C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


A year after being operational, CCTVs fail to click
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Almost a year after the hi-tech CCTV cameras installed at 19 traffic intersections started to operate, the multi-crore project of the Chandigarh Traffic police has proved to be an utter failure, with both the UT police as well as the UT Administration fumbling at every step for effective implementation and proper utilisation of these hi-tech cameras.

Automatic challaning software soon

An automatic challaning software, which costs Rs 18 lakh, will soon be installed which will enable challaning for serious offences such as jumping of red light. The software has to be installed by the engineering wing of the UT administration and we have been requesting them to install it. The UT Administration has already stopped payment to the company Zicom Limited for its failure to provide cameras equipped with adequate technology. — UT SP (Traffic) HS Doon

While the cameras are still not able to challan violators who jump red light since the “automatic sensory challaning software” is still awaited, a majority of the cameras have remained non-functional. All that the police has done is to challan over 22,000 violators for an offence as minor as “crossing a zebra crossing” while waiting at a red signal.

The much-fancied project was first mooted in 2004. After a delay of six years, the cameras were finally installed at 19 traffic intersections early last year with challaning commencing in May.

Discrepancies in functioning of CCTVs

Maximum number of zebra crossing violators challaned: Between May 2010 and January 2011, the UT Traffic Police has issued a total of 23,519 challans making use of these cameras. However, 90 per cent of the challans -21,000 of them- have been made only to those violating zebra crossings. There are no challans being issued for serious traffic offences such as red light jumping or “overspeeding” as the “automatic challaning software”, which will capture these violations, is still awaited. The cameras can neither capture a moving vehicle nor zoom in on a moving vehicle thus enabling the cameras to only spot low-key offences. The challans are being sent to the violators on their addresses by post, which can be challenged by viewing the footage available with the police.

Money going down the drain

While the original cost of the cameras is Rs 4.4 crore, the UT administration has spent an additional Rs 68 lakh as additional expenditure on these cameras. The figure includes an amount of Rs 3.3 lakh incurred on the installation of a hi-tech control room at the Traffic Lines in Sector 29, Rs 40 lakh as bills to the contractor, and another Rs 10 lakh towards the payment of advertising bills. But all this expenditure has failed to provide the much-needed deterrence to traffic violators as these cameras are unable to capture serious offences like jumping of the red light.

Only two operators at control room

In a glaring example of poor utilisation of resources, the UT police has failed to empower the hi-tech CCTV control room in traffic lines in Sector 29, as there are only two operators manually issuing challans by zooming in cameras to spot violators. Police sources said at least 15 operators are required to challan vehicles and the short-staffed control room is thus ill equipped to make use of the cameras.

Non-operational cameras

All the 19 cameras are never operational at one time owing to technical failure. A majority of the challans are being issued at only six of the 19 intersections where CCTVs have been installed. (See box). Moreover, the cameras are never operational at night. The police is also unable to challan outstation vehicles as they do not have any software to trace outstation registration numbers.



Ram Niwas courts another controversy
Official residence of HS de-earmarked
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Courting yet another controversy, UT Home Secretary (HS) Ram Niwas has come into spotlight once again with eyebrows being raised on his questionably de-earmarking his Sector 16 official residence and allotting it to himself by name.

This means he will continue to retain the same accommodation even after he demits office and returns to his parent Haryana cadre.

High Court seeks list of such houses

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the UT Administration “to furnish the list of all those officers/occupants to whom ‘earmarked’ government houses were allotted and who, even after the expiry of their official term which entitled them for such earmarked house, have been allowed to retain the said house after ‘de-earmarking’” on March 7 when the case comes up for hearing. The court has also sought an explanation on what capacity the house was initially allotted and the number of officers senior to such allottee belonging the parent cadre were still awaiting allotment on the date of de-earmarking of the house. 

Sources said Ram Niwas, who had been residing in a government accommodation in Sector 11 prior to his being deputed to the UT Administration, had then shifted to a bigger Type VI government house in Sector 16, which was earmarked for the UT Home Secretary.

Government rules permit government officers on deputation to the UT Administration to be allocated accommodation that is one level higher than what is entitled to them in their parent cadre.

Ram Niwas, who was a Secretary-rank officer in Haryana at the time of his appointment as UT Home Secretary, picked up the next rank of Principal Secretary in September 2009 while on his current tenure. This automatically entitled him to a Type VI accommodation. However, soon after his promotion, Ram Niwas de-earmarked his Sector 16 house otherwise earmarked for a Home Secretary and got it allotted to himself by name.

Acknowledging that his house had indeed been de-earmarked, Ram Niwas said he was not alone in doing so and that this decision to de-earmark his accommodation had been approved by the UT Administrator, who is also Governor of Punjab. Incidentally, Ram Niwas is also Secretary, House Allotment, which means he would have been instrumental in de-earmarking his house. Ram Niwas said “over 100 officers from Punjab and Haryana along with even judicial officers were in the same category”.

However, Section 11 (d) of the UT Home Department’s house allotment rules dated June 28, 1996, clearly oppose such de-earmarking of government accommodation. “When a government employee in occupation of earmarked accommodation of the general pool ceases to hold the post for which the said accommodation is earmarked, he shall be allotted a house of his entitled category under his sub-rule subject to the condition that the employee continues to be posted at Chandigarh, Panchkula or Mohali, except the district-level offices or those offices which are not state-level offices at Panchkula or Mohali.”

A senior officer, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said, “I think under the existing rules, the Secretary should clear his official accommodation at the end of his term.”

The issue is also relevant in the context that a sizable number of officers of the Punjab and Haryana cadre are awaiting for their legitimate allotment, while others are occupying even two houses.



One killed, 40 injured as bus falls into gorge
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 22
One person was killed and at least 40 others were injured when a bus carrying them skidded into a 150-metre deep gorge near Notla Health Resort, about 30 km from here, this evening.

According to information, Ratti Ram (55) was killed on the spot while 40 others were injured in the incident. The condition of five injured was stated to be serious who have been referred to the PGI, Chandigarh.

Victims said they were returning on the bus to Dharampur Colony (ward number 7) in Pinjore from Khoi village, located across the Kaushalya River, after attending a marriage function around 7 pm. After learning about the incident, residents of Khoi village immediately rushed to the spot and started the rescue operations.

The first batch of the injured was rushed to the General Hospital, Sector 6, in a Haryana roadways bus passing through the area.

Meanwhile, ambulances from Pinjore, Kalka and other areas also rushed to the spot and brought the victims to the General Hospital here. The body of Ratti Ram was kept in the mortuary for the postmortem to be conducted tomorrow.

Sources further said that the driver of the bus (HR-68A-2205) failed to negotiate a blind curve on the road on the hilly terrain near the resort and as a result the bus rolled down into the deep gorge.

The driver of the bus reportedly fled from the spot immediately after the incident. Residents of Khoi village had informed about the mishap to hospital authorities here.

The authorities here immediately made arrangements in the emergency to treat the injured.

Deputy Commissioner Ashima Garg, SDM KK Kalson and INLD MLA from Kalka Pardeep Chaudhary also reached the hospital to take stock of the situation.


A week after stabbing incident, SSP visits GSSS-45
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Almost a week after the shocking mayhem at Government Senior Secondary School (GSSS), Sector 45, UT Senior Superintendent of Police Naunihal Singh visited the school today to “review” the situation.

Interestingly, this incident once again highlighted the increasing lawlessness among students, not only the meeting agenda failed to highlight the issue, but even the police officials didn’t meet the students or even tried “counsel” them.

While the meeting had participation from staff members, Parent Teacher Association members and Government Teachers’ Union, there was no student representative.

Students said when it was a student who was the key target and accused may involve students, then this interaction minus student representation had a little meaning.

