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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Ekata Yatra stopped to please separatists: BJP

Jammu/Srinagar, Jan 26 (IANS) Top Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders were released Wednesday by Jammu and Kashmir government after two days' arrest that foiled the party's move to hoist the national flag in Srinagar's historic Lal Chowk on Republic Day.

A livid Arun Jaitley, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, slammed the central and state governments, accusing them of 'hijacking and abducting' party leaders to stop the 'Ekta Yatra' (integration march) in order to please the separatists in Kashmir.

Hundreds of BJP activists later hoisted the tricolour near the Madhopur bridge that separates Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab to mark the country's 62nd Republic Day.

Jaitley, along with Sushma Swaraj, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Ananth Kumar and Shanta Kumar were earlier freed from the hotel in Kathua in Punjab where they were held since Tuesday evening after their arrest.

Talking to reporters outside the hotel, Swaraj said: 'Tiranga Yatra has concluded because it was to culminate on Jan 26 - Republic Day.'

At a press conference in Jammu, Jaitley took on the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government and the Jammu and Kashmir government, accusing them of engaging in 'illegal actions' to stop the Ekta Yatra that was to have concluded in Srinagar's Lal Chowk with the hoisting of the tricolour.

'Both the central and the state governments have surrendered ideologically and psychologically to separatists,' Jaitley said.

He was also referring to Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Yasin Malik, charged with murder of four Indian Air Force officers, who had declared that his outfit would not allow the BJP to hoist the national flag at the historic Lal Chowk.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also had spoken against the BJP's plan and ordered the state machinery to do everything to stop the yatra and foil the BJP move.

Jaitley said the central government and the ministries of home and railways were guilty of 'the crime of hijacking' by diverting the trains carrying the BJP workers on their way to join the 'Ekta Yatra'.

In New Delhi, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari said that the march to Srinagar was to defy anti-India elements in Kashmir.

He denied that the BJP was trying to derive political mileage from the march.

'Some people say there is politics in hoisting the national flag at Lal Chowk. What politics was involved in hoisting the flag. This is not politics but our duty,' Gadkari told reporters after hoisting the tricolour at the party headquarters in the capital.

Jaitley, Sawraj and Ananth Kumar were detained at Jammu airport Monday and taken to Madhopur in Punjab.

They again marched to Jammu and Kashmir Tuesday with hundreds of the party workers carrying the national flags and were stopped at Lakhanpur, the gateway to the state.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah late Tuesday night ordered their release and tweeted it as a 'goodwill gesture.'

He also phoned Jaitley, urging him to take part in the Republic Day celebrations either in Jammu or in Srinagar.

Sushma Swaraj Wednesday mocked at Abdullah's invitation.

'We were given release orders at 12.40 p.m. while the official functions were over at 10 a.m. How could the chief minister expect the two leaders to attend the Republic Day function when they were in jail?' she said at the press conference.
Later Wednesday, with their yatra to Lal Chowk that began Jan 12 in Kolkata stopped midway, hundreds of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) activists hoisted the tricolour at the Madhopur bridge, near the memorial to the late Jana Sangh founder-leader Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.
Anurag Thakur, BJYM president and member of parliament, who was leading the march and was arrested along with other BJP leaders, returned to take part in the flag hoisting ceremony.
In Srinagar, about 10 BJP activists were held by police while attempting to march towards Lal Chowk to hoist the flag.

Police also rounded JKLF leader Yasin Malik, who had announced a counter-march to Lal Chowk, moderate Hurriyat Conference leaders Bilal Lone and Shahidul Islam and a dozen of their supporters from Maisuma locality on their way to the city centre.

DoT, Trai warn mobile firms on MNP scheme

January 26, 2011

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), as well as the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), today swung into action in response to growing complaints from subscribers that they were finding it difficult to switch operators under the new mobile number portability (MNP) scheme.

Consumers can retain their mobile number but change to a new operator, under MNP. It is estimated 125,000 to 150,000 subscribers have already made such a request since MNP was launched across the country last week

DoT’s Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring (TERM) Cell today sent notices to all operators, with a warning to comply or face stiff action. “Many instances of non-compliance and violations are being brought to the notice of the TERM Cell by customers. The conditions laid down by DoT and Trai regarding MNP are to be followed in letter and spirit. Any instance of violation of these may lead to penalty and other strict action as DoT may deem fit to take,” the notice said.

Trai decided to send experts to six of the top operators to check if the delays faced by consumers in switching their operators under MNP was due to technical issues or done deliberately. “We will get a clear understanding by the weekend,” said a senior Trai official.

Mandatory action
Mobile subscribers who want to avail the MNP facility have to send a message to 1900, which will generate a UPC (unique porting code) number. With this UPC, the customers have to fill in a form with the service provider they wish to move to. DoT has received many complaints from customers that operators are not generating the UPC number, a must for accessing MNP.

“Under no condition is the SMS to 1900 for UPC generation to be treated differently. It has been reported that a few telecom service providers are resorting to a regret message like ‘Sorry customer, please try after some time’, ‘Dear customer, please wait for some time’ and subsequently ‘Try to contact customer for retention’. This type of practice is not to be resorted to,” the notice said.

Some operators from where customers wished to shift, after sending the UPC, were rejecting the application, saying the UPC was not correct, though it was the same number sent to the subscriber. If a SMS is received on 1900, it is to be responded with the UPC, the department added.“Most companies that we checked have got about 50,000 to 100,000 customers who have requested for the code number in the last few days. However, about 30 per cent of them have not taken the next step of making a request for change after they get a call from their current operator,” says a senior executive of a leading telecom company.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Finally Mobile number portability a reality

Jan 20, 2011

After years of delays, mobile number portability (MNP) will finally be available all over India from January 20. Telecom Minister said, "We're very happy that we are going to launch it nationally. It's a great step forward for the consumer. It enhances his choice."

Dump your phone company. Move to a better one. But keep your present number. 700 million Indians use cell phones. With mobile number portability finally kicking, many customers, especially pre-paid ones, might abandon ship and firms might offer better service.

To shift, send an SMS from your phone to 1900. Your present company will reply with a unique porting code. Use that code while filling out a detailed form for the company you want to shift to. Within 48 hours, that company will take over all your cell services. The fees, about Rs 19.

Your cell number will be switched off for only one hour. All bills after that, are paid to your new company. You'll be stuck with them for at least 50 days before you can shift again, so choose with care.

While you can shift from a GSM service to CDMA or vice versa, you cannot shift from one state to another. If you do, roaming kicks in, just like it does right now.

Rajan Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India, COAI: You can use number portability for any post-paid as well as prepaid number. In case of a post-paid number, there shouldn't be any dues. For a prepaid number, carry forward of any balance to the new service provider is not permitted.

When you port your number, you also need to change your SIM. Apart from retaining the same number, the process is same as acquiring a new connection. MNP might be kicking off all over India now, but in Haryana it was launched on November 25 and 80000 people have already opted for it.

So will MNP be a game changer? Not that much, since lots of people now also have an option of buying a dual sim phone. But, if Haryana is any indication MNP seems to have a bright future.

Sushma Swaraj Blames Kerala Govt for the Stampade in Sabarimala

Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, who visited the Sabarimala stampede site at Pulumedu in Kerala's Idukki District on Wednesday alleged lapses on the part of State Government and criticized them for not taking any action into the incident, where 102 Sabarimala pilgrims lost their lives in a stampede on Friday night.

Swaraj, who visited the stampede site, said that the issue would be raised in the Parliament.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Swaraj also asked the stakeholders to come out with a concrete plan to avoid such mishaps.

At least 102 people were killed and 60 injured in a stampede while returning from the Sabarimala shrine when a jeep crashed into the pilgrims at Pulumedu in Kerala's Idukki district.

Most of the victims who perished were from Tamil Nadu, Andhdra Pradesh and Karnataka. They were returning home through the forest route after the Makarajyoti darshan, considered a celestial phenomenon, at the hill shrine of Lord Ayyappa.

Friday, January 14, 2011

India to grow faster than China in 2012: World Bank

January 14, 2011

The World Bank has pegged Indian economic growth to take over Chinese by 2012 on purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, but New Delhi has played down the projection by the multi-lateral agency saying the country is not in race with anyone.

In its latest report on Global Economic Prospects, the World Bank has projected Indian economy to grow by 8.7 per cent in 2012, faster than 8.4 per cent expected for China.

However, these projections are based on PPP basis, which means that purchasing power of currencies are taken into account for measuring economic growth.

As such, these projections are not the traditional way of measuring the economic growth.

Reacting to the World Bank projections, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "India is trying (to achieve high growth rate), but I am not going to compete with anybody."

He said every country is trying hard to overcome the economic crisis and reach a desired level of growth.

"Nothing wrong in it," he added. He said India wants to record double-digit growth with moderate inflation and fiscal prudent policies.

"We want to reach double-digit growth, at the same time having modest rate of inflation without indulging in fiscal profligacy, that means with prudent fiscal management," Mukherjee said.

Indian and Chinese economies are not comparable. The size of Indian economy is $1.3 trillion and Chinese economy is worth $5.5 trillion.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

2-G spectrum issue Nitin Gadkari Says It Will Cost the Govt Dearly

Dubbing the 2-G spectrum issue as the mother of all scams, BJP President Nitin Gadkari today warned that the government's "stubborn and confrontational" approach to the "legitimate" demand for a JPC probe will cost it dearly.

"If the Prime Minister is so very confident that he is not guilty, why should he be so stubborn in opposing the legitimate demand of JPC? This stubbornness is reminiscent of the pre-emergency days. BJP condemns this approach," Gadkari said in his Presidential address at the BJP National Executive meet here, the first since the 2-G scam surfaced.

Alleging that the huge loss to the exchequer due to this "mother of all scams" is almost equal to the budget outlay of some states, he warned the government that such a "stubborn and confrontational" approach will cost the UPA "extremely dear".

"It is the stubbornness that is to blame for the logjam in Parliament. Not opposition, but the government is squarely responsible for this logjam," Gadkari said, adding that the entire opposition was united on the issue and the "sooner the government accepts our demand the better for all".

Taking a dig at Congress President Sonia Gandhi, he said, "sermons, declaration of multi-point programmes and empty appeals to political functionaries who are your own appointees will make no impact."

His reference was obviously to the five-point plan of action against corruption announced by Gandhi at the recent Congress plenary in Delhi.

Seeking to make corruption as the biggest issue, he described the UPA-II government as a "kingdom of corruption".

Gadkari told the UPA leadership that what was required was a series of credible measures starting with a firm commitment to punishing the guilty.

"The rule of law is unambiguous. With prima facie evidence in hand, the law enforcing agencies must file an FIR. They have to arrest and interrogate the suspect, collect evidence and file charge sheet within a stipulated time frame. Nobody knows why this has not happened," Gadkari wondered.

The BJP President charged that the 20-month old rule of UPA-II has allowed every arena of governance to be exploited by scamsters.

Taking a dig at the Prime Minister, he said, "while looters were emptying the government coffers, Manmohan Singh was standing guard with his eyes closed and perhaps, hands tied. These scams are some kind of a planned loot of national coffers."

Incidentally, Gadkari did not say anything on allegations of corruption levelled against the BJP government in Karnataka, whose Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa was present on the occasion.

Gadkari's comments clearly indicate that the BJP might intensify its demand for a JPC probe after Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal sought to dismiss as "utterly erroneous" the CAG report, which spoke of a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore to the government due to allocation of the radiowaves.

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad reacted sharply to the Telecom Minister's statements, saying, "Sibal's unwarranted comments have sought to over-reach parliamentary process when the PAC is looking into it."

He told reporters that "it is a frontal attack on CAG, designed to save (former Telecom Minister) A Raja."

Prasad replied in the negative to questions on whether Gadkari referred in his address to actions of Yeddyurappa, which the BJP chief had only recently dubbed as "immoral but not illegal".

The Karnataka Chief Minister, who is attending the conclave, has been accused by the opposition of making out of turn land allotments to his sons.

Interestingly, there was no reference to the 'Rashtriya Ekta Yatra' from Kolkata to Srinagar by the party's youth wing, which plans to hoist the national flag at Lal Chowk on Republic Day. It has created controversy with even NDA Convenor Sharad Yadav speaking against the idea.

With the national executive meeting for the first time after the Allahabad High Court verdict on Ayodhya title suits, Gadkari said, "we are all happy over the historic ruling on Ram Janm Bhoomi.

We have already welcomed the judgement and do hope that all sections of the society will now help make a grand Ram Mandir at Ayodhya possible."

Replying to questions, Prasad denied suggestions that Ayodhya will be an issue in the coming assembly elections in Assam, which has a sizable minority population.

"We do not relate the Ram temple issue with elections," he said, when asked whether the BJP planned to give a "walkover" to the Congress in Assam by raising the temple issue.

Significantly, during the media briefing, Prasad laughed away a query as to whether Gadkari's remark that partymen should not do any such thing that will affect the image of the party was directed at Yeddyurappa.

"Let me reiterate our resolve not to spare the guilty. Our opponents can attempt to tarnish BJP, but I am afraid, that will not help them varnish their image," Gadkari said in his address while referring to transparency and accountability in governance.

Central leaders had been hinting earlier that Yeddyurappa might have to go after the panchayat elections, but there has been no indications after the polls about a possible change of guard in Karnataka where BJP fared below its expectations.

"We in the BJP are aware of the magnitude of the issue of corruption. In order to fight with corruption what is essentially required is the strong political will to overcome this crisis," Gadkari said at one point during the address.

Gadkari asked a number of questions to the government on the JPC issue.

"Why are you shying away from JPC? What are you afraid of? From Tul Mohan Rams and Nagarwalas to Warren Andersons and Ottavio Quattrochis why all those guilty have always escaped punishment?"

The written speech of Gadkari had no mention of Congress President Sonia Gandhi or Rahul.

Asked at the briefing as to what the BJP expected Sonia Gandhi to do on the issue of corruption, Prasad said, "instead of giving sermons, she should ensure that the scam-tainted are inside jail and stop protecting those" who are being accused of corruption.

He said Raja was still free while the questioning of Congress leader Suresh Kalmadi in the Commonwealth Games case has just started.

With the executive meeting coming a day after news of reported confession of Swami Aseemanand of involvement in the Samjhauta Express blast, the BJP chief made a veiled attack on Rahul Gandhi for his reported statement expressing concern over the acts of Hindu radicals.

"Can some of the UPA leaders be so callous and irresponsible so as to deal with terrorism in a crass partisan manner and basing their facts on inconclusive investigations, even while sharing assessments with foreign diplomats?" he asked without naming Rahul.

Rahul had recently courted controversy after WikiLeaks documents claimed that he described Hindu radical groups as bigger threat than terror outfits like Lashker-e-Toiba during a conversation with US envoy Timothy Roemer.

Alleging that the UPA misses no opportunity of sending a "wrong signal" on the issue of terrorism, Gadkari said when the entire nation was expecting the government to expedite the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, the UPA has set free his associate Shaukat Guru one year before completion of his jail term.

"Within the ruling party, there are elements who hobnob with the Naxals, pamper those who see India as an encroacher in Jammu and Kashmir and try to play with the sensibilities of majority community by blowing up the threat of peripheral groups to rake up the so-called Hindu terrorism," he alleged.

He demanded that the government publish the entire data pertaining to terrorist attacks since 2004 and give details of the investigations completed, cases filed and conviction made of the guilty.

2G scam:Govt rejects CAG's findings; says loss figrs erroneous

07 Jan 2011

New Delhi:Government today rejected CAG estimates of losses of Rs 1.76 lakh on account of allocation of 2G spectrum to telecom operators saying it 'had no basis and was utterly erroneous'. 'We are extremely pained at methodology adopted by CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) for arriving at 2G spectrum (allocation loss) figures... that have no basis',

Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here. The CAG estimates on losses arising from sale of 2G spectrum, the minister added, were 'utterly erroneous'. Asserting that there were actually no losses to the exchequer, Sibal said 'CAG has done injustice to itself and the Opposition is doing injustice to aam aadmi' The CAG in its 77-page report of CAG, tabled in Parliament in November last year, had said that due diligence was not followed and even the recommendations of the telecom regulator TRAI were 'not followed in spirit'

The report said the 'presumptive' loss caused to the exchequer through spectrum allocation to 122 licensees and 35 dual technology licences in 2007-08 was Rs 1,76,645 crore. It arrived at the figure on the basis of 3G auction held earlier this year in which the government mopped up over Rs 67,000 crore. The 2G scam has become a major political issue with the Opposition demanding a Joint Parliament Committee to probe the issue. The demand, however, was rejected by the government leading to disruption of almost the entire Winter Session of Parliament

Thursday, January 6, 2011

2 G Scam - Great Combination revealed

BJP gains in rural Karnataka

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in Karnataka appears to have held sway over the rural electorate by winning 12 of the 30 zilla panchayats (ZP) and 68 of the 176 taluk panchayats (TP) in the recent elections.

The Congress and the Janata Dal (Secular) could just win in just four ZPs each. Ten ZPs threw up a hung verdict with no party securing the simple majority. The BJP emerged as the single largest party in 5 of the hung ZPs, while the Congress and the JD(S) secured the highest number of seats in four and one hung ZPs respectively.

The poll outcome brought smiles on the face of Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who is facing charges of land scams and corruption. “These election results have reinforced the faith of the people in our party,” he said.

The Congress, however, said the results were a “warning” to the BJP to mend its ways. Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president G. Parameshwara said on Tuesday that the election outcome reflected the waning popularity of the ruling party. “For the voters overwhelmingly favour the ruling party in any local body elections. It has not been the case this time,” he noted.

JD(S) leader C. Narayanaswamy told The Hindu that the party performed better than the previous elections. “Though we have not won as many seats as we expected, we take consolation in the fact that we won more seats than the last elections.”

The BJP rode to power in the Davangere, Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Kodagu, Belgaum, Bagalkot, Dharwad, Gadag, Haveri and Bidar ZPs.

The Congress emerged victorious in Chamarajangar, Chickballapur, Uttara Kannada and Yadgir, while the JD(S) gained majority in Hassan, Mandya, Ramanagaram and Tumkur ZPs.

Karnataka Panchayat election results today, big gains for BJP

January 04, 2011

Bangalore: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has taken the lead in elections to the zilla and taluk panchayats in Karnataka. Chief Minister Yeddyurappa, who has been facing serious corruption allegations has managed to put his party in the lead.

The BJP has won the majority of the seats in the Shimoga Zila panchayat in the CM's constituency.

The ruling BJP is confident of doing well this time round. In the last elections the BJP had a much smaller base but this time the party feels it has the edge.

"101% we will be in number one place, JD(S) in number two place and Congress in number three place," said Yeddyurappa.

The campaigning for the polls saw the opposition targeting the BJP Government on alleged corruption in land allocations and mining, while the ruling party asserting that people would teach the former a lesson for levelling "baseless" charges and vote for it for its development programmes.

United AP with special steps for Telangana best way forward'

06 Jan 2011

New Delhi: Justice Srikrishna Committee has recommended keeping Andhra Pradesh united with Constitutional and Statutory measures for empowerment of the Telangana region 'is the best way forward' while creating a separate state can be the 'second best' option to tackle the statehood demand. These are the two options among the six given by the five-member committee headed by former Supreme Court Judge B N Srikrishna which submitted its report to the Centre last week after holding wide-ranging consultations across Andhra Pradesh since February last year. The Committee itself found that the other four options -- maintaining status quo, bifurcating the state into Seemandhra and Telangana with Hyderabad as Union Territory and the states having their own capitals, bifurcation into Rayala- Telangana and coastal Andhra regions with Hyderabad as part of Rayala-Telangana and bifurcation into Seemandhra and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad metropolis as a separate Union Territory -- made by it are not practicable.

It was also conscious of the possible opposition that may come from different quarters even to its two best options. The committee recognised that the Telangana statehood demand is an emotional issue in the region and felt that the option of maintaining status quo could give a 'fillip to the Maoist movement'. The report, eagerly awaited by the people of the state
and elsewhere, was today made public by the Home Ministry even as Minister P Chidambaram met leaders of political parties
from the state and promised them that the Government wants to find a 'just, honourable and practicable' solution that has
the widest measure of support among all stakeholders. Recommending keeping Andhra Pradesh united with Constitutional and Statutory measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region, the committee suggested creation of a statutorily-empowered Telangana Regional Council to be headed by an MLA with cabinet rank.

'The Committee considers that unity is in the best interest of all the three regions of the state as internal partitions would not be conducive to providing sustainable solutions to the issues at hand,' the two-volume 461-page report said.In this option, it is proposed to keep the state united and provide constitutional/statutory measures to address the core socio-economic concerns about development of Telangana region. 'This can be done through the establishment of a statutory and empowered Telangana Regional Council with adequate transfer of funds, functions and functionaries in keeping with the spirit of Gentlemen's Agreement of 1956.' Following are the options and explanation given by the committee: 1. Maintaining Status Quo: The committee said it is of the unanimous view that it would not be a practical approach to simply maintain the status quo in respect of the situation. 'Some intervention is definitely required and though maintaining the existing status quo is an option it is favoured the least,' the panel says.

2. Bifurcation of the state into Seemandhra and Telangana; with Hyderabad as a Union Territory and the two states developing their own capitals in due course: 'There is a definite likelihood of serious backlashes in Telangana region and on overall consideration, the Committee found this option was also not practicable.'

3. Bifurcation of the state into Rayala-Telangana and Coastal Andhra Regions with Hyderabad being an integral part of Rayala-Telangana: 'This scenario is not likely to be accepted either by the pro-Telangana or by the pro-United Andhra protagonists. While this option may have economic justification, the committee believes that this option may not offer a resolution which would be acceptable to people of all three regions,' it says.

4. Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Seemandhra and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad Metropolis as a separate Union Territory. This Union Territory will have geographical linkage and contiguity via Nalgonda district in the south-east to Guntur district in coastal Andhra and via Mahaboobnagar district in the south to Kurnool district in Rayalaseema: 'This is likely to receive stiff opposition from Telangana protagonists and it may be difficult to reach a political consensus in making this solution acceptable to all,' it says.
5. Bifurcation of the state into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and Seemandhra to have a new capital: 'The committee feels that this option has to be given consideration. The continuing demand for a separate Telangana has some merit and is not entirely justified. In case this option is exercised the apprehensions of the coastal Andhra and the Rayalaseema people and others who were settled in Hyderabad and other districts of Telangana with regard to their investments, properties, livelihood and employment would need to be adequately addressed.

'Considering all aspects, the Committee felt that while creation of separate Telangana would satisfy a large majority of the people from the region, it will also throw up several serious problems. Therefore, after taking into account of the pros and cons the committee did not think it to be most preferred, but the second best option. Separation is recommended only in case it is unavoidable and if decision can be reached amicably amongst all the three regions.'

6. Keeping the state united by simultaneously providing certain definite constitutional/statuary measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region-creation of a statutorily-empowered Telangana Regional Council: 'In this option, it is proposed to keep the state united and provide constitutional/statuary measures to address
the core socio-economic concerns about the development of the Telangana region. This can be done through the establishment of a statutorily-empowered Telangana Regional Council with adequate transfer of funds, functions and functionaries. The regional council will provide a legislative consultative mechanism for the subjects to be dealt with by the Council. 'The united Andhra option is being suggested for continuing the development momentum of the three regions and keeping in mind the national perspective. With firm political and administrative management it should be possible to convey conviction to the people that this option would be in the best interest of all and would provide satisfaction to the maximum number of the people in the state.

'It would also take care of the uncertainty over the future of Hyderabad as a bustling, educational, industrial and IT hub/destination. For management of water and irrigation resources on an equitable basis, a technical body, i.e., Water Management Board and an Irrigation Project Development Corporation in expanded role have been recommended. The above course of action should meet all the issues raised by Telangana people satisfactorily.'The committee discussed all aspects of this optionand while it acknowledges that there will be certaindifficulties in its implementation, on balance, it found itthe most workable option in the given circumstances and in the best interest of the social and economic welfare of the people of all the three regions. The core issue being one of the socio-economic development and good governance, the committee keeping the national perspective in mind, is of the considered view that this option stands out as the best way forward,' it says. PTI

Huge rush at Sabarimala, crowd control measures stepped up

05 Jan 2011

Sabarimala :The hillshrine of Sabarimala is witnessing huge rush prompting the authorities to strictly regulate the flow of devotees and vehicles after one pilgrim was killed and few others injured in a minor stampede yesterday.

A 67-year-old devotee, identified as Narayanaswamy from Manjunath village Andhra Pradesh, died in a hospital last
evening after he got shuffled around in the melee caused breaking of the rope used to block the onrush of devotees
at the base camp Pampa. As thousands continued to pour in at the base camp at Pampa,
devotees are allowed to go up only in regulated batches to avoid over-crowding atop the hill where the shrine of Lord
Ayyappa is located.

According to police sources, the movement of vehicles were being regulated from Vadasserikkara, about 50 km from Pampa,
as all modes of transport continued to arrive carrying pilgrims,mostly from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

Additional forces had been deployed to manage the crowd and vehicle flow, which are expected to increase further in the
coming days before the pilgrimage scales to its finale on the Makar Samkranthi on January 14.

'The pilgrim flow in the last three days have been quite unprecedented. The pilgrims had to wait 10 to 15 hours to
get darshan by going through the holy eighteen steps of the shrine', a temple official told PTI.

Besides police, security and disaster management forces, voluntary outfits like Akhil Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham
have been stepped in to help the pilgrims by keeping up supply of drinking water and snacks.PTI

CPI-M rejects charge of keeping mum on charges against KGB kin

06 Jan 2011

:Kerala Home Minister and senior CPI-M leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan today termed as baseless the charge that his party had been delibertely keeping silence on allegations against family members of former CJI Justice K G Balakrishnan as the party had nexus with them. 'The party has not discussed the issue. After the discussions we will spell out our stand', Balakrishnan told reporters here. The 'silence' of CPI-M over the allegations of amassing disproprtionate wealth by Balakrishnan's son-in-law P V Sreenijan and brother K G Bhaskaran was sharply criticised by eminent jurist Justice V R Krishna Iyer. Sections in the ongress also accused the CPI-M of having 'unholy nexus' with Sreenijan and that the party bridled its youth leaders from speaking on the issue.

Rejecting these charges the CPI-M leader said 'our party has nothing to do with K G Balakrishnan's family members and the
accusations against the CPI-M could be seen only as false propaganda being deliberately mounted by adversaries.' 'Is it the CPI-M that made Balakrishnan the NHRC Chairman. He was appointed by the Central Government and it was for them to take a decision on his continuance', he said. He also said the critics of the CPI-M should not forget the fact that Sreenijan was a Congressman, he added.PTI