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Alterations in Houses
Engg dept, HS lock horns
Notices issued to senior IAS, IPS officials
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, June 28
The UT Engineering Department and Home Secretary Ram Niwas have reportedly locked horns over issuing notices to certain senior IAS and IPS officials of Punjab and Haryana, who have allegedly made alterations in their official houses in Sector 7 and Sector 16 without approval.

While the list of the bigwigs who have renovated or altered the structures of their official residences without intimating the Engineering Department is long, the present row on the notices involves Haryana Industries Secretary Yudhvir Singh Malik, Madhu Sudan Prasad and P.V. Rathi in Sector 7 and Punjab DGP K.K. Attri in Sector 16.

Construction at Malik’s residence (H No 3/7) has been going on in full swing for the past several months and the number of labourers working there and the building material lying outside indicates the extent of alterations being made in the house.

When contacted, Malik claimed he was getting additional bedrooms constructed, one each on the ground and the first floor and the same was permissible under the rules. However, he admitted that while the UT was constructing the ground floor, he was footing the bill for the first floor construction.

Justifying his stand Malik said he had obtained the architectural drawings of the building from the UT. “I had sought these for making the permissible changes and they were duly provided to me. Everything has been done in accordance to the rules,” he said, adding that the department had given him the option of going in for first floor construction on his own as they had no funds at their disposal.

Contrary to Malik’s assertions, the estate department officials expressed surprised at how an officer could spend money from his own pocket to renovate a government house. “If that’s the case, then this issue has a larger and a complicated perspective,” said an officer of the estate department.

When contacted, Rathi denied of any construction in his house. He also denied making any alterations. Efforts to contact both Prasad and Attri proved futile.

According to sources, during a routine inspection recently, officials of the UT Engineering Department discovered several alterations in about half-a-dozen houses. These alterations, ranging from extension of room areas by breaking inner walls, covering balconies, installation of floor and granite tiles, construction of decorative murals to enlarging bathrooms by encroaching upon corridors, were done without informing or taking approval from the department.

Sources said the Engineering Department informed Assistant Estate Officer Ashwani Kumar about these violations a couple of weeks back. Kumar, subsequently made a case for issuing notices to these officers and sent the file for approval to Ram Niwas, who is also the Secretary of the UT House Allotment Committee.

While Ram Niwas denied knowledge of any such file, sources said he had taken umbrage to the move of the Engineering Department to make such a case against senior Haryana officials. Incidentally, Ram Niwas is too from the Haryana cadre.

Sources claimed that Ram Niwas while questioning the Engineering Department about their move had even accused them of “singling out” the Haryana cadre officers and ignoring others.

However, when it was pointed out that at least three officers from Punjab, including a DGP, were too on the list, he cooled down. Meanwhile, he has yet not taken any action on the file, sources claimed. 

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Dental college
PU students decry enforced dress code
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Students of Panjab University are up in arms against “no jeans” dress code being practised for the past three years at the HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Panjab University.

Students’ organisation, SOPU, plans to submit a written representation to Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University RC Sobti seeking a clarification on this, as no such code exists on the campus or in any of the affiliated colleges.

Considering it to be an infringement on personal freedom of the students, Brinder Dhillon, SOPU president, said, “The women students are barred from wearing western outfits and are asked to come in salwar kameez. Due to internal assessments and practicals, they cannot protest in open, thus, they sought our help.”

While the college principal, HS Gaba, could not be contacted for comments, a senior faculty member said it conveyed a sense of sincerity to patients.

“There is no such dress code for doctors in other hospitals like the PGI and GMCH-32. Such a ban that does not exist in any of the colleges is not justified in just one college,” Dhillon added.

Meanwhile, the code has also evoked resentment amongst the medical fraternity, as according to Dr Ashok Goel, member, National Executive Committee, National Medicos Organisation, “Though as per the oath administered to medical students at the time of joining the course, their dresses should be appropriate during the course, such an enforced code is unacceptable. The authorities concerned should concentrate on developing skills in the field of patient care, education and research in spite of devising controversial strategies that are irrelevant in today’s era.”

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Dadumajra Garbage Processing Plant
MC panel report lacks facts
G.S.Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
It seems that the sub-committee constituted by the House of Municipal Corporation for inquiring into the much-publicised Garbage Processing Plant at Dadumajra has found nothing substantial to nail the project, which incidentally has already received a clean chit from the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), the DC and the Ministry of New and Renewable Energies.

The report of the sub-committee also appears to be a handiwork of individuals rather than the committee formed by the House as some of its members openly admit that they had signed on the “dotted line”.

The sub-committee, to be presented in the House of Tuesday, however, raises certain objections, which seem to be nothing more than a “hell in a handbasket” if seen in light of the facts of the project. The first outright mismatch between the objections raised in the report and the ground realities is on the mode of commissioning of the project.

While the committee’s report, chaired by councillor, Chandermukhi Sharma, object to the commissioning and execution of the project on the grounds that it was “wrongly allotted” to Jai Parkash Associate group, the garbage procession plant has come up on the model of built, own, operate and transfer (BOOT). It is not even a public private partnership (PPP).

As per well-established International Best practices in any BOOT project, the responsibility rests with the project developer to install appropriate plant and machinery so as to achieve the performance parameters prescribed in the contract.

In records, the allotment was duly ratified by the high-power committee in the House in 2005, approved by the Chandigarh administration and the CVC. Even the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy has termed it as a “win-win proposition in the area of waste management”.

