C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


CBSE upholds UT probe into Ruchika’s expulsion
Finds Sacred Heart School principal guilty; warns of disaffiliation
Sumedha Sharma/TNS

Chandigarh, December 2
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has reprimanded the management of Sacred Heart School, Sector 26 for not initiating any inquiry on its part in the case of the arbitrary expulsion of Ruchika Girhotra from the school.

In a letter issued to the school on November 30, the board has upheld the report of the UT administration’s probe into the matter declaring the then principal, Sister Sebastina (who is also the current principal), and other staff members concerned guilty of expelling Ruchika arbitrarily soon after her molestation by then Haryana DGP SPS Rathore. It has directed the school management to not only initiate immediate disciplinary action against those guilty but also conduct a further inquiry into the matter.

“The school might not have yet received the letter but will get it in a day or two. It was shocking to find that while the UT administration sought to intervene and conduct an inquiry, the school management never thought of it for twenty years despite Ruchika Girhotra’s supporters crying foul. During our inquiry we took due cognizance of the administration’s report and conducted our own investigation and found that though the school had cited nonpayment of fees as the key reason it was just a flimsy excuse,” said a senior CBSE official in New Delhi.

The board has also maintained that in case of noncompliance the school will have to face action specified in CBSE affiliation bylaws, which in extreme cases can result in disaffiliation.

Sr Sebastina is innocent: Catholic Church

“We haven’t received any letter from the CBSE so far. We stand by our principal and will prove our innocence to the board. The school has never succumbed - and never will - to pressure from any one to harass a student. For us students’ welfare is supreme and we respect Sister Sebastina’s efforts in this direction and will not take any action against her as she’s innocent”

‘School must dismiss her at once’

“The school should immediately dismiss the principal failing which it should be disaffiliated. It called the UT administration’s inquiry biased but now even the CBSE has found it guilty. We’ve waited for this day for twenty years but if the guilty are still not punished no girl would ever feel secure in such schools”

— Anand Prakash, father of Ruchika’s friend Aradhna



Close shave for groom as ‘snow’ spray bursts into flames
Arun Sharma/TNS

Safety Measures

Snow sprays, like other pressurised spray cans, are made of inflammable material, says professor RK Sharma, HoD, plastic surgery, PGI. It should be ensured that there is no source of fire around the place of its use. In case of fire, one should not panic. The victim should lie down on the ground and bystanders must cover the victim with heavy cotton clothing to douse the flames

Chandigarh, December 2
A bridegroom and his friends having fun with a “snow” spray had a miraculous escape when the spray caught fire at Zirakpur near here last night. Fortunately, the fire was doused immediately by people present on the spot. However, the groom and the two girls had sustained superficial injuries.

“Snow” spray is used for making artificial snow during parties. The bridegroom and his relatives were being received at the venue of the marriage party by family members of the bride around 11 last night. Two cousins of the bride were ready to welcome the groom keeping a “diya” in a plate with flowers.

As soon as the groom entered the venue, one of his friends sprayed the foam on the crowd. The foam came in contact with the “diya” in the hands of one of the girls and it immediately caught fire, engulfing the groom and two of the girls present on the spot. Others present on the occasion immediately doused the flames.



UT to seek central funds for metro project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Unable to commence work on the much-hyped metro rapid transit system in the city due to paucity of funds, the UT administration will now request the central urban development ministry for immediate financial assistance to get the project off the ground.

At a meeting held today it was decided to write to the ministry seeking release of the requisite funds. The project, which was earlier being handled by UT finance secretary Sanjay Kumar, is now the responsibility of home secretary Ram Niwas who is currently holding charge of finance secretary as a temporary arrangement.

The metro project, which is being looked at as a long-term solution to the tricity’s commuting problems, is facing major financing constraints. Though the union territory has a revenue surplus, generating resources for the ambitious ` 15,000 crore transit system is 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.

Recently, the stakeholders shortlisted the Delhi Metro Rail Corp Ltd 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.



‘Separatist’ meets
Notices to UT adviser, IGP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Civil judge (senior division) Anshul Berry today issued notices to the adviser to the UT administrator, inspector general of police and the deputy commissioner for January 7 on a petition filed in connection with granting permission to certain separatist organizations to hold seminars and conferences in the city.

