C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Creches in city not cared for
Children bear the brunt as NGOs grapple with fiscal, infrastructure crises
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Imagine more than 25 children packed liked sardines in a small room that also houses a makeshift kitchen having utensils and an LPG cylinder! This sums up the state of affairs at a creche being run by an NGO under the Chandigarh Social Welfare Board in Sector 25 here.
Children spend a cold day on a thin mattress at a creche being managed by the Youth Technical Training Society in Sector 25.
Children spend a cold day on a thin mattress at a creche being managed by the Youth Technical Training Society in Sector 25. Tribune photos: Manoj Mahajan  

The small room also provides space for stocking food raw material, reading material and clothes of 30 children. The children spend almost the entire day in the room seated on a thin mattress even during the winter chill and learn the first lessons of their life.

The creches have turned "refugee camps" for children from slums and colonies. These neither provide enough space for the children's proper growth nor provide them with healthy nutrition due to the meagre budget allocation by the Central Government.

The annual budget of each creche run by the NGO includes Rs 2.08 per day per child for a "nutritious diet", Rs 2,000 for two workers and Rs 315 as the contingency fund. The budget allocation of the board is over Rs 1.69 lakh for 32 creches which are run under the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme in the city. A majority of the creches are in a shabby condition due to lack of funds with the NGOs which manage these.

After 2007, the budget for the creches has not been revised. Sources said in May this year, a proposal for the revision of the budget for the creches had been tabled and discussed, but no decision has been taken so far. Last year, a proposal was sent to the Union Ministry of Social Welfare for revising the budget of the creches. The board had suggested that the amount for nutrition diet should be raised to Rs 8 per child and the honorarium for helpers should be raised to Rs 5,000.

During a visit to a creche in Sector 25, being run by the Sewa Bharti Sewa Dham under the supervision of the board, caretaker Seema said the premises had been shifted to four places during the past one year as landlords did not allow them to stay for long because the NGO failed to pay the rent on time. She said the NGO failed to supply her with sufficient raw material for the monthly diet of 30 children which stayed in the creche. She said seeing its miserable condition, she had proposed to the NGO management to shut down the creche.

A majority of the creches in the city are facing similar problems. At another creche, run by the Youth Technical Training Society in Sector 25, caretaker Renu said it had become difficult for the NGO to meet the basic needs of nutrition of children due to the meagre budget.

At a recent meeting with Kamlesh, chairperson of the welfare board, representatives of creches took up the issue of meagre grant for refreshments for children aged between three and five years. They also pointed out that since most of the creches were being run from rented accommodations and the NGOs concerned were not getting any funds to pay the rent, managing these had become difficult. Besides, it was difficult to find professional helpers for a meagre honorarium of Rs 1,000 for the creches. 



Mayor's report card-3
UT saw its worst-ever water crisis this year
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
City residents faced the worst-ever water crisis during the one-year tenure of Mayor Raj Bala Malik, which ends on December 31.
This year, even residents staying on ground floors faced a water crisis.

During the summer, due to low water pressure, overhead water tanks mostly remained empty. The situation was similar in slums. Due to a shortage of water in the slums, there were often reports of quarrels between slum-dwellers over fetching water from public taps.

The water crisis continued during the winter as well. The municipal corporation has failed miserably to start the afternoon water supply, which was stopped in May to deal with the summer water crisis. It is probably for the first time that the MC has failed to start the afternoon water supply even in December.

Gopal Joshi, general secretary of the Electricity Colony Welfare Association, Sector 28, said this summer there was an acute shortage of water in their colony. People staying on upper floors were the worst affected, he said.

“I don’t know why the authorities are not starting the afternoon water supply during the winter. Is there still a shortage of water?” Joshi said.

Swaran Singh Kamboj, president of the UT Cadre Educational Employees Union, said he was a resident of Sector 20 and stayed on the ground floor. He also faced a water crisis. He termed it as a complete failure of the municipal corporation.

“Public representatives and officials of the MC and the UT should be held accountable for the shortage of water in the city,” Shiv Singh, a resident of Sector 38 West, said.

Mayor Raj Bala Malik said this year the MC had approved six sites for underground reservoirs in Sectors 29-C, 31-D, 39-B, 46-C, 47-A and 48-C. In the coming time, the water crisis in these areas would hopefully be solved, she said.

Water leakage

The municipal corporation does not have any "instrument" to keep a check on leakage or bursting of pipelines. An MC official said as a majority of the pipelines were now covered under roads due to widening and laying of paver blocks, the department was helpless as it could not manually monitor underground water leakages.

