Tuesday, September 12, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



Interminable Veerappan affair

THE common people wonder why the Indian state that could create Bangladesh (in the teeth of an all-out opposition from China and America) and recently won the Kargil war finds all its power gone by some magic. They feel impotent when having to deal with a forest brigand.

Why are the two state governments concerned sycophantically surrendering to him and accepting all his illegal demands? Why are they giving him such a long rope — with this rope he should have been hanged many times over for his heinous crimes, namely 136 murders, killings of 2,000 elephants and smuggling of sandal wood and ivory to the tune of Rs 200 crore per year.

Mr Hari Jaisingh, in his recent article on the subject, has thrown light on this puzzle — namely Veerappan’s visible and invisible links, official and public, whose patronage he seeks to save him in his present position. Also in the general loot of hundreds of crores of rupees, many highups must have made tremendous financial vested interests.

Otherwise what can a brigand do? Once when a no nonsense police force was sent to tackle him, the number of his followers declined from 150 (not a big number) to just 6. Gopal can freely meet him, and the brigand can hold Press conferences. Only to the police and security forces he is invisible and untraceable.

He has had enough of this disgraceful tamasha. Now the government must take harsh decisive measures. Also strong legal action must be taken against his accomplices.

Otherwise we will have kidnapping of another Rajkumar.

If he continues to be built as a powerful champion of the Tamils, he along with Prabhakaran will make Tamil Nadu as another Kashmir with its cry of independence.



Centre-state relations

The Vajpayee government, while showing extraordinary enthusiasm to amend the Constitution, has done nothing in the matter of Centre-state relations. While in the Opposition, the BJP had always complained of misuse of the Central authority, but when it came to power it went into deep slumber.

Article 356, which empowers the Centre to impose President’s rule in a state whenever the Governor recommends that the constitutional machinery has failed, has always been misused. Governors are political appointees. The practice of posting men of unquestioned integrity and impartially has been given a go-by. The result is that by and large whenever Governors have been called to take political decisions, they have proved themselves to be the mouthpieces of the Central Government.

To expect impartiality from them is to live in a fools’ paradise. The dissolution of nine state assemblies and the proclamation of President’s rule in 1977 as well as in 1980 were clearly political decisions, striking a cruel blow to the federal, democratic structure of the Constitution.

The Sarkaria Commission has recommended that Article 356 should be very sparingly used. It suggested that the assembly of the state concerned should not be dissolved, whether by the Governor or by the President, until the proclamation issued under Article 356 (i) is considered in Parliament. This recommendation, like most others, is gathering dust.

In the case of disbursal of finances, it is pertinent to remember that the Finance Commission, provided for in the Constitution, deals with only the statutory grants, the quantum of which is very limited. The bulk of the funds assigned by the Union to the states fall within the category of discretionary grants, and these are made on the recommendations of the Planning Commission, which is a handmaiden of the Centre. The states have always felt that they have been forced to play the role of suppliants before the commission.

Mr Vajpayee must earnestly try to remove all the hurdles which exist between the Centre and the states so that India becomes a truly federal country.



Money-making civic body

The news item “Only six Linemen to man the street lights of the city” highlights the working of the MCC. Though tall claims about the public service rendered by them are made by the Mayor and other MCC officials, in reality the position is otherwise.

Since the day the MCC came into existence, it has increased the water rates manifold. At the same time, charges for use of Nehru Park, Janj Ghars, Parade Ground etc. have been increased substantially. Not only this, a cess on lavatory was levied by the MCC, for the first time in the history of Chandigarh. At the same time, it has made life hell for the road side vendors whose belongings are seized every third day and released on the payment of heavy penalty, that too after numerous visits of these vendors. At the same time, the MCC never touched encroachments by VIPs and businessmen in residential and commercial areas for reasons best known to it. On each failure, the MCC has cursed the Chandigarh Administration but it has given full marks to itself for removing encroachments by lower people.

Surprisingly, in 1999 the Mayor allowed councillors Rs 1000 per month as telephone allowance from the day of inception of MCC (1996). This clearly means that these policy makers are filling their own pockets from the hardearned money of the people of Chandigarh.

A look at the roads in southern sectors shows that these have not been carpeted for quite long. On hue and cry of public, only little bit of patching was done. Street lights in the city hardly illuminate after 7.00 p.m. This leaves the drivers and passersby at the mercy of each other. Because of this situation, a large number of accidents in darkness take place in the city everyday. Anti-social elements taking benefit of the darkness indulge in activities like theft and other crimes. Interestingly, at many places, street lights can be seen illuminating during day time, when not required. A large number of manholes on the city roads are without cover. At times, during night or in rainy season, innocent people are victims of these open manholes. Parks full of garbage, dung, roads full of pits and broken bitumen, leakages of water lines, pilferage of water and electricity by slum dwellers etc this all together put a question mark on the working and efficiency of the MCC.

Under the present circumstances, what can be expected from the MCC? The only alternative is to dissolve the MCC and revert the departments under it to the Chandigarh Administration.


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