C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


4 die in Sector 22 fire
2 showrooms gutted, exact loss yet to be ascertained
Tribune News Service

Fire tenders late by an hour

The functioning of the fire department again came under cloud with the fire engines allegedly making it to the spot about one hour late.This was despite the fact that the headquarters of the department was located about 1 km from the Sector 22-B market.

Waiting for a tragedy?

Several city markets, including rehri markets, are virtually sitting on a tinder box in the absence of the fire safety norms. Repeated attempts by the authorities concerned to punish the erring shopkeepers seems to have come a cropper due to lack of follow-up action.

Chandigarh, April 9
Four persons were killed in a devastating fire in the Sector 22-B market opposite the ISBT-17 here this night. The fire, which first engulfed the first floor of the SCO 1026 housing Dashmesh Digital Shop and later spread to the adjoining Shimla Traders (SCO 1027), spread panic in the bustling market having several photo-processing labs.

The deceased have been identified as Sandeep, Mahesh, Shiv Kumar and Manoj.While Mahesh, Shiv Kumar and Manoj were declared brought dead at Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, Sandeep succumbed to his injuries at the PGI here. Sandeep is reportedly the owner of New Sood Lab in the market.

The functioning of the fire department came under cloud with the fire tenders reporting at the site after about an hour after the fire broke out at 8.20 p.m. Two employees of the fire department, Joginder and Sandeep, who complained of suffocation, were also shifted to the GMSH-16 and the PGI.

According to witness, as the fire tenders reach the spot late, the fire spread to the second floor of the building causing major damage to the two shops. Owner of Shimla Traders revealed that their loss was pegged at Rs 15 lakh to 20 lakh. However, the exact loss to property of Dashmesh Digital Shop is yet to be ascertained.

Witnesses said Lalit Sharma, a shopkeeper, called up the fire station at 8.21 p.m. Though the headquarters of the fire department was located at about 1 km from the busy market, yet the fire tenders took time in arriving at the spot delaying relief and rescue operations. Earlier, shopkeepers tried to put off the fire before the arrival of the fire tenders. The fire brigade also faced shortage of water while carrying out fire fighting operations.

Over 10 fire tenders were pressed into service. Chaos ruled the roost with a large number of visitors and employees of the twin shops running helter-skelter. A majority of those trapped inside the affected building jumped to safety.

"Within minutes, the blaze went out of control. I saw one of the shop employees jumping to safety. In fact, the presence of the crowd virtually hampered the operations,"Avtar Singh, a visitor, said. Subhash, president of the market committee, said the first floor of Dashmesh Digital Shop was completely gutted.

About 10 fire tenders were battling it out well past midnight to control the blaze,which occurred probably due to a short-circuit.



Overloaded bus rolls down gorge
Pinjore college student killed, 60 hurt
Tribune News Service

Chander Mohan Bakshi , DIG, CRPF Camp, Pinjore, who played a vital role in the rescue operation, told The Tribune that he reached the spot just after a few minutes after the incident. He immediately called CRPF personnel from the camp who rescued all injured students from the bus. A team of CRPF doctors also managed to rush the injured to the Civil Hospital, Kalka.

The local residents of Kalka and Pinjore and members of NGOs also thronged the Civil Hospital, Kalka, to help the accident victims. An ambulance of ESI Hospital, Parwanoo, four private taxis and many private cars were also deployed for taking the injured to Chandigarh and Panchkula hospitals

Kalka/Panchkula, April 9
A 24-year-old student was killed while more than 60 students of Braham Rishi College of Education, Pinjore, injured, many of them seriously, when an overloaded bus rolled down a deep gorge following an edge of the Pinjore-Mallah link road caved in here today.

While the deceased has been identified as Manjit Kaur of Rattpur Colony of Pinjore, the injured have been admitted to hospitals in Chandigarh and Panchkula.

The police has registered a case of negligence against the company maintaining the road. The police said no safety measures were taken by the company on this road to avoid such type of mishap. Panchkula SP Amitabh Dhillon said prima facie it was found that the bus rolled down the gorge after the edge of the road was caved in. Neither any demarcation was done on the roads, nor the parapets were constructed on the sides of the road, he said.

According to the injured students, the accident took place around 8.45 am, minutes after the bus had left the National highway 22 and turned to an alternate route to Mallah. This road was constructed recently as the original stretch of the road was washed away a few months ago. The driver of the ill-fated Haryana Roadways bus, in an attempt to overtake a JCB machine, took the bus on the side of road. The edge of the road apparently could not bear the load and caved in leading to the tragedy, said eyewitnesses.

Shalini, one of the injured students, said the bus started from Kalka at 8-30 am everyday carrying 75-80 persons, including students and teachers of the college. She was just sitting behind the driver when he tried to overtake the JCB machine. Shalini said, “I had a miraculaous escape as I fell out of the bus with a jerk through the window,” added Shalini.

Residents of the nearby places rushed to the spot on hearing the cries. Later, jawans of the CRPF from a nearby camp also joined them and the injured were shifted to hospitals of Pinjore and Kalka. Later, 18 of the seriously injured were referred to Panchkula hospital from where six, including driver of the bus Dalip Singh, were shifted to the PGI and GMCH, Chandigarh, due to their critical condition.

All injured were discharged from the Kalka and Pinjore hospitals, while 6 of the injured were undergoing treatment at General Hospital, Panchkula.

Meanwhile, Didi Bhakti Mani of Brahm Rishi Ashram, Virat Nagar, blamed inadequate bus services of the Haryana Roadways on the Kalka-Mallah route for the accident.



Holiday on April 14
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The UT has declared a public holiday on April 14 in the government offices, boards, corporations, institutions and educational institutions on account of birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

The Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India, has also declared a holiday in all Central government offices, including industrial establishments.

This holiday is being notified in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 25 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881, a press note said.



Sikh Regiment to be affiliated with IAF’s 12 Squadron
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Sikh Regiment, one of the Army’s most decorated infantry regiment, will be “affiliated” with 12 Squadron, the IAF’s oldest transport squadron. Both have a chequered history and their operational association goes back to the 1947 Kashmir operations when the first Army troops - 1 Sikh - were airlifted from Gurgaon to the Valley for the defence of Srinagar from Pakistani intruders. Stating this here today, Lt Gen RS Sujlana, Colonel of the Sikh Regiment, said the Air Headquarters had already accorded its approval for the affiliation and the final go ahead from the Army Headquarters was expected to come through soon.

The affiliation is close liaison between inter-service regiments and establishments, where officers and men interact and learn about each others’ ethos, traditions and way of functioning. This involves attending important regimental events and helps develop camaraderie and boost inter-service relations.

While the history of the Sikh Regiment dates back to 1846, 12 Squadron is a relatively young unit, raised in 1945. Then flying the venerable Dakotas, the first major transport aircraft to be inducted into the IAF, the squadron is now equipped with the AN-32 tactical transporters. From a humble beginning of just two battalions, the Sikh Regiment now has 24 battalions which have earned 82 battle honours, 16 theatre honours, two Param Vir Chakra and two Ashok Chakra.

The Sikh Regiment is already affiliated with INS Kirpan, a naval warship. A large number of Army regiments are affiliated with different air force squadrons and naval warships.

Meanwhile, a large number of serving and retired officers from the regiment, along with their wives attended the annual Baisakhi Lunch at Chandimandir today.

The event gave an opportunity for the younger generation to meet the veterans, reminiscence old memories, strengthen regimental bonds and update each other on various matters.

Several welfare measures, including setting up a children’s hostel at Jalandhar were announced on the occasion. Sports activities by regimental personnel will also be encouraged.


71 autos impounded on Day 1
No alternative arrangement, commuters left high and dry
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Even as the UT administration started cracking the whip against the illegally-run autos from Panchkula and Mohali, hundreds of commuters, including school children, were left high and dry in the absence of any alternative mode of transport.

A joint team of the State Transport Authority (STA) and the Traffic Police, led by STA secretary Vandana Disodia, got into action early in Sectors 26, 27, 19, 38 (West), 32 and 34 and impounded 71 auto-rickshaws registered in Punjab and Haryana.

However, the impounding of a large number of the outstation autos was no deterrent to these vehicles as scores of autos cocked a snook at the administration's orders and went about their business as usual.

These autos were seen plying in sectors adjoining Panchkula and Mohali with impunity. There are about 1,000 illegal autos running in the city.

A random survey of the city revealed that the commuters, who were asked to get of the autos by the STA and the police, had a harrowing time. While the officials tried to reason with the commuters, the latter were miffed at the inconvenience. The absence of alternative transport arrangement only added to the woes of the commuters.

With the public transport system of the CTU in a shambles, the commuters found it hard to reach their destinations.

The illogical action of stopping the autos from the neighbouring states without providing alternative arrangements speaks volumes about the “lopsided” priorities of the Chandigarh administration, said Sarbjit Pannu, a resident of Sector 9.

At a meeting held yesterday under the chairmanship of Home-cum-Transport Secretary Ram Niwas, it was decided to get tough with the outstation autos. Modalities for the phasing out of the diesel and petrol-run autos by August 2009 were also discussed at the meeting. The Delhi Financial Corporation is rendering financial assistance for the purchase of non-diesel and non-petrol autos.

The administration's decision to phase out the diesel and petrol-run three-wheelers is prompted by its "green Chandigarh" initiative.



Nano on display impounded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Municipal Corporation today impounded the Nano put on display outside the State Bank of India at Sector 34, Chandigarh, by Joshi Auto Zone, dealer of the car, for not taking prior permission from the MC office.

But on other side the impounded Nano was the source of attraction for the people and employees who were present in the corporation office. A huge crowd assembled to have a glimpse of their dream car, which they had seen only on the electronic media.

Sources revealed that when enforcement inspector inquired from the dealer about the MC permission for the display of the Nano, representatives of the company informed the officials that they had not taken any permission from the authorities.

After this the inspector asked the representatives to depute their driver to take the Nano to the corporation office. Otherwise, he would toe it with his own vehicle.

After that, the dealer was challaned and Rs 1,000 was recovered as a fine from them.

Corporation Joint Commissioner T P S Phoolka stated that the dealer had paid the fine to the corporation and after that vehicle was released.



Nano booking a huge draw
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Thousands of people today came out to book Nano. As the bookings for the car began, people came out in huge numbers to book the car at the Tata dealerships as well as at bank branches of the SBI.

The bookings will continue till April 25, though the cars will be delivered only in March, 2010. A lucky draw will be held to establish the first owners of the car, as the response to purchase this car is phenomenal.

As many as 10,000 booking forms have already been sold in the tricity to prospective Nano buyers. It is estimated that over 1 lakh booking forms have been sold in Punjab in the past nine days since the Nano was officially unveiled in the city. It is learnt that 18 banks have come out to finance Nano.



18 polling booths increased
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Election Commission has decided to increase the polling booths and stations for the coming Lok Sabha elections. Earlier, the commission decided to install 404 polling booths and 171 polling stations, but now the polling booths have been increased to 422 and polling stations to 173.

This was said by Assistant Election Commissioner RK Rao at a standing committee meeting for code of conduct of various political parties held here yesterday.

The commission informed the political parties that they could set up their booths about 200 metre from the polling booths. As per the directions of the Elections Commission, this time, the political parties would not be allowed to set up tents outside the polling booths and only one table and two chairs would be allowed.

Representatives of various political parties objected to the move of the commission because on May 13 when the polling is scheduled for the Chandigarh seat, the weather would be hot and it would not be possible to sit without tents for the whole day. Rao assured the parties that he would take up this grievance with the Election Commission of India.

The commission also informed the political parties that this time they would have to pay service tax for putting up their booths.

As many member of the standing committee belonging to various political parties did not attend the meeting, it was decided that the commission would ask the parties to send their substitute names who would represent them in the committee meeting.

The BJP objected that the commission had not taken any action against the Congress for removing flags at various places in the city.



Book on Asian security scenario released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
“Flashpoints in South Asia”, authored by Major-General Rajendra Nath (retired) and Lt Col KS Ludra (retired) was released by former Chief of the Army Staff Gen VP Malik here today.

The book essentially seeks to emphasise and expand upon the fact that in the 21st century three Asian countries, India, Japan and China, along with a fourth closely located nation, Russia, would be among the major players on the global stage. Issues include the need for defence reforms in India.

General Rajendra Nath said the mutual relationship among these countries and the impact on security issues would largely depend upon a host of factors, including the state of their economies, their ambition in projecting their military and economic prowess, their alliances, ability to tackle terrorism and their individual relationship with the USA and Europe.

The maximum number of conflicts since World War II have been fought in Asia and issues relating to countries located along the southern Asiatic arc from Israel to Japan have been analysed.

Published by Lancer, New Delhi, the book has a foreword by Prof Brahma Chellany, a strategic affairs expert. This is General Nath’s fourth book, while Colonel Ludra, who passed away last year, had authored 21 publications.



Bike thieves’ gang busted, cop held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The police today busted a gang of vehicle thieves involving a Chandigarh Police constable and claimed to have recovered nine stolen motorcycles from their possession.

Addressing mediapersons, DSP (Crime) KIP Singh and DSP (South) Jaswant Singh Khaira said the Uttar Pradesh Police arrested Nirmal Singh and Varinder Singh of Burail. They had gone there to sell stolen motorcycles.

The police brought them on production warrant on April 4 and a local court remanded them to one-day police custody. The police said during interrogation they revealed names of their gang members. The police arrested Sukhchain Singh of Faridkot, working as a guard at the IT Park, Tejinder Singh, a fireman at IT park, and constable Amrinder Singh. The constable was posted in wireless unit of the Industrial Area police station.

Disclosing their modus operandi, the accused said they stole motorcycle from Sukhna Lake, underground parking lots and IT park by using master keys. They used to keep the motorcycles at Kishangarh village where they had taken a house on rent. They started stealing motorcycle three-four months ago and were yet to start selling these.

The accused Nirmal and Varinder had been sent to judicial custody while Sukhchain, Tejinderpal and Amrinder are in the police custody till April 10. The police claimed to have solved seven cases of theft with their arrest.



‘Stress, fast-paced life can cause thyroid problems’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
A noted endocrinologist from the Mumbai-based Predictive Group of Homoeopathy, Dr Bandish Ambani, today cautioned the people against changing lifestyle and stress of fast-paced urban life as these led to thyroid problems.

Ambani, who was here to conduct one-day special clinic for patients suffering from thyroid-related ailments, said the complaints of infertility among women were primarily due to thyroid disturbances. The problem of thyroid can be solved by creating more awareness about the disease.

In homeopathy the approach is to stimulate the bodies on thyroid gland to produce normal thyroid harmones according to individual's requirements. Meanwhile, over 50 patients were diagnosed at the camp organised at Homoeocare here today.



‘Students in metros losing interest in science’
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 9
Students in the metros were increasingly losing interest to learn science and were rather opting for lucrative career options. Due to the disturbing trend, there was a need to inculcate scientific temper among the students in the semi-urban and rural areas across the country, Prof CNR Rao, Chairman, Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister said.

Talking on the sidelines of an interaction programme with school students ‘Learning science’, Rao said it was a disturbing trend and none of the Indian cities could today produce a ‘thinking man’ and due to family pressure, more and more students were running after IT and other lucrative career options.

“After travelling to different remote cities, I have come to the conclusion that real talent lies in rural India. Students in rural areas show more keenness to learn science”, he said adding that even the scientists were keeping themselves away from the area.

He further disclosed that to promote research and developmental activities in the area of science, a National Science and Engineering foundation would be set up and it would have a budget of Rs 4,000 crore. A Bill in this regard has already been passed in Parliament.

Earlier, Rao held an interactive session with students of 50 schools of the tri-city and gave a lecture on” Learning Science” at Shivalik Public School, Phase 6, Mohali. The session opened with a recollection of the stories of a few scientists whose anniversaries or centenaries were being celebrated now. The lecture took the audience through the birth of modern science and its progress starting from the last century to the present time.

The concept of atom and molecules and the inter-atomic bondings. He then gave some glimpses about the latest development in science. This was followed by a multimedia presentation explaining the various concepts and applications of Science.

The Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali organised the event, in collaboration with the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore.



Mohali youth drowns in NZ
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 9
Rajdeep Singh, a 25-year-old youth of Sector 71, was drowned at Peha beach in Auckland, New Zealand. The victim had gone to New Zealand on February 16 to pursue a course in bakery at the Auckland University of Technology. The victim was the only child of his parents.

According to college authorities, the victim, along with his colleagues, had gone on an excursion trip to the beach on April 4, when he slipped while climbing “line rock” and fell in to the sea. He was pulled out of the waters by rescue guards when an alarm was raised by victim’s friends. But he could not survive. His birthday also falls on April 4.

He was airlifted to a nearby hospital, but was declared brought dead by the doctors. Family members of the victim said it was fifth such incident at the beach. The authorities concerned had taken no preventive step and college authorities also had not bothered to enquire before sending the students.

Victim’s friend Amandeep gave information about the incident to the family over the phone. The victim’s father had retired from a bank and his mother, Harpreet Kaur, is working as music teacher at Government High School, Landran.

The last rites of the mortal remains of Rajdeep will be performed on April 11 after the body reaches at Delhi on April 10.



One more laptop stolen at PU
Students claim illegal lodging a reason for thefts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
In a sheer mockery of Panjab University’s tall claims of apt security, one more laptop was stolen from the boys hostel number 7 today.

The theft that is sixth in number this month took place in the exact manner as its predecessors.

“My room was locked when I left for my class. Even the cupboard that had my laptop was locked but when I came back I found both the locks missing along with my laptop,” said Jitender, a IIIrd year student of UIET.

But more than thefts what is more disturbing is the attitude of authorities that promise to look into the matter every time.“Our warden is down with fever and when contacted has asked us to give in written and he will forward it to the DSW. This is the sixth incident but no headway has been made so far. What are we being charged for if the university cannot ensure us security,” asserted another student.

Meanwhile, many students consider illegal lodging of outsiders a major reason for these thefts. Surprisingly, while such lodging remains an open secret, the university is yet to take an action.



Shergill is SDM (Central)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
P.S. Shergill, Divisional Manager, Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU), has been posted as SDM (Central) along with the additional charge of ADC and CEO of the Zila Parishad with immediate effect.

M.L. Sharma is new Divisional Manager of the CTU in place of Shergill. Orders have been issued by the UT Administrator with the approval of the Election Commission.



22-yr-old crushed under train
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 9
Talking on a mobile phone while crossing a railway track proved fatal for a youth when he reportedly could not notice a train coming towards him. The deceased has been identified as Subhash (22), a security guard posted at the Sector 12-A residence of Parliamentary Secretary Ram Kishan Gujjar. He was returning from Sector 19 after meeting his friends when the incident occurred.

It was presumed that Subhash was busy in conversation over phone and was crushed under the train. He belonged to Rohtak district in Haryana and was scheduled to marry next month.



From Schools & Colleges
Talk on media delivered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Swaraaj Chauhan, a senior journalist with the BBC World Trust (India office), delivered a talk on ethical concern over today’s media organised at Chitkara School of Mass Communication.

He said the people did not understand the importance of being a citizen of a democratic society as they had not experienced dictatorship. He said the press was given the privilege of being fourth estate of the democracy to act as a watchdog for the other three estates.

Annual day

Kendriya Vidyalaya OCF, Sector 29, celebrated its annual day on the school premises. Rajinder Kumar, general manager, OCF, and chairperson, VMC, and UN Khaware, assistant commissioner, KVS (CR), presided over the function. Sumita Khaware gave away the prizes. The function began with Saraswati Vandana. Tiny tots presented a dance. English and Hindi plays conveyed message to the society. A fashion parade was also organised.



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