C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Jet Airways flight delayed by six hrs
Technical snag leaves passengers stranded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
A technical glitch in the Jet Airways (Chandigarh-Mumbai) plane left 145 passengers stranded for around six hours at the Chandigarh airport today. While 124 passengers opted to wait at the airport due to expensive “spot booking of tickets” of the alternative airlines, 21 cancelled tickets and boarded the Kingfisher flight to Mumbai.

As soon as the flight started at the scheduled time i.e. 12:55 pm, the pilot detected an “avionics” problem and noticed a technical fault, following which technicians were called from Mumbai to fix it.

“We were onboard till about 3:30 pm and were not informed clearly about the snag,” said Rajiv, a passenger, who was here for a meeting.

The delay even caused some passengers to cancel the entire schedule of a subsequent flight from Mumbai. “I had to leave for Nasik after Mumbai, but the delay has upset all my plans,” another passenger said.

In an interesting incident at the airport, a young gentleman who has his wedding in Goa tomorrow, was left helpless among passengers. He, then, boarded the next flight to Mumbai of an alternative airline.

Meanwhile, the staff tried its best to keep the passengers entertained, providing them extra meal and showing a movie onboard.

Jet Airways also offered to arrange an alternative flight to Mumbai from Delhi, but the passengers were asked to pay the fare till Delhi, which many could not afford instantly.

Finally, a crew of four technicians reached the airport via a special Kingfisher flight to change spare parts of the airplane at around 6 pm, and finally, the flight departed for Mumbai at 6:30 pm.



White tigress dies at Chhatbir zoo
Gurdeep Singh Mann
Tribune News Service

Banur, June 20
A four-year-old white tigress, Yamini, was found dead in her enclosure at Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park today morning.

At around 9 am, the zookeeper found that the animal was inactive and informed senior officials. The tigress was rushed to the zoo hospital where she was declared dead. As per the zoo employees, the tigress was healthy yesterday and was also put on display the entire day.

Zookeeper Sudhir Kumar was assigned the task of looking after the animal for the past many months. He used to leave the zoo at 5 pm after feeding the tigress and inspecting its surroundings and come back the next day at 9 am. For the night, an attendant was deployed to provide fresh water to the animals. The night attendant said that the tigress had little water at around 8.30 pm.

The statements of employees looking after the animal has been recorded by the senior officials of the zoo and the post-mortem was conducted at the zoo hospital by a panel of three doctors, including two zoo doctors, and one from the animal husbandry department.

The zoo officials said efforts were being made to inquire the reason behind the death. An official said that snakebite could be a possibility in the zoo, but the exact cause of death would be ascertained only after the post-mortem report. The tigress was brought from the Delhi zoo three years back.



Roundabouts to be revived
Admn proposes to do away with traffic lights at rotaries
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Contrary to the general perception that traffic lights help in regulating the flow of traffic, the Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) opined that the old roundabouts are the best bet for smooth flow of traffic in the city.

In order to plan seamless transport connectivity, probably on the recommendations of the RITES, the Chandigarh administration has proposed to do away with traffic lights and revive the old rotary roundabouts at the potentially troubled traffic snarl points.

The move is being initiated with the traffic light point of Sectors 18-17-8-9, popularly known as the Press Chowk. This decision, sources said, came following a study conducted by RITES for underpasses, to ease the congestion on the city roads and for introducing the Mass Rapid Transport System, which includes metro, bus Rapid Transit System and Commuters Rail Service (CRS), estimated to be over Rs 15,000 crore.

Incidentally, junction No. 20, as this intersection is known in administrative terms, was the first rotary point that was removed to replace with traffic lights.

The other junctions identified as having severe traffic congestion Kisan Bhawan Chowk (Jn 38), Picaddily Chowk (Jn 34), Transport Chowk (Jn 43), Tribune Chowk and Matka Chowk. Apart from cutting down the waiting period of motorists at traffic lights, the travelling time, too, will be reduced, the motorists opined.

Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar said the immediate reason for reviving the roundabouts at the Press Chowk was to check traffic snarls. Besides, the RITES had also recommended for rotaries and doing away with traffic lights after observing locations of bus queue shelters on the V3 roads along with pedestrian underpasses.

Due to rapid increase in vehicles coupled with marginal increase in road infrastructure, traffic and transportation problems had been growing rapidly. Madhya Marg, Dakshin Marg, Himalaya Marg and Jan Marg were the roads catering to the maximum traffic.

The engineering department, Chandigarh, has carried out a study regarding traffic movement at the Press Chowk, which revealed that 35,420 vehicles, equivalent to 27,050 passenger car units (PCUs), which include 9,600 cycles, 1,600 cycle rickshaws, 11,500 two-wheelers, 12,450 cars, 250 bus/truck and 20 animal-drawn vehicles, which pass the chowk during peak hours. Out of these, it has been found that 14,100 PCUs include the traffic from Panchkula to the PGI and vice versa.

“The construction of underpasses will solve the problem. It would allow uninterrupted movement of traffic at the intersections, thereby increasing the capacity of road carriageway. With the construction of the underpass, these 14,100 PCUs will use the underpass, thereby reducing the traffic at the intersection to 12,950 PCUs, which means a reduction by 52 per cent,” the finance secretary added.

“It has also been observed that most of the accidents occur during night hours when the traffic lights are in idle mode. Whereas, on roundabouts, the speed of vehicles has to be decreased, which is one of the reasons of re-establishing the rotaries instead of traffic lights,” he added.



Nari Niketan Rape Case
One-day police remand for Maya
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
A local court today remanded Maya, nurse-cum-attendant at Nari Niketan, to one-day police custody for allegedly destroying menstrual cycle record of inmates.

The public prosecutor, seeking a four-day remand for Maya, now a prime suspect in the Nari Niketan rape case, said there was need to question her on the motivation of destruction of records, involvement of other persons and more such details of the case.

However, the request was turned down when the defence lawyer objected to it saying that the evidence had been erased already.

Meanwhile, in the ongoing investigations, the police today revealed that it was only the page pertaining to the victim in the records that was destroyed.

Interestingly, the police claimed that during interrogation, Maya had confessed to destroying evidence “under instructions” from senior functionaries of the institute.

Following her disclosure, the police today questioned some senior functionaries of Nari Niketan, who reportedly said the record was informal and was maintained by Maya on her own. Though the cops find it amusing, as any record maintained by an employee has to be official.

Admitting that there could be possibility of a cover up, the police did not rule out the possibility of more arrests in the case.

A senior police official was optimist about cracking the case soon, as according to him, they had procured important evidences and leads in the case.



Contractual teachers released
Tribune News Service

Contractual teachers outside the SDM court at Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Saturday.
Contractual teachers outside the SDM court at Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Saturday. — Tribune photo by Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, June 20
All the 75 contract teachers, who were arrested yesterday by the UT police on the grounds of violating peace under Section 144 for holding protest rally, were released after warning by the Duty Magistrate today.

The teachers of the Chandigarh education department staged protest at Matka chowk yesterday, in continuation of their ongoing protest for regularising of their services and were rounded up and taken to the Sector 17 police station late evening yesterday.

Till late night yesterday, the police denied to grant bail to any teacher and told their relatives and friends that they would only be released after orders from the Duty Magistrate.

Sources said at late night, most of the lady teachers started complaining about suffocation and few of them fainted in the jail.

To avoid any trouble, the police officials immediately contacted their higher officials for seeking further action. The officials said at about one o’clock in night, the SDM came to police station and after fulfilling the formalities released the lady teachers. But 16 male teachers, who had spent the whole night in the jail, were released this afternoon.

According to one of the female teacher, some of the female teachers started fainting in the jail due to suffocation.

