SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI
image
N A T I O N

Relief after two decades for Bhopal gas tragedy victims
RBI directed to release Carbide’s Rs 1503 cr
New Delhi, July 19
After a relentless wait for two decades by the Bhopal gas tragedy victims for the payment of compensation by US major Union Carbide, the Supreme Court today directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to release Rs 1503 crore deposited with it by the company for disbursement to them.

Bhopal gas tragedy survivors expressing their happiness Bhopal gas tragedy survivors expressing their happiness after the Supreme Court decision, in Bhopal on Monday. — PTI photo



A farmer ploughs his paddy field
A farmer ploughs his paddy field in Kolsur, 85 km north of Kolkata, on Sunday. The Meteorological Department has forecast normal and evenly spread monsoon rains across the country this year, raising hopes for a more robust economic growth on the back of good farm output. — Reuters

THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS

50 killed as bus falls into pond

Kolkata, July 19
At least 50 persons, including women and children, were killed today when an over-crowded private bus fell into a wayside pond at Lakshmipur village in north Malda, about 320 km from here.

Villagers rescue passengers trapped in a bus that fell into a pond near Malda (West Bengal) on Monday.
Villagers rescue passengers trapped in a bus that fell into a pond near Malda (West Bengal) on Monday. — PTI photo

Teachers narrate their version
Tamil Nadu mourns fire victims

Kumbakonam, July 19
While the entire Tamil Nadu today mourned the death of 90 children in Friday’s devastating fire here, some teachers of Lord Sri Krishna Secondary School have come out of hiding.

A man pays floral tribute at a makeshift memorial In video (28k)


A man pays floral tribute at a makeshift memorial in front of the ill-fated school in Kumbakonam, some 320 km southwest of Chennai, on Monday. — Reuters photo

EARLIER STORIES

 

Ex-minister on indefinite fast
Unwed mother scandal
Dehradun, July 19
Former Uttaranchal minister Harak Singh Rawat today began an indefinite fast near the State Assembly, coinciding with the commencement of the budget session.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam with Sri Lanka Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Monday. — PTI photo
In video (28k, 56k)

Floods continue to ravage Bihar, Assam
Kolkata, July 19
The flood situation in eastern and north-eastern India continued to worsen, even as the Bihar Government requisitioned the Army and the IAF for rescue and relief operations today.

Arjun Singh caught unprepared in RS
New Delhi, July 19
Prolonged silence on a query on the teacher-student ratio in middle schools by Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh triggered noisy scenes in the Rajya Sabha today.

News Analysis by Satish Misra
UP BJP leaders resent Tripathi
New Delhi, July 19
The appointment of former Uttar Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kesrinath Tripathi to lead the BJP in the biggest state has created more bitterness than addressing the root cause of the decline of the party in one of the most prominent states of the Hindi heartland.

Lodha moves court, Birlas too
Kolkata, July 19
Mr R.S.Lodha today went to the Kolkata High Court presenting the copy of the will, made by Priyamvada, the widow of M.P. Birla, in his favour for probate.

Top









 

Relief after two decades for Bhopal gas tragedy victims
RBI directed to release Carbide’s Rs 1503 cr
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 19
After a relentless wait for two decades by the Bhopal gas tragedy victims for the payment of compensation by US major Union Carbide, the Supreme Court today directed the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to release Rs 1503 crore deposited with it by the company for disbursement to them.

A Bench comprising Mr Justice Shivaraj V. Patil and Mr Justice B. N. Srikrishna, directed the RBI to hand over the fund to the Bhopal Gas Victims’ Welfare Commissioner for payment to each of the victim on “pro-rata” basis.

It was ironical that the compensation issue was decided after 20 years of the December 1984 tragedy because the Settlement Claim Commissioner, took such a long time to fix the claim of each affected person.

The leakage of deadly methyl iso-cyante had claimed the lives of 15,000 persons and rendered about five lakh disease affected for whole life.

Though the immediate death toll was nearly 4,000 the casualties had continued to rise under the severe impact of the gas that had leaked from the Union Carbide’s plant on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984.

The Union Carbide had paid a compensation of $ 470 million to the victims as per the settlement reached by it with the Indian Government when litigation on fixation of the compensation amount was pending in the Supreme Court in 1985.

The court then had directed that the amount be deposited as a corpus with the Reserve Bank for disbursement to the victims as per the settlement claims fixed by the settlement commissioner.

While the court was monitoring the progress of settlement and providing health care facilities to the victims through five specially set up hospitals in Bhopal, Rs 86 crore were disbursed to the affected people.

Since the Settlement Commissioner has now finalised the claims of almost all victims, the apex court ordered the release of the entire amount today.

The Commissioner was directed to submit the compliance report about the payment of the money within three months.

Top

 

50 killed as bus falls into pond
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 19
At least 50 persons, including women and children, were killed today when an over-crowded private bus fell into a wayside pond at Lakshmipur village in north Malda, about 320 km from here.

Over 12 persons are battling for their lives at the Malda government hospital. The driver the bus jumped of out and fled before the bus slipped into the pond.

As many as 42 bodies had been recovered so far. Efforts are on to take out people still trapped inside the bus. Rescue work was initially hampered due to incessant rain which continued till noon today.

According to reports received here, the bus, which was carrying over 80 passengers, several on the roof-top, was on its way to English Bazaar, leaving Malda town around 9 am. As the bus approached Chachal, it started raining heavily. The speeding bus suddenly swerved and fell down into the wayside pond.

People gathered near the Chachal bus stand rushed to the spot and tried to rescue the passengers. But since both doors of the bus were locked, the trapped passengers could not be rescued early. Most of them, particularly children, old men and women, were suffocated to death. Some passengers, however, got out by breaking open the glass windows and swam ashore.

According to the IG (Law and Order), Mr Chayyan Mukherjee, the bus was dragged out of the pond with the help of a crane. Two passengers stuck under the seats were found dead.

Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya said the victims’ families would be given due compensation. The police had been asked to arrest the driver and owner of the bus immediately.

Top

 

Teachers narrate their version
Tamil Nadu mourns fire victims
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Kumbakonam, July 19
While the entire Tamil Nadu today mourned the death of 90 children in Friday’s devastating fire here, some teachers of Lord Sri Krishna Secondary School have come out of hiding.

All schools in the entire state were closed today and prayer meetings held there to pay homage to the dead children.

All shops and business establishments in this small temple town remained closed. The state Cabinet passed a resolution mourning the dead and ensuring safety measures in all schools to avoid such a tragedy.

Meanwhile, some of the teachers of the ill-fated school who had been in hiding for the past three days to escape public fury today turned up to tell their side of the story. However, the police did not confirm whether the teachers were questioned. They claimed they had not “absconded” but were taking rest since they were also injured and shocked.

Sankari and Kavitha have been admitted to a private hospital. Kavitha, who was five-months pregnant, had a miscarriage while trying to save children when the fire broke out. Sankari, who had inhaled fumes in the narrow staircase trying to get children to the ground floor, is suffering from a severe chest pain and acute depression.

One of their colleagues, Geetha, who is living in a relative’s home near the school, fearing reprisals from the people here, made arrangements to get their version of the incident narrated to reporters. She said she too was in a state of shock and shedding tears for the little ones who perished in the fire.

Refuting the allegations that the teachers escaped leaving the children to be roasted alive, Geetha said: “It is easy to level such charges. We only know what we went through trying to evacuate as many as 700 children in the middle of smoke and poor visibility in that narrow staircase.”

Geetha said two teachers were entrusted with the task of helping the toddlers cross the street amidst speeding vehicles. “People on the street might have thought that they were running away but that was not the case,” she said. She said when the kitchen roof caught fire, the teachers immediately switched off the power supply and asked the children to flee and make way for those on the first floor. Geetha said: “By the time we helped many children to be out on the street, the thatched roof on the first floor collapsed and there were around 120 children there. Nobody is giving us the credit for saving the 700-odd children but painting us a villains who abandoned children to die.”

“Had we not evacuated children, many more would have perished,” she claimed.

While some of the teachers secretly met the police here today, three teachers who were taking classes on the first floor where the children died had left this town on the “advice of the police.” One of the teachers said: “We heard the police telling them to leave as they feared mob fury. They went to their relatives’ homes in Thanjavur. But now the police is saying teachers have absconded.”

Most teachers felt that public fury should be directed against the school management and the administration, which let this kind of school run for so long.

Top

 

Ex-minister on indefinite fast
Unwed mother scandal
Swati Vashishtha
Tribune News Service

Dehradun, July 19
Former Uttaranchal minister Harak Singh Rawat today began an indefinite fast near the State Assembly, coinciding with the commencement of the budget session.

Mr Rawat, who had been accused by Jenny, alias Indira Deuri, an Assamese woman, of raping her and fathering her child, demanded public apologies from Chief Minister ND Tiwari, the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Bhagat Singh Koshiyari, and Speaker Yashpaul Arya. Mr Rawat said he had suffered injustice and non-cooperation from the government and opposition in dealing with the matter which sought to strip him of his political hold and ruin his career.

Speaking to The Tribune, Mr Rawat said he was not after a berth in the Cabinet but he wanted the Chief Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the Speaker to apologise to him in public at Rispana Bridge, near the Assembly, where he began an indefinite fast. He sought a probe into the matter and quick action against those who had hatched this conspiracy.

This follows Jenny taking a U-turn yesterday, absolving Mr Rawat of all charges she had levelled against him. “Rawat is not the father of her child, he is not only innocent but also a great man,” she said. Refusing to clarify further, the woman said she had done everything under pressure and that she would name the people behind the conspiracy in the court.

Top

 

Floods continue to ravage Bihar, Assam

Kolkata, July 19
The flood situation in eastern and north-eastern India continued to worsen, even as the Bihar Government requisitioned the Army and the IAF for rescue and relief operations today.

The turbulent Bagmati, Burhi Gandak and Kareh rivers wreaked havoc in Samastipur and Khagaria districts in Bihar. Thousands of people have left their homes since yesterday. Major rivers were also flowing above the danger level.

Tripura, southern parts of Assam, Mizoram and parts of Meghalaya were again cut off from the rest of the country following landslides triggered by incessant rainfall at Meghalaya's Sonapur on the National Highway No. 44.

Border Road Task Force sources said they were working round-the-clock to clear the debris, mainly of huge rocks and slush of mud, stretched along about 300 m on the road. Sources said there was remote possibility of restoring the link soon.

In Assam, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is due to visit the flood-affected areas tomorrow.

The situation, which remained grim during the past few days claiming 66 lives and affecting about nine million people, is likely to worsen as the weather office here predicted more heavy to very heavy rainfall at some places in the next 24 hours.

Director of the Meteorological Office here D. Sinha said the monsoon trough, which caused heavy rainfall in the state when the flood began during the first week of this month, had again turned active in the region. — UNI

Top

 

Arjun Singh caught unprepared in RS
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 19
Prolonged silence on a query on the teacher-student ratio in middle schools by Human Resources Minister Arjun Singh triggered noisy scenes in the Rajya Sabha today.

As the minister remained mum for a few minutes on the query raised by TDP’s Vanga Geetha, Chairman Bhairon Singh Shekhawat asked Mr Arjun Singh to sit down and go through the documents before replying during question hour.

In a move to calm down members, Mr Shekhawat said at times one could have difficulty locating papers and the House should not make an issue out of a non-issue.

As Mr Arjun Singh started reading the answer, the Chairman said the minister was looking at wrong papers and he himself could read the reply from the written answer.

Later, the Chairman postponed the question, which was objected to by the Opposition.

Top

 

News Analysis by Satish Misra
UP BJP leaders resent Tripathi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 19
The appointment of former Uttar Pradesh Assembly Speaker Kesrinath Tripathi to lead the BJP in the biggest state has created more bitterness than addressing the root cause of the decline of the party in one of the most prominent states of the Hindi heartland.

Mr Tripathi, who has replaced former Bajrang Dal chief Vinay Katiyar, would find the seat too hot to handle it as he neither has the organisational experience nor he has the right temperament for it.

Since the BJP high command, which primarily means former Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani these days, has taken the decision to bring the former Assembly Speaker to replace Mr Katiyar with an argument that replacing a backward with a Brahmin would help the party to retain high castes votes particularly those of Brahmins.

“Does this simple logic works in politics”, a senior leader from Uttar Pradesh asked and added that the BJP high command is repeating a mistake which was committed by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who had brought in late Dinesh Singh in his Cabinet in place of V.P. Singh who had gone out of the party in protest.

Substituting a Brahmin by a Brahmin and a Rajput by a Rajput may be correct in social dynamics but not in politics where person’s attitude and temperament is decisive, a former Minister in Rajnath Singh government said.

Mr Tripathi has never held a position in the organisation and moreover his stint as the Speaker has turned him “elitist”, a BJP leader from the state pointed out and added that in organisational work a person has to always remain accessible to workers and public. He has a “dictatorial” approach to issues, he observed.

Another fallout of Mr Tripathi’s appointment is the resentment and disgruntlement being expressed by Mr Katiyar who has felt slighted and insulted over the manner in which his resignation was demanded by the party high command.

Mr Tripathi, an MLA from Allahabad, has not very pleasant relationship with former Human Resource Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, who was also not consulted over the change of guards in Uttar Pradesh.

Sources said Mr Advani on the specific recommendation and advise of former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Kalyan Singh asked BJP President M. Vankaiah Naidu to replace Mr Katiyar with Mr Tripathi.

Earlier, the organisational posts, including that of the state president’s were decided through elections but apparently this democratic practise has been given a quite burial.

Mr Advani apparently opted for this change with an eve on the next Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh which is BJP’s calculation can be held any time this year.

The BJP feels that Chief Minister Mulyam Singh Yadav may catch his political opponents unaware by calling for snap poll and that is why the party must remain prepared for all eventualities.

Top

 

Lodha moves court, Birlas too

Kolkata, July 19
Mr R.S.Lodha today went to the Kolkata High Court presenting the copy of the will, made by Priyamvada, the widow of M.P. Birla, in his favour for probate.

Under the will, the entire property of M.P. Birla, worth nearly Rs 5,000 crore, has been handed over to Mr Lodha, who was the co-chairman of the M.P. Birla group while the widow, Priyamvada, was the chairman.

The legal heir-apparent, the nephew of M.P.Birla and other members of the Birla family, however, have already filed petitions in the high court challenging the will. The family will be contesting the grant of probate of the purported will. — OC

Top

 
BRIEFLY

India’s envoys to USA, UK
New Delhi
: Mr Ranendra Sen, India’s former High Commissioner to the UK, has been appointed as the next Ambassador to the USA while Mr Kamlesh Sharma, former Permanent Representative of India to the UN, has been appointed as the next High Commissioner to the UK, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Monday. — TNS

Lok Sabha adjourned
New Delhi:
The Lok Sabha was adjourned today without transacting any business after paying homage to Ramchandra Veerappa, the oldest member of the House, who passed away yesterday after prolonged illness. Veerappa (96) was elected from Karnataka’s Bidar constituency on a BJP ticket. As soon as the House assembled, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee informed the House of the death of Veerappa and read out a condolence message. The House observed silence for two minutes. — TNS

Soren moves High Court
Ranchi
:
Union Coal Minister and JMM chief Sibu Soren on Monday moved the Jharkhand High Court against the proceedings relating to the 1975 Chirrudih massacre. He also sought the quashing of arrest warrant against him. The warrant, issued by a Jamtara district court on July 17, have been received by the district Superintendent of Police S.N. Jha today. — PTI

SC notice on House privileges
New Delhi:
The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre and to all states on a petition seeking the codification of the legislative privileges, while referring the matter to a Constitution Bench. A Bench of Mr Justice N. Santosh Hegde and Mr Justice S. B. Sinha, admitted a petition by Mr B. Krishna Bhat against whom the Karnataka Assembly had initiated privilege proceedings for his highlighting the alleged the misuse of public funds by MLAs to meet the expenses of their foreign tours. — TNS

SC notice to Mayawati
New Delhi
: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to former UP Chief Minister Mayawati and two senior officers of the state government on a petition challenging an Allahabad High Court order staying their arrest. The notices were issued to them following an appeal challenging the high court order on the ground that it violated the CrPC. The two officials issued notices are Mayawati’s the then Principal Secretary, Mr P.L. Punia, and former state government Environment Secretary V.K. Gupta. — TNS

Top

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |