Tuesday, November 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S



Hoardings stay put despite diktat
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Such is the Congress’ fascination with the trend set by the erstwhile Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) governments that almost a month since the Lokayukta ordered the removal of all illegal hoardings and advertisements from roadsides, and nearly three weeks after the same was communicated to the Lieutenant Governor, the Delhi Government has not bothered to lift even a finger to ensure compliance with the order.

The PWD, it may be recalled, had signed a number of agreements/MoUs with private agencies for “greening” of certain areas, for constructing safe railings on its roads and for putting up overhead display signs in exchange for advertisement rights, free of charge, on central verges, side verges, tree guards and on electric poles for a period of 5 to 7 years.

These MOUs had been signed with the ‘approval’ of Minister Pervez Hashmi and contracts had been awarded to M/s Green Line. This trend, of doling out advertisement contracts, had been set by former chief minister Sahib Singh Verma.

The then BJP government had reserved 80 per cent of the display space for publicising the achievements of government departments and earmarked the residue 20 per cent space for advertisers. The Congress, when it came to power, surpassed the BJP’s record by offering 100 per cent space to advertisers.

The Lokayukta recently ruled that the contracts given by the Public Works Department -- headed by Minister Pervez Hashmi -- for display of hoardings and billboards on roadsides contravene the Delhi Municipal Corporation (Amendment Act 1993) as well as directions of the Supreme Court and are, therefore, illegal.

Also, almost all the hoardings and advertisements have been put up without the written permission of the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Delhi. The Commissioner, says the order, is the only authority competent to grant advertisement rights.

The order states that “the agreements signed by the Public Works Department, granting advertisement rights to private agencies, were totally in violation of sections 143 and 144 of the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act (Amendment Act 1993) read with bye-laws framed in 1996.

The private agencies made no application to the Commissioner, MCD, seeking permission to display advertisements; nor was any permission granted by the Commissioner. Therefore, the erection and display of advertisements on PWD roads, Ring Road etc is completely barred under the bye-laws.”

The Supreme Court has also, in its judgment dated November 20, 1997, directed the authorities to remove all hoardings which are on roadsides and impede the smooth flow of traffic. Following an MCD official’s note acknowledging that the receipt of advertisement tax by the municipal corporation has not been in conformity with the bye-laws and directions of the apex court, the MCD Commissioner had suggested that, in the first phase, Lokayukta’s orders with regard to PWD roads be implemented fully “in letter as well as in spirit.” In the second phase, he had said, MCD roads, where advertisements are put up authorisedly or unauthorisedly in violation of the bye-laws, may be removed.

The Lokayukta, in his order, states that there is an effort on the part of certain MCD officials to sideline the order of the MCD Commissioner. “There is a suspicious linkage between the notings of this official and an effort to help the advertising agencies, particularly M/s Green Line. This may be because of political pressure.” Furthermore, the Lokayukta has sought details from the MCD of the steps taken by it to recover the Rs 7 crore outstanding against three advertising agencies – owned by three members of a family.

Repeated attempts to speak with the MCD Commissioner proved futile as he was busy in meetings while Pervez Hashmi’s office informed that the minister was not in town.


Nanavati panel to finish recording evidence in Jan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
The Nanavati Commission probing the 1984 riots afresh is likely to complete its recording of evidence by the middle of January, said Mr Harvinder Singh Phoolka, senior counsel fighting for the rights of the riot victims, said here today.

“Recording of evidence has started and is likely to be completed by the end of December or by the middle of January. By the end of January, the commission could begin issuing notices to those against whom it finds there is evidence to proceed further in the case,” Mr Phoolka said while addressing a function organised by The Sikh Forum.

Expressing satisfaction at the kind of evidence that had come up before the Nanavati Commission 17 years after the riots, he said, “We want to prove from the evidence, including from the official records, that the riots were the result of a conspiracy hatched at the highest level.”

Contrary to the conclusion arrived at by Justice Ranganath Mishra Commission, the records placed before the present commission indicate that senior police officials, including the Police Commissioner, were on the streets.

“The senior officials only went to those areas where the Sikhs were defending themselves. The Sikhs there were rounded up and put in custody,” he said, adding that the police turned a blind eye to places where mobs were looting and spreading arson.

Several senior political and social leaders went to the house of the then Home Minister, Mr P. V. Narasimha Rao, and appraised him of the situation in the Capital, yet the government did not impose curfew nor did it call the Army, Mr Phoolka said.

From the evidence that had been placed before the commission, only inference could be drawn as the possibility of finding direct evidence was almost impossible, he said.

“Circumstantial evidence available before the commission indicates that all instructions were being given from the residence of the Prime Minister and some important person was sitting and giving these instructions,” the senior counsel said.

Mr Phoolka, expressing the need for a special law, said courts had time and again expressed anguish about the conduct of the investigating agency, which had shielded the culprits through its biased investigation.

“By the special law, the court would have the power to order a fresh probe where defective investigations have taken place,” he said.

The hero of the Bangladesh war, Lt -Gen J. S. Arora, with tears rolling down his cheeks, said the riot victims had not got justice even though 17 years had passed.

He said the community should continue to fight till the culprits were punished.

Senior BJP leader and sitting MP, Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra, said even the then President, Giani Zail Singh, was helpless during those days and “used to contact us for rescuing his friends and other known persons being attacked by the mob”.

