C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Tennis court comes up on vacant plot 
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

The gate erected on the common approach road at Sector 3 in Chandigarh.
The gate erected on the common approach road at Sector 3 in Chandigarh. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, July 21
Sector 3 VIPs seem to be taking the lead in disguising “lavish” land encroachments under the garb of security. Barricading residences to make them “secure” are common, but encroaching on government land to make a tennis court or a kitchen garden is unheard of.

In Sector 3, nestled between the bungalow of Punjab finance minister Manpreet Badal and former residence of former Haryana minister Venod Sharma, is a vacant plot (No. 31), ostensibly the property of the UT administration. With a gate and a wall, it looks like any other house, but a peep inside reveals a lush green tennis court with floodlights and all the paraphernalia to go with it, besides a kitchen garden adjoining a government bungalow on an 8-kanal plot.

The road separating plot Nos. 29 and 31 has been blocked with a 6-ft gate. This road used to link the sector to the main road leading to Chandigarh Club.

While it may appear to be a security cover, a visit to this lavish empire reveals that the arrangement has been made to facilitate hassle-free sports on the flood-lit “personal tennis court”. Entry to the kitchen garden is also restricted.

Sector 3 residents, most of them septuagenarians, rued that public money was being spent on “conveniences” of bigwigs. Preferring anonymity, they said but for the single approach, all roads leading to their houses had been closed in the name of security. “In the evenings, big shots come here to play and their security guards disrupt our evening walks,” a resident said.

“The gate has restricted the entry from the main road to our houses. Even the approach to the main road has been restricted. Due to security pickets all around, we hesitate to sit even in our rear courtyards,” a resident complained.

Another resident said the situation worsened if there was a political or personal occasion at the CM’s house. “The only entry or exit road to our houses would be barricaded with security guards. We would be asked to produce residence proof to come to our houses.”

A resident said she always carried a voter card in her car.



Traffic Violations - III
Shun stunt, drunk driving
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Smooth and wide roads in the city are a “fatal” attraction for reckless motorists who overspeed and perform stunts.

One can notice marks on roads (known as rubber burners), especially in northern sectors, by reckless drivers. Inspired by stunt movies, these drivers come on the roads late at night when there is no traffic police. “The police rarely initiates action against such rowdy persons,” a resident said.

Risking their lives as well as of other motorists, they perform all sorts of stunts ranging from wheelie, skidding and drifting with their motorcycles and cars. Among their favourite hangouts are Leisure Valley, Sukhna Lake road and internal roads in the northern sectors.

“Certain video games like ‘Road Rage’, apart from TV advertisements by automobile companies promote stunt driving among youngsters. Advertisements of newly launched motorcycles and even cars no longer project vehicles as a safe mode of transportation, but rather as machines to perform stunts. Almost every advertisement of a motorcycle shows the rider perform a wheelie,” Harman Sidhu, a road safety activist, said.

The modification of vehicles for a sporty look was popular in the West a few years ago, and has caught up here too, a traffic police official said.

Youths with swanky cars from Punjab often come to the city to test their vehicles. The traffic police said a substantial number of motorists booked for overspeeding, jumping lights and driving on the wrong side were outsiders.

Until June 15 this year, the traffic police has booked 1,735 motorists for overspeeding, 242 for drunk driving, 16,730 for jumping light and 12,676 for driving on wrong side.

The administration has adopted a zero-tolerance policy by making the city smoke free, but at the same time, it is promoting drinking. Mushrooming of liquor vends, that too on V-3 roads which do not have any access or exit points, is shocking. Passive smokers take a long time to die, but a drunk driver could kill someone on the spot, but the authorities are not bothered about it. 

— Rupinder Singh, road safety activist

Reckless youngsters are most vulnerable, especially after taking drinks. Efforts should be made to discourage drunk driving through a sustained campaign,” 

— AS Sukhija, advocate

Rotary designs faulty

It’s not that the pain has gone away, but I have started living with it. A joyride after a late night party shattered five families as six out of three youngsters, including my son Karam Sekhon, travelling in a car, died. Even though they were speeding, the faulty design of the rotary, in which the car rammed, was also a contributing factor, Ramneek Kaur, mother of Karam, who died on February 5, 2007, said.

“The police immediately reached the spot, but lives were lost due to lack of equipment and post-accident medicare. I have started participating in road safety awareness programmes and have also moved the HC over the faulty designs of rotaries.

“I cut bushes at blind turns, which also cause accidents. It is painful to lose a child at such prime age,” she said. Top: Ramneek Kaur; and Karam



Nari Niketan 
SC order may delay probe
Has legal fraternity divided
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
With the Supreme Court today giving a verdict against the abortion of the mentally retarded rape victim of Nari Niketan, the process of taking DNA samples of the foetus came to an end and may delay investigation in the case.

The SSP, SS Srivastva, said they would look for another option, if available, to procure the DNA samples of the foetus before the delivery.

Sources in the police revealed that an option was available in medical science, but it was very expensive and complicated.

Following the High Court’s decision last week, the police was hopeful of getting samples of the foetus and was planning to sent it to the Central Scientific Forensic Laboratory for matching samples to nail the accused.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Chandigarh administration is also bracing itself to deal with the changed scenario as the case had hit national headlines. A senior official said since the court had observed that since the arrangement for the child’s care had to be made, they were waiting for the detailed judgment.

“Whatever the court says it will be implemented. We are already taking care of the girl,” the official said.

The judgment has, however, divided the legal fraternity. While some lawyers term it as a “landmark judgment” as it retained the rights of mentally challenged people, the others are expressing deep concern over the future of the child and feel that the court had taken an emotional decision rather than a practical one.

The police had already taken DNA samples of 21 suspects from Nari Niketan in Sector 26 and Aashreya, a home for the mentally challenged, in Sector 47. So far, it had arrested Bhupinder Singh, Jamna Dass, Kamla and Maya in the case. The suspects are Class III and IV employees and work at these institutions.



Robbers strike at Panchkula house
Make away with goods worth Rs 20 lakh
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 21
Marriage preparations for the Vohra family of Sector 16 here turned sour after robbers struck at their house and decamped with jewellery and electronic goods worth over Rs 20 lakh.

The robbery apparently occurred on the weekend when the Vohras were away to Delhi. On their return last night, they found the locks of the main door broken and the house ransacked.

SK Vohra, a businessman, had gone to Delhi with his wife on Friday to meet their daughter. They were supposed to return on Sunday, but stayed on and returned last night. They were informed about the burglary by their relatives.

“The burglars had broken the interlock of the guest room to make their way to the lobby and then entered the rooms. The locks of the almirahs were broken and valuables, jewellery and electronic goods bought for my daughter’s wedding were missing,” Vohra said.

“We usually used to inform our newspaper hawker whenever we went out of town, but this time we forgot. Some relatives reached our house yesterday morning and found newspapers had piled outside and when they looked around, they found the lock of the main door broken,” he said.

He was aghast to see the finesse with which the burglars did their job. “It appears to be the handiwork of professionals,” he said, adding that the forensic team did not find much evidence.

Policing in the district has once again come under a cloud as there has been a spurt in crime. The incident comes close on the heels of a robbery, wherein a Ludhiana-based doctor was robbed of Rs 33 lakh at Morni.


Five file nominations for MC byelection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Five nomination papers were filed by the candidates of various political parties and independent candidates, with two covering candidates, on the last date of filing of nomination papers for the by-election of ward number 10 of Municipal Corporation.

Bhupinder Singh Badheri of the Indian National Congress filed his nomination papers as Congress candidate at Chandigarh Election Commission’s office with his wife Jasbir Kaur as the covering candidate. Akali-BJP candidate Malkiyat Singh filed the nomination papers with party worker Harjit Singh as his covering candidate.

As the RJD has not fielded any candidate in the by-elections, Nirmal Kaur, an RJD member, filed her nomination papers as an independent candidate with Haffiz Anwar-Ul-Haq from the RJD as a supporter. Mohammad Kamil and Varinder Gularia also filed their nomination papers as independent candidates.

Meanwhile, BSP president Harmohan Dhawan, while talking to mediapersons, revealed that the party was not fielding any candidate in this election. He said they have asked the Akali-BJP alliance that if their candidate contests this election without any symbol they would support him. Dhawan said his party’s proposal was rejected by former BJP MP Satpal Jain.



Students fall ill after consuming canteen burgers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
About half a dozen students of GMSSS, Sector 35, were reportedly taken ill after consuming burgers from the school canteen on Friday evening.

The incident came to light today when some parents brought the incident to the notice of the school principal and stated that their children complained of severe stomachache and vomiting after consuming the burgers from the school canteen.

Reportedly, four students who had consumed the burgers had fallen ill the same day and had not been able to attend the school since four days.

Prashant Bansal, a resident of Sector 51, claimed that his son, Tushaar Bansal, a student of Class XII, was not keeping well since Friday when he had burger from the school canteen. Subsequently, he complained about stomachache after reaching home and started vomiting and was then taken to GMCH-32.

Meanwhile, confirming the incident, principal Indu Bala claimed that she had recently joined the school and said, “Some parents have contacted me today complaining about the canteen food. I have taken the necessary action and a warning has been issued to canteen contractor.”

In defence she added, “The food poisoning may not be necessarily due to the canteen food, rainy season is on and it could be due to food consumption at home also.”

The unfortunate incident occurs just a few days after the Tribune highlighted the advent of junk food in the school canteens, despite a ban.

Burgers, old drinks and chips seemed to be a convenient option for the students for lunch, thanks to the leniency of the education department to check the implementation of its orders.



Civic Amenities-II
Garbage dumping goes unabated
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 21
Heaps of garbage, stink and stray cattle have apparently become an inseparable part of Panchkula. While there is hardly any open space in the town without littering, the greenbelts along slip roads, back lanes, and parking at markets have in fact been converted into dumping grounds, causing inconvenience to the residents.

Rotting garbage and stench has made it difficult to live in many areas and there is nobody to clean it. The residents have also lost all hopes of getting relief from the problem after all the efforts to check the problem went futile.

“I have requested the employees of the Municipal Council who come here to collect garbage everyday to put a dustbin here, but to no avail,” said Raksha Rani, a resident of Sector 7, who was complaining of stink emanating from the heap of garbage lying near her home on the road dividing Sectors 7 and 8.

Interestingly, the site is in proximity of the residence of former Deputy Chief Minister and local MLA Chand Mohammad in Sector 8.

“The stink of garbage becomes so irritating after every rain nowadays that we keep our windows and doors shut all the time,” said Rajiv, another resident. Similar is the condition at Sectors 6, 15, 16, 17 and 18.

The condition of markets, especially in the sectors where kisan mandi is held, is even worse. While sweepers after collecting garbage make it a point to throw it at the nearest possible point in residential areas, shopkeepers as well as vendors use open spaces in market to dispose the trash. 

The market of Sector 16 has almost become a dumping ground. While the farmers and vendors leave the space littered with rotten vegetables after the mandi is over every week, the employees of marketing committee instead of collecting the garbage prefer to burn it leaving the residents in nearby areas exposed to the smoke.

Sources in the Municipal Council said efforts were made to place the garbage collection containers in sectors, but the opposition by the residents to the move forced the authorities abandon the scheme.

“In fact nobody wants the garbage container placed near his home and whenever the Municipal Council employees placed the containers, the VIPs of the town forced the officials to remove them,” said an official at MC on the condition of anonymity.

Even the councillors were asked to earmark the place in their respective wards with the consultation of residents. They also failed to bring in the consensus among the residents over the place, added sources.

The acting president of the Municipal Council, when contacted, said the district town planner had been requested to earmark the place for garbage collection points in the town and the situation was expected to improve only after the DTP submitted the report in this regard. 



Surprise checking at Estate Office 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
As part of bringing transparency in the government departments, the Home Secretary-cum-Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) has directed the vigilance department to intensify checking of public dealing seats.

As a follow-up today, OSD/vigilance, along with other staff, conducted surprise checking in the Building Branch, Estate Office, Sector 17.

During checking, 10 files regarding issue of occupation certificates to the owners were taken into possession for examination and scrutiny to ascertain the cause of pendency by the Vigilance Cell, according to a press note.

A detailed report in this regard is being sent to the CVO separately for further course of action. 



Power Shortage
Kajheri residents block traffic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Residents of the Kajheri colony took to the streets today and staged a dharna blocking the traffic for a long time, as they are reeling under acute power and water shortage for a long time. People demonstrated on the road demanding regular water and power supply in the colony. The residents rued that the unannounced withdrawal of power supply had adversely affected their routine work.

Vijay Kumar, a resident of colony, said, “The power cuts are being imposed without intimation. It seems there is no end to this problem.

The frequent power cuts leads to water shortage and as a result we are facing a lot of trouble.”

Jhansaham, a resident of Kahjeri, who was also protesting said nobody was paying any heed to the problem of power and water cuts. We have made several complaints but the heart of the authorities has not been moved by the residents miseries.

The police has to interfere to calm down the situation. Officials of the Chandigarh electricity department have given assurance to the residents to rectify the defaults soon .

Manider Singh, chowki in charge, Khajeri, said the situation was now under control and residents had agreed to lift the dharna. 



Rally on hygiene
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Keeping in view the outbreak of water borne diseases in the adjoining cities of Chandigarh, an awareness rally was conducted today by students of Government High School, Mauli Jagran colony in Hallo Majra. Students carrying placards with different messages on solid waste management marched through the streets of the colony in order to ensure that urban slums, colonies and villages remain free from any epidemic.

The residents and the self-help groups acknowledged the necessity and importance of solid waste disposal and assured to spread the message among the masses to avoid littering of streets in their area.

Approximately 200 students, along with the staff from the sanitation wing of the Municipal Corporation, an NGO and residents led by KR Chirwatkar, entomologist-cum-parasitologist sensitised the residents of Mauli Jagran. Pamphlets were distributed among the residents for educating them on the issues related with solid waste.

200 saplings planted

Dr Roshan Sunkaria, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, planted saplings of neem and bahera at a green park in Ramdarbar, Phase II, here today. During the drive about 200 various saplings were planted by area residents and staff of the MC.

Area councillor Ram Lal and XEN (horticulture) Arun Kumar Kansal also planted saplings of various plants in the green belts and roadsides.



Morni shooting: Accused claims he was in Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 21
The alleged robbery of Rs 33 lakh at Morni has become a puzzle for the local police, as the accused Ramesh Pashan and his two sons have claimed that they were in Ludhiana at the time of incident.

Simmi Pashan, wife of Ramesh, today handed over a CD and photographs to the local police stating that on Sunday it was the ring-ceremony of Vinayak, her elder son, at Club Nirvana, Ludhiana, and all the family members, including Ramesh, and Abhinav, allegedly named by Dr Sofat as accused in incident were present on the occasion.

The photographs and movie recording of the ceremony with booking and cash receipts issued by the club have been handed over to the police to verify the claims, said Simmi.

The mobile phone numbers of all family members have also been given to the police so as to help in confirming the location of Pashans at the time of incident, she added.

Meanwhile, the police recorded the statement of Nelson, the driver of Sofat, who was injured in the shootout. Sources in the police said the statement of Nelson was varying with that of Dr Sofat.

The number of assailants and direction from where they attacked them told by Nelson did not match with the statement of Sofat, said the police.

It was on Sunday evening when Dr Sofat alleged that he was attacked by six persons when he went to Morni with one of his friend Dr Ravinder. While his driver Nelson was injured, Rs 33 lakh lying in his Tata Safari were taken away by the assailants, alleged Dr Sofat.

The money was taken to purchase an Audi Car from Chandiarh and when he could not complete the formalities to purchase the car, he decided to visit Morni.



Workshop on healthy living tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The department of anatomy, PGI, will organise IJ Dewan memorial educational workshop for schoolchildren on “Healthy living” on July 23 and July 24 at the Zakir Hall, PGI, here.

The main aim of organising the workshop is to educate the schoolchildren about the benefits of healthy living to make them realise the futility of erratic lifestyle, which leads to an ordeal of diseases.

More than 120 students of Government Model High School, Sector 12, and Delhi Public School, Sector 40, will participate in the workshop.

The students will be made aware of the consequences of drinking alcohol, smoking, having trans fats and driving without helmets through posters and demonstrations.

Tips will also be given to teach them how they can keep themselves away from such threatening health abuses so that they can contribute to society by their commitment towards their own health, thus building up a healthy nation.

Knowledge on osteoporosis, lifestyle, healthy heart and balanced diet will also be imparted.



Panel on dress code yet to meet
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
If the claims of SOPU members are anything to go by then Panjab University authorities seem to be in no mood to discuss the validity of the enforced “no western dress code” in the Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Panjab University.

The issue came to fore when the party members through a written representation submitted to the Vice-Chancellor had sought a clarification on the validity and relevance of the “no jeans” dress code being practiced from the past three years at the dental college.

Though a committee reportedly comprising college principal HS Gaba, Dean Student Welfare (W) and Dean University Instructions is constituted to decide on the issue after a discussion with the students but it has failed to meet even once since its constitution around 20 days back.

“Everybody is busy in counselling and the issue needs time to be discussed,” asserted one of the committee members on the condition of anonymity.

While the university might have its own reasons for the delay in the meeting, the students alleged it to be nothing but an effort to defer the matter.

“The issue concerns a large number of students. Everyday we urge them to hold a meeting but the principal pleads his unavailability on one pretext or the other. The classes are starting from August 1 and once the classes begin the issue will be deferred further,” said Brinder Dhillon, president SOPU.

“If the meeting does not happen this week, we will have no option but to retort to protest and file a PIL against the dress code,” Dhillon further added.

Meanwhile, neither HS Gaba nor Dean University Instructions SC Vaidya could be contacted for their side of the story.



Cloudy sky may ‘eclipse’ date
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
If one goes by the forecast of the met department of a cloudy sky on Wednesday morning, the city celestial gazers could just miss watching “the total solar eclipse”, which is said to be of the longest duration.

This “sunrise” eclipse (5.37 am to 7.26 am), which is claimed to be a rare occurring, is second in the row of “triple eclipses” occurring in a span of 30 days in 2009, which according to astrologers has both good and bad omen associated with it.

However, the forecast of met department officials, who claim a murky visibility and heavy rainfall in the morning, may dampen the spirits of many city residents who have plans to watch the historical event.

On the significance of the event, the astrologers and astronomers have a different take. While the former claim it to be an incident that can lead to some natural disaster in any part of the globe, the latter dispose this idea saying that it is a great opportunity to be witnessed in the celestial history.

Experts also claimed that such a solar eclipse would be witnessed only after 123 years now.

Schools to begin at 9 am

Though the forecast of the met department may have disappointed many, the students and parents in the city have some reason to cherish. The administration has directed all government and private schools to start at 9 am tomorrow.

Meanwhile, some schools that received the verbal notification by the education department late in the afternoon expressed inability to inform the students.

“We received a call from the department at 3 pm and by that time the students had already gone back home. The classes would start at 9 am as per the directions but the buses would run at the same time so that the students at the bus stop do not face any problem,” said Madhu Behl, principal, KB DAV School, Sector 7



Fire dept to seal five buildings
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The MC fire department has decided to seal five multi-storeyed buildings in Sector 34 and Industrial Area. According to sources, the buildings which are to be sealed house banks, educational institutes, private companies and government offices (SCO Nos. 26-27, 85-86, 87-88 and 96-97 in Sector 34) and and plot number 105 in the Industrial Area, Phase II.

The sealing order have been issued to the owners for the violation of the National Building Code.

Sources in the fire department said after a major fire incident in an SCO of Sector 22, a meeting had been convened under the chairmanship of the MC Commissioner to check congested markets of Sectors 15, 17, 19 and 22 and other fire-prone areas.

It had been decided that steps would be taken to declare buildings that did not adhere to the code as unsafe. Later, the buildings would be sealed. Officials said the department had launched a regular campaign to check SCOs in various markets on a daily basis and prepared a weekly report.

MC Additional Commissioner PK Sharma said they were going to seal five buildings. He said the station fire officer had issued notices to the owners of the buildings, but they did not bother to equip the buildings with fire equipment.



One more suspected swine flu case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
A fresh case of suspected swine flu was reported at GMCH-32, here today. This time it is a 32-year-old woman who had come to the city from Australia to meet her parents staying in Sector 47. 

According to the health authorities, the patient had been shifted to an isolation ward and her condition was stated to be normal.

“The samples taken from the woman had been sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases laboratory in Delhi,” said HC Gera, UT nodal officer for swine flu.

She reached the hospital where doctors, finding the symptoms similar to those of swine flu, shifted her to the isolation ward, said Gera.



Training programme for teachers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 21
Millennium School, Mohali, has started a comprehensive training programme to help teachers become “new age teacher facilitators” and equip them with latest learning tools. Educomp Solutions Ltd has been engaged to conduct the advanced training.

Principal Komal Singh said, “We carry a strong notion that 21st century teachers too need to be learners in order to facilitate learning for students. Hence, we have consciously developed a process wherein the teachers undergo training, grow professionally and become better teachers.”

She added that the ongoing programme of 150 hours enriched the teachers on subject matter, knowledge of best pedagogical practices, usage of technology, classroom management technique and personal effectiveness.



Faulty marksheets worry students

Chandigarh, July 21
After several complaints of errs in question papers, it’s the alleged faulty detailed marks certificates (DMC) that are apparently perturbing Panjab University students.

According to a written complaint submitted to the authorities by the students of Masters in Public Health (IV semester), their DMC not only mentioned the course wrong as Masters in Arts (IV semester) but had also no mention of the subjects with the corresponding marks. 

According to them, the subjects had been mentioned on a slip pasted on the backside of the DMC. “The course mentioned in the DMC is wrong and there are many other mistakes like my and my father’s surname has been spelt wrong. We have approached the authorities many times but they always say they are looking into the matter,” said one of the students.

“They are sitting over the complaint not realising the problems we are facing. We have to furnish the DMC for applying in several projects or other career avenues and this DMC cannot be used,” added another. 

Meanwhile, when contacted Controller Examination, PU, AK Bhandari, said he had already moved the case. “Taking the cognisance of their complaint we have already directed their department head to take necessary step and get the rectifications done,” he said. — TNS



Anti-drug campaign launched at school
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
An anti-drug campaign was launched in Government High School, Sector 7, Chandigarh, as a part of the activities under the population education project initiated by the State Institute of Education (SIE), Sector 32, Chandigarh.

A pledge was administered to the students of GHS in the morning assembly by home-cum-education secretary Ram Niwas, who highlighted the ill effects of drugs. He said the campaign intended to educate the students about the effects of drug addiction, as they were the root cause of most of the crimes and evils in society. He also appealed to officials and NGOs present to take the campaign to every government school in the city and villages.

DK Tewari, director, higher education, welcomed the chief guest and faculty members of SIE working on the project were also present.

Surinder S Dahiya, director, SIE, thanked the dignitaries and said the pledge would be administered in the morning assembly in most of the government non-model schools in July and August. Everyday, two schools will be covered by the SIE and administrative officials. On every Saturday of these months, Ram Niwas will administer the pledge. A skit was staged by the students of GHS, which was directed by volunteers of Hamari Kaksha, an NGO.

A story of how a child gets entangled in drugs and leads a tragic life was narrated through the skit by Dr Anuradha Sharma. The volunteers of “Servants of the People Society” distributed pamphlets depicting the ill effects of drugs and AIDS.



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