Sunday, August 25, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


MRTPC notice to Gurgaon builder
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
Picture this. You enter into an agreement with a private developer to buy a two-room flat for Rs 10 lakh in an apartment complex. You begin paying the installments. Even as the construction work is on, the builder makes certain structural modifications to add one room. Pay for the third room now or your allotment stands cancelled, you are told. Should you feel cheated?

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) is inquiring into a similar complaint filed against DLF Universal. What engages the attention of the Commission is: Can a builder cancel the allotment of space on the ground of refusal by the buyer to pay for excess area? Does that amount to an unfair trade practice ? The Commission is learnt to have issued a notice to DLF Universal and sought a reply. The matter will be heard next month.

Akhilesh Singh (name changed) enters into an agreement to buy a certain commercial space in DLF City Centre in Gurgaon, Haryana. He begins paying the instalments. He is then told the saleable area of the building has been increased and an additional amount will have to be remitted as per the new payment plan immediately. Thirty days time is given.

After the lapse of a few months (in the interim both parties send and receive communication), DLF Universal dispatches a letter demanding payment of the extra amount at a higher rate of (penal) interest and also intimidating that on payment default, the allotment shall be cancelled.

The complaint is the agreement is biased. It allows the builder to increase the area, compelling the allottee to give up his claim. The buyer has no option but to either pay more or lose his allotment. The Commission is examining in particular the relevant clauses in the agreement that are allegedly against public policy.

One of the ‘controversial’ clauses reads : “[If the buyer’s written consent or objections to the changes are not received within 30 days] the intending allottee shall be deemed to have given his/her full and unconditional consent to all such alterations / modifications and for payments, if any, to be paid in consequence thereof.”

Another of the clauses states the builder reserves the right to correct, modify, amend or change all the annexures attached to this agreement and also annexures which are indicated to be tentative at any time prior to conveyancing of the said premises, as deemed necessary by the intending seller at its sole discretion.”

The Commission is studying if the agreement can be manipulated according to the whims and fancies of the builder. Also if the clauses in the agreement are a ploy to cheat the intending buyers. Furthermore, it is investigating the charge against DLF Universal that it is making huge profits at the cost of the allottees, who are being compelled to give up their claim, by making use of their money that is received at a low rate of interest and selling it to a third party at a higher rate.


Court hauls up officer in Shivani case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
In yet another embarrassment, the Investigating Officer of the Delhi Police in the Shivani Bhatnagar murder case was hauled up in a Delhi court for not following the directives and the legal procedures laid down by the Supreme Court.

The court voiced its displeasure when it found out that Investigating Officer Inder Singh did not follow the court's directives and get the accused Pradeep Sharma medically examined before taking him outstation. The accused, Pradeep, was arrested allegedly for his complicity in the murder of journalist Shivani Bhatnagar and is presently in judicial remand. Metropolitan Magistrate J P Narayan said: ''Even the procedure laid down by the Supreme Court to get an accused examined every 24 hours was not followed,'' Mr Narayan said. He said the accused was at liberty to file a contempt petition in the High Court or the Supreme Court.

During the course of investigation the accused was taken to Mandawali, Jhajjar and Gurgaon. But he was not medically examined during the period,'' Pradeep’s counsel Mr D B Goswami said in a petition filed on August 12. Goswami said that after consulting his client, he might file a contempt petition in the Supreme Court. Pradeep was arrested on August two and produced before the court the next day. ``He was medically examined twice on August three, before and after he was produced in the court for a police remand.’’

''Again Pradeep was examined by a doctor on August six, after a lapse of more than three days,'' the counsel said.


MHA seeks detailed report on ‘molestation’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The Ministry of Home Affairs has sought a detailed report about the incident involving Additional Commissioner of Police, R. K. Sharma, a 1977 batch IPS officer, who is at present lodged in Dehra Dun Jail on the charge of criminally assaulting his servant’s wife.

Since Mr R.K. Sharma is an IPS officer, only the MHA is competent to take action against him. But no action has so far been taken as the MHA is waiting for a detailed report of the Uttaranchal Government.

Mr. R.K. Sharma, who was on a holiday in the Uttaranchal capital, was arrested yesterday after his caretaker-cum-servant alleged that he had raped his 27-year-old wife while he was away to the market to buy groceries.

According to reports reaching the police headquarters here, the police officer had earlier in the day picked up a quarrel with a manager of restaurant in the city where he had gone to have lunch. It was alleged that he was under the influence of liquor and the restaurant manager objected to his behaviour.

Later, he went home and slept. In the evening he reportedly asked his servant to go and buy groceries. While he was away, he summoned the servant’s wife and asked her to wash some clothes in the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom. It was then that he reportedly molested her.

When the servant returned and found out about the incident, he was livid. Such was his anger that the officer himself summoned the police.

Sources said that this was not the first time that the Delhi Police officer had had a brush with the local police. Some time back he is alleged to have assaulted a local scribe and the case is still hanging fire in the local courts.

Mr. Sharma was also involved in an unsavoury incident involving another senior Delhi Police officer several years ago in the New Police Lines, Kingsway Camp, where both of them were neighbours. Sharma had taken umbrage at his neighbour raising the height of the fencing around his house and had whisked out his revolver. The matter was subsequently sorted out with the intervention of senior Delhi Police officers.

Mr. R. K. Sharma, a former Emergency Commission officer, joined the DANICS cadre and was subsequently given 1977 batch seniority in the Indian Police Service.


Eve-teaser caught in the act, gets third-degree
on buffalo
Prem Pal Singh

Meerut, August 24
A local Shiv Sena activist was paraded on a buffalo with his head tonsured, his face smeared and a garland of chappals dangling from his neck. His crime: He was caught red-handed while teasing a lady teacher by her two brothers in the Civil Lines area here today.

Women residents of Aryanagar joined the procession en route and beat the offender with chappals. The incident occurred at 11 am.

One of the brothers, Manish, lodged an FIR against the Shiv Sena activist, identified as Rajendra Saxena, for allegedly teasing his sister. In fact, this aspirant for a municipal councillor’s post had been stalking the teacher for several weeks and passing lewd comments. Other women residents of the area, who had allegedly been at the receiving end too, gave vent to their ire against the offender. Some of them complained that he had been making lewd phone calls when they were alone.

Following constant harassment, the teacher, Paramjit (name changed), complained to her brothers, Manish and Rajiv, about the Shiv Sena activist. The brothers had been looking for the culprit for a week. They were escorting the teacher on her way back from school when they noticed Rajendra Saxena passing some lewd comments. She raised an alarm and her brothers grabbed Saxena and brought him to Aryanagar.

On hearing the news of the `catch,’ residents of the area spilled into the street. They then shaved his head in the shape of a cross, painted his face black and garlanded him with chappals and shoes. They also arranged a buffalo and made him sit on it. They took him out in a procession with women raining chappals on the offender, as if to break the monotony.

Hearing the news, the police rushed to the spot and took the suspect into custody.

The Shiv Sena city president, Mr Jaipal Singh Rathore, told the ‘NCR Tribune’ that Rajendra Saxena was an active member of the party. He also had been an aspirant to the post of councillor of the Municipal Corporation from Ward 53.

Mr Rathore informed press persons that Rajendra Saxena had tried committing suicide by consuming a poisonous substance three to four months back, following a love affair that turned sour. He was then admitted to a nursing home and the party had helped him recoup as he was a member.


Six trade tax officials booked for action
against Dalit
Parmindar Singh

Ghaziabad, August 24
On explicit instructions of the government, a case has been filed in the Vijay Nagar police station against six trade tax officials for allegedly barging into the house of a Dalit, looting his valuables and showering caste invectives on the inmates.

Ram Ratti, wife of Het Ram of Krishan Nagar Baggu, stated in her report last night that trade tax officers B. P. Singh, Sanjeev Rai, Sanjeev Mohan, V. Singh, R. K. Pandit and Manoj Tripathi had looted Rs 30,000, a gold ring, a cell phone and other valuables from her house on August 4. The officials had also allegedly used abusive language, beaten them up and taken Ram Ratti's son Raj Kumar along with them. Then, they had demanded some money for releasing him. Police sources said that this report had been registered on clear instructions from the government high-ups.

Significantly, the trade tax officials had on August 4 reportedly seized a truck which was transporting copper wires clandestinely. Following the seizure, the trade tax officials had registered a case in the Vijay Nagar police station against the owner of Tomar Transport Company and Het Ram's son Rajkumar and another transporter, Narinder, of Ferozabad. Both the accused had been sent to jail where they are still lodged.

According to some officials, who did not wish to be identified, the administration had allegedly pressurised the police to register a fudged case against the government officials simply because the accused happened to be a Dalit.


Errant telecom manager fined
Nawal Kishore Rastogi

Rewari, August 24
The Rewari District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has ordered Mr Ravi Goel, Telecommunication Divisional Manager, Rewari, to pay a fine of Rs 5,000 after holding him guilty under Section 27 of the Consumer Protection Act on a petition filed by Shamsher Singh, a resident of Khaliyawas village. In case of default on payment of fine, the Telecommunication Divisional Manager (TDM) shall have to undergo imprisonment for one month.

In its verdict, the forum specifically mentioned that the respondent (TDM) had failed to comply with its order dated July 30, 2001, and as such made himself liable for punishment under Section 27 of the Act. In its July 30, 2001, order on a previous complaint by Mr Shamsher Singh, the forum had found the TDM guilty of being negligent and deficient in providing departmental facilities available to telephone subscribers in rural areas and had directed him to provide the aforesaid facilities, refund the excess amount charged from Mr Shamsher Singh (by way of treating him as a subscriber of urban area instead of rural area) and also to pay Rs 100 in costs to the complainant. Consequently, the TDM, vide his official letter (dated August 1, 2001), had informed Mr Shamsher Singh that Rs 1,310 was charged in excess and promised to adjust the same in future bills. Simultaneously, rural benefits (as per departmental provisions) were also made available to the complainant.

Besides, a sum of Rs 100 was also paid as cost.

However, Mr Shamsher Singh’s phone was disconnected on October 29, 2001, due to non-payment of bills even though the authorities owed him Rs 1310. This was done allegedly because the telecom authorities were peeved at the above order of the forum. The connection was restored only on November 29, 2001, following repeated requests by Mr Shamsher Singh.

In these circumstances, Mr Shamsher Sigh again filed a fresh petition under Sections 25 and 27 of the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 before the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum in December 2001. In its present order, the forum mentioned that it was of the considered view that the respondent had wrongly, illegally and without any basis disconnected the applicant's telephone after filing of an execution petition.


A demolition man who gives solace
Jatinder Sharma

Rohtak, August 24
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Yadav, has reiterated that all encroachments on government land in the district will be cleared within the coming three months.

Talking to NCR Tribune here today, he said the administration had no plans to sell government land which had been encroached upon. The administration was committed to removing all encroachments, he said.

The drive against encroachments in Sampla town will be launched next week after verification of the ownership title. Thereafter, it would be in Meham and other villages in the district.

It is a demolition drive with a difference. The Deputy Commissioner is trying to help those affected by his demolition drive. That is one big reason why people, even those whose shops or houses are being demolished, have no complaints against the administration. The political parties, which have tried to derive some mileage from the demolition drive, have been cold-shouldered by the citizens.

Mr Yadav told the NCR Tribune that so far he had provided alternate sites to over 40 petty shopkeepers, following the demolition of their shops. These people had also been provided financial assistance to construct shops at the new site.

A shop owned by a widow was among the 11 shops which were razed to the ground near the Jhajjar road octroi post on Friday evening. These shops were allegedly constructed on government land. Madhu Bala used to get Rs 1200 per month rent for the shop and she had no other source of income to feed her children.

But as soon as the Deputy Commissioner learnt about the miserable plight of the widow, he requested the President of Shiksha Bharti School, Mr Pritam Ahuja, to provide employment to her as a peon with a monthly salary of Rs 2000, plus free education to her two children. The uniform and books to her children will also be provided free by the school. This gesture on the part of the Deputy Commissioner and the school has been widely appreciated by the people.

The Deputy Commissioner also plans to register criminal cases against property dealers and agents who had sold land to innocent people without any authorisation. The details of such cases are being verified, he said.

Following the removal of encroachments at the main chowks, the roads have been widened by at least 15 to 20 feet. The drive, he said, would continue till every inch of government land was freed from the encroachers.


Bhajan parties keep crowd waiting with CM’s paeans
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, August 24
`Bhajan parties’, better known as entertainment groups, employed by the Public Relations Department of Haryana, are proving their worth. Their importance is manifest at any function where the Chief Minister or any important functionary of the state government is present.

These parties, usually comprising five to ten persons, reach the venue about three to four hours before the programme is to begin. They play a key role in keeping the people glued to the venue till the chief guest arrives. If the chief guest is the Chief Minister or a minister, the chances are he would invariably be late.

In each group there are about four or five singers who are not only adept in folk music but are also born pranksters. While they provide light entertainment initially, the Bhajan Mandalis have also the expertise in propagating the programmes and schemes of the state government.

Through songs, the people are told what new programmes or schemes had been launched for their benefit. They also don’t forget to praise the Chief Minister, showering all kinds of epithets to paint him as a demigod.

At a function at Bhulwana village in Hodal sub-division today, the Bhajan party again came handy.

The party members recited dozens of jokes, songs and bhajans about the achievements of the Chautala government. The party was able to keep the people stick to their seats for about three hours as the CM, who was scheduled to arrive at 12.30 pm, was late by about 90 minutes.

The organisers of the function also used the services of a former sarpanch of Aurangabad village in the district who entertained the gathering with his rustic jokes and satiric tales about fashion and culture. Officials of the Public Relations Department also made sure that the crowd gave a huge applause when the CM arrived on stage.

There are at least 20 members in the Bhajan Mandali or party who are full-time employees of the department here. A special vehicle transports the mandali to the venues of every programme that takes place in the district.


Officers adept at disappearing act
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, August 24
A majority of government officers in this city and elsewhere are public servants only in name. Their irresponsible attitude towards the public at large has caused widespread resentment. According to a report, the `Janata Darbar’ timings, fixed at 11 am, are never adhered to by most of the officers, particularly those from the Irrigation, PWD (B & R), Public Health, Industry, Agriculture, Veterinary, Labour and Employment, and the Food and Supplies Department as well as the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA).

The officers disappear from their workplace just a few minutes before the fixed hours on one pretext or the other. The visitors get the usual reply from their subordinates that the boss has gone to attend some urgent meeting. Many officers sit just for one hour in their offices only to sign the urgent office papers. For most of them the day is over after lunch.

Contacting them at their residences has become an uphill task for people, particularly mediapersons. The stock response at home is that the boss is in the field or in the bathroom. 


Sonepat farmers plagued by problems galore
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, August 24
The apathy of the government towards farmers has made their situation pitiable. Plagued by repeated failure of the crops, the farmers are facing an acute resource crunch.

A survey of the villages reveals that most of the farmers who had planted paddy in their fields are in a dilemma now. A prolonged dry spell has made their task difficult. The farmers, who are dependent on canal water for irrigation, complain
that they are not getting sufficient water to save the paddy crop, while the farmers
who have to depend on tubewells are facing an acute shortage of power. Cracks have developed in many of the paddy fields.

Farmers are forced to use tractors to run tubewells, raising the cost of production. Others have installed new pumps by arranging loans from the banks, but even they do not have much hope for their crops in the absence of rains.

Experts say if the present dry spell continues for another week the total yield of paddy this year is likely to decrease by nearly 50 per cent. The situation is such that most of the farmers have decided to abandon half of their land under paddy cultivation as they feel that with the given resources they would be happy if they could save the other half of their paddy crops.

Most of the farmers are trapped in heavy debts. Marginal farmers are sitting on the edge of poverty. Even affluent farmers have been rendered defaulters by the failure of crops over the years. Many of the farmers owe big amounts of money to nationalised banks, mini-banks and arhtiyas. The interest on the amount of tractor loans and the agricultural
equipment has crossed the principal amount.

Now, even the arhtiyas have started refusing further loans to the farmers who are finding it difficult to arrange for fertilisers and pesticides. They way things are going there is apprehension that the situation may become as bad as that in Andhra Pradesh and Punjab where farmers have been committing suicide in large numbers.

Meanwhile, drought-like conditions prevail in the villages falling under the jurisdiction of the Rai Water Service Division and Samalkha subdivision following the erratic supply of canal water even during the rotation period. Many farmers allege that the water does not reach their fields at the tail-end.


Sariska - A must-see for an encounter with the big cat
Our Correspondent

Sariska, one of North India’s famous wildlife sanctuaries, was the hunting reserve of the erstwhile Maharajas of Alwar. It was taken over under Project Tiger in 1979 from whereon it has become a must-see for those wishing to catch the glimpse of the wild.

Located 107 km from Jaipur and 200 km from Delhi, Sariska lies amid the Aravalli hills, covering a total of 498 sq km. Spring time decorates the valley with a scarlet flame as flowers come to a full bloom. When the scorching summer sun blazes the scarlet to a listless brown the monsoon showers brush the scenery a lush green. Each season in Sariska has its own charm.

The dry, deciduous and thorn forests of Sariska support an increasing population of sambhar, nilgai, chausingha and cheetal. Predators include leopard, hyena, jungle cat, and jackal apart from tiger. One can also spot parakeets, grey partridges, golden backed woodpeckers, peafowls, crested serpent eagles and owls.

Though one can visit the sanctuary throughout the year, the best time to visit this beautiful countryside is between November and June. One can see the most of the animals in the evening though tiger sightings are becoming more common during the day.

Splendid ruins scattered in the vicinity of Sariska give it an added interest. There are places like the Neelkanth temples (6th-13th century AD), about 32 km away from the park. The historic Kankwari Fort inside the reserve is where Emperor Aurangzeb once imprisoned his brother, Dara Shikoh. A splendid palace complex built in 1902, with a ‘French’ pavilion and swimming pool, is now a hotel.

The other places of interest are:


The typical Sariska beat takes one to Pandupol. As legend goes, the Pandava brothers found the dense forest of the area a good place to hide in the 13th year of their exile.


On the outskirts of the sanctuary are the rarely visited breathtaking ruins of Bhangarh. In 1631, an extensive city was established here by Madho Singh, younger brother of Akbar’s famous general, Man Singh. Especially noteworthy are Bhangarh’s two temples - ornately carved in stone and marble with floral fringes, decorated walls, ceilings and pillars.


Kankwari is a picturesque fortress overlooking a lake, surrounded by forest-covered hills on all sides. It is believed that Dara Shikoh, heir to the Mughal throne, was held captive here. Neelkanth is a fortified temple town, which thrived seven centuries ago. The sculptured temples here have been compared to that of Khajuraho, testifying to a variety of religious cults - Hindu, Buddhist and Jain.


In a clearing above a dense palm grove are several ancient temples of indefinite antiquity. One can take a dip here in the sulphur springs.

Bhartrihari temple

There is a cenotaph of King Bhartrihari, who renounced the world 21 centuries ago and wandered these parts in penance. In the months of September/October, there is a fair held here and also an epic musical drama lasting six hours.

How to get there:

Sariska is a three-hour drive from Jaipur. There are frequent buses between Sariska and Alwar, which is 35 km away. From Jaipur, Sariska is 120 km away and it takes three hours by road. Jaipur is well connected by air, rail and road to most of the important cities in India.

Where to stay

One can stay either at the RTDC’s hotels at Sariska or for those wishing to indulge themselves in a grander locale there is Sariska Palace.

Tourists can also travel back to Alwar, which offers more means of accommodation. 


Chautala promises water for everyone in two years
Tribune News Service

Hodal (Faridabad), August 24
Every village of Haryana will get supply of potable water within the next two years and the availability of water is likely to touch 55 litres per person per day in this period. This was stated by the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, after laying the foundation stone of a water supply scheme at Bhulwana village here today. The scheme is likely to cost Rs 19.70 lakh.

Addressing a gathering, Mr Chautala claimed that several schemes aimed at augmenting water supply and constructing new projects were on and said the problem of water shortage would be removed within two years. He said efforts were on to provide adequate water for irrigation too.

Describing the Supreme Court order on the construction of SYL canal, he said Haryana would be able to get enough water to irrigate an additional 4.5 lakh hectares of land and the latter could generate a revenue of about Rs 500 crore annually.

About recruitment process for government jobs in the state, Mr Chautala claimed that merit would be given top priority. Admitting that government jobs had been shrinking, he said the government had been focussing its attention on industrialisation, as factories could generate large employment opportunities.

He said he had been laying foundation stone for schemes or inaugurating at least four or five projects in the state daily with the basic idea that the state should develop faster and provide opportunities of various kinds to the people.

Later, the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone of Transport Nagar in Sector 58 here. The administration claims that with the construction of this nagar, the problem of parking of heavy vehicles, including trucks, could be solved to a large extent. The sector is located about 15 km from Faridabad town toward Palwal. The Transport Nagar is spread over 60 acres and will have about 200 shops, relating to automobiles, repairs and spare parts. It will accommodate over 600 trucks at a time. The Chief Minister also inaugurated the Community Centre in Sector 15-A here later.


Jhajjar ‘offers’ most martyrs for J&K cause

Jhajjar, August 24
Jhajjar had attained the “glory” of being top among other districts in India with the largest number of 26 Army soldiers killed during ‘Operation Rakshak’, launched in Jammu and Kashmir against cross-border terrorists, hailing from the district. This was disclosed by Mr Mohinder Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, while paying rich tributes at the pyre of Sepoy Bhim Singh of 3rd Jat Regiment in Sehlanga village, 40 km from here, today.

The funeral of martyr Bhim Singh was performed with full state honours and military decorum.

As per the information received here, Sepoy Bhim Singh had an encounter with militants on August 21 night at 10.15 in Lasana village near Poonch in which he killed two militants. Unfortunately, he and his colleague Babu Lal lost their lives in the encounter. The militants killed included two Sudanese and one Afghan national. They were reportedly deputed to disturb peace in the valley by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Mr Kumar further stated that the state government would provide a grant of Rs 2.50 lakh, as per the Haryana police, to the next of kin of Sepoy Bhim Singh.

On the occasion, he gave Rs 11,000 to Mrs Manju, wife of the late sepoy, through the Red Cross Society. Mr Nafe Singh Rathee, MLA from Bahadurgarh, Narender Deswal, chairman of the Zila Parishad, SDM, DDPO, DPRO and villagers were among those who laid wreaths on the body of Bhim Singh.


Gupta for larger public participation in policing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The Delhi Police Commissioner, Mr R. S. Gupta, today called for a larger public participation with the police and felt that excessive reliance on the police could not solve all the law and order problems in the city.

Mr Gupta, while addressing a discussion organised by a non-government organisation, Delhi Study Group, said the job of the police was undoubtedly maintaining law and order and providing security to the citizens, but the purpose could not be served by putting extra pressure and depending too much on the police.

Schemes like neighbourhood watch scheme, which involved the general public, should be promoted as these would not only reduce pressure on the police but would also help in improving the security scenario.

‘’With the emergence of cyber crimes, the crime scenario in the city is changing and the problems could be dealt with only with the active participation of the people,’’ he said, adding there was a need to educate the people about law and order management.

Delhi Development Authority Vice-Chairman P. K. Hota, Delhi Vidyut Board Chairman Jagdish Sagar and representatives of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and the National Commission of Women (NCW) also took part in the discussions.

It concluded that instead of raising figures at authorities, people should come forward to assist the administration in sorting out the problems. Mr Hota felt that Delhi was more green than any other city and stressed the need for supporting schemes like Bhagidari.

Talking about the power crisis in the Capital, Mr Sagar said Delhi did not face any power production problem, but what it lacked was the proper distribution of power. ‘’We have been facing huge distribution losses. But things would improve in the next five-six years,’’ he hoped. 


Call to establish Book Development Council 
Our Correspondent

New Delhi, August 24
The decline in the reading habits, thanks to the invasion of television and the Internet, has been a reason to worry not just for the publishers but also for the academicians and the intelligentsia.

However, if reports are to be believed, with the increase in literacy rate in the country from 35 per cent to 65 per cent, the demand for books has increased. What is even more heartening is that the trend is not confined to the elite alone. This was pointed out by senior BJP leader, Mr V.K. Malhotra, while inaugurating the 8th Delhi Book Fair here today.

Speaking on the occasion, he stressed the need for establishing a Book Development Council to co-ordinate among different departments and make concerted efforts to make books available to all people, especially in rural areas, through book fairs and libraries. He added that such a council, should have representatives from the departments of Culture, Education, Communication and Human Resource Development. He also pointed out that the government was also considering making changes in the MP’s Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) rules, to enable them to purchase books and open more libraries in their constituency.

Under the current rules, MPs can spend the fund for construction of a library building but not on purchase of books, almirahs, librarian or other staff. The BJP leader said that he had spoken to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, asking him to change the rules, allowing each of the 800 MPs to open libraries in their areas. That would go a long way in meeting the needs of the people, he added.

Emphasising that books play a crucial role in the development of personality, he said the government should provide subsidy to the publishing sector to make books accessible to a vast majority of the population.

The proposals for holding book fairs throughout the year should also be favourably considered as it allows people to visit them any time of the year. Giving reasonable discounts to visitors would ensure that more people would buy books, it was pointed out. Emphasising the need for providing quality books to those in the rural areas, he said this could be achieved by keeping the book-post rate low and opening more public libraries. 


Onam: Festive time in God’s own country

It is festival time in God’s own country, Kerala. Onam celebrated by Hindus, Christians and Muslims and all else is an integrating factor in the state’s social life. Not only that, Malayalees all over the country and abroad irrespective of their caste and creed nostalgically look forward to their Onam holidays every year. The widely accepted celebrations have acquired the stature of a national festival.

According to legend, the festivities point to the visit of the Asura King, Mahabali, every year to his kingdom to satisfy himself about the welfare of his subjects. The story of Mahabali and his righteous rule are too well-known to need repetition. Poets have sung in praise of the equality, justice and righteousness that prevailed under his rule, which even caused jealousy among his rivals. The king who was determined to keep his word to the deceptive Vamana (the Lord in disguise) even at the risk of losing his kingdom is a perfect example in integrity. His love for the subjects and keenness to promote their welfare contrasts with the democratic rulers of duty, who need to learn a lesson or two from the Asura king.

This time of the year, Kerala is virtually a green carpet; it is like a huge watered garden. There is freshness in the air and Nature is at its vigorous best. It is harvesting time and this harvest festival is a total expression of the people to the Lord of Creation. The first fruits are offered to Him.

Wherever men believe in God, there is this natural outflow of gratitude to God for the bountifulness of Nature. The farmer may prepare the field, plant the seed and provide water and fertilizer in due season. The yield will still be dependent on factors outside his control. It is apparent that the Creator sill determines the extent of the yield. Indeed, it is the Lord who “giveth the increase”.
The prosperous and joyous mood of Kerala around this season is in contrast to the hard realities of life. Agriculture production is on the decline, the farmers are deep in debt; the employment scenario is pathetic and the state is facing a financial crunch. All these do not dampen the enthusiasm of the people. This year, specially in the context of the Kumarakam boat tragedy which claimed many lives, the state has cancelled all official celebrations.

Whether rich or poor, everyone makes an effort to bring cheer to their families; for a while they forget their battles for survival and fall in line with the general mood. The great bonhomie and togetherness this festival generates is very remarkable. It brings about a momentary cohesion, which could be a marvel even to behavioural scientists.

All buses, trains and planes are heavily booked. People are heading homeward from the nooks and corners of this nation, nay, even the world. Brothers and sisters, husbands and wives, children and parents who live away from one another for unavoidable reasons choose Onam for their homecoming. It has an emotional appeal that binds people together not on the basis of religious sentiments but on more humane basis.

The Onam feast is a notable feature of the celebrations. Served on banana leaves, non-Malayalees invited to such feasts by friends retain in their taste buds memories of the vegetarian fare all their lives. Generous Malayalees usually invite neighbours to the friendly meal.

In this rural festival, there is the custom of the landlords and tenants and labourers exchanging gifts, in the form of farm products and clothes. This is a gesture of cordiality between the employees and employers. This may today appear to be an anachronism in a state where trade unionism has taken a militant posture and had irretrievably damaged the investment climate.

In the urban setting, Onam celebration is bound to provide an opportunity to promote good neighbourliness and hospitality. For the Malayalee, it is a good occasion to express friendship and goodwill to people around. All the metropolitan cities witness numerous cultural shows featuring Kerala’s arts and crafts.

Like other major festivals, Onam also promotes consumerism. The business community is always quick to seize such opportunities for selling their items through aggressive ad campaigns. Sellers of consumer durables like television sets, refrigerators, washing machines, music systems and the like announce attractive discounts to lure buyers. For employees who receive bonus and festival advances, shopping becomes irresistible. A leading English daily carried a full front page advertisement of a jewellery firm. Another notable Malayalam daily carried four pages of Onam greetings from individuals, small business houses and professionals yielding sizeable revenue. The shopkeepers and mela organisers reap a rich harvest.

The Kerala state lottery, in its Onam special bumper 2002, offers the first prize of Rs 2 crore. Millions perhaps will buy this passport (priced at Rs 50) to prosperity and wait for the draw date of August 29 with bated breath. The state’s people are proud of their traditions and their achievements in the field of literacy, education, social equality and health. But how long will they have to wait for the kind of economic prosperity ushered in by Mahabali in his reign? This is a challenge that is facing the government and the people.

So long as there is life, there is hope. 
Rid of its materialistic aspects, there is much to commend about the way Onam celebrations bring about harmony and brotherhood within its pluralistic society.

M. P. K. Kutty


Man killed for ‘disturbing’ inmate at odd hour
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The Delhi Police arrested a person, identified as Harun Khan, on charge of attempt to murder. The suspect allegedly stabbed Charan Singh who had gone to meet his brother-in-law in the jhuggi cluster in Nangloi on Friday night. Reportedly, Harun Khan got angry when Charan Singh mistakenly knocked on his door. Charan Singh was looking for his brother-in-law, Rajender, who lives in the neighbourhood of the accused. Angry at being disturbed at the odd hour, Harun Khan stabbed Charan Singh. The victim was admitted to a nearby hospital, the police said.

Suicide committed

A person identified as Om Prakash Saroj (25), reportedly committed suicide by hanging from a ceiling fan yesterday night in a hotel in Paharganj. He was staying in room number 302 of Krishna Palace hotel. A suicide note was recovered which stated that nobody should be held responsible for his death. He had entered an address of Azamagarh in the hotel register which was being verified, the police said.

Result declared

The Delhi Police has declared the result of the written examination held on August 18 for the post of constable (Dog Handler). Of the total number of 183 candidates who had appeared for the written examination, 97 have qualified for interview. The result has been displayed at all police district offices, units and headquarters, a press release said.

Dowry death

Jaswanti (28) was allegedly burnt to death by her in-laws in Ambedkar Nagar area of South district today. She was married to Rajesh in 1992 and had three children. The youngest child is eight months’ old. Her husband had a PCO in Ambedkar Nagar.

She had been allegedly harassed by her in-laws for dowry. She was allegedly burnt after an argument with her in-laws. She was admitted to Safdarjang hospital.


Student shot dead by four

A student was shot dead by four motorcycle-borne assailants in Sector 1 here this afternoon. The deceased has been identified as Narender Rathi, a resident of the same sector. He was going to the town on his scooter at around 12 noon along with his friend Pradeep of Kharhar village. Four youths, on two motorcycles, intercepted his vehicle near a culvert. OC


Transport trade fair from September 2
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
Transport India 2002, the international trade fair for transport and logistics sector showcasing the latest developments and technology of the new millennium, would be held from September 2-4 at Pragati Maidan here.

The trade fair has been conceptualised, planned and executed by Interads Limited in cooperation with IMAG-international exhibition and fair services, a subsidiary of Messe Munchen. Interads Limited is India’s largest infrastructure related exhibition organiser and has to its credit established exhibitions in telecom, water, power sector apart from transport.

IMAG has over five decades of experience in the international trade fair business and has been involved with fairs in India since 1988.

Transport India 2002, will bring together government and trade body officials, infrastructure development organizations, airlines, service companies, warehousing agents, logistics operators, importers, exporters, terminal operators, financiers, insurance companies and legal professionals.

The transport fair will pave the way for dynamic interaction amongst them that will lead to a new awareness of the trends and advances.

An impressive number of Indian and foreign companies would be participating in the exhibition. The industry majors like Container Corporation of India Ltd (CONCOR), Cummins Auto Services Ltd, Central Warehousing Corporation, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd, Indian Roads Congress, Transport Corporation of India Ltd, Southeastern Roadways, Geodis, Nitco Roadways Ltd, Aerospace Systems Pvt Ltd, Wilson Sindhu Logistics (India) Ltd, Nexgen Logistics, Aeroflot, Om Logistics Ltd, NECC Logistics,

Gujarat Maritime Board, Safexpress Pvt Ltd, Gati Limited, Blazeflash Couriers Pvt Ltd, Emirates Sky Cargo, Mobi Apps etc., would be present in the exhibition.

The trade fair will focus on logistics and technology concepts for passenger and freight transport on water, land and in the air. The fair will provide several opportunities to exhibitors and delegates to interact with government bodies, international experts and practitioners in the industry. Participants will thus be in a position to directly make new contacts, create business development opportunities and sales prospects.

A 3-day seminar focussing on issues related to the industry will run parallel to the exhibition.

The seminar promises to provide a holistic view of the infrastructural and technological developments driving the transport and logistics sector. The seminar would also shed light on issues related to refrigerated transport systems, highway and bridge development, railway system, port installations, ship building and maintenance, airport maintenance, petrochemicals and lubricants, communications and telematics. Back


Supurti tea to be sold at govt outlets
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 24
The Delhi State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited has started marketing of Supurti, CTC Tea – a product of public sector company Balmer Lawrie and Company Limited. The Chairperson of the DSCSC, Ms Krishnalekha Sood, said that orders for Supurti Tea had been placed with the government supplier by LNJP Hospital and consumer cooperative stores.

The Himachal Pradesh Civil Supplies Corporation was also selling Supurti Tea through its outlets in Himachal, she said in a statement. Besides, the DSCSC has also started marketing Supurti triple-refined iodised salt at competitive prices. The product is available at outlets of various government bodies such as Kendriya Bhandar, Nafed and NCCF.

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