C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


‘Tainted’ official is UT chief engineer
Since 1995, five vigilance inquiries/criminal cases have been initiated against Krishanjit Singh
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Administration has allegedly flouted rules in appointing a tainted official as the UT chief engineer (CE). Krishanjit Singh, who was appointed as the CE by the departmental promotion committee (DPC) at a meeting in New Delhi recently, has vigilance cases pending against him.

Documents in the possession of The Tribune revealed that since 1995 five vigilance inquiries/criminal cases were initiated against the official. Even the home secretary-cum-chief vigilance officer, in a communication to the secretary engineering-cum-finance secretary, earlier this year informed the latter of the these inquiries.

Recently, the DPC comprising the home secretary, the finance secretary and a representative of the UPSC appointed Krishanjit Singh as the regular UT CE.

While one of the inquiries was closed after nothing substantial was in it, in another probe the official was "censured". In the third inquiry, the "UT administrator, after giving a personal hearing to Krishanjit Singh and others, advised them not to ‘short circuit’ the procedures in future and ordered to close the proceedings."

A complaint made by Amit Roy, a Sector 21 resident, copies of which had been sent to the Central Vigilance Commission, the Central Bureau of Investigation and the UT Administrator, alleged that a vigilance inquiry was also started against him in 1997 in connection with unauthorised running of a hot mix plant in the industrial area here.

Though the home department wanted a "detailed position of the misconduct committed by the officers" for obtaining first stage advice of the Chief Vigilance Commission (CVC), the engineering department was yet to reply to the home departments. Still another inquiry has been pending against the CE since 2004.

Terming the allegations against him as "malicious and motivated", Krishanjit Singh alleged certain vested interests were behind them to "tarnish" his image in public eye. Even the integrity certificate issued by secretary engineering dated January 9, 2008, had given a clean chit to Krishanjit Singh, saying that "nothing adverse is found on the record".



Mega Projects
UT ‘casual’ in evaluating land cost
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The “lackadaisical” approach of the Chandigarh Administration while evaluating the land price for the mega projects worth crores can be gauged if the report of the advisors for these projects is any indication.

The SBI Capital Markets Limited (SBI Caps), the fund mobilisation consultancy firm, gave three different versions for the reserve price of the same piece of land in its valuation report for the Multimedia Centre-cum-Film City project proposed at Sarangpur worth Rs 285 crore on 30 acre, the report says.

Ironically, if this valuation report procured through RTI Act by Vivek Aditya is to be believed, it was within a span of just 37 days that the reserve price swelled up manifold.

Queries are also being raised over the appointment of SBI Caps. No bids had allegedly been invited by the administration at the time of hiring the project advisors.

Vivek Aditya, a financial laws expert, has also complained about the “ethical and professional misconduct” of SBI Caps to Supritim Sarkar, group head, project-advisory division of SBI Caps, and challenged him to justify the “professional misconduct”.

“The documents I procured through the RTI Act show that the firm was hired for Rs 25 lakh. Later, this fee was enhanced to Rs 38 lakh. This amount was given just for just one document of evaluating the reserve price of the land and they gave three different figures for same piece of land,” said Vivek Aditya.

Though, a subsidiary of State Bank of India, this firm having its office at Sector 17, is manned by a single person who does not have technical know-how of financial matters.

Nevertheless, keeping a benchmark of Rs 285 crore as total cost, the firm on November 9, 2006, submitted that the reserve price stood at Rs 25 crore for 30 acres. On October 27, 2006, the firm again recommended that the reserve price need a revision and this time it quoted the reserve price to be fixed at Rs 75 crore for the 30-acre site.

On November 16, 2006, another official noting disclosed that the firm recommended that the reserve price should not be less than 125 crore for 30 acres.

When contacted, assistant vice-president and head, SBI Caps, Chandigarh, Bharat Ahuja admitted that he was the only man who runs this office in Chandigarh. “I am the only person in the staff. Employed with the SBI only, I am working here on deputation as a resource person,” he said.

“I would not be able to tell these technicalities because it is our experts’ team which comes either from Mumbai or Delhi to look after the project,” he replied on the issue. Yet, he said, so much variation might have arisen due of different modules that might have cropped up later.

When asked about the contact numbers of the consulting team members either at Mumbai or Delhi, he said: “It is a confidential matter. We do not come under the preview of RTI Act, so we are not bound to disclose any information about our clients. Ask the administration,” he suggested.

Social activist Hemant Goswami said: "The way the valuation of land has been done by the Chandigarh Administration and the SBI Caps not only shows the ill-planned way with which the project has been handled but also emits a strong smell of corruption in the whole deal. This requires a thorough investigation by an independent investigation agency.”

Files cleared the same day

In contrast to the typical government files, which otherwise take their time to travel from one seat to another, the files of these mega projects were through the same day. Ironically, the noting for expression of interest was signed on March 7 and the DIT, FS, the Advisor and the Administrator approved it the same day. Similarly, another noting of March 27 was also signed the same day.



Airport Mess-up
Issue ‘blown out of proportion’
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
While the director general of civil aviation (DGCA), New Delhi, has not ordered any inquiry into yesterday’s fiasco at the Chandigarh Airport wherein a collision between two aircrafts was averted at close quarters, orders were passed today to continue restricting the parking of only two planes in the apron area.

Claiming that the issue had been “blown out of proportion”, airport controller Sunil Dutt clarified that there was no collision as was reported in the section of the press today. “The DGCA was given all details about the incident and no inquiry has been ordered,” he said, adding that as a precautionary measure for all times, the parking in the apron was now being restricted only to two planes.

The incident occurred at around 2:25 pm when three planes, including an Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Kingfisher plane, were parked in the apron area. The Jet Airways flight had to take off and it was while taking a turn that that the pilot realised that the Kingfisher aircraft was too close.

Though the space was just enough (15 feet) to negotiate the turn, the pilot applied brakes since rules did not permit movement of aircrafts at such close distances.

Dutt said, immediately a special tractor of the IAF was called which pushed back the plane to its original position and within a few minutes, the Jet flight took off. “There was nothing like an accident. It was well avoided, timely diagnosed and coordinated episode and everyone at the spot was aware of it,” he said.

However, if the insiders are to be believed, this problem is perennial since the apron space is grossly inadequate. To top it all, the planes are not even parked on the earmarked places.

According to sources, the entire runaway is not properly visible from the ATC (Air Traffic Control) tower, which is handled by the Indian Air Force, and is responsible for giving clearances for landing and takeoffs all the planes.

Admitting this, an airport official said that at the same time, there was no need to relocate the tower or increase its height. It must be mentioned here that that the operational are of the airport is with the Indian Air force.

Flight to Goa

The MDLR Airlines has started a direct flight from Chandigarh to Goa via Delhi from Wednesday. The flight will be one way only.



England team’s day out at plaza
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, December 17
It was a surprising moment for the people strolling on the Sector 17 plaza, here today afternoon, as the England cricket icons reached there all of a sudden.

Due to high security, the crowds could not procure the autographs of England cricket team skipper Andrew Flintoff, who along with Andrew Strauss, Alister Cook, Steve Harmison and some management officials came to Sector 17 for shopping.

Attired in casual wear, Andrew Flintioff and Alister Cook were the first ones to be seen at around 3:25 pm. Andrew Flintoff purchased two pairs of shoes for his kid and apparels for himself.

They were hunting for pashmina shawls for their wives, but due to security reasons they had to leave the market immediately.

“The English players informed us, just an hour back, before visiting the market for shopping. Still, they enjoyed here and left back to the hotel after sometime,” SHO Ramesh Chand said.

Rajeev Sharma, a resident, said the crowd was very happy to see them, but due to strict security the police did not allow the public to meet them and get the autographs.


Part of Mohali school razed
Tribune News Service

A razed boundary wall of BMD Public School, Sector 63, on Wednesday.
A razed boundary wall of BMD Public School, Sector 63, on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Chandigarh, December 17
Studies at BMD Public School, Sector 63, here was brought to a standstill this morning when an enforcement wing of the UT estate office reached the school premises to carry out a demolition drive.

The school authorities rued that no prior intimation of this drive was given to them and the enforcement wing of the estate office carried out the demolition operation all of a sudden.

On the other side, estate officials claimed that the authorities were intimated about the encroachment they had made and were told to remove it on their own. The officials clarified that this drive was carried out to get this portion of land free from all encumbrances before handing it over to the Chandigarh housing board for carrying out Sector 63 dwelling units’ scheme.

The drive started at about 10.30 am. The enforcement team led by senior inspector, enforcement, Ashok Bisht, having two JCBs, two trucks carrying around 30 labourers and around 100 police personnel reached the spot to demolish the construction done on the administration’s land. The SDM (south) Prerna Puri was also present on the spot.

Baldev Singh Kumbra, chairperson of the school, resented that they were completely unaware of the estate office’s action. “It’s been almost 12 years back when the boundary wall was razed and the demarcation of the wall was duly approved by the authorities,” he said.

The officials claimed that according to records, the school situated in three-and-half acre of plot, has encroached upon adjoining one-and-half acre of land. Bisht said, “The school authorities were intimated two months back to raise the gate of the boundary wall and two rooms for security men erected on the administration’s land. When they did not pay any heed to it, ultimately, we have to take the action”.



CCTVs to keep eye on GMSH-16
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
In the wake of the Mumbai terrorist attacks, the UT health department is planning to install Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) surveillance systems in Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16.

“After the terrorist attack in Mumbai, the health department feels the need to install CCTV cameras in the wards and on the hospital premises to keep a watch on unscrupulous elements. Funds will not be a constraint when it comes to the issue of stepping up security in the hospital," said director, health services Dr M.S. Bains.

“The numbers of CCTV cameras required for each ward and institute will be approved once the bidders do a final survey of the premises," added Dr Bains. However, no deadline has been set for installing these devices, he said.

According to sources, the project will entail installing 16 CCTV cameras, including two revolving cameras, in all the wards and key areas of the hospital to ensure security. Surveillance will be carried out in real time - day and night - covering all areas of hospitals, indoor and outdoor, said senior official of the UT health department.

For advance security, as many as 10 metal detectors will be installed and private players will do the operation and maintenance support, said an official of GMSH-16.

According to deputy medical superintendent of GMCH Dr S.K. Bhandari CCTV cameras was required for monitoring the behaviour of people within hospital for security.



BSP's show of strength stumps Cong, BJP
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
In a development that may prove to be a shot in the arm for the prospects of the BSP candidate Harmohan Dhawan in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the BSP today claimed the support of seven newly elected sarpanches and over 71 panches.

In a show of strength while Dhawan paraded five sarpanches, Narinder Singh (Kaimbala), Gurpreet Happy (Daria), Bhupinder Kaur (Khuda Alisher), Mahinder Singh (Behlana), Lachhman Singh (Raipur Khurd), Balwinder Singh (Khuda Jassu) and Renu (Mauli Jagran), were represented by their father and husband, respectively.

BSP sources said victory of the party in the villages and its mass membership drives would stand the party in a good stead in the Lok Sabha elections. In fact, social engineering formula of the BSP supremo Mayawati seemed to have worked well in a modern city like Chandigarh and its result would be evident in the coming elections, Dhawan added.

In fact, the show of strength by the BSP a day after the results of the panchayat polls were declared, seems to have set cat among the pigeons with other parties at their wits end to counter the "assault" on their mass base.

Claims and counter-claims ruled the city today with the BJP claiming the Congress and the BJP claiming the support of six and four heads of the villages, respectively. The other parties are also planning the show of strength in the coming days to showcase their rural political prowess.

Congress general secretary Bhupinder Singh Badheri was quick to rebut the claims of Dhawan claiming that a majority of the sarpanches were with the Congress and the BSP had enacted the "whole drama" to attract media attention. The villages' support for the Congress would be evident in the coming Lok Sabha elections, he asserted.



BJP activists condemn terrorism
Priya Chadha and Pawan Tiwari

BJP workers burn an effigy of terrorism in Panchkula on Wednesday.
BJP workers burn an effigy of terrorism in Panchkula on Wednesday. A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, December 17
Activists of the Bhartiya Janta Party today burnt an effigy against terrorist activities. A protest march was taken out at Sector 17-18 round about, in which the BJP youth wing members shouted slogans against terrorism.

Talking about the terrorist activities, BJP senior leader Gyan Chand Gupta said, “It is high time now, India should no more become a victim of terrorism and immediate steps should be taken.”

The members raised slogans against inflation and demanded reduction in the price of LPG gas by Rs 50.

They further said the crude oil prices had reduced in the international markets, and hence, the petrol prices should trim down by Rs 10 and diesel by Rs 8 in India.



PCA turns Ground Zero
Combat teams deployed to keep vigil
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 17
Quick reaction teams equipped with modern weapons have been deployed inside the PCA stadium and at the gates as part of the security arrangements even as the England and the Indian cricket teams started their practice sessions here today in connection with the Test match starting from December 19.

Gypsies fitted with LMGs moved around the stadium and binoculars are also being installed on roof tops around the venue of the test match. Close-circuit cameras have been installed at various points to capture the movements of persons moving about in that area.

Sniffer dogs were moved around the pavilion and other parts of the stadium by the police. Equipment of the electronic medium was also checked as part of the security arrangements. The stadium is being turned into a fortress for security reasons.

SSP Jatinder Singh Aulakh said four quick-reaction teams had been deployed and each member of the team was equipped with automatic and semi-automatic weapons. While one team was deployed inside the stadium, others were stationed at various points outside the Test match venue. He said 10 binoculars would also be used for security purposes. Personnel using these would be stationed on roof tops.

The SSP said persons coming to see the match should not carry electronic items, bags, mirrors, weapons, eatables, water bottles or any kind of inflammable material. He said the traffic would be diverted around the stadium from December 19 to December 23 from 7 am to 7 pm.



Taj, too, on the radar
Roads leading to hotel closed to traffic; CCTVs installed
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, December 17
The local police is taking no chances to make foolproof security arrangements for the Indian and England cricket teams staying at the Taj Hotel in Sector 17 here.

Besides deployment of police personnel and commandoes, closed-circuit television cameras (CCTVs) have been installed outside the hotel.

The city is on a high alert in the wake of Mumbai terror attacks. Both teams had arrived at the hotel yesterday for the upcoming test match to be played at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium (PCA), Mohali, from December 19-23.

Security has been stepped up and the police has blocked all roads leading to the Taj Hotel. Only the guests, who are staying in the hotel, can go to the parking lot.

“All the major rank police officials have been deployed in the city to make security arrangements, directly or indirectly. We are not taking any chances and even the CCTVs have been installed in the parking lot which will help us to keep an eye over the cars,” said a senior police officer.

Discussing the security arrangements, SP (Security and Traffic) Hardeep Singh Doon said, “We have covered every nook and corner of the hotel.”



PU youth festival concludes
Tribune News Service

A student performs at the North Zone Inter-University Youth Festival in Chandigarh on Wednesday.
A student performs at the North Zone Inter-University Youth Festival in Chandigarh on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 17
On the concluding day of the 24th North Zone Inter-University Youth Festival organized by Panjab University, three competitions and a valedictory function were held at the university auditorium.

Sardar Manpreet Singh Badal, Minister of Finance and Planning and Programme Implementation, Punjab, was the chief guest on the occasion of the valedictory function held at the university auditorium.

He gave the message to the youth to dedicate their energies for the development
of the nation.

He quoted from the lines of famous poets and told the participants to preserve our rich cultural heritage and identity in the era of commercialisation and globalisation.

The event of folk dance was organized at the university auditorium in which nine teams were participated in the competition. Punjabi University Patiala, PAU, Ludhiana, and PTU, Jalandhar, performed bhangra.

LPU, Phagwara, and GADVASU, Ludhiana, performed giddha , MDU Rohtak, KU, Kurukshetra, and CCSU, Meerut, Kumaun University, Nainital, also participated in the competition.

Beside, 15 teams participated in the western vocal solo at english auditorium and various genres of western songs were performed during the competition.

The participating teams were from HPU, Shimla, University of Bundelkhand, Jhansi, Kumaun University, Nainital, MDU, Rohtak, PU, Chandigarh, KU, Kurukshetra, CCSU, Meerut, GADVASU, Ludhiana , JMU, Delhi , LPU Phagwara, Punjabi University, Patiala, AMU, Aligarh , University of Kashmir, Srinagar, GNDU, Amritsar and PTU, Jallandhar.

Their are 14 teams participated in the installation at Fine Arts Museum. The participating teams were from AMU, Aligarh, CCSU, Meerut, CDLU, Sirsa, GNDU, Amritsar, JMU, Delhi , KU, Kurukshetra, LPU Phagwara, MDU, Rohtak, PAU, Ludhiana , Pbi. Univ. Patiala, P.U., Chandigarh, Univ. of Jammu, Jammu, Srinagar, Univ. of Kashmir, Srinagar & University of Bundelkhand, Jhansi.

Prof. R.C. Sobti, vice-chancellor of Panjab University, addressed the participating teams and stressed the importance of extra curricular activities as well as academics.

He congratulated the participants for performing in the various competitions during the youth festival.



Release delayed gratuity, arrears to retiree: CAT
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has directed the principal controller of defence to release the delayed gratuity, including the arrears of pension, of Jasmit Singh who took voluntary retirement from the post of assistant engineer (civil).

Pronouncing the orders, the CAT held: “The applicant is entitled to interest on the delayed payment of his arrears of pension and other pensionary benefits from April 1, 2007, the date as mentioned by him in relied clause till the actual date of payment as the applicant had submitted his pensionary papers during the notice period of voluntary retirement. Had the respondents being little careful while dealing with the case of the applicant, this mistake would not have occurred.”

The applicant in his petition had stated that he was not given monthly pension and retrial gratuity after he took voluntary retirement on December 28, 2006.

He said both monthly pension and gratuity were declined by the Department Controller of Defence Accounts.

When the applicant took voluntary retirement, he was working as an assistant engineer (civil) and had submitted the pension papers during the notice period for voluntary retirement. He asserted that he had never applied for commutation of any portion of his pension.

Furthermore, it was mentioned that the claim for pensionary benefits was forwarded by the central record office to the principal controller of defence accounts (PCDA) that also indicated in column “commutation of pension” was shown as “not applicable”.

It was stated that his pension was illegally and arbitrarily shown as “commuted” by the PCDA despite the fact that the applicant never applied for it.



Pending cases cause stress among army personnel
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
While the establishment of the much-awaited Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has been further delayed by at least a couple of months, pendency of legal cases have been identified as a cause of stress among military personnel.

According to sources, the AFT, which was earlier supposed to be set up by February, is now expected to start by April or May. The original deadline for the AFT to start functioning was August, but kept getting postponed.

Justice A.K Mathur, a former Supreme Court judge has been appointed as the Tribunal’s chairperson and selection of other members is underway.

“One of the reasons for increasing stress in the Armed Forces relates to non-availability of quicker appellate mechanism to deal with the service related problems and disputes,” a recent report by the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence has stated.

