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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Haryana. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Haryana. Sort by date Show all posts

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Analysis: Sants and Sinners - How spirituality, crime are a deadly cocktail in Punjab, Haryana

The Sant Rampal episode has exposed the dark underbelly of the flourishing network of so-called spiritual gurus in Haryana and Punjab. 

Goons trained as commandos by former military and police personnel, mind-numbing affluence that is in clear conflict with the message of simplicity they preach, bloody property disputes, thousands of devotes in rural areas, political leaders at their beck and finally, that audacious assertion that they are above the law – a potent mix of religion, con act, muscle and money power continues to dominate the lives of people in the states.

Friday, August 12, 2016

EDUCATING INDIA 1 - The Haryana Paradox: As Enrolment Falls In Govt Schools, Teachers Competing For Jobs

By LIKHAVEER | INNLIVE

The fear of being declared ‘surplus’ is forcing government school teachers to canvass in their local communities for admissions.

Anil Kumar is a volunteer social science teacher at the Government High School in Umrawat, in Bhiwani district of Haryana. He teaches Classes 6 to 10, two hours a day on all school days. For a year until he came along, the school had no social science teacher. Principal Wazir Singh, a former high school mathematics teacher, and the school’s science teachers stood in during social science classes. “It's just not the same thing,” Wazir Singh said, “as having a trained subject teacher.”

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Security For Rape-Murder Accused - And A Dead Body!

Strange as it may sound, security agencies in Punjab and Haryana have provided the highest security cover to three cult leaders - one who has been dead for almost a year and two other controversial sect leaders with criminal cases of rape, murder and religious blasphemy slapped on them.

Punjab Police and central security agencies continue to guard the place 24x7 where the body of Ashutosh Maharaj, the controversial leader of the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan (DJJS), is lying at his sect headquarters at Nurmahal near Punjab's Jalandhar city.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Why 'Manmohan' Doesn’t Respond To 'Manmohan Singh'?

By Kajol Singh / INN Bureau

The DoPT under the prime minister has ignored five reminders from his own PMO to shield Haryana Chief Minister BS Hooda against a CBI probe. The pressure is mounting on V Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Personnel and Training (DoPT), to take up the case of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal who was suspended on 28 July for taking on the sand mafia in Uttar Pradesh. But he may recall issuing a confidential note on 16 February 2012, arguing exactly the opposite.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Focus: What More Baba Ramdev Get In Addition To Cabinet Status And Y-Category Security In Haryana?

The Bharatiya Janata Party government in Haryana announced its decision to bestow Ramdev with the status of a cabinet minister. 

Ramdev, who rose to fame over the last decade through television broadcasts of his yoga instructional camps, had expressed support for the BJP’s 2014 election campaign. In January, two months after the BJP came to power in Haryana, the state government appointed him the state's brand ambassador to promote ayurveda and yoga. 

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Focus: 'Najafgarh Lake' Wiped Off From The Map As Haryana And Delhi Govts Leave Lake From Records

The future seems to be bleak for the Najafgarh jheel, and it’s all because of governmental apathy. The Delhi government and the Haryana government are apparently not much bothered about the restoration of the lake — a wetland vital for the revival of the water table in Gurgaon and South Delhi. 

While the Delhi government plainly says that the lake does not exist anymore within the boundary of the Capital, the Haryana government is completely indifferent to the matter. 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

'HOME INCEST', HARYANA'S SHAMEFUL SOCIAL HERITAGE

By CJ Aaradhya Ahuja in NCR

It was a national debate on a news channel. Tempers were running high, so were the decibels. The subject was explosive - Haryana's khaps and their diktats. In the midst of this charged atmosphere, a voice rose above the rest, silencing them all. Seema, a law graduate and resident of Karora village, made an allegation that changed the course of the debate. Her brother had been executed for marrying a woman from the same gotra, but that was not what Seema wanted to talk about on the primetime show. It was another shameful reality of Haryana villages she wanted to expose - incest.

"Khaps should look into their homes before passing fatwas on lovers and crying hoarse about honour. Incest is rampant in the state and virtually every home is affected. Where is the honour anyway ?" she screamed.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Was Haryana CM Hooda, Robert Vadra’s Political Stooge?

By Vivek Kaul / Delhi

Crony capitalism needs a businessman and a helpful politician to pull it off. In the case of Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Sonia Gandhi, the friendly politician could well be Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Haryana Chief Minister.

The Hooda government’s role in helping Vadra make big money from real estate deals is not without precedent. One of the original crony capitalists in this country was Sanjay Gandhi, son of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. His business dream of making a low-priced car also depended on a friendly Haryana Chief Minister, Bansi Lal.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

MSG Movie: Religion Today Is Bizarre When Not Barbaric

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh has been accused of serious charges of rape and murder and has been in midst of deadly conflict with the Sikhs in the past.

With the CBI filing FIR against Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, in connection with the alleged forced castration of his followers at his Sirsa-based dera in Haryana, the already contested and muddled religious landscape of Punjab and Haryana is once again back in the limelight. Religion today is often bizarre when not barbaric. Punjab and Haryana, of late, have provided us with a range of religious spectacle to demonstrate this.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Deprived Dalits Seek Refuge in Democracy

By M H Ahssan

In April, a Jat boy threw stones at a Dalit boy’s dog in Hissar, Haryana,. The Dalit boy objected, the Jats took offense at this impudence from one of the lowly Balmiki community and attacked them all, looting, vandalising and setting them on fire. Those who could, fled. Polio-afflicted Suman, 17, and her elderly father could not, and they were burnt alive.

In all, about 25 people were injured, 35 houses destroyed and dozens of homes looted and ransacked. The police saw it all and refused to register complaints till forced. The Jats threatened the Balmiki community with dire consequences if they didn’t withdraw their police complaint. Finally, 152 families were forced off their land. They fled to Delhi and are camping in a Dalit temple, hundreds of them, with babies and children and the old and the ailing. They live on alms, with very little food and water in the blazing heat. Their lives have been put on hold, but at least they are alive. If they returned to their homes, they would be killed by the Jats.

Now the Supreme Court has asked the Haryana government what the state had done to punish the guilty and rehabilitate the ousted. That would be interesting to see. In Haryana, caste equations are preserved like family heirlooms and Dalits are murdered, raped and denigrated with impunity.

It was in Haryana’s Jhajjar that five Dalits were beaten to death by the police and upper caste men in a police chowki some years ago, apparently for killing a cow. It should give us an idea of the value of a Dalit human life in Haryana.

Sadly for the Haryana government, the Hissar incident rolled swiftly out of Mirchpur village and onto the national platform. The Lok Sabha strongly condemned it, led by Speaker Meira Kumar, herself a Dalit leader. Rahul Gandhi zipped off to Mirchpur and met the victims. Sonia Gandhi sent a strong letter to Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda. Activists filed court cases. And now the SC wants an explanation.

Which is excellent. But my fear is that we will look at this incident as an isolated case of mob fury triggered by an argument, blaming hot-headed, hot-blooded youngsters. The larger issue of atrocities against Dalits will not be examined enough. Even if those immediately guilty are punished, the guilt of society and the continuing caste bias will not be addressed definitively. In effect, we will refuse to look at our own failures, at the failure of governance and the apathy of civil society. We will not look at this as a failure of democracy.

Just as the verdict for the murder of Surekha Bhootmange, her daughter and two sons in Maharashtra’s Khairlanji in 2006 held the murderers guilty, but not the system. By not invoking the Prevention of Atrocities against SCs and STs Act, the verdict — which sentenced six to death and two to life imprisonment — refused to look at the larger picture. The CBI invoked the Act, among other submissions, to appeal against the acquittal of some and the final verdict is expected this month.

But at least there are eyewitness accounts both in Khairlanji and in Mirchpur. Bhaiyyalal Bhootmange, Surekha’s husband, hid and watched the horrific torture and killing of his wife, daughter and sons, and fled for his life thereafter. In Mirchpur, Suman’s brother Amar hid and watched the mob set his father and sister on fire, and ran for his life. So we have eyewitnesses. Those who were so dreadfully disempowered that they had secretly watched their loved ones being brutally murdered, then turned around and fled.

The father, the husband, the son, the brother who could not protect their dear ones from medieval savagery are now putting their faith in the justice system, and in our democracy. And it must not fail them again.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Indian Wrestling: Pinned Down, Not Knocked Out

Wrestling may have been dropped as a sport from the Olympics. But India’s domestic wrestling circuit will continue to raise champions.

When London Olymics Silver medallist Sushil Kumar takes to the mud arena at a local wrestling competition in Jhajjar, Haryana, he fails to draw the crowd’s adulation. The roars from the crowd atop tractors and salutary nods from hookah smoking elders are reserved for the 22- year-old Rohit Patel, for his exceptional pin of an opponent, that sealed him a victory and a place in the quarter-finals.

As Kumar takes his seat in the VIP enclave, Patel, who hails from Indore, heads back to his car to take a one-hour break before the next fight. Patel a two time national gold-medallist, is the darling of the mud-wrestling circuit has been decorated with the Bharat Kumar, the Bharat Kesari (best heavyweight wrestler), and the Rustom-e-Hind (wrestling champion of India) — the highest titles a wrestler could aspire for in India. Sushil meanwhile has achieved what Patel and hundreds of wrestlers across India are aiming for — a shot at Olympic glory.

“In mud-wrestling, the aim is to pin down the opponent. I can defeat any international wrestler on mud,” says Patel as he cools off in his car. An hour later, Patel loses in the semi-finals to an opponent who eventually wins the Jhajjar tournament, which has a cash prize of Rs 2 lakh and a silver mace as trophy. “The competition here is even tougher than the nationals. But this is a big dangal (tournament) with a huge cash prize. The next dangal in Haryana has a Rs 3.5 lakh prize. I’ll be aiming for that one,” says Patel as he walks off defeated, yet motivated with a cash prize of Rs 31,000 for finishing fourth in the tournament.

Before the event winds up, an announcement is made calling for all wrestlers and coaches across the country to assemble at the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi on 23 March. These men would walk to the Rashtrapati Bhavan to urge the government of India to intervene in a crisis that has gripped international wrestling. “It is important to keep our wrestlers motivated until wrestling is brought back to the Olympic Games. After Sushil Kumar and Yogendra Dutt made India proud at the Olympics, every wrestler now dreams of an Olympic medal. Our wrestlers are motivated enough to win in any format and we will not allow this talent to go waste because of bureaucratic apathy,” says Captain Satbir Gulia, organiser of the Jhajjar dangal.

International wrestling suffered a major setback this year after the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) was caught napping. In February, wrestling was dropped as a sport from the Olympics after FILA representatives failed to attend an International Olympics Committee (IOC) meeting in Geneva. However, there is optimism that sustained pressure would lead to a reversal of the IOC’s decision in May when the next round of discussions on potential sporting disciplines are scheduled.

Even though India as a nation can no longer participate in the Olympics because of the Indian Olympic Association’s suspension over electoral irregularities, wrestlers in India do not mind contesting under the Olympic flag and taking on the world’s best for a chance to bite into six gram of Olympic gold.

“I inspire my students by constantly reminding them of what people like Kumar and Dutt have achieved. It takes a lot of hard work to train as a wrestler and for every single one of my boys, Olympics is the ultimate platform to shine. There is nothing more demotivating than taking away a dream. But for wrestlers, overcoming such temporary disappointments is not a hard task,” says Ashok Garg, a wrestling coach and former national wrestler who represented India at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. That is where tournaments like the one in Jhajjar are helping wrestlers retain their confidence and prepare to make their respective akharas and gurus proud.

The fact that cash prizes in some dangals are at par with a man of the match award in corporate sponsored events like the Indian Premier League, speaks volumes about the kind of popular support these tournaments enjoy. The organising budgets of local dangals often go up to Rs 30 lakh; the one in Jhajjar though cost half that money.

Most of the money comes from local businessmen, politicians and former wrestlers. All contributors are openly feted with turbans and the contributions are announced on loudspeakers through the tournament. Even if a wrestler loses a bout, elders who liked the way he fought give him money. Some tournaments like the one in Jhajjar, give money to even the losing wrestlers. In addition, the audience often bet amongst themselves and when someone makes money off a wrestler he ensures the player is given a token of appreciation in the form of money.

The sport also enjoys abundant political patronage. Like in other states such as UP and Maharashtra, dangals in Haryana are also patronised by politicians. The names of the political patrons are repeatedly announced at dangals to generate goodwill among the people who come from nearby villages to watch these fights.

With the 2014 elections on the horizon, there is a renewed attempt at raising the stakes at these dangals in terms of cash prizes and organisational grandeur. Often, as the election season approaches, politicians enlist many of these wrestlers as polling agents or for canvassing voters. Many wrestlers who retire from the national level are recruited as personal security officers of Haryana’s politicians.

The performance of Indian wrestlers in 2012 London Olympics has changed the priorities and motivational benchmarks of budding wrestlers. Twenty-year-old Sunil Kumar started wrestling at the age of 15. Coming from a family of wrestlers, it was an obvious choice. But after seeing Sushil Kumar and Yogendra Dutt’s performance last year, Sunil’s mind changed. “I have a photo of Sushil on my wall. I practise for six hours a day and often look up to their feats and dream that I will achieve that someday,” says Sunil as he dusts off the mud and sweat after his fight.

There is growing displeasure among akharas in Haryana and across India about the IOC’s ‘illogical’ decision to dismiss wrestling as a sport from the list of Olympics sports. In Haryana, the Congress has been quick to gauge the mood and project itself as the saviour of the traditional sport. “I have spoken to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Jitendra Singh,” says Deepender Singh Hooda, Congress MP and chief guest at the Jhajjar dangal. “Former sports minister Ajay Maken has written to his counterparts in 70 countries which participate in wrestling and I am sure that with sustained efforts , the IOA will withdraw its decision.”

Indian mud wrestlers meanwhile are making the most of the dangal season in Haryana. But money is not something that inspires them anymore. It is only an Olympic medal and crowd adulation that will satisfy these mud warriors.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Shame India: Everest Climber Sells Vegetables In Poverty

By Sukhwinder Singh | Haryana

In May this year, 24-year-old Ram Lal scaled the world’s highest peak — Mount Everest. Today, the young man from Tohana town in Fatehabad district pushes a vegetable cart through the streets to take care of his bed-ridden father and fend for the family. 
    
Ram is yet to receive the cash award of Rs 5 lakh that Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda announced soon after he hoisted the tricolour at Everest. Another Everest climber, Mamta Sodha, was recently appointed deputy SP and awarded Rs 21 lakh. 

Monday, August 05, 2013

Why Neither Telangana Nor Andhra Need Hyd As Capital?

By M H Ahssan / INN Bureau

Who should get Hyderabad, and how soon, will become a major bone of contention between the to-be-created state of Telangana and the rump state of Seemandhra left behind after the carve-up.

By suggesting that Hyderabad should be the joint capital of the two states or that it should be given to Telangana after five or 10 years, the centre will only keep the wound festering. If Hyderabad has to go to Telangana, it might as well be given upfront. Seemandhra can then start the process of building its own capital – assuming it needs one at all. This writer believes Seemandhra does not need either Hyderabad or its own capital to flourish.

Friday, March 20, 2009

India battles its urban wild

By Priyanka Bhardwaj

Often it becomes apparent that India's slow-to-move government agencies are caught in a time warp, struggling to catch up with the efficient private sector rooted in high-tech paperless functioning.

Take the case of the state of Haryana that adjoins Delhi and boasts of modern cities such as Chandigarh and Gurgaon, the hub of multinational, global outsourcing and software firms, operating out of state-of-the-art office spaces.

Saddled with reams of hard copy files, the Haryana police, which does not boast the best anti-crime record, has been grappling with rats devouring official records stored in usually dilapidated conditions.

To deal with file eating rodents, Haryana officials have arrived at a solution that may seem rather offbeat. Rather than spruce and clean up the place, the police are experimenting with white mice to take on the numerous black rats.

A senior police official in the Haryana city of Karnal was quoted as saying: “We have brought two white rats in on a trial basis. We have been told that white mice do not eat paper and cloth and are a deterrent for the black ones.”

The Haryana case follows the instances of the income tax office in New Delhi and the Delhi Development Authority (that deals with land allotment and real estate development), which are officially allowed to keep cats.

