|Friday, April 28, 2000,
INS Shakti to take water to
Graft charges make Kalraj Misra
Law panel for new anti-terrorism
PMK hints at leaving NDA in TN
All set for Centre-APHC talks
Concern at Arjun project delay
Kashmiri ultra held in Capital
Three pastors attacked
Communist leader Raghavan dead
Russia for dynamic ties with India
Bhutans assurance to India
Wage board report implementation
India deserves UN Council
Police remand for IA hijack
INS Shakti to take water to Gujarat
NEW DELHI, April 27 (UNI) A high-level committee of senior officers met under the chairmanship of Cabinet Secretary Prabhat Kumar to review the stepped-up relief operations in the drought-hit areas of Rajasthan and Gujarat. The meeting decided to move INS Shakti of the Indian Navy, within a week, from Mumbai to Kandla or Mundhra to supply drinking water in the Saurashtra region.
The naval ship will carry 8000 tonnes (8 million litres) of drinking water to meet the needs of the drought-affected areas of Gujarat.
The meeting also reviewed the position of funds being released to Rajasthan and Gujarat by the Centre under various programmes like the Drought Prone Areas Programmes (DPAP), the Desert Development Programme (DDP) and the Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP) and water-shed programme among others.
The meeting also took stock of the assistance being provided for making available foodgrains and fodder in the drought-affected areas.
JAIPUR (PTI): Supply of drinking water and famine relief operations would be given top priority in all drought affected districts of Rajasthan, Relief Minister Gulab Singh Shekhawat told the state Assembly today.
Replying to a discussion on drought and drinking water crisis in the state, the Minister said fodder would be supplied through trains to the far-flung villages in the drought affected regions. So far 4.5 lakh mandays have been created in the villages, he added.
Participating in the discussion, many legislators pleaded for immediate solution to the twin problems affecting 2.5 crore population of the state.
Admitting that relief work had been delayed owing to panchayat elections and state employees strike, Mr Shekhawat, however, said relief operations have been started on a war-footing. The government had already opened 1048 fodder depots in February this year and a grant of Rs 2 crore earmarked for it, he said.
In a joint reply Public Health and Engineering Department Minister Ram Singh Vishnoi announced that a number of drinking water schemes amounting to Rs 2000 crore would be taken up in various parts of the state from May.
He, however, charged the Centre with delaying the sanction of funds under the National Calamity Relief Fund, thereby resulting in delayed relief work.
He said that a meagre financial assistance of Rs 102.93 crore was earmarked by the Centre as late as March 31.
Despite the central governments delay, relief works was started in affected villages, tribal areas of Udaipur, Dungarpur and Banswara and also opened fodder depots in many areas, the minister said.
NABARD has also sanctioned a grant of Rs 144 crore for construction of schools, roads and water tanks under the relief operation, they said.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan Governor Anshuman Singh has decided not to shift to Mount Abu, the only hill resort stations in the desert state, during this summer in view of severe drought situation in the state.
The Governors household and the secretariat are traditionally shifted to Mount Abu during summer every year.
"Mount Abu is
facing a severe drinking water crisis and if the
Governors paraphernalia are shifted to the hill
station, problems of the local residents would be
increased. Therefore, I have decided not to move out of
Jaipur", Mr Singh told mediapersons here yesterday.
Graft charges make Kalraj Misra quit
LUCKNOW, April 27 (UNI) The Uttar Pradesh PWD and Medical Education Minister, Mr Kalraj Misra, today resigned from the state Cabinet in the wake of corruption charges levelled against him in the state assembly.
Announcing his resignation in the House, he urged the Chief Minister Ram Prakash Gupta and Speaker, Mr Kesrinath Tripathi, to set up an inquiry into the charges against him.
"I will not withdraw my resignation until the probe is completed, he said.
He referred to a letter by the Abhiyanta Sansh which described him as a corrupt minister. About the letter read out in the House yesterday by a Samajwadi Party member, Mr Baburam Yadav, Mr Misra said: "I am resigning out of anguish over the charges. They amount to character assassination.
