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German girl confirms rape
To be cross-examined in court today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
In significant development, the 20-year-old German tourist, who was allegedly abducted from the parking lot of the Taj Hotel in September 2008, today confirmed before the Additional District and Sessions Judge R.S. Attri during an in-camera proceeding that she was raped by the accused.

According to sources, the victim identified all the accused who were present during the trial and also named the suspect who had allegedly raped her. Sources said that she also corroborated the prosecution story, strengthened by forensic evidence confirming her rape.

Sources said the victim, who was accompanied by her father and some officials of the German Embassy, broke down several times while recording her 20 page statement. In her statement, she reportedly corroborated the sequence of events presented by the prosecution in the chargesheet.

Talking to the TNS, counsel for the victim Poonam R. Mehta confirmed that the victim had identified all the accused. She said the victim would be cross-examined tomorrow in the court.

The victim arrived from Delhi via road yesterday and later checked in a five-star hotel in the city. The victim, along with the officials from the embassy, reached the district courts at around 10.30 am amidst tight security.

The police had submitted a 300-page chargesheet aiming that the trial proceeds at a fast pace during the hearing fixed for January 16 and 17. The prosecuting agency had mentioned 42 witnesses in its chargesheet, but zeroed in on 16 of them.

The victim was abducted and allegedly raped in September 2008 and the police had booked five persons - Manveer Singh alias Jolly, Sukhminder Singh alias Sukhi, Harpreet Singh, Pankaj and Sompal - in the case.

Meanwhile, the defence on Thursday had moved a criminal revision petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court for stay on the trial court proceedings.

Advocate A.S. Chahal, who represented the five accused, had challenged framing of rape charges. The defence had pleaded that the charges were added on the basis of a forensic report.

The defence counsel argued when the girl was not saying a single word about being raped and the opinion of forensic laboratory was not sufficient to prove the crime. The High Court ruled that if the girl did not allege rape before the trial court, the defence could apply for deletion of rape charges.

The German girl had initially accused the youths of abduction and molestation. However, a report of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) submitted to the police a month after the crime had established rape. The report had said that bloodstains, hair strands, cigarette butts, semen swabs and condoms samples recovered from the vehicle used for abducting her matched with that of the accused.

The German girl had visited Chandigarh on September 23, 2008, to attend her friend’s wedding and had gone to the Taj Hotel at night. She came out of the coffee shop for smoking and became friendly with five youths.

The victim had complained to the police that she had driven the vehicle out of the hotel’s parking lot. However, the accused abducted her and molested her at the farmhouse. The accused, Pankaj, dropped her back the next day at Sector 20, she had said.

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Prideasia runs into legal troubles
Delhi resident moves consumer court for refund
Pradeep Sharma/Ranju Aery Dadwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Prideasia, ultra-luxury mega housing project being executed by Parsvnath Developers and the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) at the IT Park here, has now run into legal troubles.

Even as the woes of Parsvnath seem to be far from over, allottees have started demanding the refund of their money with New Delhi resident Rajiv Malhotra moving the State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, New Delhi, today for the refund of about Rs 25.71 lakh deposited for a four-bedroom penthouse at the Prideasia.

Coming close on the heels of freezing of Parsvnath's escrow account by the CHB, the filing of the case by Malhotra is likely to goad other investors to seek withdrawal from the ambitious project given the slow pace of work at the site and clouds of uncertainty hovering over the project.

Malhotra had booked the penthouse costing around Rs 2.57 crore in September, 2007, and it was to be handed over to him within "36 months from the agreement dated October 6,2006, executed between the CHB and Parsvnath by October, 2009”. Malhotra deposited an earnest money of Rs 12.85 lakh on September 20, 2007.

The application filed by Malhotra claimed that the penthouse (No 2, Block No B-2, IIIrd Floor) was not “as per the requirements” and on his repeated representation, he was ultimately allotted a dwelling unit (No 2 in Block B-22).Thus the dealings of the developer and the CHB were not “confidence-inspiring” from the very beginning, the complaint alleged.

Despite repeated requests that he should be apprised of the progress of the project, the developers demanded an installment of Rs 38.57 lakh. Out of this, Malhotra reportedly paid Rs 12.85 lakh on February 4 last year.

The allottee alleged that after a lapse of 9-10 months from the date of execution of the initial agreement (September 20, 2007), he visited the project site to see the development.

However, he was shocked to notice that no development work had been undertaken at the site.

Even as the work progressed at a snail’s pace, Malhotra requested the developers to cancel the booking of the flat and refund investments of about Rs 25.71 lakh. And to his utter surprise, he was apprised through a letter that under Clause 5(a) of the Flat Buyer Agreement, the developers would be entitled to deduct Rs 12.85 lakh.

And his legal notice and representations to both CHB and Parsvnath had gone unheeded, Malhotra claimed.

Malhotra claimed that he was in touch with several investors in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UK, who have expressed their desire to file criminal cases against the CHB and the Parsvnath for breach of trust.