They have been doing so for years to keep mice from nibbling the mountains of stored paperwork in the face of the slow computerization of government offices.

This, of course is also a reflection of overall lax government functioning, whether in education, law and order, health or infrastructure such as roads and power, Though India has been plague-free from 1966, in 1994 there was an outbreak that affected Maharashtra and Gujarat. The city of Surat was badly impacted.

Indeed, even as India transitions as an emerging economy and global business hub, the intermeshing of high growth pockets with arenas that still need reform creates its own set of peculiarities.

Though the government has been one of the slowest to change and move with the times, there are other outfits battling rodents too. The state-owned Indian Railways, the biggest network in the world, has been fighting a losing battle with rats for a while now.

Over a million rats are estimated to infest the extremely dirty and busy four acre area of the New Delhi railway station, a contrast from the glitzy malls that sprinkle the city and the spotless metro train service.

The rodents have been causing a nuisance gnawing at cables, stores and even affecting signaling systems.

Earlier this month, following several failed attempts, desperate rail officials handed a contract of Rs1.7 million (US$33,000) to a private firm to exterminate the menace.

“All our earlier attempts failed miserably to control the rats. We have handed over the area to the firm and hope for a radical change in the next one month itself,'' said a senior railway official.

Indeed, although India is changing there is a long way to go. For example, first time foreign visitors to New Delhi are shocked to witness animals that freely roam the streets, alongside traffic jams, modern expressways, flyovers and the world class metro. It is estimated that more than 50,000 cows and buffaloes crowd the roads along with armies' of monkeys, pigs, stray dogs, camels and an occasional elephant, often causing chaos and accidents.

Traffic routinely comes to a halt on highways to allow animals to walk, sleep, defecate and procreate. Animals are sometimes injured, with stinking carcasses lying in the streets for days given lax municipal authorities.

All of this is due to a rapidly spreading urban sprawl that devours erstwhile open, rural areas and villages where the animals once roamed freely.

The courts have been waging a losing battle to rid Delhi roads of its animals. Apart from the usual lethargy in implementation, cows are revered by Hindus, the majority Indian population, so any strong arm action is a politically sensitive move.

Dogs, meanwhile, proliferate as they are readily adopted by people, who do not have the space to keep them inside the house, but generally feed, pamper them and resist attempts by authorities to act.

Such is the nuisance of monkeys in the national capital that a couple of langurs (bigger-sized white monkeys) continue to be leashed every day at the forecourts of the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President's House) and the adjoining north and south blocks that house the prime minister, top administration and military offices.

The langurs scare off the smaller Indian brown rhesus monkeys that are a menace in the area, biting officials, running away with secret files and entering the inner precincts of offices and president's quarters.

There are also reports that for some time stray dogs moved in and out of the highly protected residence of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. There were fears that the strays could easily be fitted with remote bombs that could be set off inside the premises. Given brazen terror attacks, such as at Mumbai in November, anything is possible.

Fighting rats, of course, is another issue all together.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

AMBALA: THE NORTH’S REAL ESTATE HOT SPOT

By M H Ahssan

Ambala, a prominent transit city between the capital cities of Chandigarh and Delhi, seems to have successfully caught the eye of realtors with the initiation of the six-lane highway project which eventually will shorten the travelling time by an hour after the project is completed.

Ambala, the historical district of Haryana, is yearning for true genesis of its identity and is slowly but surely opening up to real estate investments that were non-existent till a couple of years ago. Till recently, the city had a limited industrial base comprising small-scale manufacturing industries of scientific and surgical instruments, textile goods, metal casting, kitchen mixer grinder manufacturing and submersible motor pump manufacturing units. The road-widening project seems to have given the real estate market a real push with real estates companies such as Unitech, Reliance Industries and DLF believed to be acquiring land for their SEZs in Naraingarh which is 35 km from Ambala on the Chandigarh-Barwala-Nahan road. The industrial food park at Saha, being developed by The Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC), 15 km from the Ambala cantonment on the Ambala -Jagadhari road, is already a major activity hub.

After more than 32 years of its existence, the Haryana government has recently taken the initiative to augment the municipal limits of the Ambala Cannt (Sadar) from 6.33 square km to 24.24 square kilometres and is expected to upgrade the existing basic facilities like sewerage system, water supply and roads. According to a government official a total of 4,830 acres will be acquired in this process from 14 villages and added to the existing Municipal Committee which will add another 70,000 to the existing population under the MC area.

Over the decades, a major part of the cantonment area remained out of bounds for not just realty players but also for residents who could not undertake new constructions as the Centre was the custodian of land. However, the decision of the Centre in 2008 to release over 11,000 acres of land falling in the Ambala cantonment to the Haryana government promises to bring a sea change in the development scenario of the city. Jones Lang LaSalle Meghraj CEO, Business, India, Sanjay Dutt feels that the district has a good investment future in the long-term. “Ambala is a good market driver. With the surrounding areas of Zirakpur, Kharar being developed, it will be the next stop,” he said.

With Chandigarh, which was a popular retirement abode for ex servicemen, reaching a saturation point, Ambala is becoming a popular retirement base for an increasing number of Indian defence personnel. As a divisional headquarters of the Northern Railway, Ambala is an important railway junction for states up north of Delhi. Not just that the cantonment being as old as 1843 and a home for the ‘2 Corps’, which is one of the three strike corps of the Indian Army, along with the Indian Air Force’s largest air base housing Jaguras and MiG-21 Bisons make the place all the more lucrative and convenient as a retirement abode for the ex servicemen.

In anticipation of tapping this potential, upcoming colonies and government projects on NH-22 and the Ambala -Jagadhari road are vying to offer the best facilities for the prospective residents. Prominent among these are the Vatika Group which is coming up with its group-housing scheme to be followed by commercial property on over 170 acres of land in the Ambala City. The group is also giving out plots at a going rate of Rs 7,500 per square yard. The plots are available in 240 yards, 300, 500 and 1,000 categories.

Ambala Property Consultant Association general secretary RN Samrat sees a bright future ahead as the town is developing at a fast pace. “Buyers are looking for facilities that were given naturally to suburban dwellers in satellite towns like Noida, Chandigarh and Gurgaon,” he said. According to him the Ambala-Jagadhari road was witnessing a lot of private development with Delhibased groups expected to bring housing projects on 100-acres-plus land. In order to give a further boost to new development, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) has set up three new sectors — 32, 33 and 34 which fall between the cantonment and the city. HUDA has plans to add 30 more sectors as part of its expansions, and the current rates of government plot range from Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 per square yard.

HUDAs sectors 9, 10, 11 in Ambala city are currently fetching a price of Rs 6,000 to Rs 15,000 per square yard. The houses are six marla, 10 marlas, 14 marlas and one kanal. Whereas, in Ambala cantonment, private colonies such as Agrasen Nagar, Ekta Vihar and Rani Vihar are being sold at Rs 10,000 per square yard. The plot ranges from four marlas (100 square yards) to one kanal (600 square yard).
A cursory glance at the landscape along the approach road to Ambala offers nothing but an indication of the changing times. The area is dotted with projects such as Dreamland Colony, Defence City and Omaxe Greens, which have come up in Punjab even though they are practically an extension of Ambala. The twin accessibility to these areas from both Ambala cantonment and Ambala City further adds values to these projects.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Acheivement: Haryana Village Genius Rockets To NASA

By Ajay Kumar / INN Live

Teenager from Narnaul to train as astronaut at US centre after topping test NASA. First there was Kalpana Chawla, the Indian - American astronaut whose roots were in Karnal, Haryana. Now there’s 19- year- old Ashish Yadav from the state’s backwater town of Narnaul who’s on his way to the National Aeronautic Space Administration ( NASA) of the United States. 

Yadav is among the three students selected from India for a three- year astronaut training programme in America, the entire cost of which will be taken care of by NASA. Yadav leaves next month.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Netas' Sons, Daughters Contesting Above 50 Seat In India

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE

ELECTIONS 2014 At least 50 parliamentary constituencies will be contested by 'sons and daughters' of politicians. From President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit to Rahul and Varun Gandhi, at least 50 parliamentary constituencies will be contested by ‘sons and daughters’ of politicians of various parties during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Of these, a majority of candidates have been fielded from the ruling Congress party.

Abhijit Mukherjee, a sitting MP, is contesting on a Congress ticket from his present Jangipur (West Bengal) constituency while Rahul Gandhi and Varun Gandhi are fighting from Amethi and Pilibhit constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, respectively.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Investigation: Nailing The Aravalli Lie

By Kajol Singh

Mining continues despite a Supreme Court ban. HNN goes undercover to find out who is doing it, and why they are getting away with it

Save the Aravallis: a slogan that like so many others stirs little response until the cost of ignoring it hits home: no electricity, no water, no construction material and, worst of all, no rain and the daytime temperature perpetually above 50 degrees Celsius.

The Aravallis are the oldest mountain range in the world and they are all that stands between Delhi and the desert, buffering the National Capital Region (NCR) against the advance of the Thar and holding down the monsoon as it sweeps over the northern plains. However, indiscriminate stone quarrying and illegal construction in forest area are ravaging the range every day. If matters proceed on their present course, Delhi will be a desert in 40 years.

Litigation against mining in the Aravallis has been heard in the Supreme Court for the last 14 years, but it was on February 5, 2009 that the court ordered a ban, until the next hearing, on mining, stone crushing, construction and land sale in the area.

HNN, in its visit to the range, found that all these activities were continuing unchecked, with the police hand-in-glove with the violators.

VIOLATION 1: PROJECTION OF A FAKE GREENBELT

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC), a group of eminent environmentalists, bureaucrats and experts, procured high-resolution satellite images of the Faridabad district Aravallis during January and May 2008. This was done to ascertain village-wise land use and to assess the hills’ greenbelt. Out of 23 of the district’s villages, 15 lie in areas notified under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA). As for the greenbelt, the CEC found that 134 mines, notified by the Supreme Court under the PLPA, were operating within it or in its vicinity. Ways, however, are found of circumventing inspection even by satellite imaging. HNN found huge stretches of land around the Sirohi mine covered with green cloth — in satellite pictures, the area looks like it is in the greenbelt.

VIOLATION 2: ILLEGAL CONSTRUCTION AND SALE OF FOREST LAND

The CEC found a large number of colonies, farm houses and public buildings ranging from banquet halls to schools and ashrams in the notified area. Construction here has not only meant the decimation of forests, but it also interferes with the natural passage of rain. The CEC recommended the demolition of all illegal structures, and sought to have the rehabilitation of the area taken up by the state of Haryana in a timebound manner, with no sale of land permitted and permissions revoked for all non-forestry use of notified land.

HNN has a copy of a letter dated August 29, 2007, written by Forest Conservator South Block RP Balwan to Deputy Forest Conservator G Raman that makes note of the gross violation of the Forest Conservation Act and the PLPA in the Aravallis. It also lists various groups that have razed forest cover for construction purposes. These include RPS Colonisers, Kenwood City, Lakewood City, MLA Kartaar Singh Bhadana, Anandvan Colonisers, the Muthoot Group and Green Valley. Omaxe Group, the owner of ‘The Forest’ colony, has been accused not only of felling trees and carrying out construction despite the court order, but also of illegal quarrying and usurping forestland. The letter also says that since the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Haryana Urban Development Authority to return the money to all plot owners in Sectors 44 and 47 in Faridabad, the area was forestland and construction here was illegal. No action was taken on the complaint.

At this point, it must be noted that according to a court order dated May 10, 1996, there should be a 200m greenbelt near Surajkund and Badkhal lakes. These were the area’s only natural water bodies; both are even found mentioned in the Mahabharata. Unchecked mining in their vicinity resulted in their complete disappearance last year.

Posing as a potential buyer, HNN visited colonisers in the prohibited zone and found that there were no signs of a greenbelt. Instead, unabashed land sale and construction continues.

Location 1: The Forest, Omaxe Group, Surajkund, Delhi NCR.

HNN: I like the apartment. What are the rates?

Dealer: Here is the rate list. Bank loans are also available.

HNN: What about the Supreme Court ban?

Dealer: Supreme Court mentions [land under] Sections 4 and 5 of the PLPA as notified area, which is forest area. This area does not fall under those sections.

HNN: But now the Supreme Court has asked for construction to be stopped.

Dealer:That is for areas under Sections 4 and 5 of the PLPA, not this. See the area around this place is notified. Here you can do anything.

HNN: Okay, this is not.

Dealer: This has a proper address: Faridabad Sector 43. Don’t worry.

HNN: The Supreme Court has also banned mining, isn’t it?

Dealer: That is for commercial use. Not here.

Location 2: Vashisht Associates, Sector 21-D, Faridabad

HNN: What is the rate of land here?

Dealer: Depends on the location.

HNN: Where is land available?

Dealer: [Sectors] 21A, B and C

HNN: And here in 46 and 47?

Dealer: There are a few in 46. There is one 100-yard plot available in Sector 47.

HNN: How much will it cost?

Dealer: Around Rs 40-45 lakhs. The rate here according to the government is Rs 6,000 per yard so according to that Rs six lakh will be required for registry and the rest in black.

HNN: Okay. And the Supreme Court banned construction and all in the area. That isn’t a problem, is it?

Dealer: See, the place where you are sitting right now was also prohibited. But we built it very recently. There is no problem in Sectors 46 and 47 — even though it’s prohibited, nothing will happen.

HNN: Why?

Dealer: Earlier also, the Supreme Court had banned construction near Badkhal Lake. But construction took place. See, the thing is even if the court orders, nobody comes for inspecting anything. What will they do? Will they demolish these big apartments?

HNN: You are sure there will not be any Supreme Court problem, because we are in a hurry to build our house.

Dealer: There is no problem anywhere, except in the part you are sitting in right now.

HNN: So people have started staying in apartments nearby in spite of the ban?

Dealer: Yes.

HNN: Isn’t that a problem?

Dealer: Nothing will happen. Banks are also giving loans for these properties.

HNN: I read in the papers that some supervisors came for inspection recently.

Dealer: See, there is ban on Omaxe also, but construction is still on. Nothing can happen to those who have power. The supervisor banned some 164 places but construction is still on. All can be managed with money. The administration itself is facilitating all this.

HNN: Are you the owner of this place? Dealer: No, I work here. The owner is JM Vashisht. He was the SHO at the Badkhal Lake Police Station. He has retired now.

VIOLATION 3: CRUSHERS AT WORK DESPITE STATUS QUO

According to the Supreme Court order of February 3, 2009 all crushers were to be removed from the crushing zone by February 5, 2009. When TEHELKA visited the Sirohi and Khori Jamalpur mines, which have been operating in defiance of the apex court’s 2002 order, we saw overloaded trucks carrying stones from the mines outside. Crushers were at work in the crushing zones. Blasting in the mines was also on. Speaking to a crusher agency owner, a nexus of the authorities and the mining leaseholders was revealed.

DD Gupta, M/s Shiv Grit Udyog, Sirohi Crushing Zone

HNN: We are doing a campaign on how labourers have lost their jobs following the closure of the mines. Some alternative should be provided by the government. How much loss are you incurring everyday?

Agency owner: See, even if the government has imposed a ban, we have to pay for the basics, electricity, maintenance etc.

HNN: So, how much loss will you incur per month?

Owner: At least two lakh per month. Moreover, we have a bank loan and used our personal money also. Apart from that, if the crusher zone is banned, our machines will be stolen.

HNN: How long have you been operating here?

Owner: Five years.

HNN: So you didn’t know that there could be a problem here — the first Supreme Court intervention was in 2002.

Owner: No. The Haryana Government should have thought about the future while making this the crushing zone. The CM should have warned us, not fooled us. This zone was planned in 2001, plots were given out in 2003. When the SC had already intervened, why did they allot plots for crushing? But who will fight with the government, one individual can’t do it.

HNN: What about the bid that didn’t happen?

Owner: They have increased the bid amount to such an extent. Earlier, it was Rs four crore for seven years. Now it’s Rs 110 crore for two years. Who will bid for such an amount?

HNN: What can be the reason for this? Could it be that since minerals here are close to exhaustion in the next two years, the Haryana Government is trying to earn as much as possible?

