Shri Sharat Chandra Gupta, Commissioner of Railway Safety, Central Circle, Mumbai held a Statutory Inquiry under Section 114 of the Railway Act, 1989 into "The Incidence of Outbreak of Fire in Six Second Class Sleeper Coaches of 2137 Dn Mumbai-Firozepur Punjab Mail at Km. 456/12-18 between Duskheda and Savda Stations of Bhusaval-Khandwa 25 KV AC Electrified Double Line Broad Gauge Section in Bhusaval Division of Central Railway at about 3.33 hours on February 19,2000". As a result of this accident, 18 passengers were burnt to death, 1 passenger suffered grievous injuries and 14 passengers simple injuries.

    According to the Provisional Findings of the Commissioner, appended to his Preliminary Report, this incidence occurred due to ‘Failure of other than Railway Staff’ possibly due to inadvertent negligence of a smoking passenger.

    The Commissioner of Railway Safety had also made a few immediate recommendations to improve the element of safety in railway passenger trains inclusive of deployment of adequate travelling ticket examining staff according to scale laid down and tightening of supervision by Train Superintendents/Conductors, besides frequent patrolling of coaches by Security Staff travelling in the train.

    These findings and immediate recommendations are under consideration of the Government of India.





    In pursuance of the orders of the Delhi High Court dated January 15,1999 and May 14, 1999, the Government has framed a scheme for constitution of a permanent and continuous Lok Adalats for the Ministries/Departments of the Government of India located in Delhi for the purpose of resolution of disputes between the Government of India and its employees and private persons.

    The Delhi High Court vide its order dated January 15,1999 read with its subsequent order dated May 14,1999 had emphasised the necessity for setting up permanent and continuous Lok Adalats to reduce the pendency in courts. According to the High Court, "Since a Lok Adalat is presided over by a sitting or retired judge or judicial officer, it evokes instant acceptability and creditability.

    This information was given by the Law Minister Shri Ram Jethmalani in reply to a question from Shri Dilip Singh Judev in the Rajya Sabha today.





    The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 1997 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on 14th August, 1997. The Provisions of the said Bill are based on the recommendations made by Justice Malimath Committee, 129th Report of the Law Commission, Committee on Subordinate Legislation (11th Lok Sabha) in its first Report and the Resolution adopted in the law Ministers’ Conference held on 30th June 1997 and 1st July, 1997 at New Delhi. The Said Bill was referred for examination and report to the Department Related Standing Committee on Home Affairs. The Committee invited objections and suggestions from various forums including Bar Council of India, State Bar Councils, District Bar Associations etc. The objections and suggestions received from various quarters were considered by the said Committee. The Committee Presented its Report to the Parliament on December 17,1998 which was considered and accepted by the Government. The said Bill as recommended by the said Committee has been passed by both the Houses and become the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Act, 1999.

    This information was given by the Law Minister Shri Ram Jethmalani in reply to a question from S/Shri Sanatan Bisi, Ramdas Agarwal and V.N. Gadgil in the Rajya Sabha today.





    Politicians, as such, have not been given any special treatment vis--vis commom man so far as the issue of disqualification on conviction for offences is concerned. The Representation of the People Act, 1951, Section 8 thereof, already contains provisions for disqualifying a person on conviction for certain offence. Government is, however, committed to further strengthen the provisions, as part of its overall agenda on reform of electoral laws, so as to check entry of corrupt and criminal elements in the electoral politics. Amendment in electoral laws is, however, a serious and contentious subject and, therefore, considerable time and attention are being given to it. It is, therefore, not possible to give any time frame in this regard.

    This information was given by the Law Minister Shri Ram Jethmalani in reply to a question from S/Shri C.P. Thirunavukkarasu and V.P. Duraisamy in the Rajya Sabha today.





    A Bill, namely, the Constitution (Seventy-ninth Amendment) Bill, 1992 seeking to disqualifying a person being chosen as, and for being , a Member of a House of Parliament or Legislature of a State for having more than two children so as to promote population control and small family norm was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on December 22,1992 by the then Government. The Bill is still pending for consideration and passing by that House.

    This information was given by the Law Minister Shri Ram Jethmalani in reply to a question from Shri Eduardo Faleiro in the Rajya Sabha today.

MYS : NC : RJ14-3-4





    Appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court of India is made under Article 24 of the Constitution of India which does not provide for reservation for any caste of class of persons.

    There is no proposal at present for incorporating in the Constitution of India a clause providing for reservation of SC/STs in the matter of appointment of Judges of the Supreme Court of India. But almost every communication to the Chief Justices of High Courts emphasises this aspect.

    This information was given by the Law Minister Shri Ram Jethmalani in reply to a question from Shri Sukhdev Singh Libra in the Rajya Sabha today.





    The Government is committed to bring necessary reforms in electoral laws. The proposals in this regard are, however, still in the process of taking concrete shape and , therefore, it would be pre-mature to divulge the details. Amendment in electoral laws is a serious and contentious subject and, therefore, considerable time and attention are being given to it.

    Some disqualification provisions are harsh and are being looked into.

    This information was given by the Law Minister Shri Ram Jethmalani in reply to a question from Shri Sanjay Nirupam in the Rajya Sabha today.





    The two-day All-India Marketing Convention of Paradeep Phosphates Ltd. (PPL) begins tomorrow. The Minister of Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri Suresh Prabhu will be the Chief Guest at the inaugural session of the convention and the Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Shri Ramesh Bais will be the Chief Guest at the plenary session.

    PPL is the largest DAP fertilizer producing plant in the country and comes under the administrative control of the Department of Fertilizers in the Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers. Located at Paradeep, district Jagatsinghpur in Orissa, the plant has been developed in two phases.

    PPL commenced its commercial production in 1986. Initially the sales of the company were made through marketers. Subsequently, however, the marketing department was established consisting of regional offices and a trained field force and the company started distributing its products through private dealers and institutional agencies.

    Today the company has a well established and wide marketing network covering major states. From an initial sales figure of 1.43 lakh MT of indigenous DAP during 1986-87, sales have gradually increased and touched a peak of 7.54 lakh MT during 1998-99.





    The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam has said that Ayurveda has great relevance and it is necessary to develop and propagate its basic strength and potentialities. Speaking on the occasion of the Sixth Convocation of Rashtriya Ayurveda Vidhyapeeth and Valedictory function of National Conference on "AIDS and Ayurveda", here today, the Minister said that the credibility of any system depends largely on the quality of physicians and the efficacious quantitative drugs.

    The Minister said that standardisation of drugs will enhance credibility and public acceptance domestically and internationally. He said that good manufacturing practices for Indian System of Medicine drugs are at the final stage of notification. Public testing laboratories are being identified to certify presence of main ingredients and absence of non permissible chemical ingredients to satisfy the consumer about the quality, he said.

    The Minister said that the Government is totally against the mushroom growth of sub-standard colleges and this has been brought to the notice of the State Governments and the Central Council of Indian Medicine. But, at the same time the Government extends support to several deserving colleges so that they can fill in critical gaps in infrastructure, he said.

    The Minister hoped that a lot of scientific data and clinical experience of Vaidyas on AIDS and Ayurvedic Medicines, shared in the Conference would be disseminated to the practitioners of Indian Systems of Medicines for the welfare of ailing people.

    Shri Brihaspati Dev Triguna, Smt. Shailaja Chandra, Secretary, Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy, Dr. P.N.V.Kurup, Vice-Chancellor of Gujarat Ayurved University and others participated in the function.





    The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shamugam has called upon the medical fraternity, non-governmental organisations and private sector to join hands in the formidable task of controlling blindness. Speaking on the occasion of the 33rd Foundation Day function of Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, here today, the Minister said that the present need is not only to address to the common causes of blindness but also other potentially blinding diseases and to create adequate, accessible and affordable infrastructure for the same.

    The Minister said that blindness has profound human and socio-economic consequences in all societies. With an estimated 12 million blind persons in the country, the cost of maintenance of blind is Rs.4,320 crore annually and the loss of production is estimated to be Rs.8,640 crore during the same period. Providing timely eye care services can reduce these costs, said the Minister.

    The Minister said that there are nearly 180 million people in the world with some degree of visual impairment and to these 1-2 million cases are added every year. Unfortunately, nearly a sixth of the blind people live in India, said the Minister. He said that the need of the hour is a proportional blend of high quality, need based, result oriented, time bound research with appropriate tertiary eye care.

    Prof. P.K.Dave, Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Prof. M. C.Maheshwari, Dean, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Prof. V.K.Dada, Chief, Dr. Rajendra Prasad Centre for Ophthalmic Sciences, Prof. H.K.Tewari, Professor of Ophthalmology, Dr. Gopal, Secretary, Ophthalmic Research Association participated in the function.




