SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Sonia justifies move to go nuclear
New Delhi, January 29
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav takes a nap at the international conference being held to commemorate the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement in New Delhi on Monday. It was a Gandhi show all the way. While Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy was at the centre of the two-day international conference being held here to commemorate the centenary of his Satyagraha movement, the Nehru-Gandhi family proved to be an equal scene-stealer.
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav takes a nap at the international conference being held to commemorate the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement in New Delhi on Monday. — A Tribune photograph

Need to have policy on bio-diesel plants
New Delhi, January 29
A Planning Commission Member today asserted the need to establish a financial mechanism for funding the large-scale plantation of raw materials used to produce bio-diesel in the country.



EARLIER STORIES


ULFA resumes Bihari killings
Guwahati: The ULFA today gunned down two Bihari labourers at Kundil Nagar near Sadiya. The victims have been identified as Shiva Prasad and Sambhu Prasad. The incident came at a time when the whole of Tinsukia district was under night curfew. — UNI

Gowda wants BJP to forego Hindutva
Bangalore, January 29
After redefining secularism, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president H D Deve Gowda now wants the BJP to have different national and state agendas. He says it was okay for the BJP to espouse Hindutva at the national level but that it must work towards the realisation of the common minimum programme in Karnataka in which there is no scope of propagating Hindutva.

Andhra issues notice to Jaya
Hyderabad, January 29
The Congress government in the state has moved against AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa by issuing notices to her for possessing ‘assigned’ land in her farmhouse on the outskirts of the city.

LCA trainer version in Aug
Bangalore, January 29
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) top brass today said a trainer version of the light combat aircraft (LCA) would roll out in August this year even as the weaponisation of the armed version was expected to be completed in an year and a half.

Rs 22,000-cr fertiliser subsidy cleared
New Delhi, January 29
The Government has cleared Rs 22,000 crore fertiliser subsidies of companies and will pay the remaining amount of Rs 12,000 crore by March this year, Fertiliser Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said here today.

Bihar opens call centre under RTI Act
Patna, January 29
Bihar became the first state of the country to introduce a state-run call centre under the state information commission to help the public to get information on the state.

Kaunda urges Bush, allies to stop Iraq war
New Delhi, January 29
At a time when India is redefining its relations with the USA and building bridges with Israel, former President of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda, chief architect of his country’s independence movement and a close friend of the Nehru-Gandhi family, today invoked the spirit of the NAM which he had led along with Nehru.

HC disallows book fair
Kolkata, January 29
Calcutta HC today finally gave the ruling in favour of the environmentalists and banned the holding of the 32nd Kolkata Book Fair at maidans. The ruling was given following a PIL petition filed by the environmentalist, Mr Subhas Dutt and others.

Sonia to open Surajkund mela
New Delhi, January 29
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will inaugurate the 21st Surajkund Crafts Mela on February 1 at the Surajkund Tourist Complex in Faridabad.

Khurana joins Uma’s party
New Delhi, January 29
Former Delhi Chief Minister Madanlal Khurana today joined Ms Uma Bharti’s Bhartiya Jan Shakti (BJS) as its acting chief. Making the announcement in the presence of Ms Bharti, Mr Khurana said he would continue to lead the rest of his life with the ideals of the Sangh and the BJP. Claiming that the BJP was in the grip of conspirators, Mr Khurana accused certain former colleagues in the BJP of spreading distorted news against him and Ms Bharti.


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Sonia justifies move to go nuclear
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
It was a Gandhi show all the way. While Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy was at the centre of the two-day international conference being held here to commemorate the centenary of his Satyagraha movement, the Nehru-Gandhi family proved to be an equal scene-stealer. Organised by the Congress to underline the grand old party’s association with the Mahatma, party president Sonia Gandhi came in for lavish praise during the day-long deliberations even as the galaxy of international speakers dwelt at length on Gandhi’s enduring legacy and its timeless relevance.

The conference, titled “Peace, non-violence and empowerment: Gandhian philosophy in the 21st century”, which opened here today, is as much about the Mahatma as it is about the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Presiding over the gathering, Mrs Gandhi chose to follow in her husband, late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s footsteps when she reiterated India’s commitment to comprehensive, universal nuclear disarmament in her opening remarks at the inaugural function. Nearly 20 years ago, Rajiv Gandhi had presented a similar blueprint before the UN. Justifying India’s move to go nuclear, she said this was due to strategic compulsions and its failure to persuade the world to abolish nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, she reiterated, India remained committed to nuclear disarmament.

It was not just Sonia Gandhi alone but son Rahul Gandhi, who was included as a delegate to the conference on the last day, was also all set to be showcased before the international gathering. It is no coincidence that like his father, the Lok Sabha MP from Amethi has chosen to participate in tomorrow’s session on “Towards a nuclear weapons-free and non-violent world order.” Dwelling at length on the continuing “resonance of Gandhian ideals”, and the need to evolve a “Satyagraha appropriate to our times”, Mrs Gandhi also used this platform to remind the international community and her own party about the adverse impact of globalisation.

In what is seen as a strong message to the Manmohan government, which often gets criticised for its free-market economic policies that have benefited only a fragment of the Indian population, she said: “Our own country, for instance, has made spectacular gains over the past decades and is being rapidly transformed. But destitution, poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy are still widespread. Inequality is very visible.

In a hard-hitting speech, the UPA chairperson said economic growth could be sustainable only if it was all-inclusive and in harmony with nature and the earth’s long-term future.”

Leaders of the Left Front, including CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, also attended the function. External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma, Kaunda, Yunus, former Palestinian foreign minister Nasser Al Kidwa and Lech Walesa also addressed.

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Need to have policy on bio-diesel plants
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
A Planning Commission Member today asserted the need to establish a financial mechanism for funding the large-scale plantation of raw materials used to produce bio-diesel in the country.

“We need to set up such a mechanism that farmers can get financial support. They can’t wait two to three years for plantations to bear fruits,” Dr Kirit S. Parikh said at the bio-diesel summit here.

Jatropha, one of the raw materials used for the production of bio-diesel, starts bearing fruits in the second or third year of its plantation and produces harvestable yield of about 1.5 to 2.5 kg per tree.

Dr Parikh said up to 250 tonnes of oil could be produced if 60-65 hectares of wasteland, which the country currently possesses, were brought under cultivation.

Scouting for the introduction of the financial mechanism, he said such a facility would reduce India’s dependence on the imported oil.

Currently, the country requires more than 100 million tonnes of oil, which is expected to reach between 350 to 500 million tonnes in the next 25 years. The consumption of high-speed diesel during 2005-06 was around 40 million mmt.

“Even 5 per cent blend of bio-diesel in petrol diesel would save a significant amount of foreign exchange outflow,” Petroleum Minister Murli Deora said. The Petroleum Ministry has already announced ‘bio-diesel purchase policy’ in October 2005, under which the bio-diesel produced with BIS specifications would be purchased by the public sector oil companies.

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Gowda wants BJP to forego Hindutva
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 29
After redefining secularism, former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) president H D Deve Gowda now wants the BJP to have different national and state agendas. He says it was okay for the BJP to espouse Hindutva at the national level but that it must work towards the realisation of the common minimum programme in Karnataka in which there is no scope of propagating Hindutva.

Gowda’s statement, made at the JD (S) National Council, assumes significance in the wake of an aggressive Hindutva programme launched by the party ever since it formed a coalition government with the JD (S). A few months back it had openly supported holding of ‘padyatras’ at Baba Badungari shrine, which is a bone of contention between Hindus and Muslims, with its senior most leaders only baulking from attending the celebrations at the last minute. Recently senior BJP leaders had enthusiastically participated in large religious functions held by the Hindu Virat Samudai. Scuffles over removing of some banners during such a programme in the city recently had led to communal riots.

Speaking at the National Council meeting of the party, Gowda said the state BJP must adhere to the common minimum programme (CMP) agreed upon by both the coalition partners. He said he understood the party was free to promote temple building at the national level but that it had to focus on development, which was the main focus of the CMP at the state level.

Meanwhile, the National Executive also urged the Centre to write off farmers’ loans from Cooperative Credit institutions to allow farmers to stand up on their feet again. The executive noted that steps were already being taken in this regard by the state government. It said, however, the Centre, besides announcing a broad policy on loans, could form a policy to cover various crops under the crop insurance scheme to safeguard the interests of farmers.

The executive said the Centre could also make provisions to compensate commercial banks, which write off farmers’ loans to ensure their financial status to continue credit disbursement to the farmers. It said the government could start anew by waiving off such loans fully and completely and offer soft loans to the farmers at 4 per cent interest.

On the issue of special economic zones (SEZs), the executive said while it was not against creation of any Special Economic Zones, they should not be at the cost of poor farmers or their productive agricultural land. It said efforts should be taken to ensure land sharks should not be allowed to grab land in the name of creating infrastructure.

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Andhra issues notice to Jaya
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 29
The Congress government in the state has moved against AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa by issuing notices to her for possessing ‘assigned’ land in her farmhouse on the outskirts of the city.

According to the Ranga Reddy District Collector, Mr Premchandra Reddy, revenue officials issued notices to J Jayalalithaa Grape Gardens at Pet Bashirabad on the outskirts of the city after identifying seven acres as assignment land.

Land assigned by the government to the landless poor is not transferable, and purchasing such land is violation of AP Land Reforms Act.

The notices were issued in accordance with a recent Act, which enables the government to take back land distributed to the poor, if it was found to be in the possession of others. Accordingly notices were issued recently to many companies, including Ramoji Film City, Satyam Computers and the Sanghi Group.

The Tamil Nadu former Chief Minister, however, sharply reacted to the Andhra Government move, dubbing it as politically motivated. In a statement released in Chennai yesterday, Jaya alleged that she was targeted because of her party’s support to Telugu Desam Party’s agitation against Andhra Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, who was accused of possessing hundreds of acres of lands against land reform laws.

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LCA trainer version in Aug
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, January 29
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) top brass today said a trainer version of the light combat aircraft (LCA) would roll out in August this year even as the weaponisation of the armed version was expected to be completed in an year and a half.

HAL officials, who took journalists around the LCA, IJT (intermediate jet trainer) and Jaguar manufacturing and upgradation lines, claimed that the IJT project established a benchmark as it had led to the production of a prototype within 39 months of conception and taken only 20 months to be produced after metal cutting began.

Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) general manager A. Mohan, while talking to The Tribune, disclosed that eight flights of the LCA PV-3 armed version had been completed and the initial operational clearance (IOC) was expected in 2008-09.

He said the three prototypes of the LCA, PV-1,2 and 3, had together completed 590 hours of flying.

The ARDC head said the government had cleared the production of seven prototypes in all and the PV-5 was being produced in response to the IAF’s need for a trainer aircraft in the same series.

The IAF had ordered 20 aircraft while the navy had ordered a fighter and a trainer.

The LCA came with R-73 missile integration and drop tanks as standard equipment.

The HAL had received order for the limited series production of 12 IJT aircraft.

Officials said the delivery of the limited series would take place in 2008 and mass production would begin in 2010.

It is estimated that 200 IJTs would be inducted into the IAF for training its pilots and replace the ageing HJT-16 (Kiran) aircraft.

The HAL had developed two prototypes of the IJT, which had completed 335 flights as of date, its chief test pilot Baldev Singh said.

He said flight testing was progressing briskly and that hot weather trials had already been completed in Nagpur in May last year. He said high-altitude and sea-level flying tests would be undertaken this year.

HAL officials also disclosed that the Jaguar assembly line would be replaced by the Hawk (advanced jet trainer) in two years, heralding the end of the production of the aircraft in India.

The HAL would produce 20 more Jaguars during this period.

All Jaguars being produced currently were the Darin-2 model, which had advanced features like digital map generator, smart multi-functional display, mission computer, initial navigation platform and digital recording system.

Eight aircraft were likely to be manufactured this year and the remaining 12 next year.

Simultaneously the Jaguar fleet of 110 aircraft manufactured in India since the 1980s would undergo an upgradation to the Darin-2 model.

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Rs 22,000-cr fertiliser subsidy cleared
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 29
The Government has cleared Rs 22,000 crore fertiliser subsidies of companies and will pay the remaining amount of Rs 12,000 crore by March this year, Fertiliser Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said here today.

Mr Paswan said the Department was pursuing the release of Rs 6,000 crore fertiliser subsidy arrears from the Finance Ministry.

The Minister told newspersons at the end of the first conference of State Agriculture Ministers that complaints of fertiliser companies regarding delay in payment of subsidy will be looked into by the government.

The day-long meeting reviewed the recent experience of buoyant demand for fertiliser products in the country besides taking stock of shortcomings in its overall management, including demand assessment, availability and infrastructural constraints.

The meeting also debated at length the ways and means to delineate areas of responsibility between the stakeholders involved in the process of manufacture/ import and the distribution of fertilisers to farmers.

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Bihar opens call centre under RTI Act

Patna, January 29
Bihar became the first state of the country to introduce a state-run call centre under the state information commission to help the public to get information on the state.

Inaugurating the call centre at Suchna Bhawan here today, CM Nitish Kumar said the move was aimed at ending corruption and to reduce the gap between the government and the people.

Going by the format, one simply has to dial 155311 from any VSNL number and get whatever information required on Bihar. The person has to provide his/her address and the type of information he/she wants to get. The call centre will then pass on the application to the department concerned for the information.

The commission has a website www.bsic.co.in — TNS

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Kaunda urges Bush, allies to stop Iraq war

New Delhi, January 29
At a time when India is redefining its relations with the USA and building bridges with Israel, former President of Zambia Kenneth Kaunda, chief architect of his country’s independence movement and a close friend of the Nehru-Gandhi family, today invoked the spirit of the NAM which he had led along with Nehru.

At the inaugural function of the two-day conference to commemorate the centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s Satyagraha movement, the feisty African leader launched a scathing attack against “terrorism, wars, war mongers and warlords” to declare passionately, “I appeal to US President George Bush, to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and their allies to stop this war in Iraq.” — TNS

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HC disallows book fair
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, January 29
Calcutta HC today finally gave the ruling in favour of the environmentalists and banned the holding of the 32nd Kolkata Book Fair at maidans. The ruling was given following a PIL petition filed by the environmentalist, Mr Subhas Dutt and others.

Today's judgement was yet an another slap on the CM’s face, at whose assurance the fair authorities had proceeded in the preparation of the book fair at maidan instead of waiting for the HC's final verdict.

The 12-day international book fair was scheduled to start in the maidan from tomorrow following a special permission obtained from the Army which had already banned all the fairs and exhibitions at maidan since 2004.

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Sonia to open Surajkund mela

New Delhi, January 29
Congress president Sonia Gandhi will inaugurate the 21st Surajkund Crafts Mela on February 1 at the Surajkund Tourist Complex in Faridabad.

The theme of the Mela this year is Andhra Pradesh. As many as 350 craftspersons will participate in this 15-day mela from all over the country. There will also be participation from SAARC countries. — TNS

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