C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Anganwadi workers lay siege to road
Bring traffic to halt; police caught napping
Aneesha Sareen/TNS

Chandigarh, December 17
The Chandigarh Police was caught napping today with over 1,000 anganwadi workers from Punjab first assembling and staging a protest against the Punjab government in Sector 34 and then marching towards the Aroma Hotel traffic lights in Sector 22 where they staged a sit in, severely disrupting traffic for over two hours.

The UT Police, which had no prior information of the protest, was seen struggling to control the mob with a few women cops. It all began around noon when members of the Punjab Anganwadi Mulazam Union gathered outside the office of the Punjab Social Welfare Secretary in Sector 34 and staged a protest. The police reached the spot after an hour along with a quick-reaction team. Sector 34 police station SHO inspector Uday Pal Singh then tried in vain to persuade the workers against proceeding further as they were already in an area where protests were prohibited.

The adamant workers refused to listen and began their march at 1.30 pm from Sector 34, sending the cops into a tizzy as there were only five women cops positioned to control the agitating mob of women at that time. While an additional force of over 60 male policemen was deployed when the protest began, women cops were nowhere to be seen for the first two hours. The male policemen put up a barricade opposite the passport office and stopped the workers from proceeding further and waited for half-an-hour before additional policewomen were finally pressed into service. Thereafter, the protesters resumed their march.

Traffic along the Sector 34, 35, 21 and 22 intersection on the busy Dakshin Marg leading to the Aroma lights point was severely affected. The traffic police was forced to divert traffic with the protesters proceeding towards the Aroma lights point. The police then again erected barricades at this intersection following which the workers sat on the road and blocked the traffic heading towards Sector 17 from Sector 22.

The commuters were the worst sufferers as the road remained blocked for over two hours at the Aroma light point. The traffic police was seen struggling to manage the heavy rush of vehicles, leading to traffic jam at the intersection.

Interestingly, all 11 SHOs of police stations of the city along with two DSPs reached the spot and took stock of the situation. It was only following the intervention of a representative of the department that the protesters were dispersed at 3.30 pm. While no arrests have been made, the police have registered a case under Section 283 of the IPC (obstructing public way) against protesters at the Sector 17 police station.

We had no prior information: SSP

Admitting that the police had no prior information and the protest by over 1,000 women occurred suddenly, UT SSP Naunihal Singh said they were able to take stock of the situation well in time and the protest was peaceful. “We had no prior information of such a large number of women holding a protest. The reserve force was immediately pressed into service as soon as the agitators threatened to get violent. While the women police force was initially less when the protest began, they were soon summoned to take charge,” he said. The SSP said it took time for them to summon policewomen as they had been on duty until late last night owing to night patrolling.


The protesters were demanding promotion for anganwadi workers at the supervisor level. The protesters also demanded that they be allowed pension gratuity, ex-gratia and provident fund scheme.



Bansal, Selja blast CHB for working as ‘property dealer’
Miffed at ‘faulty’ design of one-room tenements
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Chandigarh administration’s monopolistic construction arm -Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) - was today at the receiving end of two Union Ministers who termed the board as a “property dealer” and picked holes in the much-touted rehabilitation project for slum dwellers in the city.

While Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Water Resources and local MP Pawan Bansal was unsparing in his criticism of the CHB for pushing the prices of the dwelling units even in the general housing schemes out of the reach of the common man, Union Tourism and Poverty Alleviation Minister Selja appeared “dissatisfied” at the designs of the tenements constructed for the beneficiaries of the slum resettlement project.

The ministers’ remarks left the officials of the administration, including Home-cum-Finance Secretary Ram Niwas and CHB chairman Mohanjit Singh red-faced.

Addressing an official function to handover keys of the tenements to beneficiaries of the slum rehabilitation project, Bansal said the CHB was clearly working against its mandate of providing affordable housing to the general public.

Terming the Rs 1,000 brochure of the Sector 51 housing scheme as “pure commercialisation”, he alleged that in the backdrop of the “exorbitant” prices of the two-bedroom flats, these had become out of the reach of city residents.

Earlier, during an inspection of the one-room tenements, Selja was upset at tenements “faulty” design. The virtual absence of the kitchen in the tenement did not go well with both the ministers. During her address at the function, Selja made her “displeasure” known to all saying that CHB officials should have followed the “Hyderabad model” while constructing the flats under JNNURM. Selja also hinted that the Rs 50-crore grant-in-aid for the administration for the Rajiv Awas Yojana would come with a rider that it come out with a scheme for the “needy” people.

‘Remove shortcomings’

Raising an accusing finger on the biometric survey, Bansal was of the opinion that there were glaring discrepancies in the survey for the allotment of the tenements to slum dwellers. A number of eligible slum dwellers, whose names figured in the 2006 electoral rolls, have been left out by the administration while allotting tenements, Bansal said. He demanded tenements for the eligible colony residents.



DGP-BJP standoff after road rage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
High drama was witnessed at the Sector 20-33 roundabout late in the evening today when a gunman of the Punjab DGP allegedly took away the keys of a Lancer car belonging to a local BJP leader following an altercation.

Naveen Kochar, co-convener, media cell, of the local unit of the BJP, alleged high handedness at the hands of security personnel deployed in the convoy belonging to the high-rank officer.

According to unconfirmed reports, the escort vehicle whose gunmen took away the keys belonged to Punjab Police chief PS Gill.

The incident took place at around 9 pm when the Lancer car of Kochar was brushed by an escort vehicle of the DGP at the Sector 18-20 intersection. Kochar followed the convoy and confronted the gunmen of the escort vehicle and a heated argument began. One of the gunmen then alighted from his vehicle and pulled out the keys of Kochar's car even as he was seated in the car. The convoy then left in no time.

"Before leaving, the gunmen told me that the convoy belonged to DGP Shashikant. However, when I spoke with Shashikant over phone, he said he was never there. It later came to light that the convoy belonged to DGP PS Gill," claimed Naveen Kochar. "I a lot of harassment," he said.

Kochar called the police control room and amidst high drama, the keys were finally handed back to him by a constable after a wait of one hour at the roundabout during which he made a number of phone calls to senior BJP functionaries. Kochar gave a written complaint to SHO, Sector 19 police station, inspector Janak Rana when the latter reached the spot. However, he withdrew his complaint after the keys were returned.



Night Patrolling
125 challans issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
With around 1,600 policemen stationed on city roads as part of special night patrolling, the UT police issued a total of 125 challans for traffic violations in a three-hour span last night. A total of 100 barriers were set up across the city from 11 pm to 2 am.

The drive, which was personally monitored by senior police officials, has been initiated ahead of the festive season - Christmas and New Year - in order to keep a check on crime during late night hours.

Police said a large number of challans were issued for drunken driving and over speeding. Over 500 vehicles were randomly checked during the drive, the police said.

Besides, two cases under the Excise Act were registered last night. The police rounded up four persons who were found drinking in a car at Chandigarh Club and booked them under various sections of the Excise Act.

The police arrested Alok Singh, a resident of Sector 8-A, Deepak Singh and Sukhpal Singh, both residents of Sector 44, and Karam Singh, a resident of Sector 38. They were later released on bail.



GMSH-16 at it again
Transfuses wrong blood to pregnant woman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Close on the heels of the death of the new-born baby of Bulbul, a poor woman, allegedly due to medical negligence recently, Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, has endangered the life of another patient.

In the fresh case, blood meant for another patient was transfused to Suman, a resident of Colony No 4. Suman is now struggling for her life at the PGI as her husband Desraj claimed that her condition was still critical.

Suman had been admitted at the gynaecology department of the hospital with advanced stage of her sixth pregnancy. She had been visiting the hospital for follow-up and two weeks ago she was diagnosed with haemoglobin level of 7.5 and was told to increase it.

This time when she reached hospital her diagnosis confirmed that she was having haemoglobin of 9. Last morning she was administered a unit of blood. In the evening when doctors decided to take her for the Caesarean section, they found that the heart beat of the foetus was very low.

Immediately requisition of a unit of blood for the patient was sent to the blood bank. At this moment it was detected that she had been administered the blood meant for another patient with similar name, said deputy medical superintendent Dr MP Singh. Following this the patient was referred to the PGI, he added.



Land acquisition by high-ups
Inquiry officer recommends CBI probe
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Recommending a CBI probe into the acquisition of properties by high-ups in Chandigarh’s periphery, Punjab’s former Director-General of Police-cum-inquiry officer Chander Shekhar has said the revenue department had not supplied the list of ‘benami’ properties. He has also talked about the land mafia involving politicians, bureaucrats and police officials.

The list of “nami” properties enclosed along with the list includes the names of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, vigilance chief Sumedh Singh Saini and former Director-General of Police SS Virk. The list of 49 “name properties” based on the information supplied by the state intelligence also carries the names of retired IAS officers VK Khanna and Ajit Singh Chatha. Former DGP Abhay Singh, too, finds a mention in the list along with IPS officer Surinder Singh’s wife Sharanjit Kaur. It says inspector Gurmit Singh Pinki, too, acquired four-five acres fraudulently.

