C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


5 cops booked for rape
Allegedly exploited Class X student for over a month; 4 of them held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
The UT police faced a huge embarrassment this evening when four of its constables were arrested in a case of rape, molestation and threatening a minor girl. Five constables have been booked in the case, one of whom is yet to be identified.

The arrested constables are Akshay, Sunil, Jagtar and Himmat Singh. The victim is a Class X student of a government school and is 16 years old. She was allegedly being exploited for the past one and a half months.

While constables Akshay, Jagtar and Himmat Singh are posted with the police control room, constable Sunil is posed with the crime branch. They have been booked under Sections 376, 354 A and 341 of the IPC and under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act.

Harassed by the five constables, the girl was going to commit suicide when she narrated the incident to her brother today. Her brother informed the area councillor, Saurabh Joshi, who informed the police following which the action was taken.

The fifth accused is yet to be identified and the victim claims she will identify him whenever he is produced before her. In her complaint to the police, the girl said it all started one and a half months ago when she had to dial the 100 number owing to a dispute at her Khuda Lahora residence. As the police reached the spot, constable Akshay, who also resides in the same locality, and constable Sunil were there in the PCR vehicle.

Constable Akshay had then called her the next day and offered to meet her. After becoming friends with her, he began to exploit her physically. Constable Sunil also joined in and raped her, she alleged. Soon, three other constables used to meet her and often molested her and sexually exploited her, she said.

On receiving her complaint, the police registered a case of rape against the five constables at the Sector 17 police station. The medical examination of the victim was conducted at the GMSH, Sector 16.

All four constables have now been suspended. Meanwhile, BJP workers and supporters staged a protest at the Sector 16 hospital, when the girl was brought for a medical examination.

One of the constables was attacked by the protesters at the hospital, where the accused were taken for a medical examination. The police had to intervene to control the situation.

Police initially booked only one constable

As the victim approached the police, the accused constable apologised to her and assured her that he would marry her. The statement of the victim was recorded by a woman sub-inspector in the presence of DSP (Central) Ashish Kapoor at the Sector 17 police station. The police initially booked constable Sunil in the case and it was only after the intervention of a BJP councillor that the other four constables were also booked.



Ashram head gets 7-year jail for rape
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Seven months after a rape incident was reported, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge SS Sahni today sentenced a self-styled godman and head of the Valmiki Ashram at the PGI, Baba Sant Ram Rishi, to seven-year rigorous imprisonment.

The court convicted the godman under Section 376 of the IPC and imposed a fine of Rs 7,000 on him.

While pronouncing the order, the court said rape could shatter the entire personality of the victim. “The entire discussion leads to only one conclusion that the accused raped the victim in his ashram. The incident occurred about 15 days prior to a kidnapping attempt by him on May 15 when the matter was first brought to the notice of the police,” the court said.

While the prosecution had maintained that the victim was 17 years old, the age of the victim could not be proved in court. As a result, the charges under the POCSO Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act) could not be proved against the accused.

On May 15 this year, the police had arrested 47-year-old Mahavir, alias Sant Ram Rishi, on a charge of raping the girl inside his ashram thrice 15 days prior to his arrest. The accused was threatening the girl all these days and even went to her home in Daddu Majra to pick her up when she finally reported the matter to the police.

In her complaint to the police, the girl, a resident of Daddu Majra, alleged that she was coaxed by her friend to meet the godman as he had a huge following and had “a solution to all problems”. The minor girl went to meet the godman on May 3, who “charmed her” by saying that she will soon get married and her life will be a bed of roses as per his predictions.

The accused then forcibly took her inside the ashram where he raped her thrice.

Speedy trial

The charges were framed in the case on August 2, 2013. The court has pronounced the verdict in just four months after the trial began.



Had offered Rs 10 lakh to victim for compromise
Aneesha Sareen
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
While sentencing Baba Sant Ram Rishi to seven-year imprisonment, the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge SS Sahni said in its order that it was clear that the victim was being pressured to enter a compromise as the convict wielded influence over his followers or people having faith in him.

The court said it was clear that the victim was offered Rs 10 lakh to reach a compromise in the rape case.

The court made the observations after the defence counsel pleaded that the victim concocted the rape theory to extract money from the accused. The statements of the 18-year-old victim were vital in letting the court come to the conclusion that the accused had raped her inside the ashram.

“The victim’s statements showed that she was being pressured to enter a compromise. It cannot be said that the accused was implicated by the victim to extract money. Rather, it was on behalf of the accused that an offer for payment of money was made if the victim opted for a compromise so that the accused may not get punishment. All these circumstances show the guilty mind of the accused,” the court observed in the order.

“Even during the trial, the victim addressed the accused as “Babaji”, which shows that the accused wields influence over his followers or people having faith in him. In such circumstances, the victim being forced to go to jail to meet the accused cannot be ruled out,” the court said.

“The victim stated that she was forced to go to jail to meet the accused. She was specific that she was forced to go to jail by the accused’s nephew who pressured her to go there and reach a compromise. She admitted that there were talks on the telephone for payment of Rs 10 lakh for reaching a compromise and on one occasion the caller told her that Rs 10 lakh was a big amount. She admitted that when negotiations were on, her husband asked for a sum of Rs 10 lakh for reaching a compromise, to which she also agreed,” the court said.

