orissa swamped: More than 30 lakh people have been affected by severe flooding in Orissa. Torrential rains -- coupled with excess discharge of water from Hirakud dam -- have caused Mahanadi river to flood, spelling doom for at least 17 districts of the state. While official estimates put the death toll at about 25, independent sources claim that it is over 40. Displacement of people has also been reported from Chhattisgarh's flood-hit districts.
awash with doubts: Even as the Task Force on Interlinking of Rivers is poised to submit its report to the Union government, opposition to the mega project continues to trickle in. Two separate groups from Kerala recently requested Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to abandon the proposed Pampa-Achenkovil-Vaippar link project. Meanwhile, Suresh Prabhu, the chairman of the task force, pointed to the need for a study to evaluate the effects of river networking on Assam.
lacuna in law: In a recent ruling, the Karnataka High Court has brought to light a serious shortcoming in the Karnataka Panchayati Raj Act. The case involved a tehsildar, authorised by the act to issue caste certificates for educational and employment purposes only, wrongly issuing such documents for contestants of local body elections. The court found the bill lacking information about the individual or body that is authorised to issue certificates to candidates contesting zila, taluk and gram panchayat polls.
fibre revolution: India's jute industry seems set to witness the kind of dramatic transformation that the khadi sector experienced a few years back. The Union government has announced a Rs 400-crore technology mission to upgrade the jute industry during the 10th five-year plan period. While providing relief to poor jute growers, the investment would also help the government to keep its commitment of creating 10 million additional jobs during each year of the plan period.
bill of contention: The recently passed Kerala Forest (Vesting and Management of Ecologically Fragile Lands) Bill, 2001, has evoked a mixed reaction. Its supporters have lauded it for returning to small farmers the land that the government had taken over under a previous ordinance. The opponents, however, allege that the bill would result in the alienation of about 21043.74 hectares of protected forestland.
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