Opposition parties desperate as issues dry up
Raman Mohan
Tribune News Service

Hisar, August 25
A political lull has descended on Haryana because of the lack of issues for political parties to rake up controversies.

Till recently, inflation had been providing opposition parties a stick with which to beat the ruling Congress. However, despite the spiralling prices, the issue has taken a back seat at least for the time being as the common man comes to grips with the harsh realities.

Among the main opposition parties, the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) has been trying hard to gain mileage from the proposed increase in power rates. Former finance minister Sampat Singh's marathon session with the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Authority on this issue reflects the party's desperation to rake up the issue.

To give Sampat Singh his due, it is a fact that he is among the most knowledgeable politicians on such issues having been a former power minister. However, the exercise was nevertheless a political overkill aimed at ensuring publicity for the party.

The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is placed much worse. It has no Haryana-specific issue to take on the ruling party. The party is also not clear whom it will tie up with in the next Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha elections. Its state leadership is thus confused about whom to target.

Coming to Kuldeep Bishnoi's Haryana Janhit Congress (BL), the nascent outfit has been at a loss ever since the Reliance SEZ issue and the confrontation between Bhajan Lal and Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda ended with the birth of this party. Though Bishnoi loses no opportunity to target the Congress and Hooda, it remains a fact that currently there is hardly an issue from which he can derive political capital.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is trying to carve a niche for itself. But its activities have been limited to propagating UP Chief Minister Mayawati's achievements in her first year in office. The party is neither in a position yet to rake up a political controversy nor is there any issue to confront the Congress.

The CPM, however, is a different story altogether. The party cadres keep taking up issues from time to time, but it, too, has no Haryana-specific issue.

The parties are now planning to use the Vidhan Sabha session planned for next month to grab public attention. The INLD is certain to lead the assault by exploiting the oratorical skills of its supremo Om Parkash Chautala with help on facts and statistics from Sampat Singh. Till then Haryanvis can live in relative peace.



Unveiling hope for Muslim women
Sunit Dhawan
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, August 25
A silent revolution is under way in the lives of 60 illiterate women of the Samalkha area of this district. These women aged between 15 and 35 years and belonging to the Muslim community, have braved all odds to attend a continuing education camp in progress at Patti Kalyana village, near Samalkha.

The 35-day camp has been organised by SEARCH, a Rohtak-based NGO, which is also the state resource centre for the National Literacy Mission, in collaboration with the Shaheed Virender Smarak Samiti, a voluntary organisation of Samalkha.

"After the camp, we plan to impart some practical entrepreneurial skills to these women and form their self-help groups to set up some cooperative cottage industry," says Pramod Gouri, director of SEARCH.

The camp, which is the second in the series of continuing education programmes, is unique in many respects.

Most women attending the camp come from the lower socio-economic strata. Hence, the NGO volunteers had a tough time convincing their families.

"Initially, they were reluctant in participating in activities such as watching documentary films and photographs and being taught by male teachers," says Manisha, an associate project coordinator with SEARCH.

However, the NGO volunteers roped in a local Muslim cleric (maulvi) and used their local volunteers to change people's mindset.

On their part, the women also evinced a keen interest in the camp and attended it with enthusiasm.

"We had identified 108 illiterate women from the minority community in the beginning… Of these, 90 got themselves enrolled for the camp and after some of them dropped out, 60 are coming regularly," says Gouri.

But this part - coming regularly - is not a cakewalk for these brave young women. To be able to attend the camp, they have to get up very early in the morning and finish the umpteen household chores before they can leave their houses. Many of them take their small children along.

In short, these women have not let anything, including social taboos, family resistance or religious dogmas, come their way to empowerment via literacy.

Their indomitable aspiration to bring a marked positive change in their lives has enabled them to take the first step in the right direction.

The efforts of the NGOs and the dedication of the participating women have earned appreciation from various quarters.

Director-general of the National Literacy Mission, Anita Kaul, personally visited the camp recently and interacted with the participants. She was all praise for the organisers as well as the students and underlined the need to organise more such camps.

The camp was inaugurated by Zoya Hasan, member of the National Minority Commission, and will continue till September 5.



