SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
D E L H I   A N D   N E I G H B O U R H O O D

Good year ahead for MCD schools
l CCTV cameras to keep check on absenteeism, molestation by teachers
l Private players for sanitation work
l Rs 300 hike in studentsí fund for books 
and uniforms
New Delhi, January 4

The year 2011-12 has something good in store for the municipal schools of the city and the students studying there.

A labourer protects her child from the intense cold in New Delhi on Tuesday. Temp dips to 3.7į
New Delhi, January 4
The national Capital today shivered on the coldest day of the season, so far, as icy winds led both-- day and night temperatures-to drop to the season's lowest. "Today's maximum and minimum temperatures are the lowest for this season so far. It was the coldest day of the season," an Indian Metrological Department (IMD) official said.
A labourer protects her child from the intense cold in New Delhi on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui


EARLIER STORIES

5 choke to death in house fire
Ghaziabad, January 4
Five members of a family choked to death when their house at Chaman Colony in Ghaziabad caught fire around 2 am today.

DU exams kick off on a mixed note
New Delhi, January 4
After the winter break as the semester exams kick off at Delhi University today, students walking out of the examination halls had a mixed response when asked how they felt about finally getting started with examinations, after such hue and cry.

A child along with her mother sees partial solar eclipse at Nehru Planetarium in New Delhi on Tuesday. Partial solar eclipse in Delhi, clouds play spoilsport
New Delhi, January 4
This year's first partial solar eclipse occurred today, but extreme cold weather spoiled its visibility from the capital.


A child along with her mother sees partial solar eclipse at Nehru Planetarium in New Delhi on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Manas Ranjan Bhui

Budget discussion: Cong criticises MCD on property tax hike
New Delhi, January 4
The Congress, which is the opposition party in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), while initiating the budget discussion today opposed the proposed increase in property tax rates, terming it an additional economic burden.

Allot 15,000 low-cost flats to slum dwellers: CM
New Delhi, January 4
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit issued instructions to the department concerned at a meeting of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) today to initiate process of allotment of low-cost houses built under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) Scheme.

Maken apologises for poster hurting Sikh sentiments
Activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) protest against Union minister Ajay Maken in New Delhi on Wednesday. New Delhi, January 4
The president of the Delhi unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Manjeet Singh (GK) today said that Union minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken has apologised for his posters that show him standing beside a photo of Guru Gobind Singh with his shoes on.


Activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) protest against Union minister Ajay Maken in New Delhi on Wednesday. Tribune photo: Mukesh Aggarwal

Haryana Cong ministerís kin beats man
Cops initially refused to lodge complaint
Faridabad, January 4
Politicians of the ruling Congress Party and their kin appear to have become a threat to the lives and property of the common man. The police, in turn, appears to be treating them with a velvet glove.

1 arrested in gangrape case
New Delhi, January 4
Officials of the North District police have arrested a 24-year-old man allegedly involved in a gangrape case and absconding since last one year. According to the police, Mukesh, a resident of Indra Camp, Kalyan Puri, was evading arrest for more than one year and had been declared a proclaimed offender by various courts in, at least, six cases.

Drive against power theft begins
New Delhi, January 4
A campaign against the illegal electroplating factories in narrow lanes of Daryagunj, which pose a great threat to public life, has been initiated by the power distribution company BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL).

Two held for murder
New Delhi, January 4
The Delhi police has arrested two persons - a tabla master and his teenaged cousin-- for allegedly murdering their friend on the New Year eve in West Delhi.

4 held with stolen laptop bags
New Delhi, January 4
Alipur police station sleuths have arrested four persons with around 350 laptop bags stolen from a godown in Alipur.





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Good year ahead for MCD schools
l CCTV cameras to keep check on absenteeism, molestation by teachers
l Private players for sanitation work
l Rs 300 hike in studentsí fund for books and uniforms
Himani Chandel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The year 2011-12 has something good in store for the municipal schools of the city and the students studying there.

From improved infrastructure to a safe and secure environment, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has worked out several measures to be implemented in all its schools this year.

With the rise in the cases of teachers missing classes and incidents of molestation of students by them, the corporation will install CCTV cameras in the schools. This will enable the MCD to keep a close tab on the activities in the classrooms. The CCTVs will be connected with the control room through computers placed in the education department.

"Teachers generally skip classes and there is no mechanism to check this. Therefore, installing CCTVs will help us keep a record of the performance of the teachers. Also, if any suspected activity takes place in the classrooms or on the premises, it can be checked immediately," said Mahender Nagpal, chairman, education committee, MCD.

To begin with, the MCD will install cameras in 70 schools which are situated near the Delhi borders where teachers come from neighbouring states. The civic agency has set a budget of Rs 50 lakh for the entire project.

Apart from this, the MCD has also decided to privatise sanitation work in the schools.

The private players will takeover the sanitation work of the schools identified by the MCD from the coming academic year. An amount of Rs 50 lakh has been allocated for the purpose.

In order to encourage more children to join schools and also check the dropout rate, the corporation has decided to give Rs 500 to every child studying in municipal schools, including nursery students, to buy school uniforms from next financial year.

The scheme will benefit over 47,000 students. Earlier, the civic agency used to give this money only to students studying in classes I to V. Also, the money given to girl students has been increased from Rs 200 to 500.

The MCD is currently running 1,746 primary schools with an enrolment of nearly 9.5 lakh children. It also runs nursery classes in 923 primary schools along with 33 independent schools with an enrolment of 50,000 children. The civic agency also has 44 aided primary schools and 728 recognised primary schools managed by voluntary organisations.

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Temp dips to 3.7į
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The national Capital today shivered on the coldest day of the season, so far, as icy winds led both-- day and night temperatures-to drop to the season's lowest.

"Today's maximum and minimum temperatures are the lowest for this season so far. It was the coldest day of the season," an Indian Metrological Department (IMD) official said.

With the bone-chilling winds sweeping the city, while the minimum temperature dropped drastically to 3.7 degree Celsius, down from yesterday's 8.2 degrees, the maximum temperature was recorded at 12 degrees, down from yesterday's 14.7 degrees.

For tomorrow, the metrological department has predicted similar weather conditions.

"While the minimum temperature is expected to hover around 4 degree Celsius, the maximum temperature is not likely to go over 15 degrees. The city will see fog tomorrow morning," the official said.

Meanwhile, even though the day began with fog, it did not lead to any diversion or cancellation of flights at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport.

"Fog started to envelope the airport around 3 am and became dense by 6.30 am due to which about 40 flights were delayed. However, there were no diversions or cancellations.

"It is very cold. It seems the winds are piercing the body. I was shivering despite wearing two layers of woolens and a jumpsuit. Absence of sun added to the problem," said Bonny Parera, a city-based website programmer.

Last year, January recorded the lowest minimum temperature of 5.6 degree Celsius in the first week of the year.

In the last decade, only last year, the minimum temperature did not drop below 5 degree Celsius. In 2006, the minimum temperature had dropped to 0.2 degrees on January 8, while two years later, the lowest minimum was 1.9 degrees on January 2.

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5 choke to death in house fire
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, January 4
Five members of a family choked to death when their house at Chaman Colony in Ghaziabad caught fire around 2 am today.

According to senior superintendent of police Raghubir Lal, three of the victims are children. They all died of asphyxiation. They were asleep when the fire broke and so did not get time to come out of house. It appears they were choked to death in sleep."

The deceased were identified as Chaman (35), his wife Nagina (32), daughters-Neha (7), Adia (5) -- and son Ayan (3).

The neighbours of the victims noticed smoke coming out of the house and rushed them to a nearby hospital where they were declared brought dead.

Short-circuit is being seen as the cause of fire. The fire caused dense smoke in the room. As the door was closed, the room became a chamber. The smoke could not get out of the room till it broke a portion of the door.

"We saw the smoke around 4 am," said one of the neighbours of the victims, Ramesh Kumar.

The incident has shaken the colony residents.

