SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

A long political trek to Raisina
New Delhi, July 25
Pratibha Patil, who today created history by becoming the country's first woman President, has seen the rough and tumble of politics, including an unusually bitter campaign on her way to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

President Pratibha Patil along with her predecessor A.P.J. Abdul Kalam inspects the guard of honour after taking the oath of office in New Delhi President Pratibha Patil along with her predecessor A.P.J. Abdul Kalam inspects the guard of honour after taking the oath of office in New Delhi on Wednesday.
— PTI photo


EARLIER STORIES


Left retains control of Haldia
Kolkata, July 25
The CPI (M) controlled Left front had retained the control of the Haldia municipality by winning 19 seats out of the total 26 - the election of which was held on Sunday and the results declared today.

7 MLAs offered Rs 25 crore to quit: Goa CM
Mumbai, July 25
More details are emerging on the attempt to bring down the Digambar Kamat government in Goa, which was scuttled late last evening. Kamat said today that between Rs 20 and Rs 25 crore was offered to seven MLAs to resign their seats in the assembly so that the government would be reduced to a minority.

Row over micro-irrigation system
9 TRS members suspended from Assembly
Hyderabad, July 25
Nine Telangana Rashtra Samithi members were today suspended from the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly after they disrupted proceedings demanding the scrapping of a government order on the implementation of micro-irrigation system in the state.

The ‘black belly’ of Blue Lady
Radioactive substances present in ship
New Delhi, July 25
A group of trade union leaders, labour and environment groups today claimed that there was concrete evidence to prove that radioactive material was present on controversial ship SS Norway aka Blue Lady, currently anchored 4,000 feet off the Alang coast.

Link MSP to price index, demands Badal
New Delhi, July 25
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has demanded that revision of minimum support price should be linked with consumer price index. Badal, who met agriculture minister Sharad Pawar here today, said MSP should be fixed at the actual cost of cultivation plus 50 per cent margin to the farmers, as recommended by the National Farmers Commission.

Badal asks Soz to amend CAD norms
New Delhi, July 25
The ministry of water resources has sanctioned two projects of Rs 654.46 crore for Sirhind Feeder Part-II and Bathinda Branch Part-II under Command Area Development programme.

BSP MLA murder case
Warrants against MP for abducting eyewitness
Allahabad, July 25
A non-bailable warrant has been issued against Samajwadi Party strongman and MP Atiq Ahmed asking him to surrender before police within a week in connection with alleged abduction and intimidation of an eyewitness in the BSP MLA Raju Pal murder case.

Order on anganwadis not implemented
SC contempt notice to chief secys of HP, 4 states
New Delhi, July 25
Irked by lackadaisical approach to its clear cut direction on making all the sanctioned anganwadis operational in every state, the Supreme Court today issued contempt notices to chief secretaries of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa and Kerala.

Consider manning all level crossings, SC tells Railways
New Delhi, July 25
Concerned over the increasing rate of accidents on level crossings across the country, the Supreme Court today asked the Railway Ministry to consider manning all of them to ensure full safety as the Railways could not cite paucity of funds as a reason as it was now running in profit.

IT professionals targeted by criminals
Techies want to be ordinary office-goers
Bangalore, July 25
The company t-shirt, the plastic identity card and the laptop have traditionally been signs of pride for the IT community in the city. The techies have always taken pride in their separate identity.

Kidnapped IT official freed
Hyderabad, July 25
The kidnapped executive of Satyam Computer Services, Vedula Satyanarayana, was set free by his abductors after they realised that their game was up, with special police teams zeroing in on their hide out.

Plot to shoot Reshammiya, Santoshi foiled
STF nabs four gangsters
Lucknow, July 25
Averting a major tragedy the Special Task Force today arrested four criminals who had arrived from Mumbai to buy arms to reportedly bump off popular singer-actor Himesh Reshammiya and film maker Raj Kumar Santoshi.

Security forces bust ULFA plot
Guwahati, July 25
The Army and the Assam police in a joint operation have busted a plan of the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) to sabotage the Independence Day celebrations at the parade ground in Dibrugarh in eastern Assam.

India set to cash in on its large working population
Bangalore, July 25
Largest working population coupled with increasing engineering talent being produced in India could make India realise the benefits of its demographic dividend, said Infosys Technologies co-chairman Nandan M. Nilekani here today.

Carbon Trade Practice
Going green can keep the cash registers ringing
New Delhi, July 25
Good environmental practices actually make tremendous business sense. Reports suggest that Grasim Industries have become the first cement company in the world to reimburse carbon credits for Rs 55 crore, thereby making way for others to reimburse points earned through good environmental practices in international market.

29-yr struggle to recover 1 paisa
Jaipur, July 25
A Jodhpur trader's 29-year-long legal battle to recover an outstanding amount of ‘one paisa along with interest’ came to an end when the Rajasthan High Court rejected his appeal. Now the trader will get only one paisa and the Rs 11 spent on sending the legal notice. He will not be paid any interest.

At 77, he writes on palm leaf comfortably
Puducherry, July 25
At the age of 77 his eyesight is failing but he carries on the tradition of writing on a palm leaf. Kanaiyan lives in Malam village in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, about 80 km from here. He is among the very few persons who keep alive the ancient tradition of writing legibly on a palm leaf.

Monica Bedi released from jail
Hyderabad, July 25
After nearly five years of incarceration, Monica Bedi, the former Bollywood starlet and companion of gangster Abu Salem, walked free today after her release from a city jail. Bedi, who was released after the Supreme Court exempted bail conditions, said she was keen to resume her film career and start life afresh.

Mumbai blast case
One more sent to gallows
Mumbai, July 25
The special court set up under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act to hear the 1993 Mumbai blast case, today sentenced one more person to death. Mohammad Farooq Pawle who was found guilty of parking a vehicle containing RDX at the Air-India building was sentenced to death by Judge Pramod Kode of the TADA court. Twenty persons were killed and 87 injured in the blast.



