SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Sibal talks consensus on education reforms
n Class X exams made optional in CBSE schools
n Grades to replace marking system in classes 
   IX and X
New Delhi, June 30
Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said today that consultations and consensus were significant to the process of implementation of proposed academic reforms in the country and would be accorded due priority.

Ghost of 26/11 over Bandra-Worli sea link
Mumbai, June 30
Security agencies have tightened security at the new Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) in view of the terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26

PC inaugurates NSG’s Mumbai hub
Mumbai, June 30
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today formally inaugurated the Mumbai hub of the National Security Guards (NSG) at Marol in the western suburbs of the city. The decision to set up hubs of the NSG in different parts of the country was taken following the terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26 last year.



EARLIER STORIES


Sarabjit Singh’s sister Dalbir Kaur and his daughters with a memorandum addressed to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari demanding his immediate release, in Jaipur on Monday.
Sarabjit Singh’s sister Dalbir Kaur and his daughters with a memorandum addressed to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari demanding his immediate release, in Jaipur on Monday. — PTI

13,000 crore interest on IT refund
Shimla, June 30
The Government of India paid Rs 13,159 crore as interest on income tax refund due to assesses over a period of three years.

Monsoon makes further advance
New Delhi, June 30
Monsoon today further advanced into remaining parts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, entire Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, some more parts of east Rajasthan and many parts of Punjab and Haryana.

HC judge says minister ‘influenced’ him to grant bail in forgery case
Chennai, June 30
In a startling revelation, a judge of the Madras High Court stated that a central minister had tried to “influence” him to grant anticipatory bail to a medical student and his father, accused by the CBI of forging an examination mark sheet.

India to ‘renegotiate’ emission reduction
New Delhi, June 30
India today made its stand on emission reduction targets absolutely clear, saying that it would not sign any treaty that legally binds it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Prez unveils statue of Maharana Pratap
Jaipur, June 30
President Pratibha Patil today unveiled the statue of Maharana Pratap at the newly constructed international airport terminal in Udaipur. Addressing a gathering on the occasion, President Patil said the country is proud of Maharana Pratap. “He is a source of inspiration for the young generation of the country and youth should follow his qualities of love for the motherland, unity, leadership and brotherhood,” she added.

Widow of WW II solider gets full pension after 64 yrs
Vijayawada, June 30
An 88-year-old widow of a World War II soldier felt that it was a memorable day in her life when she received the full settlement of family pension after 64 years on June 25.

AIADMK members evicted en masse
Chennai, June 30
Chaos prevailed in Tamil Nadu Assembly today as members of the principal opposition, the AIADMK, rushed to the well of the House and raised slogans demanding a resolution against the Sri Lankan government, leading to their en masse eviction.

Andhra okays cooperative farming
Hyderabad, June 30
Brushing aside the opposition objections, the Andhra Pradesh cabinet today unanimously approved a pilot project for cooperative farming in the state to make agriculture more remunerative and to generate rural wealth. The opposition parties, including the TDP, CPI, CPM and the Praja Rajyam, raised fears that it would lead to big industrialists taking over agriculture, depriving farmers of their source of livelihood.

LS Speaker to convene all-party meeting
New Delhi, June 30
A meeting of leaders of all political parties will be convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar tomorrow ahead of the commencement of the Budget session of Parliament.





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Sibal talks consensus on education reforms
n Class X exams made optional in CBSE schools
n Grades to replace marking system in classes IX and X
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said today that consultations and consensus were significant to the process of implementation of proposed academic reforms in the country and would be accorded due priority.

Last week, the minister had announced a slew of radical reforms in the education sector, including a centralised board and scrapping of Class X exams, which generated a lot of heated debate.

Clarifying that all reformatory measures would fructify only after stakeholders had been consulted, Sibal said Class X board exams would be made optional only in CBSE schools from the next session. That is also when grades would replace marking system in classes IX and X.

Sibal has already instructed the CBSE to work towards putting these two measures in place by 2010.

An important point that the minister made was that the state boards would continue to hold their own Class X exam.

“How can we ask state boards to do something like Class X boards all together? That discussion can happen later once the quality of state boards improve,” he said.

He added that: “Right now, only CBSE schools up to Class XII have been told to end Class X board exams from the next session. Schools that are up to Class X will, however, need to retain the board system. So will the schools where Class X children want to enter pre-university instead of going to Class XI,” he maintained.

Sibal put to rest apprehension rose by the BJP and Left with regard to foreign and private players in education.