No consensus on water

The Punjab and Haryana governments failed to reach a consensus on sharing of water under the Kajauli water supply scheme, according to the minutes of a meeting that were recently submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. At present, the UT Administration is drawing 80 million gallons of water per day from the Bhakra main line, Kajauli. This is being partly used in Mohali, Panchkula and the Chandimandir Cantonment. Chandigarh alone uses 67 million gallons of the 80 million gallons. The UT has been demanding additional supply of 40 million gallons per day from the Bhakra main line, Kajauli, but Punjab and Haryana are at loggerheads on this issue. 



Deshraj walks out of jail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
After spending 55 days behind bars, suspended UT SP Deshraj Singh today walked out of the Burail jail. He was granted bail by the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday.

He came out of the jail at 2 pm today after the jail authorities received the court orders.

He seemed confident while walking out of the jail and was holding a book in his hand. Wearing a sweater and blue jeans, Deshraj was whisked away by policemen to his car waiting for him outside the jail gate.

The suspended IPS officer did not speak to mediapersons outside the jail and at his residence in Sector 23. One of his relatives and a friend accompanied him as he headed straight to his residence.

At home, he was greeted by his wife, who performed puja. His well-wishers, including some police officers, visited his residence all through the day.

Deshraj Singh was lodged in the jail on October 19 and was staying in barrack number 10 with other inmates, including sub-inspector Naveen Sharma, who was caught taking a bribe of Rs 5 lakh by the CBI. The 2008-batch IPS officer was arrested on October 18 while allegedly taking Rs 1 lakh as bribe from Sector 26 police station inspector Anokh Singh.



Ailing girl needs help

Chandigarh, December 14
A 17-year-old girl is in need of Rs 1.5 lakh for the treatment of an aggressive giant tumour in one of her knees. The girl, Kusum, belongs to Bassi Pathana village of Fatehgarh Sahib district. Her father works in a small mill and can not afford to pay for the surgery.

Those interested in offering financial aid to the family can deposit the money in the poor patient cell of the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, via a cheque issued on the patient’s name. Dr Sudhir, head of the orthopaedics department, can also be contacted for this purpose on 9646121591. — TNS



20 Illegal structures removed
Had come up near Daria village in violation of Periphery Control Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
In a five-hour-long drive, around 20 illegal structures were today demolished by the enforcement staff of the Land Acquisition Collector (LAC) on the outskirts of Daria village here.

The structures, mainly housing warehouses, had come up in violation of the Periphery Control Act. Some of the demolished structures had come up in the last few months, indicating lack of supervision on part of the field staff in checking the unregulated growth on the agricultural land. During the drive, however, the reinforced cement concrete (RCC) structures at some of the sites were not touched.

One of the affected traders said the demolition drive had become an annual feature. “Due to cheaper commercial rents, lax bylaws and proximity to the Chandigarh Railway Station, a number of illegal warehouses have come up in Daria and the neighbouring areas. The Chandigarh Administration, however, is undecided on the pending project to relocate the godowns,” he said.

Facing little resistance, the demolition squad with help of four JCBs and a strong posse of policemen brought down the structures. Though the godowns had come up in violation of the Periphery Act, the owners had been demanding regularisation of their structures.

Tilak Raj, Land Acquisition Collector (LAC), said the violators had been given notices before carrying out the drive. The violators had been warned to stop illegal construction but after they failed to stop the same, the drive had to be carried out.

Vijay Kumar Singla, vice-chairman of the UT Trades Cell, said despite earning tax from the godowns, the UT had not framed any policy for them. Quoting figures, traders said the raw material from the godowns was feeding around 4,000 industrial units in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.

UT sits on project to relocate godowns

During the tenure of previous Governor Gen SF Rodrigues, the UT had decided to relocate the warehouses dotting different villages on the western and eastern rim of the city.

Against the initial plan to acquire around 100 acres in Daria village, the Town Planning Department had proposed to relocate the godowns on 150 acres acquired for the Industrial Area, Phase III, in Mauli Jagran and Raipur Kalan villages. The project, however, never took off.

The proposed relocation site falls on route no 2 to Panchkula and will have direct access to the Chandigarh-Ambala road. The upcoming railway overbridge on the Chandigarh-Ambala railway track at Mauli Jagran will further facilitate the freight movement.


10% hike in exam fee on the cards
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Panjab University is mulling over a 10 per cent hike in examination fee and in the rates of examination-related application forms from the next academic session.
The proposal for the revised fee structure will be tabled before the Syndicate in its meeting tomorrow. The policy relating to the Central Placement Cell (CPC) will also be discussed during the meeting.

The Vice-Chancellor in anticipation of the approval has given a nod to the revised rates of examination fee, charged at the undergraduate and postgraduate level, and the cost of applications forms for compartment and improvement.

Meanwhile the proposal relating to the CPC, also to be tabled before the house, suggests an annual fee of Rs 145 as the placement charges. Every department would also have to inform the CPC about the total number of students.

The university has decided that each department will have to create a placement brochure carrying details of the department, faculty and profile of students which will be uploaded on the university server. “The departments will have to develop e-brochures which can be easily sent to the employers,” said an official.

As per the decision, the departments will not be paid any fund for their visit to the outstation employers, and even the outstation employers visiting the campus will not be paid except for their lodging at PU’s guest house.

Other issues to be tabled before the Syndicate include the sanction sought by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Jaipur, to prosecute a professor of the pharmacy department, and halting of the upgradation of syllabus and examination-related work of Indian languages — Malayalam, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali — as there are no students who have opted for these subjects in the recent years.



VC ‘out of bounds’, staff hold protest
PU students irked too, say he should set priorities right
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
Irked over not getting an appointment with the Vice-Chancellor for the last 15 days, the non-teaching staff of Panjab University today staged a protest outside the administrative block.

Panjab University Staff Association (PUSA) president Deepak Kaushik said that as the VC stresses on a prior appointment to meet him, the association wrote to him on November 29 seeking an appointment. The association, however, did not get any reply from the VC office till December 10, Kaushik said.

“When I approached the VC office, I was told that a delegation of non-teaching employees can meet the VC on December 14; however, a day before the meeting, we were told that the VC is busy and won’t be able to meet us,” he said.

“Many decisions that were taken in the Senate meeting held in March are still pending. We wanted to discuss these issues with the VC before the next Senate meeting to be held on December 22,” Kaushik said.

He further said that addressing the problems faced by students, teaching and non-teaching staff should be the VC’s priority.

The situation is no different with the PU students, who also have been complaining about the unavailability of the VC whenever they try to meet him.

The Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) president Manoj Lubana said that every time they want to meet the VC, they have to take an appointment. “I feel the students are the most important part of this varsity, and they should be given priority while scheduling these meetings,” Lubana said.

Panjab University Students’ Union (PUSU) leader Sumit Gokhlaney said that the VC should not stress on appointments, especially for meeting the students hailing from the far-flung areas, who visit the campus for some genuine reasons. “Once, a student from Punjab had come to meet the VC for a special permission to get late admission to MEd. That student had to wait for an hour outside the VC office, and it was only after I intervened, the work was done,” he said.

Despite repeated attempts, Vice-Chancellor Arun Grover could not be contacted for comments.



Dept wants traders to give UID numbers while filing returns
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The UT Excise and Taxation Department will be encouraging traders to provide their UID numbers while filing their tax returns. The move will help the department while crosschecking details of an individual or a company.

“Though it is not mandatory at the moment to furnish the UID number, the move will help in preparing for the future when a central database of UIDs will become the backbone of every department. The integration of the UIDs with all the public-related works is going on in a big way at the national level,” said the UT Finance Secretary, VK Singh, while launching the e-registration module of the UT excise department today.

The e-registration module would enable the traders to apply online. The online facility requires submitting of documents electronically for any new registration. The file will go to the particular Taxation Inspector of that ward and he will check all the documents and forward it to the ETO electronically.

SPIC has developed this integrated web-based application. It will reduce official-dealer interface and ensure reduced response time, faster service delivery, reduced transaction cost, increased transparency and increased accountability.

The Food and Supplies Department and the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) are already using the data available on UID cards to verify the credentials of all the applicants.



Colourful start to chrysanthemum show
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The annual chrysanthemum show began here today at Terraced Garden, Sector 33. More than 265 varieties of chrysanthemums are being displayed here.
The show, which will remain open till December 16, was inaugurated by Anil Kumar, Home Secretary, Chandigarh. He also released a brochure dedicated to the show and went around the garden, along with Raj Bala Malik, Mayor, VP Singh, Municipal Commissioner, and other officers of the corporation.

The chief guest applauded the efforts of the officials of the Municipal Corporation for organising such a beautiful show. He also distributed sweets among underprivileged children on the occasion.

A cultural programme was organised by the students of Gurukul Global School, Sector 20, Panchkula.



Police steps up vigil outside discotheques
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 14
The Chandigarh Police has stepped up security outside various discotheques in the city.
The step has been taken after a recent incident involving a girl who wasfound in an unconscious state after consuming excessive alcohol.

Two PCR gypsys have been deployed outside discotheques in Sectors 35, 43, 26 and 9 to ensure that all discos are closed at 1 AM on weekdays and 2 AM on weekends.

The police has stepped up vigil outside discos under the supervision of DSP Roshan Lal.



Vedic math workshop held

Mohali, December 14
A workshop on Vedic math was organised for class X students of St. Soldier International School, Phase 7.
Students learnt how to improve their performance and how to tackle numerical problems.

Dheeraj Sood, the resource person, spoke about time-saving techniques for students facing difficulties in studies. — OC



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