Railway Board has decided in principle to start soon a direct train between Firozpur and Delhi via Moga , once the necessary infrastructure is created at Firozpur Station. At present, infrastructure for maintenance of coaches for additional trains from Firozpur is not available. Additional facilities at Firozpur are being created soon to facilitate the running of the new train.

    In the meantime, Railway Board has decided to provide direct rail connectivity between Firozpur and Delhi via Moga through slip coach arrangement with effect from June 15,1999 This will give immediate relief to travellers of Firozpur-Ludhiana Section, which include Moga, Talwandi and Jagroan places in Punjab For this an additional Sleeper Class (SL) coach will be provided by 4630 Sutlej Express from Firozpur to Ludhiana. This coach will be connected to 8102 Muri Express at Ludhiana. The coach will be detached at New Delhi thereby providing a daily service between Firozpur to Ludhiana via Moga. In the return direction, the coach will be attached to 8101 Muri Express from New Delhi. At Ludhiana, the coach will be attached to 4629 Sutlej Express for Firozpur. Timings will be as under:-

1645 Dep. Firozpur Arr. 0940
1925 Arr. Ludhiana Dep. 0700
2235 Dep. Arr. 0220
0425 Arr. New Delhi Dep. 2030

    These decisions were taken at a meeting between Railway Minister, Shri Nitish Kumar and Chief Minister of Punjab, Shri Prakash Singh Badal, held here today. It has also been decided to hold foundation stone laying ceremony for the new Broad Gauge line between Chandigarh and Ludhiana at Mohali in Punjab on June 27,1999.

    The Railways transported 34.04 million tonnes of revenue earning freight during April 1999. This is 1.35 million tonnes more than the freight carried during April 1998, but seven lakh tonnes less than the target.

    Of the transported freight, coal accounted for 16.23 million tonnes (MT), raw material 2.85 MT, iron and steel 0.81 MT, iron ore for export 0.60 MT, cement 3.69 MT, foodgrains 1.99 MT, fertilizers 1.85 MT, Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) 2.67 MT and other goods 3.35 MT.

    The Railways transported 420.91 million tonnes of revenue earning freight during the last financial year against a revised target of 424 million tonnes

    Indian Oil Corporation’s refineries at Mathura, Panipat, Gujarat, Barauni and Haldia are currently supplying motor spirit (petrol) with less than 3% benzene content. The Gazette Notification of April 1996 and the BIS-2000 norms permit upto 5% benzene in motor spirit. The refineries at Mathura and Panipat which supply motor spirit in the National Capital Region are in fact producing product much below 3% benzene content most of the time.

    The journey for introducing clean fuels began in 1995 when Mathura refinery began supplying unleaded MS (petrol). The four metros, select radial routes and the Taj Trapezium began supplies of unleaded petrol from 1st April 1995 with the commissioning of the state of the art Continuous Catalytic Reforming Unit at Mathura refinery in May 1998, the entire production of MS of the refinery became lead free from July 1998 onwards. Similar units had already been commissioned by then at Digboi and Barauni refineries. The National Capital Territory of Delhi has been receiving only unleaded petrol from Ist September, 1998 and from January 1999, it is being supplied in the entire National Capital Region. The whole country will have unleaded petrol by 1st April 2000.

    By the end of next month, Indian Oil expects to commission diesel hydro de-sulphurisation units at a total cost of Rs.1,776 crore at its Mathura, Gujarat, Haldia and Panipat refineires. Thereafter, all the seven refineries of Indian Oil will produce only extra low sulphur HSD (diesel) with only 0.25% sulphur by weight. The refineries at Guwahati, Barauni and Digboi have already been producing only extra low sulphur HSD.

    Mathura refinery began supplying low sulphur (0.5% wt) HSD to Delhi in March 1996 and extra low sulphur HSD in the Taj Trapezium from July 1996. The extra low sulphur diesel was introduced in the inner city of Delhi from 15th August, 1997. Since 1st April 1998 all metros are being supplied only extra low sulphur grade diesel. Indian Oil will, therefore, be supplying extra low sulphur diesel from all its refineries much before the deadline set by the Government. Studies have already been initiated to consider further improvement in fuel quality though current fuel specifications are considered adequate for meeting Euro-I and Euro-II emission norms.

