C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Strike cripples life in tricity
Buses remain off road; banking and postal services hit; industry suffers loss of Rs 300 cr
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Life was disrupted in the tricity on the first day of a two-day nationwide strike called by central trade unions in support of their demands, including steps to control price rise and strict enforcement of labour laws.

The strike affected electricity supply, besides transport, banking and postal services. The sanitation services at the PGI were also hit. The industry in the tricity reportedly suffered a loss of around Rs 300 crore due to the strike.
Members of trade unions hold a protest in Sector 17 during a strike on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan
Members of trade unions hold a protest in Sector 17 during a strike on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Manoj Mahajan

Customers and businessmen, who were aware of the strike call, had made arrangements accordingly, but there were many others who visited banks only to find the branches closed. ATMs functioned smoothly today, but may run out of cash on the second day of the strike tomorrow.

Bus services to various destinations were suspended, leading to inconvenience to people in the tricity. Various associations of the banking, power and transport sectors organised rallies and protests as part of the strike.

Transport services were affected. Buses were lined up at the the ISBT-43 the ISBT-17 with drivers and conductors refusing to take off for their respective destinations. Buses on several routes to Punjab and Haryana remained off the road due to the strike.

The sanitation services at the PGI were hit as sweepers suspended work and went on strike. The strike, however, received a lukewarm response at the Government Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, and Government Multi-Speciality Hospital, Sector 16.

Chander Verma, an industrialist, said though the strike was only for two days, it would affect business and banking transactions for almost a week. The common man, who was already suffering due to price rise, would ultimately have to bear the brunt of the strike.

The Powermen's Union also participated in the strike. Employees organised protest rallies and raised slogans against the government.

Gopal Dutt Joshi, general secretary of the union, criticised the "anti-employee and anti-people" privatisation policies of the government. The union also opposed the contractual system of employment.

The police had taken measures to prevent any untoward incident during the strike. DSP (Central) Ashish Kapoor said they had deployed around 750 policemen at various places in the city as a preventive measure. 



Teachers' strike disrupts classes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Teaching remained suspended for two-hours in various private colleges as a part of the strike called by, All India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisations (AIFCUTO). The classrooms wore a deserted look with students missing the classes.

The strike was called in order to express the solidarity of trade unions and highlight the problems being faced by the higher education sector. Suhhjit Singh, a students of DAV College, said, the classes remained suspended from 9 am to 11 am in their college, following which they skipped the remaining classes also.
Members of the Panjab University Teachers Association during a strike on Wednesday.  Tribune Photo: Parvesh Chauhan
Members of the Panjab University Teachers Association during a strike on Wednesday.  Tribune Photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Although the strike was for two hours, the classes held during rest of the the day witnessed a lukewarm response from the students.

A student from Sri Guru Gobind Singh College, Sector 26, where the strike was observed between 11 am to 1pm, said that most of the students left the college earlier, when they got know about the strike. “There were lesser students who attended the other classes”, a student said.

While the teaching at the colleges was disrupted due to the strike, the university teachers joined the protest between 11 am to 1 pm joined the protest.

PUTA president Mohammed Khalid said, only those teachers who were free at that time, joined the protest.

Dr Jagwant Singh, Vice-President, AIFCUTO, said that teachers' organisations were concerned about contractual appointments in the university system, exploitation of young teachers and the proposal to start institution for profit during the 12th Five Year Plan.

He said that it was unfortunate that thousands of teaching positions were lying vacant and young teachers were being exploited by the way of contractual appointments.



Commuters, students at receiving end
CTU to resume services in city today; long-route buses may ply depending on decision of other unions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Twentythree-year-old Shikha Sharma's whole day was wasted today. She had come to the city from Zirakpur to meet her relative, who has been admitted to PGI. She kept waiting for a CTU bus, as auto-rickshaw drivers were charging double the fare, At last she had to return without visiting her relative.

