C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Stage set for mayoral polls; Cong, SAD-BJP candidates file papers
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Congress candidates are all smiles while filing their nomination papers on Friday.
Congress candidates are all smiles while filing their nomination papers on Friday.
Seen in the picture are H.C. Kalyan (left), Vijay Rana (3rd from left) and Kamlesh.

BJP candidates Ram Lal (2nd from right), Gurnam Singh and Rajesh Gupta after filing their nomination papers on Friday.
BJP candidates Ram Lal (2nd from right), Gurnam Singh and Rajesh Gupta after filing their nomination papers on Friday. Tribune photos: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 26
Stage is all set for Mayoral elections of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation scheduled for January 1 with the candidates filling their nominations on the last day today.

While the Congress and the BJP-SAD alliance fielded their candidates on all the three posts, including Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor, the BSP did not field any candidate this time.

There are a total of 36 voters in MC House, including the sitting Member of Parliament. Out of 36, the Congress has 15, including a sitting MP, eight from the BJP-SAD and four from the BSP. Besides, there are nine nominated councillors who have the right to vote.

This year, the Mayor’s post is reserved for a Schedule Caste candidate. While the BSP had no Mayoral candidate from the reserved category, it did not field any candidate for the remaining two posts of Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

The BSP had already announced its stand of not supporting either the Congress or the BJP on the plea of their national policy, insiders claim that the move was aimed to safely escape the defeat keeping in mind lesser number of BSP councillors.

Interestingly, the BSP is only supporting Gurnam Singh of the SAD for the post of Senior Deputy Mayor, who is fielded by BJP-SAD joint front. Also, the BSP’s move to support Gurnam Singh is seen as the party’s bigger step towards gaining Sikh votes in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

On the other hand, keeping in mind the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has fielded Kamlesh, a three-time councillor to secure maximum votes from the colonies. While resentment is brewing among the Congress councillors over Kamlesh’s candidature, the party leaders are trying hard to keep their 14 councillors intact.

The Congress has fielded H.C. Kalyan for the post of Senior Deputy Mayor, even though his supporters were trying hard for his candidature for the post of mayor till yesterday. By fielding him for the post of Senior Deputy Mayor, the Congress has not only tried to get the SC votes but also minimised the chances of cross voting.

As for the nominated councillors, four of them had been regular at the Congress meetings, while the party claims to have six of them in their support.

It may be a win-win situation for the Congress nevertheless it doesn’t deter the BJP-SAD joint front to pin their hopes on nominated councillors who were instrumental in Harjinder Kaur’s victory last year who won the Mayor elections by a margin of single vote. The BSP with its four councillors has so far refused to support the joint front, even though the negotiations are still on.

Election observers believe that if the BJP and BSP were keen to wipe out the Congress, they could have come together. It only indicates that more than the Mayoral polls it’s the Lok Sabha elections that everyone is eyeing.



Kamlesh (Mayor), H.C. Kalyan (Senior Deputy Mayor), Vijay Rana (Deputy mayor)


Ram Lal (Mayor), Gurnam Singh (Senior Deputy Mayor), Rajesh Gupta Bittu
(Deputy Mayor)

Superstitious candidate

Congress candidate Kamlesh, who is contesting for the post of Mayor, shocked everyone when she insisted on filing her nomination papers standing in a particular direction. With her insistence, all the mediapersons who had gathered there had to shift their place. It was revealed that a “pandit” had advised her to file her papers facing the sun.

Ex-mayor flays Chhabra

Harjinder Kaur, former mayor and a SAD councillor, lashed out at the outgoing Mayor Pardeep Chhabra. She criticised him for participating in the press conference organised by the Congress on Thursday against the UT Administrator. Harjinder Kaur said that the Mayor in his official capacity was setting wrong precedents by participating in such events when he represents the Municipal Corporation and not any political party.



ASP Verma accused of thrashing complainant
Tribune News Service

Arvind Kumar Pandey (inset) shows injury marks at the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital in Sector 16, Chandigarh, on Friday.
Arvind Kumar Pandey (inset) shows injury marks at the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital in Sector 16, Chandigarh, on Friday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 26
Arvind Kumar Pandey, on whose complaint the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested Neelam police post in-charge Sanjeev Kumar in a corruption case on November 7, today accused ASP (Central) Madur Verma of beating him up mercilessly at the Sector-17 police station, here this morning.

A team of CBI officials took Pandey, a Sector 17-based bookseller, to the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, this evening, after he approached top CBI officials and apprised them of the incident. A board of doctors at the hospital examined him.

Pandey, who had a limp and struggled while talking, showed lash marks on his back to mediapersons at the hospital. The right side of his face was swollen and had lash marks on it.

Narrating the incident, Pandey said: “I went to Verma’s office at the police station around 11.45 am to enquire about the status of my complaint regarding the possession of my booth in the Sector-17 market. Without listening to me, Verma yelled at me saying I was carrying a tape recorder with me to trap him. He then asked his gunmen, who were three in number, to remove my pullover and thrash me. They all began raining blows on me. They pulled me down to the floor and kicked me repeatedly.”

