C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Fire breaks out in 3 SCOs at Sec 8
No fire safety equipment installed in building; MC to issue notice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Furniture, air-conditioners, computers and other articles worth lakhs were gutted in a fire which broke out on the top floor of a shop-cum-office (SCO) in Sector 8 last night. A fire brigade team headed by Station Fire Officer ML Sharma reached the spot at 3.50 am after being informed by the police control room (PCR), which got a call from a passerby.

Fire department officials said the blaze had spread in showroom numbers 61 to 63 in no time as the cabins, flooring and ceiling were made of wood. The fire gutted computers and air-conditioners. As per the fire department report, no fire safety equipment had been installed by the owners of the building. So, no alarm went off to alert the watchman near the building.

The fire officials had a tough time as there was only one fleet of narrow stairs for entry and exit to the top floor. Five offices were operational on the floor. The fire department also found that no fire safety equipment was installed on the ground and first floors of the building. It took the team two hours, four fire engines and one water boozer to control the fire.

The Station Fire Officer said the department would issue a notice to the occupants of all floors to get fire safety measures installed and updated else stringent action would be taken against them.



Glitch in SBI server hits transactions worth crores
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Hundreds of customers of the State Bank of India (SBI) in the tricity were inconvenienced as they were unable to operate their accounts following a breakdown in the main server of the bank. Transactions worth crores were affected.

Since the bank opened today after a closed day in the financial sector, there was a huge rush of customers who could be seen queuing up at counters. A number of businessmen and industrialists, who had rushed to the bank’s branches located in various party of the city to update their accounts in view of the ensuing holiday on account of Gandhi Jayanti tomorrow, had to return disappointed as they could not operate their accounts. Being a gateway for financial transactions from various government and private sector institutions, functioning of other banks was also affected.

Also, today being the first day of the month, many government employees tried to withdraw money as the bank would be closed tomorrow.

Sources attributed the problem to a technical snag in the server system, which connects all the branches of the bank throughout the country through a lease line of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL). Sources said there were intermittent breakdowns in the system which hampered the functioning of the bank in the tricity.

A spokesman for the bank said due to some technical fault in the networking, the branches of the State Bank of India (Chandigarh circle) comprising Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh could not function properly today.

SBI branches open today

y Keeping in view the inconvenience caused to customers, the SBI has decided to keep all its branches in the Chandigarh circle open from 10 am to 2 pm tomorrow for public dealing. The Chandigarh circle comprises the states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and the UT.



MC faux pas
Sec 50 residents get faulty bills
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
In what appears to be a goof, the Municipal Corporation (MC) has been charging a stock Rs 31 extra on many combined water and electricity bills that have been served to thousands of city residents.

Feeling cheated, many residents are demanding that the MC should adjust the overcharged amount in the next bill.

The error was discovered by a resident of Sector 50 while paying his electricity and water bill generated by the engineering department of the UT and the MC. It turned out that the actual amount to be paid was less than what had been totalled.

Rajinder Singh, a resident of Progressive Society, Sector 50, said although he had detected the error before paying the bill, the employee at the e-sampark centre had refused to accept the payment minus the Rs 31 that had inexplicably been levied extra. “My bill puts the payable amount at Rs 276. However, I discovered that this comprised an extra charge of Rs 31 for no reason. As such, the actual amount ought to be Rs 245,” he said.

On enquiring from other residents of the society, he discovered that everybody had been charged Rs 31 extra.

Vimal Singh Rana, another resident of the locality, said: “I have already paid the bill. However, I learnt from other residents that I have been overcharged. This is unfair. This way we might end up paying a higher amount every time as nobody usually goes through all subheads and checks the amount.”

Suresh Kumar, another aggrieved resident of Sector 50, said his actual bill was for Rs 197. However, the total bill mentioned was Rs 228 even though there was no mention of Rs 31 in the bill.

Terming this charge as arbitrary, Satish Chandra Sharma, president of the Group Housing Cooperative Societies Welfare Council, said they would protest against it. “We demand that an inquiry be held and the amount overcharged from the residents be adjusted in the next bill,” he said.



Semester exam near, but PU in a blur 
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Panjab University examination system appears to be in a limbo with no knowledge about who will be handling the semester examination scheduled to be held in a little more than a month from now.

This is the first time the university is conducting semester examination for postgraduate courses on the campus and affiliated colleges. The university examination branch had shifted the entire responsibility of the examination process, including setting of question papers, conducting of examination and preparing of results by departments in a recent Syndicate meeting.

The university decided to set up a special committee to handle the process of shifting the responsibilities from the examination branch. To date there has been no meeting of the committee and departments are unaware what they are expected to do.

A senior university examination department official said: “The university had taken a decision asking departments to handle the process so they will have to manage.”

A majority of departments contacted for an opinion expressed ignorance on the issue saying they had not received any intimation.

A senior fellow said the confusion, which was likely to affect the outcome of the entire semester examination for all postgraduate classes, was an outcome of the redundant committee culture of the university. A special committee constituted on the issue in August, had not met even once. Going by the fact that the examination was scheduled for next month, the authorities should have acted fast, he said.

Mincing no words, he said: “One fails to understand how the university can be so casual to the issue of examination. We know that in our country the result card of students is what determines the ‘worth’ of the student. The issue needs to be handled more professionally. Besides taking decisions, the university needs to fix responsibility in certain matters.”

A senior teacher of the languages faculty said: “The university is not comprehending the enormity of the situation. Just the number of papers, datesheets and examinations papers to be evaluated is mind boggling. The exercise will also include tabulating the result data. The university needs to act fast.”

A lot to be done

  • The exercise is no cakewalk as the semester examination will require at least 100 datesheets, 2,500 question papers and identifying over 300 examination centres catering to at least 13,000 students. The situation is only expected to worsen with teachers and students having already proceeded on a 10-day autumn break.



Prof YK Chawla likely to head PGI
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Prof YK Chawla, head of the hepatology department of the PGI, is likely to be the next director of the PGI. According to highly placed sources, Chawla’s name has been finalised for the director’s post, which incidentally has been lying vacant for the past five months since Dr KK Talwar relinquished charge on April 30. Sources said besides the higher scores achieved by Dr Chawla from the sub-selection committee, what also went in his favour was his being a “non-controversial” candidate.

Though the other two candidates, Dr Amod Gupta, head of Advanced Eye Centre (AEC), and Dr Raj Bahadur, Director Principal of GMCH-32, were initially dubbed front-runners for the post, their candidature was embroiled in severe lobbying with pulls and pressures from either side.

Insiders, privy to the selection process, said the race between Dr Gupta and Dr Raj Bahadur had become so fierce that complaints and counter complaints, some even unnamed, flooded the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the health ministry.

The file for the final approval from the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) shuttled between the PMO and the health ministry several times. In July, the ACC sent back the file for clarification on the issue of modifying the eligibility criterion for two candidates by relaxing the age bar of 60 years and the objections raised by the National Scheduled Caste Commission on the non-inclusion of SC/ST members in the shortlisted panel.

The selection process has taken long and the delay is unprecedented in the history of the PGI. For the past five months, Dr Vinay Sakhuja, head of the nephrology department, being the seniormost faculty member, has been the officiating director.

Dr Chawla was not available for comments as he was said to be abroad.



Better methods to redress telecom disputes discussed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Stakeholders in the telecom and broadcasting sectors discussed regulatory measures and modalities pertaining to dispute redressal as well as protecting the interests of service providers and consumers at a seminar organised by the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) here today.

In his inaugural address, Supreme Court Judge Justice TS Thakur said that over the past decade-and-a-half, the telecom sector had witnessed a tremendous growth and to handle issues related to it, a need was felt to have a regulatory body, which led to the establishment of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) and the TDSAT. He also delved into the functions and roles of these agencies.

Former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court Justice SS Sodhi spoke about his experiences as Chairman of the TRAI, which is an independent body regulating the privatisation of the telecom sector.

Acting Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice MM Kumar was the chief guest on the occasion.

The TDSAT is an independent judicial body with exclusive jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes between the licencer and a licencee, two or more service providers and between a service provider and a group of consumers. Subscriber base disputes, signal connection, pricing, piracy of signals, quality of service and policy matters are among issues under its jurisdiction.

Two panel discussions were also held in which representatives of service providers, TRAI and legal experts discussed current issues affecting them and means to resolve them.



More trouble for Central Club
Estate Office asks Collector to recover Rs 1.84 crore from club
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The UT Estate Office has issued a reminder to the Collector, UT, asking it to recover outstanding dues of almost Rs 1.85 crores from the club president.

The reminder is in pursuant to an earlier order issued by a sub-divisional magistrate while exercising the power of the UT Estate Officer, asking that the premises be vacated within 15 days and a letter by the house allotment committee of the Estate Office for the amount due to the UT. The club has since approached the High Court for a stay.

Sources said that the ESTATE OFFICE passed an order on August 17 to the club president and all other occupants to vacate the premises within 15 days of the date of the order and to pay up an amount of Rs 1,84,97,733 which was due up to May 31 this year.

Sources said that the club had been paying a monthly rent of Rs 25,567 from April 1998 to 2000. The monthly rent was later revised to Rs 1,31,947 along with interest, which was calculated by taking the cost of land under building norms at a rate of Rs 4,000 per square yard.

Since then the Club management and the UT Administration have locked-horns over the lease renewal and calculation of the lease amount. In 2004 the club lease was cancelled.

The club presently has around 1,100 members with a majority comprising senior citizens who every evening visit the club to play tambola, cards and other games.

The club’s secretary Vinod Khanna said that they had already sought a stay from the court until November 15. He aid they were planning to meet UT Adviser KK Sharma to request him to decide on a reasonable amount as rent and for an extension of the lease.



United colours of India
Guru Nanak Dev’s prayer held on Ramlila stage
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Come to the Sector 28 Ramlila ground and you will witness a specimen of Indian secularism. Setting an example, the Sector 28-based Garhwal Ramlila Mandal Bijli Board today held a prayer of Guru Nanak Dev on the Ramlila stage.

This is probably for the first time that any Ramlila committee of the city has organised a prayer of Guru Nanak Dev on the Ramlila stage. The aarti was held along with members of the Nanaksar Gurudwara of the same sector.

Mukesh Sharma, director-cum-artiste of the Ramlila committee, said religions have no bar for their committee to present this most popular saga of all times. Through this Ramlila stage we want to strengthen the bond between people from various religions.

Vikram Bisht, executive member of the Ramlila committee, said the two raagis, Harjinder Singh and Sonu, were giving music in the Ramlila for the past many years. With their support, we have this time managed to hold the prayer of Guru Nanak Dev, he added.

He said normally we organise an aarti of a Hindu goddesses on the stage. But this time, we thought about an aarti on Guru Nanak Dev. It was raagi Harjinder Singh who sang an aarti today, he added.

Raagi Harjinder Singh said he feels blessed by god after holding the aarti. Regarding his experience with the committee, he said the committee is like his second family. I am part of this Ramlila committee for the past 12 years and would love to be associated in the coming years as well, he added.



‘Cannot meddle with maintenance fee by developers’
Haryana Town and Country Planning Department asserts on plea by Amravati Enclave residents
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Haryana Town and Country Planning Department has made it abundantly clear that it cannot interfere with colonizers charging maintenance fee from buyers.

Referring to an apex court judgment, director-general TC Gupta asserted: “The recovery of maintenance charges from allottees by colonizers depends upon the terms and conditions of the agreement mutually agreed between them. Therefore, the department cannot interfere in the matter.”

