C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


HC orders closure of toll barrier
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the closure of the Dera Bassi toll plaza with immediate effect.

The orders issued by the Bench of Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice AN Jindal this morning, were communicated on the court’s directions to the Deputy Commissioner concerned at once for compliance. Consequently, the instant closure of the plaza was ordered.

Some commuters had paid Rs 21 as to-and-fro charges this morning without realising that the plaza would be gone on their return.

As the matter came up for hearing earlier during the day, the Bench made it clear that inconvenience to commuters would not be tolerated. It also noticed that musclemen had been deployed by the toll plaza management for ensuring the recovery of money. “You are acting like Shylock,” Justice Uma Nath Singh said, speaking for the Bench.

The court said the term of nine years, five months and 25 days had expired on March 14. As a company representative attempted to explain its stand on the necessity of allowing it to go ahead with the process of charging the tax, Justice Uma Nath Singh said: “We will direct an inquiry by the CBI and ask it to register cases against you and the government.”

He also observed that two toll plazas at a distance of less than 1 km would not be permitted to continue. Justice Uma Nath Singh asked the authorities concerned to settle within six months the outstanding dispute.

Meanwhile, Additional District and Sessions Judge Ravi Kumar Sondhi is off the contempt hook. The Bench today accepted his unconditional apology. He was yesterday asked to show cause why contempt proceedings not be initiated against him for passing an interim order of stay in the toll plaza matter.



Takes note of ‘swinging’ flyover
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Zirakpur, March 17
The “swinging” of the Zirakpur flyover has not escaped the attention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. A Division Bench comprising Justice Uma Nath Singh and Justice AN Jindal asked an official of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to give details in this regard.

As the traffic regulation and highway widening case came up for resumed hearing before the Bench, Justice Uma Nath Singh asked what the “swinging” issue was all about.

Appearing before the Bench, an NHAI official said they were examining it and had asked experts to visit the flyover. He said the problem was expected to be rectified within three days. At the most, it would take 10 days.

The flyover was inspected by a company consultant and a technical team from Bangalore. The bridge had to be closed following displacement of a bearing supporting a slab. Officials said a jack would be installed tomorrow and the repairs would be carried out after that. The additional team of technical experts was also scheduled to arrive. Meanwhile, the traffic continued to move smoothly under the bridge.



Most encroachments go
Arun Sharma and Hemant Kumar
Tribune Reporters

A woman wails as she sees her structure being pulled down. Photo: Pradeep Tiwari

Kalka, March 17
The NHAI demolished hundreds of buildings along the NH-22 here today. NHAI project director KP Sharma confirmed that a majority of encroachments in the town had been removed. However, it would take some more time to demolish illegal structures in multistoreyed buildings as it could pose danger to adjoining buildings, besides electrical and other installations. The NHAI would submit a compliance report to the court tomorrow, he said.

Deputy Commissioner Rajender Katari said efforts were on to remove the debris as soon as possible and restore traffic by late tonight. Special police force from four districts had been deployed. Police sources said around 100 policemen had been deployed in the morning and more had been requisitioned in the afternoon.

The demolition drive started off peacefully at 9.55 am, but later hundreds of residents began raising slogans against the authorities. The police, however, dispersed the crowd. Several shopkeepers could be seen removing the encroachments themselves.

Most shopkeepers and traders were unaware of the encroachment drive until morning. They said they were under the impression that the next date of hearing of the case in the High Court was on Thursday. They came to know about the drive only after reading newspapers.

Bhagat Singh, chairman of the Kalka Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said the NHAI had damaged several residential buildings. Claiming it as contempt of court, he said the samiti would file a case in this regard.

Most parts of the town were deprived of electricity and water supply till the filing of this report. Meanwhile, hundreds of commuters faced inconvenience due to the diversion of traffic. School and college students who were to appear for their annual examinations at Panchkula and Chandigarh had a harrowing time. Long queues of trucks could be seen on the outskirts of Pinjore and at Panchkula.

Justice Uma Nath Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear to Kalka residents that the matter of their rehabilitation would be taken up with the Haryana government.

He said: “We assure the people that they will be rehabilitated, otherwise the state will be asked to look at the feasibility of paying compensation. We would not allow the hard-earned money invested by people to go waste.”



Beant Assassination Case
Prime witness told to vacate house
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Balwinder Singh, a whistle blower and a prime witness in the Beant Singh assassination case, today got a shock when UT estate officials trudging with the orders of the Sub-divisional Magistrate (East) allegedly barged into his house this afternoon ordering him to vacate it.

Astonishingly, the Inspector General of Police (IG), Chandigarh, had intimated the Sub-divisional Magistrate (East) as well as the UT estate office on March 13 that Balwinder had been permitted to stay at House No 236-B, Sector 26 Police Lines, for security reasons and the eviction proceedings should be stopped.

But this communication apparently neither caught a fancy of the office of the SDM (East) nor the UT estate office. Completely ignorant about the latest communiqué in this regard, the UT estate squad reached the spot to carry on eviction proceedings only to find that they had actually been abiding the “stale” orders of eviction served upon on February 25.

“Actually, it was a case of miscommunication. The IG, Chandigarh Police, has earlier cancelled his stay and communicated us to proceed as per the law but we were not aware of this latest communication of March 13 from the IG office. Consequently, we were told to act on the eviction orders which were issued on February 25,” said Parveen Mittal, inspector, the estate office.

“But as soon as we were shown the fresh orders of the IG we backed out of the eviction exercise,” he clarified.

On the other hand Balwinder has another story to tell. “The estate officials, despite orders of the administrator and its advisor keep on disturbing me and my family on one pretext or the other, despite the fact that I have an ailing father, three kids and my wife living with me.”

Nevertheless, after the jail break the threat perception increased manifolds. This house was allotted to him under the “police pool” quota by the Chandigarh Administration on February 3, 2004 for one year and further to be extended till the government accommodation under general pool in a safer locality is identified for him.

“But only after a year, my allotment was cancelled by the UT police without bothering to arrange any alternate safe accommodation for me, as promised. I was also served another notice through the UT estate office to vacate the house otherwise to pay Rs 2,253 per month as rent. Then also, when media intervened, the orders were revoked. Now in February last, I have been issued another eviction notice,” he narrated.

It is evident to mention that Balwinder painted the car allegedly used by militants to trigger the bomb at the secretariat on August 31,1995. He had helped the security agencies arrest Lakhwinder Singh. Through Lakhwinder, the security agencies had zeroed in on the main accused, Jagtar Singh Tara, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora.



PGI diagnosis technique gets US patent
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
In a major development, which will surely give boost to research at PGI, the institute has obtained the US patent for a unique methodology, Quadraplex PCR, for diagnosing various types of eye infections caused by parasite, fungus, bacteria and virus in one single examination.

The new methodology shortens the diagnostic time to a few hours as compared to the earlier method that used to take several days. In one test, doctors would be able to distinguish whether the infection has been caused by a parasite, a fungus, a bacteria or virus and treat the same accordingly.

Addressing the media on the occasion of 3rd Founders’ day of the Advanced Eye Centre, PGI, Head of Ophthalmology Department, Prof Amod Gupta said, “This technique will not only save the patient’s time but will also save their eye as conservative method required repetitive sampling, which take more time that can cause blindness.”

As per figures available with the PGI, Advanced Eye Centre, almost 1,000 patients of various types of infections were reported at PGI every year. The most common one is fungal infection and others were tuberculosis (bacterial), cytomegalovirus (viral) and toxoplasmosis (parasite).

The patent was issued jointly in the name of Dr Vaishali Gupta (AEC), Dr Sunil Arora, Dr Naresh Sachdev of the Department of Immunopathology, Dr Amod Gupta (AEC) and Dr Pradeep Bambery of the Department of Internal Medicine.

On this occasion, he highlighted the state of art technology, which was introduced at the centre during last one year. He pointed out about infinity phacoemulsification machines for cataract surgery, an IOL Master for non contact IOL power calculation, new Accurus vitreous surgery machines, etc.

Due to availability of various facilities in AEC, number of patients has been increased as compared to previous years. About 71,486 patients visited the centre for availing of its services, 38 per cent increase from 1,23,497 in the year 2006-07 when the centre was opened. Nearly 1,18,891 patients were provided tertiary care in its sub speciality clinics, he added.



Slump takes its toll on poll funding
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
The recession has taken its toll on the corporate funding for the Chandigarh parliamentary seat. With the recession hitting corporates and businessmen hard, major political parties are relying on the contributions of workers and "well-wishers" to part finance the election campaign.

