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The Buzz in Big Cities

YSR chariots in Assembly line

The YSR juggernaut is set to hit Andhra’s mean streets.

The “Impact” convoys Ś festooned vehicles meant to spread the good word about the Congress regime through posters, billboards and live folk music performances Ś will raise the heat and dust for the elections in 2009.

“Video pamphlets, skits, songs and speeches of the chief minister are being digitised for programmes of 30 minutes to an hour. The messages will be spiced up with screenings of a popular Telugu film in the villages,” said an official of the state’s information department, which has conceived and executed the plan.

YSR’s chariots of propaganda will also distribute handbills, posters and audio cassettes describing the government’s performance in the past four years. Each Assembly segment will have a dedicated van for the purpose.

Forty-seven such vehicles will roll out initially and, though the entire exercise has been assigned to contractors, district collectors will supervise it.

The campaign will focus on the ambitious schemes, such as those on housing and irrigation, which have been touted as the state government’s showpiece projects.

Look beyond ‘switch-off’

Mumbai switched off for an hour last week to save power but the darkness in the rest of Maharashtra goes deeper.

The man who runs the company that lights up much of the state believes far too many people are enjoying unpaid electricity than the amount Mumbai can spare.

“The arrears exceed Rs 11,000 crore. We have to make strenuous efforts to recover the dues. We need to stop power to the defaulters,” said A.B. Pandey, who heads the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company.

Monthly collections now add up to a maximum of Rs 1,600 crore. The amount spent on salaries and interest alone comes to Rs 2,000 crore. Another Rs 1,400 crore goes in paying for the power purchased from other agencies, resulting in a deficit of Rs 1,800 crore.

Leash on rickshaws

The road for rickshaws in the capital will not be easy any more.

Under a new policy unveiled by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi recently, licences will only be given to bona fide residents Ś those with proof of having stayed in the capital for at least a year.

The move is expected to hit migrants who pull the three-wheelers and pay the owners a fixed sum at the end of the day. “The new rules are meant to discourage people who come to Delhi for a short period and are not familiar with the city’s traffic rules,” the policy says.

Officials said the new system would help keep tabs on those involved in the profession as all of them would be registered.

The policy also sets other stiff conditions. One of these will allow the authorities to cancel a licence if a rickshaw is fined seven times in three months for violation of traffic rules.

Schoolchildren can only be ferried on specially designed rickshaws.

Health check

An agreement signed last week holds out hope of better services and facilities in the capital's state-run hospitals.

The improvements could come as a result of a pact that the Delhi government signed with the Quality Council of India.

Under the agreement, all state-run hospitals and medical institutions must attain the standards set by the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals in three years.

The council will offer technical advice and support to prepare the hospitals for accreditation under the board’s benchmark.

Delhi: This Sunday, watch Taj Mahal ka Tender, a comic play centred around the characters of a fictitious Shah Jahan and three contractors who are out to dupe him. The venue: Alliance Francaise, next to the India International Centre. Shows at 4pm and 7pm.

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