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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Govt gearing up for drought: PM
New Delhi, July 21
The Centre is gearing up to provide all possible assistance to the people in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in case of a drought.

Bhakra hydel units face shutdown
New Delhi, July 21
With the monsoon continuing to play truant, operations of Bhakra hydel units in Punjab face shutdown as the water level has plunged to its lowest.

Congress comes in defence of Sibu Soren
New Delhi, July 21
Compulsions of running a coalition government and the upcoming assembly elections in Jharkhand have forced the Congress to put up a stout defence of Coal Minister Sibu Soren, who has been served an arrest warrant in a 29-year-old case.

Army jawans during a rescue operation in a flood-affected area

Army jawans during a rescue operation in a flood-affected area at Amliguri village of Morigoan district in Assam on Wednesday. — PTI

SC order leaves out post-disaster victims
Bhopal, July 21
The Supreme Court directive on disbursement of Rs 1503 crore among the Bhopal gas leak survivors leaves out a major section of the affected people about which the apex court itself had expressed serious concern.

Judge dismissed for granting bail to Shahabuddin
Patna, July 21
Patna High Court has dismissed fast track court judge of Siwan, Justice A. P. Shrivastava, for acting beyond jurisdiction to grant provisional bail to controversial RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin and ordered an inquiry by the CBI into it.


Meera Borwankar, the first woman to be the Commissioner of the Mumbai Crime Branch, assumes charge on Wednesday.
Meera Borwankar, the first woman to be the Commissioner of the Mumbai Crime Branch, assumes charge on Wednesday. Also seen is outgoing officer Satyapal Singh. — PTI

EARLIER STORIES

 

SC’s no to stay warrant against JD(U) MP
New Delhi, July 21
The Supreme Court, which has taken tough stance against politicians with criminal background who have taken law for a ride, today dismissed a petition by Janata Dal (U) MP Prabhunath Singh seeking stay on arrest warrant against him in a murder case and directed him to surrender to the trial court in Bhagalpur by July 30.

India to have defence pact with Lanka
New Delhi, July 21
India will go ahead with a defence pact with Sri Lanka despite the fact that an important ally in the UPA government is against this move.

Wait and watch on water issue, experts tell HP
New Delhi, July 21
The Himachal Pradesh Government may have taken a decision to move the Supreme Court to challenge the Punjab’s Act abrogating all water accords with neighbouring states from 1981 onwards, the hill state has been advised by legal experts not to rush with the filing of a petition on the issue.

Food, Civil Supplies for Raja Bhaiya
Lucknow, July 21
The newly appointed UP Cabinet Minister, Mr Raghuraj Pratap Singh, alias Raja Bhaiya, was assigned the Food and Civil Supplies portfolio yesterday.

UP hikes petrol, diesel prices
Lucknow, July 21
Consumers in UP are in for yet another shock when the Cabinet decision to raise the prices of petrol and diesel by 30 paise and 21 paise per litre comes into effect within 10 days.

Pappu Yadav shifted to Beur jail hospital
Patna, July 21
The Patna police last night shifted Lok Janshakti Party leader and former MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav to Beur Central Jail from the Patna Medical College Hospital following a Supreme Court directive to this effect.

Protest against the refusal of extradition of Former Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson Protest march in Guwahati on Wednesday against the alleged rape and murder of T. H.  Manorama by the Assam Rifles jawans
Activists of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan protest against the refusal of extradition of Former Union Carbide Chairman Warren Anderson by American Government, during the hearing of Bhopal Gas disaster case at District Court, in Bhopal on Wednesday. Activists of Maira Paibei take out a protest march in Guwahati on Wednesday against the alleged rape and murder of T. H.  Manorama by the Assam Rifles jawans in Manipur. — PTI photos


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Govt gearing up for drought: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
The Centre is gearing up to provide all possible assistance to the people in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in case of a drought.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today informed the Lok Sabha that the government would review the situation early next month and draw up contingency measures of ensuring safe drinking water in the affected regions and employment generation schemes.

Dr Manmohan Singh said he had personally reviewed the situation with ministers and secretaries and instructed the Cabinet Secretary to review the situation on a weekly basis.

