Published: Thursday 30 November 2006

tepid web meet The first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, an UN body was held in Athens between October 31 and November 2. Coming almost a year after a bitterly contested World Summit of Information Society meet in Tunis, Tunisia (see 'Net Result,' Down To Earth, December 15, 2005), the meet was expected to set sparks flying -- more so with China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Tunisia and Vietnam participating, all criticised for curbing freedom of expression on the web. But the Athens meet turned out to be a tepid affair compared to Tunis. The most interesting draw was the Google representative debating freedom of speech, intellectual property rights and how to connect Africa to the internet at a special UN conference. But Google was unrepentant over the controversial decision to censor its search engine at the behest of Beijing.

insured against naxals The Chhattisgarh government is planning to insure procured paddy against Naxal attacks following intelligence reports that the rebels may destroy government paddy godowns. Of the planned procurement of 4 million tonnes of paddy this year, about 1.2 million tonnes stored in the Naxalite-affected districts will be insured for six months. Chhattisgarh farmers are heavily dependent on paddy. Of the state's 5.5 million-odd hectares of cultivable land, about two-thirds is under paddy cultivation. The state government has invited proposals from insurance companies. This would be the first time insurance cover would be provided for insurgent attacks.

sawmills to close In a directive to the Uttar Pradesh government, the Supreme Court ordered closure of 1,607 sawmills operating in the state without licence. The bench, comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Justices Arijit Pasayat and S H Kapadia also directed the state to verify the licences issued after March 1997. According to media reports, the order was immediately acted upon and more than 3,000 mills closed. In its March 1997 verdict, the court directed closure of all unlicensed wood-based industries in the country.

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