C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Policing its own home
No security for top bureaucrats
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Probably trying to make the point that it could save others only if it is secure itself, the Chandigarh Police shows an overdrive in the fortification of the police headquarters in Sector 9 here.

It is interesting to observe that while a common man walks without hindrance to the offices of senior officials in the UT secretariat building right next door, it is nothing short of an arduous task to merely make an entry into the police headquarters.

An Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) security guard carrying an SLR is posted at the sentry post. Two or three personnel can be seen walking near the entry gate. This is followed by a walk through the metal detector. Then a person arrives at the desk where he is asked a long list of questions before being issued an entry slip along with his photograph. “I think this is too much,” Dildar Singh, a senior citizen, stated.

Importantly, the secretariat houses the offices of the UT Administrator, Adviser, Home Secretary and Finance Secretary, besides other senior officials. The entry gate opposite the police headquarters, too, houses the offices of seniormost officials of the education and information technology departments.

Due to restrictions, visitors either park vehicles at a distance or leave those in the parking lot. Employees posted at the DPI, engineering wing and other departments housed in a building adjacent to the headquarters are the worst hit as they have to park the vehicles away from their offices.

A security personnel, on the condition of anonymity, said: “I don’t think you will find such a high concentration of cops anywhere else in the city except our headquarters. We are prepared to defend ourselves.”



Flip-flop by girl baffles dept
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
In a complete U-turn, the alleged molestation victim, a student of Government College-46, has deposed in favour of the accused music lecturer and, has interestingly instead, accused the teacher who had filed a complaint on her behalf. This has left officials of the UT education department baffled.

Endorsing her mother’s statement, the BA-II student is learnt to have stated in her deposition before the Director Higher Education (DHE), Ajoy Sharma, that the accused lecturer had never tried to molest her. Instead, it was the complainant who tried to “misuse” her to defame him.

“Ma’am (complainant) asked me to copy some application and forced me to sign it. When I refused, she tried to persuade me. I told my mother about it and we approached her to return the letter and even informed the music lecturer about her intentions. After a lot of argument, she settled the matter by burning the letter and making me promise not to reveal it to anybody,” she is learnt to have said in her statement.

The DHE, who refused to divulge any details, is awaiting the report of a specially commissioned psychologist to submit his final report before making any decision.

“The student may be under some pressure. That was the reason why the DHE decided to rope in the psychologists. These people have analysed her body language, speech modulation, etc. to determine if she has undergone any traumatic experience or if she was under pressure to conceal the truth,” a senior official stated.

However, the education department would continue to look into the music teacher’s record. “The department has received information about the accused having been assigned to community service at Burail Jail by the former DHE. We would be looking into his records along with the claims that he had been earlier transferred on the basis of a complaint,” an education department official remarked.



Sexual abuse charge against PGI doctor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The PGI authorities have marked an internal inquiry into the allegations of molestation levelled against a senior resident doctor of the anaesthesia department by an attendant of a patient admitted at the main ICU ward.

According to sources, the wife of a patient, Devi Prakash, in a written complaint to the hospital authorities has accused Dr Vikas of molesting her last night while she was taking care of her husband in the ICU.

Devi Prakash, a resident of Sirsa, is reportedly suffering from WB syndrome and is on ventilator support. In her complaint, the woman alleged that the doctor molested her during his visit to the ICU on the pretext of prescribing her medicines.

Dr Jyotsna Wig, head of the anaesthesia department of the PGI, said the patient’s attendant had filed a complaint, but refused to comment on it as the hospital authorities had marked an internal inquiry against the doctor.



Quiet burial for condom bar
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Almost three years later and after incurring an expenditure of over Rs 6 lakh of the tax payers’ money, the country’s much-publicised sole condom bar at the Kala Gram has become a source of “embarrassment” for the UT administration. Result: It is to be given a quiet burial and will be replaced with a bar that will now comprise a village theme.

The condom bar, which had aroused international curiosity, had among its visitors UNAIFDS Country Coordinator Denis Bround and a delegation of doctors from Ethiopia.

Sources, however, said it was not embarrassment alone. It was difficult to draw families who were finding it awkward to sit in a bar that had condoms for theme.

Home Secretary Ram Niwas, who is chairman of CITCO’s Board of Directors, inexplicably shouted at this correspondent saying, “Do not ask me about the condom bar. How would I know about it? I don’t want to talk about it. Talk to DK Tiwari (CITCO’s MD) about it.”

However, Tiwari declined to respond to repeated calls on his cellphone.

The bar was inaugurated on May 3, 2007, by Pooja Thakur, president of the Chandigarh Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS. The basic structure of the bar cost Rs 6 lakh, which does not include the cost of the condom vending machine and other souvenirs that have been installed at the bar.

Former CITCO managing director Jasbir Singh Bir said he was “very pained” to know that his “idea” was being shut down. “This is the worst incident of my career so far. I had taken everyone into confidence, including former Administrator Rodrigues and former adviser Lalit Sharma,” he said. “In fact, the union minister of health had sent me an appreciation letter when the bar was opened. There was an intelligence report that some members of the Bajrang Dal were out to scuttle the launch. After going through so much, it’s painful for me to see it close,” he added.

Besides having souvenirs like cups, T-shirts and caps, highlighting the use of condoms and safe sex, the bar even had a counter that offered free condoms. Even condoms for women were offered free of cost at the bar.



Ingenious con man runs out of luck
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A con man has fallen in the hands of the police for duping over a dozen gullible housewives. The accused would take the victims out of their houses on the pretext of getting a job for their loved ones and drop them on the way before returning to the victim’s home to pocket valuables.

Striking at Daria, Kajheri, Dadu Majra, Balongi and Maloya over the past six months, the trickster posed as a close acquaintance of victims’ husbands and targeted houses with unemployed youth.

He would weave stories on job opportunities to women and ask them to accompany him.

Driving a little away from their house, he would ask them to wait while he returned. As the victims stood waiting, the accused would drive back to their home and take the easy pickings. The swindler ran into ill luck when he duped another victim at Maloya yesterday.

The details provided by the victim matched his profile and the police contacted two other victims who were duped in a similar fashion last year. Inquiries took the police to Mauli Jagran from where the accused was arrested.

The accused was produced in a local court today and was remanded in one-day police custody.

Before targeting his victim at Maloya yesterday, he had gone to the house of Saroj at Darua village. He told her that her husband had told him that her brother Raj Kumar was unemployed and was looking for a government job.

He feigned making a phone call to Saroj’s husband, telling him that his wife was not entertaining him.

He told her that there was some opening in a government office suitable for her brother. He added that her husband had requested him (Sohan Lal) to take her along as he was not free and get the work done.

Saroj agreed to go with him. Before leaving, he advised her to take some cash along and leave the jewellery she was wearing home.

After reaching Mauli Jagran, he dropped her there and took the money and documents she was carrying. He told her to wait for him.

He then drove to the victim’s home and took away the jewellery that the woman had left there, the police said.



Tribune Impact
Illegal Felling: Forest guard suspended
Tribune News Service

Parol (Mohali), March 30
The forest department has suspended a forest guard in a case of illegal felling of trees in Parol forest located on the Chandigarh-Baddi road, about 15 km from Chandigarh.

Chief Conservator of Forests (Hills) Jatinder Sharma confirmed that the guard, Baldev Singh, had been suspended and a detailed inquiry was on. The suspension is based on the findings of a preliminary inquiry supervised by the Conservator of Forests (Shivaliks), Parveen Kumar.

The action came after The Tribune highlighted the reckless felling of trees in the forest area. It was alleged that junior officials of the department were hand-in-glove with the culprits, many of who claim to be doing so at the behest of politicians and even a few bureaucrats.

Though the final report is yet to come, sources said a loss of around 500 trees had been found at the site. In most cases, trenches left by uprooting of trees had been filled with earth.

The suspended guard was responsible for the area, a fact contradicted by the guard during the inquiry. It is learnt that the suspended guard was not cooperating in the inquiry and even threatened the village residents, who had complained about the illicit felling of trees. In their complaint, villagers had pointed out that the guard was behind the large-scale sand quarrying in Nagal and Parol areas.

Villagers had alleged that the modus operandi adopted by the culprits was to uproot trees and then plough the land to change its nature and show it as an agricultural land.

VIP guard!

Baldev Singh may be just an ordinary forest guard, but he seems to be a VIP. Forest officials are learnt to be under considerable pressure from politicians to protect him from prosecution. A list of his well-wishers includes a senior member of the Punjab Cabinet minister’s office, well known politicians of the SAD-BJP alliance and local politicians from Mohali


Recession Blues Over
Placements back to cheer students
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Following a depressing trend of placements on the Panjab University campus last year, recession blues are visibly fading with the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET) and the University Institute of Chemical Engineering and technology (UICET) taking the lead in a major way.

Although placements in departments like the University Institute of Applied Management and Science (UIAMS) is expected to pick up in the coming weeks with the intervention of the Central Placement Cell (CPC) of the university, the overall placement picture on the campus has considerably improved compared to last year.

In the past few weeks, as many as 260 students of UIET have been recruited to companies such as Infosys, Petron, Tech Mahindra, JK Tyres, Anand Automobiles, the UB Group, Bharat Electronics Limited and TCS with more than 100 students receiving two or more job offers.

Despite a minimum requirement of 65 per cent marks for graduates, an estimated 80 per cent of 340 students, who were eligible to sit in the placement drive from UIET have already got job offers.

IT giant Infosys, has selected 187 students from UIET, while TCS and Mahindra, respectively, selected 110 and 43 students.

The recession blues can also be adjudged by the figure of the highest pay package bagged by UICET this year (Rs 7.2 lakh) with an average package of Rs 4 lakh per annum. “An estimated 60 per cent students have been placed so far and companies are on a look out,” said Aman Gupta, a final year student.

University Business School, UBS, which is among the coveted institutes of the university, has also fared better than the previous year in terms of the average annual package.

Besides professional courses relieved of the recession melancholy, students in other departments of the Panjab University, particularly science departments are also better placed this year.

Like last year, placement of students from the University Institute of Pharmaceutical sciences (UIPS) remained unaffected by recession this year as well. “M Pharma students are opting for research and development jobs and the average annual pay package for their batch is Rs 3 lakh. B Pharma students are opting for marketing profiles with an annual average pay package of Rs 3.5 lakh,” said Prof AR Rao, UIPS’ training and placement officer.

Recruitment of students from UIAMS, that offers MBA in specialised applied management courses, is yet to begin in full swing with only 28 out of 186 students hired so far.



Garbage Mess
JP adds another panel to the list
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Adding to the list of committees constituted to study the technology and functioning of the garbage processing plant at Dadu Majra, JP Associates, the agency involved in the running of the plant, today proposed the setting up of yet another committee for improving its functioning.

Rajiv Gaur, president, Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, stated this while taking to the mediapersons here.

He said the proposed committee would comprise experts and technocrats on management of solid waste, Government of India, municipal corporation, and Jaypee Associates.

According to the proposal, the committee would study the proper functioning of the plant and collection system in totality within the framework of contractual documents to find out causes and remedial measures, which the corporation and company would agree upon within contractual obligations.

Gaur stated that in spite of the fact that the plant was fully functional, processing entire garbage of the city, and certified by various expert committees, the corporation did not seem to be satisfied with their reports.

He said the joint committee might serve the purpose of both authorities and company to make the plant properly functional in the interest of the city.

Pointing out the segregation system of the corporation, Gaur said in spite of instructions to authorities from the pollution board, the plant was still receiving waste of slaughterhouse, hotel and vegetable market on a daily basis in the garbage vans.

As per the company’s record, each dumper on an average collects the garbage of around eight bins daily and leaves the rest due to shortage of vehicles with the corporation.

Even during weekend, the plant does not receive sufficient amount of garbage to run it to the optimum level. He said that was responsible for the emanation of foul smell from the plant.

Expressing disappointment on the way the corporation had acted in forfeiting the security of the plant, Gaur said the authorities should cooperate with the company to making the plant fully functional.

On the machinery installed at the plant, he said all major machinery had been imported and even dryer in the plant had been specially designed.

He said despite the matter being sub judice, they had not closed the plant for a day. “How could you expect that we would withdraw our services in the future,” he added.



Shopkeepers, customers defy ban on plastic bags
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The use of plastic bags continues to be rampant in markets across the city in spite of a ban on their use imposed by the UT administration on October 2, 2008. A visit to some of the markets here revealed the extent of use of polybags both by shopkeepers and customers.

At the bustling grain market in Sector 26, vegetables and fruits are still being sold in plastic bags.

Same is the case with the Sector-22 market. Rajiv, who owns a mobile shop, said: “Paper bags are fragile so we have to use plastic bags, as they come cheap and are easily available.”

“I shopped for vegetables and fruits and these were handed out to me in plastic bags. This is a clear violation of the ban imposed by the UT administration,” said a housewife.

A shopkeeper in Palika Bazaar in Sector 19, when being asked the reason behind using plastic bags in spite of the ban, said: “The government should first put a ban on manufacturers and retailers and keep an eye on them. Then only can we help sort out the problem.”

Some traders in Sectors 17 and 34, however, were quite happy with the ban.

A trader who owns a shop in Sector 34 said: “I have been using plastic bags made with imported acrylic jute and paper bags ever since the ban was imposed.”

Some shopkeepers even ask customers to carry jute bags or handmade bags, as they are eco-friendly and convenient for both buyers and shopkeepers.

Some shopkeepers feel the use of paper bags will be equally harmful to the environment, as their production means axing of a large number of trees leading to deforestation and pollution.

The administration seems to be fast losing its battle against the ban on plastic bags and now even the environment department is finding it hard to rein in offenders.

In spite of prosecuting over 30 retail outlets for giving out plastic bags, most continue to use these.



Hostage Drama
Powermen won’t reply to complaints
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 30
Power woes of residents of Panchkula during summers are likely to worsen with powermen today deciding not to respond to electricity complaints. Addressing protesters at the city sub-station unit in the Industrial Area here, HSEB Employees’ Union state president Kanwar Singh Yadav said they were being forced to take such a drastic step as the district administration and police had failed to take any action against those who had manhandled the employees while on duty about five days ago.

Yadav said villagers had demanded suspension of foreman Kanta Parshad and junior engineer Vishal Prabhakar for allegedly misbehaving with women folk in Saketri village. He said false allegations were being levelled against the board employees, as they had gone to disconnect the illegal “kundi” connections, besides checking of power theft by the villagers. He said they would be forced to intensify the stir and the district administration and police would be responsible for any untoward incident.

Earlier union members changed the decision to gherao the SP office as the latter was not in the office and was busy with Chief Minister Bhupinider Singh Hooda’s visit in the city. A large posse of policemen, besides water cannon vans were positioned at the secretariat building today.

Meanwhile, the police has registered a case against foreman Kanta Parshad and JE Vishal Prabhakar under Sections 354 and 452 of the IPC. The police has also registered cases against Kuldeep Singh, Balwinder Singh and Mahima Singh, all residents of Saketri village, under Sections 332, 353, 341 and 186 of the IPC at the MDC police station.



Dance medley by folk artistes

Chandigarh, March 30
The twang, grace and grandeur of rich folklore reverberated the Plaza, as 375 accomplished folk dancers brought alive the diverse regional culture of 15 states on the fourth day of ongoing second Chandigarh Arts and Heritage Festival.

A spell binding choreographic dance medley performance by artistes from different cultural zones of India organised by NZCC has been conceptualised by thespian Bansi Kaul and choreographed by Kaplesh Dalal, so aesthetically that put forth the diversity, culture, heritage of India on one common platform.

It was a thrilling experience for city audience to watch traditional, tribal and martial dances with elegant costumes and playing of folk instruments, which are otherwise a rarity in the region. — OC



Industrialists protest power cuts
Tribune News Service

Members of the Mohali Chamber of Industry and Commerce protest outside the DC’s office in Mohali on Tuesday. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, March 30
The Mohali Chamber of Industry and Commerce today organised a peaceful march against power cuts imposed on the micro and small-scale industry.

Staring from Industrial Area, Phase IX, the march culminated at the office of the Deputy Commissioner where industrialists submitted a memorandum to him.

Prabhjot Singh Sandhu, president of the Mohali Chamber of Industry and Commerce, said the Chief Minister had been urged to intervene in the issue of 58.5 hours weekly cut against the earlier cuts of 24 hours.

He said the chamber had written to the chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board.



‘NAAC not for policing institutes’
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The status of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council of the University Grants Commission (NAAC-UGC) is that of a felicitator and not of policing institutes.

This was pointed out by NAAC director HA Ranganath today at the two two-day National Conference on Advances in Biological Sciences organised by the Department of Zoology, Panjab University.

Talking to The Tribune, Ranganathan said if the Foreign Universities Act made some headway, the universities would also have to get accredited to ensure quality education for the students.

“More than 4,000 institutes across the country are NAAC-accredited. It is a voluntary exercise opted by only those institutes which are confident of getting a grade,” he added.



Indian campuses in Dutch varsities soon

Chandigarh, March 30
Universities and institutes of science and technology in the Netherlands are exploring possibilities of starting Indian campuses, says Bob Hiensch, Ambassador of the Netherlands to India.

“We are looking at areas like IT, agriculture and food processing, automotive sector and pharmacology for further strengthening the bilateral trade and cooperation,” he said, while launching the Netherlands Desk here in conjunction with TiE besides the governments of Punjab and Haryana.

“We want to take our bilateral trade to $11 billion by 2014. The Netherlands Desk will facilitate deeper cooperation between the two nations and Punjab and Haryana in particular,” he said. — TNS



Attendance Shortage
PU students not given roll numbers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Hundreds of students from the department of evening studies, Panjab University, today protested outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office. Nearly 250 students of the department were not issued roll numbers due to attendance shortage and the examination is scheduled after two days.

Prof Naval Kishore, Dean Student Welfare, and Prof Indu Tewari, department chairperson, discussed the matter in detail, but solution is awaited.

Earlier a committee consisting advocates VK Sibal, Chaman Lal and Prof Shelly Walia was formed to look into the case.

In the same case, the department had given 10 per cent lectures to the students on the ground of participating in cultural activities, but the R&S branch of the administrative block had raised an objection. Subsequently, the students had produced medical certificates and yet another objection was raised after which the roll numbers were stopped.



30 pc arrears for teachers announced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
During the all faculty meeting held at Panjab University here today, Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti announced 30 per cent arrears for teachers and non-teachers, respectively, which has already been received by the Centre.

Besides, he also announced Rs 10 crore for science departments from the PURSE grant. The activity based assessment committee team would be visiting the campus from April 14-16 and the Vice-Chancellor said the university had to ensure that it was following the University Grants Commission (UGC) norms to bid for more funds from the Central government.

The teachers also raised the issue of finding a solution to the traffic menace on the campus for which the Vice-Chancellor constituted a committee headed by Prof Manjit Singh.



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