"Neha was my best friend. We played together last night before she went to sleep. I never thought I will not meet her again. Her death has shocked me. I will never forget the tragedy," said Diyya (8) one of the residents of the colony.

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DU exams kick off on a mixed note
Jyoti Rai
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
After the winter break as the semester exams kick off at Delhi University today, students walking out of the examination halls had a mixed response when asked how they felt about finally getting started with examinations, after such hue and cry.

While most students said they were more confident in facing the exams after the extended break they got preparations, there were some who were still concerned about the structure of the paper and checking patterns.

The students said with the new schedule, they got more time to prepare for the examinations. They also said the teachers managed to finish the course just in time but the last covered topics were weak.

"To be honest, these exams just feel like any other exams. There is no fundamental difference. But yes, we were definitely less prepared. I am sure that things will get better in the next semester. We and the teachers will both come up with an effective feedback about the shortcomings that can be addressed in the coming semesters. But I am glad that the exams finally began. With the way things were on the last year, we thought we might end with a zero year," said Abhey Gautam, Physics Hons student, Zakir Hussian College. Examiners on exam duty said they tried their best to make the students at ease. Subject teachers were called in for any doubts that students had.

"We had our botany paper today. The paper was definitely not very tough but there were a few portions that we covered in the syllabus in the twelfth hour. So that section for us went weak. I just hope that the checking in the papers is not strict. Some more time for finishing the syllabus in lesser hurry would have been ideal though," said Shirali Chaturvedi, a student of life sciences at Gargi College.

The opposition from the Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) in implementing the semester system had forced the university to postpone the examinations twice. Initially, under the original academic calendar, the exams were scheduled to begin from Nov 20 and then it was postponed to Dec 6.

When the stalemate between the DUTA and the university continued, the court intervened and upheld the implementation of the system.

Since the classes were disrupted due to frequent protests, the university drew out a new schedule so that the teachers and students can complete the syllabus.

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Partial solar eclipse in Delhi, clouds play spoilsport
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
This year's first partial solar eclipse occurred today, but extreme cold weather spoiled its visibility from the capital.

"The eclipse began at 12 noon and ended at 4.31 pm while the eclipse was at its full view at round 2.30 pm. However, the cloudy skies led to restricted visibility that disappointed many who had especially gathered to see the spectacle," said N Rathnasree, Director of Nehru Planetarium.

In Delhi, however, the eclipse started at 3.12 pm, with the peak being at 3.32 pm and ended at 3.52 pm.

"A solar eclipse occurs when the moon lines up between the Sun and the Earth, casting a lunar shadow on the Earth's surface and obscuring the solar disk. During a partial solar eclipse, only part of the sun is blotted out," he explained.

In 2011, a total of six eclipses will occur - four solar and two lunar.

Kumar said a combination of four solar and two lunar eclipses in a single year will occur only six times during the 21st Century.

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Budget discussion: Cong criticises MCD on
property tax hike

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The Congress, which is the opposition party in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), while initiating the budget discussion today opposed the proposed increase in property tax rates, terming it an additional economic burden.

The municipal budget, presented by commissioner K.S. Mehra in December, had proposed a uniform hike of five per cent in the property tax rates.

Criticising the budget, the Leader of Opposition J.K. Sharma alleged that the projects shown in the current budget were a repetition of last year's budget proposal.

Sharma criticised the chairman of the standing committee and BJP councillor Yogender Chandolia for the proposed hike in taxes.

"Rather than raising tax rates, revenue can be increased by properly implementing the provisions of the DMC Act. But this needs honest efforts and the administration does not seem ready for it," he said. The Congress leader said the MCD should identify tax defaulters and bring more properties under the tax net.

"The MCD is getting tax for only 30 per cent of the properties in the city. The hike in property tax rates seems to be an attempt to hide the MCD's failure in bringing to task the defaulters," he said.

Sharma also made several suggestions for increasing revenue and streamlining the work of the MCD.

The government agencies who owe MCD hefty amount of property tax should be asked to make the payment immediately, he said.

Sharma also suggested that concession for timely submission of property tax should be retained at 15 per cent, as a higher concession would lead to loss of revenue.

Sharma also criticised the MCD on the poor condition of its schools.

"Despite making about one-fourth of its expenditure on education, the image of MCD schools is not good. Even after 50 years of its existence, the civic body could not make proper arrangements of power, drinking water or toilets in all its schools," he said. "On the health front, the commissioner spoke of upgrading facilities at several hospitals, but he has actually cut down the allocation of the health department by 33 per cent in comparison to the last year's budget," Sharma rued.

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Allot 15,000 low-cost flats to slum dwellers: CM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit issued instructions to the department concerned at a meeting of the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) today to initiate process of allotment of low-cost houses built under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) Scheme.

At present, 15,000 flats are ready for allotment in the first phase. The Chief Minister stressed upon the need of early allotment as the flats which had been constructed earlier and were lying vacant for many months might be rotten due to non-occupancy. The process of allotment will instil confidence amongst most of the aspirants who are awaiting allotment with the high hopes.

The government is committed to provide low-cost houses to the maximum number of slum dwellers and members of the other weaker sections. The DUSIB has already initiated its exercise to identify eligible applicants by undertaking survey in 46 JJ clusters for relocation.

The board has also been directed to undertake another survey in view of amendment in two crucial eligibility criteria.

In order to expedite the process it has been decided to organise camps in the clusters itself.

Dikshit and Urban Development Minister AK Walia emphasised the need of early allotment and it was decided to start actual allotment before March 2011. The board gave its nod for modification in cut-off date from March 31, 2002 to March 31, 2007. Further, it decided to raise eligibility criteria of annual family income from Rs 60,000 to Rs 1 lakh. JJ dwellers, who have settled in clusters on or prior to March 31, 2007, will now become eligible. However, other conditions will remain same.

Dikshit expressed confidence that the area would be fully developed having parks, civic amenities, few shops for essential commodities, public transport close to the locality, etc.

Dr Walia stated that the board was also planning to construct 10,200 dwelling units in Poot Khurd with an estimated cost of Rs 425 crore for which an implementing agency DSIIDC had also been selected.

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Maken apologises for poster hurting Sikh sentiments
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The president of the Delhi unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Manjeet Singh (GK) today said that Union minister of state for home affairs Ajay Maken has apologised for his posters that show him standing beside a photo of Guru Gobind Singh with his shoes on.

Sikhs got agitated after seeing the posters.

Singh announced about Maken's apology at a dharna. He said Maken apologised on telephone and later issued an apology.

Maken's apology letter said, "Hoardings carrying photographs of Guru Maharaj and myself where I have been shown wearing shoes were not issued by me. Neither was I asked for permission nor was I aware of their existence. Moreover, I did not attend any of the programmes mentioned therein. However, I also intend to put on record my deep felt sense of anguish and remorse, if at all, the depictions in the hoardings have hurt the sentiments of any individual or group."

The letter further said, "My anguish emanates out of my personal as well as my family's long-standing devotion and respect for Sahib Guru Gobind Singh Ji Maharaj as also the entire pantheon of the 10 holy gurus and Guru Granth Sahib Ji. My entire family has been throughout committed towards selflessly working in different gurudwaras of the country."

He appealed to all political functionaries and workers to take care in future to ensure that such a thing did not reoccur. 

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Haryana Cong ministerís kin beats man
Cops initially refused to lodge complaint
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, January 4
Politicians of the ruling Congress Party and their kin appear to have become a threat to the lives and property of the common man. The police, in turn, appears to be treating them with a velvet glove.

A nephew of a minister of Haryana, who also represents an assembly constituency of this district, allegedly beat up a person on the New Year day. The incident occurred near the market of Sainik Colony here.

The victim, R.M.S.Kundu, took up the matter with the SGM Nagar police station, but was allegedly given a short shrift. Consequently, he met the commissioner of police, Faridabad, P.K. Aggarwal, on the same day.

According to Kundu, the commissioner marked his complaint to the police station concerned and also gave the policemen verbal instructions to look into the case. Still, no case was registered. As per his version, the station house officer of the police station misbehaved with him.

The case was finally registered yesterday night when Kundu took up the matter with a very senior police officer. As per the version of Kundu, a nephew of the minister had called and told him that the eldest son of the minister wanted to see him at their under-construction house in Sainik Colony. The call was made around 11 am. Kundu reached the site within few minutes. But while he was parking his scooter, the nephew of the minister allegedly attacked Kundu. The incident happened in front of a large number of people.

According to Kundu, goons of the minister's nephew beat him with sticks and threatened to kill him if he was seen any more in the city.

Incidentally, the victim is a neigbour of the minister in Sainik Colony. Kundu is now nursing his injured legs.

The incident has raised eyebrows in wide-ranging quarters. According to many, the recurrent misdemeanours by the relatives of the politicians are giving a bad name to the party, notwithstanding the decent image of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda.

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1 arrested in gangrape case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
Officials of the North District police have arrested a 24-year-old man allegedly involved in a gangrape case and absconding since last one year. According to the police, Mukesh, a resident of Indra Camp, Kalyan Puri, was evading arrest for more than one year and had been declared a proclaimed offender by various courts in, at least, six cases.

According to SN Yadav, DCP (North), Mukesh was apprehended from the Lahori Gate area after the police learnt about his movement there. During interrogation it was found that Mukesh was a bad character of the Kalyan Puri police station and was absent from the area of his police station for about last two years. He is involved in 12 cases, including attempt to murder, robbery and burglary. Since long he is not attending the court and has been declared proclaimed offender in six cases.

"The most notorious case of gangrape against Mukesh was lodged at the Kalyan Puri police station in October 2009. The accused with his associates Nisar and Sunny abducted one Seema (name changed), a resident of Trilok Puri, while she was returning from her work and was gangraped," said Yadav, adding that Nissar and Sunny were arrested in this case and till date are in judicial custody facing trial, but Mukesh for the last one and half year was evading arrest.

At present, he was staying in School Block Shakar Pur and was not in contact with his near relatives.

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Drive against power theft begins
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
A campaign against the illegal electroplating factories in narrow lanes of Daryagunj, which pose a great threat to public life, has been initiated by the power distribution company BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL).

During the raids carried out in two such illegal factories, the owners found to be cumulatively stealing over 50 kW of electricity by hooking directly from the nearby BSES LV mains. According to the provisions of the Indian Electricity Act, a cumulative penalty of around Rs 17 lakh has been imposed on owners of the premises, said a senior BYPL official.

"On analysis of data collected from the area, there are around 80-90 illegal electro-paling factories operating in Daryaganj alone. These factories, in spite of being sealed by the civic authorities, as being hazardous for the residents of the area are still operating, in a clandestine fashion," said a BYPL official.

"This rampant theft of power by these illegal electro-plating factories, besides being responsible for recurring and frequent cases of short-circuiting and sparking in the area, are also causing frequent tripping," added the official.

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Two held for murder
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
The Delhi police has arrested two persons - a tabla master and his teenaged cousin-- for allegedly murdering their friend on the New Year eve in West Delhi.

The accused have been identified as Harnam Singh (24) and Harjeet Singh (18).

They were arrested for allegedly beating their close friend Rocky (23) to death with a baseball bat in Keshavpuram on December 31 after inviting him for the New Year party.

The murder came to light on January 1 when the body was found in a secluded place, said V Renganathan, Deputy Commissioner of Police (West).

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4 held with stolen laptop bags
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 4
Alipur police station sleuths have arrested four persons with around 350 laptop bags stolen from a godown in Alipur.

They have been identified as Sakir (30), Jafar (28), Bhura Shah (40) and Ram Milan Singh Tomar (22). "The first to be arrested were Sakir and Jafar who were heldby employees of the laptop bag manufacturers when they spotted them selling laptop bags in a shop in Connaught Place. Their arrest led us to others," said the police.

The accused had stolen 38 cartons of (380 bags) laptops from the godown of Choraria Exim India in Alipur.

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