Views of State governments will be accommodated, says Jairam Ramesh

The Centre has decided to revise the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill, 2011, incorporating suggestions made by State governments to protect the interests of tribals and the sanctity of gram sabhas. Reacting to the parliamentary committee report, Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh said most of the recommendations pertaining to preserving the federal structure would be accepted but asserted the government would have to necessarily play a role in land acquisition.

The Centre on Thursday cleared a Rs 8500-crore project under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana to connect 6000 habitations in the 78 naxalite-affected districts of nine states.

The Union Cabinet cleared the project, under which the money will be utilised for new connectivity and upgradation of these habitations, which will be an addition to the core network, approved in 2002 by the Union Ministry of Rural Development.

Union Minister of Environment and Forests, Jayanthi Natarajan, came under attack from the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, for failing to save the Ganga and the Himalayas, but Speaker Meira Kumar reposed faith in her.

During the discussion on the steps taken by the government to protect the Ganga from pollution, and the Himalayas from ruthless exploitation, most Opposition members attacked the Congress, and were critical of the Environment Minister.

West Bengal Chief Minister sought refinancing for 18,000-km PMGSY roads

Aggravating the face-off between the Congress and the Trinamool Congress, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has shot down West Bengal's demand for financing anew 18,000 km of murram (red sand) roads under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

Shahrukh Khan and Vidya Balan will come together, not to promote a commercial venture, but to act as brand ambassadors to fight open defecation, propagate sanitation and appeal to the people to get clean.

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who also holds the portfolio of drinking water and sanitation, has broached the idea with the actors, and their response has been positive.

At the instance of the Supreme Court, the Union government has initiated steps for an out-of-the-court settlement of the controversy arising from non-payment of minimum wages to MGNREGS workers.

While admitting the Centre's special leave petition challenging the Karnataka High Court ruling in September for payment of minimum wages to workers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme along with arrears, the Supreme Court, however, refused to stay the order.

The arduous trek to Kashmir may soon be a thing of the past. A new passage to Srinagar now under construction will not only bring the regions of Jammu and Kashmir closer but will also end the isolation of the valley from the rest of the country.
State-of-the-art tunnels
A number of state-of-the-art tunnels are being dug through the Pir Panjal ranges, among others, for easy roadways and a pioneering railway line both of which will give easy access to the valley.

The Centre on Monday revised the wage rate under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and has decided to amend the Act to remove the existing disparity in minimum wage even as the matter is scheduled to come up before the Supreme Court on April 9.

The revision in the wage rate indexed to the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour (CPIAL) will come into effect on April 1 and will prevail for the year 2012-13. It varies from State to State depending on the specific prevailing CPIAL and will entail an additional burden of Rs.472 crore on the Central exchequer.

It will not work at cross purposes with the Abhijit Sen committee: Ashwani Kumar

In a bid to address the rising concerns, within and outside Parliament, over the latest poverty estimates released by the Planning Commission, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday declared that a technical group would be put in place to come up a new methodology to capture the incidence of poverty.

As if to buttress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's emphasis on drinking water and sanitation in his reply to the motion of thanks to the President's address, a young woman was rewarded for her successful insistence on a toilet as a precondition for living at her husband's place.

Anita Bai Narre of Chichouli village of Betul district in Madhya Pradesh was handed a cheque for Rs. 5 lakh by Union Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh, on behalf of Sulabh International, for standing up for her dignity on reaching her husband's place and demanding the construction of a toilet.