C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Cold wave intensifies
Maximum temperature dips to 9.4° Celsius, 1 degree lower than yesterday’s
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The maximum temperature plummeted to 9.4 degrees Celsius, 1 degree lesser than the yesterday’s temperature, which was 9.5 degrees Celsius, the lowest in seven years.

In 2003, the maximum temperature had dipped to 8 degrees Celsius. The minimum temperature was marginally higher at 6.6 degrees Celsius as against yesterday’s temperature, which was 6.2 degrees Celsius.

Earlier, the city residents woke up to a chilling morning. The sun today was nowhere in sight throughout the day.

The city and neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana continued to wear a blanket of dense fog. Visibility remained low and chilly winds kept residents indoors.

Air and surface transport continued to remain affected.

The runway visibility, which was recorded at 9.30 am today, was 150 m and flights remained grounded for the 10th consecutive day at the Chandigarh airport. Markets wore a deserted look, as people stayed indoors.

According to the airlines authorities, the flights will resume only after the visibility improves.

Meanwhile, the rail traffic too was disrupted by poor visibility.

The railway officials said at least four trains, both incoming and outgoing, were delayed by several hours.

The trains arriving or departing late included the Howrah-Kalka Mail (2311), Sadbhavana Express (2231), Himalayan Queen (4095) and Kalka-Howrah (2312).

The Met officials said: “Fog has engulfed Northern India and there is snowfall in the upper reaches of the Himalayas. We are expecting some rain in the coming days. Even if we don’t get rain, there will be a drop in the temperature due to cold winds coming from the Himalayas.”

According to the Met department, dense fog has enveloped Punjab and Haryana, including parts of Rajasthan and Gangetic plains. The fog is expected to persist for a few more days.



Primary classes suspended till January 13
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
All government and private schools in Chandigarh will remain closed till January 13 for classes up to fifth. The UT Education Secretary issued the statement today following cold wave conditions. Some private schools had already announced holidays up to January 13.

Classes up to third in St Xavier’s schools in the tricity will start at 10 am and the school will start at 9 am for classes IV to XII.

With the city witnessing the lowest temperature of the season on Sunday breaking all the past records, there seems to be no respite from the chilly weather with each passing day.

Not only is the weather taking a toll on the daily activities, the same has worried the parents. Most of them are anxious and alarmed at the continuous foggy mornings when the students have to board bus for school.

“My son is in class VIII and travels by a school bus. The concern among the parents has grown since the children are getting infected by the virus and have frequent coughs and cold,” said a parent.



Cold wave hits crops too
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Cold wave conditions and fog for the last over a week not only made city residents and people of Punjab and Haryana shiver and duck for cover, but it also started affecting field crops and plants, particularly vegetables, which are likely to affect agricultural productivity.

Besides cold weather conditions, bone chilling winds and ground frost could also affect field crops in the region. Fog, a secondary source of plant growth, promotes wetness of leaves.

Giving information on the ongoing weather conditions, Avtar Singh, an agro meteorologist from Patiala, said the normal maximum and minimum temperature for the week remained 17.4° C and 4° C, respectively.

Due to the fog in the region, the maximum temperature went down considerably below 9.5° C but the minimum temperature rose to 7.4° C, he added.

This, he said, could have a negative influence on yield performance of the crops. He attributed these weather conditions to the prevalence of western disturbance. These conditions could also influence horticultural crops.

If the foggy conditions continued to persist for another week, the yield of the wheat might reduce considerably. The fog was also retarding the impact of weedicides being sprayed by farmers on wheat. It might also ultimately reduce the yield of wheat, he said.

Tarsem Singh, a horticulturist, said fog would have an adverse impact on new plantation. During the last monsoons, about 180 acres were brought under the cultivation of fruit plants in Punjab, he informed.

He said due to the lack of adequate sunshine during the day, photosynthetic activities of plants were adversely affected and the rate of respiration increased greatly.

He added that the plants like papaya, banana, mango, amla and guava were sensitive to low temperature.

“Delicate and small plants should be protected against cold through erecting thatch enclosures with exposure towards eastern side and nursery plants could be protected by providing polythene covers,” he added.

The horticulturist, however, informed that the foggy climate was good for maize crop in the region.

Although weatherman predicted the prevailing conditions to continue for the next 48 hours, according to Singh, if the prevalence of cold, foggy and humid weather got prolonged, it could adversely affect crops, tender nursery plants, livestock and humans.



Rathore tried to negotiate with Girhotra, says temple priest
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

The reported statement of Veena to the SIT, set up by the Haryana Government to probe into the Ruchika case, seems to have complicated the ongoing controversy over her status in the house of Girhotras. Sources in the police said, Veena, in her statement to the SIT, had claimed that she had married Subhash Girhotra in 1990 and she stayed with him till 1995. The TNS, however, was able to locate the present address of Veena to Sector 10 of Panchkula. On enquiry from the occupants of the house, they requested politely not to disturb them, as the elder brother of Veena had expired just two months ago. The neighbours of the family confirmed that Veena, daughter of a well-off family, could not work as an “aaya” of the Girhotras as was being claimed by them in the media. The age of Veena was 44 two years ago as was mentioned in voters list. The daughter of Veena from her first marriage is settled abroad after the marriage, said the neighbours on condition of anonymity.

Panchkula, January 10
In a fresh disclosure in the Girhotra-Rathore controversy, a priest of Surajpur temple near Pinjore has claimed that Rathore had tried to persuade Subhash Girhotra to negotiate on the issue and settle it amicably.

Rathore reached the temple three years ago, when both Girhotra and he sat in a room. But the outcome of the negotiations was not known to anyone, said Balaswamy, caretaker of the Ardhnarishwar temple.

Subhash Girhotra has been visiting the temple for more than 25 years every Monday, said the priest. It was around three years ago that Rathore reached the temple and requested me to mediate and help in ending the litigation in the matter, said Balaswamy, while talking to TNS.

I, however, told Rathore that he should talk to Girhtora personally, and for this, he could sit in the temple, following which both of them sat in a room, he said.

“As I do not become personal with visitors, I never talked to any of them regarding this, though Rathore paid five ‘religious’ visits to the temple afterwards,” he added.

Talking about Veena, the alleged wife of Subhash Girhotra, Balaswamy confirmed that she used to visit the temple with Girhotra. However, again we never bothered to ask about the relationship between them, said Balaswamy.

Earlier, Ratnaswami was the head priest till 15 years ago when he died. The Girhotra family used to confide everything in him, he said.

Another inmate of the temple Rani Saroj, daughter of Ratnaswami, said she remembered that Veena used to visit the temple with Girhotra and sometimes even Ruchika used to accompany them. She also witnessed the couple with the daughter of Veena, she claimed. However both Ruchika and the daughter of Veena never came together, she said.

A resident of Panchkula, Karan Singh, however, claimed that Veena had married Girhotra and had been pressurising him to register the property in his name, failing which she left him. Karan Singh, also a disciple of Surajpur temple priest, however, confirmed that he or any other person known to him did not attend the marriage ceremony of Girhotras.



Forest guard on duty assaulted
Tribune News Service

Devinder SinghMohali, January 10
The failure of the Mohali Police in taking timely action against an organised sand-mining mafia resulted in a bloody assault on a forest guard, Devinder Singh, late last night.

Recuperating at the Civil Hospital in Phase VI here, the guard had been left with several stitches all over his head. The assailants, numbering six, hit the victim while he, along with his two other colleagues, Karnail Singh and deputy DFO Baldev Singh, had set up a naka to check illegal sand mining.

For the past few years the forest department officials had been facing the heat for not being able to check illegal mining in the area that was protected under the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

When the incident took place the assailants only targeted Devinder Singh and left his two colleagues unscathed. Sources did not rule out the possibility of involvement of certain forest officials who were allowing the illegal mining.

Talking to The Tribune from the hospital bed, the injured guard said he believed that he had been targeted as he was being strict with the violation and had recently been transferred to the area.

Conservator of forests, Jatinder Sharma, said it would be wrong to reach on any conclusion about the involvement of the lower staff behind the targeted attack. “We believe that since pressure on the mafia was increasing, they have reacted in a violent manner,” he added.

Those booked for assaulting the public servant under Sections 148, 149, 332 and 353 of the IPC were Manga, Kuldeep, Chintu, Bittu, Pala and Bhungra. Sources revealed that the accused had forcibly taken away a sand trolley confiscated by the forest officials on more than one occasion. However, the police failed to act against the miscreants.

