Mumbai put on alert after two suspected terrorists sneak into city

Ahead of major festivals, the Mumbai Police on Friday issued an alert against two foreign nationals they said had sneaked into the city to cause disruption in crowded areas and at places of worship.

The Mumbai Police on September 10 released pictures of two suspected terrorists Hafiz Sharif (L) and Kalimuddin Khan alias Rameshwar Pandit (28) who they said had sneaked into the city.

Ahead of major festivals such as Eid-ul-Fitr and Ganesh Chaturthi, the Mumbai Police today issued an alert against two foreign nationals who they said had sneaked into the city to cause disruption in crowded areas and at places of worship.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy identified the two men as Hafiz Sharif (25) and Kalimuddin Khan alias Rameshwar Pandit (28). He declined to give out the nationalities of the two men.

The police gave out photographs of the two men and said they were doing so to put people on the alert and seek their assistance in tracing them.

Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy and Mr Deven Bharati, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) showing pictures of two suspected terrorists who have sneaked into Mumbai, at a press conference on September 10, 2010.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Himanshu Roy and Mr Deven Bharati, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) showing pictures of two suspected terrorists who have sneaked into Mumbai, at a press conference on September 10, 2010.

"We want to issue an alert, more than anything else," Mr Roy told a press conference.

"We have information from intelligence agencies that two people of foreign origin have sneaked into the city," he said.

"We have reason to suspect that they have come here to cause disruption, especially at crowded places and places of religious worship," he said.

"We appeal to the citizens to remain alert and inform the police if they spot the two," Mr Roy said.

Asked when the two men had entered the city, he said, "Very recently," and added that several teams of policemen were trying to track them down.

The police have set up two helplines for members of the public: (022) 2263 33 33 and 2262 5020.

"Should they be spotted then please inform the nearest police station or 100 or on the special helpline numbers," Mr Roy appealed to the people.


"Bharat Tirth" trains from October to connect tourist destinations in India

File photo of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, one of the destinations that will be linked by the Bharat Tirth trains.
File photo of Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu, one of the destinations that will be linked by the Bharat Tirth trains.

The Indian Railways will run "Bharat Tirth" trains across India from next month as part of their efforts to promote tourism and emphasise the country's "unity in diversity".

A official press release said the Railways would launch 16 circuits of "Bharat Tirth" touching all the important destinations in the country.

It said the trains were aimed at providing a "comfortable, affordable and memorable experience" to travellers of different segments.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee had announced plans to launch the trains while presenting the Railway Budget for 2010-11 in Parliament in February this year. She said the trains would connect popular destinations, from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, from Dwarka to Vindhya Parbat, from Ajmer Sharief to Gangasagar and from Madurai to Patna Sahib.

The itineraries are so designed that the Bharat Tirth trains would be taken to the rail heads nearest to the tourist destination from where tourists would visit the places of tourist importance.

The road journey for sightseeing will be organized in comfortable buses and tour escorts will accompany them in the trains as well as buses, the release added.


President, VP, PM greet people on Id-ul-Fitr

President Pratibha Patil, Vice-President M Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today greeted the people on the occasion of Id-ul-Fitr, which will be celebrated tomorrow on the culmination of the holy month of Ramzan.

"I have great pleasure in extending my greetings and good wishes to all my fellow citizens on the auspicious occasion of Idu’l Fitr," Ms Patil, who is on a State Visit to Laos, said.

"Idu’l Fitr brings joy and happiness on the culmination of the month of Holy Ramzan, a period of fasting, prayer and charity. May this festival strengthen our faith in oneness, compassion and tolerance and instill in us a sense of brotherhood and goodwill towards all. Let us rededicate ourselves on this day to the service of humanity," she said.

Mr Ansari said Id-ul-Fitr was celebrated with fervour and traditional gaiety, inspiring compassion and brotherhood.

"May this auspicious occasion bring amity, prosperity and happiness in our lives," he said.

Dr Singh said the festival was associated with sacrifice, kindness and help for the needy. He hoped that the festival, which is a thanksgiving in the name of God would usher in peace, prosperity and happiness.


CBI files chargesheet against 9 Manipur cops for fake encounter

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a chargesheet against nine commandos of the Manipur Police for allegedly killing a youth, Chungkham Sanjit Meitei, in a fake encounter in Imphal in July 2009.

The death of the youth had led to widespread protests in the State and the Gauhati High Court had ordered an independent inquiry.

A CBI press release issued here yesterday said those named in the chargesheet were Inspectors Munal Singh and H Devendra Singh, Head Constable Thounaojam Herojit Singh, Rifleman Ngangom Toyaima Singh, Constable W Binoy Kumar Singh, Havildar Th. Jagat Singh, Rifleman Mohammad Imran Khan, Head Constable Oinam Keshor Singh and Constable Makan Kanchung Chothi.

The chargesheet was filed yesterday in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Imphal under various sections of the IPC related to murder and other substantive offences. The court took cognisance of the chargesheet and issued warrants of arrest against the accused persons.

The mother of the killed youth, Mrs Chungkham Taratombi Devi, had filed a writ petition in the Gauhati High Court. The Imphal Bench of the High Court issued an order on August 25 to treat her complaint as a First Information Report (FIR).

Mrs Taratombi Devi had alleged in her complaint that her son shot dead arbitrarily by commandos of the Manipur Police. The High Court on December 23 transferred the investigation of the case to the CBI.

According to the relese, the CBI's investigations showed that, on July 23, 2009, the Manipur Police commandos were carrying out routine frisking on B.T. Road in Imphal when they came across a youth who fired at them and ran eastwards and mingled with the crowd. The police also opened fire at the youth in retaliation, injuring five persons and killing a pregnant woman.

The police cordoned off the area and started search operations. Sanjit Meitei was picked up by the police and taken inside the store room of the Social Time Emporium/Maimu Pharmacy.

The press release said the youth was not armed at that time and was accosted by the commandos and shot dead by them. A pistol was shown to have been falsely recovered from him.

The CBI said its investigations revealed that there was no such pistol in the possession of Sanjit Meitei and the police had planted it after it was picked up from the nearby GSS Arcade, minutes before the encounter.

The agency has cited over 250 witnesses and more than 125 documents besides several articles along with the charge sheet, the release added.


CBI files case against 11 students of Punjab Engg. College, Chandigarh

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against 11 students for allegedly getting admission to the Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh on the basis of fake and forged documents.

A CBI press release said the mastermind of this scam, a person based in Hissar, Haryana, had been arrested yesterday.

According to the release, the 11 students secured their admission to the college under the Direct Admission of Students Abroad (DASA) scheme, under which foreign nationals, persons of Indian origin and Indian nationals studying abroad are eligible for admissions.

The students have to appear in Scholastic Aptitude Test-II (SAT-II), apart from meeting other academic qualification requirements.

The Union Ministry of Human Resource Development has entrusted the central coordination of admission under the scheme to the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Surathkal, Karnataka.

The release said the 11 students allegedly obtained admissions on the basis of forged Nepalese identity cards. They include five girls and six boys from different parts of Punjab and Haryana.

The CBI said its investigations showed that the mastermind behind the crime had managed these admissions on the basis of forged documents by charging Rs 10 to 15 lakhs from each student.

It said searches were conducted at the residence of the Hissar-based person and seized documents. Documents relating to case have also been seized from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh, it said, adding that further investigations are continuing.


India, Russia sign deal for multi-role transport aircraft

India and Russia have signed an agreement for setting up a $ 600.70 million (approximately Rs 2900 crore) joint venture company for the design and development of a multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) to meet the requirement of their Air Forces.

The agreement was signed here last night, an official press release said here today. The joint venture will now be formed between the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the Russian partners, United Aircraft Corporation and Rosoboronexport to co-develop and co-produce the MTA.

The project has been approved by the Governments of India and Russia, the release said.

The MTA is a 15-20 tonne payload capacity aircraft. Other features are: maximum take-off weight 65 tonnes, cruise speed 800 kmph, range 2500-2700 km, service ceiling 12 km.

The aircraft will have two engines, state of the art features such as fly-by-wire, full authority digital engine control, modern avionics and glass cockpit.

According to the release, it is planned to manufacture 205 aircraft with 50:50 work share between HAL and the Russian partners.

The joint venture company will be established with its headquarters at Bangalore, the release added.


755 chosen for Maulana Azad Fellowship for Minority Students

The Ministry of Minority Affairs has selected 755 candidates for the Maulana Azad National Fellowship for Minority Students for the year 2009-10.

In all, 756 scholarships were available under the scheme launched by the Ministry in the last financial year for research studies in regular and full-time M.Phil. and Ph.D. courses.

The University Grants Commission (UGC) is the nodal agency for implementing the scheme and an amount of Rs 14.90 crore has been placed at its disposal by the Ministry for the award of the fellowships for 2009-10.

According to an official press release, the chosen candidates include 539 Muslim students, 101 Christians, 80 Sikhs, 34 Buddhists and one Parsi.

The list of selected candidates is available on the official websites of the Ministry of Minority Affairs and the UGC.

The objective of the scheme is to provide fellowships in the form of financial assistance to students from five notified minority communities - Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis.

The UGC will select afresh 756 candidates for award of fellowships for the year 2010-11 for which advertisements would be released shortly. A provision of Rs. 30 crore has been made in the Budget for the year 2010-11 for this scheme, the release added.


India to release 7 Pakistani fishermen, 24 civilian prisoners on Sep 15

India has conveyed to Pakistan that it would repatriate seven Pakistani fishermen and 24 civilian prisoners on September 15.