Hundreds of other commuters were stranded at the city bus stand due to the strike by the CTU employees. The so-called crisis management of the CTU authorities failed to provide any relief to commuters, who were left at the mercy of rickshaw-pullers and auto-rickshaw drivers who charged exorbitant rates.

President of the CTU Workers Union Bhupinder Singh stated that their union supported the strike call. He said the local CTU services will be resumed tomorrow and if the Punjab and Haryana transport unions called off their strike, then long-route buses would also ply. This decision was taken to avoid inconvenience to commuters tomorrow. Today, their strike started at 9:30 am and was called off at 5 pm.

Chaos prevailed at the ISBTs in sectors 17 and 43 for the whole day. Commuters were seen impatiently waiting for the strike to end. No CTU bus was allowed to move out of both the ISBTs. The staff raised slogans in support of their demands and laid a siege to the two ISBTs.

Taniya of class VIII said she boarded a bus for her school in Sector 23 from Sector 48 but in the afternoon after waiting for half an hour at the bus stop, her friend told her that no bus would arrive due to the strike. She had to call her elder brother, who was working in a private company to drop her at home. 

This is for the second time in the last two months that the staff of various departments have gone on strike, which causes harassment to commuters in the city. Strangely, rather than holding talks with the staff about their grievances, the administration is in a deep slumber and not taking any action to address their problems. — Ravinder Kaur, a resident of Sector 36

I have come to the city for an interview for a job at Mani Majra at noon. But, owing to the strike I failed to reach the place on time. The auto-rickshaw drivers are charging fare according to their wishes. It is strange that the administration have not made any standby arrangements in this hour of crisis. — Vijay Ghai, a resident of Ludhiana

It became a struggle for me to reach my place in Zirakpur today as I waited at the bus stand to board the bus but due to strike no service was available. Resultantly, I had to call my father to pick me up so that I could prepare for my internal exams which were scheduled for tomorrow. — Nitish Kumar, 10+2 student of Sector 16

I, along with my wife and daughter, have come from Baddi to attend a religious ceremony at my relative's place in Dadu Majra. We have been struggling since morning to reach the destination on time. After a hectic journey from Baddi to Chandigarh, the struggle continues in the city also. — Suman Kumar, a resident of Baddi



Jolt to Admn as MHA refuses to lift ban on land acquisition
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The Chandigarh Administration has suffered a major jolt with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) refusing to give any relaxation in the ban on land acquisition.

The Administration had requested the MHA to lift the ban on land acquisition. Senior officials had placed their views before MHA officials at a meeting in New Delhi recently.

The MHA has told the Administration that even for smaller projects, it will have to submit its cases before the ministry, which will take a decision on a case-to-case basis.

The Administration had recently written to the ministry, requesting for permission or relaxation in the ban to enable it to acquire land for important projects hanging fire for the past many years. In a letter sent to the Administration on August 26, 2011, the MHA had directed it to put all land acquisitions on hold.

The Administration was planning to acquire 1.89 acres for the widening of a road from the railway light point at Daria village and 3.32 acres for providing connectivity between Daria and Mauli Jagran. The authorities intend to acquire another 2.12 acres for the widening of a V3 road on Paschim Marg between Sector 38 and Sector 38 (West) and for upgrading the infrastructure in Shahpur village.

The project of laying storm water drainage for 169 one-room tenements in Mauli Jagran has been stuck due to the ban. The authorities plan to acquire 5.53 acres at Hallo Majra for linking the airfield and the transit camp.

Some other projects which are yet to take off include development of community centre-cum-vocational training institutes at Hallo Majra, an additional route from CITCO sheds to Hallo Majra village, identification and procurement of a new dumping site for future use and allotment of land to the Welfare Rehabilitation Board of the ITBP.

Projects hanging fire

Acquisition of 1.89 acres for widening a road from the railway light point

Acquisition of 2.12 acres for widening a V3 road on Paschim Marg

Land for laying storm water drainage in Mauli Jagran

Development of community centre-cum-vocational training institutes at Hallo Majra

An additional route from CITCO sheds to Hallo Majra village

Identification and procurement of a new dumping site for future use

Allotment of land to the Welfare Rehabilitation Board of the ITBP



Mystery shrouds death of nurse 
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 20
A 22-year-old nurse was found dead under mysterious circumstances at a children’s home (Shishu Greh) in Sector 15, Panchkula, last night.

The nurse, who hailed from Rohtak, was allegedly injected with a poisonous substance before her death. Needle marks were found on both arms of the victim by doctors who conducted the postmortem. Sources said during the postmortem, semen was found on the victim’s body.

“She gave medicines to children and after having dinner, she went to her room. A staff member saw her sleeping without a quilt. She called her, but the victim did not respond,” said an employee at the Home on condition of anonymity.

He said, “The nurse was taken to the General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, where she was declared brought dead.”

CCTV cameras are installed in all rooms of the Home and the police is likely to take the help of these during the investigation.

“Injury marks have been found on the body during the postmortem. Needle marks have been found on both arms of the nurse,” said a doctor at the General Hospital.

“We are conducting an inquiry under Section 174 of the CrPC. The body has been handed over to the victim’s family, which has taken it to Rohtak for cremation,” said Inspector Lalit Kumar, SHO of the Sector 14 police station.

Sources said semen was found on the girl’s body and the police was working on various theories.



Need for developing basic amenities, says Haryana CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20.
There is an urgent need to improve delivery systems and mechanism to provide basic amenities and essential services like water, sanitation, housing, solid waste management, electricity and power besides infrastructure support like road and rail network and a reliable communication network, to match up with the rapid pace of urbanisation. This was stated by Haryana Chief Minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, while inaugurating the CII - ICRIER Knowledge Dissemination Workshop on Urbanisation at CII here today.

"Water is one of the most critical resources on earth and needs to be utilized very efficiently. The drip irrigation and sprinkle irrigation should be adopted completely in our farms instead of flood irrigation", he said, adding that they were all set to provide 1.5 lakh urban houses for Below Poverty line (BPL) people and around 2 lakh BPL houses in rural areas.

The workshop was jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Indian Council for Research on International Economic

Relations (ICRIER) aimed to bring on table, the issues and challenges concerning the Urban Infrastructure and Services and share the best practices.

"Huge investments, better governance, planning, innovation, PPP mode, implementation of projects in urban sector and developing and strengthening the urban - rural linkages is a must to attain a sustainable growth rate of eight per cent", emphasised Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia, Chairperson, ICRIER and Urbanisation Project Leader at the CII - ICRIER workshop on urbanisation.

"The states of Punjab and Haryana need to develop proper linkages between its various small, medium and big towns, villages and cities, create enabling environment for private sector investments, strengthen its municipal corporations and safeguard environment to attain and sustain 7-8 per cent growth rate", she added.

Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation, Punjab, shared Water Supply and Sanitation Good Governance Initiatives in Punjab. 


IT park: Curtains come down on Phase III
UT Administration decides against filing review petition against Apex Court’s order 
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The curtains finally came down on the Phase III of the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park, a dream project of the UT Administration, with the Legal Department being suggested not to file a review petition against the Supreme Court’s order.

In October last year the Supreme Court had quashed the acquisition of 272 acres for the proposed Phase III of the IT Park.

Thereafter, the UT officials had decided to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. They had sought legal opinion of the Legal Remembrancer, Chandigarh Administration.

UT’s Finance Secretary VK Singh said they would not file the review petition, as the Legal Remembrancer had recommended against it.

Meanwhile, the UT Administration is yet to collect a compensation of around Rs 5 crore that was already paid to land owners. Of the 200 landowners, whose land was acquired, 35 have already been compensated by the Administration.

There were more than 200 landowners, whose land was to be acquired for the phase III of the IT Park. Thirty-five of these accepted the compensation amount of Rs 18.75 lakh per acre announced by the Administration. Remaining landowners had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the land acquisition process.

