No fools & monkeys in House
Thakre red signal to test ban treaty
Homestead project for jhumias takes off
GAP-ing holes allow garbage into Ganga

Bangalore, March 26: 
Karnataka Speaker M.V. Venkatappa has ruled that if some �imbecile� members of the House make �absurd� comments or �irresponsible insinuations�, they cannot be asked to go to �hell�.

In an unprecedented move, the Speaker has issued a glossary of over 100 words and expressions, which he has termed as unparliamentary. He has asked the members to desist from using them during debates or interventions in the House.

Venkatappa declared many words, including circus, fools, false, hell, hireling, irresponsible, lie, shameless, useless and spy, as unparliamentary and urged the members to avoid them. The list includes words or expressions expunged by earlier Speakers.

The Speaker has also found several expressions in Kannada objectionable, including kuri (sheep), ayogya (fool), manga (monkey), goonda (criminal), durahankara (arrogance), muttalathana (stupidity) and bhanda sarkara (obstinate government).

He also wants members to avoid words like damn, deceitful, disgraceful, and expressions like �cheap popularity�, �fish market�, �undue interference� and �waste of time� in the House.

Opinion was divided in the House over Janata Dal (United) member C. Byre Gowda�s expression nayi nishte (dog-like loyalty) of Congress members during the debate of the panchayat raj Bill. The ruling party demanded its expunction, while others found nothing wrong with it.

Venkatappa immediately ruled it unparliamentary, but allowed it to stay on the records.

Law and parliamentary affairs minister D.B. Chandre Gowda, however, took a contrary view and said: �Dog is another name for loyalty and we are proud to have shown our loyalty to the voters and kept our promise on the panchayat raj.�

A senior Opposition leader said if the Speaker were to remain obstinate about his ruling, the members may run out of words during debates in the House.    

Chennai, March 26: 
BJP president Kushabhau Thakre said today that India should not sign the CTBT unless its security concerns were properly addressed.

Talking to reporters here, Thakre said that at no cost could India afford to have its security jeopardised and that it was facing threats on various fronts. �The US cannot thrust anything on us unilaterally,� he declared, adding that the Senate had failed to ratify the treaty.

Asked whether the government would seek a consensus on the issue, he said there were many other important issues like poverty alleviation and law and order confronting the nation.

The BJP�s strong opposition comes close on the heels of US President Bill Clinton�s visit when he lobbied for the CTBT.

The Vajpayee government has not expressed its opposition to the CTBT in such strong terms as Thakre. If anything, after Pokhran-II, there has been a subtle shift in the Centre�s stand in favour of the treaty.

�They are held back only on account of possible protests from the Left and the Congress. But Thakre�s unequivocal stand should make the government think twice before they decide in favour of the treaty,� a BJP leader said.

However, on other fronts, Thakre seemed supportive of Vajpayee. Evading questions, new RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan said: �Well they have their views, and we have ours. There is no question of any conflict. No question of them giving any direction to the BJP either.�

In answer to another question, he said Clinton would now be in a better position to appreciate the ground realities in the subcontinent and that with the moral support of the world community, India would go from strength to strength. On Bihar, Thakre said even if Rabri Devi is chargesheeted, his party would not demand imposition of President�s Rule. Not out of charity, but simply because such a move would not get past the Rajya Sabha where the Congress has a decisive presence, he noted ruefully.    

Agartala, March 26: 
The Tripura government�s scheme of rehabilitating tribal shifting cultivators on government land through rubber plantation and homestead projects has started bearing fruit. With the joint initiative of the Rubber Board, the Tripura Forest Development and Plantation Corporation (TFDPC) and the Tribal Rehabilitation and Plantation Corporation (TRPC), a batch of tribal shifting cultivators were rehabilitated on 237 hectares of land in Rongmala and Laxmandhepa under Sonamura sub-division of west Tripura. The two projects, implemented with financial aid from the World Bank, were inaugurated yesterday by chief minister Manik Sarkar and rubber production commissioner A.K. Krishnakumar. Sarkar said one lakh hectares of land would be brought under rubber cultivation in the state in the next few years and all the shifting cultivators would be rehabilitated. Krishnakumar said the Board was taking steps to arrange for processing and marketing of rubber in the state. Tripura has already emerged as the second largest rubber-producing state after Kerala in the country. Official sources in the TFDPC said successive state governments had faced lots of hurdles in rehabilitating the tribal shifting cultivators in settled agriculture. Apart from their nomadic nature, the age-old habit of living in forests always posed a problem. �There have been cases where families of shifting cultivators have left entire plantations and homesteads built with government assistance within six months or a year,� a source said. The problem is also reflected in the changing number of shifting cultivators from one census to another. Sources said at present there are 30,000 such cultivators who had no other means of livelihood. Sources said the Rubber Board had started acting as the nodal implementing agency for rubber cultivation in the state since the Seventies. The state governments, which have been co-operating with the Board at every step, found this as tailor-made for rehabilitating shifting cultivators. In 1992, the Rubber Board took Rongmala, Laxmandhepa, Kanchani and Borakha colonies in west and south Tripura for rehabilitation. �Till date, 2,070 hectares of land with 2,000 beneficiaries have been brought under rubber cultivation�, said Krishnakumar, who pioneered rubber cultivation in Tripura. Besides, another rubber cultivation project is being implemented on 5,000 acres of land with a Rs 28-crore World Bank aid. �Already 8,000 hectares have been implemented under this project,� Krishnakumar said. However, like any other sphere of activity in the state, the rubber plantation project is also hamstrung by militancy. The Board was forced to abandon the big Harimangalpara plantation in Kamalpur sub-division because of militant threats of killing and abduction. Work in Surendranagar plantation in Sadar sub-division is also being affected. Several Rubber Board personnel have been killed and kidnapped over the past seven years. Huge ransoms had to be paid for the release of those abducted. �In spite of all this, we are working to implement our projects,� Krishnakumar said.    

Varanasi, March 26: 
Ganga-lovers formed a 7 km-long human chain around major ghats in Varanasi on �Global Water Day � last week pleading with passers-by to give �Gangaji a thought�. But the river kept choking on refuse and the debris of human callousness.

At Rajendra Ghat, where Rajiv Gandhi launched the much-hyped Ganga Action Plan (GAP) 15 years ago, there is a stench so strong that even dogs keep away.

Gaping holes in GAP, Phase I, launched in 1985 with an initial outlay of Rs 1,700 crore, have remained unplugged. About Rs 600 crore has been sunk in the project to �clean up the river�, but even today about 80 per cent of untreated sewage finds its way into the Ganga.

�We face problems,� says M.C. Gupta, general manager, Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam. �But we have succeeded in our aim which was to reduce the pollution level in the river,� he adds with caution. Facts, however, point otherwise.

Studies, after GAP I was implemented, have shown that the river can decompose organic waste 20 times faster than other rivers because it has a very high re-aeration rate, a process which results in it absorbing the atmospheric oxygen. But almost every pollution control measure aimed at in GAP 1 has failed.

Project experts, who had initially identified 20 cities in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal as the major pollution stations, had said setting up of sewage treatment plants, public toilets and electric crematoriums, and the release of 30,000 turtles � turtles feed on dead bodies � into the river would do the trick. They proved wrong.

Most sewage treatment plants could not function properly due to the erratic power supply. Public toilets did not become popular because of the Re 1 levy. While crematoriums failed because of religious reasons, the turtles found their way into the plates of flesh-eaters in West Bengal and Orissa.

�The claims of the government about the success of GAP I are false,� says Shyam Sunder of Sankat Mochan, an NGO in Varanasi.

Time magazine�s �Man of the planet� Sunder added: �The coliform bacteria level has gone beyond acceptable limits. When it should not be above 10 units per 100 ml of water, it stands at 80,000 units per 100 ml of water today.�

The state and central pollution control boards turn a blind eye as many of the 60,000 pilgrims in Varanasi continue to dump corpses in the river. Others defaecate into the river as a matter of right.

The failure of GAP I, however, has not stopped the government from initiating GAP II, which was launched in 1993. Groups, both governmental and non-governmental, are vying for the project.

Asked why even after seven years GAP II has failed to be implemented, Gupta says: �The NGOs are playing foul here and they don�t want the local authorities to do the project.�

The NGOs counter the Nigam�s criticism.    


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