C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Groundwater level up, poses threat
  Buildings in Sectors 37, 39, 44, 55 & Burail at high risk of cave-in, says report
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Buildings in southern sectors in the city are at a high risk of cave-in due to a rise in the level of "shallow water", which has posed a threat of dampness in the base of the foundation of these structures.

Sectors at risk

This has been revealed in a report of the Central Ground Water Board, which has been sent to the UT Administration. It has been stated in the report that if no arrangements are made to utilise the groundwater in Sectors 37, 39, 44 and 55, and Burail, it will adversely affect the foundation of the buildings in these areas.

The board has advised the Administration that it should make arrangements to utilise the groundwater, which is at the 2-metre level, at the earliest, either in green belts or for other secondary purposes to avoid a risk to the buildings. The report has stated that in all these areas, the foundation of all buildings is around 5 ft and the "shallow water" level is 2 metres, which is creating dampness in the base of the buildings.

A senior scientist of the board said a communication had been sent to the Administration on the basis of this report. The Administration had been asked to take immediate steps for the safety of the public. The scientist said the groundwater level had increased in these sectors as the authorities were discharging water through tube wells and no arrangements had been made to discharge the shallow water.

The scientist said according to the report, Chandigarh "is safe in terms of discharge and recharge of groundwater".

Records of the board revealed that earlier the survey of the ground and shallow water level was conducted after an interval of five years by a team of officials of the board and the Administration. However, two years ago, the Centre had instructed the board to undertake a survey of the water level after every two years as in some states, the groundwater was being exploited ruthlessly. 



Fraudster lands in police net, courtesy Facebook
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Nearly five months after the driver of Govardhan Gabbi, a Punjabi writer, allegedly duped him and his business partner of Rs 1 lakh, the writer managed to get him arrested with the help of a social networking site by laying a honey trap on Facebook posing as a girl. The writer asked the driver to meet him in Chandigarh, which led to his arrest.

The Punjabi writer’s driver, Hari Soni (37), hailing from Nepal and living at his business partner, Ram Swarup Gautam’s residence for over three years, had allegedly duped the duo of money in February this year. The accused, along with another employee, was sent to deposit around Rs 2.30 lakh in a bank. However, the accused, after fooling the other employee, fled with Rs 1 lakh.

Gabbi, who knew that the driver had a Facebook profile, started randomly checking posts on it. “We hear tales of deception on Facebook every day, especially those involving criminals who fool unsuspecting users, but I used the social networking site to catch a criminal,” Gabbi said.

A week ago, Gabbi noticed that the accused had started using his profile and had posted pictures on it. “I created a fake profile of a girl from Nepal and sent a friend request to the accused, which was accepted,” Gabbi said.

Gabbi started chatting with him and the accused, who was working as a driver in Jalandhar, fell into his trap. “I told him that I am new in Chandigarh and have no friend. He fell into my trap and promised to come to the city to meet me,” Gabbi said.

ASI Baldev Singh, investigating officer in the case, coordinated with the complainant and laid a trap near Sector 42, Chandigarh, yesterday. A woman constable called the accused on his mobile and asked him to meet her at the designated place. “A police team reached the meeting place in civil dress and arrested the accused, who has been remanded in two-day police custody,” said the ASI.



50-year-old engineer shoots himself
Had strained relations with his wife, a university teacher in Aligarh
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 28
A 50-year-old electrical engineer, a resident of Kalka in Panchkula district, shot himself on his temple with a .315-bore country-made pistol in the wee hours today. The victim, Dinesh Singh Chauhan, was taken to a local hospital, where he was declared brought dead.

The police suspects the victim's strained relations with his wife to be the cause of the incident. Chauhan is survived by his wife and two sons, aged 17 and 21 years.

According to police officials, Chauhan's wife was staying in Aligarh with her parents for the past two years following strained relations with him. Chauhan’s son informed his mother about the incident, after which she reached here today.

The victim's sons and neighbours said whenever Chauhan would be in depression, he would fire into the air from the rooftop of his house.

“In the wee hours today, when his sons Pradiman and Ridham heard the noise of firing, they thought that Chauhan was on the rooftop and must have fired as usual. Later, when Ridham went into his father's room, he saw him lying in a pool of blood,” said a police official.

The victim’s wife has done PhD in psychology and works as a lecturer in a university in Aligarh.

The SHO of the local police station, Inspector Dalip Kumar, said, “His sons said their father would often tell them to kill him or he would kill himself. He would usually stay in depression.”

Commissioner of Police Rajbir Dewal said, “Preliminary investigations have revealed that the victim was in depression after having strained relations with his wife.”



Thieves strike at house in Sunny Enclave
Decamp with cash, gold, rifle, electronic gadgets & anti-theft equipment
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 28
Thieves struck at a house in Sunny Enclave in Kharar last night and decamped with cash and jewellery worth over Rs 50 lakh, a US-made rifle, over 50 cartridges, expensive mobiles, electronic gadgets, documents and anti-theft equipment installed in the house.

The owner of the house, Kamaldeep Singh, an agriculturist, was away to Amritsar along with his family when the incident occurred.

