Friday, February 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Lajpat Nagar residents simmer in anger
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
Tension was palpable in the Lajpat Nagar area of South Delhi today, the scene of Thursday’s demolition drive, as agitated residents sifted through the rubble to retrieve some of their belongings which they could not remove yesterday.

What has added to the tension and resentment is the death of two elderly persons, who reportedly suffered heart attack during the demolition yesterday.

A strong police contingent has been posted in the area. The workers of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi continued to clear the rubble from the lanes and bye-lanes. More than 3500 residents in the area had been served demolition notices by the MCD.

The residents were simmering in anger against the MCD even as officials claimed that an enquiry had been ordered to look into the alleged complicity of some officials of the MCD’s South Zonal office, which is located there. A number of residents alleged that they had paid hefty sums to the officials who had at that time assured them that the structures would be regularised in due course of time. The officials, however, deny this allegation.

There is a consensus in the top echelons of the MCD and the government circles that such blatant and brazen encroachments could not have taken place without the concurrence of the area officials, who are generally on the prowl and are supposed to prevent usurping of government land.

Some officials also claimed that the large scale encroachments in Lajpat Nagar and other South Delhi colonies was the result of the nexus between officials, local politicians and real estate speculators. The money involved in the tainted transactions ran into several hundred crores. This assessment was based on the going rate of property in these areas.

With the political parties already galvanised into activity in view of the forthcoming Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections scheduled some time in late March, the entire debate on encroachments and demolitions is likely to take on a political hue. This is precisely the reason why the councillors of the area were keeping in touch with the office bearers of the Residents Welfare Associations; they have even promised to take up the matter with the Union Home Ministry and urge the senior leaders to take a humanitarian view of the encroachments. The councillors feel that some of the residents had become unwitting victims and spent their lives earnings in getting flats and commercial properties in the area.

It was an emotive moment when the bodies of the two persons, who died of heart attack, were taken for cremation. Agitated residents spilled onto the Ring Road and disrupted traffic for over an hour, before they were persuaded to disperse. The residents also raised anti-MCD and anti-government slogans.

There was chaos on the congested Ring Road as traffic was diverted through some of the side lanes. The Police said that no untoward incident was reported and the situation was being constantly monitored.



War widows sent on a merry-go-round
Abhay Jain

Gurgaon, February 7
The Haryana Government has been lukewarm towards widows of soldiers who are allotted petrol pumps by the Central Government. It has thereby undermined the Centre’s stated policy to make the widows economically independent and enable them to lead a dignified life. While the widows of soldiers are given priority in the allotment of petrol pumps by the Central Government, the various departments of the State government take their own sweet time in completing the formalities.

The Government-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, the Bharat Petroleum Corporation and the Indian Oil Corporation issue a ‘letter of intent’ to the beneficiaries. Here, the biggest bottleneck is procuring land on lease for setting up the petrol pump. And even if the land has been allotted, obtaining ‘no objection certificates’ (NOCs) from various departments becomes an uphill task.

Mrs Seema Sastry, wife of Late Major Vikrant Sastry who died in Nagaland in 1995, was issued a ‘letter of intent’ for a retail outlet by the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation in July 2001.

But Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) threw a spanner in the works, refusing to provide land to the HPCL on lease, on the ground that “no retail outlet site is presently available for allotment along the National Highway No 8”. “Therefore, it is not possible to consider the request”, said the terse letter written by HUDA to HPCL in August 2001.

Col GBVL Sastry, father-in-law of Seema Sastry, said that as HUDA had refused to give land to HPCL for the outlet, his daughter-in-law has no option but to pay a hefty sum of Rs 50 lakh to buy land in the open market. “We cannot arrange this huge amount even after selling our house”, lamented Col Sastry.

In a letter to the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Col Sastry has pointed out that their cumulative resources cannot meet the cost of the land and the infrastructure. He has requested the chief minister to consider his daughter-in-law’s case on compassionate grounds and alleviate the anguish of a war veteran.

As per the extension granted by the HPCL, Seema Sastry will have to open her outlet by March 2002.

In another case, on the directive of the Petroleum Ministry, Bharat Petroleum Corporation approved the allotment of a petrol pump to a pilot’s widow, Mrs Madhur Sahay, in 1994. But she had to run from pillar to post for five years to procure the land and obtain NOCs from various departments, only to start the pump in March 1999.

