C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


When UT education dept sprinted through marathon
n 248 employees screened 3,134 applicants in just 13 hrs
n Rs 5,30,110 spent in a single day
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

The 248 recruiters

Registrar, district education officer, deputy education officers under the chairmanship of DPI (S) decided following rate of honorariums on account of extra and laborious work put in by officials on a Sunday for engagement of guest faculty. DPI (S), however, did not take the honorarium


Chandigarh, April 16
In a shocking revelation, it has now come to light that the UT education department had last year deployed 248 of its employees to interview 3,134 applicants for 387 advertised posts of school guest faculty in a span of just 13 hours at an absurd rate of 241 applicants per hour or four per minute or, still, one every 15 seconds.

Even more questionable is that the department ended up spending almost the entire amount of money collected as registration fee (Rs 5,30,110 out of Rs 5,56,400 collected) in a single day for this unprecedented and inexplicable super fast recruitment exercise held at two government schools on Sunday, July 11, 2010, Government Model Senior Secondary Schools in Sector 16 and Sector 10.

Going by documents procured by The Tribune, a staggering Rs 3,69,000 was spent on honorarium to all 248 government employees that ranged from the district education officer (DEO) to government school principals, teachers, senior and junior assistants, clerks, drivers, peons and other class 4 employees.

Further, taxpayers ended up spending Rs 25,877 on lunch and Rs 4,320 on refreshments. But what is even more interesting is that the department ended up spending considerable sums of money on stationery items ranging from pens to glue sticks (see box: Items purchased).

Unanswered questions

  • What was the urgency to complete the recruitment process in a single day
  • Isn’t 15 seconds too short a time to either judge the worth of a teacher or even check the authenticity of certificates
  • Who approved the constitution of such a large panel
  • Why did officials of the DPI and the DEO office claimed honorariums when the recruitment was one of their key jobs
  • If honorariums were claimed for working on a Sunday, why could the department not wait till Monday and save money
  • What’s the justification of buying stationery items when it is available in the office
  • What’s is justification of providing lunch and refreshments worth ` 50,000 even though high honorariums were paid to each employee
  • What’s the justification of inclusion of accountants, superintendents and 50-odd Class IV employees for these recruitments
  • Why was a taxi hired in the name of DEO when he has his official car

While all them refused to come on record, one of them asserted on condition of anonymity, “Why create a controversy when there was nothing wrong in the result? People worked on Sunday, so they were paid. No interview was taken. We just scrutinised the certificates and declared the result. There is no norm barring anybody from taking an honorarium during recruitment or examination.”

Contrast with recruitment in 2008

During a similar recruitment of guest faculty in 2008, over 80 employees worked for six days to interview 2,711 applicants. Moreover, no honorarium was paid and the only expenditure made was providing lunch and refreshments, which was ` 45,175 for six days.


z According to the participating teachers and principals, while the department in its bills claims to have bought expensive pens worth ` 125 each, all of them got a pen worth ` 10

z It’s been a complete hasty affair where there was not time to even see all certificates of candidate leave aside questioning them

z The recruitment over the years has seen panels comprising not more than 10 people dealing with hundreds of applicants

z A majority of people paid to work on Sunday never reached schools and many had no specific work

Taxi for DEO

Although the interview lasted only for a day, the DEO hired a private taxi, an Innova, for two days for local travel in the city at an expense of Rs 3,300.



Treetop Protest: Day II
Nagla hangs in there amid frenzy
Rajiv Bhatia

Nagla (Zirakpur), April 16
It was a retake of Bollywood flick “Peepli Live” on day two of the protest by Avtar Singh Nagla, a politician-turned-protester who has been perching atop a tree demanding probe into his police complaint, as outdoor broadcasting (OBC) vans of television channels, politicians, and local administration officials descended on the scene today. Avtar is protesting against the apathy of the administration in probing his complaint pertaining to a piece of land. Demanding an audience with Punjab Chief Minister, Avtar Singh, equipped with water bottles, eatables and a chair, had climbed up the tree yesterday morning. As the day progressed, support for the protester also grew with some pitching a tent to welcome visitors with tea and water. Till this evening, officials of the local administration and the police had failed to bring him down. For those who did try, he flashed an axe to keep them at bay. During the day, Dera Bassi SDM Puneet Goyal along with police and other administrative officials presented the documents demanded by him but he remained unconvinced.

Zirakpur SHO Yogi Raj said he had investigated the complaint given by Avtar Singh. He said the revenue department had informed him that the land in contention was not in the protester’s name.

The official added that the panchayat had claimed that the land where the protest was going on was a common land and the protester would be held accountable for any untoward incident.

Nagla at home

Avtar Singh Nagla has made himself comfortable with packets of roasted nuts along with water bottles. He uses bottles and polythene bags to ease himself. With Nagla refusing to come down even after sunset, lights have been installed at the scene. He enjoyed a burger feast, courtesy a supporter today. He had to make do with a packet of roasted nuts yesterday.

‘Badal aye par Badal sahib nahi’

Replying to a query put forth by Chandigarh Tribune, Nagla said his wait for Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to visit the scene and hear his grievance was on. “Badal taan aye par Badal sahib nahi,” retorted Nagla while referring to the overcast conditions (badal) and the CM in the same breath.



First liver transplant at PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) today achieved a major breakthrough with its doctors successfully transplanting a donated liver of a teenage girl into a 44-year-old Vijay Khurana, a resident of Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

The donor, a resident of Jind (Haryana), had been brought to the neurosurgery department of the PGI after she met with an accident and was declared brain dead. Her family decided to donate her liver.

Claimed to be the first-of-its-kind liver transplant in the country’s northern region, after Delhi, the successful transplant has not only brought a smile to the faces of the team of doctors but, more importantly, a hope to hundreds of patients suffering from serious liver disorders.

Every week, the hospital receives an average of five patients suffering from chronic liver diseases or cirrhosis, all of whom are prospective cases for liver transplant.

While some opt for private hospitals in Delhi, a majority of the patients are left with no option but to live on medication until a donor comes forward.

The historic transplant was performed by a team of doctors comprising Dr YK Chawla, professor and head, hepatology department, Prof Arunanshu Behera, department of general surgery, Prof GD Puri, department of anaesthesia, along with a vascular and liver transplant surgeon, a hepatobilliary and transplant surgeon, hepatologists, liver anaesthetists and perfusion specialists.

The PGI had embarked on an ambitious liver transplant project in 2009 and developed a treatment module costing between Rs 5 and Rs 7 lakh compared to around Rs 40 lakh charged by privately-run hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai. However, it could not materialise for want of donors.


When is liver transplant required?

International guidelines stipulate that any patient suffering from liver cirrhosis, who is assessed to have a life expectancy of less than a year, should be considered for a transplant. A timely transplant conducted on a patient in a reasonable condition with a good donor liver has around 80 per cent chance of success. Liver for transplant can be obtained from two types of donors. While cadaveric liver donation is possible from a brain-dead person whose family wishes to donate the person’s organs before discontinuing life support, the donation is also possible from a living donor who is a relative of the recipient and can donate half of his/her liver. The donor operation is entirely safe and the liver quickly regenerates in both the donor and the recipient within a few weeks.


Bomb Hoax: Caller held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
A day after a hoax call claiming a bomb in the Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat sent the police in a tizzy, the crime branch arrested 29-year-old Surjit Mann, a resident of Sector 39, for the crime today.

The son of a retired Deputy Secretary with Punjab, Surjit’s wife is a head constable with the Punjab Police.

Inspector Amanjot Singh, in-charge, crime branch, said the accused had made the hoax call to prevent his father from entering the secretariat where the latter was headed to inquire about a fraudulent transaction made in his account with the State Bank of India branch located in the building.

Surjit had withdrawn Rs 40,000 from his father’s account after he got a blank cheque signed by his father.

He had made the call to ensure that his father could not know about the fraud.

Surjit used to run a shop, “Mann Telecommunication”, at Balongi had to closed it down last month. A customers had forgotten a mobile SIM card at his shop and Surjit began using it.

On April 2, he got hold of a signed blank cheque of his father and fraudulently withdrew Rs 40,000 from the SBI’s branch situated in Civil Secretariat, Haryana, Sector 1.

On April 15, his father Mukhtiar Singh learned about the transaction and made a complaint to the police.

In order to prevent his father from going to the bank, the accused made a bomb hoax call by introducing himself as a member of the Babar Khalsa, a militant outfit.

The accused is a drug addict and has worked as a computer operator on temporary basis with the Haryana Secretary IT for six months. He has also worked with the Punjab Pay Commission for around one and half years.

Call made to cover bank fraud

Surjit Mann had made the hoax call to prevent his father from entering the secretariat, where the latter was headed to inquire about a fraudulent transaction made in his account with the State Bank of India branch located in the building. The accused had fraudulently cashed a signed blank cheque of his father.



Mock drill at Shastri Market
60 pc shops found lacking fire extinguisher
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
Around 60 per cent of shops in the old Shastri Market in Sector 22 were found without a fire extinguisher by members of the municipal corporation’s fire committee during a mock drill conducted in the market here today.

Also, 10 of the 26 fire extinguishers installed in the shops were found to be non-functional.

The members led by fire committee chairman Devinder Singh Babla found the market ill-equipped in terms of tackling a major fire, which could result in huge loss of life and property.

Besides, the team found rampant encroachment in the corridors, posing a serious threat of fire in the market. Shopkeepers had displayed articles ranging from dress material to foodstuffs. Food stalls and dhabas were found highly prone to fire. The team found that vendors using LPG cylinders and gas lights could easily cause a fire in the market.

The team also noticed a network of loose electricity cables running overhead throughout the market.

A fire official said the arrangements made to fight fire were of no use if the lanes and corridors remained clogged in the market as it would hamper the movement of firefighters in case of an exigency.

Babla said they had issued a warning to all shopkeepers to install fire safety equipment in their shops within two weeks.

Meanwhile, a mock drill was carried out near the front booths of the market. Babla said the response of the fire crew and shopkeepers was satisfactory.

The team directed the shopkeepers to repair electrical wiring and clear encroachment from the passage by removing material hanging outside shops. The shopkeepers were also directed to provide sufficient space around the market and shops for the movement of fire tenders.



High voltage damages electric appliances
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, April 16
Residents of GMS Apartment and Green City, Dhakoli, claimed that high voltage current from the newly set up joint electric meters box had damaged their electric appliances, including a TV set, tubelights, fans and other electronic goods last night.

The water supply was also affected in the area from yesterday till this afternoon. They alleged that the employees who were installing electric meters had attached the direct wire in the meter that damaged their electrical appliances. They also opposed the setting up of joint meter box. They demanded that the authorities should compensate their loss and take action against the authorities concerned.

Deepak, a resident of house number 124, said the voltage increased and damaged the electronic gadgets. Sujata, another resident of the area, said the high voltage damaged her TV and tubelights. Similarly, stabilisers and tubelights were also damaged of other residents.

“It is difficult to cook food as there is no water supply since yesterday,” says Trishla Shetty, a resident of house number 21.

Powercom SDO GS Sidhu stated that the work was done by a private company. He had asked the residents to submit their complaints with details and assured that action would be initiated after proper inquiry.



Waiting list grows ahead of summer rush
Anil Jerath/TNS

Chandigarh, April 16
If you are planning to go on a vacation this summer, make sure you rush to the booking counter and get your train ticket well in advance.

A rise in passenger volume owing to the approaching summer holidays has led to long waiting lists in train reservations from Chandigarh even in cases where bookings have been made two months in advance.

The longest waiting of 250 has been recorded for the Sadbhavna Express, running between Chandigarh and Lucknow. In response to the increase in bookings, the Ambala division has added two additional coaches each to the Sadbhavna Express and the Chandigarh-Allahabad Unchahar Express this month onwards. Nonetheless, there are no berths available before May 25. “The division will add extra coaches to other trains as well to meet the summer rush,” said a senior railway official.

“I wanted to get a ticket booked for Mumbai but there is none available before one month. I have now opted for flight, which will result in an unwanted increase in my vacation expenditure,” said Rajiv Bajaj, an IT professional from Chandigarh.

Station superintendent, Chandigarh railway station, Parveen Kumar said: “No tickets are available for the Paschim Express, running between Chandigarh and Bandra, till the third week of May. Also, the waiting list for the Kerala Sampark Kranti Express, running between Chandigarh and Kerala, is increasing every day.”

Besides attaching additional coaches to some of the trains, other efforts like better monitoring at ticket counters, etc. are being made for passengers’ convenience.

Senior railway officials have been deputed to look into the activities of the staff at the counters and surveillance cameras would be used to detect persons frequently coming to ticket counters for reservation/cancellation.

Besides, the drive against touts and unauthorised travel agencies has been intensified.

The passengers travelling on transferred tickets will be prosecuted under criminal cases. A joint team of vigilance, commercial and the RPF will function during the peak period.

The RPF personnel will monitor the queues of passengers entering general coaches to avoid stampede, etc.



Golden Forest seeks nod to sell property
Tells SC panel that the move will allow it to settle investors’ claims
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 16
The management of Golden Forests Ltd (GFIL) has urged the panel set up by the Supreme Court, to allow the company to sell its prime property to settle the claims of about 25 lakh investors of the company. The property owned by the company is located near Lalru, Punjab, on the National Highway 22.

Addressing mediapersons, newly appointed chairman of the GFIL Nikhil Kant Syal said the asset base of the company, evaluated by the panel in 2007, stood at Rs 5,000 crore. He said the total liability of the company and its subsidiaries was less than Rs 1,350 crore, including the accrued interest as calculated by the panel.

Syal said the present market value of the 12,000-acre land held by the company was around Rs 10,000 crore. He said prime land at Lalru, Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Uttaranchal, Hyderabad, Indore and near Ramgarh village in Haryana was registered in the name of the company. He said to regain the confidence of about 25 lakh valued investors, he and his family would fight for investors due rights.

He alleged his deceased father RK Syal and other directors of the company were falsely implicated in the various cases registered against them by the Punjab vigilance and the prosecution had failed to provide any evidence against them during the past 10 years. He also announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh to any person who could prove a scam of a single rupee done by the GFIL, his father or other members of the family.



Head constable suspended

Chandigarh, April 16
Two days after two PCR personnel were suspended after being found drunk on duty, another head constable with the PCR was suspended today for a similar offence.

Head Constable Amarjit Singh, deputed in Sector 17, was found in an inebriated state while on duty. His medical examination was conducted which confirmed the presence of alcohol in his blood.

Senior police officials had earlier suspended sub-inspector Boota Ram and head constable Paramjit Singh after they went to a liquor vend in Sector 22 for purchasing liquor on Tuesday night and fled the spot leaving head constable Darshan Kumar to face the wrath of drunk youths. A departmental inquiry has also been initiated in this regard. — TNS



Dramatic narration of ‘Amber Habshi’ wins accolades
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, April 16
Dramatic narration of Delhi-based acclaimed poet playwright Dr Narender Mohan’s latest Hindi play “Amber Habshi” and a “Ru-ba-Ru” session on critical appreciation of the play was organised by the Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi at their auditorium here today.

Introducing the playwright, akademi chairperson, Dr Manju Jaidka disclosed that Dr Narendra Mohan’s plays had been translated in other languages also and were staged worldwide.

Dr Mohan’s reading was in tandem with the theatre thespian, Prof Harish Bhatia who also read portions of the historical play and both presented all characters through immaculate delivery of dialogues before elite litterateurs and theatre persons.

The eponymous hero of the play, Malik Amber, was a historical figure born in Ethiopia, sold into slavery in Baghdad and rose to eminence in India after his master Mir Qasim brought him to Ahmednagar. A military genius, once a Negro slave and later a staunch Indian, Amber Habshi is hailed as the pioneer of Guirella warfare in India and introduced agriculture reforms, as he became the Prime Minister of the Deccan Empire under Ahmed Shahi kingdom and fought against the Mughals.

Dr Mohan has weaved a potent plot to illustrate the diverse traits of Amber Habshi in the drama. Dr Yash Gulati, Dr Anil Raina, Santosh Dhiman, Madhav Kaushik, Vijay Kapoor, Dr Kailash Ahluwalia and others participated in the face-to-face interaction with the poet playwright.

Noted actor-director Parvesh Sethi presided over, while poet Madhav Kaushik conducted the programme.



Absence of inter-sector bus service
P’kula residents at mercy of auto-rickshaw operators
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 15
Population: 2.10 lakh. Number of buses: 20 low-floor. Number of routes: three.

This sums up the transport system in Panchkula, which boasts of being the state’s unofficial capital and the “first planned city”.

In the absence of any inter-sector public transport system, residents of Panchkula are left at the mercy of rickety auto-rickshaw operators who fleece residents commuting between different parts of the town.

The worst sufferers are those living in the Panchkula extension Sectors 25 to 30, located across the Ghaggar.

A skeletal bus service run by the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) between Panchkula and Chandigarh has been unable to cater to the growing needs of the residents.

The town is currently connected with the neighbouring city Chandigarh and Zirakpur in Punjab through three different routes by the Haryana Roadways. Ironically, the residents cannot use them as these fail to connect one part of the town to the other.

The Citizen’s Welfare Forum president, SK Nayyar, while demanding that mini-buses be run on the roads connecting various markets in the town, said earlier also the authorities had half-heartedly started a bus service in October 1992.

The same was discontinued as people did not know the bus service was introduced as the authorities had failed to advertise the same. Moreover, the administration had failed to earmark the bus stops on the routes.

Haryana Roadways buses 82-A, 83 and 84 start from Zirakpur and after taking two different routes reach the Housing Board chowk and move on to the interstate bus terminals in Sectors 17 and 43 of Chandigarh.

Some of the bus routes, including route number 90, start from Ramgarh village and after passing though various sectors across the Ghaggar and Majri Chowk, reach Sector 17 in Chandigarh. Besides, route numbers 2-B (Sector 4 to the PGI) and 30-B (Sector 4 to the ISBT-17) of the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking also ply through the town via the Housing Board chowk, Sector 11 to Sector 4 route.

General manager of Haryana Roadways (Chandigarh) BS Ghanghas said the inter-sector bus service in the town could not take off as they were facing shortage of staff and the required number of vehicles. He said the process of appointing drivers and other staff was underway and after they got the requisite staff and infrastructure only then they would be able to start the local service.

Ghanghas said they had also received requests from Panchkula residents for starting bus service from various parts of the town to the PGI and the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He said they were willing to start the same and the transport authorities had approved the same, but the unions there protested against the same.

Economics of travelling within Panchkula

A commuter wishing to travel from Sector 16 to Sector 28 across the Ghaggar in Panchkula ends up shelling Rs 80 to Rs 100 whereas he would otherwise have spent only Rs 10 as bus fare for the 6-km journey. Similarly, for getting an affidavit prepared at the mini-secretariat, a commuter has to pay Rs 60 (to and fro) for hiring the services of a rickshaw puller.

No link with General Hospital

There is no bus service connecting the local stand to the General Hospital, Sector 6



GMADA to maintain parks for 2 more years
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, April 16
The Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has decided to keep the work of maintaining parks with itself for at least two years instead of handing it over to the Municipal Corporation even as the city has been divided into three zones for maintenance of parks.

According to sources, a meeting was held under the chairmanship of the chief administrator, GMADA, Saravjit Singh, about a week ago where it was decided that the work of maintaining parks in different parts of the city would be done by GMADA for a minimum of two years. Over the past many years GMADA authorities had been pressing the civic body to take over the work of maintaining parks.

Additional chief administrator, GMADA, Parveen Kumar Thind confirmed that the authority had decided to maintain parks for at least two years. He said the decision was taken as the corporation did not have the required funds and infrastructure for maintaining a large number of parks.

It is learnt that GMADA has divided the city into three zones in connection with the maintenance of parks. Zone one consisted Sectors 62 to 69 and 48-C while zone two comprised Sectors 53 to 61 and 70 and 71.

Neighbourhood parks of the entire city have been put in zone three. An estimate of over Rs 3 crore has been prepared by GMADA for the maintenance of parks. This estimate has been sent to Lt-Gen BS Dhaliwal (retd), adviser (technical) to the Punjab Chief Minister for technical clearance.

The agencies who would be allotted work would have to have trained gardeners, own machinery and enough experience to handle such type of work. The work was likely to be allotted in the next 15 days.

However, it is reported that welfare associations who had taken over the maintenance of parks in certain parts of the city would continue with their work. GMADA was giving a maintenance allowance at the rate of Rs 1.30 per sq yd to these associations.

About three years ago, GMADA had decided to beautify and develop 558 parks, including green belts and open spaces in various sectors of the city. An ambitious Rs 4-crore plan drawn up for getting the work done from contractual agencies had then hit the ground when GMADA had failed to get suitable response in this regard. Public participation in maintenance of parks was then sought by the development authority.



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