C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Confed GM ends life
Was an accused in wheat scam
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 10
The General Manager of the Haryana State Federation of Consumers’ Cooperative Wholesale stores Ltd (Confed), Sector 2, Panchkula, committed suicide by hanging himself from a ceiling fan at his residence in Sector 20, Panchkula, late this evening.

In the suicide note, the deceased, Vinod Kumar, who was an accused in a wheat scam, had held eight persons of his department responsible for his death.

The police has booked the eight persons named in the suicide note for abetment to suicide. Kumar was also holding the additional charge of district manager at Ambala.

The police said Vinod’s son was away to Chandigarh and his wife had gone to her friend’s house when the incident took place. “When Vinod’s wife returned, she saw him hanging from the ceiling fan in his room. Vinod’s family said he was under depression after a case was registered against him in the wheat scam,” said a police official. Vinod was rushed to the Sector 6 General Hospital, Panchkula, where doctors declared him brought dead. The post-mortem will be conducted tomorrow.



2 killed one hurt in accident
Tribune News Service

The tipper that hit the motorcycle
The tipper that hit the motorcycle

Chandigarh, November 10
Two employees of Hotel Park Plaza in Sector 17 were killed while another was injured after the motorcycle they were riding was hit by a truck at the Sector 16-17 light point in the wee hours of Sunday.

The trio was heading towards the Sector 17 ISBT to catch a bus to Kurukshetra to attend a friend’s wedding.

The deceased were identified as 32-year-old Kamlesh Kumar, a resident of Joginder Nagar in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh and 24-year-old Ravikant of Subathu near Solan. They died on the spot. Kalyan Singh, a resident of Uttarakhand, was admitted to the PGI.

The police said the trio was coming from heading towards the Sector 22/17/16/23 roundabout from Matka Chowk around 4 am. The truck was coming from a construction site in Sector 17 towards the light point when the accident took place.

The police said the driver of the truck, Raj Kumar, stopped the vehicle to rescue the injured. The trio was rushed to the PGI in a PCR vehicle where doctors declared two of them brought dead.

After finishing their night shift, the trio had gone to Nayagaon at Kamlesh’s residence to change clothes, before heading towards the ISBT-17.

Kamlesh is survived by his wife and two daughters.

The police impounded the truck and arrested the driver. Family members and friends of the deceased reached the GMSH-16 where the bodies were kept. The autopsy would be conducted on Monday.

Woman dies, 2 injured

A woman, who was riding pillion on a two-wheeler, died while two persons were injured in separate accidents in the city on Saturday. Harbhajan Kaur, a resident of Phase IX, Mohali, died after a car hit the scooter she was riding pillion. Anu Gupta of Phase XI, Mohali, was injured in the accident that took place on the road separating Sectors 51 and 52 on November 9. The driver of the car, identified as Gurpreet Singh of Ferozepur, has been arrested. The injured were rushed to a hospital where Harbhajan Kaur breathed her last. In another accident, Harish Kumar, a resident of Sector 44, was injured after he rammed his two-wheeler into a PCR vehicle near Piccadily Chowk on November 9. Kumar was admitted to the PGI. A case of negligent driving has been registered against him at the Sector 36 police station. 



Fog effect: 5 trains delayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Five trains reaching the Chandigarh railway station were delayed due to fog in Saharanpur in Uttar Pradesh on Sunday morning.

The Kalka Mail was delayed by 42 minutes, Unchahar Express by three hours and 10 minutes, the Lucknow-Chandigarh Sadbhavana Express by One hour and 50 minutes, the Dibrugarh-Chandigarh Express by five hours and 25 minutes and Lucknow-Chandigarh Express by 42 minutes.



More tears: Prices of onions, tomatoes go through the roof
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Onion prices continue to remain volatile with the rates shooting up again to Rs 100 a kg level in retail markets in the city.

Tomatoes are also being sold at Rs 90 a kg, forcing residents across the Tricity to rush to Apni Mandi and the Sector 26 grain market to get some rebate.

The prices of onions, tomatoes and potatoes were low at the Apni Mandi in Sector 34 as compared to the retail market. While onions and tomatoes were available at Rs 70 a kg, potatoes were being sold for Rs 25 a kg against Rs 40 in the retail markets in Sectors 15, 46 and 23.

The rise in the prices of vegetables has upset the household budget. “There is a lot of difference in the prices of vegetables in the Apni Mandi and the retail markets,” said Anmol Singh, a resident of Sector 21.



Ex-servicemen, Army men exempted from property tax in P’kula
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, November 10
In a relief to the Army personnel and ex-servicemen, the Haryana government has exempted them from paying property.

Earlier, ex-servicemen and Army personnel owning a plot up to 300 square yards were exempted from paying the tax.

Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced the relief for Army personnel at a rally in Gohana today.

The government notification stated that the Army personnel or ex-servicemen owning a property up to 300 square yards, but not on rent, would be exempted from paying the tax. However, the Army personnel demanded a full exemption from the tax. Panchkula MLA DK Bansal took up their case with the Chief Minister. “I urged the CM that tax should not be imposed on persons who sacrifice their lives for the nation,” said Bansal. Property tax was imposed in Panchkula in January this year.