It is pertinent to mention that within the ambit of the Government of India guidelines, the land was allotted by the administration on a leasehold basis merely for operating the plant without vesting any ownership rights to the project developers.

Nevertheless, the choice of team members associated with the inquiry of the sub-committee, too, has come under scanner.

The report conveniently ignored the categorical assertion of Mohinder Bikram, the then XEN (Mechanical), who stated that all machinery installed by the project developer was as per specifications and wherever there were any alterations, it was for the betterment.”

Upon Mohinder’s superannuation, an XEN (roads) Sanjay Arora got associated as a technical expert, despite the fact that he is a civil engineer and has hardly any expertise in the mechanical segment.

Also, it is beyond comprehension why the three councilors Subhash Chawla, Surinder Singh and Lalit Joshi, who at the relevant time were not holding any office and had in fact lost elections from their respective wards, participated in the proceedings of the sub committee.

A member of sub-committee councillor Ram Sumer Maurya neither remember when the plant came into being nor the name of the German machinery or anything about the objectionable “conveyor belt”. “Actually, problem started when during the inauguration ceremony, the then Mayor Pradip Chhabra was all together ignored,” he opined.

Another member, Gurcharan Dass Kala, when asked, retorted “I do not know where the objection lies but ask Chandermukhi, he says that the machinery was not up to the mark.”

The conveyor belt, whose size the sub-committee had objected to, had been approved by Mohinder Bikram Singh, saying “the size changed from 1000X3000 m to 1500X 2500 m has, in turn, increased the efficiency of the unit”.

It is to mention that all critical components, which include primary shredder, ballistic separators and secondary shredder, have been imported from Germany from M/s Dopstat Calbe Ltd.

“A perusal of the last para of the report revealed that the chairman of the sub-committee without any valid or legal authority has arrogated the powers of other members, thereby reducing the report to be biased opinion and not the outcome of collective wisdom of all the members,” opined a councillor. 

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Affluent youth high on cough syrups
Leisure Valley parking hotspot for drug addicts
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Figure this, dozens of bottles of “Rexcof” and “RC”, both cough syrups of a prominent pharmaceutical company and schedule-H drugs, with used syringes and condoms strewn at the parking area of Leisure Valley, Sector 10. The ‘stuff’ speaks volumes about drug addiction in the “high society” in the city.

This parking lot, situated along the boundary of Leisure Valley and in the proximity of Hotel Mountview, is known to be the hotspot for “affluent” youth, who gather here and gulp these bottles to get that desired “kick”.

If one is to believe the watchmen and gardeners working in the residential area right opposite the parking, one will be amazed at the extent of its spread. Young girls and boys, mostly from well-off families, park their flashy cars in the parking lot and consume cough syrups on regular basis, they claim.

“They have created a mess here. It’s a lonely place and has been a favourite spot on many youngsters, especially girls, from well-off families, who come here in big cars and bring these syrups and injections along. After using, they throw the bottles here itself,” said a gardener working in a nearby house.

While this may just be the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to well-educated youth of the city caught in vicious circle of drugs, medical experts point out the damage it could cause if similar trend sets in the society.

Says Dr Rajesh Dhir, ENT specialist, GMSS-16, “Both Rexcof and RC are cough syrups that contain chloropheiramine maleate and codeine phosphate salts, which are very common for medicinal use, but excessive use could lead to harmful consequences.”

“They are addictive in nature and could also produce a sedative effect in the body, giving the kind of feeling one gets on consumption of liquor or any addictive substance if taken in huge quantity,” he added.

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Goods worth lakhs gutted in Mohali
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 28
Goods worth lakhs of rupees were gutted in a fire that broke out in a readymade garments factory in the Industrial Area here this morning. Though the exact cause of the fire could not be ascertained, a watchman at the factory said the fire broke out when an unidentified thief was trying to escape after stealing the garments.

After a futile attempt to nab the thief when the watchman returned he saw smoke billowing out of the unit and he immediately informed unit owner Barjinder Singh.

Three fire tenders were pressed into the service to douse the fire. No one was injured, as the factory was closed but the blaze gutted the goods lying in the unit.

The factory owner said he could reveal the exact loss after checking the inventory.

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Youngsters flout traffic norms with impunity
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The death of a 19-year-old motorcyclist, Rupinder Singh, in a road accident apparently acted as no deterrent to the rampant violators of traffic rules and regulations by youngsters in the city.

Just drive down to any road in the city, one will come across youngsters riding tripling on a motorcycle without wearing helmets and on the wrong sides of the roads.

The negligent attitude of the youngsters who give two hoots to the traffic norms are not only putting their lives in danger by their irresponsible behaviour but also of other road users.

If the eyewitnesses of the yesterday’s mishap are to be believed, Rupinder was driving while listening to music on his cell phone using earphones, which are hazardous while driving.

As this was not enough he was also trying to overtaking the bus from the wrong side.

In his attempt to overtake the bus, he brushed with a car on his left side and thus reportedly lost his control over the motorcycle resulting in the fatal mishap.

Figures available with the accident cell of the Chandigarh Police revealed that as many as three persons have lost their lives on the city roads while another four persons were left grievously injured in various road accidents last week.

Though officials in the Chandigarh traffic police claimed that the number of fatal accidents had come down to 18 per cent as compared to the last year.

A police official said as many as 64 persons had lost their lives in the road accidents till date in the city while another 144 persons had been left injured, out of which several had been rendered incapacitated for the rest of their lives.

The studies have shown that pedestrian and the two-wheelers’ riders are the most vulnerable lot on the roads. A traffic policeman said it was found that youngsters on the two-wheelers flouted the rules the most.

Even the figures of the number of motorists booked for various traffic offences, the two-wheelers’ riders driving without wearing safety helmets are higher in number followed by those jumping red light and for not complying with other rules.

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Be prepared for power cuts
Against the daily availability of 235-250 MW, city’s demand touches 290 MW
G.S. Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Though the Chandigarh administration is somehow managing with the power crises so far as there have been no scheduled cuts, but this may not last long if monsoon continue to play truant.

Secretary, Engineering, Sanjay Kumar said the scheduled power cuts on rotational basis could not be ruled out in near future. “At present, no scheduled cuts are on the agenda, but certainly it could be planned if the dry spell continues,” he said.

At present, the allocation of power to Chandigarh is between 235 and 250 MW. Comparatively, the peak hour consumption touches the figure of 290 MW. To meet this gap, Chandigarh has been buying power from various sources at the rate of Rs 13.80 per unit. For this, the consumers are charged at the rate of Rs 3 per unit.

The officials said to cover up the huge deficit between demand and supply, Chandigarh administration was shelling out over Rs 40 lakh daily to meet its requirement.

Since in Jammu and Kashmir there is surplus power in summers, the administration is drawing about 25 to 30 MW from it.

Sources in the administration confirmed that the power generation has dropped in Bhakra, Nathpha Jhakri, Pong and Ranjit Sagar projects. With low inflow of river water, the hydropower projects are not running to full capacity. In view of this situation, the administration is thinking on the lines of imposing scheduled power cuts, but with a 48-hour advance announcement. The time of cuts would vary between 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, the residents, tortured by unscheduled power cuts, opined that to generate quality power, the decision to impose rotational power cuts would be a welcome step.

Pritam Bhullar, a senior citizen, whose computer monitor and UPS system got collapsed due to voltage fluctuation said, “Instead of keeping the residents in lurch for 24 hours, it’s better to impose scheduled power cuts,” he said.

Meanwhile, the residents of Sector 44-B and 45-C were without power last night when a breakdown occurred at Mohali 66 KV substation at around 12. The power supply could be resumed only at about 3 am. Similarly, at Sectors 50, 51, 46 and 19, the residents faced unscheduled power cuts for over two hours.

Upset over the unscheduled power cuts, the residents of Maloya Colony staged a protest near the police post in the locality. The residents demanded that the authorities should ensure uninterrupted power supply. “The authorities should give prior information about power cuts, said Ranjit Singh, president of the BR Ambedkar Jan Kalyan Sabha.

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Rail commuters’ security caught in blame game
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The lack of coordination between the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the Railways authorities is telling on the safety of train passengers if recent incidents at the Chandigarh railway station are any indication.

The disconnect between the two came to fore a few days ago when the body of a badly wounded woman had to be sent to the Civil Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, following an accident in which she was hit by a train.

“I had personally collected and picked up the body parts of the injured and hired a tempo to drop the body at Civil Hospital despite the fact that the GRP had its vehicle at the station,” informed a railway official seeking anonymity.

“The attitude of the GRP is such that they refuse to carry the body unless the person is dead. At least on humanitarian grounds, they should co-operate with us,” he added.

Interestingly, an RPF official at the station nodded in agreement and added that the GRP staff tries to avoid trouble by doing so, though in such a case the responsibility is shared by all officials concerned at the station, he said.

On the other hand, even the GRP has had its own share of complaints when it comes to the Railways authorities. SHO (GRP) Krishan Kumar had written a letter to the Station Superintendent a few days ago stating that lack of lights on the platforms was a threat to passenger safety.

The letter was followed by the death of a railway employee who accidentally fell on the tracks and was crushed by a train.

When contacted IG, GRP, KK Mishra said he was not aware of the incident of the GRP’s “ignorance” and said that he would inquire into the matter. 

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Fire dept to have more thermal imaging cameras
Sandeep Rana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The UT fire and emergency services department will buy five more thermal imaging cameras, which would help the firemen to see through the smog during rescue operations.

Sources in the department said the officials had floated the tenders and had called five companies to demonstrate their products tomorrow.

Speaking to The Tribune, ML Sharma, station fire officer, Sector 17, said they had so far invited five tenders in this regard and every company would give its demo for their respective product, and accordingly, we would select the best one.

He said the fire department at present had two thermal imaging cameras, one at the Sector 17 fire station and one at the Sector 32 fire station. With the new five cameras, every fire station would have one each.

It would assist the firemen to attend to the exigencies in safer manner. "We received tremendous response from the previous cameras and every officer appreciated their work,” said Sharma. Elaborating on the benefits of these cameras, he said these cameras helped in great deal to see through smog, whenever there is any fire incident. It helped in controlling the fire in less time.

“It can detect anything up to about 100 meters, where visibility is zero and thus, make it easy to find the location of fire and also to take out persons trapped in it,” he added.

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Building Plans
No takers for self-certification scheme
Smriti Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The UT administration’s scheme of “self-certification” of residential building plans continues to remain trapped in procedural rigmarole as even after nearly four years of its introduction, there are hardly any takers.

Even, the UT administration’s efforts, later on, to streamline and simplify the process, turned out to be a damp squib given the lack of coordination between various departments concerned.

The reasons, however, are more than just one. First, it is the procedure itself, which is not only wearisome, but also is drawn out. Secondly, thanks to a handful of “vested interests” allegedly at the UT estate office, who have made the process of self-certification cumbersome enough that those architects, who are otherwise willing to self-certify, prefer to “pay their way off” obtaining various clearances rather than undergoing the hassles of the scheme, otherwise introduced to make the process simpler.

Under the Building Rules 1952 contained in Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation), the administration, in 2005, had issued a notification that any person, who intends to erect or re-erect a residential building, can opt for “self certification” through his or her architect, subject to the condition.

Under the scheme, owners of residential buildings have to submit an application, along with all forms and documents to the Estate Officer. Building plans, signed individually and by a registered architect, registered structural engineer and licenced plumber are also required to be submitted.

The applicant is required to deposit processing fee, along with the application.

However, sources allege that anything between Rs 30,000 and 40,000 exchanges hands for obtaining the clearance certificate of residential building plans.

Sources in the department, however, claim that there is also an existing “architect-official” nexus, wherein some specific architects get their clearances much earlier by “paying off”.

“Otherwise, it takes anything between six months and one has to make numerous rounds of the estate office to clear the inane objections put by the officials, ” said a city-based architect, on the conditions of anonymity.

It is no surprise than that there has been only a few cases, wherein anyone can apply for self-certification. The situation can be gauged through a recent case, wherein a renowned city based architect, who had applied in 2006 for “self certification” of building plan for seeking completion certificate, she was told that the papers she had submitted with the department have been lost and to go through the process all over gain after two years to get the certification.

Pallav Mukherjee, president of the Architect Association, said the original self-certification system submitted was later amended. “It has been designed to self destruct, with the SDO (Building) office having carefully drafted the conditions totally in contrast with the self-certification system that was researched and brought over originally,” he said.

On the scheme remaining a non-starter, he said, “Most of the officials do not want it, at the moment, self-certification can stop the flow of the river of honey and milk for certain officials.”

Though none of the officials could be contacted despite repeated attempts, a senior official, who did not wish to be named, said in many cases, even the architects did not wish to take the sole responsibility of the safety of the building and that is why the formalities needed to be completed.

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Junk food triggers health problems in teens: Docs
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 28
The junk food plays havoc with the health of adolescents and parents must educate and encourage children to take a balanced and nutritionally rich diet instead of junk food, said state immunisation officer Dr V.K. Goel.

Speaking at a state-level workshop on “Adolescent reproductive and sexual health programme”, organised by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Punjab, here today, Dr Goel said: “Junk food harms the body and gives rise to various diseases, including obesity, that in turn puts a negative psychological impact upon adolescents.”

The participants included district family welfare officers, district programme officers, district programme managers, district mass media officers, BCC facilitators, mother NGO’s, representatives of Nehru Yuva Kendras and health workers of Barnala, Hoshiarpur, Moga, Ropar, Nawanshahr, Tarn Taran and Mansa districts.

State programme manager, NRHM, Dr C.L. Bhatia said with the launch of third and final phase of ARSH programme in the remaining seven districts, the whole state had been covered under the programme. He added that 13 district were already covered in the first and second phases.

He said the prime objective of the programme was to address and create awareness regarding the health needs of the adolescent group and provide them information regarding health related issues like menstruation, reproductive health, and physical changes during adolescence, etc.

Another speaker Dr Amarjit Singh said adolescents (10-19 years) comprises about 22 per cent of the country's population.

Adolescence is a stage where a lot of physical and psychological changes take place in the bodies.

He discussed the negative affects of pre-mature marriage and conception amongst the girls.

He told that due to lack of proper knowledge, many adolescents are facing health problems. 

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Beating heat the traditional way
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Sipping fancy mocktails may well be a fad in summers, but nothing can beat the flavour of a “chilled sweet lassi”. The taste and effectiveness of grandma’s tried and tested recipes for natural coolants are undoubtedly the best to provide relief when the mercury has gone up a few notches more in this summer.

Moreover, natural drinks can just be stirred up in a jiffy and there is no dearth of mouth-watering options.

Be it the thandai, tangy feel of mango panna, sugary taste of tender coconut water, lassi, buttermilk or bel (wood-apple) sherbet or even a glass of humble neembu pani (lemonade) can do wonders on a dry summer day.

Stirring imli (tamarind) power or jeera in cold water, with a pinch of black pepper and salt can do the trick as well.

According to ayurveda, tender coconut is so pure and cooling with immense healing properties.

Drinking a glass of mango panna, thandai or lassi before leaving for work in the afternoon, will not only ensure retention of fluid in the body, but will also work effectively to prevent a heat stroke.

With the temperature soaring higher each day, it is also essential to check the fluid intake in the body and increase consumption of healthy homemade drinks. For one, relying on the road side vendors selling nimboo pani or rose sharbat, may not be the best bet for your health, say experts.

In addition to these, drinking at least 12-14 glasses of water a day in summer is highly recommended to combat heat. An optimum quantity of fruits and salad will be a good supplement.

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Swine Flu
58-yr-old woman tests negative
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The samples of a 58-year-old woman, who was admitted to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, yesterday with suspected swine flu, were found negative today.

More than a dozen suspected cases of swine flu have been reported from city hospitals so far. Everybody, except the 19-year-old, have tested negative for H1N1.

Meanwhile, the throat swab sample report of a 24-year-old youth from Mohali, who was admitted to GMCH-32 on Friday, is still awaited. He had returned from a pleasure trip to Malaysia on June 24.

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Stay on reversion of promotion of 10 employees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The Central Administrative Tribunal has put a stay on the orders of reversion of promotion of 10 employees of the National Dairy Research Institute in Karnal after an application was filed by them.

Braj Kishore, working at the institute, along with nine other applicants had filed an application before the tribunal seeking quashing of orders in which the applicants’ promotion made under the Sixth Central Pay Commission was reverted.

The applicants got merit promotions under guidelines for career advancement of Technical Employees under Rule 6 of Technical Service Rules as T-5 from January 19, 2006 to July 1, 2008 by duly constituted DPC after being eligible and having met the prescribed benchmark after rendering five years of service in lower grade of T-4.

Further, the applicants are eligible to be considered for promotion in T-6 grade, which is on a par with class I gazetted officers on the completion of five years requisite service in T-5 grade.

The rules and guidelines for career advancement of technical employees, under which applicants are promoted, are same.

Under the recommendation of the Sixth Central Pay Commission, the grade pay of T-4 and T-5 technical posts have been revised to Rs 4,200. However, on May 14, 2009, the secretary ICAR took a decision wherein technical employees with five years service in grade T-4 on January 1, 2006 or thereafter have been granted merit promotion to grade T-5 or their advance increments in grade T-4 have been reviewed and benefits granted withdrawn, ignoring the fact that recommendation of sixth central pay commission nowhere suggests to revert officers in grade T-5.

The decision has been taken as an interim measure until the matter of grant of grade pay of Rs 4,600 is decided by the ministry of finance as proposed by the ICAR.

On learning about the decision, the applicants made a representation on May 19, 2009 to director general, ICAR.

However, as the applicants apprehended that there was no scope for reconsideration nor reversion of the orders, they filed the case at the tribunal.

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Modern ‘ahatas’ in high spirits
16 such vends come up in city against three last year
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The concept of “ahata in a present day avatar” (modern liquor shop) introduced by the Chandigarh administration in its Excise Policy 2007-08 seem to be catching up with the city residents with a total of 16 such liquor vends coming up in the city against three last year.

To encourage such modern vends, the administration had reduced the annual licence fee to Rs 20 lakh from Rs 25 lakh.

According to guidelines, these vends should be fully air-conditioned with tiled or wooden floorings, attractive interiors and computerised system of issuing cash memos.

“Besides, the administration had decided not to issue new licence for any pre-fabricated temporary structure, enhanced the annual fee of such vend from Rs 25 lakh to Rs 30 lakh to discourage them, and reduced their number to 152 from 156. In 2007-08, only three L-2 (meant for modern shops) licences were issued, but in 2008-09, their number shot up to 16 and are now spread all over the city,” said R.K. Rao, Excise and Taxation Commissioner, UT.

With a view to discouraging the intake of drinks with high alcoholic contents, the administration has reduced the licence fee for low alcoholic drinks to Rs 2,000 per brand from Rs 5,000 and also made arrangements for their availability at departmental stores.

With a view to increase the availability of imported brands, the UT administration has reduced the brand fee from Rs 5,000 to Rs 2,500 per brand. And to facilitate the customers, many procedural registration bottlenecks for such brands have been removed.

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Month-long workshops on dance, theatre end
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, June 28
As many as 100 budding as well as accomplished artistes between the age group of 5 and 15 years participated in a cultural bonanza at the Randhawa auditorium marking the conclusion of Pracheen Kala Kendra’s month-long annual production-oriented workshops on dance and theatrical arts today.

Known for traditional and classical conservation, the puritanical rigidities of folk culture were perceptible in all presentations.

NSD alumnus Asif Ali and danseuse Renu Panth had trained the artistes in theatre and dance forms. After the traditional lighting of a lamp, the programme commenced with invocatory group dance recital, “Bam Bam Bhole”, paying obeisance to Lord Shiva before amazingly poised and confident budding artistes welcome audience through “Swagat Nritya”.

Another ballet titled “Krishna” depicted myriad virtues and winsome persona of Lord Krishna was staged and mesmerised the audience.

In the drama segment, “The birthday party”, hosted by a bear in jungle set in the children theatre language transported the audience to the animal world.

However, Asif Ali-directing the play, “Baat ka batangad”, juxtaposed the psyche of those people fussy on matters having no importance or relevance in practical life.

Again the folk dancers attired in elegant costumes stole the show first with a Goa dance and Rajasthani ghoomar and later with bhangra, all bringing alive the flavour of respective regions.

The concluding item, AR Rehman’s composition on peace and national integration depicting India’s unity in diversity left the audience awestruck.

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Violations galore as GMADA fails to act
Tribune News Service

Commercial activities on residential premises have failed to attract any action from GMADA in Mohali.
Commercial activities on residential premises have failed to attract any action from GMADA in Mohali. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, June 28
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has failed to check the commercial activities on the residential premises across the city. A large number of residents are indulging in various kind of violations of the building bylaws, the most common being opening of a gate in the rear boundary wall along roads and opening commercial establishments.

Apart from misuse of the residential areas, the activities have also become a traffic hazard.

Though GMADA officials claim that they have been issuing notices to violators every now and then, it has failed to stop the commercial activities.

The threat of resumption of plots also does not prevent the violators.

According to rules, the residents are not allowed to run commercial activities and open up the gates along the roads, especially the main roads (A-roads).

The running of paying guest accommodations with the permission also amounts to the violation.

There are several examples wherein owners of houses in Phases 1, II, 3B1, IV, VII have given their back courtyard on 
rent to persons who have opened up shops along the main road.

The officials attribute the slow action on political intervention.

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SGPC-run schools, colleges
Staff likely to get UGC scales
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, June 28
Teachers of schools and colleges, which are being run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), will get salaries as per the rules of the state education board or Central Board of Secondary Education and UGC, respectively.

The general secretary of the committee, Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, said it would raise the standard of education in these institutes.The final decision would be taken on June 30.

If the proposal materialises, the teachers of these institutes would get a major hike.

In order to increasing the number of Punjabis, especially Sikh students, the committee plans to set up an institute for competitive examinations.

According to information, the committee is all set to launch services of air-conditioned buses for pilgrims visiting gurdwaras under Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib. Gurdwaras of Himachal Pradesh would also be covered under it.

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100 days , a truth or a myth

I write this column from my birthplace, thanking Alessandro Volta and Dr. William Cruickshank. Wondering who these great men are? Well let me introduce them to you and by the end of the next couple of paragraphs you too will be surely thanking them.

Volta (1745-1827) can be credited with inventing the earliest known methods of generating electricity by creating a static electric charge. He invented the so-called "electric pistol" which eventually helped Dr. William Cruickshank in 1802 to design the modern day battery.

And I'll fail in my duty if I don't thank Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, credited with inventing the World Wide Web (WWW), who made it so easy for me to get information about these great inventors with just a click of a few buttons on my laptop, which incidentally too is working on the power generated from the duo's invention.

Now you must be wondering what has prompted me to write about these two inventors. Well spending a sleepless night in this sweltering heat (40° C +) under a fan propelled by the energy generated from the invention of these great men during a seven hour power cut should be enough for anyone to thank them for their discovery.

Imagine what life would have been without these batteries and inverters, which today have become as common as any other piece of furniture in any middle class home. And before you start sympathising with me, thinking that my birthplace is at some godforsaken place in this country, well I am in Delhi and that too in its Southern part, which, if I recall correctly, many dub as posh.

Frankly, as I tossed and turned, unable to sleep even for one night without an AC, I hated myself for having become a slave to these modern day luxuries. As I cursed myself and the Delhi Vidyut Board, my heart went out to all those millions of Indian's who cannot even afford a roof on their head and to those who, unlike us in Chandigarh, suffer these power cuts day in and day out.

As I lay staring at the fan, which kept losing steam as the night passed, the words of wisdom, "be prudent in using water as there has been no supply", from my in-laws kept ringing in my ear. The thought that even after 62 years of independence we continue to suffer from acute power and water shortage generated a feeling of disgust against our leaders who have miserably failed to provide basic amenities to the majority of the population.

Politicians will have hundred excuses to cover up their failures, the most common being that we are 'over populated', but it's sad that nothing is being done to change things. No political party is talking about population or the need to control it. The rate at which we are growing, by 2025 we will cross the population of China and touch the 1.5 billion mark but no political party seems to be worried or concerned about it.

While one can appreciate Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's concern to put the country on a fast track of growth with his ambitious "100 days" reform agenda, one wonder's isn't it time to set similar deadlines for providing basic amenities to the people. Why can't we have a 100 days (or even more) agenda for ensuring clean drinking water, quality power supply and sanitary living conditions for the people of this country.

While I would not like to talk about the living conditions of people in poverty stricken areas of Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan or Uttar Pradesh aka BIMARU states where starvation deaths occur even today, the slums in the tri-city are themselves a telling story of how governments in even progressive states like Punjab and Haryana and UT have failed to provide basic amenities to the people. I promise that a five minute visit to these slums will make even the hardened pinch their noses as the stench emanating from open sewerage drains, garbage and stagnant water is unbearable and makes stomachs churn.

One can only empathise with those who exist there (they can't be called living) and curse our politicians and authorities for their utter failure in improving the conditions there. The recent outbreak of cholera in Mohali village is just another example of how indifferent the authorities are towards the people and their health.

Readers may recall that last week we published comparative photographs of July 2008 and June 2009 from Colony No V and Rajiv Colony, Panchkula, which witnessed cholera breakout last year. The miserable unsanitary conditions prevailing there- the open stinking drains with pigs feeding on filth and people filling water from nearby taps; the garbage littered streets and dirty stranded water - proved that even deaths had failed to shake the authorities out from their slumber.

One can only hope that things change for the better and the PM's ambitious "100 days" plan succeeds. But there are enough reasons for being sceptical since change here doesn't come easy.

The truth is nothing changed in the slums of the tri-city in 365 days so a turnaround in key but ailing sectors of education, health, social welfare and infrastructure in "100 days" may just end as a myth.

Write to cityeditor@tribunemail.com

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CityScope Letters
Discipline vital for good governance

“What a way of wielding power?” has well covered the goonda raj in Punjab. The Punjab government is following the British policy of "divide and rule". The day is not far of when DC may be slapped in the public, if the present raj continues in Punjab. There are thousands of court cases filed up in the court of DCs for claim of lambardari of villages. Earlier, the lambardari was inherited from generation to next generation of the family, but now, any one can claim and fight for the same. The rule has been passed by the Akali government in last tenure.

The hearing is done after 3 pm in DC’s office in Ludhiana and the DC rarely comes to the court and future dates are announced. It is pity to see sight of DC office in Ludhiana on Tuesdays and Fridays. Residents of the state are fighting litigation cases of lambardaris, panches and sarpanches.

There is no doubt that the Punjab government has failed to govern, nor they know how to govern, hence they term it as "It is not raj but sewa". So, this is the way how the “sewa” is done by the government for the honest and upright officers.

Col CJS Khera, Chandigarh

II

Everyone has to understand that being indisciplined is worse than suffering any incurable disease, it will not only be bad for the sufferer, but worse for the society at large.

Let it be any form of government, democracy or dictatorship, if discipline is not cared, the government cannot survive longer.

The fear of governance and discipline is more important than the form of governance. As per the popular belief that “for form of government, let fools contest, what administered the best is really the best”. What is all happening in Punjab is a serious concern, not only for the common man and the government workforce, but also to the state government and the opposition party.

If the indiscipline of any kind is not dealt with a heavy hand, the persons involved in it, it takes the government towards misrule and the public loose its confidence in the governance. The SAD, instructing the District Transport Officers not to challan or impound vehicles for narrow political reasons of winning byelections. It was a pity to watch agitators of Vienna backlash, young boys damaging public property in the presence of police force being a silent spectator, allowing all this to happen is deplorable.

The same police wastes no time to arrest and harass innocent public or thrash unarmed agitators demonstrating for their genuine demand.

Why police forces take law in their own hand? Why the police officials are not held responsible to the loss of public property? Why there is no one to police the police? An MLA of the Shiromani Akali Dal could dare to abuse to a senior minister of the SAD-BJP government in his official resident for perusing a personal business case in the full view of public is of serious concern. What public expects from such legislators, and what service they can render to the party they belonged? The worst come when certain party workers and a councillor of the SAD thrashed and stripped Maj Benipal (retd), a Tehsildar, in his office in Ludhiana. The Deputy Commissioner added the further insult to the injury, telling Benipal that “you will get well soon; we will go and kill the offenders”.

The Punjab government must realise that two wrongs can never make one right. Take action on this at any cost.

Capt Amar Jeet Kumar (retd), SAS Nagar

III

This is the height of lawlessness created by our own so-called leaders. Everybody knows the fate of our governance if these elements in power are not thrown out of power.

The first thing to do is to withdraw the security staff posted for the security of the politicians. Let them do the social service as they say. If they do good to the people, they will be honoured everywhere, and if not, let them be paraded naked by the honest public and taught a lesson.

The whole lawlessness is made to happen by them because they are safe, does not matter what they do. The bad governance stops Indians living abroad to come back to the country.

Rajinder Singh Saini Toronto, Canada

IV

The loose rule of law in Panjab is manifestly evident from the circumstances each, following in quick succession in aggravated form and the maxim “might is right” fits well here.

As far as the city administration is concerned, its functioning has gone perfunctory due to the callous and apathetic attitude of those at the helm. Many cases verging on the laxity of the police and the administration itself that comes to light will surely raise one’s heckles.

A large number of cases relating to dare-devil robberies, rapes, undue favour to kiths and kins, besieging the government offices by the unruly protesters have come to light as pointed out in The Tribune from time to time. A campaign to revive the post of Chief Commissioner for UT is in the offing, and if successful, may alleviate the suffering by better governance.

Tackling the issue at the critical juncture is different from addressing the cause of its genesis as the discontent or unrest lies in the incoherent and wobbling policies of the government, which failed to foresee the ensuring problem.

It is an altogether dastardly act to cause harm to any person, be he an employee, a trader, a farmer or a common man.

Regarding an employee as in the case of Maj GS Benipal (Retd), Tehsildar in Ludhiana, it seems to be a cognisable offence as it amounts to preventing a government servant from discharging his lawful duties. If such is the rude and unruly behaviour of the musclemen with a gazetted officer, then what can be the position of an ordinary employee in a similar case?

The Tehsildar was right as what he did was according to the rule of law, as reported in the media, in which the prince and the plebian are supposed to stand together at one platform. The brazen display of sinews in his stripping in full public view and worse still, the lowest act of pelting stones at his car going for medical treatment, is appallingly a despicable and contemptible and should be condemned in essence. It further amounts to “adding insult to injury”.

Such an unimagined brutal act should not be condoned being anti-social, barbaric and boorish. If the hooligans had any grouse against the Tehsildar, they would have availed of the many recourses available to them under the law. They unduly exploited their political position as belonging to the ruling SAD as did.

Sarabjit Singh Makkar, an Akali MLA who misbehaved with Cabinet Minister Manoranjan Kalia of the BJP, which also is an unpardonable abominable act and need be dealt with at CM level with utmost sagacity. Unless the access to political patronage to such miscreants is denied, they cannot be reigned in. They are a stigma on the fair name of society. It is a matter of great solace that the case has been registered against the goons, including the councillor, Kamaljit Singh Karwal. As the episode is quite startling and humiliating, even for the government. It is all in the fairness of things that a quick and transparent investigation be conducted by the police so as to bring to justice all those who ruled the roost and took law into their own hands by indulging in browbeating the officer. This will restore faith in the government as a functioning entity, failing which, as of now, it is clear that the Panjab government is sliding into anarchy, in which no bonafide citizen feels safe.

Gurmit Singh Saini, Phase X, Mohali

V

The beating of the Ludhiana Tehsildar, in his office, and then stripping him and dragging him out of office in full public view by Akali workers, is a scene directly out of a Hindi movie, where law is flogged with impunity by the underground forces.

To add fuel to the fire, the vehicle in which the injured man was being taken to hospital for treatment, was pelted with stones by the culprits.

The writer went on to give details of other instances, where the Akali Dal politicians are shown acting like goondas. This is a pure goondaism and not "politics" in its real sense. Being in political power does not mean that you keep the law in your pocket and do whatever you like.

But this has become the culture of the “men in power” in the contemporary politics.

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal must take immediate and touch action against such elements, who are bringing a bad name to his party. These incidences have certainly damaged the image of the SAD-BJP coalition in Punjab.

The growing goondaism of the party workers of the Akali Dal will spell doom for the party, which has already suffered a shameful loss in the recent general elections.

If such illegal activities are not curbed with an iron hand now, the day is not far when the government comes down crashing. Even the role of the state police is reduced to a mute spectator, when these “power wielding” politicians take law into their own hands. Even they fear of being punished by the "orders from above", if the venture into stopping the politicians' illegal acts. Ditto for the government "babus". Politicians should stop misusing the law and start respecting it instead, if they really want to rule, and be in the good books of its citizens, otherwise thee public will not lose any opportunity in showing them the door.

RK Kapoor, Chandigarh

VI

There are the examples of more serious news reports of the seventies -- one is about the forcible entry of Youth Congress workers in Punjab Civil Secretariat, their leader taking over chair of the then Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal. The other is about the then Chandigarh SSP, GS Aujla, being chased by Stick Wielding demonstrators near the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

Of course, Ludhiana Tehsildar Maj GS Benipal is an upright and honest officer, who deserves at least “Padamshri” for exposing multi-crore scandal of fake non-judicial papers. Physical assault on him is most condemnable and guilty must get stringent punishments.

However, would those beating breasts, under the wings of Benipal themselves, do some soul-searching as to how much wealth ill-gotten through bribes and commissions, have they invested in benami rural/urban properties and luxuries for their families.

SS Beniwal, Chandigarh

VII

A majority of law abiding citizens as well as those, who have even slightest concern for a civilised society, will agree with the write-up. The news report regarding bashing up and stripping of a Ludhiana Tehsildar raises goose pimples.

Again, an Akali MLA will not give a second thought before showing uncontrolled wrath on a minister in his own government.

All this makes one question oneself, are we living in barbarian times or in a feudal state, where the freedom of action or thought is meant only for the rulers? They forget altogether that the power, if any they have, is not the power of a born king, but the power to serve the people as their elected representative.

I doubt if the interest of the common man is safe in the hands of such elected representatives, for whom the sole purpose of coming to power is to amass wealth by adopting all kinds of means.

Are they waiting for the day, when the electorate would wipe them out from the scene of power? One thing is sure that the ultimate power is with the masses, provided they rise up from their slumber.

Ironically, in certain situations, a peculiar dimension is added to a purely law and order problem due to extraneous factors. This is the direct fall-out of mixing the vote bank and religious sentiments resulting in “a breakdown in the will to govern among those at the helm”.

May it be a protesting crowd indulging in destroying public property or the people creating lawlessness fighting pitched battle with the demolition staff during an anti-encroachment drive, including the removal of a place of worship, surfacing overnight on government land, it is the shielding effect provided by religion and exploited by its benefactors, who are smart enough to go scotfree with their wrongdoings. Otherwise, religion is just an exhibit for them and their real life is different from the religious life.

Their evil deeds such as to manufacture and sell synthetic milk, to adulterate “ghee” with potato pulp and cotton crop with rubbish/litter etc have penetrated into daily life via political-cum-religious connections, which are used almost like a weapon. It is here, when those in power, use religion as a prop to keep themselves in power.

Dr IM Joshi, Chandigarh

VIII

In democracy, the primary job of the state is to maintain law and order and to ensure safety and security of its citizens, beside providing basic essentials of life.

Thus, it is a common connotation that the state is meant for the welfare of the people. But what has happened with a Ludhiana Tehsildar was certainly horrendous and beyond all democratic parameters of the state and a spot on the face of Shiromani Akali Dal, the ruling party. In fact, it is not for the first time that such a shocking incident had happened but one or the other day, due to one reason or the other, there is a violence across the state. The fact is substantiated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, on a question that such incident has happened because of increasing violence across the country and “Punjab cannot be singled out in this regard”.

This version of Chief Minister does not give him the certificate to do what his party workers want to do at his behest. The writer has correctly given some examples of lawlessness in and around Chandigarh. Though these incidents become headlines for the newspapers and the law of the land warrants stringent punishment, yet it is not expected, as such cases are normally hushed up by the powers that may be.

Moreover, such nefarious tendencies is not the job of a common man, but always done under political and bureaucratic nexus, which rules the roost.

The testimony of the fact is the brute and barbaric display of force that has been exhibited on the veterinary doctors at Ludhiana during the Congress regime when some overenthusiastic police personnel were dragged even the protesting girls pulling them by hair and molested. It was really a shameful act in the presence of the then Chief Minister. This symbolises a crisis of governance that is evident even today in most of the cities across the state. It is the result of increasing discontentment among masses and disconnection between political and bureaucratic institutions of the state and citizens.

The state has miserably failed to recognise the needs of its citizens, except hollow slogans. The anti-people actions of the state are largely responsible for creating such a mess. Similarly, the bashing up and stripping of the Tehsildar, Maj Benipal, had happened because he refused to oblige the Akali workers for registering their revenue documents.

If things go unchecked and the lawlessness continues, there will be an anarchy in the state. The bridled hooliganism has to end.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

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