C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Chandigarh resident among 4 killed in accidents
Our Correspondent

The mangled remains of the car that rammed into a truck and a bus on the GT road near Rajpura on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Rajpura, February 8
Four persons were killed and four others received serious injuries in two different accidents here this morning. The dead were identified as Chandigarh resident Amaninder Singh and his driver Jasvir Singh, who were in a car and met with an accident at Gagan Chowk.

Two bus passengers Gurcharan Singh of Allimajra village and Ashok Kumar of Muzaffarpur were also killed in this mishap.

While Amaninder Singh was on his way from Chandigarh to Bathinda with his mother and sister, the bus passengers were going towards Ambala from Sirhind in a private bus.

The injured passengers of bus were identified as Jaswnat Singh of Allimajra village, Jatinderpal Singh of Khanna, Ram Parkash of Kurukshetra and Gurmeet Singh, a resident of Rajpura.

In another accident that took place near the Rajpura flyover last night, Darshan Singh, a factory worker of Jansuya village, was killed when his bicycle was hit by an unidentified vehicle.

The injured bus passengers were rushed to the GMCH-32 and the PGI, Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, family members of Amaninder Singh told TNS that his father is an army officer deployed in West Bengal. The family was residing in Sector 38 for the past few years and hails from a village in Kapurthala.

The car they were travelling in got sandwiched between the speeding truck and a bus-which was wrongly parked on the roadside at Gagan Chowk.

The mother of the deceased, Patwant Kaur, and his sister, Ramandeep Kaur, are undergoing treatment at the PGI with serious injuries.

The onlookers said that the traffic lights installed on the chowk were not functioning due to which the car came in contact with the truck and bus.

It was a narrow escape for around 20 passengers and other people who were standing on the other side of the bus.

According to the family member of Amaninder, their family left for Bathinda to attend a religious ceremony in an Indica car. Amaninder was initially reluctant to go with the family but later on agreed.

A case has been registered at the Rajpura police station.

The bodies had been handed over to the relatives of the victims after post-mortem at the civil hospital.



Cops deployed to look for SHO's lost dog
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Banur, February 8
Even as the common man has to run from pillar to post to get an FIR registered, many investigators are hunting for the lost dog of the SHO of Banur without registering an FIR or a formal complaint.

SHO Jagbir Singh has left no stone unturned to locate his canine and even floated an advertisement in a local cable TV network. The dog has been missing for the past four days and was last seen in the police station.

Area residents were surprised when they saw this information flashed on a local cable television.

Cops deployed in the police station said they had been working at night also to trace the dog and take the help of the area residents as well. We have got an entirely new “investigative matter” in our hands these days. Almost all cops are busy locating the dog of the SHO these days, the cops said.

Sources said the black Labrador, named Caesar, had won a few prizes at various competitions held in Chandigarh and other places in Punjab. Interestingly, police officials were mum when questioned about the registration of an FIR in this connection.

Sources said no FIR had been lodged at the police station but the entire police force of the police station had been directed to find the lost canine as soon as possible.

The dog is six-year-old and trained for checking security by his master. Banur SHO Jagbir Singh agreed that he had given his lost dog's information on a cable network, but argued that this does not call for a piece of news. He threatened that if you decide for this news-item on your own, next time I would decide about your news stories.



No extension to Dr SK Bhandari
GMSH-16 joint MS may try for re-employment
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The move for granting three months’ extension to Dr SK Bhandari, joint medical superintendent at Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, has finally come to an end as the UT Administrator, Gen SF Rodrigues (Retd), has approved his superannuation on scheduled date.

Dr Bhandari is scheduled to retire on April 30.

It may be recalled that The Tribune had earlier reported the move, initiated by the UT health department, for seeking an extension for Bhandari. The proposal had sought an extension, even, though the rules do not permit the same, on grounds that Bhandari’s services were required since he was involved in a major project on cardio vascular disease (CVD) underway at the PGI.

According to sources, the UT Administrator, while approving Bhandari’s retirement, has appreciated his services. However, he has not considered the recommendation of the director, health service, MS Bains, who had initiated the proposal for the extension.

The UT health secretary, Ram Niwas, confirmed that Dr Bhandari would retire as scheduled.

As per notification, the UT follows the Punjab Service Rules, which have no provision for extensions. However, the rules do permit re-employment, but that is done only after the retirement of the incumbent. Extensions can only be granted by the Union government, but that too, in “exceptional cases”. Sources said since there was nothing “exceptional” in Dr Bhandari’s case, the file was not even sent to the ministry.

Sources said the health department had so far received no communication from Administrator’s office. The file had been “down marked” and should be reaching the health department soon, sources claimed.

Meanwhile, speculations are that Dr Bhandari may now try for re-employment since he is reportedly keen to continue. He reportedly has the backing of a certain powerful lobby, which earlier too sided with him while ousting the then medical superintendent (MS), Usha Bishnoi. He was given full powers of the MS in July, 2008, and since then has been officiating as on the post.



Rs 25 dream meal still a dream
Hic, hic ... not hurray!

Archit Watts

Chandigarh, February 8
It’s been over a year, but the Rs 25 “dream” meal promised to Bacchus lovers in the city’s taverns still remains elusive. In August 2007, the UT excise department had issued mandatory guidelines to all tavern licencees to provide meal (dal and four chapattis) at a subsidised rate of Rs 25, but no one seems to be following the directive. Visitors are shelling out Rs 66 (Rs 50 for a plate of dal and Rs 4 per chapatti) instead of the promised Rs 25.

