Sunday, January 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India

N C R   S T O R I E S


Restore powers, if not statehood, CM tells Centre
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
“The Union Government should restore the powers of the duly elected Government of NCT of Delhi if it is not keen on granting statehood,” Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today told delegates who attended a workshop held to evolve a suitable dispensation for the Capital.

The Government of NCT of Delhi hosted the day-long workshop to solicit views on reorganising the administrative set-up of the NCT of Delhi in view of the frequent spats between the two governments over the multiplicity of authorities.

Since the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre does not seem to be interested in granting statehood, it could at the very least rescind the twin circulars dated July 25 and August 29 in 2002 so that roadblocks in the way of administering the city well could be removed, she said.

She said the Transaction of Business Rules could not override the NCT of Delhi Act 1993 and for that reason alone, provisions of law that are repugnant to the Act ought to be rescinded. “The anomalies,” she said, “need to go.”

Mrs Dikshit told mediapersons the delegates were of the view that the NCT of Delhi be declared a Special State under Article 371 so that the subjects of land and law and order come to vest in the Council of Ministers.

The workshop recommended that agencies like the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) and Delhi Police be brought under the administrative control of the Government of NCT of Delhi.

“The NDMC may be given special status but there ought not be territorial division of the NCT of Delhi. A special police force may be deputed for high security zones. The idea is the NCT of Delhi gets a set-up befitting the status of the Capital,” Mrs Dikshit told a news conference.

Delhi Pradesh BJP president Madan Lal Khurana, however, contended that it was his party’s repeated demand for statehood that had compelled the Congress to fall in line. Mr Khurana and Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Legislative Assembly Jagdish Mukhi were special invitees.

Mr Khurana said successive Congress governments at the Centre had been opposing the idea of statehood. He went on to say that the Congress had never included the proposal for statehood in its manifestos.

Criticising Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for submitting that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was not interested in granting statehood to the NCT of Delhi, Mr Khurana said she was “misleading” the people.

A resolution to demand statehood to Delhi was passed by the Bharatiya Jan Sangh way back in 1962 and the BJP continued to include the proposal in subsequent manifestos, Mr Khurana said.



Divorcee held for NRI’s murder
Abhay Jain

Gurgaon, January 11
The District police claim to have arrested a lady and her friend who had allegedly murdered an NRI, Ashok Jain, and dumped his body in a remote village.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Kuldeep Singh Siag, informed media persons today that the police arrested Ms Shivani Chopra and her friend Mr Munish Mubar for allegedly murdering Ashok Jain. Their third accomplice, who was with them at the time of the crime, Mr Sudhir Srivastava, is still untraceable, said the officer.

Mr Siag said that Ashok Jain was received by Ms Shivani, his long-time friend, at Palam Airport, Delhi, on the night of December 26. She escorted Mr Jain to a Santro car, registration number UP 32 AG 9991, in which she introduced Munish Mubar as the driver and Sudhir Srivastava as the owner of the vehicle.

As planned, all of them proceeded towards Jaipur. When they were in Gurgaon, all three occupants allegedly murdered Ashok Jain, using a big hammer, knives and sharp weapons. They had battered his face with such brutality that he could not be recognized. They took his luggage and stripped him down. Later, they dumped the body in an empty plot on the Bhondsi-Ritoj Road near Sohna.

An investigative team, comprising Deputy Superintendent of Police Sukhbir Singh and the Sohna SHO, was asked to trace the culprits.

Incidentally, the sleuths had recovered an airline tag from the spot where the body was dumped; the tag mentioned the name of the deceased and had other flight details. The tag enabled the police to identify Jain. The records of the deceased’s mobile phone revealed that Shivani had called him many times on the night of the crime.

Shivani, a divorcee having a four-year-old daughter, was arrested, who admitted to her role in the murder before the police. Jain, it is learnt, had a soft corner for Shivani, whom he would occasionally give expensive gifts; he also wanted to take her to the US. Mr Jain dealt in artificial jewellery and handicraft items.

However, Shivani wanted to marry her friend Munish Mubar. Together, they planned Jain’s murder with a third colleague.



Floor area ratio raised for units along NH
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, January 11
The Haryana Government has finally conceded to a demand of the industrialists to increase the floor area ratio (FAR) for the units, which are set up following conversion of land on stretches along the national highway/scheduled roads in the urbanised areas in the state. It has been increased by 10 per cent. The concession will be applicable to both the existing as well as the prospective units.

The government, according to a communication to the Gurgaon Industrial Association (GIA), has decided to increase the ratio by 10 per cent. However, the other provisions like leaving a certain area as a greenbelt will remain in place. So would be the matter of computing external development charges.

In fact, the communication has been made by the state’s Town and Country Planning, a wing of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), to the

GIA. Incidentally, the GIA had taken up the issue with the government and had been pursuing the matter for more than a year.

This concession has come as a relief to the industrialists, including prospective investors in the state.

On account of earlier restrictive provisions on the FAR, the investors had to forego their valuable land on the premises of their units.

This was a great deterrent, especially when considering the fact that the cost of land in Gurgaon and other parts of the state had appreciated considerably. The investors, who had to buy land and then pay conversion charges to set up business on it, found very low value on investment, given the restrictive FAR.

The industrialists were already reeling under the high rate of Conversion of Land Use (CLU) and the government’s policy on charging EDCs. With the liberalisation in the policy of FAR, a boost in the industrialisation of the state, particularly in Gurgaon, Faridabad, Panipat, Rewari, Sonepat, Bawal - the emerging commercial centres - is expected.

The president of the GIA, Mr J. N. Mangla, while thanking the government for its pro-industry approach by increasing the FAR ratio, said that it would go a long way in the industrial growth of the state.



74 held for rioting on Modi Cloth Mills premises
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, January 11
Seventy-four workers of the Dehat Morcha, including its national president, Kesri Singh Gujjar, were arrested yesterday by the Modi Nagar police for indulging in violence and damaging the Modi Cloth Mills property by setting it on fire. The workers were irked by the attitude of the mill management and the district administration. The workers also damaged some vehicles. PAC personnel have been deployed on the mill premises in view of the tension in the area.

A ‘maha panchayat’ was organised by the workers of the Modi Spinning and Weaving Mill yesterday. It was supposed to be attended by former Prime Minister H. D. Deve Gowda but he could not come. The meeting was in protest against the non-payment of dues to the mill workers.

While Kesri Gujjar was addressing the ‘maha panchayat’, vice-president of the Dehat Morcha Satpal Choudhary took away the mike and in a belligerent speech said that they were capable of finding a solution to the problem on their own without anybody’s help. At this, the workers forced their way into the mill premises and started damaging a restaurant. Then they turned their ire on two buses and two cars parked there.

After damaging some flowerpots and other items, the workers entered Dr K N Modi Pharma, where some examination was in progress, and allegedly manhandled the administrative officer, D N Sharma, and damaged computers and broke some windowpanes and furniture. While the violence continued for about one hour, no policeman was to be seen there.

Then, a group of agitators entered Lucky Textiles on the premises. While they were forcing the textile workers to join them, Deputy DM Praveen Mishra and police Circle Officer Prabal Pratap Singh reached the spot with a strong contingent of police. They arrested a number of Dehat Morcha workers. It is learnt that the police had also arrested some innocent workers.



Raids on three Noida iron & steel mills
Parmindar Singh

Noida, January 11
Tax evasions amounting to crores of rupees have been detected in raids on three iron and steel mills on G T Road near Chhapraula in Gautam Budh Nagar by Trade Tax Department teams. The officials have seized a large number of bills and other documents as proof of tax evasion. The raids, which started at noon, continued till late in the night.

In a departmental meeting in Lucknow last week, a number of units in Noida were reported to have obtained tax holidays on the basis of false claims and documents, thus cheating the government of a sizeable revenue. The administration had instructed the Additional Commissioner, Trade Tax, Noida, Mrs Monica Garg, to investigate into such fraudulent cases.

Three teams, comprising two dozen officials, had suddenly descended on the three iron and steel factories on G T Road yesterday under Joint Commissioner of Vigilance R. N. Chaturvedi, who was assisted by Deputy Commissioner R. S. Dixit and Mahavir Singh.

The raiding parties have stumbled upon some startling data, it is learnt. One of the mills situated at G T Road had not paid any trade tax on the sale of goods worth Rs 27 crore since July 2001. The factory had done this by showing a tax holiday for a new unit, although its application for a new unit had already been rejected by the Zonal Committee. Documents pertaining to stocks transfer worth Rs 9 crore were also seized from this company.

Another team under Deputy Commissioners D. P. Singh and U. P. Singh raided another factory where it found 80 tonnes of raw material in excess against the records. The tax officials said the factory officials had allegedly tried to destroy or remove some documents pertaining to sales. This factory had also not paid any trade tax on raw materials worth Rs 1.6 crore purchased from April to June 2002.

The third team under Deputy Commissioners R. D. Singh and R K Bhargave conducted raids on another factory and found excess stocks of 92 tonnes against the records. The factory owners had shown a stock transfer worth Rs 25 lakh to its Shahdara branch. The team had confiscated the daily production reports and other important documents.



A technology marvel bruised by its patrons
A. R. Wig

New Delhi, January 11
Delhi’s most expensive Christmas gift, the Metro Rail, was torn open and ‘bruised’ soon after the inauguration as over-enthusiastic crowds forced themselves inside the stations and trains. What had been touted as a beautiful ride on the 8.3-km stretch between Shahdara and Tis Hazari early in the morning turned into an ugly journey as unmanageable number of people thronged the stations by late afternoon on the second day.

Lakhs of people who had come from all over the Capital were so unruly that three stations - Shahdara, Seelampur and Tis Hazari - had to be closed and services stopped because the crowds refused to get off the trains at the terminal stations.

In the first night, Metro officials appealed to the people to be co-operative when they travelled on these trains. They urged the people, who apparently just wanted a joyride, to travel during the afternoon lean hours. As a precaution, additional police reinforcements were deployed during the next couple of days to assist the Metro administration.

All that happened on the second day could be attributed to the excitement of the people. As the days passed, the people extended their co-operation realising that after all the Metro Rail was for them.

Incidentally, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has been awarded the ISO 14001 certification for environment-friendly construction and operations. The DMRC became the second metro system in the world, after the New York Metro, to achieve this standard and the first one to receive it in the construction stage itself.

According to official sources, the Delhi Metro’s reaching this milestone became possible through technical assistance given by the New York Metro, facilitated by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The US assistance to the DMRC began in early 2001 when the US-Asia Environmental Partnership (USAEP), a division of the USAID, arranged for a presentation on developing and institutionalising an environment management system (EMS) as per ISO 14001 for the DMRC’s senior management in New Delhi. A New York transit official, who has been working with the Kolkata Metro to institutionalise EMS in its maintenance operations, was brought in to make this presentation.

It is said that the DMRC officials bought the idea and the USAEP arranged for technical assistance through the New York Metro to help them design and implement the plan. The Delhi Metro set itself an ambitious target of achieving certification by the year’s end and achieved it in time for its inaugural run. The DMRC plans to convert all its stations on the first line into “green stations”.

While the people of Delhi have welcomed the new mode of faster transport system, one would only say that the Metro could literally be a green signal for progress towards decongesting and de-polluting Delhi today and hopefully more metropolitan cities in the country tomorrow. One hoped to iron out all possible glitches right away so that these did not snowball into tragic accidents later, either through technical glitches or human errors.

While lakhs of Delhi commuters were jubilant over the Metro, unfortunately, politicians as usual indulged in petty gimmicks for their political gains.

By appointing Delhi BJP chief M. L. Khurana as the Chairman of the DMRC, the Union Urban Development Ministry has only created a totally avoidable controversy and it demonstrated to the people of Delhi that it had enough expertise to indulge in cheap publicity gimmicks and claim credit for anything and everything. Khurana’s appointment has not only been criticised by his political opponents but it has also surprised his own party colleagues.

People thought that with his appointment as Delhi BJP chief, Mr Khurana would be politically satisfied and concentrate more on party work than accepting other responsibilities requiring total devotion and concentration.



DTTDC eco park
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
The Delhi Tourism and Transportation Development Corporation (DTTDC) in cooperation with the Irrigation Department of the Delhi government has taken up an ambitious project to develop the area between Chhawla and Kanganheri in South West Delhi into a major tourist and picnic spot.

Work on the ambitious project, which will take at least a year to complete, has already started and the 21 km-long-stretch of water channel from Dhansa to Chhawla has been cleaned up to provide facilities for Kayaking, canoeing and rowing.

According to DTTTDC officials, once developed, the eco park will provide recreational facilities like fishing, bird watching and water skiing as the level of the water in the canal remains between seven and nine feet even in summer.



Ahirwal outfit gives call to boycott Cong rally
Nawal Kishore Rastogi

Rewari, January 11
Former legislator and president of the Sarva Jati Janata Panchayat, a political outfit of Ahirwal, Mr Raghu Yadav, who along with thousands of his party activists, had faced bullets and brutal police lathi charge at Narnaul on August 10, 1993, at the hands of the then Congress government led by Mr Bhajan Lal over the issue of equitable distribution of available canal water in Haryana, has fervently called on the people of Ahirwal to boycott tomorrow’s Rewari rally. The rally was being organised by those very Congress leaders, most of whom were a party to the most inhuman atrocities perpetrated on peaceful demonstrators at Narnaul.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, he asserted that it was virtually the height of political shamelessness that Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, Deputy Leader of the HCLP, Rao Dharam Pal, senior vice-president of the HPCC, Mrs Shakuntala Bhagwaria, vice-president of the HPCC, who all occupied ministerial berths in the then Bhajan Lal government and allowed themselves to be a party to the most horrendous repression let loose by the government on the hapless farmers, crying for equitable distribution of canal water, were now making hectic efforts to mobilise the people of Ahirwal for tomorrow’s Rewari rally.

The rally would be prominently addressed by the HPCC chief, Mr Bhajan Lal, over the same issue of canal water. Besides, Col Ram Singh, another prominent organiser of the rally, was then a minister in the P V Narsimha Rao government at the Centre, he added.

Mr Yadav went on to say that he had nothing personal against these Congress leaders but he strongly felt that it was their moral as well as bounden obligation that they must publicly tender an unqualified apology to the people of Ahirwal for their previous acts of omission and commission. Simultaneously, he expressed happiness at the turn of events which had now made these Congress leaders raise the demand of equitable distribution of available canal water. This was a cause he and his associates had been persistently espousing for the past so many years. He also said that he at least expected Mr Bhajan Lal, who is a sober veteran leader of Haryana, to express his sincere regrets to the people of Ahirwal at tomorrow’s rally for the unwarranted brutalities which were then perpetrated on the farmers at Narnaul.

As regards the total justification and legitimacy of their long-standing demand of equitable distribution of available canal water, Mr Yadav said it was now a well-known fact that Haryana received 1.8 MAF water of the Beas in 1976, which was meant for Ahirwal. This was dishonestly diverted to Sirsa and other parts of the state. As a sequel to it, five districts of the state - Sirsa, Hisar, Fatehabad, Jind and Kaithal— were now facing the menace of waterlogging whereas the fields in Rewari, Mahendragarh and Gurgaon districts and parts of Bhiwani and Jhajjar districts had been lying parched on account of extremely negligible supply of canal water. The rightful solution of this problem, therefore, lay in equitable distribution of the available canal water which alone, he asserted, could ensure elimination of waterlogging in the above five districts and simultaneous flow of legitimately adequate canal water into the thirsty fields of the other four districts.

Mr Yadav also took pains to explain that this had nothing to do with the long-pending SYL canal tangle.



All-out efforts to make rally a success
Our Correspondent

Rewari, January 11
Tremendous efforts made by prominent Congress leaders of Ahirwal to mobilise people for tomorrow’s Rewari rally indicate that it is going to be a big event.

Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, Deputy Leader of the HCLP, Rao Dharam Pal, senior vice-president of the HPCC, Rao Narendra Singh, general secretary of the HPCC, Mrs Shakuntala Bhagwaria, vice-president of the HPCC, Mrs Anita Yadav, president of the Haryana Mahila Congress, former Union Minister Col Ram Singh and others revealed to NCR Tribune that the people’s response was superbly enthusiastic. This showed that a pro-Congress or rather pro-Bhajan Lal wave was now sweeping Ahirwal. They also said that the people of Ahirwal, who were totally disenchanted with the Chautala regime, had now been yearning for a change and quite impatiently looking towards the Congress to expedite the elimination of the “misrule” of the present state government.

Capt Ajay Singh Yadav, principal organiser of the rally, informed that the HPCC president, Mr Bhajan Lal, would preside over the “kisan-mazdoor rally and shaurya samman samaroh” here tomorrow while the AICC general secretary, Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, Deputy Leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party, Mr Shiv Raj Patil, and the AICC secretary, Mr Anil Shastri, would be the chief guests.

Among other things, the rally would mainly focus on issues pertaining to expeditious completion of the SYL canal, equitable distribution of canal water and provision of drought relief to farmers of South Haryana, he added.



Move to gherao PM’s house deplorable’
Our Correspondent

Rewari, January 11
The Haryana BJP general secretary, Mr Vir Kumar Yadav, has flayed the HPCC president, Mr Bhajan Lal, for the proposed move to gherao the official residence of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, in Delhi on January 15 over the SYL issue.

In a press statement here, Mr Yadav reminded Mr Bhajan Lal that previously when he was heading a Congress government in Haryana there were Congress -ruled governments in the saddle in Punjab and at the Centre as well. If he had then initiated any such move, the SYL tangle could have been easily solved. But it was deplorable that he failed to take advantage of that golden opportunity for reasons best known to him.

Even now through his skills Mr Bhajan Lal should impress upon the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, the need to immediately direct the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to respect the apex court verdict and get the SYL canal completed without any further procrastination, opined Mr Yadav.

Complimenting the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, for turning down the offer of talks over the above issue recently made by his Punjab counterpart, Mr Yadav wanted him (Mr Chautala) to file a caveat in the Supreme Court to thwart the Punjab Chief Minister’s move.



11 booths set up for Kharkhauda MC poll
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 11
The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for holding elections to the Kharkhauda Municipal Committee on January 19 next.

According to a report, as many as 11 polling booths have been set up for this purpose where the electorate would be able to cast their franchise without any fear.

There are 45 candidates in the fray and they have intensified their election campaign despite the severe cold wave and foggy weather conditions as well as chilly winds. The candidates and their supporters are touring the streets and bazaars to win the confidence of the electorate.

Two candidates - one from Ward No 8, Ms Shanti Devi, and another from Ward No 13, Mr Ramji Dass - have been returned unopposed.

All candidates have been allotted election symbols by the Returning Officer. Banners and stickers have been put up on the walls of the houses and the shops. The candidates have already opened their election offices to attract the voters.

The police are patrolling the town to maintain law and order and check any untoward incident during the election campaign.

Girl recovered
The Ganaur police have recovered a 16-year-old girl, Munni, from a tubewell situated in the fields at Bari village and launched a hunt for a youth, Shankar, who had kidnapped her last week.

According to a report, the girl has been sent for a medical examination. The culprit, Shankar, who belonged to Bihar, had developed illicit relations with the girl and later kidnapped her.

Boy kidnapped
Ankit, a student of Class VI in Rishikul Vidyapeeth, was reported to have been kidnapped by an unknown scooterist here on Saturday.

According to a report, Ankit was returning to his home in the afternoon when he was allegedly kidnapped. The father of the student has lodged an FIR in this connection.

The police have launched a hunt for the student and the alleged culprit.



Demand for probe into erratic supply of canal water
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 11
Representatives of various farmer organisations today criticised the inefficient and unsatisfactory working of the Gohana Water Service Division of the Irrigation Department. The farmers urged the state government to order a high-level probe into the complaints of the farmers about the inadequate and erratic supply of canal water in the tail-end villages falling in its jurisdiction.

According to a report, they also demanded immediate suspension of the Executive Engineers, the SDOs and other officials responsible for the canal water scarcity during the rotation period. Such an action would certainly ensure the independent and impartial inquiry into the scandalous working of these officials.

They further blamed the officials of this water division for not cleaning the canal distributaries effectively despite the clear instructions from the state government. They alleged that the desilting and deweeding operations carried out in the past by the officials were merely an eye wash, as the farmers whose fields are situated on the tail-end have been experiencing erratic supply of canal water. The farmers alleged that their crops have started withering away on account of this inadequate supply of canal water.

Refuting the claim of the authorities about the availability of canal water at the tail-end villages during the rotation period, the representatives of these organisations urged the state government to direct the district authorities to visit these villages and verify the complaints of the farmers without any further delay.

Meanwhile, most of the irrigation schemes under taken by the Irrigation Department in this district during the past few years are widely infested with corrupt practices. The farmers alleged that the officials have used the department to make quick money at the cost of the state exchequer.

According to informed sources, the bulk of the amount spent on these schemes have been misappropriated by the officials entrusted with the job of executing them. It is alleged that some of the works have been executed only on paper and the officials entrusted with the task of making payments, have actually siphoned of the money.

It was also alleged that the muster rolls also included the names of the persons who were never put on the job.

Though the Government of Haryana had appointed a SDO (vigilance) to supervise the works relating to the maintenance of canals, distributaries and minors with the aim to root out corruption from the Irrigation Department, no substantial action has been taken by the officer and his subordinate staff.

On the other hand, the staff had become a part of the official machinery, which violated government rules and indulged in financial and corrupt practices.

Informed sources also revealed that whenever “Letters of Credit” were received by various water service divisions, the SDO (Vigilance) is reported to be in the habit of demanding commission on them.

Inquiries made have revealed that the authorities of the various water service divisions keep the SDO (Vigilance) and other staff in the dark about the on-going irrigation works in their division. Hence, the SDO (Vigilance) failed to visit the sites of various works. Moreover, it was alleged that he overlooked the misdeeds of the officials after receiving ‘nazranas’.

Many farmers alleged that their complaints made to the SDO (Vigilance) about the misdeeds of the officials have fallen on deaf ears. They demanded a high-level probe into the scandalous work of the SDO and stern action against him for misutilising public funds.



Land of temples and forts, now attracting
global visitors
Tribune News Service


Air: Jaipur at 146-km is the nearest airport.

Rail: Ajmer at 11-km is the nearest railhead from Pushkar.

Road: Pushkar is well connected by road and is 11-km from Ajmer.

OF the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, Brahma the creator is worshipped in the land of Pushkar. Legend goes that in a battle, Lord Brahma killed the demon Vajra Nabh with a lotus flower, whose petals floated down to earth and landed in three places in and around Pushkar where lakes sprang up.

According to another legend, petals from Brahma’s hand drifted down and lakes sprang up where the flowers touched the land. Brahma realised that this was as an auspicious moment to perform a yagna.

Since his wife Savitri was not with him, he married a local girl and gave her a place next to him in the yagna. Raged with fury, Savitri cursed him that he would not be worshipped anywhere else on earth, except Pushkar.

Pushkar comes alive during the annual fair that attracts people from across the globe. According to legend, for five days in a year, gods visit Pushkar and bless the devotees who gather in Pushkar. These five days also coincide with the biggest cattle fair of the country. Of the places to see in Pushkar are the 400 temples in the city, besides the forts and palaces.

Pushkar Lake is the site of an annual holy bath on Kartik Purnima. Pushkar Bazaar is famous for its range of handicrafts. Another important attraction in the city is Man Mahal, built by Raja Man Singh of Amber.

Among worthwhile places are:

Brahma Temple

It is the main attraction of the city, where Lord Brahma is worshiped. There is life-size four-armed idol of Lord Brahma-the creator in the vestibule. The temple has marble floors and stairs, and coins have been put there by devotees to mark the birth or death of their loved ones.

Pushkar Lake

Apart from its beauty, the lake is considered holy. The entire lake is supposed to be surrounded by 500 temples, 52 palaces, and 52 ghats. On the occasion of Kartik Purnima in November every year, devotees take holy bath in the lake and a fair is organised, known world over as the Pushkar Fair.

Savitri Temple

The temple is dedicated to Savitri, the wife of Lord Brahma and located on the top of the Ratnagiri Hill. After cursing Brahma, Savitri left for the Ratnagiri Hill and immolated herself there. There is a beautiful statue of Goddess Savitri inside the temple.

The other important temple in Pushkar, the 19th century Mahadeva Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva-‘the destroyer,’ with five faces. It is known for the elegance of its structure and ornamentation. Rangaji Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu-‘the preserver’ and built in the South Indian architectural style.

Pushkar Bazaar

A bustling bazaar, the Pushkar local market offers tourism as well as pilgrimage related products. A range of souvenirs could be purchased, including the Rajasthani costumes, jewellery, embroidered fabrics, decorative pieces and groovy accessories. The bazaar becomes a hub of activity during the annual Pushkar Fair.

Excursion around Pushkar

Famous for its fort, a visit to Kuchaman is a trip down the bygone era. A collection of paintings on the life of Meera Bai are placed in the Meera Mahal. In the Lok Dev Temple, there are the paintings of Lok Devatas such as Sant Tejaji, Sant Gogaji, Sant Pabu Rathore and Baba Ram Dev. The temple was built by Ranjit Singh to honour the sacrifices by the masses.

Other attractions in Kuchaman include the Meena Bazaar and the China Pole, with its intricately painted interiors by a Chinese traveller narrating his experiences during his travels in India.


Located on National Highway 8, Kishangarh was a princely state ruled by the Rathores. Apart from its fort, Kishangarh is known for the miniature painting style called the Kishangarh art. Phool Mahal (Flower Palace), now converted into a hotel, is the main attraction inside the fort. Kishangarh is also known for its rich storehouse of marbles.


Roopangarh was built by King Roop Singh of Kishangarh in 1648. Originally a nine-turreted fort, new additions were continuously made over the years. Difference in the architectural styles can be easily observed in the fort.


Ajmer is a major city in north Rajasthan and located just 14-km from Pushkar. The most popular attraction of the city is the Dargah of Sufi Saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. Other attractions are the Anna Sagar Lake, the Nasiyan Temple and the Arhai Din ka Jhonpra.

Sambhar Lake

The lake is considered a paradise for bird watchers and home to around 140 species of avi-fauna.

The best time to visit the place is during the winters between September and March.



Traffic cops put up a good show in 2002: Pereira
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
Despite the increasing number of vehicles in the national Capital on the roads and the resources remaining the same, the Delhi Traffic Police today claimed that the force had done extremely good work during the year 2002 to bring about traffic discipline and a smooth flow of traffic on the roads.

The traffic police said that the number of deaths and accidents had considerably come down when compared to the year 2001. The success has been attributed to a number of strategies in traffic management and the presence of increasing number of traffic police personnel on roads. The strategies include the implementation of three aspects, namely engineering, education and enforcement.

In the year 2002, 1,696 persons were killed on roads as compared to 1,842 in 2001 and 8,699 accidents were reported in 2002 as compared to 9,344 in 2001. During the year 2002, the traffic police also issued 15,16,506 notices to the vehicles which violated traffic rules and a compounding amount of Rs 5.15 crore was collected from them, said the Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Maxwell Pereira.

Besides 2,464 persons for drunken driving, 2,05,453 persons were prosecuted for not putting seat belts and 30,108 prosecuted for honking horns in the traffic intersections.



People’s role in water management must: Mehta
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
Involvement of local people is a must for decentralisation of wastewater management and the civic bodies can look at incentives to residents like rebate of property tax to ensure greater public participation, Municipal Commissioner Rakesh Mehta said.

While delivering his speech on the concluding day of the two-day workshop on “Decentralisation of Wastewater Management”, the Municipal Commissioner said that resident welfare associations would have to play an important role in completing the project as it could be difficult for the government alone to undertake an exercise of such enormous proportions.

There was a consensus among the participants that there were limited natural resources and need of the hour was decentralising and making water and wastewater management effective.

The Chairman of the Delhi Jal Board, Mr P.K. Tripathi, endorsed the Commissioner’s view.



Hostels, hotel, cyber café – all flourish in this graveyard
Priyanka Gupta

New Delhi, January 11
It is a dead man’s land in Delhi’s dictionary, supposedly not suitable for human habitation. But multi-storeyed structures on the premises of Rajpura cemetery not only tell a sad story of human greed but also apathy of authorities for the past 19 years. Established in 1857, the three acres of burial ground near Patel Chest have now been grabbed by people. British soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in the line of duty, lie buried there. In 1911 Queen Mary and King George V came to Delhi and made it the Capital.

The cemetery had a boundary wall and people used to fear this place. The area was not developed. But in 1947 migrants from Pakistan resided in Kingsway Camp in tents and barracks. The barracks developed into a colony and later Delhi saw the development of Vijay Nagar, Mukherjee Nagar, Hudson Line, Reads Line, Outram Line and Advert Line and people started a roadside business near the cemetery. Slowly and steadily, they moved into the cemetery and managed to construct houses at this place. The situation worsened when unscrupulous people and land grabbers flooded the area. Henry James was the first man to enter this place.

Raj Singh, one of the oldest residents of this area, said, “I also started living at this place as I had no other place to put up in. I know about the illegal activities being carried out at this place. People have built their houses on the graves and some have broken the graves too. I filed a case in court but none of the authorities turned up in court and hence the writ petition was dismissed. The other residents abused me, tried to ruin me but the Almighty saved me somehow. I still want that the Archaeological Survey of India or some other authorities should protect the graves that have been left untouched”.

The statement of Raj Singh seemed true as while talking to him the reporter was nearly attacked by the people who do not want any story on the burial ground to appear. The area has small-scale factories, book houses, guesthouses, a cyber café, a scooter repair outfit, a church and a hotel. Also, students are staying here as the university is near. Akansha, a second year student of DU, said, “I never knew that this place is a cemetery. I am paying rent and staying here as my college is very near to this place. Moreover, commuting from here is affordable and feasible”.

Saloni Messi said, “We have been staying here for years. Jesus has allowed all of us to stay here. And anyone who will try to shift us from this place will be ruined by Him”. The area has been divided into two portions. One is still being used as a burial ground for Christians but the other one is used for residential purposes. It is also said that one Christian lady named the area as Christian Colony but Hindu, Sikhs and Muslims have all inhabited this place. More than 117 families are residing here and running their business also.

Raj Singh added, “We do receive foreign visitors inquiring about the graveyard but they are in a small number. But still we should not disgrace the dead like this. It’s a punishable act”. Many former politicians also have constructed their houses here and tried to regularise the area but failed. They have constructed women’s hostels in the name of their friends and kin. The MCD, the ASI and the DDA have no clue as to whom the area belongs to. Some people got the ‘tehbazari’ allotted by the MCD. The MCD officials say that the area outside the cemetery falls under their jurisdiction but not the premises. Graves and tombs can still be viewed here easily. In 1975, the plots were allotted to residents of Christian Colony in Mangolpuri but in 1979 they came back to this place. In 1980 the boundary wall of the area was demolished and shops were established. On September 23, 2001, demolition took place outside the graveyard but encroachments have come up again. Earlier, sex workers and people taking drugs were caught at this place. The police, municipal authorities and all top officials are informed from time to time but they are reluctant to do anything about it. Whose land is it anyway?



Thousands stranded as trains cancelled
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 11
Train services on the DUK section of the Northern Railway remained disrupted today, following late running of almost all long-distance mail and express trains. Although the dense fog has disappeared, the long distance and suburban trains were running behind schedule, stranding thousands of passengers at Sonepat and nearby railway stations. The Flying Mail and the Bathinda Inter-City Express were cancelled. The Flying Mail, originating from Darbhanga (Bihar), was running 25 hours behind schedule. The Unchaar Express, originating from Allahabad, was also running behind schedule.

The city and its adjoining areas are still in the grip of the severe cold wave. The cold wave forced the people to stay indoors for most of the day.

Although all government schools have been closed till January 13 following the orders of the state government, most of the privately managed schools continued to function. The district authorities have failed to take any action against the managements of these schools.



Villagers seek probe into Sarpanch’s dealings

Bhiwani, January 11
Residents of Prem Nagar village have sought an inquiry into the construction of a school building there. A deputation of villagers met the Deputy Commissioner and complained that the Sarpanch and Panchayat Secretary were misappropriating funds on the pretext of spending money on the construction of the school building at the village. The villagers sent a copy of the complaint to the Chief Minister and the District Development Officer.

The villagers alleged that the Sarpanch and secretary had misappropriated the fund in connivance with the Block Development and Panchayat Officer. They said that the amount obtained against leasing out the panchayati land had yet not been notified in the cash book. Moreover, irregularities had been committed in the record while leasing out the land. They alleged that no meeting of gram sabha had been convened for the last two years and wheat obtained under the ‘Kaam Ke Badle Anaj’ by the Panchayat had not been distributed to the poor. OC



Let go of all that you cling to for perfect happiness

ONE of the prayers that you see hung in some elite drawing rooms and religious places irrespective of the occupant’s creed or religion is a prayer by St Francis of Assisi. It was also the favourite of Mother Teresa of Kolkata. The prayer makes such an impact on the human soul and is so reflective of noble human aspirations, that it is worthy of repetition here: “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy.

“O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving, that we receive. It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned. It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.’’

Yet the author of the prayer, St Francis of Assisi, was a man of this world loving its pleasures and spending considerable sums of his father in banquets and such like in the company of his friends. He was even reprimanded often by his father, a merchant for his wasteful habits. How did this young man roaming around Assisi with friends and given to slight prodigality become wedded to poverty in his search for a nobler existence?

For all those who find riches and love of pleasure a stumbling block in the pursuit of spirituality, it will be a worthwhile effort to trace the path of this thirteenth century prophet to ‘life triumphant’. His life provides an example that the materialistic culture of man can be overcome and life can be lived on this planet in terms of the Gospels.

Once turning to the pages of the Gospel, seeking to give advice to Bernard, his first follower, he came across the words of Jesus to a rich young man: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’’

We read the young man to whom this advice was given went away sad, because he had great wealth. It was impossible to part with it all. No doubt such advice is bound to rattle any man of this world. But young Francis renounced all wealth and took up a vow of poverty, keeping it to the end of his life on earth. He prescribed two more vows as ideals to his followers: the vow of humility and the vow of obedience.

The Franciscan ideal of the religious life was simplicity in which natural desires for self-gratification, by indolence or luxury, were sternly disciplined, and physical needs were reduced to a minimum.

Francis had a healthy contempt for all the superfluities that distract a man from living his best life. He knew how easily luxuries become necessities, and essentials lost amidst the mass of accessories. These things he brushed aside with firmness, even with impatience. His way was a joyful flinging away of everything that might hinder his spiritual quest. For, a man must count all things as loss if he would win Christ.

The rule of poverty implied also the subjection of the intellect to the spirit, for not less than property, intellectualism may hinder the achievement of union with God. Reason indeed has a proper purpose in that process, since in meditation it may prepare the way for knowledge of God, but of itself it cannot attain thereto. Rather is God known and apprehended by intuition, “especially in those mystical states that are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect.’’

His distrust of learning was based on his conviction of its doubtful value in the spiritual quest. In those days many were flocking to universities for knowledge but he saw little increase of piety from the growth of learning. Rather he saw the grave dangers of sterile intellectualism how it might lead to spiritual atrophy. He saw the subtle danger of intellectual pride how mere knowledge may breed an arrogance that is the negation of the Franciscan spirit.

The Apostle says, “the letter killeth, but the Spirit quickeneth.’’ They are killed by the letter who seek only to know the words that may be esteemed more learned among others and that they may acquire great riches to leave to their relations and friends.

And those religious are killed by the letter, who will not follow the spirit of the Holy Scriptures, but who rather seek to know the words only and to interpret them to others.

He saw in poverty an implied rebuke of that pride of possession, which expresses itself in unlovely ostentatious behaviour. He saw how those who accumulate possessions are apt to look upon their property as something which does them credit, so that they reckon material as spiritual assets. And wealth confers a certain sort of power, with the temptation to pride of power. But poverty would foster humility and make for spiritual growth.

He felt too that when brothers had possessions, they would need arms to defend them for property gave rise to disputes and lawsuits and thus the love of God and men was hindered. Poverty was also an identification of the Brothers with the poor and needy, to whom they were to minister; it broke down all barriers and made them one with the meanest of men.

Once Francis attended mass in a small chapel, where he heard how the disciples had been sent out to preach the Gospel. He grasped something of the significance of the text but wanted to know more fully the commands. He was told that the disciples should not possess gold or silver or money nor carry along the way scrip, wallet or bread, or a staff they should not have shoes or two tunics; but they should preach the Kingdom of God and penance.

Interpreting the teaching of St Francis, Basilea Schlink of the Evangelical sisterhood of Mary, writes: “If you want to be perfect—that is, if you want to possess the noblest, happiest, richest and most meaningful life—let go of all that you cling to, renounce all things, your very self, and carry your cross with Jesus. Then this joy filled life, namely Jesus himself will be yours here on earth and one day in eternity. Yes, you will be able to share it with many others and also change the world about you.’’

M P K Kutty



2 karamcharis die while cleaning sewer

New Delhi
Two safai karamcharis of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi died and another received serious injuries while they were cleaning a sewer in the Badli Industrial Area this morning. The seriously injured karamcharis were rushed to Babu Jagjeevan Ram Hospital but the doctors on duty declared two of them brought dead. The deceased were identified as Vivek and Neeraj. Ravi is still fighting for life in the hospital, a spokesman of the Delhi Fire Service, said. TNS



Booty worth lakhs recovered, three held
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
The Mandir Marg police arrested three youths who were allegedly involved in a number of robbery cases. They were identified as Shyam Sunder (22), Kishore (30) and Karan (30). Robbed goods worth lakhs of rupees were recovered from their possession. A scooter which was used for the purpose of committing robberies by the suspects was seized, the police said.

According to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Parliament Street, Vikas Gulati and Santosh Kumar were returning from their workplace last evening from Noida on their motor cycles. When they stopped at Shankar Road for some purpose, the suspects came on a scooter and robbed Rs 7,000 from them. When the suspects were fleeing after robbing the victims, they raised the alarm and Shyam Sunder was arrested. His two associates were arrested later.

In another incident, the Tilak Nagar police arrested Satish, a resident of Uttam Nagar, on the charge of robbing a mobile phone. Two mobile phones were recovered from their possession. His associate is still absconding, the police said.

Killed in mishap

Mahender Singh, a resident of Najafgarh, was reportedly hit by an unknown car at Maulana Azad Road on Friday evening. He was take to RML Hospital by a PCR van where doctors on duty declared him brought dead. A case of death due to rash and negligent driving had been registered and the case was being investigated, the police said.



Four-star hotel comes up in Pitampura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11
There is good news for visiting businessmen and traders from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Hotel City Park, the first four-star hotel in North West Delhi, is ready with 60 well-equipped rooms that have luxurious facilities.

Situated in Pitampura, a stone’s throw away from the north west gateway to the Capital, off the GT-Karnal Highway, it is ideal for businessmen and visitors from the North who have to visit the industrial areas of Lawrence Road, Wazirpur, Azadpur, Punjabi Bagh, Kirti Nagar, Naraina, Maya Puri, Raja Garden and Rajouri Garden. Its six inter-linked conference rooms can be used for corporate as well as public functions. The hotel has two large banquet halls that can cater to over 1,000 persons each. Star chef Sanjeev Kapoor of Khana Khazana fame will be personally supervising and monitoring all multi-cuisine restaurants that the hotel offers.

The hotel has four specialty restaurants—Indiann (Yellow Chilli), Chinese (The Dragon), Italian and South Indian. The Indian and the Chinese restaurants along with the pub, Opium, will be opening in the middle of January.


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