|N A T I O N|
Controversy rages as
Presidents book on Nehru
New Delhi: Former Diplomat A. K. Damodaran and Founder Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library B. R. Nanda releasing President K. R. Narayanan's book on "Nehru and his Vision" in New Delhi on Saturday. PTI photo
New twist to Bihars
Children hold peace march
NCP to work for new alternative
President urged to heed mercy
pleas in Rajiv case
Hindu scribe gets Deepalaya Award
UP CM assumes charge
130 rioters detained
Controversy rages as bodies rot
BHUBANESWAR, Nov 13 (PTI) As putrefying bodies roast in the sun in Orissas sea coast a fortnight after the super cyclone, a debate has been raging among political parties as to whether the catastrophe should be declared by the Centre as a calamity of rare severity.
Every time a VVIP speaks to the Press here, the newsmen demand to know whether the disaster should be declared as such, and at times, inquire why it had not been done so far.
Both the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Defence Minister George Fernandes, who heads the task-force set up by the Centre four days ago to coordinate relief work and plan rehabilitation of the survivors, have called for an end to the controversy asserting that there was no separate code for national calamity.
The Centre had been treating the disaster as a national calamity and funds would not be a constraint, the two leaders emphasised separately.
However, senior Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee did not agree.
Mr Mukherjee, a former Union Finance Minister, insisted that there was a provision for declaring a disaster as a national calamity of rare severity, a phrase coined by the Tenth Finance Commission.
Mr Fernandes said here yesterday that there was nothing called the national calamity code.
Mr Mukherjee told PTI here that in the past the Centre had declared cyclones in Andhra Pradesh, earthquakes in Latur in Maharashtra and Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh and floods in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar as national calamities of rare severity.
A total of Rs 1,150 crore had been spent from the national fund for calamity relief (NFCR), which had a corpus of Rs 750 crore, on different occasions and different years, he said.
Unfortunately, Mr Mukherjee said the Centre had made no provision for funds in the NFCR this year.
He suggested that funds should be provided in the NFCR for helping the hapless victims of the worst cyclone of the century either through supplementary Budget allocation or increasing the contingency fund by an ordinance.
Mr Mukherjee said the Centre should take initiative in arranging financial assistance from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) for reconstruction work in Orissa.
Since the World Bank loan had a maturity period of 50 years and carried a meagre interest rate of 0.75 per cent, it virtually came as a grant, he said, adding that the then Central Government had arranged such World Bank assistance.
The senior Congress leader said if the Centre declared the Orissa devastation as a calamity of rare severity it would impress the world organisation.
Mr Mukherjee said the Centre should also take initiative in arranging financial assistance from UN Relief Fund.
Mr Mukherjees view was supported by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh who said that the Central Government could manage to get Rs 1,100 crore of grant and soft loans for reconstruction of Latur only after the earthquake was declared a national calamity of rare severity.
Mr Digvijay Singh, who at present is a member of the National Calamity Committee, said five Chief Ministers were members of the committee by rotation of which the Union Agriculture Minister was the convenor.
The committee has to meet to recommend the declaration of the devastation as a national calamity of rare severity and it could be done on three days notice, he said.
A sum of Rs 450 crore of the Rs 650 crore the Centre has sanctioned for the cyclone devastated state has come as advance plan assistance which means nothing, Mr Digvijay Singh told newsmen here.
Mr Mukherjee said, "you cannot manage a state like Orissa, which is perpetually on overdraft, by giving advance plan assistance when no liquidity is available with the state government."
He said his party would raise the matter in the ensuing session of Parliament beginning on November 29 next.
An AICC delegation headed by Sonia Gandhi had already met the Prime Minister demanding declaration of the Orissa devastation as a national calamity. The party had also written a letter to the Central Government in this regard, Mr Mukherjee said.
Referring to complaints of mismanagement in relief work, Mr Mukherjee said instead of finding fault with the state government, efforts should be made for drawing up a comprehensive development plan for restoring and rebuilding the states economy.