    Shri Jagmohan , who has been the Union Minister for Communications so far, assumed the office as the Union Minister for Urban Development here today following the change of portfolio announced by the Government yesterday.

    Shri Jagmohan succeeds Shri Ram Jethmalani who has been shifted as the Minister for Law, Justice and Company Affairs.

    Immediately after Shri Jagmohan assumed his new office, senior officials met him and briefed the Minister about the functioning of the Ministry, some of the new policy decisions taken and those on the anvil. Shri Jagmohan is not new to the subjects under the jurisdiction of this Ministry. He held the office of Vice-Chairman, Delhi Development Authority and Lt. Governor of Delhi.

    Shri Jagmohan directed the officials to work for the overall wellbeing of the people of Delhi. It should be the endeavour of the Government to make the life of the people of Delhi livable with attendant provision of adequate civic amenities, he added. Besides, the Ministry should work for improving the urban infrastructure all over the country, the Minister said.

    Listing his priorities, Shri Jagmohan said that he was all for improving ground level realities. He exhorted the officials to provide welfare-cum-result oriented performance. He wanted them to be bold in their advises. He said that civil servants were partners in development and for that they should be fearless and bold in their discharge of duties. He wanted them to deliver the good by concentrating on works in the field. He assured them of full protection, transparency and cooperation from the Government. The ultimate goal was to make effective contribution by linking the fate of cities with the fate of country. He said that the urban development was his first love . If this Government returned to power following the mid-term General Elections then he would like to retain the Ministry of Urban Development so that he could contribute to ameliorate the urban India.

    The electronics production and exports registered an appreciable growth during the year 1998-99 compared to the previous year. The electronics production was Rs.41,100 crore recording a 28% increase while the exports was placed at Rs.12,800 crore showing a growth of 35%. Software exports alone amounted to Rs.11,000 crore which is 70% more than the previous year. The software industry has set itself an ambitious target of 50 billion dollars in 10 years. This information was given by the Secretary, Department of Electronics, Shri Ravindra Gupta at the second meeting of the Development Council for Electronics industry held recently in New Delhi.

    Shri Ravindra Gupta comparing the Indian with the world electronics industry said that as far as PC penetration is concerned, the current position is one in 500 of the population in India. He said the Department hopes to achieve a PC penetration of 1 in 100 by the end of 9th Plan. Shri Gupta noted that most of the IT majors have set up their business operations in India and the desired level of foreign direct investment can only come in if we are able to attract investment on the hardware side. The FDI during 1998-99 amounted to Rs.1626.61 crore, Rs.603 crore more than the previous year.

    The penetration of TV is 7% of the population in India while the world average is 21%. In case of computers it is 0.2% in India while it is 5% world average. Penetration of Internet in India is estimated at 0.012% compared to 2% world average.

    The Irish Government is offering scholarships for 1999 for Indian nationals. The scholarships are being offered for a) Post-graduate degree in Hydrology for which two fellowships are being offered, b) M.Sc. (Agriculture) in Environmental Resource Management for which one fellowship is being offered, c) M.Sc. Community Health for which one fellowship is being offered, d) Diploma in Compensatory and Remedial Education for which one fellowship is being offered and e) Master’s Degree in Development Studies for which one fellowship is being offered.

    The scholarships will be valid for one year except for the Diploma in Compensatory and Remedial Education which will be valid for one and a half years.

    The Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports and Women and Child Development, Sushree Uma Bharti has congratulated Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati for their success in the French Open Doubles Final. Expressing happiness at the success, the Minister has said that it is for the first time that Indian players have won a Grand Slam Title in tennis. She also said that Bhupati’s and Paes’s success apart from adding to the country’s pride will also be a source of inspiration for other players.
    The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri Dalit Ezhilmalai has called upon the corporate sector to lend a helping hand to the Government in combating tuberculosis by implementing the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) . Inaugurating a workshop on RNTCP here today, the Minister said that successful implementation of the revised strategy to combat TB in India could save more lives than any other public health intervention over the next decade.

    Though the current project was to cover 102 districts in the country involving about 27 crore people, the Centre is keen to expand the coverage under the RNTCP to the whole country. While the Government has re-doubled its efforts to control TB, it cannot do all the work by itself, the Minister said. To overcome this problem the Government seeks the cooperation and contribution from all sides. Though the Government has been involving the private practitioners, private hospitals, large Government organisations, it also seeks the cooperation of the corporate sector in combating TB.

    The Minister hoped that deliberations of the workshop would help devise ways and means for such cooperation and contribution of the public and private sectors to the governmental efforts to control tuberculosis in the country. He assured full support of the Government to this programme.

    The Union Health Secretary, Shri B.P.Singh, Director General of Health Services, Dr. S.P.Aggarwal and senior officials of the Ministry besides representatives from the public and private sector organisations and WHO participated in the day-long workshop.

    The Indian Labour Minister Dr. Satyanarayan Jatiya has said the creation of greater opportunities for men and women to secure decent employment as the most important objective, to check widespread unemployment in most parts of the world including the Asia-Pacific Region. He said all other objectives will remain incomplete so long as we do not achieve sufficient progress towards productive employment for all. Dr. Jatiya stated this while addressing the Labour Ministers and Government delegates from Asia-Pacific Region in Geneva today.

    Dr. Jatiya said, the present trend is of lesser intervention of the Government in economic matters. But, India feels that Governments still have to play a major role to bring about orderly progress in economic and social fields by regulating the fundamentals of economy. By their very nature, market forces may not be able to fulfil the basic human rights of workers in these countries, he stated.

    The Labour Minister welcomed the strategic objective approach in the Director General of International Labour Organisation’s Report "Decent Work" as well as the other four objectives mentioned theirin, namely, Promotion of Fundamental Principles and Rights, Creation of Opportunities for decent employment, Enhancing coverage and effectiveness of social protection and strengthening tripartism and social dialogue. Dr. Jatiya also appreciated the new direction contemplated for the Technical Cooporation Programme of the ILO. He said sufficient funds should be allocated for such programmes from the regular budget.

    While addressing another ministerial level Bipartite meeting on "Economic and Financial Crisis – ILO Action", Dr. Jatiya stated that top priority is required to be given for technical and advisory services aimed at creating more employment opportunities and for providing social security and protection. He said the Financial crisis faced by the Asian region recently had resulted in job-loss for 20 million workers. The run away inflation and consequent decrease in the value of the wages of the workforce have further aggravated the situation.

    The Labour Minister said the ILO’s task is not only to recommend policies and measures to tackle the immediate social consequences of the current financial crisis but it is also enjoined to formulate a comprehensive employment strategy with a long term perspective. This strategy should be designed to stimulate employment creation especially in developing countries, he averred.

    Dr. Jatiya stated that market forces alone will not be able to contribute to full, productive and freely chosen employment for all. State intervention, especially in the infrastructure sectors as well as in employment oriented service sectors is unavoidable to create greater employment opportunities. In this effort, the role of small and Medium enterprises, can’t be ignored.

    While highlighting, the importance of the Tripartism to tackle such situation Dr. Jatiya said that at the national level a comprehensive employment strategy should be formulated in consultation with the organisations of employers and workers. Adequate framework for such consultation is also provided for, in the ILO Convention No.122, which has recently been ratified by the Government of India. Similarly, freedom of Association and collective bargaining are to be promoted at national level through tripartism and social dialogue. In India, "Since independence, we have earnestly been promoting tripartism in dealing with all matters relating to labour and we will continue to do so" Dr. Jatiya added.

    The just concluded World Food Summit in Rome focussed its attention in four areas which constitute the basis of food security namely, production, distribution, access and quality of foodgrains. Shri M.D. Asthana, Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies who was the leader of the Indian delegation to the 25th Session of the Committee on Food Security apprised the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that India would make all efforts for securing food security especially making foodgrains accessible to the people. In view of the diversified conditions prevailing in India, pilot projects on all the four aspects of food security could be taken up on an urgent basis, Shri Asthana, informed.

    Dr. Jacques Diouf, DG, FAO expressed appreciation for India’s progress in agriculture and the support FAO has been receiving from India in its various endeavours. He highlighted the relevance of Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) which has been spearheaded by FAO for promoting technical cooperation between countries of the South. He said that with india’s rich resources of technical competence, India could assist FAO in taking up these programmes in a number of countries. He promised to have discussion with the representatives in Rome in this matter at the earliest.

    The Minister of Law, Justice & Company Affairs, Shri Ram Jethmalani has said that his Government is committed to Electoral-Reforms. He said that the Law Commission has submitted its report on the Electoral-Reforms to the Government today. The report will be examined by the Government and there will be consultation with all political parties. He said, if there is unanimity among political parties for adoption of this report then even an ordinance could be promulgated for its implementation. The Minister was addressing newsmen here today after taking over the charge as the Minister of Law, Justice & Company Affairs.

    Shri Jethmalani said that his Government is also committed to the creation of a National Judicial Commission with powers of appointment, transfer and removal of Judges of High Courts and the Supreme Court. However, he said that it will require constitutional amendment which is not practicable or possible now or in the near future. Till then, he said, the present system must be fairly and honestly worked. Shri Jethmalani said that judges seeking promotion and lawyers seeking appointment must look to the heads of the judicial family to get their just dues. He warned that canvassing in any form will be considered a negative point and possibly lead to disqualification.

    Speaking on the large number of vacancies in the various courts of the country, the Minister assured that these will be filled very soon. Shri Jethmalani said that details of measures to restore the dwindling confidence of the citizen in the administration of justice including police investigation will be spelt out shortly. Stating that the criminal justice system in the country is in shambles, the Minister said that the emoluments and qualifications of Prosecutors will be considerably enhanced and a system of supervision of their work put into place. He also said that false and frivolous prosecutions will be eliminated adding that real criminals will be speedily brought to justice. Earlier addressing the officials, the Minister had said that a good part in delay of administration of justice is attributable to the delays in government departments. He suggested that the whole system should overhauled and computerised to eliminate all avoidable delays. He suggested officials to observe the confidentiality of lawyer-client relationship as his Ministry gives legal advice to the various departments and ministries of the Government.

    Union Home Minister, Shri L.K. Advani released the three reports of National Human Rights Commission, here today. The first report, ‘State–of–the-Art Forensic Science: For Better Criminal Justice’ relates to the Ministry of Home Affairs. The other two reports concerning the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare are ‘Large Volume Parenterals: Towards Zero Defect’ and ‘Quality Assurance in Mental Health’.

    Shri Advani while addressing the gathering on the occasion said that the reports in totality are an expression of the Human Rights Commission’s concern for the good health of society. He said, "criminal justice is a serious matter. If a person is not able to get it, the society’s health is affected. Unless and until the criminal justice system improves as a whole, common man cannot feel secure".

    The Home Minister lauded the Commission for doing an excellent job in entertaining complaints of human rights violation sent to it expeditiously. He also said that he was impressed by the Commission’s approach and perspective in considering issues of vital public importance like forensic sciences and health issues. He assured the Chairman, Justice Venkatachaliah that the report on Forensic Science related with the Ministry of Home would be examined expeditiously and it would be his task to see that it is enacted upon.

    In his welcome address, Chairman of the NHRC Justice Venkatachaliah said that these reports on vital societal issues re-emphasises Commission’s concern for safeguarding the human rights. The forensic scientists and laboratories can play an important role in protecting and promoting human rights. The Commission, therefore, felt that it should step in to correct the aberrations, added Shri Venkatachaliah.

    The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Shri Dalit Ezhilmalai has said that the Centre proposes to develop a National Mental Health Programme with a view to upgrading the services in the mental hospitals of the country. Participating in a function organised by the National Human Rights Commission here today, where the Union Home Minister Shri L.K.Advani released three reports including one in "Quality Assurance in Mental Health", Shri Dalit Ezhilmalai said that this National Mental Health Programme will not only help in providing better health services to the mentally-ill patients but will also help in protecting their rights.

    The Minister said that human rights violations of mentally-ill patients have been brought out both by the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission with specific recommendations to overcome the problem. The Government is committed to implement these directives, the Minister said.

    The Minister said that the quality assurance in mental health has not received the importance that it deserved over the last few decades. It is reported that 2 per cent of the country’s population has some mental health problem or the other. However, the amount of expenditure on mental health programme is still very limited. The Minister said that in the beginning of this year, the Medical Superintendents of Mental Hospitals, who met in Bangalore, developed a certain common minimum standards to be followed in all mental hospitals, which was later endorsed by a meeting of Secretaries of some States.


    Small Industries Service Institute, New Delhi, Ministry of Industry, in collaboration with Electronics Research & Development Centre of India, Department of Electronics, has set up a Centre at New Delhi for Information Technology. The Centre is designed to benefit Small Scale Industry owners, managers and employees. The Centre, having high-tech computer training facilities, was inaugurated here yesterday by Shri C.T.Benjamin, Secretary, Department of Small Scale Industries.

    Information relating to marketing intelligence could be accessed at the centre at a nominal expense and structured training inputs could be profitably utilized by small scale units.

    Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO) has plans to expand and branch out centres throughout the country depending on the success of the Delhi Centre. During previous years, similar prototype development centres were established in various parts of the country through the protocol of help and development programmes provided by German and Danish Governments. Such centres at Ferozabad for development of glass industry, at Meerut for footwear, Calcutta, Jamshedpur and Bhubaneswar for tool rooms etc. are doing exceptionally well.


    The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Shri Pramod Mahajan has condoled the death of veteran journalist Shri Bishamber Nath Kumar. In his condolence message, Shri Mahajan said that Shri Kumar was the founder President of the Sub-Editors Guild of India and he had contributed various research papers on Journalism.


    The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi has condoled the death of the veteran journalist Shri Bishamber Nath Kumar. In his condolence message, Shri Naqvi said that Shri Kumar’s contribution to the field of journalism would be remembered for long.


    The State of Environment Report released by the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee on June 5th, 1999 on the occasion of World Environment Day says industrialisation of the country based on the western pattern, has proven to be a mixed blessing. The Report has been brought out by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. It says, on the one hand the industrialisation of the country on the western pattern has increased the Gross National Product (GNP), however on the other, there has been a huge backlog of air and water pollution and land degradation.

    The Report says being a democratic welfare state India has enshrined in its Constitution not merely the concepts of equity and social justice, but also the responsibility of fulfilment of the basic minimum needs and to improve the quality of life of its citizens. A conscious decision was taken after independence to broaden the country's economic base, which then largely comprised of traditional agriculture and raw material exports. To broaden the economic base accelerated industrialisation was taken up to give a boost to the GNP. Maximum exploitation of natural resources therefore, became a desirable objective with air pollution and water pollution being accepted as unavoidable.

    The development model based on the western pattern does not give much importance to natural resources optimisation. It is based on the premise that raw materials will continue to be available in plenty and in perpetuity, at a cheap cost either from a country's own resources or from its colonies. The focus of this development model is on cheap but wasteful and outmoded imported technologies, and it has created a huge backlog of pollution.

    A study made in 1995 has estimated that the economic loss due to air pollution in 36 cities of the country is estimated to be U.S. $2,102 million per year. Major environmental costs from all sources have been estimated to be U.S. $9,715 million per year amounting to 4.53 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

    Pollution is nothing but a wasted resources and wastage of scarce natural resources. The Report says that the prosperity of a nation depends on how skillfully and optimally its natural resources are harnessed and utilised. Equally critical according to the Report is the need to institutionalise the concept of equity and social justice so that the control of natural resources and adoption of development programmes are not cornered by "vested interest". The cornering of these natural resources and outputs of development programmes, deprives an ever increasing proportion of the country's population of its basic means of sustenance. The Report adds that the impoverished segment of society is then likely to attack the natural resources in the crude manner possible for mere survival, thereby further destroying the resource base.

    The complete State of the Environment Report will be available on the web site of the Sustainable Development Networking Project (SDNP) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests from June 11th, 1999. The web site address is http://www.sdnp.delhi.nic.in.