C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


ASI arrested on sodomy charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
The police today arrested an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) on the charges of sodomy.

ASI Dalwinder Singh, posted at the Sector 26 police station, was arrested for allegedly sodomising a teenager at his Sector 20 house last night.

The victim is a Class XI student of a private school. According to police sources, the victim in his complaint alleged that he was sitting at a bus queue shelter in Sector 30 when the cop came on his motorcycle at around 10.30 pm and forced him to sit on the bike.

“After filling petrol from Sector 28, the accused took the boy to his house and threatened to shoot him if he did not concede his demand,” the sources said. The cop later dropped him at his house around 4.15 am.

The parents of the victim said he told them about the incident after an hour, following which they approached the police.

On the other hand, the accused claimed that he was being implicated in a false case. He claimed that he was on duty from 10 pm to 2 am.

The accused said he was on his way to his house when he saw the boy sitting alone at the bus stop. “On being enquired, he alleged that his parents had beat him up. He also requested me to drop him at Sector 42, but I took him to his house and also met his parents,” he claimed.

The SHO of the Industrial Area, Yash Pal Sharma, said: “We have arrested the accused and got the medical examination of both of them done at the GMSH-16.”

The cop has been placed under suspension and a case under Sections 342, 377 and 506, IPC, registered against him.



Tearful adieu to Jasmine
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 28
Amid a charged atmosphere, Mohali residents bid a tearful adieu to Jasmine, a 22-year-old hotel management student who died in the terrorist attack in Mumbai on Wednesday night.

Expressing solidarity with the aggrieved family, mourners converged at the Phase IX house of Maninder Singh Bhurjee, father of the girl and a DIG with the ITBP, to pay their tributes to Jasmine.

There was palpable anger against the terrorists who snuffed out a young, innocent life.

A group of hotel management students from Shimla were also present. Around 2 pm, her body was flown in from Mumbai. Her father, mother Deep and Gurgaon-based brother Parmeet accompanied the body.

After family was in a state of shock and expressed its inability to say anything on the tragedy. Fighting his tears, Bhurjee accepted the condolence of his colleagues.

“We wanted to bid her adieu, but not this way. She was the only daughter in the family who was still not married,” her aunt said.

Though there were several senior ITBP and some police officials, no senior official of the Punjab Government was present. A mourner remarked that it was unfortunate that senior officials did not have time for such families who had lost their loved ones to terror.

The mortal remains of the girl were consigned to the flames at the Mohali crematorium around 4.15 pm.

Among those who paid tributes were Jasjit Singh Bunny, son of Capt Kanwaljeet Singh, and Rajinder Singh Rana, Mohali MC president. On behalf of the Mohali district administration, Harpreet Kaur, naib tehsildar, Kharar, paid the tributes.

Meanwhile, Major-Gen J.S. Kang (retd) and his wife, who lost their daughter-in-law Neeti (43) and two grandchildren, Udhay (14) and Samar (5), in the terror attack on the Taj Hotel, have reached Mumbai. His son, who is a general manager with the hotel, is already in Mumbai.

While he was away, his wife and sons were trapped in a bathroom when the terrorists set a portion of the hotel on fire. It is learnt that the police has not been able to recover the bodies as the terrorists are still holed up in the hotel and the gunbattle is on.



Mumbai Attack
Singapore students call off visit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
The visit of students from Singapore to the city has been called off in the wake of the Mumbai terror attack, the education department has informed.

Students of Anglo Chinese Junior College were supposed to visit the city on December 1 for a cultural exchange programme with city schools.

“They have written a mail to us, expressing their inability to visit the city until March next year.

They said the education ministry and foreign affairs ministry, Singapore, had cautioned them that India was not safe right now,” Rajpal, PRO of the education department, said.



‘Pilfering’ of heritage furniture
Professor’s role under scanner
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
Ajay Pandey, a professor at the Government College of Arts, here could be in the dock for allegedly “stealing” the heritage furniture at the college hostel. It is being said that he has resigned following the allegations, but it could not be confirmed.

While the principal, Archana Shastri, acknowledged the incident, she refused to confirm the resignation, saying that it was an internal matter.

The incident came to light last night when following suspicion, the warden checked the belongings of two students, Joginder and Pawan Tikku, who were leaving the hostel for Delhi and recovered dismantled “antique” furniture, which according to unconfirmed reports was designed by Le Corbusier.

“The boys have completed their studies and were leaving the hostel. When their truck was about to leave, the warden checked it and found the furniture.

The boys said that Prof Ajay had requested them to carry some of his stuff in the truck, but he denied it outright.

They kept levelling allegations against one another,” an eyewitness revealed.

Some hostellers, on condition of anonymity, said: “We packed their belongings and knew what they were carrying.

They did mention that Ajay sir had asked for a favour and wanted his stuff to be taken to Delhi. When the theft came to light, he denied it.”

The police reached the hostel and was requested to leave by the principal who wanted to deal with the issue internally.

Hence, no complaint has been registered so far.

She claimed to have recorded the written statements of the boys and said an internal inquiry would be ordered.


Mumbai spectre haunts opening
Agriculture minister, CMs give it a miss

Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
The terror strike in Mumbai has taken the fizz out of the biennial agri business fair, Agro Tech 2008, organised by the CII here today. Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, who was supposed to inaugurate the four-day event, had to cancel his appointment in the wake of the strike.

But farmers, for whom this fair is organised, turned up in huge numbers to see the latest on offer.

Chief ministers of Punjab and Haryana, who were scheduled to be present at the inaugural function, too, cancelled their programme and did not attend the inaugural function.

While Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda was away to Narwana, his Punjab counterpart Parkash Singh Badal did not attend the function on account of state mourning being declared because of the death of former Prime Minister V.P. Singh.

After much deliberation, it was finally left to union secretary, agriculture, T. Nanda Kumar, to inaugurate the Agro Tech 2008.

The international participation in the fair was also low. Though the organisers in the CII denied that the Mumbai terror strike had prompted any company to withdraw its participation from the fair, a number of international agri-corporates that the CII had earlier claimed would participate were not there at the fair.

However, thanks to the awareness created by the CII, farmers from across the region converged on the fair arena in large numbers.

Beating the cold, farmers from all over Punjab and Haryana were here to watch the latest that the agri machinery industry had to offer. The maximum rush of farmers could be seen at the stalls set up by tractor manufacturers.

With farmers having reaped a rich harvest this year, thanks to a bumper wheat and paddy crop, they were eager to examine the agri machinery on offer, so that they could buy it.

Sukhjinder Singh, a farmer from Khumano, said the international arcade had a lot of new innovations on offer. “Some of the companies are offering their wares at competitive rates. Some of these foreign companies are also offering their machinery at a discount,” he added.

The farmers were also enthused with the latest farm machinery like potato ridgers, harvesters and diggers, sugarcane hoppers and cereal dryers, which would help solve their problem of labour shortage.

Balwinder Singh, a farmer from Sahnewal, said he was examining the codt factor of these machines, which would reduce the manual labour in the farm.



Export of veggies, fruits picks up
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Farm products on display during Agro Tech 2008 in Chandigarh
Farm products on display during Agro Tech 2008 in Chandigarh on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, November 28
Fresh vegetables grown in Ludhiana have found a market in the United Kindom, Middle East and European countries. The demand for baby corn, French bean, sugar snap and capsicum has been increasing by 35 to 40 per cent every year.

The trend of exporting fruits and vegetables has picked up in the region in the last two years. A number of small farmers got together and formed companies to deal with the export of agro products of this area.

Talking to The Tribune, Harpinder, quality executive of Bharti Del Monte, who is in Chandigarh to participate in the Agro Tech, said the demand for fresh agro products of India were gaining market abroad as they met their quality.

He said in the past two years, the demand for vegetables in the UK had shown remarkable increase. Referring to the last export figures of baby corns to the UK, he said last year his company exported about 50 tonnes and there was an increase by 15 to 20 per cent every year. Besides this, Fresh bean and capsicum export figures had also shown a hike.

Fruits like apples and mangoes are also in high demand in West Asia. He said last year, they had exported around 300 tonnes to West Asia. They were also planning to approach Holland in this regard.

The assistant general manager of the export development authority stated that farmers were showing keen interest in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables suitable for export with a belief that they would get good cost for their products in the global market.



Global Meltdown
Chandigarh still buyers’ first choice
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

A residential complex comes up in Zirakpur, where construction activity has slowed down owing to the global meltdown
A residential complex comes up in Zirakpur, where construction activity has slowed down owing to the global meltdown. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Chandigarh, November 28
Even as severe recession hits the real estate market in city’s periphery, Chandigarh continues be to buyers’ first choice for owning the dream house.

With the freehold marla and kanal houses going out of the reach of the common man, thousands of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) flats and dwelling units constructed by cooperative group housing societies in phase-III sectors (48 onwards) continue to catch the fancy of the end users and real estate investors in the city.

In fact, the global meltdown seems to have little effect on the prices of flats in the city, with the CHB recently allotting a two bedroom apartment for around Rs 40 lakh under its assured allotment scheme. The three-bedroom flat had fetched a price of over Rs 68 lakh.

“The world-class infrastructure in city pulls the prospective investors and end users, including NRIs, to the city. With scores of mega projects, including the Sarangpur institutional area having film city, education city, amusement park and equestrian academy, coming up in the city, Chandigarh is being seen as the city of the future as compared to other traditional cities,” claims Tarlochan Singh Bittu, a former president of the Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula Property Consultants Association.

Echoing similar sentiment, Anand Mukherjee, a native of West Bengal, who recently bought a three-bedroom flat in Sector 48 here, said Chandigarh was like an oasis of marvellous urban planning in the concrete jungle, which the other cities of the country had become in the wake of the haphazard urban growth.

Despite slight deterioration in the civic amenities over the recent past, it is still the best place to live in India, added Tarsem Chand Sharma, another resident of Sector 50.

Observers claimed that even in the era of global meltdown the property prices, particularly those of flats, were stable here. Since Chandigarh has a limited area of 114 sq km, thousands of people want to buy a house here.

Though there are reportedly not many takers for ultra-luxury apartments like Parsvnath’s Prideasia and Uppals’ Marble Arch, the common flats of the cooperative group housing societies and the CHB continue to draw customers much to the surprise of the observers.

With the price differential between flats being offered by private builders in the periphery and the CHB in Chandigarh not much, the obvious choice among people is to buy property here.



Housing project mgmt slashes prices in P’kula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 28
The global recession has hit hard the real estate market in this satellite town. While property dealers received no inquiries for the last more than one month, the housing projects managements have reduced the prices with flexible payment conditions.

Even the number of housing loan applications from retail buyers reaching at banks has been reduced to less than half what it was few months back.

“There was ample business in the real estate in the month of May this year,” said Rajesh Oberoi, a dealer in real estates. “However, the number of inquiries started dwindling and for the last more than one month it was a total blackout in the business,” he added.

Similar were the views of Vinod Katyal, a property consultant, in Sector 20.

