|Monday, May 1, 2000,
9 of 49 stores ravaged by fire
Drought, water crisis in MP
Scribes strike on May 8
Fewer visas for Pak
Pay dearness relief on full
Army Act outdated: SC
Six to die for sacrificing baby
Panel slams Labour Ministry
16 polluting units face
States hauled up for poor
Sikkim clubs govt depts to
Uma Bharti to go on fast
Book on Rajivs assassination
9 of 49 stores ravaged by
NEW DELHI, April 30 Even as troops were braced themselves for a major combing operation in and around the ordnance depot at Bharatpur to defuse unexploded and semi-exploded shells after Fridays fire, the Army today clarified that no wrong procedure had been adopted in storing ammunition at the site.
A senior Army officer here said the ammunition is kept on open plinths in summer and the distance between the shells was maintained as per norms.
According to reports reaching here small arms ammunition was kept in the open. A preliminary inquiry has suggested that the incident took place as result of dry grass catching fire. However, reports suggest that none of the plinths in which the small arms ammunition was stored caught fire initially.
A Defence Ministry official said nine columns of the army had been pressed into service to clear the area in the complex of unexploded shells.
Extra precaution was being taken in clearing the area of unexploded and semi-exploded shells as explosion of these shells could trigger further devastation by the left over ammunition.
Efforts were also underway to clear the area of the ammunition which had not been affected. For this experts had been called in and modern equipment was being made available.
Reports said the Amrys Para unit, which was moved in from Agra, had cleared part of the compound, spread over an area of 28 km.
Explosive experts might not be able to defuse unexploded shells within the depot itself and might have to carry these out of the compound.
The depot has 49 storage facilities of which nine have been completely destroyed.
The scorching sun, with the mercury touching nearly 45°C, is believed to have been a factor in triggering blasts.
The Army will be concentrating on the depot while the state administration has been asked to carry out combing operation in villages outside it.
Drought, water crisis in MP
BHOPAL, April 30 (UNI) Even as the drought situation in the Malwa-Nimar region of Madhya Pradesh has become "serious", other parts of the state continue to be in the grip of severe water scarcity.
Reports of tribals migrating from the Malwa-Nimar regions in search of employment have been received. With the ground-water level gradually declining, water supply remains affected in some parts of the state.
While irregular and mismanaged water supply has been the prime reason for scarcity, distribution of water has also been greatly affected by erratic supply of power.
Besides four districts of Malwa, including Dhar, Badwani, Khargone and Jhabua, some parts of Chhattisgarh region were also reported to be reeling under drought-like conditions.
The Mahakaushal, Vindhya and Gwalior-Chambal regions are simultaneously facing grim water problems. In the state capital, only 600 lakh gallons of water was being supplied as against the daily requirement of 750 lakh gallons.
A report from Indore said 1,254 of the 1,374 villages in Jhabua district were in the grip of drought. Several labourers had migrated in search of employment.
Of the 1,579 villages in Dhar district, 400 were facing drought while in Badwani and Khargone the number of drought affected villages numbered 559 and 930 respectively.
The 1,051 villages of Ratlam district were facing unprecedented water scarcity and the villagers had to travel long distances to fetch water. In Ratlam city, only 35 lakh gallons was being supplied against a daily requirement of 70 lakh gallons.
Looking into the grave water situation in Khargone city, water from the Dejala Dewada pond was released into the Kunda river and then supplied to the city. This had not elicited a positive response from the farmers as the water was earlier being used for irrigation.
Scribes strike on May 8
NEW DELHI, April 30 (UNI) The National Coordination Committee of the Newspaper and New Agencies Employees Unions today reiterated that the working journalists and other employees of newspapers and news agencies would go on all-India strike on May 8.
The coordination committee met here yesterday to review the countrywide demonstration on April 28 and the response of the state-level unions to its earlier calls for an action programme, including the proposed strike on May 8.
The committee congratulated the unions for showing determination to carry on the struggle against the newspaper managements conspiracy to sabotage the finalisation of the recommendations of the Manisana Singh Wage Board.
It also asked them to continue the tide of demonstrations with yet another all-India day of demonstrations, dharnas and meetings on May 4 to express their anger at the newspaper managements conspiracy.
The committee also condemned the attitude of the newspaper managements in blacking out reports about the countrywide demonstrations of newspaper and new agency employees on April 28, especially these held before the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) headquarters here.
Meanwhile, the delay in finalisation of reports of the wage boards for journalists and non-journalists of newspapers and news agencies has drawn flak from a Parliamentary Standing Committee.
"The committee fails to understand that even after a lapse of five years, the wage boards have not been able to finalise their reports", Parliaments Standing Committee on Labour and Welfare has said in its third report.
The committee said it was "constrained" to note that only 642 of the 1,1715 newspaper establishments in the country had fully implemented Bachhawat Wage Board recommendations for the newspaper industry even after a lapse of 15 years.
Since implementation of the recommendations is the responsibility of the state governments, it indicates "nothing but poor monitoring by the Central Government.
views this situation seriously and strongly recommends
that the states be persuaded vigorously to implement the
recommendations by the remaining newspaper establishments
fully", it added.
Fewer visas for Pak nationals
NEW DELHI, April 30 A Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs has suggested that the visa regime regulating Pakistani nationals visits to India be made "stringent, restrictive and based on 100 per cent pre-verification and on the principle of reciprocity.
In its latest report to Parliament, the Standing Committee took note of the unilateral relaxations extended to Pakistani nationals in order to facilitate greater people-to-people contact between the citizens of both India and Pakistan.
"It is, however, really unfortunate that the government of Pakistan has not made any reciprocal gestures in response to the unilateral friendly initiatives of the Government of India. In this context, it is also pertinent to mention that such relaxations have often been misused. This is precisely the reason why a large number of Pakistani nationals, after having entered the Indian territory, mysteriously disappear, the committee observed.
The committee said these Pakistani nationals were hard to trace due to biological and racial similarities.
"As a result of that they freely indulge in anti-India activities on Indian soil. A large number of them are even alleged to be the trained agents of the ISI, the committee said.
The committee concluded that in an effort to befriend a hostile neighbour the country should not put its own security in danger.
It said care should be taken to see that those who came from across the border did not become a threat to the security and integrity of India.
The Union Home Ministry clears visas for Pakistan nationals who apply under two categories of visitor and transit. The visitor visa is for Pak nationals who wish to visit their relatives, friends in India and bona fide Pakistan businessmen.
Initially, only four places were permitted to be invited during each visit. Later the number of places was increased to eight and then to 12.
Matrishree awards presented
NEW DELHI, April 30 (UNI) Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley today presented the 24th Matrishree awards to journalists and artists at a function here for their contribution to the media.
He also gave away Matrishree award-2000 to the Asian Age, (English), the Uttar Ujala (Hindi), Rashtriya Deepika (Malyalam), Mid-Day (Eve, Delhi), Gulab Bharat (weekly and Kala Netra Prikrama (agency).
Former Union Minister Madan Lal Khurana presided over the function.
In all, 30 journalists were given Matrishree awards. Hindi film Sarfarosh was also awarded the best feature film of the year.
The awardees were Ananth Narayanan (PTI, sports), Shashi Dhar Khan (Bhasha), Prakash Bhargava (UNI), Rajkumar Mishra (Univarta), Ram Narayan (Nav Bharat Times), Amitabh Agnihotri (Daily Aaj), Shridhar Kumar Swami (Hindustan Times), Rahul Chhabra (TOI), Prabhat Kumar (Photojournalist, PTI), S.K. Arneja (Photojournalist, Hindu), Jaychandra (cartoonist Outlook), M.A. Alamgir (UNI Urdu Service), Arvind Rituraj (Nav Bharat Times), Dhananjaya (Daily Hindustan), Kumar Rakesh (Rashtriya Sahara), Anil Chaturvedi (Janasatta), Ashok Plato (Punjab Kesri), Ravindra Singh (Jagbani), Rajneesh Kumar Sharma (Hind Samachar, Jalandhar) Ram Gopal Shukla (Daily Jagran) and Rama Singh (poet).
Jamini Shrivastava (AIR), Majhar Mahmud (producer TV) and Yogesh Goyal of ANI electronic media were also honoured on the occasion.
Speaking on the
occasion, Mr Jaitley said the media has been undergoing
changes with adoption of sophisticated technology. It had
expanded rapidly following introduction of Internet and
many DoT.com companies were providing information much
faster than even television and newspapers.
Pay dearness relief on full pension: SC
NEW DELHI, April 30 (UNI) The Supreme Court has directed the Central Government to pay within three months dearness relief on the full pension to its retired employees who had been absorbed in public sector undertakings on par with that of its current employees.
The direction was issued by a Division Bench comprising Mr Justice S. Saghir Ahmad and Mr Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, while disposing of writ petitions and applications of Mr P.V. Sundara Rajan and other retired employees who were absorbed in public sector undertakings.
"Directions in this regard have been issued by this court from time to time, but they are still being deprived of the benefit. We give to the authorities concerned a final opportunity to grant to them the benefit of dearness relief on the pension as aforesaid within a period of three months. Such employees will, however, be not entitled to any other benefit as claimed by them, the judges observed.
Army Act outdated: SC
NEW DELHI, April 30 (PTI) In a significant judgement, the Supreme Court has termed the law governing General Court Martials (GCM) in Army as archaic and criticised the government for not introducing changes in the Army Act keeping in mind those effected by other democracies.
"Even today the law relating to armed forces remain static requiring changes keeping in view the apex courts observations made in 1982, the constitutional mandate and the changes effected by other democratic countries," a three-judge Bench said, while delivering the judgement in an appeal against GCM proceedings.
"Time has come to allay the apprehension of all concerned that the system of trial by court martial was not the arch type of summary and arbitrary proceedings," the Bench comprising Mr Justice G.B. Pattanaik, Mr Justice R.P. Sethi and Mr Justice S.V. Patil said.
Referring to the 1982 judgement expressing concern over inadequacies in the Army Act, Mr Justice Sethi said "despite lapse of two decades neither Parliament nor the Central Government appears to have realised their constitutional obligations, as were expected by this court."
He said the only change carried out was the amendment of Rule 62 providing that after "recording the finding in each charge the GCM shall give brief reasons in support there of."
The three-judge Bench was examining the validity of a GCM proceeding where a judge-advocate was junior in rank to the accused.
Mr Justice Sethi said "judge-advocate though not forming a part of the court, yet being an integral part of it, is required to possess all such qualifications and be free from the disqualifications which relate to the appointment of an officer to the court-martial."
Upholding the contention of the accused Charanjit S. Gill, the Bench said "a judge-advocate appointed with the GCM should not be an officer of a rank lower than that of the officer facing trial unless the officer of such rank is not available and the opinion regarding unavailability is specifically recorded in the convening order."
Dismissing the appeal of the Union of India, the apex court upheld the Calcutta High Court judgement quashing the GCM proceedings against Gill. The high court had given liberty to Army to initiate fresh court-martial proceedings, if any, in accordance with law.
However, Mr Justice Sethi made it clear that this finding of the apex court would be applicable only in cases pending at present and future cases before courts and would not be applicable to judgements of GCM which have attained finality.
Six to die for sacrificing baby
NEW DELHI, April 30 (PTI) Six persons including two women have been sentenced to death by a Delhi court for sacrificing a 15-month-old baby at a ritual performed here 13 years ago for an issueless couple to beget a child.
Additional Sessions Judge (ASJ) R S Verma convicted Babulal, his wife Chaman, mother-in-law Sapila, Iqbal, Munir Bux and Sheikh Tab Khan saying prosecution had successfully proved its case beyond any "shadow of doubt".
According to the police, Babu Lal, his wife and mother-in-law at the advice of Sheikh Tab Khan, a Tantrik, had conspired with Iqbal and Munir and kidnapped Kavita to sacrifice her on the Dusehra night on October two, 1987 at Sultanpuri in West Delhi so that the couple could beget a child.
Describing the offence as "rarest of rare cases", the ASJ ordered that the convicts be hanged until death under Section 302 IPC (murder) subject to confirmation from the high court.
The court said the convicts would also undergo life imprisonment for criminal conspiracy, rigorous imprisonment for seven years for kidnapping and five years for destroying evidence.
The prosecution has successfully discharged its duty of proving the case beyond any shadow of doubt that the accused had hatched a criminal conspiracy to sacrifice the baby at a totka (superstitious ritual) for procuring a baby to Babulal and his wife Chaman, the court said.
The court said hatching of a criminal conspiracy to procure a child for doing totka, burning her body and throwing her in a water tank after killing was an "inhuman and cruel act" of the "rarest" kind.
It was a fire of hell
KASUDA (Bharatpur), April 30 (PTI) "Death was dancing over our head and it was like a fire of hell," said a weeping Ram Pyari, who returned to her village after fleeing following Fridays devastating fire at the ordnance depot, near here.
"I do not remember anything after shells whistled in our village and people started running helter-skelter," Pyari, who had lost her two cattle, said.
"I do not know where to find my cattle. These must have been stolen by somebody," she said.
"Some people have taken advantage of the situation and stolen our goods and household articles," said Sukhi Ram of nearby Mandawani village.
The village was burning even after 24 hours of the fire at the depot. Local fire officials said they were engaged in operations inside the depot and were not aware of the village blaze.
It was only yesterday afternoon that some villagers, who returned to their homes, approached the Army and were provided with a fire tender.
For 70-year-old Bijender, coming days will mean starvation as all his crop, which he had harvested recently and stored in a godown, was destroyed by the fire.
With tears in his eyes, he said "I am finished. I dont have anything left to sustain my family. We have to starve now. It would have been better if we had also been burnt."
Describing the scene as an "uncalled Diwali", another resident said the flames lept up following a deafening explosion and the area was engulfed by a thick blanket of smoke billowing from the depot.
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 due to mild tremors.
"But we soon realised that there were some explosions."
Panel slams Labour Ministry
NEW DELHI, April 30 (PTI) A Parliamentary Standing Committee has slammed the Labour Ministry for poor plan expenditure saying it was not convinced with the reasons given by the ministry for non-utilisation of funds.
"The ministry is lacking coordination with the states and its monitoring is not up to the mark," a report of the Standing Committee on Labour and Welfare said.
The report, tabled in Parliament, said though the ministry had improved expenditure in non-plan allocations, the plan expenditure was below 60 per cent and in some of the schemes it was much below 25 per cent "which is far from being satisfactory".
It said the reasons put forth by the ministry for non-utilisation of funds such as not getting the audited statement of accounts, utilisation certificates and inspected reports from district Child Labour Societies in time were not at all convincing to the committee.
The panel, headed by Mr Sushil Kumar Indora, recommended that the ministry should have a thorough monitoring over the Central as well as the Centrally-sponsored schemes.
It expected that in future it should not only ensure utilisation of funds allocated for various schemes during the same financial year, but devise effective steps to improve monitoring of the schemes.
The committee expressed serious concern over the plight of 75 million unorganised agricultural workers who "continue to be still dispersed and unorganised even after 50 years of Independence".
The report said that despite the committees recommendations, government had failed to provide an umbrella legislation for them.
It strongly recommended that the ministry should make vigorous efforts in right earnest to resolve the tangle among the states to get the consensus in the matter from all state governments.
This, it said, would help in bringing before Parliament a comprehensive legislation without further delay for providing social security and regulating conditions of service for agricultural workers.
The committee was "constrained" to note that there were 85 million handicapped in the country and only 17 vocational rehabilitation centres set up for them in 16 states. It said the number of these centres was quite inadequate to cater to their needs.
The committee also expressed serious concern over the miserable plight of the public sector employees whose statutory dues amounting to Rs 1800 crore have not been paid as a result of industrial sickness in the PSUs.
The committee also noted
with concern that despite a statutory provision for
constituting vigilance committees at the district and
sub-divisional levels to identify and release bonded
labours, it was not constituted in as many as 535
16 polluting units face prosecution
NEW DELHI, April 30 (PTI) The Delhi Government has launched prosecution against 16 polluting industries for allegedly discharging effluents into the Yamuna even as the Supreme Court came down heavily on the government expressing dissatisfaction over its inaction."The Delhi Government has launched prosecution against 16 polluting industries along the river and many more are likely to be booked soon in view of the Supreme Court order", special government counsel Baldev Malik told PTI.
He said of the 16 complaints filed in Tis Hazari, Patiala House and Karkardooma courts, cognisance had already been taken in six cases and the accused had been summoned by the area Metropolitan Magistrates.
industries, against which prosecution has been initiated,
are: Supreme Industries, Tomar Metal, Gold Star, Flora
Dying, New Maruti Dying, Sony Electroplating, Shiv Shakti
Dying, Diehard Electroplating, p.s. Cae, Pyare Lal and
Sons and Rajinder Zinc Works (filed in Tis Hazari
courts), Siya Ram Dying and Veena Dying (filed in Patiala
House courts), Santosh Auto Services, M.Y. Enterprises
and Recent Dying (in Karkardooma courts).
States hauled up for poor TB-control steps
NEW DELHI, April 30 (UNI) The states have been hauled up for poor implementation of the National TB Control Programme for which the Human Resource Development Ministry had earmarked Rs 105 crore for the financial year just ended.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee of the ministry in its report also pulls up the Health Ministry for not properly monitoring the programme . "The very fact that unspent balances are lying with the states indicates that the programme is not being successfully implemented, it says.
Although the percentage of new TB cases detected is 98, the committee observes that the achievement level of physical targets in other respects is not at all satisfactory.
An allocation of Rs 125 crore has been made for the national TB Control Programme in the budget estimates for 2000-2001. Under the programme, cash assistance is being provided to states/UTs for procurement of anti-TB drugs. The committee has been informed that the balance amount in a particular year is used by the states in subsequent years.
Funds have been earlier being released to states based on utilisation certificates of the previous year, but now it has been decided to release such funds based on utilisation certificates of the year previous to that as it will enable funds to be released earlier. The committee has come down heavily on this practice, describing it as an unhealthy trend which gives "indirect approval of states inability to furnish the utilisation certificate in the next year.
The committee has asked the department concerned in the Health Ministry to take up the issue with the state governments. Constraints, if any, being faced by the state governments should be identified and steps taken to remove the same.
Punjab Regiment martyrs
NEW DELHI, April 30 Thirteen widows and fathers of soldiers of the Punjab Regiment who laid down their lives in operations after 1947 were today honoured at a function here.
This was the third such ceremony held by the Punjab Regiment, the earlier ones being at Chandigarh and Jalandhar. Former Army chief Gen J.S. Aurora presented cheques to members of the families of martyrs.
Those honoured included Tek chand, father of Maj Pushpinder Vaid, Chandrarekha, widow of Capt Shamay Singh, Rupinder Waraich, widow of Maj S.P.S. Waraich, K.K. Bhuchar, father of Maj Deepender Bhuchar, Raj Aggarwal, widow of Maj K.K. Aggarwal, Pritam Kaur, widow of Hav Ramesh Kumar, Ishwar Kaur, widow of jawan Jagir Singh, Surinder Kaur, widow of jawan Inderjit Singh, Sumitra Devi, widow of jawan Satish Kumar and Rashmi, widow of jawan Prem Singh.
Four soldiers who were disabled in the 1962 operations were honoured and presented with cheques. The soldiers, now in their sixties, were jawan Sadhu Singh, jawan Surinder Singh, jawan Bakshish Singh and jawan Sher Singh.
Besides Gen Aurora,
other senior Punjab Regiment officers who attended the
function were Major-Gen S.K. Awasthi, GOC Delhi Area, who
also happens to be the Colonel of the regiment, Lt. Gen
Shankar Prasad, DG Infantry, and Brig Chand Puri, hero of
the Longewala battle.
Sikkim clubs govt depts to downsize admn
GANGTOK, April 30 (PTI) In its bid to downsize the administration, reduce expenditure and increase efficiency, the Sikkim Government has decided to amalgamate a couple of departments into one, bring a few others under one head and abolish redundant posts.
Under the new arrangement, which the state Cabinet approved recently, the Sikkim Nationalised Transport (SNT) and Motor Vehicle Departments would be amalgamated and named as Transport Department.
The states Women and Child Welfare Department would be merged with that of the Welfare and renamed as Social Welfare Department, official sources said here today.
Law, Labour and Parliamentary Affairs Departments would be put under one secretary and a similar method would be applied to the Information and Public Relations and Printing. One bureaucratic head has been proposed for Forest and Fisheries Departments.
Uma Bharti to go on fast
BHOPAL, April 30 (UNI) Former Union Minister and BJP MP Uma Bharti today said she would go ahead with her plans to sit on an indefinite fast against the retrenchment of daily wagers outside the Secretariat (Vallabh Bhavan) here from tomorrow.
Ms Bharti said she was,
however, ready to drop her plan if the widow of a
retrenched daily wager, who had recently committed
suicide in Bhopal expressed satisfaction over the
governments stand and requested her to do so.
Book on Rajivs assassination
CHENNAI, April 30 (UNI) A new book on the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi authored by former Harvard University Professor and Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy will be released at new Delhi on May 21.
The book titled
"The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi Unanswered
Questions and Unasked Queries and published
by Konarak Publishers draws heavily on official and
intelligence reports, Dr Swamy told reporters on Sunday.
children die of cholera in UP
8 killed in
4 die as Jeep,
Rapist gets 7
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