C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Guilt drives 26-yr-old youth to suicide
Had concocted robbery of Rs 8 lakh last year
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Twentysix-year-old Abir Malhotra, who concocted the story of having been robbed of Rs 8 lakh at gunpoint in November last year, committed suicide at his house in Sector 48 here this morning.

Abir was suffering from depression ever since the incident and committed suicide this morning between 6 am and 8 am. He hanged himself from the grill of the balcony with the collar of his dog.

According to the police, a suicide note was also recovered from the spot which read: “I am very sorry for what I have done. I am very ashamed about the incident.” Around 6 am, Abir’s father, Manmohan Malhotra, asked the victim to switch on the geyser and went to bed. At around 8 am when the family started looking for the dog’s collar, they saw Abir’s body. The police was informed soon after. Abir is survived by his elder brother, sister and parents.

According to neighbours, the victim used to remain aloof and hardly interact with anyone in the colony. “After the incident, he would come down only to walk his dog. He had no friends and the incident took him away from his family,” said a neighbour. The body of the victim was taken to the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32. The postmortem will be performed after his sister arrives from Bengaluru tomorrow. Last year, Abir had claimed that he was robbed of Rs 8 lakh at gunpoint. The incident had rocked the city. Later it was found that the story had been cooked up by Abir, who had invested the money belonging to his sister in Speak Asia and had purchased a car. The money belonged to her and the locker was jointly operated by him and his sister.



Reason for student’s death still not clear
Deepankar Sharda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Mystery continues to baffle the family of Manav Garg, an engineering student, whose body was found in Sector 48 here yesterday.

His family members are alleging foul play, but the police suspects that he fell into a muddy trench and was under the influence of psychotropic capsules.

The DSP, BS Negi, said during interrogation, Vicky (victim’s friend) revealed that he along with Manav went to Phase IX, Mohali, to buy some psychotropic capsules and on their way back, they stopped at the Sector 43 bus stand to buy a soft drink.

“After they reached Sector 43 at around 1 am, Manav went to buy a soft drink and chips, but returned saying that the shopkeeper was charging more than the MRP and that he had an argument with him. They both went to the shop again and entered into a heated argument. They attacked the shopkeeper’s helper with a stone,” the DSP said.

“The helper raised the alarm and before the police reached the spot, Manav managed to flee, but Vicky was taken into custody as his leg was injured. After questioning, he was let off at around 2.30 am,” he said. Manav covered a distance of about 4 km before falling into the trench. According to preliminary postmortem reports, the victim died due to excess muddy water in his lungs and stomach. No injury marks have been found except a scar above an eyebrow. Officials said the viscera reports would make it more clear.

“We did not know Manav was taking capsules. Vicky had been suspended from the university in the first year. We always advised Manav not to keep bad company,” said a relative of the victim.



Audit report indicts institute for physically challenged
Expended Rs 1.15 crore on hiring contractual staff
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Flouting rules, the local Regional Institute for Mentally Handicapped Department has expended about Rs 1.15 crores on the contractual staff, which was engaged by it ‘irregularly’ during 2009-11.

The ‘irregularity’ was pointed out in the latest audit and inspection report of the department for the period 2009-11.

‘The engagement of the staff and subsequently payment of Rs 1, 14,79,530 had been made without obtaining the sanction of the Government of India (GOI)’, stated the report.

Notably, the Ministry of Home Affairs in concurrence with the Ministry of Finance had communicated to the Advisor, Chandigarh Administration, not to delegate powers for creation of posts to the UT administration and filling of direct recruitment vacancies. It said the department of personnel and training would regulate the process. As per the instruction, one-third of the direct recruitment vacancies occurring in a year are permitted to be filled up on the basis of approval of screening committee subject to the condition that total vacancies to be filled up should not be more than one per cent of the sanctioned strength of the department concerned.

The audit report pointed out that filling up of the posts by the department was beyond the sanctioned strength and without any approval from the GOI.

While in its reply, the department had stated that as per the instructions by the Finance Department, Chandigarh Administration, the head of department was permitted to engage the posts, which had been outsourced through service provider. The audit report raised objections for not obtaining the required sanction from the Centre.

The final reply from the department is yet awaited, stated the report.



Thieves strike at factory for 3rd time
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Thieves struck at a brass factory in the Industrial Area of Ramdarbar for the third time here yesterday. Earlier, the thieves had broken open the lock of the factory on January 22 and later on January 31.

The factory owners had handed over three culprits to the police for their alleged involvement in the theft on February 1. The suspects are still in custody.

“We have given a written complaint to the police station as well as senior police officials, but thieves continue to strike our factory again and again. There is no police security in the area. The thieves had broken all the CCTV cameras and the locks. “We have done our best to stop the thefts, but have failed,” said Abhishek Gupta, owner of the factory.

The thieves had fled with 200 kg of brass the first time around and 100 kg of brass, including Rs 2,000, during the second attempt.

