Notice Board

CIC: Public can access govt employee’s service book

MUMBAI: You can now request for a copy of a government employee's service book under theRight to Information (RTI) Act to examine his or her track record in discharging duties in the public service. In a first, Central Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit last month directed the railways to supply a copy of the service book of a ticket examiner (TE) to RTI activist Chetan Kothari, saying it was information that needed to be placed in the public domain.

Kothari had filed an RTI application in March with the central public information officer at the office of the divisional railway manager, Western Railway, seeking information on the action taken against TE Allan D'Costa on a complaint made by his friend earlier. Kothari also sought D'Costa's service book and confidential report.

Kothari had approached the CIC after his appeal was rejected a second time. Kothari told the CIC that since D'Costa was a public servant, the information officer's refusal to make available his service book and confidential report was against the provisions of the RTI Act. He said provisions in section 8 (1) (J), quoted by railway officials for not providing the service book, were not applicable in the case as the TE was in the public service.

The CIC held that a public authority was obligated under section 4(1) (b) of the RTI Act to disclose information related to the service of its employees and directed the railways to make available the TE's service book to Kothari.

During the hearing, D'Costa objected to sharing his service book, saying the disclosure of service details would endanger the safety of him as well as his family members. The CIC said she was not convinced by D'Costa's argument as this information was anyway expected to be placed in the public domain. "The information should reach the appellant within four weeks of receipt of this order," Dixit ordered. But Dixit said the railways need not disclose the TE's confidential report and personal information as section 8 (1) (J) of the RTI Act exempted such information from being made public.

Kothari had sought the service book of the TE in a case where the latter, while on duty at the Bombay Central station, had asked Kothari's friend Avinash Mody to pay a fine of Rs 5,320 for not carrying the proof of identity along with his ticket after he had alighted from the Shatabdi Express. Mody had filed a complaint with the railways, demanding action against the TE and seeking clarification on whether TEs at stations can ask for proof of identity after those in the train itself have already checked and cleared it. He also wanted the railways to return the fine he had paid.

According to Mody, he could not furnish the proof of identity to the D'Costa as he and a friend were travelling together, and the friend, whose name was first on the ticket and carried the proof of identity, had alighted from the train at Borivali station. Modi said it was not possible for him to call the friend to Bombay Central to show the proof of identity again to the D'Costa, as the friend had a flight to catch at the airport. Mody pointed out that the TE in the train had already checked and cleared the proof of identity provided by his friend.

Meanwhile, state information commissioner Ratnakar Gaikwad told TOI that a Supreme Court judgment in a similar case had suggested that the record in a service book was a matter between the employee and the employer and was not a matter of public interest.

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25,938 Motorists Booked, 856 Vehicles Seized During Weekend

KUWAIT CITY : The General Traffic Department organized series of impromptu campaigns across the six governorates at the weekend and registered 25,938 citations, impounded 856 vehicles and motorbikes, and detained 172 people.

The officers recorded 5,281 citations and seized 81 vehicles in the Capital, where 24 motorbikes were also taken and 40 people were detained in the cell; while 27 persons were placed in detention at Farwaniya after the traffic officers registered 3,300 citations and impounded 102 vehicles from there. The campaign in Hawalli led to the registration of 6,500 citations, impounding of 77 vehicles and detention of 57 people, while officers recorded 303 violations and seized 4 vehicles in Mubarak Al-Kabeer.  They issued 1,481 citations, seized 17 vehicles, and detained one person in Jahra.

Meanwhile, traffic officers at the Operations Unit registered 3,860 citations, and impounded 483 vehicles plus 2 motorbikes, and detained 41 people in the cell. Officers at the airport also registered 316 violations and impounded 4 vehicles.  During the period, the police registered 1,356 traffic accidents and executed 25 service orders nationwide. 

KUWAIT CITY: Ahmadi traffic officers launched several inspection checkpoints on Wafra Road where they arrested 20 reckless drivers and seized their vehicles.
The arrested individuals were referred to the concerned authorities while their vehicles were referred to the seized-vehicle garage.
Security sources revealed that such campaigns will continue in all areas within the governorate to arrest those who violate traffic regulations.

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Ramadan on July 9

KUWAIT: The fasting month of Ramadan is forecast to begin on July 9 on the basis of astronomical calculations, said astronomer Adel Al-Saadoun yesterday. Saadoun told KUNA the crescent will be visible on July 8 at 10:14 am and disappear some four minutes after sunset.

He added the sighting of the crescent would not be possible at any spot throughout the Muslim world, but would be seen through telescope in southern America. However on July 9, it would be visible in some countries including Kuwait.

Ramadan is a yearly month of fasting observed by millions of Muslims throughout the world. Kuwaitis observe and celebrate its advent and Eid Al-Fitr marking its end. People fast from dawn to dusk, and public eating, drinking or smoking is punishable by law.

