Ocean research scientists of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) would get an opportunity to work together with Bangladesh Oceanographic Research Institute (BORI) in areas where work has not been started in that country’s Exclusive Economic Zone(EEZ), said Director of NIO Sunil Kumar Singh here on Monday.He was addressing presspersons in the presence of a visiting delegation from Bangladesh led by Ashok Kumar Biswas, Director General, (BORI). The delegation was on a two-day visit to CSIR-National Institute of Oceanography, Dona Paula.Mr. Singh said that the visit was in connection with the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR), in Dhaka, towards a mutual co-operation between both the countries.The delegation visited CSIR-NIO to chalk out programme and plan towards training the manpower from Bangladesh for oceanographic research. “BORI is a new institute established three months back. They are going to start their research activity very soon. India has committed to help CHOGAM countries, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) countries and all Indian ocean countries,” said Mr. Singh.“We are going to help the new institute in all the aspects. Scientists from BORI will be visiting NIO on short and long-term duration to have training in oceanographic research and to have understanding of the subject. Similarly, NIO scientists will be visiting BORI to impart training in various fields of oceanography. It will not be limited to training, but we will be doing joint oceanographic research,” he said.“Bangladesh has got support since 1971 from Indian Government and have been getting full support from India since then. We feel that without India we will not be developed,’’ said Mr. Biswas.The delegation will also visit National Institute of Ocean Technology in Chennai.
The Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are likely to conclude the seat-sharing talks for the Lok Sabha election on Sunday. Senior leaders said a consensus had been reached on 40 seats and a final meeting would take place at the residence of Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil later in the evening.“We are hoping to resolve the issue by tomorrow or at the earliest and are also talking with other splinter groups to join the grand alliance,” said former Maharashtra Finance Minister and senior NCP leader Jayant Patil. Sources said NCP chief Sharad Pawar and Congress president Rahul Gandhi had asked their State units to resolve disagreements over the remaining seats of Ahmednagar, Pune, Ratnagiri Sindhudurg, Nandurbar, Yavatmal, Aurangabad, Raver and Kolhapur. The NCP on Saturday held a party meeting to resolve issues regarding seat-sharing and candidate list. The party discussed demands from the Congress for the Ahmednagar seat, where Mr. Vikhe Patil’s son is keen to contest. The Congress has additionally expressed interest in the Pune and the Raver seats while the NCP is keen on the remaining eight seats, party leaders said.The NCP likely to field prominent public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, who had helped State prosecute suspects in the 1993 Bombay bombings, and most notably 2008 Mumbai attacks, party sources said. “He is a bright lawyer and is capable to work in politics and so if he joins it will be good,” NCP leader Chhagan Bhujbal said reacting to the development. The two parties had parted ways in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls but have decided to join hands against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Several rounds of talks have already taken place but no official announcement on the alliance has been made. Sources said the two are likely to contest an equal number of seats out of the 48 in the State. A grand alliance will be formed by including other splinter groups, said party leaders.
Four personnel of a residential higher secondary institution, including a lecturer and three hostel staff, were arrested in Odisha’s Berhampur on charges of torture of students. According to Santosini Oram, Inspector in-charge of the Berhampur Sadar police station, the misdeeds of the arrested persons came to light on Saturday. As part of an investigation into a case related to disappearance of a plus 2 student of the same institution, a police team had reached its hostel. According to police sources, the student went missing from the hostel on September 26. The institution is located in the Bhabinipur area of Berhampur and around 200 students reside in its hostel..Deep wounds During interrogation of hostel inmates, four students complained that they had been ruthlessly beaten up by a lecturer and three staff of the hostel. The students also had deep wounds. The lecturer and the hostel staff had resorted to physical torture of the students alleging that they had information about their missing classmate.Later, parents of one of the injured students filed an FIR that led to arrest of the lecturer and the three hostel staff of the institution.
Cement. This is the word that is being whispered fearfully in the corridors of power today. After A.R. Antulay of Maharashtra went down in a maze of cement bags and writ petitions, the plague shifted south and last month.Gundu Rao of Karnataka became the latest chief minister to defend himself,Cement. This is the word that is being whispered fearfully in the corridors of power today. After A.R. Antulay of Maharashtra went down in a maze of cement bags and writ petitions, the plague shifted south and last month.Gundu Rao of Karnataka became the latest chief minister to defend himself against allegations that he had distributed the precious and controversial commodity to big builders for what one opposition leader called “extraneous considerations”.”If anybody proves any quid pro quo I will resign immediately. There is no diversion and I have used my discretion to allot the cement. What is wrong with that?”R. Gundu RaoThe media had led the attack on Antulay; in Gundu Rao’s case, it was the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), headed by Janata Party MLA S.R. Bommai, that indicted him for “highly improper and injudicious” allotment of cement.In a hard-hitting 4,500-word report, the PAC scored a major political victory when it succeeded in sullying the image of the chief minister, who has never been involved in such sordid tangles since 1980 – unlike some of his cabinet colleagues, who have yet to be cleared of financial and administrative lapses.The very fact that the burly Gundu Rao was the target caused the political fireworks to be brighter and noisier than when former industry minister C.M. Ibrahim and the dreaded Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka F.M. Khan faced the heat of corruption charges.The PAC report earned respectability because nine of the committee’s 15 members are from the ruling Congress(I). By convention, an opposition member is the chairman. The nine Congress(I) members are B. Basavalingappa. S.S. Mahajan Shetty, S.V. Naik. S. Shaft Ahmed. Lmakant Borkar.advertisementDamodar Mulki, A.B. Bedge. Ramesh Kumar (all MLAs) and Abdul Nazir Sab. MLC. Only one of the nine has. so far. opposed the ‘unanimous findings’ – officials, however, refused to disclose his name. It is the first time in the history of the legislative assemblies that ruling party members are signatories to a demand for a high-level probe against the action of their chief minister.Major Scandal: The report rounds off its explosive findings with a succinct: “This is a fit case for enquiry under the Commission of Enquiry Act headed by no less an authority than a judge of the High Court which should thoroughly probe all the findings and issues listed out in our report.”This joining of hands on both sides caused even a Congress(I) MLA to chuckle: “Our MLAs behaved like football players who carry the attack into their own territory.” Thundered A.K. Subbaiah. the fiery Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president: “Gundu Rao must quit. It is a major scandal involving the chief minister personally.” Adds Laxmi Sagar, the soft-spoken leader of the Opposition in the Assembly: “Since the report is based on the evidence tendered by the officials it cannot be wrong and the chief minister must hang his head in shame for soiling Karnataka’s image.”It was Gundu Rao’s bad luck that the PAC stumbled on wheeling and dealing while it was quite innocently fulfilling its statutory obligations. In the course of a routine probe into the delay in the completion of irrigation projects the committee discovered that erratic supply of cement was the chief villain of the piece.Veerendra Patil: Earnest lobbying for the buildersIt began to smell other villains when it found that the explanation of the Irrigation Department that cement meant for canals and suchlike was being diverted to private builders, was correct. Though the PAC could not prove that the department’s falling behind schedule was due to a cement shortage, it did conclude that the release of over 4,000 tonnes of cement to 32 leading builders was done after reducing the quotas of various government construction agencies.The important allegations of the report are:4,000 tonnes of cement was diverted to the builders from an additional allotment meant exclusively for government works;The list of builders approved by thechief minister included names which had jumped the queue in the list maintained by the Industries Department;The prior approval of the Central Government was not sought for diverting the cement from government jobs to bulk users;The minister not in charge of cement distribution recommended allotments overruling objections by the Industries Department;There has been a progressive decline in the allotment of cement meant for government departments and public sale, favouring bulk consumers and hindering residential construction.The 4,000 tonnes of cement put under the microscope by the PAC is only a fraction of the 1,20,000 tonnes distributed in 1981. It appears, however, that the committee has chosen to focus on this 3.3 percent, although doubts dogged the allotment of the larger part also, to make its point by concentrating on the sneaky fashion in which the cement was doled out. The doling out in Bangalore coincided with Antulay’s liberal munificence in Bombay in return for donations to his famous trusts.advertisementConstruction Frozen: According to opposition leaders, Gundu Rao’s cement saga began when the state Government put the screws on the builders by withdrawing construction licences and freezing the new building plans in November 1980.On November 18, 1980, all leading builders were served notices at their residences late in the evening. ordering them to stop further construction. The Bangalore Municipal Corporation recommended to the state Government that these builders not be given cement. As a result, even a 50-tonne quarterly allotment was stopped.There are over 80 apartment builders in Bangalore – seven from Bombay and Delhi and the rest from neighbouring states such as Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. After the state Government shut off the cement. 40 apartment promoters formed the Karnataka Ownership Apartment Promoters Association (KOAPA), after securing a stay order from the High Court.KOAPA’s members are buildjng over 3.000 fiats in 45 residential complexes with a total covered area of over 36 lakh sq ft. No builder has been able to complete his complex. because of the non-availability of cement.Says K.K. Malpani, vice-president of the association: “Our real agony starts when we apply for cement and during the last three years we have received only 13 per cent of our total requirement.” Adds H.N. Anantraman, secretary of the KOAPA : “If we go by the Government’s supply schedule, we will not be able to complete our project even in 20 years.”In fact, the builders had to stop work for over six months from October 1980 to March 1981 because of the cement shortage. Against their requirement of over 8,000 tonnes a quarter, only 97 tonnes of cement was given to them in the first three months of 1981. In the next quarter the quota was raised – to 861 tonnes.It was KOAPA’s desire to finish their apartments in a reasonable period of time and the Government’s commendable willingness to “help them out to remove unemployment among the construction workers” which led to the additional allotment of the all-important material.Hectic Lobbying: The association started sending representations to the Central Government, the state Government and leading Congress(I) MPs from the state. They pleaded their cause vigorously with Union Industry Minister for State Charanjit Chanana, Union Minister of State for Railways Jailer Shariel and Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister Manek Rao Patil. In fact, it was Patil who took up the cudgels on behalf of the KOAPA and made at least three trips to Delhi which he followed up with long letters in support of his plea for extra cement.As a result of all this earnest lobbying, even more earnest correspondence grew. Patil requested Chanana in his letter dated March 3, 1981 (reference number MCFS/376/81) to “enhance the state quota of cement from 2.5 lakh metric tonne to 3.25 metric tonne per quarter to meet the growing demand” and also requested him to make an ad hoc allotment of 2.04.364 metric tonne for “clearing the back-log accumulated in various categories”.advertisement It took Chanana over two months to draft a reply in the negative (letter number CC/C0121 (30)80 dated May 15. 1981) which said “for reasons of less availability it has not been possible to meet these requests. In view of the foregoing. I would request you to bear with us till the overall availability of cement improves in the country.”The state Government did not give up and Patil continued his battle for cement. He came to Delhi in May 1981, met Chanana and persuaded him to release an extra quantity. Soon after his return to Bangalore he sent a frantic message to the industry minister which said crisply that “cement supply position has become very precarious. Virtually large number of constructions have been held up throwing hundreds of people out of jobs. Kindly allot at least 10,000 tonnes of additional quota during current quota so that minimum requirement could be met”.Inexplicably, a copy of the telex was sent to Sharief although there are two ministers from Karnataka in the Union Cabinet – Transport and Shipping Minister Veerendra Patil and Health and Family Welfare Minister B. Shankaranand. According to opposition leaders, Sharief had become close to Chanana and Antulay and was chosen by the state Government to look after its interests in Delhi.The hospital which is incomplete because of the cement shortageCement Released: Chanana’s response to the appeal was a 180-degree change of tack. On July 2, 1981 he replied saying: “Instructions have been issued for additional release of 10.000 tonnes of cement to Karnataka from Krishna/Vijayawada to be collected for the government departments for immediate lifting by road.”Patil then forwarded a list of 32 builders to the chief minister for a total quota of 3.704 tonnes of cement to which Rao agreed. Interestingly, the list included names not on KOAPA’s roster and against whom charges of misappropriation of cement were under investigation (see chart).Indeed, while the PAC has taken exception to the out-of-turn allotment to 32 builders, it has not included 18 other private parties who were also given cement – this omission has raised doubts about its credibility.The total allotment was far more than the 4.000 tonnes mentioned in the report – 5,380 tonnes of cement was allotted to bulk consumers of which 4.055 tonnes was handed out in one quarter alone.Other beneficiaries of the chief minister’s largesse were Express Newspapers Public Limited (50 tonnes). Life Insurance Corporation Employees, Deepanjali Housing Cooperative Society Limited (50 tonnes) and the Kudremukh Employees Cooperative Society (50 tonnes).The PAC report stressed the fact that the bulk consumers had prospered at the cost of government works and residential construction. While the per quarter share of bulk consumers rose from 12,470 tonnes in January 1981 to 20,941 tonnes in October 1981, the quantity of cement for public sale declined from 1,05.195 tonnes to 82,000 tonnes in the same period.Sagar charges that “the bulk consumers never had it so good” and the cement usually went to people close to the powerful VAK Exports(P) Ltd, owned by Sharief supporter Mohammed Sadekh Khaleed, got 250 tonnes, though his name was not recommed by KOAPA. For a similar reason. Usha Devi, owner of an apartment complex coming up on Museum Road, got 30 tonnes.Deserving Ignored: On the other hand, 11.428 persons with a total requirement of 1,99,990 tonnes for small residences were given only 8,600 tonnes, although many of them registered as early as 1979 Religious philanthropic and sports organisations have also been ignored, among them the Mahavir Jain Trust which is building a 250-bed hospital and the Bangalore football stadium’s new building. Says an employee of the Jain Trust: “If we have to do underhand dealings for charitable trusts, it is better to abandon them.”The lucky ones have gained in another way. Though the priority allotment is a small fraction of their total 50,000-tonne requirement, it has covered up for cement supplies from elsewhere – pilferage from government works and from the mini-cement plants.Ofice bearers of KOAPA: Getting construction mcningA government spokesman claimed that the builders were buying in black from four mini-cement plants in the south – Rs 30 was allegedly being demanded as premium added to the official rate of Rs 30 a bag.The target of the attack is unrepentant. Challenges Rao: “If anybody proves any quid pro quo. I will resign immediately. There is no diversion and I have used my discretion to allot the cement. What is wrong with that?” Adds Patil: “Under what regulation can we deny them the cement?After all they have been able to construct more flats in two years than state government agencies like Bangalore Development Authority and the Karnataka Housing Board have built in five. Opposition leaders have alleged that only rich people will benefit which means rich have no right to live. If I accept that proposition then we shall have to hang the Tatas and the Birlas.”Both Rao and Patil demanded Bommai’s resignation for political use of the PAC and asserted that they had allotted cement to each category of consumer proportionate to their requirements.Says Patil: “I don’t favour anyone. But there will be a hue and cry because I cannot give cement to everyone. I receive only half of my quarterly requirement of 5 lakh tonnes of cement from the Centre. The demand has zoomed because of growing construction activity in the city. But we are getting cement at the basis of 1976 allotment.”Corruption: The builders are onto a good thing – at the end of February, 93 commercial and residential complexes with a covered area of over one crore square feet were in the pipeline – at the going rate of about Rs 250 a square foot, total turnover will be over Rs 250 crore. The municipal laws and the civil supply rules are tailor-made for milking the cow. Said a building contractor: “Everyone looks at us with expectant eyes. Nothing moves until we shell put something for getting even legitimate jobs done.”There is in fact a set pattern of payoffs. The rules of the game are as follows:Corporation officials allegedly charge Rs 5 a sq ft to clear the building plan. Total amount allegedly paid this way: Rs 5 crore;Rs 18 as premium for each bag. Rs 15 allegedly goes to the concerned politician, and Re 1 each to the industry and commerce department, the party high command, and miscellaneous expenses. Total: Rs 250 lakh during 1981;Rs 20,000 for a water connection at start of construction and Rs 25,000 for an electricity connection;Rs 50.000 for getting clearance under the Urban Land Ceiling Act. Total money paid by the builders exceeds Rs 30 lakh.Sharief (left) and Charanjit Chanana: ConnectedThe builders, on their part, are keeping an eye on the future, at the rate land prices are rising, and ironically, delay could mean more money in the bank. The ultimate sufferers will be the citizens in the street, without access to politicians and cement. They might even have caused more trouble for themselves following an October 1980 campaign against high-rise structures.The resulting scarcity of flats has resulted in a rise in rents. Says M.N. Srinivasan, KOAPA joint secretary: “Who stands to gain by these rules? No one. But they will cause an artificial scarcity of both commercial and residential space in the city. If they clear all the plans, the prices will fall by over 40 per cent.”That is most unlikely. With elections to the state Assembly round the corner, the multi-crore construction industry will be under pressure to fill party coffers. If the entire business is subjected to a set of rules. the chances of making money on the side diminish drastically. No one, understandably, wants that to happen.