C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


U-turn by PU ragging victim
But probe panel says it happened

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The ragging incident in Panjab University that hogged the headlines a few days ago took a curious turn today with the victim taking a U-turn on the entire issue.

While university officials, in their report submitted to the DUI, confirmed the claims of Anirudh, a first year student of UIET, being ragged by his senior Saurav Chandel, who was arrested by the police, along with another student, this volte face by the victim has surprised many.

“Taking cognizance of the defensive act by the accused that he was in Rohtak at the night of the incident while he was present here, the allegations of the victim were confirmed by the committee. This sudden turn has surprised us all,” said an official.

Anirudh, in his latest written communication, claimed that he was actually misguided by Chakresh, a student of Indian Theatre, who incidentally rescued him that day, to lodge the complaint.

According to him, Chakresh convinced him that he was ragged and even made him mention the phantom parade in his complaint, which never happened.

While Chakresh could not be contacted, one of his co-hostellers said, “Anirudh is being forced to take back his complaint and frame Chakresh. He was not a kid who would have been mislead about ragging and even the inquiry committee has confirmed it.”

“Yes, in his latest representation, the victim has said he was being used by someone. We will look into the matter soon,” said Naval Kishore, DSW, PU.

Meanwhile, according the police, the fact that the victim’s complaint was registered under Section 161 of CrPC, This U-turn can lead him into trouble for perjury.

Anirudh, in a written complaint, had accused Saurav Chandel of ragging him by asking an all Hindi intro and killing mosquitoes on the night of July 31, failing which he was threatened with a phantom parade, wearing boxers over the trousers.



Desi guesthouses, foreign brands
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

How did the officials react:

I am directing the DC to immediately conduct an inquiry and take legal action against all such violators and submit me a report within 15 days.

— Ram Niwas

Home Secretary-cum-Chief Vigilance Officer

There is dire need to categorise these. We have received bylaws permission draft from the Municipal Corporation, the deliberations on which is soon going to be held.

— Sanjay Kumar, Chief Administrator

Provide us with the list of defaulters you have. I will take immediate action

— Hargunjit Kaur, Assistant Estate Officer

Chandigarh, August 6
“Holiday Inn”, one of the oldest hotel chains in the world, established in 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, at Burail village sounds strange. But it’s true. The location of this hotel is equally strange. It is on the upper floors of shops, which include a country liquor shop.

In absence of any policy on the naming of guesthouses, owners of such establishments are using misleading names to attract customers. For instance, a hotel “Swagat”, which is also a popular South Indian chain of restaurants, also exists in Burail too.

It’s not only the fancy names that are a cause for concern, but also the use of brands by these guesthouses in this city. Another international brand “Comfort Inn” too finds its namesake in Sector 17.

As per rules, the guesthouses cannot brand themselves as hotels, but in absence of any checks, every second such establishment in the city is named as such.

It can be gauged from the fact that the ambience of Himachal is being encashed through naming a guesthouse as “Hotel Himachal View”, running from an SCO in Manimajra, or “Hotel Himachal Palace” in Burail. And not the least, “Sunview” from Sector 35 Hotel “Jain Sunview”, actually an SCO in Sector 35. Ironically, there are over 18 such guesthouses in Burail or around 14 in Sector 22 market, five in Sector 17, six in Sector 35, six in Manimajra.

A Tribune team attempted to take note of these guesthouses and found over 55 such guesthouses which are being run either from SCOs or SCFs, without paying the mandatory composition fee or getting their plans approved from the competent authority to run as hotels.

Ironically, these “hotel managements” have webbed a strong nexus with taxi drivers, auto drivers and rickshaw pullars, who get commission for luring the tourists to these places and tourists, too, are easily taken for a ride with swanky brand names.

On the first floor of many of these structures are tyre-repair shops, liquor vends and chemist shops. Their room tariffs, too, depend upon the customer’s ability, anything between Rs 700 and 2,500. Some also happily agree to provide shelter on hourly basis. Rs 800 for three hours was their average rate.

Further investigations revealed that operators of these so-called hotels hardly make any verification or maintain any “check-in” and “check-out” register. The “C” form which carries information about the foreigners, staying in the town, has no significance for them. By law, every hotel, which accommodates any foreign guest, has to deposit this mandatory form with the area police station. Sources in the administration said a survey showed that more than 200 guesthouses and hotels have come up in Kajheri and Attawa too.



Punjab clears airport draft
Joint venture firm to be set up soon
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 6
After initial hiccups, the international airport project here has gained momentum. The Punjab Government has approved the draft of joint venture (JV) company to be set up by the Airport Authority of India (AAI).

The project is being undertaken as joint venture with 51 per cent equity of the AAI and share of 24.5 per cent each of Punjab and Haryana. While for Punjab, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is the stakeholder, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) is from the Haryana side.

While giving its nod to the draft of the JV company, recently circulated by the AAI among the stakeholders, the Punjab has also recommended the name of the JV company as Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport Pvt Ltd. The name of the airport has also been proposed as Shaheed Bhagat Singh International Airport. “But the final decision about naming the airport has to be taken by the Union Cabinet”, said a senior Punjab Government official.

For setting up the JV company, Punjab and Haryana have been asked to deposit Rs 2.45 crore each as the capital to run the affairs of the company. While discussing the issue at a meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, GMADA decided to deposit the money once the JV company was registered. Once Haryana approves the draft, the JV company would be registered, said an AAI official.

In the draft, it has been pointed out that the company would have seven directors drawn from Punjab, Haryana and the AAI. Various issues related to the rights of the stakeholders have been spelled out. The AAI will be constructing the terminal building, taxiway and other related infrastructure. Haryana and Punjab have contributed by the way of transferring 300 acres of land to the AAI. Though the designing of the airport is at the drawing stage, it has been clarified that the existing landing strip will be extended for the international commercial flights.



4 suspended after DAV School brawl
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Four students of DAV School, Sector 15, here, today were suspended for a week following a brawl among them that left Class XI student Deepak injured.

According to the school authorities, five boys, Pawan and Bikramjeet of Class XII, and Anish, Deepak and Chirjot of Class XI, fought among themselves during the lunch break. Deepak sustained minor injuries and was immediately rushed to the hospital.

According to principal Rakesh Sachdeva, while she tried to resolve the matter, the students refused to disclose the reason of fight that led to their suspension.

“I kept on asking them to tell me what led to the fight but they kept saying sorry. So I had to suspend them. I have asked them to come after a week with their parents and divulge the reason, failing which they will be expelled,” she said.

“While the exact reason is unknown, we overheard them boasting about being cousins of some student leaders. Actually we have the brothers of these student leaders in our school and can see the effect of political rivalry on them,” said the principal.

“It’s an everyday thing here. Every year, when elections of DAV or PU are round the corner, brawls are common as these students are related to those leaders and boast about it or fight for false egos. It needs to be checked and I think the steps taken by the school are perfect to curtail any such future action,” added another teacher.

Meanwhile, none of the students could be contacted for their comments.


City Beautiful’s Ugly face: Sector 21
Residents grapple with encroachment, poor sanitation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Resentment prevails among residents of Sector 21 over poor civic amenities in their area in spite of repeated requests for a hearing.

They blame their elected representatives and officials concerned for the prevailing situation in the sector.

Poor sanitary conditions, choked sewerage, encroachment in back alleys and unlit roads are some of the major sources of nuisance for residents. Notwithstanding the claims made by the authorities that safai kamarcharis regularly undertake cleanliness drive in the area, most of the roads remain muddy and road users are forced to inhale dust.

Residents of many localities complain that safai karamcharis do not come to work for months. This has led to poor sanitary conditions in their area.

Heaps of garbage can be seen in many back alleys of the sector. At many places, sewerage remains choked as it has not been cleaned in time.

Garbage dumps near some residential areas are a permanent source of nuisance for residents. There is no permanent electricity staff to supervise replacement of defective streetlights.

Encroachment in back alleys of the sector is rampant. Most residents use these alleys to park vehicles or put gardening material.

Residents complain that the residents of corner houses usually put their own locks on the gates so that they can use it as a parking space during night.

They have complained about the matter to the authorities a number of times but to no avail, they add.

Also digging of roadside for laying of pipelines or wire and leaving it uncovered for months has also been a causing inconvenience to residents.

They say so far neither the work has been accomplished nor has the land been filled, causing inconvenience to residents during rainy season. Area councillor Anju Beniwala said there were no complaints from the residents over civic amenities.



National crafts mela from Oct 24
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The 1st “Chandigarh National Crafts Mela” on the pattern of Surajkund mela is being organised by Chandigarh administration in collaboration with the North Zone Culture Centre (NZCC) from October 24 to November 2.

A meeting in this regard was convened today under the chairmanship of Ram Niwas, Home Secretary-cum-Secretary Culture.

The event will showcase the handloom and handicrafts of the country, including the myriad forms of folk culture and traditional cuisines from different states.

The aim is to project this ten-day event as a major shopping-cum-tourism experience on the 
pattern of Dubai and Singapore shopping festival.

The fair will be organised at Kalagram for which lay out plans have been made by the architect department of Chandigarh administration.

There will be 131 national and state winning craft persons from different states to display their prize-winning items in the fair.

The theme for the fair will be Kashmir. Kashmiri food, various dance forms of Kashmir and traditional handloom and handicraft of Kashmir will be the main attraction.

There will be sizeable representation from all states, especially Northeastern states. “There will be cultural programme on a specially designed stage during the festival as well as evening performances by various cultural zones of the country. Also, there will be a special dance performance by Devyani, Bharatnatyam exponent from France, and a fashion show on folk and traditional theme,” said Ram Niwas.

It has been conceptualised to provide shopping opportunity to the residents as well as tourists during the festival. Several traders’ associations will be requested to organise a ten-day shopping festival in Sector 17 and other main markets of the city.

Sector 17 will be illuminated during the festival. There will be a special cultural programme at the Sector 17 Plaza to attract tourists.

All the hotels and restaurants will be associated during the event to organise special food festivals and theme based performances to give a festive mood to the city.



Customers feel cheated
Jyoti Rai

Tanvir Poonia, housewife Chandigarh, August 6
Customers in the city are made to shell out at an extra two per cent on goods they pick up on plastic money. Ironically, almost eight out of every ten people The Tribune team spoke with had no clue whatsoever about these illegal charges.

The Tribune yesterday reported how a section of shopkeepers in the city were fleecing customers on any payment made by their credit/debt cards, even though it is against the norms laid down by the banks.

Here is what the “aam janta” had to say when The Tribune team spoke to them about this ongoing illegal practice in the city:

“Our bank never informed us about anything in this regard. We have been paying these charges for forever now, assuming we are “supposed” to pay it. When you question the banks, they say they have nothing to do with the charges and shopkeepers on the other hand argue that the banks levy these charges. Customers get caught in this blame game without knowing the reality.”

— Tanvir Poonia, housewife

Alok, serviceman“I can’t believe that these charges are illegal. Just two days ago, I purchased a computer LCD screen worth Rs 7,000 and paid two per cent extra. How audaciously certain shopkeepers demand this two per cent extra charges? When we question them or try to argue, they make us look like fools who are unaware of these obvious charges.”

— Alok, serviceman

Rajesh, engineer“A customer alone can’t do much. No one wants to go through the pain of lodging complaints. When ten others at a shop are paying these charges, you do not stand a very strong chance to argue and successfully prove your point. The banks have to empower its customers. This information has to come to public notice, so that shopkeepers can’t fool the customers anymore.”

— Rajesh, engineer

Satinder Kaur, housewife“I thought these charges are mandatory. How do I know that both the customers and the shopkeepers have to pay one per cent each to the bank? I never knew these charges are extracted so that the shopkeepers can maintain healthy profits. They wail about thin margins on certain electronic goods, but someone asked them just because people can use “plastic money” at their outlets, do they not enjoy a bigger rush at their stores? What happens to those profits?”

— Satinder Kaur, housewife

Jasmine, student“These two per cent charges are extracted from the customers justifying them in every possible way. In case you deny to pay these charges, they will ask you to pay in cash or through cheque.”

— Jasmine, student


What customers don’t know:

Banks and the sales establishments enter into an agreement where the bank charges a service fee from the shopkeepers for the services of “Point of Sale” (PoS) terminals installed at these shops. The shopkeepers overcharge the customers by 1.5 to 2 per cent on every transaction so that they save on the service fee. Customers are not supposed to be paying any thing extra on any purchase.

What customers can do:

  • Do not undergo transaction at any shop demanding a two per cent extra charge on transaction through debt or credit card
  • Customers can take this up with the bank that issued them the card along with evidence of surcharge. Even after warnings, if the banks find the shopkeeper violating norms, strict action may be taken, including withdrawal of PoS terminal



Bank employees stage protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Hundreds of bank employees under the aegis of United Forum of Bank Unions participated in a rally to protest against the bank managements in Sector 17 this morning.

The employees are on a two-day strike in support of their demands for increase in wages, equal pension for all agreement on compassionate employment in the industry.

Union general secretary Vijay Magon said the employees and officers were agitated over the highly provocative, insulting and humiliating attitude of IBA’s going back on agreed decision.

“The IBA had offered 17.9 per cent increase in the wages but reduced it to 15 per cent and later reduced it to 13 per cent. Thus, we have gone on strike in support of our demands,” he said.



Swine Flu
Health dept reviews preparedness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
With the first swine flu death reported in the country, the health department, Chandigarh, today stepped up its measures to tackle such cases in the city.

A preparedness review meeting on swine flu was held today under the chairmanship of medical superintendent of GMSH-16, Chandigarh.

During the meeting, the strategy to implement the revised guidelines for testing persons for flu-like symptoms reporting at hospitals for H1NI influenza were discussed.

The health department has already constituted three isolation wards — one each at PGI-12, GMCH-32 and GMSH-16 — to admit patients with flu-like symptoms.

These wards are fully functional and equipped with trained medical and paramedical staff along with necessary items to treat suspected/confirmed cases of swine flu.

Sufficient stocks of antiviral drugs i.e. 2,000 capsules of Tamiflu and 100 bottles of syrup beside large number of N-95 triple layered masks and PPE are available with the department.

In addition, regional director, H/FW, Government of India, has got sufficient stock of Tamiflu and the department is geared up to fight swine flu.

The revised guidelines of the government were discussed with in-charge of isolation wards of hospitals.

Under the revised guidelines, in case patients opt for home isolation and treatment, they will be provided with detailed guidelines/safety measures to be adhered to by the household of the patient.

The patients will have to provide full contact details of the household.

The household and social contacts will be provided with preventive treatment.

However, these guidelines will be implemented strictly under the decision of the doctor for admission of the patients in the designated hospitals now.

So far, 43 suspected cases of swine flu have been reported in the city hospitals. Out of these, six have been confirmed positive by the NICD Laboratory, Government of India, New Delhi.

All six patients have been treated successfully in the isolation wards by trained doctors and have been discharged.

The department is also maintaining close liaison with the PGI, the GMCH and the GMSH authorities.

Samples of the suspected cases are being collected and sent on the same day to the NICD, Delhi, for examination.



Now, all emergency patients to benefit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The Chandigarh administration has decided to extend indoor patient reimbursement benefits to all patients who are kept under observation in emergency cases.

This benefit will be applicable even if they are discharged the same day. A meeting in this regard was held under the chairmanship of UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar today.

Director, Health Services, Dr MS Bains and Director, Medical Education and Research, Dr Raj Bahadur, said earlier in emergency cases patients were being treated as OPD (out-door patients) and given treatment but without any benefit of reimbursement if they were discharged the same day.

The Finance Secretary said the decision would give a major relief to employees at times of emergency and they would not have to worry about the expenses incurred in the hospital.



P’kula writer gets Tagore Literacy Award
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 6
Lakshmi Rupal, a Panchkula-based educationist and writer, has been conferred upon Tagore Literacy Award 2007. The award was presented by Dr APJ Abdul Kalam on July 31 in New Delhi for her contribution in the field of literacy, adult education, and women empowerment.

The Indian Adult Education Association instituted the award in 1987 to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore for individuals and institutions for their contribution in promotion and development of literacy among women.

Rupal being the president of Udaipur project of the Family Planning Association of India had made several efforts to create awareness among rural women regarding health issues, literacy and population control.

She has three books to her credit, including “Man ki maniyan”, “Kiraye ka pati” and “Mahanagar ki betiyan”.

Rupal, first editor of “Proudh Shiksha”, a Hindi monthly magazine, on adult education published by the Indian Adult Education Association, taught 300 adults working in the Steel Authority of India plant, Durgapur, before she retired as principal from the local school in 1990.



Denmark invites Indian industry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
India can’t be ignored in the present economic scenario, said Sooraj Dhawan, country representative for Copenhagen Capacity, during a seminar on “Business Opportunities in Denmark” organised by PHD Chamber here today.

A Danish delegation visited PHD Chamber to interact with senior members of the industry in order to promote and develop trade related bilateral ties between the two countries.

He said Denmark was looking forward to investments from India in the field of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, Information and Communication Technology, and design.

“The Copenhagen Capacity helps people find partnership and investment opportunities in Scandinavia. Thus, we are here in Chandigarh and Punjab to seek potential investors in Denmark,” he said.



Shivalikview to offer low-calorie food from today
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Health conscious residents of the city will now be able to enjoy nutritious but low-colorie food at affordable price at Hotel Shivalikview, with the CITCO unit launching its “Salad Bar” concept tomorrow.

Under the concept, a customer will be served vegetable soup, five vegetable salads and two non-vegetarian salads for Rs 150. This will be inclusive of all taxes.

The nutritious and tasty salad lunch will be oil and fat-free. For those still left hungry, the hotel will offer a “pasta dish” for an extra payment of Rs 50.

Pasta dish in regular menu costs Rs 100 and a conventional lunch at hotels around Rs 325.

Stating this here today, Anurag Walia, deputy general manager, Hotel Shivalikview, said according to their recent survey, around 2,500 to 3,000 persons were found to be taking their lunch out in Sector 17 every day.

“These included those belonging to the low strata as well as middle and upper class, having spending capacity ranging between Rs 50 and Rs 300. Around 30 to 35 per cent of these eaters spent Rs 150 to Rs 200 on lunch. With a view to attracting health conscious senior executives and people who prefer low-colorie food, we have introduced the Salad Bar concept,” said Walia, adding that people were becoming health conscious and won’t mind spending on quality, but light, stuff.



‘Amputation avoidable through vascular surgery’

Mohali, August 6
“There are about 20 million diabetics in India, the highest in the world. Around 3 million diabetics have foot infections and in the case of around 1.5 million of them, these infections are because of reduced blood supply due to blocked arteries, a condition that can prove to be fatal. However, in such cases, surgical amputation of the legs can still be avoided if vascular surgery is done in time,” stated Dr Ravul Jindal, senior consultant, vascular surgery, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, who was speaking at a programme held today to observe Annual Vascular Day.

Talking about the symptoms of vascular disease, Jindal said, “More commonly seen in legs, the normal symptoms of peripheral arterial disease (PAD) include pain, tiredness and fatigue in the leg, thighs and buttocks while moving. Such symptoms, termed as 'claudication', disappear with rest while other symptoms such as ulcers and wounds in toe and pain in foot while asleep are normally underestimated. Blocked arteries to the leg may result in amputation while a blocked artery in the neck may result in a stroke, if not detected early.”

Talking about how PAD can be prevented, Jindal said, “A healthy circulation of blood from the heart to various body parts and vice versa is the best way to avoid arterial or vascular diseases. — OC



Aug 8 closed day in ward No. 10
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The Chandigarh administration has ordered August 8 as closed day for all shops and commercial establishments falling in the area of ward No. 10 of the municipal corporation, Chandigarh, due to the August 8 byelection.

The administration has also declared that all factories situated in area of the ward will observe weekly holiday on August 8.

No worker will be required or allowed to work in any factory on that day.



Private, govt schools to ink pact
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Nine private schools will sign an MOU with the government schools as a part of the “Synergy award” initiative of the UT education department.

The function to be held at a hotel will witness a unique collaboration of the government and private schools with the latter adopting the former voluntarily to improve their results.

The initiative includes an exchange programme of the 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 the students for computer education programmes, improve communication skills, participation in morning assemblies and organising extracurricular activities.

The best performers will be awarded the synergy award.



B Pharma students up in arms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Students of B Pharma, Panjab University, staged a protest spearheaded by the students’ group, SOPU, in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office today.

They raised several issues ranging from direct admission to the masters to the lack of placement opportunities.

Highlighting the major problems, a written representation was also submitted today.

Brinder Dhillon, president SOPU, said, “While the university already has an approval for more number of seats in M Pharma, it is not willing to increase them, while all attention is being paid to the opening of new courses.

Similarly, the students face a major problem when it comes to the placements because of the lack of initiative by the authorities concerned for the placement, though the university takes the placement fee. In addition to this, what increases the students woes is the creation of attendance related problems by the authorities like refusal to grant sports and cultural activities attendance.”



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