Clinton calls Atal to send message to Pakistan
State sets Nov. 1 deadline for emission compliance
Centre logs into shuffle mode

 
 
CLINTON CALLS ATAL TO SEND MESSAGE TO PAKISTAN 
 
 
FROM PRANAY SHARMA
 
New Delhi, Oct. 15 
The US has decided to use India to highlight to Pakistan what it stands to lose unless civilian rule is restored.

President Bill Clinton has sought Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee?s cooperation to demonstrate to the world how democracy provides ?the best foundation? for not only ?domestic prosperity and stability but also for cooperation and harmony among democratic nations?.

Clinton called Vajpayee this evening to congratulate him on the manner in which elections were held and on the Prime Minister?s personal victory.

The developments in Pakistan and non-proliferation also figured in their brief conversation. But in a letter to Vajpayee this morning, Clinton sought India?s cooperation to prove to the world that democracy is the best answer to all problems. He also expressed his desire to ?work closely? with Vajpayee in ?this endeavour?.

In Washington, White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said Clinton and Vajpayee also discussed the Senate?s rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the US President?s appeal to countries like India and Pakistan to refrain from nuclear tests.

The letter and the telephone conversation gather significance in view of other developments in Washington relating to Islamabad. Late tonight, the US decided to impose wide-ranging sanctions on Pakistan, and urged Europe and Japan to take similar measures against the military rulers.

With the Pakistani military establishment seizing power formally, India today expressed growing concern about the direction in which its neighbour is moving.

?Pakistan is effectively under martial law following a military coup,? Indian foreign ministry spokesman R.S. Jassal said this afternoon. ?We have concerns about the direction in which the situation is moving. We continue to monitor and keep a close watch on these developments,? he added.

Asked to elaborate on the concerns, Jassal said: ?In the last three days, the direction in which the developments have moved, including the proclamation of internal emergency in the country, were the basis of India?s concerns.?

However, he was quick to point out that India ?had all kinds of concerns? regarding Pakistan and they had remained with the recent developments. He pointed out that western nations, too, had expressed similar concerns.

India?s qualified response reflects an eagerness to match the reaction of the international community on the one hand and keep its options open on the other.

It was apparent that New Delhi was not willing to do anything harsh that would force it to cut off diplomatic links with Pakistan. The foreign ministry spokesman said trains and buses between India and Pakistan were running as per schedule and Delhi was not thinking of recalling its high commissioner from Islamabad at this juncture.

Jassal, however, made it clear that the possibility of early resumption of talks between India and Pakistan seemed remote now.

The Pakistani foreign secretary Shamshad Ahmed had told Indian high commissioner G. Parthasarathy last night that Islamabad was keen to resume the stalled dialogue with New Delhi on all outstanding issues, including Jammu and Kashmir.    


 
 
STATE SETS NOV. 1 DEADLINE FOR EMISSION COMPLIANCE 
 
 
BY OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
 
Calcutta, Oct. 15 
The state government announced on Friday that only those non-commercial cars which adhered to India-2000 smoke emission standards would be registered in the city from November 1.

State environment minister Manab Mukherjee said that from April 1, 2000, all new vehicles would have to comply with India-2000 norms. The norms have been certified by the Centre. They are a modification of Euro-I and Euro-II emission norms tailored to suit Indian driving conditions.

Mukherjee also announced that the decision to phase out 15-year-old vehicles, including taxis, had been kept in abeyance. The government was awaiting the report of the core committee set up to look into the matter.

?The committee is looking into all aspects of the phasing-out process and we should have something by the year-end,? Mukherjee said. ?Matters relating to emission checks are also being worked out,? he added. The state government had announced in June that Euro norms for non-commercial vehicles would come into effect from July 1.

The government?s decision to impose emission standards follows a Supreme Court order earlier this year stating that all non-commercial vehicles registered in the National Capital Region of Delhi should be Euro-compliant.

But the West Bengal government soon ran into a solid wall of opposition. With taxi-owners up in arms over the phasing out of old vehicles, the government was forced to postpone the implementation of the new emission norms.

The state environment and transport departments cried off and referred the entire package of emission standards and phasing out of old cars and taxis to the Central Pollution Control Board in Delhi for approval. Even after the board?s go ahead, the government kept the issue on the backburner.

Announcements on the ban on autorickshaws and handcarts from the central business district and main thoroughfares was not made, as scheduled, on August 15.

On Independence Day, the government was due to declare the phase-out age for buses, mini-buses, trucks, vans and autos. The announcement is yet to be made.

Under India-2000 norms, which will come into effect throughout the country from April 1, 2000, a petrol vehicle should not emit carbon monoxide more than 2.72 gm per km. For hydrocarbons and oxides of nitrogen, the limit is 0.97 gm per km.

The emission standards for diesel vehicles vary according to their weight.

On taxis, Mukherjee said Hindustan Motors had confirmed that their diesel Ambassadors were all India-2000 compliant. ?All new taxis that are being registered now already fit the bill,? he said.    


 
 
CENTRE LOGS INTO SHUFFLE MODE 
 
 
FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT
 
New Delhi, Oct. 15 
The Centre has spun off an information technology ministry from a cluster of departments and set in motion a sweeping bureaucratic shuffle by shifting as many as 26 secretaries.

The government also split the department of telecommunications (DoT) into a licensing authority and a service provider in line with the National Telecom Policy of 1990.

The sudden creation of an information technology ministry has fuelled speculation that it was pushed through to accommodate disgruntled ministerial aspirants. Government sources claimed tonight that Pramod Mahajan, who lost the coveted information and broadcasting slot in the new Vajpayee regime, is one of the names on the shortlist to head the new ministry.

The government tonight found a secretary for the information technology wing, P. V. Jayakrishnan, from the civil aviation ministry.

Issues such as Internet services, Internet through cable television, computer penetration in the country and spread of computers in schools will be looked after by the information technology ministry.

The new portfolio will largely be made of slices from the ministries of information and broadcasting and communications and the department of electronics. The new ministry will also focus on software exports and the five software technology parks in the country are expected to be brought under the department.

It will work towards the convergence of telecom, broadcasting and information technology and work as a ?government lobby within the government? for tax breaks and other incentives.

By splitting DoT, the government has created a department of telecom services which will act as the service provider. The DoT will be the licensing authority and both the departments will report to the communications minister. Vinod Vaish, now special secretary, environment and forests, has been made secretary in the new department of telecom services.

?The newly created department would look primarily into service aspects like basic telephones and value-added services like cellular phones and paging,? telecom secretary Anil Kumar said tonight.

The nine telecom circles of the country will also be divided, with the DoT in charge of administration and the telecom services department supervising operations. This will enable the telecom circles to enter value-added services. Calcutta Telephones has already received an in-principle approval to start mobile phone services.

Unlike last time ? when a greenhorn Vajpayee government picked its way cautiously through the corridors of officialdom ? officials were transferred in one fell swoop today. Barring the Big Four ministries which retained their heads, most departments are getting new secretaries.

S. Narayan has been appointed new petroleum and natural gas secretary and Ravindra Gupta civil aviation secretary. Petroleum secretary T. S. Vijayaraghavan has been shifted to the department of heavy industries and public enterprises.

Bhure Lal, secretary, Central Vigilance Commission, has been shifted to tribal affairs.

Advani?s brief

The government also delineated the responsibilities of home minister L. K. Advani and two of his ministers of state. Advani has been assigned matters relating to emergency provisions, Jammu and Kashmir, the Northeast and VIP security.

Internal security, states under President?s rule, Centre-state relations and the Official Secrets Act will also be directly dealt with by Advani.    

 

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