Booth scam: Report bares tale of greed, fraud
Chandigarh, March 4
Kumar, a Haryana Civil Services (HCS) officer, has since been repatriated to Haryana after completing his tenure with the UT administration.
“Ashwani Kumar had served in the Estate Office once as a Tehsildar and twice as an AEO and he knew the working of the Estate Office inside out. He had excellent rapport with Estate Office officials Prem Sharma (superintendent), Ashok Bish, RK Arora, DharamSingh, DS Balouria and HR Nagra,” (sic) the report states.
Shergill, a Punjab Civil Services (PCS) officer, too, has been repatriated to Punjab after completing his tenure with the UT administration.
The report has alleged that seven meetings of the screening committees from 2003 to 2008 were held to examine and determine the eligibility of the licensees. The proceedings of the committees were controlled by Ashwani Kumar and Prem Sharma by getting false affidavits submitted from the members, by getting false verifications from the Tehsildar (colonies) to make ineligible for the allotment of booths and mislead the other members of the screening committee by deliberate suppression of information which was in their knowledge.
EO officials ‘stage-managed’ surveys
Chandigarh, March 4
Going into the modus operandi adopted by estate office officials and office-bearers of the Bijwara Rehri Market since 1978, the report alleged that absentee licensees were informed about the date and time of impending surveys in advance through presidents of the market creating fraudulent evidence of their doing business from their sites/spaces in order to make them “eligible” for the allotment of booths in the Krishna Market, Sector41-C. “The financial dimensions were of the fraud committedm by the booth mafia runs into crores of rupees which include money paid to the officers/officials of the Estate Office, Chandigarh police and funds given to the politicians,” the report stated.
It alleged that successive presidents and general secretaries of the associations, including Ram Singh, Krishan Lal jain, Jai Bhagwan Gupta, Rajeshwar pathak, Suresh Kumar alias Goldy, Naresh Kumar Kuku, Sat Narain Jain, and Raj Kumar Singla have been serving as conduits of Ashwani Kumar, former AEO, DS Balouria, Tehsildar (colonies), Prem Sharma, Superintendent (retired), Ashok Bish, superintendent (enforcement), Dharam Singh, in charge, Rehri branch, Ranbir Singh Gill, assistant, Rehri Branch, Ranbir Singh Gill, assistant , Rehri Branch, and Nikka Singh, Sub Inspector (enforcement).
Several previous records missing
Chandigarh, March 4
According to sources, the office has been unable to trace the entire record maintained in the runup to the issue of handcart and hawkers’ licences prior to the fire in the Bajwara ‘rehri’ market on May 23, 1989.
The licences were issued in 1986-87 to ‘rehriwallas’ and ‘pheriwallas’ carrying out their trade in the market at that time. Subsequently, in 1991, these licences were converted into “provisional allotment” identity cards.
Sources said the estate office had no records of how and on what basis these licences were issued. “Every year, a survey was conducted to check whether genuine people were running their business in the Bajwara market. But all the records are missing,” source added.
On the other hand, Dinesh Kumar Sood and Nathu Ram, the aggrieved party in the alleged fraud, claimed the relevant files were there in the estate office six years earlier. “In 2005, while we were pursuing the case, I saw all the files related to the issuance of licences in 1986-87. I am sure about there being foul play behind the missing records,” alleged Sood.
Giving his reasons, he claimed the estate officials at the time used to issue licences to their “favourites” by adopting “unfair means”. “Conducting regular surveys and screening licence holders were tools for these unscrupulous officials tomint money,” he alleged.
Sources said the 12 files that former Additional Deputy Commissioner PS Shergill mentioned in his report as “missing”, were in fact there in the estate office.
“The inquiry officer had asked for the files to be to handed over for the probe before January 13. But these files were in process and somehow couldn’t be submitted to the inquiry officer before the deadline,” claimed an official on a condition of anonymity.
Shergill was relieved from his charge as the Additional Deputy Commissioner on January 14, he added.
Does report hold legal sanctity?
Chandigarh, March 4 The answer may in the negative if the legal provisions of the Section 8 of the Commissions of inquiry Act, 1952, are anything to go by. If the reputation of any person is likely to be prejudicially affected by the inquiry, the inquiry officer shall give that person a reasonable opportunity of being heard
The report basically relies on the statement of Dinesh Sood and Nathu Ram, complainants in the case, besides evidence by their counsel advocate Arvind Thakur. The inquiry officer has also examined 13 witnesses. “The report, which is still to attain legal sanctity, is being quoted and interpreted to harm the reputation of some eminent persons with hitherto impeccable credentials and reputation,” claimed legal activist Pankaj Changothia. He claimed that an inquiry report had to be tabled before the "appropriate government" by the commission by whom it was appointed before it can be said to have achieved legal sanctity. Senior Congress functionaries, including Pawan Bansal and Pardeep Chabbra, had already gone on record doubting the intensions of the inquiry officer contending they were never contacted for their side of the story.
Chandigarh, March 4
The answer may in the negative if the legal provisions of the Section 8 of the Commissions of inquiry Act, 1952, are anything to go by. If the reputation of any person is likely to be prejudicially affected by the inquiry, the inquiry officer shall give that person a reasonable opportunity of being heard inthe inquiry, then Act says a fact which seems to have been ignored in the reports.
The report basically relies on the statement of Dinesh Sood and Nathu Ram, complainants in the case, besides evidence by their counsel advocate Arvind Thakur. The inquiry officer has also examined 13 witnesses.
“The report, which is still to attain legal sanctity, is being quoted and interpreted to harm the reputation of some eminent persons with hitherto impeccable credentials and reputation,” claimed legal activist Pankaj Changothia. He claimed that an inquiry report had to be tabled before the "appropriate government" by the commission by whom it was appointed before it can be said to have achieved legal sanctity. Senior Congress functionaries, including Pawan Bansal and Pardeep Chabbra, had already gone on record doubting the intensions of the inquiry officer contending they were never contacted for their side of the story.
Left out, vendors have their tale of woe
The inquiry report on the booth allotment scam clearly states that at least 82 persons have been allotted booths fraudulently. Chandigarh Tribune met certain vendors at Bajwara market, who claimed to have been left out in the cold and not allotted booths despite being victims of the devastating fire in May 1989. “We are the main sufferers. The scam has left us in a quandary as our business has suffered severely, with most business shifting to shops at Sector 41. Even so, we cannot leave the place as it will negate our booth claim,” said the vendors.
Chandigarh, March 4
Talking to mediapersons, Kang said Bansal should resign on moral grounds for fair inquiry into the booth allotment scam. He said if Bansal does not resign, the Opposition would urge their leaders to raise this issue in Parliament.
He said Bansal and former Mayor Pardeep Chhabra should cooperate in the inquiry rather than threaten those who had complained against them.
Kang claimed that the booth scam has opened Pandora’s box and several other scams would come to light soon. He said Bansal should give details of his property from 2004 onwards.
Kang said he would honour the complainants of the booths’ scam and two children, who had recently filed a PIL on wastage of money in laying of paver blocks in various sectors of the city where the tiles were in good condition.
Meanwhile. RJD leader Ravinder Krishan alleged that Mayor Ravinder Pal Singh gave a bribe of Rs 25 crore to Bansal to become a Mayor.
MC service rules in sight
Chandigarh, March 4
The draft of service rules for recruitment and promotion were approved by a special committee, which met here today under the chairmanship of Mayor Ravinder Pal Singh. The proposed draft would be tabled in the next General House for approval.
To clear the backlog of pending promotions in case of junior engineers (JEs) of all wings, the committee proposed that JEs who had completed 15 years of service be given one-time promotion to sub-division officers (SDOs) in their departments.
Referring to the case of Himachal Pradesh, the committee was informed that to clear the backlog of pending promotions in various departments, the decision had been implemented in the state.
It was also proposed that the maximum age limit for applying for any post in the MC be increased from 25 years to 35 years.
Members also proposed that employees with engineering degrees and five-year experience be promoted to SDOs in their respective departments.