However, after protest by residents, changes were made and a fresh notification was issued on October 11.

As per the earlier notification, property tax was to be calculated on the basis of collector rates. However, the tax was cut by 90 per cent in the October 11 notification.

Flat owners end up paying more

Owners of flats in Panchkula allege that property tax is being calculated per square feet, whereas the owners of plots are paying the tax per square yard. They were paying 900 per cent more tax than the owners of plots, lamented owners of flats. “A resident owning a 300 square yard independent house will have to pay property tax at the rate of ~0.75 per sq yard which works out to ~225 per year, whereas a person owning a flat with carpet area of 1,400 sq feet will have to shell out Re. 0.75 per sq foot which works out to ~1,075 per year. It is 900 per cent more than the tax being charged from the owners of plots,” said BB Sharma, a resident of Sector 20, Panchkula.


Better Chandigarh
Shoppers jostle for space in jampacked corridors
It is not only the “rehri” and “pheri walas” who have encroached upon the government land in markets across the city. The shopkeepers have also turned encroachers and are grabbing the space in front of their shops or renting them out to other traders. It seems strange, but it is true. In Part I of the series, Tribune reporters Rajinder Nagarkoti, Amit Sharma and photographer Pradeep Tewari do a reality check on the markets across the city.

Shopkeepers display their goods in the corridors of Sadar Bazaar at Sector 19, Chandigarh
Shopkeepers display their goods in the corridors of Sadar Bazaar at Sector 19, Chandigarh.
Be it belts or garments, they are all being sold in the open at the Sector 19 market
Be it belts or garments, they are all being sold in the open at the Sector 19 market.
On a busy afternoon, it is total chaos at the Sector 19 market
On a busy afternoon, it is total chaos at the Sector 19 market.
Even in the presence of the MC enforcement wing team (official truck on the right) it is business as usual at the entry of Shastri Market at Sector 22.
Even in the presence of the MC enforcement wing team (official truck on the right) it is business as usual at the entry of Shastri Market at Sector 22.
In the evenings, the shopkeepers display their accessories as a matter of right at Sector 15
In the evenings, the shopkeepers display their accessories as a matter of right at Sector 15.

Encroachments in corridors of the city markets have become a major problem with the municipal corporation (MC) turning a blind-eye to them. Goods and grocery items that are displayed by shopkeepers in front of their shops hardly leave any space for the visitors to walk in the corridors most of the markets. The problem that is growing with each passing day raises questions over the functioning of the MC.

The corridors and pavements in the markets of Sectors 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 27, 28, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 44, 46, 45 have all been encroached upon by no other than the shopkeepers.

Interestingly, residents of various sectors have been complaining to the MC regarding these encroachments, but the authorities have failed to act.

The situation in the booth markets of Sectors 15, 19 and 22 is even worse as the shopkeepers have gone a step further and have rented the facing walls and even the pillars to the vendors. Goods like clothes, bags and shoes can be seen hanging on the walls, which are being sold by the vendors, who pay rent for operating from outside these shops. This makes the narrow lanes of the market even narrower forcing visitors to bang into one another while walking. Similarly, the shopkeepers in the bigger markets have rented the corridor space to the vendors and earn handsome profit from them. The vendors have also erected makeshift stalls to sell ready-made garments and grocery items openly.

Naveen Jaswal, a resident of Sector 15, stated that it was impossible to walk in the corridors of the markets due to encroachments. “The situation is worse during evening hours with vendors displaying their goods in every nook and corner of the corridors”, he stated.

Lack of manpower also acts as a hindrance for the enforcement wing of the MC to check the encroachments in the markets, as the shopkeepers manage to shift easily or remove the goods from corridors and the walls on getting the information about the MC employees reaching the market to remove the encroachments.

The Chandigarh Police often writes to the MC regarding the encroachments in the markets, but except surprise checks the MC staff never takes stern action.

On a Sunday or any public holiday, the vendors even encroach upon the parking lots of the markets leaving very less space for the vehicles to be parked, which further leads to chaos on roads. The visitors are then forced to park their vehicles in the residential areas.

HC raps UT, MC on failing to act

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has taken a tough stand against the encroachments in the city markets. The High Court had recently suggested the Chandigarh Administration that it should consider enhancing the existing penalty of Rs 500 to Rs 10,000. On September 23, the HC had observed, “We are of the view that nothing prevents the UT Administration from increasing the fine more than what is proposed so as to ensure that people are deterred from indulging in violations. The fine can easily be increased to at least Rs 10,000”. During the last hearing on November 6, the HC had rapped the UT Administration for its failure to respond to a plea of the municipal corporation for the enhancement of fine to check violations.

Staff crunch in the MC

The MC Additional Commissioner had told the court that the municipal corporation had two posts of inspectors and 20 sub-inspectors, out of which 17 were for field duties. It also had 79 workers or labourers to assist the sub-inspectors in removing the encroachments.

