Saturday, June 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Freeloaders, Beware! 
Tribune News Service


* February 1999 : Strategy paper out 

* December 1999 : DERC operational

* October 2000 : Delhi Electricity Reform Ordinance promulgated. Tripartite agreement signed between GNCTD, DVB and employees

* November 2000 : Delhi Electricity Reforms Bill passed

* January 2001 : GNCTD approves SBI Capital’s first report. Investors’ Conference organised

* February 2001 : Advertisement invites interested parties

* July 2001 : SBI Caps submits last report

* October 2001 : GNCTD approves restructuring model

* November 2001 : Delhi Electricity (Transfer Scheme) Rules notified. Bids invited from pre-qualified bidders

New Delhi, May 31
Come July 1 the distribution of electricity will go into private hands. What that means for the Delhiite, Tata Power’s head honcho Adi Engineer tells you, is “freeloaders beware !”

So, effectively, tampering with the meter is out. So is non-payment of bill. What is in, he lets you know, is a culture of “pay and use.” For a city notorious for wanton theft of electricity, Engineer says, public co-operation to curb theft is of paramount importance.

The transfer of management of distribution companies to private hands will signal the handing over of billing and metering to companies for whom the bottomline is sacrosanct. “We are contemplating technical and administrative changes to streamline the system but that will not happen immediately. Only later.”

Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply’s Chairman and Managing Director SS Dua couldn’t agree more. “What is happening now in Delhi has been in vogue in Mumbai for long. Pilferage will become passe and well nigh impossible if, one, public respond favourably and, two, a system is put in place that incorporates adequate safeguards against theft.”

Besides public co-operation, Engineer says, “There has to be moral and public pressure to curb theft.” In Mumbai, he says, where 22 lakh consumers are availing themselves of the services of private power companies, leakages have been brought down to manageable levels.

Asserting that reaching “economical and reliable” power to people is his primary concern, Engineer says the technical and administrative changes he is contemplating include replacement of defective meters, bringing his own staff to supervise and monitor the billing and collection and upgrading the sub-stations.”

Similar sentiments were voiced by Chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry’s Delhi State Council Ravi Sinha. Describing the signing of MoU as a step in the right direction, Sinha says “consumers can hope for some early signs of regular and stable power supply.” The ability of private players to effectively streamline billing and redressal of customer grievances, he says, is of prime concern to him but “given the track record of the two companies this should not be difficult.”



BSES, Tata are capital’s new power suppliers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
Three years and three months after bringing out a strategy paper on unbundling of Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB), the Government of NCT of Delhi on Friday inked an agreement to hand over management of the three distribution companies to Tata Power and Bombay Suburban Electricity Supply (BSES.)

The signatories to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – Principal Secretary (Finance) Ramesh Chandra, Managing Director of Tata Power Adi J Engineer and BSES Chairman and Managing Director SS Dua – formalised the share acquisition agreements, whereby the two private players will take over the management of distribution companies by June 30.

BSES will have a controlling interest in two distribution companies covering south and west Delhi and central and east Delhi. The third distribution company covering north and north-west will be managed by Tata Power. Under the terms of agreement, the six companies – a holding company, generation company, transmission company and the three distribution companies – replacing the DVB will become operational from July 1.

“We will pass on the responsibility of distributing electricity in Delhi to these companies by June-end,” Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said on the occasion. “This,” she said, “was a promise we had made soon after coming to power and we have fulfilled that today.” Ms Dikshit said the MoU had been inked after “open and fair” negotiations and it held out the promise of “quality” and “continuous” power to Delhiites.

Principal Secretary (Finance) Ramesh Chandra, who was a member of the core committee that was mandated to negotiate with the bidders, told media persons the private players will be allowed 16 per cent return on the issued and paid up capital and free reserves subject to the companies reducing the Aggregate and Technical (AT&C) loss by 17 per cent in five years (in the case of south-west and north-northwest zones) and 17.25 per cent (in the case of central-east zone.)

“For the first five years,” Chandra said, “there will be a common retail tariff all over Delhi.” (The tariff will be set by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission.) To avoid a tariff shock, the government will extend a support of Rs 3,450 crore to the transmission company during the transitional period. This loan assistance, he said, would be used by the transmission company (Transco) to bridge the gap in the initial years between its revenue requirements and the bulk supply price it may receive from the distribution companies. After five years, the distribution companies will be free to make their own arrangements for purchasing power. The transmission company will then cease to be the monopoly supplier.



Medical ‘college’ gets taste of its medicine
Bijendra Ahlawat

Faridabad, May 31
The local court has put a spanner in the works of ‘Indian Medical College’ (IMC) here. The college used to churn out fake degrees of MBBS, BAMS and MD. The racket was unearthed by the Health and Drug Control officials in March this year.

The college principal, Dr S C Sudan, filed a petition subsequently, seeking injunction on the prosecution and the action against him. He sought permission to impart education in the ‘alternative system’ of medicine through the institute. However, the Civil Judge (Senior Division), Mr Jagdeep Jain, dismissed the petition in a judgement delivered recently.

In the 19-page judgement order, the judge observed that although the plaintiff was at liberty to provide education in the alternative system of medicine, provided the guidelines were adhered to, at present the plaintiff’s activities had to be stopped in the interest of justice and for that matter, the defendants (Health Department) were quite competent to take the necessary action.

It adds that the plaintiff had failed to satisfy the conditions prerequisite for the grant of temporary injunction and therefore it was dismissed. The plaintiff had filed the case in the court and made the civil surgeon, state of Haryana, through deputy commissioner, Faridabad and the superintendent of police as party. The applicant had argued that education and training in the field of ‘Alternative Medicine’ was provided by the college. It could not be banned as per the Constitution and he produced a copy of the judgement of the High Court, Calcutta in this regard.

He alleged that the defendants had implicated him in a criminal case and threatened to close his college.

The health authorities argued that the ‘IMC’ had been awarding the degrees bearing the nomenclature of MBBS, BAMS, DAMS and MD, which are otherwise awarded only by the medical institutions recognised by the Medical Council of India, the Central Council of Indian Medicine and the Central Council of Homeopathy, the authorised bodies of the Union government for education in the field of allopathy, Ayurveda, Unani and homeopathy.

It was alleged that the degrees of this nomenclature were being provided illegally and the plaintiff had adopted these abbreviation as a cover-up for the system unrecognised by the Government of India. It was to mislead the students and general public and amounted to cheating. Therefore, a criminal case was registered and investigation was on.

The court in its order observed that although the IMC itself was not awarding degrees or diplomas, the fact remains that the institute to which it was affiliated was engaged in an illegal activity and the plaintiff was an active collaborator.

It is prime facie evident that the plaintiff college was not imparting training and the teaching in any of the ‘alternative’ system of medicine, rather it was producing quacks by imparting half-backed knowledge or training in allopathy.



Blockade continues, Admn on backfoot 
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, May 31
Even though the agitating farmers of village Titoli and nearby hamlets persisted with their blockade on the Rohtak-Jind highway for the second day today, the district administration, in a perceptible shift, kept a low profile.

The mellowed handling of the situation stemmed from the anxiety to avert a direct confrontation between the farmers and the police, which yesterday resulted in a lathi-charge and firing. The policemen, who were today sent to Samargopalpur to remove the blockade, returned to their barracks without completing the task.

There was, however, no disruption of traffic on the Rohtak-Gohana highway today. The administration had resorted to a lathi-charge yesterday to clear the road, which was blocked near village Brahmanvas. The blockade was lifted in the evening on Thursday.

The police had yesterday registered three FIRs in connection with the firing and lathi-charge at Samargopalpur and Brahmanvas and arrested 40 agitating farmers. While 26 farmers have been booked under sections 148/ 149/ 332/ 353/186/ 34 IPC and also under the Arms Act, the remaining have been taken in custody under sections 148/ 149/ 332/ 353/ 186/ 188/ 427/ 307/ 341/ 283 IPC and under the Arms Act. They were produced in the court and remanded to judicial custody.

The BKU activists from the Kiloi assembly constituency today held a meeting to chalk out their future course of action. The practice of taking policemen hostage was initiated by the activists of this constituency.

The meeting, however, failed to take any decision today. A committee comprising 24 activists of the BKU was constituted to ascertain the views of the farmers on the agitational programme. The next meeting will be held after three days for taking a final decision.

Meanwhile the state unit of the CPM has expressed grave concern over the violent confrontation between the farmers and the State machinery, which had fanned to more areas, resulting in loss of lives. The party blamed the government’s rigidity for the unfortunate developments. The state CPM Secretary, Mr Inderjit Singh, said that the government backtracking on the agreement reached with the agitating farmers, following the Kandela episode in December last, was mainly responsible for the mess.

The CPM has ridiculed the statement of Chief Minister Om Parkash Chautala, blaming the opposition for iinstigating the farmers. The CPM has reminded Mr Chautala that he himself had been clamouring for free electricity and water along with the BJP when they were in the opposition. The party has called for immediate release of all arrested farmers to create an atmosphere of rapprochement.

Former Minister, Mr Krishan Murti Hooda, has demanded a CBI inquiry into the police firing at Gulkani, Lochab, Samargopalpur and Brahmanvas.



Farmers’ stir: Chautala rapped for ‘inept’ handling 
Our Correspondent

Rewari, May 31
The Haryana Pradesh Janata Dal (U) president, Mr Ved Prakash Vidrohi, has flayed the Chautala government for its “inept” handling of the farmers’ agitation, which had led to the “unwarranted” police firing in which one farmer, Rajbir Singh, was killed and several others were injured at Gulkani village in Jind district on Thursday.

He said that in response to a call given by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), the farmers had resorted to road blockades at Gulkani-Lohchab and Titoli. This was to register their protest against the failure of the administration to honour the tacit understanding, which envisaged the release of the arrested farmers in exchange of the release of the seven hostages.

By labelling the farmers’ agitation as one by the criminal and anarchic elements being launched at the behest of the Opposition, the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, was unnecessarily adding fuel to the fire, he alleged.

The JD(U) leader also emphasised the urgency of implementing the agreement arrived at between the state government and the BKU at Kandela on January 31 and also to solve the problems of the farmers related to the power dues through negotiations to save the situation from taking an uglier turn.



Opening windows of opportunity for the disabled
Smriti Kak

New Delhi, May 31
The statistics are appalling. Less than two per cent of the 70 million physically challenged people in the country receive education of any kind, there are just about one lakh disabled who have been employed in regular jobs in the last 40 years and a mere 0.4 per cent of such people employed in corporate houses.

According to a survey conducted by the National Centre for the Promotion of Employment For Disabled People (NCPEDP) the state of education and work opportunity for the disabled in the country is that of immense apathy.

This when the government has made reservations for the disabled in educational institutions as well in service sectors. “ The reason that there are hardly any avenues for the disabled is manifested in the fact that there are hardly any qualified and professional disabled people in the country”, points out Ms. Rama Chari, Executive Officer, NCPEDP.

The NCPEDP has started giving out scholarships to the disabled so as to help them opt for higher studies. Now in its fifth year, the scholarship was launched to enable deserving and meritorious disabled students with limited means to receive education at the post-graduate or the professional level.

“When we started we received just 11 applications from across the country. We had spread the word through NGOs, but we realised that we have to reach out to more people and through more expansive means. So, we started by telling people that there is a reservation of three per cent in all universities. Last year universities like the Delhi University, IITs and IIMs filled the three per cent quota, this was an encouragement,” adds Chari.

The scholarship aims at creating opportunities for people with disabilities by helping them pursue courses of higher studies, like computer engineering, business management and architecture. “It is vital for these students to have education that will help them earn a living. Courses offered by NGOs and social organisations like basket making, arts and crafts are not lucrative enough and not in tandem with today’s job market”, explains Chari.

She adds, “We have to ensure that the student does not drop out or get discouraged. If we pay them a substantial amount of money every month, it makes things easier for them. Disabled students spend more than their able bodied counterparts because they have to pay more for facilities like transport, or equipment. If they cannot afford these things, they discontinue studies”.

NCPEDP has its fair share of success stories. Take the case of the Mehndiratta siblings who are quadriplegics, yet because of the scholarship are today pursuing MCA. Another example is that of R M Pratap who has no arms and no legs, yet has managed to rise to the position of an Assistant Manager in National Housing Bank.

NCPEDP is looking at corporates and individuals for sponsoring these disabled students. “We pay for five scholarships from our own resources, the rest is sponsored by corporates. Last year we had Shell sponsoring as many as 10 students”, says the NCPEDP official.

The scholarships are provided to visually handicapped, those with speech and hearing impairment, people with leprosy, cerebral palsy, locomotor disability and ailments like thalessemia, learning disability and hemophilia.



Intellectuals give Akalis a piece of their mind
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
Apparently concerned over the deteriorating standards, a large number of Sikh intellectuals and professionals have urged the various factions of the Akali Dal in the fray for the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee elections (DSGMC) to shift their focus from mud-slinging and exchange of allegations to constructive issues like education and welfare of the community. A similar appeal was issued by the Sikh Forum earlier this week. The forum is devoted to the promotion of Sikh values, particularly among the youth, and had expressed concern over the deteriorating standard of education in the DSGMC run educational institutions.

‘’Delhi’s million-plus Sikh population has to gain nothing from Akali factions’ mud-slinging and their charges and counter-charges. Parties in the fray have to come out with concrete plans regarding improvement in the falling standards of education in DSGMC-run institutions,’’ said noted Sikh scholar and former diplomat Mr. Jaspal Singh.

“No single party could be blamed for the fall in academic standards in Sikh schools as it has occurred over a period of time.

Mr Hit created an Education Council but it still needs teeth,’’ said Dr Singh. Virtually echoing his views, former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge R S Narula said education should be the central election issue for Akalis. ‘’Today, even Sikh students opt for admission in non-Sikh schools which in itself is an adverse comment on our educational levels,’’ Justice Narula said. Praising senior DSGMC member Manjit Singh (Greater Kailash) for his support to the DSGMC Education Council, Justice Narula said though the present administration did succeed in creating the board, the academic panel could not do much because of limited powers.

Mr Manjit Singh, a close Badal aide, has thrown his weight behind the Council’s demands for more powers, calling for a stop to appointing DSGMC members as school and college chairpersons.

“The Education Council should work as an autonomous body with the least interference from the parent body — the DSGMC,’’ said senior educationist Dr..Jaswant Singh Phull and former chief political advisor to the late Akali leader Master Tara Singh. He said Akalis should spell out their plans “in clear terms’’ about how they would improve academic standards.



Dreaded criminal killed in encounter
Parmindar Singh

Ghaziabad, May 31
One of the four criminals who had come to loot the Punjab National Bank was killed in an encounter in Sahibabad by Indirapuram police. The criminal belonged to Delhi and carried an award over his head declared by the Noida police.

SSP Chander Prakash said on Thursday night that the police got the tip-off that some people were trying to cut the shutters of the Punjab National Bank, situated on Plot No 64 in Kausambi. When SO Sher Bahadur Singh and Incharge Kausambi Police Post, R K Sharma, along with the force reached the spot, it was fired upon by the gangsters. The police fired back and killed one of them in the ensuing encounter while three criminals fled. The slain criminal has been identified as Satya Prakash alias Sata of Farash Bazar, Shahdara, Delhi.

He is a history-sheeter of the Delhi Police and is wanted in 18 cases by Vivek Vihar, Shahdara, Jahangirpuri and Kausambi Police Station. The police in Sector-58, Noida, have got Sata’s property attached for his failure to present himself in a murder case. He had undergone prison terms in two cases.



Extension to power dues waiver scheme 
fails to pay off
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panipat, May 31
Despite the extension for 15 days, the power bill waiver scheme of the Haryana Government, which ended today, has evoked lukewarm response in the district. Till Thursday, about Rs 2.65 crore had been deposited by 7,495 defaulters as against total outstanding amount of over Rs 30 crore in the two divisions, the City Division and the Sub-Urban Division. However, the category-wise figures were not available from the official sources.

It may be recalled that till May 15, the original date for depositing the outstanding dues, 7,243 defaulters had deposited Rs 1.75 crore. This shows that the administration’s strategy of netting a large amount by extending the scheme till May 31 had failed miserably. The last 15 days had shown a collection of only about Rs 90 lakh from over 2,000 defaulters.

And this was despite the best efforts put in by the district officials and the tall claims by the DC, Mr Mulk Raj Anand, through the district Public Relations Office, that the scheme had been a “big success” and the people in large numbers were thronging the Electricity Department to deposit their outstanding bills. Though the people might have been rushing to the power offices to deposit the bills, the number of defaulters depositing the “big amounts” had not been reflected in the total collections. This was one of the reasons why the last date was extended, sources said

Sources conceded that the collections had been poor though a large number of consumers had “benefited” from the scheme. The poor collections point to another disturbing factor. It has been only the small consumers who had paid up while the big fish continue to elude the department’s net. What action, if at all any, would be taken against big defaulters is anybody’s guess.

A circular of the department warns that the connections of defaulters would be disconnected if they fail to pay up by the due date, that was today. However, the department, whose record in taking action against the “big fish” had been poor, would be put to an acid test in the days to come.

The sources alleged that a part of the blame must lie with the current INLD government, led by Mr Om Prakash Chautala, for the massive arrears in the state. Before the INLD came to power about two-and-a-half years ago, it had allegedly instigated the farmers not to pay the electricity bills as they would be waived when the party came to power. The party did come to power and power consumers, mostly farmers, continue to wait for the waiver scheme.

In the process, the power bills continued to rise giving the government many a sleepless night. In fact, the current agitation by farmers in Kandela village of Jind district, where the government was fighting with its back to the wall, had its roots in the exhortations of Mr Chautala to the farmers not to deposit the power bills.

With the power sector reforms becoming the talk of the town and power scenario in the state in a shambles, the state bureaucracy came up with the present scheme by which the consumer could pay 25 per cent of the outstanding arrears in one go and 50 per cent in instalments. However, the scheme did not evoke much response in several parts of the state. The officials had been highlighting that the money deposited by the defaulters would be spent on the overall development of the village.



Police jobs on sale: Vidrohi
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, May 31
The Haryana Pradesh Janata Dal (U) president, Mr Ved Prakash Vidrohi, today expressed concern over the ‘deteriorating’ law and order situation and alleged that the people of the state were feeling insecure on account of the increasing incidence of crimes like murders, loot, extortion, kidnapping and rape. He also alleged that the posts of DCs and SPs were on sale in the state.

In a signed press statement, he said that the situation in the towns and cities falling under the jurisdiction of the National Capital Region (NCR) had also become worse. The activities of the liquor and land mafia in these towns were on the increase and this had led to the shootouts between the groups almost daily. The members of these gangs always managed to enter UP and Delhi after committing crime to evade their arrest, he said.

Citing the examples of the daylight murder of Mr Amarjit, a Congress leader, at Faridabad and the alleged kidnapping of a three-year old daughter of a Superintendent of Police, Mr Vidrohi alleged that Haryana had become a haven for the criminals and it was turning into another Bihar because of the failure of the government.

He also alleged that the posts of DCs and SPs were on sale in Haryana and, in turn, these officers amassed wealth and gave a share to their political bosses. These officers, he further alleged, were being patronised by the powerful political leaders and they never care about the increasing incidences of crime.

Mr Vidrohi demanded a high-level probe into the assets of the IGs, SPs and the DGP Haryana during the regime of the INLD government and said that such an inquiry would expose the misdeeds of these officers.

He urged the Chief Minister to issue a white paper on the employment situation of educated jobless youths and retrenchments of the employees in various departments and boards as well as nigams. He said that though Mr Chautala had promised jobs to the unemployed persons during the last assembly elections, he had taken a somersault after assuming power. He alleged that the government was planning to privatise various departments in the near future. He said the government had already removed more than 10,000 state employees from their services.



L-G reviews work of transmission system from Sonia Vihar plant
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
The Lieutenant-Governor, Mr Vijay Kapoor, in a meeting with the senior officers of Delhi Jal Board (DJB), DDA, MCD, Railways and UP Irrigation Department held at Raj Niwas today, reviewed the progress in the construction of the transmission system of clear water from Sonia Vihar Treatment Plant to trans-Yamuna and South Delhi areas.

The DJB and M/s Larsen Toubro Ltd made presentations on the progress of the laying of transmission mains on the occasion. The DJB is constructing a new Water Treatment Plant of 140 MGD (million gallons per day) capacity at Sonia Vihar at a cost of Rs 188 crore.

The raw water for this treatment plant is being made available from Muradnagar (UP) through a 30-km long conduit.

At the outset, the CEO of the DJB informed that the transmission main in trans-Yamuna and South Delhi areas was being constructed in two phases. In the first phase, 34 km of clear water transmission mains and 16 ground reservoirs and booster pumping stations are being constructed in the trans-Yamuna area.

In the second phase, another 22 km of clear water transmission mains would be built simultaneously in completion with the Sonia Vihar Water Treatment Plant.

For rationalisation of water supply in South Delhi, underground reservoirs and booster pumping stations would be constructed at 15 places, including at Apollo, Sant Nagar, Vasant Kunj, Chhattar Pur etc.

However, as an interim arrangement, the augmented quantity of filtered water could be distributed in South Delhi through the existing network and storage reservoirs.

The Lt-Governor suggested that the possibility of linking the Sonia Vihar Water Treatment Plant with the existing treatment plants should be attempted.

Since adequate water would be available, establishing a 24-hours supply should be explored and the existing system be accordingly rationalised. He further suggested the realignment of the transmission lines at certain places to ensure minimum disruption of utility services.

The Lt-Governor reiterated that the transmission networks should be completed along with the Sonia Vihar Water Treatment Plant so that the project is commissioned within the scheduled time.



Can a designer wall get rid of city’s filth?
Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panipat, May 31
The district administration, infamous for its dithering, seems to have roused itself. In a sudden burst of energy, it wants to beautify Panipat, one of the most unkempt cities of the country.

With this in view, it has chalked out a ‘Green Panipat’ strategy. Under the ambitious plan, a “designer wall” will be built along G. T. Road near Maharaja Hotel and the legends of the three battles of Panipat will carved out in stone along the same road.

However, the strategy of the administration seems to be G. T. Road-specific. With the parks and other areas inside the city crying for attention, one wonders how the administration’s plan will make any perceptible difference.

According to official sources, the ‘designer wall’ will be built from three different kinds of tiles.

The wall, the sources claim, will add to the beauty of the town and be an attraction for motorists passing on the G. T. Road. But how the wall would help in controlling traffic, as claimed by the administration, is anybody’s guess.

The three battles would be represented by statues on the G. T. Road. Near the Paliwal House, bronze statues of elephants, horses and warriors, about 8 feet high, would be installed at a cost of Rs 12 lakh.

The sources said the services of the Green Panipat Committee would be utilised to beautify the industrial city. However, keeping the track record of the committee in mind, one wonders if the panel can possibly do anything to spruce up the city, which perhaps has the dubious distinction of being one of the ugliest in the country.

Other than issuing press notes through the District Public Relations Office (DPRO), the committee seems to have done precious little.

In another development, It is learnt that the district administration has requisitioned 25,000 tree guards at a cost of Rs 12.5 lakh. However, nobody has an inkling where the tree guards have been placed.

A quick visit to the city revealed that a majority of the saplings, planted in collaboration with the Horticulture Department and the Panipat Refinery with much fanfare, have been left to fend for themselves.

In fact, the record of the Panipat Refinery in maintaining the saplings it had planted seems to be lacklustre.

It seems that it has not kept word with its slogan of “Panipat is an eco-town” when it comes to nurturing and maintaining the plants and doing something for reducing the pollution in the town.

An official press note says that it is the desired of the DC, Mr Mulk Raj Anand, to make Pamipat one of the most beautiful cities of the country.

However, that seems to be a tall order if the laid back attitude of the local bureaucracy is any indication.

Anyway, the DPRO press releases, a majority of them far removed from truth, would not of much help in beautifying and greening the city.



Shiv Sena demands security for its leaders 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
Demanding the immediate arrest of those responsible for the attack on its Northern India chief, Mr Jai Bhagwan Goyal, the Shiv Sena today said that party activists would not hesitate to take to the streets if adequate security was not provided to its leaders.

Mr Goyal escaped unhurt when he was reportedly attacked On Thursday night by unidentified scooter-borne gunmen, who fired three shots at his factory in the Shahdara area of North-East Delhi and sped away. The police said that a case had been registered and efforts were being made to trace the suspects.

“We had communicated to the Home Ministry, Delhi administration and the Delhi Police regarding the possible threat to the life of our leaders, but the Home Ministry and Delhi Police failed to act,” senior Sena leader Abhimanyu Gulati said in a statement here today.

Claiming that Sena leaders in Delhi and Punjab were on the hit list of militants for their opposition to terrorists and anti-national organisations, Mr Gulati said: “It is the responsibility of the government to provide adequate security to these leaders.”


Speaking out


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.

This is with reference to the article, “MDU to hike fees of distance education courses” (NCR Tribune, dated 25th May, 2002). In order to provide education to those who were unable to receive regular and part time education, Kurukshetra University established the Directorate of correspondence courses in 1976, just 2 years after becoming an affiliated university.

The MDU introduced the course of Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) through distance education in 1988. At present, thousands of students are enrolled in B.A., B.Com, M.A., M.Sc in distance education at MDU.

Since the Distance education directorate came into existence in 1988, it has been housed in an old building of the University College (erstwhile Neki Ram Sharma Government College for Boys).

I would suggest that the Distance education directorate should be shifted to the new building, constructed for the purpose from this academic session.

The modern structure of the building and new furniture would provide a conducive environment for work.

Sir Charles Robertson, a former distinguished vice-chancellor of an university in England said that “If he were a dictator, he would reduce the time devoted to lectures to a third of that usually occupied by them and insist on students spending three hours every day in the library.”

The Kothari education commission said ”Nothing could be more damaging to a growing department than to neglect its library or to give it a low priority”.

Hence, MDU should give top priority to the library of the distance education.

Through your esteemed paper, I would like to request my colleagues to speak up to strengthen the MDU Distance education directorate.

OM PARKASH WADHWA, Government College, Gohana, Sonepat.

Cholera cases on the rise 

It is a matter of great concern that cholera cases have been on the increase in the Capital this year.

Earlier, cholera cases used to be noticed mainly from the trans-Yamuna area. However, it is a matter of concern that it has been reported from other parts of the Capital as well.

I appeal to the concerned health authorities to take immediate steps to control the spread of cholera cases before it is too late, for cholera is fatal if not treated in time.


Caring for the old

In the modern age, medical facilities have improved our living standards. This has resulted in better health care and increased life expectancy. Further, the spread of literacy and increased awareness about the various methods of birth control and benefits of small family, have led to the decline in birth rate.

With these positive effects, we are also heading towards a scenario where we will have to take care of a large number of aged persons. Today, we see a ruthless competition and the prevalence of a market economy in which the survival of the fittest is the rule. Our youths, driven by these market forces, are trying to scale new heights of prosperity.

But this prosperity is coming with a heavy price tag attached to it, as far as our social scene is concerned. With the increased mobility of work force, our age-old institution of joint family is breaking down and bringing in its wake, many negative consequences. And add to it, the widespread level of poverty, particularly in our vast rural area.

This grim situation compels us to pause for a moment and ponder over the state of our elders, euphemistically called senior citizens.

With the break down of the joint family system, many of them have developed the feeling of social insecurity.

Those unfortunate elders, who do not have the support of the family institution and have no regular means of income to support them, are realising that old age is not bed of roses.

They are feeling neglected and dejected. An increasing number of their fraternity is also feeling lonely at the fag end of their life. Unfortunately, the children having grown up and settled down in life, find their parents a burden.

Strangely, such selfish and ungrateful children forget that these very parents gave them birth, love and care so that they are successful in life.

Unfortunately, children today do not want to take care of their parents in their old age.

Obviously, the elders feel let down and neglected. They are, in fact, ashamed of their dependence on their ungrateful children, who in spite of having the wherewithal, do want to discharge their bounden duty of looking after their aged parents.

Such children do not realise that by showing disrespect to the dignity of their parents, they are committing a heinous crime against humanity.

Thus, in this unfortunate situation, the lives of our neglected elders become full of trials and tribulations. However, there is always hope for something better to emerge from the ashes. One such beacon of light is Ashram Hari Mandir Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya in Pataudi, in the Gurgaon district of Haryana.

Sri Swami Dharam Devji Maharaj, the present head of the Ashram Hari Mandir Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, is engaged in the noble work of economic and spiritual upliftment of mankind.

Apart from giving boost to the ashram’s unique programme of providing free education, Sri Swami Dharma Devji Maharaj is currently busy with the construction of an old-age home in the ashram campus. The proposed old-age home, with all modern facilities, will be a boon for our elders.

They will not only enjoy the safety of benign shelter, but will also be able to lead a life of dignity and contentment in the salubrious and invigorating atmosphere of the ashram. To take care of their health problems, Swami Dharam Devji Mahraj has planned to build a hospital in the campus itself.

But this gigantic task can be accomplished only with the support and encouragement from all members of our society. Therefore, through the columns of your esteemed daily, we would like to request all those who can, to lend a supporting hand to the noble task initiated by Sri Swami Dharam Devji Mahraj. For some of the elders, the ashram may open up the floodgates of divine benediction to realise the real purpose of their life.

Therefore, all must come forward to contribute generously for the successful completion of this old age home. Those who are interested can contact Sri Swami Dharam Devji Maharaj at Ashram Hari Mandir Sanskrit Mahavidyalaya, Amarpuri, Pataudi, Gurgaon, Haryana.


Fire fighting

The national Capital, has made tremendous development after independence. It has come up with many high-rise buildings and big commercial and office complexes.

Along with these symbols of prosperity, have come many jhuggi clusters.

Moreover, owing to the increasing pressure of commercial activities, many of the old areas in Delhi, like Chandni Chowk, have become highly congested.

However, with the mammoth growth of the city, the moot question is whether the basic infrastructure, like fire stations, have been strengthened to tackle the problems associated with the modern city life?

The pity is that no serious efforts are being made to put in place a better civic infrastructure.

At present, our firemen work without adequate modern equipment, quite often risking their own lives in fire fighting operations.

Recently, the NCR Tribune carried a report about a brave fire officer, Amar K. Aggarwal, who saved many people from fire.

Even without any specialised equipment like gas masks, Mr Amar K. Aggarwal and his team of dedicated workers not only rescued four men, but risking their own lives, managed to close the knob from which the gas was leaking.

Had this gas leaked out, it would have effected many people and resulted in heavy casualty.

Not only in the national Capital, but even in other parts of the country, the fire stations have not kept in pace with developments made in other countries.

The situation is even worse in areas covered with forests, where regular forest fires occur during the summer months.

The already denuded forest areas, when engulfed in fire, gets further destroyed as there are no modern equipment to extinguish the devastating forest fire.

In developed countries like America, the members of the fire-fighting teams are given special training. They are provided all necessary modern equipment like helicopters to control forest fire and have special vehicles to tackle fire in big buildings.

We must learn the necessary lessons from other countries and incorporate new technologies for fire fighting from the global market. We should also send our firemen abroad for training.

Moreover, we have to keep in view our local peculiarities like congested areas, narrow street lanes, non-availability of minimum equipment to take immediate steps for controlling small fires, negligence in implementing safety norms, non-functioning hydrants and primitive labour laws. Taking clue from other successful sources, we need to evolve a fire-fighting system that can suit our local needs.

The recent tragic fire in an Agra leather factory claimed many innocent lives. It has once again revealed our utter disregard for the life and safety of our workers. It seems our businessmen are still living with a feudal mindset.

Is money everything? Does the safety of the work force mean nothing?

SHWETA KOHLI, Shahdara, Delhi.

Appeal to DVB

Despite the tall claims made by the DVB and other high functionaries of the Delhi Government, things remain the same. While I was getting correct minimum bills in regard to my MIG flat in Phase II, Pocket III, Jhilmil, Delhi, ever since the issue was rectified, the latest bill has again shown a wrong amount of Rs 1760.

We visited the office on 19.4.02 to seek rectification and reiterated the fact that the flat was unoccupied as no body was living there. It is simple to understand that the minimum amount has nothing to do with the sanctioned load.

Further, every time irrelevant remarks are made that the electric meter is faulty or is reverse reading, knowing well that the meter is not in use and the house is unoccupied.

I feel there is something fishy about the whole affair. I have not yet been given the bill duly rectified. Subsequently, the payment to the DVB is hanging fire due to the apathy of the DVB.

I expect that DVB will stop harassing people especially senior citizens like me and prove that DVB has become truly consumer friendly. I expect that the DVB will give up its habit of complicating matters and try to simplify things should any discrepancy ever arise inadvertently.

Will the Delhi Vidyut Board take note of my grievances and get the issue settled as soon as possible?

PREM PATHAK, Lodhi Colony, New Delhi.



Padyatra reaches Hathwala
Tribune News Service

Panipat, May 31
The 11-day “march-on-foot” to popularise organic farming and develop the Samalkha block as the Agri-Export Zone (AEZ) reached the Hathwala village today.

Led by Dr Jagveer Rawat, Chief Adviser of the HABITAT, an NGO, the 25-member contingent underlined the importance of the food processing industry, especially production of milk products, mushroom and baby corn. There was an interesting discussion between the farmers and scientists on the evolution of a “counter-guarantee” mechanism for the stabilisation of the prices of baby corn, mushroom, jaggery and turmeric.

A resolution was passed by the farmers to impress upon the state and union governments to provide a support of Rs 2,000 per acre to those farmers who wanted to shun the chemical-intensive farming. A progressive farmer from Adampur village in Hisar district, Mr Rajinder Godara, explained home-based methods of production of bio-manure and bio-pesticides.

The farmers also showed interest in evolving a comprehensive livestock development programme and urged the government to provide necessary facilities for the popularisation of Sahiwal breed of Indian cattle.



Kofi Annan asked to rein in Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Rewari, May 31
In an e-mail, Mr Amit Swami, president of the Young Men’s Association of Haryana, has urged the Secretary General of the UN, Mr Kofi Annan, to initiate stringent action against Pakistan to ensure that it curbed its sponsorship of cross-border terrorism, which has been playing havoc in Jammu and Kashmir and various other parts of India.

Mr Swami said that the recent tests of nuclear-capable missiles carried out by Pakistan despite a global call for de-escalation of tension were indicative of a hostile posture by Gen Pervez Musharraf. Making a special mention of the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York and the subsequent global support, including that of India, the USA received in its all-out war against the Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mr Swami impressed upon Mr Kofi Annan that at this critical juncture India too direly needed a solid UN and world support in its fight against Pak-sponsored cross-border terrorism. He also conveyed the sentiments of the youths of Haryana to Mr Annan saying that he must do the needful to fully remove the dark clouds of Pakistan’s proxy war hovering over India.

Fashion show

The Reflection Media will organise a ‘traditional’ fashion show at Darpan Cinema here on June 15. Giving this information here today, the chairperson of the Reflection Media, Ms Hitesh Rattan, informed that traditional dresses of the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Rajasthan would be showcased at the show. Big names in the model world, including Ajay Suri, Anu Mehta, Neetu Chandra and Amit Luthra will sashay down the ramp at the show, she added.

Sub-post office

The Postal Department has constructed a new sub-post office at Kharkhauda town in this district to provide postal facilities to the people of the town and its 50 neighbouring villages.

According to a report, the department has spent Rs 15 lakh on the construction of the building which will provide residential accommodation to the Postmaster of this office. The two-storeyed building consists of a community latrine also. The Postmaster General of Haryana will inaugurate the building tomorrow.

Sarpanches cut up

Resentment prevails among sarpanches of Gohana subdivision against the non-distribution of cheques by the office of the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Sonepat for the development works under various schemes launched by the state government. Many sarpanches alleged that the officials had harassed them on one pretext or the other and refused to distribute the cheques on Thursday.

Transfer urged

Representatives of various social and voluntary organisations today sent a memorandum to the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, demanding the immediate transfer of the Station House Officer (SHO) of the Women’s Police Station, Sonepat and a high-level probe into the allegations of harassment of visitors and aggrieved persons.

The memorandum also alleged that this police station had become a den of corruption and the police officials were minting money from the persons against whom the complaints are received. It further alleged that all the complaints made to the authorities concerned from time to time had fallen on deaf ears.

Wrestler’s murder

The alleged murder of Mr Rajdin, an international wrestler, took a new turn on Thursday when the Punjab Police took away both the alleged culprits with them for further interrogation. The suspects, Surinder and Virender, are brothers belonging to Ahir Majra village in this district. Mr Rajdin was allegedly shot dead by the do on April 26 when he had come to the village for attending a marriage party. One of them and the victim were the employees of Punjab Armed Police.

It is stated that one of the culprits had a dispute with the victim on the selection of the wrestlers about 18 months ago and this was the main reason behind the murder.

Dharna staged

The indefinite dharna launched by the retrenched workers of Hindustan Tin Works Limited near Dhaturi village in front of the company entered 29th day today. Mr Sunil Sharma, president of the workers union, alleged that the authorities of the Labour Department were in league with the management of the factory and this was why the dispute had not been settled so far. He said that a series of demonstrations had been held in front of the offices of the District Labour and Conciliation Officer and the Deputy Labour Commissioner, Panipat by the workers in support of their demands without any result. He urged the state government to intervene and resolve the ongoing dispute between the management and the workers immediately.



Car snatched at pistol point
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, May 31
Three unidentified armed persons reportedly snatched a Tata Indica on G. T. Road near Ganaur, about 20 km from here, from its owner on Thursday night. However, the police swung into action and succeeded in seizing it from near Jaipur (Rajasthan) within a few hours.

It is stated that the owner of the car was going to Ambala from Delhi. When he reached near Kundli village along the Haryana-Delhi border, three youths signalled to stop the car. When the car stopped, they told the owner that one of them was ill and they wanted a lift and the owner allowed them to enter his car.

When the car reached near Ganaur Chowk, they took out pistols and pushed him out of the car before they drove it away.

The owner of the car immediately informed the Ganaur police about the incident and the police swung into action and sealed the entire border. The police also informed the Delhi, UP, Punjab and Rajasthan police about the incident through the wireless system.

During search operations, the police spotted the car in a village near Jaipur and reportedly arrested the robbers. But the arrests of the robbers were yet to be confirmed. The police have registered a case against the highway robbers and further investigations are in progress.

The spate of vehicle thefts on G. T. Road and other state highways has caused panic among motorists and other residents. The officials of the Ganaur police have rushed to Jaipur for bringing the culprits to Ganaur for interrogation.



DVB engineer held for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 31
The Anti-Corruption Branch of the Delhi Government today arrested an Assistant Engineer of the DVB for demanding and accepting a bribe from a factory owner and resident of East Patel Nagar.

He allegedly accepted Rs 20, 000 from the complainant after threatening him with issuing inflated electricity bill to his factory. He was arrested red-handed while accepting the amount, the police said.

Mr Simarpreet Singh, the victim, lodged a complaint on Thursday with the Anti-Corruption Branch that a team of the DVB had visited his factory at A-69, Phase-I, Naraina Industrial Area for checking the electricity meter. The team left after doing its job, but Bishamber Nath, one of the members, remained there and reportedly threatened that he would send “exaggerated bill for the misuse of power and also get the electrical connection disconnected”. He reportedly demanded Rs 20,000 for not penalising the complainant on this ground. The sleuths of the branch laid a trap and arrested the suspect red-handed, the police said.

Drug racket: The Special Cell today claimed to have busted a racket in manufacturing and trading of spurious drugs with the arrest of two persons, Shankar Kumar Sahu and Madan Lal alias Gopal Choudhary. A large quantity of finished, semi-finished drugs, dyes, rubber stamps and machines were recovered from their possession.

The police also unearthed three factories, each one in Haryana, UP and Delhi. The owner of the Delhi factory, Madan Lal alias Gopal Choudhary, had already been arrested. Besides, owner of the factory in Haryana, Sachin Gupta, was arrested on May 26 and rollers used for printing “Ocid-20” and “Zydus Cadila” had been recovered. The printing press owner who used to print the foils of the medicines, Deepak Bhagat, and another printer, Ramesh Gupta, were also arrested. Rakesh Kumar and S. P. Choudhary, owners of the factory in UP, had absconded, the police said.

Guard killed: The guard on duty at the container depot in Tughlakabad, Manvar Singh (40), died after he was hit by a container-carrier, which was departing from the depot on Thursday night. He died on the spot. Manvar Singh used to keep the record of arrival and departure of vehicles at the depot. When the erring carrier was departing from the depot without making an entry, the guard tried to stop it but in the process was hit by the vehicle. The driver of the carrier has absconded. The case was being investigated, the police said. 



Man stabs sister-in-law to death

Sonepat, May 31
A young housewife, Mrs Rajwanti, was reportedly stabbed to death by the brother of her husband, Naresh alias Nesha, in her house on the Gudha road near Gita Vidya Mandir at Gohana town, about 35 km from here, on Thursday evening. According to a report, this followed a dispute over a plot between the suspect and his brother, Mr Ram Mehar, who had left his house for Saudi Arabia a month ago. The suspect had given Rs 20,000 to his brother but the latter was not satisfied with this amount for the plot. It is alleged that the suspect along with his associate forced their way into the house and stabbed his sister-in-law to death in the presence of her three children. The Gohana police have registered a case and further investigations are in progress. The alleged culprits are still at large. OC



Lax security makes banks sitting ducks
Parmindar Singh

Noida, May 31
About 106 banks have their branches in Noida, a town which has made a name for itself for being a highly developed industrial area.

Ironically, in the area that does not have an enviable record in maintaining the law and order, one police constable is responsible for providing security to six banks on an average. Under the standard norms, two policemen are normally detailed for security at each bank branch.

Of the 106 banks, some 34 function without a security guard at all, 26 out of them are in the rural areas while eight are in the urban localities. Another 21 branches are located in Sector-18, the Connaught Place of Noida.

The biggest bank branch is of course the State Bank of India in Sector-2 where transactions of crores take place daily.

The private security guards are, however, available with some banks where security alarm is also in place.

The city SP Vijay Bhushan is of the opinion that patrolling by the police takes care of the security of banks.

In Noida, hundreds of businessmen in Sector-18 market, managers of large industrial houses and factories and farmers who have struck rich with fat amounts received as land compensations, have transactions in crores of rupees every day.

It calls for an effective system of security in the town.


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