Thursday, December 27, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S



Livid drivers turn ire on highway
Protest against immolation bid by tempo driver
R.D. Sapra

Sonepat, December 26
The police foiled an attempt by irate transport operators, mostly drivers of tempos, to block the National Highway No. 1 near Bahalgarh Chowk about 10 km from here last evening.

A strong contingent of police rushed to the site and stopped all tempos near Liwaspur village. The police officials asked the drivers to disperse, but they did not comply with the order. Thereafter, the police resorted to caning and dispersed them.

The Rai police arrested 14 drivers and impounded their vehicles on the charge of attempting to block the road. The drivers have been identified as Ajit Singh, Mahavir, Shamlal, Ram Niwas, Jai Bhagwan, Dharampal, Rajesh, Krishan, Naresh, Ajit, Sunil, Howa Singh, Jai Karan and Samey Singh.

They were protesting against the alleged high-handedness of the district transport officer and the police for abetting a tempo driver Krishan to attempt immolation.

Meanwhile, the police have registered a case under Section 309 IPC (suicide attempt) against Krishan on the basis of a complaint lodged by Dinesh Kumar, an employee of the Excise and Taxation Department, and started investigating the case.

Krishan sustained serious injuries in the immolation bid. He is being treated at a Delhi hospital. The police have since recorded his statement.

Krishan had accused the DTO and the police of harassing him and egging him on to end his life.

The Haryana Pradesh Auto Rickshaw Kalyan Sangh today decided to launch a state-wide agitation against the government, if it failed to stop the ‘indiscriminate’ challans of three-wheelers and other vehicles in the state.

Mr Satbir Singh Tonk, President of the state unit of the Sangh, told mediapersons that the campaign by the state government against the auto-vehicles was unjust and unwarranted.

He alleged that the district transport officers were not only harassing the transport operators but they were also being challaned on flimsy ground.

Mr Tonk demanded the immediate suspension of the Sonepat DTO as he was ‘solely responsible’ for the immolation incident.

Meanwhile, hundreds of transport operators, mostly tempo drivers, took out a procession here to register their protest. According to a report, the procession was led by Mr Rajiv Jain, General Secretary of the Haryana Vikas Party (VHP).

The striking transport operators and tempo drivers converged at the local bus stand in the morning after they were informed about the immolation bid. They parked their vehicles outside the bus stand and shouted slogans against the Chautala Government and the district transport officer. They also demanded the immediate suspension of the district transport officer and a high-level probe into the complaints related to challans.

Carrying banners and raising anti-government slogans, the processionists marched through the main bazaars of the city and reached the camp office of the deputy commissioner. The leaders also submitted a memorandum to the deputy commissioner, demanding stern action against the DTO and the police officials responsible for forcing the driver to attempt suicide.

Other demands in the memorandum include restraining the DTO not to challan the tempos carrying passengers, imposition of a nominal penalty, provision of scooter and tempo stands, time-bound disposal of challans and withdrawal of ‘illegal’ challans.

The Deputy Commissioner made it clear that on the instructions of the state government a state-wide campaign had been launched to prosecute drivers of vehicles who plied them without documents and licences.

He also asked the transport operators to submit their applications for seeking the permits without delay. He, however, promised that the vehicles carrying passengers would not be challaned in future. However, anyone found travelling on the footboards of the vehicles, would be dealt with sternly.

The DC also assured that the tempo driver, who sustained serious burn injuries, would be given free medical treatment by the district administration.



Loans waived for riot victims
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
The Delhi Government today waived housing loans of 649 families of 1984 riot victims in an apparent bid to win over the Sikh community for the forthcoming elections to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi.

Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit distributed no-dues certificates amounting to Rs 57.11 lakh to 649 families of riot victims as a rehabilitation measure at a function in the Capital.

The government has waived the principal sum of Rs 32.45 lakh along with interest amounting to Rs 9.45 lakh. The Delhi Co-Operative Housing Finance Corporation Ltd also waived a sum of Rs 15,21, 548 towards interest. The total amount waived to the families of victims is Rs 57.11 lakh.

