C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


Power scenario dismal in city
Delayed upgrading, no regular checks result in frequent power cuts
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
Though the City Beautiful is the first planned city of the country yet when it comes to the power supply infrastructure, it is wanting in it.

There are one 220 KV power sub-station, 12, 66 KV power sub-station and five 33 KV power sub-station in the city, but since there is no regular checking and upgrading of the sub-stations, the residents continue to reel under power cuts. The only 220 KV power sub-station in Kishangarh, which was commissioned in year 2002, was upgraded only last year.

Similarly, 66 KV power sub-station in Sectors 12, IT Park and Sector 39, which were commissioned in 2001-2002, were only upgraded in 2013 after a gap of 11 years. The other 66 KV power sub-stations were not upgraded since 2001.

Sources revealed that the UT Electricity Department only repaired the power sub -station when there was a breakdown. Otherwise, they did not carry inspection of the sub-stations.

The situation can be gauged from the fact that 33 KV sub-station of Sector 34, where upgrading exercise was started three years ago is yet to be completed. With the delay in upgrading, residents of southern sectors are facing regular power cuts.

Though the per capita consumption of electricity in the UT, Chandigarh, has increased from 253 Kwh in 1967-68 to 1068 Kwh in 2012-13, against the national figure of 700 Kwh, but still the UT Electricity Department fails to start projects such as introduction of the management integrated system and the geographic information system, among other initiatives, to improve the working of the power sector in the city. The Administration has failed to start these projects so far.

The UT Administration gets 220 MW of power from different sources — 47 per cent from Mohali (PSPCL), 5 per cent from Dhulkote (BBMB) and the remaining 48 per cent from Nalagarh. Nearly 30 MW is channelled through Jammu and Kashmir as per a bilateral agreement. The remaining power is purchased by the Administration from the power exchange, depending on its daily requirement. The power comes first to 220 KV power sub-station at Kishangarh and Mohali. Thereafter, it is passed to the 66 KV sub-station then further to 66 KV, 11 KV sub-station, transformers, and ultimately to residents’ houses.

Power connections in 1987 were 1,12,000 and the staff posted to manage the work was 1,780, but now with the power connections crossing 2 lakh there are only 1,100 staf to manage them. Even at the electricity complaint centres, one person is catering three to four calls. The same person also writes the complaints.

No dedicated helpline for power complaints
The Administration does not have a dedicated round-the-clock helpline for power complaints. At present, helpline number 0172-4639999 caters to power complaints as well as those pertaining to the monkey menace, animal bite and snakebite cases, burning of dry leaves and electrical complaints in government houses. At the 14 complaint centres set up by the UT Electricity Department, the staff hardly pick up the phone.

Employees use simple torch to locate fault during night hours
In a well-planned city like Chandigarh, employees of the Electricity Department still locate fault in power supply lines, which run in kilometers, with the help of a simple torch.

Ground reality check by Chandigarh Tribune reveals that a simple torch is the only tool, which helps the staff to locate fault in 54-km 220 KV lines, 103-km 66 KV line, 28-km 33 KV line, 860-km of 11 KV lines and 1,234 km of LT lines. Only when the employees located power in these supply lines, was boom ladder sent to repair the faults. It took hours to locate a minor fault in the lines.

No fault-locating machine
The department had bought fault-finding equipment in 1996 to detect fault in underground cables. As the machine had outlived its life span of 10 years in 2006, it has developed snags and has not been working properly. The machine is now kept in stores in Sector 26. The department has failed to purchase new equipment.

Staff usually give common excuses to residents
In case of power cuts, when residents call up on the special helpline numbers and at the 14 complaint centres, the staff posted there give common excuses to the residents. Fault in feeder to problem in the area transformer are some of the excuses given by the electricity staff to every caller.



Mohali, Ropar youths stranded in Iraq
Officials claim they are safe
Akash Ghai & Bipin Bhardwaj
Tribune News Service

Mohali /Dera Bassi, June 22
The hopes of 14 youths from this part of Punjab of earning a livelihood in Iraq and helping their family lead a decent life has been dashed to the ground with the country caught in turmoil.

Almost all the youths belong to poor families from Mohali, Fatehgarh Sahib and Roopnagar districts of Punjab. They are stranded in different parts of Iraq.

Thought the district administration claims that those stranded in Iraq are safe, their families are worried about the safety of their bread-winners.

“All of them are safe. We are in touch with them,” said Puneet Goel, acting Deputy Commissioner of Mohali, while speaking to The Tribune this afternoon.

Among those stranded, five—- Surmukh Singh and his brother Jasvir Singh, their relatives Mann Singh, Baljit Singh and Kuldip Singh— are from one family.

Surmukh Singh, Jasvir Singh and Mann Singh are residents of village Sidhupur Kalan (Fatehgarh Sahib) while Kuldip Singh is a resident of village Andhrera (Roopnagar). Baljit Singh is from village Jassara in Roopnagar. All of them are at Aalamjir Nariya Road in Iraq.

