C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Tanishq Heist
Two 8-second calls did them in
Akash Ghai/TNS

Chandigarh, January 16
Two calls, each of eight-second duration, made by gang members after fleeing from Chandigarh and before destroying the mobiles in Karnal proved to be the undoing of the gang that committed the Tanishq heist, the biggest heist so far in Chandigarh’s history. It led to their eventual detection by the police in Ghaziabad.

Their movement was detected after the police perusing the call records of mobile towers chanced to see a group of mobile users of a particular company who entered the Chandigarh circle at around 6 pm on the day of the crime and left by 4 am the next day. The mobile went dead after the last call.

Sources said the gangsters were carrying six mobile sets and they kept changing their SIM cards. One of them, however, made the mistake of making two brief calls to a Delhi number from near Karnal from the same SIM that had been used during the heist in Chandigarh.

“The calls tallied with the calls in Chandigarh and it helped us trace them,” a senior police officer said. The police is also said to have recovered all the jewellery, which is worth around ` 10 crore. The police got the lead after analysing the dump data of mobile phone calls made during a specified time frame.

Showroom owner in fix

The owner of the Tanishq showroom will not get the “not traceable” certificate from the police and so he will not be able to apply for insurance claim. Until the case is disposed, the jewellery will remain a case property, which means that he will not get back the stolen jewellery yet.

Confusion over value

The owner of the showroom had officially put the cost of the stolen jewellery at ` 8 crore whereas the police had estimated it to be between ` 10 crore to ` 12 crore. The variance in estimates is a cause for confusion. 

Police remand till Jan 24

Chandigarh: As many as seven robbers, out of the eight, transported by the Chandigarh Police after they were nabbed by the police in Ghaziabad in connection with the Tanishq heist last week, have been remanded in police custody until January 24 here today.

All the accused, including Paras Soni (26), his brother Manav (24), Upender Singh (19), Anuj Kumar (21), Ajay Singh (24), Bhura Tomar (18) and Sonu Raghav (19) were produced in the court of the Duty Magistrate.

Another accused, Bhura Qureshi (28), will be produced tomorrow because he is still in the transit remand of the Delhi Police. The accused reached the city around 8.30 pm. After being produced before the Duty Magistrate, they were transported to the Manimajra police station.



Admn messes up on implementing RTE Act
Sumedha Sharma/TNS

Chandigarh, January 16
In its overzealous efforts to implement the Right of Children to Free & Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, the UT administration has ended up in only violating its provisions. Despite being a union territory without an independent legislature, the administration is not only guilty of framing separate draft rules but has also got enmeshed in a prolonged deliberative exercise.

As a consequence, implementation of the act’s provisions in the city’s schools has been rendered virtually impossible in the next academic session beginning next April, with fresh admissions to nursery classes already having been completed in several schools.

“It has clearly been stated in the RTE Act that for a union territory like Chandigarh there’s no need for a separate set of draft rules or guidelines as it comes under the direct purview of the central government. Union territories without a legislature are supposed to adopt and implement the central act and draft rules in totality,” said Vikram Sahay, director of the School education & literacy department in the human resources development ministry.

A perusal of section 2 (a) of the RTE Act clearly states that, for purpose of implementation of its provisions, the “appropriate government” in the case of a union territory without a legislature will be the central government. The city’s minority schools have questioned the powers of the Chandigarh administration to frame separate draft rules and have sought an explanation from both the advisor to the UT administrator and the HRD ministry, but are yet to receive any response.

“When they (UT administration) are not empowered to make any rules then last two months spent in interactions have turned out to be a sheer waste of time. The RTE Act, which has not been notified and implemented till date, would have come into force last year itself. The administration should go through the act’s provisions and seek legal advice so that we’re not left groping in the dark,” said a member of the RTE deliberation committee.

We will go by Section 38 of the Act and get the draft rules approved by the Government of India.

A senior UT official



Private schools submit suggestions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A fortnight after their first deliberation meeting, the city’s Independent School Association, which represents 51 schools, has finally forwarded its recommendations to the UT Administration on the expected changes in the draft rules of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act.

“We have gone through all postulates of the draft rules but feel that some of them are not in accordance with the RTE Act. We have forwarded the recommendations and expect the Administration to adopt these. If it tries to alter the Act, we will move court,” said Independent School Association president HS Mamik.

A senior official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, maintained: “We are yet to go through the draft. The Administration will do whatever it can to help out schools but we will not override the Act to change things according to their (private schools) convenience.”

In its letter, the association has, however, stated: “The suggestions and recommendations are without prejudice. We feel there are a number of issues which are in contravention to our constitutional right.” From all accounts it seems that the standoff between the Administration and private schools is headed for a showdown.

Issue: Special training
The Administration needs to arrange for the special training of all teachers

Issue: Area or limits of neighbourhood
Recommendation: The Administration needs to map such children specified under the Act and the data be made available on the website as per the draft model rules

Issue: Academic responsibility of the appropriate government
The curriculum for teaching should be made by the CBSE in consultation with the NCERT as the CBSE is the examining body. The Administration does not have an examination board and hence should not form the curriculum

Issue: Maintenance of records of children by local authority
It should have been completed by January 1, 2011, and put on the UT education department website

Issue: Admission of children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged groups
Admission should be done on a centralised basis to eliminate fake certificates and other errors and streamline the process. This will eliminate school hunting as well. Private un-aided schools should be allowed to make their own criteria for the remaining 75 per cent students.

Issue: Reimbursement of per child expenditure by the appropriate government
The local government/administration should confirm the amount to be reimbursed per child per month. To arrive at this figure, a committee should be formed comprising the department auditor and representatives of the Independent Schools Association so that there is transparency. As we have recommended that centralised admissions be done through the DPI (Schools), the reimbursement arrived at should be remitted along with the list of recommended students to the school. This would remove apprehension of schools regarding reimbursement from the government.

Issue: Extended period for admission
This does not pertain to unaided schools

Issue: Recognition to schools
As per Section 18 of the RTE Act, “No school is to be established without obtaining certificate of recognition; (1) No school other than a school established owned or controlled by the appropriate government or the local authority shall after the commencement of the Act be established or function without obtaining a certificate of recognition from such authority by making an application in such form and manner as maybe prescribed”. It is construed from the above that recognition is not required for already established schools.

Issue: Withdrawal of recognition to schools
As the schools would be recognised permanently, there should be no withdrawal of recognition

Issue: Constitution of state advisory council
The advisory council should comprise eminent residents of Chandigarh, including two representatives of the Independent Schools Association



Underuse of funds keeps south lagging behind
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
For councillors representing the city’s southern sectors, pledges made on the floor of the municipal corporation house do not appear to be translating into action when it comes to spending funds on development projects in their respective wards.

None of the eleven councillors from the southern sectors were able to spend on an average more than half of the funds allocated for their wards during the past four years. This despite each councillor having access to a total of ` 1.3 crore ward development funds. In contrast councillors representing the more privileged areas of the city overspent the funds allocated to them in this period.

“It is the councillors who’re also responsible for the city’s so-called north-south divide, not officials of the UT administration and the civic body, as far as development projects are concerned”, averred nominated councillor AP Sanwaria.

The report on the councillors’ performance reveals they did not fully utilize funds allocated for projects related to civic amenities like road carpeting, installation of streetlights, construction of community centres and development of green belts in their wards.

On the other hand, councillors of wards in the northern sectors have been overdrawing funds for development projects.

The report revealed ward no 11councillor Manjit Singh topped the list of underutilization of ward development funds, spending only ` 67 lakh of the `1.3 crore allocated for his ward, comprising Sectors 53, 56, Indira colony, rehabilitation colony and Palsora village. It is strange he did not fully utilize the development funds even though the condition of civic amenities in his ward are in bad shape. As far as streets in the area are concerned, virtually none have been recarpeted for a long period, most of the streetlights are nonfunctional, garbage is littered in vacant plots in residential areas and public parks have not been maintained by MC employees.

In contrast, to take an example, Pardeep Chhabra, councillor for ward no 3, which comprises Sectors 16, 17 and 22, tops the list in spending ` 1.57 crore in his area, which amounts to ` 27 lakh overdrawn. Another councillor, Raj Kumari Mishra, who represents ward no 20 that comprises Sector 29, both phases of the Industrial Area and Sanjay colony spent ` 1.57 crore in her ward over the last four years.

In the list of under-spenders, Sunita Choudhary, councillor of Ward No. 26, comprising Manimajra, Motor Market, Subhash Nagar, Adarsh Nagar and Indra Colony, has so far only spent ` 71.62 lakh.

The councillor of Ward No. 12 comprising Sectors 43, 52, 61 and Kajheri is yet to spend ` 33.53 lakh, while the councillor of Ward No. 14 comprising Sector 45 and Burail is still to spend ` 26.99 lakh.

Similarly, councillor of Ward No. 7 comprising Maloya, EWS Colony and Sector 39 is yet to spend ` 23. 63 lakh while the councillor of Ward No. 8 comprising Sectors 37 and 38 and 38 (West) is yet to spend ` 19.94 lakh.

Interestingly, a majority of the councillors representing colonies and southern sectors are among the most vocal in every general house meeting. They complain, very frequently, that the authorities are not focusing on the long-awaited demand of residents of southern sectors for even providing basic civic amenities.

At the same time, a majority of councillors of colonies and southern sectors have not been able to fully utilise their ward development fund.

Funds Allotted

In the last four years, each councillor had access to a total ` 1.3 crore as ward development fund.

