Monday, August 31, 2009

Dy CM misleading people on express highway: Cong

Chandigarh, August 30

Congress spokesperson Sukhpal Singh Khaira has slammed Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal for �misleading people on various projects in the state�.

Reacting to the scrapping of the Mohali-Phagwara Expressway project, Khaira said the project was a non-starter from very beginning, but the SAD continued misleading people.

�Fake and frivolous promises by Sukhbir have become the order of the day. Earlier, the promise of metro-rail in Ludhiana had fallen then the international cricket stadium at Bathinda remains a non-starter,� Khaira, MLA from Bholath, said.

He said even the poll promise of surplus power to Punjab in three years stated in the election manifesto of the SAD-BJP had turned out to be a bundle of lies. Not even a brick had been added to the thermal plant proposed at

Talwandi Sabo, the foundation stone of which was laid in September 2008 with fanfare. All other so-called thermal plants of Rajpura and Gidderbaha, brainchildren of Sukhbir, were like building castles in the air.

He said much-publicised projects of thermal plants, metro-rail, Express highways etc were a part of propaganda for votes.

The Congress leader said Punjab had a loan of over Rs 63,000 crore, farmers under a debt of Rs 35,000 crore driving them to suicides, corruption rampant, political victimisation continued, education and health were in a shambles, 40 per cent people did not have safe drinking water.

Even after 60 years of independence, paving of streets in villages had not been done.

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Deputy CM’s chopper makes forced landing

Ferozepur, August 30

The Bell 230 chopper ferrying Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal was forced to make an emergency landing in Jalalabad this morning following the detection of a suspected technical fault just before the landing. However, Sukhbir and the crew landed safely. The Deputy Chief Minister was returning from New Delhi by the helicopter chartered by the state government from Prem Air.

The moment the two pilots experienced some difficulty just before the scheduled landing at the BSF battalion headquarters in Jalalabad, about 50 km from here, they steered away the chopper into the air and later had a �soft landing� at an open place in the Gobind Nagar area about 500 yards from the BSF helipad.

While the preliminary reports have pointed towards a technical fault in the cyclical control of the helicopter, the state government has referred the matter to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation for an inquiry.

Officials said the pilots shed fuel before steering the helicopter to an unscheduled landing site.

Chandigarh (TNS): Preliminary reports indicate that a technical snag led to the emergency landing by Sukhbir�s helicopter a little away from the scheduled landing spot at the BSF helipad at Jalalabad.

Chief Minister�s media adviser Harcharan Bains said it appeared that there was a glitch in the cyclical control of the helicopter.

Meanwhile, Sukhbir has thanked his well-wishers who have been frantically enquiring about his welfare since morning.

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State deserves a lot, Sukhbir to Centre

Ferozepur, August 30

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal today exhorted the union government to declare Punjab as a special agricultural zone (SAZ) on the pattern of SEZs as this border state, with 1.3 per cent geographical area, was contributing 70 per cent wheat and 40 per cent rice to national pool. He said the Centre should recognise the role of Punjab in making India self-sufficient on the food-security front.

Sukhbir said the time had come that the union government came out with a long-term package to enable farmers of the state to augment agricultural production to meet the growing demand of food from increasing population. While proposing the blue print for the SAZ, Sukhbir said the same should include assured free power supply to the farm sector, tax-free subsidised agro inputs like fertilisers, pesticides, seeds and diesel.

Besides, there should be guaranteed marketing and export of agro products at price-linked rates and the revitalisation of an age-old canal irrigation system at a cost of Rs 3,400 crore.

On the second day of his thanksgiving tour of Jalalabad, Sukhbir also demanded reimbursement of Rs 3,160 crore incurred by the state government in providing free power to the farm sector till Punjab was declared a SAZ. While justifying giving power to the farmers free of cost, Sukhbir said it was being done to enable them to contribute a maximum share of wheat and rice to the Central pool.

Addressing a public gathering after laying the foundation stones of three 66-KVA grid substations being established at Chak Janisar, Ghattian Wali Jattan and Kandh Wala Hazar Khan, Sukhbir said Punjab was bleeding itself to slow death to keep India alive. He said due to over exploitation of groundwater, even NASA had warned Punjab that if it continued to draw groundwater at this level, within next 10 years the state could become a desert.

Sukhbir said due to scanty rains during this paddy transplantation season, Punjab bought power from the open market at Rs 7.30 per unit and gave power for 8 hours per day free to the farmers so that Punjab could fulfil its obligation to contribute more than 40 per cent rice to the central pool.

He said despite drought-like conditions, Punjab was hopeful of exceeding last year�s production target while achieving a record production of 140 lakh metric tonne of paddy this year, in contrast to a total failure of crops in UP, Bihar and MP.

Continuing the stone-laying spree, the Deputy CM laid the foundation stones for five rural water supply schemes at Araian Wala, Chak Ararian Wala, Chak Rohi Wala, Chak Janisar and Ghattian Wali Bodala. He also inaugurated a water supply scheme at Bahmaniwala, besides laying the foundation stones for four link roads at Kottu Fangian, Chak Khrunjh, Aliana and Ghattian Wali Jattan.

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Federer, Serena begin title defence

New York, August 30

Roger Federer and Serena Williams will begin the defence of their U.S. Open titles at Flushing Meadows on Monday, while Kim Clijsters returns to grand-slam tennis for the first time in two years. World number one Federer, chasing a modern-day record sixth straight title at Flushing Meadows, plays American wild card Devin Britton in the first round in his first grand-slam event since the birth of his twin daughters last month.

The Swiss, bidding to add the U.S. Open to the French Open and Wimbledon titles he won earlier this year, is hoping to equal the mark set by American Bill Tilden in the 1920s. Moreover, Federer can extend his record of grand-slam wins to 16 by winning in New York.

It is a far cry from 12 months ago when he arrived in New York without having won one of the first three grand slams for the first time since 2002. �I�m just more relaxed this time,� he said. �I�ve already won slams this year.

That takes away pressure from having to do well here, like the feeling I had last year, not having won a slam last year, trying to get the first one. This year is different. I feel like I�m playing great. That gives me obviously a lot of confidence and relaxes my mind.�

Andy Roddick opens his campaign against German Bjorn Phau. Women�s champion Serena Williams, seeded second, plays fellow American Alexa Glatch in the first round. Victory for Williams over the next two weeks would give her a 12th grand-slam title, equalling Billie-Jean King�s mark.

Serena\'s sister, third seed Venus Williams, plays the first night match against Russian Vera Dushevina, while the tournament begins with the return of Clijsters after two years off the tour. � Reuters

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New Zealand Tour of Sri Lanka

Colombo, August 30

Sri Lanka clinched second spot behind South Africa in the official rankings as they swept aside New Zealand by 96 runs in the final cricket Test today to sweep the series 2-0. Left-arm spinner Rangana Herath claimed five wickets as the Kiwis, set an improbable victory target of 494 runs, were bowled out for 397 in their second innings just before tea on the fifth day.

Sri Lanka had to overcome spirited batting by Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori and heavy rain during the lunch break that delayed resumption by 35 minutes to build on their 202-run win in the first Test at Galle. Vettori hit 140, his fourth Test century, to lead a stirring fightback by the lower order after the top batsmen had failed to put up any resistance.

The left-hander frustrated the Sri Lankans for more than four hours in which he faced 189 deliveries and hit 16 boundaries, before he was last man to be dismissed. Vettori scored 272 runs and claimed 10 wickets in the series, and in the process became only the eighth batsman in the world to achieve the double of 3,000 runs and 300 wickets. � AFP

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Forcefull Fisichella

Spa-Francorchamps, August 30

After 29 false starts, the Vijay Mallya-owned Force India finally nixed the hoodoo and scored their maiden Formula One points with Giancarlo Fisichella finishing second in the Belgian Grand Prix here today.

The 36-year-old Italian driver, rumoured to have one foot in Ferrari, shunned extravagance to run a flawless race and trailed Kimi Raikkonen\'s Ferrari, which had snatched the lead using the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, all the way for a podium finish and earn eight valuable points.

The Italian finished less than a second behind Raikkonen. Fisichella\'s Force India teammate Adrian Sutil had a rather rollercoaster outing with the German eventually finishing 11th.

With this, Fisichella renewed his tryst with Spa, which has traditionally been benign to him. It was at the same track in 1997 that Fisichella had finished second in a Jordan car.

For a car without the KERS boost, Fisichella displayed amazing racecraft in a race marked and marred by opening lap pile-up, early safety car and pit-stop fumbles. The opening lap scramble cost defending champion Lewis Hamilton and current drivers\' title leader Jenson Button their races as both spun off.

The turn five mishap also ended the race for Renault rookie Romain Grosjean and Torro Rosso\'s Jaime Alguersuari.

Even though Fisichella was elated with the show, the 36-year-old Italian felt he could have won the race but for KERS.

\"Of course I could have won it. It\'s a great result. The target was to win our first points and I finished second to get eight points. So that is great but I\'m still a little sad since I could have won the race,\" Fisichella said.

\"I was quicker than Kimi and it\'s only because of KERS that he got ahead of me. Still I kept pressing hard and finished less than one second behind the leader, which is great,\" said the veteran driver. � PTI

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Gail signs pact for buying gas from RIL\'s KG-D6

New Delhi, August 30

State-run GAIL India Ltd has signed a contract to buy natural gas from Reliance Industries for production of LPG.

GAIL signed a Gas Sales and Purchase Agreement (GSPA) on August 28 for buying 2.6 million standard cubic meter per day of gas from RIL\'s KG-D6 fields at Government approved price of $4.2 per million British thermal unit.

