C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


All talk, no work
No agenda item taken up at MC meeting
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Agenda not discussed

  • Providing 60 mm thick pavement blocks on V-5 road in Sectors 23, 24 and 36.
  • Strengthening, widening and recarpeting of roads in Sectors 27, 35, 31, 20, 16, 40, 17 and 28; and Shivalik Enclave, Manimajra.
  • Extension of community centre at Sector 44.
  • Construction of shopping complex at Mauli Jagran.

Delay in e-tendering hits

Works under public health and PWD worth approximately Rs 9 crore.

Drainage system at Bapu Dham Colony.

A reservoir at Sector 31 for storing tertiary water.

Laser fountain at Sector 17 at a cost of Rs 3.5 crore

Chandigarh, April 29
Yet another MC meeting today ended without any decision or even a discussion on development issues on the agenda. In a pre-mediated agenda, the discussion did not go beyond the CITCO controversy over parking space at Hotel Shivalikvew and e-tendering before the house stood up for the national anthem that marked the end of the house proceedings for the day.

A single meeting of the MC costs more than Rs 1 lakh.

None of the two dozen issues listed for discussion were even mentioned before the 153rd meeting of the house. The agenda items included estimates of repairs and widening of roads in various sectors, construction of shopping centre at Vikas Nagar, Mauli Jagran, replacement and augmentation of sewers, construction and renovation works at community centre buildings of Sectors 8 and 44-B.

Work on all projects under consideration is delayed by more than a month because it cannot commence until the agenda is passed in the next meeting.

Councillors came prepared to corner the bureaucracy as soon as the meeting started at 11 am. Former Mayor Pradip Chhabra, who is involved in a legal battle with CITCO over his office in Hotel Shivalikvew, began the argument, saying: “I went from pillar to post to sort out my personal issue of a shop in the hotel before moving to the court. At the same time, the administration has turned a blind eye to its own encroachments at the same spot.” He also levelled allegations against Municipal Commissioner Roshan Sankaria for favouring CITCO.

Other councillors, including Ram Lal (BJP), former Mayor Harjinder Kaur and Jatinder Bhatia (BSP) raised the issue of delay in works as the e-tendering process was supposed to commence from April 1.

Ram Lal also showed bottles containing contaminated water collected from Hallo Majra village.



Promoting Tourism
Picture perfect not even on paper
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

‘We will look into it’

UT tourism director Amandeep Kaur expressed her ignorance on the outdated tourism brochures, but said: “We will revise the literature very soon. As for the maps, they are already in publication.”

Just another job

At any tourist city one would expect energetic, enthusiastic and smartly turned out receptionists. But this is not the case here. The UT administration could easily draw on the talent of students of over 10 hospitality and management institutes in the city who could be readily available for training and internship programmes and assist in manning tourism information centres.

Chandigarh, April 29
The city has only 47 sectors. Residents of all Sectors from 48 to 63 do not exist. This is not a supposition. This is what the department of tourism is making tourists and visitors believe.

The department’s sketchy city map only displays sectors up to Sector 47. The administration has forgotten that the first group housing society to be constructed in the city was over a decade ago in Sector 48. Since then, Sectors 48 to 51 alone have added at least 60 housing societies.

Chandigarh may be vying for a heritage status, but the sloppy efforts of the tourism department to promote the city as a tourist destination is likely to be an embarrassment if not an impediment.

A visit to the three tourist information centres at the Sector 17 plaza, the ISBT in Sector 17 and the railway station present a dismal picture of tourism as a concept and that of the city as a destination.

This is notwithstanding the numerous trips that senior functionaries of the UT administration have made abroad in the past on the pretext of studying tourism and to apparently “utilise” western concepts in promoting the city.

Sectors 48 to 63 missing from this official map of the tourism department
Sectors 48 to 63 missing from this official map of the tourism department.

The printed material available at the tourist centre at the ISBT seems to have been last revised years ago. Several cinema halls, eateries and discotheques listed in the guide map and other brochures are either redundant or no longer exist while those that have opened in recent years find no mention.

Most eating joints listed in the brochure titled “Eating Out Cuisine” have since long shut shop. None of the restaurants and coffee shops with international brands that have opened in the city over the last three to four years find mention.

It is a similar story with the city’s gardens. While there is a separate brochure dedicated to the city’s greenery titled “Chandigarh-City of Gardens”, none of the gardens, which have been carefully crafted over the recent years after pumping in crores of rupees from the taxpayers’ money, find any mention.

The city now has two malls, yet the only shopping mall that exists for the department is Ebony and it is located “on Madhya Marg”.

The specially set up tourist centre in Sector 17 does not expect any tourist or visitor to the city to make enquiries. How else does one explain that no one mans the centre. A lone security guard sits outside the centre, guarding the empty kiosk with a bored expression.

It also seems that the tourism department does not value passengers or tourists arriving on any of the nine trains other than Shatabdi Express since the functioning of the centre at the railway station coincides with the arrival of the Shatabdi and remains closed for the remaining hours.



Heritage list eludes city
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Even as the debate on the overseas auction of Chandigarh’s heritage, particularly items associated with its creator Le Corbusier, rages on, the UT Administration says it has no official heritage list.

A committee formed by the administration under its chief architect to check the items reportedly related to Corbusier in the backdrop of the February 16 auction of sketches and drawings on him by the Paris-based auction house Artcurial has failed to submit its report. This is despite the fact that Chandigarh has been making a bid to be on UNESCO’s world heritage list.

Confirming that the report is yet to be submitted, Finance-cum-Urban Planning Secretary Sanjay Kumar promised that it would be submitted soon.

There seems to be confusion on what constitutes city’s “heritage” given the fact that most buildings, maps and artefacts of Chandigarh did not fulfil the mandatory 100-year existence for qualifying as heritage. “Since Chandigarh is the first planned city of the 20th century, it certainly qualifies as modern heritage,” says Dr SS Bhatti, a former principal of the Chandigarh College of Architecture.

“With the exception of buildings and the city as a manifestation of Le Corbusier’s master plan, everything belongs to the movable heritage, including items of furniture which are erroneously regarded as designed by Corbusier.”

Pierre Jeanneret, Corbusier’s cousin, in his capacity as the chief architect and chief town planning adviser to the Government of Punjab, designed the bulk of city sectors and its architecture, besides furniture and murals,” he added.

While no serious effort has been made to document Chandigarh’s heritage, “half-baked” information published in a section of the press about the recent auction of Corbusier’s furniture by London’s Saatchi art gallery was giving a wrong impression about what constituted city’s heritage.

“The outcry about Chandigarh’s heritage being auctioned abroad is absurd. Broken furniture or moulds for bas-relief sculptures or any other item must have found its way to auction houses abroad when it was disposed of unwittingly by the bureaucracy and it certainly cannot be classified as city’s heritage,” Dr Bhatti stated.

Preserving heritage

Experts say that a committee, preferably comprising non-bureaucrats, should be constituted to lay down guidelines on what constitutes Chandigarh’s heritage. Besides, the Government Museum, City Museum and Le Corbusier Centre must be headed by professionals. A monitoring authority should be put in place to protect, preserve, conserve, and extend Chandigarh’s heritage.



DC’s official driver held with poppy husk
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The police today arrested Sanjeev Sharma, 35, a driver of the UT deputy commissioner’s official vehicle, on charges of having poppy husk in his possession after he had gone in the car to a Sector 24 shop to buy the contraband. Interestingly, the role of the additional deputy commissioner’s official driver has also come under the scanner following Sharma’s revelation that the latter had picked up the consignment on instruction of the ADC’s driver.

Sources close to the Chandigarh police’s crime branch said Sharma, driver of the DC’s official Ambassador car (registration no: CH01 G11111), was apprehended while carrying 750 grams of poppy husk from the Sector 24 market last night. He was earlier posted as a driver in the UT Red Cross department.

The police had laid a picket following a tipoff that Sharma had bought the contraband from a driver of a Chandigarh Transport Undertaking bus, Jagmal Singh, through Ravinder alias Kaku, owner of Panipat Sweets Shop, located at SCO 83 in Sector 24. Jagmal drives on CTU’s long distance Chandigarh-Jaipur route.

