C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Govt houses
HC vacates stay on allotment
UT told to provide accommodation only as per rules, seniority
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
Government accommodation in the city will now be allotted strictly in accordance with the prevailing rules as well as on the basis of seniority of employees.

The way for allotment of houses and apartments was paved after the Punjab & Haryana High Court vacated the 15-month stay imposed before directing the UT administration to allot vacant houses as per rules and seniority. The bench ruled no allotment would be made by exercise of a discretionary quota. It also directed no house would be earmarked for any officer till the houses earmarked earlier, which were de-earmarked and were being occupied by officers, are not vacated, except in the case of the UT senior superintendent of police.

Justice Surya Kant also indicated the UT administration would put up a list of prospective allottee officers along with a list of vacant houses on its website and invite objections from other officers. The bench further added allotment would be made only after consideration of objections, if any.

Kant issued the directions while disposing of a petition by a retired IAS officer, Asha Sharma, who retired on November 29, 2007 and was appointed as Haryana state information commissioner on January 1, 2008. However, she continued to reside in the same accommodation that was allotted to her during her posting as an IAS officer.

Before parting with the order, the bench directed the administration to allot a suitable house to Sharma as early as possible in accordance with her entitlement. After the house is allotted she would vacate the government house within two weeks, the bench said.

Sharma had sought a stay on the UT administration’s January 2008 order asking her to vacate the accommodation. The high court had then stayed allotment of any government house pertaining to type III (old), IV, V (old), VI (old and new) and VII (old) on December 14, 2009.

Sharma had also sought directions for a waiver of the penal rent for the accommodation. On her plea the high court directed her to approach the UT administrator, which was asked to consider the matter within one month. The bench also ordered against charging penal rent till the request is not considered by the administration.



Retention of govt houses by IAS, IPS officers
Admn set to act tough
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
The Chandigarh Administration is all set to crack the whip on the questionable practice of allowing IAS and IPS officers from Punjab and Haryana on deputation to the Union Territory to de-earmark to themselves and retain houses alloted to them even after repatriation.

In an affidavit submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the UT Administration has stated that it is “actively considering” disallowing this practice (see box for the list of such officers) as part of measures “to ensure objectivity and transparency” in the allotment process under the Government Residences (Chandigarh Administration General Pool) Allotment Rules of 1996.

Equally significantly, the UT Administration is going to crack down on the officers who are retaining two houses - one in the city and another in their place of substantive posting.

Under the proposed amendments to the Rules, “the officers posted in Chandigarh, who have been residing in the ‘earmarked’ houses, shall vacate such houses once they are repatriated to their parent cadre or transferred from the post for which the house was earmarked”. “The officers on deputation in Chandigarh vacating the ‘earmarked’ houses will be allotted the houses as per their entitlement, subject to the availability of the houses,” states the affidavit. Conceding that “there had been some deviations (in the allotment process) which needed to be corrected and some clarifications and modifications are needed to ensure transparency”, the affidavit states that these were “under active consideration of the Chandigarh Administration”.

“Instances have come to notice where some officers are reported to have been maintaining two residences, one residence in Chandigarh and another at the place of their posting outside Chandigarh on the pretext of substantive charge in Chandigarh by showing their field posting as Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Superintendents of Police and Deputy Inspector Generals as additional charges.” “Such officers who are having official residences in the field and at the same time maintaining the Chandigarh Pool House in the garb of substantive charge in Chandigarh should be asked to vacate such houses within three months, failing which they will be liable to pay penal rent as per norms,” the affidavit said. “No officer, while on deputation with the Administration or any other officer from Punjab and Haryana posted in Chandigarh, will be “earmarked” a house above his/per entitlement,” the affidavit states. The issue of earmarking of the houses assumes importance in the backdrop of a number of officers of the Punjab and Haryana cadre awaiting their legitimate allotment, while certain officers retain the official accommodation even after retirement by getting nominations to various commissions.



City heading for water crisis again this summer
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
With the city recording a shortfall of about 18 to 33 million gallons per day (mgd) of water, residents can expect considerable hardship once summer sets in about a month-and-a-half from now. Against the current demand of between 105 to 120 mgd for a population of about 1.2 million, the total availability of water in the city is only 87 mgd - a shortfall of between 18 to 33 mgd. The peak summer months (May and June) are likely to witness the demand touching 120 mgd.

Though senior public health department officials claim the water supply situation is one of the country’s best, this year again city residents are likely to have a tough time.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune Sunil Trehan, a resident of Sector 44, said those who live on the upper floors of houses and apartments in his area have already begun facing problems of low pressure of water supply in the morning. “After 7 am the water flows from the taps at very low pressure, even though it’s still spring and summer has yet to set in. What’ll happen in at the height of summer?” asked Trehan, who resides on the second floor of a Chandigarh Housing Board house.

Another city resident, Dinesh Kumar Soni, who lives in Sector 38, said people are already feeling fed up with the “low water pressure” problem. “Every morning we’ve to use a water pressure booster pump to fill up our water tank. Last year the UT administration had claimed it would ensure 24-hour water supply. What has happened to that promise?” he questioned.

Similarly, Ramesh Kalia, a Sector 22 resident, expressed his apprehensions on the water scenario in the coming days. “The city’s population has been growing rapidly, which has resulted in a shortage of basic utilities. In our area the water comes at a very low pressure,” he lamented.

Sources of city’s water supply

l Bhakhra main line canal is Chandigarh’s main water source from where the city gets 67 million gallons per day (mgd) of water

l About 200 tubewells supply 20 mgd of water daily. Per capita water supply per day is about 280 litres with water supply available for 13 to 19 hours.

l Water distribution system in Chandigarh: Divided into six zones, the city has as many as six independent water works - in Sectors 12, 26, 32, 37, 39 and 52. These water works are fed from the “mother” water works in Sector 39 (also the main treatment plant), which receives the water from the Bhakhra main line canal in Kajauli and various tubewells

l Slum areas are being supplied water through public stand posts, apart from water tankers

Steps to increase supply

l The authorities have decided to bore about 20 more new tubewells to reduce the water shortage. Ironically, however, these wells are unlikely to be ready before July. Even then these wells would help in supplying only 3 million gallons per day (mgd) of water

l Tertiary treated water: The UT administration has also decided to use tertiary water for lawns and for washing cars. A treatment plant has been set up at Diggian located on the Chandigarh-Mohali border. “The plant would begin working from July. With this we’ll be able to save around 10 mgd of water,” said Chandigarh municipal corporation chief engineer SS Bida. 


‘2 lakh kidney failure cases reported every year’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
It is estimated that approximately two lakh patients are diagnosed with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or terminal kidney failure every year in India.

However, only a small number of these patients get treatment with the help of Renal Replacement Therapy either through dialysis or transplantation.

This is primarily because of less awareness about kidney diseases, late referrals to nephrologists and severe organ shortage, said Dr Raka Kaushal, a nephrologist at a private hospital in the city.

In order to spread awareness regarding kidney diseases, the second Thursday of March every year is observed as World Kidney Day.

This year, the day is celebrated with a theme of “Protect the Kidneys - Save the Heart”, indicating a relationship between kidneys and heart.

The first step is to get your kidney function screened and have a healthy lifestyle, said Dr Raka.

Acute kidney disease is reversible and kidneys can be made to function again, but, Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is irreversible and can’t be cured. CKD is a progressive loss in renal function over a period of months or years, the symptoms of which can be hereditary, congenital or acquired.

Diabetes and hypertension are responsible for more than 60 per cent of the CKD cases in India, said the doctor.

Other causes include inadvertent use of over-the-counter medicines, especially pain-killers, abnormal cholesterol levels, smoking, and tobacco consumption.

According to a report from the International Diabetes Federation, diabetic patients in India have doubled from 19 million in 1995 to over 41 million.

With increasing number of diabetic cases, the prevalence and incidents of CKD are also on the rise.



New system has BSNL subscribers fuming over bills
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
The state-owned telecom company is surely giving a tough time to several subscribers this year. Thanks to the problems, which officials dub as a “technical glitch”, in the implementation of a new billing system.

Majority of the subscribers in the city are receiving inflated bills, almost double the amount they usually pay every month as the payments made by them for November, 2010, bills are being shown outstanding.

“I was shocked to see the bill of Rs 3,600 when in the past several years the bill never exceeded Rs 1,800 per month,” said a resident of Sector 35, who was seen arguing with a staff member at the BSNL head office in Sector 34.

“It’s not my fault,” shouted the subscriber when told that the inflated bill was due to an error and the same would be rectified once he showed the payment receipt of his November bill.

Satya Duggal, a resident of Sector 8, also faced a similar problem. She said that she was shocked when she received the bill of Rs 2,500. “A payment of Rs 1,200 made earlier in November is shown as outstanding in this bill,” she added.

Thanks to the new billing software installed by the BSNL, which is supposed to make the billing process easier and customer-friendly. Majority of the customers in the city are having a harrowing time, as they have been billed again for the month of November, 2010, even when they had already made payment for it.

Though officials are willing to “settle” all such cases, subscribers will have to undergo unnecessary harassment of running to BSNL offices to get their cases settled.

The woes of subscribers will not end with just duplicate billing. People who have purchased modems for the BSNL broadband connections have been billed for “installments” whereas they have no such dues. Several mobile and landline subscribers may also end up paying extra to the BSNL since their subscription plans have been changed and they have been charged for it.

A senior official said all the problems would be addressed and solved by the staff, but subscribers will have to show their payment receipt, along with the latest bill.

Customers using BSNL online payment gateways have also been left high and dry since their accounts are showing “no outstanding bills” whereas the bills have been already raised and issued.

Chandrakanta, a resident of Mani Majra, said: “I can’t make the payment online this time as my account was showing “no outstanding bill.” She had to go to a customer care centre for the bill payment.

The online accounts are apparently not compatible with the new billing software and all online users will have to undergo the process of creating new IDs on the BSNL website and register their number again for using the facility.

Admitting that there was “some error”, a senior official said this was only a temporary inconvenience and once the new system takes off, subscribers would get “enhanced” facilities relating to their bills. Officials attribute the discrepancies to mismatch that occurred in transferring data from the old billing system to the new one. “Certain loose ends seem to have caused discrepancies relating to change in the billing plans and outstanding payment,” they said.

Naresh Sharma, BSNL Landline, general manager, also admitted the error caused due to transfer of old data to a new billing system, but promised that all efforts would be made to help the subscribers.

He said with the implementation of the new Call Detail Record (CDR) billing system, subscribers would enjoy a host of facilities and landline customers particularly benefit, as they will pay bills on actual usage and not on number of units of calls made. This, he said, would bring down the cost of calls for those users who talk for short durations.

He said, henceforth, instead of calculating a subscriber’s bill in terms of number of calls made, the calculations would be on the actual duration of the usage. “The total duration of calls made in a billing cycle (monthly) will be divided by 180 seconds (for local calls to landline phones) and the charges calculated according to the pulse rate,” he said.



Booth Scam: Memo submitted to Governor

Chandigarh, March 10
Social Campaign Against Mis-information (SCAM) in a memorandum-cum-demand notice submitted to the UT Administrator and four senior officials of the Chandigarh Administration stated that “The PS Shergill report violates all elementary procedures of law, natural justice and is actuated by malafide and bias.

Shergill has gone beyond his official and legal authority, thus vitiating the entire report, upon which no action can be taken.” The demand has been submitted to the UT Administrator, adviser to the UT Administrator, Home Secretary, Deputy Commissioner-cum-Estate Officer and the legal remembrancer, Chandigarh Administration, by Pankaj Chandgothia, SCAM convener. — TNS



3 schoolkids hurt as bus rams into tree
Tribune News Service

The school bus that hit a tree on the road separating Sectors 8-9 in Panchkula on Thursday.
The school bus that hit a tree on the road separating Sectors 8-9 in Panchkula on Thursday. A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, March 10
Three schoolchildren were injured, one of them seriously, when the bus they were travelling in hit a tree in Sector 8 here on Thursday. More than 35 students of the DC Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 7 were in the schoolbus at the time of the accident.

According to eyewitnesses the bus had exited from Sector 8 and was going towards the road dividing Sector 9 near Nohria Hospital at the time of incident.

Priyanka, one of the victims
Priyanka, one of the victims

As soon as the driver took a turn a cyclist came in front of the bus. In an attempt to save him the driver lost control over the wheel and rammed the bus into a tree.

Priyanka, a Class 1 student, suffered head injuries while two other kids sustained minor injuries. Immediately after the mishap parents of the students and the school’s principal, BB Gupta as well as the police arrived at the scene. The students said the bus was being driven rashly. 



CBI gives clean chit to former SHO
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has given a clean chit to Inspector Dilsher Singh Chandel, former SHO of the Industrial Area Police Station in a graft case.

The CBI sources said Dilsher’s name had been dropped from the chargesheet.

CBI said they have given a clean chit to the Inspector for lack of evidence. However, the CBI has recommended departmental inquiry against him and a communiqué in this regard had been sent to the senior officials.

On October 8, the anti-corruption branch of the CBI arrested Dilsher Singh Chandel, sub-inspector Hans Raj and two civilians Satwant Singh Sethi and Jujhar Singh Sethi on complaint of Gagan Gupta, a resident of Panchkula.

The four were accused of demanding illegal gratification of Rs 40,000.



Mohali civil hospital in race to get accreditation
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, March 10
Efforts are on to give a makeover to the Civil Hospital and to improve its services in order to get accreditation from the National Accreditation Board of Hospitals (NABH).

The Mohali Civil Hospital is among the five district-level hospitals in Punjab which have been selected for accreditation. The other four are civil hospitals located at Bathinda, Amritsar, Jalandhar and Mata Kaushalya Hospital, Patiala.

‘Gap analysis’ is being done by various teams formed in this regard and shortcomings in the hospital here are being removed in order to achieve the standards laid down for getting the accreditation.

Modifications are being done in accordance with the suggestions given by consultants who have been hired for the work by the Quality Council of India. These consultants act as liaison between the Quality Council of India and the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC).

Sources said on a scale of 10, the local Civil Hospital stood around level five and would have to go up to at least level seven to get the accreditation. Continuous quality improvement had to be brought about. Deadlines had been fixed and all efforts were being made to reach the threshold level at the earliest.

In an effort to provide an aesthetic uplifting to the hospital, interior designers have been engaged. Their designs would be sent to the managing director of the PHSC for approval.

Three CCTV cameras have also been installed to facilitate the working of the hospital. One has been installed near the registration counters, one in the emergency wing while the third was installed in the area which connected the OPD block and the emergency wing.

Dr Rajiv Bhalla, SMO in-charge of the hospital, said the quality of services was being improved to achieve high standards, which were essential for getting the accreditation after which the hospital would reach a “standardised level.”



Aanganwari workers demand pay hike

Panchkula, March 10
Demanding a raise in salary and appointment on regular basis, the Aanganwari Workers and Helpers Union held a protest in Sector 4 here today. Thousands of members of the association from different parts of the state reached here to participate in the agitation.

The state president of the union, Devendri Sharma, while addressing the members, said their agitation would continue till they were not paid a minimum of Rs 12,000 salary, social security benefits, including provident fund and pension. The union submitted a memorandum to Woman and Child Development Minister Geeta Bhukkal. — TNS



Syndicate Meeting
UBS prof repatriated to parent dept
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 10
A special Syndicate meeting of Panjab University today repatriated Manoj Kumar, a professor in University Business School (UBS), to his parent department from the department of evening studies, where he was shifted seven years ago for allegedly fudging data to gain higher grading among the business schools of India.

The special meeting was held after members of the teaching fraternity mounted pressure on the PU authorities demanding repatriation of Kumar to his parent department.

During the past seven years, two separate enquires were held to probe the case which had Manoj and the then chairperson, Satish Kapoor, as the key accused. While Satish Kapoor retired in due course, Manoj was sent to the department of evening studies.

The first enquiry was conducted by Prof Varinder Kumar whose recommendations were declined by the Senate.

This was followed by another enquiry by Justice Nehru, who maintained that Manoj Kumar and Satish Kapoor, who had retired, deserved to be exonerated from the charges. His report was approved by the Senate 
in 2010.

Centrally funded status not notified: Retired teachers to be re-employed

Reacting to the High Court’s decision of denying enhancement of the retirement age of teachers for the reason that Panjab University was not a central university, a majority of Syndics quizzed PU Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti about his claims of “centrally funded’ status. Sobti clarified that notification of the centrally funded status was yet to be done.

“The retirement age may not be enhanced, but PU will as per norms re-employ 17 teachers who had approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanding extension of retirement age from 60 to 65 years,” said Sobti.

Repeated recruitment ads: Blot on PU’s credibility

Panjab University’s decision of advertising again the posts of Registrar and Dean, College Development Council (DCDC), invited the ire of various Syndics. While the VC reportedly cited ‘technical’ errors in screening as the key reason of advertisement, the Syndics claimed it to be a blot on the university’s credibility. “We advertise key posts, do screening, but never hold interviews. Even if interviews are held, no permanent appointment is made. The university is suffering from staff crunch and this re-advertisement process is a blot on our credibility. It’s time for self-introspection of our much-hyped achievements, if we are not able to attract competent people,” said a Syndic. When contacted, Professor Sobti refused to comment on the issue.



PU students to light up lives of visually impaired
Karan Raj

Chandigarh, March 10
Living up to its motto of “Padho aur Padhao” and leaving behind socially relevant features, Panjab University community radio has gone a step ahead. Coming to the aid of hundreds of visually impaired students pursuing higher studies in various city colleges, the university students have started recording audio books for the forthcoming audio library.

Station manager Kawaljit Singh said he stumbled upon the idea when a visually impaired student during an interview complained about the scarcity of good audio and Braille books for various subjects at bachelors and masters levels.

“While we have a variety of such books available at the school level, there are hardly any available at the college level. A majority of these students have to depend on the NSS volunteers to read books to them. These sessions are dependent on the availability of these volunteers,” he said.

The first book to have been recorded is a reference book for MA history. “When I was in school, books were never a problem, but during graduation and postgraduation, I did not have many options. I am generally dependent on someone or the other for reading books to me for recording.

I could not do well in my last semester, as the course material was not available. I tried to manage with audio cassettes or CDs, but those were of little help,” said a student who received one of the audio books recently. Several others have also shown interest in the project, as Prem, who is working at the PGI, said, “It feels good to contribute towards the education of visually impaired. Jyotirgamya is doing a good job.”



From Schools & Colleges
Yoga meet

CHANDIGARH: Ashish Gahlawat, a student of Class XII of GMSSS, MHC, Mani Majra, performed outstandingly in the Asian Yoga Championship organised by the Yoga Federation of Thailand from January 22 to January 23 in Pattaya, Thailand. Ashish proved his mettle in the championship by winning the first prize in rhythmic yoga, second in artistic yoga and fourth in artistic pair yoga events.

Baby show

A baby show “Aakarshan” was organised at AKSIPS-65. The school wore a “Disney World” look as it was decorated with beautiful and colourful flowers, toys, balloons, Disney characters, etc, along with brightly dressed and cheerful tiny tots.

Prize distribution

Postgraduate Government College, Sector 11, felicitated its achievers by organising a prize distribution function on Wednesday. The occasion was graced by VK Singh, finance-cum-education secretary, Chandigarh Administration. About 300 students were awarded for their excellence in academics, cultural activities, sports, NCC/NSS and various co-curricular activities. To motivate the young achievers, college colours, roll of honour, special prizes and trophies were given. The chief guest honoured 30 students with the college roll of honour and 80 students with college colour.

The principal also presented the college annual report highlighting the achievements and activities of the college in the current session. In appreciation of the hard work done by Class IV employees of the college, Om Parkash, Gurmail Singh, Hari Ram and Kamal were awarded special prizes.


Guru Gobind Singh College for Women, Sector 26, organised its annual prize distribution function yesterday. VK Singh, finance secretary, UT Administration, was the chief guest.

Dr CS Grewal, director sports, Panjab University, was the guest of honour.

College principal Dr Charanjeet Kaur Sohi presented the annual report of the college highlighting the achievements of students in academics, sports and cultural activities. A total of 417 students were given prizes for their meritorious achievements and about 69 students were given prizes in the field of sports.


On the occasion of Women’s Day, Dr Puneet Bedi, principal of MCM DAV College for Women, was honoured by various institutions.

The event was organised by members of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association. Dr Bedi was a special invitee, along with Justice Daya Chaudhary, Justice Nirmaljeet Kaur, Justice Sabina, Justice Ritu Bahri and Priya Khurana, joint secretary.

Students of MCM DAV also presented a classical dance performance. At another event organised by SAS Institute of Information Technology and Research, Mohali, Dr Bedi delivered a talk on “Women’s Empowerment - Reality or Myth.”


Meenu Verma, associate professor, department of commerce, Post Graduate Government College for Girls, Sector 11, was invited by the International Academy of Management and Business, the USA, to present a research paper during an annual conference held at Orlando, Florida, from January 17 to January 19, 2011. Hundred participants and resource persons from various institutions participated in the three-day conference. Her paper was on “Corporate Social Responsibility in India-Health and Safety Issues”.


Students of Guru Gobind Singh College for Women, Sector 26, organised a farewell party for the outgoing students on Thursday. Students presented songs and cultural items. A fashion show was held.


State NSS Cell, education department, Chandigarh, and Post Graduate Government College, Sector 11, organised a rally on Thursday to create awareness about Right To Education (RTE). Bikram Singh Rana, state liaison officer, NSS Cell, Chandigarh, flagged off the rally. Around 200 NSS volunteers took part in the rally.


A blood donation camp was organised by the Business Club of University Business School (UBS) on Thursday. The Rotary Blood Bank Society, Sector 37, collected more than 70 units of blood. — TNS

PSEB exams begin

Mohali: The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) classes VIII, X and XII exams are starting from March 11 and will continue till April 9. As per orders of the Mohali Deputy Commissioner, presence of parents and relatives has been prohibited outside the exam centres. —TNS



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