Supreme Court order in October last year was a major blow to the Administration’s hopes of attracting investments worth more than Rs 2,500 crore, software export of Rs 2,500 crore and generating employment opportunities for over 35,000 IT professionals through the third phase of the IT Park.

Brief history

During the tenure of former UT Administrator Gen SF Rodrigues (retd), the Administration had started acquiring land for the IT Park, Phase III. The notifications to acquire 272 acres were issued in June 2006, August 2006 and Feb 2007. Thereafter, the media reported anomalies in the land acquisition and the MHA ordered a special audit on various projects of the UT administration.

The audit raised objections to the land acquired for the third phase and submitted the report to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The landowners moved court, but in March 2011, the HC rejected their petitions.

They then moved the Supreme Court, which on October 12, 2012, quashed the land acquisition for the IT Park expansion. The award of Rs 18.75 lakh per acre announced by the administration was criticised by the landowners. 



DSPs on deputation from Delhi get charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Five Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs) who joined the UT police on deputation from Delhi last month were given formal posting today. The postings were affected after a meeting of the Police Establishment Board.

DSP Surjit Singh Malik has been designated as Sub Division Police Officer (South). DSP BS Negi has been made in charge of the Police Control Room (PCR).

DSP Ram Chander Meena has been given charge of the DSP Economic Offences Wing while DSP Kamla Devi Meena has been given charge of the Woman and Child Support Unit of the UT police.

DSP BS Chadha and DSP Vijay Kumar (on deputation from Delhi) have been designated as Assistant Commandant IRB.

With the new postings, Roshan Lal, DSP (Communication), stands relieved of the Additional Charge of the PCR. Anil Joshi, DSP (CID), stands relieved of the additional charge of the EOW. BS Chadha, Assistant Commmandant IRB-II, will continue 
to hold the additional charge of the Chandigarh Home Guards.

Yesterday, DSP JL Meena was given the charge of DSP Vigilance.

Meanwhile, the MHA has ordered stay on the transfer orders of UT SP RS Ghumman and he will continue to stay here till his retirement which is due in 18 months. The SP was transferred to Arunachal Pradesh in December.



Demolition drive cancelled for want of police force
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
After a protest by the Khuda Lahora residents against the demolition drive of the UT Estate Office, the authorities cancelled it to avoid any disturbance in the area.

A senior official of the department said due to the strike in the city, the authorities failed to get adequate police force to conduct the demolition drive.

Sources in the department said though the machinery was all set for the drive, as there were chances of disturbance and adequate police force was not deployed, the drive was cancelled.

More than 1,200 residents staged protest in the village from 7 am to 12 pm today. They said the demolition drive was being conducted without issuing any notices to them.

Khuda Lahora sarpanch Balwinder Singh said due to some confusion among the administration and the Estate Office over the approval of plans, the residents were facing the heat. He said residents are clueless about the authority from which they should get plans approved.

Recently, the administration asserted that it was the duty of the block development and panchayat office, while the BDO, in a reply to an RTI query, stated he did not have any authority for the same.

Khuda Jasu sarpanch Rakesh Sharma said it was not fair to conduct the drive without issuing notices. He said about a year ago, the authorities had assured them that a policy would be framed for the planning, but till date no action had been taken on it. 



Camelot project falls in catchment area of lake, claims amicus curiae
Refers to Tata’s affidavit placed before HC’s Division Bench
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Referring to the reply given by Tata, amicus curiae in the Save Sukhna case Tanu Bedi has claimed that the company’s Camelot housing project falls in the catchment area.

In an affidavit placed before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Bedi referred to the earlier affidavit of the company, in which officials of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest had stated the project came under the catchment area of the lake. The area where the project has to come up lie in a highly sensitive zone as per the master plan, she added.

Tanu also told the Bench headed by Chief Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri that among the issues required to be deliberated upon was whether the project fell in the catchment area. She added the previous orders passed by court in the Tata Camelot case were being misinterpreted and applied to the current case, which was entirely different. The earlier case was on the validity of the project, while the current case was on the issue of saving Sukhna Lake, she said.