According to the police, Sharma, a resident of Sector 40D, admitted he was addicted to poppy and had bought the contraband for Rs 1,100 from Jagmal through Ravinder.

A police officer said Sharma also revealed that Jasvir, the additional deputy commissioner’s official driver, had sent him (Sharma) to pick up the ‘consignment’ from the shop after paying Rs 1,100 to the Kaku. According to Sharma, before sending him to the shop Jasvir told him he had called up Kaku who would deliver the contraband to him.

When asked why the car was not impounded, a senior police officer said the vehicle was left in the market’s parking lot and when the suspect was walking when he was apprehended. The car was not involved in the crime, he added.

The sources said that, taking a serious view of drivers of such senior officials being involved in drugs, a special report has been drafted which would be forwarded to senior police officers.

A case under section 20 of the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act has been registered at the Sector 11 police station. The police said the role of the other two suspects in the cases was being examined.

Meanwhile, Sanjeev was produced before a local court that released him on bail.



Census Duty
Minister’s word won’t help shirkers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 29
Even a recommendation from the Punjab education minister did not help employees of the Punjab School Education Board to skip census duty. A senior official associated with the census operation, requesting anonymity, said: “More than two dozen employees had approached the census authorities, seeking an exemption from duty. They had cited urgent official work as the reason.”

Official sources confirmed that similar “excuse letters” had also come from other departments, including education.

The census commences from May 1 and would go on till June 15. Officials concerned of the school board had earlier failed to turn up at the training sessions and had announced that they would not be participating in the census exercise.

More than 100 employees have been put on population count and more than two dozen are abstaining from duty. The principal census officer, Mohali district, took up the matter with the Census Commissioner who further took up the matter with the Principal Secretary, Punjab. Sources said the board officials have been told to join duty, failing which strict departmental action would be initiated against them.

Complaints have also been lodged against such employees with the police.

The issue of absence of officials was also pointed out during a meeting with census officials, chaired by the DC-cum-principal census officer, today.

The BPDOs were also asked to make public announcements, particularly at religious places in villages, so that residents could get their names listed on population rolls.


Toor Murder Case: Mother, brother leave for US
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 29
The mother and brother of the doctor who was shot dead by a former Chinese colleague in the US left for America today. The cremation is likely to be held in the US.

Dr Vijender Singh Toor was shot dead in the US by a former Chinese colleague, Lishan Wang, on Monday when he was in the parking area outside his house and leaving for work. His pregnant wife, Parneeta Toor, was also attacked but she escaped unhurt.

SS Toor, father of the deceased, had left for America earlier and today mother Parsanjit Kaur, and brother Tejinder Singh, left for the US.

Capt Tina Dhir, wife of Tejinder Singh, said it was not sure whether the body of her brother-in-law would be brought back to Mohali or not. She said that Parneeta was pregnant and was having some complications with her pregnancy and doctors there had advised her not to travel in such a state. Moreover, the formalities to bring back the body to India were taking long because the case was criminal in nature. She said the final decision would be taken after her mother-in-law and her husband reached the US.

She said that Dr Toor had come to India with his family in 2007 to attend the marriage of his brother. She said he had done his MBBS from Faridkot. He went for higher studies to the US and did his MD in internal medicine from there. Now, he was enrolled for fellowship in infectious diseases at the Yale School of Medicine and would have completed his studies in a year’s time.

Darshan Kaur, an aunt of the deceased, said Vijender was a very hard working person and was temperamentally very cool.

Dr Toor had gone to the US about five years ago and was living there with his wife, Parneeta Toor, and a three-year-old son, Angad.

Toor and Wang had worked together earlier. Wang was dismissed from his job in a hospital after a confrontation with Toor where the latter had worked as his superviser.



Bhiwani resident electrocuted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Manoj Kumar, a resident of Bhiwani in Haryana, was electrocuted after he came in contact with live wire while drawing water from a hand pump at Dhanas village here this afternoon.

The police said an electric motor was installed on the hand pump and the victim came in contact with the wire after he accidentally sprinkled water on the motor. He was taken to the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, where he was declared brought dead.

Manoj had come to the city along with his maternal uncle from Rajasthan on a truck for sightseeing. The post-mortem examination would be conducted tomorrow. Meanwhile, the police has initiated inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code in this regard.



Do not resume sites of schools, HC to admn
Defiance of 15 pc quota for poor kids

Tribune News Service

CBSE directed to assist

The High Court has asked the Central Board of Secondary Education to assist the court on the issue of hefty fee being charged by private schools. The Bench of Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Jasbir Singh issued the directions after it was brought to the court’s notice that some schools in Punjab were charging enormous fee. Their ground for the same was that they were imparting education to students in air-conditioned classrooms.

Chandigarh, April 29
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked the Chandigarh administration not to initiate process of resuming sites of educational institutions for their failure to fulfil the condition of providing 15 per cent reservation for children from economically weaker section of society.

The directions will remain in force till the pendency of main petition pending before the High Court.

It is scheduled to come up for hearing on May 19. The directions by the Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Jasbir Singh, came during the hearing of an application moved by the Independent Schools Association, Chandigarh.

It has challenged the directives regarding 15 per cent reservation. A petition filed by a city resident in the matter is also pending.

It has been alleged despite being allotted land at highly subsidised rates, private schools were not providing the mandatory 15 per cent reservation.

Notice has already been issued to the Chandigarh administration and other respondents to file their response on the matter.

On the other hand, protesting the 15 per cent reservation, the independent schools association is of the view that only 15 schools out of 80 private schools were allotted land by the administration on the condition for the reservation for the EWS.

Plea on NRI seats dismissed

The court today refused to convert the seats meant for non-resident Indians into general category in Panjab University. With this, Justice Permod Kohli of the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed a petition filed by a city resident. The petitioner, Rajiv Chugh, had claimed that he had applied for admission to LLB course. There were 404 seats notified for open and reserved category and 27 seats for foreign national and NRIs.

After counselling in September 2009, all 404 seats in the open category were filled. However, the 27 seats reserved for NRIs were not due to non-availability of eligible candidates. He prayed that these unfilled seats be filled by converting these in general category. After hearing the arguments, Justice Permod Kohli held that the purpose of NRI seats was to provide opportunity to the NRIs to unite their children with Indian culture and to explore the possibility of their return to India at some stage. “I find no reason to strike down the condition laid in prospectus, merely because there were desirous candidates for admission against the NRI seats by offering more fee or they were likely to get selected, in event of conversion of NRI seats in general category,” held Justice Permod Kohli, who further held that conversion of such seats was not permissible.



Lack of admission norms leaves students in lurch
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

No uniform criteria

“Schools are forced to conduct tests when they are confronted by a large number of applicants for limited seats. Schools themselves decide on the criteria for admission,” said district education officer Chanchal Singh. However he had no reply on why there were no uniform criteria for these tests in all the schools.

Chandigarh, April 29
Absence of a uniform admission policy, long delayed upgrade of school infrastructure coupled with the UT education department’s sheer indifference has left thousands of city students unable to gain entrance to various government model schools.

Most of these schools have restricted their student intake to not more than three or four as, according to them, they either do not have seats or the teachers required.

“Every day I witness a drama in front of my school. Parents go there and struggle to get the wards admitted but we can’t help them as there are no seats. Besides most schools are facing a staff crunch. Though the education department had pledged to upgrade our school it has failed to do so till date and it is us who are being blamed,” said a principal of a government model school in the city.

Though the number of applicants at various government Schools has jumped by almost 30 per cent this year the education department, despite repeated promises, has failed to increase the number of seats proportionately, leaving many students in the lurch.

Interestingly, the schools are not only pleading a ‘no vacancy’ to the applicants but are also referring them to rural or non-model schools where conditions are even worse.

“I wanted my child to be admitted to a school in Sector 28 or Sector 32 as they are within a kilometer of my home. Both the schools refused admission saying there were no vacant seats. When I went to the education department officials for assistance they referred me to a school in Vikas Nagar,” said Madhu Karan Singh, a parent who had approached the district education officer for help.

In addition, the introduction of self-designed written tests by schools has left many complaining about the lack of transparency in the entire admission process, which appeared to be dependent on the whims and fancies of principals.

The schools themselves set the question papers, check answer sheets and declare results without any intervention of the education department. The matter came to the fore when Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 16 conducted such a test for class 9 and the department justified it saying it was required.



Syndicate Meeting
No major violent incidents in 4 years: Panel
Tribune News Service


  • University and college teachers to be designated as assistant professors, associate professors and professors
  • Revision of rates of university guesthouses
  • Commencement of a government constituent college at Balachaur in collaboration with the Punjab government
  • Department heads to mandatory imply with decisions of the Senate and Syndicate

Media bashing

According to sources, while discussing Chatrath report, the Syndicate took a serious notice of the conduct of media in the campus. Accusing the media of blowing things out of proportion, the university is mulling over starting its own accreditation of journalists. It has also clarified that all university officials, including chairpersons, coordinators and other university officials, will communicate to the media through the director public relations only

Chandigarh, April 29
In its Syndicate meeting held today, Panjab University has lauded itself for successfully controlling incidents of violence in the campus in the last four years. Approving the report submitted by a committee constituted under GK Chatrath, Syndicate members have observed that as per the data of the last four years, it’s only one major incident of violence, which was reported from UIET.

Most of the other incidents, which were attributed to the university’s name, happened outside the campus premises.

The committee, however, has recommended that the university should tighten its security and regulate the entry of outsiders.

Taking a major step towards boosting its infrastructure, the House approved the proposal for investing Rs 1.10 crore for the equipment purchase, while the department of mathematics has received a grant of Rs 1 crore under the Centre for Advanced Study Programme.

It has also been decided to reserve two per cent of seats in all courses in respect of persons killed as a result of terrorist violence, children of families of Sikh migrants or 100 per cent disabled.

Taking a serious note of the controversies surrounding the functions held at the university, the Syndicate has decided that various functions/fairs of the university should not be held simultaneously on the same day.

The VC also stated that no private educational institute will be allowed to sponsor any university function or event hereafter nor any poster/publicity material of any private institution will be allowed to be used on the campus premises.

Another major decision came in form of a recommendation of steps to strengthen the public relations department of the university.

The VC announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the upgradation and infrastructural development of the office of the director, public relations, in order to enable and empower it to meet the new challenges in the present context.



Pvt schools to submit details of EWS seats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Going a step further on the issue of introducing mandatory 15 per cent reservation in the city private schools for the students of Economically Weaker Sections (EWS), finance secretary Sanjay Kumar has asked the private schools to submit details of their vacant EWS seats.

In a meeting held today with the schools’ directors, Kumar asked them to compile a data of the total number of seats in Classes I to IX, which can be allotted to the EWS students.

“The schools are all ready for the reservation but have put forth a demand for clear cut policy. We have asked them to give us the details first, following which an action plan will be made with their consent and eventually implemented,” said Sanjay Kumar.

According to sources, the schools have asked the administration to shoulder the responsibility of providing them the database of the kids falling under this category.



From Schools and Colleges

Saupin’s wins intellectual marathon

mohali: Saupin’s School, Sector 32, Chandigarh, stood first in the inter-school multiple intellectual marathon, which concluded at the Millennium School here today. The host school stood second and Bhavan Vidyalaya, Panchkula, stood third.

The students of Classes VI to IX from 35 schools of the tricity took part in the marathon. School principal Komal Singh said the marathon exposed the students to intellectual and physical abilities. Every participating school sent a student each to represent sports, English, Hindi, mathematics, science, computers and general awareness and each student contributed points towards the final score. — TNS

Maths contest

Aneetinder Kaur, a Class IX student of St Xavier’s School, Mohali, has got 13th rank in the all-India maths science competition. Manpreet Bangian of Class X and Nikita Charan of Class IX bagged the first position in the Frank Anthony All-India inter-school debate competition held at Patiala. Nikita Charan and Manpreet Bangian also bagged the second prize in the declamation supported by visuals in the ICSE Science Emporian held at St Xavier's School, Chandigarh. — TNS



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