first_imgThe Congress has said that people, issued notices to appear for verification of their documents on flimsy grounds, are “coerced to move at very short notice”, lest their names are struck off the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that is being updated in Assam. A delegation led by Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Ripun Bora on Friday met State Coordinator for NRC Prateek Hajela and submitted a memorandum for checking “harassment of people in the name of verification of documents” for preparation of the Supreme Court-monitored NRC. Also Read  “It appears that the State Coordinator for NRC is acting under the direct instruction of the ruling State government, which has its own agenda,” Mr. Bora said, demanding an end to the practice of calling people to verification centres at very short notice. The nine-point memorandum submitted by the Congress includes the appointment of sensitised personnel at the verification centres to help poor and illiterate people who have no clue about the NRC updating process. May 31 deadline Registrar General of India, Sailesh said the second and final draft of NRC will be published by May 31. He made this assurance to delegations of All Assam Students’ Union and All Assam Minority Students’ Union that met him on Thursday. The first draft, recognising 1.9 crore of the 3.29 crore applicants for inclusion of names in the updated NRC of 1951, was published at the stroke of midnight on December 31. The updating exercise is according the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985 that wants the State to be rid of illegal migrants who entered Assam after March 24, 1971. The verification process for the 1.39 crore applicants left out of the first draft began in January. This phase has been tricky because of the verification of citizenship documents of 29 lakh married women, mostly migrant Muslims, that began on April 2. The process has been running simultaneously with the verification of 48 lakh cases of mismatches in family tree that began on February 17. The mismatch, officials said, is because of faulty or presumably forged legacy data provided by applicants. The lowdown on Assam’s NRC drive Assam citizenship: SC refuses to extend May 31 deadline for updating NRC  The Congress claimed the citizens, primarily in remote rural areas low on literacy, were being subjected to harassment and that the entire exercise is executed in haste. ”There seems to be a never-ending issuance of notices and circulars to various districts for citizens to appear in remote corners of the State for verification of their documents,” the memorandum signed by Mr. Bora said. ”The system put in place by the State Coordinator of NRC is fundamentally flawed and if this mode of functioning is allowed to continue, it will snowball into a major humanitarian crisis and the people will be forced to take to the streets,” it said. The Congress also referred to complaints about incompetence of officials at the verification centres in processing the documents, besides shortage of people for doing the job without any glitch. Also Readlast_img read more

first_imgTwo army commanders allegedly colluded with a private developer to hand him seven acres of prime defence land worth Rs 25.50 crore in Pune. A confidential Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) report, a copy of which is with india today, notes that Lt General (retd) B.S. Thakker and Lt General Nobel Thamburaj regularised unauthorised constructions on military land. The report also holds a director in the Directorate General of Defence Estates guilty of passing decisions that helped the developer continue commercial exploitation of defence land. Lt General Thamburaj succeeded Lt General Thakker as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GOC-in-C), Southern Army Command, in 2006.Residency Club, formerly a residential bungalow, built on defence landThe Army recently court-martialled Lt General P.K. Rath for issuing a no-objection certificate to a private developer at the Sukna military station in West Bengal. There was, however, no transfer of defence land in Sukna. In the Pune cantonment, this alleged nexus between the Defence Estates department and the Army virtually gifted away prime defence land to Ramkumar Agarwal, a private developer and chairman of Citizen Sports and Recreation Club Pvt Ltd. Leased as a private residence, the plot has been turned into a commercial venture, the Residency Club, violating cantonment rules.The area goc-in-c heads the local government in every one of the 62 cantonments across India. Three crucial decisions that virtually legitimised the club’s occupation of defence land in Pune, one of the Army’s most important cantonments, were issued days before the incumbents either retired or moved out of office. Ved Prakash, the director of Defence Estates Organisation (DEO), set aside all notices against the club a month before his retirement in November 2006. Lt General Thakker regularised unauthorised constructions by the club just a day before he retired on January 31, 2006. On December 29, 2008, Lt General Thamburaj admitted an appeal by the private developer against the government notice for unauthorised construction. He took this decision two days before he relinquished his appointment as southern army commander and moved to Delhi as Vice-Chief of Army Staff. These decisions were taken on the case which was subjudice, the report notes.Lt General Thamburaj”The club was in existence for over a decade before I was posted in Pune. They had erected a few temporary structures for sports facilities. Proper procedures were followed and these decisions were not taken on a spur of the moment,” said Lt General Thamburaj. “The club did not monetarily benefit from my decision.” Agarwal, the owner of Residency Club, denied ever having met any of the three officials. “They have nothing to do with the club. They haven’t done me any favours,” he says.The CAG report suggests otherwise. The ‘old grant bungalow’, or a private residence built on defence land, was built in 1940. In 1986, Zarir Cooper, the Holder of Occupancy Rights (HOR), informed the army about a proposal to transfer the land to Agarwal. This was not granted. In August 1987, the HOR once again applied for permission to start a club in the premises, which was once again rejected by the deo. Defence land rules expressly stipulate that the bungalow can be used only for residential purposes. The Government can resume ownership of the land after paying the occupant the cost of the building. In 1999, however, the Director General, Defence Estates overruled the deo’s objection and okayed the transfer of the property to the private party. The main condition for the transfer was that the Government would hold the title to the land and that the bungalow would be used for residential purposes only. The developer challenged the Government’s title over the land in the civil court and began redeveloping the bungalow as a recreation club. The court confirmed the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) title on the land but restrained the Government from interfering with its use as a club. The case remained pending in court.Armed with the court order, the developer converted the bungalow into the Residency Club and made extensive alterations on the land. As none of these constructions were approved by the Cantonment Board, Pune, notices were issued on Agarwal by the board between 1992 and 2006. The builder appealed against the notices. In January 2005, he agreed to pay the MoD an annual lease rent. The Defence Estates Department assessed the rent at Rs 79 lakh per year. “Interestingly, no progress was made in this regard by the MoD,” the report notes. This inaction cost the Government over Rs 10 crore-Rs 7.91 crore in a one-time premium and Rs 3.8 crore in annual rent since 2005.The case then went to the appellate authority, Ved Prakash, then director of Defence Estates. Prakash set aside all the notices and stopped the removal of unauthorised constructions. In 2006, then goc-in-c Lt General Thakker regularised the unauthorised constructions on the deposit of a meagre Rs 8.33 lakh. He did this a few days before he retired.Lt General Thakker”No army commander can pass orders to regularise unauthorised constructions; it is Defence Estates officers who do that. Moreover, if the club has already been around for a decade before I took over them, how does the army commander come into the picture?” says Lt General Thakker.In 2006, the Pune Cantonment Board filed a suit in the Bombay High Court against Prakash’s decision stopping unauthorised constructions.In December the same year, a new Cantonment Act passed by Parliament came into force. The Act transferred appellate powers from the Defence Estates Officer to the goc-in-c. In 2007, a notice for unauthorised construction was served on the club. The developer filed an appeal before the goc-in-c Southern Command. This appeal was allowed by Lt General Thamburaj on December 30, 2008, a day prior to relinquishing charge. This decision taken despite the matter being subjudice, virtually regularised the club’s illegal constructions.The report severely indicts the army and Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE) for failing to protect Government property. Despite being aware of the builder’s intent in utilising the bungalow as a club, the DGDE sanctioned the property transfer. Defence Estates authorities failed to pursue the court case: no hearing was held since 1997. This soft-pedalling only loosened the Government’s hold on the land. Despite a decade, the local military authorities failed to finalise the board proceedings that were convened in 1999.Defence ministry officials say the Pune case is symptomatic of the malaise afflicting cantonments in Lucknow, Delhi and Meerut. “Most of the corruption in these cantonment areas revolves around Old Grant Bungalows,” says one official. “Even when leases expire, no effort is made to resume leases on these bungalows,” he adds. In several cases, either the land is illegally sold or the usage is changed from residential to commercial with nobody to check.A CAG report says that three crucial decisions that virtually legitimised the Residency Club’s occupation of defence land were issued just a few days before the incumbents either retired or moved out of office.Bungalow owners allege discrimination by the ‘pick and choose’ policy of lease renewal adopted by the local army commander, cantonment ceo and Defence Estate officer. “Frequent land scams take place because of the flawed land records kept by a single authority, the Defence Estates Department,” says Raghavinder Dass, president of the All-India Cantonment Bungalow Owners’ Association.This new scam to tumble out of the ministry’s closet once again highlights the dangers to prime defence land. Last year, the Defence Estates was severely criticised by a Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) report. The report said that the DGDE, custodian of 17,000 acres of defence land worth Rs 20 lakh crore, had failed in all its primary tasks of audit, accounting, acquisition of land and financial management. The department has been unable to punish its black sheep. One of its officers, A.S. Rajgopal, was promoted twice despite being chargesheeted a few years ago. He retired as principal director of Defence Estates last year. The cda recommended closing down the DGDE. The Government is yet to take any action.Defence Minister A.K. Antony recently told Parliament that 11,000 acres of defence land were being illegally occupied all over the country. Antony said that he had asked for computerisation of the DGDE’s records. “This is preposterous. Computerisation is being held out as a panacea for corruption,” says a senior Ministry of Defence official. Computerisation of the DGDE’s land records has been on for the past five years but the organisation is nowhere near realising a central database. The DGDE has been unable to respond to even basic RTI queries on the size of defence land holdings. With no reform or accountability in sight, defence land scams will continue to stain officers of the armed forces.advertisementadvertisementadvertisementlast_img read more

first_imgStefan Stojacic. Photo from Fiba.comMANILA, Philippines—Pasig Chooks will have one less problem to worry about come the 2019 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Masters in Doha.Top-ranked team in the world Liman of Serbia will miss the services of world No. 2 Stefan Stojacic for the next six weeks, which includes the Doha tournament on April 18 and 19.ADVERTISEMENT Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess Outmuscled in crucial stretch, Rain or Shine vows to be more aggressive Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue Liman, however, remains a formidable squad with world No. 3 Aleksandar Ratkov, No. 4 Mihailo Vasic, and No. 7 Stefan Kojic in its stacked roster.And just last weekend, a Stojacic-less Liman finished in third place in the Wuxi Challenger.Liman went unbeaten in the group phase then, blasted Moscow Inanomo in the quarterfinals before suffering a 21-22 heartbreaker to eventual second placer Gagarin of Russia.That’s why Pasig Chooks still has little room for error in the global meet.“We have to steal one game. Everyone knows that Liman is one of the top teams in the world,” stressed Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 commissioner Eric Altamirano.“Katara is also the home team that is why we are hoping that the Filipinos in Doha will come out to support us.”The Liman squad is really a good team. Well, they are the top team in the world but their best player is original. If we do our best and stick to the gameplan, we can get a good result,” said Pavlovic.ADVERTISEMENT Pasig Kings import Nikola Pavlovic said the loss of the cager known as ‘Mr. Robot’ will be a huge blow to the Serbian’s campaign.“It will be a big difference and a big loss to them because he’s the player that makes the team better,” said Pavlovic, who previously played for Liman’s crosstown rival Novi Sad. “He can score a lot of points, especially the two-points. It will be a big problem for them.”FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsPasig, the reigning Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup champions, takes on Liman early Friday morning at 12:25 a.m. (Manila time).That clash against Liman comes after the quartet of Pavlovic, Joshua Munzon, Taylor Statham, and Angelo Tsagarakis face host team Katara on Thursday at 10:50 pm. LATEST STORIES View comments PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Hontiveros presses for security audit of national power gridcenter_img Philippine Arena Interchange inaugurated DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte MOST READ Panelo: Duterte ‘angry’ with SEA Games hosting hassles Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Nextlast_img read more