Paddy scores
B.S. Malik

Sonepat, August 25
Encouraged by remunerative prices for the paddy crop last season and timely rains along with increased canal water supply this season, farmers in the district are giving priority to paddy cultivation over the cash crop of sugarcane.

Official reports reveal that the area under paddy plantation had increased from 69,500 hectares last year to 75,500 hectares this year. This is even beyond the expectation of the agriculture department, which had set a target of 70,000 hectares.

Another interesting factor about paddy plantation is that around 95 per cent of the area has been brought under the plantation of super fine varieties like Pusha-10, Pusha- 1121, PB-1, Pepsi variety (under contract farming) and Basmati.

On the other hand, area under sugarcane cultivation had witnessed a sharp decline of around 60 per cent this year in comparison to last year. Area under sugarcane cultivation, that was around 17,500 acres last year, has come down to 6,745 acres this year.

This has also become a cause of worry for sugar mill authorities at Sonepat and Gohana as with this decline both the mills will hardly run for two months. Mill authorities are reportedly planning to introduce new varieties, with new techniques of sowing, that would increase average per acre production of sugarcane to two to three times.

A number of sugarcane growers who have been cultivating sugarcane at a largescale commented that although sugarcane procurement prices in the state were the highest the annual net profit from paddy and wheat crop was far more than that of sugarcane.



Nimble behind bars
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Karnal, August 25
The National Integrated Forum of Artists and Activists (NIFAA), a socio-cultural organisation of the region, has decided to hold a dance workshop for prisoners in the district jail to promote peace. NIFAA, which has bagged the National Youth Award for best youth organisation of the country, would be holding the workshop as a part of the ongoing series of programmes against global terrorism and for universal brotherhood.

Chairman of the organisation Pritpal Singh Pannu says NIFAA has chalked out a detailed plan to hold various programmes under the banner of “quest for peace” throughout the year.

He says the organisation has already organised the first programme “Quest for Peace - A tribute to Hiroshima and Nagasaki Victims” on August 10 at Sri Ram Centre, in collaboration with Japan Information Centre, Embassy of Japan at New Delhi.

After the successful implementation of this programme, NIFAA is going to organise second programme under the banner “Quest for Peace - A tribute to victims of 9/11 and global terrorism”. This programme would be organised at St. Theresa Convent School with the support of Sister Reshmi, principal and school administrator.

The chairman says to spread the message of universal brotherhood, NIFAA has also engaged renowned choreographer of Assam Gauarav Hazarika to conduct one-week workshop for prisoners at Karnal jail. Felicitated with best director award at national dance and drama competition held at Cuttak, Hazarika has given direction in choreography in five feature films and 20 video films in Assam. After working with the National School of Drama and North-Eastern region Doordarshan, now Gaurav has joined hands with NIFAA.

In the week-long workshop, special training session for prisoners would be arranged in the morning at district prison with the help of the prison administrator and jail superintendent Jagjeet Singh.

Following this, a patriotic dance-drama presentation would be prepared by selecting talented artistes from amongst the jail prisoners. The presentation would be staged at the end of the workshop.

In the evening session, workshop would be conducted at NIFAA office in the district to select and train young artistes of the district. A special dance-drama on the tragic incident of 9/11 and global terrorism would be produced for staging on September 13th.

NIFAA has also requested American centre in New Delhi to present one documentary film on the 9/11 and global terrorism that could be shown in the district.



Cong leaders project Rahul as vital pillar
Ravi S Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, August 25
Congress leaders, especially of Haryana, now invoke the name the scion of Gandhi family Rahul Gandhi, uninhibitedly for social engineering and to symbolise the concept of secularism with the numero uno political family of the country.

Also, the Congress leaders have started openly projecting him as the mascot of the party and by the same logic as the most vital pillar to stem possible Mayawati-headed Bahujan Samaj Party’s expansion plans in Haryana. Although, the name of Rahul Gandhi was earlier resorted to by some leaders in the past in Haryana. The trend has apparently deepened, especially in the areas of Haryana falling in the national capital region (NCR), with the passage of time.

According to many, the phenomenon could be attributed to the weakening of regional sentiments in this area on account of its growing social and economic integration with the larger world. This area, by and large, wears a cosmopolitan look with industrialisation and modernisation and people from various parts of the country flocking here to set up houses and to work.