Kamaldeep Singh claimed that he had lost around Rs 15 lakh, over 500 gm of gold jewellery, a US-made .12-bore rifle worth around Rs 8 lakh, three expensive mobiles and documents, including two passports, four registries of his properties and papers pertaining to fixed deposits.

"The exact amount of loss would be known only after checking all things," said Kamaldeep Singh, who had gone to Amritsar on Friday night to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple after purchasing a new SUV.

Interestingly, the thieves took away an electronic safe, weighing over 20 kg, while they did not touch a "30/06 rifle NP", which was found lying on the dining table, and other expensive things like a laptop and a new LCD.

The house was equipped with anti-theft gadgets, including sensors, CCTV cameras and hooters. "No hooter went off last night," claimed Parshotam Singh, Kamaldeep's immediate neighbour.

The main entrance gate was locked while the main entry door was found bolted from inside. The rear door of a room on the first floor was found open. The police suspects that the thieves entered house from the first floor after scaling the walls of the neighbouring house.

The thieves took away the hard disc from the CCTV camera and the sensor system with them.

Kamaldeep Singh claimed that he had spent over Rs 4 lakh to install the anti-theft gadgets and used to get an SMS on his mobile as soon as someone tried to open any door or window of his house. He added that even the electronic safe was attached with an alarm.

The neighbour, Parshotam Singh, claimed that he and his wife heard sounds coming from Kamaldeep's house at around 2 am. "My wife came out to check, but did not find anything suspicious. We thought that Kamaldeep Singh and his family might have returned," said Parshotam Singh.

Forensic experts did not find any fingerprints from the house. "The thieves must have worn gloves. They had lifted a gun from the room and kept it on the dining table, but we did not find any fingerprints on it," said an official. The dog squad was also pressed into service.

The thieves had bananas at the house, but did not touch an expensive liquor bottle lying on the dining table. A case was yet to be registered at the time of the filing of this report.

Meanwhile, Kamaldeep said he would give a reward of Rs 1 lakh to anyone providing information about the thieves. 



Ban on cheap diabetes drug hits patients
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The decision of the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry to ban the cheap and readily available anti-diabetes drug, pioglitazone, last month, has severely affected the lives of many patients in the city, forcing them to shell out much more for alternative medicines.
Bharat Rattan Grover, advocate; and (right) Lal Bahadur Dubey, priest.
Bharat Rattan Grover, advocate; and (right) Lal Bahadur Dubey, priest. Tribune photos: Pradeep Tewari

The drug, available with the trade names pioz and pioglet in the market, was not only cheap (Rs 2 per tablet) but also quite effective in controlling the blood sugar levels in patients if their reviews are any indication.

“I have been taking this medicine for the past two years. Pioglet was a highly suitable medicine for me as it was cost-effective. My blood sugar level had gone as high as 300 mg/dl (against the normal level of less than 100 mg/dl). With a regular dose of pioglet, it came down to 110 mg/dl. Earlier, I used to spend Rs 20 per 10 tablets. Now, the alternative medicine costs me Rs 300 per 10 tablets,” said Lal Bahadur Dubey (39), a priest at the Radha-Krishna temple in Sector 18.

The ministry had banned pioglitazone recently on the basis of a letter sent (in January this year) to the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) by a Chennai-based diabetologist, Dr V Mohan, chairman of Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialities Centre.

As the medicine has been out of stock in the city for the past 15 days, doctors have started recommending alternative drugs, which are not only much more expensive but also relatively less effective, say patients.

Another diabetes patient and advocate, Bharat Rattan Grover (50), said, “It was an arbitrary and thoughtless decision to impose a ban on the medicine. It is not only about the low cost of the medicine but also its effectiveness in controlling the blood sugar levels. I have been taking the alter native medicine for the past 10 days and I find a difference in the efficacy of this new medicine. It is not as good as the earlier medicine.”

The average dose of pioglet or pioz (7.5 mg) was twice a day for both these patients.

Rubishing the findings on the risk of cancer in bladder due to pioglitazone, as pointed out in the letter received by the DCGI, doctors in the city said the ban should not have been imposed on the basis of a few findings.

Hinting at a nexus between doctors and other leading pharmacists in axing the usage of the drug, Dr KP Singh, Senior Consultant, department of endocrinology, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, said, “It was a wrong decision to impose a ban on the medicine while it is being used by lakhs of patients across the country and proving effective. We have not seen any such case of cancer risk ever, at least in North India. The authorities are being mislead by vested interests in the pharmaceutical sector.”

Pioglitazone being used in European countries

India had approved pioglitazone a decade ago. The drug is being used extensively in European countries, in addition to Australia and the US. The drug, however, was banned in France in 2010 after reports of its cancerous effects were found in the country. In India, so far six cases have been reported where bladder cancer was feared to have been caused due to the drug. These included two cases each from Chennai and Salem and one each from Mumbai and Belgaum.

After criticism from diabetologists across the country and recommendations of the Drugs Technical Advisory Board, the ministry is contemplating revoking the ban on pioglitazone.