He said the commission should also look into the role played by the government as the riot appeared to be organised.

The commission should submit an interim report soon as the preparation of the final report would take time, he added.

The president of the forum, Col Manohar Singh Sethi, said the report of the Mishra Commission had been criticised by many. “Why does not the Supreme Court pass any stricture against Justice Ranganath Mishra for his partisan report,” he questioned.

Noted Sikh intellectual, Dr Maheep Singh, said the Nanavati Commission report should be made public and its recommendations should be implemented quickly.

He said the guilty should be punished as the riot victims have been awaiting justice for the past 17 years. No person had been found guilty and several accused persons were moving around freely.


Yet another doctor held for sex tests
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 5
A doctor running an ultrasound clinic at Palwal has been booked under the Pre-natal Diagnostic Technique Act for allegedly carrying out `sex determination' tests at his clinic. The District Health Authorities today filed a complaint in the court Of Chief Judicial Magistrate here.

A team of health officials, led by Dr C Paul, Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of Civil Hospital, Ballabgarh, conducted a raid at the clinic recently and collected evidence which was recorded audio-visually.

According to Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr B.S. Dahiya, who is also the appropriate authority for implementation of the PNDT Act, three decoys were sent to Dr Anil's ultrasound clinic'. Later, the decoys confirmed before the raiding team and the accused that the doctor had conducted an ultrasound test and informed them of the sex of the foetus, after charging a fee. Some of the currency notes that exchanged hands for the sex determination tests were also recovered by the team from an attendant working there, as these had bee signed by one of the officials.

The doctor is reported to have admitted to having performed the tests. Dr Anil Sabhani, properitor Of Dr Anil's Ultrasound Clinic, Mr Kartar Singh, technician, and the ultrasound clinic have been named as the three accused in the case, under various sections of the Act.

The authorities have also immediately suspended the registration of the clinic.

This is the third such case to surface in the district and the State since the implementation of act. Incidentally, all the cases registered so far have been reported in this district.


Killer roads: Delhi sticks to its onerous record
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Four fatal accidents and three hit-and-run cases were reported from the Capital last night, maintaining Delhi’s onerous daily average worked out by the Delhi Police, thus making the Capital one of the most unsafe cities as far as road accidents are concerned. A 25-year- old person, Anil Mishra, was reportedly mowed down by a speeding Blue Line bus in Daryaganj in Central district last evening. The victim was walking on the footpath when he was hit by the bus from behind. He was a resident of Vivek Vihar in East district and had gone to Daryaganj for some personal work. After hitting the victim, the driver of the Blue Line bus, route number 493, tried to flee but was caught by the passers-by and handed over to the police. The bus plies between Kalkaji and Red Fort.

In another incident, Ramesh, who was in his mid- twenties, was crushed to death by an unknown vehicle in Katwaria Sarai. He was rushed to the AIIMS, where he succumbed to his injuries. In the Sarai Kale Khan area of South Delhi a man was crushed to death by an unidentified vehicle. In yet another incident, a speeding vehicle in Kalkaji killed an unidentified youth. The accidents, mostly caused by Blue Line buses and other vehicles driven by drunk drivers in the Capital, are a recurring phenomenon. These accidents have brought into sharp relief the rising lawlessness on the Capital’s roads, which accounts for 3.3 million vehicles - more than the combined motor vehicle population of Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata.

According to a senior official of the Delhi Traffic Police, a total of 1,414 fatal cases till October 15, an awesome five a day, have been reported in the Capital while it was much less last year. The cases of fatal accidents are rising every year as there is no control on the increasing number of vehicles. Besides, there is no discipline among the drivers. Speeding Blue Line buses, whose drivers are generally not properly trained, causes most accidents. They reportedly get licenses after paying bribes to the officials of the Transport Department. The second factor, the officer said, was drunken driving. Drivers of Blue Line buses as well as youth of affluent families, who drive their own vehicles late at night, are reportedly found involved in a majority of fatal accident cases.

Most of the fatal accidents were reported from South Delhi’s posh localities, where 262 have persons died till October 15 this year. Next is South-West district. A total of 621 persons died in Southern Range, 480 in Northern Range and 260 in New Delhi Range.


Delhi gurdwara committee turning computer-savvy
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

THE Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee plays a key role in moulding the opinion of the Sikh community in the Capital. Delhi has the largest concentration of Sikhs in a city outside Punjab, so the role of this Committee and its activities are an area of interest and concern to the community.

The committee, apart from managing the affairs of gurdwaras, is actively involved in running schools and colleges, hospitals and old-age homes.

The president of DSGMC, Mr Avtar Singh Hit, who is also the president of the Delhi Unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), in an interview with the NCR Tribune elucidates the achievements of the committee during his tenure and the projects undertaken during the period.

What has been the significant achievement of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee during the past one-year? What are the areas in which improvement could be made?

In a move to streamline the management of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and run it in an efficient manner, it is decided to computerise the entire spectrum of historical gurdwaras, offices, schools, colleges, institutes and hospitals managed by the committee through networking. So far, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib, Gurdwara Nanak Piao, Gurdwara Sis Ganj, Gurdwara Rakab Ganj and head office have been computerised.

For the construction of Guru Harkrishan Institute of Medical Science and Research, a prime land of 12 acres has been allotted at Gurdwara Bala Sahib and the corresponding interest otherwise to the tune of crores of rupees has also been remitted.

The DDA had asked to pay Rs 21 crore for the said land from the earlier committee, which they had agreed to pay without hesitation. But, due to our untiring efforts, the said land as been allotted in the name of DSGMC for mere Rs 31 lakhs. On this land, a 400-bed modernised hospital is being constructed.

Devotees had to face a tough time in parking their vehicles at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. There have been instances of vehicles being stolen from the place. A two and a half-storeyed parking lot is being constructed, which would accommodate about 800 cars.

The people of Hargobind Enclave have been urging the DSGMC to open a branch of Guru Harkrishan Public School afresh in the area. To fulfil their demands, the committee has opened a school equipped with modern facilities.

Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur International Public School at Bighar, Fatehabad district, has been opened. The school is having modernised privileges. Impressed by the quality of the school set up by the DSGMC, the Haryana Government has approved the opening of an engineering college at Bighar in the state.

Guru Nanak Sukh Shala (Old age home) has been set up to take care of the elderly persons. They will be provided comprehensive privileges besides hospitalisation if need be in the Bridh Ghar. Efforts have been made that the elderly living there should feel at home. A dispensary has been set up in Hair Nagger to meet the day-to-day needs of the people.

What are the areas of main concern for the Sikh community in Delhi?

The main concern of the community is to control and manage the gurdwaras and educational institutions according to the Sikh maryada. To control and ensure safe custody of funds, movable and immovable properties, make arrangement for the security and maintenance of properties. Taking measures for the propagation and preaching of Sikhism and organising religious programmes, functions, seminars and conferences. Preparing and selling audio and audio-visual tapes for the spread of Gurbani Kirtan. To assist pilgrims and devotees and make arrangements to visit historical gurdwaras in India and abroad.

The concentration of the Sikh community in the Capital is largest outside Punjab. However, the politics here continues to be controlled by the people in power in Punjab. Is it the right practice or there needs to be some change?

Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab is the parent body of Sikh politics all over the country. The parent body works as the guiding star of Sikh politics in the country. Ever since SAD was founded, this has been the practice and hence shall continue in future.

The DSGMC came into being, after the Delhi Sikh Gurdwaras Act, 1971. We, of course, take independent decisions in all urgent important matters, though general guidance is derived from all our parent body in Punjab. DSGMC works under the patronage of parent body.

The elections to the DSGMC are long due. What steps are your party taking to build pressure on the Delhi Government to hold early elections?

Elections for the new executive board were due on May 12 this year. In normal circumstances, 21 days’ notice is given before elections to the new executive board are held.

Unfortunately, I suffered a massive heart attack and was hospitalised for quite a long time. Hence, 21 days’ notice could not be given due to unforeseen circumstances. However, Paramjit Singh Sarna , leader of the rival faction owing allegiance to the Tohra group, was intimated that notice for election to the new executive board would be issued within two days. Mr Sarna and other members went to Court. The court has already decided to hold general elections by January 31, 2002. It would be in the interest of Sikh voters if we stick to this decision.Back


JNU student unions miss the bus again
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Faraway from the inhospitable terrain of Hindu Kush mountains, the echoes of the war against terror are reverberating on the sprawling campus of the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) where students prepare to elect a new students union on November 12.

The battlelines are drawn and strategies worked out as candidates seek to woo the voter on issues ranging from the current Afghan war to lumpenisation of the campus which is picturesquely cocooned in the extended Aravalli Hills in South Delhi.

“We are against war on terrorism waged by the USA. We believe that in the name of war against terrorism, grave human rights violations are taking place,” a spokesperson of the Left-oriented All India Students Association (AISA) said. Ironically, the refrain stops short of mentioning human rights violations manifested in the countless terrorist attacks in Kashmir and other places of the country.

“BJP ka POTO, human rights par hamla roko,” an AISA slogan echoes on the campus even as the students rue the poor transport infrastructure facilities within.

“There are only two buses connecting JNU with the rest of the city and no students union seems to be bothered. Afghanistan is a less important issue than those which affect us on a day-to-day basis. Ideology is all right. But it should not be stretched to the extent of wishing away basic issues which are real,” a concerned student said.

The Noted litterateur and Booker awardee, Ms Arundhati Roy, is back again in India and this time to champion the cause against the war on terrorism. “She (Ms Roy) is going to canvass for us as there is convergence of our views on the Afghan war,” an AISA activist said.

Political ideology seems to be taking precedence for every student wing. “We strongly believe that JNU is going to be the place where communist resurgence will take place and spread across the country,” the AISA spokesperson said.

“Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Pehne Hai Sab Khoon Ka Chola,” says another AISA slogan – a depiction of the fact that open economic policies have their fair share of critics among the educated also. It is a different matter that students continue to sip Coke and Pepsi while exchanging words of wisdom in the hillocks of
the campus.

Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the other political heavyweight in the fray, is not much different in its style. National integrity and political ideology figure prominently in their scheme of things too. “Jahan Huye Balidan Mukherjee Ke, Woh Kashmir Hamara Hai,” an ABVP slogan screams.

“Nationalist ideas must flourish in JNU and the concept of Indian nationhood must be forcefully brought about,” an ABVP spokesperson said even as he maintained that “debate on issues and ideologies must not depart too heavily from the issues pertaining to student welfare”.

Taking a snipe at their opponents who owe allegiance to Leftism, another ABVP slogan says: “Mao Mao jo kehte ho; Bharat mein kyon rehte ho.”

“What we are seeing in JNU is some kind of a monopoly to indoctrinate students to a particular stream of political thought. This has to stop if the high standard of education in the university is to be sustained,” the ABVP spokesperson said.

The pre-election battle will reach a crescendo on November 10 when the presidential debate (a la USA) takes place on the Jhelum lawns. Concerned students, in the meantime, fret and fume before walking down to nearby Priya cinema hall to catch a night show.


Third person linked to arms seizure held
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Monday claimed to have arrested Yunis, the third person absconding in connection with the seizure of a huge quantity of arms and explosives from a truck in Gujarat recently.

CBI claims to have arrested two persons, Abdul Sultan and Showkat, yesterday from Gurgaon and with the tip off from the duo, Yunis, the third person, was arrested. Both Sultan and Showkat were produced before a magistrate yesterday, who remanded them to four days’ in CBI custody. Sources in the CBI said that the third person would be produced in the designate court later. 

Last week, CBI seized a truck in North Gujarat’s Patan district and recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunition.


Is Vasant Kunj’s chronic water shortage artificial?
Rohit Wadhaney

New Delhi, November 5
It is the gluttonous greed of the Delhi Jal Board(DJB) that has left the residents of south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj colony thirsty and with just one refrain: “Corrupt DJB quit Vasant Kunj. We want water management to be privatized.”

The legend of acute water shortage has been perpetuated and fed to the public by the DJB officials to “grind their own axe,” residents alleged. “And surprisingly, the water shortfall is met by DJB tankers, which leak and spill as much water as they supply,” said Ajit Saluja, president of the Residents’ Welfare Association(RWA). “Many of the tube-wells which feed the water supply line are kept out of order for months and years. Many more which have no hope of supplying water have been dug up in the recent past with the sole motive of pocketing money. The water shortage is deliberate and man made to suit vested interests,” alleged Mr Saluja.

This scandal, like many other scandals in the country is of gigantic proportions, involving crores of rupees. Most residents, after having suffered many dry and parched summers, have resigned to the “ever demanding” DJB tankerwallahs that supply water to the residents because of the acute shortage.

Vasant Kunj is one of the biggest colonies of south Delhi. With 12,000 houses, Vasant Kunj is home to about 60,000 people. It is an open secret that most households pay from Rs 200 to Rs 250 per month for water from the tankers on an alternate-day basis and Rs 400 per month on a daily basis.

“Since bribe taking is considered no crime in this country and has never been penalized, the bribe giver will surely be victimized even though he may be doing it for sheer survival and for a necessity like water. Very few residents will admit having a monthly tie-up with the DJB, though most of them do,” said Yogesh Khanna, a resident.

The misery of the residents started when water supply to the overhead tanks stopped a decade ago. Erratic supply led to the demand of buffer shortage for which either additional or bigger tanks had to be installed.

Since meters and ball cocks were a constant impediment to the trickle of water, people were forced to have them

removed. “Consequently, it led to water wastage whenever the supply did come, and was an invitation to penalty charges from the DJB as offenders for meter removal,” said Mr Khanna.

According to residents, a whole host of parasites cropped up, like DJB officials, private water tankers and plumbers, who “encashed on the situation, making it a full time business.” Residents said they still regularly pay these officials.

Every household, whether they could afford it or not, had coughed up Rs 20,000 to Rs 40,000 on installing booster pumps, on-line motors, sintex tanks, pipelines, time to time readjustments, fencing and enclosures.

According to very reliable sources, on a conservative estimate, 11,000 households in Vasant Kunj have spent around Rs 25 crores and this was apart from the recurring expense on hiring private tankers, bribes to the DJB officials and payments for the services of plumbers.

“DJB officials later realized that they were losing out on the moolah being given by the people to private tankers and so found a method to divert all the money to themselves. The DJB telephone - 6137216 - was put, almost perpetually, off the hook. Only a few complaints were noted to maintain the facade of the service,” said Dr S.S. Kame, a resident.

Not satisfied with the Rs 250 per month from each household, they “chocked the water supply further and promised to send a water tanker on a daily basis at Rs 400 per month, thus making lakhs of rupees,” Dr Kame said.

However, the DJB Zonal Engineer, R.R. Sehgal defended: “Do you think a responsible government agency like DJB can do such a thing? We cannot afford to choke water supply ourselves. After all we are here to do the opposite. These allegations are completely baseless. Aren’t we all worried about losing our jobs?” Even as the DJB Chief Engineer admitted that there was a shortage of water in the area, he denied allegations of DJB being responsible for it. “The whole city is facing water shortage because the water level has gone down drastically.”

V.B. Lal, convener, of the Water Committee of Vasant Kunj said: “Our state is unimaginable. Due to the shortage of water, 90 per cent of the residents have installed booster pumps in sheer desperation, but the DJB is totally blind-eyed. Why?”

Residents felt that complaining to the DJB was like reporting to a thief. “Even amongst themselves, the tankerwallahs squabble for territory.

Each one of them has his demarcated territory to loot. They even dare you to complain to the minister. We are going through a night mare,” said Mr Lal.


Shelter for street kids soon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), on Monday said that a separate shelter for the homeless children would start functioning in the next 15 days.

