C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Three kids among 7 buried alive
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

The body of a woman being pulled out.
The body of a woman being pulled out. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 6
Seven persons, including three children, were buried alive when a tipper carrying debris fell into a trench at a dumping site in Sector 31 here this afternoon.

The rescue operation, which started around 1 pm, carried on late into the night. The authorities floodlit the spot and were trying to find victims, suspected to be buried under the debris.

The victims, who were labourers, earned their living by segregating the debris consisting of building material. They broke heavy concrete slabs to extract iron rods, bricks and other material. According to eyewitnesses, the incident occurred around 12 pm when over a dozen labourers rushed to the trenches on seeing the tipper offload the debris.

Those who died have been identified as Chandrawati (35), Jani (9), Rajwati (35), Sukha (13), Chanderkesh (12), Jai Parkash (25) and Neeraj (13). Those injured are Indrawati (30) and her husband Bhagirath (35). They hail from Muradabad in UP and live in labour colonies at Phase 11, Mohali, and Jagtapura village, DSP (South) Jaswant Singh Khaira stated.

A victim being taken to hospital from the dumping site in Sector 31, Chandigarh, on Sunday.
A victim being taken to hospital from the dumping site in Sector 31, Chandigarh, on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

The labourers, in an attempt to get as much material as possible, climbed down the trench under the tipper and stood on concrete slabs covering a drain passing through the area.

The eyewitnesses said the tipper was reversing and the soft earth caved in, following which the tipper fell into the trench. The debris fell on the drain, which collapsed under its weight and the labourers fell into the drain.

The SSP, SS Srivastva, said the police was informed about the incident at 12.40 pm and it called for rescue teams of the MC. Doctors and paramedical staff from the Sector 16 Government Multi Speciality Hospital and the GMCH were also pressed into the service.

  • The police had a tough time controlling mediapersons and onlookers. It had arguments with some photojournalists who caused hindrance in the rescue operation.
  • Air Force personnel and volunteers of Dera Sacha Sauda assisted with medical aid and helped rescuers remove the debris.
  • One of the survivors, Bhagirath, was rescued after over four hours. He was buried head-down and had helped the rescuers.

Three cranes were deployed to prevent the tipper from further slipping into the trench and a heavy-duty crane was used to pull it up. The entire rescue operation was conducted manually as the authorities feared that using JCB machines may cause injuries to victims buried under the debris.

The DC, Brijendra Singh, said an ex-gratia relief of Rs 1 lakh had been announced from the Red Cross fund for the kin of those dead while Rs 50,000 each had been announced for the families of the three children. The authorities had also announced a relief of Rs 25,000 for the injured.

The police has registered a case of causing death due to negligence against the unidentified driver of the tipper, who reportedly fled the spot.



Financier’s Murder
Accomplices of prime accused nabbed
Tribune News Service

The accused involved in the murder of financier Harjinder Singh Dhillon being taken to hospital for medical examination in Chandigarh on Sunday.
The accused involved in the murder of financier Harjinder Singh Dhillon being taken to hospital for medical examination in Chandigarh on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 6
The police today arrested suspects who were accompanying Davinder Singh, alias Whiskey, and reportedly involved in the killing of a Sector 20 financier, Harjinder Singh Dhillon, on November 25.

The DIG (Headquarters), Mahabir Singh, said acting on a tip-off, a team of the special crime investigation cell nabbed Manpreet Singh, alias Manu, of Fatehgarh Sahib, Surinder Singh, alias Maana, Amrik Singh and Kuldeep Singh of Ludhiana from near the cremation ground in Sector 25.

During their interrogation, they disclosed that on November 25, they and Whiskey hatched a plan to take away the Ford Fiesta being used by Dhillon. The car was originally registered in Whiskey’s name.

They divulged that they came to Sector 20 in a Ford Endeavour and Amrik Singh remained near the vehicle while the others went to Dhillon’s office, where they had a scuffle. Dhillon raised the alarm, after which Whiskey pulled out his illegal weapon and fired a shot at him.

They also admitted to have snatched the mobile phones of Dhillon’s employee, Simmi Sharma, and the manager of the State Bank of India, Rajiv Sharma. When they arrived, they noticed a police control room vehicle in the market and after waiting for a while, Whiskey called them, asking for another car.

They drove away in a Skoda belonging to a friend of Amrik Singh. They claimed that they were not old associates of Whiskey and did not know much about him. Kuldeep was into the sale and purchase of cars while the other accused were drivers.

The police said the accused were coming from Ludhiana in a Ford Endeavour when nabbed. The police gathered information about their mobile call details, apart from culling information from its sources.



