C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Mockery of a drill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Executed as a contingency plan for emergency, the mock drill by the police in Sector 17 plaza ended up in an anti-climax with the people turning up in large numbers to make fun of the entire exercise here today.

The initial panic had people running for cover and some even hurting themselves. The chaos was accompanied with numerous telephone calls all over the city, even outside, for the latest “update on the terrorist attack”. The lid was taken off the “mission” prematurely, beating the intended purpose.

The drama began around 10.15 am when explosions and gunfire sent shopkeepers and visitors running for cover.

The police diverted the traffic and blocked roads. Policemen and paramilitary teams wearing bulletproof jackets took positions behind pillars and on rooftops of buildings surrounding the plaza while several others crawled toward the stage.

Soon after the information of a “terrorist attack” and firing in Sector 17 spread through the electronic media, frantic phone calls started coming in from all over the region.

The element of surprise subsided soon when people saw crackers being burst and injured not shedding any blood. Photographers and mediapersons were also shooting the operation.

Interestingly, fire fighters and paramedical personnel were seen rushing into the “battlefield” without bulletproof vests. “It’s a planned drill, which yielded the desired results. Remember what had happened during the kisan rally on September 8? The force fled after protesters ran berserk,” a police officer, speaking about the drill, remarked.

“I was basking in the sun when five youths started firing and held 12 persons, including women, hostage. I was shocked, but before I could run, I saw the youths bursting crackers and soon a heavily armed police team reached there,” Baldev Sethi, president of the shopkeeper worker’s union, Sector 17, stated.

The youths held the group hostage under a structure and took positions. A police patrol informed the PCR about the attack. Soon, police teams, including the bomb disposal unit and the QRT, reached the spot and cordoned off the area, DSP (Central) Jagbir Singh said.

Later, the SSP, SP (Operations), SP Panchkula, DSP Mohali, CRPF personnel, fire brigade, ambulances, paramilitary forces and anti-sabotage units descended on the scene.

During the “cross firing” a terrorist was “killed” and his four accomplices were captured. Four commanders were also “injured” in the operation. The SSP said they would analyse the response time and the functioning of various agencies and would find ways to improve their efficiency.

However, a Punjab vigilance bureau official said it could prove dangerous as people might misconstrue the real situation for a mock drill and endanger their lives. At the same time, a shop owner, Narinder Arora, appreciated the drill, saying that it instilled confidence among people. 



It was a gruelling battle: Ruchika’s dad
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The “token” sentence to the former DG, SPS Rathore, in the Ruchika molestation case, has come after a legal battle spanning over 19 years. The only consolation for the Anands, the complainants, seems to be the conviction of the high-profile former Haryana top cop.

“For 19 long years, it was a tough battle for us. Though the sentence is not enough, at least his conviction would send across the right message in society that nobody is above law,” say Anand Parkash, a retired chief engineer, and his wife Madhu.

He said now his aim was to bring those people to book who had helped Rathore and delayed justice.

“It is rather ironical that the trial continued for nearly 20 years and the sentence was only for six months. But that the case came to its logical conclusion is satisfying, given the involvement of the high-profile accused,” feels Madhu.

“My next step is to move the High Court for retrial for abetment to suicide under Section 306, IPC, which was earlier dropped after the accused moved the court against it,” says Anand, who along with his family members, faced resistance in the form of threats and implication in false cases all through the trial.

“It was a collective effort in terms of moral support and even monetarily. Several senior bureaucrats, advocates and my neighbours were our constant support throughout,” he says.

Asked if he ever thought of giving up, he is quick to reply: “I was sure I wanted to pursue the matter till the end no matter what it took,” he says, adding how he and his family refused police protection even when the CBI offered it fearing threats.



My patience has finally paid off: Witness
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 21
“I always had complete faith in the judiciary and my steadfast patience during the ordeal that Ruchika’s family as well as mine went through during past 19 years, which still continues to haunt me, has finally been rewarded.

This was the reaction of Aradhana Gupta, the lone witness and friend of Ruchika after former police DGP SPS Rathore was convicted by the special CBI magistrate in the city today.

Talking to TNS, Aradhana said while the court’s quantum of sentence announced for Rahtore was not what she had expected, it came as a great satisfaction for her and all the others concerned in the case that the judges did not let him go scot-free.