Complete lack of will, says HC

“We find it exasperating that even four weeks’ time is not enough for the Administration to examine the communication of the municipal corporation requesting and proposing an increase in the fine, as prescribed in the Third Schedule of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976, to make it an effective tool for preventing violations. It, prima facie, appears to convey a complete lack of will on the part of the UT Administration to do anything”

Rs 1.19 cr collected from challans

In the last financial year (April 2012 - March 2013) the MC has collected Rs 1.19 crore only from challans issued to violators.

Check encroachments: Master plan panel

The Master Plan Committee in its fire safety norms has also recommended that a check should be kept on encroachments on public land or private buildings at the shopping centres to facilitate fire-tender movement, water hydrants and underground tanks.

Drive meaningless as violators get stay orders

The MC enforcement wing has been at the receiving end as violators in Sectors 19 and 22 have secured stay orders on their commercial premises. Sources in the MC enforcement wing say that a number of shop owners have managed to get a stay order from the court which further make MC crackdown on encroachers meaningless.

Encroachers better informed

It seems that encroachers in the city are better informed than the MC officials. On a majority of occasions, as soon as the MC enforcement wing officials leave to conduct a drive in city markets, the encroachers get information regarding their movement and by the time MC enforcement wing officials reach the said market to start its drive, a majority of encroachers remove the encroachments from the corridors of the markets. MC officials issue challans to only a handful of violators and seize their material. It is not only before the drive, but even after the MC officials leave the markets, encroachers came back with their paraphernalia within a few hours, and the business continues as usual.

A step forward

  • UT and MC should identify a vacant place in each sector to allow vendors to sell merchandise, between 5 & 9 pm
  • MC should computerise their challaning record to identify habitual offenders and impose heavy fine
  • UT police should provide sufficient force to the MC during an anti-encroachment drive
  • Estate office should cancel allotments of shopkeepers who are renting out their walls in booth markets.

‘Identify the number of vendors’

Vendors in the city should be surveyed. After identifying the number of vendors, the MC should provide licence and identify a place for them, which can be given on a daily basis after charging some fee from them. But the MC should also impose heavy penalties on the violators who encroach upon the government land.
Davesh Moudgil, chairman, MC Enforcement Committee

Plug loopholes, says councillor

First of all, the MC should frame a policy to deal with encroachments. At present, there are many loopholes in the policy. While issuing permission to the vendors to set up their stalls, the MC should mention the size of the stalls and locations. But at present, the MC officials only mention the sectors due to which vendors encroach upon the government land. The Enforcement Committee members should also conduct regular surprise inspection in the city.
Mukesh Bassi, Councillor

residents’ take
‘comprehensive policy a must

The UT Administration and MC have been dealing with the problem for so many years now but till date, they have failed to find any solution. There is a need for comprehensive policy on encroachment issue. The MC and UT should seek the views of residents, traders and even vendors and thereafter finalise the policy. In the absence of any policy, there will be no end to encroachment problem.
Pardeep Malhotra, Finance Secretary, Chandigarh Beopar Mandal

Encroachments create a lot of chaos in markets. The situation is even worse during weekends as residents make a beeline for shops. They even start pushing one another. In such a situation, the authorities should come forward and help.
Rancy Arora, IT professional

It is impossible to walk in corridors without vendors trying to sell their products to you. Shop owners too display their goods in the corridors, outside their shops. There is a need for stricter enforcement of laws. The corridors should be left vacant for people to walk.
Seema, accountant

Shopkeepers display their goods on the pathways and in lanes of the market. The area becomes so congested that we can’t even walk through the corridors.
Sanchi Verma, law student, PU

Vendors encroach upon parking areas of the markets, which makes it very difficult for us to park our vehicles. The MC and UT Administration should ensure that no stall should be set up in the parking areas.
Maninder Singh, businessman

The problem has taken a turn for the worse in the city. The vendors displaying their goods in the corridors and pavements even object to visitors stopping in front of their makeshift stalls. They feel it disturbs their business. There is hardly any space for the residents to walk around the markets.
PS Walia, a retired government employee

The sectors, including 19 and 22, witness parking problem due to encroachments by roadside vendors who display their goods in the parking area forcing the visitors to park their vehicles in the residential areas. The enforcement wing of MC and the Police Department should act together and crackdown on encroachers.
Avnish Kashyap, businessman

Encroachments have become a major problem for residents and the authorities must keep a check on them. The MC should add staff to the enforcement wing that should visit the markets during evening hours to check the encroachments.
Manavpreet Singh, college student



Literature fest leaves a rich legacy
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The last day of the Chandigarh Literature Fest at Hotel Taj was rich in audience and literary conversation.

The highlight of the day was the conversation on Mumbai based writer-critic Jerry Pinto’s debut novel “Em and the big Hoom,” a story of a mentally unstable mother (Em), seen from the eyes of his growing son. About a year ago, Jerry Pinto won hearts in Chandigarh at the novel’s launch. A year later in city for the literature fest, Jerry was as warm, witty and expressive as last time, even as his novel has made ripples in the literary circle. Jerry’s talk with city-based critic Nirupama Dutt brought to fore his distinct personality, which played a vital role in giving human touch to subdued topic of mental illness.

