Saturday, December 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

N C R   S T O R I E S


 

Fog causes chaos
Gaurav Choudhury
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
Life in the Capital was today thrown out of gear with a thick blanket of fog enveloping the city and its neighbourhood, disrupting rail and air traffic as the visibility dipped to the lowest level of the season. The weatherman has predicted little respite in the coming days.

President K R Narayanan had a first-hand experience of the inclement weather when he had to cool his heels for about 90 minutes at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport where he had gone to receive his diplomat daughter. Her flight was delayed because of poor visibility – reducing to naught the tall claims about the recently installed CAT III landing system at IGI, meant to enable the aircraft to land even in a heavily fogged atmosphere.

The Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) flight, carrying the President’s daughter and India’s Ambassador to Sweden, Chitra Narayan, arrived 90 minutes behind schedule.

The air-traffic schedule had gone haywire since 5 a.m. today due to the poor visibility. Even the airport remained closed for some time. A British Airways aircraft was the first plane to land at IGI airport at 12:04 p.m. today. In the domestic air terminals of IGI, all morning flights were delayed by several hours. Sources in the airport said that the operations could begin only around noon.

The rail traffic was equally disrupted with many trains getting delayed because of the foggy conditions, disrupting the normal life of thousands of passengers and their relatives.

For the 1,000-odd passengers who found themselves prisoners in the railway compartments, the delay was a surprise. “We had no idea why the train was halting at so many places. At one point, we had to stop for a considerable time. The fog made it difficult to move ahead,” said a passenger, Ravi, who arrived in Delhi by the morning Shatabdi Express from Chandigarh. The experience was equally harrowing for the relatives waiting at the stations.

The railways have introduced a whole lot of measures to deal with such a situation. The trains would run within specified speed limits that could be as low as 30 kmph in extreme conditions, when the visibility is almost zero. The weather department, on its part, said that at some places the visibility dropped to zero. It has been forecast that the fog will continue to envelop the northern parts of the country during the next few days as well.

“The foggy conditions are primarily because of the western disturbances which passed through the northern side of the Capital. This was the densest fog this season, with visibility as low as 10 meters. Though the sky started clearing by noon, the visibility did not exceed 700 meters. Similar conditions are likely to prevail tomorrow, but the visibility could be slightly better than today,” said A K Sharma of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).

Thousands stranded

Sonepat: Train services on the DUK Section of Northern Railway remained disrupted for several hours today. Thousands of passengers, mostly commuters, government servants and businessmen were stranded at Sonepat and nearby railway stations.

According to a report, thick fog and poor visibility were the main cause of the disruption in train services. Almost all long-distance and suburban trains ran behind schedule for hours together. The Delhi-bound Jammu Mail passed through Sonepat more than five hours behind schedule. Similarly, the New Delhi-bound Jhelum Express passed through Sonepat two and a half hours behind schedule. Official sources also revealed that the Delhi-bound and Bathinda-bound Delhi-Bathinda Intercity Express remained cancelled for the day without giving any reason. Similarly, the Unchhar Express running between Allahabad and Ambala cantonment ran behind schedule for more than two hours.

All suburban trains running between Delhi and Panipat as well as Kurukshetra also passed through Sonepat behind schedule for hours together. This caused great inconvenience to thousands of passengers who had to wait for them at the platforms of the railway stations. According to another report, traffic on National Highway 1 and other state highways remained disrupted on account of dense fog, as the visibility was very poor.

Taxis carrying newspapers from Delhi, Jalandhar, Ambala and Chandigarh reached here late and this caused inconvenience to the hawkers. Reports of accidents are pouring in but the actual number of vehicles involved in them was not yet known. Some of the injured persons were hospitalised in this district.

Meanwhile, all main bazaars and shopping centres gave a deserted look owing to thick fog and chilly winds blowing in the region. Attendance in government offices and private schools was reported to be thin. Unscheduled and unannounced load-shedding also added to the woes of the residents. The drinking water supply remained disrupted for four hours on account of non-supply of power at the main waterworks at Murthal. This caused inconvenience to thousands of residents in the city.
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IGL gets nod for CNG pipeline
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
The Indraprastha Gas Limited (IGL) on Friday received the much-awaited nod from Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor for laying of a new pipeline stretching from Dhaula Kuan to GT Karnal Road. The pipeline, according to IGL officials, when it becomes operational in four to five months, would ease the pressure on the availability of CNG and also enable IGL to make uniform and adequate supplies to the filling stations.

The approval has been given for the original plan submitted by the IGL. Accordingly, the pipeline would be laid with a slight deviation on to defence land and further on to Raja Garden. From the GT Karnal side, permission has been granted for undertaking of works till Pitampura along which, according to IGL officials, a substantial number of CNG stations are located. The Lieutenant Governor’s nod for undertaking work on the remaining stretch of the pipeline is likely to follow later.

According to sources, the Lieutenant Governor has given his permission for laying of the pipeline along a major portion of the stretch extending from Dhaula Kuan to GT Karnal Road.

In Friday evening’s meeting, the Lieutenant Governor is learnt to have given the permission after getting an assurance that in the process of laying the pipeline felling of trees would be avoided. Also, no unnecessary road cutting would be undertaken and, where digging is to take place, minimum disruption to traffic would be caused.

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 was to have begun by now but got delayed after IGL’s proposal of having the pipeline laid along the Ring Road was given a rethink and, instead, the “corridor” passing through the Dhaula Kuan Ridge (a green belt) was suggested as an alternative.

The project, according to sources, had run into a roadblock after the Lieutenant Governor had expressed his concerns about the process of laying of the pipeline disrupting normal life on account of road cutting and digging of earth. The Lieutenant Governor, sources added, re-examined the options during the meeting before giving permission so that minimum disruption was caused to public. The CNG situation was likely to improve further after three more compressors come into operation soon.
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Outdated vaccine being used in MCD hospitals
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 28
Despite the claims of the Mayor, Mr. Shanti Desai, that better quality medicines are being used in the hospitals, there have been frightening allegations from a large number of people that an outdated anti-rabies vaccine was being administered in the hospitals run by the Corporation. According to sources, several cases of side-effects of the vaccine, including neurological complications , have been reported from different hospitals. Doctors in the hospital said: “We have informed the authorities about the expired vaccines. We have also told them about the side-effects.”

The vaccine was being administered in these hospitals despite a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it was outdated. The report also said that the vaccine could have several side effects, which were absent in the intra-muscular course that is given all over the world and by most Central government hospitals.

The Chairperson of the MCD Health Committee, Mrs Kamla Malhotra, denied these reports, dismissing them as allegations, contending that the latest vaccine was being used in the corporation hospitals. The committee is also planning to purchase new stocks of this vaccine, which is considered costly but effective. In fact, the committee has demanded additional funds – Rs 40 lakh – from the standing committee.

The intra-muscular course, that includes a set of five injections, costs Rs 310 which is unaffordable, sources said.

In order to reduce the financial burden on the corporation, the committee is planning to introduce a formula by which patients will be asked to pay a token amount of Rs 25 for the vaccine and Rs 5 for the syringe. The patients who cannot even afford this amount will be given the vaccine free of cost, the officials said.

The Chairman of the Health Committee said that the committee passed the proposal to introduce the vaccine but its fate lay in the hands of the Standing Committee that had the final say on the budgetary allocations.
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Noida brings down MLAs’ house of cards
Our Correspondent

Noida, December 28
The Noida Authority has finally cancelled the 9,750 sq mt residential plot allotted to the UP legislators’ housing cooperative in July 2001; the cooperative had failed to deposit any amount with the Noida Authority even six months after the allotment.

Interestingly, the housing cooperative had been registered by state’s ex-minister Amarmani Tripathi, 42 MLAs and seven MLCs in January last. The housing cooperative had applied for a group housing society and requested for a plot of 5,98 sq mts. This scheme was published in January 2001 and the society had deposited Rs 10,10,000 with the authority for the purpose.

The draw for the allotment was on May 10, but the MLAs’ society could not get the desired plot. The Authority then refunded them Rs 10 lakh through a draft in June. Subsequently, the cooperative housing society directly secured approval from the Government for the plot. Consequently, The Authority allotted residential plot No. F-3 in Sector-50, measuring 9,750 sq mt, and asked the society to deposit Rs 2.57 crore as 40 per cent of the price of the plot by October 15, 2001. Instead of depositing the money, the MLAs’ society complained to the state government that they had been allotted the plot of 9,750 sq mt against a demand for a plot of 6,000 sq mt only.

