C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Panchkula ACP's Arrest
DC pulls up UT police, wants head constable suspended
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 1
In his magisterial probe in the Panchkula ACP case in which the UT police had arrested ACP Adarshdeep, his brother and father for allegedly entering into a scuffle with a head constable on a parking issue, UT Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Magistrate Mohammad Shayin has termed the FIR in the case as "false". He has pulled up the UT police, saying that "specific biased disposition of the police at various levels in the case is apparent".

The Deputy Commissioner has recommended that the head constable, Dilawar Singh, should be placed under suspension. The report has also recommended an inquiry into the role of Chandigarh DSP BS Negi for "not doing a fair probe into the case".

On August 20, 2012, Panchkula ACP Adarshdeep, his brother Gagandeep Singh and father Gurmeet Singh were arrested by the UT police for allegedly assaulting head constable Dilawar Singh over a parking issue at the Police Society, Sector 51, Chandigarh. The three were then sent to the Burail jail.

"Specific biased disposition of the police at various levels in the case is apparent as a criminal case has been slapped only against the ACP and his family members although members of both groups suffered injuries as evident from the medico-legal reports," the inquiry report states.

"Head constable Dilawar Singh may be placed under suspension pending departmental disciplinary proceedings for his misconduct," the Deputy Commissioner has recommended. Despite orders being issued by the Deputy Commissioner to cancel the FIR in the case, the Chandigarh police went in for a compromise with the ACP on the condition that he would have to give in writing that no action should be taken against those found guilty in the Deputy Commissioner's report.

Despite the fact that the ACP's family was allegedly assaulted by Dilawar and women in his house, no action was taken by the Chandigarh police on the ACP's complaint. The family had then lodged a complaint with the Deputy Commissioner, who asked the Subdivisional Magistrate (East) to conduct a probe. The final report was prepared by the Deputy Commissioner. A copy was also sent to the Home Secretary.



Books burn a hole in parents' pocket
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
After exorbitant admission fee, now buying books and stationery is burning a hole in the parents’ pocket. There has been an increase of over 10 per cent in the rates of books, stationery and school bags as compared to last year. Parents are shelling out nearly Rs 2,500 per child on books published by private publishers. Add to this the cost of stationery items, which have been made compulsory for students, the total cost works out to be nearly Rs 4,000. An average school bag is not available for anything less than Rs 800.

There isn't much difference in the prices of books for junior and senior classes. The English books for Class II and Class VIII are available in the range of Rs 200 to Rs 250. A parent, Gurdial Singh, said he failed to understand how the prices of books for junior and senior classes could be the same.

Another parent, Munish Kumar, said the budget of the parents had increased massively, especially after schools started prescribing books by private publishers, who revise their prices every year. “There is a huge difference between the rates of books of private publishes and those of NCERT books, but the authorities don't seem to be bothered," he said.

Schools, however, blame it on non-availability of NCERT books. HS Mamik, chairman of the Independent Schools Association, said NCERT books were not available on time and they have no option but to rely on private publishers. “Books of private publishers are costly because these have attractive covers, bigger page sizes and colourful pictures. Besides, CDs are also provided along with books," said Geetika Sethi, Principal of The British School, Panchkula.

A local book distributor, while agreeing that books of private publishers were costlier, said given the colourful format and better pages these books had, it was not possible to sell these in the subsidised NCERT price range.

Parents are complaining against being allegedly forced by schools to buy a range of stationery items even before the beginning of the session. A parent, Anjali Malhotra, said last year also, many stationery items remained unused throughout the year. “The schools should not burden parents by asking them to buy articles which are not immediately required,” she said. A parent said the stationery list, including oil pastel colours, art and craft material and pencils, was costing them more than Rs 1,000 alone.


Books of private publishers are costly because these have attractive covers, bigger pages and colourful pictures. Besides, CDs are also provided along with books. — Geetika Sethi, Principal, The British School, Panchkula



Parents see booksellers’ monopoly, blame schools
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
With books for most of the tricity schools being available at a handful of booksellers, that too located in Chandigarh, shopkeepers have not only formed an unwarranted “cartel” but also left hundreds of parents appalled.

What is making the matter worse is the silent and inattentive approach of the local administration, despite the standing order of the UT Education Department prohibiting private schools from forcing parents to buy books from a particular shop.

“I am forced to come to a bookshop here in Sector 22 from Zirakpur. The school referred this shop for buying books,” said Jaspreet, a Zirakpur-based parent, whose son studies in a Panchkula-based private school.

“I tried to purchase books from the nearby locality but could not find them,” she said.

For the past one week, a huge rush of parents can be seen scrambling for books in a handful of bookstores located around Sectors 7, 22, 17 and 19.

These stores are strangely catering to more than 100 schools in Chandigarh and nearby cities. They have already prepared school-wise ready-to-take packets to avoid any confusion. Some of them even have school names written in front of their shops.

Private schools are claiming that they have displayed the list of books on the notice board and parents are allowed to buy them from anywhere.

Parents said books referred by schools were not easily available in other bookstores. They were only available at shops referred by schools.

Jawahar Lal, a parent, said he tried to purchase books referred by the school where his son studies in other bookstores but could not find them.

Balbinder Basson, another parent, said only 5-6 bookstores had monopolised the entire business of selling schoolbooks in the tricity. Due to which there was no competition in the market and parents were forced to pay whatever money they ask for.

Private schools and booksellers have their own version. HS Mamik, president of the Independent Schools Association, defended that there was no nexus of any kind between schools, publishers and book sellers and the issue was being blown out of proportion. The problem is that NCERT books don’t reach on time and in that scenario, schools could not allow children to suffer. “This is the reason we inform certain booksellers in advance who make books available to parents on time,” he said.

Vikas, owner of a bookshop in Sector 19, said they were not forcing parents to buy packets as they were free to take any of the books referred by schools.

“Parents come to us because we are one of the oldest booksellers in Chandigarh and we have clients coming from far-off places,” he said.



Hike in road tax
UT's hasty move leaves vehicle owners fuming
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
In an apparent hurry to issue a notification regarding an increase in the road tax on the first day of the new financial year, the UT Transport Department today left hundreds of vehicle owners a harassed lot at the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) office in Chandigarh.

The vehicle owners, who had been doing the rounds of the RLA to deposit the road tax over the past one week, were in for a shock when they were told to pay three times more road tax due to a "fault" of the Chandigarh Administration. The delay on the part of the UT Transport Department has cost them dear.

“The notification to increase the road tax was issued on Sunday and not in advance, as is the general practice. As a result, vehicle owners opting for the CH 01AS series could not know about the revised road tax in advance”, said Karan Singla, a vehicle owner.

At the Industrial Area office of the RLA, Navraj Mittal, a proud owner of the BMW 520 series car, got a shock when he was told that the road tax had been increased with effect from today.

Navraj had been visiting the RLA office regularly since March 26 to deposit the road tax (Rs 1.60 lakh) for his vehicle (CH01 AS 0647). Every time he went there, he was told to come on the next working day to deposit the road tax without being giving a reason. Now, he has to pay Rs 2.85 lakh as road tax under the revised tax slabs.

A number of vehicle owners, who had been visiting the RLA office regularly to deposit road tax since March 20, were in for a shock when they came to know that the UT had increased the road tax without prior intimation. “I have been coming to the RLA office in Sector 42 for the past several days to pay road tax. However, my file was not accepted and officials kept delaying the matter on one pretext or the other. Now, I have to pay three times the road tax due a fault of the Chandigarh Administration,” said Raj Kumar, a vehicle owner.

Throughout the day, vehicle owners, who had got their vehicles passed during the the past one week, were seen arguing with RLA officials regarding the increase in the tax.

Revised road tax slabs with effect from April 1

According to the new notification, there are two slabs for four-wheelers instead of the three earlier. Slabs for two-wheelers have been increased from two to three.

