C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Admn continues to lose lakhs
Industrial property resumed more than 15 years ago has not been reallotted till date

Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
In a classic case of losing lakhs as rent money for reasons best known to the Chandigarh Administration, industrial property resumed more than 15 years ago has not been reallotted till date. Nothing has happened on ground besides exchange of official correspondence between the departments of Industries and the Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO).

The agenda item, on the particular issue, for the forthcoming board of directors meeting shortly said “a number of reminders have been sent to the Industries Department, but no response has been received. In the meantime, the audit has also raised objections for not allotting the resumed industrial sheds”.

Of the total, at least two sheds in Industrial Area, Phase I and II, were resumed in 1994, while two sheds in Maloya village were resumed in 1995. In 1995, an allottee of an industrial shed in Hallomajra village had surrendered his allotted shed. All sheds in this category are lying unutilised since then.

A senior official, requesting anonymity, said the issue had cropped up at several meetings of CITCO as well. However, no comprehensive decision could be arrived at. “We understand the revenue loss to the administration as well in case of non-allocation and also have to reply to the audit para.

It has been pointed out that “as per the policy circulated by the Chandigarh Administration in December 1990, the resumed or vacant industrial sheds were required to be notified to the Industries Department for inviting applications”. Thereafter, a clarification was sought from the Industries Department “as to how the sheds resumed by CITCO are to be disposed of. And if possible, grant the permission for the auction of these sheds”.

The applications for the allotment of the sheds were invited by the Director of Industries in March 2000. Official papers said “before the process of allotment could be finalised, the administration intimated that henceforth plots and sheds would be allotted to industrial houses for the promotion of Information technology, precision equipment, manufacturing electronic industry-related projects, by keeping the reserve price close to the market rate or by way of auction”. The modalities were to be announced later.

The papers added that “the matter was then taken up with the administration to convey its modalities for re-allotment. Thereafter, a number of reminders have been sent but there has been no response”.



World-class Stadium
PCA on hunt for 30-50 acres
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 13
In the backdrop of the increasing demand of Mohali residents to save them from utter chaos in the event of a match at the PCA stadium and shifting it outside the populated area of the town, the PCA is looking for 30 to 50 acres for a world-class stadium in the town’s periphery.

“We are ready to pay even the market price for the land. Different private and government agencies have been approached to arrange the land,” said IS Bindra, president of Punjab Cricket Association, while talking to the Tribune here today.

He admitted that present infrastructure could not cope with the parking and other related issues. For the World Cup 2011, the space could fall short, as the PCA stadium was one of the venues selected for the international event.

MP Pandove, PCA secretary, said due to the notified master plans, there was no specified space for a cricket stadium. Getting land in the periphery and getting various permissions would be much easier.

However, sources in the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) told the Tribune that if the government wanted, it could easily provide a large chunk of panchayat land in the town’s periphery.

“If land can be provided for Baba Banda Singh Bahadhur Memorial at Chappar Chidi village, the government can easily earmark land for the world-class stadium,” said an official.

Sports village needed

While drawing the attention of the Punjab Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister to their repeated announcements to set up sports excellence centre at Mohali, Jalandhar and Bathinda, sports lovers said serious efforts should be made to set up a sports village near Mohali. It should have facilities for all kind of sports, including cricket, and should be capable of hosting international events



Schools wake up to Facebook blues
Launch campaign against social networking websites

Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Waking up to the rapid behavioural change in schoolchildren due to the increased access to social networking websites, especially in past one year, counsellors in city’s private schools have launched an “anti-facebook” campaign in their institutions.

Having realised that exposure to these websites are marring students’ concentration power and young minds are more engrossed in “image building” through these websites at an tender age, private schools in the city are taking a step further to educate parents on healthy internet access.

“Recently a student was caught in the class daydreaming and when asked, she confessed that she was wondering what to keep her facebook status today. While some kids ponder over what picture to put on facebook and orkut, others are busy competing with each other on the number of friends they have made on these websites. It is high time that schools wake to the need of educating parents on healthy internet access and how to keep a check on their child,” said Punita Singh, counsellor, Carmel Convent School, Sector 9.

On Saturday, a seminar - Bridging gaps - was conducted in Carmel Convent, where parents of class XI students were educated on how excessive use of such websites are hampering their child’s creative instincts.

There is lack of response from students in the class and even discussions on ambitions, quest for solving puzzles and reading fiction novels has fast been replaced by posting scraps on social networking websites, say student counsellors in the city.

“Through a presentation, parents were told how to take care of their adolescent child and how much freedom needs to be given at this age. It’s only since last one year that such problems have come to light due to increased access on social networking websites and it is dangerous. Students no longer talk about their aim in life. They are more interested in building an image through such websites,” said Singh.

The recurring complaints about parent-chid relationship, friendship problems and lack of concentration power are said to be the grounds of such initiatives by schools.

“I was shocked to find that my son, who is just 9 years old, was on facebook, which is supposed to be used only by adults above 18 years of age,” said Varinder, a parent.



2-yr-old killed in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 13
A two-year-old child was killed, while two others were seriously injured when a truck hit their motorcycle near Mansa Devi Singh Dwar here today.

According to the police, Raupesh Pawar, a constable with Engineering Regiment at Chandi Mandir, was returning back home with his wife Mayuri and son Ayush on the motorcyle after watching circus from Mani Majra when the truck while taking turn towards Mansa Devi Complex hit their motorcycle.

While, the child died on the spot, the injured were admitted to the Command Hospital.

The police has arrested truck driver, Santosh, and Ayush’s body was sent for a post-mortem.



When it comes to Army ranks, city draws a blank
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
India’s most modern city may be full of serving and retired armed forces officers, but when it comes to the rank and file, it draws a blank. Not a single individual has been recruited into the ranks since 2006.

A handful of persons, though, have enrolled into the Air Force and the Navy. Data on recruitment of personnel below officer rank in the three services released by the Ministry of Defence a few days ago revealed that the 15 persons who joined the Air Force last year was Chandigarh’s only contribution to the armed forces in the year.

Only six persons from Chandigarh have joined the Navy in the last four years, while the total number of those who opted for the IAF ranks since 2006 was just 67. None chose to join the Army in the ranks.

Defence sources said Chandigarh was a highly urban city with a relatively small and well-educated population. The rank and file of the services, specially the Army is largely rural-based and draws its strength from the hinterland and areas where the unemployment rate is high.

Though the rank and file of the services seems to be alien to Chandigarh, the city has had, since its inception in the 1950s, a very strong bondage with the armed forces. Not only is the city and its periphery housing some highly sensitive and vital defence establishments, it is also home to a large number of distinguished generals, officers and gallantry award winners.

Even areas like Andaman and Nicobar, Goa and Puducherry have a better score than Chandigarh, which is ahead only of Daman and Diu and Dadar and Nagar Haveli.

In the last four years, Lakshadweep has sent 10 persons to the Army and seven to the Air Force.

Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar are among states that have the highest contribution to the services’ manpower. The reasons for this are rooted in the demographic, socio-economic, ethnic and historical factors governing these areas.

The MoD’s data also indicates an upward trend in the number of officers joining the Army and the Navy this year, though there is a sharp decline in the number for the Air Force. During 2006-2008, there was a decline in the officers’ intake in the Army.



Mohali to have dental implant centre, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 13
A dental implant centre will be set up in public-private partnership (PPP) at the Phase 6 Civil Hospital here. A specialised cancer and trauma centre is already coming up at the hospital under the PPP mode.

This was announced by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while presiding over the 16th national conference of the Indian Society of Oral Implantology and diamond jubilee celebrations of the Dental Council of India at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) here.

He said the state government intended to set up several such dental implant centres at other government hospitals and primary health centre in a phased manner. The proposed centre would provide quality implants at a subsidised rate of around Rs 9,000-10,000 for which the private sector was charging around Rs 25,000-30,000.

Realising the huge potential for implant dentistry in Punjab, the CM said the uplift of dentistry in the state was the state government’s priority. Ninety dental chairs with highly advanced specifications and 20 digital X-ray units were being purchased, he said. The purchase would cost around Rs 4.5 crore. He said most of this dental equipment would be installed at primary health centres to provide advanced dental facilities to the rural masses.

The Chief Minister honoured several noted personalities associated with the field of dentistry and oral implantology for their outstanding contribution in their respective fields.

Speaking on the occasion, President of the Dental Council of India Dr Anil Kohli impressed upon ensuring quality dental education and patient care. He said there was a need to ensure basic dental care for the underprivileged and the people living in rural areas.

President of the Indian Society of Oral Implantology Dr Ratish Chandra said use of dental implants had become widespread and patients saw these as the best option for missing teeth.

Prominent among others present on the occasion were Dr SS Gill, Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Dr Rama Rao, Director, NIPER, and Dr SPS Sodhi, organising chairman of the conference.


An excuse called swine flu

Greenpeace holds a protest rally at Sukhna Lake on Saturday.
Greenpeace holds a protest rally at Sukhna Lake on Saturday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Even as the spurt in cases of swine flu in the country has created panic among the medical fraternity, it has become a boon for some kids. After the written instructions issued by the school managements to the parents that if their kids were having cough and cold, they should not send them to school as a precautionary measure.

Making use of these instructions, many children made lame excuse to miss the school. Students of different classes were using it as a tool to get rid of their studies and enjoy watching TV and playing videogames at their homes. Not even the schools going kids, but certain college students were also using it as an instrument to goad their managements to shut down their institutes.

Bhajji and a handshake

Cricketers are known to evade the public rush because everyone wants to shake hands with them or hug them. The ace spinner, Harbhajan Singh, was in for a pleasant surprise at the function in Sector 22 on Sunday. People did come up and wish him, however, there were a very few handshakes. An organiser gave the answer “Everyone knows that he has been around with Sreeshant, the Indian bowler who is down with swine flu. Why take a risk? The pleasantries are enough.”

Winter discussions

Winter seem to be the best time to catch up with each other. A visit to the District Courts Complex in the sunny mornings these days and one would know it holds true at least for the legal fraternity. One can see lawyers sitting together in the enclosed area in the open sitting and chatting over cups and cups of tea.

While the discussions go for hours together, the topics vary from current news to latest movies to holiday destinations to the cases in the courts. While passing one group of lawyers, this correspondent over heard a serious discussion over the recent toll of positive swine flu cases in the tricity. While everyone was giving different solutions to tackle the problem, one lawyer was heard that going by the threat of flu, the courts should be closed down for the time being. That would also enable them to go for long vacations.

Already the pendency of cases in the courts has gone up by a substantial number, with such suggestions coming from lawyers themselves, it would only add to the burden of the litigants, some of whom have spent the most precious years of their lives running in the courts to get justice.

Police for VIPs only?

The VIP duty is telling on the law and order situation in Mohali. The manpower meant to control crime and regulate traffic on city roads is busy manning the VIP routes and VIP duties. In the last one months, be it the wedding reception of Bikramjit Singh Majthia or the CM’s visit to the city, or the matches at PCA, a major section of the force has been on road for the VIP duty.

Senior police officials admit that the patrolling, investigation in cases and the routine policing badly suffers due to the VIP duty. The force that remains on VIP duty can be easily spared to control the rising trend of thefts across the city and to regulate traffic during peak hours.

Might is right

Might is right. The salesmen of Panchkula shops were made to learn this phrase practically last week when they were rounded up by local police for protesting against their ‘exploitation’. Around two-dozens of the salesmen from Panchkula staged a demonstration in front of a shop in Sector 11 on Monday. They were protesting against the opening of shop despite it was a holiday of the shops in the town. The shopkeepers called the police and leader of the salesmen Devraj was taken to police station and made to seek an apology form the shopkeeper before he was let free. This was another matter that a shop inspector was allegedly manhandled by the owner of same shop when he objected over the opening of shop on holiday recently.

New Stu-C billboard

It is a wake-up call for the Panjab University authorities. Unfortunate though, the newly positioned bridge at the student centre is gradually and conveniently turning into a billboard. Not having spared the lampposts and pillars in the university, advertisements of home tuitions and other notices are now finding place on this bridge. If not out of fear, at least as a moral obligation the home tutors must refrain from making the university property, a source of economical advertising. The impact of a ban on these notices appears diluted now, since these advertisements of home tuitions can be spotted all over the university, particularly the activity hub of PU - student centre.

Striving for your safety

It seems the Chandigarh Police is efficient only in finding faults with motorists, especially those sans links with the high-ups. When it comes to mending its own ways, it is stricken by lethargy.