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Man who mapped India sits forgotten under tree

CHENNAI: S Akash has visited St Thomas Mount a number of times, but he has never seen the bust of William Lambton, a British soldier and geographer who launched his work for theGreat Trigonometrical Survey on top of this hill. 

He's not the only one. The thousands who visit this holy place where St Thomas, the apostle, is believed to have attained martyrdom, often miss the bust hidden under a huge banyan tree by the side of a hall. 

"Statues of many religious greats get prominence in the open place on top of this holy hill. But people who come here don't know about the statue of Lambton," saidSundaram Krishnaswamy, a retired history teacher from Guindy. 

Lambton is one of the people who mapped south India. Although the British conquered vast territories in India, they didn't have geographic knowledge of the areas they conquered. An extensive survey was essential for their administrative purposes, which eventually became the Great Trigonometrical Survey. 

It was Lord Wellesley who realized the necessity of a survey in the southern part of India after the fall of Srirangapatnam in 1799. Three surveys started simultaneously. While Francis Buchanan started the agricultural survey of Malabar and Mysore, Colin Mackenzie began a survey based on topography. William Lambton, who participated in the Mysore war in 1799, was made the superintendent of the Trigonometrical Survey. 

St Thomas Mount is the place where Lambton launched his field work for the Great Trigonometrical Survey on April 10, 1802. 

"Lambton measured a line at St Thomas Mount with another adjacent hill. It was the first operation for the Great Trigonometrical Survey, which eventually scaled all territories in India from Cape Comorin (today's Kanyakumari) to the Himalayas. But there is no literature available to the visitors about this great event," said Krishnaswamy. 

The bust of Lambton was unveiled on top of St Thomas Mount on September 17, 2003 by the then surveyor general of India P Nag on the eve of the bicentenary celebration of the event. 

Being one of the first accurate measurements of a section of an arc of longitude, the Great Trigonometrical Survey had a great scientific impact on the geography of India. But many don't know that it was on St Thomas Mount, that the work began, more than 200 years ago. 

"We have no complaints about the maintenance of the Lambton statue, but we wish it was given more importance. Since the statue is hidden under a tree, many people who come to the hill miss it. If a small booklet with detailed information about Lambton and his work was available, it would help visitors understand the historical importance of the hill better," said K Chinnadurai, a heritage-enthusiast.
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‘Forbes India’ editors sacked for demanding stock ownership

‘Forbes India’ editors sacked for demanding stock ownership
Network 18 Group says it’s a case of disgruntled employees

The last thing Forbes India Editor Indrajit Gupta expected to hear was that he was redundant. But that is what he was told by two people from the editorial and management of the Network18 group on May 27 when they offered him a severance plan which he refused to accept without having a discussion with his lawyers. But that request was summarily rejected, and when Mr. Gupta refused to resign, he was dismissed without assigning any reasons.

Mr. Gupta told The Hindu on Saturday that after him, Managing Editor Charles Assisi was forced to quit and the next day two others, Executive Editor Shishir Prasad and Director (Photography) Dinesh Krishnan met with the same fate. Mr. Krishnan and Mr. Prasad were told to sign letters absolving the company of all its dues in the form of Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) and they would be offered a new value ESOP scheme, the details of which would be made available at a later date. Not willing to accept this opaque arrangement, both Mr. Prasad and Mr. Krishnan were forced to resign.

Mr. Assisi was told that his services would be terminated with immediate effect unless he signed on a pre-drafted resignation letter. Under duress, he was forced to sign on the resignation and full and final settlement letter. All four senior journalists have worked in Forbes since 2008 and have among them experience of more than 40 years. When they joined, their contracts specified fixed ESOPs which the company had underwritten and which they were entitled to after four years. However, after that period when the company showed no signs of paying up collectively an amount of roughly Rs. 2 crore, they took it up with the management. The human resources department followed up with the management for the first four years to no avail.

Mr. Gupta said the ESOPs were an integral part of the compensation plan and the company could not deny that. On May 27, when Mr. Gupta was called in to meet Editor-in-Chief R. Jagannathan and HR head Shampa Kochhar, he didn’t think that he would walk out without a job or a severance package. “It was a humiliating experience after having led the Forbes India team for over five years,” he said.

“This is absolutely unacceptable behaviour and this came as a complete shocker. When we started a conversation on ESOPs, we were told at one point that the Board had annulled it. We asked why we were not informed of it till we raised the issue,” he said.

How can the Board annul ESOPs unilaterally, asked Mr. Gupta. But it was caught out as there was an admission that ESOPs were promised at the time of employment. Since that had not been honoured, Mr. Gupta and the others had asked for monetary compensation in lieu of the ESOPs that would have vested in the four years of employment. On May 24 evening, the management sent them a nine-page document with a new ESOP scheme, which they had to sign by May 26 or it would lapse. Mr. Gupta said the new ESOPS were largely a dud scheme without any real value vested in them.