Asked about the constitution of a task-force by the Centre headed by the Defence Minister, the Congress leader said if it was to coordinate the work of various ministries engaged in relief work, then there was nothing wrong.
But it should have no supervisory role over the state government agencies, he said.
Sonia to visit Orissa again
BHUBANESWAR, Nov 13 (UNI) Congress President Sonia Gandhi will again visit the cyclone-ravaged areas of the state on November 17.
Congress general secretary Pranab Mukherjee, who was here to review the relief operations, told UNI that Mrs Gandhi would discuss with the Chief Minister and other leaders about the problems being faced by the state in rescue and relief operations.
Presidents book on Nehru released
NEW DELHI, Nov 13 A collection of essays on Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, written by the President, Mr K R Narayanan, was released here today.
I am happy that the book is being released on the eve of Nehrus birth anniversary, Mr Narayanan said.
The book, Nehru and His Vision, is a collection of 12 essays written by Mr Narayanan, gives an insight and vision of the first Prime Minister of the country in building modern India.
I have not written a single word after I became the President. They are all old articles written over a period of time, Mr Narayanan said.
Mr B R Nanda, a noted historian and an biographer of Nehru, who released the book, said the book brings out the human being in Nehru as a person. This has been possible because of the long association Mr Narayanan had with Nehru.
He said the book bring out the vision Nehru had for India in the next half a century and the evolution of Indias foreign policy.
The economy planning on the socialist pattern which Nehru adopted for the country, Mr Nanda said was the best suited to the country and were in tune with those times.
The changes in the global economy during the 1970s and the failure of the country to keep pace with the times, has led many to criticise Nehru on the economic front, Mr Nanda said.
The non-aligned movement, the noted historian said, would have been the path chosen by Nehru even if there had not been two super powers.
He wanted India to have its own foreign policy and the country to decide its own destiny, Mr Nanda said.
Former diplomat Mr A K Damodaran said in the book Mr Narayanan recounts his long assocaition with Nehru. His portrait of Nehru is remarkably insightful, yet astonishingly candid.
Written in a language that sparkles with wit and a rare vitality, these essays present the multifaceted personality of the politician, the statesman, the philosopher and the visionary, all that Nehru was, he said.
In these essays, Mr Damodaran said Nehru emerges more as a humanist in Mr Narayanans reminiscences. The President draws upon the rich store of memories he has of his association with the great man, whom he describes with unusual sensitivity.
New twist to Bihars political scenario
PATNA, Nov 13 (UNI) The snapping of electoral ties between the ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress in Bihar is likely to give a new twist to the states political scenario for the coming Assembly elections.
Political observers here are of the opinion that the much-expected chasm will only make the states political scenario more complicated since only two forces pro and anti-Laloo Prasad Yadav were in action during the past two Lok Sabha elections in the state when the two parties entered into an electoral understanding before the 1998 Lok Sabha elections.
While the Congress, the CPM and the RJD were in an alliance with Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav as the leader, the erstwhile Janata Dal elements merged with the Samata Party to form the Janata Dal (United) and fought the recent Lok Sabha elections in association with the BJP.
Now the Congress, after deserting the RJD camp, may try to form a separate front in the state before the crucial Assembly elections, and the observers are keeping their fingers crossed as to whether the Left parties would join the RJD bandwagon or the Congress.
The CPM has an electoral understanding with the RJD and managed to open its account from the state this time after a drought since 1991 the Lok Sabha elections.
The CPI, however, remained out of any umbrella during the last Lok Sabha poll even as Mr Laloo Prasad Tadav campaigned in favour of the CPI candidate in the Nalanda Lok Sabha constituency from where Defence Minister George Fernandes was elected to the Lower House of Parliament.
The two Left parties will have to choose their alliance for the coming Assembly poll and the choice was expected to be very hard for their electoral future.
Even the support base of the political parties may undergo substantial changes in this caste-ridden state. Political observers have pointed out that a section of the people, supporting the BJP in the state, may change their loyalty now as the Congress was out of the alliance in the state.