She said the “decision was taken by taking into account the tragic circumstances which these families had to undergo at that time and also considering the humanitarian aspect.”

The decision to waive the loans of riot victims of the cooperative societies, she said, was taken in June at a Cabinet meeting.

Ms Dikshit said, “The Cabinet observed that it would be harsh to effect recovery from these families.”

The members of the Sikh community had been demanding the loan waiver for a long time.

This was among various steps being taken by the government to provide relief to the riot victims, Ms Dikshit said, adding that this measure had been taken in order to provide relief to riot victims to enable them to rehabilitate by providing financial assistance for shelter.

She also handed over no-dues certificates to three societies belonging to families of riot victims – Shram New Multi Purpose Co-Operative Society, Shrudhi New Multi Purpose Co-Operative Society and Shardha New Multi Purpose Co-Operative Society.

The Chief Minister said that her government had formulated a new Co-operative Act, which would help in solving the housing problem, as it would help in housing development and this Act would come into force from next month.

She also launched the website of the Delhi Cooperative Housing Finance Corporation.

The Congress-led Delhi Government, since it came to power three years ago, has taken several steps to win over the confidence of the community, which was shattered following the assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984.

The government had provided compensation as directed by the Delhi High Court to a number of families of riot victims.

Sources in the Delhi unit of the Congress party said the measures by the state government during the past three years had brought about a certain change in the attitude of the community towards the party. Moreover, with the passage of time (17 years have elapsed since the riots), the wounds had also started healing.



IGL to move court, if CNG buses are not picked up
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
The Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) on Wednesday reiterated that there was no shortage of CNG and that it could make adequate supplies, provided “the government is willing to phase out diesel buses and replace them with CNG-driven vehicles.”

Apportioning the blame on the Government of NCT of Delhi for confounding the confusion, IGL’s Director (Commercial) L Lobo said that he would be left with no option than to seek relief from the courts if CNG vehicles were not inducted in the city’s fleet of buses. “If the Government of NCT of Delhi does not pick up CNG vehicles, I will complain to the Supreme Court,” Mr Lobo told the NCR Tribune.

“We have invited and opened the Letters of Credit of foreign agencies and placed orders for equipment etc. Contracts have been awarded for other works. IGL has also made investments for setting up filling stations. Now if the Government of NCT of Delhi cries foul, what happens to our investments ?” Mr Lobo wants to know and goes on to explode certain “myths” propagated by the government.

MYTH NO 1: CNG buses not readily available Accusing the government of taking recourse to rhetoric, Mr Lobo told this newspaper about 1,000 chassis each are lying with Ashok Leyland and Telco – the two principal manufacturers of CNG buses – and neither the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) nor the private bus operators are approaching them. “On the one hand, there are no takers for CNG buses, on the other, the government claims CNG buses are not readily available,” he said.

Dismissing Transport Minister Ajay Maken’s claims of the Union Ministry of Surface Transport not having declared safety norms for CNG buses as dilatory tactics, adopted primarily to evade court’s strictures, the IGL official said “improper installation and usage of conversion kits” and “inadequate training of personnel, including drivers,” should be blamed for the incidents of buses catching fire.

MYTH NO 2: Long queues at CNG filling stations The IGL, he says, had suggested to the Government of NCT of Delhi to have DTC and private buses line up for fuel at filling stations in the night in order to avoid dead mileage (when DTC buses remain off the roads, causing revenue loss to the Corporation) and to ease the pressure on filling stations so that TSRs etc could refuel conveniently. “We have dedicated filling stations for DTC buses and other refuelling points on the periphery of city limits for private buses. If they do that, where does the question of dead mileage arise?”

MYTH NO 3: Shortage of CNG The IGL officials say that the supply of CNG is commensurate with the number of CNG-driven buses plying the city. As against the capacity of supplying 4.4 lakh kilogrammes a day, the “demand” has come down from 3.7 lakh kilogrammes a day to about 3.2 lakh kilogrammes a day.