Pandey’s brother Shailender Pandey told the TNS that Pandey returned to his shop and did not say anyone about the incident. On finding him unwell, he took him to the hospital, but the latter did not reveal the truth out of fear to doctors.

When they went home, he narrated the entire incident to Shailender and they decided to report the matter to the CBI.

On reason behind approaching the CBI, Pandey said: “I have lost all hope of getting justice from the police after being beaten up by such a senior officer.” Verma, on the other hand, refuted the allegations terming them baseless and a ploy to pressure the police.

He admitted that Pandey had come to his office and asked him to get his booth vacated. “I told him that the matter was sub-judice and the police could do nothing in this regard. At this, he left my office within two-three minutes, saying he will look to it. I was a little surprised at his remark, but did not bother much.” Pandey’s brother and supporters raised slogans against the Chandigarh police and Madur Verma at the hospital and said they would launch an agitation seeking action against Verma and registration of a case against him.

After the medical examination, Pandey was taken home and his brother said they would lodge a complaint with the police tomorrow.

Meanwhile, DIG (CBI) B.L. Soni told the TNS that Pandey had come to the CBI office and narrated the incident. “As he was a complainant in a corruption case registered by the CBI against a police officer, it was our duty to protect and provide aid to the victim if he was being intimidated.” He clarified that the matter did not come under the jurisdiction of the CBI and it was the job of the local police to take action in this connection. He added that he would take up the issue with senior officers.



Rodrigues-Mehra Spat
Administrator cancels adviser’s leave
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The battle of wits between UT Administrator S.F. Rodrigues and his adviser Pradip Mehra seems never-ending.

Close on the heels of the administrator and the adviser crossing swords over the former’s pet but controversial mega projects, the administrator today cancelled Mehra's leave.

Mehra had reportedly applied for three days' leave to go to New Delhi. However, sources said that Rodrigues cancelled the leave as certain “pressing issues”, including the controversy surrounding three months' extension to UT chief engineer Krishanjit Singh beyond December 31 and issue of the film city, were still pending.

Mehra had opposed extension to Krishanjit Singh on the ground that he was an officer of “dubious integrity” in the wake of vigilance inquiries pending against him.

However, Rodrigues had hit back at the adviser saying that his appointment as the regular chief engineer had been cleared by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and according to the rule, he (administrator) was competent to grant extension of three months to him.

However, the flashpoint between the two reached when Mehra, in his hard-hitting note to the administrator, demanded an inquiry by an independent Central agency into the allotment of prime 30 acres of land to the Parsvnath Developers for the film city in Sarangpur here.

The adviser pointed out that the benchmark price of Rs 175 crore for the project was “grossly undervalued”. In the backdrop of the controversy surrounding the project, Parsvnath had recently expressed its desire to withdraw from the project.

After the Central Vigilance Commission probe and the withdrawal of powers to write annual confidential reports (ACRs) of his subordinates from Mehra, the latest act of cancelling the leave is set to start another round of confrontation between two top functionaries of the UT administration, the sources added.



Film City
To seek ‘factual report’
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Hurt by the Congress and adviser to the UT Administrator Pradip Mehra’s demand for a CBI probe into the alleged irregularities in allotment of multimedia-cum-film city project to the Parsvnath Developers, UT Administrator S.F. Rodrigues is likely to seek a “factual report” from the finance secretary.

Sources said the administrator was set to order the preparation of the report to allay the fears from different quarters that all bidders were not given a level playing field and undue haste was shown in clearing the project.

The report would be used to “respond” to the allegations levelled by Mehra in his strongly-worded note to the administrator on the project. Earlier, the administrator was reportedly planning to ask Mehra to prepare report, but now he seems to have changed his mind.

While responding to Parsvnath Developer’s recent move to withdraw from the project, Mehra had raised questions on the evaluation of the land for the same and said that the benchmark figure of Rs 175 crore was grossly “undervalued”.

Taking cognisance of media reports on the project, Mehra said these controversies raised doubts on whether the procedures were followed and all bidders were given a level playing field. Stating that the examination of the relating file showed that no project report was prepared prior to its initiation, Mehra said, “Its absence raises disturbing issues as the project’s outlay was over Rs 500 crore.”

Mehra also questioned the haste behind the clearance of the project by pointing out that the proposal was moved by the Director (IT) and was approved by the Finance Secretary and the then Adviser and the Administrator on the same day.

Responding to Parsvnath's desire to withdraw from the project, Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar had suggested the setting up a committee, comprising the Home Secretary, the Deputy Commissioner and the Director (IT) to negotiate for a mutual and amicable termination of the agreement between the administration and the Parsvnath Developers.

The Administrator's move to entrust the preparation of the "factual report" to the Finance Secretary seems to be a "knee jerk" action to the growing demand for a CBI inquiry into the mega projects. After the Adviser, the local unit of the Congress yesterday demanded a CBI inquiry, besides asking the Administrator to go on leave till the completion of the inquiry.



Whither Norms?
Party’s on at Aerrizona
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Contravening the agreement with the Chandigarh administration and giving a go-by to the building bylaws, Aerrizona, a discotheque, in Sector 9 is brimming with activity.

Yesterday, a theme party was organised in the basement of the discotheque on the occasion of Christmas despite the fact that the management has entered into an accord with the administration to suspend all activities till they removed objections raised by the administration regarding building use.

Terming it a blatant violation of “misuse of premises” norms, officials in the enforcement wing of the estate office said under the Public Premises Act, Aerrizona premises would be sealed and “eviction notice” along with penalty served to the management.

The penalty, the officials said, would be calculated at Rs 10 per sq ft for the misuse of basement floor.

Finance Secretary-cum-Chief Administrator Sanjay Kumar had issued a notice to the Aerrizona management for violating the building norms by “misusing the basement” area. However, Surinder Singh, the owner of the discotheque, was not available for comments despite repeated attempts.

When the TNS visited the discotheque around 11.45 pm, bouncers at the entrance confirmed that Rs 1,000 had been fixed for “stag entry” and Rs 500 for “couple entry”.

To top it all, the activities were being carried out right under the nose of the police. A PCR Gypsy (CH 01 G1 6226) was present in the adjoining parking lot at the time when the party was in full swing. The police squad apparently did not have any inkling about the administration’s orders, but it reflected lack of coordination between the administration and the Chandigarh police.

Estate office officials, when apprised of the development, said it was a breach of trust on part of the Aerrizona management to organise any activity without getting their approval.

“It was not in our knowledge but the matter calls for attention. Without getting the ‘no objection certificate’ from the estate office, they are not supposed to organise any activity at the discotheque,” said the officials.

Objecting to the “habitable use” in the basement of the building, the Chandigarh administration had issued a notice to the discotheque management to stop the activities in the basement area.

The decision on the matter was taken in the court of Chief Administrator Sanjay Kumar on November 5. Representatives of Aerrizona had voluntarily consented in the court to suspend all activities of the discotheque in the basement till they met the mandatory conditions of building norms.

Officials in the administration said other discotheques in Sectors 8 and 9 that were running similar ‘commercial activities’ in the basement were also on their list.

“The process is on to issue similar notices to discotheques running in Sectors 8 and 9,” said estate office officials.

The administration had objected that the basement of these buildings did not have “alternative escape route” to meet any emergency circumstances.



15 pc hike in school fee on cards
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The city schools might raise the fee up to 15 per cent in order to accommodate the Sixth Pay Commission’s proposals.

Close on the heels of the proposal submitted to the authorities by their Delhi counterparts demanding 50 per cent hike in the fees to cope up with the 50 per cent raise for schoolteachers as suggested by the commission, the city schools are, though not sure of the percentage, but are all set to revise the fee structure.

“It is indispensable as if the staff has to be benefited from the commission’s directive we will have to raise the fee. We will have a meeting to decide the exact hike for all four DAV institutions of the city,” said Madhu Bahl, principal KBDAV, Sector 7.

“We have just increased our fee by 10 per cent after discussing the matters with the parents association and I think we might also have to raise it a little more to accommodate the commission’s recommendations,” added ABS Sidhu, principal, Saupins School, Sector 32.

With nursery admissions underway in many schools, the parents who have been charged interim fee revealed that they have been told to expect the fees to be increased in the next session.

For the parents, the hike may translate into cutting down on children’s extra-curricular or leisure activities. Ritu Kumar whose son study at one of the renowned schools said the hike was unjustified. “They are shifting the burden to us. This is something that will pinch the parents’ pockets,” she said. “If at all they have to increase, at least they should include the other activities in the fee. I am paying extra for things like soccer classes for my son which can be included in the next fee structure,” said Kumar.


Tourism police nowhere in sight
Archit Watts

Foreign tourists shop at Sector 17 plaza in Chandigarh on Friday.
Foreign tourists shop at Sector 17 plaza in Chandigarh on Friday. Tribune photo: Himanshu Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 26
Where is the tourism police in the city? Just after the three months of the formation of tourism police, they are hardly seen anywhere. A total of 100 cops were trained as tourism police.

The cops, including lady police were trained from Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management (CIHM) and were taught basics of foreign languages, including English, French and Italian.

While visiting the major tourist places, including some important places like, Airport, Sukhna Lake, Government Museum and Art Gallery, Rock Garden and Sector 17 Plaza, revealed that there was no police personnel wearing tourism badge.

The concept of tourism police was started to protect the tourists in the city and the cops were trained to help tourists in getting transport and lodging at appropriate rates and without much hassle at railway station, airport, ISBTs, important tourist places and shopping malls to provide safety against cheats and bag lifters at these places.

Being a Tricity, the city has many tourist places and on the occasion of World Tourism Day-27th September, SK Jain, IG, UT police launched this concept.

When asked about the tourism police, a foreigner couple at Sector 17 plaza replied, “We are not aware about the tourism police and haven’t seen them. We are here in the city from the past two days and are disturbed with the beggars, even during last time when we visited the city, the problem was same, they added.

Even cops on the condition of anonymity admitted that this concept is useless and to help tourists is part of our duty then what is the need of tourism police?

