C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


HC cancels allotment of 12 sites
Commercial sites on Chandigarh-Kalka road were allotted fraudulently three decades ago
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Mincing no words, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today remarked that “corruption at high places has become the fashion of the day” while canceling the “fraudulent” allotment of 12 commercial sites made over three decades ago on the Chandigarh-Kalka road.

A probe into the carving out of the plots has also been ordered. In case of improper carving of plots, the structures would be demolished and converted into a parking. The guilty will also be prosecuted.

The directions came after the court ruled: “The case is an example where the people at the helm of affairs of the Notified Area Committee, Manimajra, connected one way or the other with it, distributed 12 commercial sites among themselves while throwing all norms and rules relating to the sale of the property to the winds and by concealing the same from the general public”.

The committee, constituted in April 1976, had six officials and five non-official nominated members. Hoshiar Singh and Joginder Singh Walia were the committee president and secretary, respectively, when the plots were allotted on July 2, 1979.

The Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice AN Jindal observed: “Instead of throwing the public property in an open auction to attract the highest bid and to generate the revenue of the state, the property was allotted by the president and the secretary either to their relations or to the relatives of the Deputy Commissioner, Chandigarh, or other officers directly or indirectly connected with the committee.”

The Bench also made it clear that the “plot and the superstructures thereon shall vest free from all encumbrances with the Municipal Corporation. The occupants of the sites shall vacate the same within three months?.

“The allottees shall not be entitled to any compensation for the superstructure for the reason that they have utilised the public land since the date of allotment illegally and on the basis of fraudulent allotment.

“In case, the allottees or their assignees, including the occupiers thereof, fail to vacate the premises within three months, the Municipal Corporation shall take the possession of the same under the provisions of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act”.

The Bench added that the official respondents shall conduct an inquiry to see whether the plots had been carved out after following the due procedure. “If so, the plots along with the superstructure shall be put to sale by way of a public auction after giving wide publicity in at least three newspapers -- English, Hindi and Punjabi,” the court said.

“If the layout is found to be not amended in accordance with the procedure or the requirement of law, the superstructure shall be razed to the ground and the area be used for parking as originally provided in the layout plan.

“The Chandigarh Administration and/or Municipal Corporation shall complete investigations in respect of which report was earlier submitted and launch prosecution against the persons found guilty of malfeasance and misfeasance. “It shall be open to the Administration to initiate civil, criminal or any other proceedings against the officials responsible for causing loss to the public exchequer, allottees, occupiers and tenants?,” it added.

Following an advertisement, action in pursuance to it was stayed by the Administration. Still two plots were allotted to Vidyawati Sofat and Suresh Sofat of Sector 8-C, Chandigarh. The Bench said: “The allotment of plots allotted to Vidyawati Sofat and Suresh Sofat are also set aside and cancelled as such plots were allotted after the Administration restrained the NAC from the allotment of plots.”



How it panned out
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
An intriguing tale of how fraudulent allotments were made some three decades ago has unfolded itself in the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders setting aside the allotment of 12 commercial sites on the Chandigarh-Kalka road.

The court has ruled: “The manner in which the plots were carved out, the advertisement issued and the plots allotted to the officials associated with the Notified Area Committee shows that there was a calculated design to grab public property by deceit under the cover of wide publicity by publication of a public notice bereft of any particulars in the newspaper and then introduced public notice on the notice board, the possibility of which is not reliable.”

A scrutiny of the judicial records reveals that Manimajra NAC passed a resolution on January 24, 1978, to acquire land for commercial and residential Sectors after apprehending haphazard construction.

According to the Amicus Curiae, the original layout plan was for 67 commercial plots, but later additional plots were carved out from the area reserved for parking. The 12 commercial sites were marked as 815A, 815B, 815C, 815D, 830A, 830B, 830C, 830D, 855A, 855B, 855C and 855D in the layout plan.

The secretary/president without getting approved the notice from the committee or the competent authority for issuing advertisement for the sale of commercial and residential sites, wrote a letter to The Tribune for publishing an advertisement in the newspaper on June 7, 1979. The last date for the receipt of the applications was fixed as June 16, 1979.

Only 12 applications were received against the 12 commercial sites, situated at the strategic junction of Manimajra and Panchkula on the east of the Chandigarh-Kalka road. Committee secretary JS Walia “allotted these plots on the reserve price either to his own kith and kin, or to the relatives of the Town Planner or other officers directly or indirectly connected with the committee”.

The Bench ruled: “No reservation was provided and all the 12 plots were sold on a freehold basis at reserve price. As a matter of fact, no proper publication of the scheme was made by the committee. No public notice was issued as required under the Act before putting the sites to sale.”

An inquiry by the UT vigilance cell was ordered after the patent illegalities came to the notice of the Chief Commissioner during his visit to Manimajra in 1982.

The inquiry was conducted by inspector Bhagwan Dass and the UT Administration dismissed Walia from service. As the other officials had either been repatriated to their departments or retired, their departments were asked to proceed against them accordingly.

The beneficiaries

The allottees are Harinderpal Singh and Prabhjot Singh, sons of Joginder Singh Walia; Madhuri Verma, wife of Sudhir K Verma, the then Divisional Town Planner, Chandigarh and NAC member; Tejinder Singh, relative/friend of Joginder Singh Walia; RS Malik, former Chandigarh DC; Surekha, daughter of SC Nagin, Senior Town Planner; Nathi Singh, “benami” for PP Sawhney, former president, NAC and LAC, UT Administration; Des Raj, father of RS Malik; Savita Vadhera, wife of KR Vadhera, former assistant Estate Officer; Bimla Malilk, sister-in-law of RS Malik; Daulat Ram, “benami” for Hoshiar Singh, the then NAC president; Rupinder Singh, relative/friend of JS Walia; Rajinder Kaur, wife of AS Mehendiratta, architect, UT Administration; and RK Mangat, daughter-in-law of Mohinder Singh, executive magistrate.



Over 2,000 patients bear the brunt
PGI doctors take mass casual leave, relent after technician’s suspension
Tribune News Service
Policemen remove the carpets of protesting resident doctors (also seen in the photograph) at the PGI in Chandigarh on Tuesday
Policemen remove the carpets of protesting resident doctors (also seen in the photograph) at the PGI in Chandigarh on Tuesday.
Jaskaran goes home disappointed
Jaskaran goes home disappointed.
Krishana Devi leaves without being treated
Krishana Devi leaves without being treated.
Ram Krishan being taken home
Ram Krishan being taken home.
Tribune Photos: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, May 8
The strike by resident doctors crippled patient care at the PGI here today. More than 2,000 patients at OPDs had to return without getting an appointment with doctors.

Registration windows were shut two hours before the scheduled time of 11 am. The doctors, who had been protesting against the manhandling of one of their colleagues by a technician since May 3, had decided to go on mass casual leave for one day today.

The resident doctors, numbering over 1,200, had assured the authorities of not disrupting emergency services, including surgical procedures, and intensive care units. OPD patients were at the receiving end throughout the day.

The doctors called off the strike at 3.30 pm after the PGI administration suspended technician Gurpreet Sethi. The move had no relevance for OPD patients as services closed after lunch.

Relatives of Jaskaran, a youth from Nawanshahr, could be seen carrying him on a stretcher for follow-up after orthopaedic surgery.

“Jaskaran had met with an accident and suffered multiple fractures. Though he was operated upon recently, he came up for follow-up. We will go back the entire distance because there is no OPD scheduled for tomorrow,” said a relative accompanying him.

The stories of Ram Rekhi Devi from Uttarakhand and Ram Kishan from Chintpurni in Himachal Pradesh were no different. They were left with no option but to make arrangements for stay locally and wait for their turn.

Kamlesh Devi from Mani Majra came to consult a general surgeon. Strikes were not expected at least at hospitals, said Krishan Devi from Hamirpur. Patients should not be held to ransom under any circumstances, she added.

