SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

NC for no freebies to Pandits on return to valley
New Delhi, March 19
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah believes in no freebies. While he hopes that the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community will eventually return to the valley, he makes it explicitly clear that the community will not be extended any financial freebies by his party that is gearing up to contest the forthcoming byelections in the state.

Cong indulging in minority appeasement: Rajnath
Pondicherry, March 19 BJP president Rajnath Singh today accused the Congress-led UPA government of indulging in minority appeasement by “trying to introduce reservation on the basis of religion”.

Congress practising ‘minorityism’: Advani
New Delhi, March 19
Accusing the Congress of indulging in vote-bank politics and practising “minorityism,” senior BJP leader L.K. Advani said today that the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was opposed to reservation for minorities.






EARLIER STORIES
 
Women from different ethnic groups and communities take out a candlelight peace rally in Agartala, Tripura, on Saturday night to appeal to the tribal militants to return to the national mainstream
Women from different ethnic groups and communities take out a candlelight peace rally in Agartala, Tripura, on Saturday night to appeal to the tribal militants to return to the national mainstream. — PTI

Culling over; 2 being monitored for bird flu
Mumbai, March 19
A doctor with fever and respiratory problems was under observation in western India where tens of thousands of birds were culled to contain a second outbreak of avian flu, officials said on Sunday.

Haryana districts plagued by ground water contamination
New Delhi, March 19
Most districts of Haryana are plagued by the contamination of ground water with Faridabad being the worst affected due to problems of salinity and presence of excess fluoride, nitrate and heavy metals.

Revolt in JD(U) over RS nominations
Patna, March 19
Soon after establishing his supremacy in the party over the selection of nominees for the Rajya Sabha poll, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar suffered a setback in the form of a “mini revolt “ following the resignation by the party`s state unit vice-presieent Shatrughan Prasad Shastri.

Manmohan for constitution of task force on health services
New Delhi, March 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed the setting up of a Task Force on planning for human resources for health services with India emerging as a desired global destination for low-cost medicare.

Uma to launch new party
Bhopal, March 19
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharati has said that she will not spare her traducers who have maligned her and ridiculed her after she was expelled from the BJP.

Govt steps to reduce polluting brown clouds
New Delhi, March 19
The government has said it has taken several measures to stem the pollutant loading atmospheric brown cloud (ABC) to reduce its possible impact over monsoon and agriculture.

Nitish offers rehabilitation package to criminals
Patna, March 19
Soon after completing hundred days in office, the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government has worked out a lucrative surrender and rehabiliation package for hardened criminals to check the soaring crime graph in the state.

Longest flyover to come up in Hyderabad
Hyderabad, March 19
The longest elevated expressway in the country is coming up in the city to provide faster connectivity to the upcoming Hyderabad International Airport.Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on Thursday laid the foundation stone for the elevated corridor, which runs 11.34 km starting from Mehdipatnam to Aramgarh Junction on National Highway 7. The prestigious project, estimated to cost around Rs 600 crore, is to be implemented on BOT basis and is scheduled to be completed in two years.

Muslim board leaders criticise Varanasi blasts
Patna, March 19
Several Muslim organisations have strongly condemned terrorism and the recent bomb blasts in Varanasi as “un-Islamic”. Leaders of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), an umbrella organisation of various groups comprising Imarat-e-Shariah, Jammat-Ahl-e-Haids and Darul Uloom, Deoband, asserted that Islam was totally against terrorism and the killing of the innocent.

Poll for PGI members on May 16
New Delhi, March 19
The election of two members to the PGI’s Chandigarh, will be held on May 16. The last date for filing nominations to elect two members is March 20 and the last date of withdrawal is March 22.

Hooda honours Sainik School students
New Delhi, March 19
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has called for adequate facilities in Sainik Schools as these played a key role in providing officers to the Army.

Mahashweta Devi hospitalised
Kolkata, March 19
Noted social activist and litterateur Mahashweta Devi was tonight admitted to state-run S.S.K.M. Hospital after she received injuries in a fall at her south Kolkata residence here, hospital sources said. Her condition was stable and injuries were not  serious in nature, the sources said. — PTI

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NC for no freebies to Pandits on return to valley
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
Former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir Dr Farooq Abdullah believes in no freebies. While he hopes that the displaced Kashmiri Pandit community will eventually return to the valley, he makes it explicitly clear that the community will not be extended any financial freebies by his party that is gearing up to contest the forthcoming byelections in the state.

Speaking to The Tribune, the former president of the National Conference (NC) said as far as the return of Pandits to the valley was concerned, his party had no proposals.

“My party does not propose anything, it just hopes and wishes that the climate in the state will be so conducive in the times to come that the Pandits will themselves return,” Dr Abdullah said.

He said unlike the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) that proposed incentives like residential areas earmarked for the community within the valley, his party had put forth no such solutions. “Why do you need incentives to come back to your own home? Do you woo somebody to his own home?”, he said.

Replying to a question on who will bear the onus of providing shelter to the displaced community, were they to return, he said, “if they have sold property, they will have to buy it. We are not going to give them anything. There will be no gifts. Farooq Abdullah will not get a gift so why should any other person get a gift”.

The former Chief Minister also criticised the community for seeking a separate homeland. “Where will they have a homeland. Wherever they stay, they will have to pass through Muslims-dominated areas. So what is the homeland where you have to have boundaries…how will they exist there,” he said pointing out the infeasibility of the proposal.

“Besides all people who have settled outside and abroad, who have established themselves in professions and have set up homes, will not come back. They will come as visitors. And in that there will be Muslims as well as Hindus,” he concluded.

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Cong indulging in minority appeasement: Rajnath

Pondicherry, March 19
BJP president Rajnath Singh today accused the Congress-led UPA government of indulging in minority appeasement by “trying to introduce reservation on the basis of religion”.

Mr Rajnath Singh, who is here on a one-day visit to kickstart the BJP’s poll campaign, told reporters that while reservation for the socially, educationally and economically backward sections would be a step in the right direction, no reservation could be tolerated on the basis of religion.

“This would only be an attempt to mobilise votebank,” he said adding “as far as the BJP was concerned, it did not show any discrimination between Muslims, Christians and Hindus. All are equal”.

He said the BJP would form a government in Assam and the outcome of the Assembly poll in five states would have a “big impact” on the UPA government and its future course.

He said the Congress would not be able to face “the aggressive opposition at the hands of BJP”.

The ‘rath yatras’ were aimed at generating awareness among the people against “divisive and terrorist forces that were spoiling the country”, he said.

Blaming the Union Government for the increase in prices of essential commodities in the country, Mr Rajnath Singh said the UPA dispensation was inclined to implement the recommendations of Rangarajan Committee report which he alleged would further increase prices of petroleum products.

“As per the Budget, commodities of the common man such as bicycles were becoming costlier while those of the affluent like cars and high-end automobilies were becoming cheaper. Service tax also have been increased to 12 per cent,” he said.

“Terrorist activities were also in a rise, thanks to the incapability of the UPA government in containing terrorism. Besides political centres, economic, scientific and cultural centres were also being targeted,” he said. — PTI

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Congress practising ‘minorityism’: Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
Accusing the Congress of indulging in vote-bank politics and practising “minorityism,” senior BJP leader L.K. Advani said today that the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was opposed to reservation for minorities.

Referring to the discussions that had taken place in the Constituent Assembly, he said measures like reservation for minorities were opposed by Nehru for the reason that it could lead to their isolation.

Listing out various moves of the Congress-led UPA government, he said it wanted to give religion-based reservations in Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Advani said the UPA government scrapped POTA and in the matter of the IMDT Act, it revived it by making an amendment to the Foreigners Act. He also referred to survey in the armed forces and the creation of the ministry for minorities.

Seeking to answer criticism that terrorist attacks did occur when he was in the government, Mr Advani said the NDA government took firm steps to contain terrorism and mobilised world opinion against it.

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Culling over; 2 being monitored for bird flu

Mumbai, March 19
A doctor with fever and respiratory problems was under observation in western India where tens of thousands of birds were culled to contain a second outbreak of avian flu, officials said on Sunday.

The latest outbreak — in backyard poultry in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra state-- was the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain of bird flu, but it has not infected people so far.

However, late on Saturday, a doctor walked into a local hospital and asked to be put under observation, joining a 11-year-old boy with high fever and a history of exposure to dead birds.

Blood samples of the two had been sent for testing. The boy was being given Tamiflu, the drug that fights bird flu in humans.