For four-wheelers, the road tax for new vehicles costing up to Rs 20 lakh will be 6 per cent of the total cost of the vehicle.

Owners of new vehicles costing more than Rs 20 lakh will have to shell out 8 per cent of the vehicle cost. For two-wheelers, the tax on vehicles costing up to Rs 1 lakh will be 3 per cent of the cost of the vehicle. Owners of two-wheelers priced between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 4 lakh will have to pay 4 per cent of the vehicle cost. The tax on new two-wheelers costing above Rs 4 lakh will be 5 per cent of the total cost.

Around 100 left-out numbers in the CH 01 AS series will now be auctioned.

The RLA is inviting applications from bidders.

Earlier, the left-out numbers were allotted on a first-come-first-served basis.



Residents hire langurs to battle monkeys
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

A langur stands guard outside a house in Sector 9, Chandigarh, on Monday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, April 1
City residents have adopted a novel way to ensure their safety from monkey attacks. A number of residents of Sector 9 have hired a langur to keep monkeys at bay.

Terrorised by recent incidents of monkey attacks, residents have hired a langur, Udham, to shoo away monkeys. Monkeys have become a nightmare for residents. They no longer feel safe while sitting on the lawns or moving in courtyards to dry their clothes.

“I have witnessed three attacks by monkeys at my residence during the past three months. In the first incident, a monkey attacked my seven-year-old aunt, who was sitting in the courtyard. The monkey held her arm. We somehow managed to rescue her. There were two more attacks by monkeys following that incident,” said Amita Singh, a resident of Sector 9.

Owners of four houses in Sector 9 are using Udham's services to guard them against monkey attacks. A few more are planning to hire the langur as they are fed up of the monkey menace. The owners of these houses pay Rs 700 per month to the owner of the langur. The langur is made to visit the houses in the morning, afternoon and evening.

Capt Suresh Chaudhry, a resident who has hired Udham after a monkey attacked his gardner's wife, said, “These monkeys hang around our houses because of the green courtyards. They are not to be blamed as they often end up in houses while hunting for food.”

The services of langurs are being used in Sector 15 also. The Residents Welfare Association of Sector 15 has been paying Rs 8,000 each to the owners of two langurs for utilising their services to keep monkeys away. The langurs are made to take rounds of the entire sector.

“Ever since we hired these langurs, the situation has improved significantly. The situation had become unbearable a few months ago when monkeys were seen entering houses and locking these from inside,” said Surinder Sharma, president of the association.



Protected Species
UT Admn cancels contract of langur handlers
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The UT Forest and Wildlife Department has cancelled the contract of langur handlers following a circular issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). According to the Wildlife Protection Act-1972, langur is a protected species under Schedule II and under Sections 2, 8, 9, 11, 40, 41, 43, 48, 51, 61 and 62 of the IPC.

The Sections stipulate that langurs cannot be owned, bought, sold or hired. Any violation of this law is liable to punishable with a three-year jail term or fine or both.

Confirming the development, UT Chief Conservator of Forests-cum-Chief Wildlife Warden Santosh Kumar said after receiving a letter from the MoEF, they immediately cancelled the contract of the langur handlers. They had now left the langurs in the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, he said.

He said they would take action against organisations and individuals who hire or keep langurs.

The Administration had three langurs, Manu, Mangal and Udham, to chase away monkeys. The UT Forest and Wildlife Department used to pay Rs 7,500 each to trainers of these langurs. In all, the department used to pay Rs 2,70,000 to the trainers annually.

Trained monkey catchers

After failing to deal with the monkey menace in the city, the UT Forest and Wildlife Department recently roped in trained monkey catchers to accomplish the task. The department pays Rs 600 to local monkey catchers for each monkey they catch in the city. The monkey catchers also assist the department in releasing the captured monkeys in the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary.



Army commanders honour centenarian veteran
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
On the day he turned 100, Col Kartar Singh (retd) of the Mahar Regiment, a living legacy of military ethos, had two Army commanders felicitating him at a special function organised for veterans at Chandimandir today.