“Yesterday, they again took around 200 kg of brass and damaged all the cameras. They also stole some equipment. We are worried and want the culprits

behind bars. Every time, the police assures of some action, but it has failed to recover the stolen material from the arrested persons,” he said.

According to police officials of Sector 31, an FIR has been registered. “They handed over three persons to us early this month and the accused have confessed to the crime. We will investigate the matter again and arrest the thieves,” the investigating officer said.



UT Admn set to revise heritage inventory
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The UT Administration has gone into a mode of revising its inventory for the heritage property being prepared by a special team after taking note of divergent views on identifying as to what comprised city heritage.

Questions are being raised about the manner in which the list of inventory, which had started following a communication from the Centre last year, was compiled. BN Goswamy, a leading art historian recently wrote in a national daily: “Assuming that such an inventory (including chairs, tables and other furniture), on which an army of officials seems to be working, can be made, what will one do with all these items? Create a museum for them and display them, row upon row of chairs, stack upon stack of tables, in whatever state they are: broken, dilapidated, abraded, seatless? Shown as our heritage? Or is the plan eventually to sell these ‘heritage items’ through a sarkari agency? And what about objects of that elevated category that are in private use?”

Talking to The Tribune on “questionable” items being sold as heritage property, KK Sharma, UT Adviser to the Administrator, said: “Goswamy’s reaction is very valid, particularly with regard to identifying city heritage. All chairs and other furniture could not be prized history. The reaction will be taken into account before we finalise our report.”

Experts have come out openly questioning the hullabaloo over the so-called heritage property being auctioned by big auction houses in Paris and London, in particular. It is being argued that, the team of original creators, including Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Albert Mayer, could not have designed the long list of chairs and furniture when they were executing the master plan of the unique city.

Neelam Mann Singh, a Padma Bhushan awardee, said: “Too much of effort is being wasted on talking about the furniture instead of the city heritage in its buildings and layout plans. The administration should be concentrating more on maintaining the heritage of the structures. Recently, I was moved to hear about the management changing the fresco of Mansa Devi Temple. History would have drowned.”

She made a special mention about the structures on the Panjab University campus, Panjab and Haryana High Court and the secretariat buildings, besides certain others.

Goswamy had written: “ I can understand that the pen with which Jawaharlal Nehru signed his famous freedom speech had value, but that did not make the entire production of Parker pens a heritage item. The pair of spectacles that Gandhiji wore, or the charkha which he used to ply, are appropriately preserved in the Gandhi Ashram at Ahmedabad as heritage items, part of almost sacred memorabilia, but all spectacles of the same design or vintage, all charkhas made at the same time, do not occupy that status.”

A retired professor, RS Grewal, said: “I had visited France last May and was asked by many if I could arrange for heritage property for their collection. I was very amused and said all the chairs in old colleges and university would comprise heritage property as was being portrayed in the auctions. I saw the pictures of the so-called heritage property on the website of the auction houses and was amused to see that we had spent our life in the middle of those chairs. I am not sure if the entire furniture was heritage.”



Love blooms as cupid strikes
Tribune News Service

Girls buying balloons at Sector 10 in Chandigarh
Girls buying balloons at Sector 10 in Chandigarh. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, February 12
Love it or hate it, but you cannot ignore it. With beautiful roses, cute teddies, delicious chocolates, and lovebirds thronging markets, parks, campus’, and our evening tea gossips, the city is all set to celebrate Valentine’s day on February 14.

To soak in the spirit of the day you needn’t necessarily be madly in love with someone. One just has to believe in the festival to celebrate it. Unfortunately, while there is no dearth of advice on celebrations, gifts etc, still a majority continues to be unclear about the day. Valentine’s Day is just a day away, and if you are still struggling with the what, when, how, where, whom, read on to find more.

The legend

Falling on February 14, Valentine’s Day is a festival that cherishes love and romance, and is celebrated in several countries across the world. The festival commemorates the martyrdom of a Christian saint called St Valentine. Valentine or Valentinus lived in Rome when the country was under the reign of emperor Claudius II. It is said that Claudius engaged Rome in several unpopular and bloody campaigns. To maintain a strong army, he continuously needed to recruit soldiers. But to his disappointment Claudius found that most men were unwilling to join army because of their strong attachment with their wives and families. To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. A romantic at heart, priest Valentine secretly arranged marriages of young boys and girls, in defiance of this unjustified order of Claudius. When the emperor discovered this, he put Valentine behind bars and executed him on February 14, (AD 270). The romantic festival of Valentine's Day is said to have originated in pagan times in Rome when people celebrated annual fertility festival called Feast of Lupercalia in mid-February.

Fun facts

  • About 2 billion Valentine's Day cards are exchanged in the world every year. That's the largest seasonal card-sending occasion of the year, next to Christmas.
  • Women purchase 85% of all valentine gifts.
  • Parents receive one out of every five valentines.
  • About 3% of pet owners will give Valentine's Day gifts to their pets.
  • Worldwide, over 50 million roses are given for Valentine's Day every year.
  • 73% of people who buy flowers for Valentine's Day are men, while only 27 percent are women.