The others who are stranded include Manpreet Singh (Mohali), who is stranded at Kharbal (Iraq) and Satnam Singh (village Amrali, Roopnagar), who is stranded at Aalamjir Nariya Road in Iraq.

Sanjiv Kumar, SDM, Dera Bassi, said that five youths – Balwinder Singh, Sanju, Satnam Singh, Gurdhyan Singh and Vijay- who hail from the sub-division, are also stranded in Iraq.

While Balwinder Singh, Sanju and Satnam Singh, all residents of Dappar village and Gurdhyan Singh of Ber Majra village, are trapped in Baghdad, Vijay is in Basra, the SDM revealed.

The youths went to Iraq almost a year back to earn their livelihood.

Darshan Kaur, mother of Balwinder Singh, a resident of Dappar, claimed to have had a conversation with her son last evening.

Darshan Kaur said, “Balwinder is safe but I want him back as he is the only earning member of the family after the death of his father. Though I sent him to Iraq after arranging a loan on interest, I still want him back home safe.”

Puran Bahadur, father of Vijay, who is trapped in Basra, said the government should try to bring his son back.

“Human life is precious and he will look for some work here if he comes back,” said Bahadur. Family members of the other youths were worried but hope that normalcy would return soon.

Goel said that the senior officials of the district besides the SDM, Mohali, Lakhmir Singh and Chief Parliamentary Secretary NK Sharma, had visited the families of those trapped in Iraq and assured them of their safe return.

Meanwhile, the district administration has sent a report to the Chief Secretary after visiting the affected families.



building collapse- in sector 17
Insurance cover of firemen to be discussed in MC meet
Amit Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
Taking note of the long-pending demand of firemen for providing them insurance cover after two firemen lost their lives following a building collapse while they were dousing fire at the National Institute of Electronics and Information Technology (NIELIT) building in Sector 17, the Municipal Corporation (MC) will finally discuss the issue during the General House meeting. The MC has proposed an insurance cover of Rs 20 lakh in case of death while fighting fire and Rs 10 lakh in case of 75 per cent disability.

Earlier, in 2010, the MC General House had passed a resolution to provide insurance facility to the operational staff of the Fire and Emergency Services and it was decided that in case of death or 100 per cent disability a firefighter would get Rs 7.5 lakh. The tenders to invite bids from the insurance companies were also advertised. The matter did not reach its finality as there was only one insurance company that applied for the tender. The medical claim facility and the life insurance facility were clubbed together in the same tender notice, while the MC was already providing reimbursement of charges on treatment of indoor medicines.

Now, after the June 8 fiasco that claimed two lives, the MC has again mooted a proposal for the insurance cover for the operational staff of the Fire And Emergency Department, on the demand of firefighters.

It has been proposed that the insurance would cover the operational staff of the fire Department and any outstation official who come to the aid during the fire and emergency operations.

Other proposals related to firefighters
Their grade should be equal to clerical staff of the Chandigarh Administration.
Firefighters should be given full pay pension as post death benefit.
Arrangement for adequate safety equipment and regular in-house training.
There should be provision for compassionate appointment in Fire Department in case of death on duty.

Insurance cover
In case of death - Rs 20 lakh
75 % disability - Rs 10 lakh
50 % to 75 % disability – Rs 7.5 lakh
20 % to 50 % disability – Rs 5 lakh


Better Chandigarh
Filth, chaos bring down footfall, revenue at Grain Market
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

With sanitation being a casualty and visitors finding it difficult to park their vehicles or even walk around, the biggest revenue generator and the largest supplier of grains, vegetables and fruits, the Grain Market in Sector 26 of the city is on the verge of collapse. Chandigarh Tribune gives an insight

Vegetable and fruit waste lie in the middle of the road.
Vegetable and fruit waste lie in the middle of the road. Tribune photos: Pradeep Tewari

Chandigarh, June 22
Even as the City Beautiful is known for its well-planned infrastructure, cleanliness and high aesthetic values, the UT Administration’s apathy towards the upkeep of the Sector 26 Grain Market has been bringing shame to residents as well as traders.

Spread over 12 acres, the Grain Market not only feeds the entire city but also contributes 75 per cent to the total annual revenue generated for the UT Administration.

However, unchecked encroachments by hundreds of vendors on the space meant for parking of vehicles of visitors, inadequate cleanliness drives and unavailability of toilet and drinking water facilities brought down the footfall and resultantly, the trade by 50 per cent in the past five years.

There is a plan to shift the grain market to Sector 39 so as to make space available for vegetable and fruit business. However, the plan has not been implemented so far. On the direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court a year ago, the UT Administration decided to allot shops in the to-be-developed wholesale market in Sector 39 through an open auction. The Deputy Commissioner, Chandigarh, with the assistance of the Chief Architect and the Chief Engineer, were asked to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the new wholesale market in a time-bound manner.

The reason of neglect is that the market is nobody’s baby. At present, the Grain Market is governed by three different bodies, namely the Market Committee, the Municipal Corporation (MC) and the Estate Office. This has only given way to confusion of roles and led to negligible development and maintenance in the area.

What ails city’s largest vegetable market

Encroachments galore

More than 250 vendors have encroached upon the streets as well as parking lots inside the grain market messing up the well-planned market area. The number of encroachers who put up temporary stalls and sheds in front of nearly all the big shops increases by the evening. This adds to the hindrance in the movement of vehicles in the market. Vendors selling fruits, vegetables, grains, snacks and household goods block a major portion in front of the shops leaving a minimum space for visitors to move around.

 Traffic chaos in the parking area of the market.
Traffic chaos in the parking area of the market. Tribune photo: Parvesh Chauhan

Parking pangs

While some of the parking lots have contractors, who charge fee for the facility, none of them bothers to check whether there is sufficient and safe space available for parking of vehicles. The ordeal doubles for visitors during rains as all the parking lots get inundated leaving hardly any space to step out and go up to the market. Moving from one end of the market to the other in vehicles becomes almost impossible, especially in the peak hours (evening and early morning).

Water, toilets missing

The water tanks put up at various points in the market never work. There are hardly any toilets or urinals available. Women are the worst affected due to this. But the Administration has hardly spared a thought to the problem let alone taking steps in this direction. There is only one freezer available for storing water in the entire market.

Reason for neglect

Different units of the Grain Market, including vegetable, fruits and grain, are governed by three different bodies. The powers are distributed between the Estate Office, the Municipal Corporation (MC) and the Market Committee, Sector 26.

Traders say the situation has worsened over the last three to four years ever since changes were made in the Administration.

While the Market Committee cites inadequate powers to check encroachments and ensure sanitation, the MC and the Estate Office are busy shifting blames.

Number of visitors plummets by 75 pc

According to the traders, the number of persons visiting the grain market per day has come down from 8,000-10,000 five years ago, to 2,000-3,000 these days.

They say that a number of stores and malls have come up in the city that provides vegetables and fruits at reasonable prices. The problem of parking and the shabby condition of the market has deterred many residents from visiting the place. They do not mind shelling out slightly more at other stores to save time and energy in finding a parking space and also conveniently picking fruits and vegetables, the traders add.

As per the Grain Market Association, the less footfall has reduced the sales by about 50 per cent. This has not only been bringing down the economic growth of the city but also affecting the businessmen here.

Solution to problems not implemented

The solution to the problems at the Grain Market lies in shifting of the wheat and paddy auctioneers to another place. This has been told to the Administration by the court but the latter has not taken action in this regard.

It is worth mentioning that following a petition filed by one of the traders, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Market Committee and the UT Administration to shift the Grain Market to Sector 39 to carry out auctioning of paddy and wheat while leaving more space for vegetable and fruit shops in the Sector 26 market.

However, till date, no measures have been taken in this direction thereby adding to the delay in acceptance of other demands of maintenance raised by the Grain Market Association.

The shifting of auctionable items to Sector 39 will bring the control of remaining market under the Municipal Corporation. But the matter is pending.



Two community centres to get facelift
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
Residents of Sectors 18 and 19 have something to cheer about as the Municipal Corporation is all set to give community centres in both the sectors a facelift. It was a long-pending demand of the residents of these sectors.

The community centres that earlier had just a single hall with a capacity to cater to only 50 people are going to be redesigned and extended. They will later cater to a gathering of around 300 people. Keeping in view the huge gathering at the community centres, bigger washrooms have also been planned.

Area councillor Mukesh Bassi said apart from a hall, there would be a kitchen and a pantry to provide sufficient space for cooking at these community centres.

“Both community centres are being developed on the same pattern at a cost of around Rs 1.80 crore each,” he said.

First floors of the community centres will also have a separate room for bride and groom for wedding functions.

“Larger rooms will ensure that the goods which family members carry during wedding functions can be stored safely,” Bassi said.

There would be another hall on the first floor, which will be utilised for extra-curricular activities.

“The hall will be utilised for setting up a gym and other recreational activities for members of the community centres,” the councillor said.

The facility of library will also be extended in both community centres, which are expected to be ready by the end of 2015.



Councillor for auditing of water in Chandigarh
Proposal to be tabled before General House of the MC for discussion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
With an aim to bridge the gap between the demand and supply of water, the Municipal Corporation (MC) is going to have a discussion on water auditing to avoid wastage of water and monitor the supply in a uniform and time-bound manner.

While the city receives 87 MGD of water, the demand goes up to 116 MGD during peak summers.

The proposal mooted by SAD councillor Harjinder Kaur mentions that to meet the shortage of water and to overcome the problem of low water pressure, especially during summers, the MC generally thinks of augmenting the water supply, whereas the need of the hour is to do the audit of water supply distribution system.

The councillor believes that the water audit will lead to reduction in water consumption and further save water.

The objectives of the study mentioned by the councillor include identification of usage patterns and water leakage points in the distribution system, identification of sectors/sub-sectors having low water pressure, identification of scope for minimisation of water consumption and possible measures for minimisation, recycling and reuse of water.

