C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Day temperature up by 2 °C
Tribune News Service

People enjoy the sun at plaza in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Friday.
People enjoy the sun at plaza in Sector 17, Chandigarh, on Friday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, January 8
Even as the day temperature rose by about 2° Celsius and the fog thinned out in the afternoon here today, residents did not get any respite from the cold as the city was lashed by icy winds, neutralising the warmth of the sun.

The Met department stated that there would be further improvement in the day temperature in the next 24 to 48 hours, but the icy winds would continue.

The minimum temperature today was 6.4° C and the maximum rose marginally to 17.6° C. The fog disappeared as the day progressed, but even as the sun spread warmth in the afternoon, it failed to give any respite from cold.

The fog did affect the arrival and departure of early morning trains and flights remained grounded for nine consecutive days. According to a report, almost all long-distance trains on the Delhi-Ambala-Kalka section were delayed. Most trains were behind schedule by three to eight hours. The Delhi-Kalka Shatabdi (2011) was two hours behind schedule while the Howrah-Kalka (2311) was late by about eight hours.

Passengers were seen shivering at platforms while waiting for the trains. Traffic on national and state highways were also affected on account of the thick fog and poor visibility.

“Most places showed an increase in the minimum temperature level varying between 3 to 4° C,” a Met official said, attributing it to the strong westerlies sweeping the state. The wind speed was 10 to 12 km per hour.

“Windy conditions are likely to prevail in the next 48 hours, but clear sky may allow the day temperature to rise a bit,” the official said, adding that the minimum temperature was not likely to dip further.

Mornings and nights would be foggy and northern districts of the state would witness denser fog. 



Alcohol drinking in open a menace for residents
Umesh Dewan
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 8
City residents are hassled by the daily nuisance created by increasing numbers of people drinking liquor in the open in residential colonies, markets and parks. The problem has acquired such alarming proportions that in many areas residents dread to even come out of their houses in the evening with boozers openly drinking in the open without any fear. However, what is surprising is that the local police has not yet taken any action to stop this antisocial practice.

Moreover, the law says drinking is allowed - besides in one’s home, of course - only in bars, ‘ahatas’ (drinking joints, usually attached to liquor stores, which are approved by the administration), clubs and hotels that are licensed to serve alcohol.

However, showing scant regard to all rules and regulations, bacchus lovers drink outside shops selling meat, parks and even on the roadside. A visit to some city areas including Urban Estate, Chhoti Baradari, Teg Bahadur Colony and Model Town revealed that tipplers were a common sight, drinking outside liquor vends, in cars, on pavements, outside meat shops and in parks.

“People not only drink liquor in the open but also create nuisance and have no fear of the police”, said Rajkumar Gupta, a resident of Urban Estate. “Many tipplers park their vehicles outside their houses and keep drinking in their cars till late into the night”, he added.

Speaking to The Tribune, a housewife Satinder Arora rued: “Our children, especially girls, can’t even think of stepping out of the house after sunset. It’s really shocking the cops aren’t taking any action against those drinking in public places”.

Residents of many areas pointed out people in an inebriated state not only create nuisance but also indulge in scuffles if anyone dares to say something. “A few days back a group of young men were drinking in their car parked outside our home in Urban Estate. When my father objected the boys threatened him with dire consequences”, said Jaskiran Singh, a teenager.”It was the cops’ duty to ensure compliance with laws relating to drinking alcohol”, he added.

Drinkin in the open is also prevalent in areas near the city’s bus stand and train station after sunset. “With the police turning a blind eye areas in the vicinity of the bus stand and railway station have almost become an open air bar for boozers”, said Kuljit Singh, who runs a grocery shop near the bus stand. “Incidents involving scuffles between residents in the area and those high on liquor have become all too common”, he added.

Cops to step up vigil: SSP

When contacted, Patiala SSP Ranbir Singh Khattra admitted there was a problem but claimed the police did take action against those violating the laws on drinking alcohol. “Whenever it is brought to our notice that someone is drinking in a public place we do take action according to the law. Even then we’ll intensify our vigil to check this unhealthy practice”, he told The Tribune, adding he would ask cops to increase surprise checks in various areas of the city.



Panchkula Plea against ex-MC chief dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
A petition against the Panchkula municipal council’s former president, Ravinder Kumar Rawal, filed by the deputy commissioner and another official has cost the Haryana government dear. Refusing to grant relief to Rawal against the setting aside of his election as council president, the Punjab & Haryana High Court today dismissed a related petition imposing a litgation cost of Rs 10,000.

