C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Drug cases decline, more addicts seek help
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Though the number of drug peddling cases filed by the Chandigarh police this year have witnessed a sharp decline, the ever-increasing number of addicts willing to kick the habit portrays a different picture.

The police claim to have registered 56 cases under the Narcotics Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act till October 31 this year as against 91 in 2008. On the other hand, sources in the deaddiction center at PGI said about 600 addicts show up at the centre every year to quit drugs. The number includes only those who volunteered or were forced to do so by their families. The sources added thousands of youngsters are hooked to one intoxicant or the other, which indicates drugs were still easily available in the city.

The entire cityscape is inundated with pictures of youth hooked on ‘ganja’, sulpha, smack and charas and consuming other intoxicants like opium and cough syrups. Police officials have confirmed the rise in abuse of these intoxicants in the city. As a senior college lecturer puts it, “The menace has far greater social implications than the mere problem of addiction”.

One can have a better idea of the menace, which is rampant in the city, from a large number of empty bottles of cough syrups lying near and in some cases within educational institution, public toilets in market places as well as in parks.

Figures of cases registered by the police under the NDPS Act have failed to bring out a clear picture on the drug menace in the city and the steps taken by the cops. The police registered 756 cases under the NDPS Act from January 1, 2004 till October 31 this year, far less than 91 cases registered in 2008, 144 in 2007, 181 in 2006 and 164 in 2005.

On the other hand, sources close to the drug deaddiction center at the PGI said every year about 600 people were admitted there for undergoing treatment to quit drugs. The number included only those who wanted to kick the habit or those forced to join the PGI’s deaddiction programme by their parents.

“The trend indicates thousands of youths have taken to drugs in the city. Now consider the money involved which would easily be in several crores of rupees in a year”, a source said.

The student revealed that those hooked to drugs and cough syrups get their ‘dose’ from chemists stores located on the city’s periphery, especially Nayagaon. Nightclubs and discothčques are other places from where youngsters became hooked to drugs. It was found a large number of young people first tasted the forbidden drugs at parties at discos and other nightspots. Raju, a drug peddler arrested by the Narcotic Control Bureau, said he regularly supplied drugs to youngsters going in for late night dance parties.

On availability of drugs the students said the drug peddlers took orders on their mobile phones and decided on a place anywhere in the city to deliver the ‘dose’. In slums women are also into peddling narcotics. The police had arrested a woman earlier who used to give an injection to youngsters at her house. The Tribune had helped in busting a gang of peddlers in Ram Darbar in March this year by exposing men selling schedule H drugs on motorcycles without any prescription.



Uncertainty at top takes toll on city's development
Officials adopt ‘wait-and-watch’ policy
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
The uncertainty at the top in the Chandigarh Administration is taking its toll on the city's development. With Chandigarh expecting new incumbents on the posts of Punjab Governor, who is also UT Administrator, and Adviser to the UT Administrator, the development activity has virtually come to a standstill in the Union Territory, with officials adopting a "wait-and-watch" policy.

Besides the mega projects such as the Amusement Park, the Film City, the Medicity and the IT Park, particularly the Habitat Project (Prideasia), which were considered to be the brainchild of the UT Administrator SF Rodrigues, the other major development projects are also "on hold", as these need nod at the Administrator's level.

Following alleged irregularities in the allotment of land to the developers of the mega projects, these are under the scanner of the Central Vigilance Commission(CVC). Recently, in a blow to the UT Administration, the special audit of the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) blasted the UT Administration for various irregularities in the acquisition of land for the IT Park here.

"We can neither take the existing projects forward nor initiate new projects in the backdrop of the expiry of present incumbent SF Rodrigues' tenure," a senior officer said, adding that best course of action under the present circumstances was to wait till the arrival of the new incumbent.

Sources said among the projects which had run into rough weather were the Modern Terminal Market, another pet project of Rodrigues.With Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Pawan Bansal coming opening against the mega project, this project is also doomed for failure. Apart from this, the monitoring committee of the Chandigarh Metro project which was to meet under the chairmanship of UT Administrator is yet to hold its meeting. Officials concerned seem to be apparently delaying the meeting in anticipation of a new incumbent at the Punjab Raj Bhavan.

