Your updated source of information about Dehradun & Uttarakhand.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Satpal Maharaj for military training in schools

Dehradun, April 13
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Defence Affairs Satpal Maharaj yesterday said that the committee had put forward its 10th recommendations in Parliament on March 23.

Maharaj said the committee had strongly recommended compulsory military training in schools and other institutions so that talented youth of the country gets inclination towards joining armed forces.
Keeping in view the decreasing number of field firing ranges, the committee was of the view that the matter be sorted out after holding talks with all stakeholders. The committee held that it was a matter of great concern that out of the total of 92 notified firing ranges, the notification period of 52 firing ranges today stand lapsed.
Taking into account the strategic importance of firing ranges, the committee has reiterated his suggestion for the acquisition of firing ranges. 

1,200 take part in Terry Fox Run

Dehradun, April 13
Amid much fanfare, a total of 1,200 runners hit the streets of Dehradun as part of the Annual Terry Fox Run, also called the ‘Marathon of Hope’.
GOC Maj-Gen Ranvir Yadav from Doon School flagged off the race.
Students from St Kabeer Academy, Summer Valley School, Unison World School, Doon Blossom, Welham Girls School, Kasiga School, John Martyn, St George’s College, Welham Boys School, Carnival Academy, Olympus High, ITM, Hope Town School, Asian School, Doon Girls, Selaqui School, Roller Skating club and participated in the marathon. The guests included Dr Peter McLaughlin, Headmaster, Doon School, and Simon Cridland, head of Advocacy, Canadian High Commission, among others.
The Indo-Canadian Cancer Research Foundation (ICCR) gave away t-shirts to the participants. An amount of Rs 66,500 was raised at the end of the marathon.

Vijay Raghav Pant new DGP

Dehradun, April 13
The government has appointed Director-General, Technical Services, Uttarakhand Police, Vijay Raghav Pant as new DGP.

Principle Secretary, Home, DK Kotia said since former DGP Jyoti Swaroop Pandey had decided to opt for voluntary retirement, his request had been accepted. He has been nominated as member of the State Police Reformation Commission. The commission will have only one member, whose tenure will be for one year. 

46 IAS officers shifted

Dehradun, April 13
Effecting a major bureaucratic reshuffle, the Uttarakhand Government today transferred 46 IAS officers, including the Commissioners of Garhwal and Kumaon Divisions and 11 District Magistrates.
Ajay Nabiyal has been made the Commissioner of the Kumaon Division and Kunal Sharma of the Garhwal Division.
The Principal Secretary, medical education, Ayush and FRDC forest and rural development has been entrusted with the responsibility of culture and Central Government-aided projects. She has been divested of the responsibility of medical education and Ayush, rest of the responsibilities will remain with her.
Principal Secretary PC Sharma has been divested of the responsibilities of Commissioner, revenue and housing. He will continue to hold the charge of civil aviation and Sanskrit education.
Similarly, Principal Secretary Rakesh Sharma will no longer hold the responsibilities of the departments of small scale industries, Khadi Gram Udyog, Central Government-funded programmes and officiating Director of Khadi Gram Udyog. However, he will continue to hold the charge of industries and managing director of SIDCUL.
Principal Secretary, home, DK Kotia has been given the additional responsibility of special programmes.
While Principal Secretary S Raju has been assigned the responsibilities of the departments of medical education, medical, health and family welfare, Ayush, housing and Commissioner (housing).
Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Utpal Kumar Singh has been divested of the responsibilities of higher education, information, Suraj and anti-corruption and jansewa. He will continue to hold the charge of the PWD, personnel and vigilance.
On the other hand, the Principal Secretary has been divested of the responsibilities of transport, medical, health and family welfare departments. Instead, he will now hold the charge of departments of forest and environment, labour and employment. He will continue to hold the charge of the department of planning.
Principal Secretary Om Prakash has been given the additional charge of revenue and divested of the charge of school education, minor irrigation and fisheries. He will continue to hold the charge of the agriculture department.
Secretary Vinod Fonia has been entrusted with the responsibilities of urban development, small-scale industries, khadi gram udyog and has also been made officiating director of khadi gram udyog. He has been divested of the responsibilities of rural development and rural services.
Secretary to the Chief Minister SS Sandhu has been divested of the responsibilities of forest and environment. He will continue to hold the charge of tourism and power.
Uttarakhand Chief Electoral Officer, Secretary, Election, and Commissioner, Tax, Radha Raturi has been given the additional charge of Secretary, technical education. Secretary to the Chief Minister MH Khan has been transferred to the posts of Secretary, minorities' welfare and MD, Minorities Welfare Corporation. Secretary, watershed, Manisha Panwar has been transferred to the post of Secretary, higher education and school education, Secretary, irrigation, Dr Uma Kant Panwar has been transferred to the posts of Secretary, transport, information technology and Commissioner, transport.
Secretary, revenue, Kunwar Rajkumar has been transferred to the post of Secretary to the Chief Minister. Secretary, transport, RC Pathak has been transferred to the posts of Secretary, disaster management, rural engineering services and chief revenue commissioner, Dehradun.
Secretary, information and technology, Arun Dhondhiyal has been transferred to the post of Secretary, rural development and panchayati raj. Dr PS Gusain, who was Secretary, panchayati raj, has now been made Secretary cooperatives, science and technology and biotechnology. Dr Hemlata Dhoundiyal has been removed from the post of Secretary, finance, and given the charge of Secretary, Secretariat administration and watershed. Chief Revenue Commissioner NS Negi has been transferred to the post of Secretary culture and games.
Dr Ajay Pradhyot has been given the additional charge of Secretary, animal husbandry and fisheries.
Ranjeet Sinha, DM, Chamoli, has been transferred to the post of DM, Tehri while DM, Tehri, SA Murugeshan, has been made MD GMVN. Additional Secretary, home, information technology, Director ITDA and Director, training, Meenakshi Sundaram has been transferred to the post of vice-chairman, MDDA.
Chief Executive Officer, Tehri, has been transferred to the post of DM, Champawat. DM, Uttarakashi, Akshat Gupta, has been transferred to the post of DM, Bageshwar. DM, Almora, DS Garbyal has been made Additional Secretary in the Uttarakhand administration.
DM, Champawat, Ashish Joshi has been transferred to the post of DM, Almora. DM, Dehradun, Dilip Jawalkar, has been transferred to the post of Additional Secretary to the Chief Minister. He will also be given the additional charge of Director General, information.
Sujanya, Additional Secretary to the Chief Minister and also Additional Secretary, election, has been transferred to the post Additional Secretary, power.
MD, GMVN, Ravinath Raman will be the new District Magistrate of Dehradun. DM, Bageshwar, Deepak Rawat has been made the DM, Chamoli, DM Udham Singh Nagar PS Jangpangi will be Additional Secretary in the Uttarakhand administration, DM, Pauri MC, Upreti has been transferred to the post of Additional Secretary, information, cane and civil aviation.
Additional Secretary, food and civil supplies, Subardhan has been given additional charges of social welfare and Managing Director, Multipurpose Finance Development Corporation. RK Sudhanshu has been given the additional charge of Additional Secretary, dairy development.

Chill back in Mussoorie, Haridwar

Mussoorie, April 13
Heavy rain accompained by strong winds lashed Mussoorie today, bringing down a number of trees and billboards in many areas.
The tourists and residents were seen in woollen clothes to tackle the unprecedented dip in temperature. The heavy rain and strong winds started in the morning and continued for more than four hours.
At Mussoorie Public School, the students had a narrow escape when an oak tree got uprooted and fell on the roof of one of the classrooms in the afternoon. No one was injured as the tree fell over the grill erected around the area that lessened the impact of the fall.
The Principal of the school said the students were taken to a safe spot and they immediately wrote to the Forest Department to remove the tree. The winds also peeled away advertisement billboards at few places in the town, posing threat to the life of the pedestrians and commuters.
The higher reaches around Mussoorie like Naag Tibba, witnessed a snow spell accompanied by heavy rain.
Due to overflowing drains, the roads near Picture Palace and Kulri Bazaar turned into a cesspool of mud, making it difficult for the pedestrians to walk through. Unlike tourists, the farmers from the apple belt in the Dhanaulti area showed their unhappiness over the fresh spell of rain and strong winds. They feared that the strong wind would affect agriculture adversely.
Director of Metrological Department Anand Sharma termed it as a routine occurrence and added that the weather would start improving soon. Surprisingly, the sky cleared by the evening and the life returned to normalcy.
HARIDWAR: Heavy rain accompanied by a windstorm that lashed the city in the wee hours today disrupted life at several places.
Uprooted trees, fallen electricity poles and overflowing nullahs were common sites.
Power supply also got disrupted with intermittent cuts and several colonies remained without electricity till late morning. Colonies of Shiv Lok, Shiv Moorti area, Mayapur, Devpura, Khanna Nagar, Jwalapur, Vivek Vihar and Awas Vikas were badly affected.
On the Delhi-Dehradun, Haridwar-Rishikesh and Haridwar-Najibabad highways, many portions of the road got affected with several trees fallen on the highway. Drains in many inner roads got choked, which submerged many vital intersections.
The rain in the region has brought the temperature down.

DIG: Resolve issues faced during Char Dham yatra last

Dehradun, April 13
DIG, Garhwal Zone, Sanjay Gunjyal held a meeting with SSPs of various districts with regard to the Char Dham Yatra and law and order here recently.
 Gunjyal directed the SSPs to take effective steps to resolve all contentious issues that were faced during the Char Dham Yatra in the past, before the commencement of the pilgrimage this year.
The DIG said, “Besides setting up temporary police posts equipped with wireless sets and required personnel at tourist centres, a proper plan must be laid out regarding the checking of vehicles and the briefing of drivers on speed. Besides old parking sites, new parking venues must be earmarked. Similarly, disaster management teams and equipment needed by them must be ensured within the time line.” Meanwhile, Gunjyal also reviewed crime cases which had been solved in these districts. Regarding pending burglary and theft cases, he directed the DIG and the SSP of Dehradun and Haridwar, respectively, to take effective action and prepare a plan to nab seasoned criminals.  

Pauri Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj: Make Garsain summer capital

Haridwar, April 13
Pauri Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj has demanded that Garsain should be made summer capital, if not the permanent capital, of
the state.

Speaking to The Tribune exclusively at his Prem Nagar ashram here today, he also sought the diversion of Rs 88 crore Central fund that had been allocated for the state Secretariat building.
The fund was now on the verge of being lapsed. It should be diverted for infrastructure building in Gairsain so that it could be made summer capital of the state.
On the ambitious 120-km Rishikesh-Karanprayag railway line, Satpal Maharaj, who was Union Minister of State for Railways in Deve Gowda government, said the work on the rail project would soon commence as currently tender process was in the final phase.
He termed the rail project as one of the best things that had happened to the state since its creation as it would immensely help local people and pilgrims, who come here for Char Dham yatra as well as Hemkunt Sahib, and several other places of religious importance.
Adding further, he said this railway line would be later given extension till Shri Badrinath shrine, with Karanprayag being made a hub of railway in hilly districts.
Refuting the media reports that the Army had tried to stage a coup just few months back, Satpal Maharaj, who is chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence Affairs, termed the act as "irresponsible journalism" that was done to gain the media advantage.
Maharaj also pointed that in view of the regular crashes of the MiGs, the committee had written to the Defence Ministry of a time-bound phasing out of these fighter aircraft, replacing these with the state-of-the-art fighter jets.
Exuding confidence that Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna will provide a stable government, Maharaj, who was also in race for the CM's post, said party leaders should focus on Mission 2014 .

CM visits Pauri Garhwal MP’s ashram

Haridwar, April 13
Congress heavyweights --- Pauri Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj and state party chief Yashpal Arya --- have extended full support to Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna. Since the appointment of Bahuguna as Uttarakhand Chief Minister, Haridwar MP Harish Rawat, who was also in the race for the post, has been creating all sorts of hurdles for the new CM.

On his visit to Haridwar, the constituency of Harish Rawat, yesterday, Bahuguna met Satpal Maharaj at his Prem Nagar ashram and even shared the dais with him at the Rishikul ground, where a three-day annual Sadhbavna Sammelan is under way.
This convention is presided over by Satpal Maharaj and his wife Amrita Rawat, Cabinet minister, where the former delivers religious discourse. But this time Bahuguna was also invited and asked to address the gathering.
This is being seen as an indication of growing closeness between both leaders. Harish Rawat and his supporters were, however, conspicuous by there absence at all four programmes attended by Bahuguna.
Haridwar district Congress chief Chaudhary Rajendra Singh and city party chief OP Chauhan, staunch supporters of Harish Rawat, have been issued notices by the party disciplinary committee for not being present during the CM's visit.
When Yashpal Arya was questioned on this matter, he said he was awaiting the reply of both party office-bearers and would take action on the basis of it only.
He expressed hope that Bahuguna would cater to the aspirations of the people, the party high command and workers. Yashpal Arya has also been invited by Satpal Maharaj at the ongoing convention.
"Everyone should abide by the party high command's decision. All of us are loyal party workers. There are hundreds of leaders who despite being members of the party for over 50 years have not held any berth," said Satpal Maharaj, while referring to Harish Rawat's statement that he had been denied the CM post despite being loyal to the party for more than 40 years.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

RTE Act applies to all govt, private schools, rules Supreme Court of India

Private unaided minority institutions get exemption
New Delhi, April 12
The government got a shot in its arm today when the Supreme Court upheld the constitutional validity of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act (2009) and ruled that the law would apply uniformly across India to all government, local bodies and private unaided schools.
By a majority view, a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice SH Kapadia and Justices KS Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said the Act would apply to all private and minority schools, which get grants from the government. All unaided private schools are also covered under the Act with the exception of unaided private minority schools.
All schools covered by the law will now have to compulsorily reserve in Class I (or nursery at entry level) at least 25 per cent seats of the total strength of that class for children belonging to weaker sections and disadvantaged group in the neighbourhood. Top Delhi institutions, including Sanskriti, Modern School, DPS, Vasant Valley would be covered under the RTE Act.
However, missionary schools in Chandigarh like St John’s, Carmel Convent, St Anne’s and Sacred Heart which get no grants from the government, will be exempted and not have to reserve 25 per cent seats for the weaker sections.
“Missionary schools are in any case enrolling children from the Economically Weaker Sections but with the additional 25 per cent quota, they were feeling extremely burdened. The SC order is a relief,” said Alka Sarin, advocate for Chandigarh’s missionary schools.
The SC’s order came on a bunch of petitions filed by private unaided institutions which argued that the law violated their rights under Article 19(1) (g) of the Constitution which provided them the autonomy to run institutions without government interference.
Justice Radhakrishnan’s dissenting view that the law should not apply to unaided private and unaided minority institutions was overruled by Justices Kapadia and Swatanter Kumar.
The apex court said the law should be viewed as child-centric and not institution-centric. The court also ruled that the judgment would apply from today (Thursday). This means it won’t apply to admissions granted before today and post April 1, 2010 when the Act came into force. The law will thus apply prospectively.
Earlier, the SC had reserved its judgment on August 3, 2011, on petitions filed by the Society for Unaided Private Schools, Independent Schools Federation of India and others who primarily contested 25 per cent quota at entry level.
HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today thanked the apex court for upholding the interests of children before anything else. “The court has clarified a very complex issue. We welcome the court’s view that such legislations should be seen as child-specific and not institution- specific. It’s the future of children that will be secured through the law. We had always held what the SC has today ruled. Every school must now comply,” he added.
The government, however, clarified that madrassas and Vedic schools won’t be covered under the RTE Act and a Bill amending the law would be taken up in Parliament soon to exempt these institutions. “These institutions are not schools as per the definitions of the RTE Act,” Sibal said.
Schools reserving 25 pc seats will be reimbursed expenditure to the extent of per-child-expenditure incurred by the state as a whole or the actual amount charged from the child whichever is less.

Anand Marriage Act gets Cabinet approval

Sikhs will be able to register marriages under 1909 Act 
New Delhi, April 12
Sikh couples will soon be able to get their marriages registered under the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, instead of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955.
Accepting the long-standing demand of Sikhs, the Cabinet today approved amendments to the Anand Marriage Act, 1909, to provide for registration of Sikh marriages. A Bill to this effect would be introduced in Parliament when the Budget Session resumes later this month.
The Cabinet also approved the introduction of a Bill to amend the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, to include registration of marriages as well. The move aims at utilising the existing administrative mechanism to maintain marriage records on the lines of records of births and deaths.
The amendment would allow couples to get their marriages registered independent of their religion, though the option of getting marriages registered under the Hindu Marriage Act and the Special Marriages Act would continue.
Though the Law Ministry note in respect of this amendment talked of compulsory registration of marriages, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal clarified, “Those who wish can get their marriage registered under this new law. The issue of mandatory registration will be discussed when the Bill reaches the Standing Committee .”
After Parliament passes the amendment Bill, Sikh marriage certificates won’t be issued under Section 2 of the Hindu Marriage Act (as is the case now). The Cabinet decision comes a year after the government decided to drop the proposal of amending the Anand Marriage Act and Salman Khurshid informed the Rajya Sabha of the decision.
The Tribune was the first to report the move on August 29, 2011, following which the Sikhs began fresh agitations for a demand that had once been approved by the Standing Committee on Law when Veerappa Moily was the Law Minister. But later the move fell flat.
Khurshid recently proposed religion-neutral registration of all marriages — a move which the Sikhs slammed. Former Chairperson of the National Minority Commission Tarlochan Singh wrote a protest letter to Law Minister Salman Khurshid, demanding amendment to the Anand Marriage Act and not a religion-neutral marriage registration law.
“This is the victory of Sikhs; we had fought for this right for decades,” Tarlochan Singh said today. Akali Dal’s Rajya Sabha member Naresh Gujral also welcomed the decision saying. “It’s sad that Sikhs who sacrificed so much for the country had to feel alienated over such a small demand. We thank the PM and the Cabinet as this decision reassures minorities that their interests are protected. We want to congratulate Tarlochan Singh, former MP, who spearheaded the campaign in Parliament.”
In the Cabinet, Information Minister Ambika Soni proposed that the amendment Bill be titled Anand Karaj Amendment Bill, 2012. This title is likely to be retained. So far, marriages amongst Sikhs, Hindus, Jains, Buddhists and other communities, except Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews, were covered under the Hindu Marriage Act.

Major step in recognizing Sikh identity
JALANDHAR: Not only has a long pending demand of the Sikh community, of recognizing their own marriage ceremony, been fulfilled with Union Cabinet's nod to Anand Marriage Act, but it has also come as a major step in addressing the issue of their search for an independent identity - which gained momentum some three decades back. 

Even as the Sikhs had their own marriage ceremony, initiated by third Sikh master Guru Amar Dass, and is centered around their holy book Guru Granth Sahib, but their marriages were registered under Hindu Marriage Act. Apart from the issue of identity, this had also been creating problems for NRI Sikhs - who are estimated to be around five million across the globe. 

"In our papers, we state our religion as Sikh but when our sons or daughters marry, they get the marriage certificate from the authority under Hindu Marriage Act. Members of our community have been facing problems due to this and would be at loss to explain this paradox even as the Sikhs don't consider themselves as part of Hindus," said Gurdarshan Singh Basra a UK-based NRI whose son recently married in Punjab. As Sikhs sought amendment in Article 25-B of the constitution - which clubs Sikhs, Jains and Budhists with Hindus - which was also a major demand of Dharm Yudh Morcha launched by Akali Dal and the demand epitomized by P S Badal tearing and burning this article in Delhi in early eighties. The demand for Anand Amarriage Act gained momentum in 2006, when Supreme court mandated registration of all marriages. The Sikhs' representative body, SGPC opposed registration under Hindu marriage Actand demanded that Anand Marriage Act be put in place. The clergy and Sikh groups then raised the demand for a separate marriage Act, after refusing to be clubbed under the Hindu Marriage Act. 

Before that National Commission for Minorities Chairman Tarlochan Singh had started pushing papers in union government in 2003 but things would not move beyond a point. "Nod for Anand Marriage Act is meeting their rightful demand and is a major step in recognizing their independent religious identity which was ordained by the Guru himself. It is heartening that it is coming on the eve of Baisakhi when 10th Sikh master Gur Gobind Singh gave final shape to the formation of Khalsa Panth- an independent religious entity," said former IAS officer and prominent Sikh intellectual Gurtej Singh who had also contributed to the authoring of Anand Marriage Act passed by Pakistan. 

Facebook in Punjabi a hit among youngsters

Ludhiana, April 11
The announcement that Facebook for mobile phones is going to be launched in eight Indian languages, including Punjabi and Hindi, has brought cheer amongst the youth in and around the city.
There is a sizeable and growing community of people in the region using Punjabi as the language for surfing websites. Youngsters from both rural and urban areas in and around the city are connected on Facebook.
Sarabjit Singh, a BA student, said that he used to write in Punjabi using English alphabets. But the introduction in Punjabi on mobile phones would ease things up. "Regional language written using the English alphabet seems funny and frivolous," he says.
According to the noted Punjabi poet Jaswant Zafar, who is a regular user of the popular social networking website in Punjabi, “There is a vast community of Facebook users in Punjabi, but there was always a constraint of using it on computers. Mobile platform may propel the online use of Punjabi."
Padam Shri awardee Surjit Patar said, "Mobile phones these days are very popular with the youth and so is Facebook. It is good that even while using Facebook on phones, there would be no constraint for people to use the Roman script for sharing and writing Punjabi poetry."
“Such initiatives are aimed at increasing the footprint of social networking sites, but they are also facilitate the growth of the languages as a byproduct,” he said.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Moot court competition

Justice MM Ghildiyal (retd), Lokayukta, Uttarakhand, gives away the winning trophy of the Third Sushila Devi Memorial Moot Court Competition to the winners in Dehradun on Wednesday.
Dehradun, April 11
The third Sushila Devi Memorial Moot Court Competition was held at Law College here today. The team comprising Vibhuti Bahuguna, Jyoti Bhatt and Aishawrya Chandra were declared as the winners of the competition, while the team of Angi Mehta, Swapnil Kaushik and Sahil Sharma were declared as runners- up. Vibhuti Bahuguna was also declared as the best speaker.
Justice M.M.Ghildiyal (retd), Lokayukta,Uttarakhand, who was the chief guest on the occasion gave tips to the law students. He said that mere knowledge of law was not sufficient and the students should also know the circumstances also to use the relevant laws.

Storm, hailstones damage fruit, vegetable crops

People caught in dust storm that lashed Haridwar on Wednesday.
People caught in dust storm that
 lashed Haridwar on Wednesday.
 Pithoragarh, April 11
A storm accompanied by hailstones in the district last night damaged 20 to 40 per cent of fruit and vegetable crops at various places, besides damaging 20 to 30 per cent of the standing rabi crop, district administration officials told this correspondent here today.
According to information received from the Baram valley of the Munsiyari region, 40 per cent of vegetable crops and the rabi crop was damaged by hailstorm last night.
“The storm arrived at lower valleys from the high Himalayan region at midnight, caused heavy damage to onion, peas, beans and other crops in the lower region and around the district headquarters,” said RS Rana, district disaster management officer.
According to information received from Dharchula subdivision of the district, the electricity supply to Dharchula town and landline telephone services there were disrupted for 8 hours as the power line and the telephone exchange were hit by lightning.
In the Munsiyari area, Hira Devi became unconscious after she was hit by lightning while she was standing near her home. She was admitted to the district hospital. “Munsiyari town has been without electricity for the last 12 hours as the power line was damaged at various places due to the storm last night,” said Gulab Singh Pangti, president of the Malla Johar Vikas Samiti.
In Pithoragarh town, fast winds blew off roofs of houses. The temperature in the town dropped 7°C below normal,” said Rana.

MP: Work on Bangajhala project soon

Dehradun, April 11
Garhwal MP Satpal Maharaj said today that construction work on the Bangajhala drinking water project, which falls in his constituency, would begin soon.
In a statement issued here, the MP said he had held talks with state Potable Water Minister Mantri Prasad Naithani and the latter had given him an assurance that the work would start soon.
He said the project would ensure clean drinking water to the entire Ramnagar region.

8.6 quake jolts Indonesia, shakes India

Epicentre in Sumatra; tsunami fear grips Indian Ocean belt after 8.2 aftershock 

Banda Aceh, Indonesia, April 11
A powerful 8.6 magnitude earthquake and a series of strong aftershocks struck off Indonesia on Wednesday, sending people scurrying from buildings as far away as southern India, but there seemed little risk of a disastrous tsunami as in 2004.

Indonesia said it was checking for damage and casualties but remarkably, no such reports had been received for several hours after the quakes, including in Aceh, the closest province and the area decimated by the disaster eight years ago.
However, some areas close to the epicentre are remote so it could take some time to find out if there was any damage.
Many people were frightened of further tremors. "It's dark out here but I am scared to go home," said Mila, a 41-year-old woman taking refuge in the grand mosque in the town of Banda Aceh, the provincial capital.
Waves of up to one metre (3.3 feet) high were seen near islands off Aceh, but Indonesia cancelled a warning for fresh tsunamis. It said the worst-hit area was the thinly populated island of Simeulue, off Aceh's southern coast.
The first quake struck at 0838 GMT and an 8.2 magnitude aftershock just over two hours later, at 1043 GMT. Two more strong aftershocks hit later.
The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also withdrew tsunami warnings for the entire Indian Ocean after keeping them in force for several hours. "Level readings now indicate that the threat has diminished or is over for most areas," the agency's bulletin said.
Thailand and India also withdrew tsunami warnings. Thailand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India were all badly hit in 2004. At least 230,000 persons in 13 Indian Ocean countries were killed in the disaster that year. Last year, an earthquake and tsunami off Japan's northeastern coast killed at least 23,000 persons.
On Wednesday, people near the coast in six Thai provinces were ordered to move to higher ground. Authorities shut down the international airport in the Thai beach resort province of Phuket.
The quakes were about 300 miles (500 km) southwest of Banda Aceh, on the northern tip of Indonesia's Sumatra island, the US Geological survey said. The first was at a depth of 20.5 miles (33 km).
Indonesia's disaster management agency said power failed in Aceh province and people were gathering on high ground as sirens warned of the danger.
"The electricity is down, there are traffic jams to access higher ground," said Sutopo, spokesman for the agency.
"The warning system worked," Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said. Indonesian television showed people gathering in mosques in Banda Aceh. Many others were on the streets, holding crying children.
In the city of Medan, a hospital evacuated patients, who were wheeled out on beds and in wheelchairs. The tremors were felt far away in southern India. Hundreds of office workers in the city of Bangalore left their buildings while the port of Chennai closed down because of tsunami fears.
The quakes were in roughly in the same area as the 2004 quake, which was at a depth of 18 miles (30 km) along a fault line running under the Indian Ocean, off western Indonesia and up into the Bay of Bengal.
Experts said Wednesday quakes were a "strike-slip" fault, meaning a more horizontal shift of the ground under the sea as opposed to a sudden vertical shift, and less risk of a large displacement of water triggering a tsunami.
"The nature of the sideways rupture and sideways movement is not predisposed to cause a bad tsunami, so almost certainly, the crisis has been avoided," said David Rothery, an expert at the Open University in the UK. The quakes were also felt in Sri Lanka, where office workers in the capital, Colombo, fled their offices. — Agencies
Southern shocker
Chennai: Tremors rocked several parts of south and southeast India, prompting panicked people to flock to open spaces as grim memories of the 2004 killer tsunami returned to haunt many. People rushed out of houses and high-rise office buildings in panic in Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Visakhapatnam. Operations at the Chennai Port were suspended.
Cracks in Kolkata buildings
Parts of West Bengal, including capital Kolkata, were jolted around 2.14 pm. Scared people rushed out from their homes and offices. There was chaos on roads. In several places, cracks were spotted in buildings. Metro operations were curtailed.
Back-to-back temblors
n The first quake struck at 0838 GMT and an 8.2 magnitude aftershock just over two hours later, at 1043 GMT
n The epicentre was 33 km under water off the Indonesian coast and 435 km from Banda Aceh, the epicentre of the devastating 2004 tsunami
n Indonesia said it was checking for damage and casualties but remarkably, no such reports had been received for several hours after the quakes
n The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center immediately issued tsunami warnings for the entire Indian Ocean, but later withdrew it
n The tremors were felt far and wide in southern and eastern parts of India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

HNB Garhwal University VC rejects allegations of irregularities

Dehradun, April 10
HNB Garhwal University in Uttarakhand has refuted charges of irregularities being levelled against it's Vice Chancellor even as the "Save HNB Garhwal University" agitationists have decided to meet Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna and put forward their concerns before him.

According to a release issued by the university, SK Singh, Vice Chancellor of HNB Garhwal University, has outrightly rejected allegations of irregularities levelled on him. He said university employees had themselves sought concession of 5 years as upper age limit for the university employees applying for posts of Public Relation Officer and other non-teaching posts, which was even accepted by the university's executive and he has no individual role in the decision. SK Singh further said that even in case of raising the retirement age of university's teaching faculty from 60 years to 65 years, the subject falls in the prerogative of the university's executive and does not need approval from any other authority. Singh categorically held that he was fully committed to follow the rules and regulations and would not indulge in acts of irregularity under any circumstances.
On other hand, the agitationists, who have been staging a dharna on the Srinagar Garhwal campus of the university, have repeatedly alleged large-scale irregularities in the university at the behest of incumbent Vice-Chancellor. 

More wheat, rice for state for the Char Dham Yatra

Dehradun, April 10
The Union Government has made an additional allocation of 3,000 MT of wheat and 3,000 MT of rice to Uttarakhand for the Char Dham Yatra staring on April 24.

Prof KV Thomas, Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, has directed his ministry to release the additional quantity of foodgrains to the state immediately. The allocation has been made in view of request received from the state government in this regard, according to a press release of the Press Information Bureau, Government of India.

Indira Gandhi Sewa Ratna Award to MD of Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL)

Dehradun, April 10
Managing Director, Uttarakhand Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (UJVNL), GP Patel, has been awarded the prestigious Indira Gandhi Sewa Ratna Award 2012 in New Delhi. This award is given by All India Economy Survey Award Council to those meritorious personalities from various fields who have achieved excellent progress in their respective fields. G.P. Patel received this award from Justice IM Quddussi, Justice of Chattisgarh High Court.
It is notable that after Patel took over the charge as Managing Director of UJVNL , it set new records by generating a record 5261.823 million units (MU) of energy against the annual target of 4760.50 MU, which is the highest ever of a year since the establishment of the UJVNL in financial year 2011-12.
Sensing the limitations of hydropower, he showed foresight by laying foundation stone of gas-based power plant at Kashipur in district Udham Singh Nagar of Uttarakhand. This project is a joint venture of UJVNL and GAIL (India) Ltd. Earlier, an MoU was also signed between both regarding establishment of gas-based power plant in Haridwar and Kashipur district of Uttarakhand.

Diwakar Bhatt plans to form third front

Haridwar, April 10
Former Cabinet minister Diwakar Bhatt, who led activists during the movement for a separate state of Uttarakhand in 80s and 90s, has mooted the idea of forming a third front of regional and smaller parties in the state.

Recuperating from illness, Bhatt, who unsuccessfully fought from the Deoprayag seat on the BJP ticket in the Assembly elections recently, feels that had the Uttarakhand Kranti Dal (UKD), the Bhrastachar Raksha Morcha, communist parties, the Rashtriya Krantikari Manch and the Uttarakhand Jan Morcha joined hands during the elections the political scenario would have been different in the state.
Bhatt told The Tribune that one year ago when the UKD broke into two factions -- the UKD (Democratic) under him and the UKD (Progressive) led by Trivendra Singh Pawar -- he wanted to resign but the mode and timing of taking support from the BJP-led government was not right.
It would have been better had Pawar generated a consensus among party leaders. “We had committed to supporting the BJP government in 2007 and hence it was not easy to backtrack without a substantial base,” said Bhatt at his Tarun Himalaya residence in Haridwar.
He added that he would try to regroup parties once again so that the people of the state could have a viable alternative in the next Assembly elections.
The veteran leader also expressed concern over factionalism and tussle witnessed in the Congress over Cabinet berths as this affected development works in the state.
Though Bhatt assured Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna of his full support on development and other issues concerning the state, he also gave a piece of advice to Congress leaders to not to showcase their infighting publicly.
He said he had no plan to join the BJP as this pact was done taking into consideration the political situation and wanted to unite smaller regional parties.

UT Admin to penalise mobile operators

City has over 300 illegal towers; notices already served on violators
Chandigarh, April 10
The UT Administration has now decided to impose penalties on mobile operators who had installed illegal mobile towers in the city. Earlier, the Administration had only issued notices to owners of residential and commercial buildings for violation of building bylaws but now mobile operators will face the music.
At present, there are more than 300 illegal mobile towers in the city.
A senior official of the UT Administration said they would soon issue notices to the mobile operators. Regarding the amount of penalty, he added that they would soon hold a meeting with the Estate Office officials to decide the amount.
But the official added that they were also mulling over allowing installation of mobile towers in residential areas of a few sectors where there was no commercial space available to install mobile towers. Recently, the administration had also issued directions to the architecture department to prepare a road map for the installation of mobile phone towers in the city.
Recently, the UT Estate Office had issued notices to the owners of residential and commercial buildings for violation of the building bylaws. Earlier, the Deputy Commissioner, Brijendra Singh, in his report submitted to UT Finance Secretary VK Singh had pointed out that more than 300 mobile phone towers in the city were illegal.
The UT Administration had asked for the report after receiving directions from the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it should notify its policy on mobile phone towers in the residential areas in two months.
The High Court had made it clear that it wanted these towers to be shifted out of the residential areas in a phased manner.
Sources in the Estate Office said there were 547 mobile phone towers in the city out of which around 300 were operating illegally. The Estate Office had conducted a survey in which it came to light that a majority of these towers were installed in violation of the building bylaws.

  • Official of the Estate Office said they were also mulling over allowing installation of mobile towers in residential areas of a few sectors where there was no commercial space available to install mobile towers.
  • Recently, the administration had also issued directions to the architecture department to prepare a road map for the purpose.

Monday, April 9, 2012

23 guilty for post-Godhra riots

Ode village carnage: Sentencing on April 12, prosecution seeks capital punishment for convicted
Anand, April 9
A decade after 23 persons, including 18 women and children, were burnt alive by a mob in Gujarat's Ode village in this district during the post-Godhra riots, a court here today convicted 23 accused and let off as many in a case it described as "rarest of rare".

District and Sessions Judge Poonam Singh held 23 of the 47 accused guilty. She will pronounce the quantum of sentence on April 12. One of the accused died during trial.
Twenty-three persons, including nine women and as many children of the minority community, were burnt to death in a house in Pirwali Bhagol area of Ode village by a mob of over 1,500 on March 1, 2002 following the Godhra train burning incident that had triggered communal conflagration across the state.
Special public prosecutor PN Parmar said the court considered the incident to be "rarest of the rare". He said of the 23 persons found guilty, 18 were convicted for murder and criminal conspiracy and five for attempt to murder and criminal conspiracy.
The Ode carnage case is the third of the nine cases probed by the Supreme Court-appointed SIT in which judgment has been delivered.
Earlier, a court had awarded the death sentence to 11 and life term to 20 in the Godhra train burning incident in which 58 persons, mostly kar sevaks, had been killed on February 27, 2002.
The second case was that of Sardarpura village in Mehsana district in which 31 persons were awarded life term and 42 others acquitted. Thirty-three Muslims had been burnt alive at Sardarpura in Mehsana district during the 2002 communal riots.
Riot victims and those working to secure justice for them have hailed the judgment. Teesta Setalvad of NGO Citizen for Justice and Peace, working for the riot victims, welcomed the judgment and said she was satisfied with it.
The prosecution has sought capital punishment for all those convicted for the Ode massacre, Special public prosecutor PN Parmar said. He said more than 150 witnesses were examined and over 170 documentary evidences placed before the court during the trial.
The trial in the case had commenced towards the end of 2009 and was on the verge of completion when the then judge hearing the case resigned in May 2011, citing personal reasons, following which Judge Poonam Singh was appointed and arguments heard afresh.
March 1, 2002: A mob attacks houses and business establishments of the minority community in the small village of Ode
Rioters first attack houses in the Surewalil Bhagol area, but flee when the police arrive and open fire. A youth, Nisith Patel, dies in firing
Rioters regroup, target eight minority community homes in the Pirawali Bhagol area of the village
Mob lobs petrol-filled pouches and burning rags into houses where members of the minority community are taking shelter
Houses under attack set on fire, reduced to ashes
23 persons hiding in one of the houses burnt to death. Remains of only two found
An elderly man, Akbar Khan Pathan, and his son Mohammad Khan survive. Both are key prosecution witnesses
March 2, 2002: Incident comes to light as most members of the community had fled the village. Police registers case
March 3, 2002: Mob attacks, kills Rasoolmiya, who had stayed back in the village.