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Nation at a Glance

India ranked 120th in UN water report

New Delhi (PTI/Reuters): India has been ranked a poor 120th for its water quality above only Morocco and Belgium in the first UN system-wide evaluation of global water resources released on Wednesday.

The evaluation also ranks India 133rd among 180 countries for poor water availability of 1,880 cubic metres per person annually. India’s quality indicator value stands at (-)1.31 against first-ranked Finland’s 1.85.

The evaluation has been released as “World Water Development Report-Water for People, Water for Life” on the eve of the third world forum to be held in Kyoto in Japan later this month.

The UN report criticised political leaders for failing to take action and in some cases, disputing the very existence of a water crisis. “Water supplies are falling while the demand is dramatically growing at an unsustainable rate,” said Koichiro Matsuura, director-general of Unesco, home to the World Water Assessment Programme which compiled the report.

Belgium rated poorly due to the low quantity and quality of its groundwater, combined with a heavy pollution and poor treatment of waste water.

It is followed by Morocco, India, Jordan, Sudan, Nigeria and Burkina Faso. The list of countries with the best water quality is headed by Finland, followed by Canada, New Zealand, UK, Japan and Norway.

Breather & blow to Bharat Shah

Mumbai: The day came with a tear and a smile for film financier Bharat Shah, currently fighting a court battle to prove himself innocent of charges that he is hand-in-glove with the Mumbai underworld, reports our correspondent.

The good news for Shah was that Bombay High Court, hearing a petition filed by him earlier, struck down certain important provisions under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act, making it that much difficult for the prosecution to present telephone interceptions as evidence.

The bad news was that Shah will still stand trial under the Act as the high court upheld its constitutional validity, which Shah had questioned in his petition.

The provisions of the Act that have been struck down are Sections 13, 14, 15 and 16. While Section 13 deals with the appointment of competent authority, Section 14 deals with the authorisation of interception of wire, electronic or oral communication. Section 15 looks into the constitution of a review committee for authorisation orders and Section 16 deals with the prohibition of interception and disclosure of wire, electronic or oral communications.

Justices V.G. Palshikar and S.A. Bobade said they were “beyond the competence of the state legislature”.

Explosion panic before Rao visit

Hyderabad (PTI): A freak explosion in a soft-drink bottle caused panic among security staff minutes before former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao was to leave a guest house in Anantpur district on Tuesday. No one was injured.

Rao, staying at Shanti Bhavan, was scheduled to pay a visit to Satya Sai Baba for a darshan. But, 15 minutes before his scheduled departure, there was a minor blast in a plastic bottle on a lawn near the guest house at Puttaparthi.

The security personnel, including the police, SPG men and bomb squad personnel, rushed to the spot but no explosive was found. Investigations revealed that a half-filled cold drink bottle on the lawn exploded due to excessive heat.

Shops gutted

Ahmedabad (PTI): Three shops were gutted and two persons injured when a fire broke out near a chemical factory in Maninagar. The fire was brought under control immediately.

Fake notes seized

Alwar (PTI): A State Bank of India branch seized 13 fake notes in the denomination of Rs 500 each deposited by a customer. Police said three persons have been detained for interrogation.

Dacoit gang in net

Kanpur (PTI): With the arrest of 10 people, police on Wednesday claimed to have busted a gang of dacoits, solving three cases of dacoity committed in the city and Hamirpur district last month. Those arrested were involved in a dacoity in Satya Sai Baba temple in Bithoor police circle on February 9, deputy inspector-general Gurubachan Lal said.

Fishermen held

Colombo (PTI): Sri Lankan authorities have arrested 42 Indian fishermen for allegedly poaching in the island’s territorial waters. Seventy-five fishermen are already in Sri Lankan custody. They were held from near the coast of Mannar district.

In an effort to strengthen cultural relations between Delhi and St Petersburg, a festival is being organised in New Delhi. “The Days of St Petersburg in Delhi”, which began on Wednesday, will comprise a painting exhibition besides ballet and folk dances.


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