Archive | July, 2010

UN hails entry into force of global pact banning cluster munitions

Posted on 31 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Sunday 1 August, 2010.

United Nations officials have expressed their delight at Sunday’s entry into force of the international convention banning the manufacture, use and stockpiling of cluster munitions, calling it a “major advance for the global disarmament and humanitarian agendas.”

Billions of these weapons – which are considered particularly dangerous, despite their lack of precision – are believed to exist around the world and many have been used in recent conflicts, killing or maiming countless civilians.

Thirty ratifications were needed to make the pact, which prohibits explosive remnants of war known either as cluster munitions or unexploded ordnance (UXO), a part of international law. That milestone was reached in February when Burkina Faso and Moldova both submitted their instruments of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions at UN Headquarters in New York.

The convention, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement on Friday, “will help us to counter the widespread insecurity and suffering caused by these terrible weapons, particularly among civilians and children.”

He is particularly pleased, the statement continued, that the pact will enter into force on 1 August, just over two years after it was adopted by 107 States in Dublin, Ireland.

“This highlights not only the world’s collective revulsion at these abhorrent weapons, but also the power of collaboration among governments, civil society and the United Nations to change attitudes and policies on a threat faced by all mankind,” the Secretary-General emphasized.

The convention – negotiated by States that represent past and current producers, stockpilers and victims of cluster munitions – establishes important commitments regarding assistance to victims, clearance of contaminated areas and destruction of stockpiles.

To date, 37 countries have ratified the pact, which also has 107 signatures.

First used in the Second World War, cluster munitions contain dozens of smaller explosives designed to disperse over an area the size of several football fields, but often fail to detonate upon impact, creating large de facto minefields.

The failure rate makes these weapons particularly dangerous for civilians, who continue to be maimed or killed for years after conflicts end. Some 98 per cent of victims are civilians and cluster bombs have claimed over 10,000 civilian lives, 40 per cent of whom are children.

Recovery from conflict is also hampered because the munitions place roads and lands off-limits to farmers and aid workers.

The pact represents “a major advance for the global disarmament and humanitarian agendas,” Mr. Ban noted in his statement, a theme echoed by Daniël Prins, chief of the conventional arms branch of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA).

“This is a great step forward – here we have a treaty at the nexus of disarmament and humanitarian efforts,” Mr. Prins said in an interview with the UN News Centre.

He noted that the convention is not merely symbolic, but contains many practical measures, such as requiring States to provide assistance to victims, engage in clearance operations and conduct awareness campaigns so that children do not inadvertently set off explosions.

The first meeting of States parties to the convention will be held this November in Laos, which Mr. Ban said is a country “that has suffered tremendously from the impact of cluster munitions.”

Clearance operations are still ongoing in the South-East Asian nation more than 30 years after conflict left 75 million unexploded cluster bomblets across the country.

Mr. Ban called on all Member States to take part in the November meeting to express their support for the convention, while also urging those nations which have yet to accede to the pact “to do so without delay.”

Cluster munitions have been used in conflicts around the world in recent years, including in the Middle East, South-Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, the Horn of Africa and Central Africa.

The UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has been coordinating the removal of cluster munitions in many countries, including Cambodia, Chad, Laos, Lebanon, Tajikistan and Zambia.

Max Kerley, the Director of UNMAS, said he hoped the convention will now gather the kind of support enjoyed by the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty and receive more

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Let’s call for a nationwide boycott of Commonwealth Games fraud

Posted on 31 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Sunday 1 August, 2010.

Skeletons are tumbling every hour out of the cupboard of what should now aptly be called ‘CWG scam’ worth thousands of crores of rupees. This CWG scam, whose outrageous costs and dimensions are still revealing themselves, has been a fraud on Indian democracy and citizens.
A detailed report by Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), an NGO, on the financial, Constitutional and human/social costs of organizing Commonwealth Games has revealed the depths of immorality that those holding the levers of the Indian State can stoop to.
The report ( reveals how the lumpen political and bureaucratic class has been looting the public exchequer, destroying the habitation of the disadvantaged communities, and exploiting lakhs of labourers who have toiled day and night in construction activities linked to CWG.
Nobody should need any more proof that CWG has nothing to do with raising the image of this country. The CWG, even before the games have begun, has shown that it’s about an immoral and evil network of our own elected and unelected officials looting us in the name of national pride and honour.
What we urgently need to do now is to call for a nationwide boycott of CWG — an absolute rejection of the fraudsters who are trying to destroy every bit of goodness in our society and nation in the name of illusory images of the so called ‘brand India’.
Nothing will ever redeem India and its citizens of this crying shame called CWG if we do not collectively and visibly reject this false show before it has begun.
Kindly spread the message and also see if you and your organization can take the initiative to call upon all citizens of India to take the pledge (on an appointed day) to boycott the Commonwealth Games.
I am certain that every sensible citizen will not hesitate for a second to take this pledge.
Warm regards,
Kapil Bajaj
Assistant Editor
Governance Now
Sri Adhikari Brothers Assets Holding Pvt. Ltd.
24A, Mindmill Corporate Tower,
Film City, Sector 16A, Noida 201301
Telephone: 0120-3920555
Mobile: 9811695609
PS. Below is a comment that I wrote on CWG fraud for Governance Now magazine.
Making a show of ourselves: IPL, CWG, and (possibly) Olympics

If IPL scam, by allowing some of our politicians to multiply their crores and get their daughters employed in lucrative jobs, could work up prolonged media frenzy, furore in parliament, and resignation of a minister, Commonwealth Games deserve a bigger ‘honour,’ thanks largely to an increasing volume of information about the sporting extravaganza now available in public domain.
By a rough estimate, based on some ministerial utterances, the central and Delhi governments together have spent over Rs 33,000 crore so far on building stadiums and other infrastructure in the name of Commonwealth Games (CWG). The actual public expenditure is rising every day and is still unascertainable. There is obviously no such thing as a ‘budget’ for CWG; it’s a blank cheque.
Delhi’s budget for the current financial year allocates Rs 4,244 crore, or 38 per cent of the total plan outlay, to the transport sector, mostly subserving the CWG project, while health and education together get Rs 2365 crore or 21 per cent.
The Games have been used to justify hikes in taxes, tariffs, and other items that add to the cost of living in Delhi.
In bidding for CWG, Indian Olympic Association (IOC) had proposed Rs 150 crore of expenditure on stadiums, which already has shot up to at least Rs 3,390 crore, a ‘healthy’ growth of 2,160 per cent, according to a study done by Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), an NGO.
Going by the experience of Asian Games 1982, there is no guarantee that our poor sports-persons will ever get to use these stadiums.
HLRN report also says that Rs 265 crore allocated for the scheduled caste sub plan (special component plan) for Delhi has apparently been diverted to the CWG for the year 2009-2010.
The targeted revenue from the Games, on the other hand, is Rs 1,780 crore, which, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), is “ambitious”, says the same report, emphasizing, in fact, that no cost-benefit study of the CWG project was ever undertaken.
Aside from the financial extravagance, the CWG project also cocks a snook at to the democratic norms, constitutional and statutory requirements.
“India’s decision to bid for the Games was neither transparent nor democratic. It was not discussed in Parliament; neither was there any public debate, consultation or opinion poll among the residents of Delhi,” says the HLRN report.
A committee appointed by Delhi high court confirmed an investigation that found that lakhs of construction workers engaged in CWG projects were not even paid minimum wages, let alone provided with other mandatory facilities; dozens of them died in unhygienic and exploitative living and working conditions.
Constitution, law, and international conventions were violated in forcibly evicting thousands of families from slums to make way for CWG projects or just to carry out “beautification” of the city.
Since 2007, over 7,450 “beggars” have been rounded up in a bid to “clean up” the city; they are being tried summarily in mobile courts and locked up.
Corruption, bungling and ineptitude in project execution come on top of that.
The CAG, for example, has castigated Delhi Development Authority (DDA), which works under union urban development ministry, for providing a “bailout package” of Rs 766.89 crore to a private builder engaged in construction of the Games village.
Large-scale construction activity has played havoc with planning norms and the environment, not to mention the inconvenience caused to the public over several years.
Many of the projects being executed in the name of CWG will remain incomplete through the duration of the sporting event.
The extortionately costly CWG will indeed be a “world-class show” in a country that is home to 27 per cent of the world’s hungry people with one of the largest populations of malnourished children.
Meanwhile, Sheila Dikshit, the chief minister of Delhi, has had the brazenness to boast that the city is “ready” to bid for and host Olympics!
Considering all these facts, shouldn’t the undemocratic and extortionate CWG misadventure deserve to be a bigger cause célèbre than the IPL scandal? Is it not hypocritical of the media not to be making the kind of hue and cry that we saw in revelations of the gory details of the IPL scandal?
Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the ‘Lalit Modis’ of CWG-gate are mostly hidden among our own elected governments.
Getting them to face the law or even shaming them will have to be a part of larger struggle for democratic rights and governance reforms.

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Did not have contract with CWG OC, admits UK firm

Posted on 31 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Sunday 1 August, 2010.

New Delhi,  (PTI) The UK-based company at the center of a corruption row which has rocked the upcoming Delhi Commonwealth Games today admitted that it did not have a contract with the event’s organisers but denied allegations of irregular financial transactions with them.

A M Films, the firm which has received lakhs of pounds for extending its “services” for the Queen’s Baton Relay’s London leg, however, denied allegations that the deal with the CWG Organising Committee was questionable.

“No illegal or irregular financial transactions have taken place between AM Films and the Commonwealth Games organising committee,” the company’s owner Ashish Patel said.

“The money was transferred in lieu of services obtained during the Queen’s Baton Relay function in London in October last year and we have all the details of the deal which I can produce if needed,” he added.

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Situation in J-K not yet normal, says Chidambaram

Posted on 30 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Saturday 31 July, 2010.

New Delhi,  (PTI) Acknowledging that situation in Jammu and Kashmir is “not yet” normal, the Indian government Friday made it clear that it was committed to hold quiet dialogue with all shades of opinion in the state and said “we are willing to hold talks with our own people.”

Briefing reporters here after presenting his report card for the month of July, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram said the stand of the Government was clear. “From the day one I have favoured a quiet dialogue with all sections of opinion, all groups, all political parties.”

He was replying to a question whether the Centre was willing to hold talks with separatists groups including separatist Hurriyat Conference in the north Indian state.

“I continue to meet leaders of different groups and political parties,” he said but admitted that “there has been some interruption in the process…

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Corruption in contracts awarded for theCommonwealth games

Posted on 30 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Saturday 31 July, 2010.

NEW DELHI: The Commonwealth Games edifice is crumbling under thickening  suspicions of corruption and inefficiency, with the CVC referring one of the several cases of corruption bedeviling the event to the CBI.

The case handed over to the CBI is breathtaking in terms of brazenness: the successful bidder who got the contract after quoting the lowest amount was allegedly allowed to tamper with figures post-auction so that he could rake in more money than he had initially hoped for. But this is not the only one that may be headed the CBI’s way.

As more evidence surfaces of use of sub-standard material, rigging of bids, goldplating and sanctioning of projects which were not needed at all and favouritism in selection of successful contractors, the investigating agencies
are going to have their hands full.

The number of works under the CVC scanner has now risen to 16 with revenue implication of more than Rs 2,500 crore. Chances of fresh additions to the ”work load” are rated high.

The vigilance body has already confirmed the widely held suspicion: that of an officer-engineer-contractor nexus which has minted money by delaying the award of contracts till the last minute so that an alibi could be found to jack
up cost and assign the work to “favourites”.

Almost half of the 16 projects probed by the CVC relate to stadium upgradation and other sports infrastructure, the rest being construction of flyovers, road widening and beautification works.

The apex anti-corruption institution has sought criminal prosecution against MCD officials allegedly involved in tampering with a bid document relating to the upgradation of street lighting on roads in Delhi. According to the CVC
probe, the bid papers were tampered with and changes were made in the bidding amount taking it closer to the nearest rival so that profit margins could be jacked up.

The probe revealed the private bidder, allegedly in collusion with MCD officials, tampered “either by cutting or overwriting” in the price quoted in the bid with the new amount. The total contract awarded to this bidder was
to the tune of Rs 35 crore and the changes made by him accrued him a benefit of over Rs 3.6 crore. The CVC probe has found that almost all the organisations executing works for the Commonwealth Games — PWD, MCD, NDMC, CPWD and DDA  have “considered inadmissible factors to jack up costs”. Higher costs have been justified by citing “urgent and emergent circumstances”.

The CVC report says that despite the higher rates, poor site management, delays and quality compromises have been observed in all the projects for which technical examination has been carried out. Items not on the bid papers
were incorporated and accounted for at a higher price in many of the projects.

The report says contractors failed to give any “logical reasoning for the exorbitant prices” they incorporated in their project costs.

You may be considering why all street corners and footpaths have been dug up. Here is a CVC take on that: “Almost all the agencies have taken up the work of streetscaping, especially kerb stone and footpath tiles, without ascertaining
the need for such upgradation.”

“The main purpose of aesthetics could not be achieved due to poor quality control, lack of supervision and  coordination in executing these works,” the anti-corruption watchdog has said in its findings.

In some of the concrete samples tested for their strength, the CVC technical team observed that 12 samples failed to meet 28 days’ strength test. ”Concrete core samples taken from the already laid slabs failed to meet the requirement of
strength during testing at an independent outside laboratory,” the CVC observed, adding that the cement content in the test checks were found much less than prescribed and claimed to have been used.

The report blames the supervising civic agency concerned for alleged collusion in forging of testing records. The quality of anti-corrosive treatment on reinforcement steel was also found poor during the technical examination.

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Gilmps of Chennai Programme ….

Posted on 30 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Saturday 31 July, 2010.

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Salute the Martyrs of Nation on the occasion of Vijay Diwas by AIHRA UNIT AMRITSAR

Posted on 29 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Friday, 30 July 2010.

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Glimps of AIHRA with President Mr. M. U. Dua

Posted on 28 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Thrusday, 29 July 2010.

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Darfur peace process reaches ‘critical juncture,’ Security Council warned

Posted on 28 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Thrusday, 29 July 2010.

The peace process in Darfur has reached a critical point, with the security situation deteriorating just as prospects for a negotiated settlement have slightly improved, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council as he urged all parties to the conflict to step up their efforts to reach a deal.

Ibrahim Gambari, the head of the joint African Union-UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur (known asUNAMID), told an open Council debate that there were encouraging signs pointing towards a possible deal to end a conflict that has raged for seven years.

“Civil society is now more involved in peace talks than ever, the Government of Sudan is demonstrating renewed commitment to negotiations, and the leaders of most armed opposition movements are either participating in or are expressing an interest in participating in the talks,” he said.

The latest round of peace talks wrapped up earlier this month in Doha, Qatar, where the Government has been mediating discussions between Khartoum and the rebel Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM).

Mr. Gambari said today that UNAMID has also begun a process of internal political dialogue within Darfur that aims to give civil society a greater voice in the peace process.

“The purpose of the dialogue will be to focus in detail on issues that affect a wide cross-section of Darfurians, and in particular on those issues that are the root causes of the Darfur conflict, including political and economic marginalization, land, justice and reconciliation.

“In this way, the dialogue will both inform and ensure Darfurian ‘buy in’ on the final contents of the peace agreements to be signed between the Government and armed movements.”

But Mr. Gambari, who is also the Joint Special Representative of the UN and AU in Darfur, warned that the overall security situation continues to deteriorate in the remote and arid region on Sudan’s western flank.

Government forces have clashed with members of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), dislodging the rebel group from several of its traditional strongholds and disrupting its main supply routes.

JEM withdrew from the Doha talks as the fighting resumed and is yet to re-engage, Mr. Gambari noted, adding that the Abdul Wahid faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) also attacked Government forces recently, leading to civilian casualties.

Inter-communal fighting between the Misseriya and Nawaiba communities, two semi-nomadic Arab tribes, also spiked in May and June before a peace agreement was reached at the end of last month. More than 250 people were killed in those clashes in those two months alone.

“It is fortunate that this agreement is largely holding and fighting between the groups has largely ceased,” the Joint Special Representative said.

Given these developments, and an increase in attacks against humanitarian personnel, which has hampered the delivery of aid to people in need, “the Darfur peace process is at a critical juncture,” he warned.

In line with the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the work of UNAMID, the Security Council is being asked to extend the mandate of the mission, which begun operations in Darfur at the start of 2008.

Meanwhile, a UNAMID helicopter was today used to pick up and transport to safety two German aid workers who have been released after 35 days in captivity in the north of the region. The mission said both workers appear to be in good health.

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Several feared dead in plane crash in Pakistan

Posted on 28 July 2010 by admin

AIHRA News, Thrusday, 29 July 2010.

Islamabad,  (PTI) A Pakistani passenger plane carrying 160 people today crashed into the heavily forested Margalla Hills overlooking Islamabad in rain and bad weather and large number of casualties were feared, officials said.

Private airliner Air Blue operated Airbus A-321, flying from Turkey to Islamabad via Karachi, hit the Margalla Hills near Daman-e-Koh viewpoint around 10 am in thick fog, police and a state-run rescue service officials said.

Police said bodies were strewn across the low mountains near the scene of the smouldering wreckage in inaccessible hills, shrouded in heavy cloud and fog during a downpour.

Up to 10 people were confirmed dead but five injured survivors were airlifted from the crash site by helicopter, according to Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

The inaccessibility of the site and bad weather were hampering rescue efforts, he said.

“Rescue teams, paramilitary Pakistan Rangers and senior police officials have reached the site.

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