Making a statement on the drought situation in several parts of the country, he said, “out of 36 meteorological subdivisions in the country, 16 subdivisions have received deficient or scanty rainfall so far. The government shall spare no efforts in providing all possible assistance to people in the eventuality of drought.”

The Prime Minister said,” Ministry of Agriculture is keeping a close watch on the situation. Officers have reviewed drought relief preparedness in AP, MP, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab.”

Telengana and Rayalaseema regions of Andhra Pradesh, Vidharbha in Maharashtra, Western Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Western Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand had so far rain deficiency ranging from 25 per cent to 51 per cent against normal rain, he said. Elaborating on the status of monsoon, he said the cumulative rainfall during June 1 to July 14 this year has been 264 mm compared to the normal rainfall of 291.8 mm, a deviation of 10 per cent below normal.

The Prime Minister asserted that it had been decided that the issue of revising norms for the assistance deserved to be considered in the event of prolonged calamities.

A committee consisting of representatives of concerned ministries and relief commissioners of AP and Orissa has been constituted with Agriculture Secretary as its Chairperson in this regard.

The committee shall submit its recommendations to the high-level committee shortly, he said adding “if the committee recommends higher allocation, this would be considered positively”.

Elaborating on the drought situation, he said the crop-sowing season in affected states extended up to the end of July with delayed rainfall. The precise extent of unsown area could only be assessed after the end of July.

Therefore, assessment for employment generation under the drought relief measures would be considered after the end of July, he said adding all state governments had drawn up their plans to ensure drinking water supply in areas affected by deficient or scanty rain in the eventuality of shortage of water.
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Bhakra hydel units face shutdown
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
With the monsoon continuing to play truant, operations of Bhakra hydel units in Punjab face shutdown as the water level has plunged to its lowest.

In reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha on whether the government was aware the Bhakra hydel unit was on the verge of shutdown as the water level had plunged to the lowest level at 1466.14 feet, Power Minister P. M. Sayeed said “Yes Sir.”

The minister said the level of Bhakra reservoir touched 1466.11 feet on June 14, 2004, as against the dead storage level of 1462 feet.

The operations of Bhakra and Pong reservoirs are periodically reviewed by the Technical Committee of Bhakra Beas Management Board, comprising representatives from the Irrigation Departments and power utilities of all the participating states.
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Congress comes in defence of Sibu Soren
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
Compulsions of running a coalition government and the upcoming assembly elections in Jharkhand have forced the Congress to put up a stout defence of Coal Minister Sibu Soren, who has been served an arrest warrant in a 29-year-old case.

While the Congress has jumped to Mr Soren’s defence, the UPA government has maintained a studied silence on this issue. It is hoping that the JMM leader will be able to evade arrest and get necessary relief from the Jharkhand High Court when his petition comes up for hearing tomorrow.

However, Mr Soren’s position might become untenable if his arrest warrant is not quashed by the High Court. In such a case, he might be forced to resign from the Cabinet.

While allies like Rail Minister Laloo Prasad Yadav are prevailing upon Mr Soren not to resign, there is a section which believes the JMM leader’s continuance as a Central Minister could become source of embarrassment for the UPA government. On the other hand, there is a view that this is a deliberate attempt by the BJP to create fissures between the JMM and the Congress, forcing them to part company.

The Congress party, however, is aware of the BJP gameplan since Jharkhand is headed for assembly elections. The JMM and the Congress had swept the recent Lok Sabha polls in the state and the two are looking at a repeat performance in the assembly elections. A falling out between these two would only benefit the BJP.

Defending Mr Soren, Congress spokesperson Anand Sharma said the sudden revival of the 29-year-old case by the BJP state government clearly shows this to be an instance of political vendatta. He said it is ironical that the same BJP, which is now targeting Mr Soren, was actually wooing him for a tie-up in the Lok Sabha polls.

Mr Sharma reiterated that the case against Mr Soren pertained to a mass movement in which thousands of people had participated. In fact, Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda was also involved in a similar case. If the BJP is so concerned about this pending case, why did it not expedite it when it was in power at the Centre, Mr Sharma asked.

He said an arrest warrant issued by a subordinate court did not mean that Mr Soren was an absconder, adding that the JMM leader has every right to seek judicial relief, which he has done.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad explained that Mr Soren had sent a letter to the presiding officers of both Houses of Parliament informing them that he was going out of station.

He also mentioned that his work may be looked after either by the Minister of State or any other minister.
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SC order leaves out post-disaster victims
N.D. Sharma

Bhopal, July 21
The Supreme Court directive on disbursement of Rs 1503 crore among the Bhopal gas leak survivors leaves out a major section of the affected people about which the apex court itself had expressed serious concern. This section comprises those born around the gas leak disaster in December, 1984. The apex court had estimated their number around one lakh.

Disposing of a string of writ petitions on October 3,1991, a Division Bench of the apex court observed: “We are of the view that such contingencies shall be taken care of by obtaining an appropriate group insurance cover from the General Insurance Corporation of India or the Life Insurance Corporation of India for compensation to this contingent class of possible prospective victims”.

The judgement said: “The period of insurance cover should be eight years in the future. The number of persons to be covered by this group insurance scheme should not less than one lakh of persons… as this figure broadly accords with the percentage of population of the affected wards… and the number of persons found to be affected by medical categorisation…The possible claimants fall into two categories: those who were in existence at the time of exposure; and those who were yet unborn and whose congenital defects are traceable to MiC toxicity inherited or derived congenitally”.

Madhya Pradesh had a BJP government led by Mr Sunderlal Patwa when the Supreme Court judgement came. It did not bother to follow it up. The BJP leaders had never shown any concern for the victims of the world’s biggest industrial disaster.
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Judge dismissed for granting bail to Shahabuddin

Patna, July 21
Patna High Court has dismissed fast track court judge of Siwan, Justice A. P. Shrivastava, for acting beyond jurisdiction to grant provisional bail to controversial RJD MP Mohammad Shahabuddin and ordered an inquiry by the CBI into it.

Sources in the court said a meeting of the standing committee of Patna High Court held on July 17 last, chaired by Chief Justice R. S. Dhawan, resolved to take the step against Mr Shrivastava on the basis of pleas made by Mr Justice B. K. Jha, who was hearing the case relating to the MP.

The MP was an accused in a case of abduction and subsequent murder of one Munna Chaudhury in 2001 and he surrendered before the court on August 13, last year. He was granted provisional bail by the fast track court on May 28 last and the high court found the judge acting beyond his power and ordered to put him back behind the bars on July 15.

The high court also ordered to hold up pensionary benefits enjoyed by Mr Shrivastava. — UNI 
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SC’s no to stay warrant against JD(U) MP
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 21
The Supreme Court, which has taken tough stance against politicians with criminal background who have taken law for a ride, today dismissed a petition by Janata Dal (U) MP Prabhunath Singh seeking stay on arrest warrant against him in a murder case and directed him to surrender to the trial court in Bhagalpur by July 30.

Dismissing his petition, a Bench of Chief Justice R.C. Lahoti and Mr Justice C.K. Thakkar said “MPs are not immune from court proceedings... and the petitioner should surrender before the Bhagalpur Chief Judicial Magistrate within 10 days.”

A vacation bench of the apex court had earlier stayed the execution of the arrest warrants for three weeks on June 28 and Prabhunath Singh today sought extension of the stay order.

Prabunath Singh is the fourth politician from Bihar and Jharkhand, to get adverse orders from the courts recently.
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India to have defence pact with Lanka
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 21
India will go ahead with a defence pact with Sri Lanka despite the fact that an important ally in the UPA government is against this move.

A political signal to this effect was given by the Indian leadership when the visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh and National Security Advisor J N Dixit on July 19.

The defence pact issue came up for discussions during Mr Rajapaksa’s talks with the Indian leadership during his July 17-19 working visit. It was understood that the Government of India would go ahead in implementing the proposed defence pact in a low-key manner.

The text of the defence pact is still being worked out. It is for the larger national interests, rather than political ideology of some regional parties, that the Manmohan Singh government is willing to go ahead with the defence agreement with Sri Lanka. That is because India has a security and strategic interest in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean.

Ms Nirupama Rao, India’s High Commissioner-Designate to Colombo, joined in the talks.

Mr Rajapaksa, sources said, urged India to waive off the entrance fees for the Buddhist temples in the country that New Delhi agreed to examine sympathetically.

India also assured economic assistance for rural reconstruction and rehabilitation and Indian technical and economic assistance for certain infrastructure projects. The quantum of this assistance was still to be worked out. Mr Rajapaksa also sought rehabilitation and reconstruction of the embattled North-East Province of Sri Lanka.

The two sides also exchanged views on the peace process between the LTTE and Sri Lanka. India appreciated that the ceasefire had been holding for the past two years and conveyed that any internal arrangements should be part of the final settlement.

Earlier, Mr J N Dixit, after his meeting with Mr Rajapakse, said he “conveyed the government’s policies which were based on long-term Indo- Sri Lankan friendship and upholding of Sri Lanka’s interests”. 
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Wait and watch on water issue, experts tell HP
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 21
The Himachal Pradesh Government may have taken a decision to move the Supreme Court to challenge the Punjab’s Act abrogating all water accords with neighbouring states from 1981 onwards, the hill state has been advised by legal experts not to rush with the filing of a petition on the issue.

“The Himachal Cabinet has though decided to contest the matter in the Supreme Court but it has been advised by legal experts to wait and watch the moves of the other affected states of Rajasthan and Haryana and tread with caution on the issue,” sources close to the state government’s legal advisers in the apex court said today.

“The state government has been advised that it should watch as to what stand is taken by Rajasthan and Haryana, which are the two most affected states,” the sources said.

They said the Himachal Government’s Law Secretary is likely to arrive in the capital in a day or two to discuss the matter further with the legal experts “but a cautious approach will be adopted by the state government in the matter as it has to take into consideration as how much effect the termination of agreements by Punjab will have on the interests of the state in real legal terms.”

The Himachal Government had various options open to it so far as the contesting of the matter in the Supreme Court was concerned, they said.

The state could become a party to the application already filed by the Centre seeking fresh direction in the case related to the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue from the court even though it was not party to the case, wait

whether the Union Government made making Presidential reference under Article 143 on “unilateral” abrogation of water accords by Punjab and challenge it on its own by filing a suit to ensure that the state’s interests were protected, they said.

Asked if the Virbhadra Singh government still decided to file a petition against the “Punjab Termination of Agreement Act” to bail out the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre, which found itself in a piquant situation as the opposition-ruled Haryana and Rajasthan had not shown any inclination to approach the court as they wanted to expose the discomfiture” of the Manmohan Singh Ministry on the issue, the sources said the “legal advise still would be that the state should wait and watch rather than taking a hasty step.”

“It has to be seen how much is the loss to Himachal in the abrogation of the accords, and therefore, there is no immediate cause of action requiring filing of a petition at this stage,” the sources said.

“Still if the state government decides, the matter will be processed in accordance with the law,” they said.
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Food, Civil Supplies for Raja Bhaiya
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 21
The newly appointed UP Cabinet Minister, Mr Raghuraj Pratap Singh, alias Raja Bhaiya, was assigned the Food and Civil Supplies portfolio yesterday.

In a minor reshuffle Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav divested senior Samajwadi leader and brother Shivpal Singh Yadav of the Agriculture portfolio. He now gets the PWD, besides Agriculture Export. He, however, remains the head of the Mandi Samiti.

The new Agriculture Minister is Dr Ashok Vajpayee whose old portfolio goes to Raja Bhaiya. Mr Naresh Agarwal is the new Transport Minister. Mr Agarwal’s earlier portfolio of Tourism will now be handled as additional charge by Mr Kakob Hamid.
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UP hikes petrol, diesel prices
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 21
Consumers in UP are in for yet another shock when the Cabinet decision to raise the prices of petrol and diesel by 30 paise and 21 paise per litre comes into effect within 10 days.

