C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


A day of crime, accidents
Rash of thefts, robberies hits city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
A spate of burglaries and robberies marked the end of the long holiday weekend in the city. Two armed men robbed four people in the forested area of Dhanas today afternoon, while in two other incidents thieves decamped with Rs 20,000, two cameras and a laptop after breaking open the locks of four shops in Sector 17 and a house in Sector 48 was burgled with valuables worth Rs 11 lakh stolen.

Sources said the robbery occurred at around 2:30 pm when two youths, who appeared to be in their twenties, barged into a tubewell office where the operator, Mohan Lal, had called his Nepalese friends, Bhim Bhadur, Ram Parshad and Nand Lal, for lunch. The robbers, who had a long dagger with them, picked up an axe near the tubewell and thrashed the foursome before robbing them of Rs 6,000 and three mobile phones.

The victims told the police the robbers fled from the scene on foot after committing the crime. The police, which was informed about the incident, arrived there soon.

Dhanas police post in charge subinspector Kirpal Singh Kooner said a case under section 382 of the Indian Penal Code was filed on the basis of a complaint lodged by Lal. “The police is trying to trace the suspects on the basis of the information and description provided by the victims”, he added.

Earlier in the morning four shopkeepers in Sector 17 woke up after being told the locks of their stores had been broken. The police accompanied by forensic experts and a dog squad later examined the crime scene. Later the shopkeepers gave it in writing to the cops that they did not want any police action, saying their losses were not huge. Later, one of the shopkeepers, Saurabh Wahi, after learning his laptop was stolen along with two digital cameras and Rs 20,000, again approached the police and was told to come on Monday.

Wahi, the owner of Harman & Co, a tailor shop which stitches police uniforms, said Rs 20,000 in cash as well as two digital cameras and a laptop valued at about Rs 1.5 lakh were stolen. The thieves then stuck at Ajay Law Agency and fled with Rs 2,000 in cash after breaking open the locks.

Though the locks of two shops, Modern Law House and AVI Associates, were also broken in similar fashion, nothing was reportedly stolen from there.

Wahi said the theft was detected at 7 am when his employees came for work. He said initially he was not aware about the loss of his laptop, which he said cost Rs 1 lakh, and he refused to go to a police action.

“I later realized the loss was much bigger and the laptop could be used in criminal activities and I decided to lodge a complaint. I contacted the police officers who said they were not available today while telling me to come tomorrow. The police, however, detected some footprints from my shop and forensic experts said the thieves must be 6 foot tall”, Wahi said.

The theft at the Sector 48 residence of VK Mehotra, a former director of the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory, came to light this afternoon. Mehotra reported that Rs 6 lakh, jewellery worth Rs 5 lakh and some US dollar bills had been stolen from his house. He said he had gone to Delhi with his family to celebrate Diwali and found his house ransacked when he returned to the city today. A case has been registered at the Sector 31 police station.



Tenant stabs another to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
An altercation between two tenants took a violent turn when one of them allegedly stabbed the other to death at Bapu Dham Colony in Sector 26 here tonight.

Sources claimed that the victim, 25-year-old Mohammed Asif, was stabbed to death by his neighbour, Mohammed Rashid, around 8.30 pm. The victim was critically injured and was rushed to the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, where he later died. Mohammed Asif, a painter by profession, had recently got married.

Police sources said both the victim and the accused lived in the same house as tenants and would quarrel often. A case of murder has been registered.



26-yr-old killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
A 26-year-old storekeeper in a Sector 35 restaurant was killed while a motorcyclist was injured in two hit-and-run road accidents in the city.

The police said 26-year-old Dewinder Kumar was returning to his home in Dhanas around 12.30 am when he was hit by an unidentified vehicle in Sector 25. A police control room vehicle rushed him to the PGI, where he died later.

The police has registered a case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving against the unidentified driver.

The police said the victim was the youngest of his three siblings and his mother was staying in Himachal Pradesh. He was living with his cousin in a rented accommodation here. His father had died earlier.

In another incident, Dharminder Singh, a resident of Sector 8, was injured after his motorcycle was hit by a car (HR 06 U 6968) near the cremation ground in Industrial Area. The victim has been admitted to the GMCH-32.



Former Chief Secy walks out of meeting
RTI activists protest
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
Expressing his disagreement on imposing a common penalty on all bureaucrats who fail to provide details sought under the Right to Information Act, Punjab chief information commissioner (CIC) Ramesh Inder Singh, who is a former state chief secretary, walked out of a meeting of RTI activists held at Law Bhawan, Sector 37, leading to a protest by the latter.

Nearly a hundred RTI activists from Punjab shouted slogans against Singh, alleging harassment by certain information commissioners while seeking details under the RTI Act.

Singh, on the other hand, spelled out his differences on the methods adopted by the activists to demand a penalty on all officials who fail to provide information. “I’ve noted down the issues raised by various activists and assured them these would be put forth before the state commission and remedial measures taken wherever required. But when it comes to imposing penalties my view is that each case must be dealt with individually. The RTI act mentions a penalty is tenable only in those cases where information is concealed willfully, mischievously and intentionally,” he averred.

Singh said the issue of penalties could not be decided by “raising hands” at a meeting. “They (activists) wanted to pass a resolution that a penalty should be imposed in each case. I responded this would depend on the facts of each case to be decided after a fair hearing of the party concerned in judicial proceedings by the relevant information commissioner,” he added. The meeting almost erupted into an uproar when the RTI activists sought replies to some “hard-hitting questions”.

“As an outcome of today’s meeting five major problems were identified. The most common being faced by RTI activists is an oft-repeated reply by an information commissioner that the records pertaining to a query have been lost. Cases of noncompliance with orders, arbitrary compensation and penalty not being imposed in pending cases are the other most common problems,” said Arvind Kajriwal, an RTI activist from New Delhi.

A cancer patient, Devinder Khurana, who is a resident of Pathankot, claimed he was falsely accused of beating up a police station house officer for seeking certain details under the RTI Act.



Financial uncertainty dogs metro project
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
The metro project, which fired the imagination of UT administration officials as well as residents for providing a long-term solution to the tricity’s commuting problems, is facing major financing constraints. Though the city may be a “revenue surplus” yet generating resources for the ambitious Rs 15,000 crore initiative will be an uphill task for the administration in the backdrop of its dependence on the central government for funding the project.

Sources said the cost of the metro’s first phase, likely to be completed by 2014-15, is pegged at Rs 10,765 crore and arranging such a huge amount will prove difficult. In fact, sharing funding for the project among the three stakeholders - Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana - will pose its own set of problems.

Similar difficulties will be encountered with Himachal Pradesh, whose Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh areas will benefit in a major way by the metro.

Recently, the stakeholders shortlisted the Delhi Metro Rail Corp LTd (DMRC) to prepare a detailed project report. The comprehensive mobility plan for a mass rapid transit system for the tricity, prepared by Rail India Technical & Economic Services (RITES), a prerequisite set by the urban development ministry for funding most of the project, had already been approved by the states concerned.

Official sources conceded that funding would not be an easy task for the major project. However, past experience has shown the central government had been quite liberal is releasing money for projects in Chandigarh and the metro would not be an exception.

With Chandigarh MP Pawan Bansal having a major say in the central cabinet, being the minister for parliamentary affairs & water resources, funds should not pose any major challenge, the sources said.

Interestingly, the Congress party faces an anti-incumbency factor in next year’s municipal corporation elections. Getting a grant for major projects like the metro would stand Bansal’s party in good stead in the next year’s polls, the sources added.

The CMP had suggested the MRTS project comprising a metro system (52.4 km), bus rapid transport (BRT) system (190.5 km) and commuter rail service (195 km)- -to be completed in three phases by 2030-31.

Vexing problems

With the financial situation of one of the stakeholders, Punjab, being not very comfortable, sharing of funds with the other two stakeholders will be a major challenge for the Rs 15,000-crore project. The fact that the state is scheduled to go to the polls in early 2012 is one of the most worrying factors facing the project



Eateries near airport
Aircraft flying on borrowed time
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
Is the landing and take-off from the Chandigarh airport a safe proposition? No, if one goes by the changes that have come about near the airport in the past one year or so.

Some vendors at an open space near the airport traffic lights in Raipur Khurd and Behlana village, located adjacent to the airport, are posing a serious threat to aircraft and several hundred residents living in the vicinity.

These vendors, selling eatables like fried fish, chicken, noodles, pakoras and other fast food items, are located just 500 yd from the civil airport used by commercial airlines and transport planes of the Indian Air Force.

Welders have been using gas-welding sets in these villages, causing glare for pilots approaching the airport.

However, the local administration says vendors are over 900 m from the boundary of the airport and thus within the rules.

Recently, 153 passengers aboard the Air India Mumbai-Delhi-Chandigarh flight narrowly escaped a disaster at the city airport when an eagle got entangled in the front undercarriage of the aircraft.

However, sources said the trouble started two years ago when liquor vends were allowed to come up near the airport.

Subsequently, several meat shops mushroomed and started using an open area along the airport as dumping ground, inviting a large number of scavengers like eagles, kites and vultures.

For airlines, shops and roadside vendors in these villages are a cause for concern.

Also, liquor vends and meat shops in the area keep their gaslights on till late in the evening, causing confusion in the minds of pilots.

The place remains littered with eatables and leftovers, including half-eaten portions of non-vegetarian food, thus inviting birds and other animals.

An official of Jet Airways said they had approached the Chandigarh administration many a time to get the shops and roadside vendors removed from the vicinity of the airport but to no avail.

Similar sentiments were conveyed by John, an official with GoAir Airlines.

When contacted, an official of Jet Airways, said: “We have approached the Chandigarh Administration many times regarding the removal of shops and roadside vendors from near the airport villages, but nothing has been done.” A GoAir Airlines official also echoed the same sentiment.


GMADA sleeps over earnest money refund
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 7
Hundreds of unsuccessful applicants in Aerocity are apprehensive about statements issued by GMADA officials on refunding the earnest money at the earliest. Initially, GMADA officials had claimed to start the refund process by Diwali. But so far there is no movement and the officials are taking their own sweet time in processing the data before refunding the amount either to applicants or the banks that have financed the earnest money.

AK Bhandhari, general secretary of Public Cause, an NGO, said earnest money should be refunded at the earliest. “GMADA should ensure that the unsuccessful applicants, who got their applications financed through banks, should get refund of a portion of the interest charged on the financed earnest money.”

Holding back the money for longer period of up to 180 days from the date of closure of the scheme apparently suited both GMADA and the banks. While GMADA was earning about Rs 1.50 crore daily as interest on the deposit collected in form of the earnest money, the banks had already charged the interest for a period of six months.

Of the total around Rs 9,400 crore collected from 3.2 lakh applicants, the authority will refund around Rs 8,500 crore to the unsuccessful applicants and banks that financed the applications.

“GMADA has no business to hold back the money. It should start the process of refund parallel to the process of scrutinising the documents of the successful applicants,” said Bhandhari.

The unsuccessful applicants feel that to protect the rights of over three lakh applicants, the authority should immediately start refunding the money so that applicants were somehow compensated for the six months interest charged by the banks so that there were no litigations over the issue.



The not-so-pleasant side of Divali
Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Divali, undoubtedly, remains the most awaited festival, each year, in this part of the country. Not just children, every one in the family wants to unwind in the rigmarole of life.

This year the festival was no exception in the City Beautiful. A break from classes had kids dancing, cajoling their elders for more gifts, calling their friends and burning crackers. Teenagers had special outings as evident from rush in the fat food shops, in particular. The elders cleaned up their houses and business houses before joining in bursting crackers. The roads remained jammed and the rush continued till the last day. The celebrations continued late into the night and there was no major fire, this year, after a long gap.

Not commenting on the piety of the occasion, there are certain aspects related to the festival of lights which we could deliberate for redefining our celebrations. There are some accidents we could avoid for a safer Divali, in future.

Increased burn cases

Doctors on emergency duty on the Divali at Government Hospital said that 10 year old Harneet(name changed) has, perhaps, lost his vision permanently, in the left eye. The chances of recovery are very bleak. Majority among more than 250 burn injuries reported from the tri-city were not so unlucky, however, the scars will remain permanently for their lifetime.

The Advanced Eye Centre of PGI, this year, got 21 cases. Four cases of eye injury were reported in Mohali and nine in Panchkula. Fundamentally speaking, the high number of accidents should be a big shock to force residents to abhor burning crackers, next Divali.

In 2009, the city alone had recorded more than 100 cases of burns and other injuries. Of the total, at least 35 patients reported to the Eye department of the PGIMER. Among those injured, as many as 12 recorded a complete injury which meant a permanent disability. In 2008, there were more than 123 cases and more than 150, a year before, reported in city hospitals alone.

Increased money stakes

Cracker sellers, throughout the season were saying that they had witnessed a very poor business. They said there were no takers for crackers even at a concession of 50 per cent. If this was true, the cracker fires should have stopped early in the evening. The noise of the crackers, throughout the night, in the tri-city airs well beyond the permitted time of 10 p.m., till late past the midnight, belied all their claims.

If one was to take into account the price mentioned on the cracker covers, the shopkeepers were right in claiming a poor opening. In reality, the price at which the crackers are actually sold are always far below the marked prices. While, the administration showed an appreciable result in checking the spurious sweets, there was very poor check on the front of pricing of crackers.

There was action on account of proper laying-out of the cracker stalls. Certain shops in Sector 22 were not allowed to open till the time they ensured compliance with the formalities.

Very conservatively speaking, the city expenditure on crackers was well beyond Rs four crores. Not wanting to sound like a righteous soul by comparing what good the amount could have done for public welfare, one can always argue that Divali colours could have been less boisterous to save on account of money and pollution, at least.

Increased pollution

While PJS Dadhwal, Additional Director of the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee, was unable to give the exact figures of air pollution, this Devali, he, however, conceded that this festival sounded more loudly and smelled more polluting.

The observation gains importance in the context that the official figures of 2009 and 2008 had revealed lesser sound level and ambient air quality in terms of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM), SPM, sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), as compared to the past.

It is also worth mentioning that, this year, the noise levels and the smog in the air did not need any official figures for showing the higher pollution levels. The figures are still to be announced formally. These readings are recorded at seven different places in the city including Sectors 9, 29, 22, Panjab University, Kaimbwala village, Manimajra and Kajheri village.

Increased spurious sweets

It has become almost a festival ritual to have the Chandigarh Administration gunning for sweet shops to ensure all qualities during the Divali season. One wonders what the department of Food Adulteration was doing throughout rest of the year. Does this mean that all other food items in the city, particularly the spices and other food items, adhered to strict quality norms?

None of even the big names in the sweet business in the city were spared. There was definite fall in the rush of residents for sweets as was revealed during interaction with a cross section of sweet sellers, all over the city. Undoubtedly, the action deserves a pat on their back for timely intervention when it was peak business season for sweet sellers to expect better quality, in future.

At the same time, the destroyed amount of sweets showed what unhygienic material the residents would have savoured. Except destroying spurious sweets there is very little action visible on ground to set strong examples for others to refrain, in future.

Besides a chain of raids in which spurious sweets above 10,000 kilogrammes were destroyed in different parts of the city, the Administration gave a 48-hour ultimatum to sweet-shop owners here to comply with the guidelines of hygiene and proper ventilation. The list of 20 guidelines pertained to repainting of walls, laying tiles on them, having cemented floors and adequate lighting.

One interesting thing in the sweets season, this year, has been no report on adulterated sweets from outside states. In the past, there were reports on spurious “khoya’, in particular, being brought in the city from other states via Rajpura.

Increased green messages

Educational institutions, in particular and certain NGOs, year after year, are engaged in their endeavour towards reducing use of crackers on Divali. The traditionalists will not hear. Under the existing circumstances, it will not be easy in convincing people to abstain from burning crackers as an expression of their happiness and celebrations. The expenditure is increasing and the range of crackers too is expanding in size and sound.

Crackers need not be stopped, however, the law makers need to regulate the entire activity. Celebrating Independence Day in United States on July 4, has a special place and time, earmarked by the concerned towns, for residents to go and celebrate by burning crackers, if they wanted. Infact, towns plan special fireworks.

Besides earmarking places to save on account of accidental fires the administration could possibly think about fixed timings, as well. Officially, the time is fixed till 10 p.m., however, it needed stricter implementation. Standards on kinds of crackers too need a ground implementation.

Can we do something to make our Divali less polluting, less noisy and more pleasant? Write your suggestions for improvement, if any, to openhouse@tribunemail.com



Four-laning of Zirakpur, Parwanoo stretch delayed
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 7
Delay in the acquisition of land and heavy landslides during monsoon has delayed the completion of four-laning of the Zirakpur-Parwanoo road on the National Highway 22. The four-laning of the Zirakpur-Panchkula stretch is almost complete, barring the overbridge at the level crossing near Dhakauli village near Sector 20, Panchkula, and the work is likely to be completed by this month-end. But a 10.5-km stretch on the Pinjore-Parwanoo road has been delayed due to landslides.

Out of the total 28,690-km stretch, 11.250 km are on new alignment for a combined bypass for the congested towns of Pinjore and Kalka in Haryana and Parwanoo in Himachal Pradesh. This would provide relief to road users going towards Solan and Shimla.

The four-lane bypass on Pinjore has about eight viaducts and four underpasses. Rain damaged about 30 to 40 per cent of the stretch near Timber Trail in Parwanoo. Four-laning in Ghatiwala and Kanguwala villages is almost complete while work in Bitna and Mallah villages is in full swing.

Heavy vehicles coming from the industrial towns of Baddi and Parwanoo lead to frequent traffic jams on the Kalka-Pinjore route, inconveniencing thousands of commuters. It takes about an hour for vehicles to cross the 7-km stretch from Pinjore to Kalka.

NHAI project director Anil Dhahia was not available for comments as he was out of station.

An official of the construction company involved in the project said on the condition of anonymity that even though work had been delayed due to non-clearance of land by the forest department, they were expecting to complete it by June. He said they would have to work again on the damaged stretch near Timber Trail. He said some portion of the land on the stretch had not been handed over to them yet.



Vector-borne diseases
No letup in patient count despite chill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
Even with the rainy season gone and winter fast approaching, the number of patients suffering from vector-borne diseases, pulmonary and skin allergy problems has far from dwindled in the tricity hospitals.

While at least 10 persons with symptoms of dengue reported at the medicine department of a private hospital in Mohali, no change has been seen in the number of patients admitted with the disease to the Government Medical college and Hospital, Chandigarh.

At least 80 per cent patients visiting the hospital have been found to be confirmed cases of dengue, while remaining have been diagnosed with malaria, typhoid or viral, said Dr Vikas Bhutani, senior consultant, internal medicine.

In addition, patients with pulmonary ailments have been pouring in at hospitals. And, this number is set to further increase with the decline in temperature, says experts.

At the GMCH, though there has been a sharp decline in patients with other diseases, the flow of dengue patients is as usual.

There has been no letup in the number of such patients, says Dr Ram Singh, deputy medical superintendent. However, the silver-lining is that a majority of them are not from the tricity, he adds.

At the PGI, Chandigarh, the number of patients suffering from respiratory problems has suddenly increased, adds Dr Sanjay Jain.

Though things are not so serious, people must follow some tips to keep such diseases at bay, he says.

While everybody should avoid going to parks especially during late evening and early morning hours, it is advised that all body parts are covered to avoid mosquito bite, he says.

Moreover, small children and elderly should protect themselves, especially the chest area, during early morning, he adds.

Also, dry skin is a common skin problem and often worsens during the seasonal change when humidity changes from high to low, says Dr Vikas Sharma of National Skin Hospital, Panchkula. It can occur at all ages.

By itself, dry skin isn’t a medical worry, but serious cases can result in cracks and fissures that invite infection and inflammation.

Slow the aging process down with a few easy skin care tips to keep seasonal winds at bay, adds Dr Sharma, while giving tips.

The bath or shower should be in luke-warm rather than hot water.

Soap should be used minimally and only when and where needed. Milder, less drying soaps or cleansing lotions should be preferred.

After bathing or showering, quickly and gently pat the skin partially dry with a towel (do not rub!). Within three minutes of getting out of the water, apply a moisturiser to seal the water in the skin before it can evaporate.

Try applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen to the face and hands (if they’re exposed) about 30 minutes before going outside.



Patient inflow in dispensaries goes up
Reasons: Cost of treatment, less rush
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
If the number of patient inflow in the 43 government dispensaries in the city is any indication, there has been a definite shift of patient rush from big hospitals, particularly the two government hospitals. A random survey of various dispensaries by the Tribune revealed that the low cost of treatment compared to private hospitals coupled with lesser rush compared to the main government hospitals have emerged as the biggest factor in what appears to be a slow but sure shift.

But most pronounced is the shortage of over two dozen doctors (see box). For, the UT Administration only has 125 doctors posted across one government hospital (in Sector 16), 43 dispensaries, seven sub-centres, two community health centres and one polyclinic.

Shortage of doctors

The UT health department is facing a shortage of 25 doctors following suppression of fresh recruitment to fill in vacancies arising out of retirement or repatriation. This has compelled the authorities to assign doctors on alternate days to many dispensaries, including Sectors 8 and 18, Maloya and Dhanas

The low cost, however, is definitely attractive. For example, scaling costs only Rs 100 in a government dispensary compared to Rs 500 in a private clinic.

Similarly, tooth extraction costs just Rs 25 compared to a minimum Rs 100 in private clinics; and Rs 40 for an X-ray compared to a minimum Rs 100 in a private clinic (see box).

Government dispensaries are recording an average of 40 patients on a normal working day. But in higher density residential areas like Sector 38, around which the number of dispensaries are few, government dispensaries have been recording over 250 patients on a single day.

The additional benefit is that a majority of the medicines in government dispensaries are distributed free of cost.

“If I went to a private medical practitioner near my house in Sector 15, both consultation and medicines would not cost me less than Rs 200. But in government dispensaries I do not pay a single rupee for minor ailments such as fever. Even a registration card costs a mere Rs 2. All medicines and injections are free,” said Mukeem, who works as a painter.

“A majority of medical facilities now available in government dispensaries at doorstep have dispelled my worries about going to hospitals and jostling in long queues,” said KL Goyal, a septuagenarian resident of Sector 38.

The economically weaker sections have been relying on these dispensaries completely. Despite the fact that dispensaries in the city provide service to a large number of population, there is a shortage of doctors.

The UT health department spokesman, Dr MP Singh, said there was a shortage of about 25 doctors.



Nation’s Top Hospitals
PGI improves ranking, now 3rd on list
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
The Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) faculty as well as other employees have a reason to be proud of themselves. The medical institution has been ranked third among the top 10 hospitals in the country for patient care, competency of doctors and innovation of treatment, among other services.

The PGI was able to improve its ranking this year. It was ranked fourth during the same survey last year. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, and Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, have been ranked first and second, respectively. The Week, an English magazine, and Hansa Research, a global market research agency conducting market research in 77 countries, conducted the survey.

Further, the PGI has been ranked second in specialities of paediatrics, orthopaedics and nephrology.

The survey was conducted on top multi-speciality hospitals across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Pune, Ahmedabad, Coimbatore and Kochi. Besides patients, 200 general practitioners and 320 specialists were included in the survey based on six parameters — the competency of doctors, infrastructure and facilities, innovation in treatment, availability of multiple specialisation, patient care and hospital environment.



GMADA drops move to widen business street
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 7
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has withdrawn the ambitious plan to widen Mohali’s business street, one of the busiest arterial road passing through Phases IV, V, III-B1, III-B2 and VII, and has instead decided to widen other roads running parallel to the business street.

This would take off the load of traffic from the business street. Narrow, interlinking roads run horizontal to the business street. As part of the project of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) to beautify and widen city roads, the consultant hired by the board had advocated widening of the business street.

But GMADA found that due to underground services, the road could not be widened. Instead, benches, billboards and mail boxes would be provided on both sides of the road and landscaping would be on the entire stretch.

Sources said as per the final plan submitted by the consultant, GMADA has decided to begin the work in phases. At the same time, GMADA is going ahead with the widening of another major road from the Phase 8 bus stand to Balongi. Work is being executed in two parts. The road takes the load of heavy vehicular traffic moving in and out of the city.

The authority is also contemplating to widen the road from the rotary of Sectors 61 and 62 to the rotary of Sectors 54 and 55. Under the widening proposal, NIPER road, roads separating Phases IX and X, X and XI, III and VII, besides YPS roads, are to be covered. Apart from widening, a designated public transport corridor would be provided and traffic control points would be set up. Public domains would also be upgraded.



UT fails to keep promises

When it comes to breaking promises, nobody matches the UT Administration. Even after two years of promising to shift routes of all buses from the ISBT-17 to ISBT-43, commuters are forced to go to Sector 17 to catch long-distance buses. What adds to the problem is the traffic chaos near Parade Ground, which buses and commuters have to pass in order to reach the ISBT. Invariably, there is an exhibition going on at Parade Ground and vehicles are seen parked haphazardly. It gets worse on a weekend. Vehicles parked on the roadside next to the CII fair on Sunday said it all. It’s time the administration bails out residents.

Gambling continues

Innovative gambling continues in the city even after Divali season, particularly in labour colonies. A bed is spread daily in Janta Colony, Sector 25, where enthusiasts continue to try their luck by picking slips and expecting a 15-time return. The amounts involved are not very high, ranging between Rs 10 and Rs 50. A balloon seller, who began his session with only Rs 5 in his pocket, went away with more than Rs 80,000. Virtually fleeing after getting the cash, the balloon seller remarked: “The operator was shocked. I kept increasing the amount of my bet and won. I don’t want to take any chances with the money. His mood might change!”

Mobile mania

With cellphones becoming a necessity, have the gadgets lost their status? Maybe not. With new models making their way into the market, mobile phones continue to make a fashion statement. The time gap of changing a handset is also shrinking. Shop owners selling cellphones say that earlier people used to change sets after about three years, but now the period has been reduced to a month. “These days, people are changing sets within two months. Fifty per cent of the sale of new cellphones comes from those individuals who already possess one,” a dealer in Sector 22 said. Asked the reason behind such a phenomenon, he said: “People want to show off.” Another dealer claimed that 30 per cent of people purchasing new sets were those who already possessed one or two sets. “Keeping two-three cellphones at one time is an in-thing with youngsters,” he remarked.

Wake up, councillors

Even after the quashing of the notification of the Panchkula Municipal Corporation by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, councillors are yet to wake up. Residents are of the view that the councillors should have come on a common platform to decide the future course of action, besides taking up leftover projects in view of the formation of the corporation in March this year.

Media bashing

Mediapersons often come across people who criticise them for one reason or another, but there are many others who use them for their own advantage and snub them later. An attendant of a patient contacted some reporters last week to complain about ill-treatment at the hands of officials at the poor patients’ fund cell of the hospital. A cheque worth over Rs 1 lakh issued by the ESI to the PGI two months for the treatment of her son had been misplaced, she claimed. Reporters started making enquiries and the cheque was located within hours. Immediately after this, the reporters received a call from the woman, saying she did not want to report it in newspapers. It will remain a mystery whether it was PGI officials who made her say that.

Truly happy Divali

With Panjab University becoming a centrally funded institution, this Divali may have been truly illuminating for most teachers as arrears worth lakhs were in their kitty. It was no less joyous for Class C employees. An elderly gardener, who has been maintaining the lawns on the campus for over 25 years, greeted this reporter with “happy happy happy Divali”. He said with Rs 90,000 in his account, it was a triple happy Divali for him.

— Contributed by Smriti Sharma Vasudeva, Sanjeev Singh Bariana, Anil Jerath, Sanjay Bhumbroo, Arun Sharma and Neha Miglani



Haryana government ignores Morni
Fails to provide 5 mini buses sanctioned for this year
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 7
The Morni block of this district continues to be ignored by the Haryana government as it had failed to provide five mini buses sanctioned this year for the people of the area.

The Shivalik Development Board (SDB) had sanctioned Rs 75 lakh to the directorate of the Haryana State Transport Corporation, Chandigarh, for purchasing five mini buses to be operated in the Morni area. The funds were released by the SDB on May 28, but the corporation had failed to purchase the buses. This was disclosed by the SDB in response to the RTI application filed by Shivalik Vikas Manch, patron advocate Vijay Bansal.

Similarly, the SDB had sanctioned a sum of Rs 43.75 lakh to the assistant soil conservation officer (DSCO), Raipur Rani, on May 28, for various works, including guide bundh (Rs 2 lakh), retaining wall (Rs 2.20 lakh,) drop street (2 lakh), field path (1.20 lakh), and side wall of spillway and apron (0.85 lakh) in Masumpur village.

Even though Rs 15 lakh have been released to the DSCO, it had failed to undertake the works as the department was yet submit technical sanction in this regard.

Lashing out at Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, advocate Bansal said the CM had belied the aspirations of the people of the Shivalik hill areas in three districts of Panchkula, Ambala and Yamunanagar. He said funds were being diverted to the Rohtak area, the home constituency of the Chief Minister.

Bansal said out of Rs 10 crore the state government had sanctioned Rs 9 crore for various developments works in the three districts. The SDB had received Rs 4.05 crore and out of this only 2.1 crore had been utilised by the SDB to improve the infrastructure.

He said a meeting of the SDB was held on August 19, 2008, but thereafter no meeting was held for the past two years. The latest meeting fixed by the board for October 19 was also postponed, he rued.



City magistrate to exercise powers of MC chief
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 7
In a significant development the Haryana government has issued directions that Panchkula City Magistrate would exercise the powers of the MC president. The City Magistrate has also been appointed as the administrator of municipal committee of Kalka.

Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Urban Local Bodies, Haryana, Raj Kumar, confirmed today that in the absence of Panchkula MC president, the City Magistrate would exercise the powers of the president.

Now, with the fresh development, councillors of Panchkula municipal council are expecting meeting of the civic body in coming 15 days.

Recently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had quashed the notification of the Haryana government wherein the Panchkula municipal council was converted into a corporation by merging the municipal committees of Kalka and Pinjore.

Post of Panchkula MC president is under litigation and the vice-president is also restrained from exercising the powers of the MC president.

Advocate Vijay Bansal, patron of the Shivalik Vikas Manch, who had filed the petition in the high court, said by appointing an administrator the development works would start rolling in Kalka and Pinjore areas.

Former MC president Ravinder Rawal said it was a welcome step. He added that the Punjab and Haryana High court had already restrained fresh elections of the president as his appeal was pending in the HC. Therefore, the state government gave powers to the City Magistrate.

However, vice-president BB Singal lamented that as per the provisions of the Haryana Municipal Act, in the absence of the president, the vice president should be allowed to perform the duties of the MC chief.

He rued that state government had restrained him from performing the duties of the president. His appeal was also pending in the high court, he added.



Two detained for chasing MLA’s car let off
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 7
The police has let off the two accused, who were detained for questioning yesterday for allegedly chasing city MLA DK Bansal’s car on various occasions, after investigations.

The two have disclosed before the police that they had chased the car of the MLA as the driver had mounted the red beacon light on top of the car after crossing the Dappar barrier.

The manager of the toll plaza, Alok Patel, told the police that he suspected something foul, as it was a routine affair of the complainant to mount the beacon light. He said this time he decided to chase the vehicle to know the actual identity of the occupants of the car.

It is worth mentioning here that on the complaint of Ajay Sharma, driver of MLA DK Bansal, the police had registered a case against these two persons, who are employees of Dappar toll plaza, and arrested them. The two have been identified as Alok Patel, manager of the toll plaza, and his driver Deepak Sharma. The two accused in the Indica car (HR-01S-3500) used to chase his official vehicle on various occasions, he further alleged.

DSP RC Rathi confirmed that the two accused were only detained for questioning and not arrested and were let off thereafter. He said investigations in the case were on and action would be taken against the accused if found guilty.

However, Bansal on the other hand lamented that the police should have arrested the accused and released them only after proper questioning.



Zirakpur sans public conveniences
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, November 7
Despite being a hub of real estate business and marriage palaces, the town does not have a single public toilet for visitors. In the absence of public toilets, they are forced to use open spaces to ease themselves. And, the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to the problem.

Shopkeepers rued that they had complained about their problem to the municipal council authorities many a time but to no avail. They urged the council to construct at least two public conveniences in the town.

“It is difficult for women visiting the market along the flyover to move about amidst defecated walls in front of shops,” says a Rohit, a local shopkeeper.

Mahavir Aggarwal, Zirakpur market association president alleged that the municipal council had failed to provide basic amenities in the market.

“We have asked the council authorities to provide facilities like drinking water, toilet and bus shelters to visitors but they are in no mood to budge,” he adds. An MC official claimed that the council would soon chalk out a plan to construct public toilets in the market.



ISKCON celebrates Govardhan puja
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
The local unit of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) celebrated Anna Kuta and Govardhan puja at a bedecked hall of Hare Krishna Dham, Sector 36-B, here today with religious fervour and enthusiasm.

According to Akinchan Priya Dasa of the local unit, a large number of devotees of all walks of life thronged the temple on the occasion.

The programme started with “Mangla Aarti” at 4.30 am followed by “gau puja”, “sankirtan” and discourse on Gobardhan Lila by Akrur Nand Dasa Prabhu.

The main attraction of the programme was cow dung hillocks, which symbolise the Mount Govardhan -- the mountain which was once lifted by Lord Krishna, made at the temple hall.

The hillocks were decorated by devotees with colourful rice, sweets, fruits of different varieties and flowers.

The devotees moved in a circle around the cow dung hillocks and offered prayers to Lord Govardhan. The delicious items offered to Lord Giri Rraj, were distributed among the devotees present as prasadam.

Govardhan mountain is worshipped on this day which is said to have saved its inhabitants from incessant rains. It symbolises the importance of nature in our lives.



Police conducts search operations
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, November 7
In view of the ongoing festival season, the police today conducted search operations in Zirakpur, Dhakoli and Baltana area, where they rounded up two youths said to be “anti-social elements”.

A special police team consisting of over 100 police personnel as well as Punjab police commandos, led by the SHO of Zirakpur, were deployed in the search operations that began at noon and lasted for five hours.

The police team conducted search operations in paying guest accommodations and slum areas. It also carried out search operations in rented accommodations.

SHO Yogi Raj said: “The operation was launched to keep a check on activities of people with a criminal background. Searches were also held to nab anti-social elements active in the town.”

Two suspects were nab and handed over to the CIA staff for investigation. He said search operations would be conducted in the coming days in other areas to send a strong message to anti-social elements. He appealed to residents to give information about any suspected activity in their area.



Childline out to make friends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
The Youth Technical Training Society (YTTS) has planned to observe “Childline Se Dosti Week” by tying over two lakh “Childline Green” ribbons to the wrist of local residents and make them “Childline Dosts”.

Other events during the week include a “Walkaton” and puppet show.

Childline phone number 1098 caters to children in need of help in over 80 cities across the country. In Chandigarh, Childline is represented by the Advance Pediatric Centre, PGI, and the YTTS.

“We are keen on using this week to spread the message of “Child Rights and Childline” among as many functionaries of the allied systems and general public as possible,” said Dr Sangeeta Jund, city Childline coordinator and head of programmes, YTTS.

On Tuesday, a seminar is planned on child rights at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 35, she added.

The activity will culminate on November 15 with kite-flying at Snehalaya in the morning.



Guide maps not of much help
Tribune News Service

A guide map installed by GMADA in Mohali. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, November 7
Guide maps installed by GMADA at various points across the city have become a headache for motorists. About Rs 20 lakh has been spent on the maps.

Not only are the maps unreadable from a distance, the size of the map showing various sectors and landmarks are smaller compared to guide maps installed by the Chandigarh Administration.

For reasons best known to GMADA, three different sizes of guide maps have been installed. While those on vertical links between Chandigarh and Mohali have larger guide maps, those on horizontal links have smaller maps. Sector layout maps are yet to be installed by GMADA.





Bhai Dooj celebrated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
Bhai Dooj was celebrated with religious fervour here today. Women visited their parents’ place early in the morning to greet their brothers.

The festival celebrates the bond and affection between sisters and brothers. Sisters apply vermilion to their brothers’ forehead and wish them long life.

“Bhai Dooj is an important festival for us. We do this for the long life of our brothers,” said Anamika, a young woman who offered special prayers for her brothers.

The festival falls on the second day after Divali. After the rituals, brothers give gifts to their sisters.

With the passage of time, new gifts have caught the fancy of buyers. The use of e-mails, e-greetings, mobile phones, chocolates and beverage hampers have become popular especially among those who stay at far-off places.



Winter flights rescheduled

Chandigarh, November 7
Expecting huge rush of entrepreneur and executive winter travellers, Kingfisher Airlines has introduced its new evening flight from the city airport. Other airline operators have also changed the timings of their flights. Kingfisher has started its new Chandigarh-Delhi flight at 7.20 pm, which earlier used to leave the city at 5.30 pm to Delhi.

“Bookings have been very strong and Delhi and Mumbai continue to be the hot destinations,” said an official of Kingfisher Airlines.

Jet Airways’ first Delhi-Chandigarh flight will arrive here at 9.25 am instead of 8.25 am. Similarly, GoAir Airlines’ Chandigarh-Mumbai flight has revised its timings.

The flight, which used to land at the city airport at 9.35 am, will arrive at 11 am and take off at 11.30 am to facilitate more passengers. — TNS



Focus on knee arthroscopic techniques

Chandigarh, November 7
Live surgical demonstrations and lectures by renowned orthopaedcians marked the “Basic Knee Arthroscopy Course-2010” organised by the Indian Arthroscopy Society, Arthroscopy Learning Centre, New Delhi and Chandigarh, here today.

Prof Raj Bahadur, Director-Principal, Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, inaugurated the course. The day began with lectures on basic knee arthroscopic techniques by Prof Mandeep Dhillon from the PGI.

Along with a live surgical demonstration of arthroscopic repair of torn anterior cruciate ligament of knee, there was panel discussion on sports injuries.



YC distributes ID cards

Panchkula, November 7
The local unit of the Indian Youth Congress today distributed identity cards to its members under the programme “Chalo Panchayat Ki Aur” in various wards of the city.

Presiding over the function, Tarun Chugh, general secretary, Ambala Lok Sabha, and in-charge Panchkula unit, said members of the youth wing of the Congress were moving from village to village and trying to get the inputs about the problems being faced by villagers.

Speaking on the occasion, Vibhor Batra, youth president (city), said the problem of blockage in the drainage system and other problems would be solved by taking up the matter with administrative officials concerned. The work of making old age pension and senior citizens cards would also be completed by November end, he claimed. — TNS



PU alumni house gets Rs 15 lakh aid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
A delegation led by PUTA president Jaspal Kaur Kang and accompanied by Mayor Anu Chatrath today met Union Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal during the inaugural ceremony of Cycas-Palm Garden in Sector 15, Chandigarh.

The members informed that Rs 15 lakh were sanctioned today for development and maintenance of alumni house of Panjab University. Kang, president of PUTA, thanked the minister and the Mayor for their cooperation and financial assistance made available to PU.



Students to visit Egypt embassy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 7
Students from two schools of Chandigarh and Mohali would visit Egypt embassy in Delhi to interact with the new Egyptian Ambassador Khaled El Bakly on November 9. The two schools are Doon International School, Sector 69, Mohali, and Mount Carmel School, Sector 47-B, Chandigarh. The students expressed their enthusiasm on getting an opportunity to meet the Egyptian Ambassador.



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