The fact perturbed the teachers as well. “They assured us safety and asked us to work without fear. The main problem was lack of fear among students. This incident may be blamed on outsiders, but it had involvement of our student.

Similarly, several incidents in the past are of students bashing up teachers.

We wanted if not the SSP then one of the officials accompanying him should have spoken to students so that they should have been scared but that never happened,” said a senior school teacher.

“Earlier, we were thinking to get students to speak with the SSP, but couldn’t get the courage to ask him. With designation like his, he may not have liked it,” added another teacher.

Interestingly, former DPI (S) PK Sharma had asked area SHO to visit schools on weekly basis to instill “fear” among students, but the plan never materialised.

Meanwhile, teachers apprised SSP of delay in reaction of the police on the day of the incident and submitted a memorandum demanding police support.

“We have asked the SSP to get police patrolling at the time of commencement and conclusion of school hour, especially in 20 schools identified as sensitive by the UT education department. We have provided him a complete background and fate of various incidents which have brought teacher security under the scanner and he has promised full support,” said Vinod Sharma, president, Government Teachers’ Union. 



Airport parking staff charging vehicles for dropoffs
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
If you thought that dropping off a friend, a colleague or a relative at the city’s airport costs nothing, except what one spends on fuel and the vehicle’s wear and tear, you are wrong. Visitors to the airport are being forced to shell out Rs 25 by the parking lot contractor, even for stopping for a minute to drop off passengers.

While dropping facilities are available free of cost at airports all over the country, this airport appears to be an exception as the parking contractor here has been charging money for the purpose. What is worse is that no amount of reasoning works with the often rude parking attendants who man the barricaded entrance to the airport.

In contrast to other airports where parking attendants stand at the entrance of the lots allotted to them, the contractor here has set up a barricade on the lone road entering the airport compound and each and every vehicle is stopped there for buying a ticket. This reporter who had gone to the airport to drop a friend on Monday was also stopped and asked to pay Rs 25 as “parking charges”. When she objected and told the attendant she had only come to drop off a passenger, he insisted the “entry charges” were a “must” and all vehicle drivers entering the premises had to pay up. With cars piling up behind and impatient drivers honking their horns, apparently in a hurry to drop off their passengers, this reporter was left with no choice but to fork out the money.

When contacted Chandigarh airport director HS Toor said the contractor had no business to charge money from people who were not using the parking facility. He assured he would look into the matter.

The parking contractor, Vimal Chauhan, also admitted what the attendant did was wrong but tried to justify the latter’s act on the plea that some “unscrupulous” drivers lied about dropping passengers and keeping their vehicles parked for long durations. Though such incidents cannot be ruled out, there can be no justification in presuming all drivers will be lying.

Chauhan also was unable to provide a plausible reason as to why his attendants had put the barricade at the airport entrance at the driveway rather than the parking lot. Incidentally, his contract to run the parking lot ends on February 28.

Taxis too charge arbitrarily
Ruchika Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The exorbitant fares charged by the Chandigarh Airport Taxi Union from visitors to and from the city’s airport have become a major source of nuisance. Their rates are almost thrice of what a commuter would pay for a radio cab! The taxi drivers near the airport allegedly work as a union, which fixes its own diktats and consumers have no option but to comply with their (arbitrary) demands. Irrespective of the distance, the minimum these taxi operators/drivers charge is Rs 300-350 (depending on your bargaining ability) for a trip to the city.

R Sood, a city resident, was forced to shell out Rs 350 for a ride from the airport to the Industrial Area - a distance of only 5 km. “On the other hand, for a trip from the Industrial Area to Panchkula (a distance of 7 km) in a radio cab I had to pay only Rs 190. It’s time the authorities in Chandigarh rein in these taxi operators,” she said.



Now, air your grievances against MC on Facebook
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The municipal corporation has launched an “official” page on Facebook for posted an official page on which city residents can post their grievances on any shortcomings in civic amenities after the report ‘Laptops+Councillors=Error’ published in The Tribune on Tuesday. The initiative was launched by mayor Ravinder Pal Singh.

Civic officials pointed out the corporation spent Rs 18.75 lakh, rather than Rs 80 lakh, on providing laptops to city councillors, none of whose official email ID has been registered on the MC’s website. The Facebook page http:/www.facebook.com/Municipal <<http://www.facebook.com/Municipal>> , with a link to its home website http:mcchandigarh.nic.in <http://mcchandigarh.nic.in> <<http://mcchandigarh.nic.in/>, will act as a direct interface between public, officials and councillors of the corporation.

An official said from now onwards any one could lodge a complaint and share his views directly with the corporation concerning developmental projects and civic amenities. As and when any grievance will be sent by the resident through Facebook, the department concerned will be asked to sort it out within a fortnight.

A group of IT professionals are even planning to voluntarily organize a free computer training camp for all councillors during the next MC general house meeting to “make them tech savvy”. Puneet Sachdeva, who is part of this group, said; “We’ll assemble at the MC office Sector 17 with our laptops and internet connections and offer free computer training to all councilors”.



Gunmen beat up property dealer in Sector 37
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
High drama was witnessed in Sector 37 market late in the evening when gunmen of a Punjab MLA bashed up a property dealer, who was sitting in a gypsy with his mother.

Simarjeet Singh sustained minor injuries after Mandeep Singh, his business partner and also a property dealer, beat him up along with some gunmen, believed to be of a MLA.

The police pursued both the parties to reach a compromise. Mandeep stated to the police that Simarjeet Singh owed him Rs 2 lakh and also took away his gypsy but never returned it to him. The police was called after a violent scuffle ensued between Simarjeet and the gunmen.



NRI alleges harassment by traffic police
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
A Canada-based NRI has alleged harassment at the hands of Chandigarh Traffic police. In his complaint to Dilbag Singh, UT SP (traffic), alleged that he was stopped by the traffic police at the lightpoint leading to the cricket stadium and was subjected to unnecessary humiliation by the cops.

“I was told that my number plate is faulty as a ‘C’ was missing. The traffic cop then asked me for a bribe of Rs 1,000 and as I refused, he misbehaved with me following which I called the police control room,” he said. “To harass me further, he wrote the name of my friend Randhir Singh in the challan while it was me who was driving the vehicle,” he said.



Sukhna Lake
No solutions yet for repairing leaking floodgates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
A solution for repairing the leaking floodgates of Sukhna Lake is yet to flow out of the UT Administration. Its initial plans of getting the gates repaired from the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) have proved to be a bootless errand.

As the “Save Sukhna” case came up for resumed hearing before the Punjab and Haryana and Haryana High Court, the Administration informed the Bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Augustine George Masih that the BBMB had refused to repair the floodgates.

The administration also filed an affidavit through the UT Superintending Engineering (SE) of construction circle-II. The affidavit said the administration had sent a communication to the BBMB authorities requesting for the maintenance and repair of these gates, with a view to repair the leakage of floodgates before the onset of the monsoon season.

In response, the BBMB authorities said they were short of experts and could not help them at this point. As such, the Administration should act at its own level.

Taking the reply on record, the Bench asked the counsel for the Union of India, Onkar Singh Batalvi, to get instructions from the BBMB authorities if some of their officers could assist the court on the matter. It will come up for further hearing on March 14.

The amicus curiae or the friend of the court, Tanu Bedi, had on the previous date of hearing asserted the core cause of depleting-water level was partial break down of the floodgates. Though the problem was persisting, the Administration had not made efforts to rectify the fault.

Bedi had made it clear that the lake would soon lose what it has gained in the rains due to the leaking floodgates. Bedi had added the leakage in the floodgates was reported in 2003-04. Calling for the formulation of a concrete plan to block the leakage, she underscored the need for initiation of action within two weeks.



Army, paramilitary meet
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The annual Army and Central Police Organisations (CPO) conference was held at Headquarters Western Command, Chandimandir, today.

Senior officers from Western Command and various Central police organisations and paramilitary forces based in the region attended the meet. The conference was presided over by Lieutenant General MS Buttar, Chief of Staff Western Command. The agenda included discussions on issues of mutual importance to further enhance co-operation and effectiveness between the Army and CPOs like the Border Security Force, Central Reserve Police Force and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force.



HUDA seals showroom in Sec 10

Panchkula, February 22
A team of HUDA officials, accompanied by a police contingent, today sealed a showroom in Sector 10 as allottee had reportedly failed to deposit the cost of the land.

Tempers ran high as HUDA officials, led by Yogesh Sharma and Inder Singh Malik, Sub Divisional Officers and Naib Tehseldar, respectively, arrived to seal the crockery showroom. Even though the allottees protested against HUDA move, the officials maintained that the allottees had failed to deposit ` 1.2 cr with HUDA. — TNS



Photography Competition
Suresh, Sameer bag first prize
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
The entries of the photography competition at the Rose Festival- 2011 was judged at the Chandigarh College of Architecture, Sector-12, Chandigarh, today.

Swadesh Talwar, Prem Singh, Navneet Saxena and Trilochan Singh were the judges.

According to a press note issued here, 66 entries were received in two categories -21 in professional category and 45 in the amateur category.

Suresh Kumar of Panchkula bagged the first prize in the professional category, while Sunil Sharma of Naya Gaon and Choginder Gupta of Panchkula were placed second and third, respectively. In the amateur category, Sameer Kaushal of Panchkula, Madhup Yadav of Chandigarh and Shilpa Sethi of Manimajra won the first, second and third prize respectively.



Burial of dog’s carcass sends cops in a tizzy
Tribune News Service

A caretaker of a garden searches for a child’s body, which later turned out to be a dog’s carcass, in Mohali on Tuesday.
A caretaker of a garden searches for a child’s body, which later turned out to be a dog’s carcass, in Mohali on Tuesday. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, February 22
A call received at the police control rooms (PCRs) of the Mohali police and the Chandigarh police about some unidentified person burying a child in a green belt near the YPS chowk in Sector 52 today sent the police in a tizzy.

Fresh with the backlash of the infamous Kushrpeet murder case, police officials, while leaving nothing to chance, immediately intimated the Duty Magistrate Amit Talwar, Mohali SDM, and the doctor on duty to retrieve the body. To their shock they found that someone had buried carcass of a dog, wrapped in a white cloth.

Since the area fell in Mohali, Superintendent of Police (city) Harpreet Singh, along with Station House Officer, Matour police station, Tarlochan Singh, descended on the scene to probe the matter.

The SHO said a caretaker of the garden had noticed someone burying something and he took it to be a child.



Education dept decentralises child mapping
Entrusts botched-up mapping to school mgmt committees
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 22
Having failed to “rectify” the child mapping exercise, the UT education department has now shifted the onus on the virtually non-existent school management committees (SMC) of the city government schools.

According to a letter issued to schools today, the UT education department has asked the SMC to submit their suggestions on the child mapping data of their neighbourhood, which will be shared with them at a subsequent meeting.

While UT’s Acting DPI (S) Ajoy Sharma claimed that it was a “de-centralisation” of the survey intended to identify the eligible candidates for 25 per cent reservation introduced in schools under Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) ACT, officials claimed it to be a rectification exercise.

“We had done a survey of the entire city in December-January, but the results were all botched up. The survey found very less number of eligible children in contrast to figures obtained from other surveys and surveyors have not visited a majority of poor localities and have made up the figures in certain cases. We can’t do a complete survey again, so will be sharing neighbourhood results with SMCs, who will make necessary rectification,” said a senior official in the department.

Chapter 3 of the RTE Act requires the administration to not only identify eligible children for admissions for 25 per cent reservation under the Act, but also make this record public.