Owner: Then why did they give it for so little last time? The mining leaseholder here, Sethi, is earning at least a crore daily from here. Where this money is shared, only they know. A single person was given the contract for the entire mining area. He had his monopoly.

HNN: Sethi has a lot of support from the Haryana Government.

Owner: Anyone who has money can manage. He can control the SC order also. He has bribed the Supreme Court judges also. They should ideally have divided the mining area into four blocks and given it to four different people. There would have been competition, which would have lowered the cost of stone and therefore the construction cost. Now it’s his will. He decides the rate. If you want it, take it at his rate. Moreover, the royalty he takes is Rs 160 per tonne, much higher than the government rate. The other thing is why didn’t the Supreme Court think about the groundwater when the water was pumped out round the clock and wasted to extract silica? Everybody accepted bribes in crores and kept quiet then. Now there is a hue and cry.

HNN: There were deputy commissioners involved also.

Owner: There was one deputy commisioner. It was in her time that all these builders started colonising. When you acquire land, you do it with the help of the commissioner, isn’t it? Her husband is also a builder, I don’t know much about him.

It is crucial to note that apart from being in contempt of court, the state government is suffering a loss of revenue. Mining lease holders collect arbitrary charges — the present rate of royalty they pay is Rs 24 per tonne, but what they collect can go up to Rs 140-160. If multiplied by the number of trucks crossing the check post daily, the figures run into several crores.

VIOLATION 4: MINING MATERIAL TRANSPORTED DESPITE SC ORDERS

As per the Supreme Court’s orders, no transportation of stones is to be allowed. HNN caught trucks on spycam regularly crossing the tax collection point. Although people in the area knew that their movement was banned, the police insisted that there was no such restriction.

Tax collection point, Khori Jamalpur

HNN: The Supreme Court has stopped mining activities, so why are the trucks passing?

Tax collector: Illegal activities are still happening. Truckers with minerals just run past the tax collection point.

Ishwar Singh, Asst. Sub-Inspector, Khori Jamalpur police station

HNN: Truckers are constantly passing even when they are banned by the SC. Why?

Ishwar Singh: Who said? It’s allowed by the Supreme Court.

VIOLATION 5: GROUND WATER EXPOSED AND LEFT TO EVAPORATE. ENVIRONMENT MANAGEMENT PLAN NOT FOLLOWED

The Aravallis are composed of nonporous rock. Since it cannot hold water, ground water collects in cracks and joints in the rocks. Keeping this in mind, the apex court ordered that the depth of mining be restricted to three metres above the water table. Silica, or bajri, which is in great demand for construction, is found under the water table. To extract it, miners pump out ground water until they can extract the mineral. The water, however, is left abandoned, leading to the evaporation of 8,86,891 cubic metres of ground water every year. According to NGO Shakti Vahini, there are 68 exposed water bodies in the range; in the area TEHELKA visited, we found such water bodies at every 20 feet.

The Central Ground Water Board categorically states that the ground water table in the Aravallis is falling dangerously. It is already at a critical stage in Faridabad, where its over-exploitation rate is at 89.02 percent; the figure for Gurgaon is 124 percent. Since the area’s surface water potential is not promising, ground water is the only source of drinking water here. If its depletion is not controlled, the situation will lead to a survival crisis.

According to a Supreme Court order of May 10, 1995, each mining lease-holder should follow an Environment Management plan that includes afforestation, reduction of noise and pollution and the rehabilitation of mines after they are exhausted. TEHELKA has a copy of the reply of the Haryana Control Board and the Central Pollution Control Board, which clearly states that the mine lease holders do not need to follow an Environment Management Plan, since they are minor mines. Something that is false.

Government complacency and its impact
Says RP Balwan, Forest Conservator, Gurgaon, “Illegal mining in the Aravallis is depriving poor farmers of their employment by denying them natural sources of water for farming.” Over the last three years alone, the mineral reserves of five stone mines in Mewat have been exhausted. The only two mines left in the region will be exhausted in the next two years. Haryana Environment Minister Kiran Chowdhary chooses to pass the buck. She says, “I am only concerned with forest land and environment.

Checking illegal mining is not under my department. If there are violators, we will take action and inform the Supreme Court about it.” Despite the enormous evidences of illegal mining practises, visible to the naked eye, the mining lease holder of the only two mines in the range, Somdutt Sethi, is confident. “I haven’t flouted any rules. I will prove it in the Supreme Court,” he declares. Consequently, the CEC, which had given some very strong recommendations to the Supreme Court, has also gone into helpless mode. Says ADN Rao, counsel, CEC, “If the SC does not take strong steps, the Aravallis will be gone. What can be done? We all will face the consequences of an irreversible man-made disaster.”

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Money make 'Disaster Drugs'

By Rakhee Sharma

To Ambuj Sharma, director in the foreigner's division of the Union Home Ministry, the May 15 call from the Indian Embassy at Tashkent was crucial. As the first secretary spoke, the dormant suspicion that spurious Indian medicines were being sold in Russia and CIS nations over the past 18 months was almost confirmed.

A few days later, Sharma received a letter from the embassy. This time it detailed how 'tourists' from Uzbekistan, Kazakistan, Russia, and other CIS nations were visiting India only to return with fake drugs which were now flooding the markets in those countries. The tourists, it was learnt, would carry Chinese silk, diamond powder, tungsten wire, even gold, and deliver them to the doorsteps of traders spread from Haryana in the north to Karnataka in the south, and return with spurious drugs. The drugs ranged from common paracetamols and pain killers to high-end antibiotics.

On September 9, following several raids across Haryana and Delhi, the police arrested four Uzbek women, along with the alleged kingpin in India. As much as 800 kg of spurious drugs valued at Rs 2 million were recovered from them. The women---Nafisa Taskand, Karasach Bobomurotova, Malika and Maya---are all aged between 35-40. Chander Prakash Marwah, 45, the kingpin, is based in Delhi. All the five were arrested under the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act.

That the quintet was operating with the help of a countrywide network was evident. The drugs, it was found, were manufactured at various pharmaceutical plants in Noida, Ghaziabad, Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Nabha (Punjab), Parwanoo (Himachal Pradesh), Okhla (Delhi), Mehboob Nagar, Ranga Reddy (Andhra Pradesh), N.G. Lane (Mumbai) and Pithampur (Madhya Pradesh).

You Can Barely Tell the Difference
The fake drugs carry genuine names like Timosule, Decasone, Ampicillin, Pyrazinamide, Ethambutol Hydrocholride, Dagrevit, Neoaroxine, Dexacin, Cilectrode, Coldact, Oxytocin, Tinidazolum, Clotrimazolum, Spasmalgon, Kenoteh and Metronidazole. Apart from being sold abroad, the police discovered that the drugs were now awash in the Indian markets as well.

The racket was also linked to a case in Chennai early last year when a young lady was admitted to a private hospital for a minor surgery. The surgery went off well, but when the patient developed sudden complications it transpired that she had been administered, by unsuspecting doctors, fake Ceftazidine, a bactricidal injection to prevent infection. Laboratory tests on the seized vials had drawn a blank. All that government scientists could determine was that there was 'zero active ingredient in the vial'.

In Tamil Nadu, 18 cases have been registered against fake manufacturers. The Directorate of Drugs Control has even cancelled the licences of six major wholesale drug dealers, suspecting large-scale foul play. "Nobody can make
out these fakes from their looks. And it is an extremely difficult task to do sample testing on a large-scale," says V. Muthukrishnan, Tamil Nadu drugs control director.

The packaging gives nothing away. Take Crystal Pharmaceuticals, an Ambala-based maufacturer charged in a Tamil Nadu court with producing fake Amoxycillin, Erythromycin, Cotrimoxazole and Dexamethazone. The spurious samples seized had the original labels and packing. But laboratory tests revealed that the active ingredient was missing in most. The contents made all the difference. When a strip of Doxycycline capsules was opened up and the capsules broken down, it transpired that they contained not medicinal powder, but turmeric.

Yes Please and Other Hotspots
The high demand for these drugs has seen the number of trips made by spurious drug dealers increasing over the past year-and-a-half. The Uzbek women's team, for instance, had made 22 trips to India during this period. And rampant unemployment in the economically weak CIS countries has seen many such teams visiting India. "There is high profit in carrying back fake
medicines and selling them in the CIS countries," says Uday Sahay, DCP, whose special team cracked open the Uzbek case.

Many of the women couriers, it is learnt, also indulge in prostitution to earn more money to support large families back home. "After reaching Tashkent, or other destinations, these couriers tie up with locals who in turn distribute the spurious medicines to retailers after putting Russian markings," confirms a senior official at the Indian Embassy at Tashkent. Interestingly, nearly a fourth of the drugs seized in Delhi and Haryana had
Russian markings prepared by dealers in India to expedite the sales process.

According to Intelligence sources, Delhi is the hub for the thriving market. A large number of 'tourist' hotels in the congested Paharganj and Karol Bagh areas---Yes Please, India International New, India International Old, Saini, Vir Inn, Golden Deluxe and Taj Prince--- were found catering to the traffic from Uzbekistan, Kazakistan and other CIS nations. Hotel Saini in Paharganj is the favourite since at Rs 150 a night, it easily offers the most competitive room rates. Middlemen pick up their consignments from hotels like these and money with the tourists changes hands smoothly. A normal shopper from a CIS nation spends not more than three-four days in India because boarding and lodging costs cut into profits back home, but the drug couriers stay as long as 25-30 days.

Marwah, the kingpin of the racket in Delhi, was picked up from a banquet hall called Vatika in the Old Rajender Nagar area and fake medicines worth Rs 80,000 were seized from him. Subsequently he told the police about manufacturing bases at Sonepat and Faridabad in Haryana, and at Nangli Devat, a village on the outskirts of Delhi. When the police teams raided these factories jointly with the Drugs Control Department of Delhi, they
found that several of the spurious drugs, ready for shipment, were misbranded. "Besides, none of the women could produce purchase records for the drugs they possessed," says L.N. Agarwal, drugs controller, Delhi.

Though much of the operations of the racketeers is in the open now, the police has a long way to go still. The market will have to be deweeded as large consignments of spurious drugs are already on the shelves. That, by no means, is an easy task.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Exclusive: Loyal Congressman GK Vasan quits party after 14 years: Here's why Gandhis should be worried?

The first major fissure in the Congress has surfaced, with former minister GK Vasan all set to break away from the party to revive his father’s legacy and outfit, the Tamil Maanila Congress in Tamil Nadu. Vasan’s move may have its roots in the conviction of AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa who had to step down as chief minister thereby creating a politically fluid situation in which both the ruling party as well as the opposition DMK are in a state of flux.

"This has raised hopes in other parties and leaders who think they can create space for themselves in the state which was dominated by either the AIADMK or the DMK for close to half a century. This is the best opportunity to come their way. And this includes the BJP which is stands benefit the most from the situation in the state where it wants to set up its footprint," said a Congress leader.