Industrial Development Commissioner S N Shukla had even asked the authority on what basis a bigger plot had been allotted to the society. The society had also demanded the extension in the date of depositing the money from October 15 to December 15, 2001. The society had failed to deposit the money even by December 15, 2001. After Amarmani Tripathi’s dismissal from the state cabinet and his subsequent arrest, the Noida Authority took the decision to cancel the plot to the MLAs.
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A phone(y) war is in the offing
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, December 28
The Telecom Department, rechristened as Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) last year, is likely to face a tough competition from the entry of a private phone company which came into the field in Faridabad and Gurgaon district on December 26.

The Bharti Telecom has already laid state-of-the-art cable network to provide phone connections to the consumers in these districts. It has started booking new connections in the towns. The entry of a private company in the field has not only brought cheers to the residents, but has also sent strong signals to the government of India-owned BSNL that the consumers may not hesitate to dump its facility, if it does not improve the quality and service.

Most of the 1,11,000 phone consumers in Faridabad district have not been satisfied with the Nigam service. While a long waiting period of applications for new phone connections has been quite common, the complaints are simply ignored, putting the consumers in a real jam. The telephone service does not pass muster in rural sector.

The residents feel that the entry of a private operator in this field would not only provide the consumer with an option, but it will also help reduce corruption in the offices of BSNL.

The private phone service, Touchtel, has opened several booking counters in Faridabad and Gurgaon.

According to company sources, a huge response had poured in and it has booked almost 3,000 phone applications already in Faridabad town.

As an incentive, Touchtel has offered to give free internet service for a year and voice mail service on every new connection. While the registration charges and call rates of Touchtel will be equivalent to those of BSNL, the company has promised to provide top quality instrument and service to its consumers.

The number of total consumers in Faridabad and Gurgaon is about two lakhs with thousands in waiting list. Touchtel is likely to eat up a good part of the share, which otherwise would have gone to BSNL.

Two main switching and 11 digital line units have been set up with laying over 100 km-long optical fibre in Faridabad. The company has also offered several other services to its consumers, not provided by BSNL at present.
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DSGMC staff up in arms against ‘rude’ members
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
The employees of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee today threatened to launch an agitation against the ‘rude’ behaviour of the DSGMC executive body members and protest against other financial issues.

“The DSGMC members are supposed to use civilised language while interacting with the sewadars in the pious surroundings of a gurdwara. However, they address the sewadars in foul language and treat them as menial servants,” said Iqbal Singh, President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee Employee’s Union. Mr Iqbal Singh said, “The Sikh leaders always talk about securing the freedom for the community, but they deny it to the employees of the Sikh shrines. This really perturbs the employees, who too are baptised Sikhs.”

The union resents the double standards of the leaders who claim to fight for the Sikh’s political and religious rights in Delhi, but at the same time, forget that sewadars also have self-respect and they want to do their job honourably, Mr Iqbal Singh said in a statement. The union asked some DSGMC members, particularly those in the executive, and other top functionaries of the committee “to change their behaviour, making it conducive to the religious environment of the gurdwara offices, otherwise the employees will have no option but to launch an agitation.”

Mr Iqbal said that since 1996, the dearness allowance [DA] arrears had not been paid; uniforms had not been issued to the employees for the past three years; and, to cap it all, 25 persons had been laid off by the committee.
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NCR BRIEFS
Youth held, 1 kg charas seized
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, December 28
The district police today arrested a youth of nearby Titauli village and seized 1 kg charas from him. According to police sources, a CIA team nabbed Mahender Singh at the bus stand of the village following a tip-off and seized the contraband. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered.

Dowry case

Faridabad
Three persons, including two women, have been booked under the Dowry Act after the death of a married woman at Dabua Colony here. The accused included the husband, sister-in-law and mother-in-law of the deceased, Seema. The father of the victim had alleged that his daughter had been harassed for not bringing adequate dowry and it resulted in the death of Seema. TNS

Man assaulted

Sonepat
Mr Baljit, a halwai, was allegedly assaulted with lathis and other weapons by some persons on the Kharkhauda-Matindu road, about 20 km from here, yesterday. According to a report, Mr Baljit was going on a bicycle when he saw some persons standing on the road blocking the way.

Driver cremated

Sonepat
The body of tempo driver, Krishna, was cremated amidst tight security here last evening. Prominent leaders who attended his funeral, include Mr Dev Raj Dewan, MLA, Mr Rajiv Jain, Haryana Vikas Party General Secretary, Mr Sudesh Sharma, Vice-President of the Yuva Congress Haryana and Mr S N Solanki, a CPI (M) leader.