On September 21, last year, the deputy DFO, Ropar, in a letter to the SSP, Mohali, stated one Jagpal Singh had engaged a tractor-trailer to remove sand from a site near the village.

Two forest officials, Charanjit Singh and Baldev Singh, had caught the tractor-trailer, but Jagpal Singh, along with some persons of the village, forcibly took it away from forest officials. With more police “assistance” to the sand-mining mafia, the lower rung forest officials have been finding it difficult to check the illegal activity.


Misuse of residential premises
GMADA to issue notices to violators
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 10
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) is planning to issue notices to residents who are misusing their residential premises for commercial purposes, thereby creating problems for others in the area.

GMADA estate official Balbir Singh said he had seen a few house owners in Phase III B1 and Phase IV misusing their premises by opening shops in the rear courtyard or by giving the area on rent to others for running business.

Such an attitude caused problems for others and also proved to be a traffic hazard when those frequenting these shops parked their vehicles on the roads.

He said such notices would be issued to all those residents in the town who were misusing their residential purposes in violation of the allotment rules.

The field staff had been told to identify all such areas where the misuse of houses was creating problems and action would be taken against the violators.

The estate official urged the residents not to stock construction material on the roads as this not only proved to be a traffic hazard but also led to accidents, especially at the time when visibility had become poor at night due to fog.

Some house owners living in Phase IV had turned the backside of their houses into full-fledged markets and most of them were selling furniture.

Such violations were increasing day by day because the authorities concerned had failed to check the misuse, which had proved to be a traffic hazard as buyers parked their vehicles on the main sector dividing road to make purchases.

The misuse of residential premises had been going on in various parts of the town for years but the position was quite grim in a part of Phase XI and the residents had been complaining in this regard but to no avail.



MC a happy hunting ground for deputationists
Own officials ignored for promotion to key posts

Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Denting the promotion opportunities of Chandigarh municipal corporation cadre officials, authorities have been giving charge of prime posts of most of the wings of the corporation to deputationists.

Besides, they have been least bothered if the deputationists hold the same post in the corporation for more than a decade or enjoy promotion without going back to their parent states.

In violation of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) guidelines and inter-state promotional deputation rules, several officials from neighbouring states have been posted on sensitive positions in the corporation like JE and SDO, which pertain to public dealing, for decades.

Under the rules of the Central Vigilance Commission, an official cannot continuously be put on any sensitive seat for more than three years, at a stretch, and the inter-state promotion rules underline that the officials working on deputation in MC will have to rejoin their parent state to seek promotion.

However, in the municipal corporation most deputationists manage to get promotion without going back to their parent states.

Besides, the Supreme Court ruling in a case filed by former Chief Engineer VK Bhardwaj and former MC Chief Engineer KB Sharma versus state, whereby no deputationist can be given preference over the eligible candidate, if available within the department itself, has been violated.

Officials seeking anonymity stated that whenever employees opted for the MC cadre rather than the Chandigarh administration, the authorities guaranteed that their recruitment and promotion would be done under the rules. However, in the corporation it was common for the authorities to prefer officers from neighboring states rather than considering the claim of their own employees, whose promotions have been due since long.

At a house meeting last year, MC Commissioner Dr Roshan Sunkaria had stated that the corporation would soon promote their own employees who were eligible for respective posts rather than calling deputationists from neighboring states.

He also assured that soon a list of all pending promotion cases would be prepared to implement the decision.

The MC employees’ association stated that they had given a number of representations to the Secretary, local self-governance, and the MC Commissioner in this regard but to no avail.



Factionalism to fore in BJP again
Three MC councillors offer to quit party

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Factionalism in the local unit of the BJP reared its head again today with three councillors of the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh offering to resign from the party in protest against the “high-handedness” of the party leadership during the organisational elections.

The election to the president of the District No. 3 was in the eye of storm today with state election officer Raghubir Lal Arora and party leadership being accused of imposing Gurpreet Singh Dhillon giving rules and regulations a go by.

Even as the Dhillon was announced as the president of the District No. 3 by Arora, the decision came in for severe criticism at the hands of senior leaders, including councillor from Ward No. 23 Ram Lal, Leela Dhar, mandal president, and an aspirant for the post of the president of the District No. 3, and Radhey Shyam Garg, president of the party’s industrial cell.

In a written communication to acting BJP president Purshottam Mahajan, Ram Lal and other leaders condemned the neglect of the party workers and "hooliganism" with the genuine party workers. The communication said the leaders of the party had resigned from the primary membership of the BJP.

High drama was witnessed at the party office in Sector 33 when Ram Lal, along with two other councillors, Anil Dubey and Surinder Jagota, reportedly offered to resign from the primary membership of the party against Dhillon's election of the president.

Scores of party workers thronged the BJP office and shouted slogans against a senior functionary of the party, who they alleged, wanted to hijack the party organisation through the backdoor entries of his favourites to the important posts.

Though Arora could not be contacted, Mahajan tried to play down incident saying that this was the “internal matter” of the party and would be resolved soon. “Minor differences during the organisational elections were bound to occur and they are no threat to party unity,” he quipped.

Claiming that he had not received any resignation letter so far, Tandon said a meeting would be held with Arora tomorrow to “sort out the differences” within the party over organisational matters.

The BJP leadership was on tenterhooks tonight also holding a meeting to find ways and means to put up united front.



Solid waste management facility
Land acquisition rate recommended in three villages
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 10
With a compensation of over Rs 1.5 crore an acre for the acquisition of their land for international airport, landowners of Jheorheri are having the laugh. But a few kilometres away, landowners in Rasenheri, Swara and Jhanjheri may not hit the jackpot.

Around 58 acres are being acquired in the three villages for setting up a common municipal solid waste management facility.

The district land acquisition collector has recommended an acquisition rate from Rs 25 lakh an acre to nearly Rs 35 lakh an acre. A public-hearing session to listen to the grievances was held at Jhanjheri village near here yesterday.

The land is being acquired by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA). The rates recommended by the land acquisition collector would be sent to the Secretary, Housing and Urban Development for final approval.

An official of the district administration said the 42 per cent solatium would be added to the recommended rates. As part of the acquisition process, proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act have been issued. “After adding all factors, it was difficult for the compensation to cross Rs 1 crore an acre. Paying high land compensation might not be feasible for GMADA,” said an official.

It may be mentioned that in the wake of paucity of funds, GMADA has decided to partially develop a number of projects.

Keeping the compensation issue apart, villagers of Rasenheri, Swara, Jhanjheri and other surrounding villages, who have been vehemently opposed the setting up of the facility said the land for the project had been bought by certain politicians and high-ups. “These people are outsiders and had no interest in the environmental issues and problems of the locals,” said Kuldeep Singh, a member of the Rasenheri-Swara Dumping Ground Roko Sangarsh Committee.

It has been alleged that knowing that the land could fetch high price, the land was picked up ahead of the beginning of the acquisition proceedings. The committee has demanded that the name of high-ups behind the purchase of the land be brought to light.



One block of plaza to be painted, other scrubbed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
In order to beautify Sector 17 and systemise irregular signages, boards, hoardings and advertisements, Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar convened a meeting with representatives of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal and the Sector 17 Market Association.

With mutual consent it was decided to paint one block of the plaza and scrub the other one with silicon on experimental basis.

On the basis of feedback received from the market association and people, it would later be decided to paint or scrub the entire plaza.

On the issue of bringing uniformity in the ubiquitous non-regularised signages, boards, hoardings and advertisements or any other display item, it was deliberated that a team of senior officials headed by Sanjay Kumar would visit the plaza and designate places for every shop owner for the display purpose.

The Finance Secretary said the visit would make it convenient for owners/tenants in recognising the right place of display of advertisements, signage, etc.

Several other issues, including uneven flooring, non-uniform installation of air-conditioners, etc. would also be dealt with on the spot.

There was a demand from the market association regarding the parking of bicycles in corridors of the plaza, lending the area a shabby look, along with blocking the pathway.

The Finance Secretary directed the chief architect to designate proper parking spaces for cycles so that no cycle owner entered the plaza during peak hours.

It was also deliberated to restrict the two-wheeler parking to the basement. SSP SS Srivastava assured full cooperation in the enforcement of the same.



Case against Jitti motivated, says Congress MLA
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 10
The dispute between Amandeep, a supporter of the Congress Kharar MLA, Balbir Singh Sidhu, and Shinder Singh, over the ownership of a section of a house in Phase III-B2 here is getting murkier with each passing day.

