C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Big brands in Sec 17 take flight
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
In the wake of the global meltdown, certain big brands are bidding adieu to Sector 17. High rentals and dwindling profits have apparently forced the brands to either shut shop or contemplate shifting to comparatively cheaper locations in the city.

The sector, which hit the headlines for having one of the highest rentals in North India and as the favourite favourite destination for big companies about two years ago, seems to be losing out now. While about 10 big brands have already called it a day, at least half a dozen have reportedly served notices on landlords to lower rents, failing which they would move out.

All brands deal in garments, shoes and fashion accessories. Among the brands that have shifted are Annie Smith, Ethnic India, Cantabil, Provogue, and Kipling. Adidas, Dockers, Lee Cooper and Reebok are negotiating the rentals with landlords, much to the disappointment of the latter, sources told The Tribune here today.

“With the economic crisis looming large over companies, the piazza area is turning out to be non-viable option even for major brands.

Tough competition and declining profits have forced the companies to look for alternative cheap locations,” J.P.S. Kalra, general secretary of the traders association of Sector 17, said.

A property consultant said the rate of Rs 400-500 per sq ft in the piazza area seemed unrealistic and it did not made any economic sense.

“The rat race for having a showroom in the piazza area is becoming a thing of the past, as is evident from the flight of major brands from Sector 17,” sources added.

Reasonable rents, ample parking space and more covered area are swinging the scale in favour of sector markets and Mani Majra on the Chandigarh-Kalka highway.

With connectivity to various sectors not a major issue in Chandigarh, wisdom has dawned on the companies that these could survive in any market. This, coupled with affordable advertisement campaigns in the local media, make the brands a profitable proposition in sector markets, particularly upcoming markets, a manager with a mega brand added.



Near and yet so far
Allottees await possession of CHB flats even after 3 yrs
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) is long overdue with the completion of construction of flats under its self-financing schemes launched in 2005 and 2006 in Sectors 49 and 38 (west).

Even as the allottees suffer, the board has earned crores by realising the full amount of these four-storeyed dwelling units and by selling brochures in thousands for these schemes.

Still, it is a distant dream for allottees to own a house in Chandigarh even after making payments as per the board’s instructions.

Official figures speak volumes about the wealth the board has managed to acquire. The board has reportedly conducted draw for the “floor” of the flats for procuring the full amount as the prices vary according to the floors.

Under the self-financing scheme of 2005, the cost of a two-bedroom unit (1,145 sq ft) was fixed at Rs 31.50 lakh for the ground floor, Rs 26 lakh for the first, Rs 25 lakh for the second and third floors, respectively, while Rs 15.90 lakh, Rs 12.40 lakh and Rs 11.90 lakh were fixed for a one-bedroom flat for the ground, first, second and third floors, respectively. The same price was charged for flats under the scheme in 2006.

For 96 two-bedroom flats in Sector 49, the board sold 3,980 brochures (41.5 times over). Similarly, for the same number of units offered for one-bedroom accommodation, 2,468 brochures (25.7 times) were sold.

Both schemes were launched on October 28, 2005, by the UT administrator S.F. Rodrigues and promises were made to hand over the units within two years, but even now the units have not been finished.

The allottees say it’s been almost a year that they paid the full amount of the flats, but are still to get the possession of the units. The delay was putting financial burden on them as they were paying huge interest on the loan, besides paying for rented accommodation.

R.R. Gaur, an ex-serviceman, spent around Rs 14 lakh on the unit. “I have been told that my house would be on the first floor in the one-room category. I have been coming here with my family for the past year only to see no progress has been made,” he rued.

Another allottee spent his retirement benefits on a two-bedroom flat worth Rs 26 lakh, but is yet to get the house. “Ours would be on the second floor, but we don’t know where. We are paying huge rent and interest on the loan and board officials also do not give a clear picture on the status of the houses,” he said.

Even the allottees of the economically weaker in Sectors 49, 52 and Sector 38 have not been spared.

After charging the entire amount that varied from Rs 4.15 lakh to Rs 3.65 lakh, they have no idea in which sector their dwelling unit is.



Mohali youth dies in Kalka rail accident
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 21
A fun trip to Shimla turned tragic for a 22-year-old Mohali resident, Surinder, who died in a rail accident between Dharampur and Sonwar railways stations on the Kalka-Shimla rail section today.

He was a student of BA-I at Government College for Men (GCM), Chandigarh. He along with his cousin Narinder and a friend, Davesh, had left home at about 4 am for Kalka to board a holiday special train for Shimla. The victim was supposed to meet his maternal uncle, Sohan Lal, who works in the railways at Shimla.

A pall of gloom descended on the village of the youth, who was reportedly sitting on the steps of a coach when the mishap took place.

Hardeep, his elder sister, said since he was unmarried and the youngest in the family, he was loved the most.

Meanwhile, the railways has given a compensation of Rs 15,000 to the father of the victim who had gone to get the body.

The injured, Avinash Tewari (7), Varinder (35), Vandana Pandey (30) and Sangeeta (28), all residents of Baltana, have been admitted to the PGI.

A railway official said the treatment of the injured was being borne by the railways.



‘Ghajini’ a hair-razor
Priya Chadha

Chandigarh, December 21
Adding to the hype of the much-awaited film, “Ghajini”, PVR cinemas has gone all out to ensure the success of the film by getting its employees with chocolate looks to sport Aamir Khan’s haircut.

This has lend a new zing to promotional strategies.

“The haircut is one aspect of the film that seems to have become a craze and so we pegged the promotions around it and got some of our employees to sport it,” Chander Mohan, manager of PVR cinemas, Chandigarh, said.

Khan has announced a deal with PVR cinemas, under which, administrative associates and refreshment counter staff have volunteered to sport the trademark “Ghajini” cut.

“Our entire staff has gone in for this haircut and it’s a hit. Even though the movie is yet to release, many people are thronging the theatre for the glimpse of these guys.” Amiya Sen, PVR manager, Ludhiana, said.

“I am a fan of Aamir Khan and I liked his haircut in the promos,” Sandeep Bharadwaj, a staff member, said.

The haircut has caught the fancy of city youth. Arshad, owner of Olega, said: “I have given this cut to at least 30 boys and the number is growing.”


Madanpur Housing Society
Members accuse office-bearers of wrongdoing
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 21
Tempers ran high at Chapparchidi village here when a large number of Delhi-based members of the Madanpur Cooperative House Building Society converged there accusing the managing committee of keeping the members in the dark and indulging in wrongdoing. The centre of dispute was 98.55 acres of prime land owned by the society.

The members had gathered to attend the general body meeting. However, an official of the Punjab Registrar office said the meeting had no legal sanctity as the quorum was not complete.

The members alleged that all 1,100 members were not deliberately informed by the managing committee led by its president Gurdeep Singh. The facts were, however, contradicted by the president. He said the next elections were due in the coming months and he had not indulged in any wrongdoing.

In the wake of 1984 anti-Sikh riots, a number of affected person from Delhi had pooled members to have a safe home in Punjab.

“There has been no progress in the past 23 years since effective control of the society remains with Gurdeep Singh. The society land at Chapparchidi village falls in Sectors 91, 91A and 92 of the master plan. But the president refuses to allow the new governing body to take over and has been holding on to the post for the past many years,” said Manmeet Singh, a member.

He said an inquiry conducted by an inspector of the registrar office, J.S. Kang, had found that elections to the management committee of the society were carried out in a democratic manner.

The society office had not been maintained properly and share certificates not handed over to a majority of members even in the past 22 years, he alleged.

The management, while demanding Rs 100 per sq yard as development charges from members, had done little in the name of development and basic society objectives had still not been met, he added.

Under the aegis of the Madanpur 1984 Riot-Affected Charitable Society, the members pointed out that on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, a revised petition was filed with joint registrar. However, so far there had not been no progress in the case.

Even cooperatives minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh had not come to the rescue of members in spite of the latter having met with the minister several times.

The House Building Cooperative Society was formed to provide land to victims of the 1984 riots and 1,155 persons were enrolled as members. The chunk of land was registered in the name of the society and plots were allotted to the members in 1987. Since the cost of the land had gone up manifold, the society was keeping members in the dark, alleged its members.



Residents confront Ayyapa temple workers
Stall landscape work alleging encroachment

A Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 21
A group of Sector-47 residents allegedly prevented officials of the Ayyapa temple committee from carrying out landscape work behind the temple here today.

The residents reportedly abused them and accused them of encroaching on public land.

Area residents descended on the scene on seeing temple workers carrying out landscape work on a piece of land littered with garbage.

The police also arrived at the scene after heated arguments were witnessed between the two groups.

Area councillor Jatinder Bhatia then tried to calm things down stating that encroachment would not be allowed on the land but work on its beautification could be carried out as it caused no harm to residents.

Area residents alleged that the temple committee was encroaching upon public land, which was earlier being used as a parking lot by residents. Sometime ago, municipal corporation staff had removed encroachment by the temple authorities.

“I have been residing here for the past several years and this is a public land. How can a religious institution encroach upon the land. They were planning to use this land for their own purposes. They abused us when we tried to stop their work,” said Avtar Singh.

Another resident claimed that they had already written to the UT administration and the police, but to no avail.

Denying allegations, Shivdasan, an executive member of the temple committee, said: “This is a public land and we are only trying to beautify it. We had taken permission from the authorities concerned as the area emanated foul smell. We were only cleaning the land when some residents interrupted our work,” said Shivdasan.

