C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


It’s official: Theme park project scrapped
UT Administration revokes bank guarantee
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
It is official. The theme-cum-amusement park, one of the glorified projects of the UT Administration during the tenure of Gen Sunit Francis Rodrigues as UT Administrator and Punjab Governor, is not going to see the light of the day.

The UT Administration has decided to revoke the bank guarantee of Rs 11 crore of the company. Prior to this, Filmcity and Medicity (a paper project) were accorded a quiet burial.

The move comes after the UT Administration and the company, which was supposed to develop the park, had reached a point of no return. The bank guarantee was revoked in New Delhi today.

Earlier, the UT’s Department of Tourism, which was handling the project, had recommended that the project be scrapped on the plea that the company with which the UT Administration had entered into a contract, had violated terms and conditions of the agreement with the administration. The final decision on the matter was pending before by the UT Administrator.

On the other hand, Unitech, the company which was to develop the amusement-cum-theme park, had been claiming that even after four years, the UT Administration had not provided it with land and that there were some flaws with the land allotment.

Sources also claimed that the administration never issued the allotment letter to the company till date.

In the past, the UT Administration had forfeited the bank guarantee of the Film City project while taking a similar plea.

The Central Bureau of Investigation is already probing the allotment of the land for both Filmcity and the amusement-cum-theme park and is questioning former top brass of Chandigarh Administration, including former UT Director of Tourism Vivek Attary, former UT Home Secretary Krishan Mohan and former UT Finance Secretary SK Sandhu, who were at the helm of affairs when the projects were conceived.

The project has been recommended to be scrapped, as the company did not fulfil the financial obligations as it never deposited any instalments apart from the first one of Rs 5.5 crore since the time it was allotted the project in 2006 and neither could it obtain the environment clearance.


  • In 2006, when the project was allotted, a site measuring 9.6 acres in Mohali was auctioned at Rs 464 crore for a commercial venture. Thus, the site measuring 73 acres on Chandigarh’s outskirts should have been somewhere near Rs 3,000 crore. However, the Chandigarh Administration allotted 73 acres to the developer at a price of Rs 5.5 crore per year, on lease, for 33 years
  • The UT Administration allegedly ignored the general financial rules (GFRs) while inviting tenders and ignored the highest bidder. Unitech was awarded the project at around 13 times less revenue sharing offered by DLF



Where RTI Act comes to nought
DC office, depts lead in non-compliance
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
If ever there is a review of the implementation of the RTI Act, the office of Deputy Commissioner (DC) here will probably score the lowest, going by its replies to queries by a city resident under the Act. Let alone the DC’s office, when it comes to complying with the RTI Act, departments under the DC’s office are in the forefront of non-compliance.

In fact, most departments under the DC’s office, including the estate office, the land acquisition office, the labour department, the excise and taxation department and the zila sainik welfare office, are not even aware of the mandatory disclosure of information under Section 4(1)(b) under the RTI Act, 2005, known as suo motu disclosures.

The DC’s office was asked for two sets of information under the RTI Act, one being in connection with instructions given to the departments under the DC’s office for annual updating of proactive disclosures, and the other regarding compliance reports from the DC.

The replies furnished by the departments brought out surprising replies from some departments while others washed their hands off those, claiming that this did not relate to them.

While the Indian Red Cross Society’s UT branch, the excise and taxation department, the zila sainik welfare office and the labour department did not reply, the agricultural census office and the office of cooperative societies stated in their replies that this did not relate to their office.

The state agricultural marketing board also escaped giving a reply, stating that it was a statutory body constituted under the Punjab Agricultural Produce Market Act, 1961, and hence, the information sought did not relate to its office.

The department of agriculture, instead of giving information pertaining to the disclosures, had set up its RTI Annual Return Information System, which comprised the number of RTI applications received, with the registering and licensing authority also responding on similar lines.

What the Act says

The Act makes it obligatory for every public authority to make suo motu disclosure in respect of its organisation, functions, duties and other matters, as provided under Section 4 of the RTI Act. The information so published, according to sub-section 4 of this section, should be easily accessible with the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) in an electronic format. In simple words, the section makes it mandatory for any department to disclose certain basic information related to the department or organisation and its functions and make the information accessible on a website to the CPIO of the department.

Icing on the cake

The DC’s office has gone a step ahead by providing the details and meanings of disclosures under Section 4 of the RTI Act instead of making the proactive disclosures.



Finally, law catches up with official
28 years on, Mani Majra NAC ex-secy held guilty
Sonika Bhatia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Twentyeight years after a former secretary of the Mani Majra Notified Area Committee (NAC) was booked in case of disproportionate assets by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), CBI special judge Darshan Singh today held the public servant held guilty in the case.

The special court would pronounce the quantum of sentence on Monday. This was said to be one of the oldest cases at the CBI court.

The CBI registered the case against then NAC secretary Joginder Singh Walia under Section 5(2), read with Section 5(1)(e), of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1947, on March 5, 1982.

The CBI public prosecutor said the agency, during a search operation carried out at the residence of the secretary on February 25 and 26, 1982, revealed that the public servant was in possession of disproportionate assets to the tune of about Rs 5,78,000.

The assets were disproportionate to his known sources of income, as verified from September 10, 1976, to February 26, 1982.

As per the prosecution, he had acquired a mini-showroom at Mani Majra in the

name of his sons, Harminder Pal Singh and Prabhjit Singh. The site was allotted by the NAC on July 2, 1979.

He had also acquired two residential sites in the name of his sons. He had purchased another property in resale in December 1981 and acquired two chunks of agricultural land at Mani Majra. The CBI sleuths had also recovered a scooter and a new Ambassador car, registered in the name of Walia’s wife.

The prosecution had examined 60 witnesses to prove the charges while the defence counsel had examined 23 witnesses, including the accused. CBI counsel RL Negi said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had granted a stay on sanction for prosecution from 1990 till 2008 after the accused questioned the sanction in this regard.



2 girls succumb to mysterious disease
Our Correspondent

Ambala, May 22
Two girls of Samreri village, Deeksha and Priyanka, who were referred to the PGI, Chandigarh, two days ago after they suffered from a mysterious disease, died this evening at the PGI.

Doctors of the local civil hospital had sent them to PGI as their platelets were fast depleting.



Singapore student exchange programme
Govt school students given the miss!
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
The UT education department’s much-publicised student exchange programme with Singapore schools has proved to be nothing more than a “self-financed tour”, which has no place for “cash-starved” government school students.

The exchange programme, which was started in 2006 and discontinued last year due to swine flu, has been revived. This time, however, a team of 19 school students does not include even a single student from any government school.

Senior officials in the UT education department consider “self-financed” nature of the tour as one reason behind it.

“It’s a self-financed programme though concessional. We had sent letters to all schools, but no government schools showed any interest. Student have to pay some money, which may not be possible for government school students,” said Chanchal Singh, district education officer. “I have not received any information. Though the UT education department keeps on professing its concern about government schools, students are hardly part of any such activity. Though it’s a “self-financed” initiative, I think department should finance some good students and include them in the tour,” said a principal of one of the non-model schools.

Interestingly, even while selecting students from private schools there was no fixed criterion. “We have not got good response for the programme. There is no fixed criterion to choose students. We have send letters to schools and the selection will be made on first-come-first-serve basis,” said another official.


Dadu Majra Garbage Processing Plant
Councillors raise controversies every few months
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Dadu Majra garbage processing plant, which was set up by JP Company on May 21, 2008, for the Municipal Corporation, completed its two controversial years today. Interestingly, after every quarter, elected councillors of Chandigarh Municipal Corporation come up with a fresh issue of conflicts relating to the plant in 
the house. At the yesterday’s house meeting, MC councillors alleged that there was foul smell emanating from the plant and its machinery was not properly functioning for the past more than six months and the authorities were not taking any serious action against the company.

Reacting to these allegations, Brig RS Sahota (retd), vice-president, today clarified that the main reason of the foul smell was not because of burning of garbage but due to mismanagement in segregation of garbage by the corporation.

Revealing that the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee had issued instructions on April 27, 2010, to the corporation for the collection and segregation of garbage in the city, Sahota said the authorities had totally ignored those directions due to which there was foul smell.

Meanwhile, questions are being raised whether the MC councillors are technically sound to point out the faults in the plant. If one goes by the history of the issues, pointed by them at various house meetings, surprisingly, after every six months, they come up with new problem, forgetting the previous one. But the councillors have not taken up the issue in the house as to what steps medical health officer department is taking for the segregtion and proper collection of garbage in the city.

When the plant was inaugurated on May 21, 2008, on a trial basis for three months, councillors raised the objections in the house that the plant was not fully functional and the authorities should issue show-cause notice to the company for it. Till December 2008 at every house meeting, the issue generated heat due to discussion by one or other councillor. Ironically in January 2009, councillors came with new point in the house that the company was not taking up the 350 tonnes of garbage, which they had promised to the authorities so they should be penalised for it. After three months, intensive discussion on this issue, the authorities issued show-cause notice to the company on April 8, 2009. Suddenly ignoring the processing of whole garbage issue, the councillors started complaining about foul smell emanating from the plant, from July to December 2009, due to the burning of garbage. The Chandigarh administration and the corporation constituted four committees, but report of none of the committees has been discussed in the house. Finally from January 2010 till date, councillors are pointing out that the installation of machinery, in the plant was not as per the memorandum of understanding between the corporation and company so the authorities should fine the management of the plant.

Objections by councillors since plant’s inauguration

From May 21 to December 2008: Plant inaugurated by former Chandigarh Administrator, Gen SF Rodrigues. Objection by councillors for next six months were that the plant is only 40 per cent functional.

From January 1 to April 2009: Councillors objected that the plant was not taking up whole garbage of the city.

From July to December 2009: Objections by councillors that foul smell was emanating from the plant.

From January 2010 till date: Installation of machinery at plant was not according to MoU signed between company and corporation.



Hotel Parkview registers Rs 9.45-cr sale
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Hotel Parkview, CITCO’s budget hotel, has registered a total sale of Rs 9.45 crore in 2009-10, which is 40 per cent more than the sale recorded in in 2008-09 (Rs 6.78 crore), and posted a net profit of Rs 3.3 crore which was 35 per cent more than Rs 2.45 crore clocked in the preceding fiscal.

In a press statement issued here on Thursday, CITCO authorities claimed that despite global meltdown, the occupancy rate in 2009-10 was 80 per cent. During the year, 21 per cent of the visitors who stayed at the hotel were foreigners belonging to 87 countries and 79 per cent were Indian.



Followers come out to support ‘math’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Two days after the UT administration served a notice on Chaitanya Gaudiya Math Mandir in Sector 20 for keeping three cows in the temple, followers came out in support against the orders.

The Estate Office had recently served the temple with a notice of resumption. Residents of the mandir said they had sought time from the UT administration till June 5.

Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Sanjay Tandon and members of the Vishav Hindu Parishad also reached the temple today.


Get breather till June 5

A local court today stayed the orders passed by the Estate Office for the resumption of the Chatianya Gaudiya Math Mandir till June 5. The Estate Office had issued a show-cause notice regarding the resumption of the site under Section 8-A of the Capital of Punjab Development and Regulation Act 1952 on May 4, as they found a cowshed in the said site which is near to a residential area. The math was also asked for forfeiture of 10 per cent of the total amount of consideration amount. Vishal Kathuria, counsel for the math, submitted to the court that as the disciples of Lord Krishna used to worship cows, the followers had kept three cows and three calves at the rear side of the math. He claimed that cows were kept after submitting an application for the issuance of a licence for the cowshed, but the Chief Administrator did not grant permission for the same.



Gold medal, laptop stolen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
A former professor of Panjab University, Dr Raghuveer Singh, lost his gold medal, which he received as the “Shiromani Sahitik Pattarkaar Award” just two days before, in a theft at his residence today afternoon.

Besides the medal, a laptop and a wristwatch was also stolen in the theft, which took place around 12.30 pm at his residence in Sector 43.

The professor and his wife were not at home at the time of the incident.

The lock of the house was intact, but another front door of the house was 
found open.

“We have lost our keys two days before. But we did not take it seriously,” said the professor. The professor said they had no domestic help.



IRCTC launches online air ticket
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
With over eight lakh railway tickets booked on its website every day, Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) have also come out to the aid of domestic fliers.

IRCTC, a Railways PSU, authorities have launched the service of booking air tickets on its website. According to sources, procedure to book tickets would be similar to that followed for booking train tickets and commuters would get printed e-tickets.

An IRCTC official said the facility of booking tickets for domestic flights had been introduced in the first lot and they would extend the service to foreign destinations after observing the response. “We want to solve all travel-related problems. Now, commuters will be able to plan their long trips on the website. We have decided to give commuters an option of flying instead of travelling by train,” said IRCTC official.

The sources added that booking for destinations like Vaishno Devi, Tirupati, Goa, Srinagar, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep would now be possible from the same portal. Commuters would be able to create an account on the website, just like e-tickets for trains. Details like timing, etc, would be available on the site.

IRCTC is already the official ticketing partner for Commonwealth Games to be held in October this year and now it has also been selected as the catering partner for the teams.

Talking to The Tribune, IRCTC chief regional manager Aneet Dullat said commuters could easily book the tickets through their official website for travelling to any part of the country. Regarding ticket facility from Chandigarh to Delhi, he said this would be possible only if the airline tied up with them.

"We have identified that 18 per cent of the pantry cars are in bad shape and have initiated steps to improve the condition," Dullat said adding that the problem in most of the pantry cars was with water boilers and hot cases.

The corporation had come under criticism as far as catering was concerned. The corporation was working on a catering policy, which would be unveiled soon, Dullat said.

Railways were also planning to have AC pantry cars to improve services and maintain hygienic environment, he added.



Woman attempts suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
A 25-year-old woman attempted to commit suicide by setting herself afire at her residence in Colony No. 5 here today morning.

The victim, Mohini, is said to be under stress, which led her to take this extreme step. According to her husband Jagat Pal, she often complains of headache.

She was immediately rushed to the Sector 32 hospital where doctors said she had sustained around 75 per cent burn injuries. The authority concerned at the hospital has also recorded her statements.



Shootout at Mani Majra
48 hours on, police yet to make headway
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Even after 48 hours of the shootout incident at Mani Majra, in which a man was grievously hurt and was robbed of Rs 7 lakh, the police is yet to make a headway in the case.

UT SSP SS Srivastawa said the incident could be the handiwork of the same gang that was involved in a spate of robberies in the area.

“The gang that had made away with Rs 3 lakh from Bengali Sweets in Mani Manjra last year could be behind the shootout,” said Srivastawa.

Four assailants opened fire at local businessman Lalit Gupta outside his residence at Shivalik Enclave, Mani Majra, and fled with the bag containing around Rs 8 lakh on Thursday night.

Gupta, who was with his father Brij Mohan Gupta, received four shots, two in the chest and two in abdomen.

Gupta is undergoing treatment at the PGI and his condition is stated to be critical.

“We are trying hard to nail the culprits,” said Srivastawa, adding that the gang may have its roots in Punjab.

“Immediately after the incident, four persons took possession of a Scorpio at gun point in Mohali. It could be the handiwork of same criminals,” said the SSP.

The police is suspecting the involvement of an insider.



Suspected Typhoid
60-year-old man dies at GMCH-32

Zirakpur, May 22
In the first suspected case of death due to typhoid, a 60-year-old man died today at the GMCH-32, Chandigarh.
Even after the suspected outbreak of typhoid cases at Zirakpur, MC fails to clean the mess
Even after the suspected outbreak of typhoid cases at Zirakpur, MC fails to clean the mess; (inset) suspected victim of typhoid Mewa Singh, who died on Saturday. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal

The victim Mewa Singh, resident of Lohgarh village, had been suffering from high fever for the past few weeks.

The district health authorities, however, didn’t confirm it to be a typhoid case. Civil surgeon PK Sridhar said no medical history of the patient was available to indicate whether he was suffering from typhoid. No one else in the family was suffering from typhoid. “He was suffering from tuberculosis and had developed some complication before being taken to the GMCH-32”, said Dera Bassi SMO Rajiv Bhalla.

Victim’s son Darbara Singh said his father was suffering from fever and was under going treatment. He said last week the health department had organised a medical-camp at the village where doctors referred him to the GMCH-32 where he died this morning, he added. The health authorities said there was no record of the victim coming to the camp with symptoms of typhoid.

Sridhar said to confirm, a special test to detect the disease was being conducted and a house-to-house survey was being carried out to ascertain more such cases. Last week, typhoid and other water-borne diseases had come to notice due to impure water supply at Lohgarh village. More than 500 patients were examined at a camp in which 78 cases of typhoid were confirmed by health officials.

Residents of Lohgarh village complained that there was increase in water-borne cases. They said more than 50 patients were under going treatment at Dera Bassi and private clinics. Only one patient has been admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh, they added. Residents complained that they were still receiving contaminated water and no safety measures had been taken to control the situation. They alleged that they had not been getting medicines free cost and were charged Rs 120 for the test. Health officials, however, denied the allegations.



Petrol pump staff looted of Rs 22,000
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 22
Four robbers looted Rs 22,000 from a petrol pump at Madawala village near Pinjore this morning.

The incident occurred at 2.30 am when four masked robbers arrived at the petrol pump in an Indica car. Three members of the gang came out from the car and overpowered two employees- Madan Lal and Rameshwar- while the third robber snatched the cash bag from the third employee Rampal at the gunpoint.

The robbers also fired two gunshots in the air and then fled taking away Rs 22,000.

The employees immediately informed their employer, who further informed the police.

According to police, the employees were shocked and were unable to read the registration number of the car. The robbers had used a local made pistol in the robbery.

DSP Mukesh Malhotra said one live cartridge was also recovered from the spot, which was possibly purchased by some arms license holder and could lead to the identification of the robbers.

He said further investigations were on.



Army officer finds himself in a spot
Tribune Reporters

Panchkula, May 22
High drama was witnessed this evening at the army flats in Sector 4, Mansa Devi, when an army officer was forced to dump his luggage in a passageway leading to his flat after his tenant refused to vacate it.

Lt Col SS Pathania, who was recently transferred from Palampur to Leh, had arrived yesterday with his family and belongings yesterday and was shocked to see his tenant had not shifted from his flat. The tenant informed the cops who arrived at the scene soon. Pathania was told to seek a court notice so that the tenant could be asked to vacate the house. People from both sides were trying to sort out the problem till the filing of the report.



Checking violence by student groups during admission
PU to set up help desk
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
After trying out several methods to curb violence in Panjab University, the authorities have decided to go the Gandhian way to check the menace on the campus from the next academic session.

According to sources, a help desk will be placed next to the counters of PU student parties at the time of admission, as minor fights at these help desks prove to be catalysts of bitter rivalry among students’ parties, which later turns into serious brawls.

These help desks have turned into a “power-show” over the years, the sources added.

While the counters aim to guide parents and students about admission process in all departments and are generally setup outside Aruna Ranjit Chandra Hall on the campus, these counters have also been identified by the Dean Student Welfare (DSW) office as a cause of rivalry among student leaders.

To facilitate student’s participation, the DSW office is also planning to engage students of departments like community education etc.

“Earlier, the help desk was inside the enquiry building, but we are now planning to shift it next to the counters of the student leaders to avoid fights,” said Prof Naval Kishore, DSW.

However, the effort by the PU administration has evoked a mixed response from student leaders.

“There is no need for such a desk if chairpersons permit only selected students to sit on the desk. If the selection is not biased, then the effort will be meaningful,” said Harsh Vardhan, new campus president of the Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU).

Asserting that any such effort by the authorities will benefit the students, the presidential candidate of the Panjab University Teachers’ Union (PUSU), Udey Singh Wiring, said: “Another help desk by the authorities would benefit the students.”



YPS regrets ICSE topper goof-up

Chandigarh, May 22
Reacting to the news report ‘Who is ICSE topper in tricity?’, published in these columns today, Yadavindra Pubic School (YPS) principal Harish Dhillon accepted the school’s fault in calculating the aggregate percentage of Agam Singh Bedi, who it had claimed to be the topper.

In a rare admission, Dhillon expressed ‘regret and heartfelt apologies for the deep hurt and pain that we have caused to a number of children and schools due to our negligence in computing our Class 10 ICSE result’.

“The only plea, if a plea can, at all, be permitted in such an extreme case, is that the person in charge was inexperienced. I will like to assure everyone concerned that every effort will be made to ensure that such a great error is not committed again,” read the letter. — TNS



‘Volcano eruption caused dinosaur extinction’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Dr Ashu Khosla, a researcher at the Centre for Advanced Study in Geology, Panjab University, is part of the six-member team that has for the first time solved the mystery of mass extinction of dinosaurs and other plants and animals 65 million years ago.

Two other Indian professors, Sunil Bajpai from IIT Roorkee and Bandana Samant from Nagpur University are also part of the team. Dr Khosla, co-author of the paper published yesterday in American journal ‘Science’, commented that Chicxulub asteroid impact did not cause much species extinction. Instead of the asteroid impact, huge Deccan volcanism that lasted less than 1 million year might have killed the dinosaurs. “The Deccan volcanism, which covers an area of 500,000 km in western, central and southern India emitted huge amount of sulphur dioxide into the air and became the real culprit for the mass extinction at the Cretaceous-Tertiary boundary,” said Khosla.

This debate has baffled the worldwide geoscientists for the last three decades. Since 1980, scientists believed that a large meteorites (Chicxulub) impact on Yucatan (America) was the sole cause for the mass extinction of species, including dinosaurs all over the world. This viewpoint has been totally negated in the paper.

Dr Khosla along with other team members commented that Chicxulub asteroid impact did not cause much species extinctions. They believe that there is no evidence of Iridium (the rare mineral which is found in asteroid and deep earth mantle) or ever been identified in association with Chicxulub impact.



Rs 48 crore to be spent on schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
An amount of Rs 48 crore is likely to be spent on the upgradation and construction of schools under the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Rashtriya Madhamik Siksha Abhiyan (RMSA) this year.

This is part of state plan schemes of the education department, stated Ram Niwas, Home-cum-Education Secretary, at a meeting here.

A sum of Rs 1.25 crore had been allocated under the elementary education (plan) head and Rs 8.25 crore under the secondary education (plan) head. As per discussions at the meeting, he directed the department to frame priorities regarding new schools after taking into account the construction work in progress. The construction work in respect of certain buildings was directed to be taken in hand during 2010-11.

Those included Government High School, Sector 50-B, Government High School, Sector 50-C, Government High School, Sector 53-B, and Government High School, Sector 54, at a cost of about Rs 10.29 crore. The schools proposed under the SSA in 2010-11 were Government Model High School, PGI, Sector 12, Government Primary School, Pocket 10, Mani Majra, Government Primary School, Pocket 6, Mani Majra, Government High School, Sector 45, Government High School, Hallo Majra, and Government Middle School, Daria, at a cost of about Rs 10.54 crore.

The schools proposed under the RMSA were Government High School, Kaimbwala, Government High School, Pocket 1, Mani Majra, and Government High School, Sector 39. The Home Secretary asked the engineering department to draw an action plan for proper water supply, whitewash, paint and repair of water tanks and toilets of all government schools in Chandigarh during the summer vacations. It would also carry out a survey of school buildings before the commencement of repair work at the schools.



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