However, a senior police official denied the allegations and said tourism police is doing well, only wearing badge is not the concept and if the cops are not wearing badges then we’ll check.



Social activist questions hike in RTI fee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
With the revelation of the alleged land scams and amid the recent claims of the Chandigarh's Administrator SF Rodrigues that his actions were transparent, the war over allegations of creating hurdles in obtaining information and the issue of increase in RTI fee has once again gained momentum.

Not ready to leave the matter, social activist Hemant Goswami, has filed a complaint directly to the Parliamentary committee on subordinate legislation.

In the seven page complaint sent to the subordinate legislation committee headed by Najma Heptulla and also to the law ministry, Goswami, has claimed that the action of increasing the RTI fee by the Chandigarh Administration was absolutely illegal, against the spirit of the RTI Act and a blatant misuse of the powers to promulgate subordinate legislation.

The complaint reads, "The rules are not only bad in law but also misconceived and have been promulgated with dishonest intentions to cover corrupt deeds as are now being widely reported in the media. The UT administrator is an unelected appointee and has no power to promulgate a delegated legislation, parallel to the one already in existence with the due sanction of the Parliament of India and the lawfully elected Government of India. A few executives having a vested interest to hide the information in connivance with an unelected political appointee have no power to hijack the democracy and the Constitution and start doing things which only the Parliament of India is empowered to do."

Naming UT administrator SF Rodrigues and the then Home Secretary Krishna Mohan, the complaint mentions that the promulgation of the new rules called "Union Territory, Chandigarh, Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005," and "Union Territory, Chandigarh, Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) (Amendment) Rules, 2008" by way of notification was incorrect.

Making rules by using the provisions of Section 28 of the RTI Act for the office of "Administrator" appointed under Article 239 of the Constitution and thereafter increasing its scope so that the rules may apply to the Central Government governed area of the UT was incorrect and done without any authority, was illegal and created a parallel governance system outside the purview of the law established by the Constitution and the Parliament, the complaint added.

Goswami challenged the administrator to explain that on what basis he increased the RTI fee to such unreasonable levels when all other union government offices were functioning properly with the same Central Government RTI rules and fee.

“If he is so honest, then why does he not follow the provisions of Section 4 and put all papers and the complete files relating to all projects along with the basis on which decisions have been taken on the internet for everyone,” he added.



Youths burn rubber post midnight
Harpreeti Bassi and Sheetal Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 26
Amidst the hoopla surrounding the non-existent night life in the city, exists the saga of those who defy this paucity their own way, long after the life in the city officially goes to bed.

Shifting their focus from the age old trend of late night partying, disguised behind dropped shutters of discos, the youth can be seen engaging in a much more hazardous activity- drifting. It is certainly not something for the slow and the timid, and not worrying about the risks involved, the youth considers this a new way of maintaining the status quo of being the risk taker.

“This cult started soon after the release of the movie, ‘The Fast and the Furious- Tokyo Drift’, and is still going strong,” says Sahil Sharma (name changed), a student.

The auto fanatics can be seen drifting their cars in the parking area around the famous tank in Sector 10. The place has been tagged as the drifting zone of the city.

Khilesh (name changed), a pro-drift racer says, “We call this honour racing. It is the ultimate way of flaunting your power machines and your control over them. The uncertainty and the risks involved are down right thrilling.”

He adds, “Some people call drifting just a waste of good tyres, but it is quickly getting big. I see a lot of new drifters in the zone almost every time I am there. Although it is extremely exciting and fun, people forget that it requires a lot of practice. Sometimes the inexperienced drifters get carried away and the result is smashed cars.”

Nitin (name changed) is among those who have had an accident while drifting, but he still hasn’t quit. “You learn from your mistakes and carry on. It is how you gain respect amongst the group. Mishaps happen everywhere. It doesn’t mean that you stop doing it,” said Nitin.

Another place of interest is towards the hills. There is a reserved forest in the outskirts of the city, hardly ten minutes drive away, near the Kansal village. The place gives the feeling of being in a forest. It has a long stretch of road, which is perfect for racing.

The place is often so crowded that you would not even realise that it is so late in the night. No feelings of seclusion here.

“This is the kind of place you would want to get together with friends for booze. It is so close to nature. The icing on the cake is that the place is so far from the civilization that neither we disturb anyone nor does anyone come to restrict us,” says Sumit (name changed).



Civic body flouts norms
Dumps solid waste in unscientific manner
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, December 26
The civic body has not been dumping municipal solid waste in a scientific manner in the industrial area, here.

The waste is also being transported in uncovered vehicles by the contractors concerned and thrown in the dumping ground. Besides, it is not being buried and covered in accordance with the norms.

These were among the findings of a four-member committee set up by the deputy commissioner, Rahul Bhandari, to check the dumping area and submit a report.

The panel members were the additional chief administrator, GMADA, SDM, executive officer of the body, and the assistant environment engineer of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

A joint report submitted by the SDM to the DC on December 15 stated the solid waste was being dumped opposite an industrial unit , Masterline, in an unscientific manner.