She inspires confidence, says court

“The statement made by the victim inspires confidence that she has spoken truth and there is no reason to disbelieve her. There is no reason for her to lie as she has no prior relations with the accused and was not even known to him,” the court said.



Monica Goyal's Death
Husband convicted of abetment to suicide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
More than a year after a 35-year-old computer teacher, Monica Goyal, had died at her Sector 21 residence, the court of District and Sessions Judge SK Aggarwal today convicted the victim's husband of abetment to suicide.

The court convicted her husband Vikas Goyal of abetment to suicide under Section 306 of the IPC while simultaneously acquitting him of the charge of her murder. The court convicted the victim's in-laws of destruction of evidence under Section 201 of the IPC while acquitting the duo of the abetment to suicide and murder charges. The quantum of sentence will be pronounced tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the victim's brother-in-law Vishal Goyal has been acquitted of all charges. Besides being convicted of abetment to suicide, Vikas Goyal has been held guilty of destruction of evidence along with his parents.

The police had filed a chargesheet in a case of murder, abetment to suicide, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy under Sections 302, 306, 201 and 120-B of the IPC based on the CFSL report in the case. The CFSL report had pointed that Monica was murdered. However, the murder charges could not be proved in court.

Monica Goyal, a computer teacher with New Public School in Sector 18, was found dead under mysterious circumstances on October 15, 2012. The victim was taken to Government Multi- Speciality Hospital in Sector 16 by her in-laws where she was declared brought dead.

Monica Goyal was brought to the hospital in a private ambulance by her father-in-law GP Goyal and her husband Vikas in the morning when she was declared brought dead. The police was then called by the hospital authorities. Monica's family had alleged that her husband and in-laws had murdered their daughter as they used to beat and harass her for dowry.

Her postmortem examination had revealed that the death was due to hanging. A clot was found on her head.

After a gap of 22 days on November 8, 2012, the police had slapped charges of murder against all accused on the basis of the CFSL report.

After the incident, a team of the CFSL had reconstructed the death scene and hung a dummy to the ceiling fan. Monica and Vikas Goyal got married 12 years ago and have an eight-year-old son, Krish.

Theft in house had spilled the beans

Ten days after she was found dead and all family members were in jail, thieves broke into the Sector 21 residence of Monica Goyal. As the police conducted a search of the house after the theft was reported, a blood-stained bedsheet was recovered from the washing machine. The police had then slapped charges of destruction of evidence against all accused as they had hidden Monica's blood-stained clothes and bedsheet from the police after the incident was reported.

At a glance

  • Monica's husband Vikas Goyal: Convicted of abetment to suicide, destruction of evidence; acquitted of murder charge
  • Monica's father-in-law GP Goyal and mother-in-law Prem Lata Goyal: Convicted under Section 201 of the IPC; acquitted of abetment to suicide and murder charges
  • Brother-in-law Vishal Goyal: Acquitted of all charges
  • All four accused have been acquitted of the murder charge



fog woes
No respite for air, rail passengers
12 flights cancelled, 8 trains delayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
For the fourth day in a row, there was no relief for air and rail passengers from dense fog due to which 12 flights were cancelled and eight trains reached the city behind schedule.

Due to poor visibility, 12 of the 14 scheduled flights were cancelled today, causing harassment to over 1,000 passengers and spoiling their travel plans. The airlines had a tough time handling passengers and arranging flights for them from the Delhi airport. Heated arguments were witnessed between the airline staff and passengers.

Only two flights operated throughout the day today. Indigo's Chandigarh-Mumbai flight took off at 3 pm while SpiceJet's Chandigarh-Delhi flight left at 5.10 pm. The remaining flights could not operate due to poor visibility.

All five flights of Jet Airways did not operate. Air India's only flight from Chandigarh (Chd-Delhi-Mumbai) was cancelled. Except one, the remaining three flights of SpiceJet did not take off. GoAir's two flights to Mumbai did not operate. One flight of Indigo was cancelled. The airlines are keeping their fingers crossed for flight operations tomorrow.

An airport official said the weather was not expected to improve and flights were likely to be cancelled in the coming days as well.

Meanwhile, eight trains were delayed due to poor visibility in the region. The Unchahar Express was again delayed by 10 hours, the Howrah-Kalka train was delayed by over five hours, the Chandigarh-Patliputra train was delayed by four hours, while the Himalayan Queen was running behind schedule by around two hours. An official of the Met Department said dense fog was likely to continue tomorrow. According to the forecast, the maximum temperature was likely to dip.



Safety comes before punctuality during fog, says railway official
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
As in the past, The Northern Railways is conducting trials of fog-safe devices to deal with dense fog in the region. However, despite an increase in the number of trains, there are no concrete plans to deal with the problem on a permanent basis.

Like last year, this year, too, all the short and long-route trains are running behind schedule due to poor visibility in the past three days. As neither the system has been upgraded nor there has been any improvement or expansion of the infrastructure, the problem persists.

Senior divisional commercial manager, Ambala division, Gulshan said a fog-safe device is under trial for proper signal visibility during periods of dense fog. He said after getting an approval from the authorities, the division would replace the existing detonator that makes a loud sound to warn drivers. The official said due to a huge expenditure incurred on the automatic warning system, the authorities were reluctant to install the system on around 6,400-km track. He said the authorities believed in safety during fog, rather than punctuality of trains.

