In view of the current upsurge of malaria, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam instructed that an expert team consisting of one Epidemiologist and one Entomologist from National Anti- Malaria Programme, Delhi, be sent immediately to visit Bihar again to take stock of the situation and suggest containment measures to the State Health Authorities.

    A Central team of doctors from National Anti-Malaria Programme Delhi and National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Delhi, was sent earlier to visit Bihar from 30th October to 3rd November, 1999. After visiting the State, the team submitted a report which confirmed the incidence of malaria and advised immediate measures for preventing further spread of the disease.





    Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam said that Government wants to achieve leprosy elimination throughout the country by the year 2003. Government attaches high priority to National Leprosy Eradication Programme. On completion of the first phase of World Bank assistance in March 2000, Government is planning to have a second phase of World Bank project so that the gains achieved so far are consolidated and unfinished task is completed.

    The Minister has expressed his happiness over the recent formation of a global alliance on leprosy elimination during the 3rd International Conference on Elimination of Leprosy held at Abhidjan and India’s election for the Chairmanship of the alliance for the first one year. In his address at the reception given in honour of the visiting members of International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Association, here on December 8,1999, the Minister has assured all the International Leprosy Eradication Programme agencies, WHO and all other members of global alliance that all the required action for strengthening the process of elimination of this disease, will be taken.

    Shri Javid Ahmed Chaudhary, Secretary (Health), Dr. S.P.Aggarwal, Director General Health Services, Mr. Terry Vasy, President, ILEP Organisations, Mr. Angelo Simonazzi, General Secretary, ILEP Organisations, Dr. C.S.Walter, Director, Leprosy Mission are among others who participated in this function.





    The Minister of State in the Ministry of Planning, Statistics & Programme Implementation and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Shri Arun Shourie informed Shri J. Chitharanjan and Shri Gurudas Das Gupta in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today that during the period from 1993-94 to 1999-2000 (upto November), the Government of India released Rs. 4232.8 crores under the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS), against which Rupees 2734.8 crores are reported to have been utilised for various works under the Scheme. Thus, at all India level the percentage of utilisation over the release is 64.6 per cent. There are however some states where percentage utilisation is less than 60 per cent. A table setting out state-wise details is annexed. Some of the reasons for less utilisation are the civil nature of works proposed by the MPs, transfer of land for the work site taking time, limited working season in many of the States, the operation of Model Code of Conduct for elections.

    All the Members of Parliament have been requested to give their recommendations for various works well in advance in phased manner, not to cancel the works in the mid-way, recommend civil works only on undisputed locations. All the District Collectors have also been advised to process and sanction all the works recommended by the MPs to the extent of their entitlement of MPLADS funds and to stipulate a time limit for the implementing agencies to complete the given work in a specific time frame depending on the nature of work. The State Governments also have been advised to issue necessary instructions to all concerned to strictly follow the monitoring arrangements as laid-down in the guidelines.





    The exercise for the Mid-Term Appraisal (MTA) of the Ninth Five Year Plan is currently in progress. The Editorial Committee of the Planning Commission, constituted for the Mid Term Appraisal Document is in the process of finalising the draft chapters.

    Against a target average growth rate in Dross Domestic Product (GDP) of 6.5 per cent per annum set for the Ninth Five Year Plan, the growth rate achieved in the first two years of the Plan was 5 and 6 per cent for 1997-98 and 1998-99, respectively.

    The Minister of State in the Ministry of Planning, Statistics & Programme Implementation and Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances, Shri Arun Shourie informed Shri J. Chitharanjan and Shri Gurudas Das Gupta in a written reply in Rajya Sabha today.





    The Government has accepted the recommendations of Disinvestment Commission in regard to ITDC. The main recommendations of the Commission are as under :-

    This information was given by the Minister of State for the Ministry of Tourism, Ms. Uma Bharati while replying to a question by Shri Mohan Rawale and Shri G. M. Banatwalla in Lok Sabha today.

    She further added that the Government has set up an Inter Ministerial Group to work out the modalities for appointment of Financial Advisor to advise on the implementation of the recommendations of the Disinvestment Commission.





    The Government of India are open to specific offers for participation by Private firms, Indian or foreign, in the Nuclear Power Sector. However, the Government have not received any concrete proposals from the Private Sector so far for setting up Nuclear Power Pants in the country. Such offers, when received, have to be considered on the basis of technical suitability, economic attractiveness, regulatory requirements of our country and the conditions attached to the offers.

    In view of the present scenario of electrical power generation, private participation in Nuclear Power Sector will ease the escalated energy needs of the country.

    This information was given by the Minister of State in the Department of Atmoic Energy Smt. Vasundhara Raje in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.





    Government have introduced a comprehensive New Industrial Policy for the entire Northeastern region. The policy includes infrastructure support and both project and production related benefits that are meant for all industrial activities, including those of Small Scale and Agro & Rural Industries. The salient features of the policy are as follows: 1) Expenditure on Growth Centres, up to Rs. 15 crore would be met through Central assistance. 2) Funding pattern for Integrated Infrastructure Development Centres (IIDCs) changed from 2:3 between Government of India and SIDBI to 4:1. The Government of India funds would be in the nature of grant. 3) Transport subsidy scheme has been extended by 7 years up to 31.3.2007 and amount to be disbursed through Northeastern Development Finance Corporation. 4) Industries located in the Growth Centres would be given capital investment subsidy at the rate of 15 per cent on Plant & Machinery subject to a ceiling of Rs. 30 lakh. 5) Growth Centres & IIDCs become tax-free zones for income tax and excise duty for a period of 10 years. Certain high growth potential industries have also been given the tax-free status irrespective of the location in the North-East. 6) An interest subsidy of 3 per cent on the working capital loans would be provided for a period of ten years after the commencement of production. 7) Comprehensive Insurance Scheme for new industrial units has been put in place.

    Specific relaxations have also been provided for the Northeastern region, under the Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana, which is aimed at providing self-employment to educated unemployed youth. This includes, age relaxation (40 years under general category as compared to 35 years in other parts of the country), higher family income limit (Rs. 40,000 per annum as compared to Rs. 24,000 in other parts of the country) and higher subsidy component (up to maximum of Rs. 15,000 as compared to a ceiling of Rs. 7,500/- in other parts of the country.

    This information was given by the Minister for Small Scale Industries, Agro and Rural Industries Smt. Vasundhara Raje in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.





    Production in Village Industries Sector has increased by 36770 per cent from Rs. 10.93 crores in 1955-56 to Rs. 4029.88 crores in 1998-99. Government has already introduced a National Programme for Rural Industrialisation under which 100 rural clusters with forward and backward linkages, are being taken up through Small Industries Development Organisation and Khadi and Village Industries Commission. Apart from this, the Rural Employment Generation Programme provides interest subsidy for Khadi sector and margin money assistance for Village Industries for promotion and development of Khadi and Village Industry activity in rural areas.

    This information was given by the Minister for Small Scale Industries, Agro and Rural Industries Smt. Vasundhara Raje in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.





    The acidic/corrosive fumes emitted by the Industrial Units are causing corrosion to railway signalling equipment and the fitting in New Delhi-Ghaziabad Section. Affected components are being monitored intensively and are changed whenever required. Such industrial units have been advised by Northern Railway(NR) to take preventive steps.

    NR has approached concerned pollution Control Board for taking appropriate action against factories responsible for pollution. In one case, on orders of District Magistrate/Ghaziabad, a factory had been closed down. Two factories between Sahibabad and Ghaziabad discharging acidic effluent towards railway track have been stopped from doing so with the Court’s order. This has resulted in controlling the corrosion of track components. The corroded track fittings have been replaced.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Digvijay Singh in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.





    The work between Jammu-Udhampur Railway line is likely to be completed by December,2001 and total expenditure likely to be incurred is Rs.407.74 crore. The work between Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway line is likely to be completed by March,2008 subject to availability of funds and the total expenditure likely to be incurred is Rs.3077 crore.

    Eighty per cent of the work of Jammu-Udhampur line has been completed and the total expenditure incurred so far is Rs.295.2 crore approximately. The construction activity in Udhampur-Katra is in full swing. Contract for construction of Qazigund-Baramulla section covering a length of 120 kilometres has been awarded to M/s.IRCON International Limited.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Digvijay Singh in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.





    The alignment of Trans Asian Railway as proposed by India is still at a conceptual stage. It involves many countries and therefore difficult to assess the time by which it is likely to be finalised.

    This Railway has four possible border crossings on Eastern Side. They are :Gede-Darshana with Bangladesh on Broad Gauge; Mahisasan-Sahbazpur with Bangladesh on Metre Gauge; Tamu with Myanmar with a missing link from Jiribam to Tamu(The route is via Bangladesh); Lekhapani-Myitkyina, a direct route to Myanmar.(This is a missing link).

    The route which crosses the border with Myanmar at Lekhapani is an all Broad Gauge direct route with missing rail link between Lekhapani and Myitkina. However it does not pass through Bangladesh. It has been retained as Subregional route. The main Trans Asian Railway route does not have uniform gauge as the railway network in Bangladesh east of the Jamuna river is Metre Gauge and there is a missing link in Myanmar beyond Tamu.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Digvijay Singh in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.





    Indian Railways placed orders to M/s General Motors Corporation, USA in October 1995 to supply twenty one 4000 HP diesel electric freight locomotives . Out of these the Corporation was asked to supply 13 fully assembled locos and 8 locos in partially knocked down condition. The free-on-board value of the contract was Rs.175.96 crore. These locos arrived in India during March-August, 1999. The fully assembled locomotives are stationed at Diesel Loco Shed, Hubli, South Central Railway. Out of 8 partially knocked down locos , two have already been commissioned and stationed at Hubli Shed. The rest are being assembled at Diesel Locomotive Works , Varanasi.

    An order for procurement of ten diesel electric passenger locomotives has been placed on M/s General Motors Corporation, USA and the free-on-board value of the contract is Rs.103.15 crore. These locos are expected during 2001-2002.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Digvijay Singh in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.





    The Railways have given a great thrust to provision of track circuiting after Ferozabad Train Accident in 1995. About 600 stations every year are being equipped with various types of track circuiting and A,B and C routes in Indian Railways have already been covered. Track circuiting of the complete Station yards including points and crossings is being provided on programmed basis on priority within the available constraint resources.

    Lack of funds and non-availability of insulated points and crossing sleepers are the main constraints that stand in the way of track circuiting. If funds will be available , complete track circuiting at stations on A,B,C, D special and E special routes of Indian Railways is planned to be provided by the year 2005.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Railways Shri Digvijay Singh in a written reply in the Lok Sabha today.





    The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs Shri Ram Jethmalani will inaugurate a three-day Conference of Company Secretaries on International Trade and Cyber Laws here on December 9,1999. The Convention will discuss in-depth Multilateral Trading under World Trade Organisation (WTO)- Issues and Priorities, Competition Policy and Law, Globalisation of Capital Markets, Need for Sustainable Development and Emergence of Global E-Commerce and Cyber Laws.

    The Convention is expected to be attended by over 800 Company Directors, Secretaries, Senior Executives in the Corporate and Financial Services sector and practising professionals in secretarial, financial, legal and management disciplines from all over the country besides participants from sister professional bodies abroad. Eminent persons from the Government, Industry including the Professional and Management experts from India and Abroad will address the participants.





    The Centre (Department of Company Affairs) has approved a proposal from M/s. New Tirupur Area Development Corporation of Tamil Nadu for payment of interest not exceeding 10 per cent per annum on share capital. This is subject to certain conditions. The Government’s approval has been accorded under Section 208 of the Companies Act, 1956. This is for the first time an approval for interest on capital has been accorded by the Department of Company Affairs.

    The project is the first of its kind in the water sector and has specialised financial requirements in view of long gestation period involved in infrastructure projects. The Company has been promoted jointly by the Tirupur Exporters Association, Infrastructure Leasing and Financial Services Limited and Government of Tamil Nadu for drawal , treatment and delivery of 185 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of water of Tirupur Municipality and Industrial units in and around Tirupur. The successful completion of the project will result in reducing the gap between the level of infrastructure available and that required in Tirupur.






    The Union Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs Shri Ram Jethmalani has said that a law to prevent the misuse of computer technology on the pattern of the Misuse of Computer Act of the United Kingdom was on the anvil. Inaugurating a three-day 27th National Convention and 4th International Conference of Company Secretaries, organised by the Institute of Company Secretary of India, on the International Trade and Cyber Laws here today, Shri Jethmalani said that intellectual property being the greatest assets of the mankind, the Government was resolved to protect the intellectual property rights of the people as also the common heritages of India.

    Elaborating on the subject, the Law Minister said that doubtless the world was governed by computer and still computer created horrible mistakes that might lead to calamity and even destroy the world. It was in this context that the Government was considering to amend the Indian Penal Code to prevent stealing of information from computer as also prevent the misuse of computer to protect the intellectual property rights of our people. In this context, the Minister said that the Government was on the right course of action and was looking for the advice and cooperation emerging out of this conference in making an effective Cyber Law.

    Talking of the role of Company Secretaries in the effective corporate governance, Shri Jethmalani said that the Government expected the Company Secretaries, who function as dynamo of capitalism, to be public service oriented, always willing to innovate, putting in effect new ideas. For this, there was a greater need for a Competition Law. And the Government was intending to introduce a Competition Law to help protect the interests of consumers wherein consumers would be the king. In that scenario, the Company Secretaries would not be permitted to undermine the interests of consumers. In that event the role of Company Secretaries would be to harmonise the interests of consumers with that of business and industry and they would not be allowed to form cartels at the cost of consumers. In this connection, the Minister said that the Government was evolving to free itself from bungling bureaucrats and corrupt politicians as it believed the best Government was one which governed the least. He assured the delegates that the Government would see that there was no corporate frauds and mismanagement. He called for humanised capitalism wherein there would prevail equality, fraternity and upliftment of all citizens. And the role of Company Secretaries, therefore, would be to provide public assistance to under privileged. The Minister sought their cooperation in this onerous task.

    Shri Jethmalani regretted the slide of corporate sector from public oriented services and its emphasis on profiteering and profit making as against the traditional avocations of priests, doctors and lawyers being mostly public service oriented with less emphasis on profit making although herein also profitmaking at the cost of common good was now the sole motive.

    The Law Minister emphasised the need for competition to prevent unfair, unwarranted and unhealthy business practices to develop an environment conducing to healthy and fair competition to promote economic efficiency and consumer welfare.

    In his keynote address, the Chairman of Hero Group of Industries Shri Brijmohan Lall Munjal called upon the corporate sectors to formulate intellectual property management policy and strategy in order to stay alive with attendant creativity in an atmosphere of intense competition from global companies. In his presidential address, Shri Virender Ganda , President, Institute of Company Secretaries of India, talked at length about the reorientation of the courses of studies for the Company Secretaries to suit the global competition and said that rapid advances in information technology, globalisation and risk management would be the major forces influencing the market economy in the new millennium.





    The status of the various development parameters in the Indian telecom sector as on 31st October 1999 is as follows :-

Number of Telephone Exchanges as on 30.9.99


Net Switching Capacity (in lakh lines)


Direct Exchange Lines (in lakhs)


Village Public Telephones (Nos.)


Tax Capacity (in lakhs)


Public Call Offices as on 30.09.99


Transmission systems including Microwave,UHF (Route Kilometre)

Optical Fibre "

Total "




STD Facility Provided :

District Head Quarters

Sub-divisional HQrs.

Tehsil Hqrs.

Short Distance Charging Centres






Number of STD Stations







    The Department of Posts (DoP) has brought out a set of four stamps to pay homage to A.Vaidyanatha Iyer, Indulal Kanhaiyalal Yagnik, Dr. Punjabrao Deshmukh and P.Kakkan, who apart from playing prominent roles in the Freedom Struggle, have also made significant contribution towards building of the nation in the post independence years in crucial socio-economic and political spheres. The stamp is in the denomination of Rs.3/- each.

    A Vaidyanatha Iyer (1890-1955), influenced by Gandhiji, engaged himself into the Freedom Struggle in 1922. Playing active part in the Vedaranyam Salt Satyagraha of 1930, Quit India Movement of 1942 and many other movements, he spent many years in jail. He tirelessly campaigned for the development of Khadi and Village industries, prohibition, women's welfare and removal of untouchability.

    Indulal Kanaiyalal Yagnik (1892-1972), freedom fighter and social reformer, worked assiduously to organise and spread the message of Swadeshi and non-cooperation movement. He was a votary of the concept of a separate state of Gujarat, which later on became a reality. He also advocated industrial development of the country on modern lines. Since 1957, he continued to represent the Ahmedabad constituency in the Lok Sabha till his death in 1972.

    Dr. Punjabrao Deshmukh (1898-1965) contributed immensely to the emancipation, agriculture and social work. During his lifetime he ceaselessly worked for the welfare and development of farmers. This year is being celebrated as the birth centenary year of "Bhausaheb", as Dr. Punjabrao Deshmukh was affectionately known.

    Inspired by Gandhiji, P.Kakkan (1909-181) was drawn during his schooldays to the freedom movement. He underwent imprisonment at Alipur jail for his participation in the 'Quit India Movement'. He spearheaded the movement for temple entry of Harijans at Madurai in 1939. His major contributions included construction of the Mettur and Vaigai reservoirs and establishment of two Agricultural Universities. He is also remembered for the formation of Harijan Seva Sangh in different parts of Tamil Nadu which are doing yeomen service even now. He was a member of the Constituent Assembly.

    The First Day Cover alongwith the information sheet is available on sale at all Philatelic Bureaux/Counters and at selected Post Offices.






    India has called for a strong Protocol on Liability and Compensation to encourage countries to be more vigilant in the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. Speaking at the 5th Meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the Basel Convention at Basel, Switzerland today, the Minister of Environment and Forests, Shri T.R. Baalu also stressed the need for the development of projects and formulation of financial strategies for setting up of treatment facilities in developing countries.

    Emphasising the need for a proper monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance of the Convention, the Minister said that the ban of transboundary movement of hazardous wastes destined either for final disposal or recycling and recovery operations from Annexe-VII States (countries of European Union, OECD and Litchestien) to non-Annexe-VII States does not explicitly take into account the ability of member states to process wastes in an environmentally sound manner. "Till date, there is no consensus on the criteria to be adopted to judge if a particular process or technology for disposal or recycling could be categorised as environmentally sound", Shri Baalu said.

    Shri Baalu expressed apprehensions that the ban amendment which imposes a blanket ban on movement of recyclable wastes to non-Annexe-VII countries may come in the way of technology upgradation of recycling industry in non-Annexe-VII countries. "This would not be conducive to environmentally sound management of wastes which is the primary objective of this Convention", he added.

    India had ratified the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal in 1992. The objective of the Basel Convention is to reduce transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and other wastes and to dispose of them in an environmentally sound way. In 1995, the Third Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention banned transboundary movements of hazardous wastes destined either for final disposal or recycling and recovery operations from Annexe-VII States to non Annexe-VII States. However, movement of hazardous wastes is allowed within Annexe-VII States.

    Shri Baalu also outlined the steps taken by India in the field of hazardous wastes management which include:

    1. Amendment to the domestic legislation on waste management in harmony with decisions adopted in the Convention.
    2. Setting up of Hazardous Wastes Treatment, Storage and Disposal Facility with private sector partnership.
    3. Training and education programme for customs and port authorities for monitoring the movement of hazardous wastes.
    4. A legislation for collection and disposal of old/used lead-acid batteries, in an environmentally sound manner.
    5. Banning of imports of hazardous wastes containing toxic heavy metals and other wastes covered in Annexe-VIII to the Convention.
    6. A legislation has been put in place for management of bio-medical wastes. A time bound action programme has been stipulated for collection and treatment of such wastes in an environmentally sound manner.
    7. A draft legislation for management of municipal solid wastes in the country.






    Union Minister for Agriculture Shri Nitish Kumar today called for a Holistic and Integrated Agricultural Education System in the country for meeting requirements of the next millennium. Inaugurating an International Symposium on "Agricultural Education in next century: Lessons learnt and prospects", here he said next century would be technology driven and quality will be the hallmark. In this process performers will thrive and non-performers would perish. Therefore there is a need to re-orient our Agricultural Education based on experiences gained in the past. Shri Nitish Kumar said our scientists and academicians in the field of Agriculture will strive to develop qualified human resource matching the requirements of the next century.

    Referring to the Indian scenario on the agricultural front the Minister said much of the scientific work done by our scientists and scholars remains in the laboratory rather than being transferred to the actual beneficiaries – the farmers. How can this gap be bridged is indeed a new challenge before all of us? Moreover we are now living in a dynamic inter-dependent world. We can not ignore what is happening around us. Our scientists and educationists in the field of agriculture will have to ponder on this, so that we do not lag behind. Shri Nitish Kumar expressed his concern that Indian farmers are still not getting adequate returns for their produce. He also mentioned about the post harvest losses which can be drastically reduced if necessary efforts are made for proper transport and storage. He was mentioning specially the perishable commodities like fruits and vegetables for which India is second in the world in the field of production . He said we have made revolutionary discoveries in bio-technology which could be utilised fruitfully to develop varieties that have inbuilt resistance to insect pests, have improved nutritional quality, increased yield and increased shelf life. He called upon the participants to deliberate on the whole gamut of agriculture so that this vast country marches ahead into the next millennium with a resolve to fulfil its dream.

    Speaking on the occasion the Minister of State for Agriculture Shri Hukumdeo Narayan Yadav emphasised the need to develop the agricultural education curricula in tune with the requirements of changing times. This would include maintaining standards, faculty improvement and infrastructure development by institutions imparting agricultural education. He hoped the participants will debate and deliberate on various aspects of agricultural education which will help formulating an agricultural education policy to meet the requirements and fulfil the aspirations of millions of our masses.





    Shri Prakash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab called on Shri M. Kanappan, Minister of State for Non-Conventional Energy Sources (Independent Charge) yesterday. They discussed progress of various Renewable Energy Projects indicating the early establishment of Sardar Swarn Singh National Institute of Renewable Energy in Jallandhar. Projects related to Small-Hydro, Solar Photovoltaic, Bio-gas, Co-generation, etc. and their expeditious implementation was also discussed. In the course of meeting, the need of taking up more Renewable Energy Programmes in the State was emphasized.





    The Ministry of Non-Conventional Energy Sources has received proposals from Tamilnadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) for installing three Solar Power Plants in Tamilnadu, details of which are as under:

    In the Wind sector, proposals aggregating to approx. 50 MW are under consideration of Tamilnadu Electricity Board for necessary approvals.

    No proposal has been received for generating more power from ocean energy Tamilnadu.

    TEDA has carried out a Resource Assessment Study to assess potenial of Ago-residues (Agro-wastes) in Dindigul district of Tamilnadu, with financial support from the Ministry. Copies of the Study Report have been given by TEDA to interested private entrepreneurs for preparing/submitting proposals for setting up power generation plants based on the identified agro-wastes in the district. As on date, no proposals has been submitted by any entrepreneur.

    This information was given in the Lok Sabha today by Shri M. Kannappan, Minister of State for Non-Conventional Energy Sources in a written reply to a question by Shri C. Sreenivasan.





    The Union Minister for Agriculture Shri Nitish Kumar today clarified in the Rajya Sabha that the Tenth Finance Commission has not defined a calamity of rare severity but has stated that a calamity of rare severity would necessarily have to be adjudged on a case-to-case basic taking into account, inter-alia, the intensity and magnitude of the calamity, level of relief assistance needed, the capacity of the State to tackle the problem, the alternatives and flexibility available within the plans to provide succour and relief.

    In a written reply the Minister said there is no provision in the recommendations of the TFC that if one-third of the population of a State is affected by natural calamity, the disaster can be termed as "a National calamity of rarest severity". However, the TFC has mentioned that once a calamity is deemed to be of rare severity it ought to be dealt with as a national calamity requiring assistance and support beyond what is envisaged in the Calamity Relief Fund scheme. He said the Government was aware of the severity of the super cyclone that rammed coastal Orissa. Since there is no provision for declaring any calamity as a "National calamity of rarest severity", the question of declaring the disaster in Orissa as such does not arise. However, it is being dealt with as a national calamity, he said.





    The Union Agriculture Minister Shri Nitish Kumar today informed the Rajya Sabha that necessary steps are being taken on warfooting to contain the mandari disease in the coconut crop in Kerala. Replying to a question in the House during question hour he said the centre has discussed with scientists of the ICAR and agricultural universities and other research institutions and efforts are also being made to find out what measures were taken in other countries which fought the disease in the past . Sharing the concern of members from Kerala Shri Nitish Kumar said no efforts will be spared to control the disease endangering coconut cultivation in the country. The Minister informed the members that a steering committee has been formed to review and coordinate the efforts in developing suitable control measures to tackle the problem.





    Steps to improve the National Highways in Karnataka figured prominently in a meeting between the Union Surface Transport Minister, Shri Raj Nath Singh and the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri S.M. Krishna here today.

    The Karnataka Chief Minister sought Centre's help for strengthening the National Highways in his State. He pointed out that though Hubli - Bellary highway had been declared a National Highway, it is still narrow and prone to accidents. Shri S.M. Krishna also explained the advantages that accrue to the region by the strengthening of a road from Solapur in Maharashtra that passes through Chitradurga, Bijapur and mineral rich Hospet.

    In response, the visiting CM was informed that the Centre proposed to take up an ambitious programme for 2-laning of all single-lane National highways during the next year, subject to Budget constraints. The Surface Transport Minister, Shri Raj Nath Singh told the Karnataka Chief Minister that his Ministry is committed to realizing the Prime Minister's ambitious project for strengthening the National Highways. The Karnataka Government was requested to accelerate the pace of utilization of existing allocations for roads during the current year. The need for close monitoring was also stressed.





    The Plan Schemes implemented by the Department for the development of processed food sector envisage financial assistance in the form of soft loan and grant to private industry, Non Governmental Organsiations, Co-operatives, Human Resources Development institutions etc. This information was given in Rajya Sabha today by the Minister of State for Food Processing Indsutries, Shri Syed Shahnawaz Hussain in a written reply.

    The Minister also informed that so far 33 projects in the Private Sector and Non Governmental Organisations have been assisted in Orissa under the Plan schemes of the Department by providing assistance to the tune of Rs. 1.77 crores, approximately.





    The Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee will launch here tomorrow a 100 crore rupee national venture capital fund for the software and the IT industry. This is with a view to provide a boost to the fast growing information technology sector.

    The Fund is being set up by the Ministry of Information Technology in collaboration with the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI) and the Software technology industry. The Fund will be used for providing venture capital to software professionals and IT units in the small scale sector to start their business. The Ministry of Information Technology will contribute Rs. 30 crore, the SIDBI Rs. 50 crore and the IDBI Rs. 20 crore.





    According to a study conducted by Tata Economic Consultancy Service on Fair Price Shops, it has been estimated that the diversion of commodities at national level is about 36% in wheat 31% in rice and 23% in sugar. The estimated diversion in Delhi is 53% each in rice and wheat and 25% in sugar. This information was given in Lok Sabha today by Shri Sriram Chauhan, Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution in reply to a question by Shri Danve Rao Saheb Patil. The Minister also informed the house that the report was forwarded to the States and Union Territories including Delhi for appropriate action so as to eliminate/minimise diversion. The State Governments have been requested to closely monitore PDS at the Fair Price Shop and other levels and to make arrangement for distribution of PDS commodities in a transparent and accountable manner by involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions/activating Vigilance Committees etc. in implementation of PDS.




    The Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Shri E. Ponnuswamy informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply today that Royalty on crude oil is payable at specified rates fixed by the Central Government from time to time pursuant to the provisions of Oil Fields (Regulation and Development) Act - 1948 (ORDA) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Rules, 1959. As per provisions of ORDA, 1948, royalty on crude oil and natural gas can not exceed 20% of the selling price at well-head. According to the earlier Scheme evolved by Central Government in consultation with State Governments, royalty was worked out at 20% of selling price. Selling price was taken as weighted average cost of production of crude oil plus 15% return on capital employed plus cess of Rs. 900/MT. Thus for the period 1993-98, royalty share was 20% of the crude oil price excluding royalty. The last formally notified rate of royalty was Rs. 481/MT w.e.f. 1/4/90. This rate was provisionally revised to Rs. 528/MT for period 1/4/93 to 31/3/96 and has since been revised provisionally to Rs. 539.80/MT. The Government had further fixed "on account" rate of royalty at Rs. 578/MT for period 1/4/96 to 31/3/98. Final rates for these periods, i.e. 1993-96 and 1996-98 will be notified on receipt of audited cost figures from Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) for working out final crude oil prices.

    The above Scheme was applicable till 31/3/98. In the meantime, some of the oil producing States had been seeking revision of the existing royalty rate by linking the royalty amount to international price of crude oil. The State Governments had also been requesting for more frequent revision of royalty amount. In response to these proposals of State Governments and also the dismantling of administered pricing system, abolition of cost pricing of crude oil and introduction of international rates as the gradual basis for pricing of indigenous crude oil, it became necessary to evolve a new Scheme of royalty. Government has initiated requisite steps to evolve this Scheme which will be done in consultation with all concerned, including the State Governments as early as possible. Pending introduction of the new Scheme, both State and Central Governments, were being paid royalty provisionally at Rs. 578/MT w.e.f. 1/4/98. This provisional rate has since been enhanced on 1/12/1999 to Rs. 750/MT or 20% of well-head value of crude oil, whichever is lower, w.e.f. June 1999 onwards.




    The Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas Shri Ram Naik informed the Rajya Sabha in a written reply today that natural gas availability from the South Tapti field has gone up from the peak production rate of 4.2 million standard cubic meters per day (MMSCMD) envisaged in the Production Sharing Contract to the present level of around 5.5 MMSCMD.

    He further stated that it was decided in 1989 to allocate gas from the yet to be developed Mid & South Tapti fields to a power project to be put up at Pipavav and take gas from Gandhar fields to the Hazira-Bijaipur-Jagdishpur (HBJ) pipeline system. However, subsequently keeping in view the fact that the investment decisions to develop Mid and South Tapti fields were yet to be taken, it was agreed to allocate the Gandhar gas for two gas based power projects of 600 MW each in the Gandhar area and to take the gas from Mid & South Tapti fields to meet the existing commitments along the HBJ pipeline system.





    The National Trust for Welfare of the Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disability Bill, 1999 was introduced by Smt. Maneka Gandhi, Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment in Lok Sabha today. The National Trust for the Disabled is proposed to be brought into being, under the Bill. The Trust aims at helping the disabled suffering from Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and other similar disabilities.

    Introducing the Bill Smt. Maneka Gandhi said that the proposed Trust will support the programmes for the disabled including setting up residential centres and homes, day care centres and foster services, facilities for providing counselling to parents and family members, establishing adult training units, individual and group homes. The establishing of Trust will be a landmark step in the service to the disabled. She appealed for the cooperation of the Members for early passage of the Bill.

    The proposed Trust will provide for a system for the appointment of guardians for persons with disability through local level committees. These guardians will be responsible for not only the care of persons with disability but would also report back to the Committee on different aspects of the finances of the person. Institutional mechanism will be brought into place under which the work of all guardians would be monitored. Complaints against guardians would be investigated and action taken to remove them wherever necessary.

    The position about source of finances is that the Central Government would make a one time contribution of Rs. 100 crore to the corpus fund, the income from which would be utilised by the Trust. The Trust may also receive bequest of moveable property from any person. The Trust will also be getting from the Centre any sum of money each year to provide for adequate standard of living for person with disability.

    While the Person with Disability (equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation), Act, 1995 aims at ensuring equal opportunity and full protection and participation of the disabled in various fields of life, it does not provide their economic emancipation and care. The proposed Bill aims at bridging such hiatus. As estimated by some NGOs approximately 2.5 percent of the estimated population in India suffers from mental retardation.





    The objective of the Government is to have liberalised policy on Airport Infrastructure to boost international trade and tourism, provide increasing volume of air traffic ahead of demand, make airports user friendly and ensure total security and safety of aircraft operations and to provide multi-modal linkages, etc. The Ministry is already in the process of planning to give out some of our international airports on long term lease to international operators. This was expressed by the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Prof, Chaman Lal Gupta while delivering the valedictory address at round table conference on "Aeronautics Industry towards Performant Aerial Transport" here, today. Professor Gupta said that the policy towards infrastructure is of a liberal type which encourage green-field airports and commercial activities at airports.

    On the issue of air traffic management, the Minister stated that India is aware of the International Civil Aviation Organisation requirements of going in for ATM/CNS system, based on satellite. There has been tremendous improvement in the equipment and the coverage of air space with radars in country. India has adopted an ‘Open Sky Policy’ on cargo. Cargo aircraft can now go to any customs airport to bring in or take out cargo. This has resulted in substantial improvement in cargo by air, he said.

    Speaking on the issue of improved air services, Prof. Gupta pointed out that there is a competition in the domestic sector which has helped passengers as more and more areas are getting connected. Medium and small areas in the country will also get connected soon by improved and more frequent flights. On the international front, the Government is planning for improvements in both charters as well as in regular flights for which there will be policy statement in the near future, the Minister said.





    The Civil Aviation Minister, Shri Sharad Yadav told in a written reply to Lok Sabha that during the years 1997-98 and 1998-99, Air India has incurred loss of Rs. 181.01 crore and Rs. 174.48 crore respectively, whereas Indian Airlines has earned profits.

    Air India’s losses are due to increase in expenditure on account of interest and depreciation on new aircraft, reduction in yield due to increased competition and cost of operations, increase in wage bill and other staff costs and landing, handling and navigational charges, depreciation of rupee value, etc.

    Air India has taken following steps to improve its financial performance:

    1. Marketing efforts have been stepped up to generate additional revenue;
    2. Network rationalization and consolidation with emphasis placed on route profitability;
    3. Reduction in expenditure on outside repairs of aircraft by undertaking more in-house repairs;
    4. Several posts of India based officers abroad have been abolished
    5. Freeze on external recruitment in non-operational categories
    6. Two voluntary schemes have been notified viz. shorter working week scheme and leave without pay/allowances scheme for a period of two years extendable upto five years
    7. Introduction of Automated Revenue yield Management Systems(ARMS) and curtailment of advertisement and publicity budget.

    The Disinvestment Commission in its VIII Report on Air India has inter-alia recommended infusion of Government equity of Rs. 1000 crore and induction of a strategic partner on the basis of global bids. The recommendations of the Commission are under consideration of the Government.

    For improvement of its financial position further, Indian Airlines has also taken various steps such as increased utilisation of aircraft, deployment of capacity on the criteria of economics and traffic demand, marketing initiatives, improvement in customer services and various cost cutting measures to reduce expenditure such as freeze on capital expenditure etc.





    The Y2K readiness on systems and equipment at the airports have been completed after a thorough Y2K assessment followed by necessary renovation of the affected systems and confirming Y2K compliance by vendors certification. This was followed by in-house testing of systems and audit by external agencies which has also been completed. The Passenger Facilitation Services at International & Domestic airports & all Communication, Navigation, Landing & Surveillance systems of the Airports Authority of India including Radars at Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Trivandrum, Ahmedabad, Calcutta & Guwahati airports are Y2K ready. Contingency Plans for the airports and Air Traffic Services & Routes have been finalised and personnel given training to ensure uninterrupted and safe flights during the roll-over period.

    The Action programme comprising of the following elements have been completed:

  1. Assessment & Inventory Listing of equipments & systems completed by December, 1998.
  2. Renovation/Replacement completed by March, 1999.
  3. Vendors Certification completed by June, 1999.
  4. In-house testing completed by September, 1999.
  5. External Audit by Electronics Corporation of India Limited completed in October, 1999. External Audit by ICAO experts commenced on 29 November, 1999 and is to be completed by 14th December, 1999.
  6. Contingency Plans prepared by September, 1999 and training of personnel is in progress.

    This information was given by the Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri Sharad Yadav in written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, today.





    There is no proposal under consideration to reduce the age of retirement of Central Government employees. The age of retirement has no one-to-one relationship with the employment opportunities and as such the increase in age of retirement has not affected the overall employment market. Even prior to increase in age of retirement, large number of employees of the Central Government belonging to Group ‘D’ and workmen category; pre-1969 bank employees; scientific and technical personnel, school teachers and a section of doctors used to retire at the age of 60 years. The vacancies in these cadres continue to be available for fresh recruitment further reducing the impact on unemployment.

    Based on the recommendations of the Fifth Central Pay Commission relating to the increase in age of retirement of Central Government employees from 58 years to 60 years, the Government, after taking into account this recommendation and all other relevant factors like fiscal relief to the tune of about Rs. 5,200 crores in a full year for two years on account of postponement of pensionary benefits, increasing trend of late marriages and longer education span, expectations of SC/ST and OBC employees, world-wide trend to raise the age of retirement, impact on employment opportunities, etc., decided to accept the recommendations of the Fifth Central Pay Commission and raised the age of retirement of the employees of the Central Government.

    This information was given by the Minister of State in the Department of Personnel and Training Smt. Vasundhara Raje in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.






    The Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Shri Babu Lal Marandi has emphasised the need for sustainable life-styles by people for sustainable and equitable development. Inaugurating the Workshop on Environmental Education for Sustainable Future, here today, Shri Marandi observed that reversing unsustainable life-styles, attitudes and values of people as well as unsustainable policies of the government are inherently complex and politically difficult tasks which cannot be achieved without the support of the people.

    "Unless members of a society are sensitized to perceive the various ramifications and interlinkages between environment, economics, politics and development, we shall not be able to secure their support and participation in practicing environmentally benign development process. This sensitivity cannot be achieved overnight; neither can it be a one time exercise. Environment education, therefore, has to be a constant process, touching people from all sections of a society", the Minister said.

    Shri Marandi stated that government’s endeavour would continue to be directed towards strengthening and enlarging the existing schemes and programmes on environmental education and awareness creation. He invited NGOs and community groups to come forward and contribute to the noble cause of environmental conservation and management.





    It was only in 1998 that for the first time the Central Ground Water Authority advised carrying out of systematic survey for determining the presence of heavy metals in ground water in Delhi. A joint team of Central Ground Water Board and Central Pollution Control Board carried out systematic water sampling from shallow hand pups and tube wells over 203 sites in six blocks of the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi based on which preliminary statement has been made about the presence of heavy metals like Cadmium, Chromium, Lead, Iron and Zinc in ground water of Delhi. Areas found polluted in Delhi are given below:

Name of the Block Name of the Pollutants exceeding permissible limits
Alipur Fluoride, Nitrate, Chromium, Iron, Total Coliform
Kanjhawala Fluoride, Nitrate, Lead, Cadmium, Iron, Total Coliform
Najafgarh Fluoride, Nitrate, Cadmium, Lead, Iron, Total Coliform
Mehrauli Chromium, Iron, Total Coliform
City Fluoride, Nitrate, Chromium, Iron, Total Coliform
Shahadra Nitrate, Chromium, Iron, Total Coliform

    In the water sampling carried out by the Central Ground Water Board in collaboration with the Central Pollution Control Board in the NCT Delhi for bacteriological contamination, faecal coliform was detected in 16 water samples out of 269 samples tested.





    The Centre will send a high-level team of experts to study the problems of labourers in various States. This was stated by the Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee while intervening during the question hour in the Rajya Sabha today. He said that proposed team will collect information about the implementation of various labour related acts and report back to the Government. Shri Vajpayee roes to speak when the House was discussing a supplementary question on the working conditions of women workers in the fish processing industry. The Prime Minister said that he is personally aware of the difficulties faced by women workers regarding working conditions, security and other related issues in various States particularly when they shift to other States for employment.

    Replying to the main question, the Labour Minister Dr. Satyanarayan Jatiya said that the Centre will ask the State Governments to ensure strict implementation of Labour Laws enacted for the welfare of the workers. The Minister said that the workers in the fish processing industry are already covered under the Legislations like Minimum Wages Act, Inter-State Migrant Workers ( Regulation of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, Workmen’s Compensation Act and Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition Act). He said that the welfare of the workers including minimum wage fixation is the responsibility of the State Governments.