|N A T I O N|
Ammonia fear causes
visit from today
Assam Government sends SOS to
Congress restarts party poll
PARADIP, Nov 8 (UNI) The survivors of cyclone-rammed Paradip are fleeing to Cuttack, Bhubaneswar and Puri in hordes, fearing the they might not escape a still more terrible fate if ammonia burst its tanks. Paradip Phospate Limited (PPL) and Oswal Chemicals and Fertilisers (OCF) Limited had been releasing ammonia into the atmosphere at night to prevent the tanks from bursting, said a senior government official.The strong smell of the gas, whose release the Indian Navy says was well-regulated, and the stench of human and animal bodies have made people feel sick.
A spokesman said naval teams explained the controlled flare-up process to the workers in the port area, successfully containing the panic about the gas leak in the port area.
But says labourer Ram Nayak: People felt irritation in their eyes, nausea and burning sensation all over the body. Nayak fled the town on November 6.
The private sector OCF limited had stored 20,000 metric tonnes of ammonia while the PPL had around 6,000 mt of the lethal gas which it uses in the production of phosphate fertilisers.
Fear stays in the back of native Jagannath Mohantys mind about the occurence of an accident similar to the Bhopal gas tragedy.
I do have survived the cyclone. But who knows the worst might come in the shape of a gas tragedy. ... remember Bhopal.
Power failure in the cyclone led to such an alarming situation as we had to vent 5 to 10 mm of ammonia during the night, said a senior PPL engineer on condition of anonymity.
Though generator sets were brought into use to operate the cooling towers, the pressure inside the tanks crossed the danger mark many times, Mr B.C. Jena, Municipality Additional Executive Officer, said last night.
The government authorities decided to vent (the gas) to avert a major accident at an emergency meeting with the companies owners, he said. Also, the fishermen who had ventured into the sea in the past two days said here that thousands of human bodies, carcasses of domestic animals and birds were being swept to the shore.
Most of the workers, specially the daily wagers, had been starving for the past 12 days as the cyclone has brought to a standstill all industries, including the port, in this town of Jagatsinghpur district.
The trawlers association spokesman said more than 1000 fishing boats, 150 mechanised boats and trawlers had sunk neat the port.
At least 30 trawlers were submerged in the fishing jetty. Even in the harbour, the water swelled more than 10 feet in height, said driver Keymer who had spent the cyclone period in his trawler.
But Project Director at the District Rural Development Agency, Gangadhar Singh claims: Had we not persuaded the fishermen community in the Gangolia, a slum cluster, to shift to the evacuation centres, the toll would have been much higher. We had arranged five evacuation centres and sheltered around 10,000 person.
We had even gone to slum clusters at 1.30 a.m. on October 28, to persuade those who were left out. But a few hundred fishermen stayed back to guard their huts and boats. They all were swept away by the 7.5 metre high tidal wave on the afternoon of October 29, Mr Jena said.
Said bookstall owner Bharat Chandra Sahu: Nobody took the warning seriously. We had experienced three major cyclones in the past 10 years. Everybody thought it (the super cyclone) would be similar to the previous ones. But unfortunately it swept away everything that came its way.
The government should take immediate long-term measures to prevent such super cyclones from hitting the coast, he said.
226 fire incidents in
Delhi; 1 dead
NEW DELHI, Nov 8 A total of 226 fire incidents including a major in which one person was killed and 100 cracker shops gutted, were reported on the occasion of Divali in the Capital last night.
The charred body of Brajesh was recovered from a shoe shop which was engulfed in fire due to a cracker blast in Sangam Vihar in South Delhi.
The fire was reported at 3 a.m., a spokesman of the Delhi Fire Service (DFS) said.
Another person was injured and 100 cracker shops were gutted in fire which broke out in the congested market in Panchkuian Road.
This incident could have become a major one but for the timely action taken by personnel of the DFS.
As many as 175 incidents occurred due to cracker blasts and others were due to short circuit. The DFS also received 14 hoax fire calls.
Sources said as many as 164 fire incidents were reported till midnight yesterday and another 62 were reported till 7 a.m. this morning.
Assam Government sends SOS to Centre
GUWAHATI, Nov 8 (UNI) The Assam Government has sent an SOS to the Centre to bail the state out of bankruptcy even as the state government employees have threatened to go on a non-cooperation movement from tomorrow demanding their salaries.
The state government needs Rs 221 crore from the Centre to liquidate the overdraft with the RBI and pay the salaries.
Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta discussed the matter with Union Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha yesterday but no solution was in sight, official sources said.
The Assam Government was bankrupt and even if the Union Government released the Rs 221 crore due under various heads, a similar situation would again emerge in the first week of next month, they added.
According to official sources, last month the overdraft was Rs 315 crore and the state government handled the crisis by taking Rs 146.12 crore from the Centre. But this month the situation was even worse as the state government had taken an advance of Rs 44.92 crore and the centre had deducted Rs 112 crore at source, the sources said.
governments salary bill for its 460,000 employees
was around Rs 310 crore and the state governments
own revenue was around Rs 110 crore per month leaving a
huge deficit of Rs 190 crore per month.
visit from today
NEW DELHI, Nov 8 The special committee set up by the Congress President to prepare for Assembly elections in various States including Haryana will visit the State starting tomorrow.
Although elections to the State Assembly in Haryana are not due before 2001, the Congress party wants to be ready in case there are snap polls in the State.
The AICC General Secretary Mrs Ambika Soni and former Governor, Mr P. Shiv Shankar will visit various places in Haryana starting tomorrow over the next three days.
NEW DELHI, Nov 8 (PTI) The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre, on a special leave petition (SLP) challenging the Delhi High Courts order denying any relief to 105 candidates selected for recruitment to the National Defence Academy (NDA) despite admitting that they were wronged by the Ministry of Defence.
The apex court, issuing notices to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) and the Additional Director-General of Recruitment (ADGR), directed them to file replies by December 6, the next date of hearing.
The SLP filed by the
affected candidates alleged that the MoD, in
complete disregard to the accepted policy,
had given admission to 141 candidates of the 100th course
(July, 1998) in the 101st course of the NDA (January,
1999) at the cost of 105 candidates selected from this
NEW DELHI, Nov 8 (PTI) An electronic alarm system to help help detect enemy intrusion in border areas like Kargil has been gathering dust for the past six years in a defence laboratory here.Even after the Kargil incident there seem to be no takers for this device, according to defence scientists who developed the device in a laboratory under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).The low-cost system can detect intrusion in border areas which is difficult to monitor by line-of-sight implements or patrolling personnel.
It can alert the authorities through discontinuous beeps if a single intruder crosses the border. In the case of vehicles or a group of people running across the border it emits a continuous noise.
The knowhow was transferred to Indian Telephone Industries (ITI), Naini, for commercialisation. But unfortunately there are no takers, the scientists told PTI.
Though the vibration sensor-based system has been demonstrated successfully to the BSF and the Indian Army several times, nobody has come forward to take it, they said.
Last month, the BSF tried the device in the Bhuj region of Gujarat, the scientists said, claiming that it was a success, like the previous times.
Surveillance in the Kashmir border can be made easier and better with the system as up to 15 sensors could be monitored from a receiving point situated on a hilltop, the scientists said.
It was demonstrated in Barmer and Jaisalmer in Rajasthan, the Kutch region in Gujarat and the Punjab border. It had not been tested in the Kashmir valley though demonstration dates were fixed several times in the past only to be cancelled at the last moment, they said.
The performance of the system is weather-independent. It sleeps in the absence of intrusion activity and wakes up in the presence of targets.
Called remotely activated acoustic warning system (RAAWS) it can narrow down the location within a range of 10-50 metres depending upon the soil condition. It runs on re-chargeable 12 volt nickel-cadmium batteries.
The six-inch-long pyramidal sensor needs to be grouted in an inverted fashion behind a bush or a sand dune for camouflage.
The sensors are connected to a receiving unit, placed a few kilometres away, which can monitor activities around each sensor.
The system, costing about Rs 5 lakh, consists of vibration sensors and receivers. Vibration generated by moving personnel or a vehicle is detected first by the sensor which filters and amplifies the signal and converts it into a detectable electrical signal.
As an important civilian spin-off of this technology, the scientists have developed an unmanned railway level crossing warning system which also acts by picking up the vibrational signal generated by a moving train.
It can detect approaching trains sufficiently in advance to generate an alarm in the form of a sharp hooting sound and an intense flashing light to attract attention.
Congress restarts party
NEW DELHI, Nov 8 The Congress today announced restarting of the process of organisational elections with a fresh drive for enrolment while ruling out changes in party set-up before the Antony committee report was ready.
The partys Central Election Authority (CEC) announced that a meeting of the Pradesh Congress Committees (PCCs) and chairmen of the pradesh election authorities had been called here on December 1 to discuss various matters concerning the party elections.
The Congress had postponed the elections scheduled earlier this year as the Lok Sabha elections were announced.
The CEA chief, Mr Ram Niwas Mirdha, said instructions had been issued to all state units to start membership drive with December 31 as the deadline.
The PCCs had been asked to designate a senior officer-bearer who would supervise the membership drive.
The CEA also stressed that as per the party constitution, enough members of the categories for whom reservation had been provided should be enrolled so that their due representation in various party bodies was ensured.
The frontal organisations had been asked to take active part in the membership drive and ensure that a sufficient number of the reserved categories were enrolled.
As per the party constitution, there is 33 per cent reservation for women and 20 per cent for the SC/ST/OBC/minorities in the organisational committees.
Ladakh Buddhists seek probe into Turtuk arms haul
NEW DELHI, Nov 8 (PTI) A delegation of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (youth wing) today met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and submitted a memorandum urging him to order a CBI probe into the arms recovery in the Turtuk (Hanifuddin) sector recently as it might have a serious bearing on the national security.
An 11-member team led by Mr Lobzang Nyantak alleged that a special police team sent by the Jammu and Kashmir Government was more interested in hushing up the case rather than probing into it.
For the first time
a large cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition was
unearthed from the Turtuk sector of Ladakh in which some
persons were arrested. Since the police team from Kashmir
is only hushing the case, it would be in the national
interest to get the matter probed by the CBI, the
Mother Teresas "sainthood not discussed with Pope"
NEW DELHI, Nov 8 (UNI) Sister Nirmala, the head of the Missionaries of Charity, today said canonisation of Mother Teresa would take place in Gods own time".
Asked whether beautification of the late Nobel Laureate was discussed during the visit of Pope John Paul II to India, Sister Nirmala answered in the negative at a press conference here today which was attended by president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India. Archbishop Alan de Lastic was present.
Replying to a question, she said they were not disappointed and the work at the Calcutta-based mission was going on in full swing.
Regarding miracles, she said, "they are still being examined." About the reference to Mother Teresa in the Popes high mass yesterday, Sister Nirmala and Archbishop de Lastic said the Mother lived the life of love preached by Christ. She was full of love for the poorest of the poor.
|5 drowned as boat
HYDERABAD: Five farm labourers, including three women were drowned when their boat capsized in Ramannapadu reservoir in Mahaboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh on Sunday, the police said. The mishap occurred when the labourers, all from Gurlakhandoddi village, were crossing the reservoir to go to Kottapali after harvest of paddy. PTI
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