C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


PU in eye of storm
Decision on honorary degrees to Bansal, Swaraj raises eyebrows
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
A fresh controversy over PU making “special favours to special people” has rocked Panjab University with the university deciding to confer Honoris Causa (Honorary Degrees) on Pawan Kumar Bansal and Sushma Swaraj, both Members of Parliament, at its convocation slated later this month.
Pawan Bansal
Pawan Bansal
Sushma Swaraj
Sushma Swaraj

The two are among five names cleared by Panjab University Syndicate on November 19. Bansal is a cabinet minister, while Sushma is a BJP Member of Parliament.

The teaching community is furious and has raised accusing fingers at the authorities concerned, alleging “ulterior motives”.

“The honorary degree of Panjab University is an honour and cannot be conferred on any alumni just for being a minister or a Member of Parliament. There is no transparency in deciding upon the recipients of these degrees. We don’t know what is the criteria and who chooses them,” said a PUTA member.

A senior faculty member pointed out that a list of names for the awards had been cleared by a committee headed by Prof RP Bambah. Sources said the committee “merely completed a formality because the names are cleared by the Chancellor”.

The faculty member said: “We had chosen names from among different categories of scientists, humanitarians and statesman. We are definite that these are not the names that we had decided on earlier.”

While a cross-section of Syndicate members said they had not received any official communication yet, a member on the condition of anonymity said: “Frankly speaking, we don’t even know when this committee was formed or who its members were.”

Another name that has created ripples is that of Dr NK Ganguly, former Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research. Ganguly was booked by the CBI in November, 2010 for his involvement in the ICMR housing scandal.

A 2.5-acre plot in Noida, Sector 35, was allotted in 1992 to the Institute of Cytology and Preventive Oncology to build its staff quarters.

The Indian Council of Medical Research illegally transferred the land in 2007 to a private housing society, of which several top officials and scientists became members.

20 degrees & counting

The incumbent Vice-Chancellor, Prof RC Sobti, is out to make a record of sorts as 20 Honoris Causa have already been awarded during his tenure, starting from 2006 to date, as compared to an average of eight every decade since 1949. Eleven degrees were awarded from 2000-2005.




Drugs drove them to crime, AIDS
UT police arrests two for thefts
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
While different organisations across the city observed the World AIDS Day today by organising functions for awareness and care of the less fortunate, two HIV positive drug addicts, who were nabbed by the Crime Branch, Sector 11, were not so fortunate to receive the care.

The two were kept away from the others and no one talked to them. They were removed from the surroundings and given a separate place. As a precautionary measure, their meal was served in separate utensils.

Ravinder Singh and Vikas, both addicted to injecting drugs, told the police that they got the shock of their life sometime back when they learnt that they were at the “point of no return from a life consuming ailment”. Both are attending anti-drug sessions at different places.

The Crime Branch had arrested the two and recovered six stolen motor vehicles from their possession today. The two told the police that they took to stealing vehicles to buy drugs in 2006.

“It was only a longing for drugs, drugs and more drugs that kept us going from one theft to another. We talked about quitting the world of crime several times, however, the fun of the needle prevented us from doing so.”

A resident of Mauli Jagran, Ravinder Singh’s father works as a driver. He attended school till class IX. “I got into bad company and started taking injections five years ago along with my friends for a high. I fell ill last year and my blood test showed that I was HIV positive. My life changed after that,” said 26-year-old Ravinder while talking to Chandigarh Tribune, as he was being produced in court.

Blame it on sheer ignorance that Ravinder never changed the needle of the injection that he shared with Vikas while taking “my kick”.

Vikas works as a sweeper and is married. His wife, too, has been infected with the virus. He is being treated at the dispensary in Baltana. Ravinder is undergoing treatment at the PGI.



asset wise
Spouses dwarf most candidates
Aarti Kapur/Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Call it sheer coincidence or clever move, but better halves of a majority of candidates in fray for the forthcoming MC elections are wealthier than their spouses. At least the affidavits submitted to the election commission say so.

Leading businessman Mukesh Bassi, a Congress candidate, in his disclosure of assets has shown that his family owns seven commercial properties in Delhi and Gurgaon, while his wife owns seven commercial properties in Delhi and Gurgaon. The couple does not own a single vehicle, if one goes by the affidavit.

Two former Mayors from Congress — Subhash Chawla and Kamlesh — also do not own any vehicles, according to their disclosure.

Life partners’ assets, however, are much higher than these candidates. Congress candidate Kamlesh, sitting councillor for the past three terms, owns a plot at Zirakpur, while her husband owns two plots — one in Chandigarh and another at Zirakpur.

Similarly, JS Kang, an SAD-BJP candidate, has declared that he doesn’t own any vehicle. However, his wife is a proud owner of four luxury vehicles.

The story of BJP candidate Divesh Moudgil is no different. While his wife enjoys the ride of a Swift Dzire, he rides a Kinetic scooter.

Interesting details of another affidavit show that Raj Kumari Mishra, a BJP candidate from ward No. 23, resides in Ram Durbar, but her husband owners four houses. He owns a flat in Zirakpur, a tenement house in Vikas Nagar, a house in Bapu Dham and another house in Sector 26.

Another Congress candidate, Jatinder Bhatia, who is contesting for the fourth time, doesn’t own a vehicle, while his wife has two vehicles.

Indecent disclosures

n Subhash Chawla, an established businessman, doesn’t own any vehicle

n Raj Kumari Mishra, BJP contestant from ward No. 23, owns a house in Ram Durbar. Her husband owns four in tricity.

n JS Kang, BJP-SAD candidate, doesn’t own a vehicle. His wife owns four luxury cars

Fresh faces sans vehicles

n Fresh faces in the political arena have claimed that they do not own any vehicle. Neeru Yadav, Laxmi Devi and Rajesh Kalia will either hire some or canvass on foot



heritage auctions
Inventory far from ready
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
While auction houses overseas are busy selling city heritage furniture items in the international market for thousands of dollars, the UT administration, which had constituted a Heritage Inventory Committee in May this year, has failed to complete the inventory of heritage furniture in various departments of the administration.

The administration had already extended the deadline of the committee four times to complete the inventory in past seven months.

The committee was constituted after the UT administration realised the value  of furniture items designed by Le Corbusier and his team, which had fetched high prices in the auctions overseas.

KK Sharma, Adviser to the UT Administrator, said preparing inventory of heritage items in all departments was not an easy task. He added that it was a time-consuming exercise and soon the administration would complete the inventory.

Pradeep Bhagat, Principal, Chandigarh College of Architecture (CCA), who is also heading the committee, said they had completed the inventory in 22 departments. Only the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Punjab Engineering College (PEC) were to yet be evaluated.

To preserve the city heritage items, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had issued the directions to the UT administration.

Recent Auctions

n November 22: Artcurial, a Paris-based auction house, sold a cane and teakwood dining table and a pair of easy armchairs for Rs 22 lakh

n November 3: Marseilles, a Paris-based auction house, sold 30 different pieces for Rs 1.92 crore

n May 25: Artcurial sold four of the seven lots of heritage furniture designed by Jeanneret for Rs 40.75 lakh.

Upcoming Auctions

n December 14: Phillips de Pury and Company, a New York-based auction house, is going to sell 11 lots of furniture

n December 15: Wright, a Chicago based auction house, is set to auction two sets of stools from the Chandigarh College of Architecture

Booking of architect

In February, the UT police had booked an architect, Jaswinder Singh, in a case of criminal breach of trust following a UT administration’s report holding him responsible for the loss of certain heritage items. In the report, the then SDM and current Joint Secretary (Home) Abhishek Dev had concluded that Jaswinder Singh had sold out heritage items to a French national in the early 1990s.



Youth stabbed to death at Kajheri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
A 24-year-old youth was stabbed to death in a residential locality in Kajheri village in Sector 61 here today. The victim, Varinder Singh, was stabbed after he indulged in a fight with another youth, Sanju, over an issue of eve teasing of a girl.

The police has arrested Sanju, a student of Dr Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management in Sector 42, for the murder. A case has been registered in Sector 36 police station.

The incident occurred this afternoon when Varinder along with his neighbour, Sohan Singh, went to Sanju’s house. Sanju was allegedly harassing Sohan’s sister. Varinder had called Sanju to a nearby park where he beat him up accusing him of eve teasing.

Enraged by the insult, Sanju went back to his house and brought two sharp-edged weapons with him. He then stabbed Varinder in the chest and fled leaving the victim in a pool of blood.

Passersby called the police and the victim was rushed to the Government Multi-Specialty Hospital where he was declared brought dead.

Later, the police arrested Sanju, who has a criminal past and was also booked earlier in a case of attempt to murder.

The police said Sanju was a resident of Samalkha in Panipat district and he was residing in Kajheri in a rented accommodation and Varinder was employed with a private company of the CCTV cameras.


Staff pangs at RLA
No replacement of sacked workers hurts public
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Acute staff crunch at the local Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) department has resulted in a major harassment to those visiting the office in Sector 17 for regular work lately.

While at least 10 counters used to cater to public earlier, just six of these counters are operational these days.

As a result, long queues, altercations among members of public and chaos in front of the counters have become commonplace here.

The department has been facing the shortage of staff ever since the removal of at least seven data entry operators and transfer of three officials over their alleged involvement in the Rs 5.6-lakh scam unearthed recently. For over a month now, no appointment has been made to fill the vacant posts. As a result, the department, which deals with hundreds of people everyday, is facing an acute staff shortage.

“The staff will be appointed once the model code of conduct (enforced ahead of the municipal corporation elections) is lifted,” said a senior official of the UT administration.

While visitors lament that their precious time is being wasted unnecessarily, officials of the department claim they are overburdened.

“Following the detection of the scam, at least nine officials were removed from the office. We were not given any employee in their place, which resulted in the shutting down of at least five counters. Now, every employee here has to do double the work,” says an employee of the department, adding that they are still doing their best to cope with the rush at the counters.

However, visitors feel they are being made to suffer for laxity on part of senior officials of the UT administration.

“Everyone knows how important the department is. Why didn’t they fill the posts immediately after the employees’ removal? Even for a small job, one has to waste several hours standing in the queues,” says Gurjeet Singh while waiting for his turn in a queue to get his new car registered.

Similarly, Aneeta, a resident of Sector 15, says this is her third visit to the office for documentation.

“Every time I come here, I witness long queues in front of the counter that receives documents. As I work at a private firm, I can’t afford to waste half a day waiting in the queue,” says Aneeta.

“In spite of staff crunch, we are trying our best to cope with the rush,” says Sanjeev Kohli, registration and lincensing officer.



RLA Scam
One-member panel to conduct probe
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The UT administration has constituted a one-member committee to look into the embezzlement of funds in the local Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) office.

CL Lakhanpal, a retired IAS officer of Haryana cadre, has been asked by the UT Deputy Commissioner, Brijendra Singh, to conduct a regular inquiry in the case. Lakhanpal will be assisted by Deepak Kainth, who has been posted as superintendent (accounts) in the RLA.

In the wake of the scam, a special audit will also be initiated in the department soon, said a senior official of the RLA.

The UT police has also been investigating in the scam, following the registration of an FIR against 10 officials of the department, including seven employees on contract (all data entry operators), under Sections 409 and 420, IPC, at the police station-17 on November 9.

At least 10 officials of the department were found involved in embezzlement of around Rs 5.60 lakh during an inspection of account records of five-month period from April 1 to August 30 this year by the former UT Additional Commissioner, ML Sharma, last month.

Funds pertaining to 11 transactions were embezzled and were not deposited in the treasury. The officials in question were reportedly involved in at least seven such entries.

When the fraud came to light, an unidentified depositor had suddenly deposited Rs 5.60 lakh in the UT Administration’s treasury under RLA head on November 1.

Taking action, the administration had transferred the three government employees to their parent departments, while the contractual ones were removed immediately.

The sources said in the order there was no mention of deadline of the inquiry by Lakhanpal.

Audit soon

Apart from the inquiry, a special audit will also be initiated in the RLA office soon



Candidates scramble for voters’ attention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Hectic canvassing by candidates contesting the forthcoming municipal corporation elections was witnessed in all wards today.

Raj Bala Malik, Congress candidate from ward No. 1, holds an election rally at Sector 8
Raj Bala Malik, Congress candidate from ward No. 1, holds an election rally at Sector 8

Congress candidate from ward No. 18 Devinder Singh Babla, who is also the sitting councillor, started door-to-door campaigning with his supporters. He was received by shopkeepers of ward No. 18 with garlands.

Some shopkeepers accompanying him said their ward had seen an overall development under Babla and they were supporting him in these elections.

Another Congress candidate, Arshad Khan, from ward No. 26 spelled out his vision for the ward.

He said that the ward had been plagued by problems like bad roads, inadequate infrastructure, improper lighting, insufficient water supply and pressure, neglect of roads, sewerage problems, improper schooling facilities.

Saurabh Joshi, BJP candidate from ward No. 2, campaigns with his supporters at Sector 15, Chandigarh, on Thursday
Saurabh Joshi, BJP candidate from ward No. 2, campaigns with his supporters at Sector 15, Chandigarh, on Thursday. Tribune photos: Pradeep Tewari

Addressing residents, he said he had a number of constructive suggestions for the ward, including construction of rigid pavement at motor market, a stadium for pocket No. 8, a commercial block, a rivulet with a green belt and a sports complex.

Arun Sood, BJP candidate from ward No. 8, inaugurated his election office today. Senior leaders, including Sanjay Tandon, BJP UT unit president, Harmohan Dhawan, former union cabinet minister, Jagjit Singh Kang, Kamla Sharma and Harjinder Kaur, both former Mayors, were present.

Sood led a door-to-door campaign in the Punjab Mandi Board residential colony and the CFSL residential colony.

Mukesh Bassi, Congress candidate for ward No. 17, took a whirlwind tour of his ward and shared his vision for the development of the ward with voters.

Major projects mapped out by him for the development included upgrade and renovation of community centers in all sectors of the ward, beautification of green belts, carpeting and widening of internal roads, proper illumination on V5 roads and proper maintenance and cleanliness of service lanes.

Pardeep Chhabra, Congress candidate from ward No. 3, started door-to-door campaigning in Sector 22. He appealed to the residents to vote in his favour.



2 officers get charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
A day after Chandigarh Tribune reported that two newly appointed officers had not been allotted departments for the past 15 days, the UT administration today allotted departments to these officers.

Balbir Singh, a PCS officer, has been given the charge of Additional Inspector General (Prison), Superintendent Burail Jail and Joint Registrar Cooperative Societies, relieving Rahul Gupta from the charge.

The administration also appointed Rajesh Jogpal, an HCS officer, as Chief Executive Officer, Chandigarh Housing Board, relieving Jaswinder Kaur. While Balbir Singh had joined the administration on November 11, Rajesh Jogpal had joined on November 14.



Political parties field school dropouts as candidates
Aarti Kapur/Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Taking no lesson from the past, both major political parties have fielded school dropouts and secondary passouts as their candidates for the city having literacy rate of 86.43 per cent.

The classic trend set by the BJP, out of 26 candidates fielded by the BJP, 15 have never seen the college. Out of which, 10 are the first timers in the elections. Following the footsteps, the Congress has also fielded seven candidates who are either matriculate or secondary pass.

Interestingly, for the wards, which comprises of slums and colonies, both parties have chosen the candidates who are matriculate or secondary pass. For ward number 14, which comprises of one of the biggest villages of the city, Burail and Sector 45, both BJP and Congress have fielded a candidate, which is middle pass. Similarly for ward number 23, comprising Ram Darbar and Hallo Majra, both national parties have finalised the matriculate candidate.



BJP roping in senior leaders for campaigning
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The BJP has set the stage for hectic campaigning for the forthcoming municipal corporation elections by inviting their senior party leaders to woo voters.

Flags hang from an electricity pole at a market in Sector 15, Chandigarh, on Thursday.
Flags hang from an electricity pole at a market in Sector 15, Chandigarh, on Thursday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Senior party leaders and Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri today visited the city and addressed party leaders on chalking out their strategies for the elections. On Tuesday, the BJP candidates were addressed by former party chief Rajnath Singh in which discussions were held on various election related issues.

Sources said to intensify campaigning for the elections, the party is preparing a list of senior leaders who would be approached to visit the city in the coming days.

The sources said the party was focussing on those leaders who had been in touch with the region in the past and were aware about the problems of the city.

The sources added that among the senior leaders, two - Sushma Swaraj and Rajiv Partap Rudi - have had their education in the city.

Considering the Sikh voters of the city, the party is planning to approach Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minster Sukhbir Badal.

Beside, BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and senior party leader Arun Jaitley are also being approached by the party for their appearance at election rallies.

Pledge letter

A local NGO, Aawaaz, has invited all contesting candidates to sign a pledge letter and take oath for a corruption-free city.

The organisation has written a letter to the Chandigarh Congress Committee president BB Bahl, BJP president Sanjay Tandon and BSP convener Haffiz Anwar Ul-Haq requesting them to come forward in making Chandigarh a corruption-free city.

The organisation has invited all contesting candidates to sign the pledge letter at Nehru Park, Sector 22, on December 3.



First withdrawal of nomination
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
An independent candidate, Sohan Singh Sandhu, who was contesting from ward number 20, withdrew his name today from the contesting candidate of the municipal corporation.

He is the first candidate, who has withdrawn his nomination papers. After his withdrawal, the total candidates left in fray are 156. The last day of withdrawal fixed by the Election Commission is December 2.



