
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Hemant Goswami, a local social activist, recently received the Extraordinary Award for exceptional and outstanding commitment as dedicated tobacco control activist.

The award was handed over at a ceremony in Bangkok, Thailand, during the Asian Regional SRNT Conference. Hemant is one of the four awardees chosen from across the world to receive the award.

The other three awardees, who received the award, are the Government of Panama, Inter-American Heart Foundation of Mexico and Thailand’s minister of health.



Doc to present research papers in US
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 2
Dr Ashok Sharma, director, Chandigarh Cornea Centre, has been selected to present two research papers at the American Academy of Ophthalmology conference, to be held on Nov 7-11 in Atlanta, USA.

Dr Sharma will present two research papers titled “Deep anterior lamellar keraoplasty in the treatment of large corneal perforations” and “Multi-layered amniotic membrane transplant combined with intra corneal amphotericin-B in severe resistant fungal corneal ulcers.”

He had recently started performing a new surgical procedure of cultured limbal stem cell transplant to benefit corneal blind patients for the first time in north India. The facility for cultured limbal stem cell transplant is available at a very few centres in India.

Dr Ashok Sharma will be attending a sub-specialty meeting on cornea and will share his experience of managing corneal diseases in this part of the developing world on the very first day of the conference.

During his visit, he will also travel to Baltimore in the USA and will meet eye consultants of Maryland, John Hopkin’s University and Tissue Bank International.



Office-bearers elected
Tribune News Service

Chanidgarh, November 2
Madhu Bahl, principal KB DAV SSS, Sector 7-B, and Dr. G. P. Pal, director of physical education, Sector 19, GMSSS, have been elected unanimously as president and general secretary, respectively, of the Chandigarh North District Netball Association.

This was decided in the general house meeting of the association affiliated to the Netball Association of Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, R. Sharan, general secretary of the association, told that the 1st Chandigarh North Senior District Netball Championship has been scheduled to be organised in the third week of November.



But, why take this risk?
Raveen Thukral

When it comes to following rules, we Indians certainly can't claim to be the best at it. At every given opportunity we (exceptions are always there) try to circumvent or break rules and our city streets are perhaps the best places to witness our scant respect for the law of the land and our lack of concern for not only the lives of the others but our own too.

You'll surely agree with me that driving in this city is becoming chaotic by the day. Though the ever increasing vehicular population is a reason for the roads getting clogged, it isn't the only one.

Our driving habits and the undue haste which we all seem to be while on the roads also contribute in a major way to this chaos.

Though the figures of the violators booked by the Chandigarh Traffic police may not reflect the magnitude of the problem in totality, since most offenders still manage to go unchecked and undetected, they are nevertheless alarming.

Till September end this year, the city police booked 1,16,065 drivers for various offences. And believe it or not roughly 25 percent (26,760) pertained to helmetless driving by two-wheeler riders.

With majority of the women, who constitute a fairly large number of two-wheeler drivers' population in the city, already not wearing helmets, under the garb of the exemption given to their Sikh counterparts, these violations are not the correct indicator of the problem of helmetless driving, which needless to say is immense.

A recent study of road accidents conducted by the Chandigarh Police (till October 16, 2008) revealed that every fourth person dying in a road accident in the city was a two wheeler driver/rider.

In other words, 40 percent of the 122 people who died in road accidents this year, 50 were two wheeler drivers/riders. Besides 152 two-wheeler riders were grievously injured in mishaps.

Police officials attribute these high numbers of fatalities among two wheeler riders to the thrill of speed (in case of motorcycles) and their easy maneuverability, which often ends up in dangerous accidents.

While the police has no segregated data to indicate whether the victims of such accidents were with or without helmets, possibilities of fatalities in the latter are obviously higher.

In India, over 90,000 people die every year in road accidents. Despite having less than one percent of the world's vehicle population, India has the highest accident rate with 300,000 mishaps every year. And needless to say, two wheelers, which constitute 70 percent of the vehicles on our roads, contribute the most to the fatalities.

Studies have shown that one of the major reasons for fatalities among two wheeler riders is head injuries and pillion riders, who are thrown off the vehicle by the impact of the collision, are more prone to sustain it.

And despite the proven fact that helmets can prevent or lessen the gravity of such injuries, most two wheeler drivers avoid using them.

Though Section 129 of Motor Vehicle Act makes it mandatory for two wheeler riders to wear protective headgears, with an exception to the Sikhs, its implementation remains a problem.

Advertisement campaigns and challans seem to have had a little impact on the minds of two wheeler drivers who continue to flout rules, knowing well the dangers involved in it.

Religious reasons apart (though one may not agree with it), there can be no justification for not using helmets. And when other methods have failed, perhaps some stringent measures may do the trick.

My suggestion may sound outrageous to some but I see no harm in equating a helmetless driver to a person willing to commit suicide, since both very well know the consequences of their act.

So why not start treating those who get killed in road accidents because of head injuries without helmets as cases of suicides and those who survive as cases of suicide attempts, if investigations prove the onus of the accident on the two wheeler driver?