A relative of Mohammed Farooq Pawale, who was sentenced to death for his part in the Mumbai bombings, cries outside a special court in Mumbai on Wednesday. — Reuters photo

A relative of Mohammed Farooq Pawale, who was sentenced to death for his part in the Mumbai bombings, cries outside a special court in Mumbai

Bird flu in Manipur
Guwahati, July 25
Manipur state hill department director Dorendra Singh tonight officially confirmed the incidence of bird flu in the state on the basis of laboratory test report from the central government laboratory in Bhopal

Elephants kill 8 in Assam
Guwahati, July 25
Eight villagers including five women were trampled to death by a herd of four wild elephants at Howaithang area near Assam-Mizoram border in Cachar district of south Assam at around 2 a.m. today.

HC nod to HVC merger with Cong
New Delhi, July 25
The Delhi High Court has put its seal on the order of the Election Commission approving the merger of former union communication minister Sukh Ram’s party Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) with the Congress before the last Lok Sabha elections.

Ambani seeks time to save mansion
Mumbai, July 25
With the Maharashtra Waqf Board virtually threatening to take over a multi-storey bungalow being built by Mukesh Ambani, the industrialist has sought time to stall the move.

Bedi fumes over Dadwal’s appointment
New Delhi, July 25
Furious at being overlooked for the post of Delhi Police Commissioner, Kiran Bedi, the country’s first woman IPS officer, today said she would fight the “injustice” of the appointment of Y.S. Dadwal who is two years junior to her.

Haryana seeks reservoirs
New Delhi, July 25
Haryana irrigation and revenue minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav met union water resources minister Saif-ud-din Soz here today to apprise him of the need to create storage reservoirs in the Yamuna valley to store surplus water in the monsoon period for meeting demand of drinking water, irrigation and power in the basin states.


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A long political trek to Raisina

Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishanan administers the oath to Pratibha Patil during the swearing-in ceremony at the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi
Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishanan administers the oath to Pratibha Patil during the swearing-in ceremony at the Central Hall of Parliament in New Delhi on Wednesday — PTI photo

New Delhi, July 25
Pratibha Patil, who today created history by becoming the country's first woman President, has seen the rough and tumble of politics, including an unusually bitter campaign on her way to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Set to break the male bastion in the presidential palace, the lawyer-turned-politician brings with her a wealth of experience as a politician and an administrator.

The 72-year-old Congress loyalist held several posts in Maharashtra besides being Deputy Chairperson of the Rajya Sabha and Governor of Rajasthan but her role in the cooperative movement in her home state was at the centre of a controversy in the run-up to the Presidential poll.

Nearly eight years after her tenure as an MP ended in 1996, Patil, a staunch supporter of the Nehru-Gandhi family, had gone into a virtual political wilderness before she was brought in as Rajasthan's Governor in November 2004.

Bodyguards escort President Pratibha Patil and former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as they head towards Rashtrapati Bhavan after the swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi
Bodyguards escort President Pratibha Patil and former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as they head towards Rashtrapati Bhavan after the swearing-in ceremony in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI photo

Born on December 19, 1934 in Jalgaon district, Patil practised there as a lawyer before joining politics.

She was a member of the Maharashtra Assembly from 1962 to 1985, and served as a minister holding portfolios like urban development and housing, education, tourism, parliamentary affairs, public health and social welfare and cultural affairs. She worked her way up from the rank of deputy minister to the Cabinet as also in the Congress hierarchy.

Patil also has the experience of being a leader of the Opposition when Sharad Pawar became chief minister of Maharashtra for the first time in July 1979.

Patil's stint in Parliament began in 1985 when she was elected to the Rajya Sabha and became its Deputy Chairperson a little over a year later, a post in which she remained from November 18, 1986 to November 5,1988. During this period, she also headed the parliamentary committee on privileges. She was the Maharashtra Congress chief from 1988 to 1990 before being elected to the Lok Sabha from Amravati in 1991.

Patil, who never lost an election, had gone into virtual political hibernation at the end of her tenure in the Lok Sabha and her only appearance in the political scene of Maharashtra was taking part in the party's campaign in polls.

It was in November 2004 that the Congress leadership recalled her to become the Governor of Rajasthan. — PTI

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Fernandes secretary
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Tourism secretary Christy Fernandes has been appointed secretary to President Pratibha Patil.

The announcement came earlier in the day before the swearing-in ceremony of Patil in Parliament House in the afternoon.

A Gujarat cadre IAS officer, Fernandes is expected to assume office immediately. His appointment has been cleared by the Appointment Committee of the Cabinet.

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Rashtrapati Bhavan cuisines to remain veg

New Delhi, July 25Idli and dosa may give way to utthapam as a choice menu after the change of guard at Rashtrapati Bhavan today, but the cuisines at the table will continue to be vegetarian.

All during his five-year tenure, Kalam’s preferred menu at the table was idli, dosa and sambar besides curd-rice, pickle and pappad, recalls a senior aide.

The newly elected President, Pratibha Patil loves utthapam and dal but avoids spinach and potatoes. “She prefers a very simple food with less oil and spices,” says Kailash, her butler at the governor’s residence in Jaipur.

A habitual late eater at night, the out-going President had made it clear to the comptroller of the Rashtrapati Bhavan to prepare all his meals from the general kitchen, which caters to the other staff members in the presedential estate.

During Kalam’s entire tenure, the family kitchen specially meant for the President was never operational. Not even when his 50-odd relatives had come to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. — PTI

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Shekhawat accepts new bungalow

New Delhi, July 25
After some initial reservations, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, who resigned as Vice-President after losing the Presidential election, has accepted the official accommodation offered to him in the Capital.

The union urban development ministry has offered Shekhawat the 31, Aurangzeb Road address, a type VII bungalow, to live when he leaves the Vice-President's residence on Maulana Azad Road.

“He has accepted it and requested the authorities to carry out required repairs in that house,” an aide of Shekhawat said. — PTI

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Kalam returns to home state
Tribune News Service

Chennai, July 25
Former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam tonight returned to his home state of Tamil Nadu as an Indian Air Force aircraft carrying him from New Delhi landed at the airport here.

He was given a red-carpet welcome and received by two Tamil Nadu Ministers K. Anbazhagan and T. Anbarasan and the Mayor of Chennai other than top bureaucrats and police officials.

He told newspersons at the Anna University here: "I was born in Tamil Nadu. I grew up and went to school in Tamil Nadu. I went to the university here and I am happy to be back to teach in this university in Tamil Nadu."

Kalam was straight driven to the Anna University here where he was accorded a simple reception. He will take over as visiting professor of the university tomorrow.

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Left retains control of Haldia
Tribune News Service

Kolkata, July 25
The CPI (M) controlled Left front had retained the control of the Haldia municipality by winning 19 seats out of the total 26 - the election of which was held on Sunday and the results declared today.

But the results clearly reflect the impact of Singur and Nandigram issues on the election since Trinamool Congress and its allies could snatch 7 seats from the ruling Left front which, in the last election, had won all 25 seats (now increased to 26 after de-limitation), and ran the board for the last five years without any opposition.

Interestingly, the Congress (l), which contested eight of the possible seats separately, lost all but their presence divided the opposition votes and it ensured the CPI (M)’s victory. The BJP which also fought independently for some seats, lost all. But Siddhikulla Chowdhury’s PDSL won one seat where TMC had not fielded any candidate.

Mamata Banerjee admitted her “mahajot” in the election against the CPI (M) was not complete since the Congress (l) was not co-operative. There was also no agreement with the other anti-Left parties in some seats, which ultimately went to the CPI (M).

But she was confident if in the forthcoming panchayat polls, all the anti-Left parties were united, it would be possible to oust the CPI (M) from the panchayat raj.

She was happy that the CPI (M) supremacy in Haldia could be destroyed and they had been taught a good lesson for their mischief in Nandigram and Singur and Tapashi Mallick’s murder.

Lakshman Seth, the CPI (M) MP in Haldia, however, claimed their victory exemplified that the people in West Midnapore were in favour of the government’s present industrialisation programme and the transferring of farm lands to industries. He said the industrialisation programme in Haldia would now be further streamlined and strengthened.

Congress (l) leader Pradip Bhattacharya silently conceded their defeat, adding that their role on the

Nandigram and Singur issues had not been welcomed by the Haldia people. He admitted that the Congress (l) did not play the right role on Singur and Nandigram issues because of their political compulsion in the Centre.

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7 MLAs offered Rs 25 crore to quit: Goa CM
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 25
More details are emerging on the attempt to bring down the Digambar Kamat government in Goa, which was scuttled late last evening.

Kamat said today that between Rs 20 and Rs 25 crore was offered to seven MLAs to resign their seats in the assembly so that the government would be reduced to a minority. “Forces behind the regional plan are behind the move to topple my government,” Kamat said, referring to controversial MLA Babush Monserrate of the United Goans Democratic Party.

For the first time, a Congress MLA, Agnelo Fernandes, came out openly to say that he was offered Rs 15 crore to resign from the Assembly.

Sources said several MLAs took an advance of Rs 5 crore, but decided not quit after pressure from the Chief Minister and other party leaders. The government had also provided information on the influx of black money into Goa to the Income Tax department, Kamat said.

Kamat further added that he wanted to take every segment of society on the issue of the regional plan and this was not liked by some forces. “There should be a probe into the amount of money coming into Goa,” he said.

The regional plan unveiled by Monserrate envisaged turning the whole of Goa, including reserved forests and agricultural lands, into an urban zone. Real estate companies that mobilised crores of rupees from the stock market recently have already purchased tens of thousands of acres of land across the state through front companies and were waiting for the change in land use laws.

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Row over micro-irrigation system
9 TRS members suspended from Assembly

Hyderabad, July 25
Nine Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) members were today suspended from the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly after they disrupted proceedings demanding the scrapping of a government order on the implementation of micro-irrigation system in the state.

The main opposition, TDP, CPI, CPI-M and BJP, members staged a noisy walkout on the issue.

The entire Opposition was united in demanding the withdrawal of the order, issued last month, to facilitate the expansion of micro-irrigation systems like drip and sprinklers in areas covered by major lift irrigation schemes.

The opposition parties contended that the backward Telangana region, which lacks adequate canal irrigation facility, would not get a fair deal if the implementation of micro-irrigation systems was made mandatory.

The TRS, fighting for a separate Telangana state, has been the most vociferous in opposing the order.

The issue triggered noisy scenes during Question Hour when

TRS members, waving placards and shouting slogans, frequently rushed to the podium demanding the immediate withdrawal of the order.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, however, assured that micro-irrigation methods would be introduced only after farmers were fully convinced about the benefits.

There was no need for any farmer to be apprehensive about it, Reddy said. — PTI

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The ‘black belly’ of Blue Lady
Radioactive substances present in ship
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
A group of trade union leaders, labour and environment groups today claimed that there was concrete evidence to prove that radioactive material was present on controversial ship SS Norway aka Blue Lady, currently anchored 4,000 feet off the Alang coast.

The group says that Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Technical Experts (CTE) had informed the court that presence of radioactive materials on a passenger ship like Blue Lady is quite unlikely.

Blue Lady anchored off the Indian coast in June 2006 and got embroiled in controversies after reports emerged that a “toxic ship similar to Le Clemenceau was coming to the ship breaking yard at Alang for dismantling”.

The coalition-Indian Platform on Shipbreaking (IpoS)-stated that new evidence submitted by former project manager of the controversial ship revealed that the ship, which is awaiting the Supreme Court’s permission before dismantling, had radioactive material Americium 241 in at least 5500 fire detection points. According to CITU leader P.K. Ganguly, this finding comes after CTE said the presence of radioactive materials in a passenger ship like Blue Lady is quite unlikely.

Americum 241 concentrates in bone, liver and muscle and can expose surrounding tissues to radiation, thereby increasing the risk of cancer. “It poses significant risk if ingested or inhaled and can stay in the body for decades and continue to expose surrounding tissues to both alpha and gamma radiation, increasing the risk of developing cancer,” the group says, adding that neither the dismantling plan submitted by buyers of the ship nor reports or affidavits by the Technical Committee or the MoEF envisage safe removal or destruction of such radioactive substances contained in the ship.

“ The new evidence exposes the shoddy state of science in this country. A body of experts appointed by the apex court confidently and without evidence, rules on a subject that has far-ranging implications on worker health and environment,” says Gopal Krishna.

According to Krishna, the Supreme Court in the matter of ship breaking dealing with decontamination of ships before they are exported to India for breaking, specifically directed that “before a ship arrives at port, it should have proper consent from the authority concerned or the state maritime board, stating that it does not contain any hazardous waste or radioactive substances. There has been no compliance of these directions in the case of Blue Lady. No one has been punished for this lapse till date”.

It has been admitted that ship contains more than 1200 tonnes of asbestos, significant quantities of carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other heavy-metal-laden substances. Export of such ships to non-OECD countries violates the Basel Convention. However, India has refused to challenge such imports despite the abysmal environment and safety record at its ship-breaking yard in Alang, the group adds.

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Link MSP to price index, demands Badal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has demanded that revision of minimum support price (MSP) should be linked with consumer price index (CPI).

Badal, who met agriculture minister Sharad Pawar here today, said MSP should be fixed at the actual cost of cultivation plus 50 per cent margin to the farmers, as recommended by the National Farmers Commission.

He demanded the actual rate of interest paid by farmers should be taken into account while estimating the cost of production. Badal said instead of half-crop period, the entire duration of crop should be taken into account for calculating interest on loan amount. Likewise, the cost of transportation to the market yard should also be included in the MSP.

Pointing out that remunerative MSP was a pre-requisite to improve the socio-economic condition of the farming community, he said farmers of the state were a distressed lot which had resulted in the large number of suicides.

An official spokesman said that responding to the demand made by Badal, Pawar agreed in principle to constitute a committee, comprising officials from the Agriculture Ministry and Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), to look into the various issues raised by the Chief Minister.

Pawar also agreed to the proposal of the Chief Minister to include Punjab in the Multi-State Agricultural Competitiveness Project along with five states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharastra, Rajasthan, Orissa and Tamil Nadu.

Responding to Pawar’s suggestion for amending the APMC Act and ensuring effective integration of extension services by establishing Agricultural Technology Management Agency (AMTAs) at district level, Badal said the state has already initiated the process of amending the APMC Act. He said all districts of the state shall be covered under the ATMA project by 2007-08.

The Chief Minister impressed upon Pawar to set up four citrus estates to double the area under citrus cultivation from 17,900 to 35,000 hectare in five years.

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Badal asks Soz to amend CAD norms
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
The ministry of water resources has sanctioned two projects of Rs 654.46 crore for Sirhind Feeder Part-II and Bathinda Branch Part-II under Command Area Development programme.

According to an official spokesman, a decision on the projects was taken at a meeting between Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and union minister of water resources Saif-ud-Din Soz.

Badal urged Soz to change the norms of the CAD scheme which stipulates the commissioning of the new project only after the completion of the previous one and submission of the utilisation certificate. He requested the union minister to revise these norms in case of Punjab because most of the canal works spilled over due to the minimum period of two to three months for the execution of these projects. He said closing of canals was possible only after harvesting and before sowing of next crops.

Soz assured the Chief Minister that the ministry would soon clear the proposals submitted by the state government under the expansion, renovation and modernisation (ERM) scheme. He also agreed, in principle, to allot new projects under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) in accordance with the proposals submitted by the state Irrigation Department.

The Chief Minister assured Soz that the state would soon adopt the model Bill on rain water harvesting and recharging groundwater.

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BSP MLA murder case
Warrants against MP for abducting eyewitness

Allahabad, July 25
A non-bailable warrant has been issued against Samajwadi Party strongman and MP Atiq Ahmed asking him to surrender before police within a week in connection with alleged abduction and intimidation of an eyewitness in the BSP MLA Raju Pal murder case.

“Proceedings have been initiated against Atiq Ahmed, the Lok Sabha member from Phoolpur, under Section 82 of CrPC following an FIR lodged in Dhoomanganj police station in the city by Umesh Pal, an eyewitness in the Raju Pal murder case,” DIG, Allahabad Range, Vijai Kumar told PTI here.

He said as part of the proceedings, a notice was put out at Atiq’s residence in the city yesterday, whereby he had been asked to surrender before police within a week, failing which he would be declared an absconder and his property would be attached.

The DIG said Umesh Pal, who is also a member of the zila panchayat and a relative of Raju Pal, had alleged that he was picked up by Atiq’s henchmen on February 28, 2006, and taken to Atiq’s office in the Chakia locality where he was beaten up and asked to retract from his statement before the trial court.

Atiq’s brother Ashraf, a former MLA and co-accused in the Raju Pal murder case, had been declared an absconder last week. Raju Pal was shot dead here in broad daylight on January 25, 2005, three months after his electoral debut from the Allahabad West Assembly seat.

In the by-poll that followed the death of Pal, Ashraf wrested the seat surmounting a strong sympathy wave in favour of the slain MLA’s wife Puja, who was fielded by the BSP.

However, in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections held this year Puja managed to defeat Ashraf by a margin of around 10,000 votes.

The crackdown on Atiq and Ashraf follows the promise made by Mayawati during the election campaign and reiterated by her upon her assuming charge as chief minister that the culprits in the Raju Pal murder case would be brought to justice once her party was voted to power. — PTI

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Order on anganwadis not implemented
SC contempt notice to chief secys of HP, 4 states
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 25
Irked by lackadaisical approach to its clear cut direction on making all the sanctioned anganwadis operational in every state, the Supreme Court today issued contempt notices to chief secretaries of Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Orissa and Kerala.

The court in its order of July 9 had directed the states to make all central funded 10.53 lakh anganwadi centres, sanctioned till March 2007, operational as per the fixed schedule.

Since the court had divided the states in different groups to respond to its order by filing affidavits, the five states that were to respond by July 20 failed to do so.

Taking a serious view of it, a Bench of Justices Arijit Pasayat and S.H. Kapadia directed the chief secretaries of these states to appear personally on August 28 to explain the reasons for not responding to the court order.

But they were directed to file affidavits in reply to the contempt notices by August 24, why proceedings for the contempt of court should not be initiated against them.

They were also asked to furnish names of other officers cast with responsibility to implement the anganwadi scheme so that appropriate action could be initiated against them also. The court in its order of July 9 had said the backlog of anganwadi centres sanctioned till September 2006 be made operational by July 15 and those sanctioned up to January 2007 be made functional by September 30.

The court had made it clear that the non-observance of the time frame fixed by it for implementing the order would be viewed seriously against the state governments and the states divided in three groups, according to their turn of hearing, were directed to submit affidavits by July 20, August 10 and October 10 for filing compliance reports.

Himachal’s additional advocate general J.S. Attri, however, said in an earlier affidavit the state had informed the court that the process for survey for all sanctioned 10,000 centres and the process of appointment of workers to run them was complete. Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh at the same time got applause for making all the sanctioned anganwadis operational.

Out of the 10.53 lakh sanctioned anganwadis, 2.72 lakh were yet to be opened with West Bengal (37,088), Uttar Pradesh (33,987), Jharkhand (32,097), Bihar (22,761), Madhya Pradesh (19,432), Assam (11,635), Manipur (7,639) and Punjab (5,439) listed as major defaulters. As per the Centre’s proposal, a target of opening 14 lakh anganwadis has been fixed till December 2008.

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Consider manning all level crossings, SC tells Railways
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 25
Concerned over the increasing rate of accidents on level crossings across the country, the Supreme Court today asked the Railway Ministry to consider manning all of them to ensure full safety as the Railways could not cite paucity of funds as a reason as it was now running in profit.

The Railways was given four weeks to submit its status report on safety measures taken at the level crossings by a Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari.

According to the Railways report, there are 16,682 manned and 20,313 unmanned level crossings in all over the country. Out of the unmanned crossings, 1,018 more had been identified for converting them into guarded ones, it submitted in an affidavit.

Though the Railways said the initial cost of turning an unmanned crossing into manned one comes at Rs 12 lakh, the annual maintenance cost was Rs 3 lakh. If all the unmanned crossings were to be made guarded, the total initial conversion cost would be Rs 2,219 crore and annual maintenance cost Rs 555 crore. The court was not satisfied with the Railways arguments as its rate of converting unmanned crossings into guarded ones during the past 10 years was very slow as only 1,100 had been added to the safety list. “You can’t talk about the paucity of funds now as the Railways is running in profit,” the court told the Railways counsel.

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IT professionals targeted by criminals
Techies want to be ordinary office-goers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 25
The company t-shirt, the plastic identity card and the laptop have traditionally been signs of pride for the IT community in the city. The techies have always taken pride in their separate identity.

Not any more. If recent incidents are any indication, techies in the city would rather try to blend with the crowd than be conspicuous. Some say they are already doing this and doing away with all the outward signs which make them different from other office-goers.

In a glaring incident yesterday, five IT professionals were beaten up while taking an after dinner stroll near Bookefield. According to the police, the IT professionals were accosted by half a dozen locals who asked them what companies they were working for and when not satisfied by their answers, they bashed them up.

“There was also verbal abuse indicative of the locals ire against IT employees”, said Mahesh, who works for a software firm. Surprisingly none of the IT personnel were robbed of their belongings.

Techies say such incidents, with variations, are occurring more often now than earlier. Srinivas R, a software engineer, says techies are usually targeted for their credit cards, mobiles, costly watches, i-pods and lap tops. He says techies on bikes are easily identified by their company shirts and laptops which they carry strapped across their chests. IT personnel are more vulnerable on weekends as they like to hang out in pubs and discos and travel back home late at night.

Many of them are, however, going in for lifestyle changes. Munish, a software engineer from Punjab, says he has stopped wearing his company t-shirt. Besides, he no longer straps his laptop around his chest. “I put it in the backpack along with my identity tag and am now no different from other office-goers returning home from work”. Many others have forsaken their bikes for company transport for the security it gives even if it means an increase in travelling time.

The city police is taking steps to provide more security on the outskirts of the city where a large population of IT personnel now reside, close to the Electronic City as well as Whitefield and Brookfield. A new division called South-East division has been created to look after the IT corridor which has 13 police stations.

DCP (South) Soumendu Mukherjee says the timings kept by the techies make them vulnerable to attacks and it is not as if they are being targeted more than others. He says moving around late in the night with laptops does pose a risk and that the police on its part was increasing patrolling in IT dominated areas to give them a feeling of added security.

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Kidnapped IT official freed
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 25
The kidnapped executive of Satyam Computer Services, Vedula Satyanarayana, was set free by his abductors after they realised that their game was up, with special police teams zeroing in on their hide out.

Satyanarayana, a general manager in the IT major, was held captive in a dingy room at Nekkonda village in Warangal district, about 200 km from here.

The police team tracked down the location with the help of mobile signals after the abductors made calls and demanded Rs 20 lakh as ransom. But, before they could reach the spot, the kidnappers set their hostage free.

Satyanarayana called up the police and informed them about his release, who later brought him to the city.

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Plot to shoot Reshammiya, Santoshi foiled
STF nabs four gangsters
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, July 25
Averting a major tragedy the Special Task Force today arrested four criminals who had arrived from Mumbai to buy arms to reportedly bump off popular singer-actor Himesh Reshammiya and film maker Raj Kumar Santoshi.

Acting on a tip-off provided by the Mumbai police STF arrested the offenders belonging to the Ejaz Lakadwala gang who had been given the task of shooting Reshammiya and Santoshi .

Addressing a press conference DGP Vikram Singh said the accused had confessed that they had initially planned to send one of their men as a contestant in the Zee TV show ‘Sa Re Ga Ma Pa’ in which Himesh Reshammiya was to be one of the judges.

According to the arrested persons, the intention of executing an attack on the singer-actor and the filmmaker was to intimidate them and force them to pay money to the mafia.

The plan to shoot Reshammiya during the show was to draw maximum publicity. “Their man, who was to carry out this sinister plan, got eliminated in the initial rounds of the musical show nipping their plan in the bud,” said the DGP.

The police is hunting for the sharp shooter who participated in the show’s auditions.

Leader of the four-member Lakadwala team, Anees Radiowala, admitted that he had been sent to purchase arms to assault the two celebrities.

Before the media Anees owned up being paid Rs 50,000 to collect the arms from the state. He also admitted that he was on the Lakadwala payroll and was paid Rs 25,000 to 30,000 per month for his services.

Speaking to reporters he said, “Bhai always took care of me and sent me to safe places. This is the first time that I have been caught.”

The other three accused are Namdeo, Mohd Rahim Khan and Ishrat Warsi - all from Mumbai.

According to the DGP the Mumbai police had been informed of the arrests and it would carry out further investigations.

Giving details of their plans in the state the DGP said the offenders were also making preparations to kidnap a ‘gutka’ tycoon in Lucknow, a move which had been prevented by their arrests.

They were arrested near a school close to the Sufi shrine at Dewa Sharif in Barabanki district on the outskirts of Lucknow this morning. The STF team recovered a pistol, two revolvers, one country made pistol, cartridges, one mobile phone and a Qualis vehicle from the criminals.

DGP Singh said the module operated on the directions of Ejaz Lakadwala, who is now based in Australia and New Zealand. It was assigned the task of purchasing the arms that were then to be handed over to another module of sharp shooters in Mumbai.

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Security forces bust ULFA plot
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 25
The Army and the Assam police in a joint operation have busted a plan of the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) to sabotage the Independence Day celebrations at the parade ground in Dibrugarh in eastern Assam.

Dibrugarh DSP V.K. Ramisetty informed The Tribune that security forces recovered a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) fitted with a programmable timer device (PTD) weighing about 7 kg from an ULFA courier from Dibrugarh.

The police official quoting the ULFA courier, identified as one Bitupan Moran, said the explosive device was being taken for planting near the main gate or inside the parade ground to disrupt celebrations in the venue.

“The IED fitted with the PTD was timed for explosion during I-day celebrations. An explosive device with a PTD can be timed for explosion about 180 days in advance,” the official informed.

Meanwhile, the militant group triggered a blast damaging a high-tension power transmission line near Bijni in Bongaigaon district of Lower Assam last night.

Police said the ultras had attached four bombs to four legs of the power transmission tower in a paddy field. One of the bomb exploded causing partial damage to the structure. The Army explosive experts diffused three other bombs on Wednesday.

The police and the Army have intensified operation against ULFA militants apprehending trouble in the run up to the outfit’s ‘martyrs’ day on July 27 as well as the country’s Independence day.

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India set to cash in on its large working population
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, July 25
Largest working population coupled with increasing engineering talent being produced in India could make India realise the benefits of its demographic dividend, said Infosys Technologies co-chairman Nandan M. Nilekani here today.

Nilekani, who was delivering the key-note address at the second international conference on ‘Management of Globally Distributed Work (GDW)’ organised by Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, said GDW was a phenomenon which was here to stay and India was uniquely placed to take full advantage of it.

He said India, which produced 3.5 lakh engineers compared to 70,000 engineers produced in the United States every year, was taking maximum advantage of the telecom revolution. He said presently India, along with the other South Asian countries and China, had cornered 51 per cent of the gross domestic product. He said the country had taken advantage of the possibilities generated in the field of IT and that cheaper bandwidth and advancement in space technology had made it a global destination for IT, business process outsourcing (BPO) and knowledge process outsourcing (KPO) industries.

Speaking about the talent available in the country, he said the number of engineering graduates was likely to increase to 20 lakh by 2010. He said while this would attract more of the world’s wealth in terms of work generated in the country, there was a need to qualitatively improve this talent to take it to the next level.

He said this could be done by creating benchmarks and focusing on producing engineering talent which was attuned to the needs of the industry. He said the IT industry on its part had started a number of initiatives to improve the human capital available in the country through Nasscom, its representative body as well as the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).

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Carbon Trade Practice
Going green can keep the cash registers ringing
Vibha Sharma
TNS

New Delhi, July 25
Good environmental practices actually make tremendous business sense. Reports suggest that Grasim Industries have become the first cement company in the world to reimburse carbon credits for Rs 55 crore, thereby making way for others to reimburse points earned through good environmental practices in international market. In fact not just those in business, clean technology could also help other institutions join the carbon trade process.

Experts peg India’s annual capacity to earn at $2,000 million by regulating the emission of green house gases (GHGs). Taking cue from this, Indian Institution of Management (IIM) Lucknow is also running a course specifically targeting environment management.

The course - Corporate Environmental Management and Carbon Markets - provides students with understanding of the changing relationship between businesses and environmental management and strategies being adopted by businesses throughout the world.

IIM Lucknow faculty member Sushil Kumar says India has a great capacity to earn carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects and pegs at $2000 million its capacity to earn in terms of carbon credits annually.

“A CDM National Strategy Study predicts that India can acquire 10-15 per cent of the global CDM market. Accordingly, many big players - Reliance, Tata, Birla, Ambuja, ITC - are moving in spite of earlier apprehensions that market uncertainty and complex procedures that CDM involves would put big companies off,” he says.

Two major projects - GFL in Gujarat and SRF in Rajasthan - are reported to have already sold 6.8 million annual CER each to companies from developed countries who have to meet their targets of reduction in emission of GHGs by 2112 under the Kyoto Protocol.

CDM is an arrangement under the Kyoto Protocol that allows developed countries to invest in emission-reducing projects in developing countries, as the cost of cutting one unit of carbon emission is much more in developed countries. Which is why businesses in developed countries could gain competitive as well as economic benefits through CDM projects.

India offers vast potential for CDM projects and can generate 248 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent or Certified Emission Reduction (CER) units per year, including 78 million tonnes from land-use and plantation projects. In monetary terms, assuming the least price of $8 per CER, India could annually make around $2000 million.

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29-yr struggle to recover 1 paisa

Jaipur, July 25
A Jodhpur trader's 29-year-long legal battle to recover an outstanding amount of ‘one paisa along with interest’ came to an end when the Rajasthan High Court rejected his appeal.

Now the trader will get only one paisa and the Rs 11 spent on sending the legal notice. He will not be paid any interest.

The verdict which was passed on Tuesday, has now created another problem-- one paisa coins are not in circulation any more.

The case started in 1976 when Devraj, a resident of Mithapur village of Jodhpur district, lent Rs 52,934 and one paisa to M/S Dhanraj Madanlal of Ahmedabad.

The firm paid back Rs 52,934 to Devraj in instalments by August 14, 1978.

Later, Devraj sued M/S Dhanraj Madanlal for the remaining amount of one paisa and demanded an extra interest of Rs 14,934 along with the one paisa and Rs 11 spent on sending the legal notice.

In 1988, the upper district court in Jodhpur gave the verdict that Devraj should be given only one paisa. Devraj’s son Prassanraj appealed against this verdict in the Rajasthan High Court in 1989.

After 18 years, the high court rejected the appeal.

Justice Gopal Krishan Vyas, while mentioning the decision said no agreement was made by the parties on the issue of the interest amount.

So the issue was not under legal jurisdiction. — IANS

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At 77, he writes on palm leaf comfortably
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Puducherry, July 25
At the age of 77 his eyesight is failing but he carries on the tradition of writing on a palm leaf.

Kanaiyan lives in Malam village in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, about 80 km from here. He is among the very few persons who keep alive the ancient tradition of writing legibly on a palm leaf.

Pulavar B. Kanaiyan grips the metal pen in an usual position in between his ring finger and small finger and writes quickly and legibly on a palm leaf of an inch diameter, which he holds in his other hand. He was at the centre of attraction at a one-day exhibition of ancient manuscripts hosted by the French Institute of Pondicherry, French School of Asian Studies and the National Manuscript Mission on Friday here.

Kanaiyan has to his credit of making fresh copies of over 100 ancient manuscript bundles each with 80 or 100 leaves. He attributed his skills to his teacher Duaraisamy Pillai, who insisted on using palm leaf for writing in 1930s even when paper was very much preferred to lam leaves. “There were no organised schools at remote villages like ours. Learned people from neighbouring regions like Duaraisamy Pillai used to visit villages and teach boys at public places like tree shades and temples. My master was comfortable in using metal pens and palm leaves than papers and ink pens,” Kanaiyan said.

In fact, all students in the village used to write on palm leaves till they completed their elementary education. Hailing from a family that traditionally served the government as village karnams, Kanaiyan had been in the government service until 1980. He later joined the department of palm leaf at the Thanjavur Tamil University and had served as a palm leaf scribe, copying down the texts from ancient palm leaf manuscripts on new leaves, until 2002.

“The art of writing on palm leaves is not as difficult as it looks. It requires patience and proper training,” he said, adding that he trained more than 93 students of a government school in Mailam on the art.

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Monica Bedi released from jail
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 25
After nearly five years of incarceration, Monica Bedi, the former Bollywood starlet and companion of gangster Abu Salem, walked free today after her release from a city jail.

Bedi, who was released after the Supreme Court exempted bail conditions, said she was keen to resume her film career and start life afresh.

“I have learnt lessons from jail life and become stronger and more confident,” a beaming Bedi, told reporters before leaving for her native village in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab.

“Finally, I got justice. I am very thankful to God and courts. I want to spend some time with my family who stood by me,” said Bedi, who was arrested, along with Salem, in the Portugese capital of Lisbon in September 2002 and extradited to India in 2005.

Ducking questions about her links with Salem, Bedi said “I do not want to talk about the past. I want to focus on the present. I am getting good offers from Telugu industry and also bollywood and look forward to resuming my career.”

In May this year, the Supreme Court had granted her bail in the fake passport case but she could not be released due to a similar case pending against her in Bhopal. She was brought back here last week after the Bhopal court acquitted her in the second case.

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Mumbai blast case
One more sent to gallows
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 25
The special court set up under the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA) to hear the 1993 Mumbai blast case, today sentenced one more person to death. Mohammad Farooq Pawle who was found guilty of parking a vehicle containing RDX at the Air-India building was sentenced to death by Judge Pramod Kode of the TADA court.

Twenty persons were killed and 87 injured in the blast.

Pawle was found guilty of undergoing training in assembling car bombs packed with RDX in Pakistan. Pawle was also found guilty of leaving a similar car bomb near the headquarters of the Shiv Sena, the Sena Bhavan in Mumbai.

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Bird flu in Manipur
Bijay Sankar Bohra
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 25
Manipur state hill department director Dorendra Singh tonight officially confirmed the incidence of bird flu in the state on the basis of laboratory test report from the central government laboratory in Bhopal

The health department in Manipur has decided to keep ready a 10-bed isolation ward at J.N. Hospital in Imphal to treat Avian Influenza (bird flu) afflicted patients.

A report from New Delhi said The government has notified the outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Chingmeirong village in east Imphal district of Manipur.

Sources in the health ministry said here today that the bird flu outbreak would have an adverse impact on the exports of poultry products as was experienced during the outbreak in Navapur in Maharashtra last year. They said 12 countries had banned the export of poultry products from India last year. Even after India declared its bird flu disease free status, four countries, including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the USA continued the ban.

The sources in the health ministry told The Tribune here today that seven out of the eight samples sent to the Bhopal-based High Security Animal Based Laboratory and Pune-based National Institute of Virology had tested positive for H5, and the N1 typing was being done.

Vineet Chawdhry, joint secretary in the health ministry, said although the sample test results confirmed a highly pathogenic bird flu that could affect human-beings, it is low-scale. “It is a cause for alarm, but it is localised and at low scale. After 132 birds died suddenly of bird-flu like symptoms between July 7 and 13 in a backyard poultry farm, the remaining 12 were ordered to be killed as a matter of precaution.”

He said the health ministry provided prophylactic cover to those exposed to infected poultry, including family members and veterinary workforce. Initial supplies of personal protective equipment had been sent to Manipur. Secretary, animal husbandry, Charushila Sohoni, and health ministry officers told mediapersons here this evening that they learnt of unusual death of poultry birds at a small unit in Chingmeirong village on July 13 and sent a team to Manipur the very next day.

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Elephants kill 8 in Assam
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 25
Eight villagers including five women were trampled to death by a herd of four wild elephants at Howaithang area near Assam-Mizoram border in Cachar district of south Assam at around 2 a.m. today.

According to information received from Cachar district SP Satyen Gogoi, the wild elephants ran amuck in villages in Howaithang area creating panic among villagers in the dead of the night.

Those killed were identified as Akalpatan Das (30), Sikha Das (20), Minu Das (30), Phulkumari Das (55), Jyotirmoy Barman (50), Renubala Das (30), Mainarani Das (55), Abdul Rashid Mazumdar (55).

Bodies were sent for post-mortem to Silchar Medical College Hospital. The state government has announced compensation of Rs 50,000 to next of the kin of each of those killed by wild pachyderms.

The killings sparked angry reaction from villagers who ransacked the forest beat office at Howaithang area. A joint team of the police and forest department personnel later shot dead two of the elephants and captured two others.

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HC nod to HVC merger with Cong
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 25
The Delhi High Court has put its seal on the order of the Election Commission approving the merger of former union communication minister Sukh Ram’s party Himachal Vikas Congress (HVC) with the Congress before the last Lok Sabha elections.

A two-judge Bench of Chief Justice M. K Sharma and Sanjiv Khanna dismissed an appeal of HVC’s former spokesman Des Raj claiming that the party was still in existence in Himachal Pradesh and he was its elected president after Sukh Ram had joined the Congress with some of his supporters.

Sukh Ram had merged the HVC with the Congress on April 12, 2004, shaking hands with Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, his arch rival, after losing badly in the 2003 Vidhan Sabha poll.

Soon after the merger, Des Raj on April 17, 2004 declared himself as working president of the regional outfit and claimed that he was elected its president on June 20. But the EC was not convinced with his claim and had rejected his plea for recognising the HVC under his leadership.

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Ambani seeks time to save mansion
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 25
With the Maharashtra Waqf Board virtually threatening to take over a multi-storey bungalow being built by Mukesh Ambani, the industrialist has sought time to stall the move.

Antilia Commercial Pvt Ltd, which is building the bungalow in Tony Altamount Road, has written to the Waqf Board saying the company’s version be also heard before it takes over the property.

Ambani is building a 27-storey bungalow on land purchased from the Waqf Board. However, the Maharashtra government has ruled the transfer illegal.

The Board has now sought to take back the 4,532 sq mt property.

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Bedi fumes over Dadwal’s appointment

New Delhi, July 25
Furious at being overlooked for the post of Delhi Police Commissioner, Kiran Bedi, the country’s first woman IPS officer, today said she would fight the “injustice” of the appointment of Y.S. Dadwal who is two years junior to her.

“All options are open,” she shot back when asked whether she was contemplating taking recourse to legal means.

“I am a person who has always stood up against injustice and I will continue to do so,” Bedi said. — PTI

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Haryana seeks reservoirs
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 25
Haryana irrigation and revenue minister Capt Ajay Singh Yadav met union water resources minister Saif-ud-din Soz here today to apprise him of the need to create storage reservoirs in the Yamuna valley to store surplus water in the monsoon period for meeting demand of drinking water, irrigation and power in the basin states.

He said at present a lot of water goes waste during the monsoon in Yamuna and steps were needed to create storage facilities. Capt Yadav said the work on Lakhwar Dam project on the Yamuna in Uttrakhand was stopped in 1992 and arbitration proceedings were going on since then.

The work on Kishau Dam had also not been started so far and clearances from the Central Electricity Authority, Central Water Commission, ministry of environment and forests and ministry of tribal affairs were yet to be obtained, he said.

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