New Delhi: The Union government on Wednesday relented to both the Supreme Court’s suggestion and public outcry and said it would consider an alternative alignment for the controversial Ram Sethu project. The counsel informed the court that the government would constitute an expert committee to do so.
The project, sanctioned by the government in July 2005, involves dredging a channel through a walkway—believed by some to have been built by the Hindu god Ram—between India and Sri Lanka to reduce shipping times. Last August, the Supreme Court had issued a stay order on all dredging at the site.
Agitated: A file photo of activists in New Delhi protesting against the Sethusamudram project
Senior counsel Fali Nariman, appearing for the Union government, told the court he had been instructed through a letter dated 29 July from cabinet secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar to inform the court of the government’s decision to set up a six- member expert committee headed by Rajendra K. Pachauri, director general of The Energy and Resources Institute and former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which won the Nobel Peace Prize last year. The committee also includes experts such as T. Chakrabarti, director, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, and P. M. Tajale, director general of the Kolkata-based Geological Survey of India.
“The committee will quickly examine the feasibility of the alternative alignment suggested by the Supreme Court for the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project...keeping in view the technical aspects, cost-benefit analysis, social and cultural impact, environmental impact, law and order aspects and any other related matter,” said the order passed by the Prime Minister’s Office annexed to the letter.
Over the last two weeks, the court has been hearing arguments to lift its stay order. Petitioners opposed the project on religious, environmental and economic grounds. “We reserve our judgement, ” said Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan after the petitioners completed arguments. He also directed the petitoners to take two weeks to file written submissions. The matter returns to the court after the committee has submitted its report.
Ethics?in human drug trials not?critical in India: study
Mumbai: A survey of 31 Indian clinical trial professionals has revealed that only a third of them considered ethical principles to be “critical” in the performance of their job, exposing a worryingly casual attitude towards issues such as safety in human drug trials.
About half those polled said ethical guidelines were “important” without being critical and the remaining five rated them not important, said the study published in the July issue of “CRFocus”, a journal of the UK’s Institute of Clinical Research.
Of the respondents, 15 were from Indian clinical research organizations, or CROs, six from multinational pharmaceutical firms, five represented multinational CROs, three worked at Indian drug firms, and two were from academic medical institutions.
“Though the size of the sample was small, the findings are more relevant as the repondents were professionals who are actually responsible for conducting studies, and ought to be aware of these safety aspects and their importance,” said C.J. Shishoo, director of the Ahmedabad-based Consumer Education Research Centre, and a former principal of the L.M. College of Pharmacy in the city.
Safety and informed consent of those undergoing drug trials, which are part of ethical principles for clinical research professionals, are critical under Indian and global laws, and rating these aspects as anything other than “critical” is inappropriate, experts say. “The sample survey, to a great extent, shows a casual attitude among the investigators and study managers about the ethical issues involved in drug trials,” said Arun Bhatt, president of Clininvent Research Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based CRO, and co-athor of the report. C.H. Unnikrishnan
Jamia Millia to set up Independence museum
New Delhi:City-based Central university Jamia Millia Islamia plans to set up a museum devoted to India’s independence. To be tentatively called The Independence Experience, this is being touted as the first of its kind museum in the country. Human resource development minister Arjun Singh is expected to lay the foundation stone for the museum on 9 August.
The project, being backed by Zee TV and Paris-based Maison des Science de l’Homme, is expected to get a grant of Rs60 crore. The ministry, which oversees education, has already recommended the grant for the project to be released through the University Grants Commission, a regulatory body under the ministry. The proposed museum would be built over a 5-acre plot on the university campus, it said in a press release. Staff Writer
Students to come under point-based visa system
New Delhi: The British government will bring foreign students into its points-based visa system, which will over this year and next replace 80 separate categories under which immigrants could apply for a visa.
Instead, it will use a five-tier, points-based system that gives credit for education and previous wages, though not for accomplishment in life or potential. It is the biggest change to the immigration system since the 1960s.
The new rules mean universities and colleges will have to report students who fail to attend courses, and obtain a special licence if they wish to train students from overseas, said a release from the British High Commission in New Delhi. These arrangements will protect students from bogus colleges. Any education provider who fails to follow the new rules risk a ban on recruiting students in the future and bogus colleges will be shut down.
Students will need to be sponsored by a licensed education institution and obtain an identity card in advance, have a good academic track record and demonstrate they can financially support themselves and any dependants. They will also need to apply for a course that leads to an approved level of qualification.
Indian students represent the second largest number of foreign students in higher education in the UK. In 2007, almost 22,000 student visas were issued across India, representing a 10% increase on 2006. Aparna Kalra & Bloomberg
Sebi details initial public offering reforms plan
Mumbai: Capital market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, or Sebi, on Tuesday announced detailed plans on the implementation of the alternative payment mechanism for initial public offerings (IPOs) and rights issues. Under the new norms for an alternative payment mechanism for IPOs, application money for IPOs will remain in an investor’s bank account until the allotment of shares is finalized.
Banks will send information related to an investor’s IPO application to the issue registrars within a day of the closing date. The registrar will check application data within 11 days, and on the following day submit the basis of allotment to bourses. Banks will transfer investors’ money to the issuer after approval and the shares will be credited to bank accounts on the fifteenth day, Sebi said. Khushboo Narayan