C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Fog trips grid, paralyses life
Hits road, rail, air traffic; blackout in city, peripheral towns
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
Chandigarh and its peripheral towns plunged into darkness in the wee hours on Saturday as the northern grid collapsed due to thick fog, affecting rail, air and road traffic. The tricity again plunged into darkness around 10.10 pm today due to failure in the northern grid.

City residents woke up to a power blackout and missed their morning chores. The power in the city, Mohali and Panchkula was restored at around 10 am. There was chaos on city roads as traffic lights failed and motorists tried to meet their deadlines.

Power in the city tripped at around 1.15 am. The affected areas included Sectors 2, 3, 10, 11, 15, 12, 14, 24, 25 and a majority of the Southern sectors.

A senior official of the electricity department said the complications had developed following snags in the Bhakra and the Nathpa-Jhakri supply lines, separately.

Shalini Mahajan, a housewife, said: “We faced problems preparing breakfast for our children today morning”. Brijesh Malhotra, a chartered accountant, said: “My family faced problems when we were returning home a couple of hours after midnight as the streetlights were not functioning.”

The worst affected were the air and the rail passengers. Due to the grid failure, the supply to the railway network from Dhulkot sub-station remained suspended for hours. Some of the trains were running 12 to 15 hours behind schedule. “The trains remained stranded for nearly three-and-a-half hours due to power failure. But now the situation is under control and rail traffic has been resumed,” said officials at the Chandigarh station. The railways had to use diesel engines to resume rail traffic.

In Ambala division, over 50 trains were affected. Different pairs of Shatabdi Express ran one to two hours behind schedule. The Kalka-Delhi Shatabdi departed late by over an hour and the Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi was over three hours behind schedule. The Jan Shatabdi left Chandigarh railway station for Delhi at 10.50 am instead of 7.50 am, late by three hours.

The Sadbhavna Express (Lucknow-Chandigarh), which was late by about two hours, arrived at 12.30 pm. The Unchahar train was also late by 12 hour. The Howrah-Kalka train arrived 15 hours late and the Jaipur-Chandigarh train was four hours behind schedule. Some passengers also complained of inadequate information from the railway officials.

The cold wave conditions and power blackout also led to all cancellation of flight. Jet Airways and Kingfisher Airlines had already announced the cancellation of all its to and fro flights due to poor visibility while Indian Airlines and GoAir made the announcement in the afternoon. However, as per the Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials, the zero visibility at the Chandigarh airport was the reason behind the cancellation of flights.

Met officials said the fog would continue over the region due to dry and cold spell. Termed as most intense during the season, the fog reduced visibility to as low as 50 metres this morning.

In Mohali, the power snag only added to the woes of residents as the scheduled power cuts badly affected the business activity. PSEB officials said two regular power cuts of three hours duration each were being imposed due power shortage.



Snag in thermal power plants
Tribune Reporters

Ropar/Panchkula, January 2
Six units of Ropar thermal power plant snapped following tripping of the northern grid. While unit number 4 and 5 were restored after 12 hours at 3 pm, the other units could be started only late in the evening on Saturday.

Powerhouses of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) too tripped but were immediately restored by 3:25 am.

The rail traffic was also affected due to power failure and poor visibility. The Ambala-Nangal train was late by over hour, the Nangal-Ambala train was late by three-and-half hours, train number 4553 passenger was running late by five-and-half hours. Similarly, the Jan Shatabdi running from Una to Delhi was late by almost three hours.

Meanwhile, the 400 KV lines of the Power Grid Corporation tripped at some places causing power failure in Haryana as 220 KV lines of the state are connected with the grid system.

An official spokesman said the power generating units at thermal plants in Panipat, Yamunanagar and Faridabad tripped due to load unbalance between 1.55 am and 3.57 am.

The spokesman said the transmission lines of the state were made functional by deputing special teams. The Haryana Power Utilities had overdrawn about 600 MW power since afternoon to meet the requirement of electricity consumers, he said.



Fog hits normal life
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
People continued to shiver under the cold wave in the city with the minimum temperature staying at 4.2 °C while the maximum dipping from yesterday’s 19 °C to 16.2 °C.

There was no respite even during the day as mercury only rose up to 16.2 °C, forcing residents to stay indoor.

Morning was foggy with some sunshine during the day but as the sky cleared a little, it forced the temperature to fall drastically.

Icy winds added to the intensity and the biting cold swept the city and its adjoining areas, disrupting normal life.

“It was so difficult to drive in the morning as the visibility was restricted to just a few metres. I had set off for Ambala early for some business but it took me half an hour extra to reach there,” said Pankaj Arora, a resident of Sector 40.

The weathermen predicted cloudy conditions over the city with chances of some showers. Cloudy conditions were likely to continue for a day or two, it said.

The met office has also forecast dense fog in the region tomorrow with minimum temperature hovering around 4 and 5 °C.



Baba Pritpal finally in police net
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
After being on the run for months, proclaimed offender Baba Pritpal Singh today landed in the Chandigarh Police net at Machiwara in Ludhiana this evening.

The Chandigarh Police had been facing music at the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the past over four months for not being able to nab Baba Pritpal Singh, the chairman of the Shiromani Sant Khalsa International Foundation, Gur Sagar Sahib (Jheel Wala) Kaimbwala village.

DSP (CID) Satbir Singh, in charge of the recently constituted Special Investigation Team (SIT) to nab Baba, said his team got a tip-off that Baba was seen in Rohruyan village near Machiwara in Ludhiana. The team rushed to the village and nabbed him at around 4:45 pm.

Satbir Singh said Baba would be produced before a local court for police remand tomorrow. The police would interrogate him about his role in the cheating and forgery case for selling land of an NRI woman to a private construction company. The police would also quiz him about where he stayed and who were the people who harboured him during his run.

When asked, Baba said he had full faith in the judiciary. “I have done nothing wrong. Truth will come out soon. I was coming from Hazoor Sahib to surrender before the police, when they arrested me,” he said.

Meanwhile, several followers of Baba thronged the Sector 16 Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, where he was taken for a medical examination.

The Chandigarh Police had registered a case of forgery, cheating and criminal conspiracy against him and others on May 20, 2008, following a complaint lodged by Rattan S Singh, vice-chairman of the ATS Company.

It was alleged that Baba had sold 13 biswa of land in Madhopur village near Dera Bassi to the company after taking over Rs 1.2 crore on September 30, 2005, on the basis of a general power of attorney.

The company later found that the land originally belonged to an NRI woman, Kamaljit Kaur, who claimed that she had never executed the GPA. Baba had moved an anticipatory bail in a session’s court, which was rejected on July 21, 2009.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court in August directed the Chandigarh Police to arrest Baba within a week, but the police had failed to comply the orders. The police remained at the receiving end and faced humiliation for not being able to nab Baba. He was later declared a proclaimed offender on October 23, last year.

The police put a reward of Rs 25,000 on anyone providing information about the absconding Baba on December 17 and constituted the SIT on December 19.

On December 22, the high court again directed the police to arrest Baba before February 9. The police had submitted a list of properties owned by Baba in a local court for attachment of the same to exert pressure on him to surrender.



Another victory for Ruchika case crusader
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
For the crusader family of Anand Prakash, who is in the forefront of fighting for justice for Ruchika, a victory back home seems to have gone unnoticed.

An assistant professor at Punjab Engineering College (PEC), who was found to have fudging travelling bills for reimbursement, has been “compulsorily retired” from the college following a compliant filed by Anand Prakash.

Anand Prakash, an alumnus of the college, had brought the assistant professor’s cheating to the notice of the college authorities along with damning evidence following which an inquiry was instituted three years back. The inquiry committee has now found the assistant professor guilty and as a punishment, the college director has relieved him from the service.

Assistant professor RR Singh was working in the civil engineering department and was given sanction to attend a conference at New Delhi in March 2007. He went to Delhi on the train but submitted TA/DA claim certifying that he undertook the journey in his own car from Chandigarh to New Delhi and back and accordingly received a travelling allowance.

In May that year, Anand Parkash complained to the PEC director alleging that Dr RR Singh did not travel by his own car for attending the conference as his own car remained parked at the Chandigarh railway station.

Prakash also handed over to PEC a copy of the parking slip of the Chandigarh railway station of RR Singh’s car, photographs of the car in the parking lot, along with an eyewitness. He also procured a certificate from the NHAI toll plaza that no car bearing such and such number travelled to Delhi that day.

Dr Singh was chargesheeted in August that year and an inquiry was ordered against him. The proceedings continued for over an year and sources add that out of the total 29 hearings of the inquiry, in as many as 17 hearings, Singh was either absent without information or absent on medical grounds or sought adjournment on some grounds or left the inquiry proceedings in-between. Anand Prakash appeared as a witness in the case.