The concerned departments – police, fire, town & country planning, panchayat – should be more forthcoming while issuing NOCs as dependants of soldiers are not accustomed to the various bottlenecks, said the relieved lady.

She also suggested that the refineries should attach a copy of guidelines along with the letter of intent, advising them on whom to approach for various purposes.

Col Sastry suggested that the Central government must ensure that the allottees get the land and the NOCs in a time-bound manner, so that the beneficiary is not constrained to shelve the project.

The shoddy policy of the State government also encourages corruption as attempts are made to entice the allottees with tempting offers, to either sell the petrol pump or go in for a partnership, lamented Col Sastry.



Cops in mufti fire at mob in ‘self-defence’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
A seven-member team of the special staff of the South District police today fired several rounds in the air from their service revolvers to scare away a mob which had gheraoed them inside an East Delhi cloth shop, mistaking them for armed robbers. No one was reported injured though there was a considerable panic in the area.

The matter was sorted out when the local police arrived on the spot and established the identity of the police officials who were in mufti.

According to the police, the incident occurred this afternoon when, on a tip-off, the team went to raid the place in search of some alleged thieves. The shopkeepers and the residents of the area, spotting their arms, thought they were desperadoes planning to loot the businessmen. A huge crowd collected soon in the narrow lane of Shanti Mohalla where the cloth shop is located. They threatened the policemen in plain clothes with lathis and iron rods. Finding themselves cornered and outnumbered, the cops fired in the air. There was a complete panic as the mob dispersed and ran for safety.

Senior police officers said that enquiry was on to ascertain if the officials of the special staff were justified in opening fire.



Artisans take back seat at Surajkund
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, February 7
The concept behind the mela, which is on at Surajkund, seems to be getting diluted. The commercial aspect seems to be taking precedence with each passing year, as the fair wins international acclaim. Although over 350 craftsmen, artisans and weavers are invited each year to the mela, the selection process is not exactly bereft of controversy.

Take Mohammed Hashim, who makes bangles and other items from lac, glass etc. He has been denied a place inside the village even though his work has been appreciated at various foras. He has been allowed to display his wares in a stall outside the main gate of the village, for which he has shelled out Rs 10,000. This is the 16th edition of the mela, which was launched in 1987. It was started with the intention of patronising lesser-known crafts, handicrafts and handlooms. Despite the tall claims of the authorities, many artisans do not get a chance to participate in the fair. Even the leasing out of stalls outside the village to traders has raised many an eyebrow.

It is reported that several shopkeepers and traders from Delhi have cornered about 50 such stalls put up by organisers. While the authorities deny any `bias’ in the allotment of stalls, it is learnt that some of the stall owners are in fact traders who manage to get a berth each year in the fair.

Dr Elis, an American tourist, who was visiting the fair for the second time, said that “the mela was fantastic and very attractive,” but it was not possible to ascertain which artwork was genuine. 



Maken calls Khurana’s bluff on DVB
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
Joining issue with Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana on the issue of the Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) privatisation, Power Minister Ajay Maken today acknowledged the sorry state of affairs of the utility but contended that the privatisation of the board’s distribution network was being done in the most transparent manner.

Mr Khurana had told reporters on Wednesday that the privatisation of the DVB lacked transparency while the method of fixing the power tariff was based on a wrong system. “The whole exercise will meet the Enron fate,” he had said.

While acknowledging, reluctantly though, that power pilferage in the Capital was worth Rs 1,200 crore annually and it had assumed the trappings of an industry, he, however, accused Mr Khurana of attempting to create roadblocks on the road to the privatisation of the DVB. The minister said the Congress-led Delhi Government would push through with power sector reforms and challenged him to a “one-on-one debate, anytime, anywhere at a public platform” on the issue. The DVB, with a total liability of Rs 20,000 crore, is to be unbundled into three separate companies of production, transmission and distribution. “We are firmly on the way to the privatisation of the DVB and it is likely to be accomplished by March-end,” he said. Groups like Tata Power, Reliance, Mumbai-based BSES and Kolkata-based CESCON are in the fray for gaining control of the DVB’s distribution network. Other players like AES and China Light have already withdrawn from the process.

The minister said the Government of NCT of Delhi had adopted the same procedure for valuation of the DVB as was done in the case of Kanpur Electricity Supply Company (KESCO) in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP is in power. “The Uttar Pradesh Government had employed SBI Caps as their consultant for the privatisation of the state electricity board. The Delhi Government has also employed SBI Caps as its consultant for the DVB’s privatisation,” he said. Likewise, he said, the Uttar Pradesh Government had adopted the “value-based” method for valuation of its electricity board’s assets and liabilities. The Delhi Government had also adopted the same method.



