Citizens' Issues
Anna Hazare, others to call off fast on Friday

The end to the fast also comes in the wake of the government's steadfast attitude in not engaging with Hazare and his team

New Delhi: Team Anna on Thursday blinked in the battle of attrition with the Government by announcing plans to end the indefinite fast tomorrow evening as it pitched for an alternative to the current political system, reports PTI.
Anna Hazare's announcement on calling off the agitation demanding Lokpal Bill at 5pm tomorrow came on a day when a group of eminent personalities, including jurist VR Krishna Iyer and former Army Chief Gen VK Singh, appealed for an end to the fast as the health of Arvind Kejriwal and two others deteriorated.
"We will end the fast tomorrow at 5pm," Hazare said at the end of an address in which he enunciated the civil society's approach to forming a political alternative.
The end to the fast also comes in the wake of the government's steadfast attitude in not engaging with Hazare and his team, a year after both sides were involved in drafting a law and Parliament adopting a "sense of House" resolution on passage of Lokpal Bill.
On the earlier occasions in April and August last year, the Government appeared to have come under pressure from Hazare's protests which drew huge crowds in the capital and elsewhere.
The protest fast has been marked by low turnout, contradictory statements and levelling of wild charges against government and its functionaries. While Hazare refused to attack Pranab Mukherjee after he became President, his team members continued to level allegations against him.
Talking about providing an alternative to the current system, Hazare ruled out launching or joining a political party but asked people to come out with ideas on how the alternative can be provided.
"It is time for us to think of an alternative. We want a political alternative. But I will not launch or join a party.
People should decide who should be given tickets and how to achieve that alternative system," he said.
Questions still remained as to what Team Anna would do regarding the political alternative and whether they would launch a party themselves.
Hazare said they have to see how candidates are to be selected to ensure that honest and clean people enter Parliament.
"I agree with people that there should be a political alternative. It should be a secular alternative. But when you talk about an alternative, how we will ensure that only honest person are selected," he said.
In a similar refrain, Kejriwal said candidate selection is an issue. "We are apprehensive whether the alternative also becomes the same as the present," he said.
In their appeal to Team Anna, the eminent persons said the government has turned its back to the agitation and has also not shown political will to punish corrupt people and the opposition also does not fare well on the issue.
"Do not expect anything from this political class. We request Anna Hazare and other fasting activists to channelise their efforts in setting up a political alternative, to give a responsive, democratic and non-violent system," they said.
"Indian democracy needs a new direction. We request people who are fasting to request this historical challenge and call off their fast.
"Instead we call upon them to focus their energies on creating an alternative political force that is democratic, accountable, ethical and non-violent and capable of leading an electoral revolution to democratise and decentralise power and make the power structures of the country more accountable to people," the appeal said.



Rajkumar Singh

5 years ago

This U-turn of Team Anna reminds me of a Hindi movie, "Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani", in which a son finds faults in his father running the
family and takes up the administrative role of his father, but repents later by saying at the end that it is very easy to blame someone to become a part of the problem, but very difficult to become
a part of the solution.

PM relaxes land transfer norms to speed up infra projects

All cases of land transfer from ministries to statutory authorities or public sector undertakings (PSUs) will be allowed without the need for Cabinet approval

New Delhi: Apparently unhappy over delays in infrastructure projects on account of procedures, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday relaxed norms for transfer of government land to any other entity to remove bottlenecks and speed up public-private partnership (PPP) projects, reports PTI.
According to the Prime Minister's decision which marks lifting of a ban imposed last year, all cases of land transfer from ministries to statutory authorities or public sector undertakings (PSUs) will be allowed, subject to the requirements of normal Government of India rules.
The decision will do away with the requirement of Cabinet approvals which was leading to long delays in awarding concessions for infrastructure projects, particularly PPP ones in sectors like road, railways, civil aviation, ports and metro rail.
"Requiring Cabinet approval for each PPP project meant adding a few months to complete the processes for securing Cabinet approval," a PMO statement said.
"The Prime Minister approved relaxations in the land transfer policy of the government for government-owned lands so that infrastructure projects are not held up because of procedural delays," it said.
The decision to relax norms would speed up the award of PPP projects from this month onwards significantly, it said.
Among the categories for which the ban has been relaxed are all cases of land transfer on lease or rent or license to a concessionaire which have been appraised through the PPP Approval Committee route and approved by the Finance Minister or by the Ministers concerned or by the Cabinet, as the case may be, depending upon the value of the project.
Development and use of railway land by Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) as per provisions of Railways Amendment Act, 2005 and the Rules framed thereunder and in accordance with the prevalent policies and guidelines of the Railway Ministry and the Government will also be covered by the new decision.
Early last year, a ban had been imposed on all transfer of government owned land to any entity except in cases where land was to be transferred from one government department to another, the PMO statement said.
The Department of Economic Affairs was to prepare a comprehensive land transfer policy for government owned land.
In case any department had to implement a project which required alienation of land either through lease, license or rent, it had to seek specific approval of the Cabinet.
This was leading to long delays in awarding concessions for infrastructure projects, particularly PPP projects, the statement said.
All PPP infrastructure projects - roads, railways, ports, civil aviation and metros - have some element of land alienation as the projects are often built on government owned land.
The government continues to own the land which is leased or licensed out.


It is not the deficit; it is the timely rainfall that matters

Over the past century, India has been receiving an average rainfall of 75% and above, yet we witnessed several droughts. The reasons? Rainfall has been sporadic in most parts of the country and we still do not know how to make use of every single drop of water

The southwest monsoon has never ditched India. History tells us that since 1901, India has always received an average 75% of rains during the monsoon season spread between June and September. Even during the drought years of 1899, 1818, 1972 and 2009, the average rainfall was above 75%. Unfortunately, the rainfall, which has always been sporadic in most parts of the country, with few showers followed by a long dry spell, is the main reason for worry.
In fact, the worry-lines have deepened incrementally because of monsoon inactivity. It can pressure food inflation, which is already running in double digits and could enhance the stickiness of headline inflation at a time of poor economic growth. 
Cumulative rains during the first two months of this year, between 1st June and 31st July, were 19% below normal levels. Spatially, most parts of the country have received deficient to scanty rainfall. The northwest, which is India's grain belt, has received 37% less-than-normal rainfall. Though 94% of this region is irrigated, the low water level in the reservoirs will limit the extent to which canal irrigation can compensate for deficient rains.


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