Saturday, March 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Cong not hounded by ’84 riots this time 
Tribune News Service

Motorcade of the Congress candidate in Ambedkar Nagar on the penultmate day of campaigning for the MCD elections on Sunday.
Show of strength: Motorcade of the Congress candidate in Ambedkar Nagar on the penult mate day of campaigning for the MCD elections on Sunday. - Tribune Photo Mukesh Aggarwal

New Delhi, March 22
The Congress no longer seems to be an “untouchable” party for the Sikhs and the emotive issue of 1984 anti-Sikh riots has evoked little response during the civic poll campaign, even in the wards dominated by the community. In fact, several Sikh organisations have come out openly in support of the party.

This, despite the fact that several senior Congress leaders were alleged to have been behind the 1984 riots and criminal proceedings were initiated against them. While the judiciary acquitted some, cases against others are still pending. The BJP-led Central government had constituted the Nanavati commission of inquiry, which is probing the riots afresh.

Sources in the Shiromani Akali Dal factions admitted that the issue of 1984 riots no longer rouses passions.

Even in the Sikh dominated wards, the candidates are no longer raking up the emotive issue. The issue of basic civic amenities is dominating the campaign with candidates promising to upgrade the facilities in the wards. The BJP reign in Delhi and at the Centre and the three-year rule of the Congress in the state gave an opportunity to the members of the community to evaluate the promises made by the two parties, senior leaders of the Akali factions said.

The SAD (Badal) is contesting the poll in alliance with the BJP in five seats. The pro-Tohra group, SAD Delhi, had stated that it was open to the idea of coming to an understanding with the Congress. However, the significant shift is visible in the form of Singh Sabha gurdwara leaders appealing to the electorate to support the Congress. Such an appeal was almost unthinkable a few years back, community leaders claimed. “The BJP is a party of sycophants and is only interested in saffron politics,” a resolution passed by more than half a dozen Singh Sabha Gurdwara leaders said.

They condemned the BJP for cashing in on the Sikh sentiment, making loud public statements and failing to give proper representation to the Sikhs in government bodies during their tenure.

The signatories include Swaran Singh Bhandari of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Greater Kailash-I, Prehlad Singh Chandhok of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Model Town, H S Hanspal of Namdhari Darbar, Rashpinder Singh of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Sri Niwaspuri, Giani Man Singh of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Amar Colony and Roop Singh of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Bodh Vihar.

The leaders claimed that the Congress has fielded more Sikh candidates than the BJP for the polls. Moreover, it is pointed out, the Congress had waived the loans of the `84 riot victims, granted minority status to schools run by the DSGMC, exempted women pillion riders from wearing the helmet and given the Sikhs representation in corporations and boards of Delhi. The Sehajdari Shiromani Akali Dal also asked the people to back the Congress as the SAD had passed resolutions to defranchise the Sehajdari Sikhs in the SGPC elections. Dr Paramjeet Singh Ranu, the president of the Dal, said the state chief minister, by coming out in the favour of Sehajdari Sikhs, has motivated the members of the community to support the secular stance of the Congress and the party in the MCD polls. On the other hand, the Punjabi Ekta Manch has appealed to the electorate to vote for the members of the community as both the BJP and the Congress have failed to give them adequate representation.



Khurana, Sheila see eye to eye
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
Reiterating his demand for according complete statehood to the National Capital Territory of Delhi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former Delhi Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana on Friday said he would launch a campaign towards that end if the party was voted back to power in the civic elections scheduled for Sunday.

Addressing a news conference, where he introduced the BJP candidates contesting the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) elections from the Sadar Parliamentary constituency represented by him, Mr Khurana said Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit was not entirely opposed to the idea though she had reservations on making law and order a state subject. “She agrees with me when I say land should be brought under the control of the Government of NCT of Delhi,” he told media persons.

Referring to the security concerns in granting full statehood, given that Delhi is the seat of power and houses embassies, etc, Mr Khurana said the problem could be overcome by making the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) area into a Union Territory and according complete statehood to the rest of the NCT. The Lok Sabha MP from Delhi Sadar suggested that the area housing Parliament, Central government offices, embassies and Connaught Place should be excluded from the state and formed into a Union Territory to be managed by the Central Government. He said complete statehood to Delhi was important for the overall development of the National Capital Region (NCR) as it would bring in land and police under its control. In the absence of an authority on the land in Delhi, many developmental works could not be taken up, he added. “I had successfully led a movement for institution of an Assembly in Delhi and now I will launch a movement after the MCD elections to make Delhi a full-fledged state,” he announced. Asked what would be the state of affairs of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Delhi Police under the Government of NCT of Delhi when its schools do not have basic facilities like science labs, the senior BJP leader merely said, “Bringing these departments under the Government of NCT of Delhi will only help improve the situation in Delhi.” He identified unauthorised colonies as the main problem.



Campaigning ends today

New Delhi, March 22
Campaigning will officially come to a close at 10 pm on Saturday. According to Delhi State Election Commissioner MP Tyagi, arrangements are complete for Sunday’s poll. Ballot papers have been printed and distributed to the 35 returning officers on election duty. Besides returning officers, 35 general observers and expenditure observers each have been detailed for the election duties. Polling parties, numbering a thousand, he said, had been designated for the 9,500 polling centres. Almost one thousand sector officers would be assisting the returning officers. An estimated 70,000 officials would be mobilised on the polling day.

On the security arrangements, Tyagi said 40 companies of security personnel had been okayed. TNS



People open a new chapter in Jhajjar
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, March 22
Call it decentralisation or local governance, a new experiment of involving people and industry associations in improving the sanitation and other civic amenities is being tried out in Jhajjar town. And it has started showing results. The idea was mooted by Deputy Commissioner Ashok Khemka. On his initiative, the Bahadurgarh Chamber of Commerce and Industry has now come to the help of the fund-starved Jhajjar Municipal Committee in maintaining streetlights properly. The chamber will gift bulbs, tubes, sodium lamps, mercury lamps and various electrical accessories to the municipal committee for the next one year to ensure proper functioning of streetlights. In turn, the municipal committee has decided to allow the industrial units of Bahadurgah to use streetlight poles for advertisement of their products. Mr Khemka said that the chamber had already donated electrical accessories and bulbs and tubes worth over Rs 1 lakh to the civic body. This gesture had generated a lot of goodwill in the town towards the industries’ association, he claimed.

Mr Khemka said he had been perturbed over the poor sanitary conditions in the district town since he took over as Deputy Commissioner in January. Though the municipal committee had around 40 regular and 15 daily wage sweepers on its rolls, most of the drains, lanes and streets in the town were stinking. He feared that if the situation did not improve, epidemics might break out in the town during the summer and monsoon seasons. Mr Khemka found that the solution to the problem lay in the people’s empowerment in the cleaning of streets, lanes and open drains. He advised the municipal committee to constitute ward committees, with the elected member of the ward as convener, for getting the streets and drains cleaned. The municipal committee has now come out with the innovative scheme of allocating up to Rs 8,000 to each ward committee for engaging sweepers at their own level for getting the ward cleaned. This scheme is now being tried only in six of the 15 wards of the town. The sweepers, who were earlier earmarked for these six wards, have been posted in the remaining nine wards. This scheme has been made operational only from March 18. Mr Khemka said that during a survey, it has been found that these six ward committees have engaged five to six young sweepers for four to five hours a day.



Student smart cards: Open sesame to consumerism
Smriti Kak

New Delhi, March 22
Eleven-year-old Arjun came home from school armed with a smart card, chanting the mantra of laissez-faire. In a letter addressed to the parents, the magical mantra of ‘open sesame’ was subtly packaged in concerns about the child’s well-being, anchored in the parents’ fears about expensive higher education, and made to rest on the edifice of freedom of choice.

Arjun is not the only one; many of his ilk in the Delhi Public School, R K Puram, have been offered a ticket to economic independence. Thanks to the Citibank, the students, rather the parents, have been offered an ATM/ debit card as a part of the ‘Citibank Junior Package’. The parents, of course, have been graciously permitted to pre-set a monthly limit on the card for an amount that the child would be allowed to spend. In the quarterly statement, the parents and the child would get to see the details of his spending.

The “in-built financial process” is expected to give the parents the leeway to grapple with the major issues in life and let the Citibank look into the nitty-gritty of school fees and the mundane demands of pocket money.

According to DPS Principal Dr Chona, the debit card will throw up solutions to questions that have been nagging parents. Questions like how expensive education is going to be in the future, or whether the child is getting enough exposure to technology in the field of education. The systematic financial planning, or what is touted as ``investments in appropriate instruments’,’ is also expected to meet multiple future needs of the child, including marriage, and any other dream that you might have. And all these, thanks to a magic wand called the debit card.

The Citibank Junior package has many frills. It entitles them to a health insurance cover of up to Rs 1 lakh. In addition, the child gets an insurance cover for his education expenses of up to Rs 1 lakh a year for five years, in the case of unforeseen circumstances. But parents fear the smart card may not take care of their worries about the child’s education; instead, they may lose their child in the maze of consumerism.

Citibank differs, it believes that the scheme can indeed help parents keep tabs on what their kids spend and how much money they can spend. But some parents suspect that beneath the veneer, the bank is only hankering after their accounts. “How can you expect an 11-year-old to take care of money. In the first place where is the need to give them these cards? Eleven-year-olds do not go out on their own. If the cards were meant to be utilised in the school canteen and the school book store, it can be seen as a good idea, but why allow its use in places like movie halls and eating joints? The bank will collect its money from the parents in spite of where and what it has been spent on. For all you know, it may lead to more problems than solutions,” said Mrs Shinjini, a parent.

“By providing children with an excellent opportunity to handle their own expenses, the Citibank Junior Package inculcates in them a sense of responsibility and financial discipline. The monthly limit set by the parents ensures that they control access to the funds and at the same time allows the child to have a sense of financial freedom,” opines Mr Nanoo Pamnani, CEO India, Citibank.

The tussle over the control of financial reins has been a long-drawn battle between parents and their kids, but with the marketing honchos adding a twist to the tale of consumerism, it may mean sleepless nights for the parents.



15 schoolkids hurt as bus overturns
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 22
At least 16 persons, including 15 schoolchildren, were injured, seven of them seriously, when a bus carrying them overturned between Pai village and Kirohli-Pehladpur, about 15 km from here, on Thursday evening.

According to a report, the bus was on its way from Rohna village to Kirohli-Pehladpur village in the district. At least 40 schoolchildren were travelling in the bus that belonged to Little Angels Public School at Khurampur village. They had gone to Rohna village for appearing in the examination at a centre set up there by the Board of School Education Haryana. The accident occurred when they were returning after the examination.

It is stated that when the bus neared Pai, the driver tried to give way to two scooterists coming from the opposite direction but lost control and the bus entered a kutcha road. After some distance, one of the wheels got trapped in a hole resulting and the bus overturned. Six of the injured students were admitted to a private hospital and one Parmod was sent to the PGI, Rohtak. The police have registered a case and further investigations are in progress.

According to another report, the roof of the Community Health Centre suddenly collapsed at Gohana town, 35 km from here, on Thursday.

However, Dr Ishwar Singh Punia and others escaped unhurt. It is stated that the building of this health centre had been in a bad condition since long but the PWD(B&R) authorities had failed to repair it in spite of repeated complaints made to them in this regard.



Dyeing units, a dying business
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panipat, March 22
The district administration and the dyeing unit owners are on a collision course over the shifting of more than 500 units from the residential areas to the Industrial Area in Sector 29 here. A long battle is in the offing with the dye unit owners planning to shut down their operations in protest against the decision of the administration which they termed as “authoritarian and hasty”. The decision to shift the units to the Industrial Area would deal a death blow to the dyeing industry as the high cost of the plots and general recession in the market would push the majority of the units out of the market, alleged Mr Yash Pal Malik, president of the Panipat Dyers Association.

Terming the Rs 1,428 per square yard price of the industrial plot as “beyond the reach” of the majority of dyers, Mr Malik claimed that an initial investment of minimum of Rs 50 was required to set the unit at a new place. Most of the dyers had reached the present status the hard way and they could not be asked overnight to wind up and start their operation at a new place. Anyway, it pushed to wall the unit owners who would shut down the operation, Mr Deepak Jain, general secretary, said adding that the administration could only force the unit owners to stop work and not shift to the Industrial Area.

It may be recalled that the DC, Mr M.R. Anand, had gone on record, saying that with a view to checking the problem of pollution, the dyeing units would be shifted to the Industrial Area. In fact, the acquisition of land in the Industrial Area was reportedly in the final stages. It had been alleged that the dyeing units in the residential areas had been a sources of nuisance and contributed to the problem of pollution in the industrial hub of Haryana.

On the other, the association was aware of the pollution by the units and over 50 per cent of the units had installed effluent treatment plants (ETPs) at a considerable cost, Mr Mailk said. He came out with another suggestion: If the authorities concerned were serious about controlling pollution, they should collect the contaminated water from the units through tankers on the pattern of Japan and several European countries.



Crime Branch takes over Natasha case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
The investigations into the mysterious death of Natasha Singh, the 31-year- old estranged daughter-in-law of Congress leader, K. Natwar Singh, were today handed over to the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police. To date, the death of the former model turned photographer was being investigated by the South-West District police who were assisted by the Crime Branch. The body of Natasha Singh, a mother of two young children, was found on the first floor terrace garden of the Hyatt Regency hotel in the R. K. Puram area in the early hours of Sunday.

The two post-mortem examinations conducted on the body had indicated that the cause of the death was because of fall from height as she had sustained extensive injuries. The police had registered a case of murder but gradually veered around to the view that she might have committed suicide because she was reported to have been under considerable mental stress because of familial and financial reasons. The police said that they were also looking into the reports that Natasha owned two cell phones and had two SIM cards. Efforts were being made to ascertain which of these was used in sending out SMS messages to her friends late on Saturday night. There was also the issue of her being away in some place for almost 45 minutes after she had returned home from a fashion party and arriving at the hotel around 11 pm.


Villagers frown upon police station
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 22
The decision of the police authorities to relocate the police station of Sector-7 here to a nearby Sehi village has evoked strong opposition from the villagers. The agitated people have decided to take up the issue with the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, during his visit to the district here tomorrow.

The residents of the village near Sector-8 here met during the ‘mahapanchayat’ on Thursday and resolved that the proposal of relocation of police station in a park near the village was unacceptable. The police station had been functioning from the shop-cum-flats (market) of Sector-7 for many years, owned by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda). Since Huda has ordered the shifting of the police station from the market place, the police department chose to construct its own building in the open space, meant for a park near Sihi village.

The villagers claim that the opening of a police post near the village could have an adverse effect on the area. Moreover, it would be an encroachment on the privacy of the villagers. The elected corporator of the area has also supported the stand of the villagers and demanded shifting of police station near the ESI hospital in Sector-8 here. They warned of an agitation if their demand was not met.


2,375 crime cases against Delhi women 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
Four cases of sexual harassment of girl students and female teachers in various schools of Delhi have been reported in the last one year. In a written reply, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Rita Verma told the Rajya Sabha that departmental complaint committees had been constituted at various levels to conduct inquiries in such cases promptly in respect of staff posted in schools under them. The Government of NCT of Delhi, she said, had taken several steps in this direction and such cases of sexual harassment were being monitored by officers of the Directorate of Education.

To another question, the minister said the incidence of crimes against women in 2001 had shown a drop in comparison to the previous two years. As per the nationwide data compiled by the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) under the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, 1,25,152 cases were registered in the year 2001. The corresponding figures for the year 2000 were 1,37,472 and the year 1999 were 1,35,771. In Delhi, 2,375 cases were recorded in 2001 as against 2,470 in 2000 and 2,428 in 1999.

To the question whether the government had issued any guidelines regarding transportation fees being charged by public schools of Delhi and whether the government was aware that certain schools were charging as high as Rs 600 per month, the minister said through the guidelines issued on December 15, 1999, the transportation charges required to be collected from the students were on no profit no loss basis and the amount so collected shall form an integral part of the school accounts.

The Government of NCT of Delhi, she said, had also informed that since the schools were not to observe five-day week, therefore, no instructions were required to be issued.

Replying to the question concerning elementary education, the minister informed the House that in Delhi, an estimated 2.59 lakh children, between the ages of six and 14, were enrolled in 3,277 schools. The figures, she said, were based on population projection made by the Registrar General of India on the 1991 census population and the number of schools were based on selected educational statistics 1999-2000, brought out by the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development. The actual number of schools, she added, would depend on detailed district elementary education plans. 


BJP goes all-out against ally INLD 

Jhajjar, March 22
In a complete somersault from its strategic relations with the ruling INLD, the district unit of the BJP staged a demonstration highlighting the alleged anti-people policies being pursued by the state government here today. The BJP, which has so far refrained from taking recourse to such moves that would embarrass the state government, tried to give a clear massage that it is out in the open against the ruling party after the severing of alliance between the two parties although a final word is yet to come from its central leadership.

The party workers led by its district president, Mr Rajpal Suhag, took out a procession, although a low-key affair, which passed through all the major markets and culminated outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

The demonstrators raised anti-Chautala and anti-government slogans throughout the march holding the Chautala government responsible for creating communal tensions in Loharu town for “petty political advantages”.

A memorandum was also presented to the Deputy Commissioner which raised a number of issues, including the shortage of canal water for irrigation, controversial electricity meter replacement drive, restoration of Haryana Roadways services on the local routes and alleged political victimisation of BJP leaders and workers in Loharu town. According to the memorandum, there was an acute scarcity of water for irrigation as water arrived in the canals only for seven days after 40 days while earlier the rotation period was after 22 days. Water scarcity was acute in tail-end villages. It also demanded the restoration of the Haryana Roadways services on the local and village routes in the district as people of many villages including Palra, Chhochhi, Dhimana, Bhambhewa, Paharipur, Malikpur, Birdhana, Siwana, Suhra, Kiloi, Baghpur etc don’t have any mode of transport other than going by foot.

The party also protested against the replacement of electricity meters without a clear policy as the power officials were harassing the public by adopting an arbitrary attitude in the drive. It demanded that the expenses for the replacement of meters should be borne by the government at present, which could be adjusted against electricity bills later.

Political observers here, however, feel that this step of the BJP is significant as the party is striving to come out of the shadow as a minor partner in the alliance.

They also maintain that although the exit of former district president has had little influence on the party, the new leadership has not been able to reach out to the people if today’s demonstration is any indication as there were only over 100 workers present during the rally.



Shahi Imam, supporters detained during march
 Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
Shahi Imam of historic Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari was on Friday detained for a short period along with his 25 supporters by the Central district police near Delhi Gate. Imam Bukhari was leading a procession to Parliament to protest against the policies of the Union Government concerning the Muslims community in the country. He took out the procession after Friday prayer at Jama Masjid.

In a statement issued to the press he said, “I had sent a letter to the Prime Minister and requested a meeting to discuss the present situation in Gujarat. But unfortunately, he is more worried about POTO than the Muslims of Gujarat.” He said, “therefore, I decided to launch a peaceful symbolic march to the Parliament with 25 supporters to protest against the policies of the government,” the statement said.

Bukhari and his supporters were later released. Earlier, while addressing the Friday congregation, he criticised the RSS and other Sangh Parivar organisations “for creating a communal frenzy in the country”.

He said “Muslims are blamed for every act of terrorism and violence in the country without any proof. This is just to create an environment of hatred against them,” he alleged.



Privatisation of water supply may make a 
big hole in pocket
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
As Delhiites prepare to face a scorching summer, policy makers and experts are divided on the debate whether privatising the water supply system will serve as a panacea to the problems of potable water in the Capital and the neighbouring areas.

Experts point out that privatising the water supply system would involve a pricing system, which may be prohibitively high for the common citizen.

“It is obvious that the large percentage of Indian citizens living in slums will be unable to access water in anyway. Again, though not specified, the nutrient-rich wastewater, which will probably be sold for agricultural purposes, will be heavily contaminated not just with disease-carrying germs, but extremely toxic industrial pollutants,” leading ecologist and Director of Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, Dr Vandana Shiva said.

According to independent estimates, the Capital is currently facing a shortfall of about 175 MGD of potable water. While Delhi requires more than 800 MGD of water in the city, the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has only 585 MGD potable water supply to offer the residents.

Augmentation of supply in the recent past has not been significant with the DJB stating that its basic problem has been that it has not received extra raw water from its main supplier state, Haryana.

Dr Shiva said that groundwater is being non-sustainably exploited, particularly in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh among other states, and hydrological experts say there are no more freshwater sources to be found in the country.

The Union Minister of Health, Dr C. P. Thakur, said that proper pricing of water is necessary to capture the real value so that people are sensitised for its conservation and this would also strengthen Jal Boards to supply reliable and quality water supply. Dr Thakur was speaking at a conference organised by the School of Environment Management, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, on the occasion of World Water Day.

Dr Shiva pointed out that Article 21 of the Indian Constitution guarantees the ‘right to life’ to the citizens. “Water is vital to life and thus access to safe water is a fundamental right,” she said.

She observed that privatisation of water through “Pani Panchayats” of Orissa has resulted in the price of water through lift irrigation increasing ten times. “By usurping the word panchayat for creating user groups or stakeholders who pay for water, the World Bank is undermining the concept of community control over this natural resource. The World Bank’s Pani Panchayats or water committees do not represent the entire community, but are formed with those who have financial, social and political clout, and who support the local administration,” Dr Shiva said.

Researchers pointed out that the emerging market in water in India is estimated to be over $ 2,000 million, of which one-third will be water provisioning, one-third municipal water treatment, and one-third industrial water treatment.

As the supply of water continues to remain much below the demand of the Capital, and several parts of Delhi face serious problems during summers, authorities often apportion the blame to erratic power supply and other associated problems.



Residents thirst for water as summer sets in
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, March 22
With the onset of summer, thousands of residents in the city are facing what they had feared on the water front. Water had been hard to flow by the taps even in winter. Now, the problem has started stinging residents more than ever with the mercury rising day by day. And they blame the Public Health Department authorities for the erratic supply. According to a report, non-supply of water in the evening has become a routine and this has resulted in the acute shortage of drinking water in the city, especially in the old parts of the city. The residents who used to get the supply of water twice in a day – in the morning and evening – are now getting the supply only once in the morning. However, no reason has been given by the Public Health Department authorities for cancelling the water supply in the evening.

Officials of the Public Health Department, from junior engineers to the Superintending Engineer, meanwhile, feign ignorance about the erratic supply of water whenever residents approach them in this regard. Their stock reply is that they will look into it and take steps to ensure regular supply. However, once the complainant goes home, the supply or non-supply remains the same. It is alleged that the drivers posted at the tubewells of the waterworks and boosting stations as well as the keymen are holding the residents to ransom and do not bother about the public complaints. Similarly, the officials always remain silent spectators on the issue and they do not take any action against the erring employees at the lower levels, residents allege.

Representatives of various political parties, social and voluntary organisations and trade unions held a joint meeting here on Thursday evening and decided to approach the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, who is visiting the city on March 31, and apprise him about the inefficient and unsatisfactory working of the Public Health Department and the failure of the authorities concerned to ensure regular supply of drinking water. The meeting also urged the district authorities to take a serious note of the public complaints and take stern action against the officials found responsible for the water crisis in the city.



The rationale for a ration card, no longer valid

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.

Ration cards, a legacy of the Raj days, are still accorded a place of pride. It started in the World War era when the rationed items were supplied to the people at subsidised rates.

The ration card continued to enjoy supremacy in the post-Independence era and even acquired a ‘mandatory and legal’ status.

Not only that, the ration card has become the proof of one’s residence in case anyone wants to open a savings account.

Although it is said that documents like voter I-card, driving licence, passport or any other government documents like the post office I-cards will serve the purpose, yet the ration card rules supreme.

The ration card is not used much these days as the PDS is limited to only those living below the poverty line, can the Government explain why ration card is demanded at every step?

The Government has already done away with all sorts of subsidies and even prestigious Super Bazars are being wound up, why cannot they redefine the role of the ration card?

The Government will also do well to wind up the so-called Civil Supplies department forthwith and issue a notification to that effect to save the public from an undue harassment at these offices and even save the exchequer in a big way.

Shouldn’t the ration card be given a farewell along with the subsidies and curb the unwanted abuse of it? Why cling on to the scourge of the Raj days when India is a 50-year-old ‘swadeshi’ and has acquired self-sufficiency in all fields?

The ration cards may be used for the purpose of drawing the rationed items wherever applicable.

A vast chunk of population who are not eligible for drawing ration at subsidised tariff need not be forced to keep the card just to produce it as a proof of residence.

Banks and post offices have no business to seek confirmation as to the residence of a citizen who does not have a ration card for the simple reason that he does not need one. Ration cards are meant for only those living below the poverty line.

What is happening is that the people are facing lots of hardships for not being able to produce the ration card and the authorities from the banks to all other departments keep insisting on the much-touted document. One has to waste a lot of time and money to procure the card by hook or by crook.

The documents such as voter I-cards, post office I-cards, passport, driving licence or any other legal proof such as the service record or the medical card should be suffice to show the proof of one’s residence.

R.L. Pathak, Lodi Colony, New Delhi.

Rlys passengers in hot water

I was travelling in the 2014 Amritsar-New Delhi Shatabdi Express on 12.3.2002 from Jalandhar Railway Station. My ticket PNR No. 2441444374; coach No. C 2 and seat No. 16.

A surprise was in store for me during the journey. Early in the morning, a catering service boy supplied me with Minscot brand mineral water. The bottle was resealed after opening it.

As a ticket checker was beside me, I showed him the bottle, he was also surprised and called the catering manager. I lodged a complaint in the complaint book and they assured me that action would be taken against the food supplier and the water manufacturer within a week and “you will be informed accordingly”.

But till date, there is no news from any part of the railway authorities.

Some people are playing with the life of passengers and making money. Someone has to take an initiative and check this menace before it leads to a major tragedy.

The Railway authorities, should take a note of this complaint and act, especially when they charge extra money for safety.

A. Ghosh,

Rani Bagh, New Delhi.

God almighty

The concept of God to me is to instil in the minds of people that there is someone who is above all mortal powers. Someone who is omnipotent, omniscient, but has no physical existence and thus whose authority cannot be questioned.

Where does religion fit in? To my mind, it is a set of rules framed to live a healthy, unobtrusive life - a constitutional framework of the Kingdom of God. Why should there be different religions?

They are like different parties in the political scenario fighting for a common cause - the administration.

Human mind is a very complex object. No two human beings think alike. There is bound to be difference in the opinions of two identities engaged in any pursuit and when the two are equally dominant, the split occurs.

So there are several dominions even in the kingdom of our God. The differences of opinion become so severe that the very purpose starts getting defeated. The way of life rather becomes obtrusive.

It is like people engaged in some sort of a brawl in an inebriated condition.

To a person who is not drunk, (a situation akin to religious indoctrination) all of them seem to be at fault. But, those engaged in the act are convinced about pursuing it because of their state of mind.

To a person who is not in this state of mind, any place of worship has the same symbolic importance and the presence of one does not preclude the absence of the other.

Wrongs have been done against all kinds of religious communities of the world at some point or the other and the same is going on. Otherwise why should there has been the exodus of the Jews? Why should the Bosnia and Godhra happen? Why did the persecution of Sikhs happen?

Why blame the petty UP Assembly, when the similar theatrics are taking place on the bigger stage in the Kingdom of God?

Inderjit Sehrawat, Indian Railway Signal Services, Faridabad.

Teaching a lesson

It is a matter of pity that the Principal and two teachers of Himalayan Public Senior Secondary School Rohini were found guilty in leaking out the Mathematics question paper for Class “X” CBSE examination to help their school students.

A teacher is meant to teach in the classroom rather than helping students in cheating/copying.

Subhash C. Taneja, Rohtak.

DTC service

The Dainik Yatri Sangh wants to draw the attention of the Delhi Transport Corporation authorities to the inconvenience of commuters of Shahdara to Nehru Place, Rohini and Naraina. There is no direct bus service from Shahdara to these routes.

As there is no direct bus service, the commuters have to change many buses to reach their destinations, resulting in a lot of monetary losses.

Will the D.T.C. introduce new service routes to help commuters?

M.B. Dubey Bijnori, Shahdara, Delhi

Units’ Relocation

How the plan for relocation of industries from the residential areas comes a ropper may be noticed in Lala Motiram Udyogic Nagar in Tahirpur, East Delhi. The place was built to house 378 factories.

Ten units have already started operation. Those who have occupied the units, their plight is pitiful as their earnings have been affected due to the relocation of their livelihood sources.

These unit owners have shifted from far-off places like Rajouri Garden, Janakpuri, Kalkaji, Maharani Bagh, etc. They are spending their time and money but the output is less. Reason? The DSIDC has not completed its work. The industrial complex lacks basic infrastructure and civic amenities. Unit owners have got factories without windowpanes, floorings, etc.

Even after two years, no improvement has been possible as far as the basic facilities are concerned.

Moreover, the complex is surrounded by slum clusters. The authorities should consider that merely developing concrete structure alone will not be sufficient to relocate industries from residential areas.

The related facilities like proper approach roads, adequate transport system, uninterrupted water and power supply and basic necessary civic amenities must be in place before factories from residential area move in to complexes like Lala Motiram Udyogic Nagar.

Otherwise plans to decongest residential areas and relocation of industrial units will not deliver the desired results.

Shweta Kohli, Shahdara, Delhi.

Not fair, DMRCL

Sometimes back, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., (DMRCL) had advertised in the press for recruitment to certain posts. The advertisement mentioned that “Candidates would be required to apply in printed application (OMR) form of DMRCL”.

The forms were to be obtained “by sending a non-refundable crossed demand draft...” Accordingly, I personally made a pay order for Rs 350, in post Box No. 009, Lodhi Road P.O., New Delhi-110003 along with a written request to send the form. But in reply, I neither received the application form nor any other communication from the DMRCL.

Meanwhile, the last date for submitting the form was also over. I am peeved about such irresponsible attitude.

It has deprived me of an opportunity to make my career. I will not be the solitary case of receiving such uncalled-for treatment at the hands of the DMRCL.

Is there any forum which can redress such a grievance? Is there any authority which may take suitable action against the erring personnel of DMRCL? Would the DMRCL be kind enough to at least return the money I remitted for obtaining the application form?

Menakshi Dhilan, Rohini, Delhi.



Prayas children wow UK police 
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, March 22
The evening was special not just because of the invitees or the event, but because the performers were a bunch of vivacious youngsters who used the event as an opportunity to display the remarkable transformation in their life, from street urchins to children of promise. Hundreds of children, who have been culled from the throes of baneful existence, have been transformed into talented and responsible individuals, thanks to the support and love they have received at the Prayas Institute of Juvenile Justice.

These youngsters from Prayas took the audience, the British Police personnel, by surprise as they danced with ease not just to tunes of Hindi film songs, but matched steps with the popular English numbers as well.

They managed to touch hearts with their sensitive portrayal of the harsh, but real, life of the street kids through the play titled, ‘Sapne Mein Milti Hai’. They showcased the aspirations of the street kids and also displayed their acting and directorial ability by staging the play. The cultural event, titled ‘Prayas Celebrates 2002’, was specially organised in the Capital on Thursday for the visitors from Britain who were here for a two-day Indo-British Conference on Policing. The cultural night commenced with the screening of a film, ‘Little Steps Big Leaps’, that traced the history of Prayas and its efforts to help restore the childhood of those children for whom the streets become the school of life. An NGO, Prayas has done remarkable work in the field of childcare and is actively involved in helping these children find a decent upbringing. Aided by local as well as international police, it aims at developing the concept of community policing.

Chief Constable of the Yorkshire Police, Michael Hedges, presented a cheque of 2,500 pounds to Prayas to help the organisation in its noble endeavour.

Among those present were Joint Commissioner of Police and general-secretary of Prayas, Amod Kanth, Deputy Chief Constable of the Yorkshire Police, Michael Venables, and social activist Nafisa Ali.



Bomb data centre being upgraded 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
The National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) at the National Security Guard (NSG) Headquarters at Manesar will soon be upgraded to function as a full-fledged organisation to help various police organisations. This was announced by the Director General of the NSG, Mr R. S. Mooshahary, while inaugurating the second national seminar of the NBDC at Manesar.

Mr Mooshahary said that terrorism had no national boundaries. This is evident from the fact that a plethora of terrorist outfits the world over are sharing and exchanging information, intelligence and their modus operandi. But within the country, the coordination among various security forces is not of the required level. Keeping this requirement in view, the NBDC was set up in March 2000, he said.

The NBDC is the sixth such Bomb Data Centre in the world and 36 other countries are in the process of establishing such centres.



Solar water pumps offered
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 22
The state government has made available water pumps that will be run with solar energy for the farmers of the region, which do not get adequate power for running tubewells.

According to the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) and chief executive officer of the `Integrated rural power programme’ in the district, Mr Mehtab Singh Sehrawat, the solar energy pump which normally cost about Rs 4.5 lakh would be made available at a subsidised rate of Rs 67,350 to farmers.

He said such a pump could be very useful in the areas facing shortage of canal water and power supply.

The pump with a capacity of two horse power was able to lift water from a depth of 30 feet, he added.

A special camp will be organised on March 28 at his office here in Sector 15-A for providing information and distribution of such pumps to interested farmers.



Six gangsters held for forging arms licence 
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, March 22
The Ghaziabad police have arrested six persons of a gang who bought ammunition from government-approved shops on the basis of a forged arms licence. The police have also seized five single barrel guns, one double barrel gun and a large number of cartridges were seized from them.

The suspects have been identified as Shyam Sunder Sharma of Bulandshahar, Sudhir of Abupur, Eta, Dharampal and Ramavtar Yadav alias Shastri of Aligarh and Kamelesh of Manipur.

The police said Ramavtar and Dharampal were leaders of this gang and they used to make forged arms licence and would buy ammunition from government shops. Three members of the gang were still absconding, the police said.

DA demand

The district unit of Pensioners and Senior Citizens Welfare Forum has appealed to the state government to enhance the dearness allowance (DA) to its employees and pensioners by four per cent, as the same had been released by the Central Government.

MCF to pay HUDA

The Municipal Corporation, Faridabad (MCF) is likely to hand over about Rs 8 crore to the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for the ongoing work on the `Renniwell water scheme’ in the town tomorrow. A cheque for the amount is likely to be given in the presence of the Chief Minister at a function.

The MCF has taken a loan of Rs 16 crore from the NCR Planning Board to pay its share of money for the completion of the water project due to shortage of funds. The HUDA and the MCF had decided to share the cost of the project which is about Rs 42 crore, but the MCF failed to contribute its share due to poor financial condition on time.

Blast at NFL plant

Panic gripped local National Fertilizers Ltd unit here following a minor blast in a tank of the ammonia plant this morning. No fire was reported. Two operators of the plant, Ram Kumar and Yogesh Bansal, sustained serious burns when hot oil from the tank spilled over them.

According to sources, the work at the plant was held up for a short while but resumed later. Both the victims were first taken to a dispensary on the premises of the plant but were referred later to the Burn Unit of Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi. The cause of the blast could not be ascertained immediately.

Students’ dilemma

The fate of about 2,800 students hangs in balance following the “de-recognition” of the signature of the principal of the local S.D. College, Dr H. K. Sehajwani, by the Kurukshetra University. Dr Niranjan Singh, president of the teachers union, said since the university had decided not to entertain any communication under the signature of Dr Sehajwani, the management committee should appoint the senior-most teacher as the college principal. Otherwise, the students, whose exam are to begin from April 1, are likely to face problems in obtaining their roll numbers. Dr Singh also urged the district administration and parents to intervene and sort out the matter soon.

Girl found with throat slit

New Delhi
A 14-year-old physically challenged girl, Baby Kumari, was found dead with her throat slit in the toilet of the Institute for Handicaps on Vishnu Digambar Road near ITO in Central Delhi today. The girl was brought by someone this morning for admission to the institute. Her application for admission was accepted by he official concerned in the institute at 11 A.M. At about 12.40 she was found dead with her throat slit in the bathroom. The man who brought her is absconding. A case of murder has been registered.

Another prisoner dies

One more prisoner, lodged in the district jail, died in mysterious circumstances last week. Ravinder, son of Rajinder, detained in a criminal case in Dasna jail, was rushed to the district hospital where he died. The jail authorities have maintained a studied silence throughout the incident. The doctors at the government hospital said that Ravinder’s health had been deteriorating while he was being brought in. It may be mentioned that he was the seventh prisoner to have died in Dasna jail in the last six months.

NRI woman killed

A woman member of a family, which had come from London and was going to Panoki village in Kapurthala district, died after their vehicle collided with a truck at nearby Babarpur village on the G. T. Road here on Thursday night. Four other members of the family were injured in the accident. According to information, Baljeet Kaur, mother-in-law of an NRI, Mr Dalbir Singh, was killed on the spot when the Tata Sumo in which they were travelling collided with a truck. Mr Dalbir Singh, his wife Ms Ravinder and children Jaiveer and Amrik sustained injuries and were admitted to the Civil Hospital here. TNS



Call girl racket unearthed
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, March 22
The police claimed to have unearthed a ‘call girl’ racket being operated from the NIT area here with the arrest of a couple and three girls on Thursday.

According to the police, a cop was sent as a decoy customer in civil clothes and struck a deal. Soon, a police team waiting nearby the old Press Colony nabbed the couple and three girls involved in the racket.

The main accused and his wife had shifted to this place about a year ago from Delhi and had started the ‘business’. They used to fix the deal on mobile phones and supply girls at the place of the customer charging Rs 500 and above for each case.

The house, where the couple resided, was also used, but sparingly, for the purpose. Two mobile phones and a diary have been seized.

This is the second such racket uncovered in the past one month. A couple and two girls were arrested about three weeks ago from a house in Sector 14 here.



Heroin worth Rs 76 lakh seized
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 22
The Narcotics Cell of the Delhi Police seized heroin worth Rs 76 lakh and arrested two peddlers Asibullah Khan and his associate, Achhan Khan, from near Gagan Cinema in North-East district.

Acting on a tip-off that two persons were coming to deliver narcotics to an unknown customer, the police nabbed the duo from the spot. On interrogation, they revealed that they hailed from Uttar Pradesh and received the drugs from a person, Kallu Khan, from Bareilly. Asibullah Khan revealed that he supplied drugs in East Delhi. Both the accused were booked under the NDPS Act.

Boy crushed: Three cases of fatal accidents were reported in the city in the past 24 hours. The first incident occurred when a three-year-old boy was reportedly crushed to death by a crane at Delhi Metro Railway Corporation site on Thursday night.

The victim, Brij Gopal, was playing at the site when the incident occurred. The boy’s father is a labourer at the site. The crane driver, Khursheed (30), has absconded and the police have registered a case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving and launched efforts to trace him.

In another incident, an auto driver, Ram Kishan (35), was reportedly hit by an unknown vehicle from behind on the Rohtak Road on Thursday night. He was taken to RML Hospital but was declared brought dead. The third incident occurred when a speeding truck, coming from Paharganj area, hit an autorickshaw and a cycle rickshaw in Ajmeri Gate on Thursday night. The rickshaw-puller, Anwar (30), a resident of Shakoor Ki Dandi, Bhuven (29) received fatal injuries. They were taken to JPN Hospital where they succumbed to the injuries. The police have arrested the driver, Rajender (35), and booked a case of causing death due to rash and negligent driving.

Handicapped man cheats MTNL: The Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police on Friday claimed to have busted a gang of cheats by arresting a physically challenged, Satish Kumar. The police have arrested him for allegedly indulging in procuring PCO connections from MTNL under the handicap quota by charging Rs 50,000 per connection on the basis of a forged handicap certificate.

On interrogation, Satish revealed that he used to procure photographs of physically challenged persons, usually from religious places, and prepared documents, including medical certificates from the hospitals. 



Crime under control, claims Rohtak IG 
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, March 22
The Inspector General of Police (Rohtak Range), Mr Resham Singh on Friday claimed that the range police have recovered stolen properties worth Rs 1.30 crore during the current year. The range police has nabbed 29 criminal gangs during this period and arrested 99 criminals involved in murder, dacoity, robbery and theft.

The police have also been successful in tracing at least 115 criminals from these gangs and recovered Rs 74. 21 lakh from them.

Mr Singh said that in addition to the busting of criminal gangs, the range police has apprehended 64 proclaimed offenders and 569 bail jumpers during the year till March 16.

He said that the crime rate in the Rohtak range was under control as compared to the corresponding period last year. During the current year, the range police, comprising the districts of Rohtak, Jhajjar, Sonepat, Panipat and Karnal have registered 1799 cases under various Sections of IPC as compared to 1878 cases in the same period in 2001. Mr Singh claimed the police have been successful in maintaining communal harmony in the aftermath of Godhara riots in Gujarat. 


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