Earlier in the day, doctors gathered in front of the office of the PGI Director and tried to sit on a 'dharna'. By that time, a heavy police posse reached the spot and did not allow them to stage the 'dharna', following which they raised slogans, “We want justice.”

In the afternoon, doctors were told that Sethi was suspended. Agitated doctors insisted on receiving a copy of the letter issued to Sethi. They called off the strike only after it was shown to them. A PGI spokesperson said a committee was constituted by the administration under the chairmanship of Professor YK Batra on Saturday to ascertain facts about the present conflict between the resident doctor and the technician.

A report was submitted at 7 pm yesterday, after which the administration initiated disciplinary action against the operation-theatre technician. On the basis of this report and inputs provided by the head of the department of anaesthesia and the in charge of the work of operation theatre assistants, he was placed under suspension with immediate effect.

Though the administration took immediate action, resident doctors went on mass casual leave, affecting patient care. Resident doctors were requested to join duty immediately.

The strike was illegal and disciplinary action would be initiated against those who had violated the rules of conduct, said the spokesperson.

The authorities claimed that at least 2,633 patients were treated at OPDs.

The number was important in the context that at least 5,500 patients visited OPDs everyday, on an average.

What it was about

On May 3, senior resident Ajay Mishra alleged that technician Gurpreet Sethi roughed him up in a washroom of the advance cardiac centre the previous morning. Demanding strict action against the technician, doctors under the banner of the Association of Resident Doctors staged a protest in front of PGI Director’s office, took out a candlelit march and took mass casual leave today.



Pay more for power
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Electricity consumers in Chandigarh will have to shell out more for power in their next electricity bill as the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) today approved a hike in the power tariff for financial year 2012-13. Against the petition of the UT Administration to hike power tariff by 50 per cent, the JERC hiked it between 10 and 25 per cent. The new tariff will be effective from May 1.

The JERC in its orders has made three-slab system in the city against the existing two-slab system. In the domestic category, which consumes less than 150 units, one will have to pay Rs 2.30 per unit against the existing rate of Rs 2.10 per unit. The UT Administration had proposed Rs 3.50 under the slab.

But in the category of above 150 units, the JERC has divided the slab into two slabs, 150 to 400 units and above 400 units. Those, who consume more than 150 units, are presently paying Rs 3.80 per unit, but now with the JERC orders, consumers under the slab of 150 to 400 units will have to pay Rs 4.20 per unit and in the above 400 units slab, they will have to pay Rs 4.40 per unit. The UT Administration had proposed Rs 5 per unit under the slab.

In the commercial category, the UT Administration was charging a flat rate of Rs 4.10 per unit and had proposed Rs 5.50 in less than 20 units category and Rs 6 in above 20 units category. But the JERC in today’s order has made three slabs. Under 0 to 150 units, consumers will have to pay Rs 4.30 per unit along with Rs 6 every month. In the slab of 150 to 400 units, they will have to pay Rs 70 as fixed charge and Rs 4.50 per unit. In the above 400 units category, the JERC has ordered that consumers will have to pay Rs 4.70 per unit along with Rs 70 as fixed charge every month.

The UT Administration in its petition submitted before the JERC had mentioned reasons for power tariff hike which stated that the UT Administration wanted to recover a loss of Rs 332 crore (169 crore in 2011-12 and 163 crore (projected) in 2012-13) which was why the hike was necessary. Besides, expenditures of power purchase, fuel cost and employee cost have also been increased.



New SP for hassle-free ride on city roads
Tribune News Service
Maneesh Chaudhary
Maneesh Chaudhary

Chandigarh, May 8
Taking charge as the new UT Superintendent of Police (Traffic) today, Haryana cadre IPS officer Maneesh Chaudhary said smoothening traffic flow and reducing road fatalities will be his priority.

The new incumbent said he would be interacting with the resident welfare associations to understand the root of the problem with city’s traffic.

“Streamlining traffic will be my top priority. Special emphasis will be laid on reducing driving time and making it hassle free," he said during an interaction with mediapersons.

“The city traffic police has already done wonders with its dedicated Facebook page. I will try to introduce new innovations on the page to make it more beneficial for commuters," he said.

