C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Now, burglars’ night out
Strike at 11 shops; over Rs 8 lakh lost
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
After a spate of daylight robberies at gunpoint for two consecutive days, burglars struck at 11 shops in different parts of the city and decamped with over Rs 3.31 lakh in cash, along with goods worth about Rs 5 lakh, including cosmetics worth Rs 2 lakh, a laptop, a computer, three DVDs, several electrical appliances and silver coins.

The burglaries were committed in the city even as the Chandigarh police was supposedly on high alert, with senior officers having instructed the entire force, including all sub-divisional police officers, station house officers, those in charge of police posts and other wings of the police, to conduct searches and intensify patrolling across the city.

The burglars were captured on close-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed at two shops, Onkar Marketing Cosmetic Mall in Sector 24 and a supermarket in Sector 7.

Investigating officers were trying to establish their identities. A police officer said it appeared from both the footage and the modus operandi that the burglars were members of the same gang.

Ravinder Singh Billa, owner of the cosmetic mall in Sector 24, said three burglars drove up to his shop in a Hyundai Accent at 1:38 am, according to the CCTV footage.

After breaking open the locks, they entered the shop at 2:01 am. They spent 17 minutes at his shop, during which they broke open the cash box, searched the premises and ran off with the booty, comprising Rs 42,000 in cash, two cartons of lipstick (400 pieces) worth Rs 2 lakh, a laptop and a computer. They also tried to remove an LCD from a wall.

The same burglars proceeded to another shop in the same sector, on the first floor of SCO 7, and broke open the locks. They did not steal anything from there.

They then went to National Traders Cement Distributor, also at SCO 7, from where they stole an inverter, its battery, Rs 1,500 and some silver coins.

The fourth incident occurred around 4:38 am (as per CCTV footage) at the RLCR-7 Super Mall, SCO 7, Sector 7.

The owner, Rajiv Kumar, said the burglars stole around Rs 7,000 from the shop after breaking open the locks.

Surinderjit Singh, owner of National Traders, Sector 7, and Renu Verma of Pesticide and Chemical-cum-Frontier Company, Sector 7, reported that Rs 2,000 and Rs 25,000 were stolen from their

respective offices.

In Sector 26, BK Aggarwal, owner of Amrit Electrical Private Limited, reported that Rs 1.5 lakh and electrical appliances worth Rs 40,000 were stolen after breaking open locks of the shop.

Rakesh Dua of Dua Ply Palace and Vikram Aggarwal of Aggarwal Distributors, who had shops in the same row on Madhya Marg, reported that Rs 2,000 and Rs 20,000 were stolen from their respective shops.

Harish Kumar, owner of Nand Auto, SCF 27, Sector 27, reported that spare parts worth Rs 20,000 were stolen from his shop last night.

Sanjay Bhalla, operating from SCO 111, Sector 47, reported that three DVDs and Rs 12,000 were stolen from his shop on the night of April 19.



Admn to clean N-choe before June 30
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Less than a month after The Tribune raised a storm over sanitation concerns going down the drain, the Chandigarh Administration today undertook to clean the “N-choe” before June 30. Approximately Rs 11.92 lakh is being spent on the project.

In an affidavit submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Administration asserted: “Complete stretch of the N-choe in the region of the UT boundary will be fully de-weeded and cleaned before June 30, i.e. before the onset of the monsoons in the region.”

“Sufficient arrangements will also be made available during the monsoon season to clear the blockage due to the falling of trees, uprooting of bushes etc., which cause obstruction in the natural flow.”

The affidavit of municipal corporation chief engineer SS Bida, placed before Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Jasbir Singh, says: Some sewage and sullage discharge from Nehru Colony, Rehabilitation Colony, Housing Board Colony of Sector 52, and some discharge of sewage of Kajheri village, is finding its way to the N-choe, as outfall sewer near V-4 road of Sector 52 is at a higher level since its inception and taking over by the municipal corporation, Chandigarh. “Since the outfall sewer is at a higher level, pumping is required to dispose of collected sewage in N-choe. A temporary solution has been found by obstructing the flow in N-choe under the bridge on V-4 road of Sector 52, and pumping of obstructed sewage into the existing sewer at higher level since last six months.”

The affidavit filed through Chandigarh’s senior standing counsel Sanjay Kaushal adds: “In order to find permanent and suitable solution, a technical expert group, comprising four engineers, has been constituted vide order dated April 19 to suggest remedial measures for permanent solution of the problem of Rehabilitation Colony, Housing Board Colony and Kajheri village.”

The members are former chief engineer with Haryana PWD RK Trehan, superintending engineer RK Goyal, executive engineers AK Duggal and VK Garg.

“The technical expert group will suggest permanent and suitable solution of the problem of Rehabilitation Colony, Housing Board Colony, village and colony area of Kajheri and colony number 5. After getting the report, it will be implemented in a time-bound manner”, the affidavit says.

Kaushal also told the court that “estimate for work of de-weeding of N-choe passing through Sector 3, 10, 16, 23, 36, 42, 53, 52, 51 and 50 at Chandigarh for 2010-11 amounting to Rs 11.92 lakh has been processed to chief engineer UT”.

It was added in pursuance to the previous order, "waste/sewerage water” of as many as 18 buildings and places “has been directed to nearby sewerage lines at various locations in Chandigarh @by the Municipal Corporation”.

The places are: Punjab mini-secretariat, CDA building, Mountview Hotel, some parts of the PGI, Jagat Theatre, market and offices near KC cinema, Taj hotel, Sector 17 bridge market, Sector 22 market, Sector 22 dhobi ghat, Yatri Niwas, J & K Colony, EWS Houses, Sector 37-A houses, Shahpur Colony Sector 38-West, Attawa village, Dadumajra colony and Palosra village.

The news-report in these columns was directed to be treated as a public interest litigation.

The Chief Justice had observed: Le Corbusier, who planned the City Beautiful, wanted to retain the water body to keep the residents of the city in contact with nature.

“The choe is a seasonal rivulet and the water flowing through it without there being rains for long makes one curious about the origin of water flowing through it.”



PGI orders internal probe
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Faced with allegations of “harassment and stress” by parents of the junior resident, Dr Naginder Reddy, who died under mysterious circumstances on Sunday, the Director of the PGI today ordered an “internal inquiry” into the circumstances relating to the death of the young medico from Bangalore.

The inquiry will be conducted by a two-member committee comprising Dr Savita Malhotra (psychiatry department) and Dr Rajinder (surgery department). The latter is also warden of the Resident Doctors Hostel (Kairon Block) from where the doctor allegedly jumped to death from the fourth floor. Several of Naginder’s batch mates are also likely to be involved in this inquiry.

While senior PGI officials were unwilling to come on record, they confirmed that PGI Director, Dr KK Talwar, had ordered the probe this afternoon.

Meanwhile, inquiries made by The Tribune from various sources in the ENT and Blood Transfusion departments revealed that Dr Reddy had been undergoing treatment for ear ailment and had been detected with over 40 per cent hearing loss. Sources close to the deceased doctor revealed that three days before his death, Dr Reddy had been advised an internal ear implant to enhance his impaired hearing. While no one from the ENT was willing to be quoted, a source close to Dr Reddy confirmed that the junior resident doctor had a hearing impairment.

CFSL to access info from laptop

With the cyber crime investigation cell (CCIC) of the Chandigarh Police failing to crack the password of Dr Nagendra Reddy’s laptop, the police will send it to the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory (CFSL) in Sector 36 to get clues which may shed light on the reasons leading to his death.

SHO of the Sector 11 police station inspector Sukhpal Rana said the CCIC do not have the expertise and the facilities to crack the password. The investigators sent the laptop to the CFSL on Tuesday for cracking the password and accessing the information stored in the laptop. The CSSL had returned the laptop, asking the investigators to provide them a hard disc along with the laptop for examination.

The SHO said they complete the requisite formalities and would send the laptop to the CFSL scientists at the earliest.

As Dr Nagendra’s parents had been claming that their son could not commit suicide and he was being harassed by his seniors, the police said it would probe the death from all possible angles to find out the reason leading to the death of Dr Nagendra.

Nagendra’s father Ayappa Reddy met the UT Inspector-General of Police yesterday seeking a fair probe into the matter. Nagendra had died under mysterious circumstances on Monday after he fell from the fourth of the PGI’s Kairon Block.



MBBS: ‘Bachelor of malt, bachelor of spirits’
41.5% of medicos suffer from problem drinking
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The image that instantly comes to mind of an MBBS (bachelor of medicine, bachelor of surgery) student is that of a studious and hardworking, perhaps bespectacled, young person who spends most of his or her time buried in thick books and slogging hard to become a doctor. They are perceived to be a notch above others as they are considered to be the healers of tomorrow and certainly unlike many happy-go-lucky yuppie college kids who might be drowning their evenings in the bottle.

However, this image is seems to be far from reality. A recently published study of a team of doctors of the city-based Government Medical College & Hospital shows that 71.95 per cent of the MBBS students have been hitting the bottle soon after admission to medical colleges. The study, ‘Patterns of alcohol consumption in medical students’, conducted by Dr BS Chavan, head of the hospital’s psychiatry department, and his team comprising Dr Gurvinder Pal Singh, Dr Ekta Bansal and Dr Ashish Garg, shows that alcohol was a “frequently used” substance among students with 41.46 per cent of them showing a pattern of “problem drinking”.

Elaborating on this, Chavan told The Tribune that problem drinking can be described as consumption of liquor “at a wrong time, at a wrong place” - in other words, drinking even during the day and on college premises.

The study also revealed that 6.09 percent of students were alcoholics and 47.56 percent were consuming alcohol in large quantities of over 90 ml per day. The study was conducted among 152 male MBBS students and across three medical colleges - GMCH, Sector 32, Government Medical College, Patiala and Government Medical College, Amritsar.

Chavan said 71.95 percent of the respondents had been initiated into drinking after getting admission into the MBBS course. He said almost one-third of the respondents (37.5 per cent) were found to be clinically depressed or experiencing psychiatric disturbances and drank liquor with greater frequency.

Stating that alcohol abuse among medical students should be taken very seriously since their own attitude towards substances may influence their professional behaviour, Chavan said the study had revealed behavioural disturbances. He said 30.49 per cent of the students had met with accidents after drinking while 45.12 per cent had admitted to troublesome behaviour.

Interestingly, when contacted, a second-year MBBS student at GMCH in Sector 32 confirmed that drinking was rampant among medical students. “We are graduates in malt and spirits too”, he quipped light heartedly. So, is it cheers for future doctors? 

Ragging still prevalent

Significantly, the report has also found that first-year MBBS students (or freshers) were still being subjected to ragging. The study discovered that senior students often ridiculed those male students who were either or both teetotalers and did not have a girlfriend. “They are told that they lack qualities for a physician if they do not drink and smoke,” said Dr Chavan, adding alcohol consumption is a common culture in medical colleges located in the northern region and that senior students were usually responsible for initiating and inculcating drinking habits among first-year students


Drizzle brings relief
City records maximum temperature of 38.5° C and a minimum of 25.6° C
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Light rain early this morning brought relief to city residents and to people of neighbouring states Punjab and Haryana.According to meteorological department, the city received 0.6 mm of rain. The maximum temperature recorded was 38.5° C and minimum temperature was 25.6° C.

The residents enjoyed the first rain of the month with black clouds hovering in the evening.

"Spells of rainfall and thunderstorms are expected in different parts of the city in the next 24 to 48 hours. This is due to the western disturbances in northern plains," said an official in the meteorological department.

The showers brought down the temperature in the morning to 28.6° C, and at noon the temperature was recorded 32.2° C.

The respite came as the city-dwellers were reeling under scorching heat and power cuts coupled with water shortage.

"It was a much-needed relief from the unbearable heat," said Kamla Rastogi, a tourist from Jaipur.

Farmers in Sector 39 grain market seemed worried and said it would be good if the sky became clear by tomorrow. “Clouds have become a cause of concern for us now. We want them to disappear soon”, said Gurdarshan Singh, a wheat grower from Kharar.

Reports of light rain have come from almost all districts in Punjab. Rain in various parts of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh was said to be moderate. It is the second time that certain parts of this region have received light rain in the past 72 hours.

Met officials have also forecasted dust storms or thunderstorms with light rain at a few places in Punjab and Haryana.

Hailstorms or thunder squalls with wind speed exceeding 45 kmph are likely to occur at isolated places in the region. 



Panchkula-Barwala road high on mishaps
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 21
The Panchkula-Barwala road continues to be a killer stretch as more than six persons lost their lives and 10 were critically wounded in three different accidents that occurred during the past two weeks on the National Highway (Number 73).

During 2009-10 (April 1, 2009 till March 31, 2010), at least 54 persons lost their lives, while 84 persons were seriously injured in accidents on the Panchkula-Raipur Rani stretch. During the year 2008-09, the stretch witnessed 46 casualties.

Accidents on the Panchkula-Kalka highway doubled last year compared to 2008-2009. At least 48 persons died and 52 were injured in different accidents last year. In 2008-09, 21 persons lost their lives and 33 were critically wounded.

More than 59,216 persons were challaned during 2008-09, while last year, as many as 36,310 challans were issued.

Even though the district police had asked for putting up road dividers at strategic points on the 36 km Panchkula-Raipur Rani stretch, nothing has been done by the departments concerned.

The main causes of accidents were attributed to rash driving and driving under the influence of liquor. Police department and residents living in villages on both sides of the national highway were of the view that accidents would decrease in the area after the four-laning of the NH-73.

Superintendent of Police Maneesh Chaudhary said nearly 40 Home Guard jawans had been posted at various strategic points on the national highway to check rash driving and traffic violations. He said nakas had been set up various points to challan those who were found to be violating traffic rules.

He said his department would also take up the issue of putting up road dividers at strategic points on the Panchkula-Raipur Rani road with the engineering wing of the district administration so that the number of accidents could be brought down.



Is grading better than scoring system?
Pradeep sharma

Grading will create healthy learning environment

Navita Singh Too much importance is being given to marks in our country. Marks have been used as a measure of a student's academic achievement. Education reforms are long overdue. Thankfully, the Centre has initiated this process now. The criticism to these reforms is quite natural and more out of apprehension.

The Class X CBSE exam has been replaced by a nine-point grading system, ranging from the lowest D2 to the highest A1. Students getting grades below D2 do not get a qualifying certificate but get five chances to improve their performance. The term 'fail' or 'compartment' will no longer be used as it carries a social stigma, besides the student being branded a failure for life. His self-esteem suffers an irreparable damage, and at times, drives him to taking an extreme step like committing suicide.

The grading system will be based on a continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) in the form of formative and summative assessments. The formative assessment will evaluate the classwork, homework, assignments and project work. The summative assessment will be in the form of term-end exams. This system is better as the grades will not be based only on one exam but on the performance throughout the year. So, the fear that the new system will promote mediocrity is quite baseless.

The system will remove the fear and stress associated with marks and exams and help in creating an enjoyable learning environment. This will encourage students to discover their creativity and talent, which was stifled by the earlier system.

The grading system will eliminate the cutthroat competition and create a healthy environment for learning. The peers will become partners, rather than rivals, in the learning process. With more assignments and project work, the students will be able to explore, discover and learn a lot more than merely memorising from textbooks. The emphasis will now be not only on theory but also on practical knowledge. Many of these projects will be in groups, which will teach the students how to work together as a team. Presentations and discussions would also boost their self-confidence and hone their communication skills.

In a nutshell, the grading system will remove pressure, create a healthy learning environment, save many precious lives lost due to the inability to cope and perform, and produce creative and confident personalities ready to face the challenges of the world.

— Navita Singh is an architect

Has many deficiencies

Desh Raj Thakral The grading system is not the panacea for all ills afflicting the education system. There is nothing wrong with the current scoring system as all great politicians, scientists, educationists and businessmen are the products of the same system.

It’s the survival of fittest in this world and the marks are better criteria to judge the intelligence and ability of the students. With the question papers becoming more objective and the assessments periodic, the scoring system scores over the grading pattern.

Though the CBSE has introduced grading system, there is still a lot of confusion over its implementation in schools. I think the decision to introduce the grading system had been taken in hurry. A nationwide debate should have been held in the run-up to the implementation of the decision.

The continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) in a way is complementary to present traditional system of giving scores. Already, the emphasis is more on regular assessments and not one-time examination to test the IQ level of students. These very facts are argued in favour of the grading system.

With the Indian education system in a mess, there is great scope for the CCE system being manipulated by the vested interests.

To my mind, the CCE system leaves much discretion at the level of teachers and evaluators. With a substantial number of schools in rural and semi-urban areas without any facilities for the sports and extra-curricular activities, the fate of the grades in non-academic activities will hang in balance.

The deficiencies of the grading system will come to the fore in the next couple of years at the time of admission to the professional courses - both through open competition and through marks/grades in the last academic examination. How would grades qualify the students for admission to professional courses?

We need to stem the rot that has set in the education system. Piecemeal measures like replacing the scoring system with grade system will not be of any help. We need to treat the disease not the symptoms.

Let there be a nationwide debate on the education reforms before we experiment with new decisions in the education system. The involvement of a cross-section of the society, including educationists and students, who are the main stakeholders in the education system, is a must for taking any decision on the education system.

— Desh Raj Thakral is an entrepreneur-turned-educationist 



Blood donation camp by Abhinav Bindra Foundation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
In a bid to help the needy, Abhinav Bindra has come forward with starting his foundation.The Abhinav Bindra Foundation will not only groom the talent in sports arena, but also focus on healthcare and education sectors to provide facilities to have-nots.

“The people of the country shower love and adulation upon me, now it’s time to give something back”, said the ace shooter, while inaugurating the foundation’s first blood donation camp at Sector 35 here this morning.

To encourage people towards the noble cause, Abhinav, too, donated blood at the camp, which was organised in association with the Red Cross Society and PGIMER. “The basic purpose of the foundation is to serve the society. Though we may not be doing anything major at the moment, soon we start with basic things and try to work in direction to serve the society in a right way”, said Bindra immediately after donating blood.

“As sports is close to my heart, I have bigger goals to help the talented sportspersons, who have no resources”, said Bindra, adding that the foundation would welcome if some corporate houses come forward .



Private players not keen on storage facilities
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Inspite of the urgent need for creating huge storage spaces for foodgrains in Punjab and Haryana, private parties have failed to evince much interest in participating and creating additional storages.

Information available with The Tribune reveals that though Punjab has floated tenders for adding 71 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) of storage capacity, including 50,000 metric tonnes (MT) of silo storages, it has received bids for adding just 6 LMT of storage space. Similarly, Himachal Pradesh had floated tenders for adding 1.42 LMT of storage space, but it has received bids for just 60,000 MT of space.

Haryana, which needs an additional storage capacity of 41 LMT, is yet to float tenders for this.

The problem is that the private companies find the rates offered by the government for storage of foodgrains unattractive.



Typists, lawyers encroach on estate office turf
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
The UT administration department entrusted with the primary responsibility of removing unauthorized structures in the city is the estate office. However, over the years its enforcement wing has - ironically - not been able to clear the encroachments by hundreds of typists sitting around the estate and district magistrate’s offices in Sector 17.

Both offices have made available space in their backyards and outer corridors for notaries public, stamp vendors and oath commissioners and typists to sit and carry out their work. The latter are provided space after giving a written test, as per the rules.

Although the administration opened subdivisional magistrate offices in various parts of the city for the benefit of residents, yet there has been no respite for those visiting the Sector 17 office as well as passersby. There is very little space left for them to walk through the corridors where the typists sit.

While official sources said only 106 typists, oath commissioners, stamp vendors and notaries public had been granted permission to have their offices there, yet in reality hundreds of them continue to have their desks there. Many of them have even encroached on the road berms nearby.

Though members of the Typists Welfare Association have met officials and apprised them of their problems there has been no improvement in the situation.

Hukum Chand Khundiyan, the association’s president, said: “Eight months back we tried to seek information on this matter under the RTI Act. However, the additional district magistrate assured us at that time our grievances would be redressed”.

“Our work was adversely affected when the UT administration set up SDM offices in other areas of the city. Besides, there is no check on those who are operating from here illegally”, he added.

The association members also alleged some lawyers had “sublet” their places here and were practising in the district courts and even the high court. “We have submitted a list of such lawyers to senior officials”, Khundiyan stated.

“The authorities have also increased the licence fee sharply from Rs 29 to Rs 1,200 per year”, an association member added.

When contacted, additional deputy commissioner PS Shergill said, “We have received complaints in this regard and will begin removing illegal encroachers”.

Karan Puri, one of the lawyers who sit here, told The Tribune there is a permanent enforcement staff posted here who are supposed to keep a check on encroachments from Monday to Friday. “Every time we complain to senior officials about the squatters, they remove the illegal tables during the day, but are back either by the evening or the next day”, he said.

“We had even suggested to the authorities that they should conduct random checks here and if they find any one sitting illegally they should cancel his or her licence immediately”, Puri added.



Patil apprised of Education City

Chandigarh, April 21
Officials of the Chandigarh administration today made a presentation on the Education City before UT Administrator Shivraj Patil.The presentation is seen as part of the process by Patil to know about the mega projects in the city. While the presentation on the Amusement Park had already been done, the one on the Film City would be held tomorrow.

The Education City in Sarangpur village was the only mega project that remained away from the ambit of the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC), which probed the controversial mega projects. The Amusement Park and the Film City are now under the scanner of the CBI for the alleged irregularities in the land allotment process.

Last year, the Education City moved a step towards realisation with the Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies (NMIMS) by laying the foundation stone of the project. The project was envisioned by the Chandigarh administration with a view to establish world-class educational institutions in Sarangpur village to turn the city into a major education hub of North India. Two of the eight parties - Shri Vile Parle Kelvani Mandal, Mumbai, and the Chitkara Educational Trust, Chandigarh - signed a MoU with the administration last year. — TNS



Jerath nominated jury chairman

Chandigarh, April 21
City-based boxing official Dr CK Jerath has been nominated jury chairman for the forthcoming Federation Cup Senior Men’s Boxing Championship, scheduled to be held at Warangal (AP) from April 25 to April 29. Dr Jerath is vice-president of the Indian Boxing Federation and secretary of the Chandigarh Amateur Boxing Association.

Dr Jerath said players from Indian Railways, Services, Haryana, Delhi, Jharkhand, Chandigarh, Manipur and Punjab would vie for the top honours in the championship.

“Karamvir Singh will lead the city team,” said Jerath.

Other players of the local team are: Parveen Kumar, Inderjit, Mukesh, Naresh, Gaganpreet, Vinod Kumar, Rajbir Singh and Vipin Kumar. J D Singh and Bhagwant Singh would accompany the team as manager and coach of the team, he added.— TNS



Committee formed to check spread of diseases
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 21
In order to check the contaminated water supply and to contain the spread of water-borne diseases, the district administration has constituted a joint action committee.Stating this in a press release here today, the spokesperson of the administration said the committee would have the sub-divisional official (civil) as its chairman and civil surgeon. Officials from the water supply department, executive engineer, HUDA, No I, II III, and executive official, municipal corporation would be the members of the committee.

He said the committee would tide over the problems related to cleanliness and supply of potable water in the city and its adjoining areas, especially Rajeev Colony.

He said though cases of diarrhoea were reported in the city, not even a single such case had been reported in the district.

He said the district administration and health department were closely monitoring the situation and all arrangements had been made for containing the spread of water-borne diseases.

He added that the committee would also coordinate with the Residential Welfare Association to tackle problems related to water supply and cleanliness. He said the committee would be holding weekly meetings and submit its report to Deputy Commissioner Ashima Garg on every Monday.



Goods worth lakhs gutted
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 21
Goods worth lakhs were gutted as a plywood factory-cum-godown at Phase II, Industrial Area, caught fire in the wee hours here today.The owner of RK Industries, Anand Gupta, said he came to know about the incident around 6:15 am.

People passing through the area informed him of smoke coming out of the factory-cum-godown. He rushed to the site and informed the fire brigade.

He said some cash at the counter, two computer systems and a refrigerator were burnt as his administrative office was completely destroyed.

He said the total loss was yet to be assessed, which could run into lakhs, as records pertaining to the godown were completely damaged in the fire.

Sector 5 fire station officer Ram Pal Dhull said they received information at 7:05 am. He two fire tenders were pressed into service.

They were able to control the fire in about an hour and-a-half. He said a short-circuit appeared to be the main reason behind the fire.

He further said there was also a report of fire breaking out in the Rehod forest area of the district.

Two fire tenders were sent to the area and the fire was brought under control in about three hours.



PUTA hails VC’s efforts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
In the latest bulletin released by the Panjab University Teachers’ Association (PUTA), the union that has been at loggerheads with the university authorities since a year, has for the first time hailed the efforts of Vice-Chancellor and results of the task force’s visit to the university.

The bulletin also mentions that if the VC releases “full arrears”, a standing ovation will be given to him.

“We are inching towards a safe and secure financial future,” said the new bulletin, which was released on April 21.

Despite a clear indication by the task force of bleak chances of PU getting the Central status, PUTA continues to boast of giving a memorandum, having a detailed ‘rationale’ on PU’s claim to the Central status, to the visiting team” in its bulletin.

It has also highlighted that the increase inPunjab government’s share in PU’s budget deficit has finally been done.

In this regard the bulletin has mentioned -“Punjab government has woken up from its slumber!”

Members of PUTA have expressed satisfaction over the partial release of arrears for teachers. However, they said retired teachers did not get arrears.

Issues like CAS interviews, repair work and release of salaries of teachers of Dental
Institute have also
found place in the bulletin.

Apart from praise, resentment prevailed among former PUTA members with regard to the raw treatment they received from the PU administration.



Promoting folk music across border
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, April 21
Despite the belated commissioning of Punjab Sangeet Natak Akademi, the activities for revival and promotion of Punjabi folk musical heritage are in top gear.

The akademi president Padma Shri Hans Raj Hans is leaving for Pakistan for a series of cultural exchange programmes between Sufi, folk, film and theatre artists of West Punjab (Pakistan) and India.

More projects were planned in a phased manner at the meeting of akademi members held under the chairmanship of Hans Raj Hans.

Akademi secretary Kuldip Tiwana said musical functions would be held at native villages of Punjabi folklore legends Kavishar Karnail Singh Paras, Amar Singh Shonki and Bhagwan Singh. Three-day theatre festivals and workshops will be organised in Punjab. The annual akademi awards will also be revived from this year, added Tiwana.

Following an early directive of the Minister for Cultural Affairs to PAC for creating seven zonal centres in Punjab to reach to the artists and people at the grassroots level, the Mohali zone has constituted office-bearers.

At a meeting held under the chairmanship of Hardeep Singh, secretary general of Punjab Arts Council, presidents and secretaries of the districts of Mohali, Ropar and Chandigarh had been declared.

Hareeep Singh and Dr Sahib Singh will be director and secretary general, respectively, of the Mohali zonal council. Manmohan Singh Daun, SP Singh and JS Garcha will head the respective zonal akadmies of Sahit, Sangeet Natak and Lalit Kala.



First phase of Census on May 1

Mohali, April 21
Encroachments would not be tolerated on government land, said Prabhjot Singh Mand, Deputy Commissioner, Mohali, at a meeting of senior officials here today. Mand directed officials to provide details of the land that belonged to the revenue department. He said first phase of Census would begin on May 1.— TNS



Tribune employee dead
Tribune News Service

Puran Chand Sharma
Puran Chand Sharma

Chandigarh, April 21
Puran Chand Sharma, sectional head with the accounts department of The Tribune, died at a private hospital in Sector 34 here yesterday after a brief illness. He was 52.

Sharma is survived by his wife and two sons. His cremation will take place tomorrow at 11 am in his native village Kandala in Mohali district. The bhog ceremony would be held on May 4 from 2 pm to 3 pm in Kandala village, family sources said.



School of Physics back in PU after 12 yrs
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 21
Forty PhD students from across the country are participating in the ongoing “25th School of Physics” at the Panjab University’s physics department. After 12 years, the advance course on “Theoretical High Energy Physics” which began on April 2 would conclude on Thursday.

It was in 1998 that the physics department last hosted the “School of Physics”, which is a platform for research scholars across the country to and learn the fundamentals and advance levels of physics.

After a basic level “School of Physics” in Chennai last year, the Union government’s department of science and technology selected PU for the advance level event this year.

Out of the 85 applications of PhD students received by the department from across the country, about 40 students have been selected for the three-week training.

These students belong to premier research institutes and universities of the country and scientists of national and international repute are the tutors. The Government of India also puts a restriction of having a mix of scholars from rural background as well as the advance centres of research, said a teacher of the department. Not only is the event a feast for physics lovers, but is also a motivation for science students in the university, who can interact with the eminent scientists. “Students must know that researchers are normal human beings like them and they are capable of doing great research work,” said Prof Sheraz Minwala, TIFR, Mumbai. During the training programme, the students attended four specialised lectures in addition to tutorial courses of 25 hours each in areas, including quantum chromodynamics, grand unified theories and flavour physics, top quark physics, large hadron collider (LHC) and hydrodynamics.

“This platform is of such great magnitude and national importance, that it connects research scholars across the nation and helps them grasp the concepts of their specialised area in physics,” said Prof Manmohan Gupta, chairperson, department of physics.

“The success rate of these schools, which started 25 years ago, was so high that the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) of the DST has now trained several students in theoretical High Energy Physics through this platform,” said Prof Charanjit Singh Aulakh, director of the “School of Physics”.



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