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Auto drivers call off strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The joint action committee of autorickshaw drivers of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula today withdrew the strike and started picking up passengers in the evening.

Meanwhile, to meet its deadline of August 31 for phasing out old petrol and diesel operated autorickshaws, the Chandigarh administration has set up a screening committee to monitor the process and enable auto operators to switch over to LPG-run autos.

The committee was formed during a meeting between administration officials and representatives of auto operators under the chairmanship of Home Secretary Ram Niwas here today.

The State Transport Authority (STA) has been asked to study the Delhi and West Bengal pattern according to which the old diesel and petrol operated autos have been phased out.

The Delhi government had introduced a buy-back and easy loan facility for new CNG autos. But Ram Niwas clarified that the administration had not yet decided to follow the buy-back scheme, but would provide loan on easy terms. “The auto operators can contact manufacturers or dealers on their own to ask for such schemes,” he said.

The administration has given its nod to the Delhi Financial Corporation for providing easy loans for the new LPG autos. “An LPG auto costs around Rs 1.22 lakh. The loan amount could be up to Rs 1 lakh. If the depreciation of the old autos was calculated to be between Rs 15,000 and Rs 20,000, the auto operator would have to bear a few thousands from his pocket. Even the loan amount on the discarded auto can be adjusted by the bank, subject to certain conditions,” an official of an autorickshaw manufacturing company said.

The administration has entered into an interstate reciprocal agreement with Punjab and Haryana, wherein 500 LPG-run autos would be allowed to enter Chandigarh and vice versa.

There are 746 diesel/petrol-run autos and 171 LPG autos registered with Chandigarh, which has been sanctioned around 2,500 autos.

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GMADA notifies wrong site
An expert committee constituted by the Punjab government to finalise the technology for the landfill site has found the notified land unsuitable for the project
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 17
Revenue officials of GMADA have “wrongly” notified 26 acres, other than the site earlier identified for a landfill in Sector 102-A, here. Notices under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act have already been issued by GMADA. The land falls in Dairi and Durali villages.

Further complicating the matter, an expert committee constituted by the Punjab government to finalise the technology for the landfill site has found the notified land unsuitable for the project.

GMADA has been advised to get environment clearance before proceeding further. It has given an undertaking in the High Court regarding the new site.

Sources said during a recent visit to the site, members of the expert committee found that environment clearance for the site was required as there was possibility of flooding as a seasonal rivulet passed through the area.

The site located at a distance from the notified site was free of such encumbrances. The possibility of revenue officials not physically verifying the status of the land to benefit landowners could not be ruled out, sources said.

Earlier, GMADA had reduced the size of the proposed solid water treatment plant from 76 acres to 26 acres. Against the chunks of land identified at Chaunmajra, Dardi and Darali villages, 26 acres are now being acquired only at Dairi and Durali villages.

Due to high land acquisition prices, particularly after the payment of Rs 1.5 crore an acre for the land acquired for the proposed international airport, GMADA officials were wary of unnecessary “spending” on acquiring 76 acres for the project.

Since the immediate requirement for the landfill site was 26 acres, a notice under Section 6 under the Land Acquisition Act has been issued. GMADA had been taking the project on priority as the existing dumping site in the Industrial Area has attracted litigation.

The expert committee, headed by housing secretary Arun Goel and comprising officials from the science and technology department, Pollution Control Board, GMADA and the MC, had been constituted to monitor the project.

At present, the garbage of the township is dumped in a densely-populated area surrounded by industrial units, mega projects like Quark Media and Dell Computers and Punjab’s touted special economic zone Quark City, besides residential areas.

The residential welfare society of the PSIEC Housing Complex at the Focal Point claimed that the garbage was being dumped against rules.

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Smouldering Tinderbox-III
Fire risk high in Sectors 7, 26 market
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Illegal construction in the backyard of SCOs and SCFs of Sectors 26 and 7 has added to the fire threat since fire safety measures are missing here.

The material is stored in the backyard in bulk and the outlets are congested. This belt seems to be high on the fire-prone list. To top it all, the construction has been done without considering any fire safety measures.

Two major fires in this area in the past where a hotel and the basement of a furniture shop turned into an inferno, has done little to deter violators.

Various outlets in the area, including car service stations, extension counters of restaurants, plywood and other shops, have been built without any thought to fire safety.

Even as the matter of need-based changes and amendments to rules in these showrooms is under consideration of the administration, most SCOs and SCFs have some construction in the backyard either partially or fully.

The fire department has sent specifications in case of approval of construction in the backyards in these sectors. These include proper ventilation of the staircase, first aid fire-fighting equipment, provision for at least two staircase in opposite directions in the basement and no-objection certificate from the CFO to be acquired after every three years, among others.

“The most important point to be considered is the inclusion of a staircase at the rear and two staircases in the opposite directions in the basement so that in case of a fire, we can avoid severe damage,” SK Gosain, Station Fire Officer, said.

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Woman killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Minakshi (52), a gardner with the UT horticulture department, was killed after a car knocked her scooter down in Sector 32 here this evening. Her son who was driving the scooter escaped with minor injuries.

According to the police, the mishap occurred when a Maruti car driven by SK Sood of Sector 23 rammed into the scooter from the rear. The victim and her son fell on the road and Minakshi suffered severe head injuries. She was rushed to the Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital, where she was declared brought dead. The condition of her son is reported to be stable.

The victim, a resident of Bapu Dham Colony, was on her way to office to enquire about her dearness allowance. The police has arrested Sood on the charges of causing death due to rash and negligent driving.

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Poll Violence
IB to brief police
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
In the backdrop of violence during the first phase of the Lok Sabha polls yesterday, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Chandigarh and Punjab police would hold a special meeting to assess the threat perception during the forthcoming polls in Punjab and the UT.

Sources in the police said the meeting would be held on April 20 and IB officials would share intelligence reports with the police. The officials would discuss sensitive areas and ways to check violence to ensure free and fair elections.

The police has identified three more sensitive booths after the Election Commission increased the number of booths from 404 to 422 in the city. The police has also forwarded a proposal to the home ministry for seeking mobile phones for Station House Officers (SHOs) for better connectivity.

The SSP, SS Srivastva, said they had sent the proposal after the visit of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram regarding the modernisation of the force, speeding up the process of the Indian Reserve Battalion and improving connectivity in the force.

He said the minister had proposed to provide mobile phones to officers of DSP and Inspector ranks. They had also included police post in charge to improve connectivity.

The SSP said they had already initiated certain modernisation schemes and requested the ministry to expedite those. About the preparation for the elections, he said they had begun to scrutinise the list of bad characters, especially those involved in poll-related violence and would shortlist the names to take appropriate action against them.

The police would also start the process of identifying persons with weapons. Their antecedents would be verified and the threat perception to their lives assessed before asking them to deposit the weapons with the police.

The sources said as per rules, the orders were issued within a week of the withdrawal of nomination, which was April 27 . The police was likely to start the process by April 30 to avoid hassles at a later stage. It would also identify gun houses and ask them to follow guidelines.

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Retracing roots
Tribune News Service

Aatish Taseer at the release of his book in Chandigarh
Aatish Taseer at the release of his book in Chandigarh on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, April 17
The idea of Islam being a unifying factor for Muslim countries seems to be a fantasy, author Aatish Taseer stated during the release of his maiden book, “Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands”, here today.

Part memoir, part reportage and travelogue, the book was released by Justice Kamal Grewal. The book captures world’s many-layered relationship with Islam and throws up the question: What does it mean to be a young Muslim in the 25th century?

Journalist-turned-writer Aatish, who travelled for eight months to Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran, later visited Pakistan, where his estranged father lives. “Pakistan itself ended up straying from the history,” Aatish said while answering a query on the origin of the title of the book.

The title derives its origin from the interaction of the author with an Iranian who said: “You cannot make a country if you make them stranger to the history.”

Appreciating the writer’s attempt, Justice Grewal said: “I find the book a classic case and a very enjoyable one. In my opinion anything that helps us understand our neighbour (Pakistan) must be read.”

The author read out excerpts from his book to readers who were waiting to get a signed copy of the book. On his future plans, he said he had just completed his next book called “The Temple Goers”.

According to reports, Aatish is the son of Punjab Governor Salman Taseer. He was raised by his Sikh mother, a noted journalist in Delhi. He crossed the border when he was 21 years old to meet his father and the relationship between them revived, but later fell apart.

For Aatish, tension was not simply confined to a son rediscovering his father, but also that he was an Indian while his father was a Pakistani and a Muslim. It had complicated their relationship.

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ISRO to bring in direct-to-cell phone multimedia
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is developing a multi-media mobile satellite system that will offer a satellite digital multimedia broadcasting (S-DMB) service through cellular phones and mobile audio-video receivers in vehicles.

Revealing this here today, Dr KR Sridhara Murthi, managing director of Antrix Corporation Limited, said satellite (GSAT-6), to be used for this venture, would be ready for launch in about a year’s time. Antrix is ISRO’s commercial arm, responsible for marketing IRSO’s products.

He said the cellular phones and mobile devises would require special chips, which were under development, to download signals directly from the satellite to provide multi-media programmes to subscribers.

The system is something on the lines of the popular direct-to-home TV.

The estimated cost of the GSAT-6 is about Rs 270 crore, with a foreign exchange component of over Rs 100 crore. The GSAT-6 would be part of the proposed state-of-the-art National Satellite System that would have strategic and social applications. The satellite would also provide a platform for developing technologies for future satellite-based mobile communication applications like large unfurlable antenna in spacecraft, handheld ground terminals and network management techniques.

Dr Murthi, who was here to deliver the Vikram Sarabhai Memorial Lecture at a seminar on “Information and communication technology for disaster management”, said in the post cold-war era technology, geo-politics and economic gains were the driving force behind the growing space commerce.

The space industry generated $123 billion in revenues globally, out of which $49 billion was from infrastructure elements like launch facilities and satellites.

With a growth rate of about 30 per cent, the Indian space industry today stands at one billion dollars. This includes government agencies as well and private players and half of their products are for the export market, he said.

Stating that products and data from the Indian space industry are being used by over 20 countries, including the US, Australia and China, Dr Murthy said there was a need to create alliances for marketing.

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No nomination papers filed on Day 1
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
No nomination papers were filed on the first day of filing of nomination papers for the lone Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat today.

According to sources in the election commission, 16 forms were sold today. Candidates of different parties were planning to start filing their nomination papers from tomorrow.

According to Pardeep Chabbra, a spokesperson for the Congress, Pawan Kumar Bansal is expected to file his nomination papers tomorrow at 11 am at the election commission office.

He said Bansal would be accompanied by Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president BB Bahl. Before going to file his papers, he will address a meeting at his residence.

Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) candidate Hafiz Anwar-ul-Haq is also planning to file his nomination papers tomorrow.

Haq said he would walk down from the residence of Rajinder Kishan, president of the Chandigarh unit of the RJD, to the election office in Sector 17 with his supporters to file his papers.

An Independent candidate, Surinder Pal Chauhan, is also planning to file his papers tomorrow.

As per the records of the election commission, during the last Lok Sabha elections, 17 candidates had filed their nomination papers from the city.

In 1980 elections, 39 candidates were in the fray, while the number declined to 33 in 1984 and went down even further, to 27, in 1989.

But in 1991, the number increased to 55 candidates, who filed their nomination papers.

In 1996 elections, the number again decreased to 48 and in 1998 Lok Sabha elections its came down to 18 candidates, whereas only 16 candidates filed nomination papers in 1999 elections.

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Round-up
Dhawan promises voters balanced rent Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
BSP candidate Harmohan Dhawan today promised a balanced rent Act to take care of the concerns of the tenants as well as landlords.

Addressing a meeting organised by Amarjeet Singh, BSP general secretary, at the Sector 22-B market here, Dhawan said double taxation would be done away with if he was elected to Parliament. Need-based changes in commercial buildings, abolition of “inspector raj” and simplification of sales tax assessments would be the other priorities of his party.

He promised that the penalty for need-based changes, which had gone up to Rs 500 per sq ft, would be rolled back.

Meanwhile, a rally was organised by the New Trade Union Initiative at Sector 17 in his support. Bhag Mal Rana and Chandra Shekhar, president and general secretary, respectively, of the union, pledged their support to him for his “pro-employee” track record.

BJP-JP tie-up

The central parliamentary board of the Janata Party has decided to extend support to Satya Pal Jain, BJP candidate. This was stated at a joint press conference by Jain and Ajay Jagga, president of the local unit of the Janata Party.

Jagga alleged that the Congress had failed to deliver on all fronts, including extension of lal dora, land acquisition and proper planning for the city.

Jain said instead of joining BJP prime ministerial candidate LK Advani in a debate, the Congress was trying to evade major issues and was objecting to Manmohan Singh being termed as a “weak” PM, terming it as denigration of the office of the Prime Minister.

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Star campaigners to descend on city
Sonia, Advani, Maya to address rallies

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Though city has only one parliamentary seat, it is high on the radar of star campaigners of the Congress, the BJP and the BSP.

In the run-up to May-13 elections, the three most sought-after campaigners of the country — AICC president Sonia Gandhi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate LK Advani and BSP supremo and UP Chief Minister Mayawati — will woo voters by holding rallies in the next few days.

While the BSP has taken a lead by inviting Mayawati to address a rally here on April 28, Sonia is scheduled to address a public meeting on April 30. Advani’s rally is planned for the first week of May.

In fact, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav’s schedule is also being finalised for the first week of the next month.

Since Chandigarh is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, besides being gateway to Himachal Pradesh, the parties’ rallies here will be organised to target the electorate of the region as a whole.

As Chandigarh is the largest media centre after New Delhi, the rallies will get wide publicity making the job of getting across a wider section of society easy, Pardeep Chhabra, media coordinator for Congress candidate Pawan Bansal, said.

Besides top leaders, Bollywood stars like Hema Malini and Dharmendra and Vinod Khanna, and senior party leaders Sushma Swaraj, Navjot Sidhu and Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri, will also canvass for the BJP.

The Congress and the BSP are also roping in top leaders to woo voters for the crucial May 13 poll.

A senior leader said the last week of April and the first week of May would be ideal time for leaders to visit the city, as they would be relatively free from the first two phases of polling.

Besides, rallies during the last week will leave a lasting impression on “indecisive” voters.

Sources said the cosmopolitan character of Chandigarh provided an ideal opportunity for mainline parties to draw maximum political mileage out of rallies here.

While political activists will be anxiously waiting to hear their leaders, security agencies’ worries may increase as at least three VVIPs enjoy Z+ security.

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400 EVMs kept at Shivalik school
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, April 17
After an anti-sabotage check of the premises by the police, as many as 400 EVMs for the town and Kharar sub-divisions, falling under the 6-Anandpur Sahib Parliamentary constituency, were kept at secure rooms in a school here today.

It was for the first time that the EVMs for the polling stations in Kharar sub-division were stored at Shivalik Public School, where the counting of votes would also be done for that area. In earlier elections, these used to be stored at a polytechnic in Khoonimajra.

The first-level randomisation of EVMs was done with the help of a computer in the presence of political party representatives. Later, these machines were kept under the charge of assistant returning officers concerned who would be solely responsible for security of the EVMs. In the evening, the EVMs were stored in two rooms in the Phase VI school amid tight security arrangements.

Earlier, one of the two rooms at Shivalik Public School, where these machines were to be stored was renovated for security reasons. All the ventilators of the room and one of the two doors were removed and the gaps were plugged with brick and mortar. The police carried out the anti-sabotage check last evening, after which both the rooms were locked and armed security guards were deployed at the premises for round-the-clock vigil.

Mohali Deputy Commissioner Prabhjot Singh Mand said voting would be carried out in two phases in the district. The Dera Bassi area of the district, which fell under the Patiala constituency, would go to poll on May 7, while elections in other areas of the Mohali district, which fell under the Anandpur Sahib constituency, would be held on May 13. The presiding and polling officers had been assigned their duties. The training of the poll staff for the Dera Bassi area was held on April 15 and for the Mohali and Kharar sub-divisions, it would probably be held on April 24.

Nomination papers for the 6-Anandpur Sahib Parliamentary constituency could be presented to the returning officer or the assistant returning officer, 50 Rupnagar assembly segment, at the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Rupnagar, on any working day from April 17 to April 24 between 11 am and 3 pm. Nomination papers would be taken up for scrutiny at the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Rupnagar, on April 25. Withdrawal of candidature could be done on April 27.

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Poll Diary
Anand Sharma ko gussa kyon aata hai?

Senior Congress leaders are often touchy about any criticism directed at 10, Janpath. And the otherwise calm and serene Minister of State for External Affairs and Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma is no exception to this phenomenon — called sycophancy or loyalty to the Nehru-Gandhi family.

At a media briefing on April 16 at Chandigarh, the Congress leader was quite miffed with a journalist for his “offensive” remarks against Rahul Gandhi, AICC general secretary. The audacity of the journalist to question the capability of the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family to lead to country as Prime Minister obviously did not go well with the minister, who obviously owes his elevation to ministership to the “duly-elected” AICC president Sonia Gandhi.

The minister with the gift of gab was furious saying Rahul’s victory margin from the Amethi parliamentary seat ran into lakhs of votes. That is another matter that Sharma himself is a Rajya Sabha member and has rarely tasted political waters of Lok Sabha elections. Dynastic and other connections do matter in politics. You should know it better, Mr Sharma.

Catching ’em young

Everything is fair in love, war and... elections. In fact, the parties believe in catching voters young, rather too young. Despite swearing by rules and regulations, including labour laws, Congress seems to have pressed the toddlers into election campaigning, apparently throwing the child labour norms to winds (see photo clicked by Tribune lensman Vicky Gharu).

Meanwhile, it is nice time for children as they get certain goodies in return for campaigning. Obviously, party affiliations do not matter for them, as they are too eager to campaign for any party, provided they get “something” in return. Children will be children! Would politicians be politicians?

New Slogans

With the election date — May 13 — inching closer, new slogans are being coined by parties with each passing day. “Sabko dekha baar baar humko dekho ek baar” (You have tried others, do try us this time) is the new slogan of the Janata Dal (United). That is another matter the party does have much presence in the city. Well, day-dreaming is your fundamental right in a democracy!

— Pradeep Sharma

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Need to adopt proactive approach for disaster mitigation: Expert
Tribune News Service

Dr B Bhattacharjee addresses a symposium on ‘Information and Communication Technologies for Disaster Management’ at CSIO in Chandigarh
Dr B Bhattacharjee addresses a symposium on ‘Information and Communication Technologies for Disaster Management’ at CSIO in Chandigarh on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, April 17
The biggest challenge for disaster management authorities today was moving from a reactive stance to a holistic and proactive approach to mitigate disasters. Stating this here today, former director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and member, National Disaster Management Authority, Dr B Bhattacharjee said a foolproof communication network was the essence of disaster management.

He was here as the guest of honour at a symposium on “Information and Communication Technologies for Disaster Management”, organised by the Institution of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineers and the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) here today.

He said information technology should be used as a value-added product for disaster management, providing not only correct information to operators in the field, but also giving them assessments of the situation and forecasts on the likely outcome of the relief steps being taken.

He rued the fact that at present, the disaster management authorities did not even possess the requisite maps for identification of hazard-prone areas for disaster mitigation and preventive measures.

Touching upon man-made disasters like terrorist activities, Dr Bhattacharjee said surveillance was the key to prevent such incidents. Strategic and important places should be identified and remote surveillance could be used to provide early warning, he said. He also stressed that people engaged in taking preventive measures should be well trained and armed and the fact should be widely known so that it acted as a deterrent.