In June 2009, the inquiry officer submitted his report stating that all the charges stand proved against him. On December 24, 2009, the PEC director, being the appointing and the punishing authority in the case, imposed the punishment of ‘compulsory retirement’ upon RR Singh.



Ruchika Case
Admn to question classteacher
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
The fact finding inquiry marked into the case of alleged under pressure expulsion of Ruchika Girhotra by Scared Heart School, Sector 26, took a new turn today with UT administration now looking forward to question her classteacher. Though in the enquiry, that stretched upto 10 pm today, one of the teachers was questioned, whether she was Ruchika’s classteacher or not is yet to be confirmed.

It may be noted that after a prolonged wait, the principal Sr Sebastina finally joined the inquiry, but the administration now wants to speak to her classteacher.

According to sources, it was during the evaluation of records that it was noticed that in attendance register all those students who had discontinued, their names had “left” written in front of them, however, in case of Ruchika there was a specific comment, which according to some unconfirmed reports referred to her name being “struck off”.

Given to the fact that the attendance registers in most of the schools are updated by classteacher, the administration wants to question her now.

The principal, meanwhile, has reinforced in her statement that Ruchika was never expelled even though she as per the records she had not paid her fee for the past six months. And her attendance was also dipping ever since she was promoted to Class IX. .

In the supporting documentary proof furnished by her is the attendance record of Ruchika, which according to sources was dipping ever since she was promoted to Class IX.

The school has also put forth several cases where a child was allowed to continue even after delay or non-payment of fee after parents’ written request.

Many examples were also cited where after taking name off the rolls, the student was readmitted after written communication from parents.

According to a senior school official, parents might have withdrawn Ruchika.

“I just want to raise two points that if her name was taken off the roll then why didn’t her parents, even for once, got in touch with the school and gave any written request or complaint? Also what barred them from demanding any transfer certificate from us? We have not expelled anybody.” He said.



Kalka MLA kin booked for attempt to murder
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 2
The police has booked nephew of Pardeep Chaudhary, Kalka MLA, in an attempt to murder case.

The police today raided several places in the town to nab the accused, Karun Chaudhary, son of former municipal council president Seema Chaudhary and nephew of Kalka MLA Pardeep Chaudhary.

Karun had allegedly assaulted a policeman, identified as Sagar, deputed at the Sector 14 police station, last evening. Two friends of Sagar were also injured in the incident. The police had booked Karun under Section 307 of the IPC.

Sagar, who was seriously injured in the incident, was shifted to the Sector 6 General Hospital from where doctors referred him to Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh.

According to the police, Sagar had gone to meet Kapil Datta and Vikas Datta, both brothers staying in Sector 14 when Karun along with three other youths attacked him with sharp-edged weapons. Datta brothers were also injured when they tried to save Sagar, said the police.

Panchkula Superintendent of Police Maneesh Chaudhary said police parties had been dispatched to arrest the accused.

When contacted, Karun’s father Amardeep Chaudhary said his son had not returned home since yesterday. “He left home yesterday to take his LLB examination, but did not return,” he said.



Heart attacks rise as mercury dips
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
Dipping mercury is bound to increase the risk of heart attacks, particularly those suffering from high blood pressure. City-based cardiologists say the rate of attacks increase during winter, as low temperature increases blood pressure and put more strain on the heart.

DOs & DON’Ts

  • Wear layers of clothing.
  • Wear a hat or headscarf.
  • Keep your hands and feet warm
  • Don’t drink alcohol before going outdoors
  • Postpone your morning walk till sunrise
  • Never forget medicines

A general rise in the blood pressure can prove lethal with colder weather causing the blood to become stickier and more likely to clot. Cholesterol levels also tend to be higher during winter and an increase in respiratory infections may lead to inflammation that contributes to the rupture of artery-clogging plaques.

Cardiologist at Fortis, Mohali, Dr HK Bali, says: ‘‘The occurrence of heart attacks in people with hypertension and high blood pressure is twice as high in winter. Cold causes spasm of arteries causing angina or heart attacks. Also, cold mornings cause peripheral arteries to contract, increasing the blood pressure and putting extra load on the heart. This precipitates a stroke. Strokes during winter mornings are common.’’

The cardiologists say the heart patients should avoid going for morning walk in winter. They can suffer accidental hypothermia, which means the body temperature falls below normal. It occurs when the body can’t produce enough energy to keep the internal body temperature warm. Heart failure causes most deaths in hypothermia.

