C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Snarl-up after roadways staffers thrashed
Drunk SI suspended for aiding miscreants
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Sub-inspector Gurbeen Singh (extreme left) and the home guard jawan.
Sub-inspector Gurbeen Singh (extreme left) and the home guard jawan. Tribune photos: Pardeep Tewari 

Chandigarh, November 3
Irate over manhandling of their colleagues by a group of persons, Haryana Roadways employees blocked traffic outside the Sector 17 ISBT here this morning for about five hours.

The employees detained a sub-inspector, who was in an inebriated condition, and a home guard volunteer of the Chandigarh Police in their bus, alleging that the latter had helped the miscreants, who bashed up a bus conductor, to escape.

The incident caused a major embarrassment to the police, which was busy in the security arrangements of the Prime Minister, as it had to be on the back foot to avoid any agitation in the city. Bowing to the demands of the employee, the police immediately issued orders for suspension of the sub-inspector, after a medical examination confirmed that he was drunk, and initiated the process of sacking the home guard volunteer.

Preeti Sharma, a passenger from Ambala with her daughter, alleged that the bus conductor “touched” her daughter and when they objected to it, he manhandled them. She then rang up her nephew, Mohit, a local journalist, who, along with his friends, reached ISBT-17 in a police Gypsy and thrashed the conductor and driver

The drama had continued on for hours with harried passengers were cursing the employees for subjecting them to undue harassment. DSP (Central) reached the spot, along with a posse of policemen which were otherwise deployed in the Prime Minister’s security.

It all started early this morning when Preeti Sharma, a passenger, boarded a bus from Ambala, along with her daughter. She alleged that they had an altercation with the bus conductor who intentionally “touched” her daughter to which they objected to it. Later, when they asked the conductor to vacate seats, reserved for women passengers, for them, he manhandled them.

She then rang up her nephew, Mohit, a local journalist, who informed the police about the incident.

On the other hand, representatives of the Haryana Roadways and the CTU held that a group of persons sitting in a police Gypsy (CH 01 G1 6224) stopped the bus outside the ISBT around 6 am and bashed up the bus driver and conductor Suresh Kumar. The policemen helped the assailants instead of preventing them from the lawlessness they were indulging into.

Two witnesses, Suresh and Mukesh, told TNS that they saw some youngsters sitting in a Gypsy, as their fellowmen were stopping and checking buses. As soon as a bus from Delhi arrived, they stopped it, dragged its conductor out and thrashed him. Later, a policeman cautioned them from beating the conductor, saying the latter might die.

When they saw roadways employees rushing to their help, the assailants fled. The policemen also tried to speed away, but were intercepted. The agitated employees surrounded the Gypsy with their buses. They caught hold of sub-inspector Gurbeen Singh and the home guard volunteer and detained them in a bus (HR 65 1257).

The roadways employees alleged that Gurbeen Singh was drunk and was sent for a medical examination, which confirmed their allegation. The police registered a case of assault against Mohit and his friends.



Four schools in violation trouble
Notice soon on Stepping Stones, St Joseph’s, St John’s and Saupin’s
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
In what is being seen as a virtual comeback of DPI (S) Samwartak Singh, he is all set to take four city schools to task for various violations.

Putting an end to the dormancy infused in the department, Samwartak Singh has moved a file, demanding notification against four city schools, Stepping Stones, St Joseph, St John’s and Saupin’s School, for not abiding by the norms like mandatory 15 per cent weaker section quota, requisite fire safety arrangements, reserved funds, land utilisation and teachers’ qualifications from the approved universities.

The DPI asserted, “For us, quality education and safety of kids is prime. May it be the weaker section quota or playgrounds or even the qualification of the teachers for that matter, all this does affect the education of students, so they have to be in accordance with the set norms. These schools were found lacking in a few of the mentioned points and were given a chance to explain but the replies were not satisfactory, so they will be served a time-bound notice now, failing which they will face dire consequences.”

According to senior officials, the notices are being served on the basis of the report of the inspection committee comprising representatives from the MCC, the estate office and the STA in addition to education department officials, which visited these schools around four months back.

“The schools were evaluated on various parameters by the team and a majority of these were found violating the norms. Though most of these promised to rectify things, they didn’t so they are being sent notices now. In the first phase, it’s these four schools but later on more will be taken into the account,” said an official.

The move might not only prove to be a milestone of the fresh efforts started by the administration to tighten the noose on the erring private schools, but also mark the long-awaited revival of the education department shadowed under the confusion over the DPI’s alleged role in the cash-for-job scam till now. 



PM’s Visit
Traffic curbs claim patient’s life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Mismanagement and strict traffic restrictions outside the PGI in the wake of the Prime Minister’s visit to the hospital today claimed the life of a 32-year-old patient.

Harried family members of deceased Sumit Parkash Verma were sent from one place to another for about an hour by security personnel, who did not allow them access to the emergency department, resulting in the loss of precious time that ultimately led to the death of the ailing man.

The hapless family alleged that the repeated pleas of the patient, who was writhing in pain, too failed to move the security personnel, who refused to budge in the name of the PM security.

The PMO issued a statement that the Prime Minister was saddened at the death and a full report had been asked about the incident.

Verma, a father of two, was a goldsmith. He was taking treatment for his kidney from a private hospital in Sector 35. He was maintained on the hemodialysis from where he was referred to the PGI after he complained of breathlessness.

Talking to mediapersons outside the PGI police post, the nephew of the deceased Dheeraj Verma said the traffic police imposed restrictions near the PGI rotary where they remained stuck in a jam for about 10 minutes. After the traffic cleared, they reached the gate No 1 from where they were told to go to gate No 2.

The security personnel directed them to go towards cardiac centre, where the road was blocked. Then they were instructed to follow a route, which led them to residential areas and then to the PGI laundry. They reached the emergency, where he was declared brought dead.

The victim’s wife Isha was standing beside a stretcher carrying her husband’s body. Shocked at the death of her husband in front of her eyes, she was staring in air without uttering a word.

Meanwhile, the PGI authorities said Verma was brought dead. They also maintained that 40 patients were examined at the emergency departments between 10 am and 1 pm and the department was functioning normally.

Cops differ

Meanwhile, the police, in a press note, tonight claimed that though tight security arrangements were made, the traffic was not disturbed. At the time of the arrival of the PM, the traffic was stopped only for a few minutes at one gate of the PGI. The news report that the patient died due to heart attack in a traffic jam was incorrect.

An executive magistrate was deputed to conduct an inquiry. As per statement of the wife of the deceased recorded by the executive magistrate, Verma was a patient of kidney and diabetes. Doctors had advised them to take the patient to either GMCH-32 or the PGI. The attendants of the patient took him to the PGI.

The security guard not only guided them but also accompanied them to emergency where he was declared brought dead, the police claimed.

According to PGI doctors, the cause of the death complications arising out of renal failure, the press note claimed.



Commuters pay price
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Commuters had a tough time on certain roads in the city today due to jams caused by traffic restrictions imposed during the Prime Minister’s visit. Even as the traffic police claimed that it had ensured the free flow of traffic during the Prime Minister’s visit, especially on Madhya Marg, motorists had to stay in traffic jams, lasting to about half-an-hour, when the Prime Minister’s cavalcade passed through it.

It was not only Madhya Marg, which remained chaotic, but the roads, running parallel or leading to Madhya Marg, also witnessed long queues of vehicles stuck in jams.

Heavy police deployment was seen along the VVIP route and on the PGI and the Panjab University campuses. The traffic scene worsened in the evening even as the Prime Minister left the city ahead of office hours.

Though the Prime Minister reached the airport around 4:45 pm, the police faced a tough time regulating the heavy rush of vehicles on the busy roads, including the Chandigarh-Ambala highway and the road leading from Tribune Chowk to the Transport Lights point.

“The VVIP movement should not inconvenience public. Whenever there is any such movement, thousands of motorists and commuters are put to inconvenience, wasting precious time and fuel,” said Jasdev, an IT professional.

The roads around the PGI bore the brunt before the arrival of the Prime Minister as the traffic police imposed restrictions on motorists travelling on the route. PGI employees said security personnel did not allow them to use the staff parking lots, citing security reasons. This further resulted in worsening of the already short parking space.



Bandh cripples life in Mohali, Rajpura
Tribune News Service

Mohali/Rajpura, November 3
Normal life was thrown out of gear in Mohali, Kharar, Rajpura and Fatehgarh Sahib as a majority of the commercial establishments remained closed due to the bandh call given by various panthic organisations to protest against the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and the failure of the government to provide justice to victims.

No untoward incident was reported from any part of the district as most of the commercial area wore a deserted look. The bandh was peaceful, claimed a senior police official. Policemen were deployed throughout the district. At Rajpura and Sirhind, protesters stopped passengers and goods trains.

On the Chandigarh-Kharar National Highway near Balongi, members of different bodies, including the Guru Aasra Trust and the Panch Pardhani, held a peaceful protest by blocking the highway.

Women activists from the Guru Aasra Trust sang hymns from Gurbani during one-hour road blockade. Sandeep Singh, all-India general secretary of the Panch Pradhani, said holding such protests was an effort of all survivors of the carnage to awaken the state as well as the Centre lying in slumber.

Trust president Kulbir Kaur Dhami and Kanwar Singh Dhami said justice delayed is justice denied. Even after 25 years of the most dreadful 
carnage in the history of humanity, the accused were living freely.

The police had diverted the entire traffic from Kharar to Landran and further Landran to Mohali to avoid any chaos. Bandh was almost relaxed after 2 pm, when many shopkeepers opened their shops.

Earlier in the day, the members of the Panch Pradhani went from one market to another, urging shopkeepers to close their shops.

At Amb Sahib Gurdwara, Phase 8, the general secretary of the Panch Pradhani claimed that the police was obstructing them from observing a peaceful protest. He said the SAD government was not supporting the cause of the riot victims.

He claimed that the police was asking the shopkeepers to open their shops. Minor arguments were witnessed between cops and the members of the Panch Pradhani in the Phase 7 market. A large posse of policemen was rushed to Amb Sahib Gurdwara when senior police officials sensed trouble. Trouble was witnessed in the Phase 5 market when the traffic police started checking vehicles of protesters.

At Rajpura, two goods trains and a passenger train, which was on its way from Nangal Dam to Saharanpur, was stopped for nearly four-and-a-half hours this morning. The schedule of other trains also got disrupted in Sirhind and Rajpura.

At Fatehgarh Sahib some youngsters raised slogans near Gurudwara Jyotiswarup. Police patrolling teams were deployed all over the city to avert any incident of violence. Most shops in the Sirhind market remained closed for the entire day today. Passengers from far-off places were a harassing lot as no train arrived at Sirhind Railway Station.


PM for healthcare boost
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today awarded gold medals to doctors for their outstanding research work done in 2008, while Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad awarded degrees to 361 medicos at the 30th annual convocation of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) held at Bhargava Auditorium of the PGI.

Addressing the function, the Prime Minister urged the young doctors to believe that they were capable of doing much more than just the ordinary and warned them against accepting the status quo.

The Prime Minister reminded the audience of the vision of the first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, and the first Chief Minister of Punjab, Partap Singh Kairon, that led to the formation of the PGI.

He recollected his personal memories of the three stalwarts of the PGI in the early years - Dr Tulsi Das, Dr Santokh Singh Anand and Dr PN Chhuttani. The Prime Minister was happy to know that the tele-medicine initiative, which he had inaugurated during his last visit, was rendering a yeoman service to the region. He said despite the impressive improvement in many health indicators over the last decade, he was not satisfied because the improvement had been slower than what was required, especially in comparison to the countries in South-East Asia.

The Prime Minister said the current expenditure on health in India was 1 per cent of the GDP, but it was his government’s endeavour to raise it to 2-3 per cent of the GDP.

Earlier, Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad complimented the diligence and skill of the faculty of the PGIMER. In his address, he reiterated his ministry’s commitment to come out with the vaccine for H1N1 influenza by March 2010 and low-cost testing kits for H1N1 virus and diabetes testing.

Speaking on the occasion, he said eight new AIIMS were being set up and 19 existing colleges were being upgraded. He said the existing requirement of the faculty-student ratio for the postgraduate medical training of 1:1 is being relaxed to 1:2 to allow more number of postgraduate seats. He felt that this would enhance the number of seats by 4,000 countrywide.

Earlier, PGI Director Prof KK Talwar highlighted the achievements of the PGI. “The expansion of the institute in the last four decades has been spectacular. From an initial 230 beds, we have now over 1,600 beds and with the new centres added, we will have over 1,800 beds.” 

Advanced cardiac centre open

The Prime Minister also inaugurated the advanced cardiac centre. Dr Manmohan Singh complimented the PGIMER for bringing this important centre to fruition.

The centre is a spacious, state-of-art, 200-bedded facility meant exclusively for heart ailments. It will house cardiology, cardio-thoracic surgery, cardiac anaesthesia, cardiac radiology, laboratory facilities and support services, all under one roof.

It has three cath labs, four ultra-modern modular operation theatres, one emergency operation theatre, two 23-bedded ICUs with two five-bedded paediatric ICUs, 22 private wards and four 32-bedded general wards. It is expected that 1,000 open-heart surgeries will be performed per year to begin with and this will double in the next year.

Reunion of ex-Dons

Attended by former PGI directors, deans and heads of various departments, the convocation proved to be a meeting ground for them, providing them time to catch up with each other and their students, who were now well-established doctors at the institute.

Also present on the occasion were Punjab Governor SF Rodrigues, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Health Minister Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Haryana Governor Jagan Nath Paharia, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Union Minister of State for Finance Pawan Bansal and Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture Kumari Seilja and Editor-in-Chief of The Tribune HK Dua.


361 awarded degrees

A total of 361 students were awarded degrees at the convocation. These degrees included 25 PhDs, 36 DM (medical super-specialties), 27 MCh (surgical super-specialties), 140 MD (medical specialties), 54 MS (Surgical Specialties), 3 MHA (Master of Hospital Administration), 9 MPH (Master of Public Health), 11 MSc, 14 MLT (medical laboratory technology) and 42 in para-medical courses.

The Kataria Memorial Gold Medal for the best postgraduate student of the year was given to Dr Patil Vijay Maruti. The Major General Amir Chand Gold Medal for the best research work went to Dr Sourabh Dutta, the R Nath Gold Medal in Biomedical Sciences to Dr Vijay Kumar and the Aikat Memorial Gold Medal to Rajendra Prasad Joshi. 



Central status for PU sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The homecoming of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was invigorated by the concern for his alma mater, clearly reflected in his words and gestures during the special convocation at Panjab University and the subsequent tea session here today.

As expected, the issue of Central status for the university was raised during the special tea session that followed the convocation. Senators, senior PU officials, eminent personalities and special guests were a part of the session.

A team comprising of Prof Upinder Sahni, Chairman, Department of Economics, Prof AS Ahluwalia, Dean sciences and Prof Manjit Singh, president, Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) highlighted the issue of Central status for the PU at the session and also submitted a memorandum to him.

On being informed about the issue of Central status, the PM called the representatives of the PUTA to meet him in Delhi on the matter.

“We raised the issue of Central status for the PU with the PM. He gave us a patient hearing,” said PUTA president Prof Manjit Singh.

The matter was also taken up with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at the tea session. The CM told the members to meet him anytime they wished to on the issue.

Meanwhile, the Panjab University Campus Student Council also submitted memorandums to the PM on the issue. Surprisingly, the council gave two separate memos on the same issue, hinting at a divide between the members. One was jointly submitted by vice-president Virender Boora and secretary Deepika Thakur and the other by the council president, Amit Bhatia.

Another important issue concerning the varsity mentioned by the PM in his speech was the PU’s inability to cope up with the increased salaries of the faculty members as per new UGC guidelines. The PM assured the VC that he would look into the matter. 

PM gets emotional

It was a moment full of emotions for the PM and the faculty members of the university when Dr Singh enquired from his teachers about the economics department.

From 1957 to 1965, Dr Singh had taught in this department and was also a student of the department. “He enquired about his department and also the honours course there. All of us present there were touched by his concern,” said Prof Manjit Singh. 



Down the memory lane with PM 
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
It was a refreshing interface with the old memories of the 1950’s at Panjab University for Prime Minster Dr Manmohan Singh as he began his speech seeking an apology if he got emotional while addressing the gathering.

Addressing the gathering, an illustrious alumnus of the varsity, Dr Singh, reminded the students that they were fortunate enough to study in an institution of such rich legacy.

“I am happy to know the record of progress of the university. For the students, I would like to give a message that you are studying in one of the best universities of the country,” said Dr Singh.

Expressing his pleasure on visiting his alma mater, the PM quoted it as a great university. Dr Singh said he has spent some of the best years of his life in the university and he did not fail to mention that the knowledge he gained at the PU as a student played a major role in his life.

“Panjab University is among the most respected university today and I am proud to be associated with it,” he said.

The PM’s gestures talked much about his deep felt regard for the university. Each time Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti mentioned some achievement of the varsity during his speech, the PM clapped warmly and heartily.

Old memories came alive during the tea session that followed the special convocation, where his old friends and companions had gathered to meet him.

While some said that the PM was the same as he was during his younger days, others fondly recalled the time they had spent with him.

“Nothing has changed about him. He is still that person that he used to be in younger days,” said SV Kesar. There were others who recalled how they celebrated the first “lohri” together after Dr Singh got married. 



Lapse of Grants
MC fails to nail officials for laxity
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
While the municipal corporation authorities have frequently been blaming the elected representatives for not imposing taxes due to which they have been unable to seek any subsidy under the Jawaharlal National Urban Renewal Mission, they have been unable to fix the responsibility on officials for lapse of grants of crores of rupees for old projects, which have not been forwarded to the Union Government on time.

According to the records of the corporation, in 2004, the general house approved a proposal for the construction of a sewerage plant of 15 MGD capacity for third phase sectors, near 3 BRD Chandigarh, at the cost of Rs 22.2 crore, which was fully financed by the central government. The project also got the clearance of the Chandigarh administration in 2005.

Interestingly, the records revealed that after two years, tenders were called for the plant, which were later cancelled on the plea that the rates quoted were very high.

In 2008, the authorities again invited tenders but they found the bid on the higher side, so they did not allot the work.

So far, the corporation has been unable to allot the work to any contractor. Once, the work is allotted, they will have to draft blueprints of the project and send it to the Centre to seek grant for the project.

During a recent house meeting of the MC, when councillors raised the question of the status of the project. MC Chief Engineer SK Bansal informed the house that they had not received grant for the project so far as they had not submitted their plans to the Centre.

He said now they had engaged a consultant to prepare a detailed project report, which would be sent to the government under the JNNRUM scheme. The earlier technology recommended in 2004 was outdated now.

Sources said under the Sahaj Safai Kendra (SSK) project, the corporation had received lakhs of rupees as grants from the Centre but the authorities did not utilise the funds properly.

A number of councillors had frequently raised the issue of delay in the construction of the SSK during house meetings but officials had always told them that the plans had not been approved by the administration.

Questions were raised as to why the authorities had not fixed any responsibility on the official who had delayed the allotment of the project?

Why the house was not informed by the authorities that they had not been able to find any suitable contractor for the project and who is responsible for the delay, which has enhanced the cost of the project manifold, remain unanswered.



MC for removal of encroachments
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, November 3
Taking a serious note of encroachments in and around Zirakpur, the municipal council (MC) today directed the enforcement wing to remove the encroachments from in front of shops in Zirakpur, Harmilap Nagar, Baltana and Dhakoli.

This decision was taken at an MC meeting chaired by its president Narinder Kumar Sharma. The council also decided to secure government land from the land mafia.

It asked the department concerned to demarcate land at Bhabat and Nabha villages and complete fencing by the next meeting.

The council planned to buy a fogging machine and water tankers. It also decided on a zone system for cleanliness of the town.

Sharma said the public park at Baltana would be handed over to the general public shortly. The council was planning more green belts in Zirakpur.

Councillors Jagtar Singh, Sheela Devi, Nachatar Singh and Shakuntla Arya alleged that development in their areas was slow. Sharma asked senior MC officials to look into the issue.

Councillors Harpreet Kaur, Sheela Devi and Nachatar Singh alleged that tubewells in their wards had not been working properly. Sharma asked the department concerned to take up the issue.



MHA audit report
Ex-Adviser flayed for outburst
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Reacting to the “uncalled-for outburst” of Lalit Sharma, former Adviser to the UT Administrator, against the Union home ministry, farmers and present Adviser Pardip Mehra, the citizens groups at a meeting here today called his statements as “rumbling by a co-conspirator in scams whose role has now been exposed.”

Citizens’ Voice convener Hemant Goswami said howling by Lalit Sharma as well as present finance secretary Sanjay Kumar against the Union home ministry called for a disciplinary action by the government against them under Rule 9 and 19 of the CSS (Conduct) Rules, 1967.

The statement has come in reaction to the former UT Adviser calling the recent MHA audit report on land allocations in IT park as a “non-serious one” in certain media reports. He has been quoted as calling the report a “laughable one”.

He also said, “If you need growth, you need these projects. How else would you find opportunities for employment.”

Mani Majra Farmers’ Association president HS Johl said, “Such criticism only proves our contentions that these public servants have no faith in the union of India or the democratic process and believe in working like dictators outside the law. We followed the lawful process to expose them and now if they have anything to say, the Indian law gives them enough opportunity to state their point of view in the court of law and before the CBI investigation team.”

A press note said, “It is worth mentioning that most of these project files were cleared by five different levels of officers in one day within a week of the first conceptualisation of the scam ridden projects.”



Sarovar inaugurated at Dadu Majra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The municipal corporation has developed a lake out of a pond located near the Dronacharya Stadium, Dadu Majra. Union minister for tourism, housing and urban poverty alleviation Kumari Selja dedicated the pond — Guru Dronacharya Sarovar — to public here yesterday.

Union minister for parliamentary affairs and water resources Pawan Kumar Bansal presided over the function.

Assuring support to promote rural tourism in the city, Kumari Shelja told the Mayor to prepare a plan to encourage tourism at villages.

She said the upgrade of the sarovar by the corporation was an initiative in this direction.

Stressing the need for water harvesting, Bansal said there was a need to preserve such ponds at villages in the city so that the water level in the surroundings areas could be maintained.

Mayor Kamlesh said the pond — in existence for over a century — was spread over two acres. She said three musical floating fountains along with a seating area had been built with railing around the pond.

Three boats along with life jackets and personnel to assist people in boating had also been provided at a cost of Rs 35 lakh.

UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar, MC Commissioner PK Sharma, councillors and officials were present.



Another PGI doc contracts H1N1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
Another doctor tested positive for swine flu in the city today, taking the total number of cases to 61. The victim is a doctor in the endocrinology department of the PGI and resides in the hospital complex.

So far, at least 14 doctors in the city, including those at the PGI, the GMCH and the GMSH, have tested positive.

UT nodal officer for swine flu HC Gera said it was the eighth case of a doctor at the PGI contracting swine flu.

The doctor is undergoing treatment and has been administered Tamiflu. However, other samples collected yesterday turned out to be negative today.

Six suspected cases of H1N1 influenza, including two PGI doctors, one each from endocrinology and neuro-surgery departments, and a student of St Johan School have been reported.



On-the-spot power billing scheme hits hurdles
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, November 3
The on-the-spot power billing scheme of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) introduced here six months ago has hit infrastructural hurdles, forcing the authorities to withdraw it from nearly half of the town.

The scheme was initially introduced in the town in April in Phases I to XI, but was later restricted to Phases I to VI, as the board did not have the required infrastructure to run it in the way it was planned.

The problem of adequate manpower and other shortcomings were brought to the notice of the higher authorities.

The new scheme had aimed at eliminating disputes between the board and the consumer over meter readings and also ensuring timely distribution of bills, giving consumers around 15 days to pay their bills.

Meter readers were given small, portable bill-issuing machines. Appropriate software was fed into the machines and the bill was given to the consumer immediately after taking the reading from the power meter.

Sources said the PSEB had 15 billing machines but six were now out of order. Seven persons were currently using spot billing machines and two machines were kept on standby.

The faulty billing machines had to be sent for repair to Patiala, from where these were sent to Hyderabad. A lot of time was wasted in repair work as there were no arrangements for repair at the local level.

Also, meter readers had found it difficult to retrieve data gathered from their areas of operation if a machine developed a snag while at work.

While consumers were issued bills on the spot after recording the number of power units consumed, the PSEB office failed to have any such record because the data could not be retrieved due to the snag.

Such a situation created confusion among consumers as well as employees who collected bill payments.

The sources said work of issuing bills got adversely affected when ribbon used in the machines wore out and every time meter readers had to go to the office to get another ribbon released as there was a shortage of the item.

PSEB officials admitted that the area of operation for the scheme was curtailed due to lack of adequate infrastructure.

To make the scheme fully functional, three times more staff were needed but the board did not have the requisite number of employees to spare.

Many a time, bills could not be issued on the spot owing to power cut as electronic meters ran only on power.

Officials, however, said there was no shortage of ribbons used in the machines and the number of complaints regarding the functioning of the machines where data could not be saved had also come down. The board had a number of machines that were kept on standby.

Before the scheme was introduced, the power consumption data of Mohali consumers was sent to the Regional Computer Centre, Chandigarh, from where the bills were generated after around 15 days.

Bills, at times, used to reach consumers late, giving them very little time to clear the dues.



Neurological disorders in children discussed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
A four-day international paediatric neurology and epilepsy conference concluded at the PGI on Sunday. The last day session highlighted the diagnosis and management of nerve and muscle disorders and issues of neurocutaneous disorders.

In the plenary talk delivered by Prof Ouvrier from Australia, he outlined the recent concepts in peripheral neuropathies. The next talk was delivered by Prof P Curatolo form Italy, who focused on current concepts in neurocutaneous syndromes.

The session on neuro-developmental disorders dealt with important issues like cerebral palsy, a major problem in children with neurological disorders. Prof M Johnston, USA, highlighted the capacity of the brain to withstand injury and the scope of optimising the performance of the developing brain to withstand injury.

Prof P Singhi described the skills of home-based management of children with cerebral palsy, which is a mainstay, and cost effective strategy of handling such cases in the resource poor country scenario.

Prof Udani from Mumbai covered the topic of preventive neurological disorders particularly the vaccine preventable disorders. This was a session of great interest to the practicing paediatricians. The timely and appropriate vaccination strategies for preventing several neurological problems due to H influenza and pneumococcal meningitis, tetanus, varicella etc were showcased. Prof P Singhi brought out the controversial issues in the management of the endemic brain disease, neurocysticercosis.

The practice parameter sessions highlighted management of common disorders like neonatal seizures, febrile seizures and reflex epilepsies by Dr S Kanhere from Mumbai, Col Rana, Delhi and Dr R Mittal, Delhi. The other session dealt with other childhood neurological disorders like headaches in children by Dr. M Ray, PGI Chandigarh and movement disorders by Dr S Muthugovindan, UK.

The day ended with a vital panel discussion on the scope and directions of training of paediatric neurology in developing countries. Delegates from around the country found it a very interactive and stimulating conference. It served to improve the knowledge of the paediatricians who participated and also generate awareness among the lay public. 



MoD filing fresh appeals over disability pension
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
In what is being described as an act of variance with the Law Minister’s announcement of reducing government-filed frivolous litigation, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is still filing appeals before division benches of High Courts against orders passed by Single Benches granting disability pension to voluntary retirees.

It may be recalled that 1998 onwards, High Courts have time and again held that the action of the defence ministry in denying disability pension to voluntary retirees was discriminatory and bad in law. In 2008, the Supreme Court also upheld the grant of disability benefits to voluntary retirees.

While forwarding proposals before the Sixth Pay Commission, the Defence Ministry had itself termed the rule denying disability pension in such cases as “archaic and out of tune with reality”.

The proposal was thereafter accepted by the pay commission, which directed the removal of this anomaly.

Ex-servicemen organisations are perturbed with the stand of the Defence Ministry in fresh appeals before the courts, wherein the ministry has justified the denial of disability pension to voluntary retirees whereas the same has already been held to be arbitrary by the SC and the pay commission acting upon the Ministry’s own statement.

Veterans have pointed out that such appeals filed by the Ministry are not only in total conflict with the SC’s verdict but also against the government’s own stand before the pay commission. They add that besides leading to extra burden the exchequer, this “unethical litigation” was also putting unnecessary work pressure on the government personnel concerned.

The MoD, on the other hand, has already released a circular authorising disability pension to voluntary retirees. Strangely, while the Courts had imposed no such restriction, the orders by the MoD stipulate that the new dispensation shall only be applicable to personnel retiring after January 2006.

Legal experts point out that the petitioner in the leading case on the subject, Mahavir Singh Narwal vs Union of India, decided by the SC, was a retiree of the 1980s. They contend that if a large number of voluntary retirees prior to 2006, have been granted disability pension by the courts, then the cut-off date imposed by the government was unfair and would only force earlier retirees to move court.



Engineering institute celebrates foundation day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The local chapter of Institute of Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering (IETE) celebrated its Foundation Day here yesterday.

The theme for this year was “Blogging and Tweeting - Boon or Bane”. A quiz competition, essay competition, technical paper contest and debate were organised by students at the occasion.

The chapter’s chairman, Dr Pawan Kapur, also inaugurated the newly installed EDUSAT System at the IETE campus here. Speaking at the occasion, he highlighted the activities of IETE and also discussed various aspects of blogging.

Reading out the message issued by IETE president at New Delhi, the chapter’s secretary, VP Giridhar said IETE’s emphasis was to improve the quality of life in rural India.

Prof M Syamala Devi from the department of computer science and applications, Punjab University, and Prof Sanjeev Kumar Sofat from the department of computer science, Punjab Engineering College, also delivered lectures on related topics.

Senior members of the chapter, SC Kakar, Brig. HBS Grewal and MG Joshi were honoured on this occasion, while prizes were awarded to winners of the various competitions.



Waiting for a spark?
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
It seems that fire services in Chandigarh are still in deep slumber and not prepared for major fire incidents.

Interestingly, the department is not only ill-equipped to handle such a situation, but does not have data as to how many oil, diesel, nitrogen and LPG vehicles enter the city to proceed to other parts of the region.

The department does not have any idea about the quantity of inflammable articles involved and so, it cannot formulate any foolproof action plan in case an incident occurs.

Sources revealed that during their training at the fire academy, firemen had been told that they should always have all data about routes and the number of vehicles having oil or LPG entering or leaving the city so that in case of any mishap, they could locate and extinguish the fire.

They said the big question was who was going to execute these norms in the city when all fire personnel who had been trained by the department after spending lakhs had not been promoted so far.

The sources revealed that during training, firemen had been told to have information regarding the transportation of combustible material through the railway department.

They said the department had never communicated with the railway department to seek data in this regard.

The department had purchased multi-purpose vehicles five years back, specifically to handle fire related to chemicals, oil, grease and electricity.

Each vehicle had a dry chemical powder vessel, which should be kept filled so that the vehicle could be used immediately in case of a fire.

Strangely, all fire stations which had such vehicles kept their vessels empty and pressure gas at the zero mark.

On being asked, one of the fire personnel revealed that there were verbal orders from their head not to fill these vessels till a fire incident occurred.

On further questioning, officials clarified that they kept the vessels empty as there were complaints of gas leak when not in use.

The fire department should put up nakas in the city so that it could know about the movement of vehicles having poisonous oil or LPG, but strangely, as per the records, not a single naka had been put up to keep a check on such vehicles.

Surprisingly, the department had never checked fire safety measures in godowns of LPG cylinders located around the city.

A senior official stated that they had made their own arrangements of fire and so, there was no need to keep a check. 



LCD screen installed at Sec-34 gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
In order to associate young Sikh girls and boys with Gurbani, the Sector-34 gurdwara management committee has installed LCD screen in the complex, which would display hymns of Guru Granth Sahib in various languages.

General secretary Harjeet Singh, Gurdwara Sri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Managing Committee, said in a press note issued here today that since the new generation was not learning their mother tongue, Punjabi, it had become imperative to create such systems so that they could know about their gurus’ teachings.



Recruitment drive at SD College
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 3
The Corporation Bank visited GGDSD College, Sector 32 C, here today for the final round of selection of probationary officials.

The recruitment drive included group discussions and personal interviews of 13 students shortlisted earlier. General manager NR Shet and deputy general manager RP Arora, Corporation Bank, were involved in the recruitment process and also gave a brief presentation about the working of the bank and its achievements. They also provided the description of the job profile to the students.

Placement official Dr SK Sharma expressed that the college would continually be providing support to the Corporation Bank in their campus recruitment drives for different job profiles, which the bank will offer to the students.

Principal Dr AC Vaid welcomed the general manager and deputy general manager of the Corporation Bank and apprised them about the efforts of the college being put in to groom the overall personality of the students.



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