Luxury tax redefined
Hotel industry to benefit
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The luxury tax, introduced recently in the state on the hotel industry, will be imposed on the room rent actually charged from a customer and not on the rent printed in the tariff card.

The government has agreed to give this concession to the hotel industry of the state, which went into a tizzy following the imposition of luxury tax last month.

The Cabinet had decided to impose 10 per cent luxury tax on the room rent printed in the tariff card of a hotel. The hotels whose room rent is Rs 2,000 per day or more are covered under the luxury tax, which is to come into force from August 1. A delegation of the Hotel and Restaurants Association of Haryana led by its president Manbeer Choudhary met Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda yesterday and urged him to give this concession to the industry, which would otherwise, be badly hit.

Choudhary pointed out that the hotel industry was already paying heavy taxes, which included 12.5 per cent VAT on food and beverages, 20 per cent VAT on liquor, bar licence fee of Rs 6 lakh per annum (highest in the country), 12.36 per cent service tax and 25 per cent entertainment tax.

He said no luxury tax was being imposed on hotels in Chandigarh and Punjab while Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan were charging 5 per cent and 8 per cent luxury tax, respectively, on the actual rent charged from the customers.

The delegation said while it was true that luxury tax was being levied in 19 states, most of the states were charging it on the actual tariff and not the printed tariff, as tour operators and travel agents always insisted on rebate while booking rooms in bulk. Several hotels in the state had already contracted rooms up to March 2008, to foreign tourists and multinational companies.

Choudhary said Maharashtra had announced a tax holiday for five years for new hotels projects in Mumbai to encourage the hospitality industry, which was already grappling with 9.2 per cent devaluation of US dollar against the Indian rupee.

On hearing their pleas and after studying tax structure in Punjab and Delhi, Hooda agreed to impose luxury tax on the actual rent charged from the customer.

When the proposal by the Excise and Taxation Department to impose luxury tax on the hotels came up before the Cabinet last month, minister of state for tourism Kiran Choudhary and her secretary Keshni Anand Arora vehemently opposed it.

Their plea was that the tax would adversely affect the hospitality industry in the state, particularly at a time when the Tourism Department along with the private sector was engaged in selling Haryana as the tourist destination.

They also pointed out that since the state was to provide 10,000 rooms for the 2010 Common Wealth Games to be held in New Delhi, the new tax would jeopardise the department’s efforts to encourage the private sector in constructing new hotels in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The tax, they said, would also hit the Haryana Tourism Corporation, a public sector undertaking.

As a compromise formula between the Excise and Taxation Department and the Tourism Department, the Cabinet agreed that the tax should be imposed on the rent of Rs 2,000 or above. The Taxation Department had proposed 10 per cent luxury tax on all hotel accommodation. Rent of most of the Haryana Tourism hotel rooms is less than Rs 2,000.

The new concession agreed to by the Chief Minister would assuage the hurt feelings of the hoteliers to a large extent. The ultimate beneficiary would be the costumer from whom the hoteliers would have collected the new tax. The state expected to collect about Rs 50 crore per annum from the earlier proposal.



Good news for physically challenged
Public places to be more accessible
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The state government has taken a decision in principle to make it mandatory for all projects or building meant for public use to give an undertaking that these buildings or facilities are suitable for use by people with infirmities.

All such buildings or projects will be required to implement the Haryana Municipal Building (Amendment) Byelaws, 2007. The secretary and commissioner, Urban Local Bodies Department, are currently reviewing the rules that will make public places easier for use by the handicapped.

The department has issued instructions to all municipalities in the state to abide by the amended legislation. For any new project or building plan to be approved, an architect registered with the Council of Architects and empanelled with the concerned municipal committee will have to certify that provisions of this Act have been complied with.

In order to make the rules effective, a provision has been made to renew the empanelment of architects annually. The draft byelaws provide for a strict punishment if the owner or the registered architect submits a wrong report while seeking approval of a plan.

According to the rules, the access to any building or facility will be at the level of the road with paths and parking for the physically impaired. If the access has a slope, it should not have a gradient higher than 5 per cent. Besides this, access will have to do away with steps. For the visually impaired, there is a requirement that the floonce of the public building and the distance from the parking to the building cannot be more than 30 m. It will be the duty of thence of the public building and the distance from the parking to the building cannot be more than 30 m. It will be the duty of the building management to ensure that the parking is used exclusively by the physically handicapped.

Each building will have at lion for at least one lift will have to be made for the wheelchair users. A handrail will have to be fixed adjacent to the control panel with the minimum closing time of the lift to be 5 seconds. The lift should provide audible announcement of the floor levion for at least one lift will have to be made for the wheelchair users. A handrail will have to be fixed adjacent to the control panel with the minimum closing time of the lift to be 5 seconds. Both the entry and exit should have a minimum width of 900 mm so as not to obstruct the wheelchair 10,000 along with imprisonment up to six months for repeated omissions.



