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Poll panel to clarify on `ongoing works' soon

Hyderabad: The Election Commission will define in a day or two the scope of "ongoing works" of regular schemes and of drought relief programmes and clarify if they are covered by the code of conduct.

The Chief Election Commissioner, T. S. Krishna Murthy, who with the Election Commissioners, B.B. Tandon, and N. Gopalaswamy, interacted with district Collectors, Superintendents of Police and election officials here on Thursday and with political parties earlier, was stated to have disapproved on execution of "on-going works" under one pretext or other. The State Government is making a strong case for works already grounded.

The Election Commission is likely to clear "drought relief" programmes as they are for mitigating the hardship of people. The commission is likely to take a lenient view and clear the decks for this category. Mr. Krishna Murthy avoided the media, but described the day's outcome as "satisfactory".

The Chief Election Commissioner asked the district heads to be "scrupulously impartial". He wanted to know why so many voters were left without photo-identity cards. Mr Krishna Murthy was "satisfied" with the poll preparedness even in the context of naxalite threats.

At the Raj Bhavan, delegations from parties met the commission. The Congress team, led by K. Rosaiah, expressed the fear that heavy deployment of forces in a large number of villages, identified as "sensitive, hyper sensitive and extremist-affected", might be misused by the ruling party.

Telugu Desam and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, however, countered this, saying in the absence of deployment of this magnitude, the Congress would itself indulge in rigging with the help of naxalites.

Certificates for DSC test to be verified with universities

HYDERABAD: The Commissioner and Director of School Education, Manmohan Singh, has said the certificates submitted by students appearing for the District Selection Committee (DSC) examination will be verified with the universities concerned before posting orders are given to successful candidates.

Those submitting fake or bogus certificates will have to face criminal action.

In a statement here, he said in DSC-2002, 19 candidates had produced fake B.Ed certificates from Magadh University in Bihar and criminal action was initiated against those candidates.

He appealed to candidates to bring to the notice of the officials any case of submission of bogus certificates.

Another SIT official allowed to take Telgi's statement

BANGALORE: The Special Court, which is trying cases related to the stamp paper racket, on Thursday allowed the Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) of the Andhra Pradesh Special Investigation Team (SIT) to take the statements of the main accused in the cases, Abdul Karim Telgi, and four others on March 17.

On March 5, the judge, A.T. Munnoli, had allowed four other SIT officials to take the statements. They are the Inspector-General, Krishna Raju, the Superintendent of Police, Harikumar, the Additional Superintendent of Police, P.V Subba Rao, and the Police Inspector, Venkataratnam.

The statements are to be taken from five accused -- Telgi, Muzamil, Sohail, Mohammed Illyas, and Abdul Waheed -- all lodged in the Bangalore Central Jail, under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code. On Thursday, the judge allowed the SIT's application for adding the name of the DIG (SIT), Umesh Sharraf, to the list of officials.

The Andhra Pradesh SIT team is investigating two cases related to the racket in that State. It had earlier taken two accused -- Mohammed Yusuf and Thomas Jacob -- lodged in the Central Jail here, for examination. After they were examined for a week, they were brought back to the jail on Thursday. It is alleged that Yusuf was involved in Telgi's stamp paper business in Mumbai, and Thomas was part of the racket in Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Novel protest by tomato ryots

Cuddapah: Farmers who were aghast at the slump in the price of tomatoes to 50 paise a kg staged a novel protest by dumping two tractor-loads of tomatoes on the road near the bus-stand in Chinnamandem mandal headquarters and staged rasta roko on Thursday.

About 300 farmers from several parts of the mandal, led by S. Jabbar of Chinnamandem and U. Krishnamurthy of Kammapalle village, staged a protest, placing two tractors across the road, after dumping tomatoes.

They demanded that the Government take steps to provide remunerative price for their produce.

Sonia launches website

KARIMNAGAR: The All-India Congress Committee president, Sonia Gandhi, has formally launched a website, www.joincongressI.com, which was conceptualised and created by the district Congress committee president, D Sridhar, and the www.indiademocracy.com on Thursday.

The website gives information about the history of the Congress, its growth and achievements.

The site would also give information about the 2004 election manifesto, latest news about the election campaign and events in the party.

Ms. Gandhi launched the site at the Ambedkar stadium

grounds where she addressed a public meeting by clicking the laptop computer.

Day temperatures rise

Hyderabad: As dry weather continued over the State on Thursday, day temperatures rose at one or two places in Telangana and they changed little in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema.

They were above normal at one or two places in coastal Andhra and normal in Telangana and Rayalaseema.

The State's highest day temperature for the day was 37 degrees Celsius and it was recorded at three places -- Nandigama, Nandyal and Nizamabad. Weather will be mainly sunny in the State on Friday.

CEC coming tomorrow

TIRUPATI: The Chief Election Commissioner, T.S. Krishnamurthy, will arrive here on March 13 on a three-day visit.

After reaching the temple town from Chennai late in the night, the CEC will hold talks with the district Collector and other officials the next day on the arrangements for coming elections. He will leave for Chennai at 7.30 a.m. on March 15.

Pilgrim found dead

TIRUMALA: The Tirumala police on Wednesday found the body of an unidentified person near the footpath leading to Papavinasanam.

An amount of Rs. 5,206 was found in his pocket. `Sudarsan token' was also found tied to his wrist. The body was sent to SVRR Government Hospital for post-mortem examination.

Selected for award

ANANTAPUR: The All-India Association of Vasavi Clubs has selected A.S. Gupta, president of Vasavi club-Anantapur (new), for the National Excel Award for the year 2003-04. The award will be presented to Mr. Gupta at the national conference of the association at Vijayawada on March 14.

Club's gesture

ANANTAPUR: Members and management of The Anantapur Club have raised a fund of Rs. 10,000 towards the cost of surgery of Vaishnavi of Kurnool, who is suffering from a disease. The demand draft for the amount will be presented to the private hospital which has come forward to perform the surgery on March 13.

ZP meet

KURNOOL: The Collector, Ajay Jain, told the Zilla Parishad meeting here on Wednesday that ten more mandals were recommended to the Government for declaring them drought-hit. Thirty-one mandals were declared drought-hit in the district so far.

He said that rice sanctioned under `food-for-work' programme would be distributed only in the drought-hit mandals and at other places sufficient funds would be released to meet the drinking water shortage.

The ZPTC member, Prasada Reddy, presided over the meeting. The Joint Collector, Mukesh Kumar Meena, and others were present.

APCO contest

NELLORE: The APCO handloom house here, which is contemplating launching marketing strategy, has decided to conduct a dress competition at Indira Bhavan on March 13.

Village's distinction

NELLORE: Koverapalem, a tiny village in T.P. Gudur mandal, has again bagged the first place in respect of payment of house tax. The percentage of collections is the highest in the village compared to other villages in the mandal.

Meet on code of conduct

ADILABAD: The District Election Officer and Collector in charge, N. Mukteshwar Rao, on Wednesday said that the candidates, who make false statements in affidavits while filing nominations for the coming elections, would be fined. Mr. Mukteshwar Rao was clarifying the doubts expressed by the Bharatiya Janata Party's in-charge of Adilabad Assembly constituency, M. Ramana Reddy, at a meeting with political parties on the implementation of the Model Code of Conduct.

Mr. Mukteshwar Rao said that copies of affidavits to be filed during nominations would be made available the same day.

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