C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Kharar, Banur master plans approved
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 4
The Punjab government today allowed the use of agricultural land for activities covered under the mix-land use category.The decision was taken at a meeting of the Punjab Regional Town Planning and Development Board chaired by the CM, Parkash Singh Badal, at Chandigarh to approve the master plans of Kharar and Banur. Sources in the town and country planning department said acting on the suggestions received during the public response period, mix-land use had been allowed on 200-metre strips along Kharar-Morinda, Banur-Tepla and other major roads passing through the local planning areas.

This would also check encroachments along the roads. Officials said to ease urbanisation pressure of land on Chandigarh’s periphery, the concept of agri-recreational zone has been introduced. Focusing on agriculture-themed uses, the new concept allows farmers to unlock some value of land while maintaining predominant agriculture use. Prepared under the Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development Act, 2006, the area between Chandigarh-Ludhiana highway and Chandigarh-Kurali highway and to the north of Kharar city has been marked as agri-recreational zone in the master plan.

It primarily includes Pokhri, Radyala, Daumajra, Bhagomajra and Khanpur villages. On the pattern of the Mohali master plan, the town and country planning department has also proposed low-density population of 175 persons per acre. Similarly, the area north of Mohali and Chandigarh-Ludhiana track has been marked for residential, institutional and government buildings.

The area to the left of Kharar-Ludhiana has been reserved for institutional and mix-land use. Keeping in mind the agriculture potential of the area, the Singapore-based consultants have proposed agriculture use in Badala, Badali and Tripri villages. The projected population of Kharar LPA by 2031 has been projected at 2,20,300. While approving the master plan of Banur, an educational hub along the Chandigarh-Patiala highway has been allowed. Already several educational colleges have come up along the highway.

The area around the Kharar-Tepla-Banur road has been marked as industrial. However, the agricultural zone has been marked as a buffer zone between the industrial and educational hubs. The Banur local planning area comprises 31 villages.



Tribune Impact
Mutation of disputed land halted
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 4
The district administration has stayed the process of entering the name of a claimant in the mutation record pertaining to a three-acre piece of land at Jhampur village adjoining Maloya village. The land had become a bone of contention between the panchayat and certain “outsiders”. The patwari concerned has been asked to stop the mutation process.

The case had been highlighted in these columns a few days ago and the panchayat had also complained to the DC.

In another complaint made by the panchayat to the SSP, Mohali, the latter has directed the EOW wing to file a report within 10 days.

While the panchayat members claim that the owner of the land had died issueless 50 years ago, those staking the claim have produced two death certificates issued by the Registrar, Birth and Deaths — one mentioning November 5, 1998, as the date of his death and the other mentioning August 8, 2008.

“All facts would be verified during the course of the investigation,” officials in the district administration stated.



Woman ends life, blames it on mother
Tribune News Service

Kharar, February 4
Kamalpreet Kaur (21) committed suicide in front of the Kharar police station by consuming some poisonous substance and has held her mother Jaspreet Kaur responsible for her death. A resident of Dasmesh Nagar, Kamalpreet had married her neighbour Amanjeet last year against the wishes of her parents. Since then, she had been trying to pacify her parents and sought their approval.

A few days ago, she asked her mother for some certificates, but she started abusing her daughter and refused to give the certificates.

Fed up with her mother’s obstinate attitude, Kamalpreet approached the police, but nothing came of it. Yesterday, she consumed poison near Khalsa School on the Kharar-Landran road and went to the police station. She was taken to the Civil Hospital at Kharar and later referred to the PGI.

In her statement to the Duty Magistrate at the PGI, she said her mother had compelled her to take this extreme step. 



HC notice to Bindra’s firm
Saurabh Malik/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Punjab & Haryana High Court was told today AS Bindra, managing director of Punjab Meats Ltd and father of ace shooter and India's first Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra, was unwell and one of the factors could be his son would not be able to participate in the Commonwealth championship.

After the appeal filed against the single judge’s order in the Punjab Meats case came up before the court, a bench comprising chief justice Mukul Mudgal and justice Jasbir Singh wanted to know from his counsel Ashwani Kumar Chopra how much more time Bindra would require to settle the payments.

In reply to the query, Chopra said AS Bindra had gone for undergoing a medical checkup. Upon being asked to elaborate, the counsel said one of the factors behind his indisposition could be his son not being able to participate in the Commonwealth Games to be held later this year.

The bench then issued notice of motion to Punjab Meats on the appeal filed by Asset Reconstruction Co India Ltd (ARCIL). In a major relief to Bindra, justice K Kannan had directed the company “will retain its possession without any imposition of terms”.

The firm was earlier directed to “pay Rs 28 crore as an interim measure to retain its possession”. So far, it has paid only about Rs 4 crore. In its petition, the company had earlier sought directions to ARCIL and other respondents to honour a one-time settlement. Directions were also sought for quashing the order dated December 23, 2009 passed by the Debt Recovery Appellate Tribunal.

The tribunal had earlier advised the parties to explore the possibilities of resolving the dispute and work out a scheme for repayment of loan. The tribunal, afforded to Asset Reconstruction Co India the liberty to “withdraw the amount” and directed the debt recovery tribunal to dispose of the case in accordance with law.

Taking up the matter, justice Kannan observed: “The grievance of the petitioner is that the appellate tribunal had literally chocked it out of its resources and was predetermining the issue by directing a large sum to be deposited to retain possession”.

Allowing the petition, Kannan stated: “The directions given by the appellate tribunal are set aside and the matter will now be taken up by the debt recovery tribunal”.



Srivastva to take over as IGP today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Pradeep Kumar Srivastva to take over as the IGP (Chandigarh police) here tomorrow. He would be replacing DGP SK Jain, who left for Delhi to join as the DGP there.

A 1986 batch IPS officer of AGMUT (Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and UT) cadre, Srivastva has served at various key posts in Delhi and Goa.

He was instrumental in cracking the match fixing case involving some South African and Indian cricketers, including Mohammed Azharuddin, Ajay Jadeja and Nayan Mongia. He also played a major role in the setting up of a modern police control room of the Delhi police in 1987. 


Traffic cops fail to discipline road users
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
Inculcating road sense and discipline among drivers, the lack of which is considered to be behind most incidents of road rage, does not appear to be on the list priorities of the city’s traffic police.

A perusal of the ‘drives’ conducted by the cops and the number of ‘challans’ (fines) issued for various violations over the years indicates the offences, which are directly linked to lack of traffic sense and often lead to road rage, are widely ignored.

“If someone isn’t wearing a helmet or uses a poor quality one, or hasn’t buckled up while driving, he is more likely to harm himself in case of a mishap. However, obnoxious practices like driving under the influence, changing lanes frequently - that too without giving proper indication and honking unnecessarily to overtake other vehicles definitely disturb other road users.

“A local court recently observed honking horns often triggered road rage, but the police is yet to take note of this”, said Harman Sidhu, a local road safety activist.

Data on ‘challans’ issued for various traffic violations in 2009 revealed the police had booked 28,489 two-wheeler riders for not wearing helmets while another 20,713 were booked for using non-ISI marked helmets, 11,710 motorists were booked for driving without fastening their seat belts, 14,523 for taking wrong turns or for driving on the wrong side and 28,975 for jumping a red light.

Contrary to this, 17 motorists were booked for using unauthorized red or blue beacons, 333 for drunken driving, 358 for using pressure or multitoned horns, playing high pitch music and driving without silencers and 115 minors were caught driving vehicles. In 2008 the traffic cops booked only 27 motorists for drunken driving.

The city’s traffic police appears to be focusing only on certain violations that largely affect individuals, while a range of infringements that in totality are more harmful are not being checked, feel road safety experts.

