C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Anupama critical
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
With her blood pressure dipping after frequent intervals, Anupama (16), the victim of PGI and CTU negligence, kept oscillating between life and death throughout the day today. She was stated to be very critical till the filing of this report, with doctors refusing to comment on her chances of survival.

Fighting trauma, coupled with gas gangrene, Anupama lay on an advanced trauma centre ward bed in an unconscious state.

Doctors said in the evening that there was no improvement in her condition, but it had also not deteriorated.

“Her blood pressure kept falling and she was attended to,” said a doctor, refusing to divulge details.

Grandmother clueless

Anupama’s grandmother, Illa Sarkar, who had come from Kolkata after learning about her condition, said she did not know what to do. “My fairy has been rendered handicapped. I just hope she survives,” she said.

Anupama’s grandmother Illa Sarkar

Anupama slipped into trauma and developed gangrene on Thursday evening, following which she was operated upon and her leg had to be amputated.

At that time doctors had stated the chances of her survival were not more than 20 per cent. She had been in an unconscious state ever since.

“I am hoping against hope that my daughter will survive. Although I know that after she regains consciousness, I face another battle, on how to tell her that she has lost her leg,” said Kanika, Anupama’s traumatised mother, who added that her tears had dried up after so many days of crying.

“Only a mother can know what I am passing through. It is very difficult to see my daughter lying like a vegetable. I wish doctors can understand my misery. I wish they had reacted to her condition the first day,” she added.

Speaking out

Anupama oscillates between life and death, her parents face horror of losing their only child; PGI starts taking measures to regulate rush at ATC

My personal experience is that there is chaos at the PGI. You go to the emergency. One doctor will give you a prescription to bring medicines. By the time you return with medicines, the doctor is busy somewhere else — Perwinder Khairwal, housewife

There is a huge rush at the PGI and the staff is busy. Still they need to learn some manners to talk to patients. People go there when in pain. I have faced humiliation at the hands of the nursing staff at the gynaecology department. — Sukhbir Kaur, local resident

Every visit to the PGI has left me more disappointed. Now I prefer to go other places.
— Anuj Kumar, assistant producer, community radio

Our sympathies are with the family and we will make all efforts to provide more financial assistance to the girl's family. I have directed the CTU Director to ensure that during rush hours, drivers are patient and drive off from bus stops after ensuring the safety of passengers. Passengers are requested to ensure their safety while boarding or alighting from a bus. — Anil Kumar, Secretary, Transport

To prevent the recurrence of such incidents, drivers and conductors are being asked to be more watchful while picking and dropping school students, especially girls. We are working out a system wherein school students will be allowed to board buses from the front door of low-floor buses and the conductor becomes the last person to board the bus. Drivers have been asked to be careful while steering through crowded areas. — TPS Phoolka, CTU Director

The PGI should deal with cases on a merit basis. The PGI is for the common man. Generally the poor are relegated to the back. They should move keeping in view the intensity at the emergency. Patients may have been denied immediate treatment because of poverty and lack of social status. — Naresh Handa, cost management accountant



Her parents’ hearts sank many times
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Although the apple of their eyes, Anupama (16) continues to battle for life, her parents faced the horror of losing their only child many times thoughout the day today. Each time the beep of the multi-para-monitor at bed 45 on the fourth floor of the advanced trauma centre went off indicating a dip in blood pressure, their hearts sank.

Amit and his wife Kanika spent the entire day standing by her side, hoping against hopes that their daughter would come out the most difficult battle.

The room, that otherwise witnessed hectic activity throughout the day, with five other patients suffering from different traumatic injuries, one could witness this silent duo’s lips moving as they quietly prayed for her survival.

Each time her blood pressure dipped, doctors and paramedics rushed towards Anupama. “It should be 70 mm if we want to keep the hope of survival alive,” said a medico attending on her.

As soon as she was given an injection to keep her pulse stable, her mother kept fanning her in the hope that it would provide relief to her unconscious daughter. Amit watched her quietly with blank eyes, with his fingers crossed.

It was the fifth day that 16-year-old Anupama had been battling for life after being infectied with gas gangrene and losing one of her legs at the PGI. The delay in surgery not only made her handicapped, but spread the infection to her upper body and put her life in danger.

The parents, with no relative around, preferred not to leave Anupama alone even for a second. Neighbours trickled in throughout the day.

Many of them, though not much in contact, were coming to express their sympathy after reading newspaper reports about her.

“I live in the same locality at Mauli Jagran complex. Though I didn’t know the family well, after knowing about it through newspapers, my wife and I decided to express solidarity in their hour of need,” said Vijay, consoling Amit at the ward.



Special buses for govt school students soon
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
While the PGI is shrugging off the responsibility on the condition of Anupama, the CTU sat up and acted to prevent such tragedies in the future. Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, TPS Phoolka, CTU Director, said they were working to start a special bus service to transport government school students.

The special buses would ferry students back and forth from schools and run buses exclusively for them in the morning and evening hours.

The information regarding students using public transport was still coming in. School students in possession of CTU passes could also avail of the facility. Once the complete details were provided by government schools in the city, the exact number of buses would be earmarked.