"Further steps are being taken, in cooperation with the Government of Pakistan, to release and repatriate other eligible Pakistani prisoners lodged in Indian jails," a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs said.

Earlier, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had, in a letter to his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mahmood Qureshi, conveyed the deep appreciation of the people and Government of India on the release of 442 Indian fishermen who had been lodged in various jails in Pakistan.

While thanking the Government of Pakistan, Mr Krishna said that he looked forward to early release and repatriation of all Indian and Pakistani prisoners to their respective countries.

Mr Krishna also conveyed his greetings to Mr Qureshi on the coming festival of Eid-ul-Fitr and reiterated India's commitment to work with Pakistan for the common good of the peoples of the two countries.


E-passport manufacturing facility set up at India Security Press in Nashik

An e-passport manufacturing facility has been set up at the India Security Press (ISP) in Nashik, Maharashtra in keeping with the suggestions made by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in keeping with the global trends.

The new facility will also address security concerns and ensure faster and easier customs and immigration clearance at airports and other entry points, an official press release said.

The ISP is a unit of the public sector Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Ltd (SPMCIL) and manufacturers passports and other travel documents for the Ministry of External Affairs.

The new facility was inaugurated recently by SPMCIL Chairman and Managing Director M S Rana.

The sophisticated e-passport machine will manufacture e-passports of international quality with due quality checks, high productivity and less rejection, the release said.

With the introduction of this machine, SPMCIL will be able to manufacture more than 8 million e-passports in a year and meet the entire requirement of the country, the release added.


Delhi Metro builds bridge with 100 metre span at Okhla

The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) has constructed a bridge with a 100 metre-long span at Okhla over the Indian Railways tracks on its Central Secretariat – Badarpur corridor that is expected to be opened to the public later this month.

A press release from DMRC said the bridge was a major engineering landmark as it had been constructed without hampering the railway traffic below.

This is the longest span ever built by the DMRC. Earlier, the Delhi Metro had constructed a bridge over the Indian Railways lines near Pragati Maidan, where the length of the main span was 93 metres.

According to the release, the DMRC had to use such a long span as four Northern Railway lines are passing below the bridge. The bridge, which is located between the Okhla and Jasola Metro stations, has a total length of 250 metres and is divided into three spans. While the middle span is of 100 metres, the other two spans on the sides are of 75 metres each.

The release said the Delhi Metro had employed the "Balanced Cantilever Construction" (BCLC) method for its construction so that the rail traffic below was not hampered. This technique employs the use of a bridge builder that constructs the bridge segment by segment at a time, it said.

The bridge has been built using M-60 grade concrete and about 130 workers were engaged in the construction of the bridge on a daily basis, it said.

"The construction of this bridge was difficult since the bridge was built on a very sharp curve with a 300 metre radius and the installation of the individual segments of the bridge on the curve was difficult as the rail traffic moving below could not be obstructed during the construction," it said.

The heavy works such as gantry movement were done under traffic blocks on railway tracks. Since the bridge balance was always in a see-saw condition, engineers had to maintain strict construction sequence. Additional temporary supports were designed for added safety. Engineers monitored the stresses and strains in these temporary supports as well as inclination and tilt in the super structure of the bridge at every stage of construction.

Visual electronic indicators were also installed with the help of Japanese scientists and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. Japanese consultants on DMRC works interpreted all monitoring data regularly and kept designers in the loop. Strict survey control and monitoring could ensure a safe construction with perfect alignment, the release said.

The existing railway tracks below this bridge link New Delhi with Mathura and Agra on the line to Mumbai and other parts of the country and therefore is a very important railway stretch.


Sonia Gandhi: Land acquisition should not lead to loss of fertile tracts

NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Thursday called for a balanced approach in securing land for development and industrial projects to ensure that large tracts of fertile agricultural land were not lost.

NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi dedicating the National Capital Thermal Power Project at Dadri to the nation on September 9, 2010. Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Minister of State Bharatsinh Solanki are also seen.
NAC Chairperson Sonia Gandhi dedicating the National Capital Thermal Power Project at Dadri to the nation on September 9, 2010. Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Minister of State Bharatsinh Solanki are also seen.

National Advisory Council (NAC) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi today stressed the need for a balanced approach in securing land for development and industrial projects to ensure that large tracts of fertile agricultural land were not lost.

"New industries and infrastructure cannot be built without acquiring land. This is obvious and there is no argument about it," Ms Gandhi, who is also the Congress President and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Chairperson, said while dedicating to the nation the 980 MW Stage II of NTPC's National Capital Thermal Power Project at Dadri near here.

"But land acquisition must be done in a manner that it does not result in the loss of large tracts of fertile and productive agriculture land," she said.

Ms Gandhi said that if this aspect were not taken care of it would compromise the production of food to feed the people of the country. The entire process should be such that it did not adversely affect the farmers and other sections of the people.

The 2 x 490 MW power project will supply power to the venues of the XIX Commonwealth Games that Delhi will host from October 3-14.

Ms Gandhi's comments on land acquisition come at a time when there is a raging debate on the issue in the country and only days after her son and Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi spoke out on the issue in Orissa. Mr Gandhi had also met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as part of a delegation and sought a new legislation on the acquisition of farmers' land.

The UPA Chairperson said farmers must get adequate compensation for their land, when it is acquired, and an alternative occupation. In this context, she referred to the progressive legislation formulated in some states like Haryana and felt other states could emulate them.

Ms Gandhi said electricity was important for the progress and development of the country and various sources needed to be tapped for generation of power.

But she stressed that power generation should not be at the cost of the environment and said the power production should be a "clean" process.

"In whatever we do, we must not forget that our lush forest , mountains are necessary... We have a responsibility to protect them," she said.

"It is our obligation to ensure that affordable electricity is provided to all sections of our population. It is, therefore, evident that if we have to sustain our pace of economic growth and lift all our people out of poverty, the power sector has to lead the way," Ms Gandhi said.

The Congress chief congratulated NTPC for completing the project in a record time of only 39 times.

Stage I of the project is alrady producing 840 MW through four units of 210 MW each and with the addition of Stage II, the project has acheived a total capacity of 2637 MW, including 817 MW produced by its gas-based unit.

Power Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said his Ministry had set a target of adding 62,000 MW during the XIth Plan, three times the capacity added during the Xth Plan.

He said that 9585 MW of capacity was added during 2009-10, which is the highest ever capacity addition achieved in a single year during the last 60 years. He was confident that the Ministry would exceed this level in the current year.


Judges of MP, Gauhati High Courts transferred

The President has, after consultation with the Chief Justice of India, transfered Mr Justice Arun Kumar Mishra, a Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, to the Rajasthan High Court.

Similarly, Mr Justice Rangan Gogoi, a Judge of the Gauhati High Court, has been transferred to the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The appointments will be with effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices, on or before September 14, an official press release said.

The President has also appointed Ms Vimla Jain and Mr Mohammad Anwar Siddiqui to be Additional Judge of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, in that order of seniority, for a period of two years with effect from the dates they assume charge of their respective offices, the release added.


Enumeration of castes to be done as separate exercise in Jun-Sep 2011

The Union Cabinet today decided that the enumeration of castes, other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, of all persons, as returned by them, would be conducted as a separate exercise in a phased manner between June and September, 2011.

This would be done after the Population Enumeration phase, to be conducted in February-March 2011, of the Census 2011 is over, an official press release said after the meeting of the Cabinet.

A suitable legal regime for collection of data on castes would be formulated in consultation with the Ministry of Law & Justice, it said.

The release said the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner India would conduct the field operations of the caste enumeration. The Government of India would constitute an Expert Group to classify the caste/tribe returns after the enumeration is completed. The Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner India would hand over the details of the castes/tribes returned in the enumeration to the proposed Expert Group.

Caste-wise enumeration had been given up as a matter of policy after Independence in 1947. The last Census when caste-wise data was collected, tabulated and published in detail was the 1931 Census.

In response to the demands for enumerating castes other than Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Census 2011 raised inside Parliament as well as by various groups outside, the Ministry of Home Affairs submitted a note to the Union Cabinet in May 2010 pertaining to this issue. The Union Cabinet in its meeting held in May 2010 had decided that "the matter would require further examination".

The Ministry of Home Affairs submitted a fresh note on this subject in May 2010. The Union Cabinet discussed the matter in its meeting held in May 2010 and decided that, "the matter may, in the first instance, be considered by a Group of Ministers".

Accordingly, a Group of Ministers (GoM) was constituted under the Chairmanship of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The GoM deliberated on the matter in three meetings and gave its recommendations to the Union Cabinet, the release added.


Govt. to align norms of SSA with those of RTE Act

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved a proposal to revise the existing norms of the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, its flagship programme for the universalisation of elementary education country, so that they conform with the recently-enacted Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act.

The SSA will be the main vehicle for the implementation of the RTE Act, passed by Parliament last year.

Today's decision covers revision of SSA norms, including provisions for teachers and classrooms, support for academic supervision, research, evaluation and monitoring, opening of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas (KGBVs) to bring them in conformity with the provisions of the RTE Act and implement the combined RTE-SSA programme.

New norms under SSA for uniforms, transportation costs and residential schools to implement the combined RTE-SSA programme have also been included.

The decision also covers revision of the funding pattern for the combined RTE-SSA programme between the Centre and the States in the ratio of 65:35 for all States/ UTs; in the case of eight States of the North-Eastern region, the existing sharing pattern of 90:10 would, however, be continued.