Mr Misra later told newspersons that he had handed over his resignation to the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister said he had not accepted the resignation.
Meanwhile, the Assembly Speaker reserved his decision on the issue and summoned Ambika Prasad Misra, president of the Executive Engineers Association, to be present in the house tomorrow.
Mr Misra said he had never received the letter. "I read it only today in the Speakers chamber. It contained no charges against me. I have resigned as I am attacked personally and publicly, he added.
Earlier, he had an hour-long closed-door meeting with the Chief Minister in the Speakers chamber. Both of them spoke to newspersons only after their meeting.
Law panel for new
NEW DELHI, April 27 The Law Commission has suggested to the Centre to enact an anti-terrorist law "prevention of terrorism bill, 2000," saying that it was both a necessity and to fill the vacuum created by the lapsing of TADA.
"This bill has dropped the disruptive activities part from the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act (TADA) and has provided as many as 12 safeguards against its possible abuse," Law Commission Chairman B.P. Jeevan Reddy told reporters today.
Emphasising the need for such a law, Justice Reddy said India had so far incurred around Rs 64,000 crore as security-related cost in countering ISI activities.
He said: "This Act is not directed against or meant to be used against persons or organisations fighting for socio-economic justice or for labour ...."
Justice Reddy said an offence under the proposed Bill was made out if a person used a bomb or weapon of mass destruction with the intent of threatening the integrity, security and sovereignty of the country or to cause terror among people.
He said the Bill was meant against persons and organisations who are out to destabilise and destroy our country and cited such laws even in countries like England and the USA.
Besides recommending various measures to combat terrorism, the commission has provided substantial safeguards designed to advance the human rights aspects and to prevent abuse of power, Justice Reddy said.
In a significant suggestion, the commission has recommended that the statement of a co-accused in a case under the new law could not be used as evidence against the other accused as was provided in TADA.
Justice Reddy said the investigation could begin only after the state Director General of Police approves the FIR and the special courts set up for the purpose of trial could begin its proceedings after a sanction for the same from either the central or state governments.
He said the DGP had to approve the fir within 10 days of lodging of the same or in the alternative the state review committee, which included the home and law ministers, had to approve it within 30 days.
Justice Reddy said in
any proceedings under this law, if the special court was
of the opinion that any person had been corruptly or
maliciously proceeded against, "the court may award
compensation to be paid by the police officer, person,
authority or government to the victim."
Haryana to let Delhi use its canal
NEW DELHI, April 27 (UNI, PTI) In a respite for water-scarce Delhi, Haryana today agreed to provide 125 cusecs of water to the Capital through its canal for the next two years following the intervention of the Central Government.
At a meeting called by the Union Water Resources Minister, Mr C.P. Thakur, the Delhi Chief Minister Ms Sheila Dikshit and her Haryana counterpart, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, agreed to complete the work on an alternative underground or open canal within the next two years. Till then, Delhi would be allowed to use Haryanas canal to ferry the 125 cusecs of water.
Haryana would construct the canal and the cost for it would be borne by Delhi. The project which was initially estimated to cost about Rs 80 crore is now likely to cost Rs 380 crore.
However, Haryana attached a precondition for effecting the agreement. The Central Government and the Delhi Government will have to deal with the summons issued by the Supreme Court to certain Haryana officials.
Addressing a press
conference after the two-hour meeting, Mr Thakur said
Haryana was sensitive about the issuance of summons to
its officials which could force them to go to jail. The
matter would be discussed with the Attorney-General to
find out a possible solution.
Rich & poor alike walk to water
BARMER, April 27 (PTI) Drought, and not death alone, is a mighty leveller in this border district of Rajasthan.
The severe shortage of water has stung the poorest of the poor and the rich with equal venom.
If the poor residents of Bhodoni, Paniya, Hapia and several non-descript villages of the district trudge at least five to ten km to get a mugful of water, so does well-off 70-year-old Ramai Ram of Rohili.
"This is the worst drought I have seen," says Ramai Ram. "I have plenty of money but I cant buy water at my doorsteps. I have to go out at this age and meet my daily need for water," he said.
Life is so tough out here that it seems to sap even the instinct to fight to live. And 60-year-old Jetha Ram is testimony to that.
"What can the government do to give us water when God is displeased with us? this is Natures curse and no one is responsible for this," mutters Jetha Ram, his face drooping.
The drought has played havoc with the livestock of Barmer, the mainstay of its economy.
Rohili village is dotted with carcasses of cows, sheep and goats. Only surviving camels represent livestock. Cattle are dying and those still alive are waiting for the worst.
Daloo Ram Godera, an advocate and resident of Rohili, says the livestock is threatened and people are migrating.
"Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot visited only Sanchore, Gudamalani and Sindhari which are less affected by famine. A quarter days visit in a vast desert is a joke with the people," he says, anger writ large on his face.
JODHPUR: Relief is yet to reach residents of the parched districts of Jodhpur and Barmer.
Villagers said there was no regular supply of water or fodder for animals in the affected areas of the two districts, the hardest hit by the drought.
"The water tankers sent by the government come only once in a while and there is no indication when they will return to our village. So we make our own arrangements for water," Binjaram, 35, a resident of Doonda village in Barmer district, told India Abroad News Service.
JAIPUR: While water and rain are prayed for in the folk songs in almost all parts of India, no region perhaps surpasses Rajasthan in the sheer multitude of references to water related phenomenon.
Rain has always been crucial in this region of no perennial rivers. The storage of this rainwater in different ways has formed a part of a tradition in different parts of this diverse state, soon to be Indias largest in area.
However, of late the laying of water pipes and the resultant supplying of water through taps has adversely affected this traditional wisdom, more so in the urban areas.
In many rural parts of the state, traditional systems like talabs, kundis, nadis still meet the water requirements. NGOs like Tarun Bharat Sangh (TBS) have actually managed to revive a dying river in Alwar district.
In Barmer, one of the
worst affected areas this year, this system of harvesting
rooftop water has long existed. However, the inadequate
monsoon last year has caused most tankas in the town to
dry up. And here too the modern water supply systems have
tended to lessen the dependence on tankas, though they
still are functional.
Water famine likely in
NEW DELHI, April 27 Rajya Sabha members today expressed serious concern over the prevailing water condition in the country and warned that as per international scientific studies, India is likely to face water famine in the next 20 years.
In an impromptu discussion on the water scarcity, depletion of ground water and contamination of drinking water in the country, members cutting across party lines sought immediate remedial measures from the government and expressed concern over the serious problem. They suggested evolving a long-term policy to tide over the scarcity.
The issue was raised through a Special Mention by Mr Narendra Mohan (BJP) and a number of other members associated themselves with the issue. The members gave several suggestions such as rain water harvesting, watershed management and water preservation.
Mr Mohan expressed concern over depletion of ground water level in states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and even Orissa.
Joining him, Bharati Ray (CPM) apprehended that water scarcity would be the greatest crisis before mankind in the coming years and expressed anguish over the outbreak of water riots resulting from water famine.
Mr T.N. Chaturvedi (BJP) suggested setting up of an all-party committee to formulate a long-term policy to face the situation.
CPM member, Mr Dipankar Mukherjee, felt it would be better if the government came to the House with a water policy which the members could discuss threadbare and give suggestions.
A BJD member, Mr Birabhadra Singh, suggested conservation of forest and said children in schools should be encouraged to plant and grow a tree as part of their curriculum.
PMK hints at leaving NDA in
NEW DELHI, April 27 Serious differences today emerged within the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA), specially among its constituents from Tamil Nadu, with Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) leader, Mr Ramadoss hinting at facing the next years Assembly polls as part of "some other alliance".
The simmering differences emerged at a press conference called by Mr Ramadoss to give details about the meeting his party has sponsored to demand increase in reservation for backward classes. Mr Ramadoss also spoke of the "bitter experience" his party had with the DMK in the past. "We will continue to remain with the DMK till they themselves ask us to quit the alliance", Mr Ramadoss said.
Asked with whom the party would align in the event of the PMK parting company with DMK, he said "we will face the Assembly elections as part of some other alliance" He, however, said that the third front would not be successful in the state.
He said that the PMK had demanded five Lok Sabha seats and 40 Assembly seats from its alliance partner the DMK in 1996. But Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi had allotted 20 Lok Sabha seats and 40 Assembly seats to Tamil Maanila Congress which forced the PMK to go it alone.
Problems in the NDA grouping in the state cropped up when the PMK and Tamizhagha Rajiv Congress (TRC) headed by former Union Minister, Mr Vazhapadi Ramamurthy traded charges against each other.
Stating that he had spoken to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee regarding Mr Ramamurthys charges when he met him recently, Mr Ramadoss said that the "Prime Minister advised me to ignore them."
Staff-builder nexus to be probed
NEW DELHI, April 27 (UNI) The CBI has been asked to break the nexus between civic officials and builders to check the haphazard growth of the city even in posh colonies covered under the master plan, Urban Development Minister Jagmohan said today.
A numerous specific cases of unauthorised constructions, including as many as 34 unauthorised markets cited by an MP, have been referred to the CBI to probe the "collusion between the builder, owner and staff" of the Delhi Development Authority and Municipal Corporation of Delhi, Mr Jagmohan told reporters.
Blatant malpractices are writ large on the faces of such buildings and the builder-official machinery conspiracy "is more than clear," he said.
Mr Jagmohan said he had also asked all the state ministers concerned to initiate action for the removal of unauthorised constructions and to prevent mushrooming of such structures in future in their states.
Besides the CBI inquiry, the DDA has been particularly instructed to take action in upcoming areas where malpractices had come to notice.
Freedom fighters hold rally
NEW DELHI, April 27 (UNI) Hundreds of freedom fighters along with their successors took to streets here today to "stir the conscience of nation about the dismal socio-political scenario and to seek corrective measures to protect the hard won freedom".
The veterans, most of whom having crossed the age of 70 and some approaching their 90s and practically unable to walk without support, still chose to brave the scorching sun to march to Parliament.
They were not demanding anything for themselves, but inviting the countrymens attention towards the "near collapse of governance, all pervading corruption, loss of moral values and principles".
The marchers, led by a rally chariot carrying the portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Shaheed Bhagat Singh and others, held afloat the tricolour, banners and placards.
The organisers of the march, the All-India Freedom Fighters Organisation and the All-India Freedom Fighters Successors Organisation, addressing the participants at the starting point of the rally, on Jantar Mantar Road, declared that they could not remain silent spectators to the sad state of affairs.
Earlier, former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral, himself a freedom fighter, reminded the rallyists that their responsibility towards the country had not ended yet.
A 10-member delegation led by AIFFO leaders V.N. Mathur, Choudhary Ranbir and Satyanand Yajee submitted memoranda in the offices of the President, Vice-President, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and the Lok Sabha Speaker, calling for the scrapping of the National Commission on Constitution Review among other things.
Singhs younger brother Kultar Singh, AIFFSO
President Bhupinder Singh Hooda, other freedom fighters
Ratan Lal Joshi, S. Gopal Shastri, K.K. Naikar, S. Ram
and J.M. Dhar, referred to the "do or die"
agitation launched by Mahatma Gandhi and exhorted the
countrymen to launch a mass movement against the
"anti-poor, anti-farmer polices of the
All set for Centre-APHC
NEW DELHI, April 27 With Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah very reluctantly agreeing to the Centres offer of talks to All-Party Hurriyat Conference leaders, the stage appears to be almost set for a dialogue.
While the released Hurriyat leaders have been stressing that they would consider New Delhis offer of talks and would seriously deliberate upon the offer, the Centre is working towards creating a favourable atmosphere for picking up the threads of negotiations.
The majority of Hurriyat leaders have been set free from Jodhpur and other jails. The permission to release them from prisons was granted by the state government and it could be done only after Dr Farooq Abdullah agreed to it, the sources said adding that the Chief Minister very reluctantly agreed to the Centres decision to enter into dialogue.
The Centres offer of talks, is not only aimed at telling the world that India was ready to talk but is also driven with a desire to find a way out within the constitutional framework.
The Hurriyat leaders, who have been very keen to assume a role in the state, are yet to finally take a stand with an argument that they are still waiting for a formal offer of talks from New Delhi. Moreover, all Hurriyat leaders have not yet been set free.
The JKLF leader, Mr Yasin Malik, is still to be set free as he is undergoing a treatment with his physician who has been treating him for his heart ailment for long. He is in Batra Hospital.
Only after all leaders reach Srinagar, the APHC executive would be able to deliberate upon the pros and cons of the said offer of talks.
Even while opinion is divided between senior Hurriyat leaders on the offer of talks, it is almost certain that the APHC would not reject any formal offer of a dialogue with New Delhi as expatriate Kashmiri leaders are supporting the idea of talks.
The Hurriyat leadership can ill-afford to reject the offer as it would result in loss of face in the western capitals particularly in Washington, observers said.
Even the Vajpayee
government is said to be very keen to start a dialogue
with the APHC and others as it would help in warding off
the pressure from the opposition that its approach in
Kashmir has failed.
Concern at Arjun project delay
NEW DELHI, April 27 The countrys showpiece Main Battle Tank (MBT) project, Arjun, may again run behind its twice rescheduled commissioning of 2007.
The fears towards this delay were expressed today by the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which also called for the setting up of a highlevel committee to review and supervise the project.
In its 13th report tabled in Parliament, the PAC charged the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) with deficient project management and monitoring. It said the inordinate delay could have serious ramifications for the countrys security as there was concurrent slippage in production of T-72 tanks which had hit total phasing out of obsolete Vijayanta tanks.
The PAC also expressed concern about the balance of combat equation in the subcontinent. It pointed out that the balance of combat equation in the subcontinent had been disturbed by Pakistans deployment of Ukranian state-of-the-art T-80U MBT even in peripheral areas like Rann of Kutch facing the Gujarat border. It said the delay in production of Arjun MBT had created a precarious situation.
To add to the delay in the Arjun project, the Russian procured BMPs inducted into the Armys mechanised divisions were found to have defective image converters affecting their efficiency during night operations, he said.
The PAC said the proposed highlevel committee should look into progress made towards bulk production of Arjun and to ensure that once the MBT rolled out, it should be the most modern in the world.
The parliamentary committee said as per the estimates, Arjun, which had already overshot the schedule by 16 years with bulk production nowhere in sight, had major problems with gun control system, fire control system, power pack and transmission.
It noted that a technical negotiating committee had been set up to negotiate for import of these major systems, after the Army, following extensive user trials in 1996, had observed that the tank fell short of even the bottom line parameters and that these major deficiencies continued to persist.
The report said after
user-trial discussions between the DRDO and the Army, a
time-bound joint action plan (JAP) had been evolved in
which the Army Chief had laid down that 10 imperatives
from the Army had to be met before productionisation.
Sena MPs force LS adjournment
NEW DELHI, April 27 (PTI) Shiv Sena members, agitated over the murder of their activist in Mumbai yesterday in the third such incident in the past eight days, forced adjournment of the Lok Sabha 45 minutes ahead of the lunch recess.
The Sena members demanded the resignation of Maharashtra Home Minister Chhagan Bhujbal and wanted Union Home Minister L.K. Advani to direct the state government to take effective steps to stop the "political murders".
Raising the issue, party leader in the Lok Sabha Anant Geete alleged the state government was supporting the gangsters in the "conspiracy to finish the Shiv Sena" and the murders were part of such a plot.
They said Sena members were being targeted as the party, when in power, had taken drastic action against the gangs in Mumbai.
Mr Geete, who was vociferously supported by several of his party colleagues, including Mr Mohan Rawale, Mr Chandrakant Khaire and Ms Bhavna Gavali, said the law and order situation had taken a turn for the worse and the Congress-NCP Government had become a silent spectator.
Kashmiri ultra held in Capital
NEW DELHI, April 27 (UNI) The Delhi Police has nabbed a Kashmiri militant wanted for the killing of two Rashtriya Rifles jawans in the Surankote area of Jammu and Kashmir in March this year.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Pradeep Srivastava said here today that Mohammad Khursheed was nabbed from the open area opposite Red Fort along with a passport in his name.
He said the police were on the look-out for Khursheed after being informed by Army headquarters that he was suspected to be hiding somewhere in the Jama Masjid area.
Khursheed, a resident of Surankote in Poonch district, was involved in an encounter with Rashtriya Rifles men on March 15, in which two jawans were killed and an officer injured.
Three pastors attacked
KOTTAYAM, April 27 (UNI) Three evangelists were attacked and a tent put up for a convention was demolished by miscreant at Kaduvakulam in Kottayam district of Kerala last evening.
The injured pastors were
admitted in the district hospital. While a prayer meeting
was going on in the convention pandal, six assailants,
allegedly attacked the pastors. They also ransacked the
marquee with loud speakers, generator sets and chairs in
Communist leader Raghavan dead
ALAPUZHA, April 27 (UNI) Senior Communist ideologue and freedom fighter Puthupally Raghavan died at his residence near Kayamkulam today. He was 90.
Russia for dynamic ties with India
NEW DELHI, April 27 (UNI) Mr Sergei Ivanov, Secretary of the Russian Security Council, who arrived here today sought more dynamic political ties with India to help contribute to stability and security in Asia and the rest of the world and ensure a balanced multi polar system.
Mr Ivanov, who is a
close associate of designated Russian President Vladimir
Putin, will sign a protocol on cooperation between the
Russian Security Council and the National Security
Council of India tomorrow with Mr Brajesh Mishra to
devise a common strategy on military and political
Bhutans assurance to India
NEW DELHI, April 27 Bhutan has assured India that it would not allow its territory to be abused for anti-Indian activities.
The assurance was given
by the Bhutanese Foreign Minister, Mr Lyonpo Jigmi T.
Thinley, to the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant
Singh, when the two held wide-ranging discussions on
bilateral, regional and international issues in the
Wage board report implementation states job
NEW DELHI, April 27 (PTI) Ensuring compliance of the recommendations of the wage board for journalists and non-journalists is within the purview of the state governments and the Centre should not be blamed for non-compliance by newspapers, the government told the Rajya Sabha today.
Replying to supplementaries during Question Hour, Labour Minister Satyanarayan Jatiya said only 643 of 1715 newspapers have fully implemented the recommendations of the Bachawat Wage Board.
India deserves UN Council membership
NEW DELHI, April 27 (UNI) India is a natural and deserving candidate for a permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council, Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Kumar Panja informed the Rajya Sabha during question hour today.
It is generally recognised that by any objective criteria whether of economic vibrancy, political maturity, size of population or contribution to the activities of the UN relating to the maintenance of peace and security, India is a natural and deserving candidate, Mr Panja said in a written reply.
Police remand for IA hijack kingpin
BASIRHAT (West Bengal), April 27 (UNI) Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate S Gupta today remanded Belal Mian, an ISI agent and kingpin behind the hijacking of Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814 from Kathmandu, to police custody for 14 days.
flees, 2 cops suspended
hiked to death
from May 2
Bishop to be
installed on may 1
must leave by May 31
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