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Anil Baijal takes oath as Delhi Lieutenant Governor

Sat, 31 Dec 2016-11:32am , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Former union home secretary Anil Baijal on Saturday took oath as the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi at Raj Niwas. The oath was administered by Delhi High Court’s Chief Justice G Rohini.President Pranab Mukherjee earlier on December 28 accepted Najeeb Jung’s resignation and approved Baijal’s name as the next Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory. Baijal, a 1969 batch India Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the Union Territories cadre, was removed as union home secretary when the UPA government assumed power in May 2004.The former bureaucrat has also been the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and had headed key public sector companies like Prasar Bharti and Indian Airlines.Jung had submitted his resignation on December 22, ending a nearly three-and-half-year-long eventful tenure, mostly marked by bitter confrontation with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-led Delhi government.

NGO aims to create Zero Waste Zones in Capital

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Planting and sustaining 100 million trees by 2040 and managing as much as 50 per cent of the city’s waste by 2025 — These are some of the ambitious aims of the non-profit organisation Hara Jeevan. The group has a plan to make various places in the Capital ‘Zero Waste Zones’.Among other goals, the group also wants to spread awareness among youth and involve them in causes to save the environment. At present, their short-term goal is to manage as much as 5,000 metric tonnes of waste in Delhi by 2020.Members of the two-year-old organisation have been talking to RWAs, housing societies, and companies for the Zero Waste project. “The household waste management roadmap includes two steps — segregation of waste, and involvement of locals, including women and children, to spread awareness in the locality,” said Mohit Saini, a member of the NGO.The campaigners plan to set up a system of different bins in office premises. The waste collectors at homes will request people to give them segregated waste, following which manual segregation will also be done by the collectors. “The collected waste will then be processed. Biodegradable waste will be converted into manure, non-biodegradable waste such as paper, card board, plastic, and metal can be sold. The third category of waste includes thermocol, tetra packs, plastic wrappers, diapers, and medical waste, which cannot be sold,” Saini told DNA.The NGO is also in talks with the Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) for processing of agri-waste, such as leaves, branches, and twigs, which will be converted into manure through mesh composting, which is a major requirement for the ‘Zero Waste Zones’.“We have already started the processing of waste from temples through mesh composting,” Saini said, adding, that the processing of waste from weddings and parties will be started gradually.“A team from Hara Jeevan will train the collectors on segregation of waste, composting, harvesting, and so on. We will also send train members in shredding, mixing in pits, sieving of compost generated etc,” he added.As part of the campaign, during the initial sessions, residents and employees in a particular place will be sensitised regarding segregation, waste management, its need and benefits. This would then be followed by the collection of waste by people hired through the RWAs. These collectors already collect waste from various localities, charging Rs 100 per house. The campaigners plan to give more money to collectors for waste segregation. “We are starting from SDA C-4 block, but intend to take the campaign further to Vasant Kunj, Vasant Vihar, and different societies of Rohini Sector 13. Following this, we plan to implement the plan throughout the National Capital Region (NCR),” Saini said.All they projects have primarily been funded by the NGO, but it intends to involve corporate houses as well as see the manure to generate revenue.

Mixing locations by Air Traffic Controller led to planes’ near collision at Delhi: AAI

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Air Traffic Controller inadvertently gave instructions to one aircraft to continue taxiing through a particular taxiway mixing its location with that of another plane that led to a near collision at Delhi airport on Tuesday, according to AAI.In a major safety lapse, two aircraft of IndiGo and SpiceJet came face-to-face barely 40 metres away on the same taxiway on Tuesday but providentially a disaster was averted after commanders of both the planes alerted the air traffic control and switched off their engines. Following the incident, the air traffic controller has been derostered pending investigation.While acknowledging that an air traffic controller mixed the locations of the two flights, AAI (Airports Authority of India) today also said SpiceJet flight did not question the incomplete ATC instruction for taxiing, adding that these human errors resulted in “traffic conflict situation”. In a detailed statement, AAI said IndiGo flight (6E-769) from Lucknow to Delhi after landing on runway-28 was taxiing via taxiway ‘E2’ for parking stand 12 as advised by ATC.The departing flight of SpiceJet (SG123) was not able to take off from runway 28 due to poor visibility and waiting to return to apron for parking, it said.Accordingly, the controller instructed SG123 to taxi via taxiway C and hold short of the taxiway ‘E2’ so that the two flights were not in conflict with each other. “The traffic density being high and complex, the controller inadvertently gave instructions to SG123 to continue taxi via E to stand 130, mixing its location with the location of SG263 which was holding on another taxiway ‘E’ for departure.”However, SG123 also did not question the incomplete ATC instruction for taxiing. These human errors resulted into traffic conflict situation. However, both aircraft stopped at safe distance and there was no risk to aircraft or passengers,” AAI said.Noting that the statement is being issued to avoid any fear among air passengers after yesterday’s incident, AAI said at times it may not be possible to eliminate human error. “At times it may not be possible to eliminate human error whether it is aviation or other industries but continuous efforts are being made by AAI to offset such human errors through Standard Operating Procedures, recurrent training to the controllers and introducing technology,” it said. Further, AAI said various reports appearing in the media are giving exaggerated version stating that the passengers had close shave, indicating a distorted interpretation that may create fear in the minds of air passengers. Safety record of ATC provided by AAI at Indian airports has been very good and comparable to best in the world, it added. PTI

The Ambedkar memorial at Indu Mill still lies on paper, the project now stuck in CRZ rules

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A year after ground breaking ceremony, the proposed grand memorial of Dr Ambedkar at the defunct Indu Mill in Dadar is still lying on papers. Among other reasons such as delay in allocation of funds, finalising the deisgn and red tape at the centre and state both, the project is also stuck in CRZ rules, dna has learnt. Over 6.4 acre of the total 12 acre Mill land allocated for the memorial falls under the highly restricted coastal regulation zone (CRZ). “The government now plans to use the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority’s contentious redefinition of the Mahim shore as a bay to pull 6.4 acres of the Indu Mill land out of the CRZ,” said a highly placed official from the environment department. Tenders for the Rs450 crore project have not been floated yet because of pending issues. Rajkumar Badole, social justice minister, admitted the delay and promises to iron out the issues under his purview. “For the CRZ, the environment department and MMRDA are working to address the issue.”The government has plans to use the 12-acre mill land in Dadar’s Prabhadevi for building a grand memorial of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar with 4 lakh square feet built up area. The Memorial will have 350 feet high statue, taller than Statue of Liberty. Centre-owned National Textile Corporation (NTC), which is in possession of the land, has agreed to transfer it to the state in lieu of compensation in the form of floating floor space index or buildable space.

Yadav vs Yadav: Expelled by Akhilesh, brought back by Shivpal, Rampal Yadav returns to SP

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what could be a fresh irritant to Akhilesh Yadav, his warring uncle and state SP chief Shivpal Yadav on Monday took back in the party fold MLA Rampal Yadav, who was expelled by the chief minister in his previous capacity as head of state SP unit. “Expulsion of Rampal was revoked with the expectation that he will be devoted and disciplined,” a party release issued by SP State President Shivpal Yadav said.Rampal was expelled from the party early this year by the then state president Akhilesh for maligning party’s image and his involvements in “illegal activities and irregularities”. Shivpal subsequently took over as the state SP chief from his nephew during a bitter power struggle in the ruling party.Lucknow Development Authority (LDA) had razed the Sitapur MLA’s illegal complex in April and arrested him along with eight others, including his relative former MLA Rajendra Yadav, for allegedly attacking the LDA team.Rampal was sent to 14-day judicial custody by a lower court after he was booked under various sections of IPC including 307 (attempt to murder) and 7 Criminal Law amendment act late on Thursday night. The MLA and his supporters had also clashed with police and LDA team after which police used lathicharge to disperse the mob.In Sitapur, the MLA’s Sparsh Hotel was also demolished as it was against norms.Rampal, who is SP MLA from Biswan seat of Sitapur, was suspended from the party last year during panchayat polls after he fielded his son Jitendra for the post of district panchayat chairman against his party’s official candidate.Jitendra won the election. However, after elections, his suspension was revoked.

Kerala stares at worst drought in 115 years: State may impose water rationing system

It is the worst drought to have hit the state in 115 years. If the forecast of the State Meteorological Department is read along with the reports coming from the groundwater authorities, Kerala is on the verge of a crisis of unprecedented proportions.

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) has called upon the government to brace itself for the impending crisis. For the first time ever, the state might soon impose a water rationing system across households and industries as recommended by the KSDMA. Irrigation has already been stopped across three districts in the state.

While the state had received a deficient of 33.7 percent rains from the South West Monsoon (SWM) from July to September this year, the real villain had been the North West Monsoon (NWM) winds which has more or less deserted the state between October and December.

rain-kerala

A 61 percent shortage in rainfall in these months has come as a shocker to the weathermen dashing all hopes of a revival. Though the state government had declared Kerala a drought-hit state in October itself after the initial monsoon setback, it is only now that the severity is staring the Pinarayi Vijayan administration in its face.

The State Emergency Operations Centre in Thiruvananthapuram is now a virtual war room as inter-departmental teams comprising of revenue, water, power, district administration and crisis management brainstorm their way to mitigate the looming calamity.

“This is a 115 years return interval drought. If 2012 was a 100-year one, this is worse. Such meteorological occurrence is very rare. We had anticipated this in October itself and so the government went for the declaration. But the next few months will be just terrible for the state, something we have never seen before,’’ says Shekhar L Kuriakose, member secretary, KSDMA.

From the year 1881 to 2000, there were 66 drought years in the state. But none of them has been as severe as this one. The 2012 drought was perhaps the worst one until this year. The absence of summer showers had spoilt the party then.

But what makes this year’s dry spell even worse is evident from the numbers the Met department has. While 2012 recorded a deficient of 24 percent in the SWM, this year it is a record 33.7 percent short. Also in 2012, the NWM showers compensated for the initial loss, but this time round these rains have just stayed away — a negative 61 percent.

South-West-Monsoon-Rainfall-of-2016

Rainfall-from-1-October-to-21-December-2016

Though the rains had been scarce it had fallen widespread, perhaps the only reason, experts say the state’s flora has survived these dry months. But with no more rains on the horizon, and with the Met department completely ruling out any likelihood till the anticipated summer showers in April-May, the next few months are going to be the hardest since the state’s formation.

Water bodies will dry up, vegetation and crops will wilt on a large scale, and an immense heat wave will take over, the likes of which has never been witnessed by almost the entire population in their lifetimes, predict the experts. Scientists at the Meteorological department say their last chances of a rain revival died when the North West Monsoon stayed away. They blame the cyclonic systems that developed in the Bay of Bengal including the Vardah that hit Chennai as the primary reason for killing any chances of a depression in the Arabian Sea.

“The failure of consecutive monsoon systems is something which is very rare and that is clearly going to hit us badly. While last year we got 20 percent more rains than normal from the northwest, this time it’s running on a negative scale. So you can see what the impact will be,’’ says S Sudevan, director, State Meteorological Department.

The groundwater situation in the state too is moving from bad to worse. Though Kerala is blessed with rains more than six months in a year, the state’s topography hardly helps in retaining any of the water that falls on the ground.

The hilly terrain means water flows to the Arabian Sea in quickly unless there is a prolonged interval of heavy showers which is usually brought about by the NWM that falls in November and December. With NWM keeping away this time round, the groundwater table too has started looking dismal. Reports coming from reservoirs and dams across the state too had been far from encouraging. Almost all reservoirs have been recording fall in water level continuously.

“The water level is of course decreasing in almost all the reservoirs across the state and at this rate we will have water to last for the next 100 days only in most of the places. It is a very difficult drought situation and we are taking all measures to make it easy for the people,’’ said A Shainamol, managing director, Kerala Water Authority (KWA).

At a meeting chaired by the chief minister on 28 October, the government decided to enforce stringent controls in the use of the remaining stored water in the state. The KSDMA had suggested a 26-point agenda which the state government has put in place with the motto of ‘3Rs’ – ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ water. An order of preference has also been decided for use of water till May 2017 with drinking water at the top followed by use of water for household purpose and then for industrial use.

For the first time ever ‘water kiosks’ would be set up per grama panchayat. Tanker lorries, the usual mode of supplying drinking water will cater only to high water scarce areas. While the government has banned the use of fresh and potable water supplied by the public system for washing motor vehicles, industries that tap groundwater have been issued notices to stop productivity by 75 percent till the summer showers arrive in May. Also police protection has been given to all reservoirs to ensure pollution does not take place at any cost. Water, at the moment is most precious commodity in Kerala.

Power crisis looms large

With the water crisis all set to deepen, its impact is already showing on the power sector too. While the state needs annually 24,000 Million Units (MU) of power only 7,100 MU are generated at home while the rest is sourced from outside.

The bad news is that as the rains cease and water storage decreases the internal generation will fall to 5,200 MU which means close to 2,000 MU of power will have to be again bought from outside. This will put immense financial burden on the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB), the public sector agency, which is already feeling the pinch.

At the Idukki hydroelectric project which is the largest producer of power in the state there is only enough water to generate 40 percent of its total capacity.

With all the power plants put together in the state, a stock taken on 22 December shows that only 1,988 MU of power can be generated against previous years. While in 2015 it was 2,754 MU, in 2014 it was 3,246 MU taken on the same date.

power-kerala

In 2012 alone, when the state witnessed its earlier severe drought, the generation was 1,820 MU till the same period. With four months to go in this fiscal year, the state might just witness the lowest generation ever, exposing Kerala to frequent bouts of likely power cuts.

Sensing the situation, the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission (KSERC), the regulatory body for tariff, has already proposed a usage based hike in electricity charges. From February to mitigate the losses the board will incur and to buy extra power units needed from outside to ensure that the state does not go in to darkness, consumers will have to pay an extra 10 to 50 paisa per unit depending on their consumption slabs.

For the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government in Kerala the drought has hit it at the worst time politically. The government as a part of the state’s 60th year of formation had recently launched the ‘Haritha Keralam’ or the ‘Go Green’ project. A major part of the project involves the reclamation of ponds, streams and other water bodies and use them to revive the lost agricultural heritage of the state.

With the state hurtling towards the most severe drought in its history, this pet project which had been an election promise would have to be put on the back-burner for sometime. On the ground, the common man for the moment has not been affected except a few hyper sensitive areas in Palakad, Kannur and Thrissur districts where the water table has gone down considerably. The next few weeks are immensely crucial as the direct effects of the drought will start reflecting on the lives of the people in the state like never before.

