C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Encroachers set to get ‘dream house’, courtesy admn
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

New tenements that are being constructed for slum-dwellers at Mauli Jagran in Chandigarh.
New tenements that are being constructed for slum-dwellers at Mauli Jagran in Chandigarh. Tribune photos: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, May 18
It pays to be an encroacher on public land in Chandigarh. As many as 23,841 “eligible” slum families, consisting of over 1 lakh population illegally squatting over 200 acres of prime commercial land worth thousands of crores of rupees, are set to be rewarded with the “dream house” by the Chandigarh Administration under its ambitious but controversial slum rehabilitation project.

However, even after spending Rs 1,187 crore on the resettlement project, Chandigarh’s dream of becoming the first “slum-free” city will hardly be realised, as over 1 lakh “ineligible” slum-dwellers will continue to occupy the vacant land, hampering development projects for whom the government land is meant.

Interestingly, the administration’s largesse for migrants is in sharp contrast to the plight of over 5,000 families of the original inhabitants of the city and thousands of other residents for whom getting even a tenement in Chandigarh is a distant dream.

While important projects, including housing projects of the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB), await clearance on account of encroachment of public land, the administration has earmarked about 356 acres (20 per cent) of the net available 2,811 acres for the rehab project in 18 colonies at eight locations across the city.

Each dwelling unit will cost the state exchequer Rs 4.7 lakh and would be allotted on a licence fee basis.The licence fee worked out to be more than Rs 3,300 per dwelling. However, a generous administration has decided to charge only Rs 1,000 a month from each dweller.

And in case of strange economics, the Central Government’s share is 80 per cent in the entire project, while the UT Administration will chip in with 8 per cent share. Surprisingly, the ultimate beneficiary will only contribute his share of 12 per cent of the total cost and that too in instalments.

“It is a typical case of misplaced priorities as a substantial number of original inhabitants are as poor as the slum dwellers. Surprisingly, while the administration had never come out with a rehabilitation scheme for the original inhabitants, slum dwellers are being rehabilitated time and again,” alleged Angrej Singh, president of the Pind Bhacho Committee.

While the success of earlier rehabilitation schemes is debatable, the administration is proposing to turn the city “slum-free” and a give a dignified look to the less-privileged under the current project as part of its social commitment initiative.

Under earlier rehabilitation schemes, when freehold plots were allotted to the slum dwellers, there were large-scale sale of tenements by the beneficiaries. Apparently to plug the loopholes of the earlier schemes, the UT Administration came out with the Chandigarh Small Flats Schemes 2006 under which the dwelling units were to be allotted on a rental basis. The cut-off year was 2006 by which the “name of the persons will appear in the latest voters list”.

Meanwhile, under the new scheme, the settlements will be integrated mini-townships with a provision for dispensaries, creches, anganwaris, schools, community centres and services shops.

Each block of 64 flats will have a common open area, regular drinking water supply, overhead water storage tanks, streetlights, metalled roads and parks.



Pay for legal battle, admn tells CHB
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
The UT administration has washed its hands off the amount to be paid to the two arbitrators appointed by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) in the ongoing tussle between the board and the realtor, Parsavnath Developers.

In a letter shot off to the board recently, Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar has asked the CHB, which is the nodal agency, to bear all expenses of the legal battle. The board has spent about Rs 15 lakh on legal proceedings till date.

“Arbitration proceedings are going on between the board and the developer. The responsibility of bearing all expenses lies with the former. It cannot escape it,” he said.

Parsavnath was supposed to construct a commercial and housing project on 123 acres near the IT Park under a public partnership scheme, but it ran into rough weather even before the scheme could start.

Consequently, arbitrators were appointed and since January, the arbitrators held a series of meetings, which failed to yield any concrete results.

The CHB had sought a compensation of Rs 2,800 crore from the realtor while the latter had sought a compensation of Rs 1,300 crore.

A few months back, the CHB and the realtor had appointed Justice DP Wadhwa and Justice Amar Dutt their respective arbitrators to sort out the matter. By agreement, the board and Parsavnath had appointed Justice SC Aggarwal as the common arbitrator.

For the hearing on April 8, the board had deposited Rs 1.5 lakh as the fee for hearing. Prior to this, Rs 6 lakh was deposited for four hearings. The CHB had also deposited Rs 7.5 lakh as advance for the upcoming five hearings.

Sources claimed that the CHB was pinning its hopes on the arbitrators that they, after a series of hearings in their presence, would be successful in terminating the memorandum of understanding and getting the permission to forfeit the amount of Rs 517 crore given by the realtor.

However, CHB sources claimed that the board was only a nodal agency. The escrow account of the board and the realtor had already been sealed and hence, the expenses should be borne by the UT administration.

A default notice had earlier been served on the realtor for neither starting the project in time, nor completing it. It was further stated in the notice that the remaining amount of Rs 314 crore had also not been paid.

Following this, the realtor, taking legal recourse, had appointed its arbitrator, after which the board appointed its arbitrator. The CHB had signed a memorandum of understanding with Parsavnath Developers for a housing and commercial project near the IT Park in 2006. This project was supposed to be completed within three years, but neither was the project completed, nor did the builder paid the remaining amount to the CHB.



Laser CCTVs to keep an eye on city’s markets
Ramanjit Singh Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
The city’s major shopping centers will hopefully now become more safe and secure with the Chandigarh police initiating the process of installing ‘laser sensor equipped’ closed circuit television cameras at markets as well as traffic light intersections. The cameras will sound an alarm whenever any one tries to cross the ‘virtual fencing’.

“The project, begun on a trial basis at the jewellers market in Sector 22, is the first of its kind in the country”, said Ravinder Datar, a project manager at the German-based firm Schnieder Electric. He said a similar project under way at Gurgaon is at its initial stage.

Besides the Sector 22 market the police has selected traffic light intersections near the municipal corporation building in Sector 17 and on the road dividing Sectors 16 and 17 for surveillance on a trial basis. CCTV cameras installed at these places will draw a ‘virtual laser sensor line’ between them. If anybody crosses the line in front of the showroom or at the zebra crossings at the intersections, the cameras will send a beep to alert operators at the control room set up at the Sector 17 police station, Datar told TNS while explaining the functioning of the cameras.

“They (CCTV cameras) have installed at a distance of 25 to 30 meters between them. More cameras will be put up at places having long corridors for better coverage. Each camera costs about Rs 50,000 though the expense involved in fixing the sensors is nominal”, he added.

“Apart from capturing people arousing suspicion and traffic violators, these analytic cameras will also sound an alert on finding any unattended object lying in an area under their range. The cameras will be equipped with software that will enable them to send a beep if they detect an object lying at a place for a long time”, Datar said while detailing the project’s additional features.

The police has invested Rs 4.5 crore on installing CCTV cameras throughout the city. The project’s engineers said they were introducing small modalities to make the cameras more efficient as per the police’s requirements.

Engineers from the German company today gave a demonstration to the DSP (PCR) Roshan Lal and Sector 17 police station SHO inspector Jaswinder Singh.

Lal told TNS the trial runs have been on for the past six days. “If they give the desired results the cameras will be installed in all major markets in the city”, he added. 



Theft Fallout
PEC teachers want grills for windows
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Such is the fright of mischievous students at the PEC University of Technology, who steal answer sheets and question papers from teachers’ offices, that nearly half a dozen requests have been made to the authorities for iron grills on office windows.

Breaking of windowpanes, stealing of keys of professors’ rooms and bribing of peons have given nightmares to the teachers in the past. They have devised innovative ways to catch them red-handed.

“I had suspicion about a student. After I received a letter hinting at it, I decided to lay a trap. I got answer sheets of certain students photocopied and a colleague was called to testify the investigation. The student got the keys of my office and tampered with his answer sheet. The next day, when I tallied the answer sheets, I found the discrepancy,” said Dr Hans Raj Seedhar, a retired PEC professor.

The student was counselled and he complimented his teacher on the method.

A similar incident occurred in 2007, when question papers were stolen from the office of a professor of the metallurgy department.

The estate management-cum-advisory committee made certain recommendations, including grills on windows, at a meeting on December 27, 2007.

“Security of question papers is the responsibility of the faculty. Putting grills on room windows is both an architectural and a security issue. If putting grills does not distort the architecture and is permissible, it will be implemented,” said Manoj Dutta, PEC Director.

“There have been some such incidents in the past, following which the advisory committee made a recommendation for the installation of iron grills on faculty office windows,” said Prof SK Suman, PEC’s estate officer.

“Two years ago, a peon was caught red-handed selling a question paper to students. Asked to get the paper photocopied, he had got it photocopied to sell it,” said another faculty member.



Beer sales jump as mercury soars
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Boasting the highest per capita income in the country, city residents are saying cheers over mugs of beer like never before this summer. Blame it on their changing lifestyles or the early onset of hot weather, beer guzzlers are having a ball as can been seen by an unprecedented rise in sales of beer this season.

In fact, a look at the figures for April is sufficient proof, if one were needed, that beer has caught the fancy of the city’s tipplers. Compared to 125,000 cases in April 2009, sales have jumped by 18,000 to 143,000 cases in the same period this year.

With the mercury hovering at over 40 degrees Celsius for several days last month, the spurt in beer sales was understandable. In fact, on April 19, the maximum temperature rose to 42.7 degrees, the season’s highest, giving enough indications of the effect of weather on beer sales.

Excise officials observed the rise in sales of beer in April was phenomenal. “Usually sales pick up in May and June before stagnating in July, but this year has been an exception,” said an excise official, adding the hot weather was the prime reason for the jump in beer sales.

Echoing a similar view, liquor contractor Satpal said while the June-like hot weather experienced last month was the major reason behind the sudden increase in sales, changing lifestyles was also a contributing factor.

With over 200 liquor stores supported by almost an equal number of ‘ahatas’ (drinking places) and airconditioned taverns, the city appears to be a beer lovers’ paradise. “The presence of scores of hotels-cum-bars and clubs offer an added attraction for bacchus lovers to cool themselves with a mug of beer”, averred Anil Sharma, a diehard beer lover and an IT professional.

And, given its low alcohol content, it is not uncommon to see women and teenagers gulping the brewed beverage - dubbed by many as a “ladies’ drink” - at bars and clubs. “Beer’s relatively low alcohol content also makes beer a daytime drink, which also pushes up sales in summer”, observed Amarjit Singh, an employee of a tavern in Sector 48.

In its 2010-11 excise policy the UT administration had showcased the “shift from the hard to light drink” as its major objective. Even as the policy had come under attack from various quarters, this particular objective seems to have been achieved in April.



CBSE Class XII, CISCE results today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) will be declaring its Class XII board exam results for Chennai, Ajmer and Panchkula regions tomorrow.

“The results will be announced tomorrow and will be available on the official website www.cbseresults.nic.in<http://www.cbseresults.nic.in/>. The students can also register online in advance and get their results on e-mail,” said, DR Yadav, regional director, CBSE.

The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) will also announce the Indian Certificate of Secondary Education (ICSE i.e. Class X) and Indian School Certificate (ISC i.e. Class XII) examination 2010 results tomorrow at 3 pm. Once declared, the candidates will be able to check the results by logging on the website: <http://www.cisce.org/>

The Tribune wishes all students good luck for their results. If you want to share that unusual aspect, which makes your board’s score special, reach out to us resultstribune@gmail.com <mailto:resultstribune@gmail.com> along with your picture and copy of marksheet or write to us at City Editor, The Tribune, Sector 29, Chandigarh.


Desilting at Sukhna picks up
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
With the monsoon barely a month away, the UT administration has sped up desilting at the Sukhna lake, with men and machines working all night to remove the maximum silt.

The move comes following the recent installation of CCTV cameras to keep a watch on the progress of desilting.

Though all machines and equipment used during the day cannot be used at night owing to technical hitches and manpower, dumpers are being used at night to remove silt from the lakebed near the regulator end.

The silt is being transported to pre-designated points in the city. To facilitate workers at night, the regulator end has been lit with haloge bulbs and lights mounted on pillars.

“We are confident of removing more than the target amount of silt. Working at night has benefits. The silt removed from the lakebed can easily be transported to the city, with no traffic on roads,” said Sanjay Kumar, Finance Secretary-cum-engineering department head.

Sources claimed that desilting would come to a standstill with the onset of the monsoon as machines could get stuck.

As of now, the target was 2.5 lakh cubic feet per 24 hours. During the last 24 hours, around 2.35 lakh cubic feet of silt was removed.

The administration had been facing an uphill task in removing 80 lakh cubic feet of silt from a 72-acre dry patch at the regulator end.

Though officials maintained that this task would be accomplished in three to five years, it was, in all likelihood, expected to take longer.



Visit to community centre
Staff fail to recognise Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Officials of the municipal corporation, including Mayor Anu Chathrath, Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria, Joint Commissioner TPS Phoolka and others were in for a shock when on a visit to one of the community centres today, the staff did not recognise them.

The officials were on a visit to five community centres, including Sectors 8, 11, 15, 16 and 23 to check whether there was a need to renovate these. When the officials reached a community centre in Sector 23, the staff there did not recognise them.

It was found that two rooms in the community centre were illegally occupied.

The officials will pay more visits to various community centres in the coming days.



Drizzle brings respite from heat wave
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Just when the heat wave seemed to be at its zenith, with people preferring to remain indoors, came a drizzle, a dust storm and plenty of clouds this afternoon to lower the temperature marginally in some parts of the city and neighbouring areas of Punjab and Haryana. Light showers brought down the day temperature slightly by 0.8 degree Celsius to 40.2 degree Celsius.

The minimum temperature, on the other hand, rose by 1.9 degree Celsius and settled at 29.4 degree Celsius, 9 degrees above normal. The relative maximum and minimum humidity was pegged at 46 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively.

For the past many days, there was no relief from the hot and humid weather all over the region.

Power cuts and erratic water supply had made the lives of the people all the more miserable in some areas.

The pleasant evening prompted residents to rush out of their homes to enjoy the weather, that was short-lived, to their dismay. The hot conditions in May were characterised by above-normal temperatures over the region and the highest temperature was recorded at 42 degree Celsius on May 16.

Experts said the high temperatures were an indication of a good monsoon this year. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, the monsoon was likely to be normal this year.

According to the Met office, this afternoon’s mild showers were the result of a disturbance over western Rajasthan and adjoining areas. The Met office predicted that the western disturbance would affect the western Himalayan region during next two or three days and might also affect the plains of north-west India during the next 24 hours.

Hailstorms and thunder squalls could occur at isolated places over the city, Punjab and Haryana. The weatherman predicted a partly cloudy sky, with the possibility of rain and thundershowers, accompanied by squall, in the next 24 hours.

The maximum and minimum temperatures would hover around 40 degree Celsius and 27 degree Celsius, respectively, the Met Department said.



Fighting vitiligo stigma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Vitiligo, also known as “leukoderma”, “phulwahri” or “safed daag” is not infectious and can’t spread from one person to another by any kind of contact as presumed by majority of the people rendering the patients as untouchables.

Vitiligo day is observed by the Indian Association of Dermatologists (IADVL) on May 19 in an endeavour to remove myths and stigma about vitiligo in the society and spreading awareness regarding its treatment.

In fact it is perfectly safe to touch, hug, kiss and have sexual relations with a patient with vitiligo and there is no reason not to marry a person with vitiligo. It is only a cosmetic problem and not an infectious disease, said the doctors at dermatology department of Chandigarh.

Vitiligo is an acquired disorder of pigmentation characterised by white patches over skin and mucosa and affects 0.5 per cent -2.0 per cent of the world population.

It can start at any age, affect both sexes and all races. However, it is more prominent in people with dark skin. Most people who have vitiligo are in good health and suffer no symptoms other than areas of pigment loss.

The body's own immune system destroys the pigment cells, responsible for the colour of the skin, leading to formation of white patches. The skin in vitiligo is normal except for the loss of colour.

A combination of genetic, immunologic, and environmental factors is responsible for pathogenesis of disease. Informing about the symptoms, doctors said it starts as a white patch on skin-commonly on legs, sides of ankles, elbows, over the fingers and perioral region. White patches may either be localised to a few areas or may spread throughout the body.

Diagnosis of vitiligo is mainly based on patient’s history and clinical examination. Majority of patients have onset of their disease before 20 years of age. In a study of 625 children with vitiligo seen over 10 years at the dermatology department, PGI, mean age of onset of disease was 6.2 years. The most frequent site of onset was head and neck, followed by the lower limbs, trunk, upper limbs, and mucosae.

Other autoimmune diseases were present in only 1.3 per cent patients. In two different studies published from PGI, topical tacrolimus and narrow band UVB phototherapy have been found to be safe and effective in treating vitiligo in children and adolescents.

For treatment, doctors suggest early diagnosis and treatment for better outcome. The choice of therapy depends on number of white patches, their location, areas involved and how extensive are the patches. Each patient responds differently to treatment.



Ushmeet first in painting
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 18
On-the-spot painting competition was organised by the Punjab Pollution Control Board for schoolchildren at Shivalik Public School, Phase VI, Mohali, here today.

More than 80 students from 10 schools participated in the competition. Kanwar Rajinder Singh, an associate professor at Government College, Mohali, was the judge. Theme of the competition was “Many Species, One Planet, One Future”.

The board will organise various activities like painting competition, tree plantation and debates in various schools. A state-level function on the World Environment Day will be held in Mohali on June 5.

In the painting competition, Ushmeet Kaur, Upinder of Shivalik Public School, Mohali, and Shweta of Gian Jyoti Public School, Mohali, were adjudged first, second and third.

Zupinder Kaur of Shivalik Public School and Arshdeep Kaur of Guru Nanak Foundation Public School, Mohali, were given the consolation prizes.

e-Guru lab at school

The first NIIT e-Guru Maths Lab came up at Gurukul World School, Mohali. Rajesh Gupta, chairman, Gurukul World School, inaugurated the revolutionary concept.

It will enable schoolchildren to learn and explore mathematical concepts and verify facts and theorems using tools like the geometer’s sketch pad. 



Marksheet Preparation
PU gives power to depts
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
In a crucial step to minimise errors in marksheets, Panjab University today decided to decentralise the process of preparing the detail marksheet (DMC) of students to its departments.

The university departments will now be required to prepare a dummy of DMC of each student, which would then be forwarded to the administrative block of the university for the final printing on the “security paper”, a special paper used for marksheets by PU.

Henceforth, the error corrections in the DMCs, which were earlier looked after by the administrative staff of PU, will also be done in the respective departments of the university from the next academic session (2010-2011).

Identifying certain loopholes in the current system of issuing the marksheets and recurrent complaints by the students, a special meeting was convened by the Vice-Chancellor today morning to take cognisance on the matter.

Confirming the reports about the decision taken today, Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti said the decentralising would ensure that names and other details of the students were corrected at the department level and lesser errors would be committed. “For this purpose we have also procured a software which is to be given to the departments. However, the final process of printing the detail marksheets on the security paper would be done in the administrative block only,” he added.

“The process would ensure that less errors are committed in issuing these marksheets and the whole system will get streamlined. The data would now be stored with the department as well as administrative block concerned where the DMCs come for final printing on the special paper,” said an administrative functionary of the university.

Meanwhile, the university authorities are also gearing up to prepare the online module of procuring the marksheets from the next session.

However, it remains to be seen whether the university would re-examine the information on the DMC provided by the departments before uploading it on the website or not.



No academic counsellors for decade
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
With Class X results being declared in a couple of days, UT students struggle to find an academic counsellor to help them in choosing their streams in Class XI. Though the administration claims to have done its job by announcing an aptitude test at the State Institute of Education (SIE), Sector 32, and hiring 110 counsellors so far for the purpose, the ground reality is far from fine.

The SIE used to have a provision of conducting the aptitude test for the students to help them decide on the most apt stream for them.

The practice though had to discontinue, as the institution has no full time counsellors for a decade.

“Yes we have such tests wherein we suggest a stream to any student after judging his aptitude, but unfortunately it has not happened for a decade now, as we have no counsellor. The director, higher education, visited us the other day and has asked us to advertise the post. The counsellor even if hired will only be able to help the students from next year only,” informed Surinder Dahiya, director, SIE.

On the other hand, while the UT appointed over 100 counsellors for the city schools, it failed to roll out the counselling schedule, policy or guidelines, thus virtually rendering them vestigial.

“We did read in papers that some counsellors had been appointed with three schools being given to each of them. Nobody has visited us till date. The students also have no clue, as to how to approach these counselors, as no notice has come so far,” revealed a government school principal.

It may be noted that as per the guidelines of the CBSE, every school should have a set of behavioural and academic counsellors.

The UT though has made several declarations in this regard and even appointed some, nothing commendable seems to have been achieved by it so far.



IGNOU announces BA in 3D animation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has announced a new course of BA in 3D animation and visual effects in collaboration with Maya Academy of Advanced Cinematic (MAAC). It is a specialised course of three years duration and application forms are available at MAAC, Sector 33 centre.

Prof Shambhu Nath Singh, School of Journalism and New Media Studies (IGNOU), said, “Through this course, we aim to provide technical skills to the students and to make them ready for the huge market opportunities in animation.”



UIHMT students to be awarded ‘Bachelors of Hotel Mgmt’ degree
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 18
Students pursuing their graduation degree in the University Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism (UIHMT) at Panjab University would be awarded degrees of “Bachelors of Hotel Management” and “Bachelors of Tourism” rather than a degree of Bachelors of Science (BSc).

Clarifying the confusion among students of the department on nomenclature, Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti today said following a request by the board of studies of UIHMT, the institute was transferred to the faculty of commerce from faculty 
of science.

“The degree is Bachelors in Hotel Management and not BSc. The Syndicate had given permission for transferring the academic supervision to the faculty of commerce on the appeal of the board of studies,” said Sobti.

After certain hiccups this year, the course, which was launched in collaboration with Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Sector 42, is yet to become popular among students, who aspire to enter the tourism sector.

Meanwhile, PU is also considering reduction in the examination and re-appear fee of the department to nearly half of the previous amounts, which were Rs 2,500 and Rs 3,500, respectively.

Following a protest outside the VC office, the students of UIHMT had submitted a case of their demands to the Dean University Instructions.



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