|Sunday, May 21, 2000,
Demand for new states in Bengal
in next session: Marandi
An oasis in region hit by drought
Panel submits report on Prasar
12 killed in Tripura violence,
Trinamool-BJP reach pact
Manmohan backs Sonias
Birla Foundation raises stipends
Master dies saving dog
Demand for new states in Bengal
DARJEELING, May 20 (UNI) The Centres decision to create Jharkhand, Uttaranchal and Chattisgarh has given a fillip to the agitation for separate states of Kamtapur and Gorkhaland in north Bengal.
Notwithstanding the stalling of the states reorganisation bills in the just-concluded Budget session of Parliament, both the Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF) and the Kamtapur Peoples Party (KPP) have renewed their respective demands for separate homelands.
While the KPP and the All Kamtapur Students Union (AKSU), protagonists of a separate state for Rajbanshis, observed a 24-hour strike on Thursday, the GNLF has announced to resume its agitation for Gorkhaland with a strike on May 22. The GNLF leaders have maintained that this would be just the first phase of the renewed agitation.
The Nepali-speaking Gorkhas want a separate Gorkhaland to be carved out of the three hill sub-divisions of Darjeeling district and its adjoining eastern Dooars region in the plains of North Bengal.
The Kamtapuris have been demanding a separate state of Kamtapur comprising parts of Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, and the plains of Darjeeling district.
On Wednesday, leaders of the GNLF, who had given up the Gorkhaland demand after signing the Darjeeling Hill Accord on August 22,1988, had decided to revive the issue at a meeting at the Darjeeling Tourist Lodge, the very place where they had agreed to accept the Hill Council in place of Gorkhaland.
In a bid to prevent the
GNLF from taking the credit for being the only party
fighting for Gorkhaland, the Gorkhaland United Front
(GUF), a three-party alliance comprising the breakaway
hill Marxists the Communist Party of Revolutionary
Marxists (CPRM), the All-India Gorkha League (ABGL) and
the National Union of Plantation Workers (NUPW)
have also called a 24-hour strike on May 22.
An oasis in region hit by
DEDKEDI, DISTRICT AMRELI (Saurashtra), May 20 Inhabitants of Dedkedi in Savarkundlka taluka of Amreli district are comfortable with water, foodgrains and fodder for the livestock at a time when this region is in the grip of drought.
Of the seven districts in Saurashtra, five namely Surendranagar, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Junagadh and Bhavnagar are affected by drought conditions.
The total drought proofing in Dedkedi, about 80 km from Rajkot, has resulted from the water resource development project initiated by the Shri Kundla Taluka Gram Sewa Mandal six years ago. A local non-governmental organisation, the mandal has been engaged in upliftment of the rural community from the pre-independence days.
Today, all the 150 households in this village have piped water supply while some use community handpumps. Construction of a check dam, 30 earthen dams, five percolation tanks and trenching in 20 acres has ensured them enough water for irrigation and drinking purposes.
Lending a helping hand to adjoining villages of Hadida and Garihadha by sending fodder and wheat is a matter of pride for them. According to Pragji, a villager, they have sold cotton worth Rs 10 lakh and 5,000 tonnes of wheat worth Rs 3 lakh in the last eight months. Unlike other districts in Saurashtra, this village does not depend on water supplied by water tankers to meet its daily requirement of water.
Prior to the execution of the project, the villagers depended on rainwater for irrigation. Water harvesting techniques have now facilitated the cultivation of a third crop (cotton which needs a lot of water). Previously, the villagers were only growing wheat, groundnuts and til in small quantities. In the first year of its execution, the village reported a crop yield of Rs 135 lakh more and in the subsequent, it had a crop yield of 437 lakh more than that in the previous year. The total land area under cultivation after the implementation of the project is 9,981 acres.
According to the engineer of the project, Mr R.B. Lalia, the village has 40 water structures. Dedkedi which has a population of 831 persons has also attracted inflow from other villages. According to Aswin Trivedi, team leader of the Water Management Project, over 10 families have moved into the village since the successful execution of the water management project.
The Mandal is active in 84 villages in Amreli district of which 52 have watershed management projects. Dedkedi has a watershed management committee comprising 160 members.
According to Mr Bhupat
Patel, Chairman of the committee, the village has surplus
yield of wheat and cotton. Unlike Malda, Nanagaon and
Vijapdi (all within a radius of 3km), Dedkedi is not at
all affected by drought. On completion of the project,
the total expenditure will be audited applying government
rates for construction.
Poor pay to keep CM flying
BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh performed his week-long annual ritual of "gram sampark" late last month. He would announce in advance the division or divisions which he intended to visit on a particular day. An army of officers would scurry to the important villages in that area. The CM would fly in a helicopter. While in the air, he would point out a village and the helicopter would land at some point near that village. The residents would be overwhelmed. Some of them would venture to relate their problems. After chatting with the villagers for some time, the Chief Minister, usually accompanied by the Chief Secretary, would take off a land near another village.
One can understand such surprise, even expensive, visits if the government has done some work to alleviate the suffering of the people and the Chief Minister wants to see for himself if there are areas which have been left out of the developmental activities. But not much has really been done in the past decade or so. What then is the objective of his enormously expensive gram sampark sorties? Except perhaps to refurbish his image in the media as the "sensitive and dynamic Chief Minister". He always ensures that a senior journalist accompanies him in his sorties. The selection this year was mostly of journalists from outside the state who are seldom aware of the ground realities in Madhya Pradesh and can easily lap up the Chief Ministers "concern" for the rural poor.
There was nothing wrong in the Chief Minister trying to build his image in the past, even at the peoples expense. But this year the situation is different. Mr Digvijay Singh says the government has no money for carrying out development work. He has retrenched nearly 30,000 daily wage earners. A daily wager, with a family of five or six, was earning barely Rs 1800 or so per month. Many of them had worked for more than ten years. Deprived of their meagre sustenance, several daily wagers committed suicide in sheer desperation. The amount spent on the Chief Ministers village-hoppings and on the army officers directed to visit the villages during that period could have sustained a large number of families of daily wagers.
Mr Ajay Singh Yadav, who was Labour Commissioner and Secretary to the MP Government and resigned from IAS after having failed to bring about a change in the governments working, is not impressed by Mr Digvijay Singhs argument that the daily wagers have been removed because they were appointed in an irregular manner. It is like a houseowner receiving rent from his tenant and then turning him out with the plea that the tenant was occupying the house illegally.
Some of Mr Digvijay
Singhs decisions are mind-boggling. His government
raised the existing rates of sales tax or imposed new
taxes on a number of items with effect from January 1,
2000. On January 21, the government issued a notification
withdrawing the new or the increased taxes on some 60
items "with effect from January 1, 2000". What
it means in simple language is that the new or increased
taxes collected by traders on these 60 items from January
1 to January 20 need not to be paid to the government.
Since there is no mechanism to ensure a refund of taxes
collected by traders on items such as poultry, fruit,
kirana goods, distilled water and stationery items, the
tax money remained with traders. Little wonder that
traders in several parts of the state held functions to
felicitate Mr Digvijay Singh.
Panel submits report on Prasar
NEW DELHI, May 20 The committee set up to review the working of the Prasar Bharati Corporation today presented its report to the Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Mr Arun Jaitley, with suggestions for creating a management council, major thrust in marketing and distribution and reducing offcialdom in the organisation for effective functioning.
The committee noted out that marketing had been neglected by Prasar Bharati and needed a major thrust. There is also an urgent need to improve the distribution of the Doordarshan satellite channels to bring increased advertising revenues. Marketing must also provide consumer feedback to the content creators in order to improve the audience appeal and participation.
The report said that a management council be set up chaired by the Chief Executive Officer and should have its members, key senior executives from the Prasar Bharati who are either responsible for profit or a function. The council should resolve policy issues and implement agreed decisions and it should also be responsible for all operational and management matters.
The committee has suggested the removal of DG(Doordarshan) and DG(AIR) from the Board with the idea of having just a single point of control in the organisation. It said that board should continue to have a part time Chairman and six part time members in addition to a senior representative from the ministry.
However, amongst the full-time Prasar Bharati employees, only the CEO be a member of the Board.
The committee noted that
till the Prasar Bharati became independent, there should
be budgetary support from the government, but recommended
a target of five years for it to become financially
self-sufficient. There was also need for autonomy,
decentralisation and devolution of powers within Prasar
Bharati, the report said.
12 killed in Tripura violence, curfew imposed
AGARTALA, May 20 (PTI) Curfew has been imposed in some parts of west Tripura district where at least 12 persons, including two women and a child, were killed and 13 injured in separate incidents.
A 27-year-old woman and her three-year-old son were among six tribesmen killed and seven wounded when suspected ultras of United Bengali Liberation Front of Tripura today hurled bombs at a jeep at Malakarbasti, the police said today.
The victims were on their way to Teliamura from Uttar Maharanipur, the police said adding four critically injured were admitted to a hospital here.
including a woman, were killed and five including two
children, were injured seriously last evening when a
group of non-tribal people attacked Gudaibari village,
the police said, adding a villager was also kidnapped.
Trinamool-BJP reach pact on seat-sharing
NEW DELHI, May 20 (UNI) The Trinamool Congress and the BJP today reached an understanding on sharing of seats for contesting the coming Calcutta Municipal Corporation elections in West Bengal.
Announcing this here, Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said the BJP would not contest 23 seats. The BJP was earlier offered 19 seats but not satisfied, the party unilaterally declared it would contest 45 seats.
Now the BJP has agreed to put up 23 candidates for the election to be contested as an ally of the Trinamool Congress.
The understanding was reached after three rounds of meetings she had with West Bengal BJP leaders Rahul Sinha, P.D. Chitlangiya and sitting BJP council Shanti Lal Jain.
Manmohan backs Sonias leadership
NEW DELHI, May 20 (PTI) Close on the heels of scathing attack on Congress leadership by some leaders, senior party leader Manmohan Singh today came out in strong support of Sonia Gandhi saying she was doing a "very good job under difficult conditions" and the party could bounce back to power under her stewardship.
"Sonia Gandhi is
doing a very good job under very difficult conditions.
There is no reason for my not supporting her," Mr
Manmohan Singh told reporters after attending a public
meeting on noted Pakistani economist Mahbub-ul-Haq.
Jharkhand in next session: Marandi
RANCHI, May 20 (UNI) Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Babu Lal Marandi today said a separate state of Jharkhand would be a reality in Parliaments monsoon session if the Congress remained committed to statehood.
If the Opposition, particularly the Congress, genuinely supported the government on statehood, the Bihar State Re-organisation Bill would not only be introduced as assured by the Prime Minister but also adopted in Parliaments monsoon session.
Talking to UNI here, Mr Marandi said the National Democratic Alliance would have brought the Bill in the Budget session of Parliament had the Opposition not created bedlam raising an "unjustified" demand of Rs 1,80,000 as an economic package for the rest of Bihar before its bifurcation.
Mr Marandi felt that
there would be no need to refer the Bill to the Standing
Committee after its introduction in Parliament if the
Opposition unitedly agreed to take it up for discussion
soon after it was tabled in the monsoon session.
Unemployment breeding insurgency
NEW DELHI, May 20 (PTI) Defence Minister George Fernandes today said that economic liberalisation policy was largely responsible for the growth of unemployment problem in the country and maintained that from Assam to Kashmir, insurgency often was fuelled by this problem.
"Despite all hype that globalisation had solution to all problems, common people have not benefited from this," Mr Fernandes said addressing a conference on South Asian Human Development here.
Describing "unemployment problem" as mother of all major problems confronting the country, Mr Fernandes said it was this menace which has led "radicals" in states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh to take to arms and insurgency to crop up in Jammu and Kashmir and north east.
Sharing his experience of handling situation in Jammu and Kashmir and North East, he said in the most cases the essential complaint from these areas has been lack of job avenues.
"During last 12 months at least 1,000 ULFA cadres have laid down arms in Assam unconditionally, but with only one request that they be given jobs," he said.
He lamented that the liberalisation policy had affected seriously the job market with at least 27,000 jobs lost between 1994 and 1998. "These unemployed youth increasing every year are the ready candidates for any kind of insurgency and violence," he said.
Maintaining that he was not against multi-nationals coming to India as the country needed hi-tech support, he said under liberalisation policy the gulf between rich and poor was not merely confined within a country.
"The gulf is widening even between developing countries and countries like the U.S," he said.
In his inaugural speech, Mr Gujral also said that South Asian countries should think "unitedly" in fighting the common problems.
He said such joint strategy especially in dealing with forums like the WTO would prove much helpful.
Mr Fernandes said all South Asian countries including India and Pakistan should "commit themselves jointly to economic development and resolve all disputes between them through dialogue and mutual trust".
He maintained that "We are ready to talk provided they stop killing our innocent people and foment terrorism," he said.
The conference was
attended among others by former Premier I.K. Gujral,
SAARC Secretary General Nihal Rodrigo, members of
diplomatic corps and a delegation from Pakistan led by
sociologist and president of Islamabad based
Mahbub-ul-Haq Centre for Human Development Khadija Haq.
Birla Foundation raises stipends
NEW DELHI, May 20 (UNI) The K.K. Birla Foundation which gives fellowships in various fields of study, yesterday announced an increase in the stipend and contingency grants for several awards and fellowship programmes, including journalism.
For Bihari Puraskar, which envisages recognition of an outstanding Hindi work of a Rajasthani writer published during the past 10 years, the award money has been increased from Rs 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh. The prize money for Vachaspati Puraskar which is given to a writer for his work in Sanskrit, has also been raised from 75,000 to Rs 1 lakh.
The foundation has also raised to Rs 1 lakh from Rs 75,000 each the awards for sportspersons, coaches and renowned media persons connected with sports.
In the field of journalism, the foundation is presently giving six fellowships, including two each in Hindi, English and other Indian languages. The monthly stipend in such cases has been increased from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000 and a contingency grant of Rs 25,000 per annum to Rs 40,000 per annum.
As an adjunct to the Saraswati Saman, the foundation had instituted two high-level fellowships of two-year duration each in the field of comparative Indian literature. The monthly stipend in the case of these fellowships has been increased to Rs 12,000 and the contingency grant of Rs 40,000 each per annum. However, the duration of these fellowships has been reduced from two years to one year.
Master dies saving dog
KHARGONE (MP), May 20 (UNI) In a reversal of roles, a tribesman died defending his pet dog at Kathiabandhan village in Khargone district.
Police sources said a quarrel had erupted between Somla whose dog bit his neighbour Edas goat. The latter asked for a compensation of Rs 2,000 and when it was refused he tried to kill the dog.
years RI for Manager
Pondy PCC chief
Father, son get
Play on Godse:
HC allows public reading
4 arrested in
Six killed in
Cop kills 2 kin
of daughters paramour
700-cr Central aid
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