C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU don criticises UGC team’s ‘cursory’ inspection
Arts teachers complain about staff, space crunch
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
Some members of the University Grants Commission team currently on a visit to Panjab University to rate it for the “university with potential for excellence” (UPE) scheme today faced criticism for scrutinizing seven departments in just five minutes.

With PU teachers and UGC team members gathered outside the Gandhian Studies department in the afternoon, an associate professor in the evening studies department, Mahesh Sharma, expressed his anguish over the “extremely short time” allotted by the team to each department to spell out its problems and requirements.

He claimed the team members “insulted” and disappointed department heads by interrupting them in the middle of their presentations. “How’s it possible to fairly evaluate and inspect so many varsity departments within a few minutes?” he questioned.

The UGC committee members today split themselves into two teams after attending the inaugural ceremony of the two-day national conference on microbial biotechnology at the mathematics auditorium today morning.

During the inspection of departments of the arts faculty by three members of the UGC team, the heads said there was a “dire staff and space crunch” in their departments during their presentations before the team.

While representatives of certain departments including French and German expressed the need for infrastructure to introduce a five-year integrated course in their departments, those of others like Punjabi and Education sought funds for modern multimedia laboratories. The heads of the English, cultural studies and evening studies departments sought more rooms to divide the sections evenly, pointing out three faculty members shared a room in their departments.

The chairperson of the history department also highlighted the staff shortage issue. “Of the 16 teaching posts sanctioned only eight have been filled,” he said. Three members of the UGC team also inspected the science departments today and the inspection would conclude on Wednesday.

Questioning the quality of English spoken by faculty members of certain language departments, some team members asked them to speak in their respective languages instead.

They advised them to deliver their presentation in Hindi and Punjabi, languages in which they were more fluent and which could be understood by everyone.

Responding to the complaint by teachers of not having given enough time for their presentation, PU dean (arts faculties) BS Ghuman said: “Panjab University has so many departments and it’s impossible for the UGC team members to inspect every department individually. It is the constraint of time due of which they had to hurry through the presentations since they have to hear every one.”

The team members told The Tribune they were looking for “multidisciplinary” projects proposed by PU to bid for the “university with potential for excellence” scheme, and not projects undertaken by individual departments.

Varsity shortlisted by UGC

“Panjab University, which had submitted its proposal to be included in the “university with potential for excellence” scheme, has been shortlisted among 10 universities in the country by the UGC. We’re here to verify the contents of this report and will subsequently submit our report on this visit. Yet another UCG committee will monitor reports submitted by all teams that visited these 10 varsities.”

— Dr Abdul Wahid, UGC team member



RTE Act: Minority schools not clear on applicability
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
Contrary to the UT Administration’s plans of implementing the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act by April this year, minority schools in the city continue to be confused over the applicability of the Act vis-a-vis provisions of the Constitution.

With the UT Administration appearing to pay scant regard to these concerns, both the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) and the National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions are understood to be examining this issue. Citing Article 15 (5) of the Constitution, minority schools say that no reservation can be imposed on them and, therefore, the Act is not applicable.

The Supreme Court has exempted minority institutions from the purview of Article 15 (5), which empowers the state for making special provision by law for the advancement of any socially or educationally backward class. The minority institutions covered under Article 30 (1) are not required to implement the Act, sources say.

Talking to The Tribune, St John’s School principal Kavita Das said, “No Act can overrule the Constitution. We want clarity on whether the government can impose 25 per cent reservation on us keeping in view our status as a minority institution. We have been raising this question over and over again but are yet to get any response from either the Ministry of HRD and the UT Administration,” said Kavita Das, who is representing minority institutions in the ongoing RTE-related deliberations between the UT Administration and private schools.

The Ministry of the HRD is learnt to have received a number of representations from several minority organisations seeking clarification on the applicability of the provisions of the RTE Act in the light of provisions of Article 29 and 30 of the Constitution, which grant administrative freedom to minority institutions. 

Ministry of HRD Guidelines issued under Section 35(1) of the RTE Act, 2009

The provisions of the RTE Act, 2009, will govern sections or minority organisations covered within the meaning of Section 2(n) of the Act. Section 2(n) states that the RTE Act will be applicable to any recognised institution imparting elementary education including

Those established, owned or controlled by local authority or government

Those receiving aid or grants to meet whole or part of their expenses from the appropriate government or local authority

School belonging to a specific category

An unaided school

Confusion galore

Minority institutions all over the country continue to be confused over the implementation of the Act. The Association of Heads of Anglo-Indian Schools, a body of 200-odd schools that qualify as “minority institutions”, has decided to seek legal opinion on the 25 per cent reservation demanded as per the Act. Members of the Association include some of the country’s best-known schools such as the La Martiniere and Frank Anthony Public Schools in different cities, Cathedral and John Connon School and Bombay Scottish in Mumbai. 



Mohali Municipal Corporation
Govt in for legal tussle
DC appointed Municipal Commissioner   5-yr term for Mayor 
Rajmeet Singh/TNS

Mohali, January 11
Within a day of notifying the Municipal Corporation status for Mohali, the ruling Akali Government seems to be heading for a legal battle, with 11 Congress-backed councillors on Tuesday threatening to move court if they were not adjusted in the proposed Advisory Committee being constituted by the government to guide the development project of the city.

By virtue of this notification issued yesterday, the 29 councillors have automatically been unseated. Backed by the Kharar Congress’ MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu and the ousted Mohali Municipal Council President Rajinder Rana, the councillors are claiming that they were kept in the dark while getting the resolution for the Corporation passed at a recent meeting of the Mohali Municipal Council. “Why did not the government wait until March which is when the Census is scheduled to be completed? The government has to explain the hurry behind issuing the notification as the councillors were left with more than seven months of term,” said Sidhu.

Out of the total strength of 29 councillors, a section of the councillors are known to be sharing loyalty with both the Congress and Akalis. If one goes by past experience, money has also been playing a role.

Sources revealed that the case of nominating councillors for a short term might take time as it had to be legally examined. District Planning Board Chairman NK Sharma and Mohali Deputy Commissioner Praveen Kumar, who has also been entrusted the charge of Municipal Commissioner, will together run the show until the delimitation of the Corporation is completed and elections to the civic body held, assuming that these are held in the first place. It is expected that the code of conduct for the Vidhan Sabha elections is likely to be enforced by November, which means that the elections to the civic body have to be completed before then, failing which it will have to be after the next government is formed.

Armed with the agenda of development and betterment of the city, Sharma said the case of nominating the councillors was being examined at the government level.

“If any advisory body was formed, all ousted councillors, irrespective of their political affiliations, would be adjusted,” he stated.

The new Commissioner, who took charge late in the evening, in his first official orders said the councillors would continue to testify the documents of residents pertaining to domicile. 

Employees of disbanded Council in a tizzy

Status of 29 officials, including two executive officers, not clear as rules governing councils and corporations are different

Certain officials of the civic body got themselves transferred from Mohali, fearing their seniority might get affected

  Employees in the Municipal Corporation can be transferred to any Corporation across the state



Khushi’s brother won’t talk, mother cries for justice
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
Ever since he saw his younger brother being cremated, eight-year-old Inder, Khushpreet’s elder brother, refuses to talk to anyone. Once chirpy and vibrant, Inder, a class II student of Ajit Karam Singh Public School in Sector 45, yearns to play with Khushpreet and haunts his mother with all types of questions about life and death.

“Both used to go to school together and then play all evening. But ever since Inder witnessed his brother’s pyre being lit, he has gone silent altogether. He has difficulty in sleeping at night and misses him as both used to go to sleep together,” said Khushpreet’s mother Kulwinder while talking to Chandigarh Tribune today.

The body of five-year-old Khushpreet was found on the roadside in Mohali 16 days after he was kidnapped outside his residence in Burail village on December 21.

“Inder was always so responsible towards Khushpreet. He used to take care and look after him whenever I was not at home. His death has left an indelible mark on his mind. He is asking where he has gone and what happened to him, and whether he would ever return,” said Kulwinder, adding that she tries her best to hide her tears from him.

“Inder just sits quietly all day. Otherwise, he never used to stick to one place. The entire house used to reverberate with their giggles,” she said.

“I pray that the kidnappers are caught soon. Only then will Khushi’s departed soul rest in peace, I want justice for my son,” said Khushi’s mother, who broke down to loud sobs. She said that seeing her little son’s body had been the worst moment in her life.

“I wanted to hug my son for one last time. I saw his tiny and innocent face lying on a log of woods at the cremation ground. His patka was tied in the same manner that I had tied that day when he went to school. He had not removed it all these days ever since he was kidnapped. I fainted on seeing his body. What was his fault? The kidnappers didn’t even pity his innocence,” she said in a choked voice.



Khushpreet’s Murder
IGP urged to conduct meeting

Chandigarh, January 11
The CPI today urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to convene a meeting of law and order standing committee in the wake of the murder of Khushpreet Singh.

Secretary of the local unit of the CPI Devi Dayal Sharma, in a letter the IGP, stated that law and order situation was deteriorating in the city. While the case of the thefts, snatching and kidnapping are on the rise, the committee has failed conduct any meeting since its constitution on September 7 last, the letter added. — TNS



No to celebrate Lohri
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 11
Members of the Youth Welfare Club, Baltana, today held a candlelight march to express solidarity with Khushpreet Singh’s family. The club has also decided not to celebrate Lohri in view of the unfortunate death of the five-year-old boy.

Giving information, club secretary Pankaj Gupta said every year the club had celebrated Lohri in a unique way but this time the club members has decided not to celebrate Lohri to express grief.



Order for obese cops
Fight battle of the bulge
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 11
About 75 policemen posted with the Ambala police range, who are obese and considered physically unfit will have tough time ahead, as they have been ordered to undergo a strenuous physical fitness course for an unspecified time period at the Panchkula police lines.

Ambala police range comprises five districts of Panchkula, Ambala, Kurukshetra, Karnal and Kaithal.

The course, slated to commence from January 15, will consist of a PT (physical training) session in the morning, which will be followed by lectures and counselling by doctors.

Instead of donning rifles and lathis, the policemen will then be given spades, sickles and shovels to maintain the gardens in the police lines.

Those policemen who fail to show an improvement in their body mass index will be required to repeat the course.

Police estimates suggest that about 15 per cent of the cops in the state are obese. This has not only affected their efficiency, it has made them prone to many diseases, including diabetes, blood pressure and hypertension.

In order to keep the force in a physically fit mode, the authorities have already started yoga classes for police in all districts.

At the end of the course, each participant would be given a weighing machine, the sources added.


Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana to finalise terms for DPR
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
The City Beautiful’s tube dream is getting a step closer to the reality. Senior officials of stakeholders, the Chandigarh Administration, Punjab government and Haryana government, will meet here on January 14 to approve the terms of reference proposed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to prepare the detailed project reports (DPR) for the prestigious project.

The finalisation of the terms of reference will be another step forward after the approval of the comprehensive mobility plan (CMP) prepared by the Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) by the stakeholders.

Sources said after approval of the terms of reference, the DMRC would be in a position to prepare the DPR, which would see the feasibility of Metro for the region for taking care of the commuting needs of the people of the region. Based on the DPR, the stakeholders will be able to present its case for additional funds to the Central government, sources informed.

Under the first phase, two corridors are being laid for the tricity. While one corridor will connect the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat with Sector 75 of Mohali, another corridor will connect Sarangpur with Sector 15 of Panchkula.

The sources said the DPR was estimated to Rs 2.5 crore. Recently, the Union government had declined to fund the DPR to be prepared by the DMRC. The administration had desired that the Centre funded the DPR in the ratio of 50:50 since the UT was administered by the Centre.

In the CMP, RITES has proposed a mass rapid transport system (MRTS) comprising the Metro system (52.4 km), bus rapid transport (BRT) system (190.5 km) and commuter rail service (195 km) to be completed in three phases by 2030-31.

The phase I of the project likely to be completed by 2014-15 is pegged at a prohibitive Rs 10,765 crore. Since the Metro would benefit Punjab and Haryana in a major way in the backdrop of the sorry state of the public transport, major share has to come from these states.

The cost of the underground system is likely to cost around Rs 320 crore per km, whereas surface alignment is likely to cost Rs 140 crore per km.

There will be around 50 stations, each after approximately 1 km. To begin with, the frequency has been proposed at every 10 minutes, which could be reduced to three minutes with the passage of time.

Will stakeholders share DPR cost?

The stakeholders — Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana — are likely to share DPR cost since the Metro is the joint project of these states. Sources said the ultimate cost of the Metro project would be shared by these states, according to a mechanism devised by the stakeholders. In fact, after the preparation of the DPR, the stakeholders, particularly the Chandigarh Administration will be in a better position to demand funds for the MRTS, including the Metro.



New ILS installed at city airport
To give respite to air passengers in winter
Vijay Mohan/TNS

Chandigarh, January 11
A new instrument landing system (ILS), which will enable commercial flights to operate in low visibility conditions, has been installed at the Chandigarh airport. The issue of a new ILS to replace the obsolete system had been hanging fire for the past few years, with commercial air traffic at the airport being frequently suspended in bad weather. Air Cdre Rajeev Sachdeva, IAF 12 Wing air officer commanding, said with the commissioning of the new system commercial flights would be able to land even when visibility was only 1.2 kilometers or when cloud cover was as low as 200 feet.

In the absence of a reliably functional ILS, commercial aircraft required visibility of about 4 km to land. Air force operations, on the other hand, were not much affected due to the ILS as IAF pilots are trained to fly in visibility conditions of less than a kilometer. Operating policies of some airlines did not allow use of the ILS here in its present state.

The instrument landing system uses a combination of guiding lights and radio signals and enables pilots to align the aircraft with the centre line of the runway as also to maintain the correct angle of descent when approaching an airfield for landing. The system becomes indispensable in winter and the monsoon season when fog and clouds reduce visibility. Passengers were a harried lot in winters when approaching aircraft either had to return without landing or flights were cancelled altogether. For example, no commercial flight landed in Chandigarh during the past four days.

Such instances, airport officials said, would now be significantly reduced. The new system has been installed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) on air force land as the Chandigarh airfield, including the runway and air traffic control, belongs to the IAF.

Though the signal system of the new ILS conforms to category III specifications, it will currently be used for only category I operations due to some limiting factors like training to commercial aircrew and available paraphernalia with commercial operators. Category I is the basic system requiring visibility of 2 km, while category III enables “zero-zero” operations, that is, an aircraft can land when visibility is absolutely zero.

In India category III operations are available only in Delhi and Bombay. The earlier system in Chandigarh was category I, the technology of which dated back to the 1950s. Even their spares are no longer available. Sachdeva said with an international airport coming up in Mohali and the IAF formulating a plan to upgrade the airfield, only a few additional changes would be required to convert the system to category III status. AAI had begun work on installing the ILS, imported from the French aerospace firm Thales in mid-November, and completed it in one-and-a-half months. 



‘Corporation means more funds, development’
Our Correspondent

Mohali, January 11
The Congress-backed president of the civic body and his group of councillors are not happy with the formation of the Municipal Corporation because they have no vision for the development of Mohali, said NK Sharma, chairman of the District Planning Board, here today.

Sharma said the face of Mohali would change in the coming months with the formation of the corporation, as more funds would be received which would result in more development. “Twenty councillors, representatives of welfare bodies, including Mohali Industries Association and others had congratulated him on the formation of the corporation, but ruling group of the council, was not interested in the welfare of the town and its residents,” he claimed.

With the formation of the corporation an IAS officer would be posted here as Commissioner, who would have no problem in co-ordinating with the Chief Administrator of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority as both would be equal. Earlier, executive officers of the council had problems while co-ordinating with senior bureaucrats. Even as the new corporation will get more funds for the development of the area, residents will be burdened with taxes, which may come in the form of house tax or property tax etc.

However, the Congress-backed president of the outgoing body Rajinder Singh Rana said the upgradation of the Municipal Council into a corporation without extending its limits and by cutting short the term of the elected civic body was gross injustice and he would approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He said he and his group of councillors were not against the formation of the corporation, but it should have been done with the resolution, which was unanimously cleared by the general house of the civic body.


Only existing limits of Municipal Council included in Municipal Corporation

Limits of the corporation will be extended after March 31

Status of 29 officials, including two executive officers, is not clear, as rules governing councils and corporations are different

New posts for superintending engineer and town planner likely to be created.



Sun brings respite from the chill
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
After braving intense cold wave conditions, city residents heaved a sigh of relief as sun made a welcome appearance and spread much needed warmth, but city’s night temperature was lower than Shimla’s 4.8 degree Celsius.

The city recorded the minimum temperature of 3.7 degrees, 1.1 degrees more than that of Shimla. The bright sunshine increased the city’s temperature to 17.0 degree C, up by about 10 degrees compared to yesterday’s 7.7 degrees, but 4 degrees lower than the normal.

For the past several days the entire northern region, including Chandigarh was reeling under intense cold wave conditions. Fresh spell of snowfall in parts of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir had compounded miseries of the local residents, as chilly winds and foggy weather conditions made it difficult for people to carry on with their life. The normal life came to a standstill due to harsh weather conditions.

The meteorological department has predicted a rise in day and night temperatures tomorrow. “We are expecting temperatures to increase by at least 2 degrees C in the next 24 hours. However, light fog and chilly winds are expected to continue,” said the Met office director.

Being a public holiday today, the city markets and public parks witnessed heavy rush. Patients admitted to the local hospitals were also relieved a bit, as they were also braving cold wave conditions while undergoing treatment. Drivers and motorists were also relived, as they were able to drive without worrying much about poor visibility.

Flight schedules, which had gone awry due to the poor runway visibility at the Chandigarh airport for the past six days, operated only two flights of Kingfisher and GoAir today. Rashmi, a homemaker, said it was difficult to wash clothes in such cold conditions. “The intense cold seemed to have robbed us of all cheer. People would be shivering and complaining about the cold, but with today’s change in weather everyone kept looking for excuses to go out in the sunshine,” Promilla, another housewife said.

The Met office has predicted a partly cloudy sky in the next 24 hours and mist or fog during night and morning. Temperatures are likely to rise further and hover between 5 and 18 degrees C on Wednesday.

The rail traffic struggling to operate their services as per their fixed schedule saw no improvement despite clear weather conditions. Trains continued to be running late by several hours.



Survey by I-T officials

Chandigarh, January 11
A survey by the income tax department at two of the main dealers of onion and potato is expected to unearth irregularities in the sale and purchase of these two most demanding commodities.

Sources in the department said it would take a couple of days more to prepare the report of the survey. Still it is confirmed that two companies were involved in unscrupulous practices to mint the money, said the sources.

In order to keep a check on the hoarding and tame the steep hike in the prices, income tax sleuths conducted a survey on January 6 on the premises of Anil Trading Company and Shiv Aloo Company in the Grain and Vegetable Market, Sector 26. The income tax officials took documents and computerised records into their possession. — TNS



Protest by PEC mess workers
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 11
Members of the Mess Workers’ Union of Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, today protested and raised slogans against the chief warden KK Gogna outside his residence at Sigma City, Zirakpur, on Tuesday.

They demanded that higher authorities should listen to their grievances and must recruit new staff.

The secretary of the union, Satish Kumar, said they had been providing meals to the PEC students since 30 years, but the college management had always ignored their needs. They managed to get the minimum wages fixed by the Government of India in 1998 only after fighting a case in the Labour Court for three years.

He further said the work pressure was increasing by the day due to shortage of workers and management failed to hire new workers.

He claimed that a total of 108 workers work for 14 hours a day, whereas the requirement is of 150 workers.

Kanwaljeet Singh, president of the All-India Central Council of Trade Unions (Chandigarh), said the labour law was being freely violated in Chandigarh and Punjab and the labour department was not doing anything about it.

However, KK Gogna was away from the home at that time and his house was locked. The policemen were also deployed at the spot.



Several pvt schools to reopen today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 11
Even though the UT Administration has instructed all city schools, including privately owned, to remain shut until next Monday (January 17), confusion prevails with several private schools deciding to reopen tomorrow.

Vivek High School in Sector 38 has not closed, while schools such as St Kabir in Sector 26 have directed their staff members to return to work tomorrow. However, the school will reopen for teaching on January 17. Guru Harkishan Public School in Sector 38 will reopen tomorrow, while St Stephen’s School and all central schools announced that they would reopen on January 17.

While all efforts to contact DPI (S) PK Sharma proved futile, Independent Schools’ Association president HS Mamik claimed the administration’s decision to extend holidays as uncalled for. “It was a sunny day today and the weather is bound to improve. A fortnight is already over and we are pressed for time to complete both syllabus and revision schedule. Till date we have not received any written instructions. Moreover, unlike government schools we are bound by academic calendars,” he said.



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