In his inaugural address, Haryana Governor Dr AR Kidwai said information and communication technologies were the major contributors to India’s string economic growth. Indian scientists and technicians, he said, had made their mark in the international arena.

He called upon scientists, engineers and technologists to make concerted efforts for national progress through optimum utilisation of its available natural resources as well as technical manpower and knowledge.

A number of experts discussed issues related to modern communication technologies, natural and man-made disasters, data networks, security and encryption devises and presented several technical papers.

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Poor facilities at jail hospital
Superintendent has medicine purchasing limit of only Rs 20,000 a year

Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
In spite of being ill-equipped, patients suffering from a simple fracture to abdominal pain are being sent to the Central Jail in Patiala from other jails.

The 40-bed hospital in the jail does not even have an oxygen cylinder, laboratory or ECG machine and relies just on two doctors.

Considering a report submitted by secretary, Punjab State Human Rights Commission, on the basis of a surprise visit to the jail, the commission has recently recommended the state government to provide with the facilities, which are in scarce.

The commission has asked the state government to provide with a laboratory for conducting the tests of inmates of the jail with the dire need of appointment of supporting staff, like laboratory technician. X-ray and ECG machines are installed in the jail.

At present, the financial limit of Superintendent, Central Jail, Patiala, to purchase medicines in emergency cases from the local market per year is Rs 20,000. Since the cost of medicines has considerably gone up, this limit is recommended to be enhanced to Rs 50,000 per year.

These things came to light after secretary B Sarkar to pay surprise visit to the jail in order to examine the living conditions. Sarkar visited the jail premises on December 27, 2007, and submitted his report dated December 28, 2007. He reported that at that time, there were 1,437 inmates in the jail.

There was a 40-bedded jail hospital and two doctors. One doctor was MD in forensic medicine and the other was a child specialist. There were 21 indoor patients and there was also a TB unit, having seven indoor patients at that time. There was no laboratory, no X-ray facility and no oxygen cylinder in the jail hospital.

Even the ECG machine was not provided. It was also observed that there was a shortage of costly medicines, urgently required in emergency cases.

The Deputy Superintendent, Jail, informed him that he had the power to purchase medicines from the local market only to the tune of Rs 1,500 against a bill and for a maximum amount of Rs 20,000 in a year, whereas a single injection for a heart patient was costing more than Rs 2,000.

The jail was getting most of the medicines from the DGP (Prisons).

Even the ordinary patients of simple fracture and abdominal pain were being sent to the jail from other jails and the jail authorities in turn were referring them to the Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, for treatment.

It was suggested in the report that the practice of referring the ordinary patients to the jail should be discouraged. The report further pointed out that there was no provision of an ambulance. Furthermore, even the TB patients were being given only milk and regular food, whereas they needed high-protein diet, which was not available in the jail.

According to the report, 20 deaths took place in the jail during 2006, including those of 14 convicts from other jails. During 2007, there were 17 deaths, 5 from this jail and 12 from other jails.

At present, the financial limit of Superintendent, Central Jail, Patiala, to purchase medicines in emergency cases from the local market per year is Rs 20,000.

Since the cost of medicines has considerably gone up, this limit has been recommended to be enhanced to Rs 50,000 per year.

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PGI to host conference on neurology
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The department of neurology, PGI, in association with other allied specialties of the PGIMER and the DMC, Ludhiana, will host a national-level conference, “TROPICON 2009”, here on Sunday.

Addressing a press conference at PGI here yesterday, Dr S Prabhakar, head of neurology department, said that the aim of the conference was to discuss common neurological diseases affecting masses and aware general practitioners.

Around 500 delegates from all over the country will attend the conference.

Eminent neurologists from various states and abroad will discuss common tropical neurological diseases, which include common nervous system infections like neurocysticercosis, Japanese B encephalitis, HIV, dengue, chikungunya, herpes, encephalitis, meningitis, cerebral malaria and neurocysticercosis, in addition to other neurological disorders like headache, neuropathies and nutritional diseases, said Dr Prabhakar.

The annual conference is held in different parts the country every year to increase awareness of neurological disease seen predominantly in tropical countries like India among practising doctors, said Dr M Modi from the neurology department.

“Experts will dwell on controversies regarding diagnosis, treatment, prognosis concerning these diseases,” he said. A quiz will also be organised during the conference.

“The quiz is aimed at increasing awareness among students about tropical diseases, which find little space in top medical journals nowadays and are mostly neglected,” said Dr Modi.

Prior to conference, a round-table meeting by a specialised group of experts from India and abroad will be held to discuss controversies concerning management of neurocysticercosis, a common disease seen in North India and is a major cause of acquired Epilepsy in children and young adults, informed Dr Modi.

He said there was a lot of controversy regarding diagnosis, treatment, duration of treatment etc. even among neurologists.

The guidelines generated from the meeting will be circulated nationally and internationally in leading medical journals.

The highlight of this expert group consensus meeting will be presented in the next day conference to all delegates, he added.

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Conference on paediatric emergencies from today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Advanced Paediatrics Centre at PGIMER will host a two-day national conference on paediatric emergencies from tomorrow.

The theme of the conference would be “Clinical approach to management in the emergency room.”

According to experts, the event is the first of its kind in the region and is expected to bring together paediatricians of various levels of experience working in public and private sector.

Prof Sunit Singhi, head of Advanced Paediatrics Centre and conference organising chairman, emphasised that with rising costs of health care and technology-dependent diagnostic procedures, physicians need to strengthen their clinical skills to make diagnoses accurate with minimum expenditure of time and money.

The conference will include case-based deliberations on all common paediatric emergencies.

The paediatric emergency provides care to 15,000 patients each year, said doctors at PGI.

Prof K K Talwar, the director of PGIMER, will inaugurate the conference. Over 200 paediatricians working in secondary and tertiary-level hospitals will participate in the conference.

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World Haemophilia Day
180 examined at open clinic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
To mark the World Haemophilia Day, the Haemophilic Welfare Society of Chandigarh organised a daylong open clinic for haemophilic patients at Khudda Jassu near PGI.

Addressing haemophilic patients on the occasion, Dr Harpreet Singh, president of the society, said the governments of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territory of Chandigarh should immediately address to the problems of PWHs and chalked out a strategy to give adequate financial, medical and moral support to them in order to cope up with the mental trauma.

He pointed out that haemophilia was a hereditary disease characterised by deficient activity of blood clotting factors of VIII and IX.

Dr Singh emphasised on the need to provide necessary back up support to parents to enable them to cope with tremendous psychological stress from the day one when their child was diagnosed as a haemophilic.

To achieve this objective, NGOs and other social and voluntary organisations could play a vital role in overcoming stress encountered by the parents, he said.

Similarly, the PWHs should also be encouraged and motivated considerably to lead a happy and normal life by giving them timely care and treatment and efforts should be made by the parents, teachers and medical fraternity to boost their morale so as to lead them a normal life without developing a feeling of inferiority complex among them.

As many as 180 patients were clinically examined and all of them were infused free factor-VII, besides vaccination of Hepatitis-B to 50 patients and booster dose to 30 patients.

Dr Saini demonstrated a few exercises to the PWHs for improving the mobility of their joints.

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Salads, too, can cause brain infection
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Precautions

  • Don’t consume pork from an unhygienic place.
  • Don’t eat uncooked or semi-cooked vegetables or pork,
  • Always wash vegetables properly, especially if they are to be consumed raw or used in salads.
  • Symptoms like headaches, seizures, impairment of vision or swelling in any part of the body.

Chandigarh, April 17
While it is well known that non-vegetarians, especially pork eaters, are susceptible to a parasitic infection of the central nervous system, neurocysticercosis, caused by a tapeworm entering the brain through the blood stream, now the salad-eating fad is causing the disease among vegetarians too.

Doctors at PGI said root vegetables like cabbage, carrot and radish, eaten raw or washed with contaminated water, could lead to cysticercosis. Doctors at the neurology department said they had seen a surge in such cases lately and got about five cases of children and about 10 cases of adults daily.

Interestingly, what is fueling this disease is the healthy-eating culture where people prefer eating salads at restaurants without bothering about how they were prepared, says Dr M Modi.

“Vegetarians and those who don’t consume pork are equally at risk. In fact, vegetarians are prone to this disease more than non-vegetarians,” says Dr S Prabhakar, head of neurology department, PGI. Moreover, children of 8-16 years of age are more prone to cysticercosis.

There is no particular reason for why children are more prone, say doctors. “One reason could be they are less aware and conscious about hygiene. In fact, cysticercosis is a major reason behind seizures in children,” adds Dr Prabhakar.

Symptoms are intense headaches and seizures if the tapeworm travels up to the brain. The eggs first enter the stomach after consuming contaminated vegetables, Dr Dheeraj Khurana, neurologist at the PGI, said. After the eggs are hatched, the worms travel through the bloodstream to different organs like brain, heart, eyes and even the spinal cord, he added. In muscles, cysts cause nodules under skin or swelling. Cysts in eyes can impair vision and lesions in the heart can lead to irregular heartbeat or heart failure.

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‘Choupal’ shuts down
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
It seems that recession has taken its toll on another retail store in Chandigarh. Close on the heels of several Subhiksha stores closing their shops, Choupal, a popular retail store selling fresh fruits, vegetables and general merchandise, has called it a day in the city.

According to sources, the store shut down yesterday due to recession in the retail sector. The store has reportedly been retailing its operations from the past several months.

Scores of shoppers, who went with the intention of shopping at the store today, were a disappointed lot as no prior notice was given for shutting down of the store.

Market sources said that the concept of neighborhood markets in the city was largely to be blamed for the closure of number of retail showrooms run by the big corporates in the recent past.

Charnjiv Singh, president of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal, said the functioning of the retail stores belonging to big corporates had come under a cloud for charging more than the other neighborhood shops.

The authorities should upgrade the infrastructure at the city market with a view to provide incentive to the small time shopkeepers so that they could compete with the stores run by the corporates, he added.

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Loopholes in rape probe come to fore
Swati Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
In quick turn of events in the rape case against the director of Frontier Cycle company, Narinder Singh, major loopholes in the inquiry of the case have come to light during the cross examination of the investigating officer, sub-inspector Harminderjit Singh.

The investigating officer, during the cross examination, accepted that he had not found out whether Narinder had contacts in the Spice Telecomm Company as mentioned by the victim, who alleged that the former could arrange a job for her in the company.

Harminderjit further agreed that he had not verified the antecedents of the victim and her friend. However, he stated before the court that it was wrong to suggest that he had not deliberately verified the antecedents to hide the truth.The investigating officer did not place even the mobile phone records, which could supposedly establish that the accused had been framed up.

When questioned on these lines, Harminderjit stated that it was wrong to suggest that the record of mobile phones that had come on record in this case was deliberately withheld by him as the same would have brought the truth which might have proved fatal for the prosecution of the case.

The phone records showed frequent exchange of calls between the ‘victim’, her friend (a key ‘eye witness’), a DSP (posted at Ropar, when the incident took place) and a businessman (a friend of Narinder’s relative). According to the phone records, the four were in constant touch with each other before and after the alleged rape took place.

In another statement made, revealing the ambiguity of the investigation, the IO stated that he had not inquired whether the accused was residing in Ludhiana or somewhere else. Harminderjit further accepted in the cross examination that he had not got the DNA of the blood sample.

On May 28, 2007, a case was registered against Narinder on rape and criminal intimidation charges on a complaint from a 24-year-old girl of Ropar. She had alleged that Narinder raped her at his house in Sector 34, Chandigarh, on the pretext of giving her a job.

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CITCO offers discount in recession
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Strange are the ways in which CITCO operates. For, at a time when economy is still combating with recession, the CITCO management is, surprisingly, doling out discounts not just to increase its business but also to accommodate the meltdown-hit corporates.

Believe it or not, CITCO’s Hotel Mountview till a couple of days ago had been offering 25 per cent discount on room tariff, brought down the rates even further.

Though the hotel management got slightly wiser by slashing down the discount percentage to 15 per cent for corporates. Sources claimed that while e-mails had already been sent to over 50 companies informing them about the discounts, revised e-mails were sent again Wednesday after being rapped up by senior functionaries.

But even that leaves the room rent at the only five star hotel in the city on a par and even lesser for some rooms with other two hotels, Shivalikview and Parkview.

To top it all, the management has decided to offer discounts for the next six months on “experimental basis”. Confirming this, general manager of the hotel RP Singla said discounts were being offered to those corporates alone that were giving adequate business to the hotel.

“Earlier, we were offering discounts through travel agents to corporates and now companies have approached us to give them discounts directly rather than involving agents,” he added.

While experts think this would not only bring down competition and Mountview would compete only with its own hotels instead of others, this would also adversely affect revenue.

Already, CITCO is offering 10 per cent discount to corporates.

Insiders claimed that while the occupancy at Mountview was comparatively leaner, Shivalikview was doing brisk business.

Recently, CITCO management was mired in discount controversy over privilege cards, 50 per cent discount on buffets, discounts on liquor, etc. which were later rolled back following protest by staff.

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Admn to remove malba from roads

A newly fabricated mini AC bus at the UT secretariat in, Sector 9, Chandigarh
A newly fabricated mini AC bus at the UT secretariat in, Sector 9, Chandigarh, on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, April 17
To make the city malba-free, the Chandigarh administration will remove malba from the V-1, V-2 and V-3 roads till April 26. This was stated at a meeting chaired by UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar. To keep a tab on violators, it was decided at the meeting to start night patrol to spot erring persons throwing malba at different sites.

For this, the engineering department will hire private security personnel, who will identify and click pictures of those indulging in the activity of dumping malba on city roads. It was further deliberated that strict action would be taken against defaulters. For complaints the southern sectors, residents can contact SDE (roads) Gurinder Singh at 9216411120 and in northern sectors they can call SDE Ashok Chopra at 9872629977. — TNS

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Admn set to roll out AC mini buses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Decks have been cleared for the introduction of air-conditioned mini buses on the inner roads of sectors in the city. The administration is set to introduce 17 AC mini-buses in next three weeks.

A fabricated bus was put on display at the UT secretariat in Sector 9 this morning.

Director, Chandigarh Transport Undertaking, ML Sharma said the buses will link with regular buses that ply on main roads, referred to as grid system by the CTU.

Giving details of the pilot project of connecting V-4, V-5 roads of sectors to main roads by mini buses, he said in the first part, buses would be introduced in three Sectors (i.e. 21, 22 and 23) only.

After that, other sectors of the city would be roped in in a phased manner.

Also, city residents will soon be able to enjoy ride in double-decker buses. The department has placed order for at least five such buses.

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Woman injured in fire

Panchkula, April 17
A woman was injured while six houses were gutted in two incidents of fire reported from different parts of the town here today. While five jhuggis were destroyed resulting in loss of property to occupants in Devi Nagar village in the afternoon, Baby (28), a woman from Majri chowk, was injured reportedly when she was cooking food on the gas stove.

Baby was discharged from the hospital after providing first aid.

Similarly the standing crop in three acres was destroyed in fire at Rathpur village in Pinjore. — TNS

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Fire at PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Close on the heels of two women suffering electric shock at the PGI yesterday, a minor fire broke out at Married Doctor Hostel in front of advanced cardiology department in PGI following a short-circuit today. One resident doctor was injured in the fire. According to fire officials, the fire broke out around 10:30 pm and was brought under control within 15 minutes. A fire tender was pressed into service.

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Rights panel seeks report

Chandigarh, April 17
The PSHRC has asked for a status report from the state home department through SSP Kapurthala regarding the lodging of an FIR against Kulbir Singh Khaira, brother of Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira. Kulbir Singh Khaira is the former sarpanch of Ramgarh village and he, along with nine others, were booked under Sections 307, 323, 324, 452, 148, 149, IPC. The case has been adjourned to May 15. — TNS

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Letters

Mock drill eyewash

The mock drill conducted by the Chandigarh administration recently is a mere eyewash.

The things will remain the same, as nobody will be bothered about encroachments in the Shastri market.

The shopkeepers have again encroached the entries, exits and walls by placing the material and by hanging clothes on the walls.

Moreover, there is no preparedness for any exigencies like fire incidents etc. I want that the authorities concerned should perform their duties well and should be accountable to the officials concerned, if required.

Proper arrangements should be made as Kiran Bedi did during her stay. The situation will only improve if the authorities concerned do the work efficiently. The defaulters should be punished in order to put a stop to such misleading acts.

Only then there will be no need of mock or real fire-drills.

GK Chopra, Chandigarh

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Architects’ SOS to administration
Dearth of staff at college

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
With the ad-hoc system ruling the roost in Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA), an apex body of over 300 architects in the region, the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA), has sent an SOS to the Chandigarh administration to save the institute from further decay.

Concerned at the sorry state of affairs at the institute, created as a part of the Great Chandigarh Experiment in Modernism with Le Corbusier’s initiative, the Chandigarh-Punjab chapter of the IIA has sent a message to the UT adviser to look into the matter.

With the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD) working on finalising the recruitment rules for teaching posts for over a decade, the college is facing dearth of faculty. Since 1996, the college de facto has been running inefficiently, as there is no regular prinicipal and the current one is not even a professor.

Besides, three posts of professors, one of an assistant professor, one of a lecturer and one of a research assistant is lying vacant facing de-recognition from the Council of Architecture.

The shortage of faculty at the college has brought down the academic standards in the past decade, alleged chairman of the Chandigarh-Punjab chapter of IIA Surinder Bahga.

He further said the de-recognition would jeopardise the careers of the students.

As a temporary arrangement, the IIA has suggested to hire the faculty on deputation. The system of professor emeritus could be introduced at the college to ease this problem, the chapter contended.

Home-cum-technical education secretary Ram Niwas said since the UPSC/MHRD had failed to finalise the recruitment rules the administration was in the process of finalising the rules at the local level after getting an approval from the administrator.

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Polls: PU exams postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 17
Panjab University examinations scheduled to be held on April 22 have been postponed due to rehearsal for the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab and Chandigarh and will be conducted on revised dates.

Name of examination with revised date: BA/BSc (1st, 2nd and 3rd year) -- May 30; BCom (1st year) -- April 30; BA (1st and 3rd year) -- April 25; BSc (microbial and food technology) 2nd year -- May 21; BSc (Hons) bioinformatics/biotechnology 1st year -- May 23; BSc (Hons) biotechnology 2nd year -- May 27; MA/MSc MFC/MCom 1st year -- May 22; MA/MSc MFC/MCom 2nd year -- May 25; BE (chemical) 4th semester -- May 4; BE (chemical) 8th semester -- April 30; BE (food technology) 4th semester -- May 8; BE (food technology) 8th semester -- April 30; MSc (industrial chemistry) -- May 8; MBE 4th semester -- May 1; MCom 2nd semester -- May 2; LLB 6th Semester -- June 2. Time and venue will remain the same.

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Impact of recession discussed
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 17
As many as 1.9 million jobs were shed in 2008 during global economic recession. The fact was revealed during a seminar “Coping with the downturn: Changing HR paradigm”, hosted by the Chandigarh Business School, Landran.

Delivering his keynote address, Sofi Zahoor, vice-president HR, Quark, said the ongoing global recession was causing a devastating effect on the employees as they were concerned about their job security. So it was necessary to come up with innovative ideas to pull through the most challenging slowdown in recent times.

Roy Joseph, vice-president HR, RJ Corporation, said as the economic situation across the globe had become more grim, the HR leaders in the organisations faced daunting tasks and strategic challenges such as retaining talented and culturally diverse workforce, identifying and capitalising on the organisation’s competitive advantage, performance management and competency mapping. The multi-nationals were now looking for human resources who were multi-tasking in nature.

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