He added that the group of residents abused and intimidated them.

The police said no case had been registered in this regard.



Defence Deals
Hike in penalty for foreign vendors sought
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Expressing concern over the government’s limitations to initiate action against foreign vendors violating the terms of the offset policy governing defence deals, a parliamentary panel wants the government to hike the penalty applicable in such cases.

“Stringent and specific clauses should be incorporated in the contracts for imposing heavy financial penalties at the rate of a minimum of 15 per cent per annum in all cases of default and no room is left for any discretion in such matters,’ the standing committee on defence, it its report released yesterday, has stated.

Although offset obligations have to be discharged concurrently with the main contract, any failure on this account, at present, attracts a meagre penalty of 5 per cent.

The committee observed that strangely enough, extension of time for implementing the offset obligation is also stated to be considered with specific order. “There is no doubt that such options leave limited scope with the government in strictly enforcing the requirements under the offset provision, which ultimately proves detrimental to the national interests,” the committee’s report stated.

The offset provision applicable to all capital acquisitions effective from July, 2005, stipulates a minimum required offset of 30 per cent of the indicative cost of the acquisitions under the “Buy (Global)” category and 30 per cent of the foreign exchange component in the “buy and make” category for acquisitions valued at Rs 300 crore or more.

While certain changes are reported to have been made in the Defence Procurement Procedures -2008 in view of the requirement of foreign manufacturers to speed up the offset implementation, the committee stressed that the time limit for discharging liabilities under the offset provision have to be made of essence in the relevant contracts.

The offset policy has large advantages for the Indian industry, both public and private sector. According to the report, three contracts with this clause have already been signed. One is on medium power radars, where the total negotiated cost is Rs 810 crore and the offset value is Rs 243. The other one is fleet tanker for the Indian Navy with a total offset value of Rs 40.78 crore. A number of companies are the offset partners for this, including public sector establishments like ordnance factories

The medium lift helicopters for the IAF, where the total cost of the programme is Rs 552 crore and the offset value is Rs165.6 crore. For the MiG upgrade project, the IAF’s base repair depots are among the beneficiaries. Then there is the long-range maritime reconnaissance anti-submarine aircraft where the offset value is approximately Rs 2,625 crore - significant amount, while the Jaguar upgrade project, valued at Rs 330.6 crore would bring in offsets worth Rs 81 crore.



No rain, no chill for 5 more days
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The temperature in the city will continue to oscillate for the next couple of days as the mercury is expected to dip at night and increase during daytime. According to the meteorological department, the maximum temperature recorded today was 22.6°C and minimum 12°C.

Department reports suggest that in the next few days, there is a little possibility of rain coming due to which temperature will rise during daytime by two to three degrees and fall at night by one to two degrees.

Department director Surinder Pal said the temperature usually varied between 20 and 23 °C during December every year, but the variation was between 25 and 27 °C, which is five degrees above normal, this year.

On high temperatures this year, he said the disturbances from the west to east were very weak, due to which cloudy rains were seen at very high altitudes.

This has resulted in virtually no rain in the city during this month. He added that the disturbances were too frequent as a result of which normal pressure was not building - something that is a must for rain.

Pal said there was no possibility of rain in the next five days, which would result in increase in day temperature here.

He said some change in the temperature of the city would be witnessed only after rain.



Relay hunger strike enters sixth day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
While the relay hunger strike by the ex-servicemen has entered the 6th day today, two retired soldiers have proceeded on a fast unto death. The ex-servicemen are protesting against the government’s attitude towards their demands.

Sepoy Suleman Khan and Naik Rekh Raj are sitting on fast unto death since December 17 and December 20 respectively, a press note issued by the Indian Ex-servicemen Movement said today. The ex-servicemen are holding their protest at the Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.

The statement said one rank-one pension (OROP), which is their main demand, has not been accepted. A group of 11 ex-servicemen, consisting of officers, JCOs and jawans sit on 24-hour relay fast. If their demands are not met, ex-servicemen will intensify their stir and their wives will also join them in the relay fast, the statement added.

Stating that the ex-servicemen had gone to the President, the Prime Minister, the defence minister, MPs and political leaders with their demands, but without any positive outcome. The statement said the rejection of one rank-one pension by the defence minister had left ex-servicemen across the country feeling that they had been cheated by the government.



75,000 children given polio drops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The Chandigarh administration's health department through elaborate arrangements for pulse polio immunisation campaign today provided oral polio vaccine to children in the age group of 0-5 years in Chandigarh.

As many as 463 stationary booths and 66 mobile teams were deputed consisting of about 2,100 personnel belonging to health, education, social welfare department, various nursing institutions, students of GMCH-32, PGIMER, NSS volunteers from various colleges and NGOs. Special arrangement was made to provide the oral polio drops at all entry points to the city ISBT, Sectors 17 and 43, railway station and airport.