Rajya Sabha


    The Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Shri Sharad Yadav in a written reply to a question asked by Shri Dipankar Mukherjee and Shri Nilotpal Basu in Rajya Sabha today stated that consultancy bids were invited on global basis to select bidders who are well experienced and having technical expertise in the field to provide inputs regarding the complex financial issues like due diligence, valuation of assets, sales memorandum preparation, etc. connected with privatisation of airports through long-term lease.

    After evaluation of technical and cost proposals, the consortium comprising of M/s KPMG India, Bank of America, Mumbai, C.B. Richard Ellis South Asia Private Limited, New Delhi and Rail India Technical and Economic Services Limited (RITES), New Delhi has been selected for appointment as Financial Consultant. One of the criteria for selected was that foreign consultant must have a tie up with an Indian Consultant.




    The recently constituted National Innovation Foundation has been entrusted with the task of compiling a Register of grass root innovations besides striving for the promotion of intellectual property of such innovations. It will also work towards the setting up of incubators for converting such innovations into a viable business opportunity and help in the dissemination of the same across the country.

    The foundation will function like an autonomous body and will have the freedom and flexibility to scout and support the grass root innovators in the country. The Foundation will be located at Ahmedabad. It is expected that the leadership provided in promoting grass root innovators through the existing Honey Bee, SRISTI Network of innovators and an entrepreneurial culture will help nurture and diffuse innovative ethos in India.

    The Foundation with a initial corpus of Rs. 20 crore has been registered as a society in Ahmedabad. The first meeting of its Governing Body was held in New Delhi last week under the chairmanship of Dr. R. A. Mashelkar, DG, CSIR. The other members of the Governing body are Prof. V. S. Ramamurthy, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology; Dr. Vijay Kelkar, Executive Director, International Monetary Fund; Dr. EAS Sarma, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs; Dr. R. S. Paroda, Secretary, DARE & DG, ICAR; Shri Inderjit Khanna, Chief Secretary, Govt. of Rajasthan; Prof. Kuldeep Mathur, Centre for Political Studies JNU; Shri L. N. S. Mukundan, Chief Secretary, Govt. of Gujarat, Ms. Lalita D. Gupte, Joint Managing Director, ICCI Ltd.; Shri G. Anand Mahindra, Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.; Prof. J. L. Saha, Director, Indian Institute of Management; Shri T. P. Vartak, President, Four Eyes Foundation; Prof. Anil K. Gupta, President, SRISTI and Professor Indian Institute of Management.






    The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam has informed Lok Sabha today in a written reply that his Ministry has proposed to take up pilot projects to augment and upgrade the accident and emergency services in selected State Government hospitals which fall in most accident prone areas of National Highways.

    All State & Union Territory Governments have been requested to select one town/ city located on a National Highway and prepare a project for upgradation and strengthening of emergency facilities of a State sector hospital for consideration of financial assistance.






    The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam has informed Lok Sabha today in a written reply that the government has approved the expansion of the ongoing World Bank assisted India Population Project-VIII, currently under implementation in the cities of Bangalore, Calcutta, Delhi and Hyderabad to 94 additional cities/ towns in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal. Besides, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have also been covered for improvement of the logistic facilities.

    The total cost of the project has been revised from Rs.223.37 crore to Rs.422.01 crore and the project period extended upto 30.6.2001.

    The State-wise population covered under the revised IPP-VIII prject is as under:

State Population covered (in lakhs)
Andhra Pradesh 35.35
Karnataka 27.71
West Bengal 46.71
Delhi 12.50
Uttar Pradesh Entire State
Tamil Nadu Entire State






    The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam has said that a departmental group of officers drawn from concerned Ministries/ Departments and some of the State Governments has been set up to review the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. The first meeting of the group was held on 1-2nd March, 2000. The PFA Act, 1954 was enacted with the objective of ensuring pure and wholesome food to the consumers. This Act was amended thrice in 1964, 1976 and 1986 for removing loopholes and making the punishment more stringent.

    The Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Shri N.T.Shanmugam has given this information in a written reply in Lok Sabha.





    Emphasising the historical relations based on sound foundations between India and Saudi Arabia Shri Syed Shahnawaz Hussain thanked Mr. Ayad Bin Ahmed Madani, Minister of Haj, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on behalf of 15 million Muslims of India and the country for increasing the Haj quota from 91,000 for Haj 1999 to 1,20,000 for Haj 2000 and for acceptance of decrease in the transportation changes. He congratulated Mr. Madani for making Haj preparations and praised the expansion project of the two Holy Mosques.

    Mr. Madani acceded to the request of Shri Hussain to convey the best wishes of Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to the custodian of the two Holy Mosques.

    MOS reaffirmed that second largest Muslim population in India are not only the largest minority but share an equal partnership in the progress and development of the country and are free to follow and propagate their religion.

    Mr. Madani urged MOS to help the Saudi authorities in the controlled movement of pilgrims in phases to eliminate chances of stampede. Clarifying the point raised by Shri Hussain Minister of Haj said that due to physical impossibility of adjusting the number of pilgrims in the valley of Mina and the approval of Alims in the form of Fatwa, many of the Maktabs are outside the periphery of Mina.

    Expressing his high regards for Muslims of India and all the Indians Mr. Madani said that loyalty and service to the country is of utmost importance and is also proper Islamic way.

    Shri Hussain was accompanied by Ambassador, Mr. Telmiz Ahmad, Mr. Tanvir Haider Usmani, MLC, Mr. Hasan Khan MP(Kargil), Moulana Barkari, Imam, Tipu Sultan Mosque, Calcutta for the calling on.






    Chairing the consultative committee on the subject "Agricultural Marketing and Post Harvest Management of Agricultural and Horticulture Produce" Shri Sundar Lal Patwa, Union Minister for Agriculture stated that vigorous efforts are required to encourage the application of modern science and technology in post harvest management practices. The present situation calls for efficient use of all the resources at our command and strengthening and modernising the post harvest management practices and for removing the present weaknesses in our system, he added.

    The Minister stated that in its resolve to launch a major initiative to develop storage and cold storage facilities, the Government of India has recently approved a Scheme of "Capital Investment Subsidy for Construction/Expansion/Modernisation of Cold Storages and Storages for Horticulture Produce". The scheme envisages provision of a back-ended capital investment subsidy to the extent of 25% of the project, subject to a maximum of Rs.50 lakhs by the National Horticulture Board for construction, expansion and modernisation of cold storages and storages. In case of North Eastern States, the subsidy would be 33 1/3% subject to a maximum of Rs.60 lakhs per project.

    Shri Patwa said that it is significant that food processing of agricultural produce at micro-level is also popularised. This will ensure both conservation of foodgrains, and value-addition for the benefit of individual or groups of small farmers.

    Shri Patwa informed that agriculture provides livelihood to more than two-thirds of the country’s population and contributes about one-fourth to the Gross Domestic Product. The production of foodgrains has increased from 50.82 million tonnes in 1950-51 to a peak level of 203 million tonnes in 1998-99. Self-sufficiency has been achieved as a result of continuous and sustained efforts of the Central Government, State Governments, research institutions, and most of all by the hard work done by the Indian farmers.

    The subject of Agricultural Marketing was transferred to the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation in December, 1999 from the Ministry of Rural Development. The Department of Agriculture and Cooperation has proposed to take up 4 new schemes for strengthening and further developing the agricultural marketing system which has assumed great significance. We are awaiting the approval of the Planning Commission for these schemes. The Directorate of Marketing and Inspection (DMI) has also set up a network of Agmark Laboratories all over the country for testing and grading various agricultural commodities, which help in the process of marketing of quality products to the consumers. The State Governments have a crucial role to play in the development of Agricultural Marketing. The Directorates of Marketing and State Agricultural Marketing Boards are the principal agencies involved in the development of agricultural marketing infrastructure.

    In view of the considerable post harvest losses of agricultural and horticultural produce in the country, there is an urgent need to pay greater attention to post harvest management practices. Agencies like State Agro Industries Corporations, Agricultural Marketing Produce Committees (APMCs), Marketing Boards/committees etc. at State level and Directorate of Marketing & Inspection(DMI), National Horticulture Board(NHB), NCDC, APEDA, Department of Food Processing Industries at the national level are involved in promoting the establishment of post-harvest infrastructure to cut down losses.

    Replying to the suggestions and concerns of various members of the consultative committee about the problems being faced by the farmers of their respective states, Shri Bhaskar Barua, Secretary (Agriculture & Cooperation) said that NAFED has already exported one lakh fourty thousand tonnes of onions to check the price fall of Nasik onion produce. Ministry experts will be sent to suggest and make concerted efforts to increase rice production in Bastar and Srikakulam districts as suggested by Shri K.P. Singhdeo M.P. To a suggestion of Shri K.A Sanatam, MP from Nagaland, it was stated that for North Eastern states increased subsidy for the construction, expansion and modernisation of cold storages and storages would be 33 1/3 per cent subject to a maximum of Rs. 60 lakhs per project. Popular schemes initiated by Andhra Pradesh are worth replicating, he said. Organically produced spices in Kerala by a NGO are being provided required necessary assistance by the Ministry.






    The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has recommended close regional co-operation amongst countries for measures to check desertification. Within this framework, the Regional Action Programme for Asia has identified six Thematic Programme Network areas. India will host the Thematic Programme Network – (TPN-2) on "Agroforestry and Soil Conservation in Arid, Semi-arid and Dry Sub-humid areas". The launch meeting of this Network was inaugurated by Minister for Environment and forests Shri T.R Baalu, here today.

    TPN-2 on ‘Agroforestry and Soil Conservation’ aims at curtailing the process of deforestation and watershed degradation through the development, dissemination and promotion of traditional and new technologies in the areas of agroforestry and soil conservation, which are economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable. The specific objective of this project is to launch TPN-2 in such a manner that the network will be self-sustaining at the end of the project period in all the member countries participating in the network.

    Inaugurating the launch meeting of the TPN-2, Shri Baalu said that a comprehensive inter-sectoral watershed development approach with the people’s participation would slow down the desertification process and minimise the adverse effects of drought. He observed that despite various measures and the strong R&D base in the agricultural sector, about one-third of the country is subjected to land degradation process. The success of the efforts depend upon building strong linkages with on-going development process. Reiterating Government’s commitment to address critical issues such as poverty and food security, agricultural production systems and technology development, Shri Baalu called for treating the problem of land degradation as a separate focal area for action.

    In his welcome address, Secretary, Environment & Forests Shri Vishwanath Anand said that the TPN on "Agroforestry and Soil Conservation" with the objective of addressing problems of land degradation would help curtail the process of deforestation and watershed degradation in the desertified areas through incorporation of appropriate technologies for different problems of land degradation.

    In the Indian context, of the total geographical area of about 329 mha, approximately 174 mha (53%) are subject to moderate to severe form of degradation. The deterioration is particularly severe in the rural areas adversely affecting the socio-economic conditions. Two-thirds of the area requires special treatment to restore such land to productive and profitable use. About 107.12 mha (61%) of the total geographical area is affected by water erosion resulting in severe loss of top soil and fertility. Wind erosion (17.79 mha) is dominant in the desert areas of Rajasthan and in the Western Ghats affecting about 3.18% of the land area causing loss of top soil and shifting of sand dunes, resulting in dust storms. Degradation of forests covers 19.49 mha (representing 11.20%) and shifting cultivation accounts for 4.19 mha (2.82%). Water logging is observed in about 8.52 mha (4.89%) which includes areas affected by flooding where forests have been cut in the catchment areas. Salt afflicted areas comprise 7.61 mha (4.37%).

    The Ministry of Environment and Forests is the nodal Ministry for implementing the UNCCD in India. It is being assisted by Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR) and its Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI) at Jodhpur in the establishment of the Network for Asia Region. Dignitaries and technical representatives from twelve countries of Asia, the UNCCD Secretariat at Bonn and from international agencies like the UNDP, FAO and World Bank are participating in the meeting.





    Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) has been implemented in the Steel Plants under Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL) during 1986-1993, 1998 and 1999. However, the scheme was not implemented in the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. The Scheme of VRS operation by SAIL during 1998 and 1999 was of deferred payment basis.

    During 1999 more than 12000 SAIL employees availed voluntary retirement whereas their number was 5,220 during 1998. 3,397 persons of Bhilai Steel Plant and 3,184 people from Durgapur Steel Plant availed the Scheme during 1999. During this year 2619 people from Rourkela Steel Plant 1,233 from Bokaro Steel Plant 1,529 from Alloy Steel Plant and 61 from Salem Steel Plant, took voluntary retirement. From 1986-1993 nearly 17,500 persons availed voluntary retirement scheme, from above mentioned Steel Plants.







    The Ministry of Civil Aviation has been asked to constitute a team immediately to conduct surprise checks at important airports to obtain first hand information about the customer services.

    A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Standing Committee of Secretaries for Public Grievance Redress, chaired by Cabinet Secretary, Shri Prabhat Kumar. The Committee also recommended that the Citizens' charter for Air India should be reviewed and that those for the Indian Airlines and the Airport Authority of India should be finalised expeditiously. Steps should be taken to compile, monitor and analyse grievance data of the subordinate formations in order to identify the scope for systemic changes. Special emphasis should be laid on providing passenger facilities at airports.

    Reviewing the grievance redressal mechanism of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the Committee also desired that the grievances appearing in newspapers should be investigated for prompt action and, wherever necessary, a rejoinder should be issued to the newspaper. The Committee was of the view that the public grievance redress machinery of the Ministry of Civil Aviation should be reviewed by the Secretary and may be considered for review at the Minister's level too.

    In the light of decisions taken at previous meetings, the Cabinet Secretary has addressed all the Secretaries to ensure greater accessibility of the senior officers, particularly the Joint Secretary level officers, and to review the pendency of grievances during their weekly meeting with the officers.

    The Standing Committee was informed that measures were being taken to publicise the guidelines on Grievance Redress Mechanisms and the Citizens' Charters issued by various Central agencies.

    The Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, informed the Committee that the airlines have taken several citizen-friendly measures, such as tele-check-in, return and through check, arrangements for information dissemination to passengers and for transit accommodation etc. Citizens' Charter for Air India has been issued. Systemic changes are being introduced to make travel, traffic control and maintenance easier. Air India and Hotel Corporation of India have installed websites which are to be made increasingly interactive. Kiosks are proposed to be set up at airports for dissemination of information and to lodge grievances. The Ministry is also working on a scheme to set up Customer Service Centres at airports in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism.

    The guidelines issued by the Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances from time to time for strengthening the public grievance redress mechanism of the Central Government Ministries and Departments inter alia comprise: designating a Joint Secretary level officer as Director of Public and Staff Grievances: fixing and publicising norms for acknowledgement and disposal of grievances as well as services; maintaining statistical data regarding receipt and disposal of grievances; installation of the standard software for monitoring of grievance redress mechanism; publishing public grievance redress data in the Annual Reports of the Ministries/Departments; monitoring public grievance redress mechanism in subordinate formations and autonomous organisations: analysing grievances to identify areas of recurring grievances in order to bring about systemic changes to reduce their recurrence; preparing Citizens' Charters; setting up Information and Facilitation Counters outside the security zone; measuring citizens satisfaction; setting up a complaints committee for women employees; simplifying rules and procedures etc.

    The Standing Committee of Secretaries for Public Grievance Redress was constituted in 1998. It is chaired by the Cabinet Secretary. Its other members are Chairman, Railway Board, and Secretaries of the Ministries/Departments of Personnel, Posts and Consumer Affairs, Secretary (Co-ordination and Public Grievances), Cabinet Secretariat, the Director General of the National Informatics Centre, and the Principal Information Officer. In the first instance, it has identified 28 Ministries/Departments with a large public interface for detailed review. Since September 1999, the Committee has been meeting on a monthly basis to conduct the review. It has so far reviewed 21 Ministries/Departments, prominent among them being Ministries of Railways, External Affairs, Home Affairs, Finance, Defence, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Surface Transport, Tourism, Information & Broadcasting, Environment & Forests, Commerce, Urban Development, and the Department of Telecommunications, Posts and Company Affairs.





    The President is pleased to appoint Shri Justice Sam Nariman Variava, Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and Shri Justice Shivaraj Virupanna Patil, Chief Justice of the Rajasthan High Court, to be Judges of the Supreme Court of India, in that order of seniority, with effect from the date they assume charge of their respective office.





    The Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Shri Arun Jaitley has called for taking the movement for political and economic empowerment of women to the all sections of society. He said, this is an idea whose time has come and it cannot be suppressed for long. He advised the women organisations not to make it as a man versus woman debate to avoid its negative outcome.

    Shri Jaitley was addressing a seminar on Political and Economic Empowerment of Women organised here today by the Women’s Association for Development Alternatives.

    Referring to the reservation for women in Legislatures, Shri Jaitley said that it is just a matter of time and cannot be denied for long. He said, political reservation is not an end in itself and it should not generate reverse discrimination. The objective of reservation is to achieve equality in the society, he said.





    The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting today finalised the bidding for another thirteen FM channels to be operated by private companies. New Media B’casting Pvt. Ltd. bagged the licence to operate FM channel at Mysore for Rs. 152 lakhs, Panaji for Rs.415 lakhs, Patna for Rs. 475 lakhs, Pune for Rs. 530 lakhs and Raipur for Rs.22 lakhs. Music B’cast Co. Pvt. Ltd. got Nagpur for Rs. 740 lakhs and also Patna for Rs. 475 lakhs. Observer Network Pvt. Ltd. also got the licence for Panaji for Rs. 415 lakhs and Pune for 530 lakhs. The other companies which got the licence for Pune are, Bennet Coleman & Co. Pvt. Ltd., Hindustan B’casting Pvt. Ltd., Dhun Radio Pvt. Ltd. and Modi Entertainment Pvt. Ltd.

    The period for licence would be ten years from the date of issue of operational licence by the Wireless Coordination Committee, but the amount mentioned is for the first year with a provision for 15 per cent increase every year.






    Rajya Sabha was informed today that the Brahmaputra Board has prepared Master Plans aimed at integrated development of the Water Resources of all major rivers and tributaries in the Brahmaputra and Barak Valleys for flood moderation, removal of drainage congestion, prevention of erosion, hydropower generation, irrigation and navigation. These Master Plans have been sent to the North Eastern States for implementation by the State Governments from the funds allocated under State Plan. For moderating flood and exploiting irrigation and power resources, the Board has also undertaken investigation for preparation of Detailed Project Reports of Multipurpose Projects on Dihang, Subansiri, Pagladiya, Kameng, Debang, Kulsi, Jadukata, Someswari, Bairabi, Lohit, Noa-Dehing, and Tipaimukh rivers identified in the Master Plans. Detailed Project Reports for Pagladiya and Tipaimukh Dam have been completed by Brahmaputra Board.

    Three hydroelectric power projects namely Doyang (Nagaland), Ranganadi (Arunachal Pradesh) and Rangit (Sikkim) with a total installed capacity of 548 MW have been identified for implementation during IX Plan.

    Two hydroelectric power projects namely, Kopili (Assam) and Loktak (Manipur) with a total installed capacity of 355 MW have already been commissioned for power generation.

    This was informed by Smt. Bijoya Cakravarty, Union Minister of State for Water Resources in reply to a question from the Hon’ble Member, Shri Drupad Borgohain in the Rajya Sabha here today.






    The Rajya Sabha was informed today that during the last three years the Union Government has released funds to the participating State Governments under the Command Area Development Programme depending upon their performance.

    The details of funds released to the State Government of Orissa under the programme are as follows :-

(Rs. in lakh)
1996-97 353.99
1997-98 231.47
1998-99 774.40
Current year (till date) 365.28

    The targets fixed and the progress achieved by the State Government of Orissa from 1996-97 to 1998-99 under the core components of on-farm development works of the programme are as follows :-

(in ‘000 ha)

Target Achievement Target Achievement Target Achievement
1996-97 13.00 18.66 11.40 8.23 60.00 0.00
1997-98 6.80 7.00 5.00 5.06 14.00 15.00
1998-99 7.10 12.89 5.10 3.96 70.00 13.00

    This was informed by Smt. Bijoya Cakravarty, Union Minister of State for Water Resources in reply to a question from Hon’ble Member Shri Rahasbihari Barik in the Rajya Sabha here today.






    Rajya Sabha was informed today that the land productivity can be considerably increased through proper water management and location-specific drainage works in the land affected by water-logging.

    Government of India have formulated a number of schemes which are being implemented through the State Governments. Indian Council of Agricultural Research is conducting researches to develop technologies on efficient water management including drainage and suggesting the State Governments for adoptation.

    The schemes on Soil and Water Conservation in the catchments of river valley projects and soil and water conservsation in the catchments of flood-prone rivers are being implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture for proper management of land and water resources. Another scheme of Ministry of Agriculture is the National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas, which also envisages proper land and water management.

    The Ministry of Water Resources has initiated many programmes/measures which include : i) A National Perspective Plan for Water Resources Development; ii) Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme; iii) Command Area Development Programme; iv) Extension, Renovation and Maintenance of projects etc. to harness and properly manage available water resources.

    The performance of different programmes is monitored through progress reports received from different State Governments, periodical meetings and field visits. In addition, Government also periodically engage monitoring and evaluation agencies to ascertain progress of the programmes.

    This was informed by Smt. Bijoya Cakravarty, Union Minister of State for Water Resources in reply to a question from the Hon’ble Member, Shri Narendra Mohan in the Rajya Sabha here today.






    Rajya Sabha was informed today that the Government of India had constituted a High-Level Committee under the Chairmanship of the then Union Minister of State for Water Resources to examine the feasibility and scope of private Sector Participation in Irrigation and Multi-purpose Projects. The Committee submitted its Report in December, 1995. The important recommendations of the Committee in brief are as follows:-

  1. Investigation, obtaining techno-economic, environmental (including resettlement and rehabilitation) any investment clearances should be carried out by governmental organisations.
  2. Land should be encumbrance-free.
  3. Overall development and safety of the structures should be ensured.
  4. In the case of command area development programme, private sector participation could be upto bulk supply of water to Water Users’ Association.
  5. Exact type of participation may be decided by the States. Period of lease could be 20-30 years, after which the projects should be transferred to the Government Department.
  6. Funding could be through promoter’s equity in full or partly by the State and financial institutions.
  7. Private Party should be assured of a minimum quantity of water at agreed rate because of value addition to water.
  8. Reservoir working table prepared by the Government should be strictly adhered to.
  9. Legal aspects vis--vis State Irrigation Acts should be examined.
  10. Incentives such as tourism, tax holidays, floating tax-free revenue bonds/loans at concessional rates including moratorium on repayment, development of pisciculture, limited use of reservoir water for horticulture, right of water sports, navigation in reservoir areas, lands for commercial exploitation on embankments, etc., could be considered to be given to private investors.
  11. Catchment area treatment of projects should be carried out by Governmental departments.

    The report was circulated to the Secretaries in-charge of Irrigation/Water Resources departments of all the States/Union Territories in 1996 for further necessary action.

    It was further informed that all types of Water Resources Projects are conceived, planned, executed and maintained by the concerned State Governments from their own allocation of Plan Funds. As such, the water rates for various types of uses are also fixed by them.

    This was informed by Smt. Bijoya Cakravarty, Union Minister of State for Water Resources in reply to a question from Hon’ble Members, Shri D. Masthan and Shri Balwant Singh Ramoowalia in the Rajya Sabha here today.






    Lok Sabha was informed today that Tribal Cooperative Marketing Development Federation of India Ltd. (TRIFED) was set up in 1987 for providing remunerative prices to the tribals for their Minor Forest Produces (MFP) and to protect them from exploitation by middlemen. The authorised share capital of TRIFED is Rs. 100.00 crores and the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs has invested Rs. 99.50 crores towards the share capital investment of the organisation. There is no proposal to revamp the organisation at present. However, steps have been taken to make it effective in implementation and to involve more Voluntary Organisations, like Bandhan Surakshaya Samithi and Vanasuraksha Samithi.

    The undermentioned schemes are being implemented by the Ministry through Non-Governmental organisations in the area of health education and self-employment for tribals:-

  1. Educational Complex in low literacy pockets.
  2. Vocational Training in tribal areas.
  3. Grants to NGOs working for the welfare of Scheduled Tribes

    No State-wise allocations are made under these schemes. Funds are released scheme-wise based on the proposals received from the State Governments. However, details of grants released during 1998-99 and 1999-2000 under these schemes to the State Government of Maharashtra are as follows:-


AMOUNT RELEASED (Rs. in lakhs)

SL. NO. SCHEME 1998-99 1999-2000
1. Educational Complex in low literacy pockets for development of women literacy in Tribal Areas. 09.91 07.17
2. Vocational Training in Tribal Areas - -
3. Grant-in-aid to Voluntary organisation working for the welfare of STs. 54.43 -

    This was informed by Shri Shri Jual Oram, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs in reply to a question from the Hon’ble Member, Shri Vilas Muttemwar in the Lok Sabha here today.






    Lok Sabha was informed today that though the Government keeps a watch on such activities of individuals and organizations which may disturb communal peace, Article 25(1) of the Constitution provides that subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of the part III, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right to freely profess, practice and propagate religion. Right to freedom of religion is a Constitutional Right under Articles 25 to 30.

    Details regarding conversions are not maintained by the Central Government.

    It was further informed that although the Public Order and Police are State subjects, there are unconfirmed reports about conversions and communal tensions. Besides constituting special force (Rapid Action Force), the Central Government have been providing assistance to the State governments to improve their policing infrastructure and sharing intelligence with them. The Government also issues guidelines to the State Governments to take action against people spreading disharmony and hatred amongst the members of different communities.

    This was informed by Shri Jual Oram, Union Minister of Tribal Affairs in reply to a question from Hon’ble Members Shri Vijay Goel and Shri Mohan Rawale in the Lok Sabha here today.