Tuesday, June 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S


Placement racket busted, 15 kids rescued
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 9
With the arrest of two suspects, the North-West district police today claimed to have busted a placement racket in which minor children were procured from Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh and then exploited as household servants in the Capital. The police rescued 15 children, all below the age of 18 years, from their clutches.

The suspects, Arun Lakra and his wife Lata, were arrested from Shakurpur in the Saraswati Vihar area yesterday. They run a placement agency in the name of R. N. Placement and Tutor Bureau in Shakurpur. They recruited children of poor families in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand, luring them with the promise of good salaried jobs, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-West), Mr Sanjay Singh, said.

The DCP said the racket came to light when a girl, Angani (11), who worked as a maid in Saraswati Vihar, reported to the local police that she had not been paid her wages for the past two months. She also complained of cruelty at the hands of her employers. The police helped her in getting her salary and rescued her from her employer. When Angani was questioned she told the police how she came to the Capital for household work.

Working on the lead given by Angani, the police arrested Arun Lakra and Lata. Fourteen other children were rescued from various houses in Paschim Vihar, Janakpuri, Pitampura, Model Town and Shakarpur. All these children are minors.

The victims are illiterate or school dropouts. They all belong to poor families.

During interrogation Arun Lakra disclosed that he belonged to Ranchi. He had been living in the Capital for the past seven years. He and his wife were running the placement agency from Shakurpur. They had started the agency in March 2001 but got it registered in February last year.

They recruited children from their native places in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Either Arun Lakra or a woman, Pushpa, a resident of Ranchi, approached the families of the children for recruitment.

Their fares from Jharkhand to Delhi were paid by the placement agency. Pushpa was paid Rs 1,000 for every child she enticed. Parents of the children were promised good money as monthly earnings.

At the placement agency, the children are categorised as raw, untrained, semi-trained and trained. The office register showed that the salary for a raw hand was Rs 700-Rs 800, for untrained Rs1,000-Rs 1,200, for semi-trained Rs 1,500-Rs 1,800 and for trained Rs 2,000-2,500.

The police said Rs 2,000 was charged by the placement agency as advance money from the prospective employers. The children and employers were made to adhere to an 11-month contract.

One month’s salary was taken by the placement agency as placement charges. In addition to this, Rs 200-Rs 500 was also usurped by the agency from each month’s salary.

The salary was taken by the agency from the employer and the children were getting it at the end of the 11-month contract.


Ghaziabad’s most wanted elude cops
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, June 9
The Ghaziabad police, who were in the headlines for killing at least six dreaded criminals from outside the district recently, have failed to nab wanted criminals of its own district with huge rewards on their heads.

One of the key accused in the Nitish Katara murder case, which had hogged the limelight in newspapers and TV channels last year, has still managed to evade arrest. The police managed to arrest the son and nephew of MP D. P. Yadav, Vikas and Vishal, respectively, but the third accused, Sukhdev, is still beyond their reach. Although

he is carrying an award of Rs 10,000 on his head, the Ghaziabad police have failed to trace him.

Sallaudin of Begumabad, who is wanted in numerous cases of murder, looting and kidnapping and carries an award of Rs 10,000, continues to be elusive.

The dreaded Vijay Phafrana is wanted in Modinagar for three murders and in many other cases. Also carrying a reward of Rs 10,000, he too has eluded the police. What is more, the police have failed to arrest Rakesh and Sukhpal, accused of abducting a woman constable posted at Sihani Gate.

The police had also announced a reward of Rs 5,000 on Hapur’s Anil alias Tillu who is accused of murdering an Army man. In this case too, the police have failed to come up with any results.

Krishan Pal, a criminal of Bambhota village under the Kavi Nagar police station, accused of murdering two persons, and Tara, who had murdered a couple in Sadigpur village of Hafizpur, also continue to inaccessible. These criminals also carry an reward of Rs 2,500 each on their heads.

If the police have no clue to the whereabouts of their own colleague and have failed to bring the culprits to book, what can an ordinary citizen expect from them?


Cong accused of fudging electoral rolls
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 9
The Delhi BJP today charged the Congress with creating a fake voters’ list ahead of the Assembly elections.

“The Congress is manipulating the electoral rolls. The Election Commission’s (EC’s) decision to reject nearly 6.5 lakh names from the rolls is a testimony to that,” BJP Parliamentary Party spokesman and Member of Parliament from South Delhi V. K. Malhotra told reporters.