In a report placed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court Division Bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Nirmaljit Kaur, Chander Shekhar has asserted: “The revenue department was supposed to possess the knowledge of ownership/ possession of ‘benami’ properties, but no information in this regard Inquiry officer has been supplied by the department to this office so far.”

He added: “Keeping in view the circumstances to unearth the truth and for a hazard-free inquiry by an independent agency, it would be appropriate to transfer this inquiry to the CBI to identify the real culprits at various levels so that a free, fair, unbiased and independent report could be submitted.”

The High Court had on the previous date of hearing directed for placing the report before the Chief Secretary. “As the case came up for resumed hearing, the Bench, taking note of his recommendations asserted: “Suggestion in the letter to transfer the inquiry to the CBI to identify the real culprits at various levels and for free, fair, unbiased and independent report may be considered in the light of the report to the Chief Secretary by the Bench concerned.”

The matter was brought to the High Court’s notice by Naya Goan resident Kuldip Singh. Accusing a senior police functionary in a land-grab bid in Naya Gaon, he had sought protection, while praying for registration of an FIR and a CBI probe into the dealings.

UT moves HC

The UT on Friday filed an application seeking the High Court’s intervention on the ongoing projects of the neighbouring states. The application was filed in response to the issue of Chandigarh’s master plan. The UT also sought time till March 31, 2011, to submit the final master plan. The case will now come up for hearing on January 20. The UT referred to the master plan of Naya Gaon urban complex-2021 to say development controls permits high-rise buildings. If the development rule is allowed to prevail, it is inevitable that there will be no restriction on the number of high-rise towers that may come up in future. It would block the view of Shivalik hills.



Admn to auction more plots in southern sectors
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Chandigarh administration will showcase the southern sectors in a major way at the December 29 and 30 auction of residential and commercial property here. In fact, 21 out of a total of 23 residential sites being put under the hammer are in Phase II sectors (from Sector 30 onwards) in an apparent bid to promote the southern sectors. Similar is the case with the commercial property, as out of 92 commercial sites, 86 are in the Phase II sectors.

The commercial property includes a full-fledged market in Sector 39 here where 61 booths are to be auctioned. The auction of these booths seems to be an offshoot of a petitioned filed by the residents in the Punjab and Haryana High Court complaining about the lack of market in the area.

“Since the northern sectors still have a number of plots left, the administration in a clear strategy wants to auction more plots in the southern sectors for a balanced growth of the city,” a senior official said.

With the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) coming up with hundreds of apartments in the city, the land is getting scarce in the city. We have to strike a judicious balance between the allotment of land to the CHB and allotment through auction. That is the reason that more plots in the southern belt are under hammer in the forthcoming auction.

Even as Chandigarh’s periphery is bursting at seams, the property in the city is much sought after by the investors and end users, particularly NRIs. In the December 2009 auction, the average price per square yard of the residential property was pegged at Rs 74,820 from Rs 55,299 in 2008. Similarly, the commercial property fetched a price of Rs 2.74 lakh per square yard.

Will average rate cross Rs 1 lakh/sq yard?

Real estate observers claim that given the Chandigarh auctions past record, the rate for one square yard of residential property could well go beyond Rs 1 lakh per square yard. In the December 2009 auction, a 5 marla plot in Sector 32 was sold for Rs 1.4 crore at a whopping price of Rs 1.06 lakh per square yard, while the average rate for the residential property was Rs 74,820. The 5 marla plot was later surrendered by the highest bidder



Commonwealth Youth leaders’ conference ends
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The five-day Commonwealth Youth Leaders’ Conference concluded today. Forty-four delegates from the Commonwealth nations spent the week in the city learning about leadership and advocacy, covering youth networking, media, community engagement and youth participation in decision making.

Highlights of the week were the election of the new Pan Commonwealth Youth Leadership, with Noelyn Wagapu from the Solomon Islands and Rebecca Solomon from Vanuatu being selected as chair and vice-chair, respectively. All four regions-Africa, Asia, Caribbean and Pacific also held their regional elections.

The meeting was organised by the Commonwealth Youth Programme Asia Centre.

It was presided over by deputy secretary general Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba.



CIC notice to PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued a show-cause notice to the PGI authorities under the Right to Information Act for failing to follow instructions issued by it. In the notice issued to administrative officer Pradeep Bhutani, the the CIC has questioned why action under Section 20 (1) should not be taken against him.

The notice was the outcome of an application filed by Subhash Chander, a former employee of the PGI, who had sought information regarding his promotion from the PGI.

He had not been promoted though he was entitled to get one since 1992, claimed Subhash.

Subhash, a union leader of the PGI, had alleged that he was victimised for leading an agitation of workers in 1994.

When Subhash did not get information from the PGI, he approached the CIC and directions were issued to the PGI authorities for providing required information within four weeks to the applicant.

Later, Subhash lodged a complaint with the CIC that he had not been provided with the information.

On his complaint, the CIC on December 1 issued a show-cause notice.



Tikkar Tal road to be widened
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 17
In order to promote tourism at Tikkar Tal in the Morni block of this district, the state government is initiating a plan to widen the road and start special buses for the tourist resort.

Stating this, minister for tourism, hospitality, transport and civil aviation OP Jain today announced that the road in the area was narrow, as a result of which tourists were facing problems in reaching the spot, which also had historic importance.

Some buildings under construction were damaged following heavy landslides in the area during the recent rains. Even the road leading to the tourist site was blocked and damaged at various places and the place was almost cut off from the rest of the state.

He said the Pinjore garden built in the 17th century was likely to witness a surge in tourism as UNESCO had given Kalka-Shimla railway track a World Heritage status. He said Bhima Devi Museum had been restored, upgraded and made operational. The campus had been artistically landscaped and would be illuminated with garden and tree lights.

To develop Bhima Devi temple and Pinjore Gardens as an integrated tourist resort, a connecting road from the garden to the temple had also been constructed, he added.

To promote tourism in the city, Jain said land had been acquired adjoining Red Bishop to set up a convention hall and funds for its construction had been provided by the union ministry of tourism.

A major thrust had been provided to promote tourism in the state so that it became a driving force in the economic growth of the state, he added.



PIL filed against GMADA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
Greater Mohali Area Development Authority’s action of formulating schemes on papers without carving out actual colonies today came under the Punjab and Haryana High Court scanner after a Mohali resident filed a petition in public interest against the Aerocity project.

Petitioner Gurpreet Singh asserted: “By formulating schemes on papers without keeping in view the necessity of urban development around the city, and without carving out actual colonies before seeking applications for allotment of plots, houses or flats, the state is befooling the public at large.”

The petitioner added that the cost of “having shelter” by each individual family has gone out of reach of the poor, lower middle and middle class families.

Referring to the easy finances for applying, the petitioner added: “In the process of gambling, persons who do not have capacity to pay even 10 per cent of the proposed cost are applying simply by paying interest on the advance on the application money.”

Making the Reserve Bank of India a party to the petition, he added it should be asked to direct the banks against financing money for gambling in the draw of lots.

The petition against the state of Punjab and other respondents was placed before the Division Bench of Chief Justice Mukul Mudgal and Justice Ranjan Gogoi.

Taking up the matter, the Bench issued notice of motion to the respondents for January 4.



Melodic grandeur of yesteryear comes alive
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, December 17
As many as 15 singers of repute paid rich musical tributes to legendary singers to the like of Pankaj Mullick, KL Saighal, Mohd Rafi, Kishore Kumar in a special musical programme titled “Yadon ki Kasak” held at the Bal Bhavan here yesterday.

The sixth edition of their annual programme “Yadon ki Kasak” presented by the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademy was aimed at reviving the melodic grandeur of the yesteryear’s film music and propagate it among the younger generation, said Kamal Tewari, akademy chairperson.

Veteran maestro Bhupinder Singh stole the limelight, doling out seven hit private and film songs immortalised by KL Saighal, Jagmohan and Pankaj Mullick. He commenced the programme with an invocatory “Maiya mori mein nahin” before moving to romantic numbers with “Qatile-e-tafdeer” as his best. Besides, Satish Madhok, Shivam Sharma, Anchal, Joginder Bhalla, Bobley, Neetu and others presented nostalgic filmy numbers much to the delight of audience, especially senior citizens.



5-digit Nos. for trains
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
To streamline the centralised control system of trains, the Railways have decided to implement five digit numbers for mail and express trains from December 20. The decision has been taken to keep a tab on the movement of all passenger trains as well as streamlining their movement through the computerised control centre located at the Railway Board control room in New Delhi. An official said digit ‘1’ would be prefixed to the existing numbers of all mail and express trains while the remaining four digits would remain unchanged.



Tara Chand Saboo Excellence Awards
Tireless efforts of five teachers recognised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
The tireless efforts of five city teachers were recognised yesterday as they received the prestigious IXth Tara Chand Saboo Excellence Awards in School Teaching, 2010, at an award function at PHD House here yesterday.

Principal of the KB DAV Senior Secondary Public School, Madhu Bahl, received a life time achievement award along with a cash prize of Rs 75,000 for her efforts in the field of education.

“This award surely is a moral booster but the real award is when our former students come back to thank us after scaling new heights. I firmly believe that overall development of any community is dependent on progress of the education system. This progress should not come at cost of conventional values. I have always stood for traditionally modern education and this award hints that my efforts are bearing fruits though its still several miles to go,” said Bahl.

The other three excellence awards of Rs 25,000 each were given to Mushtaq Ahmed and Kandy Khanna of Vivek High School. They were presented the award for school teaching for secondary and primary classes respectively and Astinder Kaur of Government Model School, sector 22C, received the award for teaching economically underprivileged children.

The Governor of Punjab and Administrator of UT, Shivraj V Patil, was the chief guest on the occasion. He commended the Jan Seva Trust for recognising the contribution of schoolteachers who are the nation-builders.



UT Schools
CBSE to reward for cleanliness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 17
After having decided to asses academic quality of schools, the Central Board of Secondary Education will now rate them on sanitation.

The board in collaboration with the National Urban School Sanitation Initiative will launch the country’s first online “National School Sanitation Ratings” this month. Schools that score high on sanitation will also bag awards to be instituted for the cause. The award categories will include sanitation awareness generation among students, technical innovation and interventions, creation and conservation of green spaces, public/private partnership.

The schools will be assessed on parameters like washroom hygiene, water supply, water conservation, campus cleanliness, hygiene awareness among students, teachers and innovative methods towards the same end.

Similarly, selection parameters will include innovation in use of technology and resources, networking, cost effectiveness of intervention, demonstrable sustainable success and participation in sanitation programmes. It will start as a voluntary initiative for schools, though the board expects that it will soon be an important postulate in a school’s management’s priority list. The National Urban School Sanitation Initiative was launched earlier this year by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry and the Urban Development Ministry. Actor Aamir Khan is the brand ambassador for the initiative.



Light and sound show
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, December 17
Primary students of Sri Guru Harkrishan Model School, Sector 38-D, presented a light and sound show “Panchtantra Tales”. RJ Khanderao, regional director, CBSE, Panchkula, was the chief guest. More than 450 students took part in the spectacular show that brought alive the world of fantasy and fairy tales. All chosen stories based on folk literature depicted a moral dilemma aimed at developing wisdom and a sense of responsibility among children. Harpreet Kaur, principal, thanked parents for their continuous support and encouragement. She lauded the efforts of students and teachers for the wonderful performance.

NSS camp

A week-long special NSS camp was inaugurated at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Mani Majra, by Dr Bikram Singh Rana, state liaison officer, today. Principal Kund Bala Goyal motivated students to understand the community in which they live and use their knowledge and skill in finding practical solutions to social problems. NSS programme officer Tarandeep Kaur presented the schedule of activities to be undertaken during the special camp.

Grandparent’s Day

KV 3BRD AFS celebrated Grandparent’s Day under the able guidance of principal SK Sharma. Kiran Datta graced the occasion as chief guest and lit the lamp. Principal SK Sharma welcomed the chief guest. A thrilling game of balls was arranged for the grandparents.

Annual function

Divya Public School, Sector 44-D, held its annual function “Glories of India”. RJ Khanderao, regional officer, Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), was the chief guest. Folk songs and dances were presented by students. Principal Rattan Singh read out the annual report and highlighted the achievements of the school.


Mohali: St Paul’s International School, Phase VI, celebrated Christmas. Students presented carols, rhymes and songs on the occasion. Nursery students wished Xmas to everyone with the song “We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year”. Students of kindergarten section presented a skit.



PU Notes

CHANDIGARH: Dr KK Bhasin, a professor in the department of chemistry and Centre of Advanced Studies in Chemistry, Panjab University, has been elected as a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India. The selection comes in wake of his seminal contributions to the chemistry of organic sulphur, selenium and tellurium compounds. Dr Bhasin is a recipient of the prestigious Commonwealth Fellowship Award, Science Research Council fellowship (UK) and DAAD fellowship (Germany). He has contributed extensively to the national and international scientific literature with over 120 research papers, six US patents and seven books.


Dr Sanjay Chhibber, a senior professor in the department of microbiology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, has been accorded the honour of “Fellow AMI” by the Association of Microbiologists of India. The felicitation ceremony was held during the ongoing Annual Conference of AMI at the Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi. This recognition is given to teachers/scientists for their contribution in the field of microbiology. — TNS



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