The traffic police personnel hiding behind bushes and trees to nab violators are some a common sight in the city. One can also see the policemen checking the vehicles with prying eyes to find any irregularity, but they go missing whenever the traffic signal goes dysfunctional. Serving as a perfect illustration to the phenomena, a pedestal is lying for months at the corner of a turn on Sectors 46, 47, 48 and 49 intersection. The dust and dry leaves gathered around it are a witness to the lethargy of the police, which otherwise claims to be striving for the safety for the motorists.

The cops simply could not push the pedestal away from the road ensuring clear and safe passage to the motorists, who might land in trouble after ramming into it. The cops might believe that they had already done enough by not leaving it in the middle of the intersection.

Contributed by: Aarti Kapur, Ramanjit Sidhu, Sanjeev Singh Bariana, Smriti Sharma Vasudeva, Rajmeet Singh, Arun Sharma and Neha Miglani



Objections raised to Banur master plan
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 13
In response to the objections raised by the department of country and town planning, Punjab, against the draft master plan of Banur, a number of residents have objected to change in land use as specified in 2007.

The area, which was earmarked as a mixed land in the master plan of 2007, has now been changed to an educational zone.

Going by the older master plan, Harish Gupta, one of the applicants, who has filed an objection, said people bought land in the area as per the provisions of the earlier master plan.

Under Section 70 (3) of the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act, 1995, which was amended in 2006, the planning area could not be changed, he added.

While the officials claim that the earlier master plan was not notified, residents said a separate committee had to be constituted under Section 76 of the Act.

Any amendment as such has to be made within a year. Others, who have filed similar objections, are Kewal Krishan, Madan Gopal, Anil Kumar and Ranjit Gonga.

On the other hand, officials in the department said an educational hub had been proposed along the Zirakpur-Patiala Highway.

“Already a number of educational colleges have come up along the highway. Area around the Kharar-Tepla-Banur road has been marked as an industrial zone. However, agricultural zone has been marked as buffer zone between the industrial and educational hubs. Local planning area in Banur comprises 31 villages,” said one of the officials.

Though the government had initiated work on the master plans in 2007, planning of local area of peripheral towns has been finalised this year.



Dog bite cases on the rise
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, December 13
A surging menace of stray dogs in and around Zirakpur has become a matter of concern. People have started avoiding walks in the area. Though a number of complaints poured in after the recent incident where a stray dog attacked 12 persons, no action was initiated by the MC officials to curtail the menace.

Residents claimed that such incidents were common and nobody wanted to lend ears to their problems.

However, they claimed that efforts made by the MC had turned futile with the census rising unabated.

One of the residents Ajay, whose daughter was attacked by a stray dog in Baltana locality, said repeated complaints have been made to the authorities, but nothing has been done so far, they added.

Hundreds of stray dogs roam freely in various parts of the town and there seems to be no solution to the ever-growing problem.

Vivek Sharma, a resident of Baltana, said it had become difficult to walk on Choice road at night, as groups of dogs ruled the road and several cases of dog bite had been reported in the recent past.

“We do not send our children out, as we fear they will be attacked by dogs. But nobody seems to care,” said Mamta, a resident of Parvati Enclave.

The MC should take a necessary action to solve the problem, she added.

A private doctor in Baltana said, “We receive several cases of dog bite everyday. The population of stray dogs has grown manifold.”

Residents of Baltana, Dhakoli and Pabhat village said the dog menace was one of the biggest problems.

They added the MC should take the matter seriously and solve the problem on priority basis.

Zirakpur MC executive officer SK Sharma said efforts were being made to curb the menace.



Plight of landless poor depicted
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, December 13
Those, who might have perceived the Kolkata Rangkarmee group’s play “Sri Ganesh Mahima” staged today as a spiritual sermon, have really missed one of the majestic presentations of the Fifth TFT Winter Fest 2009, which concluded in a refreshing and rejuvenating spirit for theatre in the city.

The last but memorable performance of the week-long fest organised by the Chandigarh administration and Theatre for Theatre (TFT) transported audience to a part of the country, where still people from poor strata live like the denizens of hell-tormented, tortured and perverted by the feudalist land lords.

