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Indiscriminate mining poses threat to villages
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 14
Even as the district administration claims to have taken several steps to check illegal mining in the riverbeds, indiscriminate mining by the contractors in Raipur Rani have posed a danger to the existence of many villages.

If not checked soon, the villages of Ganeshpur and Khet Purali would only be found in the revenue records as the contractors have already dug up the riverbed to around 100 feet from the bank in violation of norms.

A visit to the area revealed that excavation of sand gravel and boulders form the river was on in full swing as dozens of trucks were being loaded with the construction material.

While the officials of the Mining Department said the contractor was allowed to excavate the material up to 10 feet from the leftover bed, it was found that the riverbed had already been dug up to 100 feet leaving no support to the banks of the river.

According to the Mining Department officials, there were 10 zones in the 15 rivers passing through the district where boulder, gravel and sand are found in abundance. In villages, where mining was permitted, licenses were provided up to March 31 last year and since June 24, the government began handing out short-term permits as the auction of the sites was stayed by the High Court when the contractors moved against the increase in the bid amount.

Even the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Panchkula, on September 29, 2008, in an interim report submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, stated that illegal mining was on in Panchkula without check.

The situation has already started giving sleepless nights to the villagers who apprehend losing their land in case of soil erosion due to incessant rains. “The greed of mining contractors has crossed all limits as they even put the life and property of locals at stake by excavating the riverbeds,” said Raj Kumar, a resident of Ganeshpur.

“In fact, the authorities concerned have failed to keep a check on their activities which led to this situation,” said Krishan Lal of Khet Purali village.

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Lukewarm response to shopping at malls
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Despite having the highest per capita income in the country, Chandigarh is yet to wake up to the shopping mall culture.

Although three existing shopping malls-cum-multiplexes are proving to be perfect entertainment destinations, the absence of shoppers has sent the promoters of various malls in a tizzy.

In fact, the ongoing meltdown is making things difficult for mall managements, which had pinned high hopes on Chandigarhians' craze for big brands and their high purchasing power. "Leasing out commercial space is proving to be an uphill task for the malls, and our calculations of making a fast buck have gone haywire," admitted a partner in a reality firm having stakes in a local shopping mall.

A random survey of the shopping malls revealed that at least 50 per cent of the outlets were vacant in the DT Mall in the IT Park. The situation at the Centra Mall in the Industrial Area was no different, with a majority of shops lying vacant.

Chandigarh's first shopping mall - Fun Republic - is already having problems in renting out commercial space.

And this may not exactly sound music to the ears of the managements of the two upcoming malls - TDI Mall in Sector 17 and City Emporio in the Industrial Area - here and Shalimar Mall in Panchkula. In fact, the timing of the global meltdown seems to be playing spoilsport with our ambitious plans, realtors said.

The reasons for poor response to the commercial space in the shoppong malls is not far to seek.With a limited area and a majority of sectors having shopping complexes, shopping at the malls seems to have an alien concept to city's residents.

When the same brand items are available at the city markets, including Sector 17 and 22, there was no point in shelling out more money at the shopping malls, Arun Kapoor, an MNC employee, said.

Real estate expert SK Sharma opined that the availability of commercial space at competitive rates in the traditional markets was the major reason for lukewarm response to the commercial space in the shopping malls.

On the other hand, multiplexes, footcourts and kids play zones get excellent footfalls with visitors thronging them in large numbers. However, stores at malls are yet to catch the fancy of shoppers.

Malls sans shoppers...

n Alleged higher rates than traditional markets
n Only proving to be entertainment destinations
n Ongoing meltdown affects business
n Chandigarhians' aversion to shopping at malls

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Rape Case
German girl to reach city today
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The 20-year-old German tourist, who was allegedly raped after being kidnapped by five youths from outside Taj Hotel at Sector 17 on September 28, is coming to the city tomorrow to depose before a local court for trial on January 16.

Sources in the police said the victim had arrived at Delhi today along with her father. She would be coming to the city along with her father and German Embassy officials. She is expected to reach the city by Thursday evening. The police is keeping her place of lodging confidential for security purposes.

A senior police officer told TNS that they would provide security and escort to the victim and persons accompanying her and would also provide safe accommodation to them.

The police had already selected translators for the victim to facilitate her to record her statement before the court. As earlier it was noticed that she was encountering language problem to record her statement.

The police had earlier said they would try to finish the prosecution formalities in two days to facilitate the speedy trial in the case. The police had already arrested the five accused in the case within a couple of days the case was registered.

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MC under scanner for promoting ‘tainted’ official
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
In what could prove to be a major embarrassment for the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, one of the Executive Engineers (XEN) on deputation, is under scanner for being “wrongfully” promoted while a vigilance inquiry is still pending against him.