No proper fencing of the dumping area was done to prohibit the entry of unauthorised persons into the area, no entry or exit gates had been put up, a green belt along the inhabited area was not provided, the layer of earth on the dumped garbage was not there as per the specifications and no handpump was installed to check the quality of underground water.

The contractor available at the dumping site was suggested to divide the entire area into five or six zones and garbage be dumped in each zone on a rotation basis and after burying the waste, it should be covered with a 10 cm layer of earth.

The report also stated the civic body had stopped dumping garbage in the area close to the PSIEC residential colony. The waste dumped earlier had been properly buried and there was no foul smell in the area. No barbed wire fencing, however, had been done around the dumping site.

It is pertinent to mention here the civic body had stopped dumping garbage in the area close to the PSIEC residential colony only after residents of the Industrial area protested against it and the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the civic body not to dump garbage near the housing colony.

The residents were allotted plots by the PSIEC in 2002, but, a year later, the government acquired 13 acres of land falling in Sohana village for dumping garbage.

Later, the council started dumping garbage near the industrial units much to the annoyance of the owners.



Tampering with MRP blatant at railway stations
Harpreeti Bassi and Sheetal Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 26
Oblivious of their rights, the consumers in the city are being openly deceived by unfair trade practices at the eateries, especially at the ones frequented by hundreds of people daily.

Topping the list in such cases, by alleged tampering with the printed MRP are the food stalls in the railway station, leased by IRCTC. On a visit to the station, it was found that, the MRP of a Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate costing rupees 20, has been changed to 25 and is being sold at this overpriced rate.

“Overpricing is a big issue in the city. We often come across complaints of the retailers selling our products at higher prices, but we have never come across any case of meddled MRP,” said Ajay Kumar Shukla, sales officer, Cadbury, Chandigarh.

However, on being shown the sample of the chocolate, he said, “The tampering is obvious and I can assure you that this can only be done at the tertiary level. The company cannot be held responsible.”

“For years this is being practiced, even though it is a punishable offence under the Consumer Protection Act. Yet the purchasers are not objecting,” said KC Gupta, president, state consumer commission, Chandigarh. He also admitted that the airport, railway station and the bus stands were the most troublesome areas where the gullible tourists are duped by the unscrupulous traders.

Another such case can be seen in the rock garden, where a 300ml bottled soft drink is being sold for Rs 15, five rupees higher than its MRP. Similar is the case with other products such as mineral water, milk, mango drinks and so on.

When questioned, Shehnaz, the salesperson promptly pointed towards a rate list displayer at the stall and said, “We have been ordered to charge the products according to this and not at the MRP.”

Without any fear of being prosecuted, the stall owner has been duping his customers for almost a year. “I made the rate list. All that I can say is sorry.” said Pramod Mishra, the owner of the stall.



Celebrations have a special meaning at old age home
Priya Chadha and Pawan Tiwari

Chandigarh, December 26
If distribution of sweets and clothes is what one confines their New Year celebrations to, the zest and fervour at Old Age Home and Bal Niketan Ashram, Sector 15, is sure to take everybody in for a sweet surprise.

The moment you walk in, excitement takes a toll, as the kids are busy preparing items for the celebrations, the elders were putting together decorative pieces as they share their lives over a cup of tea.

“The very fact that things were not fine at home brought me here. I belong to a well-to-do family, my sons fleeced me and sold all my property, they admitted me to this old age home and never looked back, now I don’t even have money to spend on my treatment but the love and support I got here has made my life worth living”, said Raj Arora, an inmate.

“This is my family now. My blood relations disowned me but everybody out here supported me and I enjoy the bond I share with them and I am looking forward to celebrate New Year with them”, said Surender Kumar Bhalla, another inmate.

The elder lot has surely found their best pals amongst the orphanage inmates who have given them all love, care and respect that blood relations could not.

“All of us decorated the ashram and organised a dance party, we celebrate all festivals with cheer and zeal”, said Seema, a Bal Niketan kid.

The organiser of the function Jagdish Lal Ahuja, chairman of Jagdish Old Age Sansthan, said, “They might not be as lucky as you and me but their zeal to live is commendable. Every single festival they celebrate, actually salutes their togetherness and courage to live rather than exist.”



Ailing boy needs help
A Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 26
Karan, a three-and-half-year-old son of a labourer of Burail village, awaits treatment for a complicated heart ailment. He needs immediate heart surgery for cyanotic heart disease.

With meagre income, his father Anand is finding it hard to arrange Rs 1.5 lakh needed for the operation.

Describing the condition of Karan, Dr Shachi Joshi Samra said: “Karan is suffering from a complicated heart ailment and surgical intervention is direly needed to help him survive.”

Anand said: “I have full faith in God and hope that a philanthropist or an NGO will come forward to help us.” On the other hand, Karan’s mother has lost all hope.

Grecian Hospital, Mohali, where the boy is being treated, has already announced a discount of Rs 50,000 towards the patient’s surgery.

The family has requested donors to step forward and help save their child. Donors can contact the family at Grecian Hospital or call mobile No. 98550-70390.



