The Hindu Important Articles 29 June 2018

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# Trouble brewing in Bihar alliance

Trouble brewing in Bihar alliance

Mixed signals emanate from Chief Minister, confidant talks tough on seat-sharing for LS poll
Seat adjustment talks are yet to get under way in Bihar in both the ruling and opposition camps but political turbulence appears clearly indicated in the State after conflicting signals emanated from Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

BJP chief Amit Shah, mindful of the same, will be in the State on July 12 for a customary meeting of the party organisation, but, sources said, he would also be meeting with Mr. Kumar and also Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Upendra Kushwaha, who also heads the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).

Mr. Kumar created a flutter not only with a strongly worded speech on communal violence two days ago, but also because his close aide, Sanjay Singh made a tough statement on seat adjustment in the State for 2019, saying: “If BJP does not want an ally in Bihar it can field its candidates in all 40 Lok Sabha seats.”

The JD(U) had, in its earlier stint in the NDA fought 15 Lok Sabha seats while the BJP had fought 25 out of a total of 40 seats from the State. In 2014, after Mr. Kumar walked out of the NDA, the BJP won 22 seats out of the 30 it contested, Ram Vilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) won six out of seven and RLSP won all three seats it contested. It is a tight squeeze and Mr. Kumar’s conflicting statements are being seen as a jockeying for a better bargain on seats.

On Wednesday, however, another close aide of Mr. Kumar, Rajya Sabha MP R C P Singh tried to pour oil on troubled waters.

Contradictory postures

“There are no differences in NDA in Bihar and it is strongly united…whenever the alliance partners would sit together, seat adjustment will be done,” he said. He also termed Mr. Sanjay Singh’s remarks as his personal view, and the Congress a “sinking ship.” This contradictory posturing was evident in the Congress ranks as well, with State leaders including PCC chief Kaukab Quadri holding meetings on the Janata Dal (U) joining the Mahagathbandhan again, while the Central leadership denied any such move.

# CWC president, members quit
They cite rude behaviour of girl’s home superintendent, lack of basic facilities
Ronald Furtado, president of Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and four members of the Committee, have resigned from their posts.

Mr. Furtado told The Hindu on Wednesday that Superintendent of Government Children’s Home for Girls Huligevva had behaved in a rash manner with the committee some time ago.

She had also not provided basic facilities to the committee’s office, which functioned on the children’s home premises.

This matter was brought to the notice of the district administration and also to the State authorities. But no action was forthcoming and this was the reason for their resignation on June 19, he said.

The four members of the committee are Muralidhar Shetty, Mohan Kumar, Nagaratna N. and Akhil Hegde.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Mary Francis told The Hindu that after the problems were brought to her notice by the Child Welfare Committee, an explanation was sought from the Superintendent.

However, her explanation was not satisfactory. Hence, she referred the matter to the Directorate of Women and Child Welfare. The matter was pending there. The committee members got upset that no action was being initiated so they resigned on June 19.

“Two days ago, I had a meeting with all five of them. They were intimated about the action taken from our end. They in-principle agreed to continue in view of the welfare of the children. If they have resigned now again, we will look into it,” she said.

# Centre may scrap UGC, proposes new regulator

Centre may scrap UGC, proposes new regulator

Places draft Bill in public domain for suggestions
Setting the ball rolling for major reforms in higher education, the Centre has placed in the public domain a draft Bill for a Higher Education Commission of India – aimed at replacing the University Grants Commission – for eliciting suggestions from educationists.

The draft Higher Education Commission of India (Repeal of University Grants Commission Act) Act, 2018, takes away funding powers from the proposed regulator and gives it powers to ensure academic quality and even close down bogus institutions.

Stakeholders in the higher education sector can mail their suggestions at [email protected] by 5 pm on July 7, 2018.

There is no plan to merge all higher education regulators, as was proposed through a planned agency called HEERA, which was supposed to be put in place as a super regulator.

The present proposal, said secretary (higher education) R. Subrahmanyam, is to replace the UGC. Once this is done after the HECI Bill is passed by Parliament, the technical education regulator AICTE and the teachers’ education regulator NCTE will also be reformed on similar lines.

The new regime separates the academic and funding aspects of higher education. While HECI will be in charge of ensuring academic quality in universities and colleges, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) – or another mechanism that will be put in place later – will be responsible for funding universities and colleges.

Closing down

Another key feature of the draft legislation is that “the Regulator will have powers to enforce compliance to the academic quality standards and will have the power to order closure of sub-standard and bogus institutions”, said an MHRD release.

Moreover, non-compliance could result in fines or even a jail sentence.

Till now, the UGC had no such powers. All it could do was to release a list of bogus institutions and not recognise their degrees.

“HECI is tasked with the mandate of improving academic standards with specific focus on learning outcomes, evaluation of academic performance by institutions, mentoring of institutions, training of teachers, promote use of educational technology, etc.,” said the release.

“It will develop norms for setting standards for opening and closure of institutions, provide for greater flexibility and autonomy to institutions, lay standards for appointments to critical leadership positions at the institutional level irrespective of university started under any law (including state list),” it said.

A senior official of the MHRD said that UGC staff would be retrained to adapt to the HECI regime.

# Gurupura bridge to be closed today
Vehicular traffic will be barred on the bridge for two hours from 6 a.m.
Senior officials from the Public Works Department, its National Highways division and civil engineering experts will inspect the major bridge across the Phalguni in Gurupura on Thursday morning.

The inspection involves deploying a specially designed bridge inspection vehicle with the help of which experts can examine the bottom of the bridge, said an engineer from the Public Works Department.

The department has decided to close the bridge on Mangaluru-Moodbidri Highway for traffic for two hours between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m, the engineer said.

The inspection attains significance in the wake of the collapse of a bridge across the Phalguni in Moolara Patna on Monday.

Retired Engineer-in-Chief of Public Works Department Jaiprasad, civil engineering expert Jaigopal, Superintending Engineer Kantharaju, Assistant Executive Engineer Yashwanth and others carried out a preliminary inspection of the bridge on Wednesday.

# KTR urges PM to set up steel plant at Bayyaram
IT Minister also seeks support for ITIR
The State government has requested the Central government to take steps to set up an integrated steel plant at Bayyaram in Khammam district in line with the assurance given in the AP Reorganisation Act 2014.

The government said it is committed to provide all the required support to make the project viable if the Centre takes steps to set up the steel plant through the Steel Authority of India Limited. Industries and IT Minister K.T. Rama Rao said though preliminary surveys had been carried out by agencies like NMDC and MECON, the Centre was yet to confirm its decision on establishing an integrated steel plant in the State.

Mr. Rama Rao met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi and submitted detailed memoranda seeking the Centre’s help in setting up a steel plant at Bayyaram and Information Technology Investment Region in Hyderabad as assured during the bifurcation of the State. The meeting comes as a follow up to the recent meeting of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao with the Prime Minister during which the former presented a list of requests to the Centre.

Mr. Rama Rao told reporters in New Delhi that the State was prepared to share 50% cost of the slurry pipeline as well as the railway line proposed between Bayyaram and Baila Dilla in Chhattisgarh. The steel plant could source the mineral from Baila Dilla if the ferrous quantity of the iron ore in Bayyaram was less.

# ‘B.Tech’ Ravi shifted to hospital
TDP decides to intensify the stir for steel plant after meeting Steel Minister
High drama prevailed outside the Zilla Parishad office in Kadapa on Wednesday as MLC ‘B.Tech’ Ravi, who had been on an indefinite fast along with Rajya Sabha member C.M. Ramesh there for the last eight days demanding the establishment of a steel plant, was forcefully shifted to a hospital amid resistance by his family members and party cadres.

They raised slogans against the Central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for allegedly dashing the hopes of the people of the backward Rayalaseema region by going back on their commitment to set up the plant.

Doctors advised Mr. Ravi to give up his fast due to a drastic fall in the blood pressure and sugar levels but he did not relent, prompting police to swing into action.

Mr. Ramesh continued his protest and insisted that the Central government should concede the demand which, he claimed, had legal sanctity as it was mentioned in the Reorganisation Act.

Attempts to shift him to hospital were foiled by his supporters, who entered into a scuffle with the cops.

Earlier, efforts by Ministers Ganta Srinivasa Rao and Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy to persuade the fasting party leaders to give up their protest failed as the duo stuck to their stand that the steel plant was the people’s aspiration, which the Central government could not disregard for any reason whatsoever.

Finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu called on the protesting TDP leaders at the venue of their protest and expressed solidarity.

The TDP decided to intensify the agitation after efforts by its MPs to secure a commitment from Union Minister for Steel Chaudhary Birender Singh during their meeting at New Delhi had failed.

The MPs told the media that the Centre was buying time on the pretext that the State government was yet to furnish full details asked by it. They claimed that the ball was in the court of the Central government to get the MECON Limited to submit its report and take a decision.

# Former CM Kiran Kumar Reddy likely to return to Congress fold
Party stepping up efforts to woo back leaders
The last Chief Minister of the undivided Andhra Pradesh N. Kiran Kumar Reddy is likely to return to the Congress fold in a few days. This is said to be the direct consequence of AICC President Rahul Gandhi telling the rank and file to woo back leaders who left because of the party’s role in the bifurcation. Mr. Gandhi told the media that leaders who joined the YSR Congress also would be brought back.

Mr. Reddy would meet former Kerala Chief Minister and AICC person incharge of Andhra Pradesh Oommen Chandy in Hyderabad on July 1. Mr. Chandy is coming to attend a wedding in the family of Congress leader T. Subbarami Reddy.

Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy opposed the bifurcation and resigned from the party in February 2014. He then founded the Jai Samaikyandhra party. His followers hoped that he would announce the much-anticipated home-coming after he met Mr. Gandhi in New Delhi about a year ago but it did not happen as it was considered too early.

Mr. Chandy said on two occasions the aim was on strengthening the party rather than forging alliances or forming fronts. Bringing back leaders was part of it.

Feelers had been sent to several leaders like former MP G.V. Harsha Kumar, former Minister Konathala Ramakrishna, three-time MLA, one-time MLC and founder of the Rayalaseema Parirakshana Samithi Byreddi Rajasekhar Reddy, Anam Ramnarayana Reddy and E. Ramapulla Reddy.

Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy along with his followers would go to New Delhi on July 3 or 4 and meet the AICC president, sources said.

# Canadian national raped in Capital, accused arrested
Crime allegedly committed at a guest house in the city
A 20-year-old Canadian national was allegedly raped by a 25-year-old man at a guest house in the Capital on Tuesday night. The accused has been arrested, the police said.

A senior police officer privy to the case said that the accused, Abhishek, the manager of the guest house, met the victim at a restaurant in Hauz Khas Village on Tuesday evening and befriended her.

“He invited the woman to the guest house and allegedly raped her there,” the officer said.

The victim managed to reach AIIMS and made a PCR call to inform the police about the incident.

Written complaint

“She also gave a written complaint in the matter,” the officer said.

The police said the woman’s statement was taken before the court under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

“The accused was arrested under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code and produced before the magistrate,” the officer said.

Visit with friends

According to the police, the woman had come to India with a group of friends less than a week ago.

The purpose of the visit was not work or education, the officer said.

“The crime scene is being inspected and other legal actions are being taken in the case,” the officer said, adding that the Canadian High Commission here has been informed about the incident.

# Local police to look into accident cases
Traffic stations to be enforcement units
In a significant initiative, the Cabinet on Wednesday decided to transfer the powers of inquiry into road accidents from the traffic police to the local police. Traffic police stations will henceforth be known as traffic enforcement units and will focus on enforcement and regulation.

According to an official statement issued by the Chief Minister’s office after the Cabinet meeting, the number of road accidents could be brought down by improving enforcement and regulation and tackling traffic snarls if the responsibility of probing road accident cases was given to the local police.

DGP’s recommendations

The decision was taken on the basis of the Director General of Police’s recommendations based on the road accident figures for the last three years.

The Cabinet also gave the green signal for creation of 186 new posts for the new police stations being set up at Mattannur (Kannur), Elavumthitta (Pathanamthitta), Kannanellore (Kollam), Pantheerankavu (Kozhikode), Udumbanchola( Idukki), and Melparamba (Kasaragod).

In addition, 30 policemen from the nearby police stations will be redeployed to the six stations which are being newly established.

Other decisions

The Cabinet also decided to provide 15 acres of land on lease in Karinthalam village in Kasaragod for establishing the Yoga and Naturopathy Post Graduate Institution, under the auspices of the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy.

The proposed institute will also have a 100-bed hospital.

To bail out HNL

In order to bail out the Hindustan Newsprint Ltd (HNL), which has been put on the privatisation block, the Cabinet decided to provide raw materials such as bamboo, reeds, eucalyptus and acacia at the existing rate of Rs. 1,000 a tonne for 2017-18 and 2018-19 as a special case.

New revenue division

The Cabinet also decided to form a new revenue division headquartered at Punalur in Kollam district.

# ‘No-fly list has cut down unruly flyers’
Jayant Sinha cites incidents on aircraft
Incidents involving unruly passengers have seen a dramatic drop ever since the government announced rules for a national no-fly list, according to Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.

“If you remember, before the no-fly list was brought out there were a lot of incidents where people were misbehaving on aircraft. But, once we issued a whole set of regulations, the number of incidents dropped dramatically. People recognise now that if you compromise safety onboard an aircraft, we will not take it lightly and the consequences are going to be severe for them,” Mr. Sinha told The Hindu in an interview.

New guidelines

Last year, the Ministry of Civil Aviation unveiled the first-ever set of guidelines imposing a ban on flying, ranging from three months up to a lifetime, on passengers found guilty of misbehaving inside a plane.

So far, only one person — Mumbai-based jeweller Birju Kishore Salla — has been put on the no-fly list and barred from flying for five years by Jet Airways after he left a hijack message in the lavatory of a Mumbai-Delhi flight last October.

The Minister informed Parliament last July, over a period of 18 months since 2016 there had been 455 cases of unruly passengers on various Indian airlines.

Airlines’ appeal

The domestic airlines in the country collectively urged the government for a no-fly list in the country after an incident in March last year involving Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad who hit an Air India staffer with a slipper 25 times for being denied a business class seat in an all-economy plane.

Mr. Sinha also said the government was committed to disinvestment of Air India and appropriate steps would be taken depending on the market circumstances and the industry dynamics.
Source:- The Hindu

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