- Delhi Anti Corruption Branch to file FIR against Mukesh Ambani, Veerappa Moily and Murli Deora, says Arvind Kejriwal on hiking gas price.
- Moily says, gas price is fixed as per expert advice.
- India returns to Olympic movement after IOC revokes the suspension of Indian Olympic Association.
- Prime Minister says, honest officers should not be harassed for bonafide mistakes.
- At least 28 people killed in road accidents in West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh.
- Protests continue in both Telangana and Seemandhra regions of Andhra Pradesh over State Re-organisation Bill.
The Delhi government today asked its Anti Corruption Branch, ACB to file criminal cases against former Union Minister Murli Deora, Oil Minister Veerappa Moily, Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani and others in the alleged irregularities in gas pricing. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Mr Kejriwal said, ACB has also been directed to file a case against former Director General, Hydrocarbons, VK Sibal.
Demanding that the hike in price of natural gas, which is to be hiked from 1st April, should be kept in abeyance, he said, he will write to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh in this connection.
"I will write to the Prime Minister and Mr. Moily and request them that till the enquiry is on, this order should be kept in abeyance. Secondly, I would request them that all Ministries should co-operate in this probe. Thirdly, I would recommend that if Reliance Industries is not producing gas or creating artificial scarcity, the oil well should be handed over to ONGC or any other state owned entity."
The price of gas from April, under the revised formula is estimated to be 8.2 to 8.4 dollars per million British thermal unit as against the current 4.2 dollars.
Meanwhile, talking to reporters outside Parliament, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Veerappa Moily rejected Kejriwal's allegations. Mr Moily said, price fixing of petroleum products is not done arbitrarily but on the basis of expert advice.
"I took the special interest to ensure that CNG and PNG prices are reduced. He should know that. It is not the question of Mukesh or Deora or everybody. He should know that there should be a certain system for fixing the prices and nothing is done without expert advice, and also with regard to the availability."
The Lok Sabha has been adjourned for the day and the Rajya Sabha till 2 PM on several issues. The Telangana issue continued to disrupt the proceedings in the Lok Sabha even today. When the House re-assembled after an hour-long adjournment, members from both regions of Andhra Pradesh rushed into the well and raised slogans on the statehood issue. While the members from Telangana demanded that the Telangana bill be tabled in Parliament, Members from Seemandhra protested that the State be kept united. Ministers from Seemandhra were also on their feet on the issue.
In the Rajya Sabha also, members from both the regions of Andhra Pradesh continued to stall the proceedings. Amidst the din, Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad introduced the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Bill. Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Manik Rao Gavit also introduced a Bill to modify the list of Scheduled Castes in Haryana, Karnataka and Odisha. As the din continued, Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien adjourned the House till 2 PM.
In Andhra Pradesh, protests continued in both Telangana and Seemandhra regions even as the State Re-organisation Bill got consent from the President. Opposing the conditions proposed in the bill, bandh is being observed in 10 districts of Telangana region today while the striking employees intensified their protests in Seemandhra region. More from our correspondent:
"Opposing the proposal of making Hyderabad a joint capital for 10 years and law and order powers to the Governor, bandh is being observed in Telangana region today following a call given by several people’s organisations and also the Osmania University Students’ JAC. Bandh continued in 13 districts of Seemandhra region protesting against the proposed state bifurcation. State Government Employees who have been striking work for the past few days intensified their protest. Demanding to mount pressure on the centre not to introduce the bill in Parliament, the agitators laid siege of the houses of the central ministers and also MPs. They also held demonstrations at central government offices at several places in the region. Lakshmi, AIR News, Hyderabad."
Several political parties today held separate dharnas in support of their demands in the Parliament complex. Telugu Desam Party members from Andhra Pradesh raised the statehood issue. Waiving placards and raising slogans, party members from Telangana held dharna near Mahatma Gandhi statue in support of Telangana.
The government is seeking legal opinion whether the Andhra Pradesh Re-organization Bill is a money bill or not. Talking to reporters outside Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath has said, the government is holding discussion on the issue on the possibility of tabling it either in the Lok Sabha or in the Rajya Sabha.
"We are seeking legal opinion on the possibility of tabling it in Rajya Sabha or in the Lok Sabha. There is one view that it's a money bill. So, money bill can only be introduced in Lok Sabha. There is another view that it's not a money bill. So, these are the issues which we are seeking legal opinion on."
The BJP Parliamentary Party has expressed serious concern over the continued disruptions in both the Houses of Parliament and held Congress responsible for it. Talking to reporters after the meeting, senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Congress has failed to control its members to ensure proper functioning of Parliament.
"The Congress members are disrupting both the Houses, Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, apart from some others. Why can't the Congress party control its members? Their Chief Minister is sitting on a Dharna, derailing everything, and the Congress is looking helpless."
Rajya Sabha has been adjourned till tomorrow.
The International Olympic Committee, IOC has revoked the ban imposed on Indian Olympic Association, IOA, paving the way for India’s return to the Olympic fold. IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said, they have been informed by the IOC that the ban on India has been lifted.
The decision comes just after IOA held elections on Sunday as per IOC directives. Under pressure from IOC and India's Sports Ministry to adhere to the Olympic Charter and bar chargesheeted officials from contesting elections, IOA had conducted its polls on Sunday. N. Ramachandran was elected unopposed as President of IOA. Ramachandran had said upon his appointment that his main objective was to have the Indian flag at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The goal is now achieved as the flag will be unfurled at the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics currently underway in Russia.
The news also brought huge relief for Indian athletes as they will now be able to represent the country in big events slated for this year including the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and Asian Games.
India was suspended by the IOC in December 2012 for electing tainted men like Lalit Bhanot as secretary general and Abhay Singh Chautala as President.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that honest officers should not be harassed for bonafide mistakes made while making well-meaning decisions. Addressing the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Central Vigilance Commission, CVC in New Delhi today, the Prime Minister warned that if this was not done, decision making will suffer badly and governance will be stifled. Dr Singh said that CVC should live upto the words of former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.
"The then Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri had observed that the Commission was to be a fearless champion of a man of integrity and source of terror to corrupt officers. We must ensure the championing of the cause of the man of integrity in all our institutions."
Regarding speedy disposal of cases related to graft, the Prime Minister asked CVC and other such agencies to be careful and expeditious in dealing with disciplinary proceedings and grant of vigilance clearance. He cautioned that excessive delays make such exercises meaningless. Dr. Singh said, the UPA Government has been willing to do more to insulate the CBI from extraneous influences.
"Investigating agencies have always enjoyed complete autonomy in investigation of tribunal cases. Our government has also been willing to do more to insulate the CBI from extraneous influences. However, it is also necessary to ensure that the political executive exercises the oversight that it is expected to in a democratic polity over any investigating agency."
In West Bengal, atleast 18 people were killed in a two separate road accidents at Malda district today. More from our correspondent:
"West Bengal government has announced two lakh rupees compensation to the families of each road accident victims. Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee has expressed deep sorrow over the incident. In the first incident, 16 people of a marriage party died when their vehicle collided with a truck near Kaluadighi on National Highway 34. In another incident, two persons were killed at Alampur in Gajole when a lorry hit a van on the same national highway. Arijit Chakravorty, AIR News, Kolkata."
In Madhya Pradesh, ten people were killed and twenty injured in a road accident in Umaria district in the wee hours today. Our Bhopal correspondent reports a truck and tractor-trolley collided head on near Bharola village on Katni road. Eleven injured have been referred to Jabalpur Medical College Hospital. The district administration has announced an ex-gratia of 25 thousand rupees each to the relatives of deceased and ten thousand each to the injured.
India celebrates a landmark achievement in public health - the victory over polio. Not a single case of polio has been detected in the last three years. The World Health Organisation is expected to formally certify India's polio-free status next month. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is organising a function in New Delhi this evening to commemorate the accomplishment. A report:
"It is only the second time in the history that a disease has been eliminated from the country through intense Pulse Polio Immunisation Programme after small pox in 1980. Only one case of polio was recorded in 2011, down from 741 in 2009. Since the start of the first immunization campaign in 1995, 131 campaigns have been held in the country till date. Nearly 23 lakh volunteers are engaged in the extensive vaccination programme covering about 17 crore children under five years of age during every round of immunisation. With Zakir Malik, Shiela, Air News, Delhi."
The Sensex at the Bombay Stock Exchange remained firm in afternoon trade, and stood 46 points, or 0.2 percent in the positive zone, at 20,380 a short while ago. Earlier, in morning deals, the Sensex had gained 64 points, on selective buying by funds and retail investors, amid rising Asian bourses.
Stock markets in China, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Taiwan had climbed between 0.5 percent and 1.8 percent, today, ahead of US Federal Reserve chief, Janet Yellen's first testimony on monetary policy. The US Dow Jones Industrial Average had ended 0.1 per cent higher in yesterday's trade.
The rupee trimmed its initial gains but was still quoted higher by 3 paise to 62.40 per dollar in late morning trade today on mild selling of the US currency by banks and exporters. The rupee resumed higher at 62.37 per dollar as against the last closing level of 62.43 at the Interbank Foreign Exchange Market.
In Hong Kong, the dollar fell further in early trade against other major currencies, as global investors awaited Janet Yellen's first testimony as the new Federal Reserve chief, later in the day.
The country's Exports rose 3.8 per cent to 26.8 billion dollars in January this year. The trade deficit declined to 9.9 billion dollars in January from 10.1 billion in December last year.
India and Netherlands today signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU to enhance cooperation in renewable energy sector. Under the agreement, an Indo-Dutch Working Group will be set up to facilitate exchange of technical and institutional knowledge on clean energy.