SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Crucial Meeting Today
NDA to discuss gameplan for Shekhawat

New Delhi, June 17
Preparations for the battle for the country's top post on July 19 continued today with the NDA and UPA leaders holding hectic consultations to ensure the victory of their respective candidates.

Special Investigation Team
UP cabinet gives go-ahead
Lucknow, June 17
The state government has given its nod for setting up an independent Special Investigation Team (SIT) on the pattern of the CBI to speedily respond to serious economic offences involving public money which is expected to put the screw on “big-ticket” corruption cases in the state.

Another bomb hoax at Mumbai WTC
Mumbai, June 17
Security at the World Trade Centre buildings at Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai was tightened after an email sent to the organisation's address warned of a plot to blow up the buildings.
In Video (56k)

NE to be linked to eastern ports
Guwahati, June 17
Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Facility, as envisaged by Government of India, is aimed at connecting the land locked northeast region with the eastern sea ports of the country via Myanmar.





EARLIER STORIES




Rajasthan Governor and UPA's presidential candidate Pratibha Patil being greeted with a bouquet by senior Congress leader Arjun Singh at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday.
Rajasthan Governor and UPA's presidential candidate Pratibha Patil being greeted with a bouquet by senior Congress leader Arjun Singh at his residence in New Delhi on Sunday. — PTI

Anti-communal violence Bill under fire
New Delhi, June 17
The much talked about anti-communal violence Bill of the UPA Government was yesterday attacked by nearly 50 prominent personalities from various walks of life, including former Chief Justice of India A M Ahamadi and former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajender Sachar who described it as a “totally misconceived” draft of a law.

Lalu wants to make Indian Railway the world’s best
Ratlam, MP, June 17
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad yesterday said that his foremost priority is to make the Indian Railway the world's best service of its kind and work had begun in that direction.

SEZ protest: Women tonsure their heads
Nagpur, June 17
The controversy surrounding the acquisition of farmlands for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in several parts of the country does not seem to die down.

Put up a united fight against SEZs: Medha
Mumbai, June 17
Accusing the politicians and bureaucrats of favouring the corporate sector on the issue of setting up of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Maharashtra, noted activist Medha Patkar today called for a united fight over the issue.

Bollywood actors Dharmendra and his son Bobby celebrate Fathers Day with a photocall during the promotional conference of ‘Apne’ starring Dharmendra along with his sons Sunny and Bobby in Mumbai on Sunday.
Bollywood actors Dharmendra and his son Bobby celebrate Fathers Day with a photocall during the promotional conference of ‘Apne’ starring Dharmendra along with his sons Sunny and Bobby in Mumbai on Sunday. — PTI In Video (56k)

No forcible eviction for SEZs: Minister
New Delhi, June 17
Displacement of people from land sought for special economic zones (SEZs) will be purely voluntary and no forcible land acquisition will be made. This assurance was given by rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.

Pranab embarks on visit to Indonesia
Kolkata, June 17
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee embarked on a four-day visit to Indonesia and Singapore on Sunday morning to boost India's Look East Policy.

e-governance scheme makes life easy for villagers
Ramanagaram (Mysore), July 17
When 65-year-old Rudraya recently decided to get a caste certificate for his granddaughter all he did was to walk up to a e-kiosk in his village Shyanboganahalli. The kiosk has an operator, who takes down Rudraya’s request in an electronic format and asks him to come back in a week to collect the certificate.

Union home minister Shivraj Patil receives a flag from the leader of Sashastra Seema Bal mountaineering expedition team G.C. Shah at a function in New Delhi on Sunday.
Union home minister Shivraj Patil receives a flag from the leader of Sashastra Seema Bal mountaineering expedition team G.C. Shah at a function in New Delhi on Sunday. — PTI

A weather station near glacier to study global warming
New Delhi, June 17
For the first time, an Indian weather station is being set up near a Himalayan glacier to study the impact of climate change and provide weather details and warnings to mountaineers.

E-waste, a bomb in Bangalore's belly
Bangalore, June 17
As number of Information Technology (IT) companies is growing, a bomb in the belly of Bangalore is ticking.

Muslim bodies oppose reservation
Hyderabad, June 17
Muslim organisations, including Majlis-e-Iteehadul Muslimeen (MIM), have opposed Andhra Pradesh government's proposed reservation for Muslims on the basis of caste and creed, saying it was aimed at “dividing” the community members. It has asked the state government to provide reservation only on the basis of economic criteria.

Minorities panel
Bill for statutory status in monsoon session
Kochi, June 17
A bill to amend the Constitution to give constitutional status to the National Commission for Minorities would be introduced in the coming monsoon session of the Parliament.

Italian woman delivers using birthing pool method
A second for South Delhi hospital in as many months
New Delhi, June 17
Divya Vaishvi, the third child of Italian couple Dr Jorge Caravotta and Veronica Bertolini, is literally a water baby. She was born at a South Delhi hospital on Thursday after her mother opted for the water birth method of delivery.

Security beefed up at Nepal, Bhutan borders
Siliguri (WB), June 17
The vigil at India's borders with Nepal and Bhutan has been strengthened to restrict entry of Bhutanese people of Nepali origin and Nepali Maoists.

Don’t be scared of donating kidney: Vajpayee
New Delhi, June 17
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said he was leading a healthy and normal life in spite of donating one of his kidneys many years ago.

Rescued after fall into borewell, boy dies
Pune, June 17
A five-year-old boy, who fell into a borewell while playing at a village in Shirur taluka of the district today, died in a hospital after being rescued, official sources said.

Arjun Singh warns against English-centric education
Hyderabad, June 17
Union Minister for Human Resource Development Arjun Singh yesterday warned against perpetuating “English-centric urban growth model” and called for imparting modern education through Indian languages.

Third front ‘formed by disgruntled leaders’
Puducherry, June 17
All India Congress Committee secretary P Sudhakar Reddy today said that the third front was formed by the political leaders who were "disgruntled, damaged and defeated".

Oman cyclone
3 Keralites still missing
Kochi, June 17
Three more Keralites reported missing in Oman after a devastating cyclone struck that country were yet to be traced, union minister of state for External Affairs E Ahmed said today.


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Crucial Meeting Today
NDA to discuss gameplan for Shekhawat
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 17
Preparations for the battle for the country's top post on July 19 continued today with the NDA and UPA leaders holding hectic consultations to ensure the victory of their respective candidates.

While Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar met Janata Dal (U) president Sharad Yaav and NDA convenor George Fernandes to evolve a suitable gameplan for vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's candidature as an independent for the presidential election next month, UPA-Left combine candidate Rajasthan Governor Pratibha Patil met former Prime Minister V P Singh and senior Congress leader Karan Singh who was himself a contender for the top post.

Meanwhile it is learnt that Patil is going to file her nomination on June 23. Before that she would resign from Governorship of Rajasthan.

The National Democratic Alliance is meeting tomorrow to collectively support vice-president Bhairon Singh Shekhawat's status as an independent candidate for the next month's presidential election.

The meeting, which is being held at former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's residence tomorrow morning, would also evolve a strategy to ensure Shekhawat's victory.

Fernandes, who had a long meeting with Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav yesterday, would brief NDA leaders about the prospects of getting support from the newly constituted 8-party Third Front which is meeting in Chennai tomorrow at AIADMK chief and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha's residence.

While Samajwadi Party General Secretary Ram Gopal Yadav did a tight rope walking by avoiding to categorically deny support to Shekhawat, it is understood that the Third Front meeting is going to evolve a strategy which may extend a tacit support for Shekhawat who is going to contest as an independent.

The NDA leadership is little concerned over reports from Mumbai that Shiv Sena supremo Balasahib Thackeray is going to support the UPA candidate Pratibha Patil.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had yesterday called up the Shiv Sena chief and had sought his support for Patil.

Meanwhile, Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna, in its editorial, said though Sena had adopted the Hindutava ideology, it never abandoned the Maharashtrain pride (asmita), and in Patil, a Maharashtrian would ahve the privilege to become the President.

Shiv Sena supremo is going to announce the party's decision on June 19.

In the backdrop of reports about Shiv Sena and another ally Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee considering support for the UPA candidate and ahead of the crucial NDA meeting, BJP President Rajnath Singh had a meeting here with Shekhawat.

Senior BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who had recently remarked that Shekhawat would contest the July 19 election as an independent backed by the NDA, also met the vice president.

Former Union Minister and JD(U) leader Digvijay Singh, a close associate of Shekhawat, also held parleys with him.

The NDA has already rebuffed a plea by Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for unanimity on the UPA-Left nominee.

Vajpayee was authorised by the NDA to evolve a consensus on the issue.

On the second day of her stay in Delhi today, Patil continued with her meeting with leaders of various parties as part of her campaign for the presidential election.

The UPA-Left candidate refrained from speaking to the mediapersons waiting outside V P Singh's residence and limited herself by saying she will talk to them at an appropriate time.

She is also stated to meet Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee and Union HRD Minister Arjun Singh.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi met Patil to discuss the strategy for the polls.

Patil had met the Prime Minister, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Left leaders besides Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav yesterday.

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Special Investigation Team
UP cabinet gives go-ahead
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, June 17
The state government has given its nod for setting up an independent Special Investigation Team (SIT) on the pattern of the CBI to speedily respond to serious economic offences involving public money which is expected to put the screw on “big-ticket” corruption cases in the state.

Last week, the cabinet presided over by Chief Minister Mayawati gave the go-ahead to this unique set up. With this, the BSP regime is fulfilling one of its main election slogans of moving towards “re-establishing the rule of law”.

The two-fold focus of the SIT will be to prosecute public servants who misuse their office and defraud the government of its due revenue or siphon off development funds.

The economic offences where public servants collude with others to cause revenue loss to the government, its institutions, public authorities and organisations would be referred to the SIT. Citizens, however, cannot directly approach the SIT.

With its headquarters in Lucknow, the SIT would have an annual budget of Rs 1 crore to begin with. Its office will also work as a police station where FIRs will be registered against the offenders.

Around 54 police personnel and three legal experts will be posted with the SIT being headed by an ADG-level officer. This premier investigating agency would have an IG, DIG, at least two or more SP level officers, four DSPs, 10 inspectors, six sub-inspectors and 30 constables.

According to sources in the home department, the SIT is targeted at “big-ticket crimes” which often manage to slip through existing agencies like the Economic Offences Wing (EOW), Vigilance and Anti-Corruption as these agencies have a wide ambit and straight jacket procedures.

SIT will have the flexibility of taking advantage of the services of subject experts on a contractual basis or even summoning officers from other agencies who may be needed for the investigations.

After cases are referred to the principal secretary home by the concerned department, a three-member committee comprising the secretary home, DGP and a senior officer of the concerned department will be set up to decide if the case is fit for prosecution.

Once the committee decides to go ahead, the SIT would function as a police station and register the case on its own.

Similarly, the High Court is being asked to appoint a special designated court, much on the lines of special CBI courts, to speedily decide matters handed over by the SIT.

Commenting on this initiative, an officer said that the government's intentions of pro-actively dealing with corruption at higher places couldn’t be doubted. However, only time would tell if it fulfils its mission or gets mired in controversies like its role model - the CBI.

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Another bomb hoax at Mumbai WTC
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 17
Security at the World Trade Centre buildings at Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai was tightened after an email sent to the organisation's address warned of a plot to blow up the buildings.

Teams of the anti-terror squad were pressed into service and the bomb disposal units were brought in to search for explosives.

The police said, the email was sent by one Vishnu Shankar who demanded $ 10 million in ransom to prevent the blast from being carried out.

He claimed to be from the Lashkar-e-Toiba. The mobile number mentioned in the message turned out to be fake. It was the second letter sent to the WTC in a month's time.

Today, the police dismissed the letter as a prank possible sent by a student of the World Trade Institute housed in the premises.

The institute is conducting examinations and police suspected students were possibly trying to scuttle it.

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NE to be linked to eastern ports
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, June 17
Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Facility, as envisaged by Government of India, is aimed at connecting the land locked northeast region with the eastern sea ports of the country via Myanmar.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee has said that New Delhi has decided to fund the entire project. The project is aimed at connecting Indian ports in the eastern seaboard with Sittwe port in Myanmar and then through riverine transport and by road to Mizoram.

"This will provide an alternative and shorter route for transport of goods to northeast India from the mainland," Mukherjee disclosed while addressing a seminar on 'Geography as Opportunity' at Shillong on Saturday.

The government has planned a variety of such cross border projects for the development of northeast with India’s eastern neighbours, especially Myanmar.

Mukherjee said cross border development projects with Myanmar in diverse fields such as roads, railways, telecommunication, IT, science and technology, power etc. were aimed at improving connectivity between Northeastern India and Western Myanmar.

India has planned to develop the sea port in Sittwe, the capital of northwest Myanmar province Rakhine as part of Kaladan Multi Modal Transit and Transport Facility. As part of the project Kaladan river will be developed as a waterway connecting northeast with the Bay of Bengal.

The project was conceived by the Indian External Affairs Ministry in 2003. It also has Myanmar government’s approval.

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Anti-communal violence Bill under fire
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, June 17
The much talked about anti-communal violence Bill of the UPA Government was yesterday attacked by nearly 50 prominent personalities from various walks of life, including former Chief Justice of India A M Ahamadi and former Delhi High Court Chief Justice Rajender Sachar who described it as a “totally misconceived” draft of a law.

In a jointly signed statement issued by 47 personalities said “it is a travesty that a Bill of such fundamental importance in addressing the challenges posed to the secular character of our society and polity, was drafted by the government without any real consultation process involving civil society.”

The Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilition of Victims) Bill, 2005, aimed at curbing the incidence of communal riots in the present form would not only fail to secure the justice for the victims but actually would strengthen the “shield of protection enjoyed by the State, political leaders and officials for their acts of ommission and commission in such crimes, the NCO statement said.

The Bill, in fact, sought to give greater powers to “often communally tainted” state governments. Further, it continues to perpetuate the silence around gender-bias crimes,” the signatories claimed.

“We reject this bill in entirety… the assumption of the Bill are so flawed that it cannot be remedied by amending a few components,” the signatories said, demanding setting up of a fresh “drafting committee” to formulate entirely a new Bill on communal violence with active participation of civil society through an open and transparent public process.

Eminent jurists, social activists, academicians and legal experts who have the day-to-day experience on the ground level in court rooms in handling communal crimes must be part of the consultative process, they demanded.

The law to be put in place to deal with communal crimes, should fill the gaps in jurisprudence as had been found during the past 60 years and the recommendations of various commissions, including the Law Commission should be taken note of, they said.

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Lalu wants to make Indian Railway the world’s best

Lalu PrasadRatlam, MP, June 17
Railway Minister Lalu Prasad yesterday said that his foremost priority is to make the Indian Railway the world's best service of its kind and work had begun in that direction.

Prasad, who inaugurated the Ratlam-Neemuch broad gauge line, told to mediapersons — on board a special train — ''I brought the railways out of the red and earned a profit of Rs 20,000 crore. Now, the emphasis is on further expanding railway business under which the Eastern and Western Dedicated Freight Corridor Project will be likely completed at a cost of Rs 30,000 crore within the stipulated time of five years.'' For enhancing goods loading capacity, the Eastern Corridor would run from Ludhiana to Howrah while its western counterpart would run from New Delhi to Mumbai.

''The corridors envisage separate electrified up and down tracks for goods trains. In the second phase, freight corridors will be constructed between Mumbai-Chennai and Chennai-Howrah,'' the Minister said.

Lalu Prasad today said that the number of coaches was being enhanced to 24 in every passenger train, work to increase stations' capacity had begun and cushioned seats were being fitted in every general bogie.

''All these tasks are likely to be completed in one-and-a-half years,'' Mr Prasad, who inaugurated the Ratlam-Neemuch broad gauge line, told mediapersons on a special train.

To keep tracks clean, train toilets would be made on the pattern of plane toilets to prevent excreta from falling on tracks.

Responding to a question, the Minister assured, ''the Ajmer-Chittorgarh broad gauge will be inaugurated very soon.'' — UNI

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SEZ protest: Women tonsure their heads

Nagpur, June 17
The controversy surrounding the acquisition of farmlands for setting up Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in several parts of the country does not seem to die down.

After rocking West Bengal for months early this year, the issue has now entered Maharashtra. The government here has acquired 14 villages in Nagpur for a planned 30-billion-rupees cargo hub spread over 2,556 hectares near the airport.

But this has not gone well with the villagers. And, to mark their protest, women in Shipangaon village, which is home to nearly 10,000 people, have tonsured their heads. This unique protest move came a week after authorities did not respond to a similar protest by their menfolk.

“Our village is not getting benefits of farm culture, what else can we then do? We want our village... men have been getting themselves tonsured, no one noticed, so ladies have got down to it now... we are facing lots of problems, how do we farm, eat, feed our children?” said Maina Bai Khobragare, a protester.

“We still haven’t got any compensation. Because of that, we are being stretched to feed ourselves...tonsuring was done to send a message to the government about our problems... no official has come till now,” said Ram Rao, another villager. — ANI

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Put up a united fight against SEZs: Medha

Mumbai, June 17
Accusing the politicians and bureaucrats of favouring the corporate sector on the issue of setting up of the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Maharashtra, noted activist Medha Patkar today called for a united fight over the issue.

“The only solution is to unitedly protest forcefully against such a policy and making sure that the politicians who backed SEZs were not elected in the forthcoming elections,” Patkar said here during a rally, organised to protest against the Maharashtra government’s decision to set up an SEZ near Gorai.

Over 5,000 protesters gathered in Uttan to join her at the public rally, organised by the Dharavi Beth (island) Bachav Samiti, along with activist of various organizations, including the Catholic Secular Forum, against the SEZs.

Coming down heavily on the promoters and the state government, who are jointly developing the project, she said the SEZ policy was not just anti-environment or anti-people but violated the very letter and spirit of the Constitution.

She said the basic idea was to cut the country into pieces and sell each off to the highest bidder, among the influential business houses in the country.

Patkar said the founding fathers of the Constitution were clearly of the opinion that economic planning should aim at no concentration of economic wealth.

She went on to describe the double-speak of the politicians, irrespective of their party affiliations, who passed the SEZ policy in Parliament, with little or no discussion, within a couple of days.. — UNI

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No forcible eviction for SEZs: Minister

New Delhi, June 17
Displacement of people from land sought for special economic zones (SEZs) will be purely voluntary and no forcible land acquisition will be made. This assurance was given by rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.

R.P. Singh, whose ministry has a draft rehabilitation package ready for people who are displaced from their farmland to make way for SEZs, also assured that the compensation in such cases would be attractive and offered before acquisition.

“Even if the rehabilitation package is attractive, it fails to serve its purpose when the people start agitating and hold demonstrations,” R.P. Singh, who personally fashioned the finer points of the package, said.

“The policy seeks to end forcible acquisition of farmers’ land. And in the case of agreed acquisition, the rehabilitation package will be awarded to affected people before displacement,” he added. “The displacement should take place only when it is absolutely necessary and fully voluntary.”

Piloted by the rural development ministry, the government proposes to enact a new law - Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act - and the relevant Bill is being examined by the law ministry.

The government also proposes to amend the Land Acquisition Act to give the new law an overriding effect over the Land Acquisition Act and the Special Economic Zone Act.

The concept of SEZ, seen as a prime mover of the Indian economy, came under criticism after farmers opposed forced land acquisitions for such projects at many places across the country, especially in Nandigram in West Bengal where 14 people were killed in police action against protestors on March 14.

In the freewheeling interview, R.P. Singh, 61, who represents the Vaishali constituency of Bihar in the Lok Sabha, said that his party, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), had started preparations to expand its base beyond its pocket borough in Bihar and Jharkhand with a nationwide ambition.

He said his party had won seats in the Manipur Assembly and also has a presence in Maharashtra and West Bengal.

He also sought to play down criticism against his party chief and railway minister Lalu Prasad that he was ignoring his home state Bihar and spending too much time in New Delhi only to nurse his aspirations to become Prime Minister.

The rural development minister also justified his party's total endorsement of every action taken by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and said everything was being done as per the national common minimum programme.

"We don't want to do anything that could weaken this alliance and strengthen the communal forces. We neither want to nor will do anything that would encourage communal forces." — IANS

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Pranab embarks on visit to Indonesia

Kolkata, June 17
External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee embarked on a four-day visit to Indonesia and Singapore on Sunday morning to boost India's Look East Policy.

In his first leg of the tour, Mukherjee will visit Jakarta for two days to co-chair the third India-Indonesia Joint Commission meeting along with his Indonesian counterpart Wirajuda.

The two sides will discuss economic and trade relations, investment, industrial cooperation, agriculture, tourism and defence and security matters at the meeting among other issues.

In Singapore, Mukherjee will launch Indian Business Forum. The Minister is also scheduled to release a book "The 12th volume of Chalo Delli" - the collected works of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. — ANI

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e-governance scheme makes life easy for villagers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Ramanagaram (Mysore), July 17
When 65-year-old Rudraya recently decided to get a caste certificate for his granddaughter all he did was to walk up to a e-kiosk in his village Shyanboganahalli. The kiosk has an operator, who takes down Rudraya’s request in an electronic format and asks him to come back in a week to collect the certificate.

For thousands of farmers in remote villages of Karnataka, access 38 services including caste, income, physically handicapped, and old-age pension certificates besides getting land records is just a short walk to the nearest e-kiosk in their village. Once Rudraya’s request is received, it is forwarded to the back office at the tehsil headquarter where a hard copy is made and sent to the official concerned, who files his report following which the Tehsildar signs on the request digitally.

This has become possible due to an e-governance initiative called ‘Nemmadi’ (standing for peace of mind) started by the government in November last year. Under this scheme, the land records in the state have been digitalised and then consolidated at the tehsil level. With only computer-generated records accepted in the courts of the state after the initiation of the scheme, it is expected to bring in transparency as well as allow easy accessibility to records. The service, started in October last year, will soon be available in all 177 tehsils of the state in another three to four months.

The scheme has been successfully decentralised over the past many months. Initially it was available at the tehsil level only. Farmers though happy to be out of the clutches of revenue officials, who demanded and received bribes for various land records, felt they had to travel to the tehsil headquarter for the certificates. It was then that the scheme was taken to the villages with tele-centers being established in nodal villages, which covered four to five surrounding villages.

Now in another new development which could further revolutionise the e-governance initiative, the government has decided to provide smart cards to 10,000 village accountants in the state so that they can sign certificates for land records and other services digitally. “We have decided to take this decision to hurry up the authentication process of requests as village accountants cannot be present always at the village tele-centers to sign the necessary certificates”, e-governance department Director Vipin Singh disclosed in an interview with TNS.

Explaining the new process, Vipin Singh said the scheme was being made public key infrastructure (PKI) enabled. “This allows documents to be signed in bulk following which copies of the same can be downloaded on a computer from anywhere”, he added. With the scheme being tested successful at a micro level it is only a question of getting the requisite smart cards in a short time”, he added.

Meanwhile, at Shyanboganhalli village, Rudraya says villagers are ecstatic about the scheme. “We had to pay a minimum of Rs 150 to Rs 200 for a certificate. Now we can get it officially for Rs 15”. There are teething problems though, including that of poor connectivity at times. That has, however, not dimmed the enthusiasm of the applicants with 60 to 70 applications being received everyday at Syanboganahalli. The tehsil office in Ramanagaram receives around 400 applications daily.

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A weather station near glacier to study global warming

New Delhi, June 17
For the first time, an Indian weather station is being set up near a Himalayan glacier to study the impact of climate change and provide weather details and warnings to mountaineers.

"We are setting up an Integrated Sensor Suite (ISS), a warning and recording system that includes a microprocessor controlled lightweight weather station, at the Chhota Shigri glacier in Himachal Pradesh," said P.C.S.

Rautela, secretary of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF).

According to a report by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), several glaciers in India are falling prey to global warming.

"If the trend continues, then not many glaciers will be left for mountaineers to climb by the middle of the century. We want mountaineering, not rock climbing," said Rautela, a retired vice-marshal of the Indian Air Force.

"The station will allow scientists to stay and study the amount of precipitation, the impact of carbon dioxide, ultra violate rays on ice and the age and longevity of current snow slabs. All this will help India develop a model on climate change," Rautela told IANS.

The ISS is a microprocessor controlled, compact lightweight weather station that will update climbers and rescue teams with essential data on temperature, humidity, solar and ultraviolet radiations, wind velocity and direction and rain gauge.

He said the station would be able to give quick forecasting, onscreen graphics, view icons, weather warnings and forecasts on its built-in LCD console.

The system also includes a solar panel to power it and a data logger that can record sensor data of six months for retrieval later. It will help in generating crucial real time data with regard to global warning and climate change in the glaciers.

He said the station would use solar and wind power to meet its daily energy requirement.

"It would be a complete green endeavour. A three-member team, including one glaciologist and me, will leave for Chhota Shigri for field inspection. We hope the station will come up by the year end," he said adding that the initial investment would be Rs.2 million.

Rautela, who has undertaken over 12 expeditions, said they expected favourable cooperation from the ministry of earth science. "We have not asked for any financial help but will certainly work in cooperation with the government." — IANS

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E-waste, a bomb in Bangalore's belly

Bangalore, June 17
As number of Information Technology (IT) companies is growing, a bomb in the belly of Bangalore is ticking.

Home to more than 2000 multinational and IT companies, Bangalore faces the danger list of cities with e-waste hazard, including discarded computers, central processing unit, peripherals, servers, printers, fax, copiers, motherboards, hard discs, compact disc, digital video disc, tapes, cartridges, telecom equipments and lithium batteries.

Fluorescent and Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) lamps, and other electronic equipments are also part of the e-waste which is posing a threat to the city.

Talking to ANI in an exclusive interview, Director of E-Parisara, P. Parthasarathy feels e-waste was posing a threat unless it was recycled properly. He also demands legislation on e-waste and its proper recycling.

E-Parisara, India's first e-waste recycling facility at the outskirts of Bangalore, which recycles around 350 tonnes of e- waste per annum, has all the potential to recycle these wastes.

According sources, around 8000 tonnes of e-waste is generated annually exposing Bangalore to e-waste hazards.

Talking to ANI Henning Schreiber, an e-waste expert feels if it is not recycled properly e-waste could pose a great danger to human life.

Domestic e-waste including computers, refrigerators, televisions and mobiles contain more than 1,000 different toxic materials.

Chemicals such as beryllium, found in computer motherboards, and cadmium in chip resistors and semiconductors are poisonous and can lead to cancer.

Chromium in floppy disks, lead in batteries and computer monitors and mercury in alkaline batteries and fluorescent lamps also pose severe health risks. — ANI

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Muslim bodies oppose reservation

Hyderabad, June 17
Muslim organisations, including Majlis-e-Iteehadul Muslimeen (MIM), have opposed Andhra Pradesh government's proposed reservation for Muslims on the basis of caste and creed, saying it was aimed at “dividing” the community members. It has asked the state government to provide reservation only on the basis of economic criteria.

A meeting of the organisations, led by MIM chief Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, termed an official committee's report on Muslim reservation a document to “divide” Muslims and create misunderstanding among the community.

“The recommendations were totally unacceptable as Islam doesn't allow divisions among its followers,” the Joint Action Committee of Muslims resolved and decided to take a ‘fatwa’ on the issue.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy had recently announced promulgation of an ordinance providing reservation to minorities in education and employment and appointed a committee headed by P.F. Krishnan, a civil servant and former member BC Commission, to go into details and report to the government.

The Krishnan report suggested division of Muslims in various categories, including caste-based, while recommending four per cent reservation. — PTI

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Minorities panel
Bill for statutory status in monsoon session

Kochi, June 17
A bill to amend the Constitution to give constitutional status to the National Commission for Minorities would be introduced in the coming monsoon session of the Parliament.

Union minister of state for external affairs E Ahmed said this while speaking at the valedictory function of the ‘South Indian Muslim Convention for Social Justice’ here. He said the present minorities commission was constituted as per an Act of Parliament and did not have any Constitutional status.

He said the Cabinet had given approval for giving constitutional status to the commission to protect the rights of minorities, including Muslims in the country.

“The step was part of the Centre's effort to find new avenues where the rights of the minorities had to be protected,” he added.

Ahmed said the government had also given approval to constitute an Equal Opportunity Commission to protect minorities’ rights.

He said the Cabinet had decided on May 17 to implement the Sachar Committee Report recommendations ‘in toto’ and was moving ahead with plans to achieve the same. — UNI

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Italian woman delivers using birthing pool method
A second for South Delhi hospital in as many months
Tripti Nath
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 17
Divya Vaishvi, the third child of Italian couple Dr Jorge Caravotta and Veronica Bertolini, is literally a water baby. She was born at a South Delhi hospital on Thursday after her mother opted for the water birth method of delivery.

With this, the Phoenix Hospital reported its second successful water birth in less than two months.

Dr Urvashi Sehgal, senior obstetrician and gynaecologist at the hospital, said Veronica (36) gave birth to a baby girl at 10 am on Thursday in a birthing pool for which 600 litres of Bisleri mineral water was arranged.

The couple are delighted that their third child was delivered in water in the presence of their two children - daughter Meggie and son Kabir. “It was an amazing experience sharing the water birth experience with our kids. Meggie, who is a little more than five, received the newborn inside the pool. This is the second time that Meggie received a child in a pool. She had received Kabir inside the pool in a birth centre in Assagao in Goa. Our first child was born in my home country in Argentina. We are very satisfied with our experience as the hospital staff is very open-minded,” said Dr Jorge.

A microbiologist and a filmmaker, Dr Jorge said he has made a 60-minute film celebrating the arrival of their third child. “We have named her Divya Vaishvi. I would like to encourage would-be mothers to give birth in water because there are no medical interventions. It is painless and the woman gives birth in zero gravity. Besides, water is relaxing. The mother and the child are doing fine. We were in the hospital only for 12 hours,” the proud father said.

He said his wife had preconditioned water birth before opting for India to give birth to their third child.

It was in April end that the Phoenix Hospital had helped Charlotte Walter, a British national, deliver her third child using the water birth method.

The common feature in these two deliveries is that both Veronica and Charlotte were delivering in water the third time.

Dr Sehgal said the success of the water births is inspiring young Indian would-be mothers. “Two Indian women from Delhi have opted for water birth. Their due dates are later this month. Our child birth educator, Divya Deswal, also holds an interactive session every Saturday to respond to queries about the water birth,” the doctor said.

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Security beefed up at Nepal, Bhutan borders

Siliguri (WB), June 17
The vigil at India's borders with Nepal and Bhutan has been strengthened to restrict entry of Bhutanese people of Nepali origin and Nepali Maoists.

The inspector general of police (North Bengal), R.J.S. Nawla, said today that reinforcements of the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), in charge of guarding the Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan border, and the West Bengal police, which provides back-up to the force, were deployed.

Nawla said that the SSB reinforcements would help restrict the entry of the Bhutanese of Nepali origin and Maoists of Nepal through non-conventional routes along the border. Strengths in the police stations along the border were also increased.

Maoists of Nepal were of late trying to increase their presence in Bhutan which was busy putting an end to the monarchy and switching to democracy. Recently, 14 suspected Maoists were arrested in Bhutan, the IGP said quoting intelligence sources.

The SSB and police presence was also strengthened along Indo-Bhutan border at Jaigaon and in the dense forest of Dooars in Jalpaiguri district, which is a favourite haunt for the militants of the Kamtapur Liberation Organisation, Nawla said.

The Indo-Nepal border at Panitanki, 35 km from here, recently witnessed violence when at least 10,000 Bhutanese of Nepali origin gathered on the other side of the border and demanded that they be allowed to use the Indian corridor to get across to Bhutan. Some SSB personnel and West Bengal policemen were injured in the violence. — PTI

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Don’t be scared of donating kidney: Vajpayee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 17
Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today said he was leading a healthy and
normal life in spite of donating one of his kidneys many years ago.

Vajpayee who laid the foundation stone of a kidney hospital here today said, “Nobody should be afraid of giving away a kidney. I am sitting before you. I gave away my kidney many years ago and I'm sitting here hale and hearty and will be admidst you two or four years more.” In his brief address, Vajpayee said modern lifestyle was a major cause of bad health.

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Rescued after fall into borewell, boy dies

Pune, June 17
A five-year-old boy, who fell into a borewell while playing at a village in Shirur taluka of the district today, died in a hospital after being rescued, official sources said.

Sonu Shivaji Deshmukh was trapped around 20-feet inside the 150-feet narrow borewell since 10.30 am after falling into it.

He was rescued after a seven-hour ordeal and immediately taken to a hospital in Shirur where he died around 6 pm.

Two teams from Pune were summoned and CRPF personnel from an adjoining camp also chipped in.

“The body would be handed over to the family after completion of all formalities, including a post-mortem,” Shirur police station inspector Namdev Bhale said. — PTI

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Arjun Singh warns against English-centric education
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 17
Union Minister for Human Resource Development Arjun Singh yesterday warned against perpetuating “English-centric urban growth model” and called for imparting modern education through Indian languages.

“The real growth is not possible in India if it is based on exclusive, English-led urban model since it is unviable and will do disservice to the country’s spirit,” he said while delivering the convocation address at the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) here.

Later, he replied to query that the issue of implementation of Rajendra Sachar Committee recommendations was being “attended to by the Prime Minister”.

Stating that education had to play a “socially empowering role”, given India’s social and linguistic diversity, the Union Minister said the greatest challenge before the policy makers was to empower language universities in the country so that a vast majority of people could receive modern education.

Singh, along with two other Urdu scholars, was conferred honorary D. Litt degree by the university.

Making a strong case for encouraging Indian languages, including Urdu, he said some of the biggest and most powerful world markets have well-trained and technically qualified work forces in non-English languages particularly in China, Far East, Russia and Eastern Europe.

Describing Urdu university as a “symbol of India’s inclusive democracy,” Singh said, “It is in the inclusiveness that the future of world democracies lies and certainly not in the controlled, exclusive partnerships.”

Stating that recent reports had brought out the social and economic backwardness of Urdu speakers who find their language to be a barrier to higher education, the Union Minister asked the Urdu University to work ceaselessly for converting this barrier into a bridge towards social and economic development.

He also outlined various initiatives taken by the UPA government for promotion of Urdu language, including establishment of academies for professional development of Urdu teachers at Aligarh Muslim University, MANUU and Jamia Milia Islamia.

The government had also accepted the proposal of Urdu University for establishment of modern Urdu schools on the lines of Kendriya Vidyalaya, he said. Besides, the University Grants Commission had allocated Rs 7 crore for setting up of Instructional Media Center in the MANUU campus at Gachibowli on the city outskirts.

Haryana Governor A R Kidwai and vice-chairman of National Council for Promotion of Urdu Language Shamsur Rahman Faruqi were also conferred honorary D. Litt degrees by MANUU, which was established in 1998. At present, it has over 70,000 students on rolls in the distance education programmes and a network of over 100 study centers across the country, imparting graduate and post-graduate courses in various streams.

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Third front ‘formed by disgruntled leaders’

Puducherry, June 17
All India Congress Committee secretary P Sudhakar Reddy today said that the third front was formed by the political leaders who were "disgruntled, damaged and defeated".

"The front was formed by politically disgruntled, damaged and defeated leaders and such a front would not serve any purpose," he said.

"Although AIADMK leader Jayalalithaa was claiming to be a champion of women she was only showing her narrow-mindedness by adamantly refusing to support the woman candidate of the UPA and Left allies for the presidential polls," he said.

Reddy lauded AICC leader Sonia Gandhi's decision to field a woman candidate.

Earlier, a PCC meeting presided over by Reddy and attended by Puducherry Chief Minister N Rangasamy, adopted a resolution welcoming Pratibha Patil's candidacy for the president polls. — PTI

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Oman cyclone
3 Keralites still missing

Kochi, June 17
Three more Keralites reported missing in Oman after a devastating cyclone struck that country were yet to be traced, union minister of state for External Affairs E Ahmed said today.

He said the Oman government and the Indian embassy there were doing everything possible to trace the missing persons.

He said the Indian Embassy at Oman had issued around 150 passports without any fees to Keralites who had lost everything in the floods that followed the cyclone.

Ahmed said he was in touch with the Oman rehabilitation minister.

The Oman government has constituted committees for assessing the damage caused by the cyclone, to take up construction work and also rehabilitation, 
he added. — PTI

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