C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


UT disappoints HC again
Says no to 24x7 ambulance
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The Chandigarh Administration has once again disappointed the Punjab and Haryana High Court by expressing its inability to permanently station an ambulance at the judicial complex. The demand for an ambulance was put forth to the administration formally through its health committee.

There have been more than a couple of instances when the administration has rubbed its shoulders the wrong way with the HC. Judges returned from a dinner hosted by the UT adviser following a fiasco by the security in handling their entry when they were asked for I-cards before their entry; delay in allocation of houses to judges; flooding of judges’ houses; and Gen S.F.Rodrigues (retd), a former UT Administrator, breaching the protocol by not standing during the swearing-in ceremony of the Chief Justice.

This time, members of the health committee had summoned the UT Administration’s Special Secretary (Health), Ajoy Sharma. During the review meeting, the members stated that thousands of litigants and petitioners visited the court premises on a daily basis, besides hundreds of employees who are working in the judicial complex. “As such, there is no facility for shifting them (in an emergency) to a hospital in case of a medical emergency. Hence, an ambulance is required to be stationed at the court complex,” sources said.

Sources claimed that the officials cited their inability in immediately stationing an ambulance at the courts owing to shortage of ambulances and heavy usage. Officials said the court would have to make do with do with an ambulance stationed on emergency duty till a new vehicle arrived.

Recently, a dinner was hosted by the UT administration at the Adviser’s residence that had left judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court sore when they were greeted with queries about their identity at the locked gates. Following this, a majority of judges drove away from the venue. In fact, none of the officials from the public relations or other departments were present at the gate to receive them.

The action was being seen as a complete infringement of the set norms and protocol. The dinner ended with less than 10 judges present, most of them unaware of the controversy.

Earlier, the administration had earned a rap on its knuckles for its inability to prevent the flooding of residences of the judges. More recently, the judges have also been facing problems on account of delayed allotment of official accommodation to the High Court judges by the UT Administration.



Leopards on prowl in Sukhna sanctuary area
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Trekking enthusiasts in the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary need to tread cautiously the forest trail, with positive reports of leopards on the prowl.

The presence of the jungle cats has been confirmed in the first-ever census conducted by the UT Forest and Wildlife Department in association with the Wildlife Institute of India (Dehradun).

The survey findings are important as the pugmark traces are not in an odd corner but uniformly spread all over the forest. Preliminary estimates put the number of leopards at four or five. An elaborate camera trap has already been set up for recording the movements of the cats.

In another encouraging finding, preliminary data put the sambar population at approximately 800. Saurabh Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests, said the count of the sambar population was indicative of a very health forest cover, which is a pointer to a concentrated sambhar population.

He said the total area of 26 sq km might appear very small for a forest division. However, the existing green cover and wildlife presence had been the major reason for it being declared a Wildlife Sanctuary on March 6, 1998.

The data compilation of the wildlife in the Sukhna sanctuary is being carried out by the Wildlife Institute, Dehradun, and the results will be out in six months.

Saurabh Kumar said the data compilation exercise involved eight groups equipped with prismatic compass, binoculars and camera trap GPS who have worked out different techniques, including Line Transect method for Ungulates and other mammals, bird count using variable radius point count method and leopard and other carnivore presence based on proofs of fights and estimate of relative abundance of animals based on pellet/dung deposits.

The Forest Department involved different agencies, besides the wildlife institute to make the exercise more broadbased. The census team comprised teams from departments of botany and zoology of Panjab University, the People for Animals and the Avian Wetland Habitation Society(AWHS). Children from the local St Kabir School, too, were a part of the exercise.

Besides the good news about the presence of leopard, the exercise has also shown satisfaction over the presence of cheetal, jackal, pangolin, caveat and at least 65 species of birds.



300 scanned cheques recovered 
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 15
After swooping down on four fraudsters yesterday, the Chandigarh Police today recovered fake voter cards, debit cards, ATM cards, computer system, scanner, 20 chequebooks and 300 scanned cheques from their possession.

The police said had the accused deposited these fake cheques, residents would have lost lakhs of rupees.

It is now seeking information about the modus operandi of the accused.

According to the police, around 15 such cases have been registered against unidentified persons in Sectors 36 and 26, Chandigarh, and Sector 10 here by the authorities of the SBI. The unidentified accused had transferred lakhs of rupees to their accounts after stealing cheques and drafts from banks and post offices.

The police has started receiving queries regarding the modus operandi of the accused.

Sources said the accused had admitted that they were involved in transactions and transferred huge amounts to their accounts in State Bank of Patiala, Sector 12. The accused had purchased a blue beacon for Rs 500 and put it atop their Swift car. The accused had opened saving accounts in nationalised banks only. They used to contact each other through mobile phones. The police said of the total amount, the accused had spent about Rs 8 lakh.

Their accounts, which had cash deposits of Rs 20 to Rs 30 lakh, had been sealed, it added.

Meanwhile, the district court has extended the police remand of Rakesh and Vikas, residents of Sectors 4 and 12, respectively, till December 18. The police said further investigation could reveal more facts.

15 cases of fraud pending

The police said around 15 such cases had been registered against unidentified persons in Sectors 36 and 26, Chandigarh, and Sector 10, Panchkula, by the authorities of the SBI. The unidentified accused had transferred lakhs of rupees to their accounts after stealing cheques and drafts from banks and post offices



Stung by scam, I-T dept stops refund payment
Blank refund cheques stolen
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Stung by the Ludhiana Income Tax refund scam, where the department was on the verge of being duped of Rs 47 lakhs through a bogus refund last month, I-T officials in Panchkula have “stopped payment” of all refunds issued after September 1 this year.

The I-T authorities have directed the State Bank of India not to honour any of the refund cheques issued post-September as they could be bogus. A complaint has also been lodged at the Sector 2 police station stating that blank refund cheques have been stolen from the department.

Though the scam was busted in Ludhiana after an alert SBI official got suspicious when a man tried to deposit a refund cheque for Rs 47 lakh in the account of one Ramesh Kumar of Anand Nagar, I-T officials suspect that they could have already been duped of crores through such bogus payments. Sources said several blank sheets of refund cheques have been stolen and there were possibilities of them being “misused” by the suspects.

The needle of suspicion of the theft of cheques is reportedly pointing at certain contractual employees who were terminated by the department. In Panchukula, too, a similar scam has occurred.

The alert issued by the Panchkula I-T department has saved the department from getting duped as one such bogus cheque was refused payment as the PAN mentioned on it mismatched with the one in the books of the account holder. A senior official told The Tribune that cheques were now being issued from their Mumbai office.

If insiders are to be believed, about 50 to 60 cheque sheets have been stolen and the accounts were being tallied to ascertain if any of them had been encashed.

Confirming this, I-T Commissioner YK Batra said: “We are scrutinising the cases and can reveal details only after completing the inquiry.”

Incidentally, cases of bogus refunds have been reported from a few places in Punjab, including Jagraon and Bathinda. While I-T officials are tight-lipped about the thefts of cheque sheets, sources reveal that possibilities of involvement of some insiders are also being looked into. 


Hearing on RTE Act case postponed
Final decision on Dec 23
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The UT schools and DPI (S), Chandigarh, today got a breather in the ongoing RTE Act case filed by Pankaj Chandgothia in the public interest, as Chief Judicial Magistrate Anshul Berry was on leave.

The case was slated for the final hearing on various interim applications filed by both sides today. An order was expected on the application filed by petitioner Pankaj Chandgothia seeking stay on admissions in all schools without compliance of the provisions of the RTE Act.

Chandgothia has also filed another application alleging that the DPI (S) and private schools were only passing the buck and blaming each other for not implementing the RTE Act.

In an effort to find a solution, Chandgothia by way of the application has offered to bear the cost and arrange a brain-storming session between school administrators and education department so that consensus can be arrived at for the implementation of the quota prescribed under the RTE Act for the students of economically weaker sections and disadvantaged children.

On the other hand, the Independent Schools’ Association has filed an application seeking dismissal of the case as pre-mature. Association president HS Mamik has also said there were about 200 schools functioning in the city and for proper implementation of the Act, all these schools should be made a party or otherwise the case should be dismissed as not maintainable.

The education department and DPI (S) have already filed their reply stating that they are bound to implement the quota prescribed under the RTE Act. Draft guidelines had already been issued to all schools. However, the formal notification is still to be issued in this regard.

All these issues will now come up for the final hearing and decision on December 23, just before the winter break in the courts.



UT to preserve its heritage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
The Chandigarh administration today decided to formulate a legislative mechanism to preserve city’s heritage, primarily the architectural heritage.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of expert groups on the preservation of heritage, held under the chairmanship of UT Administrator Shivraj Patil here today.

Sources said the expert groups, tasked with the identification and preservation of heritage, presented the report to the Administrator. The final report, including the financial implications, will be sent to the Central government for framing the rules and regulations for the heritage preservation as the Union Territory does not have a legislative body.

It was also decided to classify the heritage buildings under three categories. The buildings designed by Le Corbusier have been placed under category-I, while those designed by his associates will find a place in category-II. Other important buildings in the city will be placed under category-III.

It may mentioned here that the expert groups were formed by the Chandigarh administration in July to identify heritage buildings to suggest measures for their preservation.

The administration had formed three groups for the task of suggesting a comprehensive plan of action for the heritage preservation in the city. While one of the expert groups was entrusted with the task of identifying the heritage buildings and suggesting steps for their preservation, another group was to suggest engineering measures to preserve the buildings in a scientific manner. The third group was to suggest steps to be taken in cases of violations and propose a legislative mechanism to deal with these.

The expert groups had earlier suggested treating Chandigarh as a single unit for the preservation of its heritage. Earlier, with a view of preserving the architectural heritage of the City Beautiful, as it was originally envisaged, the Government of India had set up an expert committee under the chairmanship of Patil. The administration later formed experts’ committee to suggest ways and means preserve the architectural heritage.

Category I

Legislative Assembly, Secretariat High Court, Open Hand, Tower of Shadows, Martyrs Memorial and Lake Club (Le Corbusier).

Category II

Architects Office, now Le Corbusier Centre in Sector 19 (Pierre Jeanneret), Planning of Sector 22, Government Press, Kiran Cinema government colleges for boys and girls (Maxwell Fry), General Hospital (GMSH-16) and Government School in Sector 23 (Jane Drew).

Category III

Other buildings in the city having heritage value.



MC to turn greenbelt into junkyard
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, December 15
While the UT administration is spending lakhs on the beautification of the entry points of the city, the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is constructing a store to dump its scrap adjoining National Highway in Sector 29.

As per the plan approved by the MC, the vacant land near the greenbelt number 20, developed near the Tribune Colony in Sector 29, was earmarked for the extension of the park for developing landscape adjoining to the National Highway. However, later the MC decided to construct a store to dump its scrap. Even in another greenbelt located near this park, the authorities have constructed a water tank to improve the water supply in the area.

In a written request to area councillor Raj Kumari, area residents urged the authorities should construct the store in the greenbelt that has already been converted into a water supply station. Following this, MC officials visited the spot and assured area residents to start development work of the park.

If the store is constructed on the land adjoining the greenbelt, it will become a junkyard and will defeat the purpose of developing the park, said residents.

Area resident Simran said: “Earlier, too, we protested construction of a water tank in the greenbelt, but in vain.” 



Bridge on Mohali choe 
Work to be completed by March 31
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 15
Work related to a high-level bridge on the Mohali choe, which is being constructed at a cost of Rs 2 crore, will be completed by March 31.

This was stated by Iqbal Singh Brar, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) , at a meeting held with members of the district-level development committee. He said that 70 per cent of the work on the bridge had already been completed.

Sixty per cent of the work on the causeway bridges being provided on the Saneta - Durali-Manauli road was completed and 49 per cent work related to bridges on Budh ki nadi and Boothgarh - Haripur road was completed. These works were being undertaken at a cost of Rs 4.34 crore.

Brar directed officials that utilisation certificates of the works completed should be submitted so that next installment of funds could be released. Incomplete works should be done on a priority basis. Elected representatives and influential people should be involved in development works executed in villages of the district. 



GMSH employees go on strike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Hundreds of contractual employees of Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, went on a strike today to protest against the non-payment of their salaries.

After staging a dharna for three hours, they resumed work at 10 am following assurance by the authorities that they will get their salaries tomorrow.

The strike, however, put the patients to inconvenience. No sweeping work was carried out in the hospital till 10 am while there was no one in the OPDs to regulate the rush of patients.

The employees, including security guards, sweepers and ward attendants, started assembling on the hospital premises at 7 am and staged a dharna.

Sonu, one of the union leaders, said despite repeated assurance from the contractors as well as the hospital administration, they were yet to get their salaries.



Mental healthcare at patients’ doorstep
PGI team to assist physicians in hospitals of HP, 
Uttarakhand, J & K
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
With a view to use telemedicine technology to deliver the expertise of mental health professionals at patients’ doorstep, the PGI has started a project to assist physicians in hospitals of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

With this, patients in these states will have an access to mental healthcare from experts in the PGI without having to come to Chandigarh.

The project titled “Development and implementation of model telepsychiatry application for delivering mental healthcare in remote areas (using medical knowledge based decision support system)” is being run under Dr Savita Malhotra and Dr Subho Chakrabarti.

It also envisages the augmentation of the existing telemedicine technologies by creating a “knowledge based medical application” to be implemented over telemedicine networks. Decision support tools will assist physicians to diagnose and treat mental illnesses in patients.

Mental health surveys around the world indicate that about 20 per cent of the total population suffers from serious mental disorders, which require treatment. However, more than 90 per cent of the patients requiring mental health treatment in developing countries like India do not have access to such services. There is extreme shortage of qualified psychiatrists in India (only 3,500 for the whole country) and the vast majority of non-psychiatric medical professionals and health care workers do not have even a rudimentary knowledge of mental health issues and care. Under these circumstances telepsychiatry offers the hope of alleviating both the quantitative and qualitative service gap by bringing the expertise of mental health professionals to those in need of it even in remote areas.

Developing knowledge-based software and associated decision making tools are novel ideas, which will facilitate the use of expert advice by end users.

The project will be run by a research team based at the PGI, which will also serve as the nodal centre. Three participating hospitals in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir will be connected to the department.

When successfully implemented, the telepsychiatry system is expected to yield a low-cost medical solution, provide accessible mental-health care to inaccessible areas, improve knowledge and decision making capability, and generate mental health data. It could lead to the development of a web based, user friendly, scalable, low-cost solution, custom made for Indian population and Indian conditions, that can be deployed at multiple centres, said Dr Savita Malhotra.



Work at Knowledge City reviewed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 15
At a meeting held at PUDA Bhawan, Punjab Chief Secretary SC Aggarwal reviewed the progress of the development works in Knowledge City here recently.

Principal Secretaries of Higher Education, Public Works Department, Power, and Environment attended the meeting. Aggarwal said since many prestigious institutes were coming up in the Knowledge City, no hardship should be faced by the stakeholders. 

Instructions were issued to sort out issues relating to road links, power supply and networking. Among the prominent institutes coming up are Indian School of Business, Indian Institute of Science Research and Research, Bio Technology Park. 



Stress on use of community services

Chandigarh, December 15
The human rights week celebrations concluded today on Panjab University campus. In a bid to support the cause of protection of girl child, students of various schools and colleges visited PU hostels to create awareness about the issue.

The students organised slogan-writing contest on human rights at the student centre, along with coordinator and faculty members, Dr Namita Gupta and Upneet Mangat. The final day of the celebration started with screening of a film “Tutu” on a mentally challenged child. Prof BS Ghuman, dean faculty of arts, applauded the efforts initiated by the centre in comprehensively celebrating the event. It was followed by an interface with GS Channi on the use of community services to sensitise people against discrimination.

The weeklong celebrations came to an end with Dr Swarnjit Kaur, coordinator, Centre for Human Rights and Duties, emphasising on the need to develop alliances among academia, social agents, judiciary and empathetic intelligentsia. — TNS



Seminar on trends in insurance sector

Mohali, December 15
The All-India General Insurance SC/ST Employees’ Welfare Association is organising a seminar on the emerging trends in insurance sector at Patiala on December 17 wherein top insurance brass of the country along with management experts would participate. Disclosing this here yesterday, Vinod Dhundia, secretary general of the north zone, All-India Insurance Employees’ Union, and Sajjan Kumar, union general secretary of the north zone, said the seminar would coincide with the northern zone general body conference of the association.

Vijay Inder Singla, MP from Sangrur, would be the chief guest at the seminar, while RK Kaul, chairman-cum-managing director of Oriental Insurance Company would preside over and Dilip Pawar, chairman of the All-India General Insurance SC/ST Employees’ Welfare Association, would be the guest of honour.

They said the seminar and general body meeting of the union were expected to be attended by over 500 delegates, including branch managers, development officials and other ranks. — TNS



107 varieties of chrysanthemum exhibited
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Prof Vipin Sobti, wife of Panjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof RC Sobti, inaugurated the third chrysanthemum exhibition at Prof RC Paul Rose Garden opposite the Vice-Chancellor’s office today. An AC bus service has also started on the campus. Panjab University boasts of having as many as 107 types of exotic varieties of chrysanthemum at Prof RC Paul Rose Garden. 

Around 3,000 pots with popular and rare varieties such as curving, incurving, spoon, pompom, snowball and eight types of unique spider varieties are being exhibited. Around 82 varieties were displayed last year. The exhibition will remain open till December 22. 



Floral Garden gets musical fountain
Tribune news Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Home Secretary-cum-Secretary, Local Self Government, Ram Niwas today inaugurated a musical hybrid fountain in Floral Garden, Sector 15.

Speaking on the occasion, Mayor Anu Chatrath said to start with, the MC would install security gates in Sector 15. Later, she said, these gates would be installed in all the sectors of the city.

MC chief engineer SS Bidda said the fountain had a pool size of 16 meters x 10 meters and it has 90 lamps of different colours, a control panel with DVD audio system and eight speakers. He said the fountain has 49 water effects in synchronization with music.

The chief engineer said the fountain has been set up at a cost of Rs 62.49 lakh. He said the fountain also had features of auto sensing, automatically pre-programmed to coordinate performance of dancing musical fountain system.



Cultural extravaganza
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
Delegates at Commonwealth Youth Leaders’ Conference 2010 here attended a cultural extravaganza put up by a troop from the National Integrated Forum of Artistes and Activists (NIFAA) at Hotel Shivalikview.

The performance ranged from kathak to ghoomar dance, kalbaliya and bhangra from Punjab, thus depicting cultural integrity of the country.

The key highlight of the event, however, was bhangra.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth’s newly elected youth leadership took oath in an installation ceremony presided over by deputy secretary-general Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.

The eight new youth representatives read their code of conduct in the presence of peers, Commonwealth Youth Programme staff and media. 



Three injured in mishaps
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, December 15
A major tragedy was averted when a speeding Swift DZire rammed into another car at the flyover on the Ambala-Chandigarh highway here yesterday. However, the mishap led to a traffic jam for more than an hour. The injured, Anuj Gureja, a resident of Rohini, Delhi, has been admitted at the GMCH-32 for treatment.

According to an eyewitness, the incident took place around 11.30 am when Gureja was going towards Chandigarh from Ambala side. He hit another car driven by Ravi Kumar, a resident of Adarsh Nagar, Dera Bassi, from behind on the flyover.

The impact of collision was so hard that the car driven by Gureja overturned and hit the safety wall of the flyover whereas the other vehicle hit the divider, the eyewitness added.

The police said a passerby rushed Gureja to the GMCH-32, Chandigarh, who had sustained a head injury.

In another incident, which happened two hours after this accident, a Zen car hit the safety wall of the flyover, leaving two persons injured. The injured have been identified as Ravi Kumar and Mohan Singh, both residents of Karnal. The vehicles were removed with the help of a crane after an hour. A police official said the drivers of both vehicles were driving rashly which led to the accidents.

However, no case was registered till the filing of the report. A police officer stated that the injured were discharged late in the evening.



Independent bodies to assess schools
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
In a bid to keep a track on its affiliated schools’ performances and tighten the noose around erring ones, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) plans to rope in independent bodies for quality assessment and accreditation of its affiliated schools.

In a major initiative, the CBSE had recently invited an “expression of interest” (EOI) from registered educational institutions, NGOs, trusts, companies and groups of individuals actively engaged in the education sector or in social service sector for more than two years to undertake institutional evaluation of its affiliated schools and those seeking affiliation.

The independent bodies selected by the CBSE will accredit schools on the basis of a seven-point assessment chart.

“The seven points on which a school’s accreditation will be judged are academic processes and products, co-scholastic processes and products, infrastructure adequacy and functionality, human resources, management and administration, leadership and beneficiary satisfaction,” states a circular issued by the CBSE this month.

The multi-layer assessment approach shall be the key evaluation methodology to make accreditation more holistic. As per the approach, the peer review will form the basis of quality assessment. Similarly, a review by stakeholders and beneficiaries will be used to judge satisfaction levels, analyse school reports to verify their self-assessments and claims and check any other analysis if required to determine the overall assessment of a school.

“These seven points summarise all major requisites of the smooth functioning of a school. We will be keeping a close watch on factors like curriculum planning and teaching-learning process to student assessment and performance, staff recruitment, retention, parent education, alumni involvement, preservation of accounts data, social linkages, academic leadership, quality management and satisfaction levels of students, parents, teachers as well as school management,” states the circular.

Points under lens

l Academic processes and products

l Co-scholastic processes and products

l Infrastructure adequacy and functionality

l Human resources

l Management

l Administration

l Leadership and beneficiary satisfaction

This accreditation of schools is a good idea, especially in the case of government schools. The current state of government schools in the city vis-a-vis seven-point agenda is an issue of major concern. For several years, the UT education department has been harassing us but never cared to look into their own schools. This accreditation will probably bring the true condition to fore. We, however, expect a little more clarification about these independent bodies.

HS Mamik,
President, Independent Schools’ Association



Post of principal
UPSC recommends 2 officiating heads for promotion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 15
After a prolonged wait, the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducted a meeting of the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) today where two officiating city principals, Shyam Sunder of PGGC, Sector 11, and JS Raghu of PGGC, Sector 46, were recommended for the promotion to the post of principal.

Prior to this, the UPSC had appointed KS Saluja in 2008 as the first regular principal of Government College, Sector 46.

The recommendation is a great step towards ending the ongoing phase of ad hoc in the appointment of regular principals in the city’s government-run colleges, wherein senior most lecturers have been officiating as the principals in almost all 11 government colleges for a long time.

Since these officiating principals are not vested with the decision-making powers, most of the decisions are held in abeyance, severely affecting both administrative and academic decision-making process.

Though officiating principals act as regular ones for all intents and purposes, they do not get any benefits accruing to fulltime heads of the institutions. Even after officiating as principals for years, they retire as lecturers only and do not get post-retirement benefits entitled to regular principals.

Besides, they do not have any representation in the top bodies of Panjab University, including Syndicate and Senate, and most of the decisions regarding government colleges are taken without the consent by the university. On the other hand, principals of private colleges find representation in these bodies from the principals’ constituencies and are in a position to safeguard their interests.

This DPC meeting has probably happened after almost a decade and will sort several problems plaguing our colleges. After two promotions, more names would be recommended on the basis of specified merit of candidates. The department had been toiling since long to get this DPC meeting conducted.”

— Director Higher Education, Ajoy Sharma



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