SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
H A R Y A N A   E D I T I O N

Residential tower coming up near defence lab
Chandigarh, December 23
Bending backwards to ‘accommodate’ a private developer, the Town and Country Planning department of Haryana has finally defined a sector near a defence establishment in Panchkula for residential use.
The site of the Amazon County project in Panchkula. The site of the Amazon County project in Panchkula. Tribune photo: Nitin Mittal 

HUDA spent Rs. 7.11 cr on litigation in 3 yrs
Chandigarh, December 23
In nothing less than a rip-off, Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) spent a whooping Rs 7.11 crore on litigation in the last three years. Categorically asserting the “figure was not a small amount” and money was being distributed “without any purpose”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court says: “What has been experienced in number of cases is in none of the cases where HUDA was represented by a counsel, anything was done by him except getting his presence marked”.





YOUR TOWN
Chandigarh



EARLIER STORIES

Dabwali fire-hit recount ordeal
All-religion prayer marks 15th anniversary of tragedy
Dabwali, December 23
Hundreds of men and women today participated in a solemn function organised on the 15th anniversary of the Dabwali fire tragedy that devoured 442 persons, including 258 women and 136 children, during the annual function of a local school on December 23, 1995.

Forget financial crunch, ministers to get SUVs
Chandigarh, December 23
The Congress high command can cry itself hoarse but austerity measures are certainly not for Haryana. An indulgent Congress government in the state, no matter how hard pressed for finances it may be, has decided its ministers and Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPSs) deserve a New Year gift---flashy new sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

Quota stir to continue, says Jat Mahasabha
Jind, December 23
“The agitation launched by Jats demanding reservation in government jobs for the community is fully justified. The stir will continue in a peaceful manner till the demand is met,” said Yudhvir Singh, general secretary of the All-India Jat Mahasabha, at the “Ekta Rally” organised here today.

No proof against dera chief: CBI
Ambala, December 23
Special Magistrate Abdul Mazid has reserved the order for tomorrow in the closure report filed by the CBI in the Faqir Chand murder case in which Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is an accused.

Missing schoolgirl’s body found in drain
Rohtak, December 23
Mystery shrouds the death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl here, whose body was found in a drain on the outskirts of the city yesterday.

Bags of blood dumped on roadside
Sirsa, December 23
As many as 100 bags of human blood were found dumped on the roadside near Panjuana village on the Sirsa-Dabwali road today.

Hearing in Ruchika case adjourned
Ambala, December 23
Special Magistrate of the CBI court Abdul Mazid has adjourned the hearing in the closure reports filed by the CBI in cases registered on the complaints of Ruchika's father and brother Ashu. The case will now come up on for January 31.

Students damage another bus
Jind, December 23
The anger of students against Haryana Roadways is still on as they damaged another bus of the State Transport Department today. This is the third such incident in the city in the past three days.







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Residential tower coming up near defence lab
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Bending backwards to ‘accommodate’ a private developer, the Town and Country Planning department of Haryana has finally defined a sector near a defence establishment in Panchkula for residential use.

After failing to develop this sector on its own because of its proximity to the Terminal Ballistic Research Laboratory (TBRL), the state government has now given permission to Bhoomi Infrastructure Co. to set up an 18-storey project, Amazon Defence County, right at the foothills of the ecologically sensitive lower Shivaliks.

Now that the project is under way, this area, which falls in Sector 30, has been defined for residential use. The director, Town and Country Planning, T C Gupta, said they had given a licence to the company to develop this project only after the company got an NOC from the Ministry of Defence.

The Ministry of Defence prohibits any construction/development activity within a radius of 900 metres from the outer perimeter of any sensitive military establishment or station. The TBRL has a testing range where it evaluates explosives and warheads developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

It is involved with DRDO’s strategic programmes, including research and development of missiles, because of which all construction in its vicinity is regulated by the MoD.

Bhoomi Greens has now been allowed to go ahead with building 12 towers, each with 18 storeys, near this defence establishment. The company plans to build 792 flats and has already sold 448 units. Officials in Bhoomi Greens contend that their site lies outside the 900 metre restricted area. Col (retd) SS Deswal, one of the managing partners of Bhoomi Infrastructure Co., said as the project site was 920 metres from TBRL, they had been given an NOC by the MoD and there was no illegality involved whatsoever.

“We have got the required permission from the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.The Panchkula revenue officials assessed the distance from the TBRL boundary and found that our site was not a part of the restricted area near the defence establishment,” he explained.

He pointed out that two more residential colonies were located in that area and these had been approved by the Town and Country Planning department. “We are the third housing project coming up in this area,” he said. He said they also had the approval of experts of the IIT, Roorkee and a Singapore-based agency and both had said that by “keeping the green cover, we could go ahead with high-rise .”

However, with tenders being floated for the four-laning of NH-73 (Panchkula - Saharanpur), the location of the site (which is along this highway) could pose a problem and the developers asked to push the site back.

The rules say that no construction can be allowed within 30 metres outside the road reservation width. Also, a direct road access cannot be given to a commercial venture on a national highway. Col (retd) Deswal said they would follow the rules.

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HUDA spent Rs. 7.11 cr on litigation in 3 yrs
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
In nothing less than a rip-off, Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) spent a whooping Rs 7.11 crore on litigation in the last three years. Categorically asserting the “figure was not a small amount” and money was being distributed “without any purpose”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court says: “What has been experienced in number of cases is in none of the cases where HUDA was represented by a counsel, anything was done by him except getting his presence marked”.

The court also rapped the Advocate-General’s office, HUDA and its Chief Administrator on knuckles. Mincing no words, Justice Rajesh Bindal asserted Chief Administrator DPS Nagal believes he is “an emperor”.

Justice Bindal ruled: “The facts clearly establish public money is being wasted by HUDA, instead of being used for the betterment of facilities provided to the residents of the areas developed by it.”

“Crores of rupees are being distributed annually without any purpose. HUDA is not concerned because its officers only know about their rights and forget that they are public servants and have been appointed to perform duties and serve the people. The ultimate sufferers are the allottees of plots to whom the burden of enhanced compensation, if any, is passed on along with litigation cost”.

Directing the forwarding of the order’s copy to Chief Secretary, Haryana, “for information and also appropriate action, if considered necessary”, Justice Bindal asserted: “Time is not far off when the public will question these authorities, the manner they are conducting themselves”. The strictures came on state appeal against Jharsa village gram panchayat for reducing compensation to landowners for acquired land. Holding the appeal to be without merit, Justice Bindal observed condonation of “huge delay of 238 days in filing the appeal” was not justified.

Taking note of non-appearance of HUDA counsel, Justice Bindal ruled: “While recording that engagement of a counsel to put in appearance in a case where HUDA was merely a proforma respondent and still non-appearance of the counsel was prima facie resulting in wastage of public money, Administrator, HUDA, Gurgaon, was required to file an affidavit…”

“Coming to the claim of HUDA that it had legal right to represent itself, probably, the deponent, DPS Nagal, considered himself as emperor who only know about his rights. He forgot he is a public servant who only has to perform certain duties and one of the foremost duty is to work in the best interest of the state or its instrumentality and see public money is not wasted.” 

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Dabwali fire-hit recount ordeal
All-religion prayer marks 15th anniversary of tragedy
Sushil Manav/TNS

Dabwali, December 23
Hundreds of men and women today participated in a solemn function organised on the 15th anniversary of the Dabwali fire tragedy that devoured 442 persons, including 258 women and 136 children, during the annual function of a local school on December 23, 1995.

As many as 150 persons had received serious burn injuries in the fire tragedy.

The sombre occasion, that included an all-religion prayer, was organised at a memorial built on Rajiv Marriage Palace, where the worst fire tragedy of the country occurred 15 years ago.

Those who lost their near and dear ones and those who suffered burn injuries in the fire participated in the function. The victims and their families recounted the horror and had bitter experiences to share about their ordeals.