The session focused on the craft and style of the novel. Even as the central character of the novel, Em, is depressive, and unpredictable, Pinto succeeds in telling a story with no trace of self-pity in it, said Nirupama Dutt.

Pinto reflected that writing for him was an act of self-preservation and once he wrote the novel, he felt liberated. Pinto said the book had to pass many internal tests and he struggled with the end. He said sometimes words come out of wounds and the real nightmare for a writer is the silence within. “And then you have to find voices again and keep writing,’’ Pinto said.

Known for his non-fiction writing, he said he chose fiction this time as it has the power to convey the greater truth.

“An interesting perspective to the Pinto writings was provided through a small play based on book by Chandigarh-based “Theatre for Theatre” group.

Another interesting event of the day was, author Shovon Chowdhury’s conversation on his book “The Competent Authority.”

Chowdhury, a Delhi-based amateur humourist, took 11 years to write the novel. Set in an India of the future, this novel is a scathing satire on the country’s political, social and cultural legacy.

Overall the format of the festival was unique as it celebrated the books rather than the authors. Festival director, Altaf Tyrewala said, “It was indeed heartening to see people taking interest in such a festival and hoped that the festival would come up with more celebrated books for city audience. Next literary fest will be held with same dates in 2014,” he said.



Open House response
CTU a transport undertaking sans understanding

Empathising with the commuters, who are a harried lot, has never been of any concern to the CTU bosses.

To understand the real problems of commuters, the Transport Secretary must himself commute incognito in an ageing bus that will probably enable him to become a part of the solution, rather than be a part of the problem.
SC Luthra, Mani Majra

Pain to see a well-planned city like Chandigarh in such a pitiable condition

Lack of commuting options is more painful to witness in a city like Chandigarh, which has been so meticulously planned by Le Corbusier. The city boasts of a well-designed grid of parallel roads giving a hassle-free route to each and every sector from all the four sides.

A joint transport authority must be constituted so that people do not face any inconvenience. The authority must carry the responsibility of arranging public transport for the residents of the tricity. Another issue that needs immediate attention is expediting the metro project.
Dr Ranju Gulati, Chandigarh

Allow private players

There appears to be no will to strengthen the transport system or efforts to increase the number of private players. Allow private players in place of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) and witness a drop in passenger fare and increase in the number of people availing services on multiple routes.
Tarsem Bhardwaj, Chandigarh

Provide detailed information

Intricately carved details of the telephone numbers of officials concerned and updated time schedules of buses should be displayed at both the ISBTs of Sectors 43 and 17, and at each CTU bus queue shelter. Proper monitoring should be certainly done at peak hours for regularisation of buses.

Free travel for women should be allowed on the occasion of festivals such as Bhai Duj and Raksha Bandan.
Akhilesh Goel, Chandigarh

Penalise violators

The condition of the CTU buses is pathetic. One can easily judge the situation by noticing the amount of smoke emitted from these buses. The way drivers of these buses address the commuters, especially foreigners, is certainly a matter of shame. The Transport department is yet to start a service for the senior citizens. Penalising the authorities concerned for overcrowding buses and breaking the norms will provide much help in making the public transport people-friendly.
Arshdeep Singh, Mohali

Ensure commuters’ safety first

The CTU should provide the best bus services at the best possible fare and should be entirely committed to ensure the commuters’ safety first. Failure on the part of the UT Administration to put in place an effective public transport system has indeed encouraged the illegal business of the autorickshaws. Residents here are largely dependent on a few public transport buses of the CTU, as the old fleet of buses that has outlived its life, continues to ply on the roads.
Puran Kant, Chandigarh.

Dignity and comfort should be the main priorities

In order to make the state transport more user-friendly, efforts should be on plying more buses on the existing routes. These routes should not be intermittently discontinued, as it will result in causing inconvenience to the commuters. The

operating staff needs to be polite and helpful. The case of Anupama, a young school student of tri-city who lost her leg in an accident by a CTU bus, is still fresh in our memory.
Jagdish Chand, Chandigarh

Lower the fare

In the present scenario, when the numbers of vehicles are increasing day by day, the buses are the most convenient way for the people to commute. But a lot is still left to be done to make the public transport user-friendly. The bus fares should not be more than Rs 5 or Rs 10. Even if the administration has to bear some revenue losses due to this low fare, it is definitely worth it.
Dr Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh

Safety and comfort both go hand in hand

Apart from drivers and conductors, buses should be manned with a security guard. Buses plying on different routes should adhere to the school/office timings so that there are enough buses plying to fulfill the needs of a common man. The administration should spread awareness through campaigns as to how public transport is cost-effective and safe.
Meenakshi Lamba, Chandigarh

Something is lacking

Though the Chandigarh transport department is making a lot of efforts to strengthen the public transport system, but lack of something or the other is resulting in inconvenience to commuters. Perhaps the CTU, that is marred by a shortage of buses and inadequate operating crew is the main reason why the commuters are facing the brunt.

Apart from this, there is a need for a direct bus service between different points in the city. Frequency of services also needs to be increased and information on the frequency of services should be made available.
Vidya Sagar Garg, Panchkula

Low structure transport should be planned

An important step, which could go a long way in providing comfort and convenience to the public, is to design the public transport in such a manner that it would help passengers, especially the elderly and children. For that, a low structure transport will be very helpful rather than climbing a higher structure transport. The route of the transport should be planned in such a way that the passengers do not have to change means of transport again and again.
Priya Darsh Growar, Mohali

Mini-buses may help

First of all, we have to think why our main transportation system is falling short of buses. If the Chandigarh Administration is really striving hard for a user-friendly transportation, then they have to go for mini-buses instead of long buses. Frequency of buses must be increased to tackle the present scenario.
Shishu Paul, Chandigarh

Poor planning leads to poor transport service

To encourage people to use buses in lieu of their personal vehicles, there is a need to qualitatively change the fleet of buses from the present to latest technologically advanced buses. These buses need to be put on V-5 roads to start with an interval of 5-10 minutes service. We should follow the good examples of other countries such as Singapore, where around 65 per cent commuters use public transportation.
SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Eco-friendly rickshaws and autorickshaws need of the hour

The Administration must dispense with the low floor buses and instead add more AC mini-buses in tricity. The bigger and larger buses occupy more space on roads and most of the accidents are attributed to such buses. The Administration must devise a policy to encourage eco-friendly rickshaws and autorickshaws, designed on the pattern similar to Delhi’s.
Manjeet Singh Ishar, Mohali

Effective management is equal to efficient transport

There is a dire need to identify the basic requirements of commuters and devise such a mechanism which would give much awaited relief to them. Generally, people either prefer to use their own vehicle or share an autorickshaw to reach their destination as they are not sure about the time and frequency of local buses. This kind of mindset among people can be changed only if a convenient and effective local bus service is provided to them at the most suitable and easily approachable distance. The demand to raise the number of buses has come from the subordinate staff and not from senior officers, strange but true.
Ravinder Nath, Chandigarh

CTU = Commuter’s Torture Undertaken

It is a matter of shame that one of the well-planned cities of India like Chandigarh, also called the City Beautiful, has no proper, suitable and a comfortable system of local transports for its residents. Buses run by the CTU are in shambles and uncomfortable. There is no proper timing of the arrival and departure of local buses at any given stop. They come and go at their discretion. Though there are ‘time-tables’ provided at some bus stops, but buses never ply according to them. Commuters have to wait for over half-an-hour at a given stop for catching a local bus.

In actual sense, the CTU means ‘Commuter's Torture Undertaken’. That is why people prefer to use their private vehicles to go to offices, markets and for outings.
RK Kapoor, Chandigarh

Drivers should avoid overtime

Sometimes, bus trips are cancelled due to shortage of drivers. For passengers' safety, drivers should not be asked to work beyond their assigned duty hours. Many drivers are also found talking on their cellphones while driving.

IPS Anand, Mani Majra

Beautify bus stops to attract commuters

No one likes to travel by public transport. Inefficient services by the CTU are to be blamed. The bus stops are repulsive. They should be made in such a way that people are forced to board buses from there. The Administration should make ample number of world class buses available on road with services accessible after every ten minutes, starting from early in the morning at around 8 am to 9 pm at least. Facility of daily passes should be introduced which can be purchased from bus es as well as the Sampark centres at an amount of not more than Rs 25. Through these passes, a commuter should be entitled to travel as many times he wants to in a day. Also, certain routes should be planned in such a way that at peak hours commuters should be able make maximum use of buses.
Gurjusjit Singh, Chandigarh


City cries for a better transport system
Kanchan Vasdev

The lack of effective public transport in the City Beautiful, arguably one of the most planned cities of the world has forced the city residents to own multiple vehicles, resulting in tremendous pressure on traffic.

The city has witnessed a sharp rise in total number of motorised vehicles that have increased over 70 times from around 12,345 in 1971 to around 8.70 lakh till today.

The vehicles may have multiplied manifolds, but this rise has not prompted the UT administration to sit up and take a note. Since 1966, when the CTU started with a 30-bus fleet, only 438 more buses have been added till 2012, while the population has grown from 2.50 lakh in 1970 to 11 lakh in 2012.

But these numbers do not seem to be the reason enough for the administration to move on in the direction of providing an effective mass transport system as provided by cities in developed countries of the world.

Every morning thousands of cars are taken out on roads by residents to reach their destinations. Metro helped regulating the Delhi traffic by assisting lakhs to reach their destinations. As the city awaits Metro, all that administration can do is to add numerous buses to the existing fleet with thoroughly planned routes to provide transport to thousands of commuters everyday, who are forced to take out their cars, burn litres of petrol and choke the arterial roads of the city.

Not only there is a shortage of buses, the routes are also not well organised. There is no route map available. Commuters are left confused and seen asking others about the routes of buses. One wonders if it is too difficult a task to have a well oganised time table and a route map which could be put up at all the bus shelters.

Even bigger problem is that of ageing fleet of around 70 buses. These buses often break down in the middle of the road giving a tough time to the passengers.

What makes life even more difficult for those not having or using their vehicles are the unregulated scooter-rickshaws. The least the UT Administration can do is to ensure that their fare-metres are functional.

The administration needs to take a clue from developed countries like the US where public transit systems have become a part of daily life in many cities. The number of public transportation systems in the United States has increased more than seven-fold in the last 30 years, from 1,044 in 1980 to 7,700 in 2009, according to the American Public Transportation Association (APTA).

APTA reported that in major urban areas, individuals on average save $9,656 (about Rs 5 lakh) annually by using public transportation. It’s a whopping amount only if the administration as well as responsible citizens of the city are willing to learn from this.

open house question

Irrespective of anti-encroachment drives, encroachments in markets have become a regular feature at such places. It appears that a well-organised nexus between encroachers and the Municipal Corporation staff ensures the return of encroachments. What needs to be done to eradicate such encroachments from markets? Send your suggestions along with a passport size picture to openhouse@tribunemail.com



reporters' diary
Politics is about pleasing all

Politicians change colours like chameleon. Once at loggerheads with UT Chief Architect Sumit Kaur, former Mayor and councillor Pardeep Chhabra was all praise for her during the inauguration of the Sector 17 overbridge. At the MC General House in April, Chhabra had raised a question over the Architect's style of working. He was supported by a majority of councillors. But during the inaugural ceremony, Chhabra was singing paeans of Sumit Kaur. Not only Chhabra, but former mayor and councillor Raj Bala Malik and another councillor Gurbax Rawat got their pictures clicked with Kaur.

Original or duplicate?

High drama was witnessed at an operation theatre in the PGI last week when a doctor returned a shunt to a patient's attendant saying it was duplicate, giving jitters to the chemist who sold it. While the patient's attendant created a lot of hue and cry and blasted the chemist for selling the duplicate shunt, it was later realised that the doctor had entered an incorrect 10-digit verification code. As the code was incorrect, the authoriser considered the code invalid.

Hawk's eye

The PU Deputy Registrar, who was recently transferred to a college branch of the university, got two CCTV cameras installed in his office to keep a tab on the day-to-day activities. A series of allegations levelled by the affiliated colleges against the officials at the college branch seem to have forced the DR to take the step.

In the nets

Southpaw Yuvraj Singh was seen sweating it out in the nets at Sector 17. By the time he reached the stadium, his teammates were leaving. Yuvi reached the stadium at 12.30 pm. He practised and then proceeded towards the changing room. The players were practising for their face-off with Mumbai.

Costly affair

The alleged kidnapping of Vikram Dhiman, a realtor, has not only shocked the victim's kin but has also taken Panchkula and Chandigarh police personnel aback. It was learnt that the Sector 2-based property dealer was to return over Rs 30 crore to police officers and businessmen. The police is now burning the midnight oil to trace Dhiman.

DSP in trouble

The UT DSP is in the dock for his proximity to a couple who posed as mediapersons and extorted money from gullible residents. It was learnt that the couple often visited the DSP. As per the call details, the accused and the DSP spoke to each other at least 10 times a day. The police officer is in a tight spot. The accused are cooling heels behind the bars.

Contributed by Rajinder Nagarkoti, Aneesha Sareen, Ritika Jha Palial, Amit Sharma, Hina Rohtaki and Deepankar Sharda



Ministry breathes life into Jan Aushadhi Centre at PGI
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Following the failure of the Jan Aushadhi Centre at the PGI in providing medicines to patients at cheaper rates, the institute had shot off a letter to the Ministry of Drugs and Chemical Fertilisers.

Triggering hope for its revival, the ministry has told the PGI that instructions have been issued to the nodal agency to put things in order.

In its letter (a copy of which is with Chandigarh Tribune), the hospital administration had stated that the unavailability of medicines (empty counters) had left patients disappointed. On the basis of the complaints received from patients as well as the PGI officials, the authorities had found that the centre was flouting norms. In the absence of skilled staff, the patients were at the receiving end. To top it all, the service was not available round the clock.

Under Secretary to the Central Government AK Karn wrote to the PGIMER: "Instructions have been issued to the Bureau of Pharma Public Service Undertakings of India (BPCI) to ensure the smooth functioning of the centre under the revised format of the Jan Aushadhi scheme."

Indirect revenue loss to PGI

Having provided space to the Jan Aushadhi Centre, the PGI has been facing losses in terms of revenue. The shop adjacent to the centre in the new shopping complex was auctioned at Rs 4,10,000 (per month rent) last week.

The centre at the PGIMER was launched in 2009 and has failed to find any takers ever since the first stock was sold. Owing to the shortage of generic drugs, the centre is being perceived as a failure, defeating the very purpose of its establishment. The situation is similar at the centres being run at the GMCH-32 and the GMSH-16.

Expired drugs found

A team of the PGI officials conducted a surprise check at the Jan Aushadhi Centre recently and found stocks of expired medicines lying in the counters.

The purpose

The aim of the centres, opened nationwide by the Central Government, is to provide life saving drugs/ surgical instruments (generic drugs) to patients at an affordable price. A generic medicine is a term referring to any drug marketed under its chemical name without advertising.



300 passengers’ patience put to test
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
It was long wait for around 300 passengers at the Inter-state Bus Terminal in Sector 17. For six hours, they did not get a bus to Hisar. Hundreds of students had come to the city from Haryana to take the Staff Selection Commission exam, which was held in two shifts from10 am to 12 pm and 2 pm to 4 pm.

Jagmohan Bhartiya, a resident of Hisar, stated that he had been waiting for a bus since 4 pm. "It’s 10 pm and I am still waiting for the bus," said Bhartiya.

He said over 150 persons boarded the bus that came at 10 pm. "It was not wise to travel by such an overloaded bus," said Bhartiya.

Another Hisar resident, Abhijinder, who was accompanied by his brother, said they reached the bus stand at 6 pm. “We have been waiting for four hours. When the authorities knew that hundreds of students would come to the city to take the exam, they should have arranged special buses," stated Abhijinder.

An official of the Haryana Roadways said the buses to Hisar were running as per schedule, but these were inadequate to cater to such a large number of students.



death after delivery
Seizures found in Jiya’s brain
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The post-mortem of a 22-year-old woman revealed that she might have died of epilepsy as seizures were found in her brain.

Jiya died at the GMSH-16 after delivering a baby on Thursday. The exact cause of death could be ascertained after the viscera report. The viscera samples have been sent to the CFSL by the board of doctors who conducted the post-mortem today.

The deceased’s brain has been sent for histopathology. The doctors have also sent her heart to the CFSL for analysis. Jiya’s family members had to wait for over three hours at the hospital before the post-mortem started.

The board comprising three doctors from the GMCH-32 included Dr Sunita Arora, department of gynaecology, Dr Amandeep Singh and Dr Vipin, department of forensic medicine.

While the family had suspected medical negligence leading to Jiya’s death, her husband, Pawan, said: “We were waiting for the post-mortem report before lodging a complaint against the medical team.”

The case

Jiya died 12 hours after delivering a baby at GMSH-16 on Thursday. She was admitted to the hospital on November 4 and gave birth to a baby boy on Wednesday evening. While her family members did not lodge a complaint against the medical team handling Jiya’s case, it demanded post-mortem after lodging a police complaint. Jiya’s family members said she had no history of any medical illness and appeared to be fine after the delivery. 



City airport’s vision diminishes
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Come December and weather may play havoc with your travel plans. The instrument landing system (ILS) at the Chandigarh domestic airport is yet to be upgraded.

It is the same old story. The airport does not have the instrument to navigate flights during low visibility.

Last week, the cancellation of three outbound flights inconvenienced more than 350 passengers.

As two flights were delayed by three hours, the airlines had to face a revenue loss of more than Rs15 lakh.Last year, the domestic airport remained shut for 20 days, resulting in losses running into crores.

The present ILS, which is operating at the basic CAT-1 level, cannot help aircraft land and take off, if the visibility goes down below 1.2 km.

The visibility keeps fluctuating below the permissible limits during winter due to fog. An airport official said the visibility on Thursday came down to 1 km due to smog. “The Amritsar airport has the ILS CAT-II navigation system, which requires the visibility of just 550m for landing. Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport has the CAT-III B system, which requires the visibility level of just 200m or even less. It is strange that the ILS at the Chandigarh airport is yet to be upgraded," said Manmohan Singh, chairman of the CII Council (Chandigarh chapter).

The civil operation is handled by the Airports Authority of India while the runway and the air traffic control are with the Indian Air Force.

A senior official said the AAI’s ILS navigation system could be upgraded to the CAT-II level, but for this the lighting system on the runway needed to be improved.

He said the visibility requirement at the domestic airport could be reduced to 550m with the present system, but it again required the enhancement of the central line and touchdown zone lighting system, besides extra approaching lights.

“The IAF has a plan to modernise the runway," he said.

What is an ILS?

The instrument landing system helps aircraft land during low visibility.



Reaching out to the youth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
Candidates contesting the Lok Sabha elections should campaign through social media.

This was stated by a three-member team of the Social Media Group of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) during a session which was attended by local Congress leaders, including MP Pawan Kumar Bansal and president of the Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee (CTCC) BB Behl.

The team explained to the local leaders the emerging importance of social media, a medium that could make the party win or lose the elections.

To counter the onslaught through the social media platform, the AICC team was in Chandigarh to train the local leaders in handling and using the social media. Later accusing the BJP of misusing the social media to a great extent, MP Pawan Kumar Bansal said, "Today, social media is an important medium to communicate, especially with the younger generation."



Snake scare haunts Chhatbir family
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

A resident of Chhatbir along with his family shows a photograph of their daughter, who died of a snakebite last year; and (right) a snake spotted at the house
A resident of Chhatbir along with his family shows a photograph of their daughter, who died of a snakebite last year; and (right) a snake spotted at the house. Tribune photos: Vicky Gharu
A resident of Chhatbir along with his family shows a photograph of their daughter, who died of a snakebite last year; and (right) a snake spotted at the house

Zirakpur, November 10
A family of Class III employee of MC Zoological Park, Chhatbir, has claimed having spendsleepless nights due to snake scare.

