C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Never mind flaws, Mayor okays projects
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Despite technical flaws in most of the agendas on development projects tabled in the municipal corporation’s house meeting today, councillors requested mayor Anu Chatrath to approve them nevertheless.

The meet began with the issue of the rough cost estimate of Rs 42.41 lakh for a project for laying a 25 mm thick black coat of bitumen in the parking area of the V4 road in Sector 35 C and D.

Congress councillor Chander Mukhi Sharma asked, “How can the proposal for funds be tabled in the house now when this project is planned for the next fiscal and the next year’s budget is yet to be approved? He also pointed out faults in the project details submitted by the department chief engineer. However, the house unanimously asked the mayor to approve the project as it was a developmental one.

On the other hand, the house deferred the agenda of installation of an LPG run furnace at the Sector 25 cremation ground even though a nominated councilor, AP Sanwaria, requested such projects should be encouraged as they would “contribute to saving the environment with less trees being cut”.

However, the mayor set up a three-member committee to carry out a detailed study of this proposed project and review the existing infrastructure and civic amenities provided at all cremation grounds of the city.

On another agenda relating to construction of a stainless steel bus shelter at the Manimajra bus stand, costing Rs 72.62 lakh, Pardeep Chhabra proposed the authorities should allot this work on BOT basis which would generate revenue for the civic body.

Initially the mayor deferred the agenda and directed officials to work on it but later, on the request of other councilors, she approved it saying the project would be otherwise delayed.

When the agenda of the rough cost estimate of widening and strengthening of internal roads in Phase II of the Industrial Area was tabled, the councillor raised the matter and asked, “When the MC is not receiving any grant from the administration why is it taking up this project?” To which MC commissioner Roshan Sunkaria told the house the civic body would get the funds from the administration and the mayor should approve the project.

Similarly, when the proposal of rough cost estimate of construction of a community centre in Sector 48 was tabled in the house, nominated councillor Pallav Mukherjee objected, asking, “Why does the corporation always allot the work to one architect, Vichatra Singh, and one company when their results are very poor?” The mayor nevertheless approved the agenda as no instructions had been issued in this regard to the architect.

Other agendas approved by the house include fixation of reserve price of booths of a fish and meat market, rough cost estimate for widening and carpeting V-6 roads in Sectors 31, 35, 43 A and B and 47 A and B, construction of a pavement in the motor market in Manimajra and provision of an additional sewerage line from the V3 roads in Sector 55 and 56.



Boston Fiasco
SOPU leader not PU student, yet part of team
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
SOPU leader Brinder Dhillon’s Harvard visit has kicked off a row in Panjab University. The PU authorities today issued a clarification stating that Dhillon was not a student of the university, but Dhillon, who is at present on bail, sought the permission of the court to visit the US, claiming that he was a sixth semester student of the PU.

On the basis of a letter from the Harvard National Model United Nations, dispatched on December 18 (a copy is in the possession of The Tribune), he sought permission from the district court that he be allowed to go as he was a student of the PU department of laws, his lawyer Amarjit Singh Sukheja informed.

A “blue-eyed boy” of the university, Dhillon has been causing trouble for it in the recent past.

“A student who did not seek admission in the current academic session is not our student,” Prof PS Jaswal, chairperson of the department, stated.

Despite being an “outsider”, he has been addressing press conferences on the campus and had even locked the departments in the PU when clerks refused to accept the fee of students recently.

Earlier, in gross violation of norms, he was given admission by the VC when the session was nearly over. “He never appeared in the interview in the law department at the time of admission. A case was registered under Section 307, IPC, against him, yet he was given admission when the session ended and all lectures were over after the intervention of the VC. We had filed a PIL in the High Court that a student of criminal background should not be given admission. Dhillon had even threatened the law board of the department,” advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal claimed.

Today, during a press conference at the Vice-Chancellor’s office, mediapersons raised the issue of Dhillon’s presence on the campus.

