C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


UT-Panchkula Connectivity
3 new passages to ease traffic
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

What’s Being Planned

n Level crossing near Modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra
n Underbridge opposite Halo Majra
n Overbridge near Industrial Area connecting Sectors 17 and 18 of Panchkula
n Diversions on the road to Mansa Devi Complex across IT park

Chandigarh, April 10
The UT Administration has drawn up an ambitious road project to ease traffic between the city and Panchkula by adding at least three more passages to take the pressure off Madhya Marg.

The route plan now has earmarked an overbridge near the rail crossing of the Modern Housing Complex in Mani Majra; an underbridge near Halo Majra; and a flyover from near the Sukhna choe bridge in the Industrial Area to Sectors 17-18 of Panchkula. The road to Mansa Devi Complex, through the IT park, is also a “rush reliever”.

The IT park road has emerged as an alternative for those going towards Mansa Devi. But it covers only a small portion of Panchkula. Morning and evening office rush hours are the worst.

VK Singh, Finance-cum-Engineering Secretary, UT Administration, said Rs 20 crore had already been approved for the Mani Majra level crossing road and work was about to commence soon. The narrow road near the crossing witnesses serpentine queues and office goers are the worst affected.

Ground details have also been worked out for the overbridge near Halo Majra and will cost about Rs 15 crore. The overbridge will benefit people who had to take narrow roads for going towards Panchkula without entering the city. The tendering process has begun and plan maps are expected shortly.

The administration has also carried out a survey on the overbridge from near the Industrial Area.

The Finance Secretary said drafts were also being prepared for a level crossing near the IT park (Phase III) and a new road near Raipur Kalan.



Inter-state gang of thieves in police net
Three UP-based men, local jeweller held on March 29
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
In a major catch, the Chandigarh Police have busted an organised inter-state gang of thieves with the arrest of at least three of its members based in Uttar Pradesh and their local accomplice running a jewellery shop at Manimajra.

The arrests, which were made on March 29, led the police to solve at least 24 cases, which included 12 of chain snatching from various parts of the city and six of car theft.

The accused were identified as Shane Alam, alias Aslam, a resident of Kiratpur village in Bijnor district, Israr Khan of Bhabhipur village in Badaun district, Vicky of Valipur village in Bulandshahr district and Ravi Kumar, a local jeweller.

Six Maruti cars, 17 two-wheelers and some jewellery had been recovered from the possession of the miscreants. The arrests were made following a tip-off.

Giving details, UT’s officiating Senior Superintendent of Police HS Doon said those arrested had a criminal background as all of them had been previously arrested by the Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab police.

“Israr Khan, who was arrested by the Zirakpur police, was facing trial in a case in which his brother Ibrar Khan and three others had been convicted and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. Due to his deliberate absence from court, the pronouncement of punishment was pending against Israr,” said Doon.

The gang was active in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh and Uttar Pradesh. They used to dispose of stolen vehicles in Uttar Pradesh and sell the chains snatched to Ravi, said the police. Other members of the gang, based in other states, were yet to be arrested.

“We are hopeful of solving many more such cases with the arrest of the culpits. More arrests in this connection are likely to take place soon,” said Doon. The accused were remanded in police custody till April 11.

Highly professional gang

The accused were highly professional, said a police source. “Each of them used to take at least three rooms at different locations, especially in the periphery of the city, on rent. They used to keep stolen vehicles there before disposing those of. They did not give their addresses to other members of the gang,” said the police. Many of them used to commit crimes with other assailants, who were not members of the gang. They never disclosed the identity of their partners to members of the gang. “Even they used code language while talking over phone,” said the police.

Holi played spoilsport

Due to large-scale Holi celebrations in Uttar Pradesh, the accused could not dispose of the stolen vehicles which had been recovered by the police from their possession. According to sources, they had contacted their receiver at Chandosi in Uttar Pradesh three or four times in March to buy the vehicles, but he asked them to wait due to Holi celebrations. In the meantime, the police arrested them and recovered the vehicles.



After 5 misses, PGI animal house to be formally opened today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
The animal house at the PGI is once again in news. And not for some new medical research work. After more than a year of its establishment, the PGI authorities have postponed its formal inauguration five times. Finally, the PGI authorities have zeroed in on a dignitary to inaugurate the facility.

Dr VM Katoch, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Government of India, and Director-General, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), is scheduled to inaugurate the facility tomorrow.

UT Administrator Shivraj Patil was scheduled to inaugurate the animal house on July 31 last year. But it was mired in a controversy over the sprucing up by the Chandigarh Housing Board and the inauguration function was cancelled at the last minute after a communique was received from the Governor House.

Even though the PGI Director, Dr KK Talwar, has mentioned about the starting of the facility on several occasions, including the foundation day of the institute on July 7 and Independence Day last year, the authorities want to show their “performance” to a “VIP”.

The animal house had earlier been functioning from an old building that lacked basic facilities such as air-conditioned rooms for animals for use in research. Consequently, the animals started falling sick and researchers were doubtful if the research conducted on them would bear any fruit.



Faculty shortage in forensic dept
No practical class in entire semester
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
In a befitting example of how shortage of teachers in the newly set up departments at Panjab University is causing academic loss to students, not a single practical class was held in the six-month semester for MSc (second semester) forensic science batch in the biological sciences subject.

The course is being run in collaboration with the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh, at PU’s Institute of Forensic Science and Criminology.

As a part of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between the university and the CFSL, the latter would provide assistance for the practical part of the curriculum designed.

However, ahead of their semester exams in May, students claim that they have no clue what the practical subject is all about.

“The university may take its own time to recruit teachers, but we have paid hefty fee and more importantly this learning phase of our life will never come back. When we go out to do jobs, we will be put to shame that we do not know what happens in this practical subject,” said an MSc student on the condition of anonymity.

These students protested outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office two days ago highlighting their concern, although the Dean University Instructions (DUI) and officiating Vice-Chancellor, Bhupinder Singh Brar, asked them to redress the issue through proper channel and first bring the issue to the notice of the department and redressal committee of students.

Department officials, however, say that they have been persistently trying to get certain scientists to teach the practical subject. “The problem of the students has already been addressed. We have requested a scientist to take the class from Wednesday onwards. Since we signed an MoU with the CFSL, the practical part of the curriculum is being taken care of by scientists. But due to the nature of their profession these scientists are busy throughout the day,” said RK Pathak, co-ordinator of the Institute of Forensic Science and Criminology, PU.

On being questioned about the faculty shortage at the centre, he added, “A vacant post in the centre has already been advertised by the university and officials are in the process of recruiting teachers. Although this practical exam is not a taxing subject, we are trying to fix the problem permanently.”

Currently, three teachers of the department of anthropology, including the coordinator, are running the course at the centre for forensic science. However, in past the university officials have acknowledged the issue of extreme faculty shortage in the department of anthropology. Vice-Chancellor Ranbir Chander Sobti had said on an earlier occasion that the teaching posts in this department were being filled on priority basis since it faced the maximum shortage.


Gender ratio in many Mohali rural belts dismal
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 10
The phenomenal population growth rate of 32 per cent, attributed to an economic boom in Chandigarh’s periphery, does not correspond with the prevailing gender ratio in certain rural and semi-rural areas of the Mohali district.

Certain rural belts have registered a dismal ratio. Himatgarh village near Dhakoli in Zirakpur has recorded a gender ratio of 610 females to 1000 males, followed by Lakhnour camp (predominantly housing Border Security Force battalions), that has recorded a gender ratio of 769 females to 1000 males.

Another defence area, Dappar in Lalru, has recorded a gender ratio of 811 females to 1000 males, reveal provisional district-level figures of Census 2011, released by the District Census Officer-cum-Additional Deputy Commissioner Mohali MS Kainth.

In the age group of 0 to 6 years, the gender ratio in the district has been recorded at 842. Nayagaon, located next to Chandigarh, and Balongi, located next to Mohali, have recorded a gender ratio of 847 females to 1000 males and 814 females to 1000 males, respectively.

On the contrary, urban areas of the Mohali subdivision have recorded a gender ratio of 906 females to 1000 males but rural areas in the subdivision have 864 females to 1000 males.

The figures reveal that the Dera Bassi subdivision is an exception, where the gender ratio in urban and rural areas is almost the same. The Zirakpur MC area, Lalru and Sohana are the other exceptions, where a gender ratio of 894 females to 1000 males has been recorded.

With the total population now officially pegged at 9,86,147 (5,24,989 males and 4,61,158 females), the youngest district of the state has registered an increase of 2,47,830 since the 2001 Census.

The maximum population growth (41,126) has been recorded in Mohali town. The district has registered a literacy rate of 84.9 per cent, which is a close second after Hoshiarpur district, that has a literacy rate of 85.4 per cent.



Men in khaki help their kin

THE policemen posted at the Mata Mansa Devi shrine complex had a field day in allowing their friends and relatives to pay obeisance to the deity out of turn during the Chaitra Navrata fair.

Not only this, the policemen also allowed their near and dear ones to park their vehicles in the VVIP parking to facilitate them in reaching the shrine, causing discontent among other devotees, who had come from far-off places and stood in line for hours together.

The VVIP pass holders also had to face inconvenience in parking their vehicles as they did not find any place for their vehicles in view of the heavy rush during the fair.

Curious turn

Panjab University’s history department case, in which a teacher sent a legal notice to 17 students and refused to entertain the allegations levelled by certain students, has take an interesting turn.

While a fraction of these students are now ‘scared’ of legal action being mooted by their teacher, others claim that it was under the pressure of student leaders that they wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor, levelling serious allegations.

They added that their only grievance was that they had a reappear result in the same subject twice.

Even as the matter remains unsolved till the answersheets are finally brought to the Vice-Chancellor’s office, the annoyed teacher has claimed that he will not tolerate any attempt by students to tarnish his image.

Challan spree

In the charged-up atmosphere during the recently concluded semi-final match between India and Pakistan, an anti-tobacco drive by the Mohali district health authorities against smokers literally went unnoticed.

As fans cheered and clapped, the enforcement teams also stepped up their drive against smokers. During the match, around 15 persons were challaned for smoking in the stadium.

Some Pakistani fans who were seen smoking escaped falling in the hands of the teams. A member of a team questioned the frisking by the police as fans had smuggled in cigarettes and lighters.

Yuvraj fans

This may not be good news for the Kings XI Punjab team as many cricket fans will be seen supporting local hero and Pune Warriors’ skipper Yuvraj Singh during the match between the two teams at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium on April 13.

“We are least bothered that Yuvraj is leading the Pune team. He is our star and we want to see him sending every ball across the boundary,” said Jatinder Yadav, Sanjay Vashisht and Rajiv Kumar, students of a local college. When told that that the Kings XI Punjab team would lose the match this way, the reply was, “Who cares?”

“He has won the hearts of every Indian with his superb show during the World Cup. I wish that he entertains his fans at his home ground. I will be happy if his team win as I am going to support him on April 13,” said Kriti Malhotra, a diehard Yuvraj fan.

Bloom time

Visitors to gardens in the tricity are witness to unmatched colours of natural beauty in different kinds of flowers these days. Flowers in the Rose Garden are in full bloom.

Other gardens, including Shanti Kunj and Terraced Garden, are decked up. More striking are flowers on trees along roads separating sectors. It is amusing to watch visitors trying their hands at photography and posing in front of cameras.

Backing out

Even as reports suggest that many of the aspirants for the post of PGI Director have been leaving no stone unturned to get the top post, Dr V Sakuja, the seniormost doctor at the PGI, has decided to withdraw from the contest.

Dr Sakhuja did not go to New Delhi for the interviews. He said, “I do not want my specialisation and research to suffer due to the administrative work.”

Contributed by Sanjay Bumbroo, Neha Miglani, Rajmeet Singh, Akash Ghai, Sanjeev Singh Bariana and Arun Sharma 



Pilot launches BSNL’s value-added services
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Union Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology Sachin Pilot launched value-added services of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) in the Punjab circle, including Chandigarh, here today.

These included ‘dial a video’, ‘live share’ and ‘video SMS’ services. Users would be able to share videos through their mobile phones through SMS or popular social networking sites.

The ‘video SMS’ service would allow users to leave video messages for anyone as long as they had a phone which supported video calls.

Pilot also spoke about progress in ‘Project Arrow’, which was undertaken as an exercise to enhance the quality of service in core areas and upgrading the look and feel of post offices. At least 25 post offices were covered and at least 18 more post offices were now ready, Pilot added.



Open House Response
Chemists carry out loot in open

The field of medicine, supposed to be the most ethical profession, has in modern times turned out to be the most unethical. Almost all manufacturing companies are driven by greed and have on their rolls, experts who advise them on how to evade the legal requirements with an aim to maximise the profits as has been correctly highlighted by Sanjeev Singh Bariana in his article “Arbitrary pricing of medicines”.

There are many examples of the same company manufacturing the same single-salt medicine under two different names and with different prices. It amounts to the same person charging different price for the same product. How is this being allowed? I have strips of two medicines having the same salt atorvastatin and also of the same strength 10 mg. Both are manufactured by the same company. But both carry different MRP. While a generic version is available at a heavy discount, the other so-called branded version has little discount.

Another company is also doing the same thing with another salt alpozalam. It is manufacturing two versions of different prices. Then there is the malpractice of printing MRP only on bulk boxes and not on the unit packing inside, which allows the retailer to charge at will.

Then again, the manufacturing or the marketing company give the same brand medicine to different retailers at different rates, which is against marketing ethics, but who cares?

If I understand the law, medicine companies are prohibited from advertising, but products are advertised galore.

The system of free foreign trip and expensive gifts to prescribing doctors is well known.

All pricing malpractices are taking place under the shelter of two words “generic” and “branded”. What does “generic” means, even the drug controller will not be able to explain.

The laws are all in place. The main problem is enforcement. The enforcement officials are either threatened into silence or bought over. — Pankaj Chandgothia, Chandigarh

Should stop fleecing patients

It is shocking to learn that a chemist shop in the emergency ward of the PGI has been rented out for a whopping Rs 42 lakh per month and taking service tax into account, it is more than Rs 5 crore a year.

Though, as per the contract, the owners of this shop will give 15 per cent discount on all branded medicines and 30 per cent on all surgical items one can easily imagine, how the margin of profit the medicines fetch if we consider the concession is even 30 per cent. Under this extenuating position maximum retail price (MRP) is nothing but befooling people.

In fact, we have to go to the roots of this gigantic problem being faced by the residents. First of all who fixes the MRP and what are the parameters to fix such an exorbitant prices of medicines?

No parameters are applied to fix MRP. There is no check on pharmaceutical companies who manufacture medicines prescribing MRP with huge margins of even more than 100 per cent in certain cases. The Union Government did nothing all these years to check this loot. Consequently, exorbitant chargeable rates of the medicines would certainly fill the coffers of the manufactures as well as the chemists at the cost of patients.

It is a vicious circle where in the pharmaceuticals lure the doctors to prescribe new-generation medicines in lieu of attractive commissions or overseas tours and the poor patients are the worst sufferers as the cost of treatment escalate manifold. The leading multinational pharmaceuticals charge manifold for the same antibiotic that costs less under the generic names. PGI and other government hospitals should have a sufficient stock of medicines and other needed equipment of its own to provide the needy irrespective of the ordinary or the serious ailments.

If it is not possible, the premises in the hospital may be allotted to some NGOs with the condition that they would provide medicines to the patients on no profit no loss basis.

Alternatively, all hospitals should provide free premises to the chemists with the condition that they will sell the required medicines at 5 per cent profit on the actual billing which the chemists have paid to the manufacturers, certainly not at the MRP which is altogether a factious. — SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Common man suffers everyday

In his article, ‘Arbitrary pricing of medicines by Chemists’, Sanjeev Singh Bariana has raised an issue of great relevance to the common man who has to bear all treatment costs from his pocket.

The MRP of very common drugs varies from manufacturer to manufacturer despite having same salt composition. Experience of The Tribune reporter Arun Sharma’s purchases showing big difference is not the solitary example. Common man suffers every day. The attendants in a hurry to provide medicines to their patients do not have time to consider the overcharging by chemists.

That the common man is invariably fleeced every time is not uncommon in the corridors of the hospitals. It is an everyday order for him. When it comes to life saving drugs, the agony get manifolds, as these are shown as ‘unavailable’. In order to save the life of ‘patient’ he demands to get from any source and at any price. The unscrupulous chemist notices his ‘concern’ and provides the medicine and gets the ‘price’ and not the MRP printed on the packaging.

High rentals at the GMCH and PGI fixed as a result of the auction of the shop is no deterrent to the shops working in them. The truth is that these big chemist establishments do not wish to be outbidden as they know there is ‘much’ in being in than being out of the institutions. A thorough enquiry in this aspect needs to be conducted by the health department. The institutions like the PGI and the GMCH must not feel shy in dealing with the situation of fleecing of patients and their attendants by the chemists and must devise a policy that regulates the sale of medicines in the institutions. — Satish Chandra Sharma, Chandigarh

Administration must act

I got a peep into the hoax of arbitrary pricing of medicines, recently, when a medicine being sold for Rs 2,600 at a counter of the PGI was available for Rs 1,600 at a chemist shop in GMCH, Sector 16. An injection available for Rs 180 inside a private hospital in Jaipur was available for Rs 110, about 2 km away. These days I am consciously making a comparison of medicine prices at different shops and except for uniformity for small medicines like Disprin, there is a very big difference in medicine prices. It is not possible that the government was not aware about such a big discrepancy. The newspaper had raised a very pertinent question and the issue should be raised till the time the UT administration got the authorities concerned into action. Otherwise, a common person will be forced to believe that ‘palms were being greased in the correct quarters’. — Gurmit Saini, Mohali

Shops should not be auctioned

It is a matter of fact that the chemists overcharge for medicines. It is openly known that the chemists sell medicines to patients/customers without the prescription of the doctor. Usually, the chemists charge the MRP as printed on the wrappers/cartons and do not issue the cash memos to customers.

The general public is ignorant about this evil practice carried out by the chemists. Only, if you insist, they offer you a discount of 10 per cent but without the cash memo.

It is a matter of utter shame that the chemist shops in the PGI and other government hospitals charge exorbitantly as they get the shops through auctions at huge prices. It is beyond the imagination of the common man that a chemist shop in the PGI has to pay a monthly rent of Rs 42.43 lakh apart from the cost of staff and other maintenance expenditure. Surely, they are forced to recover this huge rent from the poor and helpless patients.

The suggestion given by the author that the PGI chemist shops should not be auctioned is worth considering and should be made applicable. It should surely be replaced with the system of “A draw of lots coupled with a vigil on the price of medicines in the shop”, as rightly pointed out by the writer. — RK Kapoor, Chandigarh


Pure business issue

Chemists at the PGI and other hospitals are charging arbitrary prices. I think this it is a pure business issue. The chemists are paying high rentals and working under strict conditions for discount ranging from 15 to 30 per cent .

More issues needing to be looked into included heavy discounts, schemes or free quantities on purchase many of which are hidden and never brought to the knowledge of purchasers. Other than this, chemists sell medicine of same salt and full strips and entire quantity prescribed in by the doctors. The attendants /purchaser cannot, often, specify the brand or the quantity he needs.

This has happened with me as a chemist in PGI sold me similar salt and in a quantity which I never wanted to purchase. Had I not complained, to PGI authorities, against the chemist the medicine would have been lying with me. The Health authorities need to make the attendants and purchasers aware of discounts, MRPs and other benefits.

Majority of chemist sell medicine without bills as they do not allow discounts and sell medicine other than prescribed. The menace is visible in other markets also. For example, chemists in Sectors 19, 22 and 16 never give any discount even after asking. The ones in Sectors 11 and 32 offer discounts even without asking. Majority of the attendants, who purchase medicine, are unaware about the salt composition or the medicine pricing. They are pre-occupied with condition of patient and least bother about the rates and quality and quantity. The chemist knows the state of affair of mind of medicine purchaser and they take benefit of these conditions.

— RK Garg, Chandigarh 



One Lokpal Bill not enough, says Justice Sachar
Neha Miglani
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
“The government had almost decided to scuttle the Lokpal Bill and the Bill proposed earlier was just a joke. The movement does not end at Jantar Mantar by Anna Hazare ending his fast. There is a lot left to accomplish to save this nation and one Lokpal Bill will not solve the problems,” said Justice Rajinder Sachar, while delivering Comrade Surinder Mohan memorial lecture at Lajpat Rai Bhawan, Sector 15, here today.

The event was organised by the People Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in association with the Servants of the People Society.

Beginning his speech on the topic ‘Present state of politics in the country’ with a humble submission, Justice Sachar said, “My real identity is not of being a Justice at Delhi High Court or being called a former Chief Minister’s son, I want to be known as a member of the socialist party who joined it in 1946.”

Recalling memories of working with Comrade Surinder Mohan, in whose memory the lecture was organised today, Sachar said, “He (Comrade Mohan) was an encyclopaedia and had a phenomenal memory. He was an unassuming man. A day before he passed away, he was at Jantar Mantar supporting a nation-wide protest. In fact, he passed away fighting for people.”

He added that, “I have been saying since long that the Lokpal Bill was toothless and powerless since the common people could not even complain about corrupt practices. We have been saying that there is trivialisation of politics, but I call it ‘politicisation of criminals’. It is a known fact politicians have been taming criminals.”

He quoted the comments of Vice-President Hamid Ansari and highlighted how nearly 23 per cent Members of Parliament had criminal cases registered against them as per data collected in 2004.

“Do you think that the candidates who contest elections, declare their assets and details of cases against them out of will? There was a struggle of social activists behind it and the Supreme Court of India made it mandatory. The parliamentarians made all attempts to ignore this clause and disapproved it saying that they are the lawmakers. But eventually the decision of the Supreme Court was binding,” said Justice Sachar.

In an enraged tone, he questioned the audience, “Even the animals would not tolerate so much. Will the people in this county suffer so much quietly?”

Justice Sachar mocked the idea of taxing water in Punjab, as mooted by certain bureaucrats. He also expressed concern on the problems of drugs and female foeticide in Punjab.

The lecture was attended by several others associated with the Servants of the People Society and some of them had come from Bhatinda, Ambala and interiors of Punjab to share their experiences about Comrade Surinder Mohan.



Satvik veena maestro to perform today
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 10
Internationally acclaimed classical instrumental music maestro Salil Bhatt will present a satvik veena recital at a special baithak programme organised by Pracheen Kala Kendra at Randhawa Auditorium, Punjab Kala Bhawan, here on April 11 at 7 pm.

Credited with twenty albums, many in jugalbandi with foreign maestros, Salil Bhatt had won pre-Grammy nomination and he is the first ever privileged musician to perform in the Parliament of Germany. Acclaimed tabla virtuoso Prithaviraj Mishra would accompany him. As per Sajal Koser the entry to the concert is free.



Mata Mansa Devi Shrine
Drama as tehsildar denied entry
Tribune News Service

Panchkula tehsildar Satish Singla (side profile) argues with police officials near the VVIP gate after he was prevented from entering the Mata Mansa Devi Shrine complex on Sunday.
Panchkula tehsildar Satish Singla (side profile) argues with police officials near the VVIP gate after he was prevented from entering the Mata Mansa Devi Shrine complex on Sunday. A Tribune photograph

Panchkula, April 10
High drama was witnessed at the VVIP entrance to the Mata Mansa Devi Shrine after police officials prevented local tehsildar Satish Singla from entering the shrine here today.

According to eyewitnesses, as soon as Singla alighted from his official vehicle near VVIP gate No. 3, the policemen posted there demanded a pass from the official.

Even though Singla tried to convince the policemen that he was a government official, the latter did not heed to his request, resulting in heated exchange of words.

However, the matter was resolved when officials of the Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board learned about the incident and intervened.

Meanwhile, policemen posted at the shrine complex had a field day as they allowed their friends and relatives to pay obeisance at the shrine out of turn during the ongoing Chaitra Navrata fair.

They also allowed their near and dear ones to park their vehicles in the VVIP parking area to facilitate them in reaching the shrine, causing discontent among other devotees who had come from far-off places and waited in queues for hours together.

The VVIP pass holders also had to face inconvenience as a large number of devotees tried to push their way through the VVIP gates today.

The VVIPs also faced problem in parking their vehicles as they did not find any place for their vehicles in view of the heavy rush.

Shrine board chief executive officer DP Dattana said over 1.23 lakh devotees had visited the shrine complex to pay obeisance at the shrine complex by 6 pm.

He said the devotees had so far offered Rs 16,43,200 in cash, 17 gold and 257 silver items as offerings.



RWA delegation submit memo at Raj Bhawan

Chandigarh, April 10
The Federation of Sector Welfare Associations (FOSWAC) comprising 54 Resident Welfare Associations today organised a rally at Rally Ground, Sector 25, to mark their protest and to create awareness among the public on the important issues of public interests like rampant corruption, billions of dollars of black money stashed in Swiss Banks and other tax havens, price rise of essential commodities, deteriorating law and order conditions and preserving the edict, legacy and heritage of Chandigarh.

After the end of the rally, a delegation of five persons went to Punjab Raj Bhawan and handed over a memorandum. The members, with chain of vehicles and displaying banners, posters, placards and stickers, reached the Rally Ground. The rally was addressed by PC Sanghi, chairman, FOSWAC, Sushil Gupta and president, Citizen Forum on Human Rights, Surinder Verma. — TNS



Protest against GMADA

Mohali, April 10
Members of the Plot Allotment Sangharsh Committee, Sectors 76 and 80, have decided to hold a protest by involving family members and various employees’ associations against the failure of GMADA to hold a draw of lots for the remaining plots. The protest will be held on April 23.

Sucha Singh Kalour, president of the association, said Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was also GMADA’s chairman, had given permission for the development of Sectors 76 to 80, but residents were suffering because of the indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned. — OC



Damaged playground equipment to be replaced
Tribune News Service

Broken playground equipment in a park at Phase XI, Mohali.
Broken playground equipment in a park at Phase XI, Mohali. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, April 10
Residents can now hope to see new multi-play equipment for their children in their neighbourhood parks with the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) deciding to replace broken and damaged playground equipment in 125 parks across the town.

Around Rs 4 crore is being spent on replacing the equipment.

In a recent survey, the officials had found that a majority of parks had been having damaged slides and swings for the past many years.

Recently, GMADA had given a fresh lease of life to the ageing equipment by giving a fresh coat of paint in green and yellow shades. However, it did not serve the purpose as these remained in disuse.

GMADA chief administrator Saravjit Singh said the equipment were being replaced in 125 parks across the town. Tenders were being invited for the purpose.

Sources in GMADA revealed that the outdoor state-of-the-art multi-play equipment would be installed in a time-bound manner.

In the past, residents had been complaining that none of the officials had visited the parks to check the condition of equipment ever since their installation.



Career fiesta for students

Panchkula, April 10
In order to provide an opportunity to students to have a glimpse of varied career options in non-conventional courses like hospitality, aviation and fashion designing, a two-day career fiesta was organised at the Bhavan Vidyalaya in Sector 15 here, which concluded today.

According to a press note, this would act as a guide on different avenues to students. Experts from various institutes shared their expertise with the students.

Colonel Virk and Priyanka Malhotra of the ICL Group of Colleges gave a motivational talk to the students. — TNS



Free medical check-up camp

Chandigarh, April 10
The Senior Citizens Welfare Association, Manimajra, in association with Fortis Hospital, Mohali, organised a free medical camp at the community centre in Manimajra here yesterday.

Dr Manuj Wadhwa gave an audio-visual presentation on orthopaedic problems faced by senior citizens, preventive measures and surgeries.

Dr Wadhwa examined individual cases. A team of doctors carried out other medical check-ups. — TNS



Delegation back from Nepal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
A 10-member youth delegation of Yuvsatta returned from a week-long youth peace meet at Hindu Vidyapeeth at Kathmandu in Nepal today.

The delegation presented a joint Indo-Nepal youth appeal for helping the people of Nepal, addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to Union minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Pramod Sharma, coordinator of Yuvsatta, said the appeal, signed by over 100 young people of India and Nepal, stated that one could hardly find any other two nations in the world having such a deeply embedded bond.

“Presently in Nepal, due to the ongoing political instability, its economy is dwindling and no development activities are taking place,” he said.



Govt schools sitting on powder keg
Poor adherence to fire safety norms
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 10
Hundreds of students studying in government primary schools functioning from dilapidated buildings in the periphery of the city are sitting on a tinder box. A majority of these schools are located in narrow streets of villages or colonies and have a single exit.

Although the congested and crowded markets make them fire prone, no efforts have been made by the enforcement staff of the Municipal Corporation (MC) to remove illegal encroachments near the premises of schools.

The school authorities have neither installed fire safety equipment nor are proper arrangements in place to evacuate students in the event of a mishap. A visit by The Tribune correspondent to six schools in colonies revealed that no foolproof arrangements had been made for exit and entry points in case of a fire as these had sliding grill gates, leaving space for only one child to enter or leave at one time.

In Government Primary School (Number 1) at Manimajra, there is a single entry and exit point, guarded by grills, which opens into a narrow (about 10 ft) street. The school, which has more than 400 students, has no emergency evacuation for children. Strangely, a single fire extinguisher has been installed in the school. One of the rooms of the school has been converted into a store for old furniture. Moreover, a fire engine cannot enter the school premises since the entrance is through a winding narrow lane.

In Government Primary School (Number 2), there was only one firefighting cylinder and a single grilled exit point. Government Primary School, Mauli Jagran, which is functioning from a rented accommodation, has not installed any fire extinguisher in the building.

The school authorities said for the past over a decade, the UT Administration, under whose jurisdiction these schools were, had been assuring them that they would be shifted to authorised buildings. Hence, the school managements had made temporary fire safety arrangements. A few complained that as the schools were functioning from old buildings not designed to serve as schools, they were facing great difficulty in following fire safety norms.


Campaign On

“A special campaign has been launched (from April 1) by the fire department to check fire safety arrangements in all government and private buildings in the city as well as its periphery. The fire department checks all buildings in April since it is considered to be a fire-prone month due to the increase in temperature. — Roshan Sunkaria, MC Commissioner 



8,500 students take IIT-JEE in tricity
Tribune News Service

Students come out after taking the IIT-JEE at a centre at DAV Public School, Sector 15, in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Students come out after taking the IIT-JEE at a centre at DAV Public School, Sector 15, in Chandigarh on Sunday. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Chandigarh, April 10
Nearly 8,500 students appeared for the IIT-JEE at 35 centres across the tricity here today. Students, who appeared in the exam, said this time negative marking was introduced in certain sections of both the papers -- paper-I and paper-II.

“Physics part was relatively analytical in comparison to other sections, but overall paper stressed on basic concepts and needed simple analytical skills to tackle the questions,” said a student who appeared in the exam today.

“The examination was conducted in two slots, including paper-I and paper-II, where each paper contained physics, mathematics and chemistry questions of equal weightage,” said Kunal Kumar, co-founder of an institute that guides engineering aspirants.

Anurag Agarwaal, a chemistry teacher, added that: “Chemistry questions of paper-I were based on fundamental concepts and all 23 questions in paper-I were easy to score and paper-II contained 20 questions involving calculation with accuracy.”

A physics expert said, “The paper-I, which was of 80 marks and divided into four sections, was relatively tough and calculative in comparison to the past year paper.” He added that paper-II comprised 20 analytical questions.

Mathematics faculty said the part-I was relatively conceptual and scoring one in comparison to previous year’s paper. The experts added that a mock AIEEE exam would be held on April 15 at Lajpat Bhawan, Sector 15.



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