C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Concession for disabled
HC notice to GMADA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
The much-hyped Aerocity project, floated by the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA), has now come under the judicial scanner. Aggrieved by the authority’s failure to offer a concession in plot prices to disabled applicants, a contender today sought the Punjab & Haryana High Court’s intervention in the matter of allotment of plots.

Taking note of the issues raised in the petition by a visually challenged man, Sucha Singh, justice Permod Kohli today issued notice of motion to GMADA and directed that allotment of plots to physically challenged applicants shall be subject to the outcome of the civil writ petition.

Referring to section 43 of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights & Full Participation Act, 1995, the petitioner contended that “appropriate governments and local authorities shall, by notification, frame schemes of houses in favour of persons with disabilities for preferential allotment of land at concessional rates”.

Counsel for the petitioner argued that reservation of 3 per cent of plots for the physically challenged was just not enough according to the law. Elaborating, he contended that providing reservation amounted to “preferential allotment”, while the mandate of the law was also the grant of concession in rates. He asserted that GMADA, by keeping the prices of residential plots the same for all categories, had failed to offer “concessional rates” to physically handicapped applicants.

GMADA’s move to club all categories in one class also did not find favour with the petitioner. He suggested the interest of the applicants falling in the category of physically challenged persons could be protected by reserving one per cent of the plots for the visually impaired, one per cent for applicants with hearing impairment and another one per cent for other physically challenged applicants, instead of collectively reserving 3 per cent of the plots for all disabled applicants taken together.



Application deadline unlikely to be extended
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 1
Despite the overwhelming response to the Aerocity housing project, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has so far been reluctant to extend the last date to submit application forms. According to the existing schedule the last date to apply is July 6.

Till date the authority has supplied 380,000 forms to various banks on the basis of demand. Officials expect the figure to remain below 400,000 by the time scheme closes.

GMADA chief administrator VP Singh said extending the date for submitting applications would disturb the project schedule. “There has to be some compelling reason to extend the date, and there’s none at the moment”, he added.

Officially the banks have not so far supplied the information regarding the applications received. “By disclosing the data about the application financed, the banks have to transfer the money to GMADA coffers. Delaying this till the last date suits the banks as well as applicants”, said an official.

Sources said approximately 30,000 to 40,000 applications had been submitted at various banks. In the last two days the rush of applicants became heavier with the last date drawing near.

Today, a long line of applicants waiting to get their applications financed could be seen at different banks. Despite deploying additional staff bank officials were finding it hard to handle the huge rush. “Processing over one lakh applications expected in five days was a difficult task for banks”, said an official at a local bank.

As the deadline nears, GMADA has worked out a tentative schedule to hold the category wise draw of lots. “The draw for different reserved categories (size wise) would be held on different dates. A similar timetable would be fixed for the general category”, said a GMADA official.

On reservation of plots for riot victims, officials said after a clarification from the government was received the process to receive the applications and hold the draw of lots would be held separately. Even otherwise the draw for the reserved category would be held separately.

Each and every detail regarding the draw of lots, schedule and name of successful applicants will be posted on GMADA’s website.



Class XI Admissions
Online counselling fails to click
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
The idea of the UT education department to hold an online counselling for Class XI admissions at the government schools has failed to click with a majority of applicants. The counselling held no good for many students who have no access to the Internet at their homes. The majority are not even net users.

In the first phase of its counselling, the department had uploaded details on its website, which were submitted by the students for admission consideration. These details included name, parents’ name, Class X merit, etc. This was followed by the declaration of a three-day long review session, which kick started at GMSSS, Sector 10, today to clarify discrepancies if any. Though a large number of applicants thronged the session, a sizeable number of these applicants walked in with a complaint of not being able to access the fore mentioned details.

“What discrepancy do we highlight when we are unable to access the list? It is in a format, which is not being supported by a majority of computers. This is the sole reason that I have come to this session just to understand how to access this list and check my details,” said a Sector 45-based student.

“We are having a tough time with this counselling. I do not have Internet at my home. Yesterday I was at a local cyber café for almost three hours but was not able to access the fore mentioned list,” said a parent from Hallo Majra.

While district education official claims that all is going well with the admissions, a senior official of the UT education department blamed negligible Internet knowledge amongst parents.

“The list is in a PDF format which is not supported by maximum computers. The online counselling is yet to impress the parents because most of them are not net savvy and depend on the local cyber cafés.,” he said.



Woman, son done to death
Kin allege family of son’s girlfriend behind killings

Megha Mann
Tribune News Service

Kharar, July 1
Residents of Kharar woke up to the news of a gory double murder in the Mundi Kharar area of the town. A 45-year-old woman and her 18-year-old son were found mercilessly done to death in the area opposite the Kohadi temple.

The deceased have been identified as Anita and her son Sunny. A widow, Anita, had been living with her son Sunny, who was a junk dealer and has shop in front portion of the house itself. Her husband had died six years ago and both daughters were married.

The duo was murdered at around midnight. Sapna, one of the daughters of Anita, told the police that she had talked to her mother and brother at around 11 pm, which means that they were murdered after this time. The incident came to light today morning when Sunny’s helping hand at shop Jabru, came in the morning at around 8.30 am and knocked the door. Failing to evoke a response, he climbed the stairs leading to terrace and called out for Sunny. He also tried to call Sunny on his mobile, but it was switched off.

He then approached the neighbours. With neighbours aide he managed to enter the house from terrace and saw bodies of Anita and Sunny lying sprawled in the bedroom. The police was informed.

The police found that the cupboard at the crime scene was broken and things were lying scattered. Anita’s earrings and Sunny’s mobile have been missing from house.

“It seemed as if accused wanted to lend colour of loot to the murder, as Sunny was killed in the outer courtyard of house and his body was dragged inside the room. His back had layers of mud on it,” pointed out a senior police official, while trying to reconstruct the chain of events.

DSP Raj Balwinder Sandhu added that the rain favoured the accused. Due to downpour, any possible impressions of shoes around house or on terrace got washed away. He added that the efforts were on to trace Sunny’s mobile phone and get call details of his mobile and that of his sister Sapna.

In her statement to the police, Sapna has stated that her brother Sunny was seeing a girl for sometime. She has expressed apprehensions that the murders might be the outcome of that relation, which the girl’s parents objected to. The police has registered a case under Section 460 of the IPC.



Internship Courses
UT adopts different yardsticks
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
The UT administration appears to be having a double standard when it comes to offering training and internship courses to students of private colleges at the Government Medical College & Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32. While it recently rejected the latter’s proposal to formulate a policy for training of students from private nursing colleges, it has turned a blind eye to internship courses offered by the hospital for physiotherapy students.

Though the procedure for providing practical work experience to nursing and physiotherapy students involves the same kind of work, albeit in different departments, the hospital too has adopted different yardsticks to categorise them in their bid to continue the practice of training of physiotherapists, even after the administration's decision to disallow the same for nursing students.

While nursing students are being bracketed as "trainees", as practical work experience forms an integral part of their course, physiotherapists have been categorised as "interns" since they come for training only after the completion of their course. While GMCH officials have justified their stand by taking the plea of the thin line that differentiates their definition of the word "trainee" and "intern", there are not many takers for this line - either in the hospital or the administration.

"The reasons for which the administration disallowed the training of nursing students was (a) that no other government hospital in Punjab and Haryana was involved in such programmes, and (b) the staff and faculty of GMCH was just enough to train their own students and could not be spared for students from private institutions. “This situation does not change for the physiotherapists", point out insiders.

Officials in the administration are too surprised to comment on this. "It's not in our knowledge", said a senior official while promising to look into the matter.

While nursing students are surely going to be disappointed with these double standards and the fact that the proposal to formulate a policy for their training has been turned down, the hospital is also set to further streamline the procedure of taking physiotherapy interns. Since the demand is too much, the hospital proposes to take in students only on merit from now on.

Confirming the move, head of GMCH’s orthopedics department, Dr Sudhir Girg, said: “We have almost 50 students in each batch and the practical training is for six months. As the number has gone up we plan to start taking students on the basis of merit”.

On being asked how this training was continuing even after the UT administration had failed to formulate a policy to train nursing students, Girg said the two cases were absolutely different. "The physiotherapists are interns who take practical training after completing their course, unlike the nursing ones", he averred.

GMCH director principal Dr Raj Bahadur also maintained there was a difference between nursing trainees and physiotherapy interns and the two could not be treated in the same manner. Nevertheless, principals of certain private nursing colleges, who are now likely to suffer because of the administration's decision, are finding it difficult to digest this logic.

"What’s the difference? Both are practical training," said a principal on condition of anonymity, adding while interns were usually paid a stipend GMCH was charging for it. "If they’re willing to accept we can also start sending our students for practical training after completion of their course", he added.

Ironically, while GMCH does not offer courses in physiotherapy and has an infrastructure just enough for patient care, it is diverting its meagre resources for training of students from private colleges. The hospital reportedly charges Rs 20,000 per student for internship.


Showers cool city
Mercury dips to 30.2° C

Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
Pre-monsoon showers lashed the city and its surrounding areas today morning providing the much-needed respite to the people from the sultry weather conditions.

The maximum temperature dipped by 8.4 degrees Celsius. “The morning rainfall and the cool winds brought the temperature down. It will remain like this for the next 24 hours,” said the duty officer at the Met office.

According to Met department, several parts of the city recorded nearly 0.5 mm of rainfall bringing the mercury down from 38.6 degrees Celsius to 30.2 degrees. The minimum temperature also dipped by 2.7 degrees.

The good news is that the weather is likely to remain like this for the next couple of days in the city, said the Met office.

Minus the heat, the usual power cuts were also missing in the city. “We did not need the cooler or the AC in the afternoon,” said Ashok Kumar (65), a retired schoolteacher of Sector 32.

“Due to the low pressure areas over Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, the city witnessed a change in the weather condition. It may rain tomorrow as well,' said a Met official.

“The city will experience partly cloudy sky and may witness a few spells of light rain or thundershowers during the next 24 hours and the maximum and minimum temperatures would hover around 35 degrees C and 25 degrees C, respectively,” he added.



Price Rise
BJP takes govt to task
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
National general secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Party Vijay Goel today blamed the Congress-led UPA government for price rise. Addressing a press conference here as a part of the BJP’s nationwide agitation against price rise, Goel said the UPA government’s various acts of “omission and commission” were the cause of unabated spiraling of prices, which had hit the common man hard.

The policies of the Congress government are making rich richer and poor poorer, which is clear from the fact that in 2005 there were 28 crore people below the poverty line and the figure now was pegged at 41 crore, he alleged.

Meanwhile, BJP activists today gathered at party headquarters Kamalam in Sector 33-A from where a procession on horse carts was taken out which covered a stretch of around 6 km indicating that the regular hike in petrol prices are unaffordable for the common man.

“The recent price hike is unjustified, unethical and uncalled for. The Congress-led government has increased the price of petrol three times during the last six months,” local unit president Sanjay Tandon said.



Air travellers decry service tax hike
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
The government’s recent decision to increase service tax on air travel from 1.5 per cent to ten per cent has come as a shock to passengers, who say the steep hike is unjustified as they were already paying a big amount in taxes.

While the service tax charged on domestic flights will be 10 per cent or Rs 103, whichever is lesser, for international flights it will be 10 per cent or about Rs 500, whichever is lesser.

However, passengers are complaining travel operators have already begun charging a full 10 per cent service tax for international travel. The tax is to be paid on the basic fare. For some overseas flights the basic fare has gone up to even Rs 50,000. That means passengers have to pay about Rs 5,000 extra and not Rs 500 (the lesser amount).

According to Sapna Chopra, a travel agent in Sector 44, the higher service tax comes into force from today. “There are already too many taxes on air travel and the increased service tax will further burden passengers. This amounts to discouraging people from travelling by air”, she said.

Jaswinder Singh Kahlon, who travels frequently to Mumbai in connection with his business, said the increase in the service tax was unjustified. “This is quite an arbitrary hike and the government must reconsider it”, he observed, while adding, “Nowhere have we heard the service tax on air travel was raised so steeply”.

Both passengers and travel agents maintained although initially the government had kept a provision of 10 per cent or Rs 103 and Rs 500 (whichever is lesser) for domestic and international travel, it is likely passengers will charged a full 10 per cent service tax on air travel.

While some people who have to travel within the country can opt for alternative means of transport, those having to fly abroad frequently are the worst hit. Susheel Mittal, a businessman, said he has to often travel to Delhi in connection with his business. “I’ve no option but to shell out the extra money for my trips as I’ve no other option”, he pointed out.

There is a common perception prevailing among people that the 10 per cent service tax on air travel is too much. “Air travel is not a luxury, it’s a necessity”, remarked Surabhi Sirohi. Although not a frequent traveller, she said while imposing extra taxes on luxury items is understandable it was completely uncalled for in the case of air travel. “This is because flying is no longer a luxury, particularly for those who have to travel abroad”, she averred.



Autos to remain off road today
STA issues over 90 challans

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
The auto-rickshaw operators in city have decided to go on strike tomorrow against the delay in revision of fares. However, strictness of authorities in issuing challans to auto drivers is being seen as the immediate reason behind the decision. The State Transport Authority (STA) today challaned 93 auto drivers in the city.

It was since morning that the STA authorities started a one-week-long challan drive against the auto-rickshaw drivers who did not install fare meters and were found driving without uniform.

STA secretary Vandana Disodia and the union president Harcharan Sahni also had an argument over the issue in Sector 22. Later, the agitating auto drivers left the spot and decided to go on strike.

The president of union on the other hand alleged that the authorities had have failed to increase the fare of auto-rickshaws despite the frequent hike in the fuel prices. On the other hand, they are being harassed by the authorities, he alleged.

The fares are fixed in the city on the pattern of New Delhi, he said adding: “Fares in Delhi have been increased, but the authorities here have failed to do so.” Tomorrow, auto drivers will assemble at the Circus Ground and proceed towards the STA office in Sector 18 to protest, said Sahni.



Train timings changed

Chandigarh, July 1
The Northern Railway has announced change in the timings of some trains in the Ambala division from today. According to the new timetable, the Lucknow-Chandigarh Sadbhavana Express (2231) reached the Chandigarh railway station at 9.55 am instead of 10.15 am.

The Allahabad-Chandigarh Unchahar Express (train No. 4217) arrived in Chandigarh at 10.15 am instead of 9.55 am. The Chennai-Chandigarh Express (2687), which used to reach here at 4.20 am, arrived at 4.30 am. Similarly, the Nangal Dam-Ambala passenger train reached the Chandigarh railway station at 5.30 pm instead of 5.55 pm and the afternoon Chandigarh-Ambala passenger train departed from the Chandigarh railway station at 1.35 pm instead of 1.20 pm. — TNS



Saang fest starts with ‘Krishan Janam’
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, July 1
The week-long bonanza of Harynavi folk theatre “Saang” started at the Tagore Theatre with the staging of “Krishan Janam” here today. The annual festival is being organised by the Department of Information, Culture and Public Relations, Haryana for the past five years.

Project director Bhal Singh Balhara said the aim is at preserving cultural heritage of Saang among other traditional art forms presently on the verge of extinction.

“Krishan Janam” presented by Sangi Parkash, borrowing the theme from mythology, depicted the saga of divine wisdom and celestial powers of Lord Krishna which crushed the cruel king Kansa and others.

Other performances by well known Sangis includes Saangs “Seth Chanderpal- Sumtra Devi” by Sooraj Bedi on July 3, “Gopi Chand: by Baje Bhagat on July 4, “Raja Bhoj” by Ram Sharan on July 5, “Kammo Kailash” by Jagbir Singh on July 6 and “Narsi ka Bhaat” by Dharamveer on July 7.



Talk on vascular diseases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
Vascular health helps prevent vascular diseases in life thereby securing a healthy future, vascular surgeon Dr Ravul Jindal said this while delivering an informative talk on vascular diseases at awareness talk “know about your vascular health” here.

The talk was organised by the Retired IAS Officer’s Association and State Bank of India Pensioner’s Association.

“People suffering from vascular diseases run two to six time greater risk of dying from heart attack or stroke as compared to others. Key to overcome this problem lies in its prevention and awareness among masses,” he said.

Disorders like peripheral arterial diseases (PAD) are more serious than they normally appear to be. “PAD often goes undetected as a disease and usually occurs because of blockade or clogging of arteries taking blood out of heart to other body areas. The symptoms are most commonly noticed in the form of fatigue in legs,” he added.

He cautioned that cigarette smokers were more vulnerable to PAD, while those suffering from high blood pressure, high blood-cholesterol level, physical inactivity, diabetes and obesity, too, were at higher risk.

Talking about amputation of limbs being the worst nightmare of a PAD patient, Dr Jindal asserted that timely intervention by vascular surgeons help prevent such drastic steps.



Plantation drive launched
Tribune News Service

Deepti Sahai, General Manager, SBI, waters a sapling, as Pawan Kumar Bansal, Cabinet Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources, looks on during a tree plantation drive launched by the bank in Chandigarh
Deepti Sahai, General Manager, SBI, waters a sapling, as Pawan Kumar Bansal, Cabinet Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources, looks on during a tree plantation drive launched by the bank in Chandigarh on Thursday. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, July 1
Cabinet Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources Pawan Kumar Bansal planted saplings alongside the road leading to the Motor Market in Sector 48, Chandigarh, while the State Bank of India launched a tree plantation drive on the Bank Day here today.

Chief general manager SK Sehgal, State Bank of India, Chandigarh Circle, Sudipan Bhaduri and Deepti Sahai, both general managers, State Bank of India, also planted saplings.

Sehgal while launching the drive said the bank had planned to plant around 700-800 saplings on the Sectors 48-49 roads and the campaign would continue during the month at the sites identified in consultation with horticulture officials of the Chandigarh administration, municipal corporation and forest department.





Price of kerosene fixed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
The Chandigarh Administration has fixed the wholesale and retail prices of kerosene to be sold in Chandigarh. An order passed by the Food, Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department, Chandigarh Administration, said that the wholesale price per kilo litre would be Rs 12,210.83.

The retail rate per litre has been fixed at Rs 12.56 inclusive of VAT charges. The above rates would be applicable with immediate effect, according to a press note.



Raids reveal massive tax evasion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
Income Tax officials detected massive evasion during raids conducted at 35 places in Chandigarh, Khanna, Jalandhar and Mandi Gobingarh yesterday. While the detections were being calculated today as well, a real estate agent of Khanna in Punjab surrendered Rs 3 crore of unaccounted money.

It was yesterday morning when the crack-down on 35 residential as well as commercial premises of the city-based Gulati Group and others yielded cash and documents relating to money transactions. The IT officials also detected 15 lockers in the banks owned by the group.

The probe had been delayed as two of the assessees were not in the country,added sources.

A real estate agent Ravinder Puri in Khanna has surrendered Rs 3 crore before the IT officials. At Mandi Gobindgarh Rs 69 lakh was detected from Narain and Company.



Renewal of Contract
UT’s recruitment has guest teachers worried
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 1
The recent teacher recruitment conducted by the UT education department seems to have issues with guest teachers, who are awaiting renewal of their contract.

According to sources, teachers, who are generally relieved before summer vacations, are eventually re-hired in first week of July with the renewal of their appointment contract.

“Every year we are relieved on May 31 and rehired on July 1. We have not got any update on our contract this year and thus will not be able to rejoin our duties after summer vacation. We are worried about our job and even students will miss out a lot on academic front,” said a guest teacher. The renewal, however, has been delayed this year, owing to the fresh recruitments by the department.

According to the UT District Education Officer, Chanchal Singh: “We have hired several teachers in the past two months and need to adjust them first. Only after their appointment we will review the need of guest teachers and renew their contract.” The reason, however, has led to resentment amongst teachers as they maintain: “Every year our contract gets renewed from July 1, but this time there is no sign. It’s a matter of employment of hundreds of teachers and the DPI has claimed that file is under process. Employment of regular teachers can’t be a criteria to harass others teachers.”



Tiwana is Dean academic affairs
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 1
Dr SS Tiwana, professor in the department of public administration, has taken over as Dean, academic affairs of Punjabi University, Patiala, here yesterday. Dr Tiwana has more than 80 research papers to his name and guided 12 candidates to get their doctorate degrees.

He has been awarded with the titles- “Man of the Year” by the American Biographic Institute, California, and Vijya Shree by the India International Society for his contribution in public administration.

Presently, he is vice-president of the Indian Public Administration Association and Indian Political Science Association.

A former head of the public administration department, Dr Tiwana has done his research work with special focus on federalism and centre-state relations.



Programme for community teachers ends

Chandigarh, July 1
The 20-day orientation programme for community teachers, organised by SSA UT Chandigarh, concluded here today. The aim was to hone skills of the teachers, including teaching skills, classroom management, etc.

Chanchal Singh, DEO, UT education department, was the chief guest. The function was presided over by Dilbag Singh, Deputy DEO, and number of NGOs from various organisations.

About 180 community teachers from various schools participated. Several cultural activities were staged by teachers, in which “Nukkad Natak” and giddha were highly applauded by the audience. An exhibition was also put up in which the TLM (Teaching Learning Materials) were on display. — TNS



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