C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Booth mafia under Bansal’s patronage: Report
BJP seeks his resignation
Tribune News Service

Pawan Bansal, MP and union minister of parliamentary affairs

Pradip Chhabra, former Congress Mayor

Pradip Mehra, UT Adviser and senior-most bureaucrat

Satbir Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police

Jagbir Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police

Chandigarh, March 2
A magisterial probe into the multi-crore rupee fraud in the allotment of booths in Sector 41 in the early 1990s has recommended a CBI probe against Chandigarh MP and union parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, former Mayor Pradeep Chabra, UT Adviser and the city’s senior most bureaucrat Pradip Mehra, former Deputy Commissioner RK Rao, and about a dozen other middle to junior rung UT Administration and police officials for allegedly committing the fraud.

The role of Chandigarh’s top-most politicians and bureaucrats, which has left residents shocked, figures in a voluminous report prepared by former Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) PS Shergill, who was repatriated to his parent state Punjab recently. The report was submitted on February 24.

“The booth mafia has the protection of Pawan Kumar Bansal, local MP and minister of parliamentary affairs and science and technology, Government of India. The financial dimension of the fraud committed by the booth mafia runs into crores, which includes the money paid to officers/officials of the estate office, the Chandigarh Police, funds given to politicians and money generated by illegal sale/sub-letting of booths,” the report has stated.

While pointing to a politician-bureaucrat-policemen nexus in the allotment of booths, the report alleges that the money was paid to politicians, police officials and officers of the estate office. “Several bogus surveys and inspections were conducted by the estate office, further strengthening the claims of illegal allottees,” the report says.

The report highlighted glaring irregularities in the allotment of booths in Sector 41 here on subsidised rates, apparently as a compensation for the fire at the Bajwara market in Sector 22 in 1989. The inquiry was ordered by Punjab Governor-cum-UT Administrator Shivraj Patil in March 2010 in the backdrop of several complaints.

Defensive Bansal terms ADC ‘sick’

“The allegations of political funding is not only baseless and mischievous, but also the product of “a sick mind” PS Shergill who has chosen to abuse an official assignment and hatch a nefarious plan to malign me, motivated by the vengeful urge to question the integrity of those who had thought it fit to question and doubt his impartiality, sincerity of purpose and commitment to duty. I am writing to Shivraj Patil to request that the matter may be referred, as suggested, to the CBI but the officer be treated as a complainant who could also be questioned regarding his motives.”

BJP-Cong war of words

The BJP has demanded the resignation of Bansal and registration of criminal cases against those involved in the scam. “If Bansal does not resign or the Prime Minister does not drop him from the Cabinet, we will approach the court of the people,” local BJP president Sanjay Tandon and BJP leader Satya Pal Jain said. On the other hand, Congress leaders, including city president BB Bahl and ex-Mayor Pardeep Chhabra, termed the report as a bias against Congressmen. (Photos P3)

DC to examine report

UT Deputy Commissioner Brijendra Singh said he would examine the report in a couple of days and forward it to senior officers for appropriate action. UT SSP Naunihal Singh said action against the police personnel would be taken only after the police received the report from the UT Administration.



Police again under cloud over role in scam
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
The report submitted by Punjab Civil Services officer PS Shergill on the multicrore rupee fraud on allotment of booths (small shops) in the city has once again put the Chandigarh police under the scanner.

Shergill had indicted five police officials including two deputy superintendents of police, Satbir Singh and Jagbir Singh; a retired inspector, Bishi Ram; and two assistant subinspectors, Sucha Singh, who is still in the force, and Hira Lal, who has retired, for their role in the scam.

The inquiry officer has observed the cops played a dubious role during investigations in the case by submitting fake reports on the wrong allottees.

This is the second time the local police has figured in high-profile inquiries. In January DSP Vijay Kumar was sent to the Police Lines while two inspectors, Uday Pal and Narinder Patiyal, were first sent to the Police Lines and then suspended for their mishandling of the case involving the kidnapping and murder of a five-year-old boy, Khushpreet, following an inquiry held by additional deputy commissioner ML Sharma.

In August 2010 a UT vigilance department report had indicted Jaswant Singh Khaira and SC Sagar, a serving and retired DSP and retired inspector Prem Chand for failing to file a case of theft that took place in 2002.

An inquiry was marked following a complaint lodged by an insurance firm that alleged the police had extended “undue favours” to Ubatha Ramesh in a theft case on which basis the latter had managed to avail a claim of Rs 7 lakh on his stolen goods.

The inquiry report stated the police had issued an “untraced report” for his stolen goods without registering an FIR. The report had recommended stern departmental action against the cops in the case.

In 2008 the Chandigarh police was rocked by the embarrassing revelation that two local drug peddlers, Harpal Singh alias Raju and Suresh Kumar, were enjoying the patronage of six city cops after Saji Mohan, a former director of the Narcotics Control Bureau, was apprehended by the Mumbai police with 12 kg of heroin in that city.

The six policemen - subinspector Harinder Singh Sekhon, head constables Sukhjinder Singh alias Bhola, Bachittar Singh, Mohan Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Baljit Singh - were placed under suspension in this regard, but were later reinstated in 2009 following a departmental inquiry.



Cricket Mania
You bet, students too in it!
Akash Ghai & Deepankar Sharda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Examination days seem to have no impact on the spirits of students, who are habitual punters. To earn quick bucks through illegal gambling, a number of young punters of the city and its periphery have been putting bets on the ongoing World Cup matches.

“Exams come every year, but the World Cup comes after four years. So, it surely deserves preference and that too when it gives you the opportunity to earn quick money,” said Saurabh and his friend Ajay, both students of a local college.

When told that the chances were equal to lose the bets, they said they always played safe. “We use to change our bets from time to time during the match. Generally, we make money from it,” they said proudly.

Similarly, other young punters like Ankit, Pankaj and Chintu, all students of Panjab University, were least hesitant to talk about their interest in gambling. “Yes, we are placing our bets on the matches. In fact, we pool the money and use it session-wise,” they said.

Asked how they had come in contact with the bookies, they said they had met a city-based bookie through a friend. “Earlier, we used to give him (the bookie) the bet money in advance, but now he accepts our bets on the phone,” said Pankaj.

A bookie he did not find the exams to be a dampener. “We are getting bets as usual from our permanent clients. Examination days are hardly making any difference as there has been no let-up in the number of young betters,” he said.

Interestingly, a whopping sum of over Rs 20 crore exchange hands in the tricity during every match.

How to go about it

n Every punter, who wants to place a bet with a bookie for the first time, needs a minimum amount of ` 10,000. He has to come with a reference of a regular punter
n To avoid any confusion, all phone call by punters are recorded by bookies
n For ball-to-ball bets, the punter should be present at the bookies’ place
n Local bookies only accept session-to-session bets
n Around 20 bookies are operating in Chandigarh and its periphery



State govts won’t ‘remote control’ B-schools
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
With the Orissa High Court staying the controversial December 12 notification of the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), which gave wide-ranging controlling powers to the state governments over the B-schools, private management colleges in the country have a reason to rejoice.

In fact, the high court stay had also renewed the demand for the repeal of the controversial notification which gave powers to the respective state governments to “remote control” the functioning of the B-schools. The December 12 notification had made it mandatory for the B-schools to operate under respective “government operated processes”. Going a step further, the order said that the fee structure of all B-schools would also be decided by the state governments --- a decision which was vehemently opposed by the private management colleges.

Saying that the court’s stay has raised a ray of hope for the B-schools, Manmohan K Garg, Chairman, Gurukul Business School, alleged that the notification was an oppressive step. In fact, the relief would allow the colleges to make admissions as per the existing procedures and they would not have to depend on the state governments to conduct the admission tests, he stated.

Endorsing his views, Anshu Kataria, chairman, Aryans Business School, said the stay had come as a relief from the oppressive new notification which was slated to upset the well-placed system of admissions to the B-schools besides disturbing the prescribed fee structures. This would not only have led to harassment of the institutes and the aspiring students who would have to follow new procedures, he added.

Since the B-schools have set up state-of-the-art infrastructure in their respective institutes bringing them under the state governments’ control was a negative step, it was argued.


Delay in projects costing MC dear
Aarti Kapur/TNS

Chandigarh, March 2
The lackadaisical attitude of the municipal corporation (MC) authorities is resulting in the delay in commencement of many projects and a hike in estimated cost.

Records of budget reports of the past three years show that the cost of five major projects approved by the General House has almost doubled.

In the recent General House meeting, a majority of councillors raised the issue of the inordinate delay in starting these projects, which has been approved in the budget during the past three years. MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria stated in the House that due to delay in getting approval by the UT Chief Architect’s department and paucity of raw material, work of these projects could not be started.

Extension of MC building

Due to shortage of space to accommodate all departments of the corporation, a proposal was formulated in the 2009 budget report by the authorities to add three storeys to the existing building, which would also have a new assembly hall, for which Rs 250 lakh was required.

The report further stated that there was a need to construct new assembly hall in the corporation building as the existing assembly hall was not sufficient for the councillors of 26 wards and nominated councillors. The cost of the project approved for the fiscal year 2011-12 was Rs 1 crore, but work was yet to start.

Modernised dhobi ghats

After the success of the pilot project of a modern dhobi ghat at Sector 15, a proposal was mooted in the budget of 2008-09 to convert the other five dhobi ghats, situated in Sectors 19, 20, 22, 27 and 32, into automatic laundry units, for which Rs 5.32 lakhs was proposed. This year, the authorities again approved an estimate of Rs 150 lakh for the next fiscal year.

The proposal on modern dhobi ghats was recommended so as to avoid the traditional method of washing. Till date, the project was in the pipeline.

LPG-based cremation furnace

For the pst three years,the authorities had been in the budget report that the cremation furnace installed at Sector 25 in 1975 was in disuse and estimates were proposed in the budget for making it functional.

The installation of an LPG-based cremation furnace project at the Sector 25 cremation ground was yet so see the light of the day. The authorities had proposed funds in the budget in the past two years. The estimates were approved in the General House twice.

In 2009-10, the budget estimate of these two projects was Rs 50 lakh, but due to the increasing cost of construction and raw material, the cost of this project had been doubled in the proposed budget to Rs 1 crore.

Bird slaughterhouse

In 2009, after a detailed market survey, a mechanised bird slaughterhouse was proposed by the medical health office. An estimate of Rs 920 lakh was approved in the budget. The report stated that approximately 25,000 birds were being consumed per day, which was expected to go up to 40,000 birds per day.

There was no mechanised bird slaughterhouse in the city, it was pointed out. In the past three budgets, this proposal had been approved by the House. Till date, work on this project had not commenced.

Carcass utilisation centre

To dispose of dead animals the municipal corporation had proposed the commissioning of an incinerator at a cost of Rs 10 lakh in the budget for 2009 and land had also been earmarked. The project was yet to commence.

An amount of Rs 50 lakh was approved by the authorities for 2011-12. The proposal was mooted as the authorities had to spend a huge sum on disposing of dead animals by hiring a private contractor, but construction was still in the pipeline.



Rain likely to continue
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Overcast sky and intermittent drizzle continued for the second consecutive day today in the city. The sky will generally remain overcast tomorrow.

“One or two spells of light rain or thundershowers may also occur,” said an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD). “The weather is expected to clear up a day after,” the official added.

The minimum temperature fell by a degree to 11.4°C, against 12.4°C recorded on Tuesday. The maximum temperature rose sharply to 24.0°C, two degrees below normal, compared to 20.0°C recorded yesterday.

“The maximum temperature is likely to be around 20°C, while the minimum may settle at 11°C tomorrow,” the weather official said. However, cloudy conditions had no effect on air and rail services here.

Met officials said a strong western disturbance in Jammu and Kashmir led to the cloud cover over the city, increasing the day’s temperature by four degrees.

“The night’s temperature will also go up when the western disturbance moves eastward,” said IMD Director Surender Paul, adding that there was a possibility of light showers in the region in the next 24 hours.

The maximum and minimum humidity recorded today was 91 per cent and 36 per cent, respectively. The Met office forecast a generally cloudy sky, with a spell or two of light rain at isolated places in the region.



Thousands of devotees throng temples to celebrate Shivratri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 2
An estimated 250,000 devotees from all over the region gathered at the Sri Shiv Mandir, Mahadevpur in Saketri village near here on Wednesday on the occasion of the major Hindu festival of ‘Mahashivratri’. As the crowds spilled over on to the streets the entire temple premises resounded with slogans of ‘om namah shivay’.

In fact the devotees began thronging the ancient temple from 10 pm onwards on Tuesday night. As its doors were thrown open at midnight they poured in to offer milk and fruit to the deity.

Serpentine lines were seen outside the temple since the wee hours. No one complained even as they walked for over 2 km to reach the temple. Amidst reciting of ‘shlokas’ (Sanskrit verses) and chants of ‘har har mahadev’, people waited for over two to three hours for their turn to enter the shrine. A ‘langar’ (community kitchen) was organized by the Sri Shiv Mandir Nav Durga Charitable Trust and some other welfare organizations on the occasion.

The district police had made elaborate security arrangements and at least four ‘nakas’ (checkposts) were set up at various points on the way to the temple. A special counter for making announcements was also put up.

All along the way small shops had been set up, offering varied wares including posters, trinkets and household items. Residents of Saketri village had set up kiosks along the route, where milk and fruits were being sold.

Madan Lal Sharma, president of the trust, said over 45,000 litres of milk and ‘ber’ (jujube berries) weighing about 4,000 kg were offered on the occasion.

The temple was decked up with flowers and colourful blinking lights to celebrate the marriage of the Hindu deity Shiva with the goddess Parvati during the Mahashivratri festival. 'Prabhat pheris’, ‘havans’, ‘nagar kirtans’ and cultural programmes on the deity’s life were organized all over the city. According to tradition different types of ‘rudrabhishek’, ‘bhasmabhishek’ and ‘chatuperhari lingarchan’ were also performed.

Chandigarh: It was the day of festivity for Shiva devotees in the city. The 'Mahashivratri' festival was celebrated with fervour at all places in the city today.

There were serpentine lines outside the temples since early in the morning. No one complained even though they had to walk for over a kilometer to reach the temple. Amidst reciting of shlokas and chants of ‘har har mahadev’ people waited for over an hour for their turn to enter the temple.

Temples across the city were decorated with lights and flowers. Security was tightened and barricades erected in front of most of the temples.

Vimlesh Sharma, a ‘pujari’ (Hindu priest) at the Sector 20 Lakshmi Narayan temple, said: “The celebrations began at 4 am and will continue till early next morning. The rush will continue the whole day and even at night.”

The devotees offered milk and fruits to the deity Shiva and chants of ‘om namah shivay’ could be heard throughout the day at the temples.

At the Baba Balak Nath temple, Sector 29, Sri Laxmi Narayan temple, Sector 20, Sri Sanatan Dharam temple, Sector 23 and Sri Mahakali temple, Sector 30, long lines were seen as devotees carrying fruit and milk waited patiently for their turn. A heavy police presence was in place to check any untoward incident and to manage the swelling crowds.

The Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya celebrated Shivratri at the Rajyoga Bhawan in Sector 33 today. Religious discourses, meditation and flag hoisting ceremonies were held with at least a thousand people present.

Various welfare organizations also organized ‘langars’ (community kitchens) across the city on the occasion. Vinod Sharma, a shopkeeper near the Sector 20 temple, told the Chandigarh Tribune that by 11 am today he had sold 300 crates of milk.

Meanwhile, there fruit prices rose because of the festival. ‘Ber’ (jujube berries) were sold for Rs 25-30 a kg, guava Rs 30 a kg and bananas Rs 35 to Rs 40 per dozen. Grapes were available for Rs 50 a kg.



Speaking out
City wants action against guilty

The booth scam is shocking as Chandigarh is known for good governance. With such scams, people’s faith in democratic institutions in taking a hit. Stern action should be taken against the guilty.

— Milkha Singh, legendary athlete

The PS Shergill inquiry report, indicting senior politicians and bureaucrats, has shocked citizens and shaken their faith in good governance. Twelve files concerning the fraudulent allotment going missing from the Estate Office speaks volumes about corruption in the Chandigarh administration. The matter needs a thorough inquiry to book the guilty.

— PC Sanghi, chairman, Federation of Sector Welfare Associations

The inquiry report should be an eye-opener for the administration and it should scrap all rehabilitation schemes in the present shape, as these are scams, not schemes. Corruption is breeding on the pretext of rehabilitations for the past 30 years. These so-called schemes have created enormous pressure on the city’s infrastructure and caused loss to the original character of the city.

— Ajay Jagga, president, Chandigarh unit, Janata Party

In a democracy, the general public has great faith in politicians and bureaucrats. However, the politician-bureaucrat-policeman nexus bodes ill for good governance. We must perform our duty sincerely if we want the nation’s welfare uppermost in our minds.