The SP also stated that he would identify accident-prone areas in city and deploy more force in those areas. “We will also coordinate with the engineering department to study the defects, if any, in those areas and get those rectified,” he said.

“As compared to Panchkula, the UT Traffic police has a larger force which is an added advantage. Carrying out awareness drives and interacting with the public will give ideas,” he said.

The 2005 batch IPS officer was last posted as the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Panchkula. The SP also spoke about synchronisation of different traffic light points for maintaining smooth flow of traffic.

Chaudhary advised traffic policemen to abstain from corruption and those caught indulging in malpractices would be dealt with sternly, he added.ride on city roads.



Mother, son arrested in kidney scam
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Sachin, one of the accused in the kidney scam, being taken to the District Courts in Mohali on Tuesday
Stuck in scam: Sachin, one of the accused in the kidney scam, being taken to the District Courts in Mohali on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Mohali, May 8
The special investigation team of the Mohali police today arrested two more accused involved in the infamous kidney scam. The accused are Manju Pandey and her son Abhishek. They hail from Bihar, but are at present staying in Pinjore.

“They worked as agents, who lured the poor into kidney transplant without their knowledge,” said the police.

The accused were arrested from their house in Pinjore. Another accused, Sachin, was arrested yesterday. The other accused, identified as Amitabh (another son of Manju Pandey), Vikas and Shakeel, are at large.

Amitabh and Vikas, both students, are said to be in Maharashtra while Shakeel is hiding in UP. Amitabh is said to have donated his kidney to his brother and the operation was conducted at the PGI.

The police is also checking the mobile phone call details of the accused to get more clues. Sources claimed that Sachin had confessed that he had taken Rs 10,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 60,000 in three different kidney transplant cases for replacing blood samples. The money had reportedly been given by Amitabh and his accomplices to Sachin.

Sachin has been sent to four-day police remand.



‘Poverty should inspire’
Son of track mender secures 241st rank in civil services exam
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 8
Sardar Jagga Singh, who has spent his entire life mending railway tracks, did not know until a few days ago what the civil services meant. Today, he is a proud father as his son Kulwant Singh has defeated all odds to make it to the civil services, securing the 241st rank.

“My uneducated parents only know that with the clearance of the exam, I will become a Deputy Commissioner soon,” said 35-year-old Kulwant Singh for whom it was the last chance to realise his childhood dream.

Kulwant hails from Dhuri in Punjab and took coaching from an institute in Mohali. He had cleared the mains last year, but could not clear the interview. “This year it was a do-or-die situation for me and I knew that I have to do it,” said Kulwant, who is working as an income tax inspector in Shimla. Earlier, he had served in the FCI and a private firm as a computer programmer.

Apart from poverty and scarcity of resources, he has also been facing a marital dispute for the past three years. “I have been falsely implicated in a dowry case by my wife and in-laws,” he alleged, refusing to reveal further details.

“I belong to a very humble family. My father earned a meagre income and had to look after a family of six including my two sisters and a brother. Those were very difficult days,” he said, adding that his poor parents never compromised with their studies.

“Though my parents could not provide me any guidance or quality books, but they never asked me to quit,” he said. Kulwant did his schooling from Navodya Vidyalaya, Longowal, and BTech from Shaheed Bhagat Singh Engineering College at Ferozepur.

Giving all the credit of his achievement to the coaching institute being run by the department of welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Punjab, he said the institute not only provided him coaching and other material, but also mental support during his tough days.

The principal of the institute, Rajwinder Kaur Minhas, said Kulwant was the 15th student of the institute to have cleared the civil services exam. “We all are very proud and happy with his feat,” she said.

In his message to students who have big dreams, but limited resources, Kulwant said: “Poverty is not a weakness. Make it your inspiration as well as strength to get rid of it. I made poverty my inspiration to achieve my aim,” he said.


Now, CTU buses with curtains to be challaned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
After challaning over 1,000 vehicles with tinted glass last week, the UT traffic police will now launch a drive against black filming on CTU buses and government vehicles.

DSP (traffic) Vijay Kumar said they had issued a notice to all departments of the Chandigarh Administration, including Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) buses, asking them to remove black films as well as curtains from their vehicles.

The notice was issued on May 5 and the traffic police had given them two days' time to remove the films.

As per the Supreme Court order, “The cases of the persons who have been provided with Z and Z+ security category may be considered by a committee consisting of the Director General of Police/Commissioner of Police of the state concerned and the home secretary of that state/Centre,” clarified the order. But the committee will grant exemption certificates “only in relation to official cars of VIPs/VVIPs”.

In respect of the SC directions against the use of tinted glass on cars, the PCR staff issued 181 challans for tinted glasses/ black films used on cars and removed those on the spot.



Garbage collection charges doubled
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Be prepared to shell out more for door-to-door garbage collection. The garbage collection association is planning to double the existing rates in the city. As per the proposal, it will charge almost double the existing rates in each sector.

The charges for two-room houses are Rs 30 and the rate proposed is Rs 60. The charges for three rooms and garden are Rs 100 and the rate proposed is Rs 210. The employees will charges Rs 2,000 per month from hotels, except those at Sector 22.

Sudesh Kumar of Sector 19 said door-to-door garbage-collection employees told him this morning that charges from next month would be double, as per the decision of the association.

Akhilesh Sharma of Sector 38 said employees were charging Rs 100 at present, but he was informed that from next month, the rate would be double.

When contacted, garbage collection association general secretary Om Prakash Saini said the authorities had told the association that charges would be increased.

He said an 11-member committee under the chairmanship of Mayor Raj Bala Malik had been constituted.

MOH BK Salwan said association members were not employees of the municipal corporation and the the authorities could not control the rates charged.



Rally by UT employees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
More than 500 employees of the UT Administration under the banner of the UT Cadre Educational Employees Union held a rally at the rally ground in Sector 25 today.

They were demanding that the deputationists should be sent back to their parent cadre.

The protesters said the employees from neighbouring states were here on deputation from last 25 to 30 years and most of them had retired from Chandigarh after remaining on deputation for a long duration and nobody bothered to send them back after five years. The employees demanded that deputationists must be repatriated to their parent state with immediate effect. They also demanded that the post of principals must be filled from among the UT cadre employees only.

They also demanded that teachers employed on a contractual basis, workings as guest faculties, SSA teachers or as part time teachers must be absorbed in regular services on a priority bases.

Swaran Singh Kamboj, president of the UT Cadre Educational Employees Union said they had submitted a memorandum to the UT Finance Secretary, VK Singh, who assured them of doing the needful.



Thalassaemics’ healthcare, severity matter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
A child born with thalassaemia can lead a normal life with medical aids, but the severity of the disease and access to healthcare will always play a decisive role throughout his life for his overall health.

This is the opinion of medical experts on the World Thalassaemia Day, which is observed today.

The day is observed on May 8 to spread awareness about the disease.

Many children in Chandigarh suffering from the disease have already been leading normal lives.

Some of them have got married and are running their business successfully, says Dr Amita Trehan, additional professor at the department of paediatric medicine at the PGI.

Many others have studied engineering and Sukhsohit, a local youth, has succeeded in getting a place in the civil services, she has added.

There is a need of awareness among the public regarding the disease and the requirement of such patients, says Dr Neelam Marwaha, professor and head of the department of blood transfusion at the PGI.

There are more than 300 such patients registered with the PGI and everyone requires up to 20 units of blood every year.

This way, over 7,000 units of blood at the hospital goes to these patients and so, there is a need for more voluntary blood donation, she has said.

“Apart from spreading awareness among the masses about the disease, the day is also significant for making people understand that thalassaemia is preventable,” says Dr VK Khanna, senior paediatrician, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi.

Getting a test to detect mutant gene at the time of wedding can prevent the birth of a thalassaemic child, he has said.

“In 25 per cent of the cases, if both partners are thalassaemia minors, they have a thalassaemic child. A simple antenatal blood test around the 10th week of pregnancy can tell if the child is thalassaemic. Doctors generally advise couples to terminate pregnancy in case the foetus is positive. This can help prevent the birth of a thalassemic child,” he adds.

This test should be regarded as an essential premarital ritual and every family should go in for this, regardless of religion or culture.

Apart from this, mutant partners can prevent birth of a thalassaemic child if they go through a simple blood test during the early period of pregnancy.

In spite of such simple preventive measures available almost everywhere, thalassaemia is widespread throughout the country.

Every year, around 10,000 children all over the country are born with thalassaemia.

“Patients with thalassaemia have the right to live a normal and healthy life. I have thalassaemic patients in the mid-40s, living healthy and professionally active lives. Every patient in the country is not fortunate enough to access the healthcare they require for such a life,” says Dr Anita Mahajan, senior consultant of paediatric-haematology at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

The expenditure on life-long treatment of such patients is a matter of concern for everybody, says Rajinder Kalra, secretary of the Thalassaemic Children Welfare Society.

It is not only blood transfusion which is the concern of such patients, he adds.

Due to frequent blood transfusion, these children have the problem of excessive iron deposit in the body, he further says.

They need iron chelation, which costs up to Rs 6,000 every month, he states.

Major and minor

Thalassaemia is a hereditary disorder. It has two categories — minor and major. Persons with thalassaemia minor usually have normal blood iron and treatment is necessary for them. Thalassaemia major is serious and requires regular blood transfusion and medication throughout life. If both parents are thalassaemic minor, the chances of the child being thalassaemia major are as high as 25 per cent. If only one partner is thalassaemia minor, there is no chance of having a child being thalassaemia major..

Youth not bothered

The city youth has remained averse to follow the advice of doctors. Doctors visiting the government colleges at Sectors 11 and 46 for an awareness campaign have found only one girl opting to come forward to get her blood tested for thalassaemia, but has not shown any interest in knowing about the report.

Daycare centre opened

For providing treatment, a separate thalassaemia daycare centre dedicated to the care of thalassaemic patients has been started by the department of paediatrics, Government Medical College and Hospital. Director-Principal Raj Bahadur inaugurated the centre. Thalassaemia is an inherited genetic disorder of the blood and affected patients require lifelong blood transfusion. Every year, approximately 1,00,000 children with thalassaemia major are born the world over, of which 10,000 are born in India..



Day after mishap, police has no clue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
A day after a couple died in an accident at Sector 40 here, the police was clueless about the identity of the accused, making it a blind hit-and-run case.

Ashok Kumar and his wife Santosh died when they were hit by a speeding car yesterday.

The couple was on their Honda Activa scooter along with their daughter, who sustained injuries.

Inspector Charanjit Singh, SHO of the Sector-39 police station, said they were making efforts to trace the car and were hopeful of nabbing the culprits soon.



Now, STD facility at Burail Jail
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Now, the inmates of Burail Jail can avail the facility of STD phone as the UT Administration has approved the proposal to install STD facilities there.

The decision comes on the pattern of the facilities available at Tihar Jail in Delhi. The UT Administration has already floated tenders to start the service.

Recently, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued directions to the UT Administration to start the facility in the jail. The directions were issued on a petition arising out of a suo motu cognisance.

Giving details about the facility, an official said when a new prisoner would be admitted to the jail, his fingerprints would be scanned and stored into the system.

The prisoner would be asked to provide two phone numbers of his or her relatives like wife, husband, mother, father, sister and brother on which he wished to make a call.

"Whenever a prisoner has to make a call, he will approach the phone booth and will identify himself by putting his finger on the biometric finger scanner," the official added.

He said under the system, the scanned fingerprints would match the stored fingerprints.

In case of a match, it would display the name of a prisoner along with the two phone numbers on which the prisoner was allowed to make a call on the attached touch screen monitor, he added.

Prisoner will have to touch one of the numbers to proceed.

UT Home Secretary Anil Kumar said they would provide the best facility to the jail inmates and this service would be started soon.

Sources said the authorities were yet to decide on the issue of recording the conversations of the inmates even though the High Court had held that under special circumstances, wherein the jail authorities had suspicion about a convict, his telephonic conversation could be taped.



Malaysia declares holiday on Baisakhi for Sikhs
Prabhjot Singh/TNS

Chandigarh, May 8
Sikhs in Malaysian Civil Services can now take a day off on Baisakhi day. Joining Sikh New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur last week, Malaysian Prime Minister announced a special though unlisted holiday for the Sikhs in the country's Civil Service, thus making Malaysia the first country outside India to show such a gesture towards the Sikhs.

Baisakhi celebrations that started last month have been continuing in most of the Western countries, including Canada, America, United Kingdom, Europe and Australia.

While in England, Prime Minister David Cameron not only invited eminent members of the Sikh community to his official residence at 10 Downing Street but also called father-daughter duo of Bhangra king Channi Singh and Mona to perform.

In Ottawa, MP Nina Grewal organised a special programme inside the House of Commons at Parliament Hill while the annual nagar kirtan in Toronto drew huge crowds. Similar nagar kirtan processions were organised in Vancouver, New York and other major cities in North America.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal accompanied by MLA Deep Malhotra and a few top bureaucrats, including his Principal Secretary Paramjit Singh Aujla and Anurag Aggarwal, joined Vaisakhi celebrations in Muscat last week.

Included in the delegation of Sukhbir Singh Badal were other Akali leaders of Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi. They were Yadvinder Singh Brar, Manjinder Singh Sirsa, Hardeep Singh Dimpy, Yadwinder Singh Sandhu, PS Romana, Kawarjit Singh Sandhu and Pavanpreet Singh Badal.

The World Punjabi Organisation whose delegation was headed by its international chief Vikramjit Singh Sahni organised the Muscat celebrations. It collaborated with the Indian Social Club, Muscat.



Health workers voice anger
Threaten to launch agitation, if demands not accepted
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 8
Health workers today threatened to launch a state-wide agitation if the state government failed to fulfil their long-pending demands.

While addressing protesting workers near the office of the Director Health Services, Haryana, Asha Sharma, president, Bahukaramchari Swasthaya Karamchari Association, lamented that the state government had appointed health workers on a contractual basis in the state, but despite 13 years of service, they were not regularised.

The department had started humiliating these workers by extending their contract period by three months instead of one year, she said.

Sharma claimed that they were getting less remuneration as compared to their counterparts in other states, including Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab and Union Territory of Chandigarh, who were getting salary between Rs 10,300 and Rs 34,000. She demanded that they should also be given the same scales. Basic qualification of a health worker should be fixed at Class XII, she added.

She said the association would stage a demonstration at various assembly segments in the state on May 25. "We would hold a dharna outside the office of Health Minister Rao Narinder Singh on July 8," she added.



Evaluated copies available online
Sumedha Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
In a move to increase transperency in the examination process, the Optical Response Sheets (ORS) of the IIT-JEE examinees this year have been put on the website for the first time to allow the students to see their answer sheets and know their marks.

The students who appeared for this exam can view their evaluated answersheets on the official website till May 10 using their their registration number and other personal details.

Students can either approach authorities or submit their requests, complaints and grevience pertaining to answers not being evlauted or wrongly evaluated on this website.

The final results will be released on May 18 after looking into the complaints.

“The IIT question paper and answer key put up on website hs left many students doubtful about the answers. The idea of putting the answersheets online will ensure more tranpernecy. In an exam where every single question can create a diffrence of about 50 ranks such a measure is indespensible. We have asked all our students to view these sheets and are holding special sessions to help them out,” said a local IIT-JEE trainer.

Meanwhile the CBSE will soon follow suit by putting its Class X and XII board answersheets online. The sheets will only be put on website after May 20, after the decleration of results.

The move would save the board from the hassle of dealing with hundreds of RTI applications and thousnads of reevaluation requests.

“It will be helpful for the students before they apply for reevlautaion. Prior to this plan a large number studenst would apply for reevaluation just to try their luck, but it meant a lot of work for us,” said a senior official.

The board also said that it was not yet ready to put the AIEEE and AIPMT sheets online but it could happen from next year.



Govt to introduce sports in school curriculum
The announcement was made by CM Parkash Singh Badal
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 8
The Punjab Government would soon introduce sports as a subject in schools, announced Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal here today.

Addressing the gathering during the foundation stone laying ceremony of Punjab Olympic Bhawan at Phase 9, Badal asked the Education Minister Sikander Singh Maluka to chalk out the modalities to introduce the sports subject in the school curriculum. While admitting that the state was not doing well in sports, Badal said that there was a need to establish more sports school like the one established at village Ghudda in Bathinda district.

"In that school, various promising sportspersons have been getting best sports training in various disciplines, free quality education and diet as well," said Badal, adding that sports infrastructure in the state would be strengthened in a big way to regain the lost glory of Punjab in sports.

He also asked Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, president of Punjab Olympic Association, to come to him with more plans for promoting sports at a big level in the state.

"Funds are no problem. Take a blank cheque from me for the purpose," said Badal.

Dhindsa demanded to release the pension of former sportspersons, which have been held up for more than a year. Dhindsa also demanded an increase in the pension.

Prominent among those present during the occasion were Education Minister Sikandar Singh Maluka, vice-president of Indian Olympic Association Tarlochan Singh, Olympian Balbir Singh and state finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa.



PU teachers demand exemption from research entrance test
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
A Panjab University fellow, along with college teachers, has written to the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the PU Vice Chancellor, opposing the UGC Regulation 2009 as per which even regular teachers are supposed to appear in the entrance test for pursuing PhD and have to go through a six-month course work. It has been demanded that the teachers should be exempted from the entrance test and course work.

Dinesh Talwar, a fellow, said that the avowed aim of policy initiatives in higher education is to provide incentives and galvanise research, but a few rules framed under the UGC end up achieving the very opposite.

"The UGC recommends that an applicant who has qualified the UGC NET-JRF is eligible for pursuing PhD. At the same time the universities are free to decide separate terms and conditions for PhD and are holding entrance tests on their own. If the norms are relaxed to such an extent, then why are the teachers, irrespective of their experience, seniority, or status, being asked to appear for entrance for pursuing research?" Talwar said. He said that it is quite strange that a teacher is eligible for promotion as associate professor but is not considered good enough to pursue research unless he appears in an entrance test. "The requirement of course work is also difficult to fulfil for in-service teachers," he said.

Shashi Kant, a faculty member in economics department of Government College for Girls, Sector 11, said they are teaching PG classes and even evaluating their answer sheets since last over two decades, however still they have been asked to appear for PhD entrances and attend the course work.



PU helpline numbers remain non-functional
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
At the time when the admission session in Panjab University is about to begin, the toll-free inquiry numbers displayed on the university website are either out of service or remain unanswered. The outstation students are the worst hit as they end up making repeated calls without any success.

The toll-free helpline numbers flashing at the university’s website to provide assistance to the students are of no use as they is no response to calls made to the numbers. Sahil Jadaik, an MCom correspondence student at the PU, said that he was repeatedly calling the help-line numbers mentioned at the university's website from last few days but nobody responded at any of the numbers. “There are three numbers mentioned by the university, out of which two remains non-functional, while the third one remains unanswered," he said.

Priyanka Singh, another student hailing from Punjab, said that the university inquiry numbers are a mere eye-wash as despite making continuous attempts the she could not get through to someone who could provide her the required information. “It is not possible to come to Chandigarh for every small inquiry. The university should revamp their system or come-up with some alternative numbers for assistance,” Singh said.

Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC) president Pushpinder Sharma said that issue has been raised a number of times but the university authorities have failed to act. “We have made repeated representations demanding that the system should be functional, particularly for the help of outstation students. However, nothing has been done so far,” the PUCSC president said.

When contacted Dean Student Welfare (DSW) AS Ahluwalia said that the matter has been brought to his notice. “I would forward the complaints to the concerned department so that the helpline is functional,” he said.



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