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Indian nurses freed in Iraq, to reach Kerala tomorrow

Indian nurses freed in Iraq, to reach Kerala tomorrow
7/4/2014 3:25:05 PM

All 46 Indian women nurses seized by Sunni insurgents in Iraq were freed Friday and will fly to Kerala Saturday morning, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy announced.

The chief minister said in a telephonic interview from New Delhi that he will be in Kochi to receive the nurses Saturday when they return in a special Air India flight.

The nurses, all from Kerala, are safe, official sources said.

Chandy told IANS that the nurses were being taken in a bus from Mosul, which they reached Thursday evening from Tikrit, to Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan.

"An Air India plane will leave Delhi Friday evening to Erbil to fetch them back," the chief minister said.

"There will be one official each from the Kerala and central governments on the plane," he said. "The nurses will board the flight at Erbil and the plane will reach Kochi at 7 a.m. tomorrow."

One nurse in the bus sent an SMS to IANS promising to call soon.

The development triggered a wave of joy in Kerala, where nursing is a major profession and whose nurses serve in hospitals all across India and in many countries.

The family of one of the nurses added that all of them were on their way from Mosul to Erbil, 60 km away.

A group of Keralites and Indian embassy officials from Baghdad were at the border of Kurdistan to receive the nurses, an official source told IANS.

"They have to cross three or four checkposts at the Kurdistan border," the official added. "Our people are there at the final checkpost."

The chief minister, who has been camping in New Delhi since the crisis erupted, said the latest development took place due to the efforts of the Kerala and the central governments.

He had earlier met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and expressed confidence that the nurses would return to Kerala soon.

"A high-level crisis management group under the leadership of Sushma Swaraj has been formed. It will be doing everything to see that the nurses are brought back safely," he said.

Chandy requested the media not to go overboard while reporting the crisis.

The 46 nurses were put on a bus from Tikrit Thursday afternoon by armed militants and driven to Mosul.

Their shifting caused panic, with some reports suggesting that the nurses would be forced by the Sunni insurgents to work in hospitals controlled by them in Mosul, their stronghold.

But the situation changed dramatically Friday morning when the militants, after serving breakfast, allowed them to speak over the telephone to their families in Kerala.

It was the first definitive indication that the nurses were set to taste freedom.

No hike of LPG, kerosene prices: Ministry

No hike of LPG, kerosene prices: Ministry
7/4/2014 3:33:30 PM

Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan said Friday there is no proposal to increase rates of subsidised LPG, kerosene and diesel.

"There is no such proposal with the government," Pradhan said with reference to a report that his ministry is considering a note to the cabinet for raising kerosene and LPG prices as recommended by an expert committee.

The Kirit Parikh panel has recommended raising kerosene prices by Rs.4-5 per litre and LPG by Rs.250 per cylinder.

"It is clarified that the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural gas is not proposing any increase in their prices", the ministry said in a statement here.

Pradhan also said, there is no fresh proposal to increase LPG prices or to change the duty structure on diesel.

State-run oil marketing companies Wednesday increased prices of non-subsidised cooking gas or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) by Rs.16.50 per cylinder and aviation turbine fuel ( ATF) or jet fuel by over half percent as global crude prices surged due to the Iraq crisis.

SC asks Centre to take quick decision on fate of Delhi Assembly

SC asks Centre to take quick decision on fate of Delhi Assembly
8/5/2014 2:19:13 PM
The Supreme Court Tuesday asked the central government to take a decision on the fate of the Delhi assembly which was placed under suspended animation after the AAP government resigned Feb 14. PTI file photoThe Supreme Court today asked the Centre to take a decision on dissolution of Delhi Assembly "one way or another" within five weeks, questioning it for continuing to keep the house in suspended animation when no party is coming forward to form the government.

"One party says it does not want to form government. Other says it cannot. Third party has no strength. In a situation like this why should people suffer?" it asked.

A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Justice H L Dattu also asked as why MLAs be paid from taxpayers' money for sitting idle due to assembly kept in suspended animation.

The apex court asked Additional Solicitor General P L Narasimha to convey the "feeling" of the court on the issue to appropriate authority.

"I think they(authorities) will take a decision," Justice Dattu said while adjourning the plea of Aam Aadmi Party for dissolution of assembly for five weeks.
"Why should tax payers money be paid to legislators who are not doing anything? Authority concerned should think and act," the bench also comprising justices J Chelameswar, A K Sikri, R K Agrawal and Arun Mishra said.

It asked the Centre what steps it has taken to explore the possibility of government formation during the last five months. President's rule was imposed on Delhi on February 17 with no party coming forward coming forward to stake claim for government formation after AAP government headed by leader Arvind Kejriwal resigned.

The petition filed by AAP sought a direction to the Lt Governor to dissolve Delhi Assembly and hold fresh polls.

It has challenged the decision to impose President's rule in Delhi on the recommendation of LG Najeeb Jung alleging that it was done to protect Congress leaders and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit from corruption charges.

The petition has said the order to impose President's rule was "illegal, arbitrary and in violation" of Article 14 of the Constitution as after the resignation of Arvind Kejriwal government neither BJP nor Congress were in a position to form the government and they had already expressed their unwillingness in this regard.

It has further raised constitutional questions to keep the assembly under suspended animation by ignoring the categorical recommendation of the majority government of the NCT of Delhi for dissolving the House.

BJP had emerged the single largest party after the assembly polls in December last year with 32 seats including ally Akali Dal's one MLA in the 70-member House.

BJP fell four seats short of a simple majority and had refused to form government, saying it did not have the numbers and will not resort to any "unfair means" to take the reins.

AAP with 28 MLAs had later formed the government with support of eight Congress MLAs. AAP's strength has also come down to 27 after expulsion of party MLA Vinod Kumar Binny.

BJP's number came down to 28 in the House in May after three of its legislators Harsh Vardhan, Ramesh Bidhuri and Pervesh Verma were elected to Lok Sabha. With the resignation of three MLAs, the strength of the assembly also went down to 67.

"We are not looking at political party before us. We are looking at the Delhi citizen's point of view...he may say he has elected a representative and he is drawing salary from taxpayers' money and sitting idle," the bench said.

It, however, turned down the plea of AAP which submitted that apex court should pass order so that elections in Delhi are held along with that of four other states later this year.
The apex court said it is for the appropriate authority to take a decision.