Mr Malhotra said the EC had assured the BJP that a special drive would be taken up to issue photo identity cards. “If the EC fails to do so, then we will approach the Union Government for intervention in the matter,” he added.

The EC had last week ordered the immediate transfer of a Sub-District Magistrate (SDM) and four Assistant Electoral Registration Officers (AEROs) in the NCT of Delhi for dereliction of duty in the finalisation of electoral rolls for the upcoming polls.

The EC had told the Chief Secretary to ensure that ministers did not interfere in the functioning of the officials involved in electoral work. The commission, in a letter to Ms Shailja Chandra, had asked her to replace these officers with “officers of integrity and experience” and send a compliance report to it by Saturday.

Asserting the BJP’s victory was “sure” in the coming Assembly elections in Delhi, he claimed that Delhiites were facing acute power and water crisis and were “keen to oust the Congress government”. Mr Malhotra, who along with city BJP president Madan Lal Khurana, led a party delegation to meet the Chief Election

Commissioner last week, said, “The EC has instructed the election officials not to attend any meeting for election purpose by the Chief Minister or by any other minister. We also appealed for cancellation of the names of Bangladeshi nationals, who have been registered in the voters’ list on the basis of fake ration cards made by them.”


Why no Bhagat Singh in Parliament’s hallowed gallery?
Our Correspondent

Meerut, June 9
The Punjabis’ contribution to the freedom struggle notwithstanding, not a single portrait of any Punjabi ‘krantikari’ was installed in the gallery of Parliament. Ironically, Shahid-e-Azam Bhagat Singh was still dubbed a terrorist in the Official Gazette of the Government of India.

This is an injustice to the Punjabis. This was the refrain of the conference organised by the UP Punjabi organisation in the General Kulwant Singh Stadium at Mall Road on Sunday late evening.

Present on the occasion were former Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gujral as chief guest, AIATF president Maninder Jeet Singh Bitta, Samajwadi Party leader Raj Babbar and UP Punjabi Sangathan president Ramesh Dhingra. Former UP Governor Romesh Bhandari was the guest of honour.

Addressing a large gathering, Mr Gujral said that if a community is to be destroyed, destroy its culture and language first.

He said that Punjabi was not the name of any community, caste, creed, language or brand of politics. He extolled the members of the community to march to Parliament and install the portraits of krantikaris in its hallowed gallery.

Mr Gujral pointed out that democracy was alive and kicking in the country due to the Punjabis. All political parties should, therefore, take up the community’s case for the sake of the development of the country.


Summer cramps: villagers in Rohtak threaten stir
Vipin Sharma

Rohtak, June 9
Residents of scores of villages in the district are at the end of their tether owing to the acute scarcity of power and piped water. Many villagers are on the warpath to force the hand of the authorities to mitigate their suffering. In the days to come, there could be road blockades and other forms of agitation in this part of the state, if the situation does not improve.

It is learnt that most of the villages in the district have been getting power only for four to eight hours in a day. Moreover, the voltage is too low to operate electrical appliances. Residents say that they had repeatedly complained to the power authorities but had got nothing in return except assurances.

Balwan Singh of Makrauli Kalan village deplored his miserable existence. He pointed out that the children were the worst-hit.

The residents of Lakhan Majra village have threatened to block the Rohtak-Jind road if the supply of power and potable water is not restored to the village within a week. In a statement here today, they said that they had provided a plot of land to the authorities for constructing a powerhouse in the village without seeking any compensation. However, they had been getting power supply only for six hours in a day, they alleged.

Hundreds of children, mostly infants, and old persons in the village had been suffering from different ailments caused by the scorching heat. On the other hand, their incessant demand for sufficient power supply had fallen on deaf ears.

They claimed that the villages in nearby Jind district had been getting power for nearly 20 hours in a day, which indicated that the state had sufficient power. They alleged that some of the officials of the Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UHBVN) had been intentionally harassing the villagers to incite them against the government.

The villagers have also been suffering from acute shortage of piped water. They claimed that 50 per cent of the residents had been getting water for approximately half-an-hour in a day while the rest could not get even a drop of water.

They said several private contractors had taken advantage of the scarcity by providing private connections of potable water. The villagers alleged that the private suppliers had been charging hefty sums and providing underground water containing a high content of flouride. They were forced to take the connections from the suppliers due to government apathy, the residents said. Several attempts to contact the public health authorities in this regard proved futile.


Girls outshine boys in senior secondary examination
Our Correspondent

Bhiwani, June 9
As many as 41.45 per cent candidates have been declared passed in the Senior Secondary (Academic) Annual Examinations - 2003 conducted in March this year by the Board of School Education, Haryana.

Disclosing this today, Mr Rambir Singh, chairman of the board, said that girls had once again outshone boys in the examinations. The overall pass percentage of girls was 50.66 this year as compared to 50.10 last year whereas the pass percentage of boys had slightly decreased from 36.41 last year to 35.95 this year, he added.

The pass percentage in the Senior Secondary Vocational Annual Examinations - 2003 has increased to 37 compared to 34 last year.

Mr Rambir Singh said that 1,95,203 candidates appeared in the Senior Secondary (Academic) Examinations and 80,913 candidates had been declared passed. The number of candidates, who were placed under compartment, was 43,309.

As many as 7,875 candidates appeared in the Senior Secondary Vocational Examinations and 2,962 had been declared passed. Mr Rambir Singh said that the pass percentage of regular candidates was much higher than that of private candidates. While 42.38 per cent of the regular candidates passed, only 12.47 per cent of the private candidates could make it this time.

He said that 46.61 per cent of the candidates of private schools were successful in the examinations whereas 39.53 per cent of the candidates of government schools got through.

The Board Secretary, Mr Rakesh Gupta, said that for the first time in the history of the board, elaborate arrangements had been made using information technology to make results available online.

With the co-operation of the National Information Centre (NIC), New Delhi, Haryana and Bhiwani, the results would be available from 7 am tomorrow. Subjectwise marks could be known through the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) on phone number 011-24357270. Sixty lines had been provided for this, he said. The candidates would have to dial his/her six-digit roll number (eg 000519) after the beep to know the results.

The detailed results could be downloaded from the websites, http://haryana.nic.in and http.//results.nic.in, he added. For the convenience of candidates, a helpline had also been provided at the Board Headquarters. The candidates could dial phone number 01664-254000 to know their results from 7 am. Ten lines had been provided at this number.

Mr Rakesh Gupta said that for the first time, the board had convened a meeting of the Unfair Means Committees before the declaration of the results. He said that a total of 3,066 cases of unfair means were booked during the examinations and only 60 candidates had been exonerated. He said that the decision on all unfair means cases was being shown with the results.

Mr Gupta said that the private candidates could check their results at the offices of the District Education Officers concerned from 3 pm onwards whereas the results of regular candidates would be available at their respective schools from 3 pm tomorrow.


Dwarka to be zero violation toleration area
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 9
The Chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Mr Vijai Kapoor, has constituted a task force to make Dwarka a zero violation toleration area. The task force has been mandated to ensure no civic laws are violated.

The task force “will carry out inspections and take immediate appropriate action if any kind of violation is found. It will also meet as frequently as possible and in any case not less than once a fortnight.”

The Chief Engineer (Dwarka) will be the Chairman of the task force. The task force is mandated to ensure that : Basic services are maintained properly;

  • No unauthorised construction by way of addition / alteration to the buildings takes place;
  • No hawkers or vendors occupy pavements or obstruct the right of way of the public;
  • No market comes up either along the road or on vacant land;
  • Signboards and advertisements are displayed only at the designated sites;
  • Traffic violations are severely dealt with;
  • No slum is allowed to sprawl; and
  • Existing encroachments are removed expeditiously.

IFTU flays delay in VDA

The Indian Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) today condemned the Government of NCT of Delhi’s “callous and anti-working class attitude” in not giving the Variable Dearness Allowance (VDA) to nearly a million private industrial workers.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had announced on May Day the state government’s decision to give VDA of Rs 104 each to the workers of Delhi, but no notification has been signed to this effect even after a month. “This act of the government was intended to fool the workers who have been agitating for VDA and were considering going on strike on May 21. It also shows the anti-worker attitude of the government,” the Indian Federation of Trade Unions said.

The IFTU condemned the Department of Labour for not bringing out the notification on the ground that it needed a clarification from the Department of Finance, though it should have been linked to the rise in consumer price index. The VDA is announced every six months, on the basis of the rise in the CPI.

The Delhi Committee of the IFTU has urged the government to immediately implement the VDA. Otherwise, the workers would agitate for their right, it said.


AICC steps in to end Haryana bickering
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, June 9
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has expressed its grave concern over the growing factionalism among the leaders of the Congress party in Haryana. The central leadership of the party has decided to call an emergency meeting to “sort out” the differences among the “various factions” of the party in the state.

Disclosing this, Mr Natwar Singh, former External Affairs Minister and general secretary of the AICC, told mediapersons here last evening that the meeting of the party High Command would be held shortly at Delhi to discuss the issue and take positive steps to resolve it.

Some senior party leaders of the HPCC, including the HPCC president, Mr Bhajan Lal, the Opposition leader in Haryana

Assembly, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Mr Nawal Kishore Sharma, incharge of party affairs in Haryana, will attend this meeting. The party High Command, he indicated, would take action against those party leaders who were encouraging groupism in the party ranks for their selfish motives.

He also indicated that if the party failed to end the groupism, it would dissolve the party unit in the state. He also blamed the party leaders for the defeat of the party candidate in the recent Fatehabad Assembly by-election and said that this has resulted in the demoralisation of the party workers at the lower level.

The Congress leader claimed that the people of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have extended their full support to the Congress party, which had succeeded in coming to power in both the states.

He accepted that even though the people of Haryana had lost faith in the Chautala government, the INLD managed to escape a crushing defeat due to the groupism prevalent among the Congress party in the state.

Referring to the Jammu and Kashmir, he said that the situation in the state has improved considerably after the formation of PDP-Congress alliance government. The activities of the militants are being curbed effectively.

Regarding the political situation in Uttar Pradesh, he said that the main issue in the state is to overthrow the “anti-people” Mayawati government.

Replying to a question about the alliance between the Congress and other parties in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, he said that the Congress was trying to form a manch of “like-minded parties” for dislodging the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre. Referring to the Bhinderwale episode, he said that it was an internal matter of the Shiromani Akali Dal. He also declined to comment on the dispute between Haryana and Punjab over the construction of the SYL canal in Punjab. When some mediapersons asked the Congress leader on his view on the holding of the Kaithal rally for pressing the demand for the early completion of the SYL canal in the Punjab, he said that the rally has been organised against the “anti-people and anti-farmer” policies of the Chautala government.

Mr Nawal Kishore Sharma, general secretary of the AICC and incharge of party affairs in Haryana, said that the people of the country are behind the Congress and it would receive an absolute majority in the Assembly elections due in four states. He said the people were fed up with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre.


Swa-Shakti project gives a new life to 22,439 women
Shiv Sharma

Bhiwani, June 9
The World Bank-assisted Swa-Shakti project being implemented in Bhiwani, Sonepat and Jind districts has benefited as many as 22,439 women of 649 villages since its inception.

While stating this today, a spokesman of Haryana Women Development Corporation said that the rationale behind the project has been to initiate a long-term process to improve women’s economic and social status by establishing self-reliant Self-Help Groups (SHGs). Besides, the project aims to encourage the rural women to take up income generating activities and develop linkages between SHGs and lending institutions to ensure an access to credit. He said that 1498 SHGs had been formed so far and three non-government organisations including SAWERA, ASEED and ANARDE and 11 local non-Government organisations had been engaged for formation and nurturing of a total of 1550 self-help groups.

A budget of Rs 16.88 crore had been sanctioned under the Swa-Shakti project by the Government of India for empowering rural women in the State.

He said that in all the three districts, these SHGs had opened 1,162 bank accounts, saved a total of over Rs 1.18 crore and done inter-loaning to the tune of over Rs 88 lakh. The spokesman informed that various training programmes had been organised to create an enabling social environment and upgrade the skills of the rural women besides familiarising them with the latest technologies.

These included conceptual training on confidence building, legal literacy, leadership quality, Panchayati Raj, gender sensitisation, skill ability training on scientific dairy farming, milk products, bee-keeping, soap and detergent making, compost making and mushroom growing.

He added that exposure visits and inter-group exchange visits, which had been recognised as one of the most effective learning process, had also been organised. Future schemes being envisaged under the project included the creation of community assets, health and hygiene.


AIATF to fight dowry demon tooth and nail
Our Correspondent

Meerut, June 9
All India Anti-Terrorism Front will start a movement against the ‘dowry terror’ by holding countrywide seminars and awareness programmes.

