C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Morni hills mishap leaves lawyer dead
  Girl suffers serious injuries; both friends remained stuck in the car throughout the night
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 20
A 26-year-old advocate, Saman Dhanak, was killed while his 30-year-old friend, Neha, suffered serious injuries when the car they were travelling in fell into a 60-foot-deep gorge in the Morni hills in Panchkula late last night.
The mangled remains of the car that met with an accident in Morni hills.
The mangled remains of the car that met with an accident in Morni hills. A Tribune photograph
The victim, Saman Dhanak’s brother (leaning against the car) and relatives outside the mortuary at the Government Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, on Sunday.
The victim, Saman Dhanak’s brother (leaning against the car) and relatives outside the mortuary at the Government Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, on Sunday. Tribune photo: Pradeep Tewari

Saman, grandson of former Haryana minister Amar Singh Dhanak, and Neha were returning to Panchkula in Saman’s Maruti SX4 car from Morni last night when Saman lost control over the car while taking a turn, resulting in the mishap. Saman, a resident of Mansa Devi Complex, Sector 4, had just started practising law at the Punjab and Haryana High Court after completing his degree from Kurukshetra University, Neha, a resident of Baltana, was working with a private telecom company.

After a three-hour operation by the police and villagers in the morning today, the victims were taken from the accident spot to the General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, where Saman was declared brought dead.

According to the police, the duo had started their journey from Panchkula at 12 noon yesterday and visited Tikar Taal. They started their journey back home at around 8 pm, but met with the accident on the way.

Being dark and a jungle area, the duo remained stuck in the car in the gorge for the whole night. Neha called out for help a number of times at night, but to no avail. Later, she fell unconscious.

“According to the girl’s statement, she regained consciousness at around 6.30 am today. She somehow managed to get out of the car to call for help. Saman was still alive at that time,” said ASI Paramjt Singh, in charge of the Morni police post.

A few labourers heard Neha’s shrieks and informed local villagers and the police, that called a crane. In the meantime, when Neha went back to tell Saman that people were coming to help them, she realised that he had died.

The postmortem of the victim was conducted at the General Hospital after which the body was handed over to the family.

Victim was Haryana ex-minister’s grandson

Saman was a grandson of former Haryana minister Amar Singh Dhanak. His father, Rajinder Dhanak, was a Public Relations Officer in Haryana. Rajinder had contested the Assembly elections from Hansi in 2009, but lost. Rajinder used to stay in Hansi. Yesterday, he had come to his MDC residence for the weekend when the tragedy struck the family.



I tried hard, but there was no mobile network, says girl
Hina Rohtaki
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, April 20
It was a night Neha will dread thinking about all her life. Stuck in a car in a 60-foot-deep gorge in a dense jungle in Morni without any mobile network, the injured girl, who survived the mishap, lost her friend, Saman Dhanak, after a long struggle.

The absence of mobile towers in Morni added to their agony as they failed to reach out to anybody for help the entire night, leading to Saman’s death in the morning. The girl desperately kept trying to call someone from her mobile, but there was no network.

Neha was stuck in the leg room of the car, while Saman was stuck in the driver’s seat with blood oozing out from his body.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Neha said, “I tried hard, but there was no mobile network. In the dense jungle, nobody heard our shrieks. The phone could have helped, but it didn’t work.”

The victim called out for help a number of times, but no one responded. After that she fell unconscious.

“Early in the morning, when I gained consciousness, Saman was fine. I gave him water. He was worried that his father would scold him as the car had been damaged,” said Neha. Saman’s father had promised a new Honda City for him.

Neha somehow managed to get out of the car. “I couldn’t walk properly because of the injuries, but dragged myself to a distance and called out for help.”

“When I went back, from a distance I saw Saman vomiting blood. When I rushed to give him water, I found he was no more,” said the girl, crying.

Had the mobile network been available, Saman may have survived.

Chief Secy visits hospital

Haryana Chief Secretary SC Choudhary visited the General Hospital to meet the victim’s father, Rajender.

Victim was fond of hills

Saman’s last words were that his father would scold him as the car had been badly damaged. Saman was the elder of two brothers. Saman’s friends said he was fond of the hills. Even on his Facebook account, Saman had posted various pictures with hills in the background.



NDA exam
Parents sweat it out under the sun
 No water for them at exam centres
Mehakdeep Grewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Parents of National Defence Academy aspirants, who accompanied their wards to the city for the entrance test of the academy today, alleged that no drinking water and seating arrangements had been made for them at the examination centres, forcing them to spend the day on roads and pavements.

Vijender Singh, who accompanied his son from Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan, said, “The authorities should have realised that people would come from far-flung areas of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and accordingly arrangements such as drinking water should have been made.”

Another parent, Arish Yogi, who had come along with his son from Hisar, said, “ Either the authorities should have set up examination centres in all districts or arrangements should have been made for those accompanying their wards from far-off areas. Firstly, we had to travel for miles to reach the centres and then sit all day under the sun.”

