C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Why the MC fails to curb the canine threat
Serious questions are raised about its capacity to sterilise stray dogs n Many projects to control dog population not implemented
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
The Municipal Corporation (MC) of Chandigarh has been tasked with controlling the stray dog menace. But ever since it was formed in 1996, it has not handled the threat with the seriousness it deserves. It has undertaken measures such as sterilising the stray dog population to stem their growth and providing treatment facilities to residents who get bitten. But these appear woefully inadequate.

Dr BK Salwan, Medical Officer Health (MOH), claims that the MC has worked diligently to prevent the stray dog population from growing. Citing the Animal Birth Control Programme that the MOH department handles, Salwan claims that the MC has a systematic programme that ensures that a certain number of stray dogs are rounded up and sterilised every day.

The MC spends an average of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 7 lakh every year for such "animal birth control" measures. According to the budget report of 2010-11, the MC allocated Rs 7 lakh for the implementation of the Animal Birth Control (Dog) Rules, 2001. In 2011-12, Rs 7 lakh was earmarked. Inexplicably in the current year (2012-13), the budget has been reduced to Rs 5 lakh.

The MC has equipped itself with a multipurpose van and 10 dog catchers for the purpose. Armed with a lasso, these dog catchers scour Chandigarh streets and entrap dogs based on the priority of complaints. The dogs are then transported to veterinary centres which sterilise them. They are then again sent back to the same sectors where they were picked up as officials claim that dogs are territorial animals and always return to the same street in any case.

When The Tribune accompanied a dog van to Sector 31, the stray dogs appeared to have an inkling that their nemesis was at hand and bolted. The dog catching team then went on foot searching for them. It took them two hours to locate one of them. They approached the dog slyly and threw the lasso around its neck.

The catchers are equipped with dog masks to prevent captured dogs from biting them. But in this case, the "docile" dog came along timidly. They then took it to the veterinary centre run by the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) at Sector 38 West where it was put into a cage and readied for sterilisation.

At the SPCA centre, Dr Amesh Kumar said after sterilising the dog, which takes about four hours, the team of doctors keeps the dog under observation at the care centre for three days. On the fifth day, the dog is released at the same place from where it has been picked up. On an average, five dogs are sterilised at the centre in a day.

SPCA in charge Nandini Kakar states that the MC programme to control the stray population in Chandigarh is in conformity with the national rules prescribed for it. According to her, as per the Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001, notified by the Union Ministry of Culture, the captured dogs are to be brought to a dog pound managed by the Animal Welfare Organisations for sterilisation and immunisation.

The dogs are to be sterilised or vaccinated under the supervision of veterinarians of the hospital run by the SPCA, Animal Welfare Organisation or other dog shelters. After a necessary period of follow-up, the dogs were to be released at the same place or locality from where they were captured and the date, time and place of their release were to be recorded. The representatives of Animal Welfare Organisations have to accompany the dog squad at the time of the release.

According to the MOH, apart from the SPCA, the Pet Animal Health Society (PAHS) in Sector 3, Panchkula, was hired by the MC to sterilise the stray dogs in the city. These two organisations charge the MC Rs 775 per dog for sterilisation. In the last four years, the SPCA has sterilised 3,578 dogs whereas the PAHS, which was hired by the authorities in 2011, has sterilised 179 dogs till January 2012.

Another organisation, People for Animals (PFA), has also sterilised 1,583 dogs in the last four years, but it does not charge any money from the MC authorities for it. There are also several private veterinarians who sterilise dogs and officials say that in the past four years, they have performed 203 sterilisations.

MC Commissioner VP Singh said the department has adopted a foolproof method for checking sterilisation figures by ensuring that at the end of every month these organisations deposit the neutered parts of the dogs. He says a special committee constituted by the MOH department counts them and only then allows the branch concerned to dispose them of. This way, there is no chance of overlapping or misinterpretation in the number of sterilisations.

The MC claims that in the past four years, the total number of sterilisations stood at 5,340, which is almost 97 per cent of the stray dog population, estimated to be 5,713 in 2007 when the census was last done. But Part I and II of the Tribune series showed how experts and residents are highly sceptical of the MC estimates of both the population of dogs and the number of sterilisations that are being undertaken. Their fears are confirmed by the fact that there are almost 10 cases of citizens being bitten by stray dogs every day. Last year, the total number of dog bite cases was 3,785. These figures reveal that that the stray dog menace is far from curbed as the MC claims.

The civic bocy claims it is now making serious efforts to address the problem. The Commissioner says the MC is planning to rope in government veterinarians to sterilise dogs, besides taking the services of the local NGOs. In fact, the proposal is being formulated to strengthen the infrastructure of the dog catching wing.

SPCA executive member Neeru Sidhu says as a joint initiative of the MC and the SPCA, a unique system is going to be adopted under which different coloured collars will be put on the neck of dogs and bitches after sterilisation so that it is easy to identify the ones that have been sterilised.

They are also going to tie up with resident welfare associations to inform them about stray dogs so as to monitor their sterilisation by the department. She further states that during the next fortnight, a joint programme of the MC and the SPCA is going to be launched in Sector 47. Under the programme, bitches will be sterilised first.

All these are good efforts. But Chandigarh citizens want the problem tackled on a war footing as despite all these measures, the stray dog menace only seems to grow. Is the MC listening?

Efforts that failed

The Tribune investigation has revealed that in the last eight years, a number of projects have been mooted by the authorities to control the stray dog menace, but apart from sterilisation undertaken by local NGOs, the other projects have not taken off.

In 2006, the MC hired private doctors for the sterilisation of dogs but later the doctors backed out as the authorities did not pay them on time.

The same year a proposal to construct a dog pound in the city was mooted with a plea that there was an increase in the stray dog population, particularly ferocious dogs.

The MC was planning to set up a dog pound on half-an-acre of land earmarked by the UT Administration. But recently in the Animal Welfare Board meeting this project was scrapped on the ground that no state in the country had a dog pound so what was the need for setting it up in UT.

In 2007, on the recommendation of the Animal Welfare Board, the MC had invited a company from Ahmedabad whose modus operandi was to sterilise the dogs using an injection that cost Rs 50 per dog. The proposal was submitted to the House and approved for implementation. But because of protests by local activists who charged the company with adopting "an illegal method for sterilisation", the company withdrew its services.



I-T sleuths recover Rs 20 cr in special survey
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Special surveys conducted by the North West Region of the Income Tax during the past two days have led to the recovery of undisclosed income of over Rs 20 crore.

Supervised by Chief Commissioner Jaspal Singh and led by Commissioner, Chandigarh I and II, Baldip Singh Sandhu, Income Tax sleuths conducted survey on the premises of three jewellers and two developers for two days running, starting yesterday.

They were assisted by Rahul Dhawan and Subir Chatterjee, both Joint Commissioner of Income Tax, and Harkamal Sohi and Princy Singla, both Assistant Commissioners.

The I-T teams scrutinised accounts of Sukhm Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, Yellowstone Builders Pvt Ltd, Gehlot and Sons, Anurag Jewellers, Ganpati Jewellers, Venus Jewellers and Bhatia Jewellers.

Sources reveal that from Yellowstone and Sukhm Infrastructure, a Mohali-based developer group, scrutiny of the accounts revealed concealed income of Rs 13 crore.

Ganpathi Jewellers of Mani Majra declared concealed income of Rs 1.75 crore. Another jeweller to make a similar declaration after the survey was Bhatia Jewellers (Rs 1.75 crore).

The third party, Anurag Jewellers and Venus Jewellers, declared Rs 2.25 crore as undisclosed income.

Gehlot and Sons, also developers, was still to make a declaration. Sources in the Income Tax Department believe that this group also allegedly had hidden income of over Rs 2 crore.

The survey, sources maintain, has revealed biggest detection of undisclosed income in a single operation in the North West Region that covers parts of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.



National Technology Day
Focus on bio-engineering for better healthcare: PGI chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
As a part of the National Technology Day, commemorating the 1998 nuclear test in Pokhran, the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) today organised an "open day" wherein all the laboratories were kept open for the public. A large number of visitors, including students from various engineering colleges and universities, went around the laboratories and interacted with scientists to get an exposure to the technologies developed at the CSIO.

Delivering the Technology Day lecture, Prof Yogesh Chawla, Director, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, delved upon biomedical engineering and emphasised that engineering was the driving force for better healthcare.

Focusing on engineering-based healthcare technologies, diagnostics, monitoring and therapies, he dwelled upon various aspects of biomedical engineering such as bionics, which are artificial body parts, tissue engineering, which creates artificial organs via biological materials, solid jawbones, tracheas, artificial urinary bladders, bio-artificial organs and synthetic and biological components like hepatic assist devices.

He also appreciated the contributions of the CSIO in developing various bio-engineering instrument like the linear accelerator, low-cost ultrasound, endoscope, puls-oximeter, drug infusion pump and ophthalmoscope.

He said the scope for biomedical designs was immense and there was a need to innovate as per Indian needs and for this, there should be close collaborations between engineers and users. He stressed upon the promotion of engineering internship in medical institutions.

CSIO Director Dr Pawan Kapur highlighted the significance of Technology Day and listed out the contributions of the CSIO in different areas such as medical, social and defence sectors. He called upon the staff of the CSIO to make concerted efforts in research and development in the areas directly related to the masses and leading to the improvement of quality of life.

On the occasion, Paramjit Singh Kohli, Regional Director, Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness, Chandigarh, was honoured for his contribution towards development of the Head Up Display technology for indigenous fighter aircraft programmes.


160 MW needed to run metro
Four sub-stations will be set up to provide power supply; UT Administration to provide 80-MW power
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
For the ambitious Metro rail project, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has asked the UT Administration and neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana to arrange 160-MW power supply to run the metro rail in the tricity.

Out of this 160-MW power supply, the UT Administration has to arrange 80 MW of power. For the first corridor, which will be from Mullanpur to Sector 20, Panchkula, the DMRC has demanded 100-MW power supply and to supply so much of power, two sub-station need to be set up. Similarly, the DMRC has sought 60-MW power from Sector 1 to Sector 62, Mohali, and for this corridor as well two sub-stations will be set up.

Sources added that out of the 160 MW, 80-MW power supply is required to run Metro and 80 MW required for back-up in case of any fault in supply lines and power failure. A senior official of the UT Administration said that the DMRC had demanded a sub-station in Sector 9 and Sector 51-52. Besides, one sub-station each will be set up in Mohali and Panchkula.

But providing required power to the DMRC for running metro will be a difficult task for the UT Administration. At present, Chandigarh has no power generation capacity of its own and the city gets power supply from various central power generating stations in the region. While 280-MW power is supplied from different power stations in the region everyday, nearly 30-MW power is channelised through Jammu and Kashmir as per a bilateral agreement.

The sources said that as the UT had no power generating station of its own, extra power supply would be sought from various central power generating stations in the region. Subsequently, the power supply would be routed through these four sub-stations to run the metro rail in the tricity.

Recently, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) preparing detailed project report (DPR) for the tricity metro project had asked the administration to make arrangements for extra power supply to run the metro rail. The DMRC is likely to submit the DPR by the end of this month.



No end to problems of driver licence seekers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Harassment of vehicle documents seekers at the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) office in Sector 17 seems to be unending.

The work of issuing registration documents and drivers’ licence to the applicants has literally come to a standstill as the machine used to print the card is not being run as the air conditioners in the room are non- functional where the machine is installed.

Though the Registering and Licensing Officer (RLO), Vinod P Kavle, was not available for comments, sources said due to delay in printing of the documents, the backlog had swollen to around 12,000 RC.

The documents seekers complained that the deadline to issue RCs was being extended, but they had to suffer at hands of the traffic police, especially while going outside Chandigarh. The document seekers are doing the rounds of the RLA only to be given another date.

The pendency in printing of the RC has also resulted in delay in starting the new series. The auction of fancy number in the next series CH01 AN is scheduled to start in the new few weeks. But due to the pendency of work, the entire process has been delayed. 



Residents not serious about declaring actual power load
Due to absence of data, there is frequent tripping of power
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
It seems that city residents are not serious about declaring their actual power load, as out of the 2,20,000 power consumers last year, only 5,000 consumers approached the electricity department to declare their actual electricity load. Due to the absence of data pertaining to actual power load resulting in frequent breakdown of power supply in the city.

A senior official of the electricity department said that with the increase in the number of consumers, the power load had also increased as the people had now started using air conditioners instead of coolers in summers. However, there has been no corresponding increase in the number of transformers as the UT administration does not have details on power load from residents resulting in frequent tripping of power , he added.

MP Singh, Superintending Engineer (electricity), said that this time they would print information regarding declaring of power loads on the electricity bills so that residents could get information about it. Besides, the department would also issue advertisement in the newspapers to make residents aware about declaring actual power load, he added.

He further added that under Section 126 of the Indian Electricity Act, 2003, the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) had given power to the electricity department to impose a penalty to the tune of double the tariff rate for a period of up to one year preceding the detection of overdrawing.

Unscheduled power cuts

On Thursday and Friday, the southern sectors of the city again witnessed power cuts. In Sector 47-D, some fault occurred in supply lines due to which residents witnessed more than 10-hour power cuts. Similarly in Sectors 45, 46 and 52, residents on Friday afternoon witnessed one-hour power cut.



PCA for suspension of UT Sub-Inspector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has recommended suspension of a UT Sub-Inspector Gurbaksh Singh after receiving a complaint against him from Joginder Singh, a resident of Panchkula.

In a criminal case registered against Joginder’s son at the Sector19 police station in December last year, it was alleged that Jatinder had purchased 50 per cent share in a shop in Sector 20 from Kiran Gupta in 2010 and sold it further to Ved Prakash Goyal. Goyal lodged a complaint against Gupta and Jatinder for making false undertaking and false promises that the ground floor of the SCF would be vacated and given to him. Where as Kiran stated that she had not made any such promise about the eviction of the ground floor as the undertaking of the ground floor was given to Jatinder. The police then registered a case against Jatinder.



MC employees call off stir
Our Correspondent

Mohali, May 11
The municipal council employees, who have been protesting against the "beating up" of a civic body employee engaged in the removal of illegal rehris, today called off their stir following the cancellation of the FIR registered against their colleagues.

Sources in the police said the case against the council employees was cancelled while the one registered against lawyers still stood and investigations in this regard were on.

Devinder Pal Sharma, convener of the 17-member committee constituted to take up the matter with the district authorities, said the two-hour dharna was in progress today when police personnel came and informed them that the case registered against the civic body employees had been cancelled. The protest was withdrawn soon after getting the information. Employees of the civic body had been alleging that a member of the enforcement team, Kesar Singh, was beaten up by lawyers when he had gone to remove rehris parked illegally outside the court complex in Phase III-B1 on May 4. The lawyers, however, had alleged that they were attacked by the council employees when the latter had objected to the corrupt practices being adopted by the civic body.



Coin vending machine installed
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, May 11
The first-ever coin vending machine was inaugurated by RK Bansal, executive director, IDBI Bank Ltd, Sector 11, here this morning. The machine accepts notes of Rs 50 and Rs 100 and dispenses coins of equivalent amount in denominations of coins in Re 1, Rs 2 and Rs 5.

Bansal said the machine was the first of its kind in the district and would be available for the general public to reduce the paucity of coins.

He said another vending machine had also been inaugurated at Sector 8, Chandigarh branch.



black film
DGP's vehicles challaned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
After receiving flak for giving a soft corner to vehicles of VIPs during the challaning drive against the use of black film, the traffic police today challaned two vehicles reportedly attached to a DGP at Sector 34 here today.

The vehicles were an Innova and a Gypsy. Those were attached to DGP (Punjab State Human Rights Commission) Rajan Gupta of the Punjab Police.

The DGP was sitting inside the Innova when a challan was issued to his driver. The vehicles were intercepted near the traffic light point separating Sectors 34 and 35.

The DGP was heading to his office. Police sources said he did not object when he was informed about the challaning. Traffic policemen removed black film on the spot.

The sources further said the documents of two constables were seized and would be released after the recovery of a fine of Rs 1,000 each from them.



MC to hire 30 water tankers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
To deal with the water crisis during the peak summer, the municipal corporation (MC) plans to hire 10 water tankers per subdivision for the next two months.

A decision to this effect was taken during a meeting of the water supply and sewerage committee here. It was decided that all three public-health subdivisions would hire 10 water tankers each.

Members said complaints of low water pressure were being received by councillors. Public-health officials were told to get leakage removed and damaged pipes repaired.

Objecting to the installation of fountains, members asked officials to table a status report on all fountains installed by the MC at parks.

The committee also approved the installation of new pipelines to the parking of the community centre at the Milk Colony in Dhanas and the shifting and laying of road gullies at Sector 18.



Admn to spend Rs 22.34 cr on water supply, sanitation
Tribune News Service

Mohali, May 11
The district administration has decided to spend Rs 22.34 crore on water supply and sanitation works under the World Bank Project this financial year.

As many as 38 villages will be covered under the scheme where proper water supply facilities will be provided while a total of five villages will be equipped with the sanitation facility.

A meeting, headed by Satnam Singh, chairman of the zila parishad, District Water Supply and Sanitation Committee, was held in this regard in which the budget for this fiscal was passed unanimously.

"During this fiscal, a sum of Rs 16.64 crore will be spent on the water supply schemes while the budget for sewerage schemes and programme management is Rs 5.16 crore and Rs 53.50 lakh, respectively," said Satnam Singh. 



Prime accused in murder case identified
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
The day after a youth was stabbed at Daria village here, the police today identified the prime suspect in the case of the murder of 30-year-old Shaheed, alias Javed.

He was stabbed at his mobile-phone shop in the village by two unidentified men, who came there for a recharge.

The prime accused was identified as Pawan Kumar, who had been running a hotel at the village. According to the police, Javed was having an affair with Pawan's wife.

Residents of the Colony Number 4 blocked a road at the Industrial Area here and staged a protest against the failure of the police to arrest any of the accused.

The residents alleged that the police had failed to make any headway and raised slogans. They blocked the road near the Bhushan Industries for more than an hour.



International Nurses Week from today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
Prof YK Chawla, PGI Director, will inaugurate celebrations to mark the International Nurses Week on the hospital premises here tomorrow.

The week will be celebrated from May 12 to 18 to observe the birth anniversary of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.

Prof AK Gupta, Medical Superintendent, will be the guest of honour. The theme for this year will be ‘Closing the gap: from evidence to action’.



Health camp
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
At least 96 specially abled children were examined at a free health camp at the Society for Rehabilitation for Mentally Retarded Children at Sector 36 here today.

A team of doctors and nurses led by Colonel Jaiveer Singh (retd), ophthalmology consultant with the Fortis Hospital at Mohali conducted the check-up, with focus on eyes.

He said most children were found to be normal, but around 20 suffered from refractive error, 15 from allergic conjunctivitis and 10 from squint.



AIEEE centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
The name of the SGGS College at Kharar as a centre for the AIEEE examination in the report 'Online exam a hit among students', published in these columns on May 8, was inadvertently mentioned as the Indo-Global College at Mohali.

The other centre was the Chandigarh Group of Colleges at Gharuan.



PU employees protest SBI staffer's misbehaviour
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
There was high drama outside the SBI fee counter at the Panjab University (PU) here today after a State Bank of India (SBI) employee at the fee counter allegedly misbehaved with a non-teaching woman employee.

The non-teaching staff staged a protest and disrupted work at the bank for an hour. The incident occurred after the woman went to the fee counter.

Following the incident, PU employees gathered outside the building and raised slogans against SBI employees. Panjab University Staff Association president Deepak Thakur who led the protesters.

He said they demanded that the staff at the fee counters be changed immediately. “Such incidents had happened many times, but today, the SBI staff member misbehaved with a woman,” he said.

He further said they demanded a separate fee counter for PU employees. PU employees threatened to intensify the agitation if their demands were not met by Monday.



‘Sirjana’ begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 11
NSS units of the Dev Samaj College of Education at Sector 36 here inaugurated ‘Sirjana’, a 10-day workshop for special children, here today.

An annual feature of the college, it would be concluded on May 20.

The aim of the event was to provide opportunities to special children to regain hope and confidence.

Special children from various institutes and enthusiasts from the tricity participated in the workshop.

Principal Jyoti Khanna delivered the welcome address.

She said children would be taught skills like art and craft, candle-making, tie-and-dye and stitching.

State NSS cell's liaison officer Bikram Singh Rana appreciated the effort of the college.



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