“We simply asked for commitments in our appointment letter made to us by the company to be honoured,” he pointed out. The termination move was arbitrary and high-handed, he added. Letters by the journalists to the company have gone unanswered and now the four are exploring legal options.

The Press Club, Mumbai, condemning the incident, said, “The method of ejecting them from the company was nothing short of shameful. Journalists are not only messengers of news and information, but are the collective voice of civil society. They have a special place in our democratic polity, especially in the current times of stress and confusion. Surely, this team of editors who has served Forbes India since 2008 deserved better.”

The statement added, “We don’t rule out changes in business plan the Forbes management may have wanted to make; but there is the way of discourse and negotiation. Editors with 15-25 years of experience cannot be forced out with a gun on their head. The episode has shocked journalists throughout the country and shown the Network18 Group in bad light. We will be writing to Mr. Mukesh Ambani, who has a special position of influence in the Media Group, as well as to Network18 Group’s chairman Raghav Bahl, to appeal to them to reverse this decision and to enter into discussion with the editors so that an amicable solution is found.”

In March, Network 18 group had appointed Mr. Jagannathan Editor-in-Chief of Print and Web publications which included Forbes India.

Ajay Chacko, chief operating officer, Network 18 group, told The Hindu on the phone that this story of ESOPs not being paid was circulated by people who were against the restructuring. For five years, no one talked about ESOPs. There was no question of not giving it to them. “All of this started popping up after the restructuring and integration of First Post and Forbes India and Mr. Jagannathan taking over as Editor-in-Chief. He is the head of the combined newsroom.”

Terming the allegations mudslinging, Mr. Chacko said three of the employees took their money and went home, only one of them (Mr. Gupta) did not. “I don’t understand the question of being unfair. I think it’s a case of disgruntled employees who didn’t take the restructuring well,” Mr. Chacko pointed out.

He said that if they want, they could take recourse to legal action. No one denied them ESOPs. “I am surprised at all these allegations. It’s primarily a case of an unhappy marriage. What is the point of all this? These are senior journalists, they have worked with Mr. Jagannathan in the past. They chose to leave,” he said.
- The Hindu

Magnitude 5.2 earthquake strikes off Philippines

Magnitude 5.2 earthquake strikes off Philippines
The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude 5.2 earthquake has struck off the eastern Philippines.

The U.S.G.S. reported that the quake hit at 4.33 a.m. local time on Sunday (2.03 a.m. IST) at a depth of 8.5 km. Its epicentre was about 120 km northeast of San Isidro.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage.
- The Hindu

13 dead as refugee boat sinks in Indian Ocean

13 dead as refugee boat sinks in Indian Ocean
 The bodies of 13 refugees were recovered and about 40 people were missing after an Indonesian fishing boat sank in the Indian Ocean near Australia’s Christmas Island territory, officials said on Sunday.

Around 55 passengers were estimated to be aboard the boat that went down 120 kilometres north-west of Christmas Island, the destination for the mostly Middle Eastern refugees hoping to make new lives in Australia.

A patrol plane spotted the boat on Wednesday and made an estimation of the number on board. At the time, the wooden vessel was stationary and not apparently in difficulties. No distress call was received.

Three aircraft were searching for survivors on Sunday, Customs and Border Protection said.

“This is another terrible tragedy, another terrible reminder how dangerous these journeys are,” Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare said.

He said a distress call had been received from a different boat near Christmas Island on Saturday and a search was on to find it.
- The Hindu

Online swindling on rise in Kuwait: Official

Online swindling on rise in Kuwait: Official
KUWAIT: Acting General Director for Criminal Detectives Administration Brig Mahmoud Al-Tabbakh has stated that acts of online swindling have increased, so all individuals and organizations should take steps to prevent falling into the traps of those who use different websites on the internet to cheat people. He said: “While security officials are doing their best to deal with security and traffic problems in order to reduce crimes, accidents and violations, the phenomenon of online swindling has started affecting the economy. Such crimes are a new burden for all security offices worldwide.

Therefore, necessary legislations and laws should be put in place. Training in information technology should be provided to make security officials ready to deal with such crimes. We need specialists to deal with such new kinds of crimes, which claim millions of victims annually around the world.

Billions of dollars are lost in such crimes. It is difficult to deal with such crimes, because of the great advancements in the use of internet. Therefore, some misuse this technology and form specialized gangs in order to catch victims by convincing them of quick and easy wealth.” Al-Tabbakh noted that electronic swindling started in the 80s, when swindlers started sending messages to people all over the world to invest in the oil sector. The phenomenon spread swiftly around the world after that.
- Kuwait Times

Expat deportations will continue: Traffic chief – 11,800 deported in two-and-a-half months

Expat deportations will continue: Traffic chief – 11,800 deported in two-and-a-half months
KUWAIT: Major General Abdulfattah Al-Ali’s name has become synonymous with extensive traffic campaigns, aimed at enforcing the law at all costs, including implementation of mass deportations. The senior Interior Ministry official, who takes pride in deporting 11,800 people and impounding 3,000 vehicles during his tenure as head of the Ahmadi Security Department over the past two and a half years, told a local daily that deporting expatriates for serious violations will continue without an end date. “Administrative deportation of violating expatriates is not going to stop, especially of those carrying passengers illegally, in which case a person would be in violation of traffic and labor regulations,” Maj Gen Al-Ali, the Interior Ministry’s Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs, told Al-Rai on Friday.

He added that any ticket can be disputed “by a request to refer the case for traffic department investigations”. In the series of crackdowns that started late April, at least 2,000 traffic violations were registered, including 1,000 tickets issued directly on the street, while thousands of people were reportedly deported. Moreover, Maj Gen Al-Ali revealed that the ministry collected KD4 million, out of the KD24 million owed in traffic fines, during the same period. In that regard, the senior official pointed out that only KD8 million worth of fines are registered against individuals, while the rest are against companies and state departments. Out of the KD8 million, KD6 million is registered against expatriates, Maj Gen Al-Ali said. “Cases are soon to be filed with the traffic court in order to issue travel ban orders against people with more than KD80 in fines owed to the ministry,” he added.

Al-Rai published Maj Gen Al-Ali’s statement yesterday, along with a transcript of an interview with Al- Watan TV during which he defended the ongoing campaigns. “Our procedures are necessary to save lives, with average statistics indicating that 450 people are killed and 3,000 are injured annually due to traffic accidents,” he explained. During the interview, Maj Gen Al-Ali insisted that all drivers are equal when it comes to implementation of the law. “There have been doctors among the people deported, including a surgeon caught driving without a license for three years,” he said, before confirming news reports that he had taken a decision to impound a vehicle owned by Minister of Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammad Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah on grounds of repeated violations committed by his personal driver. Meanwhile, the senior official urged any person who had obtained a license through illegal means to dispose of it “because once caught, they are going to be charged with forgery”. —Al-Rai, Al-Watan
- Kuwait Times

Mobile Line Transfer System To Be Launched In Mid-June: MoC

KUWAIT : The Undersecretary of Ministry of Communications Humaid Al-Qattan announced that an orientation campaign regarding the regulations and methods for transferring mobile lines among mobile phone service providers without changing the numbers will be launched in mid-June, reports Al-Seyassah daily.
He revealed that the Minister of Communications and State Minister for Housing Affairs Eng. Salem Al-Utheina has issued a decision to set up a joint committee involving the ministry and Al-Wataniya Technological Projects Company, explaining that the committee will handle the extensive media campaign covering all media agencies in order to enlighten the public about the plans and methods followed for this service.

Al-Qattan indicated that the service is not only unique with flexible selection of service providers but is also a tool to encourage competition among the service providers in order to prevent monopoly, stressing that this system will improve other related services in the local market.
He further explained that the subscribers must use up the credit in their mobile phones before they transfer to another service provider, as their credit will become zero with the completion of the transfer.
He added that the transfer from one service provider to another can take place only after 90 days, indicating that the subscribers must pay all outstanding bills prior to the transfer.

Meanwhile, a decision has been issued by the security authorities to ban the issuing, renewing or transferring of commercial licenses under the category of ‘Selling Mobile Phones’ without first checking with the State Security System, reports Alam Alyawm daily quoting security sources.
They explained that the owners of such commercial licenses have to sign a pledge to shoulder the responsibility of selling mobile lines and must submit related data on a monthly basis to the concerned security authorities.
They pointed out that all shops selling mobile phones and mobile lines have been provided with the fax number of the Criminal Investigation Department in order for them to send the required data within a month.
They added that strict penalties will be taken against any shop that violates such instructions.

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Tangled in red tape, India's submarine fleet sinking

NEW DELHI: The navy's desperate attempts to rescue its sinking underwater combat arm have been dealt a double whammy. First, the ongoing project to construct six Scorpene submarines has been delayed by another 14-18 months, with the first vessel now slated to roll out of Mazagon Dock Limited(MDL) by November 2016 at the earliest.

More worryingly, the new project to construct six advanced stealth submarines, armed with both land-attack missile capabilities and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance, is still stuck in political apathy and bureaucratic red-tape. It has already been examined by three committees after being granted "acceptance of necessity" in November 2007.

The finance ministry has now again returned the file for the over Rs 50,000-crore project, code-named Project-75India, to the defence ministry for clarifications.

"The draft Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) note for P-75I is simply being tossed around with no resolution in sight. The global tender or RFP (request for proposal) for it can be issued only after the CCS approves the file," said a source.

Even if the P-75I tender is floated today, it will take at least three years to ink the contract with the selected foreign collaborator, and another seven to eight years after that for the first submarine to be built.

With the over Rs 23,000 crore Scorpene (P-75) project already running four years behind the original 2012-17 induction schedule, alarms bells are now ringing. The navy is making do with just 14 aging conventional diesel-electric submarines — 10 Russian Kilo-class and four German HDW ones — which are to be progressively retired in the coming years despite life-extension refits. China and Pakistan, meanwhile, are adding muscle to their underwater combat fleets.

Way back in 1999, the CCS approved a 30-year submarine-building plan, which envisaged induction of 12 new submarines by 2012, followed by another dozen by 2030. But the government's inability to plan and take decisions means the navy is yet to get a single submarine 14 years later.

P-75I is embroiled in a debate over the "selection of Indian shipyards" and the "indigenization level to be achieved". While two submarines are to be imported, four will be constructed in India.

The navy wants private shipyards to be involved in the project to save time since MDL is overburdened with orders. But the MoD's defence production department has insisted that three will be built at MDL in Mumbai and one at Hindustan Shipyard in Visakhapatnam.

The Scorpene project, with contracts being inked with French firms in October 2005 has been grossly mismanaged, with huge time and cost overruns. The deal for the 'MDL procured material packages', including sensors, propulsion and the likes, with the French firms was signed only last December. The order for heavy-weight torpedoes to arm the submarines is also yet to be placed.

Projections show only five to six of the present 14 Indian submarines will be fully operational by 2020. Even with a few Scorpenes by then, India will remain far short of the minimum 18 conventional submarines required to deter Pakistan and China.
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Govt Team To Find Solutions To Violations

KUWAIT CITY  : A government team is in charge of finding appropriate solutions to the recurrent fiscal and administrative violations observed by the State Audit Bureau as regards expenditures in the ministries, government departments, and their affiliated and independent agencies, reports Al-Rai daily.

The bureau presented 19 recommendations and demanded amendment to 18 legislations and government decisions, and also favored the promulgation of 5 new laws in that concern to make a total of 23 laws, the daily explained. 

Meanwhile, the content of the report, as observed within fiscal year 2007/2008 and forwarded to the Budget and Final Accounting Committee lately, included the recommendation that the Finance Ministry should reconcile accounts among the government authorities. The mandate calls for reducing the rate of variation orders and huge project values, the daily noted. 

Also, the report presses for modification of many laws, including the proposed amendment to law number 30/1965 to establish the State Audit Bureau. The step is necessary to increase the rate of contracts required before the approval of the bureau, while the other regulation under review is law number 37/1964 of public tenders.

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US spy agency actively monitoring messages, emails in India: Report

NEW DELHI: A report in a UK newspaper claims that India is among the top five countries most extensively monitored by the National Security Agency (NSA), a US government agency tasked with foreign surveillance.

The Guardian reported on Sunday that in March this year, the NSA recorded 6.3 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks in India, placing it fifth on the list of most extensively monitored countries. Iran topped the list with 14 billion pieces of intelligence collected from it. Pakistan was third with 13.5 billion, Jordan was third with 12.7 billion and Egypt was fourth with 7.6 billion.

"In March 2013 the agency collected 97 billion pieces of intelligence from computer networks worldwide," reported the newspaper.

It added, "NSA has developed a powerful tool for recording and analysing where its intelligence comes from... (the paper) has acquired top-secret documents about the NSA datamining tool, called Boundless Informant, that details and even maps by country the voluminous amount of information it collects from computer and telephone networks."

The report is latest in the series of revelations that detail the top-secret surveillance and data monitoring programs run by NSA.

Earlier, reports detailed how NSA was using a programme called PRISM to access data generated by users of nine US-based technology companies. According to a few PowerPoint slides allegedly leaked by an NSA official, nine technology companies - Google, AOL, Apple, Yahoo, Microsoft, Skype, Facebook, YouTube and PalTalk - were providing the US government easy access to user data.

All companies named in the reports have denied being part of anything called PRISM. On Friday Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Larry Page categorically denied giving direct access to user data to US sleuths.

But US president Barack Obama had tacitly acknowledged NSA surveillance programmes aimed at non-US citizens. "You can't have a hundred percent security and also then have a hundred percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we're going to have to make some choices as a society," he told reporters in the US.

On its report on Boundless Informant, the UK newspaper noted that the focus was on meta data instead of actual content of emails or calls. "The focus of the internal NSA tool is on counting and categorizing the records of communications, known as metadata, rather than the content of an email or instant message," it noted.
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47 Caught In Jahra Speed Racing, Drifting; 40 Held In Capital

KUWAIT   Under the instructions of Jahra Security Chief Major General Ibrahim Al-Tarrah, securitymen of Jahra initiated a campaign off Artal Road in Salmi desert area and arrested 47 motorists for excessive speeding and racing. Those arrested also included spectators.

According to security sources, about 65 weapons were confiscated (knives and rods) during the operation, besides 20 vehicles and 4 stolen vehicles.

They added that 16 patrol cars headed to Artal Road, where reckless and stunts drivers normally go to perform their feats and engage in racing. They also confiscated a couple of tires which were to be given as prizes to the winners able to wreck their vehicle tires while ‘’drifting’’.

Major General Al-Tarrah declared the security campaign will continue over an unspecified period to arrest illegal residents, marginal workers, and suspects wanted by law. He affirmed that HE the First Deputy Premier, Minister of Interior Sheikh Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is keen on fortifying cooperation and communication with all embassies keen on their citizens’ interests, indicating they will be acquainted of the legal security procedures taken by the ministry in the current period.

He clarified the ministry continuously coordinates with all governmental and non-governmental institutions having relations with those arrested in recent campaigns to protect their rights. He added the suspects wanted for criminal, financial or administrative offenses will not be deported until the courts have issued their final verdicts.

Meanwhile, Major General Al-Tarrah stated that the humanitarian aspect isn’t neglected during the arrest of violators, which ensures the delivery of justice without breach of laws to promote security. He called on all expatriates to respect the law; stressing violators will face the rigors of law by defying the rules and regulations here, in addition to deportation.

He pointed out that those lenient in reporting law violators will put themselves in trouble, urging residents to cooperate with the security forces during campaigns. He also said whoever protects a law violator will be considered an accomplice, and such people must turn themselves in immediately to avoid tougher punishments.

On the efforts of Jahra Security Directorate, Major General Al-Tarrah declared that 3,725 law violators were arrested from Jan 1 to Jan 4, 2013, and they included individuals wanted for criminal offenses, residence violations, robbery, obstruction of traffic, and other acts considered as violation of law.

Police chief attacked: The Head of Sulaibiya Police Station and three other securitymen including an officer of rank ‘Lieutenant’ sustained injuries when two youths and a Kuwaiti man attacked them during the elections of Andalus and Riqqa Cooperative Society in Nahda area.
The three suspects were arrested and referred to the concerned authorities. The injured securitymen registered a case against the three suspects, charging them with the crime of ‘attacking securitymen on duty’.

Meanwhile, a disabled Kuwaiti citizen filed a case against the Head of Sulaibiya Police Station and two other securitymen, accusing them of abusing and assaulting him.
According to security sources, the citizen informed securitymen that the Head of Sulaibiya Police Station told him, “Handicapped boy, you are not supposed to be here”. When he confronted the officer, the latter and two other securitymen insulted him and hit him.
Investigations are ongoing to determine the truth behind the incident.

40 held in Capital: Capital securitymen launched security campaigns in various locations within the Capital Governorate during which they arrested 40 expatriates who violated the residency law.
They were referred to the concerned authorities for necessary legal action against them.


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Enslaved in Saudi Arabia, 200 Indians cry for help

CHENNAI: Nearly 200 skilled and unskilled labourers from Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradeshare stranded in Saudi Arabia after theirBangladeshi employer cheated them. The workers said they were promised jobs in a plastic factory, but were made to clean toilets.

Sources at the Indian mission in Saudi Arabia said the Indians travelled to Dammam after paying Rs 90,000 to Rs 150,000 each to a Mumbai-based labour agent called Fahad Enterprises. The workers have appealed to the government of India for help to return home.

"I have asked Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hamid Ali Rao to look into this and get back to me. Despite so many awareness campaigns and advertisements asking our people to go abroad only through proper channels, many of them continue to go undocumented. This has become a big problem," minister for overseas Indian affairs Vayalar Ravi told TOI on Saturday.

The duped Indians were recruited for a plastic factory and ended up in a manpower supplying company managed by two Bangladeshis. Speaking to TOI from the Eastern Province in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, the men said that they had lodged a complaint with Indian diplomats in Dammam. The workers said that the recruitment agent in Mumbai had promised them jobs as skilled workers in Al-Babtain Plastic Factory in Dammam.

A worker, who didn't want to be named fearing victimization, told TOI he and the others have not been paid since they reached Saudi Arabia two months ago. "Please help us. All we want now is to get back home and be with our families. These two months have been a nightmare for us, with no food or roof over our heads," he said. The workers said they were not given food whenever they refused to clean toilets.

The workers said they had invested their life's savings to go to Saudi Arabia and never imagined they would end up as beggars. A number of them have borrowed money from private lenders on huge interest rates; one pledged gold meant for his sister's wedding. Indian Embassy officials in Riyadh were not available for comment.
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Oasis Team marks launch of ‘Kuwait Green Wall Project’ – Project aims to plant 315,000 trees along borders

KUWAIT: On the occasion of the United Nations’ mandated World Environment Day on June 5, the Kuwait Oasis Team of the Environmental Voluntary Foundation celebrated the launch of the ‘Kuwait Green Wall’ Project at the Kuwait Journalists’ Association office premises on Wednesday. Khaled Al-Kulaib, Head of the Kuwait Oasis Team, made a presentation about the project including its conception, beginning, the achievements, future plan, and a documentary about the Kuwait Green Wall, which was produced by the sponsors of the project. “Our message is to plant trees in the desert, especially since the environment was damaged by many factors such as the military operations, civilization, and the annual activity of camping in the desert,” said Khaled Al-Kulaib during the ceremony.

The project aims to plant 315,000 trees along the borders of Kuwait along a 420 km stretch within the next ten years. “We will plant three rows of trees around the Kuwaiti borders. We have received all official approvals for this project which is to be executed in the next ten years. Through the Kuwait Green Wall Project, we aim to educate the society about the importance of trees. We also aim to expand the operations beyond Kuwait, and to set the standard for NGO operations. It is a program with great ambitions,” he noted.

This program will have an impact on many fronts. “The program will improve the air quality, as the oxygen will increase, and we will measure how much difference each tree makes. In addition, it will absorb carbon dioxide. It will also affect the microclimate and will produce more moisture and rain, a fact that was proved by the rain fall this year in May, not a common factor in Kuwait. Furthermore, the project will also contribute towards biodiversity preservation,” he explained.

The program was very well executed and planned. “Only indigenous trees have been sourced. We will also be using the utility boxes to conserve water as per a Dutch technology to save water. We are relying on public’s support to fuel our cause, so people can support us by spreading word about this program. Similarly, the students and their parents, or their neighbors can extend support morally or materially,” Al-Kulaib pointed out. People can contact through Twitter and Instagram: @Kuwaitoasis. Or on our website:

This celebration is part of showing our gratitude towards all those who have supported the project to realize and execute this national environmental project. As a mark of appreciation, the sponsors of this project were awarded at the end of the event.

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Finally, work begins on Kochi Metro

Finally, work begins on Kochi Metro
Kochi:Construction work on the Rs 5000 crore Kochi Metro project began today with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy inaugurating the piling work at a funcion here. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation
stone for the project on September 13 last year. Chandy waved a green flag at the function at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium as simultaneously, the piling work commenced at nearby Edapally. The Chief Minister said this was a 'proud moment' for the state which had waited for years for its dream to become a reality. Urging everyone to pledge support for the project to
ensure its completion within the stipulated time frame, Chandy said Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) Principal Advisor, E Sreedharan had promised that the project would become a reality in 1095 days. But had also wanted that the metro work should not be affected even a single day. The 25-km Kochi Metro route, which will have 22 stations from Aluva to Petta, is expected to be completed in about three years time.

The Chief Minister said there have been demands from various quarters for the extension of the metro to the IT hub at Kakkanad, Tripunithura, Nedumbassery airport-Angamally and Mattancherry. Chandy said the government has decided to ask the Kochi Metro to study the demands and submit a report in six months on the extension after which the Centre's consent would be taken to go ahead with it, he said. Consultancy agreement with the DMRC would be signed within a week on the Rs 5000 crore Thiruvananthapuram-Kozhikode Monorail project. By August this year, the Mono rail work will commence, he said.

The metro project received the centre's sanction in July last year and the Union and Kerala government are equity
partners in the project, executing agency of which is the DMRC. The centre's share is Rs 1002.23 crore (about 19.3 per
cent of total project cost while the state's share is Rs 2009.56 crore (about Rs 38.7 per cent) while loan from funding agencies is Rs 2170 crore (about 42 per cent).Urban Development Secretary, Sudheer Krishna, who is also the DMRC and Kochi Metro chairman, said Metro rail and Mono rail are the key drivers of growth and 'pied piper' of development. Efforts would also be made to integrate the Kochi metro with the city's waterways, he said. Kochi city could face several inconveniences during the construction work, he said, adding Kochi Metro Rail LTD (KMRL) would take steps to minimise the discomfort.

KMRL Managing Director Elias George presented the project report. KMRL is also looking at aid from the Japan International Cooperation agency and French financial agency Agence Francaise de Development (AFD). Union Minister, K V Thomas, state ministers-- P K Kunhalikutty, K M Mani, Aryadan Mohammed were among those present at the function. Former Supreme Court Judge V R Krishna Iyer was also present. PTI

Mobile helpline for Indians in Saudi Arabia

Mobile helpline for Indians in Saudi Arabia
Dubai: India will start mobile helpline counters in Saudi Arabia from Saturday to provide assistance to its citizens living in the Kingdom.

A team of Arabic-speaking officials and volunteers led by a diplomatic officer from the Embassy will station themselves at the Shumeshi Tarheel and Riyadh International Airport 24x7 to provide help, according to the Indian embassy in Riyadh.

This is in addition to the 24x7 helpline currently available at the Indian mission. The Embassy said it has completed the verification of all EC (Emergency Certificate) applications directly submitted at the Chancery and collected through other collection centres till Thursday numbering over 50,000 applicants.

"By June 20 all ECs submitted at the Embassy will be distributed for which dates have been conveyed to the applicants. Starting June 8, new EC application collection and distribution counters will operate from 8.00 am to 04.00 pm, except on Fridays.

There would be no public counters after 04.00 pm. The last date of collection of new EC applications is June 20," the Embassy said. A meeting of the volunteers who submitted EC applications at the Embassy has been convened on June 7 to convey the mode of verification and delivery.

ECs are being issued free of cost. The Embassy of India has also opened special Tanazul services counter at the Embassy premises to assist those Indian nationals eligible to change their jobs to new companies, but unable to get their passports from their original sponsors.

This is to provide guidance on fulfilling the Tanazul requirements. The Embassy had earlier announced that all those who wish to obtain a passport for Tanazul should submit their passport applications under renewal category and will be issued new passports on a priority basis.

These applicants will be issued passports on a priority basis to complete the Tanazul process. There are over two million Indian expatriates in Saudi Arabia..
-Manorama Online

Sixth IDSFFK opens with Green Oscar winners

Sixth IDSFFK opens with Green Oscar winners
Thiruvananthapuram: After the resounding success of its 5th edition, the sixth of the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) organized by the Chalachithra Academy is all set to screen 66 films in the competition section in six categories -  Short Documentary, Long Documentary, Animation, Campus Film, Music Video and Short Fiction.  

There are 200 plus films selected by jury from 800 plus entries in different sections including Competition, Showcase and International Films to be screened at three venues of the festival - Kairali, Nila and Sree theatres of K F D C for five days from June 7th.  

Three time Green Oscar winner, Mike Pandey will be the chief guest during the inaugural ceremony on Friday. Mike Pandey is the first Asian who won Green Oscar and his five award winning films including ‘Last Migration' and ‘Broken Wings and Vanishing Vultures ‘will be screened  at the festival.    

The package of this festival offers finest visual experience and an interaction with renowned film personalities. Noel Burch, the famous film critic, theoretician and filmmaker, is the main attraction of this festival. His seven films including ‘The Forgotten Space' will be a treat for the delegates.

‘Lights on Adoor Gopalakrshnan' a documentary on the life and works of the veteran Malayalam filmmaker directed by Prasanna Ramaswami, ‘Karunakaran-The Artist’, directed by T.V. Chandran, Santhosh Sivan’s ‘Oru Kuttanadan Karshakan’ and ‘Fabricated' by K.P Sasi are a few attractions from Malayalam.

Noted women's rights activist and film-maker Deepa Dhanraj’s package of seven women centric films is yet another highlight of the IDSFFK in the ‘Masters in Focus Section.’

The jury panel for competition consists of Italian film critic and journalist Giona Nazarro, writer and filmmaker Kesang Tseten from Nepal, professional screen writer Anjum Rajabali from Mumbai, renowned Tamil film director Vetrimaran, production designer Prakash Moorthy and Malayalam documentary filmmaker M.R Rajan.
-Manorama Online

‘Kundra placed bets on Royals, other teams’

‘Kundra placed bets on Royals, other teams’

Rajasthan Royals team owner Raj Kundra confessed to the police of having placed bets on his own IPL team through friend-cum-bookie and business partner Umesh Goenka, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar said on Thursday. In the same breath, the Commissioner also said that any such disclosure to the police is not admissible as evidence before court.

“We cannot invoke provisions pertaining to betting as an offence against them at this stage, as it would require supporting evidence such as any recovery. However, since it is an ongoing investigation based on their statements and disclosures by Rajasthan Royals cricketer Siddharth Trivedi, the passports of both Mr. Kundra (a British citizen) and his business partner Goenka have been impounded to ensure that they are available to join the probe as and when found necessary,” said Mr. Kumar to The Hindu.

Siddharth Trivedi, whose statement was recorded a few days ago under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (making it admissible in evidence), has been made a prosecution witness in the spot-fixing case.

At a press briefing later on Thursday, a senior Special Cell officer said Mr. Kundra had through his business partner placed bets to the tune of nearly Rs. 1 crore during the past three years and claimed to have incurred huge losses. “He has disclosed that besides his own, he placed bets on other teams as well.”

“In his statement, which has also been recorded under Section 164 Cr.PC., Mr. Goenka has made a reference to Mr. Kundra’s wife Shilpa Shetty, claiming that he had once placed a bet on her behalf. Whether she was in the know or not has to be ascertained. Anyway, we do not deem it necessary to examine her in the near future as our focus is on the spot-fixing case,” he said.

Ms. Shetty has denied the charges against her and her husband. The police officer said Siddharth Trivedi had in his statement disclosed that Mr. Goenka was into betting and had also approached him once seeking information about the cricket pitch in Ahmedabad, the RR team formations and also on the winning probability of the two teams in question. “During questioning, Mr. Goenka disclosed that he was into betting for the past six years and had been placing bets on IPL cricket matches, also on behalf of Mr. Kundra, through bookies for the past three years,” said the officer, adding that Mr. Goenka corroborated the disclosures made by Trivedi as regards his activities.

“Based on his statement, we summoned Mr. Goenka for questioning during which he disclosed that he placed bets on behalf of Mr. Kundra,” said the officer.
-The Hindu