Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nokia Dual Sim Mobile Unveiled

DELHI, INDIA - Desperate to claw back the markets share it has lost to regional competitors in the Indian market, Finnish mobile handset behemoth Nokia has launched 2 dual SIM handsets for the Indian users. The company has been losing market share steadily to the other regional companies for the last few years. Korean rivals like Samsung and LG have been giving it a run for its money. Nokia used to be the default choice of users in India even a few years back but it is no longer true. It has been late to respond to the public demand for dual SIM handsets and Samsung and Micromaxx has captured a majority of this segment with their models. The two dual SIM models introduced by Nokia are C1 and C2.Nokia is hopeful that its new dual SIM models will be able to compete well with their existing dual SIM models in the market. Mary McDowell the executive vice-president of Nokia mobile handset segment said during the release event that the models have been kept affordable for the users. However, it is also true that the company has been offering low priced models since last few months to woo the customers and gain back its market share in India.The Nokia C1 is priced at INR 1999. It has convenient features like Flashlight, FM radio and other goodies. The C2, other dual SIM mobile will be launched later in 2010, has Ovi mail and Ovi tools. It also has multimedia features. The USP of the model is that it supports external memory card up to 32 GB which is a boon for the users.

A peg or two is good for you

LONDON - Downing a peg or two a day could be good for you and give you a longer life than teetotalers, new research in the United States has found.Researchers have found that good health among older people was linked to moderate drinking. The study examined data from 1,824 adults aged between 55 and 65 years. They were all former or current drinkers over the past 20 years, the Daily Mail reported.They discovered that the heavy drinkers had a 42 percent higher risk of dying in a 20-year follow-up compared to moderate drinkers, says a University of Texas release.Amazingly, teetotalers had a 49 percent higher mortality risk, according to the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.Researchers said this was because many of those who refrained from alcohol in the study sample were former problem drinkers.They were also more likely than moderate drinkers to have health problems due to lack of exercise and smoking.Study leader Charles Holahan from the University of Texas, US, emphasised the need for common sense. One or two drinks a day may be beneficial for some, but drinking a lot more can be dangerous, he said.“Older persons drinking alcohol should remember that consuming more than two drinks a day exceeds recommended alcohol consumption guidelines,” he added.

Mumbai’s 190-kg man operated successfully, recuperating

MUMBAI - Fifty-three-year-old Nizar Ahmed, weighing 190 kg, was operated upon successfully for weight-loss surgery in a hospital two days after being moved out of his south Mumbai second floor tenement where he had stayed indoors for five years.
“The surgery lasted for nearly three hours. Later, he was taken to the Intensive Care Unit for recovery,” said Mansoor Hassan, Ahmed’s elder brother. Hassan said Ahmed gained consciousness only Tuesday morning after being operated upon Monday night at Breach Candy Hospital. “He (Ahmed) is glad that the operation was successful and that he will finally get rid of his obesity,” he said.
Doctors treating Ahmed had sought help of the fire brigade to bring him out of his second floor tenement in the congested Muslim-dominated neighbourhood in Dongri. After having started to gain weight five years back, Ahmed could not stand up even for a minute. He had also developed complications like gout, leading to severe pain in the joints. He was also suffering from hypertension but luckily not diabetes - which made the surgery a less complicated affair. The weight-loss surgery that cost Ahmed around Rs.3.5 lakh was borne by state Samajwadi Party president Abu Asim Azmi as Ahmed could not afford the cost of the surgery. During the last five years, Ahmed spent all his time sitting or lying on the bed either watching TV, praying or simply looking upwards and hoping that some angel would come and give him respite from this misery. Sanjay Borude, Ahmed’s bariatric surgeon had said the surgery would involve cutting open and sealing of nearly two-thirds of his stomach, which would reduce its intake capacity. Thereafter, gradually within a year, Ahmed would shed weight and come to a manageable 90 or 100 kg, with no possibility of further weight gain.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mario Bros ‘Greatest Video Game Ever’

LONDON - Super Mario Bros has been named the ‘Greatest Video Game Ever’.
In the game, Italian plumber Mario and brother Luigi must negotiate the Mushroom Kingdom to rescue Princess Toadstool from the clutches of evil Bowser.
The game topped a top-20 list compiled by a poll of 2,000 gamers.
More than 40 million copies have been sold since it was first released on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985.
Pac-Man, which was released in 1980, landed the second spot.
“Games which were invented years ago, like Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Super Mario and Pac Man, all appear in the top ten,” the Sun quoted John Sewell, spokesman for OnePoll, as saying.
“This shows that classic games will live on forever in the hearts of computer game fans.
“The gaming industry is getting more and more competitive, releasing more and more innovative games by the minute - but this survey proves that sometimes the most simple formats work well to keep game players hooked,” Sewell added.
The Top 20 Video Games, as voted for in the OnePoll survey:
1. Super Mario Bros.
2. Pac-Man
3. Tetris
4. The Sims
5. Sonic the Hedgehog
6. Space Invaders
7. Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas
8. Donkey Kong
9. Mario Kart 64
10. Grand Theft Auto: Vice City
11. Tomb Raider
12. Wii Sports
13. Final Fantasy
14. Gran Turismo
15. Lemmings
16. Frogger
17. Pokemon, Red, Blue and Green
18. Street Fighter II
19. Wii Play
20. Guitar Hero (ANI)

Scientists urge world to adopt rare surnames

BERLIN - Two scientists have proposed a worldwide fight to push back common surnames, suggesting in a German academic journal that the custom of always naming children after their fathers must stop.Harald Jockusch and Alexander Fuhrmann warned that rare surnames were dying out while too many Chinese were named Wang, too many English speakers were named Smith and too many Germans were named Mueller.They proposed that husbands and wives be obliged to weigh up which of their two surnames was rarest and give the rarer one to their children. The two published a mathematical model showing what would then happen if common surnames were weeded out this way.In the simplest scenario, after 50 years, the most common names might become only one fifth as common as now, they predicted.Jockusch is a retired German biology professor. Fuhrmann is an Arizona physicist. The University of Bielefeld said Monday the proposal was aired in an English-language article in the July issue of a journal about names, Beitraege zur Namenforschung.

NSCN-IM responsible for disturbing peace in Nagaland: AR

Assam Rifles has charged the NSCN-IM with violating ceasefire ground rules and said cadres of the group are solely responsible for disturbing peace in Nagaland. In a statement, the Assam Rifles said, "The faction is solely responsible for disturbing peace in the state by not observing ceasefire ground rules."It also said that the firing at a NSCN-IM camp at Namsa-Tizit in Nagaland's Mon district and the killing a self-styled 'major' and arrest of five others on Thursday were not 'preplanned'."Our personnel were on routine patrol when the cadre were noticed at a camp which was not notified," the statement said.According to the Assam Rifles, the NSCN-IM cadre fired after which its personnel retaliated.A huge cache of arms and ammunition was recovered along with administrative stores from the camp which was a gross violation of ceasefire ground rules, it said.Three AK-47 rifles, one two-inch mortar, two single barrel guns, two grenades, 649 rounds of AK-47 rifle, four motor bombs, 308 rounds of .303 rifle and 21 rounds of M16 rifle were seized from the militants.The Assam Rifles also claimed that the NSCN-IM cadre were using unparliamentary and offensive language against it.The NSCN-IM had earlier condemned the 'highhandedness' of the Assam Rifles saying, "This action of the Assam Rifles is really provocative and vitiation of the peaceful atmosphere in the area."

Should this be India’s future?

On a clear day, you can see the snowy massif of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain. Today, it is obscured by pouring rain and mist, so Saujendra Rai (29) takes us to his newly constructed kitchen, adjacent to his old, mud-coloured concrete house in the green hills of Sikkim. The utensils are neatly stacked and there’s a new maktoo (momo steamer) also.Two years ago, Rai built a separate toilet as well.Thanks to the state grants available for the roughly one million (officially) poor, Rai got R 15,000 to build his kitchen, and R 2,700 for the toilet. Since last year, wife Babita has also started earningR 1,600 a month, working on a road project under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).For a poor farmer whose only work is to grow maize and potato on his half-acre of hilltop land here in eastern Sikkim, Rai has done rather well.“Here, if you have a BPL (below poverty line) card, you don’t need to spend a single paisa out of your pocket,” said Bimal Rasaily, a government horticulture inspector in state capital Gangtok. “From a house to a cow, there’s a scheme to fulfill every need.”As a faltering UPA government — 14 months into its second term — debates recreating its agenda for inclusive growth and food security for nearly 400 million officially poor, India’s second smallest state — with 5.4 million people it makes up only 0.05 per cent of the population — is ready with a model that experts feel could be refashioned for the country beyond.By 2015, Sikkim says it will deliver all this to its one million poor people: a job, a pucca (proper) house, a bank account and health and accident insurance. Four-term Chief Minister Pawan Chamling proposes to make the state as he likes to say, India’s first “poverty free” state by 2015.By then, India’s poverty and maternal mortality rates may have worsened. But Sikkim, with its high per capita income — at R 25,257, it’s the highest in the North-East, and only slightly lower than the national average of R 25,494 — is the only state that has advanced as far on the path to inclusive growth.On July 24, Chamling, (60) — a former government contractor who took charge of the state in 1994 — described his vision to the Prime Minister and other chief ministers at a meeting of the National Development Council: a poverty free, literate, self-reliant, healthy and green state with organic farming.His idea is to give the poor a slew of subsidies and social security benefits. India already has many, but with only R 1 of every R 7 spent actually reaching the poor, the challenge is to deliver smart, efficient implementation.One national scheme that has changed many lives in Sikkim is the MGNREGA or “Negra”, in local slang. Sikkim’s poor find work for 80 days. The national average: 54 days.Farmer Zymang Bhutia, 40, explained how he got R 8,000 for working on an irrigation channel near his house in eastern Sikkim, a hefty supplement for his monthly income that he says is roughly R 2,000. Moreover, Bhutia said that for the first time in his life, villagers such as him are getting the water in their fields, and have managed to grow paddy in it.“The implementation of MGNREGA in Sikkim could be a lesson for rest of the country,” said Professor Ajay V Dandekar of the Institute of Rural Management Anand, (IRMA), Gujarat.An IRMA study concluded in July this year explains why it is working:All work is chosen, planned, budgeted and recommended by village councils.There’s a toll-free helpline for complaints and an independent ombudsman.More than 80 per cent of 54,000 households who got work are paid through accounts in banks and post offices.For one of the UPA government’s flagship programmes, the budget for MGNREGA has surged by more than 150 per cent to R 41,000 crore in 2010-11. Yet, a third of this money will be filched, mostly during cash payments made by petty officials. “We are discouraging cash payments entirely,” said Dr Sandeep Tambe, 39, Sikkim’s MGNREGA director. Tambe’s team has devised EASY, or Estimation Automation Software. The computer application really is as easy as its name implies.If a gram sabha (village council) inputs, say, the length and width of a pond, the software provides technical, and social estimates: how many cement bags, trucks, bricks and workers.“It will also help villagers monitor the supplies better ,” explained Dinchen Namdul, 24, a civil engineer and designer of the software.The IRMA study also highlights how MGNREGA has worked for women: its equal wage policy and the assurance of working close to home has taken their participation to 56 percent. The national average is 40 per cent.In a country where 122 million households have no toilets and nearly 11 million houses (out of the 138 million in rural areas) need replacement, Sikkim is also leading with its twin goals of housing and total sanitation.By 2011, the state claims it will be free of kutcha (thatched, straw, bamboo) houses, replacing them with bright new houses: red concrete with green roofs.This month, the state has also launched its unique Universal Financial Inclusion scheme: All married women get a smart card, an initial deposit ofR 1,000 and insurance cover against accident and property losses. In a country where over 500 million adults are excluded from the formal banking network, this could further empower the state’s poor.But state largesse can be a double-edged sword. Does Sikkim — and India — want a majority of people depending on the state? And funds reaching those who don’t need it?“Independent monitoring and evaluation is required,” said Professor Mahendra P Lama, vice chancellor, Sikkim University and former Chief Economic Adviser to the state government. “We also need to ask whether these subsidies are sustainable.”Other damning statistics: A steep rise in female mortality in the age-group of 29-55 years and an 80 per cent dropout rate in schools, according to a report by the Human Resource Development ministry.Animal husbandry, an important source of income for Sikkimese — only 11 per cent of the area is under agriculture — needs to be developed, according to the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development.Local activists point out to the environmental threat from 29 hydel power projects. Seven of these are planned in the Dzongu area of North Sikkim, home to 10,000-odd people of the Lepcha tribe. “We are becoming homeless in our own home,” said an angry Sherap Lepcha, 35, of the NGO Affected Citizens of Teesta. At least four projects have been stalled recently following vehement protests by groups such as Lepcha’s.“We need education and proper representation, not just a certificate that classifies us as a primitive tribe,” said Lepcha. “The state’s largesse never reaches the real poor.” For a welfare state, Sikkim still has some way to go and some big questions to answer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Landslide on NH 39 causes food scarcity in Kohima

Kohima, August 22: Fresh landslide has occurred between Mao Gate and Kohima on Saturday evening. The landslide occurred near Kigwema but the authorities are clearing it on war-footing.Meanwhile, prices of essential commodities in the Nagaland capital Kohima are sky-rocketing due to the scarcity of the goods.Though the detailed reports in this regard have not been obtained, it is said that there have been scarcity of food items and fuel in the Nagaland capital.The disruption of traffic had started since August 13 evening.The main factor for the scarcity of goods in Kohima is due to the sinking of the National Hoghway-39 near KMC dumping ground which is few kilometres from Kohima towards Dimapur.The number of goods trucks stranded on the NH-39 between Kohima and Dimapur bound for either Manipur or Kohima are increasing everyday.Some reports said that the number of loaded trucks stranded along the NH-39 has crossed one thousand mark today.Some vehicles are taking the By-Pass route but drivers of the loaded vehicles/heavy vehicles do not want to risk themselves in this alternative route since the condition is bad.Meanwhile, the Border Road Organisation (BRO) officials said that they may take atleast 10 days to mend the road as the distance of the re-alignment of the NH-39 in the ‘sinking zone’ is some 350 metres.However, if the rains continue the time to fully revert the NH-39 will be longer than slated.

Mizo CM’s RTI statement flayed

AIZAWL, Aug 23 – Aizawl-based anti-corruption watchdog People’s Right to Information and Development Implementing Society of Mizoram (PRISM) has criticised Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla for stating that there was no need to appoint a State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC).Lal Thanhawla recently had said that there was no urgent need to appoint an SCIC as the people of Mizoram did not fully utilise the Right to Information Act and appointing an SCIC would be a waste of public money.Reacting to the Chief Minister’s statement, PRISM president Vanlalruata said that the RTI Act had been well utilised in Mizoram and a number of corruption cases unearthed by the people. “PRISM alone organised social audits in nine villages and has filed a number of public interest litigations in the Gauhati High Court, all based on information acquired invoking the RTI Act,” Vanlalruata said.He alleged that full utilisation of the RTI Act could not be done because the State Government refused to implement the section 4 of the Act and was not keen to create public awareness as demanded by the section of the Act.The PRISM also flayed the Congress Government in the State for failing to constitute the State Vigilance Commission as promised in the party’s manifesto in the 2008 Assembly polls. – PTI

Kuki armed groups to deposit arms, ammo by September 20

Imphal August 22: All arms and ammunitions of the Kuki based militant outfits under Suspension of Operation (SoO) will be kept at the Armoury of designated camps or with the nominated police stations or security force camps under double lock by 20th of next month, September 20.The development to the tripartite Suspension of Operations (SoO) agreements between the Government of India, Government of Manipur and two umbrella organizations of 18 Kuki based outfits – Kuki National Organisation (KNO) and United people’s Front (UPF)-came up in talks held on August 20 in New Delhi leading to the extension of the SoO for 45 days.Separate agreements regarding the extension of the SoO which were effective from August 22, 2008 for a further period of 45 days was signed at New Delhi, said a release of the Press Information Bureau, New Delhi today.It has been agreed that all arms & ammunition shall be kept under double lock by September 20, 2010 either in the Camp Armoury or with the nominated Police stations or Security Forces camps, the release added.A decision on further extension of the SoO would be taken after a review of the progress made in this regard. Talks will commence after all the cadres shift to the designated camps and weapons be kept under double lock.The agreements on the deposit of arms and ammunitions of the 18 outfits came up after violations of ground rules of the SoO were discussed seriously.Government is examining more than 30 cases related with violation of ground rules by cadres of the 18 Kuki outfits a highly reliable official source here said.A total of 22 designated camps are to be set up in five locations as per agreement. Manipur government had earmarked Rs. 4,43,03,950 for the construction of designated camps during the year 2008-09.More than five sites of designated camps have been confirmed by a team of the Joint Monitoring Group (JMG) after conducting a survey in 2008. Construction works of some of the camps taken up by the Manipur Police Housing Corporation in consultation with the respective outfits who chose the sites have been completed and inaugurated.The designated camp for the Hmar People Convention (D) is at Vangai Ridge, a place located in Tamenglong district bordering with Churachandpur district,the designated camp at Nathanjang (Chongkhonjou) in interior Churachandpur district will be housing cadres of the Kuki National Front (P) and Zomi Defense Volunteers.The designated camp of the United Kuki Liberation Front will be constructed at Chelap in Chandel district while that of the Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) and Kuki Revolutionary Army (KRA) at Samusang area under Saikul police station in Senapati district and the camp for Kuki National Front (P) will be located at Sehjang (Gamnom) in Senapati district.Infrastructures like barracks, arms depots, kitchen cum dining halls, ration stores, commanding officers office cum residence, security towers etc., are included as per provisions of the agreements.

Former Arunachal CM Gegong Apang held for PDS scam

Former Arunachal Pradesh chief minister and veteran Congress leader Gegong Apang was on Tuesday arrested by sleuths of the Special Investigation Cell (SIC) for his alleged involvement in a Rs.1,000-crore public distribution system (PDS) scam. A government spokesperson said Apang was arrested in capital Itanagar around midday. The SIC was constituted by the state government to probe the Rs.1,000-crore PDS scam under the direct supervision of the Gauhati High Court.The probe began following a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Arunachal Citizens' Rights (ACR) chairperson Bamang Anthony and public leader Domin Loya June 13, 2004.Apang was the chief minister during the period when the scam took place. During the period it was found false and fraudulent transport subsidy bills were cleared without financial concurrence, besides inflated bills were paid for procuring items. Apang was dominating politics in Arunachal Pradesh the past 25 years -- 22 years as chief minister although he lost the assembly elections in 2009.

Nagas extend blockade for 25 more days in Manipur

The United Naga Council (UNC) on Tuesday decided to extend its economic blockade, which was to end on Tuesday after over three weeks, to 25 more days on two vital highways of Manipur, saying its demands have not been met. The blockade had began by the UNC on Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati NH-39 and Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar NH 53 on August 4 demanding, among others, lifting of Section 144 CrPC and withdrawal of state forces from some hill areas.A UNC spokesman said the decision to extend the 20-day blockade was taken at a meeting on August 21 as the government had not conceded to the demands. Official sources said the UNC's decision to extend the blockade followed the August 19 statement of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram in Lok Sabha ruling out division of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to accommodate the demand of Nagalim or Greater Nagaland.They said despite the blockade, vehicles laden with essential items and escorted by central forces have been plying along the two national highways. The August 4 blockade began after a crippling 68-day economic blockade of the NH-39 and NH-53, called by the All Naga Students Association, Manipur, had ended on June 18. It was called in protest against holding of elections to the autonomous district councils in the hills.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Unsolicited SMSes rankle users in NE