A section of Congress leaders celebrated the 38th birth anniversary of Rahul Gandhi, a few days ago, in Taoru, falling in Muslim dominated Mewat district and Faridabad. Taoru is part of old Faridabad parliamentary constituency and is the only assembly seat in South Haryana bagged by the INLD in the last assembly elections. The function was organised by a social organisation, Rajiv Gandhi Panch Parmesvar Mahashakti Sangthan headed by a senior Congress leader of the area, Khazan Singh. The function assumes importance as a functionary of the in charge of control room of the AICC, Maj Dalbir Singh (retd.), was the chief guest.

Addressing the gathering, Maj Dalbir Singh said Rahul Gandhi was the future of the country. The speakers on the occasion also gave a fresh insight into the concept of secularism, claiming that it was Congress government at the Centre headed by Indira Gandhi that got the Constitution amended to explicitly include the word in it. It was Rahul Gandhi who was further embedding the concept in the consciousness of the masses vide his ongoing campaign in the country, he added.



UHBVN to hear grievances in Rohtak
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, August 24
Here’s some good news for electricity consumers of Rohtak and nearby districts of the state. The Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam’s (UHBVN) Consumer Grievances Redressal Forum (CGRF), at present functioning from Panchkula, will now also hold sittings in Rohtak during the last week of every month with immediate effect.

The CGRF would function from the nigam rest house located on the Circular Road at Rohtak. An official spokesman for the nigam said the forum would function at Panchkula for the first three weeks and at Rohtak in the last week of every month.

After the new arrangement, the electricity consumers of Rohtak, Jhajjar, Jind, Sonepat and Panipat districts will not need to travel to Panchkula for seeking redressal of their grievances.

It is mandatory for the consumers to complete the procedure of complaint handling by lodging the complaint with the forum. If a complaint is not redressed within the specified time or if a consumer is not satisfied with the decision of the officers concerned, he/she can approach the forum at Panchkula or Rohtak.

The consumer has to provide a copy of the complaint made to the subdivisional officer, the executive engineer or the superintending engineer, along with the consumer complaint form to be submitted before the forum. The applicant is also required to attach a copy of the reply or decision taken by UHBVN officers on his complaint.

As per the UHBVN norms, a consumer can approach the forum for the following kind of grievances: quantity, quality, safety, reliability, efficiency, non-compliance of HERC orders, interruption or failure of power supply, voltage complaints, and problems in metering, billing problems, disconnections and reconnection of power supply.

However, consumers cannot approach the forum in cases pertaining to theft of electricity, unauthorised use of electricity, cases of accidents and penalties.

The cases pending in other fora or courts will also not be entertained by the forum.



Sale of park site
Faridabad MC in a spot
Ravi S Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridabad, August 25
The district administration is caught in a difficult situation over allegations that a person sold off a piece of land that was a park after fraudulently obtaining a favourable verdict from a Lok Adalat.

The land, measuring 250 sq yds, is located in the midst of Baniyawada colony in Ballabgarh. Local residents have constituted a committee to spearhead an agitation for the restoration of the land to park and initiating criminal proceedings against the seller and the buyer.

Members of the committee have recently met deputy commissioner Brijender Singh, and handed him a memorandum giving details of the land, its conversion into a park by the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF), and its subsequent sale and purchase.

The deputy commissioner has marked the case to Ballabgarh subdivisional magistrate Harish Chand Jain for an inquiry. The members of the committee have alleged that it was a common land and handed over to the MCF for converting it into a park.

The land was converted into a park and the foundation stone for the same was laid by then MLA of Ballabgarh Anand Sharma in 1998.

A resident of Lony in Ghaziabad district, Mohammad Umar, however, allegedly got verdict in his favour regarding the ownership of the land from a Lok Adalat on the basis of misrepresentation of facts in 2006. He sold the land to a resident of Chawla colony in Ballabgarh this year.

The transaction concerning the sale and purchase of the land was excecuted in Ballabgarh tehsil. The residents, who came to know about the transaction much later, want a probe into the matter and the registration of a criminal case against the culprits.

When contacted, Jain said he would be able to make comments only after verifying the revenue records.



Encroachers have a field day in Sonepat
B.S. Malik

Sonepat, August 25
Unrestricted encroachments upon the roads across the town by shopkeepers, vendors and workshop owners have become a chronic problem for the people of the town as well as others who visit the town.

There is hardly any shop or establishment her that has not encroached upon the public land or roads.

In the past, the municipal authorities have tried to take action against the encroachers, but it failed to restrict them for long and things got back to the same situation.

Shopkeepers of Kacha Quarter market as well as the authorities have hardly taken any lesson from the tragic incident of fire in the market on the eve of Diwali in November 1999 when 49 persons lost their lives.

The fire was caused by a short circuit in one of the shops, and due to encroachments on the narrow streets of the market, it became difficult for people to escape and fire fighting personnel to reach the spot. A large portion of the market was gutted.

Unfortunately, the shopkeepers have again encroached upon the areas in front of their shops. No safety measure is being followed particularly during the festival season. Similar situation prevailed when residents flocked the market on the eves of Teez and Rakshabandhan.

Now, under these circumstances, the authorities seem to be in no mood to take action against the offenders.

It is also being alleged that the shopkeepers make payments to MC officials on monthly basis.

While most shopkeepers have encroached upon the footpath area, vendors restrict the movement of traffic on the roads. Besides, at many places workshop owners carry out repairs of vehicles and other machinery equipments on the roads.

As told by several vendors or rehri wallas, they pay fees not only to the civic authorities but also pay to shopkeepers for using the road in front of their shops.

The situation is no better in residential colonies. The house owners have constructed ramps outside their houses that occupy some part of the street or road in front of their houses.

At many a places in these areas, there is no room for the vehicle to cross. Even the developed sectors of HUDA are not free from this problem.

It is also being alleged that most of the shopkeepers were paying monthly payments to civic body officials for these unauthorised encroachments.

In addition, roads at number of places in the town are dotted with potholes because of stagnation of rainwater, much to the inconvenience of motorists.

A number of residential localities of the town have permanent problem of improper drainage, as open drains generally remain choked.

A senior official of the municipal council on the condition of anonymity remarked that it was a permanent problem in every town of the state and existed for the past many decades.

“Sincerely speaking, it is very difficult to overcome this problem as it had become a habit of the people to encroach upon the government land,” he admitted.



Sirsa residents sore over poor roads
Sushil Manav
Tribune News Service

Sirsa, August 25
The lack of public amenities has become bane of Sirsa residents.

Potholed roads, heaps of garbage, stray animals, stinking stagnant water and huge traffic are the common problems for most of the local people.

Inner roads of Sirsa town are in such a condition that it is difficult to find way in between the potholes. The condition of begu road is particularly bad.

Moreover, it leads to the headquarters of Dera Sacha Sauda, where thousands of people visit every week. Vehicles could be seen jostling through the tract that barely bears the semblance of a road. The condition of circular road, Hisar road, rania chungi road and some inner roads of the town is also poor.

Parking is also a big problem in the town. Vehicles are so haphazardly parked on the circular road, sangwan chowk, begu road, Hisar road and major markets of the town that the breadth of the roads left for public use is reduced to less than half the actual width.

Though the authorities have drawn yellow lines on the either sides of the road to limit parking but these are rarely followed.

The flouting of traffic rules has become fashion. The infringement of the traffic rules is to such an extent that vehicles could often be seen crossing red light on the Lal Batti Chowk with impunity.

Heaps of garbage is another problem faced by residents of old localities.

The rania gate area of the town has been unofficially declared dumping ground for garbage and squalor collected, making it difficult for the residents to breathe fresh air.

The residents have made several attempts to impress upon the authorities to clear the garbage, but to no avail.

Stray animals feasting on the garbage has made the life of the residents all the more difficult.

The condition of the Anaj Mandi Road of the town is also in bad shape due to heaps of garbage collected on the sides.

Stagnant water is another nuisance during the monsoon season.

Filthy water not only offers an obnoxious stink throughout the day but also provide a breeding ground for mosquitoes.



Blogging route to voice concerns
Manish Sirhindi
Tribune News Service

Panipat, August 25
Concerned about their city, the youth here has discovered a new way to highlight views and suggestions. Community sites on the Internet is the newfound tool that the youths are using to reach out to the authorities which they believe can bring about the positive change to improve the quality of life in this textile hub of the nation.

Residents are using online community groups on famous websites to voice their feelings on various issues that directly or indirectly affect their lives. These groups send out invites to natives of the city to join and participate in various polls that are designed especially to understand the common feeling of the populace. They deal with issues ranging from reasons why the city is unclean and whether a sports stadium is better than a multiplex.

Vinod Kumar, a local resident, said such groups were fast emerging as a better way for the residents to make their presence felt. He said whether the authorities would react to the issues highlighted in these forums was a matter of time, but it had surely provided the community with a platform to generate a common feeling about local issues.

These forums also seem to be bridging the distance between the local residents who come together and present their opinions without any hitch.

“It is easy to click on the group on the site and participate in the polls. Everyone cannot go and meet the authorities to tell them what is going wrong in the city and who is responsible. But I think these forums will yield positive results,” said Naresh, a frequent net user, who spends his free time voting on the issues.

According to one of the polls on why the city is unclean? Around 34 per cent of the participants blamed the unplanned development of the city and its poor upkeep. While only 9 per cent said it was because of the lack of education. About 6 per cent believed it was the failure of the administration. Some participants also suggested ways through which cleanliness could be promoted.

Dharmpal, another regular participant, said members should come up with more topics related to the city, state and the nation. These groups could be used for gathering information about what the locals feel about issues like N-deal and role of politicians. Members should participate in discussion on issues concerning all.

Ravinder Singh, a local resident, said though these forums were a sure shot way to speak out, but it remained to be seen whether the local authorities would pick up clues from these forums and work for the betterment of the city.



Wild growth takes over mini secretariat park
B.S. Malik

Sonepat, August 25
Soon after taking over as the deputy commissioner of Sonepat last month, Ajit Balaji Joshi took an initiative to personally inspect the maintenance of public utility places like parks and play grounds in the city by paying surprise visits during early morning hours on his motorcycle.

But it is surprising that he could not take notice of a park, adjacent to his office, located within the premises of the mini-secretariat. The park is in a state of neglect as unwanted vegetation has grown all over during the rainy season. This has led to the breeding of mosquitoes and other insects.

The 3-4 ft long growth of wild plants has even covered the site of the foundation stone for the construction of a new multistorey building of the mini-secretariat. The foundation stone was laid by Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in September 2006.

Two swings were installed at the park for children, but now both are unusable as they lie in a damaged state.

The park used to cater to residents of around six colonies located on the Gohana road, but it has been isolated due to its pathetic condition.



BSNL subscribers rue signal problem
Hemant Kumar

Kalka, August 25
Resentment prevails among mobile subscribers of BSNL of Kalka, Pinjore and its adjoining villages over poor signals in the area.

They allege that since the last couple of months, they have been facing this problem.

Amrit Pal Singh, a professor, laments that he was a BSNL subscriber for more than six years but shifted to other service provider as he was facing connectivity problems.

A user from Pinjore, Shehbab Samuel, alleges that people in the area were facing inconvenience these days as their telephones were getting signals of other places. Consequently, they had to pay roaming charges even in local areas.

Landline subscribers of Kalka, Pinjore and its vicinity also complained of frequent disruption in phones and broadband services especially in the evening.

They stressed on the need to update of the telephone exchange of Kalka. They had also put forth this problem before BSNL GM Ambala VK Kakkar, during his visit to Kalka in 2003.

Keeping in view the inconvenience faced by the subscribers, the department had earlier decided to install 500 new towers in Haryana circle in January 2005.

The then chief general manager, Haryana telecom circle, Gokul Singh had given assurance that after the completion of the project, there would be no weak signals and signal overload problem, but nothing has happened till date and the problem remains the same, said the subscriber.



Private clinics under scanner
Ravinder Saini

Jhajjar, August 25
Ultrasound centres indulging in prenatal sex-determination tests beware as the district health authorities have decided to tighten the noose around medical practitioners violating the Pre-Natal Sex Diagnostic Test (PNDT) Act. 

Health department teams will check addresses in the register of private clinics and make elaborate inquiries from women who had visited these clinics. If these addresses were found fabricated, legal action would be initiated against clinics. Interestingly, the authorities have informed all such clinics about the drive so that they cannot make any excuse during raids.

Sources reveal that several private clinics in the district have been violating rules laid under the PNDT Act by recording incorrect information about patients, especially pregnant women coming for ultrasound.

Under the Act, it is compulsory for all private nursing homes having facility of ultrasound to fill Form-F before conducting such tests.

Clinics are legally bound to mention patient’s name, address, wards, name of the doctor who suggested ultrasound test, pregnancy period etc. in the form.

According to the sources, these clinics charge between Rs 2,000 and Rs 3,000 to disclose the sex of unborn child, depending on the case and patient’s paying capacity.

Some centres provide ultrasound and the facility of medical termination of pregnancy (MTP) under one roof. On being contacted, Jhajjar civil surgeon Om Prakash Hooda said private nursing homes had been informed about the drive. He warned such clinics against violations.

“A special team of officials sealed at least two ultrasound machines of private clinics on charge of the violation of the PNDT Act.

They also took record of ultrasound tests in their possession so that investigation could be made,” maintained Dr Hooda.



50,000 cataract operations and still counting
Nawal Kishore Rastogi

Dr Suresh Narayan Saxena
Dr Suresh Narayan Saxena

Rewari, August 25
With over 50,000 successful cataract operations and effectual treatment of over 1.5 lakh other eye patients to his credit, the septuagenarian eye specialist Dr Suresh Narayan Saxena has become a living legend in the domain of ophthalmology not only in Rewari, but also in the entire North India.

Of the total 50,000 plus cataract operations, over 20,000 were performed by Dr Saxena free of cost in 75 eye camps during the past five decades from 1959-2008. The camps were organised with the active collaboration of Lion’s Club, the National Society for Prevention of Blindness (NSPB) and the general public in Rewari as well as its surrounding rural areas.

It is again a respectful measure of his widespread recognition as an eminent ophthalmologist that apart from Haryana his patients also come from various parts of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Delhi suburbs.

Dr Saxena (78) along with eye specialist Dr Dheeraj Gupta has been efficiently managing the affairs of the department of ophthalmology at his Shree Komal Hospital here.

The septuagenarian doctor started his private practice from a rented accommodation here in 1959. He is now the chairman-cum-chief executive officer of a 70-bedded multi-speciality hospital.

Dr Saxena who headed the Indian Medical Association, Rewari, in 1980-81, also represented state at the annual All-India Ophthalmology Conference in Ahmedabad in 1989 and was also subsequently elected president of the Haryana state Ophthalmological Society in 1997. He is also the founder president of the National Society for Prevention of Blindness, Rewari.

He was awarded with Dr P.N. Behl Foundation award by the Delhi Medical Association in 1983-84, lifetime achievement award by the IMA Academy of Medical Specialties and global academic council award in 2004.

Though his valuable services to the society have been appreciated by the public, the lackadaisical approach of the union government and other higher institutions in granting him national recognition is something deplorable.



Citizen First
Degree courses under threat

With the changing trend of people rushing towards job-oriented/vocational courses, a remarkable shortfall in admissions in traditional courses is being felt since last few years. Opening of too many institutes offering technical and managerial courses are proving to be a threat to degree colleges of the region, which are no more able to attract talent. It is a matter of great concern for the authorities as well as the teaching community of such colleges.

However, a very appreciable move was initiated last year to bring a change by introducing semester system in undergraduate levels, which if implemented would include changes in the entire curriculum like introduction of project-based system, redesigned syllabi, emphasis on spoken English and computers, a paper on fundamentals of science and technology even for arts students et al.

The aim was to remove the disparity between a simple B.A. /B.Sc. and other technical courses to some level. The idea, however, did not appeal to some teachers and had to be kept pending for one reason or the other. But the move should be initiated again as it seems to be the only alternative if degree colleges are to sustain. The committees framed in the last session at Kurukshetra University can be reactivated for designing the curriculum and implementation of semester system from the next session.

Dr Vibha Aggarwal, Kurukshetra



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