Saturday, September 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


600 jhuggis gutted
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
A four-year-old girl was killed and nine others, including women and children, were injured in a major fire which razed more than 600 jhuggis in the Shakarpur area of East Delhi.

A total of 35 fire tenders battled with the flames for over three hours before the blaze was brought under control. Several pockets, however, continued to smoulder till late in the evening even as the victims tried to salvage their household goods from the ashes.

Traffic on the ITO bridge and the adjoining roads was diverted to facilitate fire fighting operations. The commuters heading towards Laxmi Nagar and beyond had a harrowing time because of the subsequent snarls. It took a large posse of policemen several hours to restore order on the roads.

According to the Delhi Fire Service (DFS), the fire broke out in one of the jhuggis around 1.20 p.m. and soon spread to the adjoining ones. There was complete panic as occupants of the jhuggis scurried to safety with their belongings and then returned to salvage some more.

Most of the residents were inside their jhuggis when the fire broke out; some of them were enjoying their afternoon snooze. The four-year-old who died in the fire was identified as the daughter of Sapna Halder. Among those who were injured include five women, two children and two men.

While the police were still ascertaining the cause of the fire, the possibility of a short circuit or a spark from an open hearth having caused the fire could not be ruled out. Further investigations are continuing. The jhuggi clusters are a perpetual nightmare for the Delhi Fire Service personnel; in most cases inflammable material has been used to erect the shelters.

The DFS has repeatedly requested the authorities to relocate some of the clusters to prevent a major disaster. However, because of alleged political compulsions, various proposals for relocating these clusters continue to gather dust.


MCD spikes toll tax panel on the sly
Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has quietly dissolved the committee which was constituted to take a decision on the contentious issue of privatisation of toll tax. The slain councillor, Atma Ram Gupta, was the chairman of the committee.

While no reason has been given for the dissolution, sources in the MCD said that most of the members were rattled by the murder of their colleague and wanted the matter to cool down before they deliberated on the issue. Also, the corporators were waiting for the police to conclude its investigations into the murder, which many still believe was carried out at the behest of the tender mafia. The latter had high stakes in the proposed privatisation.

The proposal to privatise the toll tax department of the corporation was passed by the Standing Committee, an apex decision making body of the MCD. It was felt in some quarters that privatisation would result in increase in revenue and fall in expenditure. The toll tax committee was specifically told to determine whether privatisation would be beneficial to the corporation.

The privatisation proposal came under a cloud following allegations that it could be one of the factors in the Atma Ram murder case.

According to Leader of opposition in the MCD, Subhash Arya, the dissolution of the committee is a violation of the MCD Act. It is pointed out that the panel in question was constituted by the Standing Committee and only the latter has the power to dissolve it. Neither the municipal commissioner nor the chairman of the Standing Committee is vested with any such power. Before taking any such decision, the resolution should have been tabled in the meeting of the apex committee.

Mr Arya alleged that the dissolution of the committee would reinforce the belief that the tender mafia had a hand in the murder of Atma Ram, even though Sharda Jain had confessed to having had him killed.

Atma Ram Gupta was whisked away allegedly by Sharda Jain in her car from a Congress rally at Ferozeshah Kotla and taken to Ghaziabad, where he was shot dead by a number of contract killers. Two of them are still absconding. Sharda Jain and her brother Raj Kumar have been arrested. The third accomplice, who was lodged in Aligarh Jail in connection of another case, had been taken into custody by the Delhi police a few days back. The police have alleged that the murder plot of Atma Ram was hatched a few months ago.

The police are still questioning a number of persons in the case and probing all other angles.


Entrepreneurs rebuffed at help camp
Parmindar Singh

Noida, September 20
"If you can't set up factories in plots allotted to you, better surrender them to the authority. We have a long list of applicants waiting for allotment of such plots".

This was the terse response of a senior Noida official when entrepreneurs of Sector-65 attended a camp organised by the authority, ostensibly to sort out their problems. The CEO of Noida, Mr D S Bains, had especially instructed that a camp be held to resolve the problems of allottees, on receipt of complaints from them.

About a dozen allottees of Sector-65 had registered their complaints at the camp, but were extremely disappointed at the end of the day. According to them, entrepreneurs have been knocking on the doors of the Noida Authority for the last 7 years, but their problems persist.

"The very officials who are the stumbling blocks are asked to sort out their problems in the camp", the entrepreneurs pointed out. They feel that senior and unbiased officers should conduct these camps.

Some 500 entrepreneurs had registered themselves for allotment of plots in 1997 by paying Rs 25,000 to Rs. 50,000 each as registration charge. At that time, the allotment rate was Rs. 1,200 per sq. metre. Some of them were able to get plots in Sectors 63 and 64 due to their "contacts". However, some 266 applicants were asked in 2001 to deposit a sum at the rate of Rs. 2,100 per sq metre instead of the original Rs. 1,200 per sq metre for allotment of plots in Sector-65.

The allottees complain that the Noida authority had incorporated some conditions in their allotment letters which had never been cited earlier. The allottees allege that they have been cheated at every step. The rates have been doubled in two years. Though sectors 63 and 64 have been developed fully, sector-65 is still incomplete. To top it, this allottees have been told to get the sale deed registered by December 31, 2002. They have written to the CEO, asking him to at least provide the basic infrastructure and amenities. They have also requested him to personally visit Sector-65.