A day after Amandeep and Amarjeet Singh Jitti, a brother of the Kharar MLA, were booked — along with five other persons — for allegedly creating ruckus and trespassing into a house in Phase III-B2, the MLA while addressing a press conference said the cases were politically motivated.

Showing papers of the ownership of the disputed section of the house, the MLA said it was rather Shinder Singh who had hired goons to create ruckus.

“We are being targeted due to political reasons. I demand the entire issue to be probed thoroughly so that the role of the police comes out,” he asserted.

He further added that intention of the police can be gauged from the fact that a false case of firing gunshots and damaging a Skoda under Sections 148, 149, 336, 427 and 506 of the IPC had been registered against unknown persons last night.

The SSP, Mohali, said the matter was reported by a civilian and there was a dispute regarding property. The suspects were found at the spot.

The case was being supervised by the SP (headquarters) and the investigations were being carried out as per the facts and circumstantial evidence. The entire matter was in the knowledge of the locality where the house was located.

Last night, Manoj Kumar, an employee of Shinder Singh, told the police that around 12 persons came in a Gypsy and started firing. Then they entered the courtyard of the house and damaged a parked Skoda.



Reporters' Diary
Road safety banners save from biting cold

It cannot be said for sure whether the banners carrying the road safety messages, which the Chandigarh Traffic Police had displayed across the city during the “Road Safety Week” recently, served the purpose or not, but they definitely gave instant relief to the poor to fight the bone-chilling cold wave.

Unraveling the mystery linking the banner as a remedy to beat the cold wave, a traffic police official said they had displayed around 60 banners at major intersections and other important places in the city during the 21st National Road Safety Week recently. Within a couple of days, the banners made of polythene sheets disappeared from the busy places. “We looked for the reason behind the sudden disappearance of the banner. And much to our surprise, we found that rickshaw-pullers, rag-pickers and poor children had taken them away to use as sheets to cover themselves,” he added.

“Let alone the road safety messages, the banners are serving more than the purpose than we intended. Nothing better than serving the poor,” quipped the official.

Strange bedfellows

If one goes by the annual review released by the Chandigarh Police, its traffic wing had educated roughly every 10th person in the city about traffic rules and regulation last year.

The report said the police had conducted 107 road safety workshops and exhibitions during the year imparting training to 1,08,084 people, including schoolchildren and teachers. The police also said it had distributed 2,30,450 pamphlets and booklets last year.

Defying the efforts of the police, the traffic rule violations are on the rise as the traffic police has booked over 1.56 lakh offenders last year as against over 1.5 lakh violators in 2007.

“At the first sight, it appeared to be a mammoth awareness campaign, but the ground reality about the traffic scene and road sense in the city fails to support the claims. The result indicates that teaching and policing are strange bedfellows,” a senior cop said.

Go green

In the backdrop of the Copenhagen summit on climate change, “go green” is the buzzword, these days.

Advertising professional Anup Sharma of the Pacific Ads has chosen the medium of diary to drive home the message of environmental preservation.

What separates Anup's diaries from run-of-the-mill executive diaries is the useful and ready-to-use “green” tit bits, which could go a long way in saving the fragile eco-system. And the information is repeated before the start of every month.

“Water in which the vegetables and fruits have been washed can be used to water the flowers and ornamental potted plants,” states the section on “save water”.

Carry on Anup. We need more green warriors like you to remind the general public that environmental degradation had the potential of playing havoc with our lives.

PU numb to pay scales?

The numbness due to the chilly weather appears to have seeped in the actions of Panjab University administration as well. The inability of the administration and those at the helm of affairs to take a strong stand on several issues has lead to resentment among members of the group, which has long been supporting the Vice-Chancellor.

A case in point is the issue of teacher’s evaluation. When the new pay scales have been implemented so smoothly and the university is among the first few in the country to implement the same, what is the hitch in implementing the teacher’s evaluation, which was also a part of UGC’s new regulations? It goes for the implementation of the online attendance system as well. Earlier, a section of press had quoted the VC saying the system would be implemented in all the departments. Many chairpersons had even remarked that the system was unique and had reduced their burden. Now, it was announced in the meeting with the chairperson, just a day before the strike in the law department, that the implementation is not mandatory.

Cricket fever

Despite cold weather conditions, with the day temperature plummeting to 9.4 degree Celsius, lowest during the past 10 years, little budding cricketers can be seen enthusiastic about participating in the cricket tournaments held at the at the BTS Cricket Academy, Sector 48.

Even as elderly persons preferred to remain indoors during the day, children could be seen moving towards the academy grounds on their bicycles with kits to participate in the tournament, braving chilly winds.

These budding players feel bad whenever any tournament is cancelled or postponed due to the foggy conditions and could be seen playing some other games like basketball or football in small groups. They are waiting for the Sun to come out in a day or two so that the various tournaments postponed during the last few days could resume soon.

(Contributed by Ramanjit Sidhu, Pradeep Sharma, Neha Miglani and Sanjay Bumbroo)



Installation ceremony held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
It was an occasion of celebrating past achievements and looking ahead into the future for more as the Toastmasters Clubs of Chandigarh and Panchkula jointly held their installation ceremony in Chandigarh on Saturday evening.

New presidents, vice-presidents, treasurers, secretaries and sergeants at arms were installed by Deepak Menon, district governor for India and Sri Lanka. These clubs are part of the Toastmasters International, a non-profit organisation that started as a single club founded by Ralph C Smedley in 1924 in Santa Ana, California, United States. It now has 12,500 clubs in 108 countries, providing learning environment for its members to hone their leadership, public speaking and communication skills.

Outgoing president Sumant Kumar welcomed the chief guest and invited him to swear in the new office-bearers. Dr Gurvinder Dhamija took oath as the president. Deepak Lekhi, Vikas Jindal and Navnit Joshi were sworn in as vice-presidents, education, membership and public relations, respectively. Sonali Mittal, Abdus Khan and Vidhu Verma were declared as secretary, treasurer and sergeants at arms of the club.

For the Panchkula club, Manish Kumar took oath as president, Ankur Dewan, Neeraj Lekhi and Chetan Sood as vice-presidents, respectively.

Menon commended Deepak Lekhi, the founder president of the Chandigarh club for starting the club nearly two years back and roping in about 50 members from all walks of life.

Entrepreneurs, doctors and students form the core membership of the club. Menon also delivered an exuberant motivational speech on the importance of a goal-centric approach to everything in life and expressed the hope that the club membership will grow quickly and help the members in achieving their goals.

After assuming office, Dr Gurvinder Dhamija welcomed his team and said the theme during his tenure will be ‘involvement’ and his goal is to increase the membership to at least 80 in the next six months. The club holds its meetings every Saturday at the YMCA Hall, Sector 11.



Lohri celebrated at Snehalya
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Sankalp, a social organisation formed by students of DAV College, Sector 10, to help critically ill children, visited Snehalya in Maloya today to celebrate Lohri with its inmates. Sankalp has been a helping hand to those children who do not have sufficient money to survive.

The organisation members have also organised charity shows to collect money for getting critically ill children operated. Another mega charity show “Sparkles-10” will be held on January 28 in the Main Auditorium, DAV College, Sector 10, Chandigarh.

The members also held a drawing competition for the children and following have won prizes:

Category I (8-9 years): 1 Bulbul, 2 Mariam and 3 Deepak.

Category II (10-12 years): 1 Shweta, 2 Harpreet and 3 Rupesh.

Category III (13 years and above): 1 Simon, 2 Veena and 3 Vijay.



Cultural programme marks celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The Citizens’ Association, Sector 21, today celebrated Lohri at the Community Centre, Sector 21. Ram Niwas, UT Home Secretary, and Dr Roshan Sunkaria, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, graced the occasion as chief guest and guest of honour.

“Lohri fire” was followed by a cultural programme by renowned artistes from the department of public relations and cultural affairs, Haryana.

Children and other artistes gave an impressive performance.

President PC Sanghi apprised guests about various activities of the association.

Audience enjoyed the cultural programme and the traditional refreshment.



Desi ghee seized
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The Excise and Taxation Department has seized certain documents and stocks of desi ghee brands for allegedly not reducing VAT as ordered by the Chandigarh administration.

According to a press note issued here today, the department was forced to take action against the dealers who were selling desi ghee at old prices. The department conducted surprise inspections on Pure Food Specialties, Food Stock Private Limited, Kamal Milk Foods and Arihant Agencies.

To give relief to the general public and also to bring VAT on desi ghee at par with the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana, the Chandigarh administration had reduced the VAT levied on desi ghee from 12.5 per cent to 4 per cent on December 24, 2009. However, the administration had been receiving complaints about some firms that were still selling the commodity without any change in the prices.



Pensioners’ assn for payment of arrears
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The Punjab Government Pensioners Association resented the indifferent attitude of the government towards their pending demands. Their demands include payment of arrears and enhancement of medical allowance from Rs 500 to 1,000.

Members of the association said they would stage a dharna, if the government failed to fulfil their demands by January 28.

They said pensioners, who could not get arrears due to the pathetic and callous attitude of the government, died.

The association flayed the government for not checking the skyrocketing prices.

The members added that pensioners were forced to live a miserable life with their meagre pension.



Office-bearers elected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Dr Labh Singh Kheeva has been elected president of the Punjabi Lekhak Sabha, Chandigarh, during a bi-annual general house of the sabha held at Punjab Kala Bhawan, Sector 16, here today.

Khushal Singh Naga Bejar has been elected as senior vice-president while Sewi Rayat and Manjit Kaur have been elected as vice-presidents, Balkar Sidhu as general secretary, AS Patang and Pal Ajnabi as secretaries and RS Fgarag as finance secretary of the sabha.



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
The following have been unanimously elected as members of the steering committee of the Vishwakarma Sabha, Chandigarh- principal Mata Ram Dhiman, convener-cum-coordinator Tajinder Pal Singh, Mohali district in charge principal Ravinder Singh, Dial Chand, SDO Ambala, Harmail Dhiman and Lovely, Himachal Pradesh, Nirmal Singh, Chandigarh, Surinder Dhiman, Naraingarh, and Om Parkash and Gurcharran Dhiman.




Chandigarh, January 10
Desh Bhagat College of Education has been awarded Grade ‘B’ by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council of India (NAAC).

Dr Zora Singh, chairman, Tejinder Kaur, vice-chairperson, and Prof Shalini Gupta, director general, expressed satisfaction over the performance of the college. They said it was another feather in the cap of Desh Bhagat Institutes. — TNS



Open House Response
Colleges should conduct supplementary examinations

Panjab University’s examination and evaluation systems appear to be faulty, outdated, redundant, unrealistic and irrelevant. The present system fails to asses the efforts put in by students.

Answer sheets are usually checked by an unprofessional and disinterested evaluator with his self-justifying approach, who only checks a few answer sheets and rest are graded as per the average system. After Class X, the examination is conducted by the university, enhancing teachers’ work load unnecessarily and to cope with the pressure, the university takes many short cuts.

This hampers the interests of students, as to get admissions after graduation, the main criteria is the percentage of marks obtained in the examinations.

Those, who set question papers, seldom follow the syllabus and repeated questions are often asked in papers, which are beyond the periphery of syllabus.

This shows that no efforts are put in and students suffer due to the faulty system and not due to lack of knowledge. All re-appear or supplementary examinations must be conducted by schools or colleges.

Students should have the right to see their answer sheets. This will deter lethargic evaluators. The re-evaluation system is also faulty, in most of the cases; there is no change, not even of one mark. It appears that the university tries to justify their earlier stand and evaluation does not seem to be realistic and justified. The university can save a lot of time and money by conducting on-the-spot evaluation, where 50 per cent marks should be assessed by teachers of the institutions and the remaining 50 per cent should depend on the performance of students in the university examination. The authorities should lend ears to the problems and present needs of students.

Capt Amar Jeet Kumar, Mohali

Evaluate overall progress

The Tribune, through the “Open House” article by Sanjeev Singh Bariana, has started a very healthy discussion regarding the examination system of Panjab University. Panjab University has the distinction of initiating on-the-spot evaluation in 1986 and it has introduced the use of OMR sheets for its undergraduate students in April, 2009. This system of evaluation has enabled in time deceleration of results of almost two lakh candidates. This process of evaluation requires dedicated workforce and sustainable resources.

What does the evaluation system do and what do we want to evaluate? Who will evaluate and who will be evaluated? These are preliminary questions. Is it possible to eliminate human factor from evaluation system? The subjectivity can not be put aside, however, its impact can be minimised.

The procedure of paper setting depends on the respective Board of Studies in each subject and names of evaluators are duly approved by this elected body. When we come to the real scenario, these guiding principles are thrown to the wind. It happens, as we do not believe in work ethics that is a national problem of having a lackadaisical attitude of “Sab Chalta ha”.

