Saturday, November 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India

N C R   S T O R I E S


Undo curbs, Sheila tells Centre
CM wants control as well as teeth
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 16
Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Friday sought from the Centre a detailed review of the working of local authorities such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) with a view to bringing them under the administrative control of the “elected government of Delhi”.

Addressing the Inter-State Council chaired by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, she appealed for delegating wider legislative powers to the Government of NCT of Delhi in planning, development, housing, public transport and civic amenities.

She also urged the Centre to replicate her government’s efforts at reorganising the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) into smaller and more compact units in order to ensure an efficient delivery system.

Referring to the partial statehood accorded to Delhi, Ms Dikshit said that ‘public order’, ‘police’ and ‘land’ had been kept beyond the legislative powers of the Delhi Legislative Assembly. “Consequently,” she said, “The elected Government of Delhi has been kept away from playing an effective role in the crucial matters of maintenance of law and order, Master Plan, land use and development.”

Seeking her Government’s involvement in these matters, she sought from the Centre a consultative mechanism, whereby the Government of NCT of Delhi would have a say in decision-making.

The lack of suitable executive powers coupled with lack of co-ordination among local authorities such as the DDA, she said, had virtually rendered the Government of NCT of Delhi impotent insofar as prompt disposal of matters was concerned.

To buttress her submission she, in an oblique reference to the Prime Minister, recalled how he had to pull up the DDA for rampant corruption and inefficiency.

Furthermore, she said, restrictions imposed on the powers of the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Legislative Assembly in regard to introduction of Finance Bills violated the spirit of democratic system of federal government.

Referring to the Balakrishnan Committee Report on the administrative set-up for Delhi, she said that ‘multiplicity of authorities’ had compounded the problems for Delhiites who had to run from one authority to another for redressal of their grievances.

Responding to the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said that the Union-State relations in the sphere of education related only to the extent of setting up norms and standards of performance as determined by the Centre. On the issue of curriculum and syllabus, she said that consultation and collaboration between the Union and the States must be there and these should be decided after convening the meeting of education ministers of the States.

The Chief Minister also recalled how the multiplicity of authorities was hampering the smooth functioning of the state government. Ms Dikshit said Delhi continued to be a quasi-state with no control over land and law and order.

She spoke of the recent Rs 100-crore grant of the Centre to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, undermining the authority of the state government. It set a wrong precedent, she said.

However, it was at her initiative that an effort was being made to bring about a rapprochement with the BJP-dominated Corporation. It was heartening that for the first time a delegation of the corporators called on her to discuss the issues.

Pointing out the failure of the Central agencies like the DDA to meet the housing needs of the people in the Capital, the Chief Minister said more than 10 lakh houses are needed to meet the existing demand and the quality of DDA’s construction is questionable.

Ms Dikshit lamented that the state government cannot fulfil the housing needs of the people as they are under the purview of the Centre, but the citizens of the Capital do not understand this bifurcation of power and blame the state government for its failure to meet the needs of the Delhiites.


Power distribution in private hands by Feb
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, Nov 16
The much-awaited privatisation of power distribution in the Capital would be wrapped up by February, which would streamline the system further and reduce transmission and distribution losses.

Delhi Power Minister Narendra Nath told the NCR Tribune that “We would complete the privatisation of distribution side of power sector by February next. Six companies are in the fray. Two would be selected and awarded the contract for streamlining electricity distribution in the Capital.'' The Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) had invited requests for qualifications from private investors. For the last five months, Reliance, Tatas, BSES, the RPG Group, China Light and Power and AES are waiting in the wings to bid for the proposed distribution companies.

The DVB’s transmission and distribution (T & D) losses are the highest in the country and a drain on its cash-starved coffers.

Narendra Nath expressed the optimism that “privatisation will curb the T & D loss, which is about 49 percentage at present.” The DVB’s anti-theft measures have only succeeded in bringing down the losses by a meagre eight percent.

The proposed privatisation would have within its ambit one generation, one transmission and three distribution companies. While the government would retain control over power generation and transmission, it would scout for private partners [51 per cent equity] in the three distribution companies.

Besides, the DVB will also have a separate holding company to dock the liabilities which it has inherited from the DESU. The DVB’s non-serviceable liabilities exceed Rs 10,000 crore, which include its dues to the National Thermal Power Corporation and the Delhi government.

With the unbundling, the DVB will transfer these liabilities to the holding company; however, there is still no mechanism to decide the fate of these debts. These companies would be allowed to raise the tariff rate by a minimum every year and the profitability would depend on the slashing of transmission and distribution losses. The minister allayed apprehensions that the private companies would harass consumers. But he stressed that no one will be allowed to avail free electricity. ''All residents, whether they live in slums or in posh localities, will have to pay for their electricity consumption. Anybody indulging in power theft will be strictly dealt with,'' he added. Meanwhile, the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has bagged yet another turnkey order from the DVB for setting up two grind sub-stations in the Bawana Industrial area of Delhi.

The DVB has asked the BHEL for two 66 KV grid sub-stations for improving the supply in the Bawana Industrial belt. With the commissioning of the units in eight months, an additional 80 MW of power will be available.

BHEL is setting up an environment-friendly gas-based 330 MW Pragati Power project for DVB, which is the first of its kind in the country to have very low emission levels.



Another businessman waylaid, robbed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 16
Three unidentified desperadoes riding a scooter waylaid an affluent businessman of INA market in the posh Safdarjung area late last night. They escaped with his bag containing Rs 2, 95,000 after shooting him in the leg.

The businessman, Ashok Dua, was admitted to a nearby Mahindra Hospital where he was reported to be progressing.

The police said that a case of robbery had been registered and efforts were being made to trace the suspects, described as young and ordinarily dressed. Their description has been flashed to all the police stations.

The police said that efforts were also on to ascertain if the scooter left behind by the suspects after the shooting, had been stolen.

Last night’s incident happened while the businessman was returning home in his car. The suspects manipulated in such a way that the unwitting businessman thought that he had hit the scooterists. As he came out of his car to check, the suspects accosted him. One of them pulled out a gun and shot him in the leg. The suspects immediately fled the spot.

The businessman is in the money exchange business. He used to carry large amounts of cash every day after closing his shop. The police suspected it to be a planned robbery and said that they would question the employees of Ashok and the employees of the neighbouring shops also.

This is the fourth incident of armed robbery in the Capital during the last few days even as the police claimed to have tightened security in view of the festival season.

Criminals near Kashmere Gate robbed a courier of a Jaipur jeweller while a personal security officer of a union minister was robbed of his salary in the Karol Bagh area.

A businessman of Gandhi Nagar was also waylaid and robbed of his money near Anand Vihar. In all these cases, the suspects had attacked the victims and then escaped with the money.


How many avatars, before Delhi comes into its own?
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 16
It was a perfect example of Delhi’s cultural identity in its myriad manifestations. Or maybe, it was an illustration of the lack of a distinctive cultural identity of the capital city.

The Lal Chowk theatre, one of the three amphi-theatres in Pragati Maidan, was virtually painted red by pulsating performances of various forms of art and culture associated with different parts of the country during the Delhi day celebrations on Friday in the annual India International Trade Fair (IITF).

The formal show began with the customary recitation of the National Song, Vande Mataram, by Reeta Bokil after the Chief Guest, Lt-Governor Vijai Kapoor and the other VIPs including Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, Minister of Industry Narender Nath and Chief Secretary P S Bhatnagar were welcomed to the open air theatre by an Uttar Pradesh folk dance performance. Noted danseuse, Shovana Narayan’s mesmerising Kathak dance recital under the starry firmament was followed by an improvised comical item of Sukkhi-Jagi, sending the crowd into bursts of laughter and lighter spirits.

A Bhangra performance by Pritpal Singh prompted many in the audience to break into impromptu dances amidst shouts of Balle Balle. A Qawwali recital by Abdul Hamid Sabri provided the perfect foil to warming down as also the atmospheric temperature which began to dip perceptibly by the end of the programme. The traditional recitation of the National Anthem wound up the programme.

It was a different matter that not many among the audience chose to stand up to pay obeisance to the National Anthem.

While the packaging and presentation of the cultural extravaganza was professionally managed to please all and sundry, a few questions were raised about the selection of the items. With an estimated 10 lakh Punjabi population in the capital city, a Bhangra performance was but a natural choice. So were the Qawwali and the Kathak recitals. “But should not there have been Bengali programmes, or for that matter, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam programmes. Is the Government seeking to please particular communities,” quipped a member of the audience.

“Delhi is a conglomeration of customs, religions and cultures. Its diversity is its uniqueness. Historically, the current existence is the seventh incarnation of Delhi and therefore the lack of uniqueness in the city’s cultural identity is understandable,” a Delhi-based cultural anthropologist said.


‘Halt conversions, to protect identity’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 16
Religious conversions should be stopped in India to maintain the centuries-old tradition and cultural heritage of the country, said Sri Sankaracharya Jayendra Saraswati of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam in the Capital today.

On the recent mass conversion of Dalits to Buddhism here, he said “Buddhism is not a culture, it’s just a philosophy and people cannot convert to a philosophy. Conversions would lead to re-conversion, and ultimately we would stand as a nation without any identity,” said the seer.

He said that Buddha strived for peace. His only aim was to spread peace, nothing else. “Will these people be peaceful or will there be any change in their lifestyle by just converting to Buddhism?”

The seer warned, “This is an act of politicians having vested interests. No one is going to gain anything by these conversions.”

At present, the sage is in Delhi to deliver a lecture in the three-day World Congress for the Preservation of Religious Diversity. Representatives from more than 60 countries and religions are participating in the congress.

He said that there would be elaborate deliberations on the different cultures in the world. “I started this congress last year. Today there are so many religious leaders from various countries attending it. This congress would focus on the conversion issue also,” he said.


World-class biotech park for Noida
Parmindar Singh

Noida, November 16
Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority is all set to establish a world-class biotech park spread over 100 acres in Greater Noida.

Greater Noida Authority had identified consultants who would develop the facilities costing around Rs 31 crore and manage it in collaboration with GNIDA.

The park will primarily promote projects in healthcare, industrial biotechnology and agricultural biotechnology-- both in manufacturing as well as research, says Mr Brijesh Kumar, CEO of GNIDA.

Apart from the pre-constructed factory units, developed plots will also be provided for the medium and large firms.

The park will consist of a technology incubator to enable the technopreneurs develop commercially viable technologies. The incubator will have laboratory spaces with all the utilities like gas connection, power, water, etc.



Gateway to Gurgaon

Gurgaon, November 16
The Improvement Trust has taken upon itself to beautify the city.

The Trust, responsible for the overall beautification of the city, has decided to install massive gates at all entry points of the city.

According to the Chairman of the Trust, Mr Ram Niwas Mangla, the gates will be named after past luminaries like Guru Dronacharya of the Mahabharata fame, Maharaja Aggarsein, etc. Also, the Trust has decided to install 50 signboards fitted with strobe lights. TNS


Alaknanda, Gangotri.... All without water
Rohit Wadhwaney

New Delhi, November 16
Running water comes as a surprise to the residents of Alaknanda but it proves to be no less than a miracle to the inhabitants of Godavari Apartments at the other end of the area.

The problem these residents face is almost like the one being encountered in Barmer in Rajasthan where people have to trek for miles to fill a bucket.

In Alaknanda water shortage has persisted for nearly 15 years and instead of improving it keeps worsening with the passage of time. And the worse becomes all the more worse in summer when the demand for water increases manifold and is at its peak.

When queried about the problem all that the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) authorities had to say was, "It is almost winter now - the problem cannot be that grave. It is usually during summer that water shortage poses a problem."

The official, requesting anonymity, said, "We have been sending tankers there. We are trying to find a permanent solution."

But the refrain in Alaknanda is, "We have not been able to use our water coolers in the summer that just went by". This does not come as a surprise as when the residents hardly have any water to drink how can they waste it on filling coolers. In fact, these residents were forced to call water tankers and trek a la Barmer to fill buckets.

"If the supply of water is normal then we get water for an hour each in the mornings and evenings and because there is not much pressure the filling time is reduced to 30 to 40 minutes," said a resident.

The DJB supply point in Greater Kailash II fills the underground water tank in Narmada Apartments – situated in the centre of Alaknanda -. The water is then pumped into the overhead tank to create a pressure and then supplied apartmentwise. It is a common system that provides water to Narmada, Gangotri, Nilgiri and Godavari Apartments. All these apartment complexes are named after rivers and it is ironic that they hardly have any water flowing into them.

"The associations of these apartments seem to be ineffective as the idea to dig up tubewells has not been a success because there is no water output from the main point, and they have not been able to get the common basic supply point of the DJB to improve its 15-year-old supply system," said Mr R.K. Ohri, a resident of Godavari Apartments.

"They (welfare associations) are not able to control residents using boosters on their mainline, which suck out the water passing by," he added.

According to Mr A.C. Arora, secretary of the Godavari Residents' Welfare Association, all residents should cooperate and remove the boosters which they have installed from the mainlines "so that whatever little water we get can be shared equally."

As for the DJB officials, in all these 15 years they haven't even once bothered to check the miserable state the apartments are in when it comes to water.

A complaint was made long ago and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) did try and help them. A tubewell was dug up in the complex but that did not work as the water table in Delhi had dipped too low. Today that tubewell has been affected with rust.

“As a citizen I have right to water," insisted Mr Sohail Rehman, a resident. "The supply or duration of water must be increased. The way things are aggravating we shudder to stay in these flats. We may also have to resort to the illegal method of installing boosters," said Mr Rehman.



The lords of the road add to Sonepat’s stench
R. D. Sapra

Sonepat, November 16
There is something rotten in the city. Stray cattle put in a sudden appearance in the midst of speeding vehicles, dangerously disrupting the already chaotic flow of traffic. Besides, a large number of cows and buffaloes which should be confined to the sheds in dairy colonies are left free to roam the streets. They graze on the lush lawns of the parks in various residential colonies and then urinate and defecate on the roads.

Similarly, most of the city's roads have been invaded by donkeys and pigs posing not just a traffic hazard but a serious health hazard as well.

It is a common sight to see cows, donkeys and pigs on the main roads. Insanitary conditions apart, the malodour is overpowering so much so that at times motorists stuck in a traffic jams roll up their car windows. Residential colonies inhabited by both the affluent and poorer sections have not been spared the onslaught of cattle and pigs. Cattle squatting in the narrow and filthy bylanes in colonies create insanitary conditions besides posing a threat to the auto vehicles negotiating the lanes.

