Thursday, November 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

N C R   S T O R I E S

 

 

Countdown MCD Poll
Cong pack quits to secure Shastri’s exit
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
All the six ministers of the Government of NCT of Delhi on Wednesday tendered their resignations to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, ostensibly to give her a free hand to revamp the Cabinet and add further dynamism to the Government. The ministers would, however, continue to fulfil their ministerial obligations, pending a decision on their resignations by the chief minister.

The Cabinet ministers met informally this morning before regrouping at the chief minister’s residence, where they put in their papers. The six ministers are Finance Minister Mahendra Singh Saathi, Power Minister Narendra Nath, Transport Minister Pervez Hashmi, Health Minister AK Walia, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Yoganand Shastri and Social Welfare Minister Krishna Tirath. All the six ministers are reported to have given the chief minister a carte blanche to reshuffle their portfolios or induct new faces.

The en masse resignations come five days ahead of completion of three years of the Sheila Dikshit ministry and in the backdrop of persistent demands by the Opposition to drop the scam-tainted Food and Civil Supplies Minister Yoganand Shastri from the Cabinet. Also, barely two months ahead of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections. The Lokayukta, who is inquiring into allegations of corruption and favouritism against Mr Shastri, had in his last order detected gross irregularities in the appointments to various posts in the Delhi Consumer Co-operative Wholesale Store Limited and recorded adverse remarks against him for facilitating his son-in-law, who secured orders for supply of goods worth lakhs to the store.

The Chief Minister told media persons that the ministers’ resignations had not been forwarded to Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor and that the reconstituted Cabinet would take shape at the earliest. The party high command would be consulted before arriving at any decision, she said.

She refuted the Opposition’s charge that the resignations were prompted by a desire to ensure the scam-tainted Food and Civil Supplies Minister Yoganand Shastri’s exit. Ms Dikshit said it was a collective decision of the Cabinet ministers and the Lokayukta’s adverse remarks against the minister in the ongoing inquiry into the recruitments and business dealings of the Delhi Consumer Co-operative Store were no provocation.

She added as an afterthought that the move was not aimed at any particular minister and that the government had only deemed it fit to review the performance of the government ahead of completion of three years in power. “The party,” she said, “has set an example whereby, upon completion of three years in office, ministers tender their resignations to enable the chief minister to infuse dynamism into the Cabinet and improve the performance of the government.” Asked if the decision was prompted by the Opposition’s persistent demands to drop the tainted minister, Ms Dikshit retorted : “I will advise the Bharatiya Janata Party to first set their house in order and forge unity, before pointing an accusing finger at the Congress Party.”

Finance Minister Mahendra Singh Saathi told reporters that the resolution to this effect was moved by him and seconded by the rest. He added that the exercise was in keeping0 with the highest traditions of the Indian National Congress party and the commitment to the people of Delhi. In a press communiqué issued later in the day, Mr Saathi said : “To meet the increasing expectations of the people of Delhi in the fast changing economic-political scenario, it is necessary to bring more vigour, cohesiveness and the political sense in the Government.”

The exercise, he was to add later, would give the chief minister the leeway to take all necessary steps to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Delhi.

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And all this charade for ‘tainted’ minister
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Ensuring an ‘honourable’ exit for the scam-tainted Food and Civil Supplies Minister Yoganand Shastri seemed to have weighed heavily on the Chief Minister’s mind at the time of authoring the script of the unfolding political drama. The last straw, however, was the information that the Lieutenant-Governor was preparing a report on the Lokayukta’s order on the co-operative store scam for the Union Home Ministry’s perusal. The spectre of Union Home Minister L.K. Advani’s ‘intervention,’ coupled with the prospect of BJP keeping alive the issue at Congress’ expense till the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) polls, were provocation enough for Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit to effect a surgical strike.

Speculation has been rife about a Cabinet reshuffle for sometime now with the Congress dissidents baying for the blood of senior ministers and the BJP playing the corruption card and seeking the ouster of the tainted minister. The speculation gained currency on Tuesday after Health Minister A.K. Walia was reportedly told to cancel his pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi and stay put in Delhi.

Besides, over the last week, Ms Dikshit had a series of meetings with the party high command and also with the All India Congress Committee General Secretary In-charge of Delhi affairs, Mr Kamal Nath. She had done the groundwork before embarking on a political gambit aimed at consolidating her position in the party and also infuse vitality into the organisation ahead of the MCD polls. The completion of three years in power and clamours for a review of the Government’s performance came handy, prompting the AICC General Secretary to cite the precedent of Madhya Pradesh, where a similar mid-term exercise was carried out.

However, Ms Dikshit has reiterated time and again that her Ministry was committed to good governance and providing an efficient administration. What hastened the decision, however, was the Opposition’s sustained campaign in the wake of the Lokayukta’s order on the inquiry into allegations of corruption and favouritism against Yoganand Shastri. The BJP had held a demonstration and threatened to drag the issue with an eye on the MCD polls, barely two months away. The corporation is controlled by the BJP and the control of the civic body is crucial for enhancing prospects in the next Assembly elections that would only be held in the year 2003.

Sources say that two ministers are likely to be dropped, although the decision has been left to the party high command. Over to 10 Janpath.

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BJP wants snap poll, may quit House en masse
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
In spite of Wednesday’s en masse resignations, aimed at blunting the Opposition onslaught on the Congress-ruled Government of NCT of Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday responded by seeking dissolution of the Assembly and holding of simultaneous polls to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the Assembly.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Prof Jagdish Mukhi told reporters that the BJP Legislature Party would meet on Thursday and formulate an appropriate response to the developments, but insisted that the Congress government had lost the moral right to govern and that the only ‘honourable’ option was to dissolve the House and call for mid-term polls.

He added the matter would be taken up with the Union Home Minister and “consideration” would be given to the suggestion advanced by a section of leaders that the Opposition resign en masse from the Assembly.

Describing the Sheila Dikshit Ministry as a “bunch of corrupt people,” Mukhi said that the “government that came to power on the strength of the onion crisis has lost the right to govern, given the slew of corruption cases being inquired into by the Lokayukta.”

He said that the Lokayukta was probing cases of corruption against two ministers besides the chief minister.

Dismissing reports that the resignations had come as a surprise to many and that the ministers had put in their papers of their own volition, senior BJP leaders said the exercise was a carefully orchestrated one and that the resignations had been “sought.”

Ridiculing Congress’ claims that the move was aimed at facilitating a review of the government’s performance on the eve of completion of three years in power, they said that pressure had been building up on the chief minister to act, given her government’s poor track record of undertaking developmental works.

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Exotic deer dies at Delhi zoo
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
An adult female Sikka deer, an exotic species from Japan, reportedly died at Delhi zoo on Tuesday, within a week of its arrival. The animal had been transported from the Jaipur zoo along with two more deer.

While the animal rights activist, Ms Maneka Gandhi, says that the deer died due to poor handling in transit and improper transportation, the zoo authorities maintain that the post-mortem examination showed intestinal infection and accumulation of milk in the udder.

According to Dr N Paneerselvam, veterinary officer, Delhi zoo, the deer died due to acute gastro-enteritis and not transport-related stress. The deer arrived on November 18 and died on Monday.

Senior Advisor and Trustee, Wildlife Trust of India, said that transportation-induced stress can cause death later also. ``The first few days are crucial.’’

According to the CITES authorities here, the Sikka deer (Cervus nippon) is not an endangered species and does not figure in Appendix I, II or III of CITES (Convention on Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna).

Joint Director of Delhi zoo, Jagmohan Sharma, told TNS here on Wednesday that the female deer’s neck was twisted when it arrived. ``We thought it was a temporary postural defect. It had been refusing food, which normally happens when there is change of place. We suspect that it may have given litter a few days before. We plan to confirm this from the Jaipur zoo. A combination of factors, such as travel-related stress, lower food intake, intestinal infection and accumulation of milk, may have caused its death.’’

Dr Paneerselvam confirmed that a sample of the main organs of the deer have been sent to the Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Bareilly, to ascertain the cause of infection. The report is expected within a fortnight.

Mr Sharma denied that the female deer had been procured only for breeding. We already have a Sikka deer. These deer (the ones procured from Jaipur) were intended to be demonstration animals. But the primary reason for procuring them is not breeding. We have got them in order to pair them with the male Sikka deer, because it is not morally correct to keep single animals in the zoo. Breeding is a natural consequence of pairing.’’

The zoo authorities said that there were no problems in transporting the deer. Ms Maneka Gandhi, on the other hand, contended that zoos should not try to transport animals, if they cannot do it properly. ``Moving animals from one zoo to another involves a 10 to 20 per cent mortality risk.’’

Mr Vipul Chakrabaty, Scientific Officer, Central Zoo Authority, said that the CZA endorses the guidelines framed by the Animal Welfare Board of India on tranportation of animals. The International Air Traffic Authority has also spelt out the guidelines. Besides, certain norms have been recommended by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

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Centre freezes seats in bid to bail out BJP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Centre today decided to freeze the rotation of seats in the forthcoming Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls – a move perceived by many as a an attempt to boost the Bharatiya Janata Party’s poll prospects.

“The reservation of seats for women, members of the SC, women of the ST and the manner of reservation for rotation of reserved seats in different wards for the next election to the Delhi Municipal Corporation shall remain the same,” the notification issued by the Union Home Minister said.

The Centre said that it had frozen the seat rotation “as the fresh delimitation of wards shall take place on the completion of the Census 2001 and is unlikely to be completed before the next election to the Delhi Municipal Corporation.”

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi had recently passed a resolution demanding a freeze of rotation of seats as it would adversely affect the poll prospects of the corporators.

Of the 134-member MCD, the BJP has 87 members and the Congress has 45 corporators.

As per the Act, one third of the seats have to be reserved for women and would be rotated after every election.

Both the parties had expressed concern about the uncertainty on the rotation, as they were not unsure of the seats to be reserved.

The DPCC president, Mr Subhash Chopra, said, “We had urged the Centre to freeze the rotation. However, we had stated that the Government should not postpone the polls on the pretext of seat rotation.”

MCD corporator Atma Ram Gupta of the Congress, expressing satisfaction over the Centre’s decision, said, “The move has cleared the doubt about the seats. Now, we can show the people what work we have done and they judge us, based on our performance.”

“The move is the right step as it would help the MCD corporators to go to the electorate with their achievements and win their confidence. Had the seats been rotated, the present seats could have come under the reserved category and the corporators would have to go to a new ward to contest, which would affect the development work of the area,” Mahesh Sharma of the BJP said.

In the political circles, the Centre’s move is seen as an attempt to boost the sagging poll prospects of the BJP. The Union Urban Development had recently given a grant of Rs 100 crore to the MCD for its development work. Further, the party is facing anti-incumbency factor, which would affect the BJP’s performance.

Sources in the Delhi unit of the Congress said that the move would boost the party’s poll prospects as they would have an opportunity to show to the people the “false” promises of the BJP and would win over the electorate.

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GURGAON
Govt milks its own trust
Ravi S.Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, November 28
Come to Gurgaon, if you want to make a fast buck. Of course, through dubious real estate deals, especially if you have the functionaries of the Government and the politicians of the ruling party eating out of your hand. Never mind the loss to the state exchequer!

The Improvement Trust, a wing of the Government, auctioned 14 shops on Khandsa Road sometime in 1996. The allottees were to pay the auction amount in four instalments within six months.

They, however, got the possession of the shops without paying the amount. Many allegedly did not pay even the first instalment. No one from the Government seemed to have made an effort to get the money from the allottees.

In the meantime, the trust was dissolved. Now, it was looked after by a sub-divisional magistrate, its administrator.

Many shady deals came to light after the INLD took over the government in the State and revived the trust.

It, however, had its own interests. So, it sent notices to the defaulting allottees, asking them to deposit the auction money. Some of the defaulters responded by depositing a portion of the amount.

