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N A T I O N

No one wants to own up Raju now
Satyam scam: Political parties resort to blame game

Hyderabad, January 13
As the disgraced IT icon B Ramalinga Raju cools his heels in prison after confessing to a massive fraud, a bitter political blame-game has erupted in Andhra Pradesh with ruling Congress and the main opposition TDP blaming each other for promoting him.

Rajasthan wants to man Sirhind feeder
Jaipur, January 13
The water controversy between Punjab and Rajasthan is hotting up again. Just a few days after Punjab accused the state of not paying any money for the water supplied to it through various canals, the state government has now sought deployment of its own staff at some water headworks in Punjab for monitoring the flow.



EARLIER STORIES



Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and his Canadian counterpart Gerry Ritz shake hands after signing an MoU on cooperation in agriculture and allied sectors, at a meeting in New Delhi on Tuesday. Tribune photo: Ranjan Bhui

Army dismisses reports of Pak build-up
New Delhi, January 13
The Army today rubbished reports of Pakistan’s military build-up along the borders, saying presence of the neighbouring country’s troops seemed like routine exercise, while asserting that it was always ready to tackle any eventuality.

SC to decide whether govt is a service provider
New Delhi, January 13
The Supreme Court today said it would look into the contractual and statutory obligations of the Chandigarh Administration for providing civic amenities in the area auctioned by it.

Bomb Threat
TN airports on high alert
Chennai, January 13
Three major airports in Tamil Nadu have been put on high alert after an anonymous call was received threatening to blow up these places. Security measures at Chennai Airport have also been increased, while the police surveillance in the city has been increased in the light of the Pongal festivities.

26/11 witness goes missing
Mumbai, January 13
One of the witnesses in the Mumbai terror attacks case, who saw the terrorists land on the city's shores, has gone missing, the police said today.

Engineer’s Lynching
Shift case to Lucknow, family urges CM
Lucknow, January 13
Following a request by the slain PWD engineer MK Gupta’s wife, CM Mayawati has asked legal experts to consider the possibility of shifting the case from Aurraiya to Lucknow.

Uphaar Tragedy
Ansals file appeal against conviction
New Delhi, January 13
The Ansal brothers, Sushil and Gopal, today filed an appeal against their conviction in the Uphaar fire tragedy and sought an early hearing.

NIA Chief
JK vigilance head front-runner
New Delhi, January 13
Radha Vinod Raju, special director general of police in Jammu and Kashmir, is among the front-runners for the post of chief of the new National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Suspected B’deshi terrorist held
Malda (WB), January 13
A suspected terrorist from Bangladesh and an ex-Army jawan were picked up in a joint raid in Kawamari village conducted today by central and West Bengal intelligence sleuths, the police said.





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No one wants to own up Raju now
Satyam scam: Political parties resort to blame game
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, January 13
As the disgraced IT icon B Ramalinga Raju cools his heels in prison after confessing to a massive fraud, a bitter political blame-game has erupted in Andhra Pradesh with ruling Congress and the main opposition TDP blaming each other for promoting him.

The Satyam fiasco has provided ammunition for the opposition parties to target Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhar Reddy while the ruling party was quick to point out that it was the previous TDP government which went out of the way to project Raju as the face of IT industry.

The opposition parties, TDP, CPI, CPI (M), TRS and BJP, alleged that the government had shown “undue favours” to Maytas Infra, an infrastructure and construction company owned by Raju’s family members, and awarded a string of projects without following transparent procedures.

“We demand that the government publish a white paper on the projects handed over to Maytas and place all the relevant agreements before an all-party meeting to enable the opposition parties to examine them,” the TDP President N Chandrababu Naidu said.

However, Naidu is also under attack from the ruling party for his close links with Raju who was the only industrialist to share the dais with the then US President Bill Clinton during his visit to the city in March 2000.

The Congress leaders also alleged that Naidu had used his clout with NDA government to “cover-up” a probe by Income Tax officials into the allegations of irregularities in Satyam and the benami accounts of Raju in 2002. The TDP, however, challenged the government for an open debate on the allegations and counter-allegations.

“It is very clear that Congress bigwigs got huge kickbacks in the projects awarded to Maytas Infra. The fact that Raju had confessed to inflating Satyam’s account books to the tune of over Rs 7,000 crore shows that he enjoys patronage at the highest level in the government,” the TDP leader N Janardhan Reddy said.