Assuring a sustained supply of CNG even after March 2002, Mr Lobo says that the capacity is likely to increase to about 5 lakh kilogrammes a day after three more compressors come into operation next month.

The new pipeline stretching from Dhaula Kuan to GT Karnal Road, according to the IGL officials, would also ease the pressure on the availability of CNG. It would also enable uniform distribution of filling stations, particularly in the West. The process of laying this “loop line” to augment the two existing pipelines that extend to the Gurgaon factory of Maruti Udyog Limited and Bahadurgarh has, however, become mired in controversies. While the IGL would like to have the pipeline laid along the Ring Road, the “corridor” passing through the Dhaula Kuan Ridge (a green belt) has been suggested as an alternative. According to observers, the Government of NCT of Delhi seems to have tied itself in knots over the CNG issue by first promising to deliver and then retracting from its commitments. And in its endeavour to “strike the right balance” between honouring the court’s directions and keeping the stake- holders – commuters and private bus operators – in good humour, they say, the government is likely to end up defaulting on the deadline.



Soon every dog will have his day of sterilisation 
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
Having failed to cap the burgeoning population in the Capital, which has crossed 1.32 crore according to the last census, the Delhi Government is now planning to take on the ballooning canine population.

A long-drawn special task force meeting, chaired by none other than the Health Minister of the NCT Government, Dr A K Walia, today decided to unleash a war on the stray dogs by sterilising at least 20,000 dogs every year.

Ostensibly, the move is aimed at checking the incidence of rabies due to dog bite. Official figures maintain that there are over three lakh masterless canines in the city and more than 45,000 cases of dog bites are reported in various government and local hospitals. Add to this, a large number of unreported cases, and those being treated at private nursing homes. The authorities face a herculean task indeed, keeping in mind the number of rabies cases.

The medical and supervisory infrastructure for this task is already in place. The Animal Husbandry Department of the NCT Government, Dr Walia informed, has established four specially customised kennels, equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Each of the kennels will have a capacity to sterilise 80 dogs.

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) will pitch in with their resources. The civic agencies will ply five specially equipped vehicles. They will help the designated non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and catch the stray dogs. Once the sterilisation process is completed, the dogs will be brought back to the same locality.

Apparently, the minister has already issued instructions to replace the ‘sheep nervous tissue’ vaccine with ‘chick embryo’ vaccine, which is said to be more effective with minimal side-effects.

However, the measures, once implemented, could face stiff resistance from the environmentalists and animal protectionists, who often point out that such a move was “inhuman” and against the “ethical rights of animals”.

In an apparent move to scuttle any subsequent protest by animal lovers, the state government has involved several non-government organisations, including Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre.

However, there is skepticism among the vets over the efficacy of the programme. “Similar measures initiated in other metros had to abandoned because of the hue and cry raised by some organisation,” said a senior official of the animal husbandry department.

Among those who attended the strategy planning session, included Director (Health Services) Dr R N Baishya, Director (National Institute of Communicable Diseases) Dr K K Datta, Director (Animal Husbandry) and health directors of New Delhi Municipal Council and Municipal Corporation of Delhi and representatives of NGOs.



ASI missing for 8 yrs, case filed now
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 26
Shamsher Singh, an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of Haryana Police, is reported to be missing since February 1993. His father, an ex-serviceman, suspects that his son was kidnapped and later murdered. The victim’s father has now got a case registered at Ballabgarh police station. In his complaint, he has sought a thorough probe into the case as he doubts the hand of his wife, father-in-law and another accused, identified as Satish, a resident of Faridabad, in the disappearance of his son.

It is also reported that Shamsher suspected his wife Kamla of having illicit relations. This often led to quarrels between them. According to the complaint, ASI Shamsher Singh had been working at Narnaul, but his family resided at Ballabgarh, where he was last spotted. It is learnt that Shamsher left his house on February 19, 1993 to attend a wedding, but failed to report for duty the next day. He did not reach his house either. His aged father lives in his native village in Jhajjar district while his wife Kamla lives in Ballabgarh town. The ASI was posted at Ballabgarh after his marriage.

