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Gurdwara Demolition Bid
Cop nabbed for abetting violence
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The police today arrested Ranbir Singh, a constable, for his involvement in the violent attack on the police and the enforcement staff of the UT during the demolition drive at Gurdwara Santsar Sahib in Sector 38-West on January 30.

The police also said the name of a brother-in-law of Baba Sarup Singh has also emerged during the probe.

The police said the role of the constable had come out during the questioning of Jatinder Singh of Dadu Majra Colony, who was arrested on Tuesday. Jatinder told probing officers that Ranbir had called people to come to the gurdwara on that day and instigated them to attack the enforcement staff.

Sources in the police said the investigators had also seen the constable in the video clippings and he was found present on the scene when a heated debated were going on between the authorities and gurdwara representatives. Ranbir Singh posted in security in Sector 7.

The police said Ranbir was arrested today after strong evidence found against him. He was involved in the entire episode. The role of the baba’s brother-in-law had also emerged in the episode. Meanwhile, Baba Sarup Singh remained elusive and the efforts were on to trace him.

Meanwhile, a delegation of representatives of Santsar Gurdwara met the UT Home Secretary in this connection with the disputed structure. The Home Secretary asked the management committee of the gurdwara to demolish the illegal structure themselves to set an example for the others. 

Gurdwara gets best bhawan award
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Can an illegal erected structure be awarded by any government agency? The answer may be no but the UT seems to have performed this feat.

A testimony to the fact is the results of various competitions for the run-up to the Rose Festival released today by the Department of Public Relations, which has adjudged illegal Gurdwara Santsar Sahib, Sector 38-West in Class H (Open to all) as “Best Bhawan and any other non-government premises maintained” and has awarded Baba Sarup Singh second prize for it.

That’s another matter that the UT’s enforcement wing and the Chandigarh Police are trying to nail the baba for raising the illegal structure, yet it has been showered with the prize.

Officials of the UT administration soon developed cold feet after realising their mistake and even made calls to various newspapers offices claiming that the results, which were sent, were not correct.

Insiders claimed that this was not the first time that the controversial premises had pocketed the award.

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Public Transport 
Rodrigues wants blueprint by April 15 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Advocating the need for institutionalising the inter-state bus service in the region, UT Administrator SF Rodrigues yesterday called for a comprehensive traffic and transportation plan, with focus on integrating public transport system in the area and finding short, medium and the long-term solutions to meet growing needs of the residents.

Presiding over a meeting of the comprehensive mobility plan at UT Secretariat here, Rodrigues emphasised the need for a harmonious plan by Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and the UT to prioritise road development and traffic management schemes for ensuring a hassle-free traffic movement.

The meeting, which was attended by the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, UT adviser and senior officers of the urban development and transport departments of the stakeholder states, agreed in principle to finalise the comprehensive mobility plan based on the study conducted by RITES giving a broad picture of future transportation needs, connectivity to surrounding urban growth centres and integrated transport development plans for Chandigarh, satellite towns of Panchkula and Mohali and other surrounding areas.

Chandigarh’s infrastructure and service sectors, including transport and bus services, are under tremendous pressure of a large number of visitors. It’s, therefore, imperative for evolving a mechanism to integrate public transport operations so that better service could be provided to people of the region, he added.

Pointing out that Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh from their own resources, must ensure the availability of funds, Rodrigues asked RITES to suggest ways and means for giving practical shape to the proposal. He also asked the agency to give a complete blue print of the proposal by April 15 to enable the executing agencies to start the work with provision of periodical validation of the scheme.

He suggested the need to constitute a core group of senior officers of Punjab, Haryana and UT to discuss further details with officials of RITES so that the plan could be finalised. He also told the meeting that the Chandigarh administration had planned underpasses on major roads to ease and regulate traffic.

Punjab Chief Secretary Ramesh Inder Singh and Haryana Chief Secretary Dharamvir agreed in principle to participate in the comprehensive mobility plan. The other senior officers who attended the meeting were Principal Secretary (Transport), Punjab, DS Jaspal, UT Home Secretary Ram Niwas, UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar, UT Deputy Commissioner RK Rao and IGP SK Jain.

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Rodrigues for task force to manage water resources
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The UT Administrator, SF Rodrigues, at a meeting of senior officials of the engineering department and Municipal Corporation, today asked them to set up a task force to immediately tackle the problem of managing water resources, with the focus on water conservation.

He asked this after seeing a presentation given by the department based on a study of storm water drainage in the city.

He emphasised the need of formulating a comprehensive concept plan for rain water harvesting and regulating ground water usage through latest technologies for utilising it in the tertiary water plan and for stabilising the ground water table.

Rodrigues further directed the officials to evolve a responsive mechanism for regularly cleaning up the choes and for the construction of check-dams to convert them into water bodies, which can be of immense help for recharging the ground water.

Rodrigues also asked the department to clean up and develop the rally ground in Sector 25 with proper drainage system and other basic facilities. He also asked to re-model of exhibition grounds with modular structures and stalls in a planned way. He further instructed the officials to re-model the Leisure Valley for holding various functions with provision of good flooring and proper seating plans.

The presentation suggested short and long term measures, which included regular cleaning of natural drainage system, removal of stone pitching from the side of natural drains, maintaining bed level at road bridges, removal of trees on side slopes of natural drains, application of de-silting machinery with latest technology and re-modelling of natural drainage system. 

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Baba dismissed from MC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
More trouble spills for Baba Sarup Singh of Santsar Gurdwara in Sector 38-West as the Municipal Corporation today dismissed the baba, who was the tubewell operator.

Sarup Singh was booked yesterday by the police for abetting the violence at the gurdwara premises on January 30.

The police had slapped Section 114 of the Indian Penal Code against the baba after recording statements of several witnesses and scrutinising the videos of the violence.

Till now, the baba was placed under suspension from February 3, a day after MCC accepted that Baba Sarup Singh was an MCC employee. He was suspended on the basis of a report submitted by ADC IS Sandhu, who was injured on January 30 incident.

Ram Niwas, Home Secretary, Local Government-cum-Home Secretary, said orders had been passed and Sarup Singh had been dismissed from service with immediate effect.

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Assembly official booked for embezzling Rs 4 lakh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Chandigarh police has booked Anil Vij, a research officer, Punjab Legislative Assembly, on charges of embezzling over Rs 4 lakh out of Rs 10 lakh sanctioned for a study tour to Pakistan in 2005. Anil Vij, who had been placed under suspension by the department concerned, was yet to be arrested, said the police.

According to the police, Mandan Mohan, secretary, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, lodged a complaint alleging that Vij, a resident of Phase 3BII, Mohali, had misappropriated with government funds and had been found guilty of the offence in an internal inquiry conducted against him in this connection.

According to the complaint, the Vidhan Sabha had sanctioned Rs 10 lakh for a 12-member team of legislatures to visit Pakistan on a study tour. The state government had given an ad hoc grant to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Associations of India for the tour.

Vij had accompanied the team on the tour as supervisor. The tour was organised from May 21 to 25, 2005.

It has been alleged that out of Rs 10 lakh, Vij deposited Rs 5,65,920 in the CPA account of the Vidhan Sabha, but did not present any records about the rest of the amount (Rs 4,34,080).

The Vidhan Sabha ordered an inquiry into the matter, which was conducted by Darshan Singh Rathore, former additional secretary of the Vidhan Sabha, in which Vij was found guilty. He was given a chance to present receipts and records in his defence, but he failed to do so.

The authorities also reportedly gave a chance to Vij to deposit the amount with the department with 12 per cent interest on the amount from the period it was supposed to be deposited. He again failed to pay back the money.

Vidhan Sabha Speaker took a serious note of the matter and ordered to lodge a police complaint in this connection.

The complaint was lodged with UT SSP SS Srivastva, who forwarded it to the Economic Offences Wing of the Chandigarh police. The police yesterday registered a case under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code in this connection.

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Man clobbers wife to death, surrenders
Was denied money for alcohol
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Infuriated over being refused money for liquor, Sunil Kumar, a resident of Indira Colony in Mani Majra, allegedly bludgeoned his wife to death at his residence late last night.

After committing the crime, Sunil (32) reportedly surrendered before the police claiming that his wife had illicit relations with someone.

According to the police, the victim, Kiran, in her early 30s and a mother of two, was working as a domestic help, while Sunil, a plumber by profession, was jobless and an alcoholic.

The accused used to beat up his wife over her objection to his drinking habit. Last night, he insisted his wife to give him money for drinking but she refused.

The police said the incident took place around 9.45 pm. The quarrel between the couple turned violent and Sunil bludgeoned his wife with a log. She was severely injured in the attack and her skull was smashed. The accused fled the scene, leaving his wife profusely bleeding.

Nine-year-old son of the couple Sandeep and his five-year-old sister Mansi ran to the house of their maternal grandmother Sheela Devi in the vicinity and informed her about the incident.

Sheela and her daughter Kanta reached Kiran’s house and found her body lying in a pool of blood.

They informed the police, which shifted the victim to the PGI, where she was declared brought dead.

Sheela alleged that Sunil used to beat up her daughter and had earlier chopped off her finger. He was an alcoholic and a drug addict, she alleged.

The couple got married 11 years ago and had strained relationships over the erratic behaviour of Sunil.