Bikram Singh, an account assistant, claimed that every second day, snakes were being spotted at his government accommodation, allotted to him in the colony near the zoo.

“We are living in constant fear of snakes. We cannot sleep properly. Only yesterday, we caught a five-foot long snake, which was spotted in our room,” said Bikram Singh, who lives with his a wife, 10-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter.

Notably, Bikram Singh’s elder daughter had died last year when a ‘krait’ snake had bitten her in the same house. Unfortunately, instead of taking her to hospital, she was taken to some faith healer following which she died after six hours.

Strangely, Bikram Singh, who wanted to change the accommodation, said the snakes were being spotted in his accommodation very often while such complaints were very rare in other houses of the colony.

“I have asked the authorities to allot me some other house in the colony but to no avail,” alleged Bikram Singh.

On being contacted, Manish Kumar, the director of the zoo, said that he did not receive any such request. “Undoubtedly, the colony is located in forest area and spotting snakes in the area is common. It’s really strange if some person says that snakes come to one particular house only,” said Manish Kumar.



Elephant calf dies at Chhatbir zoo
Tribune News Service

Zirakpur, November 10
A seven-year-old Asian elephant male calf named Rajveer died all of a sudden today in the morning at MC Zoological Park, Chhatbir.

Rajveer was last seen by the watchman around 5 am today. “At that time, he (Rajveer) was seen standing in his enclosure fit and fine,” said Manish Kumar, director of the zoo. Manish Kumar said Rajveer was found lying motionless at around 7 am.

“We were all shocked due to his sudden death as Rajveer showed no symptom of any illness or infection. He was perfectly alright and no change in his behaviour was noticed by our experts,” claimed Manish Kumar.

Rajveer was born in the zoo in July 2007. The preliminary findings of the post-mortem, conducted by a team of zoo veterinarians, indicated that acute general septicemia led to his sudden death. Now, the zoo has five Asiatic elephants.

“We have collected various samples from the body, which would be sent to Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University, Ludhiana, for further detailed examination to get the exact cause of his death,” he said.

“All the elephants are fine health wise but evidently sad. We are keeping a close watch on them, particularly the mother of Rajveer. She was being surrounded by other female elephants in the enclosure for most of the time today,” said Manish Kumar.



Man succumbs to injuries

Zirakpur, November 10
A man, who was seriously injured in an accident at Zirakpur, succumbed to his injuries in PGI Chandigarh on Sunday.

The deceased has been identified as Rajinder Singh of Khanpur Varing near Rajpura, district Patiala.

Notably, the victim was injured when the three-wheeler in which he was travelling overturned on road divider near Kalka chowk at Zirakpur on November 6 and later he was shifted to PGI Chandigarh for treatment where he died today. — OC



Poor upkeep of parks annoys residents’ welfare bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The Federation of Sector Welfare Association (FOSWAC) held an executive committee meeting at the Community Centre of Modern Housing Complex, Mani Majra, today.

Issue pertaining to the maintenance of parks by the Resident Welfare Associations was discussed at length and it was proposed that in order to make the scheme successful, the MC should form a comprehensive policy to avoid disputes between the associations.

Members of the associations said the parks could be distributed among them.

The horticulture wing of the MC should look after the parks where weddings and other functions are held.

The members said that cyclists and rickshaw-pullers needed to be regulated.

They should use cycle tracks, they said.

They also expressed concern over the plying of illegal auto-rickshaws in the city.

They said the auto drivers fleeced passengers and stopped the three-wheelers at will, causing traffic jams.



PECFest ends on musical note
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 10
The third and the last day of PECFest 2013 couldn’t have been better, with scores of people from different colleges coming to take part in the various events and competitions.

The day started on a dramatic note with the ‘Dramarama’, a skit competition, where the performers entertained a completely filled auditorium with their humorous timing. Alongside, debaters were clashing in the finale of the ‘Cross Swords’, the conventional debating contest.

Where stage presence had its share, visual attraction was kept in mind in the art arena where several t-shirts that were painted by the contestants of the t-shirt making contest displayed their artistic talent. The ‘Rap Battle’ in the main arena became a close face off among many enthusiasts.

The afternoon was filled with the craze of the ‘Film Festival’, held in collaboration with Shamiana, the famous short film-making club of Delhi. The students were shown short film entries and ad film entries from a large number of colleges all over India, as well some award winning short films. The Sahara Force India’s Pit Stop Challenge hadn’t died out on the third day, with more and more teams coming and racing against time while working on the F1 vehicle in a simulated pit stop. The major crowd puller of the day was the all new and completely overhauled version of PECFest’s Star Night, which had an overtly different infrastructure created by the professional crew of MTV Coke Studio. The big names of the stars that performed in front of a crazy 5,000 youths’ crowd included the Nooran Sisters, Clinton Cerejo and Vijay Prakash.



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