C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


IT Park: A dream gone awry
Notices to be served on nine non-IT firms
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
City’s much-hyped IT Park can perhaps be termed as an ambitious project going awry, for ever since its on a roll, nothing seems to be going right with it. For the UT’s estate office is set to serve notices on nine non-IT firms for misusing built-up spaces in Phase-I meant only for the IT firms. After hitting series of “roadblocks”, including many IT firms pulling out and non-IT firms entering in, now the UT estate office is also contributing its share.

These identified non-IT firms in the Chandigarh Technology Park are Information TV, Piccadly Agro, Reli Solutions, Richy Infotech, Spencer’s Solutions, Trigna, Surgose and the DLF.

Despite being in the know of things for past several months, estate officials maintain that due to the shortage of manpower and means it was not possible for them to identify the non-IT firms.

“The manpower that we have to keep a check on whether the company happens to be IT or non-IT was unable to find out the company’s profiles. So, finally we had to ask the DIT to help identify the firms for us. A joint team was the formed to do the needful,” said Ashwini Kumar, AEO. “By evening today, notices would be served on the firms”, he added.

While it is surprising that the primary goal with which the IT park was conceptualised, was to generate jobs at the highest levels for the youth of the region. The fact can well be gauged from the brochure that was released by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh at the time of the IT Park’s inauguration in 2005.

At that time it, the officials of the UT administration had visualised that by the end of three years, it would be able to providing jobs to 25,000 youths and more. But, so far not more than 10,000 youths have got employment.

In July 2008, the department of information and technology, UT, had also served a notice on DLF developers for leasing out built-up space to non-IT companies in the IT Park. The department had sought a status report on the non-IT activity in the IT Park.

It’s almost eight year since the land was acquired for the three- phase IT park in 2000 till 2005 when it was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, IT park is yet to be, what can be termed as become “fully functional”.

While nearly 16 IT companies were to set up their offices in the IT Park initially, most of them never turned up for various reasons.

The department had also written to the estate officer to initiate action against the real estate developer for violating the terms and conditions of the Chandigarh Sales of Sites and Allotment Rules. As per the allotment rules, the built-up space can only be leased out to those companies that deal with IT and IT-enabled services.



IT Park: UT’s lopsided vision created hurdles
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

One of the buildings in the IT Park, Chandigarh, that is yet to be completed. Tribune photos: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, June 3
While the UT administration may tout the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park as one of its major achievements, in reality till date, it has not only failed to realize its full potential thanks to the lopsided vision of the powers that be, but have also given rise to numerous other problems which couldn’t be envisioned at that time.

From farmers crying hoarse over low compensation for their land acquired for the IT Park to the disinterest shown by the IT firms in establishing their setups, entry of the non-IT firms, growing discontentment among industrialists who paid crores for conversion of their plots under the UT’s conversion policy while the non-IT firms took over the premises in the IT Park, their commercial space in industrial area is still waiting for corporates to set up. All this, coupled with the recession- hit IT industry has proved to be a big blow for the aspirations with which the IT Park was set up.

While the land acquisition for Phase I was done much earlier, where nearly 80,000 sq ft was given to DLF for ready-to-built in sites, its still not fully rented out. Despite this fact, the land was acquired for phase II and I as well. Of all 13 Phase I built-to-suit sites that were to be completed and occupied by April 2007, not a single one is complete - a state repeated in Phase II.

The Chandigarh administration criteria for the success of Phase I and II of the IT Park seem only till the allotment of land. While phase III should have only been planned if Phase I and II were successfully operational, not stopping at this, award for the acquired land nearly 272 acre for phase III has been announced already. Though it was projected that 67,000 IT professionals would be employed, the actual figures of only about 10,000 speak a lot about the planning that had gone in for this mega project, leaving much to be desired and looked into.



Home Secretary’s lie nailed
Leave transfer a ploy for permanent adjustment

Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Ram Niwas had earlier said “I should have approached the Adviser if I was giving her some special advantage. She is qualified as per the requisites and it’s a normal routine transfer, where in she is not getting any special advantage. Thus, I signed it in the course of the execution of my duties as the Education Secretary.”

Chandigarh, June 3
When it comes to benefitting his better half, Babita Verma, everything seems to stand fair for the UT-Home-cum-Education Secretary, Ram Niwas. Contrary to his statement claiming the act of signing his wife’s transfer order was just a ‘regular’ affair and not amounted to giving any “undue favour”, the copy of the order procured by The Tribune clearly reveals that he has gone out of the way to benefit her by passing an antedated (in advance) order to “adjust” her against a post that is scheduled to be vacated two months later. While the HS may claim that his wife’s transfer was only “against a leave vacancy”, the orders, signed by him, clear exposes his game plan.

According to the transfer order, Babita Verma has not only been transferred against the leave vacancy of lecturer Gopika Bhardwaj but is to be further adjusted w.e.f. September 1, 2009, against the post to be vacated by Surjit Patheja, lecturer of home science, on her retirement on effect from August 31, 2009. Notably, this order is in super session of a previous order, information about which the administration is in no mood to part with.

It may be recalled that The Tribune had through its report “Ram Niwas does wife a good turn,” dated May 31, had highlighted the issue of the Home Secretary signing his wife’s transfer order reacting to which he had claimed it be a ‘routine’ affair. However, his wife’s transfer from Government Home Science College, Sector 10 to GCG 11, not only violates all norms of propriety but is also unprecedented since transfer from a Home Science College to regular Arts and science College is not usual in the city and the prescribed adjustment against the vacancy to be created, two months later, surely makes this transfer an advantage.

“Transfers are routine but this is not one of those. In terms of leave vacancy, the colleges generally make in house substitutions and rarely, a lecturer is roped in from another college. How many times a lecturer of Home Science College has been transferred to regular Arts and Science colleges? I have not heard a single such case. This act of antedated transfer proves that he misused his power to benefit his wife by using leave vacancy as a convenient way to get her adjusted permanently in this prized posting,” a city-based educationist said.

The action has evaded resentment among city bureaucrats as one of the senior bureaucrats says, ”What ever he did was against his chair’s propriety. It is known to every civil servant that if he is bound by the duty to decide in favour of a family member than a clear statement declaring intent of favour has to be proposed and recorded on the file, which is then put up to the next senior officer for his approval, to be decided solely on merit.”

“The act of giving such favours to one’s own wife under the garb of regular work is shameful and is a naked display of power which needs to be dealt with,” he added.

According to another senior official of the city, when the judges can withdraw from deciding on the cases pertaining to relatives, family members etc, then why he could not do so if it was just another regular transfer?



Sector-22 Fire Report-I
Inquiry comes down heavily on fire dept’s working
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
In a severe castigation of the fire department of the Municipal Corporation, the inquiry report into the recent Sector-22 fire, which claimed four lives, has concluded, which says “Firemen did not show any commitment in trying to save the lives of the trapped persons."

In fact, the inquiry conducted by ADC PS Shergill came down heavily on the functioning of the fire department saying that employees of the department have “perfected the art of masterful cover-up of their shortcomings.”

Some unanswered questions

  • Why the fire-fighting operations were delayed for about 44 minutes?
  • Why hydraulic platform was pressed into service one hour and 15 minutes late?
  • Were entries in the fire registered faked?
  • What about non-availability of public address system with the police, fire department?

"The cover-up starts the moment a fire call is received in the department control room. All entries of the timings after call are faked to prove ideal timings of their operations.... be it officers, be it firemen--everybody told lies on oath," the report recently submitted to the Chandigarh Administration revealed.

“People, who had escaped from the second floor (SCO 1026-27), were pleading with the firemen to evacuate their colleagues but the firemen insisted that there was nobody in the building,” the report said adding that the fire department and the police did not carry the public address system in order to control the crowd. Haphazard parking of vehicles and large number of people had reportedly hampered the fire-fighting operations.

Coming down heavily on the sorry state of affairs in the fire department, the report alleged that two station fire officers (SFOs) were always engaged in intrigues/conspiracies to project the other in poor light.

“Late induction of the hydraulic platform-cum-turntable ladder and its non-use for the evacuation of the trapped persons speaks volumes about the professional competence of the SFOs, who were neither in control of the fire-fighting operations nor in communication with their firemen or with each other,” it stated.

The report also disputed the department's claims of dispatching the first fire engine between 8.21 pm to 8.30 pm following the fire call at 8.21 pm saying that it was not “humanly possible to send a fire tender within half a minute after receiving the information about the fire.”

Besides this, it took 44 minutes or so for the fire department to place its fire tenders and fire teams for handling the fire incident. Surprisingly, the hydraulic platform was mobilised last (around one hour and 15 minutes late) whereas it was the only sophisticated and most-effective machine for the evacuation of the people trapped in fires.

Stressing on the need for immediate filling up of the post of the chief fire officer (CFO) through direct recruitment it said if the post was filled through promotion, it would spell disaster for the organisation.

Filling up the post of the CFO from the HCS/PCS officers was not the answer as these officials were busy in other administrative work, the report said suggesting a major revamp of the fire department.

(To be concluded)



Wrong Blood Transfusion
SC indicts PGI for woman’s death

New Delhi, June 3
The Supreme Court has indicted the Chandigarh-based PGI for the death of a woman by transfusing blood of a wrong group.

A bench of Justice DK Jain and Justice RM Lodha upheld a ruling by the National Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission, which had ordered the hospital to pay damages worth Rs 200,000 to the woman’s husband for causing her death due to gross medical negligence.

”Mismatched blood transfusion to a patient itself speaks of negligence. Considering the facts and circumstances of the case, it cannot be stated that the death of Harjit Kaur was not caused by the breach of duty on the part of the hospital and its attending staff,” the bench ruled in its May 29 verdict released later.

”Wrong blood transfusion is an error, which no hospital or a doctor exercising ordinary care would have made. Such an error is not an error of professional judgment but in the very nature of things a sure instance of medical negligence,” it said.

”The hospital’s breach of duty in mismatched blood transfusion contributed to her death, if not wholly, but surely materially,” the bench ruled.

Harjit Kaur of Ludhiana had suffered accidental burns up to 50 per cent on March 30, 1996, while making tea. She was rushed to the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital in Ludhiana where she received treatment till April 19, 1996.

The court found that though she had been recovering well, her husband shifted her to the PGI for further treatment, as the Ludhiana hospital was expensive. Her condition continued to improve at the PGI too.

But problems cropped up after the blood of the wrong group was transfused on May 20, 1996. Though she received blood of her own A+ group on May 15, on May 20, owing to oversight of the medical staff, she was given blood of the B+ group.

The consumer panel and the apex court, hearing her husband’s lawsuit, found that “owing to transfusion of mismatched blood, Harjit Kaur became serious; her hemoglobin levels fell down to 5 mg, and urea level went very high.”

”Later on, it transpired that due to the transfusion of mismatched blood, the patient’s kidney and liver got damaged and she died July 1, 1996,” the court noted.

The hospital had argued that the woman had died of septicaemia and not of mismatched blood transfusion.

The Punjab consumer commission and the national consumer commission in September 2000 had ordered PGI to pay damages worth Rs 200,000 to the woman’s husband, besides Rs 5,000 as litigation costs. The apex court ordered the hospital to pay Rs 20,000 more to him towards the litigation costs. — IANS



Car sandwiched between buses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
A tipsy man created ruckus, when he lied down before a Haryana Roadways bus, which resulted in banging in of a Honda city car that was sandwiched between a Haryana bus and an another private bus here today. The car occupants escaped unhurt.

The incident took place near the railway crossing on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway road. A visit to the spot revealed that Honda city (DLC-3-BA-1785) borne Rajesh Nagpal and his daughter were on their way back to their home at Sector 38 (West), when they had a miraculous escape.

Due to this chaos on the road, the commuters had to face tough time as the traffic remained jammed for about half an hour.

It was observed that the crane reached at the spot late.

Narrating the incident, Dharmender, the driver of the bus (HR-47- 8901), said a man suddenly appeared before the bus and laid down on the road. “Though I managed to save the man by applying brakes, but the Honda city car, which was coming from behind, crashed into rear of my bus,” said the driver.

According to the police, another private bus (CH-O3-C-5279) of Aujla Transport Co, which was behind the car, also rammed into the car’s rear. The driver of the car fled the spot. Meanwhile, the police arrested the drunkard man, Madan, a resident of Hallowmajra.



Adequate water a distant dream for Mohali
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, June 3
Despite the rapidly expanding town thirsting for more water each passing day, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has not bothered to get its act together to execute a major water project, which has been hanging fire for the past about six years.

Getting adequate water has become a distant dream for residents of Mohali because the completion and commissioning of the Phase V water pipeline from Kajauli to the town will take at least three years after the work gets started on the project. Residents have no choice except to make do with the available quantity of water and patiently wait for the day when the basic requirement of residents was fulfilled.

A scheme to provide 20 million gallons a day of canal water to Mohali through an independent line from Kajauli waterworks under Phase V to meet the requirement of the growing town was prepared by the PUDA (now GMADA) around 2003 but the project has failed to make any headway so far. Meetings were held to discuss the matter over the years, but the project was never placed on priority list by the authorities concerned.

The million dollar question that faced the authorities was as to who would fund the project, which would provide relief to lakhs of residents.

At the 32nd meeting of the PUDA held on February 15, 2006, the authority approved the project saying that PUDA’s financial commitment to the project should not exceed 50 per cent (capital + loan) and the work shall be commenced only after obtaining approval from the finance department, Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, and the Municipal Council, etc for the remaining half.

Later, the GMADA authorities decided to cover the water augmentation project under the Jawharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) so that funds could be taken from the Central government for the scheme. The Government of India had selected Mohali among three districts of Punjab for infrastructure and overall development under the JNNURM, for which an amount of Rs 360 crore was allocated.

It is learnt that last week, the GMADA authorities asked the Municipal Council through a letter to initiate action for the approval of the draft of the city development plan, which included laying of the pipeline to avail water from Kajauli, from the Punjab government. The draft has been forwarded by the council to Principal Secretary, Local Government, Punjab, for necessary action. The civic body had had an agreement with Wapcos Ltd, a private consultancy firm, to prepare the city development plan.

Sources said the estimated cost of the project worked out in 2003 was about Rs 60 crore, excluding the cost of the land, which was hiked to Rs 75 crore in 2006 and it was possible that the same work could now be got done by spending around Rs 100 crore.



UT going soft on adulterators
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
Despite its tall claims, the UT health department seems to be going soft on the adulterators and vendors selling exposed eatables.
Data with The Tribune revealed that the number of cases under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954, has drastically gone down over the years bringing the functioning of the health department under a cloud. This coupled with low conviction rate under the Act seems to have given a free hand to unscrupulous elements indulging in adulteration.

While the number of cases under Sections 49 and 50 (challans for the exposed food items) was maximum at 445 in 2004, the number came down to just 99 in 2008. The number of cases under the PFA Act, which was also highest in 2004 (81) dwindled to just eight last year.

In fact, the number of cases had been coming down year after year. While cases under Sections 49 and 50 came down from 337 in 2005 to 261 in 2006, the number fell to 169 in 2007.

Similarly, the number of cases under the PFA Act, which stood at 80 in 2005, declined to 44 in 2006 and 17 in 2007. And to top it all, the number of pending cases was a whopping 592--392 under Sections 49 and 50 and 200 under the PFA Act.