The entrance exam was conducted in two shifts; the first paper (mathematics) was held from 10 am to 12.30 pm, while the second paper (general awareness) was held from 2 00 pm to 4.30 pm.

Students who were not accompanied by their parents also also had a tough time as the authorities refused to provide them space for keeping their bags and cell phones.

Kuljeet Singh, a student from Amritsar, said, “In the morning, we asked the authorities and the guard of the school to keep watch over our bags and mobiles, but they plainly refused, saying that it was not their responsibilty. Finally, we had to keep our bags out side the school boundary in the open under trees.”

Three-wheeler drivers overcharged students. Ruchi Kunagpa, said, “After spending the entire day under the sun, three-wheeler drivers took us for a ride. For a small distance, which usually costs Rs 5, they were charging Rs 30 per person.” Parents who had come from distant areas and had no idea of the fares in the city, paid what the drivers quoted. The three-wheeler drivers charged Rs 250 from the railway station to the city against the stipulated Rs 150.



Ten injured as auto overturns
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Ten people were injured, two of them seriously, after an auto carrying around 15 persons overturned near the Kala Gram light point here this morning. The victims, members of the auto driver's family and their relatives, were on the way to the Mansa Devi temple.

According to the police, Hari Ram, along with his family and that of his brother-in-law Dharamraj, wanted to pay obeisance at the temple, but met with the accident on the way.

In his statement to the police, Hari Ram said a cyclist came in front of the auto following which he applied sudden brakes, resulting in the accident.

Dharamraj's wife Gyanwati and his daughter Renu received head injuries and were taken to the PGI, where their condition is stated to be critical.

Three PCR vehicles were sent to the spot which shifted the injured to the hospital.

Senior police officials visited the spot to take stock of the situation.

A case has been registered at Mani Majra.

Victims were on way to Mansa Devi temple

The victims, members of the auto driver's family and their relatives, were on the way to the Mansa Devi temple.



Insurance claims top consumer complaints
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Denial of insurance claim continued to lead in all categories of complaints filed in the consumer forum during the last financial year (April 2013-March 2014) followed by real estate and banking.

The insurance, housing and banking sectors were responsible for almost 60 per cent of the cases before the Chandigarh consumer courts during the period.

A total of 2,710 cases were filed from April 2013 to March 2014, of which 658 cases were related to wrongful denial of insurance claims, 324 pertained to deficiency in service by banking institutions and 303 complaints were against builders and housing service providers.

“The privatisation of the banking and insurance industry has led to an increase in related disputes, while the real estate boom some years ago and the slump now has contributed to the increase in complaints against builders,” said Pankaj Chandgothia, president of the Consumer Courts Bar Association.

According to officials, insurance has always been the leading sector in consumer disputes. On an average, it constitutes 10 per cent of the total cases. Last year banking accounted for 12 per cent of the cases. Until December 2012, the sector contributed 5 per cent to the total cases.

Similarly, the count of housing disputes rose from 5 per cent to 11 per cent in 2013-14.

The other major categories which saw a high number of cases include medical negligence, airlines and the Railways. Electricity and telephone, meanwhile, saw only nine and two complaints, respectively, last year.

Electricity disputes have been excluded from the purview of the consumer courts by a major amendment to the Electricity Act in the beginning of 2013. A national commission judgment in 2010 excluded the billing complaints of mobiles and telephones. The complaints are being allowed now following a fresh notification.

658 cases in 2013-14

A total of 2,710 cases were filed from April 2013 to March 2014, of which 658 cases were related to wrongful denial of insurance claims, 324 pertained to deficiency in service by banking institutions and 303 complaints were against builders and housing service providers.


Better Chandigarh
Gasping for breath at rehabilitation colonies
The recently held elections to the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat have brought to light the unpopular design and inadequate space in one-room tenements constructed for those evicted from illegal colonies in the city. Beneficiaries find it difficult to accommodate big families in the new flats and say they were better off in illegal colonies. Tribune reporters Deepankar Sharda, Ritika Jha and Aarti Kapur touch some of the burning aspects of the Slum Rehabilitation Scheme and its pros and cons.

Heaps of garbage in front of a rehabilitation colony in Sector 56 in Chandigarh
Heaps of garbage in front of a rehabilitation colony in Sector 56 in Chandigarh. tribune photos: Parvesh Chauhan
Area: Rehabilitation Colony in Sectors 38 (West) and 56
Ajay Dogra, 
a newspaper hawker

As per Ajay Dogra, who was allotted a room in 2003, the problem lies with no space to grow up in proper environment. He lives with his wife, two children and mother in a room. For him, the problem relates to sanitation, cleanliness and water supply. He sleeps on the floor ensuring that others sleep on the bed.

Sharing washroom and kitchen becomes hectic if any relative or neighbour visits his home. According to him, since 2003 nothing has changed but the area had attracted more population.

“Every now and then, water gets accumulated here. To dispose of the garbage, we have to visit the other side of the main road. If this is not enough, water won't reach the third floor in summers. In 2003, a number of people sold their properties and went back to their native villages and other areas on the periphery. I regret why didn't I shifted to some other place. My children are studying. In a few years, they will move to higher classes. It will be difficult for them to study in one room. Every household faces the same problem here,” he said.

With a population of around 20,000 living in around 4,000 houses in Sector 56, the residents are facing the problem of “more members living in less space”.

The houses allotted in 2003 to adjust the rehabilitators of Kamla Colony, Indra Colony and Jawahar Lal Colony in Palsora have left the beneficiaries fuming. With only one room for average family members of five to six, the residents are suffering more to maintain privacy, entertain guests and take care of extended families and their children. The houses are designed under a “block” format with three floors and a ground floor.

There is a similar kind of problem at the one-room tenement houses of Sector 38 (West). The residents complain of sewerage problems and water shortage. Living in a room, with not even a single partition, led the people to come up with illegal constructions.

Premlata, another resident

Premlata said: “We are four people in a room. In a few years, both of my sons would get married. Then the things would get worse. The Housing Board should have at least given us two-room sets. The rooms that we were allotted are already in the worst condition".

Family of Ramgopal and Sukhbir

The family of Ramgopal and Sukhbir has 22 members. Men sleep out in the open, while women sleep inside the room. They have to adjust their belongings, household material and other important things, including some documents, in a limited space.

The problems

* Small room with attached kitchen and washroom

* Improper sanitation

* No cleanliness

* Choked sewerage

* Leaking water pipes

* No parking space

* No garbage bins

* No sensitisation to usage of water and medication

Slum Rehabilitation Scheme

To accommodate slum dwellers, who are being evicted from various illegal colonies under the Small Flat Scheme-2006, the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) has either constructed or is in the process of constructing 25,000 one-room tenements in Sectors 38 (West), Sector 49, Ram Darbar, Dhanas, Mauli Jagran and Maloya. Going by the past experience, when the beneficiaries were allotted vacant plots and given one-storied houses, that led to blatant building violations, the Chandigarh Administration and the Chandigarh Housing Board (CHB) have now standardised box design that allows limited changes in the structure. The Centre has announced to make the city slum-free, but the beneficiaries are crying foul. Though the Ministry of Urban Development has given a green signal to two-room tenements for the leftover slum dwellers, already around 13,000 dwelling units have been constructed and families living there are complaining of inadequate space.


Area: Rehabilitation Colony, Dhanas
Deshraj Singh, 
a retired person
The family of Deshraj Singh in a room at a rehabilitation colony in Dhanas; and a potholed road in Dhanas.
(Top) The family of Deshraj Singh in a room at a rehabilitation colony in Dhanas; and a potholed road in Dhanas. Tribune photos: Manoj Mahajan

For 65-year-old Deshraj Singh’s family, which had shifted from Colony No. 5, staying in a room had become a headache. The family is expanding and inadequate space is giving them nightmares. Davinder Singh (26), younger son of Deshraj, had received a number of marriage proposals after shifting to this concrete rehabilitation colony. Later, these proposals were turned down by girls' families due to the lack of space to accommodate the newly wed couple.

A shabby 10X15ft matchbox-like flat with a tap and a 3X5ft bathroom and a restroom, along with 4.5ft balcony, was allotted to the family with a policy that no amendments could be made in the structure or the house will be cancelled.

Keeping in view the privacy of his elder son Dinesh Singh's family, which comprises a wife and a daughter, Deshraj converted the small room in two parts by constructing a wall. Now, no space has been left for the younger son’s family.

Sharing his experience, Deshraj said his family, which comprised six members, shifted to this colony with the hope that a unique plan, which provides basic facilities to a family, would have been implemented here on which crores of rupees had been spent. But after getting the possession of the houses, they felt cheated as to how inept planning had been done to rehabilitate the residents.

In an another case, Yogita Singh (30), who manages the household works, while showing a single tap at the corner of the room without any slab to place the gas or utensils and a 3X5ft bathroom where a single person could stand, said the modern facilities, which the authorities had promised to provide to the residents in the rehabilitation colony, were all sham.

The grievances

Public parks: Due to the non-availability of space in the houses, the residents use public parks to dry their clothes. Adding to the woes of the residents, the authorities do not bother to maintain the parks regularly in the colony.

Water problem and sewer blockage: Residents complain that they have to boil water before consuming it. In fact, the residents receive the supply of muddy water on a routine, for which complaints have been lodged, but no action has been taken yet. In a few houses, there is a regular problem of sewerage blockage due to which they face inconvenience. Sweepers have to be asked to clean the sewers.

Roof leakage: Residents of the top floor of the colony complained of leaking roofs in the rainy season. Even there is dampness at the walls of washrooms in some blocks of the colony.


Area: Small room tenement in Sector 49
Jagveeri, who runs a family of 14 members, including six children, in a one-room tenement.
Makeshift arrangement (encircled) for children in a room of a rehabilitation colony in Sector 49, Chandigarh; and residents encroach upon balconies.
(Top) Makeshift arrangement (encircled) for children in a room of a rehabilitation colony in Sector 49, Chandigarh; and residents encroach upon balconies. Tribune photos: Parvesh Chauhan

From the smoke of the kitchen to the cries of her grandchildren to find enough space to lie down at night, from the private discussions between her sons and their spouses to lack of ventilation. Jagveeri (50) has been braving these difficulties while running a family of 14, including six children, from a one-room tenement for the past three years. In the name of the distribution of space and privacy, she only has curtains in the room.

While she admits that her three-room makeshift house in the Sector 25 colony was unauthorised, she said the difficulties she faced in the kutcha (makeshift) house during rains or storms seemed lesser as compared to the paucity of space in the Sector 49 colony.

“Hamare ko bola tha ki do kamre milenge. Kagaz pe dastakhat bhi karaya tha. Par jab aaye to ek kamra mila. Itni majboori hai yahan. Agar deewar daalen to do bistar bhi nahi lag payenge” (We were promised two-room houses when we were to be rehabilitated. But we got only one room. We are compelled to manage our household somehow from a room now. We initially thought of putting up a wall to create partition in the room. But even one bed will not fit into the divided areas,” Jagveeri said.

“Our total income is Rs 15,000. My husband and three sons are daily wagers. There have been days when we had to borrow money to pay electricity bills of Rs 10,000. While our consumption remained restricted to a TV, a tube light and a ceiling fan, the bills increased arbitrarily. After several complaints, we were able to get corrections made and our last bill seemed genuine. Hardly any official visits us to record our maintenance issues,” she added.

The problems

Distance: Residents feel that the location of the houses is extremely far from the main city that forces them to travel a lot for any facility. There are no health centres, schools or even small markets in the neighbourhood. Even public transport facilities are not adequate. The bus stop is also far. For buying milk, they need to go a long way everyday.

Violations: The paucity of space inside the tenements, which do not have separate kitchens, has forced a number of families to cover their balconies to covert them into kitchens. They said setting up kitchens inside the living room left a lot of smoke in the room due to poor ventilation.

Maintenance: The residents alleged that inferior quality of material was used in the construction of the houses. They also complained that seepage is a common problem in the houses. The neighbourhood parks and roads lack maintenance. Nobody from the administration ever turned up in the past three years to check the maintenance of the houses despite complaints made by the residents, they said.

Inflated bills: While the residents were content with the regular supply of water and electricity in the houses, they said the electricity bills were unregulated and inflated. One of the families said a bill of Rs 10,000 for two months was slapped on them a number of times, while their consumption remained limited to a television, a ceiling fan and a tube light.



reaching out to mentally ill patients
No help from cops, rues health team
  GMCH-32 team says police need to be sensitised on mentally ill patients
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Even as the crisis intervention team of the Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32, has been able to reach out to a significant number of needy families in the past few months, it still lacks support from the UT police.

Set up by the Department of Psychiatry at the hospital, the team has been treating mentally ill patients from the last seven to eight months.

However, lack of cooperation from the area 
police has affected the team’s functioning and has limited its role.

Medical experts said the police’s perception of mentally ill patients was ‘quite narrow.’ They usually picture a shabbily-dressed person as suffering from a mental disorder.

Patients, who appear ‘normal’ during brief conversation, are not perceived as mentally-ill by the cops.

“We need to educate the police as well as the judiciary about various illnesses and characteristics of mentally-ill patients,” said Dr BS Chavan, Head, Department of Psychiatry, GMCH-32.

Going by a few instances recorded by the crisis intervention team, the police needs to be sensitised about its role as mentioned in the Mental Health Act-1987.

Sample this: The crisis intervention team received a call from a resident of Mani Majra last week. The man sought help claiming that his wife, suffering from a mental disorder, had locked herself along with their two children inside the house and was not willing to open the door. A team of experts reached the spot and called up the local police to help them break open the door. However, the police allegedly withdrew ‘as it did not relate to any criminal act.’

“In a majority of cases, when our team sought help from the police, they either refused or reluctantly visited a few spots. They, however, withdrew themselves terming it an ordinary case due to their inability to identify the patient’s illness,” added Dr Chavan. 



FOSWAC poll: Bittu ends Sanghi’s winning streak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
Bringing the winning streak of PC Sanghi — chairman of the Federation of Sector Welfare Association (FOSWAC) for five consecutive terms — to an end, Baljinder Singh Bittu won the elections for the post of chairman in the FOSWAC elections held here today.

Bittu’s panel also bagged the remaining two posts of the vice chairman and general secretary in the Federation of Sectors Welfare Association of Chandigarh (FOSWAC) elections.

Bittu, a businessman, had contested the FOSWAC elections for the first time. He emerged as the winner by bagging 171 votes, while Sanghi secured only 127 votes. Two votes were declared invalid.

The 324 office-bearers of the 60 Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) affiliated to the association included the voters.

Sanghi, a retired chief engineer, had been the FOSWAC chairman since 2004. However, differences between the RWAs led to his defeat.

JC Verma defeated JS Multani and was elected as the vice-chairman. While Verma got 161 votes, Multani managed to secure only 137 votes. Three votes were declared invalid.

With 153 votes, JS Gogia won the elections for the post of General Secretary. He defeated PS Bajwa, who secured 144 votes. Four votes were declared invalid.

An elated Bittu said, “Our prime agenda will be to ensure development in the city and empowering the RWAs. We will also address other problems plaguing the city with the UT Administration, Municipal Corporation and Chandigarh Housing Board.” 



Visitors throng CII Coolex ’14 expo
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The ongoing CII Coolex 2014 Expo — which entered its third day on Sunday — attracted a large number of visitors from Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and the city. These included residents, hoteliers, industrialists, factory owners, professionals, representatives of large commercial establishments and corporates.

The Tribune-sponsored expo saw people from commercial establishments making full use of the new launches, schemes and discounted prices of the cooling systems.

As per CII officials, a number of companies had displayed gadgets capable of reducing power bills by 25-30 per cent. The expo will conclude on Monday.



Property Consultants Association

Chandigarh, April 20
Rajesh Walia, president, Property Consultants Association (PCA), today announced its executive body by nominating Subhash Sharma as the new chairman. Sunil Kumar will be retained as the general secretary whereas Davinder Kumar will be the new treasurer. 

Rajesh Walia has been recently unanimously elected as the president of PCA, Chandigarh. PCA represents the interest of over 220 property consultants of Chandigarh. — TNS



Anandpur sahib votes 2014
In Mohali, campaigning in top gear
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 20
While polling date for the Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha seat just 10 days away, election fever has gripped the town and its peripheral areas hard.

The candidates for the seat along with their family members and supporters are toiling hard to reach each and every voter. The town and its nearby villages are witnessing political meetings, rallies and door-to-door campaigns these days.

Apparently, there is a close fight between Congress candidate Ambika Soni and Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Professor Prem Singh Chandumajra. Their election campaigns are much intense than those of other candidates.

Chandumajra, for whom the forthcoming election is nothing less than a do or die battle, is canvassing along with his entire family, including his wife, two sons, two daughters-in-law and nephews, and supporters. Even his six-year-old granddaughter is seeking votes for him.

On the other hand, Soni's husband and son are also supporting her election campaign. Mohali and Kharar MLAs Balbir Singh Sidhu and Jagmohan Singh Kang, respectively, are working full throttle to ensure Soni's win.

After paying obeisance at the historical gurdwara in Daun today, Soni held a rally at the village. Later, she met a delegation of Muslim community at her party's office in Industrial Area Phase 1. The delegation is learnt to have extended support to her.

On the other hand, Chandumajra's family members were seen wooing voters in various parts of the town. His son Simranjit Singh held a meeting with office-bearers and members of various market associations here. The SAD candidate's wife Balwinder Kaur along with the president of the SAD's women wing (Urban) Kuldip Kaur Kang held a rally at Balongi village. Balwinder Kaur assured the residents of resolving all the issues pertaining to their village if Chandumajra won.

Meanwhile, Chandumajra held meetings with residents of the town today while his daughter-in-law Kulwant Kaur held door-to-door campaigning in Sector 70 here.

Yesterday, Aam Aadmi Party candidate Himmat Singh Shergill had held a roadshow in the town.

Surprisingly, BSP candidate KS Makhan, a popular Punjabi singer, is yet to begin his election campaign in this area of the Anandpur Sahib parliamentary constituency.

Fact file

* SAD candidate Prem Singh Chandumajra is canvassing along with his entire family, including his wife, two sons, two daughters-in-law and nephews, and supporters. Even his six-year-old granddaughter is seeking votes for him.

* Congress candidate Ambika Soni's husband and son are also supporting her election campaign. Mohali and Kharar MLAs Balbir Singh Sidhu and Jagmohan Singh Kang, respectively, are working full throttle to ensure Soni's win.

* Surprisingly, BSP candidate KS Makhan, a popular Punjabi singer, is yet to begin his election campaign in this area of the Anandpur Sahib parliamentary constituency.



Cancer: Hospital comes up with cashless treatment for poor farmers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, April 20
To provide treatment to poor farmers suffering from cancer without charging any cash, the Gian Sagar Medical College and Hospital, Banur, has introduced a scheme 'Cashless cancer treatment'.

Under the scheme, the patient's family will have to give foodgrains for the value of treatment expenses. The foodgrains received would be either given to poor or used to prepare 'langar' at religious places.

Giving details of the scheme, Dr Barjinder Singh, chairman of the hospital, said the hospital would receive foodgrains instead of cash as treatment expenses and that too, when the patient's family was able to give it. The scheme was introduced to prevent farmers from taking loans on high interest for treatment of the deadly disease, he added.

"The idea of launching the scheme came to my mind when a member of a cancer patient's family enquired about the expenses of cancer treatment so that they could take loan from a private moneylender," said Dr Barjinder Singh.

He added that to avail of the scheme's benefit, the patient's family had to get a written note from the sarpanch of their village. The note should mention the duration of the patient's stay in the village and the character he bears. "After getting the note, the hospital would bear the cost of treatment," said Dr Barjinder Singh.

Besides, the hospital has also launched a health insurance scheme for poor people belonging to rural areas. Under this scheme, the hospital, panchayats and the beneficiary would share the amount of insurance premium. 



Attending Cong leader’s b’day costs Bansal dear

Attending social functions during the elections cost Congress candidate Pawan Kumar Bansal dear as the Election Department added a substantial amount of expense — incurred on the birthday party of a Congress leader — in Bansal’s poll expenditure as he was present at the bash.

No word about policy decisions

The UT’s top brass has been holding to the tradition of keeping policy decision pending till the last moment. A classic case in this direction is UT’s excise policy for the fiscal year 2014-15. With only 10 days left, there is no word about the policy from the UT officials. This is not the lone case. Files regarding public issues keep on shifting from one officer to the other.

Expensive pets

Before you think of buying a dog, make sure that your pockets are loaded with cash. Buying good breed dogs has become an expensive affair nowadays. Recently, a dog breeder had put a price tag of ~2 lakh for a Pitbull pup. The bidding started at ~1.5 lakh for a pup and went up to ~2 lakh. The pups, specially brought from the US, were sold like an exclusive designer label. They were advertised in newspapers and across social networking sites. Though the pups failed to hit the headlines, they did find mention in the classifieds and were sold at higher tag prices.

Slap drama in police presence

The UT Police was once again caught napping in the court. This was evident as a high-voltage drama took place on the day, the quantum of sentence in Khushpreet’s murder case was to be pronounced. It was only after the women relatives of the five-year-old child as well as the accused slapped each other several times that the police swung into action and controlled the situation. More than 100 police personnel were deputed, making the court resemble a heavily-guarded fortress.

6-year-old campaigns for grandfather

Six-year-old Rehat attracts all the attention when she holds a microphone to campaign in support of her grandfather, Prem Singh Chandumajra, the SAD candidate from the Anandpur Sahib constituency. The Class I student of Yadavindra Public School has been participating in the election campaign. Rehat has won many hearts through her innocent gestures. The family is hopeful that Rehat will grow up to be a political leader in future.

Derogatory comments on politicians

The District Administration was left red-faced when some mischievous elements wrote objectionable and anti-state government comments on the display board meant for the administration’s ‘Signature campaign’ to encourage people about exercising their right to vote. The objectionable comments included ‘Badal chor (thief)’, ‘Kejriwal bhagora (absconding)’, ‘Chitte bagule, neele mor, eh vee chor te oh vee chor’ (cranes are white and peacocks are blue, all politicians are thieves). Following this, the administration decided to leave the campaign midway and lifted the board from the Administrative Complex immediately. However, a senior official claimed that the board was lifted as it was full to the brim.

Campaigning for Assembly elections too!

This can be termed as a classic example of killing two birds with one stone. The leaders of different political parties, who canvassed for their party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections, also sought votes for themselves in the ensuing Haryana Assembly elections. The Lok Sabha poll, just a few months ahead of the Assembly elections in Haryana, has injected a dose of energy in both the sitting and the defeated MLAs, willing to contest the Vidhan Sabha elections. Availing funds allocated for the Lok Sabha elections by the political parties, the local leaders have left no stone unturned to seek votes for themselves and the candidates contesting the Parliamentary election. The MLAs — Pradeep Chaudhary (INLD) from Kalka and DK Bansal (Congress) from Panchkula — not only campaigned for the candidates, Dr Kusum Bala Sherwal and Raj Kumar Valmiki, but their wives and even relatives canvassed.

Contributed by: Amit Sharma, Rajmeet Singh, Mehakdeep Grewal, Aneesha Sareen, Akash Ghai and Bipin Bhardwaj



Election staff should facilitate, not restrain voters
Lack of clarity among the election staff regarding the documents that a voter is supposed to carry to the polling booth deterred some voters from exercising their franchise. Chandigarh Tribune asked its readers how the system can be improved to avoid inconvenience to the voters in the city in future

Voters stand in queues to exercise their franchise during the Lok Sabha elections at Maloya Colony
Voters stand in queues to exercise their franchise during the Lok Sabha elections at Maloya Colony. A file photo

We should appreciate the efforts of both the media and the Election Commission in conducting the recent polls. To ensure active the participation of all, many alternatives were suggested and successfully implemented as well. But unfortunately, many voters were unable to cast their votes due to lack of documents. The election staff is not entirely at fault. The voters should have prepared their documents in advance. The guidelines were very much clear and communicated well in advance to all the residents. If the election staff has hindered the casting of votes at some booths then the feedback needs to be sent to the authorities. The authorities can then trace the root cause of the problem and ensure that such incidents do not happen again. The polling staff should also be empowered to take decision on a case-to-case basis to facilitate voting. With the IT technology and mobile communication, the polling staff can seek clarification/guidance from their seniors.

Dharam Pal Wason, Chandigarh

Impart training to the polling staff

A huge voters’ turnout was witnessed this time, thanks to the power of the media. But the lack of clarity among the officials at the polling booths regarding the documents that a voter is required to carry created chaos at the polling booths. As a result, a number of voters had to face harassment and some could not even cast their votes. I think the staff deployed at the polling booths should be imparted proper training so as to prepare them to face any situation. They should also be handed over informative circulars during the training session. The polling personnel should coordinate with the Election Department and tackle the problems collectively.

Dr Shruti K Chawla, Chandigarh

UT Election Department deserves appreciation

The UT Election Department deserves applause for conducting high-tech polling process and taking pro-voter initiatives. This has not only motivated the city residents but also motivated them, especially the youth, to exercise their franchise. Traders, industrialists, youngsters, social organisations and the media have encouraged all to cast their votes. Even the senior citizens, were provided free-of-cost pick and drop facility and provided wheelchairs to cast their valuable vote. Even a helpline number was launched to help the voters. SMS facility and other measures also proved a boon for voters in the region. Besides, NSS volunteers were also deputed at all the polling stations to assist the voters. Even after putting in so many efforts, the department failed to plug a few loopholes. The department should have not allowed political parties to pitch tents near the polling booths, as the voter slips were already provided to all the eligible voters at their doorsteps. The department should have also exercised a strict vigil to check frequent distribution of liquor, drugs and money among the public. The Tribune had very rightly highlighted the issue of frequent distribution of liquor on April 9. Besides, the political parties had also flooded the colonies and villages with ‘election gifts’ which comprised matchboxes containing Rs 1,000 each to woo the voters. Feasibility of mobile ballot boxes remains to be explored.

SK Khosla, Chandigarh

Reward system should be adopted

In a country such as India, minor discrepancies and errors are bound to happen during the Lok Sabha elections. But it is a matter of concern if a voter fails to cast his or her vote due to lack of information. There are 6,13,939 voters in Chandigarh and 519 polling booths were set up to facilitate the process. The Election Department had provided rigorous pre-poll training to thousands of polling officers, presiding officers and other concerned staff for the smooth conduct of elections. However, due to the alleged ignorance of the polling staff, some voters could not exercise their franchise. The Election Department definitely deserves kudos for the successful completion of the electoral process in Chandigarh. But voters, particularly in colonies and villages, should be educated so that not a single person is deprived of his or her right to vote. Though pre-poll training is provided to the staff, the learning skills of officials should be checked after the training is over. Best polling officers should be rewarded to encourage other polling staff to perform well.

Ravinder Nath, Chandigarh

Unemployed should be deployed at polling booths

A majority of the government employees are not willing to perform election duty, which eventually affects the polling work. I think deploying unemployed/needy youth by giving them some extra remuneration and requisite training can help in the smooth flow of the whole process. Also, the instructions to be followed by the staff members should be made available in writing. Upgrading the current system to an online system will help garner more votes. If implemented successfully, this would not only reduce the expenditure but also the manpower required by the Election Commission.

Kohima Goyal, Chandigarh

A voter must do his homework

Usually before conducting any general or assembly elections, four rounds of mandatory training are imparted to the staff. The presiding officers are given statute books to get acquainted with the procedure. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to believe that the election staff was not clear about the documents that a voter was supposed to carry to the polling booth. Also, advertisements on television and newspapers had been spreading awareness among the voters about the documents required and agents of the contesting candidates had also visited houses to apprise the voters of the process personally. Despite all the efforts, if voters faced difficulties, then it is plainly unfortunate. It could either be ascribed to the ignorance of the voters or the polling officers were not serious during their training session. I believe it has become a common practice to criticise the government for virtually everything. A voter must do his homework before exercising his/her franchise and the government can conduct awareness camps at booth-level to avoid any future inconvenience to the public.

Dr Gurdev Singh, Mohali

Update voters’ list

It is unfortunate that a voter has to face harassment and is often not allowed to vote due to lack of information. The Election Commission needs to take some measures so as to ensure that no voter is denied the right to vote. First, the commission must ensure that the voter slip is handed over to the voter in his house in advance. Secondly, voter s’list must be updated on a regular basis. Lastly, a new voter, whose voter card has not been made due to some reason, should be allowed to vote as per the latest orders of the Supreme Court, provided he/she fills the voter form in the polling booth, along with the proof of residence, date of birth certificate and two passport sized photographs. These instructions must be advertised clearly before the elections.

Colonel RD Singh (retd), Ambala Cantt

Staff should be educated

Efforts put in by the Election Department and the media during the Lok Sabha elections deserve acclaim. Due to the collective efforts, the city witnessed the highest ever polling percentage this time. It is, however, unfortunate that a number of voters were not able to cast their vote due to lack of clarity among the election staff. The Election Department should educate the staff to avoid such incidents in future. The Election Department must also launch an awareness campaign to encourage more residents to exercise their franchise. Active participation of all the media, government, MCs, village panchayats, schools and colleges can also help in improving the present polling system.

Vidya Sagar Garg, Panchkula

Set up booths in villages to tackle heavy turnout

Upgrading of the system by the Election Department has minimised the extent of harassment faced by the voters. Issuance of slips with photographs and verifying the list on a computer has made the voting process smooth and transparent. The authority must, however, set up polling booths in villages and colonies in future to handle the rush. The department must also reduce the tenure of election process in the country.

Sukhpal Singh, Chandigarh

Info must be printed in both Hindi, Punjabi

The Election Department should print information in both Hindi and Punjabi languages on the back side of the voters’ slip. It will serve as a guide-book for the voters and ensure the smooth flow of the entire process.

Varun Arora, Chandigarh

Staff must know intricate details

The election staff is requisitioned from various government departments for poll duties and is given intensive training before the election date so as to conduct the polls fairly. A supervisory staff is also deployed for overseeing the entire progress. In addition, polling agents of various political parties are also present to keep a watch on the conduct of polls. Generally, a slip is issued in advance on the basis of which the casting of ballots is facilitated. A voter is supposed to carry the slip and a voter identity card, issued by the Election Commission of India, to establish the genuineness of the voter. To ensure that polling is done harmoniously with the active participation of the electorate, the trained staff should be well acquainted with the intricate details of the whole process.

Gurmit Singh Saini, Mohali

Token system should be followed

Approximately three-fourth of the registered voters of the City Beautiful exercised their right to vote on April 10. The awareness campaign by the Chandigarh Administration was a good attempt but it could have been better. A few more awareness tips could have done the magic. The Administration, along with the help of the Election Department, should have informed the people through print, electronic and other mediums about the documents to be carried along while exercising their right to vote. While distributing the electoral slips, the Election Department could have also informed voters about the documents they should carry on the day of voting. Furthermore, a token system should be adopted so as to avoid inconvenience to voters standing in long queues.

Wg Cdr Jasbir Singh Minhas (retd), Mohali

Voter awareness should be updated

Our endeavour should be towards achieving 100 per cent voting. Achieving 73.86 per cent turnout is not an achievement. We must strive for 100 per cent voting. Lack of clarity among the polling staff on duty about documents that were supposed to be carried to the polling booth may be a reason for debacle but evasiveness among voters is also a matter of concern. There are people who avail the holiday announced for polling and want to enjoy citizenship rights but view voting wih low esteem. According to certain dailies, there are various Indian septugenarians and octogenarians who have never voted till date. Despite being criticised, India has a channelised franchise mechanism, appreciated by foreign nations. To improve the system, training of the polling staff should be made more specific to make them broadminded, courteous and informative. Voter awareness and facilitation should be updated. The constitutional rights of the habitual franchise evaders should also be curtailed.

MPS Chadha, Mohali

Name must be mentioned in voters’ list

There should be no doubt about carrying the documents to the polling booths. A voter must know that it can be either a voter card or some other identity card. It is the responsibility of the voter to do his homework. He must get the required documents to the polling booth to exercise his right to vote. However, the department must ensure that the name of the voter is mentioned in the voters’ list. The names of the candidates should be displayed outside every booth, in the same serial order as in the EVM, so as to help the voter trace the name of the candidate for whom he wishes to vote. The practice was followed earlier and saves time effectively.

IPS Anand, Chandigarh

Staff, voters both need to be educated

Proper training should be given to the election staff. The voters should also be educated and informed about the required documents, needed to exercise their franchise. The best way would be to instruct people through the media, both electronic and print. People who are not very educated should be educated through loud-speaker vans. If these simple methods are followed, the election process will definitely become hassle-free for both the election staff and the voters.

Priya Darsh Growar, Mohali


open house question

What measures should the Chandigarh Administration take in order to provide adequate space and facilities to slum-dwellers in slum rehabilitation colonies? The beneficiaries are complaining that it is almost impossible to accommodate big families in one-room. They say they were better off in illegal colonies as compared to their new abode. What needs to be done to check violations in these colonies? Write your comments along with passport size pictures to openhouse@tribunemail.com



Rajiv Gandhi institute entrance on May 4
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The entrance examinations for the postgraduate courses, being offered at the newly-opened Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development (RGNIYD), Sector 12, will be held on May 4.

The institute that replaced Commonwealth Youth Programme, Sector 12, announced the series of postgraduate programmes available from this session onwards for the interested students.

Students can enroll themselves in courses including MA youth empowerment, MA career counseling, MA gender studies, MA local governance, MA life skills education, MA development practice, PhD (interdisciplinary specialising in youth work).

The regional director, Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Chandigarh, JS Kunoor, said after the entrance examinations of the newly-introduced courses, the session will commence from July 1.

For more information, applicants can log on at www.rgniyd.gov.in.



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