C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Citizens seek CBI probe into land deals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
After the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress, a group of eminent citizens and civil society organisation today demanded a CBI inquiry into the controversial land deals made by the Chandigarh administration for its mega projects, to expose “corruption” in various projects undertaken in the name of development. 

This interactive citizens’ meet was jointly organised by the Manimajra Farmers’ Welfare and Environment Protection Society, Citizens' Voice, Burning Brain Society and the Society for Crime and Corruption at the Chandigarh Press Club here today.

The activists produced detailed set of documents from the project files to prove their contentions and highlight various violations of the constitutional laws by the Chandigarh Administration. 

On the other hand, the administration through a communiqué, called it an unfounded criticism campaign carried out by a group of people with vested interests. 

The citizens also expressed resentment at the political leadership and rued that local MP Pawan Kumar Bansal has proved to be “ineffective”. 

Social activist Hemant Goswami produced documents showing how the project files of Film City and Entertainment City were cleared in a single day even through it had to pass through multiple stages. 

Raising figure at the role of ADC to Punjab Governor Nirvikar Singh, Goswami said, "The ADC of the Punjab Governor should have no role in the activities of the UT administration. However, he was handling files of Chandigarh administration and was in close touch with the bureaucrats of the administration. He must obtain a clean chit from the Intelligence Bureau and go to his next deputation in the Research and Analysis Wing only after the CBI and CVC is over." However, Nirvikar Singh could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. 

Vivek Aditya, an international expert in financial regulations, explained the “illegalities” committed by the administration in the Film City and other such projects with documentary proof. Citing December 25 newspaper invitation of the Governor, Vivek counter challenged the administration to come with a team of their experts in an open debate to prove any point wrong in his 78-page complaint regarding the Film City to the Advisor.

He added that the bankruptcy of the administration was clear from their assertions that the term Multimedia Information-cum-Entertainment Centre means a five-star hotel and their “wrong” press statements that the lease was not for 33 years.

He pointed out that there was enough evidence to nail the wrongdoers if the administration was honest about it's own statements.

Speaking on the occasion, Lt Gen B.S. Randhawa said: “An independent assessment of projects shows that the intentions of these “so-called” developmental bureaucrats were corrupt and they see land only as a commodity through which they can make their brokerage.” Questioning the intentions of the Union Ministry too, Gen Randhawa alleged that it appears that the nexus goes up to the Home Ministry and the Union Government, otherwise what was the justification for them to keep quiet despite everything being so open.

Terming the approach of administration as whimsical and corrupt, S. S. Brar, former DGP of Haryana said, "I am shocked to see how officials of the Chandigarh administration are blatantly violating the provisions of National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007 (NRRP 2007). By doing this, they are directly challenging the supremacy of the Union of India. Is Chandigarh not a part of India?"

“The forcible and exploitative land acquisitions going on in the city in the name of development projects are arbitrary, illegal and against the policies of the Government of India. There was no justification in acquiring more land for Phase 3 of IT Park when the existing land in the Phases 1 and 2 of the projects is still lying unutilised,” Brar mentioned.

Eminent architect Dr S.S. Bhatti said that development and urban planning of any city was the subject matter of experts and should not be done by untrained and insensitive bureaucrats. “If unthoughtful projects like Film City, Entertainment City, Warehousing City, IT Park, etc. continues, then within 15 years the whole system of Chandigarh will collapse and it would be a big disaster,” he said. 



Another letter surfaces 
This time, withdraws allegations levelled against UT Advisor 
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27 
The slugfest between the UT Administrator and his Advisor become murkier today when a letter was circulated during an interactive citizens meet held at the Press Club here today. 

The letter supposedly has been written by the same person who had earlier accused the UT Advisor, Pradip Mehra, for misappropriating the CITCO funds for renovation of his house at New Delhi. 

Going by the contents of the letter, the person, Ram Kishore Verma, had apologised for his earlier allegations stating that he was instructed to level allegations against the Advisor at the instance of some well-connected persons in the Governor House. Verma, claiming to have association with the CITCO, pointed out that the building material, including tiles, was supplied for renovation of house of some influential person at Gurgaon. 

