Citizens' Issues
Karnataka Lokayukta's son arrested in bribery case
Sleuths of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Monday arrested Ashwin Rao, son of Karnataka Lokayukta Justice V. Bhaskar Rao, for allegedly seeking Rs.1-crore bribe from a state executive engineer.
 
"A SIT team led by our Superintendent of Police Laburam nabbed Ashwin Rao at Aurangabad in Marathwada region of Maharashtra. He will be brought here soon on transit remand," a senior officer told IANS on condition of anonymity.
 
Aurangabad is 330km from Mumbai in the neighbouring state.
 
The SIT, headed by additional director general of police (ADGP) Kamal Pant, was set up by the state government on June 30 on the Lokayukta's request to probe graft charges levelled against a few unidentified officials of the watchdog and the bribe charge against Ashwin Rao.
 
Ashwin Rao's arrest came hours after Lokayukta's joint commissioner Syed Riyaz was nabbed in Bengaluru on Sunday night.
 
Lokayukta's Superintendent of Police Sonia Narang named Ashwin and Riyaz in the first information report (FIR) she registered on July 1 along with that of others, including three accomplices whom the SIT arrested last week.
 
The accomplices are Ashok Kumar, a realtor, Shanakare Gowda, an RTI activist, and Srinivasa Gowda, a TV journalist with a Kannada news channel here.
 
State public works department executive engineer M.N. Krishnamurthy in a complaint to Narang on May 11 alleged that Ashwin Rao had sought Rs.1-crore bribe from him through Riyaz and Kumar by threatening to book a graft case against him and raid his premises if he did not pay up the ransom.
 
A division bench of the Karnataka High Court on July 1 stayed the FIR on a writ petition by Ashwin Rao, but allowed the SIT to probe into the graft charges.
 
"Preliminary investigation and interrogation of three suspected extortionists revealed that Riayz was one of the kingpins in threatening many officials of booking graft cases and raiding their premises if they did not pay ransom," the officer recalled.
 
The SIT is also on the lookout for Riyaz's brother-in-law Sadiq in the state's Malnad region for allegedly being part of the extortionist ring in the anti-graft institution.

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Alarmed by rising road accidents, Modi wants cashless treatment
Shocked over one fatality every four minutes in road accidents in India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government will soon implement a road safety policy and cashless treatment for accident victims.
 
In his monthly 'Maan Ki Baat' radio programme, Modi said: "The statistics on road accidents in our country are shocking. There is an accident every minute. And... there is a death every four minutes."
 
In view of this, the government would soon introduce a Road Transport and Safety Bill in parliament and work to implement the National Road Safety Policy and a Road Safety Action Plan, he said.
 
The prime minister said there would soon be a nationwide toll free number 1033 to provide information on accidents across the country.
 
Official statistics show 15 to 16 people in road accidents in the country every hour or nearly 380 every day. The daily toll includes 16 children.
 
A total of 137,000 people became road accident victims in 2013. 
 
The prime minister also said that development of the country's northeast was not possible with officials sitting in Delhi. He vowed to depute officials to the region to find solutions to problems faced by the people.
 
"Is it possible to develop the northeast while sitting in Delhi? No. Officials will visit and see how it is to be done.
 
"The DoNER (Development of Northeastern Region) ministry has taken a significant decision to send teams of central government officials to the northeast and hold week-long camps there," he said.
 
The ministry is responsible for planning, executing and monitoring the central government's development schemes in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Mizoram, Sikkim and Meghalaya.
 
"These teams will hold camps in districts and villages, meet local officials, people's representatives and citizens. They will listen to their problems and help the government to find their solutions."
 
In his talk, Modi praised efforts made towards keeping India clean.
 
He congratulated government officials from Harda district in Madhya Pradesh for their 'Malyudh' (a sanitation programme).
 
"They have given a new meaning to 'Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan'. A brother gifting his sister a toilet on 'Raksha Bandhan', and the one who does so becoming 'brother number one' has given a new direction to the (cleanliness) mission," he said.
 
Speaking on issues like electricity, Modi said his government was committed to providing power to all villages.
 
"Whatever facilities are provided in cities, similar facilities are required for people in villages too if we have to develop our nation," he said.
 
Modi also expressed concern that fewer students were taking up science at the higher education level.
 
"Out of 100 only one or two students take up science. It's a cause of concern," the prime minister said, adding that students must be encouraged to study the subject.
 
To mark Kargil Day on July 26, Modi paid tributes to soldiers killed in the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan.
 
"Each and every Indian soldier fought bravely. I pay my respects to the soldiers who ... fought for the country," he said Baat" radio programme.
 
"The Kargil battle was not just fought on the borders... Every village, city and town made a contribution."

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Centre reviving sick fertiliser plants
The government is working to revive sick fertiliser units and a financial revival package has been prepared for Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore (FACT) and Madras Fertilizers Ltd.
 
"A proposal for seeking approval of the cabinet for financial revival package of FACT has been prepared. It is yet to be placed before the cabinet," Minister of State for Chemical and Fertilizer Hansraj Gangaram Ahir told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.
 
Regarding Madras Fertilizers, declared sick in 2009, the minister said that "to make the net-worth of the company positive a proposal for the financial restructuring of MFL has been prepared".
 
In May, the union cabinet had approved financial restructuring of the Brahampurtra Valley Fertilizers Corp in Namrup, Assam "that will help the company in making its net-worth positive and also setting up of a new Brownfield ammonia-urea complex within the existing premises", Ahir said.
 
In reply to another question, Ahir said the government had decided to revive the Fertilizer Corporation of India's closed units at Talcher (Odisha), Ramagundam (Telangana), Gorakhpur (Uttar Pradesh), Sindri (Jharkhand) and Hindustan Fertilizer Corp's Barauni unit in Bihar.
 
"Revival of Talcher and Ramagundam are already in progress and likely to be completed by the end of the year 2018," Ahir said.
 
"Talcher and Ramagundam units are being revived 'on nomination basis' while rest of the units are to be revived 'on bidding route'," he added.

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