C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


UT, MC asked to improve lights on streets
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The Ministry of Urban Development has asked the UT Administration and the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation to improve street lighting in the city for the safety and security of residents, particularly of women.

The ministry’s order ‘Electric light and most efficient policeman’ comes in the wake of the Delhi gangrape incident. The ministry has also asked the authorities to submit an action taken report on the functioning of the streetlights in the city.

During a surprise check, the chairman of the MC’s electricity committee found 70 to 90 per cent streetlights non-functional in some areas.

A letter issued by the Secretary, Urban Development, Sudhir Krishna, to UT Adviser KK Sharma reads: “Street lighting is a concern for the authorities due to its strategic importance for economic and social activity and for the security of residents. Street lighting only improves the safety conditions for vehicles and pedestrians, but helps in improving the safety and security of citizens, particularly that of women.”

“Needless to say, we feel safer in a well-lit street. Some of the possible benefits are that the police presence becomes more visible, thus preventing crime. Improved street lighting can encourage more people to walk at night, which also increases informal surveillance. The recent report of the committee on amendments to criminal law (Justice Verma Committee) has also underscored the importance of street lighting in the context of safety and security of women,” letter reads.

Use energy efficient technologies

The ministry also asked the authorities to go in for new energy efficient technologies and designs that could cut street lighting costs and provide the capital for alternative energy solutions for populations in villages and remote areas.



Sobbing a thing of the past for tiny tots
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Gone are the days when your child’s road to formal education used to begin with tears. With technology and exposure on their side, today’s tiny tots are not seen sobbing on the first day of their school and are adapting fast to the classroom activities.

“There has been a major shift in the behavioural pattern of children over a period of time,” said Annie Charles, co-principal of Mount Carmel Convent School, Sector 47. “A majority of tiny tots don’t cry now and it is surprising how quickly they adapt to the new environment,” she said.

Poonam Rawat, a parent, said her son was ‘cool’ on the first day of his school. “Rather, I was worried,” she said.

Many feel that children are exposed to technology at home. They don’t adapt well to the environment in modern classroom. Besides, outdoor activities in schools keep tiny tots busy.

Monika Chawla, vice-principal of the St Joseph’s, Sector 44, said the technology has played an important role making the children confident. Besides, many children have the experience of pre-schooling with them. This plays a vital role when they start their formal schooling at the pre-nursery-level, she said.

However, psychologists see the smooth transition from home to schools through different prism. Harpreet Chabbra, associate professor, department of psychology, said with the nuclear family structure where both the parents are working, children don’t get an opportunity to engage in homely activities. Schools on the other hand provide them a lively environment.



Fire breaks out in house, four rescued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Four persons, including two children, were rescued by the fire and emergency department after a fire broke out in a house at Sector 35-C in the wee hours of Saturday.

Fire officials managed to douse the within 15 minutes. The incident took place at the second floor of house no. 2285, Sector 35-C. Fire officials said they received a call at 1.42 am and immediately four fire tenders from the Sector 17 fire station and the Sector 38 fire station and a hydraulic platform-cum-turntable fire engine were rushed to the spot.

The fire officials rescued Dr Vikram Singh, his wife, nine-year-old son and six-year-old daughter, with the help of the ladder as the main entrance was blocked due to the fire.

Dr Vikram Singh was running a cosmetic laser clinic at the second floor. Besides the laser clinic items, household goods like sofa and air-conditioners gutted.

ML Sharma, station fire officer, Sector 17, said prima facie it appeared that the fire broke out due to short-circuit.



15 from city make it to IIMs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Fifteen students from the city have made it to three IIMs. Out of the 13 IIMs that conducted group discussions and interviews, three institutes, including IIMs at Bangalore, Kolkata and Ahmedabad, have declared their results.

Vinay Parnami, who got a call from IIM Calcutta, said: “I feel on top of the world. My hard work has paid off and my family is elated.”

Another student, Anshul Garg, a resident of Panchkula, who topped CAT, received calls from IIM Calcutta and IIM Ahmedabad.

This year, the IIMs considered Classes X, XII and graduation scores along with the CAT score in the interview.

Those who made it to the IIMs from the city include Abhinav Gupta, Ankita Goyal, Anshul Garg, Arshia Verma, Harpreet Kaur, Harshvardhan, Himanshu Popli, Ishansh Singh, Mukul Mathur, Shourya Suhag, Supreet kaur, Tania Garg, Vinay Parnami and Vishesh Nagpal.



Colourful start to puppetry theatre fest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The first Chandigarh International Puppetry Theatre Festival began at Tagore Theatre with a colourful performance by members of Moscow Puppet Theatre.

The festival is jointly organised by the UT Administration and Ishara International Puppet Theatre Trust, Delhi. Members of Moscow Puppet Theatre presented Russian folktales on the first day of the festival. The show was based on folktale Masha and Bear. Masha strayed into the forest only to found herself in a naughty bear’s house.

On Sunday, Train Theatre from Israel will stage ‘The cubes circus’, followed by ‘Garbage for plums’ to be performed by Bulgaria’s Pro Rodopi Art Centre.



Navratra festival
Cases of missing children on rise
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 13
Many children come sobbing and cling to the security guard. Due to the carelessness on the part of parents, many missing cases of children are being reported during the ongoing Navrtara festival at Mansa Devi Shrine. According to the information centre, as many as 50 children went missing in just three days, though later on, they were reunited with their parents.

No lessons seem to have been learnt from the Nishant kidnapping that took place in 2011.

In 2011, during the Navratra festival, a 10-month-old infant, Nishant, was kidnapped by a couple under the garb of a good samaritan while he was standing with his mother in a queue waiting for his turn to pay obeisance at the shrine. It was after six months of the incident that the police recovered the child from Gurdaspur and the investigations had revealed that the child was sold twice.

“Till now as many as 50 children went missing during the last three days of the festival. Most of the children were between the age of two and five years. All have been reunited with their parents,” said Pooran Singh, the person who makes announcement at the information centre.

Two women who are actually anganwadi workers have been deployed to specially handle the children. Describing the difficult task, Pooran Singh said, “It is a difficult task because till the time the children are not united with their family they keep crying.”

Those toddlers who can't even tell their name have to be identified with the colour of their dress or shoes.

“The situation is all the more worse when a missing child doesn't reach us but their parents do and the mother starts crying,” said another official.

Announcements are made 24 hours throughout the fest. Even at 3 am, when devotees start queuing up to pay obeisance, officials are still present at the announcement center and cases do come up during those wee hours as well.

Parents have been advised by the shrine board to be careful after the Nishant kidnapping case.



STA starts issuing RCs

The Chandigarh School Bus Operators Welfare Association has thanked the Home Secretary and Secretary of the State Transport Authority for starting the issuing of registration certificate of the commercial vehicles at the office of the State Transport Authority (STA). Manjeet Singh, president of the association, said it has saved the bus operators from lot of harassment.

Website launched

Members of Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sector 19-D, Chandigarh, during the launch of the website.On the occasion of Baisakhi, the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sector 19-D, Chandigarh, launched its official website- www.gurudwarasec19chd.com. The website was launched by gurdwara sahib president Avtar Singh, who was accompanied by senior vice-president Tejinder Pal Singh, Paramjeet Singh and Harpreet Singh Bhatia.

Members of Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sector 19-D, Chandigarh, during the launch of the website. A Tribune photograph


A five-day workshop on qualitative research by the School of Public Health concluded on Saturday. Dr Rajesh Kumar, head of school of public health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, presided over the valedictory function. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Rajesh Kumar emphasised on the need of research for the progress and betterment of the society. Persons from diverse fields and backgrounds took part in the workshop. As many as 32 participants attended the workshop including, MD and PhD students from Shimla, Mumbai, Ludhiana, Madhurai and Orissa.

Singer flays ban

Renowned Punjabi singer and actor Nishawn Bhullar on Saturday termed the ban imposed on Punjabi movie "Sadda Haq" as unfortunate. Nishawn Singh Bhullar said when the Indian Censor Board has passed this movie as per its standards; Punjab government has no right to ban the creative work. He said that the Punjab government has banned the movie under a hasty decision, which has raised question not only over the credibility of the Punjab government but of Central Censor Board as well.

Awareness programme

An awareness programme for school students and eco-club in charges on medicinal plants was held on Saturday at the Botanical Garden, Sarangpur. Santosh Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Medicinal Plants Board, Chandigarh, was the chief guest on the occasion. Santosh Kumar emphasised on the need to spread awareness about medicinal plants among the students.

Rally organised

The residents of Colony No 5 on Saturday organised a rally and invited Pawan Kumar Bansal, Minister of Railways, on the event to discuss their problems regarding the allotment of flats. Harphool Chander Kalyan, area councillor, was also present on the function. The rally was addressed by Mohinder Chaudhary, Kamal Gupta, Minakshi Chaudhary, Hameed, Azad Miyan, Dharmvir, Osman Khan, Sonu Gupta, Charan Singh and Mishra. The minister assured the residents of colony that every problem regarding the allotment of flat would be looked into on priority basis. He also assured the residents that he was also making arrangements for direct trains to different towns of UP and Bihar.


