Saturday, March 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Consumer Day Sops 
Competition makes BSNL sit up
Ravi S.Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, March 15
With the private operators turning the heat on the Gurgaon circle of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), the Nigam has decided to widen the canvas of its services which include the setting up of a call centre in the city probably by June.

As if to send out a strong signal, the General Manager, Telecom, Gurgaon Circle, Mr Shrikant Sharma, chose the World Consumer Rights Day today to announce a series of pro-customer measures. The call centre will be installed in the main telephone exchange/headquarters of the local circle in the city. The mechanism will be entirely computerised. The facility will help the consumers wire in to the centre to register ‘repair service’ complaints.

The mechanism will have both the interactive wire response system and the facility of an operator, who would be ready round the clock to help the information-seekers.

Besides, the BSNL has also decided to set up a customer service centre in the DLF area. Mr Sharma conceded that there had been a large number of complaints against the billing distribution system. The telecom department has initiated postal as well as courier services for sending the bills to the consumers. Although this has been done as a pilot project in DLF, Sushant Lok and Sector 18, the facility could be gradually expanded to other parts of the city in a phased manner.

Responding to a specific query on the shortage of personnel in the circle, he said that with the legal hurdles removed on the status of recruitment of 40 telecom technical staff, things should improve. However, the personnel have to undergo training for about eight months. According to him, the circle has prepared a case for the recruitment of phone mechanics/linesmen and send it to the higher authorities. The local authorities are hopeful that the case would get the approval, he added.

The expansion plans include increasing the number of telephone exchanges. Till February this year, 10 exchanges have been added to the figure of March 31 last year. By the end of this fiscal, there are plans to install exchanges in DLF Square, Gateway Towers, Wellingdon (near Sector 56), Sector 4 and Rajindera Park.

Giving details, Mr Sharma said that the capacity connections had been increased by 20,688 till February this year. Working connections had been increased by about 16,000. However, 5,000 more will be added to it by the end of this financial year.

The number in the Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) has increased from 540 last year to 848.

Besides, the number of high-powered data circuits has gone up from 179 last year to 372. In response to another question, he revealed that the telecom department has sent notices for the recovery of Rs 20 lakh from the various departments of the Haryana Government and the Touchtel, the private operator in Gurgaon.



BJP, Cong tone gets shrill
BJP seeks minister's dismissal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
A day after it charged Industries Minister Deep Chand Bandhu with manipulating the voter’s list to include ‘bogus’ votes, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) team on Friday met with Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor and sought the minister’s dismissal. Earlier in the day, the party also held a sit-in to press for its demands. The BJP had on Thursday alleged that Mr Bandhu had entered the names of 52 voters against his residence A 144, Ashok Vihar Phase I in the electoral roll of Polling Booth No 89. Similarly, in the electoral roll of Polling Booth No 69, 31 voters have been shown to be residing in D 267 Ashok Vihar Phase I, which belongs to his brother. Six names, that of his brother and other family members, are entered in both the lists and have been issued more than one voter identity card.

The three-member delegation that called on the Lieutenant Governor included Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Prof Jagdish Mukhi and the party’s Chief Whip in the Assembly Nand Kishore Garg. Submitting that Mr Bandhu, who also holds the election portfolio, is responsible for conducting fair polls and the chief election officer (responsible for preparing the voter’s list) is placed directly under him, the party in a memorandum handed over to the Lieutenant Governor, sought an inquiry in the matter.

BJP President Mange Ram Garg said the minister had violated the provision of Section 120B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and, therefore, criminal proceedings should be instituted against him. “One minister has already been dropped from the Sheila Dikshit Ministry on corruption charges … Bandhu should be the next to go for hatching a conspiracy to promote bogus voting,” he said. In “defence” of Bandhu, the Congress reiterated that the electoral roll had been sent to all political parties for eliciting objections.



Cong levels swindling charge
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
Allegations are flying thick and fast as the BJP and the Congress brace up for the battle of the ballot. Not to be undone by the BJP’s allegation of manipulation of electoral roll, the Congress has accused the party of swindling public money to the tune of Rs 70 crore in the name of regularisation of additional constructions made in residential colonies.

Congress Spokesperson Mukesh Sharma on Friday said the BJP-ruled Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) had collected the sum in spite of former Union Urban Development Minister Jagmohan refusing to regularise any additional constructions in residential colonies. The BJP leaders in the Corporation, he said, had misused the Rs 70 crore collected from the people instead of putting it to proper use.

BJP’s Member of Parliament from Delhi Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Mr Sharma said, was trying to confuse the voters by giving out a false promise of regularisation of additional constructions. Stating that the BJP did not try to amend the Rules even once in spite of being in power both in the Corporation and the Centre, he said the Congress’ first priority would be suitably amend the building bye-laws.

The five-year rule of the BJP in the Corporation, he told media persons, would be remembered for the lax and inefficient handling of development works. “The net result,” he said, “was that neither were roads repaired nor drains cleaned. The funds allocated for primary education were not fully utilised,” he added. Meanwhile, the party has roped in Hindi cinema actress Reena Roy to campaign for its candidates in Hastsal where she would address public meetings on Sunday.



