C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Burglars, snatchers have a free run
12 shops burgled, six incidents of snatching
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
It was black Friday with the city recording 12 burglaries and six incidents of snatching. On Friday night, burglars “literally” had a free run in three sectors - 19, 24 and 27.

Burglars had a free run in Sector 24, one of the most guarded sectors, which houses judges, bureaucrats and senior PGI doctors, as they broke into seven shops and decamped with cash and valuables worth over Rs 80,000. Shockingly, the shops are located a few metres away from the Sector 24 police post. Around the same time, burglars broke into four booths in the Sector 27 market and another shop in Sector 19.

Earlier, snatchers who were again active, struck six times in sectors 16, 19, 41 and 42. SK Dhillon, an NRI, alleged that two scooter-borne youths snatched her purse containing two gold chains, diamond tops and some other articles, from near the road separating Sectors 22 and 23 last evening. Dharinder Kumar Chhabra, a resident of Sector 19, alleged that some youths snatched his mobile from near his house last evening. In Sector 39, Chitra, a resident of Sector 39, alleged that two motorcycle-borne youths snatched her purse containing Rs 150, a mobile phone and some medicines from near Bacon Hotel in Sector 42. Preeti, a resident of Sector 41, alleged that two motorcycle borne youths snatched her purse containing Rs 1,000, a driving licence, a voter card and an ESI card from Sector 41.

Shopkeepers of the Sector 24 market got a shock of their life on Saturday morning when they received calls informing them that shutters of a number of shops had been found open and that items littered all over. In most of the cases, the cash box had been taken away. Ajay, an owner of a bookstore in the market, said Rs 6,000 was stolen from his shop. Sanjeev, owner of a cycle store, said Rs 10,000 was stolen from his shop.

“It’s a matter of serious concern. In a city with a length of just 11 sq km, burglars and snatchers are keeping the policemen on their toes. The incidents of thefts and burglars are increasing with the each passing day,” said Jai Bhagwan, a shopkeeper of Sector 24.

In Sector 19, a booth owner complained that Rs 35,000 had been stolen from his shop. Again, in Sector 27, burglars broke into four booths and took away around Rs 10,000 and valuables.

Besides, an incident each of snatching and theft were reported on Saturday. Kiranpreet, a resident of Sector 21, said two motorcycle-borne youths snatched her purse containing Rs 4,000, a gold chain and gold tops near the rotary of Sectors 37 and 38. Dr Silky Jain, a resident of Sector 37, said the thieves broke the windowpanes of her car parked in the Sector 37 market and took away her purse containing RS 11,000 and other valuables.



Admn dinner leaves HC judges bitter
Say hosts were not courteous
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
A dinner hosted by the UT administration at the Adviser’s residence has left judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court with a bad taste.You may find it hard to digest, but indications are that a complete ‘discourtesy’ was offered on the platter to judges at the dinner on Sunday evening. Sore, a majority of judges decided to drive away from the venue.

Though attempts were made to have them back, judges preferred to stay away from the function. The dinner ended with less than 10 judges present, most of them unaware of the controversy.

It is believed the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had already been apprised of the happening.

According to information, duly invited by the administration for dinner, judges were greeted at the locked gate by two constables. None of the officials from the public relations or other departments were present at the gate to receive them. The action is being seen as a complete infringement of the set norms and protocol.

As if this was not enough, the cops at the gate asked the car drivers to roll down the windowpanes for enquiries. They, in fact, wanted to know the identification of the occupants of cars.

Even the credentials of judges were not enough to coax them into opening the gates. Judges were asked to get the cars parked at a distance and walk all the way to the entrance.

It was then the judges decided to take a U-turn. But before leaving, they pointed out that some vehicles carrying other judges were allowed in, while others were asked to park at a distance and walk.

The standard procedure at high-level functions entails furnishing security guards with the car registration numbers for facilitating the entry of vehicles. In case space constrains prevent the vehicles from rolling down right up to the porch, a reception is set up at the gate itself with officials of the administration there to receive the guests.

This is, perhaps, the second time in recent past that Chandigarh has rubbed its judges on the wrong side. Earlier, officials had virtually received a rap on their knuckles for their inability to prevent the flooding of residences of High Court judges.



Chemist shops at PGI fleecing patients
Outlets at hospitals in Sectors 16, 32 charging more
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Though patients at the PGI are being forced to pay high amounts at chemist shops despite getting up to 30 per cent discount on medicines, chemist shops at the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, and the Government Medical College and Hospital, (GMCH), Sector 32, are charging even more.

While the solitary chemist shop at the GMSH is offering up to 10 per cent discount, the two chemist shops at the GMCH have done away with offering discounts.

A chemist shop at the PGI’s emergency ward has been in the news for its phenomenal per diem rent of Rs 1.28 lakh, which the PGI justifies, saying it will come handy for the welfare of poor patients.

Given the large difference in cost of medicines and the maximum retail price (MRP), concern has been raised by many people about protecting the interests of patients.

A visit to the chemist shops at the GMCH has revealed that chemists avoid according any discount on medicines. However, a discount of up to 10 per cent is given to those who insist upon it.

At the GMSH, the chemist sells medicines at a 10 per cent discount while chemist shops at the PGI offer discount of up to 30 per cent on medicines and surgical items. City residents, including the chemist fraternity, feel concerned.

“PGI’s claims of using the rental income for the welfare of poor patients cannot justify the exorbitant rent being recovered from patients in the shape of exorbitant price of medicines at these shops,” says SP Sharma, a resident of Sector 48.

“This system of discount in itself is a farce. In case the management of these shops is handed over to institutions such as the Red Cross, medicines will be available at one-third the MRP,” he says.

Sharma’s opinion is endorsed by many in the chemist fraternity. Medicine wholesalers suggest that interests of patients can be protected. Expecting justice from someone shelling out Rs 50 lakh to run a shop at the PGI emergency ward is daydreaming.

Medicine wholesalers, who do not wish to be identified, say the turnover at this counter is not more than Rs 1 crore a month. After deducting rent and overhead expenses, the chemist is left with only half the turnover.

If it is presumed that the shopkeeper is earning a profit of 20 per cent, the remaining amount of Rs 30 lakh is equal to 30 per cent of turnover of Rs 1 crore, they say. It is clear that a patient is spending Rs 100 to get medicines worth Rs 30, they claim.

A perusal of cash memos issued to some of the patients confirms that the claims of wholesalers dealing in medicines and surgical items are not exaggerated.

A 5-millilitre syringe at the PGI costs Rs 4.10 after a discount of 30 per cent. This syringe costs only Rs 1.33 to the shopkeeper.

A high-pressure tube with an MRP of Rs 125 is as cheap as Rs 14.10. A three-way stop cock with an MRP of Rs 49 comes at a meagre price of Rs 5.50 to the chemist.

This practice of marking inflated MRPs on medicines is generally observed in products manufactured largely by nondescript companies, they say. Many such companies offer getting MRP of sellers’ choice printed on the product, it has been learnt.

PGI’s additional director administration Jaswinder Kaur Phoolka said she did not know if chemist shops at the hospital were bound to extend any discount. She said she could comment on the issue only after perusing papers of tenders on Monday.

The medical superintendent, Dr Vipin Kaushal, said according to conditions in tenders, chemists at the hospital were not bound to extend such discounts. They had been issued instructions for extending a discount of 10 per cent to patients, he said.



Fog blues for air passengers
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
A large number of travellers were stranded for several hours at the Chandigarh airport here today as most flights from Mumbai and Delhi were delayed or cancelled due to fog in Delhi.A Jet Airways flight was delayed by about five hours and the other by three hours. The GoAir Airlines flight was over three hours late while that of Kingfisher Airlines was half an hour late.

The Jet Airways Delhi-Chandigarh flight, which was scheduled to land at 10.15 am, arrived about five hours late. Its Mumbai-Delhi-Chandigarh flight, scheduled to land at 12.15 pm, arrived at 3.15 pm, three hours late.