  • If a person repeats names of five or six individuals he/she believes to be suitable for marriage while twisting the stem of an apple, it is believed his/her spouse will be the one whose name was being recited at the moment the stem broke.
  • It is said that the kind of bird a girl watches on Valentine's Day predicts her future husband. For instance: Sparrow: A poor man Owl: Remain spinster Bluebird: A happy man Blackbird: A priest or clergyman Crossbill: An argumentative man
  • If an apple is cut in half, the number of seeds found inside the fruit will indicate the number of children that individual will have.
  • To be awoken by a kiss on Valentine's Day is considered lucky.
  • y On Valentine's Day, the first guy's name you read in the paper or hear on the TV/radio will be the name of the man you will marry.
  • If you see a squirrel on Valentine's Day, you will marry a cheapskate who will hoard all your money.
  • If you see a goldfinch on Valentine's Day, you will marry a millionaire.
  • If you see a robin on Valentine's Day, you will marry a crime fighter.
  • If you see a flock of doves on Valentine's Day, you will have a happy, peaceful marriage.
  • If you find a glove on the road on Valentine's Day, your future beloved will have the other missing glove

The Red Rose
A florist prepares for Valentine’s Day in Chandigarh
A florist prepares for Valentine’s Day in Chandigarh. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

According to popular legends, the red rose is considered to be the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman mythological goddess of love and beauty. Hence it came to be associated with love and romance. A single perfect red rose, clubbed with baby's breath flower, is the most sought after flower on Valentine's Day. Historians believe that the tradition of giving rose on Valentine's Day became popular in the 1700s when Charles II of Sweden introduced the custom in Europe.

Meaning of different colors of roses Roses of different colours symbolise different emotions and feelings. One therefore needs to be careful while presenting a rose to a loved one. Red Roses - Love and passion White Roses - True love, purity of the mind and reverence Yellow Roses - Friendship, celebration and joy Pink Roses - Friendship, sweetheart, and admiration Peach Roses - Desire and excitement, or appreciation Lilac Roses - Love at first sight and enchantment Coral Roses - Desire Orange Roses - Enthusiasm and desire Black Roses - Farewell or ‘It's Over’ Bouquet of Red and Yellow Roses: Happiness and celebrations Bouquet of Red and White Roses: Bonding and harmony Bouquet of Yellow and Orange Roses: Passion

Valentines Day for Singles

It’s quite natural to conclude that Valentine's Day does not mean much for those who are single or without a date. The hype surrounding the festival leaves most depressed. This is because they feel that the day reminds them of their unattached status and not having someone to spend the day with. The day has also therefore come to be regarded as ‘Singles Awareness Day’.

  • Leave the notions behind and celebrate this day to acknowledge you love for your family, or even your self.
  • Pamper yourself by buying valentine day gifts, say a dress you have been planning to buy. Indulge in a spa or ‘head to toe’ beauty treatment. Catch up with your favorite book or movie.
  • Plan out a dinner or movie with your close friends or throw a party only for singles.
  • Spend time with those in need.

Valentine Gifts

Its just a day left and if you are still to decide on the perfect gift to symbolise your love, you should better get going. While a big bouquet of red roses with some yummy chocolates and teddy remains a tried and tested combo, you can get innovative too. Try these out:

Heart-shaped gifts: Nothing works better then a gift shaped like heart - be it a bouquet, chocolates, cakes or even that cuddly cushion. A heart-shaped bouquet of 21 flowersis bound to leave your valentine mesmerised.

Personalised Gifts: They have been in trend for some time now and are in vogue. Get a teddy, cushion, tile, and even playcards with that mush picture of yours.

Experience: Its probably the most inexpensive and touching way to say you care. Shun the usual dinner date or diamond-pendant gifts. Take your valentine on that long waited bike ride, cook his or her favorite dish, or even stay home to enjoy your favourite romantic movie. You can even wake your valentine up on the midnight of February 13 and savour instant noodles with candle light on your kitchen table or roof.

Tips to Know if He Loves You

  • When he takes interests in your matters, like work schedule, it means he is really concerned with you and loves you.
  • Whenever a guy keeps a track of your habits, remembers whatever you do and say. It simply indicates his love for you.
  • When a guy wants to spend more time with you, or goes out on dates with you at places of your choice, or shares your favourite pastimes, he is madly in love with you.
  • When he calls you or messages you just to chitchat with you, it means he deeply loves you and was finding any reason to talk to you.
  • When he keeps looking you when you are around and suddenly takes off his eyes when you look at him, it shows he's in love with you.
  • When he praises about you to his friends, family and others means he truly loves you.

Tips to Know if She Loves You

Given below are some ways to know if she likes you and want to carry on a long-term relation with you:

  • If she cares for you and always take interest in your activities, she truly loves you.
  • If you come to know from her family and friends that she often brags about you, it shows her love for you.
  • If a girl tries to get closer to you by touching your hands, shoulders or face, it means she likes you.
  • If she keeps staring you when the conversation is on, it depicts that she likes you and wants to say something she is shy of.
  • When a girl blushes when you talk and keep praising you in front of your friends, she loves you.

Saying I love You

It is often said 'Better late than never'. Follow this on Valentines day, tell someone that you love them before it is too late. The first thing is to be sure if you really love the person. Choose the correct time and place for the proposal. This helps in setting the mood for the occasion and might tilt the answer in your favour. The best way to do it is to be as forthright as possible. Say it with flowers, gifts or chocolates, or even through a letter to add charm to the occasion. Personalised gifts are the best choice when it comes to making this day last in your memories forever. Lastly, be prepared to hear a no and accept it.


UT makes alternative arrangements
Strike to continue; SPIC, DIT staff to run Sampark centres today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Despite the fact that employees of local Sampark and Gram Sampark centres have decided to continue their strike, the UT Administration is determined to open these centres tomorrow at any cost.

“We have made alternative arrangements for the purpose. The staff of Society for Promotion of IT in Chandigarh (SPIC) and DIT will be asked to run these centres,” Yogesh Kumar, director, Information Technology, Chandigarh, said.

Though not all, but those centres where the number of transactions is high and located in highly populated areas, will surely be opened, added Yogesh Kumar.

On the other hand, the employees, who had gone on strike on Friday, maintained that the strike would continue but peacefully.

“We are not going to break any rule and our protest will be peaceful,” asserted Pardeep Kumar Dutt, president of Sampark Centres Employee Union. He further said if they (the UT Administration) would open the centres, the union would not interrupt the proceedings.

Dutt added that the employees would also go to meet the authorities tomorrow to discuss the issue.

Since all the sampark centres have been closed for the last three days, the common man continued to suffer.

“I had gone to the Sampark Centre on Friday at Sector 23 to submit my electricity bill but returned without getting my work done due to the strike. Tomorrow I have to go again there,” said Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Sector 24.

Similarly, Sumit, a BTech student, is waiting for the centres to open, as he has to renew his CTU bus pass from there.

These centres provide all type of services to the customers, which mainly include payment of electricity /water bills, submission of VAT taxes, issue of bus passes, senior citizen/disability cards and acceptance of RTI applications. Last year, the turnover of these centres was about Rs 1,200 crores which had catered to around 25 lakh transactions.



Passengers hassled as Kingfisher cancels flight to Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Passengers at the local airport had a harrowing time as the officials of Kingfisher Airlines announced the cancellation of the flight to Delhi. Watch out hours was stated to be the main reason for the cancellation. This is not the first time that the flight has been cancelled by the said airlines.

One of the passengers, Rishi Raj, said that he had arrived at the airport at 3.25 pm to board the flight to Delhi. He said the airlines officials had failed to inform them about the delay in the arrival of the flight and had even issued them boarding passes.

The flight arrives at the city airport from Delhi at 6.30 pm and the same aircraft returns to Delhi at 6.55 pm. However, the flight from Delhi failed to come and thus the flight from city to Delhi too had to be cancelled by the airlines.

The airlines officials said the flight had to be cancelled as the same arrived late at the Delhi airport from Mumbai. He said as they had surpassed the watch out hours, which were from 8 am to 8 pm, the flight could not take off from Delhi to the city. He said that they had arranged taxis so that the passengers could reach Delhi without any hassles.

According to information, as the airlines is short of aircraft, it faces such problems. “If the airline has an adequate number of aircraft, it will not have to wait for the flight from Delhi. There is no point that the airline blames the watch out hours as it can use other aircraft for the flight”, said a senior official from the administrative set up.



11 car engines recovered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The local police today carried out a search operation in Kabari Market of Burail, Sector 45, to search stolen vehicles and their parts, here.

During the search a total of 11 engines (diesel and petrol) of different cars have been recovered from the possession of owner of Bajrang Motors after he failed to produce the documents of the above mentioned recovery material.

The police has taken the engines in possession under Section 102 CrPc as they were suspected to be stolen property. A case has been registered against Sanjay , owner of Bajrang Motors.



Prices of veggies head north
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
With the rise in mercury, the prices of many green vegetables have registered a sharp increase in the last couple of days.

While the price of cauliflower has doubled to Rs 20 in the retail market, brinjal and capsicum is being sold for Rs 40 a kg. The retail prices in Sector 26 vegetable market are as follows:



Six writers honoured
SD Sharma

Chandigarh, February 12
More than 12 acclaimed literary personalities of national eminence participated in the three-day “Annual Festival of Letters- 2012” that concluded at Panjab University English auditorium today. The event was organised by the Chandigarh Sahitya Aakdemi. The chief guest, KK Sharma, IAS Adviser to the Administrator, lauded the efforts of the CSA chairperson, Manju Jaidka, and secretary Madhav Kaushik for enriching the cultural soul of the City Beautiful.

Annual awards of recognition were given to six senior writers, including OP Sondhi, Shashi Prabha, Manjit Indira, Dev Bhardwaj, HK Lal, and Nirupama Dutt. The award carries a citation and a cash prize of Rs 11,000. CSA chairperson Manju Jaidka said the akademi had held a number of creative writing competitions throughout the year for schoolchildren, college and university students. Altogether 50 prizes were given and twenty certificates of appreciation to volunteers.



Army to set up food lab in Chandigarh
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
To check quality of food being supplied to formations based in Ladakh, the Army has decided to set up Composite Food Laboratory (CFL) in Chandigarh.

The Army's supply chain management as well as the quality of rations being given to troops had, in the recent past, come under sharp criticism from Parliamentary standing committees and the Comptroller and Auditor General. This had prompted the Army Headquarters (AHQ) to propose several measures to revamp the existing set-up.

The CFLs, which are located at various places in the country, are responsible for quality control of the contracted items. Working under the AHQ and forming part of the Army Service Corps (ASC), these labs, after inspection and acceptance of the tendered commodities, also supervise dispatch of goods to different supply depots. The Ministry of Defence makes payments for the supplies after verification of vouchers by the officers commanding the CFLs.

While the proposed CFL here would exclusively cater to supplies for Leh-based 14 Corps and its units, some Food Inspection Units located at different places are being upgraded to the level of CFLs.

In view of the peculiarities of service conditions, terrain as well as security concerns, the Army routes the quality testing of rations through laboratories within the military establishment. Keeping quality control and the need to have a pro-active stock management, the Army felt it was essential for quality control units to provide real-time advice to technical functionaries at all levels based upon the assessment of storage and stock conditions.

The Quarter Master General's branch at the AHQ recommended that such units be revamped and located within a turnaround time of about 48 hours from all locations within their areas of responsibility.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence has granted "in principal" approval for nominating officers from the Army Supply Corps (ASC) to attend professional supply chain management courses in civilian institutes on regular basis.



Justice Palli passes away

Chandigarh, February 12
Even in death, he sets an example. Known for his integrity, Justice Prem Krishnan Palli donated his body to the PGI. A former Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, he passed away this afternoon.

Justice Palli was a Judge in the High Court here from February 14 to 28 in 1994.

Born on October 26, 1936, he was enrolled as a pleader in 1961 and was designated senior advocate on January 29, 1987. He practised at Patiala District Court from 1961 to 1970 and after that in the High Court here.

Transferred to Rajasthan High Court from March 1, 1994, he was appointed the permanent Judge of the High Court from March 10, 1995. He was then transferred to Himachal Pradesh High Court on April 2, 1996, and retired on October 26, 1998. — TNS



Bright sunshine greets city residents
Day temperature rose by 6°C in tricity region
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Bright sunshine brought some relief to residents from the cold-wave conditions persisting for the past one week as the day temperature rose considerably by around six degrees Celsius in the tricity region here today.

The maximum temperature was recorded at 25.2 degrees Celsius on Sunday, two degrees above normal while the minimum temperature was recorded at seven degrees Celsius, one degree below normal. The maximum relative humidity was recorded at 94 per cent while the minimum was recorded at 22 per cent.

The weather office has predicted sky to be partly cloudy with the possibility of thundery development resulting in decline in the day temperatures by about four notches on Monday. However, the night temperature is likely to increase by one degree to eight degrees Celsius on Tuesday. Mist or haze could occur during morning and evening.

Meanwhile cold-wave conditions have also abated in the neighboring Punjab and Haryana. Rainfall occurred at isolated places and the night temperatures rose markedly and were normal. The lowest minimum temperature was 5.5°C recorded at Amritsar in Punjab while in Haryana it was 4.3°C recorded at Narnaul.

The Met department has predicted partly cloudy sky with possibility of thundery development has also been predicted at isolated places. However, there will be decline in the rainfall activity during the subsequent two days, the met officials said.



Political scene hots up for FOSWAC elections in April
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Political scene in the Federation of Sector Welfare Association Chandigarh (FOSWAC) is getting hotter with the FOSWAC elections set to be held in April.

The lobbying in the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) has already begun for three seats on which elections will be held. March 15 has been finalised as the last date for the RWA voters to get themselves registered.

Around 59 RWA’s are member of the FOSWAC representatives which would cast their votes for electing the chairman, vice-chairman and general secretary. Sources said with only one meeting left before the elections, those RWA members willing to contest the elections had already started approaching the other RWA representatives to secure their votes.

“Each RWA that has more than 100 members will have three representatives who will have the voting right and with addition of 100 more members the RWA will get one more voting right”, said a RWA member.

The elections are held after every two years and during the last election the officer-bearers were elected unanimously.

The sources said that the FOSWAC elections could spell trouble for the current chairman PC Sanghi.For contesting the elections for the post, the name of the candidate needs to be suggested by the RWA of the sector, however, Sanghi’s name had not been suggested by the RWA of Sector 21. The issue was also raised by one of the RWA members in the last FOSWAC meeting held on February 5 when former councillor AP Sanwaria raised questions over Sanghi’s authorisation in the RWA.

An executive member of FOSWAC said that there would be around 400 voters this time and there would be tough competition among candidates. FOSWAC is an organisation that takes the problems and issues of all the RWAs with the UT administration and Municipal Corporation.

Lobbying begins

The lobbying in the Resident Welfare Association (RWA) has already begun for three seats on which elections will be held. March 15 has been finalised as the last date for the RWA voters to get themselves registered.



Open house response
‘Private schools have commercialised education’

Private schools have commercialised education and parents often have to face harassment while seeking admission for their children to various schools. The reservations, be it in government schools or private ones, are detrimental to humanity as they create caste divisions in society. If necessary, schools can create other categories but leave the general category untouched. The sub-quotas within the general category are unjustified and unwarranted. The authorities should look into the matter immediately and sort out the problem. The administration must chastise the erring private schools. The children should not be deprived of their right to education, come what may. Let’s not lay the foundation of differences through educational institutions which are meant for broadening our mental horizons. Also, the education board should stop affiliating the schools randomly for the sake of money, instead they should stress on the quality of education.

— Vineet Kapoor, Panchkula

Schools should create additional seats

The RTE Act, 2009, is a fine idea to impart education to each and every child of society. Only education can transform the life of a child and make him /her achieve the desired goals in his/ her life. But people belonging to economically weaker sections, in majority, consider their children as earning hands. The Act will fail to serve its purpose if parents do not change their mindset and send their children to schools. The government might have to think of employing stricter means. The NGOs should also educate parents about the Act. If out of the 3,000 seats, only 700 have been filled, the viable solution is to convert these 2,300 odd seats into general category. Private schools should try to create some additional seats in their respective schools as they have the required infrastructure and even quality teachers. The idea of giving reservation to siblings studying in the same school, wards of the school alumni and wards of school employees, over and above the fixed number of seats, hold ground because of many different reasons, including viability and convenience besides several others.

— Surjit Singh, Sector 22, Chandigarh

Authorities should rethink decision

The recent chaos at St Kabir School has left parents worried. Various sub-quotas under the general category are quite justified. The seats for siblings are important as it is the preference of every parent to get their second child admitted to the same school. There is nothing wrong with the reservation, but keeping such a large number of seats under reservation is objectionable. The school authorities should decrease the number of seats reserved under different categories. Also, with the RTE reservation from this year, the seats are limited and the number of general category seats has gone down further. About 25 per cent seats have to be reserved under EWS quota, which is a considerable number. The administration should reconsider its decision and decrease the number of seats reserved under EWS quota in order to avoid chaos.

— Dr Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh

Education policy must be reformed

Ever since the ‘Right To Education Act’ came into force, it has been creating problems for parents in getting their wards admitted to nursery classes, particularly in private schools in the city. A total of 60 per cent seats are already reserved leaving just 40 per cent seats open for others. As a result, the deserving ones are left out and they have to seek admission elsewhere. This is a totally unjustified scenario, particularly for the general category students. This sort of arrangement has certainly made parents running from one school to another to get their wards admitted to "good" schools. Government schools are the last option left with the parents as people prefer private or public schools where some quality education is guaranteed. Government schools lack quality education.

Moreover, nursery education has become too costlier these days. A minimum of Rs 3,000 per month is charged as tuition fee for nursery classes. This adds to the problems of parents who are already facing the brunt of rising prices of all commodities. To cope with this ugly situation the government needs to open more schools where quality education is imparted. Where good, hard working and intelligent teachers are recruited. Then people will prefer government schools. The education policy must be reformed and tougher standards of teachings should be introduced. Otherwise, a majority of intelligent students will be denied education.

— RK Kapoor, Chandigarh

Govt should raise education standards

The rush for nursery admission, particularly in private schools, shows the impact of lesser seats in context of burgeoning population and the change in the psyche of general public even financially backward in getting their wards admitted to the best schools. Private schools were not everybody’s choice, earlier. These days, a sizable number of families from low income groups, too, send their wards to good schools. The reservation has made them dream big. At the same time, the rush has no answer till the time there is an improvement in the overall education scenario of the country. With an increased awareness, even the poor want good education. The government is bothered about education for all so it has introduced a reservation in the name of RTE.

The subject is very complex. The government needs to set an example by improving the education system.

— Col (retd) Iqbal Singh, Chandigarh



Consumer courts preferred over Insurance ombudsman
Sanjay Bumbroo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The institution of Insurance Ombudsman seems to have lost out to consumer courts when it comes to redress of insurance-related matters, at least in the northern region.

In spite of the existence of a special redress mechanism in the city itself, in the form of Insurance Ombudsman, aggrieved persons continue to approach the UT consumer forums in large numbers for relief in insurance cases.

In pursuance of Redressal of Public Grievances Rules, 1998 (RPG Rules), formulated by the Government of India under the Insurance Act, 1938, which provide for a mechanism for resolution of complaints relating to the settlement of claims on the part of insurance companies in a “cost-effective, efficient and impartial manner”. An Ombudsman is appointed from amongst persons having relevant experience or exposure to industry, civil, administrative or judicial services.

The Insurance Ombudsman in the city looks after the complaints relating to Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh. In spite of covering such a vast territory, the local ombudsman had received only about 190 complaints during the past financial year, whereas the local consumer courts had received as many as 367 complaints against insurance companies relating to the Chandigarh area alone. Another major reason for the failure of the institution of Ombudsman is it being a ad hoc post. The post of the Ombudsman of the Chandigarh circle has been lying vacant since 2009-end and the Delhi incumbent is officiating, leading to almost nil hearings taking place.

The reasons are obvious. “The Insurance Ombudsman is not empowered with any coercive powers to get the orders implemented, whereas the consumer fora can imprison and fine the delinquent official for disobedience of its orders,” explains PD Goel, president of the District Forum-I, UT Chandigarh.

“Consumer courts exist in every district locally and are therefore easily accessible to consumers whereas there is only one Ombudsman office for Panjab, Haryana, Himachal, J and K and UT Chandigarh,” points out Pankaj Chandgothia, advocate and president of the Consumer Courts Bar Association.

As the the Ombudsman is seen as a representative of insurance companies rather than a court, people do not have faith in the said system. “Even to get the Ombudsman’s orders implemented, the person has to knock at the doors of a consumer court, then why not come here direct,” says Chandgothia.



18 poor girls tie the knot
Tribune News Service

The newlywed couples at Sector 7 in Panchkula on Sunday
The newlywed couples at Sector 7 in Panchkula on Sunday. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal

Panchkula, February 12
Eighteen poor girls tied the nuptial knot at a mass marriage function organised by Maharaja Aggarsain Welfare Trust here today. They were given household items worth Rs 30,000 as gifts. Ambala Divisional Commissioner Ambala was the chief guest.

President of the trust Balkrishan Garg said this was the fifth mass marriage function organised by the trust. A community kitchen was also organised. Press secretary Tarsem Garg said the couples took the pledge to eradicate female foeticide.



Over 50 per cent budget unspent
Deepankar Sharda
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
The tall claims of the UT sports department of providing best infrastructure have fallen flat as the department failed to even spend 50% of its budget estimated.

According to sources, the department has spent a total amount of about 7 crore to uplift the infrastructure of sports in the city, but in reality the conditions of city-based stadiums remains the same.

“I do not know about the upcoming or pending projects, but the expenditure must include the amount used for purchasing kits and organising tournaments. The sports association was also provided with equipments,” said Rahul Gupta, the then Director Sports.

As per sources, the sports council had kept a sum of Rs 2 crore for purchases, but most of the amount was used on games like cricket and tennis.

The authorities turned a blind eye to the proposals of upgrading the football and athletics stadiums that was approved four years ago, whereas the construction work at CLTA tennis complex is on full swing.

Earlier it was also reported that the UT finance department had sanctioned a grant of Rs 1 crore for upgrading stadiums, but the departments concerned are yet to receive the amount.



Insurance company directed to compensate complainant
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 12
Coming down heavily on HDFC Standard Life Insurance Co Ltd, the Mohali District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the former to pay interest at a rate of 9 per cent per annum for a period of three years on the amount of Rs 10 lakh deposited by a consumer for an insurance policy.

Holding the company responsible for deficiency in service, the forum comprising BS Mehandiratta, president, Dr SS Dhaliwal, and HK Ghuman, both members, directed the company to pay Rs 5,000 as litigation costs.

Charanjit Kaur, a resident of Alvaan village, Rajpura, complained that she took an insurance policy No 11363428 on October 30, 2007, by depositing one time premium of Rs 10 lakh. The officials of the insurance company represented that it was a single pay policy. The policy documents were never sent to her despite visits to Ropar and Mohali offices of the company a number of times. After two and half years of commencement of the policy, the complainant learnt that it was not a single pay policy but a regular one for 10 years. She was not in a position to deposit such a heavy premium of Rs 10 lakh per annum. She ultimately submitted an application stating that the policy be cancelled and her premium amount be refunded to her. She also filed a complaint before the Insurance Ombudsman, Chandigarh.

Following her complaint, a cheque for Rs 10 lakh was sent to her on June, 2010. While refunding the premium amount, the company did not pay her interest thereon from the date of commencement of the policy till the date of refund despite her various requests and legal notices.

On receiving the notice, the company stated that the complainant had tried to misguide and mislead the forum and, therefore, the complaint was not maintainable. It denied that it was represented to the complainant that it was a single pay policy and stated that rather it was a policy of 10 years duration with an annual premium of Rs 10 lakh. The policy documents were duly dispatched to the complainant and received by her in November, 2007. She failed to exercise the option of free look period of 15 days during which she had the option to get the policy cancelled if its terms & conditions were not acceptable to her.

After hearing both the parties, the forum observed it was deficiency of service on the part of insurance company.



Chandigarh scan

CME on childhood epilepsy

A one-day CME at the PGI, on Sunday, focused on “Childhood Epilepsy in Office Practice” . The CME focused on practical aspects of childhood epilepsy. Eight faculty members, including those from the PGIMER and invited experts from Delhi, interacted with the delegates during their deliberations. Worldwide epilepsy is about twice as common in children as in adults (about 7 per 1,000 in children under the age of 16 years compared to 3 per 1,000 in adults). The CME received a good response. As against the expected 100 participants, more than 150 delegates from Punjab, Himachal, Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh turned up. There were many video demonstrations and case discussions that made the workshop more practical.


The ‘Shreyas’ awards were today presented by the Rotary International to SPS Oberoi and Dr BN Goswamy on the concluding day of two-day Rotary International District 3080 Conference held at Shivalik Public School, Mohali. The awards were conferred by General VP Malik, former Chief of the Army Staff of indian Army, and Manpreet Singh, district governor. Over 1000 Rotarians attended the event representing 75 clubs from the District 3080. SPS Oberoi was awarded for his exceptional selfless service to the people in need.

Baby show

Children at the baby show in Golden Bell School, Sector 77, Mohali, on Sunday
Children at the baby show in Golden Bell School, Sector 77, Mohali, on Sunday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu

More than 100 children from Chandigarh, Mohali, Panchkula and nearby areas participated in a baby show. The show was brightened up by the well attired cute ‘n’ little lovable babies, who stole the hearts of one and all with their innocence and charm. Results: Category A (1 - 1½ year) Rishant and Noorpreet 1, Rajvir and Jasandeep 2; Kritak Bansal and Sonakshi 3; Category B (1½ - 2 years): Kavin Grover and Snimar Kaur 1, Aganveer Singh and Gurnoor Kaur 2 and Bhavit Sehaj 3; Category C (2 - 2½ years): Ayushmann Shanvi Chaudhary 1, Rannjai Singh and Mannat Kaur 2 and Arav and Mannat 3; Category D (2½ - 3 years): Avi Sharma and Jannat 1, Arnav and Aamya Ahuja 2, Naitik Goel and Reva Gulati 3; most well dressed baby: Hardik; most attractive baby: Trusha Singh and most healthy baby: Kashvir. —TNS



Contractor dumps paver blocks on road
Tribune News Service

Paver blocks lying along a road in Mohali
Paver blocks lying along a road in Mohali. A Tribune photograph

Mohali, February 12
Negligence on the part of a private contractor, engaged in the laying of paver blocks along the recently widened commercial street of Mohali, is causing inconvenience to commuters. For the past few days, a huge pile of paver blocks is lying unattended on the roadside as the work goes on at a snail’s pace.

The problem for the road users increases during the night hours. The contractor has failed to put up any warning sign in front of the piled paver blocks. “GMADA should ensure that the construction material being used in the road widening and beautification of road berms should be properly stacked so that no accidents takes place,” said Roopinder Singh, a shopkeeper of Phase 3B2 market.

Besides, the contractor has failed to clean the heaps of earth lying on the road and cover the dug-up portions of the road. Many road users have complained about their vehicles hitting the potholes on the road.



PU abuzz with rumour of Sobti’s resignation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
What keeps PU corridors buzzing with life are rumors, which travel from campus to media and further. A classic example was witnessed on Friday when the campus woke up to the rumor of Vice Chancellor RC Sobti resigning.

After missing his chance for becoming the Chairman of University Grants Commission, Sobti had a tough week with several aspersions being cast on his research.

A rumour went around in the university on Friday that Sobti was resigning to ‘escape the shame.’

Within hours the university’s ‘know all’ professors were weighing the prospects of candidates for future VC. Being used to such rumours, Sobti reportedly sat in his office, savoring ‘upma’.

“Tumne bas resignation hi suna? Arre kai logon ne to muje appoint bi karwa diya. Since last 5 year, I have seen it all. Many threaten me, even try to blackmail me, but I cannot pay attention to any such things because a lot needs to be done. I know what I am and thus don’t care,” he said.

Intrestingly people attributed Sobti’s recent travel to Tirupati to the ongoing trouble. “Ever since rumours began the VC is spending more time appeasing god to save him. Even while in office he is busy chanting hanuman chalisa,” said an official.

SOPU chairman back in campus

PU student politics, which had hit an all time low, seems to be regaining life with the return of SOPU Chairman Brinder Dhillon.

Brinder, who was away for about a month due to Punjab elections, returned to campus almost a week back and pulled up his party for the slumber. Dhillon, who is said to be an active student leader, also has a violent past, and his return has also got the Sector 11 police station into action who claim to be watching his steps even more closely.

He, however, says that he is making sure to stay away from trouble.



‘Akash’ for PU students soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 12
Students of Panjab University are soon going to be proud owners of the world’s lowest priced seven-inch touch screen computing and Internet device, Aakash, as the university authorities have sought the requirement of devices from all teaching departments for the pocket sized wonder tablet.

Officials said all departments had been asked to provide the details of students willing to purchase the device at subsidised rates. “Based on the requirement of all departments the university will get the devices,” the officials said.



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