Dairy owners are seen in every street of the city and they keep their animals in violation of the municipal by-laws. The municipal council does not make much efforts to catch the stray cattle. To cap it, a cattle owner can get his animal freed simply by producing a letter of recommendation from the political bosses. So, the cattle continue to menace the city.

The number of stray cattle has increased considerably and the herds have made the roads their homes. The employees of the municipal council are helpless to catch them as they do not have the vehicles to carry them. Similarly, the menace of pigs has assumed an alarming proportion. Unauthorised hawkers are a also public nuisance as they create slum-like conditions, traffic chaos and social hazards.

It is necessary to evolve a clear-cut policy regarding the hawkers and their licensing. Prosecution has to be made stringent otherwise the problem will assume grim overtones.

It is also true that the hawkers are encouraged to stay where they are by the corrupt staff of various official agencies as well as the political bosses.

In Ashok Nagar (kutche quarters), a thickly populated area of the city, not a single squatter has been paying any licence fee to the municipal council and the staff do not dare challan them, despite the fact that the shopkeepers and rehriwalas selling the vegetables and fruit create insanitary conditions in the main streets. Similarly, a large number of wooden stalls had been put along the boundary walls of the godown of the Food and Supplies Department in Model Town and the PWD (B and R) rest house as well as the office of the fisheries department. The condition outside the general bus stand is the worst as the wooden stalls and ‘rehris’ were posing a traffic hazard where the pedestrians cannot move freely.

The rotten fruit and vegetables thrown by the ‘rehriwalas’ all around invite stray cattle to add to the squalor and slush. This has also led to many accidents. The hawkers in the area of grain and vegetable markets pose another serious health hazard. The hawkers sell contaminated food items, rotten vegetables and fruit outside the educational institutions in the city owing to the failure of the authorities to check the sale of sub-standard foodstuff.



Kashmiriyat: The siege within
Smriti Kak

New Delhi, November16
The Mattoos in Delhi's Pamposh Enclave are celebrating their son's wedding. Every one is happily busy. But Umasheori, the groom's granny, has a forlorn look on her face. An illiterate woman, she is left lamenting her handicap. She cannot talk in Hindi and her grand daughter-in-law being a Tamilian cannot speak Kashmiri.

For most of us this fails to assume the impact which it has made on Umasheori. The doting grandmother who had once dreamt of bringing a "fairy" home for her grandson is today a mute spectator of his marital bliss. The only communication that she has with her “fairy” is a wide smile, a vigorous shake of hands followed by warm kisses.

"The older generation is finding it tough to welcome inter-caste marriages, primarily because it isolates them and they fear that the community will dwindle if children continue to marry outside the community", says Mr T.K. Dhar, adding that his daughter's marriage to a Bengali created quite a "furore" in his family.

Inter-caste weddings as a rule are not welcome in any community but the changing trends and tendencies make families surrender and give in. The Kashmiri Pandit population has always been on the lower side. A decrease in the population due to migration and now rising incidents of inter-caste marriages have caused a further slump in the number.

Even during normal times Pandits went in for small families. But the cost of migration and dislocation has had its manifestations in decreased fertility rates as often several members of families had to share a single room. Even today with a sizeable number of people living in camps the condition has not improved.

Another reason for the increase in the inter-caste weddings is that the parents of the girls are opting for boys who do not live in the migrant camps. “There are hardly any amenities in camps. Who will want their daughters to stay in these pigeonholes all their lives? And to find a match for boys and girls who are camp residents is a very difficult task. So girls especially are opting for marriages outside the community”, pointed out a camp resident.

There are other reasons besides the dwindling population which are worrying people. Kashmiriyat, which is to this community an essential part of their living, is being threatened by the influx of the characteristics of other communities.

"When a girl from some other community arrives, she brings with her certain customs and habits which the rest of the family finds difficult to get used to", says Mr Dhar.

The girls who marry outside the community have more to worry about than just disapproving parents. According to the law of the state, any girl marrying a non-resident will forfeit her claim to her father's property.

"With hardly any property left, there is nothing left to worry about,” says a chirpy Archana who defied her parents to marry a Punjabi.

"There was a trend during 1994-96, when a large number of youngsters married non-Kashmiris, but this trend has long subsided. Most of these inter-caste marriages failed, proving to be an eye-opener for many", says Mr Yuvraj Raina, who runs a marriage bureau in the Capital.

Mr Raina is of the view that due to cultural differences many people found it difficult to adjust. Right from food habits to customs, everything is a challenge.



Can someone mitigate East Delhi’s parking woes?

Paucity of parking space, it seems, is a major deterrent these days for owning and driving a vehicle, especially in what is dubbed a posh area in the sprawling Indraprastha Extension in East Delhi. Already the parking lots within the societies are bursting at the seams with many residents owning two or more vehicles.

To add to their woes, visitors to these housing societies have to park their vehicles on the roadside at their own risk. This is because parking lots within the societies are reserved for the residents only.

Of late, vehicles parked outside are towed away by traffic police as it is being pointed out that vehicles parked on the roads add to traffic snarls. Even vehicles parked outside the designated neighbourhood shopping malls are not spared and there have been many cases where shoppers have come out only to frantically search for their vehicles. This when the decision to tow away vehicles has not been well publicised.

The rationale for such a move by the traffic police is difficult to comprehend. Prima facie it appears that the traffic police is averse to people visiting each other’s house.

Either they don’t want visitors to come calling or they want to dissuade people from owning a vehicle, given the already congested Delhi roads. Some cases have been reported of vehicles parked outside private nursing homes in the locality being towed away indiscriminately, in utter disregard for people’s urgent needs and sensitivities.

This state of affairs is only to be seen in East Delhi, which is home to a large number of professionals who travel long distances to reach their places of work. Who will compensate for the resultant trauma and the avoidable harassment?

Mala Choudhury, New Delhi

Soya milk

Thank you for your account of our recent donation of a soya milk-making machine to a New Delhi heart clinic. Research has shown that soya milk offers important health advantages. While medical teams are now unearthing striking evidence linking cow’s milk to a surprising range of health problems – from heart disease and diabetes to asthma and even prostate cancer–soya milk is entirely healthy and nutritious.

The biggest myth that has kept cow’s milk in some people’s diet – the idea that milk somehow protects the bones – has been dispelled. A major Harvard University study, that covered 78,000 women over a 12-year period, showed that those who drank cow’s milk had no advantage for their bones at all. In fact, those who got the most calcium from dairy sources had nearly double the risk of hip fracture, compared to those who got little or no calcium from diary products.

Similarly, a study in the journal Pediatrics, published in 2000, showed that the bones of children consuming a large amount of dairy products were no stronger than those of other children. Health is promoted by exercise and an overall healthy diet, not by drinking cow’s milk. Of course, some calcium is needed in diet and the calcium in soya milk, like that in green leafy vegetables, is free of health problems.

Unfortunately, many traditional recipes rely heavily on dairy products, and the recent trend toward cheesy fast foods further threatens to aggravate health problems, as your article noted. But it is never too late to switch to soya milk. It easily substitutes for cow’s milk, both in recipes and as a beverage and, in the process, it reduces cholesterol levels and promotes good health.

Neal D Barnard M.D., President, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Washington D.C.

Spoilsport SFI

The 'non-sporty administrators’ at the helm of affairs of the Swimming Federation of India [SFI] are certainly following in the footsteps of their elder brethren. Just as politicians tend to forget easily that they owe their august positions to the people, the SFI bosses are forgetting that they owe their posts to the sportsmen/women. Without them, they would not be there.

Sports is like war, devoid of ideal conditions. By furnishing the alibi that cold conditions will not be suitable for swimmers at the National Games in Punjab, the SFI is undermining the spirit of the swimmers who were looking forward to these games. The sport is bigger than these `supposed custodians.’ It is not their private fiefdom that they can `arm twist’ the organisers at the eleventh hour.

Sport is not a factory where you can produce goods by mixing adequate inputs. It is a long process where you hone/develop the neuro muscular coordination. The swimmers who are representing their respective states are not sick, unfit ordinary mortals. They can certainly withstand the cold temperature in Punjab. The SFI can take inspiration from the Delhi schoolchildren who covered themselves with glory at the recently concluded National School Games in Gandhinagar. These dedicated children were practicing till the end of last month and their training session would start at 5 a.m. sharp.

The Delhi Olympic Association held its DOA week in November and swimming was one of the competitions, where India’s golden dolphin, Richa Mishra, and fresh from the National School record breaking performance, Varun Sethi, blazed the pool. The SFI needs to emulate this example which personifies the commitment of the Delhi swimmers, coaches and charged parents.

If committed swimmers can practice in the `supposed all-weather’ Talkatora Indoor swimming pool, where the temperature is seldom above 22 degrees Celsius, then they can certainly participate in the National Games in Punjab, where events can be conducted in the afternoon when the weather is quite tolerable.

Swimming, which has the maximum number of medals in the Olympics, just next to athletics, is not a sport which can be neglected because of a few spoilsport officials. Punjab, which epitomizes fighting spirit/drive and initiative, should set an example for the sports fraternity and especially their swimmers by making a success of the task they have taken up.

Pritam Singh, President Alliance International Youth Affairs and Education Society, New Delhi

Mute inquiry

I am sure the Railways started the 131 inquiry line with all good intentions. However it has failed to anticipate that the people responding to the queries might consider the telephone quite irrelevant.

I called to inquire whether the Holiday Special, running between Delhi and Jammu, was on scheduled time. But the person who answered the phone did not bother to answer my question. Instead, he advised that I could check out the details when I came to the station. If this is going to be the stock reply, why have an inquiry at all? All of us can check out the details at the Railway station.

The personnel manning the inquiry counter are a window to the Indian Railways.

If they are discourteous, they not only bring disrepute to themselves but also to the organisation. It would be better if they are given a crash course in interactive communication; Or the Railways should hire some call centre for inquiry services.

S. K. Raina, New Delhi



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Speaking out, NCR Tribune, First Floor, Dyal Singh Library Building, 1 Deen Dayal Upadhaya Marg, New Delhi-110002.



Forest Dept workers to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

THE Forest Department Mazdoor Union has decided to organise a rally and demonstration on December 20 at Chandigarh in protest against the non-acceptance of its “legitimate” demands by the state government headed by Mr Om Prakash Chautala.

Mr Anand Sharma, general secretary of the state unit of the union, told mediapersons here today that the union would hold dharnas at all the district headquarters in the state to mobilise the workers and the employees to take part in the proposed rally and demonstration on December 20 at Chandigarh.

Dharnas would be held at Jind on November 20, Panipat on December 3, Ambala on December 4, Kurukshetra on December 5, Rohtak and Kaithal on December 6, Karnal and Panchkula on December 7, Sonepat, Gurgaon and Sirsa on December 10, Hisar on December 11, Mahendergarh on December 13 and at Faridabad on December 16.

He said that the main demands of the union, among others, included the removal of anomalies in the Chaudhary Devi Lal Vaniki Scheme, guarantee of employment to all the forest department workers and employees, strict enforcement of the Labour Safety Act, issuance of attendance cards, wage slips and identity cards to the daily wages workers, preparation of the seniority list, enforcement of the Minimum Wages Act and ESI Act, payment of bonus and arrears in cash, payment of salary on the 7th of every month and curb on the prevalent corruption in the department.

Mr Sharma warned that if these demands were not accepted immediately, the union would have no alternative but to intensify the state-level agitation against the government.

Found dead

Sher Bahadur, a Nepali chowkidar, was found dead in the market near the main bus stand here last night. Over-drinking is said to be the cause of his death. According to a report, the body was handed over to his parents after post-mortem examination.

JD (U) meeting

The working committee of the Haryana Pradesh Janata Dal (U) will meet on December 2 at Rohtak for reorganising the party units in the state.

Giving the information, Mr Ved Prakash Vidrohi, president of the state unit of the party, told mediapersons here on Friday that the meeting would also discuss the prevailing political situation in the state and the anti-people policies of the Indian National Lok Dal government, headed by Mr Om Prakash Chautala.

He also disclosed that the party had already constituted the youth wing of the Janata Dal (U) whereas the students cell would be constituted on December 2 after the meeting of the working committee. He also said that the party would chalk out the future course of action for strengthening the base of the party at the working committee meeting.

Expressing grave concern over the issuing of fake arms licences at Gurgaon and other places of Haryana, Mr Vidrohi demanded stern action against the officials involved in the racket exposed by the CBI during the surprise raids conducted at various places in the state. He blamed the IAS and HCS officers for the racket and alleged that they had encouraged corruption and duped the government of huge amount by pocketing the money. He also alleged that certain officials had issued the fake arms licences at the national and international levels and the Chief Minister had kept mum on the issue.

A thorough inquiry would expose more rackets and bungling of funds as well as the misdeeds of the officials involved in the racket, he said. Mr Vidrohi charged the BJP with misleading the people on the issue of POTO and the anti-terrorist order 2001.

MP’s visit

Mr Kishan Singh Sangwan, a BJP MP, will tour the town and the villages of Ganaur sub-division to hear complaints from the public and redress their grievances on the spot on Saturday.

Annual utsav

The annual utsav of the Samaj Sewa Samiti, a social organisation, will be held here on November 18. Quilts, woollen garments, blankets, sewing machines and tricycles will be distributed on the occasion.


NGO tips TRAI of telephone blues, suggests way out
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon , November 16
The Grahak Sahayak, a voluntary organisation, has written to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) highlighting certain issues that are affecting the telephone subscribers here.

The organisation mentioned that subscribers were affected due to the untimely delivery of telephone bills. Telephone bills were being dispatched to the subscribers through the postal department. Invariably, the delivery of them took the lowest priority and the bills were either never delivered or a delivered late. This involved a penalty being imposed on the subscriber for no fault of him, it said.

It suggested that if the postal department was not in a position to deliver the bills in time, a system of courier services on contract could be introduced.

It would ensure the delivery of bills in time and give at least 10 days to the consumers to pay their bills as was being done by the Haryana State Electricity Department, the organisation said.

The president of the Grahak Sahayak, Col H. N. Handa, said that the existing telephone directory was totally out of date and measures should be taken to update the same expeditiously.

The Grahak Sahayak, registered with the TRAI as an NGO for consumer affairs, wrote that the subscribers had to pay separately for the services of accessories like EPABX, FAX etc. The license fees on these services should be added to the existing telephone bills and be allowed for the payment in the same manner as for the telephone bills, appealed the voluntary body to the TRAI.

It further suggested the visiting hours for meeting senior officials of the departments should be kept flexible for the old, disabled and women. For them, the meeting time should be not restricted to the fixed hours. It lamented that the above mentioned suggestions had been accepted on a number of occasions but they had not been implemented so far.


Rs 8 cr for Gulawathi-Dasna road
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, November 16
An amount of over Rs 8 crore has been sanctioned by the Central Road Corporation for the construction of the 27 km-long Gulawathi-Dasna road. Besides, the World Bank and other financial institutions have sanctioned Rs 1 crore for laying other roads in the district.

The Lok Sabha member from Ghaziabad, Dr Ramesh Chand Tomar, said that villagers had to face a lot of inconvenience due to the poor state of the road linking Dasna Musori to Gulawathi via Dholana. The Central Road Corporation had sanctioned the amount for the 8-metre-wide road after a lot of persuasion, he said.

The work on the project was expected to start soon, Dr Tomar said and added that one-fourth of the amount would be made available by the corporation by March 2002 and the balance would be released in the next one year. The Lok Sabha member said that with Rs 3 crore grant, a road from Sekheda to Datyana and from Sambhawali to Haroda would be constructed under a World Bank project. Besides, Rs 1 crore would be released for the construction of a district hospital in Sanjay Nagar. Dr Tomar said that he was trying to get roads constructed through market committees also.

Connecting roads from the Garh road to Bharat Gas godown, from Bhatyana to Baroda Sahini, from Railway road to Assoda, from the Meerut road to Assoda, from the Delhi road to Dhuri, from Bhatyana to Naan and from Kavli to Anwarpur were also under construction in the Hapur area.

Dr Tomar claimed that Ghaziabad district topped in the matter of roads in the state. Almost 100 per cent villages in the district were connected with link roads.

He said that all villages in the district would have telephone connectivity by March 2002. A project for the development of Ghaziabad Railway station had also been prepared. A main entrance at the new platform No. 1 would be made so that people don’t have to use overhead bridge even for entering the railway station.

Dr Tomar also informed that those who could not get their photo identity cards made earlier could do so between November 29 and December 15.


Staff dharna enters 11th day
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 16
After Escorts, it’s the turn of workers of Bhartiya Cutler Hammer Factory here to go on an agitation to seek acceptance of their demands. The dharna of the employees union of the factory entered the 11th day today.

The company management has reportedly declined to recognise a new union of workers recently set up. The agitating workers have claimed that their union, known as the Akhil Bhartiya Cutler Hammer Employees Union, had about 300 members while the older union had a very few members left.

They alleged that the management had not been allowing them to operate their accounts in the bank located there. They have sought the reinstatement of some of their union leaders and recognition to the union with immediate effect. Some of the workers have also declined to sign a form before entering the factory premises for work.


Convention on diabetes from today
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, November 16
If statistics are to be believed, India will have the largest number of diabetics in the world by the end of 2001. To spread awareness about diabetes, the Diabetic Self-Care Foundation is holding its two-day annual convention at the Constitutional Club from tomorrow. The convention will be attended by the major eye hospitals in Delhi. There will also be free eye check ups.

This year, Dr Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital will be the main centre providing services to the patients. According to Dr M. C. Srivastava, around 15,000 diabetics are expected to participate in the convention.


Regularising water supply

Faridabad, November 16
The local municipal corporation has decided to regularise all “illegal” water connections in Dabua Colony here. According to corporation sources, a camp will be held in the area to collect applications and deposit the required fees from the applicants from November 20 to November 22. It is learnt that there are about 10,000 illegal water connections in the municipal corporation area. TNS



Robbery solved, three who duped jeweller held
Stones worth Rs 1 crore stolen on October 30 seized
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 16
With the arrest of three persons, the Delhi Police today claimed to have worked out a sensational robbery of diamond jewellery worth Rs 1 crore that took place in Jangpura in South district on October 30. The jewellery has also been seized from the suspects.

The suspects, Ratan Dubey (23), Rajender Gaur (32) and Shiv Saran Rai (30) were arrested from different places in the Capital.

The suspects had robbed the jewellery along with a Santro car of Mr Nayan Patel, a jeweller, who had come from Gujarat to dispose of his diamond jewellery to one Gulati in Jangpura.

According to the police, Ratan Dubey, who had contacts with the victim, hatched a conspiracy in September along with his associates to rob the jeweller. They convinced him to visit Delhi with maximum precious stones and promised him to get his stones sold at handsome price in the Capital as Ratan had contacts here.

The victim came to Delhi on October 9 with the precious stones worth Rs 1 crore and contacted Ratan Dubey.

In order to win the confidence of Mr Nayan Patel, Ratan agreed to stay with him. As per his plan, he provided a briefcase to Mr Nayan and asked the latter to keep his valuables in the car wherever he visited any buyer.

By that time, Shiv Saran had already got a duplicate key of the car made from Lajpat Nagar.

When he became habitual to keeping the stones in the car, the suspects decided to execute their plan. On October 30, Ratan Dubey took Mr Nayan to Gulati’s place at D-42, Jangpura to show the stones. Shiv Saran opened the car with the duplicate key and ran away with it.

They abandoned the car in the Kotla Mubarakpur area and decamped with the briefcase in which the victim had kept the diamond.

To eliminate evidence, they also threw the briefcase and clothes in it in the Suraj Kund area in Haryana and the mobile phone and other documents in a drain in Mayur Vihar in East Delhi. Thereafter, they distributed the booty among themselves.

The police suspected the involvement of Ratan Dubey when he came to report the matter along with the victim about the theft of the car. Several loopholes were there in the statement Ratan made to the police.

During investigation, the police called him to Nizamuddin police station for questioning.

He tried to avoid questioning several times which had confirmed his involvement to the police. Consequently, the police monitored his movement.

The police arrested him yesterday after they received information that he was planning to leave the Capital. During sustained interrogation, he disclosed his involvement in the robbery. Later, the other suspects were also arrested and the diamond jewellery was seized from their possession. 


Four hurt as groups clash
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, November 16
At least four persons, including two women, were injured in a clash between two rival groups following a quarrel among children at Pinana village, about 20 km from here, yesterday.

According to a report, the injured persons have been identified as Mrs Nirmala, Miss Meena, Mr Umed Singh and Mr Jagdish. All of them were hospitalised and they are stated to be out of danger.

A quarrel between the children was stated to be the main reason behind the clash in which lathis and other weapons were used freely. The police have registered a case and further investigations are in progress. However, no arrest has been made in this connection.

According to another report, two brothers clashed with each other at Juan village, about 15 km from here, yesterday. One of them, Mr Ram Kumar, sustained serious injuries and he was immediately hospitalised.

Mr Ram Kumar is an employee of Rohtak Cooperative Sugar Mill. A dispute over land was what sparked the clash.


Became cop with fake certificate
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 16
A Haryana policeman who got enrolled in the department last year on the basis of a ‘fake’ educational certificate has been arrested. He has been undergoing training at Madhuban in Karnal district.

The matriculation certificate submitted by the accused, identified as Shaukat Ali, a resident of Buraka village of Hathin sub-division, has been found bogus after an enquiry made at the institution from where his certificate showed he had got enrolled. The institution has been identified as Shiksha Parishad, Allahabad and its secretary has stated that the roll number mentioned on the certificate is fake. A case under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC has been booked against him. He has been remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by the local court.


11-year-old boy run over by truck
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 16
An 11-year-old boy of Bhadkhal village was run over by a speeding truck near Bhadkhal crossing this morning. The boy died in the hospital.

According to complaint lodged with police, the victim identified as Ramkumar, son of Desraj, was crossing the road at the time of the incident. A case has been booked.

Meanwhile, the woman, whose body was found from Gurgaon canal yesterday, has been identified as Rekha, wife of Ved Prakash, a resident of Sector - 37 here. She had reportedly committed suicide.



Industrialists develop cold feet over Farindex
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 16
District administration has called a meeting of various industries associations on November 20 to take a final decision on the holding of the annual Faridabad Industries Expo, better known as Farindex, this year. The associations and the district administration, which have been organising Farindex for the past few years, have been “doubtful” this year in view of the general recession prevailing in industry circles.

A section of the industry and business associations has opposed holding the fair, which is normally organised in the last week of December, stating that industrialists and businessmen are in no mood to organise or participate in any such event due to the recession and depressed trade sentiments.

A senior district official had reportedly stated recently that the authorities were in no mood to organise the fair this time due to various reasons. However, now they have taken a U-turn and have convened a meeting of various industrial associations to take a final decision in this regard.

Mr Rajiv Chawla of the Faridabad Small Industries Association (FSIA) said that his association would abide by the decision to be taken on November 20.

It may be recalled that Farindex was started in 1993 with a view to promoting industry and its interests in the region, which had been lagging behind in the past few years, claims a local industrialist.

Unlike Gurgaon, Bhiwani and Noida which had taken a lead owing to several factors, Faridabad lacked several facilities which were offered at other places, he claimed.

While the organisers tries to project the fair as important at the regional level, next only to the India International Trade Fair (IITF) being held at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, some critics describe Farindex as a consumer fair only, with showrooms and retailers of consumer items dominating it. It is just a place for getting more business orders or tie-ups between industries and business houses, they say.

The Deputy Commissioner, who won accolades from various quarters for holding the Farindex - 2000 successfully, was transferred from here immediately after the event amid speculations.

The fair is held jointly by the District Red Cross and Industry Association with an expenditure of about Rs 40-45 lakh and mobilises revenue of over Rs 55-60 lakh.


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