C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


A village of changed fortunes, dreams 
After running for luxuries, villagers have realised that there is a need to educate their children
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jheorheri (Mohali), April 21
Eighteen-year-old Gumeet Kaur is flying high these days. Life has come a full circle for her ever since her parents allowed her to pursue her dream of becoming an airhostess.

A few years back, her family could only afford to send her to a government school in the village. But it’s a thing of the past. Thanks to the compensation of Rs 1.5 crore an acre to the family for their nine acres of land acquired for the Chandigarh International Airport, her family has also bought her a two-wheeler to go to the city to pursue her studies.

Gurmeet Kaur’s family is not the only one in the village of “crorepatis” which has seen a complete transformation in their lifestyles and their dreams of flying high. The money has changed the way they used to look at life.

From eking out an earning to meet both their ends, they are now feeling the need for better school in the village for their children and better health facilities. Many are already sending their children to city schools.

“A new social order has merged. It has been a year when the compensation was given. After running after luxuries, we have now realised that there was need to educate our children. Our demands and requirements have also changed,” said Dharam Singh, whose seven acres of land was acquired for the airport.

And with the elections around the corner, the expectations of the “crorepati” farmers from the politicians have also changed. The cash-rich villagers are demanding regular electricity to run their electronic gadgets, metalled roads for their hi-end vehicles and better education institutes where they could send their children.

While the politicians are moving from village to village seeking votes, it seems that the village is not on their itinerary. On the condition of anonymity, a senior Akali leader said, “We are unable to comprehend their changed demands. We are used to hearing requests for jobs, concrete road gully, funds for dharamshala, irrigation facility and power supply for tubewells.”

The cash-rich villagers owe their wealth to Late Capt Kanwaljit Singh. “It is because of Capt Kanwaljit that we seeing our dreams turning into reality,” said a farmer. But since the Akali leader is no more, many are confused about the party to vote for, he added.

While the elections are “merry” time in other villages, the beneficiaries here are busy buying land in Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib out of the compensation amount. Gurnaib Singh, whose 28 acres of land was acquired, has now bought eight acres in Sirhind. Similarly, Kaka Singh and Kesar Singh have bought land elsewhere. But Dharam Singh and his son, Bhagwant Singh, have shifted to transport business.

Flying High

l With the newly acquired wealth, many children in Jheorheri village are seeing their dream of seeking higher education turning true

l As elections are around the corner, ‘crorepatis’ demand better amenities for their children; regular electricity to run the electronic goods and better roads

l Politicians keep away as they are unable to comprehend the changed demands of the villagers



Rodrigues relents, but partially
Restores ACR-writing powers of Mehra; silent on MHA queries on quasi-judicial powers
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
In restoring the annual confidential report (ACR) writing powers of Adviser Pradip Mehra, UT Administrator S.F. Rodrigues seems to have relented only partially indicating that the cold war between Chandigarh's two top functionaries is far from over.

While the restoration of Mehra's powers to write ACRs of his subordinates is seen is as an attempt to mollify the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which had repeatedly directed Rodrigues to restore the powers “forthwith” the administrator is yet to respond to ministry's queries on the quasi-judicial powers of the Adviser.

On March 31, along with the missive to restore the ACR writing powers, the MHA had questioned the legal opinion given by the UT senior standing counsel Anupam Gupta on the quasi-judicial orders passed by the Adviser, which became the basis for a vigilance inquiry against Mehra. Rodrigues had sought legal opinion on the revision petitions, pertaining to resumed properties, entertained by Mehra during his tenure.

“The legal opinion of the senior standing counsel does not state what were the remedies that were available to the Administrator under the relevant Act by way of appeal and why the same had not been availed where applicable”.

This referred to Article 226 of the Constitution, which allows the administration to challenge the quasi-judicial powers of the Adviser in the High Court. Incidentally, it was only on Gupta’s advice that the administration had forgone this option. During an earlier opinion to the administration, Gupta had categorically stated that no order of the Adviser should be challenged. The MHA has also asked the UT Home Secretary to respond to the ministry on this issue immediately.

Normally, the restoration of ACR powers and the response to the MHA queries on quasi-judicial powers should have come simultaneously. However, the UT Administrator has ducked the MHA queries issue fuelling speculation that the stand-off between UT two top functionaries is going to be prolonged affair.