The tribunal, the establishment process of which began over a decade ago, is aimed at quick judicial redressal of grievances concerning court martial verdicts, promotion, posting, pension and service related matter.

The idea of an AFT was mooted keeping in view the high pendency of cases in
civilian courts.

According to latest data furnished by the ministry of defence, there are almost 10,000 cases filed by armed forces personnel that are pending in various courts. This includes 9,324 cases of all three services in the high courts and 125 in the Supreme Court.

The Army, of course, accounts for the largest chuck, with 7,611 cases in the high court and 94 in the apex court.

The Air Force and the Navy have 1,250 and 463 cases pending in the high courts, respectively. In the Supreme Court, these figures are 22 and 12, respectively.

The Tribunal’s principal Bench would be at New Delhi, which regional Benches at several places across the country.

The Bench to be set up at Chandigarh, would, perhaps, be the largest regional Bench in terms of territorial jurisdiction and volume of cases expected as it would cover the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

This area has the highest concentration of serving and retired defence personnel. Defence-related cases presently pending in the high courts of these states would be transferred to this Bench.



Punjab, UT staff rally against govt
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, December 17
More than thousands of Punjab and UT employees, under the banner of the Joint Action Committee of Punjab and UT employees, organised a massive protest rally in Sector 17 today.

They raised slogans against the Akali-BJP led government of Punjab and the UT administration for their anti-employees policies and demanded immediate release of the fifth pay commission report with better pay scales and allowances.

They further demanded to fill the vacant posts, to give appointments in all death cases, regularization of daily wagers, abolish privatization policies of public sector and to grant bonus to all of them.

RS Sandhu addressed the gathering and Ranjit Singh, Kartar Singh, Gurmail Singh and Sant Singh were present there.

They also lashed out at the anti-employees policy of the government and the leaders threatened to launch severe agitation after December 22, if their demands were not conceded immediately.

They also passed a resolution that Punjabi should be made the official language
in Chandigarh.



Landowners seek enhanced compensation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Punjab cooperation minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, MP Naresh Gujral and PWD minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa, along with representatives of farmers and landowners of the Dera Bassi and Zirakpur area, met union minister for road transport and highways T.R. Baalu last night and demanded that the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) should pay enhanced compensation as per the award by the arbitrator for four-laning of NH 22 from Jharmari to Zirakpur.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that the compensation should be based on market value of the land, plus 30 per cent selection allowance as per the Punjab Land Acquisition Act at the time of acquisition of the land and not Collector rates.

The NHAI should adopt Punjab government’s farmer-friendly policy for land acquisition, the delegation demanded.

The cooperation minister said that NHAI had taken possession of the land and started toll collection activity, while it had compensated farmers and shopkeepers. He said that NHAI was legally bound to pay enhanced compensation.

He asked the union minister to intervene and to direct NHAI for withdrawal of the court case and for payment of enhanced compensation immediately.

Baalu ordered for formation of a joint committee comprising the SDM, Dera Bassi, and project director of NHAI to jointly workout the compensation for the acquired land and the shops as per the Punjab Land Acquisition Act and submit report within a week.

Capt Kanwaljit also demanded that toll collection for the usage of road should be collected at one place only instead of two places that is Dera Bassi and Dappar.

Free pass facility also be provided to the residents of the Dera Bassi sub-division since they are required to visit Dera Bassi regularly being sub-divisional headquarters. He demanded that a flyover should be made at Dera Bassi to avoid traffic congestion.

He said that flyovers at Lalru, Dappar and Zirakpur have been constructed but the subdivision headquarter of Dera Bassi which is major town on the national highway does not have a flyover. The union minister ordered that a survey be conducted immediately by NHAI and the feasibility report be submitted to him.



Food co asked to pay Rs 1,000
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The district consumer forum has directed Asianiak Health Foods Limited and Navrang Agencies, a food company, to pay Rs 1,000 as compensation to the Chandigarh Twenty20 Cricket Association as fungus was found in packed Bisleri water glasses meant for members of the cricket association.

The petitioner stated in the petition that they purchased 120 boxes of Bisleri water bottles of one litre each and 330 boxes of sealed and packed Bisleri water glasses of 200ml (each box having 24 glasses) for the members of the association and the participants of the tournament organised by it from April 12 to 16, 2008.

It was stated that there were about 120 unconsumed sealed Bisleri water glasses lying with the complainant, which contain fungus material and when the matter was brought to the notice of the company, they did not do anything and refused to replace the said glasses.

These glasses were purchased for the consumption of the participants (tiny tots up to the age of 13 years), in the aforesaid cricket tournament.

Asianiak health foods, denied that the water glasses contained fungus and was pleaded that a strict quality control is maintained at the processing unit and at every stage of the process, electronic monitoring is made to maintain the purity of the water. There is no human touch at any stage of the process, it was said.