A human rights body, the Global Human Right Council, had filed a suit for permanent injunction restraining administration functionaries to give permission to people who, according to the body, did “not believe” in the Indian constitition for holding conferences in the city. The petition appears to have been filed in the backdrop of the violence triggered due to the alleged “anti-Indian” remarks of Kasmiri separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq at Kisan Bhavan recently.

“India is a democratic country and the Indian constitution ensures the right to freedom of expression.

However, this (right) can’t be treated as liberty to hit at the integrity of our country and no one should break the laws of the land,” the plea had said.

The petition alleged that during the past few months the top administration functionaries had not been “bothering about the recent activities (of separatists), particularly during rallies and conferences. The commotion resulted due to permission granted to such people as Mirwain, Bilal Lone and Narinder Singh Khalsa (to address the conferences)”.

The immediate provocation for the filing of the suit, the Global Human Right Council said, had arisen due to the November 25 incident in which it claimed separatist leaders made “unconstitutional comments” about Jammu & Kashmir.



Engineer held taking bribe

Chandigarh, December 2
The local anti-corruption branch of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today caught Sandeep Madaan, an engineer in the Chandigarh Pollution Control Department, for accepting a bribe of Rs 25,000.

The CBI has registered a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act. The proceedings were initiated against Madaan on a complaint filed by Dinesh Gulati, owner of an acrylics factory in Hallo Majra.

On the basis of the complaint and subsequent verification, a case was registered against Madaan. As part of an action plan, a trap was laid today wherein Madaan was caught red handed while demanding and accepting the bribe of Rs 25,000, allegedly as part of the first instalment. Searches were being conducted at his office and residential premises. — TNS



PVC awardee Khetarpal’s statue to be installed today
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 2
Param Vir Chakra (posthumous) awardee Arun Khetarpal’s life-size statue would be unveiled by his mother at the Western Command in Chandimandir on December 3.

Stating this to The Tribune here today, Colonel BN Bhatia (retd) said Lt-Gen SR Ghosh, Commander, Western Command, was instrumental in installing the statue of the valiant soldier, who sacrificed his life fighting the enemy in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Arun’s brother, who is commandant of 17 Poona House, and other serving and retired officers of “Born to Battle” will assemble at Chandimandir for the installation ceremony.

Commissioned in June 1971, Arun was among the many greenhorns who were not familiar with specific units and equipment before they found themselves straight in battle positions.

After Arun’s officers’ course at Ahmednagar had been terminated, he walked up to his commandant of Poona House Colonel Hanut Singh, who saw eagerness in young Arun’s eyes and gave him the nod to jump into the battle.

In the battlefield at Basantar, Arun, with his two tanks, rushed forward intuitively, overcoming concentrated anti-tank fire and virtually charged over them, spitting fire with his main and secondary armament and crushing them under his tank tracks. Arun, who was alone after his commander of his second tank was killed, he linked up with B Squadron, forcing the enemy tanks to withdraw. In his characteristic zest, he tracked the retreating enemy tanks effectively.

However, regrouping quickly, a second Pakistani squadron now resumed the attack in the sector held by Arun and two other officers. A fierce tank battle took place between the massive Centurions of Poona Horse and the T-59 squadron of the Pakistanis. Of the 10 enemy tanks, Arun single-handedly destroyed four. Even though Arun’s commander ordered him to abandon the burning tank, he replied in a determined voice, “No sir, my gun is still working, I will not abandon the tank. I will get these guys.”

The last tank he shot was barely 100 m from his position. Arun’s tank received another shot and he was killed on the spot.

Arun’s daredevilry in the face of a determined enemy restored the Indian tactical situation and he won for himself a Param Vir Chakra, more fame for his famed regiment and a special tag for the 38th course of the National Defence Academy (now christened “Born to Battle” for being commissioned directly into battle) to which he belonged.


Landowners to get multiple residential plots
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 2
While the landowners, who opted for the land-pooling scheme in Aerocity, cry foul over the size of commercial site (121 sq yard, including parking) being offered to them, the aggrieved persons have a reason to cheer as the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has decided to offer multiple residential plots instead of one plot of about 1,000 sq yard.

Under the land-pooling scheme, the landowners, whose land was acquired for the project, were entitled to a residential plot and a commercial site.

Sources in GMADA disclosed that the beneficiaries have been broadly divided into three different categories. For those having one acre or above, the authority would be offering multiple plots (totalling 975 sq yard or 950 sq yard, depending upon the total land offered). For those having land of half acre, the multiple plots (totalling 500 sq yard or 475 sq yard) would be offered. Those having one-thirds of an acre, multiple plots (totalling 325 sq yard or 300 sq yard) would be offered.

