C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


It gets worse for patients at PGI
OT technicians extend strike indefinitely
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The crisis gripping the PGI as a fallout of the strike by the OT Technical Staff Association deepened today as the association decided to extend its three-day strike for an indefinite period, sending hundreds of patients waiting for surgery into a tizzy.

The strike was extended after negotiations between the PGI authorities and leaders of the association failed. As the strike entered its third day, doctors had to postpone dozens of scheduled surgical operations once again.

Compounding the problems of the PGI authorities, the PGI Welfare Association refused to handle the work of OT technicians during the strike period. “This is not our job and we are not fit to handle technical work,” said Lakhwinder Singh, president of the PGI Nursing Welfare Association. “Any mistake by a member of the nursing staff while handling the technical job can put the life of a patient in danger,” he added.

At the main operation theatre complex in the Nehru hospital building, only 19 of the of 31 listed surgical operations were carried out today. For managing things at the emergency ward, the PGI authorities had to shift surgical operations pertaining to gynaecolgy and orthopaedics to the new emergency operation theatre.

Fourteen-year-old Deepa had to wait for two days for being operated upon for her leg, that was crushed in an accident on Wednesday. She said she was asked to get ready for surgery on Thursday morning, but it was postponed in the morning due to the strike. She was again asked yesterday to wait till Saturday and fortunately, the surgery was conducted successfully today. Talking about the decision of OT technicians to go on an indefinite strike, association general secretary Manoj Kumar said after repeated negotiations with the authorities failed, it was decided that the technicians would not join duty.

PGI Deputy Director Dr Surjit Singh said five of the six demands had financial implications and would need clearance of the ministry. For the main demand, pertaining to parity of pay with counterparts at the AIIMS New Delhi, the PGI administration had been actively pursuing for the resolution of this and other issues, he said.



Pradip Mehra on way out?
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva/TNS

Chandigarh, February 5
After stirring up several controversies, UT Adviser Pradip Mehra seems to be now looking for a safe exit after completing almost three-and-a-half years. Speculation is rife that Mehra, a 1975-batch IAS officer, who took over as UT Adviser on September 30, 2007, is now on his way out.

A highly placed source in New Delhi said Mehra was expected to be soon replaced by KK Sharma, a 1983-batch IAS officer.

There is speculation over the reasons behind his expected transfer. While one section in the UT Administration claimed that Mehra had written to the authorities, expressing his desire to be transferred, another section believed that there was general dissatisfaction over his performance.

Mehra completed three years in September 2010 and, according to one source, had expressed a desire to be transferred by December 31, 2010.

When contacted, Mehra, however, refused to comment on his own transfer. It was widely believed that Mehra, who hails from this city, would retire from this post in March 2012. During the tenure of Gen (retd) SF Rodrigues as UT Administrator, Mehra had been completely sidelined due to their differences.

But Mehra’s performance remained lack lacklusture even thereafter. Despite having a transformational assignment, with both an opportunity and the authority to transform the city, Mehra’s achievements are open to question. There is also dismay in some sections of the UT Administration at his confining himself to being a spectator to key issues, including mishandling of the RTE Act and the controversial EWS clause in schools.

Mehra was also in the news for not managing differences between his subordinates, especially former UT Finance Secretary Sanjay Kumar and Home Secretary Ram Niwas, and also himself and Kumar, all which combined to adversely affect the functioning of the UT Administration.



Wrong medication claims another life
Panchkula man dies after getting shots at private clinic
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 5
Anirudh Sharma (35), who runs a computer business in Sector 20, died following the alleged administration of wrong medication by a private medial practitioner here late last night.

The victim had approached Dr Jagdish Goel, a private medical practitioner in Sector 12 A, here after he suffered bouts of pain in his lower abdomen.

Within minutes of being administered two injections of painkillers, the victim died on reaching home.

He was taken to another private hospital where the doctors declared him brought dead due to suspected wrong medication.

Rajkumar Sharma, father of Anirudh Sharma, alleged that his son along with his wife had visited the doctor after he suffered pain in the stomach last evening.

He alleged that it was gross negligence on part of the medical practitioner, as the latter gave three injections without carrying out any diagnostic test.

On the other hand, Dr Jagdish Goel refuted the allegations saying Anirudh was suffering from renal calculi (stone) and had been undergoing treatment for the past over six years. He claimed that the patient was given regular treatment and was at the hospital for around 20 minutes after being administered two injections.

He said the patient had a massive vomiting at his house, resulting in his death. He said the patient’s family had been receiving treatment from his clinic in the past as they were residents of the same sector before moving to Sector 20.

The incident came to light after the family members of Anirudh, the only breadwinner of the family, went to the police station in Sector 20 and sought action against the doctor.

The police registered a daily diary report under Section 174, IPC. A post-mortem examination was conducted at the General Hospital, Sector 6, today.

Sharma, a retired PWD and B&R employee, claimed that Anirudh could not bear the pain as soon as they returned home and again approached the doctor, who gave him two more injections.

However, Anirudh fell unconscious after reaching home and was taken to another private hospital where he was declared brought dead.



Road Tax
 Registering vehicle gets dearer
Smriti Sharma Vasudeva
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
There seems to be no end to commuters’ woes. Residents of the city will now have to shell out much more to get their vehicles registered following a notification that was issued yesterday.

With the road tax being revised, residents will now have to wait longer to get registration certificates even after paying more.

While the UT’s Registering and Licensing Authority (RLA) is yet to update its software, “Vahan”, which is used to issue registration certificates, the UT administration has revised the road tax after two decades on the pattern of its neighbouring states based on the value of a vehicle. As of now, vehicles registration was done according to the seating capacity. Now, since the slab system has been introduced, the software needs to be updated.

Though the authorities claimed that the software could not be updated in advance, as the notification was issued only last evening, revision of the road tax was approved by the UT Administrator almost a week ago.

The software, “Vahan”, has been developed by the National Informatics Centre (NIC) and needs to be updated.

“We could not have revealed the information to the NIC without a UT administration’s notification. After the notification was issued yesterday, we sent a letter to representatives of the NIC for updating the software. They have assured us that this would be done within a week,” said Vinod P Kavle, Registering and Licensing Officer (RLO).

The proposal to revise the road tax was first mooted almost six months ago in September last year. Thereafter, the slabs were revised and a fresh proposal was sent again to the UT Administrator.

“However, it has been over a week that the Administrator had approved the proposal and sent it to the UT finance department for vetting as per procedure, leaving the department with enough time to chair a meeting with representatives of the NIC in this regard,” said an official.



Trees make way for road

Trees along a road at Phase I in Mohali being axed for widening of the road
Trees along a road at Phase I in Mohali being axed for widening of the road. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, February 5
Development in Mohali is coming at the cost of its green cover. To widen the road from Phase 1 (Franco chowk) to Sector 74, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) today started cutting fully grown trees along the road.

Over the next few days, about 300 trees would be cut to pave way for widening of the road, that would ultimately link traffic coming from Sector 40, Chandigarh, to the Kharar-Landran road after passing trough the industrial sectors, 74 and 75.

GMADA officials disclosed that the road was vital, keeping in view the load of traffic. The officials said various ways were tried to save the trees, but it was ultimately decided to widen the existing road. — TNS



Right to justice Bill soon, says Moily
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
“A Bill ensuring the right to justice for all is expected to be introduced in Parliament in the next five to six months,” said Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, who visited Congress Bhawan in the city today.

He was here to interact with Congress workers on the directions issued by Sonia Gandhi. Addressing the issue of corruption in the country, Moily said the government was taking the issue of corruption very seriously.

Asserting the government’s zero-tolerance towards corruption, Moily said the Centre was very keen on fast-tracking such cases. “A special law dealing with corruption cases would ensure justice in such cases within a year,” he added.

Coming back to the right to justice Bill, Moily said that the Bill would take care of economic, social and political justice. “Justice has to be made available and accessible to everyone,” he reiterated.

Referring to the electoral system, Moily said it was the Congress, which gave an opportunity to Indians to participate in elections 63 years back. On electoral reforms, the minister said it was a national agenda and not restricted to any single political party.

The Law Minister said the government's focus was on decreasing the pendency rate of cases in various courts in the country.

Asked about Haryana’s persistent demand for a separate high court at Chandigarh, Moily said earlier Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had written to him and the matter was pending.“Both the states, Punjab and Haryana, have to agree to this proposition first. We also need to talk to the Punjab and Haryana High Court on this issue,” he said.

