C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Higher Education
Vision document a pipedream?
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Taking a cue from UNESCO’s declaration on higher education, the UT higher education department has come out with a rather ambitious Vision 2010 road map to achieve the highest levels of inclusive growth in government colleges.

Describing it as a “Bible” for all academic and infrastructural endeavours to be undertaken in colleges, Director Higher Education (DHE) Ajoy Sharma said: “Every college has a different need and various endeavours are being undertaken by the authorities at their individual level. The scripting of this document shall lend uniformity to the system where all colleges will come under one umbrella and chase the same set of goals. We have dished out a detailed action plan with reference to all aspects of higher education which would now be applicable to government colleges, and later will apply to private colleges as well.”

The document promises to bring about a sea change in the current education system by taking steps under five sub heads, namely curriculum, teaching learning and evaluation, research coupled with consultancy and human resource development, student support and progression and infrastructure resources and learning resources.

However, given the current scenario of the city colleges, many of the proposals seem to be still a distant dream. For example, concepts such as text free education, tech-savvy classrooms, ensured internships and vocational courses that aim to making education more fruitful seem unrealistic keeping in view that there are at present many courses whose curriculum has not been revised for years. Besides, most students and teachers are recycling generation-old notes.

Several colleges have tried to install integrated communication technologies (ICT), but have failed to convince teachers to swap these with chalks. An array of vocational courses have been introduced in the past five years, but placements continue to evade students.

The document also plans to improvise on faculty resource working on the motto of “select the best, reward the best, retain the best”, according to which the faculty will be encouraged to indulge in fruitful research in collaboration with students.

The students would be required to evaluate the faculty, who in turn would be trained to improvise on their teaching techniques and methodologies.

It remains to be seen how well this improvisation goes down with the many wives of VIPs teaching in government colleges who often manage to get long leave during the academic year. Besides, most government colleges are a quagmire of internal politics with students becoming a tool.

The higher education department has already introduced teacher evaluation on a pilot basis, but seems to have forgotten to ensure anonymity as these forms require students to list their names and roll numbers. While many colleges are found wanting in infrastructure, the vision document boasts of colleges being equipped with amphitheatres, ICT-equipped classrooms and audio-visual-equipped departments.

Asked about the time frame and feasibility of the plan, Ajoy Sharma said: “One needs to be ambitious to bring about big changes.” Various aspects of the vision would be realised in different time frames. For example, curriculum and faculty reforms would be in place in the next three months while some infrastructural aspects might take up to two years. “The situation has not been very encouraging, but now when all colleges will chase a common goal we will bring about the desired renaissance,” he said.

‘I didn’t single out any varsity’

“I didn’t intend to point at any particular university. I meant that inbreeding in teacher’s recruitment was taking place in universities across Punjab,” former Haryana chief secretary Dharamveer stated.



Major fire guts Sec 26 restaurant, warehouse
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Property and goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed in a major fire that gutted a popular buffet restaurant in the city, Barbeque Nation, and the Reebok warehouse above it in the Sector 26 market on Madhya Marg early this morning.

The fire broke out at about 6:30 am, apparently because of a short circuit, in one of the showrooms and it soon engulfed the entire double storied shop cum office complex (SCO 39). No one was reportedly injured in the fire but some firemen had a miraculous escape when a cylinder in the restaurant’s kitchen exploded while they were dousing the flames.

It took over four and a half hours for the firemen to control the blaze. Officials said 10 tenders, including water bowsers and a hydraulic platform table turn ladder, were sent to the scene. The fire department was informed about the incident at 7:09 am. The fire was brought under control by 9:30 am and was extinguished completely by 11:45 am.

Fire officials had a harrowing time gaining access to the building’s second floor as the staircase was clogged with thick black smoke and flames. Firemen had to break parts of the concrete wall for gaining access to the floor.

The flammable materials - leather, cloth and plastic - stored inside the warehouses added to the firemen’s woes as flames spread quickly through them. While officials were tightlipped, sources claimed temporary plastic structures erected at the rear side of Barbeque Nation also contributed to the fire spreading.

The fire-ravaged restaurant and the warehouses were in a pathetic state as almost everything inside was charred beyond recognition. While the entire upholstery, airconditioning, furniture and other electronic equipment in the kitchen were destroyed in Barbeque Nation, hundreds of pairs of charred shoes and bags on the first floor of the Reebok showroom bore testimony to the destruction caused by the devastating fire. The flames rising from the burning building were visible almost a kilometre away.

According to Ashok Ahuja, owner of the SCO, while the first floor godown had Reebok products stored in it,

garments of several international brands, including Levi’s and Zufti, were stocked in the second floor warehouse. Ahuja said he was shortly going to open a Reebok and Rayban showroom in Sector 9, Panchkula and had stocked huge piles of products for it. As for the garments, he is reportedly a distributor, supplying to several retail outlets in Punjab and Haryana.

When asked about the extent of losses, a visibly shattered Ahuja said: “Everything has become ash for me”.

Though investigations are still in progress, preliminary inquiries indicate the possibility of the fire breaking out in Barbeque Nation first and then spreading to the building’s first and the second floors. “It’s unlikely the fire travelled from the first to the ground floor,” said a fireman, adding flames usually spread upwards.

Talking to The Tribune, chief fire officer PK Sharma said though various fire safety measures were in place in the restaurant and the building the security guards on duty were not trained on how to use them.



Fun turns tragic, student drowns
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 25
A 21-year-old student of the Food Craft Institute (FCI), Sector 42, Parul Gopal, drowned in the Siswan dam, near Mullanpur here, this evening.

A resident of Phase 3A here, the victim had gone to the spot for a picnic along with his five friends.

Being a holiday, they went to the dam on their motorcycles.

Parul accidentally fell into the dam and his friends tried to pull him out, but due to the silt, he could not push himself out of the water and drowned. He did not know swimming.

The investigating officer said though his friends tried to pull him out with the help of a turban, he slipped back into the reservoir. The police had to call divers to retrieve the body.

Though no foul play has been alleged, the autopsy of the body would be conducted at the Kharar Civil Hospital tomorrow.

His friends intimated his family about the tragedy and they rushed to the spot to look for him. It took some time to locate the body as there was silt at the base of the dam.



‘Inbreeding’ remarks nettle PU staff
Neha Miglani/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The Panjab University administration and the varsity’s teachers union, which are otherwise at loggerheads with each other, sunk their differences temporarily on Sunday in criticizing certain speakers for their “direct and indirect comments made against PU”.

At a seminar held on Saturday at the PHD Chamber of Commerce & Industry, former Haryana chief secretary Dharamveer accused the university of “inbreeding in its faculty”. He then extended his allegation to include other varsities in Punjab.

This was followed by Punjab Agricultural University vice chancellor MS Kang subtly accusing PU of denying a job to Har Gobind Khorana, a molecular biologist who later went on to share the Nobel prize in physiology/medicine in 1968. He also quoted a newspaper headline to support his comment.

Besides this, views were also expressed on PU’s examination system and on the delay in teacher’s evaluation.

Interestingly, following criticism of his remarks, Dharamveer today described his comment as a “slip of the tongue” and added he actually meant “inbreeding was taking place in universities in Punjab” and did not intend to mark out Panjab University for criticism.

PU officials were quick to convene a meeting of functionaries and PUTA representatives to find out ways to “counter” the statements of the former Haryana bureaucrat, whose wife is incidentally happens to be the dean of international students at the varsity.

Among those who attended this meet were Manmohan Gupta, AS Ahluwalia, Keshav Malhotra, PUTA president Manjit Singh, Naval Kishore and Sudhir Kumar. PUTA later issued a press statement expressing its “strong resentment” over the remarks by speakers at Saturday’s seminar.

“Our university has a clean reputation and, contrary to the remarks made by certain speakers, we are often accused of not being regional at all. We have the best examination system in the country and several crucial state exams are conducted here,” said Manjit, reiterating it was only an “informal meeting” that took place today.

“We criticize the ignorant remarks by certain speakers. The meeting was held to find a way to counter the charges,” said Malhotra.

“The accusations levelled against PU at the seminar were unfounded and just reflect ignorance of certain speakers. PU is cosmopolitan in nature and this can be proven with facts,” said Sudhir Kumar, director of public relations at PU.



Medico Suicide Case
UT continues to dither on action against GMCH doc
Anuja Jaiswal/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
While it took the UT health department six long years to sack two employees of the Government Medical College & Hospital, Sector 32, convicted for abetting the suicide of a colleague, it continues to drag its feet on initiating action against a head of the department of the institution against whom charges were framed four months back for abetting the suicide of a third semester MBBS student in 2008.

The ostensible reason for this delay is that the UT officials have been waiting for the past couple of months to receive two documents - a Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) report confirming the deceased’s handwriting on the suicide note and a revaluation report of deceased’s answer sheets by a panel of PGI doctors - from the police. While these documents have already been produced in the court and their copies are available with The Tribune also, the UT officials are waiting for them for inexplicable reasons.

What is surprising is that the delay in the file’s movement from the police to the health department is happening despite the fact that UT health secretary Ram Niwas also holds the charge of the home department.

A young medico, Jaspreet Singh, had hung himself on 27 Jan 2008 in the bathroom of the library on the fifth floor of the hospital’s B block. A suicide note found on his possession squarely blamed Dr NK Goel, head of GMCH’s community medicine department, and two of his classmates - Deepak Vashisht and Ajay Parvin - for ridiculing him by making “casteist” remarks against him.

Though the police had then booked Goel and others on charges of abetting suicide as well as under the ‘Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes’ Prevention of Atrocities Act, no action was initiated by the health department against the former, who incidentally continues functioning as head of community medicine till date. The action was then reportedly delayed on the grounds that the deceased’s handwriting had to be analysed by CFSL and even the allegations of harassment were as such unsubstantiated.

A five-member inquiry committee was also set up then by GMCH to probe Jaspreet’s suicide and it had recorded the statements of several people, including some doctors of the hospital. Significantly, Dr BS Chavan, head of the psychiatry department, had categorically told the panel the deceased had met him along with his father on January 17, 2008, and was “upset” after remarks made by Goel, who had humiliated him in front of others. Jaspreet had confessed to Chavan that Goel had given him only three marks in community medicine and had threatened to “fail” him in the future also. The committee had failed to arrive at any conclusion for want of certain documents.

Goel apparently carried out his threat and Jaspreet again failed in his community medicine examination by securing 14 marks out of 30. However, when his answer sheet was revaluated by a three-member expert panel of PGI, they all gave Jaspreet marks over 15, which averaged out at 16.5.

“Despite all these clinching evidences of harassment of my son, no action has been taken against Goel. He continues to be where he was,” says Jaspreet’s father, Charan Singh. Saying he had lost all hope to see Goel facing disciplinary action till he saw the recent news about the sacking of two GMCH employees, Charan said with tears rolling down his cheeks: “I really wish something is done now. His suspension is the least. It’ll give some justice to my son’s death.”

UT health officials, on condition of anonymity, confirmed a report was sought from the police about two months ago and its reply was awaited. Niwas was also not available for comments.

When contacted, GMCH director principal Dr Rajbhadur said, “The facts pertaining to the case are with the UT health department. They have to take the decision.”

“The matter is sub judice. I can’t make any comment on it,” said Goel.



Chandigarh Golf Club elections
Professionals seek right to contest
Akash Ghai/Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Some Chandigarh Golf Club members moved a resolution, demanding that members who were golf professionals be allowed the right to contest, during the annual general body meeting here today.

About 12 permanent members were professional golfers, including Jeev Milkha Singh, Simran Singh, Sandy Lehal, US Mundy, Ajay Gujral and Gursimran Sethi.

