C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Right to education is here, but is UT up to the task?
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune news Service

Child labour goes unchecked in Chandigarh.
Child labour goes unchecked in Chandigarh. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, April 2
“Right ka matlab? Aap please mujhse school waigarah ki baat mat karo. Mere papa bhi isi jagah kaam karte hain. Woh mujhe daatenge. Pehle jab maine ek madam se copy li thi to meri bahut pitayi hui thi” (What do you mean by right? Please don’t talk to me about schools, etc. My father, who also works here, will scold me. He once beat me up when I took a notebook from one of the madams who came here).

Dressed in an oversized shirt, 13-year-old Kalu, who works at a juice bar at the Sector 17 bus terminus, was more concerned about retrieving the glasses safely rather than sparing a thought to the fact that education has now become his fundamental right.

Kalu’s is not the lone case. He is one of the roughly 10,000 children who continue to slog in the city’s markets, parks, bus terminuses, train station, at traffic signals and - of course - as domestic helps, according to a recent update prepared as part of an ‘out of school survey’ conducted by the UT education department and released in 2008. Nothing much has changed for these children since then.

The survey, conducted with a sample of 40,000 households in the city, had revealed over 30 per cent of these children never went to school while the rest were school dropouts who preferred to work rather than study.

Among other things the survey brought out was that as many as 962 students in the 6-14 age group could be found hanging around at traffic signals, either begging or selling cheap stuff, while another 1,500 were engaged in various commercial activities. Of these 1,500 children resided in Chandigarh, 980 worked

as domestic help in the Tricity while the remainder were unemployed.

Most distressingly, about 2,250 children - most of them less than seven years old, were found loitering on the streets rather than attending schools. Almost 1,150 children belonged to the ‘scheduled caste’ category and 717 to a minority community.

Projects that didn’t work out
Rehabilitation of beggars

Launched in 2007 under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan (SSA) scheme, child beggars in the city were supposed to be brought into mainstream education. The UT education department identified two inspectors along with eight supervisors and SSA coordinators to trace beggars in the city at different locations. The department aimed to motivate them to send their children to schools by luring them with educational facilities, school admissions, daily supply of bread, butter and clothes along with Rs 250 per month so that they would stop begging. The department appealed to the public to help them in tracing child beggars in the city and inform them on helpline numbers so that appropriate arrangements should be made. However, only about 40 such children were identified but even they never reached a school. The project was eventually shelved with UT administration officials claiming the scheme’s launch had made child beggars “disappear” from the city.

Tamasha gadi

The Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan scheme also witnessed the introduction of a ‘tamasha gadi’ to bring street children, rag pickers, beggars, etc, into the fold of education. The SSA was supposed to procure big-sized buses fitted with a LCD projector, radio, personal computers, storybooks, picture books and other interesting learning material. It was planned these vans would go around different areas in the city, collect children and take them to some ‘tourist point’ in city. The kids could simultaneously pursue learning activities while on board.

Checks on child labour

The SSA department had made principals of various government schools responsible for checking cases of child labour in the city. They were supposed to identify such children and motivate their parents to get them to school and even file a complaint against their employer.

Quota for poor kids

Though the HRD ministry may be talking about reserving 25 per cent of seats in schools for children belonging to economically weaker sections in the next academic year, schools in the city schools and the UT administration continue to be at loggerheads to allot even a lower quota of 15 per cent. Also, thousands of children from this category fail to get admission to government schools as they have no valid birth certificates or residence proofs.



Big count in city from April 15
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Starting April 15 about 4,000 government staff have their task cut out for a month and a half to conduct census operations in Chandigarh. And by June 1, 2010 residents would be able to know the city’s headcount besides a host of other interesting data related to its population.

The decennial exercise, to be handled by government staff including 63 master trainers, 2,697 enumerators and 450 supervisors, will be different this time as data on civic amenities will form an integral part of the census operations. The enumerators will also collect fingerprints and photographs besides information on mobile phones and Internet users during the mammoth operation, which will ultimately pave the way for preparation of the National Population Register (NPR) and the ambitious Unique Identification Number (UIN) project of the central government.

“All preparations for the UT census are almost complete and people should cooperate with the staff as the data generated through the exercise would go a long way in formulation of various policies and plans of the central and state governments having impact on the country’s economy,” UT census director Bindhyeshivari Negi told the Chandigarh Tribune here today.