Fountains installed at roundabouts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Chandigarh administration in its endeavour of beautifying southern sectors of the city installed fountains at two roundabouts of the city. UT finance secretary, Sanjay Kumar, inaugurated the fountains.

A spiral-step spring fountain was installed at the roundabout of Sectors 40, 41, 54 and 55 while another fountain was installed at the roundabout of Sectors 43, 44, 51 and 52. The approximate cost of each fountain is Rs 6 lakh and the work of installing fountains was completed within 15 days.

Mayor of the municipal corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) Pardeep Chhabra, UT chief engineer Krishanjit Singh, and former mayor Harjinder Kaur were prominent among those present.



Computer centre at madrasa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Adviser to the Administrator Pradip Mehra yesterday inaugurated the centre of excellence at Madrasa Islamiah Faiz-ul-uloom, Maloya Colony.

Mayor of the Municipal Corporation Pardeep Chhabra was also present on the occasion. The computer centre at the madrasa has been opened by the Department of Social Welfare in which five computers have been installed.

While addressing the gathering, Mehra said computer education was essential in today's world and the centre would provide computer training to all children of the colony irrespective of their caste and religion.



PCCTU welcomes UGC pay scale
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The PCCTU welcomes the clearance of the UGC pay scale by the government but criticises the dilution of the Chadha committee report.

Dr Jagwant Singh, general secretary, PCCTU, welcomed the decision but criticized the dilution of UGC recommendations made on the basis of Dr G K Chadha committee recommendations.

He said recommendations of 100 per cent funding for 5 years and 50 per cent for next 5 years should have been accepted to facilitate implementation of the scales by states.

He said the grades in the initial had been reduced to Rs 6000 against recommendation of 6600 and in senior scale to 7000 against recommendations of 7600. He said that Punjab should implement the recommendations.



Sociology dept to hold conference
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The department of sociology, Panjab University, is going to organise a two-day conference here.

The topic would be Social Exclusion and Uneven Development of The North-West Indian Sociological Association.

The issues, which would be taken up in the conference, would understand social exclusion, particularly in the context of high tide of globalisation, inter-relationship between caste structure, economic processes and political fall out, mitigating impact of reservation on social exclusion, social, political and economic dimensions of massive in-migration to the north-western states of India and Dalit and gender question in north-west India.



Lecture on biotechnology delivered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
A lecture on biotechnology and its scope was organised at St Kabir Public School, Sector 26, here.

It focussed on various applications of biotechnology in modern times. Dr Navneet Batra, coordinator, the department of biotechnology, GGDSD College, Sector 32, Chandigarh, was the guest speaker.

J.P. Singh, director of St Kabir, said, “Such lectures add on to the knowledge of the students and motivate them to take up biotechnology as a research or a career option.”

The event was sponsored by the Chandigarh renewable energy, science and technology promotion society under the science popularisation programme.



Binary reader for calculations invented
Pawan Tiwari and Priya Chadha

Chandigarh, December 17
Ram Avtar Khemka, a retired accountant from Ludhiana, has invented a binary reader capable of doing simple calculations.

The binary reader called “Ganesh binary reader” can do calculation from 0 to 32. The capacity of this device made from paper can be increased up to 256, he said, while giving a demonstration here.

Khemka said the use of the binary reader was very simple. Just enter the number by turning the paper board and adjust with the value of its key and you will get the result on the monitor. The figures from 0 to 32 are written on the paper, he added.

He said the device would prove very benefical for students in their studies. Asssitance from the government and private sector could go a long way in the commercial production of the binary reader.

He claimed it took him five years to complete the project. Earlier, Khemka had also made a calculator from the paper floppy.



Former editor of Dainik Tribune dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Veteran writer and former editor of Dainik Tribune Madan Gopal died in Delhi yesterday. He was 89. Gopal had started his career from Lahore’s the Civil and Military Gazette as a sub-editor.

Later, he had stints in The Morning Standard (Bombay) and The Statesman (Delhi). During World War II, he was the London correspondent of The Statesman.

Born in Hansi (Haryana) on August 22, 1919, Madan Gopal remained in active journalism for almost 50 years. He had also written biographies of Munshi Premchand, Bhartendu Harish Chandra, Tulsi Das and Babu Balmukund Gupt.

His latest book ‘A media man’s diary’ deals with his personal journalistic experiences. Known as Munshi Prem Chand’s Boswell, Madan Gopal also worked in different media units of the information and broadcasting ministry - Press Information Bureau and All India Radio.

Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune publications Mr H.K. Dua described Madan Gopal as a prominent editor of Dainik Tribune and a renowned author having written as many as 81 books. Mr Dua recalled that on his request Madan Gopal had agreed to do a book on Sardar Dyal Singh Majithia recently. Mr Dua, while paying rich tributes to the departed soul, said in his death, the country had lost a great biographer and a fine journalist.

Naresh Kaushal, editor, Dainik Tribune, said: “Madan Gopal was a brilliant writer and an excellent journalist. He always commanded respect and never demanded anything back.”

