C H A N D I G A R H   S T O R I E S


diwali celebrations
Pledges for green Diwali go up in flames
229 cases of burns reported; 41 fire incidents, 265 brawls take place in tricity
Ritika Jha Palial
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The anti-cracker rallies by school students and pledges by city residents to celebrate pollution free Diwali went up in flames as crackers were burnt recklessly in a number of residential areas on Thursday.

Contradictory to the reports of significant dip in sale of crackers reported across the tricity this Diwali and the air pollution levels showing a decrease this time, the number of burn and eye injuries reported on the festive night have rather gone up (now 229), compared to the number of burn injuries reported in the last two years (219 in 2013 and 161 in 2012). A reality check on Friday revealed that a number of residential areas were littered with brunt crackers and garbage.

Interestingly, a majority of those who received burn injuries were onlookers. A total of 229 cases of burn and eye injuries were reported from across Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali this time, against a total of 219 recorded last year and 161 in 2012. Of these 229, a total of 187 cases were reported at Chandigarh hospitals, including 10 from neighbouring states. While 42 cases were reported in Panchkula, 15 were reported in Mohali.

26 calls of fire incidents 
Between 7 pm and 11 pm is said to be the peak hour for bursting crackers and this was the time when firefighters received maximum phone calls. Spots, including Sectors 40, 22 and 25, Dhanas, Industrial Area (II), Daria and Ram Darbar witnessed maximum fire incidents. The fire tenders were deployed at around 20 spots in the city.

Doctors at the PGIMER said those lighting the crackers and also the onlookers did not take enough safety measures. Of the total 15 cases of burn (3) and eye (12) injury reported at the PGIMER since Thursday night till Friday morning, 14 were onlookers. “Precautions are not limited to those who are lighting the crackers. Even the onlookers need to be careful”, said the doctors. A total of 229 cases of burn and eye injuries were reported from across Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali this time, against a total of 219 recorded last year and 161 in 2012. Of these 229, a total of 187 cases were reported at Chandigarh hospitals, including 10 from neighbouring states. While 42 cases were reported in Panchkula, 15 were reported in Mohali.

“A 7-year-old-boy from Kaithal suffered burn injury when his brother was lighting a rocket. The rocket instead of going up in the air, entered straight into his eyes,” said Dr Jaspreet Singh, assistant professor, Advanced Eye Centre, PGIMER. Against the average turnover of Rs 10 to 15 crore of crackers sold in the past four to five years in the city, the turnover this year did not go beyond Rs 5 crore. “We were able to sell only half of the stock,” said Rajinder Jain, a seller in Sector 37. 



Fire at Sector 7 bank
Short-circuit likely cause  *no casualty  *records safe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
A day after Diwali, a major tragedy was averted when a fire broke out at a regional branch of the Union Bank of India, Sector 7-C, at around 6.30am, today.

Though the main reason of the fire was suspected to be short-circuit, the authorities are still probing to know the exact cause. No casualties were reported.

However goods, including furniture, computer systems and cabins on the first floor of the building were damaged in the fire. The branch manager said all lockers and customers’ documents were safe.

The Fire Department was alerted about the fire by the bank's ATM security guard, at around 6.25 am.

Soon after getting the call, the fire tenders rushed to the spot. After struggling for more than half an hour, the fire was braught under control. Firefighters suspected that the fire broke out due to short-circuit in the electric-panel located in the bank.

As many as 12 computers, 10 cabins and interior furniture was damaged in the fire. A total of three-fire tenders were involved in the rescue operation. "No human life was lost in the fire however, goods worth lakhs were damaged. The exact cause of fire is yet to be ascertained" said a fire official.

Deputy general manager Keshav Vajal along with local branch manager Himanshu Garg visited the spot. The branch manager said all the documents were safe. "We are trying to find out the exact cause of fire, but at the moment, short-circuit in the electric-panel could be the reason behind the incident. All the documents, including cash, is safe" said Garg.

Fire in Sector 22-D bank

A fire tender rushing to douse fire, on the top floor of the UCO Bank building in Sector 22-D, had a tough time getting into the building due to haphazard parking of vehicles and vendors stationed in the parking arena. However, the area was vacated soon and the firefighters controlled the fire.

The minor fire was caused by short circuit in the television, left unattended by tenants. “Initialy, the haphazard parking inside the parking lot and the vendors stationed near the bank, had posed hinderance to fire tenders. However, the situation was controlled in no time. Due to festive season there is huge rush in markets” said ML Sharma, Station House Officer, Sector 17.

