Bureaucracy makes a mockery of RTI
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, February 14
The bureaucracy in Haryana has virtually reduced the Right to Information Act to a toothless law, which is being observed more in its breach than observance.

The most common ploy used by bureaucrats is to supply misleading or contradictory information to those seeking information under the Act. The other standard gambit is to force the applicant to move the appellate authority, thus passing the buck upwards.

RTI activists allege that the dilatory tactics of the senior bureaucrats has over a period shown the way to junior officers to follow suit and harass applicants. This has led to a sharp increase in the cost of seeking information.

An avid RTI activist, Anil Bhatia, says he has been fighting against the control being exercised by the DAV Colleges Management Committee based in New Delhi over its colleges in Haryana for the past 20 years. After the RTI Act was implemented, he had hoped to get information from the government and the universities.

However, the bureaucracy has been thwarting his efforts by refusing to part with right information or out rightly denying the same forcing him to go in appeal. “The effective cost of seeking information has skyrocketed because of the unnecessary exchange of letters and the cost of travelling to Chandigarh for the hearings of my appeals,” he says.

Here is an example of how the bureaucracy hoodwinks applicants. Bhatia asked the higher education commissioner, Haryana, whether the government had approved the appointment of a principal of DAV College, Ambala, by way of transfer and if so under what law.

He was informed that a copy of the letter rejecting the request for approval of this appointment was enclosed and a copy of another letter granting the approval was also enclosed. He has not so far been apprised of the rules under which the approval was granted.

A local resident, Dr Dharambir Singh, asked Kurukshetra University under the RTI Act whether the Delhi-based DAV Managing Committee was the competent authority to appoint and punish a principal or lecturer of Dayanand College, Hisar. The reply was “No”. He was also told that the varsity only recognised governing body of each aided DAV College and not the Delhi-based organisation.

Dr Dharambir Singh says despite this the university is granting approval to appointment letters issued by the Delhi-based committee which prescribes its own rules and regulations for the employees, contrary to the Haryana Security of Service Act for aided colleges’ employees.

RTI activists say the authorities are wreaking vengeance on applicants seeking information under the Act. Dr Ved Pal Singh, a senior professor at Haryana Agricultural University, here was transferred to a far-flung town after the he relentlessly pursued his application for information regarding certain appointments.

Bhatia said the stubborn attitude of the bureaucracy has also turned the Act into a money-spinner for their offices despite denying right information to the applicants.



Adopting model a problem
Gurgaon MC yet to start working
Aarti Kapur
Tribune News Service

Gurgaon, February 14
The functioning of the much-awaited Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon is still hanging fire as the model and the structure of the corporation has not been finalised so far.

The newly formed Administrative Reform Commission and the Gurgaon authorities are occupied in deciding the base model of the MC, which is self-dependent and serves the needs of the speedily growing millennium city.

The reason behind the delay is the fact that the growth and expansion of Gurgaon is at a much higher speed as compared to any other district of the state. The need is to formulate such a model that suffice to the need of the multinational companies as well as provide much needed basic facilities to its residents.

A senior official said Gurgaon had been presented as the model city of the state to the foreign investors, but in reality it did not even have basic facilities and there was utter confusion as to who was managing the affairs of the city as a whole. He said a new model would have to be formulated keeping in view new norms and any old set of model would not be suitable for this city.

One of the members of the ARC said a number of models of MCs were being studied, including Faridabad, Noida, Mumbai and Hyderabad, but the final decision was yet to be taken.

ARC chairman Karan S Dalal stated that the model suggested by the officials had several loopholes like in the present blueprint of the Gurgaon MC, Manesar had not been included by the authorities. He said the commission would adopt a model keeping in mind the rapid growth of the city.



Flesh Trade
Village women up in arms
Nishikant Dwivedi
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, February 14
Women of the Khezrabad area here have taken up a difficult task. They have decided to keep a watch on several restaurants and eateries located between Khezrabad and Hathnikund barrage here to keep a tab on the flesh trade in the area.

Villagers allege that certain restaurants are being used for flesh trade, which is bringing a bad name to their area, and they are finding it difficult to maintain social ties with outside people.

The villagers “raided” a restaurant in the area recently and allegedly nabbed two call girls. One of the girls, according to the villagers, was a minor while the other was married and a mother of two. The girls were later handed over to the police. Villages complain that flesh trade is rampart in the area.

Pramila, a resident of the area, says women are afraid to move out in the evening. Few months ago, panic prevailed in the area after few drunkards allegedly raped a minor girl.

It is to be mentioned here that the area is adjacent to the Kalesar National Park and the Yamuna flows on one side. A large number of people come here to enjoy the scenic beauty of the area. The state government, too, is planning to develop the area as a tourist hub.

Kaniz Fathema, a former sarpanch of Tajewala village, who had led the yesterday’s “raid”, says certain people for petty financial gains are tarnishing the reputation of the area. “The village women have decided to keep a watch on the activities of restaurants. If we found any indecent activity, we would not even hesitate to thrash the culprits,” says Fathema.

This is not all these women would also take up the matter of development in the area with the district administration. “Unemployment and poverty are the major causes which force women to flesh trade,” adds Fathema.



Getting innovators their due
Sunit Dhawan
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, February 14
Sudda Khan, an illiterate ironsmith of Mandola village in Mahendragarh district, developed a working model in which he operates 10 water-sprinkler nozzles with the help of a camel. This model is a big energy-saver, as even the electric-powered engine normally used for the purpose can run seven nozzles.

Chander Bhan, an illiterate farm labourer of Ballam village in Rohtak district, has designed a compact and hygienic well with the help of common plastic pipes all by himself.

Baba Bhundu Ram, an elderly resident of Katesra village in Rohtak, has spent his entire life growing and protecting trees in and around the village. He used novel methods such as covering the lower trunks of the trees with thorny bushes to save them from stray animals.

The examples can be multiplied. However, the sad part was that the innovators hardly get any support or recognition from the society. Neither their innovations were popularised nor did they get any financial benefit from these.

It was with the thought of identifying such innovators and promoting their talent that Rohtak-based Srishti Gyan Kendra has launched a campaign. The voluntary organisation works as part of Honeybee Network under the aegis of the National Innovation Foundation (NIF).

The centre recently rolled out its vehicle, SAKSHAM-II, for the scouting and documentation of innovators, popularising their innovative techniques throughout the state and looking out for business linkages for the innovators.

It may be pertinent to mention here that several innovators identified by the Honeybee network have been awarded and honoured by the President of India.

“We work with a two-pronged strategy of identifying patentable innovations and referring the same to the NIF; and publicising the innovations which cannot be patented, but have great social relevance,” says Kamal Jeet, chief executive officer of the Srishti Gyan Kendra.

He says the vehicle would tour the entire state during which new innovators would be identified and their innovations popularised. Regarding the nomenclature of the vehicle, he maintains that SAKSHAM stands for the “System for Augmenting Knowledge among Society and Hunting Un-Acknowledged Minds” and since they had launched their first such vehicle in 2002, the new one has been christened SAKSHAM-II. The vehicle was brought before the people on the occasion of the Republic Day celebrations.

“The innovators are doing great work in the state. The volunteers of the Srishti Gyan Kendra are also putting in tremendous efforts in identifying and promoting them,” says Beena Sengar, a senior fellow-cum-innovation officer from Ahemdabad, who recently visited Haryana.

While a number of people have been developing innovative techniques in their quest of doing something different, this is perhaps for the first time that such a concerted attempt has been made to acknowledge and promote their talent. To put it in Beena’s words, “You have to see it to believe it.”



Roundabouts turn Ambala City ugly
Suman Bhatnagar

Ambala, February 14
The district administration has announced a number of times to beautify the roundabouts of Ambala City, but nothing has been done so far. Except one, most of the roundabouts are poorly maintained that gives an ugly look to the city.

Aggarsain Chowk, Tau Devi Lal Chowk, Polytechnic Chowk and Meera Chowk are the main roundabouts of the city. The municipal council never took any interest to beautify it. Moreover, it never made any attempt to persuade the people to keep city green.

Recently, the forest department has taken initiative to plant saplings on the roadside.

Initially, the Aggarsain Chowk was maintained by the Aggarwal Sabha as a statue of Maharaja Aggarsain was placed in the mid of the roundabout. But after the municipal council took the responsibility, things started going wrong. The mercury lamps fitted around the chowk are out of order for the past several months. This chowk is located on the Ambala-Hisar road where thousands of vehicles cross everyday. The citizens are of the view that the council should maintain it on the priority basis.

Manav Chowk, which was named as Tau Devi Lal Chowk during the previous government, was well maintained at that time. The state government had provided special budget for it maintenance. A statue of Devi Lal was also placed. However, now it is in a state of neglect. Mercury lights are not working and ornamental plants have withered away. The people now use it for playing cards and enjoying the sun in winter.

Similarly, the Polytechnic Chowk is in the worst of condition. This roundabout is located in the heart of the city, but the MC never made any effort to beautify it. Likewise, Mixi Chowk, Kalka Chowk and Meera Chowk too call for an urgent attention.

Recently, some social organisations and educational institutions have come forward for the beatification of these roundabouts. A public school in the city has offered the administration to name the roundabout in the name of their institution and in return, they would maintain the roundabout in a better way. Some other institutions have also sent their offers.

Local MLA Venod Sharma said a special drive would be launched soon to beautify the roundabouts and other important places of the city. He said the support of social organisations and educational institution would also be taken.



Starved, monkeys desert Kalesar forests
Nishikant Dwivedi
Tribune News Service

Yamunanagar, February 14
The population of monkeys has almost reduced to naught in Kalesar forests spread over 12,000 acres having common boundaries with Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Due to the lack of fruit-bearing trees in the forests, the monkeys have come out on roads and stationed themselves on trees alongside in the search of food and water where they are dying of malnutrition and in road accidents.

Though no data is available on the unnatural deaths of monkeys, sources in the wildlife department and people living in nearby villages say five to six monkeys are loosing lives every day.

Dr Anjum Rizvi, a scientist with the Zoological Survey of India, Dehradun, who had recently led a survey team to Kalesar, said her team during its one-week visit failed to spot any monkey. “It seems that all of them have shifted to the roads,” said Dr Rizvi.

She also revealed that the monkeys that were spotted on the roads appeared malnourished. “There is almost no fruit-bearing tree in Kalesar and these monkeys are coming out on roads in the search of food and water,” said Dr Rizvi. She said to save monkeys and birds the forest department must start a drive to plant fruit-bearing trees in the jungle. She said in other parks like the Corbett Tiger Reserve there were many fruit trees.

Sources in the department admitted that monkeys were suffering from malnutrition. There were trees of “ber” in the forests, but surprisingly monkeys were not consuming the fruit.

It is to be mentioned here that there is an acute shortage of water in the jungle and wild animals, including leopards, sambhar, wild bore and pigs, are crossing highway no. 73 A, passing through the forests, to reach the Yamuna and several of them die or get injured in road accidents.

The department, however, has started several programmes to meet the water shortage in the forests, including the digging of tubewells and water bodies.

During the day, hundreds of monkeys could be seen waiting for food items thrown by passersby on the highway. The department has erected several signboards urging people not to feed the monkeys. However, it serves little purpose and the religious sentiments for monkeys among the masses prevail. 



Rohtak no. 1 exporter of ‘black gold’
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
It is Rohtak's claim to fame, but for once, it has nothing to do with being Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda's constituency. The district along with Jhajjar has earned the distinction of being the biggest exporter of "black gold" in the state and the country.

As many as 70,000 Murrah buffaloes, also referred to as "black gold", have found their way into homes in Andhra Pradesh straight from the villages of Rohtak. Though only the medium quality breed of buffaloes producing 8 to 10 lt of milk have been exported, each Murrah has been bought for Rs 30,000 on an average.

This buffalo export began in October last year and the last of the consignments is ready for dispatch. The director-general, Dr K.S. Dangi, said the Murrah buffalo was exported following a tender floated by Andhra Pradesh of which the maximum percentage comes from Rohtak.