Basic amenities non-existent in Sec 48-51
Tribune News Service

An undeveloped area in Sector 50, Chandigarh, and (right) potholes on the road separating Sectors 50 and 51.
An undeveloped area in Sector 50, Chandigarh, and (right) potholes on the road separating Sectors 50 and 51. tribune photos: parvesh chauhan

Chandigarh, July 28
If one goes by the state of basic amenities provided to the residents of the cooperative housing societies spread across Sectors 48 to 51, the Chandigarh Administration and the municipal corporation seem to be biased.

Though the UT decided not to charge commercial rates for electricity being used to pump water to each house by the respective society a year ago, the authorities concerned have failed to implement the decision. As a result, the 112 societies have been forced to pay lakhs of rupees under commercial tariff for using power to operate these pumps.

“Though the administration has collected crores as development charges from the cooperative societies, the development plan for these sectors is yet to be seen on the ground. Barring a community centre, which is coming up in Sector 49, other basic amenities like health care, government schools and sports centres are non existent here,” said Gagandeep Singh, a resident of Sector 48.

The land was allocated to the cooperative house building societies under the Chandigarh Allotment of Land to Cooperative Societies Scheme 1991. Two decades later, the residents still have to go to Mohali or the neighbouring sectors for shopping as no commercial area has been developed here so far.

Satish Sharma, a resident of Progressive Society, Sector 50, said there was no dispensary or a health centre and the residents had to depend on private hospitals. The construction of the community centre being developed in Sector 49 is running behind schedule.

Charajeev Singh Sodhi, a resident of Sector 49, said the area was full of shrubs and wild grass. Colony Number 5 is an eyesore as the administration has not been able to relocate it. The internal roads have not been repaired for a long time.

“The cooperative societies were considered self-sustaining entities by the administration. As stipulated in the rules, the cooperative societies have to set up and maintain horticulture, public health, sanitation, electrification in the societies on their own,” said, Satish Chandra Sharma, chairman, Group Housing Cooperative Societies’ Welfare Council.

He has proposed a new model to spruce up amenities in the four sectors. Irked at the apathy shown by the MC and the Chandigarh Administration, the residents of the area have written to the Centre. They have stated that the Congress leaders had not paid any heed to the residents’ problems.



Saving Rs 60 on entry tickets proves costly for two women
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
An attempt to save Rs 30 each on the ticket charged from visitors for entering the Chandigarh Airport landed two women in police custody yesterday. They had forged their e-tickets to gain entry free of cost. Investigations revealed that both the women, who had come to see off a couple, just wanted to save the entry ticket charges.

Inspector Anil Kumar of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) had caught the two women, identified as Sudha Joshi and Uma Single. They had entered the Air Terminal on the basis of fake e-tickets.

The accused had downloaded the air tickets on the computer and got their printouts after changing names on the tickets. Sudha’s son and daughter in-law had to fly to Mumbai and she had come to see them off.

The police stated that the two were caught after they didn’t board the flight. “The security personnel questioned them and their tickets were found to be fake,” the police stated.

The case was referred to the Chandigarh police that registered a case against the duo.

The SHO of the Sector 31 police station, Jaspal Singh, said both the women wanted to save Rs 60 on the entry tickets.

The two were released on bail by a court after their one-day police remand. 



BJP councillor for low-cost meals

Chandigarh, July 28
Councillor of the BJP Saurabh Joshi has requested city Mayor Subhash Chawla to take note of the low cost of meals of councillors in other cities like Mumbai and Delhi and reduce the cost of meals here as well. This, according to him, will bring down the expenses of the Municipal Corporation on food.

“It has come to my knowledge that full meal is available at Rs 12 in Mumbai (according to Raj Babbar, Congress spokesperson). Even another leader Rasheed Masood has claimed that Rs 5 in Delhi is sufficient for a hearty meal. Even we should be provided with Rs 5 or Rs 12 meal in the upcoming House meeting on July 31 and cut down on expenditure on MC meetings,” writes Joshi in a letter to the Mayor. — TNS



Stray Cattle menace
Councillors hand over Rs 1.08 lakh to victim’s kin
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Congress cuncillors submitted their one-month salary cheques amounting Rs 1,08,000 to the family of Harpreet Singh Sodhi, who had died in a road accident involving a stray cattle.

Congress councillor Mukesh Bassi and leader Vijay Rana, Senior Deputy Mayor Rana Kashmiri Devi's son who is also councillor of Sector 45, along with president of the Resents Welfare Association of Sector 18 Sunil Chopra and other residents of Sector 45 met Sodhi's family.

The contributors included Senior Deputy Mayor Kashmiri Devi, councillor Mukesh Bassi, Mayor Subhash Chawla, councillors Poonam Sharma, Darshan Garg and Pardeep Chabra.

Bassi said the amount included Rs 56,000 from the councillors' one-month salary and Rs 52,000 collected by him from good samaritans.

All the councillors have given Rs 5,000 monthly cheques each. Senior Deputy Mayor Rana Kashmiri Devi have contributed Rs 6,000, her monthly honorarium.