This was announced in the ‘Khula Manch,’ which was organised by the Aashray Adhikar Abhiyan, National Campaign for People’s Right to information and Miss Roy’s Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in the Capital.

The new shelter would accommodate children from Darya Ganj, Chandni Chowk and the Old Delhi Railway Station area, and will run with the help of ‘Prayas,’ a non-governmental organization headed by Joint Commissioner of Police, Mr Amod Kanth.

In fact, Delhi had 19 such shelters for them, but seven had been closed over the years. While the number of shelters have come down, their rent has been on the rise – from 50 paise to Rs one to Rs six and even Rs eight. And most of these shelters are in the congested Old Delhi where a majority of these rag pickers work.

Most of these children would be rag pickers during the day and night settle down on pavements to catch some sleep before a policemen puts his stick out.

“A separate shelter scheme for children will be brought if this experiment proves successful,” said Manjit Singh, head of the Slum wing of MCD.

The historic Jama Masjid in Old Delhi gave the backdrop to Khula Manch an open forum, last night where about 200 homeless men, women and children of the National Capital narrated their every day’s nightmare.

“We are not thieves or ruffians, but the police beat us up. We only want a piece of land and a roof over our head,” said Meena, who stays in the Ram Mandir near Connaught Place.

Another child, Lakshman who sleeps on the pavement at Chandni Chowk, laments, constables assaults him every day and forces him to drink water from drain.

Meena and Lakshman and others, who had assembled at the ‘Khula Manch,’ belong to the 1,50,000 shelterless in Delhi, who as a human rights activist present at the venue said, they have lost their right to sleep.

“You are assaulted because you don’t have an address, therefore no identity,” said Kanth.

He expressed his displeasure over the ill treatment of the homeless by some policemen.

He would advocate identification cards for the shelterless, a step which would be hotly debated by human right groups, he added.

The demands of the homeless varied from land and house to ration card and health care which could put them on the mainstream of life in the city and end harassment by the authorities.

Magsaysay Award-winning social activist Aruna Roy and Press Institute of India Chairperson Ajit Bhattacharjee also addressed the gathering at the Urdu Park and expressed concern about on the street kids.


Dalit leader accuses govt of suppression
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
The Chairman of the All India Confederation of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe organisations, Udit Raj (formerly Ram Raj), has alleged that the BJP led Central Government and governments of neighbouring states tried to crush the mass conversions of Dalits to Buddhism in the Capital on Sunday. More than one lakh Dalits took “diksha”and became Buddhists renouncing Hinduism.

He wanted the Supreme Court and the National Commission for Human Rights to take suo moto notice against the government since an emergency like situation prevailed in the Capital for the Dalits on Sunday. Udit Raj charged that the Central Government, the RSS, the VHP.


Mushroom caps bloom in Haryana
R. D. Sapra

Sonepat, November 4
Sonepat has become one of the leading districts of India in mushroom production. More than 75 per cent of Haryana’s mushrooms are being produced in this district alone. Mushroom cultivation has become popular not only among the farmers but the landless labourers as well as the people of other sections of society also.

According to official sources, the credit for starting mushroom production in this district goes to some farmers of Bhadana village who, in the year 1984, got a short duration training in mushroom production from Himachal Pradesh and motivated some other farmers also for starting this occupation.

The Department of Horticulture, Haryana, the District Rural Development Agency and other nationalised and cooperative banks played an important role in giving a boost to this. The Horticulture Department has been imparting necessary training and giving knowhow by organising demonstrations in the villages. The DRDA, on the other hand, provides subsidies and other financial assistance through the banks to the poor mushroom growers.

Other factors which also helped in promoting mushroom culture included proximity of the national Capital for immediate sale of the produce, easy availability of raw materials and an urge among the educated unemployed youths for starting their own venture.

Today, mushroom cultivation has been started in nearly 100 villages of the district. Prominent among these are Bhadana, Akbarpur Barota, Rohat, Jharoth, Sisana, Ganaur, Rajlu Garhi and Murthal. During the past one decade, the mushroom production has witnessed a steep rise.

A number of progressive mushroom cultivators are using ultramodern techniques to constantly increase their production. The mushroom growers of Bhadana and Murthal villages were leading in producing mushroom and installing trays as well as constructing sheds for this purpose.

While the mushroom growers are encouraged with the trend, they are also facing a lot of problems. Many progressive farmers allege they have been facing an acute shortage of good quality mushroom spawn (seed), thanks to the failure of the authorities concerned to supply the same.

Lack of adequate marketing facilities in the villages and at the district level and non-availability of the lab facilities to eradicate diseases etc leads to low production and less price in the market. Sealed tin facilities for mushroom harvest and moisturiser plant facility for this produce can solve many problems, they add.

Mushroom is considered to be a delicacy with no party complete without a mushroom dish, which is eaten by one and all. Besides, one can also have mushroom soup, mushroom pickles etc.

At least 1,000 farmers in this district are engaged in mushroom production. The rest are from Gurgaon, Panipat and Yamunanagar districts.

Mushroom growers have a ready market in Delhi where they take their produce to Azadpur market. According to the mushroom growers, about 10 to 15 truckloads of mushroom are sent to Delhi every day. Nafed purchases mushrooms in bulk for its processing units at a lower rate, whereas the price fluctuates in the Delhi market.

Instead of having trays, a traditional method is still being practised by many.

They have put up permanent structures inside sheds with three to four rows. They have spread compost and spawn which is the threadlike matter on which mushroom grow.