In case of those opting for the land-pooling scheme, who do not fit in the above mentioned criteria, land compensation would be offered. The beneficiaries, numbering around 100, would be given two options to get the benefit. The total land required to accommodate all applicants was around 140 acres.

The decisions were taken in a recent meeting of the authority chaired by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The state government has already decided to accommodate all landowners who opted for the land-pooling scheme in Aerocity, irrespective of the cut off date to apply for the scheme.

Earlier, GMADA had rejected the claim of about 56 applicants who had applied after the cut off date. In today’s meeting of GMADA, it was decided that to popularise the scheme all applicants should be offered the benefit of having commercial and residential plots.

The beneficiaries, numbering around 100, would be given the options. The total land required to accommodate all applicants was around 140 acres.



Mohali to ease out PGI load
Patients to get post-operative care at Mohali Civil Hospital
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 2
In order to reduce the flow of patients to the PGI, Chandigarh, from neighbouring districts of Punjab, the State Health Department is working out an arrangement wherein post-operative care of patients could be done at the 120-bed Mohali Civil Hospital.

Under the project, the patients from Mohali, who are operated upon at the PGI, would be shifted to the Mohali Civil Hospital for post-operative care. By doing so, there would be less burden on the PGI, said Prof Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Punjab Health Minister, after inaugurating the new block of the hospital here today.

The minister said talks were on with the PGI authorities to work out the proposal.

Since the Mohali hospital was equipped to provide only secondary care, patients were referred to the PGI for getting specialised medical facilities. All facilities, as per norms laid down for secondary-level hospitals, were being provided at the local hospital and patients were referred only in cases of emergency, but additional rush of patients at the PGI created problems for the authorities concerned there.

She said she wanted to provide PGI-like facilities at the Mohali hospital, too, but the development was being done in stages. Major improvements had been brought about as far as facilities were concerned, but some more time was needed to give the facility of advanced medical care.

After taking a round of the new building, constructed at a cost of about Rs 3.25 crore, the minister said the bed capacity of the hospital had been increased from 70 to 120. The new wing had a dialysis unit, a machine used for separation of blood platelets, blood bank, drug de-addiction centre and a paediatrics ward.

On being asked why a private super-speciality hospital was allowed to come up on the premises of the government hospital, she said the hospital would be giving 5 per cent of the income to the Civil Hospital which would be spent for the welfare of needy patients.

Incidentally, on the second floor of the new building inaugurated by the minister, the staff of the Civil Surgeon has occupied a 32-bed ward. On being asked, the minister said the office of the Civil Surgeon was important for providing health facilities.



Queries on IT Park land
Admn delays reply to MHA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
Baffled by queries over the acquisition of land for IT Park and its further utilisation, the UT Administration has delayed sending the reply to Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

The queries, which were put up by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs M Gopal Reddy, were to be sent by November 30, but the administration has crossed the deadline already.

Sources claim that a meeting was held today between the top brass of the UT Administration to decide on the reply pertaining to specific queries on land acquisition of Phase III of the IT Park. Sources say, that a meeting has been scheduled tomorrow again and it was likely that the reply would be sent by tomorrow definitely.

It was on November 24 that the UT Administration received a letter from the MHA, putting queries based on the report submitted by former IAS officer Arun Ramanthan earlier. The MHA Joint Secretary M Gopal Reddy sent the letter to the administration.

The letter specifically asked questions related to the acquisition of land for Phase I and Phase II for the Rajiv Gandhi Information Technology Park. The letter further asked the administration to submit details on the utilistaion of land of Phase I and II of the IT Park.

In fact, the Ministry of Home Affairs had even sought the minutest details on the UT Administration’s move to acquire land for Phase III of the IT Park with reference to the report submitted by a former IAS officer Arun Ramanathan, who held the inquiry earlier in the matter.



e-sampark Tenders
UT mulls handing over centres to SPIC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
After extending contract of the firm running e-sampark centres in the city for over a year, the UT administration has decided to recall tenders. Till the time tenders are called afresh, the UT administration is mulling handing over the e-sampark centres to the Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC) for the time being.

Sources also claimed that the UT administration was also looking at the possibility of handing over the responsibility of running these e-sampark centres permanently. “In that case, even SPIC will have to apply through a sealed tender as per the process,” said a senior UT administration official.

