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Govt to push for passage of bills to replace ordinances

The government will try to push for the passage of six bills to replace ordinances in the first half of the Budget Session of Parliament beginning February 23.

New Delhi: The government will try to push for the passage of six bills to replace ordinances in the first half of the Budget Session of Parliament beginning February 23.

A meeting of secretaries of various departments, convened by the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, today decided that the main thrust of the government would be the passage of six bills on ordinances -- land acquisition, e-rickshaws, FDI in insurance sector, mines and minerals, coal and Citizenship Act -- which were promulgated in the last one-and-half months.

While the ordinances on land acquisition and e-rickshaws are fresh, bills on the remaining four ordinances are pending in Parliament.

The government will utilise the second part of the Budget Session beginning April 20 to push for the passage of various pending and proposed bills, sources said after the meeting.

A total of 66 bills, including nine in Rajya Sabha, are pending.

Among the bills the government proposes to introduce are Amendments to the Whistleblowers Protection Act, The Rights to Services and Grievances Redress Bill, Amendment to the Inter-state Water Dispute Act, The Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill, The Recognition of New Systems of Medicine Bill, Amendment to the National Commission for Women Act, and the Andra Pradesh Reorganisation (Second Amendment) Bill, the sources said.

They said during the one-hour long meeting in Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, officials examined the status of the progress in respect of the action to be taken for replacing these ordinances with bills.

"All ministries concerned are on track doing the needful

for introduction of bills replacing the ordinances in the first half of the Budget Session," a source in the Ministry said.

The government is especially under pressure to legislate the ordinances on insurance sector and the coal sector so that the new systems in place for attracting FDI in insurance and for auctioning of coal blocks are not disturbed.

As per the rules, an ordinance has to be converted into legislation within 42 days of commencement of Parliament session or else it will lapse. Once promulgated, an ordinance can be re-promulgated a second time.

A day after President Pranab Mukherjee voiced his objection to the 'ordinance route', senior ministers had on January 20 met to discuss how the recent ordinances can be replaced by legislative action in the Budget Session.

After the ministers' meeting, the Cabinet Committee of Parliamentary Affairs (CCPA) had met the next day and decided the schedule of the Budget Session.

Today's meeting is a follow-up to earlier deliberations on the ordinance issue, the sources said.

In the session, the General Budget will be presented on February 28, which will be preceded by the Economic Survey on February 27 and the Railway Budget on February 26.

The first part of this session will continue till March 20. The second part will commence after a month-long recess from April 20. The session will conclude on May 8.

While the first part of the session is to have 26 sittings, the second part will have 19 sittings. PTChad air force bombs Boko Haram out of Nigerian border town

Maiduguri (Nigeria), Jan 30 (AP) A Chadian warplane and ground troops drove Boko Haram fighters from a Nigerian border town, leaving it strewn with the bodies of the Islamic extremists, witnesses said today.

The African Union moved to send ground forces to Nigeria and the US said it would assist yesterday's fighting marked the first such action by foreign troops on Nigerian soil to fight the Islamic extremists.

The African Union chairwoman, at an AU summit in Ethiopia, called for deployment of 7,500 African troops to fight the spreading Islamic uprising by Nigeria's home-grown extremists.

A senior US official told reporters that the United States government will take a role in the fight against Boko Haram.

"We are prepared to provide technical support, training and equipment to fight the Boko Haram group. The group's activity in the region has clearly affected our attention in Africa away from development," said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa.

Abari Modu said he witnessed the Chadian offensive on Malumfatori village in Nigeria's Borno state.

"We saw the fighter jet when it started shelling and bombarding the insurgents who were lodging mostly inside the local government secretariat and the district head's palace," he told The Associated Press.

He said the bodies of many Boko Haram fighters were still in the town today morning. Modu spoke by telephone after crossing the border from a Chadian village where he had sought refuge after Boko Haram seized Malumfatori at the end of October.

He said the Chadian jet had pursued fleeing fighters to the border, and that the bombardment was coordinated with Chadian ground troops, offering the fighters no escape.

A Nigerian military officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, confirmed the account. There was no immediate official word from Nigerian authorities about the Chadian offensive.

Boko Haram's five-year Islamic uprising has killed about 10,000 people in the last year and displaced 1 million people. AU Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma called for the deployment of 7,500 troops to combat Boko Haram.