C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Industrial Plot Policy
Admn gets HC rap
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
The city administration today received a rap on its knuckles for its policy on pocketing profits from industrial land sales. The Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled that the administration was not a private vendor trying to sell a property for profit. It was a public body that must allow public interest and national interest must govern its decisions.

The scathing observations by Justice K Kannan came during the hearing of a petition filed by a resident, Alok Sarwal, against the administration and the estate officer on the allocation of an industrial plot.

Justice Kannan said the development of industrial plot was “an instrument to make way for national development to increase productivity and generate employment. The allotment of a plot and the price that it determined ought to be, therefore, reasonable and fair”. He made it clear that the price of the plot shall be determined at the rate the property was identified.

The petitioner had earlier asserted that the administration and the estate officer had invited applications for the allotment of industrial plots of various sizes. On November 30, 1982, the draw of lots was held, but 256 allottees could not be given possession as there was objection from the authorities concerned to the land proposed to be offered as industrial plots as it was covered by the notification of 1961, declaring the area reserved forest.

In 1991, another screening committee was constituted, but the petitioner and several others did not give their consent for a plot of a smaller size. In 2005, a fresh draw of lots was conducted and the size of the plot allocated to the petitioner was reduced from four to two kanals.

The price of the land announced by the respondents at that time was Rs 2,875 per sq yard as against the initial price of Rs 70 per sq yard. Sarwal challenged the letter of allotment of the industrial plot and the requirement to deposit Rs 66,74,825.

The judge observed: “If the property had been identified as fit for allotment on January 7, 2005, it shall be taken to be that day when the price shall be determined.”



Man convicted of raping 22-month old
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
In an exceptional case based on circumstantial evidence, a local court today convicted the suspect accused of raping a 22-month-old girl in March last. Additional district & sessions judge Raj Rahul Garg will pronounce the quantum of sentence on January 21.

Interestingly, the case has been decided in only five hearings since the FIR was registered. “Unlike in rape cases where the evidence is available in the form of the statement of the prosecutrix (victim) and even in the absence of any eyewitness, it was rather difficult to prove the crime. However the circumstantial evidence paved the way for the suspect’s conviction,” public prosecutor Manu Kakkar stated.

The turning point of the case was the statement of the victim’s sister, 14-year-old Pooja (name changed), who deposed before the court fearlessly. “I’m here to get justice for my sister,” she told the court.

In her statement, recalling that day Pooja stated the suspect took her sister along with him on the pretext of playing with her on his bicycle, bringing her back after about two hours. However, she said when he dropped her sister at their home the latter was crying inconsolably whereupon he immediately left the scene.

The case dates back to March 19, 2009 when the police booked a 19-year-old resident of Mauli Jagran, Joginder Singh, on charges of raping a 22-month-old girl. The suspect, who was working as a mechanic in the area’s motor market, was living in the neighbourhood of the victim’s family.

The victim, daughter of a labourer, was admitted to PGI after her mother found her bleeding. The incident took place on March 17 when the victim’s mother had said her son was admitted to Government Multispeciality Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16 that day and she was with him. When she returned home at around 3 pm she found her younger daughter crying and bleeding. When the toddler was not comfortable despite her efforts, she took her to GMSH.

However, doctors at the hospital did not pronounce it as being a medico-legal case and began treating the victim, who was later referred to PGI. The doctors there suspected she might have been sexually abused.

Deposing in court, Dr Sananth of PGI had said from the medical examination conducted on the victim it was clear the child was sexually assaulted before she was brought to the hospital.

The prosecution got six witnesses examined to prove its case.



Victim’s parents want rapist hanged
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
“My daughter has no right to live if justice is not done for her - I may be even driven to kill her myself. Who’ll marry her after what happened to her?” asks an inconsolable Shanti (name changed), expressing her anger and helplessness over the rape of her daughter, at that time a toddler of 22 months, by a 19-year-old youth, Joginder Singh, living in the vicinity.

“I wish the government had opened more crèches where small children could be taken care of. I once went to a crèche run by the government but they refused to take my daughter in,” laments Shanti.

Nearly a year after the unfortunate incident, my daughter has still not been able to come to terms with it, she says while holding her in her lap.

Youngest of four siblings, the child, whose father is a labourer, has been suffering from seizures ever since she was violated.

Recalling that day with tears in her eyes, Shanti said: “My son was not well and was admitted to GMSH, Sector 16. I was with him at the hospital on that day. When I returned home I noticed my younger daughter was crying inconsolably and was in pain. I felt she wanted to tell me something, but she was too small to talk or convey anything. I took her for urinating and noticed she was bleeding”.

Ever since an FIR was registered with the police the Shanti and her husband were threatened by the suspect’s family members time and again to withdraw the case.

“We even knocked the doors of the panchayat but it refused to help us, asking me and my husband to get justice ourselves”, Shanti said. “Recently the suspect’s mother came to our home to threaten us, saying if our daughter was really raped she should have been dead by now”, she added.

“I wish the court hangs him so that he is not able to commit such a heinous crime again”, the couple said.



Tribune Impact
Felling in Perch forest put on hold
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 19
Taking note of the Tribune’s report regarding the illegal felling of trees in the Perch forest area, the Punjab forest department today stopped the felling until further orders. Undersized trees and those standing on the slopes had been marked for felling by the contractor in violation of rules in the ecologically-fragile Shivalik Hills.

In a preliminary inquiry by senior forest officials, ample evidence was found to carry out an inspection of the entire forest area to mark the trees. A team of 21 officials has been constituted to inspect the area, said Parveen Kumar, Conservator of Forests, Shivalik Hills. Sources said it had also been found that at several places, khair tree, which is sold at high rates, had been marked as miscellaneous in the record. This indicated manipulation, which required a thorough checking of trees against the numbers mentioned in the record.

Such scandals had often been unearthed at Nurpur Bedi, Mirzapur and Seonk, but the department has failed to learn any lessons. Besides, influential persons manage to get the contracts. Falling under the Kharar range, the Perch forest was opened for felling after six years. No tree with a girth of below 60 cm can be felled. Some trees with a girth of just 43 to 54 cm have been marked for felling.



Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
In conversation with the Tribune correspondent, Sanjeev Singh Bariana, Raghunath Singh, a comrade in arms with veteran Communist leader Jyoti Basu for over three decades and CITU general secretary of Punjab, gave a brief insight into the life of the towering personality whose body was consigned to the flames on Tuesday.

Jyoti Basu was a paradigm of a regulated lifestyle. He was a man of few words, but each word was received as forcefully as it was delivered. He was an epitome of a man committed to the ideals he lived by in his personal as well as professional life.

Party workers met the enigmatic leader during his two visits to the city. He came here in 1987 to participate in a meeting of the All India CITU Workers Committee and later in 1995 for participating in the congress of the CPI(M) held every three years.

“Our family is born Communist. My mother and three sisters have all worked in the party cadre and had several opportunities to interact with Jyoti Basu at various fora. My first interaction with him was during the 1980 elections. I was a leader of the Student Federation of India and accompanied him as he toured the country.

“The first thing that struck me about him was his disciplined life. Getting up early for a walk was a must. He spoke sparingly, making people believe he was shy and reticent. In fact, he was a keen observer and listener and would speak only after deep thought.

“I remember when mediapersons walked up to him when the party rejected the offer for the PM’s post to him ... he was sitting with Harkishen Surjit, another staunch Communist. He replied: ‘I can have difference of opinion on the issue of accepting any post, however, as a worker, I am not above the party’.

“I remember he was touring Punjab in the 70s, and a GA to the then DC, who is now a minister in the Punjab government, wanted to meet him. Jyoti Basu came alone in a car without any party worker or a motorcade and met him courteously. The GA had remarked that he had yet to meet a senior leader so grounded. He talked as if he was a common man.”



New Guv raises hopes for better governance
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
After having been at the receiving end for the past five years, city residents are pinning their hopes for improved governance on the new Punjab Governor-cum-UT administrator Shivraj Patil, who assumes office on January 22.

With the current incumbent, SF Rodrigues, on his way out, all eyes are on the former home minister who, most people believe, would be more accessible. Having spent a long time in public life, Patil's style of functioning is expected to be more accountable and transparent.

Independent Schools Association president HS Mamik said the new UT administrator “should be wary of vested interests that had brought the city to the brink of disaster on the pretext of setting up mega projects” during the past five years.

“Basic services such as health, education, transport and traffic management should get priority instead of impractical projects, which were the hallmark of the outgoing administration”, he added.

"We expect more participation by representatives of city residents in the decision-making process. More so as Patil had represented the people for a long time in various elected bodies, especially in Parliament," said former city mayor Subhash Chawla.

He hoped being the former home minister Patil would be in a better position to take a dispassionate decision on the controversial mega projects, which had kicked up a storm in the city in view of alleged irregularities in the allotment of land to the promoters.

HS Johl, president of the Mani Majra Farmers' Welfare and Environment Protection Society, which had been at loggerheads with the UT administration for its lopsided land acquisition policy, hoped the stakeholders, particularly farmers, would now be taken into confidence whenever land was to be acquired.

“Under Patil's stewardship the administration should formulate a master plan for the city so that ‘ad hocism’ in administrative decisions, particularly acquisition of land for nonproductive’\ purposes, is stopped”, Johl added.

It may be mentioned a cross section of society was at daggers drawn with the administration for acquiring land for the mega projects, which raised a lot of dust in the backdrop of alleged acts of omission and commission during allotment of land to the promoters.

The mega projects, including Medicity, Film City, Amusement Park and Phase III of the IT Park, eventually came under the scanner of the central government, particularly the Central Vigilance Commission. The Film City project was later scrapped, sparking off a war of words between the promoters, Parsvnath Developers Ltd, and the UT administration.



Foggy day blinds region
Tribune News Service

A kaleidoscope of colours in this thick fog adds romance to a cold January night.
A kaleidoscope of colours in this thick fog adds romance to a cold January night. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Chandigarh, January 19
A thick blanket of fog covered the city and neighbouring parts of Punjab and Haryana today, throwing normal life out of gear and causing rail and air traffic to go haywire.

Descending right from the morning, fog disrupted the movement of vehicular traffic along the Chandigarh-Ambala and Chandigarh-Patiala highways, besides sending flights and rail traffic behind schedule.

At some places, the visibility was as low as 20 metres. In the evening, the condition was worse. The day temperature in the city today fell by 3.4°C.

While the Kingfisher Airlines and the Jet Airways cancelled all their flights to and from Delhi, commotion prevailed at the city airport.

The Indian Airlines took long to finally call off its flight at 3 pm, much to the harassment of passengers, who had been waiting from 12:30 pm for the 3 pm flight to Delhi.

The dreaded winter fog had hit air travel hard, with airlines suffering losses in crores, said an official of the Airports Authority of India.

The city continued to experience numbing cold as the minimum temperature rose marginally to 5.7°C, one degree above normal, as against 5.2°C yesterday.

As the day progressed, it was time to rejoice for city residents. Uncertain about tomorrow’s weather, everyone wanted to be under the bright sun. The elderly preferred to bask in the sun or play cards in gardens.

The weatherman forecast a partly cloudy sky with mist or fog during morning and night for the city tomorrow, with the maximum and minimum temperatures likely to be around 18°C and 8°C, respectively, in the next 24 hours.



Non-payment of tax on Parsvnath deal
CHB to lose Rs 329 crore
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
While the Chandigarh administration’s much-hyped housing project with the Parsvnath Developers remains embroiled in controversy, the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) is all set to get poorer by a whopping Rs 329 crore as the income tax (IT) department will recover the amount on account of non-payment of tax on the deal.

The IT department has issued notices to CHB officials for the payment of tax on income amounting to a whopping Rs 815 crore earned in the Parsvnath deal.

According to officials, the CHB, the assessee, has claimed that this income belongs to the UT administration and under Article 289 of the Constitution, the property and income of a state is exempt from taxation by the Union.

Contrary to the claim made by the assessee, IT officials have said the CHB is a separate entity as per Section 3 of the Haryana Housing Board Act, 1971. It had been formed by extending the Haryana Housing Board Act, 1971, to the union territory.

The administration had sold the commercial land, measuring 129 acre, to the CHB at Rs 18.5 crore per acre. The convenience deed was signed on August 31, 2006.

The land was further sold to the Parsvnath Developers for raising a huge housing complex by the CHB next to the Rajiv Gandhi Technology Park for Rs 821 crore.

Subsequently, they had made FDRs in Delhi and had not paid tax on interest amounting to Rs 9.01 crore.

The notice was issued by Additional Commissioner, Income Tax (Range I), Rajeshwar Yadav.

As per the notice, the CHB had to pay the tax by the end of January as the notice was sent on December 28, 2009.

When contacted, Sanjay Kumar, Finance Secretary, said, “We are going to file an appeal. It seems that there is difference of opinion.”

On being asked about the Parsvnath deal, he said the CHB revenue was of the administration for utilisation in welfare projects.



Pavement Blocks
No move till roads are widened
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
The municipal corporation has decided that the proposal for the installation of pavement blocks will not be prepared till road widening is completed by the department. This decision was taken at a meeting under the chairmanship of Mayor Anu Chatrath with area councillors of wards 6 to 10 and officials here today.

During the meeting, it was pointed out that the department concerned had invited tenders both for road widening and pavement blocks at the same time.

On most earlier occasions, after work on pavement blocks was completed, the road widening contractor used to dig out all pavement blocks for road widening and untidy footpaths were left behind.

During the meeting, officials of the departments concerned whose works had been pending for long assured the councillors that all projects would be completed by the departments within three months.

Another issue the councillors raised was that the horticulture wing usually gave the maintenance of parks to private contractors. Most of the time, after the expiry of the contract, the department did not allot this work again, which spoiled the beauty of the green belts and parks.

It was decided today that the department would allot the fresh contract six months before the expiry date of the previous one in the future.

Meanwhile, MC Chief Engineer SK Bansal issued directions to the horticulture wing that besides looking after plantation in green belts and parks, it would also have to maintain fountains, lights and paths at the parks.

This decision followed complaints by councillors that beautification projects of green belts and parks, including installation of fountains and fancy streetlights, had been lying pending for long with the public health department.

The officials explained during the meeting that the delay was due to theft of spare parts of fountains and lights from parks and now, the department was working on a policy to ensure that those were maintained and theft was curbed.

The mayor decided that from now on, the horticulture wing would be responsible for the upkeep of parks and green belts independently.



Cops search murder victim’s house again
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
In an attempt to get some vital clues, the Chandigarh police today thoroughly searched murder victim Shashi Sharma’s house again in the presence of her relatives.

The police also checked the victim’s bank account to find whether she had made some huge transaction in the recent past. The police said the victim had around Rs 1.25 lakh in her account and made the last withdrawal of about Rs 10,000 on January 11.

The police had also been working on the theory of property dispute being a reason for the murder. The investigators were also looking into the details of her dispute with a resident of the Attawa village regarding her shop.

The police checked details of the property and found that a piece of land owned by her had been confiscated by a bank. Her husband had taken a loan against the land and bought a truck. After his death, she could not repay the loan.

The crime scene suggested that the at least three persons were involved in the murder.

“This indicated that the killer followed the victim into the house. She was overpowered after she put the vegetables and milk she bought in the kitchen. She was killed just after she entered the house”, said a police officer who visited her house this morning.

“It appeared from the scene that the two persons who were inside the house killed her and searched the house. The third one locked the house from outside. They later called their companion, who unlocked the house,” said the police officer.



LPG agencies told to regulate supply
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 19
Even as the DC, Prabhjot Singh Mand, today took note of the shortage of domestic LPG cylinders, unauthorised use and sale of the gas continues in the district. The DC directed the district food and supplies department to take action against those indulging in the illegal activity.

Some persons in Phase XI were found filling the gas in smaller cylinders here today.

The cylinders were being sold at a premium.

A spokesman for the administration said reacting to a report on the pilferage of LPG, instructions had been issued to the proprietors of gas agencies and oil companies to regulate the supply.

For the past few weeks, there has been acute shortage of LPG cylinders in the city, going by the backlog of the cylinders at various agencies in Chandigarh and Mohali. Consumers of HPCL and BPCL are complaining more about LPG shortage.

In the rural areas the problem is more acute as long queues of people can be seen in front of LPG agencies.

Officials attribute the shortage to poor supply of bulk material from refineries.

The use of LPG in houses for geysers or for running vehicles, besides commercial purposes, are some of the other reasons for the shortage.



Boy cooks up kidnap story
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
A 12-year-old boy concocted a kidnapping story today to avoid being scolded by his parents for not going to school. The boy, Suraj of Khudda Jassu village, kept the police confused for hours.

The police went to his school and found that the boy regularly bunked school. The SHO of the Sector 11 police station said the sarpanch of the village reported about the kidnapping incident.

Suraj’s father Rakesh Kumar, a roadside barber, informed the sarpanch that his son was kidnapped by two youths and was later released.

The police reached the spot and started investigations.

In the absence of any motive behind the kidnapping, the police suspected something wrong. On being cross-examined, Suraj admitted before his parents that he did not want to go to school and so, had concocted the story.



Teachers’ assessment losing steam
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
A student of MSc in Panjab University was penalised in the internal examination for asking too many questions in the class. Next year, the same student stood second in the class by not participating in the classroom discussions, confesses the student.

This incident came to light during an ongoing programme of the student council of the university, in which the student told how his enthusiasm to ask questions in the class was killed when he was punished in the internal assessment.

Besides, many such cases happen in every classroom. It’s been over four years since the issue of teachers’ evaluation is being discussed in the Panjab University and now after the issue has finally made some headway, the essence of the evaluation appears to be fading among teachers’ body, administration and the student council. It is still not decided who will assess the teachers?

After the postponement of teachers’ evaluation meeting on Monday, the next date is being awaited by every one.

The motive behind implementing the idea also seems to have been ignored in the war of words through the media.

“The teachers evaluation is a positive move and must be implemented, taking care that it is done in an honest manner. When I was teaching in Chicago, an independent body and not the university administration used to do the evaluation to ensure careful monitoring. The letters are then sent to teachers for their improvement and objectivity was maintained,” said Prof KN Pathak, former Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University.

MM Puri, former Vice-Chancellor, PU said: “Everyone should be examined for betterment. If teachers’ evaluation is done in its true spirit, then it will solve the purpose.”

He also said: “Teachers would be benefitted and it will also prepare them for what is expected from them. Teachers should inspire and allow students to ask questions in the classroom.”

While the date for next teachers’ meeting is yet to be decided, the students council, which was designated the task of making the questionnaire by PUTA at the last meeting, has prepared a draft, after consulting students, which contains seven points to test the faculty.

The questionnaire includes testing them on regularity, discipline, clarity of subject, delivery of content, extent of help in understanding topic and fairness of grading procedure. The options to grade would also be increased to four, said a member.



PU VC to attend coordination meeting in Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
Panjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti will attend a meeting in New Delhi next week. The meeting is called by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development to take decision on co-ordination between schools, colleges and university.

The heads of educational institutions from across the country will put forward their opinions on the issues related to the inability of an average student to reach university.

During his last visit to PU, Union Minister for Human Resource and Development Kapil Sibal had pointed out the need to harmonise education at these levels. He also pointed out that majority of students were not able to get education at higher-level due to lack of co-ordination between schools, colleges and university. Hence, the need of the hour is that institutions’ heads discuss the means to co-ordinate.

HS Mamik, president, Independent Schools Association, said: “It’s time that the examining bodies like CBSE or ICSE that controls the curriculum interact with universities. Educationists should decide to bring about the change. For instance, getting admission for higher education is a big problem. A means to let an individual have access to higher education should be worked out.”



DAV students told about traffic rules
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
NSS unit of MCM DAV College today conducted a “Traffic awareness programme” in the college. HS Doon, SP (traffic and security) was the chief guest and Vijay Kumar, DSP traffic was the guest of honour.

HS Doon inspired the students to wear helmets and made them aware about traffic and road rules. The students attended the lecture in a large number.


“Prakriti”, the environment society of the Government College for Girls, Sector-11, in collaboration with “Kalasrijan”, the Fine Arts Society of the College organised a workshop in the college on “Best out of waste” for the students.

Archana Malhotra, creative art specialist was the resource person. As many as 50 students participated in the workshop and made various articles out of waste materials, including paperweights, clip holders, floor and table-mats, envelopes, jewellery boxes, pen stands etc. The workshop was attended by the teaching and non-teaching faculty of the college.



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