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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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N A T I O N

Violation of duty time limits by A-I poses safety threat
New Delhi, March 8
Gross violation of Flight Duty Time Limit by Air-India as prescribed by the Director -General of Civil Aviation is continuing unabated posing a serious threat to safety. The crew compliment on flights up to nine hours of flight time is the Commander and Co-Pilot.

SC spells out agenda for CJs, CMs conferences
New Delhi, March 8
The Supreme Court has drawn a 22-point agenda for discussion in the two-day conference of Chief Justices of High Courts beginning here tomorrow and 11-point deliberations in their joint meet with the Chief Ministers on acceleration of judicial reforms to bring down the burden of cases with the Judiciary, specially the High Courts and lower courts.

Varanasi blasts issue rocks Parliament
New Delhi, March 8
Both the Houses of Parliament were adjourned abruptly for the day today after the BJP-led Opposition disrupted the proceedings. The Opposition members expressed anguish over blasts in the temple town of Varanasi last evening


EARLIER STORIES

 
Howard expresses anguish over blasts
Chennai, March 8
The Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, today expressed anguish over the explosions in Varanasi and condemned the terrorist attack. He said: “The incident underlines the need for both India and Australia to work together in the fight against the scourge of terrorism. I express my sorrow and sympathies on the loss of lives and grief to the families of those killed in the blasts.”


Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala presents a shawl to Australian Prime Minister John Howard at Raj Bhavan in Chennai on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Tamil Nadu Governor Surjit Singh Barnala presents a shawl to Australian Prime Minister John Howard at Raj Bhavan in Chennai

Sex workers feel empowered on Women’s Day
Pune, March 8
The squalid and unlit brothels in the infamous Budhwar Peth Area in the heart of the city today experienced a sense of empowerment with expression of solidarity from a cross-section of society.

Rs 13.75 crore sanctioned for Galliara Yojna
New Delhi, March 8
The Centre has sanctioned Rs 13.75 crore as the second installment for the completion of phase IV and V of the much-delayed Golden Temple Galliara Yojna for the beautification and decongestion of the area around the Golden Temple.

HC refuses to lift restrictions on lawyers
New Delhi, March 8
The Delhi High Court today refused to lift restrictions on advocates of Tis Hazari to keep their agitation 500 metres away from any court in the Capital and on 25 lawyers from attending the courts for alleged violation of its order.

Experts discuss poetics of Guru Granth Sahib
New Delhi, March 8
‘‘Guru Granth Sahib transcended the aesthetical and mystical discourse’’, this was stated by renowned scholar Dr Kapila Vatsyayan while inaugurating a two-day seminar on ‘‘Poetics of Guru Granth Sahib’’ at Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan here.

Work on Bangalore metro to start soon
Bangalore, March 8
The Chief Minister, Mr H.D. Kumaraswamy, yesterday announced that work on the Bangalore metro project would start immediately even before the project is given final approval by the Empowered Committee of Central Ministers.

Videos

Tribeswomen march ahead in development work.
(28k, 56k)

Rajrani festival music festival organized in Bhubaneswar.
(28k, 56k)
Fashion show hosted by kings.
(28k, 56k)

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Violation of duty time limits by A-I poses safety threat
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 8
Gross violation of Flight Duty Time Limit (FDTL) by Air-India as prescribed by the Director -General of Civil Aviation is continuing unabated posing a serious threat to safety.

The crew compliment on flights up to nine hours of flight time is the Commander and Co-Pilot. On flights where the flight time exceeds nine hours on routes like India-UK, India-France and the like, the Aeronautical Information Circular (AIC) of the DGCA mandates a second Commander being on board.

This has been given a go by since 2003, when the carrier’s Director (Operations), Capt M.K. Hathi is believed to have issued a circular that he had received the necessary permission from the DGCA to increase the flight time for two pilot operations to 10 hours and FDTL to 14 hours.

What has shocked seasoned aviators in Air-India and outside is that the internal circular did not specify the DCGA’s approval number nor fixed any time frame for undertaking such operations. In July last year, the DGCA had sought an explanation from Air-India how flights exceeding nine hours flight time were being operated with two pilots only whereas the crew compliment on these flights should have been two Commanders and one Co-Pilot.

Interestingly, foreign pilots employed by the carrier operating flights exceeding nine hours of flight time were enjoying a crew compliment of two Commanders and a Co-Pilot. The reason purportedly was that these foreign pilots were governed by the regulations and requirements of the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

The DGCA AIC of July 1992 fixing the Flight Duty Time and Flight Time Limitations specifies that it should be 12 hours and nine hours respectively. The Regulatory Authority has effected no changes in the AIC.

In its letter to Air-India nine months back, the DGCA through its Chief Flight Operations Inspector said it had been brought to their notice that Air India was “currently operating Bom-Lon-Bom flights with 2-man crew to a flight time limit of 10 hours flight duty limit of 14 hours without seeking approval of this office. You are requested to furnish your comments on the matter.”

Last month, the DGCA had suspended Capt T. Manilal for a month. for dangerously exceeding the FDTL. Capt Manilal had travelled as a supernumerary or passenger in uniform on January 25 on AI-127 from Mumbai to Frankfurt and then operated the onward Frankfurt-Chicago flight.

It now transpires that Capt Manilal had committed two other FDTL violations on December 26 last year and again on January 8 this year. In both instances Capt Manilal travelled aboard AI -111 Mumbai-Delhi as a Staff on Duty and operated Delhi-London as Commander. Another AI Commander Capt V. Kulkarni violated the FDTL in September last year who too travelled aboard AI-110 as SOD from Mumbai-Delhi and then operated Delhi-London as Commander.

In a letter on February 17 to the DGCA, Rajya Sabha MP and member of the Civil Aviation Consultative Committee Sanjay Raut charged Capt Hathi of audaciously violating the regulations of the DGCA. He stressed that the serious FDTL violations and several other instances where Air -India is flagrantly flouting the Regulatory Authority’s Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR), “the gullible public is being hoodwinked about Air-India’s high safety record and standards. I am beginning to wonder whether any structured system of checks and safety audit even subsists under the DGCA’s so called autonomous regulatory mechanism,” Mr Raut observed.

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SC spells out agenda for CJs, CMs conferences
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 8
The Supreme Court has drawn a 22-point agenda for discussion in the two-day conference of Chief Justices of High Courts beginning here tomorrow and 11-point deliberations in their joint meet with the Chief Ministers on acceleration of judicial reforms to bring down the burden of cases with the Judiciary, specially the High Courts and lower courts.

In his efforts to bring transparency in the whole exercise initiated by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Y.K Sabharwal, it was for the first time that the Registrar General (RG) of the Supreme Court gave details in advance to media on the agenda items for discussion before the Chief Justices Conference. The conference is closed to media because it involves an internal assessment exercise by the Judiciary.

The two-day conference of CJIs is being held after a gap of two years and it would be followed by a joint conference of Chief Justices and the Chief Ministers on March 11, the Registrar General, Mr V.K Jain said.

Besides assessing the progress made on resolutions passed in 2004, the conference would also discuss a letter written by CJI to High Court Chief Justices about sifting of petty offence cases from serious offences to ensure their speedy disposal.

Among the important issues on the agenda are: reforms in criminal justice system in view of the low conviction rates, increasing the strength of High Court judges and judicial officers in subordinate courts, augmenting infrastructure of lower courts, including computerisation, promotion of alternative dispute resolution system and Lok Adalats and grant of financial autonomy to High Courts.

Mr Jain said in order to keep a strict vigil on “corruption” in lower judiciary the vigilance cells would be strengthened. “The focus will be on gearing up the working of the vigilance cells,” he said.

He made it clear that the conference would not discuss any personal issues pertaining to the judges and their benefits. “It will purely discuss the issues relating to Judiciary and improvement of its functioning and reforms required in it,” he said.

Asked whether the proposed National Judicial Council Bill would be discussed at the conference, Mr Jain categorically said , “It is not a part of the agenda.”

Mr Jain also pointed out that Judiciary got only 0.02 per cent of GNP every year, while in the USA it was 1.5 per cent, 1.4 per cent in the UK and 1.2 per cent in Singapore.‘‘There would be deliberations on low allocations to Judiciary,’’ he said.

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Varanasi blasts issue rocks Parliament
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 8
Both the Houses of Parliament were adjourned abruptly for the day today after the BJP-led Opposition disrupted the proceedings. The Opposition members expressed anguish over blasts in the temple town of Varanasi last evening

The agitated members trooped into the well soon after the two Houses assembled and raised slogans like: “Har Har Mahadev”, “Jai Bajrang Bali” “UPA Government down, down” and “Sonia Gandhi murdabad”.

Amid the din, Home Minister Shivraj Patil said the temple had been “targeted understandably to cause communal tension in the country” and assured Lok Sabha that the government remained firmly committed to combating terrorism.

Condemning the twin blasts in Varanasi yesterday as “senseless acts of violence”, Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee affirmed the country’s strong resolve to maintain peace and harmony and to fight terrorism and violence.

In Rajya Sabha, Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan said such outrageous acts of terror were intended to “test our patience and secular credentials” and appealed to all sections of society to maintain peace and calm. Both the Houses were initially adjourned for an hour, however, as the din continued after the Houses reassembled they were adjourned for the day.

Lok Sabha Speaker ordered the tabling of papers listed for the day in spite of the BJP and Shiv Sena members storming the well of the House again. Somnath Chatterjee also read out a statement greeting women on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.

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Howard expresses anguish over blasts
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, March 8
The Australian Prime Minister, Mr John Howard, today expressed anguish over the explosions in Varanasi and condemned the terrorist attack.

He said: “The incident underlines the need for both India and Australia to work together in the fight against the scourge of terrorism. I express my sorrow and sympathies on the loss of lives and grief to the families of those killed in the blasts.”

The Australian premier is on a two-day visit to South India and has inked several protocols with the Central and state governments besides presiding over the signing of a host of agreements with a number of autonomous institutions.

Despite the India-US nuclear agreement and the USA promising India to lobby with uranium-rich countries in its favour, Mr Howard ruled out supplying uranium to India.

“We have been saying no to all those countries that have not signed the non-proliferation treaty. There is no change in our policy adopted for the past 30 years,” Mr Howard said.

Australia, however, hailed the nuclear agreement between USA and India.

“This is a very positive agreement. We welcome it. For the first time, Indian civil nuclear reactors would be opened to international inspection. At the official level in Australia, we are getting to know how this agreement will operate. But we also know that the final word has not been heard on this agreement because it is still subject to various processes between the two nations,” Mr Howard pointed out.

He felt that there was a need to create more consulates of his country in India. A beginning has been made in Chennai, but more cities in the North would be brought into the ambit of the consular network, delegates accompanying him revealed.

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Sex workers feel empowered on Women’s Day
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

Pune, March 8
The squalid and unlit brothels in the infamous Budhwar Peth Area in the heart of the city today experienced a sense of empowerment with expression of solidarity from a cross-section of society. The quiet yet effective rally was taken out on the occasion of International Women’s Day.

The rally was organised by the Pathfinder International, a Boston-based voluntary organisation chosen by the Avahan Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to run a targeted intervention programme for groups at risk in Pune city and ten other districts of Maharashtra.

The rally based on the theme ‘We decide’ evoked an overwhelming response with a gathering of 800 persons, including commercial sex workers, gays, brothel owners and change agents working in ten partner organisations of the Path Finder International.

These included 600 persons who came to attend the rally from districts as far as Kolhapur, Latur, Nandurbar, Parbhani, Yavatmal and inmates of the brothels who stepped out of the boundaries of their prison-like yet pleasure promising shops to draw attention to their neglected concerns.

Walking through the Budhwar Peth and Shukrawar Peth areas, members belonging to this marginalised yet sizeable group raised their voice to assert their rights of a disease free status. Maharashtra has the dubious distinction of one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in India.

Buddhwar Peth, located about 14 km from the Pune airport, houses matchbox-sized brothels where about 4,000 commercial sex workers live and earn their livelihood by entertaining clients. Most of the sex workers hail from Karnataka and Maharashtra and are in the age-group of 18 to 60, according to Michele Andina, Project Director, Pathfinder International.

Andina says that economic necessity compels even elderly women to work in brothels. “There is a market for everyone. Some elderly men prefer slightly older women.” Andina said that the theme of the rally was inspired by the conviction that women had the ability to make decisions and to exercise options.

The harsh reality of the scarred lives of commercial sex workers surfaced during the gathering at Budhwar Peth in the midst of brothels. The sex workers dressed in their Sunday best chose to cover their heads and faces with orange and yellow scarves distributed by the organisers while hearing the inspirational Marthi speech by the American Project Director of Pathfinder International and Marathi actress Amrita Subhash.As cameramen climbed up the narrow brothel stairways to get shots from the balconies, gays and commercial sex workers veiled their faces to protect their identities.

Mumbai-based actress Amrita Subhash handed over 150 certificates for peer educators to district representatives who had done commendable work by encouraging women to seek treatment for STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections) and preventing the spread of HIV AIDS.

The actress cheered up the commercial sex workers, gays and eunuchs. She delivered a dialogue from a Kundan Shah film. The dialogue asked whether the true beauty of woman lay in her looks or her virtues. The answer was the true beauty of a woman lay in her independence in the absence of which she was a slave of beauty.

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Rs 13.75 crore sanctioned for Galliara Yojna
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 8
The Centre has sanctioned Rs 13.75 crore as the second installment for the completion of phase IV and V of the much-delayed Golden Temple Galliara Yojna for the beautification and decongestion of the area around the Golden Temple.

The government today informed Rajya Sabha that the sanction for release of the second installment of Rs 13.75 crore for the project had been issued. The Centre had sanctioned Rs 72 crore to the Punjab Government for the completion of phase IV and V of the project. Of this, a sum of Rs 15.75 crore was released as the first installment out of which an expenditure of Rs 14.26 crore has already been incurred on various items related to the project, the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

Brain child of the Central Government, the Galliara Yojna was to be completed in five phases. Out of these three phases have already been completed at a cost of Rs 75 crore. However, phases IV and V, the most important of the five phases, have been in doldrums for long.

The ambitious project has witnessed many delays due to fund crunch and political bottlenecks. As a result the scheme, aimed at developing a green belt in place of a maze of shops and other structures around the Golden Temple complex, has not been completed even after a lapse of close to 18 years now.

The much-hyped Golden Temple Beautification Plan, also known as the Galliara Yojna, was initiated amid much fanfare way back in June 1988 with an objective to remove all narrow lanes and bazaars that had proved to be a hindrance for the security forces during “Operation Bluestar”.

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HC refuses to lift restrictions on lawyers
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, March 8
The Delhi High Court today refused to lift restrictions on advocates of Tis Hazari to keep their agitation 500 metres away from any court in the Capital and on 25 lawyers from attending the courts for alleged violation of its order.

A five-judge full court Bench, headed by Chief Justice Markandeya Katju, refused to lift restrictions while hearing petitions of 25 advocates, who were facing contempt action.

The court, however, allowed time till March 29 to the advocates to file their affidavits.

The Bench made the observations after hearing several senior advocates appearing for the lawyers, even as they unequivocally condemned the vandalism and slogan shouting by lawyers against the judges.

The 25 lawyers, including Delhi Bar Association (DBA) president and secretary were facing contempt action for allegedly “vandalising” Tis Hazari courts on February 26.

The DBA members are agitating against shifting certain courts to Rohini.

The Chief Justice said courts were empowered under the Contempt of Courts Act to take such action if functioning of the judiciary was obstructed by any one, more so by people of legal profession.

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Experts discuss poetics of Guru Granth Sahib
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 8
‘‘Guru Granth Sahib transcended the aesthetical and mystical discourse’’, this was stated by renowned scholar Dr Kapila Vatsyayan while inaugurating a two-day seminar on ‘‘Poetics of Guru Granth Sahib’’ at Bhai Vir Singh Sahitya Sadan here.

She also pointed out the composite concept of holy and transcendent in Guru Granth Sahib. A large number of scholars from Jawaharlal Nehru University, University of Delhi and universities in Punjab participated in the seminar.

With six sessions, 12 papers and more than 40 scholars, the seminar probed into the various aspects of Guru Granth Sahib vis-à-vis poetics, thereby making a comparative study between the East and the West.

The scholars at the seminar discussed sublime and the hymnology of the holy, undiscoursable and the stylistic of Granth Sahib. Transpoetics of Sehaj, Patterns of repetition and Semantics of Kabir and the aesthetical and experiential concepts of wonder and ‘anand’.

Dr I.N.Choudhari, Dr J.S.Neki, Dr Jagbir Singh, Dr R.Gargesh, Dr Gurbhagat Singh, Dr S.S.Noor, Dr Manmohan Singh, Dr Vanita, Ms M.K.Gill, Prof Anurag Sharma and Dr B.S.Rattan were among those who made presentations in the seminar.

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Work on Bangalore metro to start soon
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, March 8
The Chief Minister, Mr H.D. Kumaraswamy, yesterday announced that work on the Bangalore metro project would start immediately even before the project is given final approval by the Empowered Committee of Central Ministers.

The Chief Minister gave directions to officials of the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation (BMRC) today to start preliminary work.

He also announced that the Centre had agreed to give its share of Rs 1,600 crore for the Rs 6,000 crore project.

Meanwhile, the BMRC Managing Director, Mr K.N. Srivastava, talking to The Tribune said the government was committed to raising Rs 1,800 crore for the project through a consortium of 20 financial institutions.

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