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N A T I O N

SC no to stopping work on Sardar Sarovar dam
New Delhi, July 10
The Supreme Court today declined to stop the construction of controversial Sardar Sarovar dam following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision in this regard and allowed raising its height evenly up to 119 meters in all blocks to save it from any damage during monsoon.

Cong committed to economic reforms
New Delhi, July 10
After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was forced by UPA partners to place all divestment plans on hold, the Congress today made a valiant attempt to send out a reassuring message that this temporary roadblock will not be allowed to halt the process of economic reforms.

India in a tight spot over deadlock at WTO talks
New Delhi, July 10
The UPA government is finding itself in a tight spot over its stand at the ongoing World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, which have been stalled due to the deadlock among the European Union, the USA and developing countries with regard to lowering of agricultural and industrial tariffs.





EARLIER STORIES




Visiting Sri Lankan Navy Commander Vice-Admiral WKJ Karranagoda shakes hands with Chief of Indian Navy Admiral Arun Prakash before inspecting the guard of honour at South Block in New Delhi on Monday
Visiting Sri Lankan Navy Commander Vice-Admiral WKJ Karranagoda (left) shakes hands with Chief of Indian Navy Admiral Arun Prakash before inspecting the guard of honour at South Block in New Delhi on Monday. — Tribune photo by Rajeev Tyagi

AIIMS Registrar attends office
New Delhi, July 10
The AIIMS Registrar, who was directed by the institute administration on Saturday to relinquish charge, attended office today after the Health Ministry held that such an order could only be issued with the approval of the governing body.

Centre seeks SC nod to beef security at disputed site
New Delhi, July 10
The Centre today sought the Supreme Court’s permission to carry out certain construction to strengthen the security of the disputed site at Ayodhya, where the idol of ‘Ram Lalla’ is placed.

BJP flays Muslim board
New Delhi, July 10
The Bharatiya Janata Party today lashed out at the All- India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) for an attempt to convert a purely security issue into a religious one by politicising the proposed security cover at the Ramjanambhoomi site in Ayodhya.

Centre sets terms for talks with ULFA
New Delhi, July 10
The Centre today virtually set pre-conditions for holding direct peace talks with ULFA by stating that the issuance of extortion notices vitiate the atmosphere in the ongoing peace process.

Quota expert is Arjun’s adviser
New Delhi, July 10
Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh today appointed a former bureaucrat and an expert on the subject of reservations to advise him on the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in elite educational institutions.

Rahul can go to Mumbai
New Delhi, July 10
A city court today allowed the plea of BJP leader Pramod Mahajan's son Rahul, caught in a drugs scandal, to go to Mumbai, but on completion of his narco analysis test on July 26 and 27. Additional Sessions Judge S.N. Gupta, however, dismissed his plea for re-possession of his mobile phone.
Rahul Mahajan, son of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, and Shweta Singh pose for photographers after the engagement ceremony in Delhi on Monday. The would-be-bride hails from Gurgaon and is a pilot with a domestic airline. Rahul and Shweta, both 31, did their flying course together abroad. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal
Rahul Mahajan, son of late BJP leader Pramod Mahajan, and Shweta Singh pose for photographers after the engagement ceremony in Delhi on Monday. The would-be-bride hails from Gurgaon and is a pilot with a domestic airline


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SC no to stopping work on Sardar Sarovar dam
S.S Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 10
The Supreme Court today declined to stop the construction of controversial Sardar Sarovar dam following Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s decision in this regard and allowed raising its height evenly up to 119 meters in all blocks to save it from any damage during monsoon.

The work beyond 119 meters to achieve the sanctioned height of 121.92 meters by Narmada Control Authority will, however, remain suspended during the ongoing monsoon due to continuous rain at construction site and river’s catchment areas as per the Gujarat Government’s decision, which was endorsed by the Prime Minister.

A communication regarding Prime Minister’s decision of July 8 was placed before a special Bench of Chief Justice Y.K Sabharwal, Mr Justice K.G Balakrishnan and Mr Justice S.B Sinha, which passed an order based on it.

“We find no reason to restrict the construction at this state as non-construction may endanger the non-completed blocks,” the Bench said allowing two weeks’ time to NGO, Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), opposing the construction, to submit reply to the stand taken by the Centre and the Gujarat Government.

The Gujarat Government was of the view that stoppage of work abruptly might endanger those blocks where 119 meter height had not been achieved as the uneven level at the top would put more pressure of overflowing water on the lesser built up blocks.