“Even today I remember the day when I saw Ruchika in his grip and Rathore’s incessant repression of her family, which finally led to her suicide,” said Aradhana, who had flown in from Australia especially to be personally present in court when the judgment was delivered. “All of us - myself, my family and as well as that of Ruchika - were continuously threatened and Rathore’s repression of Ruchika’s family members as known to everybody”, she added.

“The soul of my friend Ruchika will now rest in peace after the perpetrator of the crime has been brought to justice, though it took 19 long years as Rathore was no ordinary person. It was in fact because of Ruchika that we decided to continue the fight for justice till its logical end as she was the one who first decided to take up cudgels against her tormentor”, said Aradhana.

“Moreover, the very thought that that day it was Ruchika and Rathore’s next target could be myself was another reason my parents were very keen to take up this case. And for this purpose I returned from Australia in 2005 and deposed before the court in Ambala for a month”, she added.



Three more swine flu deaths
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
While three persons suffering from swine flu died at city hospitals here today, five others tested positive.

The deceased include Narender Pathania, wife of Aneesh, an official at the office of the PU VC. She was employed at the Canara Bank branch on the university campus and was taken to the GMSH, Sector 16, on Saturday night. She was referred to the PGI, where doctors diagnosed her with swine flu symptoms.

The other two deceased belonged to Sirmaur and Jagadhri. Three of the five patients who tested positive are from Chandigarh while the other two belong to Haryana and Himachal.

Meanwhile, Panjab University authorities convened an urgent meeting today to discuss precautions to be taken in the campus to prevent the spread of swine flu. The meeting was called following the death of the wife of a PU employee.

The victim, who worked at the Canara Bank’s extension branch in the varsity campus till Friday, was said to be an asthma patient as well. Most of the PU officials who attended her funeral today were wearing protection masks as a safety measure.

Coming close on the heels of the death of a servant of a professor in the PU English department, today’s death has put the authorities on an alert to the spread of the H1N1 virus in the campus. At the meeting today, attended by deans and other senior professors, it was decided to place charts of ‘do’s and don’ts’ on every official’s table to sensitise every university student and staff member.

Hostel wardens are now required to submit a daily report to the dean of students’ welfare on those students who have persistently displayed symptoms of common flu. In addition to this, a fresh circular has again been issued to all PU hostels and departments giving information on the H1N1 virus. It was also decided to provide hand sanitizers in every washroom inside the campus. The university authorities have also decided to set up a three-member committee to check the state of hygiene in all canteens and eating joints inside the campus.



Bus ride to school may be costlier
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Students might now have to bear a 40 per cent hike in bus fee with the UT administration all set to levy road tax on private school buses.

The decision, according to official sources, follows the Punjab government’s move of lifting the exemption in the state.

“We have followed the Punjab pattern. Earlier the state had exempted the buses of recognised schools, but when it lifted the exemption, we asked the higher authorities if we could follow suit. We have received a go-ahead in this regard,” Vandana Disodia, STA Director, stated.

Prior to this, tax worth Rs 4,200 was levied on bus operators of schools not yet recognised by the UT administration, but under the new policy all bus operators would have to pay it.

“We have not decided on the amount yet, but it would be worked out soon. I don’t think students should be made to bear the brunt of it since these people already make so much profit,” she said.

The bus operators, on the other hand, are disappointed. “We will be forced to hike the bus fee. This is our only source of income and additional expenditure would mean increase in the fee. If the administration is bothered about the students, it should reconsider the decision,” a bus operator remarked.

According to the sources, a legal notice served on the administration by a private school precedes the decision.

“The school is fighting a case against the administration and as per the court, we shall be treated as a recognised school until the decision is reached at. They are levying road tax on us, claiming that we are not recognised. We had sent them a request to immediately stop it as it was against the court’s directives,” a school official revealed.

Meanwhile, the department is also reportedly mulling the levying of permit fee in addition to the road tax.



‘6-month RI not enough’
The orders pronounced today by the court of special CBI magistrate against former DGP SPS Rathore, holding him guilty of molestation and sentencing him to six-month rigorous imprisonment, have evoked a mixed response from people.