Declining the suggestion that the MC appoint assistant managers for the upkeep and maintenance of community centres in the city, the members said it had been given to resident welfare associations and so, there was no need for extra staff, which could only add to the financial burden.
In 1997, in the General House, it was decided that the Punjab rules of 1965 would be followed on the employees transferred from the Chandigarh administration. In 2005, a fresh notification was approved, which repealed the 1965 Punjab rules.
It was decided that all transferred employees with the MC would be considered as regular employees and fresh service rules would be framed for them. These employees would also now get due benefits of service.
Justice Gupta may head consumer commission
Chandigarh, March 4
Sources said the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had recently cleared Justice Gupta’s name for the post.
The file had been sent to the UT Administrator for approval.
The post fell vacant on January 17 as the then president, Justice Pritam Pal, was appointed the Haryana Lokayukt.
If insiders were to be believed, the names of Justice MS Gill and Justice MM Aggarwal were also under consideration. Before being elevated to the high court, Justice Gupta had served as district and sessions judge at Kapurthala.
Once the appointment of the commission president was announced, the process for the appointment of the president of the UT District Forum would also commence.
Though applications for the post were received six months back, the selection could not take place during Justice Pritam Pal’s tenure and even after it. When contacted, Justice Gupta said, “I have no idea about it.”
Chandigarh Consumer Courts Bar Association president Pankaj Chandgothia said, “Although judicial work is not seriously affected by the delay in appointment of president of the commission, administrative work suffers as the incumbent is also the administrative head of consumer courts in Chandigarh.”
Despite sunshine, mercury stays low
Chandigarh, March 4 The humidity level fluctuated between a high of 91 per cent and a low of 53 per cent. "Saturday will see a generally cloudy sky with light rain and thundershowers. The maximum and minimum temperature will be around 24 degrees and 10 degrees C, respectively. Till the time the sky remains cloudy the minimum temperatures will be on the higher side, though the weather may become chilly if it rains," said a Met official. The weatherman has also warned of isolated hailstorms in some areas in Punjab and Haryana. The India Meteorological Department has forecast rain later in the day. The sky is expected to remain cloudy with rain or thunderstorms during the next 24 hours.
Chandigarh, March 4
The humidity level fluctuated between a high of 91 per cent and a low of 53 per cent.
"Saturday will see a generally cloudy sky with light rain and thundershowers.
The maximum and minimum temperature will be around 24 degrees and 10 degrees C, respectively. Till the time the sky remains cloudy the minimum temperatures will be on the higher side, though the weather may become chilly if it rains," said a Met official.
The weatherman has also warned of isolated hailstorms in some areas in Punjab and Haryana.
The India Meteorological Department has forecast rain later in the day. The sky is expected to remain cloudy with rain or thunderstorms during the next 24 hours.
Call centre employee dies as vehicle rams into tree
Mohali, March 4
At least 11 employees of the call centre, including the deceased, were on their way home after work when the driver, Vicky, lost control of the vehicle after he dozed off and crashed it into the tree.
The speedometer needle was stuck at 80 kmph, indicating that the vehicle was speeding at the time of the crash.
Marshid Ahmed, sitting in the front seat, was killed on the spot, while two others, sitting to his right, had to be pulled out of the mangled remains of the vehicle.
On hearing the noise of the collision, RP Singh, who lives nearby in Phase VII, along with his two sons, Deepinder and Harkirat, and some other residents rushed to the scene and rescued the injured.
Ironically, a team from the Matour police station and the police control room (PCR) vehicles reached the scene almost 20 minutes after getting the information. And still, there was not sign of an ambulance to evacuate the victims.
By the time additional station house officer of the Matour police station Fateh Singh arrived at the scene, the residents had already moved the injured to Indus Hospital, Phase I, and GMCH, Sector 32.
RP Singh claimed that the police failed to reach the scene even 15 minutes after the accident. He also pointed out the absence of streetlights at the scene of the accident.
“No ambulance was available to evacuate the victims. The Akali government has been boasting of making Mohali a modern city but there is not a single ambulance to meet such exigencies. The police reacts in a routine manner when such accidents take place,” lamented Ranbir Singh, another resident of the area.
Matour police station SHO Tarlochan Singh said the other occupants who received minor injuries included Roshan Lal, Pardeep, Vijay, Sanjeev, Ravinder and Vikram.
“We are investigating different angles before we register a case,” he added.
The body of Marshid Ahmed, a resident of Sector 20, Chandigarh, was handed over to his family member after the autopsy later in the evening.
Woman, son killed
Banur, March 4 The victims have been identified as 48-year-old Amarjit Kaur and 24-year-old Satwinder Singh, residents of Chaumajra village. Satwinder,
a barber by profession, along with his mother was going to meet his
married sister in Rajpura when a speeding Chevrolet Spark, bearing a
registration number of Haryana, coming from Rajpura collided head-on
with the motor cycle. Napinder, a resident of Sector 21, Panchkula,
was driving the car. The victims’ bodies would be handed over to
their family after a post-mortem examination, said a police official. The police official said the speeding car collided head-on with the bike when it tried to overtake a truck on a narrow stretch of the road. A case has been registered against the accused at the Banur police station in this regard.
Banur, March 4
The victims have been identified as 48-year-old Amarjit Kaur and 24-year-old Satwinder Singh, residents of Chaumajra village.
Satwinder, a barber by profession, along with his mother was going to meet his married sister in Rajpura when a speeding Chevrolet Spark, bearing a registration number of Haryana, coming from Rajpura collided head-on with the motor cycle. Napinder, a resident of Sector 21, Panchkula, was driving the car. The victims’ bodies would be handed over to their family after a post-mortem examination, said a police official.
The police official said the speeding car collided head-on with the bike when it tried to overtake a truck on a narrow stretch of the road. A case has been registered against the accused at the Banur police station in this regard.
Absence of signages endangers lives
Zirakpur, March 4
On Wednesday, Sidhant Mahajan, an engineering student, sustained injuries after his car overturned on flyover after he lost control of his vehicle and rammed it into a streetlight on the bend.
Residents have been demanding a proper signboard alerting the motorists about the sharp bend. They have also been urging the traffic police to challan vehicles speeding on the flyover.
Vaibhav Jain, a resident of Dera Bassi, says: “It is difficult to judge the curve in the absence of a signboard, especially during the night.” Blinkers and signboards must be put up on the approach to the bend, he adds.
Zirakpur traffic in-charge Devinder Singh says several accidents have been reported in the recent past. In majority of cases, the vehicles have rammed into the median or streetlights due to speeding on the flyover, he adds. He says they will set up checkpoints and challan speeding vehicles on the flyover.
An official of the GMR, the company undertaking the maintenance of the Ambala-Chandigarh highway, says he will visit the site and initiate precautionary steps to ensure the safety of the motorists.
37 sites identified for Verka outlets in Mohali
Mohali, March 4
A proposal for setting up 50 outlets in different parts of the town for selling Verka products was prepared by milk plant authorities and given to GMADA. The matter was discussed at length after which about 37 sites were found suitable for such booths. Many of these sites would also fall in the developing areas like Sectors 76 to 80.
The general manager of the Verka milk plant, Balbir Singh, said the matter was being followed up regularly with GMADA officials for the past one month. GMADA authorities were engaged in more important projects over the past sometime and as soon as that work got over, the proposal sent by Verka was likely to be implemented.
He said by opening sale outlets in parks, not only residents would be able to get Verka products more easily, even differently abled persons would get employment as such outlets would be made to run by these people. At present there were only about 10 booths in Mohali whereas in Chandigarh the number was 100.
GMADA estate officer Balbir Singh said 37 sites had so far been identified which could be given to Verka for setting up sale outlets. The area would be given on lease and Verka would be allowed to have only temporary structures. However, Verka would not be allowed to sell products other than its own at these outlets.
Verka authorities would have to ensure that such outlets did not lead to any traffic congestion or created unsanitary conditions in parks.
A memorandum of understanding would be signed with Verka authorities after they found the sites identified by GMADA suitable. Other terms and conditions would be specified at the time of signing the required documents, added the estate officer.
Panchkula, March 4
The members of the joint action committee (JAC) of the residents living across the Ghaggar, in a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, HUDA, and MC Executive Officer, gave an ultimatum of two weeks in this regard.
They said if the corporation failed to initiate action in this regard they would be forced to launch an agitation.
JAC president SS Gill said as over 200 tonne garbage of the entire town was being dumped illegally in the open space of Sector 23, the living conditions there had deteriorated in the past two years.
He said it was ironic that official agencies had done nothing to shift the illegal dump from the area.
Gill added that stray dogs and cattle further played havoc by strewing the garbage all around, creating unhygienic conditions throughout the year. Even the garbage was not sprayed with insecticides, he added.
Admn sleeps as roads cry for repairs
Panchkula, March 4
The municipal council authorities had sent a proposal to the Director, Local Bodies, for the allocation of funds to the tune of Rs 43.81 lakh in the last week of December, but even after the passage of over three months, the council is yet to receive the approval.
Residents of Sector 19 had been demanding the recarpeting of 1-km stretch of the road leading from Amartex chowk to the railway crossing. Huge potholes make it difficult for residents and motorists to drive on the road, especially during the night.
Sector-19 Market Association president Naresh Narang said several representations to the municipal authorities in this regard had yielded no result.
He said the situation was becoming worse by the day as accidents were commonplace on the stretch.
The roads in Sectors 12, 12A, Industrial Area, Phase II, were also in dire need of repairs.
Defunct streetlights on almost all major roads and internal roads in various sectors caused inconvenience to residents. To add to their woe, stray cattle often lead to accidents, especially during the night.
MC Executive Officer KK Jain said the file had been cleared by the Director, Local Bodies, and they would start the work as soon as they received the funds.
The work would be taken up on a priority basis and would be completed before March 31, he said.
On the functioning of streetlights, he said the work on laying of new cables worth Rs 95 lakh had been initiated and all streetlights would become functional by March-end.
Citizen’s Welfare Association president SK Nayyar said the entire town plunged into darkness at night as most streetlights remained out of order.
He said they had brought the matter to the notice of the corporation several times, but to no avail. He urged the authorities to take steps at the earliest to prevent accidents.
5 quintal adulterated milk destroyed
Fatehgarh Sahib, March 4
Following a tip-off, the team raided a house and found milk being adulterated on a large scale for sale. The accused had been selling the milk to a government dairy at Damheri village.
The officials said eight quintal milk was being supplied to the dairy every day. The officials seized nine bags of powder, used for the preparation of milk, hidden under a heap of fodder in the house.
The officials said the accused had been preparing one quintal milk by mixing 5 kg powder in 20 litres of milk with 75 per cent water.
The health department officials said milk samples had been sent to the laboratory and action would be initiated against the offender after they get the report.
Admissions under RTE Act
Chandigarh, March 4
A recent directive of the UT education department has asked the schools to reserve 25 per cent of the seats and make admissions on random basis by March 14.
Though the then officiating DPI (Schools) Ajoy Sharma conceptualised a RTE Act awareness programme, it proved to be a non-starter and all that the UT managed to do was to issue a public notice asking “those who think themselves to be eligible to approach schools in their neighborhood”.
The notice, however, failed to reach the key target group i.e. residing in the city colonies and slums, which are yet to be informed that
Department officials blame it on the frequent change of the DPI (Schools) in the last few months.
“It was PK Sharma under whom we had held deliberations with the private schools. But before we could notify the RTE Act, he left. Sharma, who got additional charge, got the Act notified and started framing an awareness policy. But before it could be implemented, he also left. Our new DPI (S), Sandeep Hans, is bound to take some time to understand and act on the issue,” said a senior official on the condition of anonymity.
The schools, however, blame it on faulty child mapping exercise, which is a key requisite of the Act. The Act requires the local authorities to conduct a neighbourhood-wise survey of the city and tabulate the eligible candidate for admissions under the RTE Act. The UT education department conducted this survey in December 2010 but refrained from making the results public as surveyors failed to reach out to all children and in a majority of cases, the data appeared to be made up. The department on waking up to its folly entrusted the work of rectifying the survey results to school management committees of government schools, which are yet to submit their reports.
PU falls short of 700 teachers
Chandigarh, March 4
While teaching departments have increased from nearly 65 in 2006 to 80 in 2011, there has, however, been a minimal corresponding increase in the number of teachers. The disciplines with maximum shortfall of teachers on campus include hotel management, anthropology and archaeology.
Against 1,500 teaching posts sanctioned by the Centre due to the proposed Centrally funded structure, only 800 have been filled so far. University officials claim 400 other posts have been advertised while 300 more would be advertised shortly.
“We are in the process of recruiting teachers as per the new guidelines issued by the University Grants Commission (UGC) on January 3, 2011. Interviews for teachers’ selection is scheduled on March 10, 11 and 19. Each time we advertise the posts, there are revised guidelines for the recruitment from the Union Government and we have to abide by the rules,” said PU Vice Chancellor RC Sobti.
However, despite repeated assurances by the university officials of consistency in filing up the teaching posts, a section of teachers claim that the selections are being done at a snail pace. “The corresponding increase in the number of departments and the teachers in the past few years does not match. Selections are being done but at a slow pace. This is an issue which requires more serious persuasion since it affects the academics directly,” said Akshaya Kumar, faculty member, Department of English and Cultural Studies and former PUTA general secretary.
The alleged snail pace of teachers’ selection process by the university was also raised at a general body meeting of PU teachers held last week in the Chemistry auditorium.
Meanwhile, another section of teachers, represented by Jaspal Kaur Kaang of the Panjab University Teacher’s Association
(PUTA) said, “We have been assuring teachers that interviews are being conducted by
PU. By March end, a substantial number of posts will be filled up and promotion cases will be cleared. We are
PU Job Fair
Chandigarh, March 4
“There would be more clarity on the numbers of confirmed placements on the final day, once all screening processes are over by all companies,” said Manu Sharma, coordinator of job fair.
Students of the University Institute of Engineering and Technology, Sector 25 (South), PU campus, hosted the event. Students from the university departments and regional centres are entitled to participate in the fair that would continue till March 6.
Participating companies included ICICI, Ford (Bhagat Group), HCL, VIOM Networks, IBM, INTARVO, Religare, AK Vidyamandir, SBMC, Practice BUZZ, TK20, Revelcom, WNS, Aspire, Cue Blocks, Agile Media, Talwar and Talwar, Virka Solutions and many more.
The companies that participated in the job fair offered packages ranging from Rs 1.5 lakh per annum to Rs 3.5 lakh per annum to the PU students. AK Vidyamandir offered up to Rs 10 lakh per annum to deserving candidates.
11,000 to take maths exam today
Chandigarh, March 4
What set these students apart from their preceding generations is that they are the first batch to have been given a choice to skip the boards.
But they still chose to take them, even though over 4,000 city students have opted out and decided to take school examinations instead.
As a part of its educational renaissance, the CBSE has not only made the examination optional but has also kicked off unnecessary classification of students on the basis of marks by replacing it with the latest grading system and reducing the syllabus.
Thus what remains the key feature is decreased stress amongst the board first timers.
“The CBSE helpline received far less number of anxiety calls from Class X students as compared to the last few years.
We introduced grading system last year and this year, right from the beginning, we insured emphasis on co-scholastic performance rather than academic performance.
These exams are the first step towards reduction of societal pressure on the students and diminishing the divide between the so-called toppers and failures,” said CBSE regional director RJ Khanderao.
MoU on research
Chandigarh, March 4
The department’s students and faculty can use library facilities and other data collection resources of the Institute of Correctional Administration. The ICA will guide interns/students in the area of prison administration. Joint workshops and seminars in the area of criminal justice system will be organised by the institute and department of laws.