However, the MC authorities are in the process to institute an inquiry against him. R.P. Gupta, an officer from Punjab, was on deputation to the UT as SDO, but was promoted to XEN in the MC in 2006 while the vigilance inquiry was on against him since 2003. According to information sought under the RTI Act, it has come to the notice that in August 2006, the officer signed in the capacity of SDO in UT Administration’s engineering wing while he was no longer serving as SDO and had taken over as XEN in MC.

The information provided by the competent authority under the Act states that he signed as SDO while filing a reply to the vigilance inquiry against him and some others.

It is pertinent to mention here that as per the Vigilance Bureau rules, if an inquiry is on against any officer, he cannot be promoted. Ignoring the inquiry, the MC promoted him as an XEN and that too when he is on deputation.

According to sources, the Vigilance Bureau initiated the inquiry against Gupta in 2003 after some officers in the engineering wing were found to have got works done through quotations. Among others, the list of those officers involved also included Gupta’s name. The Vigilance Bureau had also recommended case to be registered against them under Sections 420, 465, 468 and 471 and in reply to this, Gupta had signed as SDO instead of XEN. When asked, one of the vigilance officers said that if he had signed as XEN, his promotion would have been questioned.

In reply to the questions filed under the RTI Act, it has been stated that Gupta, an employee in the Public Health department of the Punjab PWD, was sent on deputation to engineering wing’s PH (Public health) wing, division no 2 and was sent to MC in 2006. He is serving in UT on deputation since seven years.

However, none of the officials could answer as to how could he continue for so long against rules of the Vigilance Bureau.

R.P. Gupta said that the Vigilance Bureau had in 2003 questioned all the officers serving in engineering department. However, he refused to comment further as to why he signed in the capacity of SDO even though he was serving as an XEN.

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Man robbed of Rs 2.8 lakh at gunpoint
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Three unidentified occupants of a Maruti Zen car robbed a telecom company distributor of Rs 2.8 lakh at gunpoint in Sector 9 today evening.

According to the police, the victim, 25-year-old Anmol Kohli, owner of A.K. Communications, a Vodafone agency, was about to leave in his car after shutting down his shop for the day. Anmol told the police that he came out from the shop along with his friend at around 8.30 pm and the moment he was about to sit in his car, a white Zen halted near him. Two persons alighted from the car and rushed towards him. One of them pulled out a pistol and asked him to part with his bag containing cash, said Anmol.

As soon as Anmol handed over the bag, the accused fled from the spot. The police is investigating the matter.

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Canada wants illegal immigrant consultants out
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Unscrupulous and unauthorised immigration consultants, fraudulent means and counterfeit documents were the factors responsible for higher rate of rejection of applications for both short-term visas and permanent residency by the Chandigarh Consulate-General office.

Though there has been improvement in grant of short-term visitor visas from 32 per cent in 2006 to 44 per cent in 2008, the rejection rate was still higher than in New Delhi, admits Jason Kenney, Canadian Minister for Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.

“The number of counterfeit documents, including forged or fake letters from funeral homes, MPs, besides counterfeit passports and other documents submitted with visa application forms in the Chandigarh office was very high,” said Kenney, holding that there was no truth in criticism of some MPs that the Canadian authorities were nursing any bias against north Indians in general and Punjabis in particular.

Kenny, accompanied by first-time MP, Tim Uppal, said he was on a weeklong visit to India. He visited the Golden Temple on January 11 and oversaw the working of visa section of the High Commission in Delhi before coming here this morning. He met senior functionaries of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh governments and leaders of trade and industry at lunch. He will call on Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal before leaving for Mumbai.

Canada has also made some changes in its immigration policy through a special legislation that allows 38 select -trade cases in which applications for permanent residency will be processed in six to 12 months against four to six years taken in general cases. At present, there is a huge backlog left by the Liberal government after its 13-year rule.

He said unlike Australia, New Zealand, France and United Kingdom, Canada was not slashing the number of new immigrants. “But in case the downturn of economy continued, we have to reduce the numbers from 2,60,000 to 2,40,000. As of now the Canadian economy looked sound and would survive this meltdown,” he said.

“We seek help of the Indian government in checking the unscrupulous immigration consultants because of which genuine applicants suffer. It is in the interest of people that they should submit complete, proper and authentic documents to help visa officers to decide their applications expeditiously. Last year, 7,000 short-term visitor visas were issued from the Chandigarh office,” he said.

Kenney said Canada was also keen for a foreign investment protection agreement with India and was progressing well in pending issues, especially those relating to nuclear power.

Among areas of concern, he said, were marriages of convenience that were in many cases led to exploitation of vulnerable women. All visa and immigration officials were taking extra care in deciding such cases.

Refuting the allegation that a special questionnaire had been introduced to reject applicants from Punjab, Kenney said it was a part of the worldwide policy of the Canadian government that those who were involved in war crimes, human rights violations and other such related issues would not be allowed entry into Canada.

The same policy was being followed in other countries that had faced problems like terrorism, war crime and human rights violations.

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Development Projects
Meet deadlines, says Rodrigues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
As a part of monitoring drive of the ongoing developmental projects, UT Administrator S.F. Rodrigues today inspected the progress work of the second phase of the Vocational Training Centre for Street Children at Maloya, Regional Institute for Mentally Handicapped, Sector 31, and the new OPD block of Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH) in Sector 16.

He also launched the construction work of the seven-storey E Block in Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, being constructed at an estimated cost of about Rs 16 crore.

Home Secretary Ram Niwas, Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar, Chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board Mohanjeet Singh, Deputy Commissioner R.K. Rao and other senior officers of the Chandigarh Administration accompanied Rodrigues.

Setting deadlines for commissioning of projects, Rodrigues told senior officers to plan and execute various projects with the focus on inclusive growth and shedding the approach to benefit only the elitist class. During his visit to the vocational centre, he directed the officers to make the second phase functional by February 1 to accommodate 300 street girls with all support structure for empowering them. This centre will be equipped with various facilities for 600 male street children.

The Administrator, during his visit to the Regional Centre for Mentally Handicapped in Sector 31, asked the Engineering Department to complete the first phase of the project by February 1 and make it functional in all respects.

The proposed institute will provide comprehensive training and education to at least 1,000 mentally challenged children. The facility will also include diagnostic and medical care, vocational training, research in the area of mental retardation, human resource development, genetic screening and counselling for the prevention of disability and training facility for the parents and guardians of the mentally challenged children.

During his visit to the ongoing construction work of new block of OPD in GMSH, Rodrigues asked the Engineering Department to meet the deadline of its completion. He discussed the scope of facilities to be provided in the new block and asked the Home Secretary and the Director, Health Services, to prepare a complete action plan with a focus on ultra-modern medical infrastructure for meeting the health needs of the region for the next decades.

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Accidents make dent in MC funds
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, January 14
Road accidents are proving to be a headache for the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation and UT Administration, as they have to shell out thousands for the repair of roundabouts damaged during mishaps.

Almost everyday, one or two roundabouts are damaged in accidents in the city. However, neither the authorities concerned nor the police pay attention to get the compensation from the negligent driver, causing loss to the MC or the Administration.

Member, advisory committee of traffic police, S.P.S. Garcha said: “The Motor Vehicle Act states that if an FIR is registered against the offender, the department concerned can file a suit against the insurance company of the vehicle to get the compensation. But in most of the cases, it has been found that the negligent drivers never pay the money and the MC has repair the public property.”

He said it should be the duty of the negligent driver to pay compensation for damaging public property.

A visit to various sectors in the city revealed that the roundabouts were in poor condition as hardly any day passes without of any vehicle banging in the roundabouts.

A police officer said that nobody pays attention to this issue. “Even the department concerned never talked to us. But this activity should be stopped,” he said.

SP (Security and Traffic) H.S. Doon said, “If anybody violates traffic rules, we issue challan, but we have no powers beyond that. Only the court can or concern authorities can get the compensation amount from the offender,” he said.

Sources in the MC reveal that they had never heard of somebody paying the compensation for damaging public property. Either they make settlement with the police or run away from the spot after the accident.

A senior official of the MC said: “Mostly, the person flees from the spot after hitting the public property. It is always the MC or Administration that pays for the damages.’

MC Chief Engineer S.K. Bansal said the police was not supporting the MC. “The accidents are increasing by the day and are causing huge loss to the MC funds and public property. If the police supports us, we can claim damages from the offenders,” he said.

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Consumer Court
MC asked to pay Rs 23,450
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
All those whose vehicles have got damaged or misplaced while in the Municipal Corporation (MC) parking lot can knock the doors of the consumer courts. In a recent order passed by the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has asked the contractor of the parking lot Sukhpal Singh to pay the money spent by the complainant after his misplaced two-wheeler was recovered in a damaged condition.

The consumer forum has directed the MC to pay Rs 22,725 along with Rs 725 as costs of litigation.

The petitioner, Balbir Singh, a resident of Mohali, stated in the petition that he had parked his scooter in the paid parking area on July 19, 2007 at about 4 pm by paying Rs 2 but when he came back the scooter was not found.

A carpenter by profession, Balbir stated that he asked about this fact, but they did not pay any heed, as such matter was reported to the police, who after conducting a search for a few days, ultimately registered an FIR. However, after about 15 days of the theft of the scooter, sub inspector (SI) Gurmail Singh of the police station in Sector 36, found the scooter at Parwanoo and called the petitioner.

The petitioner visited the spot and found the scooter in a bad condition with broken parts. He had to pay expenses of shifting the scooter from Parwanoo to Chandigarh. Balbir added that he took the matter with both the MC and the contractor many times and requested them time and again to compensate him but all in vain.