Another cardiologist, Dr Anil Grover, says, ‘‘High blood pressure is known for heart diseases and strokes, but the risk goes up as the temperature goes down. High blood pressure causes double heart attacks in winter as compared to summer. The adrenaline level is the highest early morning. For the body has to stay warm, it pumps glucose and adrenaline more rapidly, increasing the workload on the heart.’’

“People with coronary heart disease often suffer chest pain or discomfort called angina pectoris during winter,” said Dr Grover.



Zirakpur MC to complete sewerage system this year
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, January 2
Deprived of the basic amenities like sewerage, water supply and metalled roads, Zirakpur residents hope that 2010 will be more eventful as MC officials claimed that they would meet the targets this year.

One of the important issues would be completing the sewerage network, as the deadline was March 2010.

Estimates for carpeting of roads have been drawn and the same will be given practical shape in the coming year. Beside this, Zirakpur has 30 tubewells for water supply in the area and soon the MC is going to instal 4 new tubewells to make better water supply in the area.

In the wake of declining water level in the Zirakpur region, the MC has planning to moot a proposal with the state government to have appropriate share of water from the Kajoli water works through Mohali district.

This year, the MC has planned to construct an indoor stadium in Nabha, 30-bed hospital in Dhakoli, modern bus stand at Zirakpur-Kalka intersection, sewerage treatment plant (STP) treatment plant in Singhpura village, new building of the Municipal Council in Bishanpura, golf course and a lake at Gazipur common land. Green parks are to be made in residential areas and the green belt is to be beautified under the Zirakpur flyover.

The MC official claimed the work of sewerage project under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) is 90 per cent complete. The cost of project is Rs 52.19 crore. The sewerage laying work will be complete in the next three months.

Sources added that the sewer disposal and STP would be started soon as the MC had selected the land in Singhpura village.Four new tubewells will be installed at Baltana Ward No 12, Ward No 13, Dhakoli and Pabhat village in the coming year.

The residents had complained about the low-water level in Zirakpur, the MC would take up the issue with the state government to get a share of water from the Kajoli water works through Mohali district an MC official added. The work of 30-bed hospital and an indoor stadium have been started.

In 2009, the Zirakpur Municipal Council had become a grade-one category municipal body. The council had changed five executive officers in more than one year. The new executive officer Shatrajit Sharma from Mandi Gobindgarh was appointed few months back.

Before him the executive officer Sukhjinder Singh Sidhu was transferred. In February, Sidhu was appointed as the Zirakpur MC executive officer after Vijay Gupta, who was appointed an EO in December last year.

In the coming year, the residents of the area will also get two new mega malls, a private multi-specialty hospital on Zirakpur-Kalka road, two hotels with luxurious facilities and new housing projects in Gazipur. The housings projects will be passed on the guidelines of Zirakpur masterplan.

The work on four-laning of the Zirakpur-Patiala highway is expected to start soon. The work of widening of the Zirakpur-Kalka highway is in process and will be completed soon. The MC officials claimed that the development of the area would be completed on a priority basis.



Ru-Ba-Ru with playwright Dr Atamjit
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, January 2
“Neither a mystic, nor an idealist, but a realistic playwright, Dr Atamjit, with his vision and passion, lifted the Punjabi theatre to a spectacular level of International recognition.

His befitting decoration with the coveted Rashtriya Sahitya Academy award on his latest book “Tatti Tavi Da Sach”, is an honour to the Punjabi drama and literature.

Commented thespian Neelam Man Singh, amidst adulatory applause at a programme with Dr Atamjit organised by the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademy here today.

The Ru-Ba-Ru session marked with daring disclosures by Dr Atamjit about his personal life, struggles, his passionate endeavours to drama and contemporary theatre scene establish him as an epitome of honesty and uprightness, adds Neelam, calling him the pride of theatre world.

Earlier, Akademy chairperson Manju Jaidka felicitated guest of honour thespian Neelam Man Singh and read the annual report, while poet Madhav Kaushik introduced Dr Atamjit.

Credited with sculpting script and direction of over thirty plays in India and abroad, besides 15 literary creations Dr Atamjit, principal of National College Mukandpur, has made many a pioneering effort in revitalising the performing arts as an academician, literary critic, column writer, playwright of deep seated conviction and realism. The book “Tatti Tavi da Sach”, a historic play traces the reasons and circumstances leading to the sacrifice by Guru Arjun Dev.

The elite artistic fraternity listened to Dr Atamjit in the Ru-Ba-Ru, when he lamented that the literary contribution of his father, illustrious educationist principal SS Amol, who had authored over one hundred books was not acknowledged. He used to teach drama in his classrooms. Many eyes were moist when he said that his mother, portraying the role of a mad women was so involved in the character that she could not come out of the dilemma and died later when I was just 12.

Likewise, I too, have never written for awards though top honours have come my way, he maintained.

“I remained out of frame always to accomplish my dreams.” He interacted with audience and spoke on issues of socio-cultural relevance.



New Year Celebrations
Cultural festivities take centrestage
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, January 2
“Nit nayi iss baras sabko khushiyan milein, charon janib (sides) masarrat (bliss) ki kaliyan khilein”, the essence of this couplet by Urdu poet Rajender Rehbar remained the main attraction of all cultural functions held in the city.

It was the Citizen Forum on Human Rights, with over 200 members, who celebrated the New Year’s Eve with the Sector 15 Old Age Home inmates.

A cultural programme of music and poetical recitations was presented. While Malvika Rajvansh and her father-in-law Ram Rattan doled out Lata and Talat Mehmood songs, Satish Madhok brought alive romantic fervour in “mohabbat jinda rehti ahi and likhe jo khat tujhe”.

Advocate Chaman Lal conducted the programme. The newly formed Saneh Sangam Foundation welcomed 2010 on a spiritual note by organising a light, sight and sound of spectacle “Shree Krishan Leela” at the Tagore Theatre.

The marathon show went past midnight followed by fire works. As many as 33 actors participated in the spiritual bonanza, scripted by Jaiparkash and directed by Rajiv Mehta.

The New Year extravaganza musical evening concluded with music, dance and masti. The star attraction was the selection of the “Voice of Chandigarh-2009” and coveted honour went to versatile Amanpreet Singh of GC-46, while Shivam was declared runner-up. Amanpreet said he owed it to his guru Kanwar Iqbal. Shruti Bhagwan was declared the Female Voice of Chandigarh with Uma Patial bagging the runner-up trophy.

Amit and Sanjana won the dancing couple contest. Shilpa and Aman were declared runners-up.

Winners of dancing partner were given free air tickets to Dubai and first runner-up was given cash prize of Rs 10,000. Winners of “Voice of Chandigarh” were awarded Rs 10,000 each and runners-up got Rs 5,000 each.

Punjabi folk singer Sabarkoti stole the show.

Sabarkoti left the venue after 14 minutes.

Earlier, SF Rodrigues, Governor of Punjab and Administrator, UT Chandigarh inaugurated the programme.



Rally to raise awareness on traffic rules
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
To promote wearing of helmet among women riders, a scooter rally for girl students was organised by the Chandigarh traffic police as part of its 21st National Road Safety Week-2010 here today.

Seventy-five participants, including school and college students, women police officers, volunteers housewives and NGO volunteers, participated in the rally.

The participants carried placards bearing messages about road safety during the rally.

They also distributed pamphlets on road safety among public at the piazza in Sector 17.

An exhibition is also being organised through the week-long celebrations to create awareness among public about road safety.

SP (city) Madhur Verma flagged off the rally from the Chandigarh Traffic Park, Sector 23. The rally passed through markets of sectors 23, 22, 21 and 20, tafficlights at 20/30, 19/27, 18/19 and 17/18 before culminating at the Sector 17 piazza.

The participants also took a round of the exhibition, which will continue till January 7.

Verma exhorted the participants to obey the traffic rules so that precious lives were not lost in road accidents.

DSP (traffic) Vijay Kumar, inspectors (traffic) and other officials were present.



Illegal structures demolished
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
A number of illegal structures, including two religious and certain concrete settlements, were demolished by a team of the enforcement wing of the Chandigarh administration at Hallo Majra here today.

The team, accompanied by a heavy police ‘bandobast’, reached the venue around 12 noon and initiated the demolition drive.

The entire demolition drive was carried out peacefully with the team facing no resistance from the encroachers, who stood as mute spectators.



2 more test positive for H1N1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 2
With two more persons, including a two and half-month-old baby, testing positive for H1N1 virus in the city, the total number of confirmed swine flu cases in the city has gone up to 62. “The baby from Nahan was admitted to Chaitanya Hospital. The other patient, a woman, testing positive hails from Muktsar,” said UT nodal officer for swine flu HC Gera.



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