Records of the Railways revealed that in 2010, the then railway minister had proposed to install an automatic signaling system, anti-collision devices and train protection and warning system in trains within one to two years. Till date, nothing has been done to implement these orders.

Former railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said no improvement could be made till modernised signals were installed in areas affected by dense fog. He said the Ministry of Railways should take up this issue on a priority basis and concrete plans should be formulated to install modern signals on the tracks without looking at the financial aspect of it.

The central working president of Indian Railway Loco Runningmen Organisation, Sanjay Kumar Pandhi, said the upgrading of the signal system would not resolve the issue of delay in running of trains.

“Delay in the arrival of trains has become a practice. The main reason is that the authorities are adding new trains without expanding the infrastructure. On a majority of the tracks, the number of trains running is far more than the capacity,” he said.


Shutdown in sight at airport
With visibility dropping due to fog, flight operations affected in past two days
Vivek Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Thanks to ill-equipped navigation system, the Chandigarh airport is heading for a virtual shutdown in the next three weeks. Both the Amritsar and Delhi airports have successfully set up advanced navigation system, also called Instrument Landing System (ILS), which allows flights to land and take off comfortably in days marred by low visibly due to fog or smog.

While Amritsar International Airport has ILS Cat-II navigational system that helps a plane to land with the runway visibility of up to 400 metre, the Delhi airport is equipped with CAT-III B ILS on two runways, which helps a plane to land with the runway visibility of as low as 50 metre.

The Chandigarh airport, however, is still in the “primitive” phase. The present ILS cannot handle the flight operations if the runway visibility drops below 1.2 km. Despite continuous demands made by airlines and residents, there is no headway in the upgrading of the landing system.

Yesterday, the airport experienced its first fog this winter. It resulted in the cancellation of as many as nine flights. Today, only two of the 14 scheduled flights could operate from the airport.

An official of Jet Airways said that an advanced ILS at the airport could have easily saved the day for the passengers besides saving the airlines from revenue losses worth lakhs of rupees.

“Every year, before the onset of the winters, we keep our fingers crossed, hoping for minimum damage. We even rescheduled our flights, but all seems to have been in vain,” he said.

“Last year, the airport remained virtually shutdown from December 22 to January 9. We are heading for a similar situation this year,” said an official of Spice Jet.

Manmohan Singh, chairman of the CII Council (Chandigarh chapter), said in a modern city such as Chandigarh, it was surprising that we were still struck with the basic navigational system at the airport despite crores being spent on its infrastructural development.

“This cannot be tolerated anymore,” he said.

The problem is accentuated due to the dual ownership of the airport. Being a defence airport, the runway and air traffic control is with the Indian Air Force, while the Airport Authority of India (AAI) handles the civil operation.

A senior AAI official said the cancellation of flights could be averted during the winter season if the navigation system was advanced to the CAT-II level.

For this to happen, it requires upgraded approach lighting system on the runway; a task that comes under the jurisdiction of the IAF.

“The IAF plans to modernise the runway with better lighting system, but there is no clarity on their plans so far,” he said.

Revenue loss piling up for airlines

In the previous two days, the airlines operating from the Chandigarh airport suffered a revenue loss of over ~1.5 crore. The losses are set to pile up further, since fog is likely to disrupt the airport at least for the next three weeks.



Year ender 2013
Worst period for beleaguered CTU
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
The recent approval by the Union Ministry of Urban Development to an additional fleet of 400 buses for the UT under JNNURM has come as a positive development for the sagging Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) that otherwise passed through its worst time due to a shortage of buses and staff in 2013.

A pen-down strike by the CTU workers union to press for their demands on more than three occasions during the year brought the public transport system to a grinding halt.

The year also saw the ageing fleet of around 70 white and blue semi-low floor buses giving teething operational problems compared to the modern and comfortable green and red low-floor AC and non-AC buses that have been a hit with passengers. Due to the shortage of buses, the CTU had to divert a number of long-route buses to local routes.

Despite claims of the authorities, the first planned city in the country was seen struggling to put in place an effective public transport system. There was a ray of hope when the CTU invited bids for 49 buses after the UT decided to go for midi buses, a low-floor bus larger than the traditional mini-bus. These buses would be added to the fleet apart from the AC low-floor and non-AC semi-low floor buses.

Owing to the inefficient public transport system, the private transport has remained a preferred choice for many residents.

In existence for more than five decades, the CTU a fleet of 236 buses plying on 70 local routes daily covers 47,000 km to ferry about 1.83 lakh passengers. The state transport undertaking is now making efforts to put in place a user friendly bus route information system to facilitate easy travel. Indeed, commuting in and around the city by the local bus service is nothing less than an unending riddle. For commuters, especially tourists, figuring out the route plan of the local bus service often turns into an uneasy experience. They end up asking fellow passengers about the destinations on the routes or have to make desperate inquiries at the ticket counters.

Shortage of 300 buses

Official figures reveal that from a fleet of 30 buses in 1966 to 468 buses in 2012, an addition of just 438 buses has been made during the nearly five decades of the existence of the CTU. It is ironic that while the population of the city grew from 2.5 lakh in 1970 to 12 lakh in 2012, the fleet of the buses has not been increased accordingly. At presently, the state transport undertaking is short of around 300 buses.