The CTU staff voluntarily collected Rs 31,000. CTU general manager Amrik Singh, Phoolka and CTU workers' union leader Ranjit Singh went to the PGI to donate the cash to the girl's father.

The erring bus driver had earlier given Rs 10,000 from his pocket to the girl's family. Phoolka and staff members expressed their solidarity with the girl's family and wished her early recovery.

PGI regulates rush at ATC

After receiving egg on face, the PGI authorities have started taking remedial measures to regulate the rush of patients at the advanced trauma centre (ATC). “We shifted many with better condition from the emergency,” said Dr Sameer Aggarwal, in charge of the ATC. He said a gap in the ratio of influx of critical patients to infrastructure available was to blame for the condition of Anupama. While the emergency had a capacity of 100 patients, at least 300 patients remained there on any given day.

At the ATC the capacity of treating patients was 26. On Sunday, there were 61 patients, with nearly 40 requiring surgery. Forty per cent of the staff with the orthopaedic department had been deputed to the ATC. Nearly 10 unidentified patients were received every day for the last seven years, who were taken care of by doctors and other staff members, said Dr Aggarwal. The PGI, particularly its emergency and the ATC, were receiving many patients more than capacity. The situation could not be improved to satisfaction till health infrastructure in and around Chandigarh was not improved, he said. — Arun Sharma



Tricity metro
DMRC comes out with fares 6 yrs early
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Work on the metro project in progress in front of the gurdwara at Sohana in Mohali on Sunday.
Work on the metro project in progress in front of the gurdwara at Sohana in Mohali on Sunday. Tribune Photo: Vicky Gharu

Chandigarh, July 22
In a typical case of jumping the gun, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has come out with fares for the tricity metro rail six years before the rail will become operational. The fare for the tricity metro rail, which will be operational from 2018, will be Rs 2 per km while the highest slab may go up to between Rs 25 and Rs 30 on both proposed routes.

The DMRC, in its detailed project report (DPR), submitted to the UT Administration recently, has proposed that the Chandigarh Administration can follow the fare system of the Delhi Metro.

At present, the minimum fare (0-2 km) is Rs 8 while the maximum fare (over 39 km) is Rs 30 in Delhi.

A senior official with the UT Administration said the DMRC suggested Rs 2 per km for the first 4 or 5 km whereas the highest slab for both the routes was proposed between Rs 20 and Rs 25.

The official added that before finalising the fare structure for the tricity metro rail, officials with UT Administration, Punjab and Haryana would study the fare structure of the Delhi Metro rail, as suggested by the DMRC.

For fare collection, the DMRC had recommended that the fare collection pattern in Delhi could be followed in the tricity metro system. It proposed automatic fare collection system with passenger-operated machines (POMs) and smart cards.

Followed in several metro systems across the world, the proposed POMs, which were automatic ticket-vending machines, were installed at metro stations so that the inconvenience of standing in queues at ticket booths was not caused to passengers.

The official added that it was suggested in the DPR to increase the fare in 2021 or 2022 to maintain the balance between high cost of running a metro in the tricity. The DMRC had also proposed smart cards for the tricity metro project, the official added.

The DMRC stated that a fleet of 16 metro trains of four coaches each would be operational by the end of 2018 in the tricity.

The DMRC had earlier proposed that the tricity metro rail would run at a frequency of around 10 minutes during peak hours on the two proposed metro corridors in the first phase.

The DMRC had proposed six metro trains on the north-south corridor from the Capitol Complex to the Gurdwara Singh Shaheedan via Sector 9, ISBT-17, Aroma chowk, Sector 34, Sector-43 ISBT and Sectors 52, 62 and 70.

This corridor would have a total of 10 metro stations, including four elevated stations and six underground stations.

On the east-west corridor, the DMRC proposed 10 trains, each of four coaches. The proposed corridor would be from the Grain Market near Sector 21 at Panchkula to the Transport terminal via Raili village, bus stand, City Centre, HUDA office complex and the MDC at Panchkula and the Housing Board chowk, railway station, Timber Market, Sectors 26, 7 and 9, GMSH-16, PGI, Khuda Lahora, Sarangpur, Mullanpur and Air Force station.

This corridor would have a total of 20 metro stations, including 15 elevated stations and five underground stations.

CTU may cut frequency

Within a month of starting the metro service on the PGI-Panchkula section, the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) is contemplating a reduction in the frequency of bus service in the afternoon. At present, 24 buses are being run on the route every five minutes. Sources said passenger occupancy was reduced between 2 pm and 5 pm. The CTU was contemplating a reduction in frequency during these hours. Around 10 buses could be withdrawn and put on other routes, said CTU officials.

1.76 lakh travel a day

At present, 1.76 lakh passengers, who commute daily in CTU buses, pay Rs 5 for up to 5 km and Rs 10 for above 5 km. In AC buses, the fare for up to 5 km is Rs 10 and for above 5 km Rs 15. According to officials, the CTU is running into losses. The occupancy rate of local buses procured under the JNNURM is 76 per cent. Last year, the occupancy of buses was 71 per cent.



INLD man booked in extortion case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Acting on the complaint of a woman resident of Sector 39, the UT police has registered a case of extortion and threatening against an active member of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), identified as
Ranjit Singh Panjhetha, a Sector-39 resident.

He was also into property dealing and was an agriculturist. The police booked Panjhetha under Sections 384 and 506 of the IPC and Section 66 of the IT Act. The accused allegedly sent threatening messages on her mobile phone and demanded Rs 50 lakh.

The case was registered after an inquiry was conducted by DSP (Headquarters) Ashish Kapoor. In her complaint, the woman had alleged that she knew Panjhetha for the last six years and their relationship soon turned into an affair.

They broke up some time back when he started to harass her. He used to force her to maintain the relationship with him, failing which he would pour acid on her.

Panjhetha was married and had two daughters. During the inquiry, the woman told the police that the accused threatened her to give him Rs 50 lakh if he wanted him out of her life and for her safety.

The woman used to work as nurse and was a divorcee.

'Chargess against SHO baseless'

The DSP's inquiry found that the woman's allegations against the SHO of the Sector-39 police station, accusing him of shielding the accused, were found to be baseless. She had alleged that the accused was a relative of inspector Charanjeet Singh, the SHO, and her complaint was not catered to. During the inquiry, it was found that the inspector had no role in shielding the accused or harassing the complainant as she never met him and filed her complaint directly to senior officials. "There is no role of the inspector in harassing the complainant or shielding the accused. He happens to be Panjhetha's distant relative and that is it," it was stated in the inquiry report.



Admn trying to run condemned buses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
It is a classic case of the Chandigarh Administration proposing and then disposing. After allowing the disposal of around 120 condemned buses of the Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU), the Administration is having second thoughts.

Most of the buses are nine years old and are not roadworthy. An official note from the top brass to find whether some of the condemned buses can be put to use again has sent officials with the transport department in a tizzy.

Thanks to the official rigmarole involved in disposing of condemned buses, the file pertaining to the disposal has been moving between the UT Secretariat and the transport department. “Every time, a new query is added,” said sources.

Last time, members of the committee set up to auction the buses had put some queries regarding the buses involved in accident and court cases.

As per Central guidelines for state carriage vehicles, buses completing eight years or five lakh km, whichever was later, had to be condemned. Another one-year extension was given to run the buses. Of the total 119 buses, around 80 had been declared unfit by the inspection board of the State Transport Authority (STA). “The board has declared the buses unfit and cannot declare the same buses fit,” said STA sources.

A senior official said the transport department needed fitness certificate and fixation of age limit of vehicles to run the buses.

After replying to the queries, the file was again being sent to the Administration to get the nod for the auction of the buses.

Enquiries revealed that in case of some of the buses, the finance department had accepted a proposal to condemn the buses in 2008.

The inspection board of the STA had rejected the passing of these vehicles after physical inspection. The auction could not be held due to one reason or the other.

“The safety of passengers should not be compromised at the cost of running the buses,” said Narinder Singh, a frequent traveller on CTU buses.



New PU Vice-Chancellor takes charge today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
The new Panjab University (PU) Vice-Chancellor (VC) will take charge of the university tomorrow. An eminent researcher, Arun Kumar Grover has remained a student of this university and has taught here.

After a span of six years, the PU will witness a new beginning with Grover taking charge as the new VC. Grover studied at the physics department here from 1968 to 1972.

After his PU stint, he left for the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) to join as PhD student in 1972 and eventually, settled for a research assignment.

For the time being, Grover would stay at the PU guest house, till the time he shifted to his official residence on the campus.

Speaking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Grover said he had reached Chandigarh and would join office tomorrow. Outgoing VC RC Sobti invited Grover to dinner at his house at the PU today.

Before joining the PU, Grover was working as senior professor at the School of Natural Sciences at the TIFR in Mumbai. He had beat eight contenders for the post of VC.

While at the TIFR, Grover also came to the PU in 1991 to teach on deputation for around four years. The VC had a three-year tenure, which could be extended for three years.



Girl caught with smack
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
The Chandigarh Police today arrested a 25-year-old girl outside a club and lounge bar in Sector 17 with 650 grams of smack.

According to the police, Khushi Malhotra, staying at Sector 32, was selling smack to boys whom she had met at a discotheque.

Ram Gopal, SHO of the Sector-17 police station, stated that the police party on duty got suspicious, checked Khushi and recovered smack from her.

The police suspected that a well-organised gang of girls was working in the city, supplying drugs to party revellers.

Sources said girls known to Khushi would be questioned. The source from where Khushi got smack was yet to be established by the police.

Khushi would be produced in court tomorrow. A case was registered at the Sector-17 police station.

Code name

A preliminary investigation revealed that Katrina was the code name for smack to dodge the police.



Open house response
Metro will reduce traffic, accidents

Growing population and vehicles in the city has compelled the Chandigarh Administration to implement Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS). Le Corbusier planned the city for 5 lakh population which has risen to 12 lakh officially. The Chandigarh Administration has been planning underpasses, removal of roundabouts, trams and other modes. But metro rail is the most practical solution for the city. Once known as abode for the employees and retirees, the city has changed rapidly and there is no alternative to metro rail to cope with the traffic hazarded, especially at the peak hours.

