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Jayalalithaa Raises Mullaperiyar Issue With Chandy

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Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Thursday requested her Kerala counterpart Oommen Chandy to ensure that his government abides by the apex court order allowing the water storage level at Mullaperiyar Dam to be raised to 142 feet.
Replying to Chandy’s letter dated Dec 1, 2011, the text of which was released here to the media, Jayalalithaa said: “May I take this opportunity to request you to kindly ensure that the Government of Kerala abides by the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, which has taken into consideration all the safety aspects of the dam and allow the water level to be raised to 142 feet?”
While agreeing with Chandy’s views that Tamil Nadu and Kerala have mutual interests and co-operation on various fronts and they should be fostered, she said: “I would like to take this opportunity to bring to your notice unwarranted provocations from across the border and also our anxieties on the fear psychosis generated in Kerala.”
She said the apex court after considering the report of the expert committee formed by the central government ordered “raising of level of storage in the Mullai Periyar Dam to 142 feet”.
Jayalalithaa said the Kerala government amended the Kerala Irrigation and Water Conservation Act 2003 in 2006 there by nullifying the apex court order. She said the Empowered Committee under the chairmanship of the former chief justice of India A.S. Anand is looking into dam safety.
”The Government of Tamil Nadu had carried out a series of measures from 1980 to 1994 on the recommendations of the Chairman, Central Water Commission, to strengthen the dam and after all these measures have been carried out, the retrofitted Mullai Periyar Dam is as good as new. The Supreme Court of India had also factored this in while pronouncing its judgment in 2006, allowing Tamil Nadu initially to store water up to 142 feet,” the letter notes.
She said a series of studies/tests such a scanning the upstream face of the dam, testing of cable anchors, non-destructive tests have been conducted and some are in progress.
In response to Chandy’s reference in his letter to the 22 tremors in the last four months, Jayalalithaa said: “As per the Indian Meteorological Department data, there have been only four mild tremors in the last four months, that too far away from the vicinity of the Mullai Periyar Dam site, which did not have any effect on the seepage in the dam.”
”The seepage of the dam is well within the permissible limits as per the Indian Standards Code. The possibility of tremors of even medium magnitude does not exist in the Mullai Periyar Dam site. The possibility of the Mullai Periyar Dam breaching due to flood waters and collapsing is not logical since all eventualities have been factored in during the strengthening of the dam,” the letter notes.
Jayalalithaa stressed that informed decision making at the the government level should be based on reason rather than extraneous factors and one should guard against unfounded fears overtaking reason and ground realities.
-IANS

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SOUTH ASIA

Pakistani Anti-graft body wants travel ban on Nawaz Sharif, kin

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Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog has asked authorities to place ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on the Exit Control List to prevent them from leaving the country.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) sent a formal request to the ministry of interior. The interior ministry officials confirmed that the NAB wrote that names of Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Capt (retd) Muhammad Safdar should be put on the Exit Control List (ECL), which listed individuals not allowed to leave Pakistan.

The NAB argued that as the trial of the three nears its conclusion, it is feared that they would leave the country.

Earlier, a similar request to place name of finance minister Ishaq Dar on ECL was not accepted, allowing him to go to London and never return.

Sharif, 68, and his family this week filed an application with the accountability court seeking a fortnight’s exemption from personal appearance from February 19 onwards to let them go to London to see Sharif’s ailing wife. Three cases were filed against Sharif and his family last year, including Avenfield properties, Azizia & Hill Metal Establishment, and Flagship Investments.

Maryam and Safdar are accused only in Avenfield properties case. The NAB had filed two supplementary references against Sharif, his sons Hasan and Hussain regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills & Hill Metal Establishment and Flagship Investment cases.

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Pakistan “breaches obligations’ on nuclear arms reduction, UN court told

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The Hague: Pakistan is violating its “obligations” to the international community by failing to reduce its nuclear arsenal, the Marshall Islands told the UN’s highest court on Tuesday.

The small Pacific Island nation is this week launching three unusual cases against India, Pakistan and Britain before the International Court of Justice.

Majuro wants to put a new spotlight on the global nuclear threat, its lawyers said yesterday, by using its own experience with massive US-led nuclear tests in the 1940s and 1950s.

“Pakistan is in breach of its obligations owed to the international community as a whole,” when it comes to reducing its nuclear stockpile, said Nicholas Grief, one of the island nation’s lawyers.

Islamabad and its nuclear-armed neighbour India “continue to engage in a quantitative build-up and a qualitative improvement” of their atomic stockpiles, added Tony deBrum, a Marshallese government minister.

DeBrum warned that even a “limited nuclear war” involving the two countries would “threaten the existence” of his island nation people.

Pakistan and India have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947, two of them over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir.

In 1998, the rival neighbours both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability.

The ICJ’s judges are holding hearings for the next week and a half to decide whether it is competent to hear the lawsuits brought against India and Pakistan — neither of which have signed the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

A third hearing against Britain — which has signed the NPT — scheduled to start on Wednesday will be devoted to “preliminary objections” raised by London.

The Marshalls initially sought to bring a case against nine countries it said possessed nuclear arms: Britain, China, France, India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, Russia and the United States.
Israel has never admitted to having nuclear weapons.

But the Hague-based ICJ, set up in 1945 to rule in disputes between states, has only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan, because they have accepted the ICJ’s compulsory jurisdiction.

Pakistan’s lawyers did not attend Tuesday’s hearings.

It did however file a counter-claim against Majuro’s allegations saying “the court has no jurisdiction to deal with the application” and insisting that the case is “not admissible”, said ICJ President Ronny Abraham.

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

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Bangladesh to drop Islam as official religion following attacks on Hindus

New Delhi: Bangladesh is likely to drop Islam as its official religion following a series of attacks on people from other faiths in the country. The country’s Supreme Court is hearing a plea challenging the status of the official religion of the country to Islam.

Bangladesh, which was declared a secular country after its formation in 1971, was declared an Islamic country following a constitutional amendment in 1988.

According to a report in the Daily Mail, the plea has challenged the declaration of Islam as the national religion of the country.

The move is being supported by leaders from the minority communities like Hindus, Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

Bangladesh has 90 per cent of Muslims, 8 per cent Hindus and remaining constitutes Christians and Muslim minority Shiites.

In last month, a Hindu priest was hacked to death following an attack on a temple in Panchgarh district. Two others were seriously injured in the attack. There have been several lethal attacks on writers and bloggers.

According to a report in the Independent, Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are believed to have carried out at least seven attacks on foreign and minority people in Bangladesh in the past year.

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