Verification drive from today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Chandigarh police will launch a special tenant and servant verification drive in the wake of the recent terror attacks in the country and in anticipation of the New Year’s Eve and Republic Day.

The police said the drive would be launched from Saturday in an attempt to verify the antecedents of recent settlers in the city.

The drive would continue for 15 days and the residents would be required to
submit the verification forms with details about their servants and tenants along
with a photograph.

The beat staff and personnel from police stations would also collect forms from the doorstep while residents could submit the same at the police stations concerned.



Blocking Natural Flow of Choes
Department seeks status report
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 26
Punjab’s town and country planning department has sought no-objection certificate from Mohali district administration regarding the status of the case, wherein, Ansal API Township had blocked the natural flow of a choe at Chhapar Chidi village.

Without the NOC from the administration, the town planning department could delay necessary approvals for the project. A similar report has also been sought from the drainage department.

It may be mentioned that after the case of the private builder (encroaching upon natural flow of choes) came to light, the Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandhari, had constituted a committee of the district town planner, executive engineer PWD and executive engineer drainage to identify similar cases where builders had encroached upon the natural flow of choes in the area.

In June this year the builder had been asked to demolish the construction that was obstructing rainwater drainage of the village. The villagers had approached the court stating that the construction had not only stopped the drainage of Chhapar Chidi but also of six more villages. The block rainwater drain had affected Balongi, Bariali, Desumajra, Ballomajra, Chajjumajra, Santemajra, Chhapar Chiri Kalan and Khurd.

Sources in the department said though the builder had made arrangement for passing of rainwater. But the official report to be submitted by the district administration would reveal the status.

The Deputy Commissioner said though he was to get the letter of the town planning department, the moment it comes the status report would be filed. The SDM, Kharar, has also been asked to prepare a status report of all such builders who had blocked the natural flow of choes.



‘Mohali cable operators dictating terms’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 26
The Consumers’ Protection Forum, Mohali, submitted a memorandum to Deputy Commissioner Rahul Bhandari at a function organised in connection with the National Consumer Day on Monday.

They demanded liberty for residents while subscribing to the services of cable operator of their choice instead of being forced to avail the services of the operator functioning in their area.

Chairman Albel Singh Shyan said consumers were allegedly being compelled to avail of the services of a particular operator, as operators had allegedly taken over the system and residents were left at their mercy. Necessary orders should be issued in this regard, they demanded. It was also pointed out that rates of various commodities had not come down in spite of reduction in the prices of petrol and diesel.

For the benefit of consumers, they urged that shopkeepers be asked to display the rate list. Also, field officers must ensure its implementation by conducting surprise checks. The forum demanded that community centres that were illegally occupied by various government agencies be vacated because residents were facing difficulties in holding social functions.

They also sought a railway booking office at a central location and exemptions from octroi on power bills and imposition of power cuts in the town by the PSEB.



Watch out for kidney infections during winter,
say experts

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Winters are not just about the odd bouts of cold and asthma attacks. City’s hospitals report higher incidents of kidney and urinary tract infections during the season.

According to experts, almost 10-20 per cent cases are reported during this period. “It happens from the time the temperature starts dipping and the higher levels of air pollution. These coupled with less intake of water as the chill sets in often cause renal functions go awry," said a doctor at PGI.

Dr Varinder Singh Virdi, consultant pediatric nephrologist, Grecian hospital said, “The rate of infection tends to increase during the winter months. There is a viral shift, which means that a new set of pathogens are circulating in the air. Children are particularly prone to kidney problems because of less intake of water and frequent urination as lower temperatures cause the bladder to contract more.”

Children as a rule have low immunity. So they are more likely to fall prey to both renal and respiratory infections-the latter, doctors say, often has an effect on the kidney.

Kidney diseases, doctors’ point out, have in recent years developed a strong lifestyle correlation with a spurt in the diabetes and blood pressure. These are the leading reasons for the manifold increase in kidney diseases in the city. The conditions usually register a seasonal variation, worsening in winter owing to several factors.

Expert said there is less sweating in winter so there is a tendency to retain salts in the body. Besides, there is less intake of water. These cause blood pressure to shoot up and in turn affect the kidneys.



2 hospitals to have blood storage facilities
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The UT health department has decided to start blood storage system at civil hospital, Mani Majra, and Polyclinic, Sector 22, here. “It should be opened in the next three to four weeks,” said officials in the health department.

“It is almost ready and we will inaugurate it soon. The staff has already been trained for this purpose,” said Dr MS Anand, malaria officer, UT. This facility would definitely help the patients admitted here.

“It will be operational for 24 hours, making blood of various groups available at all times. With the latest equipment, there are component splitting facilities because of which blood from one person can be given to five to ten persons,” said Dr Anand.



Soldiers in Paramilitary
‘Distressed’ panel for time-bound entry
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Dismissing the stance of the Ministry of Defence on the issue of lateral induction of armed forces personnel into paramilitary forces, a parliamentary panel has urged the government to make concerted efforts to settle the issue in a positive manner without any further loss of time.

“We find it rather strange that the Ministry of Defence has termed induction of ex-servicemen in the central paramilitary forces as a complex issue,” Parliament’s Standing Committee on Defence has stated in its report released this month.