First Published On : Dec 26, 2016 14:31 IST

Delhi: Kathputli Colony residents fear relocation will kill their art

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Artistes have to shift to one-room tenements, which they say are too small to store their artworks; they are also concerned that new neighbours may object to their late-evening rehearsals.”We clearly told them to go back. We are not going to let them encroach upon our land,” says Rashmi Singh, 25, a resident of India’s largest artistes’ ghetto — Kathputli Colony, literally meaning the Puppet Colony.The 3,000-odd families in the locality have been living in constant fear of losing their homes to Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) bulldozers since last week, when DDA officials, accompanied by policemen, asked them to vacate the area and shift to a transit camp at Anand Parbat, till the colony is redeveloped.The residents of the colony include puppeteers, magicians, acrobats, storytellers, folk singers, dancers and painters, among others. Almost all the families, originally from different parts of the country, settled here nearly 45 years ago.”My grandparents, who were puppeteers, moved here from the Alwar district of Rajasthan. Since then, we have been living here. How can the DDA ask us to leave our homeland?” Rashmi asks.On Friday, Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain extended his support to Kathputli Colony residents, and wrote a letter to Union Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu, stating that residents were being “forced” to leave the area.The colony was the first slum taken up for in-situ redevelopment by the DDA in 2009, in collaboration with private firm Raheja Developers. As per the plan, families will have to move to single-room temporary houses in a resettlement area in Anand Parbat, till the construction of their permanent houses in the Kathputli Colony is completed.Nearly 500 families had moved to make-shift homes in 2013, while rest of them refused to do so, saying the DDA should give them written assurance that every family would get a house, and also sought to know the time it would take to build their permanent houses. Prabhat Singh, 52, says demolition of Kathputli Colony will also demolish their art. “Can you imagine fitting in artworks of half-a-century in a single-room flat?”he asks.He adds: “The resettlement will affect our freewheeling lifestyle. Once the artistes start living in expensive flats, their lifestyle will change and egos will inflate. We live like gypsies. Our day starts in the evening, when we start practicing, and it goes on till late in the night. Will the new neighbours allow us to organise our rehearsals?” Puran Bhatt, a resident who had been spearheading protests against the DDA, says: “The residents of Kathputli Colony have represented the country throughout the world. Even the government calls us to perform when a foreign delegation visits. But when it comes to our rights, it turns mute.”

Hundreds resist eviction from Delhi slum as new housing falls short | Reuters

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Hundreds of residents in a New Delhi slum are resisting eviction by city officials and police in the third such protest this month in India’s capital city, as anger mounts over a shortfall in housing for the urban poor, campaigners said.Evictions began this week in Kathputli Colony, home to 3,500 families of street performers and puppeteers, after authorities marked it for development as part of a plan to upgrade the city.City officials say residents were notified of the plan which involves moving them to a temporary location while a private builder constructs modest high-rise homes for a nominal sum.They say more than 500 families have already moved to temporary accommodation.”Residents were given sufficient notice. The police are on hand to maintain law and order,” said J.P. Agrawal, a principal commissioner with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).But some residents said they were not given the option of relocation, and that they received no notice of the eviction.

“No one told us it would be this week. Suddenly one morning we woke up and found hundreds of policemen in the colony,” said Dilip Bhatt, head of an artistes’ cooperative in the settlement.”We are surrounded by the police like we are criminals, and they have cut off water and power,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.Television images showed police in riot gear, holding assault rifles and shields as residents gathered around them.

About a third of India’s 1.25 billion population lives in cities, with numbers rising every year as tens of thousands of people leave villages to seek better prospects. Many end up in overcrowded urban slums.A government plan to provide housing for all by 2022 is meant to create 20 million new urban housing units and 30 million rural homes.But the slow pace of implementation is leaving thousands homeless, according to advocacy group Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN).

More than 33,000 families living in urban areas across India were forcefully evicted since January 2015 to make way for redevelopment projects, HLRN said on Thursday. In rural areas, more than 75,000 people were displaced.Only 2,776 houses were built in urban areas under the housing plan from June 2015 to August 2016, HLRN said.In several evictions, violence and arbitrary detentions have been reported, and there has been little or no consultation, advance notice, consent or compensation, HLRN said.”It is a sad irony that despite claims of providing ‘housing for all’, the government has destroyed many more homes than it has built over the last two years,” said Shivani Chaudhry, executive director of HLRN. (Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Katie Nguyen. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

First Published On : Dec 22, 2016 18:50 IST

Thane judge asks cops to be child-friendly in dealing with juveniles

Wed, 21 Dec 2016-08:04pm , Thane , PTI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A senior judge from Thane district has asked police officials to be “child-friendly” in dealing with cases involving juveniles.Principal District Judge S M Gavhane inaugurated a training programme for appointed child welfare officers and special child welfare police department officials in Thane on Tuesday.”Be child-friendly in dealing with cases involving juveniles,” Gavhane said at the programme, organised by the District Legal Aid Services Authority (DSLA).Gavhane also asked the officials to work within the frame work of law and ensure that there was no deviation of any kind. COR

Built at a cost of Rs 3,720 crore, India’s longest road tunnel ready to be commissioned

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>India has joined the league of extraordinary nations by constructing the longest road tunnel in the country on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu national highway.Built at the cost of Rs 3720 crores, the nine kilometer long Nashri road tunnel is expected to be commissioned early next year. An engineering marvel, it will mark the country’s debut in adopting the integrated tunnel control system (ITCS).The state-of-the-art ITCS system, which is hallmark of selective few countries in the world, will ensure automatic control of tunnel lighting, ventilation, communication, fire control, vehicle monitoring et al. The tunnel will cut down the distance by around 30 kilometers and will save the motorists travel time by two hours.”There was no road tunnel with nine kilometer distance in the country till now. Nashri tunnel will be the longest road tunnel in the country. Civil works inside the tunnel is complete. Only some works on the north side is pending which will be completed in next eight to 10 days. Mechanical and electric works are currently on”, MT Attarde, project director of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), told DNA.The tunnel and approach roads provide 11km alternative route for 41km of the existing national highway. In addition to the main tunnel, it will have a parallel escape tunnel for the evacuation of commuters in case of any eventuality.The two tubes of the tunnel will be internally connected through 29 cross-passages (each after a gap of 300 meters) and the escape tunnel will be used exclusively by pedestrians.”Everything is automatic. There are two ducts in the tunnel –one for fresh air and another for exhausting the polluted air. There are CCTVs, fight fighting equipment and communication systems installed all along the route. If anything goes wrong the people sitting in the control room will come to know instantly”, said AttardeThe Srinagar-Jammu national highway passes through steep mountains and hundreds of people have lost their lives in accidents and weather vagaries over the years. The authorities have taken several measures to make the journey safer and the tunnel is part of a four lane project on the national highway undertaken to give respite to the commuters.The NHAI is also constructing another major road tunnel – 8.45 km long Banihal Qazigund stretch – on Srinagar Jammu national highway, which will again cut down the distance between two towns by 16 kms.The Kashmir Valley is also being connected by a 292 km train link from Udhampur in Jammu to Baramulla in Kashmir. The Rs 11,000-crore rail link is divided into three sections — Udhampur-Katra, Katra-Qazigund and Qazigund-Baramulla.The first and third stretch of the rail link has been made operational. But the train to valley will become reality only when middle 148 km long section will be completed. This stretch will have the world’s tallest railway bridge – 359 metres tall – on Chenab river in district Reasi.

SC fiat to Centre, states to properly implement SC/ST Act

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Supreme Court has directed the Centre and state governments to strictly enforce provisions of the law while asking other competent authorities to discharge their duties to protect the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to attain the constitutional goal of equality for all citizens. The apex court delivered the judgement after holding that there has been a failure on the part of authorities concerned in complying with the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and Rules due to which the “laudable object” of it is defeated by their “indifferent attitude”.”The constitutional goal of equality for all the citizens of this country can be achieved only when the rights of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are protected. The abundant material on record proves that the authorities concerned are guilty of not enforcing the provisions of the Act. The travails of the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes continue unabated,” a bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur said. “We are satisfied that the central government and state governments should be directed to strictly enforce the provisions of the Act and we do so,” the bench, also comprising justices DY Chandrachud and L Nageswara Rao, said.Further, the bench directed the concerned national commissions to discharge their duties to protect the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It requested the National Legal Services Authority to formulate appropriate schemes to spread awareness and provide free legal aid to members of SCs and STs. “We have carefully examined the material on record and we are of the opinion that there has been a failure on the part of the concerned authorities in complying with the provisions of the Act and rules. The laudable object with which the Act had been made is defeated by the indifferent attitude of the authorities,” it said.”It is true that the state governments are responsible for carrying out the provisions of the Act as contended by the counsel for the Union of India. At the same time, the central government has an important role to play in ensuring the compliance of the provisions of the Act,” the bench said.It passed the verdict on a petition filed by National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, which was aggrieved by the “non-implementation” of the provisions of the Act and had sought directions for forthwith setting up special officers, nodal officers and protection cell as required under the Act. It had also sought directions for competent authorities to identify and notify atrocity-prone areas and to take appropriate action in accordance with law immediately and also to frame a rehabilitation package forthwith.

Cyclone Vardah: Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu assures all possible assistance to TN

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Tuesday assured all possible assistance to Tamil Nadu following Cyclone Vardah. He took to his official Twitter account to inform the same.”Will extend all possible assistance to Tamil Nadu, that suffered extensive damage. We’ll discuss contribution that could be made to TN: CM,” it read.Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has also all concerned departments not to lower their guard till the cyclone subsides completely. The National Disaster Management Authority has predicted rainfall over North interior Tamil Nadu and adjoining South Karnataka in next 12 hours. The death toll due to cyclone Vardah has risen to ten so far.Four persons have died in Chennai, two in Kancheepuram, two in Tiruvallur, one in Villupuram and one in Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu.In the wake of the cyclone, the government and private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Tiruvallur will remain closed today.

A smooth ride through demonetization drive

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>For 23 days, there was relative calm and mostly smooth drives. But when toll collection resumed on December 2, frequent travellers on India’s national highways lost many precious hours in commuting. Toll roads by definition are intended to improve the highway experience, reducing travel time and ironing out hurdles that you might encounter otherwise. Of course, that doesn’t happen, say frequent highway users, highlighting the yawning gap between what should be and what actually is. So, in the 23-day period when the government suspended toll collection on national highways following the demonetization exercise, commuting time came down drastically, travellers told DNA. Commuting time from Delhi to Jaipur, for instance, went down to just three-and-a-half hours as against the usual five hours.National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) officials, who monitor toll collection, agreed. Commuting time between Varanasi and Allahabad, too, came down to two hours during the toll-free period as against the standard three hours, an official said.Similarly, the Kishangarh-Udaipur journey was reduced by one hour to three-and-a-half hours.Senior officials from the ministry of road, transport and highways said electronic modes of payment were being increasingly encouraged at toll plazas to reduce delay at toll booths and to save fuel. Toll plazas across the country have already been equipped with more than 3,800 PoS machines. The ministry is also advising vehicles manufacturers to provide radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags in new vehicles in accordance with the practice in several developed countries.This is still in its infant steps though and might take some time to show results. NHAI sources say more than 90 percent of commuters prefer using cash for toll payments.More on tollsAn IIM Calcutta-Transport Corporation of India study on ‘Operational efficiency of freight transportation by road in India’ has calculated that India incurs $14.7 billion and $6.6 billion annually due to additional fuel consumption costs and transportation delays, respectively.The All India Motor Transport Congress had already requested the ministry of road, transport and highways to do away with toll collection at regular intervals on the highway since the delay leads to loss of both time and revenue, said general secretary Naveen Gupta. “We are not against paying toll. But instead of frequently stopping at toll booths to pay the amount, we have requested the government to either charge it as additional cess on fuel or collect an annual fee from us. We have also asked the government to make private vehicles free of toll cost as they contribute only 16 percent of vehicles on highways,” Gupta told DNA, citing earlier instances when increasing cess on fuel substantially brought up revenue collection.The concept of charging toll fees started in 1998 as part of the PPP model with blanket agreements stretching up to 35 years. Toll rates are revised (usually increased) annually based on the wholesale price index (WPI).Citing examples of the toll plazas linking Delhi to Noida and Gurgaon, Gupta said both often manipulate numbers. They show fewer vehicles passing through and give away duplicate slips to vehicles, encouraging corruption.

Cyclone Vardah to cross Bay of Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on alert

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With severe cyclone Vardah expected to cross the Bay of Bengal coast in the next two days, the Andhra Pradesh government on Saturday placed the administrative machinery in SPS Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts on high alert to meet any eventuality. Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu conducted a teleconference with officials of different departments this morning and directed them to take all precautionary measures. “I have cancelled my trip to the Gulf (scheduled to begin tomorrow). I will constantly monitor the situation,” he told the officials.The cyclone is currently 840 km south-southeast of Vishakhapatnam. The sea continued to be very rough around the Andhra coast, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. It moved west-northwestwards in the past few hours at the speed of 17 kmph. The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards and intensify further during the next 24 hours, the NDMA said. “The cyclonic storm is very likely to maintain its peak intensity up to evening of December 11, 2016,” NDMA added.According to the weather forecast, the cyclone may make a landfall somewhere between Kavali and Machilipatnam and under its impact rainfall is likely in the south coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. “Keep adequate stocks of food and also cash. Electricity poles and cement should also be kept ready for any emergency,” the Chief Minister directed the officials. The Tamil Nadu Meteorological Department has predicted that it will make a landfall between Nellore and Machilipatnam on the evening of December 12. As a result, Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvannamalai are expected to receive heavy rainfall.

World Bank cancels US $100 million loan for Pakistan

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The World Bank has cancelled a US $100 million loan to Pakistan for a natural gas efficiency project due to no progress in achieving the development objectives and a lack of interest on the part of the gas distribution company. The project, which was to be carried out by Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) in its distribution areas in Karachi, interior Sindh and Balochistan, was aimed at enhancing the supply of natural gas by reducing physical and commercial losses of gas in the pipeline system.A World Bank report said the failure of the project led to its closure and, as a result, the levels of unaccounted-for gas (UFG) remained high while continuing to drain the precious natural resource, Dawn reported. Illegal connections, one of the drivers of UFG, were increasing at a rate faster than the countervailing reduction of technical losses.Justifying its rating of “unsatisfactory”, the World Bank report said it should have exercised caution and not proceeded with a project that did not receive sustained interest from the board and management of SSGC, which had insufficient ownership in the project. Against the original commitment of US $200m, the bank had disbursed only US $0.25m.The ministry of petroleum and natural gas was keen on the reduction of UFG, which was on the rise at the time of the project preparation and increased further during the project implementation phase. Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra) had imposed a penalty on gas companies for UFG beyond the benchmark of 4.5%.Bureaucratic processes within SSGC also contributed to procurement delays and bid expiration. The SSGC management attributed the failure of the project to the procurement process. Most of UFG comes from dilapidated or deteriorating pipelines, leaking joints, gas theft in the form of tampered-with metres, illegal connections and malfunctioning metering equipment.The World Bank undertook a strategic review of the project, which identified strong implementation challenges with no progress towards achieving the development objectives of the project as well as no disbursement against project-related activities.

Cash still the preferred mode of payment at toll plazas

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite the government’s increasing push for digital payments, cash continued to remain the preferred mode of payment at the toll booths. Days after toll collection at national highways resumed after a 23-day hiatus post demonetization, more than 90 per cent of the commuters paid toll fee in cash. According to National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) sources, almost 92 per cent of the vehicles preferred paying their toll fee using cash on December 6, of which around 78 per cent used notes of lower denominations.About 16 per cent of the commuters used the new Rs 2,000 notes and the old Rs 500 notes, a top official said, adding that the majority used the old notes. Similarly, on December 4 and 5, around 95 per cent of commuters paid the toll fee using cash, of which 84 per cent used lower denominations. Despite equipping the toll plazas in advance with multiple digital payment options, including 3,800 point of sale (PoS) machines, limited vehicles chose the mode, government officials said. Sources informed that only about 3.69 per cent of vehicles paid their toll fee using the Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) facility, while about 2 per cent of the vehicles used debit/credit cards and other modes of e-payment to pay the toll fee. Even on December 4 and 5, only 3 per cent of the vehicles have paid the toll fee using the RFID facility and nearly the same percentage of commuters used debit/credit cards and other modes of e-payments. The Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways is advising vehicle manufacturers to provide RFID facility in all new vehicles. With RFID tags on, vehicles can pass toll tax booths without having to stop. The toll amount is deducted from the RFID card, which can later be recharged. The government has already installed PoS machines in more than 95 per cent of the toll plazas. NHAI collects an average Rs 51.59 crore per day from the toll booths.

Delhi High Court seeks Centre’s stand on fixing MRP of coronary stents

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre as to why the maximum retail price (MRP) of coronary stents, used to treat narrowed or weakened arteries in the heart, has not been fixed despite these devices being included in the national essential list of medicines (NLEM).”What do you have to say with regard to fixation of MRP of coronary stents?” a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked while issuing notice to the Centre and seeking its response by December 22, the next date of hearing in the matter. The order came on a PIL claiming that the rate of the coronary stents has not been fixed despite it being included in NLEM 2015 by way of a notification issued on July 19 this year.The petition, which has been moved by a lawyer, has alleged that the government and the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) are being “insensitive and irresponsible” towards the people by not taking any steps to fix the price of such stents which are allegedly being sold at higher rates in the country.The petitioner, Birender Sangwan, has claimed that people in all age groups in the country suffer from heart ailments requiring use of stents and not all of them can afford this treatment. He has sought a direction to the NPPA “to control the rate and decide a particular maximum retail price (MRP) of the coronary stents”.The petition also seeks a direction to the Drug Controller General of India “for providing prompt availability of the coronary stents at medical stores to enable patients to have a quick access” to these devices.

Arjuna awardee shooter booked on rape charge

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Arjuna awardee shooter Sanjeev Rajput has been booked on rape charges following a complaint by a fellow shooter in the Capital’s Chanakyapuri police station on Sunday.The victim, in her complaint, accused 35-year-old shooter of raping her last month on the promise of marriage. She has claimed to know the Olympian shooter for the last two years. She alleged that Rajput spiked her drink with sedatives before raping her.The victim belong to Uttar Pradesh and as per the police “her medical examination has confirmed rape”. Going by the victim’s account, Rajput had offered her a sedative-laced soft drink after paying her a visit on the occasion of her birthday last month. She further alleged that it was only after she fell unconscious that he raped her. After the incident, Rajput refused to acknowledge the promise of marriage and even stopped answering her calls.“He even refused to acknowledge the promise of marriage and threatened to kill her with a rifle and make it look like an accident.Rajput was part of the Indian 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympic teams. And he also got an Olympic quota for 2016 Rio in the men’s Rifle 3-Position but National Rifle Association of India (NRAI) decided to use his quota for trap shooter Kynan Chenai.It was Sports Authority of India (SAI) which came to Doha Asian Games bronze medallist rescue at this critical point of his career and offered him a coach’s job. Rajput, who left his Indian Navy in 2014, finally joined SAI in August.

Kerala Vigilance chief Jacob Thomas seeks whistleblowers’ protection for self

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In an unusual action, Kerala Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau chief and DGP Jacob Thomas, who has taken a tough stand against corrupt politicians including ex-ministers and bureaucrats, has sought whistleblowers protection for himself from the Centre.Thomas has sent a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Chief Secretary SM Vijayanand requesting them to urge the Centre “to grant him adequate protection from being harassed and put under any kind of pressure while exposing departmental corruption and irregularities by public functionaries,” official sources said.According to Whistleblowers Protection Act 2011, the “Central government shall ensure that no person or a public servant who has made a disclosure under this Act is victimised by initiation of any proceedings or otherwise merely on the ground that such person or a public servant had made a disclosure or rendered assistance in inquiry under this Act.” The Act, which received Presidential assent on May 9, 2014, also states that if any person was being victimised or likely to be victimised for making disclosures or rendered assistance under the Act, he may, file an application before the Competent Authority seeking redress in the matter.”And such authority shall take such action, as deemed fit and may give suitable directions to the concerned public servant or the public authority, as the case may be, to protect such person from being victimised or avoid his victimisation,” it says.The demand of the senior most IPS officer in the state assumes significance in the wake of a series of inquiries launched by the anti-corruption watchdog, including those against some top bureaucrats.Interestingly, Thomas was the first IPS officer in the state to get whistleblowers protection from the Union government in 2005 after he brought to light corruption in the Kerala State Civil Supplies Corporation while serving as its managing director.Advocate DB Binu, a state-based RTI activist, said even two years after the much-awaited Whistleblowers Protection Act came into existence, it was yet to be fully operational in the country. “There is no concrete system to protect whistleblowers in our country right now. If a person gets threat and harassment for whistleblowing a corruption, will anybody else be ready to follow his footsteps?” he said.”Whistleblowers play a significant role in anti-corruption drives. They face lot of threats and harassment while exposing corruption. This is much high in the case if an insider, who whistleblows about the corruption of a system by standing within it,” he said.

Maharashtra tells Bombay HC it will bring its own rules on child adoption

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Maharashtra government has informed the Bombay High Court that it intends to introduce its own rules on child adoption but until they are brought into force, the existing model rules framed by the Centre shall be operative in the state.This was stated in an affidavit filed by the state government on November 24 before a bench headed by Chief Justice Dr Manjula Chellur, which was hearing a petition filed by Santosh Digambar Honkarape and others. According to the state government, the Centre had its own set of rules on child adoption but Maharashtra intended to frame its own rules by bringing about modifications in the Central rules.The Centre had told Bombay High Court in May this year that within two months it will frame model rules for the states to follow before Central Adoption Resources Authority (CARA) brings out new guidelines for adoption and added that in the meanwhile, 2015 guidelines issued by CARA will continue.Thereafter, the Centre framed its own rules on child adoption and informed this to the high court which in turn asked the state government whether it would accept this or bring its own rules.Now that Maharashtra has decided to frame its own rules, it would set into motion the process for introducing this by seeking approval of both the houses of legislature, said the state government affidavit. CARA had earlier come out with guidelines after being directed by the Supreme Court in a similar case.Meanwhile, the high court, on November 24, directed CARA to come out with a set of guidelines once again so far as the adoption procedure contemplated in the 2015 Act. The matter has been posted for hearing on January 13, 2017.

Demonetisation: Using Aadhar to exchange cash? State purpose on photocopy to prevent misuse, says UIDAI

New Delhi: With Aadhaar is being used widely by people in the wake of the demonetisation exercise, Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has cautioned the public to clearly indicate the purpose of providing photocopies of their Aadhaar letter to prevent misuse of the same.

“Photocopies of the Aadhaar letter are being submitted by the general public to banks. We urge them to clearly indicate the purpose for which they are submitting the same along with the date and time. This actually is a good practice whenever they submit photocopies of documents,” UIDAI Chief Executive Officer Ajay Bhushan Pandey said in a statement.

atm-queueatm-queue

He, however, noted that since Aadhaar is a digitally verifiable identity and can be authenticated anytime and anywhere, the chances of its misuse are limited.

Following the decision to make old Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 bank notes invalid, the government has allowed citizens to get currency of up to Rs 4,500 per person changed in cash from bank branches and post offices.

Along with filling the specified form, citizens are also required to provide a proof of identity that includes Aadhaar, PAN card or voter ID card.

UIDAI has also launched a revamped version of its toll-free helpline number — 1947 — to help residents get quick access to information about Aadhaar.

The helpline will be available 24×7 throughout the year on VRS mode, while call centre agents will be available from 0700 HRS to 2300 HRS (Monday to Saturday). On Sundays, agents will answer calls from 0800 HRS to 1700 HRS, it added.

On an average, the helpline number handles about 1.5 lakh calls per day.

“Our toll-free helpline 1947, which has been revamped to handle more incoming calls, brings Aadhaar closer to everyone. It can be accessed through mobile or landline and will be especially beneficial in these times when the Aadhaar number is being increasingly used in the banking sector to identify individuals,” Pandey said.

The helpline will among other things, enable residents to locate an Aadhaar Enrolment Centre, know generation status of an Aadhaar number (after enrolment) and help retrieve Aadhaar details of any person who has lost his/her Aadhaar or hasn’t received it through post.

First Published On : Nov 16, 2016 23:10 IST

Manohar Parrikar has not changed our nuclear policy, he only stirred a storm in a teacup

Has India changed its nuclear doctrine? If one goes by the reactions of some political parties and a section of the press, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has jeoparadised India’s chances of joining the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the prospects of nuclear commerce with leading nuclear countries of the world. Because, while answering a question in a book-release function on 10 November, he counter-questioned why the country’s policy of “No First Use” of its nuclear weapons should not change.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTIDefence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The problem with these reactions is the fact that they are based on a half-truth. The other half of the truth is that in the same answer, Parrikar made it absolutely clear what he was saying was his personal opinion and that it was not the viewpoint of the government of India. He reiterated that India’s nuclear policy remained unchanged under the Modi-government. Well, one could argue that being the defence minister, he should have avoided his private view at a public function, but to say that the rest of the world will take the minister’s private view as the government of India’s changed policy is preposterous. In fact, the pointlessness of such a logic was manifested on Friday (11 November) when Japan, arguably the world’s most sensitive country on nuclear issues, signed a formal nuclear agreement with India, an agreement that will greatly facilitate the nuclear commerce with the United States as well (since American nuclear companies have significant Japanese components that could not be transferred without Japan’s consent).

Global arrangements or regimes are based on the declared policies of the governments of the member-states, not on the individual pronouncements of the ministers and ruling party members. In fact, the in its manifesto for 2014 general elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had promised to review India’s nuclear doctrine. But has it prevented countries like Australia, Canada and now Japan entering nuclear pacts with the Modi-government?
Similarly, it is a highly faulty notion that gaining membership in the NSG is dependent on a country’s NFU policy. We are already a declared nuclear weapon power. We are building our case as a responsible nuclear power with an impeccable record of non-proliferation and a well-laid out nuclear command structure. The international community is now working towards no further nuclear tests and non-proliferation, which is as different from how to use one’s weapons as chalk from cheese.

In fact, in my considered view, the Modi government should go for a formal review of the country’s NFU policy. Let me explain why. In the strict sense of the term, India does not have a proper nuclear doctrine. I think that it is a part of our strategic culture to keep things and policies as ambiguous as possible, leaving them to many and different interpretations.

What we have actually is a “draft nuclear doctrine”, released on 17 August 1999, by the then national security advisor Brajesh Mishra. Some clarifications on this draft were “shared with the public” on 4 January 2003, through a press release by the then Cabinet Committee on Security. I do not think any major power will ever deal with such a sensitive issue in such a cavalier manner.

Be that as it may, India’s draft doctrine at the moment has the following key features:

• While committed to the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory nuclear disarmament, India, till the realisation of this goal, will possess nuclear weapons.

• India will build and maintain a credible minimum deterrent.

• India will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states.

• India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. But if it is attacked by nuclear weapons in its territory or on Indian forces anywhere, then its nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage to the aggressor.

• In the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will also retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons.

• India will continue strict controls on the export of nuclear and missile-related materials and technologies, participation in the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiations, and continued observance of the moratorium on nuclear tests.

• India’s Nuclear Command Authority comprises a Political Council and an Executive Council. The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister. It is the sole body which can authorise the use of nuclear weapons. The Executive Council is chaired by the National Security Advisor. It provides inputs for decision making by the Nuclear Command Authority and executes the directives given to it by the Political Council.

It may be noted here that in the clarifications that were given in 2003, there were two important changes that were made to the draft doctrine of 1999. The draft doctrine had said: “Any nuclear attack on India and its forces shall result in punitive retaliation with nuclear weapons to inflict damage unacceptable to the aggressor.” The 2003 clarifications said: “Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage to the aggressor.” The emphasis here should be given to the addition of the word “massive”.

The second important change in the 2003 clarifications was that a new scenario was added under which India would retaliate with nuclear weapons, and that was the attack through biological or chemical weapons on India or on Indian forces anywhere.

What emerges from the above is that India’s nuclear weapons posture, after the country went officially nuclear in 1998, did undergo changes during the Vajpayee regime itself. The point is that beliefs and principles are not immutable. Nations and their leaderships change with the efflux of time. And circumstances require their national doctrines to be revisited, reviewed and recast if deemed necessary.

Our NFU policy really needs a healthy debate. The United States or for that matter other western nuclear powers such as Britain and France do not have the NFU policy. Russia, which initially had NFU pledge, has withdrawn it long ago. China, another country that professed NFU policy, is now silent on it. Its biannual defence white paper (2013) omitted for the first time a promise never to use its own nuclear weapons first. Even otherwise, China had asserted before that its NFU would not apply against countries that are in possession of the Chinese territory. That means that China’s NFU does not apply to India as it claims over our lands in Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh.

That leaves Pakistan, our other major adversary. But Pakistan too does not believe in NFU. It has developed “Nasr” ballistic missiles with a range of 60 km that is capable of carrying nuclear warheads. These have been specifically built with the intention of targeting not only Indian cities but also Indian military formations on the battlefield.

The concept of NFU has other problems as well. For one, imagine that there is a conventional war between India and Pakistan (or for that matter China), and Indian forces target at military establishments within the enemy territory. They do not know which of these establishments are nuclear or nonnuclear and in the process of their operations, they hit at an enemy target that turns out to be a nuclear one and the consequent results are strategically horrible. Will it mean that India did not observe its NFU pledge?

For another, imagine also a situation when the Indian forces engaged in conventional wars simultaneously against China and Pakistan find it difficult to carry on. And here, as the situation challenges the very integrity of the country, should one not exercise the nuclear option? After all, we have already modified our nuclear posture in the events of chemical and biological attacks. Why should then we tie our hands with the NFU when faced with multi-fronted attacks on our territories or forces?

Thirdly, a review is also due on the concept of our “massive” nuclear retaliation when attacked by nuclear weapons, particularly when Pakistan is openly preparing to use what it says tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) through “Nasr” missiles against India’s superior conventional forces. Now, suppose, one of our Army’s tank columns is attacked by Pakistan’s TNW. Should then India go for a massive retaliation to destroy the whole of Karachi or Lahore? Will not that be highly disproportionate and unethical? If so, should India not go for a proportionate retaliation with its own TNW?

And if we really go with our TNWs, then there will be a new problem. By their very nature, the TNWs and their eventual uses are better determined on the spot, that is, on the battlefield itself, by the military commanders concerned. How then will that go with our strict provision that it is only the Prime Minister who will decide when and where to use our nuclear weapons?

All these are very tricky but vital questions. But answers to them cannot wait anymore. The future Indian government cannot sit on them.

First Published On : Nov 11, 2016 21:39 IST

No jail term but 3-year ban for celebs endorsing misleading ads: GoM

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Diluting proposed penalties on endorsement of misleading ads, a GoM headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has dropped a panel’s recommendation for jail term to celebrities found guilty and decided to ban such offenders for up to three years.Now, the Consumer Affairs Ministry will move a cabinet note seeking approval for moving these additional amendments to the new Consumer Protection Bill 2015, which has already been introduced in Lok Sabha to repeal the 30-year-old Consumer Protection Act.Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan is hoping to see the passage of this bill in the Winter Session of Parliament beginning from November 16. “In a recent meeting, the Group of Ministers discussed about the Parliamentary panel’s recommendation to impose jail term for celebs endorsing misleading ads. Since no country has such a stringent penalty, the GoM decided that instead of imposing jail term, they should be banned from endorsements,” a senior government official said.The GoM recommended that the first time offenders should be fined Rs 10 lakh and banned for one year, while the second and subsequent offenders should be fined Rs 50 lakh and banned for up to three years, the official said.A Parliamentary panel had recommended a fine of Rs 10 lakh and a jail term of up to two years for first time offence, while a fine of Rs 50 lakh and imprisonment of five years for second and subsequent offence.”Incorporating the GoM suggestions, the ministry will soon move a cabinet note on the new bill,” he said.The GoM has also approved other recommendations of the panel to impose hefty penalty for adulteration besides license suspension/cancellation as well as inclusion of deficiency in services in product liability.It has agreed to provide an enabling provision to make rules to regulate e-commerce and direct selling, and remove overlap of powers of Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) and the Consumer Fora. It has also removed a provision for penalty on consumers for frivolous complaints.

Rs 1000, Rs 500 notes band: Govt allows currency at toll plazas till 11 November

New Delhi: To avoid long queues at toll plazas Pan India, the government on Wednesday asked them to accept the old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes till 11 November midnight. The decision was taken after National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) Chairman Raghav Chandra took up the matter with the Prime Minister’s Office after being flooded by calls from states over the grim situation at toll plazas.

“We have issued instructions to all 365 toll plazas across the country to immediately accept currency denominations of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 till 11 November midnight to ease the situation of jams and long queues at toll booths,” Chandra told PTI.

Representational image. PTIRepresentational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Chandra said he contacted the PMO as well as the Finance Ministry to apprise them of the condition at the plazas after being inundated by calls from commuters as well as state government officials over traffic congestion.

“Several Chief Secretaries including Chief Secretaries of Haryana and Gujarat besides commuters contacted us about the situation. Many travelers narrated their plights,” he said. On being apprised of the situation, the government allowed toll plazas to accept Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denominations.

“NHAI has issued instructions to all concessionaires and developers including people managing toll plazas to abide by the instructions to ensure that travelers do not face any problems due to traffic hazards,” he said.

The Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 denomination notes are legally accepted tenders at plazas till 11 November midnight, he explained.

“Meanwhile we are strictly monitoring the situation and keeping a close eye so that commuters can travel without any inconveniences,” Chandra said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi last night announced the decision to ban Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes from last midnight.

Declaring a “decisive” war against black money and corruption, Modi also listed a raft of steps to assure commoners that their money is safe. In his first televised address to the nation two-and-a- half-years after assuming office, he had announced a 50-day window from November 10 to December 30 for those having these notes to deposit them in their bank and post office accounts “without any limit”.

Delhi pollution: Do you have a disaster management plan, SC asks Centre

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Taking note of the enormity of alarming rise in pollution levels, Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to respond within 48 hours and give details about its policy or a “disaster management plan” to deal with the prevailing situation in the national capital region.The court also considered the submission on alleged differences among various authorities and between Centre and the Delhi government and asked them to devise a “common minimum programme” at least for taking steps to deal with the pollution menace.”We want to know whether you (Centre) have any disaster management plan. Do you have a policy which deals with graded responses to the situation and provides what action would be taken at which stage? What is the protocol? Now the time has come where we need to have this,” a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices A K Sikri and S A Bobde said.During the 30-minute long hearing, the bench sought to know from Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar, representing the Centre, about the policy to deal with the rising pollution levels and asked whether the Centre monitored the situation.There should be a policy with regard to steps to be taken at every stage such as at level one, particular decisions would be taken and at level two, odd-even scheme would be implemented and at level three, schools would be closed, the bench suggested while giving illustrations on possible graded responses to emerging situations. The Solicitor General said unregulated “commercialisation” and “industrialisation” of Delhi was one of the reasons for the present situation.”In last 60 years, Delhi has grown in such a manner where there has been unregulated urbanisation. The vehicles have grown in numbers. If you cover a distance in one hour and 20 in contrast to 20 minutes, then it adds to pollution,” he said and sought two days time from the court to seek instructions from the Centre in the matter.Meanwhile, Delhi government informed the court that it has so far acquired six vacuum cleaning vehicles and two have been already made functional. At the outset, Aparajita Singh, who along with senior advocate Harish Salve have been appointed as amicus curiae in the matter, apprised the court about the prevailing situation in Delhi and NCR and referred to the report filed by the apex court-appointed committee, Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (PEA).Sunita Narain of EPCA also termed the situation as a case of “public health emergency” and said it required close monitoring to ensure “stringent” enforcement of earlier directions of the Supreme Court.On monitoring and restricting the inflow of trucks whose final destination is not Delhi from entering the capital, the bench inquired from the counsel of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh about the procedures and protocol being followed.”How do you regulate this? Do you ask vehicle drivers as to where they are going? What are the training given to policemen or toll operators,” the bench asked, adding “what establishment have you (states) set up for diversion of traffic before they enter Delhi?”The bench then inquired about the reported fact that the Delhi government has “severe” staff limitations to carry out such diversions. Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the AAP-led Delhi government, apprised the bench about the actions taken in pursuance of the apex court directions on the issue.”So far, we have acquired six vacuum cleaning vehicles. Two have been made functional,” she said.The bench enquired about the total requirement and when the government came out with the tender notice.”Do you have any estimate as to how many such vehicles you want to get to deal with the situation,” the bench asked.Sixteen such vehicles are to be purchased, she said, adding “vacuum cleaning vehicles can be used on main roads and cannot be used on narrow arterial roads”.Amicus curiae Singh, during the hearing, apprised the apex court about the complaint redressal mechanism and said when such complaints are received on EPCA’s website, it forwards them to authorities concerned for redressal.

Byculla Zoo penguin’s death: Maharashtra Lokayukta summons BMC officials for hearing

Mumbai: A day after the Central Zoo Authority demanded an explanation on the death of a female Homboldt Penguin in Mumbai Zoo, the Maharashtra Lokayukta has summoned BMC officials for a hearing on Friday, an official said.

Representational image. News18

Representational image. News18

“The concerned officials of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have been asked to attend a hearing on the issue before Lokayukta Justice ML Tahilyani tomorrow,” said BMC’s Leader of Opposition Pravin Chheda.

“I had written a letter to the Lokayukta yesterday, highlighting the massive corruption and other irregularities in the acquisition of these endangered Humboldt Penguins of which one died on 23 October. The Lokayukta has taken note and called a hearing on the issue tomorrow,” Chheda told IANS.

After the hearing, Lokayukta Justice Tahilyani is likely to make a visit to the special air-conditioned enclosure where the remaining seven Humboldt Penguins, including four females and three males are in quarantine, he added.

In an apparent damage-control exercise, the BMC late on Thursday issued a ‘health bulletin’ on the seven birds at Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, or Mumbai Zoo.

“The seven Humboldt Penguins appear healthy and no abnormal signs are observed. All birds are observed to be feeding well and are active,” Director In-Charge of Mumbai Zoo Sanjay Tripathi said in a statement.

Yesterday, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) Member-Secretary DN Singh sought a reply from Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta on the issue and related points raised in a representation made by the Humane Society International, India (HSI).

The HSI questioned whether the Coex Aquarium in Seoul, South Korea is registered with the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) as a captive breeding centre for Humboldt Penguins and if the BMC had secured all the requisite import certification.

The HSI also raised doubts on the suitability and appropriateness for housing and care of the Humboldt Penguins at the zoo, under the norms prescribed by the CITES.

Since the death of the female flightless bird occurred due to Septicemia while in quarantine points to poor standards of care at the Mumbai Zoo, the CZA has asked the BMC to provide a detailed report on the autopsy carried out on the dead Humboldt Penguin by this weekend.

A major political row had erupted in Maharashtra after the death of the female bird, with most parties questioning the wisdom of keeping the endangered species in the harsh tropical climate of Mumbai.

The penguins, flown in from Seoul on 26 July, are undergoing an acclimatization spell in a specially-designed air-conditioned enclosure before going on public display later this month.

After the death of Dory, all major political parties have demanded that the remaining seven Humboldt Penguins be returned as they can survive only in cold regions and the warm Mumbai climate does not suit them.

A pet project of Yuva Sena chief Aditya Thackeray, son of Shiv Sena President Uddhav Thackeray, the Congress and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena said these flightless birds were brought here for someone’s “childish stubbornness” and the mute bird died.

Byculla Zoo penguin’s death: BMC confiscates Rs 1.40 crore deposit of contractor

Mumbai: Following the recent death of an 18-month-old Humboldt penguin in Mumbai zoo, the civic body has confiscated Rs 1.40 crore deposit of the contractor responsible for construction of the bird’s enclosure.

In another development, the Central Zoo Authority has written to Byculla Zoo officials seeking a status report on the seven remaining penguins in the zoo.

A senior official of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) informed about this decision during a meeting of the standing committee of the house on Wednesday and said the decision to forfeit the deposit was taken last week.

Eight Humboldt penguins were brought to the Byculla zoo. News18

Eight Humboldt penguins were brought to the Byculla zoo. News18

BMC’s Additional Municipal Commissioner Sanjay Deshmukh, who presided over the meeting, informed the house saying, “We have come to know that there have been issues in the joint venture between the contractor — Highway Construction company — and SIVAT services.”

SIVAT is an expert in aquatic life support system. BMC had a contract with Highway Construction, which claimed to have a joint venture with SIVAT.

“For constructing a penguin enclosure, we had awarded a contract to Highway Construction company, which claimed to have forged a venture with SIVAT services. But, in our inquiry we found that there was no such joint venture and therefore, we decided to forfeit the deposit (of the construction company),” a civic official said.

Eight Humboldt penguins were brought from South Korea to the Byculla zoo here in July this year and the procuring agency was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of these aquatic flightless birds for the first three months. However, one penguin died on 23 October of bacterial infection and liver dysfunction.

Meanwhile, in a fresh development, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), the central government body that regulates and oversees the functioning of zoos in the country, has written to Byculla Zoo authorities and asked for a status report on the seven remaining penguins in the zoo.

Confirming the move, Byculla Zoo director Sanjay Tripathi said, “We have received a correspondence from CZA and would submit the report soon.”

He also said that the zoo administration has not received the detailed postmortem report from the Bombay Veterinary college, and that they were following the same.

Notably, MNS corporator Sandeep Deshpande had earlier written to Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta demanding that the remaining seven Humboldts be immediately sent back to ensure their survival.

Humboldt Penguins can only thrive in cold climate and MNS and environmentalists had been protesting against acquiring such exotic creatures right from the beginning.

Tiger ‘Kingfisher’ found dead in Kanha Tiger Reserve; toll reaches 23 since Jan

A tiger, in Kanha Tiger Reserve, popularly known as ‘Kingfisher’ was found dead, taking the death toll to 23 in Madhya Pradesh. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A tiger, popularly known as ‘Kingfisher’, was found dead in core area of Kanha Tiger Reserve, taking the death toll of big cats in Madhya Pradesh in the last 10 months to 23, KTR officials said on Saturday.Twenty-two deaths of tigers, three due to poisoning in the core area of Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) on March 28, one each due to electrocution in the wild of Chhindwara and KTR were reported on January 22 and October 22 respectively, have been reported by National Tiger Conservation Authority’s (NTCA) website site. Yesterday’s death at the KTR is yet to be reported by the NTCA. This is second of death of tiger at the KTR in the last one week. One death was reported there on October 22. “The tiger, aged around 6, was found dead in the Mukki range in core area of the park on Friday. The postmortem report of the striped animal revealed that it died due to infighting over territory with another big cat,” KTR field director Sanjay Shukla told PTI.”We have recently arrested poachers who killed the tiger which was found dead on October 22,” he added. A maximum number of nine tigers have died in the KTR followed by eight in Pench Tiger Reserve (PTR) in last 10 months in the state. Shukla contended that majority of tigers in the KTR have died due to natural deaths. The first tiger death was reported from PTR’s buffer zone on January 2 this year.

Bengaluru steel flyover: NGT grants stay on project work for four weeks

Chennai: The southern bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday restrained the Bengaluru
Development Authority (BDA) from proceeding with the steel flyover project for four weeks.

Granting an interim stay on the flyover proposal that kicked up controversies, the NGT directed the BDA not to carry on with the project work for four weeks and posted the matter to 25 November for further hearing.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The tribunal granted interim stay on petitions from Neelaiah, Citizen Action Forum and others. The petitions opposed the project on environmental grounds.

The Rs 1,761 crore project of the BDA is to construct a 6.72 km long, six-lane steel flyover between Basaveshwara Circle and Hebbal to decongest traffic. However, the project faced opposition as it allegedly involved felling of over 800 trees. Farmers too had opposed the project. Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium too had reportedly said that ramps may block the view of the sky.

As protests mounted against the project, Bengaluru Development Minister KJ George had last week dismissed it as a “political gimmick” and it had taken the decision after consultations with experts and “due diligence”.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had defended the proposed construction of steel flyover calling it “totally transparent” and claimed the project was proposed in 2010 and announced in 2014-15 budget.

Jigisha murder case: Delhi HC seeks response of death row convicts

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Delhi High Court on Tuesday sought the reply of two death row convicts in the 2009 Jigisha Ghosh murder case, whose case file has been sent by the trial court in Delhi for confirmation of capital punishment.A bench of justices Gita Mittal and P S Teji also sought personal presence of convicts Ravi Kapoor and Amit Shukla, who were handed down death penalty by the trial court. The bench, which has fixed the matter for further hearing on November 24, also issued production warrants to the two.The sessions judge had sent the case record relating to the conviction and death sentence of Kapoor and Shukla to the high court. It is mandatory for a trial court to refer a death penalty case to a high court for confirmation of the sentence within 30 days of the pronouncement of the verdict. The trial court had on July 14 held the duo guilty for murder of 28-year-old IT executive Jigisha Ghosh and other counts.While sentencing the two to death on August 22, the trial court had said the girl was killed in a “cold-blooded, inhuman and cruel manner” and “brutally mauled to death”. It had said the magnitude and brutality exhibited by the convicts made the case ”rarest of rare”, warranting capital punishment for Kapoor and Shukla. The third offender Baljeet Malik was given reprieve from the gallows for his good conduct in jail.The three have challenged their conviction and order on sentence awarded by the trial court, on which the police were asked by the high court to file their response. Kapoor and Shukla in their appeal have said the trial court has “wrongly held that the case falls in the category of rarest of rare”.Malik, challenging his conviction and sentence of life term through his counsel Amit Kumar, has said the trial court judge has “failed to appreciate that there were contradictions and discrepancies in the depositions of prosecution witnesses (PWs) and, therefore conviction and the sentence awarded to him is liable to be set aside”.Shukla said the trial court has committed grave error by awarding death penalty to him, simply on the basis of biased jail/probation report about his client.The trial court had imposed varying fines on the convicts. While Kapoor was slapped a fine of Rs 1.2 lakh due to his inability to pay, Shukla and Malik were directed to pay Rs 2.8 lakh and Rs 5.8 lakh respectively as the pre-sentencing report had suggested they were financially strong.The trio are also facing trial for the murder of TV journalist Soumya Viswanathan, killed a year before Jigisha. It had also directed that out of the total fine of Rs 9.8 lakh, Rs 6 lakh be paid to the parents of the victim, and an adequate compensation amount be decided by the District Legal Service Authority (South).The trial court had held the three guilty under several sections of IPC, including 302 (murder), 364 (abducting for murder), 201 (destruction of evidence), 394 (voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating) and 471 (using as genuine a forged document). It, however, held that the charge of criminal conspiracy (120-B of IPC) could not be proved against them.The police had filed the charge sheet in the case in June 2009, stating that Jigisha”s post-mortem report revealed that she was killed by smothering. The trial in the case began in April 2010. Recovery of the weapon allegedly used in Jigisha’s murder had led to cracking of the murder case of Soumya Vishwanathan, who was a journalist with a news channel.Soumya was shot dead on September 30, 2008 while she was returning home in her car from office in the wee hours. The police had claimed robbery as the motive behind the killings of both Jigisha and Soumya.

TRAI recommends $456 million fine on telecoms firms | Reuters

TRAI recommends $456 million fine on telecoms firms | Reuters

Updated: Oct 21, 2016 21:04 IST

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MUMBAI The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Friday recommended the country’s top three network operators be fined a combined 30.5 billion rupees ($456 million) after it found they were denying new entrant Reliance Jio sufficient interconnection points.Jio, part of India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd, began offering 4G services in September, triggering a war over network points that connect Jio customers with Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone Plc’s India subsidiary and Idea Cellular Ltd.Responding to Jio’s complaints over the denial of points of interconnection (POI), TRAI recommended a fine of 500 million rupees per telecom zone for each of the three operators.Airtel and Vodafone India were fined for 21 zones each while Idea was fined for 19 zones in a country with a total of 22 telecoms zones or circles.

The denial of POI to Jio “appears to be with ulterior motive to stifle competition and is anti-consumer”, TRAI said in a statement.

Reliance Jio did not respond to an email seeking comment while Airtel, Vodafone and Idea declined comment.($1 = 66.9126 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal and Promit Mukherjee; editing by David Clarke)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Bird flu scare: Eight birds dead in Gwalior zoo

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In Madhya Pradesh, eight birds have died in Gwalior zoo in the last 48 hours from infection, officials’ state. Samples have been sent to veterinary hospital for investigation and Precautionary measures have been taken at the zoo in the wake of reports of bird flu from some areas of the country.Meanwhile, National Zoological Park in Delhi, which has been closed temporarily, has reported fresh cases of deaths of pelican birds. The zoo was shut down on Wednesday after nine birds, including painted storks, ducks and pelicans died of Avian influenza at its premises between October 14 and October 17. Meanwhile, a team of Central Zoo Authority is currently inspecting all the enclosures at the zoo. Also, the Delhi government has shut down the Deer Park in Hauz Khas after it suspected that two birds found dead inside the park could be infected with bird flu. Around 100 more samples have been collected in the last two days from Ghazipur, Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Najafgarh drain, Yamuna Biodiversity Park and the Central Park in Hauz Khas and sent to a specialised Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar.

MJ Akbar holds talk with senior UAE ministers, defence ties likely to be strengthened

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar today held talks with senior UAE ministers here and discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, including in the defence sector.Akbar, who was here on a three-day visit from Tuesday, held meetings with UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Minister of State for Defence Mohammed Al Bawardi. During his meeting with the UAE Foreign Minister, bilateral ties and ways to promote them were discussed.They also discussed the preparation for the forthcoming visit of Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to India in January 2017.The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day parade next year. During his meeting with Bawardi, the two discussed ways and means to promote bilateral cooperation in the defence sector, according a statement released here.Akbar also addressed the India-UAE Economic Forum and highlighted that the developmental agenda adopted by the visionary leaders of the UAE in the 20th century must be utilised by India and the UAE together to achieve a greater success story of the 21st century. He explained the avenues available for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in India in various sectors.Wooing investors, Akbar highlighted the transparent process offered by the present government and the speed with which the business proposals are facilitated.He also interacted with the Indian community at India Club, Dubai.Together with Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Nitin Gadkari, he also met senior officials in Abu Dhabi Investment Authority to discuss investment opportunities in India. Akbar also met prominent CEOs to discuss the promotion of bilateral trade and investment. Seeking investments from the UAE in the infrastructure sector, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today pitched India as one of the world’s fastest growing economies and said the ease of doing business under the present government had substantially improved.Gadkari highlights India’s ease of doing business in UAEShipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari,in his keynote address at the India-UAE Business Forum, highlighted the positive initiatives taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the vast investment opportunities available in India.He said India was one of the fastest growing economies in the world and the present government had substantially improved the ease of doing business. Gadkari said the government had also instituted targets for growth in roads and highways. The National Highway Authority of India had a AAA rating, he said.An infrastructure group had been created under his chairmanship to resolve all issues related to clearances and processes had been streamlined, the Minister pointed out. The strategy was to shift from “build road” to “move in India” with the focus on efficient operation and network management for improving logistics sufficiency, he said.With regard to shipping, Gadkari said all the ports were already linked as part of the Sagarmala, which is a programme for port-led development. This initiative would lead to manufacturing hubs in coastal region, good connectivity to ports as well as efficient ports, he said.The Minister also interacted with various CEOs and representatives of India Business Professional Group as well as other members of the business community. Together with Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar, he met senior officials of the Abu Dhabi Investment authority and held discussions on promoting investment into India.

Search operations underway at Jammu airport, IAF station after inputs of suspicious movement

Search operations underway at Jammu airport, IAF station after inputs of suspicious movement

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Jammu: Security forces carried out a massive search operation at the Jammu airport after an input that two persons had entered the premises after scaling the airport wall, police said on Wednesday.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

One person has been detained for questioning in this regard, sources said. “A massive search operation was launched by security forces and police in and around the airport and IAF station after some inputs about suspected movement last night”, a senior police officer said on Wednesday.

The IAF pressed into service helicopters armed with search lights during the night operation, he said. Some children in Azadnagar locality close to Airport in Jammu had informed the people that two suspected persons have breached the wall and entered airport area. The information was passed on to police.

Personnel from the police, IAF, army, CRPF and Airport Authority of India (AAI) rushed to the area, which was cordoned off last evening and massive searches were undertaken.

Jammu Airport houses IAF station (technical area) and airport complex and is jointly guarded by IAF, CRPF, AAI security setup round-the-clock. The search operation and information on suspected movement had triggered panic in localities around the airport including Gadigarh and Azadnagar areas.

Govt wants to keep your Aadhar records for seven years: report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Centre wants to keep a record of all services and benefits a person gets by using his Aadhar card for seven years, reports Hindustan Times. However, the issue has raised concerns.As per the report the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will be made to preserve its records of verification of Aadhar number for seven years. The information retrieved from the number will be online for two years from where the citizens can check their own records. After that, for five years the files will be kept in government archives but the individuals will not get to access these records. However, the designated joint secretary-level officers will be able to access information. The rules regarding this were notified in September.The issue was raised eyebrows but UIDAI chief executive officer ABP Pandey has said that there was no need for alarm as the records will be kept to address any issue over a transaction. Usually only select government data is kept for over five years.He also said that the officials will have to get a district judge’s permission to avail the data.The UIDAI began a special drive to enroll the leftover population for Aadhaar in 22 states and union territories on October 15. The states include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The drive is to ensure that nobody is left without an Aadhaar in these states. As part of this drive, the residents of these States who have not yet enrolled for Aadhaar are being asked to register themselves at ww.wenrol.uidai.gov.in. The scheme is for adult population and will continue till November 15.

Aadhaar card: UIDAI launches special drive to enroll remaining people

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Unique Identification Authority of India will start a special drive from Saturday to enroll the leftover population for Aadhaar in 22 States and Union Territories.The states include Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Island, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. The drive will ensure that nobody is left without an Aadhaar in these States.As part of this drive, the residents of these States who have not yet enrolled for Aadhaar are being asked to register themselves at ww.wenrol.uidai.gov.in.The scheme will be only for adult population and it will continue till 15th of next month.On completing the simple registration formality, such people would be enrolled for the Aadhaar number on a priority basis. Communications and Information Technology Ministry has said, over 106 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued so far.

New real estate rules have builders quaking in their boots

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ahead of the October 31 deadline, final touches are being given to the rules for the Real Estate Regulatory Authority Act that will govern the state’s real estate and housing sector. “Over the past few months, we have had extensive discussions with all the stakeholders, and most of their concerns have been addressed. The rules will first be released in the public domain and it will come into effect after their objections and suggestions are looked into and discussed,” said Shreekant Singh, Principal Housing Secretary of Maharashtra, adding that RERA at its core is a pro-consumer law and protects the interests of the consumer and that it will lay a good foundation for the entire sector. “We need transformation and cleansing,” said Singh while addressing top developers on Friday at a seminar organised by industry-body—National Real Estate Development Council (NAREDCO).The cleansing that Singh hinted at is already underway with many developers quaking in their boots at the prospect of facing stiff punishment for non-compliance of RERA rules, including the prospect of imprisonment for three years. “Our next generation doesn’t want to do this business. They have come from Wharton and Harvard, not to be at the mercy of such laws,” said Ashok Mohnani of Ekta World, adding that though RERA will eventually be good for the industry, the terms and period of its introduction is certain to bring huge pain to the developer fraternity.Legal luminary Parimal Shroff put the situation in perspective. “These are stressful times, and the liquidity situation has not been so bad in the past 40 years. There’s no faith in the system and people don’t trust under-construction projects, sometimes for no fault of the developer,” said Shroff, adding that if RERA comes into effect when the industry is undergoing such a rough time, it may well be the death knell for many developers. “If not a grinding halt, RERA’s introduction will bring the real estate sector to a standstill during the initial adjustment period,” said Shroff.Right to Information or Right to Extortion?While approvals are faster to come by, unscrupulous elements are causing huge delays in real estate projects by filing RTI queries with the intention of extracting money from developers. “Blackmailers in the guise of activists are a menace to the business,” said a leading developer at the seminar, adding that even after being in the right with all the permissions and approvals, the builders buckle under their pressure to avoid the huge costs associated with delays due to litigations.Another developer revealed that it is the modus operandi of ‘activists’ to harass developers by repeatedly filing bogus complaints to various departments, courts, etc., and attempting to stall a project any which way. “These persons continue such harassment techniques till the time the developer is tired of explaining his genuineness to every forum, and agrees to pay off to such persons,” said the developer.

NGT puts brakes on DDA’s unified by-laws for Delhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The chairperson bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has put brakes on the implementation of the Delhi Development Authority’s (DDA) ‘Unified Building Bye-Laws’ that sought to merge green clearances for constructions in 20,000 sq.m to 1,50,000 sq.m with building approvals. The bye-laws were brought out on the basis of a notification of the union ministry for environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) that exempted building projects in 20,000 sq.m to 1,50,000 from green clearance for ‘ease of business’.DDA’s bye-laws were notified with the prior concurrence of the MoEFCC and even before the ministry’s draft notification the basis of DDA’s bye-laws had come into effect. The environment ministry’s notification and DDA’s subsequent bye-laws had drawn severe criticism from environmentalists, who accused the authorities of diluting environmental processes.The unified bye-laws were challenged before the NGT by non-profit organisation Society for Protection of Environment and Biodiversity on grounds that the DDA’s bye-laws and environment ministry’s notification were in contravention to the Environment Impact Assessment notification, 2006.The petitioner had also contended that urban local bodies do not possess the technical expertise or knowledge to evaluate environmental impact caused due to the building and construction activities. After hearing the matter from April, the NGT disposed the application in an order that was made public last week. It asked the union environment ministry to consider objections of the applicant. Whereas, the DDA informed NGT that though the unified building bye-laws have been notified, the chapter on environment conditions for sanctioning building plans would not be put into practice till the union environment ministry give its approval and concurrence.DDA’s counsel Rajiv Bansal told DNA, “The unified bye-laws will not be made effective till modalities to implement them are approved by the union environment ministry.”As per the EIA notification, 2006, building and construction projects between 20,000 sq.m to 1,50,000 sq.m are appraised by the State Expert Appraisal Committees, that comprise of technical experts, independent experts and environmental experts. One of the key contentions of the applicant was that union environment ministry had failed to fulfill its statutory responsibilities and was in fact, transferring powers to urban local bodies. This, the petitioner said, creates a situation of conflict of interest as all the powers have been vested with the same authority right from grant of approval to monitoring the compliance.The application also highlighted that the urban bye-laws had not addressed the issues of clearance to constructions that would be situated in sites with endangered ecology and endemic flora and fauna. For instance, in the bye-laws, there is no specific consideration for projects situated in ecologically sensitive areas like national parks, sanctuaries, forests and other protected areas.

Delhi stung by chikungunya, dengue: Angry SC rebukes Najeeb Jung, Arvind Kejriwal

In September last year, parents of a seven-year-old boy named Avinash ran from hospital to hospital, trying in vain to save their dying child. They begged everyone to admit their child, who was suffering from dengue, but by the time someone consented to treat their son, it was too late.

The parents, not able to cope with their loss, committed suicide by jumping off a four-storeyed building in south Delhi’s Lado Sarai.

Following a Times of India report, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) passed an order on 16 September, 2015 to treat the case as a suo motu Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

Dengue. Representational image. AFPDengue. Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

The petition came up for hearing on 4 October. After hearing from all the parties in the case – CU Singh, senior counsel appearing on behalf of the government of Delhi, the Solicitor General appearing for the government of Delhi, the Amicus Curiae – the court held that “as all the parties have expressed the view that everybody would like to co-operate for the benefit of the people of Delhi. In our opinion, for the general interest of the people of Delhi and considering the fact that a large number of people are affected by dengue and chikungunya, it would be appropriate if a meeting is convened by the Lieutenant Governor on 5 October, 2016 at 2 pm.”

The order further read, “The participants should resolve issues relating to the better management of the problems faced by the people of Delhi due to dengue and chikungunya – and other issues, if so advised. The interests of the people of Delhi are paramount.”

According to the 4 October order, the Solicitor General stated that he will request the chief secretary of the government of Delhi to convey this to the Lieutenant Governor and the participants in the meeting will be: the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal; Health Minister Satyendra Kumar Jain; Dr Puneet Kumar Goel, commissioner of South Delhi Municipal Corporation; Mohanjeet Singh, commissioner of East Delhi Municipal Corporation; PK Gupta, commissioner of North Delhi Municipal Corporation;  Naresh Kumar, chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Corporation; Mangu Singh, chairman of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation; AK Puthia, general manager of the Northern Railway;  KK Sharma, chief secretary of Delhi; CK Mishra, union health secretary; Uday Pratap Singh, the vice-chairman of the Delhi Development Authority and B Reddy Sankar Babu, chief executive officer of the Delhi Cantonment Board.

Further, it was agreed that the Amicus Curiae will also be present in the meeting and the L-G will be assisted by an officer of his choice in the meeting.

The meeting, however, did not bear any results as reflected in the 6 October order of the apex court when the petition was called on for hearing again. The apex court in its order observed, “We have gone through the minutes of the meeting held yesterday and are quite disappointed with the outcome.”

The order states that the Solicitor General informed that another meeting will be convened on Thursday by the Lieutenant Governor at 5.30 pm with the amicus and the officers mentioned in the order dated 4 October, 2016. However, as stated in the order, senior counsel CU Singh stated  that the chief minister is unwell and perhaps may not be able to attend the meeting. Also, that the Delhi Development Authority does not have any incumbent vice-chairman and that the chief secretary, KK Sharma, is on leave and in their place other persons in charge would participate in the meeting.

The court also made an important observation that “it was pointed out to us by learned amicus on 4 October, 2016 that there is a huge amount of garbage lying in and around the city and that is also one of the reasons for vector-borne diseases.”

“The participants will discuss effective ways to have the garbage cleared so that standards of sanitation and hygiene are maintained in and around Delhi,” the court stated in its order.

It further states that “we expect the participants to keep the interests of the people of Delhi in mind and look out at the entire exercise in a positive manner and think about the future rather than the past. We also expect the efforts to be consultative, collaborative and cooperative.”

As on 30 August, as reported by PTI, a massive surge in vector-borne diseases in the national capital was observed. Chikungunya and dengue cases in the city shot up to 423 and 487 respectively. According to the report released by the civic authorities, 423 chikungunya cases were diagnosed in Delhi till 27 August, while 368 out of the 487 dengue cases were recorded in August.

The PIL that is being heard by the apex court is a reminder of the sad episode involving Avinash’s parents and stands testament to the fact that vector-borne diseases, when not tackled sensitively, can shatter lives. In this context, the role of civic authorities becomes most important and any lethargy on their part is sure to create ‘disappointments’.

ED gets court nod to take possession of Himachal CM Virbhadra Singh’s assets

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The ED will soon move to take possession of assets worth about Rs eight crore of Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and his wife after a special anti-money laundering court here confirmed the agency’s provisional order in this regard.The agency, in March this year, had ordered attachment of certain LIC policies, bank balances, a fixed deposit and two floors of a building in south Delhi’s posh GK-I area under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). “Considering the material in the original complaint, the replies and rejoinder and the arguments, I find that the properties provisionally attached in the name of D-2 (Pratibha Singh, wife of Virbhadra Singh) and D-1 (Virbhadra Singh) are involved in money laundering.”I, therefore, hereby confirm the attachment of properties made under sub-section (1) of section 5 of PMLA. “I, therefore, order that the said attachment shall continue during the pendency of the proceedings relating to offence under the PMLA before a court and become final after an order of confiscation is passed under…. PMLA by the special court,” an order issued on September 14 by Tushar V Shah, Member (Law) of the Adjudicating Authority of PMLA, said.The order, accessed by PTI, had examined the complaint filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the Chief Minister and his wife and the statements made by various accused in the case including arrested LIC agent Anand Chauhan. A provisional order for attachment of assets worth over RS 7.93 crore was issued by the ED on March 23 this year where it attached an entire basement and ground floor of a building in Greater Kailash-I in South Delhi in the name of Pratibha Singh and and a number of LIC policies, bank balances and a fixed deposit in her name and those in the name of her husband.The ED, in its complaint filed under PMLA, has said that “it is evident from the flow of funds from redemption of LIC policies to the bank accounts and finally for the purchase of property, that Virbhadra Singh and his wife Pratibha Singh had indulged in possession of proceeds of crime in cash and in order to launder it showed it as its income from agriculture by filing revised returns and using fruit merchant business of Chunni Lal Chauhan of Universal Apple Associate “.The agency had recently questioned Pratibha and the CM’s son Vikramaditya in this case. The CM has denied allegations of any wrongdoing by him and his family. An attachment order under PMLA is aimed at depriving the accused from obtaining benefits of their alleged ill-gotten wealth and such an order issued by the ED can be appealed before the Adjudicating Authority of the said Act within 180 days.Further, if the Adjudicating Authority also confirms the order, the accused can appeal against it before the Appellate Tribunal of the said Act within 45 days.ED had filed a case under criminal provisions of the anti-money laundering law against the CM, his family members and others after taking cognisance of a complaint filed by the CBI in this regard in September last year.It had also conducted searches in this case last year in Delhi, Maharashtra and West Bengal. The agency is probing allegations against Singh and his family members of having amassed wealth of Rs 6.1 crore disproportionate to his known sources of income between 2009 and 2011 when he was the Union Minister of Steel.The CBI’s First Information Report had named Singh, Pratibha, Chauhan and his brother C L Chauhan, who were all accused of violating the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The CBI FIR said that during 2009-11, Singh bought life insurance policies worth Rs 6.1 crore in his and his family members’ names through Anand Chauhan claiming the money came from his income from agriculture.

CJI Thakur urges Law Ministry to relieve judiciary of ‘avoidable burden’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Chief Justice of India TS Thakur on Saturday urged the Law Ministry to devise a mechanism to relieve the judicial system of the “avoidable burden” that arises out of “sheer apathy, indifference or incapacity” of the government and its departments to take certain decisions.The CJI also asked the government to set up a panel, comprising former judges, to decide on whether or not to fight a case against any citizen when the issue could be resolved outside court. “I would request the Law Minister to devise some mechanism to relieve our judicial system of avoidable burden that comes on us, not because we are not ready to share that burden but because of the sheer apathy or indifference or the incapacity of the government to deal with a situation to take a decision,” the CJI said. He was speaking at the launch of a theme song for National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) here. The NALSA was constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free legal services to the weaker sections of society.The CJI referred to certain “unnecessary” cases which could be screened before reaching the court and could be solved at the administrative level itself. “We are doing justice, isn’t that the government also supposed to do? Why should we force the citizen to go to the court at all. I would request the Government of India to device some mechanism to resolve these issues outside court. “You can have a panel of former judges with impeccable honesty. Let them decide. Let that panel decide whether the citizen is entitled to that relief. If he is right then why should we force the citizen to be brought to the court.”Show the will to provide a mechanism for the resolution of conflicts or disputes outside the judicial system and you will have help from lawyers and judges,” the CJI said. Minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was also present on the occasion, addressed the inaugural session of ‘National Consultation on Challenges in Mediation and Way Forward’ and proposed the digitalisation of 622 district-level NALSA centres across the country to make them more efficient and effective.The Law Minister also asked NALSA to extend a helping hand to the victims of acid attacks so that they feel that the legal system and the society is with them. “I would recommend that victims of acid attack should also be taken on a priority basis by framing a special scheme for them,” Prasad added.Recalling his efforts as a young lawyer for the release of Mohammad Miyan, an undertrial prisoner for 49 years, as the biggest success in his career, the minister batted for ensuring legal assistance to poor.”We must think about how we can provide legal assistance to poor people and undertrials more effectively. Legal assistance to the poor must become a movement,” he said.

NBWL clears road widening through sanctuary in Kanha-Achanakmar tiger corridor

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In a move that is likely to see opposition from wildlife conservationists, the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has cleared widening of a 14km stretch of state highway in Chhattisgarh that will cut through 20 hectares of the Bhoramdeo wildlife sanctuary, which also happens to be an integral part of the Kanha-Achanakmar tiger corridor. The road will pass through the Chilphi-Rengakhar-Salhewara stretch. The road widening proposal was earlier referred to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) as per Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 to seek their comments on the project’s impact.NTCA, in consultation with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and state officials had opposed the road widening and had in fact recommended to the ministry that the proposal should be rejected. But, during the NBWL’s last meeting, the Chief Wildlife Warden, Chhattisgarh said that the road widening and upgradation is important in view of left wing extremism and rural connectivity. According to the minutes of the meeting, WII director VB Mathur said that the widening will increase traffic, leading to adverse impacts on tiger and dispersal of other wildlife. It was also pointed out that the National Highway 12A runs parallel to the proposed road beyond the Bhoramdeo sanctuary.Despite the opposition from NTCA, the NBWL decided that that proposal should be cleared, subject to mitigation measures, which primarily includes building of under passes for movement of wildlife. The wildlife officials from Chattisgarh cited the precedence of the National Highway-7 case, which, too, was cleared by NBWL after National Highway Authority of India was pressured to build underpasses and overpasses for tigers moving in the Kanha-Pench corridor. It was decided that 10 under passes and related structures should be built for passage of wildlife, especially tigers.The Bhoramdeo wildlife sanctuary in Kawardha close to the Chhattisgarh-Madhya Pradesh is one of the crucial link in the Kanha-Achanakmar tiger corridors and has been deemed as vital by NTCA itself. According to studies, the sanctuary is reportedly home to four tigers, though it is not yet clear if use it as their home territory. “Kanha-Pench-Achanakmar is like one landscape with a single meta population of tigers ital for genetic exchange. Forest corridors protect wildlife against vagaries of nature and anthropogenic pressures. When tiger numbers grow, they need more territory and these corridors come to their aid to move out. Since Bhoramdeo is abutting the Kanha tiger reserve, it is vital for wildlife,” said Jyotirmoy Jena, wildlife biologist, World Wildlife Fund.

Environment not conducive: Pak High Commissioner’s statement on opting out of trade exhibition

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Pakistan has cancelled a trade exhibition which was scheduled to be held next month in India, amid heightened tension between the two neighbours in the aftermath of the terror attack in Uri. “Due to current situations between Pakistan and India which are beyond TDAP’s control, the event planned for 2016 has been called off,” Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) said in a statement on Friday.The third edition of ‘Aalishaan Pakistan exhibition’ was scheduled to be held in October in New Delhi. Reacting to the development, the Press Attache in Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi said,”Yes the environment here is not conducive for such an event. We have seen in the past how right wing parties reacted to such Pakistan events. The latest move by MNS against Pak artistes is a point in case.” The TDAP was already working on holding the trade show after the success of similar exhibitions held earlier in 2012 and 2014.The exhibition was meant to promote bilateral trade between the two countries and bring buyers and sellers together on one platform, the Express Tribune reported. For the two countries, bilateral trade amounted to Rs 206 billion during July-May of the last fiscal year, of which Rs 42 billion was exported by Pakistan and Rs 162 billion by India.

Rains lash Mumbai for 6th day in row; heavy downpour likely

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Mumbaikars this morning woke up to heavy showers as intermittent rains continued to lash the city and its outskirts for sixth day on Friday even as the weatherman predicted more heavy downpour in the metropolis. According to disaster management control room of the civic body, no injury or casualty has been reported so far. “Our officers are keeping a close watch on the rain and preparedness. Few routes of BEST buses have been diverted and local suburban services were running late by 5 to 10 minutes,” a disaster management cell official said.He said they have received several complaints of potholes on roads across the city which have been causing inconvenience to the motorists. “We take every complaint very sincerely, and each complaint is forward to the concerned authorities with a deadline to address it,” the official said. According to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), its weather stations recorded 32.5 mm rainfall in the island city, 25.14 mm in western suburbs and 23.77 mm in the eastern suburbs in last 24 hours till 8 AM today.”Heavy to very heavy rains are likely to occur at one or two places in the next 24 hours,” IMD, Mumbai Director V K Rajiv said. He said an alert was issued yesterday to fishermen not to venture into the deep sea, and they were reviewing it today too.The weather stations at Dahanu Road recorded 3.07 mm rainfall, Alibaugh 96.4 mm, Ratnagiri 33.8 mm, Mahabaleshwar 44.4 mm, Harnai 136.7 mm, Nashik 26.2 mm, Nanded 24.5 mm, Parbhani 16.5 mm, and Solapur 24.7 mm in last 24 hours. An official from IMD Mumbai region said Colaba recorded 45.2 mm rainfall while Santacruz received 39.7 mm rainfall in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, the state Disaster Management Authority said intermittent or continuous rain with a few heavy spells are likely in Mumbai and suburbs. “The cyclonic circulation is slowly moving towards adjoining districts of Maharashtra with Telangana. Heavy rains likely at few locations in these districts. Heavy to very heavy rain/spells also likely in Raigad, Ratnagiri districts and South Madhya Maharashtra districts with one or two heavy to very heavy spells.It also warned of heavy to very heavy rains at few places in Konkan, Marathwada, Madhya Maharashtra and Vidharbha during next 24-48 hours.

#MumbaiRains trends on Twitter as people share jokes and updates on the unrelenting rainfall

It’s that time of the year again when Mumbai’s (in)famous prolonged monsoons make life harder (than it already is) for a lot of people in Mumbai.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

The roads and streets of Mumbai are flooded yet again as heavy rains lash the city.

On Wednesday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had predicted very heavy rainfall for Mumbai for the next 48 hours.

In its forecast for Mumbai and suburban areas, the IMD had predicted intermittent or continuous rain or showers with few heavy spells beginning from 10 am on Wednesday progressing to very heavy rains during the next 24 to 48 hours, Joint secretary of the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), Rajiv Nivatkar had said.

“Exceptionally heavy rains are expected in the city from the morning of September 23,” he said.

Till 23 September, very heavy rainfall is also expected in Konkan, Marathwada, Central Maharashtra and Vidharbha regions, he said.

People in Mumbai took to Twitter to talk about the difficulties they faced because of the rains. And some had their own hilarious take on the rains.

Here are some tweets from the #MumbaiRains hashtag that amused us:

Afzal Guru row: JNU panel submits final report on students’ punishments

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The JNU on Monday said the Appellate Authority which heard the appeals of the varsity students who were penalised in connection with the controversial February 9 event has submitted its final report.”In the light of the recommendation of the High Level Enquiry Committee and subsequently the recommendation of the panel constituted to assist the Appellate Authority, the Vice Chancellor put his mind to various dimensions of the concerned issue to come to a conclusion and has taken the final decision on the appeals made by the students,” a university statement said. “The authority after thorough analysis of each case, has issued the final report to be implemented by the Chief Proctor,” the statement added.Senior university officials, however, refused to comment when asked about the contents of the report. JNU was at the centre of a controversy in February this because of an event on campus against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru at which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised. Three students including the students union chief Kanhaiya Kumar were arrested in a sedition case over the event and are now out on bail. 21 JNU students were slapped with varied punishments ranging from rustication, hostel debarment to financial penalty on basis of the probe by the HLEC which found them guilty of violation of discipline norms.The students had gone on an indefinite hunger strike against the decision which lasted for 16 days. As the varsity refused to relent and withdraw the punitive action proposed against the students despite their failing health, some students moved the Delhi High Court challenging the action. Following this, the High Court issued directions to JNUSU to immediately withdraw the hunger strike and to not launch any fresh agitation. It had stayed action against the students till their appeals have been decided by the appellate authority.JNU had then formed a four-member committee to hear appeals of those who had been found guilty of indiscipline by the varsity probe panel.

JNU row: Appellate authority submits final report after hearing students’ appeals

New Delhi: The JNU on Monday said the Appellate Authority which heard the appeals of the varsity students who were penalised in connection with the controversial 9 February event has submitted its final report.

File image of Kanhaiya Kumar, Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid. PTI

File image of Kanhaiya Kumar, Anirban Bhattacharya and Umar Khalid. PTI

“In the light of the recommendation of the High Level Enquiry Committee and subsequently the recommendation of the panel constituted to assist the Appellate Authority, the Vice Chancellor put his mind to various dimensions of the concerned issue to come to a conclusion and has taken the final decision on the appeals made by the students,” a university statement said.

“The authority after thorough analysis of each case, has issued the final report to be implemented by the Chief Proctor,” the statement added. Senior university officials, however, refused to comment when asked about the contents of the report.

JNU was at the centre of a controversy in February this because of an event on campus against hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru at which anti-national slogans were allegedly raised.

Three students including the students union chief Kanhaiya Kumar were arrested in a sedition case over the event and are now out on bail. 21 JNU students were slapped with varied punishments ranging from rustication, hostel debarment to financial penalty on basis of the probe by the HLEC which found them guilty of violation of discipline norms.

The students had gone on an indefinite hunger strike against the decision which lasted for 16 days. As the varsity refused to relent and withdraw the punitive action proposed against the students despite their failing health, some students moved the Delhi High Court challenging the action.

Following this, the High Court issued directions to JNUSU to immediately withdraw the hunger strike and to not launch any fresh agitation. It had stayed action against the students till their appeals have been decided by the appellate authority.

JNU had then formed a four-member committee to hear appeals of those who had been found guilty of indiscipline by the varsity probe panel.

JNU VC forms panel for appeal proceedings on Afzal Guru anniversary row

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Appellate Authority of Jawaharlal Nehru University, the Vice Chancellor, has constituted a committee comprising of four members to assist him in conducting appellate proceedings against students related to a February 9 event (on Afzal Guru’s third death anniversary) on the university campus.The event organisers had pasted posters across the campus inviting students to gather for a protest march against ‘judicial killing’ of Afzal Guru and Maqbool Bhat and to express solidarity with Kashmiri migrants at the Sabarmati Dhaba on the campus. In the light of the recommendation of the HLEC and subsequently the recommendation of the committee constituted to assist the Appellate Authority, the Vice Chancellor put his mind to various dimensions of the concerned issue to come to a conclusion and has taken the final decision on the appeals made by the students, said a statement, adding that every student was called for deposition before the appeals committee. It further said every student was given a copy of the HLEC report and the enclosed evidences and was given an opportunity to make an appeal in writing. “The principle of natural justice was minutely followed. Each one of those who appealed were shown the entire documents and given time to go through it before they would depose. The appellate authority, after a thorough analysis of each case, has issued the final report to be implemented by the Chief Proctor,” it added.The university officials said the act amounted to ‘indiscipline’ as any talk about disintegration of nation cannot be ‘national’.”It is an act of indiscipline, as permission for the programme was sought by providing incomplete information. A committee headed by the Chief Proctor will examine the footage of the event and speak to the witnesses. The varsity will take appropriate action based on the report,” JNU Vice-Chancellor Jagadesh Kumar said.Earlier, the university had ordered the inquiry after members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) staged a protest outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office, demanding expulsion of students who organised the event on Guru’s third death anniversary, who was hanged at Tihar Jail on February 9, 2013.Members of the ABVP had on Tuesday objected to the event and wrote to the Vice-Chancellor, saying such marches should not be held at an educational institution, prompting the university administration to order cancellation of the march fearing it might ‘disrupt peace on the campus’.However, the organisers went ahead with their plan and held a programme, which led to the ABVP members gathering outside the V-C’s office and shouting slogans, demanding their expulsion.

Tiger safari proposal in Corbett National Park red flagged, Uttarakhand asked to comply with wildlife norms

The Centre has red flagged a proposed tiger safari project in Uttarakhand’s Corbett National Park and asked the state government to first comply with wildlife norms.It cited the central government’s recent decision to stop tiger safari project in Madhya Pradesh’s Pench National Park citing alleged violation of rules. The Uttarakhand forest department had in August last year sought permission of the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, to start a tiger safari inside the famous national park.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The NTCA has asked the Uttarakhand government to take prior permission from Central Zoo Authority (CZA).
ALSO READ Stop tiger safari in ‘Mowgli land’: Centre to Madhya Pradesh govtIt may also be looked into that if the proposal is in conformity with and as per tiger conservation plan prepared for Corbett reserve, said a letter by the NTCA to the state, a copy of which was received in reply to an RTI query filed by wildlife activist Ajay Dubey.On the issue of the safari in the Pench National Park, the NTCA had said that it exposes tigers to poaching. The Madhya Pradesh forest department had failed to take prior approval from the CZA before construction of tiger safari there, it said.
ALSO READ Relocate people in tiger reserve within time frame: Panel to CentreThe tiger population in the country was estimated at 1,706 in 2010. It rose to 2,226 in 2014. Uttarakhand ranks second –after Karnataka–in tiger population in the country. It has an estimated 340 tigers, as per the latest government data.

Government caps prices of 42 essential medicines, reduction in cost by 15%

The government on Monday capped the prices of 42 essential medicines used in treatment of various ailments including tuberculosis, cancer and cardiac diseases, thereby, reducing their cost by up to 15%.National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA), drug price regulator, in a notification on its website said it has fixed or revised ceiling prices of 45 scheduled formulations of Schedule-I under Drugs (Price Control) Amendment Order, 2016.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>NPPA said manufacturers not complying with the ceiling price would be liable to deposit the overcharged amount along with interest. The government fixes the prices of essential drugs based on the simple average of all medicines in a particular therapeutic segment, having sales of more than one percent.

FSSAI approves safety standards for alcoholic drinks, finalises list of additives to be used

New Delhi: Food safety regulator FSSAI has approved standards for alcoholic drinks like whiskey and beer and finalised a list of additives to be used for making these products, a top official said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

This is a first for all major alcoholic drinks in the country for which standards and the additives list have been finalised.

“The Food Safety Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has finalised a list of food additives and standards with respect to alcoholic beverages…,” FSSAI CEO Pawan Agarwal told PTI.

He added that these standards are in alignment with International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) standards.

The file has been moved to the Union Health Ministry, and the standards will be operationalised soon after a notification.

“With this, FSSAI has crossed a major landmark in setting of standards for almost all food categories available in the country,” he said.

Earlier this month, the regulator has operationalised the list of 11,000 food additives provisions that can be used by food businesses in various categories.

This assumes importance because food products which have been manufactured by using these approved additives may not require product approval.

FSSAI was established under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, which consolidates various Acts and orders that have hitherto dealt with food related issues under various ministries and departments.

The regulator was in the spotlight after it banned Maggi noodles in June last year, which was later lifted by the Bombay High Court.

TRAI issues consultation paper on Internet telephony

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) on Wednesday issued a consultation paper on Internet telephony and voice over Internet telephony (VoIP) services. The regulatory body has invited comments from stakeholders by July 21. The consultation paper intends to look at VoIP services, which are cheaper than traditional or Internet telephony. The consultation also looks at the effectiveness of an emerging technology like VoIP, and notes that telecos are reluctant to work on better Internet telephony services for profit margins, often leading to expensive bills. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>TRAI secretary Sudhir Gupta said that the consultation aims to bring Internet telephony under discussions. “There’s a lot that needs to be discussed. There was no clarity on the functioning of Internet telephony, what are the interconnection charges, so we need licensing, etc. We will look forward to the inputs by stakeholders,” said Gupta. Mobile manufacturing industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said that they see the consultation as a positive sign. It must be noted that the COAI had sent a letter to TRAI to include OTT services like WhatsApp, Skype, etc under regulation. “We are pleased that some of the significant issues that we had written a boy have been included here,” said COAI chief Rajan Mathews. “Whether Internet telephony needs licensing needs to be discussed.” COAI’s letter to TRAI was a result of a recent dispute between telecos and state-run BSNL which announced the launch of a new service that enables its customers to make local and STD calls from their landline phones in India by using a mobile application when they are abroad. Telecos protested that VoIPs are unregulated and hence, cheap. Raman Jit Singh Chima, Global Policy Directir at Access Now said that the consultation, which is limited in its approach now, is positive. “This is not entirely for general consumers now, but may increase in scope in the consultations. This is more about interconnections within Internet telephony and not about OTT services,” said Chima. “However, the TRAI has hinted at an open internet and that’s very encouraging.”

MHADA lottery 2016: Over 900 houses up for grabs

People interested in buying a house in Mumbai can now apply for MHADA Lottery.The Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) has released an advertisement inviting applications for purchasing of 972 houses.Applicants can buy the forms starting June 23 and they will be available until July 24. MHADA will accept the applications from June 24 to July 25. Demand Drafts for the same can be submitted at the AXIS Bank from June 24 to July 27.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>MHADA will announce the names of the lottery winners on August 10.The cheapest houses under the MHADA scheme are in Malvani, Malad, which are priced at Rs 8,17,000 with the carpet area of 16.72 square metres. And the most expensive house available in the scheme is at Shailendra Nagar, Dahisar. It has a carpet area of 78.47 metres and is priced at Rs 83,86,000, reports Marathi portal Zee 24 Taas.You can apply for the online submission process here

Bombay High Court asks MHADA to give details about tenements given to mill workers

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday asked the Maharashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (MHADA) to inform how much textile mill land had been given to it for real estate development in the city and the number of tenements allotted by it to mill workers so far.As large number of textile mills in Mumbai have become defunct in the past two decades, the land available with them is being considered for development. These lands are valued at a high price because of their prime location, says a petition.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A bench headed by Justice Abhay Oka also asked the state government to inform about the rehabilitation scheme it proposes to introduce for workers of the defunct textile mills.The court observed that the government and the MHADA were not disclosing details about the textile mill lands as well as their plans for housing former mill workers, who were rendered jobless after the factories closed down.The bench warned that if details were not furnished by the authorities, they would be forced to appoint an IAS officer to coordinate with various agencies and furnish details about the mill lands to the court.The bench directed MHADA to file an affidavit within a week furnishing details about the mill lands.The petition was filed by Girni Kamgar Sanghatana, which sought rehabilitation of workers, saying they had lost their jobs after the mills became defunct.The matter has been posted for hearing on June 28.

Centre asks states to link Aadhaar with caste, domicile certificates

New Delhi: All state governments have been asked to link Aadhaar with caste and domicile certificates to be issued to school students, as part of a first-of-its-kind initiative by the Centre.

The states have been told to ensure that such certificates are issued within 60 days time to the students when they are studying in Class V or VIII.

The Aadhaar logo.The Aadhaar logo.

The Aadhaar logo.

The development assumes significance as there have been complaints of delay in grant of scholarship to students
belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. Besides, people have often complained of harassment allegedly by
government officials in getting caste and domicile certificates issued.

“The state government may also try to get the information of students fed into the meta data to be made online and may link it to Aadhaar enabled data, if feasible.

“Sincere efforts be made to issue these certificates along with Aadhaar number,” reads Frequently Asked Questions
(FAQs) released by Personnel Ministry on issuance of caste and certificates in schools.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues Aadhaar — a 12-digit number which acts as a proof of
identity and address, anywhere in the country.

The main objective of issuance of caste or tribe certificate is to facilitate access of bona-fide candidates
belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to the reserved posts and services under the state or Central
governments and secure admission in educational institutions and get other facilities.

“The concerned revenue or state government authorities would scrutinise or verify the documents and issue the
relevant certificates preferably within a period of 30—60 days,” it said.

The responsibility for issuance of residency and caste certificate is with the state governments and Union
Territories.

To avoid difficulties faced by SC and ST students, it has been proposed that ‘caste or tribe certificate’ and also the domicile certificate may be issued to such students and only a residence certificate may be issued to students other than SC or ST all over the country, while they are studying in Class V or VIII, as part of an annual exercise.

The state government can choose either Class V or Class VIII to issue this certificate. Once Class V or VIII is
chosen, the endeavour should be to issue it to all the students studying in that particular class, the FAQs said.

The responsibility of collecting the documents from the students will be of school head or principal.

Once the certificate is made, it may be given to the students in cellophane cover, as far as practicable, though
the school authorities and would be kept with the students for safe custody for availing the benefits or concessions and facilities available to the category of students concerned, the FAQs said.

PTI

Aadhaar to be linked with caste, domicile certificates

New Delhi: All state governments have been asked to link Aadhaar with caste and domicile certificates to be issued to school students, as part of a first-of-its-kind initiative by the Centre.

Biometrics being recorded for Aadhaar. Representational image. ReutersBiometrics being recorded for Aadhaar. Representational image. Reuters

Biometrics being recorded for Aadhaar. Representational image. Reuters

The states have been told to ensure that such certificates are issued within 60 days time to the students when they are studying in Class V or VIII.

The development assumes significance as there have been complaints of delay in grant of scholarship to students belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes. Besides, people have often complained of harassment allegedly by government officials in getting caste and domicile certificates issued.

“The state government may also try to get the information of students fed into the meta data to be made online and may link it to Aadhaar enabled data, if feasible.

“Sincere efforts be made to issue these certificates along with Aadhaar number,” reads Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) released by Personnel Ministry on issuance of caste and certificates in schools.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues Aadhaar — a 12-digit number which acts as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in the country.

The main objective of issuance of caste or tribe certificate is to facilitate access of bona-fide candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to the reserved posts and services under the state or central governments and secure admission in educational institutions and get other facilities.

“The concerned revenue or state government authorities would scrutinise or verify the documents and issue the relevant certificates preferably within a period of 30—60 days,” it said.

The responsibility for issuance of residency and caste certificate is with the state governments and Union
territories.

To avoid difficulties faced by SC and ST students, it has been proposed that ‘caste or tribe certificate’ and also the domicile certificate may be issued to such students and only a residence certificate may be issued to students other than SC or ST all over the country, while they are studying in Class V or VIII, as part of an annual exercise.

The state government can choose either Class V or Class VIII to issue this certificate. Once Class V or VIII is chosen, the endeavour should be to issue it to all the students studying in that particular class, the FAQs said.

The responsibility of collecting the documents from the students will be of school head or principal.

Once the certificate is made, it may be given to the students in cellophane cover, as far as practicable, though the school authorities and would be kept with the students for safe custody for availing the benefits or concessions and facilities available to the category of students concerned, the FAQs said.

Delhi University rejects another RTI query over PM Modi’s degree

The University of Delhi has once again rejected right to information (RTI) query seeking details about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degree.Citing ‘privacy’ reasons, the University of Delhi (DU) has rejected the query, reported IANS. The RTI query was filed by Delhi-based lawyer Mohd Irsad.According to PTI, in its reply to the RTI query, the University reportedly said it has the right to maintain the privacy of every student and the information can only be disclosed to the student concerned.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The varsity said the applicant can approach the Appellate Authority of DU’s School of Open Learning within a month from the day the reply was issued.Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that media reports claiming DU has blocked an RTI query seeking details of Modi’s BA degree ‘deepen the mystery’ surrounding his educational qualifications.He contended DU ‘cannot reject’ information sought under the Right To Information Act by a city-based lawyer and the university should write to the Prime Minister to seek his permission for releasing the documents.”This deepens the mystery around PM’s degree. If DU feels that it is private info then under RTI Act, DU shud write to PM n seek his permission. DU can’t reject (sic),” he tweeted.Kejriwal also recalled BJP chief Amit Shah and Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had defended Modi when the controversy erupted over his alleged fake degrees, saying the documents were “genuine and anyone could take it from DU”.”What? But why? Didn’t Amit shah n Jaitley ji say that degree was genuine and anyone cud take it from DU?(sic)” he asked on Twitter. (With inputs from agency)

The Draft Wetlands Rules aim to protect India’s wetlands. But is this the best way?

The “fishing cat” is a lesser-known, small wild cat. As its name suggests, it feeds on fish — primarily found in water bodies like wetlands, swamps, rivers etc. Already classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the fishing cat — and several other species — could be severely imperiled if the proposed Draft Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2016, replacing the previous Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010, is implemented by the Ministry of Environment , Forests and Climate Change.

“The way we treat our wetlands shows how civilised a society we are; and the way we treat our planet, especially water, says a lot about the way we are as humans,” says Shomita Mukherjee, a scientist with the Salim Ali Center for Ornithology (SACON), who has worked on fishing cats.

The ministry’s deadline for comments on the Draft Wetlands Rules, 2016, closed on 6 June. However, the changes proposed in this draft have ecologists, wildlife scientists, environmental activists and legal experts very concerned. Further, these experts believe that the DWR needs to be looked at in the larger context of what the current government has been doing in terms of environmental legislation.

Chilika Lake. Image from FacebookChilika Lake. Image from Facebook

Chilika Lake. Image from Facebook

Parineeta Dandekar, ‎the associate coordinator for South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People says, “There is complete reluctance to protect wetlands, and some of the gaps in the proposed rules are absolutely shocking. For instance, how are Ramsar wetlands (wetlands notified as per the Ramsar Convention, 1971) going to be managed, how are transboundary wetlands going to be managed, who exactly is going to manage them? The forest department? It raises too many questions. The Draft is a half-hearted attempt to replace the previous one from 2010, it needs to be redone completely.”

Environmentalists claim there are multiple issues with the DWR. The main bone of contention is the doing away of the Central Wetlands Regulatory Authority, which notifies and regulates wetlands. Although the CWRA’s term ended on 31 March 2015, it wasn’t reconstituted. Instead a new National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Ecosystems (NPCA) was formed, integrating two previous programmes to avoid duplication of responsibilities.

On the occasion of the World Wetland Day on 2 February, Prakash Javdekar, the central environment minister said the NPCA would provide the policy framework and support to the States. However, the NPCA guidelines are yet to be formulated.

The new proposed rules mean wetlands can now come under the purview of state governments. Ironically, only a handful of states even have a functioning State Level Wetland Authority and no new wetlands have been notified since the previous rules came into inception. Activists believe this doesn’t augur well for the wetlands as giving the state governments the authority to regulate wetlands will make them only more susceptible to developmental pressures.

The concerns seem justified when you note that according to studies by SACON, India has lost 38 percent of its wetlands from 1991 to 2001 alone. The main threats to their survival are hydro power projects, reclamation and encroachment by the construction lobby, habitat loss and pollution, mainly in urban areas.

The other main issue the DWR has left out, is the participation of local people, living around the water bodies. Good examples of wetland preservation — like the Chilika lake in Orissa and Vembanad Kol lake in Kerala — have been successful due to the empowerment of people dependent on the lakes. The Draft Regulatory Framework, 2008 was considered a very nuanced document at it classified wetlands in different categories and it included people right down to the zilla parishad level. The DWR, however, has the chief minister(s) of the states heading the State Level Wetland Authority, which will includes 12 other bureaucratic civil servants — leaving out experts from various fields like hydrology, ecology, etc. It is an unnecessary additional responsibility on an already overburdened state machinery which will surely be found wanting in executing guidelines for protection of wetlands.

The present proposed rules have also poorly defined what constitutes a wetland. Agricultural fields, river catchments, and even man-made structures are left out from the definition of wetlands. This can have severe repercussions for animals, birds and the communities directly dependent on such resources.

“The role of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has been removed, this gives the Draft a very weak legal standing,” says Sampurna Behura of Reach Law. According to R Shreedhar, Environics Trust, such a move is a disguise to push the ease-of-doing-business agenda of the current government. This can have not only serious implications on conservation of a resource as common as wetlands but also take the bite out of deterrents aimed at vested interests that might abuse these water bodies. Blatant construction on wetlands across cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata has adversely impacted their hydrology, causing grave man-made floods and water crisis for their populations. Behura cautions that with no appellate body and right to grievance, the penalty for abuse of wetlands will be akin to meagre pollution penalties.

“Wetlands are like sponges, they give life to everybody. Life evolved out of water, if we neglect water, what will be left of us?” says Goldin Quadros, a wetland scientist with SACON.

Representational image. Naresh Sharma/FirstpostRepresentational image. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

Representational image. Naresh Sharma/Firstpost

In an urbanised world, wetlands are the most productive ecological system. About 6 lakh people depend on Bhopal lakes for water supply. Laktak in Manipur provides livelihoods to more than one lakh fisherfolk while Chilika does to two lakh. The same amount depend on the Vembanad Kol for irrigation. Wetlands’ soils may contain as much as 200 times more carbon than the vegetation it supports, thus sequestering large amounts of carbon and regulating microclimate of their areas.
Wetlands such as the mangroves and floodplains also form an important physical barrier against natural disasters like cyclones. Many villages around the Bhitarkanika in Orissa that had intact mangrove forests are considerably less impacted by the effects of periodic cyclones. Many such highly useful benefits of wetlands render them an indispensible part of any ecosystem.

Sangai, an endangered endemic deer species found only in Manipur live in the marshy wetlands of the southern part of the Loktak lake. It is almost entirely dependent on the lake for its survival, just like the fishing cat. Sarus cranes, black necked cranes, Gangetic river dolphins, the Indian mud turtle and numerous threatened species of birds and fauna, feed (off) and live in and around wetlands. It is the only resource apart from rivers that is found across India — from the high altitudes of trans-Himalayas, to the forests of the North-East, the deserts of Kutch and the coasts of peninsular India.

Though the opening lines of the DWR 2016 begins promisingly for the wetlands: “Central Government considers it necessary to supersede the Wetlands (Conservation and Management) Rules, 2010 for effective conservation and management of the wetlands in the country” — it might perhaps be best to do away with it completely in its present form, and develop instead, a progressive set of rules involving various stakeholders and experts. This of course, is if it wants to practice what it preaches — not only for the benefit of the communities but also animals dependent on these natural kidneys of our planet.

Make no mistake: The massacre at Mathura’s Jawahar Bagh is the state govt’s fault

How depressing is it that the Executive’s chronic reluctance to ever promptly attend to the public’s grievances is likely the biggest contributor to the tragic death toll in the Jawahar Bagh riot?

A common refrain among litigants, one that lawyers regularly hear, is that the bureaucrat or officer they went to for help told them “Court order lao (bring a court order).” The fact is, in a great number of situations, the official on the ground doesn’t lift his finger to correct violations of law or help the public without a court order. In cases where the law on a given subject is already clear, or where the law leaves things to the sole discretion of the officer at the table, “Court order lao” is usually shorthand for the famous line from Goodfellas: “F*** you, pay me.”

File photo of the Mathura clashes. PTIFile photo of the Mathura clashes. PTI

File photo of the Mathura clashes. PTI

For those of you who don’t want to pay the bureaucrats, pay the lawyers. Such unhelpful obstinacy on part of the Executive necessitates the filing of writ petitions for mandamus: directing the officer to do what the law required him to do anyway. Ironically, this approach often ends up hurting bureaucrats themselves: in rare cases, courts order compensation to be recovered from the personal salaries of uncooperative officials.

At the risk of offending the few bureaucrats who honestly try to help the public, let’s break the chain of events in an Indian citizen’s typical dealings with the State down to a now-familiar routine: Citizen has a grievance. He visits the office of the relevant public authority where he is reluctantly assured something will be done. Nothing is done. Citizen makes a representation, and after a month, he gets a reply, if he’s lucky.

The reply either assures him that the problem will be dealt with, or is not the Authority’s responsibility. Either way, nothing is done. Citizen approaches court. If he’s lucky, he leaves with a court order. But not before being made to wait for years, or even decades, and being forced to contest several rounds of litigations through our judicial hierarchy. Nothing is done. Citizen files Contempt Petition. If he’s lucky, something is finally done – or we see another round of frustrating and frivolous litigation before the Supreme Court.

Let us apply this framework to what has transpired in Jawahar Bagh, Mathura. From the court order that was the genesis of the riots, it seems that the petitioner (himself a lawyer named Vijay Pal Singh Tomar) submitted numerous representations regarding the illegal encroachments in the park in the last months of 2014. One of these representations was to the District Magistrate, who in turn wrote to the Chief Secretary of the State Government on 15 August, 2014. The District Horticulture Officer also wrote to the SSP, Mathura that over 2,400 trees had been illegally burnt by the Swadheen Bharat Subhash Sena. The court ordered that a public park shouldn’t be encroached upon in such a manner and orders action, saying that the “rule of law should be preserved”, on 20 May, 2015.

Now at least as on 20 May, 2015, the authorities were aware that they had to clear the squatters. The squatters too, would know by this time that the JCBs were coming, sooner or later. Obviously, nothing happened for over a year. It isn’t clear yet what the state government was waiting for, but their reluctance certainly assured the Sena plenty of time to stockpile ammunition and foment resentment, leading to Thursday’s tragedy.

Recall Arun Jaitley’s comments last month about the now common complaint of ‘judicial overreach’ by our Courts. When the Executive raises its hands in the manner described above, what alternative except overreach is left?

Central panel for more BRT corridors in Delhi

While the Delhi Government has scrapped the controversial BRT, a central panel has recommended that more such corridors should be set up and 6,000 buses procured for public transport in interventions worth Rs 20,000 crore for traffic decongestion in the national capital. Among the slew of measures favoured by the high-powered committee set up by Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu include introduction of congestion tax, effective parking price besides boost to walking, cycling infrastructure and public transport to discourage use of private vehicles. The inter-ministerial committee on ‘Decongestion of Traffic in Delhi’, headed by Urban Development Ministry Secretary Rajiv Gauba, has also called for better use of existing road space and traffic management instead of constructing more flyovers in the city. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The committee was set in 2014 following media reports on the havoc being caused by traffic congestion in the national capital. It has representatives from 19 different ministries, Delhi Police, among others. “The committee has recommended various measures including interventions worth Rs 20,000 crore through BRTS, walking and cycling infrastructure,” an official release today said. Expressing concern over 18 different Central and Delhi government departments and agencies handling different aspects of transportation in the city, the committee, in its 126-page report also sought Unified Metropolitan Transport Authority for better coordination, quick decision making and execution. The committee recommended that the explosive growth in automobile population needs to be checked quickly by adopting a ‘carrot and stick’ policy of enabling increased use of public and non-motorised transport and disincentivising use of private vehicles through deterrent parking pricing and congestion tax. The committee called for immediate procurement of 2,000 buses and another 4,000 in the next phase besides development of BRTS corridors on high density routes; provision of more crossings for pedestrians and cyclists, at least at every 250 metres; and signal free corridors to be avoided as they invite more private vehicles on to roads. It also called for a paradigm shift in transport planning and policy interventions and expressed the need for moving people more efficiently through effective public transport system than cars. The panel noted that 21 per cent of the city’s area was already under roads with limited scope for road network expansion. As 60 per cent of passenger trips are below 4 km distances and 80 per cent below 6 km lengths which are ideal for non-motorised transport, the committee strongly recommended development of necessary infrastructure for promoting walking and cycling in the national capital.

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