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N A T I O N

Termination of Water Agreements
SC to hear Presidential reference from Sept 18
New Delhi, July 17
Punjab and Haryana today locked horns in the Supreme Court over the termination of the water agreements even as the court fixed hearing by a constitution bench on presidential reference on the Punjab Termination of Agreement (PTA) Act, 2004, for September 18.

Presidential Election
SC refuses early hearing on plea against Patil
PIL for barring jailed MPs from voting to come up today
New Delhi, July 17
The Supreme Court today declined early hearing on a petition challenging the nomination of UPA-Left presidential candidate Prathiba Patil on the question of her allegedly becoming an insolvent but listed for tomorrow a PIL seeking to prevent imprisoned MPs and MLAs from casting their votes in the July 19 poll to elect the 13th head of the state.

VP need not have political background: Karat
New Delhi, July 17
With the outcome of the presidential polls amply clear, political parties have begun consultations on the vice-presidential candidate and initial indications are that a Muslim could occupy the post.






EARLIER STORIES




NDA to decide candidate tomorrow
New Delhi, July 17
The NDA will meet on July 19 after the completion of the presidential polling to decide on its vice-presidential candidate with Deputy Speaker Lok Sabha Charanjeet Singh Atwal and former deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah said to be in the race.

Mumbai Blasts
2 get life term
Mumbai, July 17
A court hearing today sentenced two of those convicted in the Mumbai blasts case to life imprisonment. Imtiyaz Gawte and Nasim Ashraf Barmare were found guilty of criminal conspiracy and aiding and abetting the bombings under Section 120 (B) of the IPC. The maximum penalty under this section is death.

Mumbai bomb blast accused Imtiyaz Gawte talking with a cop as he arrives at the TADA court in Mumbai on Tuesday. — PTI
Mumbai bomb blast accused Imtiyaz Gawte talking with a cop as he arrives at the TADA court in Mumbai on Tuesday.

BSNL tender scam
BJP demands CBI probe
New Delhi, July 17
The BJP today demanded a CBI probe into the multi-crore BSNL tender scam. Briefing news persons, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the nation had a right to know why BSNL approved a much higher rate of $ 107 for a GSM connection in a tender amounting to Rs 20,000 crore than the rate of $ 69 that was offered for a similar connection to MTNL recently.

Cinestar Amitabh Bachchan and Sienna Miller, Hollywood actress and ambassador for 'Global Cool', pose during a campaign against global warming in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Cinestar Amitabh Bachchan and Sienna Miller, Hollywood actress and ambassador for 'Global Cool', pose during a campaign against global warming in Mumbai on Tuesday. — PTI

Mass Rape
NHRC to send team to UP
New Delhi, July 17
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decided to send its investigation team to Dhanni Deeh village in Shravasti district of Uttar Pradesh where women belonging to a minority community were allegedly raped recently.

After Telgi, accomplice too pleads guilty
Chennai, July 17
After Abdul Karim Telgi, the prime accused in the multi-crore fake stamp paper scam, one of his accomplices Sarfraz Nawaz today pleaded guilty before a special CBI court here.

Lalu launches ‘139’ rail enquiry
New Delhi, July 17
An integrated train enquiry system (ITES) that promises accurate information on train schedules, running position, fares and accommodation availability was launched today by railway minister Lalu Prasad.

Act against Hudco officials: SC
New Delhi, July 17
The centre was today directed by the Supreme Court to take appropriate action against officials of the Housing Urban Development Corporation (Hudco) as per the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) findings in alleged irregularities in advancing loans during the NDA regime.

Assam flood situation grim
Guwahati, July 17
The flood situation in Assam turned grim today with the level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries rising in several districts after incessant rains.

Ruckus in AP House
Oppn seeks action on Sachar report
Hyderabad, July 17
Andhra Pradesh Assembly was today rocked by political ruckus over the Sachar Committee report on socio-economic conditions of Muslims.

RPF DIG gets bail
Patna, July 17
Railway Protection Force (RPF) DIG P.J. Rawal, accused of trying to outrage the modesty of an IAS officer’s elder sister in a train, today got his police bail confirmed by a railway magistrate.

Gorakhpur DM suspended
Lucknow, July 17
District Magistrate of Gorakhpur Rakesh Kumar Goel was today suspended for allegedly promising to sanction arms licence to two members of minority community if they adopted family welfare norms.

Save Yamuna
Environmentalists to launch protest
New Delhi, July 17
Battlelines against the proposed 2010 Commonwealth Games village on the Yamuna riverbed have been drawn. Leading environmentalists and water conservationists of the country today came up with a three-level protest strategy to save the country’s rivers, including the Yamuna, from “any further devastation” and for this will launch an agitation on August 8, to mark the anniversary of August-1942 Quit India Movement.


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Termination of Water Agreements
SC to hear Presidential reference from Sept 18
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 17
Punjab and Haryana today locked horns in the Supreme Court over the termination of the water agreements even as the court fixed hearing by a constitution bench on presidential reference on the Punjab Termination of Agreement (PTA) Act, 2004, for September 18.

While Punjab’s counsel Rajiv Dhawan claimed that the PTA Act was not aimed at overcoming the apex court ruling in the SYL canal, Haryana’s lawyer Shanti Bhushan alleged that the Act was aimed at nullifying the apex court verdict.

Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati, urged a Bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan to get the matter decided as early as possible as the dispute could be source of tension between the two states.

After the previous Amarinder Singh government had passed the PTA Act in 2004, scrapping all water accords with neighbouring states from 1981 onwards in the wake of apex court ruling on the SYL canal in favour of Haryana, the President had made a four-point reference to the Supreme Court about the validity of the Act.

The presidential reference had sought apex court’s opinion on: (a) whether the PTA Act and its provisions were in accordance with the Constitution; (b) whether its provisions were as per Section 14 of the Inter-State Water Disputes Act, 1956, and Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, and notification of March 24, 1976, (c) whether Punjab had validly terminated the December 31, 1981, agreement and all other agreements relating to the Ravi-Beas waters with neighbouring states and is discharged of its obligation under those provisions and (d) whether Punjab was discharged under the Termination Act of its obligation flowing from the January 15, 2002, and June 4, 2004, judgements of the apex court about construction of the SYL.

In the January, 2002, judgement, the apex court had decreed Haryana’s suit against Punjab directing it to complete the SYL in one year, failing which the Centre will execute it.

Subsequently, the Punjab government filed a counter-suit in the apex court for discharging the state of the obligation to implement the SC order, while Haryana moved a petition for enforcing the decree against Punjab and if it was not ready to execute the order, it demanded the completion of the project by the Centre.

The apex court on June 4, 2004, had directed the Centre to complete the unfinished SYL by its agencies in the territory of Punjab under the protection of security forces. This prompted the Amarinder government to pass the PTA Act.

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Presidential Election
SC refuses early hearing on plea against Patil
PIL for barring jailed MPs from voting to come up today
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 17
The Supreme Court today declined early hearing on a petition challenging the nomination of UPA-Left presidential candidate Prathiba Patil on the question of her allegedly becoming an insolvent but listed for tomorrow a PIL seeking to prevent imprisoned MPs and MLAs from casting their votes in the July 19 poll to elect the 13th head of the state.

While advocate Manohar Lal Sharma moved an appeal against the Election Commission’s July 6 order rejecting his petition on the question of Patil’s allegedly “discharged insolvency” due to the completion of liquidation proceeding against a cooperative bank run by her family, a petition for preventing jailed legislators from voting was filed by advocate Z K Faizan.

A Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari told Sharma that his appeal had already been listed for hearing on July 26 and, hence it could not be advanced but the court agreed to take up Faizan’s petition tomorrow on the important issue raised by him on the voting right of jailed legislators.

Faizan sought to invoke the provision of Section 62 (5) of the Representation of People Act (RPA) to seek a direction to the EC not to permit the jailed MPs and MLAs to cast their votes as they were debarred under the section to use their right to franchise.

To bring home his point, he cited the apex court’s ruling in Mahendra Kumar Shastri and some case, wherein it was laid down that “prisoners are disqualified for voting under Section 62(5) of RPA and it is equally applicable to all persons.”

He cited the examples of RJD’s Shahbuddin and Papu Yadav, JMM leader Shibu Soren, Umakant Yadav and BJP’s Babubhai Katara as some of the jailed MPs while stating that the list of MLAs all over the country was too long. Prominent examples among jailed MLAs cited were Amarmani Tripathi, Akhilesh Singh and Mukhtar Ansari from Uttar Pradesh. The latter two faced several criminal cases, including murder.

The petition said the EC had already made arrangements for voting by the jailed imprisoned MPs and MLAs but allowing them to cast their votes would be in violation of the RPA provision and contrary to the apex court rulings.

Going a step further the petitioner said even the election of these MPs and MLAs was in violation of RPA’s Section 62(5) as they were disqualified for contesting election when they could not cast their vote. “But the EC has failed to cancel their candidature,” the petitioner said, urging the court to declare the election null and void.

In the SLP against Patil, Sharma though made a request for hearing before the July 19 voting stating that once elected she would be protected under the Presidential Election Act from being proceeded in any court of law.

But the court told him that the issue could be raised in an election petition even after a particular person was elected to the post of President.

To a specific query whether there were specific findings by an insolvency court against Patil declaring her as insolvent, Sharma said the liquidation proceedings against the bank owned by her family members, in which she was also a director till 2004, had been completed in April this year. It amounted to her becoming a discharged insolvent, he claimed.

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VP need not have political background: Karat
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 17
With the outcome of the presidential polls amply clear, political parties have begun consultations on the vice-presidential candidate and initial indications are that a Muslim could occupy the post.

With United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA) throwing up the name of Samajwadi Party leader Rashid Masood, Left leaders today held informal discussions on the possible successor to Bhairon Singh Shekhawat for the August 10 polls.

Party sources said the Communists were not only surprised but also unhappy with the decision of the UNPA, as they wanted to evolve a consensus for a common candidate and isolate the BJP before the crucial polls to Gujarat assembly later this year.

The names the Left is considering at the moment include Professor Sayed Hamid, chairperson of the Jamia Hamdarad Education Society and former vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University, Professor Mushirul Hasan, historian and vice-chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, and Haryana Governor A R Kidwai, who has served as the vice-chancellor of the Aligarh Muslim University.

The Left leaders are scheduled to meet on July 19, on the day of presidential polls to discuss the vice-presidential candidature.

The three academics are widely respected, non-controversial and secular.

CPM General Secretary Prakash Karat has said the candidate for the Vice-President’s post must an “exemplary record” and “have the widest acceptance”.

Karat, in a recent interview, said the Vice-Presidential candidate “need not have a political background” and could belong to any party, which is a shift from the Left parties’ insistence that the Presidential candidate must be political.

The BJP-led NDA has given indications that it could field Najma Heptulla, Rajya Sabha MP and deputy chairperson of the Upper House, for the post.

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NDA to decide candidate tomorrow

New Delhi, July 17
The NDA will meet on July 19 after the completion of the presidential polling to decide on its vice-presidential candidate with Deputy Speaker Lok Sabha Charanjeet Singh Atwal and former deputy chairperson Najma Heptullah said to be in the race.

The meeting, to be held at former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee's residence will deliberate on the issue, NDA backed presidential candidate Bharion Singh Shekhawat's spokesperson Sushma Swaraj said here.

Either a candidate will be decided on July 19 at the meeting or Vajpayee will be authorised to finalise a candidate, Swaraj said. The last day of filing the nomination is July 23 and that is why an announcement on July 20 or 21 will not be a problem, she said. — TNS

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Mumbai Blasts
2 get life term

Mumbai, July 17
A court hearing today sentenced two of those convicted in the Mumbai blasts case to life imprisonment.

Imtiyaz Gawte and Nasim Ashraf Barmare were found guilty of criminal conspiracy and aiding and abetting the bombings under Section 120 (B) of the IPC. The maximum penalty under this section is death.

Incidentally, Gawte is an AIDS patient. He was also fined Rs 2, 39,500 while Barmare was fined Rs 2, 30, 000.

Gawte was found guilty of participating in the landing of RDX arms and ammunition prior to the March 12, 1993, blasts. Barmare was found guilty of throwing a hand grenade at Bay 54 of the Mumbai international Airport. — TNS

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BSNL tender scam
BJP demands CBI probe
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 17
The BJP today demanded a CBI probe into the multi-crore BSNL tender scam.

Briefing news persons, BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said the nation had a right to know why BSNL approved a much higher rate of $ 107 for a GSM connection in a tender amounting to Rs 20,000 crore than the rate of $ 69 that was offered for a similar connection to MTNL recently.

Even if the difference between a city connection and rural telephony is factored in, the rate approved was evidently phenomenally higher and definitely merited a thorough probe.

Minister of communication A. Raja ordered a review on May 14 even though the purchase order was already in place on May 12 on the grounds that the order would result in an over payment of Rs 10,000 crore, the spokesman said. On the other hand, former minister Dayanidhi Maran had accused an NRI businessman and some other vested interests for trying to stall BSNL’s growth. Both these allegations made by the present and former telecom ministers were serious, Javadekar pointed out.

The continued interference by the political bosses for narrow vested interests had resulted in BSNL loosing its market share in mobile telephony from 32 pc in 2006 to 21 pc in 2007. Inadequate and delayed infrastructure expansion would further erode BSNL’s position, he said. He demanded that the PM should immediately order a CBI probe and also divest the present minister of his crucial portfolio as a starting point.

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Mass Rape
NHRC to send team to UP
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 17
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has decided to send its investigation team to Dhanni Deeh village in Shravasti district of Uttar Pradesh where women belonging to a minority community were allegedly raped recently.

Taking cognisance of a report in a national daily, the NHRC has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to send, within four weeks, a factual report on the heinous crime.

According to the report, more than 30 women

were allegedly wronged and paraded naked by persons patronised by a cabinet minister of UP. The accused were taking revenge for the “misdeed” of a boy from the minority community who eloped with a girl of another community.

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After Telgi, accomplice too pleads guilty
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 17
After Abdul Karim Telgi, the prime accused in the multi-crore fake stamp paper scam, one of his accomplices Sarfraz Nawaz today pleaded guilty before a special CBI court here.

Sarfraz was brought from Banglaore along with another accused Balaji and produced before special CBI judge N. Velu during which he responded to the charges of conspiracy, counter-feiting, cheating and forgery.

The judge extended the remand of Sarfraz along with that of Telgi and two co-accused, Jacob Chacko and Abdul Wahid, who are in the Yerawada prison in Pune, and directed them to be produced on July 26 when the charges would be framed.

According to legal procedure, the judge can only deliver an order on this petition only after the charges are framed following his pleading guilty.

On the same day Telgi and the two other co-accused will also be produced in the court as they had filed petitions for personal appearances before the court to enable them access to their respective lawyers. The judge is expected to hear their petition too.

Because of security reasons, Telgi and some of the other accused who are lodged in the Pune prison, are being tried here through video conferencing.

During today’s hearing, the remand of Peter Kennedy, another co-accused who was produced from the Chennai prison, was also extended.

Six others, who are accused in this case in Tamil Nadu, including suspended DIG of the crime branch of the Tamil Nadu police, Mohammed Ali, assistant commissioner of police Shankar, LIC agent Ramaswamy Sadhu and Telgi’s accomplice Nizamuddin and his wife Nazreen, are on bail.

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Lalu launches ‘139’ rail enquiry
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 17
An integrated train enquiry system (ITES) that promises accurate information on train schedules, running position, fares and accommodation availability was launched today by railway minister Lalu Prasad.

In the first phase, people in Delhi, the National Capital Region, Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan will be able to access this service in Hindi and English.

The railways is hopeful that the service will be available across the country by September.

Sources in the railway ministry said the existing railway enquiry numbers such as 1330, 1331, 1334 and others would continue till the new service became effective and popular across the country.

The minister dialled 139 and enquired about the schedule of the New Delhi-Patna Rajdhani Express and the its first class fare.

When mediapersons complained that they could never get across to the railway enquiry, Lalu took it as a challenge.

He redialled the number and established contact with the operator in no time.

The introduction of 139 Rail Sampark telephone service comprising the interactive voice response system and the network of regional call centres, was one of the numerous budgetary promises made by the railway minister.

Replying to questions at a press conference in Rail Bhawan here today, chairman of the Railway Board J.P. Batra said ‘139’ would cost a user only Rs 1.20. “A person can dial 139 from any corner of the country without having to pay STD charges. It has a pulse rate of 180 seconds. In the second phase, the facility can be accessed from mobile phones.”

The sources said value-added services would be added later through a new number. These would include rail ticket reservation, besides hotel and taxi booking. In addition to Hindi and English, information would be available on the ITES later in various regional languages.

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Act against Hudco officials: SC
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 17
The centre was today directed by the Supreme Court to take appropriate action against officials of the Housing Urban Development Corporation (Hudco) as per the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) findings in alleged irregularities in advancing loans during the NDA regime.

The ministry of urban development was granted eight weeks’ time by a Bench, headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan to submit an action taken report. The direction came during the hearing of a PIL, raising the issue of alleged violation of rules in advancing loans by Hudco when BJP leader Ananth Kumar was the urban development minister.

He was accused of using his influence to get over Rs 5,000 crore loans sanctioned in violation of the norms.

The CVC, on the apex court’s order, probed the matter and in a report submitted in March made three-fold recommendations that a departmental inquiry be initiated against the officials concerned, a CBI inquiry be ordered for any financial irregularities and the functioning of Hudco be improved.

However, the UPA government came in defence of the action of Ananth Kumar as additional solicitor-general Vikas Singh informed the court that there was no irregularity in granting loans as a majority of the parties who obtained them were government agencies and most of them had refunded the amount.

He also raised jurisdictional questions on the CVC’s power to make such recommendations, saying that it was not an investigating agency but supervisory body over the CBI. The loans were given to improve the financial situation of the government agencies, Singh said.

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Assam flood situation grim

Guwahati, July 17
The flood situation in Assam turned grim today with the level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries rising in several districts after incessant rains.

The situation in worst-hit Dhemaji was critical with road and rail traffic cut off for nearly a week. The district administration has provided refuge to flood-affected people in four relief camps and 120 temporary shelters.

Food and medical relief is also being provided. The Army has been asked to repair damaged bridges and the North Eastern Frontier Railways is working round the clock to clear tracks.

Over 40,000 persons in 120 villages in Dhemaji were marooned in the wake of a breach in the embankment of the Kumotia river, a major tributary of the Brahmaputra. Vast tracts of land were also inundated in Lakhimpur district and road communication was snapped in several places.

The level of the Barak river also rose, inundating vast areas in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts. — PTI

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Ruckus in AP House
Oppn seeks action on Sachar report
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 17
Andhra Pradesh Assembly was today rocked by political ruckus over the Sachar Committee report on socio-economic conditions of Muslims.

Demanding an immediate discussion on implementation of the committee’s recommendations, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi and MIM members stalled the proceedings, forcing abrupt adjournment of the House.

Barring BJP, the entire opposition, TDP, TRS, CPI, CPM and MIM, gave separate adjournment motions, insisting on taking up a debate on the issue.

While disallowing the motions, the Speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy said the matter had been posted for a short discussion under rule 73 later in the day as per the agenda decided at the meeting of the business advisory committee (BAC) represented by floor leaders of all parties.

Holding placards demanding immediate implementation of the Sachar Committee recommendations, the TRS members trooped into the well of the House and kept raising slogans. They were joined by MIM members.

Amid uproarious scenes, the Speaker adjourned the House twice in quick succession. However, as the furore showed no signs of subsiding, it was adjourned for the day.

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RPF DIG gets bail

Patna, July 17
Railway Protection Force (RPF) DIG P.J. Rawal, accused of trying to outrage the modesty of an IAS officer’s elder sister in a train, today got his police bail confirmed by a railway magistrate.

Rawal presented himself before Railway Magistrate K.K. Singh and sought confirmation of the police bail as the offence was bailable.

The magistrate allowed the prayer as state prosecutor Vinay Pratap had no objection.

Sujatha, the elder sister of Bihar cadre IAS officer Bandana Preyashi, had filed a complaint with the GRP police station in Patna, accusing Rawal of trying to outrage her modesty on the Sampoorna Kranti Express. — PTI

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Gorakhpur DM suspended

Lucknow, July 17
District Magistrate of Gorakhpur Rakesh Kumar Goel was today suspended for allegedly promising to sanction arms licence to two members of minority community if they adopted family welfare norms.

Taking a serious view of the matter, Chief Minister Mayawati suspended Goel with immediate effect and ordered an inquiry into the entire incident.

Family welfare was a voluntary programme and procuring arms licence was one’s right to personal security, Mayawati said, adding there was no government scheme which promised arms licence for promoting family welfare schemes.

The way the DM had promised to give arms licence was indicative of his irresponsible behaviour and an attempt to mislead minority community, a press statement quoted her as saying. — PTI

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Save Yamuna
Environmentalists to launch protest
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 17
Battlelines against the proposed 2010 Commonwealth Games village on the Yamuna riverbed have been drawn. Leading environmentalists and water conservationists of the country today came up with a three-level protest strategy to save the country’s rivers, including the Yamuna, from “any further devastation” and for this will launch an agitation on August 8, to mark the anniversary of August-1942 Quit India Movement .

As per Magsaysay Award winner Rajendra Singh, who has been instrumental in rejuvenating rivers in Rajasthan, the aim is to ensure that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh makes a statement regarding rivers and their conservation from the ramparts of the Red Fort in his Independence Day speech.

“The three-level plan includes taking up the matter at the judiciary level, creating public awareness and involving the intelligentsia and academicians, says Rajendra Singh,” saying several leading environmentalists will gather in the Capital to participate in the movement.

During the week-long protests leading to the Independence Day, several environmental groups, including Varanasi-based Ganga Maha Sabha, Vandana Shiva’s Navdanya, Medha-Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan, Pani Morcha, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, will demand “sampoorna swaraj and jal swaraj”.

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