Though he was transferred to Narnaul after sometime, his wife decided to stay back at Ballabgarh.



Slum children see the light at the end of the tunnel, thanks to NGO
Priyanka Gupta

“I dreamt of becoming a police inspector and can now visualise my dreams coming true through Deepalaya. I am really happy in the school. I want to do something for my India,” said Amresh Kumar, a student of class V in a school run by Deepalaya, an NGO based in Janak Puri. Not only Amresh, but many students like him have similar dreams. The concern for thousands of children who live amidst squalor, ignorance and poverty and to give them a new hope in life has been a constant incentive to Deepalaya since its inception in 1979.

Deepalaya has come a long way since it started off with 5 children and 2 teachers and a total investment of Rs 17, 500 in Chittaranjan Park. After more than two decades, its social service has extended to nearly 75 slums in Delhi, 84 villages in Mewat region (Tavru District) and 3 railway platforms of New Delhi, including New Delhi Railway Station, Nizamuddin and Bananaguda Railway Station. It has benefited more than 35,000 children and 16,000 families by educating them and providing them with an alternative source of income.

Over the period of time, Deepalaya has established 337 educational centres where different activities, including beautician course for women, computer courses, cutting and tailoring, typing and mechanical training are conducted. Deepalaya also conducts health programmes by providing extensive curative services to the people of the slums. It has extensive collaboration with 19 premier health organizations of Delhi including the AIIMS and the Indian Cancer Society.

Apart from the material support, Deepalaya also takes care of the emotional needs of the slum children. Away from all family tensions, depression and the related discrimination of living in slums, Deepalaya provides a friendly atmosphere to the slum children to groom up their talent.

Sudha Parthasarathy, Communication Officer of Deepalaya said, “As people do not value free services, we charge nominal amount from them so that they can realise the value of education, medicines, food and training that they get at Deepalaya. Also, we ask them to carry on their business on machines provided by us. These people show great enthusiasm and are ready to learn.”

Rekha, a seven-year-old girl at Deepalaya says, “I want to become a teacher and help educate the vast illiterate population of our country. I like to come to school daily. I enjoy my school and my teachers are very supportive. I go home and help my mother and also study a lot. I want to be like my teacher.”

T. K. Mathew, Secretary and Chief Executive of Deepalaya said: “We are providing many activities involving education, health, skill training and income enhancement, community organization, linkages, issue-based programmes in special areas.

Basically, it aims at putting life into people who are surviving without any ambition and giving them an objective in life.

Also, we emphasize on female education because if a girl is educated, it means the whole family is literate.”

Deepalaya has many centers in Delhi including those at Sanjay Colony, Okhala, Gole Kuan, Badarpur, Gandhi Basti, V. P. Singh Colony, Chankayapuri, Khirki Extension, Kalkaji Extension, Dwarka, Nehru Camp, Chunna Bhatti, Jawahar Camp, Krishna Nagar and Raghubir Nagar. Deepalaya welcomes donations of all kinds, including toys, clothes and books that can help the slum children live and dream of a decent life.

Through these nominal donations, Deepalaya also hopes to provide the various segments in our society with the opportunity to contribute to the making of a more civil society.

Deepalaya looks forward to individual teachers and councillors who want to advise the students or impart education to them. Late Mother Teresa said, “What we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”. Deepalaya contributes its bit to that vast ocean.


Women pour wrath on cops, gherao station
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, December 26
The Kavi Nagar police in the city had to face the music for allegedly neglecting cases registered by women about atrocities committed on them. A large number of women descended on the police station on Christmas Day to lodge their protest against the alleged police failure in taking action against the persons who had inflicted injuries on a woman and had also insulted her. The protestors were led by the women cell of the Samajwadi Party.

They gheraoed the station, occupied the chair of the station in charge for a brief while and raised slogans against the police.

They alleged that instead of providing protection to the victim, the police were busy protecting the guilty while the woman was going from pillar to post for justice.

According to Mrs Rajdevi Chaudhri, who led the women’s procession, four men, Ravi Raj Singh, Pawan Rai, S. S. Singh and R. P. Singh, assaulted Mrs Prakash Devi, injured her, tore her clothes and abused her in public in Shiller Institute recently.

Though a case was registered at the Kavi Nagar police station, no action had been taken so far against the four persons who were allegedly guilty of having assaulted and insulted the woman.

Mrs Chaudhri alleged that during the Bharatiya Janata Party rule, the police and administration were busy protecting the guilty while the victims had to go from pillar to post for seeking justice.

If things did not improve, the women would be compelled to start an agitation, she warned.

Ms Neelam Srivastava, an advocate, said that the woman’s honour was not safe under the BJP government.


‘Creamy’ layer corners ration meant for needy
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 26
The unavailability of rationed commodities, particularly levy sugar and kerosene, to consumers has caused widespread resentment among the families living Below the Poverty Line (BPL) and holding Yellow Ration Cards in several parts of the district.

In the circumstances, they threatened to launch an agitation if the authorities failed to check the irregularities in the food distribution.

The representatives of various consumer organisations also pointed out that their complaint regarding the fraudulent inclusion of many better-off families in the BPL category, are yet to be addressed by the officials concerned. They lamented that many eligible families were not included in the category.

Consequently, they urged the state government to order another survey to identify the BPL families in the city and other parts of the Sonepat district. The Residents Welfare Association has also urged the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, to appoint a senior official to investigate the scandal and punish the erring officials of the department concerned.

In a press release, it alleged that due to the unholy alliance between the unscrupulous ration shop owners and the corrupt officials of the department, this shady practice is going on in Sonepat’s Public Distribution System (PDS).

The poor masses, meanwhile, keep making their endless trips to the ration shops, to be turned away on some pretext or the other. Repeated pleas and complaints in this regard have fallen on deaf ears. The association also expressed its concern over the continuing supply of bricks to Delhi by the brick kiln owners, in violation of the ban imposed by the state government. The illegal bricks supply, it alleged, was causing a huge loss of revenue to the state government.

The association criticised the officials of the department for their failure to check the sale of adulterated petrol and diesel in certain petrol pumps in the district and demanded an immediate check to end the practice. They have accused the officials of being in league with the owners of these petrol pumps.


This village has no telephone links

Our Correspondent

Sonepat, December 26
Believe it or not, but it is a fact. The village of Dodwa in this district has no telephone connections so far.

According to a report, at least 100 residents of the village had submitted their applications for the installation of telephones a year ago but the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited had failed to lay the telephone cables in the village. This has caused resentment among the residents of the village.

Three hurt in attack

Three persons, including a woman, sustained serious injuries when they were attacked with lathis and other weapons allegedly by two youths at Bad Khalsa village, 13 km from here, yesterday.

According to a report, the injured persons include Mr Ram Chander and his wife Mrs Murti. All the three persons were immediately hospitalised and they were stated to be out of danger.

The Rai police have registered a case and further investigations are in progress. The inundation of the fields due to a breach in a watercourse made by the victims was stated to be the main cause of the assault. The alleged assailants are still at large.

MLA Felicitated

Mr Dev Raj Dewan, an independent MLA, and Mr Ashok Chhabra, a non-official member of the Haryana State Planning Board, were felicitated at a function organised by the Tehsil Alipuri Biradari here yesterday. A colourful cultural programme and a mushiara in Multani language were the main attraction of the function.

DEOS transferred

The Haryana Government has ordered the transfer of 26 District Education Officers in the state with immediate effect. According to a report, these include the District Education Officer OF Sonepat, Mr Rajinder Singh Dahiya.

Fog disrupts traffic

Dense fog and poor visibility disrupted the rail and road traffic on the DUK section of Northern Railway and National Highway No. 1 and other state highways passing through this district today.

