|N A T I O N|
Rlys takes up
oppose move to shift office
kill four, loot cash
to give power connections on demand
doubts bus diplomacy
Datta on Viceroys role
Electrification of tracks
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 Excessive zeal for the electrification of rail tracks has proved costly for the Indian Railways with the ministry being forced to use its reserves this year to fund the ambitious project.
Never before in the recent history of the Railways, a minister had the need to draw from the Ministrys reserve funds, offical sources pointed out saying that the government had lost its sense of priorities.
The Railways, which has a gap of about Rs 1,900 crore between the earnings and expenditure this year, has created a piquant situation for Railway Minister Nitesh Kumar to draw from the reserves meant for emergency conditions.
The main objective for the electrification has been that it would speed up traffic, make travel safer and help the overall growth of the system but the same objective could be attained at a much lesser costs, technical experts stressed.
The Railways was incurring a total loss of Rs 2,000 crore (other than losses due to poor utilisation of rolling stock and infrastructure) every year due to electrification.
If the government had not gone in for such an excessive electrification, the ministry could have reduced passenger fares by at least 25 per cent or else the freight tariff could have been reduced by 12 per cent, in the process getting back the traffic lost by the Railways to the road sector due to incessant freight and fare hikes.
A real alternative to electrification would be the "dieselisation" of the rail system, experts said, adding that diesel traction is cheaper than electric traction. Diesel traction is 80.8 per cent in passenger and 27.1 per cent in freight per 1,000 GTKM, they pointed out.
Contrary to popular belief, diesel traction technology was most modern and cost effective. It was for this reason that countries like the USA and Australia had not opted for electrification. Even in European countries, where cheaper surplus electricity was abundantly available and distances much shorter, the scope of electrification had been restricted to a maximum of 30 per cent.
On the other hand, a poor and energy starved country like India had already electrified 31 per cent of broad gauge (BG) network with large number of projects still in hand.
With over 14,000 km out of the total 43,000 km of the BG track having been electrified, a substantial portion of the power generation all over the country stood committed to the electrified routes. As a result, other sectors of economy had to face frequent power cuts in even some of the power-rich states.
Not only this, each electric locomotive commissioned, deprived nearly 15,000 homes of their electricity needs. The electric power diverted to the Railways created a scarcity in domestic, industrial and agriculture sectors.
These sectors had no option but to use generators which were far less fuel efficient than the diesel engine. Further, each electric loco of 6000 HP necessitates addition of about 3000 portable generators of 1.5 kw capacity.
Thus the country had to pay much more for meeting power shortage besides causing heavy pollution in the living areas, the experts said, saying that the poor were unable to afford such generators.
An argument extended in favour of electrification was that compared to diesel locos, electric locos were environment friendly. But a World Bank report contradicted this popular assumption saying that diesel traction was more environment friendly as compared to electric traction because of the emission level of "green house" gases by electricity generated from coal was 50 per cent higher than that generated from diesel.
Each electric loco
required an overall capital investment of about Rs 52
crore (Rs 7 crore by the Railways in locomotive and
electrification and Rs 45 crore by state electricty
boards in generation capacity and transmission and
distribution system) as against Rs 5 crore for diesel
locomotive of equivalent power, the experts pointed out
adding that electrification of rail routes was
Sonia condemns massacres
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (PTI) Congress president Sonia Gandhi today strongly condemned the brutal killings of innocent people by militants in Rajouri district of the Jammu region of Jammu and Kashmir and asked the government to ensure protection to the people of the state.
She expressed her sympathies for members of the bereaved families.
Jaya to oppose move to replace PM
CHENNAI, Feb 20 (PTI) AIADMK chief Jayalalitha today said that her party would oppose any move to replace Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee from office and expressed her partys "full commitment" to support the BJP-led government at the Centre.
Charging Union Home Minister L.K. Advani with tarnishing the Centres image by his remarks against Bihar Governor S.S Bhandari, she told reporters that she had no knowledge of replacing Mr Vajpayee with Mr Advani but added that her party would support Mr Vajpayee in the event of any threat to his leadership.
Referring to Mr Advanis remarks on the Bihar Governor, she said it had "certainly damaged" the Vajpayee governments image. She also refuted another remark by Mr Advani that the image of the BJP-led government had gone down due to frequent threats by its allies.
"Advani is responsible for the mess up," she said, adding that the AIADMK would not like to comment on internal dissensions within other parties.
Ms Jayalalitha clarified that the views expressed by AIADMK MLA Tamaraikani on banning the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were his own and not that of the party.
On the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) withdrawing support to the Vajpayee Ministry, Ms Jayalalitha said she would meet and persuade INLD chief Om Prakash Chautala to reconsider his decision if the Prime Minister so desired.
Asked to comment on Congress president Sonia Gandhis remarks that the Vajpayee ministry would fall soon, she said such a scenario "did not exist now".
On the massacre of Dalits in Bihar, she urged the government to institute a CBI probe to bring the culprits to book. The Centre should act firmly, she said justifying the Rabri Devi governments dismissal.
Ms Jayalalitha also reiterated her demand for the dismissal of the DMK government in Tamil Nadu, saying the state was the only one in the country where terrorists and fundamentalists "had a free run".
Asked why the Centre was
not considering her demand for the dismissal of the DMK
government in Tamil Nadu, even though some of the BJP
allies had endorsed her views, she said her party would
continue to reiterate her demand and "our efforts
will be to convince the Prime Minister of the necessity
of dismissing the Karunanidhi government."
Karnataka Cong restructured
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (PTI) The Congress today effected a change in the leadership of party's Karnataka unit, ahead of the year-end Assembly elections, by bringing in former Deputy Chief Minister S.M. Krishna as PCC President in place of Dharam Singh.
Simultaneously, the AICC also announced a 35-member state election campaign committee, headed by former Union Minister Janardhana Poojary.
S.M. Krishna belongs to the dominant Vokkaliga community and is seen as a prominent leader who could counter the influence of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, who belongs to the same community, and is expected to be the main campaigner for the ruling Janata Dal.
Mr Gowda, had effectively cashed in on the denial of the chief ministership to the Vokkaliga community in the 1994 Assembly elections after which he became the Chief Minister and later on rose to become the Prime Minister.
Announcing the decision, AICC General Secretary, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, denied that the change was a "panic reaction" to the Janata Dal inducting a prominent OBC leader and the Deputy Chief Minister, Mr Siddharamiah, as its Chief before the polls.
NGOs oppose move to shift
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 A group of non-governmental organisations working for the welfare of the disabled have opposed the governments decision to shift the office of the Chief Commissioner, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, to Nagpur.
Addressing newspersons here yesterday the convener of the Disability Rights Group, Mr Javed Abidi, said the ministrys move had provoked resistance from voluntary organisations across the country. He said the aforsaid order should be withdrawn immediately in the interests of the disabled who constitute about 6 per cent of the total population of the country.
Mr Abidi said if the order was not withdrawn immediately, the voluntary organisations and the DRG supporting the cause of the disabled would take to the streets.
Mr Abidi said since the notification was issued early this month the Prime Ministers Office had been flooded with appeals in the forms of fax messages, telegrams and letters to withdraw the order as it would cause inconvenience to disabled persons.
Mr Abidi wondered why the
government had decided to single out the central
appellate authority for the disabled persons on grounds
that Nagpur is equidistant from all four corners of
India. "This decision is extremely distressing and
discouraging. In our letter to the Prime Minister, Mr
Atal Behari Vajpayee, we have said that if the government
feels that Nagpur is centrally located then it should be
made the Capital of India".
Dacoits kill four, loot cash
FAIZABAD, Feb 20 (PTI) Armed dacoits today shot dead four persons, including three women, and looted cash and jewellery worth several lakhs in Shahganj Bazar here, the police said.
The gang of dacoits entered the house of a jeweller, Ishwar Nath, in the wee hours of Saturday after scaling the walls and reached the roof where his wife and two daughters were sleeping.
The jeweller, who had wokenup by now, fired a few rounds from his licensed gun, the police said.
The dacoits returned the fire, killing Ishwar Nath, his wife and the two daughters.
DVB to give power connections
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 The Delhi Vidyut Board has decided to give power connections in the Capital on demand.
Under the new liberalised policy of the DVB, the board will give new connections and sanction additional load of various categories of consumers in all areas except where electric network does not exit, a release said.
Under the policy, permanent electricity connection and additional load will be granted in all distinctly separate portions of a building such as all floors, including basement, after submission of certain documents.
The documents including an application-cum-agreement form, test report from an authorised wiring contractor, lawful proof of occupancy, lift certificate and fire clearance, the release stated.
The DVB said in case of an industrial connection, the affidavit and indemnity bond should also mention that no court orders were being infringed.
Jethmalani doubts bus diplomacy
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 (UNI) The current Indo-Pak bus diplomacy is bound to thaw the frigid relations, but the long-standing boundary dispute can only be solved by some-give-and-take, according to Urban Affairs Minister, Mr Ram Jethmalani.
Asked about the dividends expected from Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayees bus visit to Lahore and the expected return gesture of Mr Nawaz Sharif, his Pakistani counterpart, Mr Jethmalani said, I cant be too sure about it, but I think it is a welcome thing. There will be no loss at least. It is something which cannot hurt us.
The minister made the remarks in an interview to Eenadu Television which would air it tomorrow.
Explaining the reasons for his not being optimistic about the success of the bus diplomacy, Mr Jethmalani said the border dispute was a long-standing irritant in the relations and ultimately it could be solved only by adopting a give-and-take attitude. How much give and take is required has to be worked out intelligently, in a spirit of friendship and in a spirit of confidence, he said, adding that once there was friendship and confidence then problems would become comparatively easier for solution.
If one party has to get 100 per cent of what it stands for, it can only be achieved by war.
Agreeing with Jammu and
Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullahs suggestion
that the Line of Control should be made the permanent
international border between India and Pakistan, Mr
Jethmalani said it was a sensible proposal.
Prof Datta on Viceroys
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 The controversy surrounding the role of Lord Mountbatten and the demacation of the India-Pakistan boundary, specially Punjab, was yesterday extensively analysed by noted historian Prof V.N. Datta.
Professor Datta analysed the role played by the then Viceroy, and the chairman of the Boundary Commission, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, the Congress and the Muslim League in the lecture organised by the National Institute of Punjab Studies here.
The Punjab Boundary Commission Award (known as the Radcliffe Award) has provoked a long and bitter controversy among historians, civil servants and public men, particularly in Pakistan.
The focus of the controversy is the Viceroy, Lord Mountbatten, who is accused of collusion with Sir Cyril Radcliffe, Chairman of the Boundary Commission, in altering the Punjab boundary at the last stage to the disadvantage of Pakistan, Professor Datta said.
"Lord Mountbatten never repudiated the charge in public and considered it beneath his dignity to issue any formal denial", he said.
"The evidence of Mountbatten's gerrymandering was his secretary Sir George Abell's letter addressed to Punjab Governor Sir E. Jenkin's secretary, Mr S.E. Abott. This letter is dated August 8, 1947. Attached to this letter was a printed sketch map showing Ferozepore and Zira tehsils as part of Pakistan.
A note indicating the inclusion of Ferozepore and Zira tehsils in Pakistan was prepared by Radcliffe's secretary Christopher Beumont and the sketch map Abell had drawn through his telephone conversation with Beumont. The Punjab Governor recalled that about August 10 or 11 he received a seeraphone message from the Viceroy's house, "Eliminate salient". This meant making Ferozepore and Zira tehsils a part of India. In Radcliffe's Award signed on August 12, 1947, these two tehsils are shown as a part of India. Thus the boundary line was changed between August 8 and August 12, 1947, Professor Datta observed.
Historians have debated on the role played by Lord Mountbatten and some have concluded that the then Viceroy had exerted pressure on Radcliffe in allotting Ferozepore, Zira and also a large portion of Gurdaspur district to India, giving thereby a link with the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
In other words, the
allegation is that Lord Mountbatten hatched a conspiracy
to favour India against Pakistan. For this betrayal of
the trust reposed in him, Mountbatten is castigated by
his critics as the villain of the piece and his villainy
is attributed to Jinnah's refusal to appoint him as the
Governor-General of Pakistan on the eve of his departure
YC puts 35-yr limit
NEW DELHI, Feb 20 The Indian Youth Congress (IYC) will be revamped by April-end with persons above the age of 35 being debarred from being the members of the organisation, the IYC president, Mr Manish Tewari, said here yesterday.
Addressing a press conference, Mr Tiwari said the national executive meeting of the IYC, held here on February 16 and 17, also decided against giving an official position to those who have more than two children on or after January 1, 2000.
|BJP vice-president of
Kalyan unit murdered
MUMBAI: The vice-president of the BJPs Kalyan unit, Vinayak Mane, was stabbed to death by some unidentified persons at Kalyan in Thane district of Maharashtra early on Saturday. The police said Vinayaks body, bearing several injury marks, was found near railway tracks in a tunnel at 6 a.m. Vinayak, an employee of Premier Automobiles, was on his way to work when some persons stabbed him on his thighs. PTI
raises funds for disabled
panic in Mayurbhanj
Two CRPF jawans,
four ultras killed
subsidised air fare
HP CM plays good
Spurt in crimes by
teenagers in Capital
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