Panipat loom workers in a bind as debt mounts
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Panipat, June 21
Photographs mounted on the wall show dyeing mill owner Yashpal Malik with Haryana labour minister Birender Singh in plush settings on multiple occasions. But the pictures reveal little about Panipat’s under-belly swarming with illegal factories clacking day and night their exploitative machines to churn out hundreds of tonnes of coarse textile products.

“Women labourers are always paid less”, confided a local factory owner. With a twinkle in his eye, he requested not to mention this fact in print.

The villas of factory owners located opposite the Model Town area of the city present an aristocratic look. However, the slums of labourers tell another story. It is the story of a charming people struggling for a decent life.

In the well-lit small room of Pushpa everything is kept spic and span. It was time for the evening meal and the utensils were gleaming under Pushpa’s care. Five adults, including four who work in various factories, and three children supposedly live in the room. In the summer the family mostly sleeps outside. A family-size colour TV set was on and the members were having a quiet meal in the courtyard shared by them with two other families. Pushpa said she used to earn Rs 1,000 a month from her job on the winding machine in a powerloom factory. It entailed long hours of work and she left it to devote time to the family consisting of her children, husband, two brothers and husband’s father.

“With our poverty we only suffer if there is an agitation demanding better remuneration”, Pushpa said grudgingly, unmindful of the presence of trade union activist P. P. Kapoor sitting close by.

The “piece system”, “advance” and a government law banning surprise raids by labour inspectors on factories are most frequently heard in conversations with labourers in connection with their problems.

Under the “piece system” a labourer is paid according to the volume of his work. In the powerloom factories of Panipat, a labourer is made to work for 16 hours a day for earning Rs 3,500 a month in accordance with the exacting nature of the contract. “ Advance” (cash advance) is in vogue in pit loom factories where time-bound deliveries entail keeping the labourers under tight control. The advanced amount, ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 3,500, is deducted from the wages. Stories of hard-pressed labourers getting “trapped” by the burden of advance are not uncommon.

The law on factory inspection, passed by the present government, clearly shows which way the government is heading with regard to the condition of labourers.

Kapoor, Haryana convener of the Indian federation of trade unions, said the government had also put a blanket ban on gatherings by workers ever since an agitation rocked the city last year. Kapoor, who was kept in prison for two months in the aftermath of the agitation, reported that they were denied permission to assemble on the occasion of May Day.

The system of hiring labourers through a contractor is considered a shield by the factory owners against any charge of stretching the working hours of a labourer. Violation of the laws like the ones relating to the location of factories, safety norms, underage workers and care of the infants of women labourers do not bother the owners at all and they make no attempt to cover up their trails in these respects.

Malik, chairman of the federation of small-scale industries association, admits that 80 per cent of Panipat’s textile industry is located in residential areas. He claims the illegal status of the industry is not conducive to the proper implementation of labour laws. With regard to the government’s announcement on increasing the minimum wage for a skilled labourer to Rs 3,500 per month, Malik said he would not mind even if it was Rs 5,000 per month provided that other states also fixed the same wage.

“Work is getting diverted to UP factories because those can offer a better price for their low labour costs”, Malik said. Rajinder Goyal, owner of a yarn-producing factory, said blankets manufactured in China were having a disastrous effect on the Panipat textile industry.

The difference between Malik and Goyal, factory owners, and Surat Ram, pit loom worker- turned-rickshaw puller, or Vidya, who rips off threads from the edge of finished blankets and makes less than Rs 1,000 a month, is the labourers’ inability to influence the government. In the absence of any clout, the labourers are ignored by the state apparatus and left at the mercy of unscrupulous employers.



Govt schools that do not deliver
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
There are 93 schools in the state that have recorded zero pass percentage and another 56 have had under 10 per cent pass percentage in the middle, secondary and senior secondary classes.

Educational reforms in the state have revealed that all is not well with primary education. Even as the introduction of semester system has improved results and increased attendance, data tabulated by the Haryana School Education Board (HSEB) has revealed shocking facts.

In a bid to check this rot and fix responsibility, the board has issued show-cause notices to the headmasters or the senior most teachers in charge of these schools to explain the dismal performance. The board has initiated a process to fix responsibility and wherever an erring official can be pointed out, the board proposes to penalise such persons by ordering their transfer or stopping financial increments.

“We have sent notices to all such principals/teachers found wanting, asking them to explain reasons for poor results in their subjects as well as overall performance of the school. The data tabulated by the board indicates that these schools are spread across the state in all the districts, located in rural or semi-urban areas”, R.S. Gujral, financial commissioner and principal secretary education told The Tribune at a conference for highlighting the impact of semester system on school education.

Among the middle, secondary and senior secondary results, the middle results are the worst. In this examination, in 50 schools all students have failed, recording zero pass percentage. In another 13 schools, less than 5 per cent students passed and in yet another 37 only 10 per cent students have passed. A simple glance at these results shows that a majority of these schools are in Bhiwani, Faridabad and Mewat districts.

The secondary examination results are a shade better than the middle exams. There are 28 schools where all students have failed. The worst results are from Government High School, Rewari Khera, and Gayatri Vidya Mandir High School, Kadma, both in Bhiwani districts, where 121 and 87 students appeared for the examination, respectively, but none could pass. At Government High School, Sitawali in Sonepat, four out of 38 students managed to pass, making it the only school in the category with 10 per cent pass percentage. Bhiwani, Faridabad, Ambala and Sonepat districts lead the list of failures.

In the next higher examination i.e. senior secondary examination, there are 15 schools that have recorded all failures. These include schools in semi-rural areas of Gurgaon and Faridabad. All 23 students of Arya Senior Secondary School, Kath Mandi, Sonepat, failed so did the 18 students of R.P.S. Senior Secondary School, Daulatabad in Gurgaon district. The “hall of shame” is spread across Jhajhar, Mewat, Bhiwani and Yamunanagar where only one student each could pass from the entire class in government schools.

“It is not something new, the results have been worse during the past years. It is due to the educational reforms introduced in schools of Haryana that these results have been highlighted and corrective action is being taken. Introduction of semester system in schools and the appointment of guest faculty to overcome staff shortage has actually shown improved results, especially in government schools”, a board official said.



Brisk business for bride brokers
Sushil Manav

Fatehabad, June 21
Balwant is the youngest among the three sons of Hazari Singh, a marginal farmer who owns about 12 acres of land in a village near Fatehabad.

Hazari Singh married his two elder sons to two sisters from a village near Bhattu Kalan town of this district. But he could get brides only after he agreed to marry off his own daughter and a niece to two cousins of his sons’ brides.

Balwant was crossing marriageable age and much to the disappointment of Hazari Singh no matrimonial offers were forthcoming.

When bachelorhood stared at the face of his son, who attained the age of 28 last year, Hazari Singh decided to procure a wife for his son.

He contacted a “broker” and struck a deal for getting a bride for his son from Bihar for Rs 60,000.

Pooja (19) is now married to Balwant for the past 16 months and the couple has a son as well. But the marriage has not provided Pooja the status that the wives of Balwant's two elder brothers enjoy.

She seldom dares to goes out of her residence as the village womenfolk look down upon her.

Initially, her condition in her marital home was also miserable, as she was forced to live in a kuchha room near the cowshed.

It is only after she gave birth to a son the treatment gets better, but she is still treated as second-grade wife.

Those marrying these women are also scornfully treated by the society and sometimes by the family members too and are addressed as “mulinders” (husband of purchased wife).

Pooja’s is not an isolated case. The declining sex ratio in the state has forced hundreds of youths to “buy” a bride for them.

Scores of such couples could be found in villages like Bighar, Ahlisadar, Dariyapur, Karnoli, Dulet, Bothan of the district.

The girls are from states like Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and belong to the lower strata of the society. In some cases, even Bangladeshi girls have found their way to Haryanvi families through such marriage alliances.

Initially, when this practice began about two decades ago, it was seen with disdain but this has off late been gaining some iota of acceptance by the rural society, though by social compulsions rather by choice.

The practice has led to the mushrooming of “brokers” in the area. A new way of duping people by selling brides and then the bride running away within days of the marriage had surfaced in the district last year. Over a dozen families have fallen prey to this malpractice.

On the contrary, there are cases where some women purchased for marriage have been resold after their husbands did not find them suitable.

In some cases, the elder brothers have been found forcefully sharing the purchased wife of their younger brother for satisfying their sexual urge on the plea that when investment on her has come from the joint funds they have an equal right over her.

Some observers feel that the phenomenon will go a long way in eliminating the menace of dowry and also help in changing the mindset of the people, which was severely caste-ridden.

Subhash Sharma, a retired college principal, feels that whatever the compulsion, the phenomenon is definitely a big sociological development in the state where the society has been insular, rigid and follows a code based on caste and community.

“It is loosening of the grip of communal rigidity over the Haryanvi society,” he adds. He feels that once a man and a woman are tied in a marital bond, adaptability and adjustments come on their own.

The All-India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) has recently conducted a survey on the plight of women bought for marriages in this part of the state.

Jagmati Sangwan, state president of the AIDWA, says the practice of purchasing wives has emerged so strong that her organisation found 10 or more such women in almost all villages where the survey was conducted.

Sangwan feels that such women are considered second grade citizens in their homes due to a wide cultural gap. These women virtually live a life of cultural isolation, she says.

In some cases, says the AIDWA activist, procured wives are being forced to satisfy the carnal desires of unmarried members of the family besides the person to whom she is married.

The AIDWA has taken up the issue with administration, demanding registration of all such marriages after their proper identification.



Inside Babudom
Will another woman be next chief secy?
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Will another woman head the Haryana babudom after the retirement of chief secretary Prem Prashant? Though Prem Prashant has over two months to go, the debate on merits and demerits of his possible successor has already started in the state's bureaucracy.

The political leadership, read Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, is still to apply its mind on the possible successor of Prem Prashant as it is grappling with the more immediate issue of administrative reshuffle at the senior level as part of its mid-term appraisal of the government's functioning.

Ms Deepa Jain Singh of the 1971 batch, at present on deputation with the Union Government, is next in line to Prem Prashant. If she is elevated as chief secretary, she will get a term of 11 months. Hooda, who is generally averse to violate the principle of seniority, had recalled Meenaxi Anand Chaudhry after the retirement of G. Madhvan to be made the first woman chief secretary of Haryana. If Hooda sticks to the seniority principle, Deepa Jain Singh will in all probability succeed Prem Prashant. However, Hooda has deviated from the principle of seniority in the past "for the sake of stability", when Prem Prashant was promoted ahead of K.C. Sharma and Ms Asha Sharma. Even R.S. Dalal was made the Director-General of Police ignoring Vikas.

There is another woman officer, Promilla Issar, who is also in the zone of consideration. Her husband, Ranjit Issar, who, like her, belongs to the 1972 batch. If Hooda picks up an officer of the 1972 batch, Issars will have a strong competition from Pradeep Kumar, who is at present chairman of the National Highways Authority of India. Ranjit too is on deputation with the Union Government. Promilla is the financial commissioner, revenue, in the state. Another officer of this batch is Pius Panderwani, whose chances as the next chief secretary do not seem to be too bright.

Informed sources say officers of the 1973 batch can also be considered by the Chief Minister for promotion as chief secretary. At present only one officer, Dharamvir, is in the state. The others, Anil Razdan, H.S. Anand and Rajni Razdan, are on deputation with the Union Government. While Anil is the power secretary, considered to be a prestigious post, Anand is secretary, urban poverty alleviation department. Rajni is secretary, administrative reforms.



Commuting through commotion
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service

Panipat, June 21
The construction of the ongoing elevated highway project at Panipat has become a nightmare for the NH-1 users. In the absence of any alternative route, the 10-km long stretch passing through township is not equipped to ease out the vehicular blockade.

Owing to the inadequate arrangements to tackle the heavy traffic, jams of longer duration on this stretch have become a routine.

Inquiries made by The Tribune revealed that the authorities had completely overlooked the construction of an alternative route to curb the traffic nuisance.

Terming it as a blunder, official sources admit that by not making way for a second road it has become a massive problem on the GT Road.

Heavy and light vehicular traffic from Rohtak, Assandh and parts of UP also enters the town.

“Earlier, there was a proposal for an alternative route, but the same was shelved for unspecified reasons,” said a senior functionary. Sources admit that the ambitious project lacked the vision of smooth flow of traffic.

The 10-km long highway at Panipat includes a 3.4-km elevated stretch over the city. The Rs 325-crore state-of-the-art highway is being executed by L&T Panipat Elevated Corridor Pvt Ltd with a grant of Rs 96.4 crore on the built-operate-transfer (BOT) basis.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone of the six-lane highway project on April 6, 2006. The project is scheduled to be ready by April next year.

Despite deputing district police officials to manage the traffic, there is no improvement in the situation.

In case of any eventuality, the stretch could prove a major hurdle. “There should have been more than two alternative routes to divert the traffic on both sides of the NH. But no such measures were taken by the authorities,” said an official.

Deputy commissioner Rajiv Ranjan claimed that the Israna-Matlauda-Assandh could be used in case of any emergency. He said besides 150 district policemen, L&T has also deputed marshals to man the traffic. Regular monitoring and meetings were being conducted with the company to oversee the progress and difficulties in the project, he added.

An official said bus stand had proved to be a major bottleneck. The authorities should have shifted the bus stand to some other alternate site on temporary basis.

“Instead of entering the bus stand buses remained parked on the GT Road most of the times. This certainly leads to serious highway congestion,” said a source.



Parking woes in city of malls
Price Gurgaon has to pay for haphazard growth
Ravi S. Singh
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, June 21
Plush malls have indeed added to the charm of Gurgaon, but the lack of planning has given rise to the parking and traffic problem for the public.

The problem is acute on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon (MG Raod), 2 km from the IFCO chowk. There are about half a dozen malls operational on this stretch.

The problem stands out even as notable builders like DLF, MG, and Sahara group have constructed malls on this stretch, which is clogged with traffic most of the time due to the lack of parking space.

On account of the lack of proper traffic management by the authorities that commuters choose wrong sides and make crossovers at improper places, adding to the chaos on the road.

Also, the visitors park their vehicles at improper places as they find it convenient to negotiate the road and reach their destinations on foot on account of traffic jam.

The approval for the construction of malls are sanctioned by the Town and Country Planning Department only after the project fulfill all essential parameters, including parking slots.

Head of the District Town and Country Planning Madhusmita Moita says when the projects are sanctioned several parameters like parking slots based on certain existing situations and future projections. The future projections, however, seem to be insufficient on account of the unprecedented rush.

Ram Lal, who owns a retail shop in one of the malls set up by DLF, also feels that the parking slots are now proving to be insufficient. A resident of Beverly Park, a luxurious condominium set up by DLF on the MG road, feels that the builders and the government were quick in aping the developed countries in promoting the mall culture without deliberating on the urban development planning.

The ground reality is that there is a provision for multiple parking in the malls. But they remain crowded. In addition to this, it is the lack of civic sense of the visitors who violate the rules for their own convenience.

HUDA has recently developed service roads along the MG road. This was done to remove congestion on the main road. But this would not help much as the chances of illegal parking have been reduced without creating additional space for parking.

There are about a dozen malls functional in this city and three more are expected to start operations. About eight other malls have been sanctioned for this city. The wide-ranging view is that the government must take preparatory actions as part of future planning regarding problems that may aggravate in coming years.



A bumpy ride through colonies
Rahul Das
Tribune News Service

Ambala, June 21
Ambala City and Ambala Cantt face a dichotomy with regard to the condition of roads as the highways passing through the areas are well-maintained while the same cannot be said about roads inside some of the residential colonies.

For a traveller going from Chandigarh to Delhi, the ride through Ambala is smooth due to the well-maintained national highway no.1. Also, the highways connecting Ambala to Jagadhri and Hisar undergo regular maintenance.

However, a ride through some colonies in the Mahesh Nagar area in Ambala Cantt is a bumpy one due to the poor condition of roads. There are potholes at several places and even when there are light showers, roads get flooded. As a matter of fact, right in front of the civil hospital, Ambala cantt, the road is in urgent need of patchwork.

The poor roads in several residential colonies had become a major issue a few months ago when Ambala Cantt MLA D.K. Bansal had questioned the quality of road construction. Bansal had even referred the matter to the vigilance department following which samples were collected.

Bansal said he had sought action as the construction work was of questionable quality. "I had acted on complaints to ensure that people got good quality roads," he said.



HAU sets sights on another green revolution
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, June 21
Haryana Agricultural University (HAU) has identified both short-term and long-term measures to realise the dream of a second green revolution.

As part of its long-term plans, scientists have suggested the optimisation of production in rain-fed and under-exploited areas, improvement in delivery and distribution efficiency of irrigation water, increase in the intensity of fertiliser use, precision agriculture, improvement of technological inputs and addressing several socio-economic issues as the main areas of thrust.

So far as the short-term plans are concerned, the university is working closely with the state agriculture department for checking decline in the production of wheat as an immediate measure. The university has blamed delayed sowing, use of substandard or spurious inputs, erratic rains, shortfall in irrigation water, non-adoption of recommended packages of practices by farmers and improper use of fertilisers for the decline in wheat production during the past three years.

The vice-chancellor, Dr J.C. Katyal, has published a paper in which he points out that the application and adoption of technological inputs has been tardy and technological inputs have failed to keep pace with the needs of sustainability. This is evident from the fact that there are wide gaps between potential yields of various crop varieties obtained by scientists and farmers. He suggested that new know how needs to be developed both for dry land and rain-fed farming as a long-term measure to ensure agricultural growth.

Dr Katyal says the seed replacement rate at the farmer level is below 10 per cent against the desired rate of 20 per cent. In the case of hybrids, the rate is still 40 per cent against the desired rate of 100 per cent. The availability of site-specific seed also needs to be ensured.

The paper points out that the intensity of fertiliser use has been low, resulting in poor yields. The farmers need to shift to costlier but efficient methods of application of fertilisers and water. The present method of fertiliser broadcast and flooding is cheap but inefficient. Besides, micronutrient management techniques have to be developed.

The paper says irrigation water delivery and distribution need to be more efficient. The flood irrigation method leads to wastage of water to the tune of 50 per cent. Canal systems must be maintained and new soil and crop management techniques have to be developed that save water and improve production. It says the new technology development will call for far more strenuous efforts by researchers to reach the level of technology impact seen in the seventies and eighties.

Dr Katyal says precision farming will be the key to agricultural growth in the future. Timely sowing and precise management of other farming operations thereafter will increase production and save costs.

Finally, socio-economic issues have to be addressed. Since small and marginal farmers lease in and lease out often, amendments are needed in leasing laws so that lessor faces less cumbrances when evicting the lessee. So far as short-term plans are concerned, the university scientists are working in close collaboration with the government. Dr R.S. Dalal, registrar, says the university has launched a massive campaign to convince farmers to sow wheat in time because delayed sowing has a direct impact on output.

Besides, the scientists are regularly visiting villages to apprise farmers of the proper crop varieties they need to use. The varsity has also launched campaigns to enlighten farmers about the necessity of using proper quantity of seed so that optimum plant population is maintained in the fields.



On the right course
KU targets emerging career fields
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service


  • B.Tech. (Mechanical Engineering)
  • M.Tech. (Image and Speech Processing)
  • M.Sc. (Electronic Media)
  • M.Pharma. (Pharmaceutical Science and Management)
  • M.Phil. (Economics and Computer Science)
  • MBA (Service Management)
  • PG diplomas in fish farming technology, forensic science, web media, internet journalism, floriculture and banking & finance
  • One-year diploma in management of development and welfare services

Kurukshetra, June 21
From the coming academic session of 2007-08, Kurukshetra University is all set to experiment several new programmes, with the introduction of a mixed bag of 15 new job-oriented courses, including two M.Phil. programmes.

Aimed at providing new dimensions to the education, academicians on the campus expect an overwhelming response from the students.

Vice-chancellor Dr Ram Phal Hooda says the university is committed to provide quality education and it is a high time to focus on job-oriented courses. Keeping in mind the changing trends, the university has introduced PG diplomas in subjects like fish farming technology, internet journalism and floriculture, he adds.

It is felt that such job-oriented programmes would bring tremendous response from the students. The university also claims to provide the high-end theoretical and practical training to the aspirants.

Dr Hooda says on the basis of market research the heads of various departments have recommended the new courses.

“With the successful advent of ‘blue revolution’ in the state, the youth seems to be keen to know on fish farming. It is indeed an interesting subject and the university is interested to provide job-oriented course on the same,” the VC says.

The university authorities feel that another course on floriculture would also have many takers.

“In the absence of any encouraging force floriculture has failed to pick up at the desired pace. But keeping in view the scope we have decided to introduce a course on the subject,” Dr Hooda says.

Also, there is an immense scope in banking and finance. With the introduction of three courses i.e. electronic media, web media and internet journalism, the university has laid special stress on the newly constituted Institute of Mass Communications.

“In the recent times the media has witnessed a major change in its working. With the sector offering more specialised job opportunities, there is an immense demand for such courses,” he says.

The university is also keen to popularise life sciences. “We will focus on the ongoing subjects like Geo-Physics and Geology,” he says, adding that special thrust would be to encourage the teachers and students for research works.

“We have committed to provide the-state-of-the-art laboratories in various departments,” says the VC.



Bhiwani’s meritorious owe it to train, terrain
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bhiwani, June 21
Meritorious students from this economically and industrially backward district are virtually riding a train to success. Thanks to the town’s rail link to Delhi, established during Bansi Lal’s tenure as the union railway minister, local students are storming their way to the country’s premier educational institutions.

Convenient train timings enable local students to travel to Delhi on weekends to attend coaching classes and return home on Sunday evenings.

But for the train, most of the local students would not be able to take coaching classes. The fare is a pittance compared to the cost of staying in Delhi. Hundreds of students take these trains every week and the results are showing.

Besides train, it is the hard terrain of the district that forces students to look up for career opportunities beyond agriculture.

This year four students from the town figured among the first 55 ranks in the PMT examination conducted by the CBSE. They are: Aditya Gulia, Himanshu, Lakshay and Prateek, who bagged 6th, 11th, 24th and 55th ranks, respectively. Himanshu has scored a double as he has also qualified for IIT. Aditya Gulia was also placed fourth in the Delhi PMT and first in the Wardha Medical College entrance test.

Students from nearby small towns are also doing well. Around 10 students made it to medical colleges from Charkhi Dadri alone. Vivek Kumar of Tosham has made it to the IIT. As many as six local students have qualified for admission to Rohtak Medical College through Haryana PMT. Three of them, Amit Garg, Puneet Kamra and Azad Singh, figure among the top-rankers.

Another son of the soil, Arvind Rana, has qualified for admission to the IIT. Several other boys, too, have secured good ranks in the AIEEE.

Interestingly, besides the train facility, students and their parents attribute these spectacular successes to their adversities. Arvind’s father Ramphal Rana said: “Our children realise from their childhood that if they don’t study hard, they will starve. We do not have the money to set up even small businesses. The lands are just sand dunes. There is no industry. The poverty that strikes them in the face drives them.” Ramphal Rana is an employee of the telecom department. His wife is a teacher.

“It’s the train and the terrain. If the terrain were not that hard, we might have other means to make a living. But as it is we have only one choice, study and make it to the top. The train, of course, is the means for us. We ride it for success”, says Arvind, who is in his hometown for a few days after admission to the IIT, Ahmedabad.

Many reputed coaching institutes from Delhi have now set up branches in Rohtak. Besides the train to Delhi, students are chartering private buses every weekend to Rohtak for coaching classes.



Water woes in Ambala
Canal project behind schedule
Rahul Das
Tribune News Service

Ambala, June 21
The ambitious project of canal-based water system for Ambala Cantt is running behind schedule. The project when completed is expected to quench thirst of the entire area.

Under the project, water will be brought from Jansui Head in the Naggal area. Once canal water reaches Ambala, there will be infrequent requirement for deep-bore tubewells to meet the water requirement of the area.

Under this system, water will be sent from Jansui Head to Addomajra where booster pumps will forward the water to Ghasitpur. At Ghasitpur, the water will be treated and made fit for use. Thereafter, it will be forwarded for storage to 12 Cross Road in Ambala Sadar. From the storage tanks, water will be further supplied to different residential colonies.

XEN public health M.K. Bansal says the work is in progress for the canal water system. “There are a few bottlenecks which are being addressed. The canal line has to pass under the Ambala-Delhi railway mainline as well as Ambala-Saharanpur railway line. For that a sum of Rs 2.31 crore has been allocated to the Railways with a timeframe of six months for completion”.

Bansal says there are certain issues related to HUDA land and those issues are being resolved at the highest level. Water will travel a distance of 22 km from Jansui Head to Ambala Cantt. The distance from Jansui Head to Addomajra is 4 km, thereafter it is 14 km to Ghasitpur and further 3.5 km to 12 Cross Road in Ambala Cantt.

Former Ambala Cantt MLA Anil Vij states the canal-based water system was first conceptualised during the Bansi Lal regime. “It is perhaps for the first time that water will be supplied to a town through pipes instead of the open canals. The work was taken up during the tenure of former Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala,” he says.

A thorough study was carried out before the project was approved. “The plan is that water must reach the tail-end which means that all houses in the area must get water. As a matter of fact, calculations carried out during the study period showed that water will have enough force to reach a height of 60 ft in Ambala Cantt. That meant that there will be no need to use pumps in each house to suck in the water,” he adds.

Vij says even when land was being acquired for the project, it was kept in mind that there may be a further requirement of water in the future. Hence, double the immediate requirement of land was acquired so that a second line can also be placed, id needed.

Members of the Green Circle, an NGO, demand that the project must be completed at the earliest. They say the residents would not have faced water scarcity if the system had been made operational on time. They point out that the fast depleting water table of Ambala Cantt due to the extensive use of tubewells would stop once the canal water reaches here.



Development Projects
Slow progress irks Rohtak residents
Sunit Dhawan
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, June 21
As soon as the name of Rohtak MP Bhupinder Singh Hooda was cleared for the post of Haryana Chief Minister, elated residents of his hometown pinned high hopes on their leader. Their expectations further soared when Hooda’s son Deepender was elected MP from the Rohtak parliamentary constituency in his father’s place.

Living up to the high hopes and expectations of their electors and sympathisers, the father-son duo got a considerable number of development projects sanctioned for their hometown.

As work on these projects started, the local residents were hopeful that the town would good roads and sewerage, regular supply of electricity and potable water, besides getting rid of its perennial problem of water accumulation in the low-lying areas, in all, a quality life.

However, for nearly two years now, the residents have been facing what can be called “side effects” of the development. While several projects have been accomplished, much remains to be done.

The slow pace at which these projects are being executed has annoyed the residents in general and traders and commuters in particular.

With many roads of the town, including the main Delhi-Hisar road, still remaining uneven, potholed and covered with dust due to the ongoing projects, the hapless residents do not know for how long they will have to wait for these projects to be completed.

The under-construction railway over-bridges in Kathmandi, on Bhiwani road and near Jind bypass have had an adverse impact on the traders of these areas, besides causing inconvenience to the commuters.

“In the beginning, it seemed that the town would get a facelift with the development works getting over in a year or two. However, after more than two years of starting these works, most still remain unfinished,” says a medicine retailer.

Inquiries made by The Tribune revealed that instead of giving the projects to some organised workforce or established construction company, these were handed over to small-time contractors with little experience or expertise required for tackling such huge tasks.

The lack of coordination between various government departments and agencies is another reason for the delay.

Though the residents believe that the ongoing projects are aimed at giving a new look to the town, their patience seems to be running out with the passage of time.



Superspecialised evening hospital in Panchkula
Pilot project awaits nod
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, June 21
As a first step towards the corporatisation of health services, the Haryana Health Department has mooted an evening hospital offering specialist and superspecialist services at a nominal charge. The general hospital, Sector 6, here has been identified as a launch pad for this pilot project in Haryana and is awaiting the government’s approval.

Sources in the Health Department said the project envisaged providing these services free of cost to BPL families and attracting patients visiting private practitioners. For the doctors, it offers monetary incentives in terms of a cut per patient, and it will also discourage private practice by offering them use of hospital infrastructure.

The idea is also to optimise utilisation of existing infrastructure and provide improved health services at a cost less than that of the private enterprises in the health sector.

It will come up in phases and spread gradually to other hospitals at the district level and the community health centres. The department has identified six specialisations in addition to radiology and laboratory facilities. While specialist services will be available for two hours from Monday to Saturday, superspecialists, including cardiologists, neurologists and others, will be roped in for the project by the civil surgeon and these services will be available on Monday and Thursday only for the same duration. The blueprint for the plan mentions specialists of the hospital will preferably be available in the evening. In case the staff strength is inadequate or the doctors are not willing, the civil surgeon will go for a private practitioner. The supporting staff, too, will be from the hospital and in case of nonavailability these, of private hands will be hired.

A new patient seeking specialists’ consultation will be required to pay Rs 100 for getting a file made while Rs 300 would be the first time consultation fee for any patient. He will be charged Rs 50 for subsequent consultation in that week. For investigations, including X-ray, ultrasound and CT scan, the patient will only have to give an additional Rs 50 over and above the existing daytime charges as consultation fee of the doctor. In the bifurcation of the funds collected, the superspecialist would be entitled to Rs 250 per patient while specialist will get Rs 50, Rs 15 would go to the hospital fund and the remaining will be distributed among the supporting staff. However, all minor OPD procedures will cost Rs 500 of which Rs 50 will go to the staff, Rs 75 to hospital kitty and Rs 375 to the specialist. However, patients from BPL families will be exempted from payment.



Youth more prone to drug abuse than ever
Sushil Manav
Our Correspondent

Fatehabad, June 21
Angrez Singh (25), a resident of a small hamlet near Jakhal town of this district, remembers the day when he took his first dose of poppy husk just for the sake of fun at the age of 17.

Working as a truck cleaner, he did not know that the small pack of crushed herb would change his life for worse. The contraband has become a necessity for him now and he takes two doses of it a day.

Parents chose his name for his western looks and his appearances improved further as he entered his teens. But now there is a considerable decline in his health and he looks much older than his age.

His body starts aching the moment time for his daily dose of the drug draws near. He has to spend a big chunk of his income on it at the expense of food and other necessities for his family.

No wonder his wife Nirmal and two-years-old daughter Dolly are leading a miserable life.

Angrez Singh’s is not an isolated case of a youth falling prey to drug addiction in villages adjoining Punjab in the Jakhal and Rattia areas of this district.

Hundreds of persons, including farmers, truck drivers, labourers and students, find themselves trapped in drug addiction and are unable to find a way to come out of it. Easy supply of opium and poppy husk in the area is driving many more towards the menace.

Poppy husk, being the most popular narcotic among the addicts, has been finding its way to this area from neighbouring Rajasthan.

The reason of the popularity of poppy husk among the addicts is it’s being the cheapest among all narcotics.

Poppy husk is crushed powder of dried poppy plants from which pure opium has already been extracted. The addicts find it easy to administer. They take it by simply dissolving it in lukewarm water or in a cup of tea. Besides this, it is very difficult to detect its transportation.

The police is able to nab traffickers only when it receives a tip-off regarding the them. In some cases, even the lower rank policemen have been found involved in drug trafficking.

Four cops, including the in charge of a police post at Rattia Chungi here, are facing trial after they were found replacing poppy husk recovered from a trafficker with rice husk during a raid by the superiors.

According to medical experts, the addicts cannot shun drugs without proper counselling and medical treatment. A two-pronged strategy of reforming the addicts through counselling and medical treatment and cutting the supply line of narcotics was necessary to curb the menace.

Though the police has made efforts in the past in this direction, but these have been sporadic rather continuous.

SP Saurabh Singh had also organised rallies in several villages for creating awareness about the drug addiction.

Earlier, Paryaas, an NGO started by former SP Srikant Jadhav, too, worked in the direction of de-addiction of youths.

But the efforts so far have been intermittent and hence have not been able to produce the desired results.

Even on the front of nabbing the traffickers, while small drug peddlers are brought to books almost daily, it is seldom that the police catches a big fish of the business.



From oblivion to awareness
Neem Kheda women find voice
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Neem Kheda (Mewat), June 21
Frustration has now paved way for hope in Neem Kheda village of Mewat district. After being stifled for over two years, the all-women panchayat has finally found its voice and things have begun to move in this back-of-beyond village on the Haryana-Rajasthan border.

While the district administration has become sensitive to the demands of the village, the women panchs, too, are on a new high with development works in the area in full swing.

The administration has arranged for water tankers to tide over water paucity while an anganwari has also been started for expecting mothers. The process of lighting up electricity poles has begun and the need for a school stands addressed.

“We have five tankers coming every morning and evening. It is a big relief to the entire village because half of our day used to go in fetching water. Officials of the district administration also keep visiting us and we no longer have to run after them or stage protests to be heard,” says sarpanch Ashu Bi.

Given the favourable response of the administration to the demands of the villagers, the panchayat has dropped the idea of resigning en masse. “The village had decided on electing a new panchayat because we had failed to get any work done. A fortnight after we made our decision, our village is a completely different picture. It is so unbelievable,” adds Sakuran Bi, a panch.

While the administration has written to the education department for more staff at the village school, it has even assured the villagers that the high school will come up at the place they have chosen. “Lack of education in our village was a constant irritant for us because our children would just waste their time. With staff and a school, we are happy that their future, too, is secure,” Mehmoodi states.

Last week, the district administration also created a pond to help conserve rainwater under a government scheme and has other projects in mind as well. In its journey from oblivion to being the centre of attention, Neem Khera has not only had district officials visiting the village but a team headed by the secretary, panchayat, government of India, Meenakshi Dutta Ghosh, also visited the village to meet the panchayat.

“We went to see the development works executed since the time the panchayat announced its decision to resign. We will prepare our own report based on our findings during the visit in a week or so,” said Ghosh.

At Neem Kheda, village meetings no longer debate the panchayat’s non-performance, but focus on the issues that need to be dealt with to contribute to the quality of life. The panchayat and its women are seen as harbingers of the change sweeping across the village. Women power has, finally, triumphed even if after a long-drawn battle with the administration.



Power availability likely to increase
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Power availability in Haryana is likely to improve next month compared to what it is in June.

For, a government projection shows that 969 lakh units of power will be available in the state in a day on an average in July. The corresponding figure for this month is 866.30 lakh units.

As a matter of fact, June is the worst month this summer as far power availability in the state is concerned. In August and September, the latter month marks the beginning of the period when the weather in Haryana becomes less hot before gradually becoming pleasant, the power availability will be much higher than in June.

While in August the anticipated power availability in the state is shown as 959 lakh units per day, it is expected to shoot up to 966 lakh units per day in September.

Power cuts in the scorching summer had in previous years triggered off protests by residents and had even led to a law and order situation in some places. That such protests are missing this time round may be an indication that power cuts this summer have been kept within a tolerable limit.

The “sufferers”, though, will not accept any talk on betterment of the power availability scenario. “The power situation in the state is terrible”, BJP legislator Ram Kumar Gautam thundered while claiming that he was speaking as a citizen and not an opposition MLA.

While doing a tightrope walk in the summer, the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led government, however, will have the opportunity of giving a befitting reply to its opponents in November when the first unit (300 MW) of the thermal project at Yamunanagar will become operational. It is learnt that November 11 is the date when the unit is slated to be commissioned.

The second unit of the project, also having 300 MW capacity, is slated to take off on February 19 next year.

The period preceding the winter will also see Haryana sign a power purchase agreement for 2,000 MW . Fourteen applicants have been found fit for the job for which competitive bids were invited.

The bids will be opened in August while shortlisting of the bids will be carried out on September 11. The agreement will be signed on September 26.



Declining dollar adds to exporters’ woes
Rahul Das
Tribune News Service

Ambala, June 21
The recent decline in the value of US dollar has adversely affected scientific instrument exporters of Ambala. The exporters, who are already facing stiff competition from China, are now dealing with sudden fluctuations in the value of dollar. As the exporters work on slender margins, abrupt fall hits them.

A number of scientific instruments are exported to different countries. The export is of two types. One is the regular kind in which the foreign importers buy products on a regular basis and the other is “one-off variety” in which the exporters bid for global tenders. While it is possible to ensure equitability in regular international business dealings, the problem crops up in the global tender deals. The exporters quote a price for their products based on the prevailing dollar rate. Once the bid is made, the price becomes firm and the exporter is bound to receive a fixed sum. President of the Ambala Scientific Instruments Manufacturers Association Ashwani Goel says the volatility in the currency market is like a double-edged sword. “The exporter stands to gain or lose at the time of settlement of the payment. The Reserve Bank of India must look into this problem which is specifically faced by small exporters”.

Goel says besides the volatile dollar, another challenge being faced by the scientific instruments manufacturers is the frequent power cuts. “The manufacturers are forced to run generators which add to the cost of the product.”



Volvo to run on six more routes
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
The state Transport Department has decided to introduce six more routes of Volvo buses in view of the growing demand.

Transport minister Randeep Singh Surjewala said the new routes would be Chandigarh-Amritsar-Delhi, Delhi-Amritsar-Chandigarh, Delhi-Chandigarh-Katra, Katra-Chandigarh-Delhi, Delhi-Chandigarh-Manali and Manali-Chandigarh-Delhi. He said these routes would become operational within a month.

He said the proposed interstate services would entail plying the buses through Delhi, Punjab, Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh. He said interstate agreements with all neighbouring states were due for renewal and the process had already been started. The additional "Saarthi" services would also be made part of the new agreements.



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