Lateral induction was mooted to ensure proper resettlement of service personnel being retired to keep the age profile of the armed forces young.

It would also help in reducing the government’s pension bill, besides enabling paramilitary forces, which are in the process of raising a large number of new battalions, get disciplined and trained manpower.

“The committee is not satisfied with the replies given by the ministry that the issue of lateral entry remains contentious and intractable due to factors relating to fixation of inter-se seniority and disparity of pay and allowances between the lateral inductees vis-à-vis the original inductees in paramilitary forces,” the report added.

The committee observed that another issue stated to be contentious on the grounds that it had constitutional implications, was reservation for backward classes in paramilitary organisations.

It was pointed out by the committee that although a working group constituted by the government had submitted its report way back in March 2002, it was “distressing” to see that the issues remained unresolved and precious time had been lost in deliberations without arriving at a final decision.

The Sixth Central Pay Commission had, earlier this year, also recommended lateral induction of armed forces personnel into the paramilitary forces.

This was not accepted by the government and a decision was taken at the time of notifying the recommendations that the matter would be examined separately.

“Astonishingly, the ministry has also tried to explain that there are certain other factors like no reservation for SC, ST, OBCs in the Army, which has constitutional implications, need to modify recruitment rules, promotion avenues of paramilitary personnel, which need to be considered for coming to a decision,” the report said.

“The Committee is not inclined to accept these reasons as convincing enough for the delay in settling this issue,” the report added.



Yearender 2008 — Art
Renovation work fails to dampen theatre spirit
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, December 26
Though the non-availability of the Tagore Theatre from September 16, 2007, to November 29, 2008, due to the renovation work had badly affected the cultural activities in the tricity, it failed to dampen the spirit of the dedicated artists and art lovers.

Still, the musical and theatrical performances registered an incredible high with 1350 seating capacity at the Indradhanush auditorium, Panchkula, and Randhawa auditorium, serving as alternate hosts to major events.

The intrusive audience from the city made it to Inderdhanush to relish the ICCR-sponsored performance of Italian dancers Atrtemis Danza and 85 dancers ensemble of Moscow State academy.

Besides, the Haryana DPR and NZCC’s eight-day national theatre festival featuring plays of thespians like Habib Tanvir, DR Ankur, Nadira Babbar and others also took place.

The Rafi night, the annual Pinjore Heritage festival by Haryana Tourism featured classical dances by renowned classical dancers also took place in the panoramic ambience of Pinjore gardens.

At the Randhawa auditorium, the annual classical music festivals by Pracheen Kala Kendra featured music and dance stalwarts Girija Devi, Saroja Vidyanathan, Uma Sharma Sundri, Rajender Gangani, Salil Bhatt while the Indian National Theatre presented vocalist Ashwini Bhide and Debprasad Chakraborty in their 31st sammelan.

The CSNA presented Pandit Yash Paul, Pandit Bhim Sen , Dr Harbinder Sharma, Ravinder Singh from the region and vocalist Kalapini Komkali at the Tagore theatre. Another major Namdhari music festival at Bhargava auditorium witnessed Sitar maestro Pandit Debu

and Ustad Shahid Parvez, vocalist Ajay Chakraborty and Sanjiv Abhyanker, besides Tabla maestro Sukhwinder Singh from UK, who shared the Grammy award with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt.

The UT administration also organised recitals by Hema Malini, Rajan Sajan Mishra, Shanti Hiranand and poetic symposium with Nida Fazli, Bekal Utsahi, Ashok Chakradhar and others besides a folk dance festival choreographed by Sonal Man Singh.

Acclaimed flautists Ronu Majumdar and Shashank Subramanium lighted up the classical concerts for SPIC-Macay.

Here, the renovated Tagore theatre drew large crowds to a play by Mumbai-based thespian Nadira Babbar ‘Ek Jute’ followed by a week-long Chandigarh Theatre Festival organised by the Sangeet Natak akademy and a eight-day TFT national theatre festival by The Theatre for Theatre and the NZCC that sponsored the major events in city, Panchkula and Pinjore.

The Durga Das Foundation brought a slice of English theatre with Mahadevbhai and

60 seconds Deep by Mumbai-based actor Jemini Pathak at the Strawberry Amphitheatre while Neelam Man Singh’s The Company staged six sterling spells of ‘The Suit’ at Rock Garden.

A poetry festival and Ru Ba Ru with lyricist Muzaffar Ali by CLKA and performances by Hans Raj Hans, Manhar Udhas, Rinku Kalia and Vinod Sehgal are worth mentioning.

A grand Rafi Memorial award function graced by melody queen Mubarak Begum provided the grand finale to not-so-good cultural calendar-2008.



‘Recession to affect small companies too’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 26
The Mohali Industries Association organised a seminar-cum-interactive session to spread awareness among its members about the impact of the current global recession on industries.

B.S. Anand, president of the association, said due to the current slowdown in the economy, companies had already laid off many employees, had cut down production, and stopped business promotion campaigns. Some units were already feeling the heat and others may feel the same later on.

