Thursday, December 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India




National Capital Region--Delhi

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

George accepts Z plus security cover
New Delhi, December 12
Defence Minister George Fernandes today accepted Z plus security cover for himself, relenting to the pressure from the security agencies concerned over the threat to his life from Pakistan-based militant groups.

CPM demands George’s ouster
New Delhi, December 12
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today demanded the ouster of Defence Minister George Fernandes from the Union Cabinet saying that the “scam” related with the supply of coffins for the Kargil martyrs showed the “depths of degeneration” in his ministry.

'Dead' soldier returns home after 21 years
Pirakota Sorufaidiya ( Guwahati), December 12
An Indian army soldier, believed dead 21-years back, returned to his native village in Assam over the weekend, creating sensation in the area.

Tilak Gogoi with his wife Labanya Gogoi. — PTI photo
Tilak Gogoi with his wife Labanya Gogoi

Patna High Court extends Laloo's bail
Patna, December 12
In a significant development, the Patna High Court today extended RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav’s provisional bail period for three months in the disproportionate asset case of the multi-crore fodder scam.



 

EARLIER STORIES

 
Bollywood stars Anil Kapoor and Raveena Tandon
Bollywood stars Anil Kapoor (R) and Raveena Tandon (L) attend the 48th National Film Awards ceremony in New Delhi on Wednesday. While Anil Kapoor collected the Best Actor Award for the film "Pukaar," Raveena Tandon awarded the Best Actress Award for her role in the movie "Daman." — Reuters

USA reaffirms common cause against terrorism
New Delhi, December 12
The USA has reaffirmed Washington’s common cause with India to fight “terrorists and their sponsors ‘everywhere’ in the world”.

NORTH INDIA IN PARLIAMENT
No special relief for Punjab cops
New Delhi, December 12
Minister of State for Home Affairs Vidyasagar Rao told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that there is no proposal to provide any special relief to security personnel facing charges of human rights violations in Punjab. 

Buy illegal arms, get cartridges free
Patna, December 12
The national illegal arms bazar is bearish, even as the Afghan war has snapped the route of the largest arms supply to the Asian continent. The activities of the ISI being at a standstill owing to international attention, the export of arms to India by it is somewhat on check.

Tourism in Punjab, J&K ignored
New Delhi, December 12
The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has identified Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir as among eight states in which development of tourism is being overlooked due to inconsistent approach.

Clinical trials on humans suspended
New Delhi, December 12
Declaring that people cannot be treated as guinea pigs, the government today ordered suspension of all clinical trials on human beings at Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), Thiruvananthapuram, for a period of six months.

No CBI probe into tuskers’ killing: CM
Dehra Dun, December 12
The Chief Minister of Uttaranchal, Mr Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, has ruled out CBI inquiry into the killing of two tuskers at Rajaji National Park. Talking to mediapersons here this evening, he said the government had already ordered probe into the incident and there was no need of a CBI probe.

Uttaranchal’s Annual Plan okayed
Dehra Dun, December 12
The Planning Commission has approved the Annual Plan of Uttaranchal of Rs 1050 crore for the current financial year.

VIDEOS
The ancient fort of Bikaner has been converted into a cultural centre and museum in an effort to attract a large number of tourists.
(28k, 56k)
The South Central Zone Cultural Centre, Nagpur, is organising Orange City Craft Mela and Folk Dance festival from 7th to 16th December, 2001.
(28k, 56k)


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George accepts Z plus security cover

New Delhi, December 12
Defence Minister George Fernandes today accepted Z plus security cover for himself, relenting to the pressure from the security agencies concerned over the threat to his life from Pakistan-based militant groups.

Official sources said Mr Fernandes accepted the security cover after the Home Ministry’s intervention.

The acceptance of security cover also follows a wireless intercept by the military intelligence at the border in Jammu and Kashmir that Pakistan-based militants were planning suicide attacks on important personalities including Mr Fernandes and Minister of State of External Affairs Omar Abdullah, who are said to be on the top of their hit list.

Mr Fernandes, who assumed charge as Defence Minister for the second time in the Vajpayee Cabinet, could have been an easy prey for militants as he had been moving without security ever since he became a Union Minister, the sources said.

A special review for Mr Fernandes’s security was made by the security agencies last night after which the Union Minister accepted security.

Meanwhile, the security agencies have gone in a tizzy over the threat perception to Mr Omar Abdullah following reports that he could be the prize target of militants operating in Jammu and Kashmir.

Already two attempts have been made on his life in Anantnag and Lolab valley in the Kashmir valley.

The Minister of State is under the close cover of Special Security Group of Jammu and Kashmir police with a peripheral cover of the Delhi police.

However, the security agencies have recommended the upgradation of his security, besides providing additional security cover during travelling, the sources said.

The sources said it had been decided that an “advance security laison” would be conducted for Mr Omar Abdullah wherever he visits, besides a thorough check of the aircraft he would be travelling by.

The security of Mr L.K. Advani is also being reviewed on a daily basis. PTI
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CPM demands George’s ouster
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
The Communist Party of India (Marxist) today demanded the ouster of Defence Minister George Fernandes from the Union Cabinet saying that the “scam” related with the supply of coffins for the Kargil martyrs showed the “depths of degeneration” in his ministry.

“Mr Fernandes should not have been reinducted as Minister of Defence in the first place....Now with the series of defence equipment related scandals tumbling out, the entire country would demand that he be immediately removed from his post”, a CPM politburo statement said here.

The CPM said the CAG report on procurement for the armed forces during the Kargil conflict revealed “largescale bungling and corrupt practices”.

“It is ridiculous to import aluminium coffins from the USA when these can easily be produced and made available in the country”, the statement pointed out.Top

 

'Dead' soldier returns home after 21 years

Pirakota Sorufaidiya (Guwahati), December 12
An Indian army soldier, believed dead 21-years back, returned to his native village in the Assam over the weekend, creating sensation in the area. 

The 58 year old Tilak Gogoi, an army grenadier, along with three more was reported missing from the 67 Artillery Field Camp at Dharangdhara in Gujarat sometime in July 1980. But 21 years after the incident, Gogoi is back home with his family at village Pirakota Sorufaidiya in eastern Assam's Jorhat district, 330 km from state capital Guwahati. 

Gogoi along with four others were attacked by Pakistani troops leading to the death of one soldier. The Pakistani soldiers, then took hostage Gogoi and the other three — Ram Prasad, Krishna Lal, and Gurbind Singh. For the past 21 years, Gogoi and his colleagues were taken to various places inside Pakistan before being released at Mumbai last month. 

Gogoi's family had since given up hope and had performed all funeral rituals. His wife Labanya had been living as a widow ever since the news of her husband reported missing reached her 21 years back. PTITop

 

Patna High Court extends Laloo's bail

Patna, December 12
In a significant development, the Patna High Court today extended RJD supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav’s provisional bail period for three months in the disproportionate asset case of the multi-crore fodder scam.

The court also modified its earlier order by which the RJD chief was bound to be present on every date of trial in the designated CBI court here. 

It observed that Mr Yadav would remain present in the court, as and when required.

Justice Shashank Kumar Singh gave this directive after hearing Mr Yadav’s petition seeking confirmation of the temporary bail.

Senior counsel P.N. Pandey argued for the petitioner while advocate Rakesh Kumar represented the CBI. The matter will be taken up again on March 6. UNITop

 

USA reaffirms common cause against terrorism

New Delhi, December 12
The USA has reaffirmed Washington’s common cause with India to fight “terrorists and their sponsors ‘everywhere’ in the world”.

“President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee have noted that both countries are targets of terrorism as seen in the barbaric attacks on September 11 in the USA and on October 1 in Kashmir,” US Ambassador Robert D. Blackwill yesterday told a remembrance ceremony in honour of the victims of the September 11 terror strikes.

Acts of terrorism, he said, were no longer ignored or pushed aside. ‘’there is now a universal recognition... That those who perpetrate such acts must be identified, must be stopped, and must be punished.’’

Earlier, Indian and US National Anthems were played in turn to mark the third-month anniversary of the terror strikes. UNITop

 

NORTH INDIA IN PARLIAMENT
No special relief for Punjab cops
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
Minister of State for Home Affairs Vidyasagar Rao told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that there is no proposal to provide any special relief to security personnel facing charges of human rights violations in Punjab. He said that legal protection is already available to security personnel in the discharge of their duties, under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and special laws like the Punjab Disturbed Areas Act, 1973.

J & K post office: Minister of State for Communications Tapan Sikdar told the Lok Sabha that there are 1474 post offices in rural areas of Jammu and Kashmir. He said that a target for opening 13 Extra Departmental Branch Post Offices (EDBOs) and one Departmental Sub Office (DSO) has been fixed for the current financial year 2001-2002. One EDBO has already been opened. The minister said that opening of post offices depends on fulfilment of the prescribed norms and sanction of requisite posts by the government.

Kargil widows: Defence Minister George Fernandes told the Rajya Sabha that no separate Budget provision has been made for resettlement of widows of Kargil martyrs. He said that the widows/next of kin of Kargil martyrs have been paid an exgratia amount of Rs 10 lakh each and have been sanctioned liberalised family pension equal to the last pay drawn by the soldier. The widows have also been given Rs 5 lakh for housing and Rs 1 lakh per child or Rs 2 lakh per family for the education of children from the National Defence Fund.

Phone for Armymen: Minister of State for Communications Tapan Sikdar told the Lok Sabha that the government-announced telephone facility for the armed forces and paramilitary forces at one-fourth rate of call charges for the STD calls made from the PCOs in Kargil, Nobra and Leh SDCAs, operated by the armed forces whether on INMARSAT terminals or on land lines. ISD calls made to Nepal from these PCOs are also covered under the concessional tariff facility.Top

 

Buy illegal arms, get cartridges free
Our Correspondent

Patna, December 12
The national illegal arms bazar is bearish, even as the Afghan war has snapped the route of the largest arms supply to the Asian continent. The activities of the ISI being at a standstill owing to international attention, the export of arms to India by it is somewhat on check. So it is time for the local arms traders and Mafiosi to make fast buck. To lure the customers the top arms are being offered with a free package.

The notorious illegal arms bazars of Bihar at Nawada and Nalanda districts are abuzz with brisk sale of AK-47s, AK-56s, carbines, SLRs, police rifles and explosives. The AK-47s and AK-56s are coming with free cartridges.

The buyers from neighbouring West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and western Uttar Pradesh are shipping good chunk of this ‘cheap’ arms. Orders are placed on mobile phones and dispatched through the Indian Railways without trouble.

The local police has the information of the godowns and front shops of the arms but it prefers to feign ignorance. The Nalanda SP, Mr Amit Lodha, says he is new to this place and has no specific information of the arms trade yet. He assures action.

The sources put the price of the AK-47 at Rs 1.3 lakh with 100 cartridges free. The AK-56 is available at Rs 1.85 lakh with 100 cartridges free. The SLR is priced at Rs 1.5 lakh, semi-automatic rifle at Rs 95,000 and police rifle at Rs 75,000. The cheapest are the mousers at Rs 70,000, 9mm pistols at Rs 90,000 and top class dynamites at Rs 350 only.

The sources say the biggest demand now is that of the cartridges as the Afghan war had created a short supply of the same. The total business a year crosses the 100-crore mark, the sources maintain.Top

 

Tourism in Punjab, J&K ignored
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 12
The Public Accounts Committee of Parliament has identified Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir as among eight states in which development of tourism is being overlooked due to inconsistent approach.

The committee in its 26th report tabled in Parliament yesterday has pointed out several shortcomings and irregularities in the implementation of the “Development of tourism infrastructure” scheme started by the Tourism Ministry.

Besides Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, the other states which have been found to be lacking in the implementation of the scheme are Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.

In the report the committee has recommended immediate lifting of the moratorium on LTC to government servants for promoting domestic tourists. While noting that a new National Tourism Policy (NTP) was being finalised, the committee said the vital question of tourism promotion as an industry needed to be addressed in entirety.

The PAC said as part of the “Development of tourism infrastructure scheme, of the 158 projects sanctioned 119 of these costing Rs.25.02 crore, had not been completed mainly due to lax implementation and monitoring. There was a time overrun of between four and 51 months in completion of the remaining 39 projects.

Even of the 39 completed projects, only 28 were actually commissioned. “It is further disquieting to note that many of the commissioned projects are not being used for promotion of tourism due to one or the other reasons,” the committee pointed out.

The committee’s examination revealed that the ministry sanctioned 158 projects for Rs 31.68 crore and released Rs 15.82 crore to eight states that were ineligible to receive the assistance as they did not meet the pre-condition laid down with respect to availability of land.

The representatives of the ministry conceded during evidence that in many cases the land could not be made available because the Revenue Department was not able to give the land or due to some difficulties with the Forest Department.

The committee was surprised that despite the requirement of submitting the project proposals in the prescribed form along with a certificate to the effect that the developed piece of land was readily available and the same was in possession of the Tourism Department of the state government and the land would be transferred in favour of the Government of India free of cost, the actual progress of the projects was delayed or the projects could not take off because of disputes in the transfer of land.

The committee said it was unable to accept the contention of the minister that there was no justification for further verification of the information furnished by the State Tourism Department in view of the protracted delays and wrangles in the transfer of land.

The committee saw no reason as to why the scheme could be suitably retailored to ensure its transfer to the Government or even to the local authority or the community so as to make accommodation available to tourists.

A test-check of these projects by the audit revealed that as against the stipulation for completion of the approved projects within 30 months, in respect of 67 projects, there was delay in implementation ranging from 14 to 64 months which was attributed to non-availability of land in case of 39 projects, change in the design/estimates in 12 projects, late award of work in six projects, project being commercially not viable in the three projects and dispute with executing agencies in one project.Top

 

Clinical trials on humans suspended 

New Delhi, December 12
Declaring that people cannot be treated as guinea pigs, the government today ordered suspension of all clinical trials on human beings at Regional Cancer Centre (RCC), Thiruvananthapuram, for a period of six months.

The decision by Health Minister C.P. Thakur was taken after considering the reply of Regional Cancer Centre to a show cause notice sent to it in the wake of the controversy over trials of anti-cancer drugs M4N and G4N carried out by the Centre early this year.

Dr Thakur also ordered that after completion of the ban period, all clinical trials at the Centre would be reviewed as per law and permission granted only for those which had been cleared by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) and the Health Ministry’s Screening Committee.

An official statement said the RCC had been advised to reconstitute the Ethics Committee by co-opting a member from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).

Earlier this year the Central Government had suspended the anti-cancer drug trials at the RCC, Thiruvananthapuram, after a probe found lapses in respect of regulatory procedures needed for such trials.

A Central team of experts was deputed to investigate into the complaints about use of the allegedly banned drug in clinical trials during November 1999 to April 2000 on 25 patients at the institute. PTITop

 

No CBI probe into tuskers’ killing: CM
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, December 12
The Chief Minister of Uttaranchal, Mr Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, has ruled out CBI inquiry into the killing of two tuskers at Rajaji National Park. Talking to mediapersons here this evening, he said the government had already ordered probe into the incident and there was no need of a CBI probe.

He did not rule out the possibility of local people being involved in poaching activities apart from the forest officials. A forest ranger has already been suspended and efforts are on to involve local people in providing information on poaching.

A reward of Rs 50,000 has already been announced by the state government to those who provides information regarding poachers.

He also advocated the formation of a Himalayan development council and demanded from the Union Government that efforts should be initiated immediately to form such council for overall development of the Himalayan areas. These areas have been neglected for decades, he said.

He reiterated his stand on commissioning of the Tehri Dam project which was in the larger interest of the nation. He claimed that 600 entrepreneurs and businessmen had willingly offered to demolish their shops and other buildings in order to start construction work on the dam. No one had so far opposed the shutting down of tunnels no. 3 and 4 to fill the dam, he said.Top

 

Uttaranchal’s Annual Plan okayed
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, December 12
The Planning Commission has approved the Annual Plan of Uttaranchal of Rs 1050 crore for the current financial year.

Stating this, Mr Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Finance Minister of the State, said the approved Plan includes Rs 550 crore of Centrally-sponsored schemes. Apart from this, Rs 11 crore have been approved to upgrade the Dehra Dun (Jollygrant) airport. The Planning Commission has also promised to release Rs 10 crore for the preparations for the Kumbh Mela.

The Chief Minister of Uttaranchal, Mr Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, who met Mr K.C. Pant, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, at New Delhi yesterday, had also demanded additional funds to protect the lives of wild animals in the forest reserves of the states. Although no fixed amount has been promised by the Planning Commission for this purpose, the state has been assured that every possible financial help would be made to protect wildlife.

Mr Pant has asked the state government to mobilise its own resources in order to meet the challenges of development. He specifically stressed upon exploiting the horticulture and agriculture sectors to boost the agro-economy. He has also asked the state government to formulate a separate infrastructure development policy for Hardwar.

It is worth mentioning that the state Legislative Assembly earlier approved a Rs 1429-crore Annual Plan for the current financial year which was reduced to Rs 1050 crore by the Planning Commission. But the CM today claimed that the gap would be filled by Centrally-assisted schemes.Top

 

Season’s first snowfall in Uttaranchal
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, December 12
The upper Himalayan region of Uttaranchal witnessed season’s first snowfall last night. In many places light showers have been reported. According to the reports available from Meteorological Department, Kalapani, Nabhidhang, Hemkund Sahib, upper areas of Harsil and the road leading to Mansarovar witnessed heavy snowfall disrupting the life.

Panchachuli, Hansling, Khaliatop and Kalamuni hills have been covered with a thick layer of snow. Many other parts of Kumaon also witnessed snowfall.

Reports from Garhwal reveal that in Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath life was disrupted due to heavy rainfall followed by snowfall. The minimum temperatures in the areas have gone down to 2° C. Dehra Dun recorded 8 °C and Mussoorie 4.5 °C.Top

 

Sharad Pawar turns 61

Mumbai, December 12
The 61st birthday celebrations of Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) supremo Sharad Pawar started this morning with the former Defence Minister cutting a 610-kg S-shaped chocolate cake, prepared by his party workers, at the party office in Nariman Point here.

Mr Pawar, accompanied by his wife Pratibha and granddaughter Revati, visited the NCP state headquarters at Nariman Point here where he was received by state NCP president Babanrao Pachpute and Maharashtra Minister Dilip Valse-Patil. UNI
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NHPC sets record
Our Correspondent

Dalhousie, December 12
The NHPC has set a record by completing a 21-km tunnel of the ongoing 300 MW Chamera hydel project (Stage-II) on the Ravi in Chamba district within time of two years, eight months ahead of schedule.

Stating this here today, Mr S.K. Dodeja, Executive Director of the NHPC, said this was a major achievement by way of faster drilling and blasting methods and the project would be completed by 2003, much ahead of schedule.
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NATIONAL BRIEFS

RARE KEYHOLE SURGERY PERFORMED
COIMBATORE: In a rare surgery at a city-based hi-tech hospital, a 42-year-old foreigner was recently operated for liver cancer using the modern keyhole technique called laparoscopy which avoids loss of blood to the minimum. The operation was performed on Rahim, a Saudi Arabian national, said Dr Palanivelu of Gem Hospital. The patient could, a day after the five-hour surgery, walk around. UNI

FORMER ANDHRA CM FOUND GUILTY
ALLAHABAD:
In a significant judgement, the Allahabad High Court has held former Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister T Vengal Rao guilty of criminal contempt of court for claiming in his biography that a judge had made advanced disclosure to Jayaprakash Narayan about the judgement setting aside the election of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975. The judgement was delivered by a Division Bench of the court comprising Justice B.K. Roy and Justice P.K. Jain. PTI

3 SHOT DEAD AT MCC ‘JAN ADALAT’
RAIPUR:
Activists of banned Naxalite outfit Maoist Communist Centre (MCC) have shot dead three persons allegedly for looting people in the name of Naxalites in Sarguja district of Chhattisgarh, bordering Jharkhand, the police said on Wednesday. The MCC had produced the three before a ‘jan adalat’ (public court) held at Bhagabanpur on Monday, the Sarguja police said. PTI

ELEPHANT FOUND DEAD
DEHRA DUN:
An elephant was found dead in the forests of Paterpani under the Kalagarh Tiger Reserve. Rumours of death of a tiger in the Adnala forest under the same range is also making rounds among the local people. The Uttaranchal Chief Warden, Mr A.S. Negi, has confirmed the death of an elephant but denied the death of any tiger. The Director of Corbett Park said the elephant was killed by a tiger probably two days back. UNI

PONDY DY SPEAKER ASSUMES CHARGE
PONDICHERRY:
A.V. Subramanian on Wednesday assumed charge as Deputy Speaker of the territorial Assembly of Pondicherry after being unanimously elected to the post. Subramanian’s election was announced by Speaker D. Ramachandran when the session began here. PTI

ANCIENT IDOLS STOLEN
MADURAI:
In the second such incident in two days here, ancient idols, stated to be worth about Rs 20 lakhs, were stolen from a 400-year-old Vishnu temple at Naranammalpuram in Tirunelvli district, the police said on Wednesday. The idols were found missing when the priest of the temple, dedicated to lord Venkateswara, opened it for morning pooja Tuesday morning, the police added. All doors leading to the sanctum sanctorum were found broken open. PTI 
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