C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


DLF was favoured, says MHA report
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Raising a finger at the manner in which the operations of the real estate giant DLF were facilitated by the Chandigarh administration at the prestigious IT park here, the report of the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has alleged that no public purpose was served by the project.

“In a planned manner public property reached the hands of a private developer for a meagre amount which was actually received by the government at the end of almost five years,” the MHA’s response to objections raised by the administration to the special audit said.

“This is a case where a proposed public partnership initiative of the administration was merely reduced to a pure, private commercial business venture in a planned manner, clearly benefiting the developer and serving no public interest. The role of directors representing the administration, including the chairman, needs to be investigated,” the report stated.

Alleging that “the developer has been clearly favoured throughout and at various stages”, the report complained that the terms of the tender were changed after acceptance following suggestions of the DLF group.

Similarly, issuing of unsecured debentures of Rs 22.62 crore increased the risk in the project for the Chandigarh administration.

The report said: “In case of the Joint Venture Company which was portrayed as a public-private partnership intended for a public purpose — setting up of a project for IT/ITES industry — the government should have been the majority shareholder and its shareholding should not have been restricted to 40 per cent and in this case it was below this figure.”

Saying that the DLF contributed only a nominal amount of Rs 10.2 crore, the report said the DLF enjoyed more than 75 per cent shares. And as per the Indian Companies Act, it enjoyed absolute power and could pass ordinary and special resolutions in key business areas, which shall be binding upon the JVC.

“The administration, which had borne the majority of risk in the project, was just a silent partner. Whatever the DLF group proposed right from the modifications in the tender, tone and tenor of the JVC agreement to the valuation report regarding the buy-back of equity shares and redemption of debentures, were accepted with a little or no application of mind and professional initiative to protect the public interests of the government,” it said.

How admin favoured DLF

l Terms of tender changed after acceptance at DLF’s suggestion

l Despite majority financial stake DLF enjoyed operational control

l No clause regarding income sharing/distribution of dividends

l Faulty and biased calculation of buy-back of equity shares by CA

DLF’s take

On the allegations of the DLF being favoured by the administration, Rahul Mehta, executive director (North), claimed that the DLF’s highest bid was over 40 per cent higher than the second highest bidder. The construction of the City Centre was in accordance with the existing building bylaws and an agreement under which the firm had been allowed to use 10 per cent of the commercial area for recreational needs of IT professionals. The companies operating from the City Centre had given undertakings that they were engaged in IT/ITES operations, he added.



Rs 18 lakh spent on idle incinerator a waste: CAG
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 16
In a classic case of putting the cart before the horse, the Punjab forest & wildlife department spent taxpayers’ money on buying an incinerator without first ensuring power was available to operate it. The incinerator was meant for environmental-friendly disposal of animal carcasses as well as safe disposal of waste.

After installing the machinery, the department found it was not feasible for the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to lay a 440 volt supply line due to dense forest coming in the way.

It has been three years since the incinerator was bought for Rs 17.3 lakh and installed at a cost of Rs 1.05 lakh, released by the Central Zoo Authority for development of the Chhatbir zoo located on the Chandigarh-Patiala road. Till date the machinery, which has a capacity to burn 100 kg of waste per hour, has not been made operational and precious wood is being wasted to burn carcasses and other waste materials.

Now, this wasteful expenditure has caught the attention of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG).

The incinerator not only could save wood but also check pilferage of hides and bones of endangered animals. The annual rate of mortality of the zoo animals varies from seven to 10 per cent.

TK Behra, field director of Chhatbir zoo, said the issue of buying a generator to get the incinerator going had been taken up with the state government. “We’re hopeful funds would be provided to purchase the generator to run the incinerator”, he added.

Forest & wildlife department records revealed no exercise was carried out regarding the feasibility of installing a 440V power supply line. After PSEB refused to provide the line due to dense forest in the area, it was proposed to run the incinerator on a diesel generator and funds were sought from the Central Zoo Authority However, the latter never approved release of the funds. Another request made to PSEB was again turned down.

Department officials said when run on a diesel generator, the incinerator would consume about 60 litres of fuel to warm one of the machine’s plates. The carcasses, too, need to be cut into pieces before being put on the hot plates for disposal, they added.



Portal helps HIV+ people tie the knot
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
It is said marriages are made in heaven but there are some that are ‘positively’ decided on the World Wide Web. Among the hundreds of matrimonial portals there is a website, positivesaathi.com, that is bringing HIV positive patients closer to tying the knot.

The site, launched in 2007, has so far helped 27 HIV positive couples in getting hitched. Recently a 45 year-old-man, Balbeer (name changed), from Bhatinda — the first from Punjab — found his bride in Maharashtra. “It’s amazing” is how the couple describes their newfound matrimony.

