Tag Archives: some

Nadal’s absence good news for some

WASHINGTON: Rafael Nadal’s announcement that he will miss key US Open warm-up events at Toronto and Cincinnati with a right wrist injury will have some rivals ‘licking their chops’.

So says Wimbledon semi-finalist Milos Raonic, among those surprised to learn that the 28-year-old Spaniard, the reigning US Open champion, would be sidelined for the ATP Masters Series events.

“There’s a lot of people hungry in this sport,” Raonic said at the ATP and WTA Washington Open.

“It’s unfortunate to see him go but … there are too many that are hungry and are licking their chops.”

Doctors told Nadal that he must rest the injury, suffered in training on Tuesday, for two to three weeks. That will enhance the chances of rivals to capture a crown, including Canada’s seventh-ranked Raonic, even though such formidable foes as world number one Novak Djokovic and 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer remain in the fields the next two weeks.

“There’s nobody losing sleep over it,” said Raonic over Nadal’s absence. “Because everybody wants to make the most of the opportunities.”

However, fifth-ranked Czech Tomas Berdych said the game will miss Nadal.

“I wish him a fast recovery,” said Berdych. “To miss a player like Nadal a week or more, it’s always a shame.”

Tournament organisers, certainly, will miss having Nadal as a drawing card.

“He’s a great champion, and his run to the title last year electrified our fans,” said Cincinnati tournament director Vince Cicero.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2014.

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CM upset that some villages still don’t have gas

KARACHI: 

The Sindh government has decided that it is time to approach higher authorities – the federal government – over problems being caused by the Sui Southern Gas Company.

The provincial government claims that despite having paid the Rs6.5 billion, the gas company is reluctant to provide many villages in the province with gas. Chief Minister (CM) Qaim Ali Shah is unhappy with the company and expressed his dissatisfaction while presiding over a meeting at his residence on Monday.

“We have paid the amount in advance, nearly two years ago but this company has not completed this scheme [Village Gasification Plan] as yet,” some officials informed the CM.

Shah directed the officials to send another reminder to the company and the federal ministry to complete 1,108 schemes through which villages in the province would have gas by the end of the year.

They were informed that as many as 1,108 schemes of providing villages with gas were assigned to the SSGC in 2011 and the government had paid an advance of Rs6.5 billion. So far they had only completed 648 and another 460 remain. These cost at least Rs2.5 billion.

The CM told the officials that there was no justification as to why the projects hadn’t been completed because the gas company had been paid and all the schemes had been approved.

The senior general manager of the SSGC, Dr Ilyas, said that since 2008 they had received around 1,502 schemes out of which 648 had been completed. He added that the delay was caused due to certain limitations from the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2014.


Crying foul: No water for tail-enders as some growers go over their limit

KARACHI/MIRPURKHAS: 

The growers whose lands are located at the head of the irrigation system are so influential that they openly steal the water from the canals while the police don’t take any action despite repeated  requests’ by the irrigation department, The Express Tribune learnt on Friday.

The growers, whose lands are supplied water by the longest canal of the Nara Canal system, the Puran Shakh, staged a protest at Jamrao Canal on Friday. These growers own over 20,000 acres of land. They have warned the authorities to resolve their issues within 36 hours or they will take the law into their hands.

“We have not had water since the last three months,” said a grower, Zulfiqar Ali Kachelo. “We demand nothing but our due share of water,” he added. “It is a peaceful demonstration.”

Not just the growers, even the residents of Sindhri, Kunri, Kot Ghulam Muhammad and Jhudo talukas are facing an acute shortage of water for domestic use. Kachelo added that people living towards the tail-end of the Puran Canal were forced to migrate to other areas due to the shortage of water.

The Puran Shakh is about 27 miles long and growers who live at its head are found to be involved in stealing and stopping the water for those growers who live at the tail-end.

“It is a fault on the part of the administration,” lamented another grower. “Only if the law is implemented in letter and spirit, can the problem be resolved.” Explaining the situation in the area, Kachelo said that a landlord who owned 2,400 acres of land was not able to cultivate even 24 acres due to the lack of water. The growers and officials believe that those people who live at the head of the canal are more influential as they steal water and are not questioned by the law enforcement agencies.

Earlier, around 2,000 growers from different areas protested outside the Mirpurkhas Press Club. The growers gathered at Jarwari Chowk, from where they made their way to the office of the director of Nara Canal Area Water Board (NCAWB). The staff and officials fled from the office for fear of being attacked, before the protesters could reach it. Later, the growers moved to Jamrao Canal where they held a sit-in, saying that the protest would continue till their demands were met.

“Yes, this is a genuine issue,” agreed the director of the NCAWB Ghulam Mustafa Ujjan. “The growers are not being given their due share.” He said that the water shortage intensifies in May and June, adding that the growers at the head of the canal were largely responsible of the crisis. “We have registered FIRs against the people involved in water theft.”

An official who wished not be named said that the growers were so ‘influential’ that the police couldn’t take action against them. “The water crisis in the area will not be resolved unless such people are arrested and legal action is taken against them,” he added.

“Ours is a 200-year-old village. We have never faced such a situation before,” said Sadique Dars of village Dost Muhammad Dars. “The state could do anything only if it was serious about resolving our problems,” he added.

According to some officials and growers there is complete ban on rice cultivation on Nara Canal, which starts from Khairpur and ends in Jhudo. Despite the ban, however, thousands of acres of land had been cultivated with the paddy crop.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2014.


Airborne threats: Washington seeks tighter security for some US-bound flights

WASHINGTON: US authorities plan to bolster security at some airports in Europe and the Middle East with direct flights to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

Amid concern terror groups are developing new explosives to circumvent airport security, US Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced unspecified steps that would be carried out in “the coming days,” without saying which airports would be affected.

“We are sharing recent and relevant information with our foreign allies and are consulting the aviation industry,” Johnson said in a statement.

After an assessment of security threats, Johnson said he had directed the Transportation Security Administration “to implement enhanced security measures in the coming days at certain overseas airports with direct flights to the United States.”

Johnson said that “we will continue to adjust security measures to promote aviation security without unnecessary disruptions to the traveling public.”

The airports were located in the Middle East and Europe, according to an official at the Department of Homeland Security, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Information about specific enhancements is sensitive as we do not wish to divulge information about specific layers of security to those who would do harm,” a second DHS official, who asked not to be named, told AFP.


Service delivery: USC finds some stores closed on 1st Ramazan

LAHORE: 

The Utility Stores Corporation (USC) administration on Monday inspected utility stores across the city to ensure that they remain opened to consumers on the first day of Ramazan.

Responding to reports about the closure of utility stores on Sunday, the USC said that while some stores were closed due to the annual audits, more than 75% of them remained operational. USC Lahore zonal manager Saghir Ahmed and USC Senior General Manager Masood Alam Niazi inspected the stores in Shadman, Model Town, Main Market, Riwaz Garden and on Shama Road. The USC operates 121 utility stores in two regions of the Lahore zone. Ahmed told The Express Tribune that utility stores remained operational across the city on Monday.

Utility stores in several areas, including Shadman, Ichhra and Samanabad, were closed for the annual audit on Sunday. Ahmed had said the USC was working to ensure that the audit was completed at the earliest to avoid any inconvenience to the consumers.

Utility stores across the city have been instructed to conduct the annual audit during the nights and keep serving consumer in daytime. “The audit has not been completed. We are trying to ensure that the exercise does not hamper services to the consumers,” Ahmed said.

Ahmed said that a majority of the stores had completed the June closing by Sunday night. The remaining, he said, were expected to carry out the audits by Monday night.

Despite the USC assurance, there were reports on Monday about closure of utility stores in some areas. Stores in Model Town, Shadman and Cavalry Ground areas were reported closed at different times through the day.

Ahmed said the store in Shadman was found closed during the inspection at around 10:30am. “While the store’s shutter was down, the staff was busy rearranging items,” he said. “We askedthem to continue serving the consumers while arranging the items.”

Ahmed said he would launch an inquiry into closure of some stores. “We are making inspection rounds and addressing complaints,” he said.

USC authorities said the audit was conducted at the end of June every year. But this year with the beginning of the month of Ramazan coinciding with the annual audit, the authorities said they had initiated the Ramazan package and subsidised prices a week ahead of the holy month to save the consumers from any impact on account of the audit.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2014.


Here are some of the best combinations of foods for Iftaar time

Slice the green chilies and clean the seeds. Make a paste of mayonnaise, peri sauce, shredded chicken and pepper and stuff it in the chillies. Dip them in egg and bread crumbs and then deep fry them.

Pita bread stuffed with chicken chunks, melted cheddar cheese and ketchup.

Kachoris with potatoes and ginger achaar.

Mash the eggs, add mayonnaise and pepper to them and spread the paste on a slice of bread.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2014.

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Karachi bleeds some more: Four people killed, as many bodies found

KARACHI: Two political workers were among four people killed in separate acts of target killings in the city. The bodies of four others were found from different areas on Wednesday.

A worker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, 45-year-old Abdul Razzak, son of Ghani Usman, was shot dead by unidentified persons in Korangi. Police officials said that unidentified assailants targeted him while he was sitting outside his house. The deceased was associated with MQM’s Unit-73. The motive behind the incident has yet to be ascertained.

Similarly, a leader of Peoples Youth Organisation was killed in an act of target killing near the Sindh Secretariat within the limits of Aram Bagh police station. The deceased was identified as 35-year-old Syed Saeed Shah, son of Bismillah Shah. Police officials said that the deceased was the president of PS-100 of the Peoples Youth Organisation. He was travelling on his motorcycle when unidentified assailants shot him dead. A passerby, Asif, was also injured in the attack.

Separately, a dealer of smuggled oil, 42-year-old Nawaz Ali, son of Ramzan was shot dead in an act of target killing in Fareed Colony, Orangi Town, within the limits of Mominabad police station. Police officials said that the deceased was a resident of Baldia Town.

In another incident, a father of three children was shot dead inside his home in Gulshan-e-Maymar. The deceased was identified as 35-year-old Dilawar Khan. Police officials said that the deceased used to work at New Sabzi Mandi on Super Highway.

Bodies found

A watchman, identified as 18-year-old Bilal Shabbir, was found dead from a house at Khayaban-e-Roomi, Defence Housing Authority, within the limits of Darakshan police station. Police officials said that the deceased had been working at a empty bungalow for the last three years. The owner of the bungalow lives in Lahore. The officer added that unidentified persons had killed him, apparently over personal enmity.

The body of a young man was found from Manghopir road within the limits of Manghopir police station. He has yet to be identified. Police officials said that the deceased was shot once in the head. The body was moved to Edhi morgue for identification.

An elderly woman and her granddaughter were found dead from inside their home in Landhi Zone. Their bodies were taken to Jinnah Postgradaute Medical Centre. The deceased were identified as Noor Jahan and her granddaughter, Neha Saleem. Police officials said that they were murdered by unidentified assailants.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2014.


Tax rates vary: CCP questions benefits given to some fertiliser plants

ISLAMABAD: 

The anti-trust watchdog has questioned the grant of Rs4 billion in undue benefits by the government to fertiliser plants set up after 2001 by charging a higher levy from other producers and has called for an end to the discriminatory practice.

In this regard, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) on Thursday issued a policy note to the federal government, highlighting anti-competitive practices that were also fueling increase in urea prices to the disadvantage of farmers.

It asked the government to apply a similar rate of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) to all fertiliser producers in order to create a level-playing field in the urea market.

It suggested to the government to withdraw the GIDC on feedstock of fertiliser plants set up before 2001 and said the second schedule of the GIDC Act may be amended to rationalise the cess on fuel gas used by the plants. This would eliminate the cost disadvantage to pre-2001 plants, it said.

The recommendations come at a time when the government is already facing criticism for increasing GIDC in the new budget that opposition lawmakers believe is contrary to provincial autonomy.

They argue that the government cannot revise the tax on gas without consulting the provinces, as enshrined in the constitution.

In the policy note, the CCP observed that feed gas was a major (80%) raw material used in the production of urea fertiliser. A lower rate of feed gas coupled with exemption from GIDC for post-2001 fertiliser plants had resulted in a price difference of Rs355 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) for feed gas between the pre- and post-2001 plants.

This cost disadvantage made it difficult for older plants to compete with newer ones, it said.

Despite paying no levies, according to the CCP, the fertiliser plants set up after 2001 were selling urea at the same price as that charged by plants established before 2001. This resulted in consumer loss of Rs28.1 billion and gave undue profit of Rs11.2 billion to post-2001 plants.

The CCP said after December 2013 amendments to the GIDC Act, the cost difference in feed gas had increased and currently stood at Rs355 per mmbtu, resulting in higher than normal profit of Rs4 billion only in the first quarter of 2014 in respect of feed gas cost savings.

The selective tax levy, it said, had placed the fertiliser sector in a catch-22 situation. “If post-2001 plants sell urea at a price based on their cost of feed gas, they will certainly sell at a much lower price than that of pre-2001 plants and will drive the latter out of the market.”

This will completely be the antithesis of the Fertiliser Policy 2001 as investment will be driven out of the market and domestic production will decrease.

On the other hand, if post-2001 plants sell urea at a price based on the cost of feed gas for pre-2001 plants, the price will certainly not be the competitive price and farmers will end up paying much higher rates.

According to the CCP, because of the policy adopted by the government, distortions have been created in the market, resulting in farmers paying higher prices.

It pointed out that the distortive policy was having a multiplier effect as high urea prices were now pushing up prices of crops, particularly of staple food. It also has had a cascading effect on every industry connected with the agricultural produce.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2014.

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