If this is too hard to implement, why not for a start amend the Insurance Act and deny any sort of compensation to helmetless accident victims in case of head injuries. Though this will not stop accidents, they might encourage use of helmets and prevent fatalities as several studies suggest that a helmetless driver is three times more at risk of loosing his life than the one wearing the headgear.

And when it's also an established fact that head injuries are the sixth most common cause of death, so what is the harm in preventing them by some stringent and perhaps outrageous ways. After all it's a question of human lives.

Write to cityeditor@tribunemail.com.



Make property affordable

This is with reference to Raveen Thukral’s article in the column ‘City Scope’, “This real estate business” (27 October). It is very true that after food and clothing, shelter is essential for everyone. But even after six decades of our independence, millions of people are living under the sky.

In the 1960s, when the concept of “socialistic pattern of society” was evolved by the then Congress regime, a number of agencies such as Housing Boards, Housefeds, etc. were established to provide shelter to the shelterless and the main aim was to construct houses and to provide these to the shelterless at affordable rates.

The price fixed by the Chandigarh Housing Board, not only for EWS flats, but for different categories of flats in Sector 63, which the writer has referred, is not only beyond the means of a common man, but even that of working couples. Had commercial banks not come to the rescue of the intended applicants, there may not have been an appreciable number of applicants for these flats.

Experience shows when more than two years back, the CHB had fixed price of Rs 32 lakh for two bedroom flats that had abruptly escalated the prices in the real estate market and since then it has been continuously inflating and is going beyond the reach of the common man.

Apart from it, I agree with the writer that the administration or any other agency like CHB should construct thousands of flats and allot them to genuine and bona fide users on fixed lease with stringent legal embargos on transfer and sub-letting so as to discharge its primary socio-economic responsibility.

S.K. Khosla, Chandigarh


It’s bizarre to see that even as the city population is growing at an alarming rate, the UT administration doesn’t have any special policy to provide people with affordable housing. The authorities concerned would do well to realise that the problem can’t be eradicated by simply denying housing to those in need, or by simply pushing housing out of bounds.

Rajesh Krishan, Chandigarh


The UT administration had conducted an auction of residential and commercial property recently and the administration has earned more than Rs 95 crore. The global meltdown has put the investors and people in a spot due to the recession in the market. The American recession has resulted in a negative fallout for the Indian real estate market too.

The article rightly said the percentage of people who go back to their native places after spending the productive years of their lives in this city could not make their own roof. Houses have become unaffordable for middle and lower middle class families in the tricity.

The administration should not give land to five-star deluxe penthouses built by private builders and real estate manipulators, the administration should give land to societies as was done earlier.

Sahil Garg, Chandigarh


It is true that thousands of people, who have made this city their home still do not have a house that they can call their own. The percentage of the productive years of their lives in this city is minimal and the way the land prices have escalated in the past decade, housing has become unaffordable for middle and lower middle class families.

There is no doubt that the Punjab and Haryana government, Central government as well as the Chandigarh Administration have totally failed to provide the housing needs of such people. The flats should be constructed by the governments in their area surrounding Chandigarh on a no-profit, no-loss basis and allot these flats to genuine and bona fide users only on a fixed lease.

Sumesh Kumar Bhadwar, Mohali


It’s right that Chandigarh has been successful in maintaining a sustainable property price graph over the years despite stagnation and recession in the market. I agree that the state must not become like realtors but must control prices of real estate, so that the middle and lower class can also own a house.

Even in the prevailing global meltdown, Chandigarh has maintained its status as one of the most sought after destinations for buyers of residential property. The sustainable price of residential properties is due to the influx of the migrant population, which has resulted in an increase in the demand for houses. I disagree that penthouses and five-star aprtments must not be built because otherwise where would business delegations and tourists go?

Opinder Kaur Sekhon, Chandigarh


There are many people who have been living in this city for many years. They have contributed a lot to make this city a beautiful city to live in. But the UT administration has never bothered to care for their need of having their own home in the city. The administration is more interested in making money and letting the rich take over. I lived in this city for five years from 2000 to 2005. Now, I am in Toronto. I still wonder, if ever I can afford a house in Chandigarh.

Harnek Singh, Canada


It’s true that the realtors and authorities seem hand-in-glove to exploit the scarcity of land in Chandigarh. With every auction, land prices sky-rocket despite global recession. It is a well-known fact that many property agents form a cartel to manipulate prices of property. Thus their already booked properties fetch far above the genuine prices.

The Housing Board came into being with the objective of providing affordable housing for all. Now, its profiteering trait has since altered to throw out the middle class from the city. The day is not far when City Beautiful will be nicknamed capital of ‘Rich and famous’.

The decisions of the administration are being influenced by affluent builders and politicians. The equilibrium between the rich, middle and lower classes has been disturbed. The city originally built for government servants has virtually gone out of their reach.

Suresh Khosla, Panchkula


I appreciate your efforts in highlighting this issue. Actually we all have the right to live not to be sucked.

Balwant Singh Sidhu, Canada

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.



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