SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Sen’s Mission Washington is to boost strategic ties
Richard Armitage in Delhi
New Delhi, July 13
India’s Ambassador-designate to the United States Ronen Sen today said his mission in Washington would be to strengthen Indo-US relations “in all its facets and dimensions in a strategic perspective”.

Indo-Pak composite talks from July 28
New Delhi, July 13
India and Pakistan today agreed to the schedule of official-level talks on six of the eight outstanding issues of composite dialogue from July 28, but the dates of Foreign Ministers’ meeting here are yet to be worked out.

Former Miss India and Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia
Former Miss India and Bollywood actress Neha Dhupia during a photo session to promote her forthcoming film "Julie", in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI

 

 

EARLIER STORIES

 

Cong non-cooperative: Mulayam
UP Congress submits memo to Governor
Lucknow, July 13
The battlelines were clearly drawn today. While UP Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav charged the Congress at the Centre with non-cooperation with his government, the state Congress launched a statewide offensive against the Samajwadi Party by submitting a resolution to the Governor protesting against the worsening law and order situation, erratic power supply and a host of other problems.

Hannah FosterCash award for murder suspect’s arrest
New Delhi, July 13
Making an impassioned appeal to the “conscience and moral decency” of Indians, British citizens Trevor and Hillary Foster have announced a cash purse of Rs 50 lakh for clues leading to the arrest of Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, the man suspected of brutally killing their daughter.

BJP demands status quo on waters row
Decision ominous, says CPM
New Delhi, July 13
The BJP today demanded that the UPA government should take immediate steps to maintain “status quo” in the wake of a “Constitutional crisis” triggered with the passage of a Bill in the Punjab Assembly terminating the water-sharing agreements.

Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,
Leader of the Opposition L.K. Advani and BJP President M. Venkaiah Naidu at the BJP parliamentary party meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday.
Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan (left) being greeted by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy
Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan (left) being greeted by Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Jaipal Reddy at a Press conference of the 15th Fukuoka Asian Culture Prizes-2004, in New Delhi on Tuesday. West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is also seen in the picture.
Monsoon clouds hover over the Parliament House
Monsoon clouds hover over the Parliament House in New Delhi on Tuesday. — PTI photos

Punjab action unsustainable: experts

Several water projects pending in Punjab, Haryana
New Delhi, July 13
The delay in completion of various irrigation projects in Punjab and Haryana has perpetuated the water crisis over the years though politicians continue to focus on the controversial Satluj-Yamuna Link canal project.

Want exotic pets? Visit Chennai
Chennai, July 13
Chennai is the place to look for pets forbidden by law. Want to keep a panther as a pet? Come here. It will cost you only Rs 25,000. Want to be majestic and flaunt the National Bird of India on your manicured lawn? A peacock will be available for only Rs 3000. And many more.

Centre plans steps to tackle drought
New Delhi, July 13
As the prospects of drought loom large over several parts of the country, the Centre is planning contingency measures to meet any eventuality.

Bilkis files fresh plea for case transfer
New Delhi, July 13
Gujarat riot victim Bilkis Yakub Rasool, who was allegedly subjected to gang rape in the post-Godhra violence in Dahod district and faced humiliation at the hands of the police thereafter, today filed an amended petition in the Supreme Court for transfer of her case outside the state.

BJP to corner govt on Telgi, NCERT
New Delhi, July 13
After targeting the UPA government over “tainted” ministers and Governors issues, the BJP today decided to corner the Congress-led ruling coalition over the alleged “involvement” of its leaders in the Telgi scam and “communistisation” of NCERT textbooks. In video (28k, 56k)

Left not to rock govt on FDI hike
New Delhi, July 13
Ruling out the apprehension that Left parties’ opposition to the hike in FDI cap would destabilise the Dr Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, the CPM today said it would not bring cut motion on the Finance Bill.

Apang, Patil meet President
New Delhi, July 13
The political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh continued today even as State Chief Minister Gegong Apang and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil meeting President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam separately.

Maharashtra seeks home for leopards
Mumbai, July 13
After having trapped 10 leopards under the glare of media, the Maharashtra Government faces a new problem: finding suitable accommodation for the big cats.

Gangotri turns into dump yard
Dehra Dun, July 13
With tens of thousands of kanwarias dumping garbage at Gangotri, the glacier has become littered. Situated at a height of 3024 metres above sea level, the glacier draws thousands of kanwarias every year.

Videos
Togadia lashes out at AP Government for providing 5 pc reservation to Muslims.
(28k, 56k)
Six killed in militant attacks in Tripura.
(28k, 56k)
Hindu epics recreated in braille for the visually impaired.
(28k, 56k)

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Sen’s Mission Washington is to boost strategic ties
Richard Armitage in Delhi
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
India’s Ambassador-designate to the United States Ronen Sen today said his mission in Washington would be to strengthen Indo-US relations “in all its facets and dimensions in a strategic perspective”.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Mr Sen said: “My overall objective as Indian Ambassador in the US would be to strengthen Indo-US relations in all its facets and dimensions in a strategic perspective. This would be a long-term perspective which is not shaped by transient or tactical considerations but on mutual understanding of each other’s concerns and aspirations and mutual benefit to both countries.”

The US Government concurrence of New Delhi’s decision to appoint Mr Sen as Indian envoy in Washington is expected “within a day or two”, sources said. As the US concurrence did not come today, it was decided that Mr Sen would not join talks with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage who arrived here this evening for talks with the Indian leadership tomorrow.

Mr Armitage leaves for Pakistan tomorrow evening. Mr Armitage’s visit is the first by a middle-level American functionary since the UPA government assumed office here.

It is understood that during Mr Armitage’s talks with External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh, National Security Advisor J N Dixit (as well as during his courtesy call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), the focus will be on bilateral meetings.

Pakistan would come up during discussions but briefly, authoritative sources said.

Mr Sen too drove home this point during his interview with The Tribune. Asked to spell out his top priority in Washington, he replied: “One specific area where I will attach high priority will be in adding a new content to our economic relationship in terms of trade, investment and cooperation in science and technology. Even within these fields the special focus will be on areas which benefit both countries, including meeting the social objectives of creation of employment and enhancing living standards in India.”

Mr Sen asserted that India’s foreign policy was not Pakistan-centric.

He expressed surprise over undue attention given to Indo-Pak issues even in India’s discussions with other countries.

“I find it strange that in our media, attention is almost solely predominantly focussed on Indo-Pak as it figures in any bilateral discussions between our leadership and the leaderships of the other country. Considering that leaders abroad are increasingly visiting India not in a sub-regional context but in a larger, global perspective engaging in long-term partnership with India, together with China and Russia.”

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Indo-Pak composite talks from July 28
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
India and Pakistan today agreed to the schedule of official-level talks on six of the eight outstanding issues of composite dialogue from July 28, but the dates of Foreign Ministers’ meeting here are yet to be worked out.

The Ministry of External Affairs spokesman took care not to announce the dates of meeting between External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri in New Delhi next month and merely announced “the first set of dates” at his briefing this evening.

However, the Pakistani Foreign Office spokesman, Mr Masood Khan, was not so circumspect and he announced that the Foreign Ministers’ meeting would take place in Islamabad on August 25.

Top sources here told The Tribune that the Foreign Ministers’ meeting dates were “still being worked out”. They admitted that August 25 was one of the dates being considered, but cautioned that a final decision in this regard was yet to be taken.

The Tribune understands that the Foreign Ministers’ meeting next month would be held in New Delhi and in Islamabad as announced by the Pakistani spokesman.

A day before the Foreign Ministers’ meeting, the Foreign Secretaries would meet to prepare a broad agenda of issues to be taken by the Foreign Ministers. Mr Natwar Singh and Mr Kasuri are also scheduled to meet each other in Islamabad next week on the sidelines of a SAARC ministerial meet.

The dates of six meetings, announced by the foreign office here and agreed by both the countries are as follows:

July 28 and 29: Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, to be held in Islamabad.

August 3 and 4: On promotion of friendly exchanges, to be held in New Delhi.

August 5 and 6: On Siachen, to be held in New Delhi.

