A complaint has been filed in a court here accusing RJD supremo Lalu Prasad of defamation for his alleged calumnious remark about the complainant’s “friendship” with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar at a recent rally. The complaint was filed by Udaykant Mishra, a member of the Bihar Disaster Management Authority, in the court of Patna Chief Judicial Magistrate Om Prakash and is scheduled to be heard tomorrow. Mr. Mishra has assailed Mr. Prasad’s utterances at a rally in Bhagalpur last month. The petitioner said that he has known Mr. Kumar for many decades and the remark was made to defame him. He also alleged that there were attempts to drag his name into the multi-crore Srijan scam, which relates to fraudulent transfer of government money into the account of a Bhagalpur-based NGO. The CBI is probing into the Rs. 1000 crore scam.
Nine months after tabling a Bill in the Assembly, the Assam government has decided to implement the policy of deducting the pay of employees who do not take care of their parents and physically-challenged siblings.The suicide of an elderly couple, abused and neglected by their son, in Sivasagar on July 1 has influenced this decision. The State government will also make changes in the service rules of employees in accordance with the State Population Policy passed last year. This will make people with more than two children ineligible for government jobs and election or nomination to the Panchayat and other local bodies. “The suicide of businessman-theatre producer Rajani Khargharia and his wife was painful. It reminded us of the PRONAM Bill, 2017, that was passed by the Assembly [in September] last year,” Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Saturday, warning employees who treat their parents shabbily.PRONAM, which stands for Assam Employees’ Parents Responsibility and Norms for Accountability and Monitoring Bill, aims at “accountability for employees of the State government or any other organisation in Assam in taking care of their parents and divyang (disabled) siblings and in matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”The purpose of the bill was not to interfere with the private life of State government employees but to ensure that their parents and siblings with disabilities, if neglected, could lodge a complaint with the employee’s department, Mr. Sarma said.Upon receiving the complaint, the department would then deduct 10% of the employee’s monthly salary and give it to their neglected parents and physically-challenged siblings, he said.The government, Mr. Sarma said, would also implement the two-child policy for jobs and elections to local bodies and Panchayats. The policy, passed in the Assembly soon after the PRONAM Bill last year, also proposes to disqualify MLAs ignoring family planning.“In case any MLA from the State flouts the family planning norms, say MLAs having more than two children, he/she may be disqualified from his or her membership and be debarred from contesting polls,” the policy, drafted by the Health & Family Welfare Department, said.Assam was the 12th State in India to come up with such a policy for barring people with more than two children from applying for government jobs, contesting polls, and from housing and other beneficiary schemes.“Assam is facing a dangerous population explosion,” Mr. Sarma had said last year to justify the population policy.According to the 2011 Census, the population of Assam increased from 2.66 crore in 2001 to 3.2 crore, with the decadal growth being 17.07%. Although there was a decline in the decadal growth of population, the rate of increase was at an unsustainable level, the government said.Various minority groups had panned the population policy as being anti-Muslim.
REGINA – A year after a major oil spill along the North Saskatchewan River fouled the water source for three Saskatchewan cities, an environmentalist says the company involved should get more than just “a slap on the wrist.”Peter Prebble with the Saskatchewan Environmental Society says he hopes Husky Energy will be held to account after one of its pipelines leaked 225,000 litres of heavy oil mixed with diluent onto the riverbank near Maidstone, Sask. About 40 per cent of the spill reached the river.The oil plume flowed hundreds of kilometres downstream and forced the cities of North Battleford, Prince Albert and Melfort to shut off their water intakes for almost two months.Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice isn’t commenting. It is still reviewing Husky’s response to alarms before the spill to decide whether charges should be laid.“If it was just a matter of deciding on a fine, then I would think it wouldn’t be all that complicated at this point in time,” said Prebble.“If the department is actually working on a larger settlement that involves upgrades to the safety of the oil pipeline system that Husky operates in the province, then that’s something that could take more time,” he said.“If we don’t see that, I’ll be really concerned because Husky is a big company and the fine could just end up being a slap on the wrist.”Husky (TSX:HSE) could face fines of up to $1 million a day under the Environmental Protection Act and $50,000 a day under the Pipelines Act in Saskatchewan.There could also be federal charges under the Fisheries Act, said Dale Marshall, national program manager with the group Environmental Defence.“It remains to be seen whether fines will be levied or not,” said Marshall, noting he would be surprised if they weren’t.Marshall said it often takes more than a year for charges. He suggested they should be laid more quickly “in the interest of accountability and to send a clear message to other pipeline operators and oil companies that these matters are taken seriously and will be dealt with quickly.”Marshall noted it took a couple of years before charges were laid in spills in Alberta.Earlier this month, the Alberta Energy Regulator laid five charges against Nexen Energy (TSX:NXY) for a pipeline spill two years ago that was one of the largest in provincial history.In June 2014, Plains Midstream Canada was fined $1.3 million after pleading guilty to environmental charges related to two spills: one in April 2011 and the other in June 2012.In Saskatchewan, the statute of limitations for charges under The Environmental Management and Protection Act is three years. Marshall couldn’t say why it takes so long.“There’s almost no doubt that if charges are laid, they will be determined through some sort of negotiation with the oil industry. I think that’s almost a given. They’ll have certain charges that will be laid in exchange for a guilty verdict.”Part of the concern in the Husky spill is over how it was reported.The government was first told by a member of the public who spotted oil on the river — not Husky. Government investigators later determined that the leak began July 20, the day before the spill was discovered.They found that the pipeline’s alarms were warning of potential problems and continued until the line was shut down for scheduled maintenance at 7:15 a.m. on July 21.Husky Energy has said pipeline monitoring indicated pressure anomalies at 8 p.m. on July 20 and the company started a shutdown at 6 a.m.Husky’s own investigation determined that the pipeline buckled because of ground movement. The company has said it accepts full responsibility and is using what it learned to improve operations.Prebble said Husky should be required to install the latest spill detection technology, have automatic pipeline shutoff valves and install heavier walled pipes at river crossings.“Those kind of measures are going to be important requirements.”