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Tuesday, Apr 05, 2005

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Inside Delhi

Anything but office

It seems all rules and regulations of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) at its Palika Kendra headquarters are meant to inconvenience the general public who come for redressal of their grievances. The authorities apparently have no control over their own employees who openly flout the rules and regulations.

For instance, take the case of lunch break where the employees enjoy an extended recess. While a large number of them can be seen playing cards on the lawns right at the entrance, there are groups who take part in daily "kirtan sabhas" held in at least two offices at the headquarters.

Only a handful of employees stick to the 30-minute lunch break schedule, while the rest return to their desks only after an hour. In fact, a large number of them go for their "routine stroll" to the nearby Connaught Place or Janpath market.

Interestingly, for several years, "kirtan sabhas" are being organised in at least two floors of Palika Kendra between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., one just beneath the Chairperson's office, where the office area is converted into a mini congregation hall where employees assemble and sing "kirtans".

Another major "eyesore" that senior NDMC authorities blatantly ignore is their employees playing cards on the lawns. "Their number swell during the lunch hour and its looks as if a majority of the civic body employees are playing cards. To be sure, drivers of NDMC cars and Class IV employees play cards all through the day," rues an NDMC official.

Broadband blues

You thought your "connectivity" problems were over the moment you got the MTNL Broadband service installed at your residence. How wrong you were! Your problems just got started! Or that is what a customer says.

Our customer had it installed on March 28. He was told to upgrade his computer's operating system from Windows 98 to Windows 2000 or Windows XP before MTNL got into action. This despite the MTNL offer specifically stating that anything from Windows 98 upward would do. He complied all right and, to his pleasant surprise, the MTNL men were at his door the very next day. Such prompt service!

The men knew very little about computers, says the customer. Our friend had to help out. MTNL charges Rs 300 for installation, if plugging in a few wires could be called that.

MTNL also boasts of a 256kbps speed for the base service that goes for Rs 399 a month. "It should be less than half that speed," bemoans our customer. But then he was not immediately concerned about the speed; his prime requirement was "connectivity". Having got fed up with a Local Area Network (LAN) service that used to pack up at the slightest hint of rain, our customer had keenly looked forward to an uninterrupted service when he opted for the MTNL package.

On the night of March 29, barely 36 hours after he got the broadband connection, there was an abrupt end to his "browsing pleasure". All that he got was "cannot find server" on his browser and "destination host unreachable" while trying to "ping". That meant the MTNL service was no longer functional at least through his connection. It was the beginning of his woes.

Started a series of complaints to 1504 and e-mail messages to the MTNL Broadband Helpdesk. Curiously, the listener invariably asked him one question after he conveyed his telephone number: "Which exchange is yours?"

He was stumped. MTNL asking about exchanges!

He did get a couple of calls from MTNL Internet section, enquiring about his problem. Once he was told that his problem could have started since he might have changed his password! He indeed had. But if passwords are not for changing and frequently at that how will one protect one's password, he wondered. Repeated complaints to the Helpdesk numbers brought forth only one answer: "Your complaint has been registered and forwarded already."

But nothing moved. His telephone connection was alive, his modem was functioning, and his PC was all right. But no luck with his brand new broadband connection. That is till the afternoon of April 4. Then, just as it had gone off, the connection was restored. With a difference. His password had been changed back to the original without his knowledge!

A bottleneck

Every year the Delhi Government spends crores of rupees on widening the roads. However, all the efforts practically mean nothing to the commuters as either the Delhi police or other agencies put up barricades at will on the city roads thereby reducing the road space. And now beating all others in this game of road encroachment is the toll tax collection agency -- Banas Sands.

On National Highway 24 in the Ghazipur area of East Delhi, the agency has cut off one full lane of the highway for toll tax collections from vehicles entering the Capital. But while this would not have caused much of a trouble as the road is now four lanes wide as Delhi Development Authority has recently completed the construction of a flyover there, it is the placement of barricades alongside which is becoming a matter of concern.

The toll tax booths now exist on both the sides of the road. So the vehicles which have to pay up line up on both sides. Then there are at least three barricades which block the flow of traffic in between these two lanes, thereby leaving just one meandering lane for vehicles to pass by. Since the flow of traffic is really heavy on this road, this creates a bottleneck, which during peak hours gets on the nerves of the motorists. But the toll tax agency seems least bothered about the whole scenario. And with the agency coming under the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, there also seems to be no mechanism by which one can seek a redressal of this overbearing problem.

As for the Delhi police personnel standing nearby, they are probably the last ones the citizens would approach with their complaint. For they too have a penchant for putting up their own barricades and leaving them unattended most of the time. In such a scenario, it seems the Delhi Government really needs to have a fresh look at its policy of widening the roads. For ultimately it is only the "encroachers'' who benefit from them.

K. P. Mohan and

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

By Sandeep Joshi, K. P. Mohan and Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

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