C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Habitable use of basements
Former chief architects oppose admn move
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The Chandigarh administration proposes, experts dispose. This seems to best describe the decision of the administration to allow “conditional” habitable use of basements for commercial use in the city.

Three former chief architects, Renu Saigal, SS Sandhu and Ashwani Sabharwal are up in arms against the administration’s decision, which is apparently against the provisions of the National Building Code(NBC).

In a representation to the UT administrator, the former chief architects contended that in metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Delhi, the habitable use of basements had not been allowed in similar situations. “Even in areas of high commercial value, no restaurants and shops are allowed in basement in various markets. All basements are used for parking and services as this reduced congestion of vehicles on surface parking,” they said.

“In Chandigarh, all markets have similar architectural control with a common public passage in front of every shop which, if altered, will ruin the concept of planned shopping and obstruct the free flow of pedestrians,” the representation said.

Last year, bowing to sustained campaign by traders’ bodies, including the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal, the administration had issued a notification allowing the habitable use of the basements subject to certain conditions. These included the fulfilment of fire safety norms and provision for additional staircases for emergency. Moreover, any inflammable material could not be stored in the basement. However, these conditions are being violated with impunity in the city in the backdrop of the administration looking the other way.

On why the habitable use of basements is not allowed under the NBC, they claimed that fire safety, light and ventilation norms could not be achieved. Moreover, services like public disposal and stormwater was not possible.

Such a use of basements would increase the commercial area, resulting in an increase in the number of users and vehicles. This would have an adverse affect on the limited parking space in major commercial centres in the city. Even the traffic police had opposed the increase in the commercial areas as it would be difficult to manage traffic.

Since Chandigarh is a trendsetter in the North, the “arbitrary” decision would have an adverse impact on all major cities, the representation said, demanding a review of the decision.



Facilities poor, but no let-up in taxes
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 30
Already hit by recession and price rise, a substantial hike in the charges to register general documents by the Punjab government has come as a bolt from the blue for residents.

While the state exchequer might be raking in moolah from the registration of documents, taxpayers are crying foul over the hike, which has been started from August 25. “The state government has been taxing us with some fee or the other even as there is no power and roads are in a pathetic state,” Inderjit Singh Sidhu, a Mohali resident, said.

In a move affecting the common man, the government has fixed the minimum denomination of stamp paper at Rs 25 to register an affidavit against the earlier minimum denomination of Rs 15, a hike of 67 per cent.

An affidavit is the basic document that any resident requires for various purposes like seeking domicile certificate or a ration card. The government should not tax the common man to such an extent to fill its coffers, said Manjeet Sethi, a former Mohali councillor.

“If the money charged from us can’t be spent on development, it is arbitrary on the part of the state government to tax us,” said Sanjeevan Singh, a social worker.

Not only has the registration of an affidavit become dearer, the government has increased the minimum denomination of stamp papers from Rs 300 to Rs 2,000 to register any general power of attorney. For special power of attorney, the minimum denomination of stamp paper has been increased from Rs 100 to Rs 500.

Besides property-related document, the hike of around 500 per cent to register the GPAs has hit residents as it is required for a lot of things, Amit Marwaha, a property consultant, said.

The fee to register a general power of attorney and a special power of attorney has also been increased by 150 per cent. Also, the fee to register a will has been increased from Rs 370 to Rs 1,370, an increase of around 400 per cent.

“Tax payers money goes for buying luxury cars and arranging foreign trips for MLAs and the top brass. They are more worried about raising salaries and perks of MLAs even if employees have to go without salary for months,” Inderjit Singh Sidhu, another resident, said.

Fee for the registration of sale deeds, wills and power of attorney has also been hiked. The maximum fee for the registration of sale deeds has been hiked from Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000. Earlier, the fee for property worth Rs 10 lakh was charged at 1 per cent of the price and Rs 10,000 was the maximum slab for the registration of sale deeds.

Now, those buying property up to Rs 30 lakh will have to pay at the rate of 1 per cent and above.



Land-grab Case
Baba’s follower arrested
Tribune News Service

Pardeep Roy, follower of Baba Pritpal Singh, being produced at a court in Chandigarh
Pardeep Roy, follower of Baba Pritpal Singh, being produced at a court in Chandigarh on Sunday. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, August 30
The police has arrested Pardeep Roy, follower of Baba Pritpal Singh who has been booked in a land-grabbing case, for allegedly conspiring with him to dupe an NRI woman.

The police said he had knowledge of the crime and the whereabouts of the baba. Police sources said Roy, a section official in the railway at Ambala division, was called from Ambala and was arrested yesterday following his role in concealing information about the baba’s whereabouts.

The police found out that he had gone to Hazoor Sahib to meet the baba on July 28. He had left his wife with him and came back on August 2. The Punjab and Haryana high Court, on August 5, had directed the police to arrest the baba within a week.

A police team was sent to Hazoor Sahib, but missed the baba, who fled from there. The police today produced Roy before a local court, which remanded him in judicial custody.

The police said Roy was a close associate of the baba and was involved in the criminal conspiracy to grab the property of the NRI woman. It was alleged that the baba, along with others, had sold the land for over Rs 1.20 crore to a private company on forged general power of attorney.



Piped gas for city in two years
The gas distribution network in Chandigarh region would also cover Mohali, Panchkula, Baddi-Nalagarh and Parwanoo

Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Come 2011, piped gas would be available to industrial, commercial and household users in Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula, Baddi, Barotiwala, Nalagarh and Parwanoo. The Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory (PNGRB) is all set to allot the project next month.

Officials at the PNGRB said gas for Chandigarh distribution network would be sourced from Gail’s Dadri-Nangal pipeline and the project was likely to cost around Rs 500 crore and would be complete in two years. The bids for the project were invited in June and Gujarat State Petronet Limited, Gail Gas, consortium of Adani Energy and Indian Oil Corporation and HPCL had submitted the bids for the project.

“The board is in the process of examining technical bids and the project would be allotted soon. The city’s gas distribution (CGD) network in Chandigarh region would cover Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula and Baddi-Nalagarh and Parwanoo,” board member BS Negi said, adding that besides the technical and financial conditions, the board was also looking for a natural gas sourcing plan and experience in either laying pipelines or piping gas before awarding these projects.

The bids were invited by the PNGRB in the second round of CGD allocation. The CGD networks are already running in various cities, including Delhi, Mumbai, Indore, Pune and Ahmedabad.

Under the CGD policy, the bid winners would enjoy 25 years of exclusivity on infrastructure and gas marketing for three to five years. After five years, the board would again invite bids for the marketing of gas.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has also sought to bring Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar under the CDG network to make available clean fuel.

The Himachal government has tied up with GAIL to assess the demand potential for gas in the industrial, domestic and transport sectors in the state.



Cycling champion knocked down by car
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
In a classic case of adding insult to injury, after Jashandeep Singh, a cycling champion, was knocked down by a car following an altercation over a trivial issue this morning, the cops at three police stations debated over jurisdiction for several hours instead of proceeding against the driver.

The car driver, along with his accomplices, sped away after damaging the cycle worth about Rs 50,000 and leaving Jashandeep and his friends in a state of horror.

The incident occurred around 6.15 am at the Piccadilly rotary when state champion Jashandeep of Mohali and his friends Iqbal Singh, Simrandeep Singh and Balpreet Singh were on their way to Parwanoo for practise. They were waiting for their other friends when a Tata Indica (CH 02 T 1367) stopped beside them and one of its occupants sat on a bicycle. They objected to it and an altercation ensued.

The cyclists rushed towards the cycle track in Sector 21, but the accused chased them and rammed the car into Jashan’s bicycle. Jashan lost his balance and fell on the road and was injured. His bicycle was crushed under the tyres of the car. The accused threatened them and kept driving around the cyclists, who called their parents and also the police.

Their next ordeal began when a police Gypsy arrived at the scene and took Jashandeep to hospital. Three police teams from Sector 17, 19 and 36 police stations also arrived there and began debating under which police station’s jurisdiction the incident took place.

Balpreet’s father Gurdarshan Singh said SI Hans Raj (Sector 19 police station) and SI Harbhajan Singh (Sector 17 police station)were discussing the issue when an SI from the Sector 36 police station also reached there, but left soon after, saying that the area did not fall under his police station.

At 8.17 am, ASI Jagdish Kumar from the Sector 36 police station reached there and after a discussion for about 15 minutes, agreed to take the case. He was reportedly in a haste to sign off from duty, but after a lot of persuasion, returned around 8.40 am to take some pictures of the damaged cycle while sitting in his vehicle.

The SHO of the Sector 36 police station said a case had been registered. He said they could not trace the vehicle as they did not have the record of taxis registered with the Registration and Licensing Authority.



Admn again moots deemed varsity status
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The UT administration’s bid to once again get a deemed university status for the GMCH-32 has spread fears among the faculty as well as students that the move, if successful, would result in the privatisation of the institute.

The move, unprecedented in the country, has caused concern among the students who feel that this would result in increase in the cost of medical education at the institute. And these fears aren’t unfounded if one goes by the way the fee structure has shot up at Punjab Engineering College after it got the deemed university status in 2005. The increase in fee, insiders say, has been five to seven times in the post-deemed university status era.

As per information, prior to 2005, the semester fee was around Rs 4,500. It has since increased to about Rs 35,000, going up steadily to Rs 18,000 in 2006, to Rs 25,500 in 2007 and Rs 30,000 last year.

PEC director Manoj Dutta said though the exact fee structure was not available with him, it was comparable to the IITs and other technical institutes.

Those opposing the proposed move for the GMCH are also questioning the administration’s wisdom at mooting the proposal at a time when “misdeeds” of certain Chennai-based medical colleges have exposed the flaws in the system. These colleges were under the spotlight for charging high capitation fees and offering degrees through franchising mode which is illegal.

HRD minister Kapil Sibal had directed the UGC to put on hold all proposals from institutes seeking deemed university status.

Dubbing the administration’s move an effort to privatise the institute, the faculty welfare body, an association of doctors of the hospital, said if the institute was run by a private society, the purpose for which it had been started would be defeated as the society would seek to generate its own fund to become self sufficient.

The annual budget allocation for the GMCH was around Rs 77 crore per annum while the annual earnings of the institute was only about Rs 5 crore. Once the institute was converted to a private one, the UT administration would not provide the grant-in-aid. “How would they bear the expenses?” the faculty asked, expressing surprise that the administration was pushing the case that had been rejected in 2000 and 2006, for an institution that has only 70 students (50 MBBS and 20 postgraduate students). Besides, it had no college under it.

The institute director, Raj Bahadur, said once the status was granted, the decision-making process would become fast, increasing the institute’s efficiency.


Mayor demands hike in honorarium
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
After UT employees, the city Mayor, her subordinates and councillors of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation also look forward to have a bonanza from UT Administrator Gen (retd) SF Rodrigues.

In a communication to the UT Administrator, Mayor Kamlesh while giving reference of the implementation of the Fifth Pay Commission in Punjab has requested to hike the honorarium of the Mayor, senior Deputy Mayor, Deputy Mayor and the councillors, whereas the pay commission is, apparently, applicable only for the employees of the state, not for the elected body members. Nevertheless, the Mayor’s letter says, “The honorarium of the Mayor, senior Deputy Mayor, Deputy Mayor and councillors has not been increased for the last five years.”

Accounts officials of the MC confirmed that the honorarium of the MC governing body had nothing to do with the pay commission recommendations. “Their honorariums are first tabled at the House meeting and then are sent to the administration for seeking final nod,” said an official.

The councillors have raised the issue of hike in their honorarium at the MC’s general House meeting held on July 31 also. “Due to our social status, people of our areas invite us on their family functions and sometimes the “shaguns” upset their monthly budget,” said a former Mayor, preferring anonymity.