August 6 and 7: On Sir Creek, to be held in New Delhi.

August 10 and 11: On terrorism and drug trafficking, to be held in Islamabad.

August 11 and 12: On economic and commercial cooperation, to be held in Islamabad.

Talks on these issues are being held soon after Foreign Secretary-level discussions between Mr Shashank and Mr Riaz Khokhar on Kashmir and peace and security, including Confidence-Building Measures (CBMs) and Expert level talks on nuclear CBMs.

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Cong non-cooperative: Mulayam
UP Congress submits memo to Governor
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 13
The battlelines were clearly drawn today. While UP Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav charged the Congress at the Centre with non-cooperation with his government, the state Congress launched a statewide offensive against the Samajwadi Party by submitting a resolution to the Governor protesting against the worsening law and order situation, erratic power supply and a host of other problems.

Addressing the Press at the end of the two-day state executive committee meeting of his party, Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav pointed out that despite UP being at the centre of national politics and sending Prime Ministers for 45 of the 57 years since Independence, the state remained backward and deprived of the basic infrastructural facilities. It was to rectify this situation that he had met the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister to ask for a Rs 18230-crore special package for the state.

Sharing his disappointment at the Centre “overlooking the interest of the people of the UP” in the 2004-2005 Budget, he accused the Central Government of giving step-motherly treatment and demanded an economic package for UP, besides a Rs 500-crore package for the sugarcane farmers.

Later in the day, the state Congress chief, Mr Jagdambika Pal, accompanied by senior party colleagues met Governor T.V. Rajeswar at Raj Bhavan to submit a six-point memorandum, drawing his attention to the worsening law and order situation, erratic power supply and the problems of sugarcane farmers.

Among the other problems highlighted in the memorandum is the backdoor reinstallation of the dropped ministers as the heads of corporations, burdening the state’s meager resources. It also drew the attention of the Governor to the thriving transfer industry in the state.

Besides the two major parties publicly crossing swords, the state CPI has also announced a statewide campaign from July 25 to July 31.

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Cash award for murder suspect’s arrest
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
Making an impassioned appeal to the “conscience and moral decency” of Indians, British citizens Trevor and Hillary Foster have announced a cash purse of Rs 50 lakh for clues leading to the arrest of Maninder Pal Singh Kohli, the man suspected of brutally killing their daughter.

Hannah Foster was abducted from a street near her home in Southampton, London. Her body was recovered a day later in Allington Lane. Post-mortem reports indicated rape and strangulation.

Distraught parents of Hannah, a “promising young girl of 17, who hoped to become a doctor” are in the country to elicit help from people and the authorities to arrest Kohli, who raped and killed her almost 16 months ago.

Addressing the media here today, the Fosters implored the people of the country to “examine your conscience and ask yourself whether it is right that the murder should go unpunished”.

Breaking down several times, the couple made an appeal to the “strong sense of moral decency and belief in justice in the people of the country”.

Headed for Chandigarh where they are hoping to meet with senior police officials as well the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Fosters also told the media that they were still awaiting a response from the offices of the Chief Minister and the Minister of State for External Affairs.

The Fosters have sought a meeting with the minister, but are yet to receive a confirmation. The couple is hopeful that the Indian police forces will help them trace Kohli who fled to India after committing the heinous crime.

Kohli, who is currently in hiding, was reported to have come “home”, in Chandigarh, managed to flee before the India police could lay its hands on him.

The Fosters have also set up a hotline for those wishing to provide any clues about Kohli. The hotline, which has been set up with the aid of Mr Fosters employers, British Gas, is toll free and will run independently of the Indian police.

The identity of the callers will be kept confidential and calls will be identified by means of a unique caller reference number, which can be used by callers to make further contact or to claim their cash prize.

For those calling from a BSNL network, the number to be dialled is 1600-12-1233 and from other networks the number is 01245047848. Those calling from the United Kingdom have to ring 08000329937.

While the parents are awaiting justice for the gruesome murder of their eldest child who was then 17, they are not spelling out the punishment they deem fit for the culprit who showed Hannah no mercy.

On being asked whether they would demand death penalty for Kohli, the Fosters insisted on “him being caught first”.