\"We have signed the GSPA and gas supplies are likely to begin from September 3,\" a GAIL official said. The state-run firm will use the gas sourced from KG-D6 at six LPG production plants.

The government had placed LPG plants at priority number three after fertiliser and power plants, for receipt of KG-D6 gas. Other sectors identified included city gas and steel.

RIL has so far contracted gas supplies to 15 fertiliser firms, 19 power plants and three steel makers. � PTI

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Skoda to launch small car in 2011

Chandigarh, August 30

Skoda Auto India, a part of the Volkswagen Group, will launch its SUV, Yeti and a small car (in the 1-1.2 litre category) in the next two years. While the company is planning to launch Yeti in 2010, the small car will hit the roads in 2011 and will be priced below its entry-level car, Fabia.

Talking to TNS here last night, Thomas Kuehl, board member, Skoda Auto India, said Yeti would be showcased in India in January 2010 and will be launched commercially later next year. The small car will be in the Hyundai i-10 price bracket. �This car has crossed the feasibility study stage, and is in the final stages of design. Cars below Rs 5 lakh constitute nearly 80 per cent of the total Indian market. India is predominantly a small car market and we have a clear strategy to grow in the Indian market,,� said Kuehl, who is heading the company�s India operations.

The small car will also be a completely knocked-down unit. All Skoda India models, including the Superb, Octavia and the Laura are CKD units and are assembled at the company\'s plants in India, at Aurangabad and Chakkan near Pune. Yeti, on the other hand will be in the same price bracket as Laura.

Skoda India registered a 38 pc volume growth in 2008 over the previous year selling around 16,250 cars across models.

However, it enjoys only a six per cent market share currently in the B+ segment, while it is currently the market leader in the premium segment (cars priced between Rs 13-26 lakh) with a 55 per cent market share.

Kuehl said the company was also planning to increase its dealer network from the present 60 to around 90 by 2011. \"We plan to add 10 dealerships a year,\" Kuehl said. He added that the company would now focus on penetration in the tier-II and tier-III cities that are the main markets for sub-Rs 5 lakh cars.

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Gas Row

New Delhi, August 30

Mukesh Ambani-led RIL has asked the Centre to nominate users for incremental gas from its Bay of Bengal fields, saying that it has not denied natural gas to any government-identified customer.

Rubbishing Anil Ambani Group\'s charges of \"hoarding\" gas and creating \"artificial scarcity\", RIL executive director and head of oil and gas business PMS Prasad said customers for about one-fourth of the initial 40 mmscmd of gas from KG-D6 fields are yet to draw due to failure at their ends.

Anil Ambani Group, which is fighting a legal battle with Reliance Industries for obtaining gas at a price of $2.34 pet mmBtu had alleged that RIL was deliberately under producing to create artificial scarcity. The Supreme Court is to hear the case from October 20.

In a letter to Petroleum Secretary RS Pandey, Prasad said of the customers identified by the government to receive the initial 40 million standard cubic meters per day of gas, NTPC, Dabhol, Essar and GAIL are yet to draw a single unit.

NTPC, which was allocated 2.7 mmscmd, is yet to sign a contract, while Ratnagiri Gas and Power � the owner of Dabhol � has signed a contract for 2.7 mmscmd but has not begun drawing yet. Essar and GAIL between them are expected to start taking 4 mmscmd of gas by next month.

\"Of the allocated quantity of 40 mmscmd, allocation to the extent of 9.4 mmscmd remains un-operational till date,\" he wrote. \"No customer who has been allocated gas by government, has been denied gas for reasons attributable to RIL.\"

RIL said several firms had sought KG-D6 gas at government-approved price of $4.2 per mmBtu and demanded \"existing customers\" in various sector be identified immediately so that production can be ramped up to 80 mmscmd.

\"We request that the government allocate gas to the existing customers in various sectors so that the production from KG-D6 can reach 80 mmscmd in line with the approved development plan (for the fields),\" Prasad wrote on August 28.

RIL, he said, was supplying 37 mmscmd of gas to customers identified by the Government.

Without naming the Anil Ambani Group firm RNRL which had issued statements and released advertisements in newspapers charging RIL of \"hoarding\" gas and creating \"artificial scarcity\", he said \"the ridiculous allegations\" reflected \"utter ignorance\" of gas business and \"incomprehension\" of economics of complex large scale deepwater project.

\"Since the government has already approved a price formula for 5 years, it is impossible to understand how any contractor can now benefit by not producing gas especially when there is so much demand as to immediately consume all 80 mmscmd gas at price approved by the Government.\" \"RIL in fact has been flooded by requests for supplies which it has been taking up with the Government for allocation to these consumers as it continues to ramp up production,\" he wrote. � PTI

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BJP is imploding: Jaswant

New Delhi, August 30

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is �imploding�, says Jaswant Singh. The party he had been associated for 30 years was demonstrating �lack of confidence� with each passing day and had suddenly been �robbed of reasoning�, he added. He was �trapped� into going to Shimla for the leadership meeting that sacked him without explanation, he alleged.

Maintaining that he had no plans to join any other political party for the moment, Jaswant Singh said the BJP was collapsing internally following the rapid sequence of events following his exit.

�Yes, it is imploding. With every passing day, they display greater and greater lack of confidence. I don�t know what has suddenly robbed them of reasoning. It is a very sad demonstration of incapacity,� Jaswant Singh in an interview at his 15, Teen Murti Lane residence.

�Is it a crisis of the party or leadership? The party should have been bursting with political health after expelling me. Why is it suffering more?� he said. Jaswant Singh, 71, who has served as minister of finance, defence and external affairs in Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee�s governments, said he never expected to be dismissed from the BJP for authoring a book (Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence). �Did I apprehend it (expulsion)? No. Did I have any indication? No,� he said.

�It seemed as if my party colleagues were almost laying a trap for me. Isn�t that humiliating beyond words that a party that I served for 30 years and was one of its founding members should find it necessary to lay traps? This is dishonourable,� he added. � IANS

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Lab owner arrested for supplying ‘HIV+ blood’

Jaipur, August 30

An alleged case of an HIV positive person donating blood to six children has rocked the Ganganagar district of the state.

Following a complaint registered with the Anoopgarh police station, the district police has arrested a pathology lab owner on the charge of collecting blood from donors without proper tests and supplying it to a nursing home in the district. The police has booked lab owner Hetram Goyal under Sections 420 (cheating) and 269 (negligent act likely to spread infection of disease dangerous to life) of the IPC.

The lab owner has been accused of transfusing HIV-infected blood to patients. The police has seized records from the lab and the nursing home to further investigate into the matter. Though the nursing home has been sealed, its owner, Bharat Bhushan, is still absconding.

�A man, who was reportedly donating his blood at the laboratory, tested positive for HIV few days back but has denied that he donated blood and submitted an affidavit to this effect,� an official of Medical and Health Department said, claiming that �the two children who were said to have received his blood three months ago have tested negative for the HIV�.

Meanwhile, the state government today ordered a probe into the matter by a committee of Joint Director, Medical and Health Department, Bikaner, and Chief Medical and Health Officer (CMHO) of Ganganagar. The report is expected tomorrow. Director of Medical and Health Department OP Gupta said: �Based on both the reports (committee and SDM-CMHO), we will recommend the Rajasthan Medical Council to take action.�

Earlier, the SDM and Block Chief Medical and Health Officer) of Anoopgarh, during investigations, found several irregularities, including failure to check the blood for any infection at the time of donation and transfusion. �Statements of parents of the children, who are said to have received the blood, suggest that illegal transfusion has taken place,� said Anoopgarh SDM, Gaurav Chaturvedi.

�As the district is about 120 km away and there is no blood bank in Anoopgarh, blood for patients in critical condition used to be collected through the accused. Now, it is a matter of detailed investigation that how many patients received blood through illegal process,� he added.

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Rajiv Gandhi Assassination

New Delhi, August 30

Initiating a fresh probe angle in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, the CBI is now preparing a questionnaire for LTTE financier Kumaran Padmanathan on the basis of decade-old findings of the MDMA, which has been investigating the conspiracy behind the former Prime Minister\'s killing.

Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency (MDMA), which has been granted another extension by the government despite noting for closure of this unit, has begun the work of preparing questions that would be sent to Sri Lanka where Padmanathan alias \'KP\' is being questioned by the Lankan security, official sources said.

Padmanathan, the alleged financier and a key accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, was arrested in a Southeast Asian country and brought to Sri Lanka.

Declared as one of the most-wanted terrorists by Interpol, he is suspected to be a key person in LTTE\'s global network for procuring weapons and other equipment.

Jane\'s Defence Intelligence Review, the premier London-based defence magazine, had reported that the LTTE had two international wings � KP Department and Aiyanna Group � that were engaged in global terrorist activities.

The CBI had been on KP\'s trail for over a decade and its team had travelled to New Zealand in 2002. The agency questioned three Tamil nationals there after securing permission from authorities in that country.

The term of MDMA, which is headed by a CBI official and comprises officers from IB, RAW and Revenue Intelligence, ended on May 31 this year and was given a post-facto approval.

The Jain Commission, which went into Gandhi\'s killing, had come across various leads which included bank transactions of the LTTE\'s frontal outfits before and after the assassination and on movement of arms meant for LTTE during that period.

The MDMA has also been focusing on bank details of Padmanathan. India has taken up the matter with Germany to get the bank details of KP, who is alleged to be a major gun-runner for the terrorist group.

The investigators want to know the bank details of KP and some more people, including some Indians who were alleged to have hatched the conspiracy to kill Gandhi.

The former Prime Minister was assassinated on May 21, 1991 when an LTTE suicide bomber blew herself up at an election rally in Tamil Nadu. KP is believed to be \'the chief arms procurer\' for the LTTE and also in-charge of collection of finances for the banned outfit outside Sri Lanka.

The CBI had approached nearly 23 countries with letters rogatory for Padmanathan along with its findings against the terrorist leader. � PTI

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China violates airspace

Leh (JK), August 30

Two Chinese helicopters have reportedly violated the Indian air space in recent months in the Leh area of north Jammu and Kashmir during which they air-dropped some canned food in barren land at Chumar, northeast of this Himalayan town, along the border.

The MI series helicopters were reported to the nearby defence post by residents of this high altitude area living along the Pangong lake, located in the lap of majestic hills, prompting the Army Aviation Corps to rush its Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.

However, they could only find tell-tale signs left by Chinese helicopters which hovered in the Indian territory for nearly five minutes dropping the food material on June 21 this year, sources said.

Army spokesperson for Udhampur-based Northern Command said there was a report of a helicopter flying in the area south of Chumar, where India and China have differences in perception on the Line of Actual Control. It was reported by grazers.

A confidential defence document accessed by PTI shows that Chinese helicopters entered into Indian air space along the Damchok area and Trig Heights in Ladakh and air dropped canned food containing frozen pork and brinjal, which had passed the expiry date.

The Chinese People�s Liberation Army has been crossing over into the Indian side in this region quite frequently with August reporting the maximum number of incursions.

Trig Heights also known as Trade junction, which connected Ladakh with Tibet in earlier days, is an area where Chinese patrol have frequented this year in June, July and August.

Chinese Army patrols have made 26 sorties in June, including two incursions by helicopters, and 21 in July.

In August this year, Chinese patrols have entered into the Indian Territory 26 times and walked away with petrol and kerosene meant for jawans of the border guarding forces. The Chinese army had made 223 attempts last year and left tell-tale signs.

The Army spokesperson, however, tried to downplay these incursions attempts saying \"there are a few areas along the border where India and China have different perceptions of the LAC. Both sides patrol up to their respective perceptions of LAC.\" � PTI

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Dragon on move, India to redraw military plan

New Delhi, August 30

The largest-ever ongoing tactical military exercise by China will lead to redrawing of military plans in India. The deployment pattern of troops, equipment and planes along the 3,500-km long Sino-India border is likely to be reviewed and some changes are in the offing, said highly-placed sources.

Close watch is being kept on the Chinese exercise which is a hotly debated topic in the defence circles these days. India, which is ramping up infrastructure along the border, may not respond with a tit-for-tat exercise by moving its troops, but it will keep �the need for speed� in mind, the sources added. For this, the pressure will be again on train and road connectivity in areas bordering China.

China is testing its capacity to introduce long-range high-speed mobilisation using air, land and sea resources. The exercise, which started on August 11, will see some 50,000 men moving to unfamiliar areas far from their home bases for two months during which they will undergo live-fire drills. The men are drawn from four military regions of Shenyang, Lanzhou, Jinan and Guangzhou. Each of the teams will be deployed at least 1,200 kilometers away from their bases. China is divided into seven military regions.

Such deployments may be needed by China to reinforce units in Tibet and Xinjiang as the military companies being used now are located farthest away from both these places. Notably, these two places are located very close to the border, as a result India is also within the �loop� of such an exercise, opined a serving officer. China already has a highway running right up to 50 km short of Demchok in eastern Ladakh. The highway running east of Lhasa is very close to Arunachal Pradesh. The 1220-km long Lhasa to Gormo railway line is another strategic link.

Brig Gurmeet Kanwal, who is director, of the Delhi-based think-tank, Center for Land warfare and Studies (CLAWS), says at present India is well poised in its defence strategy but a shift in doctrine was needed. For this, huge infrastructure support is needed. Kanwal believes that the exercise is not entirely geared towards India and China is testing its own ability to move large number of troops.

The high-profile war game of the Chinese army is set to be somewhat countered as the Indian and US troops will simultaneously conduct their largest joint drill in October. It will feature a variety of armoured vehicles, medium and heavy lift aircraft and helicopters, an official said. The scale will be much smaller than China, but, the message will be important.

Separately, IAF sources maintain that the advanced landing grounds in Arunachal Pradesh are ready and functional and so are the dozen-odd new helicopter landing grounds. These are all strategically placed to facilitate troop movement. �Heavy lift choppers will have to be used in case of any skirmish in these mountains�, opined a senior officer of the armed forces. A few months ago, the India Army deployed T-72 tanks in Sikkim. Another major road upgrade programme is on in eastern Ladakh for smoother deployment of mechanised infantry.

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Advani to stay, for a while

New Delhi, August 30

After two weeks of uncertainty which saw the bickering in the BJP reach its crescendo, there was a strategic pause in all the action surrounding the party on Sunday. Apparently, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has told the party leaders to stay united ahead of Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana and roll out �succession plan� only after the polls. The BJP-Shiv Sena combine is likely to announce candidates for Maharashtra polls on Monday. With elections round the corner, the BJP, said sources, is again trying to project itself as the main national Opposition party, ready to take on the ruling party and the government on issues concerning people.

Earlier in the day, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, accompanied by another Sangh leader Madandas Devi, met senior-most BJP leader LK Advani at his residence. �We have been given an assurance that the BJP leaders will discuss and resolve problems and we believe that,� Devi said after the breakfast meeting, adding that it was not unusual for political parties to face crisis.

Devi said the RSS chief had made it clear that the BJP would take its own decisions and decide its own future.

While the BJP flaunted an official statement issued by Devi as a kind of a certificate, political observers termed events of the day as an interval before the next act of the drama. Sources say BJP�s succession plan is almost ready and Advani may step down as Leader of Opposition before the next Parliamentary session. Bhagwat, they say, wants an �honourable exit� and some kind of advisory role for Advani. Sources said Bhagwat was reportedly not in favour of some high-profile names, that cropped up from the Advani camp, as successor to Rajnath Singh. The RSS chief is believed to be in favour of someone who is acceptable to all sections of the party.

BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar, however, refuted reports of an impending change in the party leadership. He said there would be �no change in leadership in Lok Sabha� and Advani would continue as Leader of the Opposition till the time he wanted to. He also said Advani would speak on the Kandahar issue in due course of time. However, Rajnath Singh would not get another term, he said.

Rajnath�s term as BJP president is ending by December. Advani�s meeting with Bhagwat is supposed to have sorted out issue of his successor, who is likely to take over along with the new president of the party. In a bid to resolve the turmoil within the BJP, sources say, RSS had proposed a high-powered advisory committee to look into the party affairs.

The BJP is a state of disarray after its poor show in the Lok Sabha elections. The crisis worsened when veteran leader Jaswant Singh was expelled from the party over his controversial book on Jinnah. Singh and senior party leaders Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha besides former National Security Advisor Brajesh Mishra have cornered Advani on Kandahar hijacking.

Meanwhile, BJP president Rajnath Singh wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asking him tackle drought and price rise issues and resolve �the deepening crisis through a dynamic and long term action plan�.

Rajnath Singh�s letter comes close to the PM�s recent statement in which he said: �The situation in the BJP is not good.� BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar also advised the PM to stop worrying about the BJP and instead tackle drought and price rise crisis in the country.

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Pay scales cannot be reduced: HC

Chandigarh : The Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that the higher pay scale obtained by workmen cannot be reduced. The ruling by Justice K Kannan came in connection with a petition filed by Punjab Agro Industries Corporation Limited against the presiding officer of the UT Labour Court.

The corporation, a state government undertaking, had challenged the award passed by the labour court acceding to a reference that was a sequel to a demand notice on behalf of 35 fertiliser clerks-cum-clerk typists complaining against the order of reversion without notice and fixing them on lower scales of pay. The main opposition to the labour court award was the alleged inherent lack of jurisdiction for a court to accord sanction for restructuring of cadre and fixing a scale of pay, which was exclusively in the domain of the employer. The petitioner's contention was reorganisation took effect only from assistants upwards; and no decision had been taken for providing for any promotion for clerks, fertiliser clerks or senior clerks.

Counsel appearing for the workmen contended that it was decided to revert all workmen without affording any notice to them and to put them on lower scales, even while stating their pays were protected.

Management counsel, on the other hand, contended no notice or opportunity of hearing was required, while reverting a person wrongly promoted. A reversion, which arises on account of rectification of mistake, does not attract Article 311 (2) and principles of natural justice are not required to be followed.

Justice Kannan concluded: "The increase in scales of pay that the workmen have obtained by the upgradation or promotion, in whatever manner they have obtained a higher scale, cannot, in any way, be reduced and the decision of the board reverting them without any notice was against law."

"The labour court was, therefore, perfectly justified in upholding the claim of the workmen… The award of the labour court is, under the circumstances, perfectly justified and confirmed. The writ petition is dismissed," it said.
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Students put off dharna

Barnala : A dharna, which was to be organised today outside Guru Gobind Singh College, Sangherra (near Barnala) by student organisations over the alleged denial of admission to Gurpreet Singh in BA II, was postponed due to the death of a member of the college management committee. However, the protesters reached the college and raised slogans seeking admission for Gurpreet.

Representatives of various organisations held a meeting at the college. Leader of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) Navkiran Singh said if Gurpreet was not admitted to the college by August 31, then they would chalk out the next course of action at a meeting to be held on September 1.
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Sukhbir to meet Mamata over incomplete bridges

Chandigarh : Responding to the issue raised yesterday by The Tribune with regard to several incomplete railway over bridges (ROBs) and railway under bridges ( RUBs) in the state, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal has said he will take up the matter with Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee and the Chairman of the Railway Board in Delhi.

Sukhbir, who held a meeting in this regard with PWD Minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa and senior officers, including DS Guru, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, in Chandigarh on Friday morning, will ask the Railway Minister for an early completion of these bridges. A huge expenditure made by the Punjab government in these bridges has been of no use in the absence of efforts by the Railways to complete work on its portion of these bridges.

The state government has said there are bottlenecks and delays in the completion of 27 ROBs. Sukhbir will also ask the Railway Minister to implement the Tamil Nadu pattern in Punjab in case of other 18 ROBs and RUBs, the work on which will start soon. In Tamil Nadu, one agency is engaged to handle the construction work on each bridge, whereas in Punjab two agencies, one of the state government and the other of the Railways, have been doing the construction work. The Railways authorities have been handling their task in a most leisurely manner.

Dhindsa said the bridges over rail lines were constructed by the Railway Engineering Department whereas the approach road to the ROBs on both sides were constructed by the state government. He said delay was caused due to the divided responsibility on every bridge. Often approach roads are ready in time, but the construction of the main bridge portion gets delayed due to tendering disputes, design finalisation and clearance of estimates, etc, at the Railway Department level. Till the time the bridge is completed, the approach roads have worn off.

Sukhbir said at presently 27 ROBs were under various stages of construction and new arrangement could not be implemented for the existing projects. For the newly sanctioned 18 ROBs, an agreement with the Railways could be made on the Tamil Nadu pattern where total work of 60 per cent on ROBs, including approach road and bridge structure, would be completed as an integrated unit by the Punjab government and the rest 40 per cent could be completed by the Railways on the same pattern. The Deputy CM also asked the PWD to designate one senior officer as liaison officer in Delhi who would coordinate with various union ministries to get the sanction and clearances of various road projects.
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PTU scraps entrance tests

Jalandhar : The Academic Council of the Punjab Technical University (PTU) approved scrapping of state-level entrance tests conducted for admission to BTech and MBA/MCA for the coming session. The council meeting chaired by Vice-Chancellor Rajneesh Arora approved the scrapping of the Common Entrance Test (CET) for admission to BTech and B Pharmacy and instead considered AIEEE merit for the same. The management colleges also proposed a Management Eligibility Test conducted by various state universities on rotation basis be also done away with and the admission to MBA/MCA be conducted on the basis of Management Aptitude Test conducted by the All-India Management Association.

Dr Arora said principals of most colleges which were part of the council felt repetitive testing was mental and financial burden on students and it should be done away with as done in most states of the country. He said today's decision would be part of the agenda of the meeting of the Board of Governors slated to be held on September 3. "This will be communicated to the government for necessary action," he said. The council sanctioned an annual scholarship scheme for rural students from this session onwards. A sum of Rs 5,000 per annum per candidate will be given to bright, rural students of PTU colleges from all streams.
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2 schoolboys missing, parents blame school

Chandigarh: Two boys of Kendriya Vidyala in Sector 29-B were reported missing since Friday after their parents lodged a missing complaint with Industrial Area police station. The ninth standard students of the school did not return home after school authorities allegedly found one of them in a bathroom with a girl student with the other standing guard outside. Both the boys were told to bring their parents to school the day after, following which they went missing, the police said.

On Saturday, agitated parents of both the missing boys accused the school authorities of keeping them in the dark about Friday's incident. The girl's parents were informed, but the boys' were not.

"Why did the teachers not inform us when they could call the girl's parents?" said the mother of one of the boys. Amid all the hullabaloo, the police were intimated and a missing complaint lodged. "We have lodged a missing report and circulated their photographs to the police in the vicinity. The boys will be found soon," said Yashpal Vinayak, SHO, Industrial Area police station.
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Nari Niketan rape: SC says no abortion without mother’s consent

Chandigarh: The Supreme Court, in its verdict in the Nari Niketan rape case on Friday, held that consent of the mother is mandatory under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act for abortion. The SC set aside the judgment of Punjab and Haryana High Court where it had directed the Chandigarh administration to terminate the pregnancy of the girl, who was raped by two men.

In its over 30-page ruling, a division bench of Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan held that the medical opinion given by the PGI favours the continuation of pregnancy. The court also laid special emphasis on the desire expressed by the victim to deliver the child. The Chandigarh administration has been directed to provide the best medical facility to the girl till the time she becomes a mother.

The 19-year-old girl was allegedly raped in March by Bhupinder Singh (32), a security guard at the Nari Niketan. He was arrested along with three others, and the Chandigarh police had filed a chargesheet against four persons including a woman this month in the district court.
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Car falls into canal, two drowned

Doraha : Two out of the three occupants of an Alto car are reported to have drowned in a canal at Raul village, near Gurthali bridge, here this evening.

While Simranjit Singh of village Sahni was somehow rescued by villagers, Lakhvir Singh of the same village and Harpreet Singh of Sahnewal could not be saved. A rehra-puller, who was the first to witness the incident, immediately raised the alarm and gathered a handful of people who put in their best to save the trio, but succeeded in pulling out only one of them. The others were washed away in the strong current. While the police took out the car (no-PB 10 CG 2469), divers are still trying to recover the bodies from the canal. According to the SHO Payal once the bodies were recovered, investigations under Section 174, IPC, would be initiated.

"As the passage from the canal side is narrow and has been further hit by the recent rain, the way is not safe for commuters and passersby who have no choice but to take this route to reach their destination," rued the villagers.

"Several times, the issue has been highlighted through the media, but to no avail. The administration doesn't wake up until a tragedy strikes," they added
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Badal dispels fears of militancy revival

Mehta (Amritsar), August 28

Dispelling apprehensions of Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said there is no possibility for terrorism to resurface in Punjab. The Congress was trying to scare people of Punjab without any reason, he added.

Bhattal had said in Amritsar yesterday that terrorism was staging a comeback in Punjab and had supported her contention by citing recent arrest of terrorists at the Ludhiana railway station.

Badal was here to participate in a series of akhand paths being organised by his party at the Golden Temple to express gratitude for the victory of the SAD in the three byelections. Badal also initiated a series of sangat darshan programmes in the Majha area by holding two such programmes at Butala and Mehta where he disbursed cheques worth Rs 3 crore among representatives of 65 panchayats.

Badal also inaugurated a Rs 16.5-crore four-lane approach project, a Rs 10.13-crore Beas-Dera Baba Jaimal Singh-Butala-Kartarpur link road project and a Rs 218.79-lakh project for the expansion of the Mehta grain market.

Badal said: �Unscrupulous elements were trying to damage hard-earned peace in Punjab but they will not be allowed to carry out their designs. The recent arrest of militants is not an indicator towards the return of terrorism in Punjab. No movement can get proliferated without support of people and people of Punjab have no sympathy with terrorists as they were dedicated to communal harmony�.

He criticised Bhattal for opposing the state government�s move to seek financial help for Punjab. �There is no harm in seeking special package or relief from the Centre as Punjab has been a major contributor to central revenue. We have already discussed the issue of drought-like conditions in Punjab, which has received 70 per cent deficient rainfall this time. Still farmers of state tried to save their crops by making extra use of inputs like diesel. The Centre should not hesitate to extend relief for Punjab,� said Badal.

Junior docs meet CM

PK Jaiswar adds from Amritsar: A delegation of junior doctors met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was here on a three-day visit to various adjoining areas of the holy city. Badal reportedly assured the delegation that he would find an amicable solution to the issue.

The Chief Minister called the chief secretary, principal secretary and finance secretary in front of the doctors and asked them to present the case before him.

However, Dr Onkar Gupta, vice-president of the association, said the agitation would continue till there was a written response from the CM�s office notifying their revised graded pay scales.

Meanwhile, the association comprising representatives of all three colleges today met the Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, who assured them that their case would be forwarded to the ministry and the secretaries. The doctors said the increased pay for the 350 resident doctors would only burden the government with Rs 70 lakh per month or Rs 8 crore a year.

The protesting doctors after meeting with the CM changed their mode of agitation and started a parallel OPD besides providing free medicines to suffering patients. They examined as many as 650 patients in the OPD of all departments.

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Badal dispels fears of militancy revival

Mehta (Amritsar), August 28

Dispelling apprehensions of Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has said there is no possibility for terrorism to resurface in Punjab. The Congress was trying to scare people of Punjab without any reason, he added.

Bhattal had said in Amritsar yesterday that terrorism was staging a comeback in Punjab and had supported her contention by citing recent arrest of terrorists at the Ludhiana railway station.

Badal was here to participate in a series of akhand paths being organised by his party at the Golden Temple to express gratitude for the victory of the SAD in the three byelections. Badal also initiated a series of sangat darshan programmes in the Majha area by holding two such programmes at Butala and Mehta where he disbursed cheques worth Rs 3 crore among representatives of 65 panchayats.

Badal also inaugurated a Rs 16.5-crore four-lane approach project, a Rs 10.13-crore Beas-Dera Baba Jaimal Singh-Butala-Kartarpur link road project and a Rs 218.79-lakh project for the expansion of the Mehta grain market.

Badal said: �Unscrupulous elements were trying to damage hard-earned peace in Punjab but they will not be allowed to carry out their designs. The recent arrest of militants is not an indicator towards the return of terrorism in Punjab. No movement can get proliferated without support of people and people of Punjab have no sympathy with terrorists as they were dedicated to communal harmony�.

He criticised Bhattal for opposing the state government�s move to seek financial help for Punjab. �There is no harm in seeking special package or relief from the Centre as Punjab has been a major contributor to central revenue. We have already discussed the issue of drought-like conditions in Punjab, which has received 70 per cent deficient rainfall this time. Still farmers of state tried to save their crops by making extra use of inputs like diesel. The Centre should not hesitate to extend relief for Punjab,� said Badal.

Junior docs meet CM

PK Jaiswar adds from Amritsar: A delegation of junior doctors met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was here on a three-day visit to various adjoining areas of the holy city. Badal reportedly assured the delegation that he would find an amicable solution to the issue.

The Chief Minister called the chief secretary, principal secretary and finance secretary in front of the doctors and asked them to present the case before him.

However, Dr Onkar Gupta, vice-president of the association, said the agitation would continue till there was a written response from the CM�s office notifying their revised graded pay scales.

Meanwhile, the association comprising representatives of all three colleges today met the Vice-Chancellor, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, who assured them that their case would be forwarded to the ministry and the secretaries. The doctors said the increased pay for the 350 resident doctors would only burden the government with Rs 70 lakh per month or Rs 8 crore a year.

The protesting doctors after meeting with the CM changed their mode of agitation and started a parallel OPD besides providing free medicines to suffering patients. They examined as many as 650 patients in the OPD of all departments.

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Pakistan forms governing body for GND varsity

Amritsar, August 28

Efforts of Sikhs from all over the world have yielded a positive outcome with decks being cleared for the establishment of proposed world-class Baba Guru Nanak International University at Nankana Sahib in Pakistan. The government of that country has formed a governing body for the supervision and management of the project.

The university is being set up at the birth place of Guru Nanak Dev to perpetuate his memory and impart education about Sikhism, Sikh rituals and Sikh culture not only to Pakistan-based Sikh students, but also to Sikh students from rest of the world. The project is likely to be inaugurated in November, said USA-based Dr Pritpal Singh, who has been made a member of the governing board.

The demand for the university had gained momentum in 2006-07 when a number of Sikh leaders from across the world met then Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and prevailed upon him to initiate the project. SGPC chief Avtar Singh is said to have pleaded for setting up the university at that time.

Though the Evacuee Trust Property Board of Pakistan has nominated the president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) as member of the government body, the name of Avtar Singh has not found its way into the list.

The orders issued by the board project director, Col Azhar Ul Haq Adeeb (retd), on August 26 said the chairman of the Evacuee Trust would also be the chairman of the governing committee. Other members of the governing board included Mian Imran Masood (executive director), Zafer Saeed Padhiar, a member of Pakistan�s National Assembly, Rai Shah Jehan Bhatti, president of the PSGPC, Dr Pritpal Singh from California, US, Manmohan Singh Khalsa from the UK, Azhar Ehsaan Advocate, Faqir Syed Saif Uddin, Sardar Sham Singh, Sardar Bishan Singh, and Sardar Mastaan Singh.

�The university is being set up on 2,500 acres being provided by the Pakistan government at Nankana Sahib. The Gurmat Sangeet faculty is being set up at the proposed university and its entire expences will be borne by the American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. The university will be set up on the lines of Oxford or Cambridge universities,� said Dr Pritpal Singh while talking to The Tribune over the phone from the US.

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SAD leader is chief of PIMS society

Chandigarh, August 28

Leader of the SAD Surjit Singh Rakhra has emerged as the president of the newly formed Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) Society, which is set to take over the medical institution in Jalandhar following the signing of a concession agreement here today.

Earlier, a consortium of NRI Academy of Sciences and St Joseph�s Health Care System, US, had submitted a request for proposal (RPF) of Rs 131 crore to run PIMS for a 99-year period under private-public-participation (PPP) in January this year. The consortium had failed to submit Rs 65.50 crore, that is 50 per cent of the lease money within three weeks of the agreement, but no punitive action was initiated against it by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB).

The Director of PIMS, Dr A S Padda, when asked as to how an Akali leader had emerged as the president of the PIMS society, said Rakhra could have been coopted as member of the society. However, when it was pointed out that an official release here had listed him as the president of the society, he said Rakhra could have been authorised to sign on behalf of the promoters. �The promoters remain the same that is Rakesh Mahajan and Raja Sekhar�, he said.

However, an official release issued here today indicates that the Rakhra or the Patiala-based Dhaliwal family, as it is more known as, was represented on the occasion by Rakhra�s brother Charanjit Singh Dhaliwal as well as another representative Ravi Dhaliwal.

Surjit Singh Rakhra said the consortium had involved him in the project. �The economy in the US has been on the downswing in the recent past and moreover since I am the president of the NRI Sabha in the state, the promoters wanted me to be associated with the project�, he added. The Akali leader claimed he had no interest in the project as it was not his field but had become involved in the interest of the state. Rakhra claimed he now had nearly an equal share in the project.

Meanwhile, an official spokesman said the medical college with a minimum 100 seats and 500-bedded hospital was nearing completion and would be managed and operationalised under PPP by a charitable society. The hospital would be made functional within this year and the admissions to the first batch of MBBS students would commence from 2010.

The medical college, situated on 54 acres in Jalandhar, has been lying incomplete since years. As much as Rs 115 crore has been spent to establish the present building. Its land, then measuring around 120 acres, was taken over by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority under the Optimum Utilisation of Vacant Government Land scheme.

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Nehru Cup

New Delhi, August 28

The All India Football Federation (AIFF) dusted out a rule, which it said existed in the tournament manual, to put hosts India in the final ahead of the round-robin league match between Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan at the Ambedkar Stadium here tonight. The hypothetical premise that Sri Lanka would stay in contention for a berth in the final if they beat Kyryzstan by a huge margin of seven goals, and then wait for the India-Syria match tomorrow to know their fate, was nullified with the AIFF announcement.

No such waiting game was warranted, as the AIFF, quoting Section 6-B, said that \"head to head\' result would be considered. Which meant that India\'s 3-1 victory against Sri Lanka in their round-robin league match would count, even if the visitors beat Kyrgyzstan to catch with the hosts on six points.

Interestingly, even Indian chief coach Bob Houghton was not aware that a such rule existed, though he was happy that India made the final grade even before taking on Syria.

In the end, Kyrgyzstan saved the blushes for the AIFF, when they handed out a 4-1 drubbing to Sri Lanka to sign off the tournament by notching up their first victory. They finished on four points, which included the one point earned for holding Leabanon to a draw.

Though the Lankan team perhaps knew about their fate even before the match, they did not hold back anything, and tried to fight it out against Kyrgyzstan, though the latter proved much superior, two goals each in either half. Fast-moving forward Zemlianuhin Anton scored the first goal in the 34th minute. Amirov Ildar added the second goal before half time. On resumption Murzaev Mirlan and Usanov Rustem accounted for a goal each to bulge their tally while captain Chathura Maduranga pulled one back for Sri Lanka. With the pressure of beating Syria off their backs, India would try out their bench strength in the last round-robin league match tomorrow.

Bob Houghton said he may rest his star players, at least partially, to give chances to those who have been warming the bench. The Syrians were also expected to test their bench strength, by giving a much-needed respite to their key players, to prepare them match-fit for the title clash on Monday.

India to still go for win

New Delhi, August 28

Defending champions India will look to sort out their defensive blues when they take on Syria, their opponents in final, in the last round-robin fixture of the Nehru Cup international football tournament here tomorrow. After losing to Lebanon 0-1 in their opener, India bounced back with a 2-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan and played their best match in the 3-1 win over Sri Lanka.

The hosts would want to win tomorrow and carry on the winning momentum into the August 31 final when they meet the same opponents again. � PTI

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AP govt seeks control of Aca

Hyderabad, August 28

Stung by murky affairs at Andhra Cricket Association (ACA), leading to expulsion of its secretary and team India manager at the recent Twenty20 World Cup V Chamundeswarnath, the state government is preparing the ground to take over the administrative control of the cricketing body.

As a prelude to this, the government today moved a bill in the Assembly to amend the A P Societies Registration Act, seeking to empower the Registrar to supercede the governing body of any association or society in case of misappropriation of funds and mismanagement.

Brushing aside the objections from opposition parties who dubbed the legislation as �unconstitutional�, the minister for stamps and registration G Venkat Reddy said the present act did not provide any opportunity for the government to take over the management of tainted associations or societies and to streamline their activities.

The introduction of the bill came a day after the ACA expelled Chamundeswarnath from the post of secretary following allegations of sexual harassment of women cricketers and misappropriation of funds. The decision was taken at the general body meeting of ACA held at the coastal Andhra city of Vijayawada.

The allegation against the cricket administrator was that he had misbehaved with women cricketers and sought �sexual favours� from them for selection in the team. He was also accused to have sent lewd SMSs to some women cricketers. The controversial official was earlier suspended by ACA in June this year following charges of corruption and nepotism.

Following sexual abuse charges made by six women cricketers, the state government had asked the Additional Director General of police M Ratan to conduct an inquiry. The probe report, submitted to the government last month, had confirmed the charges and indicted Chamundeswarnath. During the course of the inquiry, Ratan met several women cricketers and ACA members and recorded their statements.

The Vijayawada police, who had booked a case based on a complaint by women cricketers, have been asked to pursue the case. Meanwhile, the stamps and registration minister said it had come to the notice of the government that Chamundeswarnath had swindled the Association money.

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New zealand Tour of Sri Lanka

Colombo, August 28

Sri Lanka seized control of the second test against New Zealand on Friday as they reached stumps on 157 for two with a lead of 339 runs. Spinners Rangana Herath and Muttiah Muralitharan combined to take six wickets in dismissing New Zealand for 234 on the third morning, putting the hosts on course for a series sweep.

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara gave his team another solid platform with an unbeaten 64 from 90 balls, a fluent innings that included seven fours and a six. The left-hander shared an unbroken partnership of 68 with Mahela Jayawardene, who scored 23 not out, before rain curtailed the day�s play 12 overs early.