Many mushroom growers are sore about the attitude of the banks whose officials do not help them in advancing loans despite the profit margin and absence of defaulters. They give an excuse that the particular village does not fall in the service area under which particular areas are attached to branches of a nationalised bank.

Most banks do not cater to mushroom growers. Despite getting a no-objection certificate from a bank, the other banks, while processing cases give all encouragement but in the end wriggle out, saying that the area did not come under the service scheme.

This acts as a sort of discouragement to farmers from growing mushrooms.

The mushroom growers are also not happy with the Haryana Agro-Industries Corporation. They feel the corporation not only discourages them but also prevents them from getting a good profit as corporation officials wait for a slump so that they can buy their produce at a cheaper price. The officials have supported this contention.


Sheila gives away Kalpa Vriksha prize
Tribune news Service

New Delhi, November 5
Announcing the winners of the Kalpa Vriksha-2000 scheme, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday said that the small savings had been growing at 22 per cent annually and expressed the hope that in the year 2001-02 the target of Rs 4,000 crore would be achieved.

The five winners of Kalpa Vriskha-2000 scheme, selected by lottery, would be entitled to a sum of Rs 3 lakh.

Finance Minister Ms Saathi, who was present on the occasion, said that five years back the small savings accounted for roughly Rs 1,261 crore which figure had grown to Rs 3,000 crore in 2000-01. 


DPCC to assess MCD work
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee is currently engaged in preparing an assessment report of all municipal wards. The three-week-long exercise, according to party sources, will be a precursor to the preparation for poll strategy and subsequent release of the party manifesto.

DPCC President Subhash Chopra has said his party is aware of the ‘deeds’ of the Bharatiya Janata Party and will utilise the ward-wise assessment reports to expose the BJP-dominated Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Party sources say the exercise of assessing the works completed or undertaken in various wards will help the Congress in better coordination. A section of the MLAs believe that their party will put development on the agenda of the MCD post-elections since development.


Protest by HVP
 Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, November 5
The district unit of the Haryana Vikas Party today held a demonstration to expose the alleged lawlessness and chaotic state of affairs prevalent in the area.

A group of at least 1500 HVP activists led by its senior general secretary, Mr Manphool Singh, took out a procession in the town, raising anti-government slogans. Later, the district unit chief, Mr Anand Kadian, handed over a memorandum of its demands to the city magistrate, Mr Rajpal, as the Deputy Commissioner was not available.

In the memorandum, the party raised issues like the deteriorating law and order situation due to mounting cases of murder, robbery, abduction, rape, demands of extortion from the traders and the increasing influence of the encroachment mafia which has not spared even the government land. The memorandum said, the people of the state were fed up with the government, which reportedly backtracked on the promises made.


ABHM to field candidates in UP poll
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Announcing its plans of starting a people’s movement to protect the Hindu interests, the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha on Monday extended its support to the Goraksha convention to be held here tomorrow (Wednesday).

The National Working Committee of the Mahasabha, which met over the weekend, also decided to field candidates in the forthcoming Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. According to national president Dinesh Chandra Tyagi, the Mahasabha decided to field 150 candidates in UP including almost all of the seats in eastern region of the state, 50 in Uttaranchal .


Sitma Devi elected
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 5
Mrs Sitma Devi has been declared elected as member of Municipal Corporation, Faridabad (MCF), from ward no 3, the byelection for which was held yesterday.

The seat had fallen vacant following the death of former member Chandrika Prasad in an accident a few months ago. Sitma Devi is the wife of Mr Prasad. She defeated her main rival, Mr Ram Sakal, by a margin of over 1150 votes. Mrs Sitma Devi got 2,159 votes while the loser could get only 993 votes. Only 38 per cent of the voters exercised their right of franchise.Back


4 of marriage party dead

Noida, November 5
Four members of a marriage party were killed and another four, including a child of five, were seriously injured in a head-on collision between a bus and a car on Gulawathy road under Kotwali rural area in Bulandshahar. 

The villagers blocked the road for two hours to protest against late arrival of police. Our Correspondent


Youth dies

Two persons have died in separate incidents in the past 24 hours. Satpal, a resident of Dayalpur village in the district, who was admitted to the civil hospital after he had consumed a poisonous substance recently, died in hospital on Monday.

In another case, a youth, Vikram, alias Bali, was crushed to death by a speeding truck near Kheri Kalan village on Monday morning.


Water supply to be hit in Rohini

New Delhi, November 5
Owing to the annual flushing of booster pumping station, water supply will be affected on Tuesday in A-1, Sector 3, Rohini. 

The Delhi Jal Board has informed that water tankers will be available at Telephone Nos. 3954338 (Civil Lines zone) and 7464656 (Rohini zone). TNS


Rail track blind murder solved
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
The North-East district police today claimed to have solved a blind murder case with the arrest of Som Prakash, alias Peeru (22), son of Jagdish, resident of Doonger Mohalla, Farsh Bazar, Delhi, and Vipin (19), son of Banwari Lal, resident of Sadatpur, Karaval Nagar Road, Gokalpur, North-East District.

According to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (NorthEast), Mr Vivek Gogia, an unidentified body had been found on the railway track. It was later identified as that of Deepak, alias Deepe, resident of Nakul Gali, Vishwas Nagar, Delhi.

In this connection a case, FIR No.253/2001, under Section 302 of the IPC was registered. Efforts were also made to establish the identity of the deceased. Mr Gogia further said that on the basis of secret information, accused Som Prakash and Vipin were apprehended by a special team. They confessed to the murder of Deepe due to a dispute over money with the help of their associate, Manoj, resident of Mukesh Nagar, Shahdara.

Sources said the accused further revealed that they along with their associate had taken the deceased by the side of the railway track and all of them consumed liquor as per the plan. After the deceased was intoxicated, he was taken to the bushes and was hit with a stone on the head repeatedly till he collapsed on the ground. Police sources said that Deepak had three criminal cases of assault against him. Allegedly, he used to run a gang of pickpockets on buses starting from Anand Vihar ISBT. In fact, there was resentment among the other gang members and they had planned to eliminate Deepe. Further investigations are going on and efforts are being made to apprehend Manoj.

Bag snatched

The Greater Kailash police has arrested two youths, identified as Mohit Sharma (18) and Raman Khukreja (18), both residents of Lajpat Nagar, for snatching a handbag containing a mobile phone and some cash from Radhika Kapoor on Saturday in Greater Kailash area of South Delhi.

The police placed the said mobile phone under observation and the callers were located and nabbed from their houses on Sunday evening. The snatched mobile phone and the motor cycle used in the crime were recovered from their possession, according to the sources.

Fatal accident

An unidentified male was reportedly run over by an unknown vehicle near the CNG filling station, Sarai Kale Khan, early on Monday morning. The victim died on the spot. The Hazrat Nizamuddin police has registered a case and sought public help in the identification of the body.

Ramesh Kumar (40), resident of Transit Camp, Govind Puri, reportedly fell down while getting down from a bus under DTC operation on route No.425 at Service Station Road, near Govind Puri, on Sunday morning.

According to the police, Ramesh died on the spot. The Kalkaji police has registered a case and arrested the bus driver, Laxman (40), resident of Jhuggi Sudhar Camp, Kalkaji.Back


Delhi HC judge appointed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 5
Mr Justice Mahmood Ali Khan was today appointed as a Judge of the Delhi High Court.

Mr Justice Mahmood Ali Khan, an additional judge of the high court has been appointed as Judge of the Delhi High Court and his appointment would be effective from the date he assumes charge of his office, an official release said tonight.


Shuttled by govt into dead-end sports body

New Delhi, November 5
They are the marginal men who get shunted around and squeezed in between the Sports Ministry and the National Sports Federations (NSFs) without gaining any tangible benefits.

The plight of the assistant secretaries/joint secretaries associated with various NSFs is indeed pathetic. They are on duty virtually round-the-clock, and they are the buffer between the Sports Ministry and the Federations, who absorb all tension, to make the federations function smoothly, and provide inputs and feedback to the Government. But their hard work is rarely recognised, and when it comes to providing them with incentives, both the Government and Sports Federations wash their hands of.

Though the assistant secretaries/joint secretaries working for various sports federations are employees of the Government of India, who have been loaned to the NSFs to run their offices in Delhi, they are not provided many of the facilities provided to other Government servants. A junior clerk in the Sports Authority of India (SAI) is provided avenues to move up the ladder, and can end up as a joint director or even a director, while the ones working with the sports federations, far more efficient and experienced, are condemned to rot in the same post for years.

Fed up with their godforsaken lot, 17 assistant secretaries/joint secretaries associated with various national sports federations mustered enough courage to submit a memorandum to Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Uma Bharati, seeking her intervention to improve their service conditions.

They said only "basic pay and Dearness Allowance are being paid to us and we are deprived of other benefits like house rent allowance (HRA), City Compensatory Allowance (CCA), transport allowance, LTC, and even promotional benefits which are generally missible to all Government employees. Even the facilities of GPF/PPF, which is provided to other Government employees to safeguard the future of their family members, is denied to us," they lamented.

The memorandum said, “The assistant secretaries/joint secretaries are appointed purely on temporary basis, resulting in insecurity of job, and denial of future promotions".

Though these people have spent the better part of their lives for the services of the national sports federations/associations "with honesty, devotion and hard work, we are deprived of even the minimus facilities which are available to other Government employees".

"It is peculiar that only this cadre of employees are working with no job security, no promotion avenue, no time-bound promotion, and no prescribed pay scales with other allowances applicable to other government. employees. We are working on a day-to-day basis in purely temporary capacity for more than 10 to 15 years. We are also overage to go to any other department for better prospects", the memorandum noted.

These poor souls have to shoulder additional responsibility to discharge multifarious duties in addition to office work, like independent correspondence with all the affiliated units and various departments of the Government, make arrangements for conducting national and international level tournaments, and also to make arrangements for sending Indian teams for participation in international events, help in the procurement of equipment, arranging coaches from abroad, and maintenance of national/international record books and account books, etc.

Though some of the sports federations are keen to improve the lot of these assistant secretaries, 8joint secretaries working with them, they are unable to do much due to lack of funds.

The matter of improving the working conditions of these employees had been taken up by the national sports federations and the Indian Olympic Association with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports several times in the past, but nothing has been done to improve their lot.

In fact, in a note to the Ministry, the IOA had recommended that the assistant secretaries "may be given the pay scale of Rs 8000-13500, which is equivalent to that of an assistant director's pay scale in the SAI".

The IOA also recommended that the Assistant Secretaries may be paid HRA, CCA, Medical and Conveyance allowance as admissible to the government employees, as the assistant secretaries /joint secretaries have to shoulder heavy work responsibility like corresponding with the state associations, international federations, SAI, Sports Ministry and other sports organisations.

"Hence, there is a need to sanction the post of the assistant secretary to all the national federations recognised by the Ministry, irrespective of having their officies in Delhi," the IOA note added.

The people, who are the eyes and ears of various sports federations, are now eagerly waiting for the response of Uma Bharti to their just demands, which also include retirement/pension benefits.

The Sports Federation employees have sought pay scales of Rs 5500-175-9900 with benefits like DA, HRA and Transport Allowance, time-bound promotional avenues, facility to contribute GPF/PPF, CGHS benefit for reimbursement of medical claims, as admissible to Government employees, LTC as per Govt rules and retirement/pension benefits.

The employees' complaint is that "in a city like Delhi, a huge chunk of our salary is taken away for payment of hiring accommodation out of our meagre salary, i.e without HRA, CCA benefits, and after that very little amount is left to support our families."

Those who had appended their signatures on the memorandum are: A V Ravindran (Amateur Atheltic Federation of India), Ashok Mukherjee (Amateur Boxing Federation of India), K Vasavan (Volleyball Federation of India), Surender Sharma (Gymnastic Federation of India), S S Sangwan (Equestrian Federation of India), Gunjan Abrol (Archery Association of India), Jagbir Singh (Cycling Federation of India), Durga Sharma (Table Tennis Federation of India), Saran (Carrom Federation of India), Rajiv Bhatia (National Rifle Association of India), Lal Chand (Indian Polo Association), Raju C S (Judo Federation of India) and Ranjit Gill (Indian Women's Hockey Federation).

The Sports Federation employees have sought pay scales of Rs 5500-175-9900 with benefits like DA, HRA and Transport allowance, etc.


Record number of entries for Ladies’ Golf
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, November 5
A record number of 108 women golfers have entered their names for the 34th Ladies Northern India Open Golf Championship, starting at the Delhi Golf Club course here from tomorrow.

The championship, being sponsored by Siel Ltd for a record 14th consecutive year, is one of the eight “categorised” events on the Indian Golf Union Ladies Section (IGULS), performance in which rates for the IGULS order of Merit and selection for international events. The championship is open to handicaps of -18 and under, and this year, there are 44 entries in this category, which is a record.

Defending champion Irina Brar of Chandigarh, just turned 18 years, is by far the favourite this year to win the 72-hole stroke play event. About a week ago, she once again asserted her domination of the ladies golf scene over the past year once more, by winning the Punjab Open title, also a “categorised” tournament, by a massive margin.

Fellow Chandigarh golfer, former All-India and Northern India champion, Parnita Garewal, Kolkatta’s Vandana Agarwal, Shruti Khanna and Anjali Chopra, all of whom should be strong contenders, will have to raise their game to a higher level to beat Irina. New contenders from the younger ranks are Mayali Talwar and Pragya Misra from Jaipur, both juniors who are determined to make a bid for the main title, and also for the Siel Junior Girls Trophy, which this year will be of particular interest with a record number of 16 entries.

Neha Majithia and Sonavi Chopra are also players to be watched. Nine-year-old Tanya Wadhwa, who stood third in the World Juniors Golf in San Diego earlier this year, and has been given membership in the Delhi Golf Club as a reward, is playing her first event in the Delhi Ladies Open Week. An interesting junior entrant this year is 13-year-old Rhea Nair, who plays the championship and the junior event.

Another 13-year-old is Nitika Jadeja from Jaipur, as the focus this year is on youth. Mr Siddarth Shriram, chairman and managing director of Siel Ltd., will tee off the championship at 7.45 a m.


Inter-University volleyball games postponed
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, November 5
The All-India Inter-University Volleyball Tournament, scheduled to be held in Delhi in the third of week of November, has been postponed as the dates were clashing with the National Games.

Association of Indian Universities (AIU) secretary Gurdeep Singh said here today that new dates for the championship will be finalised in about a week’s time, after consulting with the director of Sports, Delhi University.

The National Games are scheduled to be held at five venues in Punjab, from November 19 to December 1. The Inter-University Championship is slated to be held at the Delhi University.

Delhi pull out

Delhi will not field their team in the National Sub-Junior Volleyball Championship to be held at Burdwan, West Bengal, from November 6 to 15. Delhi Volleyball Association secretary-general Gopinathan said the trip had to be cancelled as rail reservation could not be secured for the players.

Meanwhile, 25 teams in the boys section, and 21 teams in the girls section, will take part in the sub-junior nationals.

All the teams are being provided free boarding and lodging, for the first time in the history of the sub-junior nationals.


Haryana Police Games in Gurgaon
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, November 5
The third Haryana Police and Athletic Meet 2001 will be held at the Police Lines ground in Gurgaon from November 7 to 11. More than 1,000 Haryana policemen will participate in the games.

Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala will inaugurate the Games on November 7 at 2 pm. The Director of Intelligence Bureau will be the chief guest during the closing ceremony on November 11 at 3 pm.

The State-level Police Games are expected to attract a large number of college and school students, as well as villagers from the adjoining areas as a number of national-level sportsmen are taking part in the event. The Haryana games are gaining in popularity with every passing year.

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