C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


‘Gagged’ councillors protest in House
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Protesting against the imposition of house tax and passing agendas without discussion in the previous House meeting, councillors of the BJP-SAD combine today gagged themselves with black bands in the House.

They also held a silent protest during the question hour. It was for the first time in the history of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation that opposition councillors gagged themselves with black bands and displayed banners mentioning ‘stop imposition of house tax, stop misusing people’s money, bandh karo… Chawla ji Chandigarh wasion se jhuth bolna, bandh karo’.

Railways Minister and MP Pawan Kumar Bansal was also present in the House when the opposition councillors held the protest.

Mayor Subhash Chawla said in the first two hours of the meeting, only opposition councillors raised their questions. But when it was the turn of other councillors, including nominated councillors, the opposition benches started protesting, he added.

Chawla said the black bands and banners revealed that it was a pre-planned act. The SAD-BJP councillors are not interested in the development of the city, he said.

Leader of the opposition Arun Sood said in the previous House meeting, the Mayor passed all agenda items without any discussion. We held the silent protest as the Congress-ruled House does not want to listen to the opposition councillors, he added.

Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal termed it propaganda. Before passing any agenda, the Mayor was taking the consent of councillors, he added. 



55 parking passes returned to Mayor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Councillors of the BJP-SAD on Monday returned their quota of 55 complimentary parking passes, five complementary passes each for every councillor, to Mayor Subhash Chawla. This year, Mayor Subhash Chawla will get 102 parking stickers, including 100 complementary parking stickers

Senior Deputy Mayor Rana Kashmiri Devi and Deputy Mayor Satish Kainth will get 27 stickers each, including 25 complimentary stickers. Besides, MC Commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh will get 22 stickers, including 20 complimentary stickers.

BJP councillor challenges recruitment of clerks

BJP councillor Davesh Moudgil on Monday objected to the appointment of 25 clerks in the MC. He said the company through which the MC hired the clerks on contractual basis did not mention the reserved seats in the advertisement. The addresses of the candidates in the list are also wrong, he alleged. MC Commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh said: “The MC cannot intervene in the selection process of a private agency. Moreover, they are not MC employees.” The Commissioner also ordered withdrawal of the appointment letters issued to these candidates.

Malba bylaws not notified

Former Mayor and Congress councillor Pardeep Chhabra said the MC was carrying out ‘malba-free’ drives in the city, but it would be beneficial only when the UT Administration notifies malba bylaws. He said horticulture bylaws should also be notified immediately.

Illegal basements

Councillor Gurcharan Dass Kala said despite repeated reminders, the MC had failed to check construction of basement in buildings situated in the narrow lanes of Mani Majra. On this, the MC Commissioner directed officials to submit a report. 



Split wide open

Chandigarh, March 25
The local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today criticised the BJP’s move to announce Arun Sood as leader of the opposition and Heera Negi as deputy leader of the opposition in the MC.

SAD councillor Harjinder Kaur said Arun Sood was the leader of BJP councillors and not the SAD councillors.

BJP’s state president Sanjay Tandon said it was not acceptable. “We are in constant touch with the SAD high command,” he said. Ropar MLA and in charge of the Chandigarh unit of the SAD DS Cheema said he had asked Harjinder Kaur to have a word with Sanjay Tandon to sort out the differences. — TNS



Holi hai! Naturally 
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Staying away from the muck of synthetic colours, several organisations and the city’s youth brigade are motivating residents to go for natural colours this Holi.

City-based Youth Innovative Society is planning to celebrate Holi with flowers and herbal colours. Sachine Sharma, chairman of the society, said all our members would gather at Old Age Home in Sector 15 and celebrate the festival with the elderly.

He said: “The society is motivating residents to use natural colours on Holi as colours available in the market have harmful chemicals.” This year too, the Sohanjana Eco Club of the GMSSS-46 distributed eco-friendly Holi colours in the school. Convener of the club Om Parkash said: “We taught students to make natural colours using turmeric, gram flour, arrowroot powder, henna, beetroot, amaltas, gulmohar and geru.”

“The response was overwhelming during the workshop and many students took a pledge not to use chemical colours this Holi,” he said. Shikha, a student of GMSSS-46, said: “I will prepare natural colours for the festival.”

Gautum Katyal, a resident of Sector 23, has decided not to use synthetic colours on Holi. He said: “Last year, one of my friends had to visit a dermatologist after someone applied synthetic colours on his face.

Santosh Kumar, director, environment, said people are saying no to synthetic colours. The positive change has come as people are become aware of the ill-effects of chemical colours. Besides, herbal colours are now easily available in the market. We distributed 5,000 packets of herbal colours recently at a function which was attended by 250 women,” he said. 



‘Holy’ colours: Culture knows no bounds 
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
It's time to submerge in festive colours. With Holi round the corner, residents are looking forward to grand celebrations.

Rajender Singh, president, Purvanchal Welfare Association, representing people from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, said, "The festival is celebrated with pomp and show." "Women prepare dishes like gujia, puri and malpua," he said. Those hailing from Rajasthan will celebrate the festival at Rajasthan Bhawan in Sector 33.

Sanjay Kumar, a resident, said the celebrations would commence with Holi dehan ceremony.

A cultural programme will be the main attraction of the day. A large number of students from Manipur reside in the city. Loki Kino, a student, said, "Back in their village, the festival is celebrated for six consecutive days."

"Manipuri dance, thabal chongba, is the main attraction," Loki said. President of Bengali Kalibari Neel Kanth Das said the festival was not celebrated with fervour. "As we have been staying in the city for the past many years, we have started celebrating Holi. We apply colours on each other and savour delicacies." 



Artillery shell found 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
A live artillery shell was found at the garbage processing plant in Sector 25 today.

The police did not cordon off the area where the shell was kept over an hour.

In charge of the garbage processing plant RD Sharma spotted the shell and informed the police at 1 pm. “The shell was segregated by a metal detector. We lifted it and kept it outside the plant and informed the police,” said Sharma.

Police sources said the shell weighed around 2.5 kg. Later in the evening, Army men took the shell in their possession. On January 25, a handcuff, an air pistol and a cartridge were also found at the processing plant. Earlier this year, two minor boys had found a live bomb shell in the forest area of Sector 44.


HUDA’s inhuman face comes to fore
Bulldozes 150 illegal structures in Azad Colony in Panchkula at 4 am; hundreds rendered homeless
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 25
Maya Devi, who is seven months pregnant, was sleeping with her two children when she heard the sound of a bulldozer moving outside her house and people's cries. When she looked outside from a window, she was shocked to see that the houses in the locality were being razed. A shocked Devi cound't decide whether she should run for her life or save her house.

The inhuman attitude of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) came to the fore today when its staff razed more than 150 dwelling units at Azad Colony in Sector 21, Panchkula, at around 4 am while people were fast asleep. The residents' pleas for mercy fell on deaf ears.

On March 22, the HUDA officials had visited the area to demolish the dwelling units. The residents staged a protest and blocked a road, forcing the HUDA team to return without carrying out the demolition drive.

Ashwini Sharma, Estate Officer, HUDA, said: “They had encroached upon the HUDA land and we had informed them in advance to vacate the place. But they did not pay heed to our instructions.”

“I was sleeping with my family when I heard the sound of a moving bulldozer. I rushed outside and pleaded to the officials that they should at least give me a day. But, they did not listen and ran a bulldozer on my house,” said Roshan Lal, a resident of the colony.

Raju, another resident, said: “How can the authorities be so insensitive. They did not even bother to tell the residents about the drive in advance.”

“There were women, children and elderly persons sleeping inside the houses. How does it feel when you are sleeping inside your house with your family and you suddenly come to know that there is a bulldozer outside your house to demolish it,” said Gyan Chand Gupta, senior BJP leader.

Vishal Seth, BJP district unit chief, said: “An inquiry into the incident should be ordered immediately and the guilty officials should be punished for this act.”