The evaluation depends on remuneration that is paid to the teacher. From the very beginning teachers look towards the university for the hike in rates and often teachers restore to some agitation to seek increase in the evaluation remuneration. The university should make it clear that the remuneration will commensurate with the price increase.

The question of responsibility and accountability has to be addressed. In each subject, there should be a panel of five teachers, who should have a look at the marked answer sheets. The university should also ensure that the paper setter has given detailed guidelines regarding the paper.

The cooperation of teachers is very imperative and this cannot be expected with “stick and carrot” policy. The dignity of teachers must be maintained.

The subjective method of evaluation cannot be wiped out, as the background of examinees cannot be changed.

The grading method will help solve the evaluation system. This process can eliminate the master of system’s approach .The overall progress of a student should be evaluated, for instance the sports, social work, creative endeavour, cultural activities, personal potentials, involvement in the college/dept work and many other personality traits.

At least, 35 per cent weightage should be given to these activities that will bridge the gap between privileged and underprivileged segments of students.

Dr Sukhjinder Singh Gill, Panjab University

Online examination can improve system

This pertains to the article published in the Chandigarh Tribune titled “PU’s exam system needs a revamp”. I feel that the examination system at Panjab University is one of the most successful systems. Most of the results are declared in time. With the computerisation of the attendance and examination, the system will improve and become more efficient. It is true that the change does take time. However, with the honest efforts of the university authorities, it seems to be a achievable goal. Already discussions are going on, on the introduction of grading system, as well. I feel with the continued efforts of better coordination between students, teachers and staff, there will be perceptible further improvement in the coming years.

Prof Mohan Lal Garg, Department of Biophysics, Punjab University

Comparative study of universities

After reading the column written by Sanjeev Singh Bariana, I wanted to ask one thing that why The Tribune is publishing so much about Panjab University, Chandigarh, as if there is nothing to report on in other universities in Punjab.

Why are other universities being ignored. It will be timely step to make comparative study of all universities to bring overall reforms, so that all students could get the benefits/desired results.

Dr Harjinder Singh Rose

Upgrade examination system

Hats off to Chandigarh Tribune for publishing a thought provoking article by Sanjeev Singh Bariana on “PU's exam system needs a revamp” in the “Open House” column of the newspaper. Taking cognisance of the existing lacunae in the examination and evaluation process of Panjab University, Prof RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, has immediately constituted a 10-member committee to look into the revamping of the crippled examination system and has asked for its report by January 24. The system of evaluation of answer sheets of various examinations conducted by the university is doubtful. Teachers are forced to check a large number of answer sheets in the shortest possible time. As a result, most of the students are dissatisfied with the results and they prefer to go in for re-evaluation of their answer-sheets by paying the requisite fee. Surprisingly, the results change after the re-evaluation process. The university is only bothered in conducting the examinations and collecting huge amounts of money. This attitude certainly needs a change and the system needs to be revamped. The suggestion given by the writer that the university should do away with the system of examination for Part I and Part II in the undergraduate classes is perfectly right and most welcomed. This will also ease the burden of the university, as colleges would be able to conduct the examinations on their own. Time has certainly come to upgrade the examination system of the universities. Even the evaluation system of school-level examinations has changed with time. Other universities should also follow suit and improve the standards of education.

RK Kapoor, Chandigarh

Chandigarh Tribune will like to share your experience with Panjab University’s examination system along with possible remedies. Write your experiences and suggestions to the Open House, Chandigarh Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh, or [email protected]



Ex-don to donate rare books to library
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
In a unique gesture, Prof Pramod Sangar, a former teacher at Panjab University, has decided to donate rare books to the university library.

The treasure trove of books, travel accounts and records shedding light on the medieval Indian history will be donated to the rare books section of the university library.

“I still cherish the moments spend at PU first as the UGC fellow and later as the professor of history in the department of correspondence studies,” said Prof Sangar.

Prof Sangar said some of his donations, including records of Fort St George, Fort St William and the Bombay Presidency, would prove beneficial to the students of the economic history of medieval India.



Lecture on positive thinking
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 10
Prajapati Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya today organised a lecture on “Power of positive thinking” at Rojyoga Bhawan, Sector 34, here today.

While delivering the lecture, Prof Onkar Chand, Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhadal, said “Our thoughts and feeling paint our reality. We will get something if we truly believe that we can achieve it.”



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