|Thursday, March 2, 2000,
Government denies report
Pak charged with LoC violations
Lawyers threaten to intensify stir
Russian delegation seeks
mercy for Purulia convicts
Indo-French joint exercise over
NEW DELHI, March 1 (PTI) The Government today denied the possibility of a mid-air collision during the combined Air Force-Navy flypast at this years Republic Day parade attended by the President, the Prime Minister and other dignitaries and said necessary fine-tuning would be done for such shows in future to cater to contingencies.
Though the two (Air Force and Navy) formations were in close proximity of each other, both were well aware of the air situation and at no stage was there a danger of a mid-air collision, Defence Minister George Fernandes told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
He said since flight safety was not compromised and adequate action to ensure safety had been taken, a full-fledged inquiry was not considered necessary.
However, investigations revealed that since the formation of three long-range TU-142 surveillance aircraft of the Navy was a fraction of a minute early it had to gain height to create a vertical separation between it and the IL-76 formation of the Air Force which also had two AN-32 and Dornier transport planes each in it.
The naval formation had taken off from Arakonam base in Tamil Nadu.
The Minister explained that both formations were to fly together with the TU aircraft formation travelling 32 seconds behind the IL-76 formation.
However, as informed by the Navy, due to constraints of manoeuvring such large aircraft in formation, the naval planes arrived at the orbit point of departure over Jhajjar in Haryana a fraction of a minute early, Mr Fernandes said.
To offset the effect of leaving early, the TU formation reduced speed to the minimum acceptable limit.
But this itself was not found adequate and, therefore, the TU formation correctly gained height to create vertical separation between the two formations, the minister said.
He said suitable assistance was provided to the two formations on the radio-telephone by flypast control to control the situation.
NEW DELHI, March 1 (PTI) Rejecting Pakistans allegation that New Delhi was escalating tension along the Line of Control, India today accused Islamabad of repeated violations of the LoC to invite international attention.
We have no reason to generate tension on the LoC, a Foreign Office spokesman told reporters when his attention was drawn to the sharp reaction from Pakistan to India lodging a strong protest over the violation of the LoC in Naushera on Sunday by Pakistani forces in which seven Indian soldiers, including an officer, were killed in a barbarous attack.
Deputy High Commissioner of Pakistan Akbar Zeb, who was summoned to the External Affairs Ministry here yesterday, had claimed that India had sent additional forces along the LoC with the intention to escalate tension. The spokesman said Indias objective had always been to have a regime of peace and tranquillity on the LoC.
New Delhi has asked Pakistan to desist from such violations and to respect at all times the LoC established under the Simla Agreement.
India has charged that Pakistans activities and statements were clearly intended with the cynical purpose of attracting international attention.
shops lose appeal
NEW DELHI, March 1 Popular ration shops, which till now helped the salaried class cushion their monthly budgets, have lost their meaning after the announcement of the Budget proposals for 2000-01.
According to the announcements made by the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, in his budget speech yesterday, sugar will no more be made available under the public distribution system (PDS) for income tax assesses.
As for the other items available in ration shops, especially wheat and rice, they would be priced at par with the economic cost incurred by the government.
In other words, wheat and rice, would be available at virtually the open market price or even more as the procurement of wheat and rice by Government agencies incur high costs on storage, handling and transport. Thousands of tonnes of wheat and rice are also wasted due to vagaries of weather and inadequate storage facilities.
The economic cost of wheat is estimated at Rs 8400 per tonne which works out to Rs 8.40 per kg, which is higher than what is available in the local market.
Similarly in the case of rice, the economic cost works out to Rs 11,780 per tonne or Rs 5.89 per kg, which is also high.
Explaining the rationale behind the proposal, the minister said major subsidies on food and fertiliser, constituted a significant portion of non plan expenditure and the rate at which these subsidy payments were growing was not sustainable.
The Finance Secretary, Mr P.G. Mankad, explained today that while consumer above the poverty line (APL) would have to pay more, families living below the poverty line (BPL) would benefit from the new policy.
Accordingly, from next year, the allocation of foodgrains to BPL families under the targeted PDS is being increased from 10 kg to 20 kg.
Though the quantity has been increased for the BPL families, they would still have to pay more. While in the case of sugar it has been fixed at Rs 13 per kg, wheat and rice would be available at 50 per cent of the economic cost.
Wheat, which is now available at around Rs 2 per kg for BPL families would be available at Rs 4.20 per kg.
In the case of rice, which is now available at Rs 3.50 per kg, it would be available at a higher price of Rs 5.89 per kg.
Though the price of commodities has gone up for BPL, it is estimated that the doubling of quota would have a positive impact on the overall food budget of a family. It is expected that a family would save Rs 30 per month as a result of the increased availability of foodgrains under the PDS.
The subsidy bill for BPL families would go up to Rs 7457 crore from the present Rs 5200 crore while the subsidy for APL would come to around Rs 2360 crore. The government would, however, save Rs 1400 crore as transportation costs of commodities for APL consumer.
The Secretary for
Economic Affairs, Dr E.A.S. Sarma, said the Ministry of
Food had also set up a committee to study the efficiency
of the Food Corporation of India in procuring foodgrains
for the central pool. It is hoped that the economic costs
would come down in the future, he said.
NEW DELHI, March 1 (UNI, PTI) The lawyers agitation over the suspension of police officials responsible for last weeks crackdown took a nasty turn today with various Bar Councils accusing the government of being indecisive and responsible for spreading rumours.
We appear to be on threshold of a long-drawn war with the government, said Mr A.S. Chandioke, President, Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA). He was addressing a press conference here after some press reports suggested that the strike had been called off.
Mr Chandioke said the DHCBA would coordinate with various Bar Councils across the country and intensify the agitation. On March 6, lawyers will form a human chain at India Gate to press for their demand.
On February 24, nearly 12,000 lawyers, from all over India marched towards Parliament House to present a memorandum to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. More than 80 protesters were injured as police burst tear gas shells, fired rubber bullets and used water cannons to disburse them.
Mr Chandioke said the police action was brutal, unprovoked and illegal. He called for an inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act headed by a Sitting Judge of the Supreme Court or a Division Bench of the high court.
If the government does not suspend erring police officials, another demonstration of lawyers from all over India will be held outside Parliament police station on March 19, Mr Chandioke said. The government should suspend Deputy Commissioner of Police Pranab Nanda, Assistant Commissioners of Police T.S. Bhalla and Vijay Malik. Besides, Joint Commissioner R. K. Niyogi must be transferred he added.
Meanwhile, the eight-day old lawyers strike on Wednesday took a new turn with the Supreme Court issuing notice to the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) on a contempt application filed by a lawyer alleging the bodys appeal to lawyers not to appear in courts was a contemptuous act.
A three-Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice A S Anand, Mr Justice S. P. Bharucha and Mr Justice B. M. Kiripal, while issuing the notice to the BCD, asked it to file reply within 10 days.
The application filed by lawyer Kamini Jaiswal said the February 28 resolution by the BCD, which controls the lawyers practising in all courts in Delhi, asking them not to appear before any court amounted to a contemptuous act.
Assailing the BCD resolution, the application said it was directly against the Supreme Court ruling in common cause case whereby it had observed that the lawyers should not resort to strike at the first instance.
Mentioning the application before the Bench, Jaiswal said: I never had thought that appearing before a court will be construed as misconduct by the BCD.
CHENNAI: Agitating lawyers in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry on Wednesday decided to call off the boycott of courts from tomorrow following an assurance from Union Law Minister Ram Jethmalani that the controversial amendments to the Civil Procedure Code would not be notified until they are thoroughly discussed with the legal fraternity.
A decision to this effect was taken at an emergency meeting of the Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHA), held under the chairmanship of its President P Jayaraman.
Jayaraman said the decision followed a communication to the Bar Council of India (BCI) Chairman S K Kaarvendhan from Jethmalani yesterday stating that any changes in Advocates Act as well as the controversial CPC amendments will be fully discussed with the Bar before any amendments are enforced.
The lawyers have been
boycotting all courts, including the Madras High Court,
since February 14 protesting against the amendments to
the CPC, the proposed amendments to the Adovcates
Act and the proposal to permit foreign lawyers to
practice in the country.
NEW DELHI, March 1 (PTI) The CBI has filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court in the Priyadarshani Mattoo case challenging the verdict of a city court which let off the accused for want of sufficient evidence, agency sources said here today.
The appeal was filed in the high court yesterday and was likely to come for hearing soon, the sources said.
The move came after the agency scrutinised the documents in the case to ascertain whether the verdict deserved to be challenged in a higher court or the case itself needed to be reinvestigated, the sources said.
The CBI came in for severe criticism in Parliament during the winter session when members demanded resignation of its Director after a city court on December 3 acquitted Santosh Kumar Singh, son of a senior police officer, due to lack of evidence and pulled up the CBI for not acting in a fair manner.
The court gave benefit of doubt to Santosh for want of sufficient evidence in the case involving charges of rape and murder.
Concerned over its indictment by the court, the CBI was studying various possible lapses in the probe, the sources said.
In his first reaction after the court verdict, CBI Director R.K. Raghavan said he was studying possible lapses in the probe and it would be reopened if required.
Mr Raghavan hinted that the agency would reinvestigate the Mattoo case if the high court on appeal directed it to do so.
Meanwhile, the agency is also probing whether there were any deliberate lapses by the investigating team, the sources said and added an in-house probe was already on.
The issue had rocked the Lok Sabha when the Congress and the CPM sought the removal of Mr Raghavan in view of the CBIs indictment by the court and demanded a statement on the functioning of the premier investigating agency from Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
dismays former FMs
NEW DELHI, March 1 Four predecessors of Mr Yashwant Sinha in his North Block office of Union Finance Minister are unanimous on one observation: That Mr Sinha has failed the Budget test.
Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Dr Manmohan Singh, Prof Madhu Dandavate and Mr P. Chidambaram are unanimous that Mr Sinhas words do not match his deeds.
While Mr Sinhas immediate predecessor, the United Front governments Finance Minister, Mr P.Chidambaram, feels that there has been an abject failure in the matter of fiscal consolidation, Finance Ministers in Congress governments were of the opinion that the Union Budget was long on promises and short on delivery.
Mr Chidambaram maintained that that the revised estimate of 5.6 per cent fiscal deficit works out to almost 7.1 per cent under the old series and has predicted that the Government would find it difficult to curb the deficit to 5.1 per cent as there is likely to be a slippage of at least one to 1.5 percentage points. Under the old series this works out to 8.3 per cent.
He said, Mr Sinha should not have tinkered with direct taxes and criticised him for hiking the surcharge to 15 per cent on the highest bracket.
He felt the decision to reduce export benefits for exporters, increase in the distribution tax on dividend and interference with the minimum alternate tax regime would send wrong signals to income earners and businesses.
Former Finance Minister, Prof Madhu Dandavate, was of the opinion that the general Budget ignores the structure of cooperative federalism.
Referring to the President, Mr K.R. Narayanans Republic Day eve address where he said:our three way fast lane of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation must provide safe pedestrian crossings for the unempowered India also, so that it too can move towards equality of status and opportunity, Mr Dandavate felt that Mr Sinha has not made provisions for the unempowered poor.
The architect of Indias first generation reform, Dr Manmohan Singh opined that the budget was long on promises but short on performance.
Expressing serious concern over the mounting fiscal deficit he said Mr Sinha had no concrete proposal to achieve the estimated six per cent growth rate or schemes to check the decline in national savings rate or investments. Similarly, there was nothing concrete to check public expenditure.
Mr Pranab Mukherjee, who
was acclaimed as one of the best finance ministers of his
time, said Mr Sinha has attempted to do many things, but
has failed to control fiscal deficit, raise investment in
basic infrastructure, invest in poverty alleviation
programmes and offer anything to promote exports.
delegation seeks mercy for Purulia convicts
NEW DELHI, March 1 A visiting Russian parliamentary delegation has sought Indian governments help in getting mercy for the five ethnic Russians convicted by a court in Calcutta recently in the Purulia armsdrop case.
The Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr G.M.C. Balayogi, informed the 15-member Russian delegation, who called on him, that the matter relates to judiciary and the government was aware of the problem.
The Russian Parliamentary delegation led by the Chairman of the State Duma of Russian Federation, Mr Gennady N. Seleznev, called on the Lok Sabha Speaker here on Tuesday, a release said.
The Lok Sabha Speaker said the agreement on the setting up of an Indo-Russian Inter-Parliamentary Commission, signed during November 1998, had laid a strong foundation for parliamentary cooperation between the two countries.
Mr Balayogi said India
supported the steps taken by the Russian federation in
combating the threats it was currently facing in
Chechnya, Dagesten in the protection of its
constitutional order and territorial integrity.
NEW DELHI, March 1 Former Union Ministers Satish Sharma and Buta Singh denied today that they had any role in the alleged bribing of opposition MPs for defeating the July 28, 1993, no-confidence motion against the then Congress Government headed by Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao.
Maintaining that he was
innocent, Mr Satish Sharma told the trial court of
Additional Sessions Judge Ajit Bharihoke that the case
against him was part of a witch hunt against
him and his family which was still continuing. He did not
want to lead any evidence as no witness had deposed
against him, he said.
MUMBAI, March 1 (UNI) The calm at the Arabian Sea off the Goa coast is shattered as fighters swoop ripping apart the skies, naval guns boom and the horizon flares with missile fire marking the culmination of the month-long annual Springex followed by an Indo-French naval exercise.
The two-day Franco-Indian manoeuvres ended yesterday after the Indian Navy concluded the month-long Springex on Sunday, the biggest war game after the Kargil conflict aimed to review the combat capability of the Indian Navy. It was a visual treat as the booming naval guns zeroed on the target with desired accuracy.
The In-Fn-Passex, the fifth of Indo-French joint exercise, is described as one of the biggest ever joint exercises involving India and France to increase military-to-military cooperation. The interesting part of this joint exercise was the French fleet-carrier FS Foch leading the event.
The joint exercise
was meant to carry out air-defence and night-encounter
exercises, according to Vice Admiral Madhvendra
Singh, the Flag-Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western
Naval Command (WNC). The Sea-Harriers, which are an
integral part of ins Viraat, the Indian aircraft-carrier
currently under refit, also participated in the two-day
JAIPUR, March 1 (UNI) Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today reshuffled his 15-month-old Cabinet and made Home Minister Pradhyumna Singh the new Finance, Taxation and Excise Minister while effecting changes in the portfolios of nine other Cabinet colleagues. The strength of the ministry, with 18 Cabinet and 13 state ministers, has now gone down to 31, following the resignation of Mr Chandan Malvaid who had held the Finance, Taxation Excise and Indira Gandhi Canal departments.
Additional charge of Indira Gandhi Canal and Pariyojana Department has gone to another Cabinet Minister B.D. Kalla.
Relief and Rehabilitation Minister, Mr Gulab Singh Shaktawat will have additional charge of Home and the Anti-Corruption Bureau. Mr Shaktawat was relieved of the Cooperation Department which has gone to Law and Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Election Department Minister Khet Singh Rathore.
Public Health Engineering Minister Dr Rajendra Singh will also hold the Information and Public Relation Department with independent charge.
Energy, Alternative Sources of Energy and Soldier Welfare Minister Dr Chandrabhan will now have the additional charge of Industries and State Enterprises.
Mr Rajendra Choudhary has been entrusted with Health and Medical, Family Welfare (Independent charge) and Agriculture and Groundwater.
Panchayat Raj, Special Schemes Organisation and Integral
Rural Development Minister Dr C.P. Joshi has been given
additional charge of primary, secondary, colleges,
university and technical education.
IMPHAL, March 1 (UNI) A jumbo-sized ministry is likely to be sworn-in in Manipur at a simple function at Raj Bhawan tomorrow morning.
Chief Minister W. Nipamacha Singh told UNI here tonight that the post of Deputy Chief Minister, held by present incumbent L. Chandramani Singh, would be retained while all members of the former council of ministers would be accommodated besides some more from allies of the ruling coalition.
He indicated that besides the ruling MSCP and FPM, representatives from the MPP, RJD, NCP and JD (U) and an Independent might be inducted into the ministry.
As against the desire of Governor Ved Marwah to have a small ministry, Mr Nipamacha Singh indicated he would have to induct a few members into his council of ministers since he has to head a coalition government.
Ministry for Rs 60 hike in LPG
Life term for
BJYM yatra from
NSCN (K) ready
crushed to death
held in Delhi
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