• One fails to understand why the Chandigarh Administration wants to maintain a veil of secrecy and continue to spoon-feed the Media on such simple issues as proceedings of the Advisory Council of the UT Administrator? On the one hand it talks of progressive, participative and transparent governance and on the other it is shying away from allowing the Media to cover such meetings held with the motive of improving the administration of the Union Territory.

 A question was put to UT Home Secretary Anurag Aggarwal on Wednesday in a media briefing organised at UT Guest House, after the third meeting of the Administrator’s Advisory Council held in Hotel Mountview, as to why the media was not invited to cover the proceedings, when all assembly sessions, court proceedings and even meetings of the Panjab University Senate are open to media glare. Though agreeing to consider the issue, and promising to take it up with the UT Administrator, he explained that the assembly and MC House proceedings were purely political in nature, whereas the advisory council meeting was more of an administrative consultative process.

Photos By : Life In Chandigarh

Aggarwal gave out sketchy details of the proceedings, and promised to share with the Media all the power point presentations of reports presented in the meeting by the nine subject wise committees formed by the Administrator, which were later duly emailed. The Media had to make do with his version of the tone and tenor of the meeting, which he described as highly interactive, held in a most cordial atmosphere and appreciated by one and all.

While 10 minute presentations were made personally by chairpersons of respective committees, and another 10 minutes were taken up by discussion on each subject, it was agreed that another committee should be formed on Social Welfare, an important subject which did not find place in any of the other committees. The Administrator directed the official concerned to start implementing all recommendations which could be taken up immediately and work expeditiously on matters which required further deliberations, the Home Secretary added.

The subject wise committees covered Education, Health, Environment, Law and Order, Transport, Traffic Management, Existing Urban Infrastructure and Reformative Needs of Next Two Decades, Urban Planning and Heritage Preservation and Sports.

A quick run through the various PPTs gave one the impression that despite the committees given adequate time to study issues in their respective subjects, the interim recommendations of most of the committees appeared to be too general and sketchy and lacked a clear vision for the future. No out of box thinking as one would expect at the level of an advisory council.

The lengthy presentation on Education, for example, concentrated more on reeling out government figures than on its observations and recommendations. The committee on education raised the issue of direct recruitment of school heads, fee regulation in private unaided schools and self defence training for girl students. It recommended review of no detention system in schools, providing seat reservation for single girl child at secondary and senior secondary level and categorisation of private unaided schools.

The one on Urban Infrastructure suggested that the authorities prescribe a standard design of kiosks for licensed street vendors.

The panel on Environment pushed for early implementation of the segregation of waste at source, which had got stuck, greater focus on disposal of electronic waste, improvement in treatment of tertiary water to remove the bad odour which emanates from it, mentioning permissible decibel level in permission for use of loud speakers and DJ systems and time bound switchover of public transport to more environment friendly CNG.

The Health committee advocated reintroduction of the morning and afternoon OPD timings in government dispensaries. It also wanted the possibility to be explored of outsourcing the running of dispensaries to NGOs to provide round the clock health services.

The panel on Urban Planning opposed the floor wise sale of houses (apartments) while the Law and Order committee sought improvement in the ground level policing, verification of new people coming and setting up base in the Union Territory and installation  of more CCTV cameras at vulnerable points.