C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Admission cutoff dates
HC lets unaided minority schools go ahead
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Making it clear that unaided minority schools have the freedom and autonomy to decide all matters pertaining to administration of their institutions, admissions included, the Punjab & Haryana High Court on Wednesday allowed these schools to complete the admission process on the basis of dates that had been announced earlier. At the same time the court also ruled it was in favour of a uniform policy on admission age.

A division bench of chief justice Ranjan Gogoi and justice Augustine George Masih also set aside the order earlier passed by a single judge, which had clarified the cutoff date for admission to upper KG and KG classes was September 30, 2006 and that for lower KG and nursery was September 30, 2007.

The bench ruled: “We’re of the view that the single judge’s order in question, namely, extending the last date of birth to September 30, 2007 in order to be eligible for nursery classes and to September 30, 2006 for upper KG classes ought not to have our approval. However, we’re in full agreement with the judge that the solution to the impasse lies in evolving a uniform admission policy with regard to age in all schools and strict implementation thereof, which is the subject matter of the main writ petition that awaits the consideration of the single judge”.

The directions came on a bunch of appeals filed by minority educational institutions including Sacred Heart School and St. John's High School.

After hearing senior advocate ML Sarin, Nitin Sarin and Alka Sarin, counsel for the schools, the bench asserted: “The impugned order passed by the single judge is an interim order inasmuch as the writ petitions have remained pending…The order, which has the effect of somewhat enhancing the minimum age for entry by extension of the date of birth from April 1, 2006-March 31, 2007 to April 1, 2006-September 30, 2007, has been construed to be adverse to the interest of the respondent schools that have filed the instant appeals”.

The bench asserted: “The appellant schools are unaided minority institutions, which undoubtedly would have the freedom and autonomy to decide all matters pertaining to the governance and administration of the schools including admissions. The law that has crystallized till date on such autonomy of minority institutions would not permit governmental control so long as the internal management of the schools is conducted in a fair, transparent and reasonable manner…”

“The extension of the last date of birth for determining eligibility as made by the single judge, in our considered view, doesn’t provide a solution to the problem that has arisen. A pedantic answer to continue with past practice, as directed by the union territory administration in the letter dated January 17 to the appellant-schools, must be avoided, particularly when such continuance merely postpones the issue to the future academic years…”, the bench added.



High prices in city push buyers to periphery
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Chandigarh’s periphery, which is bursting at its seams in the backdrop of the construction of thousands of apartments, is suddenly in demand.

While buying apartments in the tricity has long become a dream for the middle class and lower middle class, the recent allotment of a two-bedroom flat for a whopping Rs 90-lakh by the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) - which works out at Rs 9,000 per square yard - seems to have benefited the periphery builders in a big way.

“In view of the skyrocketing prices of flats in Chandigarh, the peripheral towns have caught the fancy of the investors and end users.While the prices in the tricity are quoted anywhere between 5,000 to Rs 8,000 per square foot, the rate in Chandigarh’s vicinity ranges from Rs 2,000 to Rs 3,000 per square foot,”opines Rajit Kakkar, managing director of the Silver City, which has come out with a project in Dera Bassi.

With connectivity not going to be a major issue in the backdrop of the proposed Metro in the next few years, the apartments will be much sought after in these peripheral towns, say observers.

As almost all big real estate players have stakes in Chandigarh’s neighbouring towns, apartments’ designs are much better than in Chandigarh. The affordable prices and better designs are periphery apartments’ USP”, says a leading builder.

With the plotted building projects virtually a thing of the past and costly, apartments in the periphery make a better business proposition for both builders and buyers. In fact, state-of-the-art amenities and security score in favour of the apartment complexes.

Mullanpur — new destination

Punjab’s first eco-town Mullanpur urban estate is the next destination of builders, investors and end users. Located strategically on the upcoming four-laned Chandigarh-Baddi road, the planned low-density urban estate seems to be the future in Chandigarh’s periphery,” said Taran Inder Singh of a real estate company, which is in the process of launching a residential-cum-commercial project in the area. While Omaxe has already launched a residential project, real estate major DLF is in the process launching a mini-township in the Mullanpur area.



Automated parking barrier project gathers dust
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The municipal corporation’s pilot project on “hi-tech” parking lots in the city has been languishing for the past seven months. Reason: The chief engineer of the MC department concerned has failed to allot work on installing four semiautomatic control barriers at the parking lots adjacent to the Sahib Singh and Empire Store shops in Sector 17, in Sector 22B and in Sector 35B.

Parking slips lying in the CCTV box installed by the municipal corporation at a parking lot in Sector 17, Chandigarh; and (right) a worker arranges wires of a CCTV camera. Tribune photos: Manoj Mahajan 

The CCTV cameras put up by parking contractors in the lots in Sector 9, 17, 35C and at Sukhna Lake are also nonfunctional.

According to MC records, its finance & contract committee had decided at its meeting held last year on September 15 to auction four parking lots after the civic body installed semiautomatic barriers, which would be maintained by the contractors.

Sources close to the civic body said several reminders had been sent to the chief engineer of the engineering department managing the parking lots to speed up allotment of installation work, but all in vain. They said earlier also the department took five months to fix poles at the parking lots for installing CCTV cameras, a move that had been earlier approved at the MC’s general house meeting.

MC chief engineer SS Bidda stated though tenders on setting up the semiautomatic barriers had been invited civic officials had yet to take a decision on contracting the work.

However, during a visit to the parking lots in Sector 17 and 35 it was found the boxes installed by the MC to set up CCTV cameras at entry and exit points were being used bins to stock old newspapers or parking slips and the room where the monitor was kept painted a sorry picture.

One of the employees at a parking lot in Sector 17 stated these cameras were not working as the wires, which connect the camera with the main monitor, had been stolen. “We’ve told the parking contractor about the theft but nothing has been done so far”, he said.

MC records reveal officials had instructed the parking contractors on August 1, 2008 to install CCTV cameras at four parking lots, including in Sectors 9, 17 and 35C and at Sukhna Lake, as a pilot project with the aim of gauging the utility of the cameras and proper management of vehicles in the parking lots.

Keeping track of parking space

The semiautomatic barriers proposed to be installed at entry and exit points of parking lots will enable attendants to keep track of the number of vehicles in the lot and display available space at the main entry point. Vehicles entering and leaving the parking area will be tracked automatically.



Foreign students’ enrolment looks up
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The enrolment of foreign students in Panjab University (PU) has almost doubled in the current academic session compared to the past few years.From a mere 48 enrolments in 2008-2009 and 66 in 2009-2010, the PU has attracted 107 foreign students on the campus this year for different courses. Of all disciplines, research work in management, business and commerce subjects has been the top choice, particularly at University Business School (UBS).

A majority of these foreign students hail from countries like Ethiopia, Iran, Bhutan, Thailand and Afghanistan. Additionally, 166 other students got enrolled in local affiliated colleges including DAV College Sector 10, Post Graduate Government College, Sector 11 and Post Graduate Government College for Girls, Sector 11.

To provide better facilities to these students, the PU had announced the construction of a special hostel with 60 rooms. These rooms would have an attached bathroom and a kitchenette. This hostel is coming up at the PU’s south campus in Sector 25.

Despite efforts being made for residential comforts of these students, the university is yet to come up with an exclusive website for the international students, which was announced a few years ago.

Also there is hardly any feedback from department chairpersons on the number of dropouts among the international students. “After repeated reminders, affiliated colleges used to inform the PU about the number of students who dropped out of the courses. But on the PU campus, there is less response from the departments. It is very important to track the status of each student who gets enrolled as an international candidate on or off campus,” said a university official.

“At the new international hostel for foreign students, lodging and food would be available according to their culture and habits. The university may consider providing more facilities to foreign students after this encouraging trend,” said Anil Kapoor from the PU Public Relations office.



Neha murder
3 suspects taken to Gujarat for narco test
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Three of the five suspects in the sensational murder of 21-year-old Neha Ahalwat in July last year were taken to Forensic Science Laboratory, Gandhinagar, in Gujarat for brain mapping test today.

The Court of Judicial Magistrate Palwinderjeet Kaur had allowed the brain mapping and narco analysis test of five suspects, including Bitesh Kumar, Sachin Kumar, Hitanshu Saini, Sunesh and Sagar, after they had agreed and given their consent for the same on January 3.

Friends of Neha - Sagar and Sanesh, alias Jittu, and Hitanshu - a person residing near the taxi stand where her body was found were taken to Gandhinagar. The rest two suspects will be taken on the next date. The police had moved the application to get their narco done in December, 2010.

Neha Ahlawat of Sector 38 was found murdered on July 31 last year and her semi-nude body was recovered from near Karan Taxi Stand in Sector 38. Two cell phones of Neha were also missing from her two-wheeler, but the police managed to recover one of the cell phones from a mobile shop in a slum colony.

Till date, the police is groping in the dark regarding the murder case and has failed to establish the motive. The police said some contradictions were found in the statements of these five, following which it was decided to get their narco and brain mapping done.

Bitesh, Neha’s boyfriend, was talking to her on phone before she was murdered.

The police also said that the role of Hitanshu Saini and Sanesh, alias Jeetu, is under scanner as they have reportedly been found to be addicted to drugs. Hitanshu and Sanesh were booked under the NDPS Act three months ago.

Sanesh, alias Jeetu, of Sector 41 was known to Neha Ahlawat since her childhood.


Fireworks likely at emergency Syndicate meet today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Fireworks are likely at an emergency Syndicate meeting summoned by the Panjab University authorities tomorrow on the contentious issue of reinstating a teacher to his parent department.

Seven years after the case related to fudging data at the University Business School (UBS) by Manoj Kumar and the then chairperson Satish Kapoor surfaced, it continues to linger on till date.

The teachers reportedly fudged the data to obtain higher grading among the business schools of India.

An initial inquiry was then ordered in the case and Prof Varinder Kumar headed the probe. However, the PU Senate declined the conclusions of this report.

Later another inquiry was conducted headed by Justice Nehru on the same issue. Finally, on October 10, 2010, Senate members approved this report, which exonerated Kumar of all charges. In his report, Justice Nehru had said, “..that the prosecution has miserably failed to prove charges and both Manoj Kumar and Satish Kapoor deserve to be exonerated of charge.”

However, the issue has now resurfaced after certain Syndicate members insisted that Kumar be reinstated to UBS since he has been exonerated of all charges.

On the flipside, certain fellows have questioned why Justice Nehru called Varinder Kumar, who was conducting the first inquiry for his inputs when the latter’s report was rejected by the Senate.

Due to pressure from the political lobbies on the university campus, this is the second Syndicate meeting in the one-week time.

‘VC a dictator’

On the issue of reinstating Manoj Kumar to UBS at the last meeting, a Syndicate member, Rabindernath Sharma reportedly accused Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti of being a dictator. He allegedly referred to him as the Libyan head Gaddafi, which led to heated arguments followed by an apology. The series of arguments eventually took a toll on the VC’s health and a doctor had to be summoned to check Sobti.



Honour for PGI doc on medical illustrations
Tribune News Service
Dr SK Jindal
Dr SK Jindal

Chandigarh, March 9
Not many will be aware of the fact that art and medical science go hand in hand. Nearly 4,000 illustrations of Frank H. Netter, an artist and a physician, remain the most frequently used pictures globally by medical doctors and teachers for their lectures and other purposes.

Now Dr SK Jindal, Professor and Head, Department of Pulmonary Medicine, at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, PGIMER, has been honoured as one of the five distinguished experts of the International Advisory Board for the famous eight-volume, 13-book Netter Collection of Medical Illustrations(Respiratory), popularly known as “the green book”. Prior to this, his suggestions and remarks were sought on paintings on lung diseases which are more common in the developing countries for purposes of accuracy, simplicity and easy interpretation of illustrations.

Dr Netter started medical paintings during his graduation in medicine, completed his internship and surgical residency at Bellevue Hospital, New York, and published the first collection in 1948. Since then, his paintings, depicting human anatomy and pathological states, have received wide acclaim the world over.

“People in the West had looked into the spectrum of medical problems of the developing countries from their own viewpoints in the past. This had frequently resulted in overlooking some problems and putting undue emphasis on others. Advice on such issues by experts from these countries helps in providing a correct perspective for the subsequent practices and formulation of policies,” said Dr Jindal.



Property rates touch a new high
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Flats in Zirakpur. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal
Flats in Zirakpur. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal

Chandigarh, March 9
A couple of days after the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) fixed Rs 90 lakh as the price for two BHK flats under the assured allotment scheme, property rates across the tricity have touched a new high.

Real estate agents confirmed a hike ranging between 10 and 15 per cent already. The prices have had a direct bearing on the property in the city’s periphery as well.

“The scheme will be a boost to the property mafia, who would start bidding in every such scheme to make the property rates touch a new high. The higher bid would set the higher rates and with this, they (mafia) can sell their booked properties on much higher rates. Interestingly, the fresh rates will have an official bearing as these are being set by the CHB under its innovative scheme,” said Rakesh Sharma, a city-based property dealer.

On the other hand, common man here feels that the scheme would prove harmful for the people with low income. “For the low income class, owning a house in the city is a distant dream. The scheme has set official rate of around Rs 1 crore for two BHK flats here. Those middle class applicants who are not lucky enough to get house in the draw, would not be able to purchase a house at this rate,” said Sudarshan Lal, a Punjab government employee.

Echoing similar views, Surinder Singh, an executive in a private firm, said he was thinking of purchasing a house in the city. “But arranging Rs 1 crore is not possible for me,” he said.

Anil Bahri, a Zirakpur-based property dealer said the new rate by the CHB has given a boost to the rates even in the city’s periphery. He admitted that the property dealers and investors would use the scheme as a tool to increase the property rates in the area.

A senior official of the CHB said the assured allotment scheme had been launched to earn some profits by the board from those who can afford to dish out extra bucks. “I don’t think that it would be harmful for the common man as we are bidding only 10 per cent of the total flats and that, too, only in the high income group categories. For the EWS and the LIG categories, there is no such scheme,” said the official.

“The Chandigarh administration should amend its general power of attorney rules. The allottee should be barred from selling the flats for a minimum period of 10 years. This will be the greatest deterrent against realtors taking the lion’s share of these allotments,” said Anil Bahri. Chandigarh being the state capital of Haryana and Punjab has a good potential for the future infrastructure development and price appreciation of the real estate properties, he added. 



Prices soar in city’s periphery too
Arun Sharma/TNS

Flats in Panchkula.
Flats in Panchkula. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal

Panchkula, March 9
The boom in the realty market has also swept this satellite town of Chandigarh where the prices in the residential property have increased between 20 and 40 per cent in a short span of six months.

A three bedroom flat, which was available between Rs 45 and 50 lakh in August 2010 according to location and features in Sector 20, Panchkula, is being sold at 70 lakh. And still, there seems to be no end to this constant increase in the prices, said RD Bhalla, a property consultant in Sector 20. While the flats are in demand in every nook and corner of the sector, people are ready to pay even more for such flats equipped with luxuries, including air-conditioners and fancy lights.

A flat measuring 1,850 square feet at the upcoming Sun City Project is being sold at a cost of Rs 6,000 per square foot. However, buyers can opt for air-conditioned flats in the same project shelling out Rs 1,000 extra against every square foot.

Similarly, in two other upcoming housing projects - SV Estates and Parshavnath in the same area - the flats are not available at a price less than 72 lakh, he said.

The demand of houses is equal in old as well as upcoming housing projects in the areas, said Vinod Katyal, another property dealer in Sector 20, Panchkula. While the flats in developed housing societies in the area are in demand for their prime locations near the markets developed by HUDA, a buyer has an option to pay in instalments for flats in upcoming projects, said Katyal. 



Chhabra slaps legal notice on Shergill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Former Mayor and Municipal Corporation councillor Pardeep Chhabra, who has been named as a part of the “booth mafia” in Chandigarh in the magisterial inquiry by former ADC PS Shergill, today slapped a legal notice on the latter.

Terming the contents of the report “illegal and unwarranted” and result of “personal bias”, the counsel for Chhabra claimed that he was not associated with the booth allotment process at any stage.

“Chhabra is a well-known political personality of Chandigarh and is a sitting a councillor of the MC for the past 10 years. He had also been the Mayor as well as the Senior Deputy Mayor of the Municipal Corporation. He has earned a respectable and reputed entity in the Indian National Congress and is an elected member of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee,” the legal notice said.

“You have made unwarranted and false remarks and allegations against my client in the illegal and biased report dated February 23, 2011, submitted by you to the Estate Officer, UT, Chandigarh, and later released to the media. The image of my client has not only been damaged but also has been severely tarnished by derogatory remarks such as mafia as well as kingpin of the scam of the booths in Chandigarh. It has also transpired that you had adopted detrimental attitude by taking undue advantage of the chair, which you had been holding during deputation with the UT Administration. You illegally retained the official documents record even after relinquishing the charge as SDM (Central), Chandigarh, on January 12, 2011,” the legal notice stated.

“These reports which were published in newspapers has affected the image of my client that too at time when the MC election are due this year. The damage, which has been caused to my client, is beyond expression and repair. However, in order to redress the same, we call upon you to tender unconditional written apology to my client for your misdeeds as mentioned above within a period of one month from the date of the issue of the notice,” the counsel said.

Failing a written apology, the notice threatened to initiate legal action against Shergill at his cost.



UT consumer panel chief to attend national conference
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The newly appointed president of the UT State Consumer Commission, Justice Shyam Sunder (retd), will represent the city at the National Consumer Conference to be held in New Delhi on March 15 on the occasion of the World Consumer Rights Day.

The conference, being organised by the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, will be presided over by Union Minister of State for Consumer Affairs KV Thomas and Union Minister for Law & Justice Veerappa Moily will be the chief guest.

The two-day conference will assess the problems being faced in the implementation of the Consumer Protection Act, besides evaluating the progress made in the working of consumer fora.

Pankaj Chandgothia, president of the Chandigarh Consumer Courts Bar Association (CCCBA), said they would represent a memorandum containing suggestions to streamline the procedure and expedite the hearing of consumer cases with a special emphasis on execution proceedings to Justice Shyam Sunder. 



‘Asbestos causes lung cancer’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
Asbestos, a fireproofing and insulating material used in corrugated cement sheets, plasters and building material in India, is responsible for causing lung and pleural cancers, especially in smokers.

This was stated by Professor Daniel E Banks, visiting professor and head, department of medicine and physician-in-chief, University Hospital, Louisiana State University, School of Medicine, Shreveport, LA, USA, here today. While there is a gradual decline of asbestos use and consequently the pleural cancer (mesotheliomas) in the West, there is a progressive increase in India. There is a great need of putting strict regulations in force to contain the health risks of asbestos, he said.

Professor Banks was here to deliver 8th Dr SK Malik oration at the PGIMER. The oration was instituted in the memory of late Dr SK Malik who headed the department of pulmonary medicine until his death. Thereafter, Dr SK Jindal, who took over in 1988, is heading the department. Dr Jindal introduced the orator to the audience and PGI Director Dr KK Talwar presented the oration scroll and memento to Dr Banks.

Speaking on the subject “Asbestos Exposure in the US and India - two different paths”, Banks said asbestos was responsible for causing lung and pleural cancers, especially in smokers. Asbestosis is an important and often fatal form of occupational lung disease. While the incidence of the more commonly known occupational diseases such as silicosis and coal workers pneumoconiosis is decreasing, the prevalence of asbestos-related lung disease and cancer is on the rise, he said.

Counting upon the risk factors regarding use of asbestos, the visiting professor said: “An important point about asbestos lies in its effects even from a low degree of exposure after a long latency period of several decades. The development of cancer generally occurs after 30-40 years from an early exposure to its fibres for a short period.” 



LPG cylinder bursts, family unhurt

Panchkula, March 9
A family escaped tragedy in the slum area of Rajiv colony in Panchkula when an LPG cylinder burst in their house during the wee hours here today.The blast was so powerful that it damaged the roof of house and goods were gutted.

The police said that at the time of incident nobody was at home. Two fire tenders who had reached the spot controlled the fire in half an hour.

House owner Rekha Devi said that as her daughter-in-law was admitted to a hospital and all family members were there. — TNS



Zirakpur roads chaotic sans bus stand
Rajiv Bhatia
Buses parked near the traffic lights on theZirakpur-Kalka intersection.
Buses parked near the traffic lights on theZirakpur-Kalka intersection. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal

Zirakpur, March 9
For the past several years, Zirakpur’s residents are awaiting a designated bus stand to solve their travelling woes.Residents rue that Zirakpur, known for its multi-storey buildings and malls, is still lacking a proper space for a bus stand.

In the absence of a proper bus stand, scores of buses bound for several destinations halt on the highway near the traffic lights causing inconvenience to passengers, and the motorists. Chaos prevails on the busy highway throughout the day, as buses are parked on the roadsides.

According to available information, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had earlier asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to earmark bus shelters or stands on the stretch and also directed the police to ensure halting of vehicles only at the earmarked places. But, a visit to the area revealed the buses still stopped on the highways near the trafficlights on the Zirakpur-Kalka and Zirakpur-Patiala intersections.

The residents alleged neither the local administration nor the Zirakpur Municipal Council had taken any steps to solve this problem. They also alleged that encroachments on both sides of the highway had made the road accident-prone as many accidents have been reported in the recent past. They demanded a bus stand with all modern facilities be constructed at an approachable site. Mahavir Aggarwal, a president of the Market Welfare Association, Zirakpur, said due to the absence of a bus stand in the town, traffic jam was a routine affair as buses stopped on the road to pick up passengers. He said a proper parking was required on the highway for buses and vehicles to ensure free flow of traffic.

However, an MC official claimed that the council had sent a proposal to the local bodies for constructing a bus stand. The official said the bus stand would be constructed by the PIDB near the Zirakpur-Kalka intersection opposite Paras Down Town Square.

The area councillors had raised the issue of setting up of a bus stand with District Planning Board chairman NK Sharma and MLA Banur Jasjit Singh Bunny in the recent council meetings where Sharma and Bunny stated they would take up the issue with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and also discuss the matter with PIDB officials.



Sharp bend warning signs put upon flyover
Tribune News Service

A chevron indicating sharp turn on the Zirakpur flyover being installed.
A chevron indicating sharp turn on the Zirakpur flyover being installed. A Tribune photograph

Zirakpur, March 9
Following the news report in this column on March 5, titled ‘Curve becoming accident hotspot’, GMR, the firm undertaking maintenance of the Ambala-Chandigarh highway, has installed warning signage on streetlights to alert motorists about the sharp bend on the Zirakpur flyover.

The news report had mentioned that a sharp bend on the flyover was fast becoming an accident prone zone, with almost four mishaps reported in the past two months.

Commuters were find it difficult to judge the sharp turn and were demanding signboards for safety purposes.

An official of the company stated the warning signage was installed on the flyover to indicate the sharp turn.



Police conducts surprise checks

Mohali: The police today carried out surprise checking of vehicles at the Industrial Area, Phase VII, ahead of the ICC World Cup match between West Indies and Ireland in Mohali tomorrow.

A team led by RD Sharma, police in charge, Industrial Area, laid a naka near the Industrial Area, Phase VII, and carried out verifications of various vehicles. He also conducted search operations to keep vigil on anti-social elements. — TNS



PU hosts first e-seminar
Neha Miglani/TNS

Chandigarh, March 9
Panjab University hosted its first e-seminar, which was live podcast yesterday, to celebrate 40 years of the University School of Open Learning (USOL) also known as the department of correspondence studies.

The significance of virtual teaching and role of Information and Communication Technology were highlighted for distance education.

An online layout was given to this two-day ICSSR-sponsored seminar on “Distance Education and National Mission of Education through Information Communication Technology (ICT) for Sustainable Development” organised by USOL. Instead of the usual manual brochures, which are released during seminars on a paper format, a CD was released yesterday at the inaugural ceremony.

The event was inaugurated by the Vice-Chancellor of Himachal Pradesh University (HPU) SK Gupta, who stressed upon the need of every university to strive for e- lessons and interactivity through video conferencing.

The growing benefits of distance education had led to even science programmes being administered through the distance mode, he added.

RC Sobti Vice-Chancellor, Panjab University, delivered the presidential address and affirmed the evolution of society from an agricultural to a knowledge-based society and the need for distance education institutes to open up and evolve into ICT centres.

He underlined the need for starting new courses and enrolling overseas students.

During the first technical session, it was concluded that the latest technologies like 3G, broadband, satellite communication and video conferencing would go a long way in spreading education through the distance mode.



Govt college teachers to get laptops
Karan Raj

Chandigarh, March 9
UT government college faculties are all set to get laptops as part of the higher education department’s ambitious e-learning project.The project aimed at doing away with chalk-and-talk classrooms and is keen on replacing traditional teaching with hi-tech e-learning.

The teachers have been asked to prepare e-content or syllabi for their respective subjects and shift from usual blackboard and lecture theatres to the integrated communication technologies (ICT) enabled classrooms. The teachers have prepared e-books, practical manuals and interactive lecture CDs, which have been approved by the department.

“We have sanctioned funds to all government colleges. The teachers were asked to develop e-learning content and those who have already done it will be receiving these laptops in the first phase. We want to take technology further from usual projector learning and replace blackboards, notebooks and even books with laptops,” revealed a senior official of the education department.

Interestingly, the e-learning project is the first major postulate of “Vision 2010” to have materialised. As per the “goals” jotted in it within a span of five years, the entire higher education of the government colleges would follow the education pattern of various western universities and go hi-tech. Not only the classrooms will be transformed in the ICT-enabled amphitheatres but the students will have e-classes and if possible e-examination.

“The e-classrooms have existed in schools for a long time now but unfortunately in the colleges, technology has been confined to vocational courses, especially related to computers. The idea is to reap maximum benefits of technology for usual subjects like sociology, English, etc. We plan to install the Internet enabled computers in classrooms so that reference material is a click away,” said director higher education Ajoy Sharma.



Cultural bonanza at PU
Anuj Malhotra

Chandigarh, March 9
Panjab University is upbeat with plenty of extra- curricular activities, fests and programmes this month, which are keeping students, staff and organisers on their toes.

The coming week would see “Patchwork 2011”, an annual literary fest of the department of English and cultural studies, “Rose Festival” organised by the university authorities and “Jhankaar” organised by the PU student council.

Patchwork 2011 will be held from March 11 to March 13. “Since this is a literature department, we reiterate literary credentials by holding various literary competitions. Though this is a student venture, teachers are always there to provide guidance and support,” said Rana Nayyar, chairperson of the department of English and cultural studies, PU.

The prime attraction of the fest would be a play “30 days in September” to be staged in the English auditorium from March 11-13.

On the same dates, the university authorities are organising their third “Rose Festival” in the university’s Rose Garden.

Deepak Kaushik, an organiser of the event, said, “We have about 100 different varieties of roses with 20 varieties being added this year. We have kept the participation entry free for all students. This year, we also have a food court being managed by the students of hotel management of the university.”

The university will also witness much popular event amongst students “Jhankaar”, a cultural fest organised by the student council on March 14, 15 and 16.

The campus will for the first time have the President of India, Pratibha Patil coming to deliver a lecture on March 15 for the VM Tiwari Memorial lecture. An announcement was made in this regard at the last Syndicate meeting on the campus.

Meanwhile, “Vimarsh”, an academic reunion on the campus has been postponed and would be held towards the end of this month.



SOPU announces panel for student poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 9
The Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) today announced its new party president and panel for student election on the campus in 2011-2012.Robin Brar was named as the SOPU president at the student centre today in the presence of nearly 200 members of the party.

The announcement was made amidst former student leaders on the campus, including DPS Randhawa, Soantokhwinder Singh Nabha, Khusbaj Jatana, Ajaypal Singh Gill, Dalwinder Goldy, Harpreet Multani and Amit Bhatia.

Outgoing party president Vikramjeet Midukhera declared Brinder Singh Dhillon as the chairman.



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