C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Sonia strikes local chord
Talks of land acquisition; promises better deal to farmers

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

A Congress activist holds a party placard during Sonia Gandhi’s rally in Chandigarh
A Congress activist holds a party placard during Sonia Gandhi’s rally in Chandigarh on Sunday. Tribune photo: Vinay Malik

Chandigarh, May 3
Contrary to the perception that the Central leaders duck the local issues, AICC president Sonia Gandhi today brought the issue of the land acquisition to the centre stage of the election campaigning for the Chandigarh Parliamentary seat.

In a development that may sound music to the ears of the UT farmers, who are up in arms against the “inadequate” compensation for their acquired land for the controversial mega projects of the Chandigarh administration, and local candidate Pawan Bansal, Sonia today promised amendments in the Acts to award suitable land compensation and rehabilitation for farmers.

Gandhi struck an emotional chord with the local voters saying Pandit Nehru's idea behind the creation of Chandigarh was the realisation of modern India's dream where all were treated equally.

However, addressing a rally in Bansal's support, the UPA chairperson was quick to say that the BJP and the CPM scuttled the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2007, and the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2007, in the Rajya Sabha.

In a bid to woo the farmers, who were present at the rally in strength, Sonia said the Congress would again bring the Bills in both the Houses to make them into laws. There was jubilation in the local Congress camp as their leader made this announcement.

Congress sources claimed that Sonia’s promise on the land compensation and farmers' rehabilitation should address the aspirations of the UT farmers, who had been miffed with all political parties on the issue.

“The AICC president had taken a lead in addressing the UT farmers' issue as no Central leaders had spared a thought for this issue,” Bansal's media coordinator Pardeep Chhabra said.

Bansal and UT Administrator S.F. Rodrigues do not see eye-to-eye on latter's pet but controversial mega projects. While Bansal want the mega projects on individual merit, Rodrigues is considered to be the brain behind mega projects, including IT Park, Medicity, Film City and Amusement Park, now under the scanner of the Central Vigilance Commission.

While announcement's ramifications were all-India, it suits Bansal and the Congress candidate from Anandpur Sahib constituencies the most as thousands of their supporters attended today's rally. With farming becoming a non-profit occupation, handsome land compensation seems to be only answer to improve the lot of farmers, particularly in Chandigarh's periphery, Gurnam Singh, a farmer from Mullanpur in Mohali district, said.

  • Sonia Gandhi's rally clearly fuelled the imagination of the Congressmen. The rally was better attended and managed than BSP chief Mayawati's rally at the same venue recently. That is another matter that it was a show of strength for Pawan Bansal and Ravneet Singh Bittu, Congress candidates from Chandigarh and Anandpur Sahib, respectively, as people from both the constituencies attended the rally in large numbers.
  • An unfamiliar face on the dais with Sonia surprised many, even scribes. She was Kanta Dogra, a close friend of the Gandhi-Nehru family, who was given the privilege to sit along with India's “most-powerful” woman while city Mayor Kamlesh was seen standing behind Sonia.
  • Contrary to the VVIP campaigners long drawn-out scheduled, the rally was a quick affair. From the time Sonia made it to the venue (around noon), the rally was over within half-an-hour with the Congress chief delivering a well-drafted 13-minute speech.
  • While Sonia was hard selling Sikh Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Pawan Bansal also played the Sikh card. He got the representatives of several Sikh organisations, who threw their weight behind the Congress nominee recently, to present a "kirpan" to the UPA chairperson, who naturally obliged the TV crews and photo journalists by flashing it in the air.
  • A group of Dalits was seen waving black flags at Sonia’s cavalcade. Similarly, a supporter of the BSP perched at the top of the house near the rally ground and waved the BSP's flag after the rally was over.
  • Bouquets, greeting cards and representations were flung at the rally. Though Sonia did not accept any of these "gifts" personally, the workers had the satisfaction that the security personnel would obviously hand them over to their leader.



Swine flu hits web world
Hundreds of sites come up overnight to cash in on scare

Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
With swine flu scare becoming global, online medicine sellers are going all out to market “Tamiflu” (the only known drug supposedly found to be effective against the virus as a precautionary measure), but doctors caution against unnecessary intake of the drug.

Relying on the gullibility of netizens to look around the internet for information about swine flu, rechristened as H1N1, and precautionary drugs for the same, several unscrupulous sites have popped up. Also chain e-mails about the flu spreading to even “Hollywood” are doing the rounds. Spam e-mails, “Madonna caught swine flu; Swine flu in Hollywood”, with links either to online pharmacy sites selling counterfeit drugs or malicious sites, are being sent around.

F-Secure, an Internet security company, has made a list of 146 swine flu-related Internet sites that have been registered over the past few days by scammers looking to collect ‘donations’ and peddle malware, fake pills and bogus swine flu survival guides.

