C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Brace up for more power outages
Regulatory commission allows UT to impose rotational cuts from May
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
If you thought the city is facing its worst power crisis right now, here’s something even worse. The Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission has allowed the UT electricity department to impose rotational power cuts to meet the demand and supply gap in summer, especially from May to October.

Here’s why you should be worried: As per the load survey conducted by UT officials, the demand for power is expected to reach 400 MW in summer, which was 353 MW last year. The Administration will get 310 MW of power from all sources, but still there will be shortage of 90 MW.

The UT Administration gets 220 MW of power from different sources, 47 per cent from Mohali (PSPCL), 5 per cent from Dhulkote BBMB and the remaining 48 per cent from Nalalgarh. Besides, the UT Administration will purchase additional 90 MW of power from three power firms.

In a recent communication to the UT electricity department, the commission has allowed the department to enforce power cuts in the city if it finds it difficult to bridge the gap between demand and supply.

“The department can impose power cuts keeping equity among all consumers of the electricity department irrespective of their status,” reads the communication.

An official of the UT electricity department said: “Since the UT does not have a power generation plant, the electricity department purchases power from various power generation plants after signing agreements. If the department faces shortage, it will be left with no option but to impose power cuts.”

More financial powers sought

The Chandigarh Administration has demanded more financial power for the UT Administrator from the Ministry of Power, to purchase power up to Rs 100 crore. At present, the Administrator can only grant approval for the purchase of power up to Rs 8 crore. If the power purchase cost crosses Rs 8 crore, the UT officials have to seek permission from the Union ministry. An official said they had sought permission from the Power Ministry to purchase additional 60 MW of power to bridge the demand and supply gap in summer.



Sale of books goes unchecked in schools
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 30
Defying the orders of the Central Board Secondary Education (CBSE), schools in Panchkula were seen selling books and uniforms on the premises. A CBSE circular dated February 21 states that the schools cannot indulge in any commercial activity or sell books, uniforms and other school-related paraphernalia on the campus. The schools were directed to display a list of prescribed books and uniform on notice boards.

Investigation by a Tribune team revealed that the orders were being defied by some private schools ahead of the new session.

When this correspondent went to buy books at a private school, the seller seemed less interested in knowing whether the child was the student of this school or studied elsewhere.

The seller at Bhawan Vidyalaya, Sector 15, Panchkula, was asked for a set of Class VII books. He said: “The set was out of stock. We have books of other classes if you need. You can come on Monday to collect books of Class VII.”

Parents were asked to enter from the rear gate to purchase books. This correspondent was also asked to follow suit.

“We have been told by the school authorities to purchase books from here,” said a parent requesting anonymity.

When contacted Shashi Banerjee, principal of the school, said: “There is nothing illegal in it. Books have been made available at the school for the convenience of parents.”

Books were also being sold at DC Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 7, Panchkula. Principal of the school BB Gupta came up with an interesting excuse. “There is a wedding in the family of the bookshop owner. So, we have made books available at the school for the convenience of parents.”

The illegal practice was also on at BKM Saral Vishwas School, Sector 9, Panchkula. Director of the school Saral Vishwas said also gave a similar excuse that it was all for the convenience of parents.

When contacted, District Education officer Nalini Mimani said: “I will look ask my staff to check the illegal practice.”

The parents have no other option but to tow the schools’ line. “Even if we don’t want bound books, we have to purchase them because there is no other option,” said Raj Kumar, a parent.


In several schools, books are not prescribed on a merit basis. School managements aim at making a quick buck. These schools tend to misuse their freedom in deciding fee and fine and end up charging exorbitant fee, demanding donation and going for unjustified hikes. Under no circumstances will a school be allowed to compromise on students’ welfare.



Battled cancer but bowed to death
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 30
His parents would have never thought that their son, who had survived the deadly liver cancer, would become a victim to a road accident. Twelve-year-old Himanshu was discharged from the PGI today. He was on his way home with his father when a truck hit the bicycle he was riding on the road separating Sectors 17 and 18, Panchkula. He died on the spot.

Himanshu, a student of Simran Public School, Sector 4, Panchkula, was happy to have cleared his Class V exams, the result of which was declared today. He was declared brain dead by doctors a fortnight ago, but had escaped death.

The victim’s father, Subash Chander was also injured in the accident. They were rushed to the Sector 6 General Hospital where the former was declared brought dead. The passers-by stopped the truck driver, but the police failed to nab him, said the victim’s father.