A meeting of the J&K Dogra Sabha, Chandigarh, was held at Bal Mandir in Sector 29. In the meeting, the sabha pointed out that a large number of patients coming from J&K to Chandigarh were facing a great difficulty in getting the medicines. The sabha members suggested a tie-up with some NGO to assist the patients.

Mohali scan

Star nite

The entire team of the movie "Daddy Cool Munde Fool" participated in the star nite organised by the Aryans Group of Colleges. For the event, the team reached Aryans Campus located in Nepra village, near Chandigarh and entertained a gathering of about 4,000 spectators from the surrounding villages. As the team reached the college campus, it was welcomed by Dr Anshu Kataria, chairman, Aryans Group of Colleges.

Placement drive

A placement drive was organised at Desh Bhagat University by training and placement cell of the college. On the fifth day of placement drive, around 110 students were short-listed by different companies. Dr. Shalini Gupta, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Desh Bhagat University, said a number of national and international companies participated in the drive.

Panchkula scan

Fest concludes

On the concluding day of seven-day-long fest "Ingnieria 13" organised on the campus of the SRM Global a star nite was organised on Saturday in which a large number of students participated with great fanfare and enthusiasms. Renowned Punjabi singer Sharry Maan was the star of the night. He specially engaged the audience with his hit numbers. Kuldeep Sharma, Speaker, Haryana Vidhan Sabha, was the chief guest on this occasion. Roshan Lal Jindal, CMD of the SRM Group; Ritu Jindal, chairperson of the group, and various other eminent personalities were also present on the occasion. — TNS



Voice disorder: Think twice before screaming next time
240 adults diagnosed with problem in a month
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The average number of voice disorder cases in children at the PGIMER has been found to be comparatively lesser than those reported in adults. This signifies lack of awareness among parents in identifying the problem in children, say experts. The actual prevalence is expected to be much higher since the children scream a lot without realising the scope of damage.

Of all the cases reaching the ENT department, an average of 30 cases of voice disorder are found among children in a month while the monthly figure touches 240 in adults.

"Children with voice disorders complain that they are not able to speak aloud," said, Dr N Banumathy, speech and hearing unit, department of ENT.

"It is important for parents and teachers to sensitise children on voice modulation and not to strain their vocal chords by screaming and yelling," said Dr Banumathy.

The experts said voice disorders and ailments were the most common among teachers and singers due to their professional demands. Teachers and singers should take regular breaks between their vocal sessions," said

Dr Naresh Panda, head, department of otolaryngology, PGIMER.

Other than this, hydration (regular intake of water) can help prevent voice disorders," said Dr Anurag Ramavat.A public health lecture will be delivered by the faculty of the department of ENT at the C Block of the new OPD from 12.30 pm to 1.30 pm on April 12 to mark World Voice Day that falls on April 16.

What is a voice disorder?

A voice disorder exists when a person's quality, pitch and loudness differ from those of similar age, gender, cultural background and geographic location. Patients should be concerned when there is persistent vocal quality change, including breathlessness, hoarseness or complete loss of voice. Other symptoms also include a persistent irritation or pain in the throat, persistent feeling that the voice is "stuck" in the throat, vocal fatigue and persistent pitch breaks.

Common causes of voice disorder

Environmental pollution, dust, obesity, high consumption of caffeine-rich drinks like coffee and tea and intake of alcohol cause voice disorder.



Chandigarh to Ludhiana rail link inspected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The Chandigarh-Ludhiana rail link was inspected today by the Chief Commissioner of Rail Safety (CCRS). The inspection team was led by RK Kardam, northern circle, CCRS. Divisional Railway Manager PK Sangi of the Ambala division was also present during the inspection. The team inspected 17 km track from New Morinda to Khamano.

During the inspection, the team inspeced the works related to mechanical, civil, electrical, bridges, signal engineering service and over head electrical wires.

After inspecting the rail link, a report will be prepared on the basis of which the permission to ply the trains will be given to the authorities.

As per the norms, the railway authorities cannot ply the trains on the track till a team of CCRS inspects it.

The rail link will be inspected for three days from April 13 to 15 by the CCRS team. Sources said that no major loopholes were pointed out by the team during inspection. 



MC’s fire department in need of help
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Strange but true, the fire and emergency department of the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation is ill-equipped to deal with any untoward incident. The department is facing an acute staff shortage. It lacks fire-fighting gear. Despite this, the civic body is observing the Fire Safety Week from April 14 to 20.

A majority of vehicles need to be replaced. An employee of the department said there were only two hydraulic machines with the department to deal with fire incidents in high-rise buildings. There is also scarcity of fire-safety suits.

The issue pertaining to the insurance policy for the firemen has been hanging fire for the past many years.

Another employee said the wireless system of the department was very poor. On many occasions, they failed to send a message to the field staff, he added.

"The department is ill-equipped, the wireless system also develops a snag sometimes," said a member of the firemen association's executive committee, MC.

MC fails to act

The fire wing has failed to inspect the fire-safety norms in buildings. The MC has served 500 notices in the past one year and only four buildings, including three in Sector 34 and one in Industrial Area, have been sealed in the past four years for flouting norms.

Only two meetings in 15 months

Seriousness of the MC officials and councillors can be gauged from the fact that the Fire and Emergency Committee of the Municipal Corporation, consisting of councillors and officials, has met only on two occasions in the past 15 months, to discuss the issues related to the fire and emergency department.



Welfare board employees without salary
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Twelve employees of the Chandigarh Social Welfare have not been paid salary for the month of March. Sources said the board had not even received the grant sanctioned by the UT Administration. They said the board had reminded the authorities a number of times for the release of the grant, but to no avail.

The UT Administration has not released a grant of Rs 60.43 lakh for the past three years.

In 2011-12, the board was to get Rs 3 lakh, in 2012-13, the Administration sanctioned Rs 17 lakh and this year, the board was supposed to get Rs 40 lakh.

Chairman of the Chandigarh Social Welfare Board Kamlesh said they met the officials of the UT Administration, who assured them of doing the needful.

A senior official said the grant-in-aid to the board was delayed as the Government of India was yet to release funds.

The sources said due to the shortage of funds, the board was forced to delay the payment of salary by 10 days in March. Officials of the board said they could not clear other dues under the non-plan heads of the current financial year due to the non-availability of funds.



School bus fare goes up by 10-15%
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
After the hike in school fee, parents have been further burdened by a hike in the school bus fare. Bus operators in the tricity have hiked their transportation charges by 10 to 15 per cent. Like school authorities, these operators too had deferred the hike due to a pending litigation in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Manjit Singh, president of Chandigarh School Bus Operator Welfare Association, said the hike in transportation charges was long due. Despite a massive increase in diesel prices, bus operators could not increase fares due to the pending case. “After the judgement we are forced to increase the fare because fuel charges have gone up by around 20 per cent in the recent months,” said Manjit Singh.

Besides the hike in monthly fare, there has also been an increase in the one-time insurance charges, for which parents are being asked to pay Rs 500 per ward. A bus operator said the annual insurance charges for a 42-seater bus increased to Rs 50,000 from Rs 32,000 last year, the burden of which had to be borne by parents.

A parent, Manish Kumar, said there seemed to be no end to their woes. Already reeling under the pressure of increased admission fee and other related expenses, the hike in school bus fair has multiplied the pressure on them, he said.

Some parents also claimed that bus operators had hiked fares by up to 20 to 30 per cent. Bus operators’ body, however, refuted the claim saying that despite a massive hike in their fuel expenses, the fare hike had been kept in the range of 10 to 15 per cent.

There are nearly 1,000 buses ferrying over 30,000 students in the tricity.

Hike in insurance charges too

Besides the hike in monthly fare, there has also been an increase in the one-time insurance charges, for which parents are being asked to pay Rs 500 per ward. A bus operator said the annual insurance charges for a 42-seater bus increased to Rs 50,000 from Rs 32,000 last year, the burden of which had to be borne by parents.



PU mulls increase in qualifying marks for PG in English
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
Getting admitted to the postgraduate course in English at Panjab University might become tougher from the next academic session with the authorities mulling an increase in the qualifying marks for the entrance exam.

A departmental committee took the decision in a bid to ensure that only those students who were proficient in English and had an aptitude for the language were admitted to the course, which is among the most popular postgraduate courses of the arts disciplines at Panjab University.

The English department receives over 500 applications against 100 seats available at the postgraduate level.

Professor Akshaya Kumar of the English department, who was part of the committee that decided to raise the qualifying percentage from the existing 20 per cent to 35 per cent, said the university wanted to ensure that students joining the postgraduate course in English had an aptitude for the subject and at least had the basic writing skills.

Kumar said the criterion of having only 20 per cent marks as the passing marks was being followed nowhere else.

The PU officials said it was important that students who applied for the entrance test were familiar with basics of the language, which could only be judged by increasing the qualifying marks.

The entrance test for the MA (English) that comes under the Common Entrance Test (CET) conducted by the university will be held on June 17.

The proposal to raise the qualifying marks will be tabled before the Syndicate in its forthcoming meeting on April 15.

The issue of 25 per cent concession in the tuition fee of self-financed courses for wards of the retired teachers of affiliated colleges on a par with the in-service college teachers will also be discussed during the meeting.



From schools
Balloon Day

Chandigarh: Nearly 90 kindergarten students of St Joseph's Senior Secondary School celebrated Balloon Day. Children were thrilled to see their classrooms decorated with balloons. They danced to the tunes of some popular songs, while tossing balloons up and down. Children beamed with energy while filling air in balloons.

Orientation programme

Mohali: Mind Tree School, Kharar, organized 'Parichay', an orientation programme for parents of children admitted to the kindergarten and primary section. Parents were introduced to unique teaching methodologies. They were also given tips on parenting. A discussion on how parents and the school could work together in bringing the best out of children also took place. Stress was laid on reading and comprehension skills.

Mock drill

Panchkula: A special mock drill was organised on the premises of Blue Bird school on Fire Brigade Day. Students of Classes III & IV participated in the drill along with teachers. They were told how to face an emergency situation during a lecture in the morning assembly.

Pre-school inaugurated

A new pre-school, SMD Little Champ School, opened in Panchkula on Saturday. Director Naresh Gupta and principal Nivedita Vig welcomed everyone. Children impressed all with their creativity and skills during an event in which they were given crayons to display their artistic talent. — TNS



21 Canadian institutes to take part in education fair today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
After Australia, Canada is emerging as the most sought destination for Indian students. “The number of Indian students joining Canada-based universities has crossed 12,000 from around 3,000 two to three years ago,” said Karuna Ausman, manager, international recruitment and partnerships, University of Waterloo.

To cater to this demand, representatives of as many as 21 Canadian institutes of higher learning will come together during ‘Study in Canada Mega Education Fair and Admissions Workshop’ at Hotel Taj on April 14.

Allison Rudko, international student admissions adviser, Capilano University, said Canada was also giving an annual average scholarship of up to 10,000 Canadian Dollars to meritorious students. Moreover, studying in Canada turns out to be 20 to 30 per cent cheaper than other English-speaking countries, Rudko said.

Manish Paitka, local organiser of the event, said all the institutes participating in the fair were supported and funded by the Canadian Government.

“The Canadian Government has introduced the Students’ Partners Programme (SPP) exclusively for Indian students. Canadians universities are here to explain provisions of this programme to local students. The specialty of this programme is that students have to pay the tuition fee for only one semester in advance,” he said.



Higher education
Emphasis on quality during five-year plan
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
The higher education sector in India has witnessed a drastic expansion during the Eleventh Five Year Plan with 272 new universities, around 12,000 colleges and 5,000 diploma institutes setting up their campuses across the country.

Everyday on an average nearly 5,000 students get enrolled to various higher education programmes, said Pawan Agarwal, Adviser (Higher Education), Planning Commission, during a lecture at Panjab University.

Mentioning the growth during the plan period between 2007 and 2012, Agarwal said the total number of universities had gone up to 659 from 387, number of colleges to 33,023 from 21,170 and diploma institutes to 12,748 from 7,827.

Around 2.2 crore students were enrolled in higher education programmes, out of which around 80 lakh were attending regular classes, he said.

Agarwal said the number of students opting for arts and science streams had seen a dip in the past few years, while the number of those going for various engineering programmes had witnessed a growth of 12 per cent.

The official, who has also authored two books on the higher education, said the key challenges faced by India in the higher education sector included equity and quality.

During the Twelfth Five Year Plan, the government would emphasise on quality improvement. “The focus will be on evaluation and feedback of both teaching and research methodoligies and ensuring transparency through information disclosure,” said Agarwal.



50% reserved seats still vacant
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 13
For yet another year, the admission process under the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act has been marred by controversies and delays. Nearly half the seats reserved for students belonging to the economically weaker section (EWS) and disadvantaged group still remain unfilled despite the centralised admission process. Last year, too, only 472 seats were filled of nearly 1,300 RTE seats.

Even as the education department served notice on schools directing them to hold back conversion of the reserved seats to the general category, it had little effect on private schools that quote their own reasons behind resisting admissions under the Act.

“The administration should better prepare for the smooth implementation of the RTE Act next year,” said HS Mamik, president of Independent School Association, Chandigarh.

“In a notice issued in February, the department clearly told us that schools could convert their RTE seats, if these remained unfilled, to the general category by April 10. Following this, most of the schools went ahead with the conversion process,” he said.

A private school principal said the new session had already begun and the admission process could not be delayed further as it would affect studies. Only 17 of 38 schools replied to the notice issued by the education department on Wednesday, which asked the schools to furnish details about admissions under the RTE Act.



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