The proposal would be tabled before the General House of the MC for discussion during its meeting scheduled on June 25.



Expect rain throughout week: Met
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
As early morning showers brought relief from scorching heat on Sunday, city residents have much more to cheer about. The weatherman has predicted the possibility of rain throughout the week (June 23 to June 28) and a significant dip in temperature.

The city recorded 2.4 mm rainfall today morning, bringing a pleasant change in the weather. The maximum temperature recorded today was 35.4 degree Celsius (2 degrees below normal), while the minimum temperature was 25 degree Celsius. The residents can step out in the afternoon as well as the mercury is not likely to rise beyond 38 degree Celsius during the week. Officials of the Chandigarh Met Department said the pre-monsoon showers would hit the city this week, providing relief to residents from the sweltering heat.



Death in road accident
Day on, police yet to register case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
Even a day after the road accident that claimed the life of Aditya Singla, the Chandigarh Police are yet to register a case in this regard. The accident took place during the wee hours on June 21.

Initially, the police had claimed that Sawanpreet Singh of Sector 34, to whom Honda Accord belongs, was on the driving seat and his blood samples were also taken. On Sunday, the police claimed that the driver might be Varinderjeet Singh or Rishab because Sawanpreet was sitting on the rear seat. Police said they were verifying the statements of the injured youths.

The kin of deceased, Aditya Singla, have also not lodged any police complaint against anyone till now.

The youths met with an accident after the car went out of control after the left-side front tyre of the car busted. The accident took place at around 1.30 am between Hira Singh Chowk and AP Chowk when the youths were driving from the lake towards Madhya Marg.



Panchkula wall collapse
Fourth victim dies
Nobody was there to take care of Sabana at the PGIMER
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 22
The fourth victim in the wall collapse incident in Sector 11 here recently succumbed to her injuries at the PGI, Chandigarh, this morning. The victim, identified as Sabana (10), was the eldest of the three siblings. She has already lost her parents and four-year-old sister Chandni.

“Sabana suffered deep head injury and was on ventilator support. She died of neurotrauma,” said doctors at the PGI.

The post-mortem would be conducted at the PGI, Chandigarh, on Monday.

For the past three days, there was no one at the PGI to take care of Sabana. The police post of Sector 10, Panchkula, also got a call from the PGI authorities stating that no one was there to bring medicines and other items for the victim.

On the first day of the incident, officials of the Panchkula Administration were at the PGI to help the victims. Later, they did not turn up, bringing the insensitivity of the administration to the fore.

Though the administration claimed to bear the expenses of the treatment, no one was seen after the incident.

Nine-month-old Diljan, who was also referred to the PGI on the day of the incident, was discharged after two days. He was taken by his aunt to Baltana. Meanwhile, people are still living in shanties where the wall collapsed. Another boundary wall is also tilting towards the side of the shanties.

How it happened
On Wednesday, a boundary wall of a showroom collapsed and three persons were buried alive. The victims, Mohammad Rizvaan, his wife, Khushbooda, and daughter, Chandni, died on the night of the incident. They were sleeping in a shanty just next to the wall. After the incident, the police booked the firm running the showroom under Section 304 of the IPC



Good response to drug helpline sends cops into a tizzy
Akash Ghai
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 22
The Mohali police have started facing a peculiar problem after receiving an overwhelming response on the recently launched helpline to deal with drug-related cases.

They are not only getting calls from other states, but foreign countries as well.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mohali Senior Superintendent of Police Inder Mohan Singh Bhatti said they have got calls from Australia, Dubai, England, France and Italy.

“Not only this, we have been getting calls from states, including Uttarakhand, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh,” said SSP Bhatti.

He said most of the callers wanted to know how the police would help them in shedding drugs.

“Then they start asking questions which can be best answered by medical experts only,” he said.

He said the police have been getting at least 30 calls on a daily basis ever since the helpline (8146012345) was launched on June 18.

SSP Bhatti said the main objective of starting the helpline was to facilitate people in the district. “The people can give information of drug peddlers or drug menace in their area on the helpline without revealing their names. But now we are finding it difficult to deal these calls which are coming from distant places,” he said. He said the police would make efforts to contact the callers from outside as well.

He said the police was trying to convey the message that the helpline was meant for the residents of Mohali district only.



Assembly elections
Yogendra Yadav seeks AAP workers’ opinion
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 22
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Yogendra Yadav was in Panchkula to do some groundwork for the upcoming Vidhan Sabha elections, wherein he sought opinion from workers whether the party should contest further elections or not.

Yadav, at his Sector-7 office, also took feedback from workers on the party’s failure in the Lok Sabha elections.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Yadav said: “We have conducted a survey in 15 districts so far and are taking feedback from workers whether we should contest the elections or not and if yes then on how many seats. We can’t reveal how the response has been so far as this might affect the response in other districts.”

Regarding Gopal Kanda and Vinod Sharma floating new parties, Yadav said: “These parties are meant for buying and selling of political people and then adjusting them in other parties. They are not there to contest elections.”

On party’s defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, Yadav said: “We are a new party and it takes time to settle. We had new candidates, which is why we lost. I believe the feedback will help us in fighting in elections in future.”

Yadav said Haryana was suffering due to inflation. On non-removal of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, he said: “A senior Congressman is bound to keep the Haryana CM for reasons best known to him. Even otherwise, what will a new CM do in two months?”

Anand Prakash, a senior AAP worker and a crusader who fought against former Haryana Director General of Police SPS Rathore, said: “We have told the leader that we are ready for the elections and we want AAP to come as it is for the commoners.”



Play ‘Mungu Comrade’ leaves audience spellbound
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
Manchan Arts and Research Center presented a dramatic recital of Mungu Comrade at Punjab Kala Bhawan here today.

The play written by Atamjit and Sangeeta Gupta celebrates the life and struggle of Makhan Singh (1913-1973), a relatively unknown hero who saw 17 years of imprisonment for the cause of Kenyan and Indian freedom.

Makhan Singh’s famous quote “Complete independence and sovereignty of the East African territories – Uhuru Sasa!” echoed in all corners of the auditorium and elevated the atmosphere.

Play-writer Atamjit paid tributes to the comrade with his play written in both Punjabi and English.

The audience was moved as the historic episode was recreated on the stage.



Open House response
Raging inferno: Shun gaffes, focus on lessons learnt

The recent fire tragedy at Sector 17, which claimed two lives, has raised several questions about the efficiency of the city's disaster management plan. Chandigarh Tribune asked its readers about what needs to be done to improve the disaster management machinery

It is not for the first time that two firefighters sacrificed their lives while dousing a major fire. On several earlier occasions as well, firefighters laid down their lives while in action, but the authorities remained in deep slumber. They visit the affected areas, express condolences, constitute a committee and wait for another disaster to happen. Despite recommendations by several committees, the MC Fire Department pushed the ill-prepared and ill-equipped men to douse the fire, putting their lives at risk. If the buck is to stop at the top, it is worth a mention that the MC does not even have a permanent chief fire officer for a decade now, who is supposed to guide, direct and advise during such crucial times. Even the allocated budget remained unspent owing to the inefficiency of the department.

SK Khosla

Disaster management force is need of the hour

In the wake of the recently-collapsed building in Sector 17, it seems the buildings in the city are crying for attention. The accident is not less than an eye opener for the authorities and they must learn a few lessons in disaster management. Most of the buildings in Chandigarh are more than 50 years old and have been rendered unsafe for habitation and need to be repaired on an urgent basis. Most of the old government buildings have leaking roofs, rusted pipelines, worn off walls and falling pillars. As far as disaster management is concerned, the recent tragic incidents show the ill-preparedness of the civic authority of the City Beautiful. Disasters can either be manmade or a natural calamity, but in the absence of any preparation it can prove fatal for city residents. A disaster management force is the need of the hour, which will act swiftly in the case of an emergency, providing safety and shelter with implementation of proper evacuation plans. The authorities must ensure that the disaster management cells are well equipped with first-aid kits, disaster supplies, food, medicine, blankets, flashlights, candles and adequate funds for proper management. In fact, the Central Government should give its consent to major projects such as NDMA (National Disaster Mitigation Fund) which never took off in real terms due to the lack of trained manpower, training facilities, infrastructure and equipment.

BM Dhawan

Electrical fitments should be checked periodically

Electrical fitments of buildings and flammable material, if any, should be periodically checked by electrical engineers and the Fire Department. If fire is controlled in the initial stages, one can prevent the management from incurring huge losses. I suggest buildings/departments should have their trained fire-fighting teams and equipment. Coordination is a must within the sectors to control fire from spreading further.

Col BS Mathauda (retd)

Ensure fire safety

The recent outbreak of fire in the Regional Computer Centre in Sector 17 of Chandigarh is not the first of its kind. Such incidents have become a regular feature in the city and call for adequate fire safety arrangements. Many markets in the city in Sectors 41, 22, 19, 18 and 15 are the riskiest spots with illegal circuits, kundi connections, bifurcated power, congested corridors and no emergency exit. Stern action must be taken against the violators and a regular check should be kept on them. The building bylaws must include installment of fire extinguishing equipment and anybody found violating the law must be penalised. The authorities should also ensure swift action in case any unfortunate incident occurs even with the availability of fire extinguishing equipment, adequate staff and proper coordination. The Fire Department has been found shockingly lacking in terms of equipment and the senior officials must be held accountable for the same.

Dr Shruti K Chawla

Remove encroachments

Encroachments are a big hurdle/problem for the disaster management machinery especially the Fire Department in Chandigarh. It is time to learn lessons from major fire incidents in the past in which the Fire Department staff had to struggle through a maze of encroachments to reach the spot to save precious lives and property. Encroachment is an unlimited greed to own something that does not belong to that very individual. There is an urgent need to plug the loopholes in the system of removing encroachments as nothing is more important than human life.

Varun Arora

Revamp fire safety norms

The raging inferno that cut short two precious lives in Sector 17, recently, has virtually exposed visible chinks in the level of disaster management preparedness. Not a single day passes without a surfeit of such incidents. Much brouhaha has been generated about the ever-burgeoning fire-related incidents and putting in place a solid mechanism to check recurrence. But nothing has been delivered on the ground so far. To pre-empt such incidents, the department concerned must go for a revamp of the disaster management mechanism. A specialised training must be imparted to the staff concerned on fire-fighting measures and the latest breakthroughs. The old and decrepit buildings must be kept under the experts’ watch and those violating fire-safety norms must be taken to task. A review study on the level of disaster management preparedness must be done from time to time. Social media can also be roped in to spread general awareness about the fire-safety measures.

Ramesh K Dhiman

Excellent planners but poor executors

The spectrum of disaster management is wide ranging, varying from local incidents like NIELIT building inferno to earthquakes. Each disaster requires different level of preparedness and management. Why did the firemen did not have fire suits, smoke masks and functioning breathing apparatus is only due to the laxity of the fire brigade officials which they must explain. We Indians are excellent planners but poor executors because of our casual approach and lack of sincerity of purpose. Personal interests overcome the interest of the society and the nation. The Electricity Department must explain why the streetlights were not operational in the affected area and adjoining Madhya Marg. The owners of the buildings and the management authorities should keep in mind the value of human life. Life of every consumer or a fireman is invaluable. Unless we bear this in mind, no measures on additional safeguards would bear any fruit.

Dr Gurdev Singh

Every citizen must follow fire safety norms

The recent death of two men of the Fire Department, while dousing fire in the National Institute for Electronic and Information Technology (NIEIT) building at Sector 17, is a grim reminder of the lack of required modern equipment and skills for fighting fire in emergency cases. Though the disaster management squad of the Fire Department has never been seen taking part in mock drills except once in the last few years, more training should be imparted to them in effectively dealing with the task of dousing fire without anyone losing their lives. The city Fire Department has only two hydraulic ladders that can reach the height of 45 metre. More such ladders should be made available. Moreover, there is no passage for the movement of fire tenders at the congested shops in the markets and that tends to hamper the process of dousing fires. Special passage for the free movement of fire tenders must be created and it should be strictly seen that these corridors are not encroached upon by any shops or those selling different products on the pavements/corridors. Moreover, in the buildings housing offices, basements meant for parking of vehicles are misused for storage of combustible items such as files and medicines and there is hardly any space for free movement of the staff in case of emergencies. Such practice must be checked and avoided. In the recent fire incident in Sector 17, even trees obstructed the fire hosepipes and hydraulic ladders from reaching the top floors of the burning building. Such obstacles must also be removed. Besides, it should be our duty to follow fire safety norms and strictly adhere to the building bylaws to avoid the spread of fire beyond control.

RK Kapoor

MC should be put on the mat

The massive fire in Sector 17 on June 8 should make the authorities sit back and take stock of their responsibilities. In the towering inferno, two fire- fighters were killed. Now the question arises, what precautionary measures were taken to avoid such incidents and what rehearsals have been done by the disaster management to prevent such a foreseeable tragedy, particularly during summers? We have a full-fledged National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), headed by the Prime Minister. It is an apex body for disaster management in India and its sole aim is to create an enabling environment for institutional mechanisms at the state and district levels so as to cater for possible disasters. Fire-fighting is one of them. The Disaster Management Act 2005 has mandated the constitution of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), a Specialist Response Force for the purpose of specialised response to natural and man-made disasters. This force functions under the National Disaster Management Authority which has been vested with its control, direction and general superintendence. This is a multi-disciplinary, multi-skilled, high-tech force for all types of disasters capable of insertion by air, sea and land. All the eight battalions of NDRF are equipped and trained for all natural disasters including four battalions in combating nuclear, biological and chemical disasters. So, we have the mechanism in place, but not using it to the full. By sincerely following the disaster management plans, we can reduce the impact of the damage. Every year, we suffer heavy losses due to floods, earthquakes, fires etc. There is a definite need to change our attitude to such calamities. Rather than just reacting when it happens, let’s act in advance and minimise the impact. Also, the firefighting equipment in the tricity needs to be modernised and made adequate. We need to tighten our drills to control fire incidents. The UT Home Secretary must answer and pinpoint the responsibilities for the lapses which led to this tragic incident. The MC should be put on the mat. Unless we fix accountability, such disasters will keep happening leading to the loss of property and innocent lives.

Colonel RD Singh (retd)
Ambala Cantt

Ensure functioning of equipment

The Disaster Management team reached after a gap during the fire incident at Sector 17. Fire stations should soon be updated with adequate trained staff and equipment. A CFO should be appointed to lead the disaster management team. The whole process of appointing CFO and purchasing equipment should be privatised as the government usually works at a snail’s pace.

Tarsem Bhardwaj

Department should be well-equipped

To improve the level of preparedness especially during a fire mishap, it is very important for the fire department to be well-equipped. There should be more than one person to respond to the phone calls in the control room. In this room, the movement of fire tenders should also be equipped with the GPS. A mechanism should be available to trace the shortest way to reach the spot of fire incident. Wireless sets installed in fire tenders should be functioning. To sum up, the lack of modernised firefighting equipment and shortage of manpower are affecting the functioning of this department. The firefighting equipment and their efficacy should be checked in regular interval of time.

Priya Darsh Growar

Admn must demolish buildings in poor condition

It is very unfortunate that fire incidents are taking place in Chandigarh one after the other. After every incident, many statements and assurances are announced by the responsible personalities who are in power but after a few days, there is a total silence on the issue. Also, no remedial measures are taken in this regard. Responsibility is not fixed on anyone and instead blame game starts. The pertinent question arises as to why at the time of passing the site map of a building, preventive steps are not taken or ensured and why the work of construction is not supervised in letter and spirit? If only proper and strict compliance to the prescribed norms are followed, these unfortunate incidents can certainly be avoided to a large extent. Buildings which have completed their life and are in a dilapidated condition should be demolished without taking any chance or further delay. The Chandigarh Administration, without any delay, should review the overall condition of the old buildings and order their demolition forthwith.

Ujagar Singh

Fire-fighting machinery needs overhauling

The Fire Department works like a typical lethargic government body. The fire-fighting machinery needs overhauling and a continued monitoring by senior officers to check its preparedness. About 10 years ago, the Administrator of Chandigarh, Gen Jacob tried to resurrect every department of the UT by paying surprise visits and suggesting corrective measures. But every initiative blew over with his retirement. The disaster management cannot be left at the mercy of lower rank officials.

KC Rana

Fire Dept should be well-prepared

Prevention is better than cure. No matter how advanced our medical services are, the best option is to prevent any harm to human lives. In lieu of the recent tragedy, that claimed two lives, it has indeed come like a warning to the disaster management machinery with special reference to Fire Department. It has become increasingly important now that the Fire Department and other emergency departments be well prepared for any sort of situation which may come uninvited. Various departments should be prepared and mock drills should also be conducted to ensure better, quick and efficient mechanism in any sort of untoward incident.


Human lives are very precious

First of all, we must put in our mind that human lives are the most important. In India, most of the people are concerned about themselves. The buildings must be scrutinised and if unsafe then they must be demolished immediately. The naked wires in markets and dumped cluster in offices are a major cause of fire outbreak. We need to clear the waste stuff .There should be exit doors everywhere. The vacant posts must be filled at the earliest. The fire staff should be well-equipped with modern equipment to deal with any kind of emergency. The owner of the building must be held responsible for the loss of valuable lives. The building was unsafe. There is nothing that a firefighter can do in this regard. The US Fire Departments are usually structured in a paramilitary manner. Firefighters are sworn, uniformed members of their departments. Rank-and-file firefighters are equivalent to enlisted personnel and supervisory firefighters are command officers with ranks such as Lieutenant, Captain, Battalion Chief, Deputy Chief and Chief. We also need to follow the West and not make it worse for both the firefighters and human lives.

Opinder Kaur Sekhon

open house question
With poor sanitary conditions and encroachments all over the parking space, the biggest revenue generator and major suppliers of vegetables and fruits—the Grain Market in Sector 26—is on the verge of collapsing. The visitors jostle for space for parking vehicles or even moving around. Traders claim that the footfall has gone down significantly due to the shabby look of the market and mess on the streets and that they are losing out to swanky malls and retail stores. What should be done to revive the aesthetic value of the Grain Market? Write your suggestions in not more than 100 words along with a passport size photograph to openhouse@tribunemail.com.



CBSE, Shoobh Group Welfare Society to team up
To launch photo contest to be held in July under 5 categories
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and ShOObh Group Welfare Society have joined hands to launch a new project ‘Joy photography contest’.

The contest would be held in July under five categories, starting from Class III onwards.

The officials said the contest would be a dynamic example of technology and humanity working together. As per the guidelines of the board, no competition fee would be charged and the last date for submission would be July 31. The participants can send maximum two photographs.

The five categories under which the competition would be held would include Class III to V, VI to VIII, IX and X, XI and XII and the staff and teachers over 21 years of age.

The requirements for the competition include original work of the participant attested by the head of the school. The participants would also be given the option to have a story along but the story should not exceed 250 words and must be written either in English or Hindi.

As per the technical specifications, the file size must be up to 4 MB, the format has to be JPG and all images must be available at 300dpi, even if the image is at a lower dpi.

The students can submit their entries at shoobhphotographycontest@gmail.com or mail the CD/pen drive/print, addressed to ShOObh Group Welfare Society in New Delhi.

While welcoming the new initiative local academician Dr Arvind Goyal said: “Such activities are essential for the overall development of children. Such initiatives will go a long way in tapping the hidden potential of the younger generation and will provide them a platform to showcase their talent.”

All you need to know
The participants can send maximum two photographs
No competition fee will be charged
The last date for submission will be July 31
The contest would be held under five categories, starting from Class III onwards
A contestant should submit his original work attested by the head of the school
The participants will also be given the option to have a story along but it should not exceed 250 words and must be written either in English or Hindi
The file size must be up to 4 MB, the format has to be JPG and all images must be available at 300dpi, even if the image is at a lower dpi
The students can submit their entries at shoobhphotographycontest@gmail.com or mail the CD/pen drive/print, addressed to ShOObh Group Welfare Society in New Delhi



Cong councillors mock BJP’s election slogan

With the prices of different products rising, Congress councillors at the Municipal Corporation (MC) can be seen joking around with MC staff and journos stating that “ache din aa gaye hain” (good days have arrived). The councillors said now the BJP councillors would not come up with the party’s election slogan in the House meeting.

Mayor faces awkward situation

City Mayor Harphool Kalyan faced awkward situation when UT Administrator Shivraj V Patil’s security staff failed to recognise him. After the Administrator’s Advisory Council (AAC) meeting at the UT Guest House, when Patil was addressing the media, the Mayor also tried to join with Patil. But the Mayor was stopped by Patil’s staff. When Mayor said: “Arrey bhai main Mayor hun” then also they did not allowed him to do so. When a senior bureaucrat told the security staff about the Mayor, then only they allowed him to join Patil.

PGI staff pin hope on Health Minister

With the confirmation of Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan visiting the PGIMER on July 7 for attending the foundation day function, unions of various categories of PGI employees are busy preparing list of demands and planning to grab an opportunity to catch him.

Education Dept in catch-22 situation

The Education Department was found in a catch-22 situation last week during the submission and sale of prospectuses for Class XI. When the authorities were asked about the number of forms sold in a day, they failed to provide the exact figures. The officials said due to summer break, many principals had switched off their cellphones and were not responding to repeated calls of higher officials.

Race for occupying best seats

There was a race for occupying best seats during the House Meet of the Panchkula Municipal Corporation. Junior engineers and other staff of the Panchkula MC occupied the main seats meant for the councillors. Vinod Kumar, a councillor who lost the race and didn’t get a place to sit, pulled out a chair and sat out of the decorum.

“Sukhbir darbar” draws statewide criticism

“Sukhbir darbar” organised at the SAD office in Chandigarh on June 18 drew statewide criticism as the Deputy Chief Minister arrived after 12 noon. By then, almost 50 per cent of the people had already returned to their homes. People questioned that why this “darbar” was organised in Chandigarh when people of Punjab live in villages. Why the leaders could not approach them at their villages. People who came from far-flung areas had to struggle for hours to get visiting passes as the time of arrival of the Deputy Chief Minister was not known to anybody. A large number of Jathedars and Akali leaders were present there. Security staff did not allow people to meet the Deputy Chief Minister and there was nobody to listen to the problems of the common man.

Slip road in bad shape

The slip road from the Chandigarh side to the Panchkula side is in a bad shape. A large number of vehicles pass on this road to reach Dhakoli, Baltana and the Shimla-Kalka Road. There are huge pits and potholes on the road, which requires urgent repair works. Big Bazaar and multiplex cinema halls are situated here. A five star hotel is also coming up in its vicinity. But, the Zirakpur Administration and the NHAI are not giving any attention to this genuine grievance of the people. Moreover, one can see stagnant water on the road leading to the highway near the Baltana light-point. The recent rain has exposed the lack of preparedness on the part of the authorities concerned.

Contributed by: Amit Sharma, Rajinder Nagarkoti, Ritika Jha Palial, Mehakdeep Grewal, Hina Rohtaki, Bipin Bhardwaj and Sunil Minocha



PU scholar to represent young int'l researchers in US
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 22
A research scholar from the Department of Physics, Panjab University (PU), was chosen to represent young international researchers at Fermilab, near Chicago, USA, during the visit of United States Secretary of Energy Dr Ernest Moniz to Fermilab.

PU scholar Kuldeep Kaur has been at Fermilab since May 2013 and has been working with Dr Vipin Bhatnagar of PU and Prof Sanjib Mishra from the University of South Carolina, USA, on the NOvA experiment. She is estimating the neutrino flux in the beam to reduce systematic errors in the neutrino interaction cross-sections. Kuldeep was chosen to represent India and other young international researchers at Fermilab. India is participating in the Fermilab's neutrino experiments in a big way, including the NOvA experiment.

Dr Moniz had visited Fermilab to interact with the international community on Friday. Fermilab is USA's premier particle physics laboratory, which has collaboration with scientists from around the world, including PU.

Dr Moniz had visited Fermilab to interact with the international community on Friday. Fermilab is USA's premier particle physics laboratory, which has collaboration with scientists from around the world, including Panjab University.



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