C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


HC Blow to Punjab Govt
Stays conversion of Mohali Municipal Council into corpn
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
In yet another embarrassment for the Punjab Government, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the decision of converting the Mohali Municipal Council into a municipal corporation.

The development is significant as the order comes at a time when the government is facing the allegations of carrying out the conversions of councils into corporations under political pressure and with an eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections early next year.

Staying the notifications issued on January 7 and January 10, the High Court also issued a notice of motion to the Punjab department of local bodies, Mohali Deputy Commissioner and the municipal corporation for January 9. The respondents have been asked to file their reply on the issues raised in the petition.

The orders by Justice Mehinder Singh Sullar came during the hearing of petitions filed by former councillors of the dissolved Mohali Municipal Council Manjit Singh and Manmohan Singh Long.

Seeking directions for quashing the impugned notifications and to restore the municipal council status to Mohali, they claimed that the decision was taken by the government under political pressure and the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Justice Sullar has already passed similar stay orders on Punjab Government’s move to convert the Moga Municipal Council into a corporation. The court has also stayed the operation of notifications declaring Pathankot and Phagwara larger urban areas and creating municipal corporations after dissolving the municipal councils.

As the case came up for hearing before Justice Sullar this morning, the petitioners told the Bench that notifications issued on January 7 and January 10 by the Punjab Government were arbitrary and illegal.

The government, vide the notifications, had declared Mohali a larger urban area under Section 3 (1) of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, giving it the status of a corporation.

The petitioners contended that the area of Mohali did not fulfill the criteria to become a municipal corporation as it had 31 wards. There had to be 50 wards for a municipal council or area to be converted into or declared a corporation.

As per a survey conducted by the executive officer of the Mohali Municipal Council, the population was 1,43,871. Even if the population residing outside the MC limits was counted, the population reached only 1,64,000 and it was still not sufficient to declare it a corporation.

“The Mohali MC has a limited budget and entirely depends on the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority to meet its expenses. In 2010-11, the budget of the Mohali MC was Rs 4,150 lakh while its income was Rs 3,707 lakh. In 2011-12, the projected income was Rs 4,076 lakh while the expenses were Rs 4,531.55 lakh,” the petitioners argued.

Fewer wards

The petitioners contended that the area of Mohali did not fulfill the criteria to become a municipal corporation as it had 31 wards. There had to be 50 wards for a municipal council or area to be converted into or declared a corporation



Order upsets SAD-BJP applecart
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 25
The interim order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court staying the conversion of the Mohali Municipal Council into a Municipal Corporation has upset the applecart of the SAD-BJP combine which was using the move to woo voters in the run-up to the Assembly elections due in February-March next year.

About 10 months ago when Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced this decision, the ruling party had roped in cash-rich Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) to carry out the responsibilities of the “headless” civic body that has been without an elected body. Even basic jobs such as putting up sector guide maps and carpeting of roads was not being carried out as the corporation did not have sufficient funds.

Apprehensive about winning the corporation elections, the ruling group dithered from holding the elections and instead brought in GMADA to carry out the development works. The stronghold of the Congress councillors in the municipal council also prevented the ruling group to go in for the elections. As a result, the term of the councillors in the previous municipal council ended abruptly 10 months ago after the council was dissolved, leaving the elected representatives fuming.

Enquiries reveal that with the formation of the corporation, the expenditure on establishment and contingency charges, especially paying the salaries of additional staff, had increased, but the civic body was not performing any of the basic civic functions. Against a projected income of around Rs 44.64 crore in the proposed budget for 2011-2012, the projected expenditure on establishment and contingency charges was around Rs 17 crore.



MC elections
Party time in UT slums, periphery
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Shabbo, a resident of Colony IV, is upset with the forthcoming Municipal Corporation elections scheduled for December 17. For the past one week, her husband, Janardhan, comes home drunk every night. “He names local goons of various parties as the sponsors of his evening binge,” she smirks.

Gaddru Ram, a daily wager residing in Ram Durbar, says: “We are with every party. We get gifts from different leaders. It is party time for us. I wish we had elections every year.” The election commission has fixed Rs 1.75 lakh as the expenditure limit for each candidate. But the ground realities, particularly in peripheral sectors and colonies, bely the fact that the expenditure limit is being maintained.

Senior party leaders of both the BJP and the Congress concede that colonies in particular, besides certain other areas in the periphery, witness expenditure far beyond the permitted limits. The figures have exceeded well over Rs 10 lakh in several cases in the past. In what is a small example, a candidate is learnt to have spent a considerable amount on supplying packets of milk and even ghee in Sectors 32 and 46.

There are also reports about potential voters being offered cash by touts of leaders. Samsher Raju, a resident of Sector 25, says: “I got a small amount from my friend who is working for a national party. I told them that I was losing my daily earnings of Rs 200 if I engaged in campaigning.”

The local president of a national party, requesting anonymity, says: “The party has issued clear instructions about making minimal expenditure. We have reports about liquor being served in colonies and will take up the matter.”

“Election observers will also take up poll-related complaints. Over-expenditure is one of the key areas. So far, no complaints have been received,” said Amanjot Singh, election officer.

Necessary evil?

It is impossible for any party to get campaigners in colonies for free because they are daily wagers and their meals depend on their wages. This category of workers is compensated with cash for their kitchen and liquor for ‘energy’. Campaigning in Ram Durbar, Mauli Jagran, Dadu Majra, Colony IV and Colony V is witnessing a free flow of cash and liquor. Everyone knows the truth, but no one wants to be quoted

President of the local unit of a party



Heritage items continue to go under hammer
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Numerous attempts of the UT Administration to stop the auction of city-based heritage items across the world is not yielding any result.

A Chicago auction house is now set to auction two sets of stools, designed by Le Corbusier’s cousin Pierre Jeanneret, from the Chandigarh College of Architecture on December 15.

The auction house, Wright, has decided to auction the stools under the “important design” category. A stool made of teak and steel dating back to 1960 will be auctioned with a starting bid price ranging between $8,000 and $10,000.

Only three days ago on November 22, a Paris-based auction house, Artcurial, sold a cane and teakwood dining table and a pair of easy armchairs designed by Jeanneret for Rs 22 lakh.

Earlier on March 31, Wright had sold a pair of armchairs belonging to the Punjab and Haryana High Court for $1,04,500 against a starting bid price of $15,000 to $20,000 along with a teakwood sofa from Panjab University for $88,900. A stool from the Chandigarh College of Architecture fetched $20,000 against a starting base price of $5,000 to $7,000. Even as auction houses overseas continue to sell heritage items from the city, the UT Administration remains clueless on furniture items that have been “disappearing” from various government departments.



Boy escapes from Snehalaya again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
In yet another incident depicting callousness on part of the Snehalaya authorities, a 16-year-old boy managed to flee from the home for destitutes for the second time by scaling the wall of the home at Maloya last night. The boy, Vijay Augustin, had returned to the institute in September and managed to
give the Snehalaya authorities another slip.

According to the authorities, the boy had first fled in 2009 and returned in September this year. He was first admitted to the home on April 7, 2009. The authorities are unaware of the exact date when he went missing last time. Vijay was again brought to Snehalaya by Don Bosco Asalayam in Delhi this year.

Acting on the complaint of the warden, Satpal, a missing report has been lodged in the Sector 39 police station. The police said it was scrutinising the CCTV footage for clues. Sources said the boy was last seen by Rajinder, the warden of blocks A and B, at 11.30 pm last night.

Rajinder told the police that the boy had touched his feet and told him he was going to sleep. He was spotted missing after a few hours.

The police questioned the security guards of the institute, but they had no clue how the boy fled. The authorities of the UT Administration-run home are in the dock for their negligence as 12 children have gone missing from the institute this year and the police could trace only four of them.

A special investigating team (SIT) formed to probe the case of these children in September had found that the authorities had failed to keep a record of the children and the addresses that had been furnished were incorrect.

Moreover, the authorities are unaware of the exact dates when the children went missing. The Snehalaya authorities have failed to learn any lesson from the past incidents.



mullanpur eco city
Get Plot NO. on draw day, too
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 25
In a first-of-its-kind move, the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has decided to allot the plot number to successful applicants on the day of the draw itself. The draw of lots is slated for November 28.

Besides the house number, the successful applicants will also be given the street number as well as the block number of the area where the plot is located.

Additional Chief Administrator Parveen Thind said two subsequent draws would be held to allot the plot numbers to the successful applicants. Mullanpur Eco City has been divided into five blocks — A, B, C, D and E — which will be further divided into different streets.

Seeing a record number of 1,58,227 applications received for different sizes of plots, the draw of lots will be held at three different venues, with tents pitched at short distance from each other.

The decision has been taken in light of 67,126 applications having been received against 100 sq yd plots alone. For the 200 sq yd plots, the total number of applications received was 53,186. In all, 1.58 lakh applications had been received against 840 plots.

Compared to an overwhelming response to 100 sq yd and 200 sq yd plots, the total number of applications received for 300 sq yd, 400 sq yd and 500 sq yd plots was 14,379, 11,043 and 12,493, respectively.

While the total number of applications against different sizes of plot in the general category was 1,30,673, the number of applications received against all reserved categories was 27,554.

Street & Block Nos.

Besides the house number, the successful applicants will also be given the street number as well as the block number of the area where the plot is located


MC general house over in an hour
Councillors take up old issues
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
The general house of the municipal corporation was a mere formality today as the proceedings were winded up in an hour.

No new agenda could be taken up due to the enforcement of the model code of conduct. The meeting was limited to a question hour session to discuss previous issues.

The meeting started with Dr Pam Rajpoot thanking the civic authorities for taking initiative towards forming a women
empowerment committee and a women centre in Sector 37.

Congress councillor Anu Chatrath proposed Dr Rajpoot’s name for the chairperson of the women centre, which led to resentment among the Mayor and BJP councillors.

“The nominated councillor has worked hard towards empowering women and she should be rewarded with the post as the centre was her initiative,” Chatrath said.

Opposing the proposal, Mayor Ravinderpal Singh said the present civic body was all set for elections and it would not be possible to recommend such a proposal.

“The next Mayor will look into the matter. I cannot initiate such a proposal, as the current team just has one month to go,” he said.

Councillor Ram Lal, BJP candidate from ward No. 13, then raised the issue of cleanliness in community centres after ceremonial functions.

“Public is facing a lot of inconvenience due to lack of cleanliness at community centres,” he said.

A pilot project to initiate door-to-door garbage collection in Sector 22 was also discussed. After the discussions, the councillors agreed to accord a final approval only after studying the budget of the project.

The house approved free car parking passes to the winners of gallantry awards, after nominated councillor Brigadier Kuldip Singh Chandpuri raised the issue.

Former nominated councillor Dr AP Sanwaria, who recently joined the BJP, was present at the meeting and was seated in the visitor’s gallery.



Labour committee rescues 4 children
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 25
The District Child Labour Committee today rescued four children aged between 7 and 13, including three girls, employed as domestic servants in flats of Sector 20 here.

A raid was conduced after the officials received a call on its toll free helpline number 1800-180-2056.

The caller informed the officials that some children were employed in the residential flats of Sector 20 for carrying out household works. Following which the raiding party comprising District Child Welfare Officer Virender Singh, Panchkula tehsildar Ramesh Singla, District Labour Officer Ramesh Jain and police officials, reached the spot and rescued the children.

Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Ashima Brar said the committee also issued challans to the flat owners under the Child Labour Act. She said the penalty for commission of first offence under the Act was imprisonment for a term which should not be less than three months, but may be extended to one year or a fine from Rs 10,000 to Rs 20,000 or both. While in case of second offence, there was a provision of imprisonment which should not be less than six months, but may be extended to two years.

A district-level committee has been conducting raids at different places in the district and at least 20 children have so far been rescued.

Anybody having information about crime against children or women can inform at the helpline number. A high-level team of officials could also be constituted depending upon the gravity of the incident, said the Deputy Commissioner.

“Any parent desirous of adopting a child can also call on the helpline number,” she added.



mc elections
Seven file papers

Chandigarh, November 25
With just three days left for the filing of nomination papers for the forthcoming municipal corporation elections, two Congress candidates, four BSP candidates and an Independent candidate filed their papers today.

This comes three days after political parties announced their list of candidates for the elections to be held next month.

Congressmen Davinder Singh Babla filed his nomination papers from ward No. 18. Babla is the sitting councillor from the ward.

Another party candidate, HS Lucky, who is president of the District Congress Committee Urban-I, also filed his papers from ward No. 16. Lucky had lost his seat in the last elections. An Independent candidate, BS Gill, filed his papers from ward No. 17.

Four BSP candidates also filed their nomination papers today. Malkit Singh Jandiala was the first to file his nomination papers from ward No. 20. He was followed by Jagir Singh from ward No. 6, SM Khan from ward No. 25, and Nirmala from ward No. 7. BJP spokesperson Shakti Devshali said their party candidates would file their papers on the last day. The filing of nomination papers closes on November 28. TNS



Focus on ways to streamline traffic
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Suggestions to improve traffic situation in the city poured in from various corners at the 12th meeting of the Central Traffic Advisory Committee held at the Chandigarh Police headquarters here today.

The issues that came up for discussion included installation of CCTV cameras at trafficlights, effective checking of the TSR, mobile phone, menace of drunk driving, provision of slip roads, pruning of trees, community parking in sectors, adjustment of trafficlight timers anti-clockwise, introduction of multi-storey parking, deployment of traffic police at peak hours, proper marking at parking lots, effective public transport system, introduction of mini buses, car gear locks to avoid theft, earmarking of parking for fire tenders and need for stricter rules for driver’s licences.

The meeting was attended by 20 members of the committee under the chairmanship of Deputy Inspector-General Alok Kumar.

Officers from the UT engineering department, the municipal corporation, the town planning department, the RLA, the STA and the CTU attended the meeting.



City has over 4,000 philatelists
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Philately (stamp collection) may be losing its patron across the globe, but not in City Beautiful that boasts of over 4,000 dedicated philatelists.

UT General Post Office, in a unique endeavour, organised a special stamp exhibition which concluded today to salute these philatelists. The exhibition aimed at getting young students involved in collecting stamps once a popular hobby which lost its patrons to computer and videogames.

The exhibition, where century-old stamps were put on display, left both students and visitors enthralled, with the pigeon post being the highlight

“Stamps were used by British viceroy to make his communications in India , especially in Kolkata. We have got a very encouraging response. Young school students not only admired these miniature artifacts, but were also keen on enrolling themselves in the philately bureau,” said KL Khanna, chief post master general, General Post Office, Sector 17, Chandigarh.

Khanna said one would have to pay Rs 200 and corresponding stamps would be delivered at her or his residence.

Though not much advertised, the exhibition witnessed students from various schools in the tricity.

“With letter writing becoming an alien art, such exhibitions help in creating awareness about the hidden art in one of the oldest form of communications,” said a principal.



Cattle menace
Officials asked to submit action-taken report
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 25
Panchkula Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Gurvinder Kaur today directed the district authorities to submit the action-taken report on the court orders issued to officials concerned to take steps to rid roads of stray cattle.

The court had issued a contempt notice to Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Ashima Brar, Municipal Corporation executive officer KK Jain and Superintendent of Police, Panchkula, upon an application filed by a Panchkula-based couple, Pankaj and Sangeeta Chandgothia, contending dis-obedience of the court orders issued on October 20.

The PIL will now come up for hearing on December 17.

The couple filed a public interest litigation accusing the authorities of neglecting their duties of safeguarding the safety of the commuting public and failing to keep the city roads free of fatal obstructions.

Chandgothia submitted that if the acts of omission and commission being committed by the defendants were allowed to sustain and continue, the public should suffer grievous, irreparable harm, injury and loss. Stray cattle are often found sitting or moving in the middle of busy roads, leading to accidents.



Consumer Rights
German experts for national test agency in India
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Enforcement of consumer rights should be the main aim of the Central Government and for this, a national test agency should be constituted to ensure quality products for the consumers.

Dr Rainer Metz, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Food Agriculture and Consumer Protection, Government of Germany, stated this while addressing the 7th National Consumers’ Convention held at The Engineers Institute in Sector 19 here today.

Dr Metz said a memorandum of understanding had been signed between the German and Indian governments in the area of consumer policy.

He recommended the implementation of the consumer rights Act and a National Test Agency for products and services.

He said the German government provided 100 per cent funding to consumer organisations and the same should be replicated in India. Talking to The Tribune, Dr Metz said though the Indian government had framed the consumer protection Act 25 years ago, it was yet to be enforced. He said there was a need for a single national umbrella having a strong voice to protect the consumers’ interest.

“This agency should work independently and the state or central governments should have no control over it.” He said organisations at the grassroots level provided feedback to the Federal Government in Germany and it helped the cause of consumer protection. The government was providing 9 million Euros to these organisations, he added.

Another German expert, Patrick Von Braunmuhl, said an organisation working under the German government — GIZ — was giving consultancy services in the area of establishing a consumer advisory network across India. He added that GIZ was also training officials of the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) in preparation for making it a nodal agency for consumer advice.

Earlier in his welcome address, RK Kaplash, chairman, Consumer Coordination Council (CCC), New Delhi, while lamenting the low level of consumer awareness in the interior areas of the country, said such conventions would help create awareness and empower consumers.

He said even in cities like Chandigarh, only 70 per cent people were aware of their rights as a consumer.

Another issue taken up on the first day of the convention was of consumer benefits given by hospitals after accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Health Services (NABH).

The session on consumers’ right to food safety was full of latest information, as the subject of genetically modified foods was debated. Two workshops on models of good governance and telecom advocacy were organised to generate consumer awareness.



Defer exams, demand MCM students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 25
Expressing resentment over the ongoing two-hour joint strike by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), undergraduate students of MCM College today staged a protest demanding that their half-yearly exams should be postponed.

The exams are to begin from November 28, however, students demanded that the same should be held in January. Students claimed that the teachers’ strike was affecting their studies.

A section of college students gathered outside the principal’s office and raised slogans.

They demanded that their exams be postponed from November 28 to January.

Students said they feared that question paper could be from the part of syllabus that they didn’t study.

Although the students had gathered for the protest, despite repeated attempts, they refused to send their representative to have a dialogue with the college principal that led to more chaos. Neutral students then acted as a mediator between the authorities and students.

“The college authorities should postpone the exams as as we didn’t get the time to study. As the teachers have been on a strike for long, our syllabus is yet to be completed,” said one of the students.

College principal Puneet Bedi said the college was ready to re-schedule some exams, but can’t postpone these as the winter break was starting from December 15.

“If students find question papers to be out of syllabus, that particular question will be changed at the same time,” Bedi said.

Later in the evening, the college authorities claimed that the matter had been resolved. Students were given preparatory leave on November 26.

The teachers’ union has been protesting against the Punjab government for showing an apathetic attitude towards their long-pending demand. They said the state government had failed to implement the provisions of the Punjab Pension and Gratuity Act, 1999, as well as other rulings of the UGC.



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