Kalpana Chawla planetarium to open – finally
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service

Kurukshetra, July 12
After a delay of over one year, the much-awaited Kalpana Chawla planetarium will be opened to the public this month. The planetarium, equipped with the latest digital and opto-mechanical space viewing gadgets imported from the US, will be the first of its kind in the state.

The planetarium has been set up in memory of astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who was killed on February 1, 2003, with seven other astronauts in NASA’s space shuttle Columbia’s disaster.

The National Council for Science and Museum (NCSM) has undertaken the project in association with the Department of Science and Technology, Haryana. The latter will run the centre, located on the Kurukshetra-Pehowa road, 3 km from Kuruskhetra University.

The Rs 6.5-crore project is expected to be a big point of attraction, sources say. Sharing details of the planetarium, curator Sumit Kumar says the institute will help the masses understand space science.

The planetarium has several centres of attraction highlighting various aspects of Indian and international astronomical developments, he says, adding that a special weighing machine placed here tells your weight according to gravity on various planets.

Another section has been raised focusing on “nakshatras” and Aryabhat and his contribution to Indian astronomy.

Several other equipment used in the older times to calculate time and star positions have also been displayed at the centre. The astronomical park is also equipped with several time calculating devices, including the sundial.

According to astronomical calculations,the actual time at Kurukshetra is 23 minutes behind IST, informs the curator. Besides, an exclusive picture gallery has also been set up on the life of Kalpana Chawla.

Another attraction is the aluminium dome hall, which is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment imported from the US.

“The dome-shaped hall will be used as a screen to depict planets, meteors and other celestial bodies. Here, we will organise special interactive sessions with visitors,” Sumit says.


  • A special weighing machine that tells your weight according to gravity on various planets
  • A section on “nakshatras” and Aryabhat and his contribution to Indian astronomy
  • Several kinds of equipment used in older times to calculate time and star positions
  • An exclusive picture gallery on the life of Kalpana
  • Aluminium dome hall fitted with state-of-the-art equipment



Demolition drive
Illegal buildings on NH-1 identified
Rahul Das
Tribune News Service

Ambala, July 12
Demolition of buildings located close to the National Highway has turned out a major issue. While owners of buildings are up in arms against the demolition drive, which they say was unexpected, the officials concerned are clear that they have to follow Punjab and Haryana High Court order on the issue.

The owners have raised several issues. They state that they should be granted an opportunity for appeal against the notices sent to them and the authorities concerned must take note of the fact that some of the buildings were constructed before 1962.

However, district town planning officer R.K. Singh said they had taken all aspects into consideration and only when a building was found to be flouting the rules, it was going to be demolished. “We have sent 116 show cause notices to the building owners along the National Highway. The demolition drive will continue unabated,” he said.

Deputy commissioner R.P. Bharadwaj said the drive was being carried out as per the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

A number of illegal liquor vends running close to the National Highway have been demolished during the drive. Besides, several structures along the highway in the district are on target.

The demolition team has also razed a major part of a mall located close to Ambala Cantt. An old ice factory, dating back to 1920s, had been converted into the mall.

The drive has also thrown up challenges for the demolition team. It had hit a roadblock when it came to demolish a three-storeyed structure. There were concerns about the safety of the team members since they lack expertise in handling demolition of multi-storeyed structures. To tide of this problem, the district authorities have sought the assistance of experts.

Meanwhile, Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee legal cell vice-chairman Om Prakash Malik has criticised the role of the authorities concerned who were responsible for ensuring that no construction is carried out without due permission and all legal formalities are met. “These buildings were not constructed in a day or a week but some buildings took years to be completed. Where were the authorities without whose permission no such building can be constructed,” he said.

Malik suggested the formation of a high-powered committee to probe into the failure of the government machinery to check construction of such buildings.



Karnal bus stand victim of official apathy
Vishal Joshi
Tribune News Service

Karnal, July 12
As the authorities have failed to construct a new bus stand here, the existing one continues to witness severe traffic congestion. Karnal is the only town located on the GT Road where the bus stand is located away from the national highway.

Residents rue that due to its location buses enter the already crowded town to reach the bus stand. Scores of private and government buses enter the town daily that leads to traffic chaos in the area, the residents say.

As it is located in the heart of the town, the area surrounding the bus stand has become an eyesore.

Though there is a site earmarked for the new bus stand, the state authorities have failed to make use of the available land.

Inquiries reveal that Haryana Roadways owns land at a prime location on NH-1, opposite the mini-secretariat, for building a new bus stand. But the land is often given on rent to private entrepreneurs to host exhibitions and funfairs, etc.

Admitting the fact that the existing bus stand is posing a traffic hazard, officials blame the state authorities for their keenness to construct a bus stand on a build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis.

“Since no private party has come forward to work on a BOT basis, the proposal for the new bus stand has been shelved,” revealed a source.

Dotted with potholes and bus bays full of dirt and filth, the bus stand presents a picture of utter neglect. With no proper facility to park vehicles, there is usually chaos in and around the bus stand. Stray animals add to the problem.

On top of all this, there are encroachments by private transporters, autorickshaws, cycle rickshaws, rehris and vendors, right under the nose of the authorities concerned.

The encroachers have even taken over places near the entry and exit points, leaving little space for smooth traffic.

Dhaba owners and other shopkeepers near the stand have also encroached on the pavement area, adding to the traffic blockage. Even as thousands of passengers face hardship daily, the district administration and the local civic body are yet to wake up.



Laser-guided implement to level fields
Vishal Gulati
Tribune News Service

Benefits of land-leveller

  • Saves irrigation water
  • Increases cultivable area by 3 to 5 per cent
  • Improves crop establishment
  • Improves uniformity of crop maturity
  • Increases crop yield
  • Reduces weed problems
  • Reduces use of pesticides and fertilisers

Chandigarh, July 12
To save the declining groundwater level and to increase the crop yield at reduced cost, the department of agriculture, Haryana, has started a campaign in the state to educate farmers about the importance of a laser-guided land-levelling implement.

The campaign has been launched initially in Karnal, Kurukshetra, Fatehabad and Kaithal districts.

In these districts the farmers have been given demonstrations about the use of the implement. The department has procured four land levellers under a scheme of demonstration of agricultural implements of the ministry of agriculture. The department has sent a proposal to the ministry to provide 10 more land levellers.

“This tractor-drawn implement helps the farmer in levelling the fields,” says a senior official of the department.

Laser-assisted land leveller not only saves water but also minimise the use nutrients and agro-chemicals. “When the field is not levelled it affects the crop yield. As the water accumulates in low-lying areas, more water is required to irrigate other areas. Even fertilisers and pesticides accumulated in the depressed areas,” he explains.

Regarding the use of land leveller, he says a laser transmitter can be installed in the field. It then guides the implement towed with the tractor to level unlevelled areas.

“Once the field is levelled, there is no need for levelling in the next few years. Till date, 475 acres have been levelled. The levelling is done free of cost. Only the farmer has to provide the diesel to operate the tractor,” says the official.

He says the traditional methods of land levelling are labour intensive and do not achieve a high level of smoothness of land surface.

“Laser levelling can reduce water use by 20 to 30 per cent and increase crop yield by 10 to 20 per cent,” says Rice-Wheat Consortium Technical Bulletin 7.

Such technologies can play an important role in checking the declining water table. Excessive pumping of water to irrigate field is a major reason of potable water shortage in many districts.

The water table in the state declin ed 26m from 1967 to 2006, say studies conducted by the department.

In Kurukshetra, Mahendragarh, Gurgaon and Bhiwani districts the water table has declined drastically. In Mahendragarh district, the decline is maximum i.e. 30m from 1967 to 2006.



Once hot spot, Badkhal Lake cries for attention
Bijendra Ahlawat
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, July 12
The famous Badkhal Lake, once a hot spot on the state’s tourist map, is now a dried up and deserted place, thanks to the gross neglect and apathy of the local administration.

The lake has been relegated to just a barren patch of land. There is hardly any tourist here even on weekends. What one sees these days are buffaloes grazing at the place with wild grass growing all around. This has adversely affected not only the income of the Tourism Department but also the livelihood of hundreds who used to provide various kind of services and facilities.

Badkhal had come up on the Haryana tourism map ever since the state was carved out in 1966. “Badkhal got into the limelight as it was a perfect place due to its being surrounded by the Aravalli hills and water could be stored in a lake form easily. Rain was the main source of water. But the water level in the lake started receding about 10-12 years back when mining activity in the Aravalli hills and the Surajkund area got acute. A huge volume of water used to be sucked out in the mining process and was thrown out as a waste product. This resulted in a sharp depletion of water table in the region, affecting the water level in the lake and in the nearby areas,” the official revealed.

Riaz, a resident of Badkhal village, said the ban on mining imposed by the Supreme Court a few years ago had brought much needed relief, but continued illegal mining and setting up of some mineral water bottling plants in the region done the remaining damage to the lake”.

It is reported that while the spot had attracted several filmmakers and the department earned lakhs each year from tourists, the income in this category had declined sharply over the years and all ticket counters at the spot are now lying closed.

According to Islam, a resident of the nearby village, one of the main factors affecting the tourist inflow had been the lack of safety and security from the anti-social elements of the nearby villages. He said there were several incidents in which tourists were harassed and women molested and even raped by miscreants and the police failed to take any action.

He claimed that no genuine tourist visited the spot or stayed at the motel these days.

“Illegal and immoral activities at the tourist spots, including Badkhal Lake, had forced families to avoid visiting these places,” said Mukesh, a resident of Sector 7 here.

Shamim, who provides horse and camel rides at the spot, said fleecing in name of entry ticket and disallowing visitors having their own eatables and drinks at the spot had also affected the tourist flow. He said the authorities should make some changes in its rules to revive the tourism here, including filling up of the lake and easing up the entry rules.

The chief secretary in December 2006 had held a meeting of the district officials and had directed HUDA to fill up water in the lake, but the progress seems to have been lost in the files.

It is, however, learnt that HUDA has asked a company to prepare a detailed report regarding the option of using the wastewater released by the thermal power plant in the NIT to fill up the lake. This water at present is being released in an artificial lake near Bhakri village in the region.



‘Millennium city’ has a dark side
Old Gurgaon areas in state of neglect
Ravi S.Singh
Tribune News Service

Beasts of burden slug it out as high-rise apartment buildings come up in Gurgaon
Beasts of burden slug it out as high-rise apartment buildings come up in Gurgaon.
— Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

Gurgaon, July 12
The city, consciously projected by government machineries and builder lobby and land mafia as “millennium city”, has a big underbelly in the form of its old areas which have been left miles behind in comparison to the newer parts in terms of developmental parameters.

In fact, the “millennium city” pertains only to the new areas of the city, which by and large fall across the left side of the national highway (Delhi-Jaipur) when one comes to Gurgaon from Delhi. The new area has posh colonies and eye-catching condominiums, world-class malls and sky scrappers of corporate offices set up by well-known builders like DLF, Uppals, Unitech and Ansals. Ram Lal, a resident of Subash Nagar in old Gurgaon, says that there is a huge gap in the development and modernisation between the old areas and new parts of the city. In fact, the general opinion is that after visiting both areas one gets a culture shock.

It also underlines the wide-ranging allegations from the people concerned with old Gurgaon that the government has copied the commercial psyche of the builders bereft of any humanitarian values.

There are about 100 colonies in the old city area out of which about 35 are in the unauthorised categories. The unauthorised ones have largely come up around villages. All of them, however, to all intent and purpose are now part of the Urban Estate of the city. They are inhabited by labour and other low-income groups of the society.

Name any indicators and the entire old city area falters in comparison to the new parts. The state of basic civic amenities is dismal. The government authorities harp on taking ameliorative measures but such pious but vapid statements have been there for several years.

Take the condition of roads. Name any colony and the pathetic state recurs. The two main roads, the New Railway Road and the Old Railway road have several potholes, some resembling craters. This has occasioned several road accidents, but life goes on. Come to Alwar-Basai road along Bhuteshwar Mandir where the life of the old area pulsates.

The roads in some areas have been repaired or laid, but the quality of work and material provided by the contractors remain far from satisfactory. The poor supply of water and electricity compound the problems of the residents. However, poor sewerage system and overall sanitary conditions coupled with lack of drainage system has made life miserable.

Although all parts of the old area face these problems, colonies like Madanpuri, Baldev Nagar, Jyoti Park, 4/8 Marla, Lakshmi Garden, Shakti Park, Shakti Nagar, Ram Nagar, Arjun Nagar, Nai Basti, Prem Nagar Om Nagar, Shivaji Nagar, Saraswati Enclave, Vikas Nagar, Krishna Nagar are the worst sufferers.



Kaithal, the laggard
Solid waste project fails to make headway
Satish Seth

Kaithal, July 12
The solid waste management scheme, introduced partially in this district about four years ago, has become the victim of utter mismanagement and lack of proper coordination among various government departments.

The Supreme Court, while disposing off a public interest litigation in 1999, had issued directions to various state governments to make schemes for the proper disposal of solid waste. As many as 36 towns of the state were selected under the solid waste management scheme as a follow-up measure.

For Kaithal, a project was prepared involving costs of Rs 4.35 crore for implementing the scheme. But despite directions of the apex court in this regard, the project failed to make much headway in this district.

Thanks to the prevailing red tape in government departments and indifferent attitude of the officials concerned, who have failed to ensure implementation of the scheme in a time-bound manner.

According to the information, the Haryana Pollution Control Board (HPCB) has emerged as a major hindrance. Initially, it wrote a letter in April 2005, to the executive officer, Kaithal Municipal Council, to appear for personal hearing and explain reasons for delaying the project by not selecting a suitable site for setting up a plant for reprocessing the solid waste.

Soon thereafter, the municipal authorities selected a site spread over 10 acres at Patti Choudhry, adjoining Amin drain on the Jind road here, and made a request for the grant of mandatory no objection certificate in July 2005. Since then, a number of reminders have been sent to the HPCB, but the department, which showed its eagerness in the initial stages, failed to respond to the request of the council.

Meanwhile, due to this delay, the council could not utilise the funds received by it for this scheme and the treatment plant to recycle the solid waste could not be set up.

The council was, however, allotted dumper placer, dustbins, three-wheelers, rehris and rickshaws to collect garbage and carry it to the site of plant about four years ago. All this equipment has been in use since then but the plant is yet to be set up. But despite the use of this equipment, the sanitary condition of the town has not shown any improvement.

The council authorities have failed to arrange regular lifting of garbage from various localities of the town and the big containers received under the solid waste management scheme for the collection of garbage and kept at different places in the town remain filled to its capacity. These are not emptied for days together as a result these containers overflow with accumulated garbage and spread stink.

Interestingly, the municipal staff has started burning the garbage by putting it on fire inside dustbins itself, which has rendered some of the containers useless.

The safai karamcharis, too, throw garbage around the overflowing containers, which not only pollutes the atmosphere but also causes great inconvenience to the residents of the respective locality.

When contacted, MC executive officer Kehar Singh Kadiyan said in anticipation of the approval from the pollution board, hundreds of tonnes of garbage, lying at old dumping sites of Mata Gate and Chandana Gate for the past many years, had been shifted to the new site at the Jind road.



Inside Babudom
Reshuffle leaves many a droopy face
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The recent administrative reshuffle has left many officers long-faced in the state's bureaucracy. Certain officers are sulking because they have been shifted from “cushy” and “prestigious” jobs. There are others who feel that they have been doubly humiliated. First, they were given “insignificant” postings. Second, the postings were not in accordance with their seniority.

The political leadership of the state (read Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda) was approached, either directly or indirectly, by some of the officers who were not happy with the reshuffle. But Hooda refused to buckle under the pressure of those officers who used to believe that their “godfathers” would prevail upon the Chief Minister and protect their interests. In fact, inside sources say, one of the main purposes of the reshuffle was to send a strong message to the bureaucracy that no officer could survive merely on the strength of his or her connections. The officers must realise that their first loyalty should be towards the state and then to the Chief Minister.

However, Hooda was not adamant in those cases where he felt that unwittingly some injustice had been done or an officer would have genuinely faced problems if he was shifted from his present station of posting. He also accommodated those whose new posting was not in accordance with their seniority.

S.P. Gupta won the Best Administrator in Urban Development in the country award in 2006 and 2007 as administrator, HUDA, Gurgaon. He was transferred as commissioner, Hisar division, last year when he was promoted to the commissioner rank because the post of administrator is considered to be a junior one. However, his transfer order was cancelled the next day.

In the recent reshuffle, he was posted as additional coordinator, investment promotion board(IPB), Delhi. Interestingly, this post Gupta held in 1989 when he was a member of the Haryana civil service(HCS) before his nomination to the IAS. Even as administrator, HUDA, Gurgaon, he was holding additional charge of coordinator, IPB. However, he left this charge after Ashok Lawasa was posted as principal coordinator, IPB. In the reshuffle he was appointed additional coordinator, a post junior to that which he was holding as additional charge earlier.

The Chief Minister has now redressed his grievance by posting Gupta as chief administrator, housing board, Panchkula. Another officer, Sarban Singh, who was posted as commissioner, Hisar division, in the reshuffle, has been brought back to Chandigarh because he had some genuine family problems.

A posting which has foxed the bureaucracy is that of Chhatar Singh as financial commissioner and principal secretary, public relations, in addition to his primary job as additional principal secretary to the Chief Minister-I(APSCM-I). K.K. Khandelwal was recently posted as director, public relations, as well as APSCM-II. Earlier, Rajan Gupta was the secretary, public relations, who has now been given the education department.

Many feel that the change might have been made to keep a "check" on the new entrant in the Chief Minister's office (CMO), who is called by his colleagues as "Kushal Kumar", and might have something to do with politics within the CMO.



Sikh museum at Kapal Mochan awaits exhibits
Nishikant Dwivedi
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, July 12
To procure martial art weapons related to the Sikhs, the state public relation and culture department has decided to approach the archaeology department so that Guru Gobind Singh Martial Arts Museum at Kapal Mochan, Bilaspur, here, can be opened to the public. The three-domed magnificent building of the museum was constructed at a cost of Rs 2.10 crore with central government aid to commemorate the tercentenary of the Khalsa about four years ago, but till date there are no weapons to exhibit at the museum. There are nine windows to exhibit ancient Sikh weapons in the museum.

For the past four years, the state government has been making efforts to procure Sikh martial art weapons from Punjab and other places. However, talks with the Punjab government for weapons had not been fruitful in the past. “We will be continuing our talks with the Punjab government,” said Dr Kuldeep Saini, member secretary of the management committee of the museum.

An official claimed that in a communication sent on May 26, 2003, to his Haryana counterpart, the then Punjab Chief Minister had promised to loan traditional weapons and other items to the museum.

Earlier, the government had requested the Chief Ministers of all states to provide such weapons (if any) for the museum.

The union government had provided funds for the museum during the Khalsa tercentenary celebrations. The sources said the museum committee had Rs 80 lakh at its disposal.

Deputy commissioner Nitin Kumar Yadav, who is the chairman of the committee, said efforts were on to make the museum fully operational before the coming Kapal Mochan mela in which lakhs of Sikhs from the region were expected to participate.

The museum could be a big attraction to Sikh pilgrims, who visit Kapal Mochan all year round. Guru Gobind Singh had stayed for 52 days here and washed his weapons in a pond adjacent to the museum. Saini said that landscaping would be done around the museum and an amusement park for children might also come up. He said war scenes (from Sikh history), using mannequins, would also be depicted.



Sewage treatment plant needed for Ambala Cantt
Rahul Das
Tribune News Service

Ambala, July 12
The lack of a sewage treatment plant in Ambala Cantt has put a question mark on the state of public health.

While the situation in Ambala City is going to improve considerably after sewer lines are laid and a treatment plant set up soon, in Ambala Cantt, particularly in the Sadar area, there is an urgent need for a sewage treatment plant.

It is a piquant situation in the Ambala Sadar area since sewer pipes were laid a couple of years ago but a treatment plant has not been set up. Environmentalists believe that untreated sewage is gradually percolating into the ground on the outskirts of Ambala Sadar where the sewer pipes end.

In Ambala City, the Baldev Nagar area has benefitted from the initiative taken by Ambala City MLA Venod Sharma to lay sewer pipes. The pipes are being laid at an estimated cost of Rs 14 crore. Besides, an ambitious sewerage project has been prepared for Ambala City which will cost about Rs 182 crore. The project envisages the setting up of a treatment plant.

Former Ambala Cantt MLA Anil Vij said that the sewer system was sanctioned for Ambala Sadar way back in 1977. "Thereafter, the process of laying pipes was started. In some areas, pipes were laid, but many areas did not have these. Much later, branch lines to different localities were laid which were connected to the main sewer pipeline," he said.

He said the Mahesh Nagar area does not have any sewer system. "However, technical approval for residential colonies in the area had been given, subject to the availability of funds," he added.

Vij pointed out that the sewer system had an inherent flaw. "While the natural flow of water in the Cantt area is from east to west, the flow of sewage is from west to east. Also, there is an open disposal since there is no treatment plant. During the monsoon, the sewer system fails," he said.

R.P. Gupta, green circle member, said the lack of a sewage treatment plant in Ambala Cantt was a matter of grave concern. "The authorities must take immediate notice since it is directly related to public health," he said.

The authorities must ensure that all houses are connected to the sewer system. It is understood that a large number of houses in the Sadar area have not got the sewer connection even though pipes are passing through their area.



Sanitation drive in full swing in Faridabad
Our Correspondent

Fatehabad, July 12
The District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) is implementing the total sanitation campaign under a programme funded by the World Bank with an aim to make the district free from open defecation.

Under this programme, the authorities are constructing latrines and soakage pits for families living below the poverty line from project funds while others are doing it with their own resources.

The organisers of the campaign are sure that they would be able to make the district free from open defecation by August 15.

Additional deputy commissioner Yudhvir Singh Khayalia, who is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the DRDA, is looking after the affairs of the campaign with the help of 10 teams of motivators, who move from village to village to motivate people to construct their own latrines and soakage pits and stop the practice of open defecation.

The engineering wing of the Panchayati Raj department is helping villagers in constructing right type of latrines over a deep well and also a soakage pit to absorb the wastewater flow of the household.

The hard work put in by the motivators has transformed this campaign into a movement. Rural women are coming out in large numbers to volunteer for the drive. The authorities have also involved panchayats and schools for the better implementation of the scheme.

The village where all residents have constructed their own latrines and soakage pit is given the title “nirmal gram”. Over 30 villages have come under this category so far.



Admission rush
Many takers for English, biotech courses at MDU
Sunit Dhawan
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, July 12
Some clear-cut trends have been observed in the admission process in progress at Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU) here. For instance, in humanities (arts stream), an increasing number of students are showing inclination towards MA in English. This course has attracted the maximum number of admission seekers this year, followed by MA courses in geography, psychology and sociology.

In the science stream, the admission tide is tilted towards postgraduate study programmes in biosciences, especially biotechnology. The other PG programmes in life sciences include those in zoology, botany, genetics, environmental science and biochemistry.

On the other hand, traditional as well as professional courses in commerce, management, computer science, mass communication, pharmacy, physics and chemistry have shown a steady trend. Mathematics with computer science, a new package course offered by the university, has also emerged as a popular option among the students.

Prof S.P.S. Dahiya, head of the English Department, attributes the recent upsurge in the number of students opting for higher studies in English to three major factors.

“The mindset to master English communication skills in this era of globalisation, preference for competitive exams and increasing demand for teachers of the English language have largely contributed to the fascination for a university degree in English,” he asserts.

The university also offers certificate and diploma courses in French and Spanish languages. A certificate course in Urdu has also been launched recently.

The other most sought-after humanities courses include MA in geography, psychology or sociology. While a postgraduate course in geography opens new vistas in the upcoming fields of remote sensing, satellite communication and seismology, degrees in psychology and sociology are pursued as they evoke interest among a majority of students.

The demand for biosciences courses has also shown an upward trend in the recent years. The establishment of the Advanced Centre of Biotechnology at the university has further boosted the trend. This centre offers specialised courses in biotechnology, medical biotechnology and food-processing technology.

“MDU was basically conceived as a university for life sciences and applied sciences. We have made an effort to introduce some job-oriented professional courses in accordance with the changing times… and it is satisfying to note that all new study programmes have been taken well,” says vice-chancellor R.S. Dhankar.



Maths, chemistry a draw at GJU
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, July 12
Even as information technology is attracting youngsters, traditional MSc courses in basic sciences like physics, chemistry and mathematics continue to be the most popular among science graduates in Haryana.

Going by the number of applications for admission to such courses received by Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology here, basic sciences are scoring over other newer disciplines like nanotechnology and biotechnology also.

Mathematics is the most popular subject followed by chemistry and then physics. There are 460 applicants for 40 seats for MSc in mathematics. Chemistry and physics courses have attracted 404 and 350 applications for 35 seats in each discipline.

Postgraduate courses in food technology and mass communication have also proved popular. There are 307 applicants for the MSc course in food technology against 25 seats. Likewise, 268 applications were received for the mass communication course, which has 35 seats.

There are an average of 26.4 candidates for admission to each of the 10 seats for MPharm (pharmaceutics). The Bachelor of Physiotherapy course has 40 seats for which there are 168 applicants. The postgraduate course in nanoscience and technology has 20 seats for which there are 85 applicants.

As against this, there are just 141 candidates seeking admission to 20 seats for MTech in computer science and engineering. A similar course in VLSI design and embedded systems has attracted 93 candidates for its 20 seats.

The MTech in print and graphic communication appears to have lost its charm over the years with just 20 candidates for as many number of seats.

University teachers say although most of the candidates have applied for admission to several courses simultaneously, the plain Master’s degree courses in physics, chemistry and mathematics continue to be popular because of the job potential in teaching both at the school and college levels.

However, the popularity could be a bit overstated because a large number of students apply for these courses just as an insurance against failure to get admitted to courses of their choice. In that case they opt for these courses as a last resort.

The popularity of GJU courses has gone up this year because of good campus placements last year. Nearly 300 students were offered jobs even while pursuing their courses.

GJU also attracts a large number of students from other states mainly Delhi where the percentile cut-off lists have been skyrocketing every passing year. The presence of outside Haryana students thus lends a cosmopolitan character to the university campus.



Chaudhary Devi Lal varsity campus abuzz
Kiran Deep
Tribune News Service

Sirsa, July 12
Chaudhary Devi Lal University (CDLU) has come to life again with the beginning of process for admissions to various courses. The campus is buzzing with activities, as a number of students visit the campus every day.

The university received a massive response for its distance learning courses as around 10,000 students applied from across the country. It is now in the process of starting new job-oriented courses and setting up new departments. It has sent a proposal to the state government to start three more departments i.e. Hindi, Punjabi and Sanskrit, besides proposing job-oriented courses like BCA and BBA in distance learning.

“The university is getting good response for M.Tech (Computer Science) and engineering and postgraduate degree courses in chemistry, mathematics, physics, food science and technology, commerce, physical education, journalism and mass communication, economics, public administration and law,” vice-chancellor K.C. Bhardwaj said.

“We are all set to become a major centre of higher and quality education. The content of various courses has been revised to match the industry standards,” he added.

“We are also improving the infrastructure of the university. After receiving first installment of Rs 5.5 crore out of the Rs 40-crore financial aid announced by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the construction works of a teaching and an administrative wing, three hostels, a guesthouse and flats for employees have also gained momentum” he said.

Commenting on the faculty strength, he said they had advertised a number of posts of professor, reader and lecturer to be filled soon. Last month, the state government, keeping in view the functioning of the university, had made Chaudhary Devi Lal Memorial Engineering College, Panniwal, as the constituent of the university, he added.



Young Achievers
Topper par excellence
Nishikant Dwivedi
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, July 12
Ishan Aggarwal of Mukand Lal National College here has set up a record by scoring 93.3 per cent marks in B.Sc. (non-medical) examination (April-May 2007) conducted by Kurukshetra University.

Earlier, he had topped the university and scored record marks in the first and second year examinations of B.Sc.

Ishan scored 1353 marks out of 1450. He was among the select students from the country who were given the privilege to watch the Republic Day parade with the Prime Minister, informed Dr Ramesh Kumar, principal of the college.

Ishan says he used to study for long hours and was sure of not only topping the university but also setting up a record. Ishan’s father Ishwar Aggawal is a retired professor of political science. His sister Ruchi Aggarwal is a lecturer of computer applications in MAIMT institute and brother-in-law is an assistant professor (MBA) in the institute. Ishan wants to study MCA and he already secured higher ranks in the entrance examinations conducted by various prestigious institutes, including Panjab University, Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, another girl from the district has topped B.Com examination of the university. Ramneek Kaur Jaggi of Maharaja Agrasen College, Jagadhri, scored 1458 out 1850. She belongs to a business class family and wants to pursue MBA. For her success, she gives credit to her parents, teachers and college principal Dr R.S Wadhawan.



Master of all awaits 13th degree
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, July 12
He is a teacher by profession but a perpetual student by choice.

Kashmir Chand Sapra holds a doctorate in Sanskrit and has done his Master’s in 12 subjects. He has just finished the examinations for his 13th MA degree in ancient Indian history and is awaiting the result.

Working as the headmaster of Government High School in Shikarpur village, near here, Sapra was a student of class VIII when one of his classmates commented that he would never be able to go beyond school. Stung by the wry comment, he decided he would continue studying all his life.

His childhood vow has already earned him a place in the Limca Book of Records and he is now aiming for the Guinness Book of Records.

Sapra says every time he earns a degree, he makes it a point to inform his classmate of his academic achievement. Incidentally, his classmate could only complete his Bachelor’s degree course. “I am grateful to him. Had he not made that remark decades ago, I would have been an ordinary school teacher”, he says.

His choice of subjects is as interesting as his life story. Starting from a rural school, he has thus far earned the M A degree in English, Hindi, Sanskrit, Punjabi, music, history, political science, economics, sociology, public administration, philosophy and Urdu. The effort has not been a waste. “I can teach almost any subject of the Arts stream. Whenever a teacher is on leave, I substitute for him”, he says.

The craze for MA degrees runs in the family. His wife, Toshi Devi, has an M A in Hindi and works as a lecturer. His son, Sanjay Sagar, is an M A in English. His daughter-in-law, Alpana, has two Master’s degrees in English and Hindi. Sapra’s daughter, Suman, has a Master’s degree in Sanskrit and works as a lecturer.

Sapra says initially his wife felt he was always engrossed in books at the cost of the family, but gradually came to appreciate his love for learning. “Now when my children visit me, they always ask what examination I am preparing for”, he says proudly.

Besides his yearning for degrees, he takes a lot of interest in the Scouts movement. He is a trained Scout Master and is fond of travelling. He is now so used to examinations that he prepares only while going to his school and back home by bus.



Vasectomy becoming popular
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The painless, faster and less invasive procedure of male sterilisation known as no-scalpel vasectomy (NSV) is becoming popular in Haryana.

While in 1998, vasectomy was only about 1 per cent of the total sterilisation operations in the state, the NSV increased to 12.7 per cent of the total sterilisations in 2006-07 during which 10,949 vasectomy operations were performed.

According to health minister Kartar Devi to further popularise the NSV, the health department will organise a state-level seminar on July 21 at Panchkula, which will be inaugurated by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. The seminar will be organised in connection with the state-level function of World Population Day.

At present, the state has 135 trained NSV doctors, including 10 district trainers and one state trainer. The NSV has very few complications as compared to the old method, and is safe. Among the speakers at the seminar will be deputy commissioner of the union ministry of health and family welfare(MHFW) Jai Lakshmi; assistant commissioner of the MHFW Sikdar; and master trainer, NSV, R.C.M. Kaza.

Although the NSV is a permanent method of contraception, recanalisation is possible.



Power defaulters face disconnection
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (UNBVN) has disconnected power supply to over 62,000 consumers up to June 30 this year for the non-payment of their bills.

An official spokesman said the supply was disconnected to 14,564 non-paying consumers in Ambala and Panchkula districts, 12,180 consumers in Yamunanagar district, 14,613 consumers in Kurukshetra and Kaithal districts, 6,432 consumers in Karnal, 6,260 consumers in Panipat, 4,387 consumers in Rohtak and Jhajjar districts, 1,480 consumers in Jind and 2,119 consumers in Sonepat district.



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