N C R   S T O R I E S


MCD nod to cap on property tax hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
The Municipal Corporation of Delhi decided at a meeting today that the property tax hike should not exceed two-and-a-half times in case of residential properties.

At the same time, it is considering extending the deadline for lump-sum payments till September. It has also been decided to evolve some procedure for certification of covered area in a building.

This has been done to give the Anomaly and Hardship Committee reasonable time to resolve cases which may come up for consideration during the first year of implementation of the new system.

At the meeting, it was also proposed that any increase in incidence of tax, in the case of residential premises, would be capped at two and a half times of the tax being assessed and paid in the previous year, primarily to avoid any hardship to senior citizens and other economically weaker sections.

The government would be issuing necessary guidelines to the Anomaly and Hardship Committee to consider the above measure for such groups of people.

In order to facilitate easy access to architects for certification of covered area for properties on plot sizes of 100 square metres and above or for those properties where no other documentary proof of covered area was available, the corporation has decided that in addition to the list of architects empanelled with the MCD any architect registered with the Council of Architecture can certify the covered area.

The fees for such clarification could be mutually settled between the property owner and the architect. However, the fees would not exceed 10 per cent of the tax assessed under any circumstances.



Noida land price hike okayed
Parmindar Singh

Greater Noida, March 27
Greater Noida has presented a budget of Rs 980 crore for 2004-05 which its CEO, Mr Brijesh Kumar, termed a development budget. Out of this, Rs 540 crore has been set aside for land acquisition.

A sum of Rs 200 crore will be spent on urban development and Rs 9 crore on rural development during the year.

The 49th board meeting of the Greater Noida Authority approved the hike in residential, commercial and industrial plots by 5 to 15 per cent.

Significant changes have also been made in the structure of the neighbourhood management council of Greater Noida at this board meeting.

The issue of scams in award of works during the tenure of the Mayawati government in the Greater Noida Authority hogged a major part of the deliberations. The probe with regard to 105 allotments of land was also been referred to many a time and some of the officers were pulled up, sources said.

The chairman, Mr Brijesh Kumar, had also presented before the board the anomalies found in many issues probed by him. The question of a fresh probe on three dozen issues was also discussed. About 6700 acres land will be acquired during the year at an expected cost of Rs 540 crore. The Chairman said the rules and regulations governing construction work in residential sectors of Greater Noida as framed by the authority had been approved by the board.

It would not be possible now to make any changes in these rules, he said. The neighbourhood management council structure had also been sufficiently altered. A city management council would also be constituted, Mr Kumar said.

The GNIDA would generate funds to the tune of Rs 750 crore out of the total of Rs 980 crore from its residential, industrial, commercial and institutional sectors and special economic zones.

The expenditure on development in rural sectors had been hiked to Rs 9 crore from Rs 7 crore last year.



Revised categories, cut in differential likely
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
It is likely that the variation in valuation of property under the new property tax assessment system, which comes into effect from April 1, 2004, would be brought down to 1:3 from the current 1:7. Stating this at a meeting organized by PHDCCI in the Capital, Mr Rakesh Mehta, Commissioner, MCD, said that the civic body was working on revising the categories and the differential would be reduced to 1:3 in the near future.

It was not possible to introduce an across the board cap on property tax at this stage, he clarified. However, a Hardship Redressal Committee, which would come into being from April 1, 2004, would examine exceptional cases as and when the appeals come before it. The committee would also examine issues related to definition under the bylaws. In response to the issue of high tax on industrial areas, raised by Mr S P Virmani, former president, PHDCCI, Mr Mehta said that already industrial areas were being treated at one category lower than the adjoining areas. However, the MCD was open to lowering the same by one more point in due course.

In another clarification, Mr Mehta said that since there was no data available with regard to vacant land, the same would not be taxed in this assessment year. The MCD would, however, collect more data during the year before levying any tax on vacant land.

Mr Mehta also clarified that no architect’s certificate was compulsory for property tax assessment as was being assumed by many. He, however, said that any documentary proof in the form of sanctioned plan or assessment order was sufficient for assessment purposes. Mr Mehta said that as part of customer service the MCD had tied up with the ICICI Bank for training 600 architects who could be called by any assessee for the purpose of assessment of his property. These architects were being trained to assess and calculate tax on any property and would collect and deposit tax on behalf of the assessee at a nominal fee of 10 per cent as recommended by the MCD.

There are always apprehensions whenever a new system is introduced, Mr Mehta said. Before implementing the new assessment system in Delhi, critical evaluation of tax assessment in cities like Hyderabad, Bangalore and Patna was done.

Earlier, in her welcome remarks, Ms Sushma Berlia, Chairperson, Delhi Committee, PHDCCI, said that while the new property tax system had taken into consideration a number of issues raised by the chamber, certain fundamental concerns still remained unaddressed.

On the issue of calculation of built up area on the basis of covered area, Ms Berlia said the definition of covered area was arbitrary and unreasonable and would give rise to problem of measurement. To avoid disputes, the calculation of built up area should be on the basis of carpet area, she suggested. Also, while calculating tax liability, areas like basements, garages, verandas and balconies need to be treated differently.



Uzbek national, 4 other call girls nabbed in CP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
With the arrest of five call girls, including an Uzbek national, along with four pimps from the parking area of a hotel in Connaught Place, the New Delhi district police today claimed to have busted a prostitution racket. A Toyota Qualis and a Santro, used by the girls, and 12 mobile phones were also seized from their possession.

Based on a tip-off that some pimps and prostitutes were looking for customers in the parking lot of Hotel Marina last evening, the police struck a deal through a decoy customer. The five girls, who were apprehended, include a 32-year old Uzbek national, resident of Anand Niketan, while the other call girls, three from Delhi and one from Dehra Dun, are in the age group 19-23.

The pimps were identified as Yashpal (29) and Hemant (24) and their associates Bunty (23) and Pradeep (20). According to the police, a deal was struck with Yashpal for Rs 3,000 each for three of the call girls while another deal was struck with Hemant for Rs 5,000 each for the Uzbek national and the other call girl for a night. The charges included the pimps’ commission.

On interrogation, the calls girls disclosed that they operated through mobile phones with the help of pimps who used to fix the meeting place with the customers.



Armed men strike at Gandhi Nagar house
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
Seven masked desperadoes, armed with countrymade weapons and knives, entered a businessman’s house in the Gandhi Nagar area of East district in the wee hours today and decamped with Rs 5 lakh in cash and jewellery worth Rs 4 lakh, after locking the occupants of the house inside a room.

The masked men entered the Gandhi Nagar house of one Ranjit Verma, who stays there with wife Anu, sons Sanjay and Ajay and relatives Ananth and Anubathi.

Ranjit owns a saree printing factory in Karawal Nagar and has been staying in the Gandhi Nagar area for the past 40 years. The police said the desperadoes entered the house at around 4.30 am through the back door and tied the hands of Ajay Verma who was sleeping on the ground floor. Then, they took Ajay to the second floor where Sanjay was sleeping. The latter, too, was bound and both were brought to the first floor where the other family members, including Ranjit and Anu, were sleeping.

The desperadoes then locked the family members inside one room and demanded the cupboard keys from Ranjit. After procuring the keys, the desperadoes ransacked the cupboard and managed to escape with Rs 5 lakh in cash and jewellery worth Rs 4 lakh.

The police said no one was injured during the dacoity, which lasted for almost an hour. Since the suspects spoke in Bengali, the police suspect the hand of Bangladeshi criminals. The police have registered a case of dacoity and launched a massive operation to nab those involved in the crime.



Power board blames consumers for shortage

Jhajjar, March 27
As the sweaty summer is setting in, people are bracing themselves for sleepless nights if nothing is done about the worsening power situation. With electricity playing a continuous game of hide and seek the claims of the Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, on providing adequate supply of power in public meetings fall flat.

If the existing situation does not improve the power cuts could stretch for as long as 12 hours a day in this subdivision, sources admitted. Still, the officials of the power board are not ready to buy the argument that the aggravating power crisis is the outcome of shortage of power with the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN). They lay the blame on excessive and uncontrolled consumption of electricity coupled with the phenomenon of power theft, especially in the countryside. Whatever may be the reasons one thing is clear that the scorching heat of the summer season would become more unbearable in the absence of electricity.

The officials concerned, while accepting the facts on the power available falling below the requirement, argued proper power management by the consumers at the domestic level could solve their problem than any efforts put in by the senior officials and the state government. “The careless attitude of the consumers in making use of electricity is a bigger challenge before the nigam than power generation,” a senior official said.



Probes galore & guilty unmasked, but
justice elusive
B. S. Malik

Sonepat, March 27
A victim of alleged irregularities and tampering of revenue records, Sriniwas has been running from pillar to post to seek justice for more than two years. Repeated inquiries have not yet brought forth any relief to him despite the fact that three revenue officials have allegedly been found guilty of tampering with the records by three different inquiry officers.

According to Sriniwas, he had lodged a complaint with the District Public Relations and Grievances Committee, stating that in connivance with the patwari his share of land had been given to other members of his family. The then Chairman of the committee and Town and Country Planning Minister Dhirpal Singh were informed by the then Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Yadav, that the complaint was genuine. He had suggested restoring the land to the complainant after rectifying the lapses. This was agreed to by both the parties.

However, he alleged that in the true copy of the mutation and the affidavits he noticed some cuttings favouring his brother Jai Bhagwan by earmarking more land to him (the brother). During subsequent inquiries by the then SDM, Mr Sujan Singh, and the then district revenue officer, he alleged three revenue department officials, including a tehsildar, a girdawar and a patwari, were found guilty of tampering with the records.

But even then no action was taken by the authorities concerned. He had not even been given copies of the inquiry reports, mutation and affidavits though he had been trying to get these for the past two months. “After months I was told that the file has been sent to the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, at Chandigarh. I have gone to Chandigarh at least three times, all in vain, as the officers concerned are afraid that after obtaining the papers I may seek justice from the court. Then, the revenue officials allegedly involved in the irregularities might be convicted by the court,” he said.

“Now, another inquiry is to be conducted by Additional Deputy Commissioner R. P. Bhardwaj after my complaint to the Prime Minister. But I am hopeful of getting justice though there might be a delay,” he said.

Traders kidnapped, Rs 2 cr ransom call

Two traders, namely, Sanni Jain (20) and Ashu Jain (23), both cousins and residents of Sector 14, a residential colony of the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA), are reported to have been kidnapped by some unidentified armed persons while they were going in a car from Sonepat to Gohana town for collection of money from their clients.

According to a report, the alleged kidnappers have demanded Rs 2 crore in ransom from the parents. The police have registered the case and further investigations are on.



Sisters drowned, brother missing

New Delhi: Tragedy struck a family when two girls drowned in the Yamuna in the Khajuri Khas area of North-East district last evening; their brother was still missing. The third sister, Zahida (6), has been admitted to GTB Hospital and her condition is reported to be serious.

The deceased have been identified as Gulo (2) and Rani (8). A hunt is on for their brother Sajid (10). The police said the four were children of a rickshaw-puller, Javed, resident of Sriram Colony. According to the police, the children were apparently playing on the bank of the river when they were swept away by the sudden water flow. TNS



Ramnavami fasts and righteousness

RAMNAVAMI is the nine-day festival celebrating the birth of Rama, considered an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The central figure of Ramayana, his appointed purpose in taking the human form, was to destroy the demon king Ravana.

During this festival, Ayodhya, considered the birthplace of Rama, witnesses great pomp and celebrations. A huge fair is organised for two days. Rath yatras (chariot processions) of Rama, his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman, are taken out from many temples.

According to Swami Sivananda, Rama was an ideal son, brother, husband and even an ideal king. He embodied the highest ideals. He is held out as the perfect example in father-son, husband-wife, king-subject, brother-brother relationships. He chose to go into self-exile in obedience to his father, Dasarath, and abdicated his right to the throne. Such was his sense of righteousness, which he even put his wife to the test, when some of his subjects talked disparagingly about her and questioned her loyalty.

During the nine-day celebrations expert storytellers and folk artistes eulogise the virtues of Lord Rama and exhort listeners to emulate the examples set for them in the great epic, Ramayana, known and read throughout the length and breadth of the country.

Womenfolk flocking to the temples these days along with platters containing their offerings of coconuts, flowers and fruits display a religiosity that is unique to this nation of one billion. Their piety and earnestness get reflected in the nine-day fast they undertake—ending on Ramnavami. Fasts are usually observed for various purposes. On the beneficial impact of fasting, Swami Sivananda has written as follows: “Fasting controls passion. It checks the emotions. It controls the senses also. It is a great penance. It purifies the mind and heart. It destroys a multitude of sins. Fasting controls the tongue in particular, which is the deadliest enemy of man.

Fasting overhauls the respiratory, circulatory, digestive and urinary systems. It destroys all the impurities of the body and all sorts of poisons.”

If a king wishes to subdue a city belonging to enemies, he first of all keeps them without bread and water, and the enemy being in this wise, harassed by hunger, become subject unto him; and thus it is in respect of the hostile passions. Fasting and hunger weakens such passions.

But fasting should be more than a means of exercising control over self. It must be accompanied by practice of other virtues as well to be pleasing to God. Listen to St John Chrysostom: “Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice. Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful. Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip. Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.

For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?”

There is no doubt about the upsurge in religiosity in both rural and urban settings. Festivals are drawing more people, not less. If anything old rituals, considered outdated for quite some time, are getting revived on account of the new interest in religion. Often this is done in the name of promoting traditional values.

If anything social tensions and break up of relationships are taking place at a rapid pace because of the growing materialism and changes in technology and life styles.

Divorce rates are going up especially among the educated. Crime statistics from major towns show involvement of youths from high-income households, which psychologists attribute to loss of values. It is clear that despite the influence of many new Gurus and religious revival, the downward slide in moral standards in all areas of life continues to cause anxiety.

This raises an old question—the gap between profession and practise. Why is it that with all religious fervour and festivities, and with a noble heritage of spiritual masters and epics, the country is listed among the most corrupt nations of the world? Obviously, all the piety does not get translated into ethical behaviour in families, offices, market places and societies. The dichotomy of life and faith is a problem that has plagued mankind everywhere. Materialism and modern influences are so overpowering as to stifle the voice of conscience enlightened by religion. Fidelity in marriage, loyalty in relationships, fairness in dealings and the craving for love are all swept aside by the temptations of the moment.

Rama, the Ramayana tells us, was an ideal ruler who had the interests of the subjects at heart; today’s rulers are only committed to their own welfare as against their subjects. He was willing to sacrifice everything in pursuit of dharma (righteousness). The father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, envisaged a Ram rajya, wherein righteousness and justice prevail and everyone is treated as equal. On this Ramnavami (falling on Tuesday), where do we find ourselves? An introspection is quite in order as we celebrate the birth of the epic hero.

M P K Kutty



Two held for slitting kidnapped man’s neck
Our Correspondents

Ghaziabad, March 27
The police claimed to have nabbed two criminals involved in the abduction of a man, who was later thrown out of the car after slitting his neck. The arrested criminals were identified as Guddru Tyagi, resident of Khemawatti (Murad Nagar) and Sandeep alias Sharoo of village Sikka, Dankaur. The third man involved in the case, identified as Titu of Moradabad, was absconding.

Ajay Kumar of Khemawatti was kidnapped on March 19 from the market in Nand Gram. Later, the kidnappers demanded Rs 4 lakh as ransom money.

However, the kidnappers failed to turn up to collect the ransom amount at Dhookna Mode.

Deciding to kill him, the criminals slit his neck and threw him out of the car. However, the Moradabad police rushed the injured Ajay to a hospital. The Sihani Gate police have nabbed two of the three kidnappers and recovered the knife used by the criminals for slitting his neck.

Six criminals arrested

Jhajjar : The district police claimed to have arrested a gang of six criminals involved in several cases of robbery and loot in the district. The local court remanded them to five days of police custody today. According to the police spokesperson, the accused were identified as Raj Kumar of Silana village, Ashok of Bhadani village, Jaipal of Jondhi village, Om Prakash of Bhindawas village, Shambu

Nath of Chhawani mohalla and Naseeb of Hamirpur district. During interrogation, the accused confessed that they had looted a man near Dadri and a patrol station near Chidi village. They had also snatched a Matiz car near Dhalanwas village and abandoned it near Jahajgarh village.

Woman commits suicide

A woman reportedly committed suicide by consuming sulphas tablets in Khatiwas village of the district yesterday.

According to information, the deceased, identified as Pushpa, a mother of two children, took the extreme step, as she could not bear the harassment by her husband and in-laws. The police have registered a case against her husband, Harpal, mother-in-law Meva Devi and brother-in-law Bahadur Singh.

Protest against illegal occupation of land

Sonepat: Large number of women held a demonstration in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner here yesterday in protest against the illegal occupation of public and municipal land by a member of the Kharkhauda Municipal Committee and his supporters. According to a report, a memorandum demanding the immediate vacation of the unauthorised occupation of the public and municipal land was submitted to the DC.

Man injured

A member of the Muslim Social Committee, Mr Samsher Ali, was seriously injured when he was assaulted with iron rods by one Guggan near the bus stand at Kharkhauda town, 19 km from here last evening.

According to a report, the injured person was immediately hospitalised and was stated to be out of danger. He has also informed the police about the incident.

Three persons acquitted

The Additional Sessions Judge of Sonepat, Mr Dharamvir Singh, yesterday acquitted three accused, Bijender, Subhash and Prem of Chidana village due to lack of evidence in a dowry death case registered against them in Sadar police station, Gohana. The complaint was filed by Mr Mana, a resident of Bhambewa village in Jind district on August 31, 2003.

Dharna ends

The dharna by the employees of CR State College of Engineering, Murthal, came to an end last evening. According to a report, the dharna was launched by the Engineering College Employees Welfare Association in protest against the state government’s reported decision to hand over the college to a society.

The leaders of the union have also announced a procession on April 6 in Sonepat and submit a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner for forwarding it to the state government.



PNB’s second Customs Duty Acceptance Office inaugurated
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
The Punjab National Bank (PNB) opened its second Customs Duty Acceptance Office at the New Custom House, IGI Airport, New Delhi. Mr Ramesh Ramchandra, Chief Commissioner, Customs, Delhi Zone, was the chief guest and Mr S.S. Kohli, Chairman and Managing Director, presided over the function. Mr V.K. Nagar, General Manager, Delhi Zone, and other senior officers of the bank were also present on the occasion.

Mr. S.S. Kohli said that around 90 per cent of the bank’s business had already been computerised. One of the major initiatives taken by the bank is the launch of Centralized Banking Solution (CBS) and inter-branch networking and data sharing platform aimed at providing ‘anywhere anytime banking’ with the assistance of Infosys Technologies Limited, the leading banking software solutions provider.

He said PNB has taken the lead in providing the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) facility to the customers at the New Delhi Custom House branch. The PNB has developed a system whereby the custom duty deposited by the customers in any of its more than 300 ATMs will automatically be credited in customs designated account for the purpose at the New Delhi Custom House branch. The new system will be effective from April 15.

Memorandum to debar leaders involved in ‘84 riots

The victims of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots today staged a demonstration outside the residence of Congress president, Ms. Sonia Gandhi.

A memorandum was also submitted to Ms. Sonia Gandhi.

The demonstrators demanded that the party should not field candidates involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that left hundreds dead and as many injured.

They demanded that those leaders who were involved in inciting the mobs during the riots that broke out following the assassination of former Prime Minister, Ms. Indira Gandhi, should be debarred from contesting the Lok Sabha polls. The demonstrators included members from the Sikh Sangat, Sikh Forum and Association of Riot Widows.



DSYN 2004 to showcase India’s capabilities in textile manufacturing
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 27
The National Institute of Fashion Technology, under the aegis of Ministry of Textiles and in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism, will showcase India’s capabilities in textile manufacturing, designing and all other aspects of the fashion value chain.

The DSYN 2004 from March 29-31 aims to create a global trade event that will find place in international fashion calendar, attract international buyers and build a reputation of being a valuable buying resource.

Approximately 165 collections would be showcased in nine shows over 3 days of the event.

These shows will cover many niche categories like ready to wear (Men and women), sportswear handwoven and crafted wear, denim, swimwear and kidswear. DSYN 2004 will witness participation from some of the best names in the textiles industry like Du Pont Lycra, S Kumar’s, Mafatlal, Burlington, Reid and Taylor and Arvind Mills.

Participation from the design fraternity includes names like Madhu Jain, Paras and Shalini, Pooja Arya, Bela Sanghvi, Deepika Govind and Upasana Bhakuni. The event will also see participation from International designers like Chris de Verteuil and Hedi Hurban.


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