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PGI’s professor is journal’s board member
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Dr Akshay Anand, assistant professor, the department of neurology, PGIMER, has joined the editorial board of reputed journal “Neuroepidemiology” that publish investigations and commentaries in the field of neurological disorders.

Recently, he was offered to join the editorial board in a communication received from Prof Valery L Feign, Editor-in-Chief of the reputed journal. Dr Anand said this was the rare distinction that brought him to the elite club of expert neuroscientists from the world and made him responsible for reviewing the major research in neurology, particularly from Asia before it was eventually accepted in the journal.

It is one of the most cited and indexed journals that are internationally recognised peer-reviewed periodical devoted to descriptive, analytical and experimental studies in the epidemiology of neurologic disease.

He has also been invited to organise a satellite session in the 1st International Congress on Neuroepidemiology to be held in Munich, Germany, from August 27-30, 2009.

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Passport Theft Case
Users in police net too
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
After an arrest of over a dozen persons in the sensational passport theft case, including its alleged kingpin Gurjinder Singh Lucky, last year, users of the stolen passports are falling in the police net now.

In a fresh incident, a team of the Chandigarh police was today dispatched to Mumbai to arrest a Gujarat resident, Parveen Inderpal Patel, who was allegedly deported from the US for travelling on a stolen passport. The police said the passport used by the accused was one among the 48 stolen from the regional passport office, Chandigarh. The police said it was the first case in which someone was caught using the stolen passport and more arrests were likely in the future, as the police had already flashed the information and details of the stolen passports to all embassies and airports in the world.

Sources in the crime branch of the Chandigarh police said sub inspector Charanjit Singh, the investigating officer of the passport theft case, and sub inspector Hardit Singh were on their way to Mumbai and would reach there by tomorrow evening. The accused is also expected to arrive at Mumbai by Thursday night.

A police officer said Patel was caught at New York airport, when he produced his passport for verification. The Chandigarh police had already flashed details of the stolen passports to Interpol through the look out circulars (LOC). The Interpol further disseminates the information to all international airports and concerned authorities.

The authorities at the New York airport detained him and after questioning found him travelling on a stolen passport. They informed their Mumbai counterparts, who in turn informed the Chandigarh police.

The police said Patel could provide vital clues about the functioning of the accused involved in the passport scam and also might help the police to nab the other users of the stolen passports.

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DC ignores Home Secy orders
Retains ‘ineligible’ officer
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Fingers are being raised over the reappointment of Risal Singh Sangwan as the General Manager (GM) of Chandigarh State Cooperative Bank Ltd who is simultaneously holding the charge of Assistant Registrar (AR), Cooperative Societies, Chandigarh.

This implies that by virtue of being the AR, he would be supervising and reviewing his own performance and decisions taken by him in his capacity as the bank’s GM.

Sangwan, on deputation from Haryana, was ordered to be repatriated to his parent state by the Home Secretary on December 10, 2008. Ironically, the Deputy Commissioner, superseding the orders, retained him here as the GM, Cooperative Bank, besides extending him powers of AR, Cooperatives.

The Home Secretary, Ram Niwas, expressed surprise when apprised of this development. “It is not in my knowledge that Sangwan is still here despite my orders of repatriating him to Haryana. This is sheer case of disobeying administrative orders and calls for serious attention,” he said.

Legal experts say that the approval for appointing officials on deputation from other states in Chandigarh for group B post like the Assistant Registrar is reserved with the Advisor to the Administrator only.

Sources added that no person, other than a government servant who draws his salary from the Consolidated Fund of India, could hold the post of AR, whereas Sangwan is an employee of Haryana State Co-operative Apex Bank Ltd (HARCO) and working here on deputation.

Further, Sangwan draws his salary from the Chandigarh State Cooperative Bank and not from the fund.

Besides, the DC’s orders, who is also Registrar, Cooperative Societies, dated December 22, 2008, say: “Risal Singh Sangwan, on deputation from HARCO Bank with the Cooperative Department, is hereby posted as General Manager of Chandigarh Cooperative Bank.”

Questions are also being raised over these orders, which apparently stand null and void because Sangwan was never placed on deputation with the department of Cooperative Societies, Chandigarh, but with Chandigarh State Cooperative Bank Ltd, which is a different entity.

On the contrary, Sangwan claimed that he had been called here on deputation by the Home Secretary office for the Cooperative Department only but the officials of HARCO Bank differed on the issue.

“As per his deputation orders, dated July 14, 2005, his services have specifically been placed at the disposal of Chandigarh State Cooperative Bank Ltd for appointment as General Manager only. He is otherwise an employee of HARCO Bank,” said an official of the bank, preferring anonymity.

Earlier, Sangwan was the GM of the Chandigarh State Cooperative Bank from July 2005 to October 2008. At present, he is holding dual charge - one as GM, Chandigarh Cooperative Bank and the other as AR, Cooperative.

