C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S

School never expelled Ruchika, says Principal
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Denying all allegations of having victimised Ruchika, Scared Heart School today issued a statement, saying she was never expelled.

According to sources, Principal Sr Sebastina, who returned to the city this evening, met SDM Prena Puri and told her that Ruchika was never expelled from the school and it was only when school fees pertaining to her were not deposited for six months continuously during the period of April-September 1990 that her name was not carried on rolls.

The school also promised to supply all documentary records required by the administration, but subject to availability, as the matter is two decades old.

The school also reportedly repeated its prior apprehension that the fees might not have been intentionally paid by parents who might have chosen to withdraw the child under those circumstances.

It may be noted that the UT administration, reacting on a complaint filed by a close associate of Prakash Anand, had marked an inquiry against the school for allegedly expelling Ruchika under pressure a month after her reported molestation. Ruchika was a Class X student at that time and coincidently Rathore's daughter was her classmate.

Meanwhile, supporters of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (Bajrang Dal) staged a protest outside the school, demanding the cancellation of its affiliation and taking away of the state award presented to the Principal in 2005.



BSP to abstain from mayoral poll 
A shot in the arm for Cong
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
With the decision of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to abstain from voting during the mayoral elections of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation scheduled for tomorrow, the chances of winning the posts of mayor, senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor have become brighter for the Congress.

Going by the numbers, the Opposition alliance of the BJP and SAD in the house is left with only seven votes, as four BSP councillors will abstain from voting, as per the decision of their party. The Congress is already at an advantage, as it has 16 votes in its kitty. Even if all nine nominated councillors side with the Opposition, they will not be able to win. Also, many nominated members are the staunch supporters of the Congress.

Sources revealed that the local unit of the BSP had sent a proposal to their high command that they would support mayor candidate Harjinder Kaur, but would abstain from voting in the senior deputy mayor and deputy mayor elections. Local councillors did not want to support the BJP with whom they do not have any alliance at the national level.

When contacted BSP local president Harmohan Dhawan confirmed that they had been directed by the high command not to support any party in the mayoral elections, as the party had no alliance with BJP or their alliance or Congress at the national level. So they have decided not to support any party in the elections tomorrow.

Sources in the BJP-SAD alliance said after the decision of the BSP to abstain from elections, mayor candidate Harjinder Kaur might withdraw from the elections tomorrow.

While the Congress has fielded Anu Chatrath, a two-time councillor for the post of mayor, the BJP-SAD alliance three-time councillor Harjinder Kaur for the post of mayor. For the post of senior deputy mayor, the Congress has fielded Bhupinder Singh Bhadheri, who recently won the byelections, while Anil Kumar Dubey has been fielded by the BJP for the post of senior deputy mayor. Sheela Devi is the candidate of the Congress for the post of deputy mayor, while Sunita Choudhary has been fielded by the BJP-SAD.



Babla gets permisssion to vote
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Civil Court today granted permission to Devinder Singh Babla to cast his vote in the Municipal Corporation’s mayoral election tomorrow. Besides, the court has remanded him in one-day police custody.

The defence counsel, while pleading for permission, cited the example of controversial RJD MP Pappu Yadav in his application. “Serving a life sentence in Tihar Jail in a murder case, Pappu Yadav was given permission by the Delhi High Court to participate in the trial of strength in the Lok Sabha in 2007. He was convicted by a trial court in a case of murder,” said the application.

Meanwhile, sources said Babla, during his interrogation, told police officials that he used four sim cards to avoid being tracked down by the police during his four-month absence. He had destroyed two sim cards, while the other two were left with the owner of a restaurant in Mumbai, where he dined.

“Babla told the police that he had stayed in Shirdi, Tripati, Mumbai, Jaipur and Jammu during his runaway period,” a police official told TNS.

Seeking to extend his police remand for another seven days, the police said in the court that they wanted to get the names of the persons who sheltered the accused during these months. The police said Babla had furnished a fake identification proof to get the sim cards. The police said they would get vital clues from the sim cards and the phones used by the accused.

The police said it wanted to know about the persons who benefited from the illegal allotment of the vegetable auction sheds in the Grain Market.

Meanwhile, UT’s Senior Standing Counsel Anupam Gupta said the police had taken the market committee record in its custody and would interrogate the accused to corroborate the evidence collected with this statement. He added that the two-day remand was insufficient in view of the “gravity, scale and magnitude of the case”.

On the other hand, the defence counsel pleaded that the police had already seized the records soon after the registration of the case in August and had interrogated the accused in the past two days.

Terming it nothing but a political vendetta, Babla said he had no objection to the extension of his police remand. He apprehended that he would be implicated in more cases. 