Demolition drive put off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
A day after the Union Railway Minister and Member of Parliament, Pawan Kumar Bansal, assured villagers at a function outside Raipur Khurd village that the houses outside the "lal dora" would not be demolished, a team of the Land Acquisition Collector (LAC) visited Raipur Kalan village to carry out a demolition drive.

Though the team postponed the drive (on the orders of the district administration) to raze certain structures that had come on government land, the presence of the demolition squad led to a panic in the area.

Yesterday, at a public rally presided over by Bansal, it was stated that the houses outside the "lala dora" and on the survey list of the Chandigarh Administration would not be demolished.

Meanwhile, the occupants of illegal houses at Raipur Kalan were given four days' time to vacate the land as it had been acquired for Industrial Area, Phase 3. “While most of the acquired land has been handed over to the Engineering Department, the occupants of the land in question had moved the High Court but could not get relief. Still, they did not vacate the land,” said an official of the Land Acquisition Collector.

Regarding the houses outside the "lal dora", the officials said there was no instruction to stop demolition of the houses. “We are still issuing notices to the owners of houses raised outside the 'lal dora'”, said the officials.

In 2007, the Administration had decided to provide the basic amenities to the settlers who had raised unauthorised structures beyond the "lal dora". But later in 2009, it was realised that the earlier decision was encouraging unauthorised construction in the peripheral area and a notification was issued. The Periphery Act continues to be applicable in the areas beyond the "lal dora" as earlier. 



Realtor shells out Rs 8 lakh for ‘0001’ tag
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
At a price of Rs 8 lakh, which could get you an entry-level sedan, Sukhvinder Singh, real estate developer, today bought "0001" of the CH01 S series for his customised Rs 1-crore Range Rover SUV.

Sukhvinder, who owns "KD Developers", which is engaged in real estate development on the Chandigarh-Ambala road, took no time to raise the bid to Rs 8 lakh, and the auction for the number was over within minutes. He said he had four high-end sedans in his stable and all had vanity numbers. "I have ordered the custo-made Range Rover from England," he said.

During the day-long auction, "0009", "0100" and "0011" went for Rs 4.25 lakh, Rs 3.55 lakh and Rs 2.60 lakh, respectively. "Compared to the last two auctions, when the "0001" number went for Rs 26 lakh and Rs 17 lakh, this time the highest bid has been comparatively low," said an official of the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA), Chandigarh.

Mahavir Kaushik, RLA, said the other vanity numbers which attracted bids above Rs one lakh were "0002" (Rs 1,01,000), "0003" (Rs 1,20,000), "0004" (Rs 1,82,000), "0005" (Rs 1,65,000), "0007" (Rs 1,36,000), "0017" (Rs 1,01,000) and "0018" ( Rs 1,41,000). The "9999" number went for Rs 1.80 lakh.

The RLA has earned Rs 54.63 lakh from the auction of 94 numbers that went under the hammer.

Earlier bids for 0001

CH01 AR Rs 10 lakh

CH01 AQ Rs 8 lakh

CH 01 AP Rs 26.05 lakh

CH 01 AN Rs 17 lakh

CH01 AM Rs 9.05 lakh

CHOL AL Rs 5.80 lakh



House allotment linked to Aadhaar card
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The Chandigarh Administration has embarked upon the task of allotting 8,100 small flats at Dhanas linked to Aadhar cards. Around 40,000 persons would be accommodated in the dwelling units coming up at Dhanas.

To review the progress of the rehabilitation project (JNNURM), which has to be completed by May, the UT adviser, KK Sharma, today convened a meeting. The exercise is the first of its kind in the country.

The Adviser directed all the departments concerned to make sure that the external, internal and social infrastructural services were in place before the beneficiaries moved into their allotted flats by May 2013. The Chandigarh Housing Board Chairman, Satya Gopal, submitted that all the works entrusted to the board had been completed and the verification of about 8,100 beneficiaries had been done. 



Safe street campaign fizzles out
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 25
The safe street campaign, launched by Commissioner of Police Rajbir Deswal, has apparently fizzled out.

Defying the official's orders, police personnel were found having a chit-chat session and sipping tea, even as violators drove past them.

As the crime is on the rise in the town, the Commissioner of Police had directed the police officers to set up nakas at different points.

At a naka in Sector 10, police personnel were found sitting under a tree while at a naka on the Panchkula-Chandigarh border just in front of the MDC T-point, not even a single officer was found on duty.

A number of criminals have escaped from the route.

Boasting of issuing over 500 challans in the past, the police officers have failed to live up to the expectations of the residents.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Ashwin Shenvi said, “I will ensure that strict action is taken against those found guilty."

A resident said the lower functionaries would never let the situation improve in the town. "Even the miscreants are aware of their attitude,” he said.

Nalini Mehta, a resident of Sector 19, Panchkula, said, “We keep carrying out drives, But the officers need to change their attitude. Miscreants should fear them. They must perform their duty honestly," she added.



No end to her miseries
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 25
Guddi Devi, whose leg was amputated after an accident last month, has no place to go. She has been in a shock since the HUDA officials demolished her house. With tears in her eyes, she had been sitting like a statue since then.

The fate seems to have only sorrows for Devi, who was hit by a vehicle last month while she was crossing a road. Her right leg had to be amputated and she was discharged from the PGI, Chandigarh, on March 7.

"In the morning, when a bulldozer starting razing the houses in the colony, everyone rushed outside but I could not. My sons lifted me and made me sit outside, and I saw everything belonging to us being razed to the ground," lamented Devi.

"My family has spent all their money on my treatment and now we don't even have a single penny to build our house again. We have lost it all," she added.

"We don't know where we shall sleep. The little money which we have will be spent on food," said Devi.

"My mother has not stopped crying since then. We told her that her health would be affected. She is not moving an inch from this place," said her son Billu. 



Professional police force need of the hour: Ex-DGP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
A special lecture on “India’s Future Linked with Police Reforms” by Prakash Singh, a Padma Shri awardee and former Director General of Police, UP and Assam, emphasised the historical aspect of the reforms in the police administration. The lecture was organised by the ICSSR North-Western Regional Centre here today on the Panjab University campus.

He said after the revolt of 1857, the Act of 1861 was framed to serve the British Empire politically. In the initial years of Independence, need was felt for police reforms and a good generation of politicians and bureaucrats. Gradually, the need for police reforms became clear, especially after 1975.

“The Shah Commission recommended that the police administration should be free from external pressures. In 1979, the National Police Commission recommended various reforms in its eight volume comprehensive report,” he said. He emphasised that India’s future was linked with police reforms.

“Terrorism, Maoist insurgency and corruption are increasing day by day. The need of the hour is to have professional and competent police force, which also should be people-friendly. Accountability and autonomy of police forces and the administration need to be enhanced,” said Singh.



Pleas answered with lathis
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 25
The residents' pleas for mercy were answered with a lathicharge by the HUDA officials. Certain dwellers, who said they had been putting up at the place for the past 15 years, were injured in the police action as they tried all that they could to save their houses. Women, children and elderly persons were crying for help.

The Estate Officer of HUDA said: "Residents were not beaten up in a harsh manner. They were actually stopping our officials from carrying out their official work. It is the government's land and we have to get it cleared."

"I folded my hands and asked them not to demolish our house and give us some time. But, they called policemen who hit on my legs with sticks," said Babu Ram, a resident of the colony.

"Now, we have no place to go. Where shall we sleep now? I have three children and they have been constantly asking me why our house has been pulled down," said Vishnu, who also suffered injuries on the back. 



Stress buster for CRPF personnel 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
About 100 Central Reserve Police Force personnel from four different units, Delhi, Rajasthan, North-East and North-West, were given tips on stress management during a special workshop today.

The event was organised keeping in mind the hardships faced by the CRPF personnel posted at Naxal-dominated areas like Chhattisgarh.

Psychology professors from Panjab University gave tips on coping with trauma and stress caused due to hostile and uncertain conditions in such areas.

"It is crucial for an official to be optimistic. Workouts, meditation, anger management and balanced diet are a must," said Prof Jitendra Mohan from the department of psychology, Panjab University.

"After returning home from these areas, the personnel need to consult psychologists," said Prof Meena Sehgal from the department of pyschology, PU.

The experts said the officials needed to develop an immune system to cope with pressure and provocation.

"Society should offer them support. It often labels all policemen as ruthless and rigid. However, just because of the misconduct of a few officers, all of them should not be labelled," Prof Mohan said. Another session on gender sensitisation was also held. The workshop will continue till Tuesday. Prof Swarnjeet Kaur, Dr Rajesh Gill and Prof Manoj Kumar Sharma from Panjab University spoke on various issues. 



Experts dwell on role of biochemistry at PGI

Chandigarh: The two-day CME on "Advances in Clinical Biochemistry" organised by the department of biochemistry, PGIMER, concluded on Sunday. Prof Yogesh Chawla, director of the institute, highlighted the role of clinical biochemistry in the diagnosis and prognosis of diseases.

Prof T Venkatesh, Principal Adviser, Quality Council of India (QCI), emphasised on the role of quality assurance and lab accreditation. More than 100 delegates attended the CME.

Speakers dwelt on various subjects related to diagnostic biomarkers, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, Vitamin D deficiency and expectations of a clinician from a clinical biochemistry laboratory.

A session was also held in memory of Prof D Subrahmanyam, the founder head of the department of biochemistry.

Medical camp

A team of ENT specialists, audiology and speech therapists examined 525 patients at a camp in Sardar Bahadur S Kartar Singh Memorial Government Hospital, Katani Kalan village, Ludhiana. Free medicines were distributed among the needy. — TNS 



Industrialists divided over felicitation of UT officials
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Consensus seems to be eluding industrialists over inviting UT Adviser KK Sharma to a function on March 26.

There are around 10 industry associations in the city.

Recently, the associations formed a joint forum to take up their problems with politicians and bureaucrats.

Representatives of the associations met Union Railways Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, highlighting their demands.

But now resentment prevails among the industrialists as they said the associations invited the official without taking them into consideration.

An industrialist said it seemed that the associations wanted to strengthen their relations with bureaucrats.

Sources said the industrialists had been told not to take up their demands with the UT Adviser.

An industrialist said, "If we are not allowed to raise our demands, what is the purpose of felicitating the UT official."

It is not for the first time that the differences have surfaced.

If one industry association is in favour of the implementation of the MSME Act, the other is against the same. 



PU star nite disrupted, stones hurled at stage
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The star nite on the last day of Jhankaar, the annual fest organised by Panjab University Campus Student Council (PUCSC), was disrupted when some anti-social elements from among the crowd started throwing stones on the stage. The incident happened when the famous Punjabi singer Babbu Mann was performing on the stage.

While the singer was singing the song, suddenly someone threw a stone on the stage. Surprised over the reaction, Babbu Mann stopped signing the song in between. The members of the student council, including PUCSC leader Satinder Singh along with other party supporters rushed on the stage to put everything under control and requested the crowd to maintain discipline.

The students also took the singer to one corner of the stage, to ensure that he would not get injured by the stones. The organisers claimed to end the function abruptly if the incident was reported again. The entry of the students and visitors was also blocked following the incident. The incident also led to panic among the girls.

When contacted the PUCSC president, he stated that it was an attempt made by their opposition parties to disrupt the function and to sabotage the image of the student council. "The show was going on very smoothly, when someone threw stone to abrupt the function", PUCSC president stated. The security near the stage was beefed up following the incident and the policemen moved into the crowd to keep a close watch on the miscreants. The function was organised at the Dusherra ground, opposite to the boys' hostel number 4.



Kabir fest begins at Tagore Theatre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The 6th Annual Kabir Festival titled “Suno Bhai Sadho” began today with the mystic performances of folk singer Mahesha Ram and celebrated classical singer Mudhup Mudgal here at the Tagore Theatre.

The festival is dedicated to Kabir, the mystic saint poet of the 16th Century, who had a great impact on the Bhakti Movement of India. Belonging to the Meghval Community of Rajasthan, Mahesha Ram presented a hypnotic folk style typical of the Meghvals and enthralled the audience with Kabir’s dohas and vanis.

The second performance in the evening was by famous classical vocalist from Delhi, Mudhup Mudgal. He left the audience spellbound with his khayal and bhajan renditions. A disciple of Kumar Gandharva, he is also a composer, conductor and has been the principal of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Delhi, a music and dance school since 1995.

Kamal Tiwari, chairman of the Chandigarh Sangeet Natak Akademi, said the purpose of this festival was to reinvent Kabir in the modern times. It was unfortunate that during the 19th & 20th Century, knowledge and wisdom had been equated with literacy. Earlier, it was considered as an outcome of personal intelligence, awareness of prevalent circumstances and experience. Kabir’s legacy of work was an example of it.

Tomorrow, Dr Jagir Singh, National Sangeet Natak Akademi awaredee, will recite Kabir ‘bani’ from the Guru Granth Sahib, followed by mystic singing of Ustad Sawan Khan, who will recite Kabir ‘bani’ and other Sufi compositions.



Trycity scan 


“The share which the lowest strata of society gets from growth and development in a state indicates the level of governance,” said Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder S. Hooda. He was addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) NR's conference on “Driving Growth of the North: Good Governance, Sustainability and Social Inclusivity” alongside its annual regional meeting in New Delhi today. Good governance emerged as a vital link for economic growth, sustainability and social inclusivity. Hooda said Haryana had done exceedingly well on the four key development indicators i.e. per capita investment, per capita income, per capita expenditures and resource mobilisation.

Policy for girl students

Harsimrat Kaur Badal, MP, Lok Sabha, visited the Doaba Women Institute of Engineering and Technology (DWIET) on the occasion of “Pledging Day” of the ideals of “Nanhi Chhaan” at Tricity Pride. “Nanhi Chhaan - EDUEarn Policy”, introduced by the DWIET, is based on the noble concept to make girl students financially self-reliant. Under the policy to be adopted this year, a student will earn Rs 2,500 to Rs 25,000 per month during her course of studies. A pledge signed by over 1,000 girl students to adopt and pursue the ideals of “Nanhi Chhaan” was handed over to Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

Student brings laurels

Manpreet Kaur, a student of M.Ed (2011-12) of the Desh Bhagat University School of Education, has secured 4th position in the merit list of Punjabi University, Patiala. Manpreet has brought glory to the institution by securing 79.17 per cent marks in the examination. Desh Bhagat University chancellor Dr Zora Singh and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Dr Shalini Gupta congratulated Manpreet on her achievement.

Job fest

A mega job fest was held at the Quest Group of Institutions. Students from more than 50 colleges of Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar participated.

Agreement signed

The Taaleem College of International Studies signed an agreement with Griffith University to zero in on solutions that will mitigate problems being faced by undergraduate students who want to pursue higher education abroad. The agreement was signed between Jaiprakash S. Hasrajani, co-founder and CEO, Taaleem India, and Prof Jeremy Williams, Director (Asia Pacific Management Centre), Griffith University, Australia. The collaboration will unveil a unique 3-year Bachelors of Business programme for undergraduates. — TNS



UT teachers demand promotion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
More than 150 teachers, under the aegis of the UT Cadre Educational Employees Union, met the DPI (S) today. They raised their demand for the immediate promotion of UT teachers.

They also demanded to immediately endorse the mobile allowance of Rs 500 per month to all UT teachers in the pay band of Rs 5,000.

The union also took up the matter of regularisation of SSA teachers and get new posts sanctioned from the Central Government at the earliest.

Delegation members said the DPI (S) gave assurance that their demands would be addressed soon.



Over 1,000 teachers stage protest

Mohali, March 25
Chaos prevailed on the Mohali-Kharar Main Road near the Civil Hospital, Phase VI, when more than 1,000 members of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union blocked the traffic during their two-hour protest here today morning.

The union members staged the protest to press their demands regarding merging them with government employees by the Punjab Government and allocating medical and house rent allowances according to the state’s Fifth Pay Commission. Earlier, over 1,000 members, also comprising women teachers, sat on the road near the Civil Hospital when they were not allowed to enter Chandigarh by the UT police. But, a delegation of the protestors was allowed to give their charter of demands to Guriqbal Singh, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare, Punjab.

Gurcharan Singh Chahal, president of the union, said they had been assured of a meeting with Parkash Singh Badal. “After the assurance, we have called off today’s protest,” said Chahal. — TNS



PU staff strike work, students suffer
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
Hundreds of students visiting Panjab University were left at the receiving end, due to the strike called by the non-teaching employees of PU. The students who had come for the various purposes, were not issued the gate-pass to enter the administrative block. Moreover, the work suffered because of two-hour protest by the PU staff.

The protest staged by the non-teaching staff over the various pending demands started at 10 am and continued till afternoon. The entire staff of the administrative block left the office and came outside the building to join the protest.

A long queue of students was witnessed outside the PU’s single window enquiry block. Sahil Jadaik an MCom student at PU’s University School of Open Learning (UOSL), who had come from Shimla to collect his mark sheet, stated that he was asked to wait for around two-hours.

“I had gone to collect my mark sheet of MCom third-semester, however, I was asked to wait for atleast two-hours”, said Sahil, who was getting late and left the university without taking his degree. Many students who had come to submit their compartment forms, had to wait unnecessarily, due to the strike. “We had to just hand over the forms. However, still we were not issued gate passes”, said a student hailing from Ludhiana.

The work resumed at around 12.30 pm, when the employees returned to their offices. Deepak Kaushik, the President of the Panjab University Staff Association (PUSA) said that over 18 months ago, the university had decided to introduce the promotion policy, according to which the employees were to get a promotion after every 10 years of their service. However, the decision had not been implemented yet. 



Clean chit to board officials

Mohali, March 25
The Mohali police has ruled out the involvement of PSEB officials in the fake certificate racket busted three days ago.

Two accused were arrested. Atul Soni, station house officer of the Mataur police station, said during the interrogation of the accused, Kulwant Singh Multani and Gaurav Narula, it was found that no official was involved in the racket.

“The accused scanned and forged PSEB certificates. They charged Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 for a certificate," said Soni. He said a computer and a printer were confiscated from them. Soni said so far they had sold around 20 fake certificates. Apart from academic certificates, the miscreants also used to sell fake driving licences and voter identity cards. — TNS



No RTE protection authority for now
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 25
The UT Education Department has put on hold the constitution of the Right to Education Protection Authority (REPA) under the Right to Education (RTE) Act. A senior official said the department had decided not to move ahead with REPA because the Social Welfare Department of the UT had already sent the proposal to the Centre to set up the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

An official said: “As per the RTE Act, a state does not need to constitute REPA if it already has the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights”.

“Since the UT Administration is already setting up one such commission, there is no need to pursue for REPA that, too, needs approval from the Centre,” said a senior official of the department.

According to the officials, REPA, in any case, was an interim authority. The Act clearly states that once the state constitutes its Commission for Protection of Child Rights, all powers of REPA will be transferred to the commission.

“With this framework in mind, we have decided to wait till the time the commission is being set up. In our official correspondence with the Social Welfare Department, we have been told that the said commission is expected in near future,” said an official. The main purpose of REPA or the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights is to protect the rights of children under the RTE Act. The chairperson will either be a retired judge of the High Court or someone who has done an outstanding work for promoting the rights of children. It will also have two members, one of whom will be a woman.

RTE activist Pankaj Chandgothia said even if REPA was an interim authority, it was to be set up with the six months of the commencement of the RTE Act that began from April 2010. The Education Department, however, failed to set up any such authority.




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