C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Anti-encroachment drive turns violent
DDR against HUDA Administrator
HUDA complains against shopkeepers
Tribune News Service

The damaged vehicle of HUDA.
The damaged vehicle of HUDA. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal

Panchkula, February 23
The market of Sector 7 here turned into a fortress this evening when the shopkeepers, irked over an anti-encroachment drive, smashed an official vehicle. Fearing public fury, Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) Administrator Rajender Kataria allegedly fled from the spot. The shopkeepers stoned a canter of HUDA, loaded with goods seized by the enforcement wing, and tried to set it on fire.

The situation was brought under control after a few market committee members intervened. HUDA later lodged a complaint with the police against the shopkeepers.

The shopkeepers alleged that HUDA officials were taking away the goods seized without issuing receipts. The officials also took away the cash box of one of the shopkeepers, they alleged.

Interestingly, the police lodged a DDR against Kataria for causing damage to the property of Jaspal Singh Jassi, a shopkeeper, and attacking and threatening him.

A complaint was lodged at the Sector-5 police station in this regard by the shopkeeper. Jassi’s medical examination confirmed a fracture on one of his fingers.

Kataria, however, refuted the allegations, saying he was not even a part of the enforcement team involved in the anti-encroachment drive.

“I went there to see the property of HUDA lying vacant. There is no question of coming into contact with the shopkeepers in this regard,” he said.

It was only a coincidence that the enforcement wing was involved in the anti-encroachment drive the same evening, added Kataria.

Jassi alleged that employees of the enforcement wing were busy in loading refrigerators on the HUDA vehicle after lifting those from his shop when they asked him to help them, but he refused.

He added that this annoyed them and one of the officials accompanying Kataria twisted his fingers with an iron tool. He requested Kataria to save him, who, instead, moved away along with his subordinate, alleged Jassi.

HUDA employees tried to leave the spot without issuing receipts against the articles seized, which agitated the shopkeepers, who shut their shops and started throwing stones on them, he said.

Immediately after this, a heavy police posse reached the spot. Local MLA DK Bansal and BJP leader Sanjay Ahuja also condemned HUDA for not complying with rules during the drive.

Such a drive was necessary to maintain the beauty of the town, but this did not allow bureaucrats to work in a dictatorial manner, they said.

Panchkula’s Superintendent of Police Manish Chaudhary also reached the spot and listened to the grievances of the shopkeepers.



Did UT Police wink at fake arms licence racket?
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
In a glaring example typifying the collapse of the police beat system and failure of its intelligence wing, the owner of a gun store in Sector 40, who had been operating for over a decade, provided fake arms licences right under the nose of the cops who never got the slightest whiff of his illegal activities.

Interestingly, it was the Punjab police that arrested Satish Kumar, owner of Vishal Gun House, on Tuesday and recovered six forged arm licenses from him, raising questions on the functioning of the Chandigarh Police. The latter remained unaware about Kumar providing fake arms licences all these years or else, sources said, he was on “friendly terms” with certain top police officers. The suspect is also known to have “gifted” weapons to officers in return for having an easy time with cops.

The sources said Vishal Gun House belongs to the same gun dealer from whom the brother of an Uttar Pradesh-based gangster, Mukhtar Ansari, reportedly purchased a weapon in the past and the UT police never got a clue of it.

Cops from Khanna arrested Kumar after the Punjab police worked on a lead given by a property dealer, Manjinder Singh, whom it apprehended last week and recovered a fake arms license from him. The cops swooped on Kumar after Manjinder told them he had procured the fake license from the Chandigarh based gun dealer.

Kumar’s arrest also speaks volumes about the inefficiency of the Chandigarh police in getting to the source of different weapons whose owners were found to be not carrying any valid license in the past. Though it had arrested several suspects, including a large number of students, over the past several years for carrying illegal weapons the police has never been able to get to the source in most of the cases (see box). Meanwhile, UT senior superintendent of police Naunihal Singh said: “We will interrogate the suspect (Kumar) and bring him on production warrants to establish whether he had been selling fake arms licences here in Chandigarh. It’s a matter of chance that the Punjab police managed to arrest him as it got a clue after it had nabbed another suspect with a forged arms license. We’ll investigate the case thoroughly”.

Cops remain in the dark

The police has never managed to get to the source of illegal arms recovered from students in the following cases:

April 27, 2010: SOPU supporter Amandeep Singh Multani was arrested and a “country made” weapon was recovered. Police failed to get to the source of the gun

April 10, 2010: Police nabbed two students, Vikramjeet Singh and Robin Brar, for opening fire outside the home of SOPU leader Udday Wirring and recovered an illegal weapon from them. The source of the weapon has not been ascertained, for which purpose the cops had, at one point of time, moved an application in a local court to get a narco test conducted on the suspects.



CHB falls on bad days, construction activity comes to halt
Pradeep Sharma/TNS

Chandigarh, February 23
The Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB), the monopolistic construction arm of the Chandigarh administration, seems to have fallen on bad days with the development work coming to a standstill in the past over three years.

Mandated to provide reasonably-priced, good-quality housing for the homeless persons residing in Chandigarh, the board seems to be the victim of official apathy. That is perhaps the reason that not a brick had been laid in the last two housing schemes floated by the board.

While the people seeking a dream house in Chandigarh is at the receiving end of the administration-controlled department, there is perpetual resentment in its workforce, who recently went on strike on the issue of the pension scheme.

The allottees of the general housing scheme in Sector 63, launched in 2007-08, have paid lakhs of rupees to the CHB, but the work is yet to commence. Similar is the fate of the special UT employees housing scheme in Sectors 52, 53 and 54, whose draw of lot was held last year after over two years’ legal battle.

Not to talk of the housing schemes, the much-touted slum rehabilitation project of the UT administration, as part its social commitment, is facing derailment owing to shortage of funds.

Last year, the CHB and the Finance Department locked horns over the poor financial health of the once cash-rich organisation, which is virtually in the red now. Chairman of the CHB Mohanjeet Singh, who is on his way out, went on record to blame the UT Finance Department for the fragile financial condition of the CHB. He had accused the Finance Department of retaining funds amounting to Rs 621 crore generated through a tie-up between the CHB and Parsvnath Developers Limited for the high-end residential Prideasia project in the IT Park here in the joint escrow account. The Prideasia project, touted to be a milestone in the public-private sector partnership, is currently under arbitration. And recently, the board invited the ire of Union Minister Pawsan Bansal for pricing of two-bed room apartment for its housing scheme in Sector 50 at Rs 50 lakh and scheme’s brochure at Rs 1,000 each.

Bright past, dismal present

The CHB is reported to have constructed around 46,000 houses for various sections of society till March 2009.It is estimated that about 25 per cent of the population of Chandigarh lives in CHB houses. Over the time, the board has maintained a reputation of providing well-designed houses with good quality of construction at prices much lower than the market, claims the CHB website. However, a look at the well-designed flats in Chandigarh’s periphery should provide some food for thought to the UT top brass.

Need to tone up CHB working

Conceding that the CHB’s performance had been “below average” in recent times, a senior official of the Chandigarh administration said the CHB would initiate new projects and expedite working on the ongoing projects. The launch of several housing schemes is on the anvil, he added.



12-year-old boy crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
A 12-year-old boy was crushed under a tractor-trailer near the Colony No. 4 here today. The victim, Rakesh Kumar, alias Munna, who came under the front wheel of the vehicle, died on the spot.

The mishap took place around 12:30 pm when the child, a student of Class IV of a government school in the colony, was on his way to give lunch to his father at Hallomajra.

His father, Maan Singh, is a rag-picker. The child was the only son of his parents. They have three daughters. The boy was hit by the rashly driven tractor-trailer while crossing the road.

Rakesh was rushed to the Government Medical College and Hospital in Sector 32, where he was declared brought dead. The driver, Jasbir Singh, a resident of SAS Nagar, absconded from the spot with the vehicle, but was later arrested.

Residents of the area staged a protest at the accident site, alleging that the police control room vehicle reached the spot over 30 minutes after the call.

The commotion was controlled after the police intervened and the driver was arrested. The police registered a case of causing death due to negligence under Sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the Indian Penal Code.



PU creates Rs 25 lakh innovation corpus
No fee hike proposed in 2011-12 budget
Neha Miglani/TNS

Chandigarh, February 23
Panjab University’s board of finance today decided to set aside a fund with Rs 25 lakh corpus for spurring innovative ideas, projects and research by varsity students. This fulfils the long standing demand of the students, particularly those in departments offering professional courses like the University Institute of Engineering and Technology, who have developed new gadgets but have had to bear the cost themselves.

Despite having won prestigious national awards for their innovative gadgets, these PU wizards were compelled to pay the project costs in the absence of such a fund. Some students enrolled in professional courses and science departments said procuring funds from PU for such projects was so cumbersome that they preferred to seek sponsors from outside the varsity.

“We’ve won awards at technology festivals held at most of the premier engineering colleges in the county. But we were too hesitant to seek sponsorship for our projects and didn’t want to go through the tedious process involved,” said a UIET student on condition of anonymity.

Members of PU’s board of finance also approved the institution of the Young Scientist Award with a cash prize of Rs 20,000 or more, which would be given to students doing “exceptional” research work on the campus. Additionally, no increase in tuition fees was proposed in the varsity’s annual budget for fiscal 2011-12.

The budget has also allocated Rs 3 to Rs 5 crore for a “hi-tech” student centre on the varsity’s Sector 25 campus. “The centre will be fully air-conditioned. A similar amount has also been sanctioned for an Astroturf hockey ground. The Young Scientist Award has been instituted and there won’t be any hike in tuition fees,” said PU vice chancellor RC Sobti.



Hackers defraud trader of Rs 9 lakh
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 23
After hacking a local businessman’s email account fraudsters whittled away $19,000 (nearly Rs 9 lakh) that was supposed to be transferred to his firm’s bank account by two of his clients. The victim, Vishal Malik, detected the fraud on Saturday night following which he filed a complaint with the police on Tuesday.

“The unidentified suspects were reportedly in touch with several other clients of mine, eyeing another sum of $30,000 that was scheduled to be deposited in my firm’s bank”, he stated.

Malik, who owns a business exporting medical laboratory equipment, said his firm exported goods to over 30 countries.

“Hackers intruded into my email account and went through all the correspondence between my firm and buyers. They then contacted buyers who were in the process of depositing the balance amount before receiving shipment through the email account. The buyers were asked to credit the funds in two banks located in London and China, as the audit of the firm’s accounts was in progress and depositing the amount in the regular bank account could create problems for the firm. Two of the clients, in Turkey and Yemen, transferred $13,000 and $6,000 in the London and Shanghai bank accounts, respectively, as instructed by the hackers”, said Malik.

He said he discovered the fraud when his Gmail account was blocked after the Google-owned web based email service provider noticed “suspicious activities”. 



Tax Revenue
UT set to generate over Rs 1,000 crore this fiscal
Figure touches all-time high
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
With a collection of Rs 981 crore in the form of commercial taxes till January, 2011 already, the cash-rich UT has hit an all-time high in tax revenue generation. Sources say so far there has been a 30 per cent increase in the net collection as compared to the corresponding month of the last fiscal.

The statistics records of the UT Excise and Taxation Department revealed that while in 2009-10 fiscal, the net collection of taxes was Rs 787.78 crore, this year the figure has already reached Rs 981 crore by the end of the third quarter (up to January 31, 2011).

The trend is likely to continue and the figure is expected to cross the magical figure of Rs 1,000 crore this financial year, says the sources.

Simplified and computerised procedure for applying for registration certificate and their tracking, commodity-wise statistical analysis practice and special campaigns for checking of issuance of bills in markets are some of the main factors responsible for the increase in tax generation, add the sources.

Besides, huge growth in the automobile sector and an increase in inflation have pushed the tax revenue to new heights.

The passenger tax head witnessed a mammoth increase of 74 per cent in comparison to the corresponding period of last fiscal, while the net collection in sales tax (value added tax central sales tax, up to January 31, 2011) alone was over Rs 846 crore, around 30 per cent more than that of the last year.

In other taxes like state excise tax, entertainment tax, an increase of 25.42 per cent and 33.23 per cent, respectively, has been witnessed this year.



Demolition drive: MC bows to protesters
Sadar Bazaar, Sector 19, shopkeepers get relaxation till March 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
After a day-long protest by BJP leaders, along with 11 booth owners at the Sadar Bazaar, Sector 19, against the demolition drive of the enforcement department of the municipal corporation (MC), the authorities today gave them relaxation to vacate shops voluntarily by March 1.

As the enforcement team went to conduct a demolition drive in the market, the shopkeepers staged an angry protest against them, alleging that the authorities were indulging in an unlawful act.

BJP leaders also joined the protest and complained that the MC was ignoring the stay order for these booths secured from court.

The enforcement inspector produced a court order which stated that all the 11 shops were illegal and should be demolished by the authorities concerned.

When the shopkeepers were asked to show the stay order, they failed to do so, but continued their protest in the market.

BJP’s Chandigarh unit president Sanjay Tandon approached MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria, asking him to intervene and put the enforcement drive on hold.

Sources said the Commissioner refused to intervene, but after a two-hour discussion with the shopkeepers, MC Additional Commissioner Lalit Siwach asked the shopkeepers to submit an affidavit that they would vacate the booths by March 1.

According to the affidavit, the shopkeepers would vacate the booths themselves if the order in the case pending in court went against them on March 1, the next date of hearing.

On January 31, the enforcement department sealed all 11 booths on the plea that it would cross-check the documents about the stay order. After checking it, officials found that the period of the stay order had ended, due to which action was being taken.



Fire fighting system non-functional in housing societies
Sanjay Bumbroo/TNS

Panchkula, February 23
The life and property of residents living in various house building societies in Sector 20 is in danger as the fire fighting systems in most of the societies have not been managed by the respective society managements.

A random survey by this reporter also showed that most of the societies have not refilled the fire extinguishers after the expiry dates. Only few of the societies had got the cylinders refilled. The fire alarms and smoke detectors were also found non-functional.

Recently a Tata Indigo car suddenly caught fire at the Army flats in Sector 20 around 8 am. The residents, who had gathered at the spot, tried to douse the fire by using fire extinguishers. However, the extinguisher failed to work as these had not been refilled for the past one-and-a-half years after its expiry in 2009.

Fire Officer RP Dhull said the callous attitude of the people living in the societies was responsible for this and the incident could have led to a major tragedy had the fire spread to other petrol driven vehicles parked nearby. He said they had been issuing notices to the society managements from time to time to get their fire extinguishers updated to avoid any untoward incident.

The owner of the car, KK Midha, said he came to know about the fire around 8 am and as he came down from his flat about 40 to 45 people had gathered there and were trying to douse the fire. He said even the washroom near the parking was locked and the residents used the lawn watering pipes to douse the fire.

Middha said there were more than 100 people engaged by the society for various works, including the security, but none of them was trained to use the fire fighting system installed in the society.

He said he informed the fire brigade, which reached the site immediately. However, the residents had brought the fire under control by then. 



First Legal Literacy Club comes up in Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 23
The first Legal Literacy Club was set up at Government College in Phase VI here today. Soon all government colleges in the state will have such clubs. While speaking at a function organised in connection with the setting up of the legal club, Member Secretary, Punjab Legal Services Authority, Munish Singal, said the club would be considered as the model club for the state where students would be made aware about various legal services and free legal aid.

These students would then be able to create awareness among the public so that in future no person, belonging to any weaker section, would be deprived of justice.

He said para-legal volunteers would be prepared for spreading awareness about legal services and free legal aid among the lower sections of the society. Such persons would be trained and then function at the level of villages to make people aware about various legal services.

With adequate knowledge about legal aspects, the youth in the state would be aware of their rights and duties.

Many regulations are framed regularly in the country but people are not aware about these. It is the need of the hour that people belonging to every section of the society have adequate knowledge about various laws passed by the government.

Jaspinder Singh, Sub-judge ( senior division) who is a member secretary of the District Legal Services Authority, said seminars and workshops would be held at villages to create awareness among people regarding legal services and free legal aid. He said free legal aid was available to people having an annual income of less than Rs 1 lakh.



Railway budget
Direct trains to Mumbai, Patna sought
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
As the Union Railway Minister, Mamta Bannerjee, presents the Railway Budget in Parliament tomorrow, people of City Beautiful hope for announcement of direct trains to Amritsar, Mumbai and Patna. City residents have raised the demand seeking direct trains to long destinations like Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai. But it is yet to become a reality. People of the city have to take trains from Ambala for different destinations like Mumbai and Patna.

Given the fact that there is a large migrant population in the city, a direct train for Patna has been their long-pending demand. Besides, there is huge rush of pilgrims to Patna Sahib, the birthplace of the Tenth Sikh Master, Guru Gobind Singh.

There is no direct train link between Amritsar and Chandigarh. Earlier, there was a proposal for running a Duronto train from Chandigarh to Amritsar via Ludhiana and Jalandhar. In fact, it was announced during the last Railway Budget. But the decision is yet to be implemented.

The doubling of the Chandigarh-Ambala rail track has been hanging fire for the last three years. This could help improving the speed of the trains, besides safe journey.

City residents also demand the extension of the Chandigarh-Jaipur train up to Ahmedabad. Modernisation of the Chandigarh railway station has also been a long-pending demand of residents.

While the industry hopes that there is no increase in the freight, there is a strong demand for sanctioning new railway track to the industrial town of Baddi in Himachal Pradesh.

Although people do not expect the Railway Minister to do wonders in this budget, they still hope she can do better this time. “Let us hope that she does not make bogus claims,” they remarked, hoping that the budget will ensure that the Railways chugs according to modern times and needs.



Action recommended against 2 policemen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
The Police Complaints Authority, UT, has recommended action against two cops, a head constable and a constable, today.

Both the officials, head constable Jasbir Singh and constable Kuldip Singh, were charged with misuse of their powers and authority. In the first case, Jasbir Singh was allegedly found to have taken undue advantage of his post and helped Swarn Singh, a resident of Sector 52, to get forcible possession of his rented house. The complainant, Trilok Chand, who did not get any positive response on his complaint at the Sector 61 police station, contacted the authority. In the inquiry, the authority found Swaran Singh guilty for trespass and forceful entry in the tenant’s house and recommended disciplinary action against him.

In the second case, constable Kuldip Singh was charged with cheating Dharam Singh, who complained that the former had taken Rs 60,000 for getting his (the complainant’s) son employed with the UT Police. The complainant alleged that the accused failed to keep his promise and also failed to return the money. The authority recommended IGP, UT, to put Kuldip Singh under suspension and initiate disciplinary proceedings against him.



‘Kidnaping’ Incident
Child admits cooking up story

Mohali, February 23
A 10-year-old child artiste, who had acted in a Bollywood film, had staged a kidnapping drama here yesterday forcing the police to remain on its toes for sometime. Sahibjot Singh (10), who had acted in “Yamla, Pagla, Deewana”, is a student of Shivalik Public School, Phase VI.

He had claimed that he was allegedly kidnapped by seven persons from the Phase I market. He had said that he was able to escape from their clutches after jumping from their van when the vehicle stopped in the market.

DSP Raka Ghira, who had investigated the case, said the child had apologised for his mistake. She said Sahibjot had told his teacher in charge about the “lie”. When she (DSP) went to the school today to meet his teacher, she was told that the child had admitted his mistake.

The DSP said a relative of Sahibjot had approached the police yesterday complaining that seven persons had tried to kidnap the child. He was pulled into a van by them but the child managed to rescue.

She said the police was suspicious from the beginning. She had taken the child along with her to various areas to know about the entire story, but the information provided by him was not convincing.

The child, however, could not tell why he had concocted such a story. According to his parents, Sahibjot was crying when he had reached home, added the DSP.



Dress Code Issue
UIHMT students stage protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Adding a fresh row to the dress code issue on Panjab University campus, students of the University Institute of Hotel Management and Tourism (UIHMT) today staged a protest outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office expressing their resentment on five different sets of uniform worn by them.

Backed by Sukhjit Singh Brar’s lobby of Panjab University Student Union (PUSU), UIHMT students also lodged a protest against the ailing condition of the department. Alleging to go on a hunger strike on Monday, these students said their primary demand was to reducing the pass percentage for promotion in UIHMT.

“Currently 36 per cent is required in individual subjects and 50 per cent in aggregate for a student to pass the examinations in UIHMT. This aggregate must be 45 per cent instead of 50 per cent,” said Brar.

He added that the students were required to wear different uniforms for food production (chef costume), house keeping (white uniform), front office (black uniform), theory classes (black uniform) and separate dress for food and beverage practical classes.

Responding to the plea of the students, dean student welfare Naval Kishore said, “We cannot lower the academic standards of the university. The decision of lowering the percentage has to be taken at the Senate level and cannot be resolved through dharnas.”

He added that the students did not have anything concrete to say or protest. Amarpal Kang, a UIHMT student, said, “We are paying Rs 30,000 as a fee to the university for providing us best facilities. But the facilities being provided are nothing compared to the fee charged.”



Sealing of sheds
Shopkeepers meet MC Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Terming the sealing of 12 sheds by the municipal corporation in Sadar Bazar market of Sector 19 on January 31 unlawful, a delegation of shopkeepers and BJP members met with MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria here on Monday.

The delegation complained that the MC enforcement department issued notices to the shed owners to vacate the sheds and later sealed their shops by ignoring the stay orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Sunkaria assured the delegation of taking appropriate action in case of anomaly.

Demanding the withdrawal of the sealing orders, the shopkeepers requested the MC Commissioner to take action against the officers who had not verified the court orders before taking action against the shed owners.

The delegation also submitted a memorandum to the UT Home Secretary.



Protection centre for runaway couples

Chandigarh, February 23
Acting on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Chandigarh administration has declared the Empowerment Centre, Sector 19-B, run by the Chandigarh Child and Women Development Corporation, as protection centre for runaway couples who have married against the wishes of their parents.

The corporation is providing free legal aid, lodging and boarding for 10 days initially, which would be extendable after the recommendation of the committee constituted by the administration. While the Deputy Commissioner will be the chairman of the committee, the SSP and the Director, Social Welfare, will be its members. — TNS



Three cops suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
Three police officials were suspended for dereliction of duty today. The police suspended sub-inspector Harinder Singh and constables Daljeet and Amit after they failed to respond to a call for help from a distressed woman last night.

Sources said a woman called up the police control room as her vehicle broke down at Sector 45. The distress call was made to seek the help of the police in towing the vehicle.

The officers failed to send any vehicle. The woman waited for over an hour and faced harassment. “The three have been sent to the police lines as they failed to send the recovery van,” said DSP (PCR) Roshan Lal.



Fire tenders for Capitol Complex
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
The fire department of the municipal corporation (MC) will deploy fire tenders at the Capitol Complex here in order to promptly control any incident of fire in the area. This decision was taken during a meeting on fire safety measures, chaired by UT Home Secretary Ram Niwas.

Sources in the UT administration said after a major fire broke out in the record room of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in which precious record was damaged, the administration had asked the MC to work out measures to be taken up by the fire department to avoid any such incident in the future.

MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria was asked by the Home Secretary to get a temporary shed constructed at the Capitol Complex, where a fire tender could be parked round-the-clock.



Manpreet promises to ban red beacon
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, February 23
Punjab’s former Finance Minister Manpreet Badal, while addressing a public meeting here today, said red beacon would be stopped in the state if he comes to power.

The occasion also saw senior Congress leader Bhag Singh Baltana switching over to Manpreet Badal’s side. Bhag Singh claimed that he was impressed with the progressive attitude of Manpreet.

Talking to mediapersons, Manpreet Badal said he would announce his party on March 23 at Khatkar Kalan, the birth place of Bhagat Singh.

He made it clear that his efforts would be directed towards making the state progressive.



Spare parts shop gutted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
A spare parts shop at Keshav Ram Complex in Burail was gutted in a fire this afternoon. Shop employees managed to escape unhurt. The fire started around 2.21 pm. The fire department officials said the fire spread within no time due to combustible material in the shop. One of the fire officials said the shop didn’t had fire safety system in place.

It took hours for two fire tenders to douse flames, he said.



Lawyers on strike today

Chandigarh, February 23
Work will remain suspended at the district courts here tomorrow following a call by the District Bar Association (DBA).

Scores of litigants are likely to bear the brunt as cases listed for hearing will not be pleaded. “We have decided to suspend work tomorrow to extend support to the DBA in Amritsar, which is protesting against the arrest of a lawyer,” said advocate AS Chahal, president of the Chandigarh DBA. — TNS



Gauba issue: CD ignites PUTA fire
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
The mention of a contentious CD at the general body meeting of the Panjab University Teachers Association (PUTA), allegedly containing contents against the outgoing director-principal of the Dr HSJ Institute of Dental Sciences, Dr Krishan Gauba, today triggered a heated debate between teachers.

Adding a new twist to the repatriation case of Dr Gauba, Rupinder Tewari, a university fellow and teacher, today urged PUTA functionaries at a meeting held in the chemistry auditorium to ensure a graceful exit for Dr Gauba.

Tewari objected to the repeated mention of this CD by university officials, which he alleged was done to pressurise him to exit. He also displayed letters written by students to the dental college director, begging pardon.

“As a university senate member, I had written to the PU Vice-Chancellor to furnish a copy of the CD being talked about. Dr Gauba did not have a lobby supporting him, like in the case of the UBS director. PUTA must ensure that he completes his tenure and exits respectfully, else nobody will come forward to contribute to this university,” said Tewari.

This evoked heated arguments, with certain teachers defending the university authorities on the issue, even as most teachers continued opposing the manner in which Dr Gauba had relinquished charge.

Yet another remark by the director of the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET), Renu Vig, infuriated the dental college teachers present.

Vig, who was also a part of the committee formed to look into the allegations levelled by a female intern of the dental college, said, “It is a shame that 100 teachers at a dental college cannot handle 400 students, who were protesting outside the college.”

Vig later took her words back and apologised to the dental college teachers. The latter added that they made efforts to bring the students back to classes, but in vain.

Arguments by Gurmeet Singh, a senate-cum-syndicate member, in favour of the university authorities, were met by stiff opposition in the meeting. “There is no question of the UBS chairperson or any teacher feeling that his dignity was not kept in mind,” said Gurmeet.

Certain teachers, including former PUTA general secretary Akshaya Kumar, opposed him, saying there must not be any politicisation of the issue.

Akshaya objected to the ‘backroom’ politics in the university and pointed to the dire shortage of faculty members in many departments, adding that key administrative posts must be filled at the earliest.

PUTA was proactive in ensuring justice for the teachers on both the dental college and UBS issues. Even in adverse personal circumstances, I made efforts to protect the sanctity and respect of teachers.

— Jaspal Kaur Kaang, PUTA president

Responding to a query on the issue of a CD containing remarks by another student against the dental college director-principal, PU Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti said, “I have to look at the interests of students and teachers alike. I have no further comment on the matter.”


  • PU teachers to avail 20 per cent discount on tests and consultancy at Mukat Hospital, Sector 34; Alchemist, Panchkula; Indus Multi-Specialty Hospital, Phase I, Mohali; Silver Oak Hospital, Mohali; Grecian Hospital, Mohali; Indus Hospital, Phase 3BII, Mohali
  • Wards of female PU teachers to get health benefits
  • Faculty grievance cell to come up in all PU departments
  • University crčche to be upgraded with modern facilities; PUTA urges UT Home Secretary to hand over ownership and maintenance of crčche to PU
  • PUTA appeals to university to enhance the grant for attending conferences from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000
  • Resolution passed to bring back Manoj Kumar, transferred from UBS to department of evening studies

Heated arguments

  • Fellow questions content of a contentious CD
  • UIET director’s remark sparks argument



PU Budget
Rs 1.5 crore each for four new rural colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
With a new funding pattern now, Panjab University (PU) today sanctioned a budget deficit (sic) of Rs 222 crore for the academic session 2011-2012, of which Rs 202 crore is likely to be met by the Union government and Rs 20 crore by the Punjab government.

In a crucial decision, the university’s board of finance also sanctioned Rs 1.5 crore each for four new rural colleges to be established as constituent institutes of PU.

The university’s total budget estimate for 2011-2012 is Rs 347 crore, of which Rs 145 crore has been its income from different sources.

Rs 5 crore has been sanctioned for providing common facilities with modern infrastructure, along with a cafeteria and other facilities for students of the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET), University Institute of Applied Management Sciences (UIAMS) and Dr HS Judge Institute of Dental Sciences at the university’s south campus in Sector 25.

Rs 6.85 lakh has also been provided for programme production of the community radio station of PU in the School of Communication Studies, inaugurated recently by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni.

Rs 2 crore has been set apart for the construction of the alumni house and an equal amount earmarked for the construction of the community centre. Rs 1 crore have been set apart for setting and developing of laboratories for the usage for practical by UIET students.

In the sanctioned budget, a provision of Rs 2 crore is also there for the construction of old age home, as a part of the university’s community development programme.

As another measure for the development of sports infrastructure for the students, a provision of Rs 5 crore have been made for the astro turf of the hockey ground.

While Rs 5 crore have been provided for the establishment of technology incubator, wherein world-class testing facility shall be made available for the university as well as industries, said university sources.

Rs 9.71 crore have been provided for the construction of hostels at the PU’s south campus in Sector 25.



CBSE begins ‘observation scheme’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 23
With Classes X and XII board examinations commencing next month, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has started its question paper feedback mechanism called “observation scheme”. The board has put forth this scheme as a solution to complaints being received over the last few years alleging that the CBSE question papers have questions which are “out of syllabus” or “incomprehensible”.

Under this scheme, the board will be keenly following the feedback on the question papers set for Classes X and XII. The feedback will be provided by schoolteachers, principals, those in charge of examination centres and superintendents within 24 hours of the examination. Their observations will be made available to subject experts, who are preparing the marking scheme.

“Every year we have complaints about the question papers being set from topics out of the specified syllabus. There are also several questions, which turn out to be incomprehensible. While in a subject like science it’s diagrams, which are claimed to be misleading, in mathematics, it’s figures and accusations. Though the board does review all these complaints and take care of them in the marking scheme, this system will help us to improve the quality of papers year after year. The observation scheme has been developed to give importance to the feedback on the question papers and redress students’ grievances,” said a CBSE official from Panchkula.

“There are times when examinees put forth doubts or claims regarding the question papers, which cannot be sought by invigilators or even centre superintendents. While these children demand immediate redressal and at times assurance of compensation in marking scheme, the centre heads are in for a lot of trouble. This system will not only help in improving the quality of question papers but will also ensure that every single doubt raised by students reaches the board and is attended to,” said Madhu Bahal, principal, KBDAV, Sector 7.



PU Notes

Refresher course

CHANDIGARH: A refresher course under the aegis of Academic Staff College, Panjab University, conducted by the department of physical education on the theme “Challenges of social exclusion and inclusive policy of physical education in India”. It was inaugurated by Prof Bhupinder Singh Brar, dean university instruction, PU, yesterday. Dr Jayenti Dutta, deputy director, Academic Staff College, PU, appraised the participants about the refresher course.


A national seminar on “Technology implementation in classroom teaching” sponsored by the University Grants Commission special assistance programme (UGC-SAP) organised by the department of education, Panjab University, was inaugurated yesterday. Department chairperson, Dr Nandita, highlighted that classrooms are interactive avenues where learners go to reap the benefits of these investments.


Prof Raj Bahadur, director GMCH, Sector 32, delivered the keynote address at the national symposium organised by the department of biophysics on neuro degenerative disorders. Describing the pathogenesis, he indicated that there is step-by-step development of a disease and there is chain of events, which produces to structure or functional changes in the cell/tissue or an organ. — TNS



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