Tag Archives: Chandigarh

the vulture Culture, when blood becomes the ink

I never thought i could see some one cry with dry eyes. Her eyes were dry casue they were replaying the scene when her 17 yr old was trying to make an extra buck, his fault- what he thought was metal came out to be an unexploded live shell.

While the 17 yrs old dies on the spot wiht this 14 yr old friend, both of whom found the shell while bathing in the river which ran next to their colony/skum(u choose the term), their mothers were as quiet as the blood stains al over the walls of the area.

Dead bodies are never pleasant, neither are injuries but still Police gave the emotionless quotes explaining what we all saw, residents walked in shock and journalists- well they had something more to do. Most wanted to click the pool of blood, while flies were on it, not flying. Many were feeling frustrated that the bodies were taken just before they arrieved. Many compared this blast to anoher blast where they could capture the dead body’s limbs in an order that provoked pain and puke. Few were disappointed on the fact that the families were not crying enuf, and when one female member started to beat her chest, they all lept to capture it.

There were few who pushed the camera to the lady whose neighbours had lost their sons and asked her to detail what she saw, wht she thought and wht did she do. After 5 min there was que to take a shot of the lady becasue she was hapy to pose wiht the blood stains, the shop where the havoc happened and the slippers which still had signs of the ppl who once wore it.

While the police blame the explosion on the shell a 60 yr oldl, who has been living in the Dhakka Basti of the Azad Colony where the blast occurred, said that the children died of poverty, “The blast took place because the children were trying to extract copper from a bomb in the shop. They were not educated enough to know that it was a bomb and hungry enough to hit it with a heavy rock.”

the distant attitude of the police, i understand. the shocked neighbours i understand even those who were posing, but US, i am not sure.

As we counted the dead and the injured a senior walked upto me and told me not to get disturbed, he dint say any more. because at some level the more pain we see, the more we write. Does blood fuel our ink?


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New lease of life for 20 children from Malawi

Thanks to the Rotary Club of Chandigarh, 20 children from Malawi suffering from congenital heart diseases will get free treatment here.

Announcing the arrival of the first batch of four such children, the club said that the offer to provide free treatment was made in April this year, when a team of doctors, led by former world president of Rotary International Rajendra K. Saboo and then district governor Madhukar Malhotra, went to Malawi and Zambia on a medical mission and treated patients there.

Project Heartline

The club has been running the Project Heartline, earlier known as Gift of Life, since 1999 and providing free treatment to children suffering from congenital heart diseases. “So far, 365 children have been saved and whenever there is a deserving case in and around Chandigarh, the Rotary always takes up such cases,” Mr. Saboo said.

“The idea of taking up cases from other countries is also to serve beyond our borders and live up to the eternal saying Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam [The world is one family].” In the past, two children from Afghanistan, six from Nepal, 24 from Pakistan and 12 from Uganda have been treated free here.

The four children who arrived from Malawi with their guardians were: Brain Milanzi (2) suffering from atrial septal defect , Hasting Maloya (6) and Patience Nkhoma (6) — both suffering from ventral septal defect — and Prisca Patrick (14) diagnosed with patent ductus arteriosus.

Mr. Saboo said all these children would be operated upon at Fortis Hospital in Mohali, one of the partner hospitals of Rotary Heartline project. Ten doctors from Malawi are expected to arrive in the country for advanced short-term training, courtesy the Rotary. So far, 365 children have been saved. “The idea is to save beyond our borders”

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CSW can be the the solution to stop spread of HIV/AIDS

Vrinda Sharma

CHANDIGARH: “Commercial sex workers (CSW) remain at the receiving end of the society but with a little effort they can be the most effective agents of social change”, said Anil Yadav, who works for a local NGO, which has developed a unique way of spreading awareness amongst CSW. The centre is used to educate the CSWs about sexually transmitted diseases, personal hygiene, contraceptives and provide counselling about their personal and professional lives


According to the State AIDS Control Society, the number of female Commercial Sex Workers (CSW) in the city, with a population of less than 20 lakh, is around 3,500. The drop-in-centre has become more then a place for imparting education and awareness, it feels like ‘the only real home’ to many of its members. “This drop-in-centre is a home for many of us, because we can not sit together anywhere and share our problems and many of us have families that are unaware of our work. Here we interact, share problems, even celebrate festivals without any false façade,” said a 40-year-old CSW.


