C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


School bus strike called off
Speed governors to be installed by Sept 30;
Panel on permit fee soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
After holding the city to ransom for three days, the Chandigarh School Bus Operators Association today called off the strike, following certain assurances from the administration.

However, the State Transport Authority, too, has given a chance to six operators, who could not comply with personal hearing notices for termination of their permits served on them yesterday. They have been directed to appear before the Secretary, STA, Dr Vandana Disodia, tomorrow to explain why their permits should not be cancelled as they defied the permit norms.

Nevertheless, barring the issues related to the safety of the schoolchildren, the administration and bus operators today came on the negotiation table. It has been agreed by operators to install speed governors by September 30. However, the administration has sternly stated that no relaxation in the life span of the vehicles beyond 15 years will be granted, but the issue of permit fee be considered.

The administration, in this direction, has decided to form a committee consisting of two representatives of private schools, two representatives of school bus operators and the Joint Secretary, Home, the Joint Secretary, Finance, and the Secretary, State Transport Authority, from the administration side to examine the issue. This committee will examine the issue of permit fee and make its recommendation to the administration and the administration will take a view on their request afresh.

The operators demanded to roll back the permit fee which, they said, had been enhanced from Rs 620 to Rs 25,000 for five years. The administration argued that after entering into the countersign agreement, the operators were exempted from paying Rs 25,000 per annum to Punjab. Similarly, in Haryana, their counterparts paid over Rs 12,000.

“A total of 630 vehicles have been registered with the State Transport Authority, out of which 520 vehicles are either LTVs or MTVs. Only 110 vehicles fall in the category of HTVs, for which Rs 5,000 per year is charged. In case of LTVs and MTVs, the permit fee is Rs 124 per annum as compared to Rs 12,000 fees of Punjab and Haryana. But still, we are ready to negotiate on this issue”, said Home Secretary Ram Niwas, while addressing a press conference here.

Ram Niwas said no compromise on installing speed governors and restricting the life span of buses would be made as the matter was related to the safety of the schoolchildren.

Meanwhile, out of six operators, who were served on the personal hearing notices, lawyers appeared on behalf of three operators - Manjit Singh, Gurdev Singh and Nirmal Singh - while the other three ‘defaulting’ operators could neither appear nor they send their any representative.

Vandana Disodia said the six operators had been given one more opportunity to present their side tomorrow at 3 pm in the STA office.

Earlier, all-principals’ meet was called by the administration, where Ram Niwas pointed out that since it happened to be a tripartite agreement between the school authorities, the bus operators and the authority of the transport wing, the school heads could not shy away from sharing the responsibility on this issue.

The STA had been instructed to put a clause in this agreement that only speed governor-equipped buses should be allowed to be part of their transport fleet.



Panchkula Violations-II
Encroachments a nuisance for neighbours
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

An illegal electricity connection for the tents of security personnel at VIP complex in Sector 12 A in Panchkula.
An illegal electricity connection for the tents of security personnel at VIP complex in Sector 12 A in Panchkula. Tribune photos: S Chandan

Panchkula, July 13
Though the local administration has “proved a good host” by turning a blind eye to the encroachments by security personnel of VVIPs or VIPs, the privileged class, however, does not bother about the problems of their neighbours as well as rules and regulations of the state.

In Sector 12, the security personnel of former Punjab Governor BKN Chhibber, have not only pitched their tents on HUDA land, a toilet constructed on the footpath of the road in the locality has become an ugly sight for neighbours.

Though nobody wants to openly complain against the security personnel of VVIPs who have taken the water connection for toilet from the main pipeline, a resident, on condition of anonymity, said the grill meant for the protection of the adjoining greenbelt had been removed to facilitate the policemen to enter the green belt in the past so that they could answer the call of nature when the toilet seat was not set up on the footpath.

Following their colleagues, the security personnel of a senoir IPS officer from Punjab in Sector 7, nowadays are busy in setting up tents and toilets in and around the greenbelt on the Chandigarh-Panchkula road.

At Sector 12 A, while the state government has provided the posh bungalows to its ministers, parliamentary secretaries, and members of the Haryana State Staff Selection Commission in the VIP complex, no place was earmarked for the security personnel guarding the area and inmates here.

The power is being supplied to the tents erected on PWD land by the security personnel, however, through an illegal connection with a pole outside the complex.



Bains extension stirs up hornet’s nest
Punjab may seek repatriation of Health Services director
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
The recent move of the Chandigarh Administration to grant one-year extension to the Director, Health Services, Dr MS Bains, is set to spark off a fresh controversy as the Punjab government is likely to oppose the move and may even seek the repatriation of the doctor.

The administration has gone out of the way to favour Bains as such extension has been unprecedented in the department. For the past over decade, none of the seven directors had been given any extension.

However, Bains has been given the extension one month before the expiry of his tenure, which ends on August 31. Sources maintained the proposal for Bains extension had been cleared by the Administrator, Gen SF Rodrigues (Retd).

While Bains may be celebrating his slated extended tenure in the city, sources in the Punjab government revealed that Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a strong opponent to the policy of extended deputation, has taken exceptions to the move. The sources said the administration had not even bothered to seek a clearance from the state government before going ahead with the extension.

The sources revealed that the minister had already formed a panel of three senior officials, including two deputy directors and one joint director, of the health department for the consideration of the UT administration to select new DHS.

When pointed out that Bains had already been given the extension for a year, a senior official of the Punjab Health Department claimed that the administration could not decide such matters unilaterally. “Let them give the extension, we’ll repatriate him,” he said.

Meanwhile, the extension to Dr Bains has raised eyebrows even in the UT Secretariat. Bains seven predecessors, Dr Dalbir Singh, Dr Gurnam Singh, Dr RS Sandhu, Dr Joginder Singh, Dr Rameshwar, Dr CP Bansal and Dr Inderjit Walia, had all served terms up to three years. A couple of them were repatriated on promotion even before the end of their term.

Dr Bains had joined the administration in 2006. Efforts to contact Bains or Health Secretary, Ram Niwas, for comments proved futile.



PU lacks approved criteria for appointment to top posts
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, July 13
In what may come across as a surprise to many, Panjab University has no approved criteria, norms or procedure for the appointment to posts like the DUI, DSW, DFS, DAR, Dean (Research) and Director Hospitality and Program Coordinator NSS.

As per the information provided by the varsity in response to an RTI application filed by one of the professors Shashi Sharma, it has admitted that the Dean Students Welfare, Dean Alumni Relations and Dean Research are appointed as per the regulations mentioned in the PU calendar by the senate on the recommendations of the Vice-Chancellor.

As per information, there are no criteria/norms for such appointments in this regulation and it is well within purview of Vice-Chancellor to recommend names.

The positions of Dean Foreign Students, and Director Hospitality and Program coordinator NSS also fall in this category where the calendar has no specific criteria for appointments. However, in case of Dean University Instructions, though the senate based on syndicate’s recommendation, does the appointment, still as per the practice, the senior-most professor gets the position.

The reply provided under the RTI also specifies that there is also no fixed criteria or regulation for extensions or replacement on these posts and they are generally vacated on the expiry of the term of the incumbent.

“It’s high time that we rework our calendar because lack of a fixed criteria gives arbitrary power to Vice-Chancellor, who incidentally is also the presiding officer of the Senate and Syndicate, the approving authorities. These are important posts and arbitrary appointments cannot be made on them otherwise every time the authority changes the new one shall use it to accommodate his men here,” asserted Shashi Sharma.

Meanwhile, reacting to the same Professor RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor PU said, “Everything is as per the calendar and its not me who has made it. Appointments to these posts have been made this way even before I was the VC and in the absence of an amendment, it will continue after me also.”

Shashi Sharma has also sent a complaint to Chief Information Commissioner Delhi against the varsity for flouting the RTI Act. He has complained that though he was supposed to receive a reply within 1 month that is 8 July 2009 but he got it on July 10. Interestingly, while every document of the reply and even the covering envelop was dated July 8, but in one of the annexures, six varsity officials, including Registrar, had mentioned July 9 as their signature dates. “If they signed this annexure on 9th, how was the letter dispatched on July 8? It’s height of manipulation,” said Shashi



Cong councillor quits probe panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
Congress councillor Chander Mukhi Sharma, who was one of the members of the probe committee, constituted by the administration to look into the functioning of the corporation, has finally resigned on the direction of the party.

There was great resentment among councillors on his becoming the member of the committee, which could not be formed under the law. Local Government Secretary Ram Niwas confirmed the resignation of Chander Mukhi. In his resignation letter, Chander Mukhi stated that he was resigning from the membership of the committee on the directions of the party high command.

In an emergency meeting of the Congress councillors of the Municipal Corporation recently, the members pressurised Chander Mukhi Sharma to resign from the committee as it was against the Punjab Municipal Act or no law stipulated its formation.

Meanwhile, at a meeting of the BJP councillors today, it was decided that they would wait for the report of the committee and then decide about the action to be taken. They stated that if the Congress wanted to make amendments in the Municipal Act, all-party meeting should be called by the Mayor to discuss the issue.

Alleging the Mayor as a controversial head, the BJP councillors opined that officials and councillors would have to solve the matter across the table.



Brigadier faces COI over ‘misbehaviour’
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
A brigadier who has been approved for promotion to the rank of major general is in the dock after the wife of a recently married junior officer alleged that he misbehaved with her at a public function, it is learnt.

Army sources revealed that the brigadier is presently serving as the commandant of an infantry regimental centre located in Uttar Bharat Area. Based upon a complaint forwarded to the Chief of the Army Staff, Gen Deepak Kapoor, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Command, has ordered a court of inquiry (COI) to investigate the allegations levelled against the officer.

Sources said that Central Command Headquarters issued the COI’s convening orders today. The General Officer Commanding 6 Infantry Division, Maj Gen DK Jamwal, has been detailed as the COI’s presiding officer, with two brigade commanders as its members.

The incident is reported to have taken place on Friday evening at a social function, following which a written complaint was put in to the authorities concerned as well as the Army Chief, who ordered an appropriate action to be initiated in the matter, sources said.

Over the past few years, there have been a number of cases where senior officers have been accused of sexual misdemeanour. Several officers, including a major general, have been tried by general court martial in such cases.

Sources point out that in the recent past there have also been several cases where allegations of corruption or misconduct have been levelled against officers approved for promotion or those awaiting to be screened by selection boards for elevation to the next rank.

According to orders issued late evening, the officer has been removed from his post and attached to HQ Uttar Bharat area in Bareilly.



Paddy MSP likely to be fixed at Rs 950
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandiagrh, July 13
The minimum support price (MSP) of paddy for the upcoming kharif marketing season (KMS) is likely to be fixed at Rs 950 per quintal, as recommended by the Commission on Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

Sources in the Ministry of Agriculture said though the MSP should have been announced before the paddy transplantation started, it has been deferred on account of many states demanding that the MSP be hiked to Rs 1250- RS 1450 per quintal. The government is also holding back the announcement of the MSP for the political implications arising from a low MSP, even as poor advancement of monsoon in North India is leading to concern of poor productivity

Rising rice stockpiles of the government; and, the need to ensure that area under other crops, especially sugarcane and pulses, is not diverted to paddy cultivation, led the government to make a nominal hike of Rs 20 per quintal in the MSP this year, as compared to the MSP for the last KMS.

Sources said the CACP had recommended that the MSP for coarse paddy be fixed at Rs 950 per quintal, and for fine variety be fixed at Rs 980 per quintal for the 2009-10 KMS. Last year, the CACP had recommended that MSP be fixed at Rs 1,000 per quintal for coarse and Rs 1,050 per quintal for the fine variety. The government had, however, announced the MSP at Rs 880 per quintal and Rs 900 per quintal for the two varieties. Later, a bonus of Rs 50 per quintal was announced to appease the farming community.

Officials in Ministry of Agriculture said another major reason for the CACP recommending a lower MSP over last year is to ensure that the area under other crops was not diverted to paddy because of the high MSP fetched by this crop. Over the past couple of years, farmers across the country have been aking to paddy cultivation because of the high returns fetched by this crop. The government also does not want to increase its rice stocks which have been growing rapidly, especially in wake of the ban on export of non basmati rice. The rice stocks of the country stand at 21.6 million tonne as compared to the buffer norms of 12.2 million tonne.



Are northern states ignoring Punjabi?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
Acts alone do not help in the promotion or prevention of a language from going into the oblivion. Punjabi is a glaring example of official apathy and neglect.

Though the previous Indian National Lok Dal government had amended its Official Language Act, granting Punjabi the status of second language, it is yet to be implemented in the state. It’s the same with the Union Territory of Chandigarh. Teaching of Punjabi as a language in schools or its use in official work has been virtually abandoned by the Chandigarh Administration.

What could have been more painful for ardent lovers of Punjabi than the serious concerns expressed over its future in the state in the just-concluded Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha?

Rajya Sabha MP from Haryana Tarlochan Singh had in the ongoing session of Parliament raised the issue of financial assistance provided to the states under the centrally sponsored scheme of appointment of language teachers.

The reply given by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, himself a Punjabi, was shocking. None of the northern states other than Himachal Pradesh had applied for financial assistance for the appointment of Punjabi teachers during the past three years. Only Himachal Pradesh had obtained a grant in October 2007 for the appointment of 100 Punjabi teachers.

Interestingly, the HRD Ministers’ reply mentioned that requests for grant for the appointment of Urdu teachers had come from many states. But Haryana, Union Territory of Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi, that have substantial Punjabi-speaking population, have not asked for any financial assistance for appointing Punjabi teachers.

In letters addressed to the Chief Ministers of Haryana, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and the Administrator of Chandigarh, Tarlochan Singh has expressed deep concern over the apathy and indifferent attitude of these state governments towards Punjabi.

“In a secular country, where the Central government is providing financial help for the promotion of minority languages, all state governments should have responded positively to the scheme, so as to earn goodwill of these minority communities. But, I am amazed at their attitude,” he wrote in his letter.

He was hopeful that the Chief Ministers concerned would issue directions to their respective education departments to immediately send proposals to the Centre for special financial assistance to appoint Punjabi language teachers. The entire financial burden for their appointment and salaries is borne by the Centre.


Councillors train guns on Pallav
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
With Chander Mukhi stepping down as a member of the controversial committee of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation, the Congress councillors have now trained their guns on the chairman of the committee Pallav Mukherjee, raising questions on his performance as member of various committees of the house.

The councillors have accused Mukherjee of delaying projects and sanctions on “flimsy” grounds and described him as “difficult man to work with”. Some dubbed him as a hard task master, but admit his negative attitude had delayed a lot of sanctions.

Talking to The Tribune, former Mayor, Pardeep Chhabra, said that during his tenure, he constituted a purchase committee under the chairmanship of Pallav Mukherjee in the month of September, as he always objected on the agendas in which the authorities had to make purchases of various items. He stated that during his six months tenure as chairman, he did not clear even a single agenda.

In the recent house meeting, the officials of the corporation objected to Pallav Mukherjee not attending the purchase committee meeting despite sending him three official reminders. Sources revealed that last year also, four meetings of purchase committee were convened for the purchase of fire equipment. In the month of December 2008, the fire department had sent a proposal of the items to be purchased to Mukherjee, but till date nothing has been received from his side, despite it being a very sensitive issue.

One of the members of the road committee, Manjit Singh stated that objecting every agenda has become Mukherjee’s approach in every meeting. Referring to the road committee meetings, he said that not even a single agenda has been approved by the committee in the last three months, as Mukherjee keep on objecting. He said that the councilors are made members of the committee to make suggestions or monitor but not to become hurdle in the development works.

Singh further stated that during 2007 when Mukherjee was member of electricity committee, not even a single agenda was cleared in his tenure as he never agreed on any issue.


Denying the allegations Pallav Mukherjee said that he had never tried to delay any developmental projects of the corporation for no reasons. He said that ‘only me’ and Chander Mukhi Sharma use to come prepare in the house meeting and no other councilors bother to open the agenda.



Chief Engineer’s post mired in controversy
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
The post of the UT Chief Engineer (CE) has generated a controversy again, with UT Adviser Pradip Mehra reportedly raising serious objections to the recommendation of the name of the officiating CE Surinder Pal as the regular CE.

In fact, the functioning of the UT engineering department has come under a cloud for suggesting Surinder Pal's name, who is reportedly not eligible for the top engineering post. Despite the fact that three CE-level officers were available to the UT from a panel sought for the post, Surinder Pal's name was recommended for the post.

Sources said according to the rules framed by the UT's department of personnel, the Chief Engineer has to be from the building and roads(B& R) branch of the engineering. Surinder Pal, who also holds the charge of the Superintending Engineer (electricity), is on deputation from the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

A few months back, the UT administration and the PSEB were on a collision course over the retention of Surinder Pal following his promotion as the Chief Engineer by the board.

Following retirement of Krishanjit Singh, the UT administration had given the charge of officiating CE to Surinder Pal. In fact, at one time the engineering department was reportedly toying with the idea of creating an additional post of Chief Engineer in the electricity department to “accommodate” Surinder Pal.

Official sources said the Punjab lobby was favouring the regularisation of the services of Surinder Pal as CE. The recommendation of the name of Surinder Pal must be seen in the backdrop of three CE-level officiers in the list of deputationists for the top post.

As the file was with UT administrator SF Rodrigues, Mehra's adverse comments may revive the cold war with Administrator. In fact, three-month extension to Krishanjit Singh by UT Administrator SF Rodrigues from January 1, 2009, had sparked off a letter war between the Administrator and Mehra. Mehra had termed extension to "tainted" official against rules, while Rodrigues had justified his powers of granting three-month extension to the official.



PSEB raids offenders
184 persons in Mohali found indulging in power theft
Our Correspondent

Mohali, July 13
Power thieves beware. The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is cracking down on offenders and imposing heavy fines.

A team of PSEB officials raided a 16-marla house in Phase VII here this morning and found that the owner was indulging in power theft by tampering the ME seals of the meter.

Power supply to his house was immediately cut and a fine of over Rs 1 lakh was imposed.

According to the raiding team, the owner was also running more than the sanctioned load.

His sanctioned load was 14.96 kw, but was running 16.4 kw in violation of the norms.

The power connection was restored after the owner paid the fine to the electricity board.

A similar raid was conducted about three days ago in a one kanal house in

Sector 71 and the owner here was also found indulging in power theft by tampering the meter.

His supply was also immediately cut and was restored only after the owner deposited a fine of Rs 1.40 lakh.

Senior Executive Engineer of the PSEB, HS Boparai, said a special campaign had been started to check the theft of power.

He said since April this year, 184 persons in Mohali and surrounding villages were found indulging in power theft.

A sum of Rs 59.52 lakh were imposed as fine in this regard.



Charges for park upkeep to go up
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 13
To encourage participation by resident welfare associations in maintenance of parks, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is contemplating to increase the monthly maintenance charges from Rs 1 per sq metre to Rs 1.50 per sq metre.

The issue would be placed at the authority meeting of GMADA. Sources said after analysing the response of the resident welfare associations, the monthly fee was being increased. Presently, the resident welfare associations in the city were maintaining around 20 such parks. In fact, there was a competition between different associations to maintain their respective parks.

A senior official said the development and maintenance of the parks, green belts and open spaces in the town had been a headache for GMADA, as different plans to maintain the spaces had failed to take off. A plan to beautify and develop 558 parks, including green belts and open spaces in various sectors of the town, had failed to take off as GMADA had failed to get a response from the contractual agencies.

GMADA would bear one-time development cost and also would pay monthly maintenance charges as per the established norms.



DAVC student dies in accident
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
A 20-year-old BA-I student of DAV College, Sector 10, died after an unidentified vehicle hit his motorcycle here this morning at the Sector 17-18 light point near Press office. He received severe injuries on his head and was taken to the PGI where he was declared brought dead.

According to Dharmveer, investigating officer, deceased Hemant Jokta was heading towards Sector 17 on his friend’s Hero Honda motorcycle (HRO3-F-2952) for fetching paranthas when an unidentified vehicle, coming from the Matka chowk side, hit him from the front.



Four persons trapped in lift
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
Four persons trapped in a lift at the LIC’s Jeevan Prakash building in Sector 17 and were rescued after one-and-a-half hour here this morning.

According to fire officials, they received a call at 11:15 am and rescued the persons with the help of a hydraulic power unit in three minutes after reaching the spot.

Those rescued were Raj Kumar, Rajiv Garg, Chandrvati and Sangita Devi. The fire officials said the lift had stuck due to a technical fault in it.

Dilip Singh, leading fireman in the operation, told The Tribune that the lift got stuck at about 10 in the morning between the second and third floor. The engineer in the office and staff members kept on trying to rescue the persons till 11:15 am.

He said a child was rescued from an opening in the ceiling. “Had that opening was not there, it could have been dangerous for the rest of the persons trapped inside.



Couple lay dead for around 2 hrs in car
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
The postmortem reports of Gaurav Rana and Rajni, who were found dead in a car in Sector 19 on Friday, indicated that the death had not occurred more than a couple of hours before the bodies were recovered.

The police said the rigor mortis had not set in when the bodies were taken out of the car.

As per the postmortem report, Rajni alias Ailsha must have died around 15 to 18 hours prior to the production of her body for autopsy that is around 8 pm on July 10.

Meanwhile, the autopsy report of Gaurav’s body has hinted a wide scale of probability about the time of death, as according to the report, he might have died anytime between 6 to 9.30 pm.

Though the reason for this wide variation is yet to be ascertained, many feel that this variation raises doubts on monoxide poisoning being cited as the possible reason, however, according to senior police officials, it was just the state of the body that made any approximation about the time of the death a difficult task.

“Gaurav’s body was not in a suggestive condition, moreover, his postmortem started around two-and-half-hours late than Alisha. This wide variation in the time of the death is a result of medical procedure and any theory of he being already dead since afternoon is not viable,” said a senior police officer.

DSP (East) Jasbir Singh Cheema told TNS that as per the statements of Rana’s friend and his mother, who were the first to notice the bodies lying in the car, the rigor mortis had not set in when they removed the bodies from the car.

They told the police that both victims were soft and their limbs were not stiff, as in the case when the death was occurred a long time ago.

Sources said the doctors in the postmortem report did not mention the exact cause of the death saying that the same could only be ascertained after the chemical examination of the viscera samples taken from the bodies.

Meanwhile, the doctors said the death might have occurred due to inhaling of the carbon monoxide gas, which leaked into the car.



Junk food is back in city schools
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
The startling consumption of junk food by students, available in the school canteen, in full glare of UT education department at GMSSS, Sector 10, the venue of the centralised counselling for Class XI admissions, has raised serious concerns about eating habits of schoolgoing children.

Junk food is now back with a bang in the city schools. Burgers, cold drinks and chips seemed to have conveniently replaced tiffin boxes of the students. “missi roti” and “bread-jam” have been substituted by noodles and hot-dogs, available in the school canteens.

What raises concerns among the city nutritionists is the increasing obesity and litharge that has victimised the schoolgoing kids in a big way in the recent past. According to dieticians, intake of junk food is dangerous and adds only pure carbohydrates in the body, which is not recommended for the growing children. This deprives them of nutrition and results in spoilt food habits.

“Junk food can badly affect the immunity of the students. The same food available can be modified in a healthy manner. Since food habits are difficult to change, so slight modification can ensure better health of kids,” said Dr Sudha Khurana, head of nutrition department, PGI.

Just adding more vegetables, like beans and carrots, can lend a different tastier flavour to the food available in the canteens, she added.

Nutritionists also cited consumption of cold drinks as a threat to the growth of children. The same went for other junk foods, which deprived children of important vitamins, including Vitamin A, added Sudha. For one, it is high time that the parents, school authorities and the education department intervene and pay head to the health of the schoolgoing children.



Living life king size
Students prefer furnished flats to PG accommodation
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
Recession seems to be an alienated concept for a large number of students in the city who choose lavishly furnished flats as inseparable part of their college life over the regular PG accommodations or hostels.

Gone are the days when students coming from outside the city would struggle to get a hostel accommodation and failing which would retort to opting for PG’s with one gas, shared bedrooms or bathrooms and nagging owners generally trying their best to create the most disciplined hostels. Scarce furniture unkempt rooms have given way to fully furnished abodes across the city where kids not only have chosen the best of curtains, paintings etc but have also ‘utilised’ their parent’s booty in getting all comforts like AC, WiFi and even LCD’s etc.

“We are accustomed to live a lavish lifestyle, so the thought of living in a hostel with others is scary. Even the PG’s are just a substitute and even if you are lucky enough to get a single room for yourself time restriction etc is troublesome. It is thus best to go for flats share it with a couple of friends and enjoy life,” said Brinder Dhillon, PU student, who lives in a LCD equipped posh Sector 9 accommodation.

Most of these students fancy renting flats for a no restriction lifestyle. According to Sunita of Sector 46, it’s less restriction that drives many girls to renting flats. “We get to live our lives our way. There is no restriction on getting our friends or coming late etc,” she added.

Besides, expenses getting divided amongst inmates lure many to opt for a rented flat.

“I along with three more friends have taken up a flat. It not only gives me a desirable company and support and I am able to afford facilities like computer, fridge AC etc,” added Ritu of Sector 51.

Interestingly, it’s not only the outstation students even the city-based students are opting for such shared flats to pep up their life. “College life means being independent but I didn’t want to compromise on comfort of home so I opted for a flat that is being shared by all friends. Now we liv the way we want and since the expenses are divided we have all facilities right from a servant to an AC and even a modern music system,” concludes Puneet whose family lives in Sector 34 while he has rented a flat in Sector 51.



Seminar on situation in Pak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
A two-day seminar on “The Emerging Situation in North-West Pakistan and Implications for Regional Security”, was conducted by the Army in Kasauli.

Senior serving and retired officers of the Western Command, along with distinguished personalities, academicians and diplomats attended the event.

The keynote address on “An Overview of Talibanisation of Pakistan" was delivered by Lt-Gen K Davar (retd), while Brig Dr Subhash Kapila (retd) shared his insights into the US’ Afghanistan-Pakistan policy and its likely direction in the near future.

With his vast diplomatic experience, former Ambassador of India to Kazakhistan, Rajiv Sikri gave an overview of the interests of key players in the emerging situation in Pakistan.



