N C R   S T O R I E S


Delhi cops strike it rich, net arms unit
Churned out 500 illegal weapons
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
With the arrest of three persons, the Crime Branch of Delhi Police today claimed to have busted an illegal arms factory in Loni in Ghaziabad district.

The suspects were identified as Mohammad Sabir, Faridul and Rashid. The police recovered 22 country made pistols, two live cartridges of an SLR and .35 bore, two barrels of .12 bore, 37 barrels of .315 bore, 32 pin caps, four butt bodies, 160 side covers, 32 small pistol butt bodies, one barrel of double barrel gun, 220 triggers, one grinding machine, one welding machine with rods, an iron cutter, wooden strips etc.

The police said that the factory had been operative for the last one year. More than 500 arms had been manufactured and sold to different people in the Capital and elsewhere. The police had received a tip-off that an illegal factory was being run in Loni in Ghaziabad and one of their conduits would be visiting Hazrat Nizamudin Railway Station area on Thursday for disposal of a consignment. A trap was laid and Mohammad Sabir was arrested near Nizamuddin Railway Station. He was carrying four country made pistols.

During interrogation Sabir disclosed that he, along with Faridul and Rashid, had a makeshift manufacturing unit of country made pistols in Kachhi Colony in Loni in Ghaziabad. The Delhi Police, with the help of Ghaziabad police, raided the factory premises and recovered arms, ammunition and material used in manufacturing arms. They used to sell 30 to 40 pistols every month and used to earn Rs 50, 000 per month.


Notorious Sonu gang busted
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
The Special Cell of the Delhi Police today claimed to have arrested members of an interstate gang operating in the Capital and Haryana. The gang was involved in a number of cases, including the murder of a kiln owner in Kharkhoda in Sonepat district, an attempt to murder, dacoities, robberies, motor vehicle thefts and Arms Act infringements in Haryana and Delhi.

Two of the suspects, Amit Dahiya and Madhur Madhav Sharma, were apprehended from near Nehru Park a few days back while they were travelling in a Maruti Esteem car. The car was stolen from Defence Colony. The police have also recovered another Esteem car from their possession, which was stolen from Sarojini Nagar area. Their interrogation led to the arrest of other suspects. They were identified as Arvind Dalal, Pradeep, Sombir, Deepak, Dharmender and Vijay Kumar.

During interrogation Amit Dahiya disclosed that he was a member of the Sonu gang. The gang leader Surinder is currently lodged in Karnal jail; another key member, Arvind Dala, it was learnt, is holed up in a house near Najafgarh. The police kept a watch on his hideout and eventually nabbed Arvind and his associate Pradeep from the Sai Baba Temple in Najafgarh. They, too, were travelling in a Maruti car stolen from Bahadurgargh. Two country made pistols of .315 bore, along with four cartridges, were recovered from their possession. The police further received information that four members of the gang would assemble near Japanese Park, sector 9, Rohini. A trap was laid and the suspects were arrested. One nine mm pistol, one .32 bore country made revolver and two country made pistols, along with 13 cartridges, were recovered. A Maruti car, stolen from Kotla Mubarakpur recently, was also recovered from their possession.

The police said that Madhur Madhav was found to be involved in two cases of motor vehicle theft while Arvind Dalal was involved in a murder case in Haryana. Arvind had been arrested in March 2003. Sombir was involved in robbery cases in Najafgarh, Ashok Vihar, Keshav Puram, Mangolpuri and in an Arms Act case in Sonepat. He was also involved in the murder of Kala, a resident of Kidoli Prahladpur, and Mamman, a brick kiln owner, at village Saunti in Sonepat. Sombir and his associate eliminated Mamman because they wanted to strike terror amongst the other brick kiln owners and extort money from them.

Dharmender was found to be involved in cases of Excise Act and four cases of auto lifting in Rohini, Najafgargh, Shalimarbagh and Adarsh Nagar.


Raj Babbar let off on two counts in rioting case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
The Delhi High Court today dropped some charges against actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar and his supporters for disturbing peace in the Capital in May 2000 while directing the trial to continue on other counts. Justice R S Sodhi directed the police to drop charges relating to disturbing public order and causing hindrance to public servants while ordering the trial to proceed on causing injury to public servants and rioting.

Raj Babbar, Lok Sabha MP and Swamajwadi Party leader, had claimed that no proper sanction had been obtained before proceeding in the matter. The trial court’s order taking cognisance of the matter was illegal, he said and added that such a complaint could only be filed by an injured or aggrieved person and not any other person or police personnel. The judge, therefore, dropped two charges, but said charges against him on other counts would continue after counsel for the police Anil Soni argued that they were more serious charges, for which prior sanction was not required. On August 11, Justice Kapoor had asked Mr Babbar’s counsel to tell his client to be present in court today so that the case could be amicably settled.

The judge said a lenient view could be taken if Babbar apologised and undertook not to do such a thing in future. However, the SP leader did not appear in the court. ‘’He wanted to come but for a personal difficulty,’’ his counsel said. The police had registered an FIR on May 9, 2000, alleging that

Babbar along with about 800 supporters, who had come to the Capital in protest against water shortage in Babbar’s constituency (Agra), resorted to violence and broke the police barricade at Teen Murti.

Eleven policemen and one mediaperson were allegedly injured in the incident.


MDU PG centre gets nod after remaining in limbo
for 16 years
Our Correspondent

Rewari, February 19
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, laid the foundation stone of Maharshi Dayanand University’s Postgraduate Regional Centre of Rewari at Lisana village near here today.

The centre has been running in a rented accommodation at Rewari for the past about 16 years. The successive governments in the state reportedly ignored the project.

The new site of the centre lies on Rewari-Jhajjar Road at a distance of about 4 km from Rewari city.

The village panchayat has given 68 acres of its land for the PG Regional Centre. The state government will provide a sum of Rs 3.40 crore to the panchayat to help it carry out the development works in the village.

The PG Regional Centre, which will be constructed at a cost of Rs 5 crore, would comprise a teaching faculty building, an administrative block, girls hostel and other facilities. This construction work is expected to be complete by March 2005.

Major-Gen. (retd.) Bhim Singh Suhag, Vice-Chancellor of MDU Rohtak, informed that the university planned to introduce professional, technical and job-oriented courses like MBA, MCA, LLB, B. Physiotherapy, para-medical courses at the PG Centre which, he said, would usher in a new era in the realm of higher education in southern Haryana.

Going into the long and chequered history of the PG Regional Centre, the Chief Minister said that it had been set up at Rewari in October 1988 by the then Chief Minister, Mr Devi Lal.

Making a specific mention of the episode pertaining to its old site at Mirpur village where the foundation stone of the centre was laid by the then Chief Minister, Mr Bhajan Lal, on a 100-acre piece of land

in June 1995, Mr Chautala remarked that it was lack of vision on the part of the selectors that the old site at Mirpur village, found flood-prone by an experts committee, had to be discarded by the present state government. Consequently, its present site at Lisana village, which lies on Rewari-Jhajjar Road, was selected.

As regards the SYL canal, the Chief Minister expressed the hope that the judgement, which the apex court had now reserved, would go in favour of Haryana.

He also made it known that Haryana had already made its intentions clear that they wanted the remaining construction work of the SYL canal to be handed over to the Border Road Organisation for its early completion.

In response to a longstanding demand of the Ahirwal region, the Chief Minister publicly announced that he had secured assurances from the Union Defence Minister as well as the Prime Minister that an Ahir Regiment would soon be formed in the Indian Army.

Earlier, the Chief Minister also laid the foundation stone of two flyovers–one each at the Rewari-Narnaul crossing and the Rewari-Jhajjar crossing. The construction of the two flyovers, which will cost Rs 44 crore, is expected to be accomplished in 18 months.


Choice of site for Guru’s memorial under fire

New Delhi: The chief of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Mr Tarlochan Singh, has criticised the decision of the government with regard to the site chosen for the memorial of Guru Teg Bahadur.

Describing the place as “absolutely inappropriate”, he said the location of a new memorial dedicated to Guru Teg Bahadur should be at an appropriate place. His displeasure comes a day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi laid its foundation at Delhi’s Sindhu border.

“The Guru embraced martyrdom at Chandni Chowk in Delhi, where now stands Gurdwara Sis Ganj, and it’s strange to see his planned memorial at a place which is hardly a tourist haunt,” Mr Tarlochan Singh said.

At the foundation-laying ceremony yesterday at the Sindhu border, Mrs Gandhi had praised the Sikh community for its contributions, even though it had distanced itself from the Congress after the 1984 Sikh massacre, in an apparent attempt to win its favour ahead of the elections. TNS


Cloth merchant shot dead; cash, jewellery looted
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, February 19
About a dozen armed miscreants shot dead a cloth merchant Tullan and injured many others who had resisted them in Telhiwara, Dholana. The intruders decamped with Rs 50,000 and more than Rs 3 lakh worth of jewellery and valuables. The assailants had climbed a three-storey house of Tullan in Telhiwara Mohalla from the rear and attacked the inmates. Since a Ramayan Path was on in the adjacent house, the shrieks of the inmates were drowned in the loudspeaker sound.

Man kills estranged wife

A man along with his brother and two companions killed his wife in Ranvir Colony in Loni under Kotwali police station area in a hail of bullets.

Vipin had married Priya three years ago. But Priya had been ill-treated for more dowry so much so that she started living separately with her mother. Her three-year-old son was with her husband.

Both the parties had filed court cases also which were being considered in a Ghaziabad court.

According to Mayadevi, Priyanka’s mother, she was sitting on a bed at 8 pm along with her daughter when Vipin along with his brother Nitin and two others came there with pistols in hands and opened fire, killing her daughter Priyanka. When people assembled in the street, the criminals fired on them as well, injuring a youth Mukesh Kayash, 22.

There was some firing from the crowd also in which one of the assailants was also killed. The Loni police arrested Vipin and were trying to nab the rest of the culprits.

Three power officials beaten up

Jhajjar: A family reportedly beat up three electricity officials after tying them with ropes in Talao village of the district last evening.

The police registered a case against four members of a family on the complaint of the injured Junior Engineer Rajpal. According to information, a team of the Haryana Vidhyut Prasaran Nigam, comprising JE and two linemen Rajbir and Man Singh, proceeded to check any power theft in Talao and Silani villages at the behest of the SDO. When they reached the house of Anoop, son of Raj Singh, they found that the electricity meter was tampered with and the family was using power with a direct ‘kundi’ connection.

The team took the photographs of the ‘kundi’ connection, which angered Anoop, the owner of the house. He reportedly hit the head of the engineer with a brick and snatched his camera. Anoop then took out the reel from the camera. After a while, other family members, including wife, son and daughter-in-law, took the officials hostage by tying them with ropes. OC


Noida admn urged to roll back flat price hike
Parmindar Singh

Noida, February 19
The Federation of Noida Residents Welfare Association has asked the Noida Authority to roll back the hike in prices of flats announced by the authority recently.

A delegation of the federation, which met Vinode Malhotra, the Chairman and CEO of Noida Authority yesterday in this connection, said the CEO remained non-committal when asked about the possibility of a roll-back in flat prices.

The Federation general secretary P.N. Jain, in a written letter to the Noida Chairman, Mr Vinode Malhotra, has said that the increase effected in prices of the residential flats in Sectors 52, 61, 62, 66, 71, 82, 93 and 110 is totally unwarranted.

A proper evaluation had been done of their prices when the scheme was launched. A second evaluation was totally uncalled for. The prices should have been calculated on the basis of the circle rates as the authority officials had inordinately delayed the construction of flats, the federation felt.

Actually it is the connivance of the officials and the building contractors which is responsible for the mounting expenses. The Noida Authority should recover its losses from them rather than punish the allottees unjustly.

In view of the bad quality of workmanship in the constructions, the prices and stamp duty should have been reduced, the federation said.

By hiking the prices of the flats without any reason, the Noida Authority’s image was getting a severe beating.

The federation has thus called upon the Noida Authority Chairman to withdraw the unprecedented and unwarranted increase in the prices of flats.

The prices have been hiked nine times in three years.


Special settlement scheme for Noida power consumers
Our Correspondent

Noida, February 19
The Paschimanchal Power Company, a subsidiary of the UP Power Corporation, has announced its one-time settlement scheme for the Noida consumers, which will continue till March 15, 2004. Under this one-time settlement scheme, outstanding electricity bills of over Rs 15 lakh would be adjusted and accepted in four easy installments. Consumers with dues of over Rs 25 lakh will be given an option to deposit their outstanding bill amount in six installments. However, these consumers will have to deposit their monthly bills along with their agreed installments of pending bills.

The Deputy General Manager of the UP Power Corporation, Mr B.B. Singh, said the consumers could deposit their applications at the sub- divisional or the divisional office along with an amount of Rs. 1,000. The amended bill would be dispatched to the consumer within 72 hours of the receipt of his application, he said. However, he said, the defaulters who fail to apply by March 15, will have their power supply disconnected.

Even as giving the facility to deposit their outstanding bills in installments, the Deputy General Manager warned that in case an installment cheque bounced the benefit of the scheme would be immediately withdrawn to the defaulter.

Out of a total of 2,561 defaulter, 1,674 consumers had taken advantage of the scheme in the first phase from July 2003 to January 31, 2004. The Paschimanchal Power Company has fixed a revenue target of Rs.406 crore in Noida. This target is Rs 77 crore higher than last years revenue receipt of Rs. 329 crore. According to officials, it will not be easy to achieve this target. A revenue collection of Rs 322 crore has been achieved through a monthly receipt of Rs 22 crore during the last 10 months, according to sources.

Youth injured

Sonepat: A youth, identified as Surinder, sustained injuries when his motorcycle lost balance and fell into a pit along the Sonepat-Gohana road near Pinana village, about 20 km from here last evening.

According to a report, the injured youth was rushed to the local civil hospital for treatment where he was stated to be out of danger. The youth was on his way from Gohana to Sonepat on his motorcycle.


Despite good rains underground water table receding
Our Correspondent

Sonepat, February 19
Despite sufficient rains during the monsoon last year, the underground water level in Gannaur development block of the district continue to go down and this trend has alarmed the agriculture scientists whose efforts to motivate the farmers to desist from paddy cultivation have not met with any success so far.

According to a survey conducted during June last year, the level of underground water in Gannaur region was recorded at an average depth of 10.84 meters. The region experienced sufficient rains during July, August and September and in the opinion of the agriculture scientists, the water level should have been improved by at least 100 CMS after these rains. But to their surprise, it was found at 10.87 meters during October survey - three CMs less than June level.

As Gannaur and Rai blocks of the district are the main paddy areas of the district because of location in the Khadar belt of Yamuna, the similar situation is likely to develop in Rai block also. Moreover, because of the insufficient canal water supplies in the belt, the farmers entirely depend on irrigation by tubewells and sub soil water being sweet and useful for irrigation and its use has been excessive.

Keeping in view the downfall in the level of sub soil water, the government has issued directions to the financial institutions, cooperative banks and other commercial organisations not to sanction loans for installation of tubewells in the Gannaur block. But in the opinion of agriculture experts, this step of the government was not enough to check the problem. They are of the opinion that as the government has completely banned the paddy cultivation in dark zone of Gurgaon district, and the farmers could be convicted for violating the ban, similar orders were required for Ganaur and Rai zones also.

Talking to the NCR Tribune, the Kisan union leader, Mr Braham Singh Dahiya, squarely held the government responsible for this situation alleging that it had failed to motivate the farmers for alternative crops though the farmers themselves were well aware about this alarming trend.

Stating that the Punjab government has been compensating the farmers leaving off paddy cultivation, he demanded that the Haryana Government should also implement such plans in the danger zones of the state.

“Until the farmers are assured of the remunerative prices of the diversified crops, they will continue to prefer the traditional crop of paddy and wheat,” he said.


Mela to educate people on soya benefits
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
To bring awareness to the masses about the health benefits of soya and its products, American Soybean Association (ASA) is participating in a three-day Health Mela at Karol Bagh. With the initiative of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the mela is a common platform for disseminating information on soya and how it can prove to be an important ingredient in a protein-starved Indian diet. The participation would also be extended to other places in the Capital, where soy products would be displayed and their properties highlighted.

Dr Kavitha Reddy, a nutritionist with a Masters in food and nutrition and a doctorate in food science, will educate the visitors on the benefits of soya. With the Indian population prone to diseases such as high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity, this mela can prove to be an eye-opener for masses.

Commenting on the participation of ASA in the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Health Mela, Dr Suresh Itapu, Technical Director, ASA, said: “It gives me immense pleasure to participate in the mela, as it is a step towards educating and sensitising people on the dietary needs of the human body. The soya, with superior quality of protein, can serve as a good source of complete protein.” He further added that the masses would be made aware through the mela of the variety of soya products available in the market and how soy can be incorporated in the Indian diet.

Soya bean, which is one of nature’s most important nutritional gifts, is one of the very few plants that provide a high quality protein with minimum saturated fat.

Soya bean protein provides all essential amino acids in the amounts needed for human health. In addition, soy protein provides a number of cures for diseases such as cancer, heart-related problems, osteoporosis, postmenopausal symptoms, diabetes and others.


Trade unions meet to discuss strike on Feb 24
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, February 19
The leaders of various employees associations and the trade unions met at Palwal town today to discuss the preparations for the forthcoming nationwide strike of the employees and workers on February 24, in protest against the ongoing economic liberalisation, globalisation and the alleged anti-government employees’ policies.

A clarion call was given by the speakers to ensure complete success of the strike. The meeting was organised by the Joint Action Committee of the Haryana Government employees in which prominent leaders of the Sarva Karamchari Sangh, Haryana Karamchari Mahasangh and the trade unions including the CITU, AITUC and the Hind Majdoor Sangh took part.

Speaking at the occasion, Mr Shailender Singh of the Punarjagran Santha, warned of serious repercussions of the policies followed by the Union and state governments, as far as the interests of the common man was concerned. He alleged that the market was being captured by the multinationals and the domestic industry, which include the artisans and workers living in the villages, were faced with no demand for their work and hence were virtually starved.

He claimed that a propaganda through all means of the media had been on that the country was making a fast progress, but he asked where was the progress when the number of jobless and unemployed had grown up and a majority of the population living in the rural and semi-urban areas were not having even the basic amenities drinking water, houses, roads, power and work to earn a living.


Kirari Suleman Nagar to be remodeled
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
The Kirari Suleman Nagar drain in North-West Delhi will be remodeled and a sum of Rs 291 crore have been sanctioned for it, said the Dr A. K. Walia.

He informed that the Kirari Suleman Nagar drain starts from Sector 21 Rohini and outfalls into the Najafgarh drain after traversing a distance of 7,880 meter through Begumpura, Nithari and Kammruddin Nagar.

Dr Walia said that in the absence of proper sewage system in these colonies, the sewerage effluent and household wastewater is being discharged into the drain during monsoon months. Moreover, because of non-existence of hollows in these colonies, the residents of the area generally dispose off their house waste directly in the drain.

The finance minister added that because of inadequate space on the banks, it becomes possible to carry out proper desilting operation in this reach. He said that the drain would be remodeled by providing an RCC trough section, so that the adequate space can be reclaimed for movement of machinery and trucks for carrying out desilting work.

Dr Walia hoped that the remodeled drain would help to check drainage congestion and unhygienic conditions in the catchment area, benefiting lakhs of residents surrounding the drain.


Govt sanctions Rs 30 lakh to 15 wards

Jhajjar, February 19
The state government has sanctioned Rs 30 lakh for concretising the streets and proper drainage system in all the 15 wards of the township.

Mr Mohinder Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, said that Rs 2 lakh would be spent on each ward, which would help in beautification of the town. The tenders of the work have been floated and the work would be completed within one month, he added. OC


Marriage party members injured 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
Six persons, including a bride and a bridegroom, were injured in a road accident. The injured persons have been admitted to a trauma centre. The accident occurred when a marriage party was going from Jama Masjid to Seelampur in their car. A truck (No. HR-584182) rammed into their vehicle at a red light crossing in Shastri Park. The injured were identified as Arif, the bridegroom, his bride, Ilma, and their friends, Wahid, Parveen, Salma, Shazad and Asif.

Foundation stone laid

Professor Vijay Kumar Malhotra, president of All India Sports Council, laid the foundation stone of a parking area near Hauz Khas village today. Speaking on the occasion, he said that by development of parking sites, a long pending demand of residents would be met. He appreciated the work of the DDA for taking up development of various projects related to health and environment like sports complexes, greens and community halls in urban villages.

Shivaji remembered

The Mayor, Mr Ashok Kumar Jain, paid glowing tribute to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj on the occasion of his 377th birth anniversary today. He garlanded his statue at the Shivaji Park near Minto Bridge.

Car snatched

Sonepat: Three unidentified persons, including a woman, reportedly snatched a car at pistol point near Gohana town, about 40 km from here yesterday. According to a report, the car belonged to Jasvir Tour and Travels, Delhi, and was booked by the miscreants for onward journey to Panipat via Sonepat and Gohana.

The police have registered the case and further investigations were in progress. A hunt is on to apprehend the miscreants.

Youth commits suicide

A 22-year-old youth, committed suicide by taking sulphas tablets. The police have sent the body of the youth for the postmortem examination.

Two persons hurt

Two persons, identified as Phool Kumar and Jeet Kumar, were injured when they were attacked with lathis and other deadly weapons in their house at Halalpur village, about 25 km from here last evening. According to a report, both the injured persons were immediately hospitalised and were stated to be out of danger. The police are investigating into the case.

Strike call

Thousands of industrial and farm workers as well as government employees will take part in the nationwide hartal on February 24. The strike has been called by the Left parties and trade unions in protest against the anti-people policies of the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and the Supreme Court’s verdict banning the strike.


Unit area system will encourage transparency: CII
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 19
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has welcomed the new Unit Area System of property tax assessment in the national Capital, which will be implemented by April this year.

The new system will remove the ‘Inspector Raj’ and bring in transparency in the whole system, said Mr Vikram Bakshi, Chairman, Delhi State Council, at the CII- Delhi State Council meeting here today.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr Akash Taneja, Member Secretary, Municipal Valuation Committee, said, “In the present system, the property owners often face harassment by the inspectors, as assessment could be subjective. But the new system will be based on the total covered area of the property, unit area value per square meter and factors based on objective parameters.”

He said the property tax was the single most important tax for Municipal Corporation. The share of property tax was 73 per cent in the total municipal tax collection. In 2002-03, he said, the revenue of the MCD was Rs 1,659 crore, of which Rs 704 crore was from property tax alone.

Mr Sameer Sharma, Deputy Assessor and Collector, Municipal Corporation, Delhi, said that a list of 1,900 colonies and localities in Delhi had been finalised to facilitate operation of unit area method. Modern technologies like aerial photography, GIS mapping and allocation of unique property index code (PIC) will be used to operate the new system. He added that under the new system, the MCD would give concessions to senior citizens, women owned residential properties, group housing societies and colonies maintaining internal services. Further, once the new system was in place, the taxpayers would be able to avail up to 15 per cent rebate if they paid the tax in first quarter of assessment year.

Study USA exhibition

The US Commercial Service of the American Embassy is organising a two-day ‘Study USA’ exhibition at Hotel Intercontinental Parkroyal on February 20-21. The fair is being organised for the benefit of prospective high schools and college level students, apart from business professionals seeking graduate level or other executive development courses. The aspirants will be able to meet admission officials from universities in the USA and seek consultation on courses, application requirements, procedures, costs and housing.

The fair, which will be open from 10 AM to six PM will include participation from The Centre of American Education, Clemson University, Saint Joseph’s University, University at Buffalo, The State University at New York and Purdue University Calumet. The United States Educational Foundation (USEIF) in India and some of the participating universities will give presentations at the fair.

Home Loan fair

ICICI Bank Home Loans today announced the launch of ‘Home Utsav’, a property exhibition, to be held at MGF Plaza, Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, Gurgaon, from February 20 to 25, 2004.

The exhibition will have a display of properties from all the reputed developers in Gurgaon. The ICICI Bank will be offering spot sanctions and disbursements at the exhibition.

As a special scheme during the exhibition, ICICI Bank has introduced an innovative `scratch card’ scheme, wherein lucky customers will get a reduced interest rate on their home loans. Customers who avail of a spot sanction during the exhibition will walk away with a home loan at interest rates ranging between 4.99 per cent to 7.25 per cent. The ICICI Bank home loans will also offer ‘MaxMoney loans,’ the latest product from the ICICI Bank stable. ‘MaxMoney’ home loans offer a unique advantage of higher loan eligibility with a lower initial installment. Customers can get upto 30 per cent higher loan amount against their current income with a step up EMI plan in which the customer pays a lower initial EMI and the EMI gets stepped up in the successive years of repayment.

Venu Menon awards

At the sixth Venu Menon Animal Awards ceremony here today, elephant rehabilitation expert, Dr Daphne Sheldrick, called for the cessation of forcing domestication of orphaned elephants for work.

Dr. Sheldrick, who heads the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and has raised 54 elephant calves and rehabilitated 15 of them in Tsavo National Park, said, “I strongly believe that the Asian elephants too can be rehabilitated and introduced into the wild.”

The awards function held in the city today saw animal lovers receive awards for their contribution in the welfare of animals.

The winners included Ms. Banadana Sengupta, who won the ‘Venu Menon Animal Allies Award’, carrying a cash purse of Rs. 25,000, a statuette and a citation.

Jury’s special award was given to Abrar Quereshi for taking a step to stand out of the crowd of butchers and protecting the rights and welfare of animals. He was given a citation and Rs. 10,000. Blue Cross of India, Chennai, received the ‘Special Organisation Award’ of Rs 15,000, a citation and a statuette. The ‘Leadership in Conservation’ award was given to Pradyut Bordoloi, a minister from Assam, for taking a stand against the government and other department’s to protect forests and wildlife.

The WTI special award was given to Upendra Arora for his endeavour in publishing and selling of wildlife and environment research and conservation literature.

While the ‘Young Achiever’s Award’ could not be given for the second consecutive year for want of suitable entries, the other awards were given to Mr Ashok Kumar, senior advisor, WTI, Chintamani Dhyani and R. N Pandey, both Range Officers in Rajaji National Park, Dr Ravi Sankaran and Mr. Lavkumar Khaccher, who was awarded the ‘Venu Menon Lifetime Achievement Award’.

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