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N A T I O N

Digamber Kamat is new Goa CM
Mumbai, June 8
Digamber Kamat Digamber Kamat, power minister in the outgoing Pratapsinh Rane government, was today sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Goa. Kamat was the dark horse in the chief ministerial race which had Rane and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ravi Naik as the main contenders.

Taj Heritage Scam
PIL against refusal to prosecute Maya
New Delhi, June 8
In the wake of Uttar Pradesh Governor T.V. Rajeshwar’s refusal to grant sanction for the prosecution of Chief Minister Mayawati in the Taj heritage scam case, a public interest litigation (PIL) has been moved in the Supreme Court on the “misuse” of power by the sanctioning authorities in cases of corruption against public servants due to political reasons.


EARLIER STORIES




Khaleda’s minister linked to Dawood
New Delhi, June 8
A key minister of former Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has confessed to a joint interrogation team in Dhaka that he had met “global terrorist” Dawood Ibrahim twice as recently as 2005-06.

Land row: A breather for Big-B
Lucknow, June 8
Amitabh Bachchan got a breather from a Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court today when it admitted his writ petition challenging Faizabad additional commissioner’s order quashing allotment of the 0.4 hectare farmland in Barabanki district.

Singur Spectre
Basu to the rescue of farmers
Kolkata, June 8
The CPM state secretariat meeting held at the Alimuddin Street party office today in the presence of Jyoti Basu empowered industries minister Nirupam Sen to negotiate with Mamata Banerjee for finalising a settlement on the allotment of alternative lands to the unwilling farmers at Singur, whose farmlands were forcibly acquired for Tata Motors.

Paul feels danger to life from Sonia
Hyderabad, June 8
In a sensational allegation, well-known evangelist Dr K.A Paul today said he apprehended danger to his life from Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Presidential poll
Cong steps up efforts
New Delhi, June 8
The Congress has its intensified efforts to “build a consensus” among the UPA allies and partners on the candidate for the presidential elections with home minister Shivraj Patil having emerged as the front runner.

UPA’s choice not final: JD(U) chief
New Delhi, June 8
Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav today said there was no finality yet to UPA's choice of Presidential candidate.

Dev Anand I loved Suraiya, admits Dev
Mumbai, June 8
The evergreen star of Hindi cinema Dev Anand, who has romanced numerous beautiful women on the screen, has rarely been heard of confessing about his real life love for his co-star Suraiya. Dev Anand has now admitted to have loved her and has made a special mention of this in his forthcoming autobiography titled "Romancing With Life".

US Embassy acts tough on visa fraud
New Delhi, June 8
The US Embassy has referred seven cases of visa fraud to Indian law enforcement for criminal investigation since June , the Embassy said here today. These police referrals include all visa categories, including religious workers, temporary skilled workers (H1Bs), students, and general tourist/business travelers.

Climate pact encouraging: Pachauri
New Delhi, June 8
Developed countries’ call for halving the GHG emissions by 2050 has won favourable response from UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri.

Propagation of other religions in shrines to go
Hyderabad, June 8
In a far-reaching move, the Andhra Pradesh Government has promulgated an ordinance prohibiting the propagation of other religions in notified places of worship.

Kalam dedicates Insat-4B to nation
Hassan, June 8
President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam today said India could used its strength in basic research to establish an integrated national mission which could offset the difficulties faced by the nation due to denial of technology and products by advanced countries.



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Digamber Kamat is new Goa CM
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 8
Digamber Kamat, power minister in the outgoing Pratapsinh Rane government, was today sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Goa.

Kamat was the dark horse in the chief ministerial race which had Rane and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Ravi Naik as the main contenders.

Senior Congress party leaders sent from Delhi to gauge the opinion of the elected legislators met with them individually to ascertain their opinion.

"Kamat was the unanimous choice," Congress party general secretary in charge of Goa Margaret Alva told reporters in the capital, Panjim.

Kamat was sworn in along with Naik and one representative each from the Nationalist Congress Party and the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party which are part of the alliance. Naik is likely to get the post of deputy chief minister.

In all, Kamat will have a 14-member jumbo ministry from the 40 MLAs who are part of the Goa House. The other members of the Cabinet will be inducted on Monday.

There was a minor drama during the swearing-in ceremony when the NCP chief, Dr Wilfred D'Souza, expressed his resentment on seeing Ravi Naik being inducted into the ministry. The NCP held the post of deputy chief minister in the last government. D'Souza who held the post lost the elections.

Even in the NCP, the party decided to dump two-time MLA Mickey Pachecho in favour of newcomer Jose Filipe D'souza as the leader of the three-member legislative party. Pachecho who openly demanded the post of deputy chief minister stayed away from the swearing-in ceremony.

Kamat, who took over as Goa's 19th Chief Minister, was the state's longest serving power minister from the year 2000 before taking up the top job.

Kamat won the 2002 elections on a BJP ticket and was the number two man in the government. However, after the Congress government took office at the Centre, Kamat organised a revolt against the BJP government headed by Manohar Parrikar and helped bring it down.

Kamat held the Power portfolio under Rane as well. During his long tenure, Kamat turned around the troubled electricity department and streamlined power supply and distribution in Goa. Transmission and distribution losses were brought down from 34 per cent to 16 per cent. The loss-making utility was soon earning a surplus of as much as Rs 140 crore every year. To top it all Goa shook off years of power shortage to begin selling power to neighboring states.

Thanks to the surplus earned by the department, power tariffs have remained stable in Goa for the past five years. As a sop to the `aam-aadmi', the Goa government is giving the first 60 units of power to every subscriber for a nominal sum of one rupee.

Kamat's efforts ensured that he was adjudged India's best power minister in a survey.

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Taj Heritage Scam
PIL against refusal to prosecute Maya
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 8
In the wake of Uttar Pradesh Governor T.V. Rajeshwar’s refusal to grant sanction for the prosecution of Chief Minister Mayawati in the Taj heritage scam case, a public interest litigation (PIL) has been moved in the Supreme Court on the “misuse” of power by the sanctioning authorities in cases of corruption against public servants due to political reasons.

The PIL, which makes a specific reference to denial of sanction for prosecution of Mayawati and her cabinet colleague Nasimuddin Siddiqui, challenged the constitutional validity of Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA), particularly in the context of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s case, past year. As a result it was laid down that “sanction is not required in cases registered under the Act.”

“However, Section 19 of the Act always remained subject to be misused by the concerned authorities,” the PIL filed by advocate Manzoor Ali Khan said. He also added Section 19 is contrary to Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution. Article 14 deals with equality before law and 21 provides for application of law equally without any discrimination.

The PIL pointed out that the verdict in Badal case was not an isolated judgement confined to a particular person but had dealt with the issue of sanction in corruption cases against other public servants.

Pointing out that the FIR in the Taj corridor case against Mayawati and others was registered only on the orders of the Supreme Court after it concluded that a “prima facie” case for launching the prosecution existed on the basis of material placed on the record by the CBI. The petition further said the case was sent to the special court, Lucknow, also on the orders of the apex court.

Reproducing the apex court order, the PIL made it clear that a three-judge bench, monitoring all Taj related matters had made a critical observation that “it is necessary to add that, in this case, we were concerned with ensuring proper and honest performance of duty by the CBI.”

While sending the case to Special Judge, Lucknow, the apex court had clearly held that “none of the other recommendations, including that of the Attorney General for India, CVC shall be forwarded to the Special Court”, it said.

But as per the media reports, the Governor had sought opinion from Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam before taking a decision even when he had been a CBI counsel in several cases being handled by the agency.

“Surprisingly, even after various directions made by the apex court on June 5, the UP Governor refused to grant sanction to CBI for prosecuting Chief Minister Mayawati and her colleague, who actively assisted her in committing the corridor scam of several crore on political considerations,” it said.

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Khaleda’s minister linked to Dawood
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
A key minister of former Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has confessed to a joint interrogation team in Dhaka that he had met “global terrorist” Dawood Ibrahim twice as recently as 2005-06.

According to information available with the Government of India, it is bound to throw up a can of worms for Begum Zia.

Lutfozzaman Babar, minister of state for home affairs in the immediate past BNP-Jamat-e-Islami government in Bangladesh has confessed to a joint interrogation team in Dhaka that he and BNP senior joint secretary-general Tareq Rahman Zia had met Dawood in Dubai on two occasions. The meetings took place in 2005 and 2006.

Media in Bangladesh and in the region had consistently reported about the meetings during the BNP-JeI government’s rule, but the government had maintained a stoic silence.

According to one such report which has been since corroborated from diplomatic channels in Dhaka, the head of National Security and Intelligence (NSI), Maj-Gen Rezzakal Haider accompanied Tareq Zia and Babar to one meeting with Dawood in Dubai from March 1 to 3, 2006. Major-General Haider has since been dishonestly discharged.

Major-General Haider’s tour duty expenses amounting to around 150,000 taka was drawn from government funds approved by the Prime Minster’s office. Begum Khaleda Zia, chairperson of the BNP, Prime Minister and Tareq Zia’s mother, approved Haider’s Dubai tour.

The extent of revelations is mind-boggling: that a head of government, her son who is a dominant political figure in the country, along with chief of intelligence have been doing business with a designated global terrorist and drug baron. The confession also exposes a dangerous nexus that could be as destructive as the Al-Qaida.

In fact, recent reports from Bangladesh ’s banking system tracking dubious financial transactions suggest the Al-Qaida was funding Islamic terrorist groups in the country through its front organisation like the Al Harmain Trust and the Revival of Islamic Heritage Society (RIHS), during the tenure of the Khaleda Zia government.

The depth of the Al-Qaida penetration in Bangladesh was exposed recently when the government’s NGO board, which clears foreign and domestic NGO permits, granted the RIHS a five-year licence to work in the country. This is despite the fact that RIHS was banned in Bangladesh after the countrywide bombings on August 17, 2005.

Although the caretaker government has cancelled the NGO Board’s permit, it is unlikely that the roots of Al-Qaida support in Bangladesh have been destroyed. It is also curious that not a single senior official of the NGO Board has been taken to task, or even questioned. This only suggests the strength of the Islamic terrorist elements in Bangladesh.

The malaise has taken deep roots. The caretaker government that came into force constitutionally on October 29 last year, was an extension of the BNP-JeI government. The political parties, especially the civil society forced a change to usher in a new dispensation on January 11, this year, declaring an emergency.

Backed by a powerful section of the armed forces led by the Army Chief, Gen Moeen U. Deen, action has been initiated to an extent against the corrupt and the masterminds and godfathers of Islamic terrorism. Aminul Haque, a former BNP minister and acolyte of Tareq Zia, has been charged with abetment of Islamic terrorists. There are others on the line.

Luftozzaman Babar, as home minister, was a godfather and protector of terrorist like the six executed by the current government -- the dreaded Bangla Bhai and other Jamiatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) leaders. These terrorists, using different names like Allahar Dal (follower of Allah) are regrouping. They will have to be dealt with.

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Land row: A breather for Big-B
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 8
Amitabh Bachchan got a breather from a Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court today when it admitted his writ petition challenging Faizabad additional commissioner’s order quashing allotment of the 0.4 hectare farmland in Barabanki district.

This means maintaining of status quo in the land allotment matter. The Faizabad order given by additional commissioner V S Prasad on June 1 had cancelled the transfer of the land in the name of Bachchan by terming it as illegal and fraudulent.

However, now the land allotment would not be cancelled till the present case is decided.

The single judge bench of Justice D.P. Singh, who had yesterday reserved the order after hearing arguments from both sides, today admitted the writ pleading to be heard.

Justice Singh has granted four week's time to the state government for filing a counter-affidavit and two weeks to Bachchan for filing a rejoinder.

The bench has fixed July 23 as the next date of hearing.

Speaking to TNS, chief standing counsel D K. Upadhyay said the decision was not a reflection on the merit of the case as it had decided only its maintainability.

“Now, the petitioner (Amitabh Bachchan) would have to establish how he came to possess the gram sabha land in Barabanki.

None of his ancestors belonged to Barabanki so Bachchan would have to show records to establish his claim in the court.”

Meanwhile, more trouble may come Bachchan’s way if the Allahabad High Court admits a PIL of Jagdish Shukla demanding a CBI probe into the matter.

Shukla whose case will come up in the court on Monday has pleaded that only a CBI inquiry can decide the matter as it now concerns two state governments, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra, hence beyond the scope of the high court.

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Singur Spectre
Basu to the rescue of farmers
Subhrangshu Gupta
Tribune News service

Kolkata, June 8
The CPM state secretariat meeting held at the Alimuddin Street party office today in the presence of Jyoti Basu empowered industries minister Nirupam Sen to negotiate with Mamata Banerjee for finalising a settlement on the allotment of alternative lands to the unwilling farmers at Singur, whose farmlands were forcibly acquired for Tata Motors.

Sen would also discuss with Mamata about other compensations, including job guarantee, to the affected families at Singur. The meeting today further decided, if necessary, the CBI probe could be ordered into the March 14 Nandigram incident in which 14 farmers were killed in firing by the police firing and allegedly by the CPM cadres.

The patriarch, who had finally intervened for “salvaging” the party sunk in the deepening crisis in the wake of the Singur and Nandigram controversies, today insisted that those affected farmers who were still unwilling to part with their lands should either get back their lands acquired for Tata Motors or a suitable alternative lands be arranged for them.

He felt there was no other way of any settlement of the present impasse created following the mishandling of the Singur land acquiring matter, which put the party and the government in this critical situations.

The 93-year-old leader on Monday evening called Mamata to his Salt Lake residence and heard her patiently. Earlier, the Trinamool supremo rejected the peace talk meeting

called by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and CPM secretary Biman Bose.

Mamata later said she was happy that she could convince Basu about the genuine grievances of the affected farmers at Singur and Nandigram and she was now hoping of a solution to the Singur-Nandigram problems.

After meeting the Trinamool Congress leader, Basu called Bhattacharjee, Bose and Sen on Wednesday at his residence and discussed with them in details about his talks with Mamata.

During the discussion, Basu reportedly said he found Mamata quite reasonable and he advised both Bhattacharjee and Bose not to take matter as a prestige issue but to humbly accept their faults. He assured them that if necessary he would again personally talk to Mamata and persuade her for a settlement.

The state government in an affidavit filed at the Calcutta High Court yesterday finally admitted that the owners of some 326 acres at Singur did not collect their payment cheques against their lands acquired for Tata Motors, though all through both Bhattacharjee and other party leaders had been claiming that all farmers had willingly handed over their lands to the government for the Tata Motors’ project.

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Paul feels danger to life from Sonia
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 8
In a sensational allegation, well-known evangelist Dr K.A Paul today said he apprehended danger to his life from Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The President of Global Peace Initiative, based in the USA, claimed that Sonia Gandhi was out to take “revenge against me under the instructions of (American President) Bush and (Secretary of State) Rice”.

Paul, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, alleged that Sonia Gandhi and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Rajasekhar Reddy had been “nursing a grudge” against him and “destroying” his ministry by imposing curbs on the activities of his organisation in the country.

Addressing a press conference here, the self-made preacher, who became internationally known for rubbing shoulders with several presidents and prime ministers, charged that Bush, with whom he apparently fell out after the Iraq war, instructed Sonia to cut off all help to his activities in the country.

He also alleged that Reddy was against him because he had refused to give $ 5 million party fund sought by Y.S Rajasekhar Reddy in December 2003 when he was the opposition leader.

The Chief Minister, however, refuted the charges and said there appeared an “ulterior motive” behind the allegations.

Paul alleged that he was approached by Congress leader B.Satyanarayana, who is now the marketing minister, on December 9, 2003 for donation to the Congress fund on behalf of Rajasekhar Reddy.

“My refusal to accede to their request did not go well with them. I am opening up now after more than three years because there is a threat to my life. My charity activity is sought to be banned in India,” he alleged.

Paul said he had enough evidence to prove the complicity of the Congress government in hurting his evangelical activities, which he would prove in a court of law.

The Chief Minister recalled that Paul had once invited him to visit an orphanage being run by his brother at Sadasivapet on the city outskirts. He said he visited the centre along with his family members, where Paul requested him to invite Sonia to the orphanage. Sonia, however, did not show any interest in visiting the organisation. I do not know why Paul is raising such wild allegations after three years, Reddy wondered.

The Chief Minister also took a dig at Paul saying he was known to be closely associated with TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu.

Meanwhile, the opposition TDP demanded judicial probe into the charges and sought police protection for Paul.

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Presidential poll
Cong steps up efforts
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
The Congress has its intensified efforts to “build a consensus” among the UPA allies and partners on the candidate for the presidential elections with home minister Shivraj Patil having emerged as the front runner.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, also leader of the House in Lok Sabha, has held meetings with some UPA allies over the past two days to discuss the presidential poll.

Today, agriculture minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar met Mukherjee to convey that the NCP wanted the presidential candidate to be a distinguished political leader with secular credentials and international standing. While the NCP has assured its support to a UPA nominee, some of its leaders have, in private, expressed reservations. However, they said they would back him if consensus builds in his favour.

Defence minister A K Antony, labour minister Oscar Fernandes and political secretary to Congress president Ahmed Patel also attended today’s meeting at Mukherjee’s residence with Pawar.

After Pawar left, the Congress held a meeting to fine-tune its election strategy in view of a possible contest.

Observers said some UPA constituents are likely to take a cue from the stand of the Left parties on the possible candidature of Patil, who evidently has the strong backing of 10 Janpath.

Congress spokesman Satyavrat Chaturvedi said no consensus had emerged for presidential elections when NDA was in power.

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UPA’s choice not final: JD(U) chief

New Delhi, June 8
Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav today said there was no finality yet to UPA's choice of Presidential candidate.

Replying to a question at a press conference at the party office here today, Yadav said Home Minister Shivraj Patil's name as the UPA's final choice of Presidential candidate is media speculation.

Steering rather predictably the press conference on his favourite theme of ‘Special Economic Zones’ to a discussion on the Presidential candidate, he said, “The NDA has entrusted Atal Bihari Vajpayee with the charge of naming a Presidential candidate. There is still some time for the Presidential elections. The NDA’s vote value in the Presidential elections is 3,50,000.”

The JD(U) president said he refused to buy media speculation about Patil’s name as the UPA’s final choice. Not too long back, the media was reporting that external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee was the UPA’s Presidential candidate. We have appealed to the UPA to take the initiative for naming a candidate by consensus but so far they have not taken the initiative.”

Asked whether the formation of a new front by eight regional parties is a serious development, Yadav said, “Some friends in Andhra Pradesh are trying to set up a third force.”

Criticising the government for its SEZ policy, he said the JD(U) will try to bring together all those opposed to SEZs on a common platform. He demanded a clarification from the government on the approval given for SEZ on Gurgaon’s fertile land.

He said the government seems hellbent on destroying the nation’s food security. — TNS

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I loved Suraiya, admits Dev

Mumbai, June 8
The evergreen star of Hindi cinema Dev Anand, who has romanced numerous beautiful women on the screen, has rarely been heard of confessing about his real life love for his co-star Suraiya.

Dev Anand has now admitted to have loved her and has made a special mention of this in his forthcoming autobiography titled "Romancing With Life".

"Yes. I loved Suraiya. I am not shying away from this fact. I want to tell everything that happened during those days in my autobiography. It was a very important chapter of my life as I was growing. I was young and in love for the first time," Dev Anand told PTI.

With his eyes lit up and face glowing while speaking about his first love, who died single, Dev Anand said, "She was a big star. I was new. But I was also strong and sophisticated. I was educated, confident and was aware that I was going somewhere in life." "However it was not to be Suraiya. It was destined that way. — PTI

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US Embassy acts tough on visa fraud
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
The US Embassy has referred seven cases of visa fraud to Indian law enforcement for criminal investigation since June , the Embassy said here today. These police referrals include all visa categories, including religious workers, temporary skilled workers (H1Bs), students, and general tourist/business travelers.

The US Embassy takes visa fraud very seriously and works closely with the Indian law enforcement to identify and help prosecute perpetrators. Indian citizens have been repeatedly cautioned against using fraudulent documents or seeking advice from unauthorised organisations or individuals. US Embassy officials have noted that while visa interview appointments may now be more readily available and processing more efficient, US immigration laws have not changed.

A statement released by the embassy here said addressing this subject, David C. Mulford stressed, “Producing or submitting false papers is a consumer fraud and criminal act. Those who pay such brokers and submit false papers do so at great risk”.

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Climate pact encouraging: Pachauri
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 8
Developed countries’ call for halving the GHG emissions by 2050 has won favourable response from UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) chairman Rajendra K. Pachauri.

Pachauri, an expert on global warming and director-general of Delhi-based The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), told The Tribune today that it was an encouraging sign that the developed countries were now talking of stern action to cut emissions. “It is a shift in the position of the US and to me this is encouraging action to react positively that commitments are there and steps to contain global warming will follow,” he added.

Yesterday, the G-8 reached a broad understanding to make substantial cuts in emissions and reach a post-Kyoto agreement by 2009.

In its latest report, the IPCC had asked all countries to introduce drastic cuts in GHG emissions that caused global warming, stressing that no country, including developing nations, should escape the mandate. Meanwhile, the response of leading environmentalist Sunita Narain of the CSE has been restrained. As per the CSE, the big question is “what next?”

At present, Narain is in the UK where she is being awarded a Doctor of Science (DSc) by Cranfield University in recognition of her work in raising public awareness of environmental issues. She is also on the new panel, which the Prime Minister recently formed for guiding decisions on climate change in the country.

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Propagation of other religions in shrines to go
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 8
In a far-reaching move, the Andhra Pradesh Government has promulgated an ordinance prohibiting the propagation of other religions in notified places of worship.

A Bill to this effect will be introduced in the next session of the Assembly, Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy announced today.

The move comes in the wake of criticism over the growing missionary activity at Tirumala, the popular hill shrine in the state.

The ordinance provides for punitive action for violators, including imprisonment of three years, or fine up to Rs 5,000 or both.

After obtaining the consent of the Governor, the government today issued the notification prohibiting the propagation of other religions in certain notified places of worship to ensure that the sentiments of religious groups were not hurt.

According to the notification, Tirumala has been notified as sacred place of worship, covering all seven hills and 10 theerthas, lying in the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams limits. 

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Kalam dedicates Insat-4B to nation

Hassan, June 8
President A. P. J. Abdul Kalam today said India could used its strength in basic research to establish an integrated national mission which could offset the difficulties faced by the nation due to denial of technology and products by advanced countries.

Kalam, who was at the Satellite Master Control Faciltiy here to dedicate the communication satellite Insat-4B to the nation, said, “In a competitive environment of space world, marketing the launch services from India is becoming a challenging task, as the nation which supplies few components to the spacecraft has a say in their choosing the service provider.” — TNS

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