DSGMC funds being diverted for Punjab poll campaign’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
Members of the National Akali Dal today demonstrated in the Capital to protest against the alleged misuse of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee funds for Punjab elections.

The president of the party, Mr Paramjit Singh Pamma, alleged that the DSGMC funds and manpower were being diverted to assist the Akali Dal government in Punjab during the assembly polls.

“Thousands of victims of 1984 riots are still languishing. The DSGMC has not even taken a single step to help these victims. On the other hand, they are providing funds collected in gurdwaras for elections in Punjab,” he said.

The demonstrators included several riot victims and they lashed out against the DSGMC members. One of the victims, Darshan Kaur, said she had been fighting various cases in the courts without any help or support from the DSGMC. Even after several years, my children had not yet been provided with jobs, she added.



FMD claims 15 heads of cattle
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, February 7
More than 15 heads of cattle have died due to the foot and mouth disease at Dattaur village in Sampla block during the last week. Villagers said the disease spread last week and the veterinary hospital did not have any doctors. Mr Shamsher Singh, Mr Narayan Dutt, Mr Hoshiar Singh, Mr Pawan and Mr Rajesh, all residents of Dattaur village said their cattle had died due to the disease.

Three hurt in mishap

Three persons were injured seriously when a bus and a canter collided with each other on the G.T. Road near Rai village, about 13 km from here, yesterday. According to a report, the bus was on its way from Amritsar to Delhi. All the injured, Ajit Singh, Ram Phal and Subhash Chander, were sent to a Delhi hospital for treatment. The canter driver, however, managed to escape leaving the vehicle behind. The police have registered a case against him and launched a hunt to apprehend him.

Temple wall Demolished

A squad from the district administration demolished the boundary wall of Lord Shiva Temple at the Misson Chowk here yesterday. According to a report, the step has been taken to widen the road. The district authorities have also asked the management of the temple to remove the idol of Lord Shiva immediately.



Plastic godown gutted in Hindon Vihar
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, February 7
A plastic godown in Gali No 2 in Hindon Vihar under Sihani Gate police station was gutted in a fire last evening. This is the second fire in a week in the colony.

Last week, two workers died in a fire in a plastic factory in a residential area. As the godown was located in an open plot, it was easy for the people to help douse the fire. Besides, two fire tenders from the Kotwali and Sahibabad fire service arrived soon, which helped to controlled the flames from engulfing the adjacent buildings and causing further damage.

According to fire officer R. P. Gupta, the owner of the plastic godown and the plot owner has not yet been identified. He said that many plastic godowns have been set up illegally in the area that pose great risk to the people living there.

“When some accident takes place and we take action, these people lie low for a while, after which, they again resume their risky business.” The fire officer said that he had repeatedly apprised his superiors of the situation but no concrete action or policy was initiated. 



Rail link to connect Noida with Mumbai mooted
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 7
The Indian Railways is conducting a feasibility study for linking Noida and Greater Noida with Mumbai and Kolkata, the two prime rail routes, said Mr S. N. Shukla, Industrial Development Commissioner and Principal Secretary, Industries, Uttar Pradesh Government, here today.

The proposed route connecting Dadri, Greater Noida, Noida, Tughlakabad and Shahdara will cater to both freight and passenger movement on the main line, he said. Mr Shukla said the state government had also decided to convert the UPSIDC into an authority on the pattern of Noida and Greater Noida and had decided to extend operation and maintenance contract for the industrial estates to private parties. The government had also decided to allocate 60 per cent of the municipal tax collected from industrial estates for the maintenance and upkeep of these estates.



Three kg heroin seized

New Delhi, February 7
With the arrest of four persons, the Narcotics Branch of the Delhi Police today claimed to have recovered three and half kg heroin worth Rs 3. 5 crore. The suspects, who were arrested from Mehrauli, were identified as Birampur and Sahib Singh. Their interrogation led to the arrest of Rajesh and Raju from Batra Cinema and Chanakyapuri respectively. All the suspects have been booked under NDPS Act. The police said that they were the members of a gang that supplied narcotics in the Capital. It was learnt that they got their narcotics supply from Bareilly and Budain in UP. TNS


Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |