|Sunday, April 30, 2000,
Price rise: IYC stir on May 2
Pak thinks India is weak: Advani
Fear of future haunts Bharatpur
Childs body found missing
Its fodder or wages for
misused calamity funds
Chadha to be checked by AIIMS
Price rise: IYC stir on May 2
NEW DELHI, April 29 The Indian Youth Congress today demanded an inquiry by a sitting judge of the Supreme Court into the Sankhya Vahini project.
Alleging corruption in high places, the Indian Youth Congress president, Mr Randeep Singh Surjewala, said, The BJP instead of fulfilling the promise of providing clean administration was taking action against those who highlighted corruption charges against the government.
He cited the removal of former Delhi Chief Minister and MP and BJPs Vice-President Madan Lal Khurana from the post after he opposed the Sankhya Vahini project.
The RSS and the domestic telecom manufacturers have been opposing the project alleging hanky-panky in the selection of the foreign partner and the purchase of equipment.
Sankhya Vahini will provide 10,000 km of connectivity in the first year covering the entire country in three years. The starting bandwidth will be in the range of 2.5 gbps which will go up to 40 gbps subsequently.
The country does not have a nationwide broadband data network for multimedia and internet activity in the country and the project is expected to meet the growing bandwidth demand in India.
Addressing a press conference here, Mr Surjewala said the IYC would hold a demonstration in the Capital on May 2 to protest against the Centres move to freeze employment and hike in prices of essential commodities, fertiliser and under the PDS scheme.
Mr Surjewala said senior Congress leaders would take part in the demonstration outside Parliament and the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi would raise the issue inside the House on that day.
Mrs Sonia Gandhis stand against the withdrawal of subsidies on fertilisers and foodgrains sold through the PDS had been vindicated as it found support even from a BJP leader, he said.
On price rise, the IYC chief said diesel prices had been increased from Rs 10 to Rs 14 and had led to all-round inflation.
Increase in kerosene prices from Rs 4 to Rs 5 and reduction in its quota by 20 per cent, as also the doubling of milk prices in Delhi had hit the poor and the middle-class hard, he said.
Cost of agriculture has gone up substantially due to increase in prices of urea by 15 per cent and DAP by 7 per cent.
Prices of food items
sold through the PDs have been increased by 150 per cent.
Increase in prices of input without
commensurate increase in minimum support prices has
virtually ruined the farmer, Mr Surjewala
Pak thinks India is weak: Advani
NEW DELHI, April 29 (PTI) Home Minister L. K. Advani said today that there was unimpeachable evidence of Pakistan establishing covert network in different parts of India to balkanise this country by exploiting what it perceived to be its communal, social, ethnic and linguistic fault lines.
"Unable to achieve its nefarious political objectives in successive wars, the Pakistani rulers seem to cling to the comforting belief that India is inherently unstable and what they could not achieve through open aggression, they could achieve through terrorism and aggression", Mr Advani said while addressing intelligence chiefs conference on the activities of the ISI.
Pakistan has made it a matter of state policy to export terrorism across the border into India to achieve its political objectives. What was worse, it was misusing religion for this inhuman campagin, he said adding that there were few parallels in the world to such a dangerous approach.
Fear of future haunts Bharatpur
BHARATPUR, April 29 (PTI) Reality is yet to sink in among the 2000-odd villagers of Kasauda who had a narrow escape from the clutches of the devastating fire which blew up a major part of the Army ammunition depot here.
Sheela, who left her home yesterday after the evacuation orders were given, returned today only to find that her cattle, her only means of livelihood, was no where to be found.
"What will I do now? How will I support myself and my family?" the helpless Sheela said.
But for the 70-year-old Bijender, another villager, the coming times will mean starvation as all his crop which he harvested recently and stored in the godown was destroyed by the fire.
With tears in his eyes, Bijender said, "I am finished. I dont have anything left to sustain my family. We have to starve now. It would have been better had we also been burnt with it."
Describing the scene as "uncalled Divali", another Kasauda resident said the flames leapt up following a deafening explosion and the area was engulfed by a thick blanket of smoke billowing from the depot after the fire broke out around 3 p.m. and spread to the southern direction.
The bird sanctuary town wore a deserted look by midnight as most of the locals from nearby villages left their homes and hearth to find shelter at safer places.
Whereas something was saved in Kasauda village as fire was controlled by late night itself, in Mandawani the fire continued till early morning today destroying every little asset there was in nearly 400 hamlets.
Mahara Singh, a class IX student, who took his last exam yesterday and was playing cricket when he felt some movement below the ground, thought it was because of mild tremors, but soon came the realisation that there were some explosions which rocked the area.
Mahara Singh, who also fled the place along with his parents, said the fire had destroyed all his books and his parents cannot afford a new set of books for him.
Bombs land up with scrap
SRIGANGANAGAR: For several years, bombs belonging to the Indian Army and other forces have been finding their way to civilian areas in Rajasthan and Punjab.
According to information gathered by this correspondent, about 35 persons lost their lives in about 40 blasts of bombs in civilian areas in the past six years. These bombs found their way to civilian areas from different ammunition depots of military station and firing ranges of Punjab and Rajasthan.
In the last week of March, some children found eight smokebombs in pit while playing in this city. The bombs were handed over to the Army authorities.
In the first week of March, 26 live mortar shells were found near Jandwalamirsangla village, 2 km from the Indo-Pak border in Ferozepore district. The bombs belonged to the Army and were manufactured in 1992. Three of the bombs were defused by the Army.
On January 11, an explosion in a junk shop here claimed five lives, all rag-pickers. The blast took place when the junk dealer hit it with hammer to extract metal from the live shell reportedly lifted from the Cantonment area by the rag-pickers. The next day, a child playing in Kachi colony in front of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant here found a hand grenade lying on the heap of debris.
Four persons were killed in a blast in the shop of scrap dealer in this district in January 1997. The blast was carried by an Army bomb which found its way to the scrap dealers shop. The Army authorities later defused five live bombs lying in the shop after the blast.
The police sources said live bombs and other ammunition had reached junk shops from the firing ranges of military through rag-pickers. The police said during the firing practice, some bombs and other ammunition remain unused and soon it reached scrap dealers.
Reeling under abject poverty, the rag-pickers used to enter the firing ranges at the risk of their lives to pick up material from these sites to extract metal.
However, the security forces were concerned about those incidents, where the bombs had found their way to the junk shop from the cantonments where there was no firing range.
Apart from bombs, items exclusively meant for the Army personnel had scrap dealers. The police has seized such items from junk shops or lying abandoned in civilian areas.
Childs body found missing
SRIGANGANAGAR, April 29 The case of rape allegedly committed by Swami Anantananda, Head of Vivek Ashram, a social organisation which runs a school for the deaf and dumb, has taken a new turn with the body of the child delivered by the rape victim, an inmate of the ashram, found missing from the cremation ground.
Police sources said after the alleged rape, the victim, a teenaged deaf and dumb girl, delivered a body on March 18, 2000, who died after a few days. The body of the child was buried.
A police investigation team found the body of the child missing from the cremation ground. The body was to be exhumed for DNA tests to establish the childs paternity.
Swami Anantananda was booked in a rape case under Section 376 and Section 3 of the Atrocities on Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Act on the complaint of Mr Shiv Kumar, husband of the victim.
The victim had alleged that she had been repeatedly raped by Swami Anantananda as a result of which she had delivered a child just after four months of her marriage.
Mr Vishal Bansal, ASP, when contacted said the police found an umbilical cord from the site where the child was buried. He said the same would be sent for DNA tests.
He said the accused had not been arrested so far as investigations into the case being conducted by a special team of the CID (crime branch) from Jaipur were not yet complete.
The police had made adequate arrangements for the security of the victim and her husband.
Mr Shiv Kumar in his complaint had alleged that when he reported the matter to persons known to the accused, he was offered a bribe in the presence of a police officer. He was threatened that he would be implicated in a case if he continued to pursue the matter.
Its fodder or wages for drought-hit
AIWAL (Gujarat), April 29 (IANS) Thursday, the ninth day of Aasadh Sud month of the Indian calendar year 2051. House owner: Vela Hamir Rabari.
The scribble on the wall and a big lock on the entrance of the house stares you in the face. The occupants are missing. The last village on this side of the India-Pakistan border wears a desolate look. In normal days the villagers would have been enjoying the subcontinental luxury of an afternoon siesta. But these are difficult days. Shortage of food for the family and of fodder and water for the cattle has forced them to migrate to the greener southern Gujarat.
Vela Hamirs neighbour Maganbhai Rabari too had migrated, but he came back after failing to find meaningful employment in Saurashtra. His family is surviving on meagre savings and the small money womenfolk make by embroidering. "We are surviving, but our cattle are gone. We have given them to panjra pole (cattle pound) as we could not feed them," Rabari says, trying to wipe his tears.
Formerly part of Banaskantha district, the Radhanpur and Santalpur areas became part of Patan during the district reorganisation. Dry and desolate desert, these areas are inhabited mostly by pastoral and agrarian folk, totalling about three million. Radhanpur town is lucky to get water supply fours days a week, half-an-hour to an hour a day. Several villages of these two areas benefit from the 125-km pipeline laid with the help of the Netherlands.
Meanwhile crop failure has made life miserable in the villages. Most of them are dependent on the relief works initiated by the government. But even there the local officials are ignoring government directives. While government orders say the relief workers shall be paid daily, passbooks of several workers reveal that the last payment was made on March 30, and they were unlikely to get wages until the end of April.
Even the money paid is inadequate. A labourer can earn up to Rs 40 a day, but almost none gets that amount as the local officials argue that they have not done enough work by the end of the day.
Isha Pancha, a worker engaged in digging a pond at Korda village in Santalpur, says "We break our backs in this scorching heat...we dig when none dares to venture out in the sun and at the end of the day we are told we have not done enough. It is inhuman. What do they (officials) expect of us? Do they want us to die in these pits?"
According to entries in Panchas book, he and his four co-workers were last paid on March 30. "Only bajra (a kind of millet that is the staple diet of the people in the region) is possible with this kind of money. We have to make do with onion and salt, we cant afford any vegetable," says Savsi Samant, whose team of six persons was paid Rs 768 as wages for six days of toil in the sun.
These villagers, who have opted to stay back along with their cattle, have been sucked into a vicious circle. The state government has made arrangements for fodder distribution for the animals. Voluntary agencies like the Self-Employed Womens Association (SEWA), too, have been involved in its distribution, but orders to run these centres like government departments are defeating the very purpose for which they are opened.
The distribution centres function five days a week, 10 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. They remain closed on holidays despite the total dependence of locals on these centres for fodder. The result is near-chaos, as it happened at the Santalpur Secondary School centre on Monday.
Mumtaz Bano, SEWA centre coordinator, says, "We have been asked to run these centres five days a week, 10 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Last Friday was a government holiday, then came Saturday and Sunday. Naturally on Monday there will be a huge crowd."
Not everybody gets fodder despite waiting in a queue for a day. And this puts the people, particularly women, in deep trouble. Says Jammuben Khegabhai of Madhutada village, who has come to Santalpur centre to collect fodder, "I have come here leaving behind two children. I came here early in the morning so that my turn comes by late evening. Besides, fodder distribution days clash with relief work days. Since I am here, today I will lose my wages for the day."
According to these people, the delay apart, the quantity of fodder distributed is grossly inadequate. Says Khengarbhai Solanki of Piprala village, "We get one or two bundles of 80 kg of fodder for every five animals once in 15 days. Do you think cows and buffaloes can survive on this meagre supply?"
Volunteers from SEWA plead helplessness. They can distribute only that which is made available to them, they say. Besides, they have to send a daily report to the local official by 5 p.m. sharp. From there the figure travels to district chiefs office and then to Gandhinagar.
"The government daily claims that so much fodder has been distributed," says Dalabhai Ramabhai Ahir of Baveda village. "But does it say how many people went without fodder and how many people lost the opportunity to work in the relief works and earn some money in these troubled times?"
The availability of relief work itself is a strange story. The nearest relief work in progress is 8 km from Baveda. Says Ahir, "To reach there I have to spend at least Rs. 10 a day, and what do I earn?"
"Brother, I have to drink at least two bottles of water on my way to the site," Ahir adds.
People are caught
between the devil and the deep blue sea in this border
district of northern Gujarat. If they go to work they
miss fodder, and if they go to collect fodder they lose
wages. Cattle are already dying. One can only hope that
humans, too, do not meet the same fate.
Rajasthan misused calamity funds
JAIPUR, April 29 (PTI) The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has pointed out gross irregularities in Rajasthan in maintenance and spending of the Calamity Relief Fund (CRF), created to ensure availability of money to combat natural calamities.
Contributions received from the Centre and the state government were not credited to CRF but kept in the state accounts to shore up its cash balance, a CAG report tabled in the Assembly early this week said.
The delay in crediting contributions to CRF resulted in a loss of Rs 44.40 crore while another loss of Rs 35.93 crore in interest resulted as the state government invested only Rs 5.2 crore of Rs 97.85 crore in the manner prescribed by the Centre between 1991 and 1999.
It kept Rs 299.46 crore in non-interest bearing personal deposit accounts and government accounts in contravention of guidelines, the report said.
Pointing out irregularities in spending of CRF money, it said the state government has spent Rs 10.38 crore during 1990-1998 against the norms fixed by the Centre.
It waived recovery of interest amounting to Rs 21.06 lakh and failed to recover over Rs 37.90 lakh irregularly paid to the Rajasthan Tribal Area Development Cooperative Federation and other agencies.
The report revealed that works worth Rs 2.77 crore were executed by mechanical means or through contractors depriving famine-stricken people of meaningful employment.
The test check of records showed the Banswara collector adjusted Rs 4.51 crore against abstract contingent bills unsupported by any voucher, making the expenditure suspect.
Similarly, Rs 44.39 lakh drawn on abstract contingent bills by the Bhilwara collector during 1987-97 and credited in the personal deposit account of the District Rural Development Agency remained unutilised.
The report found that
expenditure of Rs 13.19 lakh was incurred on 30 works
taken up in 27 villages not affected by famine and Rs
46.34 lakh were spent during 1992-96 on 20 works not
covered by state government guidelines.
Chadha to be checked by AIIMS panel
NEW DELHI, April 29 (PTI) Bofors pay-off case accused Win Chadha was today asked to undergo a medical check-up at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) by a designated court here as he sought leave to go back to Dubai for treatment of his ailments.
Special Judge Ajit Bharihoke asked Mr Chadha, accused of receiving a part of the kickback money, to appear before a panel of doctors at AIIMS on May 1 and said he would decide on his application only after perusing the experts report.
The order was issued in the wake of submissions made by Special Prosecutor N. Natarajan that demanding that a panel of doctors of AIIMS give their opinion on whether Mr Chadha could be treated for his ailments in India.
Mr Chadhas counsel Gopal Subramaniam submitted that his client was suffering from various ailments like hypertension, diabetes and heart disease and should be allowed to go back to Dubai for his treatments by his regular consultants.
Mr Subramaniam said since the trial was likely to take some time, Mr Chadha should be allowed to appear before the court through his counsel unless his personal appearance was very necessary.
Suspecting the bona fide of his application, Mr Natarajan said Mr Chadha did not come to the court on his own and should not be allowed to go back to Dubai.
Mr Chadha, who was granted bail by the court on March 21 on furnishing a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh and a surety of the like amount, also sought courts direction to the CBI to return his passport.
asked to pay dead undertrials kin
Five killed in
appeal rejected by HC
3 killed in
3 Khasi student
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