GUWAHATI, Aug 17 – Quite frequently an irritant, at times it proves to be a honey trap. Fictitious and malicious texts or SMSes choking inboxes are becoming a worrying trend in Assam and parts of the Northeast raising questions which have no ready replies.One fact is now appreciated: the cell numbers of customers have become accessible to a large number of groups or individuals. They are in a position to use the numbers in any way they wish. The confidentiality of phone numbers is lost to a certain extent.This was found out in a bitter way by KK Das, a young professional based in Guwahati, after he was assured a gift by an American firm. Believing his good luck, he sent an email to the given address and was promptly asked to state his name and residence. Soon thereafter, he was asked to deposit a certain amount as freight charge. Months after that, Das is still waiting for his promised gift.There have been other cases where people may not have lost money, but after receiving hoax text messages have given out important personal details. It was only later they would learn that they had given out private information to parties they would never know about. They will never know to what use the information would be used.Gifts and lottery wins are the most common messages received by people in Guwahati. But there have been occasions when jobs were promised to people to work in UK and EU. The modus operandi was to ask for a certain payment, which some people made. As complaints about these deceptive text messages grew, the British High Commission had to issue a notice warning people about the scam that was taking place.Ranjinee Phukan, officer-in-charge of British Information Centre, Guwahati has had encounters with people who came in with SMS which assured them jobs in England. “The people who came in were young, some with good qualification, asking how to go about securing a job in England. Most of them belonged to the 25-30 age group,” she mentioned.In other cases, some customers have complained about the content of some text messages, which appear in bad taste. A few months back some BSNL subscribers actually received SMS messages which offered them female companions.On other occasions, some telemarketing agencies have been making unsolicited calls to customers and referred to their names in the conversations making it clear that the names along with the phone numbers were in the possession of third parties.When contacted, senior employees of a few cell network providers revealed their knowledge of the problems, but agreed that there was little that could be done to track down the servers from where the texts were sent, many of which were based beyond India’s borders. “We would like to block the offenders, but till now that is beyond the technology at our disposal,” said a manager from a major cell network.Another personnel said that some complaints about unwanted SMS messages have come in, to which customers have been asked to use the ‘do not disturb’ facility. Once that is activated then the cell number is logged on to a server that filters many unwanted calls or texts. However, some customers have complained that even after doing that, there is no respite from offending calls and text messages.

Chandel has maximum electrified villages

Imphal, August 17: Even though the state is experiencing heavy shortfall in power supply, the rural electrification programmes have covered 79.32 percent of the total number of villages located in both hill and valley districts as the programme is making rapid progress.Interestingly, the programmes are extensively covering villages in the hill districts. Five hill districts have recorded the largest number of electrified villages more than that of the valley districts.Chandel, Ukhrul, Senapati and Tamenglong districts were in the top four positions having the largest number of electrified villages, according to the latest data of electrified villages in the state available with the Hueiyen Lanpao.The official data indicates that the total number of villages upto January 2009 was 2524. Out of these villages, the Electricity Department has electrified 2002 villages till March of this current year, 2010. The data shows that 79.32% of the total villages in Manipur had been electrified till date.With 95.71% of the total villages electrified till date, Chandel district is in the top position in electrification of villages under rural electrification programmes. In this district, out of a total of 350 villages, 335 villages have been electrified as of date.Ukhrul district with 92.92 % of the total villages electrified closely follows Chandel district. Out of 198 villages in Ukhrul district, 184 villages, that is 92.92%, had been electrified. Tamenglong district with 83.63% (out of 171 villages, 143 electrified) is the third district having electrified villages.Senapati district, having 503 electrified villages out of total 612 villages, is in the fourth position with 82.19% of electrified villages. With 399 villages (73.15 %) out of total 553 villages electrified, Churachandpur district is in the fifth position.Even though Imphal East district with 75.58% of electrified villages is in the sixth position. Out of 258 villages in Imphal East district, 195 have been electrified.Bishnupur district has the lowest number of electrified villages with only 43 out of 74 villages representing only 58.11% so far electrified. Imphal West district also has only 113 electrified villages representing 61.41% out of 184 villages. In Thoubal district, 65.41% of electrified villages, that is 87 out of 133 villages electrified, as per the latest data prepared by the state Electricity Department.In Manipur, rural electrification programmes like Prime Minister’s Package under Non-lapsable Central Pool of Resources (NLCPR), Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (RGGVY), Restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reform Programme (R-APDRP), State Rural Electrification, etc., are being implemented with the target of achieving cent percent village electrification.Manipur Renewal Energy Development Agency (MANIREDA), under the Manipur Science and Technology Department, is supporting electrification programmes in the remote areas with non-conventional energy sources like solar, wind, biomass, etc.In this year till now, 16 virgin villages have been electrified, the source maintained.The village electrification progammes are being taken up in the state amid the heavy shortfall in power supply. The demand of power has always surpassed the supply, disclosed the source adding that against the actual 170 Megawatt of power required in the peak hour, only 110 MW are available.Another factor of the shortfall in power supply is due to the transmission and distribution system. The system is very weak. As for instance, the original sub-transmission system of Greater Imphal was designed for 8 MW of power only while the present connected load of the same area is about 80 MW. It has not yet been augmented adequately. The transmission and distribution loss is therefore very high, the source pointed outThe energy injected to the system at present is 538.319 Mega Unit and 430.63 at 11 KV system while the energy available for sale is 467.979 MU. But only 285.03 MU is sold.The state purchased 489.594 MU of energy from the Central Sector Power Agencies at a total cost of Rs 107.64 crores (inclusive of arrears, etc.) and 44.786 MU of energy was received from the Loktak Project free of cost.But the outstanding due payable to the Central Sector Agencies for purchase of power as on March 31, 2010 was Rs 19.5848 crore including Rs 17.2632 crore with the Power Grid Corporation of India Ltd. (PGCIL) and Rs 2.3216 crore with Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB).

Chopper crash in Nagaland; 3 army officials killed; Dead officers are Col PK Pal, Major Nikhil Rana, Major Rakesh Sharma

In a tragic incident, three army officials died in a chopper crash in Nagaland on Wednesday morning. The three officials were on routine sortie to Leimakong of Manipur from 3 Corps headquarters at Rangapahar near Dimapur. The army has set up a court of inquiry into the crash. Three Army officials belonged to the Rangapahar-based 3 Corps Headquarters of the Indian Army were killed in a chopper crash Wednesday morning. The Cheetah chopper, on training sortie crashed while it was flying over Dzukou valley near Kohima in Nagaland. The chopper was on its way from Rangapahar to Leimakong. According to army sources, the chopper lost its contact at around 8.25 AM with its base. The youths from Viswema village first reported a large sound near the area. Immediately, rescue teams from the army’s Zakhama came were rushed. The joint operation of the army, police and local people led to the recovery of the wreckage and bodies of the ill-fated army officials. The three officers have been identified as Col PK Pal, Major Nikhil Rana and Major Rakesh Sharma. The bodies of the three officials were brought to Kohima for post mortem. The mortal remains of the three officials will be given a farewell at the Rangapahar Head Quarter on Thursday. The crash occurred apparently due to bad weather as incessant rain and fog led to very poor visibility in the area. According to the villagers, the chopper was flying very low and it is suspected that it hit the hill before it crashed. The army has already instituted a court of inquiry to find out the cause of the crash. Earlier, in a similar incident that took place in the late nineties, an Army Chopper carrying a Major General and his subordinates on its way to Laiemakong in Manipur also went missing while it was crossing over to Manipur and crashed near Porba village under Phek district of Nagaland. In another incident a Pawanhans chopper on its regular flight also crashed near Kohima in the early part of the nineties.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

People defy I-Day boycott call in northeast

Thousands of people across the restive northeast on Sunday defied a shutdown called by separatists and attended India's Independence Day celebrations while the chief ministers urged the rebel groups to come for talks. "We are happy indeed to see people rejecting calls by some militant groups to boycott the celebrations and coming out in large numbers to attend the national day function," acting Assam Chief Minister Bhumidhar Barman said soon after unfurling the national flag at a celebration here. Barman is officiating as chief minister in the absence of Tarun Gogoi, who is recuperating in Mumbai after three heart surgeries earlier this month. "Despite attempts by militants to stage violent attacks, our security forces managed to foil their designs with the active support and cooperation of the people," Barman said. Five guerrilla groups in India's northeast called a 17-hour general strike Sunday to boycott the Independence Day celebrations.The militant groups include the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), fighting for a separate homeland comprising parts of Assam and West Bengal, the Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF)-- an umbrella group of several Manipuri rebel groups, and the Tripura People's Democratic Front (TPDF).These groups are active in Assam, Manipur and Tripura. As part of their boycott call Aug 15, the militant groups called for a general strike from 1.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Sunday."There is an open defiance to the boycott call in Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Manipur. People participated in large numbers in the celebrations," an official said. Militant groups in the northeast have for years boycotted national events to protest New Delhi's rule over the region. "Violence is not an answer to any of the problems. We once again appeal to groups like ULFA and the NDFB to come for peace talks," Barman said in his Independence Day speech in Guwahati. The chief ministers of Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura also appealed to rebel groups to come for peace talks with the government. "Our doors for talks with militant groups are open. Problems can be resolved through negotiations and not through the barrel of the gun," Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh said. There are some 30 rebel groups operating in the region, with demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination.

Appeal to militant organisations

   Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh on Sunday appealed to militant organisations to lay down arms and join the mainstream by participating in the development programmes.Speaking on the occasion of the 64th Independence Day at the first Manipur Rifles parade ground amid tight security in view of the boycott called by insurgent organisations, Singh said violence will not provide any solution and asked militants to come to the negotiation table for discussing their problems.Officials said there was heavy deployment of state and central forces at many vulnerable places in view of the boycott call given by the Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF).


Patrolling was intensified at different parts of the capital town to prevent any untoward incident.

Reports from the districts said the day was celebrated at district headquarters amid heavy deployment of forces.

Highlights of PM's Independence Day address

The following are the highlights of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Independence Day address to the nation on Sunday:

* The central government will do everything possible for rehabilitation of the affected people in Ladakh.

* We are building a new India in which every citizen would have a stake.

* The rate of our economic growth has been better than most other countries in the world. This shows the strength of our economy.

* To ensure equal partnership of women in our progress, we have taken the initiative for reservation for women in parliament and in state legislatures.

* The growth rate of our agriculture has increased substantially in the last few years.

* Our government wants a food safety net in which no citizen of ours would go hungry.

* I would certainly like to say that we are making every possible effort to tackle inflation. I am also confident that we will succeed in these efforts.

* The subsidy on petroleum products has been increasing every year. It had become necessary, therefore, to increase the prices of petroleum products.

* We want the fruits of development to reach the common man. * Our government is committed to maintain communal peace and harmony.

* We will soon bring a bill in parliament for constitution of two separate councils in higher education and health respectively so that reforms in these two areas can be accelerated.

