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Divali shoppers choke city roads
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
There was chaos on the city roads as festival shoppers thronged markets. for shopping. Today being Dhanteras, people could be seen buying utensils and jewellery as the day is considered very auspicious.

Throughout the day, traffic snarls were witnessed in the markets of sectors 15,18, 19, 22 and 35 as haphazardly parked vehicles led to chaos. Policemen deployed to regulate traffic had a tough time dealing with the continuous flow of vehicles. Since morning, the movement of vehicles in the tricity region of Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula led to taffic jams on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur, Chandigarh- Ropar and Chandigarh-Panchkula highways. Many people could be seen heading towards their homes in the neighbouring states to celebrate Divali.

Maximum chaos was witnessed near the venue of the CII trade fair in Sector 17, thanks to the haphazardly parked VIP vehicles. The traffic police did not make any effort to remove the wrongly parked vehicles. In Sector 22, most of the parking lots were encroached upon by vendors who had put up stalls on the parking space. Not finding any space to park, people were forced to park their vehicles on the roadside, leading to traffic jams.

Manipal Singh, a local resident, said: "Shopkeepers have encroached upon the parking area, especially in Sector 18 and 19 leaving no space for vehicles to park”.

As shopkeepers in the busy markets have encroached on roads by putting up stalls, shoppers are forced to park their vehicles on the roadside.

The situation was worse in Sectors 15, 17, 18, 19, 22 and 35, which are the most visited sectors during the festive season.

Certain traders have temporarily extended their shops right up to roads. Vishal Thakur, another shopper who was visiting Sector 19, said the road here was already narrow and the encroachments by traders had hardly left any space for commuters. The authorities must act tough against the violators.

Even if shoppers get a space to park their cars in a parking lot, it takes not less than 20 minutes to drive out of the parking lot. The parking lots being unmanned is another reason behind vehicles being parked haphazardly.

Manpreet Kaur, a city resident, who was visiting the Sector 15 market, said she had to wait for around 30 minutes to move her car out of the parking lot. “There is no other option but to park the vehicle on the roadside,” she said.

What added to chaos

  • Stalls in parking lots force visitors to park their cars on the roadside
  • MC has allowed stalls on roads, which has further added to traffic chaos
  • Unmanned parking lots also to blame

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Diyas, candles get designer touch
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Fancy candles and diyas (prepared by slum childrenof Sector 8 and 9 of P’kula).
Fancy candles and diyas (prepared by slum childrenof Sector 8 and 9 of P’kula). Tribune photographs

Panchkula, November 11
This Divali designer diyas have flooded the markets. Vendors have received these designer candles and diyas, some in the shape of a bicycle and lantern, from far-off places.

The most sought-after and the latest in the trend is the bicycle diya. It serves as a showpiece as well, said Raj Kumar, a shopkeeper of Sector 7, Panchkula. He added “ everything had gone designer so why not the traditional earthen diyas.”

Available at a price of Rs 150, most of the people were seen purchasing the bicycle diyas and candles to lighten up their houses on Divali.

Then trees made of earthen pots are also much in demand. “Diyas are attached on the branches, which gives a classy and an elegant look to the diya tree. One usually buys traditional diyas just around Divali to keep them outside their houses. But, this diya tree can be kept at houses on non-festive days as a showpiece,” said Sahida, who has come all the way from Saharnpur to sell these diyas in the Sector-22 market.

She adds, “We come every year with the traditional items but this time we have got something in designer form, as people nowadays are very fond of designer items.”

Not only diyas but also designer candles are there to catch your eye. Lantern candles at a price of Rs 250 are much in demand.

While the prices of the other designer diyas start from Rs 150, the prices of ones in the shapes of tree and heart start from Rs 350 and go up to Rs 700.

"The diyas this time are far more attractive and trendy than the ones that were available last time. Just to give a classy look to my house, I have purchased bicycle diyas and lantern candles for this Divali,” said Gurwinder Kaur, a resident of Mani Majra.
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“It would be lovely to decorate houses with such unique and stylish items this Divali," said Devinder Mahajan, a resident of Sector 4, Mansa Devi Complex, adding, “When everything is getting designer these days then why should the traditional Divali earthen diyas and candles lag behind?”

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Duty first: Divali just another day for many residents
n Meet firemen, PCR staff, electricity linemen and doctors... The Tribune team talks to them, and many others, as to how they feel while being on duty even as the whole nation takes a day off to celebrate Divali.

Malkeet Singh, security agent with the Haryana Police, spends time with his family at his residence in Panchkula.
Malkeet Singh, security agent with the Haryana Police, spends time with his family at his residence in Panchkula. Tribune photo: nitin mittal

Dr Rajesh Dhir with members of his family.
Dr Rajesh Dhir with members of his family. photo: pradeep tewari

Kala Singh with his family.
Kala Singh with his family. Tribune photo: s chandan

Baldev Chand with his wife and daughter.
Baldev Chand with his wife and daughter. photo: pravesh chauhan

Malkiat, policeman of Panchkula security wing

It has been 10 years that Malkit, who is with the Panchkula police security wing, has not celebrated Divali with his family only because he wants you all to have a safe Divali.

Malkit would be deployed on nakas also.

“This year I have been blessed with a daughter and it would be our first Divali with her but I won’t be celebrating the festival with my family as usual because I have to be on duty this Divali too. Since 2002, I have not celebrated Divali with my family and I don’t regret that because what matters to me is that people should have a safe Divali and for that purpose only I will be there,” he said.

Baldev Chand, a lineman with Punjab State Electricity Board.

“Performing duty on Divali is not a new thing for me. I have been performing my duty on the festival day almost every year. As Divali is the festival of lights, I think my duty is very important on that day. Sometimes I felt sad to be away from my family while everybody celebrated the festival with their families. At the same time, it’s very satisfying when I light up the house of those who file power complaints on Divali. I have no problem performing duty on any festival day. I only know one thing that duty is duty,” he said.

Baldev Chand’s wife Nirmala and three daughters cooperate with their father well. We certainly miss him but one has to perform the duty. We know the importance of his duty so we support always him, said Nirmala and Monika, his daughters.

Kala Singh, Fireman

“It is the family support, which gives me strength to help people in their hour of distress. I feel happy to serve humanity.”

Fortyfour-year-old Kala Singh, a leading fireman with the UT Fire Department, will be among the employees of the fire department on Divali. His wife Gurmeet Kaur, who has hardly celebrated Divali with her husband after her marriage, said she felt proud that her husband is working to save the lives of others. She added on Divali she stays at her home along with her two children, Simrat Singh and Harmanpreet. His four-year-old daughter Harmanpreet said the authorities should put personnel on rotational duties during the festive season so that everybody could celebrate festivals with their families.

Dr Rajesh Dhir, Head of the ENT Dept at GMSH-16

For doctors and paramedical staff of the city’s oldest hospital, attending to patients in the Emergency Ward is as crucial as spending quality time with their families.

Dr Rajesh Dhir, Head of the ENT Department at the Government Multi-Speciality Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, will be on duty at the Emergency Wing on Divali.

Living in a joint family with his mother, wife and children, Dr Dhir celebrated Divali well in advance with his family today.

“Family and profession are both equally important. I believe that festivals are all about finding special moments for the members of your families. I picked up my daughter from her institute in Amritsar yesterday and we all spent time together at home today. I feel it will be a dual pleasure for me to serve patients on Divali,” he said. 

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PGI exam racket: 15 remanded in police custody
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
The 15 youngsters, who were arrested in a cheating case during the MD entrance exam of the PGIMER on Saturday, were produced before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM) here today. All the accused were sent to four-day police remand.

Seeking police remand for the accused, the counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation, PK Dogra, said it had been ascertained that none of the seven girls who were caught cheating in the exam had valid MBBS degrees.

“The preliminary inquiry indicates that these girls were operating on the directions of a mastermind. We need to question these accused to determine as to whether it was a case of impersonation or part of a larger scam. It has been ascertained that none of the girls has a valid MBBS degree, which is a prerequisite for appearing in the entrance exam. The original identities of these girls as well as their seven associates are also to be determined.

Officials of the CBI will also procure and examine the documents including qualification details of the accused during the custody.

The youngsters were produced before the ACJM, Dr Ashok Kumar, the duty magistrate, at his residence in Sector 39. They will be produced before the CBI court on November 15.

On Saturday, the CBI sleuths raided all the 11 examination centres for the PGI’s MD entrance exam in Chandigarh and arrested seven girls. Seven youngsters were rounded up for helping these girls solve the question papers through sophisticated bluetooth devices and mobile phones. Another girl was rounded up today in connection with the case and sent to police remand.

All the arrested candidates belong to Andhra Pradesh.

Sources in the CBI said the girls had hidden sophisticated mobile phones with camera in their undergarments and had a bluetooth devices fixed on their ears. They had left their hair open to hide the bluetooth devices.

The girls first scanned and emailed the copy of the question paper to their associates, who were stationed in a hotel room in the city. From there, the question papers were sent to experts based in Patna and Hyderabad through email.

The experts used the same channel to send back the right answers, which were further conveyed to the girls taking the examination.

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1,200 cops to remain on their toes 
To keep a watch on bikers riding triple, eve-teasers, snatchers 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
More than 1,200 policemen and 400 personnel of the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) would be deployed on roads to make sure that nothing goes wrong during the festive season. Intensified patrolling in market areas and close monitoring of motorcycle riders and juveniles will be done to check the incidents of theft and snatching.

According to the police, 1,200 policemen, including nine DSPs and 22 Inspectors, would be on their toes to ensure peace on Divali.

Meanwhile, 60 police personnel from the IRB have been attached with personnel on night shift PCR duties. There will be special attention on the movement of bikers riding triple, eve-teasers, snatchers and other bad elements. As many as 40 PCR Cheetah Motorcycles will patrol markets specially to watch rowdy youth riding two-wheelers.

The UT police has also put up 30 PCR nakas and 19 general nakas on border points.

Police officials said they would keep a watch on minor children who might commit thefts in public rush and at functions. Police personnel of the respective police stations will be deployed in markets to keep a watch on the movement of anti-social elements and the duties of police personnel will continue till the closing of markets.

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open house response
Administration is not planning anything

With just a day left for the festival of lights, the municipal corporation and estate office officials are still waiting for a bigger incident to occur. Majority of the markets are lying in utter shamble with dangling and high tension wires climbing down the poles due to kundi connections and all this credit goes to the insensitive so called Nagar Nigam and Estate office. With festival season round the corner, I personally visited along with few of the prominent senior citizens and market associations here in the city, the scene at these markets and especially colony areas was miserable. If the officials are to be believed, both the municipal corporation fire department and that of the Chandigarh Administration is planning nothing for such incidents in the city. Still, after Sector 22 market incident, no preparations and cooperation is visible from there side in the upcoming festival of lights. Half of the markets is covered with wires and the remaining has been encroached by the people through kundi connections in colonies.The high-tension wires can be seen entangled in barbed wires, which can lead to any big accident during the time of festivities.

Sachin Sharma, Chandigarh

Watchdogs in deep slumber

Fires due to short circuiting of dangling electric wires in general and at Sector 22 photographic shops in particular have not woken up either the shop keepers to set house their house in order, or the inspectors responsible to detect the blatant violations of electricity rules and get them strictly enforced. The inspectors overlook the violations in lieu of some pecuniary gains, forgetting that their sleeping over the violations will result in major tragedy one day. Pockets at Sector 22 market where inflammable photographic material is commonly used and which are more prone to fire accidents must have duty conscious electric inspectors to oversee them. They should not only know their job well, but should be conscious of the responsibility that goes with it. The electric inspectors, who have allowed the tragedy to re-occur, appear to be in deep slumber and must be shaken out of it.

SC Luthra, MHC Manimjra

Wake up call for shopkeepers

One really fails to understand why the fire safety measures are ignored by the shopkeepers, especially at the Sector 22 and 19 markets. Fire repeatedly breaks out in these sectors at regular intervals. There is surely something curious about this aspect. Despite the government instructions, the shop owners do not follow the fire safety norms. All the shops/ SCOs in the city abide by the safety precaution rules. The cabins cut out in the upper floors of SCOs are so congested that the firemen cannot reach the spot to extinguish the fire. Even the roads are so occupied with haphazard parking of vehicles that it becomes almost impossible to reach the spot of fire, especially on upper floors. Had simple rules been followed by the shopkeepers, there would not have been such devastating fire that destroyed the SCO No 1048 at Sector 22 where photographic property running into lakhs of rupees was destroyed. There are allegations that the fire was "stage-managed" by the owner of the concerned shop to claim insurance. If so, then the guilty must be brought to book and given exemplary punishment. This should be a lesson for all the shopkeepers.

RK Kapoor, Chandigarh

Administration plays with fire

It is not for the first time that recently a photo studio was gutted at Sector 22, the city has witnessed many such tragedies like the BSNL fire; Sector 26 market fire and many others are the eye-opener for all of us. In fact, there are large numbers of naked, obsolete and broken electricity wires, opened junction boxes, spread throughout the city posing serious danger to the human lives. Apart from illegal constructions in the backyard of SCOs, extension counters of restaurants, plywood and other shops have been constructed without any fire safety measures. Officials claim that after the incident they have served notices to the owners who have violated the building by-laws have the lame excuses. There are several buildings, whose owners have been served such notices, but non-compliance of the building by-laws hardly led to demolition of these buildings. The administration does not take any action against those who have not compiled with fire resistant measures. Safety and security, which is the paramount need, should be assured with multiple access and exit points to ensure a streamlined flow of people. The entire facade of the buildings may be composed of transparent glass that curtails heat transfer and will offer clear and allround visibility. The basic fire safety and fire prevention measures such as underground/overhead water static tanks, automatic sprinklers system, first aid house reels, fire extinguishers, automatic fire detection and alarm system, public address system, illuminated exit way marking signs, alternate source of electric supply etc are the preliminary requirements to be provided in the buildings. The fire department needs to have an effective communication system, sufficient water in the reservoirs. Besides, building rules enshrined in the Punjab Capital (Development and Regulation) Act, 1952 and the National Building Code of India, 2005 should be observed meticulously. There is a greater need to fix responsibility of not only the concerned staff but the policy framers should be booked under various sections of IPC for criminal negligence.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Fire safety

The recent fire outbreak at Sector 22 shop is not the first of its kind. Such incidents have become a regular feature in the city and call for adequate fire safety arrangements. Many markets in the city like those in Sectors 41, 22, 19, 18 and 15 are the riskiest spots with illegal circuits, kundi connections, bifurcated power according to their convenience, congested corridors and no emergency exit. Stern action must be taken against the violators and a regular check should be kept on them. The building bylaws must include installment of fire extinguishing equipments and anybody found violating the law must be fined. The authorities should also ensure swift action in case any unfortunate incident occurs with availability of fire extinguishing equipments, adequate staff and proper coordination.

Dr Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh

Ensure adequate fire safety arrangements

The recent fire incident at Sector 22 photo shop has once again highlighted the poor safety arrangements in the city markets. The fire incidents in the commercial establishments are caused due to electric shortcircuits. The shop owners have generated illegal circuits and bifurcated power according to their convenience. Several city markets, including rehri markets, are virtually sitting on a tinderbox in the absence of the fire safety norms. Strict action should be taken against the violators and a regular check should be kept on the violators. Stern laws should be made for buildings to install the necessary fire extinguishing equipments and anybody found violating the law must be fined. All the expired fire extinguishers must be replaced immediately. The authorities should ensure availability of required fire safety and fire extinguishing equipments, adequate staff and proper coordination and thus ensure no lapse in providing firefighting services whenever required.

Vineet Kapoor, Panchkula

Strict action needed

The recent fire outbreak at a photo studio in Chandigarh has called attention to the fire safety needs in commercial areas. The major reason behind fire incidents are haphazard partitions without following building norms, dangling wires in market and other areas. There is an immediate need to follow fire safety measures to avoid mishaps and loss of life and property. The violators of building bylaws should be first sent a notice and if that fails to bring a positive change, penalties should be levied and the illegal construction be demolished. No uncovered wires should be left dangling. It should also be made sure that there are no overloaded sockets and faulty wirings. All electrical equipments should be installed with a stabilizer. All combustible items should be kept safely away from any danger of catching a flame. At workplaces regular mock drills should be held for employees for evacuation in case of a fire outbreak. Fire extinguishing devices should be installed to control fires.

Isha Dahiya, Panchkula

OPEN HOUSE QUESTION

The increase in LPG prices has led to increase in the food bills by various private and government bodies that were earlier providing food on subsidised prices. Ranging from mid day meals to food provided at Panjab University and different colleges, the hike in LPG prices and limiting of the cylinders has to protest from different quarters. What needs to be done to ensure that the organisations providing subsidised food to the needy and student community are kept away from the hike. Write your suggestions to [email protected]

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Mohali, P'kula cops gear up for Divali
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 11
The Mohali police claimed to be fully prepared to ensure happy and safe Divali for the local residents.

About 750 policemen would keep an eye on the law and order situation here in the town and adjacent areas on Divali. The policemen would be deployed at market areas, special nakas and for traffic management.

Giving details, SP (City) Swarndeep Singh said this time eight special mobile teams would assist the PCR to deal with any untoward incident before and on Divali.

"As many as 11 special 'nakas' have been laid at the sensitive points, which would be equipped with chasing vehicles and advanced communication system. Though we are not intending to harass people or spoil their festive mood, checking of vehicles would take place at the nakas," said .

He added that to manage traffic on the festival day, about 90 policemen would be on duty in Mohali and its periphery, which includes Kharar, Zirakpur, Kurali and Dera Bassi.

This time we have also issued instructions to the concerned police stations to check the safety measures at the sties, where crackers are being sold.

SP SWarndeep said there was no plan of traffic diversion during the festival day. "Though the roads would be crowded but there would be no traffic diversion at any place," he said.

Panchkula:Keeping in mind the festive rush, the Panchkula police has took all steps to avoid any untoward incident.

According to information, in addition to regular deployment, 100 more police personnel will be deployed at different parts of the city. "We have deployed the majority of police personnel in sectors facing huge rush of commuters. Special arrangements have been made to avoid any untoward incident," said Inspector Raj Kumar, Public Relation officer.

"Except having steady force, patrolling will be conducted in all the sectors and periphery areas of the city," he added.

The traffic police will also conduct special non-traffic jam drives along with special traffic police pickets. "We have deployed a group of sub-inspectors along with traffic police force for laying special nakas," said Kumar.

On other hand, the city's fire department is also ready to provide aid in case of fire incident in city. "We have deployed a fire-tender at the cracker market of Sector 5. Other than this, we are fully prepared with seven more fire tenders to avoid any major fire incident. All the officials of the fire department will remain present," said an official of fire department.

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No leave for Mohali fire brigade till Nov 14
Kulwinder Sangha

Mohali, November 11
Despite it being crippled by staff shortage, the Mohali fire brigade has been put on full alert and will be putting its best foot forward on the occasion of Divali.

To ensure a safe Divali for the residents, leave of fire personnel has been cancelled from today till November 14. The personnel will also be required to put in extra duty hours so that things go smoothly in the case of emergencies.

Sources said following orders from the Deputy Commissioner, one of the fire engines with the local fire brigade will be stationed at Kurali on Divali.

There is only one leading fireman against the requirement of 12 and just four drivers against the need for 12. Besides, there are just 12 firemen against the sanctioned strength of 46.

There seems to be no shortage of vehicles at present. There is a fleet of nine vehicles, including one which is non-functional.

There are five fire engines, one mini fire engine and two fire jeeps. An Rs 6.28-crore hi-tech fire engine, which has a 55-metre hydraulic ladder, is yet to be handed over by the GMADA.

According to fire brigade personnel, the fire-prone areas on which they need to keep an eye include the rehri markets and the sites where cracker stalls have been allowed by the district administration.

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Diamonds still hit among residents on Dhanteras
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Diamond and silver jewellery remained hot favourite among the residents who thronged jewellery shops in the tricity on the occasion of Dhanteras.

Vinod Talwar, President of the Jewellers Association, said maximum buying of gold jewellery was witnessed on Sunday.

By rough estimates, over 120 kg of gold jewellery was sold at various outlets across tricity.

Apart from buying jewellery, residents also thronged it was literally raining shoppers at shops selling utensils. Maximum rush was seen in markets of Sectors 19 and 22.

Today, around 1,200 new cars were delivered by different auto mobile companies. 
Various incentives for car buyers increased the business.

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Festive season: Traffic goes haywire in Panchkula
Tribune News Service

Panchkula/Mohali, Nov 11
Due to the ongoing festive season, heavy traffic congestion was witnessed on most of the trafficlight points in Panchkula. Bumper to bumper traffic was witnessed at the Sector-7/18, Sector-11/15 dividing road, Tank Chowk, Mansa Devi Complex T-intersection and at Tawa chowk.

Parking problems are mostly faced at Sector 7, Panchkula. “To park a vehicle at Sector 7, Panchkula, is a big task during these days. There is bumper-to-bumper traffic especially in the evenings. It would be better if the traffic is manned by the police, otherwise sometimes, even a scuffle takes place due to the parking problem,” said Dr Vikas Sharma. “I believe more police should be deployed at the trafficlights so that the traffic congestion may be eased out. It takes around 20 minutes to get through the traffic,” said Vimal Sharma, a resident of Sector 11, Panchkula.

Raja Singh, a resident of Sector 9, Panchkula, said, “The lights should be switched off and the police personnel should man the traffic because the duration of the lights in very less which causes traffic jams.”

“People park their vehicles haphazardly at the Sector 7 and Sector 15 markets which causes traffic problem,” said Ria Mehta, a resident of Sector 10, Panchkula. In Mohali, chaos was witnessed at the markets of Phases V, VII and IX as vehicles. Traffic cops stood mute witnesses to the chaos. 

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Apni mandis cause resentment among residents
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, November 10
In the “model” town of the state, the location of certain “apni mandis” has caused resentment among the residents of the area. Reason: These “apni mandis” are held at very unhygienic places, most of which are no less than dumping grounds.

The sites of the “mandis” included Phase VI, Phase V of Industrial Area and Sector 71 near Mataur village.

At these locations, many residents and garbage collectors use to throw waste. On the scheduled day, the sites are being used to hold “apni mandis”, where the vendors can be seen putting their vegetables or fruit stalls on or just near to the piles of garbage.

“This is totally unhygienic. The people, who generally avoid crossing near the sites during other days, are forced to buy fruit and vegetables during apni mandis,” said Jeet Ram, a resident of Sector 71. “Here stink is intolerable. Especially, after mandis, the condition of the site becomes worst,” said Jatinder Singh, who lives near the apni mandi site at Phase VI.

“We have requested many a time to clear the garbage from the mandi site but to no avail,” said Ravinder Singh, a resident of Phase 71.

On the issue, Mohali DC, Varun Roojam, said he would pass instruction immediately in this connection to the officials concerned.

“If there is garbage scattered at the sites of ‘mandis’, it is really a matter of concern. I would issue directions of regular checking of not only sites of the ‘mandis’ in question but all such markets,” said Roojam.

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Community Centre comes up at Sector 22
Tribune News Service

Union Railway Minister Pawan Bansal after inaugurating the Community Centre, Sector 22, Chandigarh, on Sunday.
Union Railway Minister Pawan Bansal after inaugurating the Community Centre, Sector 22, Chandigarh, on Sunday. Tribune photo: S chandan

Chandigarh, November 11
Union Minister of Railways Pawan Kumar Bansal inaugurated a ‘hi-tech’ Community Centre at Sector 22 here today.

With the inauguration of the Community Centre, the residents will now have an alternative to the expensive marriage palaces, situated in the outskirts of the city.

There is a fully air-conditioned hall inside the Community Centre, which can accommodate 300 people. The centre also has a bride room, modular kitchen, office room, library with computer facility, musical gymnasium, badminton courts and table tennis room.

An e-sampark Centre will be operational here within two months and booking for marriages and other programmes will commence from next month.

More than 60 cars can be parked inside the Community Centre. While addressing the gathering, Pawan Bansal lauded the efforts put in by the Municipal Corporation in developing Community Centres one by one. He said local residents, who cannot afford the services of marriage palaces, can now avail the service of the Community Centre.

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It’s a long weekend for many

Chandigarh, November 11
With Divali falling on this Tuesday, it will be a long weekend for many. Many people had already taken leave on Monday to get four consecutive days to enjoy with family and friends. Shiv Singh, a resident of Sector 22, working as superintendent in Punjab government, said he was heading to Jalandhar to celebrate Divali with his elder brother’s family, who is stays there.

Similarly, Gurpreet Singh, an IT professional working in Gurgaon, said he was in the city to visit his parents in Sector 45 and to celebrate Divali with them. He said he had told his firm well in advance that he would take off on Monday so that he can visit his parents in Chandigarh. –– TNS

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Punjabi songs, bhangra give prefect end to PEC Fest 
Tribune News Service

Students participate in a competition on the last day of PEC Fest at Sector 12 in Chandigarh on Sunday.
Students participate in a competition on the last day of PEC Fest at Sector 12 in Chandigarh on Sunday. Tribune photo: S chandan

Chandigarh, November 11
The last day of PEC Fest 2012 was equally exiting as the earlier two days. Students from different colleges came in large numbers to take part in the different events and competitions.

The day started with Dramarama, a skit competition, along with Cross Swords, the conventional debate finals. In the Rap Battle event, participants twisted lyrics to entertain audiences.

The fest also witnessed students showcasing their photography skills in the event ‘Click’.

The evening started with the Film Festival, held in collaboration with Shamiana, the famous short-film making club of Delhi. The students watched short film and ad film entries from a large number of colleges all over India. Some award winning short films were also shown.

The main event of the day was a huge crowd puller.

It started with students of PEC performing bhangra, which was followed by the Star Night.

The famous Punjabi singer Preet Harpal of the ‘BA fail’ fame had the audience dancing their hearts out on Punjabi beats, making it a sight to watch.

As the fest ended, all the students had a smile on their faces, reflecting the great time they had during the three days of PEC Fest 2012.

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Canada remembers its Sikh warriors
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Consul General of Canada Scot Slessor with the country’s Minister of State for Sports Bal Gosal at Slessor’s offical residence.
Consul General of Canada Scot Slessor with the country’s Minister of State for Sports Bal Gosal at Slessor’s offical residence. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh, November 11
A plaque eulogising the war heroics of nine Sikhs who fought for Canada during World War I would soon be adorning the walls of Canadian Consul General Office here.

Canada’s Minister of State for Sports Bal Gosal was here this morning to unveil the plaque at the official residence of Consul General of Canada Scot Slessor.

The plaque is in three languages — English, French and Punjabi — English and French being the official languages of Canada.

From next year, Remembrance Day would be observed at the Consul General Office. “We will soon be screening a documentary on private Buckam Singh. And in the next four to six weeks, we will screen four documentaries on the contribution of Sikhs to Canada. One of the documentaries would be about four of the most affluent Sikhs in Canada,” Slessor said.

It is for the first time that Canada has officially recognised the contribution of the Sikhs in different areas, including defence.

Those who follow Indo-Canadian relations believe that the recent visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to Sri Anandpur Sahib, one of five Takhts of the Sikhs, and Virasat-e-Khalsa was more to appease the Sikh constituency back home.

Canadians have further intensiied their efforts in pursuing this policy by giving Sikh soldiers their due recognition and remembering their World War I heroics on National Remembrance Day.

In an informal chat with The Tribune, Gosal said that Stephen Harper’s visit to India this week was perhaps his longest visit to any country. “We are almost ready to sign the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with India. Perhaps the only hurdle is the provision for protection of Canadian investment in India. Hopefully the FTA would become a reality by 2013 and all the pending issues would be resolved,” he said.

Canada would also be looking forward to sign some agreements with Punjab on sports, physical education, fitness and training. “We have attained expertise in some of these areas and would like to share that with Punjab. I may meet Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in this connection,” he said.

Talking about kabaddi, Bal Gosal said that though circle kabaddi was popular in Canada, no federation had been recognised till now. Rules in Canada stipulated that any sports federation before being recognised should meet certain mandatory requirements that included a proper constitution and a represented elected body, he added.

Private Buckam Singh

A chance discovery of private Buckam Singh’s Victory medal has put the forgotten tale of nine Sikh soldiers, who fought for Canada in World War I, in the limelight. At the age of 14, Buckam Singh had migrated to British Columbia from Punjab in 1907. Five years later he moved to Toronto where he enlisted himself with the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the spring of 1915. He served the 20th Canadian Infantry Battalion in the battlefields of Flanders during 1916. He was wounded twice in two separate battles.

One of the interesting discoveries made about him was that after being shot, private Buckam Singh received treatment at a hospital run by one of Canada's most famous soldier poets, Doctor Lt Colonel John McCrae.

While recovering from his wounds in England, Private Buckam Singh contracted tuberculosis and spent his final days in Kitcheners’ Ontario Military Hospital. He died at the age of 25 in 1919. Singh was buried as people there were unaware that Sikhs were cremated. His grave in Kitchener in Ontario is the only known WWI Sikh Canadian soldier’s grave in Canada.

While he never got to see his family again and died almost 90 years ago, his forgotten heroic story is now being reclaimed and celebrated. The Canadian Conservative Government has decided to celebrate his war heroics as part of the Remembrance Day — Poppy Day — on November 11 every year. As a mark of respect to nine Sikh soldiers, a two-minute silence will be observed at 11 am on that day.

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Chandigarh Scan
Consumer awareness

Students of St Soldier International Convent School perform at Edu Fest on school premises in Phase VII in Mohali.
Students of St Soldier International Convent School perform at Edu Fest on school premises in Phase VII in Mohali. Tribune photo: parvesh Chauhan

Bank of Baroda held a camp titled as BOB-Aap ke Dawar at Sector 18 in Chandigarh. The camp aimed at increasing consumer awareness on various schemes of banks and reach out to more people with financial solutions. Divulging details on the occasion bank’s Assistant General Manager Vineet K Dudeja said Bank of Baroda’s motive was to ensure customer satisfaction and provide all kinds of economic solutions under one roof. He elaborated on the new schemes of bank including Baroda SamriddhiHalf Yearly (six months) deposit, quarterly (three months) deposit and Yatha shakti deposit.

Energy conservation

The Ministry of Power, Government of India, has launched the national awareness campaign in order to promote energy conservation in the country. Various programmes for young school children have been devised to sensitize them about the need for conserving energy as also to educate and involve their parents in this cause. As a part of the program Bhakra Beas Management Board organized on the spot State Level Painting Competition amongst School Children of Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana at Inderdhanush Auditorium, Sector-5, Panchkula. Nearly 9.44 lac participants competed for the School Level Competition, out of which 150 children were selected for state level for competition. The painting competition on energy conservation was first conducted at the School Level for classes 4th, 5th & 6th and thereafter 50 children each were selected from each state by the jury for State Level Painting Competition from the best paintings received from the participating schools.

Divali function

Students of IT Campus and Hartron Approved Workstation, Sector 8C, Chandigarh, celebrated their 22nd annual Divali function with great fun and frolic at Punjab Kala Bhawan, Sector 16, where in the students participated in various cultural activities like classical and western dances, Bhangra and Gidda etc. Students also performed a fashion show, modeling in formal dress. Bhangra performed by boys and girls in colourful dresses was outstanding.

Green Divali

Gian Jyoti Group of institutions took pledge to celebrate an eco-friendly Divali. The initiative of the students is to make environment eco-friendly which saves lot of money spent on fireworks that would be used for some other humanitarian purpose. JS Bedi, Chairman of the Gian Jyoti group while appreciating the initiative of the students and staff said that youngsters should take such approach to minimize the use of crackers at maximum possible level. He further added that instead of giving sweets and crackers which add to pollution, plants should be given as a gift in this festive season to keep it clean and green and this approach of eco-friendly should also be spread in the society.

Job fair

Quest Group of Institutions organised job fair on its campus. Many reputed multinational companies visited Quest Group of Institutions so far for placements. Wipro visited the campus for the placement of final year students of B.Tech, Computer Science and Electronics. Total of 191 students from different colleges of the region participated in this drive and 50 students were shortlisted after Jam Round and 12 after personal Interview round. After technical test seven students were selected, who would be joining at New Delhi and Pune.

Rangoli competition

Ashmah International School, Sector 70, celebrated Divali. Fancy dress, rangoli competition, diya making and other such events were organised for the students. An exhibition of all handmade items was also organized and parents were also invited to see the eye-catching innovations of the students, where each house displayed their items like candles, diya etc while decorating it with colourful dupattas, pictures of gods and goddesses various designs of Rangoli ranging from geometrical to floral patterns were also an attraction, which were made by tiny tots, the whole scene was overwhelming as the school wore festive look. The Principal of the school, R Ghuman urged the children to use earthen lamps rather than electric bulbs and distribute useful things like clothes, books, eatables to less fortunate people than fire the crackers then this can be turn out to be brighter Divali and more meaningful one.

South Indian Food Carnival

The Orthodox Syrian Church Society, Chandigarh, organised a ‘South Indian Food Carnival’ for a social cause. The church society is undertaking various charity projects for the upliftment of the needy like tailoring class, donation of artificial limbs and sewing machines, medical camps, medical checkups and awareness classes, educational scholarships, medical assistance, blood donation camps etc. at a very successful level. This is the 9th year of such kind of a celebration in cause of humanity. Like in the past years about more than 6000 people are expecting this year also. All the South Indian homemade food varieties are being arranged. Money received from this carnival will be used for the mentioned project.

Annual talent show

Sant Isher Singh Public School, Sector 70, Mohali, celebrated its extravaganza- Harmony 2012 with great enthusiasm and joy. A variety of entertainment items were presented by the students. The annual talent show was inaugurated by Director. Hardip Kaur Gill, followed by a brilliant display of pure talents and lively performances by the tiny tots of junior wings. The show depicted messages for anti-crackers Diwali and save environment to maintain peace and harmony in the nation. The colorful folk dances were gracefully performed by boys and girls depicting the happiness and hard life of Indians. A highly appreciated dance show was performed by the senior wing comprising of Gidda and Bhangra presenting the importance of the culture of Punjab.

Prize distribution function

Students of Golden Bells Public School perform during the annual function at Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh.
Students of Golden Bells Public School perform during the annual function at Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh. Tribune photo: S chandan

Golden Bells Public School, Sector 77, Mohali, celebrated the annual cultural and prize distribution function of the school today at the Tagore Theatre, Sector 18, in Chandigarh. Arvind Singh commissioner, Customs, Central Excise, inaugurated the function by lightning the lamp. Dr GK Nanda, President of Woman and Child Welfare Association, Mohali, graced the occasion as guest of honour. The cultural fiesta started with a welcome speech followed by the welcome dance. This was followed by annual report read by Principal Anjali Chaudhry which aimed at giving a glimpse of the school performance and achievements in different activities held in and outside of the school during session 2011-12. Cute and lovable children of kindergarten surprised all with their rejuvenated energy and colourful ‘Dandiya dance’ form of the state of Gujarat.

Eco-friendly Divali

Hansraj Public School, Sector 6, Panchkula, celebrated an eco-friendly Divali on the school premises here on Sunday. A special assembly was held to create awareness among the pupils about the need to switch over to pollution free eco-friendly Divali. Jaya Bhardwaj, the Principal of the school, urged the student emphatically to celebrate Divali in the true spirit of the festival and to avoid bursting crackers. Crackers not only cause severe pollution of the environment but also cause noise pollution and act as health hazard. She stressed that many accidents take place whereby people get burn injuries and unfortunately, in some cases are burnt to death.
–– Tribune Reporters

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PU students continue protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 11
Adamant over their stand, the students protesting at Panjab University has refused to call off their protest unless the university rolls back the hike in food rates.

The spiraling cost of LPGs have led to Rs 6 hike in meals at PU hostels. The Vice-Chancellor also convened a meeting of a broad cross-section of the faculty to review the decision.

The university has explored various options an interim solution which envisages fixed meals at old rates; a long term solution that looks at unlimited meals at the enhanced rates; and a specific proposal to fully compensate the students belonging to the Economically Weaker Section (EWS), however, the students have turned down all the proposals.

To explore the possibility of roll back in food prices for all the students, the University has taken the initiative of writing to the Prime Minister, several other Ministers in the Union Cabinet, who are the alumni of this University, Secretaries of various Ministries such as Petroleum, MHRD, Finance, senior functionaries of the UT Administration, etc. A letter has also been written to Chairman, UGC to incorporate the issue of fuel subsidy for residents in university hostels in the Higher Education Budget of the Central Government as a part of the National Policy on Education.

The University authorities also appealed the students to call off their agitation in the larger interests of the mandate of the University.

The medical examination of 11 students sitting on hunger strike was also conducted by the doctors of PU’s health center who found five agitating students unfit and recommended that they should be shifted to the hospital.

Sources said that the Chief Security Officer (CSO) PK Dhawan wrote to the area police that the students should be immediately shifted to hospital to avoid any untoward situation.

The students were yet to be shifted to the hospital till the filing of the report.

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