As for the sale of Tamiflu on the net, doctors at the PGI Community Medicine department warn that there is no way of knowing whether you are getting the real thing when you buy online. Apart from the fact that the product could be counterfeit or even toxic, you will not know whether you are protected from swine flu since there is no way of knowing whether the drugs are working.

Many websites - particularly foreign websites - operate illegally by offering the supply of prescription only medicines such as Tamiflu without having a valid prescription, say net watchers.

According to cyber experts, when victims go to buy any products offered by the spammers, there is a grave risk of credit card details being stolen. Besides “Tamiflu”, a host of other “preventive options”, including facemask etc, are being offered by these websites with attractive discount.

Experts’ advice

n Avoid opening e-mails from unknown sources and don’t click on any links in the body of the e-mail or open any attachments related to Swine flu as it infects target computers with password-stealing viruses.

n Don’t believe online offers for vaccinations against swine flu because a vaccine does not exist till date. For more information on Swine flu and updates on progress in fighting the outbreak, go to Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Website- <http://mohfw.nic.in/>

n Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware software is up to date and all operating system security patches have been installed. If your computer becomes infected as a result of spam e-mail about swine flu, you can report it to the Cyber Crime Complaint Centre.



Two killed in mishaps
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 3
A 23-year-old youth was killed when the bike he was riding collided head-on with a truck on the Panchkula- Barwala road here today.

The deceased has been identified as Tilak Raj, a resident of Billa village near Ramgarh. According to the police, Tilak was employed as an electrician with a company at IT Park in Chandigarh. The mishap occurred near Nada village when he was returning home.

A PCR posted near the spot shifted him to the Sector 6 General Hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.

Lalru: A 45-year-old man died in a road accident near bus stand at Sarsini village on Sunday evening.

According to the police, Pal Singh alias Jaspal, a resident of village Sadhapur was seriously injured when a tractor-trolley rammed into his motorcycle while he was crossing the road. The incident left him injured and he was rushed to Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi from where he was referred to GMCH-32 seeing his critical condition on reaching where the doctors declared him to be brought dead.

Police said that the driver fled from the spot, leaving his tractor-trolley behind.



Wooing voters with ‘golgappas’
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 3
Freebies were galore at a Congress rally organised in Phase V here this evening.

To ensure good gathering, Suresh Kumar Lucky, the organiser of the event, offered free ‘golgappas’ to the visitors. While the party candidate, Ravneet Bittu, took time to reach the venue, women had a good time relishing the freebies.

On the platter were also ‘pakoras’, ‘rasgullas’ and tea. The ‘golgappa’ stall saw a huge rush of women who preferred to savour the snack. There were more people around the ‘golgappa’ stall than those sitting on the chairs.

“Usually women often do not participate in rallies in the evening hours. But the ‘golgappa’ magic worked,” remarked a politician at the rally.

However, unmindful of the hot weather and hygiene, those present at the rally preferred to relish the free snacks.


No elections since 2005
CITCO employees disown president
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
After losing faith in the president, the employees of the CITCO Workers’ Union today disowned the presidentship of the union. According to sources, the discontent in the employees is due to the fact that there had been no elections for the past four years despite the fact that the term of the president had expired in April, 2008.

The union has decided to approach the labour commissioners and the CITCO authorities. A letter has also been written in this regard, wherein, employees have resolved to hold proper elections soon and dissolve the present office immediately.

“There has been an unrest among the employees over some recent incidents. Also, it has been revealed the president and the general secretary have been ignoring the welfare of the employees and have been working for their own interests. There had been a long-pending demand of conducting fresh elections by the employees. We are going to conduct the same soon with everyone’s consent”, said chairman of the CITCO workers Union Kashmir Chand.

Whereas union president Yashwant claimed there was no unrest among the employees and they had full faith in him and the present executive body.

He also claimed he had been given an extension of two years and his term would end in 2010.

Meanwhile, separate meetings have been called by two groups, one led by the president and the other by the chairman, tomorrow to decide about the fate of the body.

During one of the auctions by the CITCO recently, an employee of the corporation who is holding an influential post in the executive body created a ruckus in a recent auction, following which it had to be cancelled. It was also revealed he participated in the auction with an intention to take the bid money up but when the other bidders confronted him to pay the money, he escaped the scene. Consequently, the corporation had to bear a loss worth lakhs.



Dhawan promises cut in booth transfer fee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
Former Union Minister and BSP candidate from Chandigarh Harmohan Dhawan today visited the Sector 22 booth market and listened to the problems faced by the shopkeepers.

Addressing the booth owners, Dhawan said he would work for their demand of additional storey. Besides, the transfer fee for the booths will also be reduced, he added.

Yesterday evening, Dhawan addressed a gathering at the Sector 46 market. Addressing the gathering, Dhawan said he had worked for every section of the society regardless of their status. The meeting was organised by area councillor Jatinder Bhatia.

Jain gets more support

The Jain Samaj today decided to support Satya Pal Jain, the BJP candidate, in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections.

The announcement was made by the representatives of four sects of the Jain Samaj - the Digambar Jain Society, the SS Jain Sabha, the Atmanand Jain Society and the Tera Panth Samaj.

The executive committee of the Uttaranchal Welfare Association also decided to support Jain.

Meanwhile, Tarsem Lal Sidhu, vice-chairman of the UT Joint Action Committee of the 13-Type House criticised Bansal for his “indifferent” attitude towards their demands.

RJD campaign

The RJD candidate, Hafiz Anwar-ul-Haq, today addressed a rally organised by the Bharatiya Yadav Samaj at Colony No. 4.

Addressing the rally, Haq promised the construction of UP Bhawan, Bihar Bhawan and Yadav Bhawan in Chandigarh. Extolling the role of Yadavs in Indian politics, he said Lalu Prasad Yadav has been able to earn a Rs 90,000-crore profit for the Railways.



Mohali rehri markets prone to fire
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, May 3
Rehri markets in Mohali are highly prone to fire even as the administration has failed to make these safe for shopkeepers, customers and those living in the neighbourhood.

A major fire had destroyed the ‘janta rehri market’ in Phase III B-1 nearly two years ago reducing the property of shopkeepers to heaps of ashes. Many of these shopkeepers who had lost their ‘khokhas’ in the fire were still running their business from temporary shelters put up along the roadside. Rehri markets were also located in Phases I, IV, VII, X and XI, but lacked fire safety measures. The ventilation in the rehri markets was poor and there were no proper exits, which were required in case of emergencies. There was temporary loose electrical wiring at various places and no facility for the storage of water. Tin sheets had been used to make ‘khokhas’ in most of these markets which added to the danger.

The situation was very grim at the Guru Nanak khokha market, Phase I, which had more than 250 shops. The passages between rows of ‘khokhas’ were narrow and at places were obstructed by goods kept by shopkeepers. Repair work was undertaken in certain ‘khokhas’ where LPG cylinders and kerosene were used, which added to the danger of fire.

There were about 300 shops in the Sahibzada Ajit Singh market in Phase IV. Though many shopkeepers had constructed pucca booths, a large number of the shops were made from tin. The passages between khokhas were narrow and the approach to the market was only from the front side though the market had a small narrow exit point at the backside. There were dhabas and sweets shops in the market, which used LPG cylinders and kerosene posing a threat to the market which had already suffered a major blaze some years ago. The condition of rehri markets in Phases VII and XI was no better.

Though the number of ‘khokhas’ here was much less, the problem of narrow passages, loose electrical wiring existed . In fact, nine ‘khokhas’ had got burnt in a fire that broke out on the night of March 19 in the Phase XI market.



Accident delays trains
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
Series of accidents and delays continue as far as the Railways are concerned.

In yet another accident in Dhappar i.e. between Ambala and Chandigarh, a tractor (HR 01 4561) hit the gate barrier at the level crossing thereby damaging the overhead extension (OHE). The Government Railway Police (GRP) has apprehended the driver of the tractor and a case has been registered at the police station.

Reportedly, the tractor-trolley badly hit the port at the Dhappar railway crossing leaving the port badly damaged, which moved from its place and got stuck onto the railway track.

According to the Railways in charge Rampal, the incident took place when the tractor-trolley rushed to the crossing pole while it was getting closed and struck into the pole leaving the pole turned towards the track. After which the driver reversed the trolley and fled. The trolley had touched the high voltage (25,000 watts) wires above the crossing which started sparking.

The accident occurred at around 11.15 am and resulted in the closure of the railway line for an hour. It in turn affected the movement of several trains, till 12.15 pm when the lines were finally cleared.

The trains that got affected include the 2011 Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabdi that was about two hours late than the scheduled time, while the 4095 Himalayan Queen (Delhi-Kalka) was over four hours late, the 4217 Unchahar Express (Chandigarh-Allahabad) delayed by one hour 20 minutes, the Kalka-Bandra-Mumbai Paschim Express (Chandigarh-Mumbai) by 50 minutes, the 411 Dehradun Shatabdi was late by one hour 25 minutes.

In addition to this, two local Chandigarh-Nangal Dam-Ambala passenger trains were also late by 35 minutes.

While Ambala division officials cite the accident at Dhappar as the reason for the delay of some trains, the Delhi division officials claimed the last night theft to be the reason for time slag due to which the morning trains from Delhi also got late.

RK Saxena, additional divisional railway manager, Ambala division, said, “Trains got delayed due to the accident near Dhappar and for an hour the line was closed. Later the traffic was cleared and the future trains will not be affected.”

“Last night trains got delayed because of theft of the wire of overhead transmission, this affected the morning trains as well because of the time slag,” said a Northern Railways, Delhi division official.



Army launches exercise to test offensive capability
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
The Indian Army today launched a major training exercise aimed at validating and enhancing the operational doctrine of its premier strike corps. Christened ‘Exercise Hind Shakti’, the exercise is being conducted as a two-sided war game aimed at preparing the elite Kharga Corps in its operation task of executing a proactive strategy.

Strike corps generally move out on large-scale field exercises once in three years, though sand-model exercises are carried out regularly. Over the past few years, the Army has been engaged in fine-tuning its “network-centric warfare” concepts, involving swift surgical strikes backed by real time flow of information.

The exercise commenced with massed mechanised manoeuvres undertaken as part of offensive operations in the plains of Punjab. A large number of tanks, infantry combat vehicles, artillery guns and specialist vehicles commenced their manoeuvres by day and night under near war-like conditions.

Various formations of Kharga Corps are being exercised and have been labelled as ‘Blue Land’ forces (friendly) with some representative depiction as ‘Red Land’ forces (adversary). The exercise is based on ‘Blue Land’ forces launching an offensive deep within enemy territory.

A parachute drop by airborne troops and other heliborne operations were also undertaken to compliment mechanised forces. The operations were aimed at conducting penetrative operations into the enemy heartland.

As part of the Army’s modernisation programme, a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment have been fielded in the exercise. The Kharga Corps is an exponent in the concept of Networked Operations, which exploits real time surveillance means using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), satellite imagery, ground-based surveillance resources and mission reports from the air force and attack helicopters. This allows for rapid decision-making and the furtherance of what the army calls effect- based operations.

The Army has made special efforts to minimise inconvenience to the public during this exercise in close cooperation with the civil administration. Army tanks, paratroopers and the heli-borne operations were a big draw for the public in the area of the exercises.



Disabled CRPF trooper struggles for promotion
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
A sub-inspector with the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), who lost his right leg while on duty, is struggling for his promotion.

While he has claimed that his disability does not hamper his duties and the denial of promotion contravenes existing orders in such cases, the CRPF has taken a stance that only fully fit personnel can be promoted.

Sub-Inspector Kanwal Kumar from the ministerial cadre was placed in low medical category after his leg was amputated following a road accident while he was on official duty in 2005. After he was fitted with an artificial limb, a departmental rehabilitation board recommended that he be retained in service, as his disability did not have any impediment on the performance of his ministerial duties.

In early 2009, a departmental promotion committee, however, did not approve him for promotion and to his dismay he learnt that people junior to him were promoted. He gave a representation to the authorities and was told that he was overlooked for promotion as he was not in “Shape-I” and those in low medical category could not be promoted.

Kanwal has now moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for redressal of his grievance. He has claimed that the orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2002 state that people in low medical category, who are otherwise eligible and qualified and where their disability does not hamper the discharge of their official duties, can be promoted.

He has also contended that the denial of promotion is also in contrary to Article 14 and 16 of the Constitution, where similarly situated low medical personnel have been given due consideration in respect of promotion in various categories, even the general duty cadre.



City Scope
I'll vote. Will you?
Raveen Thukral

Before I begin penning my thoughts for this column, I have a confession to make. When it comes to voting, my record for exercising my franchise in the Lok Sabha polls has been incidentally as bad as the recent turnout of voters in Mumbai - 43 per cent.

The first election that I voted was in 1989, four years after attaining the age of 21 years. I still remember how excited I was as I stood in the queue along with my parents at a booth in Geetanjali Enclave, in South Delhi. The mark of the indelible ink on my index finger suddenly made me feel responsible and the mere thought of participating in the election process gave a strange high, which I can't describe.

I voted again in 1991 and then in 1992 but the circle broke when I shifted to Chandigarh in 1993. I did not vote in the 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004 elections, bringing my overall voting percentage close to the abysmal Mumbai turnout.

By the way, this wasn't because I had got disenchanted with the election process or realised that my vote doesn't count. It had all to do with the kind of nomadic life that I lived in the city, shifting from one sector to another with my tenures at various rented residential accommodations being lesser than a full term of the Lok Sabha.

Since I had no permanent address in the city and most of my "identity proofs" - passport and driving license- had my Delhi address on them, the thought of undergoing the cumbersome process of getting a local ID or voter card always acted as a deterrent to get my vote registered. Added to this was the nature of my job, which made me run around Punjab and Haryana for covering the elections rather than being in the city to vote.

But things have changed in the past three years. Now I have a driving licence and a passport with my Chandigarh address and thanks to my enterprising wife, a voter card too. Though I have again shifted from Sector 35 to Sector 30, I have got my address changed and I'm determined to vote this time.

And believe me this determination has nothing to do with the jago re campaign or the king Khans and the Page 3 kind personalities who are all over the television channels, talking about the so-called realisation and change that has dawned the mindset of the 'enlightened' people and youth, exhorting (albeit unsuccessfully, if one may say so after seeing the turnout in their own Bollywood) people to vote. While such campaigns do have an impact, I don't think they can overnight change the mindset of the middle class, which over the years has become cynical and indifferent to the election process, thanks to the kind of politics being played in the country.

I strongly feel that only self realisation can change this mindset and bring people out to vote. The day people, specially the educated, realise and start believing that sluggish and diffident electorate runs counter to the very spirit of the vibrant democracy, which India is known for all over the world, things will change.

Ideally speaking, this city, with its literate and urban population and all the conveniences - short distances, shaded polling booths in schools and smooth law and order situation- should be witnessing a high percentage of voting but unfortunately that hasn't been the case. Over the years, with a lone exception in 1996, the voting percentage in the city has declined steadily with most of the so-called enlightened and educated residents shying away from voting.

According to figures, the first Lok Sabha elections in 1967 witnessed 65 per cent polling and till the 1989 the turnout hovered between a respectable 60 - 68 per cent. In that era, the highest polling was witnessed in 1984 when it touched 68 per cent.

Then began the decline and in the 1991 elections, the poll percentage fell to 57 per cent. However, it peaked to an all time high of 82.6 percent in 1996 and plunged to 53.69 per cent in 1998. In the 1999 elections it was 48.3 percent and in the 2004, the figure stood at 51.14 per cent.

While the figure of 51.14 per cent may not look that bad when compared to the national average turnout of 58.07 per cent, what is disheartening is that only 20 percent of city's urban population exercised their franchise in the last elections. For a city which boasts of being an educational hub - it has a PGI, a nationally famed Punjab University, an engineering college and a large number of schools and other institutions - such a poor response from the urbanites surely does not bode well for democracy.

While I admit that with my track record of voting may not be the best in Lok Sabha elections (its over 95 per cent in press club elections in Delhi and Chandigarh), I am determined to vote this time and hope others too will. I would like to believe that we Chandigarhians (see I no longer call myself a Delhite) do not need the gimmickry of the Bollywood stars to get us out to vote.

We are educated and responsible enough to know what's right for us and also have the conviction to do what we believe in. So, I'll go out and vote. Will you?

Write to cityeditor@tribunemail.com



City Scope Letters
Admn should highlight fire preventive measures

This is with reference to the article, “Playing with fire”, written by Raveen Thukral published on April 27 in Chandigarh Tribune. We are not only playing with fire but also playing with our lives. We all and particularly the UT Administration must understand that fire prevention is the best way to fight fire. The administration should take steps to highlight fire-preventive measures. In fact, stress should be given to take preventive measures so that fire mishaps could be stopped.

We perhaps do not learn lessons from the past experiences. Fire incidents are increasing day by day, still we find loose electric wires hanging out in the government buildings.

The administration and fire department does not bother to check the fire hazards. Most of the government departments, including the MC, were found violating fire-safety norms. The administration must pull its socks and stress on the fire-preventive measures rather wasting time on the mock fire drills and demonstrating the latest fire resistant costumes. These things are hardly of any use to the common man, who gets trapped in the fire incidents due to the negligence of the authorities concerned.

The fire department must be equipped with the latest tools of fire fighting but at the same time common man must be ensured proper fire safety by the fire department. There must be fire posts established at certain fire hazard points i.e. markets, car and scooter markets, etc.

Shops handling paints and other allied materials must ensure proper fire-safety measures so that surrounding areas must be insulated against any fire risks. Additional fire precautions must be taken to safeguard public.

Capt (Retd) Amar Jeet Kumar


The facts speak volumes of truth when the writer has quoted the figures of almost 200 fire incidents with six persons dead in one month.

So far as the fire-safety measures are concerned, it is not for the first time that such a devastating fire broke out in Sector 22-B market, killing four persons, reducing nine shops to ashes and injuring two firemen. It all happened because of shear negligence on the part of the administration.

For instance, there are large numbers of naked, obsolete and broken electricity wires, open junction boxes spread throughout the city posing serious danger to the human lives.

The department swings into action only after the unfortunate incidents like the one happened in Sector 22 on April 9. Bigwigs, including politicians, visit the site to exude lip sympathy, hold meetings, order probe, announce compensation and waiting for another tragedy to happen. The staff concerned whose job is to check naked, obsolete and broken wires and plug the loopholes never visit the spots. The policy makers frame the policy in air-conditioned rooms and the worst sufferer is the common man.

Safety and security, which is of a paramount need, should be assured with multiple access and exit points to ensure a streamlined flow of people. Building rules enshrined in Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952 and the National Building Code of India, 2005 should be observed meticulously. The need of the hour is that the staff concerned should visit and identify dangerous spots, list out the programme to plug the loopholes. Disaster management task force should be equipped with the latest techniques along with trained manpower.

SK Khosla


Kudos to Raveen Thukral for his weekly columns and doing a yeoman service in highlighting and bringing awareness over the vital and essential social aspects, which need the government’s attention. It is true that Chandigarh is the first planned city of India post Independence but it lacks in certain essential civic parameters of safety and main norms. The unfortunate incidence of fire on April 22 in upfront market of Sector 22 and couple of other happenings with latest of April 28 in Sector 35 are fresh in our memories and send chill through the spine when one thinks of loss of life, property and sufferings of the affected.

In 99 per cent cases the incidences are attributed to short circuit, use of sub-standard electricity cables/gadgets, execution of work by the unlicenced/ unqualified electricians and to top it all overloading of the system which goes unchecked due to corruption in the system.

SS Arora


Fire-fighting system needs to be expanded and strengthened as the traffic has increased multifarious and roads are full of crowd. We must study the developed countries system where fire hydrant are laid in commercial and residential areas and even alarm system exists to the extent in residential buildings and provide facility at least to install fire hydrants in the commercial and residential areas and in big buildings.

OP Garg


The Chandigarh Tribune has started a campaign against the fire incidents. Most of the fire incidents have been caused by short circuit in the Tricity. The recent Sector-22 fire incident was tragic in which four persons have lost their lives. The fire and electricity departments have tried to control the fire but action was delayed due to problems.

The fire department had issued notice to hundreds of shops, government offices from time to time for installing fire-fighting equipments. The Municipal Corporation had suggested some measures to streamline rehri markets in different parts of the city to avoid fire outbreak. The rehri markets are full of flammable material, open electric wires, shortcuts and LPG cylinders.

The administration should fill the post of chief fire officer, issue notices to the defaulters and give time to install the fire-fighting system. The fire department must give its report to the administration for improvement. The UT administration, MC, electricity department and UT police should constitute a committee for regular meetings to avoid fire incidents.

ML Garg


It is surprising that modern and first planned city of India lacks in certain essential civic parameters of safety. Hardly any shop in the city is equipped with proper fire effective safety systems. Most do not even have adequate fire escape routes as many were trapped at the Sector 22 shop and thus lost their lives.

Such incidents underline the need for a risk management approach to identify risks and mitigate hazards by revisiting the existing laws in consultation with all relevant experts and stakeholders. Lack of proper fire-fighting equipment was just one issue and there were some other concerns that directly affected the rescue work such as absence of escape routes and access points for the fire brigade.

Charu Mehrotra, Mohali


Most of the archaic building bylaws applicable in the city are not in conformance with the fire-safety norms for example additional iron staircase in courtyard, which can be helpful in case of fire, is not permissible under rules. According to the recent notification by the Chandigarh Administration, the terraces of all buildings in allowed to have three feet high parapet wall all around to create a refuge area in case of fire. This can be really helpful in case of fire especially for women and children, who cannot climb cat ladders. But the architecture department of the administration is not issuing the standard designs for mumties to be constructed in commercial and residential area even after seven months of the said notification due to which the estate office does not sanction the buildings plans with mumties. These mumties along with parapet on the terrace should be made compulsory in all buildings of Chandigarh.

Sanjay Sharma, Chandigarh


I am shocked to read that many of the government buildings in Chandigarh, including the MC, are violating fire safety norms. Officers of the Chandigarh administration think themselves to be above law. They know how to harass general public but are answerable to none. Sending resumption notices to owners of commercial buildings will not solve the problem as most of these buildings in which violations have been committed are under the occupation of tenants. The owners cannot remove these violations without the permission of the courts, which take decades on deciding such cases. Solution lies in penalising the occupier of the buildings.

Harbir Singh, Chandigarh

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City lad to attend road safety meet at Brussels
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
Harman Singh Sidhu, a city-based road safety activist, is amongst the three from Asia to participate in the first “Global Meeting of NGOs Advocating for Road Safety” to be held at Brussels on May 7 and 8.

As per international figures, nearly 1.3 million people die and nearly 50 million are injured in road mishaps. Studies shows that many of those affected are pedestrians, motorcyclists, cyclists and users of public transport.

Typically, they are from low-income and middle-income countries and often between the ages of 10 and 24 years.

Talking to TNS, Sidhu, who had anchored a documentary for BBC on road safety in the past, said the aim of the meeting was to foster a greater understanding of the expertise and needs of the NGOs involved in road safety in their countries. They would share knowledge, experiences and approaches to advocating for road safety and support for road victims. Participants would also prepare a statement from the NGOs to be presented to the “First Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety” in Moscow to be held in November 2009.

Over 100 participants from 70 NGOs working in the field of road safety from over 40 countries would take part in the meeting. Sidhu would give a presentation of effective use of media in communicating the message of road safety. He would explain the approaches his organisation had taken to draw attention to road safety and the need for action by generating the attention of news Media especially the newspapers, TV and websites.

The meeting would highlight examples of national efforts to influence legislation, manage campaigns, develop educational materials and provide services for victims of road accidents. Sidhu would present a handbook, “Your Child's Road Safety", the production of his NGO ArriveSafe along with other media materials in the meeting.

A diploma holder in mechanical engineering, Sidhu met with a near fatal road accident in October 1996 in Nahan when the car he was travelling in fell into a gorge.

Though he survived, he remained bed-ridden for two years and was left paralysed below the neck for the rest of his life. Later, he devoted his life to road safety and created a website for Chandigarh Traffic Police, which become a turning point in his life.



Lab for communicable diseases soon
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, May 3
For the first time in Punjab, a state-of-the-art laboratory for surveillance of communicable diseases is being set up in the Civil Hospital here.

The directions to start the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) laboratory were issued by the Punjab government and this laboratory will be the nodal centre for tests and analysis for all government hospitals in the state.

The facility will be a boon for poor patients as the charges will be lower than those prevalent in the private sector medical centres.

The setting up of the IDSP laboratory will also decrease the load on the PGI and provide an advanced medical facility through out the state. The facility for advanced tests in the IDSP laboratory is not available in hospitals coming under the Punjab Health Systems Corporation.

According to Dr HS Sarang, SMO in charge of the hospital, the tests at the laboratory would be of highly sophisticated type, including culture sensitivity tests. Samples would come from all over the state to the laboratory for investigations and the IDSP laboratory would have the status of a referral facility.

He said though the hospital had a laboratory for conducting various tests, but all the types of tests related to diahorrea, dengue, typhoid, hepatitis, HIV, AIDS, etc, could not be carried out at the Civil Hospital. Samples had to be sent to the PGI, Chandigarh, for confirmation of the various tests.

The charges for the tests would be lower than private diagnostic centers that were also conducted free of costs when directions from the government were issued to control the spread of some diseases at times, added Sarang.

He said a part of the equipment for the laboratory had already arrived and two or three large machines would reach the hospital shortly. A microbiologist would be posted at the IDSP on a regular basis.



Experts discuss blood disorders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
The department of medicine, Government Medical College & Hospital, Sector 32, organised a CME on blood disorders entitled: “Basic Haematology for Physicians” here today.

The main aim of the CME was to update the general physicians in Chandigarh and from adjoining states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh on how to diagnose and manage patients with blood disorders.

Over 200 delegates and students attended the CME. Luminaries of national repute attended the occasion and shared their experiences with medical students and physicians and gave important tips on how to deal with blood disorders in day-to-day practice.

Prof Raj Bahadur, Director Principal of Government Medical College and Hospital, was the chief guest. He emphasised the importance of conducting academic CMEs and encouraged the young physicians to take up this field as a career as in India their was shortage of specialists in this field.

Dr A Tahlan from GMCH-32 and Prof N Varma from the PGI started the session with laboratory investigations in haematology, recent advancements in investigations and their indications and interpretations.

Prof SK Verma from HIMS, Dehradun, talked about investigations and management of thrombotic disorders. Dr M Mahapatra from AIIMS, New Delhi, spoke on approach and management of cases of thrombocytopenia.

Dr Pankaj Malhotra from the PGI, Chandigarh, gave a talk on diagnosis and management of lymphomas. Dr Dinesh Bhurani from the Rajeev Gandhi Cancer Institute, New Delhi, talked about upon newer modalities of treatment in plasma cell disorders. Dr M Joseph John from CMC, Ludhiana, highlighted various issues on leukemia’s which should be tackled at the primary level.

Prof S Varma, Head of Medicine Department, PGI, and veteran haematologist gave a talk on bone marrow transplantation.



Yoga camp concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
As many as 250 Air Force personnel and their family members took part in a seven-day-long yoga camp that concluded at No 3 Base Repair Depot here today.

Participants were taught various yoga aasans and pranayam. Experts and tutors supervised the sessions and also imparted knowledge on various health problems that could easily be cured by yoga. The camp was conducted under the guidance of Subhash Gupta, director, Patanjali Yog Samiti, Sector 45. On the concluding day, Air Officer Commanding, 3 BRD, Air Cmde SC Luthra expressed his gratitude to the samiti for its efforts and commitment towards building healthy individuals and thereby providing a valuable service to the nation.



‘Laugh and change the world’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
The World Laughter Day was celebrated at the Fragrance Garden, Sector 36, here today that was attended by 300 participants.

The members of the Laughter Club and families gather here to celebrate the day.

The club has branches in more than 60 countries across the world, local members of the club said.

Dr Madan Kataria addressed the participants and said, “The world is in a state of turmoil and panic gripped by recession, and hence, now is the time to laugh. Fortunately, we have laughter yoga, an excellent tool that helps to uplift and strengthen our spirits in times of crises.”

He further said the mission was to bring peace through laughter. “When you laugh, you change the world, when you change, the whole world changes.”

There were laughter contests organised on the occasion and Saumya Singla (7 years) was declared the best laughter child while Hari Dev Sharma ( 88 years) was adjudged the best senior citizen. While JS Oberoi and Pushpa Gupta were adjudged the best in the laughter contest.



‘Course on human rights soon’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
The Global Human Rights Council (GHRC) organised a seminar on “human rights and role of youth” here yesterday.

According to a release, chairman of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) Justice R.S. Mongia was the chief guest while ADGP, Punjab, Chander Sekhar was the guest of honour.

Underling the role of youth in the protection of human rights, the council announced to start a free course to sensitise the youth on human rights.

Eminent persons from different walks of life, including arts and culture, medicine and administration, were honoured at the seminar for their contribution to public service.


CHANDIGARH: The following have been elected as office-bearers of the Punjab chapter of the Institute of Town Planners: chairman- Rajinder Sharma; secretary - Dr Seet Singh; general secretary - Pankaj Bawa and treasurer - Varinder Singh. — TNS



Neighbours fire in air over dog
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 3
An argument between two neighbours in Phase 3B1 here over taking out a pet dog for a walk took an ugly turn when they fired in the air. No one was, however, injured in the incident.

Sources in the police said both neighbours fired from .32 bore guns. It had not been ascertained whether the guns used were licensed.

Moga resident Gurnam Singh has been booked under the Arms Act and Section 336 of the IPC. The Moga resident is presently staying in Phase 3B1 here.

A police official said the accused used to object to the littering of garden by pet dogs of his neighbours. Yesterday, when the servants of the complainant Narinder Jit Kaur, whose parents live in the neighbouring house of Gurnam Singh, again took the dog for walk, the latter again objected and fired in anger.



Campaign hots up
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 3
Congress candidate from Anandpur Sahib Ravneet Singh Bittu today went on an election tour of different villages and sectors in the Mohali assembly segment for the second day.

During the tour in Badala Nawanshashr, Sukhgarh, Raipur Khurd, Dharala, Chhapachheri Kalan, Gharuan, Phase V, Mohali, Sector 70, 71, Mataur and Phase VII, Mohali.

Led by local MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu and senior leader Rajbir Singh Padiala, the leader sought votes for the party.

Meanwhile, SAD-BJP combine leaders went door to door in Phase II late in the evening. Dr Daljit Cheema, led by his brother Col Bhupinderpal Singh Cheema, distributed pamphlets regarding the SAD manifesto and appealed to the people to vote for the SAD-BJP combine for the benefit of the area in particular and Punjab in general.

Punjab State Cooperative Bank chairman and in charge of the Kharar assembly segment Jasjit Singh Bunny said people were eager to throw the Congress out of Punjab as its false promises era had gone.



Security beefed up for elections
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 3
More than 1,500 police personnel, including home guards, ex-servicemen and NCC cadets will be deputed to ensure the security arrangements in the district on the day of polling for parliamentary elections i.e. January 7.

As the arms have been deposited with the police, the borders of the district have been sealed, Superintendent of Police, Panchkula, Amitabh Dhillon said here today.

While a watch was being kept on anti-social elements, nakas have been also been set up in the district, he said.

In fact, out of 310 booths in the district, three booths have been declared critical in the Panchkula Assembly constituency. Also, 29 polling booths in Kalka and 52 booths in Panchkula have been declared very sensitive.

The district administration has decided to videograph the activities of all parties. Panchkula Additional Deputy Commissioner would act as a nodal officer in this regard who will be assisted by sub-division magistrates of Panchkula and Kalka.

In addition to it, 310 Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) will be used for the polling and there will be 31 spare machines for emergency situations.



800 take mgmt test
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
Around 800 students from the city took the Management Aptitude Test (MAT) exam today in the city conducted by the All-India Management Association (AIMA) for MBA aspirants to seek admission in institutes covered under the exam.

The test which is AICTE approved is conducted four times each year in February, May, September and December. The test contained four sections, including verbal ability, reasoning, quantitative aptitude and general knowledge and was generally claimed to be easy by the students, even as the quantitative aptitude section was found a bit difficult by some students, said sources.

Chavi, a student who appeared in MAT, said “The English section of verbal ability was easy while mathematics was tough.”

About 430 institutes of AICTE-approved institutions and university departments are participating in the MAT exam this year. In 2004, the Government of India has approved MAT as national entrance test.

Reportedly, this is the last time AIMA is conducting the examination physically. From September onwards 2009 the exam will be held online.

CET exam

The Common Entrance Test (CET, Punjab) was held today for various private and government engineering colleges of Punjab. In Chandigarh around 2,000 students took the exam at 11 centres.

The two-hour examination started at 10 am. Total number of questions was 120 (40 questions of each subject). Each question was of one mark. There is no negative marking for incorrect answers.

Nearly 26,000 students appeared for the examination at 92 centres located in Punjab, Chandigarh and Delhi.

Approximately 24,000 seats in 65 engineering colleges of Punjab affiliated under Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, were to be allocated depending on the result of the exam.



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