C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Inroads into Shivalik
Damage to hillocks extensive
Cases filed against 13 farmhouse owners
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 25
In the past five months, a staggering 30,000 sq m area of the and ecologically fragile Shivalik Hills on Chandigarh’s periphery has ruthlessly been levelled to provide access roads to around 40 farmhouse sites sold to non-locals. According to the official record, 500 trees have been uprooted and sold by local politicians-turned-realtors to remove all traces of forest land.

The damage is manifold if the forest department calculates the total depth of each of the hillocks levelled by unscrupulous elements.

The forest department has initiated process to prosecute those who have damaged the hillocks. So far, 13 persons who own farmhouse sites under the revenue record have been identified and more names are expected to figure in the coming weeks. Officials have not ruled out the possibility of farmhouse owners being related to high-ups.

Investigations by the forest department in the business of carving out farmhouse sites in the hills in the Majri block have revealed that over 40 sites, measuring between .5 and 3 acre, have been sold to non-locals.

Ropar divisional forest officer K Kannan said: “On the basis of land mutation record, the forest department has identified the owners of each of the farmhouse sites. Three separate police cases have been registered against the violators and we have filed cases against each of the owners at the Mohali and Kharar district courts under the relevant provisions of the Forest Act.”

The forest department has also sought sanction from the union forest ministry to prosecute each violator under the Indian Forest Act, 1927 and Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

“To arrest the damage to the fragile hills, forest officials were putting up stone crates to block roads carved out of hillocks near Karaundewala-Kasauli and Gurdha villages,” said the DFO.

The damaged hillocks are spread over 1,500 acre of common village land in the Majri block, comprising five major villages — Bhagindi, Gurdha, Kasauli, Jyanti Majri and Karaundewala. The area is reserved under the Indian Forest Act, 1927, Forest Control Act, 1980, and the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900.

No such activity can be carried out without obtaining the permission of the state forest department or the union ministry of environment.

The forest department has also written several times to Mohali district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) Kulwant Singh for taking suitable action against the sarpanch of Gurha village, Sham Lal. “The DDPO has not acted so far,” said the DFO. Kulwant Singh said he did not remember the case and could comment only after going through the file.

During the initial probe by the administration, the names of a Punjab vigilance official, an SDO with the Punjab public works department, private secretary to a cabinet-rank minister and a Mohali-based BJP leader had figured.

“The government has already cancelled the girdwari (land possession documents) of 600 acre but the names of high-ups have been brushed under the carpet,” said an official of the forest department.



Power cuts sleep of residents
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Residents are facing sleepless nights in the sweltering heat due to frequent, unannounced power cuts in the middle of the night. Residents of Sectors 8, 10, 11, 22, 26, 45, 50 and 61, besides certain others, have been sweating it out over the past few weeks.

The scorching heat has telephones in more than half a dozen complaint centres ringing throughout the night.

Though the electricity department has claimed that it has streamlined the load shedding period, frequent power disruptions, mostly during night, and voltage fluctuations during the day are a routine affair, particularly in the southern sectors. DP Singh, Superintending Engineer, said: “There is no power shortage. The areas affected by power trips are largely those which house power instalments, particularly air-conditioners. We get approximately a 10 per cent enhancement in power each year, however, we do not have the correct figures of the increased demand because detailed disclosures by residents are not available.” Kafil of Sector 45, who runs a boutique, said the power had been going off three to four times daily over the last fortnight and his staff would sit idle. Residents of Sectors 10 and 50 have also been facing tough times. The situation is worse in colonies. Residents complain of abysmal power supply even during the day.



Strawberry Fields faces de-recognition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The education department has served a notice on the Strawberry Fields School, Sector 26, for gross violation of stipulated requirements, appointment of unqualified teachers, non- implementation of reservation for economically weaker sections (EWS) and non-compliance with fire safety norms.

The school was also found to be lacking in the required computer installations and payment of various allowances to the staff.

According to the notice, the school has been asked to rectify the violations within three months, failing which it would face de-recognition. The school director, Atul Khanna, said he had not received the notice as yet and would respond only after going through it.

The department, in response to the school’s request to upgrade to the secondary level and renewal of recognition, had conducted an inspection on May 10.

The department found that eight teachers were not qualified enough and the school authorities were not paying DA or other mandatory allowance to teachers.

It also lacked a mandatory fire safety certificate. While last year the school was lauded for its EWS initiatives, it is now accused of having only 2.5 per cent reservation. “We wanted to de-recognise the school immediately, but keeping the students’ future in mind we decided to give it three months. It wanted to upgrade to Class X, but shockingly it is lacking at many levels,” a senior official of the education department stated.



BEd (education in learning disabilities)
Not-so-special start for PU’s first batch
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Indifferent attitude towards children with learning disabilities in city schools can be gauged from the fact that not a single out of the 14 students enrolled in the first batch of BEd (special education in learning disabilities) of Panjab University has been placed this year.

This, even as both government and private schools are facing a dire shortage of staff.

What’s learning disability?

In an interview for the post of teacher during the university’s placement fair, certain private school officials had to be told what learning disability (LD) meant after every 10 minutes. — Amrit, a student

Unimpressed by the “poor salary” being offered by the UT education department for the post of resource person in schools, despite an evident shortage of “special” teachers in government schools, these students have strange yet amusing experiences to narrate.

“In an interview for the post of teacher during the university’s placement fair, certain private school officials had to be told what learning disability (LD) meant after every 10 minutes,” said Amrit, a student.

“When we went for our internship in the rural areas of Punjab, we found that the ignorance level was so high that teachers used a general term ‘paagal’ (mad) for students with LD and those who were mentally challenged. These students are very special and need special treatment,” said Jagdish, a student.

Both the UT education department and private schools in the city have done little for children with LD, which is evident from the number of trained counsellors and special teachers in schools, claim these students.

In the first year of its inception, the department of learning disabilities has attracted students ranging from clinical psychologists to simple graduates from villages like Maloya, who aspire to teach in government schools in their area to make a difference.

“I hail from Maloya and wish to teach in a government school there, since students in these students are the worst sufferers,” said Namita.

“During practical sessions, we found that in a class of 50 students, nearly five students had some or the other learning disability. The child could either be a slow learner or have affected vision since birth. They need special care and must not be ignored,” said Anusuya Kapur, another student.

Adding that these special children did not get proper attention in the class, Kulwinder, another student who aspires to pursue higher education in special education from Delhi, said the problem aggravated as these kids grew up.



Slapping Incident
Principal repatriated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
After being found guilty of slapping a student, Indu Bala, principal of Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 35, has been repatriated to her parent state, Haryana. The decision came after an inquiry conducted by the education department today.

Mini Thakur, a Class XII student, lodged a police complaint against the principal for slapping her for talking during a free period. After the incident, she called up her parents, who reached the spot along with the police. The police took her for medical examination and eventually lodged a DDR.

“The inquiry team talked to both the principal and students and found Indu Bala guilty. Since she is on deputation, we can only repatriate her and that is what we are doing,” Sunil Bhatia, DPI (S), said. While attempts to contact Indu Bala failed, she is expected to receive her repatriation orders tomorrow.



Shopkeeper hurt in assault

Chandigarh, May 25
A group of hooligans allegedly assaulted a shopkeeper and his family with rods and sharp-edged weapons at Mauli Jagran here late tonight.

The victim, 36-year-old Balbir Singh, a resident of Charan Singh Colony, was taken to the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, with multiple injuries. Panic gripped the locality after the attack, as the victim’s wife, elderly mother and brother were also injured.

Shambhu Benerjee, state president of the Trinamool Congress, said the victim’s condition was stated to be critical, as he had suffered multiple injuries. The victim had objected to the nuisance created in front of his shop by the youths, Benerjee claimed.

Mauli Jagran police post in charge Gurmukh Singh said they were waiting for the medical report of the victim to register a case. — TNS



Sanitation Work
Contractors fail to set up complaint centres
Workers far less than specified in agreement
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, May 25
Violating the terms of agreement, contractors carrying out sanitation work in the town have not set up proper complaint centres and the number of safai sewaks employed by them are far less than the strength specified in the agreement. The facts came to light after Mohali municipal council president Kulwant Singh conducted raids at various parts of the town here today.

Kulwant, along with executive officer of the civic body Amna Kumar Goyal found laxity on the part of contractors as far as employing safai karamcharis was concerned. Contractors were given 10 days time to bring about an improvement in their work, failing which action would be initiated against them and they could even be blacklisted. Kulwant said one of the contractors had opened a complaint centre at a medical store in Phase II, where no register was maintained and there was no telephone. Another centre was opened at a book store in Sector 71 and the third one at a booth in Phase X . But none of them had a register, telephone or an employee to take up the complaints.

Contractors had not even displayed boards outside these centres.

He said safai sewaks employed by contractors were far less than the number specified in the agreement. Two contractors Sarabjit Singh and Anita Sharma, who look after the sanitation work in the town, said they had maintained the complaint registers and their workers had gone on leave.



Job Bonanza: Ability Fair 2010
Corporates open arms for differently-abled
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Participants at the Ability Fair 2010 held at National Technical Teachers’ Training and Research, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. Tribune photo: S Chandan
Participants at the Ability Fair 2010 held at National Technical Teachers’ Training and Research, Chandigarh, on Tuesday. Tribune photo: S Chandan

Chandigarh, May 25
Despite being the only applicant for a post advertised by a petroleum company, Deepak (26), a BTech, MBA, was rejected because of his 75 per cent visual disability in 2009.

In another case, Vinod Sharma (28), with 80 per cent orthopaedic disability, had never dreamt that he could be employed at all. Hundreds of such persons with disabilities (PWDs) have now found a ray of hope.

Waking up the conscious of corporate sector towards its social responsibility by providing a fair chance to persons with disabilities (PWDs), the National Technical Teachers’ Training and Research (NITTTR), in collaboration with the Northern chapter of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), has organised Ability Fair 2010. The initiative is among the first of its kinds in North India, although a similar attempt was made in Delhi in March 2008.

The task of “match-making” is being done at the NITTTR campus these days, where interested companies are being offered PWDs fitting into the profiles. Applicants have been shortlisted from a database of more than 1,000 differntly-abled prepared by the NITTTR’s Centre for Physically Challenged headed by Prof JS Saini.

PWDs from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttrakhand and Utter Pradesh are participating in this fair.

Additionally, the CII has been performing the task of sensitising companies and inviting them for recruitments. Over 11 companies out of a database of 500 have agreed to become equal opportunity employer (EOE), in which companies provide equal chance to differently-abled persons, and 384 vacancies have been identified.

On the onset of the fourth session of this job fair, which is being conducted in parts, 37 differently-abled persons have already been placed with BPOs like Tech Mahindra and IBM. “The CII plans to achieve a target of 200 placements for PWDs among member companies under this special recruitment drive,” said RM Khanna, chairman, CII, northern region.

“This ability fair is just a beginning. PWDs must be provided all chances to lead a life of dignity and our role is that of a catalyst to make the companies and the PWDs meet at a platform,” said director, NITTTR, Chandigarh, Parijat De.



Scribes protest against conversion of wage board

Chandigarh, May 25
Members of the Chandigarh-Punjab Union of Journalists wore black badges all over the state in protest against move to convert the GR Majithia Wage Boards for journalists and non-journalists into a tribunal on May 24. The union sees in it clever scheme to deprive the journalists of their due.

In this regard, a delegation led by Union president Vinod Kohli also presented a memorandum to Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal to be forwarded to the Central Government to stop the move for any conversion of wage boards into a tribunal.

Kohli has requested the Chief Minister to persuade the Central Government and Labour Minister to extend the term of Justice GR Majithia Wage Boards for journalists till December 31, 2010. The term of the present wage boards has expired on May 23, 2010.

The union has threatened the Central Government if the wage board were scraped, a countrywide agitation would be launched. — TNS



‘Rs 5-cr needed to clean up N-choe’
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Just over a month after The Tribune raised a storm over sanitation concerns going down the drain, the Chandigarh administration yesterday informed the Punjab and Haryana High Court about the formation of an expert committee to look into the problem of discharge of sewerage in n-choe.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Jasbir Singh heard the committee had started working. Appearing before the Bench, UT senior standing counsel Sanjay Kaushal said the committee was yet to submit its detailed report, but had already identified two problem spots.

For remedial measures, a budget of Rs 5 crore was required. A decision was yet to be taken whether the work would be undertaken by municipal corporation or Chandigarh administration, Kaushal added.

The administration has already undertaken to clean the N-choe before June 30. Approximately Rs 11.92 lakh is being spent on the project.

In an affidavit, the administration had earlier asserted: “Complete stretch of the N-choe in the region of UT boundary will be cleaned before June 30.

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

“In pursuance to the previous order, waste/sewerage water of a total of 18 buildings and places has been directed to nearby sewerage lines at various locations in Chandigarh by the municipal corporation”.

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

The news report in these columns was directed to be treated as a public interest litigation. The Chief Justice had observed: Le Corbusier, who planned the City Beautiful, wanted to retain the water body to keep the residents of the city in contact with nature. “The choe is a seasonal rivulet and the water flowing through it without rains makes one curious about the origin of water flowing through it.”



Ruchika Case
Sacred Heart welcomes court’s verdict
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Sacred Heart School, which had once allegedly expelled Ruchika, welcomed today’s court verdict, which came as a surprise to all. “We accept the court’s verdict and appreciate it. If the court found him guilty of molesting our deceased student, Ruchika, then it is great that he got punished after 20 long years,” said Father Thomas, the school’s official spokesperson.

He denied allegations that the school had ever been unfair to Ruchika under pressure from Rathore or anybody else.

He claimed that she herself had left the school after the incident.

“The UT administration victimised the school. They claimed that Ruchika was the only student who was expelled in the last 20 years for non-payment of fee, but we have many such cases. We have submitted all evidences to the Central Board of Secondary Education so I have nothing more to explain,” added Father Thomas.



Teachers’ evaluation non-serious, claims PUTA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
The Panjab University Teachers’ Union (PUTA) has termed the teachers’ evaluation conducted by the Panjab University Campus Students’ Council (PUCSC) as “non-serious”, “arbitrary” and termed the approach of the students as “casual towards a sensitive matter” in a press release issued today.

To this, council president Amit Bhatia responded, “The teachers need to give a serious introspection to their own approach and actions. Ruckus and disorder at the teachers general body meeting is known to everybody.”

PUTA’s press note further mentioned that the issue of teachers’ evaluation should not be “exploited for gimmickry”.

“The modalities of evaluation are to be worked out. Even a resolution passed by the Syndicate on this issue carries little meaning since the UGC does not make the teachers’ evaluation mandatory. The undue hurry shown by the students to carry their arbitrary evaluation only causes apprehensions among the teachers about the motives of such an exercise,” said Akshaya Kumar, secretary, PUTA.

PUTA said PU must not entertain any “unofficial” teachers’ evaluation. Responding to the allegations of PUTA, Bhatia added, “Panjab University teachers will now have to justify the salaries they are drawing from the university and if they create any hurdles in the process, we will declare all details written by the students in the evaluation forms. “We will not hesitate from making all forms public, in which more than 51 per cent students in the class have expressed resentment against their teachers,” said Bhatia.

The council had shortlisted 28 PU teachers in its report submitted yesterday based on the evaluation conducted on the campus, who were failed by more than half the class on five parameters laid down in the performa prepared by the council.



BCom admission goes online
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 25
Panjab University is going to make admission to BCom course online from this session. Chief coordinator of BCom admissions Karamjit Singh convened a meeting of representatives of 11 colleges of Chandigarh where the BCom course is offered.

According to Singh, the university will put up an advertisement with all details regarding the online procedure i.e. application, fee, number of seats, process of counselling at various centres in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur on different dates, etc., on May 30.

The last date for the receipt of duly filled application forms will be June 21.

The tentative merit list will be displayed by June 28 and objections, if any, will be invited till June 30 and the final list of candidates will be displayed on July 2.

The details of counselling at different centres in Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Hoshiarpur will be given in the advertisement, informed university officials.



100 teachers without salary for 2 months
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 25
At the time when teachers should be teaching students in government schools, around 100 teachers with the Zila Parishad in the Dera Bassi block are running around to get their salary for the past two months.

The Zila Parishad was running around 300 schools in the Mohali district.

The teachers alleged that an accountant in the office of block district development and panchayat, Dera Bassi, was dilly-dallying the release of their salary.

Block district development and panchayat official Preetinder Pal Singh said he was not aware of the issue, as no teacher had approached him. “I will certainly look into the matter,” he said.



CBSE Class X result on May 28

Chandigarh, May 25
The CBSE Class X board exam result will be out on May 28. The results would be available on www.cbseresults.nic.in and www.cbse.nic.in and can be obtained by email by registering on www.results.nic.in in advance. The results will also be available on IVRS number and through SMS. Those securing an A+ grade and have a story behind it can write to The Tribune at [email protected] with their picture in JPEG format and a copy of the grade sheet.



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