“A lot of debate will happen before these Bills go to Parliament”, the minister said, adding that a centralised board for India was his long-term target and was not part of his 100-day agenda.

The minister also hinted that the proposed national council for higher education might not be a statutory body.

“We will have to see what shape the body takes”, he said, stressing the need to make school education better through accreditation of schools.

Accreditation for schools would, however, not be compulsory but voluntary.

No ‘fail’ tag from next session

CBSE sources said no student would be failed in schools from the next session. While those who get two e-grades can sit for a compartment,

worst performers would have to stay in the same class and repeat it with performance remarks — “need improvement” instead of “failed”

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Ghost of 26/11 over Bandra-Worli sea link
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 30
Security agencies have tightened security at the new Bandra-Worli Sea Link (BWSL) in view of the terror attacks in Mumbai on November 26

last year. To begin with the jurisdiction of various agencies like the Bandra and Worli police stations, traffic police, the port police, fire brigade stations at Bandra and Worli, marine rescue units and the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC) which owns the structure have been drawn up.

The exercise was taken shortly after the terrorist attack and is part of a drill prepared by Central security agencies to cover installations like bridges, say sources.

One of the most visible security aspects on the BWSL will be closed circuit cameras that will allow investigators to peer into every vehicle that pass through. These cameras are installed at both ends.

In all there are 12 cameras installed all along the 5.6 km structure to monitor movement of vehicles.

According to traffic police officials, mobile patrols will keep an eye on the structure round the clock to ensure that vehicles do not stop

on the BWSL for any reason. “The movement of people on the sea link will be curtailed,” a senior traffic police official said. A viewing gallery planned on the sea link hasn’t been thrown open to the public yet due to security concerns.

MSRDC officials say, some restrictions on the movement of people may be removed after a special security force to monitor movement on the BWSL is fully deployed.

The movement of fishing boats and dinghies within a 100 metre radius of the sea link has been banned. However, local fishing communities have raised objections because of the impact it could have on their livelihoods.

While the movement of port traffic in the vicinity of the BWSL will be controlled by the Versova Coastal Police Station, area from the Bandra end of the BWSL till the 19th pillar will be in the jurisdiction of Bandra police. The rest of the length of the 60 pillars will be within the jurisdiction of Worli police station.

Police chowkies have been installed near both ends of the BWSL in order to tackle emergency situations.

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PC inaugurates NSG’s Mumbai hub
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, June 30
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today formally inaugurated the Mumbai hub of the National Security Guards (NSG) at Marol in the western suburbs of the city. The decision to set up hubs of the NSG in different parts of the country was taken following the terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26 last year.

“The NSG hub will allow quick mobilisation of security forces in case of an emergency,” Chidambaram told reporters after the inaugural ceremony.

Explaining the operations of the NSG hub, the minister said the commandos would be put on operation mode after a request is made from the state authorities. “The first responder in any crisis situation is the police,” Chidambaram said.

Responding to allegations that the NSG hub was poorly equipped, the Home Minister denied the charge. Chidambaram, however, added that lack of equipment like helicopters could be made by requisitioning private helicopters. The Mumbai NSG hub will used to deploy commandos across Western India.

The other NSG hubs will be located at Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata and will become operational tomorrow.

The hub at Mumbai was established after the Maharashtra government allotted 23 acres for the purpose. Work on the hub is still going on with residential accommodation for the commandos still under construction.

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13,000 crore interest on IT refund
Rakesh Lohumi
Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 30
The Government of India paid Rs 13,159 crore as interest on income tax refund due to assesses over a period of three years.

This interesting information has been revealed by the union ministry of finance in response to an application filed by RTI activist Dev Ashish Bhattacharya with the Central Board of Direct Taxes. He had sought information about the interest paid on account of delay in grant of refund to the assesses and if anyone had been held responsible for it.

Public information officer and deputy secretary, finance, J.P.Chandrakar informed the applicant that no separate details of the interest paid on delayed refund were kept. However, interest was paid on refund to the assesses. The maximum amount of Rs 4701 crore was paid as interest on refund in 2003-04, followed by Rs 4553 crore in 2005-06 and Rs 3865 crore in 2004-05.

He further stated that granting refund to assesses consequent to the assessment in accordance with the provisions of the Income Tax Act was a continuous process. Interest on refund was normally admissible from April 1 of the assessment year.

Regarding accountability for delay he said the jurisdictional assessment officer concerned was responsible for timely refund to the assesses. Interest was granted on refund in accordance with Section 244(A) of the Income Tax Act (1961).

Bhattacharya maintains that the huge amount paid as interest on refund was a reflection on the efficiency of the income tax department which had not been able to pay refund in time. Now that all the information could be accessed through computer network on a click of mouse, the department should be in a position to carry out the job expeditiously without putting the burden of interest on the state exchequer.

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Monsoon makes further advance
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
Monsoon today further advanced into remaining parts of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, entire Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi, some more parts of east Rajasthan and many parts of Punjab and Haryana.

The northern limit of southwest monsoon now passes through Udaipur, Jaipur, Pilani, Hisar, Ludhiana and Jammu.

Conditions are favourable for further advance of southwest monsoon into remaining parts of Punjab and Haryana and some more parts of Rajasthan during next two days.

Current meteorological analysis and numerical weather prediction models suggest that widespread rainfall activity with isolated heavy to very heavy falls will occur over east Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Sub-Himalayan West Bengal & Sikkim during next two days and over northeastern states during next four days.

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HC judge says minister ‘influenced’ him to grant bail in forgery case
N Ravikumar
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 30
In a startling revelation, a judge of the Madras High Court stated that a central minister had tried to “influence” him to grant anticipatory bail to a medical student and his father, accused by the CBI of forging an examination mark sheet.

Justice R Regupathi told an open court yesterday he would write to the prime minister about the matter if the lawyer appearing in the case failed to submit a written unconditional apology. "A Union minister talked to me. He sought to influence me to release this petitioner on anticipatory bail," the judge told startled advocates and officials in the court. However, he did not name the minister.

Regupathi was hearing the anticipatory bail plea of S Kiruba Shridhar, a third-year MBBS student in a private medical college in Pondicherry, and his father C Krishnamurthy, who is a doctor. Both of them had been charged with using the services of a Pondicherry University official and a middleman to inflate examination marks.

When the hearing began the judge said he was not inclined to grant any relief and pointed out to the petitioner's counsel that he had already rejected the pleas earlier on June 15. To this the lawyer complained the judge was passing orders on the basis of the prosecutors’ submission alone.

Immediately the judge stated most of the orders passed by him since morning had been in favour of the petitioners and disclosed that “pressure” was being exerted on him in this case. "A Union minister talked to me about the matter. You yourself know everything,” he said.

He then referred the case to Chief Justice HL Gokhale with a request that the matter be posted before another bench for appropriate orders.

The CBI had earlier alleged Kiruba Shridhar of Arubadai Veedu Medical College had failed his ophthalmology paper in the first two attempts. On the third and final attempt he got only nine out of a total of 40 marks. With the help of a university section officer and a middleman he had managed to get the original answer scripts replaced and inflated the marks to 16, which was the minimum pass mark.

The agency said it had secured the original exam answer sheet that had been replaced by them. It also claimed to have found evidence to prove that the medical student’s father had bribed the culprits. While the university official and the middleman were arrested in May 2009, the father-son duo is still at large. Investigations are continuing.

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India to ‘renegotiate’ emission reduction
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 30
India today made its stand on emission reduction targets absolutely clear, saying that it would not sign any treaty that legally binds it to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“It (India’s stand) is non-negotiable. India will never take on legally binding emission reduction targets,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said, maintaining that by doing so “we will be jeopardising our energy consumption target, transportation expansion and most importantly our agricultural and power production which is needed for poverty elimination”

India in fact would “renegotiate” emission reduction target, which developed nations have to take at the Copenhagen meet in December. “We are not negotiating or renegotiating the UN Framework on Climate Change as expected by the industrialised nations. We are renegotiating the greenhouse gas emission reduction target which developed countries have to take and we are in discussion with other nations like Brazil, China and G-77 on the issue,” Ramesh said.

Besides, India is also clear that it will never agree to have its National Action Plan on Climate Change subject to any international monitoring or verification. Only those nationally appropriate mitigation actions can be subject to international monitoring, reporting and verification that are enabled and supported by international finance and technology transfer.

Attacking a proposed US legislation, in the hunt of financially punishing countries which refuse to adhere to emission targets, Ramesh described the bill cleared by the US House of Representatives on Monday as “anemic”, saying that most pernicious part of it was the climate tax. He welcomed US President Barack Obama’s call to the US Senate to reject this part of the bill.

Ramesh said India rejected the use of climate as a non-tariff barrier and would disallow any attempt to introduce climate change talks in WTO negotiations.

While negotiating on climate change issues with the rest of the world, poverty eradication and social and economic developments would be the first and overriding priorities of the country, Ramesh said, underlining the principle of per capita emission formulation for ensuring domestic equity.

Developed nations have committed to reducing their emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels and now pressurising China, India and other developing countries to commit to greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already stated that India’s per capita emissions will never exceed the per capita emission levels of developed countries. India’s stand is that industrialised countries were responsible for most of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and hence should be more proactive in reducing emissions.

India is a relatively low carbon economy and data indicates that the country’s emissions growth path has been on sustainable lines. A World Bank report says that among the 70 countries studied, India is ranked 63rd for per capita emissions and 48th for CO2 emissions per unit of the GDP.

Countries are now negotiating an agreement to tackle climate change. The next climate summit is in Copenhagen in December, which will be preceded by several conferences in several parts of the world, including India.

At the most recent preparatory talks for the Copenhagen summit at Bonn earlier this month, India, China and 36 other countries submitted a proposal that industrialised countries should be legally obliged to reduce their emissions by at least 40 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

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Prez unveils statue of Maharana Pratap
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, June 30
President Pratibha Patil today unveiled the statue of Maharana Pratap at the newly constructed international airport terminal in Udaipur. Addressing a gathering on the occasion, President Patil said the country is proud of Maharana Pratap. “He is a source of inspiration for the young generation of the country and youth should follow his qualities of love for the motherland, unity, leadership and brotherhood,” she added.

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Widow of WW II solider gets full pension after 64 yrs

Vijayawada, June 30
An 88-year-old widow of a World War II soldier felt that it was a memorable day in her life when she received the full settlement of family pension after 64 years on June 25.

Thota Venkatasubbamma's husband Lakshmana Rao joined as a soldier in defence forces in 1941 and died in 1945 in World War II Africa. She neither received her husband's body nor knew where exactly he died, according to a press release by Press Information Bureau here.

She is an illiterate and at the time of her husband's death, she was 24 years and had a baby. Later, the government sanctioned only Rs 16 to her as monthly pension and Rs 4 to her child, which she received till recently.

The Defence Accounts Department finally settled her monthly pension at Rs 4,250 and paid the arrears amounting to Rs 3.70 lakh at the 92nd Defence Pension Adalat held in Guntur. — PTI

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AIADMK members evicted en masse
Tribune News Service

Chennai, June 30
Chaos prevailed in Tamil Nadu Assembly today as members of the principal opposition, the AIADMK, rushed to the well of the House and raised slogans demanding a resolution against the Sri Lankan government, leading to their en masse eviction.

The MDMK and the PMK, which vociferously supported the demand of the AIADMK walked out alleging that the opposition members were not allowed to raise major issues in the Assembly.

Speaker R Avudaippan, who ordered the eviction of opposition members, following a request by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, also expunged all the remarks made by the opposition members on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue.

Former minister and senior leader D Jayakumar said thousands of Tamil children and women were massacred by the island army in their war against the Tigers and the Tamil Nadu assembly should pass a resolution urging the Centre to appeal in the International Court of Justice.

"The DMK government's refusal to allow the opposition to raise the issue was an act of betrayal of Tamils", he said.

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Andhra okays cooperative farming
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, June 30
Brushing aside the opposition objections, the Andhra Pradesh cabinet today unanimously approved a pilot project for cooperative farming in the state to make agriculture more remunerative and to generate rural wealth. The opposition parties, including the TDP, CPI, CPM and the Praja Rajyam, raised fears that it would lead to big industrialists taking over agriculture, depriving farmers of their source of livelihood.

However, the Congress government claimed that it was the first such novel experiment in the country aimed at increasing the productivity manifold through mechanization and precision farming and taking up allied activities in a big way.

As per the plan, the farmers in selected villages will be encouraged to form Integrated Agricultural Cooperative Societies, which will take up community farming and allied activities on a large scale.

Through cooperative farming, the government would help farmers reap good results in the dairy, poultry, fisheries, sheep rearing and food processing sectors. The experiment would help farmers, owning small land holdings, come together and develop the land using modern technology and thereby dramatically increase wealth.

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LS Speaker to convene all-party meeting

New Delhi, June 30
A meeting of leaders of all political parties will be convened by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar tomorrow ahead of the commencement of the Budget session of Parliament.

This is the first such meeting convened by Kumar and the exercise is aimed at ensuring the smooth conduct of the over month-long session, which will conclude on August 7. Parliamentary Affairs Minister P K Bansal has also convened a meeting of chief whips of all political parties tomorrow for the purpose. The Economic Survey would be presented in the Lok Sabha on July 2, and Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee would present the Rail Budget for 2009/10 on Friday. — PTI

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