In all, two petitions were filed in the matter - one by the DC and the subdivisional officer (civil) and the other by Rawal.

In the petition that was dismissed by justice K Kannan this morning, the Panchkula election tribunal challenged two orders dated May 4, 2009 and June 8, 2009 by the Panchkula district judge. The orders were on the setting aside of Rawal’s election.

The official respondents in the initial election petition - the DC and the SDO - had filed the petition before the high court “on account of the observations of the election tribunal and the appellate court that the election had not been held according to the procedure prescribed under the law”.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, Kannan also directed the state to conduct and complete the election process of the Panchkula MC president within four weeks.

After hearing the rival contentions and going through the documentary evidence placed on the record of the high court, justice Kannan was of the opinion that the entire process of Rawal’s election to the post was illegal as the provisions of the Haryana municipal rules were not followed during the poll process.

Appearing before Kannan, Rawal’s counsel had earlier maintained there was no violation of rules. It was also argued the election of the council vice-president was also held by following the same procedure but the same was not questioned, indicating the procedure was fair.

Senior counsel Satya Pal Jain, appearing for the rival side, had on the other hand argued that the procedure adopted for the election violated the secrecy of the ballot as stipulated in the election rules. Rawal’s election was set-aside solely on this ground.

Rawal was elected president on May 13, 2008, defeating VK Sood of the BJP. Anshu Shukla, civil judge (senior division) and the judge of the municipal election tribunal, Panchkula, had declared Rawal’s election void on May 4 last year. Subsequently, an appeal against the tribunal’s orders filed by Rawal was also dismissed by the appellate authority - the Panchkula district & sessions judge - on June 8. Thereafter, Rawal had approached the high court for quashing both orders.



Principal to stay, says Chandigarh diocese
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
“Sr. Sebastina is innocent and she would continue as the principal,” Father Thomas, Anchanikal, Vicar-General and spokesman for the Chandigarh Shimla Diocese, stated here today.

Though he claimed that the diocese was in the process of reviewing the report of the magisterial inquiry into the case, he clarified that there was no question of accepting the recommendations of taking action against the principal.

“Why would she be punished? She has not done anything wrong. Hardly any witness, except Girhotra supporters, remember anything. On what basis do they proclaim her guilty? She has been serving the school excellently and would continue to do so,” he remarked.

The UT administration in the inquiry report made public yesterday had held Sr. Sebastina guilty of expelling Ruchika Girhotra in a mala fide and arbitrary manner under apparent pressure from SPS Rathore.

It was found that Ruchika was the only child to have been expelled in the past 20 years for non-payment of fee.

“We people serve society selflessly and never expect any award for it. They can take away this award, but not her efforts, which would be repaid by God. By this act they have in a way dismissed the 43-year-long service rendered by the institution to the city,” he concluded.

Father Thomas alleged that the principal was being victimised under media pressure. “No student was singled out. They say that the act was unprecedented as per the school history. We inform the students about delay in fee orally and as per the principal’s version -- supported by that of the bursar -- even Ruchika was informed about it,” he said.

“As per the rules of the diocese, students are not expelled for non-payment of fee and concession is given to students who are unable to pay the fee on account of family circumstances. Ruchika was never expelled, but she herself stopped coming to school and her name was struck off the rolls,” he added.

While the inquiry officer, SDM Prerna Puri, said both things were “two faces of the same coin”, the diocese said voluntary withdrawal led to the name being struck off and expulsion was a disciplinary action. “No action by a school can bar a child from appearing in the board exam as students are registered for it in Class IX. If her withdrawal was not voluntary, why did she opt out of the CBSE?” he asked.

SC Girhotra, Ruchika’s father, had claimed that the school authorities had intentionally refused to take her fee and the principal had called him to inform him that she was expelling Ruchika under Rathore’s pressure.

“What proof do these people have? The principal doesn’t remember meeting Girhotra even once. The fee used to be deposited with the bank and was never collected at the school fee counter, except at the time of fresh admission. Logically, which bank would refuse to deposit money? Also, if the school has no written proof of having informed Girhotra about fee default, even they never wrote to us asking for time or anything else,” he said.

Meanwhile, agreeing to the demand of the Girhotra family, the Haryana Government has sent a reference to the Central Government, ordering a reprobe by the CBI in all three cases freshly registered against Rathore.

CBSE seeks explanation

Reacting to the inquiry report against Sacred Heart School, the CBSE, in consultation with the ministry of human resource development, has decided to demand an explanation from the school. According to sources, the school would be asked to submit a written explanation regarding its take on the inquiry and the circumstances under which Ruchika was expelled. Prior to this report, the board had already advised all affiliated schools to abstain from any such act under pressure and ensure impartial education to all students.



City industrialist held for raping maid
Tribune News Service

Manjit Singh Arora
Manjit Singh Arora

Chandigarh, January 8
The police today arrested a local industrialist, Manjit Singh Arora, on charges of repeatedly raping his 14-year-old maidservant in Chandigarh and Mumbai.

The 52-year-old suspect had allegedly made videos of the victim in Mumbai and showed them to her on his laptop. A relative of his, Papu, also allegedly raped the minor girl in Mumbai, where she was sent to work at the home of Arora’s daughter.

A drama was witnessed at Arora’s Sector 49 home here in the wee hours when a police team searched the apartment to apprehend him. “Arora jumped from his first floor apartment to evade arrest and raised an alarm. He called out to his neighbours who assembled there and questioned the cops. It was only when the police team explained about the case to them were they pacified and went back”, said a police officer.

The victim’s mother filed a complaint with the UT police SSP on Thursday alleging Arora had employed her daughter as his maidservant in 2008 for wages of Rs 3,000 a month. She stated later he offered her Rs 5,000 a month for sending her daughter to work in Mumbai, to which, she added, the family agreed.

She further told the police that after repeated requests Arora brought back the girl to the city on December 26. She stated her daughter then told her Arora had raped her at his Sector 34 apartment as well as in Mumbai.

The police said Arora owns a factory in Parwanoo, Himachal Pradesh, which manufactures ‘chapatti’ making appliances, adding he has several cars including a Mercedes and a Hyundai Sonata. The cops also said they had learnt Arora was a bank defaulter and were checking this out.

Arora was produced before a local court that remanded him to eight days’ of police custody.


Appointment of auction recorder
Babla offers custodial interrogation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Devinder Singh Babla, who has been evading the police for nearly four months, has offered to undergo custodial interrogation in a case pertaining to the appointment of Rajesh Chahuan as auction recorder. Interestingly, the police is not keen on taking the offer.

Babla, who is currently serving judicial custody, had moved an application yesterday in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Anshul Berry, through his counsel, to surrender and prayed that production warrants be issued.

The court, allowing the application after argument between both parties for over half an hour, issued production warrants for tomorrow at 11.30 am.

Earlier, the prosecution opposing the application in the court had stated that the application moved by Babla was not maintainable under any statute or any legal or any common law principle.

It was unprecedented in the history of criminal jurisprudence and verges, in fact, on the incredible, if nor farcical, it was stated.

The prosecution also stated that the accused couldn’t convert himself into the investigating agency and arrogate to himself the right to take decisions, which lie entirely in the domain of investigation.

Nor can any accused dictate to the investigating agency either the path that the investigation should follow or the steps that it should take for proper and effective investigation, or determine for the investigating agency the pace or intensity of investigation.

The defence, on the hand, had pleaded that since the accused was named in the FIR, he wanted to surrender in this case.

The police had registered a case of cheating and forgery against Rajesh Chauhan on charges of furnishing fake documents for obtaining a job of auction recorder at the market committee on January 4.

The police had said the accused had obtained the job by submitting fake documents and was facilitated by Devinder Singh Babla and others in getting him the job.

The police said Chauhan was the brother of Anju, who was a family friend of Babla. The case had been registered at the police station-26. 



Funds sought for labs run by religious bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Chandigarh Samooh Gurdwara Managing Parbandhak (CSGPS) has urged the UT administration to provide financial aid to laboratories being run by various religious organisations in the city.

Taking a strong view of the action taken by the UT health department to close an ultrasound centre being run at a gurdwara in Sector 22 during a meeting here today, CSGPS chairman Naib Singh Daumajra said the department had ordered for the closure of the ultrasound centre as the Sector-22 gurdwara management had failed to provide details of doctor posted there. He said the centre had now started functioning again after the gurdwara management provided the details to the health department.

Daumajra alleged that this had been done at the insistence of private laboratory owners as the centre had been providing services to people at nominal rates. He urged the administration to fix the rates of private laboratories to stop the fleecing of the common man by such laboratories. General secretary Ranjit Singh, Sec 38 gurdwara president Tara Singh, Sec 34 gurdwara president Amar Singh, Sec 22 gurdwara president Joginder Singh Sahni were among those who were present at the meeting.



No consensus on change in office timing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory have failed reach a consensus on the change in office timing. According to official sources, the consensus could not be reached at a meeting UT Administrator SF Rodrigues had with the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana to resolve the inter-state issues.

It was highlighted that employees’ associations had been protesting against any change as they had been mentioning that there were various families with two to three members working in different government offices and travelled together for their respective workplaces.

It was decided that a decision could only be taken after resolving the issue with the employees’ associations.

On the issue of augmenting the health infrastructure in the two adjacent states, the Administrator said the health infrastructure in Panchkula and Mohali should be increased so that the support system could improve and the load on Chandigarh was reduced.

He said around 15 lakh OPD cases were registered in the city every year and a large number of patients from adjoining areas of Punjab and Haryana visited these hospitals for treatment of minor ailments, which could be taken care of if these areas had adequate facilities.

Deliberating on the prevailing issue of swine flu, the Administrator said Haryana and Punjab should have proper support system to tackle any untoward situation and patients from the two states should be referred in their early stages so that their lives could be saved.

Affirming the decision of the administration of not allowing entry to non-LPG auto-rickshaws from Panchkula and Mohali in the city after March 31, Rodrigues said the two states should also initiate similar steps for promoting pollution-free fuel in their states as well.

On increasing the road connectivity, the Administrator said the administration had opened several linkages for easy movement from Panchkula and Mohali. As many as three new linkages for Mohali were in process and route Nos. 1, 2 and 3 for Panchkula had been opened.

It was stated that the major problem from Panchkula side was that the main link went from the Sector 17 road and created traffic snarl-ups. It was proposed that if Haryana could build a flyover and link it through Industrial Area, an alternative route could be opened for motorists.

The matter of removal of encroachments from the Panchkula side in the UT was also deliberated.

It was stated that Indira Rajiv Colony had spilled over and had entered the UT. The Haryana Chief Secretary assured of timely rehabilitation.

The UT requested Haryana to allow 100 MW power from newly commissioned 1,200 MW thermal power plant at Hisar. However, Haryana did not agree to spare power for Chandigarh.

On maintaining law and order and prevention of crime in the tricity, the Administrator stressed the need for close coordination of the two states with the UT. The administration has earmarked a site in Sector 25 for holding rallies/dharnas for which prior written permission would have to be sought from the Deputy Commissioner.

It was also decided to share intelligence inputs between the two states and UT on a regular basis, the official sources added.



Buffeted by cold, homeless left to
fend for themselves

Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Though the sun made its much-awaited appearance today, thousands of migrants and poor people in the city had little to cheer about with night temperatures staying below 5 degrees Celsius during the past fortnight. The homeless have been forced by circumstances to sleep in corridors of various markets even in the biting cold, with only a few of them fortunate to have at least a quilt to cover themselves with.

Tens of thousands, or - more likelier - a hundred thousand of the city’s population have to cope with severe weather conditions without roofs on their heads. To get some respite from the winter chill the poor and homeless have nothing but to burn dry leaves and wooden sticks.

Ashok Pandey, a rickshaw-puller who has come from Bihar is spending the chilly nights in the Sector 29 market, said winter continued to be the worst time for him.

"Thank God, nobody has evicted me from there. Commuters in this severe weather are much fewer and it has become difficult for me to earn my daily bread for lack of passengers. I’ve got only one woolen sweater and it has already been ten days since I washed it. I have been waiting for a bright sunny-day when I could wash my clothes," he added.

As night draws near Sandeep and his companions collect waste paper, empty cardboard boxes and other waste material to make a makeshift bonfire. The warmth helps them sleep for a while before the bone chilling cold takes over. They huddle close to each other to keep themselves from freezing.

Sandeep has been unemployed after he lost his job in a factory. He is now looking for a job but has not been lucky so far. Homeless, he used to sleep in market corridors till the cops chased him out. He now sleeps in the open.

Sandeep and many like him who are migrants from several states are destitute and defenceless against the extreme cold, and are forced to sleep in the open even with the mercury plummeting by the day.

Madhav, an 18-year-old youth at the train station, said he had never imagined life in this city would be so tough. "Though one of my friends, a daily wage earner, cautioned me I’d have to put up with the harsh conditions here, I never imagined life would be a daily struggle," he said with tears rolling -down his cheeks.

“There isn’t any night shelter in the city for people like us. The police drive us away from railway platforms, market places and bus shelters. Where can we keep our meagre bedding?” he lamented.

City residents discuss power outages, the cold weather, changes in school timings and a host of other topics but no one talks about these homeless people.

“Why does the UT administration have to spend taxpayers’ money on recarpeting streets whenever any minister visits the city? Why can’t it build night shelters for the homeless and provide them with ‘langar’ (free meals)? But who cares? The authorities spend a lot of public funds on festivals and other processions but won’t do anything for homeless and destitute people who are struggling from day to day,” rued Prahlad Joshi, a social worker. 



Thane civic officials visit MC office
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
A 13-member delegation of elected representatives and officers of the Thane municipal corporation visited local MC office today to study green belt and gardens planning and management of the authorities.

The objective of the programme was to refresh and enrich the knowledge on the best practices about garden management in some prominent cities in India.

Mayor Anu Chatrath welcomed the delegation and MC Commissioner Dr Roshan Sunkaria gave a brief introduction regarding various projects and functions related to water supply, gardens and green belts, urban planning and architecture.

Superintendent engineer, B&R, Mukesh Anand gave a presentation of development and maintenance of gardens.

The visiting delegation included Dr Sudhir Bhatankir, Sahib Ram Rothey, Arvind Kataywar, Kedar Patil, Dinesh Gawod, Ashok Raual, Atnil Patnker, Dalip Patanker, Sanjay Bhoin, Mauder Kumalkar, Surakha Khali, Naveh Maskey and Galib Chand Dubey.

Those present included senior deputy mayor Bhupinder Singh, deputy mayor Sheela Devi and officers of corporation.



Quality sleep must
Docs warn of depression, suicidal thoughts
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
In today's fast moving life, Benjamin Franklin's saying “early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy wealthy and wise” seems to be forgotten.

Adults apart, even children are sleeping late, be it because of watching TV, late night parties at home, too much homework or early school timing.

Whatever the reason may be, the trend needs to be corrected soon, feel psychiatrists, as inadequate sleep not only reduces ability to concentrate, but also raises the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Though no study has been conducted in the city so far, the global study shows that too little sleep may increase health problems, including obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure and can also affect mental state.

A study conducted on 15,659 teenagers by researchers in New York, found that adolescents whose bedtimes were 10 pm or earlier were 24 per cent less prone to depression and 20 per cent less prone to suicidal thoughts than those whose bedtimes were midnight or later. The study was published in a medical journal Sleep.

According to researchers, bedtimes were closely related to reported sleep duration, with early bedtime resulting in longer sleep hours, thus early bedtime may help protect against depression and suicidal thoughts by allowing young persons to get more sleep.

Dr BS Chawan, head of psychiatry department, GMCH-32, agrees that a disturbing link has been found between lack of sleep and suicidal tendencies. He said: “The same chemical (serotonin) regulates sleep, mood and suicidal thoughts.”

The study suggests that those who sleep for seven to eight hours every night are less likely to have depression and suicidal thoughts than those who sleep less.

Psychiatrist Dr Hardeep Singh from Fortis Hospital, Mohali, said many people with no medical record were suffering from various ailments due to inadequate sleep.



Villagers oppose setting up of dumping ground
Tribune News Service

Congress MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu and president of Rasenheri-Swara Dumping Ground Roko Sangarsh, Paramjit Kaur, argue during a public hearing session on the setting up a common municipal solid waste management facility at Jhanjehri village on Friday.
Congress MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu and president of Rasenheri-Swara Dumping Ground Roko Sangarsh, Paramjit Kaur, argue during a public hearing session on the setting up a common municipal solid waste management facility at Jhanjehri village on Friday. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, January 8
Several residents of Rasenheri, Swara, Jhanjheri and other surrounding villages vehemently opposed setting up of common municipal solid waste management facility in revenue estate of Rasenheri, Swara and Jhanjheri villages near here.

Airing their grievance under the banner of Rasenheri-Swara Dumping Ground Roko Sangarsh Committee, the residents did not allow the proceedings of the public hearing being conducted by GMADA officials. The public hearing was part of the process required before getting environmental clearance from the Centre.

Before leaders of political parties took the centre stage by turning the stage in a political platform, the residents in a joint representation stated that the site did not fulfil any of the norms. Citing examples, they said the site was near educational institutes and homes for the destitute. The proposed site was near the residential areas of the villages. The site plan shown by GMADA did not reflect the true picture of the place.

Besides, the site was located near the Mohali-Fatehgarh Sahib road. Paramjeet Kaur, president of the committee, said: “If GMADA claims that the project would not pollute the area, then it should set up the plant in Mohali itself.” The villagers threatened to intensify their agitation if they site was not changed.

The project location would affect around 3,000 families in 30 villages. While the representatives were airing their views, the MLA, Kharar, Balbir Singh Sidhu, took over the mike and announced to oppose the project. Other Congress leaders present were Jagmohan Singh Kang, Rajbir Singh Padiala and Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha. Akali leader, Bir Devinder Singh, joined and announced to support the cause of the villagers.

As Congress MLA, Balbir Singh Sidhu, was speaking, Paramjit Kaur, who represented Akali, opposed “hijacking” of the stage by leaders. 



Mayor to take up pending projects
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Mayor Anu Chatrath is planning to discuss all pending projects of the corporation at her first coordination committee meeting on January 12.

Chatrath has asked MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria to prepare a list of all pending projects of various departments.

Some councillors had brought to her notice that drawings of their community centres, which had to be approved by the chief architect’s department, had been lying pending for the past one year.

As per records of the corporation, major pending projects included the planning of Mani Majra, which had been submitted two years back to the chief architect’s department.

Two marriage palaces in Pocket 8, a girls college, a stadium and a cremation ground were proposed at Mani Majra.

Other pending issues were the allotment of land for a dog pound and a dispensary at Dhanas.

Chatrath would also constitute sub-committees by next week.



MC does little as advertisers flout norms
Kulwinder Sangha

Posters pasted on the bus stop of Phase V in Mohali.
Posters pasted on the bus stop of Phase V in Mohali. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, January 8
Defacement of public property goes on unabated in the town in the absence of any strict action by the municipal council.

The purpose of putting up sign boards by spending lakhs of rupees for providing information to the public got defeated as soon as these boards were covered with posters. Over the years the number of individuals and establishments defacing public property with impunity has increased and the civic body has failed to curb the menace.

During a round of the town it was seen that advertisers were having a field day, sticking posters and bills wherever it suited them. Walls, streetlight poles, bus queue shelters, sector guide maps, traffic signboards, police barricades, power and telephone junction boxes, etc have been defaced.

The violators mainly include, religious organisations, educational institutions, those providing PG accommodations, private tuitions and home cooked food, housing construction companies, boutiques, beauty parlours, communication companies providing broadband services, etc.

The boundary walls of the health centre in Phase III-B1, government dispensaries in Phase VII and the extension library of the Punjabi University have a number of advertisements painted on them.

Even the gate of the civic body’s office in Sector 68 had hand bills pasted on it which were later removed by council employees. One such hand bill of a religious body was seen pasted on the wall near the gate of the council office even today.

A council official said violators were having a good time in the absence of strict laws to check the defacement of public property. The civic body could only recover a compounding fee of Rs 500 under Section 178 of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, from a violator and could not take any legal action in this regard.

The council, however, issued notices to violators from time to time and collected the compounding fee. The posters put up at illegal places were also removed during drives carried out by the civic body.

It was pointed out that the council did not have powers to lodge FIRs against the offenders as was the case in Chandigarh where the West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act was applicable. Violators there could be fined from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 or made to undergo three months imprisonment.



Ruchika Case
Christian bodies, principal to move HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Coming to the rescue of Sister Sebastian, former principal of Ruchika’s school, two human rights Christian organisations have decided to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court to probe into the role of the Chandigarh Diocese that runs Sacred Heart School.

It was asserted that the school principal was merely an employee of the Diocese and the real authority was in the hands of the bishop. It was also urged to investigate the role of Chandigarh Diocese.

A spokesman for the Indian Christian for Righteous Action Forum (ICRA) JG Anthony said Ruchika’s case was the first trial in India in which the policies of a Diocese had been put under scanner. The Poor Christian Liberation Movement president RL Francis said the Chandigarh Bishop should be held more responsible than Sr Sebastian in Ruchika’s expulsion case.



Suicide at PGI 
Students forced to keep mum
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Irked with their names being associated with the recent suicide of a nursing student (Anshu) at the PGI’s National Institute of Nursing Education (NINE), the faculty members today allegedly threatened the students of dire consequences for “speaking up”.

It may be noted that nursing students had blamed four NINE faculty members, including principal Inderjeet Walia for Anshu’s extreme step, during the protest yesterday. They also demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter.

On the condition of anonymity, one of the nursing students told The Tribune those teachers whose names were mentioned by the students yesterday, not only misbehaved with them today, but also pressurised them not to pursue the matter.