* Naxalism is a serious challenge to our internal security. We will deal firmly with those who resort to violence.

* It is also our endeavour that our adivasi brothers and sisters join the mainstream of development.

* We have a special responsibility towards the states of the northeast. I would like to convey to all political parties and groups of the northeast that disputes in the name of state or tribe can only harm all of us.

* In Jammu and Kashmir, we are ready to talk to every person or group which abjures violence. Kashmir is an integral part of India.

* As far as Pakistan is concerned, we expect from them that they would not let their territory be used for acts of terrorism against India.

* The Commonwealth Games will start in Delhi after about one and a half months. I am convinced that all our countrymen will treat the Games as a national festival and will leave no stone unturned to make them a success.

Friday, August 13, 2010

‘Dinner for Schmucks’ - a notch above the original (IANS Movie Review)

Film: “Dinner for Schmucks”; Director: Jay Roach; Cast: Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Zach Galifianakis, Jemaine Clement; Rating: *** and 1/2Remakes are never easy. There is high expectation and the need to stick to the original idea and yet go beyond it. “Dinner For Schmucks” not only manages to rise to the humour and pace of the original, it manages to do one better.To get a promotion in his firm, high-flying investment advisor Tim (Paul Rudd) has to play the games of his peers i.e. find and invite an absolute idiot for dinner where he would be made fun of. His girlfriend despises the idea but when Barry (Steve Carell) - an absolute idiot - lands up before him, he sees this as destiny and decides to take him to dinner.What he does not know is that the simple, honest, childlike man with a hobby of making ‘mouseterpieces’ will remind him of what is truly valuable in life, simple old school honesty and friendship.Though many loyal fans of the 1998 French original “Le Dinner de Cons” may not agree, “Dinner for Schmucks” is actually an improvement on the original. While the original was mostly a ‘fall-on-banana-peel-humour’ film, without much semblance of an idea, ‘Dinner…’ has a soul.The film states that it is not always the one who seems like an idiot who is actually the idiot and that often the joke is on the one laughing at others.“Dinner…” make this point emotionally, albeit a little louder and with many twists to the original film, thus enabling it the title of a ‘remake’ instead of a ‘copy’ which the Bollywood film “Bheja Fry”, ‘inspired’ by the same French original, was.It paints the world of the rich and famous as a fragile one which the injection of a little honesty from a ’schmuck’ shatters.Even the minor characters - like the world-famous painter who in his own way is an idiot, but whom the world celebrates as an ‘artist’, makes the same point.Steve Carrel plays the role of the lovable schmuck with a timing that leaves the audience in splits. The timing and comic sense of choosy director Jay Roach who has earlier given us loveable comedies as “Meet The Parents” and “Meet The Fockers”, is equally good. The sub plots are handled well.“Dinner…” makes comments on a society that is quick to judge but dimwitted enough not to know what is truly admirable. The ones running after things that they can easily do without, are the real schmucks.Though comparison with the original would not be entirely fair, even if you do that, “Dinner…” scores, for rarely does a remake takes up the analogy of the original, and build it so beautifully.

Blackberry seeks fresh appointment with Home Ministry

New Delhi, Aug.13 (ANI): Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has reportedly sough a fresh appointment with the government, which has been asking the smartphone vendor to provide access to email and messenger data or face ban.RIM Vice President has reportedly sought another meeting, even though sources in the government have said that no time has been allotted yet.Meanwhile, RIM has said it would allow Indian security agencies only to do legal monitoring of data of its subscribers."The only time it allows carriers to access the data sent via BlackBerry devices is in the case of national security situations, and even then, only as governed by the country''s judicial oversight and rules of law," the Canada-based Research In Motion (RIM) said in a statement yesterday.India has threatened to shut down Blackberry e-mail and instant messaging services by August 31, unless RIM granted security agencies the technology to decrypt Blackberry communications, citing national security concerns.Although some experts have opined that RIM''s decision to only allow access to its data when ordered to do so by a judge might be problematic in certain countries where the judiciary is less than impartial, the company said that it maintains a "consistent global standard for lawful access requirements that does not include special deals for specific countries"."Although RIM cannot disclose confidential regulatory discussions that take place with any government, RIM assures its customers that it genuinely tries to be as cooperative as possible with governments in the spirit of supporting legal and national security requirements, while also preserving the lawful needs of citizens and corporations," RIM said.Any technical capabilities that RIM would give to a carrier that would allow for the legal monitoring of BlackBerry messages would have to be "technology and vendor neutral," the company said, an indication that RIM is not willing to allow foreign governments to access data sent using BlackBerrys that security agencies in those countries wouldn''t already be able to monitor if it were sent from smartphones made by competing manufacturers.India''s ultimatum was issued hours after senior officials from government, intelligence and state-run telecom operators met to discuss how to gain access to BlackBerry content."If a technical solution is not provided by 31st August, 2010, the Government will review the position and take steps to block these two services from the network," a government spokesperson had said.India wants access in a readable format to encrypted BlackBerry communication, on grounds it could be used by militants. There are an estimated one million BlackBerry subscribers in the country. (ANI)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Meghalaya militants to rock I-Day

This Independence Day, a militant outfit in the Northeast will sing along with "colonial New Delhi". Since it was formed in 1995, the A'chik National Volunteer Council (ANVC) had been rocking August 15 - January 26 too - with subversive operations to make a separatist statement. In a first for any extremist group in the region, it has decided to organise a rock concert to celebrate India's 63rd I-Day. The ANVC seeks self-rule for the Garo tribe dominating the western half of Meghalaya. The outfit's decision to organise 'Rock for Peace' follows a call by another Meghalaya outfit - Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council - to boycott I-Day celebrations across the State. The United Liberation Front of Asom, Revolutionary People's Front (Manipur) and other outfits have also threatened action against those to side with "colonial India" on August 15. "We will reach out through music to the people to promote peace, which this region needs," said ANVC spokesperson Torik J Marak. Several rockers and hip-hoppers in Meghalaya have been invited to participate in the concert in western Meghalaya's Tura town. The outfit also intends to give stage space to talented rebel singers with a gun-to-guitar session. Marak said since ANVC was working for the freedom of the Garos, it made no sense to curb their rights by enforcing bandh on August 15. "Political issues can be solved through peaceful dialogue. For music loving people here, concerts can be a useful tool for public mobilisation," he added. ANVC was banned in November 2000 following a series of violent attacks. It signed a ceasefire agreement with New Delhi on 23 July 2004, but like other Northeast militant groups on truce mode, it had all these years been celebrating August 14 as its Independence Day.

No proof of China supporting Maoists: Chidambaram

The government does not have any evidence of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) getting monetary or other support from any international agency or military organization including China. This was informed by Home Minister P. Chidambaram in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. Amidst allegations of the Maoists rebels getting China’s support, the Government on Wednesday said it has no evidence of China lending support to Maoists. He said the government also did not have any information on Maoists receiving any support from anti-national forces. Chidambaram, however, said the government was keeping a watch and would take action with the help of friendly countries if such reports are confirmed. He said Maoists are generating funds internally through extortion and by looting banks. They are also smuggling arms through borders along Bangladesh and Myanmar. To a supplementary that Maoists carry out money laundering and even Interpol and audit firm KPMG have given estimates that it has reached large proportions, Chidambaram said those figures were exaggerated. The home minister said the Maoists get weapons smuggled through the Bangladesh and Myanmar borders. He also said that the government will look into the matter and will take action against those found guilty. The Home Minister also said there is a mechanism to monitor use of money under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 1976. He informed the House that the Act is proposed to be replaced by a new one which will incorporate provisions for greater transparency and accountability. The regulatory mechanism would also get further strengthened. The minister said government has taken action in 100 cases where the Act was violated. There have been allegations that the Maoists are getting help from China and some other countries.

PM’s autonomy remark sparks off debate

The Prime Minister’s autonomy proposal to Jammu and Kashmir has not gone well among both the opposition parties and the organizations in the strife-torn state. While the BJP slammed the Prime Minister for his comment, the Hurriyat too has rejected the Prime Minister’s peace formula. Slamming Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Kashmir peace formula in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday, the Bharatiya Janata Party said autonomy for the state will not be tolerated because it would mean a reversal of Kashmir's integration with India and sought an explanation. Reacting to the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's Jammu and Kashmir's autonomy formula, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday said all political parties must first discuss the proposal for autonomy thoroughly. The principal Opposition party in Parliament targeted the Prime Minister to explain thoroughly the meaning of autonomy and termed the comment as unfortunate. Meanwhile, there have been mixed reactions to the Prime Minister's peace appeal for Kashmir where 52 people have been killed in violence in the last eight weeks. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister said that the Centre is ready to consider the demand for autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir if there were unanimity among political parties on the issue. He also emphasised on the need to kickstart political dialogue. He also condoled the death of many young men due to violence over the past few weeks. He also appealed to the Valley's youth to renounce violence for education and help give peace a chance. On an optimistic note, the PM also announced the formation of a six-panel committee to look at generation of more jobs in the state.