Leave aside the response to queries, the restoration have come after repeated MHA interventions. Earlier on March 2, the MHA had written to the Administrator directing him to restore Mehra’s powers after the Central Vigilance Commission had given him a clean chit on allegations of misuse of CITCO’s funds. However, instead of following the directive, the Administrator had ordered a vigilance probe against Mehra on March 9 on the basis of the legal opinion submitted by Anupam Gupta, on certain quasi judicial orders passed by him.

On March 10, Rodrigues wrote to the Home Minster expressing his inability to restore Mehra’s power in view of the ongoing vigilance inquiry. However, a directive from the MHA on March 31 clearly stated that the arguments of the Administrator were examined but there was nothing to suggest a departure from the laid down guidelines of GOI that provide for communication of ACRs, whether adverse or otherwise, to the officer reported upon.And this directive was issued with the approval of the Union Home Minister, the MHA letter had said.



3 of family hurt in slum fire
Max New York Life office gutted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Three members of a family, including a 12-year-old boy, were seriously hurt while two goats and around 20 chickens were charred to death in a fire that broke out in a slum in front of Sector 25 Cremation Ground late last night. In another incident, the entire second floor of Max New York Life office in Sector 8 was gutted early this morning.

According to fire department officials, they received information about the fire in the colony in Sector 25 around 2:10 am. The fire broke out in three hutments and a meat shop in the colony, which were gutted. Two fire tenders doused the flames after toiling for about an hour.

The police said Sube Singh, along with his wife Saroj Bala and son Deepak, were trapped in their burning hut.

Sube Singh was admitted to Sector 16 Government Multi-Speciality Hospital while Saroj Bala and Deepak were rushed to the PGI. Sube Singh sustained 65 per cent burns while Saroj and Deepak suffered 45 and 30 per cent burns in the mishap.

The family was only rescued after razing the wall of their hut. The fire further spread to a meat shop belonging to Arsh Mohammad in which two goats and around 20 birds were killed.

The police got the spot examined by Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory experts. Fire officials believed that the fire might have been caused by a burning cigarette or biri stub.

About the fire in the Max New York Life office, the fire officials said they got a message at 6:10 am and rushed there. Two fire tenders were sent to extinguish the flames. Though the fire system was in place, there was no one to control the blaze, which reduced almost the entire top floor office to ashes.

The office was furnished with false ceiling and plyboard and carpets. The computers, telephones and other electronic gadgets were also damaged. It took around two hours to control the fire.

Max New York official said there had been no loss of critical data concerning their policy holders. 



Man trapped in ATM cabin
Asked to pay Rs 7,200 for causing damage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
For Raj Kumar Pardasani, a resident of Sector 11, Panchkula, also a heart patient, withdrawing money from an ATM proved to be a double trouble.

He was trapped in an ATM cabin and when after a lot of toil he managed to come out by breaking open the door, he was detained by bank officials for damaging their property.

It all started when Pardasani went to the ATM in the bank square in Sector 17 at 11.30 am. After withdrawing cash from the machine he tried to open the door but he found it locked. Despite repeated efforts he failed to open the door, which probably got locked on its own. His frantic calls for help also went unanswered. He then gave a jerk to the door, which got cracked and he managed to come out of the cabin.

Pardasani’s predicament did not end here, but took another harrowing turn, when security guard and the bank officials caught hold of him for breaking the door.

Instead of being apologetic to their customer, who had undergone inconvenience at their ATM outlet, the bank officials asked him to pay for the damage. They demanded Rs 7,200 from him.

Pardasani said even as he assured the bank all cooperation and requested them to let him go, they detained him for hours. The police was informed about the matter. As no formal complaint was lodged, no case was registered, said a police officer. 


CIC asks UT to implement RTI Act fully
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
In a decision that may bring transparency in the working of the Chandigarh Administration, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued directions to the administration to properly implement the Right to Information Act, 2005.

Deciding 52 separate complaints moved by Hemant Goswami and his team of volunteers against various departments of Chandigarh Administration, Information Commissioner ML Sharma has ordered while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions affecting the public, the public authorities are required to publish all relevant facts about such policies and decisions for the information of public at large, as mandated under Section 4(1)(c) of the Act.”

The order contended that the information disclosed by the public authorities under Section 4(1)(b) and (c) of the Act was “proactive disclosure and the public authorities are required to provide immediate access to this material as and when so requested, without the requirement of filing of any written request and the charging of any fee.”

The commission also instructed the administration to convert all the records in electronic form, catalogue, index and computerise them and thereafter put all the records online for easy accessibility as per the provisions of Section 4(1)(a) of the RTI Act.The administration has been given three months to implement the order.

While ordering that all public authorities should also take immediate steps to publish detailed, complete and unambiguous information under the 16 categories of Section 4(1)(b) and thereafter update the information as and when necessary, but definitely every year, the commission further instructed, “The notice board(s) in the office of all public authorities should provide as much information as possible and practicable about the disclosures of 4 (1) (b) & (c). Further, this information could also be placed in the library or reading room.” Adding to this, the commission instructed, “The names, room numbers, telephone numbers, e-mail address of the CPIOs/ACPIOs and Appellate Authorities may be prominently displayed in each office for the convenience of the public at large.”

Taking cognizance of the fact that the administration had appointed junior officers as CPIO, the order of the commission directed, “The commission finds force in the submission of Goswami that some public authorities in Chandigarh Administration have designated non-gazetted officials as CPIOs and even Appellate Authorities, thereby frustrating the purpose of the Act. The commission, therefore, directs that the public authorities in the administration to designate officers of gazetted rank as CPIOs and Appellate Authorities, as far as practicable.” 



Cong, BJP garner support
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Congress and the BJP candidates from the Chandigarh Parliamentary seat - Pawan Bansal and Satya Pal Jain - today got support from different quarters.

While the local unit of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) merged with the Congress, Jain was able to get the backing of senior SAD leaders, who had revolted against him and termed him as a “weak” candidate.

Local NCP chief Gurbachan Singh claimed that he had joined hands with Bansal to save Chandigarh from the people who were all out to grab the seat of power for their ulterior motives.

Bansal said the NCP's merger with the Congress was a direct message to the electorate that Chandigarh residents had full faith in the Congress and would strengthen the party.

On the other hand, senior Akali leaders, including working committee member Harjinder Kaur, took a U-turn today and pledged support to the Jain. Addressing a press conference with Jain, Harjinder Kaur claimed that the "confusion" in the Akali circles about support to Jain had been cleared.

It is learnt that high command's stern warning to the local SAD leaders was primarily responsible for their support to Jain.

Meanwhile, the Indian Ex-Services Movement, the All-India Martyrs Honour Committee and the Chandigarh Jat Sabha, headed by former Haryana DGP M.S. Malik, also extended support to the BJP. Brig Harwant Singh (retd), who had earlier announced his candidature from the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat, made the statement regarding support today.

Jain questioned the silence of the Congress candidate on the issue of unprecedented prices hike.

‘Vote for change’

BSP candidate Harmohan Dhawan today addressed a gathering at main market in Manimajra and urged the electorate to vote for a change this time and ensure the defeat of non performers.

Dhawan alleged that Bansal, who had been promising people the regularisation of need-based changes and transfer policies, was a mute spectator when their houses were razed by the Chandigarh administration.

He stated that the social engineering philosophy of the BSP had made it emerging secular power, which was set to rule India. 



Cong rally kicks up row
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 21
The rally organised by the Congress in a public park in Sector 4 here this evening has kicked up a row with the BJP and the INLD raising objections over it on the plea that it was held without the permission from the administration. The rally was addressed by Congress candidate and sitting MP Selja Kumari.

According to BJP leaders, all political parties had been told in advance that seven public places had been earmarked by the administration for all election rallies. However, Selja’s public meeting was held at the Sector 4 park, which was not among these.

BJP press in charge Varinder Garg alleged that the rally was in violation of the administration’s instructions and thus “unauthorised”. He said officials who had allowed the rally to take place must be held accountable.

INLD city president, Manoj Aggarwal claimed that it wasn’t for the first time that Selja had misused a public place for canvassing. He said a week before a similar rally was held at a Sector 11 park.

However, Rajpal Singh, SDM, Panchkula, dismissed the claims of the BJP and INLD leaders and claimed that there was no violation as Selja had only held a small road-corner meeting at the park and there was no public rally.



Poll-related violence in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 21
In the first election-related violent incident, at least 20 supporters of the SAD-BJP and Congress were booked in two separate incidents in Phase IX last night.

Two counter FIRs were registered in the case.

In the first case, Atinder Pal Singh said Jagdeep Singh Lucky, who recently the joined the Congress at a function in Phase 11, along with his henchmen, allegedly assaulted Gurdeep Singh with sharp-edged weapons in Phase IX last night.

In the second case, Manjit Kaur, mother of Jagdeep Singh Lucky, said Harpreet Singh, a resident of Sector 69, Kuldeep Singh, a resident of Dharamgarh, Amarinder Singh, a resident of Kuraah, Jatinder Singh, a resident of Saneta, Ramadeep Singh, a resident of village Saidpura and other eight unidentified persons, allegedly assaulted her son.