These golfers demanded the right to contest, taken away in 1995-96. Due to lack of quorum, no decision on the issue could be taken today.

At least 250 members have to be present and three-fourths have to back a decision to amend the constitution. The issue would be taken up during the extraordinary general body meeting on June 30.

Jeev told the Chandigarh Tribune, “I have no idea why professional golfers are denied the right to contest and be included in managing committees I think that that the exposure of professional golfers to other golf courses should be used to benefit of the club.”

Echoing his sentiments, Mundy said, “If given the chance, we can prove a boon for the club because of our wide-range experience and exposure. Being permanent members, there should not be any discrimination against us.”

Ajay and Sandy said this principle did not apply in other part of the country. “The amendment on allowing golf professionals to contest should be carried out at the earliest”, said Ajay.

SPS Ghai, honorary secretary of the club, said no decision could be taken due to lack of quorum. He added that the matter would be taken up on June 30. Photo P6


Dalit Killings
Valmiki Samaj seeks probe
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 25
The Haryana Valmiki Samaj (HVS) here today demanded a judicial probe into the killing of Dalits at Mirchpur village, Hisar, in which two persons were killed and houses of about 20 families were damaged in arson and looting by members of other communities on April 21.

Raj Kumar Valmiki, president HVS, talking to the media here today demanded that probe should be held by a sitting high court judge to bring out the truth and identify the main culprits in the case.

He said though the state government had announced compensation of five lakh rupees to the kin of those killed, besides, one lakh rupees for the purchase of domestic articles, but there was a need for taking action against those officials, who remained mute spectators to brutal killings by unscrupulous elements.

He said Valmiki, who is also chairman of the Schedule Caste Development Finance Corporation said they had constituted a seven-member committee including Suresh, Mukesh, Jasmer and Karam Singh which would construct the houses of the Dalits whose houses had been burnt and the funds for which would be provided by the state government.

He also announced that government had also decided to provide employment to two members of the family whose members were killed in the unfortunate incident.

He said there was fear among the members of the Dalit community about their safety and added that representatives of other communities should also come forward to assure them that no such incident would occur in future.

Suresh Kans, president, Rakiesh Karotia principal general secretary, Dalbir Singh general secretary and former MP, Dinesh Kumar, joint secretary, and Karam Singh were all present.



Murder over cellphone clash
Hunt on, cops sent to Ambala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The police is yet to arrest the suspects involved in the murder of the 19-year-old Bihari migrant labourer, who was stabbed to death at Daria village yesterday.

The SHO of the Industrial Area Police Station inspector Yashpal Vianyak said the police had been sent to Ambala, but no result so far.

The police conducted raids at several suspected hideouts of the accused at Zirakpur, sectors 19 and 20 and both the ISBT were kept under surveillance.

The police has identified some of the accused involved in the murder as Khajinder, Goldy and Sumit.

The SHO said more persons could be involved in the clash that led to the murder. The accused include youngsters and belong to Chandigarh and adjoining areas. The victim had an altercation with the accused over a mobile phone, which turned violent.

The investigators are reportedly holding meetings with the villagers to help the police in arresting the accused. In charge of the Daria Police Post sub-inspector Ram Rattan told The Tribune Sunday being a holiday, the postmortem could not be conducted.

The police had registered a case of murder and common intension on a complaint lodged by Hardeep Singh, a resident of Daria village.

Pintu, an auto-rickshaw driver, was seriously injured in the assault and was rushed to the Sector-32 Government Medical College and Hospital, where he was declared brought dead.



Polio drops administered
Our Correspondent

Kalka, April 25
A total of 12,527 children were administered polio drops during a special campaign organised in Kalka, Pinjore and its adjoining area. Dr Kamla Singh, Civil Surgeon, Panchkula, visited Kalka to take a stock of the campaign.

MLA condemns govt

Kalka MLA Pradeep Chaudhary today chaired a meeting of workers of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Pinjore. The meeting was attended by more than 150 local leaders and workers of the INLD. While addressing, Chaudhary condemned the state government on several aspects like inflation, shortage of water and electricity.




Chandigarh, April 25
Janhit eye clinic at Sood Bhawan, Sector 44, was inaugurated today by Mayor Anu Chatrath here today.

The clinic has been established by Sood Sabha for diagnosis and management of various eye diseases - refractive errors, cataract screening, glaucoma, diabetic eye diseases. Latest unit were installed at the clinic. Eye specialist Dr Neeraj Sood will provide consultancy to the patients. — TNS



PU students relive memories
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The fourth annual alumni meet of School of Communication Studies, PU, was held on Saturday.

The theme of the evening was “Sapno se sacchai tak” and the alumnus of batches dating back to 1986 shared their experiences.

“The one year course in the institute helped in shaping my life,” said Kanwar Sandhu, an alumunus of the department.

While at the idea exchange Vijay Sehgal, former Editor, Dainik Tribune said, “Students must start contributing features from the department.”

A presentation on life and works of Prof PP Singh, founder of the department, was shown followed by anecdotes shared by the students.

Kamal and his musical group enthralled the audience with their performance, which was followed by dance.



Dhawan’s induction into BJP
Damage control by Punj
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
In a face-saving exercise, senior BJP leaders today rubbished allegations that former union minister Harmohan Dhawan had been “paratrooped” on the local unit of the BJP by the party high command without taking into account the sentiments of the local leaders.

Putting up a brave face, Balbir Punj, party’s in charge for Chandigarh affairs, said Dhawan, who recently was the BSP’s convener, had been inducted into the party on the “recommendations” of party president Sanjoy Tandon.

When asked why Dhawan joined the party in New Delhi in the presence of select local leaders, Punj tried to wriggle out of the situation saying that Dhawan joined the party in the presence of BJP president Nitin Gadkeri.

It is believed that Dhawan, who has a passion for switching parties, having joined at least six political outfits in his political career, joined the BJP in the teeth of stiff opposition from local leaders. Dhawan’s entry into the saffron party was reportedly facilitated by senior leaders, including Sushma Swaraj, Shatrughan Sinha and Rajiv Pratap Rudy, with whom the former minister shares a good rapport.

Dhawan said the split in opposition votes had always benefited the Congress. “With my joining the BJP, the split in the opposition votes would be avoided in the 2011 MC polls,” he claimed.

National council member miffed?

Failure of organisers to accommodate Ranjana Shahi, member of the BJP national council, on the dais along with senior leaders Balbir Punj and Kiran Ghai created a flutter in party circles. Repeated requests of Punj to Shahi to join them after the press conference for a photo session fell on deaf ears as she was apparently miffed at the “ill-treatment”. Former MP Satya Pal Jain was conspicuous by his absence.



‘Khalsa movement not revenge-based’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
“The Khalsa ideal of equality was much ahead of time. The term Khalsa kept evolving and getting enriched with the passage of time. Any meaningful understanding of Sikh history will necessitate a proper appreciation of the Khalsa self-image,” said Dr JS Grewal.

A former Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor, he was delivering the first Bhai Vir Singh memorial lecture here yesterday. It was organised by the Institute of Sikh Studies in collaboration with the Bhai Vir Singh Study Circle.

He talked about “Khalsa in history”, stating that the historical sense had developed among Sikhs even during the period of Gurus. Quoting from sources, he reconstructed the ideals and principles which Guru Gobind Singh had laid down for the Khalsa.

He compared and contrasted the understanding of Khalsa history over time by Sikh and non-Sikh historians. Differences in understanding were due to different backgrounds and training of interpreters, he said, adding that interpretations of groups varied to suit their agendas.

Delivering the presidential speech, Dr Darshan Singh, former chairperson, department of Guru Nanak studies, Panjab University, said the study of theology was a must for a good historian. For a student of Sikh history, the primary source had to be Guru Granth Sahib, he added.

The concern of Gurus was not who was ruling, but the principles of governance, he said.

The Khalsa movement was not revenge-based, but was born out of a commitment to ideals, with the mission to capture hearts and not land, he stated.

Dr Kirpal Singh and Dr Harnam Singh Shan also spoke. Pritam Singh said the purpose to organise the event was to benefit from the interaction between a historian and a theologian over their respective understanding of the Khalsa.



Jaipur experiment is here

Manoj Mahajan
Manoj Mahajan

After trying all means to save the Sukhna lake, the administration is now experimenting with manual de-weeding (see photo). Workers hired for the job include those who have successfully de-weeded the Jalmahal lake in Jaipur earlier.

These 30-odd workers start as early as 4 am and continue till late in the evening, uprooting the thorny mysterious weed with their hands. Shamsher Mohammad, one of the workers, says removing the weed here is tougher than in Jaipur. “Our hands feel more itchy here”, he says. If it can bring back the dying Sukhna lake to life, the itch may be worth the effort.

Water woes

Villages in the union territory have been facing acute shortage of water supply. The problem is particularly pronounced on the first and second floors at Behlana, Hallo Majra, Raipur Khurd, Makhan Majra and Raipur Kalan.

A majority of middle-class residents of villages have installed motors to draw water from the main lines, resulting in negative pressure. “We have to fit plugs on low-level water pipes as there is less pressure in taps,” says a Behlana resident. Most pipes are kept open, resulting in negative pressure and contamination.

Taking a serious note of the rising incidents of water theft, the UT administration has decided to act tough. It has issued an order to panchayats for round-the-clock patrolling in affected areas. Officials have been directed to keep surveillance on people of dubious character.

Students’ cause

Pradeep Tewari
Pradeep Tewari

Last Thursday, students of different schools from outside the city formed a human chain at the Sector 17 plaza as part of a peace march (see photo). The event came up as a part of the Young Round Square Regional Conference hosted by the Lawrence School at Sanawar from April 21 to 23.

Stress bearers

Stress on doctors and paramedic staff at the PGI has become a topic of discussion after the death of Dr Nagendra, a junior resident with the blood transfusion department. The police is looking for the reason leading to the death of the doctor, with members of the family claiming that he has not committed suicide. The doctor’s father has demanded a thorough probe into the case.

A police officer has told this correspondent that doctors and other paramedic staff look overworked and sound absent-minded whenever they approach the police for reporting the theft of vehicles or other problems. “We generally take them to the spot and ask them to recall the events in a sequence. Most of the time, they forgot where they had parked their vehicles or left their belongings,” he says.

IPL punch

Though politics and laughter are strange bedfellows, BJP’s maverick Punjab and Chandigarh affairs in charge Balbir Punj tickled the funny bone on Sunday with his tongue-in-cheek comments on the Indian Premier League (IPL) controversy. In Chandigarh to welcome former minister Harmohan Dhawan into the BJP, the Rajya Sabha member provided some light-hearted moments to the otherwise serious press conference.

As soon as his colleague Kiran Ghai, party co-in charge and vice-president, tried to pat the BJP on the back for its nationwide protest from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on April 21 against price rise, Punj quickly took the mike from her. “The IPL has really united the country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari,” a mischievous-looking BJP leader said, apparently referring to Sunanda Pushkar’s Kashmir origin and ex-minister Shashi Tharoor’s South connections.

Needless to say, the press briefing ended on a happy note for the saffron party, facing dissensions in the Punjab and Chandigarh units. Hope we have more such lighter moments in the otherwise drab political events.

ATM aloof

Panjab University teachers are sceptical about using ATM cards. I discovered this on a recent visit to the PU’s bank counter, where a lecturer was found complaining to a bank official about the long queue to withdraw cash manually.

The bank official asked the lecturer, “Why are you not using an ATM card? It is very convenient and is being used by a majority of bank customers in the country, right from the poorest to the richest.” Wearing an uncertain look, the young lecturer replied, “To be frank, I doubt ATM cards. I am not sure whether I will be able to use it properly or not.”

Taken aback by the ignorance of the teacher, the bank official spent some time convincing her and requested her to get a card made as soon as possible. Observing quietly till now, I curiously asked about the incident. I was told that a major chunk of teachers at the university were not ATM-savvy.

Contributed by Smriti Sharma Vasudeva, Anil Jerath, Sumedha Sharma, Ramanjit Singh Sidhu, Pradeep Sharma and Neha Miglani



Home guard jawan injured
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 25
A home guard jawan was injured when his motorcycle was hit by an SUV Ford Endeavor jeep near the Sector 8-9 traffic light point here this noon.

A case has been registered against the driver of the SUV No. HE 12B 0008.

According to the police, the home guard jawan Mohan Singh was returning to his home at Mani Majra on his motorcycle after performing his duty at the Sector 4-5 traffic light point. He had reached the Sector 8 traffic lights at 2 pm when the SUV coming from the Agarsain Chowk side jumped the red light and hit his motorcycle causing injuries to his left foot.

The SUV driver rushed him to the Sector-6 General Hospital where he was admitted for treatment.



Mediation training course concludes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
A three-day mediation training course organised under the aegis of Punjab and Haryana High Court headed by Justice MM Kumar concluded at the Judicial Academy, Sector 43, here today.

Over 100 advocates from 18 districts of Punjab and Haryana, where mediation and conciliation centres have been set up, participated in the training programme. Currently eight such centres are functioning in Punjab, 10 in Haryana and two in Union Territory of Chandigarh.

“Mediation is fast emerging as the alternative to litigations. Chandigarh lawyers have an active role in mediation, which is fast emerging as an alternative dispute redressal system to litigations. The advocates can play an active role in mediation. It cannot be successful without their active participation,” Justice Kumar said.

Legal experts termed the mediation and conciliation centres as recourse in settling disputes in a speedy and economic manner and also helped in reducing lakhs of pending cases in the courts.

Among others Atul Lakhanpal, senior advocate of the high court and co-coordinator of the mediation and conciliation centre, shared his experiences with the participants and encouraged the fraternity to come forward to make the concept successful. Presently, 48 advocates of the mediation centres of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and 13 advocates from the district court in Chandigarh are running such centres successfully.

During the training course, Justice Cyriac Joseph, Supreme Court of India, categorically stated the need of the mediation training for the advocates, who have a central role in making mediation work for their clients in constructive, creative and productive way.

Sadhna Ramchandran, senior advocate and organising secretary, Delhi High Court’s mediation and conciliation centre, along with her team arrived from Delhi to conduct the training programme. “This alternate system of dispute redressal is gaining popularity in Delhi. We have 70-75 cases listed every day that range from matrimonial and family disputes to industrial disputes, intellectual property rights and trademark disputes. We solve between 45-50 cases each month,” she said.

Niranjan Bhatt, senior advocate from Gujarat High Court, said on an average 40 per cent of the total cases referred to the mediation centre in Gujarat were settled and same the success rate in Delhi. “The cases are settled legally and the court issue a decree on the decision. We have already started working in this direction since 1999,” Bhatt said.



Pinjore to have bypass road
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 25
Respite seems to be in sight for commuters going to Baddi-Nalagarh through Pinjore, as Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) is all set to lay a new road bypassing Pinjore town.

The new road from a place near Surajpur Bridge on Panchkula-Shimla Highway would join Nalagarh road opposite Pinjore aviation club.

The tenders will be floated soon for the project and it is expected that the road would be thrown open for public use within this year, said HUDA superintending engineer AK Aggarwal.

250 acres to develop a 100-meter way for the road has already been acquired by HUDA and a budget of Rs 32.72 crore for 7.230 kilometer had been approved at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in Chandigarh recently. With the construction of the new road, there would be no need for traffic to enter the town.

According to sources, the width of the road would be only 10 metre wide and it would touch Rampur Seori, Surajpur, Manakpur Thakurdass, Manakpur Nanakchand, Lohgarh, Dhamala and Sukhomajri villages before culminating at Khera-Basol villages near the aviation club.

It would also join the new sectors and proposed three phases of industrial area to be developed on both sides of the Panchkula-Pinjore highway and Pinjore-Nalagarh road. HUDA would setup Industrial Area Phase I, II, and III, and residential sectors 27, 28, 29 and 30 of Pinjore, added the sources.

At a meeting Rs 22 crore were approved for the extension of sewerage treatment plant at Panchkula. The capacity of the present plant at Sector 20 would be doubled to 60 MLD considering the expansion of the town which drains out more than 30 MLD of sewage every day, said the superintending engineer.



Railway Station
Another ramp for physically challenged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Keeping in view the problems being faced by senior citizens, heart patients and physically challenged, the Railway authorities started construction of another ramp at platform No 1 at the city railway station here yesterday.

Manoj Rana, public relations official (PRO), Northern Railway, Ambala division, confirmed this and informed that they would provide a ramp on the platform No 1 towards the Ambala side because the platforms usually have lesser space and the ramp occupies a lot of space.

“People had been demanding it for a long time, therefore, we decided to go ahead with it,” he added.

“Presently it is an ordeal for the senior citizens and heart patients to move from one platform to another with only a small ramp at the main entrance of the railway station,” said KD Chopra, a senior citizen.

At present, there is only one ramp for the physically challenged on the front side of the railway station.

“The under-construction ramp would likely to be completed within 15 days,” Rana said.

He further said second footbridge inter-linking all five platforms would be constructed at the other end of the station - also towards Ambala side. The existing footbridge links platform numbers 1, 2 and 3 only, he added.

Sources revealed that the Railway authorities wanted to provide a tubular shaped concrete foot over bridge at the station, but now the design of the bridge would be based upon the Railways own designs.

“The fabrication of the bridge has already started in their workshop and it would take around six months for complete fabrication of the bridge,” PRO disclosed.



Village land changes hands, DC orders probe
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 25
An alleged land scam involving 600 acres of common village land of Bhagindi, Gurdha, Kasauli, Jyanti Majri and Karaundewala, on Chandigarh’s periphery, has come to the fore.

A handful of persons, including some shareholders in the land, have got the “girdawari” changed in their name allegedly in connivance with revenue officials.

The DC, Prabhjot Singh Mand, on the basis of a written representation given by the gram panchayat of Bhagindi, has sought report from the SDM of Kharar. It has been alleged that out of the 600 acres of common village land, 300 acres of Bhangindi village have been illegally transferred in the girdawari documents.

Demanding the cancellation of the girdawari done by the naib tehsildar, Majri, Ropinder Singh Manku, residents of the village met Morinda MLA Ujjagar Singh Wadali. “Since it is matter of revenue, the villagers have to file an appeal in the court of the SDM. But we will inquire how the entries were changed in the revenue documents,” the MLA said.

Pal Singh, sarpanch of Bhagindi, said they had requested the naib tehsildar not to allow the girdawari without calling residents of the village who were in possession of the land. Of this, around 67 acres was panchayat land.

“We were assured by revenue officials that the process would be followed after intimating the persons concerned. But on April 16, we came to know that the entries had been backdated,” he said.

As per the procedure, revenue officials have to physically verify the possession of land and inform all the stakeholders before changing the entries.

While the possession documents of the cultivable land signed by the naib tehsildar claim that procedure had been followed, the gram panchayat has contested the claim of officials.

“No one visited the village. Despite being shareholders, we were not even aware of the exercise and a member of the Bhagindi gram panchayat was involved in the exercise,” the sarpanch added. 



Sanitation goes contractual
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 25
Four months after the sanitation supervision was handed over to the ward executive committees formed under the chairmanship of local councillors, the local urban bodies department has decided to give the responsibility to keep the town clean to contractors. The work to be carried out by contractors, however, will be monitored by the Resident Welfare Association.

The tenders for the work in each ward would be floated soon and the modalities for the same were being finalised by the Deputy commissioner, said Raj Kumar, financial commissioner and provincial secretary, local urban bodies, Haryana.

The sanitation system in the town was being taken care of by a single contractor, till it was handed over to the ward executive committees in the beginning of the year. However, controversies shrouded the new scheme since its launch on January 1. While a few councillors refused to implement it in their wards, some alleged that there were loopholes in the system, as heaps of garbage could be seen almost everywhere in the town.

People opposing the decision of handing over the work to ward executive committees said the move was against the Haryana Municipal Act 1973 and Haryana Municipal Citizen Participation Act 2008.

Constitution of the ward executive committees was in violation of the Haryana Municipal Act 1973 and Haryana Municipal Citizen Participation Act 2008, as there was no such provision under both the acts.

Welcoming the government’s move to hand over the work to contractors, S K Nayar of the Citizen Welfare Association said it would help improve the situation.

Street lights needed to be installed and there was a need to re-carpet B-roads in the town, added Nayar.



India among 10 worst road accidents prone countries
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
With over one lakh deaths and more than five lakh seriously injured persons in road accidents, India has emerged one of the 10 worst road accidents prone countries in the world identified by the World Health Organisation to chalk out a programme to reduce road mishap causalities.

Global Road Traffic Injury Prevention Project (GRIPP) by the union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has roped in city-based NGO on road safety, ArriveSAFE, as a stakeholder and the global consortium of the project.

The meeting will be held on April 27 and 28 in New Delhi to provide an overview of the project and to discuss a common strategic approach for the project at national level.

India has been identified for implementation of the project. The GRIPP would be implemented in 10 countries with an aim to reduce death and disability through road traffic injury prevention projects in these focused countries and to develop model programmes, said Harman Sidhu, chairman of the ArriveSAFE.

Sidhu, a diploma holder in mechanical engineering, has devoted himself to road safety after a near fatal road accident in October 1996, left him paralytic.

Citing figures issued by the Union Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways in a Road Transport Year Book, 2006-07, Sidhu said 1,14,444 persons have lost their lives in road accidents in India, while another 5,13,440 were seriously injured. “The 2002 report issued by the government pinned losses in road accidents to the tune of three per cent of the GDP, (approximately Rs 55,000 crore), on the other hand the total investment in auto industry in 2004 was around Rs 50,000 crore,” said Sidhu while highlighting the seriousness of the issue.

The consortium partners, Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP), John Hopkins University (JHU), and Association of Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) will focus on implementing practices around public health risk factors, while the World Resource Institute of Sustainable Transport (EMBARQ) and the World Bank (WB) will focus on infrastructure and cleaner air.

WHO would work in close quarters to monitor the main, intermediate and process indicators of the project.

WHO’s report on road traffic, injury prevention has increased awareness of road safety and identified several highly cost-effective interventions, which when implemented across the globe would save several lives and hundreds of millions of dollars every year, asserted Sidhu.




Chandigarh: Global Forum for Public Relations has conferred the Golden Triangle Award 2010 for Public Relations on Charanjit Singh, a local public relations practitioner. He was awarded at a function in Hyderabad.

Charanjit, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Public Relations Council of India last year, is an alumnus of PU’s School of Communication. — TNS



Medical camp

Chandigarh, April 25
A special medical health check-up camp was organised at Deaf and Dumb School, Sector 19, here. It was inaugurated by Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla,

Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab.

Medicines were distributed among children during the camp.

Prof Chawla said, “It’s a noble cause to serve these under-privileged kids.” She added that advanced medical science and modern aids played a major role in helping these kids. While taking a round of the school, she appreciated the facilities and training being imparted to these special students. During the visit, prominent members of the Punjab IAS Officers Wives’ Association interacted with Prof Chawla. She was accompanied by Satish Chandra (IAS), Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Punjab. — TNS



Where parking creates heat
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 25
Parking has become the bane of the town, with drivers facing unending harassment, particularly in the market areas. The vehicle density has been rising, which coupled with poor planning, has led to a worsening of parking woes.

Vehicles parked on the main road at the subzi mandi in Phase 7 of Mohali.
Vehicles parked on the main road at the subzi mandi in Phase 7 of Mohali. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

There is traffic congestion in various areas, including the Phase 1 market, near the court complex at Phase 3B1, near Chawla nursing home at Phase 7 and the main road in front of the Phase 11 market.

A board recently put up on a footpath along the main road at Phase 1 says ‘No parking zone from Franco Hotel to DC complex’.

But surprisingly, seven cars were seen parked on this stretch yesterday, though ‘No parking’ signboards had been put up at several points along the road.

A number of cars were also seen parked on the footpath in front of houses, much to the annoyance of those occupying these buildings.

The road near the court complex, in particular, was a traffic bottleneck because of wrongly parked vehicles. Cars were parked not only on the footpath along the gurdwara here, but also in front of the government school. The situation was no better near the Chawla chowk as vehicles were parked on the main road and the footpath here.

The parking area in front of the bank square at Phase 7 was congested and people had no choice except to park their vehicles on the road.

Vehicle users also found the area in front of HM houses on the main road at Phase 7 congested as vehicles were parked on the road.

A similar situation existed at in Phase 11. Complaints in connection with parking were also received from residential areas.

Jaswant Singh of Phase 3B1 said C-roads in various parts of the town were narrow and the number of vehicles in the town was going up. He added that residents were forced to park on roads in front of their houses and heated arguments over wrongly parked vehicles were common where he lived.



Open House Response
Govt blind to touts cashing in on false promises

The nefarious business of touts is flourishing, right in middle of our blind administrative systems, both at the state and national levels. I, myself, am a victim of agents who showed me a paradise that never existed. Disillusioned with false promises, I am currently making the rounds of the courts seeking a refund of the money that my father had managed to pay the agent with great difficulty.

I was guaranteed a study Visa and a free ticket to Australia against the original money deposited at the time of our business deal. I neither got the Visa nor any ticket. My family had to give up the chase after repeated visits to the company office in the state headquarters in Chandigarh.

I am personally aware about a number of cases where students, in my area, have been duped by the scrupulous touts. Flashy and gaudy advertisements in majority of the newspapers, mainly the vernacular dailies, are the biggest culprits in drawing innocent students to these fraudulent agents.

A large number of the students are paying a very high rate of interest( often 10 per cent) on the money these agents gave to be shown as deposits against the names of the student families. These agents are also known to help forging documents in securing admissions on a hefty charge.

In a chain of the systematic set-up, smaller touts in smaller towns, all over Punjab, are connected with the established ones in bigger cities.

I am just one among the aggrieved parties and have currently engaged a lawyer to fight my case in the court of law. At the same time, I know that my case will not put an end the malpractice. It will be worthwhile incase, even, a handful of the students were saved from falling into wrong hands.

Baljinder Singh

No dearth of quality education here

It was out of an inane fad that my nephew insisted on going to Australia for his studies in the year 2007. He did BCA from Government College, Sector 46, and had a penchant for studying abroad. His father managed the money with great difficulty.

Anyway, he landed at Adelaide. Whenever, I rang him up, he always said, "Uncle, Sorry. I am driving car. Wait for a little while, I shall get back to you". Whenever he called back he shared his "horrible" experience of having to drive a taxi to meet his daily expenses. When questioned about his source of daily meals, he would say that he as well his other friends co-habiting with him, seldom cooked. They lived on fast food.

Regarding studies, he would only say that he visited the campus off and on. He had said that he was pulling along well and was also hopeful of finishing his studies. He wrote to me saying "Now, uncle, I have to apply for PR but I have not passed IELTS, which is a pre-condition". On my advice, he came back to India, but, could not clear IELTS by scoring the required bands. He again left for Australia and his father had to spend more money in helping him manage a new Visa to go there. Till date, he has not been able to apply for PR. The sordid state of affairs is a reality for a number of students who have managed to go abroad under the guise of inconsequential courses. They never qualify for the PR status and spend their lives doing menial jobs. If a child is really intelligent, there is no dearth of quality educational centres in our state and even our neighbourhood.

Gurmit Singh Saini

Parents, be aware

It has been very rightly pointed out by Sanjeev Singh Bariana, in his article in the Open House of the Chandigarh Tribune, that a large number of students who opt for foreign studies actually want to go there with just the aim of 'Permanent Residency'. Agents exploit the desire of the majority in this category to mint money.

While the foreign governments have tightened the visa norms to get rid of unwanted "students", there is no restriction for the genuine students. At the same time, it is pertinent to mention that there is no dearth of good educational institutions in our own country. Students are advised to get properly educated here and then try to go abroad with their professional qualifications and experience. But just keep away from the touts who only eye your money and not your worth. Parents, be aware.

RK Kapoor

Two sides of the coin

There are two sides of the coin of studying abroad. On one side are those who under the guise of easier norms for studying abroad just wanted to fly abroad, on a pretext which looked genuine. On the other side, there is an equally big number of students who got a chance and wanted to give it their best shot. They have gone abroad for studying and have changed the future graph of personal lives, as well as family.

Let us also accept the truth that in a poor job market scenario, for the averagely qualified which is a very sizeable number, back home, many wanted to just go abroad and earn some dollars which meant big money even if they were doing menial jobs there.

Touts managed their entry abroad in wake of easier visa norms. In the name of studying, these people are doing small time jobs liking driving taxis. The student movement abroad was facilitated by a number of educational institutions springing up there for making fast money.

While the government needs to institute a mechanism to save hapless students being exploited under the guise of sending them abroad, the government also needs to create greater employment avenues back home. Perhaps, parents also need to guide their children about the best available opportunities available here and the matching job prospects. They also need to be educated.

Bhupinder Singh Sandhu,
Sanaur village, Patiala

Missing link in accountability

There is no dearth of youth willing to risk their lives in going abroad. The sole reason, for a sizeable majority, remains securing a Permanent Residency card. Hapless parents, many times, are forced to go out of their way in arranging the finances. While many managing going abroad, a sizeable numbers end up loosing all their money and yet are not successful in having their ward fly out of the country.

In Australia and New Zealand, the entry of the students for inconsequential courses like hair cutting, cookery, auto mechanics, and hospitality and community services had opened the flood gates for the gullible students. These courses were just tailored to help them settle there. The Australian government, ultimately, had to cancel many private institutions which were mere vehicles facilitating immigration. The unauthorized institutions and agents are the real beneficiaries out of this unholy trade.

We have bee witness to Tragedies like the Malta, where hundreds of youth were drowned, yet the governments seem unconcerned and are probably waiting for the worst to happen.

I only have a few questions to ask. Why is there no central registration of these touts, travel agents or counsellors which includes all their professional and financial details? Why is there a missing link in the accountability for their action? Why the state government is not verifying the credentials of the institutions, in the specific category, here and abroad?

Capt Amar Jeet Kumar



25,000 take AIEEE in tricity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
About 25,000 students across 41 centres in the tricity appeared for the All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE) held today. The centralised competitive exam conducted annually by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is a gateway to admissions in various engineering and architectural colleges in the country.

With an increase of 5,000 to 7,000 students appearing for the exam in the region, the number of centres in the tricity has also increased this year, said an official.

While talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, the students expressed their satisfaction at the composition of the question paper and the difficulty level of the exam.

“The exam was easy, although physics section was tough, overall paper a bit lengthy,” said Natasha, a student.

With only three to four questions similar to last year’s questions, the paper was on a similar pattern as last year with no unexpected elements, said experts.

“There was not much repetition and questions were on the NCERT pattern,” said Sanjay Kumar Singh, a mathematics teacher.

The students had to attempt all three sections of the paper consisting questions on physics, chemistry and mathematics. Each section consisted 30 questions each in which six questions contained eight marks each and 24 questions weighed four marks. “The students, who score above 50 per cent of the total marks of the exam, can easily get into the reputed engineering colleges,” said another teacher.

Commenting on the level of the exam, Aysuh Agarwal, a teacher said, “Pattern was more or less same as last year with emphasis on the basics. A few questions appeared from the last year’s paper with slight variations. The overall paper was easy, but lengthy.”

“Physics questions were conceptual, while chemistry and mathematics were of mixed difficulty level. We have projected that cut-offs would rise slightly than last year,” he added.

AIEEE at a glance

  • Numbers of centres increased this year to 41 in the tricity
  • Overall level easy, but lengthy
  • Exam on expected pattern
  • Physics questions were conceptual



Dyslexic student videographed for 9 hours
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Pranjay Jain, a dyslexic student, who got an additional hour to write AIEEE test on the intervention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was today videographed for nearly nine hours during the exam.

While the regional office of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which conducts the exam, claimed that they needed the video as evidence, Pranjay’s father accused the CBSE of “treating his son like a criminal.”

A student of DAV Public School, Sector 8, Pranjay, went to give the exam at Vivek High School, Sector 37, today at 9.30am and when he reached at the centre, he found that a video camera was kept right next to him on a vacant table, told his father.

In such a competitive exam, my son was under scanner till 6 pm. The CBSE had no answer to my question when I asked how many centres were being videographed,” said Jain.

“Pranjay was disturbed by the incident. Any normal student would become nervous if kept under scanner for such a long time. In this case, it was not the entire centre, which was being videographed, but the entire focus was on Pranjay. I went to the court to seek extra time for my son, maybe that is the reason for the CBSE’s over cautious attitude, which actually caused him trouble,” he added.

Stating that he failed to understand why such hype was created, Jain said till the exam commenced, he was not told whether his son would get an extra hour and if the court orders had been received.

Meanwhile, CBSE officials dismissed the complaint saying that since such a provision of giving an extra hour to the dyslexic students happened for the first time, the videographing was needed as the evidence.



ETT aspirants to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

Bassi Pathana, April 25
ETT aspirants would intensify their agitation if the state government did not concede their demands. All class masters, block master trainers (BMT), CMT and coordinators would submit their resignation on May 1 and would derail the “Paro Punjab” programme of the government, said Gurwinder Singh Ghuman, district president, and Jagtar Singh, a member of the state executive committee, while addressing the meeting of ETT teachers here today.

They said their agitation was in the final phase and they would adopt do or die attitude. They said their agitation would be peaceful and would force the government to concede their demands of bringing them under the education department instead of the Zila Parishad and local bodies.

They said on May 14, a state-level meeting would be organised at Fatehgarh Sahib to decide the next course of action.



Dances, plays mark annual day celebrations
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 25
Captivating performance of students in a song-cum-dance sequence “Masti ki Pathshala”, Gujarati dance and western dance left audience awestruck during the annual day function of Kendriya Vidyalaya No 1, Chandi Mandir Cantt, yesterday.

Brig Amil Kumar Shori, Western Command, inaugurated the function by lighting a lamp followed by Saraswati vandana at the Manekshaw Auditorium.

His wife Lok Bala Shori gave away the prizes to the students for excelling in academics, sports and co-scholastic activities.

The students also staged an English play “The Dear Departed” depicting hypocrisy of a man and hollowness of human relationships in a family. The Hindi play “Vande Matram” regaled the audience by highlighting the ignorance of common people towards the national song. Earlier principal Bhupinder Kaur presented the annual report highlighting the achievements of the school in multifarious activities during the session 2009-2010.



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