The chilly weather and fog in the morning resulted in less beneficiaries reaching booths sites as compared to the last month, however, it picked up as weather improved. By evening maximum attendance was reported from booths located in Bapu Dham, Ram Darbar, Mauli Jagran, Indira Colony, Nehru Colony, Colony No 4, Colony No 5, Dhanas, Dadumajra, Sarangpur, Khudda Jassu and Khudda Lahora.

Dr M.S. Bains, director health and family welfare, and other senior officials of the health department supervised the booth activities and assisted field staff to make the pulse polio immunisation campaign a success.

More than 75,000 children were given polio drops by the end of the day. On December 22 and 23 all leftover children shall be covered by house-to-house visiting teams.

All parents are requested to cooperate with the teams to get their children vaccinated.



Hindi Translator’s Case
CAT quashes termination orders
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
An employee of the Income Tax Appellate has got relief by the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), as the tribunal has quashed her termination orders from the post of Hindi translator passed by the Appellate.

The applicant, Alka Bharti, had challenged the termination orders passed by the Appellate on January 7.

Alka Bharti said she was appointed as a translator on ad-hoc basis on May 16, 2005, for a period of six months. Her tenure was further extended for a period of six months and again on terms and conditions as before.

She alleged that one of the respondents, P.L. Karwande, posted as superintendent, Delhi Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, harassed her by issuing various memorandums for directing her to maintain daily diary while the other employees were not required to do so.

Aggrieved by the memorandums, the applicant made representations on July 25 and 26, 2007, September 10, 2007, and January 7, 2008, stating that she was being victimised by Karwande because she had objected to the sexual harassment though she was doing her duties diligently and honestly.

The respondents, Union of India, income tax appellate tribunal in Mumbai and income tax appellate tribunal in Amritsar replied that the applicant was appointed on the ad-hoc basis for a period of six months or till the post was filled up on a regular basis, whichever is earlier. The respondents further submitted that the applicant was guilty of insubordination, as she did not comply with the directions given with the approval of the senior member.

While another respondent, P.L. Karwande, in a separate reply said the representation dated September 10, 2007 made by the applicant, in which it had been alleged that he was sexually harassing her, was submitted after his transfer from Amritsar to Delhi.

The tribunal held, “It is not a case of termination of ad-hoc tenure of service by afflux of time. The termination is punitive with stigma attached to it as can be seen from the written statement of the respondent, wherein, the respondent hold the applicant guilty of insubordination without holding any proper inquiry. Since the services of the applicant were terminated by finding fault with her way of functioning and without giving her a chance to be heard in a proper inquiry we quash the orders of termination.”



Ru-ba-ru with Punjabi poet
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 21
Writers’ Club, a literary society, organised a face-to-face programme with the acclaimed Punjabi litterateur, Amin Mallik, at the Punjab Kala Bhavan here yesterday. Hailing from Pakistan, Mallik is settled in London for over two decades but his heart beats for the promotion and propagation of Punjabi.

Sharing his views on varied literary issues, sometimes quite divergent and controversial, Mallik lamented that people feel inferior while conversing in Punjabi in the English milieu and modern society. He exhorted the writers to articulate truth in their thoughts and writings to lend a literary health to literature. He lauded Shiv Batalvi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Santokh Singh Dhir and Surinder Kaur for being true to their self in their respective realms. He denounced the forced partition of 1947 and other avoidable events, which perturb the psyche of a sensitive writer. Credited with four books of short stories Mallik is here to release his latest book “Yaadan de pichhvaade”.

The programme started much late than scheduled as Dev Bhardwaj introduced the writer and secretary general of PAC Rajpal Singh honoured him. Poet Sham Singh conducted the programme.



Rights panel for UT, Haryana sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Citizen Forum on Human Rights, an NGO, celebrated its 60th anniversary of universal human rights at Punjab Kala Bhawan here today.

The programme started with two minutes silence for the peace of those people who died in the Mumbai terrorist attack. Sushil Gupta, president of the organization, mentioned that in Chandigarh and Haryana there is no state human right commission. Due to this people are facing many problems. He urged for the formation of human right commission in these states as soon as possible.

Justice R.S. Mongia, chairperson of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, was the chief guest and Swaranjit Kaur, coordinator human rights and duties wing of Panjab University, was the guest of honour. Justice Mongia also educated audience about their rights and duties.



Two PTL units shut
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 21
To maintain a balance between demand and supply of tractors, Mohali and Chappar Chidi-based units of Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL), a subsidiary of Mahindra and Mahindra, has decided to close down the production for six day each of the plants.

Initially the production has been closed at the Mohali plant and in next phase, the six-day close down would be at the Chhar Chidi plant. The plants have a capacity to produce 100 to 120 tractors each month.

The short term close down is a result of the decision of the company to not keep inventory. In the past few days, the inventory had started piling due to slow down in the demand of tractors. The company has denied any layoffs.

Owners of ancillary units feeding the tractor plant said though they had advance order for three months, the plant had stopped lifting their parts for the last five days.



38 lakh to be given polio drops
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 21
Punjab principal secretary, health, A. R. Talwar inaugurated the pulse-polio campaign at Quark Colony here today by administering polio drops to children of the urban slum area.

There was a lot of enthusiasm among the slum-dwellers to get the polio drops for their children. The secretary, health, said a total of 38 lakh children will be administered the polio drops during the current campaign.

He stated that around 30,000 teams had been deputed for the purpose. As many as 16,000 booths had been established throughout the state, besides the transit teams that had been deputed at all the bus stands and railway stations. He added that the left-over children would be covered through house-to-house visits on December 22 and 23.

Dr Avtar Singh, civil surgeon, Mohali, Dr V. K. Goyal, state Immunisation officer, Dr S. P. Surila, district health officer, were also present on the occasion.



Councillor stages protest against Mohali MC
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 21
A municipal councillor living in Sector 70 staged a protest along with residents of her ward outside the office of the municipal council here on Friday alleging that the civic body had failed to provide proper sanitation in the area and free it from the menace of stray animals.

The protesters raised slogans against the council authorities and demanded that they should be provided the basic amenities failing which the protest would be held after involving the residents of other areas as well.

Municipal councillor Baljit Kaur said the sanitation was in a state of neglect in her ward. An open area behind Ivory Towers had been converted into a dumping ground creating unsanitary conditions in the area. The residents were also facing the problem of stray animals and illegally parked rehris. The council authorities had failed to take any action despite several requests.



Village gets Rs 65-lakh aid
Tribune News Service

Zirkapur, December 21
The Punjab cooperation minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, distributed cheques of grants worth Rs 65 lakh for developments works, here yesterday.

The suvidha camp was organised by the district administration at Pabhat village. The camp was inaugurated by Kanwaljit Singh with other local Akali leaders, including Gurmukh Singh, municipal councillor of Ward 11.

During the camp, benefit of various government schemes were provided to the people. Around 248 forms for the Atta-dal scheme were filed on the occasion besides learning driving licenses were issued to many and forms of pension scheme were also filed on the spot.

To promote the ‘Save power campaign’ of the Punjab State Electricity Board, 200 CFLs were distributed on subsidised rates to the consumers.



City Scope
We and our law enforcers
Raveen Thukral

I don't want to sound cynical but it seems that human life comes cheap in our country. Or how else can we explain our insensitivity to loss of human lives, be it in road accidents everyday or in horrific and tragic incidents like the recent Mumbai terror attacks.

Maharashtra's erstwhile Deputy Chief Minister, R R Patil's description of Mumbai's bloodbath as a "small incident" that "can happen in big cities" epitomises the insensitivity of politicians to the loss of human lives. For those who may have forgotten, former UP Minister, Shivpal Yadav, brother of former chief minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav, had described the brutal Nathari killings - rape and murder of innocent girls and children - in a similar fashion by dubbing them as "small and routine".

One can go on quoting incidents like these to highlight the insensitivity of politicians but what about people like you and me? Are we sensitive enough to the pain and death of people other than our near and dear ones? One can't generalise as exceptions and good Samaritans are always there but the bitter truth is that most of us are indeed insensitive to such pain as we feel unconnected to the people who suffer and somehow believe that such tragedies can only happen to others and not us.

The Mumbai terror attack literally stirred an emotional storm, bringing thousands of people on streets throughout the country to express their anger and anguish over the tragedy. It was heartening to see people forming human chains and lighting candles to express solidarity with those who lost their near and dear ones.

Earlier this week, five young students of Swami Devi Dayal Institute of Engineering and Technology, Golpura, on NH 73, about 30 kilometres from Panchkula, were killed in road accident. Candles were lit and a small protest was held by the students of the college but there seems to be no public outrage towards the reason behind the death of these five young boys and many more like them who die everyday on roads somewhere in the country. No one has been held accountable to for these deaths, which certainly were avoidable.

These five young boys - Sri Kant, Jasbir Singh, Deepak Nain, Hardeep Singh, and Kamaljeet Singh- along with five other students of their college were travelling in an auto rickshaw and were crushed under wheels of a speeding truck following a collision between the vehicles. Road accidents can happen but allowing 10 students to travel in an auto rickshaw amounts to overloading, which is against the rules. And someone must be held accountable for it.

Overloading of three wheelers is a common site throughout the tri-city and sometimes one wonders how parents can allow their kids to be stuffed inside these vehicles like sardines. While parents can't escape the blame for exposing their children to risk of accident in their bid to save that extra buck, our law enforcing authorities, primarily the district transport office and the traffic police, are squarely to be blamed for allowing these blatant violations to continue.

It's a well know fact the corruption rules the roost in these two departments and three wheeler drivers and taxi operators shell out monthly payments to break laws with impunity.

The Panchkula administration went on an overdrive following the accident by cracking down on overloaded vehicles, declaring the road outside the college as "no overtaking zone" and imposing speed limits there. These measures sound good but what about fixing responsibility on those who earlier turned a blind eye to the violations, which led to the death of these five students.

Until and unless accountability is fixed, these fresh measures may well prove an eyewash and a mere ploy by the officials to divert people's attention away from their earlier follies. Heads must roll and those at the helm of the traffic and transport department held accountable for their criminal negligence.

The government too cannot escape blame for the tragedy. Following the accident the district administration agreed to the students' demand for increasing the frequency of Haryana Roadways buses during the college peak hours. Why this wasn't done earlier also needs to be explained?

Now coming back to our insensitivity of human lives, while there have been campaigns by rights activities to curb overcrowding of animals, even chickens, in vehicles and cages while transporting them, I can't recall such an effort by any organisation to stop overloading of children in buses, rickshaws or three wheelers. I haven't seen anyone carrying banners or picketing in front of schools decrying overloaded vehicles but have certainly seen the save chicken campaigns at some eateries. There are websites that urge people to help stop overloading of animals by timely informing the police or chasing the offending vehicle but there is nothing similar when it comes to curbing overloading of people in public transports.

If this isn't insensitivity, then what else?

Write to cityeditor@tribunemail.com




City mega projects a farce

This is with reference to Raveen Thukral’s article “Mega projects, mega controversies” published in Chandigarh Tribune, dated December 15, 2008. As per the news reports, almost all projects initiated by the UT administrator have been mired in controversy. For example Education City, where private sector institutions are likely to participate, and hence, the education will remain out of the reach of a common man. Instead of framing the proposal for Education City, the administrator should have mooted the proposal to set up IIT/IIM, which is the need of the hour. Instead of Medicity, there should be a government hospital especially to be set up in southern sectors besides upgrading the dispensaries in various sectors. The taxpayers’ money is wasted ruthlessly on these mega projects without any plausible purpose.

S.K. Khosla


The role of the UT administration was appreciated when the Information Technology Park project was initiated. The famous companies started functioning and the city engineers have been given jobs. Now, the administration has started some mega projects like Medicity, Education City, Film City, Amusement & Theme Park and Warehouses.

The UT adviser and the High Court has issued a notice to the administration for this project that is being given Rs 203 crore and the actual cost of land has been calculated about ten times.Also, the feasibility of the Filmcity project has not been and the Warehouses project too, is in controversy. The bidders of the Education city project have accused the administration of altering the terms and conditions. Thanking

M L Garg


Since the powers in Chandigarh are not working in harmony and they have their own priorities and interests. It is proposed that the issue of projects should be discussed in the advisory council of Chandigarh. The residents are concerned with the development of civic amenities and not the controversies.



There are a number of mega projects such as Medicity, Education City, Film City , Amusement and Theme Park, which have created controversies. In the Medicity project, the adviser has made some objections like the cost and public private participation and the UT administrator overruled these objections in the project. The amusement-cum-theme park has again created controversy, the bidders of the Education city project have accused the administration of altering the terms and conditions. The film city project has been pending for the past four years .The warehouse project has come in the light when the adviser said such projects should be in village and save the costly land for other purposes. The administration takes most of the decisions without transparency and accountability with autocratic functioning. Around two decades ago, the post of the chief commissioner abolished and the powers were given to the Governor, Punjab, as the city administrator. The political parties are demanding that the post of chief commissioner should be revived.

Sahil Garg


None of the reputed private or public top-10 B-Schools of India were motivated to set up their centres in India. Neither an effort was made to get an IIM for Chandigarh, even when the PM wants to set up several new IIMs.

Similarly in Tourism, the stature of Chandigarh demands something like Disney should be set up here, but all the city is getting were pygmy projects.

Again, if we look at MRTS, though I was advocating MRTS like Delhi Metro with a 20-year perspective, the administration wasted a lot of time on deliberations on Mono-Rail.

Anu Chatrath


With half-a-dozen newspapers and over 100 reporters and vigilant citizens fueled by the power of RTI, everything comes under the scanner and hence, there are as many controversies as many projects. The RTI applications have forced the governance to dust the rusty files of mega projects. There are many projects that have been started from time to time and none of these have given the desired results. And the authorities concerned are least interested as a new mega project, Milk Village, has been proposed today, for which a notice for acquisition of over 70 acres of land for milk has been issued. No one worries about the general public. The democratic forces have become a victim of autocratic forces and there seems to be altogether a dissimilarity. The RTI is the only saving grace, as it is the only vehicle that leads straight to controversial files and High Court, or the Central government will take a suo moto note and make efforts to bring out the solution at the earliest.

R K Garg

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



IT-enabled education in thing, says expert
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Shantanu Prakash, managing director, Educomp Solutions Limited
Shantanu Prakash, managing director, Educomp Solutions Limited. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 21
With information technology (IT) making inroads into every sphere of life, the traditional system of education is on its way out paving way for the integrated IT-enabled and innovative system of education.

“In fact, the chalk and talk system fails to address the inquisitiveness of today’s children brought up in a highly-digitalised audio-visual atmosphere. With that end in mind we have come up with the millennium learning system (MLS) to transform the teaching-learning process through the use of technology.,” Shantanu Prakash, managing director, Educomp Solutions Limited, told The Tribune here today.

Parkash, who formally inaugurated Millennium School at Mohali today, said the new curriculum was aimed at implementing innovative models and delivering content to enhance student learning.

A graduate from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, Parkash currently has an employee base of over 4,500 in 39 locations in India, South East Asia and the USA. He is working with over 6-million learners worldwide. He is currently focussed on putting Educomp among the top 10-learning solution companies worldwide by 2010.

The MLS consists of colourful textbooks, a unique dictionary, technology modules, assessment mechanism, co-curricular activities and lesson plans for teachers. The unique system will enable the students to access the latest laptops - classmate personal computers (CMPCs) - providing them with an unmatched edge vis-a-vis internet and IT-based instruction.

Taking the concept of “smart classrooms” further, he said the classrooms would be equipped with large plasma TV using educomps smart class system for learning and governance through technology. The students will carry a lighter bag and innovative homework that enables them to apply concepts.

Parkash is also the founder and managing trustee of the Learning Leadership Foundation (LLF), an organisation dedicated to bringing best practices in education to under-resourced schools.



Regular appointments need of the hour
PU flouts security norms
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Though the security has become a buzzword in Panjab University, the same has never been reviewed by the authorities, as it seems they are busy passing bucks between private security and their own regular security resources.

As per the university records, a number of committees had been constituted during the past one year to discuss the bottlenecks in the security system, but, nothing has been done so far.

Sources revealed the authorities constituted a security review committee about eight months ago to prepare a detailed report about the loopholes in the security system. The committee recommended that the campus security should not be given to a private security contractor, as it would not be suitable for the university. It opined that to make the security personnel respon

The university sources revealed that despite many incidents of violence and stabbing in the university, none of the committees focussed on the need of a revised set up in the security department.

The number of departments are increasing on one hand, but, not even a single post has been added in the security department.

Strangely, the security personnel who were not appointed on a regular basis have not been provided uniforms by the department. The sources said this depicted how concerned the authorities were about the security in the campus. They questioned why the authorities had not created more posts of security personnel, when many new departments had been formed in the campus?

The university vice-chancellor, R C Sobti, said the process of filling of regular posts of security was going on and the posts would be filled soon.



NSS camp at city college
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
District education officer, Khushinder Sharma, inaugurated a week-long NSS special camp at G.M.S.S.S., Sector 23, Chandigarh.

Over 100 volunteers from the school participated in various activities like AIDS awareness, cleanliness, personal hygiene, traffic rules and literacy. The principal, Viney.R. Sood, presided over the opening ceremony.

Musical soiree

The Strawberry Fields Kindergarten’s annual sporty musical soirée presented a 90-minute colourful and musical pageant of sporty items. Capturing the mood of the country by having Lt Gen TK Sapru as the guest of honour, they spoke of the valiant armed forces and how they had, in recent times, proven their mettle yet again. Sapru was happy to note the way academics had been integrated with music and sports in the formative years of schoolgoing children.

He urged parents to send their children to the armed forces saying that, “The country needs such children to don the garb of the men in uniform and to contribute in strengthening the foundations of the country.”



Seminar on economic meltdown
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Indian institute of materials management, Chandigarh, celebrated its 24th annual day by holding a seminar on efficient and effective supply chain in global economic meltdown at Panjab university, here today.

The PU vice-chancellor, R C Sobti, inaugurated the seminar and also presented a chief executive award to the chairman-cum-managing-director of Rahul Sales Ltd and Group of Companies, Onkar Anand.

Around 150 executives from the field of supply chain and material management professionals from the region participated in the seminar. Various experts presented their views on the effect of meltdown on the economy and shared their experiences with supply chain professionals.



First school to implement one-on-one learning
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 21
Shantanu Prakash, managing director (MD), Educomp Solutions Limited, a player in the global education space, today formally inaugurated The Millennium School (TMS) in Sector 67, Mohali.

“All millennium schools are equipped with millennium learning system, a fully integrated learning delivery system consisting of innovative text books, a unique dictionary, technology modules, formative assessment mechanisms, lesson plans for teachers and co-curricular schedules,” said the Educomp MD while speaking at the inaugural function.

He said the Educomp Solutions served over 19,000 schools and 9.4 million learners and educators across India, the US and Singapore. Working in close tandem with the schools implementing innovative models, creating and delivering content to enhance student learning, the company's research-based system is proving immensely helpful for the students who are being introduced to a whole new world of learning methodology with considerable emphasis on projects, group discussions, research work, problem-based learning, presentations, etc.

Komal Singh, principal of the school, said it was the first school in Punjab, as well as among the first few in India to implement one-on-one learning wherein every child was given a laptop that enhances teaching-learning in classrooms.

She said the school shared the Educomp's advanced millennium learning system (MLS) that was being implemented by a number of Millennium School branches in Noida, Amritsar and other major cities. “For continuous professional development, over 120 hours per academic year will give a distinct advantage to our instructors and teachers.” To make teaching effective, the teacher student ratio was of 1:12 and small class size helped in customised learning with regards to specific student.



From Schools
Xmas carnival at school
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 21
“X-Mas Carnival-2008” was held on the occasion of the Saupinites’ Panchkula Alumni (SPA) Meet here today.

Various fun games like pull the thread, feeding the joker, hoopla, key to success, learn French in one minute, joy rides and sumptuous food stalls made the event a roaring success. Visitors won attractive prizes at various stalls and in the lucky dip. An added attraction at the carnival was a beautifully dressed Santa Claus, who distributed gifts among all. The highlight of the carnival was “Rock On- music on demand stall”. The dance floor attracted a huge crowd.

Other attractions included a tattoo stall, a stall displaying economical and eco-friendly jute items, paper bags, greeting cards, etc. This entertainment came with a noble cause too as part of the money collected is being utilised to help aged and destitute children and also for the school students’ welfare.

Christmas celebrated

Students of Delhi Public School, Pinjore, take part in Christmas celebrations
Students of Delhi Public School, Pinjore, take part in Christmas celebrations on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Christmas was celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal at DPS, Pinjore, today before students proceeded for winter vacations. Christmas carols were sung and a nativity play was also enacted beautifully. The children made merry with a lot of singing and dancing.

The message and significance of celebrating Christmas was brought home by the students and teachers. Finally it was time for Santa Claus to arrive, which he did in his red robe and white flowing beard with a bag full of sweets for the children.



PU quiz winners set for national youth fest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The Panjab university quiz team, which won in the 24 th North Zone Inter-University Youth Festival, will participate in the national youth festival at Medinipur, West Bengal, in January, 2009.

The members of the winning team were the students of DAV, Sector 10, Akshay Bishnoi, Swati Mittal and Gurinderpal Singh. Around 15 teams participated in the event.

The quiz team earlier got the first prize in the inter-college quiz contest organised by the Chandigarh administration in January, 2008, and also won the quiz competition in the PU Youth Festival in 2007-2008.



Special children put up dance show
Priya Chadha

Chandigarh, December 21
“Disability should not be linked with mercy or grief but with uprightness and encouragement,” said Promila Chandra Mohan, principal of Society for Rehabilitation of Mentally challenged (SOREM), at Comprehensive Centre, here today.

Special children showcased a dance show at the centre, which was choreographed by Shiamak Davar and his team from Mumbai. They trained the children in two weeks.

“I got to know that Shiamak is in the city. When I approached him, he asked me about the budget and I told him that our budget is zero.Hhe trained these special children free of cost,” Promila said.

Greatest spur and perseverance witnessed the thrills and joys of these special children while they were dancing with the trainees. “I enjoy dancing and my parents have come to see my dance,” Minni, a special kid, said.

While sharing her experiences with the special kids, one of the trainees from Shiamak Davar’s institution Akshita said, “It was a great feeling and now it has become difficult for us to leave these kids and go back to Mumbai,”.



Event proceeds go to slum kids

Mohali, December 21
More than 100 students from Mohali participated in the 22nd mega event organised by the Rockstar Academy, Mohali.

Students from the British School, Ryan International, Vivek High School, St. Stephen’s, St. Xavier’s, Carmel, Chitkara, DPS, YPS and Jeevan Mukt, performed in various events. Dances on Indian, western, classical and hip-hop tracks with colourful dresses were the major attractions of the event. The money collected from the show has been donated to the Jeevan Mukt Nishulk Vidayalaya, which provides free food and study to the slum area children. — TNS



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