Though Gurdeep received head injuries, the police did not take him for medical examination to hospital last night.

He was instead called to the hospital in the morning. Lucky threatened them to leave the SAD-BJP.

On the other hand, Manjeet Kaur alleged that the accused came to her home with sharp-edged weapons calling her son Jagdeep Singh, alias Lucky, to come out. The accused were stating that they had come here to teach a lesson to Jadgeep Singh for joining the Congress, she added. Cases have been registered.



A debate that never was 
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
With elections around the corner, the political parties never miss a chance to get publicity. Given even a small opportunity to sing praises for their leaders, the party workers jump at it.

Bearing a testimony to this, in an apparent overdrive to gain some youthful support for BSP candidate Harmohan Dhawan, the public relations wing of hired by the candidate kept the entire media on its toes sending invitations for a debate that was to take place between Dhawan and BJP candidate Satya Pal Jain at 11 am today.

While entire media reached the venue - Panjab University’s Students Centre - hoping to see a lively discussion on the issues confronting the city, the two leaders and their supporters were conspicuous by their absence.

On being questioned, the PR official could only respond saying that the debate has been cancelled. Interestingly, while the BSP’s wing was publicising the event sending text messages to all the media personnel, the BJP camp was caught completely unaware about the same.

When contacted, BJP spokesperson Keahar Singh Koundel said that Satya Pal Jain was not even informed about any such debate taking place today and was obviously not even informed. He was to address a press conference soon after the debate was over.

For the Panjab University authorities, it was rather shocking to know that there was any such debate even listed for the day.

When contacted, Dean, Students’ Welfare, Prof Naval Kishore expressed ignorance about any such political event taking place. “Nobody came to us for seeking permission about the same. Even if anybody would have, it could not have been allowed. The university is not for such political events,” he added.

Later, the PR wing of the BSP tried to pass on the buck to a TV channel stating that it was an event organised by them. However, the channel claimed otherwise.

Sources also claimed that a TV channel’s outdoor broadcasting van did try to come in, but was later shunted out by the security office of the university.



Fire Safety Week ends with fire show
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
With the number of fire incidents increasing each day in the city, the UT fire and emergency department organised a fire show marking the concluding day of the Fire Safety Week at the Sector 17 fire station today.

The show was organised to display rescue operation through hydraulic turntable ladder, where a mock fire situation in a building was displayed.

Firemen rescued dummy victims of the fire. A drill to demonstrate the fire fighting equipment took place around 4.30 pm.

Also various fire fighting equipment were displayed, including RCC cutters, iron rod cutters, multipurpose equipment, thermal imaging cameras, search lights, fire boll, public addressing system, breathing apparatus and power units, etc.

The show was inaugurated by Mayor Kamlesh, the MC, who inspected all fire-fighting equipment exhibited during the show. After that the fire and emergency equipment were put into action.

She appreciated the fire department employees for creating awareness in industries, schools, colleges, government departments, cinema halls, markets, etc. during the fire service week.

Among those present on the occasion were PK Sharma, Additional Commissioner-cum-chief fire officer, Arshad Khan, chairman, Fire and Emergency Services Committee, Surinder Kumar Jagota, Ram Lal, Dr AP Sanwaria and station fire officers SK Gosain and ML Sharma. 



Interactive session marks PR day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The Chandigarh Chapter of Public Relations Society organised an interactive session to mark the National PR Day today.

The session that aimed at discussing various facets of PR and emerging challenges had Adity Dua, Ex-Executive vice-president, ITC, and former president of PRSI, as the guest of honour.

Elaborating on changing requisites and challenges posed, she said, “The industry has undergone a sea change and so have its basic tools, objectives and professional attributes. The emergence of corporate governance has initiated a change of perception about PR, as now industry professionals conversant with the tools of PR are becoming a must-have in the top management levels of the organisation.” The session was attended by Renuka B Salwan, deputy director (PR), the Bureau of Indian Standards, Charanjit Singh MD, Core Communications, and Jitender Vijh, general manager PR, HMT.

Highlighting the importance of this day, VP Sharma, chairperson, Chandigarh Chapter, said, “The day is being observed to highlight the growing role of PR in society and critical analysis of the achievements of industry so far.” 



20 pc duty imposed on Chinese soda-ash
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Finding increased imports of soda ash into India from China responsible for causing market disruption in the domestic soda-ash industry, the government has decided to impose a “safeguard duty” of 20 per cent on imports from China.

A notification issued by the Department of Revenue on April 20 states that the duty would be applicable till November 5, 2009, unless otherwise amended.

Chemically known as sodium carbonate, soda ash has vast applications in the chemical industry, glass manufacturing, dyeing, brick kilns, water treatment, detergents, paper industry and toothpaste. A large number of related industries are located in this region.

Investigating the claims of the Indian soda-ash industry, the Director General, Safeguards, Central Board of Customs and Excise, brought out in January 2009 that there had been a significant decline in the demand in the world market where China had been exporting soda ash, where as its exports to India had increased. Moreover, the price of Chinese soda-ash was significantly lower than prices prevailing in India, which could have an adverse effect on the domestic market.

From about 10,000 metric tonnes in 2005-06, import of soda ash from Chine rose to over 50,000 metric tonnes at the end of 2008, according to industry estimates. Domestic stocks were also piling up as production was more that the sale.

The Indian industry had sought imposition of safeguard duty as well as quantitative restrictions on imports of soda-ash from China for a period of four years as damage to Indian industry would be difficult to mitigate. 



Kabir lad wins Abacus trophy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Panchkula boy Tushaar Batheja won the national champion trophy at the 11th National Abacus competition held in New Delhi on Sunday.

The national-level event in which more than 2,500 students from different cities had participated, Tushar, a student of Class II of St. Kabir Public School, had cleared the third level test by solving 49 problems in 3 minutes using mental arithmetic. He competed in the age group of 7-10 yrs category.

Earth Day

Earth Day was celebrated in Government Model Senior Secondary School, 35-D, and Government Model Senior Secondary School, 46-D, here today.

J.S. Dewan, founder president of “Support A Child”, was the chief guest on this occasion. He said “We should respect Mother Earth and emphasis should be on planting more trees. We can save our earth with the joint efforts of teachers, students and their parents by encouraging the greenery in our locality and promoting the cycle culture”.

Principal Raviraj Kaur of Govt. Model Sr.Sec.School, 35-D, and Sudesh Raghav of Govt. Model Sr.Sec.School, 46-D, advised students to grow ornamental potted plants at their homes.


The Rotaract Club, Chandigarh Himalayan, in association with “Eloquence”, organised a free workshop on soft skills and personality development at Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 27. The aim of the project was youth development. The workshop was attended by more than 200 students, who gained valuable inputs on various aspects of the importance of developing an overall personality. The interactive workshop enabled the students to come forward and freely discuss their problems which were addressed by experts and solutions were sought out.



PU alumnus is Additional Director, CBI
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 21
Balwinder Singh, an IPS officer of 1976-batch of the Andhra Pradesh cadre, has taken over as Additional Director in the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Singh has earlier held several important positions in the CBI from 1990 to 2000, including the post of Joint Director, DIG and Superintendent of Police.

He has been associated with the investigations of a number of sensitive cases entrusted to the CBI by the Supreme Court and High Courts that ended in convictions of the accused persons.

Balwinder Singh has done an MPhil in public administration from Panjab University.

He was decorated with the Police Medal for meritorious services in 1992 and the President’s Police Medal for distinguished services in 1998. He has been the SP in Karim Nagar, Khammam and Guntur district, respectively.



PU sets up hotel mgmt institute

Chandigarh, April 21
Panjab University has set up a new institute, the University Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism (UIHMT), to start two new courses i.e. BSc in hospitality and hotel administration and BSc in tourism from the academic session 2009-10.

Students who have qualified 10+2 examination with any subject combination are eligible to seek admission in these courses. The admission will be through aptitude test, which will be conducted by UIHMT.

There are 60 seats in the course of hospitality and hotel administration and 30 seats are in the course of tourism according to Prof Lalit K Bansal, director in charge, UIHMT. — TNS



Punjab teachers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Members of the Government Teachers’ Union, Punjab, today staged a dharna outside the office of the Director Public Instructions (DPI) (Secondary), Punjab, in Sector 17 here in support of their demands.

The protesting teachers raised slogans against the DPI and the state government for their failure to fulfil the long pending demands of the teachers. They rued that owing to indifferent attitude of the authorities, the teachers were facing harassment and had to make numerous rounds to the officials in getting their work done. They also alleged that the DPI office was infested with corruption.

The protesting teachers further stated that even their salaries for the month of March had not been given till date. The authorities had also failed to implement the decisions on which they had agreed with the union at a meeting held on November 27 last year, they alleged.

The disgruntled teachers threatened to further intensify their stir if the authorities failed to meet their demands.



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