The UT administration’s failure to release the survey results has been the major bone of contention between education department and private schools. After a prolonged silence, the UT administration had recently admitted about its survey being mishandled.

Schools to follow RTE guidelines

While the UT administration has entrusted the survey to school management committees (SMC) now, majority of schools are yet to constitute management committees as per the RTE guidelines, which state that all government and government aided schools should have SMCs with 70 per cent of its members as parents. Acting DPI (S) Ajoy Sharma claimed that majority of schools have already formed committees 



Polytechnic colleges project awaits govt aid
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 22
The two polytechnic institutes to be set up at Nanakpura village in Pinjore block and Sector 26, Panchkula, are non-starter, as the government has failed to initiate steps to set up the same.

The land for both the institutes was to be provided by the state government, while the Central government was to provide financial assistance in setting up the same.

According to information sought under the RTI Act, even though the Ministry of Human Resource Development had approved assistance of Rs 12.3 crore for setting up polytechnic college at Nanakpura and released Rs 2 crore as first installment in April last, but the project, foundation stone for which was laid by the then Chief Minister Bhajan Lal in 1996, is yet to see the light of the day.

The project management consultancy work had been assigned to the Gurgaon-based company RITES, which had already submitted the drawings and estimates to Director General, Technical Education, Panchkula.

Ten acre had been provided by the gram panchayat and the work was to be completed by 2011-12.

Similarly, the Polytechnic College for Women, to be set up in two-and-a-half acres in Sector 26, has been identified, but land was yet to be demarcated by the Haryana Urban Development Authority. The work would start only after the department concerned completes the necessary formalities.

Vijay Bansal, patron, Shivalik Vikas Manch, alleged that the state government was least bothered in providing skilled training to the youth of this region, as Chief Minister was concentrating only on the development of his Rohtak constituency.

He said despite several reminders the government had failed to start the work on these two projects, while five other polytechnic colleges announced later by the state government were nearing completion.



From Schools & Colleges

MOHALI: The Quest Group of Institutions organised a seminar for computer science and engineering students on current IT scenario and careers in IT. Resource person Tiptpal Singh, director of Karrox Technologies, made students aware of global certifications and guided them about career options available to them. The students at the seminar found answers to their questions related to career, followed in the IT industry and latest trends seeking to know emerging opportunities.

Placement drive

The north India’s biggest joint campus placement fair concluded today with top MNCs and companies selecting more than 300 students for various posts in the field of engineering, IT, hospitality and management.


Students of Class XI, staff and management bade adieu to outgoing students of Class XII of Shivalik Public School, Mohali. Shubhankar won the title of Mr Shivalik and Riya was bestowed with the title of Miss Shivalik. Mr Personality title was accorded to Sunny and Renuka was honoured with the title of Miss Charming.


DERA BASSI: The Sri Sukhmani Institute of Engineering and Technology, Dera Bassi, organised a mock AIEEE and JET for students of Punjab and other states. The students who topped the mock examinations were Sukhbir Singh, Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 46; Lovenish SSIS, Dera Bassi; Aanchal, GGSSS Barwala; Satvir Singh, GSSS Dyalpura; and Shashank, SSIS Dera Bassi. — OC

Mother Tongue Day

PANCHKULA: The International Mother Tongue Day was celebrated at the E-max Group of Institutions at Narayangarh to encourage linguistic and cultural variety. Anna Sizova from Moscow State University said the inter-cultural understanding began with individuals, who had language abilities and could thereby provide one's own nation or community with an insider's view into foreign cultures and who could understand foreign news sources and gave insight into other perspectives on international situations and current events. College chairman Om Prakash Aggarwal also inaugurated a Foreign Language Club.


A picnic to the Will-O-The-Wisp camp for children of Classes Nursery to VIII was organised by Holy Child School at Siswan near Chandigarh on Monday. Besides enjoying camel and bullock-cart rides, the students also went for trekking to the Siswan Dam. They also enjoyed the magic show and played a lot of games. — TNS



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