It may be mentioned that Governor's tenure ended on November 16 while that of his Adviser ended last month.It is believed that the new incumbent may be named only after December 21 when the winter session of Parliament concludes.

This would mean that major decisions would be postponed for several weeks till the arrival of the new UT Administrator. Similarly, the uncertainty over the appointment of new UT Adviser is also fuelling speculation in the corridors of power.

In fact, the slugfest between Rodrigues and Adviser Pradip Mehra had derailed the mega projects for the past several months. While the two top functionaries indulged in war of words, other officials played safe and preferred to postpone the major decisions, affecting development activity in the city.

This, coupled with faction-fighting in the Congress-dominated Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh MCC, dealt a severe blow to the developmental activities.

Meanwhile, a local advocate Ajay Jagga demanded immediate posting of the new Governor to end the uncertainty and put developmental activities back
on the track.



Admn holds St John’s teacher guilty
Principal held responsible for promoting cyber crime
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
The UT administration, in a significant move, today not only declared St John’s art teacher Michael Angelo guilty of promoting vulgarity, but also held the school authorities, especially principal Kavita Das, responsible for simultaneously instigating students for cyber crime by organising hacking competitions in school.

The decision came in wake of the report submitted today to the Home Secretary after a week-long inquiry into the complaint of TK Goyal, accusing among others, the art teacher of instigating students to view and join adult sites.

The report claimed to have drawn its inference from certain proofs provided by the complainant. The first proof was a photocopy of the handwritten note of the teacher, allotting the song ‘She hates me’ to the minor sons of the complainant.

According to the note, the song had phrases like ‘she f****** hates me’. The language had been deemed unfit for children and the teacher has been accused of polluting their minds with vulgarity.

Similarly, according to another photocopy of a signed circular by principal Kavita Das, it had been proved that a server-hacking competition had been held at the school, the goal of which was ‘to hack the server and log-in accounts of other members and to hack the network’. According to the report, such a competition could not be held for school kids.

According to the report, the parent had also produced a text message received from the teacher’s mobile on October 1 saying, “I understand ur anger but u can forgive me for my mistake”. The message hinted that teacher had confessed to his guilt for some mistake.

Meanwhile, the inquiry committee upheld that other allegations like instigating students to join adult sites, using mobile phones during classes and showing pornographic material could not be proved only on the basis of the complainant’s statements as he has asserted that those could only be proved by taking records from the mobile service provider and the authorities of websites like Orkut and Facebook.

The report concluded that the charges established were enough to initiate action against the art teacher for teaching vulgarity and the principal for abetment to encouragement of skills of cyber crime and non-cooperation on the pretext of being a minority institution.

Interestingly, while the education department had established all charges and claimed that it could not be a silent spectator to such things, the administration wanted the school management to take action in this matter.

“I have got the report and marked it to the school management. The management, in its communication to the department, has claimed to be upright and fair. So now, it should prove this. The DPI(S) has also been asked to take further steps. We may not interfere in any institution, but will not tolerate such a thing in our educational system,” said Home Secretary Ram Niwas.

After the complaint against the teacher had been submitted for promoting ‘adult sites’, the school authorities and the administration had marked their separate inquiries.

While the complainant had refused to join the school inquiry on the grounds of not having faith in it and went to the administration, the school authorities did not ‘cooperate’ with the administration on the pretext of being a minority institution, free from external control.

The school, in its own inquiry, had asked the complainant to submit all proofs and clarify the allegations levelled by the accused against him.

The report of this inquiry was still awaited. The school authorities refused to comment on the inquiry report, saying they were not a part of it.

They also claimed that the Minority Commission for Schools has demanded an explanation from the education department for interfering in the matter of a minority school.



PhD entrance test
Panel for cancellation of exemption to ‘influential’ candidate
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
A probe committee has recommended the cancellation of exemption given to an influential candidate from appearing in the PhD entrance test of Panjab University.

A senior administrative functionary of the PU had given a nod to the case in the absence of Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti.

The candidate, who is wife of a Ludiana-based Akali MLA, was formerly teaching as a lecturer on a temporary basis in the regional centre, Ludhiana.

The matter came to light at a meeting of top officials in the senate Hall today, where the VC cautioned the officials against concealing information from his office and exercising certain powers out of their jurisdiction in his absence.