Artistes pay tributes to thespian Tera Singh Chann
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 13
“Maut uski hai karre jiska zamana afsos, yoon toh duniyan mein sabhi aate hain marne ke liye.” The Urdu couplet by Mehmood Rampuri veritably reflects the admiration showered on late freedom fighter, thespian Tera Singh Chann, founder president of Indian People Theatre Association (IPTA) movement. Born on January 6, 1921, at Bilawal (Pakistan), he secured Masters degree in Punjabi literature and became a CPI activist.

He relied on the powerful medium of theatre to communicate with people during and after the freedom movement. The artiste fraternity of the tricity assembled at the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Hall to pay tributes to Tera Singh Chann (88) for his pioneering contribution made to Punjabi literature and theatre movement in Punjab.

Akademy chairperson Kamal Tewari revered Tera Singh Chann as an epoch making thespian and an institution unto himself.

Bereft of present day facilities, Chann sculpted and presented operas like Amar Punjab, Neel Shehzadi, Lakkar di latt, Kaag Smein Da and many more.

Acclaimed playwright director, Dr Atamjit, hailed Tera Singh Chann as a committed ideologist with a resolute resolve and his demise marks the end of an era while Dr Sarabjit Singh lauded Chann for holding the cultural front of IPTA.

IPTA’s general secretary Partap Singh stressed to keep the legacy of Chann alive. Acclaimed music maestro Dolly Guleria paid emotional tributes by recalling her old family association when she sang in his opera as a child prodigy.

Dr Sukhdev Singh extolled Chann for not only propagating Punjabi literature but also enforcing harmony among the writers through his skillful handling of the situations.

Poet Sham Singh called upon like-minded writers to be practical in life translating their thoughts into reality.



A musical bonanza for audience
SD Sharma

Panchkula, July 13
The luxury of sur, lya, tal and magic of melody marked the 12th edition of the much-awaited annual musical live concert titled Sur Sangam-2009 held at Inderdhanush auditorium here today.

What makes the musical soiree is the fact that melodic bonanza is presented mainly by artists from medical fraternity under the direction of well-known vocalist Dr Pardeep Bhardwaj. As many as 20 accomplished singers, including Dr Pardeep Bhardwaj, Dr Suman, Dr Neelam, Dr Anurag Sharma, Dr Neelam Shourie, principal Sunita Nain, Er Huma Khan, beside those selected after a talent hunt and series of auditions, presented over 36 lilting songs before a packed auditorium.

The programme aimed to revive the magic of old melodies and a salutation to the legendary playback singers matched the glamour and compelling charm of melody of Bollywood star shows.

The child prodigies, Mukul Gill, Pritika Bhasin and Priyanka Singh, who brought alive the vitality of classical music in their renditions, were a treat to watch.

Commencing the programme, Dr Suman struck a patriotic note before Dr Pradeep Bhardwaj delineated the melodic character of raga Shivranjani in a classic “Mere naina sawan bhadon”.

Dr Neelam Shorie and Kanchan were at their best in “Hasta hua nurani chehra” as also Amanpreet in “Gulabi Aankhen” and Anil Sharma in “Aate jaate”. Twenty piece orchestra, led by Raman Kant, and admirable anchoring by JK Singh of AIR embellished the otherwise sleek programme.

Chief guest Ch Birender Singh, Finance Minister, Haryana, Dr Gopal Munjal and senior district officials sat through the programme, which went on till late evening.



Business contest organisers receive five plans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
EnterPrize, a business plan competition (BPC), being organised by the department of Information Technology, Chandigarh Administration, in association with The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) will prove to be an investment catalyst and create tremendous interest of investors in the UT, Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar said at a press conference here.

Sanjay Kumar said Chandigarh was one of the finest creators of quality manpower in the region and by creating infrastructure like Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP) along with the policies for encouragement of the entrepreneurs would help in retaining the quality manpower.

Director Information Technology, Manjit Singh Brar, disclosed that in 2008-09 the overall exports from the UT turned out to be around Rs 750 crore of which RGCTP alone contributed about 80 per cent i.e. approximately Rs 620 crore.

The business plan competition will conclude on July 22. Till date the organisers have received five business plans.



24-year-old commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, July 13
A 24-year-old man died after consuming some intoxicant substance at Hotel Kingston, Zirakpur late night on Sunday. The deceased identified as Dilip Kumar Sagar, employee at MES, Panchkula was married and originally belonged to Sangrur district.

According to the police, Dilip was staying in Hotel Kingston located on Zirakpur-Patiala Highway from the past four days. On Sunday night he suddenly came out of his room in an unconscious condition. In a meantime the hotel management noted that a man was falling on the floor and employees immediately informed the manager of the hotel. They rushed him to GMCH-32 where he was declared as brought dead, police added.

The investigation officer said the post-mortem report revealed that the deceased died due to consumption of some intoxicant substance. He said that the matter was investigating and a case would be registered after that. Police said that he might be in a depression. Police said that he was missing from his duty from the past two months.



Melodic spell by young virtuosos
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, July 13
Pracheen Kala Kendra with a view to promote local talent featured young sitarist Partha Sen and vocalist Navtej Singh in the Baithak programme at the Kendra here on Saturday.

Both the performers, however, showed delectable performances.