She added the other issues need to be deliberated included whether there was an immediate need to constitute a specific authority comprising of experts, and whether there was any need for modification of orders dated May 14, 2012, and March 14, 2011, thereby vacating the stay on construction activities in the area.

She added the flood gates were old and leaked, and the UT Administration was not doing enough to clean them periodically. She said despite the existence of wildlife sanctuary in the area, it was not declared an ecologically sensitive zone.

The High Court had earlier asked chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana to put their heads together with Adviser to the UT Administrator to find an alternative source of water supply to Sukhna Lake. The directions came after the UT said water could not reach the Sukhna Lake from the catchment area due to the deficient rain. The High Court had also asked the Chandigarh Administration to release water from the check dams into the lake.

The Bench had also refused to vacate the stay on construction in the lake’s catchment area, even though a demand for the same was raised by a law officer of Punjab. It had also sought a report on the authorised and unauthorised construction till March 14 last year, when building activity of any kind in the catchment area was prohibited.



Nishant  case
Parents identify kidnappers
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 20
In the infamous Nishant kidnapping case, parents of the child today identified the kidnappers before the court.

Nishant’s father Anil Kumar and mother Sarita told the court how the kidnappers struck a friendly conversation with Sarita and asked her to drink water till the time they would take care of the child. But when Sarita returned, the couple had fled with the child.

Nishant, who has turned two, was also present in the court.

In September 28, 2011, Nishant, who was then ten months old, was kidnapped by a couple in Mansa Devi Temple during the Navratra festival.

After a gap of four months, the Panchkula police had found Nishant in the custody of Kashmir Singh (32), a rickshaw puller, and his lover Arti.

During interrogation, it was revealed that in a bid to show that they were married and had a child, they abducted Nishant from the temple.

Much to Kashmeer Singh’s chagrin, the ploy failed to work as Arti’s husband forced her to come with him despite Arti and Kashmir claiming that Nishant was their child. Later, Kashmir sold the child to his neighbour for Rs 75,000.



Committee oblivious of other patients' medical condition, says PGI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
In the alleged case of medical negligence resulting in Anupama Sarkar's death, last year, the PGIMER (respondent) today told the UT Consumer Forum that the external committee, which concluded that priority should be given to Anupama's surgery, was oblivious of medical condition of other patients.

In a written reply filed before the Forum today, the PGIMER also stated that, had the priority been rearranged and any mishap had occurred with regard to some other patient, it would have definitely put the institute in trouble so far as its liability in civil and criminal law was concerned.

"The conclusion of the Committee that priority in the case of Anupama could have been rearranged, is oblivious of the clinical condition of many other patients for which the best judge at the relevant point would be the concerned attending doctors", stated the PGI further, in its reply to the Forum.

Anupama, a 15-year-old girl died at the PGIMER in July, last year. Her left leg was crushed under the rear tyre of a CTU bus and she was rushed to the PGIMER for treatment. In August, last year, her parents had filed a complaint against the PGI and CTU alleging negligence at the hands of the two parties.

Following Anupama's death, an external probe committee was formed to look into the cause of her death. The committee headed by Dr SS Gill, Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, had submitted its report to the PGI Director in December last year, concluding "Error of Judgement" by treating team.

In its reply filed today, the PGIMER has also stated that the external probe committee concluded that there has been no individual negligence and no official can be blamed for delay, as the Operation Theatre was never free and patients with similar injuries who had come earlier to the patient in question (Anupama) were being operated sequentially.

Upon this, counsel for Anupama's parents, Advocate Pankaj Chandgothia, replied that, "it is not necessary to implead or pin-point the particular guilty treating doctor in a case of medical negligence. Once an allegation is made that the patient was admitted in a particular hospital and evidence is produced to satisfy that he/she died because of lack of proper care and negligence, then the burden lies on the hospital to justify that there was no negligence".