“We were receiving dozens of inquiries every month and at least one deal was materialised, but for the last two months even a single genuine inquiry was not received,” he said.

While the buyers were in the wait of a big correction in the high rise prices, sellers were not ready to sell, hence there was a lull in the market, said Katyal.

The condition of coming up of housing projects in the city was no different. Flats at much-hyped 18-storeyed housing project in Sector 20 were available at a price less than 10 per cent what it was a couple of months back.

Satish Mehndiratta, a property dealer involved in the sale of flats of this project, when contacted, offered the four bedrooms flat at a price of Rs 2,950 per square feet. The company price of the flat, which would be ready within the next three years, was at Rs 3,380 per square feet, he claimed.

Similarly the flats at another project taken up by a reputed group were available at a price of Rs 2,900 per square feet against a price of Rs 3,250 per square feet being quoted by the company a few months ago. Moreover, the company was ready to bear the interest of loan borrowed by the client till the possession of the flat.

A look at a site of property on the Internet also shows that the flats were available in housing societies between a price of Rs 2,000 and Rs 4,615 according to the location and the accessories of flat.

The inquiries and applications of loans against the purchase of properties have reduced to less than half of what was the figure just three months ago, said a bank manager in Panchkula.



‘Dream home’ a distant dream in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 28
With recession hitting the real estate market for the past few months, the construction activity in a number of housing projects has come to a standstill on account of resources crunch, which the builders are facing.

Hundreds of buyers who have invested in Chandigarh’s periphery, particularly Zirakpur, already find their investment trapped, as there are few takers for the property.

A coloniser said they had been pushing hard to sell their prime properties on account of the upcoming international airport and a newly constructed flyover. Vijay Arora, a coloniser, said there was a fall of 30 per cent to 40 per cent in the sale and purchase of property. He admitted that condition in Zirakpur was not good.

By rough estimates, there were over 4,000 flats lying vacant in Zirakpur and neighbouring areas. Such situation existed in Kharar and surrounding areas in Mohali district.

The worst-affected are the buyers, including investors and the end-users, who have invested lakhs of rupees by way of instalments, but are unable to get the possession of their “dream home”. Uncertainty prevails as the prospective buyers are at their wits’ end about getting the possession of their dwelling units.

Quoting statistics, a cross-section of the builders claimed that with real estate business turning into a profitable business, a number of promoters had invested the money earned from the investors in buying lands in the other areas. However, the existing projects seemed to be nobody’s baby.

Meanwhile, with the civic amenities failing to keep pace with the haphazard urbanisation in Zirakpur, several projects have become “unviable” as they did not have proper approach. The large-scale commercial construction, specially the construction of shopping malls-cum-multiplexes, have either blocked the approach or made it congested to certain housing projects.



Conversion Fee
Beopar mandal seeks waiver for upper floors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh Beopar Mandal office-bearers at a press conference in Chandigarh
Chandigarh Beopar Mandal office-bearers at a press conference in Chandigarh on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, November 28
The Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM) today demanded permission of general trade on the upper floors of commercial buildings without any conversion charges.

“This will provide relief to thousands of small and medium traders and give boost to the general trader,” CBM president Charanjiv Singh said at a press conference here.

Appreciating the recent amendments to the building bylaws, Charanjiv Singh said the process of notices issued with regard to violations should be withheld till the amended building bylaws were formally notified and made applicable by the Chandigarh administration.

Bouquet for Rodrigues, brickbat for Bansal

CBM chairman M.P. Kohli praised UT administrator S.F. Rodrigues for taking interest in the framing of the new building bylaws. However, he came down heavily on politicians (read union minister of state for finance Pawan Bansal) for their failure to spare a thought for the traders over the year. Kohli had recently joined a traders’ outfit floated by BSP convener Harmohan Dhawan giving rise to accusations that he had “compromised” on the “non-political” character of the CBM.

CBM’s building bylaws sub-committee chairman Vinod Joshi said the issue of self-certification of residential plots by architects was under active consideration of the administration. He urged the administration to consider self-certification by architects in respect of commercial buildings also.

Meanwhile, mandal spokesperson Diwakar Sahoonja claimed that in the recent notification the covering of back courtyard in all SCFs, SCOs, including Sectors 7 to 26, had been allowed with both-side opening.

The SCFs converted into SCOs in the Phase I sectors (1 to 30) have been allowed full coverage of the back courtyards on the pattern of SCOs in the Phase II sectors (30 onwards).

The authorities have also principally agreed to allow depressing of ground floor up to 4’ instead of 2’-6” for creating mezzanine floor with a view to maintaining clear height of 8’ in respect of ground floor and mezzanine floor.

It has also been agreed to allow provision for display and providing of separate signboard for ground, first and second floors of SCFs and SCOs in all sectors, the CBM leaders added.



Land Acquisition
Admn going soft on migrants: Panel
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
Close on the heels of the UT farmers protesting against low land compensation, the original inhabitants of the UT villages have charged the Chandigarh administration with giving them a raw deal vis-à-vis migrants, who are marked for special treatment in the backdrop of the rehabilitation schemes for them.

In fact, the Pind Bachao Committee has sent a representation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in the matter. “If villagers construct their house outside the ‘lal dora’, the administration demolishes their houses and also charged fine. However, in case of migrants, who are illegal encroachers on government land, the administration issues them ration cards and voter’s identity cards, virtually legalising their encroachments,” the representation alleged.

Also, the administration had been acquiring land at very low rates as compared to the neighbouring areas of Punjab. On the land acquired by the administration for public purposes, including parks, migrants put up illegal rehris right under the nose of the enforcement staff. This coupled with illegal jhuggis on the government land had been going on for a long time in connivance with the government officials, the representation alleged.