"We have a buffalo population of nearly 60 lakh, of which we believe there are 36 lakh Murrahs. In Rohtak, there are 2.7 lakh buffaloes of which 90 per cent are Murrahs, making it the single largest district in terms of buffalo population. During this recent tender, the maximum number of Murrahs, nearly 60 per cent, has been exported from Rohtak alone," Dangi maintains.

The other Murrah-rich districts which have contributed liberally towards the export order include Bhiwani, Hisar and Jind in addition to Jhajjar, which was a part of erstwhile Rohtak.

Though there is great demand for the buffalo from India as well as abroad, this export, the single largest in recent times, has come as an encouragement to farmers given the high price medium breed Murrahs have fetched. However, the department sees this only as a beginning and has stepped up efforts by way of various schemes to conserve and propagate superior quality germ plasm.

Under the Integrated Murrah Development Programme, breeders of buffaloes producing 11-15 lt of milk, 15-20 lts and above 20 lts are given Rs 3,000, Rs 6,000 and Rs 10,000, respectively.

With this, the department has been able to stall the exodus of quality Murrah germ plasm out of the state. On the other hand, the export of medium to low quality Murrahs has brought in funds to the tune of crores for the state. In addition, the state is now offering finances to farmers to rear the male calf of the species at their cost to protect superior quality germ plasm.



Philanthropic way to win over rural electorate
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Congress MP from Kurukshetra Naveen Jindal has floated a voluntary organisation in the name of his late father Om Prakash Jindal, through which he looks after the rural electorate of his constituency, which was once represented by his father.

The Om Prakash Jindal Gramin Jan Kalyan Sansthan has taken several initiatives to serve the rural population of Kurukshetra. Besides scholarships for poor students, it also gives pension to the needy senior citizens.

It also organises health and eye camps in which well-qualified doctors attend to patients at their doorsteps. Three fully equipped medical vans have been purchased by the Santhan. So far, it has organised 173 eye camps, benefiting about 70,000 persons. Over 32,000 spectacles have been distributed and over 6,500 persons have been operated for various eye ailments.

The sansthan has also provided toilets free of cost to the persons living below the poverty line. So far over 18,000 toilets have been installed.

Being a keen sportsman, Naveen has so far funded 85 gyms as well as distributed a large number of cricket and volleyball kits in villages.

The sansthan is equally sensitive to the issue of women empowerment. It has started several sewing training centres, food processing and jute centres for training women. In the past three years, Naveen has donated about Rs 2 crore for the wedding of poor girls.

Naveen, who fought a long legal battle to earn the right of hoisting the national flag on their houses by common citizens, has organised three "Tiranga rallies" through the sansthan in Kurukshetra. More such rallies are planned in the near future, he says.



State Cong takes party law for granted
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The constitution of the Congress party has gone for a toss over the Bhajan Lal affair. Even after one month of the suspension of Bhajan Lal, Dharampal Malik and Rakesh Kamboj from the party, none of the three have been officially intimated by the AICC. Nor any explanation has been sought from them for initiating further action.

The party constitution, fine-tuned periodically, has always been of little consequence to Haryana. The “homecoming” of Kuldeep Sharma as one of the party’s top functionaries is another instance in the recent past pointing to the gap between theory and practice in the party.

While the AICC leadership is wary of taking any decisive step against Bhajan Lal despite the banner of revolt openly raised by the Haryana strongman, Sharma, who was actually expelled from the party on the eve of the last Lok Sabha elections, returned to the Congress straight as the HPCC working president.

Scion of a traditional Congress family, Sharma now regrets his fighting the elections as an Independent candidate. When his name was announced as the working chief of HPCC, nobody was having any idea about when he had re-entered the party after his expulsion.

As a matter of fact, the HPCC office at Chandigarh did not even have a copy of the party’s amended constitution. It was not sent any by the AICC after the constitution was last amended. HPCC chief Phool Chand Mullana recently procured a copy of the book from the AICC headquarters in Delhi.

It was urgently needed for renewing the party membership as the membership of all Congressmen in Haryana had expired on December 31.

Though Bhajan Lal and all those Congressmen siding with him, including MLAs Dharampal Malik and Rakesh Kamboj, have not yet been formally expelled from the party, their membership would not be renewed.

The rebels are not expected to take notice of their exclusion from the list of the party members since it is just a technical matter without any bearing on political fortunes.



Inside Babudom
Reshuffle: 'Tainted' officers not affected
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Those who had been hoping that the state government would soon remove those HCS officers whose names figure in the PIL filed by Congress MLA from Palwal Karan Singh Dalal challenging their selection before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, from key posts, have been left disappointed by the reshuffle of officers last evening.

Only four HCS officers, who had been connected with this controversial selection in one way or the other, have been affected by the reshuffle. These officers have not necessarily been given insignificant posts. Hence, the reshuffle has failed to give an indication of the government's intention, if it has one, to oblige Dalal, who had recently demanded that work should be withdrawn from all "tainted" HCS officers immediately.

Hardeep Singh, who was the secretary of the Haryana Public Service Commission when the controversial HCS selection was made, has been shifted from the post of district development and panchayat officer (DDPO) to that of deputy secretary, cooperation, considered to be insignificant.

However, Surender Singh, who was posted as SDM, Samalkha, has been transferred as general manager (project) in the office of engineer-in-chief, irrigation. The irrigation post is no less significant than that of SDM in a subdivision. Surender Singh's selection is under the scanner of the court.

Another HCS officer, Vatsal Vashisht, has been removed as SDM-II, Gurgaon, a prestigious assignment, and posted as joint director (administration), town and country planning and urban estates, and urban local bodies.

Perhaps these officers, who allegedly made to the HCS on the strength of their relations in the INLD government, have godfathers in the Congress government as well.



Citizens’ Grievances
Demand for bus service

The residents of Shahabad require direct bus service from the town to Hardwar. Shahabad is situated on the GT Road and commuters from surrounding 50 villages come at local bus stand to board buses for different destinations. A sufficient number of passengers go to Hardwar daily but no direct bus facility is available to them. For this the commuters have to go to Ambala or Pipli and they have to face a lot of incontinences.

Surinder Pal Singh, Wadhawan
Shahabad Markanda

Poor roads

I was appalled to see the condition of the main road from bus stand to the District Institute of Educational Training (DIET) located on Dulana Road and towards Rewari Road in Mahendergarh town. The road is almost non-existent and has numerous craters and potholes. This is an important road that goes towards the Government College for Women, BDPO, office of the forest department and soil testing office, besides few other important offices. Is there any civil administration in the district or in this town worth the name to look after the civic amenities? The residents have now become passive and helpless onlookers.

Puran Singh, Nilokheri

Choked sewer

My long-pending request seeking clearance of the choked waste fluid discharge system of our house has failed to evoke any response from the Municipal Committee, Ambala Sadar. Though some workers were sent, they left the job half way on the pretext that the pipe passing under the long ramp made by a neighboring house is having small diameter. They said cleaning of the pipe was only possible by breaking the ramp for that the owner of the house is not cooperating. Because of no final solution so far, we are suffering and are leading a life of hell.

Rakesh Chaudhry
Ambala Cantt



Poet of the masses
S.D. Sharma

Famous as the Punjabi poet of the masses, Dr Rajinder Singh Bhatti has recently been awarded with the Bhai Santokh Singh Award 2007, which carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh.

“It is indeed elevating to see my literary contribution to Punjabi literature duly recognised with the highest Punjabi literary award,” says an elated Dr Bhatti, on being selected for the coveted award.

Sharing his views with The Tribune, humble and modest Bhatti (50), a professor at Kurukshetra University, maintains that there has been a burst of activity in Punjabi writing in Haryana with substantial publications in comparison to other languages and produced litterateurs of eminence.

Born on June 7, 1957, in a modest family at Kherishakrali village in Karnal district, young Rajinder spent his childhood and studied at the village school before moving to Kurukshetra University. His imaginative vigour of the rural upbringing in close proximity to the nature found its reflections in his simple poetic creations, which however, indicated a spark of innate talent in him.

Dr Bhatti’s dedicated devotion to literary pursuits was evident as he secured a gold medal in postgraduation in Punjabi before obtaining Ph D.

“Universal humanism, social issues, love and patriotism are the themes of my eight published works while two are in the offing. I have attempted to bring into focus the aspirations, stresses and strains of the common man as well as multiple dimensions of robust optimism, which makes the life moving.”

In fact, Bhatti claims to have graduated in poetry through literary criticism that demands enormous study and critical aptitude. One of his first two publications on critical appreciation (alochna) won him a Punjabi Sahit Akademy award in 2002, besides a poetry book “Shabdaan De Naal Naal” awarded in 2005.

The highest literary award, Dr Bhatti says will keep him inspiring for surging ahead with new horizons and his future projects include works in ghazal, chhand poetry, nazms and alochna of Sufiana poetry.

Divulging on the process of literary awards, Haryana Punjabi Sahit Akademy director C.R. Moudgil says the awards are finalised by the seven-member committee (mostly from other states), headed by the commissioner of higher education and there is no ambiguity or flaw in the system. The awards will be presented at a state-level function shortly, adds Moudgil.



Streetlights that save energy, earn money!
Arun Sharma
Tribune News Service

Panchkula, February 14
The city will switch over to energy saving bulbs for its street and road lights within a couple of weeks. The Haryana Renewable Energy Development Agency has decided to install the energy saving bulbs in two cities i.e. Panchkula and Hisar as pilot a project.

In fact, the change would be made without spending even a single penny. The scheme would even bring some earnings to the MC and HUDA, who are responsible for maintaining these lights. The system was already operational in Amritsar and Vijayawada in the South, said O.P. Sihag, executive officer, municipal committee.

A contract for the work has already been awarded to two agencies for Panchkula. There were around 15,000 street alight points in the city out of which municipal committee maintains 9,000 and the rest were the responsibility of HUDA, said Sihag.

Both agencies shell out nearly Rs 21 lakh as electricity bill every month, he added.

With the installation of the energy saving lights the bill would come down at least up to 50 per cent, the EO said, adding that the contractors would be responsible for installing and maintaining the lights for which they would get the amount being spent by HUDA and MC on electricity bill. The contractors could be penalised in case the lights were found not working, he said.

Though HUDA or the MC in their respective areas would provide new poles, the installation work would be carried out by the contractors only.



Bhattis’ MAD comes calling
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Haryanavis beware! Jaspal Bhatti is coming to spread his “MADness” in the state. Mind it, there is no vaccination yet to protect you from Bhatti’s “MADness”.

His wife Savita is the CEO of MAD (Media and Digital Arts), a film school set up by the Bhattis to train the youths for employment in the entertainment industry. She says they have plans to attract the Haryanavi youths to these emerging fields of employment.

Last week, Savita made an audio-visual presentation at the department of fine arts, Kurukshetra University before a large gathering of students.

The 40-minute presentation powered by Savita and Gaurav Garg, Animation Head, Mad Arts, gave a glimpse of employment avenues in the world of TV and films.

Savita says for the first time, the talent in Haryana has the opportunity of being trained in all aspects of film-making virtually at its doorsteps, rather than traveling to Pune or Mumbai. According to her, animation has an immense scope in video gaming, news presentation and animated films.

Savita says the animation course should be complemented with other techniques of film-making like direction, action and camera and lighting.

The Bhattis plans to encourage the artistes from Haryana by using their creative talent in the making of Hindi and Haryanavi content.



A comb that oils hair
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Heard of a comb having a provision of storing 3 g of oil, which drips out slowly when one combs the hair.

Such a comb, made of goat’s horn is on display at the ongoing 22nd Surajkund Crafts Mela at Faridabad. The craftsperson who skillfully crafts such a combs, Basudan Baag, hails from East Midnapore in West Bengal. He has been awarded a national award last year as a recognition of his skill.

Basudan Baag has designed the comb in the shape of a peacock with a tiny hole drilled from its head and tunneled to the base of the teeth of the comb so as to enable the oil to permeate.He says every strand of hair that goes between the teeth of the comb gets oiled, particularly the hair-roots.





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