|Monday, January 31, 2000,
to contest 61 seats, BJP 29
Haryana third front a nonstarter
Chautala kicks off campaign
Bitterness over Gurgaon seat
CPI releases list of nominees
SAD to go it alone in Haryana
'Anti-farmer' policies CPM poll
Vajpayee incompetent PM: Bansi
Chautala, brother may
lock horns in Rori
Jats asked not to vote for BJP
Dalal denies report
Call to save
Polluted runs the Yamuna
NDRI plans model dairy villages
5 of family booked for beating
Pay penalty, says consumer forum
Pensioners seek better treatment
Rly authorities review safety
INLD to contest 61 seats, BJP
NEW DELHI, Jan 30 The Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the BJP tonight formally announced an electoral pact under which the former will contest 61 assembly constituencies and the latter remaining 29 in the elections to the 90-member Haryana Assembly next month.
The announcement was made here tonight at a joint press conference by Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and BJP state unit chief Om Prakash Grover.
Mr Chautala, who is also the President of the INLD, said that there was no disagreement on the number of seats and the decision was taken on candidates merit and winnability.
The BJP, which had released its first list of 24 candidates, will also field its nominees from Rewari, Rohtak, Jind, Adampur and Bawani Khera.
Mr Chautala said while there had been a broad agreement on the constituencies there was a possibility of exchange while the number remains the same.
"The seats can be exchanged and even the candidates announced by the INLD can be changed," Mr Chautala said.
The Haryana Chief Minister said there was no intervention by the BJPs central leadership and that the constituencies were allocated jointly by him and Mr Grover.
Asked if the bargaining and bickering over the number of seats would affect the combines chances, he said in his opinion both political parties had emerged stronger.
He took a dig at the Congress when without referring to it said while the INLD-BJP had announced major portion of their candidates, their opponents had yet to enter the electoral fray.
Asked if the INLD-BJP would accommodate the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Mr Chautala said the matter would be sorted out after talking to the SAD leadership.
To another question as to what prompted him to contest from two constituencies, Mr Chautala said he was under pressure from his supporters and if need be he could contest from a third constituency.
Mr Grover announced that he was not contesting the elections.
Earlier, the BJP announced 24 candidates for the Haryana Assembly poll which includes the state leader Mr Ram Bilas Sharma from Mahendragarh.
With this the INLD-BJP have so far announced the candidates for 77 of the 90 Assembly constituencies, with the former fielding 53 and the latter 24.
The party has decided to field Mr Satish Kalra from Karnal which was earlier represented by Mr Brij Sharma; Mr Tilak Raj from Gurgaon, a seat held earlier by Mr Sitaram Singla. Similarly, Mr Jagdish Chopra has been given a ticket from Sirsa, earlier held by Mr Ganeshi Lal, a minister in the Bansi Lal government.
Following is the list of
other candidates: Mr Shyamlal Bansal (Kalka), Ms Veena
Chibber (Ambala city), Mr K.D. Sharma (Ambala
cantonment), Mr Rameshwar Chauhan (Jagadhari), Mr
Kawarpal Singh (Chachrouli), Ms Kamala Verma
(Yamunanagar), Vaid Kapoor Chand (Shahabad), Dr Manohar
Lal Suneja (Panipat), Mr Devidas (Sonepat), Mr Munish
Grover (Rohtak), Ms Sarita Narain (Kalanaur-SC), Mr Chand
Ram (Jhajjar-SC), Mr Chandra Bhatia (Faridabad), Kawar
Surajpal (Taoru), Mr Kailash Sharma (Narnaul), Lt-Gen
O.P. Kaushik (retd) (Bhiwani), Mr Kamal Gupta (Hisar), Mr
Ram Kumar Gautam (Narnaul) and Mr Randhir Golan (Pundri).
Haryana third front a nonstarter
KARNAL, Jan 30 The proposed third front has so far failed to take off in the state. Moreover keeping in mind the present trend among political parties in the state the formation of such a front seems more unlikely.
However leaders of the Sarab Hind Akali Dal and the Bhartiya Kisan Union are making all out efforts but success has eluded them so far. The partners of the proposed front have drifted apart and some of them have already announced their candidates for the forthcoming Assembly election. Prominent among these are the CPI, CPM, Haryana Pradesh Nationalist Congress Party, the Samajwadi Party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and some others groups.