Though the election expenditure limit of Rs 14 lakh for candidates is "unrealistic" for the Chandigarh seat, yet no major funds are coming from corporate and businessmen for the three major candidates -- Pawan Bansal (Congress), Satya Pal Jain (BJP) and Harmohan Dhawan (BSP).

In fact, the earlier practice of funding all major candidates by the corporates and leading businessmen seems to be the thing of the past. "In the recession times, it is difficult to fund all major candidates. This time, I have restricted myself to funding the election campaign of 'our' candidate," a leading businessman told The Tribune.

With party high command's contribution also limited, workers are emerging as the major source of funding."The BSP has enrolled about 35,000 active workers recently, who paid a subscription of Rs 25 each and this fund -- about Rs 8.75 lakh -- will be utilised for funding our election campaign," Harmohan Dhawan, BSP candidate, said.

Sources said since elections were a costly affair, the Rs 14-lakh individual limit was subtly exceeded by almost all candidates. And it was here that the contributions from the party workers and "well-wishers" comes in handy.The "well-wishers" obviously had vested interests and their contributions came with strings attached, the sources said.

President of the local unit of the Congress BB Bahl conceded that the party high command's donation was paltry and a major share of the election expenditure is met by the workers and the "well-wishers".

The high commands of the national political parties pitch in the form of the publicity material, including newspaper and TV advertisements, in the national media and other election campaign material.

With publicity being taken care of by the party set-ups, the role of supporters and "well-wishers" was limited to offering freebies, including liquor and blankets, to "influence" the voters particularly in the slums and villages in the run-up to the elections. And these freebies were never accounted for in the election expenditure of the candidates, the sources claimed.

Rs 14 lakh limit unrealistic

Political parties believe that the Rs 14 lakh expenditure limit for the Chandigarh seems to be unrealistic in the backdrop of the increasing inflation. Though large constituencies have a Rs 25-lakh limit, yet the expenditure limit for the local seat is unrealistic, BSP candidate Harmohan Dhawan opined.



Candidate’s Profile
From hawker to MP
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
It is a typical rags-to-riches story for the BJP's virtually permanent candidate from the Chandigarh seat -- Satya Pal Jain. From a newspaper hawker at Kharar in Chandigarh's vicinity to senior advocate and two-time MP, Jain's success story is scripted by dint of hardwork and perseverance.

Born at Kharar on June 15, 1952 , Jain took to politics early in life -- first at school in Kharar and later at Government College, Chandigarh, from where he graduated in BA (Honours). At the time of pursuing his masters in political science from Panjab University, Jain was already general secretary of the Punjab University Students ’ Council in 1974.

Inspired by the JP movement, he plunged into anti-Emergency satyagraha and was arrested by the Chandigarh Police on January 27, 1976. He entered the Panjab University Senate in 1976 at the young age of 24 for the first time. In the meantime, the senior leader also remained the president of the Chandigarh unit of the ABVP.

However, he had the mixed luck in the Lok Sabha elections from Chandigarh. While, he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1996 (11th Lok Sabha) and 1998 (12th Lok Sabha), he lost to his Congress rival Pawan Bansal in 1991 and 2004 elections.

During the 11th Lok Sabha (1996-1998), he was appointed the whip of the BJP for the North India states. And during his second term as a member of the Lok Sabha (1998-1999), he was again nominated as a member of several committees, including the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, the Home Ministry's Consultative Committee of Parliament and the Estimates Committee of Lok Sabha.

He was invited as a member of the 25-member Indian delegation of MPs, which visited Pakistan just before the historic visit of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to Pakistan on February 19, 1999.

In July, 2002, he was nominated as a member of the National Executive of the BJP. In August, 2004, he was nominated as the all-India convener of the Legal Cell of the BJP.

Jain also has the distinction of being the election agent of Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Najma Heptullah, the NDA’s candidates for the posts of the President and the the Vice-President of India, respectively, in July, 2007.

The year saw him being nominated as the in charge of Himachal affairs. During his stewardship, the BJP government led by Prem Kumar Dhumal was formed in Himachal Pradesh in December 2007.



Colony cell chief quits BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
In a development that may have affect on BJP candidate Satya Pal Jain's prospects in the coming elections, colony cell president of the party Shashi Shankar Tiwari is understood to have resigned.

"I have resigned from the party due to certain differences with the party leadership and talks are on with the leadership to sort out differences, Tiwari said, while downplaying his resignation. However, he expressed hope that the likely visit of party co-convener Kiran Ghai to Chandigarh tomorrow would address his concerns.

The resignation of Tiwari, a close confidant of Jain, seems to have plunged the party into crisis ahead of the crucial May 13 elections to the Chandigarh seat. In fact, the top brass of the BJP today remained closeted with Tiwari in a bid to win back the estranged leader. However, local BJP chief Kamla Sharma blamed the party's political rivals for spreading rumours about Tiwari's resignation.

Sources said Tiwari was likely to join the BSP along with his supporters on March 19. Hari Shankar Mishra, president of the colony cell of the BSP and husband of Raj Kumari Mishra, a councillor of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC), is seen as instrumental in winning over Tiwari to the BSP's fold.

The colony votes matter most of the BJP in the current elections as Jain had trailed by over 35,000 votes over Pawan Bansal in the slums in the 2004 elections.Tiwari is considered to be an influential leader of the migrant population from UP and Bihar and wields considerable influence in the rehabilitation colonies.



Vote to change

Elections are an opportunity to exercise our right to franchise. Even after 60 years of Independence, it is a shame that we do not have politicians who can be entrusted with the task of taking the country on the path of progress.

In these elections, too, the choice we have is between devil and the

deep sea. Though it will be the first time I vote, I am not excited.

Vote we must, but the question is for whom, if the choice happens to be between two evils. Candidates must have a clean image and infuse a sense of confidence among those they aspire to represent. They must have a strong academic background and must be aware of the problems of the masses.

Nevertheless, the youth must come out and vote as this is the only way we can try to weed out the bad elements from our political set-up.

— Sarbshakti Man Singh



Visually challenged protest for jobs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Visually challenged from Punjab staged a protest near Parade Ground in Sector 17 for the state government jobs. They assembled near Parade Ground and raised slogans against the indifferent attitude of the state government, which was not paying heed to their long-pending demands.

The Chandigarh Police took a delegation of the protesters and arranged their meeting with Ramesh Inder Singh, chief secretary of Punjab. Sunny Pal Singh, president of the Netetheen Jagaritee Sangh, Punjab, told TNS that after meeting, the Chief Secretary had told them that he would take permission from the Election Commission to take action on their demands as the code of conduct had been enforced due to the coming Lok Sabha elections.

The president of the sangh said the government was playing every possible trick to deny them their rights. He said they had deferred their fast for a week to give time to the state government to fulfil its promise made to them.

He stated that the government had earlier promised to meet their demands in 15 days but backtracked from their words forcing them to take to streets. They have been staging a dharna outside the Social Welfare Department office in Sector 34, which has entered into 311th day.



Academicians welcome SC move
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
City academecia has welcomed Supreme Court’s latest directive of cutting off financial aid to educational institutions that are not complying with the directions to curtail ragging. Citing it as the much-required exemplary directive, city principals believe to accelerate the ‘no tolerance to ragging’ movement.

“The already existing directives are also strict. Thankfully the scenario is not that disturbing in the city, but still colleges should go in for vigilance to curtail the ragging incidents,” said, Raji P Shrivastava, director higher education UT. For many others like Dr Puneet Bedi, principal, MCM College, the intuitions should have provision of strict exemplary punishment.

It may be noted, expressing serious concern over the death of Aman Kachroo, student of Dr Rajendra Prasad Medical College, Kangra, due to ragging on March 8, a Bench consisting of Justices Arijit Pasayat and A.K. Ganguly observed: “It appears that the concern shown by this court has not been taken seriously by the authorities. Prima facie it is contempt of the court. The directions issued by the court on May 16, 2007 and February 11, 2009 on the basis of the R.K. Raghavan Committee report to end the menace have not been complied with. Time has come for cutting off financial aid to these institutions which are not complying with the directions.”



Army officer heads ITBP vet wing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
For the first time perhaps, a serving Army officer is heading the veterinary department of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP). The development comes after the two senior-most ITBP officers in line for the post were not approved for promotion by the ITBP headquarters for professional reasons, sources said.

Faced with the constraint of a vacant post, the Ministry of Home Affairs had sought applicants from other government departments. ITBP sources said one of the affected officers has already moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against his supercession.

The new incumbent of the post, Lt Col Pardeep Poonia, assumed charge in the rank of Commandant, a step higher than his Army rank, at New Delhi this week, sources said.