Committee president Angrej Singh Badheri alleged that the administration was bent upon finishing the very existence of original villagers, who earned their livelihood by running small shops in the village abadi area. In fact, the administration had decided to charge Rs 1,300 per sq yd for the commercial use of land.

Badheri alleged that votes were four times more outside the village abadi area than in the village. This would mean that the original villagers would never be in a position to represent their village because of the influx of illegal migrants, who naturally enjoyed political patronage on account of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, he rued.

Demanding a probe into the “illegal settlement” of migrants to bring out the involvement of officials, Badheri demanded an immediate end to the “forcible acquisition” of land in the UT villages.

Besides, jobs for the kin of the persons whose lands had been acquired and withdrawal of commercial charges were also demanded by the committee.



Water that sheds weight?
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
A sip of water can help reduce tummy and stress of being overweight! “Fit Water”, which claims to do the wonder, will soon be available in the Indian market. This will not only help cut down gym schedule but also show positive results on the body, claims a Canada-based company.

“No antibiotic, no gym and no tight food chart — just consumption of fit water will help lose weight,” says the company, which is here to participate in the Agro Tech Fair.

It is planning to launch “Mr and Miss Fit Water” containing minerals that will help “reduce weight”.

Talking to The Tribune, Canadian Gold Beverages Inc. director Solomon Budala said they had already launched the product in Canada and were now planning to introduce it in India.

He said they were targeting young clients, as these days they were more aware about health.

Talking about vitamin water, which has recently become a common beverage choice in global market, he said it was marketed as a healthier alternative to soda and juices, with a more agreeable flavor than water. He stated that they were also looking for distributors for its sale in India.

He said there was a fascination about vitamin water among people, as it was “loaded with all sorts of vitamins”.

The idea behind making the product was that it would become an alternative to antibiotics for fulfilling the paucity of vitamins in the body.

As it comes in exotic fruit flavors, with fewer calories than both juice and soda, it has become a rage among people back in Canada, he claimed.

Budala added that most vitamin waters that were available in the global market were expensive.

He added that the company would take special care while pricing the product in the Indian market.

He said there was a certain lure about vitamin water. The idea behind making the product was that it would become an alternative to antibiotics for lack of vitamin in body.

He said the company was displaying flavoured water for the first time in India through Agro Tech 2008. He added that they had brought out the water in six flavours — lemon, cherry, kiwi, passion fruit, raspberry and strawberry — for sale in India.



India Posts launches ‘WorldNet Express’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
To speed up delivery process, India Posts launched “WorldNet Express” in partnership with German postal services company Deutsche Post yesterday.

“India Posts has tied up with Deutsche Post’s courier service DHL. Till now, our Speed Post service was transporting packages and parcels to only 97 countries but after this association we can deliver packages to 224 countries,” chief postmaster general of Punjab P.R. Kumar told mediapersons here.

“Earlier, Speed Post delivered parcels in six to seven days but now WorldNet Express will make the delivery in only three to four days. DHL has its own planes and delivery vans so we won’t have to wait for space in other flights,” Kumar said.

The service was launched simultaneously across 232 post offices in all major cities of the country, he added.

In the tricity, this service will be available at six post offices i.e. Sectors 14, 19, 22, 47, Speed Post Centre in Sector 17, and Sector 55, Mohali, said Kumar.

Explaining the features, he said: “People only need to bring the delivery material to the post office. We will provide weatherproof and tamper-proof packing material and boxes free of cost to the clients and our officials will pack their material. Articles up to 32 kg can be booked for delivery.”

The clients can also monitor online status of the delivery, said Kumar.



‘Mechanised farming need of the hour’
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

T. Nanda Kumar Chandigarh, November 28
The sustained growth rate in agriculture and the shortage of labour has now propelled the government of India to come up with a policy on complete farm mechanisation. The ministry of agriculture is now mulling a policy to promote farm mechanisation through custom-hiring.

This was stated by the union agriculture secretary, T. Nanda Kumar, on the sidelines of the agri business fair, Agro Tech 2008, which he inaugurated here today. “If we want the agriculture sector to grow, we have to go in for farm mechanisation. Since this is an expensive proposition, we are in the process of creating a workable policy on farm mechanisation,” he added.

Last year, the agriculture sector grew by 3.5 per cent, thus showing a marginal decline (from 3.8 per cent in 2006-07). This despite the fact that agriculture accounts for 17 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In wake of the economic slowdown, agriculture is the only sector in the Indian economy that has been able to sustain its growth. “Farm mechanisation is the only way to increase farm productivity, output and growth,” said the secretary.

Though Kumar refused to comment on diversification of food crops in the wheat-paddy intensive states of Punjab and Haryana, he said that states cannot afford to loose their crop productivity. “Though states can add value in horticulture and other allied activities, Punjab or Haryana cannot reduce their productivity,” he added. He said both states had contributed the maximum in both wheat and paddy to the Central pool, thus helping in making the country self sufficient.

The union agriculture secretary also added that allied agriculture activities had to be given an impetus so as to give a fillip to agriculture. “We had recently reviewed the horticulture in various states and found that though production is growing, the lack of post harvest management, transportation and food processing is stalling its growth. It is here that the private sector can play a proactive role,” said Kumar, adding that they were aiming at a six per cent growth in horticulture and floriculture alone.



Baba Farid remembered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
“A common man was the main concern of Sheikh Baba Farid and other Sufi poets,” said Justice Syed Afzal Haidar, a judge of Shariat Court and former law minister of Pakistan, while delivering a special lecture on “Sufi thoughts of Sheikh Baba Farid”, organised by the department of Punjabi, Panjab University, here today.