Larger companies were facing more problems of liquidity since they did not have any cash flow, he said. The small companies were, by and large, ancillary to large companies. So, any impact on large companies was bound to have an impact on smaller companies too.

Dr Vimal Aggarwal, director, Gian Jyoti Institute of Management and Technology, gave a power point presentation on measures to be adopted to keep the business afloat. Dr SK Chadha, professor, University Business School, Chandigarh, also gave a presentation on how to build the existing business.



Zirakpur residents seek amenities over golf range
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, December 26
The Zirakpur Municipal Council has misplaced priorities. While the Zirakpur residents are bereft of the basic amenities, the “idea” of the people’s representatives to have a golf range has not found favours with the villagers whose land is being eyed for the projects.

Villagers lament that the common village land (shamlat deh) should be used to provide the basic amenities and not for the sports of the elite. Few kilometres away, there is already a golf range at Panchkula.

In a recent meeting, the MC passed a resolution to build International golf range and a lake on 533 bighas near Gazipur village.

Residents allege that the Zirakpur MC has failed to provide basic amenities like proper roads, sewerage, water supply, hospital, college, stadium, bus stand and community centre. Nirmail Singh, former sarpanch of Gazipur village, alleges that the golf range is only for high-class people and villagers have no interest in the game.

“We need a multi-purpose stadium for all games and sports activities”, says Prem Singh Thakur, a resident of Baltana. Giving an example of Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula, he said, “Panchkula is known for its Cricket Stadium and it is thus a source of income for the authorities concerned.”

“I think Zirakpur MC should come up with a hospital or an educational institute on the land,” says Satpal Singh, former panch of Gazipur village.



‘CHEMCON’ from today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
On the diamond jubilee of the department of chemical engineering and technology, Panjab University, in collaboration with Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers (IIChE) is organising a two-day session on 61st annual session ‘CHEMCON’ from tomorrow.

It aims at providing a common platform for meaningful interaction between the academia and the industry to help the implementation of knowledge available and achieve new highest in the pursuit of excellence.

Pawan Kumar Bansal, Union Minister of State for finance will inaugurate the conference, chief secretary, Haryana, will be the chief guest and Prof RC Sobti, vice-chancellor, will be the guest of honour.

While talking to media today university institute of chemical technology, Mumbai, Dr GS Yadav stated that the session would discuss about the sustainability of energy. He said there would be Indo-US joint symposium during this session also.

On the second day of this conference, Dr AR Kidwai, Governor of Haryana, will inaugurate Shri Dhirubhai Ambani Commemoration Day and Indo-US joint symposium. 



Republic Day programme chalked out
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
The Chandigarh administration has initiated preparations for celebrating the Republic Day. A meeting was held under the chairmanship of IS Sandhu, ADC, here today.

The detailed programme for the function on January 26 and the evening function of January 25 were discussed during the meeting.

The departments of public relations, health services, engineering department, transport, police and municipal corporation were assigned duties.

Additional commissioner of the MC PK Sharma and director pubic relations RS Verma were among those present.



PU to go hi-tech
Each dept to have website
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 26
Panjab University would become Internet-savvy in the coming year, as each department would have its own website and the colleges would also design their own websites.

From the next session, students would be able to check their attendance online, as a software is being installed in all the departments by the authorities concerned.

PU vice-chancellor R C Sobti revealed that from the next semester, students would be able to check their attendance at any point of time easily.

Sobti stated that last year there was a confusion among the students about the fee structure of different colleges last year, so the authorities made it mandatory for every college to design their own website that included all the norms followed by the college authorities, especially, the fee structure. He said if any college would not abide by the instructions, a strict action would be taken against them.Also, the website would make the system clear and transparent for the students.

Sobti said the university would be adding the institute of tourism and hotel management from the next year. He informed that 16 acre land for regional centre at Nathuwala district, Moga, had been transferred to the university and it would get the college ready by June, 2009.



Christmas celebrated in unique way
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 26
Gian Jyoti Global School, Phase II, celebrated Christmas in an unusual way here yesterday. Students of classes pre-nursery, nursery and KG went on a horse cart ride together.

They moved in a procession to wish people Merry Christmas while the horse cart was given the shape of a royal chariot and was decorated with balloons, bells, booties and stars and a colossal Christmas tree. The chariot ride started from Phase 2 and went up to PCA, Phase 9. A huge cake was cut by the school principal and teachers.

Ashmah school

An eventful celebration marked the Christmas fun at Ashmah International School here yesterday. The Christmas bash which was highlighted by euphoric singing of carols and other exciting events saw an unusual entry by Santa Claus, who turned out to be none other than advisor of the school and senior retired IAS officer, Kesar Singh.

A skit on the birth of Lord Jesus by class II students entertained tiny tots even as carols like "Showers of blessings", "Jingle bells", "Merry Christmas" filled ambience with consonant musical notes.

Speaking on the occasion, Roopinder Ghuman, principal, said Christmas was the time to celebrate the spirit of benevolence, charity and sacrifice as symbolised by Jesus Christ and personified in Santa Claus.



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