WORLD WATER DAY OBSERVED

    A function was held in New Delhi on Sunday to mark the 'World Water Day' which is celebrated throughout the world on March 22 every year. The Day is also observed in India as the 'Water Resources Day'.

    Speaking on the occasion the Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Shri Mata Prasad said that though in our country water resources are considered to be in abundance but the demand for water is increasing day by day and is expected to be double by the early 21st century as compared to what it was in 1990s.

    Shri Prasad emphasised the need of Inter-state cooperation in resolving Inter-state river water disputes and to ensure optimum utilisation of water resources in the country for beneficial uses and said that it was unfortunate that Inter-state rivers and valleys have become a common day event in this continent. He expressed the view that the approach of taking river basin as a unit and managing the resources in totality, perhaps was the solution which may take care of such disputes and ensure optimum use of resources are ensured'.

    In his key-note address on the subject " Water As A Social And Economic Good", the Member- Secretary of the Planning Commission, Dr. S.R.Hashim said that we already have a situation  of relative scarcity of water if we take into account the affordability of real costs of supplies for purposes of irrigation and domestic use. Water needs for industrial uses, navigational purposes, environmental requirements and even for purposes of generating electricity have to very often compete with irrigational and domestic needs, he added.

    Representatives from a number of non-governmental and UN organisations like UNDP, UNICEF and others presented papers in the day long deliberation that followed the inaugural function.
 
 

SHRI THAMBI DURAI TAKES OVER AS LAW & JUSTICE MINISTER

    The Minister of Law, Justice and Company Affairs, Shri M.Thambi Durai has emphasised the need for improvement of the system of judicial administration. Addressing the senior officials of the Ministry soon after formally assuming charge as the Minister of Law,Justice and Company Affairs, here today, Shri Thambi Durai said that the Government should ensure that the innocent people are not harassed. He urged the officials of his Ministry to see that common people are helped to face their problems.

    The senior officials briefed the Minister about the activities of the Ministry. Shri Thambi Durai was the Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha from 1985-89.
 
 

MONITORING OF RURAL SCHEMES TO BE GOVERNMENT'S PRIORITY

    The new Minister of Rural Areas & Employment, Shri Babagouda Patil, has said that the government will closely monitor all the rural development programmes in the country. This is necessary to make their implementation effective. Shri Patil was speaking to the Press soon after assuming his charge here today.

    Detailing the Government's priorities, the Minister said that the people will be directly involved in all rural development programmes. Natural water resources will be preserved and fully developed. Also, rural sanitation will be promoted all over the country. Jobs will be created on a sustained basis. Shelter for all in the rural areas is on the Government's priority list. The Minister emphasised that the expenditure on the uplift of the rural areas needs to be further increased.

    Shri Babagouda Patil represents the Belgaum Lok Sabha constituency in Karnataka. Representing the BJP, Shri Patil has been active in the farmer's movement in Karnataka.
 
 

LIST OF COUNCIL OF MINISTERS
(Constituted on 19th March, 1998)
 

 Prime Minister

    1. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee - Prime Minister and also in charge of the Ministries/ Departments not specifi cally allocated to the charge of any Minister

Cabinet Ministers

2. Shri L.K. Advani - Home 3. Shri Ananth Kumar - Civil Aviation 4. Shri Sikander Bakht - Industry 5. Shri S.S. Barnala - Chemicals and Fertilisers with additional charge of Food 6. Shri George Fernandes - Defence 7. Shri R.K. Hegde - Commerce 8. Shri Satyanarayan Jatiya - Labour 9. Shri Ram Jethmalani - Urban Development 10. Shri M.M. Joshi - Human Resource Development with additional charge of Science & Technology 11. Shri K. Ramamurthy - Petroleum & Natural Gas 12. Shri M.L. Khurana - Parliamentary Affairs with additional charge of Tourism 13. Shri R. Kumaramangalam - Power 14. Shri M. Thambi Durai - Law, Justice & Company Affairs 15. Shri Nitish Kumar - Railways 16. Shri Naveen Patnaik - Steel & Mines 17. Shri Suresh Prabhakar Prabhu - Environment & Forests 18. Shri Kashiram Chhabildas Rana - Textiles 19. Shri R. Muthiah - Surface Transport 20. Shri Yashwant Sinha - Finance 21. Shri Buta Singh - Communications 22. Smt. Sushma Swaraj - Information & Broadcasting Ministers of State 23. Shri Omak Apang Tourism 24. Shri Sukhbir Singh Badal Industry 25. Shri Bandaru Dattatreya Urban Development 26. Shri Ramesh Bais Steel & Mines 27. Sushree Uma Bharti Human Resource Development 28. Shri Dalit Ezhilmalai Health & Family Welfare (Independent Charge) 29. Smt. Maneka Gandhi Welfare (Independent Charge) 30. Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar Petroleum & Natural Gas 31. Shri R.K. Kumar Finance (Revenue, Banking & Insurance) and additional charge of Parliamentary Affairs 32. Shri Babulal Marandi Environment & Forest 33. Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi Information & Broadcasting 34. Shri Ram Naik Railways & Parliamentary Affairs 35. Dr. A.K. Patel Chemicals & Fertilisers 36. Shri Babagouda R. Patil Rural Development (Independent Charge) 37. Dr. Debendra Pradhan Surface Transport 38. Shri Kabindra Purkayashta Communications 39. Smt. Vasundhra Raje External Affairs 40. Shri Dilip Ray Coal (Independent Charge) 41. Shri Sompal Agriculture 42. Shri Satyapal Singh Yadav Civil Supplies 43. Shri R. Janarthanam Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions
 
 

RAM NAIK ASSUMES OFFICE AS NEW MINISTER OF STATE FOR RAILWAYS

    Shri Ram Naik took over as Minister of State in the Ministry of Railways here this afternoon.

    Chairman, Members of the Railway Board and other senior officials in the Ministry of Railways welcomed and apprised him of the current status of Indian Railways and immediate priorities before the Government for presentation of Vote On Account and preparation of Railway Budget.

    Shri Naik told the officials to work out a status paper on various railway projects in hand so that their right assessment could be made for better project appraisal and prioritisation. This should be done on the pattern of Status Paper on Railway Finances brought out during 1989-90. Shri Naik asked the Railway Board to work out the measures for improving Mumbai suburban rail services. He said he would visit all the four metros to take first hand look at the suburban rail services. As part of augmenting suburban rail services in Mumbai, Shri Naik said that the proposed Mumbai Railway Development Corporation would be set up at the earliest. He also directed the Railway Board to revive the proposal for exploitation of unutilised surplus railway land in the metros and other important commercial city centres for supplementing the railway finances as this proposal has been pending before the Government for more than four years now. He also directed the Railway Board to update the status paper on Mumbai suburban rail services and work for its improvement. Other priorities listed by Shri Naik for the Railway Board included punctuality and safety of train services. He said that these two aspects would continue to be the uppermost in his mind.