Perhaps the oldest surviving officer, he has now been designated as the Army’s “First Citizen” and also nominated as the Super Veteran of the Western Command. An emotionally surcharged Col Kartar Singh was jointly honoured by the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Command, Lt Gen Sanjiv Chachra, and the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South-Western Command, Lt Gen Gyan Bhushan, who is also the Colonel of the Mahar Regiment.

Col Kartar Singh was commissioned into the Licters British Infantry Unit in 1937, and was nominated for overseas service in Egypt and Sudan in 1940 during World War-II. He was the first Indian commanding officer of the First Battalion of the Mahar Regiment, a specialist machine-gun battalion, from 1947 to 1951. He commanded the battalion during the 1947-48 Indo-Pak war in Jammu and Kashmir, and under his stewardship, the battalion not only played a pivotal role in the operations but also earned the first Mahavir Chakra of independent India. He later commanded the 6 Mahar (Borders) from 1956 to 1958. After his retirement from the Army, he continued to lead an active life as vice-president of the Zila Sainik Board and later as sarpanch of his village for 25 years.



SIT to probe Jyoti murder case
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 1
A special investigation team (SIT) has been formed to investigate the Jyoti murder case. The SIT was formed after Jyoti's father filed an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court alleging that the police was being influenced by the main accused, Doon MLA Ram Kumar Chaudhary. Several objections were raised by the district attorney when the challan was sent to him for confirmation.

The SIT will comprise Panchkula Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Ashwin Shenvi, Panchkula Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Virender Sangwan and Naraingarh ACP Suresh Kumar.

In his appeal, Jyoti's father alleged that the police was conniving with Chaudhary and might destroy evidence.

He requested the court to either get the investigation done from a separate investigating agency or by a senior officer.

A report of the Forensic Science Laboratory had recently revealed that Chaudhary's hair samples did not match with those found on the victim’s sweater at the time of the murder.

The court had then sent a notice to the Panchkula police asking it to prepare a complete report about the case.

The case will come up for hearing on April 9.

Jyoti (24) was found murdered on a road in Sector 21, Panchkula, on November 22 last year.

Police files plea

The Panchkula police has moved an application in the court requesting to bring Chaudhary from the Ambala jail on production warrants to take his handwriting samples again.

The police wants to match the samples with the handwriting on Jyoti’s abortion papers.



Fiscal 2013-14
GMADA to spend Rs 1,160 crore on Mohali development
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 1
The town would witness substantial development in the future as the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) has planned to spend about Rs 1,160 crore on developmental works and Rs 380 crore on infrastructure building this financial year.

According to sources, under its proposed budget for the new fiscal (2013-14), the GMADA authorities have decided to spend a total Rs 4,800 crore, which is Rs 1,300 crore more than the previous budget. Last year, the estimated expenditure under the budget was Rs 3500.38 crore.

The sources said a major part of the proposed budget would be spent on land acquisition. "This year, the proposed expenditure on the acquisition of land will be nearly Rs 2,300 crore," said the sources.

Notably, about 80 per cent of the total land (proposed to be acquired for various projects during the last fiscal) could not be acquired and GMADA has to surrender Rs 569 crore at the end of the last fiscal.

On development works, for which about Rs 1,160 crore has been set aside, about Rs 500 crore would be spent on the completion of an innovative housing project, Purab Apartment at Sector 88, while there is a proposal to construct 3,400 EWS houses at a cost of Rs 20 crore.

The other major developmental projects include Knowledge City, IT City, Urban Estate at Sector 82-A and 83 at a cost of Rs 215 crore, Eco-City I at a cost of Rs 127 crore and the development of Aerocity at a cost of Rs 125 crore.

A senior official of GMADA claimed that the town would have a top-class grid of road network as Rs 380 crore had been proposed to be spent on roads this fiscal. "About Rs 121 crore will be spent on grid roads in various sectors of the town while for the strengthening and recarpeting of the internal roads in the town, GMADA is going to spend Rs 30 crore. The rest of the amount will be spent on the other connecting roads and junctions".



Mohali collector rates hiked by up to 17%
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 1
The district administration today increased the collector rates by up to 17 per cent for residential and commercial properties here. Terming the increase very marginal, Mohali Deputy Commissioner Varun Roojam said the hike in the rates varied in the different areas of the town.

Under the revised collector rates, there is a 9 per cent increase in the existing rates in the residential areas in sectors 55, 56, 57, 58 and 59 while in sector 60 and 61 there is an increase of maximum 17 per cent in the rates. In sectors 63, 64 and 65, the new rates will be 13 per cent more than the present rates whereas in sectors 76, 77, 78 and 80, the increase in the rates is 10 per cent.

Earlier, the rates on residential property were Rs 25,000 per sq yd in the old sectors, including Phase 1 to 11, sectors 67,68, 69, 70 and 71 while in the new sectors (from Sector 76 to 80) the rates were Rs 22,000 per sq yd and Rs 20,000 in the sector 81 and further.

Similarly, the authorities have hiked the rates by 4 per cent for commercial properties in sectors 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 63, 64 and 65 and 10 per cent in sectors 60, 61, 69 and 70. Earlier, the collector rates on commercial property, Rs 1.10 lakh per sq yd, were uniform in all sectors.

With regard to industrial property, there is an increase of 10 per cent against the present collector rates of Rs 10,000 per sq yard.

Shailender Anand, president of the Mohali Property Consultant Association, said the increase in the collector rates would have adverse effects on the property scenario, which is already facing a slump.



Rs 2 lakh aid for acid attack victim
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The UT Administrator, Shivraj V Patil, today gave directions to the UT Home Secretary to immediately give a minimum compensation of Rs 2 lakh to an acid attack victim. The directions were issued during a public hearing session, which was organised at the UT Secretariat, Sector 9, today. Only four complainants turned up at the session.

Neha Thakur, an acid attack victim, had requested the Administrator to provide her compensation. Patil also said if the court orders for more compensation, then the UT would follow its orders.

On November 28, 2011, 19-year-old Neha, who works as a sales service associate at a mall in Industrial Area, Phase I, Chandigarh, was attacked by two motorcycle-borne youngsters. They threw acid on the victim near the Sector 28 light point.

Later in April 2012, the police had arrested the main accused, Amandeep. In the complaint, Neha’s brother had alleged that Amandeep was mentally harassing his sister and used to call her during the late hours. He had picked a fight with her over a financial issue on the day he threw acid on her face.

In another case brought up at the hearing session, RTI activist RK Garg raised the issue of public concern. He said flesh trade had gone hi-tech. The UT police IG, RP Upadhayay, apprised the Administrator that a case had been registered and the police was taking all necessary steps to check this practice.

In another complaint, Ramesh Kumar of Palsora Colony complained that his name was not considered in a "biometric survey". Patil assured him that his case would be considered sympathetically according to the rules.



New turn to Mohali case
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 1
The case involving a person who allegedly took away a Mahindra Verito car and Rs 1 lakh from his friend, took an interesting turn when he produced documents showing that the girl had herself given the car to him to settle some payment issue.

Today, a relative of the accused, Avi Karan, alias Amarjeet Singh, a resident of Mundi Kharar, handed over the copies of an affidavit (dated March 16, 2013), carrying the signature of the complainant, Geeta Arya, in which it was stated that she was giving her car (HR23E 0402) to Amarjit Singh to settle a payment issue with him. “Geeta’s friend Simran Jeet Kaur had signed as witness on the affidavit,” alleged the relative while showing the copies of the affidavit. He alleged that Geeta, along with two other women, used to send people abroad and Amarjeet Singh worked with them as a commission agent.

“After giving her car and cash to Amarjeet Singh, she had falsely implicated him,” alleged the relative.

SHO Kamaljit Singh said he had got the copies of the affidavit. “Geeta has alleged that her signature on the affidavit was forged. We are investigating the case,” he said. Notably, the police had registered a case under Sections 406 and 120-B against Amarjeet Singh, his father Harbhajan Singh and his mother Rajinder Kaur, following a complaint filed by Geeta Arya. She had alleged that the accused had taken away her car and cash, which she had given to him in good faith around 10 days ago.

The accused has been disowned by his family. Geeta, who has been staying in Phase VI as a paying guest, alleged he had come into contact with the accused through her friend just a few days ago.



Electricity Department denies information under RTI Act
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The UT Electricity Department has denied information sought under the Right to Information Act to one of its former employees. The applicant, RL Arora, had filed an RTI application seeking answers to ten questions in May last year.

Arora, however, has been battling to elicit a response from the department till date. Some of the questions included total sanctioned strength of complete technical staff comprising of all categories, i.e. Class I, II, III and IV, as well as work charge and daily wage staff under the control of the Electricity OpCircle Chandigarh. Arora also asked for names of all the technical persons posted in the sub divisions, divisions, circle office or any other office under the control of the Electricity OpCircle Chandigarh.

The Central Public Information Officer, however, refused to provide the information, stating that no information was available, however, as per guidelines issued by the Ministry of Personnel and Training, the public information officer is not supposed to create information or to interpret information or to solve the problems raised by the applicant or to furnish replies to hypothetical questions, in response to most of the questions.

Arora moved an appeal to the appellate authority, Superintending Engineer, Electricity, MP Singh, in June Last year but to no avail. When contacted, MP Singh said, “The applicant is free to file an appeal to the Central Information Commission.”



Rs 130-cr drug haul
Accused a notorious peddler
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 1
Satinder Singh Dhamma, one of the accused in the Rs 130-crore drug haul case in which pugilist Vijender Singh’s involvement has cropped up, has been a notorious drug peddler and was even held by the Panchkula police in another drug haul case. Dhamma was later let out on bail. Sources said that apart from Dhama, many other persons from Panchkula may have a role in the Rs 130-crore drug haul case.

Dhamma’s residence was also raided by the Punjab Police but he was not there.

Dhamma was arrested in September 2011 by the Panchkula Crime Investigating Agency from his residence at Sector 15, Panchkula. He was caught with eight other persons for running his illegal business in contrabands from a house in Sector 9, Panchkula. Though he fled from the spot, he was arrested later and a pistol was also recovered. After a month, he was granted bail by the court but he is still facing trial in the case.

One of the accused in this case was putting up abroad and it is believed that Dhamma had links with non-resident Indians.

Dhamma’s brother is a CBI official. International boxer Vijender Singh has also been accused of being involved in the drug trafficking racket, along with his friend Ram Singh. Around 26 kgs of heroin was seized from an NRI’s house in Zirakpur.



Road gullies: MC staff fail to collect garbage
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The city residents are facing inconvenience, as the Municipal Corporation staff has failed to collect the garbage removed from road gullies in various parts of the city. In many parts of the city, garbage is still lying near road gullies, which the Municipal Corporation claimed to have cleaned recently.

Former Mayor and councillor Raj Bala Malik had raised this issue at a recent House meeting. She had pointed out that in the various parts of the city, the MC staff had failed collect the garbage piled up near the road gullies for many weeks.

Sunil Chopra, Joint Secretary of the Federation of Sector Welfare Association Chandigarh (FOSWAC), said this problem was prevalent in many parts of the city. The MC authorities should lift the garbage immediately after cleaning the road gullies, he added.



Philips workers strike work for fifth day
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 1
The strike at the unit of Philips company in Industrial Area-Phase IX entered the fifth day today. Staging a dharna, the employees raised anti-management and anti-government slogans. They demanded an immediate action against the management.

We are lowly paid and the management is indifferent to our demands. This was the main reason behind the strike, said Mamchand, president of the Philips India Ltd Employees’ Union-Mohali.

“The hike in our salary is meager. It is unacceptable,” he said. Mamchand also accused the management of indulging in unfair practices including an attempt to break the union.

“We have given them our charter of demand. If our demands would are not met immediately, we will hold a rally and blocked the road and rail traffic,” he said.

A senior official of the company said talks were on with the employees to end the strike.



PEC director’s post
Professor questions selection process
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Raising questions over the selection process for the post of PEC Director, during a Public Darbar of the UT Administrator, a professor from Delhi Technological University (DTU) stated that his name was recommended by the Vice-Chancellor of the university as desired by the UT. However, he was not provided an opportunity to appear for the interview that was held on March 12.

A Professor of Mechanical Engineering, RS Mishra, stated that he didn’t get any communication from the UT administration regarding the interview. “I came to know about the interviews a day after they were held following which the same day I even informed the UT that I did not get any communication,” Mishra said.

Mishra claimed that on the basis of his representation, the UT Administration had assured him that he would be called for the interview.

The UT Secretary of Technical Education in December, 2012, had written to all the peer engineering institutes, including the IIT, NIT, DTU, BITS, CSIO and IMTECH, informing them about a search committee being constituted for the selection to the post of director, and seeking recommendations of candidates from these institutes. The letter also mentioned that the UT Administration is looking for an eminent person from the field of technical education, preferably from the IIT or the NIT.

Interestingly, out of a total of nine candidates, who were in the race for the post of PEC Director, four were from the DTU, including RS Mishra. Three of them received the communication sent by the UT regarding the interview.

Finance Secretary-cum-Secretary, Technical Education, VK Singh stated that a communication to all the engineering institutes was sent, as through the institutes only the names of the candidates were recommended. It’s surprising the other three candidates from the DTU knew about the interviews. “It’s the selection panel which will decide whether a candidate will be called for the interview or not”, Singh said.

The five-year tenure of the PEC Director, Manoj Datta, ended on March 31. However, in view of the ongoing selection process, Datta has been given a three-month extension.



NIPER students call off strike
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 1
The issue at the National Institute of Pharmaceuticals Education and Research (NIPER) at Sector 67 resolved today with the students resuming their classes here. “The strike has been called off for the time being,” said a member of the committee, formed by the students to hold talks with the management on the issue.

According to him, the management had shown the documents related to the termination of professor Prikshit Bansal to the committee. “The reasons behind the termination seemed genuine. The message was conveyed to other students, following which we decided to call off our strike,” said the member.

He said the students had also discussed other issues, including hiring of placement agency or some professional for placement issues, expansion of library and setting up of wifi system here, with the management.

“The management has agreed to start work on these issues within 15 days,” said the student.

Professor Bansal, on whose termination the students were holding strike since Thursday, said he should have been given a three-month notice before termination under the rules.

“About 15 students were doing research projects under me. These projects have come to a halt now,” said Bansal. He said if he would have been given a three-month notice, he could have completed their projects.

The management had shown the documents related to the termination of professor Prikshit Bansal to the committee. The reasons behind the termination seemed genuine. The message was conveyed to other students, following which we decided to call off our strike

— A member of the students’ committee



Dept sends forms, tells pvt schools to enrol students
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Even as private schools refused to enrol the Economically Weaker Section and disadvantaged group students for the next academic session, the UT Education Department started sending registration forms of students to their respective private schools, ordering them to enrol the students in the next three-four days.

The department received 227 application forms in response to its centralised admission process initiated for the vacant RTE seats last month.

In the orders issued today, private schools are told to display in their notice boards the list of these students by April 5 and call their parents for their admission a day after.

District Education Officer RK Sharma said the registration forms would reach the schools by tomorrow.

A senior official said: “Schools cannot deny giving admission against the RTE seats as part of their statutory responsibility to adhere to the Right to Education Act. In case, they show their resistance, strong action will be taken against them. It can also result in their de-recognition.”

However, schools are on the adamant stand. RD Singh, secretary of the Independent Schools Association, Chandigarh, said unless the Education Department clarified the pending RTE issues, there was no question of enrolling students on the vacant reserved seats.