On the conviction front, the data showed that the conviction rate was impressive in the cases under Sections 49 and 50 with most of persons being convicted. However, in case of the PFA Act, a majority of the cases continued to be under trial in the courts.

Out of 81 cases taken up by the department under the PFA Act in 2004, 33 were decided and 11 convicted. As many as 22 persons were acquitted. Next year, 31 of the total 80 cases were decided. While 15 persons were convicted 16 went scotfree.



25 commandos deployed at Zirakpur, Dera Bassi
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, June 3
The police has finally waken up after the recent incidents of highway kidnapping and robberies. To maintain strict vigil on the crime incidents, the police has deployed 25 commandos in Zirakpur and Dera Bassi.

Senior police officials said a company of fully armed Punjab police commandos had been deployed in the district that patrols on the highways as well the inner section of the city. Police official said around 25 commandos would be deployed in Zirakpur and Dera Bassi, 25 in Kharar-Kurali area and the rest would be in Mohali city and its peripheries.

The police said the commandos would keep on moving in various areas in addition to the highways. The commandos would be in contact with the area police stations that would guide the commandos for any action.

The police said the commandos would also have a look in the societies, where the theft incidents were reported. “The commandos will be on duty from 11 pm till morning,” the police added.

The police officials said, “We have already started to lay nakas on the highways and strictly checking the doubtful vehicles.”

Last month, two incidents of highway robberies and kidnapping were reported, in which a UP-based married couple was kidnapped from the Chandigarh-Delhi national highway at Zirakpur and six unidentified persons were allegedly kidnapped a Sector 33 based businessman from Shahbad on GT Road (NH-1) at the gunpoint on May 27.



PGI docs pull off a miracle
Remove iron teeth of power tiller from farmer’s legs
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
Miracles do happen. And one happened today in the Orthopedic Operation Theatre of the PGI. Anyone, who had seen 27-year-old Santosh being carted into the PGI at 6 am today with sharp iron teeth of a power tiller pierced through his both legs, would have thought that he would never be able to stand on his feet. His relatives, too, had lost hope but after a grueling surgery of five hours, a team of orthopedics led by Dr Mandeep Dhillon, head of the orthopedic department, removed the tiller and prevented what could have been a sure shot amputation of his limbs.

If it was the advances made in orthopedic surgery that saved Santosh’s legs from being amputated, it was his sheer grit with which he managed to bear the pain for over 18 hours and undertook an arduous journey in an ambulance from Hamirpur to Chandigarh.

Santosh was working on his fields yesterday when he accidentally slipped from the tractor and fell on the power tiller.

The sharp teeth of the tiller pierced his legs and as people rushed to his help, after hearing his cries, they were shocked to see his state. “We did not know what to do,” a relative said. He said it took over three hours for them to detach the tiller from the tractor and when they reached the Tanda Hospital, they were advised to take Santosh to the PGI immediately.

Dr Mandeep Dhillon said, “We first removed the huge contraption by using tools to dismantle it. Then we proceeded with the surgery to salvage both his lower limbs.”

The case was very complicated, as both his legs were impaled, Dr Dhillon said. The team hopes that Santosh will recover soon.

Other doctors in the team included Dr Sameer Aggarwal, Dr Raghav, Dr Sarvdeep under consultation of Dr M S Dhillon.



Fire preparedness
MC claims fall flat
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
All efforts of the Municipal Corporation for “fire preparedness action plan” fall flat for two reasons. One non-availability of adequate marking machines with the Chandigarh administration that has resulted in an inordinate delay in executing the job of indicating the areas for fire zones in the city markets. Secondly, people especially higher officials themselves give two hoots to the fire rescue norms.

Even as Home Secretary Ram Niwas conducted a high-level meeting with the senior officials of the fire and emergency wing of the MC and district administration for the fire-fighting preparedness today, SSP Sudhanshu Srivastava’s official car (CH-01-G1- 6101) was found to be parked in the prohibited fire zone in Sector 17.

A wide strip in vibrant yellow is being marked in the market blocks as “fire zones”. This area has been demarcated specifically for the fire fighting vehicles and any other vehicle or hindrance in the passage is prohibited in the area.

This decision came in the wake of horrendous experience the fire department had when the fire tenders found hard times to reach the spot during the recent fire incident in Sector 22, which claimed four lives

Nevertheless, the intensity of the “fire preparedness action plan” could well be gauged from the fact that for over 50 market blocks of various sectors of the city, the administration can boast of having only “two marking machines”.

It has been observed that after a lapse of over nine days, the fire zones in Sector 17 market alone could not be marked. Reason: one of the two machines on the job developed technical snag. Ironically, neither of the administrative wing be it the Chandigarh Housing Board, fire department or the MC has sufficient number of marking machines.

When Additional Commissioner-cum-Chief Fire Officer PK Sharma came to know about this undue delay, he showed concern. “Just now, I came to know that the work is being slowed down because one of the machine got out of order. But we have informed the technical wing and the machine would be rectified soon”, he said.

However, to start with Sector 17 and Sector 22 markets have been chosen on first instance for marking the fire zones.

The area opposite Sahib Singh and Sons, CMC block, area opposite Mehfil Restaurant and Deputy Commissioner’s office have been marked but the similar job on the areas opposite Anand market, Bank Square, etc. has been stalled for “want of another marking machine”.

Meanwhile, PK Sharma at the meeting apprised that about 480 building owners have been issued show-cause notices for not installing fire-fighting equipment as per the National Building Code.

The department is in the process of purchasing latest fire-fighting equipment and undertake an extensive fire audit of buildings, hotels, petrol pumps, gas godowns and cinema halls from the point of view of fire safety.



Improving sex ratio top priority: Minister
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 3
A state-level workshop on the implementation of the PC and PNDT Act to create awareness for the cause of girlchild and improving sex ratio and curbing sex selective foeticide was organised here yesterday on the premises of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation.

Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Health and Family Welfare Minister, inaugurated the workshop. Addressing participants, she emphasised that improving sex ratio in the state was one of the top most priorities of the government.

She said there was a strong need to bring changes in the mindset of the people, who still had preferences for sons. She administered an oath to the participants for pledging their committed support towards the cause of girlchild.

AR Talwar, Principal Secretary, Health, said the declining sex ratio in the country was a matter of serious concern, which required steps like intensive and sustained awareness generation campaigns in favour of the girlchild as well as strict enforcement of provisions of the PC & Pre- Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PNDT).

He added that initiatives like the Balri Rakshak Yojna, prizes for panchayats, prizes for informers and incentives for decoys, along with strict enforcement of the PNDT Act, were being taken in Punjab to check the declining sex ratio.

Others who spoke on the occasion were Satish Chandra, secretary, Health & Mission, Director, National Rural Health Mission, Dr S.P.S. Sohal, Director Health & Family Welfare, Dr. J.P. Singh, Director Family Welfare.

Dr. V.K. Goyal State Nodal Officer PNDT gave presentation on causes of decline in child sex-ratio, i.e. Mindset and Social Trend. He informed that there were 1347 registered ultra-sound centres in Punjab out of which the registration of 311 centres had been suspended/ cancelled from time to time under section 20 for violation of PNDT Act. FIRs against 103 centers had been lodged and 14 centres had been convicted by courts for PNDT violations.

The workshop was attended by Deputy Commissioners, Civil Surgeons, SMOs and appropriate authorities under the PNDT Act.



Administration of Jails
Retired judges to head panels
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court believes that the jail manual is being violated in both states “so far as the administration and conditions in the jails are concerned” and has constituted two committees headed by retired HC judges. The Bench comprising Chief Justice Tirath Singh Thakur and Justice Jasbir Singh has ruled: “Reports submitted before us indicate in no uncertain terms there is complete violation of the provisions of the jail manual so far as the administration and conditions in the jails in both states are concerned."

Grey areas

The high court says the problem areas requiring immediate attention include: old and dilapidated buildings, over crowding, delay in trial, neglect of health and hygiene, insufficient food, clothing and medical facilities, lack of amenities to treat and rehabilitate mentally-ill prisoners/undertrials along with implementation of the NHRC recommendations on care and treatment of mentally-challenged prisoners.

“As to how the situation can be improved, the rights of the inmates protected and a reformative approach implemented, is the next question. That aspect can be taken care of by appointing a committee each for the two states comprising three eminent citizens, having expertise in their own fields, to look into the problems,” the Bench maintained. It added that the committee for Punjab would consist of Justice Amar Dutt, retired IPS officer, Mohammed Izhar Alam, and retired IAS officer GPS Shahi.

The other committee for Haryana would have Justice Jai Singh Sekhon, retired IPS officer VK Kapoor and retired IAS officer RR Banswal. The directions came on a bunch of petitions, including one filed against the state of Punjab and others by Dr Upneet Lalli. A social activist, she is currently working as deputy director with the Institute of Correctional Administration, Chandigarh.

In its detailed order, the Bench observed: “No doubt the jail manual is a good guide for the jail administration, however, we feel it needs a re-look, keeping in view the provisions made in model prison manual. “In view of the order passed by us on July 31, 2006, in civil writ petition number 10791 of 2002, all three states are under an obligation to implement recommendations made by the NHRC regarding mentally-ill prisoners/undertrials.

"As on date, we can reasonably expect the states are bound to adhere to and comply with the parameters for the jail administration as laid down in jail manuals, till its modification, which is a exhaustive document and deals with every aspect of the jail administration,” the Bench observed.



Training programme for rural women begins
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 3
Under the “Mai bhago Istri Shakti” scheme, a training programme for 41 women from Santo Majra, Khijrabad, Khooni Majra and Mastgarh villages began here on Monday.

A one-week skill development programme for rural women organised by the Indian Council of Social Welfare, Punjab, and department of cooperation, Punjab, was inaugurated by Lady Governor Jean Rodrigues.

She said skill development was the key to the transformation of the destiny of women in Punjab. Time has come when women should contribute financially to the family budget. The participants are being imparted training in food preservation, pickle, jam, squashes making, training of tie and dye and detergents making.

Dr Vanita Gupta, vice-president of the council, said the programme was the beginning and several programmes for women empowerment and child health family counselling would follow soon. She said the council had started “Rahat - women helpline” to respond to women in trouble because of domestic violence and property disputes.



Polybags seized from 21 shops
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
To enforce a ban on polythene bags, a drive was conducted in Sectors 32, 35, 36, 37, 38 and 40.

Polythene bags were seized from 21 shops during the drive, which was conducted by the enforcement staff comprising inspectors of the food and supplies department and the medical officer of health (MOH) under the supervision of Prerna Puri, SDM (South).

The city administration has imposed a complete ban on the use and sale of polythene bags in the city with effect from October 2 last year. The notification in this regard was issued under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, for banning the use, storage, import, selling, transportation and disposal of polythene and plastic carry bags by any person in the city.



Honour for SHO
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
UT IGP SK Jain yesterday conferred a commendation certificate on SHO of the Mani Majra police station Kehar Singh for speedy probe into a murder case in which the accused was convicted within three months of committing the crime.

It is for the first time in the history of the Chandigarh Police that charge sheet of the murder case was submitted in the court in 14 days and the accused was convicted within three months of the registration of the case.

In recognition to his best performance in finalisation of the case which ended in conviction, the IGP appreciated the efforts made by inspector Kehar Singh and granted him a Commendation Certificate Class-I with a cash reward of Rs 1,000.



Office-bearers elected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
Following the elections of the local Central Administrative Tribunal Bar Association, Arvind Moudgil and KK Thakur have been appointed as president and vice-president, respectively, for 2009-10. Rohit Seth has been elected as secretary while Jagdeep Jaswal and JR Syal have been elected as joint secretary and treasurer, respectively, according to a statement issued here today.

Other executive members are Deepak Agnihotri, AL Vohra, Dharindra Shukla, Sanjay Goyal and Sanjiv Sharma.



Six jhuggis gutted in fire

Mohali, June 3
Six jhuggis were destroyed in a fire that broke out in Jhujhar Nagar here this afternoon. Most of the persons living in the colony had gone out to work when the incident occured.

Those present in the colony tried to douse the fire by throwing buckets of water on it. The fire was brought under control by fire brigade employees. The belongings of the migrants got destroyed in the fire. No loss of life was, however, reported. — OC



400 students secure a ton
Cut-off marks for college entry to rise further
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
With more than 400 students securing almost a ton, admissions to various city colleges is surely not going to be a cakewalk, with cut off marks expected to rise further.

As compared to the last year there has been 89 per cent increase in the students securing 90 per cent in various streams. If one goes by educationists, it’s not the intelligence but the marking scheme and paper pattern that are doing wonders.

“It not that students were not intelligent earlier, but the papers at that time used to be subjective. Now, the papers like that of History also carries objective questions, thus such a high marks. Thus, percentage can surely not reflect the factual intelligence of a student,” KS Saluja, Principal, Government College, Sector- 46, said.

Whatever could be the reason, but the scoring rate that has delighted the city might not prove to be sweeter in long run given the fact that neither the number of colleges nor the seats in various courses has increased in proportion to the number of students who have hit the magic figure. Thus, many might miss a chance to take up desired courses in preferred colleges by a whisker.

“I am amazed at the trend. With so many students securing a ton admissions are surely going to be difficult. Since the number of seats can not be increased every year, thus many students who actually have an aptitude for a particular course might miss the seat there,” asserted RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University.

“The trend is an actual reflection of our evaluation system as these marks don’t ensure academic sustainability. There are many who even after securing 90 per cent have not been able to clear even the first semester of the courses they opted for. I think rather than depending on these numeric figures we should have entrance tests to judge the right aptitude,” he added.

It’s going to be the popular courses that might face the brunt, as according to sources, while almost 300 students have performed reasonably well in the commerce stream they shall have to test their ability to pass for 116 seats reserved for the stream.

Similarly, the medical students shall have to scramble for around 31 seats in the medical college and around 100 in the biotechnology course, etc.

“We are one of the most sought after girl’s college in the city and seeing this year’s trend, it’s expected that the courses like economics etc may not be able to accommodate students securing less than 93 per cent”, asserted a faculty member of MCM DAV College, Sector-36.

However, many colleges see it beneficial for several vocational courses, as students now in wake of high cut off in traditionally popular courses will explore the new ones.



City schools to start aviation courses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 3
Chandigarh schools will groom the upcoming pilot and airhostess under their vocational courses from the next session. The education department of the UT administration has sent a proposal in this regard to the CBSE for introducing aviation course in the schools under vocational section.

The education department is planning to call the experts of the aviation industry to guide the students about career options in this field. The department has shortlisted the top companies, whose representatives were available in the city. The course would be mainly focussed on the basic training to students in this industry.

According to records, at present, there are 22 schools in the city, having various vocational courses. But with the increasing scope of the vocational courses among the students, authorities are planning to extend the facility of vocational courses in seven more schools of the city.

One of the officials said there were over 750 students, who were admitted under vocational courses, but with the increase in demand, the schools authorities were planning to add a number of courses in the schools. Official said the number of schools under this course would be increased if the demand for this course was taken well by the students. The DPI, Samwartak Singh, said the department had sent the proposal for approval of aviation course to the CBSE, but they had also asked the schools to suggest the vocational courses, which were in demand among students, in view of the changed scenario.



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