Citizens' Issues
Nitin Gadkari gives more preference to water related works under MGNREGA
Prior to these changes, there was criticism that MGNREGA had become a source of corruption and no productive assets were being created through the rural job scheme
 
To mitigate drought and drought-like situation and scarcity, Union Rural Development Minister Gadkari has ordered that 50% of all work taken up by line agencies at district level should be for water conservation works like check dam construction, de-silting of traditional water bodies, minor irrigation tanks and canals. The decision has been taken in response to widespread criticism by Members of Parliament and people’s representatives at the local level that Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, (MGNREGA) has become a source of corruption and that no productive assets are being created through the rural job scheme. 
 
The minister clarified through a press note that as these works require combination of wage labour and machinery, the percentage on skilled component has been increased up to 49%. Increase in the skilled percentage from 40% to 49% is enabling provision, which empowers states, if they so wish to do part of work of check dams, minor irrigation tanks with machinery, while doing balance 51% on muster payment to labour. 
 
The minister added that if states wish to retain the skilled proportion to 40%, they are free to do so. This change was widely welcomed by MPs and expert water shed NGO Activists like Rajendra Singh and Popat Rao Pawar. They said that this change will enable MGNREGA to put in place Ridge to Valley visible water harvesting structures and help to mitigate drought and water scarcity. 
 
The Minister has also directed the Rural Development Ministry that all payments and fund transfer to states should be made on E-payment platform and on a just in time basis so that wage payments are not delayed beyond one week in any case. 

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Former AG GE Vahanvati passes away
GE Vahanvati was India's Attorney General between June 2009 and May 2014
 
Goolamhussein Essaji (GE) Vahanvati, India's 13th Attorney General (AG) expired on Tuesday due to massive cardiac arrest.
 
Born on 7 May 1949, Vahanvati's first term as AG began in June 2009. In 2012, his term was extended by two years. Prior to being appointed as AG, Vahanvati, served as Solicitor General of India.
 
In April 2013, Vahanvati's role in government came under scrutiny after allegations of impropriety and coercion emerged from his junior law officer, Harin P Raval, who resigned from the post of Additional Solicitor General as a result.
 
Among several cases, Vahanvati appeared in the nine judges Bench hearing on the Ninth Schedule, Kuldip Nayar’s challenge to the amendment to the Representation of the People’s Act with regard to the Rajya Sabha, the tainted Ministers case, in all matters pertaining to the sealing and the challenge to the Delhi Laws Special Provisions Act, 2007 and challenges to the Master Plan 2021.
 
He also represented Maharashtra state in the public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed in the fake stamp paper scam.

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CBI director Sinha gets embroiled into 'entry register' controversy
Entry register of Sinha's residence portrays a 'very disturbing' and 'explosive material' coming in the way of administration of justice in 2G spectrum allocation scam, CPIL told the Supreme Court
 
Ranjit Sinha, the director of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), on Tuesday was at the centre of a controversy during the hearing of 2G scam in the Supreme Court. A non-governmental organisation (NGO) told the apex court that entry register of Sinha's residence portrays a 'very disturbing' and 'explosive material' coming in the way of administration of justice in 2G spectrum allocation scam.
 
The issue was raised by the NGO, Centre for Public Interest Litigation (CPIL), one of the PIL petitioners on whose plea 122 licences for 2G spectrum were cancelled by the Supreme Court.
 
The apex court stopped the NGO’s counsel from reading out his note on the issue after CBI counsel raised objections to making the content of the register public in open court and agreed to hear it on Thursday.
 
A bench comprising Justices HL Dattu, SA Bobde and AM Sapre said, “If you can give the copy of the material to us, CBI and Director’s counsel, we can take up the matter day after tomorrow.” 
 
CPIL’s counsel Prashant Bhushan started the submission by stating that after disturbing development of keeping DIG Santosh Rastogi out of the investigation of 2G spectrum, which was rectified on apex court’s intervention and during the pendency of an application seeking recusal of Sinha from the spectrum matter, another “very disturbing” thing has happened.
 
“Last night I came across very disturbing and explosive material. The entry register of Director’s residence,” Bhushan said and referred to a news report, which claimed that top executives of a company indicted in 2G scam met CBI Director at his residence in the last 15 months.
 
While CPIL counsel was reading his note, senior advocate KK Venugopal, appearing for the CBI intervened and asked the bench to pass an order that all materials be placed before the court in a sealed envelope.
 
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, who was appearing in a 2G related matter for DMK MP Kanimozhi, one of the accused in the scam, came to the defence of CBI director by saying that “he is performing his duty well but all kinds of allegations are being levelled.”
 
Sinha deputed senior advocate Vikas Singh, who said allegations are being made and it appears that attempts are being made to destroy CBI as an institution.
 
Jethmalani said everytime Bhushan comes out with notes, the CPIL should be asked to make its submission through affidavit.
 
The bench asked CPIL to make its submission by way of affidavit and posted the hearing on Thursday when it will also hear the NGO’s application seeking recusal of Sinha from all 2G matters allegedly for trying to protect some influential accused in the scam.
 
The NGO alleged that the “Director has made serious attempts to derail the investigation and prosecution being carried out by the CBI”. 

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