BSF gets Rs 560 crore for training facilities
Vijay Mohan /tns

Chandigarh, December 1
To face new challenges, the Border Security Force (BSF) has received a grant of Rs 560 crore from the Central government to refurbish and upgrade its training infrastructure.

"Our force levels are increasing and commitments have expanded and diversified. This also calls for the training curriculum and infrastructure to be kept up with the emerging changes," said Himmat Singh, Special Director General (West), BSF. Besides increasing the capacity of training establishments, new courses and special training capsules have been introduced to meet the security challenges at hand, particularly anti-naxal operations. In addition, infrastructure like buildings, firing ranges and equipment are also being improved.

The Special Director General (West) headquarters, located here, is responsible for the management of the entire 2,527 kms of the international border with Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir to Gujarat.

Singh said that the BSF, which is celebrating its Raising Day today, is undergoing massive expansion with 29 new battalions. Eight battalions are being raised this year. To cater to the expansion, the annual intake of constables has been increased to 20,000 from about 5,000 per year. These constables would pass out from training centres in next two months.

"To meet training requirements of the force, the government has also sanctioned 1,500 new posts of instructors at various levels," Singh said. "In addition, the force's air and water wings are also being strengthened. Increase in the strength of women constables is also on the cards," he added.

To strengthen border management, 177 composite border outposts (BOP) are being constructed in forward areas, which would have better operational facilities and living conditions. The number of items authorised for a BOP has been doubled to 14 to ensure better facilities, including power generators, water purification gadgets and coolers and mobile or satellite phones. Further, to assist jawans in travelling, establishment of seven transit messes at various locations have been approved.

Regarding illegal activities along the western border, Singh said that the BSF had foiled three infiltration bids in Jammu sector this year. The force had killed 18 infiltrators and apprehended 170 persons, including 93 foreign nationals. It had also recovered 75-kg heroin valued around Rs 375 crore, 15 weapons and Rs 35 lakh in fake Indian currency.



UT gets green signal
High Security Registration Plates
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
There will be no further delay in initiating the process of implementation of the High Security Registration Plates (HSRPs) on vehicles due to the existing “code of conduct” as the State Election Commission has given a green signal to the UT administration to go ahead with the project.

Satya Gopal, UT Home Secretary, said now a tender to select the vendors for affixation of the “special” registration plates on vehicles here would be floated in a day or two.

The administration has time up to March 31, next year, given by the SC for finalisation of the process, the Home Secretary said the administration wanted it to initiate as soon as possible.

The Centre has recently approved the UT’s tender document on the project after three months. But due to the code of conduct here of late, it was doubtful of initiating the process before conclusion of the Municipal Corporation elections. “But there is no such hurdle now,” added Satya Gopal.

Earlier, the process of affixing the HSRPs came into effect in mid-August but the project had been stalled on August 30 following the directions of the apex court, which had ordered the administration to follow the proper procedure first. Then as per the directions from the SC, the administration had prepared the tender document in mid-September and sent it to the Centre, which had returned the document at least four times after marking queries to the administration before giving its nod only a couple of days before.



MC MULLS vehicle-free ZONE zone
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, December 1
The Zirakpur Municipal Council (MC) is planning to declare the congested area of Zirakpur “vehicle free zone”. The council will also introduce an eco-friendly bicycle rickshaw, popularly known as ‘eco-cabs’ in the town.

The proposal has been mooted after the municipal council had received a letter from Punjab Government to declare the congested area vehicle free zone and to run eco-cabs in the area. The agenda is likely to be discussed in the coming council meeting on Friday.

Congested roads, unplanned development, encroachments and un-authorised stopping of vehicles makes it virtually impossible for the vehicles to pass through as such, the introduction of eco-cabs is being seen as a viable solution to the traffic problems in the town.

The concept of eco-cabs was launched in FazilkaLast year that received a boost and the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo-moto in one of the news item and ordered the Government of Punjab, Haryana states and the UT Chandigarh to implement it in various cities of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh.

An MC official said a team will be set up to inspect the town and to find the congested areas. He said the agenda would be discussed in Friday council meeting and would be finalised after the councilors’ approval.



Mixed response to bandh call over FDI issue
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 1
The call of bandh by the vyapar mandal against Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail sector evoked a mixed response as shops remained closed in many areas of the town, here today. While the market of Sector 11 and Mansa Devi Complex remained closed, the majority of the shops in the other markets however, remained opened through out the day.

The bandh was supported by the BJP and other opposition parties.

A BJP leader, who runs his shop at Sector 10, said the shopkeepers could not organise the bandh in proper way as there was a little time to reach to them after the call was made by Vyapar Mandal, yesterday.

In Chandigarh, however, there was no impact of the call as all the shops in city remained opened throughout the day.



Mohali Corporation to Council
Nine ex-councillors seek reinstatement
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, December 1
With the Punjab and Haryana High Court staying the government notification issued in connection with the upgrade of the Mohali Municipal Council to the level of a corporation, nine former councillors today demanded reinstatement, so that they could serve their wards as elected representatives, till the next elections were held.

They also demanded all financial benefits for the eight months that they had foregone for the sake of the upgrade of the civic body.

The demand was made at a meeting held under the chairmanship of former president of the municipal council, Rajinder Singh Rana.

The meeting was attended by Amrik Singh Somal, Rishiv Jain, Raj Rani Jain, Usha Rani, Kuljit Singh Aulakh, Suresh Kumar Lucky, Gurpreet Kaur, Harvinder Kaur and Gurnam Singh Bindra. Congress MLA from Kharar Balbir Singh Sidhu was also present at the meeting.

Appreciating the orders of the court, the former councillors said the decision of the SAD-BJP government to upgrade the council to a corporation was “most undesirable” and residents were happy that the court had stayed the decision of the government. Rana said the sole aim of the state government was to unseat the Congress-backed president of the civic body and was not bothered about the development of the town. Hardly any development was witnessed in Mohali after the formation of the corporation. Instead, the financial load on the civic body had gone up with additional staff.

The government had tried many a time to unseat him but failed each time. After the civic body was made into a corporation, the government made no move to bring other areas of the town under the limits of the upgraded body.

The former councillors said the government had dissolved the elected body in January, 2011, even when the term of the elected body was to expire in August.

The government made no effort to get the next elections to the civic body conducted. The wrong decision of the government would have an adverse effect in the forthcoming Assembly elections, as residents had suffered due to the indifferent attitude of the corporation authorities.

Dues, too

The former councillors have also demanded all financial benefits for the eight months that they have foregone for the sake of the upgrade of the civic body



Cooking institute at Pinjore soon: Fin Secy
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 1
A National Culinary Institute (NCI), first of its kind in North-India would soon be set up at Pinjore to boost the employment opportunities in tourism sector.

The statement was announced by the State Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, tourism department, Dhanpat Singh, at Yadvindra Gardents in Pinjore near here today.

He said the Union Ministry of tourism; Government of India (GOI) had already accorded principal approval to the Rs 5 crore project for which seven acres of land had been acquired from the horticulture department. While the union government has provided funds for it, Haryana Tourism will run and maintain the institute, he said. With the setting up of the institute, the students would be imparted advances training in kitchen handling including different cuisines. Apart from the students, those already associated with the field of tourism and hotel industry would also be entitled to get admission, he added.



Widening  of road
Civic body rejects NHAI proposal
Rajiv Bhatia

Zirakpur, December 1
It seems that residents of Zirakpur will not get relief from traffic jams as the Zirakpur Municipal Council (MC) has decided to reject the proposal of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) where they had proposed to not allow the MC to put advertisement hoardings on the roads.

It should be noticed that, earlier, NHAI had proposed to allow MC to execute road-widening work of the stret widening of the stretch. The official said they would not give the permission to use the space along the highways for any kind of advertisement to the council.

Recently, the issue was discussed at the meeting held at the DC’s office in Mohali. Dera Bassi SDM, MC officials and traffic policemen were present at the meeting. To solve the problem of traffic congestion on the stretch, NHAI had granted the permission to the civic body to carry out the widening work. They had also given them the project report.

Zirakpur MC president NK Sharma said the matter would be discussed at the council meeting. He said if the council was spending its funds, NHAI should give the permission for advertisement to generate the spending cost.



Stage set for Pinjore Heritage Festival
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 1
The three-day Pinjore Heritage Festival will be inaugurated by Haryana agriculture minister, Paramvir Singh, at Pinjore Garden near here, tomorrow. However, Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, would be the chief guest at the closing ceremony on December 4.

Haryana Financial Commissioner and Principal Secretary, tourism department, Dhanpat Singh said the purpose of organising festival was to spread awareness about the century’s oldest heritage of Pinjore town and the gardens. The “Garden Palace” has been laid on a classical plan of Mughal Gardens province at that time such as the one in Kashmir. The unique garden has been laid at seven levels on a descending scale.

