Your updated source of information about Dehradun & Uttarakhand.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Big Bazar enters Doon


Dehradun, December 17
Big Bazar further enhanced its reach to the customers with the launch of its first store in Dehradun. The new store was inaugurated by Principal Secretary PC Sharma at the City Junction Mall, Near ISBT, Haridawar bypass road.
Spread over an area of 28,500 sq. ft, Big Bazar will prove to be a one-stop destination for the Doonites. Dhananjay Sengupta, GM, North Zone, Big Bazar, said, “The store will give people the opportunity to shop for all their requirements, save and enjoy the experience with their entire family at the same time,” he said .

Dehradun “The History of Beautiful Doon Valley”


Dehradun
In the past hundred years or so the Doon Valley has undergone several revolutionary changes that would be good to recapitulated so that the future drift of the city can be put into right perspective.
Let’s take the demarcation year as 1900.This was the year in which the first train from Haridwar reached Dehradun Railway Station. This landmark year began the process of making the valley more accessible for the rest of India, and particularly the British. 1900 was a significant year also because it saw the abolishment of the District Postal System as now Dehradun came under the umbrella of the All India Postal Network set up by the then British government. The valley’s first radio station, too, became functional in this year in the Kutchery Compound through persistent efforts of the then District Magistrate A.J.K. Hallow. Later this station was closed down once nationalization of radio broadcasting took place during World War I.
Another landmark year for Doon was 1901, when telephone bells began ringing in the valley. But television had to wait till the year 1975 when the Mussoorie TV Tower was built.
The 19th century also saw the construction of a motorable road to Dehradun, though Mussoorie waited for the next century. It was in 1920 that the first car, a Ford T model was driven up to Kulri via Jharipani by Col E.W. Bell, son-in-law of ‘Swetenhams and owner of the Clouds End Estate. The present Mussoorie Road was built uptil Bhatta by 1930, King Craig by 1936, and after independence in 1954 it reached Library and in 1957 it reached Picture Palace.
The economy of the valley was primarily agricultural and was given a tourist boost by the visit of the Indian princes and the British during summers etc. It was only with the coming of electricity, in the year 1909, when the first bulb was lit on May 24, 1909, at Mussoorie, and in Doon in 1918, that the economy underwent a change.
The beginning of the 20th century saw the setting up of many national level institutions in the valley, In 1901, the then Viceroy Lord Curzon set up the Imperial Cadet Core impart military training to Princes and college students. In 1922, the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College (RIMC), now Rashtriya Indian Military College, was started at the same campus. RIMC was set up to train young Indian boys of aristocratic background for entry into Royal Military Collage, Sandhurst, in England.
In 1906 the Forest Research Institute was started at Chandbagh Estate where the Doon School is now located. In 1930, the Railway Staff College was set up in the present Chetwode building of IMA. The college closed down within a year or so due to financial constraints.
This campus was later (in 1932) selected for the establishment of the Indian Military Academy.The next towering institution to be set up in the valley that changed its very economic fabric was the ONGC. Most of the major schools and colleges in the valley were set up in the 20th century, though missionaries had started opening schools in the valley in the 1850s. One of the first schools to be set up was St George’s College Barlowganj, in 1853. American Presbyterian Mission Boys High School and Dehra Christian Girls’ Boarding School (CNI) are the two early schools that have a reputation even today.
The Doon Valley was amongst the first places in India to have a school for the blind. Sharp Memorial Blind School was opened in the early part of the century.Soon after Independence, the government established the Central Braille Press in 1951, which was followed by the setting up of NIVH in 1967. In the field of education for the handicapped there were many pioneers. Amongst them was Late Prof Ulfat who founded the Nanhi Dunya Movement. Another was Padma Bhushan Puran Singh Negi who pioneered the publication of books in Braille for the blind.
Today the Doon Valley is well known for public schools. The foundation for public schools was laid down with the setting up of The Doon School by Sir P.R. Das of the Indian Public School Society. Lord Willingdon, the then Viceroy of India inaugurated the Doon School in 1935 and its first head master was A.E. Foot, a science teacher at Eton College, England.
Architecturally the skyline of the valley has changed drastically over the years. Most of the prominent landmarks and shopping malls were built by philanthropist businessmen of Doon, who were amongst the leading families of Doon.One such family was that of Seth Bhagwan Das.The family floated the first Indian Bank in the valley known as Bhagwan Das Bank Ltd. The then chairman of the Bank, Seth Nemi Das built the Jugminder Hall (Town Hall), Women’s Hospital Wing at the Doon Hospital and the only Sports Pavilion in the city. During the 1930s, the three local bodies of the valley were headed by three philanthropists, who were mates from their school days at AP Mission School – Rai Bahadur Choudhary Sher Singh, Rai Bahadur Ugrasen and Barrister Darshan Lal. Rai Bahadur Chaudhary Sher Singh was the chairman of the District Board. As chairman he took development to the rural areas. Most of the major roads in the villages were built during his time. He also opened many schools in the villages.
Rai Bahadur Ugrasen was the chairman of Dehradun Nagar Pallika. He built the two main shopping malls, Manda House Complex on a part of old Nashville Estate and Astley Hall Shopping Mall on Rajpur Road. He is also credited with bringing piped water into Dehrdaun municipality. Barrister Darshan Lal was the chairman of Mussoorie City Board. He increased the power generating capacity of Bhatta Falls. During his chairmanship the Dehradun-Mussoorie Road was extended up to Kingcraig from Bhatta. He was also instrumental in building the Landour Clock Tower.
After Independence, the citizens of Doon honored the builders of the Doon valley, by naming prominent roads and chowks after their names. One of the most important landmarks of the Doon Valley, the Balbir Tower (Clock Tower) was built to commemorate India’s independence. It was a collaborative effort of the Dehradun Nagar Pallika and Lala Sher Singh and Lala Anand Singh, leading businessmen of their times and was named after one of their ancestors who was also an honorary magistrate in his days.
The foundation stone was laid on July 2, 1948, by the then Governor of UP, Sarojini Naidu. The Clock Tower was completed in 1953 and was inaugurated by Lal Bahadur Shastri. It has a unique hexagonal architecture lending it heritage value.
The colossal philanthropic achievements of the earlier years was in subsequent years added to by shopping complexes, corporate houses, government buildings and high rise structures. Astley Hall, Mansa Ram Bank building and Manda House have been replaced by Windlass Shopping Complex, Plazas, Janpaths and shopping arcades.
Dehradun Pin Code 248001 and Dehradun STD Code 0135Dehradun MapDehradun Map

Friday, December 16, 2011

International symposium concludes

Dehradun, December 16
On the concluding day of the International Symposium on Recent Advances in Medical Disorders, Dr Sanjiv Mittal, Head, eye department, Sri Guru Ram Rai (SGRR) Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, said any problem experienced in the eye should not be ignored.
“There are several disorders that can be immediately taken care with prompt intervention,” said Dr Sanjiv Mittal.
In another lecture, Dr Neel Kamal also shed light on the diabetic foot and its cures, while Dr RB Kaliya gave presentation on hip-replacement.
At the end of the symposium, a question-answer session with the students was also held.
Several medical experts from the United States of America (USA) and Canada participated in the symposium. The representatives of the University of Kansas also paid obeisance at the Darbar Sahib.
Dr Sanjiv Mittal shed light on the problems and the cures present.