Children hold peace march
NEW DELHI, Nov 13 (UNI) Hundreds of children, drawn from various schools, today walked around the central park of Connaught Place, emphasising the need for ironing out differences and conflicts among communities and nations to pave the way for development, co-existence and peace.
The marchers, under the banner of the Nehru Bal Samiti, carried banners and placards supporting the cause of democracy, culture of peace and tolerance. They also wore the UNESCO T-shirts bearing peace is in our hands and raised afloat the portrait of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi and other national leaders.
The walk was part of the 37th eight-day-long Nehru bal mela, to culminate on November 15 at the Talkatora Cricket Grounds, aimed at generating awareness on degradation of environment, illiteracy and the fallout of degeneration of value system.
Earlier, they assembled inside the park, held a meeting and sang patriotic songs, they recalled Pandit Nehrus famous words: In India, the first thing essential is the maintenance of the unity of the country, not merely political unity but a unity of the mind and the hearts.
While leading the walk alongwith samiti secretary and veteran Gandhian and freedom fighter S.P. Govil, UNESCO Chief Administrative Officer and Programme Officer for Culture, Prithiviraj Perera reminded that the UNESCOs International Decade for Peace (2000 to 2010) was aimed at establishing eternal value of peace, co-existence, co-operation and development, human dignity, love for human beings and environment.
The culture of war and violence should be changed into culture of peace, Mr Perera said adding that the media, non-governmental organisations and the intelligentsia could play a greater role in that direction.
While pleading for behavioural change in favour of clean environment and respect for human freedom and dignity, Mr Perera said his organisation had urged her 187-member countries to take steps to include in the school curricula a chapter on world peace, clean environment and values of tolerance and brotherhood.
Irrigated land in Rajasthan up for
JAIPUR: Unlike in the past, the Rajasthan governments contingency plan for facing the impending drought threat does not hinge entirely on funding from the Centre. The government has projected a requirement of Rs 1,144.40 crore from the Centre under the National Fund for Calamity Relief (NFCR). Last year, the Centre had provided Rs 21.98 crore against the projected requirement of Rs 960 crore in view of the Orissa cyclone and poor fiscal condition in other states, while the government of Mr Ashok Gehlot has routinely appealed to the Centre for funds, but at the same time it is also looking to other sources for tiding over the crisis.
Among the steps being initiated is a plan to sell land in the command area (CAD) of the Indira Gandhi Nahar and the Chambal project. Thus, one lakh hectare of irrigated land in Bikaner, Jaisalmer, Barmer and other areas covered by the Indira Gandhi Canal is likely to be put up for sale before the current financial year is out.
The Rajasthan Government is reeling under severe financial crisis. As against its annual expenditure projection ranging between Rs 15,000 crore and Rs 16,000 crore, the states earnings range around Rs 10,000 crore. The outgo on salaries and pensions and meeting debt servicing liabilities have taken the wind out of the sail of Rajasthans finances.
The government of Mr Ashok Gehlot has taken the unpleasant step of denying bonus to its staff this year. It has also reduced the retirement age of state government employees to 58 years as against 60 years in the aftermath of the Fifth Pay Commission. The states annual outgo on payment of salaries and pensions amounts to Rs 5,000 crore. Juxtaposed against the states annual plan size of Rs 5,022 crore, this amount is capable of doubling the development effort in the desert state if diverted away from salary and pensions.
The recent verdict in Punjab, where free electricity and water could not help the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal to retain its past glory in the Lok Sabha elections, is being cited by government economists in Jaipur. Among the steps they are contemplating for raising resources to fight the drought threat is effective recovery of costs for services provided. Thus, irrigation charges, power charges and roadways charges are likely to be hiked.
Other steps being mooted are reduction in establishment costs and better enforcement of existing levies.
Disposing of land available with the government, both rural and urban, is yet another component of the contingency plan. The land available with the command area development projects, especially in Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Barmer, is proposed to be disposed of under three schemes. The size of the holding will be one murabba which is equal to 25 bighas. Local residents of these districts will be offered land at Rs 1 lakh per bigha; outsiders will be entitled to buy the same land at Rs four lakh per bigha; and some prime land will be put up for auction, Rs four lakh per bigha being the floor price.
The reason for putting up these CAD lands for sale is also aimed at better utilisation of eight million acre feet (MAF) waters from Punjab and Haryana which flows into Rajasthan through the Indira Gandhi Canal at present, 0.5 MAF flows into Multan areas across the border in Pakistan because of underutilisation.
The total projection of the Rajasthan Government of funds needed for fighting the impending drought is of the tune of Rs 1,311 crore of which Rs 1,034 crore will be taken up by the need for providing relief employment. Cattle conservation will need another Rs 112 crore and better water facilities will need another Rs 165 crore. Of this, 1999 being the penultimate year of the Tenth Finance Commission allocations, only Rs 166 crore is available to the state under normal circumstances. Thus, getting over the shortfall of the projected requirement will mean the state mobilising Rs 1,145 crore and these funds will be needed to tide over the requirements beginning in January and spreading over to June, 2000.
Along with Punjab, Uttar
Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan is a
financially deficit state. Unless reforms are carried out
speedily and the mindset is changed regarding government
expenditure, the effect of the May 18, 1999 cyclonic
disturbance in the Arabian Sea may leave a bitter trail.
Phoolan Devi robbed at gunpoint
NEW DELHI, Nov 13 (PTI) Bandit Queen turned-politician Phoolan Devi had a first hand experience of the Capitals crime scene as she was robbed of her purse containing Rs 35,000 at gunpoint by three youths in South Delhi while on her way home last evening.
The Samajwadi Party MP from Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh was robbed in front of Deshbandhu College in the Kalkaji area while she was on her way home near Chitaranjan Park in South Delhi after an appointment with a doctor, the police said today.
She was in a TATA Sumo, accompanied by a legislator from Mirzapur and her driver Ram Lal. Near Deshbandhu College they saw a car parked in the middle of the road and three youths quarrelling with its driver, the police said.
The youths suddenly approached Phoolans vehicle and abused and thrashed the driver. One of them pulled out a revolver and snatched Phoolans purse they then fled on two motorcycles parked on the roadside.
NCP to work for new
NEW DELHI, Nov 13 The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which hopes to be recognised as a national political party soon, has promised to work towards strengthening a new political formation in the next millennium instead of any third front.
At the end of its two-day extended Working Committee meeting here today, the party felt that the current political system was facing a crisis of credibility and deliberated on how to solve the crisis of governibility and other issues.
Briefing the media on the two-day deliberations, party spokesman Devnendra Nath Dwivedi said the NCP took stock of the post-poll situation and concluded that of the two major political parties, the BJP had recorded a stunted growth and termed the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as an artificial conglomerate.
He said party chief Sharad Pawar observed that the Congress popularity had declined.
Mr Pawar said the people were looking for a new alternative and the NCP would work to strengthen it in new millennium instead of talking of a second or third front.
Mr Dwivedi said the NCP had fulfilled the criteria laid down by the Election Commission to qualify as a national party and it would soon be given that status.
"We are satisfied with the progress of our party which is barely 100 days old. It is an achievement although we could do well, Mr Dwivedi said.
The NCP, which was formed in June this year after falling out with the Congress over the issue of Ms Sonia Gandhis foreign origin, maintained there was no dilution in its stand on it.
Mr Pawar had told the meeting that the NCP would support any move by the NDA to bring about any law to prevent people of foreign origin to occupy high offices in the country like the President, Vice President and the Prime Minister.
However, the NCP felt that the results of the recent Lok Sabha elections had proved that people had given their verdict.
In the same breath, the party chief had explained the circumstances which led to the NCP joining hands with the Congress to form a coalition government in Maharashtra.
On the performance of the NDA government, the NCP said there was disquiet over the manner in which some fundamentalists tried to create problems during the Popes visit.
The NCP decided to setup a special task force to study the problems of minorities and draw up an agenda to address the grievances of the minorities.
The party also expressed concern over the developments in Uttar Pradesh, specially the manner in which the former Chief Minister went to Ayodhya.
President urged to heed mercy
CHENNAI, Nov 13 (PTI) The Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) today urged President K.R. Narayanan to commute the death sentence awarded to four persons in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case to life imprisonment.
"The President should consider the petitions of Nalini, Murugan, Perarivalan and Santhan sympathetically, the central administrative committee of the party, which met in Mayiladuthurai today, said in one of its resolutions.
Besides opposing privatisation of the insurance sector, other resolutions, which were released to the Press, said the proposed 33 per cent reservation for women should include SC and ST and other backward classes and demanded that the Maharashtra Government take appropriate steps on Justice Sri Krishna Commissions report.
The party also decided to organise a protest demonstration in Tiruvarur on April 1, 2000, insisting that all persons irrespective of their castes should be allowed to become temple priests.
Hindu scribe gets Deepalaya Award
NEW DELHI, Nov 13 (UNI) The inaugural Deepalaya Award for contribution to the field of child rights was today given to Ms Ramya Kannan of The Hindu.
The award carrying a cash prize of Rs. 21,000, a citation and a trophy was given to Ms Kannan for "her ability to address serious issues using simple language and statistics presenting a realistic picture of the worsening situation. It was given at a function here by Mr Justice P. K. Samsunder, Chairman of the National Commission for Backward Classes."
The award has been instituted by the city-based non-governmental organisation for slum children to sensitise the media towards developmental issues with particular reference to child rights.
The entries were judged by a select panel including Mr Justice Rajendra Sachar, Mr H K Dua, Mr Alok Mehta, Mr Pawan Kumar Verma, Ms Usha Rai, Mr Sanjoy Hazarika and Mr V K Madhavankutty.
UP CM assumes charge
LUCKNOW, Nov 13 (UNI) Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Ram Prakash Gupta today formally took charge of his office and started functioning as the head of the government.
He reached his Secretariat annexe office at 12.45 p.m. He had an introductory meeting with officers and employees of his office.
130 rioters detained
MUMBAI, Nov 13 (PTI) The riot-hit Raver town of Jalgaon district in north Maharashtra, which witnessed communal clashes in Thursday, is limping back to normal, a senior police official said today.
The police detained 130 persons and registered offences against 200 others for indulging in arson and stone-pelting.
The shops opened this
morning in the town where prohibitory orders had been
clamped. The trouble began over a trivial issue of a
person flicking cigarette ash on a youth leading to a
clash between two groups, the police said, adding that
two houses, four shops and four vehicles were set ablaze
DMK govts fate in Pondicherry sealed
CHENNAI, Nov 13 (UNI) The fate of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led coalition government in Pondicherry appears to be sealed with the political affairs committeee (PAC) of the Tamil Maanila Congress (TMC), which shares power with the DMK, describing the situation there as untenable.
Briefing reporters after a meeting, senior TMC leader and former Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said the PAC had arrived at the conclusion that the situation in Pondicherry was untenable.
Regional DD to air round the clock
CHENNAI, Nov 13 (UNI)
The regional channels of Doordarshan will have
programmes round the clock from January, 2000, with prime
time programmes, including high quality entertainment,
Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer Rajeeva Ratna Shah
Two held for molestation
NEW DELHI, Nov 13 Owner of Kamal restaurant Rakesh Dewan and a resident of New Friends Colony in South Delhi were arrested on charge of molestation in a beauty parlour.
The two went to Pelican Beauty Parlour in Rajauri Garden in West Delhi where they allegedly entered a ladies cabin and started molesting girls. When owner of the parlour objected they reportedly beat him up and damaged the parlour.
|Wild elephants kill 13 in
TEZPUR: A herd of wild elephants has killed about 13 persons in Rangapara and Tezpur areas and injured 12 during the past one month in Sonipur district of Assam, official sources said here on Saturday. The wild tuskers had terrorised the inhabitants of at leat 20 villages of the areas. Besides, Air Force personnel residing at Salonabari and Ghoramari areas had also been badly affected. UNI
30 pc heart patients can
reshuffle in Bihar
Times cartoon contest
HC orders German
national to leave
charred to death
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