Senior journalist Radhe Shyam Sharma said Madan Gopal was a giant in the field of journalism.

In 2006, he was awarded Babu Balmukund Gupt Puraskar by Haryana Sahitya Akademi, Chandigarh. The titans of journalism - Prem Bhatia and Madan Gopal - worked together in The Statesman.

Vijay Saihgal, also a former Editor of Dainik Tribune, said Madan Gopal richly contributed to both Hindi literature and journalism and would be remembered for a long time.

Madan Gopal was cremated in Delhi today. He leaves behind wife Kanta Gopal, son Sachin Gopal, and daughter Dr Neerja Jayal. A large number of writers, journalists, relatives and friends attended the funeral.

Wreaths were laid on behalf of The Tribune Trust Editor-in-Chief Mr H.K. Dua; general manager Sanjay Hazari; editor and staff of Dainik Tribune. Rajkumar Singh, assistant editor-cum-special correspondent and manager, TSO, Delhi, represented The Tribune Group at the cremation.



Visiting professorship for Dr Dhillon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Prof M.S. Dhillon, head of orthopaedics department at Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, has been conferred the prestigious Ashok Sen Gupta visiting professorship of the Indian Orthopaedic Association for 2009.

This prestigious fellowship award was announced recently by the executive committee of the IOA at its meeting at Bangalore.

This visiting professorship is specifically meant for senior professors with unique areas of specialisation, who can help develop a speciality centre at one of the medical colleges in India, and is a reflection upon the unique expertise that the awardee posseses.

Prof Dhillon, who has already established a Sports Injury Clinic at PGI Chandigarh, and is a consultant to various National and International Sports bodies and associations, will visit the Medical College at Jaipur in 2009, where he would help to set up a unit for arthroscopy and sports medicine, and also develop guidelines for the working of that unit.

He would impart training to the doctors there and perform live surgical procedures and give lectures to both athletes and orthopaedic surgeons.



e wild wild web
Teenagers’ Internet socialising not a bad thing

Good news for worried parents: All those hours their teenagers spend socializing on the Internet are not a bad thing, according to a new study by the MacArthur Foundation in the United States of America.

“It may look as though kids are wasting a lot of time hanging out with new media, whether it’s on MySpace or sending instant messages,” said Mizuko Ito, lead researcher on the study, “Living and Learning with New Media.” “But their participation is giving them the technological skills and literacy they need to succeed in the contemporary world. They’re learning how to get along with others, how to manage a public identity, how to create a home page.”

Ito, a research scientist in the department of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, said that some parental concern about the dangers of Internet socializing might result from a misperception. “Those concerns about predators and stranger danger have been overblown,” she said. “There’s been some confusion about what kids are actually doing online. Mostly, they’re socializing with their friends, people they’ve met at school or camp or sports.”

Because of the adult sense that socializing on the Internet is a waste of time, the study said, teenagers reported many rules and restrictions on their electronic hanging out, but most found ways to work around such barriers that let them stay in touch with their friends steadily throughout the day. “Teens usually have a ‘full-time intimate community’ with whom they communicate in an always-on mode via mobile phones and instant messaging,” the study added.

This is not news to a cluster of Bronx teenagers, gathered after school on Wednesday to tell a reporter about their social routines. All of them used MySpace and instant messaging to stay in touch with a dozen or two of their closest friends every evening. “As soon as I get home, I turn on my computer,” said a 15-year-old boy who started his MySpace page four years ago.

“My MySpace is always on, and when I get a message on MySpace, it sends a text message to my phone. It’s not an obsession; it’s a necessity.” Only one student, a 14-year-old girl, had ever opted out - and she lasted only a week. “It didn’t work,” she said. “You become addicted. You can’t live without it.”

In a situation familiar to many parents, the study describes two 17-year-olds, dating for more than a year, who wake up and log on to their computers between taking showers and doing their hair, talk on their cellphones as they travel to school, exchange text messages through the school day, then get together after school to do homework - during which time they also play a video game - talk on the phone during the evening, perhaps ending the night with a text-messaged “I love you.”

Teenagers also use new media to explore new romantic relationships, through interactions casual enough to ensure no loss of face if the other party is not interested. While online socializing is ubiquitous, many young people move on to a period of tinkering and exploration, as they look for information online, customize games or experiment with digital media production, the study found.

For example, a Brooklyn teenager did a Google image search to look at a video card and find out where in a computer such cards are, then installed his own. What the study calls “geeking out” is the most intense Internet use, in which young people delve deeply into a particular area of interest, often through a connection to an online interest group.

“New media allow for a degree of freedom and autonomy for youth that is less apparent in a classroom setting,” the study said. “Youth respect one another’s authority online, and they are often more motivated to learn from peers than from adults.”