Haridwar choreographer gives dancing tips to Bollywood actresses


Dolly BishtHaridwar, December 16
Soon Bollywood actresses will be dancing to the directions of an Uttarakhand-based young choreographer, which will be first for any choreographer hailing from this hilly state.
Dolly Bisht from Haridwar has just returned from Mumbai, wherein she assisted noted choreographer-cum-director Farah Khan for her upcoming flick “Joker” starring Akshay Kumar.
Working as second assistant dance director to choreographer Feroz Khan, Dolly choreographed the dance steps for the actress of the film, Sonakshi Sinha.
Talking to The Tribune exclusively, Dolly Bisht termed it as a dream come true as she had gone to Mumbai for the grand finale round of dance reality show “Dance India Dance,” wherein she reached the mega audition final stage making it to the top 30s.
“Never thought I would get to be a part of the film industry and giving dance steps to Sonakshi. I was worried a bit …but sticking to the theme of the film and song gave me ample confidence to conceptualise the song,” said an exuberant Dolly.
Currently pursuing her B.Com at Haridwar Educational College, Bisht wants to make it big in the glam world and be a professional choreographer.
But she is not taking it easy, as she points: “To make other people dance, you have to be first well-versed in all dance forms, be it contemporary, classical-semi classical, western, hip hop or the mixed variety.”
“Apart from this, a film choreographer has to conceive the dance keeping in mind the theme, story, song, music, costume and trend,” said 20-year-old Dolly, who has more than 40 awards and trophies to her credit in various dance competitions.
Her father SB Bisht and mother Bhajan are all proud of the young girl and are supporting her in her dreams. “From childhood itself she has only one passion, dance, and it is our duty to provide her best of support though it is not so easy for people of Uttarakhand to make it to this arena, which is confined mainly to Mumbai or Delhi only,” said Dolly’s father.
Accepting that had she been from a metropolis, she could have found a conducive atmosphere both in terms of training and opportunities. Yet the vibrant dancer doesn’t want to make it an excuse of any sort.
Now Dolly is giving free dance training to 20-odd youths in Haridwar itself as she claims that she definitely has a dance institute in her mind in the near future for Uttarakhand.

Sale of Chinese goods ‘threat to economy’

Dehradun, December 16
Dehradun Mayor Vinod Chamoli today said the increasing use of Chinese products was a matter of concern for the country.
Addressing a workshop organised by the Himalaya Parivar, a non- government organisation in Dehradun, Chamoli reminded that while 80,000 square kilometres of the Indian territory was still in the Chinese possession in the aftermath of the 1962 war, Chinese were now trying to destroy the Indian economy by flooding the Indian markets with its products.
Another key speaker Suryanarayan Jha said India had failed to strengthen its borders with China. He said China had been repeatedly troubling India. “It shows Arunachal as part of China and continues to irritate India on one pretext or other”, he said.

CPI activists demand food security

Haridwar, December 16
On Food Security Day, the Communist Party of India (CPI) activists demanded food security from the Centre.

At a meeting at Bhagat Singh Chowk, CPI activists said as per the Constitution, safeguarding of financial rights was specified, but by merely making laws, the government could not step back from its duty.
“The providence of food to poor people should be done at the government-run fair price shops at subsidised rates and if possible, free of cost. Millions of tonnes of food grains are lying in food stores of which a major portion gets wasted,” said comrade Munirka Yadav, vice chief of the CFFP Employees Association.
Raees Alam of the district CPI unit pointed out that the aim of the World Food Day was to heighten public awareness about the world food problem and strengthen solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
Communists also took strong objection to respective Union Governments bifurcating the people in the BPL (below poverty line) and the APL (above poverty line) brackets. The government should take steps to ensure that poverty is vanished from the country. For that a methodical economic and social approach was needed, which the subsequent governments lacked, remarked comrade Prakashi Devi.

Withdraw Lokayukta Bill: CP (ML)


Pithoragarh, December 16
The Utarakhand state unit of the CP (ML) today called upon the state government to withdraw the Lokayukta Bill passed by the Uttarakhand Assembly, as, according to the party, it is an instrument in the hands of the powerful to protect the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in the state from the clutches of the law.
Briefing the media after a district-level convention of the party held here on Wednesday, the newly elected district spokesperson for the party, Govind Kafalia, said the party wanted the Bill be withdrawn in the interests of common people of the state as it would increase corruption in the state. “The Lokayukta Act will give the impression that corruption is being checked but actually it will be protecting the corrupt,” alleged Kafalia.
According to Kafalia, 23 resolutions were passed at the convention, including seeking a salary package of more than Rs 11,000 for all anganwari and Asha workers in the villages of the state and a law to give government job to one member of each family in the state. “The party also felt that the agriculture needs to be given special attention in the state and every landless family should be given minimum an acre for cultivation,” said Kafalia.
According to the district spokesman, the state should make laws to ban big dams in the state and bring in laws to protect the agriculture from the menace of wild animals. “The party wants that small hydroelectric schemes in the state be brought under the control of the village Panchayats and all government land near villages should be allocated to the nearby villages,” said the party spokesperson.
“Our party feels that anyone who talks of third front without Left parties is without political understanding of the state because the Left parties are out to give revolutionary alternative to the people of the state whereas the third front partners have started talking of participation in the government after the election,” said Kafalia.

Schemes launched by Nishank shelved

Dehradun, December 16
Though it has been three months since the regime changed in Uttarakhand, the ripples continue to be felt in the everyday functioning of the state. The biggest casualty has been the programmes announced by former Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.
Some of the schemes launched by Nishank have been relegated to the background and instead the schemes announced by Chief Minister BC Khanduri during his previous tenure between 2007-09 have been dusted and brought to the fore along with the announcements made by him since taking the reins once again in September.
The subjectivity and perceived bias is visible even during the evaluation meetings of the announcements made by the Chief Minister. The secretaries of different departments are asked to compile progress from the period 2007-09 and of the last three months only.
“All the schemes announced by the former Chief Minister have been dropped like hot potatoes at least in the day to day functioning in the portals of power,” said a senior official.

Low priority given to roads, facilities in border areas

Poor utilisation of funds by BJP Govt
Dehradun, December 16
Improving rural connectivity by spreading a network of roads and providing facilities to villages in the border areas continue to be accorded the lowest priority by the BJP Government in Uttarakhand, leading to poor utilisation of funds earmarked for the pradhan mantri gram sadak yojana (PMGSY) and the border area development programme (BADP).
Despite setting a target of building 650 km of roads under the pradhan mantri gramin sadak yojana, the government has just about managed to build a mere 257 km of roads. Against the available funds of Rs 39,744 lakh, only Rs 10,551 lakh were spent, completing a mere 27 per cent of the works earmarked under the PMGSY till November for this financial year. The PMGSY programme is a Central Government-funded scheme.
“The progress under the scheme has been slow due to absence of environment clearances as a majority of the roads fall under the forest area, and environment clearance from the Central Government is required,” said Vijaya Barthwal, Rural Development Minister.
If the non-existent roads in the villages speak volumes about the BJP Government’s “reluctance” to spend money where it is needed most, five years down the line the government has even has made a mockery of Border Area Development Programme (BADP).
Against the available budget of Rs 4037 lakh till November this year, the government managed to spend only Rs 666 lakh. According to the terms of the programme, the amount sanctioned under the programme would lapse with the model code of conduct coming into place shortly. The Central Government-sponsored scheme stipulates a share of the Centre and state in the ratio of 75:25.
The BADP is under way in the districts of Chamoli, Uttarkashi, Champawat, Pithoragarh and Udham Singh Nagar. The BADP was started during the Seventh Plan with the twin objectives of promoting balanced development in sensitive border areas.
Allocations are made for carrying out programmes under education, health and rural development for the earmarked districts. The Central Government-sponsored scheme has several checks and balances. In 2009-2010, the Central Government had not released funds after the state government failed to utilise the funds properly.

Oz envoy assures security to students


Preneet raises issue of transport concession for Indians in Victoria, New South Wales
Patiala, December 16
The Australian government has given its firm commitment to ensure proper security and safety to students studying in Australia. The assurance was given by Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and Secretary, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dennis Richardson during a meeting with Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur in New Delhi today.
Giving details of the meeting in Patiala, MP Singh, Additional Private Secretary to Preneet, said, "While discussing several bilateral issues, the Minister raised the long-pending issue of the transport concession to be extended to Indian students in the Federal States of Victoria and New South Wales. The authorities in these two Federal States have been consistently refusing to grant concessional transport facilities to Indian students, which are normally enjoyed by the Australian students, despite the fact that Indian students pay much higher fees compared to domestic students."
Responding to the matter, Richardson assured that the matter of granting transport concession to Indian students would be taken up suitably with the concerned authorities in the Federal States for their consideration, in view of the fact that the Indian students pay comparatively higher fees than the local students.
"Richardson informed Preneet that the Australian Government has undertaken extensive review of the international education sector, including re-registration of international education providers with a view to ensure that international students get quality education in Australia", stated Singh.
After the meeting, Preneet expressed her satisfaction regarding the measures put in place by the Australian government to improve the safety and security of the Indian students in Australia. She, however, impressed upon the need that the proposed measures were followed through and resulted in a qualitatively improved experience on the ground for the Indian students in Australia.

Britain gets its second Punjabi MP

Seema Malhotra Britain has a second Punjabi-origin MP following Seema Malhotra’s victory on behalf of the Labour Party in the Feltham and Heston bypoll. Malhotra told The Tribune that she is a product of multi-cultural Britain, was born in the UK to an Indian-origin father and a mother who is a retired teacher.
After they came to the UK, her parents started a community shop in Hounslow. She is now one of the five NRI-origin MPs sitting in the UK House of Commons.
Her ancestors were from Multan, but her parents’ families settled in Jalandhar and Delhi and she still has relatives in Jalandhar. “Please let me know when you write about me so I can tell my relatives in Jalandhar,” she said.
Malhotra (39) secured a majority of 6,203 votes over the ruling Conservatives, a swing of 8.6%. She said she is one of the two Hindu MPs in the Commons, adding, “I would say that the Labour represents the whole of Britain, is much more diverse and has a greater commitment to equality and diversity.”
“My parents came to England in the 1960s with very little money. They are typical of many Asians who came here for a better life for their children,” she said.
Malhotra grew up in the Feltham area, close to London’s Heathrow airport. She was active in local politics from a young age and was an adviser to Labour’s Harriet Harman, when she was the leader of the Opposition in 2010.
Conservative critics point out that the turn-out for the Feltham and Heston bypoll was unusually low at 28.8%, the lowest in a bypoll in 11 years.
The chair of the Conservatives, Pakistani-origin Baroness Warsi, commented, “I am concerned about the level of political engagement. It can’t be right that on 12,000 votes, a constituency can be won.” She added, “Byelections generally have low turn-outs at this time of year, when it’s cold and just before Christmas and people are thinking of other things.”
The Liberal democrats came third in the bypoll with deputy leader Simon Hughes commenting, “What happened here was what normally happens in a byelection. People protest against the government, so government parties take a hit [and] the opposition normally moves forward.”
Jalandhar Connection
  • Seema Malhotra, 39, was born in the UK to an Indian-origin father and a teacher-mother, who is now retired
  • Her parents’ families settled in Jalandhar and Delhi and she still has relatives in Jalandhar
  • She is now one of the five NRI- origin MPs sitting in the House of Commons

Bharat Ratna now open to all, including sports icons



New Delhi, December 16
The government has modified the eligibility criteria for the Bharat Ratna paving the way for sportspersons such as hockey legend Dhyan Chand and cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar to be conferred the country’s highest civilian award.
The new rules, providing for eligibility of persons excelling in fields other than art, literature, science and public services for the Bharat Ratna, were notified on November 16, Sports Minister Ajay Maken told reporters here on Friday.
“I wrote a letter to the Home Minister on April 15. The Prime Minister and the Home Minister have very kindly agreed to change the norms. Now, the government has notified that for performance of highest order in any field of human endeavour Bharat Ratna could be awarded,” Maken said. He said the decision has paved the way for any sportsperson to get top award. The move comes amid clamour for giving the honour to Tendulkar for his outstanding contribution to cricket.
“For me as a Sports Minister, this is one of the biggest days for Indian sports and next biggest day I think will be the day when some sportsperson will be awarded the Bharat Ratna,” Maken further said.
Maken said Dhyan Chand and Tendulkar were the top contenders for the award.
“Both of them I think should be the top contenders. Ultimately, the decision has to be taken by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister takes the decision and recommends it to the President,” he said.
The Bharat Ratna was instituted in 1954. Any person without distinction of race, occupation, position or sex is eligible for this award.
The number of annual awards is restricted to a maximum of three in a particular year. On conferment of the award, the recipient receives a Sanad (certificate) signed by the President and a medallion. So far, 41 people have got this award. The first three Indians, who received the prestigious award, were Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari and Sarvapali Radhakrishnan in 1954.
There is no written provision that the award should be given to Indian citizens only. The award has been conferred on a naturalised Indian citizen Mother Teresa (1980) and to two non-Indians - Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and Nelson Mandela (1990). Pandit Bhimsen Joshi was its last recipient.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Virasat to begin on Dec 19


Dehradun, December 15
The popular Afro-Asian Art and Craft Cultural extravaganza, “Virasat”, will begin on December 19 at the Ambedkar Stadium here.
The fortnight-long festival, organised by the Rural Entrepreneurship for Art and Culture (REACH) will consist of music and dance performances of renowned artistes from across the country as well as participation of award-winning artisans who will display their crafts for sale.
For more than a decade and a half, the REACH has been organising, among other events, Virasat, the largest Arts & Crafts festival at Dehradun. This year, Virasat will play a host to artists from across the country.
Doonites will have the opportunity to listen to Quwwalis by the Warsi brothers, Sitar recitals by stalwarts like Ustad Shahid Parvez and vocal recitals by Dilraj Kaur, Manoj Tiwari and the Wadali Brothers. Troupes from the North-Eastern part of the country will also present choir singing and dances from their states.
In at least 150 stalls put up, there will be Phoolkari items created by Lajwanti Devi of Patiala, Terracota items by Mamchand of Chandigarh, Khurja Pottery by Raisuddin and for the first time ever, Terracota Jewellery made by Tapan of Calcutta. There will also be the best of Banarasi fabrics and natural colour and woollen fabrics. “An added attraction this year will be live demonstration by artisans.