She said last night at 9 pm, when two of the female teachers complained of high blood pressure, they were immediately released from the jail.

All the female teachers, who were released, condemned the action taken against them by the administration and the police today in front of Sector 17 police station.

The teachers said if their demand of regularisation in service was not accepted, they would go on a hunger strike. Teachers said they would meet Chandigarh MP and Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal tomorrow for redressal of their grievances.

Teachers’ spokesman said he had called a meeting of the contract teachers on June 22, 2009, to decide the further course of action to get their demands accepted by the administration.

Meanwhile, many trade unions of Punjab and UT, and joint action committee of teachers, condemned the action of the UT administration against teachers and assured their full support to the agitating teachers.



RTI Users’ Association formed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Taking the watchdog role a step further, a group of organisations and individuals yesterday launched an official association for RTI Users at Chandigarh.

The national level users’ organisation has been mooted similar to the “Bar Association” in the courts. Activist H.C. Arora was today nominated as the first convenor of the RTI Users’ Association with an objective to further strengthen and formalise the operation of the association in the coming six months. The association has already formed an online webportal at www.rightto.info for easy registration of all the RTI users across the country.

“Though it will take some time to have proper organisational structure at all the state headquarters where the office of Information Commission operates, but to kick start the initiative, we shall be starting from Punjab and Haryana,” Hemant Goswami of the Citizens’ Voice said.

“It’s four years since the enactment of RTI Act. Hundreds of scams and anomalies have been unearthed by the use of RTI. In these years, all of us have realised that there is a need for greater interaction among the RTI users and further dissemination of information/awareness about the RTI Act to the common public, and so the RTI Users’ Association is being formed,” Kamal Anand of the People for Transparency added.

Hitender Jain of Resurgence India said the national level web portal shall be developed by collaborative efforts and shall include details like, introduction to RTI Act, online support for queries, Discussion forum for the RTI users, online social networking of the activists, etc.”

“I can see this initiative growing from strength to strength. One must remember that this is the first such association in any quasi-judicial body wherein the common man shall have equal representation. Rightto.info shall also prove to be an excellent platform for all users to interact and tackle the aberrations in a collaborative manner,” he added.

The interactive platform at www.rightto.info is free for all RTI users, which shall have a special section on youth too. “The veterans of RTI shall be taking on the mentoring role for the young people who are keen to use RTI. The platform shall prove to a useful tool for transfer of knowledge from the experts to the youth in a very easy and systematic manner,” Dr Gaurav Chabbra explained.

The newly formed RTI Users Association also mooted that the week between 15th June and 21st June (when RTI Act was promulgated) would be marked as “Transparency Week” every year.



District admn for smoke-free Mohali
Tribune News Service

Challenge for the Mohali administration: An illegal kiosk sells tobacco products in Mohali. Tribune photo by Vicky Gharu

Mohali, June 20
A day after Kalgidhar Sewa Jatha, an NGO, announced to move the court over poor implementation of the Anti-Tobacco Act, the Mohali district administration today announced its endeavour to make the city smoke-free.

A District Tobacco Control Committee has been constituted to implement the Act.

To begin with, the district administration has started with awareness campaign in educational institutions and putting up anti-smoking messages at public places across the town. “We want to devote the new few weeks till July 15 on awareness campaign before proceeding with action. An awareness messages, through electronic and print media, would also be spread,” said the Deputy Commissioner, Mohali, Prabhjot Singh Mand, here today.

The departments concerned and the police authorities have been asked to strictly implement the orders after the awareness period was over. The DC said the municipal council authorities had been asked to remove unauthorised kiosks, selling tobacco products, especially near educational institutions and religious places.

While convening a meeting of the officials concerned, the DC directed them to ensure that no one violated the laws in their respective offices. The tobacco warning boards would be put up in the government, semi-government and as well in the private offices that were accessed by the public.

The nodal officer-cum-district health officer, SP Surila, said no person was allowed to smoke in the public places, like hospitals, government offices, private offices, hotels, restaurants, dhabas, ahatas, parks, markets, parkings, cinema halls, marriage palaces, resorts, auditoriums, even if open ones, malls, shopping complexes, bus stops, bus stands, railway stations, buses, trains and religious places.

He said that the heads of educational institutions had powers to challan violating provisions of the Act within 100 metres distances from the boundary wall of the respective institution.

Jatinderpal Singh from Kalgidhar Sewa Jatha, Amteshwar Kaur, a councillor and Dr Sarabdeep Singh of Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle are among the members of the action committee.



Thousands left jobless as state bans mining
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 20
Work on the Jalla road on the bank of the Ghaggar river in Chandimandir, an area buzzing with hectic activities, has come to a halt once again. The mining in the area has been stopped after the state government decided not to renew the permits for excavation in the river following the Punjab and Haryana High Court judgement declaring all areas notified by the forest department in 1997 under Sections 3 and 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, as forest land.

This was, however, not for the first time when the mining in the area was stopped, resulting in thousands of families leaving for other destinations for livelihoods as well as spiralling of prices of building material. It was on April 7 last year when the mining was suspended at the quarrying sites in the Ghaggar and other rivulets of Panchkula, following a litigation in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The problem was, however, overcome when the mines and geology department, Panchkula, had granted 55 minor minerals quarries comprising of 10 different zones of the district on short-term permit basis for a period of 30 days for extraction of boulder, gravel and sand on June 23.

Though the state government has sought the opinion of the Advocate General on the issue, the full stop to mining in the area is bound to hit the developmental activities in the region.

Last year, after the work was stopped at the rivers, the region witnessed a severe shortage of material. The gravel, which was being sold at the rate of Rs 600 per hundred cubic feet, had been increased up to Rs 1,500 now. The price of small gravel (jeera) used for laying upper layers of lintel and submersible pumps had been increased up to 10 times. One hundred cubic feet of ‘jeera’, available at the rate of Rs 650, was sold for Rs 6,500.

Even the repair of roads in the area was affected.

The issue, however, had another aspect relating to the bread for thousands of families depending upon the activities here.

The area from Burj Kotian to Jalla village, known as crusher zone, houses at least 5,000 families of workers at washing plants, quarrying at the river bed and crushers.



Open drains pose threat to residents
Gaurav Sharma

Chandigarh, June 20
The road gullies of Sector 15-D, lying open for couple of months, bring the shoddy way of work of the Municipal Corporation once again to the fore. The residents have been experiencing inconvenience as they have to be cautious while walking on the pavements, lest they could fall into these uncovered gullies.

A visit to the site revealed that some of the gullies, which were covered, were on the brink of caving in. The situation would be worse since the monsoon is round the corner and the corporation has not taken any step to get them covered.

Tajinder, a resident of Sector 15, said, “The Municipal Corporation had built these gullies for the drainage of rainwater. However, these drains have been left open. These uncovered drains are accident prone as anyone can fall into them. The work has been lingering for couple of months.”

Instead of serving the purpose of water drainage, these gullies have become dustbins where garbage is dumped everyday. Though the job is halfway done, the drain could have been covered to prevent any untoward incident.

MCC chief engineer SK Bansal when asked about the delay in the work had no inkling about the matter. The laxity in the functioning of the MC amply shows its apathy towards civic amenities.

“I was not aware of these uncompleted road gullies. Since residents are facing problems we will complete the work very soon,” said Bansal.



Course on fungal infections concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The 7th PGI-ICMR-WHO-INSA national training course on fungal infections was concluded with a valedictory function at medical microbiology department of PGI here today.

Prof Arunaloke Chakrabarti, chief resource person, discussed the method of identification of medically important fungi. He discussed the techniques in an interactive session. Sunita Gupta, a technologist, discussed the methods of preservation of important fungi for long duration to conduct research.

In an interactive session on issues and programme implementation, the participants discussed the present scenario of various mycology laboratories of the country.

According to experts, there are few good diagnostic mycology laboratories in the country. Authorities should take special attention to the neglected area as fungal infections in terminally ill patients in the hospitals in the country are on the rise.

The participants felt that they learnt diagnostic mycological techniques beyond their expectation during the course. But they require further support from the Centre for Advanced Research in medical mycology at PGI, Chandigarh, for the identification of the difficult fungal isolates, getting standard reagents and other facilities.



Power Crisis
Industry resents increased weekly offs
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 20
Already reeling under severe power cuts, the industry received yet another jolt on Saturday when Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) imposed another weekly off on it.

Against the earlier off day from Saturday (8 am) to Sunday (8 am), the power supply to the industry will remain off till Monday (8 am).

Expressing resentment on the extended power cuts, president of the Mohali Industries’ Association B.S. Anand said due to the previous schedule the workforce had been called on Sunday. He said there are many industries manufacturing consumable goods and others, which are exporting units. Despite repeated assurances from the Punjab government and the PSEB that there will be no power cuts other than the compulsory weekly off day for industries, this sudden imposition of two day power cut has come as a shock, he added.

Anand said erratic power supply and long cuts had brought the industry on the verge of closure.

General secretary of the association K.S. Mahal said: “The industry is already facing problems due to recession and now with extended weekly-offs, it will be difficult for the local industry to survive.”



Missing Jewellery
Mankotia again blames bank
Sandeep Rana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
In yet another flip-flop, Harminder Singh Mankotia, who yesterday claimed that he might have left the locker open that led to the alleged theft of his jewellery worth lakhs, was back to blaming the bank again, saying the locker’s lock was faulty.

Speaking to The Tribune today, he claimed that while he had intimated the police about the lock’s problem yesterday only, he went to verify it once again as per their instructions.

“When I went there, I found that though the key gets released, the locker wasn’t still locked properly. I doubt the same had been the case when I had operated my locker last time. I told the police everything yesterday only, but today, when I reached station after verifying it as per their instructions, the officer in charge, Jaspal Bhullar, didn’t turn up and neither contacted me,” he asserted.

He also claimed that the police official who was supposed to accompany him to the locker today actually dropped him at the bank and left.

However, neither the bank officials nor the police commented on the issue.

It may noted that Mankotia had raised a hue and cry at the Sector 22 branch of the Punjab National Bank on June 18, claiming that jewellery worth about 10 lakh was missing from his locker when he operated it that day.



City Rock Band award for ‘Harmonic Friction Ensemble’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The Voice of Chandigarh competition concluded here today.

The Harmonic friction ensemble was given the Chandigarh rock band award and Dharampal and party bagged the Chandigarh orchestra award.

In category A ( 10-18 years), Shakshar Sharma was the winner while Tushar Bansal was the runner-up. Among girls, Manjeet Kaur stood first and Kiran second.

In category B (19-25 years), Bobby stood first while Harsha bagged the second position. Among boys, Azad Kumar stood first and Vishal second.

In category C (26 years and above), Alok stood first while Sanjay got second position. Among girls, none of the contestants were awarded.

The director Tourism, Samwartak Singh, distributed prizes to the winners. The chief judge, SD Sharma, released a Punjabi cassette “ Niki Niki gal” by singer Gurmeet Singh on the occasion.



Dolly Guleria casts Sufiana spell
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, June 20
The spiritual sanctity of Sufiana qalaams and melodic grace of Punjabi folklore were displayed during a music concert by leading Punjabi singer, Dolly Guleria, at Randhawa Auditorium here today.

The programme, which was organised by Pracheen Kala Kendra to mark the 79th birth anniversary of its founder Guru Madan Lal Koser, was attended and applauded by art lovers.

