News and events accross and related to India , March 2010

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http://www.thestatesman.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=322671&catid=35

Defiant Maya in garland rerun

17 March 2010

LUCKNOW/PATNA, 17 MARCH: In a defiant riposte to her critics, Uttar Pradesh chief minister and BSP chief Miss Mayawati got herself again garlanded with currency notes to the tune of Rs 18 lakh here today. Two days ago, the CM had provoked national outrage by accepting a similar garland worth as much as Rs 20 crore according to some estimates, but pegged at Rs 21 lakh by the BSP. Miss Mayawati announced a phased agitation from 27 March to expose her rivals.
As the Opposition fumed, state PWD minister Mr Naseemuddin Siddiqui rubbed it in. “Wherever she goes, she will henceforth be greeted with garland of notes and not of flowers,” he told reporters, adding: "Joh Behenji se takraayega woh mitti mein mil jaayega” (whoever challenges Mayawati will be crushed). He claimed that party members from 18 UP zones have contributed a rupee each for the garland. On the flip side, the BSP has sacked its Karnataka spokesman Mr YN Sharma, who on Monday disclosed that the garland the CM had received during a rally was made up of currency notes, even as the party said it was one of flowers from Mysore. In Patna, Mr Ejaj Ali MP, who was suspended for unruly behaviour over the women's quota Bill, did a Mayawati, with his supporters greeting him with a Rs 1-lakh money garland today.SNS
 

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...employees-to-benefit-/articleshow/5703886.cms

Dearness allowance hiked by 8%, 50 lakh govt employees to benefit
20 Mar 2010, 0243 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The government on Friday extended relief to over 50 lakh central government employees from the soaring prices, giving them a 8%
increase in the dearness allowance. The decision, taken by the Union Cabinet and chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, will also be extended to the pensioners with similar hike in their Dearness Relief (DR) with effect from January 1, 2010.

The combined impact on the exchequer on account of both dearness allowance and dearness relief would be to the tune of Rs 6,969.36 crore per annum and Rs 8,131.20 crore in the financial year 2010-2011.

“The increase would be 8% over the existing rate of 27% of basic pay or pension,” information and broadcasting minister Ambika Soni told reporters on Friday after the Cabinet meeting.

The increase is in accordance with the accepted formula based on the recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission. Inflation has shot up to a 16-month high of 9.89% in February due to high prices of foods and fuels, which is now also spreading to other manufactured goods.

The hike will further push up the wage bill of the central government, which has to be more than double from Rs 24,000 crore in 2007-08 to over Rs 54,000 crore in 2010-11, following the Sixth Pay Commission award.

In other significant decision, the government has also decided to revive three mills of state-owned National Jute Manufacturers Corporation (NJMC), with two in West Bengal (Kinnison and Khardan) and one in Katihar, Bihar. However, three mills under NJMC — National, Union and Alexendra would be shut down.

“The revival schemes provide for additional budgetary support in form of interest-free loan for implementation of the scheme, to be refunded by NJMC to government from sale of assets and internal generation,” Mrs Soni said. The government will approach the Board of Industrial & Financial Reconstruction to sanction the revival plans of the three mills.

The government also approved a project which aims at rehabilitation of polluted sites. The project on ‘Capacity Building for Industrial Pollution Management’, to be assisted by World Bank, was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs. The project, with an estimated cost of $75.39 million (nearly Rs 343 crore) will be implemented on a pilot basis at four identified sites in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal for a period of five years.

The Cabinet has decided to pump in another Rs 687.06 crore for the Commonwealth Games to install high-end equipment and fittings necessary for the sporting extravaganza, to take place in October this year. Among other decisions, the government approved the revised cost of Rs 635 crore to revamp public sector Brahmaputra Valley Fertiliser Corporation’s Namrup project in Assam.
 

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...-Rs-216-crore-damages/articleshow/5713944.cms

Kerala panel asks Coca-Cola to pay Rs 216-crore damages
23 Mar 2010, 0240 hrs IST, ET Bureau & Agencies

NEW DELHI: COCA-COLA, the world’s largest beverages maker, should pay Rs 216 crore compensation for pollution and depleting groundwater, a Kerala government panel has said.

The nine-member committee, headed by additional chief secretary K Jayakumar, also recommended setting up of a tribunal and compensating the losses suffered by villagers in Plachimada, Palakkad district. The panel report, submitted to state water resources minister NK Premachandran in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday, held that besides heavy withdrawal of ground water, the bottling plant run by Coca-Cola’s bottling arm, Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages, had "inflicted harm on the farming and environment in the area" by dumping solid waste.

Sludge from the plant, supplied to farmers as fertiliser, contained dangerous levels of cadmium and lead, says the report, breaking up the damages into losses incurred under various heads between 1999 and 2004. While agricultural loss is pegged at Rs 84.16 crore, pollution of water resources is at Rs 62 crore, the cost of providing water is at Rs 20 crore, the damage to health at Rs 30 crore while wage loss and opportunity cost is at Rs 20 crore.

The plant was shut six years ago after protests against the company.

Coca-Cola, however, rejected the report. "It is unfortunate that the committee in Kerala was appointed on the unproven assumption that damage was caused and that it was caused by Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages," a Coca-Cola spokesman said.

Rival beverages company PepsiCo has also come under fire in the state over water consumption by its plant, also in Palakkad district. Last week, a Kerala assembly panel had said the company should cut down the use of water by 60% at its bottling plant at Puducheri.

Denying the charges, a PepsiCo spokesman had said: "Palakkad is a model plant and is one of the most water efficient units in the PepsiCo system.”
 

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http://www.ptinews.com/news/578277_Two-killed-in-Park-street-fire--many-injured

Two killed in Park street fire, many injured

STAFF WRITER 17:57 HRS IST

Kolkata, Mar 23 (PTI) At least two persons were killed and many others trapped and injured when a devastating fire broke out in an old multi-storeyed building on upscale Park Street in south Kolkata today.

Some firemen fighting the blaze with 40 tenders and snorkel ladders, gained entry in the building Stephen Court, which was engulfed with thick smoke, to rescue the trapped people.

Ladders were put up by the firemen to rescue people who scrambled out from windows on ledges of the building next to Music World Store and confectioners Flurys.

Eyewitnesses said that four persons were injured while jumping off the upper floors.

Unofficial reports said at least four persons jumped to their deaths.

The fire broke out in a lift between the fifth and sixth floors of the building, Fire Services Minister Pratim Chatterjee said.
 

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http://www.newsonair.com/news.asp?cat=state&id=ST1911

State News

Four dies in Kerala as bus fells into river



Mar 23
In Kerala, four passengers lost their lives when a private bus fell into river Meenachil at Kottayam this after noon. The ill-fated bus carrying about 42 passengers fell into the river after hitting an electric post.

Initial reports indicate that twelve passengers have been rescued. The death toll is likely to go up as the vehicle is lying submerged in water even after two hours of the tragedy. Two navy helicopters with divers and equipment have rushed to the spot from Kochi.
 

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...-finger-may-be-sacked/articleshow/5713763.cms

Nurse who cut baby's finger may be sacked
TNN, Mar 23, 2010, 03.29am IST

KOLKATA: The newborn whose finger was accidentally cut off by a nurse at the Institute of Child Health last Friday is still in a serious condition. There has been no improvement in her breathing problem.

The accused nurse Shampa Saha has been suspended and may be sacked for negligence, said institute director Apurba Ghosh.

"But we have to ensure that we don't do anything that might lead the nurse to take any drastic step. I saw her today and she appeared very shaky. The entire matter was an unfortunate accident. However, it is true that this does not make the damage caused to the infant's family any less," Ghosh said.

Maya Mukherjee, the head of the paediatrics department, said the 30-day-old baby's condition was still serious but not due to the injured finger.

The respiratory problem that she had developed right after birth was not getting better, she said.

"The baby's original condition was serious due to her respiratory problem. She is under constant observation. Her injured hand has been dressed," she said. The newborn is also showing intolerance to liquid food.

On Friday, Shampa Saha had accidentally chopped off a portion of the little finger of the baby's right hand while cutting a bandage.

The newborn's father babu Ghosal is very worried. "On Saturday night. there was a power cut around 11.30pm. For almost ten minutes, there was a total blackout in the neo-natal intensive care unit (NICU) where my baby is admitted. This means that if any infant was under ventilator then, he or she went without it for some time," he complained.

Ghosal said that at present he is only praying for his baby to recover. "The doctors say it will take at least another three to four weeks for my child's injured hand to heal. As she is still having serious breathing problem, we cannot think of shifting her to any other hospital right now. We are appealing to the institute authorities to return us our baby after curing her," Ghosal said.
 

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http://www.ptinews.com/news/579971_Kolkata-fire--Caretaker--assistant-arrested--24-dead


File photo of Smoke and flames billowing out of a
multi-storeyed building where a major fire broke out on
Park Street in Kolkata.PTI Photo

Kolkata fire: Caretaker, assistant arrested; 24 dead

STAFF WRITER 19:56 HRS IST

Kolkata, Mar 24 (PTI) The caretaker of the 150-year- old heritage building on upscale Park Street and his assistant were arrested today on negligence and other charges as the toll in the fire that swept through it climbed to 24 with the recovery of eight more bodies.

An FIR was lodged by the fire brigade against caretaker Tarun Bagadia along with his assistant Ramshankar Singh, Kolkata Police Commissioner Gautam Mohan Chakraborty said.

The promoter of the seven-storey Stephen Court building is absconding, police said.

Chakraborty said the fifth and sixth floors of the building where the fire broke out yesterday afternoon were constructed illegally. "These were later regularised," he said.

According to records with the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, there is one official trustee of the building along with 45 apportioned share holders. KMC has declared Stephen Court as a Grade-II heritage building for its architectural value.
 

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...function-CM-red-faced/articleshow/5720786.cms

Big B turns up for sea link function, CM red-faced
Prafulla Marpakwar & Ashley D'Mello, TNN, Mar 25, 2010, 02.11am IST

MUMBAI: Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan on Wednesday graced a Congress function for the first time in ages when he turned up as the special guest at a ceremony to inaugurate the second leg of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. Bachchan's presence at the ceremony had its impact by late evening. Chief minister Ashok Chavan, wary of the fallout in Delhi, insisted that he did not know Bachchan was to be the special guest.

Bachchan has been perceived as being close to the Samajwadi Party — his wife, Jaya, is still an MP of the party — and was brand ambassador of a campaign to promote Uttar Pradesh when Mulayam Singh Yadav was the state's chief minister.

More recently, he shared the dais with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, another Congress bete noire. But he has never been seen sharing space with Congress-NCP leaders — something which changed on Wednesday, when he rubbed shoulders with Chavan, deputy chief minister Chhagan Bhujbal and a host of state ministers.

"I was busy with state budget preparations the whole day and I found Mr Bachchan there when I reached the venue," Chavan said. Evidently the CM had missed the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation's huge ad on Wednesday morning featuring Bachchan's name prominently as special guest.

Bhujbal confirmed that MSRDC had invited Bachchan for the event. "He is among the metropolis's important celebrities and I feel there should be no hue and cry over his presence," he said. Mumbai Congress Committee president Kripa Shankar Singh, on the other hand, was quicker on the ball than Chavan; he boycotted the function. "It was not possible for me to share the dais with Amitabh Bachchan, who is the brand ambassador for BJP-ruled Gujarat," Singh said.

At the ceremony the Bollywood superstar said that the BWSL was not just a bridge joining Bandra and Worli but was emerging as a symbol of modern Mumbai. Bachchan, who created a sensation when he came on the roadway, also joined in the colourful vintage car drive held later.

But the ceremony also degenerated into a veiled mudslinging session between coalition partners Congress and NCP. Bhujbal, in an indirect reference to chief minister Chavan, said that ministers ought to clear files and not sit on them. Chavan, not to be outdone, took a dig at NCP ministers who headed MSRDC and said that there seemed to be preferential treatment for road-building in areas like Nagpur, Aurangabad and Beed where they hailed from.
 

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http://www.telegraphindia.com/1100325/jsp/nation/story_12259202.jsp

Alagiri rejects brother claim to father’s throne
G.C. SHEKHAR


Stalin

Alagiri

Chennai, March 24: The war of succession in the DMK has intensified with M.K. Alagiri, the eldest son of party chief M. Karunanidhi, declaring that he would not accept anyone as the leader after his father.

“There is no need to think of any other leader as long as Karunanidhi is around. But after him I will not accept anyone else as the leader of the DMK. Nobody has the stature or capacity to fill Karunanidhi’s place,” Alagiri said in an interview to a Tamil biweekly.

The remarks of Alagiri, 59, who is the Union chemicals minister, are directed at his younger brother and deputy chief minister M.K. Stalin, 57, who is being projected as Karunanidhi’s preferred successor as chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

Alagiri’s statement is till now the most open thumbs down from Karunanidhi’s eldest son to attempts to prepare Stalin as the undisputed heir apparent.

Disturbed by the outburst of Alagiri, made a few hours before the Union minister travels to Australia on an official visit, Karunanidhi, 86, wondered why discuss the future now.

“It is not at all necessary to think about what happens after me,” he said in a quavering voice before leaving to address a byelection public meeting at Pennagaram, 240km from here.

Stalin, who is spearheading the election campaign, has chosen not to react to the barb from his elder brother.

Stalin’s elevation as deputy chief minister and the pride of place given to him in the government and the party had been clear pointers that Karunanidhi would like the younger and politically more experienced son to take over at least the chief ministership probably before the May 2011 Assembly elections.

Keeping this in mind, Karunanidhi had at least twice remarked that he was contemplating retirement from governance after the World Tamil Conference in June this year.

But after facing stiff opposition from Alagiri, Karunanidhi backtracked, saying he was yet to decide the timing of his retirement. More recently he asserted that he was physically and mentally quite healthy, though he had been confined to a wheelchair after a spine surgery, indicating that he was not vacating the chief minister’s chair in a hurry.

Stalin, sources said, was not amused at this dilution, especially after his supporters in the party had recently released a book on him, scripted by a senior journalist, proclaiming his leadership qualities.

Almost all editors of leading English and Tamil dailies and magazines were in attendance at that function, singing praise of Stalin., which he watched through a live telecast on the family-owned Kalaignar TV.

Though rewarded with a cabinet berth in Delhi, Alagiri has been insisting on a powerful post within the party to expand his control beyond the southern districts which come under his charge presently.

After having won all the 10 Lok Sabha seats from southern Tamil Nadu, he even got three Opposition MLAs from those districts to cross over to the DMK. Not to be outdone, Stalin got an ADMK legislator from central Tamil Nadu to switch allegiance to the DMK.

“Though Alagiri recently said he and Stalin were like a double barrelled gun, in reality they resemble two guns ready to fire at each other — so deep seated is the animosity between them. All efforts by our leader to patch differences have failed. They will be at each other’s throats the moment Karunanidhi is not in the picture,” a senior DMK minister said.
 

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/delhi/Metro-crane-topples-2-hurt/articleshow/5720851.cms

Metro crane topples, 2 hurt
TNN, Mar 25, 2010, 02.44am IST

NEW DELHI: In yet another mishap at a Delhi Metro construction site, a Hydra ton crane toppled over two autorickshaws near Ali village on the Badarpur line. The driver of one auto, who was seated in it, and the crane driver were injured in the incident.

Around 4.10pm, a Hydra crane which was lifting steel rods in the barricaded area of a Delhi Metro site between Mohan Estate and Tughlaqabad Metro stations, lost balance and toppled over. The boom of the crane landed on top of two autos that were parked on the pavement right outside the barricades.

The autos got crushed. One of the drivers suffered head injuries and was rushed to AIIMS Trauma Centre where his condition is reported to be stable. The victim has been identified as Rajesh Kumar, who is from Uttar Pradesh. The autos were lined up right next to the barricades and eyewitnesses said this was a daily practice to which no one from the construction site has ever objected.

"We park the autos along the Metro barricades everyday at the time our shift changes. A Delhi Metro guard normally tells us to move if any major work is about to start. But today there was no warning and before we realized, a crane broke the barricades and crushed two autos. One of the drivers is injured," said Yamuna Prasad Mishra, whose auto was parked right next to the two which were crushed.

Sushil Dubey, a worker of the sub-contractor of IDEB — the main contractor responsible for construction of this corridor in that area — was also injured in the incident and is admitted in hospital. "I was standing near the bus stop when I suddenly heard a loud sound. A crane at the Metro site overturned on two autos and one of the drivers got injured," added Vivek Anand, who works for a car showroom located near the accident site. He added that autos normally remain parked on the footpath beside the main road.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), meanwhile, said the cause of the mishap involving the Hydra is still being probed. "A committee headed by the chief project manager (southeast) has been constituted to investigate the incident. The reason why the crane toppled is not known yet," said a DMRC spokesperson.

Meanwhile, a case of negligence has been registered at the Badarpur police station. "The incident was reported by a passer-by at 4.05pm. No one has been arrested yet. We are probing who can be held responsible for it," said a senior police official. The incident led to traffic snarls on Mathura Road as two more cranes were rushed to the site to lift the Hydra that had overturned.
 

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...-push-after-SC-ruling/articleshow/5725392.cms

Ranganath report gets a push after SC ruling
26 Mar 2010, 0526 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling allowing a 4% reservation for Backward Muslims in Andhra Pradesh is certain to pressure Congress to implement the Ranganath Mishra Commission report.