Officials of the department said they were on the verge of finishing their official process of key demands of the schools.

“The high-level committee has already recommended the per child reimbursement rates and in a few days, all schools will start getting the reimbursement,” said an official.

“As far as separate notification for the entry level admission is concerned, the official file is already put up for the state notification,” he said.



UBS students begin doorstep facility for Panjab varsity hostel inmates
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Next time you have your exam and you need to get notes photocopied from your friend, don’t waste time by going to the market. Just call “Q service - save your time” started by a group of students of University Business School (UBS), who provide everything at the doorstep in the hostels.

A hostel resident just need to call at a number and place the order whether it’s food from the neighbouring Sector 15 market or recharge coupons.

A group of first-year students, including Navdeep, Deepak Tinna, Shubham Bansal and Rhythm Sharma, has started the doorstep facility for the hostel residents for which they charge Rs 5 per delivery.

Navdeep, one of the group members, said students could get pizzas and food delivered at the hostel. But, they need to go out for every small thing, including recharge coupons, stationery, etc.

“Many students don’t have vehicles. They have to walk from hostels to the markets for everything. We are providing everything at their doorstep with just Rs 5 as the service charge,” he said.

UBS students, who have recently started the service, are getting 10 to 15 orders everyday.

Presently, the service has been started from 5 pm to 9 pm. The students are planning to increase the delivery time once the academic session begins. USB students have also recruited a delivery boy for this purpose.

There are over 7,000 hostel residents in all boys’ and girls’ hostels at Panjab University and the team aims at targeting these residents.

“We are advertising our phone number among PU students through which they can avail our services,” said Deepak, another group member.

UBS students want to spread this service to the entire tricity in the coming years.



Increased working hours
UT schoolteachers up in arms against department
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
UT schoolteachers are up in arms against the Education Department’s latest decision to increase their working hours by 40 minutes, which came into effect from today. Members of the Joint Action Committee of the Teachers Union unanimously condemned the orders in their meeting held today. They also called a meeting of UT teachers tomorrow to take a final call on this issue.

Swaran Singh Kamboj, one of the members of the committee, said the orders should be immediately withdrawn since there was no point implementing the Right to Education Act where several key issues relating to infrastructure development and other issues were still pending.

As per information, the move to increase the working hours of teachers to 40 hours per week from 36 hours per week at present has been taken in compliance with the Right to Education Act and involve them in academic activities during the extra time.

Vinod Sharma, president of the Government Teachers Union, said the decision had been taken in a dictatorial way with no prior consent of teachers.

The department could not implement the Act when there was a severe shortage of teachers in schools. The association members said they would spearhead their protest if the orders were not withdrawal.

While the number of school hours for students remains the same, the teaching facility has been asked to leave the school after spending additional 40 minutes. The timings of double shift schools have also been changed accordingly.

Officials said the purpose of additional time after school hours was purely perusal of academic work and part of the RTE compliance, which could not be taken back.



Degrees conferred on 860 MCM DAV students
Tribune News Service

Students in a jubilant mood after receiving their degrees during the annual convocation of the MCM DAV College for Women in Chandigarh on Monday. Tribune Photo: Manoj Mahajan

Chandigarh, April 1
The 41st annual convocation of the MCM DAV College for Women was held here today. Around 860 students were awarded degrees in various graduate and postgraduate streams. More than 30 students received special prizes for their outstanding achievements in the PU annual examinations.

Justice AK Sikri, Chief Justice, Panjab and Haryana High Court, was the chief guest on the occasion.

In keeping with the MCM tradition of nurturing bonds between the teacher and the students, the illustrious alumnae of the college were specially honoured on the occasion. Among these were Darvir Raj, a PCS officer, Mamta Mehta, advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court, and Payal Sodhi from the People For Animal.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief guest endorsed the exceptional efforts of the institution in the field of education for women.

Principal Dr Puneet Bedi congratulated the degree holders.



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