C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Aerocity Draw Today
Who will be the lucky few?
Tribune News Service

Tents pitched near PUDA Bhavan, Mohali, for the draw of lots for plots in GMADA’s Aerocity project, to be held on Saturday
Tents pitched near PUDA Bhavan, Mohali, for the draw of lots for plots in GMADA’s Aerocity project, to be held on Saturday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, September 24
The aspirations of thousands of people to own a dream house in the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) Aerocity project will be decided tomorrow when the much-awaited draw of lots for plots finally gets under way.

Going by the number of applications received by GMADA against various categories, the outcome of the draw is bound to bring cheer to a few and tears to many. Quoting statistics, GMADA officials said the small and midsize plots would attract the maximum number of applicants. For different categories of plots, there are 80 to 100 applicants after every one plot, they added.

“If I get a plot, it would be like hitting the jackpot as I can realise my dream of owning a house in Mohali. Buying a plot at the prevailing market prices is virtually impossible,” said Sanjay, an applicant for a plot in the 400 square yard category. He would be among the 5,500 applicants who would test their luck for only 50 such plots.

Moneyed applicants who will not be successful in the draw have not lost all hope. “I will buy a plot from the successful applicant at any cost. There are many like me who will buy the plots as most of them will be offered on sale in the open market”, said an applicant who did not wish to be quoted.

Since the expectations for the Aerocity project are very high, a lot of investors and real estate agents have entered the scene to procure the plots.

GMADA estate officer Balbir Singh said in the first phase of the draw scheduled for tomorrow, a huge tent has been erected on the ground adjoining PUDA Bhavan in Sector 62.

On the authority’s request, the Punjab government has appointed SK Sandhu, managing director of Punjab Agro Industries Corp, and Anjali Bhawra, medical education and research secretary, as observers for the fair conduct of the draw of lots. A large seating arrangement has been made in the tented area.

According the revised schedule, the draw of lots in the reserved category (500 square yards) will begin at 9:30 am, with the draw for 400 square yard category to be held at and at 2:00 pm. For plots measuring 500 square yards (general), 300 square yards, 250 square yards, 200 square yards, 150 square yards and 125 square yards, the draw will be held on September 29 and 30 and on October 1, 7, 12 and 13.

Reserved category applicants cry foul

Meanwhile, applicants in the reserved categories of freedom fighters lamented that the sub-clause of “sons and wards of freedom fighters” which GMADA had incorporated in the terms and conditions of the draw was not in line with its past practice. They said the policy on plot reservation mentioned that the applicant should be a recipient of a freedom fighter ‘tamrapatra’ (certificate) or pension by the Punjab government.



Don’t issue allotment letters: HC
Stays auction of commercial sites
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that the draw of plots in GMADA’s Aerocity housing project, due to be held tomorrow, will continue as per the schedule.

However, at the same time, the court has asked GMADA not to issue letters of intent or allotment letters to plot allottees.

A high court Division Bench of justices Jasbir Singh and Augustine George Masih also stayed the auction of commercial sites in the project till the decision on a petition filed on the issue.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions, including the ones filed by landowners, who had opted for the land-pooling scheme for the upcoming project.

Terming GMADA’s action as illegal and arbitrary, 15 residents of Bakarpur and Kishanpura villages in Mohali district had demanded a stay on the allotment of plots to the public. The petitioners had sought quashing of the public notice published on March 8, 2010, the award dated April 16, 2010, and the corrigendum published on April 26, 2010, to the extent that the same provide only 121 square yards of commercial land against each acre of acquired land and includes parking area in the same, being violation of the land pooling scheme circulated vide letter dated September 5, 2008.



300 trees face axe
Admn clearance expected soon
Sanjeev Singh Bariana/TNS

Chandigarh, September 24
More than 300 trees face the axe for the construction of a railway freight yard to enhance the storage and downloading capacity at the railway station here.The file is lying with the Chandigarh administration for formal clearance. The area falls in the reserve forest area of Daria village.

Confirming the development, Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar said permission regarding the project was currently under study and formal approval was expected shortly.

Railway station superintendent DK Meena said, “The move has probably been initiated by the Ambala office and we have no communication regarding clearance or action.”

The Railways had applied for permission to clear the area more than a year back. Since the issue pertained to clearing a sizeable green cover, it needed clearance from the forest department.

The biggest hurdle in clearance to the project was an assured plan of corresponding enhancement in green cover in the specific area.

The Finance Secretary said they needed to ensure that the action plan for compensating tree loss matched a concrete action plan with results as merely planting saplings was not enough.

Meanwhile, the railway authorities had been working on greater details for expansion of the railway station and allied facilities. Work on the railway underpass at Daria was at an advanced stage. The road in front of the railway station was also being broadened.



Schools not to pay property tax: HC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab and Haryana today quashed a notification fixing property tax on institutional land.

The order came on a bunch of 23 petitions filed by St John’s High School, Sector 26, and other institutions, more than seven years after a notice specifying the tax on commercial, industrial and institutional land was issued. The judgment by Justice Vinod Kumar Sharma assumes significance as the burden of tax would eventually have fallen on students of unaided schools.

Challenging the “illegal” imposition of Municipal Land and Building Commercial Property Tax on private schools, the petitioners had contended that it would result in financial burden on thousands of students studying in all private unaided schools.

Appearing on the petitioners’ behalf, advocate ML Sarin had argued that the petitioner schools were surviving on the fee collected from students and have no other source of income as these are neither funded nor aided by the state government.

Seeking the quashing of the impugned notices dated May 7, 2003, Sarin also argued, along with other counsel, that the land was owned by the Central government and allotted on lease to the unaided schools as per Chandigarh Lease Hold of Sites and Building Rules of 1973. As such, the Central government was the landowner.

Sarin argued that the impugned notices imposing rate of tax and also framing the byelaws were issued without jurisdiction as the power had been exercised by the Administrator, whereas the government by notification could assess the tax.

After hearing the arguments, Justice Sharma asserted: “These writ petitions succeed. The notification fixing the property tax on institutional land is quashed. The notices issued, demanding tax from the petitioners, are also ordered to be quashed.” 


School building demolished
Tribune News Service

Mohali, September 24
Demolition of a primary school building in Phase VI on the directions a municipal councillor resulted in a high drama here today.Rajinder Sharma, area councillor and member of the school management society, said since the building was in a poor shape, it had been demolished.

On the contrary, officials of the education department said they were not even aware about any orders regarding the demolition.

No permission from GMADA, PWD department and education department had been taken to demolish the structure.

Another councillor, Jaspinder Lali, who is also a member of the school management society, said the building had been demolished by Ranjinder Sharma without taking any official consent.

Since the school management society had got a grant of Rs 11 lakh, there was a plan to use the money for new building.

The DEO, Mohali, Surjit Kaur, who visited the spot is learnt to have given her report to higher authorities.



PU VC accused of misusing emergency powers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
A local RTI activist, RK Singla, today alleged that Panjab University vice-chancellor RC Sobti had used his emergency powers in gross violation of rules and the item is enlisted for the approval of the PU syndicate on Sunday.

He said the appointment of the station manager of the PU community radio station), training-cum-placement officer, University Institute of Applied Management Sciences (UIAMS), and the public relations officer (against the vacancy for director of public relations-cum-editor of PU News) were all made “illegitimately”. He claimed the vice-chancellor had appointed them under the pretext of “emergency appointments” in violation of the provisions of the university calendar.

In his complaint addressed to the PU chancellor and vice-president of India, Hamid Ansari, Singla alleged certain regulations of the varsity calendar had been “misinterpreted to adjust certain people against these posts”.

He claimed a mention of the university regulations was made in the syndicate agenda for appointing the station manager of the PU community radio station and the UIAMS training-cum-placement officer.

However, according to Singla, no rules or regulations of the university were disclosed under which the new PRO had been appointed. He said the candidate had been accommodated against a nonexistent post of PRO against the vacancy for the post of director of public relations-cum-editor, PU News.

Singla said according to the regulations stipulated in the syndicate item, the PU vice chancellor has the authority to make emergency temporary appointments for a maximum period of one year but his power is confined to the recruitment of teachers only.

Singla quoted the Panjab University Act, 1947 and the regulations framed thereunder, in which the term ‘teacher’ includes professors, readers and lecturers as also “such other persons as may be approved for imparting instruction in the university or in the institutions managed by the university and is designated as teachers by the senate”.

Sobti could not be reached for comment on the issue.



Extension of coaching camps’ duration to be discussed
Neha Miglani/TNS

Chandigarh, September 24
In what could turn out to be a boon for students representing Panjab University in sports, the Syndicate in its upcoming meeting would consider extension of the duration of the coaching camps, which would ensure that they could appear in the exams simultaneously.

The decision, if matures, would mean that such coaching camps could be extended up to 60 days, instead of the earlier maximum limit of 48 days. The move would ensure that the students, representing the university in any sports, could attend the camps and at the same time appear in their examination, if the datesheet clashed with the camp period.

In yet another sports related recommendation, the PU Syndicate would also consider adding a new sports activity in its inter-college competitions. The Panjab University Sports Council has proposed the introduction of a new game called circle-style kabaddi for girls in the inter-college events from the session 2011-2012. A decision on this is likely to be taken in the Syndicate meeting on Sunday.

Among other items scheduled for discussion in the upcoming Syndicate meeting is the issue of the scrutiny of awards and results. In this, Syndic members would consider revival of the practice, in which retired employees of the university used to supervise evaluation of answersheets after they are checked. In case a question was left unmarked, the retired employees, who were assigned the task used to supervise such cases.

Suggesting that in these cases, responsibility could not be fixed in case of errors, a committee constituted to recommend changes said the practice must be done away with and a new system must be ideated instead.

Another issue likely to be discussed is the formulation of the selection panel for colleges, as per the University Grants Commission (UGC) regulations. Earlier, in addition to the Vice-Chancellor’s nominee, the college authorities where the panel had to visit used to tick two members from the list sent to them. A revival is expected in the formulation of the panel under the new guidelines.



Sewer line collapses, road caves in at Sec 71
Tribune News Service

A section of the road that caved in after the storm water line collapsed at Sector 71, Mohali
A section of the road that caved in after the storm water line collapsed at Sector 71, Mohali. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, September 24
Even as GMADA and public health department officials play the blame game over damaged main storm-sewer line in Sector 71 here, a huge chunk of the road passing through the sector has caved in.

Area residents are at the receiving end as to have to take a longer route to reach their houses. The sinking line was also posing threat to the nearby houses. A big crater has developed in the mid of the road.

Sources in public health department said the 2,300 metre-long brick storm-sewer line carrying the storm water from several phases of Mohali was laid 30 years ago by PUDA and it had lost its strength and was giving in at different points. In the last few years, the line has suffered damages on more than 10 occasions. Incessant rains further worsened the situation. GMADA officials, however, said the repair work was further damaging the line. 



6 yrs on, IT conclave losing steam
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The sixth edition of the UT administration’s annual IT conclave, “e-revolution-2010”, scheduled for September 29 and 30, has been announced, but seems to be losing steam.The conclave, to be held at Hotel Mountview, Sector 10, is being hosted by the administration in collaboration with Punjab government’s STPI, Mohali.

Action on the agenda approved in the last five years deserves mention. In 2005, the main agenda was about shared services. To make e -governance more effective, suggestions poured in from all quarters.

After the conclusion of this conclave, various companies showed interest in Chandigarh as an upcoming IT hub and the administration also assured them of better connectivity. Till date, even air connectivity was lacking.

After this conclave, many big names in the IT industry were given space to set up workplaces. Later, many of them pulled out. Repeated reminders and notices by the administration to companies like Wipro failed to elicit a response from them.

In 2006, the main agenda was the development of IT in the tricity. In 2007, the STPI of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh collaborated for an e-revolution.

In 2009, along with these three, NASSCOM, TiE and India’s Angels Network came forward. Deliberations were around the development of IT.

This year, top names in the field of IT were missing. The only saving grace was the president of NASSCOM, Som Mittal.

Though the name of a Wipro representative was announced as part of this year’s conclave, insiders claimed that Wipro’s participation was doubtful.

Giving a low-down on the two-day affair, Information Technology-cum-Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar said the event would help in creating a roadmap for both governments for the next five years to work as more proactive enablers for transforming the region into a knowledge hub.

It would focus on the next big areas in technology and new-generation marketing tools like Web 2.0, other social media and the impact of 3G mobile applications on m-banking, m-commerce and m-governance.



35 challaned for encroachment

Chandigarh, September 24
An anti-encroachment drive was carried out at the Shastri Market, Sector 22, under the supervision of Lalit Siwach, Joint Commissioner I, here today. The enforcement staff challaned 35 shopkeepers for encroachment and cleared the passage where shopkeepers displayed cloth items and shoes.

Warnings were also issued to shopkeepers not to encroach upon passages in the market and municipal land, failing which legal action would be taken against them. — TNS



Sanitation worker slay siege to road
Tribune News Service

Members of the Punjab and UT Valmiki Naujwan Sudhar Sabha block traffic in Chandigarh on Friday.
Members of the Punjab and UT Valmiki Naujwan Sudhar Sabha block traffic in Chandigarh on Friday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Zirakpur, September 24
Hundreds of sanitation workers under the banner of the Punjab and UT Employees’ Joint Action Committee, the Balmiki Youth Welfare Association and the Punjab Sanitation Workers Union today staged a protest demonstration against the state government for not fulfilling their demands.

The protesters blocked the national highway near the sales tax barrier for more than two hours. As a result, hundreds of vehicles, including ambulances, were stuck in the traffic jam. The protesters demanded regularisation of employees and end of contractual system with a Mumbai-based company for all the sanitation works of Punjab. Later, they submitted a memorandum to Dera Bassi SDM Puneet Goyal. Superintendent of Police (Traffic) HS Pandher and Deputy Superintendent of Police (Traffic) DS Mann were also present on the spot. 



142 units of blood donated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
A total of 142 units of blood was donated by the Air Force personnel at a blood donation camp held at the Air Force Station, High Grounds, to mark the Air Force Day here today.

A camp conducted by a 10-member team from the department of transfusion medicine, PGI, led by Dr Usha Rao was inaugurated by Group Captain Sunil Padegaonkar, VSM, Station Commander 1, Tettra School.



PU Notes
Date extended

CHANDIGARH: The last date for submission of admission forms for MEd (regular) in the department of education, Panjab University, and its affiliated colleges has been extended up to September 28. Dr Ajaib Singh, chairman, Joint Admission Committee (JAC) MEd 2010, announced that the candidates could submit their admission forms complete in all respects at Aruna Ranjit Chandra Hall of the university.


The counselling for the admission to 150 seats of MEd (through correspondence) for the session 2010-2012 will be held on October 14 at the University School of Open Learning (USOL). — TNS



PU Senate
Poll for arts constituency seat today

Chandigarh, September 24
The election for an arts constituency seat in the Panjab University Senate will take place at 9 am in the Senate Hall tomorrow.A total of 51 Senate members, who opted for the arts constituency, 27 added members in the PU Senate and 49 professors and chairpersons of the arts departments would cast their votes.

A voter turnout of 110, out of a total of 127 voters, is expected during the voting session. The seat was vacated due to the retirement of AK Saihjpal in the last session and will now be contested by former Panjab University Teachers’ Union (PUTA) presidents, Raunki Ram and Manjit Singh.

Following the days of visits and campaigning through telephonic calls, the last minute preparations were on in the two quarters today with a close contest. — TNS



PU in ‘cleaning up’ mode
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
With just two days to go for the Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) team to visit Panjab University to adjudge it for the university with potential for excellence (UPE), the departments are now in the “cleaning up” mode as the last minute preparations.

Besides the presentations being prepared by chairpersons of various departments highlighting their achievements and one core area of study in the future, whitewash and a massive cleaning drive is being done on the campus.

The Union government’s team would adjudge the university on two broad parameters- sustainable development and biodiversity. A mock inspection by a team comprising university officials was held, which visited the departments to gauge the preparations and suggest improvements.



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