N C R   S T O R I E S


Water tariff: LS polls hold up inevitable hike
Tribune News Service


1. Leakage is to the tune of 40 per cent.

2. Only 44 per cent of the 14 lakh connections are accounted for.

3. 43 per cent of the meters are not working.

4. Current demand is 830 million gallons per day.

5. Current supply is 730 million gallons per day.

6. Projected demand in 2021 is 1,270 million gallons per day.

New Delhi, January 2
After introducing reforms in the power and transport sectors, the Government of NCT of Delhi is planning to restructure the Delhi Jal Board. The first visible and tangible outcome of the restructuring of the water utility could be in the form of rationalisation of water tariff.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who is also chairperson of Delhi Jal Board, has sought a detailed report from the chief executive officer. The contents of the report will then be discussed by the Council of Ministers. A decision is expected thereafter only.

For the record, NCT of Delhi has one of the lowest water tariffs among the metropolises in the country. The tariff is less than 55 paise per one thousand litres. Significantly, the tariff has not been revised in the Capital for several decades now.

Sources say a decision, if any, will be a political one. The option of rationalising the water tariff will be exercised only as a last resort. The sources say there are other softer options that would spare the consumer and still mop up additional resources.

Notwithstanding its intent, the Sheila Dikshit Ministry might choose to defer an upward revision of water tariff given that the Lok Sabha election is only months away. However, taking certain decisions to shore up the water utility’s bottomline is not ruled out completely.

The Delhi Jal Board is keen on plugging the revenue gap, more so after having invested a substantial sum from its meagre resources in setting up the Rs 188 crore Sonia Vihar project that will fetch water from the Ganga in Uttaranchal for domestic supply in Delhi.

A French company, Degremont, is implementing the Sonia Vihar project. After commissioning, 140 more million gallons of water will be available per day. The project will be particularly beneficial for south Delhi and certain areas in east Delhi.

The response from consumers at large and the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is in opposition in the Delhi Legislative Assembly, will also determine how the government chooses to introduce the second generation of reforms and to what extent.

If there is any support pouring in, it is from the industry. The private sector is watching the events as they unfold even as it extends a tacit support to the reforms. The industry is pitching for the entry of private players to augment the supply of quality water.

One industry chamber has said that the Government of NCT of Delhi should also explore the participation of private sector in the maintenance of water distribution system. The chamber is particularly interested in contracts to private players.



Opposition frets: Betterment tax or
anti-people levy?
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
The leader of the Opposition in the Standing Committee of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Mr Vijender Kumar Gupta, today criticised the proposal of levying new taxes and increasing some of the existing ones. The proposed taxes include a betterment tax, professional tax, duty on transfer of property and parking fees.

In his budget speech, Mr Gupta opposed the proposals and demanded their withdrawal as these were ‘anti-people’. The proposed taxation has been the result of widespread corruption and inefficiency in the municipal administration. Had the present financial resources available within the boundaries of the current budget provisions been exploited, there would certainly be no need to impose heavy taxes on the citizens, Mr Gupta said.

The betterment tax is a new proposal to be levied 5 per cent on the electricity consumption charges and has been estimated to fetch Rs 70 crore during the financial fiscal year of 2004-2005, he added.

Mr Gupta alleged that this tax is being imposed on citizens for betterment, whereas the per capita expenditure which was Rs 1,191 crore in 2001-2002 has now been decreased to Rs 1,160 in 2002-2003. Similarly, the expenditure on development work is decreasing year after year. Hence, the imposition of betterment tax is unjustified.

In connection with the transfer duty, Mr Gupta said that the corporation is cheating Delhiites by increasing it two per cent.

Public can be saved from these taxes if Mr V.K. Malhora report on relaxation in building bylaws is implemented, corruption is checked in the department of building completion certification, implementation of the Second Financial Commission recommendations, etc. Hundreds of crores of rupees will be fetched by these resources. Besides, if the corporation goes through the balancesheet, it will see that thousands crores of rupees are to be taken from the property owners and electricity tax arrears from DVB. Besides, more income can be generated by revising the advertisement policy, Mr Gupta said.

Delivering his budget speech, Mr Gupta warned that from April 1, 2004, Delhi will be enveloped in darkness as no provision whatsoever has been made in the budget proposals by the commissioner for maintenance of streetlight.

He confirmed that the MCD had taken a decision that from April 1, 2004, it would maintain the streetlighting.

Reacting to the budget proposals of the Slum and JJ Department, he said that the inefficiency of the administration is evident from the fact that the Mayor, who is also chairman of the Slum Committee, did not inspect any JJ cluster during the last six months to take stock of the civic services.

He also said that the commercial project and Habitat Centre at Shivaji Place in Raja Garden which envisaged an income of Rs 750 crore is a total flop. Under this project, an income of Rs 42 crore was proposed in 2003-2004 whereas up to September 2003, only a sum of Rs 56. 63 lakh has been earned.



More money for evaluators, more
choice for examinees
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
The Central Board of Secondary Examinations (CBSE) has good news for examinees as well as evaluators: the allowance of evaluators is being hiked and the number of questions in some Class X papers is being reduced.

For Class X board exams in March this year, the questions will be based on the revised curriculum. In the Social Science Paper, the number of questions has been reduced from 29 to 27. In the mathematics question paper, additional internal choice has been given in a question of six marks. The question paper consists of 25 questions divided into three sections — A, B and C – and there is no overall choice, but internal choice has been provided in two questions of three marks each, two questions of four marks each and two questions of six marks each.

In the paper for Science and Technology, numerical questions have been given a weightage of seven marks and internal options have been given in selected questions. Internal choice has been given in three questions of six marks each and in one question of four marks. The question paper comprises of two sections, A and B, and students have to attempt both the sections.

The evaluators too might have good news in the New Year. There is a possibility of hike in the rates of evaluation from Rs. 6.50 to Rs. 11 for class XII papers and from Rs. 5 to Rs 8 for class X.

Most teachers had a grouse against the low remuneration. With the hike in rates, more teachers are likely to offer their services for evaluation, it is pointed out.



Fire in Ashok Vihar commercial complex

New Delhi: Property worth lakhs was destroyed this morning when a fire broke out in a commercial building located in the Central Market in Ashok Vihar area of North-West Delhi.

However, there were no reports of any casualty or any one being injured. The incident took place at around 5.30 am in the Deep Cinema complex.

The police said that out of nine shops it the basement, one was gutted and the rest were partially damaged.

Immediately, 20 fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire.

The fire was finally brought under control at around 9. 40 am. The fire service sources described the fire as medium grade. An inquiry has been ordered to probe and ascertain the actual cause of the fire. TNS



Public angst/ Faridabad cries for proper civic care
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, January 2
Faridabad is one of the largest industrial and urban populated towns of Haryana. However, when it comes to the civic amenities, the picture is not that rosy.

The residential sectors, developed by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) and handed over to the Municipal Corporation Faridabad (MCF) for maintenance, cry for proper upkeep.

The civic conditions in many parts have deteriorated over the years, despite various kinds of taxes paid by the residents.

The residents welfare associations of many sectors complain to the authorities vis-à-vis the maintenance of sewerage lines, water and power supply, poor roads and parks, but of no avail.

The MCF had handed over the work of garbage removal to a voluntary organisation on the basis of monthly payment in 2001, but the result was not quite up to the mark.

A resident of Sector-9 here said that the MCF safai workers are hardly visible. If at all one finds them, they simply do not listen. The residents pay to private agencies to get the garbage removed.

He added that the faulty streetlights were not repaired till date.

Rajkumar of Sector-15A, considered a posh area as it houses the ‘officers colony’ and Gymkhana Club, is also dissatisfied with the civic amenities.

He claimed that though Sector 15A had been quite known, there was no one to care for the basic amenities. All the roads in the sector are in disrepair. Sewer and drain water flow on to the roads at any time of the year.

He said the sewerage system of the sector had been choked for over a year. During monsoon, the sector roads are just like waterways. Many parts remain submerged. The sector which has several dozen industrial and commercial plots lining Mathura Road, has also a prominent village in it. Complaints of poor development of roads, streetlights and public conveniences are common here.

While the internal roads in all the sectors have been waiting for repair, the civic body is stated to be facing shortage of funds.

It is learnt that the MCF has recently asked Huda to repair six main roads in its jurisdiction.



Air traffic grinds to a halt

New Delhi: Delhiites woke up to an intensely cold and foggy morning as the mercury plummeted to season’s lowest at 4.2 degree Celsius today. The city experienced the coldest night of the season and dense fog continued to affect air, rail and road services.

The Capital recorded 4.2 degrees Celsius temperature last night, about four degrees less than the previous night and the lowest of the season so far, the Met department said.

Air traffic came to a standstill for over six hours at the IGI airport since early this morning due to fog. Though air traffic was normal till 0400 hours, Runway Visibility Range (RVR) suddenly dipped to less than 150 metres afterwards, with increase in fog density, resulting in disruption of air traffic, airport sources said.

Take off and landing was suspended between 0400 hours to 1000 hours, they said. The Northern Railway reported cancellation of some trains and late running of several others. The cancelled trains include Kalindi Express, Lal Quila Express, Jammu Tawi-Delhi Express, Delhi-Jaipur Express and Satyagrah Express. TNS



Bid to plant Rs 10,000 in CM’s office drawer

New Delhi: The security in and around the Mathura Road residence of the Delhi Chief Minister, Ms Shiela Dikshit, has been tightened: A person tried to plant Rs 10,000 in a drawer in her residential office block today.

The miscreant, who was caught red-handed by an office peon, was found to be in possession of photocopies of the Rs 10,000 notes which he was trying to plant in her drawer.

The miscreant, who was identified as Rakesh, a resident of Bawana in North-West Delhi, was handed over to the police. He was later interrogated to ascertain the actual motive behind the mischief.

Mr S M Ali, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chief Minister, said: ‘’The incident obviously shows mischief and conspiracy aimed at maligning the clean image of Ms Dikshit.” TNS



Rs 8.22 cr spent on poverty alleviation schemes
Our Correspondent

Jhajjar, January 2
The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) has been implementing various schemes of poverty alleviation and rural development in the district. The DRDA has so far spent about Rs 8.22 crore on various programmes launched by it.

The Deputy Commissioner-cum-Chairman of the DRDA, Mr Mohinder Kumar, said that these are not only helping in raising the living standard of the poor in the rural areas by giving them employment, but also the infrastructure is being developed in the countryside.

Mr Kumar said that many rural development schemes are being run by the agency including Sampoorna Gramin Rojgar Yojna (SGRY), Swarn Jayanti Gram Savrojgar Yojna (SGSY), Indira Awas Yojna (IAY), MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), Watershed Management Scheme and Varmiculture.

Giving details of the financial and physical progress of these schemes, the chairman said that in the SGRY scheme, funds of Rs 214.60 lakh and 2326 metric tonnes grain was utilised under kam ke badle anaj scheme to the poor people of the villages.

He informed that bricklining of ‘firnis’, landfilling in schools and chaupals complex, construction of nullah for filling ponds by the canals etc works were done by the workers. In the second stream of this scheme, 22.5 per cent of the total funds were spent on the Dalit population. About 97 such families were provided with housing facility and 1,732 swing machines and 100 cycles were allotted to them for self-employment.

While in the SGSY scheme, Mr Mohinder Kumar said loans and grants are being provided to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) population. So far, 222 self-help groups have been constituted in the district under the programme on which 27.61 lakh has been spent of the total funds of Rs 56.52 lakh for the current financial year.

Under the IAY scheme, the agency helped 99 families in construction of their houses by providing gross financial aid of Rs 19.80 lakh to them. The proposed target is to benefit 190 families with the aid of Rs 38 lakh in the scheme. In the PMGAY, 10 new houses were constructed by providing Rs 20 thousand to each family.

The chairman further maintained that in the MPLAD scheme, members of Parliaments from Rohtak and Sonepat constituencies have availed Rs 97.56 lakh for development schemes, of which 20 works have been completed while work is in progress on 39 other projects. In the district, 88 watershed management projects have been sanctioned on which 8 are complete. About Rs 343.71 lakh have been spent on the other 80 projects in the district, he added.

The government has sanctioned Rs 963. 50 lakh for a special project of SGSY, called vermiculture project.

The project was launched in Rohad village earlier this year by the Chief Minister. He said that 22.87 lakh have been spent on the project so far. The coordinated rural energy scheme has also been launched to benefit the farmers. Solar lanterns, solar homelights, solar water pump sets are being provided to the farmers on subsided, he added.



‘Love should permeate every day of the year’
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
People exchange greetings and express their love and good wishes on every New Year day and the Year - 2004 too dawns in the same pleasant environment. We should, however, not confine this gesture of goodwill to our own relatives and friends but to all human beings.

Moreover, this should not be a one-day affair, these feelings must become a permanent feature so that the distance between individuals, groups and nations is reduced, rather eliminated.

This was observed here late last evening by His Holiness Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj, Head of the Sant Nirankari Mission, while addressing a huge gathering at a special Samagam to celebrate the New Year. Incidentally, it happened to be the birthday of his holy mother Nirankari Rajmata Kulwant Kaur Ji. A large number of devotees from Delhi and adjoining areas participated in the Samagam in spite of the chilling weather.

Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj said that the New Year Day offers an occasion to pledge not to repeat the shortcomings of the past, and resolve to endeavour for positive and constructive developments for the welfare of all.

He said that while moving to a new house, we would always like to leave the junk behind in the old house. Similarly, we should not carry from the previous year to the new one all that is not required, such as the feelings of jealousy, hatred and violence.



Foggy weather damaging crops, too
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 2
The continuous foggy weather conditions have reportedly damaged the gram, mustard and vegetable crops in the district.

According to a report, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Balwar Singh, has suggested to the farmers to remain alert and take steps for the saving their crops. He also asked them to sprinkle pesticide on the sarson and other crops after the gap of 10 days so that these could be saved from the diseases like chepa, mahu, keet and safaid rutma.

Meanwhile, dense fog has disrupted the rail and road traffic in the region today. Not only the long-distance but suburban trains are running behind schedule for hours together on the Delhi-Ambala-Kalka (DUK) section of the Northern Railway.

The Amritsir-bound Dadar-Amritsar Express and Baroni-Amritsar Express ran behind schedule for three and a five hours respectively. Similarly, the Delhi-bound Jammu Mail and Kalka Mail passed through Sonepat behind schedule for about three and 1.30 hours respectively. All other long distance and suburban trains ran behind schedule, stranding thousands of passengers mostly commuters at Sonepat and other railway stations for hours. They were also seen shivering in the biting cold at the platforms while waiting for the trains.

The office-goers, schoolteachers, milk vendors and businessmen who are employed at Delhi and other places, had to face inconvenience as they failed to get any information from the enquiry offices at Sonepat and Ganaur about the late running of the trains. Most of them reached the railway stations on time where they got the information about the late running of the trains. They alleged that the employees posted at the inquiry offices always remain absent from duty and the telephone bells went unheeded.

Traffic on the National Highway No 1 and other state highways remained disrupted for hours together. 



Sonepat continues to shiver in cold
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, January 2
There has been no let-up in the cold wave sweeping the region for the past two weeks on account of heavy snowfall in the hilly areas of Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir as well as the foggy weather conditions.

According to a report, the people woke up and witnessed a thick blanket of fog which engulfed the city and its surrounding areas. The poor visibility badly hit the rail and road traffic for several hours. The vehicular traffic on the National Highway No. 1 and other state highways was at a snail’s pace and the drivers of the auto vehicles had to use the headlights.

The residents shivered in the biting cold and most of them were forced to keep themselves indoors. The attendance in most of the government offices was reported to be thin thanks to the failure of the district authorities to check late-comers. Many heads of the departments did not turn up on time for duty. Most of the offices wore a deserted look.

Almost all the main bazaars and the shopping centres looked deserted and the shopkeepers waited for hours for customers.

Meanwhile, the District Magistrate of Sonepat, Mr Balwan Singh, has promulgated the prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr. P.C. banning the tours and cultural programmes of the students of the educational institutions in the district.

The order which comes into force with immediate effect would continue till January 3. This step has been taken in view of the current cold wave conditions and foggy weather conditions.

The District Magistrate has already closed down the educational institutions till January 10 next on account of the similar condition.



Girl stabs ‘romeo’ in Vasant Kunj park
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
The South-West district police today claimed to have solved a stabbing case of one Arunesh Shukla, a property dealer based in Pandav Nagar.

The property dealer had complained to the police that he was also robbed of his car and Rs 4,000 in a park in Vasant Vihar area on December 29.

Investigation revealed that Arunesh had been making ‘unwanted advances’ at a girl who lived in Vasant Vihar. He was troubling her by making frequent calls to her at odd hours.

When Arunesh made a number of such calls on December 29, the girl wanted to ‘teach him a lesson’. The girl called him to Vasant Vihar on December 29 and accompanied him for snacks to the Nirula’s in Vasant Kunj.

Later, they went to a park at around 7 pm. In the park she reasoned with him to leave her alone as she was ‘not interested in him’.

However, Arunesh tried to misbehave with her in the park. Using an appropriate opportunity, the girl whipped out a knife from her bag and attacked him on his back. She then fled from the spot. A bleeding Arunesh was admitted to the Safdarjung Hospital where he is undergoing treatment.



Holistic centre for ‘personal fulfilment’ inaugurated
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
The Union Minister for Human Resources and Development, Dr M. M Joshi, today inaugurated a holistic center at Satbari in the Capital. The centre built in the suburbs of the city is being touted to provide the guests a “mini world of tranquility, relaxation, exotic, but specifically formulated professional products and treatments”.

It is driven by the M Foundation Global, a NGO developed to initiate action across the globe in promoting universal peace and nurturing special values. Speaking at the inauguration of the center, Dr Joshi said, “we welcome the initiative by MCorp Global to facilitate spiritualism, global peace and harmony in the country. This is a unique initiative to bring people together at a common platform from different walks of life”.

The holistic centre has been established on the age-old Indian concept of personal fulfillment, inner peace, contentment and success in life. This state-of-the-art facility spread over 15,000 sq. feet will be equipped with the latest in medical technology, Mediaspa, holistic health care centre, multi-media communication facility and global cuisine outlet.

The holistic centre has been designed keeping in mind concepts of healthy living, keeping fit, relaxation and de-stress and looking good through aesthetic treatments.



Individuals can be transformed through yoga,
says Swami
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
Delivering the “O. P. Ghai Memorial Lecture”, at the India International Centre, Swami Kriyananda (J Donald Walters) expressed the view that “India has the solution to the problems that the world faces today”.

In the lecture organised by the Institute of Book Publishing, New Delhi, Swami Kriyananda, said, “the solution is of raising the conscious of the individual to a higher level through the practice of yoga. It is through yoga that the individuals can be completely transformed. And once this change comes, the whole world changes for the individual. The message to humanity from times immemorial has been very clear-Know Thyself.”

Swami Kriyananda, who was initiated by Paramhansa Yogananda as a disciple in 1948 and trained by him as a teacher, lecturer and writer, became known as the “American Swami” attracting thousands of people to his lectures on the teaching of Yogananda from 1958 to 1962.

Addressing a packed auditorium in New Delhi, he reemphasised-“The basic purpose, the higher purpose of life was to “Know Thyself”.

He said: “Life today has changed and with the change it has become extremely complicated. To face this complex situation no one has got what India has got, the power of yoga.”

“The West today is confused and directionless. Young people today are depressed and were committing suicides as they were not clear about the purpose of life. Modern philosophy is unable to provide them answers. Yoga has the answer to all this,” the Swami said.

Swami Kriyananda, who is the founder of Ananda Sangha, a worldwide organisation for the dissemination of Yogananda’s teachings, has set up seven communities in the United States and Europe based on Yogananda’s ideal for ‘world brotherhood colonies’.

About 1,000 people live in these communities. Sharing his experience of the quality of life in these communities, the elder Swami said, “People come to us as tensed and stressed and after staying with us for around a week they feel they have been transformed and reborn. They start looking towards the world with their eyes full of compassion and kindness. They realise that they have friends everywhere. The whole world is your own family. And all this is given to them by the power of yoga”.

Concluding his talk, Swami Kriyananda said, “Today we want disharmony because we have got used to it. The need of the hour is that we find the bliss that is within us.”

Earlier, Mr S. K. Ghai, vice-chairman, Institute of Book Publishing, spoke about his father, Mr O. P. Ghai, in whose memory the lecture had been organised. Mr D. N. Malhotra, a well-known publisher and a close friend of Mr O. P. Ghai, described him as a man with humble beginning, who rose in life due to sheer hard work, perseverance and iron determination.



Criminals making a killing

Jhajjar, January 2
The image of the district police seems to have taken a beating while the criminals are having a field day.

In most of the cases recently, the desperadoes committed the crime and escaped. The SP who assumed office about two months ago, made claims of checking the crime rate. He opened a police chowki at the bus stand also, but the cases continued. The most discouraging incident was the escaping of three dreaded gangsters who duped the escort party and escaped on December 25. While the policemen who were in the escort party of the undertrials have been arrested, none of the fleeing criminals could be captured even after a week.

The undertrials who were taken to Tis Hazari courts were arrested in connection with cases of murder, dacoity, etc. One of them Rajesh Naharia was arrested in Bahadurgarh last year while two others, Mahavir and Dharamvir, are still at large. In another heinous double murder case in Jasaur Kheri last week, the police are unable to achieve any breakthrough. Two persons, including an aged woman, were shot dead in their house on December 17.

The police have also booked about a dozen persons but not one of the accused identified by the victim’s relative has been arrested.

In another case of murder of a pregnant woman who found crushed to death on the road in Dighal village, the police face the wrath of the villagers who put up a blockade on the road in protest against the ghastly incident.

The police so far arrested three persons of the husband’s family on the complaint of woman’s parents.

While, some unidentified persons escaped with the pension funds worth about Rs 1. 87 lakh from Bahadurgarh tehsil office yesterday. The money was lying in a bag and was in the custody of a patwari. When the patwari was putting the bag in a place, some persons reportedly saw it and escaped with the bag. The fingerprint experts and the dog squad were called from Rohtak immediately but no clue has been found. The police have registered a case of theft in this connection and started investigation.

The SP, Mr H.S. Doon, said that the theft was the result of carelessness of the patwari. The double murder case in Jasaur Kheri was the outcome of a gang war. He defended the police and said that they are quite vigilant.



ncr briefs
HVP launches ‘Mission 2004’ in Ahirwal
Our Correspondents

Rewari, January 2
The Haryana Vikas Party led by the former Chief Minister, Mr Bansi Lal, launched its ‘Mission 2004’ with renewed zeal in Ahirwal. It envisages a replication of the phenomenal electoral success in Ahirwal, which the party had earlier achieved in 1996.

It may be noted that in the Assembly elections of 1996, the HVP had bagged five of the six seats which it had contested in Ahirwal, while its alliance partner, the BJP, had secured victory in only one out of the four constituencies where BJP nominees were in the fray.

With the growing disenchantment of the masses with the present Chautala regime on the one hand and the dwindling fortunes of the Congress party after its rout in the three states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in the recent Assembly elections as well as factionalism denting the party’s credibility in Haryana on the other hand, the pendulum of popular acceptability now seems to be swinging towards the HVP.

There were reports that following such ascendancy in its popular graph, the HVP nomination has abruptly gained priority among the aspiring candidates. There were indications as well that a host of distinguished political and social activists from various parts of Ahirwal had already started seeking a direct communication with the HVP supremo, Mr. Bansi Lal just to grab his approbatory nod for their candidature.

With such an encouraging situation developing in Ahirwal, which occupies a pivotal place in the electoral designs of the HVP, the preliminary exercise of projecting prospective candidates had now assumed almost a concrete shape.

Much to the surmise of the political observers, the exercise was initiated from Rewari, which is in popular parlance, the political capital of Ahirwal, where Mr Madhu Sudan Yadav, along with hundreds of his supporters, joined the HVP at its New Year rally here yesterday.

Welcoming Mr Madhu Sudan Yadav, a one-time confidant of former Union Minister, Col. Ram Singh, as well as a former activist of the BJP, into the HVP’s fold, its state general secretary Mr Anil Rao called upon the party activists to gear up for polls, which could take place any time during 2004.

He went on to say that the Lok Sabha elections were round the corner while the probability of holding simultaneous Assembly polls in Haryana too was looming large over the electoral horizon.

Making a specific mention of the present political scenario, which tended to boost the fortunes of the HVP, Mr. Rao asserted that the people, who wanted a change, were eagerly looking towards Mr. Bansi Lal, who, he asserted, was destined to head the next government in Haryana.

Shopkeepers down shutters

Sonepat: Most of the shopkeepers kept their shutters down on the New Year’s Day when they learnt about the collection of samples of foodstuffs by a team of Health Department officials in the Halwai Hutta and Ganj Bazar areas of this city.

According to a report, the officials of the team were led by the Medical Officer, Dr Ashwani Kumar, and the Food Inspector, Mr Surinder Punia. The officials, however, collected samples of foodstuffs from at least five shops in the area. The samples included milk, pulses, shakkar, rice, gram, achar and various types of gutka.

The news about the raiding party spread like a wild fire and most of the shopkeepers, particularly the halwais managed to escape after closing their shops.

Subsequently, when the officials of the raiding party went to other areas, they found most of the shops closed. Thereupon, they left the market.



delhi digest
Britannia Chowk flyover to be ready by May
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
The flyover at Britannia Chowk will be thrown open to traffic in May. The PWD Minister, Mr AK Walia, who visited the site on Friday, attributed the delay in construction work to the non-availability of adequate land for the slip road.

The Minister said that the officials of the Department of Public Works (PWD) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) have inspected the site and would meet again shortly to settle all outstanding issues.

The Minister also visited a railway crossing in Lawrence Road Industrial Area near Britannia Chowk to understand the reasons for the perennial traffic jam there. He was accompanied by officials of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Railways.

According to the Minister, the MCD has already paid a sum of Rs seven crore to the Railways towards construction of an underpass there, which has been pending for the last two years. The Railways are now seeking an additional Rs two crore.

A meting has been called to resolve the issue and construction of the underpass, which is expected to begin soon thereafter. The Minister said the Government of NCT of Delhi was taking steps to expedite the construction of flyovers and laying down certain terms and conditions so that private contractors can be penalised for delays.

Hike in price of petroleum products criticised

Criticising the hike in the price of petroleum products, the president of the National Akali Dal, Mr Paramjeet Singh Pamma, said the NDA government was pursuing anti-people policies. He said the hike in the price of petroleum products will increase the price of all commodities as the transporters will increase the transportation rates. Consequently, the poor people in the country will suffer the consequences of this anti-people policy.

He called the NDA government “a bunch of self-centred parties”. They did nothing for the betterment of the people during the last five years of their rule. Now with Parliamentary elections approaching, they were trying to leave the government, he said.





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.

WHENEVER we talk about pension, old age immediately comes to our mind. Pension is always associated with old age security/some sort of income in the old age. The basic purpose is to provide economic security during the retired life of an individual. What do we mean by security? Does this mean some kind of a guarantee, an assurance or more uncertainty?

Of late, there is a lot of talk on pension reforms especially in unorganised sector. What exactly do we mean by reforms? What are they expected to achieve? Is it to widen the coverage and to ensure better or higher returns to those investing for old age?

As regards coverage, there can be no two thoughts. We have only 11 per cent of working population covered under some kind of pension schemes. In the era, when joint family system is breaking up, average life expectancy is showing upward trend, and requirements, especially medical, are increasing during the old age needs.

Talking about returns, do we expect that overnight returns on pension schemes will improve with more flexibility in investment norms? It is being pleaded that investment manager/insurance company should have more flexibility in investing in the funds being placed with them indirectly asking for higher investments in equities.

Do we expect higher long-term returns in equities? What has been the experience so far? On one side, we want more flexibility in investment pattern, and at the same time we are shy of assuring some kind of a minimum return during the old age. It is said that higher risk would lead to higher return. Agreed. But, is the higher (uncertain) expected return one is looking for when one is investing in some kind of a pension plan for his old age? If higher (expected but not guaranteed) return is the only consideration; don’t we have another instrument called `Mutual Funds’? It may not be wrong to say that whosoever is contributing for pensions is looking for some kind of guarantee for his/her old age.

If we have so far been able to honour our commitment in some old age plans, it would not be incorrect to state that the same has been because of major investments going in for zero risk securities.

Let us see the difference between Mutual Funds and Pension Funds. While the Mutual Funds are free to choose their investment strategies, pension funds have to follow some structured guidelines. A person invests in Mutual Funds looking for higher than expected returns in Bank deposits, government securities, Bonds etc and is supposed to be aware of the attendant inherent risks. In case of pension funds, the safety of the capital and adequate return during the old age are of paramount importance to the investor. If we take the fiscal incentives out (or make them same) and permit free investment pattern in pension plans, the practical difference between the two would disappear whereas the objectives of the two are altogether different.

It is no denying that worldwide we are moving from defined benefit to defined contribution schemes. Seeing Indian conditions, are we prepared for this graduation? We may have to adopt a step approach and start with some hybrid instruments. When we have only 11 per cent of working population covered under some kind of pension schemes and want the rest 89 per cent also to be under some scheme, we will have to offer some kind of guarantee/minimum assured return. And for achieving the same, investment norms with higher allocation towards gilt-edged securities and other safer investment instruments should be considered reasonable.

JOGINDER BAJAJ, Chief (Insurance), PNB, New Delhi

CAS comes a cropper

This is with reference to the introduction of controversial Conditional Access System (CAS).

I would like to add that the Information and Broadcasting Ministry should take people’s views before implementing the system.

The Central Government decided to launch CAS in July 2003, but till date, there is no systematic introduction of this technology. And now, this updated technology is being imposed on the people of South Delhi.

In South Delhi, 20,000 cable homes acquired the Set Top Boxes (STB). But the remaining 2.6 lakh cable homes in

the area, are still in doubt. The initial experience has not been encouraging. If Delhiites are unwilling to adopt this technology, people living in the small towns would not accept the technology at all.

The reason behind the unsuccessful introduction of the CAS is that the government didn’t introduce it with a proper plan.

The government should learn from this failure. And in future, before launching any technology, first decide its approach and clarify the concept before experimenting on common man.


Guru Gobind Singh – A saint-soldier

Guru Gobind Singh was born in Patna (Bihar) in December 1666. He was the only son of Guru Teg Bahadur and Mata Gujri.

He was only nine-year-old when he made a submission to his father Guru Teg Bahadur to sacrifice his life in order to protect the Hindu dharma. After the martyrdom of Guru Teg Bahadur, he inherited the responsibility of guiding the Sikh community as the Tenth Guru at the most delicate time in history.

The Guru was an example of a perfect saint-soldier. He had been cherishing the idea of developing an effective army. He gained unique facility in the use of arms. He was able to build a small but well-trained army.

At 33, on the Baisakhi day, the Guru was ready to establish the Khalsa Panth - a new Sikh brotherhood. On this day, he assembled his followers in thousands at Anandpur and initiated five of them known as ‘Punj Piyaras’. He introduced unifying symbols and practices like Baptism by Amrit, five Ks, a code of conduct and a common salutation “Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa, Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh”.

The event, however, generated considerable fear and animosity among the Hill Rajas. They conspired with the Mughal forces to subdue the Khalsa. The Guru had to fight many battles against them at Anand Pur, Chamkaur and Muktsar. His two elder sons died fighting at Chamkaur. The two younger sons were captured by the Nawab of Sirhind and were bricked alive at Fatehgarh (Near Sirhind). The Guru sacrificed his entire family and underwent untold hardships fighting for righteousness. His famous pronouncement in his letter to Aurangzeb sums up his philosophy on the subject, “When all peaceful means have been tried and do not succeed, it is lawful to make use of the sword”.

After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707 AD, his successor Bahadur Shah made peace with the Guru. Guru reached Upchar Nagar Hazoor Saheb, Nanded (Maharashtra), in September 1708.

Here, he met one Vairagi Sadhu (later called Banda Bahadur) and sent him to Punjab, where he massacred almost all the Mughal tyrants.

Before leaving his mortal coil on October 7, 1708, having been stabbed by one Pathan, he declared that henceforth Guru Granth Sahib shall be the eternal Guru of the Sikhs, thereby ending the succession of human Gurus. This put a seal of finality and permanence on the teachings of Sikhism.

Guru Gobind Singh was an eminent scholar and an excellent poet. He had fifty-two poets of different castes, creed and religions in his court. A regular Kavi-darbar was held at Paonta Sahib, where the poets were awarded for their proficiency in poetry. His writings have a moral as well as political significance. He spread Guru Nanak’s divine message of unity, equality and belief in only one God. The name of Guru Gobind Singh is written in golden letters as a saint-soldier on the pages of Sikh history. The coming generations will be highly inspired to read about his great sacrifice, courage, devotion and determination to fight for truth, freedom and secularism.

A. S. PARWANA,  Shiromani Gurudwara Sewadar Committee, Delhi

Reopen the exit gate

This is with reference to the assurances given by the Railway Minister, Nitish Kumar, while presenting the Railway Budget. We had welcomed the announcements and sent a letter of appreciation to the Railway Minister. But, it seems that some irresponsible officials are working in the opposite direction, ignoring the orders of former Railway Minister Madhavrao Scindia and Divisional Railway Manager, Delhi Division.

At present, Shahdara railway station is one of the important railway junctions in suburb of Delhi. More than 50 thousands commuters use the junction. As many as 91 trains have their halts here. For the last 50 years, there was an exit gate from Chhota Bazar side to platform no 3 for the convenience of the passengers. Due to extension of platform no 3, the exit gate has been closed by the authorities, which causes a great inconvenience to the daily commuters.

The exit gate had also been closed in 1986 by the authorities, but due to protest in the interest of the commuters, the same was reopened on 27.10.1986. At present, the extension work of platform no 3 is under progress, and the space of the exit gate has not been utilised by authorities for any other work. Hence, we earnestly request to the authorities to reopen the gate for the convenience of the passenger.

M.B. DUBEY “BIJNORI”, Dainik Yatri Sangh, Shahadara, Delhi

Mont Fort School: A new example

For the First time in the history of institutions in Delhi, the toppers’ parents were given the honour of chief guest at a function in Ashok Vihar-based Mont Fort School.

Indeed, this is highly appreciated by several academicians and parents who attended the function as chief guests. The Mont Fort School has set a new example, which must emulated by other institutions in the Capital and other parts of India.

AMIT GARG, Ashok Vihar, Phase III, Delhi



Trust racket busted, one held
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
The Economic Offences Wing claimed to have busted a gang involved in the registration of a fake trust, collecting donations without any authorization and issuing income tax exemption certificates to the donors.

