NEW DELHI, Dec 30 (IANS): The government Friday put up a brave face after it failed to get the Lokpal bill past the Rajya sabha, saying it would be brought in the budget session of parliament in March 2012.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal, Law Minister Salman Khurshid and Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy told reporters that the bill will come in the next session and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “double speak.”
“The Lokpal Bill is still alive and it will be taken up in the budget session of parliament,” Bansal said at the customary post-session press conference here.
“The bill will come up in the next session,” Khurshid told reporters and blamed the opposition for trying to politicise the issue.
“They are looking for ammunition, they are not looking for something good for the country,” he said.
“They were so arrogant, believing that they had the majority and would do whatever they wanted. They should have acted more responsibly and wisely. If a game is played, it’s played on both sides… why were they playing a game,” Khurshid asked.
Narayanasamy too blamed the opposition and accused the BJP of “double speak”.
“Definitely we will bring it in March in the Budget session…We have to study the 187 amendments brought by opposition parties as most are overlapping. Some amendments relate to only a part of a clause and not the entire clause, some demand removing the entire part of the bill,” he added.
The Rajya Sabha failed to pass the Lokpal bill Thursday with the house being adjourned sine dine amid chaos.
Referring to the amendments moved by key United Progressive Alliance (UPA) partner Trinamool Congress, Narayanasamy said its reservations only related to the appointment of Lokayuktas in the states and “they have no grievances against the Lokpal.”
“They voted with us in the Lok Sabha though they had some reservations about the constitutional amendment…we are talking to them…there is still some time and we will bring them around,” he said.
Bansal also accused BJP of playing politics, saying the party’s amendments to the Lokpal bill were meant to ensure that it is not passed.
He said he was pained to hear Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley saying that the debate was choreographed by the government with the idea of avoiding a vote on the bill.
“I in fact level this charge on them. The BJP was participating in the discussion and they did not at any time say, let’s end the debate and go for clause by clause consideration of the bill. They kept fielding their own members for debate till the last,” Bansal said.
“BJP did this to play politics and they changed their stand as they said something in Lok Sabha and something else in the Rajya Sabha,” he said.
Defending the government, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh tweeted: “187 Amendments given till 6 pm on the day of debate and those too contradictory to each other. Extension of the House not within powers of RS (Rajya Sabha).”
The BJP has demanded Prime Minister Manmohan Singh resign for running away from voting in the Rajya Sabha.
New Delhi, Nov 23 (IANS): Reminding Islamabad of its anti-terror pledge, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai has said India is committed to carrying forward the resumed dialogue with Pakistan, but has warned of “the dark shadow of terrorism” from that country.
“At the bilateral level, we desire peaceful and cooperative relations with Pakistan. We are committed to resolving all outstanding issues with Pakistan through bilateral dialogue in an atmosphere free from terror and violence,” Mathai said in a speech at the National Defence College on “Security Dimensions of India’s Foreign Policy” last week.
“We are committed to carry forward our discussions with an open mind and a forward looking approach,” Mathai said, barely days after the leaders of India and Pakistan met in the Maldives and vowed to write a new chapter in the history of bilateral relations.
Mathai, however, reminded Pakistan of its anti-terror pledge barely days before the third anniversary of Mumbai attacks perpetrated by Pakistani militants.
“Pakistan must fulfil, in letter and spirit, its stated commitment of not allowing territory under its control to be used for fomenting terrorism against India in any manner,” he said.
“Our vision of a peaceful, cooperative and progressive South Asia cannot be realised unless the dark shadow of terrorism emanating from Pakistan is eliminated,” he said.
Source: Assam Tribune
Srinagar/Bhubaneswar, Nov 23 (IANS): At least 21 people were injured in two rail accidents on Wednesday — a train derailment in Kashmir and a collision between two trains in Odisha — a day after seven people were killed when two coaches of a train caught fire in Jharkhand.
A coach and the engine of the Qazigund-Srinagar-Baramulla train that connects north and south Kashmir derailed in Kashmir’s Anantnag district, injuring 20 people, in the first rail accident since train services were launched in the valley in 2008.
“The derailment took place at Sadoora after the train left the Qazigund railway station today (Wednesday) morning,” a police officer told IANS here. “A relief and rescue operation was immediately started and the injured are being shifted for treatment,” he added.
The officer said the derailment was accidental and ruled out any sabotage.
A 66-km section of the 119-km rail line, which is yet to be linked to the mainland rail network, was inaugurated Oct 11, 2008, by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
In Odisha’s Jharsuguda district, one person was injured when a passenger train collided with a goods train.
The accident took place when the driver of the Koraput-Howrah Samaleswari Express jumped the signal at Jharsuguda railway station, 374 km from here, police official R.N. Bal told IANS.
“Twenty-four-year-old Vikas Nayak jumped from the passenger train and suffered injuries on one of his legs. He is in hospital,” the official said.
On Tuesday, an air-conditioned coach of the Howrah-Dehradun Express was engulfed in flames which also spread to another coach. The tragedy left seven dead, including two children and an Australian national. A dozen others suffered varying degrees of burns.
The cause of the fire was not immediately clear. While there were hints about a leaking cooking gas cylinder causing the fire, passengers complained that the B1 coach had got over-heated because the air-conditioning system had been switched off and a heater turned on.
Source: Assam Tribune
NEW DELHI, Nov 20 – Over a score of black money hoarders in the capital, most of them businessmen, will pay Rs 80 crore as taxes to the Income Tax department on undisclosed income of about Rs 500 crore following searches made across the city on the basis of a classified list of account holders in HSBC bank, Geneva, reports PTI.
Sleuths of the enforcement and investigation wings of the I-T department carried out searches in the last two months on 22 individuals based in Delhi who have admitted to holding accounts and stashing funds in the foreign bank.
Source: Assam tribune
DIBRUGARH, Nov 19 – Union Minister of State for DoNER Paban Singh Ghatowar today flagged off India’s longest distance travelling train, Dibrugarh-Kanniyakumari Vivek Express at Dibrugarh Railway Station here.
The weekly train (15905/15906) will travel a distance of 4,286 kilometres from Dibrugarh railway station to Kanniyakumari through the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. The train will reach its destination in about 82:30 hours.
Earlier, the longest distance travelling train was the Himsagar Express, which travels from Jammu Tawi to Kanniyakumari, covering a total distance of 3715 kilometres in about 71 hours. The train has been christened as Vivek Express in the name of the great saint Swami Vivekananda. There will be altogether 52 stoppages throughout the journey including commercial stoppages. The composition of the train includes one AC-2 tier, two AC-3 tier, sevel sleeper class, six general second class, a pantry car and two SLR coaches.
State’s Revenue Minister Prithibi Majhi, General Manager of NF Railways, Keshab Chandra and Divisional Railway Manager (Tinsukia) Dhiren Mohapatra were also present among others during the flag-off ceremony at the Dibrugarh Railway Station.
The train will be received at Thiruvanthapuram in Kerala by the Kerala Chief Minister or any of his representative.
Source: Assam Tribune
NEW DELHI, Nov 19 – Sixteen districts of eight Northeastern States were among the recently identified 100 most climate vulnerable districts of the country.
Of the 16, Assam has as many as four districts (Cachar, Dibrugarh, Dhubri and Sonitpur), followed by Arunachal Pradesh with three (Tirap, West Kameng and East Siang). Manipur (Imphal East and Senapati district) two, Nagaland (Dimapur, Phek and Mokokchung) three while Mizoram (Lunglei), Sikkim (Ranipool) , Meghalaya (West Garo Hills) and Tripura (Khowai) have one each.
The scientists across the country have identified the 100 vulnerable districts out of the country’s about 600 districts based on their past records on extreme climatic conditions such as drought, cold or heat wave, heavy rainfall, flood, frost, salinity, water stress, soil erosion or acidity, said Dr B Venkateswarlu, Director of the Central Research Institute for Dry Land Agriculture (CRIDA), Hyderabad. The CRIDA Director was briefing journalists from India, Pakistan, Afghanishtan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives during Centre for Science and Environment sponsored workshop on climate change which concluded here yesterday.
CRIDA has taken steps to enhance resilience of Indian agriculture to climate change and climate vulnerability through strategic research and technology demonstration besides organising capacity building programme of the farmers under the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture. A research on adaptation and mitigation covers crops, livestock, fisheries and natural resource management is also on. “So far we have launched strategic research on (Kharif) crops in the 62 districts”, Dr Venkateswarlu informed. “Similar activities for the Rabi crops will also be taken up in the remaining districts from next month.”
In short, one degree Celsius increase in temperature may reduce yields of major crops by 3-7 per cent. Greater loss expected in Rabi crops, he predicted.
Source: Assam tribune
NEW DELHI, Nov 19 – Former Telecom Minister Sukhram was today awarded five years imprisonment by a Delhi Court after being convicted of taking Rs three lakhs as bribe to give a lucrative contract to a private firm in 1996, reports PTI.
Special CBI Judge R P Pandey also imposed a fine of Rs four lakh on 86-year-old Sukhram, who held the Telecom portfolio in P V Narasimha Rao’s Cabinet.
The CBI prosecutor said Sukhram will be taken into custody and sent to jail to serve the punishment as the sentence exceeded a three-year jail term and convicts in these cases are not granted statutory bail.
Sukhram was held guilty yesterday under various provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Indian Penal Code(IPC). Various offences under which he has been convicted entail a maximum sentence of 7 years jail term.
Sukhram was held guilty for misusing his official position during his tenure as Telecom Minister in award of contract worth Rs 30 crore to private firm Haryana Telecom Limited (HTL) to supply 3.5 Lakh Conductor Kilometers (LCKM) of Polythene Insulated Jelly Filled (PIJF) cables to the telecom department.
Arguing on the quantum of sentence, Sukhram’s counsel pleaded that his client is an 86-year-old person and attending the trial for the past 12 to 13 years.
The defence lawyer has sought leniency for his client saying Sukhram is suffering from age-related ailments and has also lost his wife.
The prosecutor, however, termed Sukhram as a “habitual offender” saying he has been sentenced in two other cases also and thus deserved no leniency.
Source: Assam Tribune
NEW DELHI, Nov 16 – In what could deliver the much-needed thrust, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today sanctioned the implementation of the World Bank aided North East Rural Livelihood Project (NERLP) at an estimated cost of Rs 683.20 crore (USD 144.40 million), an official spokesman said.
The World Bank is extending the assistance as a soft loan of Rs 614.80 crore (USD 130 million) and the Central Government is funding Rs 68.40 crore (USD 14.40 million) over a period of five years.
The Central sector Multi-State Rural Poverty Alleviation Project would be implemented by Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER). The objective of the NERLP is to improve rural livelihoods especially that of women, unemployed youth and the most disadvantaged people in four Northeastern States of Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim.
The project would be implemented in Aizwal and Lunglei districts of Mizoram, Peren and Tuensang districts of Nagaland, South, West and 15 poorest Panchayat wards of East district of Sikkim and West and North districts of Tripura. The project will cover nearly 3,00,000 households in 1,624 villages of 58 blocks falling in the four States.
Four major project components designed to achieve the specific project objectives are social empowerment, economic empowerment, partnership empowerment and project management.
Sources said implementation of the North East Rural Livelihood Project is envisaged to lead to creation of sustainable community institutions around women Self-Help Groups, youth groups of men and women and Community Development Groups, capacity building of community institutions for self-governance, bottom up planning, democratic functioning with transparency and accountability.
The project would adopt a saturation approach at the village level. Under this approach, the project would endeavour to reach to 70 per cent of the poorer households in the villages. However, the project proposes to target the poorest of the poor on priority.
The Project Implementation arrangement consist of Governance Committee at Ministry level to review the project, take up policy issues affecting the project and advise convergence of various government schemes at the level of community. At Regional level, the project would be implemented by the NERLPS through Regional Project Management Unit (RPMU) headed by a Project Director. In order to ensure participation of concerned State Governments, their Nodal Officers have been included as members in the Executive Committee (seven members) of NERLPS with Secretary, North Eastern Council as its Chairman.
The RPMU will implement the project through establishment of eight District Project Management Units (DPMUs) and district teams that will manage the field level implementation through the Project Facilitation Teams (PFTs) set up covering clusters of villages.
There will be a District Project Advisory Committee (DPAC) established jointly by the NERLPS and the State Government for oversight, monitoring and convergence with other programmes at the district level. In each Project States there shall be a State Project Coordinator (SPC) to assist the State Nodal Officer, NERLP in execution of the Project. The major role of the SPC would be in achieving convergence with various government schemes.
Source: Assam Tribune
Jammu, Nov 13 (IANS): The Jammu and Kashmir cabinet will meet here Nov 17 to discuss the revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from parts of the state, official sources said on Sunday.
The cabinet would be briefed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah about the deliberations that took place on the revocation of AFSPA at the unified command meeting here Nov 9, the sources told IANS.
The Indian Army has opposed even partial lifting of AFSPA from the state, saying it would “hamper the army’s operations against terrorists and their network in the state”.
However, Abdullah has indicated he would go ahead with the revocation of AFSPA from at least four districts of the state — Srinagar and Budgam in the Kashmir Valley and Jammu and Samba in the Jammu region.
In an interview with a news channel recently, Abdullah said the army has not operated in these areas for long and hence doesn’t need the protection of the special powers.
The current debate on the issue began after the chief minister Oct 21 announced in Srinagar that AFSPA will go from some areas of the state within days.
AFSPA, which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces, was invoked in the valley in 1990 and the Jammu region in 2001.
Source: Assam Tribune
New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS): Former Indian President APJ Abdul Kalam was frisked by the John F. Kennedy airport authorities in New York on Sep 29, resulting in a strong Indian protest and a subsequent US apology for the breach of protocol.
Eighty-year-old Kalam, who was in the US to attend a series of events, was returning home by an Air India flight when the airport authorities boarded the aircraft to frisk the former Indian President, who had already occupied his seat.
The Air India crew immediately protested the US Transportation Security Administration’s action. However, Kalam did not object and subjected himself to the security check, officials said.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishna later asked Indian Ambassador Nirupama Rao to raise the issue at the highest level in the US administration, saying it was “unacceptable” to India and that New Delhi may reciprocate the treatment to American dignitaries.
Following the protest, the US government “deeply” regretted the incident and conveyed its “utmost respect” for Kalam.
“The United States government has the utmost respect for former Indian President Abdul Kalam. We deeply regret the inconvenience that resulted for him as a result of a Sep 29 incident involving the security screening at John F. Kennedy airport in New York,” the Obama administration said in its apology.
Subsequently, charge d’affaires of the US Mission in India Ambassador Peter Burleigh personally hand-delivered a letter from the US Transportation Security Administration to former President Kalam, and a similar letter was delivered to the Indian government.
In these letters, the US government extended its apology that appropriate procedures for expedited screening of dignitaries had not been followed. “We are actively working to prevent similar incidents in the future from occurring,” it said.
Noting that the US “deeply values and appreciates” its “strong relationship and partnership” with India, the Obama administration said: “We are confident that despite this regrettable incident, we will continue working closely with India in the many areas of our strategic partnership.”
This is the second incident of frisking of Kalam by American authorities. On April 21, 2009, the former president was boarding a Continental Airways plane at the Delhi airport when the airline authorities frisked him, clearly breaching diplomatic protocol.
A protest from India and its parliament led to the airlines and the US government apologising to Kalam later.
Source: Assam Tribune