He will oversee the functioning of the ITBP’s animal transport wing, dog squads, vet hospital and allied establishments.



Nod to action against HUDA official
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 17
The chief administrator of HUDA, TC Gupta, has ordered to file a complaint with the police against one of the employees at the HUDA office when it was found that a file in his custody was used to forge documents by some property dealers. The file was also found missing from the office. The accused, however, got admitted to the civil hospital, complaining of chest pain.

The Chandigarh police had yesterday arrested three persons with forged documents meant for selling a plot in Sector 6. The plot was owned by a woman staying in Dubai. The arrested accused were trying to sell the plot for Rs 3.25 crore fraudulently.

Gupta, when contacted, said the accused official was responsible for the file and when he was asked about it, he could not answer satisfactorily about the whereabouts of the file.



Go Air flight
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Go Air is going to start Mumbai, Delhi and Chandigarh flight soon and the sale of tickets of which began today.

Sources in the airlines claimed that it’s the low-fair flight. The flight would ferry 180 passengers. The proposed schedule of the flight to take off from the Chandigarh would be 8:30 am.



No faculty for new courses
PU students submit memo to VC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 17
Panjab University Campus Students Council submitted a memorandum to the Vice-Chancellor today regarding various problems faced by the students of the courses that were introduced in last academic year.

They stated in the memorandum that no new course should be started before completion of infrastructure of the earlier ones. They demanded that the authorities should make arrangements for faculty in the existing courses and hostel facility should also be available for new students. They mentioned that this is their last memorandum otherwise they would resort to agitation after March 31.

The council claim that in all the 48 new courses started during academic year 2008-09 not even a single course has all the facilities, including infrastructure, faculty, placement and facilities. Without improving the infrastructure of courses being run by the university, surprisingly, from the forthcoming academic year, the University is starting 11new courses.

In all the new courses, there is hardly any infrastructure available in terms of adequate classrooms and labs available for the students. In new institutes or centres like UIAMS, UIFT, centre for emerging areas in social sciences, there is no library in the department. Most of the new courses are self-financing courses, for which, the students have to pay a whopping Rs 35,000-Rs 2,00,000 per annum. There is no permanent staff and in most of the courses, research scholars are taking classes. Council believes that authorities are starting more and more courses to increase their revenue.



Distortion of map of India
Hindi syllabus books omit PoK
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 17
Despite the Government of India objecting at national and international forums to the distortion of the map of India, by not showing the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) as part of India, a Mohali-based publisher has committed the glaring omission in the Indian map.

The distorted maps are shown in the Hindi syllabus books being taught to the students of Class IV and V of the Yadvindra Public School here. The books ‘Hindi Vyakaran and Rachna’ have been published by a Phase 9, Industrial Area-based publisher, Vishwas Publication. Efforts to contact the publisher on the telephone numbers printed in the textbooks proved futile.

The principal of the school, Dr Harish Dhillon, said he had passed instructions that the lesson containing the distorted map should not be taught to the students and the students had been categorically told that the map was wrong and should be crossed. The instructions were passed the moment the error was brought to his notice.

However, It could not be verified, as to how the distorted map missed the eyes of the teachers. Enquiries reveal that publishing a distorted map was a Criminal Act and a case could also be registered against the publisher under the Indian Penal Code. Mohali police officials said if any such complaint was brought to their notice, action would be taken after seeking legal opinion.



PU refuses security to Jimmey Shergill

Chandigarh, March 17
Panjab University authorities today refused to grant permission to the film actor Jimmey Shergill, who visited the campus, for promotion of one of his Punjabi movie. One of the student organisations requested the university authorities to provide security to the actor in the campus.

When contacted DSW, Naval Kishore, confirmed that one of the organisations have sent a request to the authorities but they refused, as he was an outsider and asked them to contact the police authorities for providing any security to the actor. — TNS



Post offices to sell CET prospectus

Chandigarh, March 17
From the next session the prospectuses of various entrance tests to be conducted by the university will be sold through post offices. The CET-2009 prospectus is already on sale in the post offices at Chandigarh (Sector 14, 17, 36 and 47), Panchkula (Sector 8), Mohali (Phase-I), Amritsar (Court Road, Head Post Office), Abohar (Old Court Road), etc. according to controller of examinations, PU. — TNS



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