The letter further states that the goods supplied were billed in the name of CITCO for Advisor to Administrator only on the instructions of those high profile persons of the Governor House.

Nevertheless, an inquiry was initiated by the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) to scrutinise the basis of allegations made against the UT Advisor.

“The Commission concurs with the proposal of the Chandigarh Administration for a detailed investigation against Pradip Mehra...” reads a communiqué sent by the CVC to the UT Administration on November 11.

However, the officials of the CITCO had already denied having any connection with Verma. Even during an inquiry session, held recently, the officials of the CITCO met the CVC director, Mitter Sain, the officials reportedly termed the allegations of misuse of CITCO funds as “baseless”.

Former CITCO managing director J.S. Bir, now posted as commissioner of the Patiala division, and CITCO chief general manager Amit Talwar were among those officials who met Sain. 

Who is Ram Kishore Verma?

The identity of this man could not be established yet and this letter, too, bears no signatures. But on the basis of his earlier letter, accusing the UT Advisor, the CVC had initiated a detailed inquiry against the Advisor. Now, when the same person has withdrawn all the allegations in his second letter and accused the high-profile officials of the Governor House forcing him to level allegations, how much cognisance the CVC would take of this second letter is yet to be seen. 



PGI without water for 12 hrs
Patients, attendants suffer; surgeries delayed
Tribune News Service 

Chandigarh, December 27 
The services at Nehru Hospital building of the PGI were affected badly when the main pipeline supplying water started leaking causing inconvenience to the patients and their attendants.

More than 12 surgeries scheduled for today were delayed for two hours. The attendants had to carry water from the ground floor to the fourth and fifth floor, as the water supply at these floors could not be restored till late in the evening.

The 10 feet deep water pipeline was laid more than 40 years ago. While the engineers started finding the fault yesterday night, the exact location of leakage could be traced only today morning. Thereafter, the JCB machine was pressed into service.

During this period, the upper floors of the Nehru building were provided water through water tanks, said an official from the engineering department at PGI. The water supply was supplemented by water tankers and the overhead tanks were filled in the morning, said a PGI spokesperson.



Beating Up Of Complainant 
DIG orders probe 
Archit Watts 

Chandigarh, December 27
DIG (headquarters) Mahabir Singh today marked an inquiry into the alleged beating up of a Sector 17-based trader, Arvind Pandey, by ASP Madhur Verma and three gunmen yesterday. 

The DIG has asked SP (security and traffic) H.S. Doon to probe the matter and submit the report. 

Arvind Pandey said that the CBI officials had assured him that they had sent his complaint by fax at the SSP’s residence and they would even call the SSP to take appropriate action.

Pandey alleged that ASP Verma had beaten him up with the help of three gunmen and he was even offered a glass of water five times during the whole scene. “I went through the main entrance of the police station and it must be recorded in the footage of the CCTV camera, but after the whole incident, I was thrown out from the entrance door of ASP office as there is no CCTV camera there. Even Verma asked me to comb my hair and clean the face.”

Narrating the incident to this correspondent, Pandey said: “I went to the Verma’s office yesterday at around 11:30 am to enquire about the status of my complaint regarding the possession of my booth in the Sector 17 market. Without listening, Verma asked his gunmen to thrash me and they all began hitting me with blows and kicked.” 

Pandey said that he would not go to any police officer with his complaint as he had no faith on the police after the yesterday’s incident.

When asked about the support from CBI, Pandey said, “I have full faith in the CBI. But now even they are saying that we cannot register a case and it will be handed over to the police.”

ASP Verma has already denied the allegations against him. He, however, admitted that Pandey came to his office and even asked to get his booth vacated. Verma said, “After making his query, he left my office within two-three minutes.”

It is pertinent to mention here that on Pandey’s complaint, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) arrested the Neelam police post in charge Sanjeev Kumar in a corruption case on November 7 this year.

When contacted, H.S. Doon said: “On the basis of complaint filed to the CBI officials, an inquiry has been marked and the truth will come out only after the inquiry.”



Kidnapping case solved
Abducted NRI released in Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 27
A 24-hour-long kidnapping drama of kidnapping ended today with the victim, an NRI, surfacing at the Ludhiana bus stand. The NRI, Lakhbir Singh, was going towards Chandigarh after visiting his relative in Phase XI here when he was kidnapped by some youths near Jagatpur village. 

The kidnappers, armed with crude rods, halted their black-coloured Mahindra Scorpio in front of the victim’s vehicle and forcibly pushed him into their vehicle. One of the kidnappers has been identified as Pinta, a resident of Ludhiana.

The Mohali police swung into action when Devinder Singh, a resident of Jagraon, lodged a complaint that his relative had been kidnapped near Jagatpur village at around 9.30 pm. 

After registering a case under Sections 148, 149, 364 and 506 of the IPC, a police party raided the Ludhiana residence of Pinta, but did not find him there. Raids were also conducted at other possible hideouts of the suspect. 

The NRI was taken to three different places by the kidnappers, including a village. To avoid police attention, the kidnappers kept on moving throughout the night. The victim told the police that his kidnappers panicked on receiving a call that the police was on their look out. Fearing the police action, the kidnappers dropped Lakhbir at Ludhiana bus stand.

The motive behind the kidnapping was an old rivalry of Lakhbir Singh with the US-based Daljeet Singh, a relative of Pinta. 


Yearender MC
Major projects failed to take off
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
If one reviews the list of agendas of the Chandigarh municipal corporation this year it seems that things moved at a snail’s pace in the corporation. No major project came into the kitty of the corporation and at the same time not even a single long pending project saw the light of day in the whole year.

Lengthy list of major projects with which this year’s Congress party Mayor Pardeep Chhabra started his tenure are still carrying on in the agenda papers even at the closing of the year. While going through the records of meetings of coordination committee of administration and the corporation one could easily make out that all pending projects were only discussed in the meetings without any productive results.

Strangely, a special coordination committee meeting convened to speed up the clearance of the projects lying pending with the administration also ended without any rewarding outcome.

All projects of the corporation, including modernisation of dhobi ghats, a park for blind, milk cattle villages, dog pound, malba bylaws, land allocation for religious places at Dadu Majra, Dhanas bridge, repair of cheap houses and construction of school in the PGI were still in the list of the pending agenda since the commencement of the year.

Even after the inauguration of garbage processing unit in Dadu Majra, the most controversial project of the corporation, the plant has still not become fully functional besides many extensions. The authorities had given the extension to the company till December 27, 2008 to get the plant functional. But in a recent meeting, the company representatives showed their helplessness to make the plant fully functional till August 2009.

Apart from this, the Mayor also failed to get the approval of the long-pending multi-level parking project of Sector 17 from the administration for which the people hoped that its construction would start this year as the parking problem was increasing day by day in the city.

The corporation’s achievement in the current year was that the Mayor inaugurated a number of projects, which were initiated by his predecessors. The only projects which Chhabra started during his tenure were night food street at Sector 14, Community Sewa Kender and the project of bio-methical gas plant. After the setting up of the first night food street in the city, the corporation is mooting similar night streets in other parts of the city also.

Another ‘achievement’ of the corporation, which could be listed, is that there were frequent brawls and heated exchange of words among the councillors and officials of the corporation. This year, Mayor and MC Commissioner worked in their own style, lacking cordial coordination, for speeding up the developmental projects of the city.

The corporation was also not able to keep itself aloof from the tussle of State Finance Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Chandigarh Administrator SF Rodrigues as both were in a race to preside over maximum functions of the corporation. Even at some of the projects of the corporation, which were presided over by the UT Administrator, the Mayor was not formally involved by his own authorities.

Strangely during the inaugural of garbage processing unit, which is the prestigious project of MC, the Mayor was sideline and not even invited by the company for the inaugural ceremony.

This years monsoon showers arrived just like a bonanza for city people, but it became a headache for the corporation authorities, as it exposed their lack of preparation to drain out monsoon water. During the season the city roads were flooded with water and officials were found praying to the rain god to check rainfall so that they could handle the situation well.

Even MC Commissioner Dr Roshan Sunkaria had to feel the heat during the monsoon season when the houses of judges in Sector 24 were water logged. Hopefully next year such a situation would not occur as the authorities had taken adequate measures.

However, there has not been much difference in provision of civic amenities in the southern sectors of the city as the authorities have not made much effort to improve them in the whole year.



Mayoral Polls 
Parties woo nominated councillors 
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
With only a few days left for the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation mayoral polls, the political parties have started making efforts to woo nine nominated councillors.

If the elections observes are to be believed, once again it’s the nominated councillors who are going to play a key role in this year’s mayoral polls.

The importance of the votes of the nominated councillors can be gauged from the fact that during the 2007 mayoral polls, Harjinder could register her victory in the polls with a margin of a single vote.

While the four nominated councillors are openly with the Congress so much so that they were even present during the meetings of the party held to disapprove of the UT administrator’s acts.

On the other hand, the BJP has formulated a core committee to decide about the party’s poll strategy and the responsibility to ensure nominated councillors’ support has been given to a nominated councillor only.

In the meeting, it was decided that besides nominated councillors, the BJP councillors would meet and seek support of the discontented Congress councillors as well as the BSP councillors.

In the separately held meetings of the BJP and the Congress, it was only the issue of nominated councillors, which was discussed. In a Congress meeting, held under the chairmanship of CTCC president B.B. Behl, it was decided that all the 14 elected councillors of the party would be individually meeting the nominated councillors.

When contacted, B.B. Behl said that with 15 votes, including the one of the sitting MP, Pawan Kumar Bansal, the Congress party has fairly an upper hand. “Even if both the BSP and the BJP decide to contest jointly, they would still have only 10 votes, given that the Congress will still be in majority,” he said.

Refuting the possibilities of any cross voting within the party owing to resentment in certain councillors, he said, “Our aim is to get 25 votes in the House. For that, even if any councillor from the opposition would want to support the Congress, he will be welcomed.”

Although the BSP has formally conveyed its stand of not supporting either Congress or the BJP, sources revealed that it was the last minute ditch by the BJP due to which BSP could not field any of its candidates for the post of senior deputy mayor.

Sources also revealed that the BSP had demanded that if BJP allows its mayoral candidate Ram Lal to contest independently, the former could lend its support. It was only after the BJP refused to do so that the BSP decided to support the SAD candidate, Gurnam Singh (senior deputy mayor), and could not field its own candidates for the post of senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor.

Also, the BJP is pinning its hopes on discontented councillors of the Congress.

Sources revealed that minister of state for finance Pawan Kumar Bansal, who was also present during the party meeting, has reportedly issued a whip that the mayoral polls are like a prelude to party preparations for Lok Sabha elections and thus should be taken very seriously.



US-based foundation to aid local NGO
Priya Chadha

Chandigarh, December 27
Global Fund for Children (GFC), a Washington DC-based foundation, has decided to assist and to provide financial aid to Developing Indigenous Resources (DIR), a city based non-governmental organisation, engaged in mental and physical development of malnourished children residing in slums.

Announcing this here today, GFC programme officer, Vinita Gupta, said, “We fund organisations only for a specific period, which is three to six years. Presently we are providing aid to about 40 countries.”

While Amrit Bolaria, trustee DIR said, “Due to lack of funds we had to halt our projects. Now that the problem is solved we are looking forward to open a health office at Moli Jagran, other areas that we have already covered are Janta Colony and Adarsh Nagar. We aim to provide needy residents with the skills and the knowledge to develop their own communities, to solve their own problems.”

“Malnutrition limits development and learning capacity, with the dubious feature of having the highest number of malnourished children in our country, it is time to create healthy and economically stable communities with good education and health care”, said Loveleen kaur, a nutritionist.

As per the recent data of the Asian Development Bank, 47 per cent of children under three years are underweight having bad vision and stunted growth”, she concluded.



Cops to check hooliganism
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 27
In order to rein in the hooliganism on the New Year eve, the local police has intensified the challan drive in the city. Nakas have been set up at various points in the city already and security during night hours would be made tighter on December 31.

“We have already set up a permanent post at Surajpur to challan the drivers found under the influence of alcohol and the drive in this regard would be concentrated in the city also on the New Year eve,” said SP Sandip Khirwar.

“We have already challaned 40 persons who were found driving after consuming liquor in the last two days after special nakas were put up at night,” he said adding that, “The drive would now also start in the city as we plan to further intensify it in the days to come.”

The proposed points for nakas on the New Year eve have been earmarked as Majri chowk, Tawa chowk, Shakti Bhawan chowk, Sector 11/15 and Sector 17/18 chowk, said Khirwar.

In addition to it, the high beam light violations were also being checked, he added.



Cockroach found in dhokla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 27
If you think paying more at the renowned eateries will guarantee you hygienic foodstuff, then you might have to think again. This was the case with AK Gupta, PGI Deputy Director (admn), who found a cockroach lying on a snack purchased from a renowned sweet shop in Sector 8.

Gupta said he purchased dhokla from the shop today afternoon and got it packed for his family.

The family, however, was shocked to find the cockroach lying on it when the packet was opened.

“The shopkeeper also could not be contacted, as the phone numbers printed on the sweet box were found busy,” he added.

He however contacted the health department, who asked him to lodge a complaint. The shopkeeper Sharanjit singh said it was impossible to find a cockroach in the items prepared at the shop. “Still I would try to contact the complainant and look into the matter” he added.



Find ways to meet energy needs, says Bansal
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, December 27
The department of chemical engineering and technology and energy research centre organised the 61st annual session of Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers (IIChE) CHEMCON 2008 at the university auditorium today.

Pawan Kumar Bansal, Union Minister of State for finance, inaugurated the international seminar on green technology and sustainable development. CHEMCON 2008 also marks the celebration of 50 years of the department.

The four-day conference will discuss the problems of energy generation, toxic products and the ways to overcome the challenges such as pollution, dwindling natural resources, climate in the present day scenario of industrialisation for sustainable development. The conference also marks the dawning era of creativity and innovation in "Green Technology" which promises a healthier planet as well as the growth of business without compromising the needs for future generation.

Bansal urged the scientists and technologists to find a way to meet the energy needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations.

Dharam Vir, Chief Secretary, Haryana, the chief guest of the seminar said energy conservation was the easily available solutions for overcoming power shortage.

Prof RC Sobti, vice-chancellor PU, outlined various practices started by the university and other student welfare activities.

Prof SK Sharma, chairman of local organising committee of CHEMCON urged the government to support the chemical industry by taking in consideration the taxes and duties on raw material and petrochemical products.

Dr S Ganeshan, president of IIChE highlighted the various activities of IIChE along with the international collaboration that IIChE is developing in the recent past and talked how water can become the new oil.

Prof R Kumar was awarded the Godrej Lifetime Achievement Award and many others were also felicitated on the occasion.

The inaugural session saw presence of number key educationists, chemical engineers, industrialists, research scholars, and students from the country as well as abroad. About 600 people attended the inaugural session. A minute's silence was also observed in memory of the people killed in the Mumbai attack.



Emphasis laid on children literature
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, December 27
During a seminar and panel discussion on children literature organised by Chandigarh Sahitya Akademy here today, Dr Rama Rattan, acclaimed writer said, “The smile of a child has a divine beauty that reflects the pristine innocence of his or her soul and a good children literature surely helps in their growth.”

Elaborating her views on the necessity of good children literature, she said it provides a good mental, educational and social health enabling them to imbibe their rich cultural heritage. She rued that mothers hardly know how the lullabies induce a sense of pure affection in the child and it is heartening that no lullabies are for a girl child, whom many feel as a harbinger of curse.

Dr Yojna Rawat and Harpreet Dhiman observed that with the passage of time and advent of electronic media the writers will have to be more judicious to sculpt literature for modern children switching their priorities from Panchtantra to Harry Potter stories.

Dr Manju Jaidka, akademy chairperson, gave details of the future plans and welcomed Dr Jaspal Kang and scholars. Poet Madhav Kaushik, conducted the panel discussion.



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