Night Food Street Contract
F&CC members pull up MC officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Municipal corporation officials were pulled up by members of the Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) for not informing them on time about the expiry date of contract for the night food street near the PGI in Sector 14.

In a meeting chaired by Mayor Kamlesh today, it was decided that a special meeting would be convened tomorrow to fix the responsibility of the official concerned for this delay, due to which the corporation had to bear revenue loss.

Sources said Mayor Kamlesh had written a letter to MC Additional Commissioner PK Sharma to fix the responsibility of the erring officials for causing delay in calling the tender for night food street.

The sources revealed that the contract of the night food street kiosk expired on December 5 and the authorities should have re-allotted the kiosk before the expiry date by calling fresh tenders, but the authorities tabled the agenda for calling fresh tenders for the night food street in today’s meeting.

The sources said F&CC members asked the department concerned to conduct an inquiry to fix responsibility for this delay and inform the committee at tomorrow’s meeting.

The sources said when the agenda was tabled during the meeting today, committee members objected as to why it was not tabled in time.

Officers gave the plea that as they were reviewing terms and condition of the tenders and so, there was a delay in tabling this agenda item.

On this, the members raised the objection that when they were changing terms and conditions, why was the revision of rates of the kiosks of the night food street not suggested.

Alleging that the officers were favouring shopkeepers, the members stated that when shopkeepers were charging more than the market rates from customers, why the corporation was not revising the contract rates.

It was for the first time that the Mayor called a meeting to fix the responsibility of officials. The sources said the committee would decide the date of calling fresh tenders for night food street tomorrow.



Garbage plant gets ministry’s nod
Team says it meets all processing requisites 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
A three-member committee of the union ministry of new and renewable energy have certified that the garbage processing plant at Dadu Majra for meets all requirements required for processing garbage.

The committee had inspected the plant on December 3 to submit a report regarding the equipment installed at the plant and check its operation.

The report mentioned that the plant had the facility of initial segregation of solid waste, separation of magnetic material, drying of segregation and homogenised product, homogenisation of segregated product and its classification and separation into inert and RDF.

The report also stated that the management had imported critical equipment from a world-known manufacturer.

The report was submitted to MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria. The corporation had issued a show-cause notice to the management of the plant in April 2009, claiming that it had failed to make the garbage processing plant operational within the prescribed time under the provision of Clause 5.1 of the implementation agreement.

A sub-committee had also been constituted by the MC house under the chairmanship of Chander Mukhi Sharma to monitor the machinery and its installation as per the MOU.

However, the report was never discussed in the house even after several special house meetings were convened in this connection.

The representative of the company, RD Sharma, stated that they had also submitted the report to UT administrator SF Rodrigues and Adviser Pardeep Mehra. Since they had been given a clean chit by the central

pollution board and the committee of the Central government, they hoped that the show-cause notice issued to them would be withdrawn by the authorities soon.



Rs 9.14 lakh for developing 13 villages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The Chandigarh administration has earmarked an outlay of Rs 9.14 lakh in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12) with the aim of developing 13 villages on the pattern of sectors.

The 13 villages of Chandigarh consist of one zila parishad, one panchayat samiti and 12 gram panchayats, and have a population of about 60,000. All UT villages have since been provided with piped water supply, electricity, concrete circular roads, paved streets, surface drains, flush-type toilets, sewerage, multi-purpose buildings for activities and bus service.

Eleven health sub-centres have been set up in 11 villages and 10 villages have been provided veterinary services. The administration plans to construct sports stadia at Khuda Alisher, Maloya and Dadu Majra. “The administration has to play a proactive role in ensuring the overall development of the rural poor. We are determined to make villages lookalikes of sectors,” said Sanjay Kumar, Finance Secretary.



GMADA to partly develop connecting road
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 21
In wake of paucity of funds, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has decided to partly develop the 300-ft wide road, proposed to connect the proposed international airport with the 200-ft wide road connecting the Zirakpur-Patiala road with the Chandigarh-Kharar road.

Initially, the engineering department of the authority had been asked to construct only the slow carriageway on both sides of the 300-ft wide road. This would ensure that the road section remains free from encroachments till the full width of the road was not developed. Around Rs 90 crore would be incurred in constructing the approved sections of the two main roads. But before going ahead with the project, GMADA had written to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) to inform the former about its schedule to start construction at the site of the international airport.

“By knowing the schedule, we would be in a better position to properly utilise the funds. Otherwise, constructing roads much ahead of the airport construction schedule could result in wastage of funds,” said VP Singh, chief administrator of GMADA. The land for the roads has already been acquired.

Construction of the roads is also significant as the authority has planned an urban estate along one of the roads. The state government has planned to set up an aerotropolis or an airport city near the Delhi-Chandigarh National Highway-22.

The proposed urban estate, comprising residential, commercial and institutional sites was being planned somewhere in 1,000-acre being acquired for mix-land use along the 200-ft wide road proposed to connect the proposed international airport. About 2,000 residential and commercial sites had been carved out in the mix-land use belt. At least 50 per cent of these would be exhausted if the landowners go for land pooling.



Modern bus stand for Zirakpur on cards
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, December 21
The municipal council plans to construct a modern AC bus stand at triangle on Zirakpur-Panchkula intersection near Paras Down Town square. Besides, four new tubewells would be installed at Baltana ward No. 12, ward No. 13, Dhakoli and Pabhat village in the coming next year. This was stated by MC president Narinder Kumar Sharma today in a meeting.

While briefing the councillors, Sharma said in coming two years the golf course and lake would be set up at Gazipur common land.

He claimed the modern AC bus stand would be constructed on BOT scheme at the cost of Rs 25 crore. The president further said the first floor would be used as commercial shops.

The MC will also construct an indoor stadium at Nabha village on 20 acre. Sharma also claimed that 90 per cent work of sewerage laying was completed. The MC would also build STP at Singhpura at the cost of Rs 15 crore, he said.

The Choice Road in Baltana would be widened to 100 ft. Sharma discussed the residential construction near Air Force Zone at Pabhat village with councillors. He said he would take up this issue with higher authorities soon. He also discussed the Zirakpur Master Plan with councillors.



Compassionate Cases
Arrange pvt jobs for kin, Guv tells officials
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
UT Administrator SF Rodrigues today asked senior officers of the Chandigarh administration to make efforts to adjust the next of kin on some private job till they got government jobs on compassionate grounds.

He also told them to ensure that the bereaved family members should not vacate government accommodation till the age of retirement of the person who died in harness.

This was in response to six cases that came up for jobs on compassionate ground at the weekly hearing session of the Administrator here.

Responding to the demand of some people of UT villages for their representation in development works, Rodrigues called them to involve their services in partnership initiative programmes.

Giving a sympathetic hearing to a group of people of Dadu Majra regarding land acquired near the “lal dora”, Rodrigues asked the Finance Secretary to visit the site and examine it.

Another deputation demanded implementation of NREGA scheme in Chandigarh. The Finance Secretary said it was not possible as 60 per cent involvement of rural population was required for the scheme whereas the UT has less percentage.



Admn wants beam scales to go
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The UT administration has decided to ask traders to replace their beam scales with counter scales with immediate effect.

The decision was taken during a meeting today under the chairmanship of Home Secretary Ram Niwas to bring about more transparency in weighing processes and minimise unethical practices by various traders.

It was further decided that traders who had option of electric points at their shops should replace manual weighing scales with electronic weighing scale within three months, but platform machines could be used.

Officials from the Weight and Measure Department said around 800 challans were issued to shopkeepers this year and between 60 per cent and 70 per cent of traders had shifted to electronic weighing scales.



Probe sought into installation of security gates
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 21
Councillor Kuljit Singh Bedi has demanded a probe into the installation of security gates in different parts of the town. The gates were currently being used for display of advertisements instead of providing security to residents.

In a letter given to Deputy Commissioner Prabhjot Singh Mand here today, Bedi said the civic body had given the work of installing gates and security cabins to a private company on contract.

Advertisements were displayed on these gates soon after the work was completed around two months ago. The gates installed for providing security to residents had failed to serve their real purpose, he added.

Bedi said when he approached the council to find out why guards had not been arranged to man these gates at night, he was told that the keys to the gates had been handed over to the police and only the police or welfare organisations could tell as to who was responsible for deploying guards at these gates.

He said advertisements on these gates shouldn’t have been allowed till the matter of providing security guards was sorted out. He said it appeared that the gates were installed only to collect big amounts through advertisements.

He requested the Deputy Commissioner to look into the matter so that security personnel could be deployed at the gates. He said the private company should not be allowed to put up advertisements till the security aspect was implemented.

Bedi said if the authorities concerned failed to make any arrangements of providing security guards within 15 days, he would move court in the interest of public.



‘Indians lack self-discipline’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
We need to focus on knowledge, skills, attitude and discipline to build futuristic leaders with a global mindset, said DK Bakshi, executive director, Indo-Thai Chamber of Commerce, Bangkok.

He said India was a ‘gurukul’ of education, especially in South East Asia, but somewhere, Indians lacked self-discipline and team spirit. “We have to improve upon on our deficiencies and have to guide our generation from a young age,” he added.

He further said the role of parents, community leaders, teachers and the media was important to build global leaders. He was speaking on ‘Building leader with global mindset’ during an event organised by the Aryans Business School in association with the Chandigarh Management Association here.



Beware of calls from Pak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
The police today cautioned residents to beware of the unidentified persons making telephone calls from Pakistan, alluring people of winning huge amounts in lotteries. The police said it had received a number of complaints regarding unsolicited calls from different numbers having prefix +92 (the international telephone code for Pakistan).

The callers allured the receivers by telling them that they had won lottery or prize money by making such calls.

The police found that some professional cheats had been defrauding gullible people over the telephone, posing as employees of different companies. Claiming that their company has selected some numbers for a prize amount, they sough personal information of the receiver, saying it was required for prize money.



Warning against LPG cylinder misuse
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Terming the use of LPG cylinders for purposes other than cooking as illegal, oil companies have warned consumers that LPG connections can be cancelled if used for non-cooking purposes.

According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas, there is need to clarify to all consumers that domestic LPG is meant only to be used for cooking purposes and its use for operating other appliances like geysers and air-conditioners is unlawful.

As per provisions of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Regulation of Supply and Distribution) Order 2000, the LPG connection of the person using it for non-cooking purposes can be cancelled.

The Chandigarh Tribune had recently carried a report in these columns, highlighting the hazards of using LPG cylinders for running geysers.



Rising obesity sees kids suffering heart attacks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Spending longer hours watching TV, playing video games for hours at a stretch and lack of physical activity combined with eating more fast foods in the form of pizzas, French fries, noodles, burgers, chips, sweets and calorie-rich colas are leading to increasing obesity among children in and around the city.

These facts were brought out in a study conducted for over a year by PGI dietician BN Behera on 64 children in the age group of 2-15 years and having a body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 kg per m2.

Behera was awarded the Prof AN Radha Award for 2009 for the best research paper presentation on childhood obesity during the 42nd annual national conference of the Indian Dietetic Association held last week at CSM Medical University, Lucknow. He has worked under the supervision of Prof BR Thapa, head of the pediatric gastroenterology department at PGIMER, Chandigarh.

The study said children are getting more pocket money, which enables them to buy eatables of their choice from school tuck shops. It found their intake of calories and fats were higher as compared to their healthy counterparts. However protein intake was low in obese kids as compared to their healthy peers.

Further, it was observed that 44 per cent of obese children had high blood pressure, 20 per cent had a fatty liver, 39 per cent had an abnormal lipid profile and 40 per cent had raised liver enzymes.

Hence, there was need for checks on eating junk fast foods as well as a sedentary lifestyle to avoid obesity in childhood and to prevent premature occurrence of hypertension, diabetes and dislipidemia leading to coronary artery diseases, the study pointed out.

“Parents must be alert to increase physical activities by their children, cut their pocket money and make sure they avoid eating outside, especially fast foods that are rich in calories, fats and salt and are detrimental to the health of children in the long run. They should take a nutritious, homemade balanced diet to achieve adequate protein, carbohydrate and fats intake. Outdoor activities in the form of playing a particular game should be encouraged so that they are free from sedentary life style”, the study underlined.

Obesity in fact has become a pandemic global disease affecting people of all ages. It is more prevalent in the developed countries but has also become a menace in the Third world as well. Adults are more affected with one-third of them being overweight.

However, obesity has not spared children. In India various studies from different parts conducted in school age children showed the prevalence of childhood obesity varying from 7 to 22 per cent This means on an average 15 per cent of the country’s children are overweight.

It has also been observed that childhood obesity is more common among urban, nuclear, upper and lower middle income families. Childhood obesity is three times more prevalent among urban children as compared to their rural counterparts.



Mysore MC team in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
A 20-member team of elected representatives and officers of the Mysore municipal corporation, led by Sharadamm, Deputy Mayor, visited the office of the local corporation here today to study projects in the city.

The team met Mayor Kamlesh, Senior Deputy Mayor Harphool Chand Kalyan and other councillors. They visited various green belts and gardens of the city.

They appreciated efforts of the corporation. They praised the corporation for maintenance of roads and parks. Sharadamm said there were 245 parks in Mysore and the annual budget was Rs 200 crore for 65 wards.

PK Sharma, Additional Commissioner, and TPS Phoolka, Joint Commissioner, gave a brief introduction regarding projects and functions of the local corporation.



332 join ITBP ranks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
As many as 332 recruits from three different batches were formally inducted as constables into ranks of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force at an impressive passing out parade here today.

The constables included 292 drivers and 40 motor mechanics of the 81st, 82nd and 83rd batch, who underwent 24 weeks of intensive training that included drill, physical efficiency, weapon handling, firing, field craft and technical aspects relating to vehicles and transport.

Inspector general (North-West Frontier) Rajdeep Singh took the salute and reviewed the parade commanded by Manoj Kumar from the Telecom Battalion. He called upon the constables to strive for professional excellence and to be prepared to face any type of challenge in course of their career.

He also gave away prizes for excellence during training. These included Manoj Kumar (Best overall), Hem Raj (drill), Vijay Shankar (PT), Kamlesh (weapon training) and Nityanand Yadav (firing).



Seminar on use of pesticides

Panchkula, December 21
A one-day national seminar on excessive use of pesticides and chemicals was organised at Government College, Sector 1, here. The seminar was coordinated by Vimla Aggarwal, assistant professor, zoology, and compered by Richa Setia, assistant professor, microbiology.

The resource persons at the seminar included professor RM Bhagat, director, resident instructions-cum-dean, postgraduate studies, Sher-é-Kashmir University of Agricultural Science and Technology, Jammu (J&K), professor PC Joshi, department of zoology and environment science, Gurukul Kangri University, Hardwar, and Dr AK Sharma, principal scientist and head, department of crop protection, Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal.

Besides, 120 delegates from various colleges and universities of Chandigarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Punjab and Uttarakhand participated in the seminar organised by the department of botany of the college. — TNS



Residents brave chilly winds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Chilly winds continued to sweep the city and its adjoining areas for the second day today, forcing residents to remain ensconced in the warm confines of their homes.

Weather office sources said the chilly winds were a direct offshoot of the western disturbances, which had picked up following snowfall in higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh yesterday.

The maximum temperature was recorded at 22.6 °C, while the minimum was recorded at 6.6 °C here today.

Both air and railway traffic was hit due to morning fog. Officials at the railway station said the Shatabdi Express, which was scheduled to arrive at the Chandigarh railway station at 11 in the morning, was late by 25 minutes.

Similarly, Kingfisher’s Chandigarh-Srinagar flight, which was scheduled to depart the Chandigarh airport at 9.30 am, took off 45 minutes late at 10.15 am.

However, Jet Airways’ Mumbai-Chandigarh and GoAir airlines’ Mumbai-Chandigarh flight delays were attributed to traffic congestion at Mumbai.

City residents pulled out more woollens as overnight cold winds from the northern hills brought more chill to the city today.

But the northwesterly winds blowing at a speed of around 30 kmph brought the nip in the air.

The cold winds are likely to continue, the weathermen said attributing it to the prevailing western disturbance in Jammu and Kashmir.

The meteorological department has predicted partly cloudy sky with fog/mist in the morning.

The sun, however, will continue to play hide-and-seek. The night temperature is also likely to decline further.

The weekend is also likely to get colder with the minimum temperature set to drop further.

“These are the few days we can enjoy bonfires, steaming cups of coffee and pakoras,” said Ram Sagar, a bank employee.



Medicinal plants distributed
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, December 21
To apprise the general public about environment pollution, a seminar on “social and environment pollution” was organised by the Joint Coordination Committee comprising of three social organisations viz. Senior Citizen Forum, Green Earth Environment Society and Samaj Sudhar Vikas Manch of Zirakpur yesterday.

Local Congress leader Dipinder Singh Dhillon was the chief guest. The president (Joint Coordination Committee), RK Bhardwaj, stressed upon the need of awareness about environment pollution.

The secretary of coordination committee, Dr Devinder Singh Sethi, told the gathering about the benefits of herbs used in the Indian kitchen and the ill effects of modern food habits influenced by the western culture. Charanjit Singh Mehta, advisor (coordination committee), stressed upon saving the society from both social and environmental pollution.

Dhillon said people should understand their social responsibilities and do their bit of duty towards mother earth and society at large. He lauded the efforts put in by the Joint Coordination Committee towards making the environment clean and healthy. He distributed medicinal plants to around 100 participants and gave a sum of Rs 11,000 to the coordination committee.



CBSE schools to adopt HIV+ applicants
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
In the upcoming session, schools affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) may soon be asked to mandatorily accommodate HIV+ applicant and even those who belong to HIV+ families.

The decision taken by the CBSE, Delhi, comes in wake of reported incidents of denial of admission to several deserving HIV+ candidates in some states.

According to the board's recent circular, certain incidents have been reported from states, including Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

While all efforts to contact DR Yadav, regional head, CBSE, proved futile a senior official from Delhi said: “We have sent circulars to schools in cities like Bangalore and all and those in Chandigarh will be issued the same by January. In rural areas many such kids are denied admission and in most cases it’s the reluctance on part of the parents that create problems. Though things are not very bad in Chandigarh, still after a meeting with regional office we shall instruct the schools soon.”

The board warns that reluctance on part of schools to admit HIV+ students violates the constitutional rights of children.

The circular places the responsibility on school management to protect the rights of such children and treat them fairly.

It may be noted that the board is soon going to launch the Adolescent Education Programme (AEP) in schools, where kids would be sensitised on HIV/AIDS and substance abuse.



PU Notes
PU teachers awarded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Dr Praveen Rishi, associate professor, department of microbiology, Panjab University, has been conferred Fellow, Association of Microbiologists of India (FAMI) award during the golden jubilee conference of the Association of Microbiologists of India (AMI) at National Chemical Laboratory, Pune.

She is the first one to receive this honour. Dr Rishi is working in the field of medical microbiology and immunology with core research programmes on pathogenesis with an ultimate aim to prevent salmonella infections.

In view of the emerging drug resistance, she has been working on biocompatible agents, including phytochemicals for endotoxin-mediated hepatotoxicity as well as probiotics and synbiotic to combat Salmonella infections.

Another teacher of the university, Anurag, assistant professor of pharmacology, has been awarded the prestigious “Young Investigator Award” at the 4th International Conference on Polyphenols and Health (ICPH) at International Convention Centre, Harrogate, England.

The award carries a cash prize along with a citation. As many as 1,025 scientists engaged in polyphenol research from over 30 countries attended the conference.

The award was presented for his research “Tocotrienol Attenuates Oxidative-Nitrosative Stress and Inflammatory Cascade in Experimental Model of Diabetic Neuropathy.”

Refresher course

During the on-going refresher course in “Performing and Visual Arts” in the department of music, Jagdeep Singh Bedi from Gandharv Mahavidyalaya, Delhi, today played raga bilawal and a folk tune of Punjab.

“He demonstrated all the embellishment of sitar playing like meend, zamzama krintan, gitkani, etc,” said Dr Pankaj Mala Sharma, chairperson and coordinator of the course.

The valedictory function of the refresher course was held on ICSSR Complex, PU campus, here today.

The main attraction of the function was the visit of Punjabi poet, Surjit Patar. He recited several poems and one of his new poems on purity of languages was much appreciated.

He also recited poems from his first collection, “Birkh Arj Kare” in melody and rhythm. He also put forward some of his poems on Punjab and also on Punjabi culture. One of his poems was related to his student Piare Lal.

Prof Shelly Walia, director of Academic Staff College, also highlighted the effort of ASC to initiate efforts, so that different languages can be brought together in an institutional manner. He underlined “how coming together makes us understand our own language better.” He put forward the view that comparative literature is the need of the hour.

The function also included giving away of grade certificates to the participants, numbering 33 from the disciplines of Punjabi, Hindi, Sanskrit and Tibetan. This was preceded by a cultural programme and feedback session by the participating teachers from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and West Bengal.

The feedback session included presentations from Pali Bhupinder, Ajay Kumar Srivastava and Mandip Kaur.

The programme was presided over by renowned Hindi short story writer and former head of Hindi department Prof Virendar Mehndiratta.

Dr Satya Pal Sehgal, coordinator of the course, made a brief comment on the course and highlighted the involvement of participants in the academic proceedings.

UGC-NET exam on Dec 27

Dr Nahar Singh, coordinator, UGC-NET, PU, said the UGC-NET Examination will be held on December 27. For those whose examination centre is MCM DAV College (Centre No.48) may note that the college is in Sector 36-A, Chandigarh. There was a misprint in the address as Sector 36-B.

Academic module

An academic module as per the requirement of Panjab University has been prepared. All chairpersons of teaching departments and directors of the institutes are requested to use the software for academic purpose, which includes students profile, time table, syllabi, computerised attendance, internal assessment, hostel linkage etc. The data of those departments that supplied their soft copy to the director, computer centre has been uploaded.

PU authorities have requested the chairpersons and directors to ensure that the data is updated and that they start using the software from the beginning of every semester.



Looking Ahead: 2010
Panjab University
Autonomy for colleges, arrears expected
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 21
Right from the Prime Minister’s visit to his alma mater, to receiving the PURSE award from the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, 2009 has been an eventful year for Panjab University.

Though not offering anything concrete to the university during their visits, political stars dawned on the campus. Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal, Sports Minister MS Gill and MP Rahul Gandhi, were among those who visited the PU.

Looking ahead, the teachers would soon get their arrears in the new year since the new pay scales, which had already been implemented, were applicable from 2006 onwards.

The removal of capping of funds by the Centre was the highlight of this year, which would continue to draw the attention even in the year to come.

The Centre would now pay 60 per cent of the actual deficit of the PU’s budget in accordance to the division of 60:40 between the Central and the Punjab government, respectively.

With a steadfast flow of funds from the Centre for improvement in science departments and development of infrastructure in laboratories, never before in its history did the PU witness such an elevation in its position at a national level. While enjoying its share of glory, the university management witnessed stringent opposition from the teachers’ body.

Having released a series of press notes on the issue of filling up vacant posts and alleging lack of concern of the authorities in the matter, the Panjab University Teachers Association (PUTA) later invited wrath from within its executive body members, which accused the president of being an autocrat.

Notwithstanding PUTA’s outburst, the authorities ordered a detailed academic audit of the PU, which would give details of the number of seats vacant, number of re-employed teachers and other details.

The PU authorities also claimed that the process of filling posts was on hold due to instructions from the UGC. It did not miss the opportunity to announce that re-employed teachers would have to go, if the seats were to be filled.

Towards the end of the year, controversies continued to surround the Dean University Instruction Prof SC Vaidya, who refrained from speaking to mediapersons.

There were reports of some contentious files being cleared by him in the absence of the VC. To add to the qualms of university functionaries, some strange and some factual queries were raised through RTI applications throughout the year.

On the political front, syndicate elections were swept by the Chathrath-Goyal lobby, with all the 15 seats falling in their kitty. Dean Student Welfare Prof Naval Kishore won by the maximum number of votes.

Though there were grounds of disagreement between the rotation BJP group and the Chathrath group till a few weeks before the senate meeting, both appeared to have entered into an amicable agreement during the meet.

Some development could be expected on the issue of autonomous status to colleges, which continued to be deadlocked presently. In 2010, what remained to be seen was whether the PU’s evaluation system would recover from the stigma of limited evaluators.

The implementation of a key decision made in the senate meeting regarding the minimum number of answer sheets to be checked by each teacher also remained to be seen. In case this formula worked successfully, it could provide some hope of pulling out the university from the shadows of a poor evaluation system.



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