The RTE programme has a total cost of Rs 2,31,233 crore over the five-year period 2010-11 to 2014-15. The 13th Finance Commission has provided Rs 24,068 crore and the balance wuld be shared as per the new funding pattern.

Briefing journalists after the meeting, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said 1073 KGBVs would be set up in the country. He said girls and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe students as well as those from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in Government schools would get two sets of uniforms each because many of them could not afford to pay for uniforms.

In areas where girls find it difficult to travel long distances to schools, a transport facility will be provided with a total outlay of Rs 400 crore over five years -- Rs 80 crore per year.

Most of the revised norms would be put in place by the end of the current year, he added.


India condemns US pastor's threat to burn copy of Quran

India today condemned the threat issued by a pastor in the United States to burn a copy of the Quran on Sepember 11 and said it was totally unbecoming of anyone who claims to be a man of religion.

The threat has been made by the leader of a small Florida church to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks in the US in 2001.

In a statement here, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram noted that the US authorities had strongly condemned the statement of the pastor and that religious leaders all over the world had also condemned his proposed action.

He said the threat was obviously calculated to increase bitterness and strife between different religious groups.

"No one who is interested in maintaining harmony and peace among different sections of the people can condone such action," Mr Chidambaram said.

He hoped the US authorities would take strong action to prevent such an outrage being committed.

At the same time, he appealed to the media in India - both print and visual media - to refrain from publishing photographs or telecasting visuals of the act.

He also appealed to the media to exercise great restraint over the next couple of days and help in maintaining communal peace and harmony.


CBI registers case of fraud against ex-Goa Minister Pacheco

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against former Goa Minister Francisco Pacheco for allegedly helping two persons get visas for the United States on the basis of forged docuemnts and facilitating their travel to that country.

A CBI press release said the case against Mr Pacheco, who has already been booked in connection with the death of a close friend, related to criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and using forged documents as genuine in the years 2007-08.

"It is alleged that ex-Minister, Government of Goa, entered into a criminal conspiracy with two private persons along with other unknown persons during 2007-2008 and beyond and obtained crew members’ visas from the United States Consulate at Mumbai in the name of two private persons and other unknown persons on the basis of forged documents and hence facilitated the travel of such persons to United States by using forged documents as genuine," the release said.

"Further, it has been alleged that the accused persons obtained these crew men employment letters with the help of ex-Minister of Goa after paying hefty amounts," the release said, adding that searches and further investigations in the case were in progress.


NACO, Global Fund sign agreement on HIV/AIDS related services in India

The Government of India and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) today signed a three-year grant agreement for $ 128.4 million (Rs 609.9 crore) to support the continuation of the flagship programmes of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).

The agreement was signed during a meeting between Mr K Chandramauli, Secretary and Director General, NACO and Dr Michel Kazatchkine, Executive Director, GFATM here.

The programmes covered under the grant agreement include Integrated Counseling and Testing Centres (ICTCs), Prevention of Parent to Child Transmission (PPTCT) services aimed at preventing new-born infants from contracting HIV from their mothers and HIV-TB collaborative services.

An official press release said the overall goal of the grant would be to reach and diagnose an estimated 65 per cent of the HIV-infected people in India and link them to care, support and treatment services. In order to achieve this, NACO through this grant aims to counsel and test 1.82 crore clients annually in as many as 10,700 ICTCs by the end of the project (2012). Special focus will be given to antenatal women, high- risk groups such as female sex workers, men who have sex with men, intravenous drug users as well as people with sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis.

The release said NACO also intended to work in collaboration with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and increase the number of facility integrated ICTCs in Primary Health Centres from 1000 currently to 4755. The number of facility integrated ICTCs under the Public Private Partnership scheme in private sector will also be increased from 266 to 1600 by the end of the three-year period.

Of the estimated 65,000 HIV-positive pregnant women in the country, NACO will reach and identify 60 per cent of them to administer prophylactic treatment to prevent mother-to-child transmission under the PPTCT programme. In order to achieve this target, 83 lakh pregnant women will be annually counseled and tested in ICTCs.

In the three-year period an estimated 70 per cent of HIV-infected TB patients will be detected through an intensified package of HIV-TB collaboration services.

In addition, the capacity of the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare (NIHFW) and 20 State Institutes of Health and Family Welfare and five National Institutes under TB programme will also be built through the establishment of an HIV unit, with requisite infrastructure and human resource strengthening. Also, cold storage units will be set up in 110 warehouses across the country to store thermolabile products like rapid HIV diagnostic kits and so on. Further, to improve supply chain management, a nationwide logistics management and information system will be installed, the release said.

According to the release, NACO has recently applied for the Round 10 funding of the Global Fund. The proposal is to reduce vulnerability among most at risk migrant population, so that the HIV epidemic can be contained. India’s revised migrant strategy envisages identifying high out migration locations at source and transit (besides destination), providing the migrant population information about HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and safe migration.

Linking this population to public health services for STI, ICTCs, anti-retroviral therapy, Rashtriya Swasthiya Bima Yojana (National Health Insurance Scheme), Village Health Nutrition Day and so on are the key areas expected to be addressed by the village level workers and Volunteer Peer Leaders in the revised migrant strategy, the release added.


ISRO successfully tests liquid core stage of GSLV Mark III

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today said it had successfully conducted the second static testing of its liquid core stage (L110) of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV Mk -III) for 200 seconds.

The test was conducted at ISRO's Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) test facility at Mahendragiri at 15.50 hours today, a press release from ISRO said.

According to the release, L110 is one of the heaviest earth storable liquid stages ever developed by ISRO. L110 stage had two high pressure Vikas engines in a clustered configuration.

Nearly 500 health parameters were monitored during the test and the initial data acquired indicates its normal performance, the release said.

Today's successful test of L110 for its full flight duration of 200 seconds, is a major milestone in the earth storable liquid rocket programme of ISRO and a significant step forward in the development of GSLV-Mk III launch vehicle.

The GSLV-Mk III, which is currently under advanced stage of development, uses two solid strap-on boosters (S200), L110 liquid stage and a cryogenic upper stage C-25, the release added.


Sonia Gandhi inaugurates 31 Jahawar Navodaya Vidyalayas

National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurating 31 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas across the country, in New Delhi on September 8, 2010. Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal is also seen.
National Advisory Council Chairperson Sonia Gandhi inaugurating 31 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas across the country, in New Delhi on September 8, 2010. Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal is also seen.

National Advisory Council (NAC) Chairperson Sonia Gandhi today inaugurated 31 Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs), which are fully residential co-educational schools providing education from Class VI to XII and affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE).

The new schools are located across the country in the States of Kerala, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Gandhi underlined the need for education provided in schools to be in accordance with the changes taking place around the world, especially with regard to new technologies and techniques.

She said quality education was a right of all children and wondered why other Government schools were not as good as the Navodaya Vidyalaya.

She expressed concern that one-fourth of the teachers were absent in many schools, which also have many drop-outs from the weaker sections.

Ms Gandhi said information about scholarships and other facilities offered by the Government must reach all students. She felt other Government schools must learn from the JNVs.

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal said late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi considered providing quality education for deprived children his foremost duty. It was in this context that the Government decided to open a JNV in every district of the country as part of the National Policy on Education, 1986. Today there are 593 JNVs in the country in which 2 lakh children are studying, he said.

He also said that special Navodaya Vidyalayas were being proposed to encourage children showing aptitude in sports, culture and in vocational streams. He pointed out that already Navodaya Vidyalayas were considered at par with the better schools of the country and alumni of these schools were excelling in various professions.

At least 75 per cent of the seats in a Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya are filled by candidates from rural areas. Reservation of seats for children belonging to SCs and STs is provided in proportion to their population in the concerned district. One-third of total seats are filled by girls.

Out of over two lakh students in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, 77.84 per cent are from rural areas, 36.67 per cent are girls and 41.61 per cent belong to SC/ST categories, an official press release added.


Air Force to get new digital communication network

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will get a modern state-of-the-art digital information grid next week when the new Air Force Network (AFNET) will be dedicated to the nation.

An official press release said AFNET is a fully secure and reliable network and will replace the IAF's old communication network set-up using the tropo-scatter technology of the 1950s.

The network, which will help make the IAF a true net-centric combat force, is being seen as a major achievement which also marks the successful clearance of one milestone for release of radio spectrum.

The new system will be launched by Defence Minister A K Antony at a special function next Tuesday that will also be attended by Communications and Information Technology Minister A Raja.

The release said the IAF project is part of the overall mission to network all three services. The mission comes in the backdrop of an IT Roadmap document of the Defence Ministry stipulating automation, simulated training and mandatory computer proficiency in the services, it said.

According to it, the IAF has taken up a mandate to create and maintain an assured, dedicated, secure and inter-operable communication network along with associated services to provide real time, instantaneous transfer of information between Sensors, Command and Control (C2) centres and Shooters. In addition, IAF aspires to use communication network and IT-enabled infrastructure for all other operational, techno-logistics and administrative functions to leverage development in this field to enhance efficiency, cost-effectiveness and ease of administration.

While all three services are engaged in large-scale automation and computer-based networking, the IAF is the first among the three to complete the project of interlinking major installations throughout the country on a high bandwidth network.

All major formations and static establishments have been linked through a secure Wide Area Network (WAN) and are accessible through data communication lines. The nationwide programme was launched by the IAF in collaboration with the private industry to accelerate the use of Information Technology (IT) as well as to link all field units using a dedicated satellite, it said.

The release said AFNET incorporates the latest traffic transportation technology in form of IP (Internet Protocol) packets over the network using Multi Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). A large VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) layer with stringent quality of service enforcement will facilitate robust, high quality voice, video and conferencing solutions, it said.

Integrated Air Command and Control System (IACCS), an automated command and control system for Air Defence (AD) operations will ride the AFNET backbone, integrating all ground-based and airborne sensors, AD weapon systems and C2 nodes. Subsequent integration with other services networks and civil radars will provide an integrated Air Situation Picture to operators to carry out AD role.

"AFNET will prove to be an effective force multiplier for intelligence analysis, mission planning and control, post-mission feedback and related activities like maintenance, logistics and administration. A comprehensive design with multi-layer security precautions for 'Defence in Depth' have been planned by incorporating encryption technologies, Intrusion Prevention Systems to ensure the resistance of the IT system against information manipulation and eavesdropping," the release added.


Two suspects held in Pune's German Bakery blast case

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra Police said on Wednesday they had arrested two persons for their alleged role in the February 13 bomb blast at the popular German Bakery in Pune.

The scene at the site of the blast in Pune on February 13, 2010.
The scene at the site of the blast in Pune on February 13, 2010.

The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) of the Maharashtra Police today said they had arrested two persons from Pune and Nashik in the state for their alleged role in the February 13 bomb blast at the popular German Bakery in Pune.

At least 17 people were killed and 56 others suffered injuries in the blast which occurred during peak evening hours in the restaurant in Pune's Koregaon area, which was popular with foreigners and students.

One of the two persons, Mirza Himayat Baig, 29, was arrested from the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Stand in Pune yesterday afternoon while the other, Shaikh Lalbaba Mohammed Hussain alias Bilal, 27, was picked up from Subash Chandra Bose Marg, Ashok Nagar in Nashik last night, Maharashtra ATS chief Rakesh Maria said.

He said the ATS would produce the pair in a court today and seek their remand and continue investigations in the case.

The attack on the restaurant has been the only major terrorist incident in India after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.

Mr Maria said Himayat was the "present chief" of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Maharashtra.

He said the police found two kg of RDX, soldering wires, LeT literature, mobile phone SIM cards procured with fraudulent papers and cash from the duo. He said the two had carried out a recce of some sites for the LeT.

Mr Maria said the painstaking investigations in the case had taken the police to places in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Daman & Diu, Tamil Nadu and Delhi.

He said Baig was named by the police in two earlier cases under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and under the Arms Act. "He s originally part of a module involved in the Aurangabad arms haul case of May 2006," he said.

"He is the present LeT chief of Maharashtra. He is the main who had merged the Aurangabad module with the Indian Mujahideen," he said.

The second person arrested, Bilal, is originally a resident of Sholapur and a failed first year student of a B.Sc. course. Mr Maria said the youth had undergone training in terrorist camps in Pakistan from January 2008 to early 2010, a period during which he had "unofficially" crossed into India thrice - twice from Bangladesh and once from Nepal.

Mr Maria said the conspiracy to carry out the blast at German Bakery, located near the Osho Ashram in Pune, was hatched in January this year. He said meetings in this regard were held at Udgir in Latur district of Maharashtra. After those, the duo carried out a recce of the place on January 31, before holding another meeting with their partnes on February 3, when the plans were finalised.

According to the ATS chief, the improvised explosive device (IED) used in the blast was put together from February 7 onwards at the Global Internet Cafe run by Baig. This task was completed on February 12 and the pair reached Pune the next afternoon.

Mr Maria said Baig was also involved in planting the bomb at the restaurant that evening. He said Baig had created a huge module in Maharashtra, the investigations so far had revealed.

At least four of those killed in the attack on the restaurant were foreigners, including a Sudanese, an Iranian, an Italian woman and a Nepalese youth who worked as a waiter in the place.

The blast occurred around 6.50 pm on February 13 when the restaurant was teeming with youngsters and foreigners. The explosion took place when a waiter noticed an unattended backpack under one of the tables and tried to open it.


Foreign tourist arrivals in India up 9 % in August

Foreign tourist arrivals (FTAs) in India grew by 9 per cent in August this year to 3.82 lakh as compared to 3.50 lakh in the same month of last year, an official statement said here today on the basis of data from the major airports in the country.

The number of tourist arrivals was 3.83 lakh in August 2008, the statement said.

According to it, the growth rate in August was more than twice the level of 4.1 per cent achieved in July this year over the same month of 2009.

The statement said FTAs during the period January-August 2010 were 34.67 lakh with a growth rate of 9.7 %, as compared to the FTAs of 31.60 lakh and a negative growth rate of 7.7 % during January-August 2009 over the corresponding period of 2008.

It said the Foreign Exchange Earnings (FEE) from tourism during August this year were Rs 4620 crore as compared to Rs 4115 crore in the same month last year and Rs 3626 crore in August 2008.

The growth rate in FEE in rupee terms in August 2010 over the same month of last year was 12.3 %.

The FEE during the period January-August this year were Rs 41,437 crore, with a growth rate of 22.6 % over the level of Rs 33,791 crore recorded in the corresponding period of 2009.

In dollar terms, the FEE in August this year were $ 992 million as compared to $ 851 million during the same month of last year, a growth rate of 16.6 %.

The FEE during the period January-August 2010 were $ 8.997 billion with a growth rate of 30.7 % as compared to $ 6.886 billion achieved in the corresponding period of last year, the statement added.


AIIMS to host conference on Healthcare Infrastructure and Medical Technology

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here will host an international conference on "Recent Advances and Future Trends in Healthcare Infrastructure and Medical Technology" (HIMT) 2011 from February 2 to 5, 2011.

The event is being organised by the Department of Hospital Administration at AIIMS in collaboratin with the Academy of Hospital Administration (AHA) and the Indian Institute of Architects.

A press release issued by the organisers said the aim of the conference was to provide an enabling platform of synergy to promoters, healthcare providers, administrators, architects, engineers, project manager and consultants, equipment manufacturers, the pharmaceutical industry and other stake holders for knowledge enhancement, skill acquisition, and networking in the multiple dimensions and facets of healthcare infrastructure and medical technology.

Among other things, the conference will deliberate on recent advances and future trends in healthcare infrastructure and its impact on healthcare delivery. They will also discuss the advancements and future applications of medical technology in healthcare.

The participants will consider the impact of advancing technology on patient care provisioning, the release said.

The conference is expected to be attended by about 1200 healthcare and hospital administrators, medical directors/CEOs of public and corporate hospitals, clinicians, policy makers, hospital architects and engineers, project consultants, healthcare insurance providers, experts from healthcare infrastructure and construction industry, pharmaceutical and medical equipment industry, financers associated with healthcare industry, disaster management experts, and researchers and academicians.

Other participants will include nursing administrator, equipment and pharma industry executives , representative from health care industry and commerce , financial and banking institutions, IT industry, and medical architecture, health and hospital management students and trainees, the release added.


India, Poland agree to enhance bilateral trade, investments

India and Poland on Tuesday agreed to endeavour to enhance trade and investments in both directions with the target of doubling the value of bilateral trade by 2014.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, at a delegation level talks, in New Delhi on September 07, 2010.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Prime Minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, at a delegation level talks, in New Delhi on September 07, 2010.

India and Poland today agreed to endeavour to enhance trade and investments in both directions with the target of doubling the value of bilateral trade by 2014.

At talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Polish counterpart Donald Tusk here, the two sides reviewed bilateral relations, including ways of stepping up the bilateral economic engagement.

An official statement said the two leaders also discussed global issues like reform of the United Nations Security Council and climate change. They agreed to expand cooperation in the field of clean coal technology.

They also exchanged views on regional issues of common concern, including Afghanistan, it said.

Mr Tusk and his wife, Mrs Malgorzata Tusk, arrived yesterday on a three-day visit to India. They landed in Bangalore and reached the capital yesterday evening. Tomorrow, they will visit Agra before leaving for Hanoi.

The Polish Prime Minister was given a ceremonial welcome in the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan by Dr Singh this morning.

At the delegation level talks between the two countries this evening, Mr Tusk reaffirmed the support of Poland for India’s candidature for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for 2011-12 as well as for a permanent seat in an expanded Security Council.

After the talks, the two sides signed a Cultural Exchange Programme for the years 2010-13 which is expected to give a further boost to exchanges in this field.

Mr Tusk was received by President Pratibha Patil and Vice-President M Hamid Ansari during the day today. Earlier, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur and Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj called on him.


CBI arrests Customs official on alleged corruption charges

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has registered a case against a Joint Commissioner of Customs, Mr Hemant Kothikar, posted at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) in Mumbai, for allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

A CBI press release said that the first information report (FIR) alleged that the official, while working in the Customs Department between September 6, 1993 and July 24, 2004, had amassed assets to the tune of Rs 3.67 crore in his name and in the names of his wife and relatives.

According to the release, the investigations had shown that the official's wife, the proprietor of a Nasik-based firm, had shown exaggerated income of Rs 45.48 lakhs from exports by the company in her Income Tax Return for 2002-03. The alelged export was made by the firm to Australia through Singapore and Malaysia. Letters rogatory have been issued for further investigation in those countries, it said.

The CBI had arrested the official last week and produced him before a Special Judge, who remanded him to custody, the release added.


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