Holding allegiance to famous Maiher gharana, Patha Sen, disciple son of the late PK Sen, learnt under Dr Saroj Ghosh and Dr Harvinder Sharma commenced the recital with a short alaap and jod in the exposition of raga puriya dhanashree which paved the path for the slow paced composition (vilambit gat) while his drut gat culminated in a super fast Jhala. Partha Sens urged for a forceful playing, however, was best displayed in the concluding dhun in raga bhairavi. He was accompanied by Deepak on tabla.

Navtej Singh was next to take over the stage and he had cast a spell on the audience with Nasir Kazmi’s ghazal “Gam hai ya khushi hai” followed by another “Apni tasveer ko aankhon se.” He established a poignant aura with rendition of Ahmed Faraz’s classic “Chaand nikla to hum bauhat roye” in his mellifluous voice. He doled out ghazals, mostly on the audience demand immortalised by legendary maestros before concluding with two Punjabi numbers. Kendra registrar Shobha Koser honoured the artistes.



Man beaten to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
Chotte Lal, a resident of Colony number 5, was allegedly killed by three persons here outside his residence late last night. He was hit by a rod and was taken to the PGI where he died during treatment.

Santosh Kumar, son of Chotte Lal, alleged in his complaint to the police, that Achhe Lal, Sikender and Varinder killed his father with a rod on his head. He was injured and admitted to GMCH-32, Chandigarh, where he died.



Three-day dental health mela
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 13
The health department of Panchkula is holding a three-day dental health mela at the General Hospital at Sector 6 here, beginning today.

The camp is first of its kind in which all dental procedures like extractions, RCT, scaling, gum surgeries and X-ray facilities would be available free of cost.

The camp was inaugurated by the DGHS, Dr Narveer Singh. For more information, Dr Ravish Sharma (9465446339) or Dr Monika (9915015098).



Web Pries Lid of Censorship

The Internet has “certainly broken 30 years of state control over what is seen and is unseen, what is visible versus invisible,” says Navtej Dhillon, an analyst with the Brookings Institution.

An Iranian e-mailed the two-megabyte video of a women victim of police firing in Iran to a friend, who quickly forwarded it to the Voice of America, The Guardian in London and five online friends in Europe, with a message that read, “Please let the world know.” It was one of those friends, an Iranian expatriate in the Netherlands, who posted it on Facebook, weeping as he did so, he recalled.

Copies of the video, as well as a shorter one shot by another witness, spread almost instantly to YouTube and were televised within hours by CNN. Despite a prolonged effort by Iran’s government to keep a media lid on the violent events unfolding on the streets, Ms. Agha-Soltan was transformed on the Web from a nameless victim into an icon of the Iranian protest movement.

At one time, authoritarian regimes could draw a shroud around the events in their countries by simply snipping the long-distance phone lines and restricting a few foreigners. But this is the new arena of censorship in the 21st century, a world where cellphone cameras, Twitter accounts and all the trappings of the World Wide Web have changed the ancient calculus of how much power governments actually have to sequester their nations from the eyes of the world and make it difficult for their own people to gather, dissent and rebel.

Iran’s sometimes faltering attempts to come to grips with this new reality are providing a laboratory for what can and cannot be done in this new media age - and providing lessons to other governments, watching with calculated interest from afar, about what they may be able to get away with should their own citizens take to the streets.

One early lesson is that it is easier for Iranian authorities to limit images and information within their own country than it is to stop them from spreading rapidly to the outside world. While Iran has severely restricted Internet access, a loose worldwide network of sympathizers has risen up to help keep activists and spontaneous filmmakers connected. Mandarins in Iraq callously forgot that in late 2006, the most common language for blogs was actually not English. It was Japanese (37 per cent); English (at that time) was a close second at 36 per cent; eight per cent Chinese and One per cent in Persian (Farsee), the official language of Iran.

The pervasiveness of the Web makes censorship “a much more complicated job,” opined John Palfrey, a co-director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society.

The Berkman Center estimates that about three dozen governments - as widely disparate as China, Cuba and Uzbekistan - extensively control their citizens’ access to the Internet. Of those, Iran is one of the most aggressive. Palfrey said the trend during this decade has been toward more, not less, censorship. “It’s almost impossible for the censor to win in an Internet world, but they’re putting up a good fight,” he said.

Since the advent of the digital age, governments and rebels have dueled over attempts to censor communications. Text Messaging was used to rally supporters in a popular political uprising in Ukraine in 2004 and to threaten activists in Belarus in 2006. When Myanmar sought to silence demonstrators in 2007, it switched off the country’s Internet network for six weeks. A few weeks ago, China blocked sites like YouTube to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

In Iran, the censorship has been more sophisticated, amounting to an extraordinary cyberduel. It feels at times as if communications within the country are being strained through a sieve, as the government slows down Web access and uses the latest spying technology to pinpoint opponents. But at least in limited ways, users are still able to send Twitter messages, or tweets, and transmit video to one another and to a world of online spectators.

Because of the determination of those users, hundreds of amateur videos from Tehran and other cities were uploaded to YouTube in recent days, providing television networks with hours of raw - but unverified - video from the protests.

The day after the election, Iran’s state-controlled telecommunications provider completely dropped off the Internet for more than an hour. Whether for political, social or financial reasons, Iran has been hesitant to shut off its sterilized Internet access entirely. Some have reasoned that a complete halt would hurt businesses.

Some Iranians harnessed ways to bypass the system, relying in part on supporters around the world who were offering their computers as so-called proxy servers, which were digital safe houses that could strip out identifying information and allow Iranians to view blocked Web sites.

Despite the crackdown, the videos and tweets from Iran showed that broadly distributed Internet tools - and the spirit of young, tech-savvy people - cannot be completely repressed by an authoritarian government.

“You can’t take the entire Internet and try to lock it in a little box in your country, as China continuously attempts to do,” said Richard Stiennon, founder of IT-Harvest, a Web security research firm. “There are just too many ways now to find paths around blockages. They would have to ban the Internet entirely, or build their own network.”

That may not be so far-fetched. Experts say China is in its own league for filtering. Ethan Zuckerman, also from the Berkman Center, said China has “baked in the censorship” for its citizens by building its own Web sites and tools. Recently it said it would require so-called Green Dam filtering software to be installed on all computers sold in the country, prompting a complaint from the United States government and most likely kicking off yet another round of cat-and-mouse.

Anil Maheshwari is an editor with Instablogs.com (anilm@instablogs.com)



Class XI Admissions
Counselling for compartment candidates today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
In the ongoing counselling for the centralised admission to Class XI at GMSSS-10, nearly 160 candidates took admission today.

While the counselling has already ended for the pass candidates in all streams, the last two days were reserved for the compartment students.

The candidates in the percentage bracket of 44 per cent and above and the leftover candidates of the sports category were called for the counselling today.

Meanwhile, there are still a few seats left vacant in the humanities stream for the general category students in GSSS-20 (G), GSSS-23 (G), GSSS-27, GSSS-38 (West), GSSS-45, GSSS-26, GMSSS- Karsan, GSSS-Dhanas, GMSSS-Sarangpur, GSSS-Khuda Ali Sher, GSSS- Khuda Lahora, GSSS-Maloya, GSSS-Behlana, GSSS-Raipur Khurd, GMSSS (TM)-26 and GSSS-Kaimbwala.

The seats are also lying vacant in the following courses in the vocational stream, namely structure and fabrication technology (GSSS-MMT), stenography Hindi (Karsan), tourism and travel (GMSSS-10), finance marketing management (GMSSS-19), ophthalmic techniques (GMSSS-32), health care and beauty care (GMSSS-8), (GSSS-20-Girls), (GSSS-37) and (GMSSS-47), fashion designing and clothing construction (GSSS-20-G), (GMSSS-32), (GSSS-45), (GMSSS-47) and (GSSS-MMT).

Tomorrow is the last day for the counselling and all compartment candidates in the percentage bracket of 35 per cent and above and the left out candidates have been called for the counselling.



Private school principals meet to adopt govt schools
Tribune News Service

St Stephen’s School, Sector 45, adopts GHS-Kajheri

Vivek High School, Sector 38, adopts GSSS-Maloya

Strawberry School, Sector 26, adopts GMHS-Sector 26

KB DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 7, adopts GMS-Kishangarh

SD Public School, Sector 32, adopts GHS-Ramdarbar

Saupin’s School, Sector 32, adopts GSSS-Behlana

DAV Model School, Sector 15, adopts GSSS-Dhanas

Carmel Convent School, Sector 9, adopts GMSSS-Kaimbwala

Sacred Heart School, Sector 26, adopts GMS-Sector 26 BD

St Kabir Public School, Sector 26, adopts GHS-Mauli Jagran

Chandigarh, July 13
Principals and representatives of about nine private schools were present at a meeting regarding the “Synergy award” of the education department at Hotel Beacons, Sector 42.

The meeting was held for the partner initiative programme of the UT education department, which involved voluntary adoption of a periphery government school by the nearby private school in the city to bring its result on par.

The private school principals, who were willing to adopt the periphery government school, were briefed about the modalities of the project under which the “Synergy award” would be given for the best performance by the school, which would achieve excellence in uplifting the periphery government school it had adopted.

The initiative includes exchange programme of teaching techniques and new methodologies of teaching, use of library of the two schools by each other, visits to each other’s labs, exchange of students for computer education programmes, improve communication skills, participation in morning assemblies and organising extra curricular activities.

Among those present were principals and representatives of St Stephen’s School, Sector 45, Vivek High School, Sector 38, Strawberry School, Sector 26, KB DAV Senior Secondary School, Sector 7, SD Public School, Sector 32, Saupin’s School, Sector 32 and DAV Model School, Sector 15.

Education Secretary Ram Niwas and DPI (s) Samwartak Singh jointly briefed the meeting of the principals along with officials of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.

In addition to 10 schools, which had showed their willingness at the previous meeting to adopt the school, two more schools, namely DPS School, Sector 40, and Manav Mangal School, Sector 21, came forward.

Meanwhile, the representatives of Carmel Convent School, Sacred Heart School and St Kabir School were not present.



Govt Teachers’ Union seeks review of report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 13
During a meeting of the state executive committee of the Government Teachers’ Union, Chandigarh, the fifth pay scale recommended by the Punjab government and endorsed by the Chandigarh administration in case of the teachers working in the UT government schools was discussed.

The committee discussed that the scales, which were recommended by the UT administration, were low as compared to those recommended by the Haryana government by about Rs 1,000 and the teachers of ETT/JBT cadre were at a loss. The committee expressed resentment over the released pay scales and demanded immediate review of the original report of the Punjab government. The committee also decided to hold the meeting of general house of the teachers shortly to decide the further course of action.



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