Buyers of NRI property may end up clearing dues
Anuja Jaiswal
ribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
Buying property from a nonresident Indian may prove an expensive proposition for the purchaser as he could well end up paying for the ‘profits’ made by the seller, in case the latter decides to scoot from the country without clearing his dues with the income tax department.

The department has initiated recovery proceedings for Rs 150 lakh against buyers of five such NRI properties in Jalandhar as the sellers did not clear their dues on the capital gains made by them. Buyers of NRI properties in the city too could well be heading for such treatment as the IT department’s international taxation wing has asked the UT administration to furnish details of all such transactions that have taken place in the city in the past few years. In fact, the department has also asked the administration to make furnishing of such details a yearly feature.

"The department will no longer be a silent spectator. We have already sent notices under section 201 of the IT Act to defaulters,” said a senior official, adding almost Rs 150 lakh along with interest will be recovered from purchasers who had bought properties from NRIs in Jalandhar.

According to section 201 (1A) of the Income Tax Act, if a person is held responsible for nondeduction of tax as required under the act, he will be liable to pay simple interest at the rate prescribed under this section on the amount of such tax from the date on which such tax was deductible up to the date on which such tax is actually paid. It may be mentioned that sections 201 (1) and 201 (1A) operate simultaneously.

Meanwhile, the IT department has received information regarding sale/purchase of immovable property for fiscal 2006-07. Most NRIs are not aware that their tax liability does not depend on their nationality but on their residential status. If someone spends less than 182 days in India during a financial year, he is a nonresident. This means any income he earns outside India is not taxed in India but if he has made capital gains from rent in the country then he is supposed to pay tax to the IT department.



Education Dept Projects-III
Despite shortcomings, pvt schools preferred
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
When most of the city’s government schools are found to be lacking in one aspect or another, what do residents seeking ‘quality education’ opt for? “Private schools, naturally” came the answer from a top education department official. He casually added: “Those who have enough money should send their kids to private schools as I can’t say with certainty when government schools will improve”.

Though the administration has been highlighting serious ‘irregularities’ in private schools yet it has not been able to goad a majority of parents to pull out their children from private schools. “They don’t trust government schools to offer the quality of education which they would like their children to receive”, the official said.

Does this mean hapless parents will continue to pay a huge amount in fees and charges for miscellaneous ‘funds’ of private schools without any regulation of these schools by the administration?

“Without naming any private school it is a known fact that money is top on their agenda. A portion of the fees charged under different heads appears totally unjustified. There seem no answers as to how this money was ploughed back into education”, said Anuradha Sharma, a parent.

”Lets start from admission funds. It’s not only tuition fees, the list of school ‘funds’ seems to be growing longer and the charges heavier. Purchasing books from a particular shop also falls in the same league. Private schools should also give parents a choice to buy school uniforms instead of from just one designated vendor”, said Avnish Dagar, a bank manager.

“Certain schools collect ‘building funds’ even though they are found to be the biggest violators of building bylaws including absence of fire safety facilities. The list includes certain prominent schools in the city”, said a parent, requesting anonymity.

She added: “The so-called quality and result-oriented education is being imparted by nonqualified teachers hired at unapproved payscales, with most of them being paid a pittance. Every year the schools increase tuition fees with the virtually nonexistent PTA associations unable to do anything but watch silently.”

Even though ‘health funds’ are collected to ensure the well being of students in schools, most of the time the promised regular medical checkups are never conducted. A majority of the schools have not appointed any regular doctors and a sizeable number do not have any inhouse councillors.

One of the most noteworthy efforts to redress the situation was led by former DPI (S) SK Setia who asked private schools to furnish their balance sheets. The task was then taken up by the current home secretary who directed officials, including those of the education and fire departments and the estate office to visit these schools and apprise him of any lapses. The schools were also asked to abide by their land allotment conditions by having the requisite EWS reservation. However, following the notifications it appears no further progress has been made on these matters.

Also, while the administration kept on stressing the need to regulate school admissions, nothing of that sort is happening in the ongoing nursery admissions. The schools have dismissed all this as a move to “seek publicity” and as “interference”.



PU exams put off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
Panjab University has postponed the examinations for law and engineering scheduled for tomorrow following curfew in Ludhiana. The orders are applicable to Chandigarh, Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana centres. Election of the Dean (Faculties) has also been put off. The new dates would be announced soon, an official of the university stated.



MC toothless on Advertisement Act
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
Even as the municipal corporation launched a drive yesterday to remove advertisement hoardings from different places of the city, the Advertisement Act of the civic body largely remains toothless.

In the absence of poor implementation of the Act, little action is taken against companies putting up advertisements or hoardings without the permission of the MC, tarnishing the beauty of the city.

As per the records of the corporation, more than 2,500 notices were issued to various companies for the violation of this Act last year. Most of the companies had put up advertisements or hoardings without the permission of the authorities to avoid paying any fee to the corporation.

According to the Advertisement Act, if any company puts up hoardings without the permission of corporation, the authorities could only remove it by issuing notice to the company concerned, but there is no provision of charging any penalty from the violators.

Sources said the companies do not bother for such notices, as they are aware that the corporation cannot impose any penalty on them for this violation. It has become a routine practice for local companies that even after corporation employees remove their hoardings, they again put it up on the same place in the city.

Even the authorities have not bothered to constitute a special team, which could conduct routine surprise checks in the city for the violation of Advertisement Act. Interestingly, various departments of the corporation keep on passing the buck on each other by shirking their responsibility on this issue.

The enforcement department pleads that it is not their responsibility to keep a check on the advertisement violators. Similarly, the road wing, which gives permission for putting up the hoardings, says it has no infrastructure and manpower to conduct such drives in the city.

Sources revealed that the Chandigarh Administration had asked the corporation to prepare Chandigarh Advertisement Control Order 2009 in which provisions should be made to impose heavy penalty on the violators of this order and charge double rates from the companies concerned if their security period lapses. But this order is yet to be approved by the administration.



Humility personified
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, December 6
“Be original and try to be better than others, or at least be different form others,” said superstar Shatrughan Sinha as friendly advice to those amateur artistes who performed at the Rafi memorial nite here.

He repeatedly lauded young versatile singer Ankit Balhara, who stole the show along with another artiste Ram Tirath.

Shatrughan rose to hug Ankit in all admiration at the nite, organised by the Yaadgaar-e-Rafi Society at the Tagore Theatre tonight.

Earlier music-loving fans of Mohammad Rafi thronged the theatre in large numbers, with every inch of space being occupied.

The superstar was an epitome of simplicity and humility as due the rush, he preferred to sit on the floor, much to the delight of the audience and photo-journalists.

He lit the lamp, accompanied by Manpreet Singh Badal, a Punjab minister, who presided over the function.

Shatrughan remained absorbed in songs presented by amateur singers, including winners of the competition held in July last.

Most of the singers doled out melodies of the 1960s, when many of them were not born, but the compelling charm of melodious songs immortalised by the legend was irresistible, said Shakshar (15), winner in the juniors’ category.

Shatrughan was seen relishing soulful strains of music and acclaiming the artistes, but apparently showed displeasure over wrong notes, which reflected in his speech later.

As many as 30 songs were rendered. He gave away prizes to the winners and lauded the efforts of the society.

He presented a special prize and a cash award of 3,100 to Sheenu, a promising singer, in memory of the late BM Kalia, founder member and former chairman of the society.

In a forceful and captivating speech, Shatrughan paid rich tributes to the genius of Mohd Rafi, citing many memorable moments.

He exhorted fellow politicians to emulate the ethics practised by Mohd Rafi, who had worked for genuine producers without money.

Manpreet hailed the humility and uprightness of Mohd Rafi and talked about the making of Roshan Lal Nagrath, once ‘khidmatgaar’ to legendary music director Roshan.

The winners honoured today included Chander Kant, Balwinder Singh, Vinay Kumar, Priyanka Singh, Sukhna Singh, Suman Rani, Shakshar Sharma, Navjeet Singh, Harnoor Bhullar, Ankit, Yaur Kapur, Puneet Kaur, Asawari, Rishu Kapur and Deeksha Rathi.



Hardline ideologies at root of problems: Bhagwat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh December 6
The twin tasks of strengthening the country and integrating Indian society are essential for the survival of the civilised world and the RSS is committed to these tasks, RSS sarsanghchalak Moharao Bhagwat said here today at his first public programme.

Addressing RSS workers and citizens, Bhagwat said the survival of the world required a tolerant and sensitive approach, for which neither doctrinaire liberals and Left ideologues, nor religions that believed in the dictum “we alone hold the true knowledge”, were equipped.

He said votaries of socialism and capitalism had not been able to deliver on their promises and the growth of science and technology had not brought peace of mind to humanity.

He said as the oldest civilisation, India has to show the way to the world as it had the civilisational experience to do this.

He said hardline ideologies, whether political or religious, were at the root of almost all problems of the world today. These were not prepared to accommodate the true freedom of thought and action to all. On the other hand, Indian thought had always been accommodating all religious beliefs, even agnosticism.

Explaining the action plan of the RSS in furthering this process, Bhagwat said the RSS had been working to integrate Indian society for the past 84 years and had been striving to make society free from considerations of caste with a value system aimed at bringing together all sections of society for the common good of all.

Talking about the need to strengthen India, Bhagwat said experience in Uganda, Fiji and Australia had shown that Indians were not safe anywhere. Unless we made India strong, we could not be safe, he quipped.

The RSS programme was attended by a large number of citizens of Chandigarh from various walks of life. Senior RSS functionaries Bajrang Lal Gupta, Sita Ram Vyas, Brij Bhushan Singh Bedi and Kartar Singh were present on the dais.



Experts dwell on causes of hepatitis-C
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
The ninth PGI-AIIMS session on “Current Perspectives in Liver Disease-2009” was organised at the PGI here yesterday.

The session was inaugurated by Prof KK Talwar, director of the institute. Prof B K Tandon, one of the senior most gastroenterologists in India, was the chief guest on the occasion.

Tandon said, “How would you feel if the blood donated by you is discarded by the blood bank because you have been detected with hepatitis-C virus? It may be possible that you never come to know about the disease until your liver stops functioning and then it is too late to be cured. This is a situation that one may have to face in case of being affected by hepatitis-C virus.”

He said, “Hepatitis-C, which is a ‘silent epidemic’ means inflammation of the liver. It can be caused by viral infections, parasites, bacteria, chemicals, auto-immunity drugs or alcohol. Of these, viral infection is the most common cause of chronic (long term) hepatitis.”

At present five types of viral hepatitis-A, B, C, D and E have been identified. All these viruses can cause an acute disease with symptoms lasting several weeks, including yellowing of skin and eyes (jaundice), dark urine, extreme fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, muscle and joint pains, vomiting and abdominal pain.

He said hepatitis A and E were self-limiting viral hepatitis, whereas Hepatitis B and C could lead to chronic liver diseases like cirrhosis and many other complications of liver. “HCV (hepatitis-C virus) produces ongoing inflammation in the liver over the years,” he said.

HCV is caused mainly through blood transfusion and is detected by a blood test. This test looks for the presence of anti-bodies to the virus.

He said one could have hepatitis-C if he/she had a blood transfusion before screening, had a tattoo or body piercing, shared a tooth brush or a razor and had any needle stick injuries.

Prof YK Chawla, head of the hepatology department, PGI, Chandigarh, and Prof SK Acharya, head of the gastroenterology department, AIIMS, New Delhi, said such meetings should be organised in order to share rapid advancements occurring in the field of hepatology.

Talwar, in his inaugural address deliberated upon history of the department of hepatology and urged the department to initiate liver transplant programme at the institute.

The academic session started with a talk on guidelines needed for the management of chronic hepatitis B by Prof Bill Griffiths from Cambridge, the UK. This was followed by a talk on the management of relapser and non-responders in hepatitis C by Prof V Saraswat from SGPGIMS, Lucknow. The session also included discussion on guidelines on chronic hepatitis B by Prof S P Singh from Cuttack and management of drug resistance in hepatitis B by Prof Anil Arora from New Delhi.

Major Facts

  • 12 million Indians are estimated to be carrying the hepatitis-C virus

  • One in every five persons around the world gets exposed to risks leading to hepatitis-C

  • According to the WHO, more than 180 million people worldwide are infected with the disease

  • Approximately 30 per cent people with HIV are also infected with hepatitis-C

  • There are treatments available for hepatitis-C

  • Some people can even be cured. A simple blood test can detect the disease



Nobody seems to be listening

Crossing Dara Studio in Phase VI of Mohali, I was shocked to see a pipe leaking for the past nearly six months. I have talked to certain municipal council members, at least three times, but to no avail. Since my assignment locations change every time, I do not visit the same site daily, thinking the job must have been handled.

Crossing the site this Sunday, I was forced to stop at the site. A labourer was washing his clothes. I asked him whether any official was available near the site for a formal complaint on a working day. He smiled and replied, “I have been using the tap for the past nearly six months and no one has come here till date”. (See picture)

Begging business

If there is one business that seems to have survived the recent ‘recession’ in the city and is still blooming, it has to be begging, for the number of beggars here has not just increased, but almost doubled in the past one year. At a time when corporate houses are in for cost-cutting, their additions come cost-free.

These ‘entrepreneurs’, who come in all age groups, have worked out their ‘business strategy’ so well that all efforts by the administration, NGOs and the police to tackle them have resulted in a big zero. Consequently, one is just constantly bugged by beggars, who carry out their ‘business’ successfully from every traffic light point across the city.

They may be illiterate, but they understand when to approach a car and within seconds, they accomplish their ‘jobs’ and rush back to the nearest safe spot. The ‘operations’ have been going on for years now, so much so that one starts identifying a few of them with specific traffic signals. May be next time, they will also get their share at the Chandigarh Pavilion at the International Trade Fair so that visitors can have something other than Le Corusier’s legacy to appreciate.

Stadium blues

Damaged roads in and around Tau Devi Lal Stadium, Sector 3, Panchkula, wild growth of Congress grass outside the boundary wall and blackened white coat on the outer walls of the buildings in the cricket stadium speak of the lackadaisical approach of the authorities in maintaining the international stadium in the district. Though hope for the only stadium in the district was revived after the start of Indian Cricket League matches as large crowds appeared at the stadium to witness Twenty20 matches. But after the ICL championship, the stadium was left to fend for itself.

Though different clubs organise cricket tournaments at the venue, that is not enough to generate funds for the upkeep of the stadium. The cricket ground, athletics track and indoor stadia have been well-maintained by the authorities in spite of the paucity of funds. Will cricket stars like Kapil Dev come forward to request the BCCI to organise a couple of Tests or one-day matches here, which will help in generating more funds for its upkeep.

NHAI to blame

Crores spent on widening of the Chandigarh-Ambala national highway by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) seems to be going down the drain, thanks of faulty engineering of the NHAI. The number of accidents on the national highway is increasing with each passing day. There have been two accidents at Zirakpur, including a close shave for the SSP when he was visiting the site.

While undertaking the mammoth task of widening, the NHAI did not bother to provide a slow carriageway and separate lanes for parking trucks while paying sales tax. As a result, trucks are parked on the road, causing accidents. A number of illegal openings on the highway are also causing accidents as motorists use those as shortcuts.

‘Dead’ man booked

The Chandigarh police never fails to surprise newspaper readers with funny anecdotes. The latest happened in case of the death of Kishan in a majority of newspapers on Sunday. The same evening, newspaper offices received copies of a press note from the police headquarters, saying he had been booked under Section 307 for attempt to murder. He had allegedly thrown stones. One wonders what trial could be conducted on a man who was dead.

Contributed by Sanjeev Singh Bariana, Smriti Sharma Vasudeva, Sanjay Bumbroo, Rajmeet Singh and Ramanjit Singh Sidhu



Water still a problem in Mohali villages
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Residents show the water storage facility at Kandala village, which has not been operational since 2006 due to the non-availability of a power connection.
Residents show the water storage facility at Kandala village, which has not been operational since 2006 due to the non-availability of a power connection. A Tribune photograph

Kandala (Mohali), December 6
Claims of the Akali government regarding the augmentation of potable water notwithstanding, several villages in the periphery of Mohali are still facing water scarcity.

It seems that either water storage tanks are awaiting electricity connection or damaged supply lines require repair. Alternative erratic water is being supplied from other villages, but the yellow water from hand pumps is unfit for drinking.

Residents of Dharamgarh, Cheurheri, Papri, Chilla, Chachoamjra and Kambala protested against the water supply wing of the Punjab public health department today. At Kandala village, the water tank has not been operational since 2006 as there is no electricity connection. A former MLA, Bir Devinder, had laid the foundation stone of the water works meant to feed Kandala and Cheurheri villages.

At Papri village, supply lines have been lying damaged since 2006 during the construction of a bridge between Papri and Chachomajra villages. Another neighbouring village, Chila, is getting water from Mauli village as the land meant for the water storage facility could not be acquired. “The water supply comes for half hour and in summer, the situation is worse,” Dr Jasdeepak Singh, a resident of Kandala, stated.

Regarding the quality of water from hand pumps, Satvinder Singh, a resident of Papri village, said due to sewage mixing with seasonal rivulets flowing through the villages, the hand pump water had been contaminated. As per the national drinking water programme, there should be one stand post for every 250 persons and the water source should exist within the habitation or a distance of 1.6 km.



Cancer support group meets tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
“About 60 per cent of cancer is completely curable if treated at an early stage, but unfortunately, a majority of patients suffering from cancer approach the specialist late, when only palliative treatment can be given,” Renu Saigal, president of Cancer Sahayta Sahyog, said while addressing the media here today.

She said the eighth general body meet of Cancer Care India (CACI), the apex body of regional cancer support groups from across the country, would be held in the city on December 8.

The group’s core focus was ways to detect the disease early and organise continuing medical education seminars to update general practitioners about the symptoms of various types of cancers.

The national cancer registry indicated that there would be approximately 8,00,000 new cancer cases in India every year. So, high on the agenda was to evolve a unified strategy to prevent, detect and treat cancer. She said the government should ensure better coordination of primary, tertiary and speciality hospitals for treatment at an early stage.

The event would comprise of two expert sessions and a cultural programme would also be held where cancer survivors would present a fashion show and cancer afflicted children would dance.

Kiran Chaudhary, former tourism minister, Haryana, would be the chief guest. The event would also mark cancer awareness walk on December 9.



INSA fellowship for city scientist
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
Dr Javed N Agrewala, a scientist at the Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTECH) here, has been chosen as a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy.

President Pratibha Devisingh Patil will confer the fellowship at the platinum jubilee ceremony of Indian National Science Academy in Kolkata tomorrow.

A recipient of Shanti Swarup Award for Medical Sciences and Bioscience Award in 2006, Dr Agrewala, has been working on the activation of T cell and B cell of human blood at the academy here.

Based on the findings of his group, a US-based pharmaceutical company has developed a therapy for those suffering from refractory and relapsed follicular lymphomas.

Dr Agrewala has also discovered the immunosuppressive property of bioactive molecule Caerulomycin A. Study of the properties of Caerulomycin A makes it an excellent material for development of an immunosuppressive drug used in organ transplantation, autoimmune diseases and allergies. Dr Agrewala has about 50 research publications in international journals to his credit.



Commuters bear brunt as flyover closed
Tribune News Service

A view of the traffic jam at Zirakpur on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Zirakpur, December 6
The Zirakpur flyover on the Ambala-Chandigarh National Highway has been closed for at least two days as the Zirakpur municipal council is laying an underground sewerage line.

Due to the closure, heavy rush of vehicles led to a traffic jam on the major intersections of the town. The police had a tough time in managing traffic at many places.

MC officials claimed that the work of laying the sewerage line had been started after getting permission from the National Highway Authority of India.

The work would take at least two days for completion and the sewerage line would be connected with the VIP road. The officials added that it was a part of sewerage laying at Zirakpur.

Commuters said they had to face inconvenience on the Zirakpur stretch. The traffic police was posted at various places, but it failed to control vehicular movement.

“I have to go to Panchkula and it is difficult for me to drive back through the traffic jam on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur highway,” said Munish Sharma, a resident of Panchkula.



Babla claims campaign against him
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
Devinder Singh Babla, the councillor who has been on the run for his alleged role in shed allotment at the Grain Market, today sent a representation to the Union Home Minister to save his membership of the civic body.

He alleged that a malicious campaign had been launched by the UT Administrator, who wanted to annul his leave exemption, which was passed by the MC House on November 30.

The leave application was a routine matter under Section 36 of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, and several councillors had been granted leave due to personal reasons in the past, the representation added.



Illegal structures removed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
The enforcement wing of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB), under the protection of a strong police force, removed illegal structures from government land in Sectors 52 and 63 on Friday.

An official spokesman said the enforcement staff of the board led by CHB secretary Jaswinder Kaur conducted the anti-encroachment drive. Three religious structures — a ‘dargah’ and a temple in Sector 63 and a temple in Sector 52 — were demolished during the drive.

The drive that began around noon in Sectors 63 and Sector 52 went off peacefully. SDM (South) Prerna Puri and DSP (South) JS Khera were present during the drive.

Similar drives are likely to be conducted on a regular basis in other areas of the city as well, said the spokesman.



Heated exchanges mark PU Senate meet
Neha Miglani

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
The Panjab University senate meeting today witnessed a series of allegations, clarifications on the use of “unparliamentary” words and apologies being made within the first 40 minutes. Besides the 115 agenda items that were discussed by PU’s general body, certain other issues stirred a lively debate. Surprisingly, members of the two opposing groups remained silent on some issues on which they differed.

This was perhaps the first time in PU senate’s history that the two groups appeared to have quietly entered an “amicable agreement” on certain matters that had been raised during the last two months by both sides.

  • PUTA president accused of using “unparliamentary language,” softens stand later
  • House gave standing ovation to the vice chancellor for bringing funds to the varsity
  • Objections raised on installing cameras during paper checking by teachers
  • Discussion on hurdles and solutions of autonomous status of colleges
  • Discussion on the long route of the files directed to and fro VC office
  • Debate on whether the prize money of prestigious AC Joshi and KK Grover memorial declamation contests should be raised
  • Heated arguments on entry of students and general public in the visitor’s gallery of senate hall
  • Debate on assistance to new innovative courses in colleges

Within the first few minutes of the meeting, the issue of filling up vacant posts in various departments of the university was brought up in the house.

Vice chancellor RC Sobti read out orders issued by the central human resource & development ministry in 2001 and 2004, which stated no vacant posts in the university should be filled up for teaching positions. After a subsequent change in the norms, the ministry permitted the varsity to fill up some seats on the condition they must be “need based”.

The case was brought up in reference to press releases issued by the Panjab University Teacher’s Association (PUTA) for the past few days.

“Over 300 news seats have been created of which 125 were filled up during my tenure. If the posts are to be filled, even when there is no optimum workload, if this house permits, then the re-employment of teachers will have to stop,” said Sobti.

The vice chancellor also announced the salary arrears for teachers would be released shortly and 50% of the financial audit would be cleared by December 31 this year.

Soon after Sobti stated the university would be the first to receive a Rs 115 grant and the capping of Rs 32 crore had been removed, Shelly Walia, a fellow, appealed to the house to give him a standing ovation for bringing huge funds to the university.

In between all this, a heated argument took place when PUTA president Manjit Singh accused the VC of being a “liar”. This stirred up a controversy and the senate members asked Manjit to “take his words back”.

It was only after the intervention of former PU vice-chancellor RP Bambah that the house calmed down and members ceased levelling charges against each other.

Later, Manjit withdrew his words and softened his stand saying, “Our stand is being misunderstood - when PUTA said a lot of posts are vacant we didn’t mean it literally. It was only to help the VC get more funds for the university.”

During the course of the meeting, some of the issues that were discussed included objection on installation of cameras during paper checking by teachers, issue of raising prize money of the AC Joshi and KK Grover memorial declamation contests, relaxation of entrance exam in certain new innovative courses, the undertaking being demanded by the Punjab government saying colleges would not get money from state if they seek autonomous status and suggestions given on reviewing the hurdles in the semester system in the past.

Meanwhile, HS Lucky and SK Sharma, were elected as the members of board of finance for next year. Lt General BS Dhaliwal, Dr Dayal Pratap Randhawa, Dr ID Gaur, Dr PS Gill, and Dr RPS Josh were elected members of the academic council. The meeting started at 9 am and ended by 5:30pm.

Heated debate

9:11am — Issue of vacant posts of teachers comes up. VC reads out directions of the HRD ministry for 2001 and 2004 saying that only “need based” filling of posts should be done

9:14am — Heated debate begins; VC says he will have to stop reemployment of teachers if such statistics are sent to media by PUTA without giving complete details of the central government’s directions

9:15am — Arguments become intense; discussion on the workload on teachers begins. “How can seats be filled up, when there is no workload?” questioned a fellow

9:15 am — Announcement made that 50% of the financial audit would be cleared by December 31, 2009

9:27am — A fellow says, “There must be some yard-stick to select the reemployed teachers else it will become a back door entry for increasing the retirement age by the university against government’s rules”

9:32am — Prof Manjit Singh calls VC a “liar”; fellows ask him to withdraw the “unparliamentarily language”

9:37am — Finally on the intervention of Prof RP Bambah, house calms down. “As the oldest member of the house, I appeal to the entire house that use of such wrong language is not appropriate. At such a meeting there are bound to be difference of opinions, but do not create an atmosphere where no dialogue is possible,” said the former PU VC.



Open House Response
Private, govt schools are different

IT has been very rightly contested by Sanjeev Singh Bariana in the Open House debate as to why administrative officers at the helm of affairs in managing schools do not put their own kids in government schools in case they argue that everything is normal there. At the same time, no comparison can be made between the two school streams.

Only a welfare state can take care of the poor. A majority of private schools are being run as simple business ventures for profit. The clients of both streams are different.

Before sitting in judgement over the pitiable conditions in government schools, one needs to understand the social backgrounds of students and their parents. While the parent of a student at private schools is concerned about even how the teacher talks, parents of wards at government schools do not even know their sections or teachers.

Anil Dhankad

No clear policy

Even after more than six decades, we do not have a clear education policy. Successive governments have been making experiments such as opening of Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, model schools, adarsh schools, smart schools and public-private partnership, besides others.

The government, in reality, does not seem to have taken serious steps to improve the existing school education system. In fact, not only should sections of acts concerning education be put in dustbins, but the education system needs to be completely overhauled.

SK Khosla

Don’t interfere

Private schools, for years, have been engaged in educating children and have helped the government in its responsibility to provide education to all. With the exception of a few model schools, we all know about the pathetic condition of government schools and their abysmally low annual results. It is time one reflects on the reasons for their deplorable state. One wonders if there is a lack of will or expertise.

The annual hue and cry over the increase of fee structure by private schools is unfair and unjustified, keeping in view the infrastructure, amenities and salaries and other expenditure. Interference and enforcement of tough rules on private schools is not only unjustified, but also discouraging.

S Walia

Right thing to do

The article ‘Independence of private schools needs to be assessed’ by Sanjeev Singh Bariana (Open House, Chandigarh Tribune, November 23) is apt and timely. It is really shocking that children of a private school in Chandigarh are being taught pornography. This indecent act of the teacher in question is unacceptable.

If the parent of a child has complained to the authorities against such teaching, which is vulgar in nature, he has done the right thing. This matter must be given a serious thought and all steps should be taken by the authorities concerned to curb this social evil.

It does not matter whether the school under reference is government-aided or not. The administration has every right to act and take action against the school for encouraging vulgarity and corrupting young minds.

RK Kapoor

Mere excuse

I have been a teacher with a private school for the past six years. Teaching at a private school is more demanding than at a government school. At least this is what one of my friends who has been teaching at a government school for the past 10 years tells me.

It is interesting that she chose to put both her children at my school. She said, “I do not want to spoil my children’s future by putting them at a government school.”

I hear that the government is spending about Rs 22 crore on mid-day meals. One must taste the food to have an idea of the horrible taste and poor quality it has.

Unnecessary interference of the UT education department in the affairs of private schools is a mere excuse. All it wants to do is to divert the attention of the people from its own malfunctioning so that no one gets a chance to see the ugly picture of the government schools.

Namrata Jaani

Wrong practice

It is a wrong practice on the part of the Chandigarh administration to meddle in the affairs of private schools as it has failed miserably in improving the standard of education at government schools. My ward, who is a student with a private school, is better equipped to face the challenges of world than her counterpart at government schools.

Despite financial constraints, private schools in Chandigarh have been doing an excellent job in improving the standard of education. The administration should suitably compensate those financially rather than unnecessarily interfere in their day-to-day matters.

Naveen Malhotra

Pressure tactics

In 2002, the Supreme Court, in a landmark judgement concerning the TMA Pai Foundation, held that a private unaided institution should have the maximum autonomy in its day-to-day administration as bureaucratic or government interference in the administration of such an institution would undermine its independence. The essence of a private educational institution’s autonomy is that the institution must have its management and administration.

The essential ingredients of the management of a private institution include enrolling students and recruiting staff. State agencies have the power to lay down conditions for the grant of recognition or affiliation. This is very difficult to accept for people wielding power, political or bureaucratic. The reasons are not difficult to fathom.

Which officer will not like to oblige someone with some ‘help’ in admission or recruitment. In fact, pressure tactics by state agencies on private schools has reached such a level that even recruitment, service conditions and discipline governing the staff of private schools are being indirectly dictated by state agencies.

Hemant Sarin

Biased trial

It is right that private institutions are providing excellent teaching facilities. At the same time, those cannot claim absolute independence from the government.

In case the school administration is under question, how can the complainant be sure of a trial not being biased? The administration is bound to interfere and it has every right to do so.

In the name of freedom, the private schools want to run a parallel administration in terms of charging high fees and exercising total control. The tragedy of the situation is that government schools are not delivering as per expectations, which has resulted in nearly all officers, who can afford it, sending their children to private schools.

Om Prakash Mahajan

Don’t manage

Independent schools are separate identities under CBSE rules. Quality education, good results and excellent infrastructure are government parameters before granting CBSE affiliation.

The government’s role is to govern and not manage private institutions. Management is an internal affair of an institution. Independent unaided schools have no way to raise finances except fees, which the government should understand.

Sarabjit Singh



From Schools
United colours of culture
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 6
Ajit Karam Singh International Public School Sector-65, Mohali, became a hub of events during the annual cultural exhibition-cum-mela “Sangam - different strokes for different folks.”

Sangam depicted various cultures and traditions of different tribes and people of India. The huge field changed into a mini India as various adorned hutments depicted vibrant hues and shades of states like Punjab, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan, Nagaland and Goa.

Jasdeep Kalra, director AKSIP Group of Schools, announced the winners.

Annual day

Students of Heritage Public School, Jagatpura village, here celebrated their second annual day by presenting “Heal the World” to convey the message of environmental degradation.

Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board, Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, was the chief guest.

Tiny-tots of pre-nursery danced to the tunes of “Kisne Banaya Phholan ko”. The issue of river water being polluted was projected through dance.

Chairman of the Avtar Education Trust, Brig Jagdev Singh (retd) announced scholarship for the needy children.



4,000 appear for MAT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
Nearly 4,000 students appeared in the management aptitude test (MAT) examination here today. The test, taken by students aspiring to get through non-IIM MBA institutions, is conducted four times a year.

After the participation of the AICTE-approved institutions and university departments, MAT has picked up. In 2004, the Centre approved it as a national entrance test.

“In December, 84,000 candidates are appearing for the regular test while 6,000 will attempt the online format. We can make it out from this information that a majority of students like the paper-pencil format,” Dr Anshu Kataria, chairman of Aryan Business School, said.

The maths and GK sections were a bit tough and time consuming while reading and comprehension sections were easier than the test held in May and September, Dr Kataria said.

The online MAT would be conducted on December 12.



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