With a section of Congress already backing the implementation of the report, which talks of a 10% reservation for Backward Muslims and also of bringing Muslims and Dalit Christians into the ambit of reservations, Congress will have to take a political call on whether the electoral benefits of a quota for Muslims is worth the twin prospect of a ‘Hindu backlash’ and a possible revival of BJP’s core plank.

Even before Thursday’s SC ruling, senior Congress leader Arjun Singh had set the ball rolling on the matter by asking the Centre not to sleep over the report. Also, a section of the party’s top leadership has been speaking in favour of implementing the report as a means to take on OBC leaders of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar — Mulayam Singh Yadav and Lalu Prasad. With a quota for Backward Muslims, if it is implemented, expected to eat into the existing 27% reservations for OBCs, the leadership is seeing in the Ranganath Mishra report a strategy to fox Yadav chieftains who attempted to corner Congress during the passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill by demanding reservations for Muslims (and OBCs) within the proposed 33% quota.

But it is not just a section of Congress which will attempt to bring pressure on the party’s top leadership. With the Left Front government in West Bengal having implemented the Ranganath Mishra report’s recommendation, the state’s Opposition Trinamool Congress will be eager to see the Centre, of which it is a constituent, take the same step. Ms Mamata Banerjee’s party had, like the Yadav leaders, demanded separate reservation for Muslims within women’s reservation. In Bihar, which goes to the polls by the end of 2010, LJP’s Ramvilas Paswan has also come out demanding the implementation of the report.

Congress would have to weigh the pros and cons of the decision as the Muslim quota could act as double edged sword in cowbelt states. In UP and Bihar, it is attempting to woo back the upper castes as well as Muslims. While in Bihar a section of the upper castes are said to be disenchanted with chief minister Nitish Kumar, in UP Brahmins who voted for Ms Mayawati’s BSP may not be averse to giving Congress a chance if it emerges as winning force.

However, the countervailing logic of those who are backing the report is that it would target OBC quota primarily and would give a good reason for Muslims, already favourably disposed towards Congress, to come back to its fold.

For those making this argument, the SC judgment could come more than handy. It has given legitimacy to Muslim reservations. It permitted Andhra Pradesh to provide 4% reservation in jobs and education to 14 backward Muslim groups while asking a Constitution Bench to consider the validity of the judgment. The decision upturned the decision of a seven-judge Constitution Bench of the Andhra Pradesh high court which had quashed the state government’s proposal on grounds that it was unconstitutional to earmark reservations on religious grounds.
 

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...chchan-has-him-fuming/articleshow/5725384.cms

Congress spectacle over Bachchan has him fuming
26 Mar 2010, 0516 hrs IST, ET Bureau

NEW DELHI: The appeal for ‘reverse McCarthyism’ seems to be growing in the Congress. Its leaders in Delhi and Maharashtra on Thursday were engaged in labelling mega star Amitabh Bachchan a ‘rightist’ and claimed that its workers were angry over the Maharashtra government’s invitation to Gujarat’s brand ambassador for the inauguration of Bandra-Worli sea link.

Congress leaders in Delhi and Mumbai vied with each other to paint Mr Bachchan, who is a persona non grata for 10 Janpath, as some sort of a ‘social deviant’. Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters that party workers were upset with Mr Bachchan’s participation at the function as he is someone associated with Narendra Modi.

The Congress general secretary, of course, had little interest in finer details such as the function was organised by the state government and not his political party or that Mr Bachchan is one of the most-celebrated residents of Mumbai.

Taking cue from Delhi, chief minister Ashok Chavan said adequate care should have been taken on the invitations for the function. But public undertakings minister, a NCP nominee, Jaidutt Kshirsagar said that he had personally invited Mr Bachchan for the function. “Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar are icons and I felt that their presence was required at the inauguration of this iconic bridge,” the minister said.

The show of inelegance has naturally upset Mr Bachchan. He wrote in his blog that he was invited by a minister in the Maharashtra government to attend the function.

A similar controversy was triggered by CPM leaders in New Delhi after the LDF government in Kerala invited Mr Bachchan to be the state’s ambassador. Polit bureau member Sitaram Yechury had said that his party did not approve the move.