An urban development ministry report says that Chandigarh has a “zero congestion” index and the highest “walkablility” index of 0.91 in the country. The “city bus transport supply” index is only 17.54 as against 20 for Trivandrum and 43 for Delhi. The long trip length of an average of 14 kilometres and the average journey time in private mode of transport is between 5 minutes and 17.5 minutes. A majority of the trips here are short one; from 2.5 klimometre to 9.6 kilometres in length and about 80 per cent trips can be completed within just 15 minutes. Keeping in view the above observations the demand of 60-70,000 Peak Hour Peak Direction Traffic (PHPDT) is justified whereas maximum traffic demand is estimated at 30,000 PHPDT by 2041.

The main reasons as to why IT and multi-national companies are not interested to invest in Chandigarh is the lack of International Air Port and metro for local travel. These are the basic needs for any multinational company to invest. This will not only bring the Chandigarh on the world map but also stop brain drain of the north. At present, well-qualified students have to go to Delhi, Pune, Bangluru from the north. Metro has become necessity not a luxury.

Kulbhushan Kanwar, Sector 48, Chandigarh

The Delhi model

The success of Delhi Metro Project has proved an impetus for other cities throughout the country. At present, at least 20 cities have jumped the bandwagon including Chandigarh. It was way back in the year 2000 that Local MP Pawan Kumar Bansal demanded Metro project for the city. Since then, the issue has remained a priority for the Chandigarh Administration as it is going to reduce pressure on the road infrastructure of the city. As per estimates, groundwork on the project was to commence this year but we are still at the planning level.

The Ministry of Urban Development gave an “in principle” decision to place the city on the Metro map in the year 2008. In the backdrop of this “in principle” decision, the ministry asked the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Chandigarh Administration to initiate the work on preparing detailed project report (DPR) for the massive rapid transport network. M Ramachandran, the then urban development secretary, had stated “the required approvals going through on time, the underground and elevated Metro for Chandigarh and adjoining areas will materialize in about five years.”

The project shall boost the already high quality of life and also cater to increase in population without putting more pressure on the road infrastructure. Projected to cover a distance of about 52.4 Km both underground and elevated, the project reports envisage seven corridors supported with Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), and commuter rail service (CRS). The Chandigarh Administration would initiate the project jointly with governments of Haryana and Punjab. The project outlay was estimated at Rs 150 billion.

Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES) was involved which rolled out a Comprehensive Mobility Plan (CMP) covering aspects of Metro routes, BRTS Corridors, parking space, revenue modes for the entire project. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has been assigned the job of drafting a final report. The DMRC has quoted Rs 3 crores for the preparation of the DPR for the project, which it would submit in three months. Metro man, Sreedharan, has also held a meeting with officers of the administration, Punjab and Haryana to implement the plan on the ground.

The groundwork on the Metro project was expected to commence this year. But for reasons best known to the administration, the project has failed to take off. The finance department has to do a lot of brain storming session to mobiles funds that are required for the completion of the project. In a recent report, the administration has come out with a conclusion that underpasses in the city are not viable as several thousand crores would be needed to shift the underground sewerage and water pipes. This being the assertion, one is at a loss to understand how the administration shall manage an underground cover for the project that would run on 40.4 Kms.

Satish Chandra Sharma, chairman, Group Housing Cooperative Societies Welfare Council

Need of the hour

As the traffic in the tricity is increasing day by day, the metro rail system will bring a sigh of relief for the residents. The situation of traffic is worse in the morning and evening hours. With the increase in traffic the number accidents have also risen. The Metro Rail System seems to best solution to improve the traffic conditions. Besides controlling the heavy traffic, the Metro Rail System has other advantages as well. It will help people cut down the fuel costs by reducing consumption. It will also prove very economical to the people who are already struggling to make the ends meet by saving money as well as fuel. The pollution levels will decline due to less traffic and it will prove to be eco-friendly. Metro system will be a great comfort for the people as they can easily sit and reach their destination on time and do not need to drive around the city themselves. The Metro Rail System is the need of the hour for the city.

Isha Dahiya, Sector 2

Step in the right direction

It is indeed heartening news that the project, having crossed many bureaucratic hurdles, is now in the pipe line and will finally see the light of the day. When commissioned in the not very distant future, it will certainly take away much of the load from the crumbling public transport system, which as of now, leaves much to be desired.

Ultimate public satisfaction and commuters’ convenience must always remain upper-most in the minds of planners and designers at the inception stage itself, so that construction work proceeds smoothly and within a reasonable time frame. They must keep in mind the flaws in the much touted Delhi Airport metro case (which at present is closed) and should not repeat those mistakes, as will be known soon after the Inquiry report is out.

Aspirations of the public in general, and the daily commuters in particular, have naturally gone up as they see a considerable relief from traffic hazards less polluted environment, safe, cheaper and brief travel with less physical discomfort, once this service rolls out.

In order to fulfill the dreams of expectant citizens, the Chandigarh Administration, which at present is reportedly seized of the matter, will do well to raise an efficient wing within its ambit, to not only carry out this gigantic task, but to eventually run and maintain it smoothly, efficiently and above all meet public approval, unlike Chandigarh Housing Board-an arm of the Administration which has lost direction and earning the wrath of those very people for whose benefit it was initially raised.

SC Luthra, MHC Mani Majra

Viable alternative

In the present scenario, when the number of vehicles are increasing day by day and the existing roads fail to bear the burden, Metro Rail is the only viable alternative to cope with the ever increasing number of vehicles and to provide safe, fast and economical transport facility to the public. The Metro will take care of the transport requirements of the tricity and go a long way in helping maintain Chandigarh’s orderly appearance When the Metro Rail Project will be introduced, it will not only reduce the rush on the roads, but will also minimise the road accidents in which hundreds of people lose their lives every year. Metro Rail will also help in reducing the consumption of petrol and diesel by several thousands of litres every day. Not only this, there will also be significant reduction in the pollution which emanates from vehicles. While executing the underground Metro Corridors, emphasis should be laid on avoiding undue harassment to public. Safety of buildings, which fall on metro en-route, must be ensured. Smooth flow of traffic during the execution/construction of the project should be ensured by providing alternative routes. Steps should also be taken in advance for the construction of over-bridges / flyovers on all crossings en-route Metro Rail for the smooth movement of traffic.

Vineet Kapoor, Panchkula

Relief for tricity

The Mass Rapid Transit System (MRT) will prove to be a boon for tricity residents as well as the residents of neighbouring states. The density of traffic in the Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali has increased manifolds in recent years. The increasing traffic on city roads has serious effects on urban ecosystems, especially due to the increased atmospheric pollution and changes in land use patterns. A lot needs to be done to curb the problem. The implementation of Metro Rail Project is the need of the hour. It will definitely lead to significant reduction in traffic congestion, reduction in air pollution, time saving to passengers, reduction in accidents and fuel saving. Metro Rail has changed the picture of mega cities and large areas of the tricity should be covered under the project. Other than Metro Rail, the construction of a flyover will prove to be a boon for the residents of tricity. It will cut down the traffic from the roads and will ease congestion. Other measures to fight traffic chaos are carpooling for schools and offices, encouraging use of two-wheelers, better Public Transportation System; and installation of Traffic Signals at round-abouts. Also, key roads should be widened for free movement of vehicles.

Shruti K. Chawla, Sector 38, Chandigarh

Easier solution

My suggestion is that we should start with monorail system to control the immediate problem of growing traffic. Because we do not have to dig and it will be installed faster. In first phase, we should go for monorail and than for Metro system. Amit Gulati Industrial Area Chandigarh

Amit Gulati, Industrial Area, Chandigarh

Open House Question

16-year-old Anupama’s tragic case has brought to the fore the negligence of PGIMER as she could not be attended to due to huge rush of patients. Orthopaedic experts suggest that she and her parents could have been spared of the trauma they underwent while Anupama was undergoing amputation. What should be done so that others do not meet with a similar fate like Anupama. Write your opinion on the issue, possible suggestions on how we should value human life to the openhouse@tribunemail.com.



Chandigarh scan
Teej celebration

Over 40 members of Rotary Chandigarh Shivalik Club and their families celebrated the festival of "Teej" with the residents of the Old Age Home, Sector 15, on Sunday. Members distributed bangles, make-up items, sweets, and fruits to the senior citizens. They joined the elderly in singing songs and played on swings with them. The Rotarians also planted 25 saplings of various trees as part of their plantation campaign. The senior citizens adopted the plants and said they would take care of the plants just like their children.

Move condemned

In an emergency meeting of the Property Consultants Association, Chandigarh, all the members condemned the move initiated by the Chandigarh Administration to enhance the collector rates in the UT. Another move of the Centre to impose service tax on the sale of leasehold property was also condemned as there were no services involved in the selling of the property by way of auction by the administration. It was felt that this decision if taken will give a reverse effect to the property market. The association president said the administration should auction only freehold property in future as it would become difficult to sell the leasehold property in Chandigarh.

New office-bearers

Panjab University Students Union announced new members of the party in a metting held on Sunday. Baljeet Singh Dhindsa of the police administration department at PU was announced as the president of all the colleges affiliated to the university. Sukhjot Singh of the Department of Physics was declared as the general secretary.

Placement drive

More than 20 companies would participate in a job fest being organised by the Aryans College of Engineering, Chandigarh. The fest to take place on July 25 at the PHD Chamber, Sector 31, would provide job opportunities to BTech, MBA, BBA, BCA, MCA, MTech and diploma/ITI students. 

Mohali scan

VC appointed

Dr RS Bawa, a renowned educationist, has been appointed as the Vice-Chancellor of Chandigarh University, Gharuan. Besides holding important positions in Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, he was also the president of the Indian Economy Association. — TNS



Child labour rampant in city despite SC directive
Himani Sikka

Chandigarh, July 22
Despite the Supreme Court banning child labour, the practice continues unabated in the city. While children suffer, parents are helpless. In a quick survey conducted in the city by this correspondent, it was found most of the parents, driven by poverty, did not have qualms about making their children work at a tender age.

Children were found working at construction sites, as domestic helps, and with tea vendors in the city.

Children in the growing stage can permanently damage their bodies carrying heavy loads, but that doesn't stop 13-year-old Raju Rawat from helping his father by carrying bricks on his back at a construction site.

Raghav Agarwal is just eight years old. He collects plastic bottles and other waste material on the roads and sells it to earn some money.

There are many children like 13-year-old Rajesh who work the whole day at dhabhas, serving water and cleaning vessels. "I serve water to customers, and collect all vessels from tables and wash them. I go home late at night," Rajesh said.

Aarti Sharma (14), who works as a maid in Sector 38, said, "I manage to earn just Rs 800 per month, and it is very difficult for my family to survive on this income."

Children like 13-year-old Akash do not even have a place to live. "I live at the railway station as my father is a coolie. I help him in carrying the luggage," Akash said.

What the Supreme Court says

According to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed or permitted to work in any hazardous occupation. The Supreme Court of India in its subsequent judgements extended the law to include non-hazardous occupations too.

The apex court has given certain directions regarding the manner in which children working in hazardous occupations are to be withdrawn from work and rehabilitated, and the manner in which the working condition of children in non-hazardous occupations are to be regulated and improved.

  • Withdrawal of children working in hazardous industries and ensuring their education in appropriate institutions.
  • Contribution of Rs 20,000 per child to be paid by the offending employers of children to a welfare fund to be established for this purpose.
  • Employment to one adult member of the family of the child so withdrawn from work, and if that is not possible a contribution of Rs 5,000 to the welfare fund to be made by the state government.
  • Financial assistance to the families of children so withdrawn to be paid out of interest earning on the corpus of Rs 20,000 or Rs 25,000 deposited in the welfare fund as long as the child is actually sent to the schools.


A child less than 14 years of age is not allowed to work. A penalty of Rs 10,000 is imposed on any individual who hires a child. We conducted a survey in Chandigarh but found very few children involved in child labour. They too run away seeing us. If we are informed about such children, we would definitely take an action~

— Mahendra Kaur, Assistant Labour Commissioner, Chandigarh



There seems no end to Congress grass
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 22
Wild growth of congress grass across the town has become a big health hazard in the area. During a random survey at several parts of the town, the Tribune team found the infectious grass, known as Parthenium Hysterophorus, has covered residential and industrial area as well thus posing hazard to the localities, especially who suffer from asthma or other allergies.

Congress grass at a residential area in Matore village, Mohali; and (right) the area behind the PCA at Phase IX covered with congress grass in Mohali.
Congress grass at a residential area in Matore village, Mohali; and (right) the area behind the PCA at Phase IX covered with congress grass in Mohali. tribune photos: vicky gharu

On the other hand, the authorities concerned seemed to have no concern with the hazard as the local municipal corporation has done nothing so far to remove the weed. A 20-day long cleanliness drive, which had culminated on July 12, was conducted by the local MC nobody had cared to remove the hazard from the town.

Notably, the weed is well known to cause a wide range of allergic manifestations involving respiratory system, skin and eyes. The respiratory involvement is the most distressing one.

Gurtej Singh of Sector 70 complained that in the area surrounding his resident was full of wild growth and despite his repeated requests to the officials concerned nobody turned up to eradicate the hazard. “The weed has grown along the roads and near the residences here. At several places, the growth of the grass is over four-feet in height. Why don’t authorities check on their own when everyone knows that it (congress grass) was a dangerous weed”, said Gurtej Singh.

Dr Jagmohan Kochar, a skin specialist, said that the weed led to many skin and respiratory allergies and the number of such patients increases during this season. “The only way to get rid of this hazard is to eradicate it immediately”, said Dr Jagmohan Kochar.

No senior official of the local municipal corporation could be contacted despite repeated attempts.



ICAI organise seminar on changes in service tax
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
In the new tax regime, the onus of paying service tax has shifted from service provider to service receiver. Also, the input tax credit for providing output service was not available to the service receiver. There is a change in the definition of service that includes almost all service activities.

These views were expressed during a seminar on ‘Paradigm shift in service tax’ organised by the Institute of Cost Accountants of India (ICAI), Chandigarh-Panchkula Chapter at CII, Sector 31 here. On the occasion, Anil Gupta, Commissioner (Appeals), Department of Central Excise & Service Tax, Chandigarh-II and Atul Handa, Joint Commissioner, Department of Central Excise & Service Tax, Chandigarh-I, were the chief guest and guest of honour respectively.

Key note speaker Rakesh Bhalla, vice-chairman, Northern India Regional Council of ICAI, explained the various changes in this new regime to the members. In the earlier tax regime only 119 services were covered. But in the new regime, the number of services will increase tremendously.

Jasdeep Kaur, chairperson, Chandigarh Chapter of Cost Accountants said that prior to the amendments effective from July 1, 2012, the service tax has been levied on specified services and the responsibility of payment of the tax has been generally cast on the service provider, but for a few exceptions. The new service tax regime is based on a negative list of exempted services. With the new regime, all services - except the 38 activities put on the negative list - have come under the tax at the rate of 12.36 per cent.

Anil Gupta, Commissioner (Appeals), and Atul Handa, Joint Commissioner, Central Excise & Service Tax, and Rachna Singh, Assistant Commissioner (Service Tax), Chandigarh, said that the Department is gearing up for smooth implementation of these changes in new regime by adding more manpower from excise section to service tax section.



Banks sell fake doctor's flat, car
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 22
Banks have started selling the property of fake doctor Sandeep Sharma, owner of the Shubham Hospital at Sector 20, after he failed to return the loan amount. While the Punjab National Bank after obtaining the permission from the Debt Recovery Tribunal, sold his flat at a group housing society in Sector 20, the HDFC Bank disposed of his Fird Ikon car to recover its debts.

The incident rocked the town on January 30, 2008, when the Panchkula Civil Surgeon, with the help of the Panchkula police, sealed the Shubham 

Initially, Sharma was accused of illegally operating upon patients by holding free eye check-up camps.

As the investigations proceeded, frauds committed by him while availing of loans were exposed and amid high drama, investigations were shifted to the state crime bureau.

This finally led to Sharma's arrest. The CBI also registered two cases against Sharma in July, 2008.

In her complaint, the Civil Surgeon alleged that Sharma was running the hospital claiming that he was an ophthalmologist while he had no such degree with him.

During interrogation, Sharma revealed the names of some officials whom he bribed to get the loans on forged documents.

Investigating officials detected some discrepancies in the documents of a few banks that extended huge loans to the accused.

Sharma took loans worth around Rs 5 crore from different banks in Panchkula, Chandigarh and Ambala.

He borrowed around Rs 2 crore from a branch of the Punjab National Bank in Chandigarh to buy a Pajero SUV and a flat at Sector 20 in Panchkula.

He hypothecated the same flat to the Oriental Bank of Commerce, Mani Majra, against a loan of Rs 40 lakh.

While Sharma sold the flat to someone else, both banks claimed their right on the flat. He also borrowed Rs 1 crore from a bank at Sector 16, Panchkula.

Another bank in the same sector provided him an overdraft of Rs 66 lakh. A bank in Sector 20 gave him a loan of Rs 9 lakh.

Sharma told the investigating team that he had bribed a bank manager with Rs 2 lakh to get a loan.

In a particular case, the verification of Sharma's property was done in May by an advocate of a bank while the accused had applied for the loan in June, one month later.



Begging menace continues in city
Ritika Abbott

Chandigarh, July 22
The increasing population of beggars at Sector 17 has been irking the residents of the town, who want the authorities to act fast and take some steps to rehabilitate the beggars.

Though begging is an offence yet in the absence of any checks on the beggars by any of the administration department the problem continues to trouble people. No drives against the menace have been launched by the authorities in the recent days. Though there is a police beat in the area but no one bothers to check how mendicants keep on troubling visitors, especially foreigners, for alms. As a result, going shopping to Sector 17 is no more a fun experience.

Himani Sharma, a frequent visitor to the plaza, said it is really tough to escape the trap laid by beggars at almost every corner of the market. 'As soon as we step out of the car, they start following us, making silly comments till the time we enter the showroom,' she said.

Sanjay, a shopkeeper at Sector 17 said both the administration and residents are responsible for the situation. "While the administration has not been doing its job to curb menace many residents have been encouraging begging. People should stop giving alms because it would force beggars to stop," he said.

According to Haryana Prevention of Beggary Act, 1971 which was extended to the Union Territory of Chandigarh in 2009 says under Section 4 of this Act, the person who is found begging and convicted will be detained in a certified institution in accordance with the provisions of Section 7 for a period of not less then one year and not more than two years. Sectors 15, 17, 34, 35 and the 26 transport light point, Sector 17/18/9/8 light point, bus stands in Sectors 43 and 17 are some of the places where their presence is in large numbers.

Meanwhile, the police officials claim that the Social Welfare Department is equally responsible for controlling the beggar menace in the city.



Haphazard construction leads to water-logging in colonies
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 22
Haphazard construction in the catchment area now started having its effect as the rainwater, which normally flows from the area to Sukhna Lake, has resulted into water logging in the colonies here.

The latest example is the locality of Govind Vihar in Kansal, which witnessed about two to three feet water logging in the locality due to obstruction in the natural gradient. Ashok Giri, a resident of the colony, said that earlier the rainwater used to flow towards Sukhna Lake. Now with the construction of houses and other buildings, the natural gradient has been obstructed.

Moreover, now the rainwater has been draining into the sewerage, which is loss of Sukhna Lake, said Giri. While pointing towards the water logging in the area, Giri said that the sewrage of their locality was blocked otherwise this water would have drained into it. This rain water should flow towards the lake but due to obstruction in natural water flow, it has no way to flow out of the area, said Giri, who is an advocate. Echoing the sentiments, expressed by Giri, Manu Sharma, general secretary of Govind Vihar Residents Welfare Association said that the water logging here led the residents a lot of inconvenience. Many a time, water flows here in the street over the level of three feet.

We have approached the officials several times to get rid of the problem but they told us that it was not their job and we should approach our colonizer to get it solved, said Manu Sharma. The residents feel that the authorities should put storm water pipes, connected with the lake, in all localities here so that the rainwater should flow into the Sukhna as it used to be earlier.



Police launches drive to check PG accommodation
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 22
In the backdrop of three back-to-back firing incidents in the town, the police today checked paying guests accommodations in several areas of the city. Several police teams were deputed for the purpose that visited the PG accommodations in their respective areas and checked the credentials of the youngsters, staying there, said Swarndeep Singh, the Superintendent of Police (City).

