|Monday, May 22, 2000,
make housing fundamental right
Use of IAF planes by ex-PMs
Pak using UAVs to spot gaps
Notice to Centre on retirement age
Sonia for boosting Panchayati Raj
2 gangsters shot dead in encounter
Cong not behaving responsibly: PM
Rail package for north Bengal
Shankaracharyas visit to
Malta boat victims assail RAW
Cross-border studies through
Website to counter Pak propaganda
VP: make housing fundamental right
NEW DELHI, May 21 (PTI) Former Prime Minister V.P. Singh today demanded that housing should be made a fundamental right and asked the Centre to formulate a comprehensive national slum policy for the urban poor within a year.
"The Constitution should be amended to make housing a fundamental right. In addition, the Vajpayee government should fulfil its promise and come out with a comprehensive national slum policy within a year," Mr V.P. Singh said while addressing a largely attended rally of slum-dwellers here.
Stating that the beautification of Delhi should not be done at the cost of poor slum-dwellers, he said they should not be removed without giving advance notice and providing alternative land for rehabilitation.
Mr V.P. Singh criticised Union Urban Development Minister Jagmohan for his alleged failure to expose land mafia in the Capital.
"Let him expose the land mafia we will take on them," he declared.
Mr V.P. Singh alleged double standards in implementing the laws against unauthorised constructions, saying while slums were being bulldozed, illegal constructions by influential persons was being ignored.
Former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda said the government must come out with a permanent settlement policy for the urban poor, especially in the metros and said it may even be declared a national emergency.
Mr Gowda blamed the economic policies of successive governments for mushrooming of slums, saying "wrong policies are forcing rural people to migrate to cities for employment avenues, but they land up in slums where they live in most inhuman conditions."
He said while the government had raised the prices of essential commodities, it was providing concession to capitalists and multinational companies.
CPM General Secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet said even after 52 years of Independence, governments over the years had failed to provide basic needs of the people.
Mr Surjeet pledged his partys support for the struggle of the slum dwellers in the national Capital.
He criticised the National Democratic Alliance Government for ignoring the problems of the poor.
RJD leader and former
minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, former Lok Sabha
Speaker Rabi Ray, CPI leader Atul Kumar Anjan and the CPM
Central Committee leader were prominent among those spoke
at the rally.
Use of IAF planes by ex-PMs not private
NEW DELHI, May 21 (PTI) The Indian Prime Minister has no individual or personal life. He is always a Prime Minister wherever he goes official visits, party rallies or for other purposes, said Ram Khandekar, former personal aide to former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao.
All programmes of a Prime Minister, including the timings for departure, arrival and personnel accompanying him are decided mainly on the advice of the Special Protection Group (SPG), Mr Khandekar said in a paper prepared in the wake of a PIL filed for recovery of dues from former Prime Ministers for their "non-official" use of Air Force plane.
Mr Raos name figured in the list of defaulters along with three other Prime Ministers Mr Rajiv Gandhi, Mr Chandra Shekhar and Mr H.D. Deve Gowda.
The court was informed that Rajiv Gandhis name was out of the defaulters list as the Congress had made a payment of Rs 1.86 crore for the use of the defence aircraft by him for private purposes during his tenure.
The Centre had informed the Delhi High Court that it would file suits against Mr Chandra Shekhar, Mr Rao and Mr Gowda for the recovery of Rs 11.80 crore dues from them for using defence planes for private purposes during their tenure.
The Prime Ministers Office (PMO) has given approval for initiating the legal proceedings against the three former Prime Ministers on April 5 and notices for filing the suits on each of them will be served soon, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) S.B. Jaisinghani had informed the court.
The Congress, which had earlier agreed to pay the Rs 5.52 crore dues from Mr Rao in instalments, had now been silent on the issue as the government had given the party March 31 as last date for sending a communication.
The ASG said Mr Gowdas party, Janata Dal (S), in its communication claimed that he had used the defence planes for the party purpose and the then Janata Dal President Sharad Yadav has to reply on the issue.
"This stand of Mr Gowda is improper and, therefore, we have decided to give notices to each individual instead of the parties concerned as was done earlier," Mr Jaisinghani said.
While Mr Chandra Shekhar owes the Defence Ministry Rs 5.91 crore, Mr Gowda has to pay Rs 54.61 lakh, the court was informed.
Advocate B.L. Wadhear, who had filed the PIL, said notices should be issued to each individual former premier as they had used the planes, and not the parties concerned.
Mr Khandekar said the
fact is that a Prime Minister remained a Prime Minister
during all his vists, whether for official or
non-official purposes, and he has no "individual,
family or independent life".
Pak using UAVs to spot gaps
NEW DELHI, May 21 (PTI) Pakistan is reportedly using high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to spot gaps in Indian Army defences for infiltration of heavily armed mercenaries into Jammu and Kashmir.
A number of UAV sightings have been made by the security forces in the Palanwala, Sunderbani, Tangdhar, Gurez and Kel sectors along the Line of Control (IoC) last month alone, according to defence sources.
The sources said sightings and detections of UAVs by land-based radars had invariably followed heavy shelling by Pakistani troops in a bid to push in large groups of mercenaries across the LoC.
They said UAV activity had become more frequent since the second week of April when the Pir-Panjal, Shamsbari and Gurez heights get passable with the melting of winter snow.
The enhanced UAV activity on the LoC comes in the wake of reports that an estimated 2,000-3,500 mercenaries of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Al-Badr have been massed by Pakistan in the Kotli, Muzzafarabad and Minimarg areas across the LoC.
Pakistan had earlier used these US-acquired high-altitude UAVs widely during run-up to its clandestine occupation of Kargil heights during the conflict itself.
India, despite being taken by surprise in Kargil, is yet to acquire high-altitude UAVs, though negotiations are reported to be in an advanced stage with Israelis.
The Kargil review committee in its report had asked the government to give top priority to acquisition of UAVs but even one year after Kargil, troops manning the LoC in forward positions and depth are yet to receive the equipment.
The sources said the induction of the system would even the balance between the two forces.
The sources said Pakistan was also using UAVs in the 195 km international border from Palanwala to Madhopur on the J&K- Punjab border. This stretch of the border has been witnessing some of the heaviest cross-border shelling by Pakistani troops.
The border stretch where government proposes to put up electric fencing on a crash basis is most vulnerable to smuggling of arms and ammunition on a large scale.
Aware of the menace, the government proposes to complete the electric fencing in a year-and-a-half, a pronouncement which appears like a tall claim.
Previous attempts by the government to put fencing on the stretch, like the Punjab-Pakistan border, has not been successful since the first-try in 1995. Pakistani troops have indulged in heavy firing to make it impossible for Indians to put up fencing.
Highly placed Home Ministry officials have said they now propose to undertake fencing by the para-military forces and Army instead of civilian contractors.
Meanwhile, the sources
said Army units in Kupwara, Poonch and Rajouri district
have been instructed to help civilian authorities to
construct deep bunkers in border villages and towards
hinterland for the population to escape heavy shelling by
the Pakistani forces.
Notice to Centre on retirement age
NEW DELHI, May 21 (PTI) The Delhi High Court has sought reply from the Centre on a recent notification reducing the retirement age of Army Medical Corps (AMC) officers by one year from this month.
A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice Anil Dev Singh and Mr Justice B.A. Khan while issuing notices to the Defence Secretary, Chief of Army Staff, Director-General of Armed Forces Medical Services (DGAFMS) and others directed all the respondents to submit their replies by May 25.
The notices among others were also issued to Director-General Medical Service (Air Force) and Director-General Medical Services (Navy).
The issue was brought before the high court by Brig K.S. Rao, a retired AMC officer, in a public interest litigation (PIL), seeking quashing of the order.
Pleading for summoning the entire record of the case and interim stay till the decision on the PIL, Brigadier Rao said the Defence Ministrys notification of May 1 reducing the retirement age of the defence medical officers by one year was "discriminatory".
"The order will also affect a large number of officers of the Army Dental Corps, Military Nursing Services, Remount and Veterinary Corps as well as medical officers in the Air-Force and Navy," the PIL said.
Brigadier Rao said the notification was "violative" of the policy decision of the government under the Fifth Pay Commission, which, in fact, had enhanced the retirement age of the officers by two years.
The Defence Ministrys order was also against the countrys interests as the forces were already facing a shortage of medical officers due to "disinclination" of civilian doctors to join the services.
The government in its
memorandum of May 13, 1998, on the implementation of the
Fifth Pay Commission recommendations had said the
retirement age of the armed forces and central paramilitary forces officers would be enhanced by two
Sonia for boosting Panchayati Raj
NEW DELHI, May 21 (UNI) Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said the party would strive hard to make Panchayati Raj institutions a vibrant democratic instrument of development.
Addressing a seminar on Panchayat Raj pillar of democracy, organised by the Indian Youth Congress to commemorate ninth death anniversary of her husband and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Mrs Gandhi said the party wanted Panchayati Raj institutions to become a vibrant voice of people at all levels.
She said her late husband had brought in a systematic revolution drawing inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Village institutions were given strength through constitutional amendments to overcome problems like uncertain elections, arbitrary dismissals and interference by state governments.
President K.R. Narayanan and Vice-President Krishan Kant and Mrs Gandhi were among those who paid floral tributes to late Prime Minister at Veer Bhoomi, the samadhi of Rajiv Gandhi. The Indian Medical Association held a blood donation camp at the AICC headquarter.
The Mahila Congress organised a meeting to highlight the contributions of Mr Gandhi for the uplift of women by defining their role in the countrys polity.
Mrs Gandhi called upon the youth to take an active interest in grass root level democracy.
Reaping benefits of water
RAJ-SAMADHIYALA, (Rajkot) May 21 Prosperity, dynamism, discipline and self-reliance in water strike an outsiders first of all at Raj-Samadhiyala, a progressive village situated about 20 km from Rajkot. The village had figured in the "paani yatra" organised by the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. Everything seems to be in place water management, crime prevention and education. Little wonder then that the panchayat in this village was adjudged the best in Gujarat in 1995.
According to Balwantsinh Jadeja, the Sarpanch of the village, no water tanker has come to the village in the last 15 years. "The village has 45 water harvesting systems, including check dams. After the first check dam was constructed in the late 1970s, the total area under cultivation is 2,800 acre. Of this, 2,000 acres are owned by the villagers, 600 acre by the government and 200 acre is grassland."
Mr Jadeja said the first efforts at tapping water sources were made in 1995 following a hydrogeological survey done by the Indian Space Research Organisation. The satellite imagery led to the identification of fissures and construction of dykes which facilitated storage of water and recharging of wells.
Before the adoption of water management techniques, there was no water available for irrigation after November and this compelled villagers to migrate. Gradual development has however, checked migration and the migration rate is now zero.
In the past 20 years, the Gujarat Government has spent a sum of Rs 20 crore for the construction of check dams in the village.
Drought-coping mechanisms have enabled the villagers to cope well with the present situation. Although it has affected their earnings, they have enough water for sustaining themselves and livestock. For instance, the villagers used to sell vegetables worth Rs 50 lakh every year. Due to the drought, they have been able to sell vegetables worth only Rs 10 lakh.
The village sarpanch says his profit from the sale of vegetables has dropped from Rs 7 lakh to one lakh.
Today, Raj Samadhiyala boasts of a zero crime rate and an annual income which is Rs 2.5 crore more than that of the neighbouring villages of Aniyala, Dhandhiya, Lakhapur, Lisajadiali, which do not have water harvesting structures. The village also has an unwritten penal code, independent of the Indian Penal Code. "Our crime prevention is effective because we dont follow the IPC", says Balwantsinh Jadeja.
Rules are revised from time to time by persons belonging to the 11-member development committee and the Gram Panchayat has to follow its directions. Its constitution gives a fair representation to persons belonging to various castes. Presently, the committee has one woman member.
Apart from this, the village has a primary and secondary school, both aided by the government. Enrolment here varies from 80 to 90 per cent and the dropout rate is said to be negligible.
Child marriage is forbidden and family planning methods are followed.
Prosperity is evident in the comfortable lifestyle of the villagers which comprise Patels, Thakurs, Harijans, Maldharis (cattle grazers) and Nadoada Rajputs. Ninety per cent of the houses in the village are pucca. Of the 280 households in the village, 15 have telephone connections and 10 have cars.
An estimated 1,700 inhabitants of the village owe most of the socio-economic change to the 48-year-old Jadeja. The village first witnessed efforts way back in 1978 under the leadership of Jadeja. A postgraduate in English literature from Saurashtra University, Jadeja was selected for the post of Deputy Commandant in the Central Reserve Police Force. At the same time, he was also offered the post of Sarpanch by the village development committee. He accepted this in preference to a laidback and secure government job. Fed up with the presence of anti-social elements and non-cooperation of the police, Jadeja decided to frame an unwritten penal code from the day he assumed charge.
According to the law of
this village, littering, gambling, eve-teasing,
quarreling, non-participation in the electoral exercise,
sale of gutka, plucking leaves, even calling up the
police are punishable. Persons found guilty of such
offences are required to pay fine. Political propaganda
is forbidden in the village and candidates are not
allowed to woo voters directly. Instead, villages are
briefed about contesting candidates by members of the
2 gangsters shot dead in encounter
NEW DELHI, May 21 (PTI) Two gangsters of the notorious "Kapil gang" were killed in an encounter at Jharoda village in the Najafgarh area of South-West Delhi today.
The gangsters, identified as Rishi Pal, alias Rishi, a dismissed police constable and Jitender, alias Jeetu, were killed in a shoot-out with the city polices special cell sleuths around 7.30 a.m., Joint Commissioner of Police (Intelligence) S. Ramakrishnan told reporters here.
Acting on information that Kapil gang members had plans to kill Kuldeep, a transporter and sympathiser of their rival gang leader Anoop, who is now in Tihar Jail, in Jharoda village, the special cell sleuths laid traps at various points of possible entry of the gangsters in the village, he said.
A police party spotted Rishi Pal and Jitender coming on a motor cycle and then taking position in bushes near a drain in the village, he said. "They (gangsters) were apparently waiting for Kuldeep who was to come there" he said.
When the police party tried to nab them, the gangsters opened fire, and in the return fire they were seriously injured.
They were immediately removed to DDU hospital, where they were declared brought dead, Mr Ramakrishnan said.
BJP, NCP to boycott all-party meeting
PATNA, May 21 (PTI) The BJP and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) today decided to stay away from the all-party meeting called by the Chief Minister, Mrs Rabri Devi, tomorrow to discuss the strategy to contain growing incidence massacres and extremist-related violence.
BJP state unit president Nand Kishore Yadav in a letter to the Chief Minister said his party would boycott the proposed meeting as it was a part of an "ongoing futile and meaningless exercise" by the RJD regime to check crime.
Mr Yadav said the RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav himself had time and again
said he was "a lion of the "jungle Raj"
and thus talk for ending the jungle Raj, anarchy and
chaos by the Rabri Devi ministry" was
Balayogi elected CPA chief
NEW DELHI, May 21 (UNI) Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi has been unanimously elected president of the Asia region of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) by its executive. The first regional conference of the CPA branches in Asia and South East Asia regions began at Calcutta today.
The executive committee
decided to keep the Pakistan branches of the CPA in
abeyance till the revival of its legislature. The
executive has also shifted its regional secretariat from
Islamabad to New Delhi.
Cong not behaving responsibly: PM
NEW DELHI, May 21 (PTI) Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee today made a veiled attack on the Congress saying that some Opposition parties were "not" behaving responsibly.
"We were also in the Opposition. But we never made any attempt to demoralise the jawans and belittle their achievements, he said addressing a function at which he felicitated Yogendra, founder and chief organising secretary of Sanskar Bharati, a cultural organisation, on his 75th birthday.
Rail package for north Bengal
NEW JALPAIGURI, May 21 (UNI) Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee today announced a number of packages for north Bengal.
Flagging off the
inaugural run of the first diesel locomotive toy train,
Ms Banerjee announced Rs 27-crore budget provision for
laying of Changrabandha to Malbazar rail track, Rs 50
crore for Eklaki-Balurghat track, Rs 80 crore for
Balurghat-Gajol track, Rs 2 crore for constructing
flyover in Siliguri.
Malta boat victims assail RAW
NEW DELHI, May 21 (UNI) The victims of the Malta boat tragedy today criticised the (RAW) and the (CBI) for "tardy progress and inept handling" of the boat sinking case and appealed to the president and The Prime Minister to intervene in the matter.
Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman of the Malta boat tragedy probe mission which independently probed the tragedy on behalf of the victims, regretted that even three and a half years after the tragedy, no officers of the Indian Government have gone abroad to find out the reality.
The tragedy happened on December 25, 1996 in the sea of Malta, but the Italy government completely denied its occurrence saying that it had scanned the sea and had not found any body or the wreckage of the ship. More than 300 persons died in the mishap.
It is alleged that the raw did not pursue the investigation at all.
Mr Khera claimed that a delegation of the NGO had about five months ago met the CBI Director who had assured that officials of the investigating agency would be sent abroad to bring reports from those countries about the progress of the cases there. "but now we have been told that nothing has been done in the case.
He urged the President
and The Prime Minister to intervene and help the mission
complete the inquiry and prosecute the accused. They were
also requested to extend monetary help to the
victims kin through the Central and state governments.
Shankaracharyas visit to valley "restricted"
NEW DELHI, May 21 (UNI) Shankaracharya Adhokshanand of Goverdhan Peeth, who was on mission to the Kashmir valley for talks with the Hurriyat and other secessionist leaders for ending violence, was denied permission by the Jammu and Kashmir Government to go beyond Udhampur due to security reasons.
The Shankaracharya, who was accompanied by several colleagues, was not allowed to proceed to the valley by the state authorities and the security officials informed him that militants have laid mines at various places on the national highway.
Talking to a group of newsmen on his return here from Jammu, he expressed dismay over the state government denial to give him permission to visit the valley to meet the Hurriyat and other political leaders.
He was also scheduled to go to Chatti Singhpura, where 35 Sikhs were massacred, and various religious places including Shankarcharya temple, Hazratbal mosque, Chrar-e-Sharif and Kher Bhavani,
Cross-border studies through Internet
NEW DELHI, May 21 (UNI) A high school or college student in the USA being taught maths by a high school teacher in India? Or vice versa?
Such a scenario could be closer to fruition than we think.
For a new project, currently on the anvil in the USA, plans to use the Internet and other communications technology to offer high school and college-level course materials for classrooms around the globe.
The programme aims at tapping the resources of universities around the world by using supplemental course material developed for the web by teachers in various parts of the world. The course material will be developed keeping in view the local traditions of each country.
That kind of international exchange is the goal of the programme, called the "Partnership in global learning", New York Times reports.
In the initial phase of the pilot project, universities in the USA and two Latin American countries will train high school teachers to develop course materials that can be used in their own countries and across borders.
"We are tapping the resources of universities around the world to produce the best content possible," said Elizabeth Lowe, Director of the project, which is financed by a $ 1.5 million grant from the Lucent Technologies Foundation, the charitable arm of the telecommunications company.
Over the next three years, researchers at the Centre for Latin American Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville will collaborate with counterparts at one Mexican university and three Brazilian universities.
The universities will
adopt selected high schools in their areas and train
teachers there in the development of web-based curriculum
materials for business and science subjects, including
biology, chemistry and physics.
Website to counter Pak propaganda
NEW DELHI, May 21 (PTI) Taking head on the cyber war unleashed by Pakistan-backed portals against India, a Delhi-based Kashmiri has launched a website to mobilise global public opinion against the ISI-sponsored terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
www.savekashmirmovement.org is not only aimed at exposing Pakistans nefarious designs in the border state, but also in providing a platform to varied sections of society to express their views on the vexed Kashmir problem.
According to Mr M.A. Hussain, alias Y.B. Home, the brain behind the project, who describes himself as a "victim of terrorism", the website would effectively counter the Pakistani propaganda on Kashmir through popular participation.
"Pakistan has launched a cyber war against India and we have been left far behind. Through this website we want to tell our Pakistani brethren that the people of Kashmir had rejected the two-nation theory way back in 1947," he said.
"Kashmir is the basis of secularism in India. The creation of Bangladesh and the Mohajir, Baluchi and Sindhi movements, besides the growing Shia-Sunni clashes in Pakistan have proven the fallacy of the two-nation theory," Mr Hussain said.
"The website is an independent initiative of a concerned Kashmiri and an Indian citizen," Mr Hussain said dismissing suggestions that it was backed by any government agency.
"Any government-sponsored website would be preaching. Ours is an open platform committed to promote people to people communication on Kashmir," he said.
To be formally launched early next month by a "child victim of Pakistani terrorism in Kashmir", the site has various sections such as peoples platform, opinion leaders and profile of a terrorist.
"While we are for the total unification and integration of Kashmir with the rest of the country and against any talks with pro-Pakistan elements, including the Hurriyat Conference, the website would provide an open forum to all shades of opinion," Mr Hussain said.
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