|Thursday, May 4, 2000,
Grass deliberately not
funds for drought-hit
Opposition demand for probe
Kids sacrifice: SC reverses
Order to IT Department in Rajesh
Kishan Kumars remand
Centre holds talks with Bodo
deliberately not cut
NEW DELHI, May 3 Five days after the devastating fire at the Bharatpur Ordnance Depot which saw ammunition worth crores go up in flames, there are allegations that the authorities had deliberately ignored the cutting of elephant grass in and outside the compound of the depot.
Sources in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) today said that the depot authorities had deliberately put off the cutting of the elephant grass so that they could demand a better price from the contractors who were given the job of getting the depot rid of it before the summer. It should normally have been cut within the first three months of the year to avoid it getting dried and posing a fire hazard.
Authorities had reportedly allowed the grass to grow for more than one crop or more than one year as the taller the grass, the better price it demands. According to the sources, the practice was going on for some time and the authorities had been making good money from the sale of the grass.
MoD officials also pointed that although the authorities were regularly handing out the contracts for the cutting of the grass and also making good money from it, yet the amount was not being deposited with the Consolidated Fund of India. The money collected from the cutting of the grass was being diverted for other purposes.
According to reports, the authorities were also not following the standard procedure for the storage of the ammunition. Although it was being claimed that there was no negligence in the storage of ammunition, more than 60 per cent of the ammunition was actually being kept in open plinths even during high summer temperatures.
The sources said all ammunition could not be stored in the open and had to be kept under air conditioning. However due to lack of such standard storage accommodation, most of the ammunition was being kept in the open.
Experts point out that in the event of one type of ammunition being stored above the other there is always a possibility of pressure increasing on the ammunition kept at the lowest. During summers due to rising temperatures and possible friction there are chances of blasts.
The officials have also expressed reservations over where the fire possibly started. It is being suspected that it could have actually started inside the compound but the authorities are covering up by saying that it started in the grass outside the peripheral wall.
This the sources point out was being suspected as it was easy for the fire to cross both the outer periphery wall and then the inner compound wall to finally reach the open plinths where the ammunition was stored. Besides if the fire started outside the compound it would have given the guards enough reaction time to bring it under control before the open plinths came under its impact.
The sources said that
although the Defence Minister was repeating what the Army
Headquarters had reported to him, but he was not
convinced with the theory. He was reportedly seeking
further details on the incident independently too.
Hanuman saved us
BHARATPUR, May 3 The fire in the ammunition depot has created a new tourist attraction in the city, which is famous for its bird sanctuary.
Hanuman Temple, situated at the entrance of Mandawani village, is attracting many visitors since the Black Friday.
Amidst the rubble, the temple stands like a rock unscathed. All houses in the village were destroyed when missiles from the depot landed there.
The simple temple built with bricks without any roof on top, is now being attributed to possess mystical powers. Hanuman has saved the lives of Bharatpur, claims Ram Sharma, who performs puja at the temple built only a year ago.
Had it not been for Lord Hanuman, the amount of explosion, which occurred on Friday last, would have destroyed the entire city, the priest of the temple, which is situated 7 km from the city, claimed.
Explaining the significance of building the temple without the roof, Mandawani villagers said: Hanuman wards off all evil designs and he invisibly grows to stop all evil spirits.
An elderly villager said: Hanuman had appeared in the dreams of Ram Prakash, since dead, and directed him to build the temple. Then we were puzzled but now we understand the significance. We believe that Hanumanji grew invisibly and prevented much damage, he said.
With the mystical powers of Lord Hanuman spreading to neighbouring villages and Bharatpur city, people are visiting the temple to seek his blessings.
Gopal Singh, one such visitor to the temple, along with his family said: I am here to thank the Lord Hanuman that he spared us from a major tragedy. We owe our lives to Him.
Another visitor, Rupa Devi, said: I thought it will be a grand temple with a beautiful sculpture of Lord Hanuman. Visiting here and seeing an orange stone slab with Hanuman in a three side brick covered temple, I am convinced that God need not be in grand temples with eye catching architecture. He can be in such obscure places and still carry on with His miracles.
And to cash on the
mystical powers of Hanuman, the villagers have started
drawing up plans to attract the tourists, when they
arrive in large numbers to visit the Keoladeo National
Park or Bharatpur Bird Sanctuary, as it is commonly
known, during the winters.
JAISALMER, May 3 (PTI) Union Minister of State for Rural Development Vasundhara Raje has expressed dissatisfaction with the drought relief measures undertaken by the Rajasthan Government and accused it of misusing Central funds for furthering party interests.
I am not satisfied with the relief work going on in the state. Everywhere there are complaints that the state government is using the funds provided by the Centre to further party interests and not to help the people in distress, she told reporters here yesterday.
On the charge by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot that relief operations were held up because of the lack of funds from the Centre, she said such accusations were attempts to cover up his own governments failures.
The Union Government had so far released Rs 860 crore for drought relief in Rajasthan but the state government failed to start relief work on time, the minister, who was on a days tour of famine-hit areas, said.
Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had sent her to assess the situation in the drought-hit areas. The minister said she would soon present her report to the Prime Minister.
JAIPUR (PTI): Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot has asked Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee not to withdraw the regular bimonthly allocation of foodgrains under the public distribution system for families living below the poverty line (BPL) in the drought-affected areas.
I was dismayed to
receive a communication from the Department of Public
Distribution in the Ministry of Consumer Affairs
withdrawing the normal bimonthly allocation of foodgrains
for BPL families, Mr Gehlot said in a letter to the
NEW DELHI, April 3 Notwithstanding the failed attempt to move cut motions on Demands of Grants of various Ministries in the Lok Sabha last evening, the Congress today condemned the attitude of the government in brushing aside the demands of the Opposition for roll back of prices of essential items.
The government did not concede to demands of the entire Opposition which was united. The government is anti-people, anti-poor. The Opposition tried its best, ...we condemn this attitude of the government, the Congress spokesman, Mr Ajit Jogi, said here today.
Mr Jogi said the Opposition wanted to move cut motions but the Speaker disallowed under rules that those Ministries whose Demands for Grants were not discussed cut motions for those ministries could not be raised.
The Lok Sabha applied guillitone at 6.00 p.m. yesterday after the House discussed Demands for Grants of just three ministries, Communications, Home and Human Resource Development.
The Congress and the Opposition were planning to corner the BJPs allies who were agitated over the decision to hike the prices of items issued through public distribution system, hike in diesel prices and also reduction in subsidy on fertilisers.
The leaders of the NDA minus the BJP met last week demanding roll back of prices. The parties included the Telugu Desam Party, the Janata Dal (United) and the Trinamool Congress among others.
However, the Opposition, including the Congress was outsmarted by the ruling alliance when the latter agreed to discuss Demands for Grants of the above said three ministries on which there was no common meeting ground among the Opposition.
especially the Congress, did not seem to be fully
prepared as the party did not issue any whip to its
members to be present at the time when the issue was
going to come up in the Lok Sabha. Only a handful of the
party MPs were present at that time.
NEW DELHI, May 3 (UNI) The government today rejected a spirited demand by the Opposition in the Lok Sabha for a joint parliamentary inquiry into the controversial Rs 1300-crore Sankhya Vahini project, saying it was prepared for a full fledge debate on the issue.
Raising the issue during zero hour, Congress Chief Whip Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi contended that the clearance for the project had violated all norms and the Telecommunication Department was kept in the dark. The project involved the security of the country and the Standing Committee of Parliament had demanded a thorough review of the project.
Mr Dasmunshi said that in the light of serious observations made by the standing committee, it was desirable that the government order a joint parliamentary probe. The demand was supported by the CPM and other Opposition parties even as Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi pleaded with the Opposition to allow Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan to give the government side of the story.
Dasmunshis demand CPM member Suresh Kurup alleged
even a BJP member, Madan Lal Khurana, had raised the
issue but dropped it as he was assured a Cabinet berth by
the Prime Minister. This serious issue cannot be settled
this way and demanded a probe.
must hold talks
NEW DELHI, May 3 Former Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Ms Asma Jehangir, today stressed the need for a dialogue between India and Pakistan.
Speaking at a panel discussion on Indo-Pak relations at the Crossroads here today, Ms Jehangir said India should take up Pakistans offer of talks. If India could talk to General Zia who was responsible for the breeding of jehadi groups in Kashmir, then why not talk to General Musharraf. Engaging Pakistan in talks will help. Indias refusal to talk engenders fears that it is preparing for war, she said.
Ms Jehangir who is heading a 50-member delegation on a week-long visit to India said both sides needed to initiate the process for peaceful co-existence. I absolutely recognise that we need to put more effort in democratisation of Pakistan but I will like you to recognise the fact that all is not well here too.
She said democrarcy was essential not only for Pakistan but for peace in South Asia. We want peoples rights to be respected wherever they are. Our governments have violated peoples rights but because Pakistan is bad, do not exonerate your government for violating rights.
Rajya Sabha MP and veteran journalist, Kuldip Nayyar said Kashmir might only be a symptom, it was not the disease.
Speaking on economic and cultural co-operation between the two countries, noted writer, Gurcharan Das said, Trade is good and free trade is even better. Trade alone can solve a lot of problems of India and Pakistan.
Mr C. Raja Mohan, Strategic Editor, The Hindu, said he did not foresee any talks between India and Pakistan because of cross-border violence.
Noted columnist, Khushwant Singh said in 52 years the two governments had created so much hatred. He pointed out that although Pakistan artistes were given a warm welcome in India, Indian artistes were not welcome in Pakistan. Hardly any Bharatnatyam dancer has been able to perform in Pakistan because of pressure of governments. Its time we tackle this.
He described Asma Jehangir as a beacon of hope and leader not only in Pakistan but also in South Asia.
Congress MP, Rajesh
Pilot said, Let us accept that we have lost faith
in each other. Kashmir is one of the most contentious
issues. You have got to trust us, we are not for
territory but some people will not want India and
Pakistan to have peaceful relations.
raises Afghan issue
NEW DELHI, May 3 Uzbekistan today gave a call for putting an end to external interference in Afghanistan and stressed that New Delhi and Tashkent should coordinate efforts to counter threats common to both nations and the security of the Central Asian region.
If there was no interference, peace would have come there (in Afghanistan) a long time ago, the Uzbek President, Mr Islam Abduganievich Karimov told newspersons here.
On the conclusion of his three- day official trip to India, Mr Karimov expressed satisfaction at the outcome of his visit saying that the two countries had signed 10 bilateral agreements.
During his talks with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the two leaders stressed that cooperation between the two countries in the fields of economy, agriculture and trade was very important.
Charging the Taliban of launching military action three weeks after it had agreed to stop it during a Tashkent conference some time back, Mr Karimov said, I am of a very firm conviction that a broad-based coalition government, having representation from all regions and national ethnic strata, will bring peace in Afghanistan.
Referring to his discussions with Indian leaders, he said he was fully satisfied with the meetings which touched bilateral matters, regional security issues and acute international problems.
On the economic front, he said both nations were not satisfied with the $ 39 million annual trade turnover, which should be substantially raised. He said that India could buy aircrafts fron Uzbekistan both for civil as well as military purposes.
Earlier addressing a
meeting of the members of the Confederation of Indian
Industries (CII), Mr Karimov invited Indian entrepreneurs
to invest in his country in the field of textile,
banking, insurance, jewellery and information technology.
NEW DELHI, May 3 (PTI) The Supreme Court has criticised a Bombay High Court judgement setting aside a lower court order sentencing to death four persons for sacrificing three children for a treasure trove at Newasa in 1992.
A Division Bench of Justice K.T. Thomas and Justice D.P. Mohapatra upholding the conviction of Damu Gopinath, Kotkar alias Guruji, Mukinda Thorat and Balu Joshi, who had sacrificed the children including a girl, said the high court had gone gravely erroneous in sidestepping the circumstances established by the prosecution.
However, the apex court converted their death sentence to life imprisonment.
Criminal justice became the unfortunate casualty as a consequence of the unwarranted interference made by the high court with a well-considered conclusion arrived at by the trial court, the Bench observed.
The accused had kidnapped four children between March, 1992 and February, 1995, and killed three of them at their ritual spot where they believed the treasure trove was hidden. The fourth child was lucky enough to escape from their clutches by giving them a slip.
MUMBAI, May 3 (PTI) In a fresh twist to the trial conducted by the Income Tax Department against actor-turned politician Rajesh Khanna for alleged concealment of income earned through a mini theatre, the court has directed the authorities to produce annual returns filed by his firm on the basis of which prosecution was launched.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate C.L.Thool has directed the prosecution to file its say on May 5 in response to an application made by the actor urging for production of annual returns and statements of accounts of Ashirward mini theatre for the assessment years 1976-77 to 1981-82.
In the application, Khanna said that he was not in the possession of the original record and the balance sheets filed by Ashirwad mini theatre for the relevant period.
However, he had the photostat copies of the balance sheet as on June 30, 1977, June 30, 1980, June 30, 1981 and June 30, 1982.
Khannas counsel I.P.Bagadia pleaded that since these were documents in defence, the prosecution should be directed to produce them before the court which had not been done although the trial had come to an end.
In case the IT Department failed to produce the documents, the actor urged that photostat copies of the balance sheets available with him be admitted as exhibits for the purpose of the trial.
The actor submitted that
in the event of these documents not being produced, great
harm, prejudice, inconvenience and hardship would be
caused to him. Even his estranged wife and prosecution
witness Dimple Kapadia had not produced these documents
despite being a partner in Ashirwad mini theatre, he
AGARTALA, May 3 (UNI) More than 65 per cent of 2,66,308 voters today exercised their franchise in the second and last phase of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council elections.
Official sources here said no major incident was reported from anywhere in north and south districts, where polling was held under a security blanket.
In some areas the polling percentage was above 70. Todays election was held in 12 of the 28 constituencies, in the 30-member TTAADC. Two members are nominated by the Governor.
In the first phase of elections on Sunday, polling was held in 15 constituencies. At, least 25 persons, both workers of the CPM and Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), were injured in clashes at Birchandra Nagar-Kalsi, Debdaru and Alaichara in South Tripura, some of the injured were shifted to hospital.
Senior CMP leader Gautam
Das told newsmen here that IPFT cadres, backed by the
banned National Liberation Front of Tripura, rigged the
polls in at least 15 booths under Maharani-Chellagung and
Killa Bagma constituencies. A complaint was lodged with
the Election Commissioner for the district council in
NEW DELHI, May 3 (UNI) The Crime Branch of the Delhi police today said that Bollywood star Kishan Kumar, one of the main accused in the cricket match-fixing scandal, would be taken to Mumbai soon to locate two more bookies Yasin and Jaggi.
Investigating officer Surender Sharma told Metropolitan Magistrate K.S. Mohi that Kishan Kumar conspired with Sanjiv Chawla, Rajesh Kalra, Mohan Khattar and I.S. Bittu to fix matches with South African captain Hansie Cronje.
association with the Dubai-based underworld had virtually
been proved as he had been there several times to
generate funds for match-fixing, government counsels S.K.
Agarwal and Ahmed Khan said. On May 2, Kishan Kumar
disclosed that his two mobile phones and passport were
lying in Mumbai.
holds talks with Bodo ultras
NEW DELHI, May 3 Nearly two months after the suspension of operations against the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT), the Centre has held the first round of tripartite talks with the insurgent group.
A five-member BLT delegation led by its chairman, Mr Hagrama Basumatary took part in the talks which had representatives of the Union Home Ministry and the Government of Assam, Home Ministry Additional Secretary, Dr P D Shenoy said here today.
Dr Shenoy, who led the ministry delegation said the two-day talks which ended yesterday were held in a cordial atmosphere and this was also the first meeting after the finalisation of agreed ground rules between the BLT and the Centre.
NEW DELHI, May 3 The Rajputana Rifles today held a Shahid Samman Sammelan to honour 58 next of kin of those killed and 11 disabled soldiers. The function was presided over by Brig Prakash Chaudhary, Sm, VSM, and was attended among others by ex-servicemen of the regiment from Faridabad and Gurgaon.
The Widows, Orphan and
Disabled Soldiers Cell (WODC) established by the
Rajaputana Rifles has been providing emotional support,
advice and coordinating financial assistance, self
employment and childrens education for the families
of martyrs and the disabled soldiers. In the past three
months financial assistance has been remitted to 220
families and 24 disabled soldiers.
NEW DELHI, May 3 (PTI) The government will hold an inquiry into the illegal sale of recycled disposable syringes, needles, gloves and tubes, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan told the Lok Sabha today.
Sharing members concern during zero hour over the menace, Mr Mahajan said the Centre was writing to all state governments directing them to ensure that all hospitals and nursing homes destroyed used syringes, needles, gloves and tubes.
The minister recalled that the Supreme Court had given a directive that all hospitals in the country made arrangements by December 31 last for destruction of these used medical items.
Some cities have carried out the directive but many others are yet to abide by it, he said, adding a new problem has arisen in the country.
BJP member Vijay Goel said it was being operated from West Delhi and suggested that the Delhi police, on its own, could institute a case.
NEW DELHI, May 3 (UNI) Sea trials of the naval version of the Trishul missile are planned for the middle of 2001, Defence Minister George Fernandes said today.
The missile was undergoing various phases of trial.
Development of a three-beam guidance system for the sea environment was the primary cause for the delay in the completion of the development work, Mr Fernandes said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.
minister said delay in commissioning the warship INS
Brahmaputra was due to the lack of adequate
infrastructure at the time of placement of the order,
attempt to achieve a high degree of indigenisation, delay
in the receipt of the main weapon system from the foreign
source and low productivity.
MUMBAI, May 3 (UNI) The first-ever international Indian film awards (IIFA), will be organised in London, on June 24.
A star-studded function will be held at the Skyscape, the entertainment zone at the Millennium Dome in London. IIFA advisory boards spokesperson and noted actor Amitabh Bachchan said. This will be the first Asian event ever to be held at Millennium Dome, one of the world most-celebrated venues and is being projected as the Indian equivalent of the prestigious Oscars by the organisers.
IIFA is being
conceptualised and produced by leading entertainment and
events company, Wizcraft. The nominations and voting
process will be monitored by price Waterhouse Coopers
Ltd. which does the same for the Oscars. We want to
make it cent percent error-free, says Parveen
Ghatalia of the International audit firm.
member denies joining breakaway group
NEW DELHI, May 3 The Himachal Vikas Congress member in the Lok Sabha, Col Dhani Ram Shandil, today denied reports of his joining the breakaway group of the party led by State Public Works Minister, Mr Mahinder Singh.
I may clarify that I have not accepted any portfolio of this group and any report to this effect is false and full of mischief, Colonel Shandil said in a written statement here.
be repatriated to Haryana
NEW DELHI, May 3 The Centre may repatriate Mr N.K. Jain, IAS officer who was serving as Home Secretary, Union Territory, Chandigarh, when the CBI registered a case against him.
According to sources in the Union Home Ministry, Mr Jain who is on leave at present could be repatriated to his parent cadre, Haryana in due course.
dearth delays issuing of passports
surrender in Assam
found in UP
Stamp on 100
years of Railways in Doon valley
dies of cobra bite
bid to enter heaven
Mega projects to
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