He added that due to growing incidents of violence, particularly involving students of Panjab University, the police has decided to conduct such checking at regular intervals. The owners must submit the details of their tenants and the PGs to the police so that the police should know the background of the youngsters residing, said Swarndeep Singh.

When asked whether the police was also going to initiate action against the illegal PG accommodations, he said that the orders by the district magistrate were needed to be reviewed. Only after that we would be able to initiate action in this direction, said Swarndeep Singh.



PU gears up for student poll
Sends list of student leaders and vehicles to police for surveillance
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Ahead of the student poll, Panjab University has sent a list of over 30 student leaders and party supporters to the Chandigarh Police, who were suspected of creating trouble during the election. PU has also sent a list of around 67 cars owned by members of different student bodies that should be kept under the police surveillance.

Gearing-up for the election expected to be held in September, the PU authorities identified notorious student leaders and prepared data about their vehicles and addresses, which was sent to the SSP, Chandigarh. In the communication to the police, Chief Security Officer PK Dhawan stated that these student leaders had been actively involved in the student politics and should be kept under watch.

"As soon as the student parties got active on the campus before the academic session started, we started scrutinising their activities and gathered minute details such as the vehicles they travel-in and hostel rooms they frequently visit," said Dhawan.

The CSO, in his letter to the SSP, stated that the listed vehicles be kept under surveillance as the student leaders might carry lethal weapons in these cars.

The list of students given to the police mentioned seven members of the Student Organisation of Panjab University including Brinder Dhillon, Vicky Medukheda, Bikram Jattana, Robin Brar and Manoj Lubana.

Among members of Panjab University Students Union, the PU security had shortlisted eight names including Simranjeet Singh Dhillon, Sukhjeet Singh Brar, Arshbir Singh Johal, Jeevanjot Singh, Charanjit Singh and Sumit Goklaney.

The names of National Students’ Union of India leader Sunny Mehta and Student Organisation of India leader Manpreet Sekhon were also included in the list.

The PU security at all the entry gates was also informed of the identified vehicles.



University acts tough against ragging
Ritika Abbott

Chandigarh, July 22
Panjab University has taken pre-emptive measures to avoid ragging on the campus this year. Although, anti-ragging squads existed on paper in the university and its affiliated colleges, there was little awareness to prevent such incidents in the past.

"We ensured anti-ragging measures on campus even before the freshers arrived. Strict vigilance would be maintained, and an anti-ragging squad is already there. Chairpersons of all departments will counsel students against ragging and an interactive session for students will also be organized in the beginning itself." said AS Ahluwalia, dean students' welfare, PU.

On the direction of the University Grants Commission, the anti-ragging measures included separate undertaking by students and their parents or guardian at the time of admission stating that they were aware of the laws prohibiting ragging and the subsequent punishments. The student also had to mention in the undertaking that he had not been expelled or debarred from any institution for ragging.

Cautioning senior students on the campus against ragging, the university included in its handbook of information for hostels the consequence of one such incident last year. Helpline numbers and phone numbers of wardens would also be displayed on notice boards. Authorities were also pondering over engaging a few students as spies so that they could sneak out information on ragging incidents that took place late at night.



12-day earned leave for college teachers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 22
Teachers working in colleges affiliated to Panjab University would now get 12 earned leaves every year instead of the existing eight leaves. The decision on the matter raised in the Senate in 2011 was communicated to all the colleges recently. All the colleges would have to implement the new rule from this session.

Fellow Dinesh Talwar had made the proposal to raise the number of earned leaves in a senate meeting in the beginning of 2011, following which a committee was formed. It was only in December last year that the senate made the final decision of increasing the number of earned leaves. The house had then decided that a communication would be sent to all the colleges notifying the decision; however, the communication was sent recently by the university after much delay.

With the new decision in affect the teachers would be getting 300 earned leaves in their career of thirty years. Earlier, college teachers used to get 240 leaves throughout the career.

Talwar said it was a long-pending demand of the college teachers, and now they would accumulate 240 leaves in just 25 years of their career.



Teachers help in development: HC Judge
Suman Bhatnagar

Ambala, July 22
Teachers played an important role in the development of the nation, said Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court Rajesh Bindal, chief guest at a convocation ceremony in the PKR Jain College of Education, Ambala City, today. As many as 516 students of BEd and MEd were offered the degrees during the ceremony.

Rajesh Bindal, while addressing the students, said they would have to face several challenges while building their career. He said that hard labour and commitment towards the mission was the only way to achieve any success.

A student receives her degree at the PKR Jain College of Education, Ambala.
A student receives her degree at the PKR Jain College of Education, Ambala. Photo by writer



PR chief quits as Sobti leaves

Chandigarh, July 22
Dr Mohanmeet Khosla of the School of Communication Studies at Panjab University has resigned from the additional charge as the university's director of public relations.

Khosla was given the additional charge by the outgoing Vice-Chancellor RC Sobti after Anil Kapoor's one-year contract ended. With Sobti leaving the university, Khosla has also decided to resign from the post. — TNS



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