|Friday, March 10, 2000,
flays economic policies
Cong to force discussion on RSS
BJP defends Gujarat
Revolt in Orissa Congress
Shias threaten immolation
Bill moved on tax devolution
Women scribes not getting
Kar Orissa Speaker
Indo-Nepal group on passports
PMs Mauritius visit from
NEW DELHI, March 9 The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will begin a three-day visit to Mauritius from tomorrow, during which the two countries are expected to further strengthen and intensify bilateral relations and plug the missing links in it by entering into agreements in fresh areas of cooperation.
Mr Vajpayee, who will be the chief guest at the Independence Day of Mauritius on March 12 the founding father of that country chose that day to coincide with Mahatma Gandhis Dandi March along with his counterpart there, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam will oversee the signing of four major agreements tomorrow evening.
The two countries would sign an agreement for the setting up of a Joint Trading Committee, which would meet periodically to review the trade between the two countries.
Cooperation in oceanography, where India would provide its expertise in the area to Mauritius, an agreement on coastal surveillance system for islands in and around Mauritius, and an agreement on IT would be the other highlights of the Prime Ministers visit.
Mr Vajpayee, who would be accompanied by the Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Ajit Panja, and the Minister of State for Small Industries, Ms Vasundhara Raje, apart from a large number of officials, is also scheduled to inaugurate an Indian Oil facility for aviation fuel.
The Prime Minister in an interview to the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation on the eve of his visit said the arrival of Indian Oil Corporation in Mauritius, signing of the four bilateral agreements, upgradation of equipment to further boost reception of Doordarshan programmes on Mauritian television, direct flights to Chennai and establishment of the World Hindi Secretariat at Port Lous were some of the new developments which would add new content and impart new dynamism to the multi-faceted cooperation of the two countries.
The acting Foreign Secretary and Secretary, East, Mr S.T. Devre, said Mr Vajpayee would also call on the Mauritius President, Mr Cassam Uteem, and meet other senior leaders during his visit.
Mr Vajpayees visit, the second in as many years, would help sustain the high-level exchanges and visits between India and Mauritius, he added.
The Indian Ocean island countrys 68 per cent population is of Indian origin (51 per cent Hindus and 17 per cent Muslims) and that countrys culture, diversity of language and religion is very similar to that of India.
The Prime Minister is also scheduled to inaugurate the Indira Gandhi Centre for Indian Culture, which has been built by the Mauritius with Indian help.
The small island country, which has a population of 1.2 million, has been a traditional friend of India and has been supporting the countrys stand on Jammu and Kashmir, nuclear disarmament and its stake for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.
CPM flays economic policies
NEW DELHI, March 9 (PTI) CPM General Secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet today lambasted Mr Vajpayee government for reducing subsidy on fertilisers, hiking PDS prices and going for privatisation in a big way saying "their policies would lead the country to economic disaster".
"They (BJP-led government) have spared none, farmers, poor and the working class in their Budget 2000-2001 and have succumbed before the diktats of World Bank and international Monetary Fund by adopting privatisation in a big way," Mr Surjeet said addressing a rally of trade union activists at the Ramlila Grounds here.
Condemning the government for carrying forward the liberalisation process in a most "anti-national" manner, he said a move was on to privatise all public sector banks and highly efficient profit making public sector undertakings, (PSUs) while closing down the sick units.
"The party (BJP) which claims to be more nationalist than any other party in the country is aggressively pursuing anti-people economic policies," the CPM leader said at the rally organised by the National Platform of Mass Organisations (NPMO). Subsidies on fertilisers have been curtailed and prices of rice, sugar, wheat supplied through the public distribution system have been enhanced against the interest of the common people, he said.
Referring to the RSS issue, he alleged that apart from the aggressive pursuit of the "anti-people" economic policies, the BJP-led government had further encouraged communal forces to disrupt the unity and integrity of the country through saffronisation of administration as well as educational, social and cultural institutions, which posed a threat to democracy.
Members of All India
Trade Union Congress (AITUC), Centre for Indian Trade
Unions (CITU), Hind Mazdoor Sabha, United Trade Union
Congress, United Trade Union Congress (LS), All India
Coordination Committee of Trade Unions and Trade Union
Coordination Centre participated in the rally, which
adopted a 23-point charter of demands and decided to go
on a nationwide strike on May 11 against the
"anti-people" economic policy
Cong to force discussion on
NEW DELHI, March 9 The decision of the Gujarat Government rescinding the order permitting its employees to take part in RSS activities notwithstanding, the Congress plans to carry on with the proposed discussion on the issue in the Lok Sabha.
"Though the steam is out, we would like to discuss, the Congress spokesman Mr Pranab Mukherjee said here today.
The partys strategy is to force the issue in a manner that the allies of the BJP have to take a stand on the matter since the discussion entails voting at the end. Knowing fully well that some of the constituents of the National Democratic Alliance are not willing to be seen along side the BJP when the matter comes to a crunch.
"If the motion (discussion under Rule 184) is carried then the mood of the House will be reflected. The House will take a position, Mr Mukherjee said, adding that after the debate the motion could also be defeated or not put to vote at all.
The Rajya Sabha has already discussed the issue and the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, replied to the debate.
Despite the clear numerical superiority of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, the opposition parties did not press for a discussion on the issue, which would require voting. Apparently, the strategy was not to force the government right at the start of the Budget session.
With the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, agreeing for a discussion on the censure motion, the House can take the RSS issue for discussion early next week.
Meanwhile, a day after the withdrawal of the controversial Gujarat Government order, the Lok Sabha continued to be rocked by the RSS issue today with the ruling NDA and the Samajwadi Party members locked in a verbal duel over who should be given the floor first to express their views.
As the House re-assembled after the lunch recess following two adjournments, presiding officer K. Yerran Naidu gave the floor to the Samajwadi Party leader, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav who had earlier insisted on being given a chance to speak on the ongoing activities and the role of the RSS.
No sooner had the Chair
called out Mr Yadavs name, Treasury Bench members,
including Mr Madan Lal Khurana, Mr Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Mr
Vaiko and some others were on their feet demanding they
be given the floor first instead of the Samajwadi Party
leader whom they accused, among others, of being
responsible for disrupting the proceedings of the house
for the past 10 days.
BJP defends Gujarat decision
NEW DELHI, March 9 (UNI) The BJP today vehemently defended the Gujarat Governments decision to withdraw the circular lifting the ban on government employees from participating in RSS activities.
Speaking to reporters here, the Party spokesman Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu said the matter was entirely a state subject. The Centre had not suggested that the said circular be "issued or rescinded." The Gujarat Government was "constitutionally and legally right" and had the power to issue or withdraw such a circular.
The Opposition, which was defeated in the Lok Sabha elections and also in the subsequent Assembly elections, including a number of byelections in various states, had no other issue on which to criticise the government. "They also have nothing positive to project on their performance. Therefore, they had been stalling the proceedings of the House all these days," he charged.
Asserting that both
Gujarat Government of Mr Keshubhai Patel and the NDA
Government, led by Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, were
"immensely popular," Mr Naidu said, "this
has "unnerved" the Congress and other
USA not to mediate on Kashmir
NEW DELHI, March 9 (PTI) The USA has no intention to mediate on the Kashmir issue but favoured an early resumption of a high-level dialogue between India and Pakistan to normalise ties, US Ambassador Richard Celeste said today.
"We have no intention to mediate but we feel both India and Pakistan should have a high-level dialogue" to improve ties, he told reporters.
Asked about US President Bill Clintons decision to have a brief stop-over in Islamabad at the end of his visit to India later this month, Mr Celeste said: "The President spending five days in India is very significant and something unprecedented whereas he is spending only a few hours in Pakistan."
Mr Clintons visit was mainly aimed at taking the Indo-US relations to a new level, he said, adding that during the visit the two sides were likely to come out with a "blueprint" for giving a fillip to bilateral relations.
Signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), missile technology and nuclear disarmament were among the issues expected to figure during Mr Clintons parleys with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, he said.
Stating that the USA and
India had agreed to jointly fight terrorism, Mr Celeste
said, "We want to give a clear signal that in the
fight against terrorism neither India nor the USA is
alone but we are together in combating the menace."
NON-utilisation of infrastructure and repair facilities at the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, forced the government to incur an additional expenditure of over Rs 122 crore over the years.
The Comptroller and Auditor-Generals Department, it its latest report, states that delay in construction of a new dry dock escalated its cost by Rs 58 crore, while improper planning and execution of works in some of the workshops led to the expenditure of over Rs 18 crore. Besides, under-utilisation of the dry dock facilities led to an additional expenditure of Rs 49.34 crore.
In addition, a master plan prepared for the modernisation and augmentation of repair facilities at the Naval Dockyard as far back as 1970 has not been approved so far, resulting in ad hoc creation of infrastructural facilities. As many as 83 work centres and workshops were created in this manner.
The construction of a new dry dock was sanctioned by the Ministry of Defence in 1985, at a cost of Rs 51 crore with completion scheduled in December ,1997.
This was revised in July, 1986, with the Ministry approving construction of a larger dry dock at a cost of Rs 68 crore. Further, consultants were engaged by the Ministry in October, 1988, at a cost of Rs 92 lakh for preparing a detailed project report, which was valid up to April, 1993.
In the meantime, Naval Headquarters proposed to shift the site of the new dry dock to Karwar where the countrys largest naval base was coming up and ordered that all works being executed at Mumbai be stopped. The proposal was turned down by the Ministry and works recommenced at Mumbai, which necessitated extension of the consultancy agreement up to April, 1997, at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore, besides upward revision of the project cost to Rs 123. 5 crore.
Till about a year ago, the physical progress of the works was only about 35 per cent. Work was slowed down by the contractor due to some dispute regarding payments. Meanwhile, the period of consultancy agreement expired, which was revalidated till April, 2000, at a cost of Rs 1.74 crore.
This apart, the Electroplating and Battery Repair Workshop, which was completed in 1995 after years of delay and commissioned in July, 1996, continues to remain non-operational because several defects continued to surface from time to time.
An amount of Rs 6.23 crore was spent to establish the workshop but this investment has been rendered totally unproductive.
Design deficiency, use of inferior quality material and poor workmanship were some of the factors held responsible for it. Besides, the plant also encountered frequent breakdowns due to leakage in tanks, failure of transloaders and short circuits in the control panel.
Moreover, deficient planning and coordination in the execution of civil works and the procurement of equipment in four other workshops has also been noticed. Investment of Rs 6.64 crore on civil works and Rs 5.53 crore on equipment did not yield results as equipment to be installed had either not been purchased or connected civil works had not been executed.
Non-utilisation of dry docks led to the hiring of similar facilities from commercial yards, involving an expenditure of over Rs 49 crore.
The review brought out that over a period of six years, five dry docks having multiple docking arrangements had 19,718 ship days available, but used only 15,945 ship days under utilisation by 19 per cent.
The non-availability was attributed by the Naval Dockyard to maintenance, non-availability of tide to facilitate use of dry docks and ships remaining in docks for longer periods.
This is despite the fact
that available ship days were fixed after providing for
various contingencies. Besides, keeping ships in docks
for longer periods indicated deficient planning and
execution of repair works.
Mumbai gears up for Clinton visit
MUMBAI, March 9 (UNI) Although there is no official confirmation of US President Bill Clintons visit to Mumbai, various government agencies and business associations here are gearing up in the hope that the eagerly awaited visit to the metropolis will materialise.
If Mr Clinton visits Mumbai, he will be the fourth US President to visit this metropolis after Mr Dwight D Eisenhower (1959), Mr Richard Nixon (1969), and Mr Jimmy Carter (1978).
Industry circles here are eagerly looking forward to Mr Clintons visit to India which, they feel, will boost bilateral trade and open up new areas of cooperation. "The visit will serve to strengthen the relations between the two biggest democracies and trading partners," a leading industrialist said.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh has written to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee regarding inclusion of visit to Mumbai in Mr Clintons itinerary. However, a final decision regarding this will be jointly taken by the US authorities, Prime Ministers Office (PMO) and the External Affairs Ministry.
Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, who also holds the home portfolio, said that though there was no official word on the US Presidents visit to Mumbai, all arrangements would be made for the security of Mr Clinton in case the visit comes through. "Full security will be provided by the state government to Mr Clinton in coordination with central agencies, he said.
Meanwhile, an advance team for the US Presidents visit arrived here from Hyderabad, the city on the itinerary of Mr Clinton and his high-level delegation, and spoke to state government and police officials. "The team was here for a day to discuss various arrangements," American consulate sources said and added that the details of the visit were yet to be finalised.
The team, before leaving for Delhi, held discussions on the places where the President would be staying in case he visits this financial capital of the country.
Not willing to be caught
napping If Mr Clinton chooses to visit the metropolis,
the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has started
operation facelift to give the city a clean look. The
road near the Bombay Stock Exchange the likely
stop for the US President was cleaned up
Revolt in Orissa Congress
BHUBANESWAR, March 9 (UNI) Former Chief Minister Hemananda Biswal and his supporters today revolted against pradesh Congress chief J.B. Patnaik, demanding his ouster.
The revolt came after the party nominated Mr Ramakanta Mishra, a Patnaik loyalist, as the Congress Legislature Party leader here today.
Mr Biswal, who held the post of the Chief Minister twice, besides that of the pradesh Congress chief and legislature party leader in the past, was tipped for the post.
The CLP which met here
on the Assembly premises, elected Mr Ramakanta Mishra
despite protests from some MLAs, who wanted a secret
voting to elect the leader, Mr Biswal said and held PCC
chief J.B. Patnaik squarely responsible for the
Shias threaten immolation
LUCKNOW, March 9 (UNI) The crisis over the shooting of the film "Gadar" at the famous Asifi Mosque here has deepened with Shia Muslim leaders threatening to immolate themselves if permission for shooting was not withdrawn.
The Shias, claiming the support of 40-odd social and religious organisations, said today the community was agitated over the attitude of the Lucknow district administration and warned of "serious consequences" if the Muslim sentiments against shooting at the imambara were not respected.
Bill moved on tax devolution
NEW DELHI, March 9 (PTI) The government today introduced in the Lok Sabha a Constitution amendment Bill, stipulating transfer of 29 per cent share of net tax proceeds to states for a five-year period.
The 89th Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2000, introduced in the House by Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha also seeks to bring several central taxes and duties like corporation tax and customs on a par with personal income tax for the purpose of sharing with the states.
The passage of the Bill would see transfer of 29 per cent of the Centres net revenue to states for the five-year period 1995-96 to 1999-2000 as recommended by the Tenth Finance Commission.
According to the
statement of objects and reasons, the amendment to the
89th Article of the Constitution has been necessitated by
the report of the Finance Commission, which suggested a
modified devolution package for states.
Women scribes not getting
NEW DELHI, March 9 Veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar today said that although prejudice against women journalists was beginning to wear off, it would take a lot of time before they found their place.
Mr Nayyar was speaking at a panel discussion on `Women journalists: writing with a different perspective. The discussion was inspired by the release of a book `Women Journalists: making news authored by Ammu Joseph.
Mr Nayyar said that women were not getting their due. He drew attention to the fact that top positions in newspaper offices were held by men and not women. ``Even today, I dont think, the prejudice has gone completely. It will take lots of years for male chauvinism to go. For higher positions, there is some kind of reservation if not prejudice. Take the leading national papers. You may find women associate editors, resident editors or news editors but not full editors.
Kar Orissa Speaker
BHUBANESWAR, March 9 (UNI) Former minister and senior Biju Janata Dal leader Sharat Kumar Kar will be formally elected as the new Speaker of the 12th Orissa Legislative Assembly tomorrow.
Assembly sources said Mr Kar, who served as the Minister for Culture, Information and Public Relations in the Biju Patnaik government during 1990-1995, was the only candidate who filed his nomination paper for the Speakers post.
Indo-Nepal group on passports
NEW DELHI, March 9 (PTI) The Indo-Nepal Joint Working Group (JWG) on Border Management has discussed the possibility of introducing a passport system, without the requirement of Visa, for identifying Indians and Nepali nationals travelling by air between the two countries, the Rajya Sabha was informed today.
In written reply, the
Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Ajit Kumar
Panja, said the third meeting of the Working Group held
between February 1 and 3, also agreed to scrutinise and
reduce the types of photo-identification documents till
such time as the modalities for the operationalisation of
this system were firmed up.
award for Indian professor
held for rape
125 kg of heroin
seized, 25 held
7 cops injured
in landmine blast
5 arrested in
Three of family
|| Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
| Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | In Spotlight |
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
| 119 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |