Cold wave tightens grip over N. India, 51 deaths overnight in UP

Cold weather conditions tightened their grip over North India with 51 deaths overnight in Uttar Pradesh as Leh in Jammu and Kashmir shivered at minus 14 degrees Celsius.

Severe cold weather has damaged 60 to 80 per cent crops and vegetables in 250 villages of Ujjain district in Madhya Pradesh. Besides it has claimed 20 lives in the state.

Fifty one people died overnight due to intensified cold conditions in Uttar Pradesh. With this the toll reached 188 in the state.

As per reports, five people died of intense cold conditions in Agra, while seven deaths were reported from Jaunpur area. Four people each died in Kaushambhi and Gorakhpur, three in Farrukhabad, while two each succumbed in Deoria, Siddharthnagar, Chatrapati Sahuji Maharaj Nagar, Varanasi, Jhansi, Allahabad, Sitapur, Hardoi, Barabanki, Ballia and Ramabai Nagar.

One each died in Banda, Mirzapur, Hamirpur, Rae Bareli, Mahoba and Bareilly.

Besides, the Delhi-Lucknow Swaran Shatabdi Express was cancelled due to late running.

The lowest temperature was 1.4 degrees at Sultanpur and Fursatganj in Rae Bareli. Lucknow recorded 3.8 degrees, Kanpur 5.2 degrees, Agra 2.3 degrees, Churk in Mirzapur 2.2 degrees and Banda 1.6 degrees.

Western disturbances eased the chilly weather in the Kashmir Valley while the upper reaches received four to seven inches snowfall.

The minimum at Leh in Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir dipped further to minus 14 degrees due to partial cloudy weather. Kargil did not witness any major change and the minimum stood at minus 10.4 degrees. After light snowfall, Pahalgam witnessed an increase in the temperature and registered at minus 1.8 degrees. Srinagar also showed an improvement and was cold at 0.4 degrees.

The mercury stood at 1.5 degrees at Narnaul in Haryana and 3.2 degrees at Patiala in Punjab, turning them into the coldest places in their respective parts.

Though high reaches in Himachal Pradesh experienced light snowfall, night temperature rose marginally at some places. The minimum in Keylong in Lahaul Spiti was minus 8.4 degrees, followed by Kalpa in Kinnuar minus 3 degrees and Solan minus 1 degrees.

Dharamshala and Shimla recorded 3 degrees temperature while Ambala was cold at 4.5 degrees.

Weather conditions disrupted tribal chopper flights, which could not be operated for the second consecutive day.

In Punjab, night temperatures were low at 3.2 degrees in Patiala, 4.2 degrees in Ludhiana and 4.4 degrees in Amritsar. The minimum in Chandigarh was registered at 6.4 degrees.

In Delhi, people faced inconvenience as air and rail traffic was disrupted due to thick fog, taking down the visibility level to 50 mt at 0700 hrs. As many as 97 trains were running behind their schedule while three trains, including Kafiyat Express and Swaraj Express, were cancelled.

As many as 279 flights at the Indira Gandhi International airport were operated under Low Visibility Procedures.

The maximum plummeted to the season's lowest at 12.4 degrees, nine notches below normal. The minimum was 4.3 degrees.

In view of the severe cold conditions, the Delhi government ordered schools to extend their holidays till January 13.

Ongoing cold conditions in Madhya Pradesh claimed 20 lives. Besides, a huge quantity of crops and vegetables were damaged due to severe cold. According to agriculture experts and farmers, 60 to 80 per cent crops and vegetables were damaged in Ujjain, Morena,

Chhattarpur, Bhind, Shivpuri, Datia, Sidhi, Guna, Rewa, Jabalpur, Umaria, Mandala, Shahdol, Narsinghpur districts while crops were damaged in 250 villages in Ujjain district alone.

Naugaon was the coldest where mercury plummeted to zero degree. The minimum at Umaria was recorded 0.5 degrees, Rewa 1.2 degrees, Gwalior 3.9 degrees and Jabalpur 4 degrees.

South-westerly winds in lower level restricted the impact of cold in Northern Rajasthan and some smaller pockets. The desert town of Bikaner turned out to be the coldest place in the state at minus 2 degrees.

Mount Abu shivered at minus 1 degree while Jaisalmer remained affected with icy winds. It recorded at 1.2 degrees. Elsewhere, Churu recorded 2.5 degrees and Jaipur 5 degrees.

In West Bengal, chilly winds gave the city dwellers no respite. The maximum stood at 23 degrees and the minimum at 12.3 degrees. Some other districts which witnessed sharp drop in temperature are Purulia 6.5 degrees, Darjeeling 0.2 degrees and Midnapore 10.1 degrees.

In Andhra Pradesh, moderate cold conditions prevailed over Telangana. The minimum rose at many places over coastal Andhra Pradesh and at a few places over Rayalaseema and changed little over Telangana. They were below normal at a few places over coastal Andhra Pradesh

and normal over Rayalaseema. The lowest minimum of 5 degrees was recorded at Adilabad.

Severe cold wave conditions prevailed in some parts of Jharkhand, Madhya Maharashtra and Vidarbha besides at isolated places in Orissa, and Chhattisgarh. Cold conditions also persisted in Orissa and in some parts of Bihar.


Severe cold forces Delhi Govt. to extend school holidays, fog affects train services

As people in the capital continued to shiver in severe cold conditions, the Delhi Government today extended the holidays in all private and public schools till January 13 instead of January 10 as announced earlier.

Delhi Education Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said all municipal, private and other schools had been directed to remain closed till January 13 in a fresh order, the United News of India (UNI) reported.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the maximum temperature in the capital in the past 24 hours was 12.4 degrees Celsius, the lowest so far this season and nine degrees lower than normal for this time of the year.

The minimum temperature in the past 24 hours was 4.3 degrees Celsius, three degrees below normal.

The IMD said there would be thick fog over the capital and nearby areas tomorrow morning, after which the skies would clear. The cold day conditions were likely to continue tomorrow, with the maximum and minimum temperatures around 12 and 3 degrees Celsius. The likely felt minimum temperature would be around 2 degrees Celsius, it said.

A thick blanket of fog over Delhi forced authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here to implement low visibility procedures (LVP) for more than 12 hours from late last night and caused delays ranging from 28 hours to 2 hours in the running of as many as 97 trains.

Northern Railway sources said 42 trains had been rescheduled and three were cancelled because of the foggy conditions in the region.

Most of North India has been experiencing cold wave conditioons for the past many days.

A spokesman for the IGIA said LVP were implemented from 2320 hours last night until 1148 hours today for a total of 12 hours and 28 minutes. During this period, a total of 297 flights were operated under various categories of instrument landing systems (ILS).

One flight was diverted to Ahmedabad during this period, but there were no cancellations, the spokesman said.


Minor quake recorded in Gujarat's Kutch region

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.1 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Kutch region of Gujarat tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

The tremor, which had its epicentre at latitude 23.3 degrees North and longitude 70.4 degrees East, occurred at 2040 hours today at a depth of 10 km, it said.


CPI-M says Sibal's statement underlines need for JPC on 2G scam

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) today said the Government had lost all credibility that it could carry out an impartial probe on the alleged 2G spectrum allocation scam after the statement on the issue by Union Communications Minister Kapil Sibal yesterday.

In a statement, the party said the "bizarre defence" by Mr Sibal once again underlined the need for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to investigate the allegations.

"The Minister by his unprecedented attack on the CAG (Comptroller and Auditor General) is trying to undermine the various inquiries that are presently on and influence official agencies. This is totally unacceptable," it said.

"In his view, the CAG used 2010 prices of 3G for 2008, where the subscriber base and the price of the rupee is different. Strangely enough, he does not – by the same logic -- see any problem of using 2001 prices for licenses when there were only 4 million subscribers in 2008, when the subscriber base was 300 million! For the Minister's information, not only CAG, but also TRAI has suggested using 3G prices (Section 3.82, dated 11th May 2010) for benchmarking 2G spectrum and has also given technical reasons why this can be done," the statement said.

The CPI-M said Mr Sibal had raised the NDA policy in 1999 of shifting from fixed license fees to revenue sharing and the consequent loss to the exchequer.

"He has discovered this rather late and it appears only as a defence of the current 2G scam. It was the Left that had questioned successive scams in telecom – from Sukh Ram and his infamous case by case approach to NDA shifting to revenue sharing in 1999 and now the 2G scam. Sibal must realise that earlier scams under the Congress or the NDA cannot be used to justify the current 2G scam," he said.

The statement said the Left had not only raised the question of culpability of those whose acts had led to this huge loss to the exchequer but recovering this loss from those corporate houses who had benefited from former Communications Minister A Raja's "2G largesse".

"Mr. Sibal's statement is clearly meant to protect the ill-gotten gains that the corporate houses have made by securing 2G license and spectrum at throw-away prices. This is the reason why Sibal is attacking the CAG report.

"It is clear from Sibals' defence that the UPA Government is far more deeply involved than just the lone acts of a Raja. Therefore, it is important that a JPC be constituted to go into all the details of the Telecom scam. With Sibal's statement, this Government has lost all credibility that it can carry out any impartial probe on this issue," the CPI-M added.


RJD demands CBI probe into Keshri murder case, seeks Modi's removal

The Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) today demanded a thorough inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the murder of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA from Purnea Rajkishore Keshri and sought the removal of Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi till the inquiry was over.

State RJD president Ramchandra Purvey, spokesman Shakeel Ahmad Khan and principal general secretary Ram Kripal Yadav told mediapersons here that "the Bihar government should hand over the Keshri murder case to CBI to ensure impartial investigation as several leaders of the ruling party are involved in the case and the Bihar police are not in a position to do justice to a case of such nature."

"Mr Modi should be removed from the post till completion of the inquiry," the RJD leaders said, adding that his recent statements appearing in the media indicated that he was trying to influence the investigation of the the case to save some leaders of the ruling party.


BJP attacks Govt. on corruption, price rise, terrorism and governance

BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, senior party leaders L K Advani, Arun Jaitley and Murali Manohar Joshi lighting the lamp to inaugurate the two-day National Executive meeting of Bhartiya Janata Party in Guwahati on January 8, 2011. UNI PHOTO
BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Lok Sabha Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, senior party leaders L K Advani, Arun Jaitley and Murali Manohar Joshi lighting the lamp to inaugurate the two-day National Executive meeting of Bhartiya Janata Party in Guwahati on January 8, 2011. UNI PHOTO

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today launched a frontal attack on the ruling Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government on the issues of corruption, terrorism, prices and governance and said the people were looking towards it to provide leadership that would translate their aspirations into reality.

"The nation is facing one of the severest crises of leadership," BJP President Nitin Gadkari told the meeting of the National Executive of the party which began in Guwahati, Assam today.

"From sports to civil supplies and telecommunication to civil aviation, UPA-2 has allowed every arena of governance to be exploited by scamsters. And while looters were emptying the government coffers, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was standing guard with his eyes closed and, perhaps, hands tied," Mr Gadkari said.

The BJP President referred to the alleged 2G spectrum scam and the allegations about the Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai, the conduct of the Commonwealth Games and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal's report on the Bofors gun deal.

"We have every reason to believe that these scams are not just systemic failures much less any kind of just aberrations. These scams are some kind of a planned loot of national coffers," he said, calling for a Special Investigation Team to probe the Bofors issue.

He wondered why the Government was shying away from appointing a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe the 2G issue, as demanded by the Opposition.

Mr Gadkari listed the various measures taken by the previous BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) Government to fight corruption and ensure transparency and accountability in governance, including the limit on the number of ministers and steps to streamline funding of elections.

He said the BJP had asked all the State Governments headed by it to introduce e-tendering systems and other measures for ensuring clean and corruption-free governance.

The BJP chief said the UPA's track record in fighting terrorism was also extremely poor. He said there was confusion on the Kashmir front and rudderlessness on the Naxal issue.

"While we all in BJP and many of our Chief Ministers are consistently asking for a common strategy and concerted efforts to fight with the Naxalite menace, UPA is speaking in many voices on every terror related issue. Within the ruling party, there are elements who hobnob with the Naxals, pamper those who see India as an encroacher in Jammu and Kashmir and try to play with the sensibilities of the majority community by blowing up the threat of peripheral groups to rake up the so called Hindu terrorism," he said.

He said the "irresponsible utterances" of some UPA leaders were bound to weaken India's case and give a fillip to those from across the border.

"At this juncture, we demand that the government publish the entire data pertaining to terrorist attacks since 2004 and give details of the investigations completed, cases filed and conviction made of the guilty. The nation also seeks information about the relief and rehabilitation measures taken by the government for those who are victims of terror in one way or the other," he said.

On inflation, he alleged that, instead of bringing the prices down, there was an increase in the list of items becoming dearer.

Mr Gadkari accused the Congress of neglecting the development needs of the North-East region and recalled that the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led NDA government had set up a Ministry for the Development of the North-East Region (DONER). He listed the steps the party is taking with regard to the region, against the background of the coming Assembly elections in Assam.

He also talked about the achievements of the various state governments headed by the BJP and their commitment to good governance.

The BJP President hoped the Government would take all necessary steps to build upon the recent visit of United States President Barack Obama to India’s advantage; especially in respect to India’s war against terrorism.

He crititicsed the Government's policy on Pakistan and urged the Government to take a discerning view of "enlightened self-interest" in its interactions with China.

He welcomed the Allahabad High Court verdict on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title suit and hoped that all sections of society would now help make a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya possible.

Mr Gadkari urged the party to prepare itself for assembly elections in Assam, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry, saying they would give the BJP an opportuity to expand its support base.

"I earnestly appeal to the people of Assam to give BJP a chance. Let me assure them that if we are given an opportunity, our government will not only prevent any further infiltration resolutely but also drive away all those who are not citizens of India and are staying here illegally" he said.

He spoke about the importance of the BJP's stellar performance as part of the NDA's victory in the recent Bihar assembly elections.

"The strike rate of 89% is a historic feat in the annals of India’s electoral history. There are multiple factors that made this success possible and we must understand them. Our State leadership as well as all 'karyakartas' deserve all congratulations for this success. United party organisation, micro-management at the grass root level, right selection of candidates and above all the credibility that we have painstakingly earned on the front of good governance are some of the key factors," he said.

He also said that Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, of the Janata Dal (United), had contributed greatly in this victory of the NDA.

"After we had met at Patna in June last, many of our state units have achieved remarkable success in different elections. In Jammu and Kashmir, in the elections for Ladakh Autonomous Region, for the first time we have a representation with five of our candidates emerging victorious. In Gujarat, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, people have reposed their faith in a big way in the BJP in local elections. In Kerala also we have increased our tally in local elections. Let me also share a sense of satisfaction over noteworthy electoral success achieved by our units in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh as well as Andaman Nicobar and Dadara Nagar Haveli," he added.


President awards standard to 31 Sqn and colours to 9 BRD of Air Force

President Pratibha Patil, who is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, awarded the prestigious Presidential Standard to 31 Squadron and Colours to 9 Base Repair Depot (BRD) of the Indian Air Force during a ceremonial parade held at Air Force Station, Lohegaon in Pune, this morning.

The Commanding Officer of 31 Squadron, Wg Cdr Ashutosh Srivastava, received the Standard whereas Air Officer Commanding of 9 BRD, Air Commodore B R Chandran, received the Colours from the President. Both formations of the Indian Air Force (IAF) are based at Pune.

IAF Operational Squadrons become eligible for award of Presidential Standards after completion of 18 years, while Base Repair Depots and Training Institutions become eligible for award of Presidential Colours after 25 years.

An official press release said the selection is based on their past record and achievements during peace as well as hostilities and acknowledges the rich heritage and impeccable record of meritorious service rendered by the units. The Colours are awarded to non-flying formations and Standards are awarded to Operational Units.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Patil said that, as the country embarked on the path of economic progress, it was necessary to preserve peace, for which effective deterrence was necessary.

"We do not wish to initiate or encourage conflict in the region but if it is thrust upon us, I am confident that our Armed Forces will rise to the occasion and keep the country’s flag high," she said.

Maharashtra Governor K. Shankaranarayanan, state Cooperatives Minister Harshavardhan Patil, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) Air Chief Marshal P V Naik, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), South Western Air Command, Air Marshal A K Gogoi, and AOC-in-C, Maintenance Command, Air Marshal P V Athavale were present on the occasion.

The parade was commanded by Group Captain N N Sinha, the Chief Operations Officer of Air Force Station, Pune. The Lohagoan Air Base houses three fighter squadrons, and also has two technical training schools, one missile squadron, one radar unit and Air Force Intelligence School. Air Force Base, Pune continues to be a frontline operational base and is presently commanded by Air Cmde Shreesh Mohan.

The President also released the First Day Cover of a postal stamp on 31 Sqn and 9 BRD at the function. The Air Warrior Drill presented a display of precision and daredevilry on the occasion.

The 31 Squadron was formed at Pathankot on September 1, 1963, and was equipped with the potent French Mystere aircraft. During both the wars with Pakistan in 1965 as well as in 1971, the squadron was extensively employed in the ground attack role in support of the Indian Army on the western front. The squadron operated Mysteres till 1973, and then the Indian made Maruts till 1983 before re-equipping with the MiG 23 which it flew from 1983 till its number plating in September 2003.

The squadron was resurrected on January 1, 2009 at Air Force Station Pune under the command of Wg Cdr A Srivastav. The squadron has been the backbone of the IAF’s strike force in several operations including Brasstracks, Meghdoot, Safed Sagar, Parakram and Vijay Chakra. For its gallant role in various operations, the squadron has earned one Maha Vir Chakra, three Vir Chakras, one Vishit Seva Medal apart from several commendations by CAS and C-in-Cs. The squadron is now re-equipped with the cutting edge SU-30 MKI multi-role fighter, armed with a state-of-the-art radar, avionics, beyond visual range missiles, precision guided ground attack weapons and air to air refueling capabilities increasing the operational capability of the squadron manifold.

9 BRD undertakes major repair and servicing of a variety of avionics, ground-to-air communicatioin equipment, radar and navigational aids and airfield support equipment. It is now on the threshold of inducting new repair lines which would significantly enhance its support to air operations. The depot, initially known as the Base Signals Repair Unit (BSRU), was formed on May 1, 1957 with the amalgamation of two sections - namely Wireless Repair Section and Radio Repair Section. During the Sino-Indo conflict and Goa Operations in 1961-62, the unit fabricated power supply unit for an Early Warning Radar within local resources, which provided valuable assistance during the conduct of air operations. The unit was re-designated as 9 BRD on April 1, 1966. During the 1970s, some special projects were accomplished. Subsequently, in Kargil Operations a major thrust was laid towards indigenization. The depot has not only met the field units' demands on main equipment, but has been instrumental in indigenigation of several critical sub-assemblies and modules, the release said.

The depot contributes immensely in sustaining existing operational vehicle leap-frogging towards modernization in an era of rapidly changing technology. 9 BRD is presently commanded by Air Cmde B R Chandran.

Interacting with media after the function, Air Chief Marshal Naik said that substantial upgradation would be made to the infrastructure of the Pune Air Force station.


BJP focuses on corruption at National Executive meeting in Guwahati

Incensed over Communications Minister Kapil Sibal's outright rubbishing of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on 2G spectrum allocation and the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal Order that the Rs 41 crore kickbacks paid to Bofors agents were taxable, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today launched a broadside against the Government and said the party would thwart all hush-up operations.

The party's National Executive, which started here today, is all set to come up with a resolution on corruption, which according to party sources, will highlight the alleged corruption of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government and draw up a blueprint to take up the issue both in and outside Parliament, even at the cost of stalling the coming Budget Session.

The Winter Session of the Parliament was entirely washed out without transacting any business.

The leaders attending the conclave aired serious concerns over Mr Sibal's latest stand that the CAG had arrived at an erroneous conclusion that the loss to the exchequer was Rs 1.76 lakh crore and said that, with this development, there would be no compromise at all on their demand for a probe by a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) into the affair.

If there was no loss to the exchequer, the Government must explain why they made DMK's A Raja resign as Communications Minister, they said. They also said Mr Sibal's argument had negated the existence of the CAG, Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a top BJP leader said.

The party averred that it would not get into the trap of the Congress attempts to divert the issue of corruption and terror and the party would stick to its stand.

The verdict of the Income Tax Appellate Tribunal, that the Rs 41-crore commission paid to Bofors agent Win Chadha and Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi was taxable, has given the BJP a big stick to hit a combative Congress with at the two-day meeting taking place in this picturesque city on the banks of the Brahmaputra.

With the Congress dumping the 2G spectrum issue, the BJP has caught on to the age-old Bofors issue which got revived by the ITAT order which directly links with the Bofors agents -- Win Chadha and Italian fugitive businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, believed to have direct connections with the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's house when the scam broke out in the mid-1980s.

Top party leaders including Chairman of the BJP Parliamentary Party L K Advani, BJP President Nitin Gadkari, Leaders of Opposition Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley and Chief Ministers of BJP-ruled states, have all arrived in this state, which is due to elect a new legislative assembly before May 26 this year.

The party will link its corruption resolution with the rising prices to pursuance of wrong policies and non-governance and a massive rally against corruption has been proposed to be held on Sunday.

A whopping 18 per cent rise in food commodity prices, denial of development to the masses and governance are the other issues that will be under sharp focus.

Although the party has announced its decision to go it alone in the Assam elections, the leadership has not ruled out the possibility of a tie-up with the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP).


Jeweller shot dead in Ramabai Nagar, UP

A jeweller was shot dead by six unknown assailants in Jagner area of this Uttar Pradesh district last night, the police said today.

They said the man, identified as Amarjeet, was going to his house after closing down his shop when he was intercepted by some unknown assailants who shot at him and fled with a bag of jewellery.

Police said the jeweller was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. A search was on for the assailants, they added.


J&K: Leh with -14 degree coldest, light snowfall in upper reaches

Leh with minus 14 degrees Celsius was the coldest in Ladakh region while Gulmarg, the coldest in the Kashmir valley, experienced light snowfall early this morning.

The Western Disturbances (WD) had eased the cold wave conditions in the Kashmir valley, where the upper reaches also experienced light to moderate snowfall.

A Meterological department spokesman said the minimum temperature at Leh dipped further because of partial cloudy weather.

It was minus 14 degrees this morning against minus 9.8 degrees yesterday, when the sky remained cloudy.

Kargil did not witness any major change as the minimum was recorded at minus 10.4 degrees this morning against yesterday's minus 10 degrees.

The world famous ski resort of Gulmarg, about 55 km from here in north Kashmir district of Baramulla, experienced light snowfall, a hotel owner told UNI over the telephone.

He said in the upper reaches about four to seven inches of snowfall was recorded. There is already about two feet of snow on the slopes, he said, but added the arrival of tourists had yet to pick up.

"We still await skiers and other adventure lovers and tourists," he said adding last year was a bumper season.


Rajasthan: Bikaner at -2 colder than Mount Abu

The desert town of Bikaner at minus 2.0 degrees Celsius turned out to be the coldest place with south-westerly winds in lower level restricting the impact of the cold wave in northern Rajasthan and some smaller pockets.

The northern town, where the mercury stayed at zero degrees last morning, recorded a further fall of two degrees today to turn colder than Mount Abu which recorded minus 1.0 degrees, Meteorology office sources said.

The weather conditions in the Pilani town of Jhunjhunu district also remained grim with the mercury touching the mark of 0.4 degrees, almost the same level of 0.5 degrees that it was at yesterday.

Jaisalmer also remained affected with icy winds as the famous tourist resort shivered at 1.2 degrees.

Elsewhere in the state, Churu recorded a minimum temperature of 2.5 degrees, followed by Ganganagar 3.7 degrees, Udaipur-Dabok 4.7 and Jaipur recorded five degrees.

Several stations including Ajmer, Jaipur, Udaipur, Churu and Kota recorded rise in night temperatures under the impact of the south-westerly winds, sources said, adding the change in wind pattern might ease further the cold wave conditions in a day or two.


Sibal's statement on CAG report in 2G "objectionable": Swamy

Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy today said he would move an interlocutory application in the Supreme Court seeking to restrain Union Communications Minister Kapil Sibal from dealing any further with the files related to the 2G spectrum allocation.

Mr Sibal had yesterday said that the Comptroller and Auditor General's figure of a presumptive loss of Rs 1.76 lakh crore in the 2G spectrum allocation was "utterly and totally erroneous" and shifted the blame to the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.

"The statement by Mr Sibal seeking to rubbish the CAG report on the 2G scam is not only stupid and highly objectionable, but also a contempt of the Supreme Court," Dr Swamy said in a statement.

He said the apex court had already passed an order directing the CBI to report to the court on the progress of the probe in the alleged 2G scam and also directed the investigation agency to take the CAG report as a basis for further inquiry into the case.

"Mr Sibal's ill-formed criticism of the CAG report, perhaps on the direction from the beneficiaries of the 2G deal, is tantamount to influencing the investigation carried out by CBI," the Janata Party president stated.


Fog disrupts train services as cold day conditions continue in Delhi

A thick blanket of fog over Delhi forced authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here to implement low visibility procedures (LVP) for more than 12 hours from late last night and caused delays of more than onen hour in the running of more than 80 trains.

The capital continued to experience cold day conditions, with the minimum temperature in the past 24 hours remaining at yesterday's level of 4.3 degrees Celsius, three degrees below normal for this time of the year.

The maximum temperature in the past 24 hours was 15.6 degrees Celsius, five degrees below normal, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

Most of North India has been experiencing cold wave conditioons for the past many days.

The IMD said the cold day conditions were likely to continue and forecast the maximum temperature for today would be around 11 degrees Celsius. It said the maximum and minimum temperatures were likely to be 12 and 5 degrees Celsius tomorrow and 14 and 5 degrees on Monday.

A spokesman for the IGIA said LVP were implemented from 2320 hours last night until 1148 hours today for a total of 12 hours and 28 minutes. During this period, a total of 208 flights were operated under various categories of instrument landing systems (ILS).

One flight was diverted to Ahmedabad during this period, but there were no cancellations, the spokesman said.

The Northern Railway said 83 trains were running late by more than one hour because of the fog in the region, while 9 trains had been rescheduled and one train cancelled.


CBI raids on excise officials, gutka company in Indore

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team has raided premises of three Central Excise and Service Tax (CEST)Department officials and eight premises of a city-based gutka company in connection with alleged irregularities to the tune of crores of rupees.

CBI sources said separate teams conducted simultaneous raids on the premises of the three officials as well as the premises of the gutka company on Thursday.

The three officials had allegedly helped the company to evade tax on the basis of fake documents, the sources added.


3 killed, 7 hurt in blast at fire cracker unit in Punjab

At least three people were killed and seven injured in a blast at a fire-cracker manufacturing unit in a house of Fajjupur village in Dhariwal sub-division of this district in Punjab early this morning.

The blast occured in the unit owned by a person called Baljinder Singh at about 0430 hrs and it was so powerful that five other houses in the vicinity caught fire and collapsed due to its impact, police said.

About ten people were still trapped in the debris of the houses, police said. Police personnel and fire fighters were trying to rescue them.


PM says world expects India to play bigger role in global polity, economy

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Saturday the world expected India to play a more important role in the management of global polity and economy.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh releasing a book at the inauguration of the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2011, in New Delhi on January 08, 2011. The Chief Guest of New Zealand Governor General, Anand Satyanand and the Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi are also seen.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh releasing a book at the inauguration of the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas-2011, in New Delhi on January 08, 2011. The Chief Guest of New Zealand Governor General, Anand Satyanand and the Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi are also seen.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the world expected India to play a more important role in the management of global polity and economy.

"India’s rise as an emerging nation is welcomed as a positive factor in international relations," Dr Singh said in his inaugural address at the 9th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas (PBD), the high-profile annual convention of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and persons of Indian origin (PIOs) being held here.

He noted that the year gone by had been a busy year for Indian diplomacy. Among other things, India had the honour of receiving leaders from all five countries which are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Dr Singh said India's contribution, whether in the G-20 or in the Climate Change conference held recently in Cancun, were noteworthy and derived from its unique experience of tackling the challenge of developmental challenges, its emphasis on values and its tradition of building consensus among different sections and interests.

"We have this year become a member of the United Nations Security Council for a period of two years. We will play our due and commensurate role in international bodies and we will seek to promote what is good for India and good for the world at large," he said.

He said he had, last year, visited many countries with large Indian communities to renew contacts and bonds of affection, including Saudi Arabia, Canada and Malaysia. In Malaysia, he said he had the privilege of inaugurating the Little India district in Kuala Lumpur with Prime Minister Mohammed Najib.

"It was a very emotional experience for me. It was a symbolic acknowledgement of the contributions that have been made by many other ‘little Indias’ to local communities across the world. I felt very proud when leaders of these countries praised and appreciated the role of Indian communities in their nation building efforts and processes," he said.

The Prime Minister said India’s soft power was an increasingly important element in our expanding global footprint.

"This is a matter which came up yesterday in Prime Minister’s Advisory Council and several distinguished members laid emphasis on the more effective use of India’s soft power. The richness of India’s classical traditions and the colour and vibrancy of contemporary Indian culture are making waves around the world," he said.

Dr Singh said the Government had decided to establish new Indian cultural centres in the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, France and Australia. He urged the Indian communities in these countries to support and patronise these centres so that they became effective instruments for projecting the diversity and splendour of composite Indian culture.

He said the welfare of the large number of workers that emigrate from India was a matter of special concern to the Government. To improve the conditions for migration overseas, the Government had signed Social Security Agreements with twelve countries and finalised Labour Mobility Partnerships with two others, he said.

He said the Government was negotiating a generic arrangement with the European Union. As a further measure, it had now extended the facility of the Indian Community Welfare Fund to all Indian Missions, he said, taking the opportunity to commend the efforts of Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi in this matter.

The Prime Minister said the Government had introduced the Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card and the People of Indian Origin (PIO) card to facilitate visa-free travel to India as well as to provide the rights of residency and participation in business and educational activities in India.

He said the Government had recently reviewed the functioning of these schemes, and have decided to merge the OCI and PIO cards into a single facility. The Government hoped to iron out some of the problems that had arisen in the implementation of these schemes, he said.

Dr Singh noted that the North-Eastern States were the partner-States for this year's PBD and pointed out that he represented Assam in Parliament.

"I know what boundless potential the North Eastern region has to contribute to our nation-building given the right opportunities. Providing gainful employment opportunities for the youth is a real challenge. I encourage the diaspora to join hands with local and national efforts to accelerate the pace of development of this region," he said.

He said he was glad that the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs was planning to launch a "skills initiative" for overseas employment of people from the North Eastern region. Towards this end, the Government would identify an Institute of Excellence to promote technical skills in the region in the areas of hospitality and healthcare, he said.

Dr Singh said that, since the last PBD in January 2010, the Government had enacted a law which has accorded non-resident citizens the right to register themselves in the electoral rolls of their constituencies.

"Our government is framing appropriate procedures to give effect to this new legal provision which will give NRIs their legitimate right to participate in the country’s electoral processes. I have no doubt that their participation will be welcomed by the constituencies in which you do participate. They will bring a breath of global fresh air to our politics, I sincerely hope," he said.

The Prime Minister said that, despite the uncertain global economic scenario, India's economic recovery was progressing very well.

"In the last two quarters, our growth rate of Indian economy has been 8.9% and we expect that for the entire year it will be around 8.5%. We expect that from the next year onwards we will be able to grow at a rate between 9 and 10%," he said.

Dr Singh said this growth was vital to fund the country's ambitious social development programmes and create employment opportunities for its young population. It would also create new bonds of interactions and connectivity between India and the overseas Indian communities, he said.

He said the Government was examining seriously how to make systemic changes that ensure more transparent procedures and safeguards in the governance processes.

"I believe our democracy is sturdy, vibrant and has their own inbuilt mechanisms for redressal and course correction. We need to build consensus on far-reaching changes that may be required in processes of governance and in our legal or electoral systems. We are determined to work sincerely towards this end," he said.

Dr Singh said the PBD had enabled the establishment of a new bond between India and her children who live around the world.

"It is a new bond based on our pride in the achievements of people of Indian origin worldwide and their pride in India's re-emergence as a cradle of creativity adventure and enterprise.

"These interactions have enabled you to discover a new India and feel enthused by our progress. When you see the knowledge explosion in Bangalore, the entrepreneurial vibrancy of Gujarat, the creativity of Tamil cinema, the awakening of a new India, you feel proud to say you are a person of Indian origin," he said.

He said that, similarly, there was today great appreciation in India of the impressive achievements of the people of Indian origin around the world. "Your hard work, your creativity inspire us," he said.

"I do sincerely believe the coming of age of the Pravasi Bharatiya has enabled the international community to recognise that India and the people of Indian origin have a new message for the world at large," he said.

"India has a message for the world. It is the message of pluralism, of tolerance, of the balance between individual rights and collective responsibilities. It is this message that every daughter and son of this great Mother Land of ours symbolises. Each one of you – living in different countries, different faiths, different languages, different beliefs - are a symbol of that great idea of 'unity in diversity' that India represents," he said.

Dr Singh said that, yesterday, at the meeting of the Prime Minister's Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians, he was struck by how many of the members spoke about education and health care and what more India should be doing to develop Indian brain power.

"I think it would not be an exaggeration to say that the sterling achievements of our diaspora represent a triumph of the value that Indian culture places on education. We hope to use the wisdom, experience and resources of the global Indian community to develop a world class education system, particularly in the field of higher education," he said.

New Zealand's Governor General Sir Anand Satyanand is the Chief Guest at this year's PBD.

Dr Singh said Sir Anand had taken keen interest in revitalising relations between India and New Zealand and had been a source of great encouragement for the expansion of our bilateral relations in all fields.

"His achievements in the fields of law, jurisprudence, public service and international relations, and his deep knowledge of several languages are a matter of inspiration for the entire overseas Indian community," he said.

Dr Singh also paid tribute to management guru C K Prahlad, who passed away recently.

"We will solely miss his vast knowledge and experience in the Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians and other bodies where he made valuable contributions to the evolution of public policies particularly directed at raising the living standards for the poorest section of our community. We honour Professor CK Prahlad by dedicating the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas Oration to his memory this year," he added.

About 1300 delegates from around the world have registered for the three-day event which has as its theme, "Engaging the Global Indian".

President Pratibha Patil will confer the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards 2011 to distinguished NRIs and PIOs and also deliver the valedictory address on January 9.

This year's event will feature a special session on the North East on January 7 as also a special plenary session on "Investment Opportunities in the North-Eastern Region" on January 8.

PBD 2011 would focus on the young overseas Indians, with a plenary session on the theme.

The annual C K Prahlad Memorial lecture will be delivered at PBD 2011 by Dr Gautam Ahuja of the University of Michigan.


PM chairs meeting of Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has assured overseas Indians that their concerns about inclusiveness, quality of governance, access to education and healthcare in India were engaging the attention of the Government.

"There are enormous opportunities available in India, and we need to revitalize the spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship latent in our system by suitable implementation mechanisms," he said while chairing the second meeting of the Prime Minister’s Global Advisory Council of Overseas Indians here yesterday.

Fourteen eminent overseas Indians from across the world attended the meeting. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi and senior officials also attended the meeting.

Dr Singh thanked all the Council members for a very rich and varied discussion and bringing new perspectives to tackle well-known challenges facing India.

He said the discussions in the Council were an essay in mutual comprehension and assured the members that there would be a better representative group of Ministers at its next meeting.

The Prime Minister thanked all the members for taking time out from their busy schedule and sharing their vast experience and wisdom on ways to engage overseas Indian community to India’s development efforts. He assured that the Government will work on suggestions made by Council members in the coming months.

According to an official press release, the members of the Council appreciated the efforts made by the Government of India to carry forward various suggestions emerging from the first meeting of the Council and inter-sessional deliberations by the Council members.

To enable the overseas Indian community to contribute effectively to India’s development challenges, members offered many suggestions such as to establish a structured engagement with young overseas Indians, promoting open architecture for collaboration in higher education, flexible higher education system, greater interface between Government R&D laboratories and university system for technological development and innovation, global outreach of India’s soft power, technology based mechanism for facilitating philanthropy work, welfare of migrant workers, greater outreach and use of alumni networks abroad.


Seat sharing talks with Congress after Pongal: Karunanidhi

Asserting that the alliance between his Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Congress remained strong, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today said the party would hold seat-sharing talks with the Congress after the Pongal festival.

Talking to newspersons after a meeting of party MLAs here, the DMK chief said both Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said the alliance between the two parties remained as strong as ever.

Earlier in the morning, Tamil Nadu Congress Commmittee (TNCC) President K V Thangabalu called on the Chief Minister at the new Secretariat, before the start of the Assembly session.

The Congress leader said he met the Chief Minister to extend his New Year greetings as he was not in the city at the time.

The Congress leaders have already said the alliance is strong and he had nothing to add, Mr Karunanidhi said.

On former telecom minister A Raja being allowed to be prosecuted in connection with the 2G spectrum scam, Mr Karunanidhi said he did not want to say anything as the matter was sub-judice.


Ex-CJI's brother K G Bhaskaran resigns as Kerala Govt. pleader after allegations

Former Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnanan's brother K G Bhaskaran today resigned from his post as Government Special Pleader in the High court here today.

Mr Bhaskaran, who is facing serious allegations of amassing wealth disproprotionate to his known sources of income, sent his resignation letter to Advocate General (AG) C P Sudhakara Prasad through a messenger, the AG's office said.

The resignation was stated to be due to health reasons. Mr Bhaskaran was on medical leave after being directed by the Advocate General either to demit office or to go on leave, following the allegation that he had amassed wealth.

Mr Bhaskaran was appointed as special Government Pleader to defend cases against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the state.

According to the allegations, Mr Bhaskaran had purchased about 60 acres of land in Dindigul in Tamil Nadu in 2005-2006 in the name of his wife, children and a close releataive of Justice Balakrishnan and had built a farm house there.

There were also reports that Mr Bhaskaran and his wife Ratnaamma, a retired Judicial Magistrate, were building a palatial house in Puthen Kurushu in Ernakulam Distirct and that he had spent over Rs 1 crore on it.

The allegations against the former Chief Justice of India and his family, including his son-in-law Sreenijan, a former youth Congress office bearer, and his brother of amassing wealth illegally had sparked wide spread protest from all walks of life and former Chief Justice V R Krishna Iyer had demanded a probe into the allegations against Justice Balakrishnan and his family.


Tension continues along Assam-Meghalaya border after ethnic clashes

Tension continued to mount along Goalpara and East Garo Hills districts in Assam-Meghalaya border following ethnic clashes between Rabha and Garo tribes since the past weekend.

Efforts are on by both the state governments and respective district administrations to maintain peace and calm even as fresh flare-ups were reported.

Reports said villages of both communities were torched inside Assam as well as Meghalaya since last night in fresh incidents.

One person has died in the incident so far in Assam’s Goalpara district. The toll in Meghalaya’s adjoining East Garo Hills district is reported to be seven so far.

Senior Assam Cabinet Ministers Bhumidhar Barman, Nurjamal Sarkar, Rockybul Hussain and Promila Rani Brahma today visited areas in Goalpara district to take stock of the situation.

Appealing for calm and restraint, they also assured complete security to the displaced people.

About 20,000 Rabha tribal people have been forced to flee East Garo Hills district in Meghalaya since the clashes erupted.

The displaced people are being lodged in relief camps in Goalpara, while many are taking shelter in relief camps inside Meghalaya itself.

The area has been witnessing tension and clashes since the weekend between Garos and Rabhas after Garo community people allegedly attacked Rabha villages in East Garo Hills districts in retaliation of an alleged attack on Garos in Goalpara.


7 villagers gunned down in Lalgarh area of West Bengal

Unidentified armed miscreants today gunned down at least seven villagers, including two women, and injured 19, some of them critically, in Netai village in the Lalgarh Police Station area of West Midnapore district in West Bengal.

Police said at least seven people had fallen prey to the fusillade at Lalgarh. While five were killed on the spot, the others succumbed to injuries in hospital.

Tension was running high in the area and a posse of policemen had been deployed to bring the situation under control.

District Magistrate, West Midnapore, Surendra Gupta and Superintendent of Police Manoj Varma, now busy at Writers' Buildings with the Election Commission authorities, however, said they did not have a detailed account of the incident.

"We have heard that there have been some clashes at Lalgarh, details of which are being enquired into," they said.

The injured were shifted to Lalgarh Hospital and Midnapore Medical College and Hospital, where the condition of several was stated to be serious.

The deceased had been identified as Phulkumari Maity, Sourav Garai, Shyamananda Ghorui, Kablu Patra, Dhiren Sen, Dhruba Goswami and Saraswati Garai.

Unofficial sources said that some miscreants had yesterday demanded that at least one member from each family of Netai and Birkanar villages should take arms training from them.

This morning scores of villagers surrounded the two camps and started a demonstration against the order. At that point, a volley of bullets was showered on them by the armed miscreants.

The Congress and the SUCI have called a 12-hour strike separately in West and East Midnapore districts on Monday in protest against the incident.

Official sources said a Central team might visit the area to take stock of the situation.

Governor M K Narayanan, vehemently condemning the incident, said, "Violence has no place in a democracy."

Meanwhile, Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee will reach Lalgarh tomorrow, while Opposition Leader in the State Assembly Partha Chatterjee has already visited the injured in the Midnapore hospital.

Ms Banerjee came down heavily on the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) for today's incident and charged it "perpetrating the heinous crime just to remain in the saddle."

Trinamool Congress MP Shuvendu Adhikary said it was a "well-hatched attack on innocent villagers by the CPI(M) goons."

Congress leader Manas Bhunia demanded the immediate resignation of Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee following the incident.

However, State Minister Susanta Ghosh denied all those charges and said it was a "conspiracy" by the Trinamool Congress and Maoists to defame the CPI(M).

When asked, CPI(M) state secretary Biman Basu said he was not fully aware of the details of the incident as yet.


PMK set to come back to DMK fold in Tamil Nadu

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), which broke away from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)-led alliance prior to the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, is all set to come back to the DMK fold for the Assembly elections.

Confirming this, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK President M Karunanidhi said the PMK joining the DMK-led alliance had almost been finalised.

Talking to newspersons after a meeting of party MLAs here, he said the PMK had given some signals and the DMK had also responded to the signals.

Both the parties would soon hold talks, he said, adding, "We have not yet fixed the date for talks."

The PMK joining the DMK-led alliance became evident when the party legislators did not join the opposition chorus to pin down the government.

During the previous session, the PMK members had opposed the government, but changed their stand now, giving clear indications that the party had come close to the DMK.

Party founder leader S Ramadoss, who had criticised the opposition for demanding Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the 2G spectrum scam, welcomed the Governor's address.

The PMK, which fought the 2006 assembly elections in alliance with the DMK, broke away from the party after the DMK took exception to its senior leader Kaduvatti Guru who spoke against the DMK high command in a party meeting.

The relations became strained after the DMK government had detained Mr Guru under the National Security Act (NSA) (which was subsequently revoked).

Prior to the Lok Sabha elections, the PMK chose to renew its ties with the AIADMK and contested seven seats, only to draw a blank.

After AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa refused to instruct party leader and former Minister C V Shanmugam to drop a criminal case against Dr Ramadoss and his son Anbumani Ramadoss, PMK distanced itself from the AIADMK.


Development cannot be achieved with disintegration: JAC

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of United Andhra, which met here today, said that development could not be achieved with disintegration and appealed to the students of Osmania University to maintain restraint.

The JAC comprising senior Congress leaders, former ministers Mandali Buddha Prasad, and D Rajasekhar Nehru, MLA Malladi Vishnu, APCC Secretary K Sivaji, former Janata Party national president V V Rama Rao and other leaders held a round table conference and discussed the Srikrishna Committee's recommendations on the demand for a separate Telangana state.

Later, addressing a press conference, Mr Prasad said disintegration of the state would not solve the problems of backwardness.

He regretted that the Srikrishna panel did not make any suggestions for development of the backward areas in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Nehru thanked the people of Andhra Pradesh for their support to the united Andhra struggle. Mr Vishnu appealed to the students of Telangana region not to indulge in violent incidents.

He said Telangana leaders were inciting innocent students for their political ends and asked the student community not to spoil their career by indulging in violence.

Congress party leader Gangadhar alleged that the BJP was trying to ruin the ideal federal system of the country by disintegrating it into smaller states. It was trying to implement its agenda of Akhanda Bharat by damaging the federal set-up, he alleged.

JAC Convener and APCC Secretary K Sivaji urged the Centre to put into effect the sixth recommendation of the Srikrishna panel as it was the only ideal solution to resolve the problem without bifurcating the state.


Opposition in Karnataka demands resignation of Janardhan Reddy

The opposition Congress in Karnataka today reiterated its demand for the resignation of State Minister for Tourism G Janardhana Reddy following the Central Empowerment Committee (CEC) recommending closure of four mining companies owned by him for its alleged illegal mining activity.

However, terming the report as "biased", Mr Reddy told newsmen at Bellary that the Obalapuram Mining Company would file an appeal against the report within the stipulated 15 days.

Opposition Leader in the Legislative Assembly Siddaramaiah told newsmen here, "Our allegations about Janardhana Reddy owning mining companies and indulging in illegal mining in the State have been proved by the CEC report and he should step down immediately."

"Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has misled the House and the Governor by writing that illegal mining activities are not taking place in the State by the Ministers instead of sacking the Minister from the Cabinet as soon as the allegations were levelled by us as well as by the Lokayukta," he said.


Impose complete ban on mining in Obulapuram in Karnataka: SC panel

The Supreme Court-appointed Centrally Empowered Committee has recommended to the apex court to impose complete ban on mining in Obulapuram mines in Karnataka.

The committee in its report said the mining lease granted to the Reddy brothers for mining in Bellary by the state government should be cancelled as illegal mining in the area, which has been going on since 2004, had caused tremendous damage to the environment, including reserved forest area.

The two Reddy brothers, A Janardhana Reddy and Karunakara Reddy, are ministers in the B S Yeddyurappa government in Karnataka and they own control of the iron ore mines.

CEC has also urged the Supreme Court not to permit the Reddy brothers to lift iron ore already excavated.

The Supreme Court had last year permitted the Reddy brothers to continue mining only in the undisputed area with a warning that they would expose themselves to contempt of court proceedings if they indulged in illegal mining in the disputed area.

The Reddy brothers have been facing allegations of indulging in illegal mining in the forest area causing extensive damage to the environment and also causing a huge loss to the state exchequer running into several hundred crores of rupees.

The CEC in its report committed to the Supreme Court has said the Reddy brothers are indulging in illegal mining in the area.



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