Trained staff and volunteers of the NGO have been employed to counsel the sex workers according to Sameera Yasmeea, supervisor of the centre, “Most female sex workers are from marginalized sections of society and are most vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases because of illiteracy, ignorance and unhygienic living conditions.” The drop in centre encourages them to use contraceptives, which are provided free of cost, and undergo medical examination regularly.

“Any talk of spreading awareness about HIV and safe sex are useless unless CSWs are a part of the process, that’s why we ensure that these ladies get free condoms and are convinced about its benefits. All the CSWs, that we are in touch with, use contraceptives and undergo a regular medical check up, which is a proof that the most common carrier of a deadly virus is most effective in containing it,” said a volunteer who is also a CSW. “Our drop-in centre meets the needs of over 900 CSWs, who are living in the adjoining slum colonies and villages, “added Yasmeea.


The volunteers said that most of the problems that the CSWs faced were with respect to their families, “CSWs also, like all women, need help with domestic issues. Those ladies whose families don’t know of their profession feel an added pressure.” Another volunteer added that the CSWs get exploited a lot from the Police, “The police know how the presence of CSWs, and often use their services also, but whenever they feel like, they ask for bribes or publically humiliate the females.”

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where man’s best friend is taxed

Vrinda Sharma

 CHANDIGARH: Aiming to bring down the number of stay animals and unregistered breeders, the city has ordered dog owners to not let their pets breed, not keep more than two dogs at a time and tax people if they choose to buy dogs instead of adopting a stray. The administration has also ordered the dog owners that when they walk their dogs, they must carry a big stick and a plastic bag to pick up after their dog to keep the streets clean.

While People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were elated on the new dog taxes and made a ‘dog’ mascot present a bouquet of flowers and a giant heart to the Chandigarh Corporation’s medical officer of health, G Diwan, on Thrusday, many residents are pet owners up in arms.

Dog breeding has become a huge commercial activity in the rural areas around Chandigarh and Amritsar in the last couple of years as a whole new market of quality pups has come up in these cities. According to the Animal Husbandry Department, Chandigarh, the number of domestic dogs in the state has gone up in the recent years, “This year we have registered over 8,100 dogs, which is a huge leap from previous years,” said the Statistics In charge of the Department. 


Dr. G Chabbra, an animal lover said that, “While we all want the city to be clean and more stray animals to be adopted, this is an infringement on the right of dogs to fulfil their biological needs.”


The administration has also asked residents not to buy and sell pets from each other. In case people have more than two pets, they’ll have to pay Rs 1,000 extra per year as ‘dog tax’’. Justifying the administration’s stand PETA India campaign coordinator Madhuri Deshmukh, said that, “Breeders, pet stores, and people who don’t spay and neuter their animals are to blame for animals ending up homeless in the first place. Every time someone buys a dog or cat from a breeder or pet store, a homeless animal roaming the streets or waiting in a shelter loses a chance at a home—and a chance at a good life. Hence, it is important to encourage people to adopt homeless animals from streets and animal shelters and deter them from buying animals from breeders and pet stores.”
As per the suggestion of PETA the administration has agreed to impose a tax on people who buy dogs from breeders and pet shops and exempt people who adopt dogs from shelter and street dogs from this tax. The money collected from this tax would be used to implement the Animal Birth Control programme. According to G Diwan, the new law will encourage people to adopt animals instead of buying from breeders. It will also encourage everyone to get dogs and cats sterilised.

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showcasing the man who designed CHD

CHANDIGARH: Life of the man who designed Chandigarh would be showcase at a museum and research centre in the city. It will be the sixth such centre in the world.
Le Corbusier designed Chandigarh, one of the few planned cities in India, in the 1950s as a modern city with great attention to environment.

‘The Chandigarh administration has decided to set up a `Le Corbusier museum and research centre’ at the old architect building in Sector 19, which was the office of the city’s architect,’ the nodal officer of this project, Vidya Singh said.

‘Students and scholars from all over the world can come here and do research on the works and lifestyle of Le Corbusier and have first hand knowledge of his designs, maps and original works’ Singh added.

‘The office of Le Corbusier was designed by himself and he sat there while conceptualizing the city beautiful almost six decades ago. We have not interfered with this office till date and everything including furniture, book shelf, windows, cupboards and even the floor are the same as they were in the 1950s.’

‘The building is designed in such a manner that the temperature inside the rooms does not go beyond 35 degrees Celsius in summers and does not go below 10 degrees Celsius in winters. We do not need any air conditioner or any artificial light here,’ he said.

‘We will take help and assistance from those people who have worked with him in his office. Small-scale movable articles like furniture, small carpets and other related things, either used by Le Corbusier or created in his time, will be restored and displayed here,’ said Singh, who is former director of the Chandigarh museum.

He added that the principles of design used in Chandigarh would also be explained so that the cultural and heritage value of the city and the contribution of its architect could be promoted at an international level.

The display gallery will be used to explain the history of buildings of the city during Le Corbusier’s time – from 1951 to 1965. There will be no entry fee.

In the research section of the centre, there will be printed materials, publications, posters, archival records and reference and digital library. The library will be connected with various international centres and foundations of Le Corbusier through internet.

‘Visitors can also browse through any visual and textual information related to Le Corbusier through the computerized information bank. They can also download this data free for their reference purpose,’ said Singh.

The centre will be divided into six sections portraying the archival records, original plans, elevations, sketches and studies, maps and models, documents, photographs and furniture. Three rooms will serve as reception, reference and digital library with internet facility.

‘We will disseminate knowledge regarding the history and heritage of Chandigarh, with a special emphasis on the role of Le Corbusier in the making of the city. We will organise permanent as well as temporary exhibitions, film shows, public seminars and workshops,’ said Singh.

‘Foundation Le Corbusier in Paris has extended its help to the Chandigarh administration for the development of the centre here,’ said an official. ‘We have prepared a blueprint of the project and will inaugurate the centre in October 2008,’ the official said.


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20 yr old dies at rehab

“They threw the body in the lawn outside and did not even bother to inform us. …We had admitted him to the de-addiction centre with a hope that he might be cured. We did not know that he would die like this,” said Daljeet Kaur, mother of the 20-year-old who returned from the de addiction center dead instead of cured.

The victim, Surinder Singh, was admitted to the drug de-addiction centre at Balongi, where he was the only patient, on Wednesday and after he died under mysterious circumstances at the centre, on Saturday morning. Victim’s mother alleged that her son was tortured to death by those running the centre and after he died they dumped him outside the house in Mohali. SP City Virenderpal Singh said that “The body had injury marks on the head, neck, arms and eyes. The centre has been closed since and managers are absconding.” He added, “For some reason, the center’s men rushed him to two private hospitals in Phase IV and VI yesterday but he was declared brought dead by doctors.”
The family has alleged that he was beaten to death by doctors at the centre although no FIR has been registered in the case so far. The police said a case would be registered only after the post-mortem report is received.

According to Dr. Harpal, Consultant Psychiatrist at Fortis Hospital, Mohali and resident Psychiatrist at neuropsychiatry rehabilitation centre, “A legal drug de-addiction centre have to certify it is competent to deal with the problem of de-addiction, “ There should be a doctor, a psychiatrist as well as paramedical staff available around the clock.

Nursing staff and an ambulance are also a prerequisite.” He added that most of the de addiction centres are places made to mint money from the families, who are trying hard to save their child’s future and their own social image. Most centers do not have the necessarily staff, equipment and environment and usually make the folly of taking in an addict and straightaway detoxifying him. Ideally the procedure has three phases — stabilization, reduction and then detoxification.

Not a single survey has been conducted in Punjab to ascertain the number of such illegal centers and the administration is yet to figure out the department which is responsible for the issue. According to an official at the health department of Chandigarh Administration, Drug de-addiction is not a health subject at all as it is within the social welfare department’s purview and the Social welfare department, which funds de addiction centers says that because the licensing is issued under the ‘mental health Act’, It becomes a health subject.

NGO’s, like that of Arvind Thakur, have helped bust 11 fake de-addiction centers and ‘rescued’ over 300 people. According to Dr. Harpal, “There is mushrooming of illegal rehab centers is because drug addiction is still something that evokes a strong social dislike for the addict and his family invariably dumps him at an unknown place, hoping for him to get better. Most of the families do so without checking the center’s doctors, patients conditions etc.”

There are over 34 de addiction centers in Punjab, but most do not have a permanent psychiatrist, warden or councilor. Patients in the illegal drug de addiction centers are routinely tortured, abused and humiliated and in the past found to be in blatant human rights violations. Cases of young boys hurting themselves, while trying to escape from such centers are common and so are the absconding center owners.

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drugs+police=easy trade

Alleged nexus between its personnel and drug peddlers, which came to the light after a suspected trafficker’s calls show his regular contacts with Chandigarh IPS officers, has again put the city police to shame.
Inspector general S.K. Jain Tuesday suspended five policemen, who were accused of taking bribes from the arrested suspect according to Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB). ‘We immediately suspended the police men, who were accused by NCB in their report,’ senior superintendent of police S.S. Srivastava, ‘Very soon we will start a departmental inquiry,’ he added.

The NCB report alleged that Raju, a postgraduate student at Panjab University, used to bribe and give tipoffs about other drug traffickers active in the region to the accused cops. ‘If they are found involved in any such criminal act then strict disciplinary action will be taken against them,’ said Srivastava. NCB had submitted the report to the Chandigarh police on the basis of statements given by Harpal Singh alias Raju Smacky, who was arrested last month with 3.5 kg of heroin and one kilogram of smack, an NCB official said.
‘We have also traced call details of Raju that depicts his regular contacts with some more Chandigarh police cops and with some elite personalities of the city. But we will disclose it once we have substantial proofs in our hand,’ said the official.
Hemant Goswami, a social activist who filed a petition in The Punjab and Haryana High Court stating that despite having knowledge about links between IPS officers of Chandigarh and Punjab and drug cartel, neither the NCB, nor the police have taken any step to investigate the matter said that, “Not even a gram of Drugs can be sold in Chandigarh without police’s knowledge. Everyone knows that the Police are involved, but still no steps are taken to check the senior IPS officers.”
Hearing the petition, the court issued notices to Chandigarh Police, the Narcotics Control Bureau, the Chandigarh Administration and the Central Bureau of Investigation. The petition stated that Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) had revealed that many officers of the Chandigarh and Punjab Police had close association with the drug cartel and that illegal drug trade was being carried out in connivance with the police in the region.

According to NCB, Punjab contributes 75 per cent of the total drug seizures of the country. Recovering addicts at Narcotics Anonymous (NA) meeting say that the biggest impediment in the de addiction is the easy supply of drugs, “When my father realized that I am addicted to Drugs, he sent me to our ancestral village near Ludhiana, but drugs were available there also. It is actually very amusing because sometimes villagers have trouble finding a doctor but they find drugs easily,” said a NA member. “I don’t know who does the job of supplying drugs but they are easily available in every nook and corner of Punjab” he added.

Rajesh Sharma, President of All India Anti Terrorist Front (AIATF) said, “Each police officer in the city has full knowledge of all the drug suppliers in his area. It is a complex nexus, not just police officers but the entire department knows the workings of each drug dealer but no arrests are made because every body has a cut in the trade.”
NCB Director Saji Mohan refused to comment on police involvement in drugs, he said “It is beyond my preview to comment on this topic. I report to my seniors and not the media.” “This year we have seized over 60 kgs of Heroin along the border. Drugs are easily available in Punjab because it is on the border. With Afghanistan growing over 90 per cent of world’s opium, there is a lot of smuggling across the border especially in Amritsar and Ferozpur.”

According to Goswami, “Every official in the Police Department and NCB knows the people involved, but nobody takes action. I feel that Central Bureau of Investigation should investigate the matter in coordination with other agencies.”

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plastic ban will strave us to death

Chandigarh administration, on 31st July, announced that the city will be made “plastic-free” from Gandhi Jayanti, while administration views this as a solution to the litter problem; many oppose the ban as it which will affect over 1,000 family’s livelihood and not be an effective tool to clean the city’s litter.

“If plastic is banned in the city close to 1,200 families will be affected, which include rich industrialists as well as the rag pickers,” said Anand Syal, Sr. Vice President of Chandigarh Plastic Manufacturer & Traders Association (CPMTA). “Plastic bags don’t cause any trouble, and they are useful and easily recycled. Paper bags cost five to six times more than plastic and can cause the same level of litter. The problem lies in garbage segregation, poor arrangements for disposal and lack of management by the Municipal Corporation,” he added.

The law governing plastic bags are already stricter in Chandigarh than in other cities as it allows manufacturing of virgin plastic bags measuring over 8”X12” and above 30 micron thicknesses only, which is in accordance with the internationally accepted norms plastic usage. But unlike the previous ban this time the administration wants a complete ban.

The notification stated that “No person, including shopkeeper, vendor, wholesaler, retailer, trader, hawker or rehriwala, will be allowed the use of polythene/plastic carry bags for supply of goods in them.” The notification also makes it clear that no person will manufacture, store, import, sell or transport polythene/plastic carry bags in UT.” Violators would be charged under section 19 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986.

Earlier, the administration had invited objections from persons likely to be affected from the aforesaid decision in February 2008, although objections and suggestions were received within 60 days, the final decision included none.

When CPMTA moved to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, stay was denied and the next date for hearing was fixed for October 22, “I fail to understand how can they fix a day 20 days after the ban would be operational? In our petition we demanded the scientific reason behind the ban and mentioned that the intention of the administration to ban plastic was beyond the powers of the administrator and also unlawful,” added Syal.

While manufactures in the city are finding the decision difficult, manufactures outside the city find the issue ‘pointless’, “The ban on plastic carry bags restricts people from manufacturing, storing and transporting polythene/plastic carry bags in UT, but it does not stop people from using them. Panchkula, Mohali and other nearby places do not have any such ban, hence there can be littering of plastic in the city,” said Vikas Garg, whose factory manufactures plastic bags 20 kms away from the city.

“The ban is ill conceived, if they want that the city should be free from plastic, why have they not thought of the plastic packing of goods and commodities? Also the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 is only for regulation of pollution-causing industry and can not be used to regulate such things. The administration should promote recycling instead,” said D. Thakur, a lawyer residing in the city.

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land compensation, a bad joke

Vrinda Sharma

Members of the “pind bachao committee (save the villages) address the UT administration as a ‘ shrewd property dealer’ as it compensates landowners at Rs 7.50 lakh for an acre when the land in villages in Punjab is selling for over Rs 3 crore an acre, all under the pretext of developmental activities.

The land which is acquired, under the Land acquisition Act, is for expansion of Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park. After having acquired 400 acres initially, more than 70 per cent of which is used for non IT purposes, administration wants to acquire another 272 acres of land for RGCTP. Questioning the haste with which the administration was going ahead with the third phase of the IT Park, a landowner said that the land in Phases I and II is yet to be utilised yet, “Compensation of Rs 7.50 lakh per acre is 50 times less than the price at which the administration will sell this land,” he added.

“The Land Acquisition Act is an act, enacted for acquisition of land for the public purposes and for planned development and for creating infrastructures in public interest like in the field of education, housing, health, slum-clearance and other developmental activities. But the administration has started to use this as a tool to acquire land at cheap rates and then sell it to builders, thereby exploiting the land owners and adding money to its treasury,” said a landowner whose three acres in Krishangarh were acquired four years back.

“The IT Park which is being projected as a major development project is actually a commercial venture in which private builders are making huge monetary gains at the cost of landowners,” said a member of the Manimajra Farmers Welfare Society.

A member of the Environment Protection Society, Chandigarh said that, apart from the compensation issue, the RGCTP Phase III is ‘an ecological disaster waiting to happen’ as 50,000 trees will be cut down in the ecologically fragile area adjacent to Sukhna Lake.

The Pind Bachao Committee, comprising representatives from 22 villages that were uprooted to make way for the planned city of Chandigarh, has resorted to Gandhigiri, by sending bouquets to the administration, to protest against forcible acquisition of their land. President of the Pind Bachao committee, Angrez Singh Badheri said that, “We have held rallies and protest marches but this seems to be the best way to protest in this rigid democratic system. The administration is going ahead with the acquisition despite the announcement by the Centre that land would not be acquired forcibly from the farmers.”

“It is a pittance compared to the rate at which the land in and around the village is being sold and purchased, Now, landowners are being given only Rs 7.50 lakh for an acre when the land in villages in Punjab is selling for over Rs 3 crore an acre,” he added.

Villagers have acquired copies of land deals in nearby villages like Khuda Lahora, Sarangpur and Kaimbwala which show the cost per acre of land to be Rs 3 crore (2008), Rs 2.20 crore (2007), and Rs 2.20 crore (2008) respectively.

According to the Land Acquisition act, while acquiring the land, the land owners are not only paid the award calculated on the basis of Collector’s rate, but solatium @ 30 per cent on the value assessed on the basis of Collectors rate and additional market-value @ 12 per cent per annum is also paid through the award.

However, the award is further subject to enhancement as the land owner is at liberty to approach the High Court /Supreme Court, if he thinks that he has not been compensated suitably.

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Bindra’s bang creating gun craze

When Bindra won gold, the Rifle distributors of the region hit the real jackpot, as the region is witnessing an unprecedented increase in the sale of rifles and interest associated with sport seems to be rising.

Shop attendants at Ahuja Arms Company have never this busy as they sold 65 air rifles in just one day and received fresh orders for 50 more. Ravi Ahuja from Ahuja Arms Company, the region’s sole distributor of air rifles said, “Last Friday we received 68 pieces of such rifles from Ahmedabad but with Abhinav winning gold, we have already sold 65. We anticipate a huge interest in the sport. In 2007, we sold close to 1,000 rifles. This year till July 31 we sold 400, but in the four months from now we are looking at about 2,000.”

Ahuja added that Bindra used to come to him when he was 14, just a beginner and now when he sees children enquire about rifles, and it reminds him of Bindra. “The public has shown a great interest in the sport but the government has not recognized this as a sport, they focus too much on cricket. The sport will be popular only when there will be proper infrastructure in the schools and colleges.”

The sale has increased partially but there are signs that there will a growth because I have received many queries especially from students said Gurpreet Bhandari from Bhandari Gun House. “The shop has been flooded with inquisitive students and parents, It is not common to see mothers bring their young sons for rifle shopping. We sold 10 rifles the day after Bindra’s victory and estimating that there will be an increase in the demand, we have asked for another 50 air rifles from a Kolkata manufacturer,” he added.

Ahuja, who is also general secretary of Chandigarh Arms Dealers Association, added, “Buyers, especially young students are calling up enquiring about the costs, the training etc. Even dealers are calling up from Punjab, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh are also demanding. We have placed orders with an Ahmedabad based manufacturing unit to supply us more rifles.”

Abhinav’s Father, a known industrialist apparently spent crores on his training, providing him with indoor shooting range equipped with computerized gazets, in his backyard. The prohibitive cost might be an impediment in making this a popular sport but for many Punjabi parents it is hardly a deterrent. Father of a 13-year-old, Kartik Verma said that during his childhood sports meant only cricket, “times have changed now and when my son said that he wanted to be like Abhinav I was supportive. But there is a need for basic infrastructure; the nearest shooting range is Patiali-ki-Rao, it would be good if there was an academy,” as his son shot an imaginary target in the gun shop.

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