Health officials were monitoring 65,000 people spread over 17 villages. Of them, some 150 people had fever, but authorities said the figure was normal.

Blood samples of about 90 people from Jalgaon had been sent for testing, but officials said that was purely out of "academic curiosity".

Veterinary officials said they had finished culling all chickens -- numbering more than 75,000 -- in four villages spread over 1,100 square km in Jalgaon district identified as affected by the outbreak.

Samples from unaffected poultry elsewhere in Maharashtra were being collected to ensure bird flu had not spread beyond Jalgaon.

Jalgaon is 200 km from Navapur, where India reported its first case of the H5N1 strain in poultry last month.

After the first outbreak, India tested more than 100 people for bird flu but all proved negative. Indian authorities said last week they had contained the virus after culling hundreds of thousands of chickens in Navapur town and neighbouring areas, but within days the second

outbreak was reported from Jalgaon.

Jharkhand: The death of two street dogs after reportedly consuming dead chicks caused bird flu scare at Ramgarh in Jharkhand's Hazaribag district with the district administration ordering a probe.

Appealing to the people not to get panicky, the district administration was waiting for submission of report by the high-level team for deciding on the next action.

Local people claimed that the street dogs died sometime after consuming dead chicks, which were lying near a poultry farm in Ramgarh town yesterday. — Agencies

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Haryana districts plagued by ground water contamination
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
Most districts of Haryana are plagued by the contamination of ground water with Faridabad being the worst affected due to problems of salinity and presence of excess fluoride, nitrate and heavy metals.

The Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) has found that areas in 16 districts of Haryana face problem of ground water contamination.

Eight districts of Punjab, three of Himachal Pradesh and one of Uttaranchal also suffer from ground water pollution.

Areas in Sonipat, Rohtak, Hisar, Sirsa, Faridabad, Jind, Gurgaon, Bhiwani and Mahendergarh suffer from salinity and presence of excess fluoride and nitrate. Jhajjar, Kaithal, Karnal, Kurukshetra, Rewari, Fatehabad and Panipat have areas suffering from excess fluoride contamination while Ambala has places with nitrate contamination.

In Punjab, Bhatinda, Sangrur, Faridkot and Ferozepore have areas with excess fluoride and nitrate contamination besides salinity. Mansa and Moga are affected by excess fluoride levels while ground water in areas of Ludhiana and Mandi Gobindgarh is contaminated by heavy metals.

Kullu, Solan and Una in Himachal Pradesh have areas with nitrate pollution. Uttaranchal has the least contaminated ground water among the northern states with only Nainital affected by nitrate pollution.

CGWB officials said poor quality of ground water was mainly due to contamination of ground water-bearing rocks, excessive use of fertilisers, industrial and domestic effluents, mining wastes and saline water ingress.

Ground water meets nearly 85 per cent of water requirement for domestic use in rural areas of the country and over 50 per cent for urban and industrial uses.

The consumption of contaminated water can have serious impact on health. According to experts, heavy metals like lead may cause irreversible brain damage, seizure coma, fatigue and irritability.

Excessive amount of fluoride in drinking water may cause dental molting, skeletal and crippling fluorosis. Prolonged consumption of water with arsenic content causes diseases like dermatosis, keratosis, conjunctivitis, bronchitis and gastro-enteritis in the initial stage.

Arsenic contamination, which exists in areas of Bhojpur and Patna districts in Bihar, Rajnandgaon in Chhattisgarh and eight districts of West Bengal, can cause peripheral neuropathis, melanosis, de-pigmentation and hyper-keratosis.

Water being a state subject, it is the states which are mainly responsible for taking steps to check ground water pollution, Water Resource Ministry officials said.

The Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission has been assisting states in providing safe drinking water to rural population under the accelerated rural water supply programme.

The officials said in quality-affected rural areas, where ground water is unfit for drinking, efforts are being made to supply safe drinking water through alternative sources and by taking remedial measures like de-flouridation and removing iron and arsenic. Steps have also been taken to monitor the quality of water in critically polluted areas, they said.

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Revolt in JD(U) over RS nominations
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 19
Soon after establishing his supremacy in the party over the selection of nominees for the Rajya Sabha poll, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar suffered a setback in the form of a “mini revolt “ following the resignation by the party`s state unit vice-presieent Shatrughan Prasad Shastri.

Mr Shastri resigned from his post yesterday in protest against the nomination of “RJD turncoats” as JD(U) candidates for Rajya Sabha poll.

Sources in the JD(U) disclosed that, besides Mr Shastri’s resignation, some party functionaries too met at the residence of state unit general secretary Upendra Kumar Kushwaha to express their resentment over the selection of RJD turncoats as JD(U) candidates.

The leaders in JD(U) are particularly frustrated over the fact that despite pleading for value-based politics in public, Mr Kumar denied tickets to genuine JD(U) leaders like Arun Kumar and Upendra Kumar Kushwaha by casting his dice in favour of RJD turncoats Mahendra Prasad, alias King Mahendra, a leading businessman, and Mahendra Sahani.

The third JD(U) candidate Md Ali Anwar too was earlier associated with the RJD, who had shifted his allegience just before the assembly poll.

The JD(U) leaders were more shocked over the nomination of Mahendra Sahani who in 2004 Lok Sabha poll had fought against the JD(U) president George Fernandes from Muzzafarpur as the RJD candidate.

Defending his resignation Mr Shatrughan Prasad Shastri said the Chief Minister had neglected dedicated workers to promote the culture of “turncoat politics”.

Mr Shastri also criticised Mr Nitish Kumar for allegedly patronising criminal and anti-social elements in the party, who, according to him, were controlling the day-to-day affairs.

Meanwhile, the RJD has written to the Election Commission to nullify the nomination of Mahendra Prasad as JD(U) candidate as he was the still party member.

The state RJD president Abdul Bari Siddiqi said that Mr Mahendra Prasad was suspended from the party, and not expelled, and hence he still continued as a RJD member.”His nomination as JD(U) candidate for Rajya Sabha is illegal. Even in the last term in 2004 he had won Rajya Sabha poll as RJD candidate”, Mr Siddiqi said.

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Manmohan for constitution of task force on health services
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has directed the setting up of a Task Force on planning for human resources for health services with India emerging as a desired global destination for low-cost medicare.

“There is a huge gap in the human resources in the health sector in India, which include doctors, nurses and laboratory technicians. This has been highlighted in its report by the National Commission on Macroeconomics and Health,” the Prime Minister’s media advisor Sanjaya Baru said in a statement here.

There were also growing opportunities, with India emerging as a major international centre for low- cost healthcare.

“The fact that India is demographically a young nation gives it an opportunity to have its trained personnel meeting the healthcare needs of the demographically ageing countries,” Mr Baru said.

The Prime Minister has asked the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission to set up the Task Force that would have representatives from the Union Health Ministry, the health ministry of selected states and professional experts.

The Task Force will pinpoint the gaps in the health sector, identify new opportunities and submit a human development plan for the Indian health sector.

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Uma to launch new party
Our Correspondent

Bhopal, March 19
Former Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Uma Bharati has said that she will not spare her traducers who have maligned her and ridiculed her after she was expelled from the BJP.

She told media persons at her residence here last night that she had not been able to forget how some BJP leaders in Delhi and Bhopal and a couple of newspapers in Madhya Pradesh had maligned her and made fun of her. When the time comes, she will teach them a lesson, she said.

It was Ms Bharati’s first visit to Bhopal after she had walked out of the BJP legislature party meeting on November 28 last year (where Mr Shivraj Singh Chauhan was elected leader) and launched her Ram-Roti yatra. She was in Bhopal for a few hours.

She said that she was in a position to pull down the Shivraj Singh Chauhan government within 24 hours and she would do so when the people ask her to. She, however, felt like giving a year to the BJP government to fulfil their promises made to the people.

She once again flipped on her plans to launch a new party and said that it would not be done on Tuesday as she had announced earlier but on April 30.

She would only disclose her strategy at the March 21 convention in Delhi and would launch her new party on April 30 at Chitrakoot.

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Govt steps to reduce polluting brown clouds
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
The government has said it has taken several measures to stem the pollutant loading atmospheric brown cloud (ABC) to reduce its possible impact over monsoon and agriculture.

The ABC refers to the high loading of pollutants in the atmosphere consisting of mixture of anthropogenic sulphates, nitrates, organics, black carbon, dust, fly ash particles and natural aerosols such as sea salt and mineral dust.

The brownish clour of the cloud is due to the absorption and scattering of solar ultraviolet radiation by black carbon, soil-derived dust, fly ash and nitrogen oxide The ABC phenomenon occurs over several regions in the world and is a seasonal phenomenon.

Minister of State for Environment and Forests Namo Narain Meena told the Rajya Sabha that the precise impacts of pollutants loading over monsoon rain and agriculture was still under study and an international programme has been initiated to better understand origins, inventories and impacts of Atmospheric Brown Cloud (ABC).

He said the government had taken several measures like the introduction of tightened emission norms, use of cleaner fuels and introduction of biogas plants. A programme named INDOEX (Indian Ocean Experiment) undertaken during 1996-1999 with the participation by Indian scientists had drawn attention of the international community on the issue pertaining to ABC. The preliminary investigation of effects of pollution loading on winter rice and winter rains was undertaken for India through a modeling approach.

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Nitish offers rehabilitation package to criminals
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 19
Soon after completing hundred days in office, the Nitish Kumar-led NDA government has worked out a lucrative surrender and rehabiliation package for hardened criminals to check the soaring crime graph in the state.

With over 100 abductions and 300 murders ever since the NDA formed government in Bihar in November last, Mr Kumar is exploring other ways besides the “stick” to establish the rule of law in the state. The state government has introduced yoga and pranayam in some select jails of the state.

The rehabiliation package includes a handsome compensation for surrendering firearms. The package offers Rs 25,000 for surrender of rocket launchers and lmg, Rs 15,000 for AK-56 and AK-47 rifles and Rs 3,000 for pistols and revolvers.

According to the state police department, the rehabilitation package would be worth Rs 2 lakh, out of which 25 per cent would be government aid while the rest 75 per cent would be easy loan. 

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Longest flyover to come up in Hyderabad
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, March 19
The longest elevated expressway in the country is coming up in the city to provide faster connectivity to the upcoming Hyderabad International Airport.Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy on Thursday laid the foundation stone for the elevated corridor, which runs 11.34 km starting from Mehdipatnam to Aramgarh Junction on National Highway 7. The prestigious project, estimated to cost around Rs 600 crore, is to be implemented on BOT basis and is scheduled to be completed in two years.

Once completed, the drive from the city to the airport will be just about 30 minutes. The Hyderabad Urban Development Authority has been entrusted with the task of providing the world-class connectivity between the airport at Shamshabad and the city.

The Rs 1,400 crore Greenfield Hyderabad International Airport project is being implemented by the GMR Group headed consortium, including Malaysia Airports Holdings, Berhad. 

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Muslim board leaders criticise Varanasi blasts
Tribune News Service

Patna, March 19
Several Muslim organisations have strongly condemned terrorism and the recent bomb blasts in Varanasi as “un-Islamic”.
Leaders of the All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), an umbrella organisation of various groups comprising Imarat-e-Shariah, Jammat-Ahl-e-Haids and Darul Uloom, Deoband, asserted that Islam was totally against terrorism and the killing of the innocent.

Talking to the media Maulana Mohamad Nizamuddin, who is Amir-e-Shariat, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa, said that AIMPLB at a recent meeting organised in Bangalore, a day after the Varanasi blasts, passed a resolution condemning the terrorist attack on Sankatmochan Temple.

He also flayed certain militant organisations like Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba for linking their names with the Prophet to justify their acts in the name of Islam.

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Poll for PGI members on May 16
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
The election of two members to the PGI’s Chandigarh, will be held on May 16.
The last date for filing nominations to elect two members is March 20 and the last date of withdrawal is March 22.

The vacancies have arisen as Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, MP, and Mr Suresh Chandel have completed their terms as elected members to this prestigious institution. The new members will be elected amongst the Members of Parliament.

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Hooda honours Sainik School students
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 19
The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Bhupinder Singh Hooda, has called for adequate facilities in Sainik Schools as these played a key role in providing officers to the Army.

Speaking at a felicitation function here to honour 16 cadets of Sainik School Kunjpura (Karnal), who have been selected to for National Defence Academy (NDA), Mr Hooda said the number of Sainik Schools had gone up to 20 in the country. He said Sainik School, Kunjpura (Karnal) had already sent more than 450 of its students to the NDA.

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