Justice Syed Haider, a well-known scholar of Sufism, said Baba Farid was the originator of the concept of “spiritual democracy”in medieval times of feudal monarchs. He elaborated the common ideological and theological basis of Sufis and gurus and established that both these great traditions shared common cultural heritage and value patterns. In the end, he said female foeticides was against teachings of both gurus and the Sufis. He urged the Punjabis on both the sides to wage a war against female foeticides to save their human values and cultural traditions.

Badar Muinuddin Chisti, a direct 27th descendant of the family lineage of Sufi saint Sheikh Baba Farid from Pakistan, was the chief guest on this occasion. He also shared his views on the life of the saint. Earlier, Nahar Singh, while welcoming the guests, said medieval Punjabi literature, culture and folklore were rich heritage of Punjab and provided common cultural base to unite all Punjabis beyond their religious values.

On the present scenario in Pakistan, he said, “Things have changed and improved in a big way and both women and minorities enjoy all the rights equally.” He also gave a message of brotherhood, humanity, love and affection between both the countries. Refusing to comment on the present situation of the country in the wake of attacks in Mumbai, he said, “ No political questions please.” Interestingly, he has written around 24 books on different subjects ranging from law and constitution. He has also translated Sukhmani Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, in five different languages, including English, Gurmukhi, Roman, Shahmukhi and Urdu.



Signals Officer-in-Chief on two-day visit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
Lieut-Gen P. Mohapatra, Signals Officer-in-Chief of the Indian Army and Colonel Commandant of Corps of Signals, arrived at Chandi Mandir today on a two-day visit to the Headquarters Western Command.

During the visit, Lieut-Gen Mohapatra had discussions with Lieut-Gen T.K. Sapru, GOC-in-C, Western Command.

Thereafter, he was briefed by Maj-Gen Rajesh Pant, Chief Signal Officer, Headquarters Western Command, who apprised General Mohapatra of the recent improvements in the field of communications and information technology.

Later in the day, the General Officer attended a tea party with veteran Signallers of the tricity.

A social evening was organised in honour of the General Officer in Western Command Signal Regiment Officers Mess, which was attended by all Signals officers in the station.

Tomorrow, the General Officer will address a Sainik Sammelan of all ranks of Corps of Signals.

General Mohapatra has vast operational and staff experience and has participated in Operation Parakram, Operation Hifazat and Operation Rakshak.



Panchayat Polls
Election panel announces schedule
Tribune News Service

State election commissioner O.K. Kelker at a press conference in Chandigarh
State election commissioner O.K. Kelker at a press conference in Chandigarh on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, November 28
The state election commissioner, UT, Chandigarh, today announced schedule for the November-14 elections to gram panchayats in the city.

While the filing of nominations got under way today, the last date for filling of nominations would be December 3.

The scrutiny will be held on December 4 and the last date for withdrawal of candidature has been fixed for December 6, state election commissioner O.P. Kelker said.

Every candidate for the general election of a sarpanch or panch shall be proposed by one elector and seconded by another elector of the same gram sabha.

A candidate can spend up to Rs 10,000 on election-related activity.

The model code of conduct has been enforced in all gram sabha areas of the above villages with immediate effect and shall continue to be in force up to December 16, the date of declaration of the results, he said. There will be 27 polling stations in all 12 gram sabhas. Every polling station will be manned by one presiding officer, five polling officers and one class IV employee. While deputy commissioner R.K. Rao has been appointed the general observer, chief auditor of the municipal corporation R.S. Kang will be expenditure observer, he added.



Pilot project takes off, grounded
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 28
The pilot project of providing medical consultation in super-speciality hospitals to residents free of cost at the district level, has been scrapped within a week of its inauguration in Panchkula after it was observed that there was no use of it without having proper infrastructure to manage such kind of patients at the respective hospitals.

Special clinics in the evening, however, will keep running as per schedule at the General Hospital in Sector 6.

The Haryana financial commissioner and principal secretary, health, Anuradha Gupta, had inaugurated the clinics to be held between 3.30 pm and 6.30 pm as an experiment, aiming at providing free of cost super-speciality services at the district level on November 3.

It was planned that the experiment would be extended to other districts after evaluating the outcome of the pilot project in Panchkula.

It was decided that doctors from local hospitals would provide consultation to patients with complaints of hypertension on Monday while asthma cases would be dealt with on Tuesday. Cases related to menopause and puberty had to be taken up on Wednesday. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, doctors from Fortis Hospital, Mohali, were to provide consultation for problems relating to diabetes, endocrinology, cardiology and neurology.

In addition, the hospital staff was to run an oral health clinic throughout the week.

The principal secretary, health, said the government had decided not to hire the services of super-specialists for these clinics after it was observed that the patients in need of such treatment were to be examined by the doctors only where they could also be managed. And providing facilities like cardiac surgery or cath lab at the district level was not possible as of now, she said. Hence, it was decided not to waste energy and money on such an exercise, she said.

However, special clinics were being managed by postgraduate doctors at the hospital. The government was in the process of recruiting 800 doctors, including 500 specialists, she said.



Shun smoking to avoid heart attack: Expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
“Smoking is a major cause of heart attack in men. And, if a diabetic continues to smoke, that will be a deadly combination,” says Prof Jagat Narula, chief of division of cardiology, University of California, Irwin, while delivering a lecture during Berry Memorial Oration at the PGI today. The orator spoke on “Who get the heart attack?”.

Dr Narula delivered a talk on the issues facing clinical cardiologists and discussed various ways of tackling the problem on a global scale.

He cited the threats of tobacco on public health across the world and suggested an eight-point strategy to prevent or postpone heart problems.

“Smoking is the single most common risk factor for developing a heart attack. Even 2-3 cigarettes a day increases the risk of developing a heart attack by 40 per cent,” he said.

The next important lifestyle modification that one must undertake was increasing the physical activity, he added.

“One should aim for a goal of at least 30-45 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on most days of the week. Aerobic exercise is the one that is helpful for the heart.

This includes walking, jogging, cycling or swimming,” he added. “Sedentary lifestyle and addiction to dangerous habits like smoking should be checked,” he said.

Community cardiologists suggested people to avoid tobacco and not to allow children to get addicted to it.

Prof (Dr) K.K. Talwar, director, PGIMER, welcomed the guest. Former directors and emeritus professors of the institute as well as faculty from various teaching departments and residents and resident-fellows of the PGI attended the talk.



Free anti-rabies camp in Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 28
In order to control rabies and littering by pet and stray dogs at public places, there is an urgent need to make tough dog bylaws by the department of local bodies in collaboration with the animal husbandry department.

This was stated by Dr Harprem Singh Gill, registrar, Punjab Veterinary Council, after inaugurating a free anti-rabies camp organised by the Mohali branch of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) at Veterinary Hospital in Kumbra here today.

He said dogs acted as an important source of infection for the spread of rabies, a disease due to which lakhs of people lost their lives and crores of rupees were spent on taking anti-rabies vaccination (ARV) after getting bitten by dogs. Keeping this aspect in mind, the veterinary council had drawn up a comprehensive programme of AVR and was providing this free of cost at various camps.

President of the SPCA Amarpreet Singh Sandhu sought a permanent shelter house and office so that indoor facility could be provided to stray animals that get injured.

Dr Desh Deepak Goyal, secretary, SPCA, said 95 dogs were immunised against rabies and skin infections at a camp organised by a team of veterinarians, led by Dr R.N. Batish, Dr R.M. Sharma and Dr Shashi Saini.



CAT relief for GMCH doc
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
Considering a plea under the Maternity Act, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has given the benefit to an applicant, Dr Subina Narang, who had applied for the post of reader in the department of ophthalmology, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, after due date as she was on maternity leave.

Pronouncing the order, the tribunal allowed the application and observed that though the department had already selected the candidate for the post, in pursuance of interim order of the tribunal, the result has not been declared.

CAT vacated that part of the interim order and directed the respondents to declare the result and proceed further to make appointment in accordance with rules and law.

The tribunal, headed by Shayama Dogra and Kushi Ram, said: “It is, however, made clear that this order may not be treated as general precedence for universal application, as the same is the outcome of peculiar facts of this case.”

Dr Subina (36), working as officiating reader, department of ophthalmology, GMCH-32, had joined on the post on October 30, 2006 and claimed that her work and conduct was quite good. The applicant had mentioned in the application that she was appointed as senior lecturer in department of ophthalmology on January 17, 2003.

She added that the next promotion from the post of senior lecturer was to the post of reader.

Furthermore, according to column 12 under the recruitment rules of 2002, if the departmental officer is selected, the post is deemed to be filled by way of promotion and Dr Subina satisfied all conditions. She was on maternity leave from March 9, 2005 to September 25, 2005. In the meantime, applications were invited from amongst eligible candidates for the post of reader in the department.

The applicant came to know on joining that the interview for the post in question was fixed for January 7, 2008 and she submitted representation on December 20, 2007 but was not called for interview. So, she submitted another representation on December 28, 2007. Subsequently, she filed application at the tribunal in January, 2008.

The respondents argued that the doctor had submitted her application after a delay of over two months i.e. on September 29, 2005 after the deadline

The CAT however held: “The Supreme Court has settled the issues very clearly that no adverse action can be taken against a woman employee during her maternity leave inasmuch as even the dismissal of a woman employee during or on account of her absence on maternity leave is prohibited and the service conditions of her service cannot be varied to her disadvantage during the absence.”



Reporters' Diary
VIPs are first here, too

The VIP syndrome is truly accentuated. Treating a VIP patient means spending two hours a day. Such patients are attended to on priority, irrespective of the illness at a government hospital. A few days ago, almost seven patients had been waiting outside the room of the DHS for three hours just because he was busy with some bureaucrats. Even after spending such a long time there, they didn’t get a chance to meet him as the visiting hours were over.

Funny board

A board on display at the ramp leading to the court of the district sessions judge, K.K. Garg, at the district courts states that no “bags”, “basta” cameras, and mobiles are allowed in courtrooms. The word “basta” is just the Hindi translation of “bag” and the word with the same meaning has been written twice, but in English. It is a source of amusement to both litigants and lawyers.

Quiz man

A local man, Satyapal Choujar, whose zest to teach children in India and foreign lands like Australia about ancient religious texts, has made him popular in schools for his quiz format.

Two Australia-based organisations, the Sikh Society of South Australia and the Navtarang Media Group, have in a letter to him appreciated his role on conducting quiz in Australia during his visit there.

The Sikh Society says that the quiz was an innovative way to spark interest among people. The Navtarang group even organised a radio show in this regard. The clips of the quiz are on “youtube” also.


For some, the Indian Cricket League (ICL) matches that concluded in Panchkula recently were a coverage-cum-feast as some journalists brought their friends along to have dinner and didn’t hesitate to argue for entrance at the place where dinner for media personnel had been arranged. Certain scribes went a step forward and brought their children with them for dinner.

When hair’s issue

Someone has rightly said something has to be sensational for it to be news. In a recent incident when Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President, visited Chandigarh to address students on the occasion of Children’s Day, a correspondent ran after him and blocked the way to his car and asked: “Dhoni got a hair cut, when will you?”

Unlucky 26

After 13, 26 has become unlucky for Indians. The recent terror attack in Mumbai began on November 26. Tsunami happened on December 26, Kutch earthquake on January 26, Godhra carnage on February 26, Gujarat floods on June 26, Mumbai train blast on July 26 and Ahmedabad blasts on September 26. Is it a coincidence?

Throwing attitude

Arrogance and power complement each other. This holds true for Rajat Gautam, a student at the department of laws, Panjab University, and son of a BJP MLA from Haryana. Not only did he misbehave with a photojournalist, but also threatened him with dire consequences when the latter came to cover an event on the campus. Top it all, though he had nothing to do with the event, he had the audacity to abuse the photojournalist when he asked the organisers what time the event was to start. Later, when mediapersons gave a written complaint to the police and the university authorities, he fled. Perhaps, realising “media power”.

— Anuja Jaiswal, Swati Sharma, Rajmeet Singh, Sandeep Rana, Sumedha Sharma, Aarti Kapur, Smriti



Forest dept directed to consider officer’s case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
Haryana commissioner and secretary, forest department, has been asked by the CAT to consider the case of K.L. Minhas, a senior officer from Indian Forest Services, who had filed a case alleging that he had been sidelined by the authorities and posted people junior to him to cadre posts. The tribunal further dismissed his application as infructuous, in wake fresh orders issued by state government regarding his posting.

Minhas had appealed before the tribunal that the authorities concerned had ignored his seniority and posted officers junior to him on cadre posts while he was posted to a temporary post.

He stated in the application that he was posted as chief conservator of forests (projection II), a non-cadre post, in June, 2004. When he detected some irregularities, he was transferred to another non-cadre post of of chief wildlife warden in November, 2004. He was again transferred to another non-cadre post and was presently posted to a specially created ex-cadre temporary post of OSD (projects), while officers junior to him were posted to cadre posts.

The respondents said the post of OSD (projects) had been created for giving clearance to projects and other jobs, which otherwise could not have been given to junior officers.



‘City’s security leaves much to be desired’
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
In spite of UT’s IG S.K. Jain’s rhetoric about having adequate security arrangements in place to face Mumbai-like terror attack here, there seem to be few takers for this claim.

Besides other prominent citizens, former Punjab’s DGP K.P.S. Gill, who was instrumental in ending terrorism in Punjab in the 1990s, is one of them.

Talking to the TNS on the phone, Gill said: “I want to know whether they (the police) have conducted drills to deal with such situations. Such dry runs not only provide a sense of security among public but also help the authorities assess the weak as well as strong points of the force.”

Also what preparations have they made so far in anticipation? said Gill.

“Making claims is one thing and facing the situation is another. Though I don’t know much about the paraphernalia that the city police possesses, I don’t want to comment whether the force can deal with such a situation, if it arises,” he said.

Gill added that the response time in urban areas should be less than five minutes.

On the issue, city-based lawyer N.K. Nanda flayed the IG’s claim saying that one could gauge the security system from the one prevalent in one of the most sensitive points in the city — the district and sessions courts.

“One can only find two or three cops at the two entry gates of the courts. That is not enough. It is easy to enter the premises with restricted items. Meager security at other sensitive areas like ISBTs, railway station and airport reveals the veracity of the claims. The local police lacks proper infrastructure to deal with emergency situations,” said Nanda.

Echoing similar sentiments, R.S. Brar, head of physical department, Government College, Sector 11, said: “I don’t think the force, which has been facing staff shortage, will be able to handle Mumbai-like eventuality. Missing anticipatory exercises by the police is a major lapse on their part. Conducting ‘nakas’ and search operations are routine exercises.”

On the other hand, another former DGP, P.C. Dogra, said if the top brass had been claiming that the police was more or less prepared to handle Mumbai-like situation, he felt secure here.



Woman dies after delivery
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 29
A 32-year-old woman undergoing labour pains died while giving birth to a child. In the absence of any motor vehicle, it took her husband more than an hour to take her to hospital and she died immediately after giving birth to a baby last night.

Raja Ram, the husband of the deceased, was working at a brick kiln at Mouli village near here. His wife Santosh started feeling labour pains around midnight and he took her on a cart to Swami Devi Dyal Institutes, the nearest possible destination for medical emergencies. The doctors referred the mother and the baby to General Hospital, Panchkula. While the child was healthy, Santosh, breathed her last before they could reach Panchkula, said Raja Ram. The doctors at Panchkula hospital said it was a case of excessive blood loss during the delivery and the patient did not get the medical care in time, which led to her death.



Woman’s body found
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
The body of a woman was found near the civil dispensary in Sector 45 here this morning. According to sources, the deceased, Sunita (45), a resident of Burail, had gone to Sector 46 last evening, as she worked as domestic help in a house there. When she did not return home later in the evening, her husband started a search, but to no avail. Today, a woman informed the police that a body, wrapped in a shawl, was lying near the dispensary.



Providential escape for car occupants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
It was a narrow escape for the occupants of a Maruti car and an Ambassador car that collided at the crossing on the road separating Sector 18 and Sector 21 here this afternoon.

Though the front portion of the Maruti, being driven by Hari Singh of Sector 22, was badly damaged, the occupants of the car, including two small children, escaped unhurt.

The Ambassador belonged to a Citco officer. Both parties reached a compromise at the Sector 19 police station.




Subsidise e-bikes

In various developing countries where both the middle class and the oil prices are rising, the governments are promoting e-bikes as mode of transportation.

Since these are driven by battery-powered electric motors, they are thus a great mode of transportation, especially in the inner city.

In 2005, union ministry of road transport exempted e-bikes from registration and license in order to make them street legal for 18-years and younger.

Today, when many young people are turning to e-bikes, which reduce pollution and are safe, convenient and economical as they travel at 20-25 km per hour and can run for 10 to 15 paise per km, administration should thus provide subsidies so that e-bikes become affordable.

Rajesh Krishan

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at [email protected] or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



Research conventions at PU on Dec 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
The second in the series of student research conventions will be held in Panjab University on December 1.

Organised in collaboration with the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), the aim of these conventions is to encourage the spirit of enquiry, creativity and innovativeness amongst the student community. Particular emphasis is on generating knowledge that has practical ramifications for the upliftment of society.

The convention will see podium presentations of the best research proposals short-listed at the level of affiliated colleges, university departments and centres. The major streams represented are agriculture, basic sciences, engineering and technology, health and allied sciences and social sciences and humanities.

The university has received over 60 proposals on varied topics such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Colon Cancer, alternatives to chemical weedicides, use of treated sewage water for irrigation, vermi-composting and sustainable development, inter-generational support to the elderly, children and anxiety, amongst others. After evaluation by concerned experts, 25 proposals will be short-listed for podium presentations.

Following another round of on-the-spot evaluation, one student from each subject categories will be selected to represent PU in the zonal finals.

It is pertinent to mention here that Panjab University played host to the first zonal level AIU student research convention in January this year and the module that it developed was emulated by all other zones.

The highlight of the second convention will be a panel discussion on ‘Research, society and I’ where eminent academicians will share their personal development in research.



PU Notes
Papers presented on new teaching methods
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
On the second day of the XXV IATLIS national conference being organised by the department of library and information science, PU, a number of papers were presented on emerging learning styles and new methods of teaching, symbiosis of classroom and virtual learning and open distance learning and continuing education programmes.

The presenters discussed the new learning management systems required in today’s IT scenario, weblogs as learning tools, e-learning initiatives with special reference to India etc. Various learning management tools both commercial as well as open source were highlighted and the need for adopting them by the institutions of higher learning were stressed.

Honoured: Prof Manju Jaidka of the department of English, PU, is the new honorary director of IAS study centre. Dr Sinha is the new director of hospitality at PU and Bimal Roy has been made the director of the central placement cell replacing Prof Dinesh Gupta of UBS. New members have been added to the advisory committee of CIIP (Centre for Industry Institute) partnership programme, which includes Prof Rupinder Tiwari, A.K. Saihjpal and A.K. Vashisht.



Fire breaks out at St Anne’s School
Tribune News Service

A curtain catches fire due to a short circuit during the annual function at St Anne’s School in Chandigarh
A curtain catches fire due to a short circuit during the annual function at St Anne’s School in Chandigarh on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, November 28
Hundreds of students and parents had a narrow escape today duirng the annual function at St Anne’s School, Sector 32, when a stage curtain caught fire due to a short circuit at around 6 pm.

Though the school called fire brigade but according to onlookers the fire was extinguished within minutes using the fire extinguishers.

The incident happened when parents and children were involved in the ‘Fantasia 2008’.

“The fire broke out when a group of students were leaving the stage after the performance. While we did panic for a moment but the condition came under control very soon”, revealed a parent.

This vibrant cultural show comprising of various dances and songs was interrupted for sometime due to the fire but soon everything normalised, as everybody applauded the efforts made by the young kids. Fr. Thomas Anchanikal, administrator, Simla Chandigarh Diocese, presided over with the chief guest Pradip Mehra, adviser to the Governor.



Annual function concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
The Strawberry Fields World School concluded its annual function spread over four exciting and fun-filled days today evening here on the school premises.

A total of 26 plays were enacted by more than 650 children from kindergarten to Class 7 culled and adapted from some renowned pieces of literature, music, arts and culture.

The extravaganza was conceptualised with the intent to introduce students to the world of theatre. Concepts of language, mathematics and environmental studies were incorporated into the themes and scripts.

"The Snooty Tomato", put up by Class 1, taught young six- year olds a lesson in humility, while the old classic "A Christmas Carol" with its inherent message of charitable thought and action, was set in verse and deftly executed by students of Class 4.

Lighter moments and perfectly timed humour were cleverly presented by the students of Class 2 with "The King Counts Ten", Class 3 with "The First Patient" and Class 5 with "The Gingerbread Girl". General S.F. Rodrigues and Jean Rodrigues were guests of honour.



Essay writing contest on Kuka movement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 28
The department of Guru Nanak Sikh studies is organising an essay writing competition on ‘Kuka’ movement. Entries are invited till December 2 from the students of Panjab University Campus and its affiliated colleges.

Essay would be written in Punjabi/Hindi or English language. The first three essays would be awarded prize money of Rs 1,000, 750 and 500 respectively. These, three essays would be published in the students’ magazine of PU. Prof Jaspal Kaur Kaang, convener of the ‘Kuka Committee’ has told that a variety of programs to mark the 150th anniversary of the movement.



AIDS awareness week
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, November 28
The Red Ribbon Club and NSS unit of GMSSS, Sector 46, observed AIDS awareness week in collaboration with Dev Samaj College of Education, Sector 36.

A slogan making and poster making competition was held in addition to an open house discussion. Sachin Sharma, project officer, Red Cross Society, interacted with students while Dr R.M. Singh, CMO, Mani majra flagged off an awareness rally.



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