This delay caused harassment to about 135 Delhi-bound passengers. There was a chaotic situation this afternoon as 300 Delhi-bound and Mumbai-bound passengers were kept waiting.

The GoAir Airlines Mumbai-Delhi-Chandigarh flight was also delayed by over three hours. Scheduled to arrive at 11.40 am, it landed at 2.45 pm. It left for Mumbai after 30 minutes. Its Mumbai-Chandigarh flight, scheduled to arrive at 6.50 pm, was cancelled.

Two Delhi-Chandigarh morning flights of Kingfisher Airlines were cancelled due to dense fog in Delhi. Its third Delhi-Chandigarh flight, which was to arrive at 3 pm, was late by half an hour.

Agitated passengers complained to the airport authorities that adequate seating arrangements were not available. “The delay was due to poor visibility in Delhi and Chandigarh this morning,” said an Airports Authority of India official.


RTI applicant approaches info panel against PTU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
For over three months, Sukhvir Singh, a Mohali resident, has been trying to get details regarding the recruitment of assistant registrars by the Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, through the Right to Information Act.Alleging that the university was trying to hide information, Sukhvir has approached the Punjab state information commission in appeal against the PTU.

Sukhvir, an advocate with the Punjab and Haryana High Court, had applied to the PTU seeking information regarding recruitment of assistant registrars by the university in March. The information sought included the details on the university recruiting 13 assistant registrar on nine posts. The applicant has also seeked information on the selection criteria.

The university asked for Rs 900 as the fee for supplying 450 pages of information. Despite the payment of the fee, the university no information was supplied.

When the applicant moved an appeal with the registrar of the university, the university provided 80 pages of information. Later the university returned Rs 700, deposited by the applicant, stating the fee had been erroneously calculated for the number of pages and extra fee was charged. “The information supplied by the university does not contain information regarding the recruitment. The pages have not been stamped by the university as authentic,” Sukhvir said.



Medical facilities in schools
CBSE to rope in nearby hospitals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
In a move to create “safe, fearless and secure environment” at schools, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has advised all its affiliated schools to tie-up with a neighbouring hospital.

A circular issued on October 18, 2010, and signed by chairman Vineet Joshi states: “There is a need to create medical care facilities and a proper system in schools. An agreement with a nearby hospital (within a radius of 2-4 km) should be signed to deal with a medical emergency.”

With aggressiveness increasing among children, casualty cases in schools have gone up, say authorities.

Other than regular problems like asthma, stomach pain, fever and minor accidents, physical fights are a major problem in city schools, as these leave students seriously injured at times.

As per the CBSE norms, though every school should have its own in-house medical facilities with full-time doctors, nurses and first-aid box, not many schools comply with the rules. Things are worse in rural schools where not many qualified doctors are available and taking students to quacks can worsen situations further.

“Students have become more aggressive and an increase in the number of physical fights is alarming. With many schools having no in-house medical facilities, this measure will ensure that even if schools don’t have in-house doctors, students can be treated well in time,” said a CBSE official from Panchkula.



Fear of losing supremacy finds expression
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, December 11
The first-ever Chandigarh Ibsen Theatre Festival concluded with the staging of a Kannad adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play “Master Builder” at the Tagore Theatre here today. Adapted in Kannad by B Suresha as “Balura Gudikara” and structured in Indian milieu, more precisely Bothetea folk form of Karnataka region, the play flourished to perfection under the immaculate direction of B.

Jayashree, acclaimed thespian and nominated Rajya Sabha member from Bangalore, justified the intent of Ibsen’s “Master Builder” through “Temple Builder” Gudikara, whose mind is pitted with internal turmoil and external pressures for not losing his position and supremacy in architecture. She borrowed the form and stylisation from the folk and martial art form called “Veeragase”. B Jayashree also created more visuals to cover the wordy character of the play, a peculiar trait of Ibsen. But the failure of the screening of sub-titles in English really disappointed the audience, as Kannad was not within their grasp. However, the acting spells, music, lighting effects were of high order. The sets were really suggestive of the architectural persona of the Master Builder. Director B Jayashree disclosed that she, along with K Ananada Raju and B Suresha, had a brain storming session to translate the original play and devise a story in order to keep each character’s tradition, morality and reputation intact.

Shashank Pusrushotam, Lokesh Archer, Avind Kuplikar, Rudranai, Seeta Kote, Deepa Aggarwal and Sarveshra Rao played the main roles. 



Fog won’t delay trains this winter
Railways to install smart ‘fog safe’ device to overcome poor visibility
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Anticipating disruption in train services due to fog this winter too, the Northern Railways have planned to install a device that will warn drivers of an approaching signal in poor visibility to prevent mishaps.

Besides, it has decided to cancel about nine pairs of mail and express trains, including the Chandigarh-Allahabad Unchahar Express, for over a month from December 23 to January 31.

According to a senior Railways official, the smart GPS-based device called “fog safe” will be installed within a month. “The device, which uses GPS technology to tell drivers when they are approaching a signal, helps them correct their speed despite poor visibility and provide smooth and safe operation, the official said, adding they have planned to install 500 such devices across the division.

The new technology will not only indicate the exact location of the signal ahead along with the position of other trains, but also the status of the signal.

One of the major drawbacks of the earlier technology was that it could not provide information on the status of the approaching signals. This led to the restriction for the driver to maintain very low speed in case of fog to avoid accidents.

“The Railways is trying to overcome this major drawback of the fog safe technology in the form of a cap signaling method. Since this is a much advanced and expensive technology than the earlier one, it is expected to provide greater assistance to drivers in their operations, rather than only measuring the distance of the signal by a fog safe device,” the official said.

Railways have been witness to several mishaps and loss of lives during winters due to poor visibility. At least 21 persons were killed and 30 injured in three back-to-back accidents in Uttar Pradesh due to dense fog this year. 



Estate office’s unique response
Seek info under RTI Act, get notice
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
The next time you file an RTI application seeking information from the UT estate office, be careful. You may end up getting a notice from the department instead of the information sought.

Strange but true! It happened with a resident of Sector 22, who filed an application under the Right to Information Act, seeking information about his neighbour’s residence, pertaining to changes he had made to it.

Instead of providing him information, the UT estate office served him a notice under Section A of the Capital of Punjab Act, as amended up to date, for breach of Rule 5 of the Capital of Punjab Building Rules, 1952.

The notice served on him stated that the house he was residing in was sold to him on terms and conditions set out in the allotment letter/conveyance deed executed in his favour. As such, by virtue of the clause of the deed, he was required to abide by the rules farmed under the Capital of Punjab Act. Prima facie, he had altered the building without prior permission.

The notice further stated that the resident had to reply to the notice within a fortnight as to why the estate office should not resume the site under Section 8 A of the aforesaid Act.

Even in the past, the estate office had denied information on many accounts. Recently, in an incident of non-compliance with the RTI Act, it did not provide a city resident the information he had sought under the Act. This was despite the fact that he had paid the fee, as calculated by the department, in a reply to his query.

Kafeel Ahmed of Sector 30 had deposited Rs 350 as the fees for getting the papers under the RTI Act, but the estate office did not provide him any information. On April 28, he sought papers regarding tenement number 1661/1 at Sector 30 from the department under the Act.

He was asked to pay the fee, which was required for providing him copies of the papers. Even after three months, he was making the rounds of the office for information, but to no avail.

Eventually, he had to shoot off a letter to the Central Public Information Officer at the estate office, but did not get a response yet.



Bhatti’s jokes tickle students
Tribune News Service

Jaspal Bhatti at the annual function of Little Angels School in Zirakpur on Saturday.
Jaspal Bhatti at the annual function of Little Angels School in Zirakpur on Saturday.Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal

Zirakpur, December 11
The Little Angels School, Zirakpur, celebrated its annual function with gaiety and enthusiasm. Renowned film and TV star Jaspal Bhatti was the chief guest. Jaspal Bhatti cracked jokes and gave a subtle message that there was a strong need of moral values and spiritual education during childhood.

The function started with Saraswati Vandana and was followed by a welcome song. The event “Tribal Impact” had the kids exhibiting serious concern for the National Animal. “Maar Mehangayi Ki” was a dance performed in a satirical way to explain the condition of the common man during inflation. Children sent out a strong message through banners saying “No to Corruption”.

School principal Latika Dham enlisted achievements and ideologies of the school. Students were given prizes.




Chandigarh: Tata group felicitated winners of the fourth edition of “Tata Building India School Essay Competition (English) 2009-10” held in Delhi. Around 2.5 lakh students participated from nine cities of north India: Delhi, NCR, Lucknow , Chandigarh, Jaipur, Shimla, Allahabad, Ludhiana and Jalandhar.

Anju Uppal, principal, Ryan International School, gave away trophies and certificates to the winners. English edition of the competition was held in 36 cities across the country where around a million students from 1,500 schools participated. Theme for the edition was “Future India”. — TNS



Wildlife census

Chandigarh: The two-day wildlife census 2010 exercise concluded on Saturday. The census was carried out by the department of forest and wildlife, UT administration, under the supervision of experts from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. In all, eight groups were formed to cover eight different beats of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary.

Each group consisted of one forest guard (beat in charge), two representatives from Members of Avian Habitat and Wetland Society, research scholars/students of the zoology department of Panjab University, members of Yuvsatta, an NGO, and People For Animal Group and students of St Kabir School. — TNS 



Contractual employees to meet Patil

Chandigarh: The Contractual Employees’ Unions of the PGI, Government Medical College and Hospital, Government Multi-Specialty Hospital and Punjab Engineering College have decided to meet the UT Administrator on December 13 to air their grievances. The employees held a meeting on Saturday.

They said mess workers at Punjab Engineering College would intensify protest, if their demands would not be met. — TNS



CBSE to introduce vocational courses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in collaboration with industrial houses is all set to start an array of vocational courses certified by the Ministry of Human Resource and Development.

The courses will be conducted at various levels from Class IX to Class XII and a committee has already been constituted to work out the modalities, including the curriculum, within the next three months.

Managing Director, Ashok Leyland Limited R Seshasayee, will chair the committee, which will include SS Mantha, chairman of the All-India Council of Technical Education, Ashok Thakur and NK Singh, both additional secretaries in the ministry, and Subhash Khuntia, joint secretary.

“Over 39 million students pass out of Class XII every year, but only one million get an opportunity to get vocational education. Students would be given a choice to undertake regular courses as well as vocational courses, the classes for which will be held after school hours so that the private sector could utilise the existing curriculum without any investment. The private sector will also help create a cadre of teachers,” Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal had said. The first course to start would be in automobile sector after which the target would be to overcome human resource shortage in information technology and telecommunication and construction.



From Schools
Annual drill

A girl takes part in a game during the kids carnival at CL Aggarwal DAV School, Sector 7, Chandigarh, on Saturday.
A girl takes part in a game during the kids carnival at CL Aggarwal DAV School, Sector 7, Chandigarh, on Saturday. A Tribune photograph

CHANDIGARH: Junior wing of St Joseph’s Senior Secondary School held their annual drill display “Synergy 2010”. Around 1,400 students took part in the event.

The function was presided over by SM Sharma, IPS, Additional Director General Police, Information Technology and Telecom (Punjab).

The function commenced with a welcome song and hoisting of the school flag. A march past was held. Tiny tots danced to the tune of “Coco Jumbo”. Pre-KG kids set the grounds ablaze with their “Rainbow Drill”.

Painting contest

Chandigarh: The Tribune Painting Competition has received an overwhelming response. The contest will be held at Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10, tomorrow from 10 am to 12.30 pm. Children in the age group of 10 to 13 years from Panchkula, Mohali and Chandigarh are participating in the competition. 


Shivalik Public School held its annual prize distribution function. Dr PS Jassi, director-general, International NGO Association, and regional health consultant, IGNOU, New Delhi, was the guest of honour. He lit the lamp of knowledge. Students presented a colourful programme. Principal Gurkiran Nalwa read out the annual report. Tiny tots, dressed in colourful attires, weaved magic through their different song and dance sequences. — TNS 



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