Tillakaratne Dilshan was the first casualty of the second innings, caught for 33 off spinner Jeetan Patel. Just before tea, opener Tharanga Paranavitana was adjudged to have gloved an attempted sweep off Daniel Vettori and was given out caught behind. New Zealand, trailing 0-1 in the two-game series, resumed on 159 for five before losing their remaining batsmen for 51 runs as Sri Lanka forged a formidable 182-run lead.

Off spinner Muralitharan claimed 3-71 from 25.4 overs and left-armer Herath took 3-70 from 34 overs. Sri Lanka reached the lunch interval on two without loss in their second innings with both Dilshan and Tharanga Paranavitana on one not out. Ross Taylor was New Zealand\'s top scorer with a three-hour 81 from 155 balls with 10 boundaries. Brendon McCullum (18) was the first to fall in the morning as he edged Muralitharan to Mahela Jayawardene at slip, the former captain�s 150th catch in test cricket.

Herath then claimed the key scalp of Taylor, the right-hander edging behind. New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori rallied the visitors briefly with 23, helping his team to avoid the follow on, before Chamara Kapugedera held on to a juggling catch at short leg off part-time spinner Dilshan. Herath and Muralitharan quickly mopped up the tail, with Jacob Oram out for 24 and Iain O\'Brien lbw for four. � Reuters

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Industrial output rises 7 pc in July

New Delhi, August 28

Industry output grew by 7 per cent in July, the same as during the corresponding month last year, indicating that decline in factory production has been by and large arrested.

\"The index of industrial production for the month of July has shown a growth rate of 7 per cent and the core sectors have also demonstrated an upward trend,\" Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said while unveiling the Foreign Trade Policy yesterday.

The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had recorded a growth rate of 7.8 per cent a month ago in June. It had posted a growth rate of 7.1 per cent a year ago in July 2008.

Attributing the 7 per cent industrial growth in July to fiscal and monetary measures taken by the government and the Reserve Bank, Sharma said, \"these measures have had a salutary effect on our economy and we have seen some signs of recovery.\"

While the government had provided stimulus packages amounting to 3.5 per cent of the GDP to promote industrial growth, the RBI reduced key policy ratios and rates releasing liquidity in the system to help economy battle the impact of the global financial crisis. � PTI

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Banks to cap third party ATM withdrawals

Mumbai, August 28

Banks have decided to put a Rs 10,000 cap per third party ATM cash withdrawal from October 15, besides limiting such transactions to five in a month.

Indian Banks\' Association, which is the industry lobby of Indian banks, has sent a circular to its 150 member banks directing them to implement the decisions from mid-October, a source close to the development said.

�IBA has sent a circular to all banks asking them to implement these decisions on third party ATM transactions from October 15,� the source said.

Early this month, the Reserve Bank had put a Rs 10,000 cap per withdrawal from ATMs not owned by the bank in which the customer has an account, besides limiting such transactions to five in a month.

The apex bank had sent a communication in this regard to Indian Banks\' Association (IBA).

IBA had submitted its recommendations to the Central Bank last month citing the financial burden faced by banks on account of large number of third party usage.

Since April 1, RBI had declared third party ATM usage, including cash withdrawals and account inquiries, free for all customers and said that banks can charge Rs 18 to 20 per month from other banks in case of third party ATM transaction.

With the number of third party transactions surging post - April, banks approached the Reserve Bank through IBA to revisit the current norms and make necessary modifications.

Though IBA had also recommended a minimum limit of Rs 1,000 on third party ATM withdrawals, this was rejected by the Reserve Bank to protect the interest of small withdrawers. � PTI

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Gas Row

New Delhi, August 28

The Supreme Court today decided to commence final hearing on the high profile gas dispute between the group firms of Mukesh Ambani and his younger brother Anil from October 20.

The government�s petition on the issue and those of various power producers, mainly from Andhra Pradesh, and the Fertiliser Corporation of India would also be heard on that day.

A bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan adjourned the matter for final hearing after RNRL mentioned that the matter, which was originally scheduled for September 1, may not be taken up on that day as the Chief Justice would be leading the Constitutional Bench.

RNRL is fighting to get RIL to supply gas to it at $2.34 per mmBtu, the Mukesh Ambani group has maintained that the price of the fuel needs to be approved by the government.

The government has filed a Special Leave Petition seeking to assert its right on the national resource. It has also sought to declare as null and void that part of the Ambani family MoU that provides for dividing natural gas from KG-D6 fields between RIL and RNRL.

Counsel for all the parties, including Mukesh Ambani�s RIL and Anil Ambani group firm RNRL, said that they were ready for daily hearing of the matter from October 20.

While senior counsel Harish Salve, representing RIL, suggested the date, the counsel for both RNRL as well as the government said that they do not have any objection.

�We will start on that day and will finish as soon as possible,� Salve said. The bench also directed all the parties to file the documents including responses and rejoinders by that date. � PTI

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Govt arms contradict each other on Tamiflu distribution

New Delhi, August 28

Anti-viral drug Tamiflu, the only known treatment for Influenza A H1N1 infection, would soon be retailed in India, Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) Surinder Singh today said, adding that restricted distribution of drug would be allowed to chemists in �a couple of days�.

Health ministry officials, however, denied any such move, indicating contradictions in government�s stand on the issue, although the ministry�s strategic paper on H1N1 preparedness states clearly that Tamiflu�s distribution, though restricted in the earlier phase of the epidemic, would have to be eventually eased.

The DCGI, however, went on record today to say that Tamiflu would be retailed but not be allowed to be marketed as any other normal medicine. It would be listed as a Schedule X drug, which is extremely restricted in availability over the chemist counters. �Schedule X drugs are sold highly restrictively to prevent their indiscriminate use. They are not the same as Schedule H drugs, which are available easily,� said government sources.

Once allowed for restricted retail distribution, Tamiflu can be procured by patients only on prescription to ensure its unbridled use does not lead to resistance in the novel virus strains circulating in the country.

The development, if it happens, would be in line with most nations that have allowed retail availability of the drug, though strictly on prescription. The important point for patients to remember is that they must take the full five-day course (one capsule each in morning and evening) of Tamiflu (Oseltamivir) to prevent the swine flu virus from becoming immune to the precious drug. Even though the DCGI confirmed the move today, there was no formal admission of the fact by health ministry officials today.

11.66 crore already spent on testing

The government has so far spent Rs 11.66 crore in testing 19,789 swine flu samples to date. Of these samples, 16,255 turned out to be negative, but cost of Rs 5000 each to the government lead to the expenditure of Rs 8.12 crore. The 3,534 positive samples till today cost the centre Rs 3.53 crore, at the rate of Rs 10,000 per sample tested. rivate labs authorized to test H1N1 in India

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MCOCA charges against Salem not to be dropped: Court

New Delhi, August 28

A local court here today dismissed a plea of the Delhi Police to withdraw charges under the stringent anti-terror law, the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crimes Act (MCOCA), against jailed underworld don Abu Salem.

The police had filed the petition on the directions of the Central Government as MCOCA charges were in violation of the extradition treaty between India and Portugal. Salem was extradited from Portugal in 2005. The petition was filed under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

The Centre had asked the Delhi Police to withdraw MCOCA charges after Salem approached the high court in Portugal alleging that the Indian authorities were acting in contravention of the extradition terms.

While extraditing Salem from Portugal to India, a treaty was signed between the two countries that had certain conditions. Portugal had stipulated that Salem should not be tried for any offence other than those charged against him at the time of extradition.

Moreover, it was also agreed that he could not be awarded death penalty, nor could be kept in jail for more than 25 years. The treaty also mentioned that Salem could not be booked under any special law (which included MCOCA as well) and could not be tried in more than nine criminal cases.

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Principal in dock for asking girls to remove burqa

Hyderabad, August 28

A principal of a private degree college here has landed in trouble for asking Muslim girls to remove their burqa to identify themselves.

The Muslim students in Vani Degree College for Women flew into rage and held violent demonstration today, demanding dismissal of the principal, Annapurna, for insulting their religion.

The college is located in the Muslim-dominated old city area of Mehdipatnam. The trouble started in the morning when the principal, vexed with the late-comers, asked the burqa-clad students to remove the veil so that they could be identified. �All of you come in burqa and it is difficult for me to identify the students coming late. Take out your burqa and identify yourself,� she instructed. She scolded them for getting away without punishment because of their burqa.

This enraged the students. And within minutes, all Muslim girls boycotted their classes and staged a demonstration on the road. They attacked the college building, broke the window panes and ransacked the furniture.

Alleging that the principal had misbehaved with them and denigrated their religion, they demanded that she be sacked immediately.

After a few minutes, police descended on the scene and tried to disperse the students, who, in turn, pelted them with stones. The situation further worsened with the arrival of local Majlis Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) legislator Afsar Khan. He lodged a complaint with the police and sought action against the principal for insulting the Muslim girls. The MLA later held talks with the Principal and extracted a written apology from her.

Annapurna later clarified that she had only asked the students to show their identity, but had not made any derogatory remark against their tradition.

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Ban on book challenged in SC

New Delhi: Expelled BJP leader Jaswant Singh on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat government�s ban on his book on Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Singh, along with a representative of Rupa and Co, publisher of the book �Jinnah � India, Partition, Independence�, filed a petition in the apex court against the ban imposed by the Narendra Modi government on August 19, two days after the book�s launch. � PTI

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Jaswant’s fresh salvo

New Delhi, August 28

Firing a fresh salvo, Jaswant Singh has said that senior BJP leader LK Advani was �at the centre� of the cash-for-votes scam drama enacted in the Lok Sabha last year.

�It�s a great sense of pity. Here was a man who has consumed by an ambition to be PM, and that desire made him commit so many mistakes. Do you know this whole wretched thing of money for votes is a classic example of wrong decision making and it�s extremely troubling that he did not stand up and say no. Advani was at the centre of this whole drama,� he told a news magazine.

Singh was referring to the episode in the Lok Sabha during the Trust Vote in July last year when three BJP MPs displayed bundles of currency notes claiming they were being offered as bribe.

�I was not consulted but I was appalled that Advani was telling the MPs to display the money in Parliament,� he said. Singh said it was a matter of great sadness that Advani had failed in his function as a leader. A leader will have to lead by example and not through diktats, vague and unspecified insinuations and fears. There were numerous examples when Advani would either keep quite or transfer responsibility to somebody else on occasions that troubled him and where he is likely to come under fire. � PTI

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Put house in order, BJP told

New Delhi, August 28

Amidst spectacle of tension between the BJP and the RSS over the reluctance of Leader of Opposition in Parliament LK Advani to step aside paving way for the younger generation, RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat stuck to his stand favouring Advani�s early retirement. Whatever is happening in BJP is not good. Lok Sabha poll results have given it a severe jolt. It will have to regain balance. I feel it will be able to do it�

It will rise from the ashes. � Mohan Bhagwat, RSS chief

Bhagwat met the media here today at the RSS headquarters, Keshav Kunj, but continued ducking most questions pertaining to Advani and consequent generational change in the BJP.

He repeatedly said, �I have spoken about this in my interview with Times Now�. In that interview, he had disclosed that Advani had expressed desire to step down and later changed his mind. Denying that he or the sangh had persuaded Advani to stay on, Bhagwat said, �Both decisions were his.�

Pleading that the BJP was autonomous, Bhagwat reiterated, �Whatever decisions have to be taken, they (BJP) have to decide.� The sangh has no relations with the BJP. �We have our swayamsevaks there and if they seek our advice, we help them. We don�t give unsolicited advice,� the sangh chief maintained.

But he admitted that BJP president Rajnath Singh and senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi came to see him yesterday. He said, �Yes, he (Rajnath) came and met me. We discussed things. I told him what I had stated earlier and he assured that they will arrive at a consensus.� Bhagwat was referring to open infighting in the BJP.

As a sequel to this, four other BJP leaders from the Advani camp, namely Sushma Swaraj, Ananth Kumar, Arun Jaitley and M Venkaiah Naidu, called on the RSS chief today, leading to speculations in political circles that jockeying for next BJP president and also Advani�s successor had begun.

Meanwhile, sources in the BJP attributed great significance to Bhagwat�s interaction with the media. A party source claimed, �Generally you don�t hear of RSS chief or even other sangh leaders speak anything about the BJP in public. The fact that such a senior sangh leader has chosen to express himself, howsoever cautiously, underlines the sangh�s concern with whatever is going on in the BJP. While the BJP house doesn�t show any signs of settling down, today�s message is very clear that the sooner it is put in order the better it is for all concerned. That is why leader after leader is going and meeting him.�

But the RSS leader and his colleagues face a real problem of tremendous age gap between the young RSS crop and the ageing BJP leaders and Bhagwat admitted this when he objected to a reporter describing the BJP a child of the RSS and said, �The BJP cannot be treated a recalcitrant child since almost all leaders there are considerably older than us.� Sources attributed Bhagwat�s caution to this. But he did express his concern over the infighting in that party saying, �Whatever is happening in the BJP is not good and it should stop. Whatever has to be done by the party to put in place a system and corrective measures, it is for them to do.�

There was even more concern in an implicit and indirect remark of the sangh chief when by way of defence he said, �It (the BJP) is capable of resurrecting itself from the ashes,� implying that the way it is going down it might burn itself to cinders and ashes soon.

However, Bhagwat�s reluctance to criticise BJP MP Arun Shourie, who had derided both Advani and Rajnath Singh and also invited the RSS to take over the party appointing a presidium of 10 men of integrity, showed that the sangh chief was not displeased with Shourie�s surmise. About Shourie, Bhagwat said, �I cannot comment on him. He is a respected intellectual. I don�t want to comment on what he said.� He denied any plans to take over the BJP saying the sangh had neither time nor inclination to interfere in the BJP affairs.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Docs intensify stir

Amritsar, August 27

Intensifying their agitation against government�s indifference towards their demands, junior doctors today shut down the out patient departments (OPDs) and operation theatres (OTs) at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, Government Dental Hospital and their allied hospitals here.

The doctors did not allow working at operation theatre- II, resulting in postponement of 12 operations scheduled for today. Two patients got themselves discharged after seeing the dismal situation in the hospital. The doctors also blocked the back gate of the hospital by raising a brick wall. However, the emergency ward situated in the new building remained open.

Patients and their relatives could be seen entering and coming out of the hospital through windows.

Meanwhile, no classes for MBBS/BDS students took place in the Medical and Dental Colleges. The doctors of Dental College staged a dharna in front of the hospital gate and prevented senior doctors and staff from entering the hospital premises. They blocked traffic at a chowk and cleaned roads in a symbolic protest.

Dr Karamjit Singh, general secretary of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association, said the association had called general body meeting on Monday to decided on the further course of action in case the government failed to accept the demands of the junior doctors.

Similar were views of Dr Birendar Singh, senior vice-president of Amritsar and Tarn Taran.

A group of junior doctors met SSP Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh last evening. They demanded action against the DSP who cane charged doctors a few hours after the the strike.

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Wheat rots in open; FCI lifts it from covered godowns

Chandigarh, August 27

In Punjab, wheat virtually rotted in the open this monsoon but the Food Corporation of India (FCI) chose to lift the foodgrain from covered godowns rather than attending to stock piles lying in �kutcha� plinths and �mandi� yards.

It is learnt that the FCI chose to lift 7.52 lakh tonnes of wheat from covered godowns in July this year against only 1.14 lakh tonnes lifted from open storage areas. The state had its maximum rain during this month.

According to the Food and Civil Supplies Minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, in the last three months while 11.5 lakh tonnes of wheat was moved from covered godowns, only 3.8 lakh tonnes was moved from open storage facilities.

Kairon said this situation arose because the FCI itself needed space to store the rice delivered to it after milling by the state agencies. �They promised to lift wheat lying in the open before August 1 but this did not happen as they had run out of space to store rice,� he said. Rice

can be stored in covered godowns only.

According to Kairon as much as 23 lakh tonnes of wheat lay in the open in Punjab during the monsoon season this year. Though the state agencies are still to quantify the damage caused to the foodgrain, sources said its quality had been definitely affected. Already Punjab has unsettled claims of Rs 510 crores, which are pending with the FCI due to quality issues.

Meanwhile, sources said a bigger danger lurked ahead for the state due to accumulation of the highest-ever wheat stockpile in the history of the state. Punjab has 120 lakh tonnes of wheat in stock with it and is likely to have a stockpile of 70 to 80 lakh tonnes by March 2010. This means it will have virtually no space to store the next wheat crop.

Kairon said the Food Ministry had asked the state to increase the storage capacity last year. �Against a request for creating an additional storage capacity of 50 lakh tonnes, we added a capacity of 22 lakh tonnes. We expect the same demand this year, but it will not be possible to store the next wheat crop satisfactorily,� he added.

FCI senior regional manager Dev Raj admitted the need to generate space for rice resulted in movement of wheat from covered godowns but maintained that the quality of wheat lying in the open was not likely to be much affected.

He said the FCI had, however, taken a list of vulnerable areas from the state government and would be moving wheat stored on plinths, mandi yards as well as with rice shellers on a priority basis. He said 8 lakh tonnes of wheat stored on plinths and 6 lakh tonnes stored with rice shellers would be lifted by September 31.

The FCI officer said efforts were also being made to speed up movement of wheat out of the state. �We hope to reduce the accumulated stocks of around 120 lakh tonnes to 60 lakh tonnes by March next year,� he added.

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Sursinghwala (Tarn Taran) August 27

The compensation for the drought-hit areas of Punjab should be in accordance with the actual damage to crops caused by drought and the extra efforts put in by Punjabi farmers to counter the unfriendly weather should also be assessed at the time of extension of central compensation for the drought-hit areas.

This was stated by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while addressing a mammoth gathering on the occasion of the historic Jor Mela. Badal will be in Amritsar for the next two days as he will be holding a series of sangat darshan programmes in the Beas and Mehta areas.

Reacting to the demands of the the people of the historic town of Sursinghwala, the Chief Minister gave approval for the construction of a stadium in the town. He also approved the expansion of Grain Market of Sursinghwala.

The modernisation of the minor falling in the region was also approved by the Chief Minister for proper supply of water for irrigation. Badal gave his consent for introduction of the plus two science stream for the students of the town.

Badal promised to upgrade 17 primary schools of the Khemkaran area into middle schools, which is the largest number of schools ever to be upgraded in a go in any region of Punjab . An approximate amount of Rs 1.75 crore would be spent on

this project.

Earlier, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, MP, and Prof Virsa Singh Valtoha, MLA, also addressed the gathering.

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Centre’s nod to IIIT in state

Chandigarh, August 27

The Ministry of Human Resources Development gave in-principle approval to the Punjab government for setting up the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in the state.

An assurance to this effect was given by Human Resources Development Minister Kapil Sibal to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at a meeting held in his office in New Delhi on Wednesday. The upcoming IIIT would be developed in PPP mode over 100 acres, with equal share of the Centre, Punjab government and industry.

Sibal also informed the Chief Minister that the ministry had already approved the proposal for establishing 13 new degree colleges in educationally backward districts of the state as recommended by the Experts Committee of University Grants Commission. These would be set up in Amritsar, Bathinda, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Nawanshahr, Patiala and Sangrur.

Sibal also assured the Chief Minster that the ministry would soon release Rs 63.42 crore for setting up 21 model schools in educationally backward blocks of Punjab as the case had already been sent to the expenditure finance committee (EFC) for its sanction. He informed Badal that the proposal sent by the state government to sanction one additional model school in Ghudda village of Sangat Block, Bathinda district, would also be got examined by the ministry.

The minister told Badal that the ministry had already sanctioned Rs 5.50 crore for the construction of women hostels in the seven colleges of the state as recommended by the UGC. He said the proposal sent by the government for releasing Rs 11.92 crore for 21 other such hostels was also under active consideration of the ministry.

Badal urged the ministry to bear the cost for acquisition of 11.3 acres for the construction of an approach road from Sangrur to the Barnala national highway to link it with the Sant Harchand Singh Lognowal Institute of Engineering and Technology.

Referring to the issue of finalisation of the site for Amritsar World Class University to be developed over 700 acres, Sibal informed the Chief Minster that the site selection committee, headed by the Chairman of the UGC, would visit Amritsar on September 26.

Referring to another issue raised by Badal to enhance the amount of mid-day meal from Rs 2.08 per child per day to at least Rs 4 in view of prevalent high food costs, Sibal told the Chief Minister that the Centre was seized of the issue and it would soon take a positive decision in this regard.

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New zealand tour of sri lanka

Colombo, August 27

New Zealand struggled to 159 for five on the second day of the second and final test on Thursday, trailing Sri Lanka by 257 runs after Thilan Samaraweera�s century had put the hosts in command.

Ross Taylor was providing lone resistance for the Kiwis at the close, having compiled 70 not out from 118 balls. Wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum was also unbeaten on five. Left-armer Thilan Thushara continued his fine form by taking two for 37 for Sri Lanka.

Earlier, Samaraweera thumped 143 as Sri Lanka totalled 416 in their first innings despite losing their last five wickets for 27 runs. Samaraweera shared a 180-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Mahela Jayawardene. The centurion batted for more than six hours, facing 240 deliveries and hitting 17 fours and a six as he made his second hundred of the series.

New Zealand fought back in the afternoon session, off-spinner Jeetan Patel recovering from an expensive start to finish with four for 78. Sri Lanka, 1-0 up in the series, had started the day on 262 for three. Jayawardene scored 92 in 234 balls before being caught behind off seamer Iain O�Brien.

When New Zealand went into bat, captain Kumar Sangakkara experimented with Tillakaratne Dilshan opening the bowling with off breaks. However Sangakkara quickly reverted to the pace of Dammika Prasad, who trapped Tim McIntosh lbw for five.

Thushara got Daniel Flynn caught behind the wicket. Martin Guptill (35) top-edged a pull to deep backward square before Jesse Ryder (23) helped steady the innings with Taylor, adding 85 for the fourth wicket. Rangana Herath got the wicket of Ryder while Muralitharan removed nightwatchman Patel for one. � Reuters

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I can see objects up to 2 metres: Baljit

New Delhi, August 27

Injured India hockey goalkeeper Baljit Singh today said he can see objects within two metres after the successful surgery on his damaged right eye in the US. Baljit, however, said he will have to wait for two-three months more to know the quantum of his complete recovery.

�I had a meeting with Dr Robert Morris yesterday. He tested my eyes. I was asked to see natural light with the sun glasses on. I was then tested with equipments for pressure in each eye,� Baljit said.

Baljit, who went to the US to get a second opinion on his damaged right eye, was operated upon at a private hospital at Alabama earlier this month under the watchful eyes of renowned ophthalmologist Dr Robert Morris after Baltimore�s John Hopkins hospital could not guarantee him full vision.

�I am slightly relieved and feel happy now. As of now, I must say that the decision to get it operated by Dr Morris was right. Dr Morris will advise me, possibly tomorrow, as to how long I should stay in Alabama. I have been asked to meet him tomorrow,� he said.

He also thanked the government for funding his treatment in the US. �I am now able to see light at the end of the tunnel. I thank the Government of India, the Sports Ministry and IOA for their financial support,� the hockey custodian said.

Baljit was injured in a freak incident when a golf ball sneaked through the visor of his helmet and damaged his right eye. He then had to be airlifted to the capital where doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Ssciences conducted a marathon emergency surgery but could not promise him full vision. � PTI

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Indian Grand Prix hits roadblock

New Delhi, August 27

The 2011 Indian Grand Prix has hit a roadblock with the promoters of the event failing to get the government nod for remitting the money they owe to the UK-based Formula One Administration.

With the Sports Ministry denying JPSK Sports, promoters of the Indian Grand Prix, the approval to remit $36.5 million to the Formula One management, speculation is rife about the fate of the event and the hushed silence of the organisers are not helping their cause either.

JPSK Sports Managing Director Samir Gaur simply refused to entertain any query when asked for his version. �You have seen what has appeared in the media and I have nothing more to add,� he said curtly. Officials in the Sports Ministry maintained it�s just not a simple case of giving the nod to a remittance since it involves the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA).

Joint Secretary I Srinivas said the Ministry did not okay the remittance because it did not look justifiable. �Strictly in this context and under FEMA, the Ministry did not find the remittance desirable. They sought our recommendation for an outflow of nearly Rs 200 crore which the Ministry felt was not justified for a motor race,� Srinivas said. �We had to take a call on the matter and we took the call that it�s not desirable,� he added.

Another Sports Ministry official, requesting anonymity, put it more succinctly. �Tell me how many people in India bother about motorsport? It�s too niche and too elitist sport, if you can call it a sport in the first place,� he said.

�In their proposal, they talked how the Indian Grand Prix would woo tourists and boost tourism. If that�s the case, why don�t they approach the Tourism Ministry instead of knocking Sports Ministry�s door?� he said.

The Indian Grand Prix hit one roadblock after another since its inception. Once the track was earmarked, there was lot of confusion about who would run the show in the country. Rather surprisingly, Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi took a lot of interest in this non-Olympic event and announced that IOA would be the promoter of the event in the country.

Subsequently, German F1 architect Hermann Tilke, who has designed F1 circuits in Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Turkey, Spain and Singapore, surveyed the proposed site. Land acquisition became another time-consuming affair and the organisers had to defer the Indian Grand Prix by a year from its original 2010 schedule. � PTI

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ICC, Pak settle WC hosting row

Dubai, August 27

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has resolved its dispute with Pakistan after the country was removed as joint host of the 2011 World Cup over security concerns. The agreement was reached at a meeting between ICC president David Morgan and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ijaz Butt on Thursday, ensuring the PCB drops its legal challenge after 14 games it had been allocated were shifted to co-hosts India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The two parties have agreed the PCB will retain its host fees and also receive an additional payment as compensation, said an ICC statement. �I�m glad we were able to come to an amicable agreement and I believe this is a fair resolution for the PCB and the ICC,� Morgan said.

�This resolution is good for world cricket and provides an improved platform for the World Cup as we now have a degree of certainty surrounding the event that was not there while the dispute was ongoing.�

The settlement had been expected after prolonged discussions between both parties. The ICC board decided in April to shift the matches out of Pakistan after security concerns were heightened when gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March, killing seven people and injuring six players.

The PCB has been hit hard, with last year\'s ICC Champions Trophy postponed and now due to be staged in South Africa next month. Pakistan welcomed Thursday�s resolution, hoping it would lead to a revival of their cricket which is suffering due to the refusal of teams to tour the country.

�The PCB is content with the settlement that has been reached,� Butt said. �We�re able to see this dispute from the other side. Our number one priority is that cricket in Pakistan must not be allowed to suffer unduly and I believe this agreement is the best possible outcome for the game.� � Reuters

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Exporters, industry happy

New Delhi, August 27

Foreign Trade Policy announced by the government today has laid a \"reasonably good blueprint\" for arresting declining exports and raising it to $200 billion in the next two years, said the industry chambers.

\"...(the FTP) will help our exporters retain market share, and will hopefully reverse the declining trend in our exports,\" Ficci president Harshpati Singhania said.

He added that the enhanced benefits for market development and promotion schemes would enable the exporting community to explore new export destinations.

Exports are on decline since October 2008 due to demand slump in the US and the EU, the traditional markets for Indian products.

CII Director-General Chandrajit Banerjee said the focus in the FTP on 26 new markets would greatly benefit the exporters who have been hit due to demand slowdown in the country\'s traditional markets.

\"It is a very realistic trade policy. I think new products (and) new countries have been best thought out... in a very innovative Foreign Trade Policy,\" Banerjee said.

He said the FTP may not have specifically mentioned the small and medium enterprises sector but it talks about the labour intensive sector which largely consists of SMEs.

Terming the policy as \"user friendly\", Assocham said \" rightly focuses on creation of demand for Indian products in new markets to help exporters distribute and diversify their risks\".

Assocham president Sajjan Jindal said the $200-billion export target for 2010-11 is realistic.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO), the apex body of exporters while welcoming the policy said the government has provided impetus to the labour-intensive sectors like textiles, handicrafts by giving them additional benefit under various schemes like focus market and focus product.

\"The doubling of benefits under the Served From India Scheme will help the services sectors particularly the hotel and tourism which have been impacted due to the global slowdown and 26/11 (Mumbai attacks in November 2008),\" FIEO president A Sakthivel said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME) has expressed disappointment over the policy saying it does not offer any contra-cyclical steps for reversing the current trend in declining exports.

\"Overall the FTP proposed today is characterised by incremental improvements here and there, but completely misses addressing the issue of falling trade and offering vision for India\'s trade post global financial crisis,\" FISME said. � PTI

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