Is it Gurgaon or Shivaji Park?
Ravi S.Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, September 20
The Maharashtrians are making their presence felt in this slowly emerging cosmopolitan city. They do not believe, it seems, in the saying “while in Rome, do as the Romans do”, for here in the city of Dronacharya also, they do what they do best at home–in Maharashtra.

Come ‘Ganesh Chaurathi’ and they paint the city red, celebrating the event in a grand though traditional style. Their relatives from the national Capital also make tracks for the city. All gather and add zing to the week-long celebrations, which have just concluded.

Mr Shashidhar Gajakosh, related to the Sarvajanik Ganeshotsav Samiti (SGS) that organised the cultural extravaganza this year, said that the celebrations have been organised every year for the past decade. The event would be celebrated on a larger scale in the coming years, he added.

This year’s colourful festivities began with the installation of an impressive five feet Ganesh idol, brought all the way from Gwalior.

The administrator of Ryan International School, Mr S.Chitnis, sponsored the idol. The ‘maha prasad’ was sponsored by the Managing Director of Trim India and Mr Chitnis. Devotees, mainly resident Maharashtrians, gathered every evening in Sector 14-–the venue of the celebrations--for the traditional ‘aarti’. About 250 kg ‘prasad’ (ladoo, modak, etc) was distributed daily.

The week-long celebrations were laced with a smorgasbord of cultural programmes every evening.

The first day witnessed a "Bhajan Sandhaya" featuring Pankaj Jaswani from Delhi. The former Air Chief Marshal, Mr A.Y.Tipnis, and the former Air Marshal, Mr C.K.S.Raje, participated as Chief Guests on the occasion.

The second day was a euphonic treat. It heard a "Sangeet Variety Programme", organised by Dr Madhavi Vaidya Group from Pune.

The third day evoked guffaws. A "Hasya Kavi Sammelan" was organised in which a number of known poets like Dr Manu Dixit, Praveen Shukla, Bhopu, Jhala, Raj Gopal Singh made their recitations, enough to make a cat laugh.

The fourth day witnessed a cultural programme for the young talented children of Gurgaon. The children enthralled the audience with patriotic songs, tabla vaadan, skits, dandiya and lawani dances.

The fifth day heard an "orchestra" with a rich blend of music and dance by a group of Do-Re-Me from Delhi. The Chief Guest on the occasion was a former Governor of Nagaland, Mr O.P.Sharma. The colourful festival came to a close with the idol of Lord Ganesha, decorated with rose garland, taken out in an impressive procession as "Shobha Yatra".

The Yatra passed through the city streets amidst singing paeans of Lord Ganesha and chanting slogans like "Ganpati bappa moraya, pudicha vasshi luakar ya" (Hail Lord Ganesha, return again soon next year). Women participated in a large number and played dandiya and rendered devotional songs. Wearing orange caps, male devotees sprinkled ‘gulal’ and rose petals, all along on the processionists. The procession ended at Dum Dama lake where the idol was immersed amidst emotional scenes–some devotees were seen having misty eyes.


No end to DU impasse
Sanjog Gupta

New Delhi, September 20
The row between the UGC, the DUTA and the Vice-Chancellor over the issue of teachers’ workload has ensued for over a month now, with the ball being tossed back and forth. Each party has its reasons for taking an uncompromising stand.

The UGC reportedly sparked off the fight by acting upon the recommendations of the 9th report of the Expenditure Reforms Commission (ERC) which expected the universities to reduce their expenditure by 10 per cent. The UGC acted upon this recommendation by directing the universities to retrench 35 per cent of their teaching staff by increasing their workload, from 15 hours to 20 hours a week. The additional premise for this directive was the increasing number of teachers not adhering to the existing teaching workload norms and the “moving out of higher education from college premises into tuition centres, run by university teachers.”

The lack of academic understanding in the UGC ranks–pointed out by the ERC in para 2.28 of its 9th report as a weakness of the UGC secretariat–shone through in its reactionary directive. How could a directive increasing the teaching workload motivate teachers?

The DUTA, fearing unemployment, reacted strongly to this directive by calling for a strike, rather than focussing on the impractical nature of the directive. It took the wrong line of action by diverting attention towards the rigours of teaching.

The DUTA’s argument was that the profession of teaching could not be regulated by workload norms since a teacher spends a lot more time preparing for classes than in actually conducting classes. However, the reputation of teachers in Delhi University preceded this claim and did not find many takers.

“Lecturers come to class and dictate notes which have been re-cycled for the last five years as the courses have not been revised and they expect us to believe that they spend time preparing for these classes. The claim is laughable,” said a student of Hindu College.

The High Court had recently questioned the teachers’ adherence to their 1998 commitment of teaching, three hours a day, which they wholeheartedly accepted with an increase in salaries. 


Apathy afflicts Ayurvedic Department
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, September 20
While the Ayurvedic system of medicine, believed to be one of the most harmless treatment techniques, enjoys the patronage of the state government, the method has failed to catch on with the masses due to the mismanagement of affairs at the administrative level.

The Ayurveda, created as an independent department in the Ministry of Health in Haryana in 1986-87, has about 28 dispensaries in the district, but not many people are aware of it.