Income tax dept offices to remain open today
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Income Tax Department has cancelled the weekly off of its employees for the timely deposit of the income tax return before the end of the current financial year. The offices across the country will remain open on March 31 for taxpayers who want to file their returns and conduct other tax related businesses.

The Central Board of Direct Taxes issued the directions in exercise of powers conferred under Section 119 of the Income Tax Act, 1961. “In view of holidays on March 27 and 29 and March 30 and 31 being Saturday and Sunday, it is directed that all the income tax offices throughout the country will remain open,” the order stated.

Around 350 employees, including the top brass of the department, were busy today in resolving the tax-related issues of the taxpayers. Officials said the Union Government has asked the department to ensure timely collection of taxes.

All counters to deposit income tax return were also open. A senior official said the staff had been instructed to remain present in the office tomorrow also.


Over 10,000 children in city have never been to school
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Despite City Beautiful having a high literacy rate of 86.77 per cent, over 10,000 children aged between 6 and 14 have never been to a school. The data is based on a two-year survey conducted by the UT education department.

The department conducts a survey every year in order to identity 'out of school' children.

As many as 6,025 'out of school' children were found in 2012 while 4,544 more cases were identified in this year’s survey, thereby challenging the Administration to bring them to the mainstream.

A crucial component of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, the latest survey observed that most of the fresh cases belonged to the migratory population. These children were found working as manual labourers, rag pickers and domestic labourers.

Among these children, 3,462 aged between 6 and 10 while others were in the 11-14 age group. About 2,135 were girls and the remaining were boys

This raises a question over the department’s effort to retain and enrol these children. As per information, out of total of a 6,025 identified last year, only 900 to 1,000 children were absorbed.

“The identified children are not enrolled in schools till the new session begins, which creates a gap,” said Sangita Vardhan, who runs an NGO and a special training centre for such children.

She said under the RTE Act, the state government needed to go beyond planning and create an atmosphere that allowed the children to grow.

Dr Anuradha Sharma, founder of Hamari Kaksha, an organisation that helps “out of school” children, said another major issue was that government schools lacked infrastructure.

A majority of these schools are located on peripheral areas. Since these schools are already overcrowded and norms do not allow them to take admission in other schools, these children are made to suffer. She said those unable to pay fee, discourage their wards, especially girls, from going to a school. "Society needs to change its mindset," she said.

A senior officials said the department was putting in efforts to bring these students to the mainstream through special training centres.

The question

This raises a question over the department’s efforts to retain and enrol these children. As per information, out of total a of 6,025 children identified last year, only 900 to 1,000 were absorbed.



Mohali junction to open by Sept
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 30
The Mohali junction in Sector 57 (Phase VI) will be thrown open to public by September this year. The C&C Constructions, the company responsible for the pilot project, has assured the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) of meeting the deadline.

The company has jumped four deadlines in the past one year.

GMADA Chief Administrator AK Sinha said the authority had served a show-cause notice on the company recently.

"The notice read as why the authority should not cancel the agreement signed between the two. To which the company had replied that the first phase of bus stand would be completed by September," said Sinha.

In the first phase, the bus terminus will be completed while in the second phase, commercial complex will be completed.

"For the completion of commercial complex, the company has been given a year's time," said Sinha.

He said the company had given them their monthly progress plan (MPP) to meet the set deadline.

"If we fail to find the work as per the monthly progress plan submitted by the company, it will be penalised," said Sinha.

In September 2011, a portion of the building had collapsed when the retaining wall of a basement slab had given in. Under the project, the company is to construct an 18-storeyed AC inter-state bus terminus-cum-commercial complex.

The foundation stone of the 500-crore project, spread over 7 acres, was laid on February 24, 2009, with its deadline being one-and-a-half year.



Overflowing sewage a bane of Balongi village
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 30
Despite spending Rs 2.20 crore on the laying of pipelines at Balongi village in the district, the civic authorities have failed to solve the problem. The authorities had started the Rs 3.5 crore project of laying the pipelines in February 2011.

An amount of Rs 2.20 crore had already been spent before the project was stalled in July last year.

Complaint regarding the use of substandard material was filed. Following which, an inquiry was marked.

Residents of the village said despite spending crores of rupees, the officials failed to tide over the problem as sewage got accumulated on roads, making it difficult for them to commute.

Rajinder Singh, a resident, said culverts worth lakhs of rupees had been lying abandoned for the past two years in the area and nobody bothered to lift them.

"I dont know why the authorities have failed to do anything," he said.

Several cases of diarrhoea and other diseases were reported in the area six months ago.

Area MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu said he had raised complained to the officials that substandard material was being used.

"I had also brought to their notice that the culverts were too small. If I am not satisfied with the work, I will take up the matter with the authorities," said Sidhu.

Mohali Deputy Commissioner Varun Roojam said the work would resume soon.



UT Admn fails to implement power sector reforms
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
While the Chandigarh Administration is all set to increase the power tariff, the department has failed to implement power sector reforms, especially preparing the online data of consumers, power connections and entire power infrastructure of the city.

The Ministry of Power had already warned the UT Administration that the Central Government would be forced to withhold the grant of Rs 13 crore, in case deadline of June 30, 2013, (on the implementation of the power sector reforms), was not met by the Administration.

The UT Electricity Department in its reply to the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) had stated that the work on the Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (R-APDRP) was allotted to M/S SPANCO and the work was initiated, but due to poor performance in Bihar, Punjab and other states, the allotment had been put on hold by the UT Administration.

As per the proposal, the UT Electricity Department had planned to implement power reforms, including the introduction of management integrated system, geographical information system among other initiatives to boost e-governance in the working of the department.

Under the proposed plan, computerisation of the UT Electricity Department will be done. A round-the-clock call centre for consumer grievance redress will also be set up.

With the computerisation, the UT Electricity Department will be able to create a database of the information, including electrical loads, sanctioned connections, consumers’ grievances, billing etc.

As per the plan, the UT will put in place the management integrated system (MIS) to speed up day-to-day work procedures in the Department. With the introduction of MIS, the department will adopt the use of IT applications for meter reading, billing, collection, energy accounting, auditing, redressal of consumer grievances etc.

MP Singh, Superintending Engineer (electricity), UT, said that after SPANCO, now they were in touch with the agency which was carrying out the work for the Haryana government.

He said that they would start the project as early as possible.



Special weekly summer train to start from April 5
To run between city and Dibrugarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
To clear the rush of passengers, the Railways authorities are going to start a special weekly express summer train from Chandigarh to Dibrugarh for two months. As per the scheduled time table of the Railways, on every Friday, the train number 05903 will depart from Dibrugarh to Chandigarh on April 5 to June 28.

The train will make 13 trips in two months. Train number 05904 will depart from the city station on every Sunday from April 7 to June 30, 2013, at 11.10 pm which will reach Dibrugarh at 6.15 am on the fourth day. The train will make 13 trips in two months.

The train will have 17 coaches that include one AC II-tier, 1AC III-tier, nine sleeper class coaches, four general class and two disabled friendly second class luggage van coaches. The special summer express will halt at 36 stations.

A senior railway official said that the department had recommended this special train after monitoring the reports of the booking of tickets from the area.



Play highlights evils of dowry, corruption
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
A Punjabi comedy play “Wohti & Wife” was staged at the Bal Bhawan today. The play was written by Rakesh Manjhi and directed by Kuldeep Bhatti. The plot was infused with a heavy dose of comedy but at the same time it successfully highlighted the evils of dowry and corruption along with the menace of casting couch prevailing in the glamour world.

The entire play revolved around the character of Mundke, a servant in a middle class family. Mundke came to the house along with the bride, Meena, in the form of dowry. The play opened with the usual fight between husband, Ravi Verma, and wife, Meena, with both of them accusing each other on trivial matters and Mundke, the servant, pulling the husband for being dishonest with his wife and giving importance to girls from his modelling agency.

The plot thickens with the entry of Reena, the younger sister of Meena. Reena came to Mumbai with a desire to become Miss Mumbai. Ravi Chopra, who was a model coordinator, helped her in participating in the Miss Mumbai contest. In order to give Reena a perfect look, Chopra arranged for the photographer, fashion designer and tailor but they all tried to exploit her in their own ways. But every time, their plan failed because of the timely intervention of the maid, Mundke. A small appearance by postman and milkman and their encounter with Mundke highlighted the evils of corruption prevalent in society.

The end was happy with Reena getting married with Ravi Chopra. Reena realised that modeling was not her cup of tea and one should not run after things that are not in his reach.



P’kula admn to bring home victim’s body from New Delhi
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, March 30
Waking up to the seriousness of the situation, the district administration has finally extended its help to bring home the body of Panchkula resident Karna Bahadur, who has been killed by French troops in Central African Republic (CAR).

It was after The Tribune highlighted that the CAR High Commission had refused to ferry the body from New Delhi to Panchkula and the Panchkula Administration was silent on the issue that the decision was taken to help the family.

“Today, the Tehsildar visited our house and asked about the well-being of the family. We have also been intimated by the officials that they will be getting the body from Delhi to the residence and paying all the expenses,” said Dr Saroj Aggarwal, who is helping the family.

It was yesterday when the controversy over the transportation of the body had surfaced. The high commission had refused to ferry the body till Panchkula.

The body of Karna Bahadur will reach New Delhi on Sunday morning at 9 am by the Saudi Airlines flight and it is expected to reach Panchkula by evening.

Due to the disturbances prevailing in the country, Bahadur was approaching the Bangui airport in the capital of Central African Republic to catch a flight to India when the troops mistook his vehicle to be that of suicide bombers and opened fire. Bahadur was one of the two Indians who were killed in the incident apart from the six injured.

No one from the administration had turned up till yesterday.



Anti-encroachment drive
MC issues 160 challans

Chandigarh, March 30
In a special anti-encroachment drive, the enforcement wing of the Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh, today removed encroachments from various markets of the city, industrial area, and Mani Majra. MC officials issued as mans as 160 challans to the encroachers.

During the course of the drive, the enforcement team removed encroachments from Industrial Area Phase I and II, Mani Majra, Sector 15, outside PGI, Sectors 15 and 16.

Kashmira Singh, Superintendent, enforcement wing, said that during the drive various items, including furniture, pipes, wires, “rehris”, tables, stools, crates, “pharis” etc. were removed and seized from the municipal land. He further said that the MC would carry out the drive in the coming days as well. — TNS



1,000 cylinders booked on last day of fiscal year
Tribune news Service

Panchkula, March 30
As many as 1,000 gas cylinders were booked today at various gas agencies in Panchkula as it was the last day in this financial year to book for subsidised LPG cylinders.

As per the subsidy policy, only five subsidised cylinders were allowed to consumers from September 14 till March 31. From April 1, the number of subsidised cylinders has increased to nine.

“This financial year is closing on Sunday, so we received 400 bookings today. We have cleared the most of the booking and rest of the log will be cleared by 12 pm tomorrow,” said Lily Bawa, owner of the Inder Gas agency, Sector 11, Panchkula.

Despite being Sunday, the agency will remain open tomorrow till 12 pm.

“Due to a cap on LPG cylinders, we have to be careful with it now. Anyhow, we have to book our last subsidised cylinder today only otherwise I would have lapsed as the fiscal years ends tomorrow, said Vinod Sharma, a resident of Panchkula.



CRPF inspector general retires
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Kulbir Singh, Inspector General, North West Sector, Central Reserve Police Force, Chandigarh, was accorded a warm send off by officers and men of the force on his last working day in uniform. He is retiring after putting in 37 years of service.

He addressed CRPF personnel and exhorted them to strive for professional excellence and uphold the traditions and ethos of the force. He also inspected a ceremonial guard of honour.

Kulbir Singh started his career as an Assistant Commandant in Nagaland and later served in most of the North Eastern states, Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country. He also served in the Rapid Action Force. He has been decorated with the President's Police for Distinguished Service and Police Medal for Meritorious Service.



Regiment officers share a light moment

Chandigarh, March 30
The Association of Veterans and Serving Officers of the Rajput Regiment organised a social get-together at Chandigarh last evening.

Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh, Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Barinder Kaur, wife of late Lt Gen RS Dyal, a former Colonel of the Rajput Regiment and Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, GOC-in-C, Western Command and Colonel of the Rajput Regiment, were among those who attended the occasion along with a large number of serving and retired officers of the regiment.

The association's Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana chapter is 20-year-old with Lt Gen Bhopinder Singh as its president and Col JS Kang as the convener. It acts as a link between veterans and serving officers.

Lt Gen Chachra updated the members with the regimental news and various activities being undertaken for the welfare of veterans and war widows. — TNS



School uniforms
Govt schools to float tenders again
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
Defying all logic, the Education Department again instructed the government schools to recall the tender notice for buying school uniforms. It is for the third time that the schools have been asked to float tenders, since their previous two tenders did not fetch any response from the suppliers.

“It is not only the wastage of time, but also the wastage of public money,” said a school head.

He said there was no logic in issuing tenders again when most of the schools did not get even a single financial bid in the last two occasions.

As per information, the government schools have already spent over Rs 10 lakh by releasing advertisements to invite financial bids for uniforms. Recalling the tenders for the third time will further put financial burden on the state exchequer.

Another school official said the department was doing nothing but justifying its school uniform policy, which otherwise had failed to impress the suppliers.

“Unless the department revises its upper limit of rate ceiling or relax its technical specifications, fresh tenders will meet the similar fate,” he said.

Vinod Sharma, president of the Government Teachers Union, said the latest move of the department would put unnecessary burden on the schools, which were already loaded with other administrative works.

“Seeing the continuous poor response of the suppliers, the department must call a meeting of all school management committees and try to find out a solution to this problem,” he said.

This is the second consecutive year when the delay has been seen in providing the benefit of the free school uniforms to over 1 lakh eligible students here.



Teachers to spend 40 minutes extra in school
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
In its latest decision which may not go down well with the teaching fraternity, the UT education department is increasing working hours of government schoolteachers and school staff by 40 minutes.

The orders will be implemented from coming Monday. The working hours will be increased from 36 to 40 hours per week.

The officials said under the guidelines of the RTE Act, teachers should spend more time in school.

"The RTE Act proposes to increase the working hours of the teaching staff by a minimum of 45 hours a week. We have increased the working hours from 36 to 40 hours per week which is expected to be reviewed later and may be increased to 45 hours per week as per the RTE Act," said District Education Officer RK Sharma. While the number of school hours for students remain the same, the teaching fraternity will leave at 2.40 pm as per the present schedule. Timings of double shift schools will change accordingly.

"The move will help teachers complete paperwork and prepare lectures in advance. This will unburden them," said a senior official.

A teacher said, "How can the government implement the RTE Act when it has failed to upgrade the infrastructure at schools and improve the student-pupil ratio."

Swarn Singh Kamboj, president, UT Cadre Educational Employees Union, said they would soon give the representation to the department asking it to revoke the decision.



Termination of Prof’s service
NIPER students form 10-member panel
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 30
The problem at the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research (NIPER) continued today. Students of the institute have formed a 10-member committee to discuss the things with the management.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, a member of the committee, who did not want to come on records, said they had three meetings with the management of the institute.

“The management will show us documents on the basis of which the decision to terminate two professors was taken,” said the member.

He said the committee had also prepared a list of their long-pending issues, which would also be discussed with the management.

“We will see the documents in question. If satisfied, we will end our protest,” said the member.



SOPU to enter union poll fray
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 30
The Sri Guru Gobind Singh College (SSGS) College, Sector 26, which has always been dominated by Khalsa College Student Union (KCSU) and Chandigarh Students Union (CSU) will be witnessing a tough fight in the next student union elections with the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) entering the fray for the first time.

The SOPU was launched in the college today by its state president Vikramjit Singh Middukhera. Party president Rashpal Hakuwala and PU campus president Arshnoor Dhillon were also present on the occasion. Among the new panel members, Gurjant Singh has been announced as the president, SOPU, SGGS College and Brahmjot Singh has been appointed as campus president.




Prize distribution function

A prize distribution function was held at Government Middle School, Sector 46, Chandigarh. SS Dahiya, Director, SIE, who was the chief guest, distributed prizes among the toppers. The Director, SIE, appreciated the teaching environment of the school.

Art and crafts exhibition

Aanchal International School held its annual art & crafts exhibition today on its school campus at Sector 41, Chandigarh. Students from kindergarten to senior classes exhibited various art and crafts projects like emboss paintings, flowers-crepe paper & organdy (roses), best out of waste - tissue paper, Punjabi jutti, glass painting, T-shirt paintings, face masks, snowmen and wall hangings. They also exhibited live project models like rainwater harvesting, thermal energy, rock cycle model and pollution. The main attractions in the science section were live projects of rainwater harvesting, thermal energy, causes of pollution, which emphasised the utilitarian value of science.

Yajna performed

A “Havana Yajna” was performed on the premises of the junior wing of DAV Senior Public School, Surajpur, Panchkula district, by the staff and the local villagers. The occasion was held to commemorate the birthdays of children of the local villagers whose birthdays fall in February and March. At least 20 children and their parents of Rajjipur village attended the ‘Havana’. Later, attractive gifts were also distributed among the children. HR Gandhar, advisor, DAV College Managing Committee, New Delhi, Vijay Kumar, manager, and Madhu Bahl, Regional Director, were the chief guests for the occasion. They showered their blessings on the children.

Students win accolades

Six students of Mount Carmel School, Sector 47, won accolades at the Hyper Text Story Board Competition held at Baddi University. Over 1,250 students from Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh participated in the event. Six students of Mount Carmel School, Sector 47-B, Chandigarh, secured several top ranks. The school also bagged first position at the state level in the competition and was awarded with a 32 Inch LCD TV. Manisha Rajpal, mentor for this competition, was also awarded with a trophy and an appreciation certificate. — TNS



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