C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


First swine flu case in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
A young computer science student has tested positive for swine flu, becoming first patient in the city to have contracted the viral infection, UT health officials said.

The 19-year-old youth had arrived at his house in Gurdaspur on June 21 and came to the city yesterday, where he was hospitalised at the GMSH-16 following symptoms of swine flu, a doctor at the GMSH, where the patient has been quarantined, said.

“The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), Delhi, where his throat swab sample was forwarded for a lab test, confirmed the presence of the H1N1 virus,” HC Gera, UT nodal officer, swine flu, told The Tribune.

Though the patient’s condition was described as stable, he was likely to be kept in the hospital for at least a week, he said.

This was the first confirmed case of swine flu in Chandigarh, although more than 20 suspected cases had been reported and proved negative over the past one month, Gera said.

Meanwhile, a family of seven, residing in Sector 40-A, had been quarantined by the UT health department as they were reportedly in close contact with an HINI flu patient. “None of the family members, however, has shown any symptoms of swine flu yet,” he said, adding that they would be examined twice a day.

“The family would not be allowed to move out of their house for seven days and no visitor would be allowed to see them. Drugs would be administered to them, besides the physical examination,” he said.

Meanwhile, another suspected case of H1N1 influenza, a 25-year-old woman of Ludhiana who arrived here from Australia, has been kept quarantined and is under observation at the GMSH.

“She returned to the city after a short stay in Australia and showed symptoms of swine flu like sore throat and fever.

Her throat swab samples have been sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases for test. The reports would come in a day, Gera added.



... Also, cholera confirmed in Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 23
Even as more patients suffering from diarrhoea are pouring in at the Civil Hospital here, five of the eight samples sent to the PGI of patients admitted from Mohali village have tested positive for cholera and doctors suspect there may be more such cases among persons undergoing treatment.

As many as 120 persons out of the 200 who came to the hospital OPD today suffered from simple diarrhoea.

Only three of them were admitted for treatment. Samples of eight patients were sent for test on Sunday to the medical microbiology department of the PGI, the reports of which were received today.

Amita, Sanjay, Daljeep Kaur, Kajal and Iqbal Singh, all in the age group of 5 to 54, have tested positive for cholera. One more report is awaited.

District Health Officer SP Surila said the two tubewells that had been sunk illegally at Mohali village had been stopped from functioning today.

Though a report of the water samples collected from these tubewells had not been received so far, it was suspected that its water was not fit for drinking as these were shallow tubewells and the owner was supplying water through tankers which were not clean.

The authorities concerned had been asked to supply clean drinking water to residents of the village, he added.



No stopping these quacks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Every summer, it is a boom time for hundreds of self-styled doctors dotting slums, villages and rehabilitation colonies in the tricity, thanks to the callous attitude of the health authorities.

This year is no exception. The outbreak of water-borne diseases in slums and rehabilitation colonies is again witnessing ill-informed patients swarming at clinics of bogus medical practitioners for cheap medicines.

A Tribune team found unhygienic conditions were common to all such clinics. In Sector 56, a former safai karamchari, Kamlesh, had graduated into a “medical practitioner” and operates from Kumar Clinic. He was employed at the clinic as a cleaner, but later “graduated” to administering injections and first aid. Now, he claims to be a medical practitioner.

In some cases, one degree was being used to run a chain of clinics. If at one clinic, the degree holder was attending to patients, at another place, his assistant was examining patients. There are several such self-styled doctors who are putting the health of patients at risk.

“It seems that the death of someone at the hands of such doctors would wake up the administrations from slumber,” Dr Rajan Chug, a Sector 21-based doctor, said.

Not only in Chandigarh, such persons are operating from colonies and slums in Panchkula and Mohali. There are some such doctors who open their shop following the outbreak of water-borne diseases.



Winter special to Allahabad from September
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Preparing in advance to tackle the heavy rush expected during the Durga Puja and Diwali season, the North Central Railways has proposed to start a special train connecting Chandigarh and Allahabad (483-484).

This winter break special train is scheduled to start on September 12 till November 2 and will run thrice a week i.e. on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.

The train will go via Ambala, Panipat, New Delhi, Itawa, Kanpur to reach Allahabad. The Chandigarh railway station received a communication in this regard today.

Welcoming the initiative, Joginder Singh Bhogal, member, railway users consultative committee, emphasised the need to start more summer special trains to tackle rush.

“The Northern Railways should also consider special trains for Mumbai and Goa. A letter has already been sent by the committee regarding the proposal,” he added.

Also stressing the need to connect the city to Bangalore and Mysore owing to inflow of IT company executives here, he said it would serve a large number of passengers in the city.

Meanwhile, the summer rush that had kept many passengers waiting for tickets this season is gradually on the wane.

With city schools reopening shortly and holidays nearing an end, the otherwise long waiting lists have begun to disappear.

The long waiting list of Chandigarh-Lucknow train of 300 persons has come down to an average 85-90 persons in the past two days.


MC axe on four structures
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
The Municipal Corporation today demolished four pucca structures, including three- storey buildings, during a demolition drive carried out at Buterla village here today.

The drive was conducted under the supervision of PK Sharma, Additional Commissioner, assisted by Kamlesh Kumar, Assistant Commissioner, and other officials of the Municipal Corporation.

Captain Kulwant Singh, ex-Air Force officer, whose three-storey house was demolished in the drive, rued that the MC officials razed part of his house, which was beyond the objectionable limits, and the MC officials had violated court orders.

“The MC officials had marked the “red point” beyond which construction was allowed but the MC enforcement team demolished that part of structure too”, he said.

“The matter was pending for hearing in the court as I had filed an appeal in the court against the MC’s decision, the date of which was scheduled for hearing today. But when I was on way to the court, the MC team demolished it”, he added.

Defying this, PK Sharma clarified that Capt Singh could not produce any court orders in this respect.

“He was repeatedly asked to produce some stay orders or status quo orders of the court but he could not. We had architect with us and the area, which fell under the government land only, was freed from encroachment”, he said.

Meanwhile, the MC removed encroachments from the municipal land worth crores of rupees. The Municipal Commissioner warned the encroachers in Buterla to remove all encroachments from the municipal land themselves.



CHB to hand over flats soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) will hand over around 2,400 houses under various categories soon.

Officials claim that now the focus will be on the allotments of houses, along with the construction work.

CHB officials said this year the CHB would hand over 512 small flats in Sector 38 W and 576 in Ramdarbar with approximate cost of Rs. 9 crore and Rs 10 crore under the Chandigarh Administration’s most prestigious Slum Rehabilitation Project of making the city slum free.

In addition to this, the CHB had already completed 288 houses in Sector 38 W at a cost of around Rs 9 crore and 400 units in Sector 49 with an approximate cost of Rs 12 crore for EWS, for which allotments had already been done and soon these houses would be handed over to their beneficiaries.

It was also informed that 160 houses under the same category would be completed by December, 2009, in Sector 26 (E) at a cost of around Rs 4.5 crore, for which the allotment process would be initiated within two months.

The small flats coming up in Sector 38 W are four storeyed with an approximate area of 307 square feet for each unit, whereas one-room flats being constructed under the EWS are of 425 square feet per unit.

Under the General Housing Scheme, the board will complete 464 houses, including 208 two-bedroom and 256 one-bedroom sets, in Sector 49 by August, 2009, at an estimated cost of Rs 40 crore.

Other than this, the CHB is also constructing 320 one-room flats in Sector 56 under the Dr. Ambedkar Awaas Yojana, being implemented on behalf of the Department of Social Welfare. The flats will be handed over by December, 2009.

UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar said in the process of making Chandigarh a slum-free city, the CHB had been assigned the task of constructing around 25000 slum-dwelling units of which around 11,000 houses would be handed over to the slum dwellers by the end of 2010.

However, the CHB would give possession of around 1,100 houses this year. Once the project is completed, all identified 23,841 slum-dwelling families would be rehabilitated in these units, thus making the city slum-free, added Kumar.



Docs claim infant has jaundice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Even as the Deputy Commissioner, Panchkula, marked an inquiry to verify the reports, appearing in a section of the press, about a seven-day-old girl getting infected with “tetanus” at General Hospital, Sector 6, doctors of GMCH-32 today claimed that the child only had symptoms of jaundice.

The child was shifted to GMCH 32 yesterday and doctors attending on her denied that she was suffering from tetanus.

Paediatrician Dr Geetanjali told The Tribune that the new-born was diagnosed with “jaundice with some infection” which was common.

However, the reports, appearing in a section of the press, had claimed that the new-born had suffered convulsions after a few days of birth due to use of “non-sterilised” equipment during the delivery at General Hospital’s operation theater (OT). The reports had also claimed that the OT was subsequently shut down.

Contrary to these claims, Dr VK Bansal, Medical Superintendent, GH-6 hospital, Panchkula, said that the OT was closed for routine fumigation.