“I would like to have such a cheap meal, but wasn’t aware of this directive,” says Ashok, a salesman who regularly visits a tavern in Sector 30.

Ram Kumar, a guard, expressed similar views, saying that he was spending almost Rs 50 for dinner every night.

According to the excise policy of 2008-09, some mandatory conditions, including subsidised meal, were imposed on the taverns for improving their functioning and ambience. These were termed “tavern” instead of “ahata” and had to comply with the conditions laid down under the Punjab Restaurant (Consumption of Liquor) Rules 1955.

A “defiant” tavern owner in Sector 39 said, “The directive is meaningless. Who eats dal and chapatti after dinner? Bhajji eithe taan log murga khande hai (people eat chicken here).”

Another tavern owner in Sector 44 said he was not aware of any mandatory condition for providing meal at a subsidised rate.

Confirming that the meal was “mandatory” at all taverns, UT Additional Deputy Commissioner, Inderjit Singh Sandhu, said: “If anyone is violating norms, we will take strict action and impose penalty.”

Additional Excise Commissioner Manjit Singh Brar claimed that they had been regularly issuing challans for such violations and were soon going to launch a special drive to check taverns.



Fiza gives 5 more days to Chand
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 8
Anuradha Bali (now Fiza), wife of former Haryana Deputy Chief Minister Chand Mohammad, today extended the time limit by four or five days of the ultimatum she gave to her “missing” husband to make his stand clear on their matrimonial status, failing which legal action will be taken against him.

''I have extended the ultimatum by another four-five days,'' she said after the expiry of the 48-hour ultimatum today.

I have taken this decision after getting a call on my mobile,'' she told mediapersons at her Sector 48 residence here.

But she refused to disclose the name of the person who called up.

Fiza had earlier given the 48-hour notice through the media to Chand Mohammad, who had been missing from his house since January 28, to ''make everything clear'' or face action.

She said she would take the strict action if this second ultimatum was ignored.

''I am a qualified woman and if he can betray me then I can imagine what he will do with others,'' she added.

On the occasion, the Punjab unit of the Shiv Sena Hindustan announced to stage a dharna in front of the residence of Bhajan Lal and Chander Mohan in support of Fiza.



PGI OPD closed today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The OPD of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Research (PGI) will remain closed on Monday on account of Guru Ravidas Jayanti.

However, according to a PGI spokesperson, the emergency services would remain functional as usual.



Mega Projects
UT officials may land in legal trouble
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Controversial mega projects continue to be the nightmare for the Chandigarh Administration. Close on the heels of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) starting an inquiry into these projects, an application has been moved in the Punjab and Haryana High Court for initiating the contempt of court proceedings against senior functionaries of the Chandigarh Administration.

The application, sent by Jyoti Subramanian, a resident of Daria here, to the Chief Justice of the high court claimed that the press note and advertisement issued by the Chandigarh Administration had wrongly attributed "indulgence and approval" of the high court in the controversial mega projects.

Such an action apparently tended to scandalise the court and lower its dignity, the application claimed.

A spate of media reports based on information sought through the RTI by citizen groups pointed out several irregularities in the mega projects recently.

Apparently to ward off criticism, the administration issued a press note on December 27 and an advertisement (public notice) in various newspaperson on December 28 last year defending the mega projects.

The press note claimed, “The basic theme underlying all these has been to ensure that all procedures mandated by the law are meticulously followed and no external influence is allowed on the projects.

There has also been a number of instances when the projects were subjected to judicial scrutiny even at the level of high court and given the go ahead."

The advertisement, which appeared in certain newspapers on December 29 administration again claimed that “every single planning parameter has been followed meticulously and, in some cases, where the project has been taken to the courts, it is only after the court's approval that the case is progressed."

That in both the cases an erroneous impression has been given to the general public, investigation agencies and others that the projects facing allegation of corruption and irregularities have been approved and scrutinised by the high court, the petition asserted.

"That such statements are false and erroneous, as in no case ever did the high court approve the projects and scrutinised any of the details, as countered by the administration, while making reference to the allegations of irregularities and corruption in the media," Subramanian claimed.

However, the application has not been moved in the contempt of court format under Section 15 of the Contempt of Courts Act 1971 since the administration does not have any Advocate-General or law officer, especially notified for the purpose, as defined in Section 15 of the Act.

The consent of the Advocate-General or law officer is necessary for bringing the contempt of court petition before the high court.



Humbug all, believe it or not!
Raveen Thukral

I must confess that in my bid to sometimes add optimism in my columns, even when things around us are unmistakably going from bad to worse, I often use the word "seem" to avoid a categorical statement. For instance in my column, "We and are law enforcers" (Dec 22, 08), I wrote, "I don't want to sound cynical but it seems that human life comes cheap in our country".

In my 22 years in journalism I have seen ample human tragedies, both natural and manmade - the ones perpetrated in form of riots and bomb blasts (from UP to Gujarat)- and also witnessed the reaction of our governments to it. And I can say with conviction that human life is indeed cheap in our country, especially for those who have been entrusted with the task of making it safe and sound (read the government).

Artistes perform at the National Folk Dance Festival in Mohali. A Tribune photograph

The manner in which governments and its functionaries, be it the top bureaucrats or the other officials, react to loss of human lives here is nothing but frustrating. The recent death of six infants in a fire in Rajindra Hospital in Patiala and the events that have followed are a perfect example of how human tragedies are trivialised in a rather ridiculous and comical manner.

Let's first take a look at the incident and then assess the government's reaction to it.

Ten babies, five to 10 days young (can't call them old by any stretch of imagination) are kept in an incubator in the neonatology unit of the hospital where there are no attendants or nurses to take care of them. A fire breaks out in the wee hours of the morning and even then there is no response from the hospital staff.

No nurses rush to the help of the infants and it's left to the relatives of some admitted patients to save the babies. But for these good Samaritans all the 10 babies would have been charred to death.

The administration then goes into an overdrive, willy-nilly exposing how directionless it really is. The Divisional Commissioner orders a magisterial inquiry, the Director Research and Medical Education (DRME) also conducts a probe and then the Chief Minister orders a judicial probe.

Three inquiries - a magisterial, a departmental and a judicial- simultaneously commence. But before that the DRME suspends four people - Dr Jaswinderpal Kaur Shergill, principal of the Government Medical College, a junior resident Neha Sharma, staff nurse, Reeta Singh and safai sewak, Satya - ostensibly for negligence. Incidentally, at the time of the incident Dr Shergill was away to Amritsar without proper station leave.

While all this was going on, Punjab's Minister for Health Education, Tikshan Sood, made, as it now turns out, a futile bid to take a high moral ground by submitting his resignation. The resignation was submitted not to the Chief Minister but senior BJP leader, Balbir Punj.

As was expected, the Chief Minister refused to accept the resignation saying that the minister was not at fault. If Sood is really serious and feels morally responsible for the death of these children and also the poor state of the hospitals in Punjab, even when he isn't the health minister (the portfolio is held by his party colleague) he should stick to his stand and insist on his resignation.

Anyways, as if this drama and the directionless handling of the situation wasn't enough, the government, within five days of the incident, revoked the suspension of the Dr Shergill and the others. This was nothing less than a bolt from the blue for the parents of the dead children and all right thinking people who expect the government to act logically and sternly in such cases of gross negligence.

As reports reveal, a preliminary inquiry into the incident suggests that the mishap apparently occurred due to short circuiting. If that is really the case, the government has till date not taken action against anyone concerned with the upkeep of the hospital. No action has been taken against the Medical Superintendent who is directly responsible for the maintenance and the proper working of the hospital.

If counter allegations by the staff that proposals for renovation, rewiring and upgradation of the unit are pending with the babus in the secretariat are correct then it's a real reflection on the importance they give to human lives. The poor state of the hospitals in Punjab is well known and one wonders how the government is able to manipulate the Medical Council, which has off and on threatened to derecognise them.

It is sad that instead of setting things right, the main actors in this sordid drama - the now reinstated are Dr Shergill and the DRME, Dr Jagdish Gargi- are indulging into mudslinging. The former has questioned the DRME's action on grounds that he himself is involved in the infamous Kidney scam and is out on bail.

All this really shows that there is not even an iota of discipline and accountability and everything is in a state of perfect mess. And to top it all the government's actions so far exude no confidence about its seriousness to get to the bottom of this mess.

So the question is that if the MS is not responsible; if the principal is not responsible; if the doctors are not responsible; if the nurses are not responsible; if the attendants are not responsible; if the minister is not responsible then who the hell is prima facia responsible for the death of these six children? Should one take it that it was just an act of god?

A disgusting situation! I doubt if we will ever really know the truth as whatever has happened till now is nothing but a classic case of eyewash.

Write to cityeditor@tribunemail.com



Folk Dance Fest
Colours of cultural diversity come alive
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 8
The colour and vibrancy of the country’s varied cultural heritage came alive at the National Folk Dance Festival which entertained audience for the second day here last evening.

The folk dances underlined the spirit of unity in a cultural diversity of our country. Each folk dance presented was connected in a unique way to the people of the region concerned. The themes were related to celebration of good harvest season, worshipping gods, celebrating different festivals and seasons, tributes to nature, etc.

Among the items presented were Bardoi Shikla (Assam), Angi Gair (Rajasthan), Lai Haraoba (Manipur), Kud (Jammu and Kashmir), Tamang Selo (Sikkim), Zebro (Ladakh), Phag (Haryana), Bhangra (Punjab), Mer Raas (Gujarat), Gorwara Kunitha (Karnataka), Ghumura (Orissa), Dhol Dholak Cholom (Manipur).

The Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in association with seven zonal cultural centres, organised the dance festival which was choreographed by Bhanu Bharti, a theatre artiste.



‘Cooperatives an antidote to recession’
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
The worldwide cooperative movement could be the bulwark for a recession-hit capitalist economy as good business practices in cooperatives have cushioned their members from the present global economic meltdown. This was stated by Ivano Berberini, president, International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), who is here to attend a national conference on “Revival of Rural Cooperative Credit Structure” starting tomorrow. Cooperative members worldwide had been largely cushioned from the effects of the current recession because cooperative institutions were not involved in speculative practices, he said.

Ivano Berberini, president, International Cooperative Alliance.
Ivano Berberini, president, International Cooperative Alliance.

“In fact, cooperative banks have been on a growth during recession as people have expressed faith in them for the same reason,” Berberini said during an interaction today. He said cooperatives worldwide, however, would have to innovate to keep up in a recession-hit economy and suggested that increasing sizes through coalitions, as well as further strengthening relationships with members, could be ways out of the present rough patch.

The ICA chief, who is from Italy where also land holdings are fragmented like Punjab, had a message for the state. He said the cooperative movement in Punjab also needed to expand into marketing of produce of farmers. He said in Italy cooperatives in the agriculture sector had established processing companies for wine, milk, meat and fruit.

“The cooperatives are leaders in this field and account for seven per cent of the country’s gross domestic production (GDP). In Italy, cooperative bodies have 90 lakh members and account for 1.6 lakh employees,” Berberini said. Globally cooperatives employ about 100 million people and there are 800 million cooperative members aligned with the ICA in 85 countries, he added.

However, the cooperative movement need not be limited to agriculture even though they account for 50 per cent of the agricultural production of the world, according to Berberini. “We have a number of social cooperatives in Italy which includes cooperatives of women who assist disadvantaged people as well as those providing child care. Similarly, there are cooperatives for the mentally ill and even those who suffer from depression”. He said similarly cooperatives helped in managing affairs in the big cities with municipalities outsourcing various services to cooperative bodies.

The ICA chief said as far as India was concerned, the cooperative movement was growing steadily in the country. He said to make it more strong, policy makers should give due recognition to cooperatives and establish partnerships with them to protect the economically vulnerable population and minimise the impact of the global economic meltdown at the grass-root level.



Tricity civic bodies join hands for residents’ welfare
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 8
The heads of civic bodies of the tricity have decided to join hands in an effort to come over the problems where the interests of the residents are shared. To take a note on the current situation and the problems seem to come across the residents of the region, the Mayor of Chandigarh will held a meeting with her counterparts at Panchkula and Mohali tomorrow.

According to Kamlesh, the Mayor of Chandigarh, the city, Panchkula and Mohali have several issues to share where better facilities could be provided to the residents by better coordination. While drinking water problem remained a big issue for the people, many other petty matters were to be settled, she said.

Despite the fact that Chandigarh did not feel shortage of drinking water after the completion of four phases of Kajauli water works, the problem could not be underestimated for the requirements in future, she said. So the new resources had to be looked for this and setting up of Ganguwal project could be a major achievement for Mohali and Chandigarh, said the Mayor. Ganguwal project could not be taken up for the last more than one decade due to one or the other reasons. The issue of Panchkula’s share in water from Kajauli was likely to be discussed as the Panchkula Municipal Council could not make use of its share of 1.5 mgd due to no water pipeline laid by it, said Ravinder Rawal, president of the Municipal Council, Panchkula.

Now, after the army authorities have started laying pipeline for the requirements in Chandimandir, the Panchkula civic body is looking forward to take advantage of it in near future by extending it to the remaining part of the town. The town, with a population of more than 2.2 lakh, is being supplied with drinking water from its seven boosting stations, along with around 135 tube-wells at different places.

Though construction of dam at Kaushalya River near Pinjore had been started in April last year, the water from it will not reach before the next year.



Organ donation possible after cardiac arrest: Doc
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Contrary to the general perception that organ donation is possible only after brain death, PGI doctors stressed the fact that its possible to take out the organs even after the cardiac arrest.

Dr Ashish Sharma, PGI, said, “Once a person is dead, organs can be transplant within half an hour of cardiac arrest.” He revealed that tissues such as cornea, bone and cartilage and eye could be removed within half an hour of cardiac arrest.

He said this type of donation did not allow for organs other than liver and kidneys. This is because lungs, pancreas and intestine cannot tolerate being without blood flow, even during the short time between the cardiac arrest and the surgical procedure. However, in brain dead cases, 37 organs, bones and tissues can be harvested.

As per figure available with the PGI, there were two cases of organ donation after cardiac death and 10 after brain dead has been reported for past 10 years.

However, organ donation after cardiac arrest was used exclusively in the beginning before brain death criteria was established, but due to unawareness among public, this cannot be picked up.

According to experts, organ donation after cardiac arrest can be possible when a patient has an illness from which he or she cannot recover, and the patient is being kept alive by artificial means, including ventilators and supportive drugs. Once the family makes the decision to withdraw artificial support, the option to donate organs after cardiac death is possible.



Don’t take organs to heaven: Pak doctor
Amit Khanna

Prof KK Talwar honours Dr Syed Hasan Rizvi. A Tribune photograph

CHANDIGARH: “Don’t take your organs with you to heaven, for God knows we need them more here.”

This was said by Dr Syed Hasan Rizvi. The Ramon Magsaysay Award winner professor from Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation, Karachi, was in the city to attend a symposium on the promotion of deceased organ donation organised by the PGI. Prof KK Talwar, director of the PGI honoured him on the occasion.

More than one lakh new patients are diagnosed with last stage of kidney disease in the India and Pakistan every year. A majority of these patients succumb to the disease, either because of not being able to afford treatment or due to lack of donors. “The organs are a community resource and must be used for saving the life of others. The lack of awareness about the organ donation is proving fatal for many patients in the region. The developed countries have a well-developed organ donation programme to cater to the needs of their citizens, which has failed to take off in a significant manner in our region, except in selected pockets. Awareness campaigns must be launched to disseminate the information regarding this,” he added.

Lamenting on the apathy of the governments towards the donation, he said commercialisation of the organ trade was killing deceased donor and transplantation programmes. “Commercialisation has severely dented the trust of the donors. Moreover, it has taken transplantation out of the reach of poor,” he further said.



Coaching centres fail on fire safety
Sumedha Sharma

Tribune News Service

A student makes his way through a narrow staircase in a coaching centre at Sector 32 in Chandigarh. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, February 8
When it comes to comply with mandatory fire safety norms, the city coaching centres, which otherwise promise 100 per cent success at any exam, seem to have failed badly.

Leave aside the requisites like detector or sprinklers, a random survey by The Tribune revealed that in most of the cases, a narrow staircase lead to dingy classrooms that house from 70 to 80 students in a single shift and thus evacuation in case of fire seems to be nearly impossible. The unauthorised temporary glass enclosures and plywood divisions make matter worse.

While evidently evacuation remains a major problem, many like the authorities of PT Education Centre, Sector 32, consider stairs leading to terrace as an alternate exit. “We have an alternate exit, the stairs leading to our terrace. If there is a sudden fire, students can go there to escape,” said Karnal Ghai, regional co-ordinator of the centre.

Most of the centres’ owners, however, blame it on the system itself or land owners.

“Every building in the city is made this way only, and none has provision of alternate stair case that can act as an exit in case of emergency. Though it is the responsibility of the landlords, who are generally least bothered, still we have done our best. We had a small incident few years back, following which we installed detectors and fire extinguishers,” said Hridesh Madan, regional head of Bulls Eye, Sector 8.

However, the administration claims to be helpless about the design as according to a senior official, “What can we do? Security norms came up at a very late stage and owners of these SCOs procured occupation certificates before the implementation of the bylaws.”

PK Sharma, officiating chief fire officer however promised that things will change very soon. “We have already started inspecting and giving directives. We will also notify the defaulters and make sure they abide by law,” he said.



MC Fire Wing
Confusion over status of staff on deputation
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Confusion prevails in the MC over the status of those employees who have come from the administration on deputation.

According to a notification issued by the UT administration, until the time these employees are merged with the corporation, their status remains that of foreign service.

A few years ago, the administration employees who chose the corporation after being asked about their options were absorbed. However, the fate of those who first opted to return to the administration and later approached the CAT still hangs in balance.

As per another notification of the administration in 2007, till the time a decision is taken in the matter, they must be treated on foreign service in the corporation. Employees of fire services also fall in this category. Though the fire wing was transferred to the corporation, it has not been yet merged with it. Consequently, no proposal has ever been made even for absorbing these employees.

According to official sources, even these employees were asked to tell their option between the corporation and the UT and all reportedly expressed to return to the UT. Their fate also remains undecided. Though public representatives in the corporation have been asking for more powers, rights and departments under the 74th amendment, nobody has ever put forth the demand of merging the Chandigarh fire services with the corporation.

To top it all, there is an additional burden of 12 employees from the Chandigarh State Agriculture Marketing Board on the fire services. Though out of these only nine are left, every month lakhs of rupees are spent on disbursing their salary.

They are also given promotions by reportedly neglecting competent employees of the corporation by bypassing the rules.

The rules also state that till the time the fire wing is merged with the corporation, the empty posts should be filled by the feeder cadre. Also, the department ignoring its own employees has given the post of a station fire officer to an employee of the marketing board. The officials also refused to give the same post to another employee of the board on the grounds that he was the employee of the marketing board and not fire wing.

While the corporation rules clearly state that whenever the four posts of station fire officers fall vacant, they are to be filled from feeder cadre, only one post is held by corporation officer while the charge for remaining two has been given to leading fire men after making them sub-fire officer. The MC’s law officer said till the decision came from the CAT, nothing could be done about employees from the UT.

He confirmed that the fire wing’s employees also came under the same category and the vacant posts in the fire wing should be filled only by the feeder category.



Repeated thefts of BSNL cables
Officials accuse police of inaction
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 8
Cable thieves are striking at will to steal cables from the BSNL at ducts in the city.

As the BSNL is losing several lakh of rupees in theft and then restoration of the cables, the thieves have been repeatedly stealing the cables from the same points in the town. The BSNL officials accuse the local police of doing little in tracking down the thieves.

An analysis of the cases of thefts in 2007 and 2008 reveal that the cable thieves have been removing the cable from nine different selective locations in the town and its peripheral areas. The end result has been that hundreds of telephone connections remain out of order for days together.

A location near Commando Complex in Phase XI has witnessed at least seven incidents of theft in three months.

The BSNL spent rupees in lakhs on repairing the cable. Similarly, the telecom network in Hoshiarpur village and Mullanpur village, five cases of theft were reported to the police.

Other chosen locations have been a duct opposite to the district courts in Phase III-B2, a duct in Phase VI and a duct in Phase VII, adjoining to the Chawla nursing home. Of the total 50 thefts reported to the police in 2007 and 2008, over Rs 11 lakh were spent on repairing the stolen cable sections.

In some of the major thefts, the department had to spend Rs 1.75 lakh on restoring a cable that was stolen near Madanpura chowk in June 2008, Rs 1.50 lakh on cable stolen from near the HDFC bank in Phase VII and Rs 1 lakh on a cable theft near district courts in Phase III-B2 here.

“The cops can easily solve the cases of cable thefts as the destination of the copper, removed from the cables, can be easily tracked down by the police,” said a BSNL official, on the condition of anonymity.

Another reason for the failure to check the theft was inability of the BSNL officials in taking practical steps in sealing the ducts. Several plans were made to make the ducts inaccessible to the thieves. But it has never materialised.

Sealing of the ducts, high-tech alarm systems to ward off cable thieves and guards to check the thefts have failed to make any impact. “Whenever there is any fault in the underground network, the cable in the duct was never removed and instead earth was dug out to undertake the repair.

The ducts should be filled with earth,” said sources.



Demands of technicians met: PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Even as PGI medical technologists seem adamant and are all set to strike work for two hours on February 10 and 16, the hospital authorities claim that all “genuine” demands of the agitating technicians had been met.

According to a press release issued by the PGI administration today, while most demands of the technologists had been “settled” during the last four years, whatever were left were on account of want of approvals from the ministry of health. The authorities claimed that the same were being pursued at appropriate levels.

Referring to the long-pending demand of the technologists for the constitution of committee regarding the grievances for Sixth Central Pay Commission, PGI acting deputy director, administration, Ritu Dhillon, said the health ministry had given nod to forming a joint pay anomaly committee for the PGI and AIIMS. However, the Sixth pay commission has given one-year time for resolving the pay anomalies matter.

“The notification of the constitution of the committee is under process in the ministry,” said Dhillon, Acting deputy director administration, PGI. Moreover, their demand to fill the senior technician and technical assistant of laboratory and X-ray cadre posts have also been fulfilled in the month of January this year.

Referring to the demand of the recruitment process of junior technicians, she said the process was underway and the application had been received for 46 posts of junior lab technicians.

On the demand of cadre review anomaly committee, she said, the matter had discussed before the governing body meeting last year on December 3, but the governing body members observed that the consultation with the ministry was yet to be done.



BPCL fails to bring down premium fuel price
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Despite the global crude prices having hit a record low, the state-run oil marketing company — Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) — has failed to bring down the price of their premium fuels. Though the price of the normal fuel (both petrol and diesel) was reduced on January 29, the oil marketing company has failed to bring down the price of its premium fuels.

It may be noted that other state-run oil companies — Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) — had reduced the price of their premium petrol and diesel by Rs 5 and Rs 2 per litre, respectively, after the prices of the normal fuel were slashed.

Though most of the oil marketing companies try and maintain a price differential of Rs 3 per litre between normal and premium petrol and Rs 1.50-Rs 2 per litre in normal and premium diesel, the difference in normal petrol and Speed (BPCL’s premium petrol) now is almost Rs 5 per litre and for diesel is Rs 2.29 per litre. As against a price of Rs 40.51 per litre (in Chandigarh) of normal petrol, Speed is available for Rs 45.30, and as against Rs 30.75 for diesel, Hi-Speed diesel is available for Rs 33 per litre.

With the rising consumption of these fuels, the oil marketing companies have been able to bring down on their losses incurred by selling subsidised normal fuels, kerosene oil and LPG.

A senior official with BPCL, when contacted, said they had not reduced the price of premium products as of now. “But we are thinking of bringing down the rates soon,” he said.



Valentine Celebrations
‘Culture cannot be held to ransom’
Amit Khanna

Chandigarh, February 8
Culture is an ever-evolving phenomenon and cannot be held to ransom by the whims and fancies of a select few.

The recent attempt by Bapu Asaram and his followers to advise young couples of the city to shun western culture by not celebrating Valentine’s Day has evoked strong reactions across various sections of society.

“I have been planning for that day for a long time now and would not let anybody spoil it. Moreover, it should be left to me to decide what is good or bad for me,” said Abhinav, a college student.

“Valentine’s Day is a romantic way of celebrating love. It’s like we celebrate Father’s Day or Mother’s Day. These people just do it to ensure cheap publicity,” says Payal Sabu, a city designer.

“Valentine Day is celebrated as a day to give gifts as a token of affection to the ones we love. We should not shun it on the pretext that it is Western,” says Archna Choudhary, a city-based architect.

“Who are they to decide for us what should we do and how? This self- assumed role of moral police by one group and another is a disturbing trend. These fringe elements should be taught a lesson,” feels Jayata Chopra, a teacher by profession.



Insurance training centre in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
IFFCO-TOKIO general insurance has opened the first Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA)-accredited Agents Training Centre at their Chandigarh office. This is the first in-house training centre opened by any private General Insurer in the country.

The training centre was inaugurated by KS Palne, additional registrar, cooperatives, Punjab, here yesterday. Atul Bhardwaj, chief manager, IFFCO-TOKIO, Gurgaon, said the idea behind the institute was to improve the quality of training and consequently the quality of agents and work force engaged in the business of insurance.

The main thrust of the training centre would be to identify good potential persons from the rural masses in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal, apart from Chandigarh, and then impart training to them in various rural and other products offered by the company.

Palne said the company had already been offering many products meant for rural masses, especially through the cooperatives, and now with the opening of this training centre at Chandigarh, it would be ensured that the products offered by the company were made to reach the interiors of the rural areas of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal.



Senior citizens celebrate Basant Utsav
SD Sharma

Panchkula, February 8
Festive folk dances and bonanza of folk songs, old classics and ghazals marked the celebration of Basant Utsav by the Senior Citizens’ Council at the Council Hall here today.

Artistes of the council and Saraswati Kala Sangam teamed up to provide a meaningful entertainment at a largely attended function.

The programme of Basant scheduled for January 31 was postponed due to the sudden demise of R Venktaraman, former President of India.

The programme commenced with an invocatory Saraswati Vandana by disciples of Reema Nritylaya who also performed in a group dance later.

By coincidence young vocalists, including medical professionals, namely Dr Pradeep Bhardwaj, Dr Betti and Prof Rajni Bhalla, presented old classics while elder participants like Achla Dingle, Satinder Trikha, SD Sharma, BS Thakur and poet Gurbax Saini captured the romantic fervour in their performance. Col Ahluwalia too rendered a composition based on raga malkauns.



Sector 80 Sub-station
Relocation to hit industry hard: Assn
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 8
Shortage of power has become a permanent feature for the industrial units here during the past two years and industry may face another setback if the commissioning of the Sector 80 grid substation was deferred again, said president of the Mohali Industries Association BS Anand here.

He said members of the association were apprehensive that transformers brought for the Sector 80 substation might be sent to Amritsar area shortly, even though Cooperation Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh had given an assurance that transformers of the local substation would not be diverted to any other area.

He said the chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board had given in writing that the Sector 80 substation would be commissioned by February 28. “We have also written to the Punjab Chief Minister and the Industries and Commerce Minister to save the industry,” added Anand.

He said the foundation stone of the project was laid nearly three years ago, but the transformer of the power substation had been relocated to other places. The grid was about to become functional within this month and people were hoping that uninterrupted power supply would be available to the industries in Mohali.



Hike in conveyance deeds’ registration rate irks residents
Tribune News Service

Members of the Joint Action Committee stage dharna outside the GMADA office in Mohali on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, February 8
Members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) today sat on relay fast outside the office of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) in Sector 68 here to protest against the hike in the rates for registration of conveyance deeds of plots in Mohali.

Under the banner of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of all Residents Welfare Associations of Mohali, residents have launched a mass public protest against the “arbitrary” decision to register the conveyance deeds of plots at the prevailing collector rates instead of their actual allotment price.

The joint action committee has now announced to sit on the relay fast.

Citing the system being followed in Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and other neighbouring states, where conveyance deeds of plots are registered at the actual allotment price, the JAC urged the state government to follow the states.



Two accident victims succumb to injuries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Two victims of separate road accidents today succumbed to their injuries in Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital, here.

According to the police one of the victims, Makhan Singh, a scooterist from Sector 40 was admitted to the hospital on February 4 after being knocked down by a truck. He was seriously hurt in the mishap. The accident took place on road dividing sector 43 and 44.

In another accident, a pedestrian, 63-year-old Abdul Rahshid, was critically injured after being hit by an unidentified vehicle later on Saturday night. The accident took place at 8:30 pm in front of the Sector 43 ISBT when he was crossing the road. He died during treatment at hospital around 1:30 am.

Two separate cases have been registered.



Close shave for car occupants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
A Mohali-based family had a narrow escape this evening at Traffic Light Points near Centra Mall here when a truck collided with the car they were travelling in and dragged it to a distance.

According to eyewitnesses, the truck driver did not stop his vehicle and kept on driving, dragging the Maruti car (CH-03-W-6926). The family kept on crying but the driver paid no heed to them. The truck (PB-05-N-5247) was ultimately stopped when a man, Kawaljit, of Phase X, Mohali, travelling in the car, managed to come out of it and climbed on the truck forcing the driver to stop the vehicle.

Both car and the truck were coming from Transport Lights Point and heading towards Tribune Chowk.

The police reached the spot and took truck driver Gurtej Singh of Bathinda into custody. He was looked to be high on drugs and was taken for medical examination, said a police officer.

The police was investigating the case till the filing of the report.



Three pillars of democracy should work in harmony

This is with reference to the article “Why speedy justice not a rule?" written by Raveen Thukral published in Chandigarh Tribune on February 2.

Ground reality as rightly mentioned by the writer is opposite to whatever has happened in the particular case of the German tourist because of pressures from overseas.

It may sound cynical but that is how the courts function in our country; I am sure nobody can improve the lot of common man.

SM Soni, Panchkula


All kudos to the Chandigarh Sessions Court for ordering conviction of all those accused in rape of the German tourist in September last year. The trial which just took over a month from the date of framing of charges against the accused has added one more feather to the cap of our judiciary which had showed a similar rate of acceleration some time back when a couple of such heinous instances came to light in Udaipur and Jodhpur some time back.

But the question, which arises is that why only in case of victims from foreign countries, our courts ensure such a speedy trial? Pertinent to mention that only recently the CrPC has been amended to ensure investigation of the rape cases in three months and trial in two months, but our legal fraternity is up in arms against that. What an irony?

Hemant Kumar, Ambala City


I completely endorse the views for the speedy justice to be taken up seriously by judges.

In case judiciary is serious to give the speedy trial to any type of case, then all three issues highlighted by the writer could be solved.

The judges should follow a systematic procedure while dealing with cases for the speedy trial. Firstly, hearing of the cases should be on the prescribed dates. The judges have to be serious in dealing with the cases and should sit for a longer time to decide on these, which is being heard, instead of starting dealing with the second case.

Roop Sharma


The speedy trial in the German girl rape case has proved that the police does have resources and ability to make a full proof plan against culprits and caught them.

Adarsh Sharma


The writer has justifiably questioned why is there no general rule for getting justice and relief speedily in court cases? The approach to apply this norm in a selective manner has resulted in a huge backlog of pending cases at various levels rather shockingly some cases have been awaiting decisions for more than 20 years. Feeling the agony and plight of the victims of this delay and as a remedial step for finding a solution, now the fast track courts and Lok Adalats are rightly being set up with specific purposes.

However, while undertaking the gigantic exercise of disposing the cases or appeals, caution must be used distinguishing between a speedy justice and a hasty one.

Inadequate strength of judges in our courts is another factor, which is coming in the way of efficient delivery of justice. As a matter of fact in the present context we need lawgivers who can give justice not just law interpreters who give judgment.

Dr IM Joshi, Chandigarh


Justice delayed is not justice delivered. The subject has been discussed many times by leaders, newspaper articles and public debates. Every time a new idea comes as all are really concerned by the number of cases pending and span of time taken in completion of the cases. In many cases the judgments have been delivered after the person had died. I completely believe that if the lawyers and judges start doing the homework properly, the adjournments can be reduced to bare minimum and the number of case will come down. To start with the number of adjournments can be predetermined depending on the nature of case.

I feel that judiciary should be provided with best service conditions and should be expected to deliver only the best.

RK Garg, Chandigarh


In the times when the chief justice himself refuses to make public details of assets of justice, hence refuses transparency, even after a valid order under the RTI Act. Where a judge of the High Court puts under scanner, questions the report of in-house investigation and puts all sorts of queries. Where even cases under negotiable instrument take more than 10 years. Where all three segments legislative, executive and judiciary work in tandem to benefit themselves. By the way, who is working for the speedy justice.

Kumar Gaurav, Chandigarh


Deliverance of judgment in these days too is a touching and current topic to discuss. We are so concerned with the pile of cases and delay in judgments that any case when decided in time gives us a fresh air in the times when late judgments are a way of life. We have ample rules and infrastructure but lack of will power to adopt them to benefit society. Thanks to the Union Public Service Commissions’ young blood is coming for jobs in the field of executive and judiciary. I have no hopes until the government takes drastic steps to increase working days, hours and work culture where politicians, executive and judiciary work together to speed the deliverance of justice. But in the end we still have hopes from judiciary who can dictate terms to both politicians as well as executive and take corrective measures to reduce pending cases by introducing self control.

Keshav Aggarwal


The suggestions to increase working days and working hours has come from many eminent persons, including the former President of India, but all these efforts have been resisted and consigned to dustbins. I suggest that apart from fixing a minimum number of cases per judge and magistrate there should be maximum number of adjournments in criminal cases. The mutual settlement of civil cases should be encouraged. There is a dire need of more courts and all vacancies of judges be filled at an early date. For everything we look towards judiciary as such facilities and reforms should also be prioritised for the judicial sector as well.

Gayan, Chandigarh


The police and judiciary deserve praise for speedy investigation and early judgment in the German tourist rape case within four months. The judgment has been given like a fast track court of Rajasthan.

More than three crore cases are pending in the Indian courts. The cases are delayed due to investigation and justice is not delivered due to lengthy trials, procedure and investigation.

The former President Kalam had given the right suggestion to reduce the pending case. The three wings of constitutional governance, namely legislature, executive and judiciary, should perform their duty for society.

ML Garg, Chandigarh


The writer has rightly said the ordinary courts could work as fast as the track courts. The police is not sincere to investigate the cases in time due to the reasons known to all.

The delivery of justice is delayed by our system, the police, advocates and judicial work.

The three wings of constitutional governance, namely legislature, executive and judiciary, have to work hard for the welfare of society.

Sahil Garg, Chandigarh

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Diplomas given to engineering students
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 8
Punjab Technical University (PAU) conferred its first advanced diploma certificates in industrial engineering and management on the first batch of students enrolled at the Gian Jyoti School of TQM and Entrepreneurship, Mohali.

A total of 76 students of the first batch received their diploma at a function here today.

Sarojini Gautam Sharda, registrar, PTU, Jalandhar, who was the chief guest for the function, lauded the school for its pioneering effort in disseminating application-focussed learning in the field of total quality management (TQM).

Chandra Mohan, chairman of the governing council of the institution, recalled his own experience when he was CMD of the Punjab Tractors and used TQM techniques to bring up the company from zero to blue chip. He called upon the students to make quality a life-long habit.

During the function, awards were also given to students of all semesters, who secured the first three positions in the university exams held in June 2008.



Healthy baby show at Shemrock
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 8
Samarbeer Kang, Saskan Mehta, Asmi Kanwar and Anand Raj Singh were adjudged as "Shemrock Healthy Babies" at a baby show organised at Shemrock School here today.

Tiny tots of the tricity showcased their talent. A splendid display of dressing sense was appreciated amid thumping beats and dazzling lights.

Other winners in different categories were Kamya, Shivesh, Armaan, Aftab Singh, Rajvir Rehani, Gokul Gupta, Sehaj , Meher Jaspal, Miher Badani, Japneet Kaur, Kashish Banga and Harmanpreet.

A ‘Rhyme n Rhythm’ contest

A rhyme n rhythm contest was held for the tiny tots at at Shishu Niketan Public School , Sector - 66 here. In order to make the occasion more festive, the school's tiny tots had earlier been asked to come to the school attired in dresses appropriate for their rhymes along with other gear such as balloons, ribbons.

The activity was highly appreciated by one and all. Ishita, Twina, Gurleen & Palak were declared first, second, third and fourth in the contest respectively and their photographs are attached in that order.



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