PRIME MINISTER ASKS PEOPLE TO WORK TOWARDS EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

    The Prime Minister, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has called upon the Women of India to come together to ensure that the legislation in Parliament reserving 33% seats for women becomes a reality. This was stated by the Prime Minister while speaking at a function on International Women's Day. Shri Vajpayee exhorted that women should be given equal opportunities in society and where that does not suffice, they should be given encouragement and special opportunities such as reservation. He also stated that every one must come together and stand up against any injustices, atrocities and excesses against women. Recalling the contribution of women in the freedom struggle, the Prime Minister expressed his disappointment at the slow change in the social atmosphere with regard to women's welfare. He emphasised that the empowerment of women cannot be without struggle. This struggle, however, is to be waged by women and men together.

    Shri Vajpayee complimented non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for their roll in improving the status of women. He said that initiatives by NGOs can create a new momentum of change in States where progress in social reform is poor.

    The Prime Minister gave away the Anti Dowry Competition Awards (Dahej Mukt Abhiyan Awards) to the children who won the competitions in painting and poster competitions and English and Hindi essay competitions. The National Commission for Women has launched the Dahej Mukt Abhiyan to disseminate information about the ills of dowry through voluntary organisations. The commission believes that for a campaign like this information dissemination and networking should commence first of all with innocent minds of children who are still in their formative stage of life.

    Speaking on the occasion, the Minister of State for Women and Child Development and Youth Affairs and Sports, Sushri Uma Bharti said that educating a girl child is educating a family. With her education, she brings in greater awareness to the family on all fronts, nutritional health, sanitation, skill development and thereby lays foundation for greater prosperity. We have taken this vision a step further in the Approach Paper to the 9th Five Year Plan. For the first time in the history of Planning, women's empowerment has been made a major plan objective. All State Governments and Central Ministers/Departments are required to identify separate resources - financial and physical for women - in all their schemes and programmes to form a Women's Component Plan. With greater awareness among women, greater reporting in the media, sensitisation of the police and positive attitudes of the judiciary, which we should be in a position to ensure better enforcement of laws and under the society a safe place for women. She called upon all concerned to develop a partnership between the women's organisations, the NGOs and Government so that voluntary initiatives are strengthened by Government in response. She said the women's movement, in which the Central Social Welfare Board and the National Commission for Women too have been in the forefront, has made a major contribution in spearheading social movement to combat in incidence of violence against women, the drive to secure equal representation for women in all spheres of decision making including securing reservation for women in Panchayats, local bodies, state legislature and in Parliament. A special cover was also presented to the Prime Minister by the Minister of State for Communication Shri Purkayastha. The Prime Minister also released a cassette of songs on the occasion. A poster specially designed for the occasion was also released earlier by the Minister of State Sushri Uma Bharti.
 
 

TPDS ALLOCATIONS FOR APRIL

    The Department of Food and Civil Supplies has allocated 10.58 lakh tonnes of rice and 8.92 lakh tonnes of wheat to States/UTs for the month of April, 99 for distribution under TPDS. This includes additional allotment of 2.03 lakh tonnes of rice and 2.90 lakh tonnes of wheat allotted at Central Issue Price (CIP) applicable to Above Poverty Line (APL) families with a view to increase the availability of foodgrains in the market through TPDS.

    In addition,Gujarat has been allotted 20,000 MTs of wheat as additional allocation each for March and April at APL rates.

    Karnataka has been allotted additional allotment of 15,000 MTs of wheat over and above TPDS quotas each for the months of March and April, besides 5,000 MT of wheat per month given to the State as additional allotment for the same months at APL rates.

    Rajasthan has also been given further allotment of 15,000 MTs of wheat over and above PDS quotas each for March and April in addition to 15,000 MTs of wheat per month given as additional allotment for the same period at APL rates.
 
 

DELEGATION OF POWERS TO DCs of EPZs

    The Ministry of Industry has decided to consolidate instructions on delegation of powers to Development Commissioners (DCs) of Export Processing Zones (EPZs) for the purpose of convenience to the entrepreneurs.

    Accordingly, DCs of EPZs have been authorized to allow enhancement in the value of imported Capital Goods (CG) up to 75 per cent of the value approved initially, subject to the maximum of Rs.10 crore. They have also been authorized to allow increase in the value of CG imports in terms of rupees in the event of currency fluctuations, to attest list of imported CG both new and second-hand, and to permit capacity enhancement of Export Oriented Units ( EOU) /Export Processing Zone (EPZ) units without any limit in respect of delicensed industries only. However, the requirement of additional import of CG should not exceed 50 per cent of approved value subject to a maximum of Rs.10 crore.

    DCs have also been allowed to permit broad banding of industries, the design and production facilities of which are common and have similar manufacturing process. They have also been authorized to allow change in the name of EOU/EPZ units or the implementing agency subject to certain conditions. Change of location from the place mentioned in the Letter of Intent (LOI)/Letter of Approval (LOA) to another can also be permitted by DCs. Additional location of EOU projects can also be allowed.

    DCs can now extend validity period of LOI/Letter of Permission /LOA in respect of EOUs/EPZ units by 3 years beyond the initial validity period.

    Other powers delegated include authority to revise the Value Addition (VA) upward or downward, disposal of obsolete CG, import of Office Equipment, revision of Export Obligation (EO) provided the revision is not below E.O. prescribed in the EXIM Policy/ general or sector-specific FDI guidelines and merger of two or more EOUs. Member Secretary, Board of Approvals (BOA) for 100% EOUs is also allowed to exercise powers delegated to DCs in respect of EPZs.
 
 

8 PER CENT GROWTH PROPOSED FOR TOURIST ARRIVAL BY 2001

    The working Group on Tourism for the Ninth Five Year Plan has set a target of 8 per cent growth in tourist arrivals till 2001. The tourist arrivals for that year are projected to be 3.37 million. If the same rate of growth is applied, the arrivals for 2002 would become 3.64 million.

    This was informed by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism, Shri Omak Apang in a written reply to a question by Shri Rajnath Singh 'Surya' in Rajya Sabha today.

    As far accommodation is concerned, there are at present 66522 functioning hotel rooms in the approved sector and 46866 hotel rooms in the pipeline. These rooms are adequate to accommodate the existing tourist traffic. However, a number of incentives are being provided for the construction of more hotel rooms in the private sector to meet projected growth in the tourist traffic, Shri Apang informed.
 
 

LOCAL COMMUNITY TO BE INVOLVED IN TOURISM DEVELOPMENT

    Tourism projects sponsored by Governmental agencies are planned with a view to preserve, retain and enrich the environment rather than damage our social and cultural values or deplete our natural resources. Tourism Development Planning aims at compatibility with the environment and is normally a part of the overall area development, guided by an integrated land use plan. Hence Tourism Development in any specified area is decided after due consideration of : (i) involvement of the local community; (ii) identifying conflict interests and taking steps to minimise conflict; (iii) integration of eco-tourism to area development strategies etc.

    This was informed by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.
 
 

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AND FAMILY WELFARE HAS
SOUGHT FOR DEEMED UNIVERSITY STATUS

    Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Shri Dalit Ezhilmalai called upon the National Institute of Health and Family Welfare to diversify the scope, nature and type of its activities keeping in mind the goal of achieving health for all.

    Marking the occasion of the Institute’s Annual Day celebration here today, the Minister said that his Ministry has assigned to this Institute a major responsibility to function as a nodal agency to steer and coordinate National Training activities under countries priorities programme in reproductive and child health.

    He commended the multi disciplinary activities of the Institute in the fields of health management, health policy research, health economics and health systems research.

    Earlier, Director In-charge of the Institute said that the Institute is in the process of seeking deemed University status.
 
 

SHRI JAGMOHAN INAUGURATES SEMINAR ON  "DID IN THE NEXT MILLENNIUM"

    The Minister of Communications, Shri Jagmohan has said that India is committed towards rapid expansion and improvement of communication services and is on its way to become a super power in software and Information Technology. The Minister was speaking at the inauguration of the Seminar on "DID (Direct-in-Dialing) In The Next Millennium" here today. Commending the DID Exchange Franchisees Association in expanding the telecommunication network in the country, Shri Jagmohan said that the Association can supplement the efforts of the Government significantly in upgrading and expanding the telecom services which would provide greater scope to serve the common man and strengthen the development of information and communication infrastructure. He also complimented the Association for timely payment of licence fee, rent etc. as per the legal provisions. The Seminar is sponsored by the Centre for Development of Telematics (C-DOT).

    Earlier, welcoming the Minister the Chairman of the Association, Shri Y.K.Pandey sought the support of the Government in speedy clearances of licences, reduction in licence fees and security deposits, increasing the radius of operating area for the group etc. The Minister assured that the deliberations of the seminar in which all these problems would be discussed will receive due attention from the Government.

    The scheme DID was conceived by Department of Telecommunications (DoT) in 1994 to ensure rapid growth of the telecommunications. There are about 450 DID franchisees in the country. The one-day Seminar is being attended by the policy makers, telecom service providers and manufacturers of equipment and accessories to discuss the problems and prospects of the DID scheme.
 
 

SETTING UP OF A NATIONAL INTERNET BACKBONE

    The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has planned to set up a National Internet Backbone (NIB) covering all parts of the country. This backbone, to start with, will have a capacity of 8Mbps and go upto 155 Mbps by the year 2000. 6 Nodes will have international connectivity at 34 Mbps. The NIB will act as a transmission media to carry the Internet traffic both Government and Private to the nearest International Gateway. It will also act as a facilitator for Internet Service Provider (ISP) to ISP interconnection within the country besides facilitating roaming. This was stated by the Minister of Sate for Communications, Shri Kabindra Purkayastha in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha today.

    The Minister further stated that NIB proposed to have multi-tier structure consisting of 3 tiers. The first tier of NIB would consist of large stations with high capacity digital trunks with highest level of redundancy. Type B and C nodes shall be smaller nodes with lesser access requirements. In additional, DoT proposes to have Remote Access Server to serve Internet Dial Up Subscribers in 45 locations consisting of 14 type A nodes and 31 Type B nodes in the first phase for which the tenders have been floated. This Internet Backbone is expected to serve about one million subscribers by the year 2000. The estimated cost for setting up NIB alongwith equipment for the 45 nodes is Rs.86.00 crore approximately which is to be met from internal finance of DoT. The NIB is expected to come into force by the end of December, 1999.
 
 

DR. MURLI MANOHAR JOSHI CALS FOR PARADIGM SHIFT IN EDUCATION
REGIONAL WORKSHOP ON CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT FOR SOUTH AND SOUTH-EAST ASIAN COUNTRIES INAUGURATED

    The Union Minister for Human Resources Development, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi has called upon the Education System to gear up to the challenges being thrown up by the Market Forces. While giving the inaugural address of the Regional Workshop on Curriculum Development for South and South-East Asian Countries, here today, Dr. Joshi emphasised that the Education System has to resolve a major problem- whether the Market Forces will determine the Education System or instead, more appropriately, the Education System will not only be able to determine Market Forces but also highlight the importance of the family and family-values. He stated that the development of spiritual values must be an integral part of the educational curriculum, otherwise, market forces would run roughshod over people.

    Dr. Joshi called upon the participants to look for a paradigm shift in education and hoped they would not only address themselves meaningfully to the issue, but also come out with constructive recommendations. He outlined the issues which need to be examined while reconstructing the education paradigm- what kind of curriculum is needed and whether it can be effectively translated; what kind of co-curricular activities should be provided; and how the curriculum can help in bringing qualitative improvement in the lifestyle of the people.

    The Minister highlighted that India had always addressed the issue of holistic education, rather than data-based or information-based information. He said that the education system must acknowledge the multiple dimensions of the human personality-physical, intellectual, aesthetic, emotional and spiritual. The curriculum should provide enough opportunities for the learners to assimilate and consolidate their own strength and to use it productively and creatively. Dr Joshi called upon the curriculum designers to understand the significance of providing adequate opportunities to children to develop the right attitudes to Science – children should acquire a knowledge of scientific method in some appropriate form and become friends of science for life. He went on to say that whenever we talk about Science, it should not be dogmatically.

    Dr. Joshi pointed out that in the present world , the role of the teacher is becoming more significant. With the explosion of knowledge the world over – teachers need to update themselves constantly and also to make classrooms more interactive and participative. The classroom should help the learner with skills of learning, so that learning becomes a lifelong habit for students.

    Mr. Jacqus Hallack, Addl. Director General, UNESCO, in his address highlighted a basic challenge faced by education – how to reconcile the obsolescence of knowledge with the fast changing technology. Shri P.R. Dasgupta, Secretary, Department of Education, Professor B.P. Khandelwal, among others,were also present at the inauguration.

    The 11 day long workshop is being attended by policy makers and curriculum specialists from Indonesia, Pakistan, Maldives, Malaysia, Philippines, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Union of Myanmar and India. It is being jointly hosted by the Central Board of Secondary Education and Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya and is being held under the aegies of the Ministry of Human Resources University and International Bureau of Investigation, Geneva.
 
 

PRASAR BHARATI TO PROVIDE RADIO/TV COVERAGE TO MAXIMUM VIEWERS

    Prasar Bharati have informed that All India Radio and Doordarshan are making constant endeavour to provide Radio/TV coverage to the maximum possible viewers. The expansion of All India Radio/Doordarshan services is being carried out throughout the country in a phased manner. As per national average, All India Radio covers 97.3 per cent population and 90 per cent area whereas Doordarshan covers 87.6 per cent population and 72.9 per cent area. Various factors such as existing Radio/TV coverage in the area and demands of the people, availability of infrastructural facilities, strengthening of coverage in border, hilly and tribal areas and availability of financial resources, etc., are kept in view while finalising Radio/TV projects. For further extension of Radio/TV coverage in the country, 98 Radio Transmitters and 278 TV Transmitters of varying capacity are, presently, at different stages of implementation and more such schemes are envisaged to be taken up during the 9th plan period.

    However, eighteen LPTs are technically ready and awaiting commissioning and for some of the LPTs it has not been possible to provide requisite staff for want of sanction of new posts. To solve this problem, the Staff Inspection Unit of the Ministry of Finance has been requested to make an urgent study of the staffing norms of various Doordarshan installations including LPTs to workout their overall staff requirement. On receipt of recommendations of the SIU, necessary action will be taken for creation of requiste number of posts so that all the LPTs are suitably manned.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha today.
 
 

DG, DOORDARSHAN POST TO BE FILLED UP BY PRASAR BHARATI BOARD

    The Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha that Prasar Bharati Board is the competent authority to fill the vacant post of Director General, Doordarshan. As per the provision of the Prasar Bharati Act, 1990, as amended by the Prasar Bharati Ordinance, 1999, the appointment to the post of Director General, Doordarshan is to be made by the Prasar Bharati Board based on the recommendations of the Recruitment Board. Action on certain pre-requisites for filling up of the post, such as, framing of recruitment regulations, service conditions, etc., has already been initiated.
 
 

ACTION INITIATED TO AMEND CABLE ACT TO BRING FOREIGN CHANNELS WITHIN PRESCRIBED CODE

    The Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha said that Government has not made any attempt to carry out any study to assess the ill-effect caused by the programmes telecast by foreign T.V. channels in India as no proposal for conduct of such a general study is available with Government.

    Shri Naqvi informed that most of the satellite channels, including the foreign satellite channels, reach the viewers in India mostly through cable operators. These cable operators are governed by Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 which prescribes codes for programme and advertising. These codes do not cover programmes of foreign satellite channels which can be received without the use of any specialised gadgets or decoder. Action has now been initiated for amending certain provisions of this Act with a view, inter-alia, to bring these programmes of the "free-to-air" foreign satellite channels also within the ambit of the prescribed programme/advertising code of the cable law when transmitted through a cable operator.
 
 

ADDITIONAL ASSISTANCE FOR PRODUCTION OF SOFTWARE BY PRASAR BHARATI ON JAMMU & KASHMIR AND NORTH EAST

    The Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha said that on the recommendations of the Core Group of Secretaries on Media, an additional special amount of Rs. 14.66 crores (Rs. 10.00 crores for the current financial year 1998-99 and Rs. 4.66 crores for meeting the outstanding liabilities) has been approved by Ministry of Finance for production of special programmes by Prasar Bharati (Doordarshan and AIR) in various formats on developmental, cultural, historical and other aspects of life in Jammu & Kashmir. Likewise, an additionality of Rs. 8.00 crores for the year 1998-99 has been approved by Ministry of Finance for production of software by Prasar Bharati on North East. Total films made on Kashmir are 128 and on North East are 83.
 
 

NFDC PROMOTING QUALITY CINEMA IN REGIONAL LANGUAGES

    The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Shri Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha said today that the National Film Development Council Limited (NFDC) has produced and given financial assistance for the production of feature films and telefilms in the regional languauges under its various schemes during the last three years. NFDC is the central agency in India promoting quality cinema. Over the years NFDC has provided a wide range of services essential to the integrated growth of Indian cinema. NFDC has always worked towards the promotion of quality cinema in regional language.
 
 

CONNECTING CITIES NEAR DELHI WITH EXPRESS HIGHWAYS

    It is proposed to connect the nearby cities of Delhi with express highways . In the first phase, 4 express ways are proposed to be taken up. These are Faridabad-Noida-Ghaziabad Expressway (56 km); Ghaziabad-Meerut Expressway (60 km); Sonipat-Panipat Expressway (70 k m); and an Expressway from Loni to Aligarh via Noida-Greater Noida-Khurja (150 km).

    In addition, it is also proposed to construct a peripheral Expressay, on BOOT basis by Government of NCT of Delhi, covering a distance of about 85 km from Kundli in Haryana cutting across National Highway (NH) 10 near Tikri kalan and NH 8 near Rajkori to meet NH 2 near village Shahpur Kuhrd.

    These proposals/ projects are in various stages of implementation.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Urban Affairs and Employment Shri Bandaru Dattatreya in a written reply to a question from S/Shri Pankaj Choudhary and Rajendra Agnihotri in the Lok Sabha today.
 
 

EXPANSION OF MUMBAI METROPOLITAN

    There is no proposal for expanding the jurisdiction of Mumbai Metropolitan city. Under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme of Infrastructural Development in Mega Cities, a Central assistance of Rs.102.48 crore has been released from 1993-94 till date to Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority for infrastructure development in Mumbai Urban Agglomeration area. The areas of Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC) and Kalya Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC) are covered under the Mumbai Mea City Programme.

    This information was given by the Minister of State for Urban Affairs and Employment Shri Bandaru Dattatreya in a written reply to a question from Shri Ramesh Thakur in the Lok Sabha today.
 
 

FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN HOUSING SECTOR

    During the recent visit by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Employment to USA, Canada and Europe, foreign investors took keen interest in investing in the housing and real estate sectors. Since Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is yet not permitted in the housing sector, it was not possible to give any positive reaction.

    This information was given by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Employment Shri Ram Jethmalani in a written reply to a question from S/shri Vithal Tupe and D.S. Ahire in the Lok Sabha today.
 
 

CONVERSION OF LEASEHOLD PROPERTY

    The Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has reported that upto October 10,1998, 51,308 applications for conversion from leasehold to freehold have been received out of which 42,963 cases have been permitted and the remaining cases can be finalised on receipt of necessary documents from the applicants.

    At present, no alternative measures have been finalised for transfer of property in Delhi.

    This information was given by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Employment Shri Ram Jethmalani in a written reply to a question from Shri K. Yerrannaidu in the Lok Sabha today.
 
 

DELHI METRO RAIL TRANSIT SYSTEM

    Construction of Shahdara-Partap Nagar section of the rail corridor of Delhi MRTS Project would require felling of 5199 trees. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd has sought permission for felling of these trees under ‘The Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994’. Permission has been granted by Government of NCT of Delhi for felling 140 trees so far. The forest Department of the Government of NCT of Delhi is of the view that a part of the land on which trees are located is forest land and has, therefore, taken up the matter with the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India, under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.

    Frequent and periodical meetings are held between the representatives of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd., the Government of NCT of Delhi and the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment, to sort out various issues which include this issue also.

    This information was given by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Employment Shri Ram Jethmalani in a written reply to a question from Shri Rampal Singh in the Lok Sabha today.
 
 

METRO RAIL SYSTEM IN COCHIN

    A proposal for Central assistance was received from the Government of Kerala in February, 1998 for carrying out a feasibility study for a medium capacity MRTS system in Cochin. The proposal was examined in the Ministry of Urban Affairs and Employment and the State Government was advised to furnish more details with regard to the cost of the study. The State Government is yet to furnish the details in this regard.

    This information was given by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Employment Shri Ram Jethmalani in a written reply to a question from Shri George Eden in Lok Sabha today.
 
 

SATELLITE CITIES

    A scheme for new Township Development was posed to the Planning Commission for an allocation of Rs.100 crores as seed money in the Ninth Plan.

    The scheme aims at developing 100 Model New Townships during the Ninth and Tenth Plans to decongest metropolitan/large cities and create satellite towns as engines of economic growth.

    The Scheme has not yet been cleared by the Planning Commission due to paucity of funds. Therefore, at present no such scheme is in operation.

    This information was given by the Minister for Urban Affairs and Employment Shri Ram Jethmalani in a written reply to a question from Dr. Ashok Patel and Shri Chetan Chauhan in the Lok Sabha today.
 
 

BAN ON LOTTERY

    A proposal to impose a comprehensive ban on the lottery trade in the country is under consideration. The proposal covers the entire country including Kerala. Issues like loss of revenue and loss of employment opportunities will be duly considered while taking a final view in the matter.

    It may be mentioned that the overwhelming view in the Department related Parliamentary Committee on Home Affairs, which considered the Lotteries (Regulation) Bill, 1998, was for across the board ban on all kinds of lotteries. The purpose of the said Bill was, inter alia, to ban single digit lotteries. Subsequently, there was also a near unanimous demand in the House that the legal curbs should not be confined to single digit lotteries only, but should extend to all kinds of lotteries. Similarly, in the Conference of Chief Ministers held in November’98, an overwhelming majority of the Chief Ministers favoured a comprehensive ban on all kinds of lotteries.

    No specific instance of violation of directions of the Supreme Court in conducting lotteries by the State Governments has come notice. However, the directions of the Supreme Court do not prohibit imposing a ban on the lottery trade.

    This information was given by Union Home Minister, Shri L.K. Advani today in reply to a written question in Lok Sabha by Shri N.K. Premchandran.
 
 

VILLAGE DEFENCE COMMITTEE IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR

    As per the information received from the State Government, 1455 Village Defence Committees (VDS) are presently sanctioned and functioning in Jammu & Kashmir. The State Police is motivating volunteers to form some more Village Defence Committees.

    Village Defence Committees are provided with .303 rifles and ammunition. State Police has also started the process of providing some communication equipment to selected VDCs. Training of the Village Defence Committee is also being conducted. The Village Defence Committee members are volunteers, who are given training and supplied with arms and ammunition. They are supported in their efforts by a nucleus of SPO’s. Each SPO receives an honorarium from the State Government. Central Government is presently reimbursing to the State Government for a fixed number of SPOs. The norm for reimbursement on this account have been finalised recently.

    This information was given by Union Home Minister, Shri L.K. Advani today in reply to a written question in Lok Sabha by Prof. Chaman Lal Gupta.
 
 

INDIA AND MONGOLIA TO COOPERATE IN FERTILISER PRODUCTION

    India and Mongolia will explore the possibilities of setting up of Joint Ventures in the field of fertiliser production especially production of bio-fertilisers. Mr. Ayamdavaa, Ambassador of Mongolia in India called on Shri Surjit Singh Barnala, Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers and Food and Consumer Affairs here today and discussed the possibilities of cooperation between the two countries on various fields.

    Government of Mongolia had shown keen interest in establishing joint ventures in agriculture, food processing and manufacture of wool products. Shri Barnala assured Mr. Ayamdavaa that India would study the possibility of setting up mutually beneficial projects on these fields.
 


SAARC COUNTRIES SHOULD SHARE INFORMATION FOR BETTER ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: SHRI PRABHU

    The Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Shri Suresh Prabhu has called upon the Saarc countries to share information resources and expertise for solving environmental problems especially soil contamination, depletion of bio-diversity and growing industrial pollution. Addressing the Experts Meet on 'Saarc Expert Group Meeting for the proposed establishment of an Information Networking mechanism to assist member countries for protection and preservation of environment' here today the Minister said that the need of the hour was to develop a healthy and eco-friendly Saarc environment.

    Shri Prabhu expressed concern that, very little progress has so far been made in the field of Networking of environmental information in the Saarc region. Sharing of information even on common environmental problems has been insufficient among countries in this region, he said. These problems, the Minister felt could be solved if this region could develop the networking mechanism where the experiences of Member countries could be harnessed to develop a model of operation for other countries also. The present paucity of information and lack of access could be solved through an Information Technology based information resources sharing mechanism, he added.

    The Minister hoped that the proposed environment networking mechanism would cut across geographical boundaries and overcome political, social, linguistic and economic barriers effectively to emerge as a model that the rest of the world could adopt. This, if established, would go a long way in solving the environmental problems globally and take a common stand on negotiations at international forum by Saarc countries, he said.
 
 

STATEMENT BY THE HON. HOME MINISTER IN THE LOK SABHA IN RESPONSE TO CALLING ATTENTION MOTION MOVED BY DR. T. SUBBARAMI REDDY, MP ABOUT SITUATION ARISING OUT OF KILLING OF 22 HINDUS BY EXTREMISTS IN JAMMU REGION AND THE ACTION A\TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT IN REGARD THERETO

    In three separate militancy related incidents, 20 people of a particular Community were killed in the intervening night of 19th/20th February, 1999.
  • The first incident took place at Balijalaran in Rajouri Police Station (DistrictRajouri).The militants attacked the house of a teacher around 2245 hrs. where a marriage ceremony had just concluded and fired indiscriminately with automatic weapons, killing five persons on the spot. The members of the Village Defence Committee retaliated and the militants fled away from the spot. Ten persons were also injured in the said incident, out of which two later succumbed to their injuries making a total of persons killed seven.
  • In the second incident in the intervening night of 19th/20th February, 1999 at Morha Patta near Khudbani in Dharamsal Police Station (District Rajouri), four persons were killed when militants attacked a house at 0130 hrs. and started indiscriminate firing on persons who were sleeping in the house.
  • The third incident took place at village Baryana in Arnas area in Police Station Reasi (District Udhampur) in the intervening night of 19th/20th February, 1999 where the militants fired indiscriminately on the inmates, after forcing entry into the house, killing nine persons and injuring one. On hearing the gunshots fired by militants, members of the Village Defence Committee of nearby Morha Village retaliated due to which the militants fled away from the spot taking advantage of darkness. The injured was shifted to Hospital for treatment.
  • On 20.2.99, Minister for Education and Minister for Sheep Husbandry along with Divisional Commissioner and Inspector General of Police visited Baljalaran village. On 21.2.99, the Chief Minister accompanied by Prof. Chaman Lal Gupta, MP and Director General of Police followed by Divisional Commissioner visited Baryana village to take stock of the situation. Senior Police, Civil and BSF officers also visited Morha Patta on 20-21 February. The State Government and the district administration initiated prompt action in providing relief as well as additional security in these areas.
  • Immediately on getting information about the incidents, a two member Team headed by a Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs was also sent to Jammu and Kashmir. The team held discussions with various authorities of State Government and Security Forces and talked to the villagers at Balijalaran.
  • Immediately on hearing about the incidents, the Security Forces launched extensive combing operations. Encounters took place resulting in the killing of 21 militants within five days of the massacres, 20th to 24th February. Due to sustained operations carried out by the Security Forces, a total of 51 militants were killed in Jammu division in the month of February.
  • To further consolidate the situation, the State Government is working inter-alia on strengthening the Village Defence Committee System by providing them training and improved weaponry and communication equipment in select cases; increased frequency of patrolling by Security Forces of sensitive and vulnerable areas; clustering of minority population near their places of work for providing security, periodic visits by Senior State Government and Security Force Officers to remote and minority areas; and checking of infiltration of men, weapons and equipment. In addition, there is a constant monitoring of the security situation by the respective Unified Headquarters level at Jammu and at Srinagar. The situation is also monitored in the Department of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs of the Ministry of Home Affairs at regular intervals.

  • We would like to inform this August House, that the Government of India would continue to provide support to the State Government and the Security Forces in their efforts to tackle the militancy.