C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Day 4
Auto drivers threaten to block roads
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Even after three days, the deadlock between autorickshaw drivers and the UT administration continued and residents had a harrowing time following the ongoing strike.

Hundreds of schoolchildren, patients and commuters have been forced to take alternative modes of transport since the strike began.

The STA authorities today asked the SSP to provide immediate help to drivers of LPG-run autorickshaw who claimed to have been harassed by the other drivers. The police has said any driver could dial 100 for assistance.

The announcement came following a meeting of a delegation of nearly 100 drivers with the STA authorities today. They told the authorities that they were not a part of the ongoing stir and alleged that other autorickshaw drivers were deflating their tyres and forcing them not to ply their vehicles.

Meanwhile, the joint action committee of the Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula autorickshaw drivers seems to be in no mood to relent. They have threatened to intensify their stir.

Around 70 office-bearers of the committee deliberated for nearly two hours and decided to continue with the strike.

Members of the committee were of the view that at a time when their own family members and children were using alternative means of transport, they could not think of anyone, but their cause.

Alleging that the UT administration was not taking the matter seriously, Kamla Kant, chairman of the committee, said every time they met officials, they were only given assurances. “We have had enough. We won’t stop until our demands are met,” he added.

They also threatened that they would be forced to block roads if the administration did not deal with the matter on priority basis.

Meanwhile, 18 drivers who were arrested yesterday for damaging a Haryana Roadways bus have got judicial remand for 14 days.


Registration of LPG autos banned
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 16
While assuring the Chandigarh administration that all Mohali-based auto-rickshaws, operating between Chandigarh and Mohali, will switch over to LPG and CNG by August 31, the Punjab Government has failed to withdraw its own order banning registration of LPG run three-wheelers.

As a result, the LPG driven autos cannot be registered with the district transport authorities at Mohali. Only petrol and diesel driven three-wheelers are being registered here. Transport officials admit that the ban still continued, as the state transport department had not withdrawn the five-month old letter.

A few LPG-run auto-rickshaws were registered in November, a year before the state transport department directed the district transport authority not to register such vehicles. Only the transport authorities at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala have been given permission to register LPG vehicles. Due to the absence of LPG filling stations, there was pilferage of domestic LPG as there was difference in the price of auto LPG and the domestic LPG.

While there was no filling station in Mohali, there were two filling stations in Chandigarh. “It was ironical that LPG-run autos were being registered in Chandigarh, the facility was not extended to Mohali, despite the fact that autos ply in the tricity. Now the issue of UT banning the entry of non-LPG autos has again highlighted the issue,” said Rajinder Singh, an auto operator.

Meanwhile, the local transport authorities have advised the auto operators to run their vehicles within the city. But the strike is continuing as no agreement has been reached between the authorities and auto-rickshaw operators. Nishan Singh, a member of the auto-rickshaw operators’ association, said despite the four month extension, they were not taking their autos to Chandigarh.



Smouldering Tinderbox-II
Furniture markets fail to learn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Two major fires in furniture markets in the past nine years and the recent blaze in Sector 22 seem to have failed to wake up the administration from its slumber and spare a thought for the safety of occupants.

Furniture hubs near Sectors 52-53, 42 and 34 have yet to learn a lesson from the past and continue to flout even the basic fire safety norms.

After a recent fire in the Sector 53 furniture market that gutted around eight shops, the MC had assured of instant installation of fire safety equipment, besides dealing with encroachments, etc. However, nothing has been done so far.

These shops continue to draw power from kundi connections and have even installed generators. Most fires that broke out in these markets were due to short circuit and the wiring here is susceptible to it. Even as material like wood and foam are stocked here, fire extinguishers or a sand bucket are practically non-existent.

“We can’t do much about it. The furniture has to be dried in the open after polishing it. We know that the wiring is faulty, but we can’t do much in this illegal shed. We were promised a relocation, but are still waiting for it,” a shopkeeper in the Sector 52-53 market said.

According to an MC official, repeated communication by the MC to the administration to remove illegal furniture markets had failed to yield any result. And shopkeepers’ demand for an alternative site had also been hanging fire.

For the other markets, there seems to be lack of awareness in most cases. “The department has never cared to make us aware of the norms and safety equipment,” Shyam Lal, president of the UT furniture association, claimed.

However, SK Gosain, Station Fire Officer, rubbished the claims, saying that if two major fires had failed to make them aware of their own safety, then the department could do nothing. “We repeatedly warn them against lose wiring, generators, cutters, etc. but it’s of no use really,” he added.

Mockery of a fire drill
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The so-called “mock drill” conducted by the UT fire department in Shastri Market, Sector 22, this evening turned out to be a sham.
An open space covered with tin sheets in Shastri Market, Sector 22, Chandigarh. The wall on the right was cleared of encroachment before the visit of the fire department officials, while corridors were cleared by shopkeepers before the drill.
An open space covered with tin sheets in Shastri Market, Sector 22, Chandigarh. The wall on the right was cleared of encroachment before the visit of the fire department officials, while corridors were cleared by shopkeepers before the drill. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Not only did the exercise lack the vital element of surprise, which could have truly assessed the response time of the various agencies involved in such eventuality, it was stage-managed — the parking lot was cleared in advance to make way for the tenders, encroachments were removed and shopkeepers were all willing to help.

No wonder, the fire tenders reached the scene within “four” minutes from the Sector-17 station and in “six and half minutes” from Sector 38.

In contrast, in real-life situation last week when a fire broke out in the Sector-22 B market, barely half a kilometer away from the Sector-17 fire station, the tenders reportedly reached after 20 minutes and had a harrowing time finding passage through the haphazardly parked vehicles in the parking lot.

It was a drill conducted in hypothetical circumstances, not close to real-time situations as experienced in the market on any other day.

The encroachers, who were apparently aware of the exercise, had cleared their goods from the narrow corridors and vehicles in the parking lot were lined up in a systematic manner.

However, the drill did display a strong bond of cooperation between officials and shopkeepers.

The drill started at 5 pm and the department called mediapersons to cover the event.

In spite of neat parking lots, fire tenders had to face hardship in making their way through traffic.

DSP (traffic) Jasbir Singh Cheema said fire tenders reached the scene well in time.

However, eyewitnesses were surprised at the reaction time of fire-tenders, even as drivers claimed that they did not get any red signal on their way and there as was no traffic on their way.

Officials instructed shopkeepers to remove violations. They issued warnings while marker president SS Arora assured that violations would be removed from tomorrow.

He, however, rued that in spite of numerous requests, the administration had not changed loose wiring in the market, forcing them to spend money from their own pockets.

However, soon after the drill, shopkeepers and encroachers were back in business, as they began putting their wares in the corridors.

The corridors were choked with goods, while garment vendors put their ware on overhanging lines.

To make the matters worse, tea vendors and fast-food shops using LPG cylinders were surrounded by garment shops.

Also, the open spaces left among the shops for ventilation were covered with tin and plastic sheets.

A visitor said certain shopkeepers had given the wall of their shops on rent for Rs 300 per day.

The fire department officials later went to inspect the Sector 15 and 19 markets and directed fire tenders to go back to their fire stations.



Cheating also goes hi-tech
UBS student barred from examination
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
A third semester student of University Business School (UBS) has been barred from appearing in his final examinations for establishing a new milestone in hi-tech cheating.

The decision that came following an inquiry and two hearings, is being considered to be a lesson for those who think they can outsmart invigilators and get away with cheating.

“The student was using his mobile phone to look up answers. The phone was GPRS activated and he was receiving answers through an online chat portal,” an official of the UMC committee said.

According to some unconfirmed reports, the student had already been placed with a reputed firm. “There are rumours that he had already got his placement and this foolish act of his has ruined everything. The method used by him is surprising and it is time we gear ourselves to check the use of such hi-tech means of cheating,” a faculty member of University Business School said.

Two other students from the same semester have also been reportedly punished along with two other students of the law department.



7-yr-old girl killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 16
A seven-year-old child died while another was seriously injured when a Tata 407 collided head-on with an autorickshaw on the Panchkula-Pinjore road here today.

An autorickshaw driver who was injured in an accident near Panchkula on Thursday. A seven-year-old girl was killed in the accident.
An autorickshaw driver who was injured in an accident near Panchkula on Thursday. A seven-year-old girl was killed in the accident. A Tribune photograph

The deceased has been identified as Puja, daughter of a labourer, Rupam Chaudhary. The auto driver, Trilocahan, was injured and has been admitted to the General Hospital here.

Rupam, who was sitting in the auto with his daughter, escaped with minor injuries. A resident of Amravati Enclave, Rupam said he was going to the railway station to board a train for his village in Bihar. His wife and three other children had already left for Bihar. Puja fell from the auto during the collision.

The driver of the Tata 407 fled the spot after the accident.



3 brothers get life term for murder
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 16
Additional District and Sessions Judge Sanjiv Jindal today sentenced six persons, including three brothers, to life term for killing a 50-year-old resident of Bataud village at Barwala.

Public prosecutor NK Goel said Satpal, Karnail and Sandeep, all brothers, along with their relatives Ashok, Brijpal and Ramkaran were declared guilty under Sections 302, 148, 149 and 323 of the IPC. A fine of Rs 17,000 was also imposed on them, failing which they would have to undergo additional imprisonment of two-and-a-half-years.

Satpal, Karnail and Sandeep are sons of Ratan Lal while Ramkaran was the grandson of Ratan Lal. Ashok is the son of Karnail. An old feud was the motive behind the killing.

The incident took place on December 11, 2005, when the accused attacked Satpal, son of Aflatoon in the fields of Bataud village when his family members were away to attend a marriage. Satpal ran towards his house, where his two nephews Avneesh and Sanjiv were present. The accused attacked them with sharp-edged weapons and injured all three. Satpal later succumbed to his injuries.

The five other accused -- Prem Chand, Tej Pal, Mehar Singh, Shashi Pal and Amit -- were acquitted by the court.


Provide details of black money to Prez: Cong to BJP
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Ridiculing BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani for raking up the issue of black money in Swiss banks for diverting people’s attention, the Congress today dared the saffron party to provide details about the unaccounted money stashed in tax havens to the President.

“The Hindu fundamentalist party is raking up the issue during the elections to hide its shortcomings and divert people’s attention from real issues,” Congress spokesman and Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said, asking Advani to submit an affidavit to the President, giving all details about the black money allegedly deposited by unscrupulous businessmen, politicians and bureaucrats.

Accusing the BJP of dividing the country on religion and region basis and lacking any national agenda, the Congress spokesman claimed that only the Congress could provide a stable and secular government in the country after the ongoing elections to the 15th Lok Sabha.

The BJP is in a state of disarray and its top leaders’ “unwarranted and unwanted” attacks on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has demonstrated their lack of foresight and inability to lead the country, Sharma said while addressing a press conference here today.

Exuding confidence that the Congress would form the next government, the Congress spokesman asserted that the BJP was desperately trying raise “non-issues” as a last-ditch efforts to divert people’s attention.The Congress was seeking another mandate for stability and carrying forward the uniform development undertaken in the past five years under the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said.

Answering a question on UPA government’s alleged reluctance in getting back the black money from the Swiss accounts, the Congress claimed that the Money Laundering Act would go a long way in breaking nexus between criminals and those laundering money.



Private firms offer gates for residents’ security
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 16
Three private firms have expressed interest in installing gates in residential areas to check theft of vehicles that has increased recently.

Tenders were floated by the Municipal Council to invite open offers from interested parties for the installation of gates in various parts of the town after the director, local government, had stayed the proposal of the civic body according to which Rs 66 lakh was to be spent on installing gates.

The private parties will put up these gates free of cost but will be displaying their advertisements for which a licence fee will be paid to the civic body.

Sources said the three firms that have shown interest are Inititaive Outdoor Media Services, Outdoor Communications and Selvel Media Services. While, the company that took the initiative has asked the council to allow it to put up advertisements for eight years on the gates and it would pay Rs 65,000 as licence fee, However, Outdoor wanted a ten year period and was offering Rs 55,000 as licence fee. Selvel was ready to put up 39 gates and made an offer of Rs 1.15 lakh as licence fee for displaying advertisements for six years.

To ensure the security of residents, particularly the elderly, the police and the council had drawn up an ambitious plan to fix security gates to restrict the movement of criminal elements.

The proposal was presented at the meeting of the civic body held on December 30 and unanimously cleared by the House. However, the proposal was stayed by the director, local government, who asked the council to look for private parties which were ready to install gates and construct cabins at their own level provided they were allowed to display advertisements.

The plan to put up gates was discussed at length by SSP Jatinder Singh Aulakh at a meeting.

As per the plan these gates were to be closed at night leaving one gate open which would be manned by a security guard. The security guard would be deployed after carrying out his police verification.

SSP said the theft of vehicles had increased over the past two months and with the installation of gates these thefts would be controlled to a large extent. He urged residents to make use of gear locks in order to check the theft of four wheelers.



Employee misbehaves with SMO
Apologises for conduct
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 16
The SMO in charge of ESI Hospital, Phase VII, the Industrial Area, complained to the police here yesterday that an employee had misbehaved with him.

The police said Jagdish Chand, the employee, had been transferred from the hospital. He had approached the SMO on Tuesday to get some documents signed for the release of his pending dues. The SMO had alleged that Jagdish had abused him when he had asked him to wait for sometime as he was attending to patients. Jagdish on the other hand had alleged that the doctor manhandled him.

The police got a medical examination done of the employee after which it was found that the employee was levelling baseless allegations against the doctor.

According to the police, a compromise was struck after the employee apologised for his behaviour.



Ex-servicemen back BJP
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 16
With elections around the corner, the Indian ex- servicemen movement has decided to throw their weight behind SAD-BJP.

In a statement issued here, the Indian ex- servicemen movement has announced that after due deliberations, it was decided that the Congress had not fulfilled its promises nor contacted the ex-servicemen association for support.

Lt Col SS Sohi (retd), co-ordinator of the Punjab league of the Indian ex-servicemen movement, said on the other hand the BJP had promised to implement one-rank-one-pension and exemption from Income tax. It was decided to support BJP, so that their maximum Member of Parliament (MPs) reach parliament to support the cause of the ex-servicemen.

In an election related policy, the ex-servicemen were advised to decide among themselves where they wanted to field their own candidate for the Lok Sabha polls. At each Constituency level, the local leaders would decide on the way to support the candidate. “We must respect and help the political parties that have supported our cause and defeat those who didn’t pay heed to our demands,” said Lt Col SS Sohi.



Maid’s Death
Kin skip protest, cremate body
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 16
The family of Pushpa who was found dead under mysterious circumstances cremated her body here today. The family however, dropped the plan to protests with the body of the girl. The body of Pushpa was lying on a pavement near jhuggi of family after it was handed over to them following the post-mortem was conducted yesterday evening.

Meanwhile, it was decided that pathological sample of the body would be sent to the PGI, Rohtak, while forensic and chemical samples would be sent to CFSL, Madhuban.

The police sources said, the questioning of Seth family at whose house Pushpa was found dead in the bathroom was continued today also. The police was also examining the tower locations of mobile phones with Vikas Seth. The wife of Seth, claimed that Vikas had left the house for Delhi before the body was found.



FR Scam
Anticipatory bail for Kewal Dhillon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The CBI’s Special Court of Jagdeep Jain today granted anticipatory bail to Kewal Dhillon in the Rs 5.36-crore Fun Republic scam. The court granted bail on furnishing bail bonds of Rs 50,000.

The CBI had registered a case against Sub-Divisional Officer TP Singh, assistant engineer Sandeep Sharma and office superintendent Brij Mohan.

It has prepared a detailed chargesheet against all five accused in the Rs 5.36-crore Fun Republic scam and sought sanction to prosecute the three UT administration officials.

Proprietor of E-City Entertainment Company Anup Goyal and land owner Kewal Singh Dhillon found a mention in it. Dhillon is also a Congress MLA.

They added that the agency had found no proof of Deputy Commissioner RK Rao, his predecessor Arun Kumar or former DPI (S) SK Setia’s direct involvement in the scam and had decided to consider them as witnesses.

The scam had come to light in 2007 when the CBI detected building violations at Fun Republic multiplex in Mani Majra and started an independent inquiry.

Later, the municipal corporation also found problems there. The CBI had registered a case of causing losses to government through building violations and misusing public posts.



IAF exercise disrupts air traffic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Hundreds of passengers were put to inconvenience today as almost all flights from Delhi and Mumbai, including the Chandigarh-Mumbai (Go Air) flight and Delhi-Chandigarh and Chandigarh-Mumbai (Kingfisher), were delayed due to an Indian Air Force (IAF) exercise. The flight of Anand Sharma, Minister of State for External Affairs and Congress spokesperson, was also reportedly sent back owing to the exercise.

According to sources, airlines failed to pay heed to the prior notice issued by the Delhi office of the Director General Civil Aviation due to which inconvenience was caused.

“The notice had been served about the exercise jointly by the Airports Authority of India and Director-General, Civil Aviation, Delhi. If there was any harassment to passengers, it is the negligence on part of the respective airlines, which should have checked with the authorities,” Said an Air Force official. The flights scheduled between 11 am and 1 pm were delayed by two hours and newly launched flight from Chandigarh to Goa of the Go Air was cancelled. The exercise will continue till 12 noon on April 17.



2 patients suffer electric shock

Chandigarh, April 16
Two women patients in the gynaecology ward of the PGI suffered electric shock after they came in contact with a naked wire here today. The victims, Sapna Sood of Mani Majra, and Harjot of Mohali, had to be admitted to the emergency wing.

Sources said an electricity wire came in contact with the bedding of the patients after someone tampered with a power socket. Sapna had recently delivered a baby and the other patient had been admitted following a miscarriage. The PGI authorities are probing the matter. — TNS



Religious films to mark Baisakhi fest
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 16
With a view to inculcating moral values among youngsters, a Baisakhi festival of religious films is being organised at the Punjab Kala Bhavan on April 18 from 10 am onwards.

The festival is being organised by the International Sikh Nari Manch and Sikh Missionary College in collaboration with the Punjab Arts Council. Council chairperson Harjinder Kaur disclosed that short feature films would include Sunny-The Proud Sikh, Sahibjaade, Kambadi Kalai, Amar Khalsa, Kab Gal Lavenga, Sat Sri Akal, Panj Kahanian and Mai Bhago.



Misuse of water
Notice to 86 violators
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Within two days of starting the ban on misuse of water in the morning hours, the municipal corporation has issued 86 notices to violators across the city. The corporation imposed a ban on irrigating lawns and washing cars and courtyards from 5:30 am to 8:30 am from today.

The authorities constituted 14 teams headed by SDO and 48 JEs to check the misuse of water during morning hours.

Residents would be issued notices at the first instance. If violation is repeated, the violators will be issued challans and a fine of Rs 500 will be imposed.

The fine will be recovered along with the water bill by the MC. In case of a third violation, the water connection of the resident will be disconnected.

Besides, misuse of potable water for watering lawns and washing cars by using plastic or booster pumps from the main supply line will also entail notice from the MC. The booster pumps will also be confiscated.



Disaster management symposium begins today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
To discuss the role of information technology in disaster management and counter terrorism, a two-day symposium is being organised by the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers (IETE) in collaboration with the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) here tomorrow.

Hayrana Governor Dr AR Kidwai would inaugurate the symposium, while B Bhattacharjee, member, Disaster Management Authority, would be the guest of honour. The 36th Vikram Sarabhai Memorial lecture would be delivered on the occasion by Dr KR Sridhara Murthi from ISRO’s Antrix Corporation.

IETE president Lt Gen Ashok Agarwal (retd) said modern communication technologies, natural and man-made disasters, data networks, security and encryption devises were among topics on which papers would be presented.

About 60 delegates from all over the country are expected to attend the symposium. 



NASA scientists at Mohali schools
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 16
Under the ‘Cloud Set Education Network Programme’ being run by the US-based National Aeronautical Science Academy (NASA) through the Kolarado University, scientists of NASA visited Shastri Model School, Phase 1, and Paragon School, Sector 71, here today.

Three scientists Nandini, Methew Rogers and West Ven gave a presentation to the students who have been engaged with the project. One of the scientists said four schools, both in Mohali and Jalandhar, had been associated with the project.

They further told the students that Cloud Set was a satellite launched by the NASA that recorded changes in weather and examined composition of different types of clouds.

So far, 11 countries have been associated with the project, they said.



From Schools & Colleges
PEC third in Moonbuggy Race
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Punjab Engineering College team has covered the Simulated Lunar Surface at the US Space and Rocket Centre, Huntsville, Alabama.

The team, Kalpana, was formed to represent the college at the Great Moonbuggy Race-2009 in the memory of its alumni NASA astronaut Kalpana Chawla.

The team comprised Apoorv Devgan, Khagesh Kaushal, Akash Joshi, Arjun Tuteja, Sahib Singh and Kismat Virk.

The team stood third among International universities, fourth among Rookies and bagged the 14th overall position.

Bachelors programme

Forth Valley College, Scotland, is all set to start its Bachelors Degree in Media Communication in India in collaboration with global education service provider Pathfinder. The three-year programme will be run by the collaboration of Kazembe Consultancy and Pathfinder Edutech, where Pathfinder would be investing in infrastructure, conducting classes etc. The students will complete their first year in India and two years in Scotland.

Annual day

ZIRAKPUR: Kendriya Vidyalaya, K. Area, Zirakpur, celebrated the annual day on Wednesday. Commander Headquarters, 474-Engineer Brigade, Brig Manoj Pande was the chief guest on the occasion. School principal Dr Shalini Dixit presented the annual report of the school while Brig’s wife Archana Pande distributed the prizes to the meritorious students. — TNS



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