They also submitted cheques given by BSP councillors Jannat Jahan-Ul-Haq and Naresh Kumar, nominated councillors Amrit Tiwari and Babu Lal, and BJP councillor Satinder Singh, who had submitted their cheques to Bassi.

Thirtythree-year-old Harpreet Singh Sodhi, a resident of Sector 45-C, had been killed in an accident on April 6. He was along with his eight-year-old son on a motorcycle when all of a sudden a stray cow came in their way on the road separating Sectors 49 and 45, and he rammed into it. 



Summer fest begins at Tagore Theatre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Three-day TFT summer festival began today at the Tagore Theatre with the staging of a play "Baldey Tibbey". Written by late Balwant Gargi and directed by Sudesh Sharma, the play, a Punjabi adaptation of the American play “Desire Under The Elms”, dramatised the primordial desire of Punjab’s farmer community for women, wealth and land.
A scene from the play, “Baldey Tibbey”, staged at the Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh on Sunday.
A scene from the play, “Baldey Tibbey”, staged at the Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh on Sunday. tribune photo: parvesh chauhan

Ratna, an old man and a landlord, married twice and had three sons, Nihala and Dyala from his first wife, and Sarwan from his second wife. Both of his wives were no more now.

Despite his old age, he married for the third time to Preeto, who was the age of his sons, in order to slake his lust and ego.

Preeto, however, attracted towards her husband’s son, Sarwan, and both fell in love with each other.

Preeto gave birth to Sarwan’s child, but Ratna thought it was his son and he announced to put all his wealth in the name of this newborn child.

On the other hand, when Sarwan came to know this, he retaliated. She vowed to kill the child to prove her love for Sarwan, but believing that she would not do such a thing Sarwan left her. In the last scene of the play, Preeto was seen killing her own child. 



LPG auto operators hold protest

Chandigarh, July 28
Auto-rickshaw (LPG) operators of the city today held a protest against the policies of the Chandigarh Administration. Led by leader of the Janta Dal United Surinder Bhardwaj, the LPG auto-rickshaw operators held a rally, demanding earmarked parking lots and strict action against the diesel auto-rickshaw operators.

There are around 8,000 LPG auto-rickshaw operators in the city. Though the government had decided not to allow diesel auto-rickshaws in the city, the administration has failed to check their entry in Chandigarh. As a result, around 15,000 diesel auto-rickshaws are operating in the tricity. The protesters said the administration had failed to set up more LPG filling stations in the city. — TNS



Saplings planted

Chandigarh, July 28
The Residents Welfare Associations affiliated with FOSWAC today conducted a tree-plantation drive in collaboration with the department of Forests and Wildlife, UT Administration, at City Club in Sector 8 here.

Finance Secretary VK Singh was the chief guest.

Saplings were planted by the officials on the premises of club. They emphasised the need for protecting the environment by planting more trees and shunning the use of plastic. — TNS



No let-up in monkey menace on PU campus
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
There is no respite from monkey menace on the Panjab University campus. Simians are giving a tough time to the residents of boys’ and girls’ hostels. The most affected areas are boys’ hostel number 4, 5, 6 and 7 and girls’ hostel number 1 and 2.

Aman, a resident of hostel number 7, said incidents of monkeys tearing clothes hung in the balconies were common among the hostel residents. “Every second day such incidents are reported in the hostel,” he said.

“Incidents of monkey attack on students on the campus are very frequent. The students have also apprised the university authorities of the problem, but nothing has been done so far,” said a resident of boys’ hostel number 5.

NSUI leader Manoj Lubana said monkeys could also be seen around canteens, making it tough for students to have their meals.

Yograj Angrish, warden, boys’ hostel number 7, said the administration should find a permanent solution to the problem. “A few days ago, a monkey had attacked a small girl near the Indian Theatre Department,” the warden said.

Earlier, the university had hired the services of a langur. However, the practice was discontinued after the UT Administration directed that no one was authorised to keep langoors, as they came under protected species. 



Residents protest against unscheduled power cuts
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 28
Over 300 residents of Kharar blocked the Kharar-Ludhiana-Chandigarh Highway following the unscheduled power cuts daily. Raising slogans against the state government and the Punjab State Electricity Board, the miffed residents blocked the highway at 9 pm today near the Kharar bus stand.

The agitation resulted in traffic blockade as many vehicles queued up on both sides of the road.

"The area has been witnessing over 10-hour-long power cuts for the past few days. Today, the power
was suspended at around 3 pm. Now it's 10 pm and it (the power) is yet to be resumed. It has become a routine affair," said Narinder Singh, a resident of the area.

Gurjant Singh, another resident, said with the long-hour power cuts, the daily routine had become upset.

"One can easily assess how difficult is to remain without power in this sultry weather.” said another resident of the area

Our children and the elders are the worst hit due to the unscheduled power cuts, said Gurjant Singh.

He said several complaints had been made to the authorities concerned in this connection, but to no avail. "We are left with no option but to block the highway," he said.

The police reached the spot and tried to pacify the agitators. 



