C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Snehalaya kids go without medical care
No medicines for 25 scabies-ridden inmates
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Only one word - pathetic - can describe the conditions prevailing at Snehalaya, the shelter for street children run by the Chandigarh administration. Lack of security, which has come into focus recently due to the disappearance of some inmates, is not the only issue that ails this “home for the young at risk”. Unhygienic living conditions, shortage of staff and lack of healthcare bears testimony to how well intentioned ideas can get totally messed up, thanks to an inept administration that reacts only when problems hit the headlines rather than being proactive in doing things right. The Chandigarh Tribune takes a look at the situation on the ground in a three-part series.

The World Health Organization describes scabies as a contagious skin infection that spreads rapidly in crowded conditions. However, intriguingly, the UT administration’s social welfare department, which runs Snehalaya, obviously appears to be oblivious to this fact. At least 25 children in the shelter home have been suffering from this disease for the past one week and - what’s worse - they haven’t been any given medicines for treatment.

The incident brings to the fore the issue of lack of medical facilities available at Snehalaya, which houses about 250 children but has no doctor or a nurse available round the clock to attend to the medical needs of the inmates. Thanks to a high court order a team of doctors from the Government Medical College & Hospital, Sector 32 and the Government Multispecialty Hospital, Sector 16 conducts weekly visits to the shelter home. However, during the remaining days the children are on their own with no medical care at hand.

Sources said during last week’s health checkup several children were found to have contracted scabies and were promptly prescribed medicines for the disease. However, a team of doctors, which revisited Snehalaya on Friday morning when this reporter was present there, was surprised to learn no medication had been administered to the suffering children during the past seven days.

The doctors expressed fears of the infection having spread further as the authorities had failed to check the same through proper medication. A staff member who requested anonymity said though the medicines were available with a senior functionary of the shelter home, they were not administered as it was presumed that the doctors would be doing so.

Had there been a permanent doctor or a nurse posted at Snehalaya this situation would not have arisen and the affected children would have been spared their suffering (rashes and irritation from scabies). Since the disease is related to personal hygiene, it raises questions on the living conditions prevailing at the shelter home.

According to insiders 131 boys staying there are provided only two pairs of clothes, as a rule. “In this hot and humid weather when clothes don’t dry up fast enough, many children are forced to wear dirty clothes and this could well be one of the reasons for the incidence of scabies”, said a doctor.

The insiders said providing medical care to the children was a “huge” task as the latter had to be taken to the Maloya dispensary or the Government Multispecialty Hospital every time something happened. “In cases of emergency, particularly after office hours, things become really tough as there’s no driver on duty for the lone van attached to the shelter home” they said, adding with no expertise in providing first aid they had to depend on calling an ambulance from GMSH 16 and wait for it.

According to the doctors there was a dire need for providing round the clock medical assistance at Snehalaya. “There are 250 young children, including 120 girls, staying here and if something happens the consequences will be bad”, they averred, adding the administration should at least have a nurse available 24x7 at the shelter home.

When contacted UT home cum health secretary Ram Niwas admitted there was no permanent doctor posted at Snehalaya but said the idea of having a nurse was “worth considering”. “It’s a good idea and I’ll ask the social welfare department to implement it”, he said on the penultimate day of the end of his two-year stint in the Chandigarh administration.

(Tomorrow: Snehalaya - low on administration’s priority list)



PU exam branch seeks scrapping of many courses
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Peeved at the paper work for courses which have no students, some for the past several decades, the examination branch of Panjab University (PU), in a communication to the Vice-Chancellor, has sought the scrapping of such courses.

Courses with no takers
Rattan, Bhushan, Prabhakar, Budhimaan
Vidvaan, Adib, Adib Aalam
Aadib Faizal, Munshi Vedacharya, Sanskritcharya, Darshanacharya, Vyakranacharya, Shastri 
Gyaani, Praag Shastri

Diploma courses

Pre-school education
Disaster Management
Certificate Programmes

Functional Punjabi
Functional Hindi
Export Management
Homeland security mgmt

A case in point is the course in certificate for Falovac language, which has not even a single student enrolled for the past more than 60 years. The course was included in the university list of subjects when it was instituted way back in 1882 at Lahore.

The once popular course of Prabhakar has not got a single student for the past more than 15 years and certificate courses in subjects like Sanskrit have never crossed the number of 50. Courses like Shastri or Adib, which pertain to the study of religious scriptures, have negligible takers.

Besides expenditure on manpower, the university is also losing out on account of finances for maintaining the offices and related paperwork.

“It is really a taxing job for us to maintain the records of these courses. Even if two students are enrolled in a particular course, we have no option but to do the accompanying paper work and the corresponding procedural work to complete the formality of having conducted the course professionally. The real problem arises when one odd student opts for a certificate programme and we have to go looking for a question paper setter. Many a time, these students do not even appear in exams,” said an examination branch official.

The branch is currently working on the rough estimates of the total expenditure on the courses under discussion.

The branch under tenure of various controllers has repeatedly asked the varsity to review the courses and wrap these up. The issue did make it to the Senate agenda in 2002, but nothing has been decided so far. The branch has, now, refurnished its request “requesting action for a solution”.



CHB chief gets additional charge of home secy
Admn reallots depts headed by Ram Niwas to avoid protocol problems
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Caught in a piquant situation over various UT departments headed by outgoing home secretary Ram Niwas and also to avoid protocol problems, the UT administration on Friday gave additional charge of the key position of home secretary to Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) chairman Satya Gopal, a 1988 batch IAS officer of the AGMUT cadre.

However, the administration distributed the remaining departments headed by Niwas among four senior IAS officers including finance secretary VK Singh, an IAS officer of 1990 batch.

This is in sharp contrast to the handing over all the charges held by the home secretary to the then finance secretary, Sanjay Kumar, for about six months in 2008, which has been the general precedent.

While Satya Gopal gets additional charges of the departments of law, police, prisons, transport, food & supplies, local self-government and revenue, VK Singh will look after the important departments of urban planning, secretariat establishment, tourism, hospitality, cultural affairs and house allotment committee besides being the chief administrator.

Chandigarh Industrial & Tourism Development Corp Ltd (CITCO) managing director DK Tiwari will be secretary of the departments of industries, health, medical education and cooperation. The departments of employment, labour and social welfare will be looked after by deputy commissioner Brijendra Singh, who will also hold the charge of chairman of the Child & Women Development Corp and the SC/BC and Minorities Financial & Development Corp.

Official sources said the allocation of departments among senior officials had been done with a view to avoid putting undue burden on one particular official handling major departments as also to avoid protocol problems.

A faux pas?

y While the order issued by adviser to the UT administrator KK Sharma mentioned details of the additional charges given to different officials, it failed to mention certain departments. There is no mention as to who would head the departments of housing, personnel and agriculture. Interestingly the order was issued by the personnel department.



Immigration firm chief held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The special investigating team (SIT) of the UT police arrested the director of Sri Sai Kirpa Immigration in Sector 8 here in a cheating case today. The police arrested Mangat Ram, while his wife and co-accused Neena Sharma is on the run. The company is in the dock for duping at least 22 of their clients of Rs 22.3 lakh on fake promises of easy migration abroad.

A resident of Ropar, Mangat Ram was produced in court and remanded to three days’ police custody. DSP Anil Joshi said the accused had fled after closing his office in March when complainants approached the police. “The Ford Feista car of the accused has been impounded and we have seized his four bank accounts in Mohali,” said Joshi.

The accused was arrested under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and 24 of the Immigration Act. The case against him was registered on July 29 on the complaint of Daljit Singh, a resident of Sector 23-D and 20 other complainants who were duped in a similar fashion by the immigration company by taking money from them for sending them abroad.

The complainants alleged that they had applied for work permit visa for Canada through Sri Sai Kirpa Immigration in Sector 8. All complainants had paid Rs 22.3 lakh, but they were never provided any visa nor were they refunded the amount.

It was also alleged that the company gave forged offer letters of Canadian companies to them. The company owners had also taken the passports in original of some of the candidates.

The police had earlier arrested employees of the company Vikram Jaiswal, a resident of Jagadhari district in Yamunanagar, and Tammana, alias Nidhi, also a resident of Yamunanagar.


Snake in Sector-48 house causes a flutter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Panic gripped a family living in house No. 3112 of Sector 48 today when a red-coloured snake was spotted in their kitchen. The snake was later caught by a snake charmer.

According to the family, they had been having sleepless nights ever since a snake was caught from their neighbour’s house a week ago.

Ayush Singal, a family member, said their domestic help discovered the snake in the kitchen this morning, following which they locked the kitchen.

Singal said they called a snake charmer and it took him over an hour to catch the snake.

The family said the appearance of snakes in houses of their locality had become commonplace. “A week ago, a snake was spotted in our neighbour’s house. This is the time that a snake has been spotted in our house,” Singal added.



Patient dies at GMCH, negligence alleged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
High drama was witnessed at the emergency block of the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, this morning, when attendants of 65-year-old Bala, who died after an hour of admission, alleged negligence on the part of doctor attending upon her.

However, the deceased’s family has not filed any complaint with the police or the hospital administration.

According to victim’s brother-in-law Brijesh Kumar, also a safai worker at the hospital, Bala, who had come all the way from Delhi to receive treatment, died due to doctor’s negligence. The patient was admitted to the hospital at 9 am and died after she received an injection, he claimed.

However, hospital authorities refuted the charge and offered to conduct a post-mortem examination to reveal the truth. However, the relatives did not agree to it and took the body back to Delhi.



Army Chief reviews operational readiness

Chandigarh, September 23
Chief of Army Staff Gen VK Singh today visited Headquarters Western Command, Chandi Mandir, to review operational and training matters pertaining to the Western Sector. 

He was briefed on the operational preparedness of the command by local formation commanders. The chief also reviewed the operational coordination between the Western Command and the South-Western Command. — TNS



Anna effect: Engaging with civil society govt’s top priority now
Various e-governance initiatives on the anvil
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Call it the Anna effect or democracy taking its roots, citizen engagement is now on the top priority for the Government of India. Be it in delivery of citizen services or bringing government data in public domain, various e-governance initiatives are on the anvil, which will help the government engage with the civil society.

The idea, now taking shape in almost all e-governance initiatives, is also aimed at bringing in more transparency and accountability in delivery of various government services. Be it the ‘Open Data Policy’; creating a common gateway for electronic payment for all government services; or, creating a framework for citizen engagement in consultation with the civil society.

Talking to The Tribune on the sidelines of an e-Revolution conclave organised by Chandigarh Administration along with the Punjab Government, Shankar Aggarwal, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, said the idea behind these initiatives was to take the power to the people. “The government is spending thousands of crores for these initiatives, which will bring transparency, accountability and efficiency in government working,” he said.

“A framework has been created for citizen engagement by the Department of Information Technology, mainly to have consultation with members of the civil society. The guidelines for the same have been put on the website of the Department of Information Technology, but this will be operational only after we get clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Department of Personnel and Training. The idea is to ensure interaction of the civil society with government organisations in order to connect with citizens. These guidelines, stressing on issues like professionalism, openness and privacy for government functionaries - have been uploaded on the ministry's website and stakeholders' feedback is invited within this month,” he said.

Another important initiative to ring in transparency and engage people in governance is the Open Data Policy, which is expected to be okayed and functional in the next six months. “This policy will allow all data being generated with public money to be brought in public domain. This will mean that data for all government schemes, including pension/subsidy disbursement schemes, being run on public money will be uploaded on a website and anyone can have access to how the grants are utilised. A task force chaired by Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, has already created a draft policy which has to receive a Cabinet nod before it can be implemented,” said Aggarwal.

Other than this, the government is now ready to present the Electronic Service Delivery Bill before the next session of Parliament, which will make it mandatory for all the state governments to make all citizen services available electronically. A common e-payment gateway is also being created for people to make payments electronically for all government transactions.

Projects at a glance

n The idea is aimed at bringing in more transparency and accountability in delivery of various government services

n A framework has been created for the citizen engagement by the Department of Information Technology

n The guidelines have been put on the website of the Department of Information Technology but will be operational after getting clearance from the Home Ministry

n The policy will allow all data being generated with public money to be brought in public domain

n A common e-payment gateway for all government transactions is also being created



Shivalikview gets new restaurant
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
UT Administrator Shivraj Patil inaugurated a party place-cum-restaurant — The Rain Forest — at Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation’s Hotel Shivalikview here today.

Dubbed a first-of-its-kind in the city, the new restaurant, based on jungle theme, is expected to bringing more clientele and also draw tourists, feel CITCO’s authorities.



127 autos challaned

Chandigarh, September 23
Following a large number of complaints received from residents over the wrongful parking of auto-rickshaws on city roads, the Chandigarh Traffic Police has started a special drive against erring auto-rickshaw drivers to check violations in the city.

The police challaned 127 auto-rickshaw drivers for various violations today. Of these, 45 were issued the ticket for plying without a valid permit, 20 for plying without a fare meter, 37 for driving without uniform and 25 for miscellaneous offences. Besides, 62 autos were impounded. -tns



cattle menace
No policy to impound stray cattle: P’kula MC
Tribune news service

Panchkula, September 23
In connection with the tray cattle menace, the Panchkula MC counsel in its reply informed the Panchkula court that there was no such policy in Panchkula to impound stray cattle due to lack of space to keep such animals.

The MC in its reply has said that,"The survey was conducted by the MC and legal notices were issued to the violators, with directions not to free the animals. As many as 14 persons have not complied with the notice and 14 complaints have been filed under Section 133 of the CrPC before the SDM, Panchkula, and legal proceedings are pending for September 29.”

Now, the court has directed the Panchkula traffic in charge also to file a reply to the petition on September 26. 



Chandigarh scan
Residents’ plea to electricity dept

Actor Om Puri interacts with senior citizens during ‘Doosra Bachpan’, the Chandigarh Walkathon, at Sukhna Lake on Friday.
dialogue with the thespian Actor Om Puri interacts with senior citizens during ‘Doosra Bachpan’, the Chandigarh Walkathon, at Sukhna Lake on Friday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari 

Residents of the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) Cooperative and MTC. Society, Sector 47 C, Chandigarh, have told the UT Electricity Department that the consumers were being compelled to deposit the additional security and service charges by SDOs for the enhanced load before accepting the self-declaration forms, which was against rules, which say “on receipt of declaration, the department will arrange to conduct a survey of the premises of consumer to determine the load of premises. The department shall issue the demand notice for additional charges if any”. The residents demanded suitable instructions to the field officers to avoid unnecessary harassment to the retired army officers.

RLA closed

The office of Registering and Licensing Authority (RLA), Sector 17, UT Chandigarh, will remain closed due to renovation work on Saturday.

Students win laurels

The PU gatka team finished as runners-up in the recently held All-India University Gatka Championship at Punjabi University in Patiala.


The Gharuan campus of the Chandigarh Group of Colleges vibrated with music, dance and laughter. The musical extravaganza was witnessed where students enjoyed every moment. The occasion was to welcome the new academic session, “Aaghaaz-2011- Fresher party”. Rashpal Singh Dhaliwal, president, Chandigarh Group of Colleges, was the chief guest.

Dept of success

Realising the need of society and students, the Quest Group of Institutions, Mohali, in first-of-its-kind initiative has launched the department of success in the institution. The aim of this department is to bridge the gap between an individual and success. The department will foster achievement in academics, professional and personal arena. The department of success was inaugurated by Dr RP Singh, regional director, IGNOU, who was the chief guest. He appreciated the initiative, which shall maintain an interface with the students and faculty members with a view to bring about a paradigm shift in the outlook of participants, attitude, enthusiasm, energy level and motivation.

Painting contest

The Mohali Press Club organised an on-the-spot painting competition at Government Senior Secondary School for students from 34 different government schools of the district. As many as 106 students participated. The winners, Shivani Rana (first), Gurjeet Kaur (second), Balbir Kumar (third), Kulbir Kaur and Gursewak Singh (both consolation), were given certificates by NK Sharma, chairman of the District Planning Committee. The cash prize money for the first, second and third position holders were Rs 1500, Rs 1000 and Rs 750 and the amount for consolation was Rs 500 each.

Traffic diverted

Mohali Deputy Commissioner Varun Roozam on Friday directed diversion of heavy traffic that plies on the road from cremation ground in Phase VI to Phase VIII bus stand. As per the new decision, the traffic would be diverted from the cremation ground traffic junction towards the 200-ft wide Aerocity road.

Customer meet

In Sector-11 branch of Syndicate Bank, a special customer meet was organised on Friday in which existing and new customers were invited for the meet. Vijai Kumar, AGM from regional office, gave a brief on the bank’s new customer centric initiatives. Branch head Ghan Sham thanked customers for their continued patronage and welcomed suggestions to better the customer service.

Tribune Reporters



PU shortlists 50 students
 Free education for orphans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
At least 50 students have been shortlisted for the first free education programme for orphans belonging to economically weaker sections started by Panjab University (PU).

The ambitious declaration was made by Prof RC Sobti in July, according to which poor orpahans would get 100 per cent free academic and hostel facilities.

While over 100 students claimed benefit after initial admission, the go-ahead was not given in the absence of the requisite documents. A month after admission, the office of the dean student welfare today forwarded a list of 50 candidates to the dean university instruction (DUI), who formed a committee in this regard.

“A committee has been formed to consider the cases of these students and work out modalities of extending benefits if they are found eligible,” said DUI BS Brar.

“It will also look forth to widen the reach of the scheme and get the maximum students to avail themselves of the benefits,” he added.

The move, still in a nascent phase, aimed to brighten the lives of hundreds of students. A plan of 50 per cent scholarship for those who had lost their fathers was also being worked out.



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