Today Picture



‘Farm law panel has no power, no question of bias’: Supreme Court


Chief Justice SA Bobde said, “We gave power to hear everyone and submit report to us. Where is the question of bias? No need to brand people and malign them, and on top of it cast aspersion on court.”

The Supreme Court on Wednesday took ‘serious objections’ to criticism by farmers for the committee that the court formed to resolve the impasse over the farm laws, for which thousands of farmers are protesting at Delhi borders.

Chief Justice SA Bobde said, “We gave power to hear everyone and submit report to us. Where is the question of bias? No need to brand people and malign them, and on top of it cast aspersion on court.”

The apex court has asked the government to respond to the petitions seeking reconstitution of the committee formed. The top court observed that a person will not be disqualified from the committee only because the member had an opinion on the subject.

The protesting farmers and several opposition parties have raised objections over the four-member panel formed by the court as members had expressed views in the favour of the farm laws. A member of the panel, Bhupinder Singh Mann, president of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) had recused himself from the committee.

Chief Justice SA Bobde while stressing that the experts ‘are brilliant minds in the agricultural field’ said, “You unthinkingly cast aspersions. Someone expressed opinion… he becomes disqualified? Mann had asked for modification of laws you are saying he is for laws.”

He further added, “You cannot brand people like this. People should have opinion. Even the best judges have certain opinion even they delivered judgments on the other side.”

The top court in the hearing noted, “We entertained the issue in the interest of public and farmers. If you do not want to appear don’t appear. Do not brand people. We are finding solution to this problem. Public opinion is important and it will not determine the outcome.”

The committee constitutes of Pramod Kumar Joshi, an agricultural economist, Anil Ghanwat, the chief of Shetkari Sanghatana, Ashok Gulati, agricultural economist and former chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices apart from BKU president Bhupinder Singh Mann.

Thousands of farmers are protesting at Delhi borders as they want the government to repeal the three farm laws. The protesting farmers fear that the farm laws leave them vulnerable in the hands of big corporate houses.

The Supreme Court on January 12 had stayed the implementation of the three farm laws. So far, the government has held nine rounds of talks with 40 farmer unions have but have failed to end the deadlock.

The tenth round of discussion is taking place today.




Centre, farmers to hold 10th round of talks even as protests enter 56th day


Apart from revoking the farm laws, the farmers are demanding a legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at Minimum Support Price (MSP) but the government says it is ready to bring about amendments in these laws.

The tenth round of talks between protesting farmers and the Centre would be held today even as the protests on the Delhi borders continued for the 56th day on Wednesday.

The ninth round of talks between farmers demanding revocation of the three farm laws and the centre held on January 15 had ended with no progress towards ending the stalemate.

Apart from revoking the farm laws, the farmers are demanding a legal guarantee for the procurement of crops at Minimum Support Price (MSP) but the government says it is ready to bring about amendments in these laws.

Over 40 representatives of farmer organisations present in the previous rounds of talks would meet with three Union Ministers at 2 pm at the Vigyan Bhavan. The meeting was earlier scheduled to be held on January 19 but was postponed by a day.

Kirpa Singh, a farmer leader from Punjab said that farmer leaders would first like to deliberate on their core demand for the repeal of the three laws during the latest talks.

Harinder Singh Lakhowal, Punjab-based farmer leader and Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) General Secretary said, “In the previous talks, we urged the Union government to discuss the MSP issue. We will again discuss it in this meeting as well.”

He also said that the issue of “harassment” of those supporting the farmers’ agitation by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) would again be brought up in Wednesday’s meeting.

He also asserted that all farmer unions and others spearheading the farmers’ movement were united and would continue the agitation till their demands were not accepted.

As for Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar’s remark that the farmer unions should discuss the new farm laws clause-wise, farmer leaders said that much discussion has been done on this issue for many days and they would rather like to discuss their core demand on the repeal of the laws.

The farmers are demanding the repeal of The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act 2020, and law on procurement of crops at MSP.

The farmers have been sitting on Delhi’s borders since November 26, 2020.

(With IANS inputs)




Centre convenes all-party meet on Jan 30 ahead of Budget session


Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on Tuesday that corona tests for members attending the Parliament session will be mandatory.

The Modi government has called an all-party meeting on January 30 to hold discussions ahead of the presentation of the Union Budget in Parliament on February 1.

The Centre has invited leaders of all political parties in both the Houses to the proposed meeting slated to begin at 11.30 am through videoconference. Sources said the National Democratic Alliance parties too will meet on the same day.

Parliament’s Budget session will be held in two phseses amid all precautions against coronavirus — from January 29 to February 15, and from March 8 to April 8.

The all-party meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP’s Rajya Sabha leader Thawarchand Gehlot, Deputy Leader Piyush Goyal, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prahlad Joshi, Arjun Ram Meghwal and V Muralitharan.

The one-hour Question Hour has been restored in the Budget session, which was suspended during the Monsoon session in September 2020 during corona pandemic.

Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on Tuesday that corona tests for members attending the Parliament session will be mandatory.




Ladakh to be made renewable energy hub of country


The Minister exhorted the executing agencies participating in the meeting to submit a comprehensive project report with required data, conduct surveys, study feasibility, financial requirements, set time frames and give a go-ahead to start implementing the projects on the ground at the earliest.

The government has decided to build the union territory (UT) of Ladakh the renewable energy hub of the country and also take steps to make the cold desert region carbon neutral by tapping geothermal, wind, solar and hydro energy.

These decisions were taken on Tuesday in a meeting that was presided by RK Singh, union minister of power. Ladakh’s Lt. Governor RK Mathur was also present through video conferencing in the meeting to discuss the renewable energy potentials and roadmap for carbon-neutral Ladakh.

During the meeting, a detailed discussion was made on the objectives, plan of action, bottlenecks and solutions to make Ladakh the renewable energy hub of India. Issues concerning Ladakh power scenario, energy demand and possibilities of replacing diesel with green hydrogen energy for electricity, heating and transportation purposes were deliberated at length.

MNRE, SECI, ONGC, NTPC and PGCIL officials apprised the Minister of the proposed pilot projects, other projects in pipelines, the present status of progress and current renewable energy initiatives to make Ladakh carbon neutral. The projects included harnessing the maximum potential of solar, wind, hydro and geothermal energy combination to provide 24×7 electricity supply with increased storage facility.

Mathur stressed that green hydrogen would be the best alternative to make Ladakh carbon-neutral considering its production feasibility, climatic, geographic and road conditions of the region. He said that the success of 200 KW Green Hydrogen CHP pilot project at the SNM Hospital, Leh, would be a big achievement meeting the need of electricity, heating and oxygen and the model can be scaled up for the use of army and tourists.

The Lt. Governor informed the Minister that a committee will soon be constituted to find out a long term solution for land issues for all RE projects. He also requested to consider the possibility of heavy vehicles and load carriers in Ladakh to run on hydrogen fuel and electric buses for public transport.

The Minister exhorted the executing agencies participating in the meeting to submit a comprehensive project report with required data, conduct surveys, study feasibility, financial requirements, set time frames and give a go-ahead to start implementing the projects on the ground at the earliest.

He said that these projects will not only take Ladakh towards carbon neutrality but would also provide a sustainable source of income and employment generation.




Vice Prez extends greetings on Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti


The Guru’s teachings are eternally relevant and will continue to inspire generations to come, the Vice President Secretariat tweeted quoting Naidu.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Wednesday extended greetings on the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh, saying his name epitomises courage and compassion.

The Guru’s teachings are eternally relevant and will continue to inspire generations to come, the Vice President Secretariat tweeted quoting Naidu.

“My heartiest greetings on the occasion of Guru Gobind Singh Jayanti today. Guru Ji’s name epitomises courage, compassion and service of society,” Naidu said.




Despite Covid, India serious about infra development: PM Modi


Modi also pointed out that many of us seen the time when the water was supplied in the villages through tankers and trains.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday performed the Bhoomi Poojan of Ahmedabad Metro Project Phase 2 and Surat Metro project.

He said that the Ahmedabad project worth Rs 17,000 crore is taking shape which shows that even during the Covid pandemic the country is working hard to give pace to the infrastructure development.

After the Bhoomi Pujan, Modi said, “Today, infrastructure projects worth Rs 17,000 crore is going to start, which shows that the country is serious on taking the infrastructure development project even during the Covid pandemic.”He said that before 2014, 225 km of metro lines became functional in 10 to 12 years while in last six years more than 450 km of metro lines are operational.

He further said that after Ahmedabad, Surat is one of the biggest city in Gujarat which will be connected with modern transport facility.

“In Surat, the metro project will connect the important business centres with each other,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister said that today we are developing integrated system of transportation in cities.

Which means bus, metro, train will no longer run according to it but as a collective management to complement each other, he said.

He said that on the basis of population, Surat is the eighth most populated city out of 10 in the country and fourth developed city in the world.

He said, out of every 10 diamonds in the country, nine are carved and finished in Surat.

The Prime Minister highlighted that besides cities, villages in Gujarat have also witnessed unprecedented development. “Specially the roads, electricity and the supply of the water have improved in last two decades. These are very important chapter in the history of Gujarat,” he said.

Modi also pointed out that many of us seen the time when the water was supplied in the villages through tankers and trains.

“Now 80 per cent of the population in the state is getting water supply from pipeline,” he said.

Modi said that under the Jal Jeevan Mission, 10 lakh new water connections have been distributed. “And very soon, every household in Gujarat will be getting water supply through pipeline,” he said.




CBI books official, beneficiaries in defence recruitment scam


It was found that another candidate Utkarsh Srivatsava is the son of Sunil Srivatsava, who retired as office superintendent of SQAE (Armament), Kanpur, the FIR alleged.

Two years after taking over the case, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed an FIR in the Kanpur defence recruitment scam, officials said on Monday.

The case has been filed against Santosh Kumar Tiwari, Deputy Controller in the Material Division of the Controllerate of Quality Assurance CQA(M), who was the presiding officer of the recruitment board and beneficiaries Ravi Kant Pandey, Utkarsh Srivatsava, Arti Gupta, Pratibha Mishra and Arpit Singh and other unknown persons.

The officials in Kanpur had organised a recruitment drive for six posts of Lower Division Clerk (LDC) in the Directorate General of Quality Assurance which comes under the Union Ministry of Defence. For this purpose, advertisements were issued in 2015 and appointments were made in 2017.


An internal inquiry committee headed by Brigadier Sudhindra Itnal had found serious irregularities in the recruitment process. Following the submission of a report in this regard, the recruitment board itself was dissolved by the competent authority and the services of the appointed LDCs were terminated on November 28, 2018.

In a letter to the CBI on August 10, 2018, the Department of Defence Production (DDP) mentioned “serious irregularities” of a criminal nature concerning the appointment of six LDCs in 2016 by the now-dissolved recruitment board in Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur. This letter was sent to the apex investigative agency on the orders of Minister of State for Defence, Subhash Bhamre who acted on the advice of the Central Vigilance Commission.

The official said the agency had done a preliminary enquiry against Tiwari, Sunil Kumar, SSO-II, CQA (M) Kanpur (member) and Mohammad Alim, AE (QA), SQAE (GS), Kanpur (Member) and Colonel A.K. Gandhi, Joint Controller, CQA (M), CQA (GS) and CQA (T&C), Kanpur in 2020.

In the preliminary enquiry, it was revealed that an advertisement for filing four posts of the LDCs in CQA (M) Kanpur was published in various newspapers. Later on the number of posts were increased from four to six, including three for the general category, one each for the OBC, SC and Physically Handicapped (PH) category in March 2015.

It was also revealed that 4,181 candidates had applied for the said post out of which 952 candidates were found eligible for the written test.

It said that on June 22, 2016, a Board of Officers was constituted by C. Devakinandan, Controller Kanpur to conduct the recruitment for the said posts. It said that the board comprised Tiwari, Neha Agarwal, a Scientist, Sunil Kumar and Mohammad Alim.

It further said that a written test was held on June 26, 2016 in which a total of 517 candidates appeared. “After completion of the written examination, the invigilators had collected the answer sheets and submitted the same in the room of Tiwari in an unsealed condition which was against the rule,” it alleged.

“In the enquiry it was also revealed that answer sheets were evaluated by the BOO under the supervision of Tiwari in his room and Agarwal who was an external member was not called for the same,” the official said.

He also said that on the basis of the evaluation of the answer sheets, 110 candidates were qualified for the typing test, out of which only 95 appeared for the same on September 28, 2016.

“The PH candidates were exempted from the typing test. Total 54 candidates and two PH candidates were qualified for the same post and a final merit list was published by DGQA website on November 25, 2016. Out of six selected candidates, five candidates joined their duties whereas one candidate Vivek Chandra did not join as he was selected elsewhere,” the official said.

“Investigation further revealed that there were manipulations done in the selection process by Tiwari, who altered the marks obtained by candidates at the time of rechecking,” the official said, adding that Tiwari, was also involved in evaluation of answer sheets of written exam wherein he evaluated overwritten answer sheets in contravention of the instructions of the DGCA.

“The alteration was done by Tiwari and some of the answers of the selected candidates were also changed by him after the evaluation. The answer sheets were rechecked by Tiwari and during rechecking he altered the final marks of the candidates without the knowledge of concerned invigilators,” the official alleged.

The preliminary enquiry further found that Arpit Singh, who got selected under the PH quota did not have the requisite handicapped certificate at the time of submission of the application as well as on June 26, 2016 the day of written exam and he obtained the same on August 27, 2016.

“Since, he had not submitted the certificate at the time of applying the post, he should not be eligible for the written test and exemption from the typing under PH category and his selection should be void ab-initio,” the FIR alleged, which has been viewed by IANS.

In the FIR, it said, investigation also revealed that one of the selected candidates Vivek Chandra had originally scored 52 marks which were subsequently changed to 61, similarly marks obtained by another selected candidates Arpit Singh were increased from 58 to 69 and marks obtained by selected candidate Arti Gupta was increased from 68 to 70 by Tiwari during the rechecking.

“Probe further highlighted that there was overwriting in the answer sheet of Arpit Singh in case of several answers and there was overwriting in the answer sheet of another selected candidate Pratibha Mishra, Utkarsh Srivatsava. These candidates were clearly favoured by Tiwari,” the FIR alleged.

“Even the other members of the board Sunil Kumar, Mohammad Alim who had evaluated the answer sheets, stated during the CBI enquiry that they were neither overwritten on the answer sheets nor altered the final scores of the selected candidates,” the FIR said.

“They stated that the said alteration or over writing was done by Tiwari and some of the answers of the selected candidates were edited by Tiwari after the evaluation,” the FIR stated, adding that the role of Sunil Kumar and Mohammad Alim did not surface during the enquiry.

“During the probe it was also found that Ravi Kant Pandey is a relative of H.N. Tiwari, Pratibha Mishra is daughter of Om Prakash Mishra, Staff of COD, Cantonment Kanpur and daughter-in-law of P.P. Dwivedi, the then security officer, CQA(M), Kanpur,” it said.

It was found that another candidate Utkarsh Srivatsava is the son of Sunil Srivatsava, who retired as office superintendent of SQAE (Armament), Kanpur, the FIR alleged.




Prepping for R-Day


A special dais with a glass-shield cabin is being raised for the President to take the salute.

As January comes, Delhi gets into the Republic Day mood. The city knows it will be watching another parade at India Gate soon. Rajpath already has loudspeakers blaring patriotic songs every morning. One can enjoy them while taking a short walk around the area, or while sitting at nearby bus stops.

It’s an annual ritual to test the public address system for the 26 January ceremony.

Despite all the gloom spread by overcast skies, men in uniform have begun rehearsing their march-past. Stands are being erected on both sides of the Rajpath for spectators, though their number will be much smaller this year.

A special dais with a glass-shield cabin is being raised for the President to take the salute.

The parade has been curtailed this year because of Covid. But this can’t curtail the excitement that the parade brings to the national capital.

The city behaves like a child, who insists on watching the spectacle of defence forces marching to bands, and tableaux showing glimpses of life and colours from different States. There are indications that this year the parade will run from the Vijay Chowk to the National Stadium, instead of terminating at the Red Fort. Delhi’ites have seen the parade umpteen times, but it is never enough for them. There are stories of people coming on bullock carts from neighbouring states to watch the parade in its initial years.

The villagers would leave the countryside at night to be on the parade route well in time. The city residents too would leave their homes early and take DTC buses to get dropped at the closest points. It was like a picnic for many as they brought food and fruits to enjoy during and after the parade.

The excitement abated a little after live coverage of the parade started on television.

The Covid pandemic may have cast a shadow over the show this year, but it cannot suppress the pride people attach to watching the parade.

For those watching the parade the first time, it leaves memories of a lifetime.

An unavoidable irritant connected with the event is growing security cover.

Already Rajpath is cordoned off for pre-parade preparations. Domestic tourists or locals wanting to have a close look at the India Gate need to take a long detour from the nearest Metro station.

This year’s January has been unusually cold and wet. People waited for the middle of the month for the Lohri night bonfires. This year too, all across the city, people collected wood for the fires to keep warm, and to drive away their depression. The past year had given them little else other than gloomy Covid news.

There was speculation that the pandemic could get worse during the winter. Fortunately, it eased in the capital, although the flow of news from different parts of the world showed the lurking danger. Covid has turned the world even smaller. As festivals come and go, the continuing farmers’ protest on Delhi’s borders sits heavy on people’s minds.

They keep wondering how the whole issue would be resolved. The farmers consider the Centre’s new agri laws an attack on their freedom to do farming the way they like it, with a potential of destroying their livelihood eventually. Nothing less than the abrogation of the laws is acceptable to them.

The Supreme Court has for the time being stayed the implementation of the laws. The farmers continue their dharna and have planned a tractor-trolley march to celebrate the Republic Day. The day will mark the completion of two months of their dharna at Singhu border in North Delhi. Considering the frequent suicides reported from the dharna venues, groups of artistes have been visiting them to express solidarity




Haridwar gets a makeover with wall paintings for Kumbh


The Uttarakhand government is using wall painting as a medium to make the tourists and devotees aware about the tradition, culture and mythological heritage of the hill state.

Devotees visiting Haridwar during the current Kumbh Mela will get a chance to get a glimpse of hill life through wall paintings. Artists are busy creating murals on walls showcasing the splendor of religious faith, folk traditions and mythological culture in this holy township.

A folk artist playing bagpipe, village women going to forest to collect fodder, artists playing drums, villagers dancing, murals of gods/goddesses, city life of Haridwar, etc — these wall paintings have been done on the walls of bridges, ghats, government building walls in the Kumbh area.

Mythological paintings of religious beliefs and cultural life are ready to woo the guests.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat said, “The state government is committed to grand hosting of the Kumbh Mela. Efforts are being made to make the visitors familiar with the folk and cultural heritage of Uttarakhand.”

The Uttarakhand government is using wall painting as a medium to make the tourists and devotees aware about the tradition, culture and mythological heritage of the hill state.

The artworks have been created under the ‘Paint My City’ campaign of the Haridwar Roorkee Development Authority. Various organizations are helping to decorate the Kumbh Mela area with paintings.




Rail service from Patencheru to Medak soon


Sangareddy: South Central Railway (SCR) has completed an engineering cum traffic survey of Nagulapalli, Patancheru to Medak broad-gauge railway line and send a tentative budget proposal of Rs.1764 cr to the Railway Ministry.

The authorities took up the survey after the Railways allotted funds in 1918-19 to conduct the survey.  The 89.10 km length of railway track will connect four towns: Patancheru-Sangareddy-Jogipet and Medak apart from connecting other towns and villages en route facilitating lakhs of people. 

The railway line will start at Nagulpally village near Patancheru and ends at Medak town. As per the survey, the tentative cost of a kilometre of railway track would be around Rs.19.81 cr.

The SCR has sent a letter to the Railway Board on December 31 informing them of the completion of the survey and submitted the budget proposal.  The Parliament session shall begin from January 29 and the central budget would be submitted on February 1. It would be interesting to see whether or not the 2021-2022 budget allocates budget for this railway line.  If the funds are allocated in this budget then the wait of the people of the erstwhile Medak district would be over.  During her election campaign in Medak District, the late PM Indira Gandhi had promised this railway line.

Railway Line Sadhna Samithi Committee founder Ganga Joginath said that they have presented a number of representations since last 18 years to all the prime ministers, railway ministers and other authorities concerned seeking railway line to connect important towns in Medak district with the State capital.  “We urge the Centre Government to allocate the necessary funds in the coming budget so that these important towns in Telangana will get railway connectivity,” Joginath said.





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