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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

India to join gas pipeline project
New Delhi, May 18
With the chances of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline receding, India today decided to join the US-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project to meet its growing energy needs.

Navy keeping close watch
Violence in Sri Lanka

Chennai, May 18
The Indian Navy has stepped up surveillance and patrolling in the Indian Ocean in view of the escalating violence in Sri Lanka and if the Indian Government desired it is ready to render its services there, Admiral Arun Prakash, Chief of the Naval Staff, said here today.

Budhadeb sworn in as Chief Minister
Kolkata, May 18
The CPM-led 44-member seventh Left Front government, headed by Mr Budhadeb Bhattacharjee, was sworn in today. The Governor, Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi, administered the oath of offices to the Chief Minister and the ministers.



West Bengal Chief Minister Budhadev Bhattacharya waves to supporters as he attends a public reception after being sworn in as Chief Minister of the seventh Left Front Government in Kolkata on Thursday. — AFP photo
West Bengal Chief Minister Budhadev Bhattacharya waves to supporters as he attends a public reception after being sworn in as Chief Minister of the seventh Left Front Government in Kolkata










EARLIER STORIES

 

Green signal to Anil Ambani for Mumbai metro
Mumbai, May 18
A consortium led by Reliance Energy Ltd, owned by the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group, has received clearance to build the first phase of the Mumbai metro rail project, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said here today.

India hardens stand on Siachen
New Delhi, May 18
India today publicly drew its own Lakshman Rekha on the Siachen dispute when Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that authentication of the positions presently held by India and Pakistan on the highest battlefield of the world was the basis for redeployment of forces.

Resolution likely on Rahul’s induction at CWC meeting
New Delhi, May 18
A formal resolution seeking the induction of Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi in the party organisation is likely to be taken up at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday.

BJP objects to setting up of committees by Centre
New Delhi, May 18
The Bharatiya Janata Party today objected to the UPA Government’s way of setting up a number of groups of ministers (GoM) and committees to resolve all contentious issues instead of letting the respective ministries tackle them.

Situation in J&K better, says Pranab
New Delhi, May 18
The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is better than what it was a year ago but pointed out that the decline in terrorism is due to sustained efforts of the Army and paramilitary forces.

BJP asks Sinha to defuse crisis in Jharkhand
New Delhi, May 18
With a political crisis looming large in Jharkhand in the wake of party Vice-President Babulal Marandi’s resignation, BJP President Rajnath Singh today asked senior leader and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha to get active and save the Arjun Munda-led coalition through his persuasive and diplomatic skills.

Babulal Marandi resigns
Ranchi, May 18
Two top political leaders in Jharkhand today announced almost simultaneous resignations — Mr Babulal Marandi from the BJP’s preliminary membership and the Lok Sabha and Stephen Marandi from the post of convener of state United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

Mohta not involved in scam: MEA
New Delhi, May 18
The Ministry of External Affairs today batted one of its officers, Mr Madhup Mohta, who has been linked to the human trafficking scam by certain media reports.

Oppn, Left question govt’s ATR on Netaji report
New Delhi, May 18
Left parties and the Opposition today demanded the government the reasons for turning down the Mukherjee Commission’s finding that freedom struggle icon Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was not killed in a plane crash.

Insurance cos not liable to pay interest: SC 
New Delhi, May 18
Defining the liabilities of insurance companies providing insurance cover to workers of an organisation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act scheme, the Supreme Court has ruled that they are not liable to pay interest or penalty on compensatory amount unless a specific provision for this was made in the insurance agreement itself.

Development not at cost of environment: SC
New Delhi, May 18
Laying down clear guidelines for government agencies for giving approval to projects, the Supreme Court has said that ecologly and environment could not be allowed to be “impaired” at the cost of development.

Train tragedy averted
Patna, May 18
A major tragedy, involving the Dhanbad-Patna Ganga Damodar Express, was averted with the timely detection and defusion of a bomb with time devicer after the train arrived at the Patna station around 5-45 a.m today.

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India to join gas pipeline project
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
With the chances of the Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline receding, India today decided to join the US-backed Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project to meet its growing energy needs.

However, the Cabinet deferred the decision on lowering import duty and domestic levies on the liquefied natural gas (LNG) to reduce the cost of production of power, and regarding hike in oil prices.

Although with growing threat of the Taliban in the war-ravaged Afghanistan, and the limited gas reserves in Turkmenistan, the experts have questioned the future of that project as well.

“The Cabinet has approved the Petroleum Ministry’s proposal for joining the TAP project,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunsi told reporters after the Cabinet meeting.

It is believed that Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s opposition was the reason for the deferment of the decision on duty cuts on LNG, a proposal originally mooted by the Petroleum Ministry.

Notably, New Delhi had in mid-February participated for the first time as an “observer” in the ninth meeting of the steering committee of the TAP project and has since decided to join the $ 3.5-billion project.

Ignoring the growing security threat in Afghanistan, India has decided to join the TAP project. “The project will now be renamed TAPI (Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline),” he said.

With the increasing possibility of UN sanctions on Iran following nuclear conflict, New Delhi seems to have fallen in line with the US putting pressure on India and Pakistan to join this project.

The US is said to making efforts to bring out Turkmenistan out of the Russian influence as part of its strategic interests in the region.

Besides the fact that Iran was bargaining for a very high price for the gas it wants to sell to New Delhi through the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline and in its liquid form (LNG), the pipeline from Turkmenistan would be easier to implement than IPI line as it already had the backing of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

Moreover, unlike the IPI, the project does not run the risk of being blacklisted for participation by the US and European financiers and companies.

The proposed natural gas pipeline would stretch from the Turkmenistan/ Afghanistan border in south-eastern Turkmenistan to Multan, Pakistan (1,271-km), with a 640-km extension to India.

The estimated cost of the project is $ 2.9 billion for the segment to Pakistan and an additional $ 600 million for the extension to India.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today reviewed the prices of essential commodities at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Prices (CCP) and the steps that have been taken to rein in inflation, particularly the prices of essential commodities, including wheat, rice and sugar.

Earlier, the Cabinet gave its approval for carrying out Amendments to the Banking Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) and Financial Institutions Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2005, with a view to enhance flexibility of the Boards of Directors and improve corporate governance.

It also gave its approval to introduce official amendments to the Government Securities Bill, 2004, introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 21, 2004, based on the recommendations of the Standing Committee on Finance.

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to the enactment of a new Legislation on Payment and Settlement Systems Bill, 2006 which seeks to provide for a legal basis to recognise clearing houses, legal sanction to netting of payments with receipts, finality of settlement, recognition of service providers and participants, electronic mode of payments and explicit powers of supervision over Securities Clearing and Settlement (SCSS).

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Navy keeping close watch
Violence in Sri Lanka

Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, May 18
The Indian Navy has stepped up surveillance and patrolling in the Indian Ocean in view of the escalating violence in Sri Lanka and if the Indian Government desired it is ready to render its services there, Admiral Arun Prakash, Chief of the Naval Staff, said here today.

He said, “We have enhanced both naval and air surveillance in the area in view of the situation in Sri Lanka. We are much more vigilant and on a reasonable state of alert. We should be ready to intervene if the need arises.

“The Indian Navy is ready to render its services in Sri Lanka if the Government of India desires. We are watching the situation in Sri Lanka very carefully.”

Following increase in hostilities between the Sri Lankan defence forces and the LTTE, over the past few months, 917 refugees had arrived at Rameswaram till yesterday. Today, 102 more arrived there.

Regarding the controversial Scorpene sub-marine deal he remarked, “I have no perception on the issue. The Indian Navy only nominates its requirements and the government clears it. In this case too the Ministry of Defence has answered the questions and there had been scrutiny at all levels, including the Parliament and the Central Vigilance Commission.

“As far as we are concerned everything has been done by rules.”

He said six submarines were to be made at the Mazgaon Dock in Mumbai.

Asked about his views on the situation in Sri Lanka and whether the Indian Navy recognised the presence of LTTE in the Indian Ocean, Admiral Prakash said, “We have no view on this since it is an internal matter of Sri Lanka. There can be only one sovereign state and we recognise Sri Lanka as the sovereign state.”

He said the Indian Navy did not have any plans to attack the Sea Tigers, the LTTE’s naval wing, since it was a concern of Sri Lanka and though “the situation in Sri Lanka has escalated but the LTTE has not intruded into our waters.”

Last week, the Sea Tigers, in an attack on a Sri Lankan naval ship, killed 17 sailors.

He said the Indian Navy had a “pretty good level of cooperation with the Sri Lankan Navy”.

Talking about future plans, he said by 2017 the Indian Navy would be a modern and capable blue water navy.

Admiral Prakash explained, “We are a blue water navy, which can cooperate with any country but we need more requirements to reach higher standards.”

He said in the next 10 years the Indian Navy would have 35 more warships, two more aircraft carriers — one to be acquired from Russia and another to be built in Cochin in Kerala.

He said recently a joint naval exercise was carried out with the US Navy for seven days and in the near future there would be a joint warship and submarine exercise between the Indian Navy and the Royal Navy.

Admiral Prakash felt that maritime domain awareness was the necessity of the day due to the increase in piracy and smuggling of narcotics and weapons of mass destruction on the seas.

He said, “We have the required software, reconnaissance aircraft and ships. It will help us not only to locate any ship in the seas but even the identity of the crew and the captain. We will be starting a cooperation programme with other countries in this regard.”

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Budhadeb sworn in as Chief Minister
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, May 18
The CPM-led 44-member seventh Left Front government, headed by Mr Budhadeb Bhattacharjee, was sworn in today. The Governor, Mr Gopal Krishna Gandhi, administered the oath of offices to the Chief Minister and the ministers.

Addressing a meeting after taking the oath, Mr Bhattacharjee warned the UPA that they would no more allow the Manmohan Singh government to succumb to the US pressure against the interest of the common man.

The massive mandate the Left got in West Bengal and Kerala once again strengthened it to fight against capitalism and the US administration, Mr Bhattacharjee said.

The new ministry included 15 new faces, including three women.

The Chief Minister retained the Home, Information and Culture, Development and Planning and five other departments.

Mr Nirupam Som, the second man in command, was reallotted the Commerce and Industries Departments, while Mr Manab Mukherjee is the Small and Cottage Industries and Tourism minister.

The Cabinet included 33 CPM ministers and the remaining 11 were from the CPI, the RSP and the Forward Bloc.

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Green signal to Anil Ambani for Mumbai metro
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, May 18
A consortium led by Reliance Energy Ltd, owned by the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani group, has received clearance to build the first phase of the Mumbai metro rail project, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said here today.

Briefing the media at Mantralaya, Deshmukh said the Rs 2356 crore contract has been awarded to the consortium led by Reliance Energy Ltd and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority after negotiations to hammer down the asking price.

The first phase of the Mumbai metro rail project will kick off with 11 km elevated corridor on the congested Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar route. Mr Deshmukh said work on this will start by June when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lays the foundation stone for the project.

As per the contract signed with the Reliance Energy-MMRDA consortium a special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be formed to complete the project which will be complete in three years. In all, the first phase will be of 38 km in length stretching from Colaba in south Mumbai to Charkop in Western Mumbai. Another 18 km of connecting line will take the metro upto the limits of Mumbai bordering Navi Mumbai.

Explaining the details of the project, Mr Deshmukh said the Mumbai metro would be completed on the build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) basis. The winners of the bids will complete construction in five years and operate the facility for 30 years before handing it over to the state government.

Giving details of the protracted negotiations between the Reliance consortium and the state government, Mr Deshmukh said the state played hardball to hammer down the asking price. The winners of the bids were asked to cut down the viability gap funding (VGF) from Rs 1251 crore to Rs 650 crore.

Reliance was asked to lower its expected rate of returns from 26 per cent to 15 per cent. Of the Rs 650 crore of VGF, 20 per cent will be contributed by the Central Government and the remaining by the state government.

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India hardens stand on Siachen
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
India today publicly drew its own Lakshman Rekha on the Siachen dispute when Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply that authentication of the positions presently held by India and Pakistan on the highest battlefield of the world was the basis for redeployment of forces.

With this statement, New Delhi has not only hardened its position on Siachen but also conveyed a point that the ball is now in Pakistan’s court to make up its mind on the 22-year-old bilateral dispute. The Indian minister’s written reply in Parliament comes days before the Defence Secretaries of the two countries hold two-day expert-level talks here on May 23-24. This will be the tenth round of formal Indo-Pak talks on Siachen.

The two countries agree in principle on the futility of deploying troops in the cold desert where their biggest enemy is not each other’s gun fire but the weather. Indian troops are deployed up to the height of more than 21,000 feet in Siachen. According to a proposal being seriously considered by the two sides, the two countries’ militaries may reposition their troop deployment at 16,000 feet and bing them to a lower altitude.

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Resolution likely on Rahul’s induction at CWC meeting
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
A formal resolution seeking the induction of Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi in the party organisation is likely to be taken up at the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Saturday.

This is the first meeting of the party’s highest decision-making body after Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s spectacular win in the recent Rae Bareli bypoll. As her campaign manager, Rahul Gandhi was seen as the architecht of this victory.

The meeting has been called primarily to review the results of the recent assembly polls, the upcoming round table conference on Kashmir to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the completion of two years of the UPA government. In addition, a discussion on the volatile reservation issue is not being ruled out either since this is the first opportunity that the party has got to debate the matter ever since this controversy erupted.

However, there are indications that the meeting may well witness a concerted demand from those present that the young Gandhi be entrusted with responsibilities in the party organisation. The Congress president has already indicated as much recently when she told presspersons son after her elections results that tehre was every possibility that Rahul Gandhi may be given a formal position in the party.

The demand for Rahul Gandhi’s inclusion as an AICC general secretary is articulated periodically. Soon after Mrs Gandhi’s impressive win, a group of first-time MPs had formally called on the Congress president and reiterated this request. A similar pitch was made earlier this year at the AICC plenary session in Hyderabad to which Rahul Gandhi had said that he needed more time since he was still learning the ropes.

Now that the Congress heir-apparent has proved his organisational capabilities in the Rae Barelli bypoll, there is a growing view in the party that he is ready for greater responsibilities.

While the Rahul “side-show” could be brought up by enthusiastic party leaders, the CWC will debate the party’s performance in the recent assembly elections which proved to be a mixed bag for the Congress. Since Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is slated to chair the second round table conference on Kashmir in Srinagar on May 24 and 25 where he will hold talks with mainstream parties and separatist groups, the party will finetune its strategy on the matter, providing a roadmap to the government on its handling of Kashmir affairs.

With the UPA government completing two years in office on May 22, the CWC can be expected to express its satisfaction at the ruling combine’s performance and congratulate Dr Manmohan Singh on his effective leadership.

On its part, the government has planned a special programme to mark its second anniversary next Monday for which all the UPA MPs, including those from the Left parties, have been invited. A booklet, detailing the government’s achievements in different states, will be released at the Prime Minister’s residence which will be preceded by presentations by different ministers on the progress they have made on the implementation of the common minimum programme. The presentations, it is learnt, will focus on the government’s thrust areas in health, agriculture, rural development and infrastructure sectors.

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BJP objects to setting up of committees by Centre
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
The Bharatiya Janata Party today objected to the UPA Government’s way of setting up a number of groups of ministers (GoM) and committees to resolve all contentious issues instead of letting the respective ministries tackle them.

Referring to the setting up of another high-powered group of ministers to look into the reservation issue in professional institutions and medical colleges, the party said it would be the 40th such GoM constituted by the Government where various ministries differed on the matter.

Talking to newspersons, BJP Parliamentary Party spokesman Vijay Kumar Malhotra said the coalition government at the Centre had constituted as many as 200 committees, including GoMs, in the past two years.

Stating that the number of committees was unprecedented, Mr Malhotra said perhaps the government had found a ‘new way’ of governance. It could be understandable if one or two committees were constituted to deal with contentious issues. “But in no way it can be justified to constitute so many committees. What ministries are doing?” he asked.

Besides, at the top of it there was another body, National Advisory Council, constituted by this government, to advise on contentious and sensitive matters, he said.

While regretting that neither Prime Minister Manmohan Singh nor Congress President Sonia Gandhi had so far talked to the agitating students on the reservation issue, Mr Malhotra said the present situation was the result of the “ambitions of individual ministers”.

Finding a way out by constituting GoMs or committees would not only “put a question mark” on the governance but also erode the credibility of the office of Prime Minister, he added.

The Prime Minister should hold talks with political parties to resolve the reservation issue, Mr Malhotra asserted.

Earlier, BJP President Rajnath Singh sought a high-level probe into wheat import from Australia saying that the government has awarded the 5 lakh tonne tender to a firm named in the Volcker report on Iraq’s oil-for-food scam.

“Australia’s AWB has been named in the Volcker report and faces allegations of fraud. Therefore, we demand a probe by a high-level agency into the entire import contract, which we suspect is a big scam,” Mr Singh said at a Kisan Morcha protest meeting against wheat import.

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Situation in J&K better, says Pranab
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
The Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, has said the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is better than what it was a year ago but pointed out that the decline in terrorism is due to sustained efforts of the Army and paramilitary forces.

Addressing the Unified Commanders conference here yesterday, he said there was no evidence to suggest that Pakistan had taken measures to completely dismantle the terrorist infrastructure within Pakistan and Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. He added that as a result of dialogue with Pakistan there was a window of opportunity towards peace.

He also asked the top brass of armed forces to adopt an integrated view while considering India’s national security in order to encompass contemporary changes in policies for optimum utilisation of resources.

The Defence Minister released the joint doctrine prepared by the Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff on the occasion. The doctrine contains the fundamental principles by which to conduct future joint operations with the aim of enhancing the fighting capabilities of the armed forces.

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BJP asks Sinha to defuse crisis in Jharkhand
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
With a political crisis looming large in Jharkhand in the wake of party Vice-President Babulal Marandi’s resignation, BJP President Rajnath Singh today asked senior leader and former Union Minister Yashwant Sinha to get active and save the Arjun Munda-led coalition through his persuasive and diplomatic skills.

Even as Mr Marandi formally announced his resignation from the primary membership of the party and Parliament, Mr Sinha, himself a state dissident and sulking at the national level, was sent to persuade Marandi’s sympathisers and supporters among the MLAs not to join hands with him, party sources told the TNS.

Mr Sinha, who has been opposed to the state government, has been asked particularly to talk to legislators owing allegiance to Mr Marandi in an effort to prevent attempts to dislodge the fragile coalition.

The NDA has a strength of 41 in the 81-member Assembly, only two more than UPA’s 39. 

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Babulal Marandi resigns

Ranchi, May 18
Two top political leaders in Jharkhand today announced almost simultaneous resignations — Mr Babulal Marandi from the BJP’s preliminary membership and the Lok Sabha and Stephen Marandi from the post of convener of state United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

With this, the state is all set to have a third political front, a move already in the offing for the past few weeks.

Both Marandis are associated with the Jharkhand Vikash Morcha (JVM), a non-political organisation in the state.

Mr Babulal Marandi is the BJP MP from the Koderma seat in Jharkhand which has 14 representatives in Parliament, while Stephen Marandi represents Dumka legislative assembly seat as an Independent.

Last week speculation was rife when both were seen under one umbrella at a meeting of the JVM held at Jamshedpur. And to the utter embarrassment of the BJP leadership, Babulal Marandi said he would go to any extent to keep up his fight against corruption and extremism. He also attributed lack of development to naxalite movement in the state.

At Jamshedpur, the former Chief Minister hinted at launching a third front too. — UNI

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Mohta not involved in scam: MEA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
The Ministry of External Affairs today batted one of its officers, Mr Madhup Mohta, who has been linked to the human trafficking scam by certain media reports.

The MEA said: “We have seen media reports about the alleged involvement of Mr Madhup Mohta, a senior officer of the Indian Foreign Service, in the case of human trafficking being investigated by the CBI. There have also been references to other allegations against the officer. The Ministry of External Affairs wishes to clarify that these allegations against the officer have not been substantiated. Repeated references to the officer’s alleged misdemeanours are neither fair nor warranted.”

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Oppn, Left question govt’s ATR on Netaji report
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 18
Left parties and the Opposition today demanded the government the reasons for turning down the Mukherjee Commission’s finding that freedom struggle icon Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was not killed in a plane crash.

The Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha, Mr Pranab Mukerjee, responding to the demand said the government had no objection to a structured debate on the issue.

“The Vajpayee government had also rejected the findings of the two previous inquiry commissions while instituting a fresh one...Nothing is abnormal about the government action now,” he added.

Forward Bloc member Subrata Bose, a nephew of Netaji, wanted detailed reasons and explanation from the government for its “cryptic one line” Action Taken Report (ATR) disagreeing with the findings of the panel.

“Netaji was my uncle but he belongs to the whole of India and whether he is alive or dead does not matter. He lives in the heart of the people,” Mr Bose said.

Joining him, BJP’s Deputy Leader V.K. Malhotra said Netaji had problems with the Congress at that time and rejection of the Mukherjee Commission’s report by the UPA regime was “an injustice” to the Indian National Army leader.

“The curtain on how Netaji disappeared should be lifted,” he said, asking the government to throw light on whether Bose was there in Russia.

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Insurance cos not liable to pay interest: SC 
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 18
Defining the liabilities of insurance companies providing insurance cover to workers of an organisation under the Workmen’s Compensation Act scheme, the Supreme Court has ruled that they are not liable to pay interest or penalty on compensatory amount unless a specific provision for this was made in the insurance agreement itself.

“Unlike the scheme of the Motor Vehicles Act, the Workmen’s Compensation Act does not confer a right on the claimant for the payment of compensation in its entirety from the insurer,” a Bench of Justice S.B Sinha and Justice P.K Balsurbamanyan ruled.

But the court made it clear that if there was delay in the settlement of the award, the employer was liable to pay interest to the worker on the insured amount.

The court, however, said it was open to employer to enter into a contract with a insurance company not making it liable to certain matters which did not strictly arise out of the mandatory provision of the Act, including interest or penalty on the compensation amount, because that was not essentially provided in the Workmen’s Compensation Act.

It clarified that if a provision of payment of interest was to be made in the contract with the insurance company by the employer keeping in mind the welfare of its worker, it was not prohibited either under the law to have a specific clause for the same in the insurance agreement. But it could not be claimed as a matter of right under the law.

“The entitlement of the claimant under the Workmen’s Compensation Act is to claim compensation from employer. As between the employer and the insurer, the rights and obligations would depend upon the terms of the insurance contract,” the court said.

The ruling came on an appeal by New India Assurance Company (NIAC), which had challenged Gujarat High Court’s order, directing it to pay 9 per cent interest on the compensation amount of Rs 2.25 lakh it was liable to pay to legal heirs of an employee of a private firm at Ahmedabad, insured with it after he had died in an accident in 1996.

While exonerating NIAC from the liability to pay interest as awarded by the High Court in the absence of a specific provision in the contract itself, the apex court said the employer firm shall pay the same to the kin of the dead worker for late settlement of the compensation award because the Workmen’s Compensation Act confined its liability to indemnify the employer only against the amount of compensation ordered to be paid.

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Development not at cost of environment: SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, May 18
Laying down clear guidelines for government agencies for giving approval to projects, the Supreme Court has said that ecologly and environment could not be allowed to be “impaired” at the cost of development.

Making it clear that during the 60s and 70s the issue of environment had largely been pushed under carpet while approving industrial projects causing irreparable damage to environment, a Bench of Ms Justice Ruma Pal and Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari said. They added in future due care should be taken about adverse consequences of the developmental projects.

It reminding the Union and state governments of their obligations towards maintaining rule of “golden balance” between development and environment.

It said that Stockholm Conference of 1972 and Rio Conference of 1992 had made it mandatory for every nation to take steps to maintain proper balance between development and protection of environment. 

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Train tragedy averted
Tribune News service

Patna, May 18
A major tragedy, involving the Dhanbad-Patna Ganga Damodar Express, was averted with the timely detection and defusion of a bomb with time devicer after the train arrived at the Patna station around 5-45 a.m today.

The Superintendent of Railway Police G.P. Sinha said some passengers and attendants had noticed an abandoned gunny bag containing the bomb in the toilet when the train had left Gaya in the wee hours.

They alerted the GRP who, on arrival of the train at Patna, recovered the bomb and handed it over to the bomb disposal squad. No time was set for the bomb.

The police was inquiring the possible destination of the bomb as also the place from where it had originated.

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