Bihar Gets Way
UP DEMANDS SAY
New Delhi, June 30 : Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has achieved the unthinkable – got the Union Government to open its coffers and dole out a Special Assistance Package of Rs.20,000 crores. The State is all set to get Rs.4000 crores every year towards financing the metro rail network for Capital Patna and an airport in Nalanda etc. However, the Centre refused to grant Nitish’s wish list that the State be granted Special Package status. Pertinently, the goodies for Bihar coming on the heels of Nitish breaking away from supporting the NDA Presidential candidate Sangma and plugging for UPA’s Pranab Mukherjee has left many wondering whether this is the first beginning of the JD (U)’s sties with the NDA.
UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is the latest to be bitten by the Oliver syndrome, “I want more”. He has demanded a Central package of Rs.90,000 crores to fund various developmental and pending projects in the State. Clarifying that it was not assistance, he was demanding but only the Centre’s share of monies vis-à-vis the National Rural Health Mission and NREGS. Listing out his priorities, the country’s youngest Chief Minister highlighted that UP is facing a severe power crisis and he would like to set up solar power plants, speed up highway projects, specially the Yamuna Expressway linking Delhi to Agra. Also, as large swathes of the State were prone to floods he mooted various flood control measures. Indeed, all this was underscored by the dictum: Show me the money and UP will ‘bank’ on the UPA!
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Mamata’s War On Centre
Meanwhile, West Bengal’s stormy petrel, Mamata has declared jihad against the Union Government for its continuing apathy towards her State. Given her repeated pleas for Central bailout for the State’s huge debt of over Rs.2 lakh crores falling on deaf UPA ears. The Chief Minister is demanding a three-year moratorium on repayment. Citing the case of Punjab wherein the Centre opened its money bag, Mamata questioned why Bengal was being step-motherly treatment? She warned the Centre that the first casualty of acute lack of money would hit Sonia’s ambitious NREGS and other development projects would come to a standstill. Undeniably, money is the confidence “cruncher” between allies Trinamool and Congress.
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No Succour For Bhopal Victims
This is a classic case of turning tragedy into a milch cow. Namely, a hospital, set up to provide free medical aid to the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, has become a cash cow for doctors to earn crores of rupees by treating private patients. Recall, in 1991 the Supreme Court had ordered the Union Carbide to set up a 500-bed Bhopal Memorial and Research Centre for free lifetime treatment of over 5 lakh gas victims. Alas, today nothing could be farther from the truth. Shockingly, while the Bhopal victims run from pillar to post for treatment, doctors net over Rs.3 crores annually thanks to a roaring private practice. Besides, controversy is nothing new to this hospital. In 2008, it earned the ignominy of carrying out drug trials in violation of all regulations. Notwithstanding the Centre taking charge, money making flourishes. Reiterating once again that poor Indians only add up to mere statistics.
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Maharashtra Sends Farmers Abroad
From committing suicide to going on world tours, indeed the farmers in Maharashtra are set to reap new benefits. Thanks, to an, initiative taken by the State Government’s to “educate” them on the latest farming techniques, technology, local farming concepts, processing and preservation and marketing strategies which would help farmers improve production and ensure protection from climate changes. Already, 172 farmers have been sent and another 1000 are slated to tour Europe, South America, South Africa, South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Visits to make the agriculturists aware and learn about mixed farming and greenhouses being run on solar energy in Germany, dairy and cattle breeding in New Zealand, cheese processing in Amsterdam, drip irrigation in Israel, orchards, fruit processing centres, vegetable farms etc. The State Government has earmarked Rs 10 crore on this scheme and funds half the expenses, up to Rs 1 lakh. Clearly, happy days beacon the State’s soil tillers!
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Congress Set Back In Himachal
The corruption travails of the Congress continue. After loosing two Union Ministers, it is now the turn of Union Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, Virbhadra Singh to resign. The former Himachal Chief Minister has been charge-sheeted for taking bribes from a cement company and a brewery in 1989. Reportedly, the transaction was taped in an audio CD by Singh’s former colleague and bête noire Mankotia and a case filed in 2009. For the Party, Singh’s indictment could not have come at a worse time as Himachal is all set to go to the polls in four months. Even as the BJP preens over its arch rival’s woes, its glee might not last. Not only has the Congress held successful rallies in the State, but the Party’s efforts to quell rising dissidence has failed to yield results. Rajya Sabha MP Shanta Kumar refuses to have any truck with successor Chief Minister Dhumal. Who will come up trumps in this battle royale?
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Assam’s Tea Woes
It is not Delhites alone who are feeling the power crunch but also the Assam’s tea industry. Wherein the worsening power scenario in the State has badly hit the Rs.2000 crore tea sector. This has not only affected the quality of tea but has led to the costs shooting up as tea garden owners take recourse to diesel generators to ensure that tea supplies do not get interrupted. At present the State is facing acute power shortage of 540 MW and situation shows no signs of improving. Shockingly, Assam’s world famous tea industry which is a big export earner might lose its tasty rich brew status thanks to the power outages.—INFA
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