2015 saw the tricity take leaps in development, digitisation and democracy, while there was a fair share of unfortunate incidents too. HT takes a look at some key happenings with the hope of a better year ahead.
Towards smart living
The City Beautiful made it to the first list of 98 smart cities in the country. The UT administration officials prepared a detailed “Smart City Proposal” in consultation with city residents and other stakeholders and submitted it to the Centre in December. The Centre will now pick 20 cities in the first year, followed by another 20 cities in the next, for receiving Central funding of Rs 500 crore, which would be given spread over the next five years.
Tricity spreads its wings
The new terminal of the international airport began operations in October. Also, the defence ministry approved the extension of watch hours at the airport for all domestic flights, which means all flights from Chandigarh will be free to take off even after 8pm.
From birth and death registration to appointments at Government Medical College and Hospital-32 and PGIMER to payment of electricity and water bills and property tax, the city is already treading a digital path. Some domestic facilities were integrated with the e-district portal chdservices.gov.in. Income certificates, residence certificates and dependency certificates were also digitised. Chandigarh police also initiated issuance of online police clearance certificate.
Planning and development
The Chandigarh Master Plan, 2031, after being cleared by the ministry of home affairs (MHA), got a final nod by UT administrator Kaptan Singh Solanki. The master plan had been prepared for the towns falling in the peripheries of Haryana (Panchkula) and Punjab (SAS Nagar).
For women, by women
An all-woman police station, Mahila Police Station, was set up at Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula, in August to encourage women to come forward in registering their complaints.
The building of General Hospital, Sector 6, Panchkula, was renovated. The hospital also launched online registration of patients. MRI and CT scan facilities were also started. Also, The Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh launched evening OPDs for those who wish to visit a doctor after their working hours.
Education for more
Chandigarh got two new government schools, Government Model High School at pocket no 8, Manimajra, and Government Primary School, Sector 49. The high school is facilitating students up to Class 8 for now. The primary school has students up to Class 5.
PU brings laurels
Nature, a globally renowned Science journal, ranked Panjab University among top leading Science institutions of India, in its special issue on ‘Science in India’. The Getty Foundation, USA, awarded a conservation planning grant of $1.3 lakh to Gandhi Bhavan, PU, under the initiative “Keeping it Modern”. The university also got an all-weather swimming pool.
Database to nail traffic fine defaulters
Aimed at curbing pendency of challans in local courts and nail those who default on paying fines for long, experts at the Punjab and Haryana high court created a ‘central database’, which contains details of challaned vehicles shared by the Registration and Licensing Authority, the Chandigarh traffic police and the district courts.
Trade and development
The two-day 2nd Progressive Punjab Investors’ Summit saw industry tycoons descend on SAS Nagar and discuss investment in agro and food processing, life sciences, healthcare, manufacturing, education, IT, renewable energy and tourism sectors. With the summit being held in SAS Nagar, the town got a boost in the form of upgraded infrastructure.
Chandigarh got 5 police stations and a woman police station
Twenty years after the last police station was opened in the Industry Area of the city in 1995, the UT police inaugurated five new police stations. The stations were opened at Sarangpur, Mauli Jagran, Maloya, Sector 49, and IT Park. A woman police station was set up at Sector 17.
Four-laning of highway to Yamunanagar
The National Wildlife Board solved the biggest hurdle in the four-laning of the Panchkula-Yamunanagar highway, a death trap of sorts, by allowing diversion of 3.6 hectare of the forest land from Khol-Hi-Raitan Wildlife Sanctuary. The board also allowed diversion of 29 hectares of non-forest land falling within 10km of the sanctuary, an eco-sensitive zone.
Closer to heritage status
The member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which reviews buildings on behalf of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), inspected the Capitol Complex for granting of heritage status. The UT administration gave a detailed presentation to the expert about the management and monitoring strategy for the buildings in the coming years. The buildings at the Capitol Complex include the Punjab and Haryana high court, secretariats and legislative assemblies. The final result is expected by March 2016.
24X7 water supply at Mauli Jagran
In July this year, the municipal corporation started round-the-clock supply of water to Mauli Jagran. The civic body adopted the concept after it was discussed during a national level seminar held in Ahmedabad. Afternoon water supply was also resorted at Industrial Area, Phase 2.
Mann hopes to be third time lucky
Twenty-five-year-old Mohali-based cricketer Gurkeerat Singh Mann first hogged the limelight when he was picked in the ODI side to take on South Africa but didn’t get a single match. He was later drafted in the Test squad also against the visiting Proteas but once again failed to make the cut in the playing XI. The middle order batsman has now been named in the ODI squad headed for short Australia tour involving five one-day matches and three T20 matches.
Sippy murder case: Unsolved
Thirty-six-year-old lawyer Sukhmanpreet Singh Talwandi, alias Sippy Sidhu, was allegedly shot dead in a park at Sector 27 in Chandigarh on September 20. Police worked on various theories, such as financial dispute and failed relationships, and moved an application for lie-detection test of the suspect, the daughter of a Punjab and Haryana high court judge. Family of the national-level shooter Sippy has all along been claiming that the Chandigarh police is conducting a shoddy probe.
Zulfiqar Khan sodomy case
The Tricity was left shocked after child rights activist and director of Theatre Age, 54 - year - old Zulfiqar Khan, was arrested for allegedly sodomising his students. Acting on a complaint by Kanwarpal, Khan’s former student-cum-associate, a case was registered. Khan was booked on charges of unnatural sex, criminal intimidation and sale of obscene objects to young persons, besides the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. He is presently in Burail Jail, Chandigarh.
Jail break case: Jagtar Singh Tara arrested
Chief of militant outfit Babbar Khalsa International, Jagtar Singh Tara, 42, was arrested from Thailand in January, 11 years after he escaped from the Burail jail. Tara was chargesheeted for attempt to wage a war against the Government of India. Police said one of Tara’s aides arrested by Punjab Police had revealed that Tara was trained in subversive activities by Pakistan intelligence agency, ISI.
PU Pension Cell scam
A major scam came to fore at the Panjab University Pension Cell when financial bungling of more than `2 crore was exposed, leading to the arrest of two varsity employees, daily-wage clerk Pooja Bagga and superintendent Naresh Sabharwal. Eight people, including Bagga’s husband, and other members of her family were arrested and later released on bail. Role of various other officials employed with the PU, including finance development officer Vikram Nayyar, was also under scanner.
Firing at discotheque
A group of four youths fired indiscriminately at people, leaving three injured outside the Score discotheque at Sector 8 in Chandigarh on June 1. CCTV footage recorded between 2:09am and 2:12am that day showed at least nine bullets being fired by the youths after they were refused drinks by the discotheque employees as the commercial establishment was closing for the night. Three people were arrested, but the main accused is still at large.
Three engineering students killed in road accident
Three teenagers were killed and two others were injured seriously after the rear tyre of their speeding Honda City car burst while returning from the PEC Fest on November 1. The vehicle rammed into a tree before getting tossed into the air on the Nayagaon-Khuda Alisher road.
Truck runs over 8 sleeping labourers, five killed
The labourers, four from Rajasthan and one from Uttar Pradesh, were killed after a drunk driver ran over his truck on them as they slept on a roadside near the Transport Light Point, Sector 26, Chandigarh, around 1am. Some of the labourers had earlier entered into a scuffle with the truck driver after they objected to his urinating near a place where they were having dinner. On August 22, the driver, Sarma Chaudhary, who hails from a remote district in Bihar, was arrested.
School bus conductor held for molestation
The driver allegedly molested a five-year-old girl, a student of LKG at Stepping Stone School, Sector 38, on May 13. The accused, 22-year-old Jagjeet Singh, a resident of Mullanpur, was arrested.
22-year-old woman shot dead in SAS Nagar market
Amandeep Kaur, who hailed from Ferozepur, was staying as a paying guest at Phase 5, SAS Nagar. Gurmeet Singh, alias Gora, a man whose marriage proposal Kaur had rejected, pumped three bullets into her. The court later in September sentenced Gurmeet, a resident of Razzowala village in Ferozepur, for life. The co-accused, whose .32-bore revolver and bullets were used in the crime, was awarded three-year jail along with a fine of Rs 5,000.
Fatal race on Zirakpur flyover
Two people were killed on February 6 after a speeding Pajero and an Hyundai i20 car, both racing towards Dera Bassi from Chandigarh landed on the opposite lane of the flyover after hitting the divider. The cars rammed into three other vehicles killing two and injuring eight. Both vehicles collided with another i20 car, a motorcycle and an auto-rickshaw coming from Dera Bassi on the other lane of the flyover.
Armed men loot ATM cash van
In a daring robbery, a group of 10 armed men looted a cash van containing Rs 1.34 crore after attacking its five occupants with chilli powder near Sector 85 in SAS Nagar on March 9. However, failing to get the keys of the cash locker, the men drove away in the van and also their SUV, while taking along the security guards’ weapons. The police later arrested a 35-year-old engineer and an IAS aspirant along with eight others.
EWS scam exposed in schools
Casting doubts over the authenticity of admissions under the EWS (economically weaker section) quota as per the RTE act, a few local school principals filed complaints against tehsildars for forging documents in order to get a seat under EWS in July. The UT education department and the estate office sprung into action and notices were initially issued to 21 schools for not enrolling the prescriber percentage of students under EWS. Later, 54 more schools were also served a notice.
Sewer men death in Sector 47
On May 30, three workers died due to suffocation while cleaning a municipal corporation’s sewer line in Sector 47. The trio were employees of a private contractor hired by the MC for the task of cleaning the sewer lines. They entered the sewer line, one after another, through a 25-foot-deep manhole, using a ladder. City mayor announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh each to families of the three victims.
Robbery at gunpoint
In broad daylight, four armed men allegedly robbed Rs 7.48 lakh from three employees of Amartex, a textile manufacturing and trading company, near a private school in Sector 14, Panchkula, on January 13. In a similar incident, a Sector 17 resident was shot at and robbed of Rs 9.8 lakh on March 30 in Sector 8, Panchkula. Three accused were arrested in September.
Twin Cylinder blast at Pinjore
As many as 10 people died in two cylinder blasts at Himshikha Colony in Pinjore on November 10. Six houses were gutted and more than 35 people were injured. Four of those killed were from a single family. The vicitms had died during treatent for burns over a period of time after the accident.
PU grants pending
Despite several protests by the Panjab University teachers association, the university has so far been denied grants by the University Grants Commission. The grants have been pending since April, due to which the varsity struggled in paying its teachers.