This was disclosed by the Maninder Jeet Singh Bitta, president of the AIATF, who was here in Meerut on Sunday evening to felicitate the iron girls Nisha Sharma and Rajeshwari, who had returned the ‘barats’ from the wedding ‘pandals’ when their ‘in-laws’ started demanding dowry.

Both the girls, Miss Nisha Sharma from Noida and Miss Rajeshwari from Meerut, were given the Rani Jhansi Award by M S Bitta, president of AIATF in a ceremony organised by the Rotary Club Meerut.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bitta said that the time had come to stand and fight against the evil of dowry which had spoiled the life of thousands of women every year. He added that it was due to the courage shown by Nisha that many girls got inspired and returned their barats—first in Delhi, then in Chennai, Bhopal and Meerut..Mr Bitta said that Nisha Sharma had been appointed the secretary-general of the women wing of AIATF and she would lead a countrywide campaign against the dowry terror.

She would also organise seminar and workshops against dowry, he added.


Call for changes in Punjab Land Revenue Act
Our Correspondent

Rohtak, June 9
The Haryana Finance Minister, Mr Sampat Singh, has said the demand raised by the farmers’ organisations seeking amendments to the Punjab Land Revenue Act, enacted during the British rule, needs a careful consideration and widespread debate.

He was speaking during a ‘Meet the Press’ programme organised by the district unit of Haryana Union of Journalists (HUJ) here last evening. Mr Sampat Singh said the strict implementation of the provisions of the Act affected not only the farmers but the defaulting bureaucrats and the politicians. He categorically stated that a system was necessary to recover the dues from the defaulters. However, he admitted that the issue required a widespread debate on whether there is a need to review the century-old legislation under the changed circumstances.

Commenting on the condition of trade and industry, he claimed that the government had successfully increased exports from Rs 4,000 crore to Rs 10,000 crore per annum in the state by implementing industry-friendly policies.

Refuting the allegations levelled by the Opposition parties regarding exodus of industrialists from Haryana, he said that the charges were baseless.


Traffic, not industry, polluting city: PCB
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, June 9
Air and water pollution continues to be a major cause of concern for residents. Despite the authorities claiming to take several measures to control pollution, Faridabad remains one of the 10 most polluted cities of the country. Lack of proper awareness and mass involvement are being cited as a few of the reasons responsible for the existing situation.

Residents blame the authorities for not being able to provide water that is fit for drinking. As a result, most are forced to depend on mineral water. A resident of NH-5 of the NIT said that his family had been consuming mineral water for the past about eight years and the supply water was being used for cleaning and bathing purpose only. He said continuous consumption had reportedly led to certain ailments in many people due to extra contents of salts and heaviness.

While purifiers are being used in a majority of the houses, the residents believe that no ordinary purifier can eliminate the undesired properties or particles, and, it was the Reverse Osmosis (RO) method only that could prove useful. However, this system is quite costly for most of the people here. The residents, thus, prefer using mineral water supplied by private companies as they find it affordable.

Authorities do not agree to the view of certain people that the industries and factories had been contributing to air and water pollution.

The pollution control authorities, which got a pollution level meter and indicator installed at Ajronda Chowk on the main Mathura road, nearly a year ago, say that traffic had caused maximum pollution.

The Board officials also claim that all industrial units in Faridabad and Ballabgarh areas have installed Effluent Treatment Plants (ETP), and waste gas and water released by the units does not have any hazardous elements.

It is learnt that the Faridabad Industries Association (FIA) has set up a Common Treatment Plant (CTP) at the DLF industrial area to treat the water released by the odd 50 dyeing units located here. FIA says that the CTP would ensure pollution control even in case the individual treatment plants go out of order.

The pollution control authorities have also written to municipal corporation stating that wider sewerage lines be laid in the DLF industrial area, where choking of sewer lines is common and waste water is seen scattered on open plots and roads. It is learnt that the residents’ welfare association of sector 30 and 31 had also lodged a complaint in this connection but no action has been taken so far.

With a view to control air pollution, the pollution control authorities have written to the state government to introduce CNG fuelled vehicles- especially buses and autorickshaws.

As per estimates, there are around 14,000 autorickshaws, majority of which are outdated as per pollution control norms.

The authorities have decided to shift around 100 electroplating units out of the town, but it would still take sometime to get the process over.

The Board has also identified about 133 hospitals and clinics, and has issued them strict guidelines for proper disposal of Bio-medical waste, but lack of adequate staff and machinery, could further encourage the violators.


CM asks SP to rescue ‘abducted’ girl
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, June 9
The Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, has directed the Superintendent of Police (SP) here to rescue a minor girl of Ballabgarh town, who was allegedly abducted recently. He was listening to complaints in the monthly meeting of the District Grievances Redressal Committee here.

It is reported that the girl was abducted by a youth, identified as Sanjay. Failing to move the powers that be, the father of the victim, Jalaluddin, finally lodged a complaint in the grievances committee.

It may be recalled that incidents of abduction, rape, chain snatching and other crimes against women have been on the rise in the district. The police booked three youths of Sanjay colony for abducting, gang raping and murdering a 14-year-old girl of Sector 11 here on Friday night.

The body was recovered later. Complaints about the police not taking interest in many such cases are also common.

The Chief Minister also ordered that all encroachments, including those by influential persons, on the government, panchayat and common land be removed at all costs in the rural and urban areas.

He also asked the Power Department to improve the supply and ensure that there is no disruption.

The supply had to return to normal in the next 20 days as it is the onset of the sowing of kharif crops. As many as 13 complaints were taken up at the meeting.


Sewadar Committee calls for Akali unity
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 9
A meeting of the Shiromani Gurdwara Sewadar Committee today appealed to the Akali leaders to unite all Akali Dals not only in Punjab but also in the whole of India to safeguard the interest of Sikhs. The meeting was held at the Gandhi Nagar Gurdwara Singh Sabha under the chairmanship of Mr Tehal Singh Taneja.

All Akali Dals in and outside Punjab should unite, leaving behind all their differences and rising above their personal interests, the meeting said.

“It is the bad luck of the Sikh community that instead of giving credit to anyone who serves the community, we start looking for his weaknesses and look for an opportunity to expose him. We have to rise above all these,” Mr Raja Singh Sethi, national president of the committee said. He strongly denounced those who wanted to divide Punjab.

Mr Darshan Singh Kalkaji and Mr Inderjit Singh, vice-president and secretary respectively of the committee, Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr Amarjit Singh, Mr Baljit Singh, press secretary and representative of Delhi state, took part in the meeting.


Shopping complex land auction on June 26
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, June 9
The Sonepat Municipal Council has drawn up an ambitious scheme to set up a shopping complex on the four-acre land of the old civil hospital on the railway road in this city.

According to a report, this shopping complex will be complete with all basic amenities including post office, a dispensary and parks.

Moreover, land for the construction of houses will also be reserved in this complex. The lay-out plan has been approved by the state government.

The auction of this land will be made on June 26 and the construction of the shopping complex will be contracted to a builder.

Meanwhile, the Sonepat Municipal Council has received Rs 45 lakh for the construction and repairs of the roads during the first phase in this city. However, it has already spent Rs

63.17 lakh on the construction and repairs of 16.70 km long roads in this city. During the second phase, it had spent Rs 89.08 lakh on the construction of 22km long roads in this city.

The residents, however, alleged that most of the work executed by the Sonepat Municipal Council was sub-standard and an inquiry would expose the misdeeds of the officials and contractors entrusted with the job of repairs and construction of the roads.

The anti-encroachment drive and the attempt to rid the roads of pigs and cattle have utterly failed because of the apathy of the civic and district administration.


‘Amenities in Mandawali are the best due to our efforts’
Nalini Ranjan

It was in the early 1970s. She was just 12. An exuberant child, very active and chirpy. The then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had come to inaugurate a sugar mill at her native place in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh. Thousands of people had gathered there to greet Mrs Gandhi. Such was Mrs Gandhi’s popularity then that all of them wanted to touch her. Like other curious children, she was also there. Her father, Dr Raj Prasad Gautam, was a Congress leader of the area. She wanted to garland the Prime Minister but could not do so because of the huge crowd. She began to cry. Mrs Gandhi noticed her and, in an impulsive gesture, came forward to meet the pretty girl and accepted her garland.

This was the turning point in her life. So impressed was she by this gesture that she decided to join the Congress Party right there. Mrs Gandhi became the role model for her. That girl is none other than Mrs Savitri Sharma, the much-talked about municipal councillor of the Mandawali area of East Delhi.

Married and with children, Mrs Sharma devotes most of her time to alleviate the misery of the people residing in her ward. She is now credited with having persuaded the powers that be to improve the roads, sanitation facilities and parks in her ward. She is also the vice-president of the Shahdara South Zone of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). She is also a member of various committees of the MCD like the garden, community, festival and code of conduct committees. She is the vice-president of the Delhi Transport Corporation, East District Zone. Apart from these portfolios, she also holds key posts in the national, pradesh, youth and minority cells of the Congress. In a conversation with the NCR Tribune, she recounted her long association with the party.

Since your first encounter with Mrs Indira Gandhi, you have been very active in the Congress and have done a lot of work to nurture the party at the grass-roots level. Are you satisfied with the outcome and the rewards you have received in lieu of these services so far?

I do not believe in waiting for rewards. I am satisfied with what I have received so far. I have done a lot of work for the people of my area. I feel no hesitation to say that what I am today is because of my community-based work rather than the mercy of the party. There is no denying the fact that I have been very close to some of the top leaders of the party but I have never tried to extract extra mileage for myself from these relationships.

You are also associated with the social service organisations of the Congress like the Vir Bhoomi and the Sewa Dal. What activities have you carried out under the aegis of these organisations?

Right now, I am the vice-president of the Vir Bhoomi. It was started after the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Initially, its activities were confined to the party. Some community services were carried out but it was only for political mileage and publicity. I was the first key member who dared to break the stereotyped image of the organisation. I brought about drastic changes in the work culture of the organisation.

Now, dozens of vocational training centres are being run across Delhi by this organisation, where free training is being imparted to the really needy people. One such training centre is being run in neighbouring Rohtak in Haryana. Five such centres are being successfully run at different locations in Mandawali, where hundreds of poor girls, women, widows and unemployed persons are learning different types of skills like sewing, embroidery, tailoring, cutting, painting, beauty culture, toy making, idol making etc.

Apart from this, I am also associated with the Meerut-based social service organisation, ‘I-Card’. This was started in the memory of freedom fighter Mangal Pandey. Recently, we organised a Sadbhawana Yatra from Kranti Maidan of Mumbai to Delhi, travelling through Nasik, Jalgaon, Bhopal, Allahabad, Aligarh and Faridabad. This social organisation has been instrumental in undertaking many community-based welfare works in different parts of the NCR.

As the councillor from the Mandawali area, what types of developmental works have you carried out so far?

Since 1972, my family has been residing in the Mandawali area. A lot of things have improved since then. Those were the days when it used to be dubbed as the area of slum clusters in East district. It was deprived of all civic amenities like supply of drinking water and electricity, sanitation and healthcare facilities, sewers etc. Prior to my maiden stint as the councillor, I had to strive a lot to get these facilities in the area.

I am a down to earth person and believe in a low-key approach in politics. I have spend many decades in this area and witnessed many ups and downs, so I am familiar with the problems of the people here. After cross-checking the genuineness of the problem raised by the people, we lend all help to solve it.

Prior to my stint as the councillor of this area, most of the funds for the social welfare schemes, be it old-age pension or widow help scheme, were either not utilised or were going into wrong hands. When I became the councillor, I checked these malpractices. With our efforts, now the basic amenities are more or less on a par with the adjoining areas of East district.

However, restoring the supply of drinking water and electricity falls under the jurisdiction of the MLA of that area.

Despite this, we strove a lot to bring about a sea change on this front. In my tenure as the councillor, we have constructed four new primary schools. One constructed at Chandra Vihar is now fully operational. Other existing schools have been provided basic infrastructure so that studies are not hampered.

The construction of the long-awaited Mandawali railway under-bridge is a big achievement for me. It is solely due to our efforts, a 40-feet wide road was built behind the bridge for the benefit of the residents of the area. Due to our efforts, land has now been allotted for the construction of a post office and a dispensary for the area. Till now, these were being run from rented flats.

We are also negotiating with some reputed banks to open their branches in the area. We are also constructing exclusive parks for children and women. Of the 33 small and big parks in the area, 30 have already been renovated and beautified.

Your comments on agencies like the Trans-Yamuna Development Board and East District Development Committee.

We have been taking their help from time to time. Some sort of red-tapism is prevalent in the Trans-Yamuna Development Board. Some of my developmental proposals are lying there unnoticed for years. Just recently, all district development committees were given financial powers. So we are hopeful that the East Delhi District Development Committee will provide some financial help in carrying out developmental works in our area.

How do you manage your public work and family?

My husband is an officer in the Malaria Department of the MCD. He is very cooperative.

He lends all possible support in my works. My children are studying in school right now and they are very also supportive.


Man, mother booked for abetting suicide
Our Correspondents

Sonepat, June 9
The police have registered a criminal case against Vijaypal and his mother on the charge of forcing a young housewife Kapoori Devi to commit suicide in her house at Sargathal village about 25 km from here yesterday. According to a report, this action followed the complaint lodged by Mr Wazir Singh, brother of the victim saying that she was married to one Mr Umed Singh in 1983 who died after sometime. Thereafter, she was married to Vijaypal, brother of Mr Umed Singh. He alleged that her husband and the mother-in-law used to harass and beat her for more dowry. The complainant alleged that his sister could not bear the sufferings and made an attempt to end her life by sprinkling kerosene and setting the clothes on fire. She sustained serious burn injuries and was rushed to the Community Health Centre at Gohana from where she was referred to a Delhi hospital, but she died on the way.

Ensure water supply: CM

Gurgaon: The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, directed the public health and the electricity departments to ensure smooth supply of potable water in the district. Presiding over a meeting of the District Public Grievances and Redressal Committee, Mr Chautala warned the officers of the two departments against shirking their duty.

He advised them to solve the local issues at their level and let only the larger issues be petitioned in the Public Grievances and Redressal Committee. In view of the heat spell, he put the Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, on notice with regard to any possible natural calamity.

Hobby schoolkids awarded

Faridabad: Nine students of the ‘Creative Steps’, a hobby school here in Sector-9 have been awarded by the Nehru Bal Samiti, Delhi.

The Samiti had recently organised a painting competition on the occasion of 40th year of the space mission of Russian astronaut Valentina Tereskova. The Russian Centre of Science and Culture, New Delhi was co-host of the programme.

Child consumes kerosene, dies
Sonepat: Rahol, a two-year-old boy is reported to have consumed kerosene instead of milk in his house at Rohat village about 5 km from here last evening.

According to a report, he was rushed to the local civil hospital where he was treated by the doctors.

But his condition worsened and he was referred to a Delhi hospital but the parents of the child showed their inability to take him to Delhi for want of money. After sometime, the child died in the hospital.

Cyclist killed

An unidentified cyclist was hit and killed by a speedy car on G T Road near Murthal Chowk, about 8 km from here last night. According to a report, the car was on its way from Chandigarh to Delhi.

The police have registered the case against the car driver and further investigations were in progress.

The body of the victim remains unidentified.


BHEL to set up Rs 772 crore power plant

New Delhi, June 9
Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL) today said that it has secured its highest value single order, worth Rs 772 crore, for setting up a captive power plant on turnkey basis at Panipat.

The order has been placed by Indian Oil Corporation for a 120 MW integrated captive co-generation power plant to be set up as part of its refinery expansion and petrochemical project.

The order assumes special significance as IOC has once again opted to source equipment from the engineering major BHEL in view of its techno-economical superiority, a release said. TNS


Held for credit card racket
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 9
Special Cell of the Delhi Police today arrested two suspects and busted an international racket of making credit cards and then misusing them either independently or with the connivance of owners and employees of some business establishments.

The suspects were identified as Rajiv Arora, Dinesh Gupta, Adil Khan and Suhail Khan. The kingpin of the racket was identified as Charanjit Singh alias Shampy alias Sammy. He is absconding. He was earlier arrested involved in the same racket in Mumbai. The suspects defrauded various banks to the tune of more than crore rupees by misusing counterfeit credit cards.

The suspects were arrested after a complaint had been registered by the HDFC bank of misusing credit cards. The suspects were arrested after a thorough investigation of the case.

During interrogation, the suspects disclosed that the kingpin had overseas module in the USA and Canada. His module in these countries used to skim the data of international credit cards belonging to the nationals of these countries and sent them to India. Once the data landed in India, the local modules of Charanjit Singh swung into action. The local modules were identified as Rajiv Arora, a computer engineer, Dinesh Gupta and Adil.

The police said that Rajiv Arora used to read the encrypted data, sort it out, then rewrite it on the blank plastic cards having a magnetic strip embossed on it. Dinesh Gupta and Adil used to locate unscrupulous shopkeepers and owners of merchant establishments which were ready to accept blank credit cards for a consideration. The shopkeepers prepared fake bills and charged it to such credit cards. The shopkeepers kept approximately 20-50 per cent of the charged amount and the remaining money was given to the racketeers, the police said.

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