Reacting to this, Mr Bachchan wrote: “By making me deliberately political... the idea is not to dissuade me from accepting the position, but indeed to get many of their facets and shortcomings an endorsement for integrity. You want to stop me from promoting tourism in a state because you have reason to believe that there are political connotations to the event. This is such rubbish! All I shall be doing will be working in a short film that shall highlight the various places of interest in the state, so that it encourages more tourists to visit the region.”
 

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...marital-sex-Former-CJ/articleshow/5724305.cms

Indian scriptures bar pre-marital sex: Former CJ
25 Mar 2010, 2141 hrs IST, PTI

BANGALORE: Former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and BJP MP Rama Jois today said Indian scriptures bar premarital sex and Indian society still consider pre-marital sexual relationship not good.

Jois, also a former Governor, in a statement said "the oral observations made by one of the judges of the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in the context of male and female having sexual intercourse prior to marraige and question posed by the learned judge Who says it is bad? has given rise to counter question: who says it is good".

Quoting from scriptures, he said one of the nine directives of dhrama prescribed by Mahabharata was "Prajanseveshu dareshu" one should procure children only under wedlock which by necessary implication bars pre-marital sexual activity between man and woman, he said.

"The object and purpose of marriage as declared by the Dharmasastras was not merely to satisfy the mutual carnal desire of man and a woman, though it did constitute the basis of the desire for marriage", he said.

Jois also refers to various Indian scriptures that upholds fidelity between spouses, mutual trust and discourages the `discarding attitude' of a spouse to pursue other gains.
 

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...ia-with-money-garland/articleshow/5724629.cms

BSP comes out with photo showing Sonia with money garland
25 Mar 2010, 2319 hrs IST, PTI

LUCKNOW: In a clear bid to turn the tables on detractors, the BSP today came out with an old photograph of Congress president Sonia Gandhi wearing a garland of currency notes at a protest demonstration here.

Accusing the opposition of trying to malign UP Chief Minister Mayawati's image by raking a controversy over the garland of currency notes presented to her at a BSP rally here, senior party leader and state PWD minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui asked as to why no question was raised when the Congress chief wore a similar garland.

"When the BSP supremo is offered such a garland, a lot of hue and cry is raised but when Congress president wears it no one raises a question," Siddiqui said while displaying a photograph in which Gandhi is seen wearing a garland made of currency notes.

The opposition, however, dismissed it as a "mere gimmick" by the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, which is facing the heat over Mayawati's money garland issue.

The BSP leader also displayed photographs of BJP leader L K Advani with a golden crown and Samajawadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav holding a silver club.

"While the BSP chief's garland was made from donations given by the poor and dalit supporters, the others were offered costly items from the money of capitalists and industrialists," he alleged.

Attacking Samajwadi Party, Siddiqui said "how could a simple teacher like Mulayam Singh Yadav amass such huge wealth.

"Not only he himself but his family members like brother Shivpal Singh Yadav, sons Akhilesh and Prateek and daughter-in -law Dimple today own tens of thousand crores," he alleged.

The Congress said the BSP's move was a "futile bid" to divert people's attention from the "real" issue.

"Sonia Gandhi does not require anyone's certificate as all are aware that she is in public life neither for power nor money," Congress leader Akhilesh Pratap Singh said.

"Those releasing some photograph of her in which she is seen with a garland with few currency notes should know that this cannot divert people's attention from the real issue of the multi-crore garland offered to Mayawati," he said.

On Advani's photo, BJP's UP unit president Hriday Narain Dixit said "the two things (crown and cash garland) cannot be compared.

"We demand that the BSP tell the people about the source of the garland which was offered to Mayawati," Dixit said.

Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said the BSP cannot divert the attention from the issue through "these gimmicks as people know that through the garland, they had tried to convert their black money into white".

Siddique claimed that the opposition was nervous as the "dalits and the poor were giving their full support to the BSP and were voting for it in a big way".

Similar protests were also held in other parts of the state with party workers and leaders resolving to offer more money garlands to the BSP president on her visit to their districts.

BSP had given a call for protests in all district headquarters of the state today against the opposition's alleged "misinformation campaign" following the "maharally" on March 15 to mark the birth anniversary of the BSP founder Kanshi Ram and silver jubilee of the party.
 

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http://economictimes.indiatimes.com...s-Panagarh-army-base-/articleshow/5725918.cms

Major fire breaks out in West Bengal's Panagarh army base
26 Mar 2010, 0958 hrs IST, IANS

KOLKATA: A major fire broke out in the ammunition depot of the Indian Army base in West Bengal's Panagarh early Friday, gutting one of the sheds, an official said.

There were no reports of any loss of human lives, defence ministry spokesperson Wing Commander Mahesh Upasani told reporters.

The fire in the Burdwan district base began at 1.30 am and was controlled in two-and-a half hours by eight fire engines.

"Our crisis management team led by the ammunition depot Chief Executive Officer, Colonel AD Shetty, fought through the night to douse the fire. However, shed number 16 was gutted. By 4 am the blaze was controlled," Upasani said.

An army fact-finding team led by Major General Choudry has been rushed from Kolkata to ascertain the cause of the fire, which had led to panic in nearby villages.

Reports from Panagarh said people from 20 villages near the base had fled their houses as the leaping flames were accompanied by big explosions.

The ammunition depot in Panagarh, about 120 km north of Kolkata, is one of the largest of the Indian Army.
 

Pintu

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/5730221.cms

Court rejects CBI report for case closure
TNN, Mar 27, 2010, 05.22am IST

CHANDIGARH: In a crucial twist to the cash-in-bag case, the special CBI magistrate on Friday not only rejected the agency's closure report but also directed it to conduct further investigation in it.

Special CBI magistrate Darsha`n Singh passed these orders while dismissing a petition filed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court Bar Association opposing the CBI's request for case closure.

The court has fixed May 26 for next hearing in the case. It dismissed the protest petition filed by the Bar association on grounds of locus standi and its maintainability. It also rejected the application filed by the accused in the case, wherein they had objected to the appearance of advocate Anupam Gupta in the case on behalf of the Bar body on grounds that he had already appeared in it earlier as public prosecutor.

Welcoming the decision, Gupta claimed that the Bar's paramount objective in intervening in the case was to ensure that it is not given a burial by the acceptance of report. "The objective of Bar... has been vindicated, as our part was to prevent the acceptance of report," he added.

Last December, the CBI had filed a closure report in the case as it did not get the sanction to prosecute some of the main suspects. The scam came to light after Rs 15 lakh was delivered at the door of HC judge Nirmaljit Kaur on August 13, 2008.
 

Pintu

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...-govt-to-clear-Husain/articleshow/5729699.cms

SC refuses to order govt to clear Husain
Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, Mar 27, 2010, 03.08am IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a PIL seeking a direction to the Centre to take steps to quash all criminal complaints against 95-year-old M F Husain but stressed that the celebrated painter had nothing to fear if he wanted to return to India.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices J M Panchal and Deepak Verma cited the proactive role the higher judiciary had taken to send a signal to the world that it was not meant to be a tool for harassing anyone, least of it the famous painter.

The CJI said high courts had dismissed pleas for initiation of action against Husain and the apex court had consolidated the trial in several complaints at one place — Patiala House courts in New Delhi — to save the painter the trouble of attending proceedings at various places.

But the SC could not direct the Centre to withdraw complaints filed by private persons, the Bench said. It also rejected the plea of petitioner Bhim Singh, president of the J&K Panthers Party, for an advisory to Prime Minister Monmohan Singh to ensure honourable, secure and respectful return of Husain to India.

“What can the PM do in such a situation? No one can prevent Husain from coming to India. But no one can also force him to come to India. Who says he does not have a right to lead a dignified life. But can anyone force him to come to India,” the Bench asked.

“Husain has decided to reside in a foreign country. What can the PM do,” the Bench said and asked the petitioner to withdraw the PIL and approach the government with the grievance.

Husain was given citizenship by Qatar recently sparking off fresh debate over the painter’s forced exile because of the threat to life extended by ultra-right wing activists, who have taken umbrage to certain nude paintings of the artist.

The petitioner put the number of cases against the artist at 95. The apex court had last year transferred nine cases pending against him at various places to New Delhi for a joint trial.
 

Pintu

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http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...al-resignation-letter/articleshow/5744196.cms

TMC waits for Suman's formal resignation letter
Mohua Chatterjee, TNN, Mar 31, 2010, 03.10am IST

NEW DELHI: Trinamool Congress is waiting for a formal resignation letter from its MP Kabir Suman, who has sent across text messages to party boss Mamata Banerjee and TMC chief whip in Lok Sabha Sudip Bandopadhyay, saying that he is quitting from the party as well as from his Lok Sabha membership.

TMC has already moved against Suman and sought his disqualification from the lower House for anti-party activities, sources in the Speaker's office said.

"For a while now, there have been ideological differences between him and the party, specially on the issue of Maoists. While Trinamool Congress is against the violence propagated by Maoists, he (Suman) has been openly supporting them," Bandopadhyay told TOI here on Tuesday.

Hinting that the party had been considering expelling him, Bandopadhyay said, "If one of our MP's comments create confusion about our party's stand, then we have to think of taking steps to stop it."

TMC chief and railway minister Mamata Banerjee refused to comment on the issue when asked about it, saying "it is a party matter that Sudip will deal with".

Now, the party is waiting for Suman's letter to arrive as it can't take any action on the basis of text messages.

Differences between Suman and Mamata have been mounting for some time now and the two were not on talking terms. Suman's sympathetic stand towards Maoists and outbursts against alleged in-house corruption was a constant source of embarrassment for the party.

According to TMC sources, his comments in favour of Maoists were used by the ruling CPM to show that TMC was hand in glove with the Maoists, according to party sources.
 

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http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/ap-govt-extended-undue-benefit-to-satyam-cag/390234/

AP govt extended undue benefit to Satyam: CAG
Prashanth Chintala / Hyderabad March 31, 2010, 0:56 IST

A report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) reveals how the Andhra Pradesh government extended “undue benefit” to Satyam Computer Services and Maytas Infra Ltd founded by B Ramalinga Raju.

The benefits were extended prior to Raju's confession to the massive accounting fraud at the IT services company in January 2009.

The CAG report for the year ended March 31, 2009, pointed out that the state government had “passed on undue benefit of Rs 165.75 crore” to Satyam in allotment of 50 acres at Kapuluppada village of Visakhapatnam district at a concessional rate of Rs 10 lakh per acre as against the “prevailing value” of Rs 4 crore to Rs 4.55 crore an acre.

The report also stated that due to “deficiencies in award of work relating to development of Machilipatnam Port” to the Maytas Infra-led consortium, the state government had been “saddled with the payment of Rs 335 crore as against nil investment initially contemplated”.

Ironically, both the projects did not take off, with Satyam Computer plunging into a crisis following unfolding of the accounting scam and Maytas Infra suffering substantial collateral damage. The managements of both companies changed hands subsequently, with Tech Mahindra taking over Satyam and IL&FS acquiring Maytas.

According to Mahindra Satyam sources, the 50 acres allotted near Visakhapatnam, had been surrendered at the request of the state government before the new management took over the company. On the other hand, government sources said the Machilipatnam Port project did not take off as Maytas failed to achieve financial closure.

According to the CAG report, the state government's ICT policy stipulated allotment of 0.30 acres at concessional rate to a company for every 100 jobs created. As Satyam had promised to provide 2,500 jobs, it was entitled to 7.5 acres.

“However, as against 7.5 acres entitled at a concessional rate of Rs 10 lakh per acre, the government allotted 50 acres at a concessional price. As against Rs 170 crore (Rs 4 crore x 42.5 acres), the company paid a meagre amount of Rs 4.25 crore (Rs 10 lakh x 42.5 acres) towards cost of land allotted in excess (that is, 42.5 acres) of the limit prescribed in the ICT policy,” CAG stated. Thus, CAG said, “undue benefit of at least Rs 165.75 crore” was extended to Satyam.

In the case of Machilipatnam project, CAG said the state government had initially decided to develop the port at Gogileru. After issue of bids and a pre-bid meeting, the project was awarded to a consortium of four companies, including Maytas Infra. The Director of Ports also handed over government land to the extent of 412.57 acres to the consortium, which proposed to develop the port at an estimated cost of Rs 1,225 crore.

However, due to representations received from the public, the government subsequently decided to develop the port at Gilakaladinne and not Gogileru. The consortium demanded a payment of Rs 335 crore for change in the location and the government agreed to pay.

CAG stated the government's explanation that the payment of additional cost to the firm was certified by New Delhi-based Water and Power Consultancy Services ( India) Ltd was "not acceptable".
 

prahladh

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India poised to overtake China's growth rate: Chidambaram

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-poised-to-overtake-Chinas-growth-rate-Chidambaram/articleshow/5746334.cms

India poised to overtake China's growth rate: Chidambaram

"While the last decade was remarkable and exciting, this decade will be more exciting for India. There is more possibility that India could overtake China's growth rates," he said at a Business Standard-organized function here last night.

Is it a wet dream or is he serious about this. The reason I ask is 'cause every time I read such statements by Biggies they don't say how or why.

What should be our growth rates this decade to be an economy the size of Japan or China.
 
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