Tuesday, April 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


CNG crisis: Centre robbing Peter to pay Paul
Tribune News Service


* SC has observed in its CNG ruling that the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had made additional supplies of the gas to “big business houses” at the expense of the transport sector. 

* The court order names Reliance Industries, Essar, Gujarat State Fertiliser Corporation, GIPCL (a power generating company in Baroda) and IPCL Dahej as having got additional supplies of gas.

* The Bench has further noted that this gas was supplied to GIPCL without any allocation by the government and as a “matter of favour”.

* Apparently, the balance sheet of a company is more important to the Union Government than public health.

New Delhi, April 8
Replying to the adjournment motion (which eventually failed to pass muster) moved by the BJP to discuss the shortage of CNG buses in the Capital, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Monday cited the Supreme Court’s observations in its April 5 order to call that party’s, and by extension the BJP-led NDA Government’s, bluff.

Attributing the shortage of CNG buses to the inadequate availability of the gas in the Capital, Chief Minister Dikshit quoted the apex court as having said that the Union Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had made additional supplies of CNG to “big business houses” at the expense of the transport sector.

The three-judge Bench comprising justices BN Kirpal, VN Khare and Ashok Bhan say in the order : “It would have been surprising that if there is shortage of an essential commodity, then the supply or the sale to the public sector undertaking (Maruti Udyog Limited) would be cut, but here, not only is the supply to the PSU not being cut, but also at the same time, supply to at least two big business houses has been increased.”

The order names Reliance Industries, Essar, Gujarat State Fertiliser Corporation, GIPCL (a power generating company in Baroda) and IPCL Dahej as having got additional supplies of gas. Interestingly, the Bench notes, this gas was being supplied to GIPCL without any allocation by the government and as a “matter of favour.”

A major portion of the CNG goes to industries, and the government and its undertakings get less than what it would realise from supplying CNG to the transport sector. Such economics is baffling, to say the least. This, the chief minister informed the House, when the industries get natural gas at the rate of about Rs 3.55 per kg and a commercial vehicle owner in Delhi has to shell out Rs 13.11 per kg which is four times more than what the industry pays.

The chief minister cited further instances of the court’s observations on the Centre to buttress her point :

* For more than one year, under one pretext or the other, first the NCT of Delhi and then the Union of India have been seeking extension of time for conversion of commercial vehicles to CNG. While the anxiety of the Delhi Government, to give it the benefit of doubt, was to see that bus services in this city were not disrupted which was the reason that it had sought extensions of the time limit, the response of the Union of India in this regard is baffling, to say the least.

*The plea of the Government that CNG is in short supply, and that it is unable to supply adequate quantity is incorrect, and this is clearly a deliberate attempt to frustrate the orders passed by this Court.

*That there is no shortage of CNG is also evident from the fact that even during the pendency of these proceedings, while on the one hand it was being represented to this Court and the Mashelkar Committee that CNG was in short supply, there was an increase in the allocation of the CNG to industries …. If there is a short supply of an essential commodity, then the priority must be of public health, as opposed to the health of the balance sheet of a private company. To enable industries to cut their losses, or make more profit at the cost of public health, is not a sign of good governance.



Pollution level expected to dip

New Delhi, April 8.
With the diesel buses off the roads in the Capital for the last two days, the pollution level in the city is expected to take a dip. However, pollution monitoring agencies have not come out with any such data for the last two days.

As per the Supreme Court directive, nearly 6,000 buses run on diesel have been withdrawn. As of now, there is no statistical evidence to elucidate whether there has been any decline in the pollution levels at all. “We normally do not make any short time analysis as they are not very accurate. It is hard to tell whether there has been any change in the pollution levels in the last few days. Even if there is a decline, we cannot say that it is because the buses are off the roads, since it was a weekend and most people stay home, which could have also been the reason,” said Ms R. Uma of Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI).

The Central Pollution Centre is also yet to tabulate the data. “We are still in the process of collecting the data, as our stations are not automatic, but are manually operated. In any case, the chemical analysis and the tabulation thereafter takes time,” said Dr S. Philip of the centre. OC



Delhi jumps on ULSD bandwagon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 8
A beleaguered Government of NCT of Delhi has extended tacit support to the transporters’ demand that the Centre should issue an ordinance allowing the use of ultra low sulphur diesel (ULSD) as an alternate fuel. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said she had broached the matter in her Monday morning’s telephonic conversation with Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Ram Naik. “Mr Naik is exploring that possibility also. Let us see what can be done,” she told mediapersons, “We are also seeking legal opinion on that and also for moving the court for waiving the penalty.”

The demand for an ordinance has been raised by various transporters associations as also BJP Members of Parliament and former chief ministers Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma. Both apprised Mr Naik of the same when they called on him on Monday morning. “An ordinance will be more appropriate than a notification as the latter can be challenged in the courts by filing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition,” Mr Khurana told reporters.

Before rushing off to meet with Congress Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and Supreme Court advocate Kapil Sibal, Ms Dikshit said the government was still to make a prayer before the apex court for waiving off the penalty imposed on the owner of a diesel bus. The government, she said, was exploring all possibilities and that contingency plans were being worked out in the event of the court not appreciating the Government of NCT of Delhi’s concerns.

Those contingency plans, which Transport Minister Ajay Maken was to earlier state on the floor of the Assembly, include rationalisation of bus routes, fixing of routes for RTVs (Rural Transport Vehicles) and introducing “hire and reward” policy enabling private vehicle owners to ferry commuters for a price.

Mr Maken said the rationalisation of routes of the 6,000-odd CNG vehicles would be done by a draw of lots on Tuesday. “We have invited Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Prof Jagdish Mukhi to draw the first lot,” he told the members of the House. By doing so, he added, areas where there are fewer buses could be taken care of. Alternately, he added, commuters could make use of the Helpline (Tel Nos 337 8888 / 435 1763) to enable the Transport authorities to re-route or divert buses to ferry the stranded.

The Board of Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), Mr Maken said, would be meeting on Tuesday to ratify the Cabinet’s decision to purchase 700 to 1,000 new CNG buses. Also expected by late evening is the government’s decision on when schools may re-open after the two-day closure. The chief minister said the government might stagger school timings in the event of it deciding against extending the closure. As also inducting the 550 CNG buses “loaned” to certain schools to augment the city bus service.

Meanwhile, commuters, as expected, had a tough time as the few buses on the roads were overcrowded and the auto rickshaw and taxi drivers continuing to over charge. This, in spite of the heavy presence of police on the streets. It was apparent that even the buses meant for schools and diverted to cart commuters were woefully inadequate. There was considerable tension in some areas in the morning when a group of unidentified persons moving about in a vehicle stopped some buses in the Tilak Nagar area and stoned them. There was little damage to the vehicles and no one was injured the police said while efforts were being made to trace the suspects believed to have come from out of state as their vehicle carried Uttar Pradesh registration number.

Motorists said though the traffic was much smoother with a sizeable number of buses off the roads, there were a lot more private vehicles. Even people who normally used public transport were using their private vehicles now.



Naik hopeful of defusing row
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 8
The Union Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, is hopeful of finding a way out of the CNG logjam on Tuesday itself. “I have set up an inter-ministerial group to study the Supreme Court order and suggest a way out,” Mr Naik told the NCR Tribune.

The group consists of senior officials from the ministry of Petroleum, Transport, Environment and Law. They would minutely study the orders of the court and come up with a solution that would be in line with the Supreme Court order and the auto-fuel policy adopted by the Union Cabinet, he said. Since the Prime Minister is not in town, Mr Naik said he and Mr Arun Jaitley would meet Mr L K Advani on Tuesday evening to take a decision on the impasse. When asked whether the government was considering promulgating an Ordinance to provide relief to the transporters and the commuters, the Union Minister said: “All options are being kept open.”

“Technically, Parliament is in recess, it has not been prorogued. Generally an ordinance is not promulgated when the House is in session. However, there have been instances in the past, when the government had promulgated an ordinance when the House was in recess,” he said.

Asked about the observation of the Apex Court that only CNG was the fuel for Delhi, Mr Naik said the Cabinet had already accepted the Mashelkar committee report on auto policy. The committee was headed by an eminent scientist, he said, adding that the country cannot depend on a single fuel for transportation. Dr R A Mashelkar, DG, CSIR, in his report on auto fuel policy, had said: “The government should decide only the vehicular emission standards and the corresponding fuel specifications without specifying vehicle technology and the type of fuel.”

When pointed out that the report had evoked strong criticism from the Supreme Court, the Union Minister said: “The government would review the Apex Court order and the auto fuel policy and find a way out.”

Earlier in the day, the two former Delhi Chief Ministers and BJP MPs, Mr Madan Lal Khurana and Mr Sahib Singh Verma, met the Union Petroleum Minister and urged him to intervene and find a way out. Mr Sahib Singh Verma told newspersons that the Union Minister had assured the delegation that the government would come out with a notification or an ordinance by tomorrow introducing Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel (ULSD) as an alternative fuel to CNG. Mr Khurana said the Union Home Minister felt that some effort needs to be made to find a solution to the fuel crisis.



At MDU, once a lecturer always a lecturer
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, April 8
The Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) is perhaps the only institute in the country where a large number of teachers would retire as lecturers even after putting in 25 years of service. The Merit Promotion Scheme, introduced by the University Grants Commission (UGC) in 1983 to recognise merit and end stagnation among the college and university teachers, has proved a bane rather than a boon as the Government has dithered in approving the university’s decisions. Dr H.P. Dahiya of the chemistry department joined the MDU in October 1977 as a lecturer and after putting in over 25 years of service he would retire as lecturer if the state government continues to disapprove of the university’s decisions.

Dr Dahiya was promoted as reader in March 1986 and professor in March 1994 under the Merit Promotion Scheme of the UGC. The university okayed the scheme after the approval of its Executive Council in 1984. Since the state government did not agree with the decision of the university, Dr Dahiya is likely to be reverted as lecturer. There are nearly 13 professors who would be reverted as readers. A few of them, Dr S. K. Sharma (Chemistry), Dr S. Dayal (Mathematics) and Dr Jahan Singh(Physics), have retired after putting in over 25 years of service but the ghost of demotion still haunts them!

Ironically, the university has served notices of recovery of the ‘excess’ salary paid to certain teachers who have even died after attaining the age of superannuation. Dr Subir Goswami, (Pol. Sc.), who joined the university as lecturer in 1976, was ‘promoted’ reader in 1984 and ‘professor’ in 1992. He died after retirement but the university has served notice to his widow for the recovery of ‘excess’ amount paid to her late husband. Mrs Goswami is illiterate and has three daughters to be look after.

Another teacher, Dr P. P Singh of chemistry department, died in 1994. Before joining the MDU, he had worked with the Kurukshetra University. Now a recovery notice has been served on his widow, a teacher in Campus School, for the recovery of the ‘excess’ amount. Many of these teachers had opted for the Merit promotion scheme in 1986 when the new pay scales were announced. They got promotions under the scheme. However, in 2000, the conditions were changed retrospectively (since 1986) to the detriment of the interests of the teachers.

The teachers had opted for the scheme as they expected two promotions. But instead of getting the second promotion, some of them are going to be reverted from reader (Merit Promotion Scheme grade Rs 3000-5000) to lecturer. They have been denied second promotion and are not allowed to be considered for the promotion in the new Career Advancement Scheme of July 1998.

There is a classic case of Dr N. K. Rattan (English Department). He joined the MDU in 1972 as lecturer and has more than 30 years of experience of teaching to the post-graduate classes. But he is being denied promotion as a reader, which every teacher in the university or college would be entitled to if he has put in nine years of service.



AIDS centre for high-risk Gurgaon
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, April 8
Gurgaon has finally got its Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre to control the spread of Acquired Immuno Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). The centre, which became functional in the District Civil Hospital on Saturday, will be financed by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) with the assistance of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The state has specially employed two counsellors (one man and one woman) for the purpose. The other three such centres functioning in the state are at Rohtak Medical College and Hospital (Rohtak), Panchkula and Sirsa. According to sources, one centre each at Hisar and Karnal will soon be opened.

According to the District (Gurgaon) Health Officer and Medical Superintendent of the local District Hospital, Dr S. P. Singh, the centre will have a dual purpose. One would be to motivate the masses to go in for voluntary check-ups to find out about the possible infection from HIV which leads to AIDS. The other would be to provide treatment to the patients who test positive. The patients would also be provided psychological counselling to make them mentally strong and update on the dos and don’ts. The yardsticks for selecting any city in the country for setting up such a centre are the percentage of urban population, the number of slums, the presence of high-risk groups etc. The Haryana AIDS Control Society had recommended Gurgaon to the NACO for setting up the centre.

According to medical experts, Gurgaon has almost turned into a cosmopolitan city and is in the category of a “high-risk zone”. The surge in the population and the influx of migrant labourers have contributed to the enhanced AIDS perception. 



Fake IAS officer ‘knew’ Pak who’s who

Sonepat, April 8
The Intelligence Bureau (IB) sleuths have reportedly recovered more than 200 visiting cards of various ministers, political bigwigs and judicial officers of Pakistan during search operations at the Defence Colony residence of Abhikar Raj, who was arrested in Sonepat recently. Abhikar Raj was arrested by the Sonepat police while he was staying in the PWD rest house in the city last week. He was impersonating an IAS officer and introduced himself as one to the local SP. Later, the police seized a Zen car, a mobile, a tape-recorder, cash and other documents from his possession. During the search operations at his residence in Defence Colony, the IB authorities recovered foreign currency, US dollars and travelling cheques worth Rs. 10 lakh. Besides, he was operating an account in a nationalised bank in the Khan Market. For the purpose of the account, he had identified himself as a joint secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office. The IB sleuths have reportedly interrogated the Branch Manager and other employees of the bank who confessed that they used to visit his residence to hand over cash from time to time. The account has now been sealed. It is further learnt that the accused was only a tenant in Defence Colony. However, the IB and the police have failed to find out details about the parents and family members of the accused. Nonetheless, it is confirmed that he was a regular visitor to foreign countries. He got married to a Muslim girl, Mona, in Pakistan after converting to Islam in the presence of the Shahi Imam of Delhi. Later, the accused had obtained `talaq.’ OC



Property tax, illegal colonies, MCD schools top priority of Mayor-designate
Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 8
Rationalisation of the property tax structure, regularisation of all old unauthorised constructions and improvement of education in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi-run schools are the priority areas of Ms Jaishree Panwar, the Congress nominee for the Mayor’s post in the civic body.

The election to the office of the Mayor is scheduled for Wednesday. With the Congress having 108 members in the 134-member corporation, her election is a foregone conclusion.

“I will rationalise property tax system so that there are more people in the net as this is the major source of income of the corporation,” she told ‘NCR Tribune’ in an exclusive interview today.

Ms Panwar, the councillor from Greater Kailash I, said she was not satisfied with the present system of assessment of property tax by the corporation.

Pointing out at the absurd methodology adopted by the civic body for assessing property tax, the Mayor-designate said, “At present, property tax in urban villages and in posh localities is the same. The house from which a landlord in a village gets Rs 5,000 as rent and for a house in a posh locality, for which the rent will be Rs 50,000, the property tax assessed is the same,” she said.

Admitting that corruption was rampant in the civic body, she said, “Sometimes, officials of the tax department make wrong assessment of the tax. But on other occasions, officials also take bribe from the landlord and lower the tax. I will try to get rid of such corruption.”

On demolition, this is what Ms Panwar had to say: “As for as the encroachment on government land is concerned, the buildings constructed a long time back should not be demolished as it is a wastage of money of the citizens.” In reference to the Lajpat Nagar demolitions, she said, “Such demolition drives will not be allowed once I take over, as the illegal construction itself will be prevented from the very beginning.”

On education, Ms Panwar said that she would concentrate on improving the standard of the MCD-run schools. She expressed concern over the declining standard of education in these schools, which have resulted in the middle class avoiding these schools to enroll their children. Only slum dwellers and other poor residents of the Capital sent their children to these schools, she said.

She said that a number of MCD schools were being run in tents, which are without basic facilities like water and sanitation. Students were forced to sit in these schools in harsh weather conditions. Some teachers did not even pay attention towards these students, which is the basic factor for the poor results of these schools, she said.

“Once I take charge, I will have a meeting with senior officials of the Education Department to get rid of all these lacunae. I will ask the education inspectors to make surprise visits to see whether teachers teach the students properly or not. If they are found neglecting their duties, strict action will be taken against them,” she said.

“I will also enquire about the mid-day meals distributed among the students of the MCD schools. During surprise visits, quality and quantity of the mid-day meals will be checked,” Ms Panwar said.

About the Rs 100 crore grant given by the Union Urban Development Ministry to the MCD recently for the construction and repairing of roads, she said, “I will find out whether the money was spent in a proper manner.”

The central grant had evoked sharp criticism from the Congress-led Delhi Government, which considered it as a move to undermine its authority.



Cong workers asked to gird up their loins 
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, April 8
Overjoyed with the success of the Congress in the municipal elections of Delhi, the party leaders in Haryana have started reactivating the workers to fight the future assembly elections in the state. Mr Dharampal Singh Malik, former MP and former president of the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee (Bhajan Lal group), organised a meeting of the workers at Bahalgarh, about 10 km from here, on Sunday and called upon them to remain united and expose the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) government, headed by Mr Om Prakash Chautala, Chief Minister.

He claimed that the popularity of the Congress was increasing every day under the ‘dynamic’ leadership of the AICC president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi. He predicted that the party would form the next government in Haryana on its own as the people of the state were fed up with the INLD and other parties, including the BJP and the VHP.

Criticising the meagre hike of just Rs 10 per quintal in the minimum support price of wheat by the central government, Mr Malik alleged that both the central and Chautala governments had betrayed the farming community despite the fact that the farmers were the backbone of the society. He criticised Mr Chautala for not raising his voice against the meagre increase in the MSP of wheat. He demanded an increase of Rs 50 per quintal in the MSP without delay.

The Congress leader also expressed concern over the nepotism in the recruitment of government jobs and said that the closure of the Haryana State Minor Irrigation Tubewells Corporation (HSMITC) would throw thousands of workers out of jobs.

Referring to the construction of the SYL canal in the Punjab territory, he blamed the Chautala government for it. He said that the central government was not keen in getting the SYL canal completed in the Punjab territory and demanding the share of river water for Haryana for irrigation purposes.

Mr Malik alleged that day-to-day interference in the working of government departments by the ruling party high-ups had demoralised the bureaucracy which has lost the initiative and was not ready to suggest any new ideas for the prosperity of the state, he observed. Former Ministers Dr Maha Singh and Mrs Shanti Rathi, Mr Udey Singh Dalal, Mr Kulbir Singh, former MLA and Mr Satpal Chauhan addressed the meeting.



Fix support price at Rs 800 a quintal: BKU
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, April 8
The Haryana unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) has urged the Central Government to fix the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat at Rs 800 per quintal while taking into consideration the cost of production of wheat.

Mr Hari Singh Khokhar, president of the BKU told mediapersons here today that the recent increase of Rs 10 per quintal in the MSP of wheat was too meagre to help the farming community. He urged the state government to take immediate and effective steps to buy all the wheat stock marketed by the farmers during the procurement season.

He warned that if the official procurement agencies failed to buy wheat and other rabi crops at the support price, the union would have no option than to launch a statewide agitation on the issue and force the government to purchase the entire stock of wheat from the farmers.

Mr Khaokhar also criticised the managements of the sugar mills for not buying the bonded sugarcane from the growers which had caused resentment among the sugarcane growers in the state.

He demanded that the sugarcane growers should get payment of their produce immediately after the purchases made by the mills. Mr Khaokhar also demanded that the sugarcane of Haryana farmers should be purchased on the priority basis. Opposing the installation of electronic meters in place of old electricity meters, the BKU leader demanded uninterrupted power supply in the agricultural sector for the running of tubewells so that the farmers could irrigate their parched land.

He also lashed out at the Chautala government and alleged that the farmers were being harassed and arrested on various charges causing discontentment among the farmers. He demanded an immediate release of the farmers arrested on ‘flimsy’ ground and waiving the loans of the farmers.

Mr Khokhar also wanted compensation for the farmers affected by the hailstorms last year and the supply of electricity free of charge until the farmers were given remunerative price for their produce. He asked for the completion of the SYL canal in the Punjab territory, recruitment of 80 per cent workers in industrial units of the state belonging to the local areas and filling of vacant posts of the teachers in the rural areas.



L-G asks CBI to probe liquor deaths 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 8
Amidst reports of a tardy probe by Delhi Police into the deaths of some persons due to alleged consumption of spurious liquor, Lieutenant Governor Vijai Kapoor on Monday directed that the case be handed over to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a thorough probe, even as unconfirmed reports put the death toll at 10 in various parts of the Capital.

The decision was taken after Mr Kapoor chaired a meeting with the Chief Secretary, the Police Commissioner, Principal Secretary (Home) and Excise Commissioner. “The Lieutenant Governor asked the Principal Secretary (Home) to refer the deaths in different parts of the city to the CBI for thorough investigations as the source of supply of the spurious liquor has been reported from a neighbouring state,” the spokesman said.

Mr Kapoor also directed the Director, Health Services, to instruct all hospitals and nursing homes to report any death that had occurred due to consumption of spurious liquor.

The direction from the Lieutenant Governor comes within hours of a decision by Police Commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma asking the Crime Branch to conduct a thorough probe into the incident besides investigating whether any police-bootleggers nexus was operating.

Unconfirmed reports said that nearly 10 people had died in various colonies in West and North Delhi after consuming the spurious liquor, believed to be coming from neighbouring Haryana.

The matter was raised in the Legislative Assembly by BJP’s Nand Kishore Garg and Congress’ S.C.Vats. They, however, could not move calling attention motions as the Opposition pressed for a debate on the shortage of CNG buses in the Capital. Incidentally, the matter could not be taken up during Question Hour also on account of time constraints. Questions concerning the sale of spurious liquor, raised by Kiran Choudhry and Roop Chand of the Congress, were listed but could not be taken up for discussion.

In the reply tabled in the House, Finance Minister Mahender Singh Saathi had stated that 230 cases had been registered in the past three months and 256 persons arrested for engaging in smuggling of illicit liquor from the neighbouring Haryana. The minister said 94 vehicles had been impounded and 7,541 bottles of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) and 2,965 bottles of country-made liquor had been seized.



Corporator couple seeks justice from CM

Faridabad, April 8
The suspended Senior Deputy Mayor, Mr Shiv Charan Lal Sharma, and his Corporator wife on Sunday began their political campaign to `disprove’ the charges of fraud levelled against them and to revoke their suspension.

The couple and a large number of their supporters took out a procession and submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister through the Deputy Commissioner. They and their supporters have appealed to the Chief Minister to revoke their suspension and provide justice to them. In the memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner at his residence, Mr Sharma and his wife, Mrs Maya Sharma, representing the wards five and six respectively, claimed that the case of fraud booked against them had been false and the order of their suspension illegal.

Since they had done a good work in these wards, some politically influential persons had hatched a conspiracy to bring a bad name to them due to political reasons, they alleged. It is stated that Mr Sharma had not been involved in forging the signature of the then Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation Faridabad (MCF). It could be the handiwork of some persons whose names had already been indicated, they said. Claiming that all the development works in each ward were carried out by the MCF officials according to their official procedure and the involvement of a corporator in handling files or the process was minimal, they said that if there was any irregularity, the officer concerned must be punished.

It may be recalled that a case under Sections 420, 468, 469, 470 and 471 of the IPC had been booked against them at the NIT police station on March 14 and the Commissioner, Gurgaon division, had ordered their suspension on March 28. The enquiry into the matter is pending with the police. TNS



‘The very existence of the industry is at stake’
R. Suryamurthy

The septuagenarian industrialist has literally seen the growth of Delhi over the years - from the traumatic days of Partition to the information super highway of the 21st century.

There were hardly any industries in the Capital at the time of Partition of the country and the city witnessed an influx of large number of refugees. Since then, the city has witnessed growth in industrial activity, mostly in the small-scale sector.

It was the entrepreneurial flair of the individuals which resulted in the economic growth of the city and gave it a distributive character. Today, it is the major distributive centre for several goods in North India.

In an interview to the NCR Tribune, the president of the Delhi Factory Owners’ Federation, Mr J R Jindal, highlighted the problems faced by the industrial units in the changed environment and the measures that need to be taken to resolve them.

What is your assessment of the Delhi Budget, as you head one of the major sectors of the Capital’s economy, which get directly affected by the economic policy of the state?

The Delhi Factory Owners’ Federation is completely disappointed with the Delhi Budget proposals presented by the state Finance Minister, Mr Mahinder Singh Saathi.

The economy is facing slump and there is no indication of its revival in the near future. Under these circumstances, the government’s proposal to increase sales tax would drastically affect the viability of the industrial units in the Capital.

The industrial units were coming to terms with the Union government’s tax proposal, but now with the additional tax burden imposed by Mr Saathi, it would be difficult for the industry to produce goods at competitive prices.

Further, the state government’s recent announcement to hike the minimum wages for the workers would have adverse effect on the industries as they do not have enough capital to pay the enhanced wages when the profits are dipping low.

What are the major areas of concern for the industry in the Capital and what measures need to be taken by the government to provide a conducive atmosphere for the industry?

The very existence of the industry in the Capital is at stake. The Supreme Court’s order on the closure of industrial units in non-conforming areas is a death-knell for the sector.

The entrepreneurs were invited to set up units anywhere they pleased by the then Union Government in 1956. There were no notified industrial areas in the Capital. If we were then allowed to set up units, why is the government going back on its commitment?

Most of the industrial units in the Capital are in the small-scale sector. Several units relating to a particular sector have developed in one particular area of the Capital. This has not happened due to the conscious decision by the government, but by the needs of the industrial sector.

There are over 1.50 lakh industrial units in the Capital with a total investment of about Rs 3,500 crore and the total turnover of these units comes to about Rs 6,300 crore.

Almost 50 per cent of the Capital’s population are directly or indirectly linked to the industrial activity and they provide 33 per cent of the income to the Delhi Government and the MCD.

If the units were closed down, it would not only affect the livelihood of lakhs of workers, but would also directly hit the state and civic coffers.

The Supreme Court in its order had first directed the government to close down polluting units in the Capital as they were affecting the health of the people and their right to life as provided in the Constitution. What do you have to say?

We are also in favour of the closure of units which pollute the environment. However, we differ with the view that the industrial units were the major source of pollution in the Capital. Following the orders of the court, thousands of polluting units have closed down. But, an assessment of the pollution records indicates that there has been hardly any significant reduction in the environmental pollution in the city.

More than 75 per cent of the air pollution in the Capital is due to the presence of 36 lakh vehicles in the Capital. Besides, about 1.36 lakh vehicles are added each year. Further, the commercial and personal vehicles, which transit through the Capital, add to the air pollution.

Another major source of air pollution in the Capital is the power generating stations. They contribute about 18 per cent of the pollution. Further, the sweetmeats and ‘khokari’ contribute another five per cent air pollution.

The industrial units are responsible for only two per cent of the air pollution. However, they are being targeted, which the organisation feels is unjustified.

As per the Supreme Court orders, the units in the non-conforming areas should have been provided with alternative plots. What is the present status in this regard? Are the industrial units willing to shift to these places?

The state government had identified Bawana, Narela, Patparganj and Jhilmil as the areas for the relocation of industrial units, which are at present functioning from non-conforming areas.

Almost four years have passed since the court pronounced its order for the relocation of the units. However, there are hardly any facilities in these four identified areas for the industries to shift.

There are hardly any infrastructural facilities in these places. Recently, the Delhi State Industrial Development Corporation had asked the industrial units to shift to these areas. How can the units shift to these areas, without the infrastructural facilities? Further, the units should be given a time period to relocate themselves after the basic facilities set up at the notified area. They should be given incentives to relocate themselves, as the production in the existing units would come to a standstill.

The neighbouring states had come out with several attractive schemes to woo the units to relocate themselves there. The shifting of these units would give impetus to the development of the National Capital Region. What are your views?

The National Capital Region as a concept in the present context is a farce. More than four decades have passed yet the policy-makers are not clear as to which way the region should develop or which model should be adopted for its growth.

The region cannot develop unless the whole the NCR is declared a common economic zone. There should be no tax for inter-state transportation of goods, land should be available at a concessional rate, telecom infrastructure should be augmented to the levels of Delhi.

The varied tax structure acts as a major disincentive for the industry to shift to these places.

Delhi has the highest minimum wages for the workers, which dissuades them from shifting their base. And, the Capital continues to increase the minimum wages, thereby further attracting the unemployed workers in other parts of the country to come to Delhi.

The infrastructure facilities and civic amenities in the neighbouring states are not as good as they are in Delhi. The places like Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Sonepat, Faridabad experience several hours of power cuts, which would hamper the industrial productivity.

Moreover, there is no security to life and property in these places as the law and order situation in these places is quite bad as compared to that in Delhi.

Under these circumstances, the industries would prefer to close down rather than shift to the places where it would be fruitless to set up the unit in an uncertain environment.

You have projected a grim scenario for the industrial units in the Capital. In your opinion, what is the way-out?

The government should declare all those areas industrial areas, where more than 50 per cent of the occupants are involved in some industrial activity. Most of the units in the Capital have a working force of about six persons and they are small-scale in nature.

If the unauthorised colonies in the city could be regularised, why couldn’t the government declare different parts of the Capital where a large number of units are established, industrial zone.

In the Master Plan 2021, which is being prepared, the government should declare them industrial areas.

Further, the government should bring out a negative list of industrial sectors which cannot function in these areas. And, in the industrial areas, there should be no restriction imposed for changing the nature of trade.

The household industry and service industry should allowed to function in the residential colonies as they meet the day-to-day needs of the locals in the area.

However, there should a restriction on the utilisation of these units for the production of hazardous substances.



Metro operations to be fully computerised

New Delhi, April 8
With the work on the metro in the Capital in full swing, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has launched a programme for the complete computerisation of all its activities in the operational stage.

The project, which will be completed before November this year, promises to be fully functional before the start of the metro rail operations scheduled for December 2002 with the opening of the Shahdara-Tis Hazari section of the project.

The programme, code-named ‘Shikhar’, is an Enterprise Resource Plan (ERP) programme whereby human resources, maintenance, stores, accounts, project execution and property development activities will be inter-linked and fully computerised, thus avoiding manual delays, heavy documentation and duplication of inter-department activities. This will establish a databank of information within the DMRC, which will be available to all departments round the clock and will thus help in improving efficiency and increasing productivity of the corporation. The software used for the ERP is SAP and a dedicated team is involved in implementing the project currently in the DMRC. TNS



New building of EPF office coming up in Gurgaon
Our Correspondent

Gurgaon, April 8
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation is a model department that provides various benefits to the working section of the society, the Union Minister of Labour, Mr Sharad Yadav, has said.

Laying the foundation stone for the building of Gurgaon sub-regional office of the department at Sector 44 here, Mr Yadav said that other departments of the country, from the lower to the highest level, should emulate the EPFO in providing security to this hard working section in the country. That way, not only their living standards would improve but it would also help in the uplift of the society as a whole, said the minister.

Entrust the responsibilities on those for whom the work was being executed as it was being done in the Provident Fund Department, appealed Mr Yadav.

Member of Parliament from the area Dr Sudha Yadav said that April abode well for the workers of the district as another big project of the department would soon be launched here. She revealed that the foundation stone ceremony of a 100-bed ESI hospital would be laid on April 17 at Sector 9 in the district.

Welcoming the guests, the Commissioner, Provident Fund Organisation, Mr Ajay Singh, said that in Haryana, the EPFO had one regional office at Faridabad, three sub-regional offices at Karnal, Rohtak and Gurgaon and five inspectorate offices at Yamunangar, Sonepat, Hisar, Panipat and Ambala.

Mr Singh said that at present, the office at Gurgaon was housed in a rented accommodation. The new building which would be spread in an area of 2,100 square metres would cost the department Rs 3.96 crore, added the Commissioner.

The Gurgaon office, which caters to Rewari, Mahendragarh and Gurgaon districts, maintains 3.1 lakh accounts of both active and dormant subscribers.



Residents force closure of beer shop 
Our Correspondent

Noida, April 8
Persistent opposition from the public has forced the authorities to close a beer shop near a school and a residential colony in Sector 19-B/93, JA here. Though there was a bid to open the shop today, hundreds of residents went to the residence of the District Magistrate and gave a petition. They maintained that that at no cost they would allow a beer or liquor shop to function in the sector.

It is alleged that the authorities had clandestinely allotted a beer shop in shop No 3 of the sector after the finalisation of contracts for liquor shops. The allottee had started his business by displaying a board, Chirag Beer Shop.

When the shop was opened in the morning, a large crowd of women, children and men gathered at the spot. They gheraoed the shop and raised slogans against the authorities who had allotted it there. They later went in a procession to DM’s residence and gave a representation saying it would encourage anti-social elements near the Marigold Girls School also.



House of Dalit sarpanch set on fire 
Tribune News Service

Panipat, April 8
Tension gripped Chichrana village, about 15 km from here, following the alleged burning of a house of the village Sarpanch, Mr Om Parkash, by certain miscreants on Sunday night. According to reports received here, the house was allegedly burnt by members of a particular group opposed to the Sarpanch, who belongs to the Dalit community. The sarpanch had a long-standing dispute over 92 acres of “Shamlat” land. The sarpanch had reportedly got the land vacated from the group. No loss of life has been reported as the family of the sarpanch was in the other house. However, the house was badly gutted in the fire and belongings worth thousands of rupees destroyed. Meanwhile, members of the Dalit community met the SP and demanded strict action against the guilty.

Bodies found

The bodies of two brothers, that was missing since April 3, have been fished out of the Benjol canal near Saudapur and Naraina villages on Sunday. The bodies of the deceased, Kuldip and Malkit, both residents of the Gopal Colony were taken out of the canal when the local residents spotted them. It may be recalled that the brothers, who worked in a factory here, left their house on the morning of April 3 for the factory but did not return. Their father, Mr Jagjit Singh, later reported the matter to the Model Town Police Station. However, they could not be traced. It is learnt that Mr Jagjit Singh had ruled out foul play in the matter.

4 killed in mishaps

Road accidents have claimed four lives in and around the district during the past 72 hours. According to information, two youths from Chhajpur and Ujha villages were killed in the Barwala area of the UP border on Sunday, when they slipped from the canter they were travelling in. One of the deceased, a resident of Chhajpur village has been identified as Kapil.

In another accident, Subhash died in a road accident at Matlauda, near here. An elderly person Khambu, a resident of Baiswal village in Sonepat district died on the spot when he was hit by a canter on the GT Road. The deceased had reportedly come to meet his daughter here.

Meanwhile, Gita, a resident of Wadhawa Singh Colony, sustained serious burn injuries when a stove in her house burst on Monday morning. She had been admitted to the local Civil Hospital in a serious condition.

Fire in spinning mill

Raw material and property worth thousands of rupees was reduced to ashes when a major fire broke out in a spinning mill on the Gohana Road on Sunday night. On the other hand, a private bus also caught fire on account of short circuit. No loss of life had been reported.

Sarpanch assaulted

A woman sarpanch of Birohar village here has lodged a complaint with the district police that two persons of the her village reportedly attacked her in her house and threatened to kill her and her husband. Both the party has been involved in dispute over a money transaction. The police have registered a case in this connection.

Incumbent unseated

On a writ petition filed by Mr Satya Vir Singh, a resident of Maheshwari village, who had secured second position in the Rewari Block Samiti’s membership election from Ward no 27 about two years ago, Mr M.M.Dhonchak, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Rewari, has set aside the election of the incumbent, Rohtash Singh, a resident of Akeda village. The Civil Judge announced the petitioner Satya Vir Singh, who had obtained second position in the above election, as victorious.

Simultaneously, the Civil Judge has also ordered the Returning officer to pay a sum of Rs 3000 (Rs three thousand) by way of fine which would go to Mr Satya Vir Singh.

Power theft

A joint team of electricity department and district administration raided some factories and seized their goods and equipment in Loni area on Sunday. The units were stealing power and were being run on domestic connections. Pyare Lala, a factory owner in Ashok Vihar, was caught red-handed while pilfering power.

Councillors in dock

On a written complaint of Jayabhagwan, secretary to the Chief Nagar Nagam Officer, and stenographer Pradeep, Sihani Gate police registered an FIR against six councillors for having interfered in the duty of Nigam officials and for having threatened to kill them. The councillors named in the FIR include Amol Vashisht, Veer Singh, Sheel Goswami, Rajinder Titoria, Amandeep and Satish Chopra. They had allegedly interfered in the official performance of the duty of Jay Bhagwan Sharma and Pradeep Kumar. The police have registered the report under Sections 147,353 and 506 of IPC. OC



Tension over demolition

New Delhi, April 8
Tension prevailed in the Mukherji Nagar area of North district on Sunday when officers of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Delhi Police suddenly descended on the area to demolish a temple wall and gates of Mukherji Apartments which houses 336 flats.

The DDA demolition squad accompanied with the police, along with two bulldozers, reached the apartments on Sunday morning to demolish the temple wall and the gate without any prior notice to the residents of the apartments. The residents allege that the police had manhandled the residents and taken five persons into detention. TNS



Petrol pump worker robbed of Rs 1.64 lakh
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, April 8
An accountant of a petrol station was robbed of Rs 1,64,500 when he was going to deposit the amount in a bank in Bahadurgarh town here today. According to sources, the accountant, Mr Satish, left for the bank in the morning on his bicycle with a bag containing the cash for the New Haryana Service Station, situated near Tikari border owned by former local MLA and Congress leader Suraj Mal. However, when he reached near the Krishan akhara on the National Highway 10, a car coming from behind hit his cycle. As he fell down, the bag containing the cash dropped on the road.

In the meantime, one of the occupants of the car alighted from the vehicle, picked the bag and drove away with his waiting accomplices. The accountant said that three persons were travelling in the car. However, the Bahadurgarh police have registered a case of theft as the bag was picked from the ground and not snatched from the complainant.

In another incident, lawyers of the Bahadurgarh Bar Association observed a strike here today in protest against the alleged inefficiency of the police that failed to track down the thieves who barged into the house of a lawyer, Mr Virender Singh, in Sector 6 here and decamped with cash and other belongings two days ago. Mr Virender Singh had reported to the police that thieves had stolen Rs 15,000 and jewellery worth the same amount.



Unable to bear male child, she commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, April 8
Fed up with the daily bickering and harassment meted out by her husband and family members over not giving birth to a male child, a woman along with her five- months-old girl child committed suicide by jumping into a well in Bishan village under Beri Police Station area, the police sources said here.

According to information, the deceased Ramrati, was married to Balraj in Bisan village 17 year ago. She gave birth to five girl children, which was the main reason for the strife in her family.

According to the villagers, the family of the deceased was not happy with her and used to harass and beat her. The deceased took her youngest daughter out side the village and jumped into the well. Later, the villagers found both the mother and the child dead in the well. The mother of the deceased, a resident of Sunaria village in Rohtak district has also made similar allegations against the husband and the mother-in-law of her daughter. However, the Beri police have registered a case under Section 304/34 of IPC against the husband and the in-laws of the deceased.



2.5 kg heroin seized from two gangsters
Tribune News Service

New Delhi. April 8
The Narcotics Cell of the Delhi Police today apprehended two members of an inter-state gang and recovered 2.5 kg heroin worth Rs 2.5 crore in the international market. The police, acting on a tip off that members of an inter-state gang would be coming near Gagan Cinema in Nand Nagri to distribute the ‘stuff’, apprehended the duo, Rampal (35) of Ghaziabad, and Manjula of Mansuar in Madhya Pradesh (35). At the time of their arrest, Manjula was found carrying 1 kg of heroin while Rampal was carrying 1.5 kg.

Auto-lifters nabbed: Two auto lifters were nabbed on Sunday evening by the Janakpuri police when they had reportedly come to Posangipur area to dispose off a stolen motorcycle. The police acting on an information arrested Raj Kumar, resident of Mahavir Enclave and Rahul Verma (20), resident of Posangipur. The police recovered from their possession a Yamaha motorcycle, that was stolen two days ago from Janakpuri.

Rape victim rescued: The Delhi Police rescued a rape victim on Sunday night when she attempted to commit suicide by jumping into a canal. She took this extreme step after she was gang raped by a bus driver and conductor in an isolated area in Madanpur Khadar area of South Delhi. According to the police, the girl, around 18 years and resident of JJ colony in Mandanpur Khadar extension, was on her way back home around 11 pm when she was raped. The suspects were later identified as Ganesh, the bus driver, and Kismat Ali, the conductor.

Businessman robbed: A businessman was robbed of his Maruti Zen car and a gold chain by three unidentified youths on Sunday night at gunpoint in Seemapuri area in North-East district. Police said that Sanjeev Aggarwal, a resident of Dilshad Garden, who runs a plastic moulding factory in Jhilmil Industrial area, was about to leave his factory when unidentified men arrived at around 9.30 pm, and took away his vehicle and a gold chain. 


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