Year Ward fund per councillor

2007 Rs 20 lakh

2008 Rs 30 lakh

2009 Rs 40 lakh

2010 Rs 40 lakh

Total Rs 1.3 crore

Low Spenders

Councillor Utilised Non-utilised Fund

Manjit Chauhan Ward No. 11 ` 67.07 lakh ` 62.93 lakh

Sunita Choudhary Ward No. 26 ` 71.62 lakh ` 58.38 lakh

Kuldeep Singh Ward No. 12 ` 96.47 lakh ` 33.53 lakh

Vijay Rana Ward No. 14 ` 103 lakh ` 26.99 lakh


Pardeep Chhabra Ward No. 3 Rs 1.57 crore

Raj Kumari Ward No. 20 Rs 1.57 crore

Anil Kumar Dubey Ward No. 24 Rs 1.55 crore

Devinder Singh Babla Ward No. 18 Rs 1.47 crore

The excess expenditure incurred will be adjusted against the amount due in the remaining period of the ward development fund which ends in December 

We are helpless: Councillors

“There is not much scope for undertaking development works in my ward due to which the total fund allotted to me has not been exhausted in the last four years. The MC authorities have not proposed any major project in the sectors of my ward to date, even though the proposal was submitted to them long ago. The land has not yet been acquired by the UT Administration in colonies, thus hampering the formulation of development works in the area.

Manjit Singh, councillor, Ward No. 11

The estimate of petty works proposed under the fund in my ward are lying with the MC authorities for the last more than six months. How is it possible for the councillors to exhaust the development funds allotted to them in their area?

Kuldeep Singh, councillor, Ward No. 12

The development works of the southern sectors and colonies are not on the priority list of the authorities due to which the demands and proposals of the councillors representing these areas are neglected every time. Even though a number of proposals of development works were sent to them, no action has been taken by the authorities so far.

— Vijay Singh Rana, councillor, Ward No. 14


Remembering Khushpreet, tears roll down
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Grieving parents of Khushpreet Singh.
Grieving parents of Khushpreet Singh. 
Police personnel and barricades near the gurdwara
Police personnel and barricades near the gurdwara. Tribune photos: S Chandan

Chandigarh, January 16
Eyes turned moist at the ‘bhog’ ceremony for five-year-old Khushpreet Singh, who was kept in captivity for 16 days before being killed by his kidnappers.

His inconsolable parents, Lakhbir Singh and Kulwinder Kaur, broke down repeatedly whenever someone spoke about their child at the ceremony, which passed off peacefully.

“I know that he will not come back. I am grateful to everyone present, especially those who are not known to us, yet came to attend the ‘bhog’ for my son,” said Lakhbir.

The ceremony was marked by a large turnout, including local politicians and representatives of religious organisations. The ceremony, which commenced at 12.30 pm, lasted until 4 pm.

The police made elaborate security arrangements. It barricaded the venue to prevent any untoward incident. No vehicle was allowed to go beyond the barricades set up around the gurdwara.

Hundreds of policemen, along with anti-riot vehicles, were positioned at the site in view of disturbances which rocked southern parts of the city after Khushpreet’s body was found dumped on the roadside at Mohali on January 5.

Resolution seeks three cops’ trial

A one-page resolution, seeking the arrest and trial of DSP (South), Sector 34 police station SHO and Burail police post in-charge, was passed by voice vote during the ceremony in the presence of MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, who declined to comment. The resolution demanded that the three policemen be arrested, tried for murder and held responsibile for the death. The resolution observed that both the UT administration and the police remained mute spectators during the episode. The SHO and the post in-charge had been shifted to the Police Lines.

Demand to rename Burail

Several representatives of religious bodies demanded the renaming of Burail village to ‘Khushinagar’ and the Dev Samaj Chowk at Sector 45 to ‘Khushi Chowk’. The Sector 34 gurdwara executive committee announced that it had renamed its library after Khushpreet.

Financial assistance

Bansal announced ` 5 lakh as financial assistance on behalf of the Congress for Khushpreet’s family. The Sector 34 gurdwara management announced `1 lakh as monetary assistance to the bereaved family.

Protest by Youth Cong

The Chandigarh Youth Congress organised a ‘yatra’, wearing black badges, at Sector 25. Led by Gurpreet Singh Gabi, they raised slogans against the Chandigarh Police and threatened to intensify its agitation if the case was not cracked soon.



Icy winds sweep city, mercury plunges to 4.7°
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
After a brief two-day respite from the severe cold, the sharp and sudden dip in minimum temperature by 7.5 degrees Celsius on Sunday led city residents to put on their heavy woollens once again. Icy winds blowing from snowcapped mountains to the north swept the city since morning, causing people to shiver even under multiple layered clothing and in front of room heaters.

According to the meteorological department, more cold is in store as the minimum temperature is likely to fall further on Monday. While the minimum temperature is expected to hover around 6 degrees C, the maximum is likely to stay at 17 degrees. Mist or fog is also expected early in the morning.

The minimum temperature in the city plunged to 4.7 degrees C on Sunday compared to 12.2 degrees recorded yesterday, while the minimum remained unchanged at 16.2 degrees. Met officials attributed the cold weather to the icy winds blowing from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir.

While some in the city appear to be enjoying the chilly weather with hot coffee and warm meals, most residents found it difficult to even step out of their homes.

“It took some courage to step out of my home today for an outing. It was freakishly cold and the icy winds hurt my hands,” said Anurag.

The chilly winds also gave a tough time to those riding motorcycles and scooters. Madhur, an HR executive, said: “After I drove to Panchkula to do some shopping I couldn’t feel my hands for at least 20 minutes - they went completely numb. I began dreading going back home.”

There was no disruption in flight operations at the city’s airport as it was a clear day today. However, movement of trains, which was almost normal Saturday, created endless problems for passengers today as they were grounded at the railway station for hours.



Metro Project for tricity
A sigh of relief for Panchkula
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, January 16
With the authorities of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh agreeing in principle to share the cost of drawing up a detailed project report (DPR) by the Delhi Metro Rail Corp (DMRC) for the constructing a Metro Rail Transit System in the tricity, local residents have started looking at relief from the everyday traffic jams, especially between Panchkula and Chandigarh, in the future.

Thousands of people who commute daily between the two places have to face traffic chaos on the road from Fun Republic in Mani Majra to Transport Chowk in Sector 26. The other two roads — one going through the Chandigarh IT City and the one connecting Hallo Majra village of Chandigarh with Panchkula’s Industrial Area, Phase II — have only proved partially useful for Panchkula residents.

While the road from the IT City connects a small pocket of Mansa Devi Complex with Chandigarh, the other has a level crossing.

The Metro will not only help tackle traffic chaos on roads connecting the tricity but also reduce traffic on internal roads, opines Ravinder Rawal, former president of the Panchkula Municipal council.

The train originating from Sector 20 will be a boon for people living in one of the most populous areas of Panchkula, he feels.

With nearly 250 housing societies, Sector 20 currently accommodates a population of over 35,000, he says, adding that by the time the train starts running, the population may well reach 50,000, as more residential areas are expected to come up in the sector.

Its proximity to Pir Mushalla, an upcoming residential area of Punjab, also adds to its significance, he adds.

Harish Gupta, promoter of a housing project, says the starting of Metro will prove beneficial for the realty sector. Enquiries about realty projects in the area have picked up with the coming in of the news of the Metro project, he adds.

The business community is also elated at the development. The Metro will help ease the movement of residents, which will ultimately help increase business in the region, feels BB Kochhar, president, Market Association, Sector 7.



Zirakpur residents want in
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, January 16
The exclusion of Zirakpur from the Phase I of the Metro project has come as a setback for local residents, who have been grappling with the problem of traffic on a daily basis.

A growing need for a swift public transport system has been felt in the town, which faces frequent traffic jams.

The lack of a swift public transport system in the town has left the residents with little choice but to catch auto-rickshaws or local buses to reach their destinations.

Over 500 auto-rickshaws ply from the town for Chandigarh, Panchkula and Banur every day.

The residents feel the Mohali administration should take up the matter of inclusion of Zirakpur in the Metro project with their counterparts in Chandigarh.

As per the proposed route, the line I of the Metro project will run through Sector 20 (Panchkula) to Mullanpur via Sarangpur. With Zirakpur falling close to Sector 20, the line can be extended to the town, the residents contend.

“Zirakpur is developing at a very fast pace and every day thousands of people travel back and forth. Metro is clearly the need of the hour, as it will help streamline the road traffic and bring down road accidents,” says Sukwinder Singh, president of the Marriage Palaces Association.

Nishant Jain, a serviceman, says: “We want that the Metro should pass through Zirakpur. It will benefit both the residents and the administration.”



Modern Fruit & Veggie Market
Project back on drawing board
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
A decade-old proposal to set up a modern fruit and vegetable market by the Punjab Mandi Board on 20 acres of land in Sector 65 A (Phase XI) is once again on the drawing board, thanks to politicians who have been over the years promising an ultra-modern facility at the site.

Though the facility never came up over the years, proposals by successive governments kept piling up in official files.

In 2005, the Congress regime led by Capt Amarinder Singh had announced an ultra-modern agro product market complex at a cost of over Rs 100 crore.

The then Kharar MLA, Bir Devinder Singh, had said that the complex would have 206 fully air-conditioned showrooms having three stories.

The air-conditioned basement was to be used as storage space, while the ground floor was proposed to be the shop and the upper floor the office.

A central facility for ripening and cold storage was also to be provided to shopkeepers.

The facility had been announced on the lines of European markets and was expected to give a boost to farmers dealing in vegetables, fruits and flowers. But the facility failed to see the light of the day.

The Congress regime in 2005 had also announced to hand over the project to Reliance Industries Limited (RIL).

Instead of directly giving the 20 acres, worth several hundred crores of rupees, to the RIL, the state government came out with a new proposal called “reverse bidding”.

When the Punjab Mandi Board itself prepared to spend Rs 100 crore to set up a modern multiple-use market on the land, several questions were raised about the proposal of the government.

Now after a gap of six years, the Akali government has announced a modern fruit and vegetable market at the same site. The proposal has now been redesigned.

Hectic parleys are being held to get the project started ever since it received Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s nod for its revival.

Second time lucky?

In 2005, the Congress regime had announced an ultra-modern agro product market complex at a cost of over Rs 100 crore. But the project never took off. After a gap of six years, the Akali government has announced a modern fruit and vegetable market at the same site



PG accommodations, slums searched
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 16
To keep a tab on inter-state criminal activities of anti-social elements, the local police launched a major search operation in paying guest and rented accommodations, besides slum areas, here today.

A team led by SHO Yogi Raj conducted search in paying guest and rented accommodations in various colonies of Lohgarh road, VIP road and Pabhat area of the town. The police also carried out search in the slum areas.

The police had received a tip-off that some anti-social elements were residing in some PG accommodations at Yamuna Enclave.

While some tenants failed to present sufficient information to the police, nothing incriminating was found during the search.

After issuing a warning to erring landlords, the police told them to submit the details of their tenants to the police station at the earliest.

A police official said: “We would register a case against those landloards who fail to furnish information of their tenants even after repeated requests.”

On January 4, a day after the cashier of a liquor vend was robbed of Rs 5 lakh and shot by some unidentified youths, the police had arrested three suspects from a residential area here after a three-hour search operation in the residential area.

They were residing in flat No. 24 of Simran Apartment, Ekta Vihar, Baltana, for the past few months.



Vehicle impounded
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
The local police has impounded a Skoda car for violating the traffic rules by using a red beacon.

Matour police station SHO Tarlochan Singh said the car (CH 01 AB 9999) with a red beacon atop was intercepted near Matour.

The driver of the car, Dinkar Gujjar, who hails from Hisar, failed to produce any documents pertaining to the use of red beacon.



Canadian MP for promoting Punjabi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, January 16
Canadian Member of Parliament Dr Ruby Dhalla has asked the Punjabi youth to be proud of their culture, heritage and tradition. “Every effort should be made to respect and promote our mother tongue,” she said while speaking at a function organised by the SAD at Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) here today.

She was felicitated at a function organised jointly by the women and youth wings of the SAD.

Dr Dhalla was hailed as the role model for Punjabi women who had made a successful career on her own.

Youth wing leader Harsukhinder Singh Bubby Badal presented Dr Ruby with “Voice of Punjabis in Canada Award” and said she had done the country proud by becoming an MP there thrice.

He said the Sikhism had a strong foundation for gender equality with Guru Nanak Dev treating men and women as equals 500 years ago.

Istri Akali Dal, Mohali, president Kuldeep Kaur Kang demanded 50 per cent reservation for women in politics.

Punjab School Education Board chairman Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon claimed that the board was committed to modernising the education system in the state and revolutionising the way examinations were conducted so that the youngsters could compete at global level.



Dropped midway, workers block highway
Were arrested for marching towards CM’s residence
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, January 16
High drama was witnessed here late last night when daily wageworkers of the Punjab Water Supply Department blocked the Zirakpur-Patiala highway for over half an hour after the Chandigarh Police left them at a bus stop here.

Hundreds of protesters, who were arrested by the Chandigarh police for trying to gherao the Punjab Chief Minister’s residence yesterday, alleged that the police had promised to drop them at Rajpura but instead left them at Zirakpur in CTU buses.

They raised slogans against the Chandigarh Police and the Punjab government. As a result, hundreds of vehicles remained stranded on the highway. The vehicles had to be diverted to ease the jam.

Meanwhile, the Chandigarh police later dropped the protesters at the Rajpura chowk.

An official of the Chandigarh Police denied the allegations and said they were willing to drop them at Rajpura.

Workers’ union secretary Mukhesh Kumar said over 100 workers were arrested by the Chandigarh Police yesterday when they tried to gehrao the residence of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The protesters had organised the rally to put pressure on the Punjab government to regularise those who had been working on ad hoc basis since 1989.

Workers from across the state had assembled at the YPS chowk in Mohali before marching towards Chandigarh. However, they were prevented from moving beyond the Matour barrier.



Meeting at PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The governing body, institutional body and academic committee of the PGI will hold a meeting tomorrow.

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad will chair the meeting. While decision on the appointment of dean and sub-dean of the premier health institute will be taken by the institutional body, a committee will be formed to select the successor of PGI director Prof KK Talwar. Dr Talwar’s tenure will end on March 31. The academic committee of the PGI will take up the issue of starting an MBBS course at the institute.



Scooter graveyard

Tribune photographer Nitin Mittal was rather amazed to see more than 100 scooters parked at the rear side of the Sector 21 police station in Panchkula last week. They looked like worn out and grounded. “What’s up?” he asked a fellow photographer. “These have been impounded by the police, over the years, for irregularities. The owners never came to take these back:”Many of the scooters appeared to have been buried.

Monkey menace at PU

Monkeys and peacocks at Panjab University’s residential area seem to have become a cause of worry. Narrating her experience on Saturday, a teacher, said, “Even as the sight of peacocks early morning is a delight and makes one feel close to the nature, monkeys create a ruckus here. It is difficult to leave children alone at home, as monkeys are commonly found on the rooftops of houses in the area,” she said

‘Temporary glitch’

Senior police officials had to face embarrassment at the hands of journalists, in particular, during the inauguration of the modern police control room in Mohali recently. A call was made on the emergency number (100) of the control room after the inauguration, but, no one responded to the call despite repeated attempts. “It is just a technical glitch,” a senior official said.

Onion brings tears and smiles

The humble onion is really visiting various places; it has now entered the Indian stock market. “FIIs are selling shares and buying onions”, was yet another onion-related SMS that did the rounds on Friday as the equity markets took yet another tumble, with the Sensex diving by 322 points and the Nifty losing 97 points.