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BJP demands status quo on waters row
Decision ominous, says CPM
Tribune Reporters

New Delhi, July 13
The BJP today demanded that the UPA government should take immediate steps to maintain “status quo” in the wake of a “Constitutional crisis” triggered with the passage of a Bill in the Punjab Assembly terminating the water-sharing agreements.

“We have asked the Prime Minister to ensure that status quo ante is maintained,” Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha L.K. Advani told reporters after meeting Dr Manmohan Singh on the issue. He was accompanied by Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee was also present at the meeting.

“Our primary concern is that this kind of unilateral decision by a state government does not become a precedent and does not result in similar decisions in other states...There should be an effort to resolve this crisis immediately,” Mr Advani said.

We have tried to impress upon the Prime Minister that first “status quo” should be ensured and then effort should be made immediately to resolve the crisis amicably.

“We have assured full cooperation in the matter to the Centre and we are glad that the Prime Minister shared our concerns and assured that he would be calling the Chief Ministers to Delhi to discuss the issue,” he said.

He, however, insisted that it was the responsibility of the Centre to take an initiative to solve this problem. “If there was a need to approach the Supreme Court, that could also be done,” he suggested.

On BJP MPs from Punjab also supporting the state government on the issue, he said “we aren’t looking at it

from the party angle. It is an inter-state problem and whatever decision is reached by the government, it will be supported by all parties.”

Meanwhile, the Punjab Government’s decision to terminate water-sharing agreements with other northern states came in for strong criticism from the Communist Party of India (Marxist), which described the move as “very ominous” for the federal structure.

Addressing mediapersons, party leaders Nilotpal Basu and Basudeb Acharia said: “The Assembly of one state cannot legislate on issues which impinge on the rights of other states.”

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Punjab action unsustainable: experts
S. S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 13
The Punjab Assembly resolution terminating the river waters accords with Haryana and Rajasthan has been described by constitutional experts as “unsustainable” in the eyes of the law and an exercise driven by “political consideration”.

“Under the constitutional provisions a state assembly has no power to unilaterally terminate any inter-state accord entered in under the supervision of the Centre; such power is vested only in Parliament under Article 262,” former Additional Solicitor-General C. S. Vaidyanathan says.

There are three important aspects involved in this matter: The Punjab Assembly’s jurisdiction, which does not extend beyond its boundary, while the accord is multilateral with Haryana and Rajasthan; the matter falls strictly under the jurisdiction of only the inter-state water disputes tribunal; and, most importantly, the legislature has no authority under the Constitution to assume judicial powers to negate the court verdicts on the issue, he says.

Former Lok Sabha Secretary-General Subhash C. Kashyap, considered an authority on the Constitution, also endorses the view of Mr Vaidyanathan, saying: “I don’t think under the constitutional provision a state assembly can annul any accord entered in with another state unilaterally.”

Apart from terminating the river waters-sharing accord with Haryana and Rajasthan, the resolution passed by the Punjab Assembly has “certain objectionable references relating to negating the orders passed by the court. This makes the situation peculiar and it has to be decided by the Supreme Court whether a state assembly can act in this manner,” he says.

While Mr Vaidyanathan says the matter should be referred to the Supreme Court as there is no chance of it being resolved “politically”, Mr Kashyap says an identical issue relating to the Tamil Nadu Assembly’s resolution on reservation is already pending before a nine-Judge Constitution Bench.

Describing the action of the Punjab Government to get such a resolution passed as “against the basic fundamentals of the Constitution”, Dr Kashyap says if the Union Government and the governments of the states concerned could not resolve the issue, the only forum to decide it would be the Supreme Court, which has refused to accept the Tamil Nadu Assembly resolution and its placement in the 9th Schedule by Parliament.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly in 1993 had passed a resolution enhancing the reservation limit to 69 per cent in the state to “circumvent” the Supreme Court ruling fixing the maximum limit at 50 per cent in the aftermath of the implementation of the Mandal Commission report.

The apex court had subsequently referred the matter to a nine-Judge Constitution Bench, which has yet to give its ruling whether such an action by a state assembly is tenable or not, Dr Kashyap points out.

The Punjab Assembly’s resolution is also seen by legal experts as an attempt by the state government to “circumvent” the Supreme Court’s June 4 judgement, directing the Centre to construct the unfinished portion of the Sutlej-Yamuna link (SYL) canal.

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Several water projects pending in Punjab, Haryana
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
The delay in completion of various irrigation projects in Punjab and Haryana has perpetuated the water crisis over the years though politicians continue to focus on the controversial Satluj-Yamuna Link canal project.

According to information collected from the Ministry of Water Resources, 180 irrigation projects have been pending in different stages across the country for implementation though these have been cleared by the Central government for funding. Among these are three projects in Haryana and eight in Punjab.

The Punjab Irrigation and Drainage Project (Phase III), a major irrigation project, submitted in 1998, is still under the first stage of appraisal.

Punjab had also submitted proposals for a medium irrigation project — raising of the lining/banks of the Sirhind feeder canal in 2001 amounting Rs 13 crore at the initial stage and rehabilitation of channels of the first Patiala feeder and Kotla branches amounting to Rs 49 crore. These projects are still under the first stage of appraisal.

Union Minister of Water Resources Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, in a written reply submitted to the Lok Sabha said in Punjab, the water level had fallen by more than four metres in various parts of Amritsar, Bathinda, Fategarh Sahib, Mansa, Patiala and Sangrur districts over the past 10 years.

In Haryana, out of 19 districts, the water level has fallen by over four metres in its 15 districts. Large scale cultivation of paddy in the state has perpetuated the crisis.

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Want exotic pets? Visit Chennai
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 13
Chennai is the place to look for pets forbidden by law.

Want to keep a panther as a pet? Come here. It will cost you only Rs 25,000. Want to be majestic and flaunt the National Bird of India on your manicured lawn? A peacock will be available for only Rs 3000. And many more.

All are fresh from the jungle and will be delivered to you, of course with transportation charges included at any place in India.

Traffickers in endangered species in Punjab and Haryana only deal with pheasants and partridges, which actually reach the dining table of the rich.

But here in South India, hunting has never been a popular game like it is in Punjab. People here love to keep exotic pets. And if there is demand, there is supply also.

The People for Animals (PFA), an animal rights group, recently conducted a sting operation at a shop almost hidden behind a row of vendors in the local Old Moore Market, which sells chickens. Sheikh Mujib’s run-down shop will never impress you but it is here that business worth millions of rupees was transacted each month till the Tamil Nadu wildlife authorities and the Chennai city police carried out raids recently.

They have been smuggling rare wildlife from various parts of the country and offering endangered animals and birds. All are procured by poachers and delivered by their agents.

“You name any wild animal and Mujib will have it procured for you. He never failed,” said Antony Rubin, a college student and the PFA volunteer, who acted as the decoy.

Rubin said he came to know of Mujib’s dealings when he was tipped off that Mujib had struck a deal for selling a panther for Rs 25,000 to a customer a few weeks ago. He immediately apprised Dr Sukhdev, Chief Wildlife Warden and Mr C. Sylendra Babu, Joint Commissioner of Police (Chennai north), of his plans for a sting operation.

Rubin walked into Mujib’s shop one day and sought a peacock. The dealer quoted Rs 3,500 and asked for two weeks’ time but settled for Rs 3,000. An “advance” of Rs 500 was paid.

On the agreed day of delivery, Mujib informed Rubin that the bird was available. Rubin arrived at the shop, trailed by personnel from the Wildlife Department and some plainclothesmen.

While the deal was being clinched, the law enforcers rounded up Mujib and raided his shop. Apart from the peacock, 50 munias — small, multicoloured birds that are known to thrive only in the wild — and seven Alexandrian parakeets were seized. Mujib was arrested.

“Such animals were being brought to the shop from places like Kerala, Hyderabad, Nagercoil and Virudhunagar. We also learnt that Mujib’s customers were spread all over the city,” says Rubin.

“We believe Mujib is only one of many such traders in the city but he is the kingpin. We have put a few others under surveillance too. Offences under the Wildlife Protection Act can attract a maximum of seven years imprisonment. We are determined to put an end to this racket,” says Mr K.S.S.V.P. Reddy, Wildlife Warden for Greater Chennai, who took the seized birds into custody.

The authorities are also considering prosecuting wildlife traders under the Goondas Act, Mr Reddy said. Those who possess such wild animals have been asked to hand them over immediately to the wildlife authorities, otherwise they will be charged under non-bailable sections and fined Rs 10,000.

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Centre plans steps to tackle drought
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
As the prospects of drought loom large over several parts of the country, the Centre is planning contingency measures to meet any eventuality.

“Today, we had a meeting, it is an advance preparation for those areas were rainfall is less. We looked at the stock of grains and allocations made”, Cabinet Secretary B.K Chaturvedi told reporters here today.

However, the Met department projected a picture of hope. IMD Deputy Director General Dr S.K Subramaniam said “a low pressure area has formed over the Bay of Bengal and it was giving good rains in the east and central India and moving towards north-west and the system will take two to three days to reach Delhi.”

Agriculture Secretary Radha Singh said the Met department had forecast that the monsoon revival was expected around July 16 but “a forecast is a forecast, it may or may not happen”.

The Cabinet Secretary, after holding a meeting with secretaries of key ministries, said discussions revolved around how best to tackle the situation of deficient monsoon if the need arises.

Radha Singh said the meeting was for stock taking and each ministry had been asked to chalk out its action plan as a precautionary measure.

She said others who attended the meeting included secretaries of the departments of Food, Drinking Water, Women and Child Welfare and Rural Development.

Official in the agriculture ministry said situation is alarming in some pockets but revival of monsoon is not very far. If revival takes place, this deficiency would be wiped out in most of the areas, but few areas would still remain deficient in rains.

Still a major part of monsoon season was remaining, they said.

From agriculture point of view, there may be some areas where re-sowing would be needed which brings down productivity and increases cost for farmers, they said.

Deficiency, however, does not mean that there was no rain in these areas. The country as a whole has recorded 10 per cent deficiency, they said.

Mr Chaturvedi said during the meeting officials looked at the preparations made by the Ministry of Agriculture and whether any other preparations were required to be made.

“The fall-back contingency plan is only precautionary in nature, if there are no rains. We cannot keep waiting for the last rains”, Radha Singh added.

Under the action plan, the ministry has prepared a list of crops which can be sown in various deficient regions if the rains do not arrive on July 15. Similar lists have also been prepared to tackle the failure of monsoon on July 30, she said.

However, if the deficiency in rainfall persists till August 15, employment guarantee and drought relief programmes will have to be implemented in the areas concerned.

The five deficient regions identified are Rajasthan, west Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Telangana and Marathwada.

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Uproar in LS

New Delhi, July 13
The Lok Sabha today witnessed uproarious scenes over the prevailing drought-like conditions in Maharashtra and Rajasthan with angry members of Shiv Sena and BJP demanding a statement from the Prime Minister.

Immediately after the House assembled in the morning today, members of the Shiv Sena and BJP started raising slogans against the UPA government for not ensuring relief to farmers in Maharashtra and water supply in Rajasthan.

Demanding suspension of question hour, the members trooped to the well of the House even as a determined Speaker Somnath Chatterjee refused to accept the demand.

The Speaker said the members would be allowed to raise the issue during zero hour. Despite repeated requests by the Speaker to resume their seats, the members continued to raise slogans. — TNS

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Bilkis files fresh plea for case transfer
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 13
Gujarat riot victim Bilkis Yakub Rasool, who was allegedly subjected to gang rape in the post-Godhra violence in Dahod district and faced humiliation at the hands of the police thereafter, today filed an amended petition in the Supreme Court for transfer of her case outside the state.

The court had yesterday given her liberty to file a fresh petition in this regard after making all 20 accused, including six police personnel and two doctors, respondents.

The court could not entertain her application yesterday because she had not named the accused as respondents, a necessary requirement under the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC).

Bilkis, who had survived a murderous attempt after she allegedly was gang-raped with some other women of Panivela village, had lost seven members of her family in the violence that had claimed 14 lives when she, along with her neighbours, was fleeing to safety.

Solicitor-General G. E. Vahanvatti had told the court that the CBI in its charge sheet had stated that the police officials and the local doctors had connived with the accused to hush up the matter.

Bilkis was the second woman after Zahira Sheikh to have the courage to move the apex court for justice after she failed to get it from the local authorities. Her was the first riot case in Gujarat ordered to be probed by the CBI on Supreme Court directions.

She has sought the transfer of the trial in her case outside Gujarat on the ground that she has no faith left in the state authorities.

The Supreme Court had earlier transferred the Best Bakery case on the plea of Zahira Sheikh to Maharashtra for fresh trial after a trial court and high court in Gujarat had let off all 21 accused. Zahira had lost nine members of her family in the Best Bakery massacre.

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BJP to corner govt on Telgi, NCERT
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
After targeting the UPA government over “tainted” ministers and Governors issues, the BJP today decided to corner the Congress-led ruling coalition over the alleged “involvement” of its leaders in the Telgi scam and “communistisation” of NCERT textbooks.

The BJP Parliamentary Party meeting, chaired by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee also decided to put the government on the mat on its “anti-people, anti-labour and anti-farmer” Budget and reported recommendation by Tourism Minister Renuka Chowdhary for purchase of a Russian gun.

Mr Vajpayee told the meeting attended by party President M. Venkaiah Naidu and Leader of Opposition L.K. Advani that the Budget gives an opportunity to the Opposition to analyse the government’s policies and highlight its “weaknesses”, BJP Parliamentary Party spokesman V.K. Malhotra told reporters after the hour-long meeting.

The former Prime Minister asked the MPs to come prepared to the Parliament to effectively put across their views, he said.

The meeting observed that “revelations” in the Telgi scam had pointed to “involvement of Congress leaders from top to bottom, including ministers,” Mr Malhotra said, without naming anybody.

He said the party decided to highlight the issue in both Houses of Parliament and across the country.

The BJP also decided to rake up the issue of “communistisation” of NCERT textbooks “under the influence of Left parties” and “increased” dangers posed to the internal security.

Taking note of the reported letter from Ms Renuka Chowdhary to Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee recommending purchase of a Russian gun, the BJP leaders felt that she was “acting as an agent of arms dealer despite being a minister”, Mr Malhotra said adding it would also be raised in the Parliament.

On the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Telecom, Civil Aviation and Insurance sector, Mr Malhotra said the issue would be first debated in the party forum and subsequently with other alliance partners of the NDA to formulate its stand on it in the Parliament.

The decision of the party for a debate on the issue comes in the wake of sharp differences within the party on the issue. While a section of BJP leaders, especially former Union Minister Arun Jaitley and Yashwant Sinha are in favour of FDI in these sectors, while others are totally opposed to such a major leverage for FDI in these three crucial sectors.

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NCERT Director
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
Prof H.P. Dikshit, Vice-Chancellor of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), has been given the additional charge as the Director of the National Council for Educational Training and Research (NCERT).

Prof Dikshit will take over the charge from Prof J.S. Rajput who resigned from the Director’s post seeking pre-mature retirement.

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Left not to rock govt on FDI hike
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
Ruling out the apprehension that Left parties’ opposition to the hike in FDI cap would destabilise the Dr Manmohan Singh-led UPA government, the CPM today said it would not bring cut motion on the Finance Bill.

“But we will not do anything to bring BJP back to power,” the CPM leaders Nilotpal Basu, Basudeb Acharia, and Rupchand Pal said.

The leaders indicated that talks were on with the leaders of the Congress-led UPA government to resolve the imbarlingo.

The leaders, however, said that they would oppose any legislation to hike FDI cap in telecom, insurance and civil aviation sectors in Parliament.

“The move to raise FDI in these sectors was a non-budget item and the government would have to bring amending legislations to bring them into effect. We will seek a division and oppose if such legislations were brought,” Mr Basu said. 

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Apang, Patil meet President
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 13
The political crisis in Arunachal Pradesh continued today even as State Chief Minister Gegong Apang and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil meeting President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam separately.

Mr Patil is understood to have met the President to uprise him of the political situation in Arunachal Pradesh, including the contradictory reports sent by the Governor to the Centre.

It could not be confirmed whether or not Mr Patil discussed the issue of removal of Governor V.C. Pande with the President.

Mr Apang, who has been running from pillar to post to save his government, met the President to plead not to remove Governor V.C. Pande or impose President’s rule.

He also submitted a video CD purportedly showing ex-MLAs led by APCC chief Mukut Methi putting pressure on Mr Pande to recommend President’s rule following dissolution of the state Assembly on July 7.

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Maharashtra seeks home for leopards
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 13
After having trapped 10 leopards under the glare of media, the Maharashtra Government faces a new problem: finding suitable accommodation for the big cats.

In all, the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) authorities have 26 leopards with them — the remaining animals brought in from other parts of Maharashtra where they came into contact with humanbeings living on the periphery of forests.

Officials say contrary to earlier expectations it is not possible to release the animals in the wild immediately. Echoing the concerns of environmental groups, forest officials admit that most trapped animals have received injuries during capture. “Many of them have lost their teeth and it may not be possible for them to be released into the wild,” a senior government official said.

The leopards were trapped in cages with dogs and other small animals as bait. The trapped animals hurt themselves after banging their heads on the cages while trying to escape.

SGNP officials say most trapped animals are either too old or too young to catch prey normally. The authorities may now have to find shelters for the animals for the rest of their lives. The Maharashtra Government is also examining suggestions that a shelter for the animals be built in a section of the national park itself.

With leopards and panthers attacking people living in and around the national park, the Maharashtra Government was under pressure to trap some of the animals and release them elsewhere. At least 40 leopards were estimated to be in the 103 square metre area park — too much for the existing prey base to support, according to forest officials.

In all, 14 persons, including young children, have been killed by leopards in and around Mumbai this year. Most victims were either living illegally inside the national park or were living in its periphery.

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Gangotri turns into dump yard
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, July 13
With tens of thousands of kanwarias dumping garbage at Gangotri, the glacier has become littered. Situated at a height of 3024 metres above sea level, the glacier draws thousands of kanwarias every year.

Lakhs of kanwarias from Rajasthan, UP, Bihar, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh have come to Hardwar for the annual Neelkanth yatra. A large number of them have reached Gangotri to get holy waters.

The pilgrims, however, have left behind polythene bags, bottles, clothes and other rubbish. With just a week into the kanwar mela, Gangotri already has trash strewn on either of the river banks.

Even as environmentalists have repeatedly expressed concern over the issue, the administration maintains that it is helpless. Mr K.K. Pant, district collector, Uttarkashi, said though the Gangotri was being polluted with rubbish, the administration could not interfere with a traditional religious practice. A cleanliness drive would be undertaken after the mela.

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BRIEFLY

Mahatma Gandhi Award
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Prominent Gandhian and Kerala Gandhi Smarakanidhi Chairman P. Gopinathan Nair will be presented with the first Mahatma Gandhi Award of the Mahatma Gandhi Global Trust (MGGT) in recognition of his contributions to upkeep religious harmony on July 15. Award Committee member Dr M.R. Thampan and Organising Committee convener J. Ajithkumar told newspersons here on Monday that the committee had also selected Mr Joseph Gandhi for the Trust’s award. The awards carry a purse of Rs 10,000, a plaque and a citation in case of individuals and Rs 5,000, a plaque and a citation for institutions. — UNI

Dev Anand to essay PM’s role
MUMBAI: Evergreen actor and film maker Dev Anand will play the title role in his next production “Mr Prime Minister”, a film he plans to release early next year. “The film is a satire on Indian politics which will not hurt anybody,” Dev Anand said. The idea for the film, he said, struck him during the recent Lok Sabha elections. — UNI

One killed in train blast
Gulbarga: One person was killed and three were injured in a blast in one of the bogies of Chittapur-Hyderabad passenger train at Chittapur railway station in this district of Karnataka early on Tuesday. The deceased was identified as Narasimhachari (40). Two of his associates were injured in the blast. — UNI
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