— Rakesh Sachdeva, principal, DAV-15

If the influential are involved in these scams, the poor cannot hope any justice in our country. These scams go a long way in widening the rich-poor chasm, which will ultimately prove harmful to society. Exemplary punishment should be meted out to the guilty to restore the people’s faith in our democracy.

— Preetinder Singh, dentist

The booth scam is shameful for the city and its residents. The allotment of booths to the influential at the cost of the poor is wrong and goes against the principle of justice. PS Shergill had done laudable work by exposing politicians and bureaucrats involved in the scam.

— GS Dhillon, shooter Abhinav Bindra’s coach

The government should order a CBI inquiry and action should be initiated against those found guilty. As MP Pawan Kumar Bansal’s name has figured in the scam, he should resign immediately so that a fair inquiry is conducted by the agency into the case.

— Gian Chand Gupta, former Mayor

The involvement of top Congress leaders and top bureaucrats, along with local-level politicians, is shocking. Action should be taken against the guilty after holding independent investigations. The inquiry should be conducted in such a way that the influential who names figure in the scam do not influence the inquiry.

— Tejinder S Sudan, president, Chandigarh unit,
Lawyers for Human Rights International



Roadwork leaves motorists stranded for hours
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, March 2
Commuters heading for Ambala from Chandigarh were stranded for several hours as the public works department carried out recarpeting of the Chandigarh-Ambala highway in Zirakpur.

The traffic jam lasted over two hours on the Zirakpur-airport trafficlight stretch, forcing the vehicles to move at a snail’s pace.

Following the blockade, long queues of vehicles were witnessed on the highway. The Zirakpur traffic police had a tough time managing the traffic.

However, the blockade was removed after the intervention of Zirakpur SHO Yogi Raj.

The worst hit were the passengers who had to catch trains from the Ambala railway station and flights from the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, as they remained stuck in traffic for hours.

Mohit Khanna, a resident of Chandigarh, on his way to Ambala, said: “I have to catch a train from Ambala and the traffic is moving very slowly.”

He said the department concerned should carry out such work during the night or give prior information in this regard to public.

Zirakpur traffic in-charge Devinder Singh said the movement of traffic would ease once the service road became functional.

The PWD XEN said the recarpeting work on the stretch was in process and would be completed in a week.

However, the entire work would be completed by March-end, he claimed.



Rehabilitation of Ambedkar Colony
MC to approach GMADA
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, March 2
The Zirakpur Municipal Council has decided to write to GMADA for rehabilitation of Ambedkar Colony located on the Zirakpur-Kalka Highway.

According to officers in MC, during a council meeting, the area councillor urged the MC president and MLA of Banur to provide basic amenities to the colony residents.

Officials said the colony was established near Singhnullah on a land owned by the northern railway a few decades ago.

The council could not spend money to provide them the basic facilities as the colony was established on the railway land, said the sources adding that the colony would be established under the slum rehabilitation project of the government after a proposal was mooted before the GMADA.

Sham Lal, councillor of ward no 2 said lack of basic amenities forced residents to live in a hell-like conditions. He said the colony had more than 2,000 residents.

“There is no proper road, sewerage system and street lights in the colony”, Lal said. He said residents didn’t get proper supply of drinking water in summer and were forced to fetch water from long distance.

He said railway authorities had sent notices to vacate the land several times and a case regarding the land was pending in the court.

He had asked the council officials several times to provide them basic facilities, but the officials always told them that they were not authorised to provide the facilities as the colony was set up on the land which belonged to the Railways.

District Town Planning chairman and MC president NK Sharma said for the upliftment of the colony, the council will take up the issue with GMADA to provide them land and construct houses with all basic needs.

On rly land

The municipal council has been unable to provide basic facilities to the colony as it falls on railway land. The authorities plan to urge GMADA to establish the colony under the slum rehabilitation project of the government



Abuse of minor domestic help
Child welfare dept sound asleep
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 2
In spite of several incidents of suicide by minor domestic help in the past three years and the recent assault on two minor girls with iron bars by their employers, the child welfare department here seems to have turned a blind eye to the menace.

In December, 2007, a 16-year-old girl, a native of West Bengal and employed as a maid at a house in Sector 6, had died after she consumed poison. She was admitted to the general hospital in a serious condition and later referred to Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, Chandigarh. The same day, her condition deteriorated and she died. The victim in her statement had, however, mentioned that she had consumed celphos tables as she had been missing her parents.

On February 25, two domestic help, aged 11 and eight, were brutally attacked by their employers residing in Sector 7.

The police had arrested the landlord, IS Sekhon, the next day but he was subsequently released on bail by a duty magistrate on Sunday.

The other members of his family were at large and the local police was raiding their possible hideouts.

The alienation of these minor children from parents living in other states and subsequent harassment by their employers was stated to be the main reason behind such incidents.

A random survey conducted by this reporter revealed that affluent people living in posh areas of the town often employed servants seeking the services of private agencies.

According to sources, around 4,000 servants (men and women) had been employed by residents on full-time basis, while a similar number of migrant women living in various slums earned their wages as part-time workers.

Child welfare officer Virender Singh said they would hold a survey in this regard in different parts of the district soon.

He said they would seek the assistance of various associations, non-governmental organisations to raise awareness among the general public on the issue. They would take action against those violating the law.

He said Deputy Commissioner Ashima Garg had held a meeting on February 28 in this regard. A final decision on the procedure to be adopted was also taken during the meeting.

Superintendent of Police Maneesh Chaudhary said: “Under the law, it was not their duty to move from door to door investigate the employment of minor children by residents. However, the verification of tenants and servants in various places in the town was being conducted regularly. People generally concealed the details regarding the employment of minor children as domestic help. Whenever we get complaint in this regard, a case under Section 188, IPC, is registered against the landlord,” said Chaudhary.



Looking above for greener today
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, March 2
The Spring Theatre Festival organised by the Theatre Arts group opened with a majestic presentation of the Hindi play ‘Parlok Ikk Darshan’ by the Sajag Natya Sanstha from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Written by Dr Anand Parkash Shukla, the play brings into focus the importance and necessity of a natural, pollution-free environment.

The highlight of the production, directed by Irfaan Ahmed, is the participation of 32 amateur actors.

Most of them are labourers, pan-bidi sellers, rikshaw-pullers, carpenters or daily wage workers, trained by group director Satyender Kumar Shukla for over six years.

Endowed with a vision, the playwright had borrowed characters from Hindu mythology to illustrate the threatening proportions assumed by the neglect of the environment and the disaster bound to happen if necessary measures are not taken.

Most of the Hindu gods are portrayed by Muslim artistes with perfection. The cast includes Irfaan Ahmed, Sana Naseem, Rizwan Ali, Bahar Alam, Lubna Naseem, Mohd Aslam, Mohd Afzal, Vijay Verma, Bhawna Singh, A Ansari and Naushad.



Student hurt as car overturns
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, March 2
An engineering student was injured after his car overturned on the flyover here today.

The injured has been identified as Sidhant Mahajan, a resident of Orbit Apartment, VIP road, here.

The investigating officer said the incident took place when Sidhant was returning from Chandigarh after attending his coaching classes.

When he reached a sharp bend on the flyover, he lost control of his vehicle and rammed into a streetlight.

The vehicle overturned due to the collision, the officer added.

A passerby informed the police and took the injured to the Civil Hospital, Dera Bassi, for the further treatment.

The police official said the statement of the injured was recorded and further investigations had been started.



Cong to marry off 101 girls
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 2
The Mohali District Congress Committee (DCC) will organise a mass marriage of 101 girls at a cost of Rs 80 lakh.

Addressing mediapersons here today, Kharar MLA and DCC president Balbir Singh Sidhu said the function would be held on May 1. Punjab Congress Chief Capt Amarinder Singh will attend the function. Each girl will be given gifts worth around Rs 80,000.



Online cheating guides may take you for a ride
Karan Raj

Chandigarh, March 2
“ There are no shortcuts to success, try short chits” or “ success lies in your hand or between your fingers to be more precise”. This is what a series of communities and blogs available on the social networking sites say, even as the CBSE continues to advise examinees against the “use of unfair means”.

In what has now become an annual feature, a dozen of communities have sprung up on the social networking sites claiming to be the “online guides to smart cheating”. With more than hundred students being members of the groups, these have gone a way ahead in innovating new cheating aids.

“Innovation is the key to success. Chits are passé, bank on the most unsuspected article,” suggests one of the groups on Orkut.

While until two years ago, these groups would suggest a dozen odd methods of hiding slips, they now elaborate upon specialised cheating techniques using scotch tapes, pens, water bottles, sharpeners, and even ‘pallu’ of the invigilator.

What, however, remains the key flavour of the season, is tips on dodging invigilators when caught cheating and online galleries with pictorial representations of preparing cheating aides.

“If one can’t convince the invigilator of your innocence, confuse him. Use the following 11 communication tips to dodge getting unfair means case registered against you,” says another such group.

While many may dismiss it as a yet another online fun tactic, the posts suggesting students having used these techniques in Class XII physics exam held on March 1 is bound to perturb many.

Dangerous innovation

Technology has its pros and cons. It’s disturbing to know that when students should actually give up social networking during board exams, they are wasting their time in innovating cheating techniques and posting these online. We suggest all students to stay away from any such shortcut because if caught this may lead to getting debarred from the boards for a minimum of one year, which is a big price to pay.

— Rakesh Sachdeva, CBSE counsellor, principal, DAV, Sector 15.



CBSE to do away with manual assessment of answersheets
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
All set to bid farewell to the manual assessment of answersheets, the Central Board of Secondary Education is on its way to adopt onscreen marking system or OMS, a popular practice abroad.

Claiming it to be its next revolution after the grading system which was introduced in 2009, the board has decided to launch it on a pilot basis by assessing a section of this year’s Class XII board answer scripts through the OMS. Though this year the experiment is limited to the Class XII candidates from Delhi appearing for English (core) paper on March 11, it is expected to be extended to all students from next year.

Though practically unheard in India, this technology is a key basis of evaluation in countries like the US, the UK, Australia and China.

The OMS improves accuracy and efficiency of marking remarkably. In this system, answer scripts are scanned and the images are uploaded on a server, which enables an examiner to evaluate the booklet on the computer with the help of a specially developed software.

“This new technology has an edge over the manual assessment as it reduces the margin of error in tabulation of marks and the scope of leaving any answers unevaluated. The software will calculate the total marks and also highlight any answer that the examiner may have missed,” said an official from the CBSE, Delhi.

According to regional director of the CBSE, Panchkula, RJ Khanderao, the software shall be a big step towards speeding up the board’s evaluation and doing away with the re-evaluation system.

“Currently the answersheets are evaluated manually by the examiners. We get thousands of applications for demanding re-evaluation and in certain cases we do come across evaluation mistakes, which have a great effect on a student’s performance. It takes quite some time to deal with re-evaluation requests and declare results. This software will rule out manual error and re-evaluation will eventually be uncalled for.” he said.

What is OMS?

In OMS or onscreen marking system, answersheets are scanned and their images are saved and transferred to assessment centres where examiners evaluate answers on a computer with the help of a software.

How it is better

l There is no totalling error as a software calculates marks.
l There is no scope of any answer remaining unevaluated in the booklet as the software will point out if the examiner has omitted an answer by mistake.
l In the manual process, wrong marks can be entered at the time of transferring total marks from the answer booklet to the award list. With the OMS, errors at this level are eliminated.
l Since each answer booklet has a unique serial number, the OMS software can enable easy retrieval of the answer script.



Books read by Kalpana a hit with students
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
Exam time is no hindrance for students of PEC University of Technology to read fiction novels, as they continue to throng the library dedicated to its illustrious alumnus Kalpana Chawla in the girls hostel on the campus.

In fact, it’s not all about reading books that Kalpana read during her lifetime. “It is the sense of belongingness that students have with her. Girls in my hostel are excited to search archives of PEC’s annual magazine, ‘PECMAG’. Kalpana was Chief-Editor of the magazine for two years. They just want to have a glimpse of it,” said Avneet, a second year student of aeronautical engineering at PEC.

A week after Kalpana’s family visited the PEC campus to launch her biography and contributed books to the library named after her, students felt proud that their institute was chosen by the family to launch the book. Kalpana, who was the first female astronaut from India to venture into space, died after the spacecraft met with an accident while entering the earth’s orbit in 1997.

“Unlike other colleges where students might opt for this branch out of compulsion, in PEC, however, several students of aeronautical engineering branch sought admission only to follow her footprints,” added Avneet.

Kalpana’s biography, written by her husband, is the latest fascination for her fan club on the campus. “My friend, who is from the aeronautical branch, has locked her copy of Kalpana’s biography in my cupboard. She suspects if she will keep it in her room, she will be tempted to read it,” said Sanjoli, a resident of girls hostel.

“Students are enthusiastic to read Kalpana’s collection of books even during exam time. The response of the library, located in the common room of the hostel, has been good. We have even devoted a part-time person to take care of the books,” said Sita Verma, hostel warden at Kalpana Chawla hostel, PEC.

From fiction to philosophical books/self-help books; the range of books read by Kalpana was stunning.

The library included books like “The last Juror” by John Grisham’s, Business@ The speed of though by Bill Gates, “The Hungry tide” by Amitav Ghosh, “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand, “The story of my life” by Helen Keller and books by Khalil Gibran.



Cyanide 2011’
Acting skills of students put to test

Chandigarh, March 2
The second day of ‘Cyanide 2011’, the annual cultural event of University Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Panjab University, kicked off with Pagg Yaar Di, a turban-tying competition, in which more than 60 youths participated. The UICET lawns were abuzz with activities such as face painting, tattoo making, Tell-a-Tale, sudoku and draamebaaz- where the acting skills of students were put to test.

Among other events, a debate, in which over 10 teams participated, was also held which had the topic “Is China a threat to Indian Economy?”

One of the events, which was popular among the UICET students and participants, was “The Free Lunch” wherein the eating capacity of youngsters was tested.

Cyanide organising team members said that- ‘Esoterica’, a paper presentation competition, was also among the most sought-after events. To help students look for jobs, a mock placement session was also held. — TNS



Going the green way
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 2
What would happen if everybody on this earth had the lifestyle you have, ate what you eat and polluted the planet exactly the way you do, how many more “Earths” would be needed to suffice?

To find the answer, visit the first cultural event of Chandigarh College of Engineering and Technology, Sector 26, on March 4, where college students will find “carbon footprint” of visitors.

In sync with the theme of the fest, “Go green, reduce your carbon footprint”, students have resolved to create awareness about adopting a lifestyle that does not tamper with ecological balance.

“We will get a questionnaire filled in from the visitors at the fest, which will have queries related to the lifestyle of people. From these, the carbon footprint is calculated for that individual through certain parameters. Ideally, our carbon footprint must be one or less than one. It implies how many planets will be needed if every person on the planet is like the individual filling in the questionnaire,” said Pulkit Singla, a student organiser of Apratim-2011.

Besides, the students have also innovated hand-made dustbins, signboards and folders for the event. “We are trying to be as ecologically safe as we can, although it is tough to completely switch to eco-friendly material in a short time,” said Singla.

The fest, which is the first cultural event being organised by the college, will also host an array of other events like the robot war, prize money for which is Rs 19,000, paper presentation, Photoshop and web designing and code maker competition.

“Spreading the theme ‘go green’ is need of the hour. Technology is benefiting society, but we cannot do it at the cost of environment. We are producing engineers but the technology we are producing is hampering nature, hence we want to sent a message that we must go in for green technology,” said Dr Manpreet Singh Gujral, principal, CCET, Sector 26.

“India is growing fast and consumption of electronics is high but re-cycling is a major issue for all these gadgets,” he added.



Convention at Gian Jyoti
Our Correspondent

Mohali, March 2
The seventh NorthWest QualTech Awards for 2010 were presented during a day-long convention held at PTU’s Gian Jyoti School of TQM and Entrepreneurship here.

Manish Trehan, CEO of the school, said more than 200 delegates from more than 60 companies participated in the convention. Philips Electronics India Ltd, Mohali, won the Vardhman Quality Navigator Award for a large business segment, while Trident Quality Pioneer Award for medium business was bagged by Winsome Textile Industries Ltd, Baddi.

Hycron Electronics, Baddi, was the winner of Winsome Quality Pathfinder Award in the small business segment.

This year, the Educomp Quality Innovator Award for the service sector companies was won by Tata Teleservices Ltd, Mohali.

Trehan said a large number of project entries were received from various companies, out of which 22 teams were shortlisted for the final competition after a detailed evaluation of the project papers. These 22 finalists achieved extraordinary results through structured quality improvement initiatives and saved Rs 2,709 crore.



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