Friday, May 30, 2014

High court returns Raahgiri reins to organizers

GURGAON: The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon to allow the original team of NGOs and citizens' groups associated with Raahgiri Day to organize the weekly event without "insisting on deposit of any advertisement fee/charges or prior approval".

The instruction was issued by a special division bench of justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tewari in open court last week as an aside to an ongoing PIL hearing, after the main petitioner in the case, Navdeep Asija, brought up the matter of Raahgiri Day and the MCG's recent move to take on the role of the event's organizer.

The interim order issued by the high court, a copy of which is with TOI, states: "We direct the Municipal Corporation, Gurgaon, to permit the NGOs, namely, 'Peddal Yatri', 'India Cycle Service', 'EMBARQ India', 'I am Gurgaon' and 'Road Safety Officers', to organize 'Raahgiri' programme in Gurgaon on Sundays without insisting them for the deposit of any advertisement fee/charges or prior approval."

"I drew the court's attention to the show-cause notice issued by the MCG on May 5, 2014, to the Raahgiri Day organizers. The bench said that the MCG has been directed to support Raahgiri Day, and also to provide all the approvals and necessary support required to the organizers," Navdeep Aseeja told TOI.

The MCG's show-cause notice effectively withdrew organizing rights from the core group of Raahgiri Day associates, although it was addressed only to EMBARQ India. The notice stated that "prior permissions" are mandatory to obtain "if any advertisement has to be put up" around the venues, and that it was also deemed necessary for the organizers to deposit an "appropriate government fee with the Municipal Corporation". The notice concluded by instructing the addressee to "not organize this event till further intimation by the district authorities in the matter".

According to Asija's counsel, advocate A P S Shergill, the high court's new directive virtually gives the green light to the original organizers to continue running the event as before on the community-initiative model, which was reportedly lauded by the bench. "The honourable bench said that the NGOs which started this event should be allowed to organize it without any interference from the district authorities," said Shergill.

The MCG commissioner, Praveen Kumar, said on Thursday evening that he was yet to see the official order. "I have not seen the exact order, and won't be able to comment on that. Let me get some clarification on this first," Kumar told TOI. He said that the original team of organizers would be allowed to play a part in putting together Raahgiri Day, as per the directive of the high court. "They will certainly be included in this event. But they will not be the sole runners of the show, as was the case in the past. Their inclusion doesn't have to come at the cost of the exclusion of the government agencies," Kumar said.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Punjab and Haryana high court asks govt to draw up mobility plan for cities

Times of India, December 13, 2013
GURGAON: The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed government agencies in Haryana to work out a comprehensive mobility plan for cities, a shot in the arm for Gurgaon's Raahgiri Day movement that has pioneered the campaign for non-motorized transport in India.

In its order, a special bench of Justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tewari emphasized the urban mobility plan must be workable and must effectively "address the problems of newly-developed urban areas as well as the old townships and cities".

The bench agreed with P Raghvendra Rao, principal secretary, urban local bodies, Haryana, that there was urgent need for such a plan and directed the authorities concerned to hold a meeting under the chairmanship of the chief secretary in the coming weeks. The meeting, according to the order, is to be "attended by all principal secretaries and heads of departments", and is to be held "before the next date of hearing", which is in February next year.

This will be of particular significance to a city like Gurgaon, where an integrated mobility plan already exists, although the prescriptions made in this document are yet to be implemented. Analysts say a legal push is more likely to make Gurgaon's decision-makers act and take the necessary steps towards upgrading the non-motorized infrastructure here. "This was a special bench of the high court, with justices Surya Kant and Ajay Tewari, which deals with issues related to non-motorized transport. The bench directed both the states of Haryana and Punjab to form a committee under the chief secretaries and formulate a comprehensive mobility plan. The authorities were basically told to come out with a policy for the handling of non-motorized transport. This will have a special bearing on places like Gurgaon, where a plan already exists," said Navdeep Asija, an expert in sustainable transport who was present at the court on the day of hearing.

According to HUDA administrator Praveen Kumar, a part of the existing mobility plan - which is titled the 'Integrated Mobility Plan for Gurgaon-Manesar Urban Complex' - has already reached the implementation stage. "And the rest of it has been taken into the agenda. The implementation work is definitely going to happen. I haven't seen the latest order. But we've already had a detailed meeting under the chairmanship of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) head Bhure Lal about the integrated mobility plan for Gurgaon, and we have figured out the steps that we now have to take," Kumar told TOI.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

PSEB declares Class 12 results; Muskan Verma of Fazilka tops with 99.56% marks

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, May 11, 2014

Muskan Verma of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Fazilka, has topped the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) exams for Class 12 in non-medical stream with 99.56 percent marks. She scored 448 out of 450 marks.
Daisy Garg of Sprigdale's Public Senior Secondary School, Sangrur, bagged the second position in the state with 98.22 percent marks, while Charu of GTB Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Malout, secured the third position with 98 percent.
The overall pass percentage of the board is 84.42 percent as compared to 78.97 in 2013.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Illegal hoardings: HC summons Haryana roadways GM, reporter

Hindustan Times, 3rd May 2014, Chandigarh Edition
Ignored orders of not allowing hoardings by side of roads in Panchkula

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday summoned Haryana roadways general manager Rohtash Kumar for violation of court orders of not allowing hoardings by the side of roads in Panchkula.

The court also summoned a vernacular reporter for explanation on the next date, May 30, about the allegations of road safety exper t Navdeep Asija that the reporter was trying to manage him and had also published misleading a news report on April 19.
Asija on Friday submitted in the court headed by justice Rajive Bhalla that the newspaper report described that the measurement of roundabouts in Panchkula by him (Asija) were wrong. Asija was earlier directed by the high court to carry out a study on advertising sites in around 18 cities and submit his report.
Asija submitted that the wrong facts were produced in news in order to derail the ongoing process for some specific and vested interests.
He informed the court that there was an apparent connivance between Ashok, proprietor of advertising company Taksh Media, and the reporter.
He also added that the reporter used to call him time and again to get the final copy of the report about the survey of advertising sites.

Asija further alleged that the reporter was earlier working with an English newspaper (not Hindustan Times) and it was due to the constant unethical practices that he was expelled from the newspaper. He prayed for taking action against the reporter and the newspaper for publishing an unverified article.
The petitioner Bhupinder Singh had highlighted the issue by placing on record photographs of various neon boards and hoardings facing the highways and main roads put up by the authorities in Gurgaon in blatant violation of the Supreme Court as well as the high court directions, which were one of the causes for distraction of drivers and road accidents.
A number of advertising companies had later moved the court that if their advertisements put after tendering process were to be removed then they should be allotted alternate site.