The state BJP chief B Dattatreya demanded a CBI probe into the Satyam scandal and also the projects awarded to Raju’s family firms while the actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi demanded confiscation of properties of Raju’s family members. “The government should come clean on the matter by placing all documents pertaining to Maytas projects before the opposition leaders,” the state CPI Secretary K Narayana said.

The state CPI (M) secretary B V Raghavulu went a step further, alleging that the Satyam fraud had taken place with active connivance of the ruling party bosses.

The government had awarded several high-profile projects to Maytas Infra, covering infrastructure and irrigation sectors. They include the Rs 12,200 crore Hyderabad Metro Rail project, the Rs 1,500 crore deep water port at Machilipatnam and irrigation works worth Rs.1,600 crore.

“It must be remembered that all these are all joint venture agreements involving consortia in which Maytas is only a partner. Even if one partner fails, others will be jointly responsible. There is no problem in continuing the ongoing works but we will review the new projects,” the Chief Minister said.

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Rajasthan wants to man Sirhind feeder
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, January 13
The water controversy between Punjab and Rajasthan is hotting up again. Just a few days after Punjab accused the state of not paying any money for the water supplied to it through various canals, the state government has now sought deployment of its own staff at some water headworks in Punjab for monitoring the flow.

The state government accused Punjab and Haryana government of using 150-200 cusecs of water that "flows back" into their canals due to technical faults. The water is accounted for in the state’s share but is being used by the farmers of these two states.

The state wants Punjab government to help in plugging the 'flowing back' of water by allowing construction of two regulators, one in Punjab and another in Haryana.

Accusing Punjab of not giving the assured water supply through the Sirhind feeder canal and the Bhakhra main branch via Haryana and ignoring massive theft of water, the state government wants its own staff to keep an eye on the flow at zero head (Sirhind feeder canal tail) so that it gets the promised quantity.

Irrigation minister Mahipal Maderna took up the matter with Punjab government after Congress MLA Param Navdeep Singh from Sangria constituency in Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan, furnished the report of a survey done by her team at a meeting held here recently.

She said Punjab often stopped the flow in Sirhind feeder. "Water coming from Indira Gandhi feeder through the link canal flows back in Punjab in the absence of any regulating structure. Punjabi farmers pump out this water which on papers is accounted for in Rajasthan’s share but is being used by Punjab," she said.

Similar situation prevails in the link between the Bhakhra main branch in Haryana and the Maharaj Karni Singh branch in Rajasthan.

Navdeep said keys of the gates at the zero head have remained with Punjab ever since the canals were constructed. "We want Rajasthan state employees to have access to the keys so that they can ensure proper regulation of the water flow," she added.

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Army dismisses reports of Pak build-up
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 13
The Army today rubbished reports of Pakistan’s military build-up along the borders, saying presence of the neighbouring country’s troops seemed like routine exercise, while asserting that it was always ready to tackle any eventuality.

It also claimed that the infiltration from across the border with Pakistan had gone down every year since 2005.

“It only seems like routine movements and exercise-related relocation of troops by Pakistan and not a build-up, but we are always ready for any situation,” Army’s western commander Lt-Gen T K Sapru told reporters here after an investiture parade.

He said infiltration from across the border had gone down since 2005-06 when he was a corps commander in Jammu and Kashmir. Sapru had, before becoming an Army commander, headed the Nagrota-based 16 corps posted near Jammu.

Infiltration has in the last two or three years come down considerably. Perhaps, after 2005-06, it has come down from 400 to 20/30 in a year, he said.

Earlier, Sapru presented gallantry medals, decorations and service medals to about 50 Army officers at the investiture ceremony after reviewing the parade in which the Army exhibited its might with T-90 tanks, Brahmos cruise missiles, OSA-AK air defence guns and a march past by special forces and troops.

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SC to decide whether govt is a service provider
R. Sedhurman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 13
The Supreme Court today said it would look into the contractual and statutory obligations of the Chandigarh Administration for providing civic amenities in the area auctioned by it.

A bench, comprising Justices RV Raveendran and Markandey Katju, said it would also decide whether the government could come under the service-provider category so that it could be taken to consumer courts for any deficiency in service.

They made the clarifications during the hearing of a case where the Chandigarh administration had challenged the National Consumer Redressal Commission’s order asking the union territory authorities to waive the penal interest slapped on those who had bought plots in the 1996-99 auctions for delay in the payment of installments.

The administration has questioned the jurisdiction of the commission in entertaining the complaints of the plot holders who had refused to pay the installments due to the absence of civic amenities. The arguments by administration’s counsel Kamini Jaiswal and the plot owners’ advocate PS Patwalia remained inconclusive today and the bench asked them to come fully prepared on Wednesday to clarify their respective position on the question of obligations, under the statute as well as rules, besides under the auction.

There have been several apex court rulings in cases involving Lucknow Development Authority, Ghaziabad Development Authority and other such bodies to categorise them as service providers but no example could be cited by the advocates to show the government could also be put in the same bracket.

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Bomb Threat
TN airports on high alert
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, January 13
Three major airports in Tamil Nadu have been put on high alert after an anonymous call was received threatening to blow up these places. Security measures at Chennai Airport have also been increased, while the police surveillance in the city has been increased in the light of the Pongal festivities.

The call was made to the DIG's office, Coimbatore, and was purportedly from an anonymous person from London. Immediately, the Airports Authority of India was informed, who, in turn, alerted the airport police.

Following this, the bomb disposal squad conducted a thorough search operation in all the three airports-Tiruchi, Coimbatore and Madurai. Passengers were being frisked and their luggage was also being checked before they were allowed to board their flights. Sniffer dogs were also used for conducting searches.

DIG Sivanandi has claimed that it was a hoax call. An anonymous caller from London had called up the Muthialpet and Marina police stations last week and warned of a suicide bomb attack during the visit of the President and the Prime Minister to the city.

Meanwhile, security has been upgraded in and around the city with the deployment of over 5,000 policemen as part of the elaborate arrangements on the eve of Kannum Pongal being celebrated on Friday to mark the culmination of the three-day Pongal festivity in the state.

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Engineer’s Lynching
Shift case to Lucknow, family urges CM
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, January 13
Following a request by the slain PWD engineer MK Gupta’s wife, CM Mayawati has asked legal experts to consider the possibility of shifting the case from Aurraiya to Lucknow. After giving the family a patient hearing, the CM asked her senior officials to provide security to the family, ensure a government job for at least one member and immediately allot them government accommodation in the state capital. In a meeting with Mayawati at her office, the officer’s wife Shashi Gupta expressed her inability to follow up the case in Aurraiya.

In a letter to the CM, the family said it did not want to draw any political mileage out of the case. “Bringing the guilty to book is our only aim,” the letter added. Expressing her satisfaction over the manner in which the investigation into the case was progressing, Shashi, who was accompanied by her son, said she was not interested in pressing for a CBI probe into the matter.

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Uphaar Tragedy
Ansals file appeal against conviction
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, January 13
The Ansal brothers, Sushil and Gopal, today filed an appeal against their conviction in the Uphaar fire tragedy and sought an early hearing.

A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan posted the matter for hearing on January 23 after senior counsel Ram Jethmalani, appearing for them, said his clients had already served almost half of their sentence of one year and they were entitled to bail, pending disposal of their appeal.

In a bid to strengthen his case, Jethmalani said the government did not oppose bail to film star Sanjay Dutt who had been sentenced to five years in a TADA case.

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NIA Chief
JK vigilance head front-runner

New Delhi, January 13
Radha Vinod Raju, special director general of police in Jammu and Kashmir, is among the front-runners for the post of chief of the new National Investigation Agency (NIA).

A 1975-batch IPS officer, Raju (59), who heads the Vigilance Department in the militancy-hit state is believed to have been short-listed for the coveted post in view of his knowledge of investigating high-profile cases, including assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. — PTI

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Suspected B’deshi terrorist held

Malda (WB), January 13
A suspected terrorist from Bangladesh and an ex-Army jawan were picked up in a joint raid in Kawamari village conducted today by central and West Bengal intelligence sleuths, the police said.

Safiqul Alam (30), hailing from Bangladesh's Rajsahi district, was allegedly involved in smuggling RDX and bringing in terrorists from the neighbouring country, the police said. Alam had been living in a house owned by Akhtar Haji, an ex-Army jawan, for some time at the village under Harishchandrapur police station, close to Bihar. — PTI

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Proposed curbs on TV channels resented

New Delhi, January 13
Alarmed at the government’s move to put curbs on live reporting of emergency situations and other restrictions on TV coverage by amending the existing rules, editors of leading TV news channel have written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to not to go ahead with the proposed measures. The editors have also sought an urgent meeting with him to discuss the issue. — UNI

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HCC to build Guj township
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, January 13
Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) has signed an agreement with the Gujarat government to build a waterfront city at Dholera, 129 km from Ahmedabad.
HCC said the waterfront city project, which has been patterned on the lines of Lavasa in Pune, would be spread over 4,000 acres at the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) and would be built at a cost of Rs 40,000 crore.

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