The case is scheduled for verbal arguments on March 5. Anupama's parents have demanded a compensation of Rs 85 lakh.



No postal deliveries made in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Postal services in the city crippled today as around 1,200 employees went on strike. No mail was delivered by the postal staff in the city. Around 1,500 employees of the departments of post, income tax, central ground water board and Survey of India were on strike.

General secretary of the General Post Office Association Raspal Singh said no mail was distributed in the city by the postal staff. In fact, urgent office work also suffered due to the strike. About 90 per cent of the employees of the rail mail service were also on strike. He said a majority of postal offices located in the market places were also closed.

President of the Income Tax Employees' Federation, North West, PK Vasudeva said 100 per cent employees went on strike, which will continue tomorrow also. Around 260 employees participated in the strike.

BSNL circle president RL Moudgil said no complaints and requests for new phone or broad brand connections were entertained by the customer care centres. During a visit to a customer care centre in Sector 20 it was found that the visitors were informed by the BSNL staff about the strike at the entrance.



Power supply disrupted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
As 1,100 employees of the UT Electricity Department participated in the two-day strike, it took hours to restore power supply in many sectors, colonies and villages, where fault had occurred in the supply.

The most affected areas were Sector 23, 9, 47, 52, Maloya, NAC Mani Majra and Mauli Jagran. In the market area of Sector 23, power supply was disrupted around 10 am but the department failed to restore the power supply till evening. A similar situation was witnessed in many areas of Sector 9A and 9B.

An official of the department said as the employees were on strike, it took time to restore power supply to many areas. They had deployed contractual employees at complaint centres, he added.

Naresh Mahajan, president of the Sector 23 Market Association, said shopkeepers were forced to use power generators. They had complained to the SDO and the XEN but they expressed helplessness due to the strike, he added.

Gopal Joshi, general secretary, Powermen Union, said during the strike they did not attend any kind of repair and maintenance work.

Water supply to northern sectors hit

As the Municipal Corporation is carrying out repair work, the residents of Sector 10 and 11 had been without water supply for the past two days. Though the MC had announced that there would low pressure water supply in the city due to the maintenance work, in these sectors there was no water supply at all. Former city Mayor Rajbala Malik, who also resides in Sector 10, has been facing water shortage for the past two days. 



Strike set to cost banks crores
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Normal operations like cheque clearances, withdrawing and depositing of money of public sectors banks and 20 nationalised banks, including State Bank of India, Punjab National Bank, Oriental Bank of Commerce, were hit in the city as the employees of the banks went on 48-hour general strike beginning today.

The suspension of banking activities has an impact on financial transactions worth of crores.

As per an estimate, the financial transaction via cheques will cost a loss to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore to the banks across tricity. An official informed that a cheque issued for today would be sent for clearance on Saturday, (a day after the strike gets over,) and would be credited in the account by Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

It was, as usual, business at private banks, but there were of no relief for common man, especially the old pensioners and government employees, who have their salary accounts with key public sector banks.

An octogenarian IK Joshi, standing in front of Bank of Baroda, Sector 17, said he was in an urgent need of money. But he had no ATM card so he would not be able to withdraw money from the bank due to the strike.

“We should have been informed about it at least a week in advance so that we could have pre-planned our affairs,” said Surinder Kumar, who came here at SBI, Sector 17 branch, to deposit his pension related documents.

Employees of the banks gathered at Bank Square, Sector 17, to mark their protest against the Central government’s unfavorable policies like bank reforms, pay revision, labour laws and other issues.

“As many as 150 branches of nearly 25 public sector and nationalised banks were off in the city and more than 15,000 banks employees would remain on strike till Friday,” said HBS Batra, local convenor of the United Forum of Bank Union, an umbrella organisation comprising all India officers as well as employees association.

All India Bank officers Confederation joint secretary MK Virmani said the protest might have caused some inconvenience to people but it was for the public interest only.