Since in many blocks the height of 119 meters has been achieved and in at least eight blocks it was still at the level of 117 meters, NBA wanted stoppage of the work during monsoon at the level where it stood today on the ground that it would submerge fewer areas during rainy season and the oustees would face lesser problems.

The Prime Minister, who took the decision in view of a central committee under V.K Shunglu to oversee rehabilitation work in Madhya Pradesh, in his communication said, “I am of the view that it would not be appropriate, in the light of the material and observations contained in the report, to pass any direction or orders at this stage stopping the construction of the dam, which is designed to serve larger public interest.”

In view of Prime Minister’s emphasis on speeding up of the rehabilitation work in Madhya Pradesh, which according to Shunglu panel presented “mixed picture”, the court gave time to the state to complete it by October.

The committee said the work was “good in 37 sites, average at 25 places and poor in 24 others.” But the panel did not present as bleak a picture as presented by a group of three Central Ministers, led by Saifuddin Soz in May during a whirlwind tour of the state amidst NBA activist Medha Patkar’s hunger strike in Capital, which was supported by Bollywood actor Aamir Khan.

“The deficiencies can be removed during the present financial year. For the present, the number of developed plots exceeds the number of project affected families who need to be rehabilitated,” the Shunglu panel said.

Gujarat Government and Centre’s counsel told the court that the work beyond 119 meters would resume after monsoon to achieve the approved height of 121.92 meters.

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Cong committed to economic reforms
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10
After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was forced by UPA partners to place all divestment plans on hold, the Congress today made a valiant attempt to send out a reassuring message that this temporary roadblock will not be allowed to halt the process of economic reforms.

At the same time, the party is trying hard to dispel the impression that the Prime Minister’s authority has been eroded and his position weakened, stating that Dr. Singh did not bow to pressure but instead showed sensitivity to the views of UPA partners when he decided to halt all divestment plans.

“The process of economic reforms has not been put on hold,” Congress spokesperson Satyavarat Chaturvedi stated here emphatically, adding that the party is well aware that this is not going to be an easy path to follow but is, nevertheless, committed to removing the hurdles through discussions.

Having been left with little option after the DMK refused to endorse Centre’s divestment proposal on Tamil Nadu-based PSU Nyeveli Lignite Corporation, a desperate Congress is now projecting itself as an able coalition manager. “There is no question of acting under pressure but when some allies raised objections, the PM thought it prudent to first discuss this issue with them before proceeding further,” Mr. Chaturvedi explained.

While the Left parties have consistently opposed divestment in all profit-making PSUs, this is the first time that the DMK objected to the Centre’s move. Although it is putting up a brave face, the Congress is also worried that this issue could well become a rallying point for the UPA partners.

The Congress has reason enough to feel concerned since RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav has also come out in support of the DMK. Congress insiders admitted that this situation was a result of its poor political management, stating that party strategists should ensure that the allies are not allowed to band together.

Nevertheless, the Congress sought to deflect attention from its internal problems by attacking the BJP for spreading rumours about differences between the Prime Minister and its party president Sonia Gandhi and that the PM had acted under pressure when he placed all divestment on hold.

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India in a tight spot over deadlock at WTO talks
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10
The UPA government is finding itself in a tight spot over its stand at the ongoing World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks, which have been stalled due to the deadlock among the European Union, the USA and developing countries with regard to lowering of agricultural and industrial tariffs.

While WTO chief Pascal Lamy and the USA are putting pressure on India to compromise on import tariffs to break the deadlock, farmers’ organisations in India have warned the government not to concede any condition on the agricultural front.

In fact, despite announcing a financial package for the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra, the Prime Minister is already facing flak over the alarming situation developing due to farmers’ suicides and increasing price of essential commodities.

The government’s decision to import over 35 lakh tonne wheat this year and liberal import of cotton have annoyed the farmers, especially in the wheat and cotton belt in Congress-ruled states.

“We will not allow the government to buckle under the US pressure or the pressure of the domestic IT industry to compromise with the interest of millions of farmers to attain marginal benefits from the USA for IT professionals,” Mr Yudhvir Singh, secretary, Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movement, told The Tribune.

The committee organised a dharna at Jantar Mantar here today, warning the government against compromise at the WTO with regard to the agriculture sector and its decision to import wheat and attempts to permit the US companies to bring genetically modified vegetable crops to India without any scientific study of its results on humans and environment.

