C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Skewed ratio at govt schools
Education dept needs lessons
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Busy in its overzealous efforts of getting private schools’ act right, the UT education department is yet to spare a thought for its own government schools, which continue to blunder with both a skewed teacher-taught and classroom-pupil ratio.

What comes across as a collapse alarm for what is otherwise touted as the country’s fifth best government education system is the fact that while the average student intake capacity of city government schools has increased by seven per cent in the past five years, the number of applicants continue to increase by 30 per cent every year.

What has worsened the situation further is the UT’s prescribed principle of not saying ‘no’ to any applicant, leaving schools with no option but continue to take in more students year after year, resulting in an overstretch of the existing infrastructure beyond all limits.

“My school is among the good model schools of the city. Thus, everybody seeks admission here. The student-teacher ratio is 1:55. In many cases, we are forced to flock 60 to 70 students in a single room. I cannot say ‘no’ even as the number of students increases by 20 per cent every year. I have not got a single new room or toilet in the past five years. Besides, the number of teachers is far less then required,” said a principal of a government school.

Despite repeated calls, DPI(S) Sandeep Hans and Education Secretary VK Singh could not be contacted.

Le Corbusier to blame?

While a majority of education department officials blame the snail’s pace of the functioning of the engineering department for the delay in enhancing infrastructure, a section of them have held Le Corbusier’s legacy as the key reason. “We need to add an extra floor to many schools and construct new buildings. Whenever such a proposal is sent to the architecture department, it refuses to accept it, citing it against the spirit of Le Corbusier’s architecture,” said a senior official of the education department. Refuting the allegation, Chief Architect Sumit Kaur said, “The department is run by professionals. We do understand the need of schools and are never against infrastructure enhancement. We do try to maintain the architectural legacy, but have never compromised on infrastructure needs. We believe in striking a balance.”



Airport’s new terminal building operational from tomorrow
Anil Jerath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Chandigarh airport’s new terminal building will be operational from Thursday. Not only this, the new integrated terminal building’s curved structure has already made the airport the first in the country to have such structure till now. The airport authorities are proud and excited over it.

Chandigarh airport director HS Toor has said, “It has been a great achievement for us. The construction of this structure is not easy. We have succeeded in achieving it after facing numerous challenges and are proud to be trend-setters. This new venture will not only provide the city and residents across the region a terminal building of international standards, but also make it environment-friendly. Going beyond the commercial value of the airport, we are committed towards the environment by providing 13 types of plants, shrubs and ground-cover in and around the building.”

The building, spread over more than 12,000 square metres, will be fully air-conditioned and have modern facilities, including visual guidance docking system, conveyor belts, close-circuit television cameras and escalators. A comfortable waiting area has also been provided.

Apart from these, it will also have facilities like bars, food court, duty free shops, central air-conditioning, special facilities for physically challenged and advanced fire security.

The new terminal also has ground and first floors divided into two portions. The left side is for international operations and the right for domestic flights. Car parking management will also be fully automated and more efficient.

While the present terminal can accommodate around 150 passengers, the new one will cater to around 500 at a time. In case of more than one flight scheduled to leave at close intervals, the space in the existing terminal proves insufficient.

For visitors to the city, symbols unique to Chandigarh, including impressions of the Open Hand monument and the works of Nek Chand, the creator of the Rock Garden, have been put on display at the terminal, among other things.

A confident Toor says the new domestic terminal will be good enough for international air traffic. The local airport authorities have proposed starting flights to Dubai, Malaysia and Thailand from Chandigarh soon. At present, Kingfisher Airlines, Go Air, Jet Airways and Indian Airlines operate 12 flights from the city.

Last year, Fly Dubai had expressed an interest to establish an air link between Chandigarh and Dubai, but it was cancelled at the last moment due to non-availability of infrastructure, he added. The use of the new terminal building, which has been delayed by around a year-and-a-half, was recently used when a host of celebrities and corporates came to the city for the World Cup semifinal tie at Mohali.



Martyrs’ Pillar at Terraced Garden
Only dates, no inauguration
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Another deadline set for the inauguration of the martyrs’ pillar at the Terraced Garden in Sector 33 has been missed by the Municipal Corporation (MC), as the authorities failed to complete the project in the stipulated time.

Authorities concerned had announced to inaugurate the martyrs’ pillar on this Baisakhi, but due to the delay in its completion, it has again been postponed for a fortnight.

MC chief engineer SS Bidda said as the authorities had not fixed any date for the inauguration of the pillar, so it has been postponed.

He said soon it would be inaugurated. On August 14, last year, the then Mayor had laid the foundation stone of the project. MC Commissioner Roshan Sunkaria had announced that the construction work of martyrs’ pillar will be completed before the Chrysanthemum show, which was held in December, 2010.

Sources in the corporation revealed that the construction of the martyrs’ pillar was completed last month, but again the designs for installing grills around the pillar were sent to the UT architect department for approval. Officials said the MC received the approval for installing grills only a day before yesterday, so the inaugural function was postponed by the department.

Sources said that last year also MC had sent the project details regarding land and design of the pillar for the approval of the UT chief architect department. The department had rejected the proposal of installing any grills around the pillars on the ground that it was against Le-Corbusier’s design.

It may be mentioned here that MC had constructed a martyrs’ pillar at the Terraced Garden in Sector 33 on which the names of 27 martyrs belonging to the city had been engraved to pay tributes to them.

Project’s history

* In 2007, nominated councillor Brig Kuldeep Singh Chandpuri proposed the construction of the martyr’s pillar. It was suggested that to honour the city martyrs their photographs along with their service details should be displayed in libraries or community centres in the city. But the proposal was rejected by the House.

* In 2008, it was proposed that some of the parks or green belts in the city should be named after the martyrs, but councillors opposed this proposal.

* In 2009, MC decided to construct the martyrs’ pillar and proposed its construction at Bougainvillea Garden in Sector 3, but Chandpuri rejected the site.

* In 2010, UT Administration suggested to construct martyrs’ pillar at Leisure Valley in Sector 10, but MC rejected the site and later decided to construct it at the Terranced Garden in Sector 33.



Speeding CTU bus kills cyclist
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
A 40-year-old man was killed after a speeding CTU bus hit him near the Kisan Bhawan roundabout at Sector 35 here this morning. The bus, being driven rashly, crashed into the roundabout after hitting the cyclist.

The roundabout was also damaged. The victim, Ram Singh, a resident of Jhampur village at Mohali, succumbed to his injuries at the PGI.

The incident occurred around 6:45 am. The CTU bus (CH01G1-7122) was coming from the Sector 22 side when it hit the cyclist and then rammed into the roundabout.

Eyewitnesses said the bus was overtaking the cyclist when it crushed it and its rear wheels ran over the victim’s head.

The police arrested the driver, Nagar Singh, a resident of Manimajra. A case of causing death due to negligence under Section 304-A of the IPC was registered at the Sector-36 police station.

Ram Singh had been working as a cook with a local caterer. This was the second incident of a cyclist being killed in an accident within a week.m On April 8, Kankad Kumar was crushed to death on the road separating Sectors 49 and 50 when it was hit by a speeding crane.


April showers keep sizzle away
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
This year April, when summer commences and the mercury begins its upward climb, has started off on a cooler note. Both day and night temperatures in the city have been well below normal due to western disturbances over northern Pakistan and neighbouring areas that caused brief showers on Tuesday morning.

According to the weatherman, the impact of the disturbances will last for another couple of days after which the mercury will begin rising. “The month of April has been very warm in previous years, but this year the maximum temperature in the tricity has remained below normal at around 30-32 degrees Celsius,” said Surinder Paul, director of the Chandigarh meteorological department.

Last year the highest-ever temperature recorded in April was 43 degrees C, but this year it has varied between 30 and 32 degrees. However, Paul warned about scorching days ahead in May and June with temperatures expected to go up sharply.

On Tuesday the maximum temperature in the city was 33.1 degrees C - almost two degrees below normal, while the minimum was 20.6 degrees. “The maximum temperature on Wednesday is likely to be about 32 degrees with the sky remaining largely clear,” the weatherman added.



Report sent to Legal Remembrancer
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Decks have been cleared for the initiation of action against estate office officials and police officials indicted in the PS Shergill report on the booth scam. While Deputy Commissioner Brijendra Singh has forwarded the report to UT Home Secretary Ram Niwas, the latter has sent it to the Legal Remembrancer for legal opinion.

Action to be taken against those indicted will be decided after receiving legal opinion. Legal opinion is being sought to avoid any complications as the report is ‘very sensitive’ in nature.

The report had indicted Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Pawan Kumar Bansal, Adviser to UT Administrator Pradip Mehra, former Deputy Commissioner RK Rao, former Mayor Pradip Chhabra, former Assistant Estate Officer Ashwani Kumar and several estate office officials.

The officials who can face action include DS Balouria, tehsildar (colonies), Jagbir Singh and Satbir Singh, DSPs, Bishi Ram, inspector (retired), Hira Lal and Sucha Singh, ASIs (retired), PL Dhami and Prem Sharma, superintendents (retired), Ashok Bish, superintendent (enforcement), RK Arora, Dharam Singh and Ranbir Singh Gill. Shergill had recommended the initiation of criminal proceedings against them.


Legal opinion is being sought to avoid any complications as the report is ‘very sensitive’ in nature.The report had indicted Union Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Pawan Kumar Bansal, Adviser to UT Administrator Pradip Mehra, former Deputy Commissioner RK Rao, former Mayor Pradip Chhabra, former Assistant Estate Officer Ashwani Kumar and several estate office officials



Rs 96 lakh for renovation of Mountview
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The Board of Directors of CITCO on Thursday approved Rs 96 lakh for the renovation of suites and rooms at Hotel Mountview in Sector 10 here. At a meeting here under the chairmanship of Home-cum-Tourism Secretary Ram Niwas, the board also decided to frame a policy for empanelment of travel agents to promote the hotel business.

Meanwhile, CITCO’s turnover had increased by 24 per cent from Rs 279 crore to Rs 345 crore. The cash profit registered an increase of 21 per cent, from Rs 13.89 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 16.82 crore in 2010-11.

Hotel Mountview increased its turnover from Rs 25 crore to Rs 32 crore during 2010-11 with an overall increase in room sale, banquet business, restaurant and other related services.

Mountview earned a cash profit of Rs 13 crore in 2010-11, showing a profitability increase of 125 per cent, as against a profit of Rs 5.84 crore earned during 2009-10.

In 2010-11, the turnover of Hotel Shivalikview increased from Rs 16.87 crore to Rs 18.79 crore. The overall profit also increased from Rs 2.35 crore to Rs 4.98 crore in the same period.

Similarly, Hotel Parkview’s turnover increased from Rs 9.37 crore to Rs 11.85 crore during the current financial year. Hotel Parkview registered an increase in profit of 58 per cent from Rs 3.01 crore to Rs 4.80 crore in 2010.



Purchasing machines out of budget draws flak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The issue of the Municipal Corporation purchasing three road sweeping machines through a single tender in 2008 by paying an extra amount of Rs 32 lakh while ignoring the total sanctioned amount of Rs 5.1 crore for the purpose figured at the sanitation committee meeting held here.

Raising an objection, Congress councillor Chander Mukhi Sharma asked why even after two years, the authorities wanted an approval to pay the extra payment of Rs 32 lakh even though the members didn’t have powers to approve this high amount. Their powers were restricted to Rs 15 lakh. A report on the issue which was tabled at the meeting stated that in 2008 three road sweeping machines were purchased from Duleavo Company after receiving a single tender.

The then General House sanctioned Rs 5.1 crore for its purchase. Yet the authorities had paid Rs 5.42 crore to the company without informing the House.

A further payment of Rs 29 lakh was made to the company for the purchase of spare parts of machines.

The report further stated that the MC also hired a consultancy company for custom clearance of machines and had paid Rs 3.5 lakh. As per MC records, the authorities extended the time of tender allotment thrice in 2007.

Members objected that when last year all the development works were kept pending as only single tender was received by the authorities, how could the purchase of machines be allotted to the company when no other firm had applied for it. The need to hire a consultancy company when the Duleavo Company, to whom the purchase was allotted was giving the logistic support for custom clearance in Memorandum of Understanding, was also questioned by the members.


A special sanitation meeting has been scheduled for April 18 to explain why the authorities delayed in informing the committee and as to why an extra amount was paid to the company



Exams, cricket make it hot for students
Akash Ghai/TNS

Mohali, April 12
With the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium hosting four matches of the Indian Premier League (IPL) here, college students, residing in the area near the stadium are a worried lot.

The “cricketing tamasha” is bound to cause distraction from studies during the exam time beginning from this month end. Several students feel that they would end up as big sufferers due to these matches that would be taking place during the period, which is the most precious time for any student.

“I am fed up now,” said Satinder Singh, a non-bio student, who resides in the locality behind the stadium.

“Last month three World Cup matches were held here. Now, again we would be put in a spot as the PCA will be holding four IPL matches. Already a lot of my time has been wasted due to the World Cup matches and I am afraid that the coming matches would again make adverse affect on my studies,” said Satinder.

Loud music, cheers, noise, movement of thousands of cricket fans in the area, barricading at every nook and corner and presence of a number of police officials trouble the residents here, especially the students in the area. “How can anyone concentrate on studies with all these? The World Cup matches were held at the time when school students were taking their examinations. Now, IPL matches have come. Why these people (cricketing authorities) choose only examination days for holding matches,” said Raj Kumar, a law student.

Another youngster Alka said she was planning to shift to her aunt’s place in Chandigarh to avoid the “nuisance”. “I don’t want to get upset, as I am preparing hard for my forthcoming examinations. My aunt has offered me to come at her place and I will go there,” she added.

Strict security measures during match time cause a lot of inconvenience for them. “Our movement comes to a halt due to the strict security arrangements on match days. Imagine, if we have to go for some urgent work, we are not allowed to go without showing the pass, issued by the authorities. Interestingly, only one pass is being given to one house. They (the authorities) think that only one person lives in one house here,” said Ravinder Kaur, another resident of the locality.



Mohali bus service remains a nonstarter
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 12
The Punjab transport department has missed the of April 1 deadline for the launch of local bus services in the town. Last February state transport minister Mohan Lal had announced that a fleet of low-floor airconditioned buses would ply on the streets from this month.

“What to talk of launching the local bus services, the subcommittee set up to work out the modalities is still to submit its proposal. GMADA has also reminded the subcommittee to finalize the proposals”, said sources close to the department.

The state-owned Pepsu Road Transport Corp (PRTC) has tied up with the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority to operate the AC bus service. PRTC had already filed a detailed report on the services before the subcommittee was formed.

Said PS Virdi, a resident of Phase 2: “It’s high time a local bus service should start running”.

The proposed bus service will not only operate on various routes between Mohali and Chandigarh but also connect surrounding townships including Kharar, Landran, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Banur. GMADA has been asked to provide a capital outlay of Rs 25 crore to purchase and maintain a fleet of about 60 buses.



Garbage management scheme gets go-ahead
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, April 12
Four urban local bodies yesterday gave their go-ahead to the garbage management scheme of the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) even as a site near Samgauli village is likely to be finalised for the setting up of a solid waste management facility.

A meeting to discuss the garbage management plan was held at the Municipal Bhawan, which was attended by representatives of 19 urban local bodies.

GMADA Additional Chief Administrator (ADC) Parveen Kumar Thind, who also holds the charge of Assistant Commissioner of the Mohali Municipal Corporation, told The Tribune that only four urban local bodies could give their approval in the form of a resolution in a correct manner.

Representatives of other bodies, who couldn’t give their resolution, had been given 15 days time. The next meeting had been fixed for April 26.

GMADA was heading one cluster of 19 urban local bodies and would be managing garbage collection, disposal and other related activities on behalf of these local bodies once resolutions were received from members of the cluster.

It is learnt that under the scheme door-to-door collection of garbage would be started and garbage would later be segregated.

Three garbage collection and segregation points have been identified which would be located in Mohali, Ropar and Rajpura. From these points the garbage would then be taken to the main processing unit.

Thind said the Punjab Pollution Control Board had given its clearance for the setting up a solid waste management facility near Samgauli village.

However, environment impact assessment study was still underway and would take about three months to be completed.

A six-member site selection committee constituted by the state government for the setting up of a common municipal solid waste management facility had recommended three sites for the purpose. The committee, which was constituted by the chief secretary, Punjab government, on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was of the view that the sites suggested by the Mohali district administration falling in Samgauli, Nimbuaan and Khairpur villages could be explored, in order of preference, for the purpose of setting up the solid waste management facility.

It is pertinent to mention that 60 to 70 acres falling in Samgauli village in Dera Bassi tehsil was shown by the Mohali ADC in October last to members of the site selection committee. The committee observed that the proposed site was away from inhabited areas and also didn’t appear to be flood-prone.

The members of the committee were told that no part of the land fell under the forest area, no river passed near the site and the highways were also at a distance.

The committee was of the view that the site might meet the criteria fixed for the purpose and might be suitable for the solid waste management facility.

Sixty acres of barren land was available at Nimbuaan village, but a choe passed through the proposed site.

About 100 acres at Khairpur village, Kharar tehsils, was also shown to the site committee which was described as a “Gair mumkin choe” in the revenue records.

Earlier, sites in Swara, Rasanheri and Jhanjeri villages were identified for dumping garbage, but none of these could be finalised due to a protest by residents of nearby areas.



‘Rights of patients’ stressed upon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
There is a dire need to address ‘rights of patients’, which have assumed significance after the Supreme Court judgement in the Aruna Shanbaug case. This was stated by Dr RK Mani from the Artemis Healthcare Institute at Gurgaon, recently. He was addressing a symposium on “Emerging Frontiers in Management of Critically Ill” at the CII auditorium here.

He said people needed to come forward for such patients with a broad mind so that the judiciary could come up with a concrete law about it.

Dr Mani, in his keynote address, emphasised on ethical dilemmas while taking decisions about such patients and improving the quality of life care in intensive care units.

“We must note that the legal procedure of appealing to a high court is applicable only to an extraordinary case such as Aruna’s. It will be a travesty if it is extended to include usual patients. Doctors are called upon to make decisions on medically useless treatment. In most countries, such decisions are regarded as part of everyday medical practice. Developing a procedure covering such situations needs to be preceded by awareness,” he said.



‘PNDT Act has helped improve sex ratio in Punjab’

Chandigarh, April 12
“Strict implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act (PNDT Act) has helped improve the sex ratio in Punjab,” stated experts during a meeting held at School of Public Health, PGI, here.

They said enforcement agencies in other states should take a cue from the state.

“Due to the strict implementation of the PNDT Act, the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group has increased from 798 to 846 in Punjab,” said Bijayalaxmi Nanda, an associate professor in Miranda House College, Delhi University. As per records, of the 432 violations reported in Punjab, only 34 convictions were made.

Efforts need to be made to eradicate the social evil. People are committing the crime in order to make a quick buck. Governments in various states have turned a blind eye towards the violation.

Nanda said while medical ethics should be made part of the medical education curriculum, incentives and schemes introduced by the Centre as well as state governments for protecting the girl child must be linked to their health, education and employment in future. “The financial help provided to girls under various schemes is of little help,” she added. Among others present at the meeting included Sabu George from Delhi, AK Nanda, CRRID, Chandigarh, Subhash Mendhapurkar from Himachal Pradesh, Dr BS Dahiya, former director, health services, Haryana, Pawan Sharma from J&K, Dr VK Goyal from Punjab and Dr TP Singh. — TNS



Ramayana path sums up Navratra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
The nine-day Navratra celebrations concluded with “Shat Chandi Mahayagya” at Mata Shakumbhri Devi Mandir, Sector 43-A, here today.

A yagya was performed. In the morning, Shri Ramayana path, Shri Madd Devi Bhagwat path and Durga Saptashati path were performed. A kirtan, pravachan and bhandara, which were attended by hundreds of devotees, were the other highlights of the celebrations.



Psyche of mother unravelled
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 12
Amritsar-based theatre ensemble Rangtoli staged the one-act Hindi play “Chanda Mama Duur Ke” in collaboration with the Punjab Arts Council and the World Wide Immigration Consultancy Services at the Randhawa auditorium recently.

Actor Neeta Mohindera shone through the solo-act performance in the play, adapted from Oriana Fallachi’s original classic “Letter to a Child Never Born” under the direction of thespian MK Raina.

The play depicted the psyche of a mother, seriously concerned with the physical and mental growth of the unborn child, and gradually moving beyond the mother-child paradigm onto a new level of human understanding and communication. 



This knot is special indeed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
With Manoj and Meera of the Jai Durga Deaf and Handicap Children Welfare Foundation tying the nuptial knot, the NGO’s efforts bore fruit today. Both hearing and speech impaired, Manoj and Meera reached the doorsteps of the foundation at the age of 5 and after almost 15 years, the two today tied the knot.

Manoj and Meera, hearing and speech impaired, who were adopted and raised by Sri Durga Foundation, tie the nuptial knot in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
Manoj and Meera, hearing and speech impaired, who were adopted and raised by Sri Durga Foundation, tie the nuptial knot in Chandigarh on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan 

“These children are special but unfortunate and we take up the responsibility to make their lives better. This is a proud moment for us, as we have seen both of them grow in front of our eyes. I still remember the day when Manoj and Meera came,” says the chairman.

While Manoj is employed with a denting and painting firm in Panchkula and has recently moved out of the NGO, Meera stays here only.

“While both of them cannot say a word, their glowing faces speak volumes,” the chairman added. 



A first, central eligibility test for teachers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 12
Following months of deliberation, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) is finally ready to conduct the first central teacher eligibility test (CTET) on June 26.

The test is not just the key postulate of the Right of Children To Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, but is also the new milestone in Indian education system, as it will be the qualifying exam for people intending to teach elementary classes (I-VIII) at the Central government-run schools, including UT schools affiliated to the CBSE.

The National Council for Teachers' Education (NCTE) had mandated that a single eligibility test be held for teachers across the country. This was, however, made mandatory under the RTE and the CBSE was asked to conduct the exam.

“It is desirable to ensure that quality requirement for recruitment of teachers is not diluted at any cost. It is therefore necessary to ensure that persons recruited as teachers possess the essential aptitude and ability to meet the challenges of teaching at the primary and upper primary levels,” claims CBSE on its website.

The board will be conducting two papers-Paper-I and Paper-II on the same day. Paper-I will be for people who intend to teach classes I to V, and Paper-II for people who intend to teach classes VI to VIII. People, who want to teach classes I to VIII will have to appear for both. The application forms for the exam will be available from April 15 and it can be submitted online till May 10. 



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