UP Chief Secretary V.K. Mittal said yesterday that the raising of trade tax on petrol and diesel from 20 per cent to 21 per cent would help the state mobilise an additional revenue of Rs 94 crore annually.

This decision comes virtually just before the Vidhan Sabha meets on Thursday for a short monsoon session. Importantly, prices of diesel are slated to go up when the state is already facing an acute power shortage, besides imminent drought in many districts in western UP.

Another significant decision taken by the Cabinet was to go in for the appointment of 3000 Urdu teachers at the 
primary level to be posted in areas where there was a demand for teaching Urdu. 
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Pappu Yadav shifted to Beur jail hospital

Patna, July 21
The Patna police last night shifted Lok Janshakti Party leader and former MP Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav to Beur Central Jail from the Patna Medical College Hospital following a Supreme Court directive to this effect.

A police team led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Rakesh Kumar Dubey escorted Pappu Yadav from the Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) to the jail where he was admitted to the jail hospital.

Armed police personnel were deployed at the prisoner’s ward of the PMCH to thwart any attempt by the followers of Pappu Yadav to sabotage execution of the court’s order. Besides, two rooms for himself, Pappu Yadav had occupied another room for his attendants in the emergency unit and was enjoying all facilities there.

Pappu Yadav was virtually running his political activities from the PMCH. — UNI
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BRIEFLY


Marrying again according to Rajasthani traditional Hindu style
Spanish couple Palana and Liza celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary by marrying again according to Rajasthani traditional Hindu style, in Bikaner on Wednesday. — PTI

Walkout over minister’s remarks
New Delhi:
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s remarks that the UPA government was “removing the dust" over the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission created a furore in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday with agitated Opposition members lead by the BJP staging a walkout during the minister’s reply on the Budget. During his reply to the discussion on the Budget, Mr Chidambaram said drinking water mission was being renamed after late Rajiv Gandhi and the government had “removed the dust” from the project. BJP members objected to this terming it as derogatory towards late Deen Daal Upadhyaha after whom the mission was named.

However, Mr Chidambaram said BJP members were getting touchy and looking for an excuse to stage a walkout. — TNS

Indo-China border talks
New Delhi:
The third meeting between the Special Representatives of India and China on the boundary question will be held here on July 26-27, the Ministry of External Affairs announced on Wednesday. National Security Advisor J. N. Dixit and the Executive Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo are the Special Representatives of India and China in these talks. — TNS

Kalam accepts resignation
New Delhi:
President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam today accepted the resignation of Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilisers K. Rehman Khan paving the way for his election to the Rajya Sabha. — TNS

573 detained under POTA
New Delhi:
As many as 573 persons were detained under POTA in various states during the last two years, of which Gujarat has a maximum of 172 detainees under the Act, the Rajya Sabha was informed here on Wednesday. Gujarat was followed by Jammu and Kashmir with 120 persons booked under the controversial anti-terrorism Act, Minister of State for Home S. Raghupathy said. Other states having POTA accused were Maharashtra (71),Jharkhand (64), Delhi (48), Andhara Pradesh (36), Uttar Pradesh (29), Tamil Nadu( 27), Sikkim (four) and Himachal Pradesh( two). — TNS

Privilege notice against 3 MPs
New Delhi:
The BJP on Wednesday tabled a privilege notice against three Congress MPs for allegedly preventing their colleague in the Rajya Sabha, Ms Jamana Devi Barupal, from discharging her responsibility by not allowing her to raise a question related to the Coal Ministry, headed by Shibu Soren in the House.“A notice of breach of privilege has been moved on behalf of Arun Jaitley against Prema Cariappa, Krishna Murthy and Raju Parmar for preventing the member from discharging her responsibility”, BJP Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha Sushma Swaraj told newspersons here. — TNS

Godhra panel’s scope extended
Ahmedabad:
The Gujarat Government has extended the scope of inquiry of the commission probing the Godhra train carnage and its aftermath following which it can interrogate the then Chief Minister, ministers and top police officials. A notification for extending the jurisdiction of the two-member commission of Justice (retd) G. T. Nanavati and Justice (retd) K. G. Shah was issued on Tuesday, a state government press note said here on Wednesday. — PTI
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