According to the report of the committee, which was set up to look into the matter when the VC office received a complaint, she was found ineligible to avail exemption from the test. The enquiry committee comprising of VK Sibal, Prabjeet Singh, Prof SS Bari and Prof Naval Kishore found that the case had no merit and the exemption given was not fair.

“The committee had concluded that exemption could not be given in this case. The candidate was not even NET qualified, so was not a regular lecturer in Ludhiana. Exemption can be given in PhD entrance test only if the lecturer is regular. Hence, the case had no merit still it was passed,” said Prabjeet Singh, member of the committee.

Reliable sources say names of two senators are also being quoted for having pushed the case. According to a fellow, the VC had also cited the case in the syndicate meeting.

In the absence of the V-C, a senior official exercises his powers and in this case he reportedly signed the exemption letter without bringing it to the notice of the VC.

On being questioned on the matter, the VC said, “I have received the report of the committee but have not gone through it yet.”

Meanwhile, two other issues were highlighted at the meeting. One was the case of allotting house out of turn to an applicant by a senior official in the VC’s absence.

Yet another was a case of recent appointment of chairperson of the Ancient History department, PU, which was also done in the absence of the V-C. All three contentious files were signed when the V-C was out of city.



Four more down with H1N1
Anti-viral drug in form of syrup and 45 mg dosage received for children
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
With the number of positive swine flu cases showing increase among children, especially in the age group of 5-14, the UT Health Department has arranged stock of paediatric dosage of antiviral drug - Oseltamivir (Tamiflu).

According to the department, a consignment of 100 bottles, meant for swine flu-infected children below the age of 14, has been received along with the supply of 1,000 capsules of 45 mg dose for children. Besides, 8,000 Tamiflu capsules are procured in doses of 75 mg.

Oseltamivir is the generic name of the drug. The brand name of Oseltamivir capsules produced by one pharmaceutical company is known as Tamiflu.

"The syrup is usually given to patients whose body weight is below 40 kg," said UT Nodal officer for swine flu HC Gera. Earlier, we had only adult patients and we had ample stock of Tamilfu tablets of 75 mg. But since the drastic shift in the age group of H1N1 flu cases in the city from adults to children in the age group of 5-14, the need for the liquid form of the medicine and low doses were also required.

So far, over 480 cases of swine flu had come to city hospitals, of which 111 were tested positive, including four fresh cases for H1N1 reported today. Of the positive cases, over 40 were students, including school children and college-going youth.

According to Gera, there are more than enough capsules of these medicines and has enough syrups for children as well. “The central government has assured us all support and it has said that we should get back to them if there is shortage,” he added.

Meanwhile, four more persons, including two students from St John’s and 18-year-old student from the PEC, tested positive for swine flu today, taking the overall tally to 111.

Two more students from St John’s, who are residents of Sector 8 and Sector 21, Panchkula, tested positive today, said Dr Jagmaal, District Health Officer, Panchkula.

A student belonging to Narayangarh, who has been tested positive, has been put on Tamiflu course. “He was exhibiting symptoms of swine flu like running nose, high fever and bad throat. We had collected his throat and nasal swab samples yesterday and his report has come positive,” Gera said. His condition is stable and he is responding well to treatment.

Another victim is a 17-year-old youth from Manimajra. The UT health authorities have quarantined him along with his family members at his residence.

Meanwhile, five-suspected cases of H1N1 influenza were reported here today. “Throat swab samples have been sent to the PGI for lab tests. The reports will be come in a day," said Gera. 



Company complains of rotten garbage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
It seems that the municipal corporation hardly bothers to follow instructions issued by the Chandigarh administration about the proper segregation of garbage before being transported to the garbage processing plant at Dadu Majra.

As the authorities have made no special segregation arrangements till date, the plant has been receiving garbage which is rotten and should not be sent.

A JP Company representative said they sent a written complaint to the authorities today that most of the garbage, which was being received at the plant on a day-to-day basis, was usually rotten.

Most of the garbage bins which transported the garbage to the plant had open or broken lids, due to which moisture increased in the garbage, which posed difficulty in its processing. The company also complained that the plant had still been receiving waste from vegetable market, meat market and hotels, which was not supposed to be sent for processing to the plant, as per the agreement with the corporation.

Two months back, written instructions were given to the corporation that the civic body should use bags of specific colour, other than the colour meant for bio-medical waste, for the collection of meat waste from different parts of Chandigarh and it should be transported in a separate vehicle.

This waste should then be sent for further processing.

Sources in the municipal corporation revealed that 30 trucks collected the garbage from 500 bins in the city, out of which all were not functional due to some technical problems, due to which most of the time the collection of the garbage was usually delayed for want of transportation.

Surprisingly, in the house meeting, the agenda item of increasing the number of garbage bins was tabled, but no proposal was made to increase the number of vehicles for collection of garbage.

When contacted, municipal corporation Commissioner Dr Roshan Sunkaria said he had not received any complaint from the company about the transportation of rotten garbage to the plant so far.


City unsafe for pedestrians, cyclists
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Despite wider roads and traffic police, the city continues to be unsafe for pedestrians and slow-moving traffic.

Moving on the wrong side of the road and jumping medians through unauthorised openings are some of the common factors causing mishaps.

One can spot several unauthorised openings near slums like Colony Number 5, which has one of the most vulnerable roads for pedestrians, cyclists and two-wheeler riders. Apart from this, lack of footpaths has aggravated the problem since it leaves pedestrians no option but to use the road.

A perusal of figures available with the road accident cell of the traffic police indicates that almost 50 per cent of the causalities on city roads includes pedestrians, cyclists and rickshaw passengers. If the number of two-wheeler riders who died in accidents was included, the figure would cross 80 per cent.

A traffic police official said out of the 141 persons who died in road accidents in the city till October 31, 46 were pedestrians, 20 cyclists, three rickshaw-pullers or passengers and 58 two-wheeler riders. Similarly, among the 262 persons left injured in the accidents, 51 were on foot, 149 on two-wheelers and 22 cyclists and rickshaw-pullers.

Not only this, the city has also seen a rise in the number of fatal mishaps this year. While 130 persons were killed till October 31 last year, 141 deaths have been reported so far.

Road safety experts feel that despite the city being known for its planning and wide roads, it virtually has no place for pedestrians and cyclists or for that matter slow-moving traffic.

“It seems that the city has been planned keeping in view only cars and buses. Even though the authorities are constructing cycle tracks and subways for slow traffic or walkers, these are rarely used. Lack of road sense is also a major factor,” Balpreet Singh, a businessman, stated.



Viable garbage disposal policy not yet in place
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
It appears the municipal corporation has failed to draw up an effective policy to set up garbage segregation facilities in the city till date. Even though the civic body had launched several projects in this regard these could not be implemented properly in the absence of relevant bylaws.

Door-to-door garbage collection: This project was launched in 2001 to ensure garbage in the city was collected properly. NGOs and resident welfare associations were involved in executing this project even though the policy was silent on the authorities taking action in case the public was harassed.

The present status of this project is that private contractors are charging from the public as per their own whims. In some sectors the contractors are charging Rs 20 and in some other sectors Rs 40 to Rs 60 for door-to-door garbage collection. They are not answerable to the MC authorities as they are not under their jurisdiction.

Cycle rickshaws for collecting garbage: In 2002 the administration handed over specially designed cycle rickshaws and handcarts to the residents’ welfare association to collect garbage from house to house in two separate containers for biodegradable and nonbiodegradable waste.

According to the proposal garbage was to be converted into compost at the vermiculture compost centre in Sector 15, which was built in association with the Jeevan Bima Welfare & Cultural Society.

Ironically, the authorities are not aware about the present status of this project.

Sehaj Safai Kendre (SSK): The MC launched this project in 2002 that involved setting up 132 SSKs in various sectors of the city. According to the proposal after door to door collection of the garbage, it would be segregated at SSKs by the employees. Even the authorities had decided special provisions would be made in SSKs for the domestic hazard waste.

The project’s present status is that no provision has been made for the segregation of garbage in SSKs till date. It has become a collection centre from where the garbage is sent to the garbage processing plant at Dadu Majra.

Garbage collection trucks: According to MC records there are as many as 31 trucks that cover the whole of the city to collect garbage from over 400 bins and transport it to the Dadumajra garbage plant on a daily basis.

On an average, as per the company's records, each dumper collects the garbage of around 7 to 8 bins daily and the rest are left due to shortage of vehicles of the corporation. Even on weekends the plant does not receive a sufficient amount of garbage to run it at an optimum level.

When contacted JP company representatives of the plant alleged even though the corporation assured the administration that the waste of slaughterhouses, hotels and vegetable markets would be segregated at the SSKs and then sent to the plant. However, till date nothing has been done in this regard. The company representatives said they had recently sent details as to how much slaughterhouse and biomedical waste was received by them at the plant on day-to-day basis.

Though the authorities keep on claiming they are preparing a policy for proper segregation of garbage when this would be done only time will tell.



Citizens’ groups to seek Rodrigues’ arrest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Labelling every bit of the reply sent by UT Administrator SF Rodrigues as ‘a bundle of lies and a selective deceitful concoction of imaginary facts’, groups of eminent citizens and families affected today decided to urgently meet the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to update them on the facts of the Chandigarh land scams and to request them for the immediate removal and arrest of Rodrigues along with the other bureaucrats involved in the alleged scams.

Citizens’ groups held a meeting here today to chalk out the future course of action in the light of the utterances by Rodrigues against the Home Ministry and his justifying the deals to negate the alleged scams unearthed by the special audit team of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The groups claimed that the cunning reply sent and publicised by Rodrigues only addressed selective portions of the MHA audit.

The so-called 700 pages of the report actually did not address any of the specific objections of the MHA and more than 90 per cent of the reply was nothing but annexure of old unconnected documents, they asserted.

“Yesterday we called up and also put a formal request to the office of the Prime Minister as well as the Home Minister for an urgent appointment,” said HS Johl, president of the Mani Majra Farmers Welfare and Environment Protection Society.

“Rodrigues has openly challenged the authority of the Government of India and this proves what we have been saying all along that he has no faith in the government and no respect for the Constitution or the law of the land. He has now accused the MHA of getting the audit done wrongly and instead of accepting the serious irregularities, corruption and misuse of power, he is questioning the authority of the Home Ministry as if he is a dictator or the king of Chandigarh operating outside the authority of the Union of India,” Johl said.

Social activist Hemant Goswami said, “The five years of Rodrigues have been the ‘darkest period’ in the history of Chandigarh. He violated the entire urban and rural planning of Chandigarh and pushed Chandigarh to the brink of ecological disaster and even urban catastrophe.”

MP Singh, an affected landowner, stated, “Rodrigues started a personal war against the agitating land owners and farmers. He forcibly and unlawfully acquired their land as vendetta and in total violation of the Chandigarh master plan, transferring the land to his businessman friends.”

Goswami said, “It is surprising that in the reply to the government, he is mentioning the farmers and rightful owners of land (who have lawfully inherited it or purchased it) as ‘fat cats’ and rich companies like Infosys, Parsavnath, DLF, Unitech, etc as ‘have-nots’. He is trying to justify the stealing of land from lawful owners to big companies having surplus of hundreds of crores in the name of public good.”

“Cases against the Administrator and the other bureaucrats who facilitated the fraud, corruption and plundering should be immediately registered. The Home Ministry and the CVC have already found that besides corruption, there has been massive abuse of authority and major violations of laws, rules and regulations,”

Nimma Suri of the Mani Majra Environment Protection Society said.



HUDA set to allot 2,070 flats to slum-dwellers
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 18
Taking a step towards making Panchkula a slum-free district, HUDA is all set to allot 2,070 flats to the residents of Azad colony, Kharak Monagoli, and Madrasi colony. While 82 allotment letters have already been issued to the residents of Maturam colony, the process for allotment to others was in progress as a total of 220 applications were received from this colony.

A total of 1,067 applications were received from residents of Azad colony also, said HUDA Estate Officer Dr SS Saini. However, only 617 of them fulfilled the terms and conditions put up by the government, he said. These applicants would be issued the letters as soon as the scrutiny of their documents was completed, said Saini. Similarly, only 110 applicants from Maturam colony were found eligible, he said.

The district administration has decided to construct more than 7,000 two-room houses for slums-dwellers of Panchkula, Pinjore and Kalka, under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme for which a sum of Rs 52.62 crore has already been approved by the Central government.

Under the programme while 20 per cent of total cost will be borne by the house owners, the state government will fund the rest of the Rs 65.77-crore project. The implementation of the scheme will not only help in the face lift of the district, it will also benefit HUDA as the authority will be able to get its prime land back, which has been usurped by slums.

At present, Panchkula has one dozen slums areas with a population of more than 43,000. These include Azad Colony, Matu Ram Colony, Ramesh Kumar Colony, Babu Ram Colony, Madrasi Colony, Makhan Singh Colony, Ambedkar Colony, Kharag Mangoli, Sham Lal Colony, Rajiv Colony and Indira Colony. As of now, there was around 87 acre of land encroached upon by slum-dwellers was under the court stay in Panchkula town only.



GMADA, MC fail to take on maintenance of road
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, November 18
A Rs 5-crore road project, completed more than seven months ago, has become nobody’s baby with both the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority

(GMADA) and the Municipal Council failing to take on the maintenance of the road.

The sector-dividing road measuring about 3.5 km from the UT boundary to the end of Sector 71 was extended and beautified by GMADA at a cost of about Rs 5 crore.

BSNL authorities have caused extensive damage to a newly constructed footpath along the road while undertaking cable -laying work. Both the civic body and GMADA are not aware of as to who gave them the green light for the work. Even the centre verge of the road is badly damaged at one point and wild growth can be seen along it.

GMADA officials pointed out that the work of maintaining the road was the job of the council and the charge of the road was given to the civic body after a joint inspection by the officials of both departments was held on July 28.

While the council officials admitted that a joint inspection was held but claimed that GMADA had so far failed to fix any schedule for handing over the charge and had also not provided details about the trees planted along the roadside and any layout plan of the storm water sewer line, which was shifted when the road was widened by GMADA.

It is learnt that GMADA had written a letter to the executive officer of the civic body on July 8 in which it was stated that the BSNL had dug up nearly 6-ft long pits at a distance of about every 10-ft along the footpath starting from the UT boundary to the SCL Chowk.

The chequered tiles used on the footpath were broken at the time of laying the cable with the help of a machine causing extensive damage to the footpath. It was also pointed out in the letter that the matter had been brought to the notice of the civic body authorities earlier as well.

The letter further stated that GMADA had not given any permission to the BSNL for the work of laying the cable and instead the department concerned was asked to get in touch with the council in this regard and it was likely that the civic body must have given the permission for the work. It is therefore requested that the Telephone Department be asked to get the pits filled and replace the damaged tiles on the footpath.

A similar request was again made by GMADA through a letter dated July 20.

However, an official of the engineering wing of the council said that no permission was given for the work to the BSNL by the civic body as the area was with GMADA so far. 



In Mohali space being grabbed with impunity 
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, November 18
Encroachers here are getting bolder by the day with the Municipal Council short of staff, lack of readily available police assistance for the job and interference by political leaders in eviction drives.

With the civic body authorities proving to be virtually ineffective in the removal of offenders, space is being grabbed with impunity in the town. The encroachers include shopkeepers, rehriwallahs and fruit sellers.

Verandahs in almost all markets are being blocked with goods by shopkeepers causing inconvenience to people. In the Phase I market, the situation has worsened to the extent that two-wheelers are seen parked in verandahs and in Phase IV, near Madanpur chowk, the rear of houses are being used for commercial activity and the roadside has been converted into an illegal furniture market and an area for vehicle repairs.

After the issue related to encroachments was raised at almost every meeting of the council, a committee was formed to look into the problem and suggest ways of tackling the problem. The panel had suggested that the civic body should challan offenders; the penalty amount should be hiked; an anti-encroachment drive should be carried out after 5 pm; and municipal employees should be put on duty on a rotation basis so that vested interests did not develop.

Municipal councillor Kuljit Singh Bedi, who was a member of the committee, said the council had not implemented the recommendations of the committee and the problem of encroachment was unchecked. Market verandahs remained encroached upon by shopkeepers, especially those selling sweets and sanitary ware.

On September 22, the council had issued notices to 16 shopkeepers, who had encroached upon market verandahs giving them two days’ time to vacate the area failing which action would be taken against them under Section 173 of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911. However, the notices were not taken seriously by the shopkeepers, who failed to vacate the verandahs.

A Phase V shopkeeper, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said if a colleague used a market verandah to store goods for the sake of convenience or to “increase shop visibility to attract customers,” others tended to follow suit. This led to the cluttering of verandahs, which, under the bylaws, were for public use.

Employees of the tehbazari wing of the council, however, said that the encroachments could not be removed in many cases because of political interference and the shortage of staff.

At times only three daily-wage workers were provided to employees to help remove encroachments from market verandahs.

If the goods of a few shopkeepers were removed during a drive, allegations were levelled against the anti-encroachment staff that they were resorting to pick- and-choose action.

Moreover, there had been occasions when council employees on anti-encroachment duty had even been attacked by offending shopkeepers as there were no security arrangements. 



Scientists stress on better use of research funds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
To give an impetus to the use of herbal products in healthcare, over 200 experts from across the country are attending the 30th annual conference of Indian Association of Biomedical Scientists here today.

In his inaugural address, Chief Controller, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Dr W Selvamurthy said the Central government has decided to allocate two per cent of the GDP for scientific research and development.

Terming it as a huge increase in funding, he said availability of funds was now no longer a problem for good research programmes, but funds should be utilised properly.

He advised scientists to shed passiveness in their approach to research and be forthcoming in advising the government and policy making agencies in their approach to matters of national interest.

He said the research should not be limited to authoring technical papers, but should culminate in products that can be of use to society. He said there was a need to have a strong interface with the industry as effective connectivity and networking between research institutions and organisations.

Dr Selvamurthy also emphasised on using herbal medicines in synergy with allopathic system of diagnosis.

The conference, based upon the theme of Herbal Healers for Health” was organised, by Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), Leh.

DIHAR Director Dr Shashi Bala Singh said while there were about 17,000 herbal plants in India, yet the country had just a three per cent share in the world market, whereas a neighbouring country with just 5,000 herbal plants had captured 30 per cent of the global market.

She said collaborative effort of Indian scientists and research organisations pertaining to study of herbal healers was required. She also emphasised upon the need for converting basic research on herbs into pharmaceuticals through pre-clinical and clinical trials.

Several technical sessions where experts would be presenting papers and debating related matters are also on the agenda of the three-day conference.



City laureate to address religious scholars
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, November 18
An eminent scholar from the city has got the honour to address the International Parliament for World Religions. Incidentally, it is the same forum where Swami Vivekanand created history in the September 1893 session by glorifying the grandeur of Indian cultural heritage. Scholar Dr Harnam Singh Shan has been invited to address the Parliament of World Religions in Melbourne, to be held between December 2 and 10.

Shan will present his paper on the “Universality of Sri Guru Granth Sahib” to over 8,000 religious scholars.

Shan is regarded as one of India’s and Sikhism’s top scholar in the world today. At the ripe age of 87, he is credited with 87 publications, 234 research papers, 67 book reviews and monographs.

“So Says Guru Granth Sahib- An Analytical and Comprehensive Dictionary of the Thought of the Sacred Sikh Scripture: Guru Granth Sahib”, running into 1,428 pages (Punjabi University, Patiala), is a masterpiece of his genius.



HUDA sleeps over encroachments
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 18
With encroachments upon roads and markets rampant in the town, it seems that the enforcement wing of the Haryana Urban Development Authority is in slumber.

Shopkeepers have encroached upon roadsides, causing inconvenience to the public.

Even as roadsides are being encroached upon with impunity, HUDA is yet to take any action against encroachers.

Openings in front of big showrooms at Sector 9 have been blocked with walls instead of shutters.

Shopkeepers have allotted open spaces outside their shops to other vendors for selling goods.

Even after repeated complaints poured in from residents, HUDA officials did not pay any heed to their plight.

In fact, the lower-rank officials in HUDA enforcement wing were in collusion with the offenders, alleged Sanjay Sing, a local resident.

“Whenever an enforcement wing visits the market, shopkeepers have prior information about it. They leave the area for a while and after some time the business goes as usual,” he added.

BB Kochhcar, president of the market welfare association, Sector 7, has blamed HUDA officials for the mess.

A majority of shopkeepers were against displaying goods outside their shops. However, with vendors encroaching upon the open space in the market, they were forced to display goods, said Kochhar.

In order to streamline things, HUDA officials should take some serious action against encroachers, he added.

Roads in the town were also dotted with rehris. There is hardly any busy road left, which is not encroached upon by rehriwalas.

At the main markets in Sectors 8, 9 and 10, shopkeepers have blocked the rare openings in front of their showrooms by raising walls instead of shutters.

Shutters at the back side are meant for the emergency exit or for loading/ unloading goods during busy hours so that the routine traffic is not disrupted.

HUDA estate officer SS Saini when contacted said things were in his knowledge and a drive to remove all such encroachments would be initiated in the town very soon.



Reply to RTI pleas on time, orders VC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Crucial directions were given by Vice-Chancellor (VC) RC Sobti to top administrative functionaries in a meeting at the university’s senate hall today. The VC directed the staff to furnish details of questions asked in RTI applications on time.

“I have directed the staff to provide proper information to applicants. At the same time, it is clear that only one question can be asked in one application and the university cannot be forced to give replies,” said Professor Sobti.

“There are various aspects which are meant to be confidential. If a candidate asks me what arrangements I have made for the Prime Minister’s visit, how fair is it? Such confidential security matters are not even shared with members of staff,” he added. The VC reiterated his orders passed in a meeting last month, which was made public today, that the list of 48 items earlier contained in the RTI booklet maintained by the university, barring information not to be disclosed, stood withdrawn.

They were asked to provide the information sought under the RTI Act. The authorities also stated that the Central Information Commission, New Delhi, had been intimated about the order.



School First Day Cover released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
The Department of Posts issued a special First Day Cover on St John’s School, Sector 26, recently. K L Khanna, Chief Postmaster General, Punjab circle, released the cover.

Elaborating on the connection with the school, K L Khanna stated that it was a way of life rather than an institution.

“The values and principles I learnt here have helped me in my entire career and I am grateful to St John’s for helping me imbibe these. The department releases First Day Covers for schools when they complete 50 years and I am lucky that this has happened for St John’s during my tenure.”

The event also saw Justice Ajay Tiwari releasing a golden jubilee brochure of the school amongst the parents and SJOBA members, including SJOBA founding president Mac Sarin.

Also an alumni of St John’s, Justice Tiwari congratulated his alma mater on successful completion of 50 years.



Punjab govt teachers protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 18
Members of the Punjab Government Teachers Union organised a protest dharna demanding a raise in the bar of education and also against the new initiatives promoted by unnecessary bureaucratic interference in the teaching department here today.

They demanded the stopping of unnecessary interference by the Punjab government officials in the department functioning. They also sought that the posts of the Director Public Instruction, (schools) and Director, Public Instructions (private), Punjab, should be regularised.

Prem Rakkar, pre sident of the Government Teachers Union, while addressing the rally in front of the office of DGSE said if bar of education was to be raised, then the Central government in their budget should keep 10 per cent for education department along with new training programmes for teachers. The Right to Education for children should be implemented in the right spirit.

Kulwant Singh Gill, general secretary of the union demanded that fair compensation should be given to Sanjana, the government teacher, who committed suicide at the office of DGSE. The crores of rupees spent on the Jan Shiksha Abhiyan should be stopped and made public.



Workshop on robotics concludes
Our Correspondent

Mohali, November 18
The three-day workshop on robotics Robomania - based on BuLo Robotronics kits - concluded at The Millennium School as students created eight problem-solving robots at the event.

During the workshop, students not only learnt intrinsic fundamentals of robotic machines but even added knowledge to various science and mathematics concepts.

The workshop was held in collaboration with Building Blocks - an experiential learning organisation.

Eight teams, having four participants each, created a robot that solved a particular problem statement of avoiding a boundary enclosure.

At the workshop students were given an opportunity to apply practical knowledge learnt from classroom lectures and books on robots.

During the three days workshop participants learnt about fascinating concepts of science like simple and complex machines, pulleys, levers, two-wheel and four -wheel drives by creating mechanical designs.

They came across idea of logic building and flowchart making by working on sensor programming. They made robots that could follow a line via an artificial logic.

Principal Komal Singh said the winning team would represent the school at the All-India Robotics Challenge. 



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