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THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
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N A T I O N

Manipur polls: 82 pc voting in phase I
New Delhi, February 8
An estimated 80 to 82 per cent of 600,000 voters today exercised their franchise in the first phase of Manipur Assembly polls in 19 constituencies spread over three districts.
Voters wait their turn during the first phase of Assembly elections in Ukhrul district in Manipur on Thursday
Voters wait their turn during the first phase of Assembly elections in Ukhrul district in Manipur on Thursday. — PTI photo

Aero-India show
Another HAL aircraft bites dust

Bangalore, February 8
Call it bad luck or bad technology, but state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) today suffered the ignominy of having its second prized indigenous product - the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) literally biting the dust at the Aero-India and creating a major scare besides temporarily suspending flying at the Aero-India show.

Computerisation of district, subordinate courts cleared
New Delhi, February 8
The government today approved an ambitious computerisation programme of district and subordinate courts at a cost of Rs 442 crore to cut pendency of cases in lower courts and make the justice delivery system affordable.





 

EARLIER STORIES




Land-use policy
Left agrees to disagree 

Kolkata, February 8
An urgent meeting of a Left Front committee, held at the CPM party office today to resolve the land-use controversy for industries, ended in a fiasco following differences among the partners. A section of the CPM leadership also opposed the present land-use policy. However, all partners agreed that the Tata Motors plant at Singur should be allowed to go ahead and at this stage there could be no re-thinking on the Singur issue.

India, Bhutan sign friendship treaty 
New Delhi, February 8
India and Bhutan today signed a new friendship treaty, which updates and substitutes the treaty signed between the two neighbours in Darjeeling on August 8, 1949.




King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck with Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi on Thursday. Wangchuck is on a five-day official visit to India to sign a bilateral friendship treaty with India. — Tribune photo by Mukesh Aggarwal

King of Bhutan Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck with Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence in New Delhi

Jaya to PM: Probe transfer of secretary to Raghupathy
Chennai, February 8
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary Jayaram Jayalalithaa today sought the intervention of the Prime Minister into the overnight transfer of Mohammad Shakeel Akhthar, private secretary to Union Minister of State for Home, S. Raghupathy, as he came under the intelligence scanner.

I own the Bentley: Amar Singh
New Delhi, February 8
In the midst of a controversy over a car said to have been presented to Abhishek by his father Amitabh Bachchan, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh today said he has bought the Rs 1.5 crore luxury vehicle Bentley for his use after paying all customs duties.

SC orders transfer of case to Dehra Dun
New Delhi, February 8
The Supreme Court today ordered transfer of poetess Madhumita Shukla murder case to Dehra Dun, finding sufficient reason in the plea of victim’s sister that a fair trial was not possible in a Lucknow court as former Uttar Pradesh Minister Amarmani Tripathi, the main accused, wielded considerable influence in the state capital.

New hope for malnourished kids
New Delhi, February 8
India is on the verge of adopting the New WHO Child Growth Standards in the Eleventh Five Year Plan and with this there could be some new hope for millions of undernourished Indian children in the country, many of whom die every year due to malnutrition and linked diseases.

Warrants against Bal Thackeray 
Mumbai, February 8
Mumbai's Metropolitan Magistrate M.B. Date today issued bailable warrants against Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for some statements made by him on the Muslim community last year. Thackeray had made these statements during the Shiv Sena's 40th anniversary celebrations.

SAARC editors’ conference begins today
New Delhi, February 8
The Ministry of External Affairs and the Media Development Foundation, Chennai, are organising the Conference of Editors from SAARC Countries here from tomorrow.  The two-day conference will be inaugurated by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon.

Cauvery Dispute
TN to file review petition against Cauvery final award

Chennai, February 8 Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi tonight said the state would file a review petition before the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) as it had certain reservations over the final award delivered on Monday last.