No casualty was reported in the incident.

The firefighters forced open the door to carry out the rescue operation.

Recent incidents of fire in banks

  • May 2: A major fire broke out at the office of the Directorate of Institutional Finance and Banking, Punjab, in Sector 17.
  • July 3: Regional office of Syndicate Bank at Bank Square in Sector 17
  • August 1: A minor fire was reported at the State Bank of India branch on the Punjab Civil Secretariat premises.
  • August 21: A fire broke out at Punjab National Bank in Sector 26. The fire was braught under control within 15 minutes.



Dip in air pollution, but noise still a bane
Rajinder Nagarkoti
Tribune News Service

 Chandigarh, October 24
The air and noise pollution level on Diwali night once again exceeded the permissible limit in the city. However, this year, Diwali was cleaner as compared to previous years as the figures of air pollution witnessed a dip this year.

Noise pollution witnessed a minor increase as compared to last year. According to the data collected by the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC), the air pollution level, though, exceeded the permissible limit at all the three locations, but the levels of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) recorded in Sector 22 and Sector 29 were lower as compared to last year. However, higher level of RSPM was recorded in Sector 17.

Sector 29, which was declared a silence zone because of the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) polyclinic in Sector 29, witnessed a RSPM level of 260 micrograms per cubic metre (mpcm) against the permissible limit of 100. This was lesser that 409 mpcm in 2013 and 349 mpcm in 2012.

The RSPM level in Sector 22 (residential zone) witnessed a dip this time with figures of 218 mpcm on Diwali night. Last year, the figure was 450 mpcm.

In the commercial zone, Sector 17, the RSPM level on Diwali night was 185 mpcm, which was little higher compared to last year’s figures of 135 mpcm. Though the figures were lesser as compared to the figures of 2012, which was 207 mpcm.

As the noise pollution level reached 82.9 decibels (db) in the residential zone, similarly, in the silence zone, the noise pollution level was 75 db and in the commercial zone, the noise pollution was 68.4 db.

This year, the board had installed pollution detection equipment at three places: Sector 29 (silence zone), Sector 22 (residential zone) and Sector 17 (commercial zone).

The directions issued by the UT Administration regarding ban on bursting of crackers after 10 pm had little effect on residents. Various parts of the city witnessed bursting of crackers after 10 pm. The situation in southern sectors was even worse as people burst crackers even after midnight. The residents ignored public awareness campaigns against the use of firecrackers and were seen bursting various types of crackers.

The level of sulphur dioxide (SO2) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) at all the locations was within the permissible limits.



Grand preparations on in Panchkula
State top brass leave no stone unturned as PM Narendra Modi to be present at Shalimar Ground
Hina Rohtaki/Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

P’kula/Chandigarh, Oct 24
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several dignitaries arriving for the oath-taking ceremony of Haryana Chief Minister designate Manohar Lal Khattar at Shalimar Ground in Sector 5 here on October 26, the state top brass was on its toes to ensure that the VVIP’s were given a grand welcome.

It may be recalled that after 19 years, its homecoming for Modi who stayed in Sector 7, Panchkula, in 1995.

Time and again, the designs of the stage were being changed to get the best look for the D-day. A special make-shift stage has been braught from Hissar.

Expecting a large number of supporters to turn up to witness the event, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has been asked to make extra arrangements at the Chandigarh Railway Station to manage them. The supporters are expected to reach here by trains to attend the event.

Seating arrangements for over 70,000 guests have been made at the venue.

It has been decided that on the day of the oath ceremony, one extra reserve company of the GRP, comprising 25 personnel will be deployed at the station beside the one reserve company, which is aiready on duty at the station. Two standby reserves companies of the GRP will be stationed at the Ambala station. 

A senior official said that the function was scheduled for the morning and there were two trains in which the supporters were expected to arrive. The two trains were the Jaipur-Chandigarh train and the Himalayan Queen.

Three stages being designed Three stages have been designed by the BandR in accordance with the SPG’s directions. One stage is eight feet high, while the other two are seven feet high. Another stage is being thought for other senior leaders to be seated outside the D area. The SPG commandos on Friday reached the venue and checked all the buildings near by.

Traffic diversions

For all those travelling to Panchkula on Sunday, certain routes near the venue are to be avoided particularly when the PM arrives. While Tawa Chowk, routes from Sector 4 and 12 will be open for the general public, the routes for VIPs would be from Sector 6.

Petrol pumps in Sectors 5 & 8 to be closed

The administration has directed the closure of petrol pumps located near the venue in Sector 5 and Sector 8.

Rehearsal today

A rehearsal will be held on Saturday morning by the police. Facility of a helipad has been made in Sector 5.

Workforce brought from Delhi, Ludhiana

Knowing the fact that the local labour wouldn’t be available due to Vishwakarma Day, labourers from Delhi and Ludhiana were called this morning to work at the venue.

Over 10 parking slots arranged

Over 10 parking slots have been arranged. Categories of visitors have been made. The VVIP parking will be in the ground itself. 



Festive rush: Trains running to capacity
Large number of passengers seek cancellation of tickets as they miss train due to overcrowded platform
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Boarding a train was a huge struggle for passengers, including even those having confirmed tickets, at the jam-packed railway station here on Thursday.
Due to Chatth Puja, trains departing from the city are witnessing a huge rush of passengers. Some passengers could not even board their train as platforms at the railway station were overcrowded.

A large number of passengers was seen queued up at the railway station today seeking cancellation of their tickets as they failed to board the train they had the tickets for.

Railway officials said on Friday evening too, there was a long queue of claimants of cancellation of reservations for the Lucknow Express and the Himalayan Queen.

It is learnt that due to festival season, berths in all long and short-distance trains have been booked for the next three days and there is a long waiting-list for tickets.

People even turned up at the Tatkal reservation counter at 3 am last night to get tickets.

For the past two days, staff of the Government Railway Police and the Railway Protection Force has been facing a tough time managing the crowd. Both the agencies had to deploy special staff at the station to control the crowd.

Chandigarh railway station superintendent RK Dutta said no special train had been introduced so far as it was not viable. He said for the next four days, all the trains would be packed to capacity and boarding them would not be an easy task. He said the passenger rush would become normal by the next week. 



post diwali celebrations in tricity
City wakes up to littered streets, roads
Anti-cracker rallies lose significance as wrappers and cracker debris are strewn in residential areas
Mehakdeep Grewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The anti-cracker rallies and Swachhta pledge taken by school students and residents to keep the city clean and pollution-free went up in flames as the city celebrated Diwali by bursting crackers on a grand scale on Thursday. Residential areas and market places across the city were littered with wrappers and cracker waste.

The ‘Go Green’ pitch that the Environment Department, students and NGOs had raised seemed to have got suppressed under the festival fervour as the city’s atmosphere saw a rise in air and sound pollution.

A cursory look at the affairs proved that a day after the festival, the entire city — particularly Sectors, 47, 42, 35 and 43 — were littered with cracker waste.

This was in stark contrast as a day before the festival, students had organised anti-cracker rallies to sensitise residents about the ill-effects of pollution caused by the bursting of crackers. But all the efforts were lost amidst the celebrations.

Nearly 21 days ago, government employees from across the board along with students had taken the Swachhta pledge wherein they also carried out cleanliness drives on their premises to ensure that the city looked clean.

On the contrary, the roads were littered and there was none to clean the cracker waste the next day from Diwali.

Meanwhile, Pramod Sharma, coordinator, Yuvsatta, whose NGO along with the Department of Environment had organised a week-long Green Diwali campaign involving over 1,000 students in 130 eco-clubs in schools of the city, said, “It’s not that children are not aware about the ill–effects of bursting crackers. But it is difficult to change the mindset as people have been celebrating Diwali by bursting crackers for nearly five decades.”

“Until maintaining cleanliness is made a habit and strict fines are imposed, it will be difficult to bring a mass change,” he added.



On Diwali, PCR receives 2,351 calls
152 were for brawls, 44 for accidents 
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh/Panchkula, October 24
The local Police Control Room (PCR) received more than 2,351 calls for several complaints on Diwali. As many as 152 calls were received for brawls that broke out in different areas of the city.
However, no major incident was reported. Last year, the control room had received nearly 149 calls for brawls on Diwali.

Roshan Lal, DSP, Communication, said, “Out of the total 2,351 calls, 340 were actionable calls of different nature. According to official data, 152 calls were received for brawls, 44 for accidents, 18 for fire and 26 for other miscellaneous spots.”

The PCR staff rushed 27 injured people to hospitals, including PGI, Government Medical College and Hospital Sector-32 and Government Hospital Sector-16, for medical treatment. On normal days, the PCR receives around 1,900-2,000 calls of which, about 250 calls, on an average, are of actionable nature.

Meanwhile, as many as 43 brawls took place on Diwali night with more than 20 persons landing at the General Hospital, Sector 6. A brawl at Gandhi Colony took an ugly turn when the hutment of a family was set ablaze by another family late in the night. A youth sustained burn injuries in the incident. More than 15 persons were rounded up by the police after the incident.


As many as five major calls of fire were received at the fire station last night. A minor fire broke out in a house in Sector 25, while a fire broke out in a house meter in Sector 17, Morni Road.



Children pick up brooms to clear waste
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Emulating Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the children of Alpine Residential Society, Zirakpur, made an effort to clean their premises of cracker waste on Friday morning.

Not only children but even the elders pitched in their support to clean the society and its surroundings areas.

The children were motivated by the call given by PM Modi on October 2.

During the three-hour-long cleanliness drive, the children cleaned all pavements in the society and its surrounding areas. The children who participated in the drive included Manav, Manya, Muskan, Taniya, Manas, Samarath and Saksham. The children have decided to undertake such a campaign every Sunday in the society to make it the most beautiful society in the area.

“This is our contribution to a clean India. It is our duty to clean the premises of cracker waste. Instead of waiting for the sweepers, we decided to pick up the broom,” said the children.



Women, children remove debris from Sector 47
Mehakdeep Grewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Diwali celebrations went on till late Thursday night. While a majority of residents preferred to stay indoors, a group of housewives along with 15 children took to the streets of Sector 47 to clean the areas littered with cracker waste.

The group, comprising family members of Air Force personnel, led by VC Rajeshwari cleaned the residential areas of the Air Force 3 BRD by clearing the cracker debris.

The interesting part of the initiative was that all those children, who had littered the areas with crackers on Diwali night, were the ones to clean up the premises.

“To instill the habit of cleanliness among children and to make them realise how the environment is polluted due to the bursting of crackers, we made them clean the streets,” said Rajeshwari.

The children, along with the mothers, started the cleanliness drive from the crack of dawn and it continued for four hours.

The group members stated that they had been motivated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and hence decided to keep their surroundings clean. “We will also carry out plantation drives every weekend,” they added.

The group, comprising three mothers and five children, was constituted on October 2. Today, it has more than 20 members.

“We enjoyed cleaning our streets. We also took a pledge that we will not burst crackers and pollute the environment,” said GB Aman, one of the youngest members of the group.



20 sustain burns, eye injuries
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 24
A resident of Nayagaon reportedly lost his eyesight when parts from a cracker hit his eyes during Diwali celebrations on Thursday night.
Bachan Singh, a resident of the Safedan Colony, was rushed to the hospital by his neighbours.

“Bachan Singh, who was witnessing the ongoing celebrations, was injured from crackers being burst by some children”, said sources.

As many as 20 persons, including 10 children, reportedly sustained burns/eye injuries in Mohali on Diwali night.

Except three-four cases, the remaining were minor cases and the patients were sent home after first-aid, said doctors at various hospitals across Mohali.

Three-year-old Harleen, resident of Sector 68, was taken to Fortis Hospital as she sustained burn injuries on her arms, face and legs when she was witnessing the bursting of crackers. The other injured persons included Gurpreet Singh (39), Avinash Sharma (29), Raj Singh, Shruti Singh, Tejbir (8), Mohini (18), Sahibjit (10), Vijay Kumar (30), Sooraj (11), Anil (12), Akash (9), Navdeep (31), Sheela Devi, Amar Singh (27), Gabarshad (24), Harjinder Singh (26), Komal (12) and Mansimran Singh (15).

At least three injured persons were taken to Fortis Hospital, five to Sri Harkrishan Sahib Charitable Eye Hospital at Sohana and the remaining to the Civil Hospital, Phase VI.

Dr Andesh Kang, Senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Mohali, said, “Special arrangements were made to treat people who sustained injuries on Diwali night. “We received at least 10 injured persons on Thursday night but there was no serious case. All patients were discharged all treatment”, said Dr Kang.

7-year-old injures eye

Prince (7), hailing from Kaithal in Haryana, was rushed to the PGIMER late on Thursday night after he received a severe burn injury in his right eye. The incident took place when he was trying to examine a rocket cracker that failed to burst. The rocket entered his eye instead of going up in the air.

Youth burns face

A mentally-challenged youth sustained minor injuries on his face when he was roaming about at a sight where a cracker was being burst in his neighbourhood. Another 12-year-old boy, Riyaz, also got facial burns. Both were taken to PGI.

Other injured

Amrit Pal Singh (5), Vijay (18) and Ranjit also sustained eye injuries. 

12-year-old loses finger

A 12-year-old boy lost one of his fingers as the cracker burst into flames which he was holding in his hands. “The patient was in deep pain,” said a doctor attending on him.



Man killed in accident

Panchkula, October 24
A 26-year-old old youth died while another was injured when they rammed their rashly driven Vista car into a tree near the Dolphin chowk in the Mansa Devi Complex this evening.

While the victim, identified as Pravesh, a resident of Kishangarh, was declared brought dead at the General Hospital, Sector 6, here. The other person, identified as Devinder, a resident of Chandigarh, was admitted to the hospital. The police said Devinder was driving the car when the incident took place. The autopsy will be held tomorrow. — TNS



Excise inspector thrashed
Tribune News Service

Mohali, October 24
Some persons thrashed an excise inspector following a minor altercation at a local market here last evening.
The victim, Harmeet Singh, who is posted at the Shambhu barrier, Rajpura, sustained serious injuries in the incident.

Sub-inspector Rajiv Kumar, Station House Officer at the Mataur police station, said Harmeet was returning to his house after shopping at the Phase IIIB2 market when a rashly driven car stopped near his vehicle.

“When Harmeet objected to his behaviour, a youngster came out of the car and started thrashing him with a slugger. Later, the accused called up his acquaintances, who thrashed the victim,” the SHO said.

Harmeet, who sustained injuries on his face and other body parts, was taken to Civil Hospital in Phase VI by some passers-by.

The SI said they had identified the accused and summoned them at the police station.

“After recording the statements, we would register a case against the guilty under appropriate sections,” the SHO added.



Auction: City’s heritage furniture fetches Rs 25 lakh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Two lots of heritage furniture from the City Beautiful were auctioned for Rs 25,99,725 ($42,500) in Chicago.
The auction took place on October 23 where a pair of armchairs from the Punjab and Haryana High Court was auctioned for Rs 12,99,862 ($21,250). 

The chairs were designed by Le Corbusier, the first chief architect of the city, and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret. Also, a pair of committee armchairs from the Legislative Assembly, designed by Jeanneret, was auctioned for the similar amount.

Jeanneret had designed chairs, tables, stools and racks for government offices in the late 50s. However, the furniture was replaced in the late 80s and early 90s. After tossing out the heritage items in the backyards or stores, most of the UT departments had auctioned these as junk, unmindful of their worth in the international market.

During his stay in Chandigarh, Jeanneret designed several pieces of furniture. Some of the prototypes are present at the Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10. He used the furniture at the house in Sector 5 where he had stayed.



All-India vayu sainik camp
City’s NCC squadron adjudged the best 

Chandigarh, October 24
The No.1 Chandigarh NCC Air Squadron bagged the best air squadron trophy at an All-India Vayu Sainik Camp that concluded at Bengaluru earlier this week.
The cadets, who attended the camp, were felicitated by Brig MS Sekaran, NCC group commander, Chandigarh, during a function organised here today.

The squadron’s commanding officer, Wg Cdr Jaideep Singh Jeji, said 48 cadets, including 16 girls, attended the camp. He said it was a regular practice of over two months, which paid off.

The team from the Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh Directorate came second in cultural programme presentation.

The team got training in microlite flying, drill, shooting, aero-modelling, line area maintenance, health and hygiene issues and other pertinent service subjects.

About 300 cadets from Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Hisar, Karnal, Kullu and Chandigarh had taken part in a Pre-Vayu Sena Camp; of them, 48 were shortlisted to form a team representing the Directorate at the all-India camp. — TNS



Two-yr-old boy’s body found
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The local police have exhumed the body of an unidentified two-year-old boy from near the Faidan barrier here today.

Kirpal Singh, SHO, Sector 36 police station, said the body, which was found buried deeply, was shifted to a local hospital. “We are not suspecting any foul play in the matter. Some local resident might have buried the body. However, we are investigating,” said the SHO.



MC’s finance committee holds meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The Finance and Contract Committee (F&CC) of the civic body under the chairmanship of Mayor Harphool Chander Kalyan passed various agenda items today.

The panel passed a rough estimate of Rs 29.97 lakh for shifting water supply lines from the rear courtyard of houses to the front side at a rehabilitation colony in Sector 38-A.

Regarding the agenda item for operation and maintenance of 38 temporary re-locatable toilet blocks located in various slums, the committee decided that applications should be invited through a tender and the agenda be put up in the Water Supply and Sewerage Disposal committee for further action.

The F&CC decided that the agenda to frame a policy for carrying out business at the car bazaar in Sector 7 would be taken up in detail during a special meeting to be held on October 27.



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