Talking to The Tribune on phone, Balbeer said, “It’s the second marriage for both of us and this one was made on the Net, not in heaven”. Elated over his new life despite being aware of the stark realities, he said, “I went through a terrible time when I came to know about my HIV positive status in 2006. I don’t know how I got it but my wife threw me out of the house and my 17-year-old marriage was on the rocks”.

Claiming he subsequently agreed to a “mutual divorce”, Balbeer said life had become too lonely for him. “I just didn’t know what to do and when someone told me of this website, I posted my profile without much hope,” he says.

However, he admits he was quite surprised when he got a response from a woman, Sushma (name changed), now his wife. “We then met and decided to spend our lives together,” he said, adding, “This second chance has given me everything. I’ve now got a partner who understands my ups and downs. We can take good care of each other”.

Sushma too is excited and say the marital bliss has given her tremendous emotional support. “I was lonely and was shunned even by my loved ones. But no longer,” she adds.

Though Balbeer and Sushma have been lucky to find each other, “positive marriage” still remains a new concept in this part of the region. Not many people in Punjab or Haryana have registered on the website.

Anil Valiv, who launched this unique matrimonial website, says about 1,500 people have registered their profiles on the site and only 15 people are from Punjab. Of these 12 are males, he adds.

“So far 27 couples have got married through the website”, adding prior to the site's launch there was no "mainstream Indian matrimonial" websites available exclusively for people living with HIV/AIDS.



Class IX Exam
CBSE mulls rollback of reforms
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
After turning a blind eye to the failure of its ambitious Class IX examination reforms, the CBSE is mulling a rollback from the next academic session.After having faced resentment over the recent duplication of examination papers and delay in the provision of marking schemes, the board has apparently decided to leave the exam business to schools.

“As part of the continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) we had decided to set papers for all schools to ensure uniformity in the examination system. There were many schools that would intentionally set tough papers and mark them strictly to ensure that the ‘cream’ made it to Class X. To discontinue this, we had taken the steps. The board of course could not set a different paper for all schools so the duplication happened due to varied datesheets. From next year, we might announce a uniform datesheet, but we would most probably be allowing schools to set papers as per our prescribed guidelines,” a senior CBSE official from Delhi said.

However, DR Yadav, Regional Director (CBSE), said it was too early to comment.

As part of the CCE, the CBSE had set the exam papers for all affiliated schools. These papers were loaded on a CD to be accessed by a secret password provided to the schools. The plan backfired when due to varied datasheets, it was found that many schools got the same papers, but on different dates, leading to a mass leak. This was followed by delayed action on part of

the CBSE which allowed re-examination using a set of prescribed papers uploaded on its website.

A few days after this, the board changed its mind and allowed schools to set the paper themselves, however, most schools ruled out any re-examination. The latest roadblock is the delay in the provision of approved marking scheme, which is further delaying evaluation and Class IX results.

According to official sources, the board is also mulling to either modify or abort some other aspects of the CCE.


Teacher’s Sexual Harassment
Case referred to central panel
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Shivani’s “fight for justice” in a sexual harassment case has trudged ahead, with the Punjab and Haryana High Court referring the teacher’s complaint to the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Authority’s central committee in Chandigarh.

The development is significant as her counsel Navkiran Singh had been claiming “the petitioner had been pushing from pillar to post all these years and the institution, instead of punishing the guilty, had only harassed her”.

Shivani was posted as a teacher under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan at Ropar, when the incident allegedly occurred around three years ago. Providing free legal aid to the petitioner, Navkiran Singh had told the HC that “she had to ultimately leave her job and take up employment elsewhere”. He said there was no lawfully constituted committee “in the manner envisaged by the Supreme Court in Vishakha versus the state of Rajasthan case” for looking into such complaints.

The judgment was delivered in 1997. The immediate cause for filing the petition was alleged brutal gang rape of a social worker of Rajasthan. For the first time, sexual harassment was “explicitly legally” defined as an unwelcome sexual gesture/behaviour, whether directly or indirectly.

As the case came up before Justice K Kannan, Navkiran said the state and other respondents had constituted “some inquiry and obtained a report rejecting the complaint”. He also urged the court to issue directions to the respondents to compensate the “victim”. l



School Transport System
Buses ready, but DEO must sign first
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The dilly dally attitude of the UT education department in fixing the accountability for the delayed Micro Escorts projects may further delay the launch of such buses for government schools by another year.

While the state transport authority claims to be ready with the buses, but they have been waiting for the education department to appoint an authority to sign an MoU with the concerned bus operators.

“These buses are meant to ferry the students of various government schools at subsidised rates. We are ready with the plan and can launch it any time, but the education department is yet to sign the MoU with the operators. Earlier, they said it would be school principals and now they say that it will be PTAs,” said Vandana Disodia, director of STA.

The project was finalised last year, along with subsidised tariffs and many schools had even sent a list of students willing to use it.

It may be noted that as per the plan an MoU or agreement was to be signed between school principals, STA and bus operators, but the principal refused to take additional “responsibility”.

“Why should we take this responsibility? It is the DEO’s work. We already have our hands full and cannot handle additional work of collection of fee or accidents, challans, etc,” said a principal.

Interestingly, following this denial its the PTAs that will take the charge now, no one has been elected in most schools for the past six years.

“It is strange that the department is talking about PTAs, but in many schools it’s either just on papers or virtually non-existent. There are numerous schools where no PTA elections have been conducted in the past years,” admitted an education department official.

The revelation is bound to shock many, as the department, busy taking private schools to task for violating norms, is turning a blind eye to violation by its own schools.

Meanwhile, all efforts to contact Home Secretary Ram Niwas proved futile and DPI (S) Sunil Bhatia refused to comment. 



Summer break: Teachers not OK with change
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
With the next meeting of chairpersons scheduled on Friday to resolve the issue of holidays in colleges, the teachers at Panjab University are protesting against the proposed permutation and combination of holidays, being considered by the authorities.

However, the university authorities have cleared their position on the issue today that the required norms of the University Grants Commission (UGC) for minimum number of teaching days must be fulfilled whatever may be the pattern of holidays.

Representatives of Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA) met the Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti today to put forward the opinion of teachers.

With the implementation of the semester system, the PU authorities have proposed to consider a break of 67-holiday schedule into a summer and winter break, with the same number of holidays in total, in sync with the semester system.

In order to maintain the 90-day teaching schedule per semester, since the UGC stipulates that as an academic year, which consists of two semesters, should have 180 days of teaching, the issue was raised by the authorities.

While, the officials say that they have no objection to any solution being offered on the matter if the teaching days remain intact, the teachers’ body has resolved to put forward their demands at the next meeting.

“There is no objection to holidays. We just need to fulfill the criteria of 90 teaching days per semester as required by the UGC,” said Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti.

“There are several problems in case the vacations are divided. The decision will cause a huge crisis in countryside colleges in Punjab where summers are unbearable. Besides, there is research work in the field to be conducted by faculty, which will be hampered. For the new session teachers have to prepare themselves according to the new syllabus and it is during this time that maximum workshops for teachers are conducted,” pointed out Akshaya Kumar, PUTA, general secretary.



Liquor vend rent doubled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The Finance and Contract Committee has decided to increase the rent for liquor vends on municipal land from Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000 per month.

The rent for ‘ahatas’ has gone up from Rs 15,000 to 25,000 per month and the rent for liquor vends with ‘ahatas’ will be Rs 55,000 per month.

This was decided during a meeting of the committee under the chairmanship of Mayor Anu Chatrath here today.

The committee also approved the policy on providing, installing, running and maintaining three LED screens in Sector 17 on a public-private partnership basis.

The committee decided that from now on, permission for watermelon sale would be on a first-come, first-serve basis from March 20 to 31 through applications.

The committee also recommended estimates for boring and installing a deep-bore tubewell in Sector 26 and another in Sector 48-D.

Other agenda items to be cleared were the fixation of reserve price for juice, soft drink, fast food, tea, coffee and ‘chat’ sale at Rs 10,000 per month and the lease of land for the Sadhna Vocational Training Institute for mentally challenged children.

The terms and conditions for leasing out the chill room on rent at the new air-conditioned fish market and auction of air-conditioned fish, meat and poultry product booths in Sector 41 were also cleared.

Committee members asked the officials concerned to prepare a status report regarding the rent to be charged for commercial shops at villages.



1984 Riots
Admin: 62 victims have got relief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Compensation has been released to 62 victims of the 1984 riots putting up in Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana High Court was informed today.

As a petition for compensation came up for hearing, the counsel for the Chandigarh administration said just one more victim was to be paid compensation.

Taking note of the submission, the high court directed the administration to file an affidavit before May 3, the next date of hearing.

The petitioner, the Lawyers for Human Rights International, had earlier claimed that the administration forwarded 95 applications to the Centre for settling claims of 1984 riot victims, but nothing was done. The human rights organisation had made the assertion on the basis of information gathered through the Right to Information Act.

Bringing the inaction to the high court’s notice, Navkiran Singh had sought directions to the Centre to decide the compensation applications of the 95 victims submitted by the administration.



Overcharging goes on unchecked at ISBT-43
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Consumer rights are being violated blatantly at the Inter-State Bus Terminus (ISBT), Sector 43. To buy eatables, packaged products and in-demand items, one has to shell out more than the price.“Biscuits, toffees and chips are being sold at prices exceeding the maximum retail price. Chewing gum priced at Re 1 is being sold for Re 1.50. If anyone objects to it, shopkeepers pick a fight,” says a regular commuter.

Parvesh of Sector 21 says a bottle of water that costs Rs 10 is priced at Rs 15 while a bottle of juice with the maximum retail price of Rs 20 is sold for Rs 25.

As he usually commutes by bus, he prefers to carry his own water bottle to avoid paying extra for soft drinks or juices.

Mukesh of Zirakpur, a student who regularly commutes to Kurali, says overcharging is a regular practice at the bus terminus.

“I once argued with one of the stall owners, but to no avail. He asked me to buy eatables from outside since they had prices fixed,” he says.

A trip to the ISBT has revealed that cold drinks are being sold for Rs 15 per bottle instead of Rs 10 and a cup of tea for between Rs 7 and Rs 10.

Shopkeepers say they are unable to bear the high rent charged for shops and overcharging is the only way to make profit.

Commuters say this unjust practice goes on unchecked. This practice continues with the knowledge of the UT administration, which seems helpless in the matter.

Despite being fined by the administration many a time, shopkeepers have resorted to their old ways, says Punjab Roadways bus conductor Harbans Singh.

“Everybody has a share in it, be it officials of the local administration or the police or shopkeepers,” alleges a commuter.

An official at the bus stand says he has not received any complaint about such a malpractice. “Consumer forums are working on it and you should talk to them,” he says.

On the other hand, encroachments dot the road opposite the entry point for local buses near the judicial complex, which is under construction.

Autorickshaws block a major portion of the road. Some shopkeepers with temporary shelters near the judicial complex have been doing brisk business.

Though a site adjoining the bus terminus is earmarked for autorickshaws, most of those are parked on the road so that it is easy to rush in for passengers.

“I often see autorickshaws being driven hurriedly towards buses so that they can get the maximum number of passengers. This poses a serious traffic problem. It can even lead to an accident,” says a city resident who visits the bus terminus frequently.

The initiative of the UT administration to establish a creche at the ISBT has almost failed due to a poor response from the public. The medical centre has also been shut down.



Admin opens window for property transfer
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
Giving a breather to those who want to get their property transferred but have not been able to do it in the absence of a completion or occupation certificate, the UT administration has decided to entertain requests for transfer of property and grant of no-objection certificate.

The UT estate office has issued an order in pursuance of the finance department’s communication. The order says henceforth, the transfer of property or grant of NOC for transfer will be entertained in the absence of completion or occupation certificate in cases where construction has been completed long back.

Disclosing this here today, an estate office official said applicant would be required to certify that construction had been completed the as per the building plan sanctioned and there was no violation.

The owner would be required to furnish a copy of the sewerage connection or an electricity or water bill paid prior to January 22, 1993, or a sanction letter for grant of electricity or water connection, the official elaborated.

In cases of allotment after January 22, 1993, the owner would have to furnish a copy of the extension letter and a copy of the last electricity or water bill paid, besides a certificate from a registered architect, certifying that the building had been constructed in accordance with the sanctioned building plan and there was no building violation.



Allot flats to oustees, says BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh,March 16
The local unit of the BJP today demanded allotment of flats to inhabitants of Labour Colony No 5, whose houses were demolished in December last year and February this year.

A delegation of the BJP under the leadership of Jai Ram Joshi, former president of the local unit, along with Swaraj Uppadhya, president, Mandal No 13, today met Sandeep Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Chandigarh Housing Board(CHB), and submitted a memorandum to him in connection with rehabilitation of uprooted families of Labour Colony No 5.

Joshi alleged that the huts of over 200 families were demolished for a road 

The authorities had assured them that they would be allotted accommodation under the Chandigarh Small Flats Scheme, 2006.

However, about 65 families have not been allotted flats so far under the said scheme, despite the fact that their names figure in biometric survey conducted in 2006. 



Guards at Security Gates
Police, council yet to find solution
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 16
The issue of providing security to residents by installing gates in various parts of the town has been hanging fire for over four months now, as the municipal council and the police have been unable to deploy watchmen to man these gates.

While the police is holding meetings with representatives of welfare bodies to persuade them to employ watchmen at these gates by making financial contributions, the council is asking the contractor, who had installed the gates, to make arrangements for security guards.

Both agencies are, however, hopeful that the work would be completed by the end of the month.

Residents complained that the gates were closed at night in certain areas, leading to inconvenience as no guards were available to open these if someone had to return home late at night.

Council president Rajinder Singh Rana said the contractor had provided security personnel at the gates installed in Phases 3B2, VII, IX and X and remaining areas would be covered by March-end.

However, councillors of the opposition group had started raising objections about the design of the gates, taking the issue away from security perspective, he added.

Under the plan, the gates were to be closed at night, leaving one gate open. It was to be manned by a security guard who was to log the entries of persons into the area once the gates were closed.

The security guard was to be deployed after carrying out his police verification.

As many as 39 security gates had been installed by a private company on the directions of the municipal council in various parts of the town. There was a proposal to put up 30 more such gates in the areas that had remained uncoveredearlier.



Thousands pay obeisance at Mansa Devi
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 16
Over 50,000 devotees from far-flung places converged on the Mata Mansa Devi shrine on the first day of the Navratra fair which commenced here today.

The devotees made a beeline for the shrine since 3 am. Anuradha Gupta, additional principal secretary, performed the yajna at the shrine. She was accompanied by the Deputy Commissioner and other senior officers of the district administration.

The Haryana CM was scheduled to perform the yajna, but he cancelled the visit. He was also to inaugurate the railway under bridge there, but it was thrown open to the public in view of the Navratras.

The devotees partook langar and special buses plied to ferry people even as elaborate police arrangements had been made.

The health department had organised an exhibition to create awareness against foeticide and some tests, including HIV, were conducted on those wanting to avail the opportunity.



Social science congress kicks off at PU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The second Chandigarh social science congress on “Economy, Society and Welfare: New Challenges Before Social Sciences” kicked off at Panjab University here today.Nearly 30 social science departments of the university participated in the mega event. Dr Upinder Sawhney welcomed the guests.

Padma Shri recipient Prof RC Sobti, Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, delivered the inaugural address. He proposed the setting up of Chandigarh social science academy.

Dr Krishna Mohan, chairman of the congress, introduced theme of the congress.

Prof Amitabh Kundu from Centre for Study in Regional Development (CSRD), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, delivered the key note address. Prof Kundu distinguished between bad research, good research and policy research.

He said policy-oriented studies should not force university researchers to compromise on methodology, quality of data use and dilute their concerns for the underprivileged in society.

Prof Jitendra Mohan, department of psychology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, deliberated upon the challenges that one had to face in achieving excellence in any field.

Prof SC Vaidya, Dean, University Instructions, proposed a vote of thanks.

Students of University Institute of Legal Studies also participated in the congress.

Around 21 students and five teachers of UILS presented research papers.

About 30 social science departments of the university, along with teachers and students of various colleges of the tri-city, will participate in the mega event.



PU Notes
Practical exams rescheduled for March 27, 28
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 16
The university practical examinations which were earlier scheduled for March 10 and 11, 2010, and were later postponed, will now be held on March 27 and March 28.However, the practical examinations of BA-III (fine arts) will be held from March 26 to March 28, 2010.

The time and venue for all practical exams will be the same. The revised schedule would be available on the PU website: www.pu.ac.in <http://www.pu.ac.in> .

Special chance

Panjab University is giving a special chance to students of all undergraduate and postgraduate, including professional courses, to take compartment examinations in September and December, 2010.

Further, a special chance will be given by the university for improvement of performance in all admissible courses in April, 2011. However, any eligible student, who wish to take examination in one or two papers only for improvement of performance and additional subjects can appear in September, 2010, examinations.

Only one chance for improvement of performance and additional subjects will be given to students and they can appear either in September or December, 2010, in 
April 2011.

The examination fee per additional paper will be Rs 7,500 and Rs 500.

The question papers will be according to the current syllabi. The last date for submission of examination forms will be according to the schedule approved by the university for September/December, 2010, and for April, 2011. Students can also visit the university website: www.puchd.ac.in <http://www.puchd.ac.in/>.


The University Institute of Fashion Technology and Vocational Development, Panjab University, organised five-day workshop on surface-ornamentation. The workshop was conducted by Nita Thakur, an artist.

She apprised students about various patterns of fabrics.

The department also organised a workshop on “Fashion Photography” here today. Navneet Saxena, president of the Chandigarh Photography Association, categorised the workshop into six modules, in which students were apprised about the basics of photography, handling of camera, depth of field exercises, managing shutter speed and different apertures, digital photography, flash photography and multiple studio lights for portraiture.

The workshop was attended by final year students.



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