C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Nursery admissions stalled
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
In what comes as a serious blow to over 80 city private schools and thousands of anxious parents, the UT education department has stalled the ongoing nursery admission process across the schools.

In a letter shot to schools today, District Education officer Chanchal Singh has barred them from finalising the list of successful candidates either by point system or holding draw of lots or by any other procedure till further orders.

The department was witness to the recent admission fiasco at St Kabir School, following which parents filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

“We have done this to ensure that St Kabir incident is not repeated in any other school. It is unfortunate that while everything right from the mode of admission to the date of declaration of results was amicably agreed upon by schools, this school went ahead with its plans. Had the admission been done in line with dates of other schools, parents would have not had such resentment. Anyways we are just trying to coordinate things better for parents,” said Education Secretary VK Singh.

St Kabir came in line of fire recently for alleged “unauthorised” reservation of its seats for alumni, siblings and other categories and conducting draw for only 18 seats.

Increase FAR, improve govt schools

}The admission ban is a sheer mockery of our autonomy and admission system. We carry out our admissions on the schedule given by the administration and were allowed to carry out our admissions in line with provision of the RTE. We didn’t want to go for draw of lots, as luck can never be a qualifying criterion for education. The point system mooted by us is inspired by the government-approved module adopted by Delhi schools, which has worked there. If the education department really wishes to deal with parents’ anxiety, it should allow us to increase our seats by increasing floor area ratio (FAR) and improve government schools. Stalling admission will just increase the woes.~

— HS Mamik, president, Independent School Association

Go for non-screening methods

RTE bans screening of child and giving preference to children of alumni means giving unauthorised advantage to parents’ background. School will have to go by non-screening methods.

— Chanchal Singh, DEO, UT



44 establishments under MC radar for fire safety violations
Only one hospital has reported compliance with norms

Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
At least 44 buildings in the city have been issued notices by the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation during the past three months for violating fire safety norms in different buildings, particularly business establishments and hospitals.

The list includes hotels, banks, LPG store houses, petrol stations, SCOs and a number of industrial units.

At least 20 medical outlets were issued notices in April earlier this year. Only one of the hospitals reported compliance with the MC requirements. The remaining did not respond at all, a senior official of the Fire Department said.

It is worth mentioning that Dhanwantry College and Hospital was issued a notice recently.

It is also worth mentioning that the MC has bothered very less about follow-up to notices sent to a long row of shops flouting safety norms in Sector 34, the rehri markets of Sectors 15, 18, 19 and 22. A log list of notices has also been issued to the tuition shops offering coaching classes to students, particularly in Sectors 20 and 36.

Major fires

August 24: Electronic equipment worth lakhs of rupees and important records of two wings of Punjab National Bank (PNB) were destroyed in a major fire which gutted the top floor of the circle office located at Bank Square in Sector 17. Manual and computerised records were destroyed in the fire

July 8: Fire in a basement in Sector 22. It took firemen more than two hours to handle it due to poor ventilation and no safe passage

Weak law

The long, tedious and a rather limp system of ensuring the fire standards in buildings under the National Building Code takes away the bite from the law. A building is first issued a notice within a month’s time. The person then gets another month’s extension. If the violations still continue, the case is sent to the Chief Fire Officer. He, too, sends a notice and ultimately he can order the property to be sealed.


We have initiated a strict action plan against the defaulters under which very recently we sealed Orange Hotel, Sector 35, RK Foams, Industrial Area and Jetking, Sector 34.

— Lalit Siwach, Additional Commissioner and Chief Fire Officer

Let's concede that the existing law is too weak. Even if a building is sealed, the building is reopened if a corrective action is initiated. The MC needs to have a rigid law and set examples for other violators to be scared of the authorities. A paltry fine of Rs 500 is a joke.

— Arshad Khan, a councillor



GMSH-16 revisited
Safety measures found wanting
Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Even as the UT fire department today conducted an inspection at Government Multispecialty Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, to check fire-safety measures, no concrete steps seem to have been taken by the hospital, which was issued a notice last year to make lives of patients and employees safer in the event of a fire.

Chandigarh Tribune, which had carried a series of articles in 2009 on inadequate fire-safety arrangements in city’s hospitals, revisited the GMSH-16 today and found that no tangible efforts had been made to improve things despite a facelift being given to the building.

In gross violation of the safety norms, the hospital’s basement, which as per rules can be used only for storage and parking, has dental and physiotherapy clinics and a laundry operating from there. Besides, inflammable material and chemicals are also stored in the basement, making it fire prone.

The basement, where the clinics operate, has no ventilation and has a single entry and exit, making it a virtual trap in the event of a fire. There are also no water sprinklers installed in the basement, which as per rules, are mandatory.

Believe it or not, while the administration is spending crores of rupees on the renovation of the dental and physiotherapy clinic and construction of a new OPD building, the hospital does not even have a public address system to alert the patients, their attendants and the staff in the event of any eventuality. The ‘exit’ signs are also not displayed properly in any part of the hospital, making it a complicated maze to a newcomer.

The emergency ward and the OPD, which have the maximum number of footfalls, have single entry and exit points, even though these are interconnected through a very narrow corridor.

The seven-storeyed building, which houses the wards for the indoor patients and operation theatres, has access through a ramp only till the first floor. For seriously ill patients, evacuation could be problematic without the ramp, admit insiders. The hospital authorities claim that approval has been obtained from the administration for extending the ramp to all floors, but the work is yet to commence.

The hospital also has no trained staff to deal with a fire incident. This point was also noted by the fire officials during their inspection today and they have asked the authorities to hire at least four trained people for the job.

Loopholes galore

  • No ramp
  • Water hydrate and smoke detector - non functional
  • Chemical & other inflammable material stored in basement
  • Unsealed electric cables
  • No fire control room
  • No trained staff

Mukut, Inscol shortcomings

During the inspection, the fire & emergency team found that various fire-safety equipment were non-functional in Mukut and Inscol hospitals in Sector 34. In Mukut, fire officials observed shortcomings like no separate exit for basement, chemical storage in basement and no trained fire person in case of a fire.

Signboards missing

The ‘exit’ signs are not displayed properly in any part of the hospital, making it a complicated maze to a newcomer



Kajauli waterworks
Row over, at last
Chandigarh and Mohali agree on 40 MGD of water each

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
A solution to the Kajauli waterworks disagreement seems to have finally flowed in. Chandigarh and Mohali will both get 40 million gallons per day (MGD) each, as per an agreement reached between the UT Administration and Punjab.

This has been made possible with an increase in the diameter of the pipeline from Kajauli to Chandigarh. Its existing size has been increased to 5.50 feet to permit the flow of 80 MGD, instead of the initially planned 40 MGD. The decision was discussed during a meeting recently.

The development was significant as land acquisition would not be required now for laying the additional pipeline. Information to this effect was provided to the Punjab and Haryana High Court by way of affidavits filed by the UT Administration and GMADA.

The high court had earlier asked Punjab and Chandigarh to put their heads together to resolve the Kajauli issue.

It had asked the state and the UT to convene a meeting and submit a detailed report on the decision taken to resolve the issue. The meeting was directed to be convened by October 3.

The matter came up for hearing during resumed hearing of a petition filed by Mohali resident Kuljeet Singh Bedi. He was seeking directions to expedite the completion of phases five and six of the Kajauli waterworks, which would bring an additional 40 MGD water everyday for areas covered under the tricity.

Apprehending water scarcity at Mohali in the coming days, municipal councillor Bedi had also sought directions for the installation of adequate tubewells at Mohali and providing hotlines to waterworks at Mohali on a priority basis.

It was contended that presently, a total of 13 MGD was being supplied to Mohali, which included 10 MGD from Kajauli canal water and three MGD from tubewells, whereas the requirement, as of date, was of 28 MGD.

The Kajauli waterworks were located on the Bhakra mainline canal near Morinda in Ropar district, from where the water requirements of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula, including Chandi Mandir Cantonment, were being met.



misuse of premises
BJP conducts meeting at auditorium of institute
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 12
In violation of rules, use of the auditorium of the State Institute of Health and Family Welfare at Phase VI here was today allowed by health department officials to host a meeting of the BJP, chaired by its state president Ashwani Sharma.

The meeting was held to mobilise party workers and supporters for the state-level rally, to be organised at Jalandhar on December 24. The principal of the institute, Jatinder Pal Kaur, was not available for comment.

Party members come out of the building of the State Institute of Health and Family Welfare; and (right) Punjab BJP president Ashwani Sharma addresses party workers inside the auditorium at Phase VI of Mohali on Monday. Tribune Photos: Vicky Gharu

Sources in the department said the use of the auditorium was allowed for inter-departmental meetings, seminars and functions by other departments, subject to payment of fee, but holding functions of political parties was not officially allowed.

Since the Health Minister is a BJP MLA, the misuse of the premises was allowed on purpose and no fee was paid, said the sources, adding that there had been previous instances of the BJP holding such functions here.

BJP district party president Goldy confirmed that the meeting was organised. He claimed that the auditorium had been booked.

The Director, Health Services, Dr JP Singh, said he was not aware of any such meeting. “I can only comment after verifying facts tomorrow,” he added.



50 pc docs on winter break
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Nearly 50 per cent of doctors and faculty of Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, will be on winter break for a month from tomorrow, making the going tough for patients visiting the OPDs.

Though the hospital authorities claim that the work won’t suffer in any manner, one doesn’t need to be an expert to guess that the services in these hospitals will be hit adversely in some manner or the other, if 50 pc doctors are on leave.

Dr Vipin Kaushal, Medical Superintendent of the hospital, said since this is a yearly feature, doctors make their schedule accordingly. “Limited operation dates given during these days ensure that there is no overcrowding and patients don’t suffer,” he added. Dr Kaushal may be correct in a way but problems are bound to occur in already crowded OPD with 50 pc doctors on duty.

Out of 140 faculty members, only 70 will be on duty from December 13 to January 13 as 50 percent faculty will be on leave from December 13 to 27 and the second half will be on leave from January 13 to 28.

Incidentally, 50 pc PGI doctors are also on leave. Their one-month vacation has started from December 7. PGI’s official spokesperson Manju Wadwalkar said the work was going on as per schedule without any hindrance. However, insiders admit that work does suffer due to these vacations.

According to the public relations department of the PGI, almost 75-80 surgeries are conducted on normal days and they fall by 10 to 15 per cent during the vacations. But this is common in winters, said the spokesperson.



Man killed in car-tractor collision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
A 36-year-old man was killed after his Santro car collided with a speeding tractor at Industrial Area here last night. The victim, Naresh Kumar, a scrap dealer based in Mohali, succumbed to his injuries at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. The driver of the tractor fled the scene, leaving the tractor behind.

The mishap occurred around 10.30 pm when Naresh was returning home at Baltana village from Mohali, where he worked as a scrap dealer with his brother.

A speeding tractor (PB 27 A 5836) collided with his Santro car (CH 03 P 9052) head-on near the Makhan Majra turn. Naresh received grievous head injuries. The driver of the tractor fled the scene and a PCR van took the victim to the hospital, where he died.

A case under Sections 279, 337 and 304-A of the IPC has been registered.



Labourer crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
A 49-year-old labourer, working with Bhushan factory in Industrial Area here, died a gruesome death after a crane fell on him late this evening. Madan Lal, a resident of Hallomajra, was mutilated beyond recognition and was declared brought dead at Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32.

The accident occurred at 9.30 pm while Madan was lifting some material when the chain attached to the crane broke. The heavy machine fell on him and he suffered grievous injuries. He was found lying in a pool of blood.

The police has booked the contractor attached to the factory in a case of causing death due to negligence under Section 304-A of the IPC. The case was registered in the Industrial Area police station.

DSP (East) Jaswant Singh Khaira said preliminary investigations revealed that the machine broke due to the negligence of the contractor, resulting in the death of the labourer.


parwanoo-zirakpur stretch
Give details of plan to streamline traffic: HC to NHAI
Saurabh Malik

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The Punjab and Haryana High Court wants to know from the National Highway Authority of India and the Panchkula Superintendent of Police the details of proposals for applying brakes to the traffic menace on the Parwanoo-Zirakpur stretch.

The High Court has also asked the municipal committee of Pinjore and Kalka to furnish the necessary details.

The directions by Justice Rajive Bhalla come less than two months after Punjab and Haryana High Court’s former Judge Justice PK Palli brought to the High Court’s notice a news report on serious traffic disruption on the national highway.

Issuing the directions, Justice Bhalla asserted: “The respondents are directed to file a reply with respect to the serious congestion of traffic on the NH-22, particularly the stretch between Zirakpur and Parwanoo, giving all material particulars, including proposals with respect to the management of traffic, the cuts allowed in the medians and all other relevant particulars that may be necessary to ensure a free flow of traffic.”

Going into the background of the matter, Justice Bhalla asserted: “Mr Justice PK Palli (retd), addressed a letter to the Chief Justice on October 11 referring to a news report relating to serious disruption on the NH-22. The Chief Justice directed that the matter be treated as a public interest litigation and consequently the matter was placed before this Bench.

“On October 13, a notice was issued by the Director-General of Police, Haryana, the National Highway Authority of India, the Panchkula Superintendent of Police and the municipal committee of Pinjore and Kalka, through their executive officers/secretaries. But to date no reply is forthcoming.” Before parting with the order, Justice Bhalla also fixed December 16 as the next date of hearing in the case.

The High Court was only recently informed that the work on four laning the stretch between Zirakpur and Pinjore had been completed and stretch had been open to traffic. However, work on the Pinjore-Kalka-Parwanoo bypass was expected to be completed by December.

The court had also only recently made it clear that it wanted illegal structures on the Zirakpur-Parwanoo road removed within 15 days of issuance of notices. The Bench had asked the authority concerned to issue 15-day notice to the land owners and also to affix these at conspicuous places.

The directive

The respondents are directed to file a reply with respect to congestion of traffic on the NH-22, particularly the stretch between Zirakpur and Parwanoo, giving all material particulars, including proposals on the management of traffic, cuts allowed in medians and other relevant particulars that may be necessary to ensure free flow of traffic.”



Building Bylaws
Eo turns blind eye to violations
Town Hall, Additional Town Hall found violating norms, but no one takes action

Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
When it comes to violations of building bylaws, the UT estate office prefers to turn a blind eye to what is happening right under its nose. The Town Hall and Additional Town Hall buildings, where the office of Deputy Commissioner-cum-Estate Officer is located, have several violations, but no one is prepared to take any action.

In sheer violation of the zoning map of the Town Hall building, a private bank, its 24-hour ATM and a suvidha centre have been allowed to run in the front portion of the building, whereas the place has been marked for cabins.

Contrary to the specifications in the map, which allowed only four entry points in the front wall of the building, there are as many as six entry points, including the main entrance.

Right behind the office room of the Deputy Commissioner, a portion of the gallery has been covered to make it a room.

“Whatever is constructed or set up against the specifications of the map of any building certainly comes under the violations of building bylaws, so undoubtedly there are violations in the Town Hall,” said an official of the department on the condition of anonymity.

The story is not different in the extension part of the Town Hall building, which is known as Additional Town Hall and has important offices, including SDO (buildings), UT excise and taxation, UT science and technology and UT pollution board.

The map of the building marks separate parking area for cars and cycles in the basement of the building. But the entire basement has been covered by erecting concrete walls to convert the structure into several rooms for the use of office purposes. At each floor, galleries have been covered with glazing to convert them into rooms.

On rampant violations right under the nose of the authorities, Satpal Kansal, a local RTI activist, said, “It’s ironical that while sitting in the buildings full of violations, our officials check the violations of building bylaws and impose several lakhs of rupees on the violators in the entire city.”



Pre-poll Jolt for BJP
Two functionaries defect to Congress

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Two BJP functionaries shifted their loyalties to Congress candidate Mukesh Bassi  from ward No. 17 in the runup to the municipal corporation elections here today. At a media briefing, Bassi claimed that BJP secretary (district-I) Ravinder Kumar Vij and BJP mandal president Arun Bala Vij joined the Congress today.

Bassi claimed that the BJP leaders had assured him their support in the MC elections.

He said they were critical of the BJP for not being fair in the distribution of ticket for the MC elections.

Bassi said talks were on with more disgruntled functionaries of the BJP who were keen on leaving the party in the near future.

Taking to mediapersons, BJP rebel Ravinder Kumar Vij said he had left the party at this juncture as an unknown candidate had been fielded from ward No. 17, ignoring the suggestions made by him to the senior party leaders.

On allegations of biased role of the BJP, Vij said the party had this time claimed that the RSS would not play a role in the distribution of seats for the MC elections. However, the fact is that the decision on party ticket was taken at RSS leader Amit Sagar’s residence.

However, BJP local president Sanjay Tandon denied that BJP members had lent their support to the Congress.

He said the Congress was making such statements to mislead voters. The results of the elections would clear the air about the presence of rebels in the BJP.

Taking a serious note of rebels in the Congress, Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president BB Bahl said three more party men had been short-listed for expulsion and a final decision in this regard would be taken soon.

Meanwhile, four former office-bearers of the BJP and a BSP leader also joined the Congress today.

BJP leaders who have joined the Congress are Ghansham Das, Naresh Kumar Singla, Raghuvir Garg and Satnarayan Garg, while BSP general secretary Ajit Singh also joined the party.

They said the policies of the Congress had influenced them to join the party.

The rebels

BJP secretary (district-I) Ravinder Kumar Vij and mandal president Arun Bala Vij joined the Congress and assured support to party’s candidate from ward No. 17



Campaigning peaks as D-day closes in
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
With just a few days left for campaigning to end, the candidates contesting the civic elections are giving it all to garner support in a bid to win the elections. Harmohinder Singh Lucky, Congress candidate from ward No. 16, today undertook a door-to-door campaigning in Sector 33 A. While addressing a public meeting, Lucky said maintenance of roads, parking, streetlights and parks would be his priority.

BSP candidate Jannat Jahaan from ward No. 23, accelerating her election campaign, undertook a “pad yatra” in Industrial Area, Phases I and II, meeting factory workers.

She went round the factories, taking stock of the working conditions there and appealing them to vote for the BSP.

BJP candidate from ward No. 26 Des Raj Gupta also held “nukad” meetings with voters of his ward.

Gupta discussed the residents’ problems and sought their support in the elections.

Also, Raj Bala Malik continued her campaigning on Monday by conducting door-to-door canvassing in Sector 2. In the evening, Malik along with party workers and supporters attended a meeting with senior citizens of Sector 8. She focussed on the problems faced in the Sector-8 residential and market areas.

BJP candidate from ward No. 3, Arun Goyal also held a “pad yatra” in Police Colony, Sector 17, and appealed to people to vote for him.

Asha Jaswal, BJP candidate from ward No 4, addressed a corner meeting in Sector 24.

BJP state president Sanjay Tandon, former MP Satya Pal Jain and health minister of Himachal Pradesh Rajeev Bindal also addressed the meeting.

SAD candidate from ward No. 19 Raj Kishore held a “pad yatra” in tenement houses and Police Lines of Sector 26 and appealed to the residents to vote in his favour.



Manifestoes come out in slow-mo
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
With barely a few days left for the campaigning to end for the municipal corporation elections, slated for December 17, prominent political parties in the city have finally realised the need for pulling out their election manifestoes to woo the over five-lakh voters in the city.

While the Congress released its manifesto yesterday, the BJP will come out with its set of promises on Tuesday.

Waking up from the deep slumber, the parties have finally realised that the civic elections are contested on manifestoes. Although the candidates are almost through with their door-to-door canvassing, which has been on since December 2, they have surprisingly done it without any agenda.

A number of senior prominent party leaders and even candidates have been holding public rallies and “nukad” meetings with just one slogan “Vote and support me (or their candidate)” in the elections.

Even as they have been assuring voters of performing efficiently, almost all of them have failed to present before public the vision of their parties for the city.

Sahil Chauhan, a Sector-15 resident, says both prominent parties don’t have a vision for the city. Their agendas should have reached people when the canvassing started, he adds.

“The candidates and supporters have visited my house twice but the agenda was not discussed by any candidate. What’s the use of a manifesto that is not known to the voters,” he adds.

“I wonder if I will vote in the MC or Lok Sabha elections as the issues discussed by the parties in rallies are directly related to the Centre. The leaders want to charm the voters with tall promises, ignoring the local issues,” says Geetika, a resident of Sector 51.



Canvassing gets ‘pretty’ interesting
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
While seeing candidates do door-to-door campaigning is commonplace, the scene is “pretty” different in ward No. 26, for candidates have added glamour to their campaign by introducing beautiful faces to canvass for them and discuss the problems of voters in colonies.

Leaving no stone unturned, the candidates contesting the civic elections are going all out to draw the support of the electorate.

Arshad Khan, Congress candidate from ward No. 26, has roped in young girls to boost his campaigning in colonies.

A team of girls donning T-shirts and caps, bearing the Congress symbol, can be seen walking across the bumpy lanes of various colonies, making the voters understand why they should vote for their candidate.

The ward comprises Dhillon Complex, Motor Market, pocket No. 8, Darshani Bagh, Subhash Nagar, Adarsh Nagar, Pipliwala town, Gawala Colony, Indra Colony, old Indra colony, Race Course and IT Park.

One of the girls campaigning in the ward says she is a student and has temporarily joined the campaign for the Congress candidate.

These young faces are also being asked to carry out surveys across the ward and give a feedback on the problems faced by the residents.

Candidates have even hired PR agencies to strategise their campaigning and ensure adequate media coverage.

BJP candidate from ward No. 16 Rajesh Gupta, who has hired a PR firm, says the trend has changed now. Besides the conventional door-to-door campaigning, candidates have started focussing on promotion to reach out to the masses.

“Everything needs planning, elections too. We need to have a specialised team,” Gupta said.

A number of other candidates are relying on teams of professionals to plan their election strategy and media coverage in a bid to reach out to maximum number of voters.

Cheer leaders

A team of girls donning T-shirts and caps can be seen walking across the bumpy lanes of various colonies, making the voters understand why they should vote for their candidate



Jan aushadhi
Surgical items to help tide losses

Anuja Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Empty counter of the jan aushadhi centre at GMSH-16 in Chandigarh. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, December 12
In a desperate move to get jan aushadhi (generic stores) centres out of the red, the Bureau of Pharma, a public sector undertaking, is planning to “diversity” and introduce sale of surgical items to make some profits.

According to sources, it was revealed by advisor of Bureau of Pharma, PK Khanna, to officials of the UT Red Cross Society during a recent meeting. Sources said the mounting losses of jan aushadhi centres, which had accumulated to Rs 20.05 lakh in less than one year, were causing grave concern to the UT Administration.

Red Cross Society officials revealed that Khanna had assured them that sales would improve and the centres would become viable once surgical items like bandages, syringes, gloves, forcips, etc, were sold from there. Meanwhile, two jan aushadhi centres, one each at GMCH-32 and GMSH-16, had suffered losses to the tune of Rs 11.15 lakh in this fiscal (April to October 31).

The jan aushadhi store at GMSH-16, which opened in February this year, has recorded sales of merely Rs 1.36 lakh till October 31. In contrast, the administration has spent Rs 10.54 lakh, including salaries to staff, to run the store.

Similarly, the centre at GMCH-32 has also suffered losses with the total sales to the tune of Rs 12.82 lakh, which is far less than the expenses (Rs 23.69 lakh) from September 2010-October 2011.

“Sales cannot go up till the supply of drugs become regularised,” said Satish Joshi, joint secretary, UT Red Cross Society. Blaming short supply of drugs as the main reason behind the dismal sales, he said the bureau had failed to match the demand with production.



Hawara, Bheora produced in court amid tight security
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) terrorists Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora were produced in the district courts amid tight security in the jailbreak case today.

Following the attack on Hawara during the last hearing, the UT police had this time made elaborate security arrangements both inside and outside the courts complex.

The police took both the accused in a police Gypsy directly inside the court premises from the Sector-17 police station.

Meanwhile, DSP Jagbir Singh and Inspector Diwan Singh recorded their statements in the jailbreak case.

Hawara and Bheora were brought from Delhi’s Tihar Jail amidst tight security. The two have already been convicted in the Beant Singh assassination case. Bheora and Hawara were shifted from the Burail Jail in Chandigarh to Tihar Jail in New Delhi for the hearing in the 2004 bomb blasts case in New Delhi.

Hawara, and his associates Jagtar Singh Tara and Paramjit Singh, all three accused in the assassination of former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh, had escaped after digging a 104-foot-long tunnel in the Burail Jail in 2004. An undertrial, Devi Singh, had also escaped. While Hawara and Bheora were arrested, Devi Singh is still at large.

Five protesters held

The UT police arrested five persons under preventive measures for raising pro-Khalistan slogans as Hawara was being produced in the district courts today. Those arrested have been identified as Jaswant Singh, Kanwaljeet Singh, Mohinder Pal, Kuldeep Singh and Randev Singh Bedi of Fathegarh Sahib. The police said the five belonged to Simranjit Singh Maan’s SAD (Amritsar). Mohinder Pal was recently arrested for holding a protest during senior BJP leader LK Advani’s rath yatra at Patiala. The accused, carrying banners and posters of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala, raised slogans inside the courts complex.



UID project going on at snail’s pace
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The issuance of the Unique Identification (UID) cards is going on at a snail’s pace, as only around 3.38 lakh cards of the total 10.52 lakh registered people in the city, according to the 2011 Census, have been issued.

According to an official of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), on the condition of anonymity, the main reason for this was incomplete documents and details submitted by residents.

He said the details were being forwarded to their Bangalore-based office for compiling of data besides checking the duplication of cards.

According to sources, around 5.93 lakh residents have been enrolled for the project so far.

Nationalised banks, including State Bank of India, State Bank of Patiala, Central Bank of India, United Bank of India, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Indian Overseas Bank, were enrolling the residents in the city.

The sources added that the banks were being paid Rs 50 for a successful enrollment. In all, Rs 2.25 crore had been spent so far on the project. Out of the 3.38 lakh cards issued, the SBI had successfully enrolled 2.7 lakh residents, while Central Bank had enrolled 1.05 lakh persons.

The UIDAI has already generated data of over 70 million (seven crore) residents and issued over 50 lakh unique identity cards.

While its budget for the current year is Rs 1,660 crore, the entire project is estimated to cost Rs 17,864 crore. Nandan Nilekani heads the UIDAI and holds a cabinet minister’s rank.

The sources further said the project of enrolling the residents in the country would continue till March 31, 2011.

50 lakh IDs issued

The Unique Identification Authority of India has already generated data of over 70 million (seven crore) residents and issued over 50 lakh unique IDs



Tricity Scan
53 cattle impounded

At least 53 stray cattle were impounded during a special drive of the municipal corporation (MC), carried out last week to catch stray cattle. The drive was carried out at different places in Mani Majra, IT Park, Colony IV, Colony V, Ram Darbar, Sectors 47, 48 and 51, Kajheri, Sector 38-West, Dadu Majra, Dhanas and Sector 26.

Annual day

Ashiana Public School organised its annual day at Moti Ram Arya School auditorium, Sector 27, here on Monday.

Digitised manuscripts

The Panjab Digital Library (PDL) has added a new project in its kitty when it started digitising rare manuscripts available at Takht Sri Patna Sahib. The collection of Patna Sahib has 96 manuscripts along with innumerable rare books. PDL has already digitised over six million pages of the rare literature, out of which one million are online at www.PanjabDigitalLibrary.org.

‘Decrease mess charges’

The NSUI in a letter to the Panjab University Vice-Chancellor has sought decrease in the charges of meals in hostel mess. “We demand that the rate per meal in the mess should be reduced to Rs 20 and the rate at other food outlets of the university should also be reduced accordingly.”


Dr SV Rana, professor and chief of clinical biochemistry section of the department of gastroenterology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, has been admitted as the Fellow of the Association of Clinical Biochemists of India in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the advances in clinical biochemistry.

Mohali Scan

Rare surgery

Doctors at the Civil Hospital, Mohali, here on Monday successfully removed a 6-kg tumour from the abdomen of a 42-year-old patient, Manjit Kaur. She was suffering from a lump in the abdomen since five years but could not be operated earlier due to family reasons. The team comprised of Dr HMS Ghumman, Dr Parmjit Singh and Dr Deepak Berry.

— Tribune Reporters



Two Mansa Devi officials to be chargesheeted
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 12
The chief executive officer of Mata Mansa Devi Shrine Board, DP Dattana, has initiated action against its accountant Sukhdev and clerk Archana Syal as they have been indicted by the Haryana vigilance bureau for selling coins and ‘mangalsutras’ converted from jewellery offered at the shrine at a rate lower than the rate of gold in the market.

Dattana said he had started the procedure and both officials would be chargesheeted soon. Accounts officer Des Raj Arora, who was also found guilty by the bureau, had retired. The state finance department would take action against him, said sources.

The bureau had ordered the urban local bodies department to take administrative action against the three officials and seek an explanation from ex-officio members of the board as they were found guilty in an inquiry following a complaint by a resident of Chandigarh and a report by the Panchkula DC.

In December 2005 and the beginning of 2006, when the rate of gold was high, the board had sold gold coins and ‘mangalsutras’, with the idol embossed thereon, at a low rate, causing a loss of Rs 91,660 to the board, said the report.



Allottees protest against GMADA
Land not taken over despite HC verdict
Tribune News Service

Members of the Sectors 76 to 80 Sangarsh Committee protest in front of the GMADA office at Phase VIII in Mohali on Monday. Tribune Photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, December 12
Allottees of plots in Sectors 76 to 80 staged a dharna and raised slogans in front of the GMADA office here today.

They accused GMADA of not taking possession of 102 acres from farmers and handing over plots to the remaining allottees.

Sucha Singh Kalour, president of the Sectors 76 to 80 Sangharsh Committee, and Bhupinder Man Singh, its vice-president, said the entire land of the sectors under question was free of litigation.

They said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had dismissed the petition filed by farmers about eight months ago, but GMADA had failed to take possession of the land.

They further said some farmers had gone in appeal to the Supreme Court against the ruling, but it had not granted a stay so far.

The allottees also threatened to burn an effigy of GMADA on January 21 if they were not handed over the plots by then.



Mercury dips to season’s lowest
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
With the minimum temperature plummeting to this season’s lowest of 7.8 °C, chill has set in the tricity region, forcing people to take out their gadgets to make their houses warmer.

However, the region is yet to touch the minimum temperature of 5.7 °C witnessed on December 15 last year. The main reason for this has been attributed to the dry conditions and western disturbances. The winds were passing at higher latitude causing warming in the region.

The weatherman has predicted the minimum temperature to tumble down further in the next few days with fog and haze engulfing the area during early morning and evening hours in view of the heavy snowfall in various parts of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. However, the region will not see dense fog in the coming days.

Surinder Paul, director, Indian Meteorological Department Chandigarh, while predicting normal winter this year, as compared to last year, said there would be a gradual decline in the minimum temperature.

In view of the dry weather and western disturbances, the minimum temperature is likely to remain above normal, he added.

Meanwhile, the maximum temperature of 21.6 °C was recorded on Monday, while the minimum temperature was 7.8 °C on Sunday night, one degree above normal.



Armed preparatory institute to hold test on Jan 22
Tribune News Service

Mohali, December 12
Mohali-based Maharaja Ranjit Singh Armed Preparatory Institute, the first of its kind in the state to train youths for recruitment in the National Defence Academy (NDA), would conduct the entrance test on January 22 for the second batch of students.

While the first batch of 45 cadets, selected after a state-level test, has completed about 10 months of intensive training, said Maj Gen BS Grewal (retd), Director of the Institute here today.

Explaining the concept, the Director said, "The students, who are inducted after Class 10th, are lodged in the institute's hostel, but they are enrolled at Shemrock School to pursue their Class XI and XII. The institute is designed to train 96 boys at a time."

Beside basic physical training, the institute also prepares students for the NDA's entrance exam and Service Selection Boards. "The cost of training is highly subsidised", said Gen Grewal.



Army men not to pay toll in civvies

Chandigarh, December 12
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has withdrawn the letter issued to private toll operators in Punjab that defence personnel would not be exempted from paying toll tax if they are not in uniform.

The letter was withdrawn after a complaint was made to the NHAI Chairman that it was in utter contravention of the Indian Tolls (Army & Air Force) Act, 1901, and directions of the Union Government and the law laid down by the Supreme Court.

The letter, issued on November 24 and withdrawn this week, stated that the toll exemption to private vehicles of defence personnel would only be provided when the person would be in uniform.

Defence sources said that there was no such statutory requirement and the exemption was actually applicable to both on-duty and off-duty defence personnel whether in uniform or not. — TNS



Natwar wants Mulk Raj’s memorial at Khandala
Vandana Shukla/TNS

Chandigarh, December 12
A lot of unpublished material written by Mulk Raj Anand, one of the pioneers of Indo-Anglian literature, as it was known then, may become food for termite and insects, if care is not taken of his property in Khandala, said K Natwar Singh, former Union Minister and a friend of Mulk Raj Anand.

"Unposted letters, drafts of several unpublished books and articles are lying in neglect at the place, where he had built his cottage. The property is spreads over 4 to 5 acres of prime land," he said, while delivering a lecture on the 106th birth anniversary of Mulk Raj Anand, organised by the CRRID (Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development).

Singh asked influential people to intervene and requested the government of Maharashtra to build a memorial for Mulk Raj Anand on the said property. Reminiscing his association of 40 long years with the bohemian, restless, agnostic, novelist, art critic and intellectual, Singh said his multiplicity of identities never came into conflict - his Punjabiat, Hindustaniat and his Insaniat were in perfect harmony through whatever he pursued, and he pursued many things.



Huge rush, but in vain
With no DTO, office work going on at snail’s pace

Tribune News Service

Visitors await their turn at the office of DTO in Phase VI of Mohali. Tribune Photo: Vicky Gharu

Mohali, December 12
The office of the District Transport Officer (DTO) here has been witnessing a rush of visitors, seeking driver’s licences and vehicle registration documents.

The reason is there has not been a regular DTO for the past few days. As a result, the pendency in the department is up.

The Transport Commissioner has failed to appoint a regular DTO. Two officials have been given charge of DTO in the past few days.

But now, even they have been transferred to other departments. An official with the department has said the backlog will be cleared in the next two or three days.



Complaint against Bansal

Chandigarh, December 12
The Chandigarh Jan Manch president, Krishan Chander Ahuja, today filed a complaint with the Chief Election Commission against the Member of Parliament, Pawan Kumar Bansal, for threatening their candidates during canvassing. In his complaint, Ahuja alleged that on December 11, their party candidates from ward Nos. 1, 10 and 13 were restrained by the police from raising slogans in their wards. They even threatened to arrest the CJM volunteers. He further complained that election observers usually warned their candidates against putting up hoardings and banners, but both the Congress and the BJP candidates were allowed to do so in their respective wards. TNS



Earlier baby theft not her handiwork
Missing infant’s mother gives newborn-thief clean chit

Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 12
The district police has ruled out the role of Nisha, a resident of Sanaur, who allegedly stole a newborn from the General Hospital in Sector 6 here, in taking away a 10-month-old boy from the Mansa Devi temple.

Nisha was presented before Sarita, mother of the missing boy, who denied her role in the incident. The police arrested Nisha from her house at Sanaur on Saturday and restored the newborn to his parents.

After her arrest, the police traced her location, through the scrutiny of her mobile phone call details, to Panchkula on September 29.

This led to the suspicion that she was involved in the theft of babies. During interrogation, she told the police that she wanted to have a son, which made her to steal the newborn.

Anil and his wife Sarita of Pinjore visited the temple on September 29. They were standing in separate queues to pay obeisance to the deity.

Sarita handed over her son over to a couple as she had to go to drink water. On her return, she found that the couple had vanished with the baby.



Clothes worth lakhs gutted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
Clothes worth lakhs of rupees were gutted in a fire, which broke out in Sector 20 in wee hours this morning. A fire team reached the spot at 4.40 am when a passerby called the police control room (PCR).

Fire department officials said as fire tenders reached the spot on time, fire was doused in an hour. As per the fire department report, owners did not install any fire safety equipment due to which no alarm blower alerted watchman near the building. As per the report, three fire tenders were sent to the spot. An official said the cause of fire had yet to be found by the team.



Classical singers interact with special children
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, December 12
Young vocal classical virtuosos Ritesh Mishra and Rajneesh Mishra, sons of legendary Pt Rajan Mishra, interacted with students during a programme organised by the Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture among Youth (Spic-Macay) at Bhavan Vidyalaya, Panchkula, on Saturday.

Both Rajneesh and Ritesh Mishra explained and delineated the concept, structure of pracheen raga shudh sarang. Earlier, at the Institute for the Blind in Sector 26, the maestros held an interactive session with special children on Friday. They elucidated the nuances of raga yaman before its exposition through an alaap and a composition.



PU convocation
No gold medal this time, too
As guests lack time, students will be conferred degrees only

Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
The hard-pressed schedule of VIPs flying in for PU convocation will take the “shine” out of the success of scores of students who will have to go without a gold medal yet again on this convocation.

In what appears to be on its way to become the convocation ritual, PU will only hand out regular degrees even as toppers of over 80 PU departments will have to wait for another month or so to get their hard-earned medals, as the distinguished guests do not have enough time to confer the same along with the degree.

Though just like last year, PU has promised to hold a seperate function to give out the medals, it has left students fuming.

“The university has probably forgotten the definition of convocation, which is meant to recognise the spirit of students’ success and not appease VIPs. Last year also, same thing happened and the students had to wait for two months for a VIP to hand out the medals. It’s a mockery of their effors and the varsity’s essence. The students will have to come to campus again to get medals,” said Sukhjeet Brar, PUSU president.

While all attempts to contact PU Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti at his office and residence turned futile, a senior official said, “We should not blow the matter out of propotion. If we hand out medals with degrees then it will be more than six-hour long convocation.”

A similar situation rose on February 14 this year during the annual function, in which 471 students received degrees and even toppers were ironically not honoured with gold medals then.

At the time of convocation, the reason cited by the Vice-Chancellor for a separate function for the gold medal presentation was that chief guest Shivraj V Patil, Punjab Governor and UT Administrator, could not spare time from his busy schedule; so both medals and degrees could not be awarded at the same time.

VIPs bash

Convocation to PU means appeasing VIPs rather than awarding meritorious students who form the core of the varsity. While the authorities have gone out of their way to make dignitaries happy, a majority of toppers have still not received an invitation for the convocation. It’s high time that 40,000 students gain priority over a handful of VIPs

— Pushpinder Sharma, president, PU Student Council

Somnath Chatterjee to receive honour

Having missed the 60th annual function held on February 14 this year, where Somnath Chatterjee was to be conferred upon an honorary doctorate of law degree, the former Lok Sabha Speaker is expected to come down for this convocation and receive the honour.



Teachers’ strike
House exams postponed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 12
House examinations in seven non-government colleges of Chandigarh have been postponed due to the ongoing agitation of teachers and non-teaching staff.

The colleges would be rescheduling the examinations after the winter break that would end on January 2. The exams of over 170 PU affiliated colleges in Punjab will also be postponed due to the three-day strike starting from tomorrow till December 15.

The exams that were scheduled in next three days have been postponed. The students are thrown at the receiving end, as this is the second instance when the exams have been postponed due to the ongoing agitation. Earlier the exams scheduled on December 8 and 9 were postponed, however, it had led to confusion among the students who after reaching the college found that the exams have been postponed.

The demands of joint action committee (JAC) include lifting of ban on recruitments, implementation of pension and gratuity scheme approved by the state government in 2001, implementation of revised pay scales of non-teaching employees from January 1, 2006 and releasing arrears from 2006 bringing unaided staff in the ambit of security of Service Act, 1974.

The seven city colleges that are hit by the teachers’ strike include DAV College, Sector 10; MCM College, Sector 36; GGDSD College, Sector 32; Guru Gobind Singh College for Women, Sector 26; Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26; Dev Samaj College for Women, Sector 45, and Dev Samaj College of Education, Sector 36.

Jaspal Singh Randhawa, convener of JAC, said the staff and principal of all colleges would observe cease work for next 72 hours. “On the first day of the protest, a candlelight march will be observed, on the second day, protest rallies outside residences of ministers of Punjab will be held and the final day of the protest will observe a ‘rasta roko’ programme,” he said.



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