5 killed, 25 injured in Nagaland bus mishap

In a tragic incident, 5 persons were killed on the spot and 24 others were injured when a bus under the Nagaland state transport rolled down at Chetheba in Phek district early Wednesday. Five of the critically injured persons were airlifted to Kohima and Dimapur for better treatment. At least five passengers were killed and 15 others injured early Wednesday when their bus turned turtle and fell down a deep gorge near Chetheba in Nagaland's Phek district. The five persons died on the spot. The NST bus was coming from Zunehboto to Dimapur and met with the accident when negotiating a sharp turn at about 2.30 am. The injured has been admitted to Chetheba Government hospital. The ill-fated bus bearing registration number NL11-1247 started its journey at 5 PM on Tuesday. The bus had 29 passengers and 2 drivers. The dead included two women. As the mishap occurred during the night, therefore, no immediate help could be provided. But as soon as the dawn broke, local people, rescue teams from the district administration and local NGOs provide all help to the injured passengers. Nagaland Parliamentary secretary P Bako Phom, who is in charge of the transport department rushed to the spot immediately and monitored the rescue operations. Other two parliamentary secretaries Dr CK Nihose and Chopisuh Sazo also went there. Later, five critically injured passengers were airlifted to kohima and Dimapur respectively. Those airlifted to Dimapur included 3 women. Meanwhile, the Nagaland state Transport has ordered an inquiry into how the mishap occurred. Though the state government has not announced any ex-gratia so far, he administration has given Rs 15,000 to the kin of the deceased for performing the last rites.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jorhat Medical College welcomes first batch

JORHAT, Aug 10 – “Establishment of an educational institute has always been an event of national importance. And the functioning of the Jorhat Medical College is one of the remarkable occasions that took place in the national scenario of Assam,” said Himanta Bishwa Sarma, State Minister of Health and Family Welfare, at a function organised to welcome the first batch of students of Jorhat Medical College at Shri Shri Pitambar Deva Goswami auditoriam, Jorhat District Library here today.“We are aiming at producing about 1000 MBBS degree holders in Assam every year in forthcoming years”, he said, adding, “It will reverse the present equation of demand and supply of doctors in Assam”. He further said that if the number of doctors multiplied on a large scale within a short span of time, the doctors would have no option but to go to the rural areas to serve.Sarma also revealed that the students passing out of the Jorhat Medical Institute after completing their three-years course had been offering tremendous service in the rural areas of Assam. The popularity of those former students in those areas is quite enviable, he said. Discussing their achievements he said that earlier the death rate of people due to malaria in the State was about 1000 per year. But after these physicians went to the rural areas, hardly 50 persons died of malaria this year. He also declared that the students of the second batch of the Jorhat Medical Institute will receive appointment on August 18 this year.Talking about the upgradation of the Jorhat Medical College and Hospital, the Health Minister said that the process of transplantation of pacemaker would be introduced before December 31, 2010. An MRI machine would be installed in JMC within October 2. A new CT-scan machine would be brought to the institute as soon as possible.“A 100-bed hospital will be established in the biggest river island shortly”, he said. “This is going to be a joint venture of NRHM and Vivekananda Kendra”.The students of the JMC took oath from Dr Umesh Sharma, Vice-Chancellor of Shrimanta Shankardev University of Health Sciences.Sarma said in his speech that from now onwards the four medical colleges in the State would come under the fold of this university. Significantly, this was also the first batch to enrol under Shrimanta Shankardev University of Health Sciences.Earlier, the welcome speech was delivered by Dr Dhrubajyoti Bora, Principal, JMC. Jorhat Deputy Commissioner RC Jain and Jorhat MLA Rana Goswami also spoke at the function. Dyushanta Madhab Sharma, District Information and Public Relations Officer moderated the programme.Jaychandra Goswami, Commissioner of Health, Devajit Hazarika, Director of Medical Education, Rupjyoti Kurmi, MLA, Mariani LAC, Nabin Chandra Burhagohain, former MP and many other dignitaries were present at the function.

Broad day light shoot-out in Guwahati; Coca cola employee shot dead, Rs 12 lakh looted

In a broad daylight robbery, one person was killed and Rs 12 lakhs were looted from near the Punjab National Bank at Ganeshguri this morning. The deceased, Keshab Phukan, was an employee of a cola distributor and he was attacked when he was on his way to deposit the money in the bank. No arrest has been made so far. Making mockery of the futile claims by the government of securing the lives and properties of Guwahati, one person was shot dead and a huge amount of money was looted from him by armed miscreants barely a few hundred metres away from the police check point at Ganeshguri. The incident occurred near the Punjab National Bank on the RG Baruah road at around 10.30 AM. The deceased, identified as Keshab Phukan was an employee of Swastik Enterprise, a cola distributing company. He was on his way to the bank to deposit an amount of Rs 12 lakh when he was attacked by some miscreants. According to the police, three motor cycle-borne miscreants intercepted Phukan and another person accompanying him near the bank. On seeing the miscreants, the other person fled leaving Phukan alone. The miscreants then fired upon Phukan injuring him seriously and looted the entire amount concealed in the tool box of the motor bike. Phukan was rushed to the nearby International Hospital where he was declared brought dead. The top police officials rushed to the spot immediately and investigation is on. The police are unwilling to say whether it was a work of extortionists or criminals till the investigations are completed. From the nature of the case, they also suspect that the miscreants had meticulously planned the attack. The SSP also declined to comment on the involvement of any militant group in the attack. However, from the empty cartridges recovered from the spot, police are sure that two types of weapons were used in the attack. They also do not ruled out the possibility of the involvement of any outside criminals in the attack. But from the nature of the case, they did not find the involvement of any contract killers in the incident. The miscreants fled from the scene soon after committing the crime. However, how they managed to escape despite various checking points in the nearby areas of the spot is a big question. The incident once again showed the lawlessness prevailing in capital city Guwahati. It is to be mentioned that incidents of murders and robberies have increased in Guwahati manifold in the recent times.

Call to boycott I-Day celebrations in northeast

Security forces were put on maximum alert across the northeast as five guerrilla groups on Tuesday called a 17-hour general strike to boycott Independence Day celebrations on Sunday. “We call upon the people of our region to boycott and prevent the celebration of India's Independence Day as a mark of solidarity against Indian colonial occupation and military repression,” a rebel statement by the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) said.The militant groups that called for a boycott of the Independence Day celebrations include the ULFA, the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), fighting for a separate homeland comprising parts of Assam and West Bengal, the Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF), an umbrella group of several Manipuri rebel groups, and the Tripura People's Democratic Front (TPDF).These groups are active in Assam, Manipur and Tripura. As part of the boycott call Aug 15, the militant groups have called for a general strike from 1.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Sunday.Militant groups in the northeast have for years boycotted national events to protest New Delhi's rule over the region.Security forces have been put on maximum alert across the region to thwart possible rebel strikes, officials said.

Monday, August 9, 2010

FCI sends fresh supply to Manipur

Even as the economic blockade launched by the United Naga Council continues on National Highway 39, at least 60 trucks loaded with rice and sugar left for Imphal from depot of the Food Corporation of India at Dimapur. This is the only second time that a large consignment of essential commodities has been supplied in the past nearly four months from Dimapur to Imphal. Earlier, 14 trucks could reach Imphal after the 60 odd days of economic blockade was lifted. Talking to NETV, a top FCI official said that 14 trucks reached Manipur earlier and on Sunday, 60 more trucks with rice and sugar left for Imphal. He said that the FCI has no problems in transporting essential commodities to Manipur but truckers have decided not to ply through NH-39 after the economic blockade was imposed by the Naga organizations. He said that security escorts are being provided to trucks from Dimapur to Imphal. He said due to blockade, they were not able to lift the goods and transfer to Imphal, but they have no problems of storage as FCI godown are allowed to a maximum of 150%. On a query about reduction of racks, he agreed that they have reduced the number of racks at present, but the allocation of 8000 MT required for Nagaland is always available. When asked whether there was food scarcity in the Northeastern region, the FCI official said that there was no question of food scarcity in the region, but the FCI is not able to push the stocks to the respective states. He said more than 7000 MT is transported through Railways and because of truckers decision not to carry goods on old rates; they are reluctant to transport goods from the FCI. He further said that Tripura has more than 12000 MT of rice stock while stocks are also sufficient in South Assam. After a decade, Railways have been in a position to position 22 wagons at Jiribam in Manipur, where there is a 2500 MT capacity FCI depot. When asked whether there is any problem of storage of commodities in Manipur, Gogoi said earlier infrastructure was not adequate, but once the system sets in, there would be no problem. He said their strategy is to keep the godown full. He further said that NH-53 is an important route for transport of goods, but road conditions are not at par with the National Highways.

Indian Navy, Coast Guard making frantic efforts as Mumbai oil slick spreads

umbai, Aug 9 (ANI): The Indian Navy and Coast Guard are making frantic efforts to contain the oil leak following the collision of two cargo ships off the Mumbai coast, which has entered its third day today, and is spreading fast and thick."Six ships and a helicopter with anti pollution disposal spray systems have been put on the job to contain the oil spill," said a Coast Guard official."Fishing associations have been also requested not to carry out any fishing activities till the oil spill is contained," he added.It has been reported that traffic at the harbour has been partially suspended as a precaution following the fall of around 200 oil containers from the MSC Chitra, an outbound merchant vessel from Navi Mumbai, after a collision with another vessel, the MV Khalijia-III on Saturday."MSC Chitra has tilted 80 degrees and the total oil spill is nearly 50 tonnes. So far, 300 containers carrying oil have tumbled into the water," said Arun Singh, Commandant (Operations), Coast Guard.There are reports that a high-level meeting has been called to assess the situation and discuss the steps that should be taken to bring the situation under control.Officials of Maharashtra Government Environment Department, National Disaster Response Force, Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, Shipping Department, Mumbai Port Trust and other concerned agencies are expected to attend the meeting.The Directorate General of Shipping has initiated an investigation into the incident.Meanwhile, Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan expressing concern over the issue said all efforts are being made to contain the leak."This is a serious issue. We have already filed cases against the captains of the two ships, which are from abroad. Today, I am going to have an aerial look at the accident site. We are trying to contain the leak as far as possible," he added.Mumbai Port Trust chairman Rahul Asthana, however, said the spill was not major, but admitted that the position of the MSC Chitra was ''dangerous''. (ANI)

Dinakaran sworn in as Chief Justice of Sikkim

Justice Paul Daniel Dinakaran, facing impeachment proceedings in the Rajya Sabha, was on Monday sworn in as the Chief Justice of the Sikkim High Court after his transfer to the Himalayan state following allegations of corruption. Justice Dinakaran was sworn in by Sikkim Governor Balmiki Prasad Singh at the Ashirwad Bhavan in the Raj Bhavan complex.Chief Minister Pawan Chamling, cabinet ministers and top officials were present at the function.Justice Dinakaran had been directed to assume charge on or before August 13 following a decision by President Pratibha Patil after consultation with Chief Justice of India SH Kapadia.The 60-year-old Justice Dinakaran had been recommended for elevation to the Supreme Court by its Collegium in August, 2009.The government returned the recommendation to the Collegium in December, 2009 after several top jurists objected to his name citing allegations of corruption and land grabbing.In January, opposition parties had moved an impeachment motion against Justice Dinakaran in the Rajya Sabha.Allegations listed in the impeachment motion against the judge include possessing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income, unlawfully securing five housing board plots in the name of his wife and two daughters and entering into benami transactions.The charges against him also include acquiring and possessing agricultural holdings beyond the ceiling limit. Justice Dinakaran has denied the allegations.In March this year, the Supreme Court Collegium had asked Justice Dinakaran to proceed on leave, but he did not do so. The Collegium then recommended his transfer to the Government.

