Singhvi recuses himself from JPC, Jayanthi named to parliamentary committee

Kapil Sibal moves motion in Rajya Sabha for formation of parliamentary committee

New Delhi: Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan was today named a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) set up to probe into the 2G spectrum scam, after her colleague Abhishek Singhvi recused himself on the ground that he had represented cellular operators as a senior advocate in matters before the court.

This was announced by telecom minister Kapil Sibal, who moved the motion for the formation of the JPC in the Rajya Sabha. Ms Natarajan, a former union minister, is an advocate and has been a Congress spokesperson for a number of years, reports PTI.

Mr Singhvi recused himself from the JPC, saying, "I had appeared as a senior advocate in the court for cellular operators and had attacked the telecom policies from 2002 to 2004 when Pramod Mahajan, Arun Shourie and Ram Vilas Paswan were telecom ministers (in the NDA government)." Mr Singhvi is also a Congress spokesperson.

Others whose names have been proposed as members of the committee are PJ Kurien and Praveen Rashtrapal from the Congress, Sitram Yechury from CPI(M), Tiruchi Shiva of the DMK, SS Ahluwalia and Ravi Shankar Prasad of the Bharatiya Janata Party, YP Trivedi of the NCP, Satish Chandra Mishra of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Ramchandra Prasad Singh of the Janta Dal United.


HC allows Raja to appear before court through video-conferencing

CBI does not oppose petition by former telecom minister who is lodged in Tihar Jail

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today allowed jailed former telecom minister A Raja's plea to participate in the proceedings in the 2G spectrum case through video-conferencing. "As electronic video linkage is available both in the Patiala House court as well as in Tihar jail and nothing contrary has been brought to my notice, the prayer is allowed," special CBI judge OP Saini said.

Mr Raja had petitioned the court yesterday that the remand proceedings be conducted through video-conferencing.  The application filed by senior advocate Ramesh Gupta also raised concerns over the security of Mr Raja. The CBI did not oppose the plea and the judge accepted it.
Mr Raja is lodged in Tihar Jail in judicial custody till 3rd March. He was arrested on 2nd February for his alleged role in the 2G spectrum allocation scam, which, according to the CBI, has caused an estimated loss of Rs22,000 crore to the state exchequer.

It is alleged that the former telecom minister manipulated rules to favour some telecom companies, among them Swan Telecom and Unitech, while allocating spectrum at throwaway prices.


FCI incurs Rs484 crore loss due to storage and transit problems

FCI lost about Rs482 crore from storage and transit loss alone this year, while damage to foodgrains was only Rs2.92 crore, food and public distribution minister KV Thomas stated

New Delhi: Food Corporation of India (FCI) is estimated to have incurred a financial loss of Rs484.76 crore in 2010-11 due to damage to foodgrains and storage and transit loss, food and public distribution minister KV Thomas said today, reports PTI.

FCI, a nodal agency for procurement and distribution of foodgrains, is estimated to have lost Rs484.76 crore in 2010-11, as against Rs437.87 crore in the previous year, the minister said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha today.

FCI lost about Rs482 crore from storage and transit loss alone this year, while damage to foodgrains was only Rs2.92 crore, figures revealed.

Up to January 2011, the quantum of foodgrains damaged in FCI godowns was 6,348 tonnes, it said.

The minister said that FCI has initiated 116 cases against irregularities and corruption so far this year.

In a separate reply, Mr Thomas said the Delhi government in December 2010 had seized 1,238 bags of wheat and 461 bags of rice (50 kg each) meant for the Public Distribution System (PDS) that were being diverted.

The state government has take action by cancelling the authorisation of the said ration shop and terminated the transporting agency.

The minister also said the government has received three complaints-two in 2007-08 and one in 2010-11-about supply of poor quality of foodgrains through PDS.

In reply to an another question whether storage of foodgrains in villages by farmers has led to losses due to pests and weather conditions, Mr Thomas said no specific study has been made on this so far.

However, as per the report of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) conducted during 2005-07, estimated losses at farm level storage for selected cereal varied from 1.4%-1.9% and that for selected pulses from 1.3%-2.3%, the minister said.

Mr Thomas said financial assistance is being provided under the capital investment credit-linked back-ended subsidy scheme of construction/renovation of rural godowns with an objective of providing scientific storage facilities for agricultural produce, processed farm produce and for prevention of distress sale.

He said recently the government had issued instructions to state governments/UTs and FCI to initiate steps for proper preservation and safe storage of central pool stocks of foodgrains.

They were told to carry out inspection of stocks of foodgrains by senior officers, take strict action against delinquents, construct godowns as per specifications and adopt proper scientific code of storage practises among others, he added.


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