Electrocuted

Faridabad
An employee of a transport company at Ballabgarh town was charred to death after he came into contact with a high tension line passing over head. The victim, identified as Anand, was a resident of sector-29 and had gone to the roof-top of his office building to remove a fault in the wire of the TV antenna. It is learnt that he accidentally came into contact with the 33000 volts line passing overhead. Within seconds he was charred and reduced to a skeleton. The body was handed over to his kin after a post-mortem at the civil hospital. It is reported that overhead high tension wires have claimed several lives in the last six months.

Online facility for gas users

New Delhi
An online customer service facility for Bharat gas customers in Delhi and the National Capital Region has been launched by Bharat Petroleum Corporation. “The facility, which would change the way LPG refills are ordered, has been introduced by BPCL in a bid to enhance customer relationships by creating a direct channel for its customers to interact with the company,” a company release said. Besides providing the customers an alternative and easy means of booking refills, the facility would also enable customers to suggest the preferred time and day for refill delivery, and track delivery status of refill bookings, the release added.

Curbing unfair means

Rohtak
Maharshi Dayanand University has decided to distribute three sets of question papers to the candidates in LL.B. (annual system) examination and in selected papers of under-graduate and post-graduate examination. A spokesman for the university today said the measure had been taken to prevent the use of unfair means.

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Heavy vehicles run down SC directive
Rohit Wadhwaney

New Delhi, December 28
The narrow Mehrauli-Masoodpur road goes through one of the posh colonies of South Delhi, Vasant Kunj. Though the Supreme Court had directed that heavy vehicles be banned from plying on this narrow road, not only the directive continues to be flouted, but it has become a major cause of accidents on the road.

Residents of the area are concerned that though at least one major road accident takes place very week here, the authorities are hardly bothered about it.

In 1997, the Supreme Court had directed the police and the Transport Department to consider the various problems arising out of congestion caused by motorised and non-motorised vehicles. For this purpose, the court directed the police and transport authorities to identify roads to be confined only to certain kinds of motorised traffic and to issue appropriate directions to exclude other forms of traffic on such roads.

One of the roads identified was the Mehrauli-Masoodpur road. There are a number of schools on both sides of the road. Trucks carrying sand, bricks and gravel and other goods had been violating the speed limit prescribed in the Motor Vehicles Act leading to accidents, said residents.

The Supreme Court had also directed that no heavy and medium transport vehicles, and light goods vehicles, being four-wheelers, would be permitted on the roads of the National Capital Region (NCR), unless they were fitted with suitable speed control devices to limit the speed to 40 km per hour. Few bus and truck drivers have cared to pay heed to this directive.

Mr Suresh Thakur, chairman of the Federation of Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) of Vasant Kunj, said, “It showed how fearless people are of the law of the country. None of the traffic police officials are ever seen on this road. So how will they even stop these heavy vehicles from entering the road?”

Meanwhile, traffic police officials said they were ensuring that no heavy vehicles plied on the Mehrauli-Masoodpur road. However, Mr Yogesh Khanna, president of the Forum of RWAs of Vasant Kunj, said heavy vehicles were plying 24 hours on this road and the traffic police officials were just “too lazy” to discipline them.

Even after the apex court’s directive against heavy vehicles plying on this road, no sign board had been put up to warn erring drivers of the consequences of violating the law, Mr Khanna further said.

“Unless there is a proper sign warning that heavy vehicles are not allowed on this road, how will anyone even know about it? At least, they should have put up a sign. The question is ‘When the Supreme Court gives out an order, what is the follow up on it?’ Is there any follow up at all?” he asked.

Residents said several accidents occurred on the Mehrauli-Masoodpur road almost everyday. However, most of them went unreported because no one wanted to even go to the police due to the feared harassment.

“The road is so narrow. Furthermore, they have built a one-lane flyover on it, which is hardly serving any purpose. The road is so narrow that just one heavy vehicle covers the entire width of the flyover. This road needs to be free of heavy vehicles immediately,” said Mr Khanna.
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A yatra for peace in time of war
Priyanka Gupta

New Delhi, December 28
Undoubtedly, the recent attack on Parliament has raised concern and anger in the whole nation to such an extent that we are now readying for a war against terrorism, read Pakistan. While our political leaders, especially those of the ruling formation, indulge in war jingoism, several citizens and organisations are throwing their mite, not to war, but to maintain peace.

In tune with the current scenario, they have begun organising prayers and peace walks. Many colonies in the Capital have decided to do away with the New Year celebrations. Instead, some have opted for bhajans. For instance, members of the Shri Chhatrasal Pranami Navyuvak Sabha and Shri Krishna Pranami Mandir are organising bhajans on the New Year and a padyatra for peace from Friday to January 1, 2002.

Approximately 150 people, including 50 women and 30 children, started on a padyatra for world peace on Friday from Hakikat Nagar (Shri Krishna Pranami Mandir) at around 7.00 am. Mr Chandan Amrit, former chairman of Satyawati College, felicitated the participants in the yatra. The yatra will conclude on January 1, 2002 at Model Town, Karnal.

General secretary of Krishna Pranami Mandir Darshan Lal Mehta, who spoke on the Delhi border, said, “After seeing all the killings all over the world, we decided to spread the message of peace all around. We just want that all hatred fade away from the hearts of people and we concentrate on God, helping others and living peacefully. We are reciting bhajans on the yatra and distributing pamphlets. Even children are participating actively.”

Mr Chandra Mehta, another participant, said, “We all have one thing in mind, i.e. God. We cannot go on top the frontline to fight, but in this way we can make people realise that togetherness is the best way to defeat terrorism.”

Yagesh, a student of class VI accompanying his parent, said, “We all are praying for world peace. I do not want to watch TV on January 31 evening but to pray for the whole world to remain peaceful and enter year 2002 peacefully. Many of my friends are accompanying me. I am enjoying this.” Carrying placards with messages like ‘Growing together is success’ and dressed in black jackets and cap with ‘Pranamji’ written on it, participants marched through the roads from the border. The first stop was at Chhatrasal Stadium and then at Azadpur Bypass, G. T Karnal road. The participants had lunch at Kundli, Delhi-Haryana border and the last rest for the day at Devrishi Vidya Niketan, Bahalgarh (Haryana).

The yatra will continue on December 29 morning and will stop for breakfast at the gurdwara in Panchgujra village (Haryana). The group would then proceed to the new grains market in Samalkha where it would rest for the whole night. From Samalkha, the yatra will pass through Babarpur and Gharonda (Haryana) before reaching Model Town, Karnal.

On January, the participants will gather at Neelkanth Restaurant and march to Model Town. Mr Darshan Lal informed, “We have chosen this place because a great saint took samadhi at the age of 100 years here. We went to Pakistan to get his charanamrit. And we believe that he will accept our prayers here too as he accepted our prayers in Pakistan. We are really glad and want people to understand the simple meaning of brotherhood.”
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CM launches clean Delhi campaign
Clampdown on posters, billboards
Tribune New Service

New Delhi, December 28
The Chief Minister, Ms Sheila Dikshit, today said that action was being taken against those pasting posters, handbills and putting up banners on government property. The action included a fine of Rs 1,000 or six months of simple imprisonment under the West Bengal Prevention of Defacement of Property Act that has now been extended to the National Capital Region.

Launching the drive to clean the city by tearing down posters pasted on the compound walls of her official residence, the Chief Minister warned that no defaulters, however powerful they may be, would be spared. “I would request the officials of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Public Works Department (PWD) to take action against the political leaders found guilty and assure that there would be no political interference,” she added.

The Chief Minister said the campaign to clean the city would be started on a war footing. “The Capital should be made as clean as possible and my government is committed to making Delhi a cleaner and better place to live in,” she said. She also said that “poster walls”, if needed, would be erected in various localities. Giving the officials a week’s time to remove all the posters, handbills and banners, the Chief Minister said she herself would monitor the progress of work. Meanwhile, the Urban Development and Health Minister, Mr A. K. Walia, said the beautification of Delhi was a necessity as it is the Capital of the country. The MCD Commissioner, Mr S. P. Agarwal, said since December 20, nearly 100,000 banners and posters had been removed as part of the cleanliness drive. FIRs against 130 persons had already been lodged, he added.
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Delhi to set up VAT council 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
A Value Added Tax (VAT) council would be set up in the Capital with representatives from all the zones of the country. It would meet every 45 days to help in sorting out various issues in the initial years after the introduction of the VAT regime from April 1, 2002.

Participating in an interactive session with the Confederation of Indian Industry, Member Secretary of the empowered committee on VAT and Principal Secretary (finance) of the Delhi Government, Mr Romesh Chandra, said the committee was trying to put in place a system whereby there is absolute transparency and the least inconvenience to the industry.

On the sales tax issue, he said the incentive given by the state governments would be honoured and the methodology was being worked out.

Asked about the continuation and non-vatablity of Central Sales Tax (CST), he said, the CST ultimately had to be phased out and could not co-exist in a VAT regime. “One of the options being considered is to replace CST with a vatable entry tax,” he said.

On the rate structure, he said even though the empowered committee was in favour of capping the Revenue Neutral Rate (RNR) at 12.5 per cent with a floor rate of 10 per cent, the sales tax-GDP ratio varied between two per cent in northern states and six per cent in the South, he said, adding it was difficult to have 10 per cent RNR across the country.

He said the committee had decided to do away with AED in lieu of sales tax on sugar, textiles and tobacco products and instead levy VAT on these items. On the issue of four per cent VAT rate on industrial inputs, he said the committee was open to suggestions of the industry on including other industrial inputs in the list.

Mr Chandra said the Delhi Government was considering refund of excess credit on inputs on a monthly/quarterly basis depending upon the frequency of VAT returns filed by the assessee.

He said the assessee would have the option of either asking for cash refund or carrying forward the credit. Monthly return would be compulsory for the large dealers having a turnover of more than Rs 5 crore, whereas small dealers will have the option to file the return on quarterly or monthly basis.

Other financial measures being planned by the state government, Mr Chandra said for inter-state sales, refund would be allowed based on C-forms submitted with returns. In case, C-form was not available at the time of filing of returns, refund would be granted against bond/surety, which will be cancelled after C-forms are produced. In case of physical exports, refund would be allowed on production of shipping bills, he added.

Welcoming the government’s move towards a VAT regime, Mr Sunil Kant Munjal, chairman of CII economic affairs committee, said it would remove the cascading impact on taxes. He, however, added that there was some implementation issues, which needed to be sorted out for a smooth transition.
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Traffic restrictions for New Year
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
The Delhi Traffic Police have made elaborate traffic regulation plans in and around Connaught Place on the eve of New Year, and have advised the public to co-operate with the authorities.

The police have said that the restrictions will be in force from 7.30 pm on December 31 till the end of New Year celebrations in the area. No vehicles would be allowed towards Connaught Place beyond Mandi House, Bengali Market, Raisina Road, New Delhi Railway Station, General Post Office, Gole Market, Patel Chowk, Kasturba Gandhi Marg-Ferozshah Road Crossing, Panchkuian Road, R. K. Ashram Marg crossing, D. D. Upadhyaya Marg-Minto Road crossing and the north foot on Ranjit Singh flyover.

Due to the celebrations, no vehicles will be allowed to move inside the inner, middle and outer circles of Connaught Place to streamline the burgeoning traffic. Those who used to commute between North and South Delhi are advised to use the Delhi Gate - Tilak Marg -‘C’ Hexagon - Rani Jhansi Marg - Panchkuian Road - Mandir Marg Park street - Wellington Crescent route. And for those motorists who travel between East and West Delhi shall take Ashoka Road - Talkatora Road - J L N Marg - Pul Pahar Ganj - D B G Road route.

The police have asked all motorists to observe traffic rules and obey the directions given by the authorities. They are also advised to carry their driving licences and not drive under the influence of alcohol. No drunken driving would be tolerated on roads, and anyone found in an inebriated state would be challaned and jailed, said a senior traffic police official.

As there is a limited parking space around Connaught Place, the parking will be allowed on the first-come-first-serve-basis. Those who don’t find parking space can park near Gole Dak Khana on Kali Bari Marg and Pandit Marg, near Patel Chowk behind AIR, near Windsor Palace, near Mandi House, near Minto Road and Panchkuian Road.
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Cong always stood for people: DPCC chief
Tribune News service

New Delhi, December 28
The Indian National Congress today celebrated its 116th foundation day. To mark the occasion, the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) hosted a public meeting in which senior leaders recalled the sacrifices made by the party workers in the freedom struggle and rebuilding of the nation after Independence.

The DPCC president, Mr Subhash Chopra, said though a Briton laid the foundation of the party, it had always functioned as a people's movement to create a democratic, socialist and egalitarian society. "History of the Congress is not only the history of the freedom struggle but it is also the chronicle of India's socio-economic progress," he said. The DPCC president said one of the many factors that had contributed to the rapid growth of the party was that it always consisted of representatives of all sections of the population.

Mr Chopra launched a massive membership drive to mark the memorable occasion. He said the party, under the leadership of Ms Sonia Gandhi, was the only hope left for the country to bring a just, efficient and scam-free government at the Centre.
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SPEAKING OUT
Sent on a wild goose chase for a missing scooter

The woes of motorists exist even when they are not driving. Even parking the vehicle is a matter of great concern as they can never be sure whether they will find the vehicle parked once they come back after finishing their work after a few hours.

Do You Have A Grouse?

Do you have a grouse against the apathetic attitude of the authorities? Are you fed up with the dilly-dallying tactics of officialdom and the stranglehold of red tapism? If so please write to us. We have a full half page every week reserved just for you. The letters should be clearly marked Speaking out, NCR Tribune, First Floor, Dyal Singh Library Building, 1 Deen Dayal Upadhaya Marg, New Delhi-110002.

The nightmare of parking blues became a reality when I went to the Delhi Vidyut Board payment collection centre near Radhu Palace in East Delhi to deposit the electricity bills.

Since the DVB does not allow the customers to park their vehicles inside the bill collection centre complex, one has no option but to park them outside the building. There are no directions pointing out whether it is a parking or no-parking zone.

Last week, after standing in the queue for about an hour to pay the bill, when I came out at around 10.30 am, I was shocked to find that my scooter was missing. More than 50 other scooters were parked outside the building in a haphazard manner.

Inquiries revealed that four scooters had been towed away. The vendors and others were not sure who had towed away my scooter. Assuming that the Delhi Traffic Police might have towed away the vehicle, I went to the Preet Vihar police station, as the DVB office is located in its jurisdiction. I was told that they had not towed any vehicle .I was directed to contact the Geeta Colony police station.

There, I was informed that on Mondays the traffic police do not tow any vehicle as the crane operators hired from private parties are on a holiday on Mondays. So, they directed me to contact the Vivek Vihar police station as sometimes their personnel tow away vehicles.

There, I was informed that no vehicle had been towed, as the towing operations were not carried out on Mondays. “You better check up with the local MCD office in Vivek Vihar as people from there also tow vehicles,” the police official said.

At the MCD office, I was asked whether the towing vehicle was green or blue in colour. I did not know how to react – whether to laugh or be angry.

The official said if it was a blue vehicle it would be brought there but I would have to wait till 2 or 2.30 pm to know whether the vehicle had been towed.

Left with no option, I waited for the elusive blue vehicle to appear. As the clock ticked, I became agitated. But the MCD staff and I could do little. At around 2.30 pm, an MCD inspector, in charge of towing vehicles, came but minus the vehicle. I was informed that he had not gone on vehicle towing duty that day. He suggested that I should again go to the Preet Vihar police station as the DVB office falls within their jurisdiction. Back to square one, I thought.

I went to the Vivek Vihar police station. The officials said they had no idea. “Just look outside the premises of the police station. Some vehicles are there, some are new and some are old. If you find your scooter, then you are lucky,” he said.

Keeping my fingers crossed, I searched for my elusive scooter amid buses, tempos, cars and scooters parked there. To my surprise and relief, at last I found my scooter there. As I was examining it, along came a traffic inspector to issue a challan slip of Rs 200 for parking the vehicle in a no-parking zone.

When asked why the vehicle was towed, he said, “The vehicle was not parked in a straight line along the wall. If it had been, then we would not have towed it away.” Can there be any arguments?

S. Ramachandran
Delhi

Chaotic crossing

The Vikas Marg – Shakarpur crossing near Laxmi Nagar has become a nightmare for motorists and others who have to take that route every day. There is chaos at any given time of the day or night as this area is besieged by some of the heaviest traffic in the Capital.

What has compounded the problem is that the bus stop is located right at the turning on the Shakarpur road. The drivers of these buses are in the habit of stopping their vehicles right in the middle of the road to pick up passengers, thus blocking the traffic coming from behind. Despite the presence of traffic policemen at this crossing things are chaotic.

Residents of some of the colonies nearby have repeatedly made a representation to the authorities to shift the bus stop a little further away. But nothing has been done in this regard. As a result of the heavy traffic and chaos accidents here have become a daily occurrence. Vendors and shopkeepers are encroaching upon the narrow road, obviously with the tacit approval of the authorities, perhaps for a consideration.

It is only a matter of time before some serious accident occurs on this stretch. Will the authorities please look into this?

Bishen Singh
Delhi

Security lapse

Indeed, it was very shocking and startling to learn that even after the attack on Parliament few measures have been taken to strengthen the security of the Delhi Secretariat. Since it is the duty and responsibility of the Home Ministry, the needful must be done on a war footing. Besides this, at night too the security arrangements are not up to the mark during the winter session. The authorities concerned must make immediate security arrangements, otherwise it would be too late.

Subhash C. Taneja
Rohtak

Exam worries

I had recently appeared in the screening test for the post of assistant engineer (civil) in the MCD on January11, 1998, which was conducted by the Delhi Subordinate Services Selection Board. My roll no was 027040417. In order to know the result of the screening test I have written to the Secretary, DSSB, Delhi vide letters dated October 28,2000,December 4,2000, January 2, January 24, February 6,February 27,March 26,April 26,June 19, July 19 and September 14 this year to furnish me the following information: (a) Whether the result of the above said screening test had been declared or not, (b) If declared, whether the names of successful applicants appeared in the result or not and (c) Whether the successful candidates had been offered appointment or not.

No response has been received from the authorities concerned. It goes to show that some irregularities have been made in the screening test. I would be thankful if the matter is taken up for due investigation and the DSSB is directed to furnish the desired information without further delay.

Davinder Kumar Ahuja,
Jagadhri

A plenitude of high days & holidays

On December 21 I read a news item titled “Three days a week in Sonepat” in NCR Tribune. If we calculate the working days of officials in various departments in a year, we find that out of 365 days of the year these officials work for about 168 days. (A total of 52 Sundays, 52 Saturdays, 33 days’ earned leave, 15 days’ casual leave, 20 days’ medical leave and 25 days’ gazetted holidays works out to 197 days’ off. Hence, 365 minus 197 comes to168 days).

Further, if we go by the calculation of working hours of these officials in a year, 168 days multiplied by seven hours a day (excluding one-hour lunch break), it comes to 1,176 hours. Now if we divide these hours by the days of the year it comes to roughly three hours a day. The Tribune correspondent should not much wonder because such a situation is not prevalent in Sonepat district alone but throughout other districts also. Yes, society in general and the government (representative of society) in particular must think for a while and take urgent necessary action accordingly.

Om Parkash Wadhwa,
Gohana


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Huge haul of spurious cosmetic items, 3 held
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 28
With the arrest of three persons, the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police Crime Branch has claimed to have unearthed a racket of sale and supply of spurious cosmetic products by some traders. The police have seized a huge haul of spurious commodities worth more than Rs 20 lakh from them.

The police said that the gang was involved in selling fake products under the labels of reputed companies like Hindustan Lever Limited, Dabur and others. On receiving information about the racket, three separate police teams conducted simultaneous raids on the business premises of these traders located in Sadar Bazar from where they had been allegedly supplying adulterated cosmetic products to various parts of the country.

The seized products include Fair & Lovely Cream, Sunsilk Shampoo, Lakme Radiant Complexion, eye-liner, kajal, foundation powder, Dabur Amla Hair Oil and other products mostly used by women.

Three different cases were registered under the Copyright and TMM Act against the three accused. The police are also trying to trace their source of supply and manufacturers to bust the entire gang.

Murderer nabbed

The South district police today claimed to have arrested an accomplice in the sensational murder of builder K. K. Singh and Sanjay Yadav in Gurgaon and seized the weapon used for the crime. With the arrest, the police have arrested yet another member of the inter-state gang of Ashok Rathi. The accused Sandeep, alias Dabbu, resident of Bondh Khurd village in Haryana, was arrested at Lado Sarai when he was coming on a stolen Maruti car for committing another crime. On sustained interrogation, Sandeep revealed that the pistol seized was used by the gang in the sensational murder of K. K. Singh and Sanjay Yadav. The Malviya Nagar police had arrested Ashok Rathi along with other associates on December 9. During interrogation, they had revealed that some of their accomplices involved in the double murder were hiding and operating in Haryana and Delhi.
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Gang busted

New Delhi, December 28
With the arrest of five persons, the Anti-Auto theft squad of South district police claimed to have busted a gang of robbers, snatchers and auto thieves. They claimed to have worked out ten cases with the arrest of these persons. Two knives and four stolen cars have been recovered from them. TNS
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