Meanwhile, the ATMs were operating as usual. A senior bank official said the banks had replenished ATMs to meet the requirements in these two days.

Even as there is fear some of the ATMs going dry by tomorrow morning, the working of several private banks is expected to mitigate the situation, said officials. 



Lukewarm response to bandh call in Mohali
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 20
The call for a two-day Bharat Bandh by major trade unions in support of their demands, including checking price rise, creation of more jobs and halting disinvestment in the public sector enterprises, received a lukewarm response here today. There were no reports of violence by protesters.

Services were paralysed in the public sector banks though private banks remained open in the town. The call had little impact on shops and other commercial establishments in various phases. Schools and colleges functioned normally.

Hardeep Singh, a resident of Phase III A, said he faced difficulty as he urgently wanted to operate a bank locker for some important documents but found the bank closed.

The plying of taxis, auto-rickshaws and private vehicles was unaffected by the bandh call. However, the CTU buses were not seen on the roads and the functioning of the BSNL was hit.

President of the Mohali Industries Association Anurag Aggarwal said there was no disruption of work in the industrial sector.

Lakha Singh, Mohali circle president of the Technical Services Union of Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd, said his union members observed a total bandh. 



Sanitation a casualty on PGI campus
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Sanitation was a casualty at the PGIMER on Wednesday as a majority of contract workers (about 1,600), including safai karamcharis, went on strike. Toilets in all the buildings remained dirty and dustbins could be seen lying in the middle of the ramps and floors in the New OPD block and other buildings.

In the absence of nearly 60 sweepers deputed in the New OPD block, waste material could be seen lying all over, including the passages. The New OPD block witnesses the highest number of patients. More than 3,000 patients visit the block everyday. There were no hospital attendants to assist them. A similar situation prevailed in other buildings. The workers suspended work at 6 am. The strike continued for the entire day.

“The toilet at the ground floor was very untidy. It increases the risk of infection among visitors. The toilets here are generally not as untidy as they were today. There must be some alternative arrangements for cleaning toilets during such strikes,” said a patient’s attendant, Neeru Duggal, at the Nehru Hospital.

Nearly 1,600 contractual workers held a rally at the institute and later joined a major demonstration in Sector 23.

Officials at the PGIMER claimed that emergency services, OPDs and indoor services functioned as per schedule in the complex. According to the contingency plan, the hospital attendants and sanitation attendants, from within and outside, had been deployed in different areas. With the cooperation of clinicians, paramedical and other staff the functioning at the PGI was near normal.

The number of patients registered in the New OPD block on Wednesday was 5,646 and till 4 pm nearly 160 major surgeries were performed in the OTs of the Emergency Complex, Trauma Centre, Nehru Hospital, Advanced Paediatric Centre, Advanced Eye Centre and Advanced Cardiac Centre. 



Experts dwell on art, its history
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The third day of the Amrita Sher-Gil National Art Week witnessed artist Sheba Chhachhi, presenting a slide lecture on the Politics of Contemplation, here at the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Sector 10.

Kavita Singh, art historian, curator and editor also presented a slide lecture followed by dialogue between both of them in the end. Delhi-based Sheba Chhachhi is known for both site-specific public art and independent works that investigate gender, ecology, violence and personal and collective memory.

Her presentation today recuperated ancient iconography, myth and visual traditions to calibrate an enquiry into the contemporary moment. Her photographic work gave a glimpse of marginal worlds of women, mendicants, and forgotten forms of labour.

Kavita Singh, an Associate Professor at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, has done a lot of research on Sikh art, Indian folk and courtly painting and the history of museums in India, the glimpse of which was seen in her slide lecture.

Trained as an art historian at MS University of Baroda (MFA, 1987) and Panjab University, Chandigarh (PhD 1996), she did a research and curatorial fellowships at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Asia Society, and the Clark Art Institute, and has been guest curator at the San Diego Museum of Art.