Brushing aside claims of Commerce Minister Kamal Nath about gains at previous meet, he said: “The so-called gains from the Hong Kong declaration are again proving to be illusory. We have been hearing from the USA and the EU about proposed cut in agricultural tariffs but without any result.”

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AIIMS Registrar attends office
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10
The AIIMS Registrar, who was directed by the institute administration on Saturday to relinquish charge, attended office today after the Health Ministry held that such an order could only be issued with the approval of the governing body.

Responding favourably to the Registrar’s representation, the Health Ministry, in a letter issued to the AIIMS Director and the Dean, said: “The post of Registrar is open selection sanctioned post and the appointing authority as well as the disciplinary authority for Group A post in AIIMS is the governing body, according to AIIMS regulations.

Accordingly any order asking him to relinquish the charge of the post can be issued only with the approval of the competent authority, that is the governing body. Till such time the order dated July 7, regarding relinquishing the duties of Registrar by Mr V.P. Gupta, may not be given effect to.

Sources said the Registrar made a representation to the Health Minister and the president of the institute, Dr Anbhumani Ramadoss, soon after he received a letter informing him that he was being removed till further orders. The letter further said his duties as Registrar would be looked after by the Assistant Administrative Officer.

The institute administration further said in the letter that Mr Gupta’s explanation on the issuance of an order dated June 30 on the release of pay to doctors during the 17-day-long anti-quota stir, was considered by the competent authority but not found satisfactory.

“However, he is required to submit his detailed explanation on the above matter within two weeks from the date of issue of this memorandum,” the letter said. 

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Centre seeks SC nod to beef security at disputed site

New Delhi, July 10
The Centre today sought the Supreme Court’s permission to carry out certain construction to strengthen the security of the disputed site at Ayodhya, where the idol of ‘Ram Lalla’ is placed.

The matter was mentioned by the Centre’s counsel before a Bench of Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justice D.K. Jain, which posted it for hearing in the first week of August.

The Centre said the decision had been taken after discussions with the Uttar Pradesh Government and various intelligence agencies.

The court’s permission for carrying out any constructions in the disputed complex was needed in view of its earlier order to maintain status quo there.

The government plans to install bullet-proof steel structures around the idol of ‘Ram Lalla’ at the disputed site in Ayodhya to further enhance security there in the wake of last year’s terrorist attack.

The Centre also wants to install close circuit television and set up concrete bunkers at the disputed site. — PTI

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BJP flays Muslim board
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10
The Bharatiya Janata Party today lashed out at the All- India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) for an attempt to convert a purely security issue into a religious one by politicising the proposed security cover at the Ramjanambhoomi site in Ayodhya.

‘‘The matter should not be seen from religious angle but from the security aspect. We want that every religious place, be it a temple, mosque, gurdwara or church should be protected from any terrorist attack. The security agencies have cautioned the Centre about the terrorists’ design to foment communal tensions by attacking the Ayodhya Temple. If the Centre is approaching the Supreme Court for strengthening security of the Ram Lalla site, the AIMPLB should not oppose it,’’ BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said.

Referring to the meeting of Delhi Assembly Deputy Speaker Shoaib Iqbal with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to oppose the move, Mr Javadekar said “it is nothing but communal politics.”

‘‘Where is the question of religion if a place associated with the feelings of millions of people is protected from any attack by terrorists?’’ he asked. 

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Centre sets terms for talks with ULFA
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10
The Centre today virtually set pre-conditions for holding direct peace talks with ULFA by stating that the issuance of extortion notices vitiate the atmosphere in the ongoing peace process.

After a review meeting with Assam Chief Secretary S. Kabilan and Director-General of Police D.N. Dutta in the wake of the Rs 15 lakh ransom demanded by ULFA from RBI, Union Home Secretary V.K. Duggal told reporters here that the outfit should desist from “pinpricks” and should give an assurance that a peaceful atmosphere would be created and nothing untoward would happen.

“The government is committed to pursue the process of talks to ensure lasting peace in Assam.” he said in a statement.

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Quota expert is Arjun’s adviser
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 10
Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh today appointed a former bureaucrat and an expert on the subject of reservations to advise him on the 27 per cent reservation for OBCs in elite educational institutions.

Mr P.S. Krishnan, a 1956 batch IAS officer who was in the Welfare Ministry at the time when former Prime Minister V.P. Singh had announced the implementation of 27 per cent job reservation in government for OBCs in 1990, has been appointed as Honorary Adviser to the minister to specifically advise on the reservation issue.

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