Thursday, November 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India






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N A T I O N

Bill on promotion of SC, ST staff passed
New Delhi, November 28
The Lok Sabha today passed the Constitution (92nd Amendment) Bill, 2001, providing for giving promotion to government servants belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Oppn walkout over airspace violation 
New Delhi, November 28
The Opposition today staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha over the government’s silence on the air-space violation by a US naval helicopter at Chennai on November 26.

Defence Minister George Fernades with Admiral Dennis Blair Defence Minister George Fernades with Admiral Dennis Blair, C-in-C Pacific Command US Navy, at South Block in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI
In video (28k, 56k)


A group of Rajasthani nomads cook food near their camels
A group of Rajasthani nomads cook food near their camels during the annual Pushkar fair in Pushkar, Rajasthan, on Wednesday. The annual fair attracts Rajasthani nomads from various deserts to sell and buy camels and sheep.
— Reuters

National Capital Region--Delhi


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

Oppn refuses to pose questions to George
New Delhi, November 28
Continuing its strong protest in Parliament over the re-induction of Defence Minister George Fernandes into the Vajpayee Cabinet, opposition members refused to pose question to him during the question hour in the Rajya Sabha, leading to heated exchanges between opposition and treasury benches.

Cong rakes up Fernandes issue in LS
New Delhi, November 28
Congress member Jaipal Reddy today raked up the issue of the re-induction of Mr George Fernandes as Defence Minister and sought to know the fate of the notice given by him under Rule 184 on the matter, which entails voting.

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with his Thailand counterpart Thaksin Shinawatra Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee with his Thailand counterpart Thaksin Shinawatra on his arrival at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan for ceremonial Reception in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI Photo
In video (28k, 56k)

EARLIER STORIES

 

NORTH INDIA IN PARLIAMENT
455 Punjab cops face proceedings
New Delhi, November 28
Minister of State for Home Affairs Vidyasagar Rao told the Rajya Sabha that five officers belonging to the Indian Police Service and 450 other police personnel are facing proceedings on account of anti-terrorist operations in Punjab.

US court accepts gas victims’ charge
Bhopal, November 28
Survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas leak tragedy have scored a minor victory in their procrastinated fight for justice on the eve of the 17th anniversary of the disaster.

Govt to provide funds for rural electrification
New Delhi, November 28
The Union Government will soon bring in amendments to provide funds from the Prime Minister’s Gram Yojna to the states for rural electrification, Power Minister Suresh Prabhu informed the Rajya Sabha today.

Govt to augment paramilitary forces
New Delhi, November 28
The government has decided to augment central paramilitary forces in a phased manner during the next five years, Home Minister L.K. Advani told the Rajya Sabha today.

Low-key wedding of Mahajan’s daughter
New Delhi, November 28
High-profile Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan today performed the marriage of his daughter. It was a low-key affair with political invitees restricted to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Home Minister L.K. Advani.

Shatrughan Sinha refuses minister status
Lucknow, November 28
Cine star-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who was recently appointed the Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council, has refused to accept the “perks” attached with the post, much to the embarrassment of the state government.

VIDEOS
The two-day Goa heritage festival was an effort by the Goa Heritage Action Group to revive the pre-Portuguese culture of Goa.
(28k, 56k)
Hundreds of sex workers in Kolkata are observing AIDS Awareness Week.
(28k, 56k)
Intercropping system in high land areas of Koraput district of Orissa makes the farmers self-sufficient.
(28k, 56k)



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Bill on promotion of SC, ST staff passed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Lok Sabha today passed the Constitution (92nd Amendment) Bill, 2001, providing for giving promotion to government servants belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

The promotions will be given with retrospective effect from June 17, 1995. The Centre announced that it would shortly issue orders to restart the recruitment drive for these sections of society.

The Bill was passed with 355 members voting in favour and none opposing or abstaining from voting. Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi had ordered a division in accordance with the procedure for a constitutional amendment.

Replying to the debate, the Minister of State for Personnel, Ms Vasundhara Raje, said the government had “proven its bona fides time and again” by action and bringing in two constitutional amendments to safeguard the interests of the downtrodden.

The legislation was necessitated because the mere withdrawal of office memorandum in January, 1997, would not serve the purpose of providing for consequential seniority, Ms Raje said.

She said it would require amending Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution to provide for consequential seniority in the case of promotion by virtue of rule of reservation.

“It is also necessary to give retrospective effect to the proposed constitutional amendment to Article 16(4A) with effect from the date of coming into force of the Article itself, i.e. from June 17, 1995,” the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill said.

The minister said the entire House was equally concerned about the protection of the rights of SC and ST employees and sought its support for the Bill.

Earlier, initiating the discussion, Congress leader Buta Singh said the legislation would help in negating the 1997 office memorandum and rectifying the mistake.

Describing the amendment as a courageous step by the government, Mr Sanjay Paswan of the BJP said even though there was a reduction in government jobs, this step was in the right direction.

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Oppn walkout over airspace violation 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Opposition today staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha over the government’s silence on the air-space violation by a US naval helicopter at Chennai on November 26.

Taking exception to the absence of a senior minister to reply to the Opposition charges during zero hour and claiming that the country’s security was in danger, the members said the incident took place in the wee hours of November 26.

The Deputy Speaker, Mr P.M. Sayeed, who was in the Chair asked the government to make a statement in the House tomorrow on the incident.

The Opposition wanted the Prime Minister to address the House and explain the situation and the steps taken by the government in this regard.

When there was no proper response from the government in the absence of any senior minister, the Opposition staged a walkout. Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Santosh Gangwar wanted to say something, but the Opposition insisted that the Prime Minister should come to the House and give an explanation.

The members alleged that the reconnaissance helicopter flew over strategic installations, including Kalpakkam nuclear power project, for nearly two hours and refused to respond to instructions given by the Air Traffic Control.

They said even after 48 hours of the “blatant violation” of the Indian airspace, the government had not come out with a suo motu statement.

Former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar said the government must explain and inform the members what action had been taken in this regard, and requested the Chair to issue a directive to the government to make a statement.

Mr Basudev Acharia (CPM) wanted to know as to how the government could provide recreational and other facilities in Chennai to the US navy personnel. He wanted the government to withdraw all facilities extended to the US navy.

Former Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav (SP) said the Home Minister and the External Affairs Minister had assured on September 27 that the government would not extend such facilities to the USA in the backdrop of Afghan war. He alleged that the BJP was supporting terrorism as incidents like that happened in Chennai affected national security.

Congress MP Margaret Alva said she did not understand why the US ship had been allowed to use Chennai dock and alleged that American troops were there for recreation and they were using “our women.” This evoked strong reaction from MDMK member Vaiko who said the member should not have made such an allegation.

Mr Somnath Chatterjee (CPM) said the government had sold the national interest and there was no response from the government even after 48 hours of the incident. The matter was raised in the Rajya Sabha yesterday, but the government was keeping mum, he said.

Demanding the presence of the Prime Minister in the House, Congress Chief Whip Priyaranjan Dasmunsi said junior ministers could not get away by merely saying they would convey their feelings to the ministers concerned.

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Oppn refuses to pose questions to George
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Continuing its strong protest in Parliament over the re-induction of Defence Minister George Fernandes into the Vajpayee Cabinet, opposition members refused to pose question to him during the question hour in the Rajya Sabha, leading to heated exchanges between opposition and treasury benches.

The House witnessed noisy scenes soon after it began the day’s proceedings as Congress member K.K. Birla, whose question on MiG fighter planes was listed first during the question hour, refused to pose it to Mr Fernades.

Rural Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu and other ruling party members vehemently objected to this, which led to heated exchanges between opposition and treasury benches.

The Congress, led by Mr Suresh Pachouri, objected to the re-induction of Mr Fernandes, saying that the Venkataswami Commission probing the Tehelka expose, was yet to give its final report.

Expressing concern, Chairman Krishan Kant said “this has not happened in parliamentary history that a person and an honourable member who has been selected by the Prime Minister and given oath by the President is being opposed. It is an aberration and not the correct thing.” Mr Kant asked Mr Birla whether the question had been withdrawn. When Mr Birla said he didn’t want to put a question to Mr Fernandes, he ruled that the question was withdrawn.

Earlier, Mr Prem Chand Gupta of the RJD said: Nobody wants to field questions to Mr Fernandes”.

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Cong rakes up Fernandes issue in LS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Congress member Jaipal Reddy today raked up the issue of the re-induction of Mr George Fernandes as Defence Minister and sought to know the fate of the notice given by him under Rule 184 on the matter, which entails voting. Raising the matter during zero hour, Mr Reddy said it was a grave impropriety that Mr Fernandes was re-inducted before the Venkataswami Commission had cleared his name in the Tehelka probe.

“On one pretext or the other, the government is dodging the issue,” he alleged, adding that the House could not turn a blind eye to it.

Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi said the notice was under his consideration.

Mr P.R. Das Munshi of the Congress said it related to the violation of propriety and therefore, it should get priority.

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NORTH INDIA IN PARLIAMENT
455 Punjab cops face proceedings
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
Minister of State for Home Affairs Vidyasagar Rao told the Rajya Sabha that five officers belonging to the Indian Police Service and 450 other police personnel are facing proceedings on account of anti-terrorist operations in Punjab.

Power reforms in HP

Minister of State for Power Jayawanti Mehta told the Rajya Sabha that the Himachal Pradesh Government had started implementing power sector reforms based on the provisions of the memorandum of understanding signed between the state government and the Ministry of Power on March 31, 2001. The memorandum is operative over a period of five years up to March 2006 and the overall impact of the reforms is being monitored by the Ministry of Power.

The minister said a detailed plan had been prepared by the Himachal Pradesh Government to implement the memorandum which envisaged the setting up of the Electricity Regulatory Commission.

She said the commission had started functioning and had passed tariff order on October 29 which had been notified on October 31 and was effective from November 1 this year. She said the Himachal Pradesh government was taking steps under reforms for better distribution, management in reduction of transmission and distribution losses, computerisation of operations, installation of electronic meters and establishment of separate account centres for the accountability of three major areas of operations of the state electricity board-generation, transmission and distribution.

Research faculty in JNU

Minister of State for Human Resource Development Rita Verma told the Lok Sabha that the University Grants Commisison had given nod to the Centre for Molecular Medicine and School of Information Technology for the development of science and research during the ninth Five Year Plan.

While Rs 75 lakh had been sanctioned for the Centre of Molecular Medicine, no specific funds allocation had been made by the UGC. The university will meet this expenditure from its own funds.

Fernandes clarifies

Replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister, George Fernandes denied that the Army had been requesting for a hovercraft to patrol the lake in Ladakh for countering Chinese presence.
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US court accepts gas victims’ charge
N.D. Sharma

Bhopal, November 28
Survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas leak tragedy have scored a minor victory in their procrastinated fight for justice on the eve of the 17th anniversary of the disaster. An appellate court in the USA has, prima facie, accepted the survivors’ charge of environmental damage against Union Carbide Corporation and its former Chairman Warren Anderson and put the case for a fresh hearing to the District Court for the sourthern district of New York.

A three-Judge Bench of the appellate court observed in its judgement on November 15 that under New York law, “a corporate officer, who commits or participates in a tort, even if it’s in the course of his duties on behalf of the corporation, may be held individually liable.”

The Bench said the District Court’s opinion gave “no indication of the standard by which it dismissed the claims against Mr Anderson or the aspects of the complaint or factual record it relied on to support that dismissal.”

Seven individual survivors and five organisations representing survivors had filed in November 1999 a suit in the New York court against the Union Carbide Corporation seeking relief under the Alien Tort Claims Act. Judge John F. Keenan of the US District Court for the southern district of New York had dismissed the suite by a summary judgement in August last year. The plaintiffs had then preferred an appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

The suit was divided roughly into 15 points one to six related to seeking civil damages under the Akien Tort Claims Act. Points seven and eight sought judgements of civil contempt and fraud in connection with Union Carbide’s alleged failure to honour certain conditions laid down by the court. Points nine to 15 sought monetary and equitable relief under various common law theories for environmental harms allegedly attributable to the Union Carbide India Limited plant in Bhopal but not related to the gas leak disaster.

It was only in relation to the environment aspects that the appellate court disagreed with the judgement of the District Court of New York.

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Govt to provide funds for rural electrification
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The Union Government will soon bring in amendments to provide funds from the Prime Minister’s Gram Yojna to the states for rural electrification, Power Minister Suresh Prabhu informed the Rajya Sabha today.

Mr Prabhu said the National Power Grid would become operational soon to enable transfer of electricity from the power-surplus region to the power-shortage region.

He was replying to supplementaries during the Question Hour.

The NDA government is determined to overcome the power shortage in the country especially in the rural areas where there are about 4 lakh ‘bastis’ without power supply, he said. To a suggestion by Mr R. Ramachandriah of the TDP that the yardstick for determining whether a village was electrified or not needed to undergo changes, Mr Prabhu said even the Standing Committee on Power had made recommendations in this regard.

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Govt to augment paramilitary forces
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
The government has decided to augment central paramilitary forces in a phased manner during the next five years, Home Minister L.K. Advani told the Rajya Sabha today.

Replying to supplementaries during the question hour, Mr Advani said he would seek additional funds from the Finance Ministry for the purpose to ensure adequate availability of such forces to tackle the law and order problems in various states.

Answering the main question on the security in Tripura, the Home Minister said he was in touch with the state Chief Minister to ensure that the law and order there was under control.

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Low-key wedding of Mahajan’s daughter

New Delhi, November 28
High-profile Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pramod Mahajan today performed the marriage of his daughter. It was a low-key affair with political invitees restricted to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Home Minister L.K. Advani.

Poonam was married to Anand Rao, a Mumbai-based businessman at a small function at the Minister’s 7, Safdarjung Road residence.

The Minister of State in the PMO, Mr Vijay Goel, and film star Jackie Shroff were also present at the ceremony described as a “family affair”. PTI

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Shatrughan Sinha refuses minister status

Lucknow, November 28
Cine star-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who was recently appointed the Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Council, has refused to accept the “perks” attached with the post, much to the embarrassment of the state government.

Mr Sinha has thanked Chief Minister Rajnath Singh for offering him the post with the status of a Cabinet Minister but has refused to accept the rank and all the attached facilities he would be entitled to as the Chairman of the council. UNI

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Rly demand presented
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 28
A supplementary demand for Rs 369,800.20 lakh relating to the Ministry of Railways for 2001-02 was presented to the Lok Sabha today by Railway Minister Nitish Kumar.

Of the total amount, Rs 400 crore was being asked for appropriating to the Railway Safety Fund from the Railways’ revenue.

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NATIONAL BRIEFS

EIGHT OF FAMILY KILLED IN MISHAP
CHENNAI:
Eight members of a family, including three women and a child, were killed when the van in which they were travelling collided with a container lorry at Sunguvarchatram on Wednesday, the police said here. The victims, hailing from Cuddalore, were on their way to Chennai airport when the mishap took place in Kancheepuram district. PTI

KERALA JUDGE IS ORISSA CJ
NEW DELHI:
Mr Justice Penvemba Krishna Iyer Balasubramanyan will be the next Chief Justice of the Orissa High Court. According to a press communique issued here on Tuesday, the appointment of Mr Justice Balasubramanyan, a Judge of the Kerala High Court, takes effect from the date he assumes charge of his new office. UNI

TEN LABOURERS KILLED
LUCKNOW:
Ten persons were killed and 12 injured, some of overturned on the express highway in Unnao town on Tuesday. The police said the driver of the truck lost control over the vehicle. The victims were labourers returning to Lucknow from Kanpur after the day’s work. UNI

POLICE, TRIBESMEN CLASH IN RAYAGADA
CUTTACK: Prohibitory orders have been enforced in Orissa’s Dimiriquda village of Rayagada district following a pitched battle between the police and a group of tribal people, which left at least 17 injured on Tuesday. I-G (Law and Order) Anup Patnaik said on Wednesday that the mob was lathicharged when it defied policemen and forcibly reaped crops from the fields of local landlords in Gudari block. UNI

PM TO CONFER DEGREE ON AMJAD ALI KHAN
SANTINIKETAN: Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee will confer ‘Deshikottama’, the highest degree of Visva Bharati, on sarod player Amjad Ali Khan and former Director of the Indian Statistical Institute C.R. Rao here on December 15. The honorary degrees will be conferred on the two during the annual convocation of the university, Vice-Chancellor Sujit Kumar Basu said. PTI

JAMIA CHANCELLOR APPOINTED
NEW DELHI:
Prince Mufakhkham Jah Bahadur, a scion of the erstwhile Nizam dynasty, has been appointed Amir-i-Jamia (Chancellor) of Jamia Millia Islamia. The appointment, with immediate effect, was announced by the Anjuman (court) of Jamia Millia at its meeting on Tuesday. Prince Jah Bahadur, son of Hyderabad Nizam Prince Azam Jah, was educated in Hyderabad, France and England. UNI

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