A crafts bazaar and reminiscent of Mughal times would be set up with shops and clusters of stalls and tented pavilion. Cultural evenings would be organised on all the three days to for the audience. Day performers would entertain the visitors through bhangra, siddi goma dance, kalbelia sapera dance, kacchi ghori, puppet show, music by bagpipers. Chandan Dass would present Shaam-e-Ghazal on Friday. Similarly, rendition of ghazals and sufi gayen would be presented by Vinod Sehgal and Vivek Ranga, a budding artist, from Haryana and Arjun Jaipuri on December 3. 



Click mouse, contact PU
Apply for entrance exams online from next session
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
In an effort to aid thousands of students and decrease the workload of examination of forms, Panjab University (PU) has decided to make the process of applying for various entrance examinations online.

According to the plan, starting from the next session, applicants for entrance examinations to courses like CET and PhD will be able to download and submit admission forms, pay fee and download identity cards with the click of a mouse.

“Thousands of people appear in these examinations. Coordination is a Herculean task for our staff. Applicants have to stand in queue for hours,” said AK Bhandari, Controller of Examination.

“Despite all our efforts, we get numerous complaints of students not getting roll numbers and discrepancy in submission of fee, leading to hassles. Making everything online will ensure that the process is less tedious and quick,” he added.

With the new system, students would be able to fill in forms online and upload their pictures and signatures. A receipt would be generated on submission, which would be the key to online fee submission, following which the identity card of the student would be generated.

Any discrepancy in the identity card would be sorted with 24 hours and a new card sent to students. The examination branch had finalised the proposal, which would be taken up with the computer branch.

This branch would develop a special software for the purpose. The examination branch had been keeping its fingers crossed on the project.

In case it was successful, the idea would be replicated in case of private candidates and postgraduate students on the campus and of affiliated colleges, which would make applying for examinations hi-tech to a great extent.



Students want exams postponed
Government Home Science College
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
The students of Government Home Science College, Sector 10, staged a protest demanding postponing of their exams that are commencing from January 2. The students claimed that the syllabus was not complete following which they demanded the postponing of exams.

The students, mostly hostellers, demanded the exams should be held from January 15. The students raised slogans against the college management that opposed the students’ demand.

While the students claimed that the syllabus was not complete and they needed more time for preparation, the college authorities claimed that the students wanted to prolong their winter vacations.

College officials said the college students, mostly from outside Chandigarh, were protesting as the college would be closed from December 15 to January 1 and further postponing the exams would prolong their holidays.

Earlier, the students of DAV MCM, Sector 36, had also stage a similar protest demanding that the exams should be postponed, as the teachers could not complete their syllabus following the strike, the officials added.



World AIDS Day
Schools yet to make headway on sex education
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
Posters, rallies and lectures, city schools went out of their way to celebrate the World AIDS Day by bombarding students with awareness on the deadly disease, but they are yet to make any headway on sex education declared mandatory by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) in 2002.

Unfortunately, while the CBSE in 2006 moved on to ask schools to start sex education in preliminary classes and even the UT education department came out with manuals, a majority of students are made to skip reproduction topics meant to be taught as a part of science subject in Classes IX and X.

The CBSE had asked all schools to go by five information booklets published by NCERT and had also collaborated with SCERT and other training institutes to train teachers in the subject.

Following this, former DPI (S) SK Setia had asked the schools to set apart one period in a week to the subject and talked about training teachers at SIE, but all this proved to be a non-starter. A fund worth lakhs of rupees was also earmarked for publications on the subject concerned. However, the department has yet to clarify the fate of this fund.

“I know the situation is dismal but it depends on teachers to change their outlook. We have printed manuals, even counselled them, but they don’t shed inhibitions. We have no issues in introducing it as a subject but who will teach them? Teachers have to be trained for the same,” said a senior education department official.

The situation is also not, too, great in private schools where though some efforts are being made but coeducational nature of institutions proves to be a big hindrance.

“We do go in for separate counselling for boys and girls, but frankly speaking, both students and teachers, are yet to be ready to take it up as a proper subject in the coeducational classes. We need to orient them for the same and are working towards it but it shall surely take a lot of time,” said HS Mamik, president, Independent School Association.



Need to keep vigil on high-risk population
Tribune News Service

Members of the NSS unit of Dev Samaj College of Education observe World AIDS Day in Chandigarh on Thursday
Members of the NSS unit of Dev Samaj College of Education observe World AIDS Day in Chandigarh on Thursday. a tribune photograph

Chandigarh, December 1
The Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society observed the World AIDS Day by organising a two-day conference “AIDSCON 2011”, which commenced today. The conference is being held in the advanced paediatric centre of PGIMER and was inaugurated by DK Tiwari, secretary health, Chandigarh Administration.

Tiwari congratulated the Chandigarh State AIDS Control Society for its efforts, which has brought down HIV prevalence in the city. He emphasised on the importance of following ethical guidelines in all activities related to people living with HIV/AIDS.

Dr Chander Mohan, director health services, UT, Chandigarh, who was the guest of honour, highlighted the message for day, which targets achieving zero new infection, zero stigma and zero discrimination.

Dr Vanita Gupta, project director, Chandigarh SACS, presented the HIV/AIDS scenario of the region. She emphasised on the need for constant vigil for monitoring high-risk population. The declining HIV prevalence in the age group of 15 to 24 years is a clear indicator of the low new HIV infection in the future. A state-of-the-art blood mobile van was also launched on the occasion. Dr Neelam Marwaha, professor and head, department of transfusion medicine, PGIMER, Chandigarh, explained that the blood mobile van would be placed at market places, shopping malls, office areas, where willing donors can avail this facility to donate blood.



Psychometric analysis to choose career

Chandigarh, December 1
Panjab University (PU) will now use psychometric analysis to aid students in their placements.

The career guidance and counselling cell, PU, established under the University Grants Commission (UGC) is geared up to organise a series of workshop on career orientation and psychometric testing where students will be assessed on their strengths, weaknesses and interests. It would help them choose best career option and relevant company. —TNS



Giving students edge in professional lives
Two-year English access micro-scholarship programme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 1
A few months ago, they could not put together a sentence in English. But now, they stand on the dais, addressing hundreds. Mamta, Charu, Sandeep, Meenakshi and Saurabh always wanted to be fluent in English, but could not afford English-speaking courses.

Things changed for them with the two-year English access micro-scholarship programme, that began at Government Model Senior Secondary School, timber market, Sector 26, in February.

A US delegation led by Ann Stock, acting Under-Secretary, US Government, and accompanied by Peter Burleigh, US Ambassador to India, and Milchael Pelletier, Minister-Counsellor, Public Affairs, US Embassy, New Delhi, visited the students.

Giving information about the initiative, Burleigh said this project was aimed at enhancing the language skills of marginalised students so that they had a competitive edge in their academic and professional lives.

“I was impressed to hear the first batch converse in English,” said Stock. “I am sure that with time, they will speak more fluently,” she added.

“This course will enable underprivileged kids to get better jobs. It is about how well you can make use of the opportunities,” she further said. The team was received by Sandeep Hans, DPI (Schools), education department, Alka Mehta, school principal, and Pramod Sharma, coordinator, Yuvsatta.



Education Brief

Former VCs honoured

PATIALA: As a part of its golden jubilee celebrations, Punjabi University, Patiala, held a special function to honour its former Vice-Chancellors for their contribution in raising the status of the university to the present exalted position. Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jaspal Singh, said though we had sent invitations to all former Vice-Chancellors, Dr Swarn Singh Boparai and Dr Inderjit Kaur Sandhu, could not make it to the occasion.

Philosophy day

Guru Gobind Singh department of religious studies, Punjabi University, Patiala, organised a seminar on the World Philosophy Day with the help of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, Government of India. The topic of the seminar was “Islam and terrorism: Ideology and issues”. The chief speaker was Dr Swaraj Singh. Dr Swaraj started with an introduction to Islam and its basics and concluded with a message of following peace in every religion.

DAV students win laurels

Students of DAV Public School, Bhupindra road, Patiala, won laurels at various national and state-level competitions. Vaneet, Prince, Kamaljeet, Raghav and Bhavna of Class X, Jasmeet, Dinesh of Class VIII, Harvinder of Class VII and Tanya of Class IX won laurels by winning first prize in folk song at the national-level competition organised by the Bharat Vikas Parishad. In sports, Bhavna Gera and Niharika Sharma got first position in archery, Sakshi Bhatnagar and Anshika Garg got second position in badminton in the All-India Mahatma Hansraj Raj Aryan Tournaments-2011 (national girls). Palak and Simran got first prize in the table tennis at the state level, Jashanpreet of class V got one gold medal, one silver and 1 bronze medal in rink race and Jappreet Kaur of class VII got one silver and one bronze medal in the rink race and rink road at the state level organised by the district education officer. Simranjot got a silver medal in softball at the national level tournament organised by the Softball Federation of India. Principal SR Prabhakar congratulated the winners.



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