Staff woes

It is not only the shortage of buses but also the shortage of around 100 drivers and 200 conductors that has forced the department to give an over time worth Rs 11 crore to the employees every year.

Bus queue shelters

The 260-odd bus queue shelters of three different types - brick structures, wrought iron structures and the latest steel structures - are a classic example of UT officials’ belief in putting the cart before the horse. Without framing a clear-cut policy to maintain these structures, the Architect Department designed the structures and the Engineering Department of the MC mindlessly spent crores of rupees on their construction.

Looking ahead

  • The Chandigarh Transport Undertaking needs to address the shortage of buses at the earliest
  • Frequency of services on local routes, depending upon the requirement and feedback from the field staff, needs to be increased
  • The problem of shortage of drivers and conductors should be immediately addressed
  • User friendly route maps and information on the frequency of bus service need to be put in place



Sanitation Work
Outsource area: Councillors
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Raising the issue of the poor sanitary condition in the city, a majority of the Councillors during the General House demanded that the MC should outsource area rather than outsourcing manpower for carrying out sanitation works in various parts of the city.

The issue was taken up by the BJP Councillor and leader of Opposition Arun Sood and Congress Councillor Gurbax Rawat while discussing the agenda related to outsourcing of 1,037 safai karamcharis in the city.

Sood during the meeting proposed that rather than outsourcing manpower for cleanliness, the House should outsource the area or a particular sector as checking whether how many safai karamcharis outsourced were present was not possible.

“Around 18 months ago the House had decided to outsource the area for cleanliness, however, the decision was not implemented,” Sood said.

Echoing similar views, Rawat said the city’s sanitation condition was bad and there was a need to outsource the area.

“We should not be concerned with the number of safai karamcharis outsourced. All that needs to be checked is whether the area outsourced is cleaned or not”, she said.

Rawat further said it should be left on contractors to decide as whether how many employees they want to deploy in the area outsourced to them and the MC should only be concerned with ensuring proper cleanliness in that particular area.

Nominated councillor Amrit Tewari said the MC should not be counting the number of people outsourced, however, they should check whether the city was cleaned.

“Headcount is not the concern, ensuring cleanness in the city is the issue,” she said. MC Commissioner VP Singh, while reacting to the proposal, said it would only be introduced after holding deliberations and working-out modalities.

Commissioner addressing the House said if all councillors irrespective of their political parties were interested in outsourcing the area rather than manpower, then they should not back out on the issue after introducing it.

The Tribune team had also conducted a reality check in four Sectors - Sectors 18, 19, 21 and 29 - and at Colony No 4 on October 23 to see whether safai karamcharis were performing their duties properly which revealed that a shocking 78 per cent of them were found absent from their duties during the morning hours. There were a total of 182 safai karamcharis in the MC records in these sectors and only 43 were found present.

The issue of outsourcing the area is expected to be discussed in the next House meeting.

The last date for the nominations for the elections of Mayor, Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor is December 28.

Sidelights of the MC meeting

  • Tempers ran high when Mayor Subhash Chawla started passing the agendas without inviting discussions on them. The Opposition objected to that and threatened to walk out from the House meeting. The arguments, which continued for over 15 minutes, finally ended when the Mayor decided to take the agendas again.
  • The Mayor received flak from nominated councillor Shagufta Parveen for inviting the nominated councillor for discussion on an agenda. The Mayor said: "Shagufta ji, agar apne kuch bolna hai to bol lo", to which Shagufta strongly reacted and said the former was insulting her. Shagufta said: "If she wants to raise some point she would raise it on her own, the Mayor doesn't need to ask her."
  • The agenda of construction of Raen Basera (shelters) in the city led to a strong opposition from the councillors who said the modalities should be worked out before approving the agenda. Independent councillor Gurcharan Dass Kalaa said the Raen Basera constructed in Mani Majra was not used for the purpose for which it was meant and it had been allotted to the relative of a former Mayor for running an NGO.



‘Substandard’ Works
Want responsibility of officials fixed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Cutting across the party lines, councillors of the Municipal Corporation today demanded that responsibility of contractors and MC officials concerned should be fixed in case road gives in after a few days of recarpeting.

Recently, the MC had received complaints from various parts of the city about the use of substandard material in road repair. Even Councillor Mukesh Bassi had submitted complaint to UT Adviser-cum-Chief Vigilance Officer (CVO) demanding a vigilance probe regarding poor recarpeting in Sector 19.

Congress Councillor Gurbax Rawat pointed out that MC officials were not accepting the reality that roads recarpeted by the MC were in worst condition, especially V6 roads (inner roads in sectors). The MC was compromising with the quality of work by floating tenders of road repair at less rates whereas the UT Administration carried out the work at higher rates. Instead of rates, the quality of work must be ensured and responsibility should be fixed, she added.

SAD Councillor Harjinder Kaur said responsibility of contractors and officials should be fixed so that they would use good quality material in the works. At present, nobody was responsible.

Nominated councillor Amrit Tewari said there was a difference in rates of road repair in the MC and the UT Administration. The UT pays higher rates to contractors but the MC pay less. She questioned that by giving the contract at less rates, is the MC is compromising on the quality issue due to which the city was witnessing poor repair of roads.

Another nominated councillor, Surinder Bahga, said MC officials recarpet some roads after three or four years and some after seven years. Responsibility of officials concerned should be fixed whose road did not even pass four or five years.

MC Commissioner Vivek Pratap Singh said in the poor recarpeting issue of Sector 19, they have already issued notice to the contractor. On the quality of the work, the Commissioner said the MC’s road quality was at par with the roads recarpeted by the administration.



All set for a new crusade
After struggling for Ruchika’s cause, friend will now campaign for AAP
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 19
After fighting a battle against former Haryana Director General of Police (DGP) SPS Rathore for molesting her friend Ruchika Girhotra, who later committed suicide, now Aradhna has decided to campaign for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at the local level.

It was after she felt that corruption was the root cause for injustice in several cases, especially those involving the top brass, she took the decision.

Aradhna’s father, Anand Prakash, has joined the party besides 150 volunteers from Panchkula.

“I will be supporting the AAP and also campaign for it. In most of the cases people don’t get justice because of corruption,” said Aradhna, over phone from Australia.

Anand Prakash said, “We know how difficult it is to fight for justice, especially against the top brass. We came across a lot of corruption while fighting for Ruchika’s cause.”

He said they have called a meeting on Sunday for which prominent persons of the town, including doctors, engineers and sarpanches of various villages, have been invited.

He said they would be mobilising people to join the party, so that no one became a victim of corruption.

Recently, Anand Prakash challenged the closure report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in two cases against SPS Rathore.



Residents can install hand pumps in houses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Amid protest by the opposition Councillors, the Municipal Corporation (MC) today decided to allow residents of Southern Sectors to install hand pumps inside their houses. The residents will have to bear the expenses of installing the same and ensure that the water is used for the purpose of gardening, car washing, etc., instead of drinking.

An agenda, on the demand of Deputy Mayor Satish Kumar Kainth, Sat Parkash Aggarwal and Darshan Garg, was brought to the House for discussion stating that the water level in the Southern sectors have gone-up and permission of installing the hand pumps should be given to residents having houses with boundary walls so that they can utilise the water for various purposes other than drinking.

Opposing the proposal, BJP Councillor Satinder Singh stated that who would ensure that the water was used for gardening or washing clothes only as if somebody drinks the water by mistake it could lead to trouble.

Answering the query, MC Commissioner VP Singh suggested that before granting the permission to install the hand pump, the house owner should be asked to give an undertaking that the owner would be ensuring proper use of water and they would be themselves responsible if something happens due to drinking the water.

BJP Councillor Arun Sood also raised objections to the proposal and said the MC should attach some study related to the rising of the water-level in Southern sectors to substantiate the claims.

Sood said the city already had surplus tertiary water and further allowing residents to install the hand pumps would not fulfill any purpose as the scarcity of drinking water would not be solved after this.

The House approved the proposal and it was decided that the MC would not charge any fee from the residents for installing the hand pumps.



In a month, Mohali to have a grand mall
Our Correspondent

Mohali, December 19
Residents of Mohali will no longer have to make a beeline for malls in Chandigarh and Panchkula. Claimed to be “one of the biggest in northern India”, The North Country Mall is coming up on a 21.6-acre area on the way to Kharar. It is likely to become fully functional in a month’s time.

The mall has over a million sq-ft of retail space, 94 per cent of which has been pre-leased to major national and international retailers.

It will house leading national and international brands including Reliance Hypermart, Lifestyle, Marks & Spencer, Decathlon, Central PVR, Funcity, FCUK, Paris Hilton, Hidesign, Levi’s, Lotto, Rado, Bruno Manetti, Pinelli and Esbeda.

Designed by US-based architects TVS Design, The North Country Mall with its nine screen multiplex, having a seating capacity of 1,800, is expected to be a big draw for movie buffs too. While two of these screens will be of the gold category, seven will be of the normal category.

The mall will also have a 36,000 sq-ft food court. It is slated to be the second biggest in India and will have outlets of Chicago Pizza, McDonald’s, Microbrewry and PizaaVito among other eateries. There will also be a 75,000 sq-ft Hypermarket and over 250 shops housing premium brands. The mall will have 45,000 sq-ft of banquet terrace.

The new mall is being developed by Gumberg India, a subsidiary of the US-based Gumberg Global. It will have a three-tier security system and parking in the basement for 3,000 cars.

Praveen Singh, marketing manager, said it would take a month for the mall to become fully functional. Around 85 per cent of the construction work had been completed and 45 per cent of the retail area had been occupied by retailers, he said.



property tax
MC House okays month’s extension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Giving relief to the residents who failed to submit property tax within the stipulated time, the Municipal Corporation (MC), during the General House meeting, decided to give a month’s extension to the defaulters for depositing the tax.

The MC will be recommending the extension of date to the UT for notification. The date will be extended on getting an approval from the UT.

The residents were supposed to deposit the property tax between October 15 and December 15 at the rate of Re 1 per square yard. However, a majority of the residents failed to pay the tax before the deadline.

The House Tax and Assessment Committee of the MC, at a meeting held on November 25, had recommended that the last date for depositing the tax should be extended to March 31, 2014.

The House, however, decided to extend the date by a month.

The House decided that the date of extension will be from the date of notification by the UT.

With the extension of the date, the residents will be saved from paying late charges, i.e. 25 per cent penalty on the entire property tax and an interest of 12 per cent on the entire amount.

High drama at meeting

A high drama was witnessed on the issue when BJP councillor Arun Sood objected to a statement made by nominated councillor MP Kohli.

Kohli had said that the Municipal Corporation received crores of rupees in grants from the UT after introducing the property tax.

Reacting to this, Sood said the House was being misguided, as the civic body had not received any grant from the UT after imposing the tax.



Sterilisation of dogs
Mohali MC to purchase laparoscopic machine

Mohali, December 19
The Municipal Corporation will be purchasing a laparoscopic machine to conduct sterilisation operations on stray dogs here. It has even asked the Animal Husbandry Department to depute two or three veterinary doctors for the work.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting held today by the Commissioner of the corporation, Uma Shankar Gupta, with an NGO and officials of the Animal Husbandry Department.

Gupta said two representatives of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals attended the meeting apart from the Deputy Director and doctors of the Animal Husbandry Department.

The society was asked to provide the layout of a modern dog shelter, which the civic body had planned to construct. An area of 2 acres would be earmarked for the shelter, which would be constructed in accordance with the guidelines of the Government of India. A subsidy of Rs 25 lakh could also be availed of from the Central Government in this regard.

The Commissioner said the laparoscopic machine would be purchased in January after which 10 to 12 stray dogs would be sterilised on a daily basis. The machine would help operate on more dogs. The surgery would also be done in a better way and needed less post-operative care. — OC



A tragedy waiting to happen on PGI campus
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
The blast triggered by a short-circuit in an underground cable joint at a faculty parking lot at the PGI yesterday has exposed the apathy of the authorities towards the maintenance of the power cables and wires on the hospital campus.

The web of wires and open sockets at various points in the doctors’ hostels located in the Kairon Block speaks volumes of the authorities' apathy towards preventing short-circuits that can result in bigger tragedies.

While a major tragedy was averted on Wednesday as the blast took place just a few metres away from the Nehru Hospital (housing over 1,000 patients) and the Kairon Block, it seems prevention of short-circuits is nowhere on the priority list of the PGI authorities.

Sources said not only were these wires more than 40 year old but also had never been inspected by the authorities. Also, short-circuits due to overloading is a frequent problem in the building.

A visit to one of the hostel rooms in the building today revealed that there wire webs of wires even inside doctors' rooms. In fact, about six months ago, fire caused by a short-circuit damaged the belongings of one of the resident doctors while he was away to some work.

“The doctors require basic items in their rooms. If they install air-conditions or use water heaters, overloading often leads to minor fires. Even as the Director sits in the same building, none from his office have ever visited these areas,” said an official of the PGI.

Yesterday, a 120mm thick underground cable caught fire in a joint that was repaired 15 days ago, allegedly by a private contractor. According to sources, the high-power cable that supplies power to the entire Kairon Block should have been installed at least 2 feet deeper. A significant amount of water had seeped into the cable joint during watering of plants grown around the parking lot, leading to a short-circuit. Also, more than 300 cars were parked in the area when the blast took place. While power supply to the Kairon Block was restored from an alternative cable, the joint was repaired today by electricians.

PGI’s take

A major renovation of the Nehru Hospital, Research Block and other areas is under way. All these requirements will be fulfilled during the major renovation.

Manju Wadwalkar, PGI spokesperson



Remove encroachments from Wakf Board land: Society
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
The All-Muslim Welfare Society today urged the Punjab Government to remove encroachments from Wakf Board’s land. Manik Ali, Chairman, All Muslims Welfare Society, while addressing a press conference here today urged government departments that were operational from the land of the Punjab Wakf Board that these should be shifted and handover the same land to the board.

In this direction, the government should instruct respective Deputy Commissioners in respective districts to issue instructions to remove these encroachments. Though Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal have already given an assurance to remove such encroachments earlier this year, no action has been taken in this regard.



Ahmadiyya conference from December 27
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Announcing the 122nd annual three-day International Ahmadiyya Muslim Conference to be held at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Headquarters in Qadian, Gurdaspur district, Punjab, from December 27 to 29, the representatives of the Jamaat, Mohammad Hameed Kousar, Shaikh Mujahid Ahmad Shastri and Syeed Nayyar Ahmad, said Pakistan had the highest strength of followers of the community and it was not surprising that foreign delegates attending the conference, an estimated 5,000, form the largest part of participants. The first batch of delegates from Pakistan, numbering 700, will reach Qadian today.

Ahmadiyya Muslims have a large presence in Ghanna, Germany, Canada and the UK. In India, their population is mostly concentrated in Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and Orissa.

On December 28, an all-religion peace conference will be organised during which religious leaders will share with people the teachings of their respective religions so as to bring people following different religions closer.



Row over parking
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
High drama was witnessed at the staff parking lot near the New OPD Block of the PGI this morning when the security guards deployed there opposed the entry to a contractual employee.

The duo entered into a heated argument and soon more than 70 contractual workers of the PGI gathered at the spot and protested against the denial of entry to one of their colleagues.

The guard told the employee that he had instructions only to allow vehicles carrying parking stickers into the area.

Later, the in charge the New OPD Block, Dr Bikash Medhi, reached the spot and assured the workers that he would take up the matter with the competent authorities.



SAD general secretary meets fasting leader

Mohali, December 19
Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SAD, met Gurbaksh Singh Khalsa, Haryana leader who is on an indefinite fast for the release of Sikhs languishing in various jails, at Gurdwara Amb Sahib here today.

Gurbaksh Singh said Chandumajra had come to meet him after 36 days of his fast. He said it was unfortunate that SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar was issuing statements against his protest. Efforts were allegedly made to shift his camp, he said. Chandumajra said he would take up the matter with the Punjab Chief Minister. — OC



Winter flares up arthritis problem, says expert
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 19
Over 100 members of Himachal Engineers and Pensioners Association attended a special health workshop on ‘arthritis problems in winter’ at Jainendra Public School, Sector 1 Panchkula today.

The event was conducted by Max Super Specialty Hospital, Mohali. While addressing the gathering, Dr Manuj Wadhwa, director and head, Max Elite Institute of Orthopaedics and Joint Replacement, said winter tended to flare up arthritis problems, especially in shoulders.

He said arthritis referred to more than 100 different types of diseases affecting joints and connecting tissue. In simple terms, it is an inflammation of one or more of the joints, he said.

The expert said, “In a diseased shoulder, inflammation causes pain and stiffness of the joints. The shoulder arthritis was a common problem in old age which might worsen during winters.”



Fill vacant posts: DC office staff

Mohali, December 19
The Punjab State District DC Office Karam Union today staged a protest outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Phase I here. Om Parkash, a leader of the union, said the two-day protest is a part of the ongoing agitation by the employees over the failure of the government in implementing their long-pending demands.

These include upgrading of the posts of superintendent (Grade II) and junior scale stenographer besides filling of vacant posts in 17 sub-divisions across the state and an enhanced dearness allowance. — TNS



Excise Department raids two city bars
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
In a late night swoop on bars being run from restaurants, the UT Excise and Taxation Department challaned two outlets, Tao in Sector 26 and Altis hotel in Industrial Area, Phase II, Chandigarh, for running their bars beyond the specified timings.

The Commissioner, Excise and Taxation, Mohammed Shayin, said the raids would continue in the coming days as the bars could remain open after the specified timings.

Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, RC Bhalla, said the bars in the above mentioned places were found open till 1 am.



Bhola seeks CBI probe into drugs case

Mohali, December 19
Jagdish Singh, alias Bhola, who is accused of involvement in drug racketeering, today sought a CBI probe into the case. Bhola, along others linked with the case, was produced before the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge (Senior Division) Parminder Pal Singh.

The court fixed the next date of hearing as December 24. It also issued production warrants for Paramjit Singh Pamma, an accused who was not present in the court.

Bhola said he had been falsely implicated in the case and sought a CBI probe into the case. If such a probe was ordered, he would name three Punjab ministers who were allegedly involved in drug racketeering. — OC



Entry-level classes
Admission no child’s play
3,600 apply for 705 seats in city’s four missionary schools
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
The competition for admission to entry-level classes in the city’s four most sought-after missionary schools has really become tough as over 3,600 applicants have applied for a total of their 705 seats. The last date for submitting the registration forms in these schools was over today. All eyes are now on the draw of lots scheduled on January 10.

Among these four schools, St Anne’s, Sector 32, received maximum 1,500 admission forms, followed by Carmel Convent School, which received approximately 800 forms. St John’s High School, Sector 26, received approximately 700 forms, while Sacred Heart School, Sector 26, got nearly 600 forms.

Long queues were seen today in front of these schools on the last day as parents were seen making last-minute efforts to submit the forms in these four schools.

However, nothing is clear so far as how many seats will go for draw of lots for the general category in these four school.

St John’s High School, Sector 26, has a total of 160 seats at the UKG level. Last year, it allotted 95 seats through draw of lots to the general category.

Sacred Heart School, Sector 26, which has 160 seats for English and 40 seats for Hindi medium at the LKG level, gave 55 seats through draw of lots for English medium sections.

Carmel Convent, Sector 9, which has 120 seats at the LKG level, allotted 53 seats through draw of lots, while St Anne’s, which has 210 seats at the LKG level, gave 100 seats through draw of lots. The rest were given to the Christian minority, siblings of alumni and staff members.



PU Emeritus Professor to get honorary degree
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
The University of the Sciences (USciences), Philadelphia, US, would confer honorary degree of Doctor of Science on Panjab University Emeritus Professor Harkishan Singh. Professor Harkishan Singh is emeritus professor at the University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS), PU.

The honorary degree will be conferred on Prof Harkishan Singh at the university’s founder’s day on February 20, 2014, by the chair of the board of trustees, Marvin Samon. Professor Harkishan is being conferred this honorary degree for his significant accomplishments and professional contributions to the fields of organic and medicinal chemistry and the history of pharmaceutics.

In a communication to PU Vice-Chancellor Professor Arun Kumar Grover, the USciences has informed that Professor Harkrishan Singh’s multidisciplinary expertise in medicinal chemistry and science history is of great interest and has been recognised as distinguished by their university.

“Our undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled in programmes that include a broad range of manors in the health sciences, pharmaceutical sciences and arts and sciences and are thus pleased to honour Professor Harkishan Singh’s stature,” the University of the Sciences said.

The USciences is considered among world leading universities in the field of health care and science and is located at Philadelphia in the US. The USciences was founded in 1821 as the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, the first college of pharmacy in the US.



Youth educated about HIV/AIDS

Chandigarh, December 19
Desh Bhagat University, Mandi Gobindgarh, organised a cluster-based workshop “Against Social Evils” in collaboration with the Punjab State Aids Control Society, Chandigarh. The workshop was conducted in the university seminar hall.

Different colleges took part in this programme, which was based on awareness generation on HIV/AIDS, anti-drugs and blood donation.

Dr Zora Singh, Chancellor, Desh Bhagat University, inaugurated the workshop by lighting the ceremonial lamp. He professed that this workshop would be beneficial for the youth.

Dr Mann, assistant director, Fatehgarh Sahib district, said Red Ribbon clubs were formed in different colleges of the district and competitions would be held to spread awareness among the students in this regard from time to time.

Dr Shalini Gupta, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, said this workshop would guide the youth as to how to keep away from social evils.

Dr Sukhwinder Singh (blood bank, Rajindra Hospital, Patiala) educated youth about the importance of blood donation, functioning of blood banks and health parameters required in blood donors.

Hem Rishi from Saket Hospital, Patiala, delivered a lecture on HIV/AIDS and included in his talk as how to keep safe from this dangerous disease.

Professor Manjit Singh from Punjabi University spoke to the students against drug abuse and its effects. — TNS



Cultural extravaganza marks annual day celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Gian Jyoti Global School, Phase II, Mohali, presented the cultural burlesque of melody and ballet to mark its 34th annual day celebrations at the Tagore Theatre in Sector 18, here. The function started with lighting the ceremonial lamp, followed by a culture extravaganza, which was based on the theme of “NAVRAS-Nine Shades of Human Emotions”.

The students did extreme justice with the theme of the day and presented the marvellous show with the performance on Shant, Adbhut, Raudra, Karun, Vibhatsya, Bhey, Veer, Hasya and Shingar Ras. The show was applauded a lot since it had woven social, environmental and the other problems in its different shades.

Through Shant Ras, the students created serene atmosphere with the Shabad, hymn, azan, aarti, etc. The charisma of nature and the advancement in communication system was showcased through Adbhut Ras. Maa Kali and Shiv Ji Tandav Dance were beautifully presented in Raudra Ras. The pitiable plight of Indian women was presented through Karun Ras. Water pollution was the main focus when students presented Vibhatsya Ras. Freedom fighters and other heroes of India were paid a rich tribute through Veer Ras.

JS Bedi, chairman of the school, appreciated the dedicated efforts of the staff members and the students to make ceaseless efforts to make this day a memorable one.



Online assessment
PU receives feedback from all city colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
On the first day of the online internal assessment for postgraduate (PG) courses, the Panjab University examination branch today received feedback from all city-based colleges.

The authorities have recently adopted the system of virtual privacy networking system for internal assessment of PG courses. Under this, all colleges running PG courses have been issued a code through which they can submit the details of the candidates of internal assessment of 20 marks online to the university.

Parvinder Singh, PU controller examination, said the last date for submitting the online internal assessment was December 28. After looking at the today’s response by the colleges, it seemed that in the next two days all other colleges would submit their internal assessment.

He said the authorities had initiated it to make the system paper-free and more transparent.

The records of the university revealed that there are around 44,000 students in Chandigarh and Punjab-based colleges who are enrolled for PG courses.



Tiny tots have fun at zoo
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, December 19
It was fun time for tiny tots of Mount Litera Zee School, Panchkula as they visited Chhatbir Zoo. Students of playway, nursery, lower kindergarten (LKG) and upper kindergarten (UKG) classes went to meet various animals housed at the zoo.

All the students participated enthusiastically in the event. They found it very enriching and entertaining to see all the animals that they had only seen in their books.



Students told about Christmas

The jingling of the Christmas bell, moving of the Santa’s sleigh and shouts of glee around the Christmas tree could be heard resounding at St Xavier’s Senior Secondary School, Sector 44, Chandigarh, on Thursday.

The students were made aware of the significance of Christmas, its celebrations and festivities through an introductory speech. The Hindi choir sang a harmonious song “Charwaha”. An English play was also presented by the hostelers depicting the message received by the three wise men from the East to the follow the bright star and pay homage to baby Jesus. The English choir sang Christmas carols.

Annual sports event

Students of LKG, Bhavan Vidyalaya, Sector 15, Panchkula, participated in annual sports event. All sections of the LKG participated in the event, which was conducted in the school ground. Three winners from each section were selected. Thereafter, an inter-class race was conducted where first three winners were selected in each race.

Academic activities

To awaken the spirit of Christmas, a week-long activity was organised for students at St Xavier High School, Panchkula. These activities were selected to suit different tastes and skills of the students. To set the ball rolling, the school had academic activities like “weave a story”. The culinary skills were awakened in the students by “salad n sandwich” competition. Craft activities like “disco-a-Santa-plate”, “paper-lantern making” and “designer party accessories” were highly appreciated. The students participated with full enthusiasm.

Students sing carols

St Teresa Convent School, Panchkula, organised various activities for its students. Children of Classes I and II sang Christmas carols, which created a peaceful and enjoyable environment in the school. Students of Classes III and IV made paper bags of different styles and shapes and decorated them with different materials to realise and understand the importance of not using polythene bag. Students of Class V made Santa Claus, bells and stars to highlight their efforts. It was a colourful and fun-filled day of activities. — TNS



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