Officials claimed that after calling the tenders initially, only two firms qualified, out of which only one firm further qualified as per the technical parameters.

Sources claimed that as no firm was applying for the tenders for running the e-sampark centres across the city, the UT administration had no option but to keep extending the contract of the same firm.



Implementing Red Ribbon Express Project
UT among best five states
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The State AIDS Control Society of the Union Territory of Chandigarh has been awarded as one of the five best states in the country for successfully implementing the Red Ribbon Express Project.

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad gave away awards at a function held yesterday at the Safdarjung Railway Station, New Delhi.

The State AIDS Control Society of the Union Territory of Chandigarh is one of the awardees.

The Red Ribbon Express had halted for four days in Chandigarh from October 13 to October 16 and had been visited by 1,4195 persons above 15 years.

About 1,489 community volunteers had been trained on the train and 1,516 persons had availed free counselling, testing and treatment facilities.



UT list of holidays
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
The Chandigarh Administration today released the list of public holidays to be observed in all government offices under the Chandigarh Administration during 2011.

The list includes birthday of Guru Gobind Singh (January 5), Repubic Day (January 26), Guru Ravidas birthday (February 18), Maha Shivratri (March 2), Ram Navmi (April 12), Baisakhi/Dr BR Ambedkar Jayanti (April 14), Good Friday (April 22), Independence Day (August 15), Janmastmi (August 22), Id-ul-fitr (August 31), Mahatma Gandhi's birthday (October 2), Dasehra (October 6), Maharishi Balmiki birthday (October 11), Divali (October 26), Id-ul-Zuha (November 7), Guru Nanak birthday (November 10) and Muharram (December 6).

Besides, each employee will also be permitted to avail himself of any of two holidays to be chosen by him out of restricted holidays, according to a press note.



12 illegal structures razed

Chandigarh, December 2
About 12 temporary religious structures in Sector 56 were demolished by the enforcement staff of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation here today. Out of these eight illegal structures were located on the road side, while four were in parks.

Officials said four structures demolished in the park were reconstructed by the residents, which were demolished last month also.

The demolition drive was carried out with the support of the police. The enforcement staff was equipped with two JCB machines and more than 24 employees.

As per the detailed report of the estate office and MC there are 217 illegal religious structures in the city.

Out of which 16 were demolished under a special drive by the MC. — TNS



Recruitment drive at MCM DAV
Dept seeks interview scorecards of candidates
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Foul play suspected

UT seemed to have been suspecting somein MCM interview, as UT representative, Registrar, Colleges, took a separate subject expert with him to keep a check on the “acts” of the selection panel. The move, according to many, was the outcome of a recent similar complaint against recruitments at Dev Samaj College where a close kin of an affluent PU Senator was allegedly favoured over other deserving candidates for the post of English lecturer. In this case also, the higher education department initiated an inquiry and demanded scorecards, where to its shock, the difference between the chosen candidate and others is of one or two marks

Chandigarh, December 2
Reacting to complaints of alleged selection of non-deserving “influential” candidates for regular posts of psychology lecturer in MCM DAV College for Women, Sector 36, the UT higher education department has sought interview scorecards of all candidates who appeared for it.

The recruitment drive ran into troubled waters when applicants raised objections on the selection panel, having none other than Prof Vipin Sobti, wife of PU Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti.

The complaint alleged that constitution of the selection panel was faulty, as along with Prof Sobti, the panel comprised of Prof Meena Sehgal, her PhD guide, and a former colleague, Prof Geeta Bhagat, now serving at MCM college. The selection committee allegedly overlooked a directive of the UGC of making selections on the basis of academic performance indicators (API) and rejected all deserving candidates to chose three candidates, out of which two, Akansha Tripathi and Shweta Sharma, were pursuing PhD under the guidance of Prof Meena Sehgal, while the third candidate, Nitasha Khera, had no teaching experience and had been chosen over another candidate having almost eight-year experience.

The complaint also alleged Shweta Sharma to be the lowest scorer in the recent recruitment drive held at government colleges, though she maintained that she is first in the waiting list for contractual lecturer and was offered a job as a counsellor.

In addition to this, UT has also decided to make drastic changes in the current selection-marking scheme to make the process more transparent.

“As per the current selection scheme of the colleges, a candidate’s academic performance counts for 50 per cent of his score, while other 50 per cent is based on the interview performance. The academic performance is based on specified cut offs like all candidates above 60 per cent will get 10 marks, irrespective of the fact that some score 61 per cent and others may be well above 85 per cent. Due to this flaw, all candidates end up scoring full 50 marks in the academic and interview automatically becomes important and decisive,” said Director Higher Education Ajoy Sharma.

He also raised objections on lack of transparency in interviews, as despite having specified regulations, there is no ability-wise break up of marks awarded. According to him, in government colleges’ system, scorecard of each candidate contains complete break up of interview score on parameters like presentation, knowledge and communication. These scores are made public and put on websites, but in case of aided colleges, there is no such justified scorecard or mechanism of making scores public. The new recruitment policy will not only be aimed to do away with all of these anomalies but also change the character of the selection panel.

“Though these panels have eight to 10 members, it’s the subject experts deputed by Panjab University who have the maximum say. We will come out with a plan that every member of the committee, including UT’s representative, has some share of marks to give just to rule out any possibility of favouritism or biasness,” added Sharma.



920 students participate in exhibition at Strawberry Fields
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
It was an encouraging sight to witness the take of children on “responsible living” at an exhibition put up by 920 students of Strawberry Fields World School at Sector 26 here today. Pradeep Mehra, Adviser to the UT Administrator, inaugurated the show jointly put up by the junior and middle school.

The junior school (Classes KG-IV) organised their models, charts, presentations and numerous interpretations on the themes, which encompassed nuggets of information on different seasons of the year; animals that live and coexist in our human world; current challenges and pressures on our environment; and what it means to be an Indian in India today. The middle school (Classes V-VIII) took their understanding of an evolving world to the next level by looking at the kind of food that is presently partaken and the threat that exists within the food cycle through adulteration and shortages; the place for religion and spirituality in a world that is torn with strife and lack of empathy and faith; evolving of Chandigarh as a modern, thriving city-state and a peek into its not so distant past; and a more advanced look at how environmental degradation can be arrested through a collective coming together of people, significantly change agents in the form of young people.

The school shared rationale and methodology their students have followed in expressing their thoughts and ideas with the parents.



Cultural show marks ‘Panache 10’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 2
The four-day cultural fiesta “Panache 2010” commenced at Manav Mangal Smart School here yesterday. The function began with Ganesh Vandana. “Vastaram”, a fashion show with a difference presented by young Manavites was enjoyed by all. The ramp show was divided into three segments.

The first was the bridal round, the second portrayed the Indo-Western style, while the final round was a tribute to the craftsmen, who created varied and wonderful materials for creating fashion.

“Pukar” was an appeal to the Almighty to end intolerance, disrespect, hatred, violence and a prayer to strengthen the declining moral values.

“Is Bar Nahin”, presented in the form of a ballet, was a comment on the changed perspective of people and a pledge not to succumb to the ruthless measures of terrorists.

Apart from the cultural show, the annual prize distribution ceremony was also conducted where excellence of students in all fields was felicitated.



Children take part in a fashion show at Manav Man
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 2
“Not only children belonging to economically weaker sections but disadvantaged children are also entitled to 25 per cent reservation benefits under the RTE Act,” says Pankaj Chandgothia, a petitioner in a rejoinder filed today to the administration’s reply in the ongoing case pertaining to the Right to Education in the local courts.

He argued that although the administration claimed that they had already issued guidelines under the RTE Act, a perusal of circulars issued would reveal that they deal with only 15 per cent quota for EWS, which the Chandigarh administration has imposed by way of a condition in some allotment letters. The circulars nowhere mention the quota as 25 per cent. It was pointed out that the RTE Act is a national legislation and will over-ride all local laws. It is much wider in scope. It provides an equivalent right of admission to disadvantaged children also, apart from EWS category. Disadvantaged children have been defined in the Act as those belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes and Backward Classes. Chandgothia argued that the administration had totally misunderstood the concept of RTE Act and misinterpreting the same.

Moreover, he pointed out that all circulars have been hurriedly framed on November 10, 15 and 16 just to make out a reply to the case, as the administration was served with a notice in the case by November 8.

Meanwhile, some schools like Carmel School and St Xavier’s filed an application accusing the petitioner of purposely harassing them only. There were over 67 recognised schools in the city and Chandgothia had made only a handful of schools as defendants in the case.

The Court of Anshul Berry, CJM, will now hear the case on December 9.



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