Moreover, blogging is a pleasure. We all like to express our opinions and be heard. Blogging has for a while been a way of communicating what one has been up to, cataloguing our activities for all and sundry. This method of communication has, however, evolved enabling most of us to express our opinion about things from politics to sports, religion and so on.

As the blogger carries out research for their article or story, they bombard themselves with information; they broaden their minds and get to a level where they understand events around them better than the average reader would. It can be quite an educational experience. The valuable feedback that one gets from others on blogging and social networking sites is often empowering to the blogger. For some of us with an exaggerated sense of self importance it inflate our already bulging ego and can serve as a great tool to fine tune our writing skills.

The psychological benefits of blogging cannot be underestimated. Studies have shown that people who blog are less stressed than those who don’t. Because life in most western countries is pretty isolating, social networking enables many to communicate with people in far flung corners of the world. More and more people seek solace in the virtual world.

This may seem a bit sad but for introverts it’s a fantastic way of expressing themselves without being put under pressure to find the correct words to say as expected in a face to face situation.

Some situations in networking can get a little creepy when one gets unwanted attention which can turn out to be a cantankerous nuisance often amounting to what is now known as cyber stalking. Recent findings have shown that cyber-stalking has escalated particularly in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Most victims tend to be women. Prodding and poking questions constantly which are often not responded to can be regarded in exactly the same way as nuisance telephone calls.

It must, however, be said that blogging has contributed a great deal to the way news is reported in the age we live in. A good number of businesses have also experienced growth through blogging.

Some critics, however, argue that social networking is a “boon for prying journalists and recruiters” who infiltrate these networks to gain information. So are you revealing more than you should? Beware!

Anilm is an editor with Instablogs.com



IELTS expert gives tips to DAV students
Career options discussed
Priya Chadha and Pawan Tiwari

Chandigarh, December 17
An IELTS (International English Language Testing System) expert and a freelance teacher from Canada, Bryan talked about various career options for students of the department of English in an interaction with the teachers and students at DAV College, Sector 10, today.

While addressing the students, Bryan said, “English has become a global language, the students learning this language can opt for different professions like freelance teaching, corporate training, website designing, human resource development and online teaching.”

While talking about teaching as a profession, he said, “Perseverance and interest are two important elements needed for any profession and so is the case with this profession also, one who is determined and master in his or her field, never falls short of the opportunities.”

Having taught the students at primary, secondary and university level, he said, “Switching to different schools and universities always enriches one’s knowledge, he advised the students to increase their horizon of knowledge from different sources.”

When asked about the shortcomings of the Indian students in spoken English, Bryan said, “The students in India have a good hold on the grammatical part but they lack in communicating, they should enhance their vocabulary by reading more textual stuff other than their syllabus part, they should stay updated with the latest adopted format in the language.”

Anil Sarwal, professor, the English department, DAV, added, “We will be introducing a remedial English course of three weeks for the students from the month of January, in which emphasis would be put on the improvement of grammatical and the communication skills.”



Students’ council submits memo to VC
Seek provision to refund NRI fee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC) submitted two memorandums to the vice-chancellor of Panjab University, R.C. Sobti, today.

The agenda of memorandums was installation of a lift in the Sarojni Hostel extension no. 6 and refunding of NRI fees.

PUCSC president raised an objection on the delay of installation of a lift in the hostel that should have got functional from last year, as appropriate space was left for it.

The boarders are facing a lot of inconvenience and hence, the students’ council strongly demands the installation of lift as soon as possible so that the hostellers may get some relief.

The second memorandum of council demanded the refunding of NRI fee which the students had submitted at the commencement of the session.



Musical soiree at Satluj School
Our Correspondent

Panchkula, December 17
A cultural society, Saraswati Kala Sangam, organised the annual Rajdeep Memorial contest of patriotic songs and a musical soiree at Satluj Public school, here today.

Satluj Public School bagged the running trophy while Bhavan Vidyalya school was declared the runner-up.

Earlier, the programme commenced with Ganesh vandana by president of the society Col. Inderjit Ahluwalia followed by a Saraswati vandna by Ashweriya.

While Maj. Karam Chand Verma (retd) discussed the future activities of the Sangam society, Col. BM Talwar (retd) welcomed the chief guest.



10-day NSS camp inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
A 10-day special NSS camp began at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector-32 C, Chandigarh, today.

It was was inaugurated by district education officer Khushinder Sharma. While addressing students, she stressed the need to work selflessly for uplift of society.

A unique feature of this camp is the initiative taken by the students to form organic manure to save environment.

Meanwhile, Chanchal Singh, deputy district education officer, Chandigarh, also inaugurated 10-day NSS camp at Government Senior Secondary School, Sector 38.

School inspected

Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 16, was inspected by Samwartak Singh, DPI (S).

During his inspection, he inspected fire safety arrangements, classrooms, laboratories and interacted with students of the school.

Singh issued directions to the school authorities that they should make the students aware and train them about disaster management.



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