C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


fire safety violations
Secretariat in line of fire
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
The fire and emergency services wing of the Municipal Corporation has rapped the authorities at the Punjab Mini-Secretariat for lack of fire safety measures in the building.

In a four-page report on the recent fire incident, the fire wing has highlighted various lapses in fire safety arrangements in the building.

Sample this: Room no. 727 (court record branch, OSD examination and state inquiry office) on the seventh floor is without an automatic fire detection/alarm system.

It has been mentioned in the report: “The automatic detection/alarm system installed in the corridor and the other offices on the seventh floor was also found non-functional. There are temporary electricity connections and loose electrical wires, which can cause fire due to a short-circuit”.

Fire safety violations were aplenty not only on the seventh floor, where a fire had broken out on March 17, but also on the other floors and in the basement.

It has also been mentioned in the report that a majority of escape route/gates in the building were found permanently locked. The fire control room on the ground floor was found without trained staff as well as fire-fighting equipment. The alarm system installed in the room no. 404 to 409, 415, 424 and 427 on the fourth floor was found to be out of order, according to the report, which has been submitted to the Punjab Government.

Suggestions by MC fire wing

  • Office record should be kept in such a manner that it does not come into contact with a bulbs or switchboards
  • Loose wires and temporary connections should be removed
  • No record files should be kept at balconies, staircase, lobbies and corridors
  • Use of heaters or gas stoves for the preparation of tea in offices should be prohibited
  • Gates/escape routes should be kept open during working hours
  • The 11 KV sub-station should be shifted from the main secretariat building
  • Trained firefighters should be posted at the main control room located near the entrance round the clock.
  • Automatic sprinklers system should be installed on all the floors according to the National Building Code, 2005.

Major violations at Punjab Mini-Scretariat

  • Neither alarm system nor sprinkler system has been installed in the basement
  • No trained staff in fire control room
  • Most escape routes locked
  • Loose electricity wires in rooms
  • Automatic detection system in rooms non-functional
  • Illuminated exit signs non-functional
  • Automatic detection/alarm system in the canteen on the fifth floor defective

Tedious system of ensuring firing safety

There is a “long and tedious procedure” of ensuring fire safety in buildings under the National Building Code. A building is first issued a notice for a violation by the Fire Station Officer in the city and given one-month time to remove it. The building owner then gets an extension of one month to get the violation removed. If the violation still continues, the case is sent to the Chief Fire Officer. He, too, issues a notice and can finally order the sealing of the property.



Ban on vaccine triggers panic among parents
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
The death of an infant at the PGI four days ago and the subsequent ban on the sale of the Easy Five vaccine, which was administered to the infant before his death, has led to panic among parents.

While certain parents said they never paid attention to the vaccines being recommended by the doctors and purchasing them from chemists, others said they were perplexed and didn't know whom to trust.

Traumatised, the father of the infant who died recently at the PGI, Subhash, said he would prefer not to take his other baby for further vaccination no matter how crucial experts consider it to be.

“This incident has made me realise my foolishness in blindly believing into what doctors recommend and chemists sell. I had never bothered to even see which were the three vaccines my child was given in the last six months. I also thank the Almighty that my child is safe despite my carelessness. I will have to be very cautious before any further vaccination,” Kamal, a marketing executive, who came to the PGI today for the check up of his six-month-old baby.

Jasveer Singh, a Sangrur resident, who took his four-month-old daughter to the Advanced Paediatrics Centre at the PGI for consultation, shared his perplexity over the loss of faith in everyone. “I do not know whom to believe. While we find it important to follow doctors' instructions since we want our baby to be free from all kind of problems, a commonly used vaccine has been banned due to the baby’s death. There must be some problem with the vaccine that is why the government has banned it.

But, can anyone compensate for the loss of the family?” he said.

Following the death of the six-week-old baby on Tuesday morning, 16 hours after he was given the Easy Five vaccine for protection against five common diseases, the UT Health Department had banned the vaccine. 

A controversial vaccine

The Pentavalent vaccine has remained mired in controversies due to deaths reported in Pakistan, Tamil Nadu, Vietnam, Kerala and Bhutan.



stale food on train
Union Railway Minister orders probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
Taking cognisance of serving stale bread sticks to passengers on board the New Delhi-Chandigarh Shatabdi yesterday, Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal has ordered an enquiry into the matter. While talking to media persons here today, Bansal said action would be taken against erring persons. He said the railway authorities had been working towards improving the quality of food served on trains.

A complaint was lodged by chief operating officer of the Synergy company Yashjeet Gupta, who was travelling by the Shatabdi (number 12045) yesterday about the serving of stale bread sticks. The complainant had stated that the bread sticks served to him were stale (of April 16 make), due to which he was taken ill. He had called up the Divisional Railway Manager, Ambala, PK Sangi, and told him that he suffered from nausea after eating the stale bread sticks.

The DRM immediately asked the Train Superintendent to look into the matter and report. Gupta also alleged that the authorities did not take up his complaint properly.

The DRM gave him a number where he could lodge his complaint.

Meanwhile, the Train Superintendent offered to replace the bread stick. He, however, said the bread sticks were fresh as these had been packed on April 16 and were good to eat for 30 days from the date of packing.

The Train Superintendent again went to the passenger and asked him whether he was suffering from nausea. The passenger replied that he had a headache and was not suffering from nausea, which he had complained of earlier.

Recently, Bansal had stated that the Railways was in the process of revising the food rates as these had not been revised for the past 12 years.



Now, PU repeats Punjabi paper
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
Making a mockery of the examination system, Panjab University made another blunder today. The question paper of Punjabi (BA-III) turned out to be exactly the same as that of 2012. This is the second time that the university has committed this error. Earlier, the mathematics paper of BA and BSc, which was held on April 17, had been repeated.

The error was brought to the notice of the PU authorities by Senate member Raghbir Dyal during a special Senate meeting held at the PU.

Interestingly, all the questions were in the same order as they were in the question paper of 2012. Thousands of students of the PU-affiliated colleges are in a fix over the error committed by the PU as they might have to re-appear for the exam.

Controller of Examination (CoE) Parvinder Singh said the department was investigating the matter and necessary action would be taken.

“The university has worked out some remedial measures to prevent such errors and these will be implemented soon,” he added.

The mathematics paper-B on differential equations of BA, BSc (second year) was exactly the same as attempted by the mathematics students in 2012.

Dyal said the university needed to put its house in order as repeated mistakes by the examination branch had exposed the negligent attitude of the university authorities. “There have been instances of photocopies of handwritten question papers being given to students at examination centres or less question papers found in packets,” he said.



Teaching English the Sanskrit way!
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
Imagine a Sanskrit teacher teaching maths in Vedic shalokas or his tongue stuttering with English words! This is precisely going to happen in government schools across the city, courtesy the UT Education Department’s recent promotion of 187 trained graduate teachers (TGTs) as lecturers.

Sandeep Joshi

Sample this: Two Sanskrit teachers have got promotions as English lecturers and another two as mathematics and economics lecturers. A physical education teacher will teach economics now. Four home science teachers will now teach English. A Punjabi teacher has been promoted as a sociology lecturer, a social studies teacher as a Hindi lecturer and a Hindi teacher as an economics lecturer.

Besides, five science teachers have been promoted as English lecturers and a science teacher as a political science lecturer.

Technically speaking, the promotion has been done well within the framework of the Chandigarh Education Service (school cadre) Recruitment Rules, 1991. All these teachers possess a master’s degree in their subjects which they are going to teach. It is the only prerequisite for the promotion to lectureship under the recruitment rules.

However, the local academia has doubts when it comes to the teachers’ performance in classrooms.

A senior official said: “The first six-seven months are going to be difficult for these teachers as they are completely out of touch with the subjects and many are not even aware of the basic changes in their subjects. Practically speaking, a Class IX or a Class X teacher should have been promoted for senior classes in the same academic framework. The promotion rules are, however, laid down otherwise,” he said.

A school head questioned: “How can a physical education teacher who is promoted as an economics lecturer will do justice to the students? Just because he has a relevant degree does not make him a good teacher in the subject.”

Another school head said the quality would suffer with the recent promotions. “The continuous guidance for them is important unless it will take a toll on the student’s performance in the crucial stage of their career,” he added.

“Experience matters in teaching higher classes which should have been made one of the criteria for promotions, said Dr Rakesh Sachdeva, principal, DAV-15. DPI (S) Upkar Singh said the promotion was done in accordance with the recruitment rules. Moreover, the department has already started a subject-wise training programme for the newly promoted teachers, he said.



MLA seeks exclusion of 23 areas from panchayat poll
Our Correspondent

Mohali, April 27
MLA Balbir Singh Sidhu has sought exclusion of 23 areas from the purview of the upcoming panchayat, block samiti and zila parishad poll, saying these were expected to be included in the long-pending Mohali Municipal Corporation elections.

The legislator has written a letter to Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats Surjit Singh Rakhra urging that Raipur, Badh Majra, Badh Majra Colony, Daun, Green Enclave, Ballo Majra, Balongi, Balongi Colony, Balyali, Lakhnaur, Sohana, Nanu Majra, Patti Sohana, Mauli Baidwan, Kumbra, Raipur Khurd, Chilla, Manauli, Pappri, Chachu Majra, Kambala, Kambali and Jagatpura be excluded from the panchayat, block samiti and zila parishad elections.

He said the elections to the Mohali civic body were pending for more than two years.

Sidhu said if the areas were included in the panchayat, block samiti and zila parishad elections, the candidates would have to unnecessarily spend time, funds and energy in contesting the poll.

Besides, he said, the government would have to make all arrangements for holding free and fair elections. The whole exercise, he said, would prove futile if, after the issuance of the relevant notification, these areas were included in the Mohali Corporation elections.


MC forgets politicos’ promise
Despite assurances to provide job to an accident victim’s wife, agenda given a miss
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
Politicians are quick to give assurances to the public, but when time comes to act on them they fail to deliver. Justifying this common accusation against them, the civic body left out an item regarding providing job to the wife of a victim of a road accident involving stray cattle in the agenda of the House meeting delivered to the MC councilors today.

Thirty-three-year-old Harpreet Singh Sodhi, a resident of Sector 45-C, died in a road accident on April 6. He was with his eight-year-old son on a motorcycle when all of a sudden a stray cow came in their way on the Sectors 49 and 45 dividing road, and he rammed into it.

Upon his death, leaders of the Congress, BJP and SAD including Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, Mayor Subhash Chawla and Leader of Opposition in the MC House Arun Sood assured the family members of the victim that the agenda regarding providing a job to his wife would be placed in the coming house meeting.

But today, when the agenda of house meeting scheduled on April 30 came out Harpreet found no mention in it. Confirming the development, MC Joint Commissioner Rajiv Gupta said that no item regarding providing job to the victim’s wife has been included in the agenda.

Victim’s mother, Jagwinder Kaur, said leaders from various political parties had assured them that they would raise the issue of providing compensatory job to Harpreet’s wife in the MC House meeting. She said it was very disappointing to see that not even a single political leader placed this item in the agenda.

Councillors running away from donating salary

On Councillor Mukesh Bassi’s request to all fellow councillors and others to deposit their one-month salary cheque for the financial assistance to Harpreet Singh Sodhi’s family members, only a handful of councillors have come forward: Naresh Kumar, Dr Amrit Tiwari, Babu Lal and Rana Kashmiri Devi.

Among others, chartered accountant Sunil Gupta gave Rs 21,000, industrialist Sandeep Sahni gave Rs 11,000, executive members of Chandigarh Club gave Rs 31,000 from their own pocket and management of Khukhrain Bhawan gave a cheque of Rs 11,000 to the victim’s family.

60 head of cattle shifted to delhi gaushala

The Municipal Corporation on Saturday evening shifted another 60 head of cattle from its cattle pound to Dabur Hare Krishna Gaushala at Nazafgarh, Delhi. Dr MS Kamboj, superintendent, slaughter house, MC, said it was the third lot to be shifted to the Delhi-based gaushala. He said 10 trucks were hired for the transportation of cattle. Proper fodder and first-aid facilities were arranged to ensure convenient transportation of the cattle, he said. One cattle catcher accompanied each truck and one chief sanitary inspector and sanitary inspector supervised the process, he said. After the death of 33-year-old Harpreet Singh Sodhi in an accident involving stray cattle, the MC expedited the process of shifting stray cattle from city to gaushalas in other states.



Suspended inspector in the dock again
Inquiry initiated against him after a businessman accuses him of coercion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
The Chandigarh Police has initiated a fact-finding inquiry after receiving a complaint from a businessman against a suspended inspector for allegedly threatening and robbing the keys of his showroom in Sector 20 this evening.

The probe was marked by IG (UT) RP Upadhayay. The complaint has been made against Inspector Amanjot Singh who is presently under suspension.

In the complaint to the police, Harish stated Amanjot came in his car and demanded Rs 10 lakh from him.

When he expressed inability to give the money, he threatened him and pulled down the shutter, locked the showroom and took the keys away with him, Harish said.

Sudershan, Harish’s business partner, said the incident took place in the evening when Harish was sitting inside the showroom. Harish immediately called the police control room to report the incident, he said.

Later, Harish was summoned to the UT Guest House by SSP Naunihal Singh for recording his statement.

IG Upadhayay said the SSP had been asked to verify the complaint and take necessary legal action.

When contacted, Inspector Amanjot Singh denied all the allegations. “I am not aware of any such complaint against me. The Chandigarh Police has not approached me regarding any such compliant,” he said.



PGI doc wins global award
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
A PGI doctor has been honoured with the Best of the Best Award for designing a special intraocular lens which was safely placed in a child born with two lenses in his right eye, with each lens located in corners.

Dr Jagat Ram

Dr Jagat Ram, professor, Advanced Eye Centre, received the award in the category of New Techniques for Surgical Video in Ophthalmology at the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery Conference held at San Francisco.

The chairman of the jury, Dr Spencer Thornton, while presenting the award described this new technique as a miracle in the field of ophthalmology. This technique has opened a new option for the management of difficult cases of cataract in children, he said.

In addition to designing the special lens which was placed in the eye of a 4-month old baby, Dr Jagat successfully removed the two lenses from the child’s eye before placing the customised one in the eye.

“The two natural lenses in the child, who is now two-year old, were falling in two directions with none of them being at the centre. The child could not focus on anything, suffering loss of vision,” said Dr Jagat.

“The surgery took around 35 to 40 minutes and the customised lens, relatively bigger in size than any normal lens, was placed in the child’s eye,” he added.

The lens was provided by the manufacturing company free of cost since it was a pioneering surgery. The estimated cost of the lens is Rs 15 lakh.

Over 120 countries participated in the conference. This award is the most prestigious one for ophthalmologists across the globe, as any new innovation in the surgical techniques is the basis for selecting videos to be presented for consideration of this award.



No power to take action against erring officials, says I-T Ombudsman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
What is the point of setting up an Income-Tax Ombudsman for the redressal of income tax payers’ grievances when it is toothless and unable to take any action against the negligent officials?

Income Tax Ombudsman, North-Western Region, Ashok Manchanda, while addressing the media persons, raised this question. He said other than making a request to the I-T officials to speed up the cases of aggrieved persons, the Ombudsman was not empowered to take any stringent action against them.

He said many cases regarding the delay in refund due to missing records were pending for the past 10 years. Manchanda said a total of around 375 grievance cases related to income tax were lying pending with his wing. Of these, over 70 per cent cases pertained to the delay in refund to tax payers, he said. As many as 50 cases were received every month, he said.

Manchanda said although there was no deadline to resolve these cases, his wing was trying to do the needful within one to four months, depending on the availability of records.

He said in order to file an online complaint, the affected parties must send a hard copy with their signatures after having sent an e-mail.



High drama prevails after bank siren goes off

Mohali, April 27
High drama was witnessed when the siren of a branch office of the Union Bank of India at Phase 1 in Mohali went off last night.

Residents gathered on the spot to witness the proceedings, which resulted in the blockade of the road in front of the bank. A police team, led by SHO Kanwaljit Singh, reached the spot immediately and surrounded the office, apprehending it to be a case of burglary. Some bank officials, too, reached the spot.

Later, it was found that the siren had gone off due to some problem in the electricity connection. — tns



City residents’ interest in vanity numbers waning
Multiple bidders for only 40 numbers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
In wake of the drastic increase in the road tax, the Registration and Licensing Authority (RLA) has received multiple applications for only 40 vanity numbers.

By the last date for accepting applications, i.e. today, the RLA received a total of 254 applications. Of these more than one applications were received for only 40 vanity numbers.

RLA Mahavir Kaushik said due to the poor response the date to accept applications has been extended by another three days, till May 1.

Among the applications received, some of the numbers that have more than one bidder are 0001 (three applications), 0002 (three applications) 0003 (five applications), 0004 (three applications), 0005 (six applications), 0009 (five applications) and 0011 (four applications).

Sources in the RLA said due to the delay in auction of vanity numbers in the CH01AR and CH01AS series, four auctions have been held within three months.

This also reduced the applicant’s interest in the process, sources said.

RLA clears backlog

The backlog of 15,000 registration certificates and 5,000 driving licences, as on January 27, has finally being cleared. Now DLs are being issued on the same day and RCs are being issued after affixation of the HSRP



IAF’s 12 Wing gets award
Tribune News Service

Air Chief NAK Browne, the Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force, hands over trophy for the best operational transport base to Air Commodore SC Chafekar, Air Officer Commanding Wing in Chandigarh, on Saturday
Air Chief NAK Browne, the Chief of Air Staff, Indian Air Force, hands over trophy for the best operational transport base to Air Commodore SC Chafekar, Air Officer Commanding Wing in Chandigarh, on Saturday. A Tribune Photograph

Chandigarh, April 27
The IAF’s 12 Wing at Chandigarh has been declared as the best operational transport station in the Western Air Command (WAC). In addition, the Chandigarh-based No 44 Squadron, called Mighty Jets, has been bestowed the best transport squadron award in WAC.

The trophy for the best station was received by the Air officer Commanding 12 Wing, Air Cmdr SC Chafekar from the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal, NAK Browne during the WAC Station Commanders’ Conference at New Delhi.

The station also bagged the trophy for the best station in sports. The dental centre at the station was awarded the trophy for the best dental centre and the Air Force School was declared at the overall second best in the WAC.

The 12 Wing has emerged as a premier transport base, undertaking the huge task of air maintenance of the armed forces as well as civilian populace in the Jammu and Kashmir, including Leh, Thoise, Ladakh and Siachen Glacier regions. The base also launched pioneering sorties to activate advance landing grounds in remote areas of J&K.



theatre Festival
Play captures tragedy of relationships
Tribune News Service

Artistes stage a play, “Baldey Tibbey” at Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh on Saturday
Artistes stage a play, “Baldey Tibbey” at Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh on Saturday. Tribune Photo: S Chandan

Chandigarh, April 27
On the second day of the third TFT Baisakhi Festival saw Punjabi play "Baldey Tibbey", was staged at the Tagore theatre here. An adaptation of the American play “Desire under the Elms” written by Eugene O’ Neil’s, the play was a tragic in nature, involving a jatt farmer’s lust for “zar, zoru and zamin”

Ratna, an old man and a landlord married twice and had three sons- two from his first wife and one named Sarwan from his second wife. Both of his wives were no more now. Despite his old age, he went on to bring another women Preeto, a poor girl who was half of his age, to slake his lust and ego.

Preeto however got attracted towards her husband’s son Sarwan and they both fell in love with each other. While she gave birth to Sarwan’s child, Ratna thought that the child was his and announced to put all his wealth in the name of this newborn child. Sarwan on getting to know about this, retaliated. But Preeto promised to kill the child to prove her love for him. The play showed that nobody got anything with differences between the relations.



PU colleges
Senate nod to 5-day week
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
The PU Senate unanimously resolved to replace the six-day working schedule in the PU affiliated colleges with five-day working schedule. The house has authorised the Vice-Chancellor to take-up the issue with the Punjab Government and UT Administration for the final decision. The issue which was supported by majority of the house members was passed by the Senate, however, VC Arun Kumar Grover said that he would be pursuing the case with the government and administration for the final consent over implementing the decision in the colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh.

Dalip Kumar, a Senate member stated that there was no problem in adopting a five -day schedule in the colleges as the UGC mandate of 180 teaching days would be followed with five-day week.

UT advisor KK Sharma who is the ex-officio member of the Senate also attended the meeting in the evening followed by UT Finance-cum-Education Secretary VK Singh, although, Singh is not a member of Senate. Kuljeet Singh Nagra Congress MLA from Fatehgarh Sahib who is a nominated member of the house also attended the house meeting.



Senate’s special meeting an exercise in futility
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
A special senate meeting called by the Panjab University to take-up the issues related to the colleges, turned out to be a futile exercise. The meeting concluded with a simple ecision to form a coordination committee of representatives from Punjabi University, Patiala, and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, to take-up the common issues pertaining to the colleges with the Punjab Government.

Gurdip Sharma, a Senate member stated that they were expecting healthy discussion over the problem of colleges and some concrete solutions to them. "The issues discussed in the meeting today are repeatedly being discussed, for the last many years. Even today's meeting was restricted to same discussions", he said.

Karamjeet Singh another senate member said that the expected issues were not resolved and the meeting turned out to be a formality.

Another senate Jagwant Singh who had given a total of 17 resolutions pertaining to the colleges and the teachers, stated that all the issues were related to the Punjab government and it seemed that there was some pressure that the agenda could not be discussed.

Singh further added that instead of specific agenda and resolution, a general discussion took place which led to no conclusion. "After today's meeting I have decided to explore another platform to address the grievance of teachers and colleges", he added.

The Vice-Chancellor Arun Kumar Grover, however, said that many issues were discussed during the meeting and it has been decided that the issue of lifting ban from the recruitment of teachers in the colleges of Punjab would be taken-up with the state government. "It has also been decided that Punjabi University and GNDU would be approached to form a coordination committee to take-up the issues related to the colleges", he said.

Dinesh Talwar, a Senate member stated that it was a sheer eye wash and wastage of time and money because the core agenda and resolutions were not even discussed in the meeting.



Bansal grants Rs 6 lakh to upgrade classrooms of Vatika School
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 27
Local MP and Union Railway Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal announced a grant of Rs 6 lakh from his MPLAD fund to upgrade the two classrooms of Vatika School for Special Children in Sector 19 with the latest modern facilities.

Bansal who was the chief guest at the function, also launched school’s website besides school magazine that would carry articles by school staff and students.

While addressing the gathering, he applauded the efforts of disabled students for showing keen interest in learning. While school has been doing wonderful job to instill confidence in students here. He said that several Public Sector Undertakings, as part of their corporate social responsibility, had started funding portion of their income towards education and health activities. “I will personally speak to them for their possible funding to this school, he said. School officials said that the MPLAD funding would help them starting smart classrooms in the school and further impart best of the education to the students.

The function also saw several cultural function staged by the students of the school. Besides performing dance, a skit by deaf students on national integration spellbound the audience.



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