They also alleged that they were being threatened by the teachers not to tell the truth to the PGI director.

The students are not only tight-lipped, also but scared. “The teachers have threatened that if anyone dared to go against the teacher, they will have to face the consequences in examination,” said a student on condition of anonymity.

Dr KK Talwar, PGI director, visited the institute today again, but only class representatives were allowed to meet him. However, he assured them justice and sent the principal and guide Sukhwinder Kaur 
on leave.

Dr Talwar said the PGI faculty Dr Meenu would be the officiating principal.



PU Syndicate meeting
Property tax fee to be discussed
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
A resolution to review the property tax fee of Rs 12, being charged from nearly three lakh students across 180 colleges for paying the tax of Panjab University, is set to rock the next Syndicate meeting.

Besides, the issue of charging Rs 1,300 as late admission fee, which is to be deposited if late admission is sought with Vice-Chancellor’s permission within one month, will also be discussed.

SD College Principal AC Vaid, has moved these resolutions for the next meeting, which was earlier scheduled for January 10.

Four years ago, when the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation imposed the tax on all educational institutions, including colleges and university, PU started charging Rs 12 from all students.

Despite an appeal by colleges to the corporation, to exempt them of the tax, since a similar exemption had been given to religious places and charitable trusts, no relief has been given to educational institutes till date.

“We are paying Rs 4 lakh every year for the property tax and some colleges in the city are even paying upto Rs 5 lakh depending on the constructed area. Our own students are paying for the tax, but why should they pay it for the university?” questione Vaid.

Another issue to be discussed at the Syndicate meeting is the grant of late admission by Vice-Chancellor in exceptional circumstances.

Once the routine procedure of admission ends, a student could seek admission to the colleges within eight days with the college principal’s permission after paying a fine of Rs 165 that goes to the UT administration as late admission fee.

The Vice-Chancellor is authorised to grant permission for late admission, on payment of Rs 1,300 as fine, which goes to the university.

The resolution mentions that only in exceptional cases the Vice-Chancellor should allow late admission.

Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti said the PU registrar would comment on the property tax issue and he had no information. However, the registrar was not available for comments.



Time-bound programme for PU boarders
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC) is set to launch a time-bound “outreach” programme for hostel students.

A meeting of council members and a few hostel wardens was held in this regard today.

The members have decided to reach out to all students to know their problems regarding food, accommodation, etc. Daily visits would be conducted for this purpose and complaints would be forwarded to the dean students’ welfare.

The students would also be given a stipulated time before which their problems would be solved.

“The highlight would be that the programme would be time bound. Issues are taken up but nothing concrete is done about it. So we made the whole programme time bound,” said PUCSC general secretary Deepika.

“Most of the times the students approach us, but this time we thought we will reach out to the students and gather their complaints. Those students who do not know us well are not able to contact us, so we will go up to them and ask them about their problems,” said PUCSC president Amit Bhatia.

The programme would continue till January 23 and members would visit the hostels in shifts.



Apni Mandis Streamline
space allotment to sellers: Councillor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Municipal corporation nominated councillor MPS Chawla has suggested that there is a need to streamline the allotment of space to those selling their produce at apni mandis being organised in various sectors across the city.

In a communiqué to Mayor Anu Chatrath, he said in most mandis, officers did not issue receipts to vegetable and fruit sellers and instead took fee from them for allotting space at the mandi.

He pointed out that if the corporation carried out surprise checks at the mandis, it would be found that not even half of the sellers possessed slips for selling their produce.

He hinted at a nexus between officers and farmers who used the space at mandis at half the rate by not depositing the fee in the corporation’s exchequer.

Besides, Chawla also suggested that the corporation should install electronic weighing machines at the mandis so that customers who felt cheated or doubted the quantity of the produce could check it themselves. 



Kumbh at Hardwar
2 special trains to connect city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
To help pilgrims attend religious fair Kumbh at Hardwar, the Northern Railway, Ambala division, has decided to run two special trains from January 13 connecting Chandigarh with a station close to the venue.

“Two special trains will run from Nangal Dam and Sriganganagar, carrying pilgrims for Kumbh Mela on January 13 and 14,” said HK Jaggi, divisional railway manager (DRM), Ambala division, while talking to mediapersons here today. Jaggi said the trains would have additional coaches to augment the pilgrim rush and additional booking counters had been made operational at major stations.

On mishaps at unmanned level crossing, the DRM said there were several unmanned level crossings under the division’s jurisdiction. “The NR has been manning them but doing so simultaneously and also at one stroke is practically not possible,” he said. “Therefore, alternatives to avoid mishaps, particularly involving persons driving without driving licence, was required. Counselling of vehicle drivers was one such alternative,” he added.

He said the Ambala division had recently conducted a survey and found that drivers of vehicles were flouting safety and MVI Acts.

“For instance, a total of 630 level crossings are used by lakhs of vehicles every day. During the survey, 72 drivers were found without licence and the complaint in this regard has been forwarded to deputy commissioners of districts concerned,” said the DRM.

In an effort to tackle passenger rush, the division has also decided to run a regular summer special train between Chandigarh and Dibrugarh and depute scouts and guides to assist passengers for easy access to platforms, he informed. He said under the Yuva scheme, the NR had already introduced a train between Sealdah and Delhi on concessional fare for unemployed persons between the age group of 15 and 45 years and a train between Delhi-Mumbai Central would shortly be made operational.

On the Chandigarh-Morinda rail project, the DRM said the track had been fully electrified, which, he expected, would become operational in this financial year.



Market panel meets Guv
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
A five-member delegation of the market committee, Sector 26, led by its chairman Darshan Singh, met with UT Administrator SF Rodrigues and apprised him of their problems today.

The Administrator told them to implement the standard procedure laid down for the market committee effectively for its smooth functioning.

He said it was the responsibility of the market committee to set the system right and if anything was going wrong, it should be brought to the notice of the administration for further necessary action.

He told the delegation that the administration would supervise the working of the market committee but that its actual functioning was their responsibility and that they should be partners of the administration to provide better services.

Prominent among those present at the meeting included Home Secretary Ram Niwas, Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar, Deputy Commissioner Brijendra Singh and SDM Prerna Puri.



Lohri festivities

Chandigarh, January 8
The municipal corporation’s women empowerment committee has decided to dedicate to celebrate Lohri on the theme “Invest in girl child” this year.

A meeting of the committee was held under the chairmanship of nominated councillor Pam Rajput here today.

It was decided that the corporation would celebrate Lohri at Shanti Kunj on January 12. The corporation would also invite Ruchika’s friend Aradhana to honour her. — TNS



Another swine flu case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
With one more person testing positive for the H1N1 virus, the total number of confirmed swine flu cases in the city has gone over 350.

According to the UT nodal officer for swine flu, a 42-year-old man from Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula, was admitted to the GMCH-32 after he tested positive for swine flu. His condition is stable.



Health talk at Kala Bhawan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The First Friday Forum organised a talk on dental healthcare by GS Virdi, athlete, at the Punjab Kala Bhawan, Sector 16, here.

Virdi said dental care was must for good health. He quoted from a research of dental surgeons: “Avoid heart diseases and brush teeth.” Failing to brush the teeth help germs to grow, and some of them could trigger biological cascade leading to diseases of arteries linked to heart attacks and strokes.

Dr SS Bhatti, founder of the forum, said Virdi's talk compelled one to think beyond the customary prescriptions that good health was the product of only food and exercise.



Defying rules, function held at school
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 8
Studies at Government Senior Secondary School, Jhanjheri, near here, were disrupted today during a public hearing session organised by the Mohali district administration and the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority on the setting up of a common municipal solid waste management facility in the area.

Pushing aside the instructions of the Punjab Education Department and the Punjab Director-General of Schools on the misuse of government school premises for non-academic purposes, the Mohali district administration directed the District Education Officer, Mohali, to allow the school premises for the public hearing session.

The event created a lot of noise as blaring speakers distracted the attention of students throughout the day as the classes were in progress.

Director-General of School, Punjab, Krishan Kumar, said he would seek report from the DEO.

Much to the disturbance of the students and teachers, tents were pitched on the ground near classrooms. While leaders of political parties in their rhetoric blamed each other for trying to force the environmentally hazardous solid waste facility, the teachers and the students expressed annoyance at the event.

“The function should have been held elsewhere or on a holiday so that the studies are not affected”, said a teacher.

Niranjan Singh, DEO, Mohali, said the instructions were regarding private functions. He claimed that as per the report of the school principal, the studies did not suffer. Interestingly, a Tribune team was witness to the distraction by the public hearing.

Kuldeep Singh, a resident of Rasenheri village, member of the Dumping Ground Sangarsh Committee, said the district administration should be answerable for distracting the studies of the students.



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