In the first instance, the idea to float a third political front was mooted by the two communist parties and some organisations of the employees. The B.K.U. also jumped into the fray after its disenchantment with the Chief Minister. Mr Om Prakash Chautala. Later on the SHSAD led by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, also declared its intention to join the third front in order to make its presence felt in Haryana. Parties like the Samajwadi Janata Party of Mr Chander Sekhar and the Rashtriya Janata Dal which have no political base in Haryana too joined the bandwagon.
The first meeting of the proposed front was held in Panipat and the second in Kurukshetra to finalise the modalities. But the CPI, CPM and the Haryana Pradesh Nationalist Congress Party did not attend the third meeting held in Panipat on January 26, both the CPI, and CPM. Consequently, the SHSAD and the B.K.U. were left high and dry. To cap it all both the left parties and the Nationalist Congress Party also announced their candidates for various seats.
The CPI and CPM have entered into a poll alliance and reached an agreement to contest 25 seats in the state. Both the parties would campaign jointly for the coming elections. The CPI would field its candidates from Narwana, Shahbad, Pehowa, Rori, Sirsa, Sadhaura, Indiri, Ellanabad, Neolatha, Ballabhgarh, Radaur, Jundla, Assandh, Ratia and Panipat. The CPM candidates would contest 10 seats, including Julana and Jind district. So the parting of ways for these two parties with the front is almost complete.
Similarly, the Haryana Pradesh Nationalist Congress Party has already declared its candidates for 17 seats. These include Indiri, Hasangarh, Naggal, Kaithal, Hisar, Mullana, Sonepat, Nuh, Sirsa, Rai, Yamuna Nagar, Jagadhari, Ambala Cantt, Thanesar, Bhiwani, Gurgaon and Kailana. Mr Sharad Pawar and Mr Tariq Anwar launched the poll campaign of the party from Indiri two days ago. Like wise, the top leaders of the CPI, Mr A.B. Vardhan, Mr Atul Kumar and Mr Bhaura are likely to launch the CPI's campaign in the state soon.
The indications are that the BKU would also lend support now to independent candidates. These candidates would be chosen by panchayat of the BKU in different constituencies.
This leaves only the
SHSAD to try once again to forge a political alliance in
the state. Its General Secretary, Mr Prem Singh
Chandumajra, has already said the next meeting of the
proposed front would be held on February 1.
Chautala kicks off campaign
REWARI, Jan 30 The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, formally launched the election campaign of his party, addressing a rally at Ramlila Grounds here yesterday.
He announced the candidature of Dr M.L. Ranga from Bawal and the Haryana Transport Minister, Mr Jagdish Yadav, from Jatusana. Both filed their nominations after the rally.
Mr Chautala ridiculed the various allegations levelled against him by Mr Bhajan Lal and Mr Bansi Lal. He called upon the people to defeat such "opportunistic forces" by voting en bloc for his candidates at the hustings.
NARNAUL: The former Haryana Education Minister, Mr Ram Bilas Sharma, has filed his nomination papers as the BJP candidate from the Mahendragarh Assembly seat, setting aside all speculation.
According to the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Electoral Officer, Mr R.R. Jowal, venues for election meetings have been decided. These are Subji Mandi and ITI Grounds, Mahendragarh, Subhash Park, Kanina, Anaj Mandi, Ateli Panchayat samiti premises, Nangal Chaudhary, Anad Chowk, Narnaul.
ROHTAK: Resentment prevails among supporters of the local BJP leader, Mr Sunder Lal Sethi, over the denial of ticket to him for the Rohtak Assembly seat.
According to party sources, a meeting of Mr Sethi's supporters was held on Sunday. It was claimed that since Mr Sethi was a senior leader and had been actively associated with the BJP and the Sangh activities for the past several years, giving ticket to a candidate junior to him was not in the interests of the party.
Bitterness over Gurgaon seat
GURGAON, Jan 30 Although the Gurgaon assembly seat has been allotted to the BJP under the seat-sharing arrangement of the INLD-BJP alliance for the ensuing elections, the district president of the INLD, Mr Gopi Chand Gehlot, yesterday filed his nomination papers from the constituency.
In another development, a heavyweight of the Haryana unit of the BJP, Mr Sitaram Singla, told TNS that the Central leadership of his party had accepted his request not to field him for the Gurgaon seat. Mr Tilak Raj Swaranka, a senior functionary of the RSS, has been chosen as the candidate.
He further said that the leader of the BJP in the dissolved assembly, Prof Ram Bilas Sharma, and the state general secretary of the party, Mr Kailas Sharma, will contest from Mahendragarh and Narnaul, respectively.
Mr Gehlot filed his nomination papers for the Gurgaon assembly seat in the midst of a public rally organised here by the district unit of the INLD. He filed his nomination papers in the presence of a large number of party workers, about an hour before the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala arrived here after addressing public meetings in Narnaul and Rewari.
INLD leaders used the occasion to impress upon Mr Chautala the popularity of the party. Mr Chautala evaded repeated demands from the audiences to give the party ticket to Mr Gehlot.
Mr Gehlot added to the confusion over this seat by publicly telling his party workers of for after the rally that the scenario about the Gurgaon seat would become clear only by February 3.
The development has visibly irked the BJP.
Addressing the rally, Mr Chautala said that the state would be witnessing its first mid-term assembly elections. He urged the people to vote for his partys symbol the spectacle in this constituency.
CPI releases list of
SONEPAT, Jan 30 The Haryana State Council of the CPI today released the first list of eight candidates for the coming Haryana Vidhan Sabha elections and announced that the CPM would extend support to its nominees.
According to a press note issued by the party, Mr Zile Singh Pal would contest from Indiri, Mr Mr Krishan Lal from Asandh, Mr Faqir Chand from Sadhaura, Mr Narain Prasad from Ballabhgarh, Mr Sewa Singh Malik from Panipat, Mr Daya Singh from Naultha, Mr Pawan Kumar Sharma, would be the candidate from Narwana and Mr Ram Kumar Uplana would contest from Jundla.
The second list of nominees for the Shahbad Markanda, Sirsa, Ellanabad, Rohri, Ratia and Tohana assembly constituencies would be released tomorrow, the note said.
Mr Raghbir Singh Chaudhary, secretary of the state council, told mediapersons here today that the party had already constituted a five-member Election Campaign Committee, headed by Mr Daryao Singh Kashyap, a senior leader and it would coordinate with the CPM leaders during the elections.
The main aim of the party, he said, was to give a crushing defeat to the INLD-BJP alliance as it was encouraging the forces of communalism in the state.
Meanwhile, the Haryana Shiv Sena has decided to field candidates in all 90 seats.
INLD releases another list
NEW DELHI, Jan 30 The Indian National Lok Dal today released its second list of candidates for the Haryana Assembly poll. It includes Mrs Promilla Barwala, wife of party MP, Mr Surender Singh Barwala.
While she will contest from Barwala Assembly constituency, the party has decided to field former Minister Lila Krishan Mehta from Fatehabad, Mr Bhag Chand Chhattar, Chairman of the Jind Zila Parishad from Uchana and Mr Madan Lal Gujjar, Vice-Chairman of the Jind Zila Parishad from Sohna, a party release said here.
SAD to go it alone in
AMBALA, Jan 30 The SAD has decided to contest the Haryana Assembly poll on its own. The president of the state unit of the SAD, Mr Sukhdev Singh Gobindgarh, disclosed this here today. He said a decision to this effect was taken at an emergency meeting held at Punjab Bhavan, Delhi, last night.
He said his party had decided to field candidates from Ambala City, Jagadhri, Shahbad, Faridabad, Chhachhroli, Yamunanagar, Panipat, Indri, Karnal and Kaithal and the list of candidates for other Assembly seats would be released within a day or two.
Bibi Kartar Kaur,
member, SGPC, and president of the women cell, SAD,
Haryana, said the party had no option but to contest the
Assembly election on its own. She said they had to take
this decision as they were not getting any proper and
clear response from the BJP and INLD leadership regarding
the sharing of seats.
Chautala, brother may lock horns
SIRSA, Jan 30 Battle "royal" is almost certain in Rori Vidhan Sabha segment in the district as the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, has already filed his nomination from this constituency and today his younger brother, Ranjeet Singh gave a clear indication of his being the Congress candidate from this area.
Mr Ranjeet Singh, who had been in Delhi since January 13, visited his Sirsa residence today and called upon his supporters to be present in full strength on February 3 when he will file his nomination.
While talking to the mediapersons Mr Ranjeet Singh said the forth coming Vidhan Sabha elections would prove that the grassroot support for the Congress had increased substantially after unity in the state leadership.
When asked what would he do if his father asked him to withdraw his name, Mr Ranjeet Singh said he had joined the Congress after taking his father's blessings and had requested him not to intervene in his political matters. Therefore, his father would not ask him for such a thing.
ROHTAK, Jan 30 The Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (HPCC) President, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has said the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and the (BJP) are aligning with each other only for the purpose of capturing power in the state.
In a statement here today, Mr Hooda dubbed the INLD-BJP alliance for the Assembly elections in the state as "opportunistic and unholy" and added that the two alliance partners were not concerned about the welfare of the people. He said the two parties did not have a common agenda and their leaders had no similarity of views.
While commenting on the ongoing tussle between the BJP and INLD over the sharing of seats, Mr Hooda said this was bound to happen as the aim of both the parties was to corner as many seats as possible. He alleged that the alliance leaders were trying to misguide the voters for political gains.
Mr Hooda questioned the legitimacy of the INLD-BJP alliance while referring to the reported distrust and lack of mutual understanding among the leaders of the two parties.
Jats asked not to vote for
KAITHAL, Jan 30 Mr Amir Singh, President, Akhil Bharatiya Jat Mahasabha, gave a call to his community not to support BJP candidates in the coming Assembly elections. He was addressing a gathering at a function organised by the Jat Sabha, Kaithal, here today.
He said the State BJP President, Mr O.P. Grover, had opposed reservation to Jats hence, they should not extend support to the BJP.
He criticised the central BJP leadership for not giving adequate representation to the Jats in the Central Government.
Earlier, Mr Amir Singh unveiled a statue of Sir Chhotu Ram at the Kurukshetra road crossing, which was to be unveiled by Mr Vishvender Singh, MP, Bharatpur (Rajasthan), who could not come.
Addressing the Jat Sabha sammelan in Ghasi, Mr Ram Nain, President, BKU, Haryana, expressed concern at the "continued exploitation" of farmers by successive governments.
He said the cost of agricultural inputs was being increased but without any corresponding increase in the prices of the agricultural produce.
Dalal denies report
CHANDIGARH, Jan 30 A former Haryana minister, Mr Karan Singh Dalal, today denied that he was planning to contest the Palwal Assembly seat as an Independent candidate.
Reacting sharply to a report published in a section of the press, Mr Dalal, who joined the BJP after quitting the HVP last year, said he was a disciplined soldier of the party and would abide by its decision.
Call to save
JIND, Jan 30 Mr Ram Raj, Chairman, All-India Confederation of Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Organisations, opposed the review of the Constitution. He said the leaders of some political parties were trying to change the Constitution under the pretext of reviewing it. Mr Ram Raj was speaking at an "aarakshan bachao" rally held here today. He said so far the Constitution has not been enforced completely and, therefore, the move to change it was not right.
Mr Ram Raj said the confederation agreed with the views of Mr K.R. Narayanan, President of India, on the issue. He said Dalits would be greatly harmed if the Constitution was changed.
He said in 1997, a Central Government department tried almost to do away with reservation by issuing five "anti-reservation" orders. He said reservation was not alms for the Dalits. On the other hand, it was their constitutional right.
He said the slogan of the confederation was "Save Constitution, save reservation."
Mr Ram Raj alleged that no political party had seriously implemented reservation as a result of which the Dalits had been deprived of full reservation benefits. He said in the coming elections the Dalits would vote only for those parties which promised to enforce the reservation policy in toto.
Mr Ram Raj demanded that all "anti-reservation" orders of the government should be withdrawn and reservation laws be made and included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
Speaking at the rally, Mr Inderjit Singh, state Secretary of the CPM, said reservation was necessary for removing disparities in society. He supported the demands of the confederation.
Among others who
addressed the rally were Mr Maha Singh Bhurania, convener
of the rally, Mr Baljit Rai, convener of the Haryana unit
of the confederation and Mr Parvinder Dharia, a leader of
CPM poll plank
FATEHABAD, Jan 30 The CPM will go to the polls in Haryana on the issues of "anti-farmers" policies of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government at the Centre and the "murder" of democratic norms by the Om Prakash Chautala government.
Talking to mediapersons here today, during his election campaign at Dhangar, Bighar and Ayalki village, Mr Krishan Swaroop, the CPM candidate from the Fatehabad Assembly seat and a member of the state secretariat of the CPM, alleged that the Vajpayee government had proved during its term two years in power that it was against the interests of farmers.
He said the hike in the prices of diesel and urea and the distress sale of paddy and cotton crops by farmers had proved that the Central Government did not care for the farmers.
He said his party would also educate the voters on the evils of privatisation.
The CPM leader said his party would "expose corruption, opportunism, defection and dynastic rule in Haryana" and promised value politics.
He said education, health power, unemployment, water and law and order were issues of public interest ignored by political parties.
He said the problem of water-logging in some parts of the state and drought in others had occurred due to poor water management but no party had cared to set things right. The construction of the SYL canal, he said, was another issue which had been forgotten by the parties.
The CPM leader accused the state government of flouting democratic norm. He said the government had delayed panchayat and municipal elections and thrust upon the people elections to the state Assembly.
Vajpayee incompetent PM: Bansi
AMBALA. Jan 30 Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee is the most incompetent Prime Minister of the country. This was alleged by former Chief Minister, Haryana, Mr Bansi Lal, here today. Mr Vajpayee was not even fit for this post, he added.
Talking to mediapersons, he said the infiltration of intruders in the Kargil sector was a failure of the Union Government and the Prime Minister should own its responsibility. The incident of hijacking an Indian Airlines plane was not tackled in proper manner, he said. The government should have not allowed the plane to take off from Amritsar airport. Moreover, three hard-core extremists should not have been released at any cost.
He said that the bus and train services between India and Pakistan should be cancelled as it had been misused by ISI agents for transporting explosives to India. He added that Pakistan-sponsored terrorists had been openly attacking the posts of BSF and Army in the Indian territory in Jammu and Kashmir.
Replying a question, he said he had nothing to do with the third front. He said SHSAD leader Prem Singh Chandumajra had never talked to him in this regard. He added that the HVP would field candidates in 89 constituencies, baring Ambala Cantonment where it had decided to support the independent candidate Mr Anil Vij the SHSAD chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, had proved better than the present Chief Minister of Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal, he stated.
Criticising Mr Om
Prakash Chautala, Mr Bansi Lal said during the last Lok
Sabha elections, he had promised free power and water but
did nothing in this regard. He was the only Chief
Minister who could provide 24-hour power supply in the
state, he claimed.
Polluted runs the Yamuna
FARIDABAD, Jan 30 The Yamuna water in Faridabad has been heavily polluted by untreated industrial waste which pours into the river, reliable sources said.
According to norms of the Pollution Control Board, the waste should not be more than 3 mg per litre of the BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) and coliforms up to 5000 per ml. But the discharges into the river are much more than the permissible limits.
Faridabad has a large number of dyeing and electro-plating units which use various types of chemicals. The effluents from these units are discharged through drains into the Yamuna. A survey has revealed that 244 tonne of garbage per 10 lakh gallons of water had been detected in the Yamuna against the norm of 2 tonne. Most of the units do not have water treatment equipment.
Political interference is coming into the way of the authorities taking any strict action against the polluting industry. The Thermal plant also discharges untreated water into the river.
It is not at Faridabad that the Yamuna gets polluted but it starts from Delhi where at least 10 drains discharge sewage and untreated industrial waste into the river.
Alarmed by the high pollution level in the Yamuna the Supreme Court on Tuesday banned the discharge of untreated industrial waste into the river in Delhi and Haryana.
A Division Bench of the
apex court passed the order applicable to all industries
in Delhi and Haryana on the basis of the report of the
Central Pollution Control Board. It was also directed to
file fresh report on the river pollution to the court on
NDRI plans model dairy
KARNAL, Jan 30 The National Dairy Research Institute (NDRI) will create model dairy village around Karnal. This was stated by Dr B.N. Mathur, Director NDRI, while addressing dairy farmers and farm women at a calf rally at, Kulwahri village, yesterday. The rally was organised by the dairy extension division of the institute.
While declaring that Kulwahri would be made a model dairy village, Dr Mathur stated that dairy farming would be the core activity. It would co-exist with crop farming in the mixed farming system.
The Director said the supply of scientific, technical and infrastructural inputs to the village would be geared up. He further stated that the Krishi Vigyan Kendra of the institute would organised special training programmes on promoting scientific dairy farming. For this, the needs of the farmers would be assessed by scientists of the extension division.