Earlier, he told Congressmen that his ministry was trying to evolve a system whereby India would be able to produce the best lawyers and advocates at the global level on the lines of quality IT professionals.


Students not willing to wear black robe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Panjab University’s annual convocation ceremony on February 14 this year will witness a fellow boycotting the “traditional black robe”.Due to the delay in finalising the colour of the convocation robe, which was listed at the Senate meeting agenda of October 2010, Dr Dharinder Tayal, along with certain students, have decided not to wear the usual black convocation dress.

Tayal, who is a member of both the Senate and Syndicate governing bodies of the university, raised the issue of adopting a convocation robe colour that suits “our culture and weather” at the Senate meeting twice last year.

Later, the Vice-Chancellor formed a seven-member committee to address the issue.

While PU’s annual convocation is scheduled for February 14, meeting of the seven-member committee is pending for February 18.

Last year, certain Cabinet Ministers in the Centre raised the issue of changing the convocation robe colour from black to a colour that suits “our culture and weather”.

“I will not be wearing the black convocation robe. If authorities will pressurise anyone and later the robe is removed by that person while the ceremony is in progress it will lead to an awkward situation,” said Tayal.

Union Minister Ambika Soni and UT administrator Shivraj Patil will be present for PU’s convocation.



Students unite for Gauba’s removal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Alleging that the dental college director had passed ‘derogatory’ remarks against the students and non-teaching staff on numerous occasions in the past, certain students of HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital were today joined by students organisations from various colleges, seeking removal of GK Gauba, director-principal of the college.

During a press conference jointly organised by the Panjab University Students Union (PUSU), Students Organisation of India (SOI), Students Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) and certain units of Revolutionary Youth Association (RYA), students said ‘derogatory’ remarks were passed by the dental college director in the past as well.

The student leaders alleged that besides the issue of misbehaving with the intern recently, the dental college students had several other grievances against director’s behaviour.

Members of the RYA and PEC said demands of the dental college students were genuine and any faculty member mistreating the students must be removed from the post.

Despite attempts GK Gauba, college director, could not be contacted for comments.



Allegations by dental institute Panel to submit report today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The inquiry committee formed to look into the allegations levelled by HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences and Hospital, Panjab University, is likely to be submit its report to the Vice-Chancellor tomorrow.

According to sources, a judicial inquiry is likely to follow next in the case. “Since the issue has now been taken up by various students’ organisations who are disrupting peace on the campus, the university may seek legal opinion in the case. Several arguments have been presented before the inquiry committee in favour of Gauba and certain others who were against him,” said a university official.



Protest against dept head
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
MBA students of University Business School (UBS) today marched from Vice-Chancellor’s office to his residence, expressing resentment against certain students of Masters in e-commerce (Me-Com) of their department, who had levelled allegations of ‘discrimination’ by their department chairperson.

These students, who had a letter signed by more than 85 students of their department, claimed that their director, Dinesh Gupta, was falsely being implicated by certain Me-Com students, who never participated in any department activity.

Certain girl students of Me-Com, UBS, however, alleged that they didn’t get adequate facilities and had been raising this issue since long.

“It’s not an issue about one department alone, there may be several other students who are not being given proper facilities and their voice is being suppressed by their departments. Our director has not been justified in passing comments on us,” said a student.

Students of Me-Com had forwarded a complaint to the Vice-Chancellor on Friday alleging the use of ‘abusive language’ by him and claiming that they were discriminated against the MBA students of the same department.

The tiff between the UBS students continued at the press conference held at the student centre today, which was organised by the PU Students Council. The MBA students of UBS protested against the allegations levelled by Me-Com students outside the Students Council committee room.

“We have been working hard for the placements and other activities. Students of Me-Com never came forward to contribute for even major events like international conference held in December, 2010,” said Kavita, an MBA student.

Meanwhile, UBS faculty members continued to express their solidarity with the director over the issue and claimed that no mistreatment was meted out to any student.

“Allegations being levelled by students against faculty members are baseless,” said Dinesh Gupta, chairperson, UBS. 



Fire safety measures lacking in 4 colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The two government colleges located in Sector 11 — Post-Graduate Government College and Post-Graduate Government College for Girls — have been found severely wanting in their preparedness to fight fire.

A team of fire officials today conducted a surprise check at these colleges and found fire safety equipment missing. The team carried out similar inspections in two other colleges, including Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, and a school, St Kabir in Sector 26.

The team was satisfied with the fire safety equipment installed at St Kabir School.

According to fire officials, not a single fire extinguisher was found installed at the two government colleges.

The team also found violations of the fire safety norms by blocking the corridors with records and old furniture at these colleges.

The same was the case with the other two colleges in Sector 26. The fire officials said only four fire extinguishers were found installed in the two colleges. Even these were found out of order.

The team will prepare a detailed report on the state of the fire safety measures in the five institutions and submit it to the MC Chief Fire Officer for further action against the violators.



ASP’s vehicle hit by car
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
The official vehicle of ASP (central) Deshraj Singh was hit by a speeding Swift Desire car being driven by a girl near the grain market in Sector 26 today. The ASP was not in his vehicle and no one injured in the accident.

The police has registered a case of rash and negligent driving against the driver and launched a hunt for her. The number of the vehicle has been traced.



Girl commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
A 20-year-old girl of Maloya village allegedly committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance here today. The victim, Manpreet Kaur, had been suffering from depression, which forced her to take the step, the police said.

Her father had been hospitalised owing to an injury and there was no one at home when the girl consumed poison.

Her brother found her in an unconscious state when he returned home. He took her to the GMCH, Sector 32.

The hospital authorities informed the police after finding poison in her body. The police has ruled out foul play and begun inquest proceedings under Section 174, CrPC.

Newborn’s body found

The body of a newborn girl was found in a garbage dump in Mauli Jagran here today. The body found wrapped in a red “salwar”.

The police later shifted it to the GMSH, Sector 16, where a post-mortem examination will be conducted.

The police has registered a case under Section 318 (abandoning newborn resulting in death), IPC, at the Mani Majra police station.



Carlifters’ gang busted
Three arrested, 27 vehicles recovered
Tribune News Service

Stolen vehicles recovered by the police at the Civil Hospital in Phase VI in Mohali on Saturday
Stolen vehicles recovered by the police at the Civil Hospital in Phase VI in Mohali on Saturday. Tribune photo: Vinay Malik

Mohali, February 5
The local police today displayed 27 vehicles including MUVs valued at about Rs 1.46 crore which were recovered from members of an interstate gang of carlifters busted on Saturday.

Mohali SSP GPS Bhullar said the vehicles were of different makes including Škoda, Mahindra Scorpio, Mahindra Bolero, Tata Safari, Tata Indigo, Tata Indica, Chevrolet Tavera, Suzuki Swift Dzire, Suzuki Zen and Maruti 800 besides a tractor.

The CIA wing of the police received a tipoff that four suspects, identified later as Surjit Singh, 42, his son Pawan Kumar, 19, and Devinder Singh alias Simpy, 26, all residents of Faridkot, and Gurmit Singh, 27, a resident of Jagraon, used to steal vehicles from various cities and towns and sell them by preparing forged documents. Of the four Surjit was nabbed yesterday.

While pursuing the case, the police arrested two other suspects involved in the gang - Balbir Singh, 28, a resident of Jalandhar who has a computer science degree, along with Danny Kumar.

Surjit told the cops during preliminary investigations that the gang members used to conduct a survey of the targeted area and steal vehicles by breaking open their steering locks.

Bhullar states about 31 cases of vehicle lifting had been filed against Surjit, Pawan and Danny during the past few months in Chandigarh, Panchkula, Faridkot, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Amritsar. “They are absconders in many cases and have not appeared in courts on their respective dates and thus wanted by the police”, he added.

One of the suspects, Gurmit, has already undergone a prison term in 2006-09 at Jalandhar jail in a case involving violation of the Narcotics Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act filed in Sidhwan Bait.

During investigations it was found the suspects had links with other interstate gangs of robbers and other criminals. The police is trying to get the genuine engine and chassis numbers of the vehicles it recovered verified by the National Crime Control Bureau. 



Death of 3 youths in accident four years ago
Admn’s engineering ‘blunder’ stays
Tribune News Service

Family members of road accident victims light candles at the roundabout, separating sectors 3 and 4 in Chandigarh on Saturday.
Family members of road accident victims light candles at the roundabout, separating sectors 3 and 4 in Chandigarh on Saturday. Tribune photo: S Chandan

Chandigarh, February 5
Three promising youths on the threshold of their careers were killed on this day four years ago. On February 5, 2007, six occupants of a Honda City car couldn’t navigate the roundabout on the road separating Sectors 3 and 4 in pitch darkness following which their car rammed into the rotary, killing three of them instantly.

As the aggrieved family members of the victims supported by an NGO, Arrive Safe, held a candle-lit march at the rotary today, spreading the message of road safety, they said the administration had still not woken up to the ‘fatal intersection’ as engineering defects still remained.

Karam Sekhon, Gurjesh Virk and Arjun Bhardwaj, all under 30, were killed when the car had rammed into the rotary.

Ramneek Sekhon, mother of deceased Karam Sekhon, told Chandigarh Tribune that the killer roundabout was still there and the administration had failed to removed its defects.

“It’s been four years since I lost my son and all that the administration has done is to install reflectors at the roundabout. There is a defect in the median on the road which makes it difficult to navigate the rotary in the dark. It’s a blunder by the engineering department,” she said.

Tears welled up her eyes as she recalled the tragedy and the trauma faced by her family when they first heard the news of the mishap.

Girish, an international golfer, had recently completed his MBA from Scotland and come to India then. He represented India in several tournaments.

Karam Singh Sekhon was settled in Canada after completing his MBA. He had come to India only a month back then. Sekhon was the eldest of the two sons of his parents. His father was a senior officer in PUDA before he joined a private company.

Arjun was pursuing his MBA from Mumbai and was to complete the degree in June that year, but destiny had other plans for him.



Patient’s death
Family refuses to file complaint
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
Following the death of 65-year old Surjeet Kaur of Mohali reportedly due to the security rehearsal by the police department ahead of the Nepal President’s visit, the police said they had not received any formal complaint from the family.

Surjit Kaur was being shifted to the PGI from Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16, on Thursday at 5.15 pm when the ambulance carrying her got stuck in a traffic jam for over 15 minutes. The woman was later declared brought dead at the PGI.

DIG (headquarters) Alok Kumar said in the absence of a complaint, no inquiry could be marked.

The family members of 65-year old Surjeet Kaur claimed they had been stuck in the traffic jam near Lala Lajpat Rai Bhawan in Sector 15 and Surjeet Kaur was declared brought dead at the PGI.



Where strike is a regular visitor
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 5
It seems that strikes have become the order of the day at the three main government hospitals, the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) and the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital (GMSH), that cater to thousands of patients pouring in from the region.

No matter what the strikes mean for the patients, the authorities at the three medical institutions have virtually become immune to protest by its employees.

The striking employees blame the authorities for not implementing their long-pending demands, that have already been acceded to.

It was hardly two months ago that the patients at PGI were held to ransom when sweepers resorted to strike, leaving the hospital under heaps of garbage.

The sweepers had to go on strike when they were protesting over delay in salary, that led to a scuffle between them and security staff.

Now, the PGI OT Technical Association has been on strike as its demand pertaining to parity of pay on lines with their counterparts at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, was not met since 2001 even as the PGI authorities were convinced that the demand was genuine.

An assurance by the authorities at the time of the one-day strike on the issue on May 17, 2007, also proved futile, claimed Manoj Kumar, a union leader. Close on their heels, the GMCH Nurses Welfare Association has been on agitation, wearing black badges since Thursday, demanding implementation of Central pay scales and recruitment of staff.

While doctors at the GMCH were getting Central pay scales, the nurses were deprived of it for the past seven years, they said.

Ironically, the scheme of outsourcing jobs (implemented to keep away regular employees) has gone haywire, leaving patients in the lurch. At the GMSH, the three-day strike since Thursday by contractual staff at the hospital during the morning hours caused harassment to patients.

The overcrowded OPDs proved a nightmare for patients as security personnel (deployed to regulate the crowd) were sitting in dharna against the dismissal of four nurses.

“Jobs of the staff, including security guards, ward attendants, nurses and other paramedical staff, had been outsourced, presuming that it would provide better services and reduce the hassle of managing these employees,” said a senior official in the health department. However, it had become a headache for everybody as there was strike in the hospitals on one pretext or other. The outsourcing of jobs, in fact, has resulted in the exploitation of employees.

While many employees at the GMSH had been paid a meagre salary, with a hike as low as Rs 2 in five years, minimum wages at the GMCH had not been increased since October 2009.



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