The catch lies in the notice sent by the trust for collecting the dues. It did not mention the penalty interest that should be imposed on the defaulters.

Each shop owner owes an auction amount of Rs 3 lakh. Even by a conservative estimate, a fixed deposit in any commercial bank would have doubled in the interim period. The trust’s ‘innocuous’ stand has benefited all the 14 defaulters.

In fact, the State would have been richer by about Rs 42 lakh, even if a simple penalty had been imposed. Usually, in the case of penalties, the rate of interest rate is even higher.

Many think that a local politician, in collusion with the higher-ups in the trust, started the entire process – settling for only the original amount, which not only set a bad precedent, but was also illegal.

A member of the trust, Mr Anil Kholi, has raised a stink on the issue by going public against the apparent leniency shown towards the allottees.

He said that such frauds on the state exchequer must be reversed forthwith. Significantly, Mr Kholi is associated with the ruling INLD in Haryana. He is also a Punjabi leader in Gurgaon.

Mr Kholi said that he had taken up the issue with the Chairman of the Trust. The Chairman had just been saying for over three months that he would look into the matter. He further alleged that as per the rule the trust should meet after every three months. But no meeting had been convened. Mr Kohli said that the matter would be raised in the next meeting of the trust.

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Contractor stabbed to death
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November 28
A middle-aged resident of Chawla colony of Ballabgarh town of the district was allegedly stabbed to death by four persons while he was taking a morning walk today. The assailants were former employees of the deceased.

A contractor with a private limited company, Mr Budhram had walked with his pet dog a few hundred metres from his house at about 6.30 am today when four persons attacked him with knives. He fell down and succumbed to the injuries on the spot.

While the police have reportedly arrested two suspects, identified as Narayan Parsad and Janardan, who had earlier worked under the deceased, two others are absconding. Mr Budhram was living with his family in rented accommodation at Chawla colony for the last few years.

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IN PARLIAMENT
VIP safety under scanner
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
There have been no anonymous calls on the security of VIPs received at the Intelligence Bureau, the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr C. H. Vidyasagar Rao, told the Rajya Sabha today. He also informed that the Delhi Police were taking necessary measures to counter the threat posed to VIPs.

He said that the security of VIPs and general public was being reviewed from time to time in view of the inputs received on terrorist attempts to target VIPs, important government establishments, installations, major commercial centres and historical monuments in the Capital.

Admitting that there was a kidnapping case of a young woman against a police official in Connaught Place in October this year, the minister said complaints against police officials were being recorded promptly this year and suitable action would be taken against the guilty officials. He told the Rajya Sabha that till October this year, 2,727 complaints were registered as against 2,861 cases in 2000, 2,981 cases in 1999, 2,735 cases in 1998 and 2,960 cases in 1997 during the corresponding period.

On the ban imposed by the government on the recent rally of Dalits, Mr Rao informed the Upper House that the Delhi Police were constrained to revoke the earlier permission granted to the organisers to hold the function at Ram Lila Ground on November 3-4 as the inputs received later led to an apprehension that the event, if held at the same venue, was likely to disturb communal harmony and create a law and order problem.

Answering a question on banning honking of horns by vehicles at major intersections in the city, Mr Rao said the Delhi Police had issued an order on October 16 prohibiting the same within 100 metres of all signal junctions and intersections in the National Capital Region. However, the order had not been enforced so far as the Delhi Police wanted to make the public aware about them. But the police was advised to bring it into force after a suitable interval of time, he said.

He also said that though the community policing scheme had been in operation in Delhi for the last several years, the Delhi Police launched a modified scheme in February by bringing under one umbrella several schemes aimed at promoting the interface between the police and the public to make it more effective.

In the Lok Sabha, the Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Prof Rita Verma, said that the government had given its nod to establish a medical college in Safdarjung Hospital during the current academic year. The college would function under the norms set by the Medical Council of India and there was a proposal to admit 100 students, the minister said.

Ms Verma said that the government was already encouraging the propagation and development of yoga in the Capital. A project for strengthening the Morarji Desai National Institute of Yoga at an estimated cost of Rs 11.04 crore had been approved by the government. The facilities in the new complex included promotion and propagation of yoga, and education, training, therapy and research into the efficacy of yoga, she said.

Meanwhile, the Lok Sabha was told that large-scale digging activities by various agencies including the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the New Delhi Municipal Council and the Metro Rail Transport System had led to the high fault rate in the Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited.

The Minister of State for Communications, while relying to a written question, said that the actual fault rate in the MTNL here was high considering the target for the last three years. 

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Delhi’s monuments gasping for breath, need kiss of life
Rohit Wadhwaney

New Delhi, November 28
Ancient monuments in Delhi, which were the major reason for so many foreign tourists visiting the national capital, were dying a slow death “because of the lack of coordination” between various government agencies, admitted a senior Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) official but not before adding that in a span of “two years” they would get the monuments back to life.

More than age it was apathy coupled with neglect at the hands of the people and the authorities that had withered our national monuments, said Mr A.K. Sinha, Superintending Archaeologist of the ASI.

Mr Sinha said mostly the monuments in South Delhi, where the builder mafia was most active, were the prime cause of worry. “It is a fact that there are several monuments in Delhi that are getting destroyed because a lot of buildings are coming up within the prohibited area of the monuments.

Before sanctioning any building close to an ancient monument, the authorities have to take permission from the ASI. But they don’t do that.”

According to the Ancient Monument Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, any construction or mining within 100 metres of any protected site is prohibited.

“I hate to admit it but there are so many such protected monuments which have high-rise buildings barely 10-20 metres away from them. This situation has arisen because there is a lack of coordination between the agencies,” Mr Sinha told NCR Tribune.

There were about 166 monuments in Delhi out of which, Mr Sinha said, there were about 80 that the ASI was working “vigorously” on. “The major monuments are fine. It is the small monuments that have buildings either coming up near them or they have already been constructed.”

“We are doing vigorous work on all monuments, which have any sort of construction within the prohibited area.

The construction of buildings that were coming up has been stopped and the demolition orders have been passed for those that have already come up,”he informed.

Chor Minar, in South Delhi’s Hauz Khas, Jantar Mantar, situated in the heart of Central Delhi are just a couple among many other monuments that are in a state of neglect.

The same monuments that were once the pride of the area they were situated in are now almost like dumps because of the digging and constructions taking place close to them.

Chor Minar, which is more than 700 years old, has three buildings under construction within its prohibited area of 100 metres. In fact, one of the buildings under construction is just about 10 metres away from the monument.

The residents started making complaints to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), the police, the Urban Ministry ever since the construction started, but nothing ever happened.

“Obviously the builder must have greased the officials’ palms,” said a representative of the Neighbourhood Association of Hauz Khas Enclave.

Chor Minar is not the only place where such constructions have come up. There are several other places where the law, that no construction shall be permitted within the prohibited area of a monument, has been violated.

Mr Sinha said only if the government agencies were to take prior permission from the ASI before sanctioning any construction such things would never happened. “It is a fact that until a resident complains to us, we never even get to know that some construction is on.”

Like in the case of Jantar Mantar, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) sanctioned a building within the prohibited area without consulting the ASI, said Mr Sinha.The ASI has now stopped the construction of the building and asked the NDMC to take permission before the construction begins. “Obviously they will not get permission,” Mr Sinha said.

Though the authorities as well as people were to blame for the sorry state the Delhi monuments were in, Mr Sinha said, the ASI would leave no stone unturned to see that these monuments became our pride once again.

“Within a span of two years, I think the way we are working, the monuments shall be in the best of their beauty. No building or construction within the prohibited area will be spared. We have already made a dent with our efforts and this is just the beginning,” he asserted.

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Sonepat
Haryana accepts roadways employees’ demands
Our Correspondent

The Haryana Transport Minister and the Transport Commissioner, Haryana have agreed to fulfil all the “just and legitimate” demands of the agitating employees of the Haryana Roadways. This was announced by Mr Sarbat Singh Punia and Mr Jai Parkash Beniwal, general secretary and chief organiser of the Haryana Roadways Workers Union, respectively, at a meeting of the employees here on Tuesday.

They said that the authorities had agreed to regularise the services of all those employees who were appointed on the contract basis. Similarly, all the remaining demands would also be fulfilled, they added. The leaders disclosed that the union had already launched a mass contact campaign which would continue until January 16 next year. The main aim of the campaign was to apprise the employees about the situation in which the state government had accepted their demands.

Three shops looted

Thieves broke open shutters of three shops and looted goods worth several thousands of rupees at Ganaur town, 16 km from here, Tuesday night. According to a report, there has been a spate of thefts during the past few days which has caused resentment among residents of the town.

CM to open sugar mill

The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, will inaugurate the new co-operative sugar mill at Ahulana village in the district on November 30. According to official sources, this will be the second sugar mill in the district and it is hoped that it will meet the long-standing demand of the sugarcane growers in the area.

Elected office-bearers

The following persons have been elected office-bearers of the Engineering College Employees Welfare Association, Murthal (Sonepat district): president – Mr Anand Kumar; vice-presidents - Mr Ramesh Kumar, Mr Paras Ram and Mr Raj Kumar; general secretary - Mr Vinod Kumar; secretaries - Mr Suresh Kumar and Mr B. Paswan; treasurer - Mr Jasbir Singh.

Acid thrown on boy

A 12-year-old boy, Sumeet, sustained serious burns when three youths allegedly threw acid on him at Salarpur Majra village, about 10 km from here, on Tuesday. The injured youth was immediately hospitalised and is stated to be out of danger. The youths have reportedly told the police that they threw acid as part of a joke. The police have registered a case and further investigations are in progress.

Girl commits suicide

A 20-year-old woman Amita was reported to have committed suicide by taking insecticide tablets in the house of her nephew in Sector 15 here on Tuesday. The police are still ascertaining the reason behind the suicide. In another incident, a 28-year-old married woman, Sudesh Rangi, committed suicide by taking sulphas tablets in her house at Gopalpur village, about 25 km from here, on Tuesday. According to the police, she had been mentally disturbed of late. 

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Wield influence, steal water; that’s the norm
R.D.Sapra

Sonepat, November28
Farmers in the villages falling under the jurisdiction of the Rai Water Service Division have been facing an acute shortage of canal water meant for irrigation purposes during the past few months. They have also alleged rampant theft of irrigation water by influential farmers, backed by certain political bosses of the ruling party.

Many farmers allege that certain officials of the Rai Water Service Division are hand in glove with the influential farmers and are instrumental in hushing up cases of water theft. As a result, the sowing operation of the rabi crops had been badly hit.

Expressing concern over the inadequate supply of canal water, the farmers of many villages blamed the authorities of the division concerned for not cleaning the canals, distributaries and minors despite clear instructions by the state government. They also alleged that the desilting operations carried out by the officials were merely eyewash.

The farmers whose fields are situated at the tail end have demanded a probe into their complaints about the canal water not reaching their fields. They have also demanded stern action against the officials found responsible for it. They alleged that the officials were misleading the district and state authorities by insisting that the canal water was reaching all fields and the farmers had no problems. But the facts were quite contrary. The farmers disputed the claims of the authorities on this issue.

Meanwhile, inquiries made by this correspondent have revealed that the farmers of the villages whose villages are fed by the Rajpur system have been denied the supply of canal water during the first preference period which commenced on November 3, as the authorities failed to release the water in this system. This has badly hit the sowing operations of the rabi crops in the villages falling under the jurisdiction of this system.

Many farmers told this correspondent that the authorities had placed nil indent on the ground that the farmers did not start the sowings operations for the rabi crops. But the farmers disputed the claim of the authorities and alleged that they were befooling the high-ups by showing nil demand for water. They demanded immediate suspension of the officials for their failure to ensure the supply of canal water during the period of rotation.

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Experts mull over fuel cell technology
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, November 28
The two-day international conference on “Fuel Cell Technology - Application and Opportunities” which concluded here yesterday succeeded in bringing together fuel cell researchers, manufacturers, suppliers and potential end users for an intensive interaction.

Organised at the Indian Institute of Petroleum Management (IIPM) here by the Engineers India Limited (EIL), a public sector enterprise, the programme began on Monday with a keynote address by Prof K. T. Jacob from the Department of Metallurgy, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore. He gave an overview of the current status of the fuel cell technology and its potential as efficient power sources of the 21st century.

There were technical sessions during the conference covering many subjects including the development status of low, medium and high temperature fuel cells, application and opportunities in different market sectors and research initiatives.

The conference was attended by delegates from around the world including from the USA, Japan and Hong Kong. Some eminent speakers from abroad who presented their research papers were Dr M. J. Binder and Mr Nicholas M Josefik, US Army Construction Engineering Research Lab, Dr Prabhakar Singh, Pacific Northwest National Lab (US), Dr H. P. Dhar representing BCS Technology Inc (US), Mr M Shintani, Toshiba International Fuel Cells Corporation (Japan), Mr Tim Leung, DuPont Nafion and Fluoro Polymers Business (Hong Kong) and Dr Anil Oroskar, UOP (US).

The Indian delegation consisted of representatives from government enterprises, organisations and academic institutes like EIL, BHEL, TERI, CGCRI, CECRI, SPIC Science Foundation, CERI, CMERI, NTPC, BHEL, CSIR, NMRL, INMARCO, IIT Madras etc.

The conference was attended by over 95 delegates and speakers representing organisations from various sectors like power, transportation, refinery, chemical, petrochemical, environment besides government and academic institutions.

It served as a platform for participation and integration of personnel from the industry, potential fuel cell users, suppliers and consultants. It also enabled delegates to interact and exchange information for mutual benefit and also to explore possible alliances to respond to the future challenges in fuel cell technology.

A panel discussion was initiated during the conference with the objective of generating clarity on applications and commercialisation status of fuel cell in various market sectors. The august panel comprised Dr Prabhakar Singh, Dr M. J. Binder, Dr R. Pattabiraman and Dr R. N. Basu. Mr Arvind Kirloskar, a leading industrialist and advisor of Kirloskar Oil Engines Limited, was the chairman of the panel discussion. This forum gave an excellent opportunity to the delegates to get clarification to many of their queries. Specific directions needed for the growth of fuel cell technology and its commercial applications were generated.

The initiative by EIL to bring together the fuel cell technology developers/manufacturers and its end users was appreciated by all delegates and dignitaries.

The conference was convened in collaboration with IOCL and the principal sponsors were GAIL and NTPC. It also had the support of BPCL, BHEL and HPCL.

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MCF does not believe in haste
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, November28
The work on the proposal to shift dairies out of the residential limits of the town appears to be quite slow. The authorities concerned have yet to identify the total number of dairies to be shifted and offer an equal number of plots at an affordable rate in an area acceptable to the dairy owners.

While it is reported that the number of dairies operating in residential areas of all three zones of the municipal corporation could be in thousands, the zonewise identification of dairies and arrangement of alternative space for relocating the dairies is yet to be completed.

The zones include NIT, old Faridabad and Ballabgarh. The urban sectors of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) are, however, free from such problems due to strict bylaws. It is also revealed that besides several colonies more than 25 villages, which come under the limits of the municipal corporation also, have a large number of dairies. Residents of sectors adjacent to these villages have been voicing there protest over these in their vicinity as stray cattle roaming the roads have become a menace in some of the areas.

Although the demand and subsequent proposal to shift dairies has been made on various occasions in the past, but a detailed blueprint is yet to come. But another section of residents, especially those residing in villages falling in the MCF limits, has opposed the idea of shifting their dairies.

