Andhra Pradesh to formulate law to curb corruption in NREGS

The state is expected to issue the ordinance—Andhra Pradesh Social Audit (Punishment of Corrupt Practices) Ordinance 2011—in about two weeks, which will target corrupt persons and those indulging in irregularities noticed during the social audit of NREGS

Hyderabad: In order to check corruption in the prestigious rural job scheme, National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the Andhra Pradesh government would soon make a law to expeditiously punish those found guilty, reports PTI.

“We want to bring in a law to take tough action against the corrupt. We will issue an ordinance soon for the purpose. Presently, the process of punishing the guilty is slow,” state rural development minister D Manikya Vara Prasad told PTI here.

“For example, if we have to punish a field assistant, we will issue a notice. He will go to court. Similarly, we have to write to the Panchayat Raj department for punishing some other officials. It leads to delay. In the meantime, the guilty continues to work there. We felt the need to expedite the process,” he said.

The Ordinance—Andhra Pradesh Social Audit (Punishment of Corrupt Practices) Ordinance 2011—is likely to be issued in about two weeks.

The corrupt persons and those indulging in irregularities would be noticed during the social audit of NREGS and the proposed law provides for arresting the accused, he said.

“We will start mobile courts to try the cases of corruption and punish the guilty at the earliest,” he said.

One mobile court will be set up per district or a group of districts and it will have a first class judicial magistrate. The mobile courts would go to the villages to try the cases.

The minimum quantum of punishment under the proposed law would be two months imprisonment, while the maximum would go up to two years.

The government has prepared the draft ordinance in consultation with legal experts, the advocate general and the views of other experts are also being taken, he said.

Asked about the present level of corruption in NREGS in Andhra Pradesh, he said allegations of corruption to the tune of Rs100 crore have come to light in the last five years and Rs30 crore has been recovered.

In another initiative aimed at benefiting scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), the state government would soon launch a programme to provide irrigation facility to the lands distributed to those sections.

Under the programme, named ‘Indira Jala Prabha’, one lakh bore wells would be set up to irrigate 10 lakh acres of land which have been distributed to SCs and STs, the minister said.

The programme would be launched next month and will be completed in about two years, he said.

The project would be implemented at a cost of Rs1,600 crore. Of this, Rs8,00 crore would be provided by NABARD, while the remaining would be spent under NREGS.

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Mukul Roy appointed new MoS, railways

Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy was on Thursday appointed as the new minister of state for railways following the resignation of Mamata Banerjee from the Cabinet. Prime minister Manmohan Singh will retain the railway portfolio in the Cabinet

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress leader Mukul Roy was on Thursday appointed as the new minister of state for railways following the resignation of Mamata Banerjee from the Cabinet, reports PTI.

Prime minister Manmohan Singh will retain the railway portfolio in the Cabinet.

Mr Roy, minister of state for shipping, will hold additional charge of railways, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said.

President Pratibha Patil on Thursday accepted the resignation of Banerjee who will be sworn-in on Friday as the West Bengal chief minister. Earlier, the prime minister forwarded her resignation to the president.

There are already two ministers of state—Bharatsinh Solanki and KH Muniappa—in the railway ministry.

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Astra ballistic flight test successfully carried out

The missile is envisaged to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speeds in the head-on mode at a range of 80km and in tail-chase mode at 20km

Balasore (Orissa): The country today carried out the ballistic flight test of Astra-a 'Beyond-Visual-Range Air-to-Air Missile'-from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore in Orissa today.

The missile was fired at around 9.50AM, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) sources said, adding two more tests are likely to be conducted in the next two days, reports PTI.

The missile is envisaged to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft at supersonic speeds in the head-on mode at a range of 80km and in tail-chase mode at 20km.

"The main purpose of today's trial is to gauge the performance of the motor, propulsion system and the configurations of the vehicle and aerodynamics evaluation," said a DRDO scientist.

The data is being analysed by the scientists to ascertain the outcome of the trial.

The missile, after its final trials, would be integrated with fighter aircraft Su-30 MKI. Astra missiles would also be carried by MiG-29 and the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas.

Astra, which uses solid propellants, can carry a conventional warhead of 15kg. It is the smallest of the missiles developed by the DRDO in terms of size and weight.

It is 3.8-metre long and has a diameter of 178mm with an overall launch weight of 160kg. The missile can be launched from different altitudes. It can cover 110km when launched from an altitude of 15km, 44km when fired from an altitude of 8km and 21km when the altitude is at sea-level.

DRDO officials said that it is more advanced than the similar class of missiles of the US, Russia and France. The missile's captive flight tests from Su-30MKI were carried out near Pune in November 2009 when seven sorties were conducted.

Astra's first flight trial took place on 9 May 2003 from the ITR at Chandipur.

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