Reacting sharply to it, Harjinder Kaur, former Mayor said, “I opine that ours is a self-sacrificing service. I do not think there should be any demand of raising the remunerations. Rather, efforts should be made to strengthen the qualitative decision making set up.”

Ironically, the honorarium, at present, given to the MC governing body is almost double of what their counterparts are being granted in Haryana and almost equal to what the present Punjab Municipal Corporation body is paid.

In Chandigarh, the monthly honorarium, the Mayor gets is Rs 10,000, Rs 6,000 for refreshment, unlimited mobile charges and Rs 2,000 for landline, besides free accommodation whereas in Haryana the Mayor of the corporation gets Rs 5,000 per month only.

In the Amritsar Municipal Corporation, it is Rs 10,000 each month in addition to Rs 2,000 as rent and Rs 200 for every meeting. In the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, it is Rs 10,000 every month.

While in Amritsar, the monthly honorarium of the senior Deputy Mayor comes to Rs 6,000 apart from Rs 1,000 as telephone charges and Rs 200 per meeting and in Jalandhar, it is Rs 6,200, in Haryana, it is Rs 3,000, whereas the Chandigarh senior Deputy Mayor is given Rs 6,500.

The Deputy Mayor in Chandigarh gets Rs 6,000, his counterparts in Amritsar, Jalandhar and in Haryana get Rs 6,000, Rs 5,700 and Rs 2,000, respectively.

The comparison of the councillors is a bit narrow if compared with Punjab, but mammoth in comparison to Haryana. The Chandigarh councillors get Rs 5,000 each per month, the Amritsar councillors get Rs 5,500 each, while the Haryana councillors get Rs 1,500 each per month.



Draft Rules
Favouritism, not aptitude, matters in CITCO
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
It’s favouritism, not aptitude, that rules the roost in the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO) if the recent Draft CITCO Employees Service Regulations are to go by.

In order to accommodate a scantily qualified union leader, the rules are allegedly being circumvented, while a section of competent employees is being ignored.

Questions are also being raised on the meeting of the department promotion committee (DPC), scheduled haphazardly on September 1, to finalise the “select list” for grade I posts, whereas the management has not even waited for the 30-day period for raising objections against this promotional procedure.

The staff resented that the official communiqué on filing of objections had been sent to them on August 28 and they hardly had time to review the service regulations, let alone file any objections.

“This has been done by the management just to reserve room for their favourites,” alleged a section of CITCO employees, while demanding stay on holding the DPC meeting.

They rued that preferential treatment was being extended to a few, which included a union leader who, according to them, hardly qualified the promotion criteria.

The union leader is merely a matriculate and has already been in the grade of senior assistant. However, efforts are now being made to further promote him to executive cadre as manager whereas a whole lot of assistant managers, who are adequately qualified and have two decades of experience with them, have been ignored.

The two assistant managers — Shyam Lal Kashyap and Varinder Sabharwal — in spite of being postgraduates and their holding the charge as assistant managers for the past over two decades — see no opening for promotion.

Ironically, while going by the draft service rules, as stipulated by the management, it has been noticed that due to obsolete regulations of the corporation, clerks who are just graduates will have promotion channel up to the level of manager, whereas bill clerks who are commerce graduates have a little promotion avenues.

“They are being shifted to the feeding cadre of food and beverages cost control (F&B) slot, which is entirely a separate line and for which they have least experience,” said an official, while calling it directionless rules.

The terminology of “sensitive posts” too is being twisted. The posts of bill clerk and canteen supervisor, who have powers to sign minute bills, have been considered sensitive ones whereas major posts related to accounts like tender committee and accountants, who are authorised to transact payment in lakhs, have been termed as “insensitive posts”.

Similarly, the post of general manager of a hotel has been considered a “professional post” whereas deputy general manager comes in “non-technical post” bracket.

Also, at least 20 senior accountants will now govern the accounts department consisting of 24 clerks. The support services, too, have outclassed active services, which are directly related to hotel industry.

There will now be two XENs, five SDOs, 12 JEs and two draftsmen for “no work jobs”.



2 more test positive for swine flu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Two more persons, including a 26-year-old female doctor from Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, tested positive for swine flu today, taking the overall tally to 17.

“A doctor belonging to Sector 15, Panchkula, who has tested positive, has been put on Tamiflu course. The doctor is doing fine,” said UT nodal officer for swine flu HC Gera.

He said: “We have no clue as to how and where she contracted the virus, as she has no history of recent travel outside of the city.”

He added that the hospital staff were attempting to find out the reasons behind the doctor contracting the virus.

“She was not treating anyone for swine flu. Hence, we are trying to ascertain the source of the virus,” said Gera.

Patients and staff with whom the doctor has interacted in the past few days are also likely to be screened as a precautionary measure, added Gera.

Also, an 18-year-old girl, a resident of Rewari and living in PG in Sector 32, was found positive for the infection at GMCH-32 in spite of having no travel history that could lead to her contacting the flu. Doctors are trying to ascertain how she could have been affected. Her roommate has also been quarantined along with her.

UT health officials have informed their counterparts in Panchkula and Rewari and asked them to quarantine the family members of both patients.

Meanwhile, one more suspected case surfaced in the city today, taking the total number of suspected cases in the city to 171.

A three-year-old girl, resident of Sector 52, reported with swine flu-like symptoms at GMCH-32.



Update on medical diagnosis begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Two-day “Update on PET-CT: Applications in current medical diagnosis” was inaugurated by PGI Director Prof KK Talwar and Dean of the institute Vinay Sakhuja here yesterday.

The PET-CT facility at the institute has been operational in the Department of Nuclear Medicine since March, 2009, but it was formally inaugurated by Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad on August 27. This is the only such government facility in the northern part of the country.

Prof BR Mittal, head of the department, welcomed the delegates and gave outline of the status of PET-CT in India. Prof Talwar highlighted the achievements of the department and the potential benefits of the centre for the people of North India, which did not have this facility till now.

Dr Anish Bhattacharya, associate professor in the Department of Nuclear Medicine, and organising secretary of the update, said the programme was being attended by over 250 delegates from Chandigarh, Ludhiana, New Delhi, Lucknow, Shimla, Jaipur and Haldwani.

The speakers detailed the applications of PET-CT fusion imaging in lymphoma, lung cancer, breast cancer, neuro-endocrine tumors and cancers affecting the gastrointestinal tract. Other speakers highlighted the role of special procedures like PET-guided biopsy and radiotherapy treatment planning.

Prof Khandelwal, head of the Radio Diagnosis Department, PGI, spoke on the advantages of image fusion in medical diagnosis. Dr Kapoor, radiation oncologist at the PGI, highlighted the role of PET-CT imaging in planning radiation treatment for cancer. The interactive sessions were especially useful for clinicians, practising oncologists and medical students, as specific applications of PET-CT imaging were dealt with in detail by visiting experts.



Anti-drug campaign ends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The anti-drug campaign of the education department concluded yesterday after six weeks of interactive sessions with students of nearly 90 government schools of Chandigarh.

During the campaign, faculty members from the State Institute of Education along with officials from the education department interacted with the students and made them aware of their fundamental rights, duties, hygiene, environmental issues, respect towards women, national monuments and ill effects of drugs and substance abuse.

The sessions concluded with SIE director, Dr SS Dahiya, administering the pledge at Government High School, Karsan, and DEO Chanchal Singh administering the pledge at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 44, Chandigarh. Dr Dahiya questioned the students and teachers on drug abuse and suggested effective interventions.

Chanchal Singh highlighted the effects of passive smoking and suggested strategies to the students to help make their city beautiful really beautiful by making it smoke free.



City Scope
Stinking politics
Raveen Thukral

Overkill is defined as "an excess of something (as a quantity or an action) beyond what is required or suitable for a particular purpose". And when an issue gets 'overkilled' it becomes boring and loses purpose.

Two issues, which have perhaps been 'overkilled' in the city in the past several months are the Chand-Fiza 'affair' and the never-ending controversy, genuine or created, over the Municipal Corporation's garbage plant at Dadu Majra. Fortunately, things have been quiet on the Chand-Fiza front for sometime but with elections in Haryana round the corner, this silence could well be the lull before the storm.

TV channels, with their hunger for 24 hours of news, will once again start showing the 'sound bites' and 'frames' of the so-called 'famed' couple if Chand, or is he Chander Mohan now (frankly who cares), decides to contest the polls from Panchkula. I'm even dreading the thought of once again undergoing the pain of hearing their 'kahani unki zubani'.

I only wish that better sense prevails on Chand (or whatever) to quit politics and spare the people of his so-called leadership. I'm sure that no one in his right senses would want a fickle-minded and an opportunist person like him to lead them.

Personally, I have no sympathies for Fiza for she chose to tread this path herself but one should be thankful to her for exposing the true colours of the former Deputy Chief Minister of Haryana. One really wonders how this man reached where he was and what damage he could have done had he continued.

So, Fizaji many thanks to you. And Chandji please spare us.

Now the other issue. I know you all must have read about the garbage disposal plant controversy time and again and by now possibly be bored of it too. But it's painful to see how politics, if not petty what else, always gets the better of real issues.

I hold no brief for either the promoters of the plant or the councillors who are opposing or supporting the project but the way things are going they are heading nowhere and are unnecessarily raising a stink. As far as I have gathered, the project has become a victim of politics and is being condemned by a few councillors, mainly Mayor, Kamlesh, and Chairman of Sanitation Committee, Chander Mukhi Sharma, even before it has overcome the teething troubles.

It's a matter of record that the MC had been trying to set up a MSW Processing Plant since 1996 but succeeded only in 2004. The project finally started in 2005 with Jai Prakash Associates after necessary approvals from all the concerned authorities i.e. High Powered Committee of the Corporation (headed by Mayor), Chandigarh Administration and the General House of the Corporation were granted. The project, which was executed on Public Private Partnership mode wherein the Project Developer has implemented the plant at his own cost on the land provided by Chandigarh Administration on 30 years lease, became functional last year.

Both Kamlesh and Chander Mukhi are well within their rights to raise valid objections and find faults in the project but there is a history to their opposition. Both of them were incidentally holding the same offices, i.e the Mayor and Chairman respectively, and as per records, were backing another company, Djai Power, for the project.

However, that company's proposal was rejected by the house in 2004 as it was found to be neither technically nor financially viable. It is also a matter of record that the Mayor had then allowed to bring the agenda pertaining to the company's proposal to the house without insisting upon prior submission of a detailed project report.

Logically, the issue should have been settled then but their opposition continues. A CVC's clean chit, a thumbs up from the Ministry of Non-conventional Energy Sources (MNES), Govt. of India, which dubbed the project as a "win-win situation" for MC, and a report from Deputy Commissioner that the plant was functioning and processing the solid waste, have failed to satisfy them.

Recently they again raked the issue of the plant being "non-functional" and claimed that as a result foul stench was emanating from it. Under pressure, the administration asked the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee to look into the problem of the stench and the reasons thereof.

After studying the working of the plant for five days, the committee has made six recommendations, five of which indicate that actually the MC is at fault as the city's waste was not being collected, transported and disposed of in accordance with the rules. But even after this the controversy refuses to die down.

Last week, a special meeting of the house, convened at Chander Mukhi's behest, ended in a fiasco as he decided not to show up on the pretext that the deliberations should take place only after the executive takes a decision on the show-cause notice already issued to the Project Developer. This led to protests from other councillors who even went to the extent of accusing Chander Mukhi of having a "personal agenda" on the issue.

As things stand now Scientists of Central Pollution Control Board are also looking into the plant to find a permanent solution to the problem of foul smell during rainy season and they are likely to submit their report soon.

It's high time that the councillors should stop playing more politics on this issue and give a chance to the plant to work and move on. Rather than politicizing issues, they should divert their energies to completing other projects that would benefit the people and make the city really beautiful.

Write to [email protected]



City Scope Letters
Increase bed strength in existing hospitals

This is in connection with Raveen Thukral’s ‘Take the load off’ (August 24). Setting up another institute like the PGI will not help, but Chandigarh can be an ideal destination for medicity and medical tourism as it has some advantages like location, connectivity, good infrastructure and a large pool of experienced doctors. Its biggest constraint is limited landmass.

The way to go about the project is providing quality healthcare and not merely increasing the bed strength. The bed strength (approximately 700 beds) and faculty can be increased in existing hospitals. Worldwide trend in satellite cities is to develop super-speciality centres.

Nursing homes in the city are providing quality services at reasonable cost and are attracting patients from abroad, too. This number can be doubled without utilising extra land. It would provide additional bed strength of 500. Sites earmarked for nursing homes should be reserved for super-speciality fields. They should be encouraged to upgrade and build modern hospitals.

General and corporate hospitals may develop in neighbouring states, but advanced centres need specific infrastructure, faculty and progressive policies that can be provided by the Chandigarh administration in its Vision Plan. These measures will provide additional 1,000 beds and world-class super-speciality centres at a fraction of the cost. The 45 acres earmarked for the project can be reserved for expansion in the master plan for medicity.

Dr Ramneek Singh Bedi, Chandigarh

Spending on healthcare dismal

The study of the number of patients visiting city hospitals is quite an eye opener. There is more burden due to patients from neighbouring states, but statistics also indicate that the load is also due to patients coming from far-off places like Bihar, Jharkhand and J&K.

In a WHO study in 2007-08, India ranks a poor 171 out of the 175 countries in the world as far as public health spending is concerned. It spends 5.2 per cent of the GDP on healthcare. While 4.3 per cent is spent by the private sector, the government spends only 0.9 per cent on health. Unless the Central and state governments make public health a priority and allocate a decent amount of money for the purpose, building a medicity will not really achieve the objective.

Navita Singh, Chandigarh

Check patient inflow

State governments lack will to improve health services as a result most hospitals are not optimally used. Even some government hospitals and institutes like Fortis are beyond the reach of the poor. Though overburdened, the three hospitals in Chandigarh are doing their best. Medi-city should have been a Central project and should have been set up at Ropar so that the flow of patients from Punjab would be stopped. The PGI should start small hospitals like the one in Sector 22 and only referral cases should go to the PGI. New services are being added to existing hospitals in Chandigarh, but this is resulting in concentration at one place. Special services should be opened in Haryana, Punjab and HP. Or, nearby hospitals should be under the PGI’s control.

If at all these facilities are made available then burden on Chandigarh hospitals will improve. Most doctors do not serve at hospitals, rather after two years of service they open their own hospital. No doctor from government hospitals should be allowed to do private practice for at least ten years of his/her career.


No need for medicity

Healthcare is the duty of the state. Private institutions get land at concessional rates, besides tax rebate, as would be the case of the medicity. To India’s 5.2 per cent, the US spends 16 per cent of its GDP on health. The OECD countries spend over 11 per cent. Over 1,000 children die every day in India due to diseases that can be prevented and 900 persons die every day due to TB.

In Chandigarh, there are big hospitals, besides a super-speciality hospital at Sector 16, but these are not enough to meet the rising pressure of patients. Primary health centres and dispensaries should have sufficient stock of medicines for all kind of diseases. There is no need for medicity. There is greater need to set up a government medical college and hospital in southern sectors, where more than one fourth population of the city lives. Dispensaries need to be upgraded and frequent mobile healthcare for slum dwellers and colonies should be initiated.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Upgrade healthcare

Max Foundation, Reliance, Fortis, Apollo and Narayan Vidhyala have expressed their interest in medicity and more than 20 applications have been received from hospital groups across the country. Medicity would cater not only to the people of Chandigarh, but also the entire region. But the project has raised a controversy. The union home ministry has found several discrepancies in this mega project. There is dire need for health infrastructure and upgradation.

City government hospitals are overburdened and experienced doctors are quitting their jobs for better opportunities in the private sector. The WHO recommends a minimum ratio of 30 beds for 10,000 persons, but it is impossible in a country like India.

ML Garg, Chandigarh

Unburden environment

This is in connection with Raveen Thukral’s ‘Take the load off’ (August 24) is the right approach, which is a practical, logical and workable solution to ward off the overload of illogical and unwarranted development projects, which are the brain child of the UT Administrator. I really wonder whether there is a need to have these mega projects in our city. Will Mega City, IT City, Film City and Amusement Park not disturb the ecology of the city by uprooting trees, green belts and agricultural land? Will it not affect the power and water supply? Why required steps are not being taken to upgrade the existing facilities in schools and hospitals? Why the Administrator not focusing on other issues? Why is he turning a blind eye to our plight and the poor medical facilities in Panchkula and Mohali?

One should not always stop at the dead end. Law of the nature should be observed and efforts should be put in to keep the environment healthy and unburdened.

Capt Amar Jeet Kumar, SAS Nagar

Adequate health services

The reason for this sorry state of affairs is woefully inadequate health services in the neighboring states. It is really shocking that otherwise prosperous states of Punjab and Haryana are way behind in providing proper health facilities to their citizens. Punjab has only 10 hospital beds and Haryana only five per 10,000 people, which is against the WHO recommendations of a minimum 30 beds per 10,000 people. It is really shameful that instead of recruiting adequate faculty and improving the infrastructure, the Punjab Health Department is busy transferring and reversing doctors and specialists from one hospital to another following the MCI inspections.

This reminds one of the rampant unethical practices which the private medical institutions in the South often indulge in. Raveen Thukral has rightly suggested that by strengthening the health care facilities in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, problems related to medical services in the city can be mitigated.

Lajpat Rai Garg, Panchkula

Patient-friendly treatment

Chandigarh was planned for a population of five lakh. During the last three decades, the city has witnessed vast demographic changes. Infrastructure remains overburdened in every sphere. Hospitals in the city are easily accessible and availability of better medical services attracts patients from the adjoining states. Gen (retd) Rodrigues while conceiving the Medicity Project for the city may have the same vision. Perhaps, he would have been right if he had conceptualised the project in Punjab than in Chandigarh.

Unfortunately, the medical profession has been commercialised. Treatment at private hospitals is out of the reach of the common man.

Raveen Thukral’s sane advice for making the services ‘efficient and patient friendly’ is pragmatic and relevant.

Satish Chandra Sharma, Chandigarh

Medicity will benefit

The Medicity project may surely be a centre of excellence in primary, secondary and tertiary health care. It may be proved beneficial for residents of Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.

Any ambitious project has its own set of challenges. It is very easy to run initiatives and efforts down and hard to support and help consolidate work so that such projects do not get stalled.

City residents should try to look inwards and see if they can make efforts to wake up the authorities in order to make existing services and infrastructure better. One should learn from the past experiences and try to do positive things.

Kanwal Paul, Chandigarh

Surprise visits at hospitals must

Government hospitals are facing problems of staff shortage and the authorities are not bothered to fill the vacancies. Doctors are wandering on roads in search of jobs. Medical Council of India (MCI) should pay surprise visits to colleges and supervise the faculty and other facilities. I have come to know that private medical colleges have engaged many private practicing doctors, who visit colleges following the MCI’s inspection. Hospitals are making fool of the authorities.The Centre is running the CGHS system of medical facilities for employees and state government may also explore such type of possibilities.

OP Garg, Patiala

More medical institutes needed

The article captioned, "Take the load off" by Raveen Thukral (August 24) was apt and timely. One cannot deny the fact that the condition of the hospitals in the city is deteriorating. They are overburdened with patients from the neighboring states, where medical facilities are way below the required mark. Long queues in front of the OPDs, never ending waiting lists for surgeries, spiraling queues at the laboratories and shortages of beds in wards, both general and private, have become a routine affair.

Raveen Thukral has rightly blamed the poor health infrastructure in the neighbouring states for the crippling conditions of the city hospitals. It is really surprising to know that the PGI provided treatment to over 4.5 lakh patients from various parts of the country in 2008.

It is right that the government of the neighboring states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh should take immediate steps to improve the deteriorating health infrastructure in their respective states.

R K Kapoor, Chandigarh

Improve medicare

While enumerating the inadequacy of beds and disproportionately alarming number of indoor as well as outdoor patients in the PGI, Chandigarh, it is need of the hour to raise institutes of excellence like the PGI in the tricity to ease the burden. The concept of Medicity, which is the brain child of the Administrator of Chandigarh is a progressive and innovative idea, Chandigarh and its nearby areas can become a world level healthcare destination.

Further, in my opinion, it is equally important to improve medical conditions in Punjab and Haryana. The government should make earnest efforts to ameliorate the poor condition in their respective hospitals. The Medical Council of India or Central Health Ministry should intervene to check on the availability of doctors and provision of facilities in various hospitals. An account of their duties should be kept.

Gurmit Singh Saini, Mohali

Consult outsider, not expert

Ever since the inception of CityScope, Raveen Thukral has brought to public notice many and varied problems which warrant the attention of the powers-that-be for urgent curative action, but are swept under the carpet with studied neglect. At any rate, the case that he forcefully makes out for each problem is done on facts through proper analysis. I find “Take the load off” not only well argued and substantiated with facts and figures but also refreshing in the suggestion that “A Medicity or PGI like institutions on the outskirts of Mohali and Panchkula thus could be the answer for taking the load off from the city hospitals and making them efficient and patient friendly.” I fully support his view on the basis of my own doctorate on Chandigarh [1991] that a sensible utilisation of the enormous area, which falls under the

Periphery Control Act 1952, would be not only to build such institutions there to make the existing ones more efficient and user-friendly but also to take the traffic and other load off the “Mother City”. Setting up a Polyclinic in each sector of Chandigarh would also reduce the healthcare load considerably. Raveen Thukral’s proposal corroborates my pet theory that if you want fresh ideas in any specialised discipline ask an “outsider”, as the “expert’s” mind is too incurably conditioned to think up off-beat ideas.

Dr SS Bhatti, Chandigarh

Readers are invited to write to us. Send your mail, in not more than 200 words, at [email protected] or, write in, at: Letters, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh – 160 030



Rehab Scheme for Slum Dwellers
Sector 50 residents at receiving end
GS Paul
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The administration’s move to rehabilitate slum dwellers has become a nightmare for residents of over nine group housing societies in Sector 50 as they have started taking kundi connections from the sector’s transformer.

Even streetlights have been damaged by inhabitants of Colony No 5, apparently since they defecate in the open and sleep on roads at night. The approach road of the sector is also being used to park rickshaws, autos, and rehris.

Even as UT officials were pressed into service to rehabilitate slum dwellers, they hardly have time to listen to the complaints of power thefts and non-functioning streetlights. They would be shifted to prefabricated structures before they are accommodated under the much-advertised slum rehabilitation project.

Against the administration’s claim of 6,800 biometric surveyed occupants, 18,000 persons are unaccounted for. UT chief engineer Surinder Pall said the administration was chalking out a plan to deal with this menace.

“Within a month or two, they would be shifted from here. As an immediate measure, we would take stock of kundi connections and rectify the streetlights,” he said.

Municipal corporation XEN Kamal Joshi said: “It is a grave issue. Just two days ago, our team had repaired the streetlights, but these colony dwellers broke the street lamps today. Even the main streetlight poles had been damaged at some points. Even the police is helpless,” he said.

Residents said incidents of snatching, theft and eve-teasing were on the rise in the area.



Janata Rehri Market
Public toilet in disuse
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Lakhs of rupees spent by the municipal corporation on the construction of a public toilet in Janata Rehri Market, Sector 8-B, seem to have gone down the drain.

With cleanliness of the toilet not on the agenda of the civic body, it is virtually lying in disuse.

Instead, customers and visitors to the market prefer to use the open space adjoining the toilet, spreading insanitary conditions in the vicinity.

“Since there is no water supply to the toilet, the nearby area, which is used by visitors to ease themselves stinks,” Dr Jasdeepak Singh, general secretary of the doctors’ cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and a resident of the sector, alleged.

Urging the corporation to take care of the neglected toilet, the shopkeepers alleged that the spread of insanitary conditions in the area posed a serious health hazard during monsoon.



Book on Jat Sikh women released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Amarinder Sandhu’s book “Jat Sikh Women-Social Transformation: Changing Status and Lifestyle” was released at Chandigarh Press Club, here yesterday.

The book was released by Inderjit Kaur Sandhu, former Vice- Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala (1975-1977), and chairperson, Staff Selection Commission (1980-1988).

The book is an important documentation of the changing face of rural Punjab. Post-green revolution has affected all sections of society and modernisation has led to significant variations, resulting in a change of values, patterns of behaviour, social morals and hence lifestyles. Sandhu explores the prevalent social customs, values and morals in an easy, readable style.

The book, published by Unistar Books, is an exhaustive study of the change in the Punjabi rural life, particularly of Jat Sikh women.

It looks at the historical processes of patriarchy, including practice of “purdah”, female infanticide and preference for a male child in the agrarian, feudal society.

It probes marriage practice — the crucial link between dowry and inheritance — women and their role in politics, the role of education and finally the change of attitudes, if any.



Four educationists honoured

Chandigarh, August 30
The Chandigarh Management Association (CMA) oganised a business meet on “Positioning Chandigarh as a world-class city” here yesterday.

Minister of state for parliamentary affairs Pawan Bansal, who was the chief guest, honoured four educationists.

They included BS Sandhu of the WWICS Group, Satnam Singh of CGC, Landran, Gulshan Sharma and Gulshan Sharma of the ITFT Group, Chandigarh. — TNS



Workshop on child health

Chandigarh, August 30
A “Capacity-building workshop for mid-level MCH and RCH managers on child health” is being held at the School of Public Health, PGI, from August 31 to September 4 in association with UNICEF, New Delhi.

Around 25 participants from Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan will take part in the workshop. Officials from UNICEF and ministry of health and family welfare will facilitate the training sessions. — TNS



Chandel joins race for ticket
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, August 30
The battle for the Congress ticket from here to contest the coming assembly election is set to hot up with Amitabh Singh Chandel, a member of erstwhile Ramgarh rulers’ family, staking his claim yesterday.

Chandel, who has been vice-president, Haryana Youth Congress, for the past eight years with holding the post of convener, Sports Cell of the HPCC, said he had already met a number of Congress leaders in the state as well in Delhi to press his claim.

After the exit of former Deputy Chief Minister and local MLA Chander Mohan from the political scene, local politicians as well as Congress leaders from other constituencies have been vying for the ticket from the Panchkula constituency, which sent the Congress candidate to the state assembly for the past four consecutive terms.



Consultants seek floor-wise sale of property
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 30
The Mohali Property Consultants Association has urged the state government to allow floor-wise sale of property, more covered area on second floor allowing fourth floor for residential property.

The issues were raised by NK Marwaha, former president of the association, during a press conference here today.

Earlier, ID Singh, general secretary of the association, said the issue of registration of conveyance deed at original allotment price and permission to the property consultants to run their business from houses was an achievement of the association.

Kanwarjit Singh, president of the association said the association was hopeful that Punjab Government would implement the Apartment Act 1995, so that floor-wise sale of property could be allowed.



’84 Riots
Dera Bassi man seeks action against MP
Tribune News Service

Mohali, August 30
A day after a Delhi court sentenced three persons for allegedly murdering three members of a Sikh family during 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Harvinder Singh Kohli, a resident of Dera Bassi, who claims to have witnessed the outer Delhi MP Sajjan Kumar while inciting the mob during 1984 anti-Sikh riots, has appealed to the government to act against the MP.

Talking to the mediapersons here today, Kohli claimed to have witnessed the genocide in which his father Sohan Singh and brother-in-law Avtar Singh were burnt alive.

Besides, he witnessed the atrocities inflicted on the Sikhs by the MP in which his neighbour Gurcharan Singh was thrown into a burning truck and made him physically challenged for life.

Kohli also approached the Central Bureau of Investigation to get his statement against the MP recorded but in vain.



Production warrant for Saji Mohan moved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), Chandigarh, has moved an application in the special NDPS court, seeking production warrant of IPS officer Saji Mohan in pilferage case yesterday.

It was alleged that Saji, along with superintendent Balwinder and another, had pilfered 30 kgs of heroin, which was seized by the NCB’s zonal unit, Jammu. In the plea, the NCB has sought his presence in the court on September 10, stating that his presence is required for case proceedings.



Nonfunctional CCTV cameras at PU cripple security
Archit Watts

Chandigarh, August 30
The tall claims of the authorities at Panjab University to conduct violence-free elections this year may fall flat at its face as the basic security gadget, CCTV cameras, are out of order at the sensitive places on the campus.

A random survey revealed that the CCTV cameras at the boys hostel No. 4, Patel Hall, and students’ centre were out of order. It is learnt that four days back, a group of students allegedly sprayed paint on the CCTV cameras at various places and made them nonfunctional.

On the very next day, authorities removed the cameras from the hostel on the pretext of repairing them. Since then, the cameras are yet to be reinstalled.

Interestingly, students from political parties like Students’ Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) and Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU) reside in the hostel. Besides, influential activists of the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), Hindustan Students’ Association (HSA) and Students’ Organisation of India (SOI) are also hostel residents. “We are probing the matter and will soon reinstall the cameras. Students, who allegedly sprayed paint on the cameras, would be dealt with sternly,” said, dean, student welfare, Naval Kishore.



Spin doctors for PU netas
Jyoti Rai


Vijay Chauhan
Vijay Chauhan

Chandigarh, August 30
Slangs, mix of languages, generous quota of promises and sarcastic comments about the opposition, and you have a recipe for an election speech at Panjab University.

But that’s not all, say speech writers at the university, who are involved in the makeover of candidates. They also mould netas, helping them with their dress sense, use of language, body language and eye contact.

“A good speech is reduced to nothing the moment a candidate fails to carry it off. His charisma should be such that the audience patiently listens to what he has to say,” says Sunny Bharadwaj, who has been writing speeches for INSO since the past four years.

“With guy candidates, we “masaledaar” the speech. Keeping the party’s focus at the forefront, humour and sarcastic comments work best. It makes it engaging. With girl candidates, we cannot use comments and keep it simple. Since high pitch is a problem for girls, I need to work with them on that too. It is a tough job,” he says

Jagmeet, speechwriter for PUSU, says, “Nothing works until the candidate successfully establishes a student connect. You need to hit them at the ground level. High-funda talks are always a bad idea. And yes, you must be presentable. No one wants a leader who does not make sense.”

Speechwriters maintain that candidates, who have worked all year along, are easy to work with. However there are instances, when due to last-minute withdrawals, some less-popular candidates need speeches. That’s the best time to get a speechwriter for damage control. But trends change with the audience. It’s a tough job for speechwriters to have their matter in sync with candidates. Everything needs to fall in place so that it makes sense to the audience and the candidate as well.

Elaborating on the changing trends in election speeches, Vijay Chauhan, who writes for SOPU, says, “Previously, the audience was genuinely interested in issues and agendas. It would listen to the speech, but those fresh out of school in the university now make up for a considerable vote bank. They look for entertainment and not content. So, the speech has to be weaved in a manner that it serves the party’s objectives and also meets the expectations of the listeners.”There are some “tricks” though that still work very well. “Focus on your party’s achievements rather than criticising the opposition. People have had too much of that. The candidate should know what is he talking about. A point should be well articulated. Staying simple, confident and humble at the same time is difficult, but then being on the council is not easy,” they add.



NSUI’s poll manifesto released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Transparency in funds received from the Central and state government, construction of new hostels for girls and boys and reduction in self-finance courses were the main points of the NSUI’s manifesto that was released today.

The manifesto promised filling of all vacant posts in the teaching departments. The NSUI felt that the current situation especially in the fresh courses was pitiful.

The manifesto also stressed on the improvement of infrastructure, including computers, laboratories, wireless networking, libraries and canteens.

Other features included streamlined functioning of the examination branch and speedy revaluation process for swift results. The party in its manifesto had also demanded regulation of rules for promotion. Instances like the recent exceptional promotion given to one senator in the department of laws would be checked on, said members of the party.



SOPU’s manifesto

Chandigarh, August 30
Representation of students in the senate and the household insurance were among the primary issues listed in the SOPU party’s manifesto, which was announced today.

Presidential candidate of Students’ Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) Rajwinder Singh Aulakh announced the manifesto.

Installation of an ATM and Internet cafe at the students’ centre, PU, addition of two nominated members by the council in every committee, completion of the pending projects were the main issues.

Need to formulate a structured pattern of the fee of self-financed courses was also highlighted. On the academic front, issues of revision of the syllabus and meeting of the academic council at least thrice a year were raised. — TNS



Stress laid on character building
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The Punjab unit of the Shiksha Sanskriti Uthan Nyas organised a seminar on “Character building and personality development in education in alternate to sex education” at Sharda Sarvhitkari Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 40-D, here today.

Renowned educationist Dina Nath Batra, national convener of nyas, presented the agenda and brief history of the initiative taken by the nyas. Atul Kothari, secretary of nyas, said they would complete the curriculum on the subject in November and make it public.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal welcomed the proposed curriculum on character building and personality development. He said they would include yoga shiksha in place of sex education in their state. He emphasised that education must be according to the nation’s ethos so that strong nation could be built on the basics of good character.

Addressing the concluding session, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said it was a good move to lay stress on character building and personality development in place of sex education. He said the love for the nation among citizens was fastly eroding. He praised the initiative of the nyas for working towards nation building.

The seminar was attended by 370 delegates, included Chamanlal Gupta, chairman, HP School Shiksha Board, Pran Nath Pankaj, former general manager of the SBI, Satish Mahajan, Mahant Ram Parkash Dass, former health minister of Punjab, PC Dogra, former Punjab DGP, Tikshan Sood, Punjab excise and taxation minister, Avinash Rai Khanna, member of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, and Desh Raj Sharma, president of the Punjab unit of the nyas.



Slum kids meet Guv’s wife
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
Over 200 children from three slum colonies of Chandigarh met the lady Governor at the Strawberry Fields World School, Sector 26, here today.

Dressed up in their best attires, these children talked about their ambitions, studies, and various other activities.

The event was organised by the Durga Das Foundation. Children, who were part of the foundation’s three night schools in Bapu Dham, Hallo Majra, and Indira Colony, were given books, clothes, utility items, shoes and woollens during the programme.

Children enjoyed snacks and walked away with a neat hamper that contained a packet of sugar, a t-shirt and refreshments.

UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar who was present on the occasion also reiterated his support to noble causes. Atul Khanna, director of the foundation said, “Gradually a culture of philanthropy is building in the city and it is having an effect on city residents.”

“The joy of giving has to be experienced for only then can it grow and bring in its fold a larger section of the community,” said Jean Rodrigues. She appreciated those who had initiated this touching and benevolent activity.



VC allowed to pay employees salary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 30
The Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University has been authorised to pay employees salary according to the notification issued by the Panjab Government as per the fifth pay commission. This decision was taken at the financial board meeting of the university that was held today.

The meeting was attended by Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti, Dean, univeristy instructions, the Dean, student welfare PU, registrar, PUTA president Manjit Singh, syndicate member GK Chatrath, senate member Karamjit and president of non-teaching staff Dharampal Sharma. “As per the fifth pay commission of the Panjab Government, a notification of the non-teaching and teaching staff has been issued and shall be implemented,” said a syndicate member.



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