The play based on a story by prolific author Mahasweta Devi, conceptualised by thespian Usha Ganguly with Hindi adaptation by Dilip Bharti, who also played a lead role, flourished under the direction of Partha Bandyopadhyay depicting the plight of the landless poor from lower castes. Besides, the play structured in a deep rural vicinity brought alive the existential truths concerning the subjugated females or girls treated as the harbinger of curse in the male dominated orthodox society. The supernatural powers and holy rituals were interpreted to suit and benefit the rich only so much so the son of a Rajput clan chief was extolled as incarnation of Lord Ganesha but the maid Lachchmi, who brought up the boy was not permitted to marry Mohar Karan, her love. The play ended on a tragic note but ushered in an era of awakening for the down-trodden masses.

The potent storyline, dialogues and immaculate acting spells, well designed movements and folk and Holi dance, all executed with brilliance made the performance memorable.

Sisir Dutta (Medini Singh ), child prodigy, Nabi Hussain (Ganesh Junior), Dilip Bharti ( Ganesh Senior), S Bhaduri (Lachhima), Sanhita Dutta and Gita Saha (Sutradhars), Vijay Roy (Mohar Karan) excelled, while others justified their roles.

Earlier, HK Dua, Member Rajya Sabha and Editor-in-Chief of Tribune Group of Newspapers, lit up the traditional lamp. Sanjay Kumar, IAS, Finance Secretary, honoured the artistes.



Bhajji turns crusader against drugs
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Indian off-spinner and youth icon Harbhajan Singh, who has been at the receiving end of right wing Hindu fundamentalists for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through his Ravana act along with actress Mona Singh, today donned a new avatar by turning a crusader against drug addiction.

Life seems to have come full circle for the member of the Indian cricket team. Bhajji, who was dragged to court by NGO Global Human Rights Council (GHRC) for his Ravana act, not only apologised but also vowed to wage a sustained war for maintaining communal peace and harmony as well as check drug addiction.

In fact, the war against drugs by the GHRC got a shot in the arm with the chairperson of the Punjab State Human Right Commission (PSHRC) Justice RS Mongia blessing the cricketer and the NGO for its “laudable services to the society.”

Bhajji lamented that drug abuse was sapping the energy of Punjabi youths, who were not able to realise their full potential due to it. “I have some close friends who have been caught in the vicious circle of drug abuse and were unable to come out of its dragnet,” Bhajji said.

While a substantial number of Punjabi youths have emigrated abroad in search of greener pastures, a majority of those left behind were fighting a losing battle against drugs, he claimed.

Calling for an all-out war against drug addiction, Bhajji said the government had a pivotal role in curbing the menace. “In fact, those supplying drugs should be given strict punishment as they are playing with the lives of innocent youngsters,” said Bhajji.

Arvind Thakur, chairperson of the GHRC, informed that a van of the NGO would move around the educational institutions, government and non-government organisations to spread awareness about communal peace and harmony as well as drug de-addiction.



Poor cousin — I
Panchkula proves soft target for criminals
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 13
Call it paucity of manpower, funds shortage, ill-equipped force, porous border or lack of will of the police, the fact remains that residents of Panchkula have been exposed to frequent murders, kidnappings, dacoities, thefts and other petty crimes for long.

The police is yet to find any clue about the robbers who looted Rs 47,000 from Ram Dairy in Sector 21on Friday. Besides, the record of the police in nabbing the accused of major incidents remains dismal.

The faith of the public in the police has dipped so low that the family of Jiya, a two-year-old child kidnapped from her house in Sector 7 last month, requested the police to abandon its efforts to nab the kidnappers and paid a huge ransom to the kidnappers for the release of the child. In addition, there was no headway in kidnapping of realtor Deepak Rai Sagar, dacoities at electricity board office, Sector 5 petrol pump, liquor vend in MDC, and murder of a financier.

Last year as well, the situation was no different. With three armed robberies, the town reported dozens of thefts and snatchings.

However, Manish Chaudhary, Superintendent of Police, said that despite the fact that district police is scarce of resources, no scope was left by the police personnel in securing the life and properties of the public. Efforts were being made to strengthen the available force of 800 security personnel by equipping them with modern technology, he said.