All in the family
Ramesh Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
It’s a tale of one municipal ward, two families, three elections and loads of politics. Denied a ticket by the Congress, OP Kaushik (60) is contesting as an independent against his old foe and brother-in-law Mahesh Chandra Sharma (67) of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.) Their political rivalry dates back to 1983 when Kaushik defeated Sharma to become councillor. Fourteen years later they met again, in the last civic elections in 1997, when Sharma emerged victorious and went on to become the Leader of House in the BJP-controlled Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD.) Who will triumph the third time, will be decided by the 44,957 registered voters in Kishanganj Ward No 133. The duo though have also to contend with Congress’ Satbeer Sharma.

Upset by the Congress’ denying him the ticket, Kaushik does not forget to mention in his campaign of the unfair treatment meted out to him by the party he “nurtured” for over two decades. “Factions opposed to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit deliberately struck out my name … many dedicated Congress workers have met with the same fate … this does not augur well,” he fumes when the NCR Tribune caught up with him in his election office.

Ask him about the issues he is raising in his campaign and he rattles off the achievements he has accomplished in a political career spanning two decades. Regularisation of slums and giving ownership rights of slum tenements, construction of a railway station in Kishanganj, getting the then Union Railway Minister and Congress leader, the late Madhavrao Scindia, to okay payment of electricity bills for Railway employees living in the area at residential rates instead of commercial rates…. Short of throwing personal barbs at his rival, BJP’s sitting councillor and Kaushik’s brother-in-law Mahesh Chandra Sharma highlights the achievements of the BJP in the Corporation. Having to contend with two rivals – Congress candidate Satbeer Sharma and rebel Congress candidate OP Kaushik – has added a new dimension to the turf war in Kishanganj ward. Sharma, though, is confident of putting up a fight. Political rivalry has not left untouched their families and although none is complaining, their wives resent the deep divide. “There has been no contact whatsoever with them for over a decade now,” Sharma’s wife Kailashwati confides. Ditto Sushila, her sister-in-law. For the record, an estimated 18,000 voters in the “cosmopolitan” Kishanganj are government employees.



Admission file of MBBS student at PGIMS ‘missing’
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, March 15
The MBBS admission record of Mridula Yadav, daughter of Dr D. R. Yadav, officiating Director, Pt B. D. Sharma Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, is missing since the filing of a civil suit by Dr Jagdish in the court of the Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), Rohtak, on February 28.

In his civil suit, Dr Jagdish had objected to the admission of Mridula Yadav in the Backward Class category on the ground that her father, being a class-I officer, was covered in the creamy layer and as per a Haryana Government notification (no.1170-SW(i) dated June 7, 1995) she was not entitled to the benefit of reservation in the Backward Class category. The academic branch of the PGIMS had sent a missive to (letter no. ST/II/2002/1488 dated March 5) to the Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), asking the latter to return the admission record of backward class candidates, the category in which Mridula Yadav was admitted. The university promptly replied on March 11, stating that that the application forms of the admitted candidates were supposed to be with the PGIMS, irrespective of whether their admission was granted through court or otherwise. The admission forms of all candidates admitted to MBBS/BDS course are kept in the PGIMS. Ever since the controversy erupted, a verbal duel is on between the university and the PGIMS, with both trying to pass the buck.

Ms Mridula Yadav was admitted to the MBBS course at the PGIMS on September 27,1996 in the Backward Category on the basis of an entrance test conducted by the MDU in May-June 1995. Dr Jagdish, Professor Medicine, was deputed to check the category certificates of the candidates seeking admission in the backward class quota.

Dr D. R. Yadav, in his reply filed in the court, had said that his daughter was admitted legally with the approval of the Maharshi Dayanand University (letter dated September 6,1996) in the light of the judgment of Punjab and Haryana High Court dated January 15,1996 and civil suit no. 1186 filed on September 20, 1995 in a local court by Mridula Yadav. In another development, the Director, PGIMS, ordered Dr Jagdish on January 22 to vacate his office and hand over the same to Dr M. S. Gupta, an ad hoc Professor junior to Dr Jagdish, for installation of a TMT machine. Aggrieved over the order, Dr Jagdish filed a civil suit challenging the order.

The Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) has now stayed the eviction of Dr Jagdish from his office and fixed the next hearing for March 19.



A mahakumbh of test-tube babies
Smriti Kak

Dr Anoop Gupta.
Dr Anoop Gupta.

New Delhi, March 15
After the Mahakumbh that landed India on top of the destination-to-be lists, here is another one, though with a little difference. And this one may have the holier-than-thou conservatives frowning, but for the thousands who pine for an heir, it spells music. On Sunday, the 17th of March, the Diwan-e-Aam at Taj Mansingh will play host to a Mahakumbh of IVF babies, popularly known as test tube babies.

Flummoxed! Well, according to the doctor who has played a crucial role in bringing these bundles of joy, it is a time to celebrate the very existence of the little strangers.

Says Dr Anoop Gupta, infertility specialist who runs the Delhi IVF Fertility Research Centre, “We can only help people conceive and once they do so, they are referred to either a gynaecologist or they choose their doctor and hospital for delivering the baby. Consequently, we lose touch with the babies that we have helped conceive. This is mainly to get to know the babies and allow an interaction amongst the various beneficiaries of the IVF procedure.” However, planning the reunion was no piece of cake. “IVF still is taboo. It is very difficult to convince the parents to come out in the open with their babies. Most of them want to keep it a secret that they have conceived a baby through the IVF. But it is a pity as by doing so, they are depriving others of something they have benefited from.” So the Mahakumbh is on, but the grand kumbh would be made possible only by the efforts of the man who had helped bring a smile to many a lip, besides taking the initiative of letting people know, “infertility is curable”. Dr Gupta began his clinic in Bengali Market about seven years ago and today he feels proud that his clinic has seen 800 couples walk away with a bundle of joy. “It is a very touching moment for us as is for the parents. We really want to tell people that science has made infertility a thing of the past. Now, we can try and have babies way after the fertility periods. There are so many ways of helping those who want to have a baby of their own. It is just that people are not aware.” Offering a solution, he says, “People should not feel embarrassed that they had to resort to the IVF or the test tube procedure. Instead, they should come forward and spread the word so that others can avail themselves of the benefit as well.” For Sunita, a mother of twins, Dr Gupta has been an angel. “Initially, I was very sceptical, but my friends who are in the medical profession gave the go-ahead and really worked on my mind. My husband who was with me throughout gave me confidence and today I am a mother of twin children.” Sunita is happy about the reunion, she says, “I was there last year as well and am happy that this year, I will be joined by my babies. Last year, I was still pregnant.” Though the beaming mother has kept it secret so far, she is open to the idea of a reunion.

“We should counsel people that there is no need to be so secretive about the whole thing. There is absolutely nothing abnormal with these babies,” adds Dr Gupta.



In Haryana, Lady Nicotine rules
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 15
Smoking is banned in public places. That’s an old hat. Banned it is, but only on papers. Who will implement the order of the Supreme Court that calls for a ban on smoking in public places? As a matter of fact, the order is violated right under the nose of the guardians of the law in the various districts of Haryana.

The district authorities simply do not know how to enforce the order.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Arun Kumar, admitted that the violation had been going on for a long time, but added that no instructions were received about the implementation of the ban. The police have failed to book even a single case so far. They wink at the smokers as many of them are smokers themselves, said a social activist here. He queried as to how the police could check the hazard when they themselves are addicted to the weed.

A senior police official admitted that curbing smoking in public places in Haryana was a herculean task as several members of the implementing authorities were addict themselves. The smoky scene in a Haryana Roadways bus makes a mockery of the ‘No Smoking’ sign. The ban is violated by the driver or the conductor as the majority of transport staff are smokers themselves. Nearly 50 to 60 per cent of the passengers in a Haryana bus have been found to be smoking inside the bus, according to a survey.

Recently, a man travelling in a roadways bus from Faridabad to Chandigarh was given a tongue-lashing by a co-passenger who had lit up a cigarette. The man had the ‘cheek’ to object to his smoking. The smoker also got the support of the bus staff, who scoffed at the ‘no smoking’ notice. Several senior officials of various state government departments, including the police, smoke themselves. No wonder, the rule is observed more in its violation, said Dr Raman Kakkar, a physician here. Ironically, not a single complaint has been lodged against the smoking so far in the district.



RAF mans sensitive areas to check Ayodhya backlash
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
Security was beefed up in Delhi on Friday with the Rapid Action Force (RAF) and para-military personnel being deployed in sensitive areas, in view of the possible fallout of the proposed ‘shila daan’ by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad in Ayodhya.

Police and para-military personnel were seen patrolling sensitive pockets, especially in the Walled City, and some areas in

North-East and East districts. Anxious residents of the Walled City preferred not to come out of their houses. They said their Friday prayers in the mosques located in the streets. Market in the Walled City were deserted. Shops owned by non-Muslims in minority-dominated areas were not opened. No kiosks were seen on the footpath in Meena Bazar either.

A shopkeeper in Matia Mahal area said there was no tension in the area. But people did not want to take any chances. However, it was business as usual in Fatehpuri, Khari Baoli and Chandni Chowk, the main markets in the Walled City.

The main road leading from Darya Ganj to Jama Masjid was sealed. Besides, a large number police personnel were deployed at the entry points of Meena Bazar, Balimaran, Turkman Gate and Ajmeri Gate. Generally, people raise slogans after the Friday prayers in the Jama Masjid, but today they kept quite and went to their houses after namaaz. The Friday prayer in Jama Masjid was over 20 minutes early. 



Some respite: auto strike off, fares will go up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The auto and taxi fares in the Capital would be revised next month in view of the CNG price hike, the Delhi Transport Minister, Mr Ajay Maken, said here today.

The government also agreed to grant time to the striking autos and taxis for installing electronic meters, thus ending the two-day-old strike, which had hit the daily routine of the commuters in the Capital. Talking to the NCR Tribune, Mr Maken said: “The fare revision of the autos and taxis would be discussed next month after the MCD polls.” Asked whether the fare revision was the quid pro quo for ending the strike, Mr Maken said: “The move to revise the fare is not linked to the strike, though the issue was taken up by the unions.” The minister said the fare structure would be reviewed in the light of the hike in the CNG prices. Another sop for the striking auto and taxi owners is the lowering of interest on loan for electronic meters by 0.25 per cent. “This facility would be available to only those owners who have taken loans from the Delhi Financial Corporation. This subsidy works out to almost Rs 2,000, which is the approximate cost of the electronic meters,” Mr Maken said. The DFC had extended loans to 7,000 auto in the Capital for the purchase of eco-friendly CNG vehicles.



Pahelwan ready to surrender
Parmindar Singh

Ghaziabad, March 15
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ghaziabad, Mr Rajinder Kumar, today passed the orders for the attachment of the property of Sukhdev alias Pahelwan, the third accused in the Nitish Katara kidnapping and murder case. Pahelwan is reported to have informed the court today that he wants to surrender. He has already been declared a proclaimed offender by the court and is the only accused still absconding, according to the SP City, Dr Ashok Raghav. Sukhdev alias Pahelwan is reportedly having a house and some land in his native village at Khushi Nagar in UP. Pahelwan, who has worked as an assistant (munshi) to an advocate, had a case under Section 307 for attempted murder registered against him. 



School dropout rate in Capital 15 pc
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, March 15
The dropout rate in the Capital stands at 15.23 per cent, the Minister of State for Human Resources Development, Ms Rita Verma, informed the Rajya Sabha.

She added that the government had adopted various strategies to address the problem of dropouts. These included focus on quality improvement and adoption of child-centered pedagogy, better school environment including more buildings and classrooms, provisions of free textbooks to girls and SC/ST students. Ms Verma said mid-day meal programme, alternative and innovative education such as bridge courses, remedial teaching and back-to-school camps involving the community in bringing children back to school and ensuring their retention, would be given more attention.

Minister of Environment and Forests T. R. Baalu informed the Rajya Sabha that the Supreme Court had directed that steps should be taken to ensure that the minimum desired water quality, “Class C”, be obtained from the Yamuna by March 31, 2003. He said the sewage treatment capacity had been increased from 1,290 million litre per day in 1995 to 2190 million litres per day. It was targeted to be increased to 2,285 million litre per day by March 2002.

The central government had recently provided a loan of Rs 4.50 crore to facilitate the payment of salaries to the Super Bazaar employees who have not been paid their salaries from September, 2001, Parliament was told today by Minister of State for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution V. Sreenivasa Prasad.

The recommendations of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority for the National Capital Region included the phasing out of leaded petrol, converting the city bus fleet to a single fuel mode of CNG, introduction of petrol with one per cent benzene, sale of only pre-mixed 2-T oil at petrol stations and ban on plying of buses that are more than eight years old except on clean fuels, Environment and Forests Minister T. R. Baalu said.



Budget: Roll back cries rend the air
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
Various industry associations have begun crying hoarse on the hikes in the rates of various taxes and duties in the Union Budget. The Delhi Stainless Steel Cutlery Association has urged the Union Finance Minister to reconsider his decision to impose excise duty on cutlery goods. The president of the association, Mr Vijay Malik, in a memorandum to the Union Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, said the levy of four per cent excise duty on cutlery goods would adversely affect the sector.

Stating that the small-scale sector was involved in the manufacture of cutlery goods, Mr Malik said these goods were not a luxury item anymore and the imposition of the excise duty, at a time when the economy is witnessing economic slowdown, would adversely affect the sector. He said in the 1998 Budget, eight per cent duty was levied but was withdrawn after the minister was apprised of the concerns of the sector.

Card sector worried: After technology taking its toll on the greeting card sector, the hike in the postal rates in the Union Budget has further hit the sector badly. Delhi Wedding and Greeting Cards Manufacturers’ Association today asked the government to roll back the hike in book post rates announced in the Budget. “The success of our business, to a great extent, depends upon postal rates and that have been rising over the last couple of years,” the association’s president, Mr Krishan Murari Gupta, was quoted as saying in a letter to the Finance Minister.

Dry-cleaners cut up:
The Panipat Dry-cleaners and Dyers Association has urged the Union Finance Minister to withdraw the proposed five per cent service tax on dry-cleaning imposed in the Budget.

In a meeting of the association, the district president of the association, Mr Gaurav Bajaj, pointed out that chemicals and petrol suppliers had already been paying the taxes levied by the central and state governments. Therefore, there was no logic on imposing service tax on dry-cleaning services.



INLD Youth Wing members disenchanted with seniors 
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, March 15
Members of the Youth Wing of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) are disheartened by the conduct of senior politicians and bureaucrats in the state. They allege that only the Chief Minister and his two sons have any say in the affairs of the party and the state.

A number of office-bearers and workers of the Youth Wing of the INLD complained that the political system hardly responded to the needs and aspirations of the common workers. They lamented that people occupying high posts in the party had little say in the running of the government. They alleged that only three persons from the ruling family were running the government in the state. Even senior ministers and bureaucrats cannot move a file without seeking their consent, moaned a worker. The common party workers are also sore over the attitude of the senior office-bearers of the INLD. Stating an example of corruption at high places in the state, a worker on condition of anonymity alleged that he was made to pay a handsome amount to a party office-bearer for a favour. However, he complained that neither was the favour granted nor the amount refunded. He alleged that even ministers had no influence over the working of the government. A party worker informed ‘NCR Tribune’ that when he went to a minister for a community work, the minister expressed his helplessness and remarked that he could not even transfer a peon in his own department. The minister said that little power had been delegated to him and it seems that he had been made minister just for symbolic reasons to fulfil the formality. Feeling neglected, another worker alleged that the bureaucrats in the state only listened to the Chief Minister and his two sons. 



Temporary sheds become a headache for R. K. Puram residents
Rohit Wadhwaney

New Delhi, March 15
Persons who are allotted quarters legally in the government residential colony of R. K. Puram in south Delhi have been cut up with the government for its keenness in imposing rules and regulations on them even as it has ignored the civic problems and illegal activities that plague the colony. The Directorate of Estates, Government of India, had issued notices to the allottees in the colony a few months back asking them to demolish the temporary sheds they had erected in the backyards and on the rooftops of their houses.

Ever since, government officials have been harassing them to demolish the constructions, residents allege. They have written to all and sundry to withdraw the notices and they are still awaiting a response.

Residents allege that every other week, one government official or the other threatens them that their allotment would be cancelled if they failed to demolish the temporary structures. And they have no choice but to “bribe them to escape the harassment”, some of them say.

They admit that most of them had constructed temporary sheds, but also plead that they did not have a choice. There are only two small rooms in the Type II quarters. On an average, there are at least five persons in a family. And in the Type II quarters, all that fits in is a double cot, an almirah and a dressing table. They had to construct another room “by hook or by crook”, residents say. Breaking down these constructions would be tantamount to dividing families, they add.

“There are several families in the colony that have more than five people living in the small houses allotted to us. These houses can barely fit three people in them comfortably. For all of us, a couple of rooms won’t suffice. Just imagine our state,” said Mr Alok Kumar, president of the Sector 4 RWA. The residents had no choice but to construct “add-on rooms”. “If these rooms are demolished, the families will have to be divided,” he added. “If the government actually wants to do take action, it should check out all the extended constructions in the colony and then judge the ones that should be razed down. There are many who have built temporary sheds to fit their families in and others who have built them to give them out on rent or for using them as shops,” Ms Jyoti Atwal, block representative of Sector 12 told ‘NCR Tribune’.

The Residents Welfare Association (RWA) also went to the Union Urban Ministry to tell the senior officers about the woes. Though the ministry officials told the residents that they would look into the matter, the residents are surprised to see officials still knocking on their doors to remind them about the ‘cancellation’ and demolition.

“Whenever any notice is issued anywhere in the city, it becomes a cheque for several government officials to encash,” remarked a resident, who did not want to be identified.

Moreover, the residents find it surprising that the government has decided to act against legal allottees, while being indifferent towards the chronic problems and unauthorised persons living in the government colony.

According to the representatives of the RWA, a few years ago, the government “sold off a park in the colony” to a private trust, ignoring the interests and welfare of the residents. The RWA filed a petition in the high court and the court ruled in its favour. Hence, the park was saved. But last year, the authorities sold another piece of land in the same colony for similar use to the same private trust. Further, the authorities have sold two big plots in the colony earmarked for “construction of a market”, complain the residents. They also point out the large number of illegal dwellers in garages and unauthorised slums on government land. “When there are so many civic problems, including lack of cleanliness and blocked drains and broken doors, the government should think of ways to solving them instead of creating more problems for us by issuing us notices,” said Mr Satish Kapor, a resident.

However, authorities maintained that the problem of illegal constructions in the colony was also part of the many others and just because “90 per cent of the residents were party to the illegal activity”, it did not become legal.

“We are just waiting for an order. After that, these illegal constructions would have to be razed down. As far as the other civic problems plaguing the colony go, it is a different matter altogether,” said none other than the Union Urban Development Minister Ananth Kumar.



An example of everything that is wrong with the Railways
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 15
Travelling without tickets in trains is rampant among commuters alighting at Sonepat railway station, thanks to the failure of the ticket collectors to apprehend such persons. Although ticket collectors have been appointed at the station, none of them turns up when the incoming and outgoing trains arrive at the platforms. As a result, the passengers, even when they don’t carry any ticket, pass through the main gate without fearlessly. It is also alleged that some passengers even take away huge consignments of goods in the absence of any ticket collector at the main gate. However, such passengers may end up in the hands of the railway police or the RPF personnel. That doesn’t mean that they will end up behind bars since there is always the easy way out by paying small ‘sums’ as `nazrana’ to the personnel who, in turn, are ready for a ‘compromise’.

This not the only ill affecting the station. The booking office has also become the subject of public criticism. Although six window counters have been set up for the sale of tickets and monthly season tickets, only three of them are in operation. One is meant for the sale of tickets for the trains bound for Delhi and another for the trains meant for Ambala side. The third is meant for the sale of monthly season tickets. Long queues of passengers are always seen outside these counters and the staff are unable to sell the tickets to all the passengers before a particular train leaves. Most of them then leave the queues and run towards the platforms and board the trains without tickets.

Similarly, there is quite a scramble for monthly passes on account of unprecedented rush of commuters outside the window. The women staff always remain indifferent to the commuters, it is alleged. Many commuters allege that all their complaints made to the Station Superintendent and other higher authorities of the Railways in this regard have fallen on deaf ears. It is estimated that more than 20,000 passengers commute between Sonepat and Delhi and go to other nearby railway stations from here. They have to go under a severe ordeal almost every day. For instance, unlicensed hawkers sell snacks within the premises of the station in connivance with the railway officials and the police. Such unlicensed hawkers mint money by charging exorbitant rates from the travelling passengers.

The representatives of the Daily Railway Passengers Welfare Association have demanded immediate transfer of the Station Superintendent and the police officials found responsible for these rackets.

The Sonepat railway station has also become an example of utter neglect and poor amenities. The small sheds provided on the platforms are inadequate to cope with the rush of passengers. A large number of passengers have to wait for the trains in the sun and rain. The lavatories are always dirty. The water coolers always remain defective and no cold water for drinking is available in summer. The functioning of the computerised reservation office has also turned up a den of corruption, alleged many passengers, who visited it for reserving tickets recently.

Meanwhile, chain pulling on running trains has become a routine. Not only the suburban trains but also some long-distant trains are held up daily between Panipat and Subzimandi by the commuters for getting down from these trains at odd points. As a result, most of the trains run behind schedule almost every day. Repeated complaints sent to the higher railway authorities have yielded no results, commuters allege.



Lt-Governor reviews work on water main at Sonia Vihar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor today reviewed the progress of construction of the 270-cusecs raw water conveyance main from Murad Nagar in Uttar Pradesh to Sonia Vihar. The meeting was attended among others by officials from the UP Jal Nigam, Delhi Jal Board (DJB), National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) and Government of NCT of Delhi.

The 30-km raw water conduit is being constructed by the NBCC on behalf of the UP Jal Nigam and DJB. A water treatment plant having a capacity of 140 million gallons per day and costing Rs 188 crore is being constructed by the DJB in Sonia Vihar. Raw water for the plant will be made available from the Tehri Dam. Meanwhile, Chairman and Managing Director of the Delhi Tourism and Transport Development Corporation (DTTDC) Romesh Sabharwal and Rajeev Talwar, respectively, presented a cheque for Rs 62.83 lakh as dividend for the year 1999-2000 to the Lieutenant Governor during the day. The corporation has been paying dividend to its shareholders since 1989-90 and has made a profit of Rs 502.75 lakh in 1999-2000.



Sheila wants to make Delhi a dream Capital
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
The Planning Board of the Government of NCT of Delhi has in the draft 10th Five Year Plan emphasised “targeted development” of the NCR in order to address the issues of harnessing modern technology to upgrade the technical capability of departmental functioning. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told the officials of the Planning Board that the goal ought to be a well-managed, clean and modern city, comparable to other capitals of developed countries. The meeting was attended among others by the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Prof Jagdish Mukhi, District Development Committee Chairman Charan Singh Kandera, members of the Planning Board and officials. The Planning Department prepared and circulated sectoral highlights and issues for the 10th Five Year Plan 2002-2007/Annual Plan 2002-2003 in the meeting. The last meeting of the board was held on February 11 to seek the suggestions of the members of the board on the formulation of the 10th Five Year Plan 2002-2007 / Annual Plan 2002-2003. Chief Secretary Shailaja Chandra said the 10th Plan proposals allocated a higher proportion of resources for medical and education sectors.



Pray listen to the senior citizens at least, DTC

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 DTC issues the photo I-cards to the concessional pass holders. The I-card is valid for one year. After a year, the pass holders are required to renew their cards. Even as the DTC renews them, a fresh proof of age and residence is insisted upon which is absolutely unwarranted and speaks volumes of the callousness of the city transport. Imagine a senior citizen’s plight when he is asked to bring a copy of the ration card again to prove his age and confirm his place of residence, though the DTC computer record has it all.

One can understand that in case of loss or mutilation of the I-cards, another would be required and the pass holder may be called upon to pay the service charges. However, when the card is totally OK, asking for a commuter’s credentials once again after a year unnecessarily creates more work for the DTC and add to the confusion and harassment of the commuters, especially senior citizens.

Will the DTC do away with the renewal of I-cards like the monthly passes they issue in continuation of the old pass? By doing so, the DTC workload will be drastically cut for its own staff who have to perform the ritualistic exercise, and at the same time spare the poor commuters.

In any case, the DTC should at least spare the senior citizens from this ordeal. The commuters expect a positive response from the DTC which should prove that it cares for its consumers who have become more aware of their rights thanks to the World Consumer Rights Day observed every year.

R.L. Pathak, Lodi Colony, New Delhi

Jhajjar cries for attention

You have started The Tribune’s news window to the National Capital Region. This is a commendable effort of The Tribune to its readers residing in the National Capital Region. District Jhajjar of Haryana is also in NCR, but you have disappointed Jhajjar people by not including the place’s name in the cities shown on the front page of the ‘NCR Tribune’.

Jhajjar is not a long word and can easily be adjusted on the front page.

Dr Sarb P. Singh Bhatia, Civil Hospital, Jhajjar

Verify the question

I would like to bring to the notice of the Controller of Examinations, CBSE Board the question paper of mathematics, which was not only lengthy, but also carried a wrong question. The question number 28 should have been as follows: [1+(a)2] [1+(b)2] = (1-a-b)2 + / a+b + (axb)2. The students would lose 4 marks if the CBSE Board does not take any action. I feel it is a fit case to be sent to the complaint committee for awarding grace marks.

Parents of a child, Rohtak

Moral education

I have gone through the ‘NCR Tribune’, dated March 5, 2002 in which Ms Smriti Kak did an interview with Dr J.S. Rajput, Director, National Council of Education, Research and Training (NCERT), New Delhi.

Before I come to the important question raised by Ms Kak and answered by Dr Rajput, I would like to mention the rules/guidelines of the National Policy of Education (NPE), 1986 in regard to moral values as under: “The growing concern over the erosion of essential values and an increasing cynicism in society have brought to focus the need for re-adjustments in the curriculum in order to make education a forceful tool for the cultivation of social and moral values.”

In our culturally plural society, moral values or moral education do not mean Hinduism or Hindutva in Hindustan (i.e., India). Moral education differs from one Indian society to another. For example: The Sikh society regards Guru Nanak Dev’s Granth as containing moral values, whereas Christians feel the same way for the Bible and Muslims for the Koran.

Again dharma, a part of moral values is generally believed to be a mere religion. But it is not. Dharma is different to different individuals. Each individual has his dharma. For example, the dharma of the Government is to fulfill the basic necessities of the masses. The dharma of a teacher is to teach students. The dharma of a student is to learn what the teacher has taught. The dharma of an educational administrator is to provide full facilities to the teachers and students in time for imparting moral values, etc.

There seems no harm, in directing the primary, middle or secondary schools to impart moral values or moral education and direct colleges and universities to impart this education too. But the harm seems when the NCERT goes beyond its jurisdiction and provides the chapterisation (i.e. saffronisation) of the syllabi of ‘Moral Education or Moral Values’ subject.

Similarly, there is harm when the University Grants Commission (UGC) directs the universities and colleges to introduce ‘astrology, karamkand vidya, Ayodhya vidya’, etc. as one of the subjects in graduation and post-graduation.

The UGC certainly can recommend the universities to have an optional or compulsory subject, i.e. Moral Values but cannot prescribe the chapterisation.

Now, I would like to come to a question put up by Ms Kak to Dr Rajput: It is alleged that you have been following the so-called government’s saffron agenda? Dr Rajput replied: “I have been following the guidelines laid down by the National Policy of Education, 1986 and 1992. The policy has been decided by the government, which I have to follow. I cannot violate the government policies. If there is criticism from one section, there is also approval from the other.”

Policy is not bad but the implementation is bad. For example, the policy says 2+2=4. The implementers say 1+3=4. Again supposing, a child is directed to reach the NCERT office in New Delhi via Sonepat from here, he reaches in the office via Kharkhoda or Bahadurgarh rather than via Sonepat though taking equal time as directed. However, the child is rebuked for not adhering to the guidelines in toto. There lies the violation. Dr Rajput or his ilk says that the child has reached safely either via Sonepat or via Kharkhoda. But in my opinion, it is a violation of the guidelines. The line of action must be done in accordance with the demarcation lines.

Om Parkash Wadhwa, Lecturer, Govt. College, Gohana, Sonepat

Hike in postal rates

We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the recent hike in the postal tariffs on books and magazines by 200-1600 per cent has sent shockwaves among the book readers, the authors and the publishers.

Our endeavours to convince the Government to bring the postal tariffs on the books back to the previous year’s slab of Rs 5 kg have not borne fruit. Rather they have been increased to Rs 80 kg plus the registered charges.

All this, despite the Government announcing the year 2002 as the Year of the Book. In a country like India where postal services are an important means of providing books to the public, this move would discourage the reading habits and dissuade the publishers from engaging in any social cause related to education.

How can the Government think of achieving 100 per cent literacy level. How will they promote basic education? How will we become a reading nation? Only the Government has the answer. The reduced postal prices should not be considered by the Government as a subsidy. It is a basic expenditure to educate our society.

Narender Kumar, Chairman, Postal and Railway Committee.

LPG price

It was shocking that the LPG rate has been increased by Rs 40 per cylinder. It is too harsh for the large families.

This would also increase the rate of certain items of daily use. The finance minister should increase the rate in phases and not in one heavy dose. Similarly, the cut in interest rate is not justified. It must be reviewed.

Subhash C. Taneja, MDU, Rohtak



Model ESI hospital in each state: Sharad 
Our Correspondent

Rewari, March 15
The Union Labour Ministry has decided to set up a 100-bed model ESI hospital in each and every state of the country. The hospital, which would be equipped with all modern facilities on the pattern of the AIIMS will fulfil a long-standing requirement of the state employees and workers. This was stated by the Union Labour Minister, Mr Sharad Yadav, at a press conference at Dharuhera today. Mr Yadav, who was on his way to Alwar (Rajasthan) to attend the marriage of the daughter of Dr Jaswant Singh Yadav, MP, had made a brief stopover at Dharuhera.

Seminar held

“Dichotomy between Bharat and India has been increasing day by day in the context of Indian economy. As far as agricultural development is concerned, it has been punctuated by regional variations.” This was stated by noted economist and Chairman, Agricultural Costs and Price Commission, Prof G. K. Chadha, in his inaugural address in the ICSSR-sponsored national seminar on ‘Rural development and social transformations in North West India’ organised by the Rural Development Department of Maharshi Dayanand University here today.

Dowry death case

The police have arrested a youth, Rajinder, in connection with the alleged dowry death of his wife Sunita on March 7 at Khewra village in this district. According to the police, three other culprits involved in the case are still absconding and the police have launched a hunt to apprehend them. Sunita, along with her son Manish (3) and eight-month-old daughter Anjali, it may be recalled, had poured kerosene and set them all on fire at her house. 



Dadu cult to hold Chadder Dastor meet
Our Correspondent

Rewari, March 15
The Chadder Dastor (mantle regulatory) ceremony of Swami Gopal Das, the presiding saint of the Dadu Dham Naraina, the virtual headquarters of the Dadu cult in the country, will be held at the Dadu Dham Naraina in Rajasthan on March 22. With it, the 10-day celebrations pertaining to the 458th incarnation anniversary of the great Saint Dadu Dayalji Maharaj will also conclude.

The presidential mantle had earlier been bestowed upon Swami Gopal Das on July 17, 2001, the day on which his predecessor, Swami Hari Ram, breathed his last. This great honour and responsibility was bestowed upon him as he was the first disciple of Swami Hari Ram, who, as the presiding saint of the Dadu Dham Naraina, gave his selfless and valuable services from 1966 to 2001.

The conferment of the presidential mantle on Swami Gopal Das will now be ceremoniously held on March 22 with the blessings of numerous prominent saints and sadhus of the Dadu cult, the Ram Snehi cult, the Nimbark cult etc.

Later, a shobha yatra will also be taken out through the town of Naraina, according to Mr Ashok Bawaniwal, president of the All India Dadu Sewak Committee.



Fire at Shastri Bhawan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
A minor fire which broke out on the sixth floor of Shastri Bhawan this evening damaging some papers and computers of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. The fire, which broke out at 7. 30 pm was controlled within 20 minutes. Six fire tenders were rushed to douse the fire in the building which houses offices of important ministries like Law, Information and Broadcasting and Press Information Bureau. The extent of damage is yet to be ascertained. A short circuit is suspected to be the cause of the fire, a spokesman of the Delhi Fire service said.



Truck robbers at it in Mewat
Bijendra Ahlawat

Faridabad, March 15
Criminal activities, including looting of trucks carrying goods, seem to have become an organised activity in some parts of the Mewat region, which is otherwise known for its backwardness. Some villages falling in the Hathin sub-division and nearby areas have become infamous in this regard.

It is reported that trucks are looted on the National Highway not only in the region but also in other states like Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat and the looted items are dumped here for sale in the number two market. The drivers and cleaners working in transport companies have also been accused of stealing consumer items, including cloth and electronic items, and selling them illegally.

While police raids in the region to recover stolen items are common, the activity has not stopped completely. There have been several incidents in which the police were attacked by the groups involved in such activities. A police party from Gurgaon was attacked by a mob in a village about a couple of months ago when it went there to trace some persons who had looted a truck laden with tyres worth several lakhs of rupees.

A team of Maharashtra police had conducted a raid at Alineo village recently to recover electronic goods worth Rs 26 lakh looted from a truck. Similarly, the police from Chhattisgarh had also come here in connection with theft of electronic items worth Rs 25 lakh about a month ago. The police had arrested some persons of Alineo village last year on similar charges.

According to police sources, the unemployed youth of the region get lured into such crimes. As a precaution, they commit these crimes in neighbouring states and come here to hide.

The police had recovered tyres worth several lakhs of rupees from a village here last year. Some of the thefts had been conducted in Delhi also. It is learnt that a network of drivers and cleaners is active. They commit thefts on the trucks driven by them or on those of other transport companies. They usually steal cloth pieces and other items sent to other places or brought here and these products are sold to local residents at throwaway rates.



Doctor of GTB Hospital commits suicide 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 15
Dr Ashish Gupta (30), posted in the pediatrics department of Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, reportedly committed suicide on the hospital premises on Thursday night. He was found dead in his car parked in the hospital complex. The doctor had injected some poisonous medicine. The syringe and bottle were found in the car. No suicide note was found. He was a resident of Ashok Vihar. The Dilshad Garden police are conducting inquest proceedings, the police said.

Spurious bottle: A joint team of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and the Delhi Police today claimed to have unearthed a racket in the sale of ISI-marked spurious drinking water with the seizure of a large number of bottles and cans from K-90A, Ground Floor in Lajpat Nagar-II. A case of cheating against private the firm, ‘OASIS’ and ‘VITAL’, has been registered on the charges of violating of PFA Rules and BIS Act 1986.

The BIS had information that ISI-marked spurious packed water was being sold in Lajpat Nagar. The joint team of BIS and police raided the premises. A large quantity of spurious water, marked ‘OASIS Brand Packaged Drinking Water’, empty cans of 20 litres, caps of cans and bottles, labels of VITAL and ICE without ISI mark were seized, a release of the BIS said.


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