Dose of iron pills for government students reduced 
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 28
Panchkula Health Department has decided to reduce the dosage of iron pills for government school children from 100 mg to 20 mg. The decision was taken after 27 children fell ill in various government schools in Panchkula. According to the officials, they would give this dose for two to three weeks and then continue with the same 100 mg dosage.

Panchkula Chief Medical Officer (CMO) VK Bansal said, “There is unnecessary panic about the pills. It is just that few children don’t have acceptance for the same.”

“I don’t know why people are creating panic about the medicine. There are about 16 lakh children in Haryana who are being given these iron pills and just 500 who are facing the problem of stomach ache and vomiting,” said Bansal.

He said, “Actually these are just initial problems which anyone can face when they take iron medicine. They will get accustomed to it.”

According to the doctors, children who have low body weight and remain empty stomach most of time face the problem after taking the medicine.

“It all depends on everyone’s acceptance for a particular medicine,” said the doctor. 



Tributes paid to Kargil martyrs
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 28
A large number of ex-servicemen, members of their families as well as civilians paid floral tributes to soldiers who were killed in action while commemorating the 14th anniversary of the 1999 Kargil conflict.
(From left ) Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, Commodore Maini and Air Commodore Brar pay homage to martyrs on Sunday.
(From left ) Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, Commodore Maini and Air Commodore Brar pay homage to martyrs on Sunday. A Tribune Photo 

A homage paying ceremony was organised at the Maj Sandeep Shankla war memorial here, which was attended by over 350 persons. Among those present were former Vice-Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, several officers of the rank of major general and local municipal cooperator Lily Bawa, who husband Lt Col Bawa had been decorated posthumously with the Maha Vir Chakra, the second highest gallantry award, for his actions as part of the Indian Peace Keeping Force during the Sri Lanka operations.Civilians who paid tributes to the martyrs included Panchkula MLA BK Bansal and former Chandigarh mayor Gian Chand Gupta. Representatives from the district administration and the police were also present, while the HUDA administration, local horticulture department and the PWD helped the veterans in preparing the venue.

During the ceremony, Maj Gen Raj Mehta (retd) spoke about the role of the armed forces as delved on the manner in which they rose to the occasion to help civilians affected by the recent flash floods in Uttarakhand. Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri recipient poet Sardar Anjum also highlighted the heroism of soldiers and spoke on measures that the government to initiate to ensure the well being of troops and veterans.A candlelight vigil was also held in the evening, where local residents, including veterans lit candles in the memory of who had laid down their lives in the line of duty.



Candlelight march held for Geetanjali

Panchkula, July 28
A candlelight march was organised by the RV Trust to seek justice in the Geetanjali murder case.

The march started from the Yavnika Park, Sector 5, Panchkula. President of the trust, Chaitanya Rai Vashisht, said that they want justice for the Panchkula girl who was shot at. —TNS



Two-week health camp 

Mohali, July 28
In an effort to reach out to the community, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Mohali, a has started a two-week-long joint replacement camp on its premises. The camp will be on till August 4 between from 10am to 6pm.

The camp is being conducted by Dr Manuj Wadhwa, Director and Head of the newly launched Max Elite Institute of Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement, along with his team of distinguished orthopaedic surgeons.—TNS



Open house suggestions
Check use of harmful chemicals

It is shocking and shameless that the Health Authorities are mum over the issue and do not take action against the fruit sellers/distributors/agents who openly use these deadly chemicals despite being banned by the law. Why this legally banned calcium carbide and other such harmful chemicals are openly sold in the markets? Why there is no check on the sale of these life threatening chemicals? These are the points to wonder and ponder over. It is only India where each rule and law is openly flouted with impunity. Each persons or for that matter every living being here has his/her own set of laws and nobody questions the offender. The government should or rather must act against the offenders and punish them appropriately for their acts of omission and commission.

R K Kapoor, Chandigarh


The UT’s master plan committee has recommended against expansion of the Rock Garden as this will help the UT in preserving the place. The curator of Rock Garden, Nek Chand, has sought help from the Chandigarh Administration in preserving the non-developed areas within the garden. How can basic amenities be improved at the Rock Garden to make the place visitor friendly? Write your suggestion to openhouse@tribunemail.com 

Consumer awareness required

Ripening of fruits by traders and wholesalers by using chemical substances is a very common practice. Arguments for such ripening advanced by traders is that fully ripened fruits if bought from a distance are likely to get decay and ultimately damaged leading to losses. Therefore, the practice with the farmers is to pluck young fruit and send it to market where the fruit is ripened using chemical substances. Consumer awareness is a must. Such fruits when eaten affect the neurological system due to toxic impurities in the acetylene. Calcium carbide ripening is not fit for human use. Consumers must be made aware of its ill effects as its consumption causes cancer. The government and administration must act swiftly at the onset of the summers when mangoes are high priced and also introduce stringent legislation against the use of banned chemicals and drugs. If the practice is rampant the drug department should be held accountable for this.

Satish Chandra Sharma, Chandigarh

Defaulters must be fined

The chemical laden fruits being sold with impunity in the markets these days are a matter of serious concern. Exposing the innocent consumer to a plethora of diseases, such fruits become health hazards instead of health improving agents. The authorities turning a blind eye to the sale of unhealthy fruits is not a new thing. To top it all, the citizens aware of such fruits being sold in the market do not dare to report the matter. The consumer is ultimately at loss. A stringent action along with a suitable fine is the only answer. Daily surveys and checks on such fruit sellers in different markets is the need of the hour. The authorities and the citizens in collaboration with each other only can abate the sale of unhealthy fruits and foods in the market.

Shekhar Juneja, Chandigarh

Prevention is better than cure

In India the use of calcium carbide to induce ripening is banned under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act and offenders are liable to face a six-month imprisonment and fines. We do not see any punishment meted out to such offenders. Firstly, do not choose fruits that are attractive on the outside, as they may not be good for health. Secondly, wash the fruits thoroughly before consuming. Thirdly, avoid buying off season fruits as they are more likely to be artificially ripened. Last but not the least, always remove the peel of mangoes and papayas before cutting them into pieces.

Priya Darsh Growar, Mohali

Public should catch the defaulters without fear

The businessmen use the chemicals to ripen fruits and vegetables. They also apply wax on its surface for brightness. These things are very harmful for our health. The Health Department should check the eatable materials from time to time. It should fine the accused. Everyone knows that health is wealth. The public should call the police and health department immediately if they find any defaulters. The staff should co-operate the public should honestly to catch the defaulters without any partial or fear.

Sumesh Kumar Badhwar, Mohali
A woman buys mangoes at Sector 26 in Chandigarh.
A woman buys mangoes at Sector 26 in Chandigarh. A file photo 

Form body to inspect produce

Chemically ripened fruits are becoming a bane for the public as fruits, mainly mango, is being ripened using calcium carbide which causes cancer. Waking up to the threat, the Centre passed an ordinance in 2012 calling for a ban on artificial ripening of fruits using carbide, especially mangoes. A two-pronged approach is needed. First the authorities need to act for the wider interest of the public if it does not want to end up with a public health menace. The Centre and state government should jointly form a body that inspects the produce before it reaches the market and defaulters should be fined heavily and punishment must be awarded. The government needs to see the other state models like the government of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra who have conducted raids to curb the menace.

Aasra Brar, Chandigarh



No check on rampant use of calcium carbide 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Even as workers in city's biggest fruit market in Sector 26 have been freely using and even offering banned and toxic chemical Calcium Carbide for ripening of fruits (especially mangoes), UT Health Department is least bothered about the violation.

Not only are the authorities are ignorant of the use of the hazardous chemical in city markets but also seem unaware of the provisions of Food Safety and Standards Act which make it mandatory for them take disciplinary action against the violators.

Rather, the officials claim there is no mechanism to identify the chemical substance in city. When contacted, Designated officer for UT Food Health and Safety Cell, Dr Satbir said, "We do not have any labs that could approve or justify the sample of the chemical being used is Calcium Carbide. Also, the chemical is so volatile that it is likely to evaporate by the time it reaches the lab."

He claims to have written to the competent authorities to allow setting up a lab here for the purpose. Experts, meanwhile, contend that the chemical is easily recognizable.

The Food Safety and Standards Act, 2011, clearly states, "Prohibition of use of carbide gas in ripening of fruits : No person shall sell or offer or expose for sale or have in his premises for the purpose of sale under any description, fruits which have been artificially ripened by use of acetylene gas, commonly known as carbide gas".

However, not even a single sample has been seized this season. Chandigarh Tribune had, four days ago, highlighted the free use of Calcium Carbide in Sector 26 fruit market in the city.




Research initiated to identify chemically ripened fruits 
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Scientists at the Mohali Unit of National Agri-Food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) have initiated a research project to develop a diagnostic method to distinguish the fruits ripened with prohibited ripening agents such as calcium carbide.

The research, funded by the Department of Science and Technology (Central Government), last month, would use all kinds of chemicals, including toxic calcium carbide, and ethylene gas (ideal ripening agent) for ripening of mangoes and bananas fruits and study the metabolic changes during fruit ripening.

"We are in the process of discovering and validating biomarkers for distinguishing fruits ripened with calcium carbide from those ripened either naturally or with ethylene," said Dr Sukhvinder Pal Singh, an expert in the post harvest biotechnology and key researcher in the project at the NABI.

The fast-track project is expected to complete its first phase in next six months. At present, mature unripe mangoes are being subjected to different types of ripening agents such as calcium carbide (the being used extensively in wholesale markets), ethephon (another commonly used substance in markets) and ethylene (the permissible agent).

"Calcium carbide currently being used in the market contains heavy metals and is toxic and harmful. The reaction of calcium carbide with moisture (water) produces acetylene gas which triggers and accelerates the fruit ripening. The acetylene mimics the action of ethylene gas and induces ripening response," Dr Singh said.

Significance of artificial ripening of fruits

Naturally on tree-ripened fruits have a low shelf life, usually of two-three days. In such a situation, the transportation and distribution of the fruits from cultivation region to other states cannot be done, said Dr Singh.

When fruit are allowed to ripen under normal conditions, raw fruits usually take 8-10 days to ripen. However, after 10 days, the fruits loses 10 to 15 per cent moisture and likely to decay. The artificial fruit ripening, when practiced using safe methods and technology, can indirectly curtail post harvest losses in fruits such as banana, mango and papaya, he said.

Technical standards for artificial ripening

Artificial ripening, when performed under ideal conditions leave the fruit absolutely safe for consumption. The most suitable ripening agent for fruits (including mangoes) is ethylene gas. But the protocol has to be followed to maintain standards.

Essential requirements of an ethylene ripening system include a reasonably air- tight room with insulation, a temperature controlled system for cooling or heating (18-22 degree celsius), an air circulation and ventilation system, humidity control (90-95 per cent) and an ethylene gas control system to maintain its concentration in the desired range (about 100 parts per million).

Solutions offered by experts

"An alternative to the cheap and easy to apply calcium carbide can be the promotion of ethylene-based ripening technology. The government is already offering subsidy to traders/retailers in setting up ripening chambers. From food safety perspective, public awareness and law enforcement are important to discourage the use of prohibited substances for fruit ripening," said Dr Singh.

Dr Singh advised the consumers to wash all fruits including bananas before consumption. Pulp of mango and papaya fruits should be removed with knife from the skin, and sucking of fruit slices with skin should be avoided as the fruit skin may carry traces of carbide. 

Reasons behind extensive use of calcium carbide
* Easy to use (available in powdered form)
* Cheap and readily available
* No investment cost or infrastructure required
* No check by authorities



Refractive error common among students
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
Malnourishment and anemia are not the only cause of concerns affecting UT schoolchildren. Thousands of students of the city government schools are also suffering from eye disorder problems.

As per the school health programme report for the session 2011-12, 10.63 per cent students were detected with refractive error out of over 1.44 lakh government school students that underwent medical examination throughout the session.

In the session 2012-13, over 1.06 lakh students were checked in the last session. Out of them, 8.87 per cent students were detected with refractive error. As per local experts, among the refractive error, myopia is more commonly found in children. It is a state where children find difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly. Other forms of refractive error include hyperopia (difficulty in seeing close objects clearly) and astigmatism (distorted vision resulting from an irregularly curved cornea).

City-based ophthalmologist Dr Rajiv Mirchia said: “Unlike other ailments, refractive error is a hereditary issue and happens due to the size of eyeball at the time of birth. In some cases, physical changes in children do affect eye vision, but the best way to tackle this issue is to detect it at the earliest stage and take immediate corrective measures like corrected glasses and contact lens.”

Dr Sunandan Sood, Department of Ophthalmology, GMCH, Sector 32, said: “Sedentary lifestyle, too, plays its role in aggravating this problem. If refractive error not corrected on time, it can create a lot of problem in eye vision in a child’s formative years”.

Dr Ashwin Dhir, another city-based eye specialist, cautioned that if refractive error not diagnosed timely among children, it could make their eyes amblyopic, which means that they would have to live with structural abnormalities in eyes. After 14 years of age, the treatment was very difficult.

Dr Rajiv Mirchia said children should not reach that stage, for which parents were advised to frequently check their children’s eyes right from the age of five and take corrective measures like eyeglasses or contact lenses on time. According to him, it was also important to inculcate good habits like not watching TV without proper room lights.

Dr Dhir said awareness was the key since this problem could be diagnosed easily. Eye health checkup should be held in schools frequently.

The local authorities should also provide corrective measures to the students who could not afford corrective measures.

Biology teacher Dr Arvind Goyal said health awareness among parents and children was the key to healthy life.

“If possible, the government should introduce the basic level of health education at the elementary level to make children aware of major ailments,” he said.

Problem found more in urban school students

As The Tribune further analysed the school health programme report, eye disorder is prevalent more in urban school students than in rural school students. Check this: In 2011-12, 13.62 per cent urban school students had refractive error as compared to 7.64 per cent students of rural and periphery school students. In that session, 76,199 urban school students underwent medical checkup while the number for rural school students was only 68,099. In 2012-13 too, 11.66 per cent urban school students were detected with refractive error than 6.98 per cent rural school students.

What is a refractive error

Refractive error is a kind of eye disorder. The three most common refractive error include myopia (difficulty in seeing distant objects clearly) hyperopia (difficulty in seeing close objects clearly) and astigmatism (distorted vision resulting from an irregularly curved cornea). The result of refractive error is blurred vision, which is sometimes so severe that it causes visual impairment.

The WHO estimates that 153 million people worldwide live with visual impairment due to uncorrected refractive error.



Panchkula students’ date with NASA astronauts
Return after attending opening ceremony of Space Shuttle Atlantis
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, July 28
A group of students from a Panchkula school attended the grand opening of the Space Shuttle Atlantis on June 29 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Complex in Florida, US.
Students of The Gurukul at the opening ceremony of Space Shuttle Atlantis.
Students of The Gurukul at the opening ceremony of Space Shuttle Atlantis.

The students of The Gurukul, Sector 20, Panchkula, who returned recently, even met several astronauts there. As part of their visit, the children also had lunch with Fred Gregory, an astronaut who was also on board Atlantis on one of its mission.

The historic space shuttle, which has completed 33 successful missions to space and back and was the first reusable shuttle designed by the NASA, was put up as exhibit in the visitor complex.

“Getting up close with the beauty of the space shuttle was like experiencing a new high. Space Shuttle Atlantis was an incredible feat of engineering. It was one of the most complicated and sophisticated pieces of equipment ever built. The shuttle is a vehicle that launched like a rocket, flew in orbit like a spacecraft and landed on runway like a glider,” said Adhish Anand, a student of class IX.

The students said astronauts from each of the Atlantic’s 33 flights joined the officials at the NASA for a morning ceremony marking the opening of the retired spacecraft.

“There’s nowhere else in the word that you will be able to see an orbiter that looks the way it looks when it is in flight in space,” said Parth Tiwari, a student of class IX.

Principal Harsimran Kaur said: “Getting nose-to-nose with Atlantis on the first day of its exhibit was a lifetime opportunity for the students”.



Aryans Career Fair on July 31
Tribune News Service

Mohali, July 28
To provide education and placement opportunities to the students of the region, the Aryans Group of Colleges is going to organise “Aryans Career Fair” on its campus at Nepra village on July 31.

“In the fair, job as well as admission opportunities will be available for BTech, MBA, BBA, BCA, BA, BCom, MTech and diploma students,” said Dr Anshu Kataria, chairman of the group.

Dr Kataria said a special helpline (84277-78000) was also launched for admission and job-seekers.

The chairman said more than 10 companies, including Beta Soft, Eureka Forbes, IFBI, LIC, Logic Erp Solutions, EME, would participate in the fair.



National-level quiz
Bhavan Vidyalaya students enter semis

Chandigarh, July 28
Avtansh Behal of Class XII and Bikramjit Singh Sidhu of Class X from Bhavan Vidyalaya, Chandigarh, entered the semifinals of the national-level quiz, “Tax Your Brain”, organised by Quizcraft India and the Income Tax Department.

They played a quarterfinal against Surat (JH Ambani School), Kalimpong (Saptashri Gyanpeeth) and Trivandrum (Loyola School). They went on to win and qualify for the semifinals to be held on August 10. Earlier this month, they were Chandigarh winners of this quiz. — TNS



From Schools
Poetry-recitation competition

Students of Ryan International School, Chandigarh, celebrate Environment Month.
Students of Ryan International School, Chandigarh, celebrate Environment Month. A Tribune photograph

Chandigarh: An English poetry-recitation competition was organised for KG and Class 1 students of Bhavan Vidyalaya Junior, Sector 33. The selected students recited their poems confidently with expression, correct intonation and enthusiasm. All participants were applauded for their efforts. “Superstar of the School competition" was also organised on the occasion. Children came dressed up in various creatively designed dresses.

Vanamahotsava celebrated

Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 56, celebrated Vanamahotsava with great enthusiasm and fervour to spread awareness among students and society. Darshan Garg, MC councillor, and SMDC member of the school, inaugurated the function by planting saplings. Marigold Eco Club of the school held an interactive session apprising the students of planting more saplings and making the environment pollution free. Young creative minds made various posters, placards and raised slogans on the subject.

Saplings planted

St John’s High School, Sector 26, celebrated Vanmahotsava week. A lotus pond was started on the school campus and the herbal garden was given a makeover. Saplings were planted as an outreach endeavour by students of Class VIII, who have taken environmental conservation as their outreach theme for this year. They were supported by the Eco Club. The responsibility for nurturing trees was given to the students, too. A poster-making competition was also organised for students of Kindergarten to Class X on the theme “Trees and Water-a precious resource, a relationship that goes beyond”.

Monsoon Day celebrated

Panchkula: Students of Satluj School-Junior Wing, Sector 2, celebrated Monsoon Day by dancing and singing songs on the theme of rain. The students also exhibited their summer vacation assignments and projects. Games for parents based on monsoon were enjoyed and appreciated by the audience and students. The Director, Satluj Public School, praised the students for their performance and the support of parents extended in the completion of summer vacation assignments and project works.

Interactive session

Keeping the importance of good health in mind, The Sky School, Sector 21, Panchkula, organised an interactive session for its students. The workshop was conducted by Dr Anju Gupta from Health Aid Medicare, an NGO working under the School Health Programme. Dr Anju explained the advantages of good eating habits and said children had a remarkable ability to heal themselves if their immune system was strong and healthy.

Paragraph-writing contest

St Teresa Convent School, Panchkula, organised different activities to spread awareness about the negative impacts of increasing population among students. Students of class V participated in a paragraph- writing competition. Students of Class VI wrote a newspaper article on increasing human population and its repercussions on tiger population. An inter-house group discussion was conducted for students of classes VII and VIII on the topic “population explosion and conservation of resources”. - TNS 



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |