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Ganga water endangering lives
New Delhi, August 28
The level of pollution in the Ganga, the embodiment of religious faith for millions of Hindus, is so high that its contaminated water spells doom for hundreds of people every day.

Truckers’ strike hits industrialists hard 
Gurgaon, August 28
The truckers may have called off their strike, but the industrialists, especially the burgeoning class of exporters continue to be a wary lot and have urged the state and the Centre to prevent such hardships to them in future.

Councillors slugfest in budget meeting 
Ghaziabad, August 28
The development of Mahanagar has once again come to a standstill in view of the clash between the councillors in the Nagar Nigam’s important budget meeting.

Cricket takes precedence over hospital here!
Faridabad, August 28

The Haryana Government seems to be worried more about the cricket infrastructure than the state of its health services here. This has been noticed in the special financial help announced by the authorities recently.


EARLIER STORIES
 
NSUI candidates Amrita Dhawan for secretary, Narinder Tokas for president, Ashok Basoya for vice-president and Kapil Nagar for jt. secretary
(From right) NSUI candidates Amrita Dhawan for secretary, Narinder Tokas for president, Ashok Basoya for vice-president and Kapil Nagar for jt. secretary, during the release of the party manifesto at a press conference in the Capital on Saturday. — Tribune Photo by Mukesh Aggarwal 

Ashok Jain remanded in 14-day judicial custody
New Delhi, August 28
The Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee, MCD, Ashok Jain, who was arrested by the CBI on bribery charges, was today remanded by a city court in 14-day judicial custody. The Special Judge, Mrs Pratibha Rani, extended the period of judicial remand of Jain, saying the investigation was still in progress and material witnesses were yet to be examined.

Opening of Guru Granth Sahib Centre on Sept 2
New Delhi, August 28
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has postponed the inauguration by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of its multi-crore Guru Granth Sahib Research Centre to Thursday.

Admission racket busted, 3 held 
New Delhi, August 28
The Economic Offence Wing of the Delhi Police has busted a gang involved in an admission racket in engineering and medical colleges. The police have arrested three persons, identified as Subhashish, Shailesh Kumar and Adesh Tomer, in this connection and seized Rs 12.70 lakh from their possession.

3-year RI for MCD officer in bribery case
New Delhi, August 28
A Delhi court today sentenced a former MCD officer to rigorous imprisonment of three years and a fine of Rs 50,000 for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 for issuing a licence for a shop in 1995.

Holiday on Sept 1 in Capital 
New Delhi, August 28
September 1, which marks the 400th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib, will be a holiday in NCT of Delhi. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit made this announcement when a delegation of Sikhs called on her here today in connection with the anniversary celebrations.

Cultural dos mark Onam celebrations 
Noida, August 28
Onam is the only festival, celebrated by all Keralites irrespective of caste, creed or religion, and is a symbol of harmony and secularism. The Malayalees in Noida are going to celebrate 2004 Onam festival in a traditional way.

HCMSA meet on Sept 5
Faridabad, August 28
The annual convention of the Haryana Civil Medical Service Association (HCMSA) will be held in Chandigarh on September 5. According to the president of the association, Dr Ravinder Mathur, the issue of the revision of the Non-Practising Allowance (NPA) was likely to be discussed prominently by the members.

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Ganga water endangering lives
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The level of pollution in the Ganga, the embodiment of religious faith for millions of Hindus, is so high that its contaminated water spells doom for hundreds of people every day. Some experts claim that that the bacterial level in the Ganga is so high that every minute one person dies after drinking the contaminated water of the river basin.

Despite the multi-crore Ganga Action Plan, the level of fecal e-coli in the river, during certain months of the year, is found to be much above the acceptable limit. At times 47,000 times more than the permissible safety level for human beings.

It may be mentioned that the Central and the state governments, during the two phases of the plan, have spent crores of rupees to clean up the Ganga. The holy river, however, continues to be contaminated by raw sewage and industrial contaminants of as many as 103 cities in the country and the pollution is growing faster than the effort to clean it. The river, it may be mentioned, supports one twelfth of the world’s pollution, directly or indirectly.

Dr Veer Bhadra Mishra, who in 1982 brought together a group of like-minded Varanasi residents to launch the Sankat Mochan Foundation, and subsequently the Swatcha Ganga Abhiyaan says that all claims that the Ganga was now clean are just claims.

Speaking to The Tribune at a function for observing Clean Ganga Day yesterday, he said the Ganga Action Plan had failed miserably and the river was as contaminated it was before the launch of the plan.

The Government of India initiated the process of cleaning the Ganga in February 1985 and created the Central Ganga Authority, the Ganga Project Directorate and regional directorates and divisional task forces. Cleaning the Ganga at Varanasi was given the top priority and out of the total of Rs 400 crore spent on implementing the action plan between 1986 and 1993, a sum of Rs 50 crore was spent in Varanasi alone.

But much before the project acquired political hues, the Sankat Mochan Foundation had already started the work on cleaning the Ganga and creating awareness among people on the issue. For this, Dr Mishra also initiated several projects.

Recognising his efforts, the Time magazine acknowledged this hydraulics engineer of the Benaras Hindu University, calling him the Hero of the Planet. He now says that despite the Rs 462-crore Ganga Action Plan (Phase I) and Rs 809-crore Ganga Action Plan (Phase II), the river is as dirty as ever.

He said the way the Utter Pradesh Government had gone about the project, it had also resulted in contamination of the ground water in Varanasi.

The money for the real clean-up is there, appropriate technologies are available. Only a firm decision is required by the Union Government, he added.

With the help of scientists at the University of California, a biological clean-up plan involving advanced oxidation ponds, was evolved. TheVaranasi City Corporation also endorsed this non-electrical plan, which, however, was blocked by the state government, he said.

This, Dr Mishra said, was blatant usurpation of power by the Utter Pradesh Government and a clear violation of the 74th amendment to the Indian Constitution that grants municipalities the right to determine and implement their own environmental policies.

On the Clean Ganga Day, several functions were organised by the Swatcha Ganga Abhiyaan and the Sankat Mochan Foundation in cooperation with the Asia Foundation, San Fransisco, and the USAID’s United-Asia Environmental Partnership Programme at the US Embassy

US Deputy Chief of Mission Robert O. Blake also spoke on the occasion, urging the participants to learn from America’s struggle with similar environmental problems and save the Ganga.

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Truckers’ strike hits industrialists hard 
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, August 28
The truckers may have called off their strike, but the industrialists, especially the burgeoning class of exporters continue to be a wary lot and have urged the state and the Centre to prevent such hardships to them in future.

The cause for the apparent uneasiness among the industrialists is not far to seek. In the seven days of strike, the majority of the industrial units located here were affected. While transporting the goods to their destinations was out of question for large number of the units, storing them at safe places was even a bigger call due to lack of warehouses.

Many of the units do not have enough space on the factory premises to deal with such contingencies.

The president of the Gurgaon Industrial Association (GIA), Mr J.N.Mangla, said that the entire business circle of the units has been hit because of the strike. While some adverse effect is palpable in the immediate context, the losses would actually magnify as the days rolled by.

Although he criticised the strike, he urged upon the government to clearly define and rationalise the list of the target groups who could be levied with service tax.

In any case, the 10 per cent service tax was much on the higher side and the government must review the rate, he added

The president of the Gurgaon Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Mr Arun Jain, said that the strike has been called off as the appeal of the call was gradually waning at the local level. However, the loss to the industry has been apparent.

He lamented that at least three major units had to cut a sorry figure as their export orders were cancelled by the foreign buyers. The reason: they could not send their shipments on time. Besides, at this time of the year, the business activities at the domestic level pick up due to festive season. With the strike, the advance business commitments of the units have taken a beating and the industry will take about a month to get into the groove.

The GCCI has urged upon the government to create good warehouses to store the goods at the time of crisis. There are only few warehouses in the National Capital Region and Haryana. They are used for storing goods like cement.

Going by the mood in the industrial circle, the business-related lobbies and bodies are going to take up the issue in a big way in their next meetings.

The industry lament is that during such strikes, the payments from the buyers of goods are hard to come by, causing a shortage of money in the market. This also contributes largely in slowing down production.

The major demand of the industry is that the government should make provisions for soft loans to bail out the units.

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Councillors slugfest in budget meeting 
Our Correspondent

Ghaziabad, August 28
The development of Mahanagar has once again come to a standstill in view of the clash between the councillors in the Nagar Nigam’s important budget meeting.
No discussions on important projects could take place in the budget proposals or on any current problems.

The budget meeting had to be postponed following repeated clashes between the councillors on a number of issues and gherao of the City Muncipal Commissioner (Nagar Ayukt).

The budget session was called for August 27 in the boardroom of the Nagar Nigam after it was postponed on July 24. The approval of the proposed budget of over Rs 95.27 crore was to be sought for 2004-05.

This budget had already been approved by the working committee of the Nigam. But the atmosphere in the Nigam meeting, with the repeated clashes of councillors, became so vitiated that the budget meeting and the question hour had to be postponed.

At 11.45 am, councillors of the BJP, the Congress, the BSP and the Lok Dal had declared that the budget had been passed with discussion. But the Samajwadi Party and two Congress councillors opposed it tooth and nail.

The SP councillors said that despite the SP government in the state, there is no development work being done in these wards.

Sunil Chaudhry, M.F. Azad of Congress and Haji Khalil, Premchand Tyagi, Promode Tyagi, Raj Devi Chaudhry, Balbhadar Jha, Manoj K Kary and Sunil Gupta of Samajwadi Party, seriously objected to the budget being passed without discussion.

Two groups of slogan-shouting councillors–one supporting the budget approval without discussion and the other opposing it, then marched towards Municipal Commissioner and Mayor Dinesh Chand Gargi, raising slogans all the while. 

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Cricket takes precedence over hospital here!
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, August 28
The Haryana Government seems to be worried more about the cricket infrastructure than the state of its health services here. This has been noticed in the special financial help announced by the authorities recently.

According to the government announcement, the Nahar Singh Cricket Stadium will be getting funds of about Rs 1 crore while the Bhadshah Khan Civil Hospital, which is one of the largest government-run hospitals in the state, will be getting only Rs 65 lakh.

The financial aid had been announced by a senior government official in the ‘Sarkar Udhamiyon Ke Dwar’ programme, organised to redress the grievances of the industrialists, at the local Magpie Tourist Complex here, a few days ago, which was presided over by the Chief Minister himself. While the authorities claimed that the funds would be used to renovate the hospital building and the infrastructure at the cricket stadium, the heavier budget for cricket seems to have taken many by surprise.

Mr Karan Singh Dalal, MLA from Palwal, said this was indication of the ‘wayward’ policies of the government and a proof of how much it was concerned about the health of the common people.

Stating that though the promotion of sports was necessary for an all-round development, cricket was not the only game that required the government funds. There are many sports activities which should be encouraged and the budding sportsmen given necessary financial help, he said.

In the present context, he said it was certainly the health or the civil hospital that required more funds than the cricket stadium.

He said that the majority of the civil hospitals and dispensaries were suffering from the shortage of staff and medicines. Due to lack of medical facilities, the residents were fleeced at the private hospitals and clinics and many become victims of the quacks in the rural areas, he claimed.

Mr O.P Sharma, a resident of Sector-9 here, also claimed that the present status of the health and medical facilities provided by the government was very poor and needed more attention and help than any other issue.

The 200-bedded civil hospital here had been suffering from various problems. While the government is still to build two new multi-storeyed blocks to improve its infrastructure, the hospital is reported to be facing the shortage of staff.

Although the hospital has doctors as per the sanctioned strength, their number is about half of the present workload. Two to four doctors are away during the VIP visits or attending to the medico-legal cases.

According to sources, the hospital here had been facing a shortage of as many as 17 nurses. The laboratory and the pathological test facilities were normally available in the routine period and many of the patients were being asked to get the tests done at the private laboratories, during the odd hours. While cases of serious nature were being normally referred to Delhi hospitals, attendants of many patients prefer to shift them to other leading hospitals.

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Ashok Jain remanded in 14-day judicial custody
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee, MCD, Ashok Jain, who was arrested by the CBI on bribery charges, was today remanded by a city court in 14-day judicial custody. The Special Judge, Mrs Pratibha Rani, extended the period of judicial remand of Jain, saying the investigation was still in progress and material witnesses were yet to be examined.

The court also fixed September 1 for hearing the second bail plea of Jain, who was produced before it today. Yesterday, the court had issued production warrant to the jail superintendent after the jail authorities failed to produce Jain before it. The court had on August 13 remanded Jain to 14-day judicial custody, which expired yesterday.

On August 19, the court had rejected Jain’s bail plea saying the charges against him were serious and that the probe was at the initial stage. The CBI said Jain was arrested while he was accepting a bribe of Rs one lakh from a builder at his Sitaram Bazar office in the walled city on August 12. Jain allegedly demanded the money from the builder after he was awarded a contract to construct shops on MCD land.

However, the builder in turn informed CBI, which laid a trap and caught him while allegedly accepting the bribe.

The Standing Committee of MCD is the most powerful body within the Corporation as it is authorised to award contract of above Rs 10 lakh. Jain’s counsel C. B. Subhash had contended that the CBI had fabricated the case against Jain.

Need to recover outstanding dues on property tax stressed

The Leader of Opposition in the Standing Committee, MCD, Mr Vijender Gupta, in a letter written to the Municipal Commissioner, Rakesh Mehta, demanded that outstanding dues of the property tax be recovered so that the financial position of the civic body could be improved.

He said that Rs 4523 crore are outstanding as property tax dues from government, semi-government and private properties. Among the semi-government organisations include the DDA, Delhi Government, DVB, Delhi Jal Board, NDPL, BSES etc. He alleged that that owing to the inefficiency and lethargy of officers of the Property Tax Department, this huge outstanding amount could not be recovered and no action was taken against the erring officers. More than 3000 cases are pending in the various courts owing to ex-parte decision, even though the MCD has team of lawyers and law officers with it.

He further disclosed that a target of Rs 1,200 crore to be recovered as property tax was kept in the budget estimate for 2004-2005. As against this target, only Rs 76.57 crore had been recovered up to August 2004 as compared to Rs 104.14 crore recovered last year for the corresponding period.

He further said that a lot of misunderstanding was prevailing in the minds of the citizens with regard to the collection of property tax under the Unit Area Method, which needed to be clarified.

Education fair: The New Zealand High Commission will be organising a ‘New Zealand Education Fair’ in nine cities across the country from September 4 to 19. The Education Fair would provide information to Indian students to understand the various opportunities available in New Zealand, particularly in the field of higher education. 

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Opening of Guru Granth Sahib Centre on Sept 2
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has postponed the inauguration by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of its multi-crore Guru Granth Sahib Research Centre to Thursday.

“The Research Centre is located on the Gurdwara Rakab Ganj compound, the main focus of the September 1 celebrations in Delhi. Therefore, we have postponed its inauguration by the Prime Minister to September 2,” DSGMC chief Prehlad Singh Chandok said.

Cultural organisations too are busy preparing grand celebrations to mark the event. The International Council of Punjabis (ICP), which has earlier held Sikh religious camps at Paonta Sahib Gurdwara in Himachal Pradesh, has come out with CDs on the primary Sikh scripture.

Seminars, Gurbani (hymn-singing) programmes and lectures on the Guru Granth Sahib will continue to mark the year-long celebrations, ICP chief Manjit Singh, son of slain Akali leader Jathedar Santokh Singh, said.

The World Punjabi Organisation (WPO) will hold a world premier of a light-and-sound show titled Guru Manio Granth on September 1. WPO chief Vikramjit Singh Sahney said the show aimed to project to an international audience the “secular” message of the sacred text.

“Besides the Guru, the Guru Granth Sahib contains the writings of 29 Hindu and Muslim mystics. Our show will throw light on this universality of the message of God,” Mr Sahney added. The show, he said, would begin at the Siri Fort Auditorium at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

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Admission racket busted, 3 held 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
The Economic Offence Wing of the Delhi Police has busted a gang involved in an admission racket in engineering and medical colleges.
The police have arrested three persons, identified as Subhashish, Shailesh Kumar and Adesh Tomer, in this connection and seized Rs 12.70 lakh from their possession.

The police said that they had opened their offices in Rajendra Palace and Lajpat Nagar. The police said that they had collected money from a number of persons for arranging admissions to medical and engineering colleges.

The matter came to light when a resident of Punjab, Mr Ashok Goel, approached them after reading their advertisement in the newspaper in this regard. They demanded Rs 25 lakh from him for arranging the admission of his daughter in Master of Surgery course in Bangalore. They collected Rs 12 lakh as advance from him.

However, when his daughter did not get admission into the required course, he went to Bangalore to enquire about it.

To his shock, he found that the accused had not even deposited the admission form of his daughter. Subsequently, Ashok Goel approached the police, who registered a complaint against the accused.

Dreaded criminal held: The Special Cell of the Delhi Police apprehended Mahendra Pahalwan, a dreaded criminal active in Delhi and Haryana. He was one of the most wanted criminals. A reward of Rs 50,000 had been declared for his arrest by the Delhi Police. He was a well-known criminal of the Adarsh Nagar police station area.

The police seized a Chinese pistol from his possession. One police constable, identified as Ravinder, was injured while arresting him.

Mahendra was allegedly involved in more than 13 cases of murder, loot, and extortion. According to police sources, Mahender was on the lookout for an opportune time to surrender before the police, as he feared for his life. The police said that he was allegedly involved in extortion of money from cable operators.

He allegedly killed his associate, identified as Ajay, in Jahangirpuri area in 2001, the police said.

Youth arrested for stabbing: The South district police have arrested a person, identified as Rakesh, for stabbing and injuring a Manipuri student, Denchip. The police said that Rakesh was upset after Denchip had called him Bihari in a party and decided to teach him a lesson.

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3-year RI for MCD officer in bribery case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
A Delhi court today sentenced a former MCD officer to rigorous imprisonment of three years and a fine of Rs 50,000 for demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 for issuing a licence for a shop in 1995.

The Special Judge, Mrs Pratibha Rani, imposed a fine of Rs 50,000 on Vinod Kalra, then posted as Health Inspector at Rajouri Garden, who was apprehended by the CBI while accepting the bribe at his office from Anil Kumar Meena on March 13, 1995.

Refusing leniency while pronouncing the sentence, the judge said, “Such type of persons are a slur on the face of civic agency like the MCD and have to be dealt with strictly.”

According to the CBI, the accused had demanded money for granting licence for a tailoring shop to the complainant. It was alleged that Kalra “sat over the file” in order to extract the bribe.

The CBI laid a trap on a complaint by Meena and arrested Kalra while accepting Rs 2,000 in 1995. The court had framed charges against the accused in September 1997.

The prosecution examined nine witnesses and two witnesses were produced by Kalra in defence.

Community halls inaugurated: The Delhi Chief Minister, Mrs Sheila Dikshit, today inaugurated community halls in Dilshad Garden and Shastri Park in Trans-Yamuna area. Inaugurating the community halls, the Chief Minister emphasised the need for co-ordination among the Parliamentarians, MLAs, Corporators and government officials for the success of development works.

She disclosed that ultramodern technology would be used to speed up development works in the Capital.

Among those present on the occasion included Member of Parliament, Mr Sandeep Dikshit, the Mayor, Mr A. R. Verma, Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Trans-Yamuna Development Board, Dr Narender Nath and Mr Abjeet Singh Gulati respectively.

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Holiday on Sept 1 in Capital 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
September 1, which marks the 400th anniversary of the Guru Granth Sahib, will be a holiday in NCT of Delhi. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit made this announcement when a delegation of Sikhs called on her here today in connection with the anniversary celebrations.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is visiting Punjab on August 31 to take part in the anniversary celebrations which begin on that day.

Guru Granth Sahib was compiled by the fifth Sikh guru, Arjun Dev, who installed it in the Golden Temple in 1604. It was completed by the 10th and last guru, Guru Gobind Singh, who decreed that there would be no Sikh leader after him and the Granth would serve as a guru for the community.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit has released a book titled Didar Sri Guru Granth Sahib as part of the quadricentennial of the primary Sikh scripture. 

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Cultural dos mark Onam celebrations 
Our Correspondent

Noida, August 28
Onam is the only festival, celebrated by all Keralites irrespective of caste, creed or religion, and is a symbol of harmony and secularism.
The Malayalees in Noida are going to celebrate 2004 Onam festival in a traditional way.

People participate in a weeklong celebrations by giving traditional touch through conducting sports, painting competitions, cultural activities and family get-together.

The programme, being specially organised in Noida, will conclude with a family get-together and by serving of traditional meal having more than 21 items on plantern leaves (Onam Sadhya) on August 29 at Sector 12 Community Centre, Noida.

According to Rajan Varghese, general secretary, Malayalee Association, Noida, there are beautiful stories woven around this festival.

The first to find mention in Onam-related legends is that of King Mahabali. 

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HCMSA meet on Sept 5
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, August 28
The annual convention of the Haryana Civil Medical Service Association (HCMSA) will be held in Chandigarh on September 5.
According to the president of the association, Dr Ravinder Mathur, the issue of the revision of the Non-Practising Allowance (NPA) was likely to be discussed prominently by the members.

 He said the main demand of the HCMSA was the revision of the NPA at par with the Central Government norms. Claiming that the Chief Minister had accepted the demand at a meeting of the association held at Rohtak about five years ago, but said that it was still to be implemented. 

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