Sunday, December 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S

7 roasted alive in fire at PVC unit
Factory was relocated on SC orders
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
Seven persons were killed, most of them teenagers, and at least six others injured, including two seriously, when a fire engulfed the first floor of a PVC factory building in the Madipur area of West Delhi late last night.

The injured have been admitted to LNJP Hospital, where the condition of at least two was described as serious. The police said that all of them had suffered burns as well as from smoke inhalation.

The deceased were identified as Akbar (20), Kalan (15), Ramjani (17), Gulab (15), Shezad (16), Kamruddin (60) and Rahim (15). The bodies have been sent for post-mortem examinations.

The police said that a case had been registered and efforts were being made to ascertain the cause of the fire. Meanwhile, the Delhi Government has ordered a high-level inquiry into the fire after the new Industries Minister, Mr Deep Chand Bandhu, along with senior officials visited the spot. The enquiry would also try to find out if the factory was being run illegally.

According to officials, a large number of PVC factories are being run in the Lal Dora area and most of them had shifted here from other places after the Supreme Court ordered relocation of industrial units from residential and non-conforming areas. Residents of the area alleged that the factories here were not licensed and that they had not been adhering to any fire safety norms.

Delhi Fire Service officers said that the fire started around 9.30 pm in one corner of the first floor of the factory and soon spread to the entire floor, finding ready fuel in plastic sheets stocked inside. Other employees immediately evacuated the building and ran outside to safety along with the owner, Mr Khurshid.

However, some eyewitnesses alleged that the owner was seen persuading some of the employees to return inside and retrieve some costly machines and material. By that time, the flames had engulfed the entire factory and thick smoke from the PVC material hung over the building. Those who died were either charred to death or asphyxiated.

A large number of residents of the area as well as employees of nearby factories gathered outside as soon as flames and smoke billowed out of the three-storeyed building. Initial attempts by them to douse the flames proved ineffective because of their intensity. There was complete panic till the fire brigade and the local police personnel arrived on the scene and launched fire-fighting operations.

At least, half a dozen fire-tenders were rushed to the spot. It took well over four hours to completely extinguish the fire. It was only then that the bodies of the victims were found.

Meanwhile, official sources said that the Government of the NCT had also directed the Industries Department to ascertain if the other factories operating in the area and other parts of the Capital had proper fire safety precautions in place.



Dead men tell no tales; who will tell DSGMC?
Gurdwara staff suspended on basis of lapsed report
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
The suspension of two employees of Bala Sahib Gurdwara is turning into a major controversy as the action taken by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president, Mr Avtar Singh Hit, is stated to be based on a report submitted last month by a committee that did not exist as its chief died eight months back. The report, in other words, has no legal standing. Interestingly, the chairman of Gurdwara Bala Sahib, Mr Harmohinder Singh Dheer, has pointed out to the DSGMC president that no panel by the name Gurdwara Bala Sahib Sub-committee exists and that the suspension has been ordered in haste. He has further pointed out that the suspension was illegal as no complaint was pending against the employees. Mr Dheer has sought the reinstatement of the two employees.

The DSGMC suspended two employees, Jathedar Bhinder Singh (employment number 475) and Sevadar Kirpal Singh (employment number 650), of Bala Sahib Gurdwara last month on the basis of a report prepared by the sub-committee of the gurdwara headed by Mr Mohinder Singh Gandhi. The sub-committee prepared the report on the basis of a complaint filed against the two employees by a group of persons, alleging that they were not performing their duties properly.

Inquiries by the NCR Tribune revealed that Mr Mohinder Singh Gandhi expired eight months back and that no such committee existed with the Bala Sahib Gurdwara.

In his late 50s, Mr Kirpal Singh, who is the only bread winner in the family, said: “I have been suspended without any show-cause notice. I do not know what are the charges against me. Where will I go and what will I do to meet the daily expenses?”

Earning a sum of Rs 4,500 (gross income), he said, “I do not have much savings to fight the case in the court. Neither do I have the legal knowledge to fight the case. I am at the mercy of the gurdwara management and cannot raise the voice of protest, even though injustice has been meted out to me.”

Mr Iqbal Singh, president of the DSGMC Employees Union, said, “A large number of persons are suspended by the DSGMC on flimsy grounds without any show cause notice being served or reasons being assigned.”

“They are taken back, provided they please the persons in power and enter into their good books. Otherwise, these employees languish in vain. Most of the gurdwara employees are employed on a temporary basis and do not enjoy several legal rights provided to permanent worker by an Act by the government,” he added. Mr Manjit Singh Greater Kailash, a DSGMC member, demanded an independent inquiry into the whole episode as it involved the employment of two persons and the functioning of the committee. “If the two persons have been suspended on the basis of a sub-committee report, which is headed by a person who died earlier this year, and the chairman of the gurdwara has objected to the suspension of the two employees, then the office-bearers of the DSGMC should be answerable,” he said.



DSGMC census meet today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
Members of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) are meeting here tomorrow to finalise the names of census enumerators and demographers to prepare the questionnaire to collect other relevant details.

Apart from the DSGMC members of the census committee, members of the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party and Namdhari community would attend the meeting.

The DSGMC has decided to undertake its own census enumeration in the Capital to prove its contention that the Sikh community has been given under-representation in the Census 2001. Tilak Nagar has been chosen as the zone for conducting the enumeration and it would be completed within a period of two months, the DSGMC member, Mr Manjit Singh of Greater Kailash, told NCR Tribune today.

“The data collected by the enumerators would be vetted by experienced demographers. They would analyse the previous census data and try to analyse the pattern in the growth of Sikh population in the Capital,” said Mr Pushpinder Singh, a member of the DSGMC census committee.

In the 1991 Census, Sikhs were 4.52 lakhs out of the 94 lakh population of the Capital, making it the largest number of Sikhs outside Punjab. In the Census 2001, of the Delhi’s total population of 1.33 crore, the Sikhs are said to be 5,99,557, Muslims 1,338,297 and Christians 117,701.

The DSGMC is concerned about what it thinks is the under-representation of the community in Delhi. They also pointed out the estimates of different political parties before polls, which claimed that the Sikhs constitute 10 per cent of the Delhi population. The meeting also expressed concern that the low representation of Sikhs in the Capital would adversely affect the plea for second language status to Punjabi in the Capital.



Arrest of lady teacher opens can of worms
Parminder Singh

Ghaziabad, December 8
With the arrest of a woman teacher, who had secured a job in a Modinagar inter college on the basis of a letter, purportedly issued by the Uttar Pradesh Secondary Teachers Selection Board, the police claim to have unearthed a state-level racket in the appointment of teachers. A case of fraud has been lodged against four persons, including the person in charge of the selection board office at Allahabad. The Ghaziabad District Education Inspector, Mr Bhagwati Singh, has filed a report in the Kavinagar police station alleging that the teacher, Shama Afroz, secured the job at Adarsh Kanya Inter College, Modinagar, on the basis of a fictitious appointment letter, purportedly issued by the Secondary School Recruitment Board, Allahabad. According to the SP City, Dr Ashok Raghav, the teacher was arrested by the police team from the office of the District Education Inspector, Ghaziabad, who identified her as Shama Afroz of Piter Kunda, Varanasi.

She said she was an MA and LLB and had practised as an advocate for two years. She had appeared in a written test on February 21, 1999 for selection of teachers for inter colleges, conducted by the Allahabad Selection Board and was interviewed on January 1, 2000. After she was declared unsuccessful, she was approached by two persons, who arranged a meeting with the office superintendent, Mr Srivastava, who in turn allegedly promised her an appointment letter. The Superintendent of the Board also allegedly took Rs 60,000 from her for issuing the letter. Shama has alleged that the Modinagar College Administrator also took Rs 50,000 from her. She paid the amount from the retirement dues received by her father, who was a clerk at Gorakhpur Polytechnic.



Overseas manpower racket unearthed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
The Fraud and Cheating section of the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police Crime Branch has busted a manpower racket and arrested four persons. The sleuths have also recovered 39 original passports and passport photocopies of 200 persons, mostly hailing from Punjab and Bihar. The seizures were made at the Rising Star Tour Pvt Ltd in Lajpat Nagar.

The police have arrested D P Gupta (43), Kamaljeet (38), John Gorlier (62) and Neelamagam (35) and sent them to judicial custody. Further investigation is on to identify their accomplices and to ascertain the exact number of persons duped on the pretext of being sent overseas.

The victims were mostly labourers and had paid huge amounts, ranging from Rs one lakh to Rs 8 lakh, depending on the country they wanted to visit. The racketeers also charged Rs 30,000 for the fake sticker they would paste on each forged passport. Fake visas were also provided for visiting the US, Canada, Thailand and Germany.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Economic Offences Wing, Dinesh Bhatt, revealed that the gang leader D P Gupta was a notorious impersonator who had passed himself for a suspended Delhi Police officer, a medical doctor and a Class-IV officer. He was operating from his office in Lajpat Nagar as well as from his residence in Munirka. He also managed to collect names of some reputed European and American firms and fabricated their sponsorship letters in favour of his firms, namely, Rising Star Tour Pvt Ltd, Gaurav Import & Exports, Gupta Job Works Pvt Ltd, Azaid (Zab) Sidhoo Ravi India Carpets Ltd and Shashi Sharma Indo-Persian Rug Co Ltd.

The DCP further disclosed that Gupta possessed excellent communication skills and prevailed over his clients easily. On many occasions, he also paid small amounts to clients who would visit him frequently to ascertain their status. He would take proper security measures while putting the fake stickers on the passports and even had an ultra-violet glow lamp on which he would display the visas.



Sanskrit slokas are child’s play for these twins
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
If you think that only three-year-olds can find their way into your heart with their playful, often incongruent banter, think again. Dhruva Arya and Waiga Arya, both three years and nine months old, besides winning hearts may soon win a place in the Limca Book of Records for having memorised Astadhyayi of Panini containing 4,000 rules of Sanskrit grammar. That is if they make it in January next year, when they are ‘tested’ by a Limca Books panel.

“Perhaps, the first words they spoke were in Sanskrit. We are an Arya Samaji family and keep on having yajnas at our house. We noticed last year that Dhruva and Waiga were reciting Sanskrit slokas without a hitch,” a proud father of the twins, Mr Shyam S. Arya, told the NCR Tribune at his Faridabad residence.

Inspired by their sons’ extraordinarily proficiency in adapting to the classical Indian language, the parents put them under the watchful tutelage of Deputy Lal Shastri, a former lecturer of Sanskrit at Ballabhgarh Government Senior Secondary School, in October last year.

And within one year the twin prodigies, born on March 3, 1998, achieved the feat of memorising the complete Astadhyayi of Panini — the earliest descriptive grammar of Sanskrit. The title has under its head a collection of eight chapters, which are subdivided into quarter chapters each, which contain a certain number of sutras (definitions).

The decision to initiate Dhruva and Waiga to Panini’s classic work was a well- considered decision. “After talking to scholars, we found out that learning Astadhyayi by heart was a time-tested ritual. In ancient times, it was part of the regular curricula for students beyond 14 years of age in gurukuls. Therefore, we thought that it (Astadhyayi) was the most appropriate text to learn initially,” Mr Arya, a cosmetic scientist by profession, said.

Dhruva and Waiga were three years, eight months and 20 days old when they achieved the feat of memorising all the 4,000 sutras without a break. According to the Limca Book of Records, the record for the youngest person having memorised the text is held by Anupam Arya of Bangalore who had achieved the feat at the age of eight years and 10 months.

Mr Arya said that Dhruva and Waiga would be reciting the Astadhyayi before a designated panel appointed by the Limca Book of Records in January next year. Already, the wonder twins have won accolades from several quarters including the National Bal Bhavan, Gurukul Kangri University, Hardwar, Shrimadyanand Viadarsh Mahavidyalaya, Faridabad, and Haryana Sanskrit Vidyapeeth among others.

Unwilling to rest on this laurel alone, their parents have drawn out an elaborate programme for the wonder kids. “In the next stage, we plan to teach them all the fundamental laws of science (Newton’s laws etc) in Sanskrit which will be followed by lessons in Atharvaveda. We are hopeful they will master these as well,” Mr Arya said.



Lokayukta report could be a blessing
in disguise for CM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
All eyes are now on the report of the Lokayukta that is to be released on Monday. The report, which was submitted to the L-G on Friday, pertains to Delhi Jal Board contracts on “trenchless technology.”

According to sources, the report contains observations against the Delhi Jal Board, but there are no adverse entries against Ms Sheila Dikshit, her family, or the officer on special duty in the chief minister’s office. For the CM, the report could be a blessing in disguise for she is under attack, particularly after the reshuffle.

A section of the disgruntled legislators had been clamouring for the chief minister’s resignation, expecting her ‘indictment’ in the Delhi Jal Board case. The dropping of Yoganand Shastri, after the Lokayukta’s observations against him in the co-operative store scam case, was being projected as a reason for seeking the CM’s ouster.



Irrigation officials ‘fudging’ muster-rolls
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 8
The Haryana Government has been suffering a huge financial loss due to the preparation of bogus muster-rolls allegedly by officials of the Rai Water Service Division and the Samalkha Sub-Division of the Irrigation Department. The matter came to light in the recent weekly darbar held by the sub-divisional magistrate of Ganaur, Mr Jeet Singh Mehra, when several labourers complained about the non-payment of wages.

According to informed sources, the first method is to hush up whenever canals are breached by influential or unscrupulous farmers, backed by certain politicians by showing some mishap or the other. In this way, the officials involved in the racket get an opportunity to dupe the government and misappropriate public funds by preparing bogus muster-rolls in connection with the repair works and pocketing the money on this account.

It is also alleged that the payments made to the labourers, usually against their thumb impressions, were less than the amount shown in the muster sheets. Many labourers alleged that they had received threats from the officials if they disclosed the corrupt practices in the execution of the works and matters related to the payments.

Several cases of misappropriation of huge amounts have been reported to the authorities concerned but they had utterly failed to take any action against the officials involved in the racket, it is alleged. Labourers and people feel that a high-level probe into the racket is likely to expose the misdeeds of the officials in this regard.

Several labourers appeared before the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Ganaur, Mr Jeet Singh Mehra, at the weekly darbar recently and complained about the non-payment of their dues and pointed out that they had done the work of desilting the canals in July. The alleged that the officials of the Samalkha sub-divisions had failed to clear their payments despite the fact that their names were included in the muster-rolls. The SDM directed the Executive Engineer of the Rai Water Service Division to take immediate steps and clear the payment of their dues.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the state government has failed to take any action against the officials allegedly involved in the misappropriation of public funds in the desilting work of the Pai distributary as well.



INLD legislator’s son manhandles SDE
Our Correspondent

MR Dalbir Singh Dhanda, a Sub-Divisional Engineer of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN), was allegedly manhandled by the son of a legislator of the ruling INLD at his office in Sector 15 here on Friday.

According to a report, the son of the legislator allegedly raised a ruckus in the office as he threw and scattered files around. Moreover, he also overturned chairs and other furniture.

The incident caused strong resentment among subordinate employees who immediately sat on a dharna in front of the office to register their protest against the attack on the SDE and the ruckus caused by the ruling party MLA’s son..

Later, the legislator’s son came back and tendered an apology before the SDE and staff and promised that no such incident would take place in the future. Thereupon, the employees ended their dharna.

The incident took place when Ramesh Antil, alias Pahlwan, an INLD worker and a resident of Baroli village, went to the office of the SDE and sought an no objection certificate.

But the SDE declined on the ground that he was allegedly involved in a power theft case.

Thereupon, he went to the son of the legislator and complained that the SDE had adopted an anti-INLD attitude and was biased against the ruling party workers.

After receiving the complaint, the legislator’s son went to the Sub-Divisional Engineers office and created the unpleasant incident.

HBVN staff beaten

Mr Satpal Tyagi, an employee of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam, was allegedly beaten up mercilessly by a youth, Rajinder, at Murthal village, about 8 km from here, on Friday. According to a report, Mr Tyagi had gone to the village for distribution of electricity bills and Rajinder, said to be an activist of the ruling INLD, demanded his bill from Mr Tyagi. Mr Tyagi, in turn, gave him the bill.

Rajinder was upset at the excess amount of the bill. This led to an altercation and he abused Mr Tyagi. The Nigam employee then asked him to approach the SDO regarding any complaint. Subsequently,

Rajinder became angry and started beating Mr Tyagi and snatched the bills from him and threw them in the nearby drain.

Mr Tyagi immediately returned to his office and informed the officials and colleagues about the incident. The employees threatened to go on a strike if no action was taken against the culprit. Later on, the officials of the Nigam lodged an FIR with the police against the youth. However, no arrest has been made in this connection.

Two held for gambling

The Civil Lines police arrested two youths, Bharat Sachdeva of Gita Bhavan area and Rajinder Madan of Mohalla Kot on the charge of playing satta and seized about Rs 1,000 in cash and some other articles involved in the gambling on Friday. A case under the Gambling Act has been registered against them.

Woman crushed to death

A woman, Anita, was crushed to death by a running train near Rajlu Garhi railway station, about 12 km from here, on Friday. According to a report, she was crossing the railway track when the accident occurred.

Five injured in road mishaps

Three persons, including two women, sustained serious injuries in a head-on collision between two cars on the G. T. Road near Ganaur town, 16 km from here, on Friday.

According to a report, all the injured persons were immediately hospitalised and are stated to be out of danger. A case has been registered and further investigations are in progress.

According to another report, two motorcyclists were injured seriously when a speeding jeep hit them near Rajpur village, about 12 km from here, on Friday. Both the injured persons were immediately hospitalised. The police had registered a case against the jeep driver and a hunt is on to apprehend him.

School founder electrocuted

Mr Satbir Singh, a founder of Dev Rishi School at Bahalgarh, about 10 km from here, was electrocuted on the school premises on Friday. According to a report, the victim was unloading goods from the roof of the school bus when he was electrocuted.

Couple attacked for water

Mr Satbir and his wife, Mrs Lajwanti, were injured when they were attacked with lathis and other weapons by some persons in Jatwara Mohalla here Friday night. According to a report, a dispute over irrigation water was stated to be the main cause of the assault. The police had registered a case against the alleged assailants who are still at large. A hunt is on to apprehend them.

Mass marriage today

A mass marriage ceremony will be held on Sunday at the Shri Ram Krishan Sadhana Kendra at Murthal. According to a report, Swami Dayanand Saraswati will preside over the marriage ceremony.

DC securitymen beat up two

Two persons said to be the followers of Sant Babu Asha Ram were allegedly beaten up by the security personnel of the Deputy Commissioner near the general bus stand here on Friday evening. According to a report, both the followers of the Sant were engaged in the sale of books written by the Sant in a vehicle parked near Ambedkar Park. The incident has caused resentment among residents of the city.

Science quiz competition

Students of Government College, Gohana, 35 km from here, topped in the science quiz competition organised on the campus of Government College there on Friday.

According to a report, at least 24 students, both boys and girls, took part in it. Students of Government Girls College, Rohtak and Government Girls School, Narwana won the second position. Students of GVM College, Ambala Cantonment and Satyanand School, Gohana, bagged the third position. Mr Suraj Bhan Jangra, SDM, gave away the prizes to the winning students.



Sonepat rice shellers thrive on poor offtake of paddy
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 8
The paddy growers of Sonepat district, particularly at Ganaur mandi, are worried over the extremely small quantity of procurements of their produce by the official agencies. Moreover, the indifferent attitude of officials concerned has forced them either to divert their produce to the nearby Narela (Delhi) market or to sell it at throw-away price to the traders and owners of rice shellers.

Many paddy growers alleged that the officials of the procurement agencies were acting as ‘instruments’ for creating a monopoly for the traders and owners of rice shellers. The paddy growers also pointed out that even though they wait for the whole day to have their stocks auctioned in the mandis, it is always put off after some symbolic auction of some ‘dheris’ by the officials on some pretext or the other. Hence, they have no alternative but to sell their produce at throw-away price to the unscrupulous traders as well as to the owners of rice shellers. An official of the Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board told this correspondent here today that the non-cooperative attitude of the traders and owners of rice shellers and undue haste on the part of paddy growers to sell their produce, were mainly responsible for the whole mess. If the paddy growers exercise patience and wait for the auction of their dheris, the situation could be considerably improved.

He, however, admitted that some owners of rice shellers and traders are patronised by powerful politicians and bureaucrats and hence no action was possible against them. The paddy growers, on the other hand, said that the state government was responsible for giving an upper hand to the traders and owners of rice shellers. Representatives of various farmers organisations today warned the state government of serious consequences if the interests of the paddy growers were not safeguarded and strict measures not taken to end the monopoly of the traders and owners of rice shellers.

Meanwhile, official sources have revealed that 1,02,477 tonnes of paddy had arrived in the markets of this district during the current paddy season. Of this, the traders and millers had purchased 98,209 tonnes of paddy out of the total arrivals so far.

On the other hand, the official procurement agencies had purchased only 4,268 tonnes of paddy so far. The official agencies include the HAFED, the Food and Supplies Department, the CONFED, the Haryana Warehousing Corporation, the FCI and the Haryana Agro Industries Corporation.



Driving down to the medicinal springs
of Sohna hills
R Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

DRIVING down the road on the way to the Sohna hills is a nice and an enchanting experience. From the concrete jungle of the National Capital Territory, the road meanders through lanes and by-lanes of rural Haryana, with trees and the cool serene atmosphere providing a visual treat as one nears the hill station.

The motel wing at Damdama Lake is surrounded by trees and low hills.
The motel wing at Damdama Lake is surrounded by trees and low hills. The resort has one of the biggest natural lakes in Haryana. The rural setting around the lake provides a welcome break to the fatigued tourist of the metropolis, bored with the high rise buildings. 

Atop the Aravalli hills lies Sohna and it is perhaps the last remnants of the hill range, which presents a panoramic view of the surroundings.

The view from the hill top presents a picturesque setting for taking a dip in the sulphur springs known for its medicinal qualities.

`Sohna’ literally means `gold’ in Hindi. Little is known about how the place got its name, but as per the local folklore tradition, it is said that gold dust was collected from the sands of the stream flowing around it.

Adding to its beauty is a whiff of history in the form of a ruined bastion on an adjoining hill—-once a glowing stronghold of local chieftains..

Another hint of history comes from the Sohna town below: the waters, in times old, showed traces of gold, giving to the town the glittering name of Sohna.

To stay in Sohna is to relive some of the deepest moments of silence. Pollution and high rise sounds are a far cry. The early morning sounds are just the call of peacocks.

The chime of the temple bells tom the nearby Sohna town. The greens here delight with simple groves and clusters of flowers and shrubs. Sohna by night is breathtaking. For down below, the lights of the town glimmer like a million fireflies. A solitary vehicle shovels off the darkness once in a while. The only urban noises come from your room.

Sohna is famous for its sulphur springs, reputed for their medicinal properties, with the temperature ranging from 46.10c to 51.70c. The springs are located at the feet of a perpendicular rock, and are capped by a dome is said to have been built in the 14th century. There are several hotel complexes, which have come up at the hill resort with sauna, sulphur and steam bath facilities for the tourists who would like to enjoy the fruits of the sulphur springs within the hotel complex.

Location : 56 Km from Delhi
Significance : Hill Resort
Famous For : Sulphur Springs
Nearby Attraction : Damdama Lake

Another famous attraction of this hill resort is the vintage car rally, an annual event, which is looked forward by many motor enthusiasts year after year. The vintage Car rally is held during the month of February every year.

About 8 km from Sonha is Damdama Lake, which is one of the biggest natural lakes in Haryana. The rural setting around the Lake provides a welcome break to the fatigued tourist of the metropolis, bored with the concrete structure of high rise buildings. The asymmetrical mud and brick clusters of rural Haryana provides a vision to architects to construct eco-friendly structures with locally available material, which provides comfort and style. In November every year, it is the venue of an international Balloon Mela. Participants from different countries come here to take part in the annual event, which is an attraction to the people all along the competition route. These balloons, with different messages written over it and in attractive colours, have created interest among many to take up this lesser known sports in a big way.



Swan song of ‘Naini Jheel’ in Model Town?
Priyanka Gupta

New Delhi, December 8
Chirping birds, a lush green backdrop, children enjoying a boat ride, and ducks wading in water. This is the image that `Naini Jheel’ in Model Town, modelled on the Nainital lake, still conjures.

But nothing could be remotely distinct from this picturesque setting. The water pumps at the jheel are inoperative and the water in the lake has almost dried up, snuffing out the lives of many fishes and ducks. Some aquatic animals still survive, but only barely in the knee-deep water.

The Delhi Land and Finance Department developed the jheel way back in 1957-58. Then, in an ingenious move, houseboats — a throwback to the ones on the Dal Lake — were also provided. Till the 60s, the lake was sheer bliss for the residents, but in the mid-60s the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) took up the maintenance of the lake. That sounded the death knell of the water body. In fact, the lake dried up and became an eye sore.

Then, in another bout of initiative, two water pumps were installed and the lake was again filled up. New motor boats, shikaras and paddleboats were also thrown in, but the lake failed to attract visitors, owing to the poor upkeep. MCD also failed to provide space for parking and youngsters began misusing the defunct premises.

In 1993, Delhi Tourism took over the maintenance, but that arrangement too was a fiasco. According to HC Guglani, a resident and secretary of the Lake Area Residents Association (LARA): “When Delhi Tourism took charge, there was no infrastructure. There were no lights and no parking space. And with vendors swamping the pavements, the traffic was always caught in a snarl. We later established the LARA and asked the MCD and the Traffic Police to do something. Since then, we have been striving to make the area beautiful once again, but unfortunately the authorities are not forthcoming.”

In fact, the LARA got lights installed, earmarked a parking slot for further development and had the area converted into a `tow-away zone.’ The triangular piece of land earmarked for parking has not been still developed. Instead, the Delhi Vidyut Board has installed a transformer there. In 1998, the power supply was also disrupted as the MCD had not paid dues up to Rs.60, 000. In a last-ditch bid to save the lake, the residents approached Madan Lal Khurana, the then MP, who asked the DVB to bail out the jheel. According to TN Malhotra, another resident of the area, “Due to non-payment of bills, the water connection has been withdrawn and the water level has gone down to 2 ½ ft. We have tried our best to save this lake, but authorities do not care two hoots. Two swans were found dead a few days back and, if the pump is not operational soon, the pool of stagnant water can become a mound of stink.’’

The residents claim that they are caught between the crossfire between the MCD and the Delhi Tourism Department. However, the latter has washed its hands of the matter by contending that it is not earning any profit from the lake. MCD also continues to pass the buck. According to Deep Chand Mathur, Chief PRO, MCD: “A decade back, the MCD handed over the pocket to Delhi Tourism. Though the entire area is under the MCD, the charge of the maintenance of the lake vests with Delhi Tourism. The latter is responsible for clearing dues. The MCD does not have to do anything with the maintenance of the lake.”



Happiness is along the road, not at the end

IF you listen to conversations among the youth these days, you will discover they find pleasure discussing the latest in cars, in computers or whatever represents trendiness in fashion and comfort. And they learn to yearn for the best and the costliest, adding and accumulating a mountain of frustrations in the days to come.

For such souls, the discovery of the wisdom contained in the following lines could mean the cure. ``I had the blues because I had no shoes, until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet.’’ The lines should perhaps be pinned in the homes of all those youngsters who will, in the present environment of consumerism, constantly face the tragedy of “not getting what they want.’’

A wit like Mark Twain had opined that life presents two tragedies: not getting what one wants and then getting what one wants. It is a human tendency ingrained in the psyche to pine after what one does not have and fail to appreciate what one has. That is why contentment has become a rare commodity in people’s lives.

Dale Carnegie, author of several self-improvement books, once asked Eddie Rickenbacker, who happened to drift about in lifeboats along with his companions for 21 days, hopelessly lost in the Pacific, the lesson he had learnt from his experience. ``The biggest lesson I learnt from that experience,’’ Eddie replied, ``was that if you have all the fresh water you want to drink and all the food you want to eat you ought never to complain about anything.’’

“We are fearfully and wonderfully made,’’ declares the Bible. Scientists will tell us how marvellous the human organs-heart, lungs, stomach, eyes, skin etc-are. They are given to us to enjoy life and enjoy this world: to see, speak, listen, touch, feel and act. Far from using them as a blessing we often misuse such faculties. And what is worse we fail to appreciate these natural faculties until we lose them.

If you want to learn the art of appreciation it is best to turn to the biography of Helen Keller who was forced to go through life deaf and blind. For instance, she wrote: ``Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind.’’ She said that if only she had three days to see, on the first day she would want to see the people whose kindness and companionship had made her life worth living. She would call in all her friends and look long on all her friends and look long at their faces.

She would like to see the many books that had been read to her and to look into the eyes of her dogs, Faithful and Loyal. She would take a long walk in the woods. On the second day, Ms Keller said she would get up early to see the dawn. She would visit museums to learn of man’s progress.

On the last day she will be up to see the dawn, to discover new revelations of its beauty. Then she would visit the haunts of men, where they work. She would stand on the busy street corner, trying to understand something of the daily lives of people by looking into their faces and reading what is written there. She would also want to see suffering to feel compassion. She would like to tour New York, seeing the slums, the factories, the parks and children at play.

Contentment and joy do not result from possessions. They are rather the products of our attitudes. A poet speaks of two men who looked out of their prison windows: one saw the stars and the other saw the mud. What do we see? “If we have eyes to see,’’ wrote Dale Carnegie, ``even the blade of grass at your doorstep is aflame with the glory of God.’’ The ``firmament declares the glory of God,’’ says the scripture. But how many among us find ourselves at ease to have a look at the sky daily? See, the creator charges no special fee for the privilege!

M.P.K. Kutty



Vaish community peeved at reshuffle
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
Up in arms over the exclusion of the Vaish community from the reconstituted Sheila Dikshit Cabinet, the Akhil Bharatiya Aggarwal Sammelan on Saturday announced the convening of an emergency meeting of the community leaders in Delhi next week to chalk out a strategy for the impending Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections. Referring to the dropping of Mr Narendra Nath from the Cabinet, the president of the sammelan, Mr Pradeep Mittal, told reporters here today that it was a “humiliating” experience for the community.

He said that the office-bearers and representatives of the various organisations of the Vaish community, Members of Parliament, legislators, industrialists and social activists would come together to discuss the role and participation of the community in the MCD poll. A co-ordination committee would be constituted to convey the decisions of the community to the top leaders of all political parties.

Mr Mittal said that the community would observe a ‘Vaish Resentment Day’ as a mark of protest and Vaish families residing in Delhi would display black flags outside their houses on the day.

The protest would be observed not only in Delhi but also in the adjoining states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.



27 govt creches in Rohtak district
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, December 8
There are as many as 27 government creches functioning in the district, the District Child Welfare Officer, Sandeep Dahiya, has informed. While 21 creches are in operation in rural areas, six are in the urban region.

He told NCR Tribune that these creches had proved to be beneficial for working couples. Mr Dahiya said one creche each in Sanghi, Chamarian, Kiloi, Aanwal, Morkheri, Ladhaut, Dobh, Balambha, Bhainsru Kalan, Nigana, Mandaudhi, Naya Baans, Atail, Jasia, Rurki, Meham and Sampla villages and two each in Hassangarh and Bhalaut villages were in operation.

Besides, one creche each at Sugar Mills colony, medical college campus, police lines, Dairy Mohalla, Gohana bus stand, Gandhi Nagar and working women's hostel was being run in the town for the convenience of working couples. He said the infants were looked after at the creche from 9 am to 2 pm and were provided bread, biscuit, khichri, dalia (coarse grain) etc. He said 17 homework classes were also being run in the district for the parents who could not ensure that their wards completed their homework.



Surcharge waiver scheme extended
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, December 8
The Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) has extended the surcharge waiver scheme for power consumers who have defaulted the payment of bills till December 31.

Stating this here yesterday, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anil Malik, said the decision had been taken by the nigam in view of the repeated requests by the rural masses. He said a majority of the villagers were now able to pay pending power bills as their sugarcane crops had ripened and were ready for procurement by sugar mills.



Gang of pickpockets busted, six held
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
The Delhi Police today claimed to have busted a desperate gang of pickpockets and dacoits with the arrest of six persons, who were active in the Mangolpuri area of West Delhi.

The arrested were identified as Mahout, Mesh Kumar, Sangyo, Vijender and Prakash and the leader of the gang, Man Singh, who was reportedly involved in at least 10 criminal cases. He and his associates were arrested when they assembled behind the ESI hospital to discuss strategy for burgling a house in the Bali Nagger Area. The police also seized some weapons from them. With their arrest, one case of robbery and two cases of pickpocketing have been worked out.

Man robbed of Rs 2 lakh

Three unidentified persons snatched Rs 2 lakh from an employee of a private firm in Nehru Place here this afternoon.

The victim, Mr Vikas, reportedly withdrew money from Canara Bank and went to a shop to purchase a helmet.

While inquiring the quality of the helmet, he put the bag containing the money on a wooden table. The suspects who were three in number snatched the bag and ran away.

He raised an alarm but nobody came to help the victim. The snatchers drove away in a car parked nearby. A case of snatching has been registered.



CM asks cos to transact electronically
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 8
Expressing her resolve to make Delhi an e-city, the Chief Minister, Mr Sheila Dikshit, today said that her government was planning to make it mandatory for businesses having a turnover of more than Rs 10 million to transact electronically with the state governments.

She was addressing the 19th general assembly of the Asian Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation (ASOCIO). The theme of the assembly is “Government and Industry – Business in the Digital Economy”. Participants from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Mongolia are attending the assembly.

Ms Dikshit said the Government of NCT of Delhi was also in the process of introducing SMART card technology for citizens’ services. She added that all states should agree and evolve common applications so that citizens do not face problems while availing themselves of this facility when they move from one state to another. On the occasion, the Chief Minister appealed to manufacturers of computer hardware and software to bring down the prices of their products to affordable levels so that the common man could avail themselves of computers.

As is the case with television, which reach about 75 million households, Ms Dikshit asked the industry to seek ways for making use of computers to deliver government messages and services.

She said that her government was committed to making Delhi a cyber city and also an e-city for which it had taken several steps like making people aware of computers and information technology in the field of education, commerce and governance in the state.

The government, she said, had taken steps to narrow down the digital divide by introducing computer education in government schools and also by introducing computer kiosks in slums, while cyber cafes were being started at and around college campuses in Delhi.


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