Trends in democracy discussed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The Department of Political Science, DAV College, Sector 10, Chandigarh, organised a lecture on “Recent Advances in democracy with special reference to India’ by Prof TR Sharma, former Professor and Head of the Department of Political Science, Panjab University.

Dr Sharma said that the time had come when citizens should shift from voting democracy to deliberative democracy.

Dr Sharma stressed the need of democracy where a common man had a larger role to play than mere a right to vote after five years.

The lecture was attended by a large number of students and faculty members. Later, Dr Ghanshyam Dev, Head of Department of Political Science concluded the lecture.



Six constables rewarded for swift action
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The police department today rewarded six PCR personnel for their swift action in tracing a car minutes after thieves stole it from a house in Sector 20 on February 18.

Inspector General of Police RP Upadhyaya rewarded constables Dalbir Singh, Sanjay, Sushil, Sunil, Mukesh and Manjit with Rs 1,000 each and a commendation certificate.

Within 30 minutes of a Zen car being stolen, they recovered the car and arrested four thieves. 



Rs 78 lakh aid for 52 cancer patients
Our Correspondent

Mohali, February 20
A sum of Rs 78 lakh has been given as financial help to 52 persons suffering from cancer in Mohali district.

Civil Surgeon Dr Neelam Bhardwaj said about 64 cancer patients had filed applications for financial assistance and 52 of them got help from the Chief Minister’s Cancer Relief Fund. The remaining patients would also be given help to the tune of Rs 18 lakh soon.

She said officials of the health department examined 10.88 lakh students in 1,130 schools of the district. 



PO aspirants harassed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Candidates for the upcoming entrance test of the Probationary Officers (PO) today had a tough time reaching the local branches of the State Bank of India to pay their fees. Later, they came to know that they would have to wait for the next two days to pay their fees. A candidate has to submit his or her examination fee within two days of applying for the examination.

"The offices must have accepted our fees. The delay in accepting the fees will further delay the registration process. After two-days, I have to go through the entire process again. The exam is around the corner and further delay will lead to chaos," said Sunita Bhandari.

Another aspirant said: "I skipped my classes today to submit the fees on time. I hope the authorities will extend the date for submitting the examination fees," said Rakesh Kumar.

The last date for the offline-payment of fees is February 28. "Earlier, we were facing problems in downloading the form due to a technical snag. And now the strike has left us disappointed. The strike should not affect regular work," said Archana Gupta. 



PU history dept’s alumni meet today

Chandigarh, February 20
The alumni of the Department of History, Panjab University, will be organising a ‘Grand Homecoming’ at Gandhi Bhawan on the university campus at 10.30 am on February 21. 

Gagandeep Singh, President of the Aitihasiki, the association of the old students of the department, has asked all old students of the department to be a part of the occasion and share their memorable experiences and stories of their success. — TNS



Education Department introduces exam helpline
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
In order to help the students in relation to their board exams, UT Education Department has introduced a counselling helpline.

The department constituted a 19-members team of experts from different subjects for counselling and discussions of syllabus related issues as well as releasing the examination stress and strain from the students's minds.

The team comprised officers, principals, headmaster, lecturer and a subject expert in vocational education, to deal with examinations stress and anxiety of the students.

The helpline will remain open w.e.f. February 20 till March 31. Any student can contact any of the said officials between 2.00 p.m. to 7.30 p.m.

“The information has been sent to all the heads of schools to display it on their respective notice boards and accordingly inform the students about it", said the officials. Any student whether from government or private schools may contact the panel of the experts appointed by the department, they added.

A team of the experts, included Deputy DEO Suman Sharma (9888940715), Raghav Kumari, Principal (9888721239), Nirmal Singh, Principal (9888038311), Sunil Bedi, Subject Expert (9815761502), Dharampal, Headmaster (9216411063) Sarita Tiwari, Lecturer English (7837335833), Devinder Singh, Lecturer, Maths (9417302357), Rajan Jain, Lecturer, Physics (9779770007), Neenu Rajwanshi, Chemistry Lecturer (9463656006) and others.















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