Later in the evening, PUSU held a press conference at the student centre. “Will the PU authorities wake up when SOPU leaders will do something gruesome on the campus? We will launch a massive protest if the authorities do not take strict action against him and the council,” Simranjit Dhillon, campus president, PUSU, stated.

Meanwhile, the university has decided to formulate guidelines which include an undertaking to be given by students and parents for such events.

PU clarifies

The PU authorities clarified the UILS had selected 23 delegates, out of which 21 went for the conference officially. There was no other delegation of students selected either by the UILS or the department of laws.

They also said the departments and the DSW office did not sponsor any other delegation of students to this event this year and Nitin Jindal was not on the list. On Brinder Dhillon’s visit, the PU said Dhillon was not a student of the law department at present. No bona fide student’s certificate had been issued to any “outsider”.



Raid on KC Group
Income worth Rs 40 cr detected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The raids conducted by the income tax department on the premises of the KC group yesterday has led to the recovery of incriminating documents indicating unaccounted transaction to the tune of Rs 35-40 crore. Cash and jewellery worth Rs 36 lakh were also seized today.

The director of income tax (investigation), Pawan Parmar Singh, said they detected unaccounted cash payment of Rs 14 crore in property transaction and certain “accommodation entries for bogus share capital”.

Besides, Rs 28 lakh cash and jewellery worth Rs 8 lakh had been seized. The investigation conducted so far indicated that the group was taking “donations” in lieu of admission to engineering and hotel management colleges run by it. The raid involving around 100 officers and subordinate staff conducted the searches. The raid began around 10 am yesterday and continued till this afternoon.



Cops fail to curb youth drunk driving
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Drunken brats, who often happen to be spoilt children of the rich and powerful, continue to defy the city police in the absence of any sustained campaign against youngsters driving recklessly under the influence. The impression that cops have failed to counter the menace effectively is borne by the fact that last year the cops caught at least one motorist every day for drunken driving.

Since January 1, 2009 the police has arrested about 125 people, including women, from a couple of places in Sector 22 alone. These include Aroma Hotel, one of the most popular late night hangouts for young people. Most of those apprehended included students staying in paying guest accommodation who are regular visitors to discotheques and bars.

Till date 14 persons have lost their lives in road accidents in the city this year, while 171 fatal road mishaps were reported in 2009.

Last year the city’s traffic cops caught only 333 people driving under the influence of liquor. After coming under fire from the media for its failure to curb drunken driving in 2008, when the police booked only 27 tipsy drivers during the entire year, the traffic police began setting up late night pickets to check the menace.

After an increasing number of cases of lawlessness in Sector 22 a PCR vehicle was deployed there.

However, the incidents continued unabated for a few months.

One can see youngsters recklessly driving motorcycles and cars not only in Sector 22, but also in Sector 16, the ‘night food street’ outside the PU campus and at the Sector 17 ISBT, not caring two hoots for the men in khaki. The city had witnessed several freak fatal road accidents, in which youngsters who had come to the city for studies have lost their lives due to drunken and rash driving. On Wednesday night a Darua resident, reportedly in an inebriated condition, rammed his car into a rotary at the Sectors 18,19, 20 and 21 intersection. The car, carrying two other people, was completely damaged in the mishap.

“These youths frequent late night hangouts on Wednesday and Saturday nights after the discotheques are closed. They are often caught drinking in cars or creating a ruckus near these places. We have adopted a zero tolerance policy against such rowdy elements and book them under the Excise Act”, said Jaspal Singh Bhullar, in charge of the Sector 22 police post. “If the police has arrested over 125 people from a single place in a year, one can well imagine the size of the problem, which is worsening by the day. The police should deal with such drunken and reckless brats, who not only endanger the lives of other road users but also engage in late night brawls, with a heavy hand”, said Pritam Singh, a resident of Sector 22.



PG diploma in statistics goes online
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Panjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti today launched an online project of the University School of Open Learning (USOL) titled ‘Go Global, Go Online’ and as a part of the project, postgraduate diploma in statistics will be made available online from the next academic session.

The launch was preceded by inauguration of the national seminar on “Experiments and innovations in distance education and open learning in the globalised era” organised by USOL by the Vice-Chancellor. Speaking on the occasion, Sobti dwelt on the need of having open learning system to raise the gross enrolment ratio in higher education to 15 per cent by the end of 11th plan. He emphasised upon ensuring access, quality and inclusion in the process.

Prof Parvin K Sinclair, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, IGNOU, indicated towards individual differences among the learners’ need and pleaded for responding to their requirements through appropriate media. She also called for experimenting with the idea of accreditation and certification of prior learning of artisans and the workers trained in traditional vocations having the skill but not the certification.


MC okays Rs 690.8-cr budget
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The house meeting of the Chandigarh municipal corporation approved the budget of Rs 690.8 crore for the financial year 2010-11.

The approved budget under plan head was of Rs 409.35 crore and under non-plan head Rs 281.45 crore.

The corporation budget with opening balance of over Rs 530.62 crore was a no profit-no loss budget without any new taxes imposed on city residents.

As compared to last year, the corporation expected a decrease in their revenue generation from various sources.

After tabling the budget in the house, Mayor Anu Chatrath announced to increase the budget in following heads: villages, colonies, Dadu Majra theme park, construction of community centres, martyrs’ pillar and global positioning system (GPS) system.

In the current year, the corporation earned a revenue of Rs 167.05 crore, whereas in the next financial year the revenue was expected to go down to Rs 155.76 crore.

Some councillors commented in the lighter tone that after going through the budget papers of the next financial year, it seemed that the officials had worked hard to increase the expenditure and decrease the revenue generation.

They found it strange that for the past three consecutive years, the opening balance of the MC budget was almost the same.

Even though the sites of commercial property had increased in the city, the corporation expected to earn a revenue of Rs 15 crore from it like in the previous year.

Similarly, there was no change in the revenue expected from the water tariff, which was Rs 49.2 crore last year and there was an increase of only Rs 1 lakh in sewerage tax, which was expected to be Rs 2.5 crore.

In the current year, the corporation’s total income was Rs 376 crore and the expenditure was Rs 590.3 crore, whereas in the next financial year the expected income was of Rs 417.51 crore and expenditure was expected to be Rs 670.2 crore.

These figures suggested that the corporation would be more dependent on the grant-in-aid from the Chandigarh administration and Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNRUM).

According to budget experts, it was far from a healthy budget for the city, as nothing had been mentioned to increase the revenue of the corporation.

They said the Chandigarh administration had not contributed much to the kitty of the corporation for the past two years and the practice was likely to follow in future as well.

The experts added for the past two years, a matching grant of Rs 9 crore had not been released to the corporation and even the funds under plan head were awaited when the current year was almost over.



Another Rs 50 lakh for sensory park
Horticulture dept draws flak for overlooking suggestions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Lack of coordination between the horticulture department and recommendations made by the councillors after their foreign jaunt on the setting up of sensory park for the blind has made the Chandigarh municipal corporation poorer by Rs 10 lakh, as it has been forced to allocate another Rs 50 lakh in the budget of 2010-11 to redevelop this park.

In December, 2008, the foundation stone of this park was laid for which a budget of Rs 10 lakh was allocated.

MC’s horticulture department developed the park and UT Home Secretary inaugurated it last year.

During today’s budget discussion, nominated councillor Dr AP Sanwaria pointed out that the sensory park had not been developed by the horticulture department as proposed by the councillors after their visit to Bangkok, where a similar park had been developed by the Thai government.

Sanwaria stated that the existing plantation and infrastructure of the special park developed for blind children had nothing unique, but was similar to other parks of the city.