The authorities at Ballabgarh town (zone) have made a move to shift about 100 dairies from some large colonies, like Chawla Colony, to shift its dairies to Mirzapur village, a few kilometres away. Although only 85 dairies have been identified in this zone, the authorities have offered plots of various sizes at a rate of Rs 1200 per sq yard at Mirzapur village to dairies of this zone in the first phase. A meeting of officials was held today in this connection. It is reported that the authorities have so far arranged 300 plots for dairies of all three zones, while the number of dairies is much higher.

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Elaborate plans for Gurpurab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has made elaborate plans to observe Guru Nanak’s birth anniversary with religious fervour and gaiety. The Gurpurab would be observed on Friday.

Elaborate plans had been made by the committee like illumination of the historic gurdwaras and special gurbani and langar to mark the occasion, the DSGMC spokesperson, Dr Komal Avtar Singh, said here today.

A procession from the historic Sis Ganj Gurdwara to Nanak Piao Gurdwara would be taken out tomorrow.

Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion, believed in the upliftment of the humanity based on truthful character and believed in the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man.

He did neither claim to be the sole mediator between God and the people, nor does he take the responsibility of the sins of his followers upon his shoulders. He advocated basic human values and did not accept segregation based on religion or community. Dharma had ended and the people suffered from grave disparities, exploitation, subjugation and demoralisation, he said. The guru said the distinctions based on caste were futile.

He believed in spreading the message of love, service to humanity, humility and equality.

Police advisory 

The traffic police have advised motorists to avoid the route of the procession which will be taken out tomorrow to commemorate the birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak.The procession would begin around 10 am from near Gurdwara Sis Ganj and end at Gurdwara Nanak after passing through the Parade Ground- Chandni Chowk-Fatehpuri-Khari Baoli-Chowk Qutab road.

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Showcasing abilities of the disabled 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
For the first time in the country, to highlight the vocational skills of disabled persons, a regional Abilympics covering both northern and southern states was organised by the National Abilympics Association of India from November 22 to November 24 in the Capital.

The regional Abilympics was organised to select contestants for the National Abilympics scheduled for next year. The winners from the National Abilympics will get an opportunity to participate in the sixth International Abilympics, scheduled for November 2003 in New Delhi. The Amarjyoti Charitable Trust is hosting the sixth International Abilympics.

As part of its initiatives, the HPS Social Foundation is supporting the effort. According to Vinod C Khanna, executive director of the foundation, “Abilympics is not for the disabled but for the ‘differently abled’ persons and we are supporting this noble cause. In the regional Abilympics we have provided the computer-related infrastructure for eight computer events.”

The association will also provide computer facilities for the National and International Abilympics. Moreover, the professionals from the HPS would utilise their skills and time in the selection and training of candidates in all categories of disability. The foundation is also supporting the awareness campaign through publication of newsletters.

Of the approximately 3,500 disabled persons expected to participate in these events, 600 will be short-listed for the National Abilympcis. From the National Abilympics, the Indian contingent of around 100 contestants will be selected for the International Abilympcis where 3,000 participants from over 50 countries are likely to take part.

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Boy among five killed in mishaps
Tribune News Service 

New Delhi, November 28
As many as five persons, including a boy, have been reportedly killed in road accidents over the last 24 hours in the Capital.

The first accident occurred when Mohammad Rafiq (19), resident of a mohalla in Azad Market, was hit by a speeding truck at Jagatpuri last night while travelling on his motorcycle.

Rafiq was immediately taken to Surya Hospital where he was declared brought dead. The truck driver, however, managed to escape after the incident leaving his truck behind, the police said.

In the second incident, a Blue Line bus plying between Najafgarh and Nehru Place mowed down two persons in the Hauz Khas area of South Delhi.

Both the persons were reported to be on their vehicles when the incident occurred. Though they were rushed to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, they succumbed to the injuries before reaching the hospital. The deceased were identified as Manoj (35), working with the Air Force, and Manish (36), resident of East of Kailash. The driver of the bus has absconded. In another incident, an unidentified person died after he was hit by an unknown vehicle at Hari Nagar, Ghanta Ghar. He was found dead barefooted on the footpath. The police have registered a case.

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