According to a report, almost all the long-distance and suburban trains passed through Sonepat behind schedule. Similarly, nine persons were injured in two separate accidents occurred on the G. T. road near Ganaur. The injured persons were immediately hospitalised.

300 works displayed at child art show
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, December 25
The sixth All-India Child Art Exhibition was organised by Kshitij, an art society, on December 23 and 24 at Bal Bhawan, Sector 4 here.

Over 300 of the 7,657 paintings received by Kshitij from all over the country during the year were displayed at the exhibition. Mr Narender Metha, founder and secretary of the society, informed that around 7,000 students of 250 schools, art societies and institutions spread all over the country participated in the competition.

Delhi-based famous artist Harish Shrivastava judged the paintings and chose 280 works for different awards.

Mr Metha said that schoolchildren knew the art of playing with different colours and shades of nature and associated various emotions and moods to their works.

The exhibition had tried to weave upcoming as well as established artists into one thread on the national platformm, he said.

Besides painting exhibition, an exhibition of greeting cards, cartoons, poems and small story/essay were also organised at the same venue.

Bank’s profits up

Mr D. T. Pai, Chairman and Managing Director of Syndicate Bank, said that the operating profits of the bank had increased from Rs 155.75 crore to 181.44 crore during the year. He was speaking to reporters after a meeting of branch managers of the bank in the Faridabad region here.

The net profit of the bank has also increased from Rs 126.33 crore to Rs 128.14 crore, capital adequacy from 11.72 per cent to 12.88 per cent. Mr Pai also informed that the bank had started ‘Syndicate Retail Credit Card’ for the use of small borrowers and traders.

The card had an automatic credit limit of Rs 2 lakh. The bank also planned to provide network-banking facility in its 200 branches initially. Mr R. K. Abri, General Manager, Syndicate Bank, Mr S. N. Bhat, Chairman, Gurgaon Gramin Bank, and Mr P. S. Nayak, Regional Manager, Syndicate Bank, were also present on the occasion.


NDMC to spend Rs 4.5 cr on amenities

New Delhi, December 26
The New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) will spend Rs 4.5 crore on sprucing up the civic amenities. A decision to this effect was taken at the monthly meeting of NDMC held here today.

The Vice-Chairman of the council, Mr Ram Bhaj, said Rs 1.40 crore would be utilised for developing the sewer system in the NDMC area. New lines would be laid in the Lodhi Road, Maharshi Raman Marg, Aliganj and Jorbagh areas the work on which would be undertaken in consultation with Tata Consulting Engineering, he said.

Another Rs 62.7 lakh would be spent on improving the condition of roads on Mandir Lane, Dr Zakir Hussain Marg and on the road connecting San Martin Road with Ring Road. TNS


Health becomes a carnival issue at CP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
Serious health issues were made comprehensible with fun at the health carnival organised in the Capital today. Festive stalls, dance floors, games and tattoos created a festive mood and cheer of the season at the carnival organised by Dr Morepen in Connaught Place. The carnival attracted both young and old and the serious issues concerning health was disseminated to the audience through the game shows.

Dance floors in the Inner Circle of Connaught Place played popular numbers while musical chairs, funny mirrors, stilt walkers, jugglers and wacky tattoo artists kept the amusement rolling. To engross the attention of the audience, several contests like nimbupani and the 2kool contest were organised, which evoked good response.



Balcony width can be increased

New Delhi
In a bid to provide relief to group housing societies, the Centre today allowed the residents to increase the width of balcony from three to four feet in Delhi with immediate effect. The decision was taken in the wake of several representations from various group housing societies. TNS


Post office staffer commits suicide
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 26
An employee of the Lodhi Road post office has reportedly committed suicide at his residence by hanging himself from the ceiling today evening. The police said that Mr Gyanandra Kumar Rastogi (49), a resident of Deepali of the Mangolpuri area, had been employed as a clerk in the post office. The father of two sons, the deceased was a habitual drinker and father of two sons.

The police said around 4 pm, Rastogi in an intoxicated state closed the door of his room. When his father, Mr Shiv Charan, a retired employee of the post office, inquired about the reason for this abnormal behaviour, the deceased informed that he was drunk and wanted to sleep. However, two hours later, his father got suspicious and broke open the door. He found his son hanging from the ceiling.

The police are clueless about the motive for the suicide. However, they said he had attempted suicide earlier on a couple of occasions. The police have registered a case and are investigating the matter.

Woman killed

A woman employee of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), was reportedly hit by a unknown Maruti car today on Dr Zakir Hussain Marg. The police said that Kailasho Devi (45), a sweeper in the council and resident of Ambedkar JJ basti in the R. K. Puram area, was hit by the car from behind while walking on the road.



Three of Bhuri gang held

New Delhi, December 26
The crime branch of the Delhi Police today arrested three dreaded members of the notorious Sandeep Bhuri gang who were involved in several murder and extortion cases in the Capital. They were arrested from Rohini where they had gone to receive extortion money from a businessman. Sandeep Bhuri is in judicial custody. The arrested gangsters were Karambir, Rakesh and Satish. They disclosed that after the arrest of Bhuri, Karambir was leading the gang. TNS


First private phone service starts ringing in Haryana
Software parks in Gurgaon, Chandigarh by end of 2002
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, December 26
The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, and the Union Minister for Communications, IT and Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Pramod Mahajan, today inaugurated Haryana’s first private basic telephone service, Touchetel, launched by Bharti Telenet Limited, a Bharti enterprise here.

Opening the services for public, Mr Pramod Mahajan made an inaugural call to the Delhi Chief Minister, Mrs Sheila Dikshit, and Mr Chautala made a call to renowned cricketer Kapil Dev.

Prior to the programme, the foundation stone for a software technology park by the Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) was laid by Mr Chautala at Sector 18 of Electronic City here.

When in operation, the STPI, an autonomous society under the Department of Information Technology of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, would provide services like transferring high-speed data communication to Gurgaon and nearby IT industries.

Presiding over the function, Mr Mahajan said that India was moving very fast in the field of communication. Today, there were more than four crore telephone connections in the country as compared to 1.5 crore in 1998. We had planned to provide 10 crore connections by the end of 2005, the minister said. Besides, there were 50 lakh mobile phones as compared to the three lakh in 1998 in the country at present, Mr Mahajan revealed.

As demanded by the Chief Minister, Mr Chautala, Mr Mahajan sanctioned one more STPI near Chandigarh in Haryana. Both these STPIs would become functional by the end of 2002, promised the minister.

Speaking at the function of Touchtel, Mr Pramod Mahajan said that the lay man must get the maximum benefits of the National Telecom Policy (NTP) 1999. Following the privatisation of the telecom sector, a number of private operators had started providing mobile and basic phones in the country, he said.

Competition among various telephone operators had resulted better services to the customers. The competition was always good both for the consumers and entrepreneurs, said Mr Mahajan while refuting the allegations that the government was giving special concessions and privileges to private operators including to Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal’s firm. Private operators had played a significant role in achieving the targets of the government in providing telephones to the masses, he said.

Praising the contributions made by Mr Sunil Bharti Mittal in the communication field, Mr Mahajan said that if there was any award in Information Technology in the country, it should be given to Mr Bharti. However, the government would ensure that there would be no monopoly of a single operator in any circle, the Communication Minister said. Consumer must get the best services.

Meanwhile, Mr Bharti, chairman and group managing director of Bharti Enterprises informed mediapersons that today onwards, the company would start providing telephones in Gurgaon and Faridabad. In the second phase, the firm would cover Panipat, Ambala and Karnal district, and in the final phase, the whole Haryana would be connected, said Mr Mittal. In Haryana, the company does not intend to provide Wireless in Local Loop (WILL) phone services, explained the chairman. The company would launch its basic services in Delhi by the end of February 2002. And the next target of the basic service would be Tamil Nadu, Mr Bharti said.

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