SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI


THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Water Sharing
Punjab contests Reorganisation Act provisions in SC
New Delhi, August 19
In a continued fight on the water front, the Punjab government has moved the Supreme Court challenging the validity of two vital provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, which paved the way for the creation of Haryana and transfer of four hill districts of united Punjab to Himachal Pradesh.

Nuclear Deal
Govt may draw plan to avert poll
New Delhi, August 19
The Manmohan Singh government, going through its worst political crisis in 39 months over the Indo-US nuclear deal, may well try out a 123 strategy to prevent snap poll.

N-deal: TDP for nationwide debate
Hyderabad, August 19
The Telugu Desam Party, a key player in the fledgling Third Front, today came out strongly against the Indo-US nuclear deal, saying it would prove dangerous for the country.


EARLIER STORIES

Jaya demands PM’s resignation
Chennai, August 19
AIADMK general secretary Jayaram Jayalalithaa today demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and accused him of actively working against the country's sovereignty and misleading Parliament about the Indo-US nuclear deal.

Karunanidhi allays fears of cable TV operators
Chennai, August 19
To assuage the fears of cable television operators in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has said the proposed first state government- owned cable company in the country would function only as a multi-system operator (MSO) and would not pose a competition to the existing individual cable operators.

Around the world in 80 days
IAF pilots Wing Commanders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar pose beside their microlight at IAF Complex, Ahmedabad Airport, on Sunday.
IAF pilots set world record in microlight
New Delhi, August 19
Indian Air Force pilots created a new world record after a microlight flown by them was “flagged in” today at the Air Force Station, Hindon, completing an around-the-world trip in record 80 days.

IAF pilots Wing Commanders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar pose beside their microlight at IAF Complex, Ahmedabad Airport, on Sunday. — AFP photo

E-waste looming health hazard
New Delhi, August 19
Innocuous toys can contain toxic substances and so can hi-tech electronic goods used in the everyday life. Environmentalists say day-to-day electronic items can be highly toxic as they contain synthetic chemicals such as heavy metals, DDT, HCH, PCBs and dioxins.

Muslims face burial space shortage
Dehra Dun, August 19
After Christians, the Muslim community is facing a shortage of space in the city to bury their dead. The religious leadership of both communities has started educating people to make optimum use of the available space at their graveyards.

Flood situation grim as Bihar toll mounts to 325
Patna, August 19
The overall flood situation in Bihar continued to remain grim with major rivers maintaining a rising trend and flowing above the danger mark by taking the death toll to 325.

Purulia Case
Documents on probe can’t be given: CIC
New Delhi, August 19
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has dismissed an application seeking copies of ministerial documents that were placed before a special select committee of Parliament probing the 1995 Purulia arms drop.

Cong not wary of elections: Digvijay
Patna, August 19
In the midst of the threat posed by the Left over the nuclear deal, AICC general secretary and former MP Chief Minister Digvijay Singh today categorically stated that his party was not wary of elections.

V.P. Singh supports Left on nuclear issue
New Delhi, August 19
Supporting the Left parties on their opposition to the nuclear deal, former Prime Minister V P Singh today said the country has to find a new Prime Minister if the government refuses to renegotiate the agreement. Singh said the Left parties have “valid” reasons for opposing the deal and everyone should see to it that the agreement does not go through.

AP rehab package for sex workers
Hyderabad, August 19
In a bid to check rampant flesh trade, Andhra Pradesh Government has come up with a unique rehabilitation offer to women who want to leave the profession.

Undeterred Taslima writing sequel to ‘Lajja’
Kolkata, August 19
Undeterred by the attack on her by radical Muslim fundamentalists in Hyderabad and a fatwa against her, exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen is busy penning the sequel of ‘Lajja’, 14 years after the book annoyed clerics in her country.

BSP looks to replicate UP success in Rajasthan
Jaipur, August 19
Fifteen months ahead of the assembly poll, the Bahujan Samaj Party today signalled it was seeking to replicate in Rajasthan the social engineering formula success in Uttar Pradesh by setting up a committee to unite the Brahmins and the Dalits and said it would go it alone on all 200 seats.

HAL likely to build unmanned Israeli copters
Mumbai, August 19
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is emerging as a major licensee of the Israel weapon systems. Should a joint Indo-Israeli proposal to build unmanned combat helicopters come through, HAL is likely to be chosen to build it, sources here say.

4 hurt as ceiling of club house collapses
Mumbai, August 19
Four persons were injured when the ceiling of a popular club house collapsed in South Mumbai this afternoon, fire brigade sources said.

Two cops hurt in Singur clash
Singur (WB), August 19
Two policemen were injured when the police tried to prevent members of a group opposing the setting up of a Tata Motors car factory here from scaling the plant's wall today.

MLA ragged in college
Jamshedpur, August 19
Sukhram Oraon is a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) legislator from West Singhbhum district but even this could not help him evade ragging on his first day in college.

Tamil Nadu to draw tourists from North
New Delhi, August 19
In a move to attract more tourists from North India, Tamil Nadu tourism has come out with an "rail cum road tour" of South.


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Water Sharing
Punjab contests Reorganisation Act provisions in SC
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 19
In a continued fight on the water front, the Punjab government has moved the Supreme Court challenging the validity of two vital provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, which paved the way for the creation of Haryana and transfer of four hill districts of united Punjab to Himachal Pradesh.

In a suit, Punjab has sought to strike down Sections 78 and 79 of the Act, dealing exclusively with the sharing of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej waters with Haryana and Rajasthan, claiming that these provisions are not only unconstitutional but contrary to the previous accords on water sharing, right from the Independence of India Act, 1947 by way of which India’s right on these three rivers have been recognised.

In the suit filed under Article 131, giving the apex court the power to adjudicate upon any inter-state dispute, the state government has named the centre, Haryana, Rajasthan, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh as respondents.

The state government has sought to restore its right on the waters of these rivers as riparian state to the level of pre-Reorganisation Act stage and restrain officials of the centre and other respondent states from acting in accordance with the mandate of the two Sections and any other follow-up agreements.

The provision of Section 79, considered vital on distribution of water, gives total control over Bhakra waters to the centre through the Bhakra Beas Management Board, a central agency created exclusively for this purpose.

The suit has been moved by Punjab’s special standing counsel Rupinder Singh Suri, handling all water dispute cases for the state.

Punjab has challenged the Centre’s control over it, saying it has curtailed its right over the water of its rivers as riparian state and as existed prior to the Reorganisation Act, 1966 as well as power generated from Bhakra, which was built by an agreement among Punjab, Rajasthan and centre in 1959.

Section 78 provides that all rights and liabilities relating to Bhakra and Beas waters and powers will pass on to the successor states as may be fixed by the centre according to subsequent agreements among them, and if no agreement is entered within two years, the centre may fix it.

Punjab claims that its right on the Ravi and Beas waters, established at 7.2 MAF under the 1955 agreement among centre, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Pepsu, which merged in Punjab, and the 1959 agreement on Bhakra waters, has been reduced under the subsequent accords by way of which Haryana has been given more than its share.

Though Haryana is not a riparian state, it has been given 3.5 MAF share under the 1976 agreement, a follow-up of the Reorganisation Act out of 7.2 MAF of Ravi and Beas waters and Punjab’s share has been reduced to 4.22 MAF, the suit says.

The Rajiv-Longowal accord of July 1, 1985 provides that the water level flowing to Haryana and Rajasthan as on the day of the signing of the agreement will be maintained and any further settlement will be left to a tribunal.

The tribunal’s report of January 1987 is not acceptable to any of the three states - Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan - and a review petition by them is still pending before it.

Punjab has also referred to subsequent events like Supreme Court verdict on SYL canal, Punjab Termination of Agreement (PTA) Act of July, 2004, presidential reference of the validity of the PTA, awaiting adjudication by the apex court and reduction of water level in the Punjab rivers from 17.17 MAF level to 15.85 MAF in past two decades.

Punjab has also questioned the competence of Parliament in making the provisions of Section 78 and 79 in the Reorganisation Act, claiming that the legislature is restricted to do so under the List-I and Entry 56 of the Constitution, which does not allow negation of or dilution of any of the previous agreements.

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Nuclear Deal
Govt may draw plan to avert poll
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 19
The Manmohan Singh government, going through its worst political crisis in 39 months over the Indo-US nuclear deal, may well try out a 123 strategy to prevent snap poll.

Strategy number one is to make peace with the comrades, who have made it clear that their “nyet” to the 123 Agreement is final and irrevocable. As part of this strategy, the government will be game for setting up a joint mechanism with Left parties to address their concerns and accommodate them. The idea behind this is that the government cannot afford to lose face when it comes to international agreements.

Points two and three of the 123 strategy relate to the ongoing official discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The Left wants that the government should press the pause button on these discussions.

The government may offer a compromise formula that it will not sign any agreement with the IAEA or the NSG till a joint mechanism to study the Hyde Act comes up with its recommendations, but until then the Left should not object to continuation of discussions with the IAEA and the NSG.

Atomic Energy Commission chairman is scheduled to go to Vienna next month to have negotiations with the IAEA on an India-specific safeguards agreement. The IAEA Board of Governors has fixed November 22 this year for ratification of this agreement, implying that the ongoing India-IAEA discussions have thrown up optimism that the agreement will be ready by then.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee and Congress leader Ahmed Patel held another round of meetings with the Left today and indications were that light was visible at the far end of the tunnel.

The Left parties, which had criticised the NDA government for conducting nuclear weapon tests in May, 1998, now don’t want any restrictions on nuclear tests.

As regards the NSG, the Left wants India to negotiate and address its concerns with the 45-nation body. The Left says the NSG must make it clear that in the event of Washington terminating the Indo-US nuclear deal, India will be allowed to buy fuel from other nuclear nations, and will not have to return its nuclear fuel reserves.

Besides, the Left wants a clarification from Washington that the US law is not binding on New Delhi in the event of the termination of the agreement. All these issues can be tackled by the Joint Mechanism that the government may agree to set up to placate the Left.

Meanwhile, the BJP went ballistic today on the nuclear deal, sensing a political kill. The party leader and former external affairs minister Yashwant Sinha said: "If Left withdraws support it is the duty of the government to submit its resignation."

Sinha said the BJP had been opposing the deal from the day one. “Now the government has to decide on the renegotiations… The deal will have adverse effect on India's weapons programme and things are going to be difficult after this deal (comes into force)… We were in favour of a strategic partnership with the US but a strategic partnership does not mean a strategic subservience. The Hyde Act has imposed a series of humiliating conditions on India. I don't think in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, we are going to get a better deal. We have already heard the Australian Prime Minister saying that he would like to go a step farther and want India to give legally binding assurance that we will not test."

BJP spokesman Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, “The government is crippled and the BJP is ready for a no-confidence motion. The Left has expressed it clearly that mid-term poll may be up within the next 4 months. And you cannot rule out the possibility.”

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N-deal: TDP for nationwide debate
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 19
The Telugu Desam Party, a key player in the fledgling Third Front, today came out strongly against the Indo-US nuclear deal, saying it would prove dangerous for the country.

"We are opposing the agreement. Since Parliament is a supreme body, the matter should be discussed there," TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu said.

Naidu, whose party has been warming up to Left parties ever since it lost power in the last elections, chaired an emergency politburo meeting to discuss political implications of the furore over the nuclear deal.

Pointing out that no political party, except Congress, was in favour of the agreement, Naidu alleged that America was trying to push through a "secret agenda" through the nuclear deal.

He fully backed the Left's stand on the issue and said there should be a nationwide debate on the ramifications of the strategic agreement with the US.

Naidu, who had played a key role in bringing together like-minded regional parties to form the United National Progressive Alliance (UNPA), is in touch with the CPM general secretary Prakash Karat and is believed to have conveyed his party's unequivocal support to the Left which has been insisting that the deal should not be operationalised.

Asked whether his party was prepared to face mid-term elections, Naidu, whose party is pinning its hopes on the anti-incumbency factor, said "We are always ready for elections. The Congress will be solely responsible if the country goes to snap polls."

Senior TDP leaders C. Ramachandraiah and M.V. Mysoora Reddy said the Centre should put on hold the implementation of the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement till the concerns raised by the Opposition parties were properly addressed.

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Jaya demands PM’s resignation
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 19
AIADMK general secretary Jayaram Jayalalithaa today demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and accused him of actively working against the country's sovereignty and misleading Parliament about the Indo-US nuclear deal.

She alleged, “Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has been dangerously subverting India's sovereignty in a sinister way. India had seen many weak Prime Ministers in the past, but none who is himself actively working against India's sovereignty and dares to lie about an agreement with another nation in Parliament itself.”

She accused Manmohan Singh of being in nexus with “the Americans ever since he assumed office three years ago and in every foreign deal that he had signed and every leader he had met.”

Jayalalitrhaa demanded, “Resign from office forthwith. Every additional day you are in power is a test for India's independence and sovereignty. You can emigrate to the US where your daughter and son-in-law have citizenship rights.

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Around the world in 80 days
IAF pilots set world record in microlight
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 19
Indian Air Force pilots created a new world record after a microlight flown by them was “flagged in” today at the Air Force Station, Hindon, completing an around-the-world trip in record 80 days.

The microlight flown by helicopter pilots Wg Cdr Rahul Monga and Wg Cdr Anil Kumar arrived at Hindon this afternoon, setting the new world record for fastest round-the-world trip.

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major flagged in the expedition.

The expedition was flagged off by the Air Chief from the station on June 1 as part of IAF platinum jubilee celebrations with an aim to circumnavigate the earth and the minimum distance of 36,889 km in the shortest period of time.

In his address at the time of flag-off ceremony, the Air Chief’s instructions were: “Beat the earlier record and around the world in 80 days.” The previous record was 99 days.

The expedition covered 40,497 km in 80 days, flying over 19 countries.

The two pilots managed to achieve a speed of 21.092 km per hour, far better than the existing record of 16.53 km set by Colin Bodil of the UK in 2001.

After the ceremony, the chief called the two pilots the “new stars of the IAF” and said it was a matter of pride for the IAF and a matter of satisfaction and achievement for the team.

The crew, comprising two pilots, carried out necessary maintenance and servicing on the microlight themselves during the expedition.

They faced several challenges while flying over different terrain, ranging from plains, dense forests, deserts and seas, besides the harsh Siberia, the lofty Rockies, Alps and frozen waters of the North Atlantic.

The pilots said it was a dangerous mission, considering that they were flying an aircraft powered by a small engine but there was no time to contemplate on anything but concentrate on flying.

“Each country had different sets of rules and regulations,” they said.

They also had their share of bad weather and at times had to fly longer sorties to avoid such conditions.

In Russia, Wg Cdr Monga flew along with a Russian navigator to meet the regulations of that country.

The crew crossed the international dateline over Bering Strait on July 6.

The expedition got stuck at Anchorage in Alaska for six days. Weather notwithstanding, they entered Canada and then Iceland, making quick alterations to the original planned routes.

From Iceland, they reached Germany through the UK.

The weather kept them on ground for four days in Germany after which they crossed the icy Alps and entered Italy.

But for the two pilots, there never was a dull movement.

The brief stopover for refuelling at Karachi in Pakistan was a unique experience, prior to their arrival at Ahmedabad.

The last leg from Ahmedabad to Hindon was to complete the expedition, as it was mandatory to terminate it at the same point from where the aircraft was flagged off in order to qualify for the record.

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E-waste looming health hazard
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 19
Innocuous toys can contain toxic substances and so can hi-tech electronic goods used in the everyday life. Environmentalists say day-to-day electronic items can be highly toxic as they contain synthetic chemicals such as heavy metals, DDT, HCH, PCBs and dioxins.

In fact, e-waste is the new looming crisis and is the fastest growing solid waste stream with people changing computers, TVs and mobile phones more frequently than ever before.

Environmental body Greenpeace says these chemicals have already invaded bodies of all of us alive today. And even newborn babies come into this world with a burden of toxic human-made chemicals, which have health effects ranging from reproductive and endocrine disorders to cancer.

“Electronics are meant to make our lives happier and simpler, but when they include toxic components, their disposal or recycling becomes a health nightmare. Electronic gadgets have infiltrated every aspect of our lives and most of us do not think about what happens to the e-waste we generate when we upgrade to the next generation of gizmos,” says Greenpeace activist Ramapati Kumar.

The world generates between 20 to 59 million tonnes of e-waste annually. For India, the figure officially is 146,000 tonnes per year. This figure does not include computers illegally imported for recycling because as per Kumar India receives almost as much illegal e-waste from developed countries as it generates within the country.

Now what is so dangerous about electronics? Electronic products are a mixture of several hundred tiny components, many of which contain heavy metals and hazardous chemicals. These chemicals put human health and environment at risk, especially during production and recycling/disposal.

Most electronic components contain chemicals such as BFRs (Brominated Flame Retardants), lead, cadmium, mercury, chromium, beryllium, PVC and phthalates. Long-term exposure to these chemicals damages the nervous system, kidneys, bones, reproductive and endocrine system, and some can be carcinogenic. Indiscriminately dumped components can pollute the ground water.

A study conducted by Greenpeace in 2005 in electronics recycling yards in India revealed high level of dangerous chemicals in workplace. In many such yards, people are exposed to these toxics 24 hours a day as they live, cook, eat and sleep in the same place where e-waste is being recycled.

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Karunanidhi allays fears of cable TV operators
Tribune News Service

Chennai, August 19
To assuage the fears of cable television operators in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has said the proposed first state government- owned cable company in the country would function only as a multi-system operator (MSO) and would not pose a competition to the existing individual cable operators.

Fearing that a state government- owned cable company would put them out of business, the state cable operators association in a meeting apprehended that because of the feud between the Chief Minister and his grand nephews, Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran, who own Sun TV and provide signals to operators, their businesses would be affected.

Karunanidhi clarified that the government had no plans to take over the cable television services in the state but just function as a signal provider just like other private MSOs.

The former Jayalalithaa regime through an ordinance had taken over the cable television services in the state which Karunanidhi pointed out had no locus standi as the law in this regard was governed by the Central Government and those who were making such charges did not understand the nuances of the business.

He explained that the government cable company, the first of its kind in the country, would buy television packages from broadcasters like other MSOs and distribute the signals to private cable operators.

An official of the Cable TV Operators Association said, “During the AIADMK regime, the DMK opposed the Cable TV Act. But now after the fight within Karunanidhi’s family, the government wants to take control of the cable network. We cannot allow this.”

He said that politicians were controlling cable networks in Tamil Nadu and added, “Do not make us the scapegoat in your fights.”

He pointed out that crores of rupees and employment of lakhs of people were at stake and said, “We should either be part of the network or the government should allow us to run it.”

Dismissing such apprehensions, Karunanidhi said, “If the local operators so desire, they can tie up with the government and continue their business.”

He said that the government’s cable television business would also augment the revenue like the state government owned liquor shops and reduce the tax burden on the people.

There are no private liquor shops in Tamil Nadu and all are run by state- owned TASMAC.

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Muslims face burial space shortage
Raju William
Tribune News Service

Dehra Dun, August 19
After Christians, the Muslim community is facing a shortage of space in the city to bury their dead. The religious leadership of both communities has started educating people to make optimum use of the available space at their graveyards.

Even as three main Christian churches -- Reformed Presbyterian, Methodist and CNI -- recently started working on the problem, the Muslim clergy realised this after the death of a community member last week.

His family found it very difficult to find a suitable place to bury him in the local Muslim graveyard. Graveyards of both communities have multi-tier graves by now, leaving hardly any space to accommodate the dead anymore.

This prompted the Muslim clergy to form a form a committee to tackle the issue and suggested a moratorium of 10 years on the use of Chandernagar graveyard, the biggest century-old Muslim graveyard in the city.

"We have decided not to use the Chandernagar graveyard for next 10 years," informed senior clergy leader Qari Abdul Samad. Muslims have been advised not to use the graveyard and instead take their dead to another graveyard in the Dharampur area. Such appeals were made from all mosques in the city at Friday congregations.

The construction of concrete graves has also added to the problem but a majority of the graves are kutcha. But the situation in the Christian graveyard is more alarming due to concrete graves. The churches are educating their members to avoid the practice of raising concrete structures to leave room for others to rest in peace.

Relatives of kin of the dead construct concrete graves to perpetuate the memories of their beloved ones. "Since the issue is sensitive, so besides educating our members, the Local Cemetery Committee (CCC), has resolved to substantially enhance charges for allowing construction on the graves," said Rev. JV Green of Central Methodist Church.

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Flood situation grim as Bihar toll mounts to 325
Tribune News Service

Patna, August 19
The overall flood situation in Bihar continued to remain grim with major rivers maintaining a rising trend and flowing above the danger mark by taking the death toll to 325.

The situation worsened following heavy rains in the catchment areas of several rivers, including the Ganga, the Burhi Gandak, the Bagmati, the Kosi, the Adhwara and the Gandak.

The state administration was not hopeful for any improvement in the next 48 hours with the water level in all these rivers was rising. The Met office, too, has predicted heavy rains in the catchment of these rivers and the upper catchment areas of the Sone.

The Ganga was also flowing above the danger level at Kahalgaon and Sahebganj, is likely to rise further.

After making an on-the-spot assesment of the damages caused by flood, Union steel and fertiliser minister and Ramvilas Paswan suggested that the Centre and Bihar should engage Nepal in talks for finding a permanent solution to the recurring floods in the state.

Paswan regretted that even though the issue of holding talks with Nepal for construction of high dams on the rivers for finding a permanent solution to recurrent flood cropped up every time the state faced the calamity. Once it went away, people forgot the issue.

Paswan proposed the Centre and state government to try to accelerate talks with Nepal to find a permanent solution to the flood. "A high-level committee should be set up at the national level for facilitating the talks and monitoring the outcome", he said.

He advised the Nitish government to send a detailed report pertaining to the damage caused by the flood to the Centre to ensure all-possible assistance.

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Purulia Case
Documents on probe can’t be given: CIC

New Delhi, August 19
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has dismissed an application seeking copies of ministerial documents that were placed before a special select committee of Parliament probing the 1995 Purulia arms drop.

Jammu resident B.R. Manhas had submitted an application under the Right to Information to the Lok Sabha Secretariat, seeking copies of the "written stand" of ministries of home, defence and civil aviation as submitted before the committee.

Claiming to be a relative of Acharya Tadabhavananda Avtar - an accused in the arms drop case - Manhas also sought a copy of the committee's report that was submitted to Parliament in 1997.

While the committee's report was provided to Manhas, copies of the submissions made by the ministries and documentary proof in that regard were denied on grounds of being "confidential and sensitive in nature".

Conforming to the view of the Lok Sabha Secretariat, chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, in a recent order, dismissed Manhas' appeal to get copies of the submissions.

Manhas had contended that as members of Parliament had access to documents laid before the special select committee, there was no reason that he could be denied the same.

The Lok Sabha Secretariat's director, however, contested Manhas' contention, saying that "a member of Parliament is a public servant and is under an oath to keep secrecy of documents that come before him during the performance of his official duties". — PTI

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Cong not wary of elections: Digvijay
Tribune News Service

Patna, August 19
In the midst of the threat posed by the Left over the nuclear deal, AICC general secretary and former MP Chief Minister Digvijay Singh today categorically stated that his party was not wary of elections.

Talking to reporters here Digvijay, after discussing the problems of flood victims and the distribution of relief materials with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, said, “The Congress is not afraid of elections. If a party is wary of elections it will have to close its shop”.

On the contrary, he asked the Left to clarify which of the provisions of the Indo-US nuclear deal threatened the country‘s sovereignty and was not in its interest. “We should not criticise the pact just because we do not like the US,” he said by indirectly making a dig at the Left.

Asked if he was hinting at early elections, Digvijay said: “I am not giving an indication but making a statement that no one is afraid of elections.”

He also criticised the BJP for opposing the deal and charged it with maintaining double standards. “Jaswant Singh, during his stint as external affairs minister in the previous NDA regime, tried for six years to clinch a nuclear deal with the US, but failed. When the UPA government signed the deal, the BJP is opposing it,” he said.

Meanwhile, as a boost to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, steel and fertiliser minister Ram Vilas Paswan claimed that the UPA government would complete its full term and the reservation expressed by the Left over the deal would not affect the stability of the government.

Talking to mediapersons here, Paswan said issues raised by the Left were expected to be sorted through dialogue and all misgivings about the deal would be removed.

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V.P. Singh supports Left on nuclear issue

New Delhi, August 19
Supporting the Left parties on their opposition to the nuclear deal, former Prime Minister V P Singh today said the country has to find a new Prime Minister if the government refuses to renegotiate the agreement. Singh said the Left parties have “valid” reasons for opposing the deal and everyone should see to it that the agreement does not go through.

“If the Prime Minister cannot renegotiate the deal, terminate it. If he cannot do that, we have to find a new prime minister then,” he told reporters here.

Continuing his attack on the government for entering an agreement by “not addressing” the nation’s concerns, Singh said the Prime Minister should muster the courage to tell the US that India cannot go ahead with the deal.

“Whom does the Prime Minister represent? Does he represent the sentiments of the people of the country or someone else’s?” he said.

“The Left is absolutely right in opposing the nuclear deal. The government has to heed the valid reasons forwarded by them,” he added.

Asked whether the Left would be justified in withdrawing support to the UPA, the former PM said that “the issue is whether to save the government or save the nation.” — PTI

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ULFA rejects appeal for talks
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, August 19
In response to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s renewed appeal to ULFA for direct talks with the Government of India, the insurgent group has ruled out talks unless its demand for “restoration of sovereignty of Assam” does not form the core of the agenda.

In the editorial of the latest issue of the outfit’s mouthpiece “Freedom”, that have been e-mailed to the media here, the group made it clear that direct talks with the government would not be possible unless there was scope for discussion on the issue.

ULFA said appeal for direct talks came from the government which desisted from making any reference to the core demand for “sovereignty for Assam and its people”.

The outfit further stated that Assam Chief Minister had failed to keep his government's commitment to release the five of its top central committee leaders, who were in jail.

The government last year made it clear that it would consider the release of the five senior ULFA leaders from jail provided the outfit sent a commitment in black and white to come over direct and unconditional talks with New Delhi. The issue of the missing ULFA leaders is now sub judice.

Meanwhile, the Assam police has sought cooperation from the Meghalaya police and the Border Security Force (BSF) to prevent the banned ULFA from sneaking in explosives, switches of programmable timer devices and weapons to the state along the border with Bangladesh.

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AP rehab package for sex workers
Ramesh Kandula
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, August 19
In a bid to check rampant flesh trade, Andhra Pradesh Government has come up with a unique rehabilitation offer to women who want to leave the profession.

The package includes Rs 10,000 rehabilitation amount and vocational training in areas of their choice.

"We want to motivate sex workers to give up their profession and join the social mainstream," N. Rajyalakshmi, minister for women and child welfare, said.

AP is one of the major hubs of flesh trade in the country, along with Goa and Maharashtra, with NGOs, working in the area of rehabilitation of sex workers, putting their number at nearly 3 lakh as against the official of 1.60 lakh.

The government has set up committees with representatives from women self-help groups, government and NGOs in as many as 2,506 villages. "We are sensitising the self-help groups so that they can bring sex workers to the social mainstream," Rajyalakshmi said adding that the one-time rehabilitation assistance could be increased in the future.

More than the financial help, the government was keen to provide vocational training to sex workers so that they could become economically independent, she said.

The services of adolescent girls in the age group of 16 to 18 years, who are the members of the "Balika Committees" in villages, would also be utilised in spreading awareness. There are 13,794 Balika Committees in the state.

The Women and Child Welfare Department has also issued instructions to its officials in the districts to make sex workers' rehabilitation programme a part of the orientation course for its staffers. Under the permanent rehabilitation programme, the government has decided to provide training in any vocation chosen by sex workers. Already, a state-level committee headed by chief secretary is reviewing quarterly the rehabilitation process and the sex workers' response to the package.

Surveys by independent organisations had revealed that 80 per cent of sex workers in Goa were from AP.

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Undeterred Taslima writing sequel to ‘Lajja’

Kolkata, August 19
Undeterred by the attack on her by radical Muslim fundamentalists in Hyderabad and a fatwa against her, exiled Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen is busy penning the sequel of ‘Lajja’, 14 years after the book annoyed clerics in her country.

“Sharam, the sequel of Lajja (Shame), has the principal characters of the first novel who came over to India from Bangladesh in 1993 and is set in the backdrop here,” Taslima said.

Lajja, which drew attention to the torture of Hindu minorities in Bangladesh, raised the hackles of Muslim clerics and was banned by the Bangladesh Government.

Terming her detractors as proponents of “irrational blind faith,” Taslima, who has been living in exile for 12 years, and whose Bangladeshi passport stands revoked, said “they are averse to a rationale logical mind.”

Taslima was attacked by activists of the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen in Hyderabad on August 9 at the release of the Telugu translation of her latest work ‘Shodh’.

She said though her forthright views were about the condition of women in Muslim society she had also come out strongly against other religious fundamentalists.

“I had criticised those who stopped the shooting of Deepa Mehta’s film ‘Water’ in Varanasi in 2001 in my writing in a leading Bengali daily,” Nasreen recalled. — PTI

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BSP looks to replicate UP success in Rajasthan

Jaipur, August 19
Fifteen months ahead of the assembly poll, the Bahujan Samaj Party today signalled it was seeking to replicate in Rajasthan the social engineering formula success in Uttar Pradesh by setting up a committee to unite the Brahmins and the Dalits and said it would go it alone on all 200 seats.

A Dalit-Brahmin Bhaichara Samiti (brotherhood committee) is being set up in all 200 assembly constituencies of Rajasthan to bring about “cordial relations between members of the two segments who have been deprived of their rights and freedom”, BSP general secretary and Uttar Pradesh cabinet minister Satish Mishra told mediapersons here.

Neither has the condition of the Dalits improved nor have the Brahmins been given due regard in society and as a result the divide between the two segments has persisted, Mishra said, adding that the samiti would bridge this gap.

The assembly poll in Rajasthan is due in December, 2008. — PTI

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HAL likely to build unmanned Israeli copters
Shiv Kumar

Tribune News Service

Mumbai, August 19
Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) is emerging as a major licensee of the Israel weapon systems. Should a joint Indo-Israeli proposal to build unmanned combat helicopters come through, HAL is likely to be chosen to build it, sources here say.

The project to build such helicopters has been mooted by Israel's outgoing Navy commander, Maj- Gen Dan Bashat, during his talks with Indian naval chief, according to reports in the defence website, DEBKA file. The Indian Navy is said to be demanding around 40-50 such helicopters.

The unmanned helicopters would have to be equipped with electronic instruments to detect the presence of hostile anti-ship missiles and the weapons to destroy them. In other words, sophisticated avionics and radar systems apart from weapons delivery suites would also have to be incorporated into such helicopters. HAL is already developing the Dhruv attack helicopters with Israeli assistance. Also in the pipeline is a Multi-Mode Radar.

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4 hurt as ceiling of club house collapses

Mumbai, August 19
Four persons were injured when the ceiling of a popular club house collapsed in South Mumbai this afternoon, fire brigade sources said.

It is the third incident of building crash in the metropolis in the last one month.

The ceiling of the party hall on second floor of the Radio Club building on Arthur Bunder Road came down at around 3 pm, they said.

The injured were admitted to the government-run St George Hospital.

There is no immediate report about any other damage in the incident, the sources said.

On August 17, two women and three children died when a major portion of five-storeyed `Giridhar Bhavan’ on Lamington Road in South Mumbai collapsed.

The building, which was in a dilapidated condition, had been declared unsafe to live in by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. — PTI

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Two cops hurt in Singur clash

Singur (WB), August 19
Two policemen were injured when the police tried to prevent members of a group opposing the setting up of a Tata Motors car factory here from scaling the plant's wall today.

Hooghly's superintendent of police Rajesh Mishra said DSP Pradeep Biswas and another policeman were injured when the members of the Krishi Jami Raksha Committee threw brickbats at them.

KJRC convener Bacharam Manna claimed that three of its members were injured in a baton-charge by the police.

Mishra said the KJRC members tried to scale the wall at Bagemelia, Gopalnagar and Bosepukur during heavy rains but the policemen prevented them from doing so. — PTI

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MLA ragged in college

Jamshedpur, August 19
Sukhram Oraon is a Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) legislator from West Singhbhum district but even this could not help him evade ragging on his first day in college.

“You may call it ragging or whatever it may be but my first day in college is a really pleasant memory,” Oraon, who enrolled in St. Augustine College at Manoharpur after passing the matriculation examination this year, said.

The MLA from Chakradharpur said that a function was organised by the seniors to welcome freshers on August 16 and he, being a member of the assembly, was made the chief guest.

Oraon said he was in the college as a student and not as a politician. — PTI

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Tamil Nadu to draw tourists from North

New Delhi, August 19
In a move to attract more tourists from North India, Tamil Nadu tourism has come out with an "rail cum road tour" of South.

The state Tourism Department said it has come out with a new 14 days South India tour, which would take the visitor to prominent places like Kancheepuram, Tirupathy, Bangalore, Mysore, Ooty, Coimbatore, Cochin, Trivandrum, Kannyakumari, Madurai, Thanjavur, Mamallapuram and Chennai. — TNS

 

 

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