Naga groups refuse to meet govt team

Leaders of the United Naga Council (UNC) and the All Naga Students Association (ANSAM) did not turn up for talks with a joint state and central government team on Saturday. The ministerial team comprising Information Minister T.N. Haokip, Sports Minister N. Biren and Tribal Development Minister D.D. Thaisii had visited Senapati district headquarters in Manipur to hold talks with the Naga groups."The state and central team expressed regret that the opportunity for a free dialogue was not made use of by the UNC," State Chief Secretary D.S. Poonia said.The joint team unanimously resolved to issue an appeal to the UNC to call off the economic blockade in the larger interest of all communities in the state."The state and Central governments are always open to a dialogue and the UNC is welcome to meet state government representatives," Poonia said.The UNC had presented a four-point charter to the central government, which included the issues of suppression of their rights by the state government, the withdrawal of Section 144 from Naga-inhabited areas and the issue of killing of Naga student during the protests.Disappointed with the central government's failure to address their demands, the UNC imposed a 20-day economic blockade since Wednesday.

HNLC calls for Meghalaya shut down on Aug 15

The banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) on Saturday called for a Meghalaya shutdown on Independence Day. HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw, in a statement, called for night curfew on August 12 and 13 between 10 pm and 5 am. Following the night curfew, the outfit has called a 36-hour bandh from 6 pm of August 14 to 6 am of August 16."Should anyone be found to violate the organisation's announcement, we will not be held responsible," Nongtraw asserted.Essential services have been kept outside the purview of the bandh.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Two BSF troopers killed by terrorists in Tripura

In the first major terror strike in Tripura this year, at least two Border Security Force (BSF) troopers were killed on Friday in a bomb blast triggered by insurgents near the border with Bangladesh, police said. "A powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was exploded when BSF jawans were patrolling on foot along the India-Bangladesh border killing two para-military personnel on the spot," police spokesman Nepal Das told reporters.The tribal guerrillas belonging to the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) also fired on the BSF personnel immediately after the blast at Ratia in northern Tripura, 170 km north of Tripura capital Agartala.Das said: "The two riflemen - Arup Das (31) and Brajendri Lal (34) - died instantly while the other BSF troopers retaliated with gunfire."Senior police and BSF officials rushed with reinforcements to the spot and launched a combing operation to nab the extremists.The banned NLFT along with another outlawed outfit, All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), has been fighting for an independent tribal homeland in Tripura and operates out of Bangladesh.This was the first militant attack this year in Tripura, bordering Bangladesh.The last terror strike had taken place Nov 9 last year in which eight tribal villagers, including four women, were killed and another woman injured by NLFT rebels.The NLFT and the ATTF along with other terrorist outfits of the northeast for the past many years have been boycotting national days, Republic Day and Independence day, and observe bandhs and hoist black flags in their respective areas of domination.

Assam allows forest officials to use firearms

The Assam government has authorised the use of firearms by forest staff to ensure better protection of its forests and wildlife, an official said on Friday. "The order also provides immunity to forest officials from prosecution without prior sanction in case of firing incidents," VK Bisnoi, principal chief conservator of forests (general), said on phone.He said: "Forest officials in the past needed a licence to use firearms. Now they don't need one and are at par with the police. They will be able to use firearms like SLR rifles and other weapons." He added that all forest officers from front-line staff to the senior-most members of the department can use firearms.However, a magisterial enquiry will probe the firing cases and criminal proceedings can be initiated against erring officials if the use of firearms is proven "unnecessary, unwarranted and excessive", the order released by the governor's office July 14 said."We have been waiting for this order for a long time. When we approached Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, they were very supportive and agreed on the need for this order," the official said.He said: "We are currently checking if the police has spare weapons that we can take. It will depend on the availability of funds for buying new weapons."The NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) said that the measure will help tackle mounting threats to forests and wildlife in protected areas.The under-equipped front-line staff have been in a disadvantage position when fighting organised poaching gangs, it said.WTI coordinator Rathin Barman said: "It will give a big boost to their morale, as forest officials will now have the same powers as the police."

Naga militant groups merge

Two Naga rebel groups have merged to “rewrite” history and Nagaland’s political equation with New Delhi. The Khaplang faction of National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) and the Non-Accordist faction of Naga National Council (NNC) declared the merger of their two ‘governments’ at Vihokhu village, 20 km east of here on Thursday. The NNC led by the legendary A.Z Phizo had declared independence of Nagaland on 14 January 1947 before fighting a long battle with Indian security forces. It signed the Shillong Accord in 1975, but the truce bred resentment and several factions. One group formed the NNC (Non-Accordist) while the other formed the NSCN in 1980. Eight years later, the NSCN split into the Khaplang and Isak-Muivah (IM) faction. Fratricidal battles have marked Naga insurgency since. Infighting did not end even after the NSCN-IM declared ceasefire with New Delhi in July 1997 and NSCN-K in January 2001. Of the two, only NSCN-IM has held peace talks with the Centre. “This is a historic day, and we have taken a step toward unification of all Naga tribes and political entities,” said NSCN-K leader Kughalu Mulatonu at a ‘Thanksgiving Service’ to mark the merger. “Today, two governments have become one.” According to NNC leader Zhopra Vero, the merger move began in June laster year after a covenant of reconciliation was inked. “We will now be working on the modalities of renaming the new government and its military wing,” he said. The merger was also a “reminder” to NSCN-IM general secretary Thuingaleng Muivah about where he stands in Nagaland’s political scenario. “There is no role for him in Nagaland,” said Mulatonu, indicating NSCN-IM was a “terror group” that New Delhi was talking to.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Paramedical institute in Nagaland soon

NEW DELHI, Aug 5 – The North Eastern Council (NEC) has cleared a proposal to establish a paramedical institution in the PPP mode in Nagaland.A review meeting of NEC, chaired by Union Mines and DoNER Minister Bijoy Krishna Handique, cleared the project here recently.The proposed institution that would impart paramedical education is likely to be established in the Regional Referral Hospital Campus in Nagaland.The MoU between NEC and the Government of Nagaland regarding the institute is scheduled to be signed on September 15.Sources in the Ministry of DoNER said the NEC has approached Hospital Services Consultancy Corporation Limited under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to do a gap analysis of three aspects – including manpower, referral services and health infrastructure in the north-eastern region.The meeting also decided to sponsor students of Down Town Hospital in Guwahati, which has started its health education facilities recently.Sources said Handique also reviewed the status of the action plans in various sectors of ‘Vision 2020’ for the region. The action plans for the inland waterways and telecommunications sectors are ready for implementation. The action plans for other sectors like railways, tourism, civil aviation, border trade and power transmission are also in the pipeline, sources added.The NEC has also commissioned a master plan on circuit-based tourism by Tata Consultancy Services. This study is supported by Union Ministry of Tourism. NEC is also funding a study commissioned by the Director General of Civil Aviation for a comprehensive study and road map for civil aviation in region.A study on the ‘Border Trade by Research and Information System for Developing Countries’ has also been commissioned. In the power sector, NEC and Power Grid Corporation of India Limited have jointly funded the preparation of DPRs for strengthening of transmission, sub-transmission and distribution systems in NER.

Goods train arrives at Jiribam railway station after a decade

Imphal, August 05: After around 10 years, a goods train arrived at Jiribam railhead this evening as the Central government started taking initiative to deal with the artificial scarcity of food grains in the state due to uncertainty on the national highways.Meanwhile, over 60 freight trucks crossed Mao gate today, on the second day of the 20-day economic blockade of UNC, which commenced on Wednesday, with tight security throughout the stretch of the NH-39 from Mao.Informing that the first goods train arrived at Jiribam carrying 36 MT of essential commodities after a gap of around 10 years, Transporters’ and Drivers’ Council (TDC) said that the goods train arrived there as the Centre as well as the State government realized the stand of the TDC not to ply the NH 39 unless authorities make the NH 53 an accessible and all season road.Briefing reporters at the TDC office at MG Avenue here, its president, H Ranjit reiterated that the apex body of all tranporters’ associations was compelled to take the decision not to ply the Imphal-Dimapur section of NH 39 due to the excesses meted out by anti-social elements and extortion activities of Naga rebel outfits. There is no change in the decision taken by the body till today, he clarified.Acknowledging the decision of the TDC, the state and the Central governments have taken up the step to procure essential commodities by train upto Jiribam, Ranjit claimed adding that they have been pressing the authorities to allow lifting of goods of FCI from Jiribam.The arrival of 36 MT capacity cargo train today at Jiribam railway station is in response to the TDC’s strong pressure to the State and the Central governments, Ranjit said and claimed that it has shown that the TDC’s stand has started yielding positive results.The freight train will arrive at Jiribam railway station from Silchar via Rampur of Assam two times a week, and if essential commodities start arriving regularly, there will be space problems in the FCI godowns at Jiribam, he said stressing the need of construction of more godowns of FCI at Jiribam.In the meantime, official reports said that a total of 60 loaded trucks including nine oil tankers and 15 mini trucks have crossed Mao gate today for Imphal along with security personnel of CRPF while another 127 empty trucks including 90 oil tankers headed towards Dimapur.Apart from escorting the freight trucks all the way from Dimapur to Imphal on the NH-39, personnel of the CRPF, BSF and IRB are conducting round the clock patrolling, the official added.On the other hand, even though around 500 loaded trucks with security escort had left Jiribam on NH-53 for Imphal, only 20 trucks arrived at Nungba, the midway of Imphal-Jiribam section of the NH-53 till today. The trucks left Jiribam with escorts provided by 2nd MR personnel yesterday morning.Twenty trucks arrived at Nungba were also stopped by the police there waiting for arrival of other behind them as well as considering the possible attack by protestors. Besides the economic blockade of UNC, a student body in Tamenglong district is also imposing chakka bandh on NH-53 to register decry on the government decision to take out the highway maintenance works from BRTF and handover to PWD.

'Saying I'm HIV+ is tough; saying I'm gay is tougher'

Hyderabad: It is a Sunday morning. Outside Hyderabad, at a Rajasthani-style resort named Dhola-ri-dhani, close to 500 men have gathered. The younger among them seem to be in their 20s, the seniors in their 60s. They speak softly, but warmly to each other. Many of them know each other through previous secret meetings but if they were to meet outside, they would not acknowledge that. It would be as though they have never met before. But here they are at peace in a gathering where they can be themselves.The technical term used to describe them is MSM: Men Who Have Sex with Men. The group gathered here has bisexuals, homosexuals, and transgendered individuals. There are cross-dressers too, conspicuous with their elaborate hair-dos and bright outfits and what appear to be deliberately feminine mannerisms.The meeting has been organized by the Andhra Pradesh AIDS Control Society and local NGOs who want to build a greater support system for the 60,000 men in Andhra Pradesh who have sex with other men. There is a sense of urgency. HIV is shooting up in the community - from 9 to 11% in the last two years.Vivek tested positive for HIV in 2003. His wife knows that. What he hasn't told her is that he contracted the infection when he lived in Mumbai as a young man. To supplement his income as a receptionist, he worked as a paid sex worker. Since his teens, Vivek knew that he was sexually attracted to men. But the fear of rejection by his family and society, he says, nudged him into marrying a cousin He has a 12-year-old daughter now. Vivek says it was humiliating and debilitating to tell his family that he is HIV positive; but telling them about his sexual preference is impossible.That is the startling consensus here - that the stigma of being gay is more domineering and substantial than that of being HIV positive. And this is what worries health workers. That while society is, however gradually, being trained to overcome its prejudice against HIV and AIDS, there is no comparable progress in how it perceives or treats homosexuality. ``In India, it is still a crime," says Vivek.More than a year ago, a landmark judgement saw the Delhi High Court decriminalizing homosexuality under Section 377. That verdict has been challenged in the Supreme Court, whose ruling is awaited. The government, however, has not appealed against the High Court's decision. Chances are, experts say, that the ruling will not be over-turned.But the gap between legal acceptance and everyday life is expansive and isolating. Nayeem, now in his 30s, came out to his father 10 years ago. It was traumatising for both father and son. After six daughters, his father responded, he wanted his only son to be a "proper man." Nayeem has held his ground, refusing to marry. But his sexual preference remains a secret. "With HIV status, people may taunt you a couple of times. Then they accept. But it is not like that with homosexuality. They humiliate you everywhere, call you a hijra," he says.The six -hour-long meeting encourages men gathered here to swap stories and understand that they need to access medical extension services offered by the government and NGOs. And, also, more importantly, help others who find it very difficult to come out and seek guidance. To learn how they can lead a life of their choice and still protect themselves from HIV. Considerable time is spent explaining the need for regular tests. The gathering is familiarised with the exclusive drop-in centre for MSMs, the only one of its kind possibly in the country. Health workers explain that they are lobbying for MSM-specific condoms, with more lubricants, to soon be made available in the market.At 5 pm, Vivek is ready to leave. He will tell his wife that he spent the day at his office.

Landslide blocks Manali-Chandigarh highway causing huge traffic snarl

Manali, Aug 5 (ANI): Thousands of tourists heading towards Manali, Himachal Pradeshare stuck in a major traffic snarl due to a landslide on the Manali-Chandigarh highway at Pandoh.Thousands of vehicles were stuck in the snarl that extended from both sides of the site of the landslide, 50 km from Kullu.The landslide occurred early in the morning at around 2 a.m. on Thursday. There were no casualties."The traffic is stuck from both the sides. The road was opened for a while in between, but after two hours the road was blocked. Both sides, around 5,000-6,000 vehicles are there, and 2 a.m., it was raining continuously, and suddenly there was a landslide due to which road was blocked, and the work is in progress," said Sharif Mohamad, Station House Officer, Mandi.They said they are expecting help from the government, as there are no amenities available to them."We are waiting here for so long since yesterday, we didn't eat anything. We went for Manali at five o' clock (a.m.), and since like 7.30 hours we are standing here, we don't have food and even we don't have water, strong rains, darkness, no one can help us, road is blocked, we can't go backwards even, we can't go back to Manali, and we can't go forward to Dharamsala, and it is so frustrating. The girls with me are so frustrated, terrified and it is really exhausting," said Roni Gilbon, a tourist from Israel.The repair work on the road is in progress but passengers have not been informed how long the procedure would take.The Chandigarh-Manali highway is a crucial link to the Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul and Spiti districts and to Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. (ANI)

Manipur forms team to tackle Naga issue

The Secular Progressive Front government in Manipur has decided to send a ministerial team to meet Naga leaders to end the blockade that began on Wednesday. Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh finalised the team on Wednesday. It comprises Information Minister T.N. Haokip, Sports Minister N. Biren and Tribal Development Minister D.D. Thaisii.“The ministerial team is planning to visit Senapati district headquarters for the meeting on August 7,” a state government official said.But the blockade organisers, the United Naga Council (UNC) of Manipur and the All Naga Students Association, are not yet ready to welcome the team.“Since the Nagas have severed political ties with the Manipur government, the intervention of the government of India for an alternative arrangement is sought by the Nagas of Manipur,” said the UNC in a press release on Thursday.The release said, “Therefore, we will not welcome the Manipur government and its representatives into Naga areas.”The Naga groups resumed the economic blockade in protest against the Centre’s alleged inaction on their ultimatum to Prime Minister on July 27.

Naga council begins Manipur blockade

The United Naga Council of Manipur has resumed the economic blockade on Manipur on Wednesday for 20 days, despite the central and state governments' appeal to call it off in public interest. The Centre said in New Delhi that it had urged the group not to block supply of essential commodities to the state.Home Minister P Chidambaram said in the Rajya Sabha: "Manipur chief minister recently called a meeting of all the groups, but the UNC did not attend the meeting."On the first day of the blockade, no untoward incident was reported on the state's lifelines — the Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati highway and the Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar highway."We've deployed eight CRPF companies along the Senapati-to-Mao sector (a 50-km-stretch) of National Highway 39," Senapati SP Nishit Ujjwal said.He said, "Another CRPF team, escorting 48 empty oil tankers, left the state to ferry fuel from outside."The Nagaland police on the Nagaland-Manipur border also confirmed the movement of the tankers, while more than 200 goods-laden trucks were on their way to Imphal.Manipur witnessed the end of a crippling 68-day-long blockade of the Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati highway and Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar highway, called by the All-Naga Students Association, Manipur, on June 18.The UNC announced the resumption of blockade in protest against the Centre's alleged inaction on their ultimatum to PM Manmohan Singh on July 27.The demand included institution of a judicial enquiry into the May 6 firing at Mao Gate on the Manipur-Nagaland border, killing two Naga students, demilitarisation of Naga areas, removal of the "wanted" tags on Naga leaders and dissolution of the autonomous district councils.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Manipur: Another economic blockade from tomorrow

Barely out of one economic blockade, militancy-mauled Manipur has landed in another. The United Naga Council (UNC), a frontal organization of Manipur-based Naga tribes, has ignored Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh's plea to go ahead with its 20-day economic blockade from 6 am on Wednesday. The blockade designed to choke Manipur's lifelines – national highways 39 and 53 – follows Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's "indifference" to an ultimatum the UNC had submitted on July 27. The frontier northeastern State is yet to get over the impact of the 69-day blockade another Naga organization – All Naga Students Association of Manipur – had ‘imposed' from April 11 against the holding of elections to "dummy" autonomous tribal councils. "Blockades on highways can never be a solution to any problem," said Chief Minister Singh."We appeal to UNC to call off the blockade in public interest." Chief Secretary DS Poonia said the blockade was uncalled for since the government "is open to dialogue and willing to provide a forum for a healthy exchange of views to address grievances of all stakeholders".Steps, he added, were being taken to ensure uninterrupted supply of essentials. According to UNC general secretary A Ashohrii, unresponsive governments in New Delhi and Imphal forced his organization to take the highway blockade decision."Our demands are not inconsiderate, and ours is a democratic protest," he said. The UNC's demands include judicial probe into the May 6 firing at Mao Gate (Manipur-Nagaland border) that killed two Naga students, "demilitarization" of Naga-inhabited areas of Manipur and declaration of the tribal council polls as null and void. Both NH 39 and NH 53, connecting Imphal to the rest of the country, pass through Naga territory. NH 39 is the better and shorter of the two routes, but it passes through Nagaland before entering Manipur. In Manipur, NH 39 pierces a 60 km stretch of Naga territory while NH 53 snakes through a longer stretch. For the Manipur government, NH 53 is less troublesome. But it is in a pathetic shape, landslide-prone and has several temporary bridges that cannot withstand the weight of a single goods-laden truck. Manipur truckers have continued to avoid NH 39 citing extortion by Naga organizations, but traffic via the "unpredictable" NH 53 has been erratic.Consequently, Manipur's 2.5 million people are still reeling under scarcity of food grains and fuel.

Naga group threatens fresh blockade, invited for talks

The central government on Tuesday invited Naga rebels for talks and urged them not to press the economic blockade against Manipur that the United Naga Council has threatened to enforce for 20 days from Wednesday. "The centre has urged the United Naga Council not to resort to economic blockade of Manipur and participate in the next round of talks. The appeal is in view of the hardship that would be caused to the common people," a home ministry statement said. The appeal was made after a press statement by the United Naga Council threatening to resume the economic blockade of the Imphal-Dimapur-Guwahati national highway (NH 39) and the Imphal-Jiribam-Silchar national highway (NH 53). The home ministry statement said a round-table meeting under the chairmanship of Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh was organised Tuesday to discuss matters relating to the autonomous district councils in Manipur.The next round of talks would be convened shortly, the statement said. If the highway blockade is enforced, Manipur will be heading for another round of scarcity of essential goods from Wednesday. The Naga council said the blockade would begin from 6 a.m. if the government-imposed restrictions were not lifted immediately from some hill areas. A crippling 68-day economic blockade of the highways, called by the All-Naga Students Association, was lifted June 18.

Congress MLA beats up Manipur government official

A Congress MLA beat up a Manipur government official for refusing to hand over some equipment to electrify parts of his Assembly constituency, resulting in protest by employees of the electricity department. The police said Congress MLA K Meghachandra thrashed the superintending engineer of the electricity department, S Joy Kumar, on Monday when he refused to part with any equipment without permission of the chief engineer who was away at the time.The employees of the department lodged a strong protest with power minister Phungzathang Tonsing who in turn lodged a complaint with Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh asking for the MLA to tender an apology.They also held a sit-in protest on Tuesday demanding legal action against the legislator.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Bru refugees head count completed

AIZAWL, – There are total 27,261 Bru refugees from Mizoram in six relief camps in North Tripura district as per a head count completed today, reports PTIThe head count exercise was undertaken as per the instruction of the Mizoram Government, which is regarded as the first step in the effort to repatriate all Bru refugees this year following instructions of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram that it be completed by October end.Mizoram Bru Displaced People’s Forum (MBDPF), which undertook the exercise said the relief camps were located at Kanchanpur sub-division in North Tripura district and the refugees were classified into two groups – those who migrated en masse in 1997 and those in 2009.Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, who visited Aizawl on May 25 asked the Bru leaders to ensure that all refugees were repatriated to Mizoram and said he would visit Mizoram again to oversee the repatriation process.Our Correspondent adds: The MBDPF, apex body of the Reang refugees, has sought investigation at appropriate level over the distribution of inflammatory leaflets involving its leaders.In a letter addressed to Superintendent of Police (SP), North Tripura district on Tuesday, A Sawinbunga, general secretary of MBDPF informed that some leaflets containing malicious campaign against the MBDPF were found in several places in Kanchanpur subdivision recently.The leaflets written in local dialect read that Elvish Chorkhy, R Laldawngliana and A Sawibunga – all MBDPF leaders – are heading the Bru National Army, an outfit and they are working for the community to target Mizo people in near future.The distribution of such leaflets has triggered tension among Bru and Mizo communities in Kanchanpur subdivision.A team of MBDPF has already met Officer in Charge (OC), Kanchanpur subdivision and handed over some leaflets to him. A letter has been sent to the SP urging him to conduct a probe into the matter and nab the people responsible for the cowardly act.In the letter, it also mentioned that the move is aimed to destabilise the existing mutual understanding between Mizos and Reangs (Bru) in the subdivision where more than 30,000 refugees are sheltered due to ethnic strife in neighbouring Mizoram.

Over 30 MR quarters gutted

Imphal, August 02: A major fire broke out in the Type-I family-line quarters of 2nd Manipur Rifles at Kabow Leikai in Imphal East today, in which over 30 residential quarters had been completely gutted and properties worth over a crore rupees had been reduced to ashes.Among the properties destroyed in the inferno were dozens of barrels containing illegally stored petrol and diesel.Properties worth around Rs one crore belonging to the families living in the quarters located in a row and five vehicles parked near the quarters inside the Battalion headquarters of the 2nd MR were reduced to ashes in the blaze that broke out around 7 am today.The fire is believed to have erupted from one of the quarters where fuel was stored.One havildar, Salam Ajit sustained injury in the fire. He has been admitted to JNIMS hospital. He was later referred to Shija Hospital. No other casualty has been reported.Five fire tenders and riot control water cannon from Imphal police station, Varun were pressed into service, and it took the firemen and police personnel around three hours to douse the raging flames, said police.Fire tenders from Thoubal and Mayang Imphal fire stations also rushed to the spot and assisted the fire fighters of Imphal fire service station in extinguishing the fire. They succeeded in extinguishing the fire at about 10 am.The effort of the firemen to put the fire under control was hampered when at least three gas cylinders in the quarters exploded making the job of the fire-fighters still more difficult. Besides, the fire spread quickly and became more intense with the fuel stored in many of the quarters burning.Petrol and diesel were stored in most of the quarters as reported by the residents of neighbourhood.When the raging inferno was at its extreme peak and the firemen were battling to put out the fire, a number of barrels filled with petrol and diesel were rolled out from almost all the quarters to save from the spreading fire.Five vehicles including one Gypsy, a Santro car and three two-wheelers were also completely burnt.The Gypsy (MN1A-5464) belonged to the injured Havildar, Ajit, while the Santro car (MN01-W/4547) belonged to Babukhan Kabui. The two-wheelers were a Bajaj Pulser (MN05-0131) and an NV Scooter.The belongings of most of the quarters including household items, luxury items, food items were also reduced to ashes apart from petrol and diesel hoarded by two havildars Aji and Yaima. Many containers with petrol and diesel were found in the two gutted quarters.Cash amounting to around Rs 60 lakh belonging to the two havildars and another amount of Rs 70 lakh belonging to another MR personnel were also burnt.Reports said, the fire started from the quarter of Ajit, who was doing a brisk business of petrol and diesel. The fire could not be put out despite efforts of the neighbours to do so.There had been reports that the 2nd MR quarters have become a black market hub of petrol and diesel.In the meantime, relief aids were provided by the personnel of 2nd MR to the families of the personnel affected by the blaze. The families were given Rs 1000 each, one litre of edible oil, two blankets, mosquito nets and three kg of dal each.JCOs, NCOs and residents of the surrounding areas of the affected family-line also donated Rs 35,000. The commandant of the 2nd MR and other officials expressed gratefulness for the help being extended towards the suffering families.

Charges Framed in Naga Girl’s Murder Case

Nine months after the murder of 19-year-old Manipuri girl Ramchamphy Hongray, the court has framed the charges for murder and for tampering the evidence of offence against Pushpam Kumar Singh who strangulated and burnt the girl’s body at her home in Munirka in South Delhi. On 24 October 2009, Ramchanphy Hongray (19) was attacked by Pushpam Kumar Sinha (29), who used to reside in the second floor of the same building — house number A-80. The youth was pursuing his PhD in Wave Mechanics from IIT, Delhi. The reasons being as told by the accused Sinha that he lived next door to Hongray and she had been rejecting his advances over the past few days. On the fateful afternoon, when she was alone at home, he entered the house and assaulted her. As she resisted, he allegedly strangled her and then set her body on fire in the kitchen to remove evidence. The framing of charges paves the way for initiation of trial in this case. The matter is put up for hearing on 3rd, 8th, 9th, 10th, 29th, 30th of November and 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th of December 2010 in the court of D.K. Sharma, Additional Session Judge, Patiala House Court. “I hope that the accused will be punished and the compensation we are seeking will be given to us at the earliest” said elder sister of Hongray.

India cannot be slum-free in 5 yrs: Officials

New Delhi, Aug 3: A year after the government made the grand claim to make the India slum-free, officials say, "making India slum-free in the next five years is an unrealistic goal."Housing and urban poverty alleviation ministry officials said a committee formed to look into population of slum dwellers has put their numbers sizeably higher than estimated earlier."The 2001 census had estimated the slum dwellers to be 23 percent of the population of 640 towns surveyed but latest estimates show their number to be about 29 percent of the urban population," an official said.In Jun 4, 2009, while addressing the joint session of Parliament, President Pratibha Patil had announced that the government planned to make India slum-free in five years through a new scheme, Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY),A year has passed since the announcement and officials said the task of ridding cities of slums is complex and huge to be achieved in five years."The aspiration is to do it in the shortest possible time but it is unlikely to be done in five years," said an official."The aim is not only to make the country slum free in a time-bound manner but also to prevent future growth of slums by providing basic services such as sewerage, water, street lights, education and health services," said D S Negi, Director, National Building Organisation and Officer on Special Duty, RAY.India is home to 61.8 million slum dwellers living mostly amidst inhuman conditions and according to the report of National Sample Survey Office, around 57 percent of slums come up on public land, owned mostly by local bodies and state government, 24 percent along drains and around 12 percent along railway tracks.

‘Kaun Banega Crorepati 4′ goes on air Oct 11

NEW DELHI - The fourth season of television game show “Kaun Banega Crorepati” (KBC) is set to go on air on megastar and host Amitabh Bachchan’s birthday Oct 11.The actor wrote on microblogging site Twitter: “A few clarifications on ‘KBC’. Questions to first round of ‘entry’ to show start Aug 2nd. Broadcast starts Oct 11!”The fourth season of KBC will be aired on Sony TV.Based on British show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”, “KBC” created history when it was first launched on Star Plus in 2000 with Amitabh as the host.He returned with the second season in 2005, after which superstar Shah Rukh Khan took over the baton in 2007.

Monday, August 2, 2010

'Shortage of over 14,000 officers in defence services'

New Delhi, Aug 2 (PTI) The three defence services are facing a shortage of 14,244 officers and the Coast Guard was short of 679 officers and over 2,500 personnel below officer rank, the Lok Sabha was informed today."The shortage of officers is around 11,500 in the Army, 1,507 in Navy and 1,237 in the Air Force," Defence Minister A K Antony said in reply to a query.He added that the shortage of officers was "partly attributable to accretions from time to time, tough selection procedures, difficult service conditions coupled with perceived high degree of risk involved in recruitment and training.

NACO for condom machines in CWG venues

New Delhi, Aug 2 (PTI) With the Commonwealth Games expected to bring in a flood of guests to the country, the National AIDS Control Organisation is gearing up to meet the challenge of HIV/AIDS by putting in place condom vending machines in all the CWG offices and venues.The vending machines would be put up at all the venues and the guests would be free to either buy them or avail of free samples which will be given at particular places, NACO Director General K Chandramaouli said at a function here."We are in talks with the state (Delhi) government and other civic authorities to rope in manpower to put up the condom vending machines," Chandramouli said.He also announced the NACO's expansion of its Condom Social Marketing Programme (CSMP).

350 students detained for organising Friendship Day party

Pune, Aug 2 (PTI) About 350 students of the Symbiosis Institute were detained by police for allegedly organising a "friendship day" party without "proper permission" at a farm house in nearby Theur, police said here today.Some of the students, including women, had consumed alcohol at the party which was held last night, they said, adding the detained students are being subjected to a medical test to determine alcohol level in blood under provisions of Bombay Prohibition Act.When contacted, Dr Vidya Yeravadekar, director of the Institute told PTI that the students had sought permission of hostel authorities for a "late out" but had failed to return within the time limit prescribed by the institute authorities.It was not a "rave" party at which narcotic drugs are consumed, police said.According to Yeravadekar, the girls detained at the farm house, were released by police.