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Nation at a Glance

Tigers under threat in Sariska reserve

jaipur: Felling of trees, lopping, mining and degradation of water bodies have resulted in a sharp decline in the number of tigers in the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Rajasthan, according to a study by the Institute of Environment Education and Sustainable Development.

The tiger population in the reserve rose from 17 in 1982 to 45 in 1988. However, the number fell to between 26 and 28 in the 2001 census, reports our correspondent.

M.L. Jhanwar, who led the study sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science Research, said not a single tree with a diametre of more than nine inches was found in the sanctuary. This, Jhanwar claimed, endangered the population of big cats in the sanctuary.

Other hazards to the tiger reserve include illicit mining, tourism, poaching and soil erosion — all of which result in loss of vegetation cover and water levels. Water bodies covered 16.9 sq km of the reserve in 1988.

However, this figure declined by more than 50 per cent to 7.23 sq km by 1994. In the same period, the area under mining increased from 1.2 sq km to 8.48 sq km — an increase of 600 per cent. According to Jhanwar, mining affects at least 20 times more area than leased.

SC question mark on Sidhu case

new delhi (PTI): After the resignation of Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu from the post of chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission in the wake of corruption charges, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the government whether its was necessary to go ahead with the inquiry for misconduct as requested by the President.

A bench of Justices S. Rajendra Babu, P.V. Reddi and Arun Kumar asked attorney-general Soli J. Sorabjee to take instructions from the government and inform the court on January 9 about the need for going ahead with the presidential reference to inquire into the charges against Sidhu.

“In view of his resignation from the post and as his tenure has come to an end in September this year, nothing survives in the matter,” the bench said.

Sidhu, facing charges of corruption before criminal courts, had filed a written submission before the apex court saying he has given up “all claims to the retiral benefits, including pension, for the post of chairman, PPSC”.

However, he had reserved the right to defend himself before the trial court and establish innocence. Sidhu’s resignation came in the wake of a scam in which it was alleged that big money was exchanged for jobs in the Punjab government.

Bill on cheque bouncing

new delhi (PTI): The Lok Sabha on Thursday passed a Bill providing stringent penalties, including imprisonment of up to two years, for bouncing of cheques.

The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, 2002, moved by finance minister Jaswant Singh, was passed by a voice vote without discussion amidst protest by CPM member V. Radhakrishnan, who demanded a debate. The Bill doubles the punishment for bouncing of cheques from one year to two years, besides providing for a summary trial of cases under the Act, to speeding up their disposal.

Airman in jail

new delhi (PTI): An airman has been arrested and kept in judicial custody on charges of spying for Pakistan, the Lok Sabha was informed on Thursday. The case is being investigated by Delhi police, defence minister George Fernandes said.

Gangsters held

kanpur (PTI): Five members of a gang, who were allegedly planning to loot a jeweller, were arrested here on Thursday. Acting on a tip-off, police cordoned off a park where the miscreants had assembled and nabbed them.

House on fire

new delhi (PTI): Three members of a family were killed and as many injured when fire broke out in a house at New Agarwal locality of Mainpuri district. The injured have been hospitalised with 70 to 90 per cent burns.

Women attacked

new delhi (PTI): Days into the rape of a medical college student here, two more incidents were reported from the capital on Thursday. A 15-year-old girl, married to a construction worker from Jamshedpur, was raped by one Narsingh near Tibbia college. In another incident, car-borne youths attempted to molest a 23-year-old woman in the Siri Fort area of south Delhi. A hunt is on for the culprits.

J&K quake

new delhi (PTI): A quake of moderate intensity shook parts of north-west Jammu and Kashmir early on Thursday. The tremor, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, was felt at 3.02 am.

The beach festival at Puri will kick off this weekend. Classical and folk dance, music and sand sculpting by local artistes are expected to be big draws in the five-day festival in which handloom and handicraft from across the country would be on display.


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