While the kingpin of the gang, identified as Manoj Kumar (31), resident of Preet Vihar, was arrested, efforts were underway to track the whereabouts of his two associates, identified as Sukesh Kumar and Ramesh Kumar.

Sukesh Kumar and Ramesh Kumar had registered a parallel trust in the name of ‘Bramavetta Shree Devaraha Baba Trust,’ and were allegedly collecting donations without any authorization.

The EOW received a complaint from the Ministry of Finance that some persons were involved in collecting donations without any authorization by opening separate bank accounts. The Deputy Commissioner of Police (EOW), Mr Dinesh Bhatt, said that investigations revealed that the matter came to the knowledge of the trustees of the trust, when one R. K. Tyagi, Chartered Accountant of a businessman, Mohammad Iqbal Shasmi, approached the trust situated in Sainik Farms that his client had donated Rs 15 lakh to the trust.

When the matter was put under scrutiny, it was revealed that the donation was collected by issuing fake receipt for IT exemption. It was also revealed that the pay order was collected by one Manoj Agarwal and deposited at the Vijaya Bank, Daryaganj branch.

Later, the three accused encashed the said amount and misappropriated the amount. They were operating the fake trust in the name of ‘Brahmavetta Shree Devaraha Baba Trust,’ with its office in Tri Nagar.



Conclave to explore investment potential
in power sector
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 2
Coming on the heels of the Indian Electricity Act, 2003, the ‘Power Conclave’ 2004, promises to raise burning issues concerning the power sector.

The conclave is being organized at Hotel Taj Palace here on January 4- 5, 2004, by the Regional Institute of Technology-Jamshedpur (RIT- Jamshedpur) and is supported by the Ministry of Power, Government of India and Ministry of Energy, Government Jharkhand.

Aimed at providing an international forum to over 600 delegates from all over the world to explore the investment potential in the Indian power sector, burning issues concerning this sector will be raised.

The conclave is scheduled to be inaugurated by the Union Minister for Power, Mr Anant G Geete. Mr Ved Marwah, Governor of Jharkhand, Mr Kariya Munda, Union Minister of Coal, Mr Arjun Munda, Chief Minister of Jharkhand and Mr Lalchand Mahto, Minister of Energy, Jharkhand, were expected to attend the conclave.

The conclave would focus on the new role of post Electricity Act, 2003 and the problems in meeting expectations.

Future IPPs, the new order and tariff policy, financing and insurance requirement and availability, load side management, transmission and distribution, regulation of input such as coal, oil, gas water, transportation etc. are expected to be raised.

The conclave was also an attempt to explore the various challenges at the state level-with Jharkhand as the guest state.



Builders for reduction of stamp duty fee to give
push to real estate business
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, January 2
A majority of the private builders are of the view that the state government should reduce the stamp duty fee in order to give a push to the already existing momentum in the real estate business, especially in Gurgaon city.

The feeling among the colonisers and private builders was that a good percentage of prospective investors were holding themselves back on account of the comparatively high stamp duty fees.

While the fee structure was about 8 per cent in the bordering state of National Capital Territory of Delhi, the rate was high in Gurgaon. In fact, it is twelve and half per cent in HUDA sectors and fourteen and half per cent in the municipal limits of the state.

Summing up the hesitant mood among the investors, the chief of the Ambience Infrastructure Private Ltd., Mr Raj Singh Gehlot, said that the revenue to the government in the present stamp duty regime had not increased.

He felt that in case the fee structure was rationalised, the number of registries was likely to increase manifold.

According to many, there was merit in the advocacy for rationalisation of the stamp duty fee structure, especially in the context of the expanding geographical profile of Gurgaon and other townships placed on the cusp of modernisation and development.

A legion of investors were showing penchant for Gurgaon, but were indulging in buy-sale business through the system of GPA (General Power of Attorney) and “Patta”, wherein the impost was low. The reason being that the buyers have latitude provided in the law book to forego the registry and avoid paying the exorbitant stamp duty fees.

It is commonly believed that the buyers were waiting for the opportune time to go in for the registries. This, in effect, was presently depriving the government dearly of the revenues, which could have accrued from registries and the attendant stamp duty fees.

There were others who have a different take on the issue, though still voting against the high stamp duty fee. According to them, Gurgaon was still a developing city, and still not better than places like

Noida. Also, places like Dwarka in the National Capital Territory of Delhi have given Gurgaon a run for its money with their rapid growth and development.

Also, there appears to be a plan by the policy makers to further develop other townships in the NCR zone as satellite towns. In such a Situation, the decision for prospective investors in favour of Gurgaon may be strategic at times, but often it a touch and go affair and also based on the ‘hunch theory’.

Such categories of investors could factor in the high stamp duty fee and give Gurgaon a go-bye in the process.

There are many who feel that the state government should be futuristic and visionary to see a possible boom in the real estate business in the country, especially on account of the ‘feel-good’ factor in the economy, in the months to come, and take “pro-active” measures to draw in more investors.


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