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Deputed employee’s joining at UT power dept stayed
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has put a stay on the joining of Bharat Bhushan Madan, head draftsman at Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), as the head draftsman in UT electricity department after his appointment was challenged by Madan Lal, working as draftsman at the office of UT executive engineer.

The applicant stated in the application that he had completed more than six years of service as draftsman and was the seniormost draftsman. He added that he had already performed the duties of head draftsman and was eligible for the promotion to the post of head draftsman. He further said Madan could not be brought on deputation without considering the applicant.

Madan Lal had joined on ad-hoc basis to the post of draftsman on March 11, 2002, and was regularised as draftsman on May 9, 2003. He further mentioned in the petition that according to the rules, the next channel of promotion from the post of draftsman was that of head draftsman. Furthermore, a draftsman with the experience of five years of regular service, was eligible for consideration for promotion to the post of head draftsman and the same was to be filled 100 per cent by promotion, failing which the post was to be filled by deputation.

It was alleged in the application that the respondent, instead of considering the applicant for promotion to the post, in violation of statutory rules, passed an order on January 1 this year to secretly put Bharat Bhushan on deputation without calling any panel from the states of Punjab and Haryana. He further added that an employee could not claim promotion as a matter of right, but right to consideration for promotion had been held to be a fundamental right.

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Neglected artifacts get admn attention
New block to be built on the premises of the museum to preserve them
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
At last, the Chandigarh Administration has woken up from its deep slumber to take cognizance of the thousands of ancient artifacts, worth crores of rupees in the international market, rotting in the basement of Sector 10, Government Museum and Art Gallery, here.

The administration has proposed to raise a fresh block in the premises of the museum to enshrine the miniature artifacts and paintings, some of which belong to the 18th century.

A probe into this rare treasure revealed that the 18th century paintings are on paper whereas the later ones are on canvas. The miniature paintings, showing the Kangra art form, are based on the religious epic.

Art experts believe that the Kangra paintings, also known as Pahari paintings, were patronised by the Rajput rulers between the 11th and 19th century. The most popular theme of Kangra painting was inspired by the eternal love pair of Radha and Krishna.

Besides, the museum possess a rare collection of the Bisholi paintings from School of Miniature, Bisholi, which were made earlier than the Kangra paintings. The earliest paintings in this style were originated in Bisholi from where the style spread to the hill states of Kulu, Mandi, Suket, Bilaspur, Nalagarh, Chamba, Guler and Kangra.

NPS Randhawa, director, Government Museum and Art Gallery, said the Bisholi paintings were characterised by the primary colours and a peculiar facial formula that went into their creation. These paintings prevailed in the 17th and early 18th centuries on the foothills of the Western Himalayas in Jammu and Punjab.

“We have managed to get these rare miniature paintings and sculptures in shape and these would be on display with immediate effect on rotational basis till the new block comes into being,” said Randhawa.

Nevertheless, the layout plan for the new block for the ancient artifacts has already been sanctioned. Home Secretary Ram Niwas said the work for the new wing would be executed in the coming year.

“Actually, it was an old proposal which could not be executed. When it came to my knowledge, I felt that it is unreasonable to keep such a rare treasure out of sight of those who have inclination towards art,” he said. Randhawa elaborated that the fully grown trees came in way of the earlier proposal and the revised proposal was chalked out keeping in mind that trees should not be disturbed under any circumstances.

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Construct marriage palace in periphery: Admn to MC
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Once again, Chandigarh municipal corporation’s dream to have its own marriage palace in the city has been broken as the UT administration has suggested that the same should rather be constructed in some nearby villages.

The MC had first proposed to have a marriage palace of its own way back in 2004-2005. The UT administration had in fact at that time approved the proposal, so much so that it was decided that instead of the MCC, the UT’s engineering department would construct the same.

Though the MC had then proposed to construct the same either at the circus ground in Sector 17 or at the land of the corporation in Mani Majra.

However, later a site was also earmarked for the same in Sector 38 West. A reserved price was kept and an auction date was also advertised through newspapers. But the reserved price was too high and therefore there were no takers for it and ultimately the project was shelved.

Since then the proposal was caught in the political rigmarole and was once again taken up in the meeting of the coordination committee between MC officials and officials of the UT administration held yesterday.

According to sources, UT’s finance secretary Sanjay Kumar has remarked that the administration cannot allow construction of a marriage palace in the city and that the MC should look for an appropriate place in nearby villages.

Talking to The Tribune, Mayor Kamlesh said that the MC was planning to construct the marriage palace in the vacant space lying in Hallo Majra.

“The purpose is to facilitate the residents to have functions and marriages at a convenient place rather than going all the way to far off places like Zirakpur and Mohali. As it is not everyone can afford a farmhouse, so for affordability and accessibility we are planning to have one of our own,” she said.

Other proposals that were passed in the meeting yesterday include multi-level parking and footpaths for passers-by in the Industrial Area, development of greenbelts and community health and community centres in villages with MCC etc.

According to sources, there was a long discussion in the meeting on proposed community parking lots in the city.

While the UT advisor was particularly impressed with the project, others were not.

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Numbers for houses in suburbs
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Each house in the nine villages with the municipal corporation, Chandigarh, is set to get its own ‘identity’. Finally waking up to the need of identification for these houses, the MC will assign number to each one of it.

The villages in the city, which are with the MC include Hallo Majra, Dadu Majra, Burail, Kajehri, Palsora besides others.

According to sources, absence of assigned numbers to the houses was not only problematic for the residents themselves, but also for the MC to identify for development purposes.

What adds to the confusion is the random numbering of most of the houses in the villages.

There have been instances when houses without numbers created trouble whenever a survey was conducted in the villages to know the status of the basic amenities in the area.

A testimony to this is the recent survey conducted by a private agency in Hallo Majra for inspecting the files and site plans in the village. There are about 2,200 houses in the village and the resident welfare association of the area has alleged that there had been many discrepancies in the survey conducted by them.

In a memorandum submitted today to MC commissioner Roshan Sunkaria, the association members have alleged that many houses were missing in the survey booklets and they have not been numbered in a serial order.

One of the reasons being attributed to the debacle is the lack of proper numbering in the village. It is the same story for other villages as well.

Mayor Kamlesh said, “There was a long pending demand to assign numbers to all houses in the villages. Though these nine villages were transferred to MC in 2007, proper numbering of the houses could not be done for some reasons.”

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Sweeper found dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Basheshar, a 55-year-old sweeper, was found dead at his government accommodation in Sector 38, here, this morning. The police has ruled out any foul play behind the death and said the deceased was an alcoholic.

According to the police, the death came to light when neighbours noticed foul smell coming from his residence and informed the police. The police said the deceased’s hands and feet were swollen. However, there was no injury mark found on the body. He was last seen on Monday.

The police said Basheshar was living alone and they were trying to locate his family. The body had been shifted to the Government Multi Specialty Hospital, Sector 16. The police has initiated inquest proceedings in this connection at Sector 39 police station.

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Violation of High Court orders
Admn allows parking along highway
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, January 14
In violation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders in the traffic management and highway-widening case, the local administration is allowing vehicles to be parked all along the Zirakpur-Derabassi highway.

The Deputy Commissioner, in compliance with the High Court orders, earlier issued directions for banning unauthorised parking of vehicles, including public transport vehicles, on the Zirakpur-Derabassi and the Zirakpur-Kalka stretches.

However, a survey of the area revealed that the private vehicles, along with long-route buses, were blatantly violating the orders by stopping at Zirakpur to pick passengers. The random parking of trucks, along the Zirakpur-Ambala road, in violation of the orders, was also evident.

The Mohali police had earlier been asked to tow away any vehicle that was parked in violation of the prohibitory orders passed by the DC, Mohali, Rahul Bhandhari. Passing the order under Section 144 of the CrPC, the DC had directed the police to maintain round-the-clock patrolling and deploy highway patrol parties to enforce the orders. The bans also extended to buses, rickshaws, road squatters and rehries.

The administration has already started the process of marking the tow-away zones and identifying the parking spots for public transport. The SSP, Mohali, and the NHAI have been asked to ensure compliance of the directives.

The orders have been passed following the Punjab and Haryana High Court directing the Mohali and Panchkula Deputy Commissioners to resolve the issue of unnecessary parking of vehicles on the national highways.

The DC, Mohali, Rahul Bhandhari, said the IG (Traffic), Punjab, had promised strict implementation of the orders.

The traffic police officials said despite repeated efforts, bus drivers had not stopped parking their buses to pick passengers along the road, which led to traffic jams. 

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PGI doc honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Dr Kanika Sahni, a doctor at the PGI, Chandigarh, won the MGM Medical College award for his paper during the recently concluded 37th annual conference of the Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists Dermacon 2009 at Bengaluru.

The paper was based on research work carried out in the department of dermatology, PGI, on non-cultured melanocyte transplantation. It is useful in treating vitiligo patients, who have stable disease not responding to medical treatment.

She also got the British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) fellowship, which will enable her to participate in the 89th annual meeting of BAD to be held in Glasgow in July, 2009.

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Four-day training programme begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
A four-day residential training programme on development of community mobilisation skills for self-sustainability of the World Bank-assisted Punjab Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (PRWSS) Project has commenced today at Panjab University. PS Aujla, secretary, the Punjab’s rural water supply and sanitation department, inaugurated the programme.

The focus of the training would be on the issues related to the water supply and sanitation aspects with primary emphasis on community mobilisation strategies, understanding of environment and natural resources, art of living practices for personal and professional growth, documentation and record keeping, ice breaking skills, conflict resolution, motivation, building and major focus on communication to various stakeholders. Participants will also get a practical exposure of the commissioned community operated water supply schemes and sanitation structures in the model villages.

The training programme is being attended by newly recruited professionals in the form of human resource development specialists (HRD), information, education and communication specialists (IEC) and sub-divisional engineers (SDEs).

While addressing the training programme, Aujla informed that in order to provide safe and potable water to rural population of Punjab and to check ill effects of contaminated water, the government of Punjab formulated the PRWSS project.

Prominent personalities who participated in the programme include Dr Sultan Ahmed Ismail, director, the Eco Science Research Foundation, Chennai, Dr Yudhvir Khyalia, ADC Sirsa and the World Bank communication expert Soma Ghosh.

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Anandpur Sahib leaders demand SAD ticket for Padiala
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 14
Certain Akali leaders of the Anandpur Sahib constituency have demanded that the SAD party ticket should be given to Rajbir Singh Padiala in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing a press conference here today, Baldev Singh Kumbra, Sadhu Singh Todarmajra, Manjit Singh Sethi, Manmohan Singh Lang and Maan Singh Sohana said Padiala’s father Bachitar Singh, former Kharar MLA, worked for years for strengthening the Akali Dal.

Padiala had remained loyal to the party and also had great influence in the constituency.

They said the party had to face defeat in the assembly elections by fielding an outsider in the Kharar constituency because people of the area were not interested in supporting outsiders.

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Retired SE crushed to death under tractor-trolley
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 14
A retired Superintending Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) was killed after being crushed under a tractor-trolley in Zirakpur today.

The victim was looking at the work of widening a nullah outside Shalimar Enclave at Dhakoli. According to information, Narinder Singh (68), a resident of Shalimar Enclave, had gone for evening walk with his friend when the mishap occurred.

Police said that the accident took place around 4 pm. Narinder Singh was standing along a stationery tractor-trolley which moved suddenly.

The deceased is survived by his wife and a son, who lives in Australia.

The Police said that the body was sent to Civil Hospital, Derabassi, for post mortem.

The tractor driver fled from the spot leaving the vehicle behind after the accident, the police said.

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White elephants not required

The Tribune has well taken up a billion-dollar question before the people of Chandigarh in the issue of Chandigarh Tribune on January 7. I am residing in Chandigarh since 1954. I have served the Punjab Government and retired as an officer from Chandigarh and settled here.

I still remember there was a Chief Commissioner who used to run the administration and was accountable to the people of the city. During that period there was hardly any politics, political interference and he used to work with the sole motto of giving and improving the basic amenities to the residents of the City Beautiful.

Beautiful projects, humanity, brotherhood, respect, peace, harmony, crimeless city were the examples of those times. However, things have changed rapidly since the induction of the Governor to accommodate politicians. With the introduction of the municipal corporation, the city has become a fighting ring of politicians and the situation is worse than ever. These people are eating up major chunk of exchequer in the name of development.

The Governor of Punjab is less concerned with the welfare of the people of the state, but projects himself more as a supreme commander of Chandigarh Administration. The fight among the Governor, bureaucrats and the municipal corporation is destroying the true spirit of the city. I am of the opinion that previous system of handling Chandigarh by the Chief Commissioner is a better option. People of Chandigarh want basic amenities rather than white elephants.

— Kulbhushan Kanwar, Sector 48-A, Chandigarh

Adopt homogeneity

There is an immediate need for de-linking the UT Administrator’s post from the Governor of Punjab. The growth of the city should be looked after by the elected representatives of the municipal corporation. The post of Chief Commissioner should be restored and the rules and regulations monitored by bureaucrats without the fear of the Governor.

The acts of the UT Administrator can be referred to judicial scrutiny, which belittles the office of the Punjab Governor. This fact again proves the fact that these two positions have to be executed by different individuals. The Governance structure adopted for other Union Territories of India should also be followed in spirit for Chandigarh.

— Deepak Bagai, Chandigarh

Governor unaware of policies

I have been closely following the new item covering the Governor of Punjab and Pradeep Mehra.

It is clearly visible that something is being cooked and the Governor is not aware of all the policies, rules, regulation and the conditions of implementation. They follow double standard for people in Punjab and Chandigarh.

I think the time has come where we go back to our old policies where we used to have Chief Commissioner as the head of Chandigarh. As a resident of Chandigarh, I would never like the city going to Punjab, for which demand has been started by the Punjab CM. Once we have our own Chief Commissioner he will be accountable for various task performed in the city.

So I request we go ahead with our old policy of having a Chief Commissioner.

— Name withheld on request

Restore UT’s golden era

Chandigarh deserves a separate Chief Commissioner like the good old days when the likes of MS Randhawa served the City Beautiful with diligence as the city was their exclusive domain. I still remember when people swarmed in thousands at their presence at all important occasions, be it sports functions, boating or cycling at Sukhna Lake or programmes of beautifying the city, making of Rock Garden, honouring the seniors and artists. They interacted with common man and were accessible.

I wish the golden era of 1965 to 1980 be restored in the city.

— Kuldip Rai Wadhwa, Gurgaon, Haryana

For coordination

I believe that a Chief Commissioner for Chandigarh today is necessary. After the horrific recent attacks on Mumbai, creation of the National Investigation Agency has become necessary to safeguard India. A Chief Commissioner should be able to coordinate just fine with the Government of Punjab and Haryana.

— Amit Pal Tewari, San Francisco, California, US

To be continued

Lack of transparency

The recent turn of events has exposed the lack of transparency in the works of the Chandigarh Administration. It is shameful that in a democratic country like ours, and that too in Chandigarh, which is considered to be the city of the educated, there is practically no transparency in the projects undertaken by the administration.

In case the transparency about the projects had been maintained with the public then the present series of debates through media and the PILs in the courts could have been avoided.

I further feel that the present Administrator system is not serving any purpose for the progress of the city. In fact huge sums of money have been misused and no participation of the general public was there. These projects seem not less than frauds. The viability of the projects like Medicity, Educity, Theme Park and the giving away of huge land to real estate companies has not been properly justified.

The fact remains that the citizens of the country have the right to know the details and the motives behind any project undertaken. The Administrator, who is also the Governor of Punjab, is not readily accessible to the public for grievance and complaint redressal.

It is high time that the post of the Chief Commissioner be revived with immediate effect to win back the confidence of the public.

— Shikha Mittal , Chandigarh

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Pvt schools not to burden parents more
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
Representatives of almost 30 private schools got together today and decided to be “considerate” enough and not increase their fee beyond the fixed annual hike done every year.

At a meeting organised by the Independent Schools Association, the schools decided to make requisite hike to accommodate pay commission’s directives from next year. They will, however, continue with the fixed annual hike percentage.

“We all have decided not to burden parents in the wake of pay commission. Thus, we will carry out with the fixed percentage of annual hike. This varies from school to school, but the maximum in any city school is 10 per cent,” said DS Bedi, president, ISA.

The declaration has, however, failed to elate city parents, who consider it to be achievement of motive in a “disguised” way.

“They are already charging us so much, and this hike every year cannot be borne by parents. What consideration do they talk about? Earlier also they had said that in the wake of pay commission they will hike the fee maximum to 10 per cent,” said Raghav Ranjan, a city parent.

It may be noted that while the schools have already made this decision, the education department is yet to fulfill its promise to scrutinise the fee structures and cut down exorbitant charges. The department had announced that it would scrutinise the balance sheets of all private schools and ask them to justify their “extra charges”, if any, being levied in the name of “best of facilities”, like AC rooms, sports infrastructure, transport, instructors, and gymnasium. The announcement has, however, failed to get realised even after three months.

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Agitated PUSU members block road
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
It seems that leaders and members of the Panjab University Student's Union (PUSU) only wake up to agitate for some students’ grievances and take credit for it when the authorities had already given a nod to readdress them.

Interestingly, most of the unions just believe in submitting long memorandum to the authorities without considering the status of the demands, which they are submitting. This could well be judged from today’s incident in which the members of the Panjab University Student's Union (PUSU) blocked road in the campus and tried to break speed breakers installed recently.

Whereas in a committee meeting on January 12 a decision had been taken that all speed breakers would be reshaped which had been recently built to restrict the speed limit of the vehicles on the campus to check accidents due to rash and reckless driving. The students alleged that these speed breakers were causing wear and tear to the vehicles. Prof Naval Kishore, Dean Student's Welfare, PU, reached the spot and promised the agitating students that their demand will be acceded to soon.

Meanwhile, the Student’s Organisation of India (SOI) present nine point memorandum to the DSW, including bus services from library to girls’ hostels, opening of canteens during examinations in boys and girls hostel, medical facilities in both boys and girls’ hostel, indoor games facility and gym in girls’ hostels and revaluation in the Punjabi department also.

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PU ties up with Australian varsity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 14
The University of Western Australia (UWA) and the Panjab University have signed an MoU today for the teaching and research collaboration. University of Western Australia Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Doug and PU Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti signed the MoU.

Prof Doug said their would be an exemption for the TOFEL students after this MoU. It has been decided that the minimum bands they have to score in IELTS would be 6.5. All the students, who were the main objective of these MoUs, were to broaden the scope of the academic curriculum and to provide a unique learning experience for students in an overseas environment as well as to promote co-operation between the two institutions.

Sobti said the MoU had been resulted due to good performance of UIET students in the UWA's internship programme. He said the student-exchange programme would be open on undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

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