Source of cholera still not known
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 23
It has been over three days since patients with diarrhoea (now confirmed cholera) started trickling in at the Phase 6 Civil Hospital, but the district administration and the health authorities are yet to track down the source of cholera.

Despite knowing that the common denominator among all patients was contaminated water, the officials are busy in the blame game.

Public health officials claim that the water being supplied by them is fit for drinking. But health officials state that contaminated water is the source of the problem.

Hand pumps being used by residents of Mohali village have not been sealed yet. Other suspected sources of contaminated water have also not been sealed.

Health officials say that action could be taken only after reports of water samples were received.

The Civil Surgeon, Avtar Singh, said it was the duty of the MC and public health officials to check that the water supply was not contaminated.

On being asked why more samples were not taken, he said since cholera had been confirmed only now, remedial action had been started.

The much-required epidemiological survey has been initiated after three days. There was need for a 24-hour camp at the village to guide residents about the dos and don’ts. The district health officer claimed that door-to-door visits by health workers was on and chlorine tablets were being distributed.



MC to discuss issue of new site
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 23
The Mohali Municipal Council has called an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue related to the dumping ground of the town over which a controversy has arisen once again.

The civic body has been asked to stop dumping garbage at the present site by June 30 and instead use a site owned by the council, which is too small to contain about 60 tonnes of garbage collected from the town daily.

Giving a reference of a decision taken at the Punjab Chief Minister’s office, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has taken a tough stand against the council even when the latter has been pointing out problems that would be faced if the decision was not reviewed.

About 2.81 acres in the industrial area, Phase I, is in the possession of the civic body where it has set up a slaughter house, a sterilisation centre for dogs, a cattle pond and a store.

There was a proposal to use the vacant land for ‘gaushala’. GMADA has asked the council to use about one acre of land, which was lying vacant for dumping garbage.



Tribune Impact
Fumigation at colonies begins
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
After The Tribune’s exposure on the insanitary conditions prevalent in colonies in the wake of the cholera outbreak at Mohali village, the UT administration today woke up to the seriousness of the issue and sprayed disinfectants in various areas.

However, exercise remains cosmetic as far as the preparedness to deal with any possible outbreak is concerned.

While heaps of garbage lay strewn all over in the narrow lanes of Colony No. 4, with the litter nearly choking the sewerage drain passing through the colony. The situation is no better in Colony No. 5 which also has heaps of garbage in inner lanes.

A visit to the colony revealed that its been over a month since the elections have been over and the colony, which was at that time the centre of activity with leaders promising basic amenities to residents, continues to cry for attention.

The residents said only today the authorities got the area fumigated despite the fact that several children had been complaining of diarrhoea and vomiting for the past week. Also, no camp had been organised so far.

Around 10 days ago, a team of doctors had come and checked residents for malaria symptoms and distributed medicines, Prem Lata, a resident, said.

“While nearly 75,000 people reside in Colony Nos. 4 and 5, the administration has never thought of putting a drainage system in place,” Ram Lal, a resident, said.



Kids of contract teachers also join stir
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
“Dear Chandigarh Administration uncle, please regularise services of our parents who are working as contract teachers in government schools for more than seven years,” said children of the contractual teachers, who had assembled at Sector 17 Plaza today to join the ongoing agitation of their parents.

These children appealed to the administration to save their future by regularising
their parents.

Addressing the administration as their uncle, they said the prices of everything had increased manifold, but the salaries of their parents had never increased.

The contractual teachers demanded that they should be regularised against the sanctioned 536 posts, which had been advertised recently.

They also demanded that enhanced salary of the contractual teachers along with arrears be released at the earliest.

In continuation to these protests, the contractual teachers decided to hold candle light march tomorrow.



Visually impaired block traffic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
The visually impaired from Punjab blocked traffic at the Press Chowk on the Madhya Marg, this afternoon seeking recruitment from the Punjab Government under one per cent of their quota.

They removed their shirts in the scorching heat to mark their resentment and also raised slogans against the indifferent attitude of the state government.

The police pacified the protesters by assuring them of delivering their memorandums to the Governor and the Chief Minister of the state.

The protesters have been staging a dharna at Sector 34 for the past over 400 days and have decided to hold a march to the Governor’s residence.

Rajesh Mohan, president of the Federation of the Visually Impaired from Punjab, stated that they would intensify their struggle and burn the effigy of the Punjab Chief Minister at his residence in Chandigarh on July 6 if the government failed to fulfil their demands.