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Income tax raids on builder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Several teams of the investigation wing of the income tax department today conducted raids on nearly 25 business and residential premises of Mittal and Goel coloniser group in tricity, here today.

According to information, the builder group has several large scale residential and commercial projects like ‘Tricity plaza’, ‘Tricity home’ and ‘Platinum tower’ in Zirakpur and Panchkula Heights in Sector 20, Panchkula. Also, they have a jewellery shop in the name of ‘Kangan Jewellers’, Mani Majra, Chandigarh.

The raids, which began in the morning at Panchkula, Chandigarh and Zirakpur localities, continued till the filing of the report. Though no official information about the outcome was available, it was learnt that IT sleuths had seized cash worth Rs 70 lakh and incriminating documents pertaining to sale and purchase of benami property.

The deputy director of Investigation, Praveen Sidhartha, supervised the operations, which were carried out by atleast 50 IT officials from the income tax department. The raids were extended to some other businesses of coloniser like jewellery shop in Manimajra.

While officials refused to divulge details of the concealed income, sources indicated the seized documents, books of account and other relevant information about property and wealth of the coloniser, family members and business associates were being processed to arrive at a figure, which was likely to touch several crores.

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Farmers accuse HDFC Bank of cheating
Stage dharna in front of Ambala branch
Tribune News Service

Ambala, January 16
Farmers of surrounding villages of Patiala and Kaithal here today alleged that they had been duped of lakhs of rupees by the staff of Ambala Cantt branch of HDFC Bank.

The farmers, who had come from the villages bordering Ambala, alleged that the scam was in crores and the staff of the bank was involved.

The farmers had taken a loan from the Bank of Punjab in October, 2006, of Rs 5 lakh for seven years. The Bank of Punjab had merged with the HDFC Bank in May, 2008, and is now known as HDFC Bank only.

The farmers, Rajinder Singh, Raj Kumar, Bikram and Kishore from Kaithal and Amrinder and Raghuvinder from Patiala, alleged that they had returned their loan amount along with an interest of Rs 40,000 each to the staff of the bank a few months ago.

However, they were surprised to receive a court notice a few days ago declaring them as defaulters.

When they approached the bank today, they were shocked to find out that the receipts they had been issued as proof of payment of the loan amount were not genuine.

The farmers staged a protest in front of the Ambala Cantt branch. The matter was later resolved with the intervention of SHO Dharamvir Singh, who assured action in this matter.

Meanwhile, a statement issued by HDFC Bank states that the Centurion Bank of Punjab (CBoP) merged with HDFC Bank in May, 2008. Since then, HDFC Bank found that certain systems and processes in CBoP branches were lax, leading to two incidents of mala fide practices at Jagraon and Ambala Cantt branches.

The bank has been introducing in the erstwhile CBoP branches the stringent systems and procedures being followed in HDFC Bank and the detection of these irregularities is a result of this practice.

HDFC Bank confirms to its customers that all bona fide claims of its customers, who have been impacted by these mala fide acts, will be fully protected upon completion of its investigations.

No official was available for comment. The statement was released by the bank through its public relation firm. 

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New Pay Scales
Teachers to stage dharnas on January 22
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Punjab Federation of University and College Teachers' Organisations (PFUCTO), a federation representing all teachers of five universities, 54 government colleges and nearly 170 non-govt colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh, has decided to launch a struggle for implementation of new UGC pay scales notified by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) on December 31, 2008.

While talking to mediapersons, Dr Jagwant Singh, general secretary, PFUCTO, said they had decided to observe strike for 2 hours and stage dharnas and rallies on the campuses of the universities and colleges on January 22 and, beside this, all teachers would proceed on mass casual leave on January 28 and hold a rally at Chandigarh to impress upon the Punjab Govt. to implement the new pay scales at the earliest.

Dr Jagwant Singh said since the government had stated that it will provide financial assistance to the extent of 80 per cent of the financial burden arising out of pay scales for January 1, 2006 to March 31, 2010, so that the states would not find it difficult to implement the scheme into.

Dr S S Dhillon, president, PFUCTO, pointed out that "payment of central assistance for implementing this scheme is also subject to the condition that the entire scheme of revision of pay scales, together with all conditions to be laid down by the UGC by way of regulations and other guidelines, would be implemented by the state government and universities and colleges coming under their jurisdiction as a composite scheme without any modification".

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Parking of buses on highways continues despite ban
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 16
In a typical case of putting the cart before the horse, the Mohali district administration has banned the parking of buses on the Zirakpur-Derabassi and Zirakpur-Kalka national highways even before providing bus queue shelters on the road sections.
Not caring for the ban on the parking of vehicles on national highway, roadways buses pick passengers in a tow-away zone marked by the Mohali police in Zirakpur.
Not caring for the ban on the parking of vehicles on national highway, roadways buses pick passengers in a tow-away zone marked by the Mohali police in Zirakpur. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

As a result, buses are being parked on the national highway, disrupting the smooth flow of traffic. In compliance with the directives of the Punjab and Haryana High court in the traffic management and highway widening case, the district magistrate has banned the unauthorised parking of vehicles, including public transport vehicles, on the national highways.

Not only public transport vehicles, the commuters are also parking their vehicles on the road. “It would take some time before the slow carriageways were made by the NHAI. Since construction work is going on both sides of the Zirakpur-Panchkula highway, there was no immediate scope of creating slow carriageway,”said an official.

Upset at suddenly banning parking of buses, Narinder Kumar, a resident of New Age Apartments, said Zirakpur was a populated place and needs proper place to pick and drop passengers. The state should be sensitive to problems of the residents.

The police has been asked to maintain round-the-clock patrolling and deploy highway patrol parties to enforce the orders. The ban also extends to buses, rickshaws, road squatters and rehris. The traffic police in charge, Zirakpur, SI Sanjeev Kumar said after the ban, at least five vehicles were towed away.

A survey of the area revealed that private vehicles, along with long-route buses, were blatantly violating the orders by stopping at Zirakpur to pick passengers. Drivers of Haryana Roadways and Punjab Roadways claim that they have not been intimated about the ban, and the no-parking boards had been hurriedly put up. But the cops have been persuading them not to park their buses on the highways.

“Where should we park the buses when there is no space. The bus queue shelters should have been marked before passing the orders,” said Rakesh Kumar, a bus driver.

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Polluted water being supplied in Zirakpur
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 16
Residents of Zirakpur villages are complaining that they are suffering from viral fever, skin infection and stomach infection due to impure water being provided by public health department, Zirakpur.

Residents of Dhakoli, Gazipur and Baltana villages are claiming that no corrective measures have been taken by MC officials for supplying clean and pure water. Residents allege that they have been complaining to the departments concerned, but without any success.

Satpal, a resident of Gazipur village, said they were not getting pure water provided by the public health department. He said skin allergy was common diseases among the residents.

Dr Ram Kumar, SMO, Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi, said no such case had come to his knowledge. He advised the people to adopt preventive measures and maintain cleanliness of their surroundings. However, the MC officials stated that they would take precautionary measure as soon as possible.

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93 docs get job letters
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 16
The department of health and family welfare, Punjab, has appointed 93 doctors to the regular posts of medical officers (specialist) in the Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS-I) cadre. These selections have been made by the department selection committee, especially constituted for the purpose.

Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, gave appointment letters to the 93 newly-appointed doctors here today. She said it was after a long time that the regular posts of doctors could be filled.

The selections were made in a fair and a transparent manner by the selection committee. She said the government was committed to provide better health services to the people of the state and in order to meet the shortage of medical and paramedical staff, the department had made many recruitments to strengthen the health care services in the state.

Chawla said 90 out of the 93 newly-appointed doctors were posted in the Malwa region, where there had been shortage of doctors as compared to other regions. She further said the Punjab Public Service Commission had also committed to fill another 100 vacancies of regular doctors soon.

AR Talwar, principal secretary, informed among the specialist doctors appointed there were gynecologists (23), pediatrics (26), medicine ( 13), transfusion (9), anesthesia (5), radiologist (8), ENT (1), orthopeadic (1), general Surgery (1), pathologist (1) and psycatrics (5). 

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Satyam Fallout
Investors in region lose lakhs 
Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The window dressing scam in Satyam Computers has had its fall-out in the tricity, with thousands of people seeing their investments getting eroded. With the share prices having dropped from Rs 542 last year to Rs 22.45 now, it is estimated that investors in this region have lost lakhs of rupees.

Sources informed The Tribune that though the direct investors in the IT major were less, most of the mutual fund investors have seen a ‘near washing away’ of their investment portfolios as the scam became public and the share prices crashed. A large number of investors here invested in mutual funds (MF), and these MFs had invested heavily in the now scam-tainted company. These people are the real losers as they started investing in the company shares when its price started falling. Their fortunes sank during a single day fall when the Satyam chairman admitted to the fraud.

M L Batra, a channel partner of Angel Broking in Panchkula, said hundreds of new shareholders of the company stepped in after the share prices touched Rs 179 last month. “They thought that the shares would again go up to Rs 540, but the prices touched a low of Rs 6.30 before reaching a level of Rs 22. 45 now,” he said.

Gurmeet Singh Chawla, director of Master Trust, said most of the shareholders in the region had not invested in more than 500 shares of the company. “But according to my estimate, over 100 shareholders would have more than 10,000 shares each. These are the people who have suffered the maximum losses,” he said.

R Thirumal, director of Balaji Enterprises, said though the investor sentiment is down, they should hold on to the company shares. “In months to come, their value is sure to double,” he advised.

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Mumbai police commissioner under HC scanner
Saurabh Malik/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The functioning of Mumbai police commissioner has come under the Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner. He has been asked to explain why non-bailable warrants issued in a contempt of court case against the managing partner of a government-recognised export house have not been executed.

Justice TPS Mann of the high court has also directed the immediate attachment of the establishment at Delhi.

In his petition against managing partner of Harshita Health Care Satish Chander, Chandigarh resident JS Kanwar had alleged contempt of court in a service matter. Going into the background of the matter, the petitioner had contended he was working as regional business manager, but the salary and other expenses incurred by him were illegally withheld in 1998.

The labour court allowed his claim for Rs 68, 792, along with annual interest of 12 per cent. After the order was not implemented, a writ petition was filed, on which a high court bench directed the respondent management to implement the award order. As the matter came up for hearing again, Justice Mann ruled: Inspite of all possible efforts, the respondent has not been served in the present contempt petition. Left with no other option, this court initially issued bailable warrants for securing the presence of the respondent, and thereafter non-bailable warrants were issued.

“On November 3, 2008 — the last date of hearing — non-bailable warrants issued were addressed to police commissioner, Mumbai, to ensure the execution of the same upon the respondent. “As per the office report, non-bailable warrants have not been received back. Let the police commissioner submit a report as to why non-bailable warrants issued against the respondent have not been executed”. Fixing March 5 as the next date of hearing, Justice Mann added: With a view to secure the presence of the respondent, direction is issued to the collector having territorial jurisdiction over Harshita Health Care, division of Harshita Organics limited, a government- recognised export house at New Delhi to further attach the said establishment. 

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Councillors urge CM to upgrade govt school
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 16
Two municipal councillors have urged the Punjab Chief Minister and the Cooperation Minister to issue directions for upgrading the Government High School in Phase XI to the level of a senior secondary school.

Amrik Singh and Sukhminder Singh Barnala said in a letter to the two ministers that a large number of middle class families and those affected by riots were living in Phase XI. They could not afford to send their children to private schools. Amrik Singh lamented that there was only one government senior secondary school in Mohali even when the population of the town had been increasing over the years. Only a limited number of students could take admission in this school and as such many had to approach schools in Chandigarh. 

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Residents throng admn complex to submit applications
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
A day after the Suvidha Camp in Phase 8 here, confusion prevailed at the district administrative complex when a large number of people reached there to pursue their applications filed yesterday.
A huge rush at Suvidha Centre in the district administrative complex, Mohali, on Friday.
A huge rush at Suvidha Centre in the district administrative complex, Mohali, on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Many people reached the office of the district transport officer(DTO) and Suvidha Centre to submit their applications. “ We were told that the application forms would be submitted today at the DTO office. So, we have come to submit the forms but now, we have been told to come on Monday,” said Angad Singh.

Sources said since most of the officials were busy in making arrangements for tomorrow’s Punjab CM sangat darshan, the people were sent back. People from different villages had come after being told to submit their forms.

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220 ITBP recruits administered oath 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A passing-out parade and oath-taking ceremony of the 76th and 77th batches of constables of the Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) concluded on the transport battalion ITBP grounds here this morning.

The IG (Northwestern frontier) PP Singh took the salute of the smart parade and inspected the parade led by Vikas Chaudhry. PK Tiwary, Deputy Commandant of the Transport Battalion, administered the oath to 220 recruits.

All recruits comprise 210 drivers and 10 motor mechanics, who have joined the force after undergoing 24 weeks intensive rigorous training, including physical efficiency, drill, weapon training, firing, field craft and transport related training.

Depander Singh was adjudged the over all best recruit while Viskas Chaudhry was first in drill. Annu was the first in PT, Vikas Swami was the first in weapon and Rajender Kumar was the first in firing. The chief guest gave away prizes to the winners. Mritunjay Kumar, Commandant of the battalion, presented a vote of thanks.

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Workshop on road safety
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Chandigarh Traffic Police today organised a Road Safety Exhibition and a workshop at Government College for Boys, Sector 11, here.

Over 400 students of the college participated in the workshop. The UT SP traffic HS Doon and DSP (Traffic) JS Cheema gave road safety tips to the students. The police also distributed pamphlets with road safety messages among the students. 

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Former Mayor’s letter sparks row
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The blatant allegations of former Mayor Anu Chatrath against nominated councillors of the Municipal Corporation of being a part of “distorted system” is going to cost the Congress party dear. In fact, her statement has sparked a row bound to have serious repercussions.

It all started with a letter being sent by the former Mayor to The Tribune, which has infuriated the nominated councillors so much so that they have decided to hold a meeting tomorrow at Dr A P Sanwaria’s house to decided a united stand against such “baseless allegations”. The meeting has been called tomorrow, as two of them, Amrit Bolaria and Brig KS Chandpuri were not in town today.

Almost all nominated councillors have expressed their anguish and have even demanded an unconditional public apology for such remarks against them.

In fact, one of the nominated councillors has said to the extent that an unconditional apology would be the softest remedial measure from her side.

Party insiders claim that though the party is unlikely to be directly affected with the councillors’ stand, however, with the next year’s post of Mayor being reserved for a women candidate, things are expected to fall out. As without the support of the nine nominated councillors, it would be a tough battle for the Congress.

It must be mentioned here that even in 2007, Anu Chatrath lost elections to the Akali-BJP candidate Harjinder Kaur with a margin of a single vote when she didn’t get full support of the nominated councillors.

Nominated councillor MPS Chawla, said, “We all are deeply pained by her remarks and demand a public apology from her. We are nominated by the UT administrator and are with him but our voting rights have always been our prerogative and can’t be forced by anyone else”.

In her letter published in Chandigarh Tribune on January 16, she has stated that the Akali-BJP alliance has been interfering in the UT Administration’s matters and it was a result of this interference that the Mayor’s post went to their candidate.

She also stated that it was the outcome of the Governor’s support in tune with a campaign led by Sukhbir Badal at that time.

Dr AP Sanwaria, another agitated nominated councillor said that all allegations were false and were not to be taken lightly. “The Governor has never asked any of us to vote in favour of a particular candidate. Apology is the least she could do.”

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Chand to hold all-religion congregation on Jan 25
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 16
Chand Mohammed alias Chander Mohan, former Haryana Deputy Chief Minister, who was pushed into political wilderness since he converted to Islam and married his beloved, has chosen the path of religion once again, this time to get closer to the people of his constituency.

He has decided to organise a “sarva dharma sammelan” (congregation of all religions) on January 25 at Yavnika, an open-air theatre in Sector 5 Town park.

However, the decision of the Congress leader to come in the public again has created flutters among the local party leaders as they apprehend a backlash from the public in case they appear with the MLA publicly.

“It would not be easy to convince the public about the decision of the MLA to remarry and denouncing his children while sitting along with his new bride,” said a confidant of Chand Mohammad.

“The public is still enraged over the decision of their leader and the local leaders cannot afford to annoy the public,” said another Congress leader. The MLA, however, believed that his workers were still with him and they were eager to welcome his return to the constituency.

“My party workers have already started preparing for the congregation and it would be open to all. Scholars from all the major religions would participate in the congregation,” said Chand.

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Workshop on tobacco laws begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A two-day regional advocacy workshop on tobacco control laws and related issues in India began at PGI here today. The chief guest Dr AR Kidwai, Governor of Haryana, inaugurated the workshop, which was organised by the department of psychiatry, PGI.

Dr Kidwai emphasized that mere enactment of laws in itself was not sufficient. Legislation should be supplemented with dissemination of information, awareness and provision of tobacco cessation services to the masses.

Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla and Dr Rajiv Bindal, Health Ministers of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, also addressed the gathering that included delegates from Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, New Delhi, Uttarakhand and Chandigarh.

Prof Chawla pointed towards the limitations in the government’s legislative policies and emphatically stressed the need to simultaneously ban the production and sale of tobacco and tobacco products together.

Dr Bindal narrated the health hazards of tobacco and committed to muster all resources required to prevent the use of tobacco by the masses specially the youth.

Dr S.K. Jindal, Professor and Head, Department of Pulmonary medicine, detailed about the adverse effects of tobacco on Health, socio-economic and environmental aspects. He spoke about the diseases caused by tobacco use such as cancer, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), myocardial infarction and stroke to name a few.

Dr. Vinayak Prasad, Director, MoHFW, talked about the legislative measures taken by the government, including “the Cigarettes and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition of Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution) Act 2003”, and strategies that are being considered to enforce it.

The consultant (Research), The Union S-E Asia, Pranay Lal, briefed about the Bloomberg Global Initiative and grant mechanism. The last session focused on sharing of the experiences of the best practices and success stories of tobacco control in various settings and places. 

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ICDS Scheme
130 anganwadi centres for UT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Government of India’s ministry of women and child development, under the 3rd phase of expansion of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, has sanctioned 130 new additional anganwadi centres under the centrally sponsored scheme to the Chandigarh Administration.

The anganwadi centres have been sanctioned at the existing three ICDS projects to cover all eligible population (approximately five lakh) living in village, colonies and slum areas in the union territory.

With the functioning of these centres, the total number of centres will reach up to 500 in the city.

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27 teams to participate in moot court competition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The University Institute of Legal Studies (UILS) is organising the national rounds of Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in association with Surana and Surana International Attorneys today.

While talking to mediapersons Prof PS Jaswal, Director, UILS revealed that 27 teams from all over India, including Army Law School, Gujarat National Law University, ILS Law College, Nalsar, Hyderabad, National Law School of India University, National Law University, Jodhpur, Symbiosis, Pune, will be participating in the event. The team which wins the national round will earn the right to advance to the world championship Sherman and Sterling international rounds, which will be held in Washington DC from March 22, 2009.

He further told that this competition would be conducted in four rounds. He said this was the first time that PU was organising this national event.

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National seminar on gurbani discourse
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The department of Guru Nanak Sikh studies organised a national seminar in collaboration with Guru Gobind Singh study circle on the theme of discourse of gurbani’s scientific perspective in the English auditorium, Panjab University, here. The seminar was presided over by senior cabinet minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh and inaugurated by Prof RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University.

While inaugurating the seminar Prof Sobti stated that in the crisis of globalisation, the discourse of gurbani is the only way to give message of humanity for better future. The Vice-Chancellor was enthusiastic for Guru Teg Bahadur Bhawan to be build on campus. Captain Kanwaljit Singh donated Rs 5 lakh for the construction of the bhawan.

Prof SS Noor explained the concept of discourse in various religions specifically in the context of gurbani.

On the occasion a book written by Prof Darshan Singh, “A surviving Amritsar”, was released by Captain Singh. Prof Sobti announced that the second world Punjabi conference would also concentrate on the same theme.

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Dabwali school wins science quiz
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 16
The team of Nehru Senior Secondary School, Mandi Dabwali, emerged winner of science quiz, organised by the Haryana State Council for Science and Technology (HSCST). The contest was inaugurated by Shashi Banerjee, Principal, Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 15, here, yesterday.

As many as 14 schools affiliated to the Haryana Education Board, and 16 schools affiliated to the CBSE and the ICSE participated.

Second prize was bagged by Government Senior Secondary School, Urban Estate, Gurgaon, while Government Senior Secondary School, Barwala, Hisar, stood third.

The consolation prize went to Arya Senior Secondary School, Narwana, Jind.

The winning teams of the CBSE and the ICSE include DHD SD Public School, Ambala cantt, DAV Public School, Jind, and Blue Bells Model School, Gurgaon, who got first, second and third prizes, respectively.

Consolation prize in this category, however, went to Sacred Heart Convent Senior Secondary School, Jagadhri.

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Mega Projects 
RTI activist apprises CJM of ‘irregularities’ 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Right to Information (RTI) activist Hemant Goswami today appeared before Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Chandigarh, Kanchan Wahi and apprised her about the alleged irregularities committed in the mega projects proposed for the city.

Goswami, who has procured all the documents pertaining to the land deals for mega projects, including the Film City, Theme-cum-Amusement Park and Medicity, submitted the same to the CJM for further action.

He also produced the 30 pages of relevant official documents regarding offence relating to criminal breach of trust by a public servant under Section 409 of the IPC, urging the CJM to ensure that the “irregularities” committed by the officials Administration officials be handled lawfully.

The activist highlighted that how the land measuring 30 acres in Chandigarh under the trust and control of public servants (employees of Union of India) has been “illegally” designed to be transferred in favour of Parsvnath Film City Limited for the Film City project.

“An agreement to this effect has allegedly been signed on March 2, 2007, just two days after the said company was registered (on February 28, 2006) with an authorised capital of Rs 10 lakh only,” he said.

“The 30 acres of land in Chandigarh has been valued at nearly Rs 1,200 crore and is being or has been transferred for Rs 191 crore, causing a loss of around Rs 1,000 crore to the exchequer. The commission of the offence has passed through an elaborate design camouflaged as an official invitation for development of land. This constitutes an offence of criminal breach of trust by public servant and I found myself duty-bound under the law to inform about the same,” he said.

The RTI activist also mentioned the names of the officials involved in the land deals and violating the GFR laws so as to rig the whole process with an intention to facilitate the offence.

It is pertinent to mention here that the shortlisted company - Parsvnath Developers Limited - to whom the land was handed over for the Film City project on March 2, 2007, had never participated in the bid and was formed just two days prior to signing of the contract.

“The official documents speak that this company did not even have certificate of commencement of business on the said date. As on the date of signing of the agreement, the company had an authorised capital of Rs 10 lakh only and paid up capital of Rs 5 lakh only. The records also show that the company did not have any technical experts on its board and had no employees,” said the RTI activist.

He reiterated that similar indiscretions were committed for other proposed mega projects by the “camouflaged” tendering process which also needs independent verification. 

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Beautify Sec 17, Sukhna: Ram Niwas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
UT Home-cum-Tourism Secretary Ram Niwas today chaired a meeting regarding beautification of Sector 17 and the Sukhna lake. During the meeting he directed the Chief Architect to prepare visual presentations for the structural redesigning of Sector 17.

Ram Niwas gave three points to officials for the beautification of Sector 17, including installing benches around fountains and trees, creating basic landscaping around the trees and installing foot lights, fountains, trees and sculptures in the plaza.

Regarding the face lifting of the Sukhna lake it was decided to exhibit replicas of Le Corbusier's paintings in the upcoming souvenir shop. He asked the officials to speed up the work of preparing designs and estimates for the beautification of island and tower. He also directed principal, College of Art, to get some low height sculptures prepared from students of the college, which could dovetail with the existing feature preferably the open hand island.

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Oil conservation fortnight begins
A Correspondent

Chandigarh, January 16
The inaugural function of the Oil and Gas Conservation Fortnight (OGCF)-2009 was organised at Baba Makhan Shah Labhana Bhavan, Sector 30, here yesterday. The theme of the OGCF-2009 is “Save Fuel means Save Money”.

The programme was convened by the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) as state coordinator on behalf of oil industry. Sanjay Kumar, UT Finance Secretary, was chief guest.

Students of MDAV School, Sector 22, Sri Aurobindo School of Integral Education, Sector 27, Sri Guru Gobind Singh Senior Secondary School, Sector 35, and Gyandeep Modern High School, Sector 20, also took part in the function.

In the welcome address, Shri Amit Mehra, senior regional manager, HPCL, said such programmes were being organised for creating mass awareness regarding conservation of oil and gas for the protection of environment.

Sanjay Kumar highlighted the importance of natural gas in coming years.

Two vans, displaying messages of oil and gas conservation, were also flagged off.

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Admn mulls new industrial policy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Chandigarh Administration is mulling a new industrial policy for the city. The process was set in motion at a meeting of the administration's top brass with industrialists here yesterday. Several proposals, including increase in the floor area ratio (FAR) from 1 to 1.5, upgradation of infrastructure at the industrial area, and according "industry status" to the IT industry were deliberated at the meeting.

Since the city was suitable for the IT sector in the wake of the setting up of the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Techonolgy Park and its non-polluitng nature, the IT industry would be given special attention in the proposed industrial policy.

Sources said various demands raised by the industry would be deliberated on by the UT officials before coming out with a blueprint for the industrial policy.

A senior official said a consensus would be worked out with other industry associations before finalising the industrial policy.

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Mayor unaware of MC officials’ trip
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Barely a fortnight has passed and the fissures in the Municipal Corporation appears. Though with new Mayor, promises are made to work with full coordination and cooperation, but that hardly seems to fall in place.

The differences between the Administrator and the MP have nearly divided the MCC into two parts. While officers believe themselves to be supreme, the Mayor and councillors are also not behind, resulting in allegations that the officers do not cooperate.

The situation was evident yesterday when most of the officers were not available and the Mayor Kamlesh was not even aware of it.

According to sources, when the Mayor tried to contact MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria, she was informed that he is off to Goa for an official tour. Later, when she tried to contact the Chief Engineer, she was again informed that even he was not available and has gone on an official tour.

When she tried to contact to the Additional Commissioner and the Joint Commissioner, she was told that they were also not available yesterday. Even during the previous Mayor’s tenure, the situation was no different. The sources claim that throughout last year, he kept trying to get his proposals passed from the MC administrative staff. But he was hardly heard.

The race for the supremacy in the MC administration and public representatives continues and consequently, the officials rarely inform the Mayor about their goings.

To deal with the situation, the Mayor has now decided to hold action-taken meetings on the 27th of each month with the MC officials so that the status of the proposed projects and ongoing plans can be checked. The aim is to fix accountability and time period for the completion of the projects by those responsible for it.

When questioned about the absence of the MC officers, Mayor Kamlesh said she had no information about any of the officers and their locations.

“We will make such arrangements that the officers at least inform us before going”, she said.

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Progress of works reviewed
Chandigarh, January 16
UT Finance Secretary-cum-Chairman of the state-level monitoring committee of the Member of Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) scheme Sanjay Kumar today held a meeting to review the progress of implementation of the scheme and status of the ongoing projects. — TNS

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Administration’s functioning no longer smooth

The main job of the Adviser to the Administrator, along with advising him on policy matters, is to oversee day-to-day administration of the UT. All financial powers of the Administrator stand delegated to him. Adviser acts as a revisional authority under the Capital of Punjab (Development & Regulations) Act 1952 and an appellate authority under various rules framed under the Act.

The function of the UT administration was going on smoothly. But the political parties and the federation of residents welfare associations have demanded a change in the set-up due to controversy arisen between the Administrator and his Adviser on some mega projects.

Grievances of the residents are not solved by the Administrator properly as he is not approachable.

Special powers were given to the Governor of Punjab as Administrator during the days of terrorism. Now as the terrorism days have gone, city residents demand to change of the old system. So the post of Chief Commissioner should be restored.

— Sahil Garg, Chandigarh

Punjab ignored

With the powerful posts of Home Secretary (as Chief Secretary) and Deputy Commissioner (head of a score of departments) going to Haryana, the dice was heavily loaded in its favour. The post of Chief Commissioner initially allocated to Punjab was soon taken over by the Centre.

Somnolent Punjab government and its non-Punjabi governors, with additional charge of UT Administrator, since 1990s, have failed to safeguard the interests of the state. As a result, Punjab and Punjabi are being phased out of the UT. Approximately 80 per cent of the employees at cutting-edge level are non-Punjabis.

With housing board and Municipal Corporation, the scenario of administrative functions, rendering arrangements of 1966 obsolete, have changed. Therefore, a commission, duly represented by Punjab and Haryana, should be set-up to recommend the new administrative infrastructure. The UT should be headed by an experienced public person of Punjab, and not by its Governor or any bureaucrat.

— SS Beniwal, Chandigarh

Burden for Guv

Ever since command and control structure has undergone change in the 80s, the quality of governance in the UT has been gradually deteriorating, and has now come to a grinding halt. Though, need of a democratic government being felt, elected governments have formed in other UTs, the city continues to be governed by the Punjab Governor.

The Administrator, being also the Governor, has less time to attend to the grievances of the city residents. The UT residents, including the villagers, who have been deprived of their land in successive phases, have no voice in the development process. Thus, the so-called development, with no rehabilitation, is actually pushing the villagers to the wall. It is through lack of participation that the original residents of the area today have to fight for their survival. It is tantamount to democracy versus dictatorship.

Last four years have been a dark period in the history of the UT as the administration has been busy in handling mega projects like IT Park, MediCity, Film City and Theme Park. Thus, the administration has lost the credibility and the faith of the people as the development activities are not improving the lot of the residents, rather lining the pockets of external elements. Even the elected representatives and functionaries of various associations are not being heard and their reservations go unaddressed.

The Governor of Punjab should be immediately relieved of his additional burden of UT Administrator of UT. Instead, the post of Chief Commissioner be restored to avoid further loss to the UT.

— Brig KS Kahlon (Retd) President, Chandigarh  Sanjha Morcha

Elected govt needed

The UT is under the Central government. Whether it is Governor or the Chief Commissioner the state of affair shall remain the same. Why not have an elected government?

If Delhi, Goa and Pudducherry can have elected governments, the city can also have a similar set up. It may require passing of a legislature by the Parliament, but that should not be a problem. This will also solve the problem of claims and counter-claims over the UT by Punjab and Haryana once for all.

The Governor of Punjab and Haryana may function alternately as Governor of the UT or it may have its own Governor or a Lt Governor. The Chief Minister and the Cabinet will then be easily accessible, being accountable to the people of the city.

— SS Savant, Wing Commander (Retd), Chandigarh

Post downgraded

The Governor, being Constitutional head of the state, has definite functions, and has always been regarded as high dignitary. As many a time, he is required to make independent judgements on the performance of the executives and Chief Ministers. But in case of UT, this post has been downgraded to the level of a Commissioner.

During days of terrorism, to ensure proper coordination between Punjab and the UT, a special function of the Governor was proper protection of the residents of UT, which, since then, has been diluted to a negligible level. The Governor, as Administrator, was never considered of getting powers on infrastructure-development projects, delicated to the bureaucracy under a Financial Commissioner or a Chief Commissioner, for more than 20 years since the terrorist activities in Punjab have almost been nullified. Governor of any state has neither needed administrative or technical support under him nor they are accustomed to plan and execute projects related to development, upkeep of services like water supply, drainage, roads, public health or public transport.

In case of the city, the adviser is the officer who heads the administrative and technical set-up, but his powers have unnecessarily been curtailed and passed onto the Governor. The controversy between Administrator and Adviser is totally uncalled for. The onus in the present case lies on the Administrator, who should have kept his team administering the UT in high spirit and should have encouraged proper teamwork.

Some clever politicians and other people with their vested interests, like builders and businessmen, have racked up the controversy, in which the sufferer are both, the Administrator and the Adviser as the Adviser, by raising such issues in challenging the authority of Administrator, has given undesirable opportunity to exploit their status. He has gained no positive point for himself as well. Finally, the solution to the problem lies by taking a decision to restore the prestige of the Administrator to the level of the Governor, and will be made as Constitutional head of the UT. Otherwise, the post of the Adviser should be upgraded to the post of the Chief Commissioner, who should be either directly under the control of the Home Ministry of the Central government or may have constitutional head in Governor of Punjab. If the Constitution does not permit so, then it may be amended.

— Surjit Singh Bola, President, Resident Welfare Association, Sector 30

To be continued

MP as Administrator

Many political parties and welfare associations have rightly pointed out that the Governor of Punjab should not be given additional responsibility of the UT Administrator. The Governor, being the head of the state, cannot fully concentrate on the problems of the UT.

But also on the other hand, Governor is a political post and have good influence on the Central government, whereas Chief Commissioner will be a bureaucratic post and his voice cannot be heard easily on the level of the Parliament or the Central government. It will be very difficult for Chief Commissioner to get the work done speedily government.

It will be better if the Member of Parliament from the UT constituency is appointed as Administrator. Since an MP is elected by the people, he will have a sense of devotion and responsibility towards them. He can take due care towards the problems of the UT.

—Rajendra Kumar Sharma, House No.1178-A, Sector 15, Panchkula

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