A few days ago, another SMS read as: “The Jain community thanks Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for achieving in a short span what Jain Munis failed to do in 500 years. He has stopped people from eating onions.”

“At that price, of the city poor, the most well-off would have to work for three days to buy a kg of the vegetable,” points out another SMS.

In 1998, variation in onion prices cost the Opposition-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a key-state election. “Earlier, I used to put onion in every vegetable, but now I use the bulb rarely,” said Surekha Sinha, a housewife. With the hike in onion prices, during the Lohri festival, rather than distributing rewaris and peanuts, organisers distributed onions among society members. Members of the society felt that this was the real gift on Lohri as there were reports of adulteration in the preparation of rewaris.

Violation of traffic rules

Traffic cops at the city roundabouts prefer to be a mock spectator towards the blatant violation of rules by drivers of the roadways buses. Though jumping red lights is a commonscene, cops have virtually turned a blind eye towards the parking of buses right on the roundabouts to pick and drop passengers.

In an effort to get maximum passengers, these drivers stop buses much before the actual stop causing traffic jams.

At roundabouts of Sectors 21, 22, 34 and 35, several buses can be seen on various roundabouts during peak hours. Instead of manning vehicles, traffic cops are busy issuing challans to private vehicle owners.


Chandigarh-based architect-author and chairman of the Indian Institute of Architects(IIA), Chandigarh-Punjab chapter, Surinder Bahga has added another feather to his cap. The IIA has appointed him chairman of its National Architectural Heritage, Research and Documentation Committee.

Bahga, who graduated from the Chandigarh College of Architecture in 1984, has an impressive range of religious, educational, administrative and residential buildings, urban design, interior design and landscape projects to his credit. A recipient of Sir M Visvesvaraya Award by HUDCO for energy-efficient housing design in 1995, he has the distinction of winning the Michael Ventris Award from the Architectural Association, London, for his research on “Architecture of Astronomical Observatories in India”. Baptist Church at Chandigarh designed by him was selected by the Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources and the Tata Energy Research Institute as one of the best 41 energy-efficient buildings in India.

Besides, he has co-authored three books-Modern Architecture in India: Post Independence Perspective, New Indian Homes and Le Corbusier & Pierre Jeanneret: Footprints on the Sands of Indian Architecture.

Contributed by Sanjeev Bariana, Neha Miglani, Rajmeet Singh, Anil Jerath, Arun Sharma and Sumedha Sharma



Onion prices go up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
With the prices of tomatoes and onions going up, there seems to be no respite in sight for consumers. Garlic and ginger are being sold for Rs 200 and Rs 80 per kg, respectively. In each case, the hike is over 25 per cent.



Growing craze for brands among residents
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Comfort and price are passé when it comes to the purchase of ready-made garments especially for Chandigarh and Ludhiana residents.

A majority of them go for brands and wear what others like. In an interesting study by a Panjab University teacher, it was found that a significantly high consideration is given to “other’s liking” and “brand” by people these days while buying ready-made garments.

In a research titled “Ready-made garments: classification of consumers” conducted by BB Goyal, it was also found that there was an intense competition in the ready-made garment industry and the new entrants in the market couldn’t target any one group.

Instead, three different groups of consumers have been identified who buy garments considering parameters like brand, price, other’s likings, comfort, shades, designs, overall uniqueness and place.

The consumers in these two cities were categorised into three clusters based on above factors and through a structured interview format.

“For any new company to launch a brand in ready-made garment industry, it is impossible to consider one target group. In the study, consumers from Chandigarh and Ludhiana have been classified into three groups based on a structured interview,” said Goyal.

Respondents in the first group gave a high consideration to brand, pricing, other’s liking, comfort and shades, while buying ready-made garments, whereas they didn’t consider overall uniqueness and place of purchase.

The respondents in the second cluster have given high consideration to overall uniqueness and place of purchase, while those in the third cluster gave high consideration to comfort and price.

Respondents in all clusters have rated design the least important factor.

“Brand building is not happening in this region. International brands like Prada, Gucci etc have made a mark in India, but the local brands have not become as popular and due to extreme competition in the market.

This challenge in the ready-made garment industry will continue,” he added.



Open House Response
Too many chinks in ‘draw of lots’

I am surprised the way Chandigarh Administration is going ahead blindly with the ‘draw of lots’ for all schools without even debating the practicability of the system in our schools.

Besides other cities, even our national capital is incorporating the need-based changes to the original draft.

As a parent I am concerned. We all brothers and sisters always studied together. My sister is a teacher in a leading school in the city. Draw of lots will mean there was no guarantee that her son would study in her school. I think it was very peculiar.

All schools don’t have a common education programme. Parents prefer the school according to their own likings. There are some schools which give more importance to studies and others give equal importance to sports as well.

All schools don’t have a common fee structure. Some are very expensive. Under law, the entire country does not have a common fee structure for all schools. Convent schools are charging less as compared to leading private schools. Can the administration ensure parity in the fee structure in all schools in the city.

One of the important aspects was that some parents preferred a particular school due to the facilities available for their special children for example dyslexia. Not all schools had provisions for taking care of the special children. I am also interested in knowing the fate of the students, who wanted to join the schools with the ICSE board. There are three-four odd schools. Will the administration have a common draw of lots for all children? This will not allow a concession for parents to select a school according to their choice.

Will affect bonding

The best and the fondest memories I have of my school days are when we three siblings (one brother and two sisters) and another friend of my brother used to pile up our school bags and bottles on the bicycle and walk together to school. On the days of parent-teacher meeting, the already familiar teachers, who had taught my elder sister would be much at ease with parents and communicate our progress in school. As time progressed, my elder sister became our guardian and she used to meet our class teacher on the day of our parent-teacher meeting if both my working parents could not take their day off. It was a nice warm, shielded, blanket cover having a brother and sister in the same school. We grew together discussing our school life at home. I am apprehensive whether my two daughters will also grow up sharing their close-bosom school secrets with each other.

My elder daughter, aged five, is the student of Carmel Convent School and the younger one, aged three, is due for admission in the same school this year. However, from this year on, in the wake of RTE, she is going to suffer doubly. On one count, the schools have suddenly revised the dates of eligibility for admissions and secondly, the schools are now considering the admissions by draw of lots. As a result she has been declared underage for admission to the school and she will lose one year.

Also, if lucky draw system is adopted, then there is also an uncertainty of her joining her sister. I am quite worried about the growth of the delicate and tender sibling bond which starts growing at this age and develops in the coming years when they study in the same school for about 12 years.

This goes a long way in building healthy relationships for a close-knit society. Moreover, there will be utter chaos in admissions because the students might not get a school of their choice and it will defeat the purpose of neighbourhood school concept. I strongly urge the administration and authorities concerned to consider sibling relationship before making any policy decision.

Dr Chanchal Narang

Make some changes

We welcome the UT Administration’s move on “draw of lots’ for more transparent system of getting admissions, but UT should also grant/accept two relaxations-

1. As the government allowed in EWS scheme that parent institution can have the right for 5-10 per cent of quota to allot as per their management decision and rest through draw of lots, same shall be considered/allowed to schools also, which is 10 per cent admission rights should be allowed as per management discretion.

2. If parents wish to opt that their sibling will get admission in same schools then they shall be given preference and siblings shall be considered irrespective of draw of lots.

We look forward for getting these relaxation adopted by Chandigarh Administration because admissions will be carried out soon.

Jyoti and Sanjay Gupta

Another showdown

The commitment of the UT Administration towards the Economically Weaker Section (EWS) seems to be headed for another showdown. The private schools had already started the sale of admission forms for primary classes in November, but the rules of the UT Administration are yet to be formulated.

The Right to Education (RTE), the Act which makes the education a fundamental right, mandates private schools to reserve 25 per cent of seats for the Economically Weaker Sections and disadvantaged communities.

The UT Administration says that the private schools in the city should provide 25 per cent reservation for the EWS students of the total seats.

The Central government has given a broad framework of the Act, but the administration needs to design its own guidelines and norms. The academic and infrastructure standards of such schools are very high, so a matching compensation needs to be ensured.

ML Garg

Save parents

I would like to highlight the plight of parents and children in the over enthusiasm being shown by the Chandigarh Administration in implementing the Right to Education Act.

Lottery system will be like a sword of Damocles hanging on parents’ neck because of the constant burden of getting their child admitted to their preferred school. They will have to apply in each every school, waste money and time on the admission forms and more so by waiting in lines through endless hours in this bone-chilling winter.

Parents will have to run to every school and may be two schools have draws on the same day. And if, God forbid, a child is unfortunate enough not to get admission in any school, a whole year of his precious life will be wasted.

Therefore, the administration should develop a centralised system to save parents’ precious time.

Bhumika Goel

UT’s double standard

While most states have already finished alignment of Sarva Shiksha existing programmes with RTE provisions, which became operational in April, 2010, Chandigarh seems to be ignoring the pitiable condition of most government schools, where paucity of drinking water, filthy toilets, ill-kept playgrounds, lack of child friendly play areas, dilapidated classrooms are a common sight.

In several schools, children from the Economically Weaker Sections sit on the ground in the open like in Indira Colony Mani Majra and Colony no 4. When the administration speaks on the issue to transform schools, at least 26 schools, serving the slums, rehabilitation colonies and rural areas were to be enriched under different schemes. Even this remained only on papers. On December 7, the administrator was shown an untruthful presentation on the successful distribution of all AIE material for underprivileged children. But the lie was exposed and officials hastily expedited dispersal of 6,000 uniforms in a single day on December 8. Even worse, to compensate financial mismanagement and resultant lack of funds in the first week of January, all AIE centres were told to return all funds even though the financial year ends in March.

Madhu Bhandari

Selective approach

The UT Administration seems to have forgotten that the Right to Education Act is especially relevant for all government schools, as it is these schools which are accessible to most of the disadvantaged groups and weaker sections.

The compulsory 25 per cent reservation for weaker sections in private schools seems to be the only aspect that has caught the fancy of the officers here.

One of the first steps that should have been undertaken is an authentic identification of the out-of-school children, who must be enrolled.

Under the RTE law, it is mandatory for the state to make public the physical and social mapping .The state must also categorise the children surveyed into groups, including street-children, learning disabled, handicapped and minorities, so that specific supportive interventions are planned.

Lubna Sekhon

Be transparent

In a country like India where each school has its own rules, student-teacher ratio and system of imparting education, it may not be wise to have a blanket ruling that mandates any one specification, across the board.

While transparency and fair play should be the key, draw of lots ought to be preceded by some sort of interaction with the school.

Formal interviews and tests, which are carried out with children, must be done away with. But informal meetings/interactions provide a great deal of comfort to both the school and parents, in selecting the best school.

CL Chadha



Rs 15-lakh pay package for students
PU business school’s formula works
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A year after Panjab University’s coveted University Business School (UBS) imposed a minimum limit of Rs 4.5 lakh on salaries offered by companies, the formula has worked well this year, with 100 out of 120 interested candidates already placed at salaries above this scale.

The average annual pay package of each UBS student has crossed Rs 6.8 lakh and three MBA (human resource) students have been offered a pay package of Rs 15 lakh in the current placement season.

This figure is much higher than the highest pay package bagged by three UBS students in 2008, which was Rs 8.7 lakh offered by HSBC Bank and Rs 12 lakh offered by Powerfinance corp in 2009.

“We have refused offers sent by companies for pay packages up to Rs 3.8 lakh. UBS has a brand name and the standards cannot be lowered. Nearly 100 students have been placed and certain other companies are approaching the institute,” said SK Chadha, placement coordinator.

He said better coordination proved useful this year.

But an added attraction for the UBS students is that no student would get less than Rs 38,000 per month, he added.

“We had to motivate and convince students. No student was allowed to appear for the exam of more than three of the initial five companies. For this, they were asked to focus only on the company and profile they desired,” said Chadha.

This year, a pay package of Rs 15 lakh was offered by Trident to the UBS students, while the second best pay scale was offered by Religare company at Rs 9 lakh annually. City Bank and Goodrej have both recruited UBS graduates at Rs 8.5 lakh per annum pay package, while Infosys has offered Rs 7.5 annually.

Certain faculty members claimed that placements of reserved categories students within this salary ceiling of Rs 4.5 lakh was a real challenge since most companies offered placements to those scoring above 60 per cent in academics.



Merchant navy lucrative career option
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
A dearth of manpower in the shipping industry worldwide coupled with better competency level and reputation of Indian seafarers abroad has now led international companies to look for students and officers for recruitments in the city.

Shipping industry experts claim that lesser sailing period and lucrative salaries is now also leading the students to consider merchant navy as a career option.

In an interview to the Tribune, Captain Pankaj Sood, deputy director and general manager, Tanker Group, MMS Company Limited, narrated how joining merchant navy is no longer an arduous task instead is a fascination for youth. He, along with Captain Akihiko Abe, managing director of Tanker Operation MMS, and other executives of the company are on a visit to the tricity to meet other seafarers.

He said shipping companies are now recruiting Class XII passouts, who could then receive training from either institutes approved by the Director General (Shipping), Government of India, like Applied Research Institute (ARI) or else receive internal training offered by the shipping companies.

“Earlier the duration of sailing for a fresh entrant was nearly five months at a stretch, which has come down to two months followed by a break, which is a great relief. Even the initial salaries are far better now and have increased nearly 2.5 times,” said Capt Sood.

For a fresh entrant, who aims to make a career in the merchant navy, $400 to $500 is paid and later $3,800 to $4,000 per month, which they are offered at the age of 22, said industry experts.

“After eight years, the salary scale reaches close to $12,000 per month once the post of captain is attained,” he added.

“We are aiming to connect with other shipping industry experts and offer them better placements. Additionally, we are also aiming to employ more fresh graduates and Class XII passouts for the company,” said Captain Kahlon, who looks after the company’s operations in Chandigarh.



PU dental college to expand
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Dental College and Hospital, Panjab University, will now expand to a 200-chair dental hospital. According to PU officials, the number of patients have increased in PU’s dental hospital from 7,000 in 2006 to 65,000 in 2010.

The officials said to meet the norms set by the Dental Council of India (DCI) and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, a new dental clinic block has also been added.

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad will inaugurate the clinical Block II on January 17.

The dental hospital will have oral maxillo facial clinic with independent major and minor operation theatre, conservative and endodontic clinic, periodontic clinic and public health dentistry clinic, along with their attached laboratories.

The dental hospital would be equipped with facility of microsurgery and chair side radiovisiography in future, claimed university officials.



Nepal president at PGI convocation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Nepal President Dr Ram Baran Yadav will be the chief guest on the occasion of annual convocation of the PGI to be held on February 4.

Yadav, an alumnus of the PGI, was awarded with a degree in internal medicine in 1985. Thereafter, his son, Dr Chandra Mohan Yadav, and daughter-in-law also did their post graduation from the PGI.

It will be Yadav’s first visit to the city after he was elected President of Nepal in 2008.



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