The census officials will work on listing houses in earmarked areas in the city including 12 village 'panchayats', 18 authorised slums and 26 wards. While the subsectors would form the basic units in the wards, the rows of houses in slums, depending on their house numbers and ‘mohallas’ in the villages, would form the starting points for the enumerators to begin the census work.

The master trainers, who have already been trained by the census directorate on March 16-18, will form the core training team in the city for onward training to the enumerators and supervisors drawn from government schools and government departments.

In fact, a three-day training for enumerators and supervisors in batches of 50 is slated from April 5 while the next schedule of training will commence from April 12.

Officials underlined since a large portion of the city’s population comprises families with double income, special efforts would be made by the enumerators to contact these persons after working hours or on holidays.

Similarly, special efforts will also be made to get correct data on the population staying in rented accommodation and the mushrooming business of paying guest houses.

While March 1, 2011 is the reference date for the census data, given the UT’s size and high level of literacy, an approximate idea of the city’s headcount besides other important issues, including marital status, religion, fertility and education, should be available by June 1 - the end of the exercise’s first phase. As Chandigarh, with a total area of 114 square kilometers, is primarily an urbanised area with about 98 per cent of inhabitants residing in the city, tabulating data would not pose a major problem, sources said.

With the UT deputy commissioner being the principal census officer, assisted by subdivisional magistrate (east) as the district census officer, assistant estate officer as the city census charge officer and tehsildar (revenue) as the census charge officer (rural), the current census will have master trainers from among the school principals and senior teachers for the first time. As many as 63 master trainers are being trained for the job.

Emphasising individual particulars would be kept confidential, the census officials asserted the Census Act, 1948 made it mandatory for citizens to furnish correct information. Similarly, no government employee can refuse census duty, they added.



Attendance Shortage
Swine flu bails out PU students
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
In what speaks volume about the “liberal” attitude of Panjab University towards the mandatory criteria of attending 75 per cent lectures, all 250 students of the department of evening studies, who were earlier denied roll numbers, have been given attendance for a week for having developed “swine flu symptoms” in the past.

The “generosity” of the special committee constituted by the VC was evident from the unusual grounds on which the lectures were granted on paper.

These include a week for developing swine flu symptoms, two days for donating blood, which also includes a day for “motivating” students to donate blood, cultural programmes, AIDS awareness programme and presentations at the venue that can hardly accommodate 50 persons.

Following the “adjustment” by this seven-member committee, 35 lectures have been given to students appearing for BA exams and 42 lectures to BCom students. Surprisingly, the students have neither deposited medical certificates nor was the department closed when the students had swine flu.

The BA and BCom students, who have five and six lectures per day, respectively, have also been given additional lectures on paper for attending the science congress, which was attended mostly by students from science departments.

Finally, 110 lectures for BA and 132 lectures for BCom students have been given by the committee. In addition to these extra lectures, the department chairperson had already given 10 per cent lectures. The syndicate and the VC each granted 10 lectures to these students.

A simple calculation indicates that the students had just 35 per cent attendance, but their criteria of 75 per cent attendance was eventually made possible. “I am concerned about the issue and it is a serious one. Every time such a situation arises, the students get out of it by protesting. I will take the matter to the syndicate on Sunday morning and also the senate. We will find a permanent solution,” the VC, Prof RC Sobti, stated.



Distant dreams their route to the bank
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
From helping you clear the mandatory IELTS test to even assuring permanent residency, many of the 350 immigration agents operating in the city are willing to guarantee it all, but for a hefty fee.

Both Canada and New Zealand are emerging the favoured destinations for students who are seeking permanent residency through the back door of education courses in vocational institutes rather than mainstream universities. 
Even though Australia has tightened its visa regime for vocational education institutes, questionable diploma courses like cookery, community welfare, hair dressing and automotive diplomas continue to be the most sought after in a bid to obtain permanent residency Down Under. However, immigration agents are mostly discouraging about Australia.

A visit to 17 immigration consultants located in Sectors 9, 17, 34 and 35, revealed that right from clearing the IELTS to studying in obscure institutes like “Royal College” to permanently settling overseas, the agents had a solution to offer for a fee. All assurances were verbal.

In one case it was found that a coaching institute, which “assured results” of the mandatory IELTS, had deliberately kept a name similar to that of an authorised test-conducting agency of this English language proficiency exam. Huge hoardings at its office located in Sector 35 could mislead a student who was less familiar with details.

An agent even offered this correspondent a work experience certificate for a mere Rs 2,000, which could then be produced in a Canadian college for obtaining admission.

The fee in private vocational colleges was 40 per cent less than that charged in mainstream universities. But the immigration agents are paid a higher commission by these colleges which serves as a major reason why they try to persuade prospective students to seek admission in these colleges. The commission per student awarded by these colleges is as high as Rs 80,000 (A$ 2,000 approximately).

This reporter, who posed as an aspirant seeking to study overseas with the intention of obtaining permanent residency, was told that she would have to take English language

classes for a monthly fee ranging between Rs 4,500 and Rs 8,000 for periods ranging from anything between a month-and-a-half to six months. Asked what was the guarantee that she would clear, the answer was: “You will with the kind of teachers we have.”

Other than Canada and New Zealand, several European countries, where private colleges are said to be mushrooming, are the other favoured destinations for students. An immigration agent representing a more reputable agency said such was the desperation among the youth from rural Punjab that they were willing to go to any country, including nations like Czech Republic.

“Whenever there is a sudden increase in the number of private colleges in a country, whether it is the UK, Australia or New Zealand, student applications shoot up considerably,” an immigration consultant said, adding that it had nothing to do with education. 


Police Complaints Authority
Cops fear reopening of abuse cases
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The recent decision of the union ministry of home affairs of setting up a police complaints authority (PCA) in union territories has stirred a debate in police circles over accountability in public dealing.

Though the structure and specifications of the authority are not known at this stage, police officials have already started evaluating the pros and cons of the PCA here in the light if the Supreme Court’s guidelines on which the authority will be set up.

Some officials at the UT police headquarters apprehend that old incidents of police torture, highhandedness or death in custody may reopen in the authority.

The PCA will keep a hawk’s eye on the police functioning. It will inquire into the allegations of “serious misconduct” like death in police custody, grievous hurt, rape or attempted rape and other incidents involving serious abuse of authority against police personnel either suo motu or on a complaint lodged by the victims or any other persons or organisation on his/her behalf.

The track record of the Chandigarh police is dotted with incidents of abuse of authority and serious misconduct.

The UT police had faced charges of custodial deaths thrice and of thrashing of a shopkeeper by a senior police officer in the past three years among other incidents occurring time to time. Magisterial and departmental inquires were held in such cases.

The police had conducted two magisterial inquiries into incidents of custodial deaths along with departmental probes while a departmental inquiry was marked into an incident of suicide in police custody at the Industrial Area police station.

An internal probe was ordered into the incident of alleged thrashing of a shopkeeper by the then ASP Madur Verma (sub-divisional police officer, central), despite the fact that the complainant continued to demand shifting of inquiry to some independent agency like the CBI.

The ASP was, however, given a clean chit in the incident that took place in February, last year.

Narinder Singh, a sub-inspector of the Chandigarh police, was sentenced to seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs 20,000 after a local court held him guilty in November for custodial death of a 21-year-old youth.

In fact, 48 police personnel had been given major punishments, including dismissal of 13 police personnel from service, apart from 139 others minor punishments awarded for misconduct or abuse of authority during last year.

In January, 2008, the then SHO of the police station-31 Har Sahai Sharma along with two other policemen were placed under suspension for death of a Hallo Majra resident, who escaped from police custody and died.

Even a case was registered into the incident and a departmental probe was held, which later gave clean chit to the SHO.

A case of murder was later registered on the basis of the magisterial probe.

Similarly, in the suicide by horse-cart driver Inderjit Singh of Colony No. 4 in the Industrial Area police station on July 28, 2008, a departmental probe was initiated and the next day the SHO of the police station along with four policemen was placed under suspension.

The victim family had earlier accused the police of torturing Inderjit. The probe was ended after the victim’s family withdrew the complaint.



11 deaths in 3 months on airport to Sec 47 road
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
With 11 deaths in the first three months this year, the six-lane stretch, entering the UT near the airport and touching Mohali near Sector 47, has emerged as a killer stretch for commuters.

The figures are high going by the total 31 deaths on the city roads, during the same period.

On the entire stretch, six persons were killed on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway section from the Airport Traffic Lights Point to Iron Chowk near the Sector-32 Government Medical College and Hospital, which is less than five km.

The route from the Tribune Chowk via Kalibari Temple Turn to the Faidan Barrier is among the most accident-prone.

It caters to long route buses heading to the Sector-43 ISBT. The stretch has several curves and a gurdwara near Sector 47, which is on the road.

This particular portion of roads, approximately 500 metres, has deep trenches making the motorists vulnerable. The section has poor illumination.

Giving reason behind such a high number of mishaps on these roads, the SHO of the Sector-31 Police Station inspector Bhupinder Singh said, the Chandigarh-Ambala has a high volume of traffic coming to the city, as the road cuts through the Phase-I and Phase-II of the Industrial Area, a large number of labourers, cyclists, etc cross the road.

Analysis of the figures available with the accident cell pointed that majority of the accidents in the city took place on the V2 roads (margs) and the inter-sector roads. As many as 31 persons have lost their lives so far, while another 119 persons were left seriously injured in the road accidents. Last year 170 persons were killed and other 319 were seriously injured in mishaps.

The UT traffic police had identified six accidents prone points in the city last year, including the Traffic Lights Point near Colony No. 5, crossing on the road separating Sectors 51 and 52, parts of Shanti Path, Vikas Marg (from elevated railway track to the Grain Market Chowk in Sector 39), railway station near Daria village and Madhya Marg from the Transport Light Point to Fun Republic.

DSP (Traffic) Vijay Kumar said they had taken up the issue with the engineering departments after identifying the faults on the route.

The police had sent reminders to the authorities to clear the road of any obstacles and to construct a bridge near Faidan barrier.

The DSP added that the police routinely setup special nakas to check over-speeding and drunken driving on the road.



Don’t bite into that ripe mango!
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Mango, the ‘king of fruits’, has been making incursions into the city’s market for about a fortnight now, but prices are still to come down to levels where those stop hurting the common man’s pocket.

There is a secret behind the sweetness of this fruit: it has been ripened in the city using chemicals before being sold in the market.

Inaction of the health department in this regard has put at stake the health of lakhs of people, who consume the fruit without realising the danger involved.

As the ban on the use of such chemicals is being flouted with impunity, city residents have been complaining of mouth ulcer, gastric irritation, sore throat and food poisoning in some cases.

So common is the practice that shopkeepers at the Grain Market in Sector 26 are brazen about it. Speaking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Vishal Arora, a fruit-seller there, says he uses ‘masala’ to ripen the mangoes.

“The mangoes that come in are green and unripe. We have to ripen those quickly to sell those. The only way to do it is by putting a small piece of carbide, wrapped in paper, in a box of mangoes,” he explains.

Many people have suffered mouth ulcer after eating mangoes. Ashok Pandey says, “After having eaten two slices of mango, I felt severe pain in my mouth. Someone told me that this was due to the chemicals still clinging to the outer layer. The ulcers got cured after two days, but I did suffer a great deal of pain.”

The main cause of this is stated to be the chemicals used to ripen the fruit. Improper washing of fruit leads to ulcer.

Sometimes, chemicals permeate through thick skin of fruits like banana and papaya, which can cause a burning sensation on the tongue.

A survey conducted by the Chandigarh Tribune has revealed that in many areas, dealers have set up small shelters, where the process of ripening of fruits like banana and mango is repeated almost every day with the help of the banned chemical.

The survey has also revealed that calcium carbide, commonly known as ‘masala’ or potash, is banned the world over and it even banned for use in laboratories.

The chemical is available openly at shops selling plastic bags for dealers. Anybody can visit such a shop and ask for the chemical in as much quantity as one requires.

A fruit-seller who uses it regularly to ripen banana says it is so reactive that it causes blisters if touched unknowingly and emanates a strong gas if kept in the sun.

“It is dangerous to handle calcium carbide and acetylene because of their explosive properties. Calcium carbide causes blisters if touched unknowingly with wet hands,” says Dr Vikram Singh, a horticulturist.

He says it is kept in small packets near banana piles for around a day. He knows that the chemical is banned, but says there is no check on it. He has been using it for the past several years, but has never faced any trouble.

The health department is supposed to check the use of chemical agents to ripen fruit and dealers have been using those, but no raids have been conducted for years.



Cement scam scalps 2 firms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The municipal corporation has blacklisted Sarpriya building products and with K Sood engineers for the next five years in connection with the cement scam, that hogged front pages of local dailies for the past week.

All related contractors on the list have been blacklisted for undertaking any new projects of the corporation. Contractors under question will complete the projects of the corporation they are handling at the moment.

MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria said, “This time, we have taken strict action against contractors to set an example before others.” A majority of the corporation’s development projects were behind schedule.

The corporation had approved a far greater number of projects than could actually be implemented. Massive staff shortage had hit implementation.

Last year, the house had approved programme agendas for Rs 17 crore. At the same time, the authorities had shown their helplessness in undertaking development works of more than Rs 8 crore. Work on most projects approved a year ago was yet to start.

Dr Sunkaria had requested the house, on a number of occasions, not to approve agenda items without keeping staff availability in view. Ignoring him, councillors were in a race to get agenda items of their respective areas approved to impress their vote banks.



Sector-63 draw of lots on April 7
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Finally after two years, the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) is all set to hold the draw of lots of Sector 63 under the housing scheme on April 7.

Though the scheme was launched nearly two years ago, it was delayed due to long drawn procedural wrangling.

The delay in the draw of lots had earned the board a lot of negative publicity.

At the time of the launch of the scheme, the Punjab government had staked claim over a chunk of land that adjoins Mohali, but UT architecture department reportedly objected to the layout plan and “faulty design” of the flats under various categories.

These were giving more coverage of the floor area ratio for constructing more than the required flats, leaving less space between different blocks and absence of the greenbelt. Besides, several openings on the V-3 road were another irritant, as only one opening was allowed under the rules.

Due to the objections raised by the department, the board was forced to revise the layout plan. However, in the backdrop of the land dispute with Punjab, the board was apparently forced to increase the floors to six instead of the advertised four.

It was only a few months ago that the board was able to get the mandatory environment clearance.

Under the scheme there are 1,804 flats, of which 84 have already allotted under the assured allotment scheme.

For 1,804 flats, the CHB had received 21,587 applications, out of which 3,420 remained after the preliminary draw of lots. The scheme has 275 two-bedroom flats, 756 three-bedroom flats, 484 one-bedroom and 289 EWS houses. The price fixed for the three bedrooms flat is Rs 39.57 lakh, two- bedrooms are available at Rs 29.14 lakh, one bedrooms are available at Rs 17.15 lakh, followed by EWS houses priced at Rs 5.66 lakh.



Online filing of IT returns is in
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
With more people opting to file their income tax (IT) returns online, there has been a considerable decline of 8.6 per cent in manual filing of returns.

According to figures available with the income tax department from CIT-I (ranges I, II and III), about 95,569 assesses filed their IT returns manually, as compared to 1,11,426 assesses in the last financial year.

Manual returns in CIT-II (ranges IV, V and VI) also showed a decline, with 1,52,927 opting for this, as compared to 1,58,546 in the last financial year.

During the last assessment year, the IT department had received e-returns, but a majority of those were corporate assesses. Only about 1,000 individuals had gone in for e-filing.

Commissioner of Income Tax (II) AK Kaushal attributed the decline in manual filing of returns to electronic filing of income tax returns.

He said the total figure of assesees from the region would be available only after the data of e-filing was segregated by the centralised computer department.

“This is an encouraging response. More people are filing returns online, which shows better compliance of tax laws,” an Additional Commissioner of Income Tax said.



Licences of 100 hawkers renewed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The municipal corporation has renewed licences of 100 hawkers by charging Rs 1,600 each from them under the Chandigarh Handcart Control and Regulation Bylaws, 1989, and Bylaws of Hawkers, 1961.

The corporation had revised the annual licence fee of hawkers from Rs 900 to Rs 1,600 last year.

There were 400 hawkers in the city who got licences from the UT estate office in 1990 by paying Rs 50 as site fee per month and Rs 300 as annual fee.

In 2005, the administration had asked the corporation to revise fee rates as it had been fixed a long time back.

The corporation had then enhanced the site fee to Rs 100 per month and the annual licence fee to Rs 400.



Conveyance Deed
Registration allowed at allotment price
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 2
In a major relief to hundreds of re-allottees of residential property, allotted by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA), the financial commissioner (revenue), Punjab, has allowed registration of conveyance deeds (CDs) at allotment price.

This means that irrespective of the fact that a plot has been sold several times, the buyer can get the CD registered at the allotment price. Earlier, only the first re-allottee was allowed registration of the CD at allotment price. “We have been fighting for the waiver for a long time,” said Manoj Aggarwal, president of the Joint Action Committee of All Resident Welfare Association.

Apart from the waiver for re-allottees, the deadline to get the CD registered has been extended to June 30. The previous deadline had expired on March 31.

In the notification issued by the financial commissioner (revenue), it has been mentioned that the condition of whole of payment of the property within three months from the date of payment of the last instalment has been mentioned.

It may be mentioned that last year the notification had benefited limited allottees as the special waiver of allowing the conveyance deed at the allotment price was applicable to the first buyer from the original allottee of the plot and not to the subsequent buyers. The first buyer has been allowed to make the full and final payment before going for the conveyance deed.



Reckless felling of trees, illegal sand quarrying
Forest officials cite jurisdiction as excuse
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 2
Following exposure of the reckless felling of trees and illegal sand quarrying in the Ropar forest division, forest officials have begun passing the buck citing jurisdiction as the excuse.

While the junior staff of the forest department posted in the Kharar range claim that the steadily deforested area falls in Majra village, their counterpart in Siswan range assert that the area is instead located in Parol.

Peeved over the controversy, the committee inquiring into the wanton felling of a large number of sheesham, khair and kikkar trees has now been asked to get the area demarcated to ascertain the jurisdiction of the ‘no man’s land’.

The range officer of Kharar, Anil Kumar, said a major part of the area was located in Majra village. His assertion, however, is countered by his Siswan range counterpart, Randhir Singh Chakkal, who said the area was located in Parol as part of what they described to be ‘Nagal beat’. “The gram panchayats of Parol and Majra will endorse what I am saying,” he added.

Baldev Singh, the forest guard of the Parol- Nagal area, who has been suspended, had a different story to tell. Claiming to have been targeted, he said his area was located in and around Majra village. But then his counterpart, Ravinder, refuted this saying that the area formed part of ‘Nagal beat’. “I have remained posted there and I know it is located in Parol. Revenue officials can ascertain the truth,” he said.

If Baldev Singh is to be believed, both politicians and bureaucrats were using their influence in the area. “I was after the sand quarrying mafia and have recovered Rs 5 lakh as fine from people who form part of the illegal sand quarrying and tree felling mafia during the past one year. My predecessors have never recovered so much fine. I challenge the department to carry out demarcation of the area,” said Baldev Singh.

Joining the issue, residents of Majra village have submitted written representations to the forest department asserting that the area in question is located in Majra village and it adjoined both Parol and Hoshiarpur villages.

The residents have further stated that influential persons have encroached upon a large chunk of land out of the total 114 acres of panchayat land of their village.

Divisional forest officer (territorial), Ropar, K Kannan, admitted that the issue of jurisdiction had cropped up during the investigation into the felling case. “We have asked the inquiry committee to ascertain the jurisdiction in the next two days so that further course of action could be decided,” he added.

No man’s land

The area in question seems to be no man’s land where anyone can walk off with wood and sand. While officials argue over jurisdiction, the issue of reckless felling and uprooting of trees appears to have been lost in the controversy. Both tree felling and illegal sand quarrying must have been going on for over a month and no one seems to have noticed



Hostage Drama
Powermen raise slogans against XEN
Say he had ditched them at the time of crisis
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 2
Even before the tussle between the powermen and the residents of Saketri village over the hostage drama could be resolved, the board employees turned their tables on their own XEN alleging that he was adopting dual policy on the issue.

The protesting powermen raised slogans against XEN PK Goel saying that he had ditched them at the time of crisis. Powermen were on agitation since March 26 when board employees, including two SDOs, junior engineers and several linemen, were held hostage by residents and were freed after five hours on the intervention of the police and the administration.

However, PK Goel said there must be some misunderstanding among his employees, as he could not take any decision without taking them into confidence. He said he was on the side of his employees and misunderstanding, if any, would be removed.

State president of the HSEB Employees Union Kanwar Singh Yadav said the XEN had tried to mislead the union by organising a meeting of foreman Kanta Parshad and members of another defunct union with gram panchayat members. He said when they questioned the XEN about this he told them that he would seek clarification about this later.

Yadav said the residents of Saketri village, led by Sunil Bansal, brother of the local MLA, had come in the morning for a compromise over the issue.

He said they had told them in clear terms that they (board employees) were ready for any compromise after the villagers returned the video camera and LLM, which was issued in the name of the board employees concerned.

Meanwhile, Mahima Singh, one of the defaulters in the power theft case in Saketri village, deposited Rs 42,000 as penalty with the electricity department.



Tipper driver killed in accident
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 2
A driver while inspecting the front wheel of his tipper was killed when another tipper hit the vehicle from behind just few yards from the Nada Sahib bridge on the National Highway No. 73 here today.

However, the unidentified accused driver, escaped from the scene immediately along with his truck.

According to an eyewitness, the victim, identified as Sandeep, was inspecting some possible fault near the front left wheel of his bitumen laden tipper (HR 45A 09894) when another tipper came and hit his vehicle from behind. After hearing his shrieks the other workers present at the site tried to push back the heavy loaded vehicle in order to save him.

Though one of the by-passers got seated on the driver’s seat and pulled back the vehicle, by the time the driver had received severe injuries on his head, which caused his death on the spot due to excessive loss of blood.

Sandeep (35) was working for a private road construction company. The victim was waiting for his turn to unload the bitumen on the NH 73 where the construction work was going on when the accident took place.

The police immediately reached the site and sent the body to the General Hospital for the postmortem. 



Housing board seeks forfeiture of Rs 517 crore from Parsvnath
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh,April 2
In a development that may push the relations between the Chandigarh Housing Board(CHB) and the Parsvnath over the high-end township - Prideasia - in IT Park here to a point of no return, as the former has sought the forfeiture of Rs 517 crore for the developer’s inability to comply with terms and conditions of the Memorandum of Understanding(MoU).

The board’s stand, which has been made clear in the defence claim filed by the CHB, would be taken up before a meeting of the arbitrators in the Prideasia case - Justice DP Wadhwa, Justice Amar Dutt and Justice SC Aggarwal- in Chandigarh on April 8.

Terming the payment clause as the “essence of the agreement”, the board has alleged that even after three years of the possession of land the real estate giant had failed to construct the dwelling units. Besides, the ambitious slum resettlement project of the Chandigarh Administration, which was to be partly financed from the proceeds from the project, had been delayed on account of the default by the Parsvnath.

Recently, the CHB served another ‘default notice’ on Parsvnath asking the latter to deposit Rs 317 crore, the amount that the latter had been defaulting on for several months. Reacting quickly, the realtor questioned the very locus standi of the board in demanding the money as the arbitrators had already been appointed.

In fact the project appeared to be jinxed since October 6, 2006 when the project agreement between the CHB and Parsvnath was signed. Parsvnath had only paid Rs 517 crore as the first installment. It has been defaulting on the remaining amount on the plea that CHB had failed to provide ‘encumbrance-free’ land and delayed approval of the project’s building plans.

To settle "outstanding issues" between themselves Parsvnath and the CHB had earlier appointed justices DP Wadhawa and Amar Dutt as arbitrators, respectively, under the "nominee clause" under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. Later, a third neutral arbitrator - justice SC Aggarwal - was appointed.

Parsvnath had bagged the housing project, spread over an area of 123 acre, in 2006 by placing the highest bid of Rs 821 crore. A 30 per cent share in the sale of the residential property in the project, pegged at Rs 1,600 crore, was to go to the CHB.

The project in the sprawling Rajiv Gandhi IT Park was in the news for the high prices of the apartments, with a one bedroom flat costing about Rs 52 lakh and a ‘villa’ going at an astounding Rs 6 crore.

Consumer court order

The Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum on Thursday directed Parsvnath and the CHB to jointly refund an amount of Rs 10 lakh, besides Rs 50,000 as compensation and Rs 5,000 as litigation costs, to the Sector 8 residents. Sudhir Sagar and Archana Sagar had moved the consumer court, alleging non-possession of flat and deficiency in service.



Rehabilitation of Colonies
Can MC do it with staff crunch?
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The million dollars question is will the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation be able to manage all rehabilitation colonies with the sanctioned budget of Rs 13.50 for the current year? The Chandigarh administration is under the process of transferring all colonies to the Municipal Corporation without providing any staff and funds.

As per records, there are at present two colonies - Mauli Jagran and Sector 52 - under the corporation and the UT Estate Office and the Chandigarh Housing Board maintain the remaining 16 colonies. Sources revealed that according to the official communiqué from the administration on April 1, the corporation had been asked as to whether it had appointed staff for handling the rehabilitation colonies to be shifted under its jurisdiction soon.

Sources in the administration stated that the process of transferring the colonies, due to begin in December last, had been delayed due to disagreement over terms and conditions between the administration and the corporation. The sources said that UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar had issued directions to the corporation that all colonies would be transferred to it without additional staff and extra funds for maintaining them. Thereafter, MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria sent a reply to the administration that as the corporation was already facing staff crunch so it would not be possible for it to handle additional responsibility of 16 colonies without funds and staff. The sources stated that due to wrangle, the decision of transfer of colonies was deferred till March 31.

The sources in the corporation pointed out that rather than recruiting staff, the MC authorities were in the process of sending back all ministerial staff that had opted to go back to the administration, and resultantly the corporation was facing huge shortage of staff. With no extra staff and funds how would the MC be able to manage more colonies is a big question mark.

Under the rehabilitation scheme, 18 colonies had been established at 25 places. Out of these, 13 were with the estate office, 10 with the Chandigarh Housing Board and two with the MC. According to a biometric survey by the estate office, a total of 23,841 families were staying in the colonies.



‘Art creates another reality’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
Art is a channel for social change.DS Kapoor, principal, Government College of Art, in his talk on "Keeping Culture Alive", organised by the First Friday Forum here today said art was a way of expressing one's feelings, of creating a beautiful "something" that enriches others.

It has been for centuries a way of manipulating masses and human ethics and world of the art creates another reality, Kapoor added.

SS Bhatti, founder of the forum, urged the powers-that-be to work in tandem with various professionals to keep culture alive. The civilisation mirrors our concerns and collective creativity, he added.



Role of X-rays in neuroimaging stressed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
The two-day course on neuroradiology, including head and neck imaging, organised by the department of radiodiagnosis and imaging, started at the Bhargava auditorium of the PGI here today.

It was organised under the auspices of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Maulana Azad Medical College, and the PGI.

The course was inaugurated by PGI director KK Talwar. Prof N Khandelwal, head of the radiodiagnosis and imaging department of the PGI and chairperson of the course and Prof Veena Chowdhury, director, GB Pant Hospital and head of radiodiagnosis department at Maulana Azad Medical College, highlighted the background and objective of the course.

Prof Amod Gupta, sub dean, PGI, and guest of honour released the third edition of the book “Neuroradiology, including Head and Neck Imaging” edited by Dr N Khandelwal, Dr Arun Kumar Gupta and Dr Veena Chowdhury, heads of radiodiagnosis department of PGI, AIIMS and MAMC, respectively.

The scientific session included lectures on neuroanatomy, advances in neuroimaging, tumor imaging and imaging of infections. Prof N Khandelwal stressed the role of plain skull X-rays in neuroimaging. He also spoke on MR spectroscopy in which the role of detecting metabolites in diagnosing various pathologies of the brain was explained. Dr Paramjeet Singh, organising secretary of the course, delivered a lecture on advances in MRI neuroimaging techniques, including the utility of 3T MRI.

Dr Shailesh Gaikwad and Dr Ajay Garg from AIIMS talked about the role of imaging in diagnosing tumors of the brain and the spine. Scientific exhibits dealing with diagnostic and interventional aspects of neuroradiology were displayed throughout the day outside the auditorium.

A quiz on neuroradiology was also organised for the delegates. The day concluded with a brain storming film reading session conducted by Dr N Khandelwal and Dr Paramjeet Singh.



Placement drive at PU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 2
As many as 569 students and 16 companies participated in the Jobfest at Panjab University here today.The fest, which was organised by ABVP and Orion consultants, witnessed participation of companies like finance, IT, electronics, electrical engineering, pharmaceuticals and food processing industries.

The fest that started at 9 am saw students coming from all corners of the tri-city and even regional centres of the PU.

As many as 100 students were shortlisted.



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