New computing software on old-age pensions


Dehradun , December 15
Chief Minister Major General (Retd) Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri inaugurated a computing software project dedicated to the task of disbursement of old-age pension of the Social Welfare Department in the state, at a programme held at the secretariat here today.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Khanduri said that the new provision would bring about transparency in maintenance of details of the pension amounts. He said that the new software would also ensure timely and expeditious disbursement of pensions among all eligible beneficiaries. He said that the state government was committed to the welfare of pensioners in the state and was taking all steps to ensure that the eligible beneficiaries got their pension in time.
The Chief Minister said that the significant initiative was a major step forward towards promoting a culture of good governance, clean and transparent administration and accountability in the state. He said that the pensioners would now not have to make repeated rounds of the offices and other camps to get their pensions. The beneficiaries would be able to see the details of the pension online on the website. In addition, he said the software and other online procedures would help in checking erroneous payments such as double payments and payment of any amount to a non-beneficiary.
The Chief Minister expressed the hope that the system would directly benefit the common man as well as the users of the software. He directed that training programmes be conducted for the sake of employees of the concerned departments and make them proficient in the use of this software.
On the occasion, Principal Secretary, Social Welfare Department, S. Raju, said that the pensioners would have to open bank accounts in nearby bank branches to avail the scheme.
It may be mentioned that the Social Welfare Department is the nodal department for implementing the computing software for pension disbursal in the state, while the NIC has prepared the software and would provide technical support in the matter. According to NIC officials present on the occasion, the software is fully secured and user friendly. 

City hospitals ill-equipped to tackle threat of fire

In the name of fire safety measures, Doon Hospital possesses antiquated fire extinguishers and sand buckets, a legacy of the pre-Independence India

Doon Hospital.
Doon Hospital. A file photograph

Dehradun, December 15
The fire tragedy at AMRI Hospital (Kolkata) should act as a wake-up call for the authorities as not only the top three government hospitals, along with a majority of private nursing homes, in the capital lack adequate fire safety measures, but these have also been functioning without the mandatory fire clearance from the fire safety office.
In the name of the fire safety system, Doon Hospital possesses antiquated fire extinguishers and sand buckets, a legacy of the pre-independence India. “Both male and female hospitals do not possess no-objection certificates (NOCs) from the Fire Department. Same is the case in most of the private clinics and Mahant Indresh Hospital,” said Chandan Singh, Chief Fire Officer (Dehradun).
As the two hospitals were built in the pre-independence era, they do not conform to the National Building Code (NBC) that stipulates making provisions for fire safety and earthquake safety norms.
In abject disregard for fire safety norms, even Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Coronation Hospital that was built a few years ago too has also failed to get the NOC from the Fire Safety Office.
Only the Combined Medical Institute (CMI), a private hospital, has the NOC from the Fire Department that too is awaiting renewal.
According to the fire safety rules, there should be mandatory fire exits on every floor with wide stairways and fire-fighting equipment should be installed at every level and alternative exits together with ramps for the patients.
“Since the fire extinguishers have not been in use for several years now, nobody knows if these are functional,” said the staff member of Doon Hospital.
In the aftermath of the AMRI tragedy, fire officials say none of the hospitals or private clinics approached them for carrying out fire safety measures.
“We will be shortly holding a meeting with the hospital authorities so that they take up prior safety measures,” said Jena.
When the Tribune correspondent asked the CMS of Doon Hospital about the fire safety mechanism at the hospital, he said it had not been refurbished.
“I will soon hold talks with the fire safety officials to chalk out a strategy. I think our nurses and doctors are trained in following disaster management protocols but this tragedy has alerted us,” he said.
Courtesy: Dehradun Plus

Govt plans ill-conceived: Maneka

Dehradun, December 15
Lok Sabha MP and chairperson of the People for Animals Maneka Gandhi has termed the Uttarakhand Government’s plans to keep monkeys in rehabilitation centres as the most ill-conceived ones.
In a statement issued here today, Maneka said such rehabilitation centres had failed to serve purpose in the states of Delhi and Himachal Pradesh. “It results in the deaths of thousands of monkeys and since it breaks up groups, the result is far more monkeys roaming around in towns,” she pointed out.
“Two centres on 20 acres each as proposed by the Uttarakhand Government will require more than Rs 20 crore for their construction which will take at least 15 years to complete. Monkeys cannot live in cages as they will attack and kill each other as happened in Delhi,” she said.
Maneka has suggested to plant fruit and berry trees in the forest areas on a war footing. “Within three years the monkeys will go back to their original area. Instead of planting more figs and berries, the Forest Department has been focusing on sal, pine and teak plantations,” she observed.

Gujjars protest against forest officials

Dehradun, December 15
Gujjars residing in the forest areas of the Rajaji National Park today gathered at the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra to protest against the Forest Department officials.
Kulwa, a gujjar residing in the forest area between Haridwar and Dehradun, had first raised the banner of revolt against the British rule in 1824. But the ancestors of Kulwa are being prevented from leading a life of dignity and honour in the forests that are part of the Rajaji National Park.
The nomadic forest dwellers living in the forests for centuries are at the receiving end of the high-handed attitude of the forest officials. “They have taken away our rights and want to drive us out of the forest. For past two months, the forest officials have restricted our movement. They are preventing us form entering the forests and even services of ambulance and doctors are being denied,” charged Noor Jamal, a gujjar, while narrating his plight at a press conference.
The nomads who have also been denied the Scheduled Tribe status in the state have often been in conflict with the forest authorities. “Our forest rights, as envisaged in the Forest Dwellers Act (2006), have been jeopardised due to the attitude of the forest officials. They illegally charge fees when we begin our migratory trip to the mountains,” charged Jamal.
“We have given 20 days to the government to restore our forest rights otherwise some of the rehabilitated gujjars would swarm the Rajaji National Park area,” said Irshad.
At the heart of the gujjar problems is the rehabilitation exercise gone sour. “While the government rehabilitated 512 gujjar families in Pathri, they have not been given lease of the land. The gujjars of Gaindi Katha, 710 in number, have not been given houses. A total of 72 families who have to be rehabilitated have not been given plots,” said Avdhesh Kaushal, chairperson of the Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra (RLEK), an NGO that has set up the Milk federation with the gujjars. 

HC setback to BJP govt

Reinstates municipal boards in Hardwar and Haldwani, while doing away with the government’s decision to convert the two into municipal corporations
Nainital, December 15
In a decision that is likely to prove yet another setback for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the state, the Uttarakhand High Court has ordered the reinstatement of municipal boards in Hardwar and Haldwani while doing away with the government’s decision to convert the two into Municipal Corporations.
In a decision given by the Bench of Justice Sudhanshu Dhulia, the court has stated that the government’s move regarding the upgrading of the two boards was “unconstitutional”. It has ordered that the notification in the regard should be struck down.
The decision followed a series of legal and administrative procedures that were carried out for more than six months. It was in the month of May that the BJP government led by Dr Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank had decided to convert the two boards into corporations. This had been opposed by the elected members of the two bodies who had contested that the government could not do away with elected bodies in such a manner and that too without consultation with the elected representatives.
A petition in this regard had been filed with a single bench of the High Court cancelling the notification with regards to the constitution of Municipal Corporations on June 9 this year.
This had led to the state government filing a special appeal in the matter that had led to a double bench granting a 15-day stay on the initial order of the High Court while upholding the same.
Meanwhile, the government had gone ahead on June 29 to hold a hearing of the public, the chairpersons of the boards and the members.
This had been contested once again by the petitioners while claiming that the government had no right to call a public hearing. It could only take into account the views of the elected members. The court while upholding the contentions of the petitioners has finally done away with the government’s move of upgrading the two boards to corporations.
Counsel of the petitioners Lok Pal Singh told mediapersons, “The court has stated that the government’s move was unconstitutional.”
From the day the announcement in this regard had been made by Nishank, it was being stated by observers that the move was politically
motivated. The BJP would have a tough time explaining its stand before the voters when the campaign for the forthcoming Assembly poll picks up soon.

’84 anti-Sikh riots: Another witness comes forward against Bachchan

Amritsar, December 15
After various Sikh outfits pointed fingers towards Amitabh Bachchan in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, an "eyewitness" has come forward alleging that the actor had provoked the rioters in the aftermath of assassination of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
As per a release issued by Gurpatwant S. Pannun, legal adviser to 'Sikhs for Justice', 52-year-old Manjit Singh Saini, originally hailing from Kalu Sarai, Delhi, and at present residing in California, was present in front of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences on October 31, 1984, when Bachchan allegedly incited a mob to target a Sikh present there.
Pannun said Saini decided to break his silence after Bachchan approached Sri Akal Takht Sahib pleading innocence.

Sibal initiates dialogue with networking sites

New Delhi, December 15
Facing flak for suggesting policing of the internet, Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal today sought to douse the fire by initiating a dialogue with leading social networking firms Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Sibal had said last week that the government would take steps to screen and remove “derogatory” contents from these sites following posting of such comments against Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The Minister on Thusday appeared reconciliatory as he sought suggestions from the representatives of these sites on effective usage of these platforms.
The minister’s comment came a day after representatives from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft met him and declined to remove “offensive” content.
The minister last week stressed these firms would have to evolve a mechanism and come back with a solution. At the same time, he made it clear the government did not believe in either directly or indirectly interfering in the freedom of expression.
The minister’s comment led to a controversy over policing the internet. On Thursday, he came out with a statement, saying “the government called for an open dialogue with the social media firms and ask for opinions on how social media and e-governance can empower citizens of this country.”
Striking the reconciliatory mode the minister added, “This discussion and this dialogue are about how the social media can empower government, because under the normal processes of government, there is always a limited dialogue with representatives of society because the means are limited”.
In an apparent effort to bring around the defiant social network sites, the minister said, “But with the social media platforms that are now in place, there is a huge expansion of the space within which the dialogue can take place and therefore, that expansion of space should be used by us as a bridge that will help government to be empowered through the citizens”.
The minister was of the view that the reach of the social media was enormous, but those who use the social media were limited. “So it should not be that the government represents the point of view of a certain section of society,” he said.
Sibal said he asked the social network representatives, “How does the social media use its own platform to ensure that the voice of the marginalised is heard by government, which otherwise sometimes is not heard?”
He added that government wanted a constructive dialogue with these sites which “would help them to empower us when we move forward in our decision-making”.
Sibal sought to ignore the question when asked whether discussion took place with regard to monitoring of defamatory and derogatory content on the internet.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Doon Tuskers beat Khalsa Cricket Club

Dehradun, December 14
The Doon Tuskers defeated the Khalsa Cricket Club by 17 runs in the Twenty20 Beehive Challenger Cup Cricket Tournament played at Matawala Bagh Ground here today. The Doon Tuskers won the toss and elected to bat first. The team scored a total of 164 runs for five wickets in their allotted 20 overs. Shashank was the top scorer with 77 runs while Jitin scored 30 runs. Umang took two wickets for 20 runs and Mohit took two wickets for 24 runs for the Khalsa Club. The Khalsa Cricket Club, chasing the Doon Tuskers score, were all out for 147 runs, losing the match by 17 runs despite a heroic knock of 73 runs by Manu. Amit also scored 29 runs for te Khalsa Cricket Club but could not save his team from defeat as other batsmen failed to score.

All-India Forest Sports Meet from tomorrow


Dehradun, December 14
Uttarakhand Principal Chief Conservator of Forests RBS Rawat has hoped for a better performance from the state Forest Department contingent in the All-India Forest Sports Meet beginning in Dehradun from December 16. Addressing a press conference, Rawat said Uttarakhand Forest Department players had been coached at the Haldwani training camp for the past many months and he was hopeful for better performance in the games this time.
“I am very much hopeful that Uttarakhand will be placed among the first 10 in the overall medals tally”, he said.Rawat disclosed the state was all set to host the All-India Forest Sports Meet from December 16 to 20. He said a total of 13 committees had been constituted for smooth conduct of proceedings at the meet. He said around 3,000 participants and supporting staff would be participating in the various events that would take place at the venues of the FRI, the IMA, the Jaspal Rana Academy, the Central Academy of the State Forest Service College and Parade Ground.
He also held that that Uttarakhand Chief Minister BC Khanduri would be inaugurating the meet at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun, at 11.30.

HC orders CBI probe against Mussoorie MC officials

A black day for the Mussoorie Municipal Council
Mussoorie, December 14
What can be termed as the blackest day for one of the richest municipal councils in the state, an Uttarakhand High Court Bench comprising Chief Justice Baren Gosh and Justice UC Dhyani today ordered a CBI probe against the Mussoorie Municipal Council president OP Uniyal, other officials and members in response to the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by petitioner Vinod Prakash Thapliyal, who had levelled charges of financial embezzlement, nepotism and rampant corruption against the council and its president.

Speaking to The Tribune, the lawyer of petitioner A.Rab said that the High Court had also extended its previous order of restraining the MC from exercising its financial powers, except day-to-day work till six more months.
A.Rab also informed that the High Court in its order also said that the decision of suspending Mussoorie Municipal Council had been left to the state government.
The allegation of corruption and nepotism against the Palika began from the day when it awarded advance tenders benefiting a few individuals, including his own brother-in-law Manish Mamgain.
The issue of clock tower demolition and then its reconstruction also became the basis for such charges.
The raising of the price of the ticket at the ropeway at Gunhill point without providing any benefit to the council was also one of the issues in the PIL filed by the petitioner.

Sangathan seeks judicial rights for panchayats

Dehradun, December 14
The Uttarakhand Pradhan Sangathan has sought judicial rights for panchayats in the state as being provided in the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh.
At a seminar held here today, sanghatan president Surat Singh Negi accused the Uttarakhand Government of doing a little to empower panchayats in the state.
He said while panchayats in the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh were enjoying judicial rights, the panchayats in Uttarakhand lacked the same.
Chandra Singh, a former bureaucrat, said the panchayats had weakened considerably every since the judicial rights had been withdrawn from them. The sangathan has sought the restoration of these rights. He said there was a lack of commitment on part of political parties towards the strengthening of the panchayats. DP Uniyal, a senior journalist, said the panchayats must prepare a charter of their demands and submit the same to political parties in the run-up to the Assembly elections.
SD Petwal, an educationist, said it was strange that the government had failed to empower the panchayats.
Dwarika Prasad Bijalwan, Suresh Chandra Sharma and several other pradhans from various parts of the state attended the seminar.

Merger of UKD’s two factions ruled out

Pithoragarh, December 14
Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (Diwakar) leader Kashi Singh Airy ruled out the possibility of unity among the two factions of the UKD before the elections. Both the factions have charted their own ways.
The fight for the election symbol between two factions and the alliance of the UKD (Diwakar Bhatt faction) with the ruling BJP showed that the two are widening gaps between them,” said Airy.
Addressing a press conference, the senior leader the UKD (Panwar) said his party was willing to contest for all 70 Assembly seats in the state if the third front does not come into existence. “If the third front comes into existence, the party can leave 35 seats for the other front partners,” said Airy.
According to him, the final meeting to form the third front is likely to be held on December 25.
Commenting on the recent party meetings of the BJP and the Congress, the senior UKD leader said the parties were using state money earned through corrupt means on hiring choppers and aeroplanes to influence the common man.
The recent conclaves of these parties, in which the state helicopters and chartered aeorplanes were used in a big way in the district, showed the tendencies of the parties to influence the masses,” said Airy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Commercial complex, parking lot opened on Rajpur Road

These facilities form part of the Chakrata road widening project

Dehradun, December 13
Chief Minister BC Khanduri inaugurated a commercial complex and a parking lot near the Clock Tower on Rajpur Road and also opened the first phase of residential buildings at the ISBT here yesterday.
These facilities, which form part of the Chakrata road widening project, were dedicated to the people at a function held on the occasion.
Addressing a gathering of the displaced traders and residents of the narrow part of the Chakrata road starting from the Clock Tower, the Chief Minister expressed gratitude to them.
He said the development of the country and the state was possible with the assistance and cooperation of all sections of society.
He said the Chakrata road traders and businessmen had come forward to lend a helping hand and had paved the way for a new beginning in the shape of the ambitious project to widen the road, he added.
He further said the state government was committed to develop Dehradun as a city of international standards.
The Chief Minister said while it was quite natural for the inhabitants of this section of the Chakrata road to have developed emotional attachment to their respective places of living, the government on its part had taken note of the fact and had kept their interests in mind while doing the needful. On the occasion, he also expressed hope that the business ventures of the displaced traders would flourish and touch new heights in the new complex.
Among those who were present on the occasion were Vidhan Sabha Speaker Harbans Kapoor, Agriculture Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Sports Minister Khajan Das, Mayor, Dehradun, Vinod Chamoli, Zilla Panchayat Chairperson Madhu Chauhan, Rajpur MLA Ganesh Joshi, Srinagar MLA Brij Mohan Kotwal and a large number of public representatives, officials and eminent persons.
According to information, the commercial complex and the parking lot have been constructed at a total cost of Rs 3,412.36 lakh and the cost of residential flats is Rs 519.33 lakh. There are a total of 226 shops besides a parking facility for 444 vehicles. Besides, there are 79 two-room flats for the displaced persons.

All set to welcome New Year revellers

Rest houses in wildlife parks booked to capacity

Dehradun, December 13
With the year 2011 coming to an end, New Year revellers have started flocking wildlife-rich Uttarakhand. But forest authorities in the state are also taking all precautions to ensure that none of the tourists go for any misadventure in the forest territory.
There are over 200 Uttarakhand Forest Department's rest houses and dak bungalows in the state, and particularly those inside tiger famous Corbett and elephant famous Rajaji National Parks are in big demand.
The bookings for rest houses in Corbett and Rajaji National Parks are already full till the first week of January. While the Dikhala rest house in Corbett is reserved up to January 15 next year, all the rest houses of Rajaji Park at Ranipur and Chilla are also packed to capacity. There has been a big demand among tourists for forest rest houses and bungalows in Uttarakhand in the recent times as the most of those living in Delhi and other neighbouring metros prefer spending the year end with their families in the sylvan surroundings of nature and the protected areas of Uttarakhand.
The Uttarakhand forest authorities, too, have spruced up their rest houses in anticipation of the tourists. But the Forest Department also maintains a strict vigil during these days. The department, as a matter of policy, does not allow any mass activity in any of its rest houses and bungalows. The department ensures that there is no harm to forest biodiversity.
Rajaji Park Deputy Director Swaran Kumar said the tourist rush to Rajaji Park increases during the months of December and January, all due to vacations coupled with New Year celebrations at this time of the year. “But we maintain that the norms of stay inside protected areas are strictly observed,” Swaran Kumar pointed out. He said there was no question of any usage of loudspeakers or even a small informal public get-togethers inside a protected area as this may disturb the wildlife. “We are increasing our patrolling during these days,” he observed.

Monday, December 12, 2011

SGGR institute, US varsity to ink pact


Dehradun, December 12
Sri Guru Ram Rai (SGRR) Institute of Medical and Health Sciences is organising an international symposium on Recent Advances in Medical Disorders between December 14 and December 16 in association of the University of Kansas.
Addressing a press conference today, Principal of SGRR Institute of Medical and Health Sciences Dr SK Ghildiyal said the symposium was part of the exchange programme between the University of Kansas (the USA) and the SGRR Institute of Medical and Health Sciences.
“A memorandum of understanding will also be signed. It will allow students of SGRR institute to undertake studies and research at Kansas, similarly the students of Kansas too will come and undertake research,” said Dr Ghildiyal.
At the symposium, papers on advances in medicine, surgery gynaecology, orthopaedic, paediatrics, thyro diabetes, cardiac prevention and cervical cancer will be presented.

Tehsil status sought for Doiwala


Dehradun, December 12
Workers of the Congress today held a demonstration at the Block Development Office, Doiwala, here.
Led by former adviser to the Uttarakhand Irrigation Department Manish Kumar Nagpal, the demonstrators alleged that the Doiwala region of Dehradun had been completely deprived of development in the past five years. Manish Nagpal reminded that Doiwala was being represented by a BJP MLA for the past many years and accused him of taking least interest in the development of the region.
Submitting a memorandum to the Block Development Officer, Doiwala, the Congress leaders said the government hospital at Doiwala was devoid of adequate infrastructure.

100 yrs of history, glory of capital Delhi


New Delhi, December 12
The political and cultural capital of several empires, Delhi today celebrated 100 years of its re-emergence as the capital of modern India.

Even though Delhi is wrapped in centuries of history, it was the British Empire that gave the city -- also called Lutyens’ Delhi -- its modern-day capital and seat of power, New Delhi. It was proclaimed as the capital of British Raj on December 12, 1911, shifting from Kolkata, by then Emperor of India George V, thereby returning to the historic city its lost glory.
And with a view to introduce people to New Delhi’s rich heritage, the Delhi Government and cultural agencies have hosted an array of events, exhibitions, cultural performances and other festivals that give a generous peep into its exquisite history.
“The foundation of the British Capital was first laid in December 1911 by two leading 20th century British architects, Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. However, it was not just Lutyens’ work but that of many other unsung architects that made New Delhi what it is today,” said AGK Menon, convener of the Delhi chapter of the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Lutyens laid out the central administrative area. At the heart of the city, he built the Rashtrapati Bhavan, four bungalows inside the President's Estate, India Gate and the Hyderabad and Baroda palaces at India Gate. Sir Robert Tor Russell built Connaught Place, the Eastern and Western Courts, Teen Murti House, Safdarjung Airport, National Stadium and over 4,000 government houses.
The Secretariat building which houses various ministries of the Government of India, including the Prime Minister Office was designed by Herbert Baker. He also designed the impressive North Block and South Block.
E. Montague Thomas designed and built the first Secretariat building of New Delhi, which set the style for the bungalows that followed. The other bungalows of New Delhi are the work of architects like WH Nicholls, CG and FB Blomfield, Walter Sykes George, Arthur Gordon Shoosmith and Henry Medd.
It was due to Lord Hardinge that Lutyens’ Delhi got its landmark roundabouts in the central region. Lutyens had initially designed the streets at right angles. WR Mustoe, director of horticulture, was responsible for the roadside planting work on New Delhi'savenues. In fact, Mustoe and Walter Sykes George landscaped and planted Lutyens' Mughal Garden.
Though there was no official ceremony to mark the occasion today, a book on the history of seven cities of Delhi ‘Red Fort to Raisina’, edited by JP Losty, Union Minister Salman Khursheed, conservation architect Ratish Nanda and ‘Seminar’ publisher Malvika Singh was released by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.
‘Dastann-e-Dilli', an exhibition on the city, will be inaugurated by Dikshit and Lt-Governor Tejinder Khanna on Wednesday. Organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), the exhibition will showcase the culture of Delhi through photographs and lithographs from the ancient to modern times. The inauguration of the exhibition will be followed by ‘Mehfil-e-Dilli’ with performances by renowned Kathak dancer Shovana Narayan and a Thumri recital by Kumud Jha Diwan.
The ‘Dilli Ke Pakwan Festival' is already running at Baba Kharag Singh Marg. The national capital will also host year-long celebrations beginning January to showcase its rich cultural heritage.

CONSUMER COURTS


ICICI Bank fined Rs 50,000

Chandigarh, December 12
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum-I has slapped a fine of Rs 50,000 on ICICI Bank for illegally raising foreclosure charges, prepayment charges of Rs 5,00,825 from a resident of Sector 11, who foreclosed the loan in view of the higher rate of interest.
The district forum-I comprising president PD Goel and members, Rajinder Singh Gill and Madanjit Kaur Sahota, also directed the respondents to pay Rs 25,000 as costs of litigation to complainants.
The complainants, Yash Paul Singla and others, submitted that in August 2007, they availed a loan of Rs 1.70 crore from the opposite party against a shop-cum-office in Sector 26, Chandigarh, at an interest of 13.5 per cent per annum and paid Rs 95,506 as processing fee. A total of Rs 75 lakh were disbursed in September 2007, while the balance was disbursed in June 2008 due to which the installment was increased from Rs 1,38,487 to Rs 3,22,078 per month.
They alleged that the opposite party without their consent enhanced the rate of interest from 13.5 per cent to 14.5 per cent per annum on July 8, 2008, which was again increased to 15 per cent. It has been averred that on their persistent requests, the opposite parties decreased the rate of interest by 0.5 per cent in January 2009 and 0.25 per cent in August, 2009. They said the opposite parties were now charging 14.25 per cent per annum, whereas other financial institutions are charging 12 to 13 per cent interest. Ultimately, they decided to foreclose the loan and the opposite party charged prepayment penalty of Rs 5,00,825 on the principal outstanding amount, which is illegal and arbitrary and the same was not refunded to them despite their repeated requests and visits.

Ajit Singh’s RLD joins UPA


New Delhi, December 12
A beleaguered ruling Congress received two consolation prizes today with Ajit Singh, leading the 5-member Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), giving his letter of support to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Samajwadi Party (SP) Rajya Sabha MP Rasheed Masood, a Muslim leader of consequence in western UP, joining the ruling party.
Ajit Singh met PM Manmohan Singh, soon after his meeting with the UPA chairperson, giving rise to speculation that his induction into the Union Cabinet, possibly as the country’s Civil Aviation Minister, could take place any day now.
With this, the ruling UPA numbers have gone up from 272 to 277 MPs. In a House of 544, the Government requires a minimum of 272 MPs for a simple majority.
Confirming the meeting, AICC general secretary in charge of UP Digvijaya Singh said, “Ajit Singh gave a letter to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi stating that the RLD would like to join the alliance and the latter has agreed to this."
He, however, sidestepped the issue of Ajit Singh’s induction as Civil Aviation Minister saying, "You are addressing this question to the wrong person."
He simultaneously introduced former Union Minister Rasheed Masood to the media who declared that, “I have taken this decision in view of the way communal forces are trying to gain strength by using the issue of corruption," Masood said.
He said that his decision was also prompted by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's “controversial” statement to the effect that giving reservation to Muslims within the OBC quota would affect the share of the other OBCs.
Masood’s induction is expected to help the Congress party swing the Muslim vote a little more in its favour in western UP districts of Saharanpur and Muzaffarnagar where he has some standing.
Under the agreement, the RLD will contest 45 seats in the UP Assembly elections expected sometime early next year leaving the rest of the 403 for the Congress.

TACKLING DRUNKEN DRIVING

Mumbaikars may be allowed New Year bash on terraces

Mumbai, December 12
Mumbaikars may be allowed to party on their building terraces and in their compounds till 5 am on New Year day as part of the city police’s efforts to curb drunken driving. The police also wants fewer people on the streets on the New Year’s Eve as part of the security measures.
“Cases of drunken driving go up sharply on the night of December 31 every year,” says a senior police official. Last year, he says, more than 1,000 drunk drivers were arrested in Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai. “Fewer people may venture out if they are allowed to hold parties on their building premises,” the officer said. A final decision on this will be taken a few days before New Year’s Eve.
On most days, music systems in Mumbai are to be switched off by 10 pm as part of the Supreme Court’s directives to control noise pollution. Stand-alone restaurants and bars have to take last orders by 1 am and down their shutters half an hour later on normal days. The hotel industry has appealed to the police for permission to stay open till 3.30 am on Christmas and New Year’s Day which fall on Sunday this year.
“We have appealed to the police for permission to stay open till early morning on Christmas and New Year Day just like in the case of five-star hotels,” says Sudhakar Shetty of the Association of Hotel and Restaurant Owners (AHAR).
Last year, the Mumbai police was asked not to crackdown on private parties for violation of prohibition rules. In Maharashtra, those drinking liquor are expected to hold permits issued by the state government. In addition, organisers of private parties where liquor is to be served are expected to obtain extra licences.

SC: House allotment price can’t be hiked after 7 yrs


New Delhi, December 12
The Haryana Housing Board cannot ask the beneficiaries to pay any additional cost seven years after allotting the houses, even if the Board has to shell out higher compensation to the landowners at a later stage for acquiring the land, the Supreme Court ruled today.
The rationale for the seven-year deadline “was that once the allottee pays the total price, he may not be subjected to the burden of additional cost after a number of years,” a Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and SJ Mukhopadhaya held in a verdict.
The apex court gave the ruling while allowing the appeals filed by some of those who had been allotted houses at Sonepat in 1978 under the schemes meant for economically weaker sections (EWS), lower income group (LIG) and middle income group (MIG).
The allottees had challenged the Board’s additional demand raised against them 10 years after the allotments. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had rejected their pleas at the level of the single judge as well as the Division Bench, prompting them to approach the Supreme Court.
The Bench accepted the contentions of the Board and the Haryana Government that the allotment letters as well as the Hire Purchase Tenancy Agreement (HPTA) had made it clear that the price of the tenement specified at the time of allotment was subject to revision in the light of the final bills representing the cost of construction or the land.
However, it was the Board which had “consciously incorporated” in the Hire Purchase Tenancy Agreement a prohibition against change in the price after seven years from the date of allotment of tenements, the Bench pointed out.
After including the seven-year deadline, “there is no reason why it should not be asked to honour the commitment made to the allottees that they will not live under the fear of being asked to pay additional price after an indefinite period,” the Bench reasoned.
Unfortunately, the high court did not give due weightage to the prohibition clause, the apex court noted. The wordings of the price regulations made it clear that the “Board had kept in view all the eventualities which could lead to an increase in the cost of land made available for construction of the tenements and yet it thought proper to put an embargo against the revision of price after seven years”.
“In the result, the appeals are allowed ...and the demand notices issued by Estate Manager, Sonepat, quashed,” the SC ruled.

MINORITIES IN PAK


RS members express concern

New Delhi, December 12
Rajya Sabha (
Council of States is the upper house of the Parliament of India.)members today expressed concern over fear and insecurity under which minorities, particularly Hindus and Sikhs, lived in Pakistan. Cutting across party lines, they asked the government to take up the issue with Islamabad with some even wanting India to take up the issue at an international forum like the UN.
Worry over atrocities on minorities in Pakistan and killings of some Hindus recently, raised during Zero Hour by Avinash Rai Khanna (BJP), not just found unequivocal support from his party colleagues, but also MS Gill of the Congress. Gill urged the government to take up the issue seriously. Khanna was in fact supported by members from all political parties, associating themselves with the issue.
Khanna said Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission in its recent report had pointed out such atrocities on minorities, including Hindus, Sikhs and Christians, whose property and life were not secure in that country.
The BJP member said many Hindu families from Pakistan had been camping in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Rajpura and Khanna for quite some time, refusing to return home despite expiry of their visas. They are seeking Indian citizenship.
Around 28 families had also settled in Delhi’s Majnu Ka Tilla area, seeking Indian citizenship, Khanna said. Lamenting that the Indian government was not doing anything in support of minorities in Pakistan he added that “the government has not spoken a word in their support”.
SS Ahluwalia (BJP) joined his colleague and asked the government to take up the matter with the United Nations.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Global distrust peaked in Durban


The Durban Conference on Climate Change finally ended on the wee hours of Saturday after running for over 24 hours beyond schedule. By Friday, the two-week meeting being held at the International Convention Centre in Durban, had broken down into the ministerial-level huddles - small groups of top leaders meeting to thrash out a consensus. The halls outside were full of people waiting for some action. But strangely enough, there was no sense of anticipation or excitement. Strange in a world that is increasingly feeling the pains of climate change and that knows that time is running out.
Fight of good versus bad?
To the climate uninitiated, Durban has been portrayed as a fight between the ‘good’ - namely, the European Union (EU) - and the ‘bad’ - in this case, India in specific and China in general. The EU wants to move the world, and urgently; it has set a target for the completion of a new agreement by 2015 at the latest. It expects that this agreement will be legally binding and will include all countries to take commitments to reduce emissions in the future. This is necessary because the existing agreement, Kyoto Protocol, only sets emission reduction targets for the industrialised countries. Now with the world changing, China’s annual emissions have overtaken the US and India’s are growing as well, the new agreement must have all these countries on board. This is all good and necessary. The world indeed needs urgent action and the emerging world’s emissions have increased: therefore, new kinds of agreements are necessary.
So, all the countries that oppose this position are clearly in the dock. At this moment, the guns are being fired at the US, which has for long opposed a legal arrangement, and on China and India, who are seen to be on the side of the ‘bad’. At a press conference, EU’s climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard on Friday morning said all countries (other than the three in opposition) were supportive of this new arrangement. The die had been cast. The endgame was awaited.
But this, as I said, is how the climate-na├»ve, the climate uninitiated would see it. The fact is that climate change negotiators know that the US will not agree to a legally binding arrangement. US special envoy on climate change Todd Stern had made it clear that “the United States could support a process to negotiate a new climate accord and for this it supports a legally binding agreement - therefore, the agreement to talk could be binding. But it does not, under any circumstances, support that the result should be legally binding.” This is not new.
The Kyoto Protocol had been dumped by the US on these grounds. So, there is little chance that the US will now bow to a deal which is legally binding. At a press briefing, when asked this question, Alden Meyer from the US NGO, Union of Concerned Scientists, said that they would hope that the US would accept these terms because of civil society pressure. But this is when the same civil society is struggling to get its country to take even the minimum emission reduction targets and make them happen.
The US had agreed in Cancun to cut its emissions by 17 per cent by 2020, but over its 2005 levels. Given that US emissions actually peaked by 2005, increased 1 billion tonne over 1990 levels, this is a meaningless deal. It means the US will reduce by only 3 per cent below its 1990 levels, when it needs to cut by 40 per cent in this period, based on past, present and future dangers. So, there is little chance that civil society pressure will work this time to get the redline shifted - move the country to a global legally binding agreement.
If the world knows that the US will not bite, why then this insistence on setting this ambitious timeline, and taking it so far that it could even jeopardise the entire climate agreement reached so far? The EU’s strategy is that once it breaks China and India into joining this agreement, it will force the US to accept the deal as well. This is because the US has made it clear that the only other thing it wants is to bring down the famous firewall - the differentiation between the developed and developing countries, which separates the countries responsible for climate change from the rest. It wants all to take action commonly and the EU will do the hatchet job. This is the grand design.
But the fact is this means that instead of putting pressure on the US, all that Durban is ending up doing is to push India and China against the wall. This when the deal, past or future, has to be based on the fundamental principle of equity and fairness in burden sharing. But this time, this is the one question that is particularly inconvenient at Durban.
Final outcome
The final agreement is mixed. The opposition of India and other countries, to a legally binding agreement, without adequate safeguards to respect the principle of differentiation has been accepted. Instead of a legally binding agreement in the future, the Durban platform has agreed that the future outcome could be a range of options, from a process to develop a protocol, another legal instrument or an agreed outcome with legal force”.
It agrees that this work should be completed by 2015, so that this new agreement or outcome can be implemented from 2020. Now, the challenge will be to ensure that this future agreement accounts for the historical and current emissions of countries in setting targets.
The meeting has also agreed to the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol — again a key demand of developing countries. The next challenge will be to set quantified emission reduction targets for all industrialised countries so that they can reduce emissions between 25-40 per cent over 1990 levels by 2020.
The third big delivery of the conference is to set up the Green Climate Fund to pay for mitigation and adaptation in the vulnerable countries of the world. But this fund is without any money as the industrialised countries say that recession means that they cannot pay. Now the big question is how innovative sources of financing can be raised.
But one thing is clear: this CoP will go down in climate history as one where global distrust has peaked. It also means that building trust will be difficult in this increasingly divided and discordant atmosphere and without this, action on an issue as contested, as climate change will be impossible. Furthermore, if the future agreement, which will be negotiated in the next two years, is not based on the underlying condition of equity in past and future carbon budgets, then this city of Durban will become famous for starting a new era of climate apartheid.
The author is Director, Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi, and a Member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change