with love to indore

Monday, November 24, 2008

Last post before voting

I happened to visit Indore on 22nd and 23rd. It was an interesting journey.

First flight from Bangalore to Indore. there is only one flight by air Deccan and whenever i have used it it was always full I do not understand why other airlines are not following the trend.

One sore point there were more passengers for Nagpur than Indore - while I expected it to be reverse.

One pleasant thing was that even in lobby I could guess who were the people going to Indore and who were going to other places. So that touch is still there

Now Indore has no changed. Some slums have come up even near airport.

Election wise it was Rahul Gandhi's meeting so main roads in western indore were jam and I was held while going for a marriage.

Vivek Agrawala is gone but his ill conceived BRTS is troubling people to no end.It is strange that a project of such monumental importance and of such magnitude was planned by a single man without any oversight and interference and no one questioned him - a poor reflection on out politicians and intellectuals

Another point of disappointment is local media.It is open secret that both major newspapers take money from candidates to do their publicity or write against their opponents. They have failed local public. So no one writes about flop meeting of Rajnath singh in Bhopal or how many inquiries are pending against Ramesh Mandola and Kailash Vijayvargiya or why Sanjay Shukla is called Bahubali.

well my predictions are

Indore 1 - congress ( vaise i dislike both candidates but Sudarshan Gupta gives an eerie feeling by his appearacne only -villain from old Hindi movies)

Indore 2 - Ramesh Mandola - will reap fruits of work done by Kailash vijayvargiya and is also using money

Indore 3- BJP, due to addition of 8 wards

Indore 4 - BJP , sympathy, good image of late Lakshman singh gaud though his family members have harassed public

Indore 5 - dicey but BJP has an upper hand

Mhow - most interestign but moeny oculd tilt balance in favor of BJP

Sanweer - Tulasi silwat is in storng position

Rau - Congress has upper edge

Depalpur - BJP

One very disquieting thing was no local NGO questioning leaders about past promises, deeds or misdeeds. Just a customary press conference in press club. No sharp writing by academicians in so called education hub of city to expose various false claims being made by political parties.

Civil society of Indore does not evoke nay confidence and if this is any indication of things to come we are doomed to be ruled by bhajan singers & pani wale babas

Thursday, November 20, 2008

MANIT bhopal :root of trouble

His name is uttered in a bit of hush-hush manner, but it features far too often when any negative development hits the only NIT in State – the Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology. The once premier institute remains in news only for wrong reasons these days and it looks like this man – Sanjeev Saxena – is behind most of the problems ailing the NIT.

Saxena was a former student and is actually a present student too as he is apparently registered for Ph D with the institute. He turned a builder and somehow managed to grab all the construction tenders in the institute. He also managed to call the shots and got people of his choice recruited and promoted though the institute is directly governed by Union Ministry of HRD.

He allegedly used lure and blackmail to get the authorities to do as per his wishes and any one who did not fall in line was somehow taken out of the scene.

The bevy of irregularities that came to light in MN Buch Committee report point direct and indirect fingers at Saxena and persons of his proximity. As to why the MHRD is not taking any action despite different enquiries and indications remains a big mystery.

The suicide of a student on Saturday again brought to fore the immense negative influence that Saxena wields over the institute. Students cried hoarse that it was the pressure of Saxena that led the institute administration to harass the students so that they could be controlled.

They flashed voter ID cards that were apparently got made by Saxena for each student, eligible or not, so that he could garner some additional votes in the assembly elections that he is contesting in Bhopal. The students also named in for various other irregularities.

But surprisingly, Saxena’s name did not officially feature in their list of demand, nor did the students go ahead and file a police complaint. The fact that Saxena’s wife is training and placement officer of the institute makes a lot of difference to them.

So who is to reign in Saxena? Media does not write about him directly for lack of direct proof. No one dares and goes ahead to name him on record. And despite Buch Committee report naming him in indirect manner, no action is initiated by MHRD.

Can a single man ruin a national level institute for his own personal gains and isn’t there any system that could prevent him from doing it? It still remains a question.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bahubalis in Indore election

Congress has fielded three bahubalis

Sanjay shukla from indore 1
Ashwin joshi from indore 3
and premchand guddu (earlier he used to contest from sanwer) from Alot in ratlam

interestingly all three of them are likely to win due to poor candidate selection by BJP

Five star health centre at Guna

a letter by a reader in central chronicle. Details about how money is being wasted

State children cry for help
Child deaths are highest in MP. It is not that these babies cannot be saved. Need is of health centres to save their lives. Not hi tech centre like we have in Mumbai, but simple health centre at every village. A basic health centre, which has medicines and some simple facilities, can help prevent deaths to a great extent.

The deaths of these children are not only happening because of lack of the centre. Health Centres are there but they lack facilities, doctors and needed medicines. State of health in Madhya Pradesh is pathetic. Children not only die in homes of villages of central India but in hospitals too.

MP needs to increase facilities at the primary health centres community and district hospitals like other states. They need to have doctors who will run centres and staff that will take care of these. Important thing here is that we have funds for the same. Funds is not the problem, it is the utilisation and use of funds, which is problematic.

State gets huge funds from GoI under National Rural health mission and many international donors like United Nations agencies, Japanese Funds, UK DFID, WHO and World bank. All of the donors try to set up one or two hi tech centres mainly at district level and forget what happens to the rest of children. Glaring example of this a sick care new born unit set up in Guna by UNICEF which helps handful children (maximum about 250 in a year). Fifty lakhs have been spent on the same which can only save 50% of children admitted in it.

Few lucky ones survive others continue to die in Guna district hospital ordinary wards. Hundreds die in nearby districts like Ashok Nagar and Shivpuri. If this investment was distributed in at least three districts and spent on all centres it could have worked better and saved thousands of lives, It is like 5 star hotel which has slums around it. It is our choice to focus on the 5- star hotel or think of children living in villages. To save lives, MP and India needs to put equal investment in all districts to increase facilities in government hospitals and health centres which will help poor of the state.

Kris Kumar, Via e-mail

Missing poll issue :Narmada

i mentioned in my earlier post that traffic situation and low water table are two very crucial issues which none of the party is bothered in this election.

Another key issue is Narmada project. Local media ,naidunia and bhaskar as usual are silent on this. Are not they robbing people of their right to information. no so called development expert from DAVV or other places in indore has tried to write about how Narmada sagar dam has benefited MP. Apart from quantum jump in electricity production no one talks about the people who were displaced and people who lost livelihood. All talk was centered around merchant class families of Harsud who anyways got big compensation thanks to struggle by NBA.


this site shows that really huge mobilization of people are taking place but media in Indore and bhopal simply ignores this

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tukojirao Pawar, Phoolchand Verma & MY hospital

It is strange that election time when government work is supposed to stop some departments are finding it best time to do their work free from political interference. Kudos to elction commission for that.

I have talked about warrants earlier. In all from congress ashwin joshi, jeetu patwari & thier city chief promod tandon were 'absconders'. From BJP side record was better and only ramesh mandola was the culprit.

But this speaks a lot about complicity of both parties in protecting leaders of other parties when in power in return for a deal. Contrast this with past when leaders will themselves ensure that all cases pending against them were cleared before they contested elections but now we have developed a dangerous theory of innocent till guilty so you have a central minister absconding and PM having no clue of his whereabouts and MPs like shahbudding serving their full term from jail. Even for job of a peon one needs to be scot free but people who decide laws can do anything they want !!!

So traffic department of Indore police took benefit of election regulations and merrily made some money as no leader can call them now and ask to release his/her cronies.

In fact water scarcity and traffic management are two biggest problems in urban areas today and thye hardly find any mention in election hungama. This year western MP has less than usual rain and from October only tankers have started rolling but this is not an election issue. why?? because the goons whom we elect are simply incompetent to solve this problem and they are anyways merrily making money from huge water tanker bills of various municipal corporations.

Now a word on Shrimant ( this is how he likes to be called .MP government issued a circular last year to make this salutation mandatory in all government orders and correspondences ....) Tukojirao Pawar and Phoolchand verma. Anyone can see from the video that these blokes misbehave with the lady officer and threw paper at her. Kudos to the courageous officer who had earlier also taken action against polluting industries in Nagda. In fact when she was transferred from there for this reason local people protested against this.

But local media continues to disappoint. Their headlines were "officer has been in controversy earlier also". Grow up naidunia and Bhaskar

So these two dudes were taken to MY ICU and poor patients from ICU were shifted to wards immediately. These blokes were kept in ICU with mobiles , with their cronies, BJP state president visited them. ( is this the way ICU functions??? Is Medical council of India listening ) and the moment they got bail they jumped out of bed and were hale and healthy.


This is the level of morale in BJP that these four time and five time MLAs (as they claim) are so afraid of their own police that they feign illness when chance comes to go to Jail.

These are the people BJP wants to thrust on us

All the best my state people

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Assembly election candidate in Indore

From my Hindi blog.
Obviously typing in hindi is not that easy and people who made transliteration tools are not that proficient in Hindi (:-)) and we product of our cramming based education system are not that skilled in phonetics so mistakes are bound to creep in .

मैंने कही पढ़ा था कि "one gets the ruler one deserves" , इंदौर मैं विधानसभा प्रत्याशियों कि और नजर दौडाई जाए तो ये उक्ति बहुत ही सटीक मालूम पड़ती है . शुरुआत करते है इंदौर एक से जिसका बाशिंदा हूँ मैं. पहली बात यहाँ कि वोटर लिस्ट में मेरा नाम ही नही है . क्यों ? क्योंकि १८ वर्षों का होने के पहले ही में इंदौर से बाहर आ चुका था और अभी हिंदुस्तान में सरकारी तंत्र इतना चुस्त दुरुस्त नहीं हुआ है कि ऑनलाइन ही लोगो के नाम दर्ज कर सके. चुनाव आयोग कि वेबसाइट पर सुविधा तो है लेकिन पहले मुझे मेरे पिताजी का वोटर ईद ही मालूम नहीं था जब वो मालूम हुआ तब तक उस लिंक ने काम करना ही बंद कर दिया था मजे कि बात तो ये है कि और सब जिलो कि वोटर लिस्ट तो बड़ी आसानी से डाउनलोड कि जा सकती है लेकिन इंदौर पैर क्लिक करते ही गलती आ जाती है.

इंदौर एक में एक ईमानदार महिला उषा ठाकुर विधायक थी सीधी से बात है भ्रष्टाचारियों को तकलीफें हो रही होगी तो हिन्दी फिल्मों के विल्लें कि तरह गोल कलि टोपी लगाने वाले व्यक्ति को भाजपा का प्रत्याशी बनाया गया है सीधी सी बात है या तो गुटीय संतुलन साधा गया है या फ़िर पैसा लेकर टिकेट दिया गया है. कांग्रेस कि और से इंदौर कि छाती पर चढ़ कर बैठी शुक्ला परिवार के राजकुमार को टिकेट दिया गया है . पिछडों कि हितैषी होने का दंभ भरने वाली कांग्रेस ने इंदौर कि ५ सीटों में से तीन पर ब्राह्मणों को टिकेट दियें है और तीनो प्रख्यात राजनितिक परिवारों से है कोई नया खून या उभरता हुआ चेहरा नही है

इंदौर दो से ईमानदार बुजुरग नेता सुरेश सेठ को कांग्रेस ने टिकेट किसी भलमनसाहत के चलते नहीं बल्कि मजबूर के चलते दिया है क्योंकि विजयवर्गीय ने इंदौर दो का विकास तो किया है भले ही इसमें ख़ुद कितना भी पैसा बनाया हो तो इस पूरे विधानसभा इलाके के सिर्फ़ एक को छोड़ कर सारे वार्ड भी भाजपा के पास है लेकिन यहाँ एक प्रकार कि तानाशाई निर्मित हो चुकी है चंदू शिंदे और लालबहादुर वर्मा जैसे लोगने क्षेत्र के लोगो को आतंकित कर रखा है. कुछ महीने पहले इन वर्मा महाशय ने एक थाना प्रभारी का ट्रान्सफर सिर्फ़ इसलिए करवा दिया था क्योंकि उसने इनके गुर्गों से एक चोटी पार्टी के कार्यकर्त्ता को बचने कि हिम्मत की थी . लेकिन रमेश मंदोला असल में कैलाशजी से भी बदतर है कैलाशी कम से कम कार्य कुशल तो है अगर ३०% कह्येंगे तो बाकी का काम तो करेंगे लेकिन इन मंदोला महाशय ने तो बूढों के पेंशन में घोटाला किया था १२ लाख की आबादी में ये महाशय १ लाख लोगो को ६५ बरस के ऊपर गरीबी रेखा वालों को मिलने वाली पेंशन बाँट रहे थे कोई रेकॉर्ड नहीं थे और असल में इनके चुनाव प्रचार के फंड की तयारी हो रही थी अब कैलाश की इतना असर है की मामला उजागर करने वाले कलेक्टर की इंदौर से विदाई हो गई जांच आयोग का कार्यकाल १५ महीने बडे जा चुका है और उसके ऊपर मंदोला जी को टिकेट भी मिला है

इंदौर तीन सबसे दिलचस्प इलाका है शहर के ठीक बीचों बीच होने के कारन जैसे जैसे आबादी बढती गई ये इलाका अछूता रहा तो एक समय दूसरे क्षेत्रो की तुलना में इसके वोटर आधे हो चुके थे. अब चूँकि हिंदुस्तान भर के शहरो में मुस्लिम पुराने इलाकों में रहते है तो इस सीट पैर ३०-३५% मुस्लिम वोटरों के कारन कांग्रेस के लिए जितना बड़ा आसान हो गया था. यहाँ से मौजूदा विधायक आश्विन जोशी ने अपनी पकड़ और जनसंपर्क बनाये रखा है और कांगरी के एकदम गुंडे नेताओ से ये फ़िर भी बेहतर है भाजपा से निष्क्रिय और चुनाव के वक्त जगाने वाले गोपीकृष्ण नेमा को टिकेट दिया गया है. सबसे ज्यादा सर फुत्तोवल भी इसी सीट को लेकर हुई थी जब पिछली ६ बार से शहर की जंत पैर दुर्भाग्य की तरह मंडरा रही सुमित्रा महाजन अपने बेटे के लिए टिकेट चाहती थी मध्य प्रदेश में लगभग सभी नेताओं ने अपने बेटो भतीजो को जमकर टिकेट बांटे है और भाजपा को कांग्रेस पर वंशवाद का आरोप लगाने का कोई नैतिक अधिकार इसके बाद रह नही जाता है. परिसीमन के बाद इस क्षेत्र में कांग्रेस के लिए जीतना टेडी खीर होगा ख़ास तुअर पैर इसलिए क्योंकि ब्लाक वोटिंग कर के मुसलमान बाकि मतदाताओं को इतना चिडा देतें है कि बाकि जनता भी उन्ही कि तरह प्रत्याशी पर ध्यान दिए बिना सीधें भाजपा को वोट करती है

कुछ ऐसी ही कहाँ क्षेत्र क्रमांक ४ कि है जहाँ कि जनता को लक्षमण सिंघजी ने कई वषों से धर्म कि अफीम सुंघा रखी है अब वो नही है तो उनकी धरम पत्नी और लड़का ये काम आगे बढायेंगे वंशवाद कके अरूपों कि परवाह भाजपा नहीं करती १९८९ के दंगो में मुसलमानों के रव्याई से परेशां हिंदू मतदाता कांग्रेस के लिए तो वोट नही ही करेंगे बची सिन्धी ,कांग्रेस कि और से सिन्धी प्रत्याशी और भाजपा कि और से शंकर लालवानी अगर भीतरघात करे तो ही मालिनीजी कि रह मुश्किल होगी वैसे उनको सहानुभूति का पूरा पूरा फायदा मिलेगा

Sunday, November 9, 2008

How to defeat the system

Election commission directive on candidates declaring their assets and criminal cases pending against them was result of a PIL filed by some IIM Ahmedabad Professors. One of them is teaching us now a days and I asked him that what if government of day decides to take back the cases which have been filed against its own party men. This will defeat the reform and my hunch comes true today when government in MP took back cases against its notoriously corrupt minister Anoop Mishra

In a pre-poll relief, the Madhya Pradesh Government has withdrawn criminal cases against Water Resources Minister Anoop Mishra. Another Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Gird Vijendra Tiwari has been acquitted in one criminal case, while other case is still pending against him with the court.

It may be recalled that an illegal construction in Sarafa was being dismantled on the orders of the court nearly four years ago. The anti-encroachment squad led by the then MCG Commissioner, Nikunj Shrivastava reached at the Laddowala complex and started razing the illegal construction.

As the information about the demolition reached to Water Resources Minister Anoop Mishra, he visited the spot and obstructed the action of the municipal officials. The Municipal Corporation Commissioner got a criminal case registered against Mishra with Kotwali police. Warrant was also issued against the Minister for his arrest.

The Kotwali police has preserved the copy of the order with it. A special branch of the police is keeping an account of crimes of the candidates contesting election in the Assembly. Records of all the political leaders are being updated and has been sent to Bhopal. Station in-charge of Kotwali PK Sarswat said that a case was registered against Anoop Mishra. We have received a letter from the Government of withdrawing the case against Mishra just five days before the issuance of arrest warrant. So, in this case, the question of implementing the warrant does not arise, said the officer averred.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Himmat Kothari joins list of accused ministers

Congress on gun purchase

Staff Reporter | Bhopal

Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee has levelled serious allegations of kickbacks against Home Minister Himmat Kothari in the purchase of 3,000 imported guns, here on Wednesday.

PCC spokesman KK Mishra alleged that Kothari, the then Forest Minister received kickbacks in the purchase of imported guns worth Rs 5.75 crore for preventing hunting in sanctuaries and forest areas by the forest department.

He said that the guns were purchased for those forest employees who do not know how to use them and they are untrained. They don't even have the rights and authority to fire at the criminals or poachers.

He said that the responsible Minister and Chief Conservator of Forest Anil Oberai have deliberately flouted all the rules and regulations to purchase the 12 bore pump action guns from the Stoeger Company of Turkey under a conspiracy to get personal benefits.

They did not even take No Objection Certificate (NoC) from the Indian Ordnance Factory before purchasing the guns.

He said if the forest department would have purchased the economical action guns from the Indian ordnance factory then the officials would have saved half of the money spent on the purchase.

He put forward the entire documentary proof related to the purchase and said that the purchase committee of the forest department doesn’t even included any technical expert nor took the opinion of experts before purchasing the guns.

He said that due to this the department could not know that as to how much capacity guns are required, the result of which is that the department purchased guns which have excessive shooting range than the required.

He said the department has lost crores of rupees due to this unlawful deal.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

10 Janpath of Madhya Pradesh BJP: Shriman Anil Dave

What the Congress and other opposition parties could not do has been done by a minister in Madhya Pradesh --- to make chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and his RSS mentor Anil Madhav Dave aware of their criminal intent in trying to rob the poor of their land fraudulently.

Minister of food and civil supplies Akhand Pratap Singh has already fallen from grace of the Sangh Parivar, first by ordering raids on PDS shops run by Parivar members or supporters on receiving complaints of malpractices, and then by attending an iftar party at Chhatarpur in defiance of the call of the Parivar-related organisations to stay away from the party. The Parivar rag-tags were not mollified by Singh's explanation that he was also in charge of the minorities' welfare department and thus could not turn down the invitation. (The Congress has, meanwhile, made a complaint to the Lokayukta levelling corruption charges against Singh himself).

Singh vehemently opposed at a cabinet meeting the proposal to allot 13.766 hectares of land in the chief minister's Budhni Assembly constituency by overruling the objections of the revenue and finance departments to Narmada Samagra Trust floated by Anil Madhav Dave. The land near Uma Bharati's favourite Bandrabhan Ashram is the pastureland belonging to the poor people of Ramnagar village on the bank of river Narmada. Under the rules, this land could not be converted into the land for construction of houses. Dave's Trust was to be allotted the land at throwaway prices.

The chief minister's criminal intent became clear in giving the khasra number of some other land in the newspaper advertisements inviting objections. Narmada Samagra Trust is Dave's latest venture. It was registered with the Registrar of Public Trusts only this year, its movable property amounting to only Rs 11,000 and no immovable property. Anil Madhav Dave, as secretary, is the only person authorised in the Trust deed to enter into legal proceedings. The required application fee was not deposited while applying for allotment of land to the Trust.

Dave is a shining star on the corrupt horizon of the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh, enjoying more powers and State-sponsored facilities than any cabinet minister without holding any position of responsibility in the government. He, though, has been made a vice-president of the State unit of the BJP. His clout can be gauged from the fact that he was declared defaulter by a nationalised bank for not repaying the loan but he continued to guide the government as if nothing had happened.

The ruckus created by Akhand Pratap Singh divided the cabinet. Ministers like Babulal Gaur (commercial taxes) and Jayant Malaiya (industries and commerce) felt that since the land was in the chief minister's own Assembly constituency, the law and the rules should be adhered to strictly.

However, others like Kailash Vijayvargiya (PWD), Gauri Shankar Shejwar (energy) and Anup Mishra (water resources), who have not lost the hope of one day becoming the chief minister and this, they know, would not be possible without the backing of the RSS, tried to shout down Singh and pleaded for allotment of the land to Dave.

Akhand Pratap Singh walked out of the cabinet meeting.

Chauhan lost nerve, which he usually does when somebody challenges him face to face. He would probably have scrapped the proposal altogether but for the prompting by other ministers who wanted to show their loyalty to the RSS. Still, the cabinet reduced the area of the land from 13.766 hectares to four hectares for allotment to Dave's Trust and decided that the allotment would not be made immediately but this chunk of land would be "reserved" for allotment to the Trust at a later date.

The Assembly elections are due next month and this could be a weapon in the hands of the opposition to hurt the BJP interests. Two days later, Dave wrote to the chief minister asking him not to consider his application for allotment of the land. He was quick to send the copies of his letter to the media for proper publicity. He did not remember the media when he had formed his dubious Narmada Samagra Trust or when he had applied for allotment of land to the Trust, nor had he publicised what exactly the Trust was supposed to achieve.

Akhand Pratap Singh followed up Dave's letter (to the chief minister) with his own missive to the chief secretary urging him to ensure that the cabinet, at its next meeting, decided to cancel the allotment of land to Dave's Trust because the matter would remain pending in favour of Dave till the cabinet reversed the decision.

It is only because of the intervention by one from inside the cabinet that the land allotment to Dave's Trust is likely to be cancelled. Already, the BJP government has made as many as 67 allotments of land at nominal rates to various organisations created, managed or controlled by the persons belonging to the Sangh Parivar. PCC spokesman K.K.Mishra has petitioned the Lokayukta pointing out the violation of rules in making these allotments.

Somethings never change

like land Mafia in Indore.

I just cam across this old article in India today. The only collector of Indore who took head on with Land Mafia was Manoj Shrivastav and since last five years he has been shunted as publicity head of Madhya Pradesh government publication.

IDA president during congress time i.e. Kripashankar Shukla and Mahesj Joshi both contested elections an became congress president also.Similar story is being repeated with Madhu Verma of BJP.
Interestingly actors have changed now.Those who used to accuse others of land grabbing (like state IT minister) are now accused to have made crores in such deals themselves.

It seems national leadership of BJP is tolerating all this stuff just for sake of some funds or loksabha election!!! Anyways it is a pathetic state to be

Dubious Deals

Two land-related murders prove that Indore is fast gaining the gangland image of Mumbai.

By Bharat Desai

The people of Indore love to call their city 'Mini Mumbai' because of its enterprising spirit and bustling nature. But the comparison is proving true in more ways than one. The business transacted in the city may not match the volumes of the western metropolis, but Indore is certainly acquiring the gangland image of its more illustrious cousin, as the recent murders of two municipal corporators have proved. These land-related murders, within a span of one week, came on the heels of a much-publicised public-interest petition in the high court which had exposed the disconcertingly long reach of the city's land mafia, comprising politicians, bureaucrats and construction barons.

It is fair knowledge in the city that every conceivable rule relating to building activity has been violated by the powerful clique of politicians and builders and the connections reach up to the top in the state administration. But it was BJP corporator Rajesh Joshi's murder -- his neck was slit by miscreants on August 13 -- which forced the city to sit up and take note of the dangers involved in opposing an increasingly powerful and belligerent mafia.

Joshi, it is widely believed, had paid with his life for opposing encroachments on government land by builders in Indore. Before the city could recover from the bandhs and protests that followed the murder, Ishaq, a corporator of Sanwer Municipality adjoining the city, was killed, again over a land-related dispute. "The mafia is in a position to eliminate anybody who comes in its way. It's a Mumbai-like situation," says Manohar Dalal, a lawyer who is facing threats to his life for having filed a series of petitions before the Indore Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court against illegal construction and encroachments. It was in response to Dalal's petitions that the district administration, the Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) and Indore Development Authority (IDA) were forced last week to draw up lists of illegally-constructed buildings and encroachments on government land. The two bodies admitted to the court that there were nearly 400 illegal multi-storeyed buildings in the city -- all constructed in the '90s -- apart from about 295 unsanctioned colonies. Contrary to the popular belief that shanty-dwellers were involved in most of the encroachments, it turned out that the culprits were actually members of the city's upper-middle class. The list of colony builders and owners of high-rise buildings on encroached land reads like a virtual Who's Who of Indore politics, including both BJP and Congress leaders.

There can only be conjecture about the amount of money involved in the racket. Says IDA Director Kewal Yadav, one of the few bureaucrats believed to have resisted mafia intimIDAtion: "I have been offered Rs 2 crore to absent myself from IDA meetings. You can imagine what people who support the proposals must be making." The IDA and the IMC are reported to be under the control of Mahesh Joshi, Chief Minister Digvijay Singh's right-hand man. Mahesh faces allegations of abetting the mafia's operations. And he is not the only one. Topping the list of violators submitted to the court by the two civic bodies is Digvijay's relative, Surendra Singh Garha, who has illegally constructed a high-rise on government land.

With such powerful politicians allegedly backing the builders, the clout of the mafia is undisputed. The IDA has cancelled several of its own schemes, presumably under pressure from the builders, and shopping arcades are now coming up on land reserved for parking space and road broadening. "Earlier, the schemes were dropped by the IDA board; now instructions for cancelling construction plans come from the environment minister and the chief minister, who have passed orders saying that the consent of the board is not required for changing building plans," says a senior IDA official.

The story is the same in the IMC too. Its list of illegally-constructed buildings includes a six-storeyed structure being built by a powerful clique of builders, allegedly on the basis of a fake blueprint. Dalal estimates that nearly 40 IDA schemes involving 200 acres of prime land have been shelved and the land released for private construction during the current regime. "The building mafia in Indore is earning about Rs 500 crore every year and a sizeable portion goes into the hands of politicians in Bhopal," he says.

Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP MLA, talks candidly about the role played by politicians in the matter. He admits that legislators of his party have made a fortune from building activity but claims that the entire operation is masterminded by Congress leaders. On his part, Kripa Shanker Shukla, the Indore district Congress president, blames the media barons of the city for encouraging the land mafia. He says that the owners of several important publications are either builders and colonisers themselves or have close links with the land sharks. "If we squeal, the media goes on the offensive against us," he says. Ironically, Shukla himself has been accused by the BJP of patronising the mafia, a charge which he firmly denies. Colony builder Hemant Agarwal concurs: "If a builder owns a newspaper, he has a definite edge over rivals and the administration." Not surprisingly, Agarwal himself plans to launch a newspaper soon.

However, officials say it's not just the land racket that has encouraged the mafia in the town. There are more sinister forces at work. Drug-runners, for instance. Besides its bustling wholesale market and its strategic location between the two important industrial townships of Pithampur and Dewas, Indore is also located close to Mandsaur and Ratlam, which produce 60 per cent of the opium grown in the country. So the city has become an important transit point for illegal opium and its derivatives because the Malwa region borders Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat. Moreover, as recent seizures have shown, the booming pharmaceutical industry in and around the city could also be producing banned drugs like mandrax in large quantities. The arrest of businessman Prem Sisodiya last year for a mandrax shipment worth several crores of rupees also exposed the widespread links of the mafia. Just days before Sisodiya's arrest, the chief minister attended a religious function at his house.

There is, therefore, a strong possibility of an existing nexus between drug money, land acquisition and illegal construction. The region's links with the Mumbai underworld were exposed by the Gujarat Police last year when it unearthed a large cache of arms from Mahidpur town. The seizure, which included two dozen AK-47 rifles, was believed to be part of the consignment sent by the Dawood Ibrahim gang which landed on the Konkan coast along with rdx explosives which were used in the Bombay blasts in 1993. Significantly, the city police got to know about the recovery of arms only after the Gujarat police team finished its investigation. Subsequent interrogation has led to the disclosure of a well-knit mafia in Malwa which is engaged not only in smuggling drugs from mandsaur but also across the border into Gujarat.

After the authorities brought down a five-storeyed illegal structure with dynamite last year, there was hope that the power of the rogue builders would be curbed. But since then, the district and civic officials have shown a distinct reluctance to go after the mafia. On top of that, the state government has reserved all powers related to land use to itself.

That the mafia has invested money in land is evident from the fact that the price of land in neemuch town, which is the hub of the opium belt, equals that of Indore -- around Rs 1,000 per sq ft in residential areas. Indore's people, unable to find succour from the rapaciousness of the builders, are rapidly growing more dejected. And there can be no better example of the effect the Government's apathy has had on them than the changing attitude of die hard anti-mafia campaigners like Manohar Dalal and Kewal Yadav: both are gradually losing heart and even contemplating giving up the battle.