Category Archives: National

Mid Himalayn project registers lifestyle and income improvement in Himachal

Shimla/May 1
Implementation of Mid Himalayan project in Himachal has recorded nine percent increase in the average income of the families besides registering 25 percent improvement in the lifestyle BPL families living in the project area, Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmouri said here today.
Bharmauri was speaking at a meeting with a delegation of World Bank Mission led by Norman Piccioni here. The World Bank’s delegation was here to take stock of developmental activities under Mid Himalaya Project in the State.
Bharmouri said that irrigation facility to additional 8000 hectares land had been recorded besides increase in the production of milk, fruits and vegetables due to implementation of this project.
He said that benefit of this project should also be extended to Chamba and Sirmaur districts and the matter pertaining to extension of this project needed to be pursued with Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India.
Forest Minister said that many areas of Himachal Pradesh had been infested by obnoxious weed lantana and its eradication programme should be included under this project.
Norman said that Himachal had become first state of the country to implement this project within the stipulated time period which had been extended upto the year 2016. He lauded the role of the forest department for successfully implementing this project in urban watershed areas besides the rural areas of the State.
Principal Secretary, Forests Bharati S Sihag said that various departments should formulate a strategy for extending the benefits of the project after its completion to the people of the area and the works could be included under MNREGA.
Principal Chief Conservator RK Gupta, Chief Project Officer, Mid Himalaya Watershed development Project Arvind and other senior officers of the Forest Department were present on the occasion.

Exploit all diplomatic channels to bring Sarabjeet to India: Badal to Indian PM

New Delhi/May 1
India should exploit all diplomatic channels for bringing back Sarabjeet from the Pakistan to ensure better medical treatment to him, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal urged Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Badal sought PM’s intervention for bringing back Sarabjeet Singh to provide proper treatment to him after he was seriously injured in an attack by other prisoners in the Kot Lakhpat Rai Jail of Pakistan.
“It is unfortunate that Sarabjeet Singh continues to be in coma and was on ventilator after being brutally attacked by other prisoners due to which it was the moral duty of the Union government to make all out efforts for his early release thereby saving his precious life,” Badal said.
“It is high time that the Prime Minister, Union Foreign Affairs Minister and Union Home Minister must exploit all the diplomatic channels for bringing him back from the Pakistan,” he said, adding that immediate relief must be provided to Sarabjeet on humanitarian ground for saving his valuable life.
He expressed solidarity with his family and said that the state government was solidly with them in this hour of crisis. “There is hardly anything in the hands of the state government in the matters pertaining to the foreign affairs but then also the Punjab government appeals the Government of India (GoI) to take a prompt action for saving the life of Indian death row prisoner,” Badal added.
Meanwhile, Union Minister of New and Renewable energy Farooq Abdullah today assured Parkash Singh Badal that their Ministry will sympathetically consider the proposal of the state government to enhance the existing subsidy on the solar irrigation pump sets from 30 percent to 70 percent for optimum utilization of the Solar energy in various Agricultural operations.
Abdullah appreciated the efforts made by the state government to promote new and renewable energy with a twin objective of benefiting the farmers by ensuring uninterrupted supply of quality power on one hand and saving abundant electricity on the other.

Ban imposed on outside eatables and other items for prisoners in Punjab jails

Chandigarh/April 30
Punjab government today imposed complete ban on the eatables and other items brought by the visitors for the prisoners from outside in state’s jails to ensure safety in the prisons.
Punjab’s Jail Minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur announced this after a meeting with jails officials and directed the jail authorities to make available every essential item for the inmates in the canteens within the jail premises.
“The Superintendent jail will be held responsible if any objectionable material is found supplied from outside. Further, in order to check the overcrowding of prisoners in the state, Punjab will set up ultra modern jails,” Phillaur said.
Besides this the design and plan for three ultra-modern high security new jails at Amritsar, Bathinda and Muktsar to be constructed at a total cost of about Rs 450 crore within two years. The new jails coming up would be equipped with CCTV cameras, Mobile Jammers, bio-security systems and other security equipment to ensure adequate security in Jails, he added.

Congress MLA spends than more crore rupees on wedding, had declared assets worth Rs 32 lakh

New Delhi/April 30
Mohammad Tausif Alam, MLA from Kishanganj in India’s Bihar district, reportedly spent more crore rupees for his grand wedding while in his affidavit to Election Commission, he had declared moveable and immovable assets worth Rs 32 lakhs.
Alam’s wedding was attended by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar along with other politicians that included former state president of Congress Sadanand Singh, Baisi MLA Santosh Kushwaha and JD (U) leader Mahmood Ashraf.
Alam had hired a helicopter to travel to his in-laws house in Katha Matha village which was merely 30 kms from his Gargaon village residence. He had, reportedly, invited around 50,000 people for his wedding reception.
As per reports, Alam, a 10th class passout, had spent more than Rs 25 lakhs for decoration purposes only and had spent overall more than Rs 1 crore for his royal wedding. However, in his affidavit to election commission during Bihar Assembly polls in 2010, Alam had declared moveable assets worth Rs 6.92 lakh and immovable assets worth Rs 26.01 lakh and he had six criminal cases filed against him in Bihar.

Indian Planning Commission hikes annual plan for Punjab by 15 percent to Rs 16,215 crore

Punjab CM terms the decision of Indian government to rollback wealth tax as victory for farmers

New Delhi/April 30
Indian Planning Commission hikes Annual Plan outlay by 15 percent to Rs 16,215 crore for Punjab for 2013-14 as compared with Rs 14000 crore last year.
The plan was disclosed after a meeting between the Deputy Chairman Planning Commission of India Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today here at Yojana Bhawan.
A Punjab government spokesperson said that the approved plan outlay included one time Additional Central Assistance of Rs 120 crore comprising Rs 400 crore as 30 percent of Indian government grant and Rs 280 crore as 70 percent state’s share for the implementation of priority projects especially in the power, roads, health, education and rural water supply and sanitation sectors. Punjab government has proposed a plan size of Rs 16123 crore in Planning Commission of India (PCI) for approval which was subsequently hiked to Rs 16125 crore on the pursuance of the Chief Minister.
Badal said that the main thrust of the current annual plan was to strengthen social sector, infra structure besides the welfare of SC/BC, Women and girl child remained the highly prioritized areas. “The 15 percent hike in the annual plan outlay for 2013-14 over the last year’s plan was reflective of state government’s commitment to achieve its target realistically,” Badal said.
Badal observed that the Gadgil-Mukherjee formula was unfavourable for the state and urged the Planning Commission of India (PCI) to sanction a special package of Rs 10,000 crore to bail out the state from fiscal stress. He also requested that under the Gadgil Mukherjee formula 20 percent weightage should be given to the States’ proportion of SC population and 40 percent for General population adding that states’ contribution to the national pool of food grains should be recognized by earmarking at least 15 percent weightage to it in Gadgil formula.
Further, Punjab Chief Minister described the Government of India’s decision to roll back wealth tax on agriculture land as victory for farmers that was snatched from the jaws of the Congress and of defeat through immense, unrelenting and all round pressure brought to bear on an insensitive government which continued to play games with the farmers and their well wishers, it was forced to yield to the SAD-BJP and the farmers demand.

Petrol prices reduced by Rs 3 per litre

New Delhi/April 30
Indian Oil companies reduced petrol prices by Rs 3 per litre due to downtrend in the prices in international crude oil prices and it will be effective from midnight today.
The price reduction announced is excluding local sales tax or VAT and the actual price will depend on the duties imposed in respective states.
Indian Oil companies today said that the price has been reduced downtrend in international crude oil prices that have gone down from around 116 dollar per barrel to around 107 dollar per barrel and Indian rupee and dollar exchange rate had also improved by 25 paise.

CBI Director admits India’s premier investigation agency under government control

Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal was reportedly forced to resign which being seen as the fallout of Coal scam fiasco
New Delhi/April 30
Though Indian government’s continuously harping that India’s premier investigating agency works independently, Ranjit Sinha, the Director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today said that the agency is not an independent body and he work under government.
“I am not independent and the agency works under control,” Sinha said while talking to mediapersons in New Delhi here today. While reply to a correspondent’s query, Sinha said that he had shown the report to Union Law Minister Ashwini Kumar and he is not embarrassed about the fact as he is part of the government.
“I had showed the report to Union Law Minister and I am not embarrassed as I am part of the government,” Sinha added.
Meanwhile, Additional Solicitor General Harin Rawal was reportedly forced to resign which being seen as the fallout of Coal scam fiasco. Raval, reportedly, was asked to resign after he wrote a letter of Indian Attorney General l G E Vahanvati in which he alleged that he has been made a ‘scapegoat’ in the coal scam status report which had allegedly misled Indian Supreme Court.
In the letter, Raval wrote ‘with a very heavy heart, I am constrained to address this letter to you to make the record straight and take the liberty of reminding you of the facts which are within your knowledge and of which corroboration exists.’
Yesterday, Harin Raval, reportedly, had alleged that it was Vahanvati who had filed the CBI’s status report in sealed cover instead of filing an affidavit. Indian Attorney General was present ‘when permission was sought for filing status report in a sealed cover instead of filing of an affidavit as per my statement recorded in the order dated 24.01.2013.
“During the course of hearing when you were called upon to respond to certain paragraphs of the Status Report as regards the decision of the Government and the Screening Committee in the matter of allocations of coal blocks, you had not only exhibited ignorance of the facts stated in the Status Report which you had earlier perused, but had made a statement that what is stated in the Status Report was not to your knowledge and same was not shared with the Government. In fact, during the course of hearing, I was also called upon to show you those relevant paragraphs from the copy of the Status Report that was made available to me during the course of hearing by the CBI officials instructing me in the matter. The same was shown to you in Court,” said Harin Raval.
Earlier in the day, Supreme Court of India slammed CBI for showing the report to Indian Law Minister and PMO officials and misleading the Apex Court by not revealing the real facts.
An Apex Court bench headed by Justice R M Lodha stated that it was a very disturbing fact that earlier CBI thorough Additional Solicitor General had stated that the status report on Coal Scam was not shared with anyone.
But CBI Director Ranjit Sinha, in an affidavit had said that CBI’s status report on coal cam was shown to Union Law Minister and Prime Minister Office’s officials.
The Apex Court observed that CBI by sharing the report with Indian government had brought out some disturbing features in case and CBI should not take instructions from political masters.

Himachal government to take up matter with GoI for releasing Rs. 277 crores under CAMPA

Shimla/ April 30
Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today said that the state government will take up the matter with the Government of India (GoI) for releasing Rs 277 crores to Himachal Pradesh Government, which was erroneously deposited in Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority of India (CAMPA) by the Ministry of Defence in respect of the cost of the trees of Project under Defence.
He was presiding over a review meeting of Forest Department, here on Tuesday.
He said that other pending issues such as continuation of Regional Office at Chandigarh for Forest Conservation Act (FCA) clearances, approval to IT Project of Rs. 25 crores, Chilgoza Pine Project of Rs. 10 crores and Sea-buckthorn Project of Rs. 35 crores would also be taken up with concerned Ministries at the Centre.
Chief Minister directed the Forest Officers to emphasise on afforestation in order to increase green cover in the State. He said that out of total 55,673 square kilometres area in the State, 66.52% is legally classified as forest and 26.37% under dense forest. He lauded the efforts of Forest Department for initiating measures for increasing the forest cover of the State despite heavy biotic and developmental pressure, besides taking initiatives for various innovative activities such as introduction of Forest Fire Alert Systems (FFAS) and Geographical Information System (GIS).
Virbhadra Singh said that it was a matter of pride that Great Himalayan National Park, in Kullu District has been short listed for nomination as UNESCO’s World Heritage Site.
Chief Minister said that 30 final approvals under Forest Conservation Act (FCA) had been cleared by GoI and 39 approvals in principle had been received during last three months. He said that a special drive was launched by the Forest Department to speed up the clearances of the Forest Cases. He said that cases pertaining to forest clearances were being regularly monitored by the Government at the State level and at the District level.
Virbhadra Singh said that six more monkey sterilization centers would be set up in the State to check the monkey menace during the current financial year. A special drive will be launched in the State by the Forest Department to eradicate lantana. He said that vigorous efforts should be made to get more funds under CAMPA from Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Chief Minister informed that 102 more Panchayats have been added in World Bank Mid-Himalyan Watershed Development Project and allocation has been enhanced by Rs. 235 crores which would now have a total outlay of Rs. 600 crores and would culminate in March 2016. The project would
be implemented in 704 panchayats in the State with ratio of 80:20 of World Bank and State Government respectively.
He expressed his happiness over the increase of cost of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assisted SWAN Integrated Watershed Development Management Project at Una, from Rs. 160 crores to 214 crores. It will also conclude in March 2016 and 96 panchayats would be covered under it.
Virbhadra Singh said that currently, issue of raising medicinal plants in the State was being addressed by various departments. He asked the Chief Secretary to review it and take appropriate decision in this regard.
Forest Minister Thakur Singh Bharmori urged for more funds to the Department for afforestation. He said that timber should also be made available to the local people at market rate to meet their bona-fide domestic requirements for house construction etc. in addition to timber distribution (TD) rights.
Bharmori apprised the Chief Minister that the priority of the Department was being fixed as per the Election Manifesto which was adopted as a policy document of the State Government. He also informed the Chief Minister that very soon he would be visiting Ministry of Environment and Forests along with the team of Senior Officers of the Department for impressing upon the early clearances of the projects and cases pending with GoI.
Principal Secretary, Forests, Bharti S. Sihag welcomed the Chief Minister and detailed about the achievements of the Department.

Kharif crops to be covered under National Agriculture Insurance Scheme in Himachal

Shimla/April 30
Kharif crops in hill state will be covered under the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (Rashtriya Krishi Bima Yojna) during this season.
“Maize, Paddy, Potato and Ginger crops on pilot basis would be covered under the scheme with indemnity level at 80 percent of the average yield. The scheme would be on compulsory basis to the loanee farmers availing Seasonal Agricultural operation (SAO) loans from the Commercial Banks, Co-operative Banks, Regional Rural Banks and Primary Agricultural Co-operatives for the insured crops within the stipulated period besides the scheme for non-loanee farmers was optional. The Agriculture Insurance company of India would be the implementing agency for this scheme as decided by Indian Government,” said a government spokesperson.
He said that in case of loanee farmers, sum insured would be at least equal to the amount of loan advanced and where the amount of crop loan availed comes out to be more than either the value of threshold yield of 150 percent of average yield, normal premium rates would be applicable on the full amount of the loan availed, as the full amount of loan was to be compulsorily ensured.
“The small and marginal farmers were eligible for 50 percent government subsidy on the total premium to enhance the subsidy on premium of the insurable crops as decided by the state Government. The small and marginal farmers would require to pay only 50 percent of the total premium payable,” said the government spokesperson.
He said that Natural Fire, Lightning, Storm, Hailstorm, Cyclone, Typhoon, Tempest, Hurricane, Tornado, Drought, Dry spells, Pets/Diseases etc. would be covered under the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme. The claims would be settled only on the basis of yield data furnished by the state government.
The cut of date for accepting the crop insurance proposals from non loanee farmers is July 31, 2013 and September13,2013, for loanee farmers, the government spokesperson added.

Boeing 787 to start operations again after changes in battery systems

New Delhi/April 29
After getting approval for changes in battery systems, suspected for fires in the aircraft, from US Federal Aviation administration, Boeing 787 Dreamliner is all set to provide luxurious revolutionary flying experience to passengers once again.
“US Federal Aviation Administration approved the improvements to the 787 battery systems. With this approval, the Dreamliner will be back in service and soaring once again,” Boeing Company said in a statement.
The Dreamliner was grounded in January due to battery related problems after incidents of fire and smoke were reported in two aircrafts that has raised safety concerns while flying.
Boeing has introduced changes in the design of Dreamliner’s battery system along with safety measures to control and prevent fire breakouts.
The company boasts of incorporating new changes to make the airplanes better, even safer and more reliable.
“This is the most tested commercial airplane ever built with more than 10,000 hours of testing on the 787, including 5,000 hours of flight testing and 5,000 hours of test time on the ground. From wind tunnel and stress tests to extreme flying and cold weather testing, this airplane was put through its paces,” adds the statement.
Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a long-range, mid-size wide-body, twin-engine jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes with variants seats from 210 to 290 passengers. Boeing claims it to be the company’s most fuel-efficient airliner and the world’s first major airliner to use composite materials as the primary material in the construction of its airframe. The aircraft has distinguishing features that include mostly electrical flight systems, a four-panel windshield, noise-reducing chevrons on its engine nacelles and a smoother nose contour.