“Just drive down to any part of the city and you’ll come across motorists jostling to make way at rotaries, going to the other side of the road while overtaking vehicles and honking unnecessarily at traffic lights. Motorists who have to take a right turn are found on the left side of the road giving indicators and come in front of the traffic when the signal turns green. Interestingly, all this goes on under the nose of the traffic cops deployed at major road intersections to catch violators”, says Satnam Singh, a city resident.

Adding to this, a retired police officer, who remained posted in the traffic wing for years, said changing lanes without warning, not giving right of way, using pressure or multitoned horns, playing very loud music in vehicles and driving vehicles without silencers were never on the traffic cops’ priority list.

A police officer said the cops were educating drivers on discipline and safety and would begin taking punitive action against violators.



After 55 years, WW-II veteran gets pension
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
After struggling for 28 years, a veteran of World War-II has been finally awarded pension for the service he rendered over 55 years ago. Had it not been for miscalculation by the Army authorities, he might have got his pension years ago.

Allowing a petition filed by Harbans Singh, a resident of Kharar, the Chandigarh Bench of the Armed Forces Tribunal also directed that he should be paid three-year arrears, commencing from the date of filing of petition till now.

Harbans Singh had served with the Rashtriya Indian ASC from September 1940 to March 1946. He again enrolled onto the Army in August 1951 and was discharged in March 1955.

In 1982, the Central Government introduced a new policy under which break in service was to be condoned and the period was to be counted towards the qualifying period for fixing pension.

Soon after, he received a letter from ASC Records stating that he was eligible for pension and should apply for the same. He took up the matter with the authorities concerned, but in 1993, received a communiqué from the Directorate General Supplies and Transport that his service amounted to 14 years and two months.

The minimum qualifying period for pension is 15 years, but a shortfall of six months can be condoned under law. As per the letter, his service was short of over four months even after condoning the grace period.

Later perusal of records showed that the date of his service period was wrongly mentioned. His actual service period was over 14 years and six months, which made him eligible for pension.

As the matter lingered, he filed a writ petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1998. The matter was admitted and was later transferred to the tribunal for further consideration. 



Jawan gets interim bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Armed Forces Tribunal today granted interim bail to an Army nursing assistant, who was sentenced by a general court martial to two-year rigorous imprisonment and dismissal from service, on charges of malpractices during recruitment.

The Tribunal’s Chandigarh Bench directed that subject to the Army’s satisfaction, the petitioner shall furnish surety of Rs 25,000 and that he be released on bail till the pendency of the case.

Mam Chand, then posted with the Military Hospital in Jalandhar, had been tried on five charges under the Prevention of Corruption Act and for violation of good order and discipline under the Army Act. He was found guilty on three charges on December 22, 2009.



Clean-up drive by students at Rose Garden
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
As part of CBSE’s latest “Adopt your Heritage” initiative, around 200 students from GMSSS, Sector 28, adopted Rose Garden by lending a helping hand in cleaning it up and urging visitors to preserve its beauty.The students not only marched in garden carrying awareness placards but also picked up littered paper and dry leaves.

The act, though symbolic, was enough to put garden employees to shame, who apparently had not cared to clean the place, especially the areas surrounding fountains, for the past two to three days.

“It is good that the project has become an indispensable part of kids’ curriculum. Students from each school will visit a specific heritage spot once a month. The heritage places have one or two schools visiting every day. The kids shall sensitise people about the need to preserve our tourist points,” said DPI (S) Sunil Bhatia.

Though the spirit and initiative of the department and students was commendable, a proper layout plan was needed to execute CBSE’s project in a fruitful manner.

“According to the notice, we aim at making kids aware about the importance and need to preserve a particular building or spot. By adopting it, students will try to go there regularly and ensure that it is neither defaced nor further deteriorated. I am happy that schools are taking up the project enthusiastically, but for many its has just been reduced to a symbolic cleanliness drive or awareness rally. It is a sensitisation programme where children need to be urged to be practically innovative in improving things. They should be made to create public awareness and opinion rather than sweep places around,” said a senior CBSE official.



SSC introduces single combined exam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
In an endeavour to bring about major reforms in the procedure of recruitment, the Staff Selection Commission (SSC) will now hold a single combined graduate-level examination, which will substitute five earlier examinations — combined graduate-level examination, tax assistant examination, sub-inspectors in central police organisations examination, statistical investigator grade-II examination and compilers in RGI examination.

For the first time, the SSC will introduce online application for the examination with the facility of payment of application fee through the State Bank of India (SBI) either through challan or online payment. The closing date for accepting applications this year is March 2.

According to a press release issued by the SSC here today, the examination will be held on May 16 at nine centres in the north western region i.e. Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Jammu, Srinagar, Leh, Ambala, Bathinda, Shimla and Hamirpur.

The restructured examination is expected to benefit the government, candidates and user ministries/ departments by way of faster completion of recruitment cycle, quicker selection and early placement, the release added.

Each candidate applying for multiple posts will need to submit only a single application with one-time payment of examination fee, relieving them of the burden of submitting multiple applications with payment of fee with each application.

The entire recruitment cycle is proposed to be complete within a period of 11 to 12 months against almost two years at present.

All papers will have only objective type multiple choice questions, amenable to machine scanning and quicker and more objective evaluation.

The written examination will be conducted in two tiers — the first tier will be utilised for short-listing candidates for the second tier and will also have weightage in the final selection.

For any other details, candidates may refer to commission’s website http://www.ssc. nic.in



ICICI Bank penalised for deficiency in service
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed ICICI Bank to pay Rs 5,600 for deficiency in services to two senior citizens along with litigation costs of Rs1,100. The forum, headed by Jagroop Singh Mahal, delivered its verdict on a complaint filed by Harjit Sodhi, wife of HS Sodhi, who had stated in their complaint that they were holding two individual accounts with the bank, which were subsequently converted into a joint account.

The complainants said they had issued two cheques for Rs 789, duly signed by HS Sodhi drawn on their joint account duly. However, the bank sent them an SMS informing them both cheques had been rejected/dishonoured without giving any reasons. The matter was immediately taken up with the bank, which replied saying the cheques had been rejected by Axis Bank, as the signatures did not match and that SBI Credit Cards may have had a tie up with Axis Bank, whereas the cheques were of ICICI Bank. An official of the bank gave the excuse that the cheques were dishonored as the signatures did not match.

However, the bank later on admitted it had rejected the cheques by mistake but in spite of all, it did not get back the dishonoured cheques from Axis Bank nor did it make the payment to SBI Credit Cards by draft. In the meantime, SBI Credit Cards informed the complainants their names were included in the defaulter list of RBI (ICIBIL). It was also averred that in the next SBI Credit Card statement, Rs 300 each were debited from their accounts for the dishonored cheques. This was brought to the notice of the bank, which assured the amount would be reversed but this was not done.

The complainants, who assumed all needed measures would have been taken and specimen signatures must have been updated by the bank, issued a cheque for Rs 3,000 to be credited in their account with Central Bank of India but that too was again dishonoured due to the same signature problem. When the opposite party was told about this fact, it stated the specimen signatures had not yet been sent out.

It was stated the complainants used to pay all the bills either by credit card or through cheque and issued a cheque of Rs 9,171 towards electricity-cum-water bill wherein the amount in words was left out and it was deposited with eSampark Centre, Sector 10. For that mistake ICICI Bank straightway rejected the said cheque.

The complainants, fearing disconnection of electricity or water connection due to nonpayment of bills, had to deposit the amount in cash. It is mentioned that ICICI Bank could have contacted the complainants or informed them about the deficiency in the said cheque but they did not and instead rejected it, as a result of which the complainants had to suffer again.

The bank apologized for the mistake and admitted it was due to their fault and assured that it would not happen in future. It is also admitted the complainants were informed about their two cheques being dishonoured through SMS. It is stated the said cheques were dishonoured inadvertently due to bonafide mistake of not updating the signature of the joint holder. Immediately upon detection of the inadvertent mistake, in order to rectify the error, the payment was made by ICICI Bank through drafts to SBI Credit Cards and a written apology was also sent to the manager, SBI Credit Cards.



ICICI told to refund excess amount
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-I has directed the ICICI to overhaul the entire account of the complainants and charge interest at 11.25 per cent with effect from May, 2007, till the payment is made.

“They are directed to refund the excess amount received by them and refund Rs 28,958.42 recovered from the complainants as foreclosure charges. They will pay the aforesaid amount along with litigation charges of Rs 5,000 within 30 days of the receipt of the copy of this order, failing which it will be liable to pay penal interest at 12 per cent on the above amount with effect from August 9, 2008, till the amount is paid to the complainants,” the forum stated.

Manoj Kumar Teotia and his wife Ashu, residents of Baltana, had stated that they took a loan of Rs 13,00,000 from an ICICI agent after they saw advertisements on Internet and in newspapers. They mentioned that they took a loan against their house at Govind Vihar, Baltana, which was insured by the ICICI agent. The loan amount was revised to Rs 13,37,180 and the interest was agreed upon at 7.25 per cent in November, 2005, but the same was subsequently revised time and again arbitrarily.

Even the number of instalments was revised from 240 in November, 2005, to 386 in August, 2008, which affected the financial condition of the complainants. They finally decided to transfer the loan from the ICICI to the Indian Bank.

They were surprised when the ICICI asked them to deposit Rs 13,06,415 in spite of having paid Rs 3,90,493 in 30 instalments without a break. The ICICI had also arbitrarily charged foreclosure charges of Rs 28,958 which were never agreed upon.

In their written reply, the ICICI admitted the grant of loan to the complainants, but submitted that the insurance of the property was with another company. They said the rate as applicable was offered to the complainants, which was also accepted by them.

It was also submitted that the rate was dependent on the FRR and on account of change in FRR, the rate applicable to the complainant was also changed. They denied that any excess amount had been taken from the complainants.

It was pleaded that a special scheme offered at a particular time did not entitle the complainants to the benefits of the same. It was submitted that on account of change in rate of interest, it was necessary to change the payment period, without which the instalments payable would have exceeded the capacity of the complainants.

They claimed that the complainant had opted for adjustable rate of interest to be regulated as per schedule B of the agreement. As per schedule B (now marked as Annexure C-2) of the agreement, the interest was to be reset quarterly, based on the then prevailing FRR, and the borrower was to pay interest at the reset rate, as notified. It was mentioned that adjustable interest rate would be reset on the first day of the month following the quarter in which the FRR was changed.

The forum observed that the ICICI had not produced any evidence to suggest that the increase in rate of interest was notified to the complainant and unless the enhancement in rate of interest was notified to the complainant, the complainant would not be bound to pay the enhanced interest. The ICICI could not charge interest in excess of 11.25 per cent.

It also observed that the ICICI had demanded foreclosure charges of Rs 28,958.42 as 2.25 per cent interest on the outstanding principal amount from the complainants. “The demand of foreclosure charges is not justified and the complainants are not liable to pay the same,” the forum ruled.



Crackdown on tractor drivers soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Chandigarh traffic police will soon launch a special drive against tractor-trailer drivers violating traffic rules.

The police said it had been noticed that drivers and owners of tractors used their vehicles for commercial purposes instead of putting those to agricultural use.

A majority of tractors were being driven without proper documentation or without displaying registration numbers. Drivers often did not have driving licence and their vehicles were not insured.



Green Belt
GMADA, MC wash hands off upkeep
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, February 4
A peculiar situation has arisen from February 1 with GMADA claiming that the responsibility of maintaining green belts and triangles in various parts of the town has been shifted to the civic body and the latter expressing its inability to undertake maintenance work of the green areas before April 1.

According to sources, a meeting under the chairmanship of VP Singh, chief administrator, GMADA, was held on January 21 for handing over the maintenance work of green belts falling along the commercial sectors and triangles at entry points to the council.

The meeting was attended among others by Rajiv Moudgil, Jatinder Mohan, chief engineer and superintending engineer, respectively, of GMADA, Amna Kumar Goyal, executive officer of the civic body, and HS Dhaliwal, executive engineer, GMADA.

It was decided at the meeting that the maintenance work of green belts and triangles, which was earlier being done by GMADA, would be handed over to the council from February 1 on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis.

GMADA had done the work on an experiment basis and since advertisement rights in the municipal areas were with the civic body, the work of maintenance had to be done by the council. It was pointed out at the meeting that the maintenance work on a BOT basis was being done in a satisfactory manner and the executive officer of the council was asked to ensure that the quality of work did not suffer.

Sources said that Goyal asked GMADA officials to hand over documents related to agreement with private parties so that maintenance work could be carried on after getting an undertaking till the time tenders were floated once again.

It is learnt that on January 29 Dhaliwal wrote a letter to Goyal in which the names and telephone numbers of junior engineers of GMADA were mentioned. It was stated that four junior engineers who had the responsibility of the green areas in Sectors 59, 60, 63, 64, 52, 53, 61, 62 , 54, 55 and 56 could be contacted for taking over the maintenance work. Copies of the agreement with private parties executing work were also sent to the civic body.

Sources further said that when no response was received from the civic body office on February 1 regarding taking over of the maintenance work, another letter was sent to council officials yesterday to know why work was not being taken over in accordance with the decision taken at the meeting chaired by the chief administrator of GMADA.

However, when contacted council authorities told The Tribune that maintenance work would not be taken over till the proposal was cleared by the general house of the civic body. It was said that efforts were being made to persuade GMADA to carry on with the maintenance work till March 31.



Cancer awareness campaign

Chandigarh, February 4
The World Cancer Day was celebrated at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32 here today.

An awareness campaign and interactive session were organised for general public. The aim of the session was to raise awareness about the disease, which was curable and preventable if detected on time, said health officials of the GMCH-32. Health talks were delivered in gynaecology and medicine ward.

According to experts: “Around 80 to 90 per cent of cancers are curable in the early stages but because of lack of awareness, a majority of patients come in only in the last stages. In order to diagnose cancers in the early stage, people should be made aware of the facilities available for prevention and care.” 



Youth urged to shun drugs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
To highlight the growing problem of drug abuse among the youth, an NGO — We For Nation — organised an awareness programme on drug abuse at DAV College here today.

Amrit Sagar, joint general secretary of the RSS, Punjab along with Dr Arun Tandon, nodal officer for de-addiction and mental health, Punjab, were the keynote speakers.

Welcoming the guests, NGO president Lalit Sanger said the programme had been organised to educate the youth about the growing threat of drug abuse and the challenges faced by the country to overcome it.

Expressing concern over the alarming rise in drug abuse, Sagar said the growing indulgence of youth in it was posing a threat to the social system and had become a matter of concern for society.

He said by 2020, India would become the youngest nation in the world and the responsibility of leading lay in the hands of younger generation.

He called upon the youth to join hands for tackling the social evil by spending their time and knowledge and encouraged them to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi and Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

Dr Tandon said the problem of drug abuse had already afflicted 14 per cent of the youth in Amritsar and 16 per cent in Ludhiana.

The intensity of drug abuse in North-East has risen to 50 per cent and was rapidly spreading its wings in other parts of the country.

He suggested that parents should keep a vigil on their children’s activities, especially during the teen age and also urged the government to take stringent steps to tackle the problem.

Rakesh Raseela, a head constable in Chandigarh police, and Sudesh Sharma, a theatre personality, were honoured for their contribution in the field of drug awareness.



Bains skips forum’s dinner
UT term ended on Aug 31, but not repatriated
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
In an apparent bid to distance himself from the controversy raging over the formation of the Doctors Forum Sector 16 General Hospital in the midst of a virtual tug-of-war between the UT health authorities and the Punjab government over the issue of repatriation of doctors, Director Health Services Dr MS Bains did not turn up for the maiden dinner party hosted by the forum last night.

While Dr Bains was not available for comment, sources said he did not turn up despite having given written consent for his participation. “We had published cards only after his nod,” said a senior doctor, admitting that the no-show could be a fallout of the controversy over the timing of the formation of the forum.

The forum, ostensibly formed for better coordination among doctors, had come into existence at a time when the Punjab government and the UT health authorities were in a virtual tussle over the issue of repatriation of 100-odd doctors here on endless deputation. Under these circumstances, Dr Bains’ absence from the party was understandable as the issue of extension of his deputation continued to hang fire.

Dr Bains’ term in the UT ended on August 31 last, but he had not been repatriated despite the Punjab government having sent a panel of names of doctors for his replacement. The UT health authorities had sought extension for him, but the Punjab government had not given its nod. His file had been lying at the CM’s office.

It was reliably learnt that the UT health authorities had decided to accept five doctors from the panel of 25 names sent by the Punjab government. Sources said these doctors were Dr Karamjeet Singh (Amritsar), Dr PS Grewal, Dr Rajmeet Singh Dhillon (Patiala), Dr SP Kapoor (Bhatinda), Dr HS Sahni (Ludhiana).

It could not be confirmed if the UT health department would relieve any of the 11 doctors whose repatriation had been sought by the Punjab government. With pulls and pressures working from deputationists and the Punjab health department adamant on getting them back, the tussle was likely to continue for some more time, said observers.



PDS camp from today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
For the implementation of the smart-card-based public distribution system (PDS), a camp will be held from 8 am to 8 pm at Government Primary School of Lal Bahadur Shastri Colony at Palsora from February 5 to 7 for capturing the biometrics and photographs of all family members.

All ration card holders attached with M/S Garg Karyana Store and M/S Roop Narain Provision Store, depot holders of Palsora, have been requested to be present on the said dates at the venue.

The schedule for capturing the biometrics and family photographs for other fair price shops will be issued later. 



Fire safety goes for toss at expo
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The Chandigarh fire and emergency department does not seem to care about the fire-fighting arrangements made at exhibitions organised at various parts of the city.

The national handloom expo, recently organised at Sector 34, is one such example.

During a visit to the exhibition, it had been found that most fire extinguishers installed by the organisers did not bear labels mentioning the expiry and filling dates of cylinders. Even knobs of some fire extinguishers placed near stalls selling clothes at the exhibition were missing.

Under fire safety norms, exhibition organisers had to seek prior permission from the fire department and satisfy them that the fire-fighting arrangements made at the venue would be adequate.

While the fire department gave permission to the exhibition organisers, many fire extinguishers were found wanting in following the fire-safety specifications at the exhibition.

According to sources, none of the officials of the fire department had bothered to visit the venue to check if the arrangements made by the organisers in terms of fire safety were adequate.

Surprisingly, the mega-exhibition, having over 60 stalls, only had five sand buckets to fight any emergency situation, exposing the seriousness of the authorities in safeguarding the lives of people visiting the exhibition.

A stall owner from Madhya Pradesh said they had no clue about fire arrangements norms set by the fire department.

“If any mishap happened at the venue, fire extinguishers kept at the venue would do little to safeguard the lives of people and property at the exhibition,” he added. 



Liquor intake no basis to deny insurance claim: Bench
Sonika Bhatia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 4
The State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, Chandigarh, has held that consumption of liquor is not a disease and cannot be held as the reason to denying insurance claim by an insurance company.

Passing an order on the complaint of Bahadar Kaur, whose husband had died last year, the commission asked ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company to release a sum of Rs 1.2 lakh to the complainant as claim on the insurance policy of her husband along with 9 per cent interest from September, 2008.

The company had repudiated the insurance claim arguing that complainant’s husband Dilbagh Singh was a chronic alcoholic.

The company further argued that Dilbagh had consumed liquor on the Lohri night in January, 2008 before his death due to cardiac arrest, the following morning.

The company also contended that the deceased had concealed the “material fact” of his history of chronic alcoholism at the time of taking insurance.

The District Consumer Forum had earlier dismissed the complainant’s plea with observations that there was concealment of material fact by Dilbagh. The complainant then filed an appeal with the commission.

Setting aside the order of the forum, the commission held that taking alcohol was not a material fact, the suppression of which could entitle the insurance company to repudiate the claim.

“In our view, the reason of repudiation is unjust and unrealistic as taking of liquor is not a disease,” the commission held.

The commission bench consisted of Maj Gen SP Kapoor (retd) and Neena Sandhu.



Should PU be granted Central status?

Long overdue

Central status to Panjab University (PU) is long overdue. While all other universities are either Central or state universities, the PU has a unique character of being an inter-state corporate, given the circumstances under which it had been set up.

Given its unique character, the university faces a resource crunch, with the current Budget deficit pegged at over Rs 100 crore. This has been seriously affecting even its routine functioning. With the Punjab government also defaulting on its stipulated share of Rs 40 crore and paying only Rs 12 crore per annum, infrastructure and research and development has been at the receiving end.

In the backdrop of the resource crunch, the university has been forced to introduce self-financing courses, which ultimately burden students and push education beyond the reach of the common man.

Besides this, the university fails to attract the best talent from other universities as retirement age is 60 years, as compared to 65 years at other Central universities. Talented faculty from PU leaves for greener pastures at other Central universities.

Though Central status for the PU is a purely academic issue, it has unnecessarily been politicised by vested interests. Apprehensions that Central status will dilute Punjab’s claim on the PU are misplaced and unfounded. Punjab should be happy that it will get a healthy university whenever Chandigarh is transferred to it than a sick university. Punjab, which is set to have Central universities at Bathinda and Amritsar, has no right to deny Central status for the PU as the pioneer university belongs to the whole of country.

Instead of working at cross-purposes, all stakeholders should sit together and evolve a consensus on Central status. Concerns of a section of non-teaching employees that they will stand to lose if they shift from Punjab pay scales to Central pay scales should be taken care of to avoid any clash of interests in the future. In fact, Central status will go a long way in restoring the lost prestige of the educational institution.

Ashok Goyal is PU senator and syndic

Not desirable

The grant of Central status to the PU is not a panacea for all its ills. In fact, those who think that Central status will solve all its problems are living in a fool’s paradise. Neither needed nor desirable, it will open a Pandora’s box, given Punjab government’s opposition to the proposal.

What we need to do is to tone up the working of teaching and non-teaching departments of the university to put it among top-ranking universities of the world. For that, we need commitment and dedication both from the faculty and non-faculty staff in particular and patronage and support from the government and society in general.

Having an illustrious past, the university has among its alumni distinguished personalities like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Nobel laureate Hargobind Khorana. The uncertain present can be taken care of by better planning and Central status is not a prerequisite for a bright future.

With the implementation of revised UGC pay scales for the teaching and non-teaching staff, the employees’ major financial demands have been met. With the Prime Minister, during his recent visit to the PU, promising all possible support, the demand for Central status does not carry much weight.

The special grant of Rs 50 crore for the university in last year’s Union Budget has to be seen in the backdrop of the fact that it is high on the Centre’s agenda. While monetary and other fringe benefits of Central status may not be much, we may earn the avoidable wrath of the Punjab government.

After all, the university had primarily been set up for the Punjabis uprooted during Partition. Punjab’s claim on it cannot be wished away. The Centre will think twice before granting Central status, given Punjab’s opposition.

What we need is a serious introspection by all stakeholders, the authorities, students and staff. We will have to stem the rot so that the institution regains its lost glory, without caring about Central status. Let 2010 be the year of PU’s regeneration.

Manmohan Garg is CEO of Gurukul Vidyapeeth



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