The assertion came in the form of an affidavit on a petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court by the Amravati Enclave Residents’ Welfare Association.

Virtually giving a clean chit to Amravati Enclave, Gupta asserted: “With reference to a meeting of members of the association, representative of colonizers with the Chief Town Planner, Haryana, held on June 23, it is submitted that the colonizer has already complied with most of the undertakings given by him at the time of the meeting.”

Gupta added: The colonizer has stated in the meeting that no membership fee is being taken from the residents and only 50 per cent maintenance charges are being charged. There is no commercial activity being carried out in the club and only members residing in the colony are allowed to use the club and the accounts are open for inspection by the association.”

Appearing on behalf of the enclave before Justice Rajive Bhalla and Justice Naresh Kumar Sanghi, advocate Prabhjeet Singh Sullar sought directions for dismissing the petition on the basis of the affidavit.

The High Court earlier gave some breathing space to the builders and colonizers by asserting that conditions of licence should be adhered to, unless these are impracticable.

In a significant assertion, the High Court had also declared that impracticable conditions could be compounded in accordance with the rules and regulations.

The petitioners are seeking directions to the State of Haryana and director in the department of town and country planning to act against Amar Nath Investments for not adhering to the sanctioned plans etc while developing a residential colony at Amravati Enclave at Chandimandir.

Taking up the matter, the High Court had made it clear that it was in favour of an amicable solution to the issue. Justice Ranjit Singh had ruled: “It will be appropriate for the parties to sit together to amicably settle the issue with the satisfaction of the allottees. The conditions of the licence should be normally adhered to, unless there is some impracticability in complying with those conditions and such conditions can be compounded in accordance with the rules and regulations.”



Tao ruckus
Police fails to nab other accused
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The UT Police has failed to arrest the other accused in an attempt to murder case at Tao in Sector 26 eight days ago.

Despite identifying all 15 accused, the Sector 26 police has arrested only four suspects.

The police could only arrest four accused in the case even as 11 more accused were viewed in the CCTV footage.

The police has also failed to recover any weapon used in the crime.

The police custody of the arrested accused ended yesterday and they were sent to judicial custody. Despite being in police custody and subjected to sustained interrogation for the past four days, the police failed to arrest the other accused or make any recovery.

Amandeep Gill, Amandeep Sidhu, Harmanjeet Singh and Yadwinder Singh were produced in the court today and sent to 14-day judicial custody.

The slow action of the police has triggered protest among family members of Sohali Goyal, who received injuries during the brawl.

Rajeev Goyal, father of Sohail, met SSP Naunihal Singh highlighting the slow action of the Chandigarh Police in arresting the accused.

He said four youths, those were sent to judicial custody, were not arrested and they had surrendered to the police.

His son Sohail Goyal was critically injured in the attack and underwent a surgery of his finger in the PGI.

The incident took place when the main accused, Gill, and his two accomplices entered Tao in an inebriated state and were asked to leave the venue following the complaints of misbehaviour by two girls on September 23. Gill then returned after three hours with his goons and launched an open attack at the disco.

Gill, who had returned after completing his graduation in UK seven months ago, had also threatened officials of Tao when they went to met injured Goyal at his Sector 9 house on September 24.

An attempt to murder case was registered against Gill and others at the Sector 26 police station.



Sec 62 to have ultra-modern theatre
To cost Rs 16.2 crore; Will house music academy
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, October 1
After changing the site twice for the construction of an ultra-modern theatre, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has finally decided to construct the facility close to the Leisure Valley, which will become part of the upcoming City Centre at Sector 62 here.

Being built at a cost of Rs 16.2 crore, the theatre will also house a music academy on the lines of the Kala Bhawan in Chandigarh and an ampitheatre outside the auditorium. A site measuring 3.5 acres has been identified for the facility.

A proposal in this regard has recently been cleared during a meeting of the executive committee of GMADA, chaired by the Punjab Chief Secretary.

GMADA had earlier identified a site at Sector 68, where a large chunk of land was lying vacant. The location was close to the Municipal Bhawan.

The site had to be changed as it was falling in a commercial area and using more than three acres there would have amounted to a big financial loss to GMADA. Another site was identified in an upcoming sector, but had to be changed because of litigation.

Planned to be much better than the Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh, the new facility would be bigger, having a capacity of 1,200 and a parking area for 600 vehicles.

Apart from a big stage, the theatre would have multi-purpose halls, where seminars, workshops and conferences could be held.

A GMADA official said drawbacks in the Tagore Theatre would not be repeated here. He claimed that technical experts were not involved in the work there, which was mainly carried out by architects.



Sector Scan
Where development is a far cry
Vehicles of visitors to IT towers, rivulet containing sewage bane of residents
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Vehicles parked in front of houses.
Vehicles parked in front of houses.

The rivulet passing through Sector 67 of Mohali. Tribune photos: Vicky Gharu

A garbage dump on the rear of houses.

Mohali, October 1
In a classic case of development affecting lives the wrong way, residents living in Sector-67 GMADA houses opposite IT towers rue the day they moved into the area.

The reason is that hose visiting IT towers park their vehicles on the narrow road in front of their houses, leaving little space for vehicles to move.

Heated arguments take place between residents and those visiting IT towers everyday.

Residents are forced to put up no-parking boards in front of their houses.

At least half the sector is covered by the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research.

Development has failed to touch the lives of residents in certain pockets.

Group housing societies have been complaining about the nuisance caused by the seasonal rivulet passing through the sector.

As the sector has still not been transferred to the municipal corporation, the upkeep of is with GMADA, but its wing concerned seldom pays attention to the sector.



125 take part in jungle walk
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Around 125 trekkers participated in a jungle walk from Nepli to Kansal to celebrate the Wildlife Week here today.

The eight-kilometre walk, organised by the UT forest department, was flagged off by UT Finance Secretary VK Singh around 6:30 am.

“Our purpose is to make citizens, especially youngsters, aware of the importance of protecting jungles and promote forest tourism here,” said UT Chief Conservator of Forests Santosh Kumar.

The trekkers, mostly consisting of students from local colleges and schools, pass through three hillocks, reaching a height of 1,500 feet.

“It is fantastic to see a dense forest so near to Chandigarh. We were not aware of it. Such programmes should be promoted by the authorities,” said Rohit Sharma and Gagandeep Singh, BTech students.

The youngest trekker, seven-year-old Muskan Seth, who was fascinated by the dense vegetation and the opportunity to climb hills, said this was the first time she got a chance to see a real forest.

The Finance Secretary later launched a Facebook page on “Butterflies of Chandigarh” at Kansal’s Log Hut.

“This page will provide a platform where lovers of butterflies will be able to exchange ideas, knowledge and photographs on butterflies,” said VK Singh.



Campaign to save girl child at Peace Fest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
On the second and last day of the Peace Fest, Dr Daizy Zarabi from the Regional Resource Centre, Panjab University, started the dialogue with talks on “promoting a girl child friendly society”.

The later part of the day was reserved for a campaign to save the girl child at Sector 17 plaza where young delegates distributed flyers and pasted stickers on vehicles with messages to curb female foeticide.

As part of the Peace Fest, international delegates led by American Gandhi Donald McAvinchey visited Paragon Senior Secondary School, Mohali, and a group of 20 councillors from Sri Lanka visited Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 46-D, and Shivalik Public School where they exchanged notes with students and administered a pledge to uphold the values of non-violence.

The second half of the day was reserved for Aids awareness activities, where the participants played a cricket match, enjoyed kite flying wearing badges bearing the message ‘play safe and live long’. A street play by artistes of Mask Theatre was also staged on the occasion.



100 violators issued challan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Chandigarh Municipal Corporation has challaned 100 violators in a special anti-encroachment drive and seized 12 cars, seven auto-rickshaws, removed tandoors and junk dumped by scrap dealers at Burail village today.

The enforcement department seized seven truckload of material during the drive. The drive was carried out peacefully on the directions of Additional Commissioner Lalit Siwach. The drive was supervised by enforcement inspector Kashmira Singh along with seven sub-inspectors and supporting staff of enforcement wing of the MC.



MC poll
Number of wards to remain same
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
There will be no increase in the number of wards for the elections to the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh (MCC) to be held in December this year. The Chandigarh MC has 26 wards.

This was decided at a meeting of the election commissioner for

Delhi and Chandigarh Rakesh Mehta with senior UT officials here today.

The Election Commission will have a meeting with the major political parties on October 18 to make preparations for the MC elections.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Election Commission is zeroing in on December 17 as the MC poll date.



Sharry sets stage afire
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, October 1
Enrapturing the young the and old alike, Punjabi singer Sharry Maan lived up to his reputation with a sterling performance at the Sector-17 Plaza here yesterday.

A civil engineer by profession, he was the key performer at a colourful musical nite organised by the administration as part of World Tourism Week celebrations.

Amid adulatory applause, he opened with ‘Dhiyan’, which was followed by ‘Chandigarh da chaska’, ‘Yaari da vaasta’, ‘Yaar anmulle’ and other numbers.

A matching mimicry session by Rana Ranbir was captivating, as were the dazzling bhangra performances by dancers.



SDM to probe food poisoning case
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 1
Mohali Deputy Commissioner Varun Roozam has directed the Kharar SDM to submit a report on the case of food poisoning at a school in Jayanti Majri here yesterday.

Seventeen students of Kasauli Elementary School were admitted to the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital at Sector 16 in Chandigarh after the mid-day meal.

The students were stated to be out of danger. Village sarpanch Atma Ram said he had deputed women to check the quality of food at the school.



From Schools and colleges
Blood donation camp

Chandigarh: A blood donation camp to commemorate of the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh was organised at Doaba Group of Colleges, at Ghataur (Kharar). The camp was organised by the Shaheed Bhagat Singh Social Club, Campus-I, in collaboration with Rotary, Chandigarh Central, and a team of doctors led by Dr Usha Rao from the Post Graduate Institute of Research, Chandigarh. The camp was inaugurated by KK Walia, president Rotary Club Chandigarh (Central). Dr H S Batth, president, Doaba Khalsa Trust, along with other appreciated and encouraged the donors as over 200 units of blood was collected.

Elocution day

The kindergarten class of Woodland House School held an elocution day today to take first step towards teaching tiny tots the art of clear and expressive speech, distinct pronunciation and articulation.

Principal Vijay Bakshi, said the effort bore fruit as students commendably recited on topics such as colours friends trees aeroplanes and computer.

Dasehra celebrated

St Xavier's Senior Secondary School celebrated Dasehra festival with great enthusiasm. Students presented a scene from Ramayana on the occasion. 



Conference of Linguists begins at Panjab varsity

Chandigarh, October 1
The 33rd All-India Conference of Linguists began at the Panjab University here today.
The Department of English, Regional Institute of English and the Central Institute of Indian Languages are jointly hosting the conference. Over a hundred delegates from across the world are participating in this conference.

The key speaker, Professor Rajesh Sachdeva, Director of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, dedicated the conference to celebration of linguistic diversity of our nation.

Professor ML Tickoo emphasised the need for exploring the possibilities of partnership between the child’s mother tongue and English in the interest of both Indian languages and culture.

PU faculty like VK Tiwari, Dean, Faculty of Languages, and Professor Rana Nayar, Chairperson, Department of English, elobrated on the current language teaching scene in the country.

The session was chaired by Professor Bhupinder Brar, Dean, University Instructions.

The key highlight of session was Professor Annie Montaut from France, a Hindi Language expert. — TNS



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