The district with a population of more than 6 lakh and having two national highways and sharing border with two states and union territory of Chandigarh is, in fact, a soft target for such criminals, he said. Criminals, finding it hard to commit robberies in Chandigarh due to tight security, prefer to loot people in Panchkula which has a meagre presence of police, he said adding that dozens of escape routes prove handy for these criminals to sneak into other areas immediately after the crime making the work of police more difficult.

To cope up with the situation, the participation of public was mandatory and installing the gates and deputing security guards in localities could make a sea change in the situation, he added.

The suggestions of the Superintendent of Police, however, did not go down well with the residents.

All these suggestions were only an attempt at hiding the failure on its part, feel public representatives. While Huda as well as Municipal Council hesitates to install gates in Sectors citing financial burden, residents find it a cumbersome option.

“The police after failing in providing proper security was suggesting to public to make their own security arrangements,” said SK Nayyar, president of the Citizens Welfare Association. And this was not as easy as it seems to be, he said.

Though the gates could be installed with one-time investment and with the help of advertisement agencies, the manning of these gates would always remain a headache for the residents associations, as many of the residents would not be ready to contribute for the salary of security guards, added Nayyar.

BB Singhal, vice-president of municipal council, also has similar views.

The public was ready to cooperate with the police in this regard, he said. “But the police first of all had to tell that what it was doing for providing the security to the residents.”



Mothers-to-be more prone to H1N1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Pregnant women, especially those in the third trimester, are at an increased risk of serious complications than others affected from the H1N1 influenza virus, city-based doctors said. However, only one pregnant woman had contracted the H1N1 in the city so far and had recovered.

So far, swine flu has not proven to be more dangerous than seasonal influenza, said Dr Rajesh, head of community medicine department. He said pregnancy weakened a woman’s immune system, so she was more likely to suffer pneumonia when she caught flu.

In earlier flu pandemics, infection also raised the risk of a premature birth. The pregnant women with asthma and some other health conditions are particularly at risk for complications. The groups at high risk of flu-related complications from the H1N1 influenza are the same as those for seasonal flu-pregnant women, children under-5 years, the elderly and others such as those with chronic lung conditions, said UT health officials.

Even, the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines said pregnant women were known to be at the increased risk of complications from H1N1 as well as seasonal influenza.

Consequently, WHO recommended closer observation of pregnant women with suspected or confirmed new influenza A (H1N1) infections.

“Primary care givers should warn pregnant women and their family members that if the mother-to-be exhibits such conditions as difficulty in breathing, chest pain, coughing up coloured sputum or confusion, then pregnant woman should immediately be hospitalised,” said doctors. Most at risk are pregnant mothers with asthma, any cardio-vascular disease, obesity and diabetes, added UT health officials.



One more dies of swine flu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 13
Baburam (65), a resident of Dadu Majra, died of swine flu at GMCH-32 today. Meanwhile, 13 fresh cases, including three children and a doctor from GMCH-32, have tested positive for H1N1. The total number of affected persons has now reached 217.

According to UT health officials, Baburam was undergoing treatment at

GMCH-32, where he died today.

Out of 13 fresh cases, seven are from Chandigarh, four from Punjab and two are from Haryana. “A nine-month-old boy and a four-year-old girl from Jagatpura, along with a four-year-old child from Sector 43, have also tested positive,” said the health officials.



Hallo Majra stinks, residents fume
Rue lack of proper sewerage system

Tribune News Service

An open sewerage at Hallo Majra.
An open sewerage at Hallo Majra. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 13
Residents of Hallo Majra are forced to live in unhygienic conditions due to indifferent attitude of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation.

Lack of proper sewerage system has led to accumulation of dirty water on the streets. This has further led to rise in water-borne diseases. Residents say lack of proper sewerage system and poor maintenance is the reason for the routine problem.

As the MC has failed to clean the sewerage of the area, people are forced to live in unhygienic conditions. Despite repeated complaints to the representatives of the area, no official from the MC has come to inspect the area, rue residents.

Area residents allege that despite repeated reminders, the authorities have also failed to send a fogging machine to the area this season.

While heaps of garbage dot the area, the authorities have not launched a cleanliness drive in the village. They added that they have been deprived of basic amenities even after the village was included in the MC.

Lashing out at the government and the civic authorities, villagers say politicians only pay visit to their village twice in five years - first to seek votes and then to express thanks. “The councillor, who had made tall promises initially, had also left us in the lurch,” they added.