Sanjay Dutt’s bail extended

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Manipur polls: 82 pc voting in phase I

New Delhi, February 8
An estimated 80 to 82 per cent of 600,000 voters today exercised their franchise in the first phase of Manipur Assembly polls in 19 constituencies spread over three districts.

Talking to newspersons, Deputy Chief Election Commissioner J P Prasad said polling was, by and large, peaceful barring some stray incidents of violence in three polling stations in Ukhrul district and one in Senapati district.

He said in all there would be just six booths where there would be repolling of which four are due to disturbances and other two because of malfunctioning of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) against 34 booths for the same constituencies during the previous Assembly elections.

In five polling stations - one in Senapati district and four in Ukhrul district - people boycotted the poll. Apart from this large-scale video graphy was used in “identified” and sensitive booths from within and outside, he added. — UNI

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Aero-India show
Another HAL aircraft bites dust
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 8
Call it bad luck or bad technology, but state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) today suffered the ignominy of having its second prized indigenous product - the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) literally biting the dust at the Aero-India and creating a major scare besides temporarily suspending flying at the Aero-India show.

An IJT prototype aircraft being flown by the HAL’s Chief Test Pilot Baldev Singh veered off the runway during take off and went into a grassy patch of land adjacent to the runway. This apparently happened because of a tyre burst while the plane was taxing for take off.

A part of the under-belly of the aircraft was damaged after it lost balance. The pilot, however, was evicted without any problem and is safe.

The incident, however, caused a scare at the air show as the accident raised a cloud of dust. Fire tenders were rushed to the spot immediately and they even off loaded some water as a precautionary measure though there was no fire. Flying was also suspended temporarily.

This is the first incident to happen at any Aero India show; the others had gone off smoothly. Though HAL officials were not forthcoming about the incident, but going by their record this is the first such incident involving an IJT. Its Chief Test Pilot Baldev Singh had claimed during a recent press briefing that there had not been a single incident of any test flight of the IJT developing any hitch.

This is the second incident involving a HAL aircraft during a one-week period. Earlier a Dhruv ALH helicopter belonging to the Sarang team had plummeted to the ground during a practice session at the Yelahanka air base, which is the venue of the Aero India show. Sq Ldr Priye Sharma was killed in the crash while another IAF officer was injured.

The IJT, which has been built by HAL “in a record time”, is slated to train IAF fighter jet pilots. It has been developed jointly by HAL and the National Aerospace Laboratories and is still to get full operational clearance. 

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Computerisation of district, subordinate courts cleared
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
The government today approved an ambitious computerisation programme of district and subordinate courts at a cost of Rs 442 crore to cut pendency of cases in lower courts and make the justice delivery system affordable.

A meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave its nod to the first phase of the three-phase programme, Finance Minister P Chidambaram told reporters.

The second and third phases will cost Rs 225 crore and Rs 174 crore, respectively, he said, adding that the first phase would be implemented in two years.

The main objective of the computerisation is to enhance judicial productivity, both qualitatively as also making the justice-delivery system affordable, accessible, cost- effective, transparent and accountable, he said.

The CCEA gave its approval for giving over Rs 13 crore to Andhra Pradesh for land acquisition for the Tummalapalle Mining & Milling Project being set up by Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), to meet the uranium fuel requirements of the nuclear power programme.

The approval of project will meet the uranium fuel requirements of the nuclear power programme. Besides developing the area, the project will also provide direct employment to about 934 persons in various categories including employment to Project Affected Persons.

The Cabinet gave its approval for National Design Policy aimed at global positioning and of Indian designs and making “designed in India” a by-word for quality and utility in conjunction with “Made in India” and “Served from India” and promotion of Indian design through a well defined and managed regulatory, promotional and institutional framework.

The CCEA approved the disposal of surplus mustard in seed form and through processing in mustard oil form in domestic market at prevailing market prices.

The CCEA allowed disposal of mustard seed in whole form upto 10 lakh mt from December 1, 2006 to February 28, 2007 and through process in oil form upto two lakh mt.

CCEA also gave its approval of Rs 1909.66 crore for meeting losses due to procurement of mustard for paying to banks before March 31, 2007 and additional fund of Rs 289.86 crore for 2007-08.

The approval not only would enable Nafed to dispose remaining stock and settle the accounts with banks but also the procurement of mustard seed to ensure minimum support price to the farmers.

Meanwhile, the government today relaxed ban on export of sugar and has allowed export of sugar under Advance License Scheme and Open General License with effect from January 3, 2007 and January 23, 2007, respectively.

However, the international prices of sugar are low, thus making export of sugar from India uneconomic.

Therefore, the Government has decided to give following incentives to sugar factories to undertake export of sugar which would increase their liquidity enabling them to pay cane price to sugarcane farmers in time - the sugar meant for export would be exempted from the levy obligation and the quantity of sugar released for export would be treated as advance non-levy (free sale) releases to be adjusted in the free sale stocks of the sugar factories after a period of 12 months.

However, the above incentives would not be applicable to exports under preferential quota. Further, the incentives would be given on export of sugar made during the period January 3, 2007 to July 2, 2007 under Advance License Scheme and January 23, 2007 to July 22, 2007 for exports under Open General License.

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Land-use policy
Left agrees to disagree 
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, February 8
An urgent meeting of a Left Front committee, held at the CPM party office today to resolve the land-use controversy for industries, ended in a fiasco following differences among the partners. A section of the CPM leadership also opposed the present land-use policy. However, all partners agreed that the Tata Motors plant at Singur should be allowed to go ahead and at this stage there could be no re-thinking on the Singur issue.

As a result of difference in opinions no decision could be taken on the ceiling and on the use of the farmlands in industries as had been planned by the Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee. But it was decided that the CPM party secretary, Mr Biman Bose, would soon start talks with different parties separately in the presence of the Chief Minister and take the final decision in this regard.

Today’s meeting started on a note of dissent with three major partners of the front, the CPI, RSP and Forward Bloc, demanding that the on-going land-acquiring steps for industries should be stopped forthwith and a fresh round of discussions with the partners as well as other opposition parties. They also wanted a consensus decision be adopted on the fixation of land and its use of industries.

Mr Ashoke Ghosh (FB), Mr Debabrata Bandopadhyya (RSP) and Mr Monju Mojumdar of the CPI, criticised the forcible acquiring of the farmlands and transferring them for industrial use.

Mr Ghosh felt that the CPM must have learnt a lesson from the Singur and the Nandigram issues. Hence it should rectify its mistakes before taking any further steps regarding the acquiring of land for some other industries.

Mr Mojumdar alleged that the CPM had been flouting the Left’s basic policies towards agriculture and serving the interests of the Tata and Birlas. 

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India, Bhutan sign friendship treaty 
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
India and Bhutan today signed a new friendship treaty, which updates and substitutes the treaty signed between the two neighbours in Darjeeling on August 8, 1949.

The updated treaty removes provisions, which have become obsolete over time. It includes fresh provisions for consolidating and expanding economic cooperation for mutual and long-term benefit and cooperation in the fields of culture, education, health, sports and science and technology. It does not envisage a change in the treatment of nationals of both countries or in the free-trade regime that the two countries have.

The signing of the treaty took place after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s talks with the visiting King of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wangchuk.

The treaty commits both countries to cooperate closely with each other on issues relating to their national interests and not allow the use of their territories for activities harmful to the national security and interest of the other. It reiterates that there shall be perpetual peace and friendship between India and Bhutan.

“The signing of the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty marks a historic moment in our relations with Bhutan. The Government of India deeply values the contribution made by the Fourth Druk Gyalpo of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuk, to the consolidation of India-Bhutan relations. The signing of the India-Bhutan Friendship Treaty today opens a new era in the further deepening and strengthening of this unique and special relationship,” Foreign Office spokesperson Navtej Sarna said.

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Jaya to PM: Probe transfer of secretary to Raghupathy
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, February 8
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) general secretary Jayaram Jayalalithaa today sought the intervention of the Prime Minister into the overnight transfer of Mohammad Shakeel Akhthar, private secretary to Union Minister of State for Home, S. Raghupathy, as he came under the intelligence scanner.

Mr Akhtar came under the adverse notice of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) because of his liaison with several foreign diplomatic missions as he worked for Mr Raghupathy, intelligence sources here said.

When the Prime Minister's Secretariat (under which RAW functions) sought clearance to intensify the probe against Mr Akhthar, he was suddenly repatriated to the Tamil Nadu cadre, which effectively ended the inquiry against him. He has been posted as DIG Kancheepuram range in the state.

Ms Jayalalithaa alleged that Akhthar was posted to the sensitive district of Kanchipuram, which encompasses Kalpakkam where the nation's main nuclear installation functions.

She also pointed out that the IPS officer's sphere of official influence would spread to Thiruvallur district, which borders India's rocket launching pad at Sriharikota.

She said, "I do not know as to whether Mr Raghupathy was unaware of Akhthar's perfidy". She demanded immediate probe into the matter.

Ms Jayalalithaa said, "The Prime Minister must order an immediate impartial inquiry into Akhthar's sudden and unexplained transfer to his parent cadre of Tamil Nadu and bring to light those who protected him.” 

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I own the Bentley: Amar Singh

New Delhi, February 8
In the midst of a controversy over a car said to have been presented to Abhishek by his father Amitabh Bachchan, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh today said he has bought the Rs 1.5 crore luxury vehicle Bentley for his use after paying all customs duties.

He threatened to take legal action against Delhi Transport Minister Harun Yusuf and the state Chief Minister for “misinformation” in this regard after a Transport Department official had yesterday raised doubts over Singh giving the superstar’s residential address in Mumbai as his own for transit registration.

“I have imported the car from London by paying hundred per cent custom duty through a check signed by me”, Singh told reporters at a hurriedly called press conference here and said that for the last two decades he has been using “Jalsa” the residence of Bachchans as his house whenever he visits Mumbai.

“Let Amitabh Bachchan deny this. I am ready to face consequences”, he said and categorically denied that either Amitabh has donated the car to his son Abhishek on his birthday or he himself present it to the junior Bachchan. — PTI

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Madhumita murder
SC orders transfer of case to Dehra Dun
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 8
The Supreme Court today ordered transfer of poetess Madhumita Shukla murder case to Dehra Dun, finding sufficient reason in the plea of victim’s sister that a fair trial was not possible in a Lucknow court as former Uttar Pradesh Minister Amarmani Tripathi, the main accused, wielded considerable influence in the state capital.

Tripathi, a powerful politician of Uttar Pradesh and his wife Madhumani were charged by the CBI of hatching a conspiracy to murder an upcoming Hindi poetess Shukla in 2002 and also executing it with the help of gangsters Rohit Chaturvedi and Prakash Pandey. Tripathi, who was then a minister in the BSP government, headed by Mayawati, had later changed his loyalty and joined Samajwadi Party of Mulayam Singh Yadav. He is lodged in a Lucknow jail, along with his wife and other two co-accused. The CBI had placed on record ample evidence, including a CD, to show how the former Minister had been even dictating terms to the prison officials.

After examining the material on record, a Bench of Mr Justice Ashok Bhan and Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari ordered transfer of the case to the capital of neighbouring Uttrakhand and asked the Chief Justice of the state High Court to appoint a special judge to exclusively hear the case and complete the trial within six months. 

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New hope for malnourished kids
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
India is on the verge of adopting the New WHO Child Growth Standards in the Eleventh Five Year Plan and with this there could be some new hope for millions of undernourished Indian children in the country, many of whom die every year due to malnutrition and linked diseases.

After the new set of standards, which will be quite different from the existing standards being followed in the country, are adopted India will become the first developing nation in the world to do so. India happens to be home to close to 200 million malnourished children.

Malnutrition contributes to the death of millions of Indian children every year, of which two million die even before they reach the age of one. As per WHO, globally there are 170 million underweight children, of whom three million die every year.

In India at present different growth rates are being followed to promote young child growth and development, adopted way back in the 1970s and largely based on the ones devised keeping in mind the European children.

However, as far as the new WHO standards are concerned, they describe how children should grow and establish breast-fed infant as the standard for measuring healthy growth. The standards are a result of a WHO study initiated in 1997 for developing new international standards for assessing physical growth, nutritional status and motor development from birth to five years of age.

A two-day meeting is currently on in the Capital to discuss the adoption of the new standards for malnourished children in the country. The meet is being organised by the ministries of Women and Child Development and Health and Family Welfare and is also being attended by representatives from UNICEF, WHO, ICMR and the Department of Biotechnology, among others.

Despite robust social, economic and social reforms, India continues to suffer from extreme poverty and preventable diseases, including child malnutrition. India alone accounts for 40 per cent malnourished children and by sheer numbers, more than one-third of the world’s malnourished children live here.

The problem, however, is not just of malnutrition. WHO estimates 20 million children under five years of age in the world to be overweight. Though these problems are thought to be separate issues of rich and poor, in reality malnutrition as well as over-nutrition are problems, rooted in poverty.

“In developing countries like India, there is an increase in consumption of energy-dense nutrient-poor foods that are high in fats and sugar and do not have enough nutrients. This is the double burden of malnutrition,” says an official from the Ministry of Woman and Child Department

WHO brought out the new standards with a view to improve infant health management, specifically keeping children of India and some sub-Saharan countries.

In addition, the ministry is also thinking of switching over to Z-score classification for grading malnourished children as this would facilitate comparisons with national and international data on underweight children as brought out by the National Family Survey series and UNICEF report on state of world children. 

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Warrants against Bal Thackeray 
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, February 8
Mumbai's Metropolitan Magistrate M.B. Date today issued bailable warrants against Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray for some statements made by him on the Muslim community last year.
Thackeray had made these statements during the Shiv Sena's 40th anniversary celebrations.

The magistrate in his warrants ordered Thackeray to be present before the court on March 28. On earlier occasions, when warrants were issued to Thackeray on the same matter, he had pleaded ill-health and did not attend court. The complaint against Thackeray has been filed by NCP activist Munna Tripathi. Codefendents in the case include Sanjay Raut, Rajya Sabha MP and editor of the Saamna, who appeared before the court today.

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SAARC editors’ conference begins today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 8
The Ministry of External Affairs and the Media Development Foundation, Chennai, are organising the Conference of Editors from SAARC Countries here from tomorrow. The two-day conference will be inaugurated by Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon. The Conference will conclude with an address by the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on February 10. The Conference will be attended by 45 senior representatives of the media from all SAARC countries.

The purpose of the conference is to have a free and open discussion of the identified themes and key issues and to frame media-related issues that can help initiate a wider public and civil society debate in the South Asian region, the Ministry of External Affairs said today.

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Cauvery Dispute
TN to file review petition against Cauvery final award

Chennai, February 8
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi tonight said the state would file a review petition before the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT) as it had certain reservations over the final award delivered on Monday last.

‘Like Karnataka, we too have certain reservations and we will approach the Tribunal again,’ he told mediapersons at his party headquarters Anna Arivalayam here. He said initial reports that the Tribunal had awarded 419 tmc ft of water to Tamil Nadu had shocked farmers in Karnataka. — UNI

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Sanjay Dutt’s bail extended

Mumbai, February 8
The special TADA court, hearing the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blasts cases, today extended the bail of actor Sanjay Dutt till February 20.
The actor appeared before the court to surrender at the end of the one-day extention granted to him. The court is hearing Dutt's plea for probation. The plea has been opposed by the Central Bureau of Investigation. TNS

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