It’s for MC to decide: Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Senior Standing Counsel for UT Administration Anupam Gupta, in his opinion sent to the UT Administrator, Gen SF Rodrigues (retd), has stated that under Section 36 (1A) of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, it was for the Municipal Corporation to grant permission or not to a councillor for three-month-long absence and declare his seat vacant. The point of reference is the case of councillor Devinder Babla.

Citing Section 61(1) of the Act, Gupta said all matters required to be decided by the corporation shall be decided by the majority of votes of the members present and voting. It has been further stated that under Section 36 (1A) of the Act would definitely be justifiable and open to judicial review both in case of grant of permission to a councillor for a prolonged absence or refusal of permission and declaration of a councillor’s seat as vacant thereunder. 



Flights, trains hit by fog
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Fog played havoc with flight and rail schedules today, with GoAir Airlines having to cancel its Delhi-Chandigarh and Chandigarh-Mumbai flights, while several long-distance trains running on the Chandigarh-Ambala-Delhi-Lucknow rail section, including Shatabdi Express, were delayed by a few hours due to foggy conditions.

Air travellers had a harrowing time at the Chandigarh airport today, as six out of the total seven flights were cancelled due to poor visibility.

The two Jet Airways flights to Delhi and Mumbai and Kingfisher Airlines Chandigarh-Srinagar and Srinagar-Delhi-Chandigarh flights each were also cancelled, inconveniencing the passengers.

Some of the passengers had heated arguments with the GoAir officials over the delays and inconvenience caused to them.

However, GoAir Airlines officials told TNS that those passengers who turned up at the airport for its Delhi-bound flight today were sent by road along with a full refund of the ticket.

Among the trains arriving late were Shatabdi Express, which reached here at 1.10 pm, nearly two hours behind schedule. The Himalayan Queen arrived at 1.15 pm, nearly two-and-a-half hours behind schedule. The Sadbhavna Express (Chandigarh-Lucknow), which was late by about four hours, arrived at 2 pm. The Unchahar train was also late by about three hours.

“People must understand that during such foggy conditions, the Railways can’t do anything. We have taken up the issue with the officials, but they tell us that we believe in safety of the passengers first,” said RK Datta, station superintendent, Chandigarh railway station. He urged the people to cooperate with the Railway authorities.



H1N1: 3 more test positive
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
With three more persons being tested positive for H1N1, the total number of confirmed swine flu cases in the city has gone up to 58.

"Out of 14 samples collected yesterday, three tested positive today. All patients are admitted to the PGI,” UT nodal officer for swine flu HC Gera said.

A total of 329 positive cases have been reported so far in all government hospitals. Those who were tested positive for swine flu are from Punjab and Haryana.

Meanwhile, more doctors from the GMCH-32 and GMSH-16 have been authorised for prescribing Tamiflu to suspected/confirmed cases of swine flu. 


‘Immigrants must adopt legal ways’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
People looking for greener pastures from the Third World, particularly India, to the developed countries should adopt legal ways for immigration to avoid complications, said Lois Brown, member of Parliament from Newmarket-Aurora, Ontario.

She is also a member of the House of Commons Standing Committees on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

While speaking at a function organised by WWICS, Chandigarh, at Toronto last week as part of its 16th anniversary celebrations, Brown stressed the need for ethics in the resettlement business. Over 500 immigrants, business associates, political bigwigs, dignitaries, industrialists and mediapersons from India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Africa and South America (Trinidad, Tobago and Jamaica) were present.

Political invitees included Kyle Seeback, candidate

of the Canadian Conservative Party from Brampton West, and prominent lawyer Simmons Da Silva were also there, a press note issued here today said.

“Combining our transparent approach towards immigration issue with leading edge technology, we have kept aspiring immigrants at the forefront in providing them placement and settlement services,” Devinder Sandhu, senior director of WWICS said.

He said negative population growth in countries like Canada, Australia and Europe forced them to get immigrants to contribute to their economy. Europe and Canada have opened floodgates for investment opportunities, he added.



City shivers as mercury dips further
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Piercing cold wave continued to sweep the city today even as the mercury dipped slightly to settle at 3.4 degree Celsius. Yesterday, the minimum was 3.8 degree Celsius. The maximum temperature, meanwhile, was recorded at 19.0 degree Celsius.

While thin fog engulfed the city early morning reducing the visibility to around 500m, it later gave way to clear sky. The temperature in the city has been oscillating between 5 and 21 degree Celsius this past week. While today, the temperature had dipped to 3.4 degree Celsius, on Wednesday it went up with the minimum temperature being recorded at 3.8 degree Celsius.

The met department said the fluctuation in temperature would continue for some time and predicted mainly clear sky with mist/fog and ground frost in the morning and night. The maximum and minimum are likely to hover around 21 and 5 degree Celsius respectively on Friday.

The sudden drop in temperatures is the result of dipping mercury in the northern region. A senior met official attributed the cold to northwesterly winds blowing over north India and snowfall in higher reaches of Himachal and Kashmir valley.

"I expect that it will get colder during the night so I will carry an extra sweater to celebrate New Year." said Urvashi Chopra, a college student.

A young couple said they had decided to celebrate the New Year in a local hotel but dropped the idea because of icy winds and fog. 



Tribune asst editor retires
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Dr Renuka Nayyar, Acting Assistant Editor of Dainik Tribune, retired today after putting in over 31 years of service.

Dr Nayyar joined Dainik Tribune on July 15, 1978, as sub-editor and had the distinction of being the first woman sub-editor in The Tribune Trust. She served the newspapers in various capacities, including the Magazine Editor.

She started her career in a Jalandhar daily and later joined Dainik Tribune as the founding member of the editorial team.

She has written five books on various subject and wrote a column in the newspaper for over 20 years.

She was given a warm farewell by the staff, which was attended by Naresh Kaushal, Editor, Dainik Tribune and Varinder Walia, Editor, Punjabi Tribune, besides her other colleagues.



Tribune asst manager retires
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Baldev Chand Sharma, assistant manager (press) retired today after putting in 36 years of service. He joined The Tribune in 1974.

A farewell party was organised in the honour of Sharma, which was attended by SC Sinha, deputy manager (press). Sinha admired the dedication of Sharma towards the institution.

Earlier in the day, a farewell party was also organised by the managerial section. On the occasion, Mahipal Vaid, manager (materials), lauded the meritorious services rendered by Sharma.



Mullanpur Urban Estate
Villagers seek compensation at market rates
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 31
Rejecting the land pooling scheme in its existing format, landowners of Mullanpur have sought that the Punjab government allows them to retain a part of their land and also compensate them at market rates.

Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is acquiring 447 acres in Devinagar, Bharaujian, Mullanpur, Ratwara Sahib and Ferozepur villages for Mullanpur urban estate.

While filing their objections under the Land Acquisition Act before the District Revenue Officer (DRO), Mohali, the landowners demanded that the land pooling scheme be modified to ensure that after every one acre acquired, they should be allowed to retain two-kanals.

Citing the existing land rates in the area, the villagers have demanded that they should be adequately compensated.

Earlier, landowners of Bakarpur, Kishanpura, Matran and Chachu Majra villages had objected to the existing format of the land pooling scheme.

The land is being acquired for mix-land use along the roads proposed to connect the international airport with the Zirakpur-Patiala and the Chandigarh-Kharar highways. The proposed urban estate falls is the first urban settlement, which is being developed by GMADA to the north of Chandigarh.

Being carved out along the Chandigarh-Baddi road, the urban estate would be an attraction for investors. “As per norms, around 100 persons per acre will be allowed,” said an official in the housing and urban development department.

Since the area is being developed from scratch, health village, knowledge village and eco-tourism related activities at Mullanpur local planning area would be added attraction.

GMADA consultants for the project, Jurong Ltd, has proposed recreational facilities like amusement park, spa village, open-air theatres, theme parks and lifestyle hub, including golf course and sports facilities around the seasonal rivulets passing through the area.



B.Tech student found dead
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 31
Shubham Aggarwal, a B.Tech student belonging to Dharamsala (Himachal Pradesh), was found dead under mysterious circumstances in Sector 10 here today.

He was studying in the first year at the ICL Group of Colleges, Shahzadpur, and was staying as a paying guest.

The police said his roommates, Rohit and Surinder, with the help of house-owner Ramesh Kumar, took him to Government Hospital, Sector- 6, where doctors decared him brought dead. Shubham’s parents were informed in Dharamsala.



CTU to double bus fares 
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) has decided to double the bus fares for passengers travelling more than 5 km on a straight run in the buses plying in the Union Territory and adjoining towns of Mohali and Panchkula in the coming fortnight.

The bus fare will be Rs 10 now for those travelling more than 5 km on a straight run against the existing charges of Rs 5. The CTU will charge Rs 15 instead of the existing rate of Rs 10 from the passengers travelling in the AC buses for more than 5 km.

The unlimited travel passes for Saturday and Sunday for non-AC buses will now cost Rs 30, while the AC passes will cost Rs 50.The general travel passes for unlimited travel on a monthly basis will be enhanced by Rs 30 to Rs 350, while the daily bus parking charges have been enhanced to Rs 150.

Confirming the development, Ram Niwas, Home Secretary, said, “We have decided, in principle, to increase the bus fares from January 2010. The exact date will be announced in the coming week. The passenger fare will be increased definitely.”

ML Sharma, Director of the CTU, said, “We have worked out two rate slabs for buses on all routes in the city. A non-air-conditioned bus on a straight run, anywhere in the city, will now cost Rs 10 for those traveling more than 5 km, while an AC bus fare will be Rs 15 for the same distance. Commuters travelling to places outside the city limits will be charged marginally higher.”

Sharma said, “The bus fares are being enhanced largely to meet the expenses of the new buses being introduced in the city for a faster and better service. We did not want to overburden all passengers. So small-distance travellers have been exempted from any increase in their existing fares. The UT has received a consignment of 14 buses from the Centre under the JNURRM scheme. The UT expects a revenue increase, of at least Rs 5 crore with the new fare structure.”

Employed with an aim of promoting greater travel by the CTU buses and reducing traffic rush on the roads, the CTU-introduced mini-AC buses are showing more than 100 per cent occupancy on different routes.

The new buses are Euro III model and promise greater passenger convenience with new facilities, particularly relating to seating. A majority of them will be introduced on special routes.



2010 welcomed with fervour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Intense cold failed to foil the thrill,as revellers took to streets to celebrate the New Year. Well before the clock struck 12, celebrations began, as partying crowd rocked the city roads while dancing their way into 2010.

Police had to resort to lathicharge at the Sector 17 plaza, as high-spirited revellers seemed slipping from merry making to hooliganism. Unaware of the police presence, a section of youngsters took to drinking at public parking around the plaza. It seemed that all roads led to the celebrations, as wild shrieks of excitement drowned the deafening noise of honking cars on the last day of 2009.

At discotheques and night clubs, ecstatic figures danced on the polished dance floors to the thumping beats of bhangra music. A huge rush of youngsters could be seen outside discotheque.



Candle march against misuse of Section 498-A
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Around 50 persons took out a candle march against the misuse of Section 498-A (dowry harassment) at the Sector 17 plaza here this evening.

They expressed resentment against the apathetic attitude of the government and judiciary towards their sufferings. These persons, who were implicated in “false” dowry harassment cases, termed 2009 as “Black Year”.

They urged the government to curb this “legal terrorism”.

They claimed that hundreds of families were being ruined by the blatant misuse of the law. They appealed to the government to take stern action against those, who misused the law to settle their scores. 



Power Cuts
City was better off than neighbours
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The year 2009 may have spelt power shortages all over the country, but Chandigarh had a different experience. While people in the neighbouring states reeled under severe and prolonged power cuts, residents of Chandigarh were spared by the outages, thanks to the keen efforts made by the electricity department of the UT administration to meet the challenge.

“We went to the extent of buying power at the rate of Rs 10 per unit, but ensured two things that power is made available to consumers with a few power cuts and power tariff, fixed in 2005, is not raised,” said Sanjay Kumar, Power-cum-Finance Secretary. With a view to maintaining continuous power supply in the Union Territory, the administration took some corrective and curative measures in 2009.

Surinder Pall, UT Chief Engineer, said two transformers (1,000 kva and 300 kva) were installed to strengthen the distribution network, steps were taken to improve transmission and line losses were cut down.

The electricity department spent Rs 35 crore to upgrade the existing infrastructure. While Rs 27 crore was spent on 33 kv and above works, the remaining Rs 6.5 cr was spent on 11 kv and below works. The department plans to spend about Rs 14 crore in 2009-10 on the infrastructure.

The electricity wing of the department successfully reduced the line losses from 18.67 per cent in 2007-08 to 17.89 per cent in 2008-09.

“Conscious of the growing demand for power in Chandigarh, which is fast emerging as a commercial hub, the demand has gone up from 150 mw per day in 2004 to 300 mw per day, the administration has decided to upgrade the 33 kv sub-station to 66 kv in Sector 34 and 66 kv sub-station at the IT Park. Besides, the existing transformers at 66 kv sub-station in Sector 1 and 12 are being reinstalled, work for which has been assigned to the PGCL,” Surinder Pall said. For 2010, the administration has made arrangements for the supply of another 1,000 mws.



Housefed seeks full-time chief administrator
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 31
The Housefed Flat Sangarsh Committee (Sector 79), Mohali, has demanded that a full-time chief administrator of Housefed should be appointed by the government so that work related to the construction of 632 flats could be expedited as the present incumbent was allegedly not taking much interest in the work of the department.

Naresh Kumar Trehan and Amarjit Singh, president and general secretary, respectively, of the committee said VK Bansal, additional registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, who was holding the additional charge as chief administrator, Housefed, was not taking interest in the construction of flats and had also failed to meet office-bearers of the committee since the past two months despite repeated requests.

Trehan said a three-party meeting was held on October 1, during which the issue relating to the construction of 632 flats was discussed. It was also decided to pay interest on the amounts paid by members for the construction of these flats, a compensation ranging between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 8 lakh be paid for deficiency in service to members who had undergone harassment and 100 per cent reimbursement of the house rent which allottees had to pay because flats were not made available to them.

Three months had passed, but the Housefed authorities had failed to take any action.



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