The victims were critical of politicians and parties and said they had done nothing except shedding crocodile tears on their miseries.

Vinod Bansal, general secretary of the Dabwali Fire Victims Association, alleged that the promise of a 100-bedded hospital made by the present government was still hanging fire. “Successive governments have made a plethora of promises to us only to forget these later,” alleged a victim.

“We do not have any facilities for the treatment of burns in Dabwali and we are not rich enough to afford treatment outside,” complained another victim.

Victims lament that compensation had come after 14 years of the incident and that too was “little”.

The victims spoke bitterly about the management of DAV School here, which, they alleged, went in appeal before the Supreme Court to delay compensation to the victims.

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Forget financial crunch, ministers to get SUVs
Geetanjali Gayatri
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
The Congress high command can cry itself hoarse but austerity measures are certainly not for Haryana. An indulgent Congress government in the state, no matter how hard pressed for finances it may be, has decided its ministers and Chief Parliamentary Secretaries (CPSs) deserve a New Year gift---flashy new sports utility vehicles (SUVs).

While the ministers will get the Rs 23 lakh Honda CRV to zip around, the Toyota Fortuner has been chosen for the nine CPSs. The latter will also have the choice of opting for a Honda CRV instead if they so desire.

This extravagance will cost the government nearly Rs 5 crore. Of the 12 new Honda CRVs, nine vehicles will go to the ministers while the Chief Secretary and the Principal secretary to Chief Minister will get a replacement each. The one remaining car will go to the Chief Minister’s residence while Haryana Vidhan Sabha Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition will get nothing.

The approval for the vehicles has come from Haryana Finance Minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav who has been busy with resource-mobilisation committee meetings to explore generation of funds over the past one month. He seems to have had no qualms in approving the 21 new SUVs for himself and his colleagues today.

The CRVs, negotiated for a price of Rs 21.88 lakh with Honda, will replace the Toyota Camary in the ministers’ stable while the Toyota Fortuner, costing the government Rs 18.95 lakh, will replace the fleet of Sonatas at their disposal.

Interestingly, the new vehicles meant for ministers may just end up as oil-guzzlers since they run on petrol and have a performance average of around 9 km per litre in the city. The Honda CRVs have a ground clearance of 185 mm while the Fortuner has a higher ground clearance of 221 mm.

The Congress, while in the Opposition in 2003, had created a ruckus in the assembly and outside when the then Cabinet led by Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala had “indulged” itself by buying Sonatas.

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Quota stir to continue, says Jat Mahasabha
Tribune News Service

Jind, December 23
“The agitation launched by Jats demanding reservation in government jobs for the community is fully justified. The stir will continue in a peaceful manner till the demand is met,” said Yudhvir Singh, general secretary of the All-India Jat Mahasabha, at the “Ekta Rally” organised here today.

The head of the mahasabha and veteran actor-cum-wrestler, Dara Singh, was, however, conspicuous by his absence.

Yudhvir justified the quota demand saying that the community was hardly left with agricultural land, which used to be the mainstay of their survival. He said a large chunk of the population was left with no option but to opt for jobs and hence quota in government jobs for the community was the need of the hour.

He said the agitation would continue till the demand was met as it was a question of the survival of the community.

He said the demand for reservation was raised many years ago, when the then Union Government announced the implementation of the Mandal Commision report.

The Jats were excluded from it under a “conspiracy” hatched by vested political interests, he alleged.

He said when several states, including UP, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Himachal Pradesh had already provided quota to the Jat community, why was it that the Haryana Government and the Central government had not implemented it so far.

The president of the state unit of the mahasabha, Om Prakash Maan, and former minister Dharampal Malik were among others who addressed the gathering.

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No proof against dera chief: CBI
Our Correspondent

Ambala, December 23
Special Magistrate Abdul Mazid has reserved the order for tomorrow in the closure report filed by the CBI in the Faqir Chand murder case in which Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh is an accused.

Faqir Chand, a senior functionary of Dera Sacha Sauda, has been missing since 1991. The CBI in its closure report has stated that there is no evidence against the dera chief and others.

Amrish Gandhi and Sartaj Singh appeared on behalf of complainant Ram Kumar Bishnoi, brother of Faqir Chand, alleging that the CBI had not conducted the inquiry in a proper manner. They requested the court not to accept the closure report. The CBI counsel said proper legal procedure had been adopted while filing the closer report. The court reserved the order for tomorrow.

Sirsa: The police and security guards providing protection to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh had a tough time when the SUV in which he was returning after appearing in the CBI court, Ambala, developed a snag midway.

After appearing before the CBI court through video- conferencing from here, he was returning to his dera when the black SUV developed a snag near the Delhi bridge. The security personnel covered the vehicle with a tarpaulin, shifted the dera chief to an identical SUV and proceeded.

Earlier, he reached the local District Courts complex at 9.50 am to appear before the CBI court in the Ranjit Singh murder case as well as another case pertaining to exploitation of a dera sadhvi.

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Missing schoolgirl’s body found in drain
Tribune News Service

Rohtak, December 23
Mystery shrouds the death of a 14-year-old schoolgirl here, whose body was found in a drain on the outskirts of the city yesterday.

The girl had gone missing on December 3 while she was preparing to go to her school. The police is reported to have rounded up some youths in this connection after a complaint was lodged by the family.

The girl, identified as Tapasya, aka Jyoti, a resident of Chunnipura locality here, was a student of Class IX in a local private school.

Her father had lodged a complaint with the police suspecting the hand of three youths, all local residents, behind her disappearance. Though the police rounded up the suspects, no breakthrough could be achieved.

The police then zeroed in on Mohan Lal, domestic help of the family who hails from UP.

It is claimed that the girl had received some messages of suspected nature.

The girl’s decomposed body was found from a drain and it had been tied with stones to ensure that it did not come to the surface of the water.

The postmortem examination of the body disclosed that the girl died of strangulation and there was no trace of sexual assault.

“The victim had left her house to go to school but she did not board the school bus. It is suspected that she was strangled with her school tie and then her body dumped in the drain. The investigation is on and the culprit is likely to be traced soon as some clues have been found,” claimed SSP Satish Balan.

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Bags of blood dumped on roadside

Sirsa, December 23
As many as 100 bags of human blood were found dumped on the roadside near Panjuana village on the Sirsa-Dabwali road today.

Yellow bags used by hospitals for packing human placenta, infected bandages and swabs were recovered from the spot.

Syringes, needles and swabs were also found lying scattered all over the place.

The biomedical waste has been thrown in the open in utter neglect of the rules.

Dr Viresh Bhushan, Deputy Civil Surgeon, Sirsa, who went to the spot, said it appeared to be the handiwork of the service provider, who was supposed to dispose of the biomedical waste. — TNS

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Hearing in Ruchika case adjourned

Ambala, December 23
Special Magistrate of the CBI court Abdul Mazid has adjourned the hearing in the closure reports filed by the CBI in cases registered on the complaints of Ruchika's father and brother Ashu. The case will now come up on for January 31.

The court issued the copy of the report to Ashu today while SC Girhotra had already acquired the copy of the same on Nov 25. It is to be mentioned that the CBI had file two closure reports in connection with the complaints of Girhotra and Ashu on November 10 in which it said the allegations leveled by them against former DGP SPS Rathore were found baseless. — TNS

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Students damage another bus

Jind, December 23
The anger of students against Haryana Roadways is still on as they damaged another bus of the State Transport Department today. This is the third such incident in the city in the past three days.

A total of four buses have been damaged by the students who have been opposing the diversion of the buses by the authorities concerned.

The police has stepped up patrolling and deputed cops at various areas in the town to check such incidents. However, no one has been booked in this regard so far.

Several students, mostly from the Government Senior Secondary School here, halted a bus(HR-56-2956) and threw stones at it. — TNS

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