C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Admn-MC grow further apart
Commission of inquiry against MC
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
The announcement by UT administrator SF Rodrigues to constitute a commission of inquiry regarding the functioning of the MC has kicked up a political and administration storm.

The sudden decision would intensify the tug of war between the administration and the Congress-dominated MC, boding ill for development projects.

Expressing anguish over the reported non-adherence to ethics of municipal governance, SF Rodrigues, at a public hearing session here today ordered the “Commission of inquiry about the functioning of the MC in respect of allegations and counter-allegations by the councillors of different opinion groups in the house meetings in the recent past regarding violations of rules of business, guidelines and set procedures under the Municipal Corporation Act.”

He emphasised that there was need to strengthen the coordination system in the MC for speedy redress of grievances of citizens.

What to talk of elected representatives, top officials were surprised at the sudden announcement, particularly in the wake of the peace brokered by the secretary local government-cum-home secretary between MC commissioner Roshan Sunkaria and Mayor Kamlesh last week.

The reported statement by Kamlesh in a section of the Press over vesting of ACR powers of MC officials to the Mayor seems to have provided immediate provocation to the UT administrator to take the “on-the-spot” decision.

The tiff between the Mayor and the Commissioner had recently been brought to the notice of the UT administration with 22 councillors, including Kamlesh, protesting Sunkaria’s attitude.

The situation reached a flashpoint when Sunkaria reportedly wrote two letters questioning the authority of the Mayor to call meetings/review meetings of officials.

While Sunkaria contended that the Mayor had no powers to hold review meetings, Kamlesh contended that the Mayor could hold meetings under Section 38 of the Act.

Meanwhile, terming the constitution of the commission as “anti-democratic” step, former Mayor Pardeep Chhabra said the functioning of the MC was already under the scanner of the administration and the commission would not accomplish anything.

What’s commission of inquiry

The appropriate government may, if it is of the opinion that it is necessary so to do, and shall, if resolution in this behalf is passed by each House of Parliament or, as the case may be, the Legislature of the State, by notification in the official gazette, appoint a commission of inquiry for the purpose of making an inquiry into any definite matter of public importance and performing such functions and with such time as may be specified in the notification, and the commission so appointed shall make the inquiry and perform the functions accordingly.



Plan Budget goes up
More funds in city’s kitty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
With finance minister Pranab Mukherjee announcing an increase in the plan allocation for Chandigarh to provide better infrastructure, the city can hope for more money for development projects.

While the actual hike in the plan budget is yet to worked out, the announcement of “suitable enhancement” from the current Rs 300.35 crore (as proposed in the interim Budget 2009-10) has brought cheer to UT officials.

The FM’s announcement has set at rest apprehensions in the wake of the decrease of Rs 4.3 crore in the plan budget estimate (BE) from Rs 304.65 crore in the last financial year to Rs 300.35 for 2009-10 about the adverse impact on infrastructure development in various sectors like education, urban development and health.

Union minister for parliamentary affairs and water resources Pawan Bansal told The Tribune on phone from New Delhi that categoric assertion by the FM about the hike in plan budget would accelerate development work in the city.

In February’s interim Budget, an unprecedented increase of Rs 606 crore (up from Rs 1,263 crore from the last financial year to Rs 1,849 crore in the next financial year) in the non-plan sector was reported.

“More plan budget for Chandigarh would mean that the infrastructure would get adequate funds, resulting in more development and prosperity,” Dr Manoj Sharma from Panjab University said.

The administration had asked for a plan budget of Rs 600 crore.

In the 2008-09 financial year, the union government had sanctioned a gross budget of Rs 1,547.65 crore for Chandigarh, with the non-plan budget being Rs 1,243 crore and plan budget Rs 304.65 crore.

A senior official said additional budget would go a long way in the implementation of the administration’s ambitious plans to make Chandigarh an IT destination, create infrastructure, set up modern terminal market and develop Sarangpur as an institutional area.

A whopping 33 per cent increase for the ministry of home affairs (MHA) in the current Budget has further raised the hopes of the UT administration as the city is directly administered by the MHA.



Rs 50-cr grant for PU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
A grant of Rs 50 crore has been allocated to Panjab University in the Union Budget announced today. Announcing a special package for the university, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said: “The facilities at Panjab University, Chandigarh, need to be improved. I, therefore, propose to make an allocation of Rs 50 crore for it.”

The announcement brought cheer at the fund-starved PU, but it is not clear if the grant is over and above the promised Rs 100 crore or just a settlement of it. Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti said it was too early to comment on it. “Something is better than nothing. What other universities might achieve with Rs 100 crore, we will achieve in Rs 50 crore by utilising it in the best possible way,” he said.

The university, alma mater of the Prime Minister, receives funding from the central and state government in the ratio of 60:40 and has been facing huge deficits.

Ronki Ram, president of the Panjab University Teachers Association (PUTA), said it was a matter of pride that the finance minister had chosen the Panjab University out of the 400 universities in the country.

“Several student-friendly projects have waited for long for want of funds and this allocation shall prove to be a boon for us,” Brinder Dhillon, SOPU president, stated.

Sanjiv Tewari, director of public relations, PU, said the university had its special place on the education map of the world and the government’s move to provide funds was a recognition of the contribution made by the university.



Chambers welcome subsidy against education loans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
Both CII and PHD Chamber have said the Budget reflects the government’s commitment towards satisfying the aspirations of the common man.

Satish Bagrodia, president, PHD Chamber, said on the positive side the Budget had provided a bold agriculture and rural thrust. “Similarly, a step up in investment in both physical and social infrastructure would go a long way to stimulate demand in the economy. A fillip to “Bharat Nirman” would address the problem of rural infrastructure. We welcome the announcement of full interest subsidy against loans of higher education and over Rs 2,000 crore for IIT and NIT,” he added.

He said this is essentially an expenditure Budget. There is considerable emphasis on public expenditure to fulfill our developmental priorities. “Besides, the government has also attempted to give incentives to exports which are reeling under the throes of a slowdown. The continuation of interest subvention of 2 per cent, extending the insurance cover, increased allocation under MDA would help to buffer, to some extent, the negative fallout of falling external demand. At the same time, the near status quo on direct and indirect tax rates has been maintained,” he said, adding that there have been no radical expenditure cuts and no concrete step has been made to improve the delivery mechanism.

Enthused with Chandigarh being recognised as an emerging city in the Union Budget, Partap K. Aggarwal, chairman, CII Chandigarh Council, said: “The city is finally being given its due with the finance minister’s announcement of increased proposed plan allocation for Chandigarh and the allocation of Rs. 50 crore for Panjab University.

Gunbir Singh, Chairman, CII, Punjab State Council, mentioned that the additional subvention of 1 per cent to be paid from this year, as incentive to those farmers who repay short term crop loans on schedule would certainly help the farmers in the northern region. The special one-time grant of Rs 100 crore to the Indian Council of Forestry Research and Education, Dehra Dun, in recognition of its excellence in the field of research, education and extension was well received by the members present at the Union Budget viewing session organised at CII northern region headquarters in Chandigarh.



Not enough for common man
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
The Main Budget brought smile on the face of a few residents while others didn’t found it impressive.

Talking on the Budget, retired assistant director of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), Swadesh Nayyar said: “I have gone through today’s Budget. Most of the employees, including me, were depressed on getting the unexpected tax exemption worth Rs 10,000 for a common man. Numerous employees felt that the finance minister has offered a lollipop instead of going through the rising growth of prices commodities like atta, ghee, and milk etc. An ordinary middle class man with two children can’t afford good education, good food and good living necessities from his monthly income of Rs 15,000 per month but is still made to pay tax out of it. Thus it seems to be not a good signal to live without tension.”

Commenting on the relief of Rs 10,000 Kashmir Singh, working as business manager in CITCO said, “The Budget being labeled as lollypop budget is not right. The mere relief of Rs 10,000 per month doesn’t provide any benefit to the working class.”

Ashok Tandon, industrialist, said: “Since this Budget paved the way for the goods and services tax implementation it would lead to tax reforms in future.”

Sandeep Mahajan: “The corporate sector is expecting tax relief from the government. The government has only abolished the fringe benefit tax. We were expecting an increase in the limit for the audit of accounts but the issue has not been taken up. Thus the Budget is not very impressive.”

Seema Dutta, a housewife, who resides in Panchkula said: “There not much increase in prices of grains and electrical gadgets which are things of my concern so budget has not made much of a difference to me.”




Violations II
All in the name of security
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Tents pitched by the security staff of former deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal at the public park in Sector 9.
Tents pitched by the security staff of former deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal at the public park in Sector 9.
A security tent at the Bougainvillea Garden, Sector 2, Chandigarh.
A security tent at the Bougainvillea Garden, Sector 2, Chandigarh.
A security tent outside the residence of the Kumars.
A security tent outside the residence of the Kumars.
The kin of Punjab minister Fateh S Bajwa’s security has encroached upon the green belt around his house in Sector 9.
The kin of Punjab minister Fateh S Bajwa’s security has encroached upon the green belt around his house in Sector 9. Tribune photos by Pradeep Tiwari

Chandigarh, July 6
They seem to enjoy immunity from anti-encroachment drives in the name of security. That’s why ministers, bureaucrats and police officers leave no chance to “grab” government land by pitching tents on it for their “men in khaki”.

The issue is not new, but neither the Chandigarh administration nor the authorities of Punjab or Haryana have found a viable solution to check this trend that has made the lives of residents living nearby miserable.

Even Bougainvillea Garden in Sector 2 has not been spared.

A security picket has been pitched close to a walking track in the garden.

This goes on despite a notification issued by the DC while exercising powers under Section 133 of the CrPC to remove such obstructions from government or public land.

The land opposite the Sector 9 house of former deputy CM of Punjab, Sukhbir Badal, accommodates his security brigade. The land belongs to the MC and has been illegally encroached upon by his security staff.

Similar violations were spotted outside the house of the brother of the Congress MP from Gurdaspur, Fateh S Bajwa, in the same sector.

Residents, preferring anonymity, said the security staff would wash utensils and also change clothes in the open, embarrassing passersby.

A judge’s security in Sector 8 has also encroached on public land. Most “VIP sectors” are full of such tents and other makeshift structures.

In some cases, the VIPs have done so even when they have adequate space inside their premises.

The DC, RK Rao, said: “It is a violation. The notification in this regard has already been issued by the office. While taking note of such violations, it has to be verified whether the land belongs to the Chandigarh administration or the MC because I can only provide force to remove the violations.”

MC Commissioner Roshan Sankaria said it was a grave issue “Since they are on the wrong side of the law, irrespective of their positions, they must face action,” he added.



Swine flu
Youth tested positive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
A software engineer (22) has been tested positive for swine flu at the PGI here today. He is a resident of Panchkula and had gone to California. After coming back from abroad, the symptoms of swine flu were detected in him.

He has been admitted to the isolation ward of the hospital. Meanwhile, symptoms of swine flu were detected in a three-year-old girl. She has been admitted to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. She had gone to New Jersey with parents and reached back on June 30.



Nari Niketan Rape Case
Victim thinks she’s giving birth to bhai
Plea to allow termination of pregnancy

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
Family lineage has no meaning for her. Raped in the “protected” environs of Nari Niketan-26, the mentally challenged victim actually thinks she is giving birth to a brother -- at least this is what the psychiatrist’s report suggests.

The report placed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the resumed hearing on the issue of her motherhood status says: “Very poor understanding about the life, understanding about the phases of life, role of child bearing and motherhood, she is excited that her new bhai (brother) would come”.

The report adds that the victim has no understanding about motherhood, man-woman relationships and sexual acts. She knows there is child inside her, but does not know how the conception took place. The report further states that she can eat, wash or dress up, but does not know how food is prepared; she is emotionally immature and has no idea about her age.

In her complied report, the coordinator of the expert panel-cum-judicial officer, Raj Rahul Garg, adds that the victim is physically capable of giving birth to a child. She rather wants to give birth as she is amused about her pregnancy.

Discussing the report before the Division Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Augustine George Masih, UT senior standing counsel Anupam Gupta termed it “contrary” to the opinion given by the medical expert on the panel.

Gupta submitted that the judicial officer not only misunderstood and misconceived the court’s judgment, but also contracted the reports of the medical experts on the same panel.

In an attempt to substantiate his contentions, Gupta read out the report given by the PGI psychiatrist, Dr Ajit Awasthi, on the mental condition of the victim. He elaborated that the department found mild to moderate mental retardation.

Gupta, in his two-hour submissions before the special Bench said: “It would be tragic, if the termination of her pregnancy will not be allowed, as the victim may be physically capable to deliver a baby, but mentally she is incompetent because pregnancy is not amusement”.

Gupta also told the court that the victim was raped by more than one person, and on more than two occasions. Not only was she raped by the young attendant, a 52-year-old ex-serviceman working as a guard also forced himself upon her.

She resisted the rape, but the accused violated her in a bathroom. Two woman employees of the Nari Niketan, one young and another about 50 years old, were on guard whenever the victim was raped, said Gupta. The case would come up for further hearing tomorrow.



Junction box at DC office catches fire
Most of the fire extinguishers not inspected since 2007
Tribune News Service

A fire extinguisher, which was last inspected in 2007; and (inset) the meter junction that caught fire at Deputy Commissioner’s complex, Phase I, in Mohali, on Monday. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, July 6
Panic gripped employees of the Deputy Commissioner’s complex in Phase I here when an electricity junction box, installed at the Suvidha Centre, caught fire. The centre was open and there were a couple of visitors.

A major tragedy was averted as those present in the room were evacuated moments before the junction box went up in flames around 10 am, followed by thick smog of smoke engulfing the room. As there was no proper ventilation, it took some time for the fire officials to clear the smoke. A fire department official said the fire broke out due to a short circuit in the junction box.

Sources in the DC office reveal that the anomaly was noticed when the computer network went down moments before the fire. A team of electricity officials who visited the spot observed that increase in load, apparently due to switching on of air conditioners, could have spelled the trouble, a fact denied by the employees as there was a ban by the state government on operating ACs. Earlier also there had been sparking in the junction box.

Deputy Commissioner, Mohali, Prabhjot Singh Mand said to prevent any such incident in the future, the fire department was asked to suggest ways to set up fire control mechanism. He said various options were being discussed in consultation with the fire department.

Fire officials disclosed that the PUDA building, housing the district administrative complex since 2006, was an old building which had no provisions for fire safety measures. Besides, no effort had been made by the state government to install fire-fighting equipments except putting up fire extinguishers.

Most of the fire extinguishers had not been inspected since 2007. Enquiries revealed that employees had not been trained to deal with such situation.

A visit to the building revealed that for the first and the second floor offices, there was only one exit and in some case partition had been made to accommodate various offices of the district administration.

The junction boxes in other parts of the building were not properly secured. “The state government is taking its own time to decide upon the proposed district administrative complex. Left with no option, the offices have to be set up in available space,” admitted an official.



MC serves notice on coaching centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
The fire department of the municipal corporation has issued a notice to the Coaching Centre, Sector 40, today for not installing fire equipment in the building, where a fire broke out in an electricity meter installed at the staircase.

ML Sharma, station fire officer, said the department had issued notices to various coaching centres and most had installed the fire equipment.

He said the department had also sent a notice to the estate office, as in most cases fire personnel faced problems during rescue operations due to encroachments in these SCOs in various sectors.



Sasha is a fighter
Looks forward to second heart surgery
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
The goodwill generated by the successful heart surgery on six Pakistani children by the city’s doctors have once again brought back the parents of 13-year-old Sasha, suffering from heart ailment, from across the border for her treatment here.

Three years ago, Sasha underwent a successful heart valve repair treatment in New Delhi. However, the repaired valve subsequently developed complications and needed to be replaced now. Since the treatment was not available in Pakistan, her parents decided to bring her to India and with the help of the Rotary Club they have admitted her to the Fortis hospital where her surgery is shortly due.

“I have faith in doctors here,” said her father Ernest Paul, a travel agent from Taxila, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

Talking to The Tribune, Paul said Sasha, now studying in Class VII, was operated in 2006 in Delhi but her valve, despite the successful surgery, could not be repaired permanently.

However, that has not deterred him to return or go somewhere else as he still believes in the doctors here.

Lying in the ICU’s private ward, the smile on Sasha’s face certainly doesn’t reveal her agony. “I am sure all will be fine,” she says, adding that besides the almighty, she has full faith in doctors.

However, a worried father, Ernest, said the family had spent all they had on her treatment. “She is unable to run, climb stairs or walk long distance,” he said, adding that in 2006, doctors in Pakistan had advised them to bring her to India.

“Since we cannot afford so much of money, we had approached some organisation and finally the Rotary Club sponsored money for her treatment,” said Sasha’s father. He said, in Pakistan, valve repair surgery was not undertaken, but only replacement was normally done and, therefore, the young girl was advised to go India.

Dr TS Mahant, heart surgeon, Fortis hospital, said the patient’s condition was critical. “We are stabilising her and after that we will perform the surgery. This is a rare operation and repair of a damaged valve again is technically difficult,” he said. He said a damaged valve could be either repaired or replaced. However, in this case, it could be possible to go for replacement as previous surgery had failed. When the valve was replaced, one had to take blood thinning tablets for life. “There is also the risk of further infection in the artificial valve”.

“If the valve is repaired, the patient need not take any medicines afterwards and the valve lasts long. The repair of the valve can be done only in some select centres in India, including AIIMS, Delhi,” he added.



Extension to special kids’ project
DPI (S) promises to reconsider decision
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
The Chandigarh Administration which after getting inspiration from the Bollywood blockbuster and Aamir Khan’s starrer ‘Taare Zameen Par’, opened a resource centre at GMSSS, Sector 8, for dealing with students with specific learning disabilities, with the help of the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan is on the verge of closer due to the lack of infrastructure.

The institute and the administration which inked a pact to work in collaboration with the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan for assessing and taking remedial steps for teaching these kids, is now awaiting renewal after a gap of one year.

Even though the agreement was expected to be renewed in May, the dilly-dally attitude of the administration is now making parents of these children panicky, for whom the institute had come as a ray of hope.

Claiming that the administration is not willing to understand the problems faced by the dyslexic students or encourage research in this direction, the parents are now seeking justice.

“We have been bearing the pain of rearing our child since childhood. I had been shifting my daughter from one school to another, but no one has been able to understand my child’s learning disability. Not a single principal had cooperated with us and now that we had finally found an institute for our child, the administration has stopped caring about this institute. All our requests for help have fallen on deaf ears, ” Gurinder Singh, parent of a 12-year-old girl, who also happens to the general secretary of the North India Dyslexic Association.

Harleen, another parent, said: “We had sent our daughter to a school but she could not settle there. Now that my child has finally settled here with specially trained teachers to monitor her performance, the administration is planning to close the institute. This is not justified,” said Harleen whose 10-year-old daughter studies in the institute.

Bharti Kapoor of the institute said: “We were verbally declined the request for another extension. Initially, we had received support from the department in the beginning. Now, even the parents are asking us about the fate of the institute. The administration needs to be more sensitive towards the needs of dyslexic children. We cannot take these special children to slum, they need to taught at an appropriate place.”

Meanwhile, DPI (Schools) Samwartak Singh said we would definitely consider granting extension to the institute to run from the premises.



Youth Cong scouts for talent
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
In a bid to connect better with the common man, the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) yesterday organised a walk-in talent hunt for people under its flagship “Aam Aadmi ka Sipahi” (AAKS) programme to bridge the gap between the government and the common man.

The brainchild of AICC general secretary and scion of Nehru-Gandhi family Rahul Gandhi, the AAKS evoked a decent response with over 200 youths, including doctors, engineers, lawyers and MBAs taking part in the contest.

A special team from Rahul Gandhi’s office, including Varinder Rathore, Youth Congress general secretary, and Man Singh, conducted the interviews in which the applicants were grilled on various government programmes.

President of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTYC) HS Lucky said the interviewed candidates would be shortlisted for the AAKS programme.

These youths will work as government and IYC’s interface with general public and make people aware about the various schemes like the Right to Information Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the midday meal scheme, the old-age pension scheme and the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan.

The AAKS provides a platform to people with desire to enter politics.

The AAKS team will interact with people and make them aware of various schemes implemented by the Central Government for their benefit and then assist them to avail their benefits.

The IYC has appointed state coordinators for various states and Union Territories for the AAKS schemes to act as facilitators besides the state units of the youth Congress.

The AAKS volunteers will work in close coordination with the state youth Congress units.

The applicants not making it to the AAKS will be absorbed in the youth Congress bodies, a senior leader added.



Death of Dhyanpuri
Loss to Punjabi literature
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 6
Literary fraternity and friends mourned the demise of Punjabi poet Bhushan Dhyanpuri, who passed away after an illness here.

Hailed as the satirist poet and prolific writer of Punjabi verse born and raised at Dhyanpur with his original name Beanti Saroop Sharma is better known as Bhushan Dhyanpuri. He had retired from Government College, Ropar, having served as a professor of Punjabi literature. He is survived by his wife and two sons.

A very close associate and follower of legendary poet Shiv Kumar Batalvi and Mohan Bhandari, Bhushan had scores of admirers who shred their moments of grief with The 

Mohan disclosed that Bhushan emerged as the satirist poet and writer of appreciable magnitude on the Punjabi literary firmament. Appreciative of his literary prominence, legendary Amrita Pritam, carried a special issue in a Punjabi magazine. He said: “Endowed with a vision, impulse and living amidst realties of a commoner’s life, Bhushan communicated what he observed with an explicable urge giving a fresh dimension to satire in Punjabi literature,” opined journalist poet Nirupma Dutt.

“His writings have abundance of literary allusions, satire, wit and irony and a big loss to Punjabi literature,” laments Nirupma.

Aruna Shiv Batalvi from Patiala expressed the grief calling it a personal loss to her family. Papa had many friends but uncle Bhushan ji has been more of a family member, claimed Dr Meharban Batalvi.

Poet Goverdhan Gabbi, an avid reader of poet’s books and columns in The Punjabi Tribune felt concerned over the void caused by the poet’s death.

The Chandigarh Sahitya Akademy mourned the demise of poet Dhaynpuri yesterday, said its vice-chairperson Dr DS Gupta.

Poet Gul Chauhan maintains that Bhushan Dhyanpuri, with a humanistic vision was secular to the core in his life and literature. Many well-wishers and friends have expressed grief.

The cremation will take pace on Tuesday.



Space under flyover turns into dumping ground
Rajiv Bhatia

Garbage lies scattered under the Zirakpur flyover.
Garbage lies scattered under the Zirakpur flyover. A Tribune photograph

Zirakpur, July 6
The vacant space under the multi-crore flyover at Zirakpur has turned into a dumping ground.

Beneath the flyover, heaps of garbage present an unhealthy picture to the visitors. The Zirakpur flyover became operational more than six months ago, giving a big relief to the people from traffic jams, but the garbage accumulating beneath the flyover has virtually converted the entire area into a massive open-air dustbin. Even encroachments can be witnessed under the flyover.

Residents of the area say with the garbage strewn under the flyover, it is difficult to cross the road. They allege that the authorities concerned do not bother to take steps to clean up the mess. They have demanded the area under the flyover should be maintained properly and converted into green belt.

A survey of the area reveals that various kind of rehris, rickshaws, commercial vehicles and horse wagon are parked under the flyover. Though the National Highway authorities have categorically stated on the pillars of the flyover that it is a property of the National Highway and any kind of encroachment, pasting any banner or parking vehicles are strictly prohibited, advertisement posters are also pasted on the pillars of the flyover.

Ravi Dhaliwal, a resident of Zirakpur, says, “It is difficult to walk along the road, as the garbage was dumped everywhere and smelling foul. We are demanding from the authorities to clean the area and convert it into a green park.”

Sources in GMR, the company undertaking maintenance of the Ambala-Chandigarh highway, say, “We are cleaning the space regularly, but next day the place is again filled up with garbage.” Despite their strict instructions to shopkeepers not to throw garbage under the flyover, the latter are using the space as a garbage dumping place, sources add.

Sources further add that they had taken up the issue to the Zirakpur Municipal Council but nothing has been done so far.

GMR officials say, “We will strictly raise this issue with the Municipal Council and ask them to cooperate with us for solving this problem.”



Property Grabbing
Politician-police nexus in tricity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Panchkula/Mohali, July 6
Political patronage always comes handy for the property grabbers. A well-greased politician-police-grabbers nexus is operating in the tricity, if the case in the past few months is any indication.

Eyeing prime properties, mostly owned by elderly persons with their wards living abroad, such land sharks pose as tenants, students or a needy family. Later, musclemen hired by the property grabbers come into action and gradually replace the tenants.

The recent arrest of Prabhjot Singh Zira, son of former SAD MLA Inderjit Singh Zira in connection with the assault on a councillor’s sons, threatens to lift the veil off a hitherto unknown ugly nexus between “hired” musclemen and land “sharks” that prevails in the city. The MLA has, however, denied the involvement of his son.

It is not an isolated incident in the tricity. A few months ago in Mohali, a Panchkula-based industrialist, Ramnik Singh Mann, had complained that he had been implicated by a property dealer at the behest of a senior Akali minister and his son as he was the attorney of properties of his NRI friend Gursimran Singh Virk and the property dealer was trying to grab the property.

“They are terrorising me to scare me away from exercising control of access over his property,” he had stated in a complaint forwarded to the DGP, Punjab, the Home Secretary, Punjab and the SSP, Mohali.

Punjab Police officials admitted that such cases were never registered due to political pressure. Cutting across the party lines, some of the Mohali-based politicians of the SAD and the Congress are doing disputed property business.

In Panchkula, the prosperity of a former councillor can be attributed to his involvement in such activities. Another Haryana politician holding a responsible post in the zila parishad also remained in limelight for his alleged involvement in a dispute on the possession of a big house in Sector 2 two years ago.

The modus operandi is simple. Find the properties involved in a dispute between tenant and landlord and then contact the latter and convince him to sell his property at a much lower price than that is available at market price and take the possession of the property forcing the tenant to vacate using muscle power.

In a similar incident property of an NRI was saved only when the local court ordered the arrest of Bhuma Devi, a trespasser on the first floor of house No. 27 at Sector 8, recently.

Dr Joginder Singh Sahi (69), an NRI, after spending 50 years in Germany returned to Panchkula to stay in his house at Sector 8 in October 2007, just to find that the house was already occupied by Bhuma Devi, whom he never knew. Going through a long battle while staying at a hotel, the doctor got his house following the court decision in his favour.



Singhal to take over as MC chief
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 6
The controversy over the post of Municipal Council president ended today when SC Choudhary, financial commissioner and principal secretary, urban local bodies, staying the orders of director, urban local bodies, asked him to take necessary action for filling the post of president, Municipal Council, Panchkula.

The BJP leaders were up in arms against the district administration and director local bodies since June 19, when its councillor BB Singhal was stopped from working as president, following the removal of Ravinder Rawal, president of the council.

Delivering his judgment following an appeal filed by BB Singhal, vice-president of Municipal Council, against the orders of director, urban local bodies, Choudhary said the vice-president of Municipal Council would perform all the duties of the president till the post of the president is filled up.

The decision of the commissioner, however, brought the working of directorate, urban local bodies, under scanner. It was on June 17 when director of local bodies, asked Panchkula DC to take the charge of president from vice-president Singhal, who had taken over as president on June 11, following the removal of Rawal.

The BJP councillor BB Singhal, took over as president of the local civic body when the Municipal Council election tribunal on May 4 declared the election of the then president Ravinder Rawal as illegal. The decision was upheld by District and Sessions judge SP Singh. Rawal, however, moved the order in the high court and on June 17 on the pretext the director of urban local bodies asked the Panchkula DC to take the charge from Singhal stating that it was awaiting the opinion of Advocate General in this regard. The BJP, however, in addition to taking out protest march, filed an appeal on June 20 before the principal secretary, urban local bodies.



Probe Panel
Admn making mockery of civic body, say councillors
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, July 6
The elected municipal councillors have criticised constitution of an inquiry commission to probe into the functioning of the local municipal corporation by Administrator Gen SF Rodrigues (retd). However, the nominated councillors termed the move for the better functioning in the corporation.

The councillors expressed surprise at the move and said the administration was making mockery of the corporation’s elected body by constituting an inquiry commission on their style of functioning.

Reacting on the administrator’s move, Mayor Kamlesh said she was not aware about the reason behind setting up of a commission for the corporation. She added that she had in a letter written to the Administrator brought to his notice the non-cooperative attitude of the municipal commissioner. She also alleged that the commissioner has openly violated the Section 38 of the Punjab Municipal Act by defying the Mayor’s authority.

Commenting on the setting up of the commission first Mayor, Kamla Sharma, said the House is supreme. If we follow the Act then how can a commission be appointed above us?

Sharma clarified that as per the Act, the commission could be framed only on a definite matter of public importance and the controversy between the commissioner and Mayor is not a serious affair. She said when Secretary, Local Government and Home Secretary, Ram Niwas had done the Commissioner and Mayor’s patch up, what was the need of framing this commission?

Nominated councillor, MPS Chawla supported the setting up of such commission and commented that it was for the betterment of the city, as it would sort out the loopholes in the system.

He said the administration should appoint such a commission, which should be above the municipal commissioner’s level, only, and then the real purpose would be served.



Power meter catches fire, 15 trapped inside SCO
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
At least 15 persons, including six women, had a narrow escape here today after a fire broke out in an electricity metre installed in the staircase of a shop-cum-office (SCO) 185, Sector 38-D building.

These people were trapped on the first floor of Sher Khan Limited, a share market office, after the smoke spread all over the building. Later on, all of them were evacuated by a rescue team of the fire and emergency department.

According to firemen, the incident brought to their notice at about 4.42 pm when an unidentified person noticed smoke bellowing out from the metre box and called them up. Within minutes the smoke had engulfed the entire building and people were seen crying for help on the first floor of the building.

The fire officials said a fire tender from Sector 38 fire station was pressed into service. Officials informed they opened the windows and doors of the building where the coaching class was being taken for allowing the fresh air to enter the building.

A few persons were evacuated with the help of the extension ladder, while others were taken to the ground floor by the firemen after the smoke was sucked out of the staircases using suction pumps.

No one sustained injuries or were taken sill due to the smoke in the entire operation. Short circuit has been cited as the reason behind the fire by the fire officials.



One rank, one pension welcomed

Mohali, July 6
Kharar MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu today said the announcement of one rank one pension for the ex-servicemen in the Budget came as a big relief for the latter in the state. Thanking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Union Information & Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni, he said the party had fulfilled its commitment for the ex-servicemen.

SS Sohi of the ex-servicemen movements also thanked the Congress for accepting their long pending demand. He said it would benefit around eight lakh ex-servicemen. — TNS



Pensioners seek early payment of arrears
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 6
Members of the Defence Accounts Pensioners Welfare Association have demanded an early payment of the arrears relating to the Sixth Pay Commission.

The members of the association said the release of arrears would act as a breather for the pensioners who faced various problems. They urged the UPA Government to mitigate the hardships of senior citizens in the budget by increasing the tax exemption limit, raising the investment limit of senior citizens saving schemes in post offices and increasing the interest rate on bank and post office deposits.

The association also demanded an increase in the fixed medical allowance from Rs 100 to Rs 1,000 per month, a check on adulteration of food items, a chief commissioner for Chandigarh and the benefit of conveyance deed at allotment prices to residents in Mohali.



Cooperative Society
Mgmt panel dissolved; administrator appointed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
The Joint Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Chandigarh, today dissolved the managing committee of the Labour Bureau Employees’ Cooperative House Building 1st Society, Sector 49.

The committee has been dissolved on account of being negligent for performing duties imposed on it as per the Punjab Cooperative Societies Act, 1961, and Krishan Kumar, Inspector Grade II (general), has been appointed as the administrator of the society. Confirming this, NPS Randhawa, Joint Registrar of the societies, said: “Despite giving notices, the management could not execute the process of transfer of share to the members of the general power of attorney. Also, Krishan Kumar has been entrusted the job of looking after the affairs of the society on an honorarium of Rs 1000 for a period of six months till November 30”.



Services of 63 safai karamcharis regularised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
At least 63 safai karamcharis of the local municipal corporation were today regularised against the vacant posts at a meeting organised at Medical Officer Health Office today.

The appointment letters were issued by Harsh Vardhan Valmiki, Chairman, National Commission for Safai Karmacharis, Government of India.

He along with Dr Roshan Sunkaria, Commissioner, PK Sharma, Additional Commissioner, Dr G Dewan, MOH, and other senior municipal officers visited the Medical Officer Health Office.

During his address, various representatives of safai karmacharis came forward and explained their working and service conditions.



City architects to attend seminar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
Two city-based architects-Surinder Bahga and Sameer Rai-have been invited by the Indian Buildings’ Congress to present their paper on its 15th annual convention and national seminar on “Innovative materials, machinery, techniques and technology in building construction” from July 15 to July 17 at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi.



Sai Baba coins on display
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
At least nine divine coins given by Sai Baba to one of his favourite devotees Laxmibai Shinde have been put on display at Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Sector 29,today. Addressing a press conference Arun Gaikwad, great grandson of Laxmibai, said today that these coins would be placed at special temple being constructed at Shirdi.These coins will remain on display till July 8. Coins would put up for public display on Gurupurnima on July 7, the organisers added.



Radio programmes

Chandigarh, July 6
Students of the Institute of Radio Jockeying (IRJ) on Sunday started innovative programmes--"Career Guru" and "Smart Women" to be broadcast on AIR FM 103.1 and 107.2.

In "Smart Women", general knowledge and imagination of different women will be tested on phone, said SP Singh, director of IRJ. — TNS



PU to adopt UGC nomenclature
Lecturers will be addressed as assistant professors and readers will be associate professors

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
In one of the decisions taken in the Panjab University Syndicate meeting held today, the university will adopt latest UGC notified nomenclature where every faculty member turns professor.

According to Prof Naval Kishore, DSW, PU, as per the approved notification while lecturers will now be addressed as assistant professors and readers will don the cap of associate professors to be subsequently succeeded by professors in level of hierarchy.

Besides, the proposed five per cent hike in the fee of NRI students has been rolled back from all years except the students who join in the first year this academic session.

“The SOPU party had given us a representation and now that we have got funds we have decided to hike the fee in NRI category,” added Naval.

The university plans to review the latest UGC notifications pertaining to recruitment of lecturers, as confusion continues to shadow its implementation. “According to the notification only those candidates having cleared the NET exam are eligible for applying, however, it clearly states that it has to be implemented only after being notified in the Gazette,” said one of the Syndics. The review, according to many, is sure to stir the issue of alleged denial of interviews to many candidates with MPhil degree by city colleges in recent interviews.

It may be noted that the candidates who were declared ineligible on the day of interview have moved several complaints, citing violation of fore mentioned aspect of the directive as the reason.

The university has also decided to legally review reservations in jobs advertised recently. A fine of Rs 5,000 has been imposed on Dev Samaj College for women for a wrong admission.

On academics, from introduction of integrated courses in fine arts department, certificate course in women studies through distance learning, masters in remote sensing and geographic systems and a postgraduate diploma in research methodology and statistics has been approved.

Syndicate has also given a nod to the proposed MoU between PU and Institute of Microbial Technology and Oil and Natural gas Corporation, Dehradun.



Counselling for Class XI
628 admissions on Day 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
Witnessing a fewer students on the fourth day as compared to the past few days at GMSSS, Sector 10, the process of counselling for admissions to Class XI resumed here today.

A total of 628 admissions were conducted on day four taking the total admission tally to 3,243 till date. Students with 68 per cent and above were called for counselling.

The scanty response in humanities and vocational streams continued with only 30 admissions made in humanities and 36 in vocational, showing no improvement since last three days.

Four more schools, including GMSSS-40 (cut off 72.6 per cent), GMSSS-21 (cut off 71.8 per cent), GMSSS-46 (cut off 71.6 per cent) and GMSSS-10 (cut off 68.8 per cent) declared closure of admissions today in the science stream, which continued to be the top choice of students. Meanwhile, out of the total number of seats available in science stream around 850 are still vacant.

Commerce also emerged as a favourite among students and admissions in most schools has been in the commerce stream, including GMSSS-16, GMSSS-35 and GMSSS-37, GMSSS-19 (cut off 72.6 per cent), GMSSS-MHC (cut off 72 per cent) and GMSSS-40 (cut off 69.4 per cent).



15 more AIE centres on the anvil
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 6
Announcing that 15 new alternative innovative education (AIE) centres would come up shortly, the education department today held a meeting under the partnership initiative programme at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 35.

With nearly 100 NGOs, residential welfare associations, social activists and volunteers participating at the meeting, the focus remained the development of the “out of school” children and the practice of monthly meeting of these bodies with the area supervisor or the cluster head was declared by DPI (S) Samwartak Singh.

Issuance of ID-cards to the NGOs and formation of an action task force to monitor the working of 200 AIE centres consisting of 25 persons was also announced.

The issues related to out of school children such as motivation, first generation learner, earning compulsions and health issues and the action plan.

The allocation of these centres and a monitoring plan were also discussed.



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