Area residents have again asked the MC authorities to look into the matter and launch a cleanliness drive in the area, besides proper upkeep of the sewerage system.



Open House: Preservation of Sukhna Lake
Contradictions call for a look by the Centre
Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Contradictory voices expressing concern over the shrunken Sukhna Lake and the administration bragging over a success story in ‘saving the lake’ calls for a look by the Centre. An independent team of forest and water experts needs to assess the ground realities and show the true picture for its upkeep.

Besides citizens’ efforts to salvage the dishevelled portrait of a beautiful water body in form of a ‘shramdan’, different voices have echoed at different fora, expressing distress calling help over the past several years. Public interaction and also site visits organised by the administration to show its effective silt control programme have failed to satisfy the residents with the administration efforts.

Things have gone to an extent that HS Johl, a retired head of landscaping wing of the Chandigarh administration, has written to Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of Environment and Forests, recently, seeking a team from the Centre to ‘investigate and resolve environmental issues pertaining to the city, particularly the Sukhna’.

Situated in the foothills of Shivalik Hills, the necklace of the ‘City Beautiful’, was created in 1958 by damming the Sukhna choe. Official reports indicate that the water level has come down from approximately five metres in 1958 to two metres in 2004. Majority of the siltation took place during the earlier 10 years because of very averagely planted land in the catchment areas. In first place, there is nothing denying the fact that the water retention capacity of the lake has reduced by 66 per of its water area as compared to its original capacity in 1958. There are no contradictions on the issue of reduced area and also on the dire need for preserving, at least, its current capacity and preventing silt inflow. There are reports of an independent study conducted by the Society for Promotion and Conservation of Environment (SPACE) which has shown that the amount of silt entering the lake has reduced from the peak 140 ton per hectare per year to 4 to 5 ton per hectare per year, currently. At the same time it also worthwhile to mention that the inflow of water into the lake has also reduced from 8,310 acre-feet to 736 acre-feet, during the corresponding period.

In a symptomatic occurrence, approximately 30 fish died at the surface of the lake due to over population and lack of oxygen in 2008. Lack of space, heightened due to siltation, has affected the aquatic life and the administration decided not allows fish more than 30 cm in size in the lake waters. It needs to be remembered that the entire strip of the lake’s catchment area consists of a rugged terrain and steep slopes. The soils are alluvial sandy remaining highly susceptible to soil erosion by water run-off action. The higher run off allows accelerated pace of erosion in the catchment areas, which bring silt to the reservoirs of the lake. It is relevant to mention that claiming fame as a role model for soil and moisture conservation measures and bio-diversity restoration recently, the administration too conceded that “until recently, the danger of Sukhna Lake drying up looked for real.” A formal note said: “The lake had been swallowing sediments rapidly constricting its storage capacity from 8,710 acre-feet in 1958 to about 2,600 acre feet at present. “Out to put a stop to the silt menace and save the lake, the Forest Department has constructed 190 silt retention dams, supplemented by more than 200 check-dams, spurs, revetments and brushwood structures, to conserve soil and retain the silt in the water bodies created behind the silt retention dams

Now the administration has put on the backburner its Rs 73 crore Sukhna dredging project saying it was not wise to empty the lake for at least for six years to secure complete desilting. It was also argued that emptying the lake would mean completing the erasing the biotic life it supported. “The lake did not develop as a bird sanctuary overnight. The accompanying biotic life is a bigger attraction for birds,” a senior officer said. The comment of the officer is relevant in the context that Sukhna is a sanctuary for a large number of exotic migratory birds including the Siberian duck, Storks and Cranes, during the winter months. The lake also houses at least 30 species of local water birds. At the same time, the administration’s plea is not agreed to by a section of Sukhna enthusiasts who say dredging using specialised machines would not require complete emptying of the lake. It is interesting to quote a senior officer who said “an independent recommendation by experts, not necessarily government servants alone, can best guide us for future requirements”. The administration claims to have built at least 190 check dams that have controlled the inflow of silt. These also retain water which officers say “was extra”. The procedure is not totally agreed to by the critics saying that the silt dams were also stopping water inflow into the lake. Seeing the general quality of muddy waters of the lake, it is not difficult to gauge that the water inflow from the source area does not usher in sparkling blue waters, as desired. Despite tall claims by the administration, a greater greening of the feeding area remains paramount in this direction and the poured waters continue to be muddy. It is also pertinent to mention claims and counter claims over the tree plantation, particularly in the Sukhna catchment area. A very thick vegetation of Acacia catechu (khair), Mesquite and Koo-Babul is known to be of minimal green value in the direction of afforestation. A sizeable number of these plant varieties remain leafless for a long duration in a year. Citizens also challenge the high plantation figures given by the administration saying it was “impossible”. Instead of making half-hearted attempts as new projects of de-siliting, a project with a professional backing was the need of the hour. For obvious reasons, development activity in and around lake also generates a lot of public interest. It maybe remembered that the administration had initiated a move to introduce power jet motorboats on basis of the feedback from a foreign visit of the top officers, a few years back. The project was “thankfully” shelved. The planners were overlooking the fact that the Sukhna has been declared a Silence Zone in 2007. The sound pollution would naturally have been a big deterrent to the winged visitors.

A gala fashion show by a leading jeweller shop in the city too had run into rough weather, recently, with the administration cancelling the show recently. Probably, a clear policy on events of all types, for future, needs to be officially specified. An upgradation of the lake area has been initiated under a special project initiated by Ram Niwas, the Home Secretary and instead of playing with the natural habitat or the water contents, the project envisages upgradation of the existing structure. Sukhna Lake will get a face-lift in the seating area and flooring will be replaced with paved tiles and red stone. The regulator end of the lake is planned to have a new tourist reception centre, blending with the natural environs. The project will need a careful handling because the maximum bird entry is seen at the Regulator End and any boisterous activity can disturb the winged guests. To be fair to the administration and the critics, an independent assessment by the Centre towards identifying the need and introducing corrective methods was the need of the hour.



Bad experience

On December 8, we went to the Tourist Information Centre of Chandigarh Tourism at the Inter-State Bus Terminus, Sector 17. Officials present in the office were neither cordial nor did they provide us with any relevant information.

There is an immediate need for a big low-budget tourist hotel in the city also as a camping site.

Anais Baviere
Le Pertuis d’Echelle
39260 LECT France

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Students bring laurels to St Soldier
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 13
Six students of St Soldier, Mohali, brought laurels to the institution, as they were felicitated by the director, Continental Group of Institutes, for their outstanding writing skills, which were exhibited by them during the on-the-spot essay writing competition held in October. About 80 students from Class XII participated in the competition and wrote on the topics- “Role of women in business management” and “Outsourcing and its effects.”

Col Karminder Singh, director, CIIS, gave away the prizes to Palak Vij, who secured first position followed by G Pavitra, the winner of second prize, whereas the third prize went to Harmilan Kaur. While addressing the students, Singh reiterated the need of self appraisal and motivation to climb the ladder of success.


OSSIM, an institute of security management in India, held a convocation function yesterday marking the culmination of three courses. While the two courses were of senior officers of defence services sponsored by the director-general resettlement to prepare them for the second career, the third course was of Indian and Zambian officers of Vedanta Resources.

Addressing the passing out trainee officers, director, OSSIM, Maj Gen JS Ghumman, said the officers of the Armed Forces were retiring young and still had a couple of years to give to society.

OSSIM had made all efforts to provide them maximum knowledge and guidance to enable them to start the second career after retirement.

Vedanta Resources had also reposed its trust in the institute by sending a second batch of its officers to be trained in the industrial intelligence. With the implementation of Private Security Agency (Regulation) Act, 2005, the importance of training in the security industry had assumed great importance, he added.



‘Be proud to be Indian’
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 13
Manav Mangal School auditorium, Panchkula, was abuzz with patriotic fervour, as Shalini Malviya, director of Idea Foundation, a social organisation devoted to the cause of spreading patriotism, addressed the students and told them to be proud of an Indian.

The purpose was to inculcate respect among children for the nation. Malviya defined an Indian citizen as the one, who abode by his duties and responsibilities towards the country.

She motivated the students to pledge for India through her web portal www.pledgeforindia.org <http://www.pled geforindia.org>. so that the spirit of patriotism runs high in their blood.

Around 225 students of Class VII are expected to register their pledge on the website by Monday.



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