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Since 1st March, 1999
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Nation at a Glance

Ex-minister charged in housing scam

New Delhi: The CBI has chargesheeted former minister of state of urban development P.K. Thungan for accepting bribe to allot out of turn government houses, reports our special correspondent.

D.D. Arora — the personal secretary of then Union minister of urban development Sheila Kaul — was working as a conduit for Thungan, the chargesheet said. Sixteen more have been named in the chargesheet filed in the court of special sudge Prem Kumar.

The agency had already chargesheeted Sheila Kaul in the housing scam on April 22.

For more than three years since 1993, the accused officials influenced people by saying that they could get houses provided they greased their palm, the CBI alleged.

The CBI alleged that Thungon used to sanction out of turn allotments for government flats after perusing the applications forwarded by Arora.

The CBI has found that specially two members of Thungan’s personal staff, T.T. Kumarasamy and Anant Behera, extorted huge sums of money, the agency alleged.

Umesh Joshi has also been charged by the CBI for entering into a criminal conspiracy with Thungon for getting the allotments against extraneous considerations.

The CBI took up the case in 1996 following a Supreme Court directive on a public interest litigation.

Surat cops bust blood racket

Ahmedabad: Surat police claimed to have busted a medical racket in selling plasma extracted through unregulated blood donations to various laboratories across the country, reports our correspondent.

Dinesh Patel, owner of Fair Deal Diagnostic Lab, Surat, his son Mehul and Dr A.H. Desai, were arrested in a raid on the lab on Friday evening. A case of medical malpractice has been registered against the trio, said Surat deputy commissioner of police Harikrishna Patel.

Although licensed by the Food and Drug Control Authority to make plasma, the laboratory had allegedly disregarded blood-donation norms for the last few years to mint money. Every 100 ml of plasma fetches Rs 4,100-5,500 in the international market, said an Indian Medical Association officebearer who refused to be named.

According to rules, a healthy person can donate blood only once a week. But the Patels and Desai allegedly lured unemployed people to donate blood three times a week at Rs 150 a donation.

They were also provided food and lodging in the laboratory. During the raid, 12 professional donors — some from Mumbai and Pune — were found living in the laboratory.

GSLV launch on May 8

bangalore (PTI): The Indian Space Research Organisation has set 5.30 pm on May 8 for the launch of the indigenous Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-D2).

GSLV-D2 would carry on board the second technology experiment satellite GSAT-2. The launch would take place from the Satish Dhawan space centre at Sriharikota.

Indians killed

Sydney (PTI): Three Fijian Indian children have been found murdered in a spa at their home in Queensland, north of Brisbane. The murder of Neelma (24), Kunal (18) and Sidhi (12) took place when their parents, Vijay and Shirley Singh, were away on a business trip to Fiji. Police are yet to release the autopsy results and Vijay and Shirley have not been allowed to enter their house because of forensic and other investigations, reports said.

Death damages

nagpur (PTI): A high court bench here has awarded Rs 3 lakh to a widow from Tumsar as compensation for custodial death of her husband in the district jail there. Anil Londase was arrested in connection with a theft on October 17, 1999 and was regularly produced before the court during trials. On January 22, 2000, Londase was injured during a wrestling bout with cops in the jail. He succumbed to severe multiple fractures on February 8.

Theatre strike

mumbai (PTI): More than 1,200 cinema halls in Maharashtra would down their shutters from May 16 pressing for various demands, including reduction in taxes, increase in seating capacity and simplification of rules for licence renewal. The demands also include permission of collecting tax-free service charge of Rs 2 for touring cinema and Rs 5 per ticket for all cinemas.

Vegetable scare

new delhi (PTI): The Rajya Sabha was on Friday informed of metal contamination of vegetables by agriculture minister Ajit Singh. He said samples of okra (bhindi), spinach (palak) and cauliflower have shown high levels of zinc, lead and cadmium.

Moved by the majestic Himalayas, India-born art curator Pratapaditya Pal has organised an exhibition on religious art from Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and India at the Art Institute of Chicago. The 190 works date from the 5th to the 19th centuries.

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