However, Sunil claimed that his wife had illicit relations with a man, who lived in their locality.

He had found her roaming with the man and warned her against indulging with him, but she allegedly refused to pay heed to his warnings.

He claimed that he hit his wife thrice on the head with the log and went to the police station for surrender. He added that he had no regrets for killing his wife.

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J&K Army units in RTI ambit, rules CIC
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
While ruling that Army establishments located in Jammu and Kashmir come under the purview of the Right to Information Act for the purpose of disseminating information, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has also held that court of inquiry (COI) proceedings were not excluded under the Act.

In its order pronounced today on an appeal filed by Chandigarh resident, Veena Kohli, whose son, Capt Sumit Kohli had died of gunshot wounds while serving in J&K in 2006, the CIC has categorically held that the Act shall apply to all central government organisations irrespective of their location.

The Army had attributed Capt Kohli’s death to suicide and had refused to supply his family any document related to the case. The Army had taken the plea that COI proceedings could not be provided to individuals not subject to the Army Act. The Army had also contended that the officer’s death had occurred in J&K and the RTI Act was not applicable there.

Veena Kohli had contended that the Army itself had posted a list of public information officers and RTI appellate authorities for J&K region on its official website. She also pointed out that apart from the applicability of the RTI Act, as the mother of a deceased soldier she deserved to know how her son had died.

Holding that COI proceedings are not excluded from the purview of the RTI and these have to be disseminated under the Act, the CIC has ruled that only those portions of COI proceedings that may have security ramifications for the nation, can be held back under the Act.

The officer’s mother had sought the COI’s findings into the circumstances leading to the cause of death and the subsequent post mortem report and inquest proceedings. 

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Petrol station owner’s property attached
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Income tax officials today attached the property of Gurdayal Singh and Sons, which runs a petrol station in Sector 22, to recover tax arrears to the tune of 
Rs 12 lakh.

According to sources, four partners, Gurdayal Singh, Darshan Singh, Shamsher and Surinder Pal, own the petrol pump. IT officials swooped on their house at Sector 34 and sealed it.

Earlier, the income tax officials attached the sales of their petrol pump on October 16 stating that the department had appointed a receiver, who will receive 20 per cent of the daily sales of the petrol pump.

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Chandigarh-Baddi rail link
Rlys to conduct survey again
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Engaged in a tug-of-the-war with the administration over its ambitious Chandigarh-Baddi rail link in its current form, the Railways has finally relented and decided to conduct the survey again.

The present survey had run into rough weather as the proposed rail link passed through Parsvnath's Prideasia and the reserve forest area in the region.

When apprised of the problems dogging the 44-km strategic link connecting Chandigarh with Himachal Pradesh, Vivek Sahay, GM, Northern Railways, said here today that a "fresh survey seems to be the only answer."

While the Railways had conducted survey for the ambitious project, considered to be the economic lifeline for the industrial hub of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh, several years ago the mega housing project's location threatened to derail the project.

The administration had taken strong objection to the project in the current shape and asked the railway authorities to work on an alternative alignment.

Recently, the UT had contended that the link would prove to be very costly as a number of tunnels would have to be built.

The UT had suggested a new alignment from Chandigarh to Pinjore and then to Baddi along the road route.

Railway sources claimed that since it was an ambitious project aimed at giving boost to the economic development of the region, it could not be scrapped. “We will conduct survey again so that construction work on the project took off early”, sources said.

Meanwhile, UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar said the UT was keen on having Chandigarh's connectivity with the hilly state and the project would prove to be a boon for the economic growth for Punjab, Haryana and Himachal, besides Chandigarh.

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Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail link in 2 years 
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail link, off-track for years primarily on account of land acquisition problems being faced by the Punjab government, may see the light of the day in the next two years with the Railways depositing the full land cost (with the government).

In fact, about 20-km stretch of land in Sahnewal-Morinda area had already been handed to the Railways by the government while the acquisition process for the remaining 30 km was under progress. "Once the land is transferred to the Railways, it will take 18-20 months to complete the rail link,” Vivek Sahay, general manager, Northern Railways, said here today.

The 112-km rail link, which will provide an alternative route to the already-congested Ambala-Ludhiana railway link and road network, is being executed at a cost of Rs 566 crore in three phases. While the first phase from Chandigarh to Morinda got operational in 2006, the third phase from Ludhiana to Sahnewal would be completed in a couple of months. But, the second phase from Morinda to Sahnewal has not been able to take-off, as farmers are demanding compensation at market rates. The railway officials highlighted that the completion of the Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail link would go a long way in improving rail connectivity within the region as Chandigarh would be directly connected with Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Sahay, who was on the annual inspection of Ambala-Nangal section of the Ambala division, found the passenger amenities, safety and running of trains “satisfactory”. However, he ruled out the possibility of doubling of the 45-km Chandigarh-Ambala track in the backdrop of the congestion on this route following running of several trains, including prestigious Shatabdi Express, on this section.

The Ambala division of the Northern Railways had recently recommended laying of the second track to ease congestion on the route. Sahay said the Ambala-Nangal section had witnessed a passenger growth of about 9 per cent during the last year.

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2 locals selected for UNAIDS project
Neha Miglani

Chandigarh, February 18
Religion and faith have an unparalleled impact on the minds of the masses. Using this understanding, the UNAIDS along with World Alliance for Youth Empowerment (WAYE), an international youth NGO, has launched a project to spread awareness on HIV/AIDS with the help of religious leaders in all states.

Two city youth — Vinayshree Khurana (23) and Nitish Badyal (22) — have been selected as youth ambassadors of Haryana and Punjab, respectively, to work on this year-long project.

The project, which is the first of its kind, has been initiated to bring Hindu religious leaders and faith-based organisations of all states to include awareness content about HIV/AIDS in their speeches.

“These leaders can use their trust and authority to help remove the existing stigma about HIV/AIDS,” remarks Vinayshree.

While Vinayshree completed her MSc in physics from Panjab University and has been actively working with WAYE for three years, Nitish is a mechanical engineer and has been involved with the NGO for one year.

Says Vinayshree, “It is observed that people shy away from talking about HIV/AIDS openly. Our job as ambassadors is to create material and propose ideas to religious leaders to include awareness about AIDS in their speech and ensure that they do so.”

Adds Nitish: “All leaders will come on one platform during this year to discuss the issues.”

The project is an outcome of the Hindu Leaders’ Caucus in Bangalore (June 1-2, 2008) where Hindu leaders across the country pledged to come together to fight against HIV/AIDS and spread awareness in this regard.

The project is expected to inspire leaders of other religions, cultural heads and faith-based organisations to unite for the cause.

Projects like female foeticide, pulse polio, HIV/AIDS, etc. require mass concurrence, which can come about with the involvement of religious leaders whose spread and influence is massive in a country like India.

Both youth ambassadors, along with other representatives from different states, will undergo a TOT (training of trainers) course conducted by UNAIDS/NACO in March after they form their network of volunteers in different regions in their respective state.

WAYE directors Dinesh Godke and Khurshed Batliwala, both IIT (Bombay) passouts, will visit the city on Sunday to monitor the ground work.

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Implement 5th pay commission, says ex-MP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Satya Pal Jain, ex-MP and BJP candidate from Chandigarh Parliamentary constituency, has urged Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal to grant an approval and to notify the recommendation of the Pay Commission in Punjab, without any further delay. In a letter to Badal, Jain said the employees of Punjab and UT were anxiously waiting for the acceptance of these recommendations before coming into force of “the code of conduct” for avoiding any further delay.

A delegation of the UT Employees Coordination Committee and Vikas Welfare Association informed Jain that the recommendations of the Pay Commission were yet to be implemented, due to which employees are facing a tough time. 

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Govt forcibly acquiring farmers’ land: MLA 
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 18
Condemning the Punjab Government for reducing the rate at which land is being acquired for Mohali’s development, Kharar MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu said here today that the government was forcibly taking away the land and harming farmers’ interests.

Sidhu, who was addressing mediapersons, said at a meeting of the District Land Price Fixation Committee held in the office of the Deputy Commissioner on November 26 the rate announced for acquiring each acre of land for 200-ft-wide roads linking the airport was Rs 1.10 crore apart from other allowances that were to be added to the price of the land which would have finally come to Rs 1.76 crore per acre. This price was reduced by the state sub-committee to Rs 1.5 crore per acre.

He lamented that while calculating the compensation amount to be given to farmers, the authorities concerned failed to take into account all the land registrations carried out during that particular period.

Giving an example, he said that 6 kanals and 10 marlas of Bakarpur village was sold for Rs 2.77 crore on April 10 and the authorities concerned, who had calculated the price, failed to take the sale of Bakarpur land into consideration even when all land registries up to October 24 last year were to be taken into account.

He said farmers were ready to give their land for the development of Mohali, but they should be given compensation as per the market value of the land being acquired. He appealed to the Punjab Chief Minister to get the decision reviewed and give farmers their due.

He said the government had taken away the land of farmers for developing Sectors 76 to 80 at throwaway prices and now oustees were not even being given plots by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA). He said the oustees should be given plots at a price at which their land was acquired, but the government was not ready to give them plots even at the market price.

The MLA said it was totally unjustified for the government to ask allottees of Sectors 76 to 80 to get their plots registered at the prevalent collector rates even when they were being given plots after a wait of eight years.

Sidhu said he would hold a meeting on February 20 at Bakarpur village to make the farmers aware of what the government was planning to do for acquiring their land.

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Farmers’ body to honour basmati developers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The Young Farmers Association today announced it would honour scientists responsible for developing new basmati varieties, particularly the ‘Pusa 1121’, which had increased the earnings of farmers considerably in the region.

Association general secretary Bhagwan Dass Gupta, in a statement here, said scientists, including Dr KV Prabhu, head of genetics; Dr AK Singh, senior rice breeder; IARI’s (Karnal) regional station head Dr SN Sinha, senior rice breeder Dr SS Atwal and senior scientists Dr Rakesh Seth, Dr VP Singh and Dr NK Chopra had played an important role in the development of successful basmati varieties.

Gupta said the area under basmati had increased four-fold in a single year. He said a large number of growers had realised over Rs 50,000 per acre by growing ‘Pusa basmati-1121’ variety, its average yield ranging from 18 to 22 quintals per acre.

He said it was the highest earnings from any main crop grown in the state. 

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Morcha holds meeting with sarpanches 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Riding high on the dictatorial attitude of the Chandigarh administration towards the farmers, the Chandigarh Sanjha Morcha held a meeting of all village sarpanches and former sarpanches at Sarangpur, here, yesterday.

During the meeting, the sarpanches vowed to take concerted action against the administration for forcibly acquiring the lands in the garb of development. It was unanimously decided that a rally will be organised at Khuda Jassu on February 21, so as to give a wake up call to the Central government about the high handedness of the Chandigarh administration and its policies.

The sarpanches pointed out that the land of poor farmers was being acquired in connivance with the real estate giants and they are being made homeless to benefit the industrialists. The farmers mentioned that in the wake of growing population of the villages, the Lal Doras should be extended in all villages and the houses outside present Lal Doras should be regularised.

“The award given to the farmers has been purposely kept low in order to systematically ruin them. They were not even provided a piece of land to have a decent house and are driven to poverty. The initial award given was so small that a large chunk of it was utilised to pay for the lawyers and with broken payments the poor farmers are unable to buy anything substantial, opined Manpreet Sandhu from Kajheri and general secretary of the morcha.

Morcha’s president Brig KS Kahlon said: “The dictatorial attitude of the administration could well be imagined from the fact that the exorbitant court fee has intentionally been kept at 13 per cent of the land’s value for filing an appeal for the enhanced payment. This is beyond the means of many farmers. In Punjab and Haryana it is only Rs 100for filing an appeal in a similar case”.

Angrez Singh, president, Pind Bachao Committee, and patron, Chandigarh Sanjha Morcha, who has been fighting for the farmers’ cause since long time conveyed that the farmers should have stake in the lease money administration collects from land grabbing from farmers and further giving it on heavy lease. 

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Commercial activity in private garb
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Carrying out commercial activities on a private vehicle is an offence under the law but throwing rules to the wind several food joints in the city are ferrying food by carrying out modifications and thereby flouting the Motor Vehicle Act with impunity.

To top it all, no authority — Chandigarh administration or State Transport Authority or Chandigarh police — has so far cared to check these blatant violations.

Besides denying the state exchequer revenue worth lakhs annually, these two-wheelers — scooters and motor cycles — are being used “commercially” after making certain modifications like fixing “heat entrapping” boxes on pillion to deliver hot steamy food.

However, the fact is that these vehicles have been registered with the Registering and Licensing Authority (RLA), Chandigarh, for “private use” only.

On the other hand, food joint authorities claim that these have been registered with the STA and have been part of commercial activity with the permission of the STA.

“We have been permitted to modify and run these vehicles by the STA,” said Rattan Katwal, senior manager with Hot Millions.

On the contrary, STA Secretary Vandana Disodia said these vehicles had never been registered with the STA and did not possess the mandatory “commercial permit”.

“No two-wheeler has yet been registered with the STA for running commercial activity in the city. We have even challaned these vehicles two months ago for mounting hot cases instead of pillion seat”.

There are over 500 such vehicles running on the city roads. The modification by fitting “heat entrapping” boxes for carrying hot food is not permissible under the motor vehicle norms.

It has been reportedly found that these vehicles hardly go through the passing test after mounting of hot cases in place of pillion seat to observe if these vehicles remain “roadworthy” or not.

Nevertheless, it is apparent that challaning exercise is a mere “eyewash” as the reality is that violations have grown up manifold with the mushrooming of multinational fast food joints like Domino, Pizza Hut, Narula’s, establishing their joints in the city.

The Chandigarh Traffic Police too seems to have adopted “couldn’t-care-less attitude” towards these violations as the police has never reportedly issued a challan to such a vehicle for this violation.

DSP Traffic JS Cheema justified this by saying that these vehicles must have been allowed by the registering authority for carrying out commercial activity and making modifications. “This is no violation,” he said.

However, an RLA official, said: “The catch is that these vehicles are registered before these are modified. We also cannot do anything as they carry out alteration after getting these vehicles passed with company-fitted standard equipment.”

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Rare spinal disc surgery 
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 18
The local civil hospital carried out a spinal disc surgery and removed a herniated disc for the first time through a small incision at a nominal cost as compared to private hospitals.

The expenses incurred on the surgery were less than Rs 7,000 whereas in private hospitals expenses varied between Rs 40,000 to about Rs 1 lakh. The surgery was performed on 44-year-old Kesar Singh, a former village sarpanch, who suffered from a persistent pain and numbness in the right leg and urinary incontinence. Later, it was found that he had a prolapse of lumbar disc that was causing cord compression resulting in pain.

The operation was performed under high spinal anaesthesia through a small incision and herniated disc was removed without giving general anaesthesia.

Dr Gursharan Singh, orthopaedic surgeon at the hospital, said the advantage of performing surgery through a small incision was that the healing was much faster and the cost was very low as compared to the private hospitals.

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Draw of lots for Sec 76-80 plots
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 18
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority held a draw of lots for the allotment of 427 plot numbers falling in sectors 76-80 here today.

The draw was held for plots measuring 250 sq yds (71 plots), 300 sq yds (237), 400 sq yds (111) and 1,000 sq yds (8). Plots measuring 200 and 500 sq yds were not included in the draw.

The allotment letters to successful applicants will be issued after the plots become feasible.

The plots included in the draw were free from any litigation but development work in this area has not been completed. This was the third draw of lots for the plots falling in these sectors.

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Classical soiree enchants audience
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, February 18
The delectable strains of music melodies reverberated the Taj hotel hall, as the city audience was treated to a fusion music concert with the harmony of western, classical and sublime of Indian classical music coming to a perfect jugalbandi here today.

The animated session of inspired vintage music brought here by the Seagram, in association withthe Scotland and British Council, witnessed the invincible Sarod maestro PadmaVibhushan Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and acclaimed composer David Murphy with his Scottish Chamber Orchestra at their creative best.

The programme commenced along with the thirty five accomplished musicians, mostly female artists, including fifteen violinists, besides Spanish guitars, clarinets, French horns, drums, flutes and other musical instruments of the Scottish chamber orchestra taking the centre stage and smart David Murphy holding the baton to spell magic. The ensemble opened up with a Mozart classic “ Overtime Idomeneo ” followed by a Beethoven’ s symphony number 8. Ably conducted by David, the classic was presented in four segments and the audience relished their melody, intonations and inherent rhythm before the Sarod wizard took over the inquisitive audience.

Accompanied by Tanmoy Das on Tabla Ustad Amjad Ali Khan reveled in ecstatic moments with Sarod. Lauding David Murphy as a great music conductor, Khan Saheb maintained that there was the invisible conductor, the Almighty to inspire and guide me to illuminate the horizons of melody and I owe my aesthetic potential to him and my father guru Hafiz Ali Khan Saheb. He bared the melody of raga Kafi before delineating the folk fervour of popular song Akela chalo re…. With closed eyes seemingly in contemplation, the Ustad was virtually lost in his creative artistic expression while listeners were lost in his melodic creation.

The Samaagan continued again with spells of improvised Jugalbandi with Scottish orchestra. The Ustad acknowledged his gratitude to the warmth and love of Chandigarh audience by dedicating the Ramdhun and a devotional composition “Vaishanav Jan ko”. Besides David Murphy Elizabeth Doonos on flute, Robert Macfall and Lise Afesial on Violin Swa Lee on Cello excelled. 

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PGI staff to go on strike from Feb 23
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Patients visiting the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) for treatment may have tough times ahead as the non-medical employees of the institute have decided to go on an indefinite strike from February 23.

The All-India Health Employees and Worker Confederation (AIHEWC) has served a notice on the Union Health Secretary and the PGI management in this regard. Sunil Dutt Sharma, confederation’s president, threatened to go on strike if their demands for hike in their patient-care allowance and abolition of the contractual recruitments are not met. “We support the confederation’s decision and abide by it,” said a PGIMER Workers’ Union member.

As part of the nationwide protest, employees of the PGIMER also went on a two-hour strike from 9 am to 11 am yesterday, thereby putting patents to inconvenience.

Technicians said: “We want the government to implement the patient-care allowance on a par with nursing allowance at Rs 3,200 per month. The Sixth Pay Commission has recommended its abolition but we condemned this move.”

However, the PGIMER authorities are not in a mood to tolerate any laxity in work by their employees.

Talking to The Tribune, deputy director (administration) AK Gupta said it was unfortunate that in spite of cooperation and assurance from them, the association had hardened its stand.

“It’s really unreasonable,” he said, adding that even as authorities were going all out to resolve the matter amicably, the technicians had decided to go on strike, which would cause undue harassment to patients and adversely affect the hospital’s functioning. “We respect the rights of the employees to put forth their demands but striking work and putting patients to inconvenience is not the right thing,” Gupta added.

He said employees must understand that in hospitals patients were a priority and it was unethical to add to their suffering by putting them to inconvenience by such strikes.

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RBI staff hold protest
A Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 18
Reserve Bank of India employees and retirees held a demonstration against the decision to withdraw hike in pension at the local head office here today.

The call for demonstration was given by the United Forum of Reserve Bank Officers’ and Employees. The protesters raised slogans against the government.

TR Nangal, president, All-India Reserve Bank Officers’ Association (AIRBOA), said: “The central government should pay heed to our demands as it will not only affect staff but also senior citizens.”

The employees have unanimously decided to go on a nationwide strike on February 20.

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Defence canteen staff go on hunger strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
Members of the All-India Defence Civilian Canteen Union have proceeded on a hunger strike in support of their demands, including implementation of basic scales as recommended by the Sixth Pay Commission.

According to a statement issued here today, CSD canteen employees continue to draw basic scales as recommended by the Fifth Pay Commission sans perks like dearness, house rent and education allowances. The protesting employees pointed out that while 50 per cent DA had been merged with basic pay of CSD depot employees, CSD canteen employees were being deprived of this facility.

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Letters
Amend laws

This is with reference to Raveen Thukral’s article “Humbug all, believe it or not”| in Chandigarh Tribune dated February 9, 2009.

The nation is in a state of shock after hearing the tragedy that killed five infants.

In fact, the authorities awake from its slumber only after such unfortunate incidents, suspend the staff concerned, order probe, release compensation and then forget. But these actions cannot bring back the innocent lives and also cannot give solace to the bereaved families. Tragic incidents like these happen frequently in our country because of sheer negligence on the part of the deployed staff as well as the government.

There are many open manholes, obsolete and loose electric wires, choked drains, unsafe buildings and bridges, posing serious danger to the citizens across the country. Besides, there are broken roads, uncovered trenches, non-functional streetlights, unmanned railway crossings that add to the woes of the people.

The government is squarely responsible for these tragic incidents. The Tribune has highlighted the dismal picture of the hospitals in Punjab few months back. But no action has been taken hitherto.

For the last over two decades, in the name of so-called economic reforms the government depends upon the daily contractual employees who neither adept in their job nor have the security of service; thus they neglect the work frequently. The resignation of the minister for health is another gimmick played by him to send in to the party instead of Chief Minister. Precisely, the government has virtually failed in the overall governance of the state, thus, the Chief Minister who heads the government should resign.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at news@tribuneindia.com or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030

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Schools fail to adopt library culture
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The UT education department seems to be far off from adopting the directives of the National Knowledge Commission with its prime clause of brooding library culture in schools and colleges.

A visit to any of the city government schools reveals that barring a few libraries, most of them are in a bad shape and have not been updated since quite a long time.

In most of the schools, like GHS-41, library is in form of a locked almirah, kept inside an examination room. Even GMHS, Sector 39, has no separate library and the books are locked away in a multi-purpose room that has no chairs or tables. In GGSSS, Sector 23, classes are being held in library, and if students are to be believed, the books are rarely brought out of the closet. The condition is worse in periphery and rural schools like that of Hallo Majra, where books are locked up in big chests or trunks.

It is not only the infrastructure, but also the initiative on part of school authorities, that is to be put to blame for the libraries loosing their sheen. Unlike the private schools, none of the government schools has a separate library period and in most of the schools, students have not been issued any kind of library cards, and thus, apparently, books are never issued.

Speaking to The Tribune, students of GGSSS, Sector 23, and GMSSS, Sector 22, said most of the reference books were outdated and not in a usable condition, because of which students were depleting interest.

Most of the principals refused to comment. A few of them said that the posts of librarians and library attendants were lying vacant in many schools and if a teacher was given additional charge for the library, she considered herself responsible only for the security of books and did not take any interest in issuing books or updating them.

However, there is more to the issue than what it seems at surface, as the department itself has never cared to inspect the condition of libraries after the former DPI’s exit.

It may be noted that during an in-depth inspection done last year, it was revealed that over a dozen of schools had not issued even a single book in the entire year.

The department is yet to take any action. Meanwhile, DPI Samwartak Singh was unavailable for comment.

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From Schools & Colleges
St Kabir holds biodiversity quiz
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The students of St Kabir Public School, Sector 26, conducted a biodiversity quiz for classes IV, V and VI. The department of environment, Chandigarh Administration, supported this quiz. The four teams were named Falcons, Hawks, Koalas and Pandas. The Hawks comprising of Hitakshi, Uday, Marriya and Arjit were declared the winners.

Send-off

The students of Class IX and XI of GMSSS, Sector 35, organised a farewell party for the students of Class X and XII. The day was marked by a cultural show consisting of songs, dances and a skit.

A short cultural programme was organised by the Class XI students of GMSSS, Sector 47, to bid a farewell to the outgoing Class XII. The celebrations comprised of gidha, western dance, folk dances etc. Priyanka was declared Miss-47 and Pankaj was declared Mr 47.

A farewell party was also organised by the Class IX students to X Class students at the Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 46. The students of Class IX presented songs and dances on this occasion. Principal Sudesh Raghav advised the students to become disciplined and adopt moral values in order to live a better life.

Valediction-2009 was organised by Shivalik Public School to bid a farewell to the outgoing Class XII students. Apart from presenting a scintillating cultural programme, Class XI students also bestowed befitting titles to their seniors. The XII students thanked the institution and faculty for being instrumental in making them competent to facing the challenges with fortitude. Arshdeep and Yuvraj won the crown of Miss and Mr Shivalik, respectively. Director DS Bedi wished success to the outgoing students.

A farewell party was given to the students of Class XII of the MRA Senior Secondary School, Sector 27, by Class XI students. The colorful programme was organised in the school auditorium with fervour and enthusiasm. Three rounds of modelling for girls and boys were held, in which Madhu of Class XII and Surya Prateek Soni of Class XII were adjudged Miss MRA and Mr MRA, respectively.

SGGS College, Sector 26, organised the S Bharpur Singh Memorial Function today to commemorate and honour S. Bharpur Singh (1933 - 2007), ex-principal of the college and secretary, Sikh Educational Society (SES). Under his stewardship, the institutions managed by the society achieved great heights of glory and academic excellence. The chief guest of the occasion, Dr JS Grewal, former VC, GNDU, Amritsar, and a Padma Shree awardee paid tributes to the great visionary, thinker and educationist. Eminent personalities and writers graced the occasion and paid tributes to S Bharpur Singh.

Lecture

The Science Committee of MCM DAV College organised a lecture on career options after doing graduation in science stream. More than 300 students from science and technology attended the lecture. The vice-president of KMG Infotech, Kamal Kishore, was the guest speaker who stressed and focussed upon acquiring corporate culture and how it is to be employed in the changing and challenging environment.

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From PU
World Punjabi Conference on Feb 24, 25
A Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 18
Panjab University is holding the second World Punjabi Conference on February 24 and 25 for the development of Punjabi language, literature and culture.

Brochure of the conference was released in the senate hall of the university, where some famous personalities were present. The conference will cover a whole range of issues and concerns faced by the Punjabi society.

About 200 delegates from across the world, including England, the USA, Canada, Italy, Germany, Australia, Japan, Pakistan, and various parts of India are expected to attend the conference. The objective of the conference is to develop holistic methods based upon the critical systems available in sciences, social sciences, humanities and literary theory.

Seminar

Geography department of Panjab University organised a two-day national seminar on emerging challenges for agriculture in India, which was inaugurated by the dean, university instructions, BS Brar.

Prof Smita Bhutani from the department expressed an assurance that the seminar would serve to enrich the policy and decision-making in respect of the looming food crisis. The scholars, who presented their views, meticulously outlined the paradoxes that exist in terms of food surplus and deficit. From Morocco to Japan, only a small speck of land comprising Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh, is producing surplus food, they said.

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Water samples from schools fail test
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 18
The Punjab Government, which is making tall claims of making Mohali as one of the best developed cities in the country, has even failed to provide clean drinking water in government schools, exposing students to waterborne diseases.

Three of the eight water samples collected from government schools have failed the potability test.

According to reports, officials of the Health Department had collected eight water samples from government schools since January 1, out of which three had failed the potability test. These three water samples were collected from government schools located in Parol, Sakrullapur and Dhakoli. The officials had collected 28 water samples from different parts of the district since the beginning of 2009 out of which 11 had failed the test.

Dr SP Surila, District Health Officer, confirmed that water samples collected from government schools at the three places had failed the test. He said the school authorities had been informed in this regard.

They had been advised to chlorinate water before students consumed it.

The department had earlier received cases of typhoid and diahorrea from Dhakoli village as residents had been drinking water that was not fit for consumption.

A report regarding the failed water samples had been sent to higher authorities for action.

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