Published: Sunday 31 August 1997

Over 350 people have been killed in torrential rains in the current monsoon season across the country. Several regions in the northern region came to a standstill due to heavy downpour. Gujarat bore the brunt of the monsoon fury with 230 deaths, followed by Kerala, 64, Uttar Pradesh, 30, Karnataka, 14, Himachal Pradesh, eight, Assam, Meghalaya and Maharashtra, two each.

The Rajasthan government, in its attempt to 'green' the desert state, has set up a permanent committee for a time-bound implementation of the afforestation scheme. Headed by the chief secretary, M L Mehta, the committee will devise ways to implement the scheme for the next 20 years.

The Sikkim cabinet has sanctioned Rs 18 crore for rural housing. An official release said that the cabinet also approved the construction of eight panchayat bhavans at the cost of over Rs 24 lakh besides a proposal for the construction of foot bridges during 1997-98 in the rural areas involving Rs 29 lakh.

A fine of six lakh rupees was imposed on the owner of an estate adjacent to the Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary near Singara in the Nilgiris in Karnataka, by a wildlife warden for killing a spotted deer. The warden, A Udayam said that besides the fine levied under the Wildlife Protection Act, the man was also fined an additional one lakh rupees for stocking rosewood logs in his house without authorisation.

According to the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) report, a large amount of AIDS funds in Goa are being spent on free hand-outs and costly computers which are not used. This is in spite of the fact that the much needed modernisation of blood banks in the state has been inexplicably delayed. The CAG report says that the funds have been spent callously and carelessly.

It is almost a year since the Supreme Court delivered the judgement on tannery pollution in Tamil Nadu. But its implementation remains partial as the Tamil Nadu Environment Authority is yet to become functional. The Authority, which was constituted within a month of the August 28, 1996 judgement, is yet to start functioning, while villagers affected by the pollution have started petitioning the body for compensation.

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