Dolly Guleria commenced the concert with rendition of Sufi mystic Shah Hussain’s invocation “Taarin Rabaa” and sang Baba Bulle Shah’s song “ Hazi lok make wal jaande”.

She doled out songs like Abdul Khan Saheb’s ‘Dil kunj wangun kurlaave’, ‘Nikka jeha dil’, ‘lok boliyan’ and romantic number ‘Ambersarre de papad’.

The team of accompanists included Puneet , Surinder Kumar, Rakesh, Debashish Dhar, Dharampal and Kuljit Bakshi.

Kendra registrar Guru Shobha Koser honoured the artistes.



Govt directive against illegal use of LPG
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas has directed all the oil companies, supplying domestic LPG, to issue notices to the consumers who were illegally using the gas to operate appliances like geysers, air conditioners.

Quoting Section 3(i)(c) of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (regulation of Supply and Distribution) Order, 2000, the ministry in a communiqué to the oil companies has stated that under the public distribution system, any person having the connection can not use it for any purpose other than for which the consumer is registered with the distributor of a government oil company.

All the LPG distributors have also been asked to inform the consumers that use of gas for running geysers, air conditioners and for running vehicles would attract cancellation of the connection. 



Blood donation camp held at PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The Thalassaemic Children Welfare Association (TCWA) organised 108th blood donation camp, fourth in series of six blood donation camps at Zakir Hall, PGI, here today.

The camp was inaugurated by SK Sharma, chief manager of the State Bank of India.

He praised the efforts of TCWA, especially during summer months, when there is an acute shortage of blood.

He congratulated the donors, hailing from Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

More than 245 donors donated the blood. A team of doctors and technicians, headed by Dr Neelam Marwaha, head of blood transfusion department and also member of the medical advisory board of the association.



Goods worth lakhs gutted
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, June 20
Goods, including machinery and raw material worth lakhs of rupees, were gutted in a fire broken out at two adjoining shops located on Pabhat road in Zirakpur on Saturday early morning.

According to the fire brigade department, a fire tender was rushed to the spot and started the fire fighting operation, which lasted one hour. The reason behind the fire was yet to be ascertained, the fire officer said. The shop owners claimed the late arrival of fire brigade behind an estimated loss of Rs 4 lakh.

The chairman of the Punjab Co-operative Bank, Jasjeet Singh Bunny, also visited the burnt shops.



PU Budget
Lower-level staff ignored
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
While Panjab University might have battled all deficits to roll out its “near-perfect” budget, it seems to have altogether forgotten the officials at the lowest levels of hierarchy.

The rosy picture put forth by declarations of insurance and corpus schemes prove to be a mere eye-wash as the university had failed to even provide the salaries of security guards since last three months, leave aside any incentives.

The guards, who claim to have approached the officials many times, are infuriated and frustrated at constant indifference and seem to be all determined to stage an intensive protest.

“If they can buy bridge worth lakhs of rupees for beautification, then what hinders them from providing our salaries in time? We got to know about the budget, but surprisingly, while many people are being promised loans and insurances, they have not bothered to check that how are those, whom they claim to be an integral part of machinery, feeding their kids without pay? We are sole bread winners and this meagre amount means a lot to us,” said one of the security guards.

It may be noted that these guards had even staged a dharna on the university premises and according to them, were promised a salary by next week.

“We have realised that if you do not protest with media glare, they do not bother. I had to pay my daughter’s fee and was thus forced to sell my bicycle. We do not earn in lakhs of rupees and nor we spend money on building gardens, but on getting humble food and education for our kids. If we continue our work without salaries, it is our loyalty towards the institution,” added another resident.

The issue has educed support among the student groups as SOPU has decided to stage a vigorous protest if the university fails to release its pay by Tuesday.

“They are vital for university’s function and its high time officials realise their worth. We support their demand and if required, will protest on their behalf,” claimed Brinder Dhillon, president of SOPU.



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