Desi Tribune Usa Daily Usa News Updates No 1
Sonia and Mr. Q, the Bofors man
Exactly a fortnight ago, Congress party president Sonia Gandhi had unveiled a four-point action plan to intensify the battle against corruption. The time to act has come now. Addressing the Congress plenary session on Dec 20, 2010, a Monday, Sonia Gandhi had promised fast-tracking all cases of corruption involving public servants. And as an aside, she had said that this included politicians, including herself. Her other promise: “full transparency” in public procurement and contracts. Now that the Bofors has risen like a ghost again, it is time for the Congress party president to ‘fast track’ this case and ensure ‘full transparency in public Procurement and contracts.’ The more Sonia and her men like Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily and spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi try to bury the Bofors kickback scam, the more it raises its hood to remind everyone of a scandal that had the late Rajiv Gandhi and his Italian friend Ottavio Quattrocchi in the firing line. On Jan 3, 2011, another Monday, the Income-Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT) held that kickbacks were paid to the late Win Chadha and Quattrocchi in the Bofors gun deal and they were liable to pay tax in India on such income.
This is the first official acknowledgment that money changed hands in the Bofors deal. The tribunal cited the CBI investigation, the agency’s charge sheet in the case, the JPC Report into the Bofors scam, the letters exchanged between the governments of India and Sweden, the report of the Swedish governments Audit Department SNAB and other material evidence to point out that kickbacks were indeed paid. This is the same case wherein the CBI had filed a closure report stating that tracing Quattrocchi or trying for his arrest was impossible. As BJP MP Arun Jaitley pointed out: “Clearly the entire fraud perpetrated on the country by the CBI at the behest of political masters in the Congress stands unravelled.” Mr. Q was known to be close to the Gandhi family and had managed to flee India in 1993 even as a CBI case was filed on kickbacks in the Bofors deal. So, will Sonia Gandhi set an example by fast-tracking the Rs 64 cr kickbacks received in the purchase of 400 155-mm howitzers from Swedish firm AB Bofors? Will she pursue the truth instead of pointing fingers at Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa (not that the ‘do biga zameen’ man is Lilly white)? Will the Congress party president bring full transparency to the contract that shamed the nation and the armed forces? Jaitley has a point when he said: “the (IT) order has come as a timely reminder for Sonia Gandhi that the country does not need four points to fight corruption. Only one point is enough and sufficient to fight corruption….Start sending those guilty of corruption to jail. Itll act as a deterrent…Do not cover up.” Will the Congress president pursue the money stashed in Swiss banks? The time to act has come right at the beginning of a new year.
50 per cent garbage collection trucks deployed to clear snow
Garbage is the new snow in New York City. Bags of trash tower on the sidewalks outside apartment buildings, while garbage cans left buried since the city’s last pickup, on Christmas Eve, poke through dirty mounds of melting snow. New Yorkers still cursing City Hall for seldom-seen plows after the Christmas weekend snowstorm are transferring their ire to garbage trucks, which will make their first reappearances on Monday. Alternate-side parking rules will still be suspended.
But the Sanitation Department said it would resume residential garbage collection beginning Monday at 7 a.m. in only a limited fashion. We will have 50 percent of normal collection trucks out, said Keith W. Mellis, a department spokesman. We still have 50 percent of the trucks out for snow-clearing operations. Those who get regular Monday garbage collection, he said, should put their trash (including Christmas trees) outside, but not items to be recycled. Workers will collect the bags. Eventually. We will be behind, Mr. Mellis acknowledged. We’re going to be working on Monday’s material on Tuesday. As soon as we finish Monday’s, we’ll get to Tuesday’s. He added that he could not say exactly when trash would be collected because that depended on which districts needed more crews to remove snow. The lack of specifics left some city leaders fuming. It could mean too much garbage will end up being on our streets for too long, and the likelihood of rat and health issues arising will increase with each passing day, City Councilman James Vacca, a Bronx Democrat, said in an e-mail. If these problems occur, those who thought snow removal was problematic will have seen nothing yet. Most city residences have not had trash collected since Christmas Eve. Councilman Vincent Ignizio, a Republican from Staten Island, said in an e-mail that the trash problem was just the continuation of a poorly implemented snow-removal plan. In Astoria, Queens, several people walking on Broadway on Sunday morning registered their disgust. All the bags are ripping open, probably from the weight of the snow and other garbage bags piled on top, said Gretchen Strejc, 31, a chef. It’s warming out and it’s going to start intensifying the flavor of the bags. Health concerns aside, there was one instance on Sunday where piles of garbage might have saved someone’s life. In Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn, residents were busily clearing paths for sanitation workers. At one six-story building on Greenwood Avenue, more than 40 bags were neatly tied and arranged on the sidewalk.
They are not going to climb over snow to get to our garbage, said Arlene Catapano, 54, a crossing guard. But that can-do attitude was the exception. Near Central Park North, Mohammad Taha, 26, standing outside 1295 Fifth Avenue, where bags formed a six-foot wall lining the sidewalk, was skeptical that sanitation workers would get to his building at the beginning of the week. It will be just like the snow, he said. God knows if they’re ever going to come.
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