Referring to the proposal made by the councillors over the park, he said according to the plan the department should have planted aromatic plants to provide a sense of touch, taste and sound for the benefit of the visually impaired.

These included jasmine, lavlena, raat ki raani, albertine, mint, neem, tulsi and pudina, lamb’s ears, strawberry tree, bamboo, poppy, grape plant, chives and quince.

Even the proposal on the bird’s corner, where the blind children could have been acquainted with the shape of artificial birds and their sounds to know about their species, had not been adhered to by the department.

The existing park is totally different from what had been conceived and proposed.

Congress councillor Pardeep Chhabra stated that it was strange that the officials of the department did not even bother to consult the councillors while developing the park.

He stated that the MC authorities took great pains at getting the piece of land near the blind school for the project.

However, rather than developing it into a unique sensory park, which would have been one of its kinds in the country, the corporation had ended up with constructing a simple green belt.

At this, Mayor Anu Chatrath made an additional allocation of Rs 50 lakh for the project, so that it could be developed as per the proposals of the councillors.



Residents’ body for integrated development plan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
A delegation of the Federation of Sector Welfare Association (FOSWAC) led by its chairman PC Sanghi met Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Shivraj Patil here today.

The delegation stressed the need for preparing an integrated comprehensive development master plan for Chandigarh and its adjoining areas on the pattern of National Capital Region (NCR).

The delegation brought to the notice of the Administrator that the concept of participatory democracy had been lacking in the city. They stressed the need for implementing a programme of partnership between the administration and citizens through the residents welfare associations, market associations, industrial associations and NGOs on the pattern of Delhi’s “Bhagidari”.

The menace of mushrooming of unauthorised paying guest houses in residential buildings in violation of the guidelines was also brought to the Administrator’s notice.

There was an urgent need to upgrade the infrastructure and civic amenities like roads, drainage system, streetlights, parkings, markets, bus queue shelters, primary health centres, community centres and setting up of a club in southern sectors, they added.

An affordable housing scheme for lower and middle class, maintenance of service lanes, green belts, community centres tackling the menace of stray dogs and of dumping of malba were other issued highlighted during the meeting.



Windy conditions to persist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Even as the day’s temperature rose by around 1.2 ° Celsius and cold weather persisted early in the morning, the city witnessed a windy day in the afternoon, neutralising the warmth of the sun.

The meteorological department stated that there would be further improvement in the day’s temperature in the next 24 to 48 hours but the cold winds would continue.

The minimum temperature was 8.2 °C today and the maximum rose marginally to 23.0 °C, as against 21.8 °C recorded yesterday.

According to a report, Paschim Express (2925) was behind schedule by one hour. The Delhi-Chandigarh, Srinagar-Chandigarh and Mumbai-Chandigarh to and fro flights operated normally.

“Most places in the region showed an increase in the minimum temperature level, varying between 3 to 4 °C,” a met official said, attributing it to the strong western winds sweeping the neighbouring states. The wind speed was 30 to 35 km per hour.

“Windy conditions are likely to prevail in the next 24 hours but clear sky may allow the day’s temperature to rise a bit,” the met official said, adding that the minimum temperature was not likely to dip further.

Maximum temperature on Saturday would be around 23 °C and the minimum on Sunday around 8 °C.

The weatherman predicted that in view of approaching weak western disturbances, partly cloudy days would be seen in Haryana and Punjab in the next two days.



‘Chandikrit’ kicks off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
“Chandikrit-2010”, an industrial and business exhibition, was inaugurated by Adviser to UT Administrator Pradip Mehra at the Parade Ground, Sector 17, today.

The exhibition is being organised by the department of industries and will remain open till February 23.

Lauding the efforts put in by the department in organising the exhibition, the Adviser averred that the products showcased in the exhibition had shown a marked improvement in terms of quality.

“Such exhibitions should be encouraged as they provide a window for displaying products and easy access to people in terms of a central location,” added Mehra.

Around 150 stalls have been set up at the exhibition, showcasing handicraft, laptop accessories, home appliances, artifacts, fitness equipment, honey, decoration material, suits, woollen clothes, healthcare products, automobiles and its accessories, embroidery, handmade lamps, furniture made of cane, spices, electronic goods, bathroom fittings and jewellery, etc.

The main attraction of the fair is a souvenir shop of the Le Corbusier Centre and an auto expo.

The exhibition showcases industrial products manufactured by local industries with an objective of promoting them and creating awareness about these products among people.

Colourful shows would be organised everyday to attract visitors, which include Bollywood Nite by Javed Ali, laughter show by Sudesh Lehari, Rajiv Thakur and Raja Rancho, fire and western dance, karaoke open song competition and “Barsane ki Holi”.



Beopar mandal meets Guv
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
A delegation of the Chandigarh Beopar Mandal (CBM) called on Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Shivraj Patil here today.

The delegation demanded making the deemed assessment hassle-free and exemption of VAT on food grains. Besides, it demanded the beautification and upgrade of the markets.

Permission of sale on upper floors of commercial buildings, conversion of SCFs to SCOs and construction of box-type buildings and additional floors on single storey bay shops and booths were also demanded. Increase in the foodgrain stock limits on Punjab pattern, representation of traders in various government bodies and doing away with the leasehold system of the auction of commercial property were the other demands.



Missing Realtor Case
Police seeks narco test of family, accused
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 19
The mystery over missing realtor Deepak Rai Sagar seemed to have become trickier as after the investigations of more than eight months the district police has sought the narco test of the family members of the victim as well as three suspects in the case.

However, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the police to file an affidavit in the court explaining the reason behind the requirement of the narco test.

It was only yesterday when Panchkula superintendent of police Maneesh Chaudhary had appeared before the court of Justice Daya Chaudhary to inform the court about the progress in the investigations regarding the missing realtor.

The SP informed the court that the police could not get any breakthrough in the case since Sagar had been missing since June 1 last year and they required custodial interrogation of the three accused.

The accused -- Brijesh Kapoor, Rajesh Thapar and Viney Kumar -- on the other hand, said they were ready to cooperate with the police in investigation and had no objection to their narco test as was sought by the police earlier.

They contended that for the narco test there was no need of custodial interrogation. The accused said they were ready for such test only if the family of Sagar also undergoes the same test as they had the apprehension that the complainant family had personal motive in naming them as suspects in the case.

Following this, Sameer Sagar, son of the missing realtor present in the court, offered himself for going through the narco test.

The court when asked the SP about the findings of the investigation he told the court that though it was unusual to seek the narco test of the complainant, the police felt that the behaviour of the family of the complainant during the last few months also left some impression that they should also be questioned.

Following the arguments the court had asked the police to file an affidavit citing the reason due to which it required the narco test of the complainants as well as the accused within one week. Now, the case would come up for hearing on March 2.



Haryana doctors end agitation
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 19
The Haryana Civil Medical Service Association has decided to withdraw the ongoing stir for its demands following a meeting with the health minister here today.

Association president Dr Kamla Singh said the minister had assured of accepting the demands before Holi and after this there was no question of continuing with the agitation.

The agitation started following a general body meeting of the association on February 14 against the decision of lowering the entry-level pay scales of the HCMS doctors and working of the director general of health services office by wearing black badges on working days.

While association members sported black badges on February 15, 16 and 17 followed by submitting a memorandum in each and every district to the Chief Minister, it was today that the state executive body sat in front of the DGHS office on hunger strike.

The association alleged that in neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, and Delhi doctors were getting Rs 15,600 + Rs 5,400 as their entry-level pay scale whereas in Haryana their counterparts were currently being paid Rs 12,090 + 5,400.

In addition to lowering of entry pay scale other demands like benefit of bunching and the NPA for all purposes were not being accepted, alleged the association.

Health minister Geeta Bhukkal listened to the grievances of the doctors and had assured of sorting out the problems before Holi, falling on March 1, said Dr Kamla Singh.



Out of waste solution
A Correspondent

Chandigarh, February 19
“Convert waste into wealth” was the message of the seminar on “Solid Waste Management” organised by Institution of Engineers.

The experts told that India produces 7.2 million tones of hazardous waste annually. This means additional one sq km of land is needed as landfill every year, which needs Rs 16,000 crore for treatment. Population of Mumbai has grown 33 per cent in 10 years. Where as solid waste for the city grew at 67 per cent, which shows the gravity of the problem and the need to mobilise efforts for effective solid waste management, the experts added.

Dr (Er) NS Tiwana, former executive director of the Punjab State Council for Science & Technology, said: “The problem is that all waste is not collected and 94 per cent of what is collected is dumped.”

“One must know how to minimise wastage, try and re-use products like bags etc to the extent it is possible and dispose materials through segregation so that recycling is easier,” said Balkar Singh, senior manager, Punjab Energy and Development Agency (PEDA).

Pulkit Jain, student of Chitkara Institue of Engenieering said: “All this causes several problems. This led to a cloud burst in 2005 due to clogged sewerages. Also there is reduction in the number of migratory birds due to consumption of contaminated food. And the number of animals dying due to consumption of plastics is on the rise.”

Er Balkar offered some practical solutions to manage the problem. He said: “Buy durable products which use less packaging material and go for reusable items. Always carry a cloth bag when shopping and remember that one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure. So give away things to people rather than dumping.”

There is an increase in pressure on existing disposal sites and there is not adequate infrastructure for handling the increased amount of waste. The pressure has increased with the coming of e-waste.



CHB to float scheme in Sec 51
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The Chandigarh Housing Board is set to float a housing scheme in Sector 51 here. The scheme was approved at the board meeting today.

According to sources, around 300 houses would be constructed under the scheme, which would include LIG, MIG and EWS houses.

It was brought to the notice of officials that the site was recently cleared of encroachments. The construction of EWS houses is already in progress in Sector 26 and is nearing completion. It was decided that the scheme would be launched after the completion of the project. It was also decided that two more housing schemes, one in Sector 52 and another in Sector 53, would soon be floated. Applicants of the Sector 63 housing scheme also have something to cheer about as tenders pertaining to the scheme were cleared and approved at the meeting.



Stress on updating medical professionals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
The International Pathology Update 2010 was organised by the department of histopathology, in association with the World Association of Societies of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine (WASPaLM) at the PGI here today.

It was inaugurated by Lieut-Gen JR Bharadwaj, member, National Disaster Management Committee.

In his inaugural address, he emphasised the importance of continuing medical education activities to keep medical professionals updated amidst advances being made on a daily basis.

He stressed the judicial use of ancillary techniques like EM, immunohistochemistry, in-situ hybridisation, molecular and genetic studies to achieve the set goals of the best possible diagnosis.

Accurate histopathology was also important in research and further scientific advances in various medical and surgical specialties.

In the modern era, departments needed to be well equipped, as much as pathologists needed to be equipped with knowledge and skills, he added.

PGI director Prof KK Talwar welcomed the international and national faculty and highlighted the practice of autopsy in the department of histopathology of the institute, which was unique and best in the world.

This was followed by presentations by Prof Seth Love, who provided update on Alzheimer’s disease.

Prof AK Banerjee, a neuropathologist from the PGIMER, emphasised the need for devising methods to predict Alzheimer’s disease, believing that prevention was better than cure.

Prof Hasleton talked about pathology of pulmonary hypertension and discussed some of the newer and rarer causes of pulmonary hypertension.

Prof Flanagan stressed on looking for minute morphological details for differentiating and sub-typing different soft tissue tumours for proper patient management.

Deliberations on first day of international pathology update focussed on updates on neuropathology, pulmonary pathology, pathology of soft tissue tumors and endocrine pathology.



Rail Budget
Freight on food may be spared
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
With one eye on inflation and the other on reviving the economy, the railways is likely to announce an increase in freight rates for commodities other than food grain, fruits and vegetables for the railway budget 2010-11.

Key items on which freight charges may be increased are automobiles, iron ore and cement.

Last year, railway minister Mamata Banerjee had desisted from raising freight rates, as profits of domestic companies were either stagnant or negative.

“It cannot afford to do the same this year, as it requires funds to finance passenger services,” an official said.

The railways earns more than half of its income from freight and most of it is used in improving passenger services.

In her recent statement, the minister has already ruled out an increase in passenger fares in this budget, while presenting a white paper on Indian Railways and ‘Vision 2020’ documents in Parliament in December.

The railways’ inability to achieve the freight earnings target up to January may have also contributed to her decision to hike freight charges for non-food goods, as the freight earnings fell 2.26 per cent short of the budget proposal.

The railways earned Rs 47,763.29 crore from April, 2009 to January, 2010, against the budget target of 48,868.76 crore, according to figures released recently.

In terms of loading, for which data is available only up to December 2009, it surpassed the target by 1.93 per cent.

The rail ministry has kept food grain, fruits and vegetables out of the list of items on which transport charges may be raised, considering the runaway prices of essential items.

Food inflation rose to 17.56 per cent against 17.4 per cent up to January, according to the latest government data.



Demolition Drive
Traffic police office razed
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, February 19
The Zirakpur MC has started demolition drive against illegal encroachment on the old Kalka road here today.

According to an MC official, the council had given 15 days notice to encroachers for removing the encroachments on their own. The official said the drive had started with demolition of traffic police office that was a building of the municipal council at the site. MC official said the drive would continue to remove encroachments on Monday.



UGC grant for GCG-42 projects
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Government College for Girls, Sector 42, has been sanctioned six research projects by the University Grants Commission, New Delhi, under the Research Project Scheme of XIth plan.

Dr Dalip Kumar, coordinator of the UGC Resource Cell, said the UGC had sanctioned maximum number of research projects to GCG-42 as far as city colleges were concerned under the XI Plan Scheme for 2009-2010.

Dr Amandeep Kaur of the commerce department got sanction of Rs two lakh and 49,000 under the Major Project Scheme on project entitled “Core Banking Solutions and Customer Satisfaction - Challenges to Future Banking”. Dr Deepika Kansal of chemistry department got sanction of Rs 78,000 for project entitled “Energy Audit a Pilot Study to reduce carbon dioxide” and other “greenhouse gas emissions”.

Dr Ranjay Vardhan of sociology department got sanction of Rs 75,000 under the Minor Project Scheme. Dr Gurmail Singh of Punjabi department got project entitled “Globalisation and the relevance of Indian Languages” while from Hindi department Dr Narinder Kaur got an approval of Rs 77,000 thousand for project “Bhumandlikaran Aur Hindi Bhasha”. Dr Amandeep got Rs 95,000 for project on banking. Principal Mani Bedi exhorted the efforts of the college resource cell and complemented the faculty members.



Schools yet to make a start on sex education
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Schools in the city have still to begin imparting sex education even though in 2002 the Central Board of Secondary Education declared it to be a mandatory part of the curriculum and has issuing repeated directives to schools. The UT administration, which declares every year before a new academic session commences that the CBSE directive would be implemented has failed on this front.

“The major reason why we aren't able to start is the lack of proper policy or planning. When we ask schools to counsel students on sex they ask us how to go about it. We have to set up a proper panel, sort out various issues and then guide schools,” said a senior education department official.

The CBSE had asked all schools to go by the 5 information booklets published by NCERT and had also collaborated with SCERT and other training institutes to train teachers in the subject.

Following this former DPI (S) SK Setia had asked schools to set apart one period in a week to the subject and talked about training teachers at SIE, but all this proved to be a nonstarter. A fund worth lakhs of rupees was also earmarked for publications on the subject concerned. However, the department has yet to clarify the fate of this fund.

Meanwhile both government and private schools in the city continue to cite their own reasons for not being able to start sex education courses.

“We do go in for separate counselling for postpubertal boys and girls by city doctors, but introducing the subject in our co-ed classes is a big problem. First of all we need set guidelines to make progress in the matter. And, given to the fact that our staff members have inhibitions, we may even require special teachers for the subject,” said a city principal.

“Ours is a government school. The kids are not receptive enough and the staff members are not comfortable with the subject. You are talking about regular sex education - most of the times we chose to skip explaining chapters on reproduction,” said the principal of a government school.

The situation is quite perturbing given the fact that various independent surveys quote lack of sexual awareness and proper guidance a major reason of teenage pregnancies and venereal diseases.



PU Notes
Orientation programme for teachers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Prof Abhai Maurya, Vice-Chancellor, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad, inaugurated a four-week orientation programme for college and university teachers conducted by the Academic Staff College on Panjab University Campus here today.

In his keynote address on access and expansion of educational opportunities in India with reference to higher education, he touched on several significant issues and causes of lack of inclusiveness due to disparities such as rural-urban, gender, inter-religious, inter-class, inter-state, regional, and age disparities.

He presented a critique of the National Knowledge Commission and Yashpal Committee and concluded that if higher education remained exclusive rather than inclusive it would lead to economic and education backwardness.

Prof BS Dahiya, former Vice-Chancellor, Kurukshetra University spoke on higher education. Prof Shelley Walia, director, Academic Staff College, emphasised on “Cutting across barriers: inter and multidisciplinary teaching and learning”. Dr Jayanti Dutta, deputy director, Academic Staff College, will be coordinating the programme. As many as 43 college and university lecturers from different disciplines will participate.

Series of lectures

A press conference was organised by the department of life long learning and extension, PU, here today at the Vice Chancellor’s office.

The department had planned a series of ten lectures from February 2-18 by Dr Sehdev Kumar, Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, Canada. The theme was “Bioethics, Law & Culture Values: Unfolding of the Human Civilisation.”

These lectures were delivered in different departments and colleges of Panjab University. One lecture on “Science and Ethics” was presented at the Punjab Science Congress and the other, “6.5 Billion Degrees of Freedom, and Road not taken” was presented at International conference on human rights.

Recent examples of the public outburst over Bt brinjal or Bt cotton, and over genetically-modified foods all over the world shows a strong apprehension in the mind of the public about the legitimacy of large-scale changes in living nature, and what their impact might be on a long term basis.

The lectures discussed these topics and several others, including power and impact of multi-national pharmaceutical companies on defining, and sometimes creating diseases - physical and mental - for the sake of profits and monopolies, and influencing scientific research and results.

Prof Kumar insists on exploring the impact of science and technology on social ethics and human values.



Job fair at Desh Bhagat colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Desh Bhagat Group of Institutes today organised a two-day job fair on the college campus at Mandi Gobindgarh.

It was in pursuance with the placement drive being carried out by the group.

Over 20 MNCs, including Reliance Communication, Sigma Vibracoistic India, Red Alkemi, Sigma Freudenberg Nok, Bharti AXA, New Swan Enterprises, Reliance Capital Service, Café Coffee Day, ATS infrastructure, Altruist India Central Tool, India mart Intermech, Highway Industries, Meera & Co, Federal Mogul Bearing India, etc conducted the interviews.



PU rose fest from March 5
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 19
Panjab University is all set to organise the university’s 2nd Rose Festival from March 5 to 7.

The horticulture department under the supervision of SDO (horticulture) Er Anil Thakur will exhibit additional 25 varieties of roses.

The Vice-Chancellor has constituted a 25-member organising committee and the event will be managed by Global Ventures.



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