This is perhaps due to the fact that the department has been working mainly on paper and the practical work is quite poor. Of the total number of dispensaries, there are only 13 Ayurvedic officers posted in the district, while 10 posts have been lying vacant for past three to four years.

Moreover, about half of the dispensaries having a full-time doctor have failed to get the physicians to attend to the patients regularly. As a result, patients turn to private clinics or quacks operating in the rural areas.

It may be mentioned that all the 23 Ayurvedic dispensaries are located in villages. Besides, there are a Unani hospital, two Unani and one homeopathic dispensaries in the district.

But according to sources in the department, about 50 per cent of the posts of doctors, dispenser and trained ‘dai’ (nurse) are lying either vacant or the staff have failed to attend to their duties regularly.

The Ayurvedic dispensaries at Manjhavali Baroli, Malai, have no staff except safai karamchari or water carrier. The dispensaries at Badoli and Nangal Brahaman have only a ‘dai’. There is only one Ayurvedic dispensary in the town, functioning at the ESI hospital at NH-111 (NIT) here. Although there is the office of the district Ayurvedic officer at Sihi village here, there is no hospital or dispensary.

According to sources, the purchases of Ayurvedic drugs are made at Kurukshetra for the state, but the quality of drugs and medicines is not always up to the mark. Some of the substandard drugs, kept in a dispensary, had to be destroyed a couple of years ago.

It is learnt that few people visit these dispensaries in the villages due to unavailability of the doctor or the medicine. This leads patients to quacks. Many of the sick persons are taken to clinics and hospitals in urban areas due to improper functioning of the Primary Health Centres or dispensaries, said a resident of Fatehpur Billauch, a village in the district.

He claimed that whenever there was a need, especially during odd hours, no government doctor was available in the village.

To cap it, the post of District Ayurvedic Officer (DAO) is also being held as an additional charge by the DAO of Gurgaon district.

It is learnt that the government spends a fortune on the Ayurvedic and Unani treatment in the district. This includes Rs 13.94 lakh on running Ayurvedic dispensaries, Rs 5.60 lakh on homeopathic and Rs 13.79 lakh on Unani system of medicine. The staff on these dispensaries account for about Rs 6 lakh per year.

It is reported that the state government sanctions a higher budget for the Ayurvedic compared to the allopathic medicines.




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

Apropos of the NCR Tribune News Service’s feature, “Mt Abu draws picnickers and pilgrims alike” (September 6), it is surprising to note that the writer of the feature, failed to write a single line about Prajapita Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya Pandav Bhawan, Mt Abu, which has been functioning there since 1953.

The Vishwa Vidyalaya has more than 6,000 branches in 85 countries, and is affiliated to the United Nations as an NGO and has a consultative status with UNICEF.

It was awarded the UN peace medals for the year 1981 and 1986. It is a unique Vishwa Vidyalaya of excellence that provides education in the art of living as well as training and experience in the long-lost science of Rajyoga - the highest form of yoga. It also conducts courses for administrations, businessmen and industrialists, scientists and engineers, jurists, women and others. Thousands of visitors, who come to Mt Abu, visit Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya, to get a feel of the spiritual and cultural splendour that this country offers.

The visit to Brahma Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya and the museum is on the itinerary of the foreign tourists, who plan their visit to Mt Abu. The Indian Railways Publication Trains at A Glance” (July 2001-June 2002), mentions – ‘Brahma Kumaris Spiritual University and Museum’, as one of the places of interest in Mount Abu.

The President of India, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had visited Brahma Kumaris headquarters in Mount Abu early this year before becoming the President.


Illogical DTC

DTC issues the photo I-cards as an identification mark to the concessional pass holders. But it is done only for a year’s duration. This defies the logic totally. What accentuated the need for the renewal of the photo I-cards after one year is only known to the DTC, who may advance any argument to justify the unjustifiable.

One can understand that in the case of loss or mutilation of the I-cards, another would be required and the pass holder may be called upon to pay the service charges.

It is seen that even as the DTC renews the I-cards, fresh proof of age and residence is insisted upon, which is absolutely unwarranted and speaks volumes for the callousness of the city transport. Imagine a senior citizen’s plight, when he would be asked to bring a copy of the ration card again to prove his age and reconfirm his place of residence even when the DTC computer record has it all.

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

In any case, DTC must spare the senior citizens from this kind of ordeal. What the commuters expect from the DTC is not a vague rejoinder but a positive response to prove that they care for their customers, as they should in our times of growing consumer friendliness.

Hoping that the DTC brass is listening to the problems of senior citizens and would take a quick action to redress their grievances.

R. L. PATHAK, New Delhi

keep Metro stainless!

Delhi, the Capital of India, holds the mirror, which reflects the true image of its progress. If both the Centre and the State governments perform their duties properly, it would be exemplary.

The coming of Metro Rail on Delhi roads within 3-4 months is the live example of real development. Now, the Metro Rail is going to replace the old buses with its bright and sleek boxes, equipped with intercom facility like talking to the driver, facilities for the handicapped and many more interesting features.

Metro will definitely add to the beauty and charm of Delhi. But will the Metro really remain neat and clean for long? We can’t deny the fact that the people of Delhi are given to bad habits like spitting everywhere while chewing pan, tobacco, etc. They do not take care to keep their surroundings clean.

The coming of Metro in Delhi creates the responsibility that we should stand up and join hands to keep our city neat and clean. Ensuring cleanliness of Metro is not only the duty of the railway authority and the Delhi Government agencies, but it is the duty of every individual, who is dreaming of using the newly built, computerised automatic Metro. Those who do not change themselves and fail to take care of public assets like Metro, should be penalised accordingly. Metro must be kept perfectly in order so that the coming generations could remain thankful to those who are working hard—day and night—to make this dream project a reality.


Janmashtami fire

Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, is one of the greatest festivals of India. But on Saturday, August 31 at 8 pm, the celebration at Shakti Mandir, Vishnu Garden in West Delhi, turned into an event of mourning.

Whoever listened to the tragic news and watched the visual footing thereof on the television channel, was shocked. And this very news stunned the whole country. Five children, including three girls died on the spot. Their charred bodies lay on the second floor of the temple complex.

According to the reports at the visual and print media, the children were participating in a skit of Radha-Krishna to celebrate Janmashtami on the first floor of two-storey temple complex.

We tend to repeat our mistakes. We never learn from the past. Tragedies recur. Years back, 43 children of Government High School, Pali in Faridabad district of Haryana, were trapped in a stampede in the historical Kutab Minar, Delhi. A few foreign women also died in the tragedy. People of the village get emotional recalling of their irreparable loss.

The tragedy of Uphaar cinema is unforgettable. Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches. The Dabwali fire in Haryana at the makeshift banquet hall has left an indelible black spot. The state is still to raise its finger against the mushrooming of the concrete marriage halls raised in the congested residential areas. Don’t they need any norms to abide by?

In the preliminary investigations, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, West district of Delhi, Mr Dependra Pathak said, “The entire area is highly congested. Loose wire and illegal electricity connections are rampant in the area. How the authorities allowed the organisers to hold the Janmashtami celebrations here is definitely questionable.”

“The organisers had not even taken minimal safety precautions. Heaps of clothes, loose wires and other inflammable goods were lying in the room,” he added.

The police identified the suspects as Jagdish Rehan, pradhan of the colony and organiser of the Janmashtami celebration and Ram Jeevan Bhardwaj, the temple’s caretaker.

The Delhi government ordered an enquiry to ascertain the cause of the fire.

Whatever may be the cause, the question arises: shall we learn and be wise as not to repeat the same mistakes? How long shall we continue to waste precious human lives?

UJJAN PAL SINGH, President, NIT, Faridabad

Rly pensioner’s woes

I am a railway pensioner completing 77 years. A fixed medical allowance of Rs 100 a month is admissible to every railway pensioner as per the recommendation of the Fifth Pay Commission. But this allowance has been stopped to those pensioners residing within municipal limits, where a railway dispensary and health unit do exist. These health units and railway dispensaries are started at far-off places, say about 3 to 4 km away, and it’s about one hour journey. And one has to spend at least Rs 40 (to and fro) on conveyance, besides facing other troubles. At the ripe age of 77, who would not want to get the medical aid. Therefore, I pray to the authorities concerned to restore the medical allowances. There are thousand of aggrieved persons like me.

M.R.DUA, Panipat

L’affaire statehood

It was pleasing to learn that the Deputy PM, Mr Lal Krishna Advani, has told a delegation of the BJP to discuss the modalities of securing statehood for the government of NCT of Delhi with the Congress. Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit invited the ex-CM, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, on this issue and Mr Khurana has assured that Bill will be passed as the BJP and the Congress are in agreement on statehood issue.

If they (BJP and Congress) can work jointly in such an amicable manner then where is the need to clash all the time. Both parties deserve credit for showing restraint and hope they would do so in future also. Of course, the ruling party must be given full support.


Is HVPN listening?

Our constitution guarantees rights to all its citizens to end discrimination of any kind to enable them to live peacefully. In case of violation of their rights, a citizen can go to the court of law.

In this context, the Citizen Rights Protection Council, narrates the woes of Mr R N Sharma, who retired on August 8, 2002, as a Junior Engineer in the office of Executive Engineer (O&M), A-11, Faridabad, Haryana Vidhut Prasran Nigam Ltd, after attaining the age of 58 years.

In view of his good service record, he was given an extension in service beyond 55 years. This retired person has yet to get his payment. His payments like gratuity, leave incashment, commutation of pension, group insurance, medical allowance and others are not given. His family is facing an acute financial crisis.

Will the authorities concerned in the Nigam be kind enough to give the arrears to Mr R. N. Sharma immediately without delay.

Tirlok Chand Gupta, 
President, Citizen Rights Protection Council


Musharraf’s iron rule: Li(v)e and lie

In the speech to the 57th UN General Assembly Session on September 11, 2002, President Musharraf crossed all limits of propriety to spew venom against India and the Hindus in the crudest tone.

His speech in fact can well be described as 80 per cent ‘lies’ and 20 per cent ‘cries’ of ‘Haaye Kashmir’.

Perhaps, President Musharraf had prepared his speech keeping in view the dictum of Late Dr Gobbels, Propaganda Minister of Hitler, during the Second World War, which said - “Tell a lie and stick to it. The greater the lie, the sooner it is believed”.

However, the world leaders have widely welcomed the thrust and tone of Mr Vajpayee’s speech to the 57th UN General Assembly on September 13, 2002, which dealt with the multi-dimensional problems, faced by a democratic nation, caught in a vicious circle of cross-border terrorism.

The Prime Minister gave a befitting reply to Prez Musharraf’s outbursts in a refined manner on terrorism and Kashmir. Here lies the difference between India and Pakistan. We, in India, believe: ‘Live and let live’ and Pakistan believes: Li(v)e and lie!

O.P. SHARMA, FaridabadBack


Forum to settle matrimonial disputes
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, September 20
The district administration has set up a `Family Counselling Centre' here to settle matrimonial disputes and save marriages.

The forum, named Jagriti, will be headed by the Deputy Commissioner, who will be its patron-in-chief with the Additional Deputy Commissioner as its patron.

The forum will function from the office of the Additional Deputy Commissioner.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Yadav, told ‘NCR Tribune’ that besides the project officer, ICDS, and the Assistant Project Officer, DRDA (both women), Dr Promilla Batra, Reader in Maharshi Dayanand University, would also be a member of the forum. Two non-official members would also be associated with this forum to resolve disputes between husbands and wives.

Mr Yadav said that the proceedings of the disputes, settled by Jagriti, would be recorded and sent to the permanent Lok Adalat held by the District and Sessions Judge the same day so as to provide legal sanctity to the decisions of the forum.

The forum, he said, would meet every fortnight on the first and third Monday of the month. Interestingly, a similar forum, also named Jagriti, is already functioning at Sonepat.


Bansi promises permanent transfer policy
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, September 20
The Haryana Vikas Party supremo and a former Chief Minister, Mr Bansi Lal, has declared that if his party comes to power again in the state, it would formulate a permanent transfer policy for government employees. This would end the harassment and their frequent visits to Chandigarh for the cancellation of their transfers. Such a transfer policy, he said, would also enable them to work hard and honestly and boost the development works for the welfare of the people.

Addressing public meetings at Barwasni and Mahra villages in the district on Thursday, he said that the government employees had put hurdles during his tenure also, but they had now realised that he was their real well-wisher and had safeguarded their interests and rights at that time. On the other hand, Mr Bhajan Lal and Mr Chautala had adopted anti-employee attitude and harassed them on some pretext or the other.

He claimed that his government had implemented the recommendations of the Fourth and Fifth Pay Commissions and it had not retrenched any government employee. The Chautala government, he alleged, was engaged in privatising various departments and nigams and retrenching the employees in the state.

He said that he had wanted to resign from the chief ministership at the time of ending prohibition in the state but his dream of ensuring round-the-clock power supply to the agricultural and industrial sectors was not fulfilled and this had forced him to remain in power.

He announced that if his party came to power, he would fulfil his dream and ensure 24-hour power supply in all sectors of the state, by setting up more powerhouses in the state.

He said that Mr Chautala had failed to generate more power in the state during his three-year rule but he (Mr Bansi Lal) had set up 432 mw power station at Faridabad to ease the power crisis.

Referring to the SYL canal issue, he said that if he had not undertaken the construction work of the canal, the Supreme Court would not have been able to direct the Punjab Government to complete the canal work. He also said that it was his government that had filed the amended petition in the apex court on this issue.


Spurt in mushroom farms in Haryana, 300 of them in Sonepat alone
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, September 20
Mushroom production in Haryana has grown exponentially since 1990-91 and the number of farms cultivating this high quality vegetable has increased.

Now, Haryana has achieved six lakh trays (4,200 metric tonnes) of production. In Sonepat, while 1 lakh trays (300 metric tonnes) of mushroom were produced in 190-91, the production rose to 3,12,800 trays (1,650 metric tonnes) in 2001-2002. Over 300 units cultivating mushroom are working in Sonepat district at present. This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S. N. Roy, here today.

Mushrooms were known from ancient times. However, people know and use only wild mushroom as a vegetable in their food. According to a report, there are 2,000 varieties of mushrooms.

In Haryana, white button mushroom (Agircus bispores) is cultivated mainly. Another specie, Oyster (Dhingri), is also cultivated in a very small scale because of the high temperatures prevailing in summer season.

Mushroom cultivation in the state has had a humble beginning. A Mushroom Centre was started at Chamba Ghat (Solan) in Himachal Pradesh by the ICAR in 1973. That was only a research and training centre in the northern part of the country that provided technical knowhow about mushroom cultivation to the farmers.

In Haryana, mushroom cultivation was introduced by Mr Jagdev Singh, a resident of Bhadana village in Sonepat district, in the eighties. Thereafter, farmers from all over the state came to see his mushroom farm and started cultivating mushrooms. Even the scientists from HAU, Hisar, visited the mushroom farm and advised new technology for easy cultivation and more productivity.

The Deputy Commissioner informed that the Department of Horticulture came into existence in 1990-91. Soon after, the department took the initiative to spread mushroom cultivation in the state. Now, Haryana had achieved six lakh trays with 4,200 metric tonnes of production.

According to the DC, mushroom is very rich in protein in comparison to the vegetables, fruits and cereals. It contains 35 per cent proteins whereas rice has only 7.3 per cent, wheat 13.2 per cent and milk 25.1 per cent of protein. The protein content in mushroom is twice that in cabbage, four times that in orange and 12 times that in apple. Mushroom as a vegetable is a boon for heart patients as it is free from fat and cholesterol. It is also used in anti-cancer medicines.

He also said that mushroom could also be used for making pickles, soups and ‘pakoras’. People could use mushrooms for a longer time after processing and canning them. He claimed that mushroom was a multipurpose vegetable for human beings.

He said that good quality spawn was required for better production. Mostly, S-11 and U-3 varieties are cultivated in Haryana.

The spawn of mushroom is supplied by the HAIC (R&D) at Murthal to the farmers of the state. At least 500 grams of spawn are required for one quintal compost.

The DC further stated that the farmers were taking their produce to the Azadpur (Delhi) market. Some processing and canning industries also purchase mushrooms from the farmers at whole-season contract but the problems of finding a good market are still there.


Roadways staff block traffic
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, September 20
Employees of the Haryana Roadways here blocked traffic and went on strike following a scuffle with private bus operators on Thursday afternoon. All the buses and other traffic remained jammed in and around the bus stand after the incident at 2 pm. As a result, hundreds of passengers were forced to stay inside stranded buses for nearly five hours. Sources said that a meeting of senior civil and police officials, along with the General Manager of the Roadways, was held in the latter’s office to resolve the dispute and the traffic blockage was cleared at about 7 pm after the assurances of the officials to the Roadways staff.

According to information, the in charge of the bus stand, Mr Prem Rathee, announced around 1 pm about the departure schedule of a Kosli-bound Roadways bus. Hearing the announcement, all passengers sitting in a private bus alighted from that bus and boarded the Roadways bus. This enraged the owner of the private bus who reportedly beat up the in charge black and blue.

Reacting to this incident, members of the Haryana Roadways Karamchari Union, led by its president Kartar Singh Bura, gathered at the stand and gave a strike call and put up a blockade. Even buses arriving from other stations were entrapped in the jam and held up there.

Finally, the meeting of senior officers at the GM’s office decided to set separate booths for private and Roadways buses and directed both parties to ply their buses according to the scheduled timings.

Shahidi Diwas

The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for the state-level function on the occasion of Shahidi Diwas being organised here on September 23. Mr Mohinder Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, said that Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala would be the chief guest on the occasion. He would honour the next of kin of martyr soldiers. The Deputy Commissioner held a meeting of the district officials and inspected the arrangements.


Property tax panel’s report in Nov
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
Chairman of the Expert Committee for introducing the Unit Area System for assessment of property tax in the Capital K. Dharamrajan today announced that the final report of the committee would be submitted by mid-November.

He said to avail the benefits of the new system of assessment of property tax, all old disputes of the tax in the existing system must have been settled and all arrears would have to be paid. The present system lacked uniformity and there was a vast variation in tax burden based on the cost of construction and escalation of rent leading to inequalities and disparities. It also lacked a method of assessment of valuation, which bred corruption, he said.

Mr Dharamrajan said to overcome the disparities in the existing system, the Government of NCT of Delhi constituted an expert committee to give recommendations for reforms in the assessment of the property tax. The committee had held a series of meetings with experts in urban development and had also taken stock of cities like Ahmedabad, Patna and Chennai where new systems of assessing property tax was already in practice and popular among citizens, he informed.

The new system would be based on the areas where the property was situated and various factors like locality, occupancy, type and structure and status would be taken into account. These factors would be further sub-divided into various indices, indicating the value to be accorded to each factor based on its specific characteristics, he said.

Meanwhile, Lt-Governor of Delhi Vijai Kapoor today cautioned that the new system should not lead to erosion of municipal revenue and it should not be too low. Transition should be smooth and well-managed. The property tax regime is the greatest hindrance in valuation of property at present. 


NGO holds event to inculcate love for ‘animal citizens’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
Animal lovers will vouch for the fact that in spite of various measures, a lot remains to be done for the animals, especially those inhabiting the streets.

The Circle of Friends, an animal welfare body that has been running shelters for animals and providing them medical aid, organised an event, Compassion 2002. The event was targeted at youth and was a fund-raiser for the animal welfare body.

A debate on ‘Love and care is the key to handle street animals, who have a right to live as animal citizens,’ was organised. While Ritu Garg of Deshbandhu College came first, Himani Khurana of Lady Sri Ram College came second and Ranjana Modi of IIPM was the winner of the third prize.

The show also featured a cultural programme by Bharatanatyam exponent Padmashree Saroja Vaidyanathan and her dance troupe. Singer I. P. Singh Bawa also performed at the event.

The guest at the event spoke about the need for taking care of stray animals in particular and about the different aspects of animal welfare.


Devi Lal’s birthday celebration draws flak
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, September 20
The Haryana Youth Congress has alleged that the recent announcement made by the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, on celebrating the birth anniversary of former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal in Jind on September 25 exposed the ‘insensitive’ attitude of the state government towards the farmers.

In a statement here today, Mr Suresh Alewa, vice-president (backward cell) of the Youth Congress, alleged that the Chief Minister had ridiculed the ‘sacrifice’ of six farmers, who fell victim to the police firing in Jind during the farmers’ agitation a few months ago. He said organising birth anniversary celebrations in Jind would add fuel to the flames, as the farmers had still not forgotten the death of those innocent farmers.

He said the activists of the Youth Congress, led by Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, president of the All India Youth Congress, would hold a demonstration in Jind on September 21 to highlight the sufferings of the farmers.

In another move, the District Congress Committee (rural) has decided to restart the ‘Vipaksh Aapke Samaksh’ (opposition at your doorstep) programme from September 27 to highlight the sufferings of the common man.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the DCC (rural) held under the presidentship of Prof Virender today. Prof Virender said the party activists would apprise the masses of the party policies by holding public meetings at the village level till December 31.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, opposition leader, Mr Shadi Lal Batra, local MLA, Ms Kartar Devi, Mr Anand Singh Dangi and Mr Sri Krishan Hooda, former ministers would attend these public meetings, he added.


Global meet on mysticism concludes
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
The 12th Global Conference on Mysticism concluded here today with a seminar on the ‘Role of Mysticism for World Peace’. The seminar was inaugurated by Sant Rajinder Singh ji and the speakers included Mr Ron Pulliam from the United States, Mr. Kalla Bonnaventure from France, Father George Koovackal, Swami Pragyananad ji and Swami Gopalachary Saraswati.

Speaking at the seminar, Sant Rajinder Singh ji pointed out that engrossed in our worldly pursuits, we hardly devote any time to our spiritual awakening. He reminded the gathering that human beings get consciousness in our body and mind from our spirit. By connecting our attention within, we can realise the reality of God, who is an ocean of love and we are its drops. He added that we should spend our lives bringing happiness to others. Mr Pulliam described the conference as the spring season where humans get rejuvenated with eternal love. An eye test and operation camp was also held during the conference. A blood donation camp will be held on September 22, where about 300 people have volunteered to donate blood.

Award for Sewa Bharati

Sewa Bharati, a voluntary organisation based in the Capital, has been chosen for Dr Durgabai Deshmukh Award for doing exemplary work in the field of women’s development. The organisation has been involved with various works in the field of women’s development and was selected by a committee that visited the organisation. The Dr Durgabai Deshmukh Award has been constituted by the Central Social Welfare Board in the memory of Dr Deshmukh, an eminent national figure and its founder chairperson. The award comprising of a cash prize of Rs five lakh and a citation will be conferred on the Sewa Bharati at a function to be held in the Capital.

Student crushed to death

Rewari: Amit Kumar, a class 10 student of Satish Public Senior Secondary School, was crushed to death by a speeding tractor in front of the main gate of the school on the Rewari-Delhi road here on Thursday.

It is reported that when Amit, who was riding a bicycle, reached near the gate, he tried to cross the road after giving proper signal but the driver of the tractor, which was coming from behind and which was apparently at a very high speed, failed to control the vehicle and ran over the cyclist killing him on the spot.

A holiday was declared for the school as a mark of respect to the deceased. Amit’s funeral in the afternoon was attended by the school staff as well as functionaries of the school management. The management has urged the district administration to restore the speed breaker on the road (which was removed sometime back) expeditiously to ensure the safety of the schoolchildren.

No trace of suspect

Sonepat: The Civil Lines police have carried out a number of raids at the possible hideouts and the residence of the relatives of the main suspect of the shootout incident, Mr Sat Narain Aggarwal, but failed to achieve any breakthrough in arresting him.

According to a report, raids had been carried out at Gurgaon and Delhi by various police parties during the past two days but the officials could not trace Mr Aggarwal, against whom and six others the police have registered a case under Section 307 of the IPC (murderous assault) on the complaint of an injured youth, Rajesh. Three persons - Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Rajesh and Vishal, a son of the main suspect - were injured in the shootout that occurred in the Model Town area last Sunday. 


Ajay Chautala exhorts youths to do social work
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, September 20
About one lakh youths will pledge to donate their eyes on the birth anniversary of late kisan leader, Choudhary Devi Lal on September 25. A massive rally is planned to mark the occasion. Stating this, the president of the youth wing of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Member of Parliament, Mr Ajay Singh Chautala highlighted the role of the youths in our society. He said that uplifting the downtrodden was the main aim of the youth wing of the INLD.

Mr Chautala, who was addressing, a meeting of the youth INLD workers, stated that a large number of activists

have decided to donate their eyes at the proposed rally to be held at Jind. He said that by donating ones eye, the activists would be doing a great social service. Mr Chautala said it was the first time that people in such a large number had been associated with this noble cause. Apart from the eye donation, he said youths of the INLD would also work to help destitute and poor in many other ways. He encouraged the INLD activities to actively take part in social causes like blood donation camps and social awareness programmes to discourage the use of polythene bags and plastic items. He claimed that about 90 per cent of the announcement made in the second phase of the `Sarkar Apke Dwar’ programme had been fulfilled and the third phase of this programme would be launched on October 2. 


Gangster involved in Delhi Cantt bus robbery arrested
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
With the arrest of Hemraj alias Hemu, a member of the Dabbu gang, the North-East district police today claimed to have solved the sensational bus robbery case which took place on September 5 in the Delhi Cantonment area.

The accused was apprehended yesterday in Seemapuri by the Special Staff of the Delhi Police. One loaded country-made weapon, with two live cartridges were recovered from his possession. Acting on a secret information, the police nabbed the accused near Hanuman Mandir near Old Seemapuri chowk.

It may be recalled that seven armed robbers had looted 12 passengers of their cash and belongings in a Mudrika bus. The criminals had boarded the bus near Moti Bagh flyover and looted the bus when it reached the Delhi Cantonment area.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-East), Mr Vivek Gogia, said that the accused Hemraj (23), resident of Dilshad Garden, was one among the seven robbers and he was also present during another bus robbery which took place in the Kashmere Gate area.

On sustained interrogation, he revealed that he was a member of the Dabbu gang, involved in bus robberies in the Capital.

The gang was involved in forced pickpocketing, where they diverted the attention of the victim by pushing him or surrounding him.

Mr Gogia said that Charan Jeet alias Dabbu was involved in 34 criminal cases and was even detained earlier under the National Security Act. The police have conducted raids in the area to nab Hemraj’s other associates following his confession.

Criminals arrested

With the arrest of four persons, the South District police today claimed to have nabbed a wanted criminal in a dacoity-cum-murder case in the Mathura Road area.

The police also recovered two knives and two stolen motorcycles from them. The accused Mohd. Kamil (23), resident of Sarita Vihar, Sohail Khan (26), resident of Sarita Vihar, Pratap (20) and Abdul Jabbar (21), both resident of Tughlakabad Extension, were arrested from a bus stand on Mathura Road in Sarita Vihar area while they were planning to commit crime in a city bus.

The police have formed a special team to check the recent increase in crimes in buses. Acting on a secret information, the police nabbed the accused persons on September 18 in the evening while they were planning to commit dacoity in a bus plying on the Mathura Road.

Auto-lifters held

The Mukherjee Nagar police have arrested two auto-lifters yesterday night and have recovered four cars at their instance. According to ACP, Model Town, two persons identified as Kalicharan alias Kalu and Rohit alias Kale, both resident of Model Town, were found moving in suspicious circumstances when they were nabbed.

Upon interrogation, they confessed to have stolen the vehicle from the Adarsh Nagar area. Three more Maruti 800 cars, stolen from Mukherjee Nagar have been recovered at their instance.

In another incident, the Model Town police have arrested two auto-lifters, Kanhaiya and Surender alias Vicky, both resident of Model Town jhuggi who were involved in two cases of auto-lifting. 


Seven held for carrying arms
Our Correspondent

Rewari, September 20
As many as seven persons, who were carrying illegal weapons, comprising four revolvers, three pistols and seven live cartridges, were arrested from different places in Rewari district recently. Giving detailed information in this regard, Mr Hanif Qureshi, SP, disclosed that the Banipur police apprehended Aditya Singh alias Rinku and Sant Ram alias Balu, both residents of Jalalpur village, and seized one .315 bore country-made revolver each from them on Wednesday.

Similarly, the Bawal police arrested Vijay Singh, along with a country-made revolver, while Himmat Singh alias Prem Pal of Jatoli village of Gurgaon district, along with one 8 mm pistol and four live cartridges by the Kasaula police on Wednesday. Prior to this, the Rewari Sadar police on Tuesday arrested Manoj Kumar and Manbir of Kundal village as well as Bijender Singh of Jaipur district of Rajasthan.


In-laws booked for dowry harassment
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, September 20
The police have registered a case of dowry harassment against the in-laws of a woman at Thana Kalan village on Thursday. Ms Sudesh, a resident of Basantpur village, alleged in the FIR that her husband and in-laws had been harassing her for dowry. The police registered a case under Sections 498-A, 323 and 506 of the IPC against the in-laws following the direction in this regard by a local court.

Talent show at MDU
Nearly 50 participants of University College here put on a good show during the ‘Talent Search Programme’ organised by the college today. Youthful participants showcased their nimble footwork on Haryanavi and Punjabi music. They held the audience spellbound by the songs, dances, mono-acts and mimicry.


Soon you’ll be able to order goodies on mobile
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 20
Cadbury or Coke from vending machines will now be available on mobile phones very soon without paying on the spot. Bills for these products will be included in monthly bill of the mobile phone. This was announced at the 4th International Conference and Exhibition of Smart Card technology.

Apart from these two, a number of other products and technologies were on display at exhibition. Smart Card received a number of applications seeking such products, a Smart Card release said.

The expo, with over 130 exhibitors, attracted over 8, 200 business visitors from all over the country. With the government taking a keen interest in introducing smart card in the country, a lot of international companies are looking forward for tie-ups and investing in the country.

Paragon Converters from Malaysia are already setting up their manufacturing base in Hyderabad. Other foreign companies like Jiangsu Hengbao Limited of China and Inter Card Limited, Hong Kong and e-Cube Technologies from Vadodara were planning to invest in research and development, infrastructure for M-commerce and for developing terminals as they foresee a huge growth in these sectors, the release said.

Some of the other products on display were higher density cryptomemory cards embedded with a special logical function to do away with the expensive micro controller, downloading cash into the smart card through a telephone call and also making payments through smart cards via telephone and library management through smart card.

The expo was visited by many dignitaries, including former Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao, who said, “The need and importance of security are obvious in the modern world where any lapse in security could often lead to disastrous consequences for an individual, business or the country at large”, the release said.

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