SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI




THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

Midday meals to be rationalised
New Delhi, July 30
Thanks to recession, India’s ambitious mid-day-meal (MDM) programme is in for redemption, with the government planning to rationalise the scheme for the first time since its inception.

A first: Gujarat to serve micro-nutrients

Bandh against court verdict hits life
Guwahati, July 30
The bandh called by human rights organisation Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity (MASS) and several journalists’ organisations in protest against the court verdict acquitting the prime accused in journalist Parag Kumar Das murder case disrupted normal life in Assam today. All offices, educational and financial institutions remained closed while there were very few vehicles on the roads.
 A view of a deserted street in Dispur area during a bandh called by Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity in protest against the verdict in the murder case of journalist Parag Das, in Guwahati onb Thursday.
A view of a deserted street in Dispur area during a bandh called by Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity in protest against the verdict in the murder case of journalist Parag Das, in Guwahati onb Thursday. — PTI







EARLIER STORIES

Uncertainty over Commonwealth Games ends
New Delhi, July 30
The Supreme Court today ended all uncertainties over the 2010 Commonwealth Games by ruling that the village project for the sports extravaganza was located neither on the “riverbed” nor the “floodplain” of the Yamuna river and as such the agencies involved in it "are free to proceed with the work."

Greens criticise court clearance to Games village

Gear up for education reforms: Sibal to states
New Delhi, July 30
Criticism of his loud thinking notwithstanding, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal today signalled that he was not one to compromise his education reform agenda for anything or anyone. To that effect then, both his bold new initiatives of making class X board optional and ensuring uniformity of teaching across India stay despite the opposition BJP and sections within his own party crying hoarse over them.

Gujarat Riots
SIT gets more time to probe Modi’s role
New Delhi, July 30
The Supreme Court today granted five more months to the special investigation team (SIT) to complete probe into the possible role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

Quota bill gets Guv’s nod
Gujjars call off stir
Jaipur, July 30
Rajasthan Governor SK Singh today signed the Bill facilitating 5 per cent reservation to the Gujjars and 14 per cent reservation to the economically backward classes (EBCs) in the state.

Opposition walks out in LS over non-basmati exports
New Delhi, July 30
The entire opposition expressed dissatisfaction with the government's response on the issue of non-basmati rice exports and staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha today, demanding an inquiry by a joint parliamentary committee or the CBI into allegations of corruption in exports to certain African countries in 2007 and 2008. The matter was raised under a calling attention motion by BJD member Arjun Charan Sethi, who said non-basmati rice exports to Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana flouted guidelines of the Director General of Foreign Trade.

Nitish silences critics by nominating George for RS
Patna, July 30
The decision of Bihar’s ruling party - Janata Dal (U) - to nominate estranged leader George Fernandes for the byelection to the lone Rajya Sabha seat from here indeed came as a surprise in the political circles. The veteran socialist leader filed his papers today.



JD(U) leader George Fernandes files papers for the Rajya Sabha seat in Patna on Thursday. A Tribune photograph
JD(U) leader George Fernandes files papers for the Rajya Sabha seat in Patna on Thursday.

Thousands join Rajmata’s last journey
Jaipur, July 30
The mortal remains of Rajmata Gayatri Devi, who died after prolonged illness yesterday, were consigned to flames with full state honours here today. Thousands of people came out to join her funeral procession to pay their last respects to their beloved Rajmata.

Buta’s son held on graft charges
New Delhi, July 30
The CBI today arrested former Union Minister Buta Singh’s son Sarabjot Singh Happy in Delhi on bribery charges. According to media reports, Sarabjyot Singh was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 3 crore from a Nashik-based contractor to get him reprieve from a SC/ST case pending against him. Sarbjot was arrested by the anti corruption branch of the CBI on Thursday evening and taken to investigating agency’s Mumbai office.

Concern over MPs’ poor attendance
New Delhi, July 30
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today noted with concern the problem of poor attendance of party MPs in Parliament and hoped that corrective action will be taken with the party electing its state conveners.

Govt plans largesse for builders in Mumbai
Mumbai, July 30
Weeks before the Election Commission’s code of conduct comes into effect, the Maharashtra government is on overdrive pushing through proposals envisaging redevelopment of Mumbai. The government is all set to give nod to “cluster development” of old parts of Mumbai city where more than 100-year-old buildings exist and are in precarious condition. “Cluster development proposals in areas like Bhuleshwar, Thakurdwar, Mazgaon, Sewri and Girgaum are awaiting formal approval,” said sources in the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority.

Navy chief backs Gorshkov deal
New Delhi, July 30
With the CAG slamming the Government for buying the second-hand Admiral Gorshkov at the price of a new aircraft carrier, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today defended the price being paid by India for the warship. “I can’t comment on the CAG. But you all are defence analysts, can you get me an aircraft carrier for less than $ two billion? If you can, I am going to sign a cheque right now,” Mehta told reporters on the sidelines of the ‘Naval Self Reliance Seminar’ organised by CII.

Sikhs need govt’s attention: Tarlochan
New Delhi, July 30
Independent member Tarlochan Singh today, while participating in a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the External Affairs Ministry, spoke at length about the problems being faced by the Sikh community.

Work on to unearth black money: PM
New Delhi, July 30
The government today said it had begun work on the action plan to unearth black money within next 100 days.

Muslims oppose 'Bhojan Mantra'
Bhopal, July 30
The Madhya Pradesh government's directive to state teachers to compulsorily recite "Bhojan Mantra" before meals during its special training programme has angered the Muslim community whose religious heads said today they will ignore it.

Hybrid coaches in Duranto trains soon
New Delhi, July 30
State-of-the-art hybrid coaches with enhanced seating capacity will be introduced in the soon-to-be-rolled out non-stop 'Duranto' class of trains.

10 BHU students held for ragging
Varanasi, July 30
Ten students of Banaras Hindu University were detained by police and fined Rs 50,000 each by their institute after being caught ragging five freshers.





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Midday meals to be rationalised
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
Thanks to recession, India’s ambitious mid-day-meal (MDM) programme is in for redemption, with the government planning to rationalise the scheme for the first time since its inception.

Admitting that most of the existing financial parameters of the world’s largest school feeding programme are irrational, the government today said it would reorient the scheme to ensure its efficacy.

At the core of the government’s change of heart is recession, which has made it impossible for state governments to feed children with Rs 2.80 paisa per child per day - the cooking cost rate fixed in 2006. Since then, inflation has gone up and down, playing havoc with estimates and eventually forcing the Human Resource Development Ministry to settle for a separate, specially-designed mid-day meal price index of its own.

That means, in effect, the delinking of MDM commodity prices with the wholesale price index to ensure the cooking cost that is fixed once and for all fits the programme well and suits states’ purses. There is also a move to rid the cooking cost of the salary component of cooks and helpers. Till now, the meager cooking cost of Rs 2.80 per child per day also included the renumeration for cooks.

Further, the government admits that uniform transport and kitchen shed cost norms could not be prescribed for the country and they must vary from state to state. “The idea is to link costs to the state schedule of rates to make them rational once and for all. Rationalisation means we would not have to go to the Cabinet time and again to get the cooking costs revised. They would be determined by a special price index governing MDM alone and taking account of rates prevalent in states,” said a top government official, adding that rationalisation proposals had been sent to the ministries concerned and their comments were awaited.

A first: Gujarat to serve micro-nutrients

This August 15, Gujarat would become the first state to include fortified wheat flour, complete with micro-nutrients, in its mid-day meal menu for schoolchildren. News is that the state government conducted a survey that showed nutrition aspects lacking in children. “This clearly shows MDM alone hasn’t helped. We need to fortify the food we provide to our children,” sources said.

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Bandh against court verdict hits life
Bijay Sankar Bora
Tribune News Service

Guwahati, July 30
The bandh called by human rights organisation Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity (MASS) and several journalists’ organisations in protest against the court verdict acquitting the prime accused in journalist Parag Kumar Das murder case disrupted normal life in Assam today. All offices, educational and financial institutions remained closed while there were very few vehicles on the roads.

MASS denounced the way the CBI handled the case. Parag was killed on May 17, 1996, in the heart of the city in front of his minor son. The organisation has demanded a reinvestigation into the case.

The Kamrup District and Sessions Judge on Tuesday acquitted the prime accused in the case, Mridul Phukon, a former ULFA militant, citing lack of sufficient evidence to pronounce him guilty. The judgment triggered widespread protests all over the state.

Das was the Executive Editor of widely circulated Assamese Daily, “Asomiya Pratidin” and was known for his strong views that almost supported the causes championed by the banned United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

Chairman of ULFA Arabinda Rajkhowa said the trial and the CBI investigation into the case was a farce. The CBI deliberately refrained from making public the names of killers during the past 13 years of investigation, he alleged.

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Uncertainty over Commonwealth Games ends
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 30
The Supreme Court today ended all uncertainties over the 2010 Commonwealth Games by ruling that the village project for the sports extravaganza was located neither on the “riverbed” nor the “floodplain” of the Yamuna river and as such the agencies involved in it "are free to proceed with the work."

A three-Judge Bench, headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, delivered the verdict on petitions filed by the Delhi Development Authority, the Ministry of Sports and the games Organizing Committee, challenging the restrictions imposed by Delhi HC.

"In view of the abundant materials…there is no ground for consideration by another Expert Committee" whether the project was situated on the riverbed or the floodplain, the Bench, which included Justices P Sathasivam and BS Chauhan, said in its 44-page judgment.

However, the Committee approved by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should monitor the entire activities in association with noted environmentalist Dr RK Pachauri, the apex court ruled.

With this, the apex court has set aside the November 3, 2008 verdict of the HC that had directed the government to form a fresh Committee to "examine and monitor" the construction carried out by the games' organizers and the DMRC.

The verdict, written by Justice Sathasivam for the Bench, pointed out that the apex court had ruled on January 12, 2005 that the Akshardham Temple, adjacent to the village project site, was not located on the riverbed. This "has bearing on the issue (games project) and it is a binding precedent for all purposes."

Greens criticise court clearance to Games village

The green brigade today strongly criticised the green signal by the Supreme Court to the Commonwealth Games Village on the Yamuna Bank. Magsayasay award winner Rajendra Singh warned, “today’s verdict will not just have dangerous implications for Yamuna and Delhi but for all rivers in the country.” — TNS

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Gear up for education reforms: Sibal to states
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
Criticism of his loud thinking notwithstanding, Union Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal today signalled that he was not one to compromise his education reform agenda for anything or anyone. To that effect then, both his bold new initiatives of making class X board optional and ensuring uniformity of teaching across India stay despite the opposition BJP and sections within his own party crying hoarse over them.

“Within the National Curriculum Framework of 2005 which we are going to adopt, you can have your diversity. There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that we need uniformity in the teaching of subjects so that we have a uniform level of excellence to create a critical mass of students who can then compete with the world,” the minister today told the state governments, literally shrugging off BJP’s “diversity” debate and asking the states to firm up proposals whereby such goals (as of uniform teaching) would be achieved.

Faced with the daunting task of rolling out the Right to Education (RTE) Bill and achieving gross enrollment ratio (GER) of 15 per cent by 2015, Sibal, in his unsparing advice to states, said a carefree attitude towards the realization of education goals would not do. “Yeh chalta hai …attitude nahi chalega,” Sibal said to states, adding they were obliged to submit mechanisms with which to monitor schools, teacher quality and absenteeism, which stands at a huge 19 per cent.

The minister was speaking at the conference of state secretaries for school education and literacy, which will, over the next three days, debate UPA new initiatives’s on primary and secondary education including Sibal’s exam and marking reform proposals and the modalities of Right to Education Bill, which requires the states to define neighbourhood schools.

Setting the tone for discussions, Sibal said the growing disconnect between the Centre and states on HRD targets must be bridged at the earliest. “True partnership is needed. This is not about politics. This is about India and our children,” he told the visiting state secretaries, his remarks inspired mainly by CAG’s repeated castigations of states that have mismanaged or diverted education programme funds.

The government also said it favoured use of geospatial technology and broadband facility to map and monitor school performance. “The pipelines are porous. This porosity must be checked,” Sibal said, on a day when he later introduced the Right to Education Bill in the Lok Sabha. Once passed by the lower House, free and compulsory education for children aged 6 to 14 years would become a fundamental right.

In another major development today, the minister set the states the target of achieving 30 per cent GER by 2020. “Don’t take refuge in the five-year window period the Right to Education Bill provides. Just get going,” said Sibal.

The government has asked all states to immediately propose monitoring mechanisms and review teacher quality in the wake of RTE Bill, which requires teachers to attain a certain level of training to impart education.

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Gujarat Riots
SIT gets more time to probe Modi’s role
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 30
The Supreme Court today granted five more months to the special investigation team (SIT) to complete probe into the possible role of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 post-Godhra riots.

A Bench headed by Justice DK Jain asked the SIT, appointed by the apex court with former CBI Director RK Raghavan as its head, to file its report by December 31.

On April 27, the court had directed the SIT to investigate within three months the complaint of Jakia Nasim Ahesan, wife of slain Congress MP Ehsan Jafri. The complainant had alleged that Modi and 62 others, including his cabinet colleagues and top police officials, had abetted mob action.

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Quota bill gets Guv’s nod
Gujjars call off stir
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 30
Rajasthan Governor SK Singh today signed the Bill facilitating 5 per cent reservation to the Gujjars and 14 per cent reservation to the economically backward classes (EBCs) in the state.

The move came after Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot held a meeting with the Governor late in the evening.

With this all the possibilities of another Gujjar agitation hitting the state have come to an end. However, the road ahead for this reservation Bill will not be easy. The quota for EBCs will need a constitutional amendment, as there is no provision in the Constitution for reservation on economic basis.

This 19 per cent increase in reservation (5 per cent for Gujjars and 14 per cent for the EBCs) can also be challenged on another count as the total quota in the state would touch 68 per cent mark - much above the 50 per cent cap set by the Supreme Court. The state already has 21 per cent quota for OBCs, 16 per cent for SCs and 12 per cent for STs, making it a total of 49 per cent. Earlier, the state Cabinet gave its nod to implementation of five per cent quota for Gujjars and three other communities, besides a 14 per cent quota for ‘economically backward classes.’ The cabinet meeting, chaired by the CM, was apprised of the situation arising from the Gujjars’ ‘mahapadav’ (sit-in) and their demand for a 5% quota.

After the Governor gave his assent to the Bill, Gujjars decided to call off their five-day-old sit-in demonstration.

Buoyed by the Governor's nod to the quota bill, Bainsla told reporters here that the community leaders had decided in-principle to withdraw their sit-in near Hindon town in Karoli district and he would make a formal announcement of this tomorrow after celebrations at the demonstration site.

Bainsla thanked Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, Rajasthan Governor SK Singh, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his predecessor Vasundhara Raje for the job quota for Gujjars. — PTI

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Opposition walks out in LS over non-basmati exports
Bhagyashree Pande
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
The entire opposition expressed dissatisfaction with the government's response on the issue of non-basmati rice exports and staged a walkout in the Lok Sabha today, demanding an inquiry by a joint parliamentary committee or the CBI into allegations of corruption in exports to certain African countries in 2007 and 2008. The matter was raised under a calling attention motion by BJD member Arjun Charan Sethi, who said non-basmati rice exports to Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana flouted guidelines of the Director General of Foreign Trade.

Replying on the issue, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said every transaction completed would be examined and responsibility determined. “Nobody will be spared if it is found any rules were infringed”, he added.

“We are not sensationalizing the issue, but ask the government not to trivialise the matter. As we are not satisfied with its response we are staging a walkout”, leader of the opposition LK Advani said after Sharma rejected their demands saying the government “should be given an opportunity to inquire into the issue on its own”.

Sharad Yadav of JD(U), Bharatruhari Mahtab (BJD), Shailendra Kumar (SP), Basudev Acharya (CPM) and Gopinath Munde (BJP) wanted to know why private companies like Shivnath Harinarayan were allowed to export non-basmati rice. They also demanded a reply to a question on why the tender system was not followed when the request for rice import was sent by these African countries to the Indian government.

Opposition members also demanded to know why PSUs were not involved in the exports, saying the process was not transparent.

Gopinath Munde of the BJP alleged the decision to export rice to some African countries was taken during the recent general elections to “generate funds” for the polls.

B Mahtab (BJD) asked why the Ghanaian government had ordered an inquiry by its investigative agency into the import of rice if there no scam had been suspected.

The value of rice exports totaled about Rs 170 crore. Relaxing the ban on rice exports, the government authorized export of non-basmati rice to African countries in view of their pressing needs and diplomatic considerations.

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Nitish silences critics by nominating George for RS
Sanjay Singh
Tribune News Service

Patna, July 30
The decision of Bihar’s ruling party - Janata Dal (U) - to nominate estranged leader George Fernandes for the byelection to the lone Rajya Sabha seat from here indeed came as a surprise in the political circles. The veteran socialist leader filed his papers today.

CM Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi (BJP) accompanied him during the nomination process. Although, the byelection for this seat, vacated by JD-U chief Sharad Yadav following his victory in the Lok Sabha polls, is scheduled for August 8, George is expected to be elected unopposed.

Apparently, a majority of leaders in the JD-U had no inkling about the truce between the rebel Fernandes and the top leadership (Nitish Kumar) and the party’s decision to send its one time patron and chief to the Rajya Sabha for which there were many claimants. However, Nitish Kumar spilled the beans after George had filed his papers today. Speaking to mediapersons, Nitish said that he had recently met George Saheb at New Delhi to enquire about his health and offered him the Rajya Sabha seat which he readily accepted.

This move of Nitish is being perceived as a master stroke in political circles. By opting for the octogenarian George, Nitish has not only demoralised his critics and dissidents in the party who were trying to project the ‘ailing socialist leader’ as their mascot in their fight against the Chief Minister but he has also silenced all other claimants in the party for the said post. At the same time, the rehabilitation of George would help Nitish retrieve his image in the political circles.

He would no longer face charges like abandoning the ailing party veteran. Notably, the JD-U had offered a Rajya Sabha seat to George even when he decided to rebel against the party on being denied the Lok Sabha ticket a few months ago.

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Thousands join Rajmata’s last journey
Tribune News Service

Jaipur, July 30
The mortal remains of Rajmata Gayatri Devi, who died after prolonged illness yesterday, were consigned to flames with full state honours here today. Thousands of people came out to join her funeral procession to pay their last respects to their beloved Rajmata.

The procession started from Janana Dyodhi and passed through Tripolia Bazaar, Badi Chaupar and Hawa Mahal Bazaar before reaching Maharani ki Chhatri, the royal cremation ground. Her last journey began at about 3.30 pm. The body, wrapped in the Tricolour, was carried in an Army vehicle. Amid chanting of Vedic hymns and a 21-gun salute, Gayatri Devi’s stepsons Bhawani Singh and Jai Singh lit her funeral pyre.

The traffic in the walled city came to a standstill, as thousands of people poured out on the streets to pay glowing tributes to their Rajmata. Some of them came barefoot like devotees, some with folded hands and some carrying flowers to express their endless faith and devotion to the departed soul. People came from as far as Ganganagar to pay homage to their Queen Mother.

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Buta’s son held on graft charges
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
The CBI today arrested former Union Minister Buta Singh’s son Sarabjot Singh Happy in Delhi on bribery charges. According to media reports, Sarabjyot Singh was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 3 crore from a Nashik-based contractor to get him reprieve from a SC/ST case pending against him. Sarbjot was arrested by the anti corruption branch of the CBI on Thursday evening and taken to investigating agency’s Mumbai office.

Sarabjot allegedly accepted bribe from the builder to get his name cleared from cases filed against him. The builder, Ram Rao Patil, is accused of having taken loan of Rs 10 crore from Sri Hari Bade Sir Cooperative Society based in Navi Mumbai against the names of 100 Dalit workers.

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Concern over MPs’ poor attendance

New Delhi, July 30
Congress President Sonia Gandhi today noted with concern the problem of poor attendance of party MPs in Parliament and hoped that corrective action will be taken with the party electing its state conveners.

"Now that the state conveners have been elected, I hope that the problem of poor attendance in both Houses will be rectified," she said addressing a meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) here.

Taking exception to the absence of members, she said, "Our chief whips have a tough task mobilising all of you on crucial occasions. This reflects poorly on us and does little justice to those who have voted us to represent them here."

Noting that there is a large number of ministers from Congress Party, Gandhi said expectations and demands from constituencies have increased and asked the ministers to give time and be of assistance to MPs.

She also asked the ministers to visit party offices and interact with party functionaries when they travel within the country. Gandhi said the party is planning a series of training sessions for the MPs and asked the members, particularly the first timers, to regularly participate in Standing Committees and Consultative Committees. The Party President asked the members to familiarise themselves with the policies and programmes of the government and see that they are properly implemented.

"We have been given a decisive mandate and people expect us to fulfill their aspirations," Gandhi said.

Addressing the CPP, Gandhi dwelled on several issues. She hailed the election of LS Speaker Meira Kumar and said it reflected the party's "steadfast commitment to women empowerment". — PTI

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Govt plans largesse for builders in Mumbai
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 30
Weeks before the Election Commission’s code of conduct comes into effect, the Maharashtra government is on overdrive pushing through proposals envisaging redevelopment of Mumbai. The government is all set to give nod to “cluster development” of old parts of Mumbai city where more than 100-year-old buildings exist and are in precarious condition. “Cluster development proposals in areas like Bhuleshwar, Thakurdwar, Mazgaon, Sewri and Girgaum are awaiting formal approval,” said sources in the Maharashtra Housing and Development Authority.

Under the cluster development plan mooted by the government in 2007, builders would be allotted neighbourhoods instead of individual buildings for redevelopment.

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Navy chief backs Gorshkov deal

New Delhi, July 30
With the CAG slamming the Government for buying the second-hand Admiral Gorshkov at the price of a new aircraft carrier, Navy chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta today defended the price being paid by India for the warship. “I can’t comment on the CAG. But you all are defence analysts, can you get me an aircraft carrier for less than $ two billion? If you can, I am going to sign a cheque right now,” Mehta told reporters on the sidelines of the ‘Naval Self Reliance Seminar’ organised by CII.

In its report, the CAG had noted that till 2008 the escalated cost of the aircraft carrier was about $ 1.82 billion and another $ 522 million for the sea trials, which was originally pegged at $ 27 million in the 2004 contract.

India had bought the 45,000-tonne Gorshkov from Russia in January 2004 at a total cost of $ 974 million, which included its refit and repair.

The Russians have thrice revised the price of the Admiral Gorshkov since 2007 and have made a final demand of additional USD 2.9 billion this February. India is carrying out final price negotiations with Moscow and is willing to pay around USD 2.2 billion for the ship.

Commenting on the CAG's finding that the Navy had not undertaken a risk analysis before going in for price negotiation, Admiral Mehta said, the question did not arise, as the Navy has been searching for a warship since late 90s, and a decision on the Admiral Gorkshov was taken after adequate tests. — Agencies

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Sikhs need govt’s attention: Tarlochan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
Independent member Tarlochan Singh today, while participating in a debate in the Rajya Sabha on the working of the External Affairs Ministry, spoke at length about the problems being faced by the Sikh community.

Even as his colleagues spoke about the India-Pakistan joint statement and the end-user monitoring arrangement with the US, the member from Haryana chose to draw the government’s attention towards various issues that have agitated the minds of the Sikhs.

He claimed that the government had blacklisted a large number of Sikhs who had participated in demonstrations outside Indian missions abroad to protest the Operation Blue Star in 1984. Till date, the blacklist had not been withdrawn. “Every Sikh wants to pray at the Golden Temple. Allow them to come to India now”.

Noting that Canada was home to large number of Sikhs, Singh regretted that no Indian Prime Minister had ever thought of visiting that country.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently visited Paris as Guest of Honour at French National Day celebrations but France was yet to lift ban on Sikh students wearing turban.

The member also highlighted the conditions in which nearly 3,000 Sikhs were living in Gurdwaras in Pakistan after the Taliban asked them to pay jaziya. No representative of the government had gone to Pakistan to look into their problems.

Pointing out that the authorities in Dubai had recently permitted the construction of a Gurdwara in the Emirates, Tarlochan Singh wondered why India could not take up with West Asian countries the issue of permitting the Sikhs to have their own places of worship in these nations.

He claimed that Spain and Italy had recently liberalised their laws and decided to give nationality to illegal migrants provided they could get a certificate of their nationality from their country of birth. India was not ready to issue such certificates while Pakistan had already started the process.

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Work on to unearth black money: PM
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 30
The government today said it had begun work on the action plan to unearth black money within next 100 days.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told the Rajya Sabha that the government was committed to meet its promise of unearthing black money. In a brief intervention in the House in response to a query by Prakash Javadekar of the BJP on whether any action plan had been made to bring back the black money, he said, “Yesterday’s speech by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on the Finance Bill specifically dealt with the subject. The minister said action in that regard has already started.”

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Muslims oppose 'Bhojan Mantra'

Bhopal, July 30
The Madhya Pradesh government's directive to state teachers to compulsorily recite "Bhojan Mantra" before meals during its special training programme has angered the Muslim community whose religious heads said today they will ignore it.

State School and Higher Education Minister Archana Chitnis, in a directive three days ago, made chanting of "Bhojan Mantra", a prayer before meal, compulsory for the government teachers taking part in a special training programme beginning from September 1.

Madhya Pradesh Jamat-e-Islami Hind spokesman Anwar Shafi said this was against the belief of Muslims. "Muslim community recites 'Bismillah' before having meals and under no circumstances they (its teachers) would recite the 'Bhojan Mantra' as directed by the minister," he said.

Instead of improving the quality of mid-day meal served to schoolchildren, in which a number of times lizard, frog and cockroaches were reportedly found, the government is trying to divert people's attention by making compulsory recital of "Bhojan Mantra," Shafi alleged.

A demonstration was also held by Khanqah-e-Chishtia and Muslim Tehwar Committee at Tila Jamalpura area yesterday protesting against the directive. The committee chief, Dr Ausaf Shahmiri Khurram, said, "It is an unnecessary attempt by the government to interfere in one's personal religious matters." Special training programme for teachers have been organised in view of poor results in last academic year. — PTI

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Hybrid coaches in Duranto trains soon

New Delhi, July 30
State-of-the-art hybrid coaches with enhanced seating capacity will be introduced in the soon-to-be-rolled out non-stop 'Duranto' class of trains.

Made of stainless steel, these coaches are light in weight and will have inherent design features like superior aesthetics, better ride quality and low maintenance cost. They would also have environment-friendly toilets, a source in the Railways said.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced 12 such trains in her Budget speech. Later, replying to a discussion on the Budget in Parliament, she announced introduction of another two such trains and had said a couple of them would run within a month.

“One of the rakes has already arrived at New Delhi station,” the source said. Eleven Durantos will originate from Delhi. He said these hybrid coaches will have 12 per cent enhanced seating capacity. The exterior will have Rajdhani-like appearance. RCF, Kapurthala, will roll out 360 hybrid coaches during this financial year.

Officials in the Railway Ministry say that Duranto trains would take less time than Rajdhanis. Giving an example, they said if New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani express takes 17 hours to complete its journey, Duranto will take at least an hour less to cover the same distance.

These trains will only have technical stoppages for change of engine and staff. Several aspects involving the train like the timings and fare structure are currently being worked out.

They would mostly run on routes which have high flow of passenger traffic and are also serviced by Rajdhani trains. — PTI

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10 BHU students held for ragging

Varanasi, July 30
Ten students of Banaras Hindu University were detained by police and fined Rs 50,000 each by their institute after being caught ragging five freshers.

The accused, who were pursuing B. Tech in the Applied Mathematics Department in the varsity's Institute of Technology, were caught ragging five juniors by the university security staff outside the campus at Assi ghat on the banks of Ganga last evening, a BHU spokesman said.

The university also decided to disallow them from attending classes for 15 days and expel them from the hostel for six months, the spokesman said today. Later, they were handed over to the police as per the guidelines laid down by the UGC and the Supreme Court in this regard, he said.

Earlier, the BHU anti-ragging squad filmed the incident after which the senior students were taken to the BHU campus by the security staff, he said. While eight of them were in second year of B. Tech course, two were from third year. — PTI

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BRIEFLY

Court holds Army guilty in fake encounter case
Guwahati:
The Guwahati High Court has held Army guilty in connection with the death of four suspected National Democratic Front of Bodoland cadres in an alleged fake encounter and directed the Government of India to pay Rs 3.5 lakh as compensation against each of the victims to their respective families.A Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Arun Chandra Upadhyay, directed Kokrajhar district police to register a murder case against Army personnel involved in the alleged fake encounter. — TNS

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