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Friday, 8 March 2013

From Today's Papers - 08 Mar 2013
Building of roads in Naxal-hit areas
CRPF to provide security to construction companies
Shaurya Karanbir Gurung
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
The Union government has decided to engage the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to provide security cover to private construction companies to attract them to complete the construction of about 550 km of roads in the Naxal-hit states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa.

The government will also install close to 3,000 mobile phone towers in the nine Naxal-affected states of India. These are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal.

The CRPF is the main central armed police force dealing in anti-Naxal operations in these nine states. They will be backed by the state police. “We are hopeful that the new offer will attract companies,” said a Home Ministry official.

The 550 km of road are stretches that require linkages. About eight bridges also have to be constructed in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Orissa.

So far, the government has floated tenders four times for the construction of the roads, but no company has come forward, fearing the Naxal attacks on their men and property.

How to tackle this problem was discussed at a meeting here on Monday between the Union Home Secretary RK Singh and the Chief Secretaries and Director-Generals of Police of the nine states.

The road construction is a part of the Phase-I of the Road Requirement Plan (RRP-I) for the improvement of connectivity in these states. The government has intensified its other development measures by planning to install about 3,000 mobile towers in the nine states at a cost of over Rs 3,000 crore. These towers will be positioned near security establishments and police stations.

Approved in February 2009, the RRP-I envisages the development of 1,126 km of national highways and 4,351 km of state roads at a cost of Rs 7,300 crore.

“We have not got a good response from companies, because of security concerns. They don’t want the tender, because they fear being killed by the Maoists,” said sources in the government.

Developing new security tactics to counter the Naxals was also discussed at the meeting. One of these is setting up a standard operating procedure to be used in situations similar to the Latehar encounter. In this incident, the Maoists had allegedly placed an IED inside a CRPF jawan’s body, which was later detected and defused. “The procedure has been created for security forces to retrieve a dead jawan’s body in such situations,” sources said.
Need for a maritime security architecture in region
Experts rule out inevitability of rivalry between China and India
KV Prasad/TNS

New Delhi, March 7
As the nature of bilateral relations between India and China once again occupies the discourse amid the decadal change of guard underway in Beijing, two leading Indian foreign policy practitioners, National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon and former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, are of the view that the neighbours should work towards building security architecture in the region.

Discounting the theory of the inevitability of Sino-Indian maritime rivalry, the National Security Adviser said it was in the interest of both the countries to keep the sea lanes of communication open for the passage of trade and energy through it.

While mentioning the idea of a having an overarching security architecture both in the Indian Ocean Region and the Western Pacific, as suggested by Saran, was indeed missing, the NSA said such a set-up would allow states and navies to conduct their activities and cooperate to mitigate conflict and avoid competition.

‘What is missing in the Indian Ocean, the near seas and the Western Pacific is the over-arching security architecture, within which the naval actors and states conduct their activities and cooperate, mitigating conflicts and avoiding competition”, Menon said at the launch of C. Raja Mohan’s book “Samudra Manthan: Sino-India Rivalry in the Indo-Pacific”, here yesterday.

In this context, he said both the Indian Navy and the PLA-Navy were cooperating and last year initiated a separate dialogue on maritime security and cooperation. He mentioned the presence of both Navies across the Strait of Malacca and in anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia in the Gulf of Aden as cases in point. At a discussion, Saran said the book offers deep insight into the emerging Indo-Pacific theatre as maritime profiles of both the countries begin to intersect and that it takes a look at the role of the United States in this context.

Saran felt that while India should drawn up its historical strength especially of the southern states which have a rich maritime tradition, he reiterated the need for an “open, inclusive and transparent” security architecture in the region in which all stake holders could work in close collaboration. Speaking at a seminar on security and development in 2009, Saran had rejected any contradiction in Sino-Indian relations as well as the “inevitability of conflict with China.

These observations came when the Chinese military sought to describe as “totally groundless” apprehension in India of Beijing’s encirclement with a ‘String of Pearls” strategy that includes establishing naval bases in the region with Gwadar Port in Pakistan being part of it.
Reinstate Mirza in DRDO if no evidence against him: Katju

New Delhi, March 7
Press Council Chairperson Markandey Katju has demanded that the government reinstate DRDO scientist Aijaz Ahmed Mirza who was arrested on terror charges but released on bail as the National Investigation Agency did not file a charge sheet against him.

In a letter written to Defence Minister A K Antony and Karnataka Chief Minister Jagdish Shettar, Katju said that if there is no evidence against Mirza, he should be reinstated and given adequate compensation, besides an open apology by central and state governments.

"I would request you to look into this matter immediately, and if it is true that there is no evidence against Aijaz Ahmed Mirza, he should be reinstated forthwith on the post he was holding before he was sacked, otherwise a wrong message will be sent throughout the country that Muslims are terrorists and are fair game for being persecuted and victimised by the communal forces," the PCI Chief said in his letter.

Katju said that he had already issued a press note criticising the false implication of Muslims in bomb blast cases. He also said that Mirza had in a TV interview said that he was tortured and made to suffer indignities in jail. PTI
MoD confronts Agusta with fresh evidence
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 7
Armed with fresh evidence, the Ministry of Defence has confronted helicopter maker AgustaWestland for its links with two Indian firms the names of which have cropped up in the alleged illegal pay-offs in securing the Rs 3,500-crore VVIP helicopter deal.

This is the second explanation the MoD has sought from AgustaWestland, a subsidiary of Italian aerospace major Finmeccanica. Earlier it has issued a show-cause notice asking it why its contract should not be cancelled. Agusta had dismissed the show-cause notice as being based on “speculation in the media”.

In the latest missive to the helicopter maker, the MoD has given it one week to explain its links with software companies allegedly used as a cover for paying kickbacks in the deal.

The MoD has rejected the helicopter maker’s three-page reply to the earlier show-cause and has now asked AgustaWestland to provide specific details about its transactions with Tunisia and India-based firms IDS Infotech and Aeromatrix, sources said.
Plan to create real battlefield situation for Army
NEW DELHI: Seeking to provide a close-to-real battlefield situation for its troops to train, the Indian Army is working on a Rs 40-crore plan towards modernizing infrastructure at two of its main field firing ranges in Pokharan in Rajasthan and Babina in Madhya Pradesh.

"Under the plan, we are looking to develop the firing ranges into world class integrated training fields for our troops", Army officials said here.

The modernization of the two firing ranges would be a follow-up of the upgradation of infrastructure at the Army's biggest firing range in Mahajan in Rajasthan.

The upgradation of infrastructure at the ranges would make the training there more realistic and provide a "close-to-real battlefield scenario for troops" while practising war-fighting there, they said.

The ranges would also be provided with short and long-range firing ranges and also strengthen the road and other infrastructure there.

The Army has 66 field firing ranges at the moment which is having an impact on its capability to train its soldiers and practice live firing of weapon systems.

Recently, defence minister A K Antony had said that out of the 104 firing ranges held by the Army in 2009, "38 were deleted from the list due to their not being available for use by the Army and also not being re-notified by state governments concerned in spite of relentless efforts".

Out of the remaining 66 firing ranges of the Army, 15 are currently de-notified by various state governments, he had said.
3 ex-Indian Army chiefs to attend Army Day function
KATHMANDU, March 7: Three former Indian Army chiefs are attending the special ceremony being organized by Nepal Army on the occassion of the Mahashivaratri festival and Army Day.

Nepal Army said former Indian Army chief Shankar Roychowdhury has arrived in Kathmandu Thursday and other two former Indian Army chiefs -- Sunith Francis Rodrigues and Deepak Kapoor -- will be arriving in Kathmandu on Friday.

Former army chief Roychowdhury was welcomed by Adjutant General Mahesh Bikram Karki at Tribhuvan International Airport. The three former generals are scheduled to visit different places of religious and archealogical importance and will return home on March 12. They are scheduled to call on Nepal Army Chief Gaurav Shumsher JB Rana on Monday.

The army said the three have been conferred on the title of Honorary General of the Nepal Army during various occasions in the past. Roychowdhury was conferred on the title on June 8 1995, Rodrigues on March 13, 1992 and Kapoor Jan 21, 2010.

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