Quacks thriving in city
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
The UT Health Department’s
determination to crack the whip
on bogus medical practitioners
and quacks in the city has
ended like “a flash in the pan”.

Strange but true, a sweeper of
yesteryear, Kamlesh, is now a
“medical practitioner”.

He is doing practice from his
shop, Kumar Clinic in Sector 56.
Investigations revealed that
Kamlesh was employed at the
clinic as a cleaner.

Thereafter, he graduated to administering injections and first-aid like dressing wounds. Now, he claims himself to be a medical practitioner.

This was not the lone case. A majority of over 2,500 quacks and medical practitioners, including registered and unregistered ones, have their base in slums, villages and rehabilitation colonies on the outskirts.

Consequently, over a period of time, these medical practitioners have carved a niche for themselves, especially among the labour class in slums and colonies.

Their targeted places are Colony Number 5, Hallo Majra, Badheri, Palsora, Mani Majra, Ram Darbar and Kajheri.

Hailing from West Bengal, they claim to be exorcist and medically literate with “BIAMS” degree holder conferred upon by the Institute of Alternative Medicines under the laws of Alternative Autonomous Body, Kolkata.

The BIAMS stands for Bachelor of Indo-Allopathy Medical System. They were confident enough to cure diseases like skin allergies, gastro-intestinal diseases, piles, joint pain, bone fractures, besides cancer, AIDS and even anthrax, through ayurvedy, allopathy or homoeopathy.

Inquiries revealed that this degree holds no significance in any system of medicine. Dr Balbir Singh, Nodal officer, Indian Medical Council, emphasised that there is a blanket ban on Indo-Allopathy in India.

“It is against law if anyone starts practising medicine while citing reference of any such unrecognised degree. These degrees can be challenged in any court of law”, he said. Dr Balbir said a team was formed by administration to check this menace.

“We conducted raids in connivance with police personnel and caught quite a few. But their network is so strong that most of the times, they get escaped with the help of people living in their neighbourhood,” said Dr Balbir Singh.

The Tribune team visited other quacks, posing as patient, only to find that they have become so daring that even their family members can hold the seat in their absence. At New Bengali Clinic in Sector 56, Dr Jyoti Prakash Mondal was away, but his brother, was “qualified” enough to diognose the “fake illness” of our lensman.

He wrote the prescription and charged Rs 20. At another “medical joint”, Dr Jay Dev Biswas, after having thorough check-up, gave medicines worth Rs 40, along with a complimentary “sex stimulant” prescription.



Poor, illiterate easy prey
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 23
Despite the claims of concerted campaign against quacks and unregistered medical practitioners operating in the district, the poor and illiterate remain exposed to the risk at the “clinics” of these so called doctors.

Working in the name of “Bengali doctors”, especially in villages and slums in the heart of the township, Panchkula has as many quacks as qualified doctors.

The gravity of the situation could be gauged from the fact that around six such quacks have been treating the patients at Budhanpur despite the fact that medication to a 14-year-old boy on January 8 by one of their associate led the death of patient.

However, the quack, PK Rai, managed to flee the village before the health officials registered a complaint against him.

According to an estimate compiled by the National Integrated Medical Association (NIMA), Panchkula chapter, a few years ago, the number of such medicos claiming to have the expertise of curing all types of ailments was around 150.

The slums of Burj Kotian, Azad colony, Rajiv colony, Abheypur village and Maheshpur are no less infested with these “super specialists”.

The number, however, seemed to have been increasing with the passage of time even as a couple of them had already been executed and many were facing the criminal proceedings under the Medical Council of India Act.

The reasons were not difficult to find, said BB Singhal, vice-president of the Municipal Council, who is a patron of the Panchkula Chemists’ Association also.

“The lack of infrastructure as well as will power at the health department was the main reason behind the grim situation. No consistent efforts were made in this directions as the official concerned prefer to remain absent from the scene for a long duration following a raid on few such ‘doctors’,” said Singhal.

While poverty and lack of awareness among the residents in slums were other reasons behind the success of these people, the inadequate care at government dispensaries had provided leverage to them, said SK Nayyar, president of the Citizens Welfare Association.

“Though quackery was a menace, for the poor there was no option left as private medicos charge exorbitant consultation fee and the Civil Hospital remained overcrowded,” he said.

The health officials on the other hand, denying any let up in their efforts to bring these illegal health experts to justice, said they find themselves handicap due to some loopholes in the MCI Act.

“The menace would be difficult, if not impossible, to deal with till the Nursing Home Act was enacted,” said Panchkula Civil Surgeon Dr Kamla Singh. After the Nursing Home Act, which was being discussed, comes into force it would not be easy for he quacks to dodge the local health officials, she said.



Menace goes unchecked
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News service

Mohali, June 23
Outbreak of cholera at Mohali village has sprung up “alarming” surprises, as the number of roadside doctors is much more than the number of chemists here.

The self-acclaimed doctors are doing a roaring business, as they are attending to patients with dirrhoea symptoms.

Caring two hoots about the law, they are running indoor wards in shanties. Claiming to have diplomas and degrees from West Bengal-based institute, the doctors are risking the life of the patients.

A visit to the clinics revealed that they had put up two to three beds in rooms and were unhygienic. Patients were made to lie on dirty beds and there was no mechanism to sensitise the rooms, sources said.

At Jaya clinic, run by JC Mandal, patients were made to lie in a room where construction work was on.

When confronted, the quacks said they were not admitting diarrhoea patients. Most said residents approached them since they offered reasonable treatment and a consultation fee of Rs 30.

At another shop, housing an unnamed dirty clinic, there was hardly anything. An attendant at the clinic said it was not a regular clinic, as the doctor had some other business also. Also, there were unregistered clinics inside the village.

The sources said there were more than around 30 self-acclaimed doctors. Officials of the health department said there was a need to crack a whip on bogus medical practitioners and quacks in the city.

“There are certain problems like our preoccupation with various health programmes and non-availability of the drug authorities that frequent raids are not undertaken,” a health official said.

They said most unregistered medical practitioners, including registered and unregistered ones, were based in slums, villages and rehabilitation colonies, where a major chunk of the migrant population was settled.



GMCH-32 ranked 14th in survey
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh, has been ranked 14th by GfK Mode Survey for 2009. For 2006-07 the college was ranked 25th in the country amongst all medical colleges.

The survey was conducted by “Outlook”, which also interviewed Kapil Sibal, Minister of Human Resource Development. To rank the best professional college, a perceptual study was conducted among different stakeholders (HR manager, doctors, lawyers and other professionals).

To make the exercise representative and robust, 300 persons had been interviewed from six metros.



Commerce scores over other streams
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
The students, especially girls seem to be inclined towards commerce instead of medical or non-medical if the number of forms submitted by those seeking admission in class XI is evaluated hitherto.

The number of Commerce forms outnumber the medical and non-medical forms received by the department.

The record of the last year reveals that only 14 per cent students took admission in commerce in government schools.

As per the data available with the education department, about 32 per cent students opted for the medical and non-medical last year, which is expected to decline this year.

The demand of professionals of the medical and non-medical streams is not much as compared to the avenues in other sectors.

Though there were only 11 per cent students, who opted for vocational courses but this year’s trend showed that it would increase this year by five to six per cent.

Similarly, it is expected that the percentage of humanities, which was 44 percent last year, would remain same this year also.

Those seeking admissions in non-model schools prefer to go for humanities instead of other streams.

Acity-based counsellor said preference of commerce stream was increasing among average as well as intelligent students as this gave them more options in future.

When contacted, DPI, Samwartak Singh, said the demand of commerce in schools had risen as compared to the last year, as it had been introduced in the government schools also. He said they had also introduced computer science from this session for class XI students.



PU deputy registrar dies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 23
The staff members of Panjab University condoled the sudden death of RL Dhawan, deputy registrar, (UMC), here today. They expressed their grief and a two-minute silence was also observed in his memory.

Applications invited for MA in community education

Panjab University has invited applications for admission to MA (semester system) in Community Education and Development in the community education and Development department.

Students with graduation degree in any discipline with 50 per cent are eligible to apply for admission in this course for the session 2009-10. The admission will be given as per the rules and criterion approved by the Panjab University Syndicate.

Director Regional, Resource Centre-cum-Department of Community Education and Development, Panjab University, will provide the required information.

Meanwhile, the university has announced the courses available and seats in the department of evening studies.

Those working in the government, private sector and self-employed can seek admission in the following courses:
Undergraduate course: BA-I (seats 300+42) B Com-I (seats 70+10) Postgraduate courses: MA English-I (80+12)
MA Political science-I (80+12)
MA History-I (60+8)
MA Economics-I (60+8)
M.A. Punjabi-I (60+8)
Forms can be downloaded from the website of the university, www.puchd.ac.in.



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