Saturday, February 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Damp weather dampens spirits at Surajkund mela
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

Surajkund (Faridabad), January 31
The crowded Press preview to the fortnight-long Surajkund Crafts Mela came a cropper due to a combination of natural and man-made factors. As the rain gods threw cold water on the ambitious plans of the mela authorities, the craftspersons appeared worried about the fate of their unpacked goods brought all the way from remote villages in Uttaranchal.

The Press briefing began 30 minutes behind time as visibly restless public relations staff paced up and down in a bid to keep mediapersons occupied with hospitable attention and offerings of ‘gachak’, cookies, biscuits, chanas and tea. The bureaucrats, including Tourism Secretary Rathi Vinay Jha, Haryana Tourism Managing Director Navraj Sandhu and Secretary, Tourism, Culture and Information, Uttaranchal, showed up late without expressing a word of regret to the waiting journalists.

The briefing over, the media was invited to Hotel Raj Hans for lunch. The departure from the promised invitation of preview of the mela was blamed on the rain and the assumption that the mela grounds would not have any craftspersons.

A couple of photographers and journalists, who decided to gather impressions of the mela ground, returned disappointed. Only a total of six craftspersons could be seen under 250 mud huts on the grounds discussing the prospects of sales and earnings.

Their immediate concern was to preserve their priceless crafts — wood, wool and wax items from the fury of Nature.

Zohra Khatoon and Lalita Joshi from Uttaranchal said they did not know what to do with the Pashmina shawls worth Rs 2.5 lakh. ``We cannot unpack them here when it is raining. Our goods will get spoilt. The arrangements are well below our expectations.’’

Hari Shankar Bansal, one of the 354 craftspersons invited to participate in the 17th crafts mela, sat under a mud hut wondering where to place his driftwood articles. Pointing to a carton, Bansal said he had come all the way from Hardwar on the assurance of payment of to and fro fare, boarding and lodging. He alleged that the mela authorities had not cared to ensure a comfortable stay. “As many as 12 persons are packed in one room. There is no place to even remove your shoes.’’

Haryana Tourism MD Navraj Sandhu told the NCR Tribune they were not expecting this kind of incessant rain. ``We will do some kind of waterproofing over their huts. If they want to store their goods inside, we will provide a conference room in Hermitage huts, close to their dwelling units.’’

Ms G. Anupama, Administrator, Mela Authority, for the fourth time and Additional Resident Commissioner, Haryana Bhawan, said they were making arrangements to clear off the water. ``If it continues to pour, it will be a little bit of a damper. We are bringing in some dry sand and Badarpur to take care of the slush.’’ she said.

Bijendra Ahlawat adds: The organisers are worried. If it pours in the night, the start of the fair would be delayed. The authorities, however, claim that the formal inauguration by Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala will be held as scheduled on February 1.

A part of the problem is the rural ambience: the craftsmen display their wares under thatched huts which have `kutcha’ floors. As the huts are not waterproof, the floor is likely to get wet and the participants may find it difficult to protect their wares. Even the tracks leading to over 350 huts are more or less ‘kutcha’ and it gets muddy in the rain. This participants and visitors may have to wade through slush.

Most important, the rain could affect the attendance at the mela. The number of visitors fell sharply during the last mela on the day it rained.

The authorities are claiming that about 454 craftspersons and 152 artists will display their handloom and handicrafts creations. 



Goodbye fog, say hi to rain
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
Incessant rains lashing the Capital since late last night have brought in a wet weekend complete with the misery of traffic jams and water-logging.
With normal life being thrown out of gear, the Capital’s populace is grappling with water-logged streets, traffic snarls and even dead telephones. Heavy water-logging, reported in many areas of the city, caused traffic jams. Serpentine queues could be seen at Ashram Chowk and Tilak Bridge. The trouble spots were the ITO intersection, Minto Road, several colonies in the trans-Yamuna area, South Delhi and NorthWest Delhi. Rain showers early today meant a day off for many schoolchildren. Bus stops wore a deserted look and schools reported thin attendance. According to the Met Department, 25.2 mm rain was recorded between 8.30 pm yesterday and 2.30 this afternoon. The maximum temperature came down to 20.4 degrees Celsius, which is two degrees below normal.



City under siege for mahapanchayat
Our Correspondent

Meerut, January 31
The administration in Muzaffarnagar is fully geared for the Bharatiya Kisan Union mahapanchayat on February 1.
A large number of armed policemen from each district of Meerut zone and at least 12 companies of paramilitary forces were rushed to Muzaffarnagar on Friday evening to keep a tab on the BKU activists. Senior officials, including IGP, Meerut zone, Prem Chand Sabarwal, and Dy IG of the Saharanpur Range are also camping here.

Muzaffarnagar city resembled a cantonment today with the arrival of the police contingents. Eight schools and colleges have already been acquired by the administration to house the policemen while most of the hotels have been booked for the police officials.

The IG held a meeting with the officials and reviewed the police arrangements. A confidential report on the mahapanchayat was sent to Lucknow by the IGP after several rounds of meetings.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Muzaffarnagar, Bhazni Ram Mina, told the NCR Tribune in a telephonic conversation that 12 companies of paramilitary forces, 800 constables and 150 sub-inspectors, would be deployed at vantage points in the city on February 1. Besides, several senior police officials, including 3 additional superintendent of police, 7 circle officers, 6 Deputy Collectors from Saharanpur, Meerut, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Baghpat and Noida have also been stationed in Muzaffarnagar.

SSP Bhazni Ram Mina disclosed that the managements of DAV college, Islamiya Inter College, SD Degree college and Inter college have been told to declare a “holiday” following the arrival of police contingents in the city. SSP Mina claimed that adequate arrangements had been made to deal with any contingency. He assured that law and order would be maintained at all costs.

BKU’s national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait told the NCR Tribune that three former prime ministers — VP Singh, Chandra Shekhar and H D Deve Gowda — and Chief Ministers Amrinder Singh and Mufti Moh. Sayed had indicated that they would join the rally. Several other leaders, including Laloo Prasad Yadav, Jyoti Basu, Amar Singh and Motilal Vora, were likely to attend the rally.

If the BKU is successful in holding its mahapanchayat, it would be the biggest gathering of farmers and national leaders since 1988. Whatever the outcome, the BKU’s agitation has set the agenda for western UP. 



Man, 2-yr-old son mowed down
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 31
Virender a resident of Chandausi district in Uttar Pradesh, and his two-year-old son Akash were killed when they were hit by a goods train at the railway station here last night.

According to a report, Virender died on the spot whereas the boy succumbed to his injuries in a hospital. Virender along with his wife Geeta and his son reached the railway station around 2 am. When they were crossing the railway track for going outside the railway station, two of them were hit by a goods train passing through the railway station.

Officials of the Government Railway Police (GRP) sent the bodies of the victims for post-mortem examination. A case has also been registered and further investigations are in progress.

According to another report, three girl students sustained serious injuries while trying to board a moving train at Rajlu Garhi railway station, about 10 km from here, yesterday.

The injured girls were sent to Delhi hospitals in critical condition for treatment.

Passengers who had witnessed the mishap became agitated and thrashed two police constables travelling in the ladies compartment of the train.

It is stated that 2 HNK passenger shuttle was running about an hour behind schedule and when the train reached Rajlu Garhi railway station it was overcrowded with the passengers. The girl students tried to board the women’s compartment which was already packed to capacity. They failed to board it. In the meantime, the train had started moving and they again tried to board the train for reaching the school on time. But they fell down and sustained injuries.

Almost all suburban trains running on this section remain overcrowded and the passengers are seen dashing to board them and get seats in the coaches. The situation becomes worse when the milk vendors travel with their huge containers and keep them near the entrance gates, causing inconvenience to the passengers.



Biggest weakness of Indian diaspora is its disunity
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
It has been a long haul for Indians in the United States of America since 1790 when perhaps the first Indian to have migrated there was spotted on the streets — a lowly paid domestic helper to an American businessman. Two centuries later, the Indian community's average earnings are substantially higher than that of a native American.

It is precisely for this reason that the Indians are often dubbed as the emerging Jews in America as they earn substantially higher ($49,309) than native Americans ($37,152). These and some other interesting facets of the Indian diaspora are revealed in a book released in the Capital. Yet, Indian diaspora has failed to garner its due mileage in the US because of lack of unity, reveals a survey.

The biggest “weakness of the Indian community has been its inability to unite,” said a survey on Indian Diaspora and the Giving Patterns of the Indian Americans in USA conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation India.

Despite comprising 0.6 per cent of the total American population, which is larger than any other community in the US, the Indian diaspora have not been as successful as the Jewish community, who strive to enhance the Jewish experience wherever they reside.

According to R. Gopa Kumar, the author of the study, the Punjabi community, one section of the society under study, shows immense interest in the advancement of their kith and kin at their places of origin.

“They send remittances to the families back home to buy land and other properties. They also intervene in decision making process of the family. They encourage children of their relatives to get higher education and also facilitate their immigration,” the author said.

‘’It is found that philanthropy is there in the blood of every Indian American and need of the hour is to motivate and channelise it for a common cause. A large proportion of the respondents is looking forward for credible organisations with more tax benefits and good cause to enhance their philanthropy,’’ Mr R Gopa Kumar said.

The survey found that an average Indian American contributes up to $300 a year for social causes in India. It may not appear a very significant amount, but if just half the Indian population in the U.S. donated that much, this country would receive more than $250 million for social causes every year, the survey said.

According to Mr Gopa Kumar, more and more people among around 1.7 million Indian Americans are keen to up their charities to 10 times what they give now. Mr Gopa Kumar conducted his study on a sample of 150 Indians in Washington with support from the Johns Hopkins University of the U.S.

The survey contained in the book reveals that religion is a motivational factor for charitable donations, IT and medical professionals are more generous with donations, 36.7 of the respondents are highly philanthropic and have given charitable donations 3-4 times in the past two years.

Among all respondents, only 7.3 percent donated more than $3,000 in the past two years. Nearly 40 percent donated between $500 and $1,000. The donations came overwhelmingly during times of crises, such as the Kargil war of 1999, the Gujarat quake and other natural calamities. The rate of immigration accelerated in the 90s, fuelled by the demand of software professionals. The first recorded arrival of an Indian in the U.S. was an unnamed man from Madras (now Chennai) seen on the streets of Salem in Massachusetts by a clergyman in 1790. 



SC asks IGL bosses to reply to price hike charges
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
The Supreme Court on Friday directed past and present executives of Indraprastha Gas Limited, the sole distributor of CNG in the NCT of Delhi, to explain their stand on the allegation of misleading the court and hiking the price of gas without any basis.

Taking allegations levelled by amicus curiae Harish Salve in this regard seriously, a Bench comprising Chief Justice V. N. Khare, Mr Justice Y. K. Sabharwal and Mr Justice Arijit Pasayat asked IGL chief A.K. Dey, his predecessor Rajeev Sharma and former officials Vincent Lobo and P. S. Bhargava to be present in the court on February 14.

The court allowed them to file their response to the submissions made by Mr Salve with regard to their changing stand on dispensation and compression capacity as well as the allegation that prices were hiked without any basis just to raise the profits of the company. Taken aback by the admission of the IGL for the first time that it had given wrong figures about its CNG dispensation capacity, the court on September 9 last year had summoned the company chief while asking the Union Government to take steps to ensure that smooth CNG supply to vehicles in the Capital was not affected.



Vandana murdered for taking lid off illicit ties
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, January 31
The case of a woman, Vandana, who was murdered by her brother-in-law, who later himself committed suicide in Indirapuram, on Tuesday has taken a new turn.
Her parents have alleged she was murdered because she had threatened to expose the misdeeds, including illicit relations, of Ravinder, Bunty, Jagdish and Rambir - cousins of her husband Chander Pal.

Chander Pal had said Vandana had stopped Ravinder from making a phone call. This had annoyed him no end and he had murdered her. Ravinder murdered Vandana just opposite Indirapuram police station. The latter slit her throat.

Vandana’s elder brother, Om Veer, sobbingly said all this at the time of her cremation. He said the entire family of Chander Pal was involved in the conspiracy to murder his sister.

Ravinder, Bunty, Jagdish and Rambir were all debauchees and Vandana used to reprimand them for their misdeeds. That is why they wanted to get rid of her.

A few months earlier too they had tried to kill her by setting her on fire, Om Veer said. He said Ravinder had told him over the phone in the morning on the fateful day when she was murdered that he would remove the impediment and irritant from his path. But at that time the implication of his words had not quite sunk on him, Om Veer added.



Indictment of Bansi by panel part of conspiracy: HVP
Tribune News Service

Panipat, January 31
Terming the indictment of HVP supremo Bansi Lal and his son, Surinder Singh, by the Chahal Commission, probing various aspects of prohibition, as a conspiracy, Mr Surinder Ahlawat, general secretary of the party’s youth wing, threatened a state-wide agitation on the issue.

Mr Ahlawat alleged that the Chautala government was making all-out efforts to soil the images of the two leaders on the pretext of the indictment by the commission. In fact, the police, under pressure from the Chautala government, had forced those persons, who were booked for liquor smuggling by the Bansi Lal government during prohibition, to file affidavits before the commission, he alleged.

On the other hand, the legal cell of the HVP was prepared to fight the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, the HVP leader said and alleged that common citizens were at the receiving end of both the police and the anti-social elements. Even as Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and his close associates claimed that foreign investments worth millions of dollars were coming to the state following their foreign jaunts, the industry was fleeing the state. The lopsided policies of the state government and deteriorating law and order situation were to be blamed for this, he asserted.

Targeting the Congress, Mr Ahlawat alleged that the Congress had failed to perform the role of the Opposition party and in a way was a party to the “anti-people” decisions of the Chautala government. People were fed up with the INLD and the Congress and the HVP would romp home with a thumping majority in the next Assembly elections, Mr Ahlawat claimed.

Criticising the district administration for its failure to provide basic amenities, Mr Ahlawat said the claim of the Haryana government that it had spent Rs 233 crore on developmental works was a “sham” and the HVP would probe the acts of omissions and commissions of the officials when it formed the next government.

Under a special drive launched by the HVP, 2,500 unemployed youths from the Samalkha constituency had been registered by the party, he said, adding the youths were a dissatisfied lot under the present regime as they were getting a raw deal. With a major cut in the government jobs, crime seemed to be the only hope for the youth to earn two square meals a day, he added.



Politics of rally over SYL canal 
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, January 31
The politics over the SYL canal issue in Haryana continues to dominate political discourse in the state. The stage is set for yet another political rally. In the game of one-upmanship, it is now the turn of the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly and the Congress Legislative Party leader, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, to announce his ‘course of action’ over the politically sensitive issue of the SYL canal.

Mr Hooda has decided to organise a rally in the town on March 2 to put pressure on the central government to expedite the construction work on the incomplete canal. This move of Mr Hooda is seen as a replication of the rally organised by the HPCC chief, Mr Bhajan Lal, here on December 29.

The CLP leader arrived here to address a meeting of the party workers and asked them to mobilise the people for the proposed ‘Adhikar Rally’ to be held at the Jahanara Stadium here on March 2. He also threatened to blockade all roads leading to the national Capital if the Centre did not facilitate the construction of the canal by a central agency.

He blamed the leaders of all the political parties in the state who had been exploiting the issue for political purpose. He said that the political parties had come to power in the past by ‘cheating and misleading’ the people on this issue.

“It is not the time to scuffle for getting credit over the judgement of the Supreme Court but to seriously raise the issue on the appropriate platforms so that the water can reach the perched fields of the farmers”, Mr Hooda said, while interacting with party workers at the Punjabi Dharamshala here.

The Congress leader alleged that the Centre was adopting a ‘dilly-dallying’ tactics on the construction of the SYL canal, which exposed their partisan attitude towards the people of south Haryana.

He claimed that the ‘Adhikar rally’ would be a massive success and change the political equation in the state. It is noteworthy here that the District Congress Committee chief, Mr Raghubir Singh Kadian, had said in a press conference that about 17 to 18 DCC chiefs and 14 Congress MLAs would participate in the proposed rally. He said that besides putting pressure on the Centre for the completion of the SYL canal, the Congress rally would also call for the judicious distribution of the canal waters. He said the rally would also protest against the lack of proper drought relief to the farmers of this district.

The DCC chief accused the three “Lals” of Haryana for exploiting the people of the state. He did not attend the rally organised by Mr Bhajan Lal here on December 29. Mr Kadian maintained that the HPCC chief has been engaged in the politics of ‘mukutposhis’, and no one talked about the policies of the Congress Party.



Maken outlines steps to put Delhi on fast track
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
Delhi Transport Minister Ajay Maken today announced here that about 200 buses belonging to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) will have Automatic Vehicle Tracking System (AVTS) by the end of March for better public transport management and for disciplining erring drivers.

Mr Maken, while speaking at a seminar on `Managing public transport’, organised by the Centre for Spatial Database and Management and Solutions (CSDMS) during the ongoing MAP INDIA 2003 conference in the Capital, said that as a pilot project, 80 buses had already been fitted with the modern-day transport management system.

The AVTS technology, with support from the Remote Sensing Transport System (RSTS) and the Global Positioning System (GPS), can check the routes, speed and stoppages of buses. The minister said that the Delhi Government planned to make the AVTS mandatory for other public transport systems, including buses, taxis and autorickshaws.

The autorickshaw fair chart recently introduced by the Delhi Government, he said, had been developed with the help of Geographic Information System (GIS) with help from the Survey of India. The modern-day technologies would help in checking harassment of users of public transport system and controlling traffic chaos.

The minister further said that the new high capacity buses and electronic trolley buses to be introduced in the Capital soon would also be fitted with the RSTS. The traffic lights coming in their way would be synchronised with these buses so that they got priority than the other mode of vehicles. Moreover, the passengers waiting for these buses at stops would come to know about their arrival time two minutes in advance.

Mr Maken said that the Delhi Government was also planning to use the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) for controlling everyday traffic jams. With this, the vehicle owner would come to know about traffic jams ahead in advance so that he could choose an alternative route avoiding the jam.



Electric trolley buses soon

New Delhi: After the Metro, the Government of NCT of Delhi is toying with the idea of introducing electric trolley buses and high capacity bus system to augment the mass rapid transport system in the Capital that has more numbers of vehicles than all the three other metros put together.

According to Transport Minister Ajay Maken, the proposals have been cleared. In the first phase a 19-kilometre-strech from Ambedkar Nagar in South Delhi and Inter-State Bus Terminus would likely become operational. Electric trolley bus will be operated on a 16-kilometre-stretch from Hari Nagar in West Delhi to the Central Secretariat. Phase I of both the projects will cost an estimated Rs 100 crore. The idea of introducing electric trolley buses and high capacity bus system had been mooted first in the Transport Policy unveiled by the government last year. The minister said seven corridors, five for high capacity bus system and two for electric trolley bus, covering 132 km length has been identified by the Committee on Sustainable Transport headed by Chief Secretary.



Blessed are the couples blessed by this patriarch
Parmindar Singh

Noida, January 31
Born in March 1908, Pandit Sohan Lal, who is endearingly called as “Raja Bhaya”, was one of the most respected and loved patriarchs of the town.
A simple soul, Sohan Lal had to wage a grim struggle for survival in his childhood as a young man, but had never deviated from the path of honesty, truthfulness and sincerity. He was a staunch believer in doing a good turn to one and all whenever he could. In spite of having faced a series of hardships and emotional setbacks, Pandit Sohan Lal did not compromise on honesty, self-respect and truthfulness.

Soon his name spread to the surrounding villages as a ‘Karam Yogi’ who carried a wise head over his young shoulders. He was a sought-after person whose wise counsel everyone was keen to listen.

He was respected in about 100 villages of the area. He is credited with having resolved over 3,000 disputes through the panchayat in his life, saving a large number of his simple rural brethren from going to courts in litigation.

Sohan Lal had also arranged over 10,000 matrimonial alliances. Popularly known as `Brahmin Shiromani’, none of the persons who entered into matrimonial alliances blessed by Pandit Sohan Lal is ever known to have faced any rough weather. His blessing of a matrimonial alliance was a guarantee for a long, happy and blissful married life.

And to those who had ever offended or annoyed him, he was broadminded enough to forgive and forget. That is why he was endearingly known as “Raja Bhaya”.

On January 19, 2003, Pandit Sohan Lal, Raja Bhaya to hundreds, left for his heavenly abode, leaving behind three sons, three daughters, nine grandsons, nine granddaughters, 12 great grandsons and six great granddaughters and of course thousands of friends and well-wishers.

Last year, Pandit Sohan Lal was honoured by a number of voluntary organisations like the Senior Citizens Forum, the Noida Manch etc for his life-long services to the society. A shawl was presented by former Air Chief Marshal Arjun Singh at a brief but graceful ceremony in Sector 21 here.

When asked what changes he had witnessed in the society in his life time, this was Raja Bhaya’s cryptic reply: “In the last 50 years or so, everything has turned black — mann, tan and dhan (heart or mind, body and money).”

On his death, thousands of people from neighbouring villages reached his village Chaura Ragunathpur on foot to pay their last respects to their Pandit Sohan Lal Raja Bhaya. Many among them had moist eyes.

“He had indeed taught that one could live with love, dignity, honesty and still be able to serve his fellow beings,” said a close friend and a neighbour. He had proved that man could shape his own destiny.

Sohan Lal lost his father, Pandit Shri Ram, even before his birth. At eight, he had to take the responsibility of the family on his young shoulders. At 18, he was married to Parsandi, daughter of the patwari, Govind Sahai of Raispur village, Ghaziabad. But soon after, he lost his mother, Bhagwati Devi.



Speaking out


Do you have a grouse against the apathetic attitude of the authorities? Are you fed up with the dilly-dallying tactics of officialdom and the stranglehold of red tapism? If so, please write to us. We have a full half page every week reserved just for you. The letters should be clearly marked, Speaking out, NCR Tribune, First Floor, Dyal Singh Library Building, 1 Deen Dayal Upadhaya Marg, New Delhi-110002.

The New Year celebrations have acquired various tones like obscene dances, drunken brawls, copious use of drugs, ostentatious dinner with gift packages etc. The New Year gift culture has bred another phenomenon. It has fostered a feeling of graft in the mind of file-pushers and bureaucrats. I am not badmouthing the gift culture nor am I throwing tantrums against the pious culture of gift sharing.

But I am against the temptation to give a gift, sowing the seed of chronic desire. Ms Mayawati is the living example. The growing influence of gift culture in government offices has gone to the extent of money laundering, done for seeking favour and granting favours. Under this gift culture, the sincere, honest and work-loving persons suffer at both ends.

Repercussions of Mayavati’s gift culture are pernicious. What a great shock to late Ambedkar’s vision? The gift giver creates a nuisance amongst the soft hearts and makes hostile atmosphere against the gentlefolk in the offices.

The suit lengths, saris, rings and earrings, anklets etc are the baits to bureaucrats, who have streaks of selfishness and greediness. These negative streaks outweigh the positive traits of work culture manifested in fairness, impartiality, transparency etc. The officers in Chandigarh are more prone to the gift culture than those in Delhi.

If such an aberration in the government offices becomes a common feature, then the future of bright and progressive India will be jeopardised within decades. Save India from the ugly clutches of gift and greed syndrome! The sooner it is, the healthier.


Report on mystery deaths wrong

This is in reference to the news report by Mr Pradeep Sharma from Panipat in the ‘NCR Tribune’ dated January 10 titled ‘Mystery deaths baffle doctors’.

It has been wrongly reported that doctors at the PGIMS, Rohtak were unable to diagnose the disease and expressed inability to diagnose the same and sent back two patients. In fact, one of the patients, Farmina, was well diagnosed, treated, cured and discharged with no complaints and the other patient, Hasina, was taken back by the attendants of the patients against medical advice.

You are requested that a suitable rebuttal may please be published in your esteemed newspaper.


Child labour menace

Recently, the tragic accident in a matchstick and fireworks factory at Muddukkumeendampatti village in Tamil Nadu caused a ruckus all over India. The accident has exposed the inhuman exploitation of children. Children are the delicate gift of nature and considered as pure as God for their innocence. Therefore, those who exploit children as low-wage labourers should be severely punished. Today’s children are tomorrow’s citizens. By preventing children from studying and making them work in factories, we are leading our country towards incompetence.

In the fire accident that occurred at the matchstick factory, 16 women and girls died. Many of them were disabled. The matchstick factories in our country are not observing any norms and they do not have safety equipment like fire extinguishers.

Moreover, these factory owners are trampling on the Child Labour Act (1986) and the Factories Act (1950). The illiteracy level among girls working in these factories is also invariably higher. A survey by Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) shows that 90 per cent of the workers are girls. Seventy per cent of the boys attend school while 80 percent of the girls work full-time in matchstick units in the villages of Tamil Nadu.

Many of these young girls must have dreamt of becoming doctors, engineers or teachers. But their dreams are being washed away and in return of a decent living, we give tools in the tiny and weak hands of children.

According to the CACL report from school records, most of the girls had started working in the factory even when they were only in Class V. And the girls who were working in the factory on the accident day were between the ages of 13 and 16. Most of the girls were employed at the age of 10.

The long distance between the school and villages is also one of the main reasons for these girls for not joining schools.

Many big organisations like the UNICEF, Tamil Nadu Government and Child Labour Eradication Action Plan (1993) and the Tamil Nadu Sub-Committee Report on the Elimination of Child Labour in the Matchstick and Fireworks Industries (1993) are working to increase awareness about education among children. Still, the literacy graph is not equal. Children can easily be seen working in the dangerous units, which deploy no safety measures. We have various laws for banning child labour. But all these will be in vain unless the state and central governments take serious steps for strict implementation of such laws. Education will not only help in making a person intellectually sound, but will enable him to earn his livelihood in the course. Our posterity will never forgive us if, instead of books, we give our children tools.

Many NGOs are coming up with various positive suggestions to for elimination of child labour. Jodhpur’s Delhi Public School is the glaring example. It has brought a ray of hope for those children who cannot study due to lack of means at home. This school provides children education, books, stationary and uniforms. India today needs many such schools like this. Instead of indulging in extravagant indulgences like fashion shows, entertainment shows, our society should devote resources for the uplift of children.

SHWETA KOHLI, Shahdara, Delhi

Old age woes

Apropos Ujjal Pal Singh’s letter “Woes of Aged” (January 4), I wish to add that more than anything else, it is the feeling of loneliness that troubles the aged persons in their last days. The problem of loneliness is, to a great extent, the result of modernisation and urbanisation. Joint families have given way to nuclear families, which in turn have resulted in single parent families. The migration of children to other places within or outside the country for earning livelihood has aggravated the problems of the aged.

The conflict of interests between the husband-wife and the parents often causes tensions. The situation becomes desperate, when there is only one living parent. The children should, therefore, be more considerate towards their aged parent(s), as it is their duty to make the remaining days of their parent(s) truly happy and satisfying. The parent(s) should also adjust to the changed times, and should not try to curb the social obligations of their children.

Both parents and children need each other for support and security. A family without elders would lack depth and colour. We should learn to cherish aged people for their experience, values and qualities. “Like a candle in a holy place, so is an old man’s smiling face”.

O. P. SHARMA, Faridabad

Candlelit autopsies!

Indeed it was very shocking to learn that post-mortem examinations are being conducted in candlelight in Medical College, Meerut. As per the medical rules, autopsies have to be conducted under proper light; a minimum of 16 tube lights and 100-W bulbs must be there in the room.

As a matter of fact, the work of a doctor during post-mortem examinations is a very critical process, as they have to find the real cause of death. Only God knows whether such works done under candlelight can bring justice to the victim’s relatives. The Union Health Minister must look into the matter personally and issue orders to conduct autopsies only under proper light required as per the medical rules.


Backward in Jhajjar

It is very late to have a special focus on Jhajjar. Not only `Nehru College is in disrepair’ (‘NCR Tribune’ report on January 25) but the whole of the district is in utter disrepair despite the fact that this very area gave Haryana its first Chief Minister in 1966. Pt Bhagwat Dayal Sharma was elected MLA in 1962 and he became the first Chief Minister of Haryana. He did not do anything for this most backward part of the newly created state.

Not only him, Prof Sher Singh from this area represented in the pre-Partition Punjab Assembly and was also a senior minister in the government led by the most powerful Chief Minister of the then joint Punjab, Sardar Pratap

Singh Kairon. Professor Sher Singh had also represented the people of Jhajjar in Parliament for about one-and-a-half decade. During that period, he had occupied very important positions in the Union Government as the Minister of State for Education, Communication Minister and Defence Minister. But he could not do anything concrete for his constituency. Consequently people rejected him forever. He was a politician of repute and has been a very gentle person, but he had always been a sleeping representative. He has now left for New Delhi to settle there.

Jhajjar is a prominent historical place. Before 1857, it was a state headquarters ruled by the Nabab. Later on, it was merged with Jind state. At the time of Independence in 1947, it was a tehsil in Punjab. Now it has gained the status of a district headquarter.

It is still economically backward. The state of education is quite evident from the write-up by Deepender. The people are simple and hardworking. That is why the students of Nehru College have been showing very good results despite acute shortage of college staff. The credit for the good performance must go to the college staff led by Principal Dagar.

The people of Jhajjar must get together to raise a demand for the posting of the requisite number of teachers at the college. Steps may be taken collectively by the people of the area to get the college building repaired at the earliest.

O. P. Duhan, Kamla Nagar, Rohtak



Wheat stocks damaged
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 31
The Haryana Government has suffered a huge financial loss on account of the non-lifting of procured wheat from the new grain market and the godown of the Food and Supplies Department in this city.

According to a report, thousands of wheat bags worth several crores of rupees, procured by the state and central government agencies last year, are still lying in the open due to non-availability of space in the covered godowns in this city and elsewhere in the district. Bulk quantity of this wheat has reportedly been damaged by the monsoon and winter rains as well as the insects.

The authorities concerned and the high-ranking officers of the procurement agencies are allegedly not bothered about the damage being caused to the procured wheat by the rains, insects and other weather conditions. They have also failed to visit the mandis and godowns of various procurement agencies to take stock of the situation and the extent of damage.

Leaders of various political parties, including the Congress and the Haryana Vikas Party, have urged the state government to order a high-level probe into the public complaints about the damage caused to the wheat stocks procured by the official procurement agencies and still lying in the open. They also demanded immediate transfer of the officials responsible for the loss caused to the procured wheat by the rains and insects. They also urged the state government to take immediate steps for the lifting of the wheat stocks.



Phone tariff hike flayed 
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 31
The Haryana Pradesh Janata Dal (U) president, Mr Ved Parkash Vidrohi, has demanded immediate withdrawal of the hike in charges of basic telephone services and rentals, calling it another anti-people policy of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.

In a signed press statement issued here today, he said the decision would hit the common man’s budget quite hard. In the bargain, the money would fill the coffers of few business houses and private companies. He also said that the telephone tariff hike was to enable cellular companies make profits at the cost of the common people. He said that the people of Haryana were agitated at the hike and were waiting to teach the BJP a lesson soon.

Mr Vidrohi said that the Centre’s policies had failed and now it was also indulging in corruption. He said that large sums of money had changed hands, reinforcing the monopoly of the few in the sector. He called upon the people to revolt against the brazen corruption that the Centre was involved in.



Sikkim cop rides on a peace mission
Tribune News Service

Sub-Inspector B.K.Pradhan on a peace mission covering 20 states in 70 days
Sub-Inspector B.K.Pradhan on a peace mission covering 20 states in 70 days in the Capital on Friday. — Tribune Photo 

New Delhi, January 31
Bhoj Kumar Pradhan, 50-year-old Sub Inspector in the Sikkim Police, is on an un-policeman like mission. He is on an all-India tour to spread messages of unity, peace and honesty, particularly in observing traffic rules to prevent accidents.

The hardened policeman reached the Delhi Police Headquarters to meet his counterparts today. He met police personnel in different branches, particularly in the traffic police, and advised them to perform their duties honestly and treat the citizens as friends and impart traffic education to avoid accidents.

When the communal riots broke out in Gujarat, Bhoj Kumar Pradhan was so moved that he immediately planned to embark on a national tour to spread the message of unity, peace and brotherhood. He discussed the idea with his superiors in Sikkim who encouraged him and helped in giving it a practical shape. Thereafter, he approached the chief of the Sikkim Police with this idea who granted him 70-day time to tour 20 states.

He started his tour on December 20 and so far he has covered 15 states. He has toured Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Pondicherri, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi. He has to tour five other states – Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

He is touring the states on a Yamaha motorcycle of 125 CC. While driving the bike, he wears a jacket on which the mission of his national tour is boldly displayed. The average speed of his motorcycle does not exceed the limits fixed by the road engineers. He always carries a first-aid box while driving the motorcycle.



HVP welcomes court decision on Chahal panel 
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, January 31
The Haryana Vikas Party (HVP) has welcomed the recent decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in which it quashed the notification regarding setting up of Chahal Commission. The commission was set up by the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, to inquire into the irregularities allegedly committed when prohibition was enforced by the government of Mr Bansi Lal.

In a statement here today, the president of the youth wing of the HVP, Mr Nripendra Singh, said the Chief Minister had recently announced that the report submitted by the Chahal Commission would be implemented in toto. The HVP leader alleged that the announcement was a ‘political stunt’ of the chief minister.

Funds collection issue: The Haryana Pradesh Youth Congress Committee has urged the leader of Opposition, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, to accept the challenge of the Chief Minister for giving account of funds collected during the farmers’ agitation at Kandela in Jind.

In a statement here today, Mr Sushil Saini, general secretary of the committee, suggested that Mr Hooda should immediately make public the account of funds collected during the Kandela incident, as the image of the party was at stake.

Ultimatum to Modi Mills: Ghaziabad: The former Prime Minister, Mr V P Singh, has served an ultimatum to the proprietors of Modi Sugar and Cloth Mills that an agitation would be launched against them if they fail to pay the farmers their arrears within a week. 



LJP seeks CBI probe into power bill ‘loot’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan may have cosied up to the Congress in the run up to the Gujarat Assembly elections but in the NCT of Delhi that goes to the polls later this year, the party has sided with the BJP in demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the “state-sponsored loot” of people in unauthorised colonies, resettlement colonies and slums who are having to pay electricity bills to private contractors.

The BJP on Wednesday had alleged that private contractors, elected representatives and officials were laundering the money that was being collected in the name of development charge etc. Joining the BJP in seeking a probe, Lok Janshakti Party vice-president Ramvir Singh Bidhuri today charged the Sheila Dikshit ministry with turning a blind eye to the organised loot.

Likening it to extortion, Mr Bidhuri said: “The money being collected is not going to the state exchequer but into the hands of MLAs and private contractors.” There was no account of how much money had been collected since 1999 when the single point scheme was started. Further, he said, the 2,500-odd private contractors had so far collected Rs 4,000 per connection and Rs 115 per meter as development charge. Since 10 lakh connections had been sanctioned since 1999, the amount was a staggering Rs 400 crore.

Mr Bidhuri told mediapersons that the LJP would demonstrate in front of the Secretariat on February 9. Besides Mr Paswan, former prime ministers V. P. Singh and H. D. Deve Gowda would join the demonstrators.

The Congress meanwhile has dismissed the allegations. Power Minister Ajay Maken accused the BJP of trying to draw political mileage out of the issue. He reiterated that the power reforms were carried out on the basis of the Union Government’s directives.

Marketing summit: The School of Management Studies, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, organised a marketing summit on ‘Winds of Change: Raising Marketing Storms’ here today.

Addressing the meet, Mr Michel Caillouet, Head of Delegation, European Union Commission, said, “Forces of innovation unleashed by the rapid advances in technology have heralded the advent of the global village.” He went on to add that “winds of change have brought several challenges to the society and it has brought about a new lexicon. Whenever there is a transition from one economy to another, the political economy has witnessed a change”.

Cops get PM’s medal: Constables of the city police Raj Kumar Rathi and Shiv Charan Meena have been awarded prestigious Prime Minister’s Police Medal for Life Saving.

Raj Kumar was on surveillance duty near Pontoon Bridge in Geeta Colony on May 30, 2001 when he noticed a crowd shouting that two girls and one woman were drowning in the Yamuna. He jumped into the river and swam through the muddy waters to rescue the woman and her two daughters. At present, the constable is posted with the West district police.

Shiv Charan was on patrolling duty in East of Kailash on March 13, 2001 when he noticed a fire in a jhuggi cluster at midnight. He informed the police control room. Residents of the cluster were fast asleep and were unaware of the inferno. The constable woke up the residents and started evacuating them. He rescued 14 people including small children. Former prime minister V. P. Singh also reached the spot and was all praise for the gallant act of the constable, the police said.



Rational distribution of water stressed

New Delhi: Faced with frequent power failure and water scarcity, the Government of NCT of Delhi has said that only an equitable distribution of available amenities could solve the water and power problems of the Capital.

“Though 140 million gallons of water will be treated in 2003, it will still fall short by 100 million gallons according to present needs and only a rational distribution of water and power in the city will be able to solve the problem,” Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told a conference hosted by Assocham recently. TNS



Auto, taxi fare hike on hold

New Delhi: The revised autorickshaw and taxi fares will not come into force from Saturday as the Lieutenant Governor has not given his approval for the same. Raj Niwas is understood to have sent back the file to Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

The Government of NCT of Delhi had announced that the new fares would come into force from February 1. However, after the Chief Minister has had a meeting with the Lieutenant Governor, if she were to send the file to Raj Niwas again, the Lieutenant Governor would have to approve it. TNS



Woman raped by fellow villager
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 31
A 26-year-old woman was reportedly raped by her acquaintance in her jhuggi at Viklang camp in the Lodhi Colony area. Both the suspect and the victim belong to same village in Pratapgarh district in UP. The victim lived separately from her husband. The suspect, Satyadeen Maurya, came to meet her last evening and raped her, the police said.

Woman strangled: Poonam (55) was strangled to death in her house in Rajender Nagar in Central district this afternoon. When the incident occurred, she was alone in the house. Her son, Sunil, is in Mumbai while daughter is in the USA. Recently, she had employed a domestic servant. The police control room received a message that the woman is lying unconscious. When the police reached, she was found dead. The servant has absconded. A murder case has been registered, the police said.

Hoax caller held: The Railway Police arrested Rabinder Singh (26), a resident of Ludhiana, on the charge of making a hoax call. He came from Mumbai yesterday by the Rajdhani Express and was to go to Chandigarh by the Shatabdi Express. As he was getting late, he made a call to the police that there was a bomb in the train, the police said


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