Dr Mathur stressed the need for strengthening the existing linkages between the research institute and the farmers at the other end to use dairy technologies.
5 of family booked for
SIRSA, Jan 30 Five persons of a family, including the husband, were booked for beating a pregnant woman for dowry.
According to police spokesman, Darshana of Takhatmal village, who is married to Baldev of Sandoha village had lodged a complaint with the police alleging that she was tortured by her husband and in-laws for dowry. She was later turned out of the house when she was pregnant.
On her complaint a case under Sections 498-A, 406, 504, 506, 148, and 149, IPC.
Meanwhile, the district
police chief has issued a warning against any violation
of Section 144. He said all sensitive polling booths had
been identified for which special arrangements were being
made to ensure peace during the coming Vidhan Sabha
elections. He stated that directions had been issued to
all SHOs regarding this.
Pay penalty, says consumer
SIRSA, Jan 30 In an important decision, the District Consumer Forum, Sirsa, directed the local Electricity Department to pay Rs 16000 as penalty along with 12 per cent interest on the electricity bills to a complainant.
According to information received yesterday Amar Singh of village Makho Sarani had lodged a complaint with the forum, saying that due to a cable damage, power connection to his tubewell was shaped in June, 1997, and nine complaints were made in this connection within one year but to no avail. However, he had to pay the electricity bills for the period regularly.
On the basis of
witnesses and records, the forum found the employees and
officers accountable for the lapses. Taking a serious
view of the same directions were issued to the
Electricity Department to pay the penalty along with
interest on the bills for 10 months to be paid out of the
salaries of the guilty.
Pensioners seek better treatment
AMBALA, Jan 30 The Northern Railway Pensioners Forum Ambala today celebrated pensioners day.
The legacy of British rule to treat pension as a bounty continued till the early 80s. The pensioners deserved better treatment, the President of NRPFA, Mr G. B. Dass, said while talking to newspersons.
They had been running from pillar to post, but to no avail. A landmark judgement pronounced by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court of India on December 17, 1982, in the famous case of D S Nakra and others versus Union of India on a writ petition came to their rescue, he said.
Mr Dass said the government had given the following facilities to pensioners for negotiation standing committee of voluntary agency, SCOVA and pension adalat.
He said 12 non-official members are nominated by the President of India for SCOVA. "The meeting of SCOVA is held every three months for retirees of all departments," he said.
Mr Dass said pension adalat is held once in a year in December. "The Railway Board has ordered that it should be held every four months. These orders should be implemented," he said.
Previously, Ambala Division was part of Delhi Division. The records of most retirees are still with the Delhi Division. The pension of retirees' widows of Ambala whose record is in Delhi, has not been revised even after two years. The target date was 180 days, the General Secretary of the forum, Mr Jaswant Mahajan, said.
Another problem is that
the Ministry of Railways liberalised the existing medical
facilities by asking pensioners to deposit the one month
pay of a retiree last drawn at the time of retirement.
However, the pensioners joining this scheme after January
1, 1996, have been asked to deposit double the amount of
pension fixed from January 1, 1996. This means that every
retiree will have to deposit about Rs 10,000 to renew his
medical card. Poor pensioners would be deprived of
medical facilities, because they cannot deposit this huge
amount, Mr Mahajan added.
Rly authorities review
AMBALA, Jan 30 The accident at the unmanned level crossing No C-27, near Malaut, on Friday in which six schoolchildren were killed has forced the Ambala Railway Division authorities to review the safety measures taken at the unmanned crossings. There are around 345 manned and 300 unmanned crossings in Ambala division. As many as 60 per cent of the unmanned crossings fall in Punjab, mostly in the rural area.
The conversion of an unmanned crossing into manned crossing costs about Rs 6 lakh. The recurring expenses, including the salary of the gate men and other maintenance expenses, amount to Rs 2 lakh per annum.
According to a senior officer of the division, there is a proposal to convert at least half a dozen unmanned crossings into manned ones during the current year. Out of these, three crossings fall on the Kalka-Chandigarh rail section.
According to a railway survey report, the main cause of accidents at unmanned crossings is impatient driving. Generally, two-wheeler drivers and the pedestrians hardly care for the closed gate and cross the line through under the gate barricades. The death toll at the manned crossings is not less than that at unmanned crossings.
The survey also found that the number of accidents of four-wheelers is higher than of two wheelers at unmanned crossings.
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